Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 2016 Links to Absorb

June Ends
Considering how it is just June, it has been absurdly hot where I live. How about we stay indoors at peak daylight and and I share some interesting pieces from across, "The interweb," with you? Kids call it that, right?

Stuff of Interest
The music of Kanye West--specifically, "Power," plays an interesting role during a mission in, "Saints Row: The Third," which is a really solid game too. This article discusses that a bit.

"The Authority," under the pen of Warren Ellis and Mark Millar with the art of Bryan Hitch basically was a wide-screen super-hero movie before they really took off to the degree they have now (and yes, I'm aware, "The Ultimates," formed the basis of much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but those films didn't start till 2008).

So, "Brexit." What a mess, eh? Seriously though, to think the UK's voters would just say, "Screw you guys," to the EU is shocking and the fallout the country may face is a good warning of what the U.S. could be due for if that moron Donald Trump is elected President.

While we're on the subject of politics, I wrote an article long ago about two conservatives I may often disagree with but at least listen to. George Will is one of them, and he actually officially left the Republican Party due to his disgust with Donald Trump. Damn, that's intense.

The 1990's were a time when our comic-book heroes had big guns and even bigger shoulder-pads. Funny to think a style that was reviled for quite some time afterward now gives us a tinge of nostalgia.

My post about the, "Eve of E3," went up before the official trailer for, "Detroit: Become Human," was unveiled a few hours later. By the makers of the superb, "Heavy Rain," I am indeed very interested.
I loved the movie, "Doctor Strangelove," so you can bet I'm eager to watch this free short-ish (46 minutes-long) documentary about its creation.

I haven't played all the games listed, but based on the ones that I have I would say this list of games you can play on your iPhone without using data or needing Wi-Fi is pretty handy

Lastly, I attended Pride Saint Louis 2016 to both assist with an event for work, and then to browse around and see all the cool stuff on display. It was another great year.

Entering July
That's my links for the end of June. Now we approach July in all its hot, rainy, and firework-filled glory (the 4th of July always gets noisy here in the States).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Three Great Saint Louis-Based Comic Shops

Let's Go Shopping!
I live within the region of Saint Louis. Made-up of the city of Saint Louis and the county of Saint Louis, there is in fact a good number of comic shops in our area. There are three in particular I wanted to spotlight as they all are snazzy and worth stopping-by should you live in or visit the region. Plus, unlike some of the chain-comic shops that have multiple stores around here and other places, these are all independent and locally owned. I thought I would list them in order from the one that has been around the longest to the newest store. Let's discuss!

The Stores To Visit
Newcastle Comics
Newcastle Comics has been around a number of years and is the first shop I visited upon moving to Saint Louis in 2011! You see, before I moved from Upstate NY to this region I called various shops to ask questions about what they carried and to get a, "Feel," for how they were over the phone. That initial time I called Newcastle Comics I spoke with the owner, Steve. He was very nice and conversational. That gave me a good feeling about Newcastle Comics that continued when I went to the store and found myself impressed by their wide array of new release, back-issues, and a solid collection of trades. Plus, if you're a fan of tabletop games or card-titles such as, "Magic: The Gathering," they sell those products and have events for players as well.

Located in Maryland Heights at 2204 McKelvey Road, Newcastle Comics has continued to impress me over the years and has earned my steadfast patronage with its great selection and friendly staff. Check-out their website here!
AM Trading Co.
AM Trading Co. came into existence a couple years ago. At a location formerly known as, "Annie Moon's Bakery," this comic shop began buying, selling, and (as the name indicates) trading comics. I've chatted with two co-owners, Mike and Roxanne, on numerous occasions and their love of comics is equaled only by their superb customer service. AM Trading Co. has a ton of comics both newer and older, and carries a great degree of independent titles--which is always awesome. Plus, they have a delightful assortment of toys and figurines ranging from newer to older. Oh, and they of course have much-beloved Funko Pops! AM Trading Co. has gaming events as well and just has a really cool and chill vibe that makes it seem extra-inviting. Plus, with their event-space they are always ready for a game of Dungeons and Dragons to break-out or any other fun event to start-up!

AM Trading Co. is found at 4005 Utah Street, Saint Louis (in, "South City," as folks call it) and you can learn more about them at their website here. As AM Trading Co. continues to grow I look forward to their continued success!
The Dark Side Comics and Games
The Dark Side Comics and Games is a newer store that has been open less than a year but which has already impressed me with their store and great customer service (you may have noticed superb customer service as a running theme in these entries). Owned by a husband and wife team, I've spoken with the husband, Scott, a number of times and he and his wife's commitment to not only wanting to have a store but also a place members of the community can gather and have fun at is an awesome goal to have. One thing you immediately notice when you step into The Dark Side Comics and Games is how it defies the stereotype of comic shops being dim and dingy with its bright lighting and relaxing modern setting of multiple tables, chairs, and other comfy seats. It helps create an encouraging atmosphere to buy some comics to kick-back and read, or for you topurchase some gaming supplies and begin a game.

The Dark Side Comics and Games has their store at 48 Clarkson Wilson Center in Chesterfield. You can visit their website at this address and I'm excited to watch as Scott and his wife attract more and more customers to their great shop!

Why Aren't You Shopping Yet?
When it comes to comic shops within Saint Louis these three are all stellar and have qualities that make each worth checking-out. Give them all a visit and have fun, I know I do anytime I visit one of these shops!

Note: None of the stores discussed offered me any form of compensation for my article, and some did not even know I was going to write this piece. I just wrote this because I wanted share my thoughts about the stellar shops in Saint Louis!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Film Friday: 10 Cloverfield Lane

I'll preface this by saying what I'm writing here is not a review so much as it is a discussion of if the, "Cloverfield," brand in the title helps or hurts the film--and there are plentiful spoilers about the ending, but honestly, if you know anything about the original, "Cloverfield," movie that came out long ago much is already spoiled for you.

"10 Cloverfield Lane," after a quick opening ,becomes an intense psychological thriller about three people stuck in an underground bunker together, with one quite clearly in charge (Jon Goodman). It's at times scary (Goodman is imposing), at other points heartwarming (Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Junior's character strike up a sweet friendship). You wonder who is telling the truth, how violent things could get, and otherwise are at the edge of your seat. Then Winstead's character escapes with 15-ish minutes left in the movie and suddenly it becomes a sci-fi action flick where she fights some aliens. It is a bit of a jarring shift in tone but the earlier 9/10th of the movie help make-up for how it feels like they just haphazardly stapled the end of a completely different film onto this one. That isn't even a joke, Producer JJ Abrams (whose production company created the first, "Cloverfield,") made this movie by taking much of the script of a different film and changing it to fit as a spiritual-successor of sorts for, "Cloverfield."
The small cast accomplishes a lot.
Ah, there's the crux of it. This isn't really a, "Cloverfield," sequel, nor does it have the same aliens. Hell, this may not even take-place in the same movie-Universe. No, if anything, "Cloverfield," is a theme and from what I've seen in interviews it seems like Abrams idea is to have movies take place under the, "Cloverfield,"style of banner where they link-up thematically, even if they are completely separate movies--sort of the idea that was had to do with the, "Halloween," series starting with the 3rd entry of the franchise (but in this case without wholly failing). Were, "10 Cloverfield Lane," simply, "The Cellar," or any other name, it maybe wouldn't have gotten the attention it did--which would be a shame as the other big point to make is that this is a really good and quite scary least until that last bit where things get weird.

The biggest problem this movie has is that with the word, "Cloverfield," in the title we already know the person who claims something bad is happening up top is correct. The words sandwiched between "10," and, "Lane," make that abundantly clear. The parts of the movie featuring everyone stuck together underground are so claustrophobic, intense, and otherwise terrifying that once things open-up onto the surface it just feels like a completely different movie that still has the same main character. To director Dan Trachtenberg's credit, he doesn't let this late-swerve in the story ruin our fondness for the other majority of the movie, and the last parts aren't even bad--they just really don't feel like they belong in the same damn movie other than because of the rules imposed by that C-word in the title.
It's literally a claustrophobic film till sudden changes at the end.
 "10 Cloverfield Lane," is a strange beast, feeling like one kind of film most of the time and suddenly morphing into something else at the end. To its credit the impressive nature of everything that comes before it all gets weird results in a movie that I still would recommend watching--even all the way through to its foregone conclusion of, "Hey, the aliens are here after all!" Still, the overall idea that the worst monsters may be the people we think we know (Jon Goodman does not play a nice person in this) is apparent no matter how bizarre the flick gets. So yes, issues with how it goes bonkers aside, I liked this, and think you might too. Best case scenario you love it and defend it against criticism, or worst comes to worst you can always join the backlash.
3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rant-Reviews: The Real and the Fantastical

Imaginary Reality
Some comics take reality and smash it up against the fantastical. With a mixture of things that seem possible as well as the impossible a great blend can be made. The comics below have a variety of fantastical elements that play a major role in creating their tales.

Entering a New World
The Joyners #1
Fantastical Element: It's the future and our technology has advanced, but of course it goes horribly wrong.
As I understand it (and somewhat recall), this was originally a big graphic novel that could be read with 3-D glasses. Now however it is being collected in a monthly format minus the 3-D aspect and in standard color. I don't think the book suffers too much from the lack of the extra dimension, as the artwork by David Marquez and Kelly Fitzpatrick works well with the writing of R.J. Ryan to create a sci-fi tale that has my interest piqued. We open in a prologue that is also the end of the story it appears, where things have gotten to a bad point for our characters, then jump to the past to witness the discussion of a new invention that is going to change everything for the better. Clearly, if the main character ruined things that isn't the case.

The artwork is gorgeous and I said the story has my attention, but one huge flaw is you can really tell this was originally written for trade as this first of the four issues comes-off as really decompressed. A ton of questions are raised with nearly none answered, which makes sense if it's the first chapter of a book, but when you're serializing a story you've gotta give the reader something to grab onto. The lack of answers doesn't upset me as much as this reviewer, but clearly others are a bit perturbed too. My concerns about how serialization will impact the story may hopefully be addressed by a 2nd issue that explains more, but for now I'm mostly confused, but at least have some great artwork to be confused with.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Dark #1
Fantastical Element: It's a quiet forest, with something horrible lurking in it.
Suppose that the legends of Sasquatch were a bit wrong. Imagine that the theoretically hairy big creature were in a fact a hideous witch who wears the skin of her victims. Yeah, that's terrifying. Writer and artist Kelly Williams fills us in about the witch and sets up a lot of story before a very scary conclusion. This is labeled as, "Chapter One: Boo Hag," so I'm thinking future issues will tackle other things that lurk in the dark (hence the title). Williams says a bit more in the back about the Boo Hag and how the idea of it draws from a variety of mythologies and I appreciated the extra history.

Williams art is minimalist yet expressive, with the grotesque imagery appearing as really unpleasant (which is the intention). I'm just tickled by the concept that the potentially big, smelly, and hairy creature we all talk about could very well be a shriveled-up and hideous witch. This was a great first issue and has me excited for future ones. As this is a digital comic from Alterna you can find it here and purchase a copy for your enjoyment.
4 out of 5 stars.

I Hate Fairyland #6
Fantastical Element: An adult trapped in a child's body is forced to live in a magical land she despises.
Writer and artist Skottie Young admits to pulling a bit of a bait-and-switch this issue in the back-matter, as when (spoiler) Gertrude is only briefly queen despite having taken on the role at the end of the last arc it is a bit surprising. Young says how this allows him to have her go back out into the magical world, and it's his story so he can do whatever he wants. Regardless of the power Gertrude is or isn't wielding however, her snark and attitude always are awesome. The weird mixture of adorable artwork and gore still impresses and I really get the vibe that Young is happy to let out some twisted dark humor after doing all those books that were strictly kid-geared for years.

While the art and humor continue to be great, honestly not that much occurs this issue. Gertrude whines about being bored and things are a little more dull than some previous issues. It could be due to the fact that this is the start of a new arc that it feels that way, but at least--as I've said--things look awesome and are hilarious.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #98
Fantastical Element: Witches and ghosts go up against criminals
"Tarot," is a comic that I at first found incredibly weird when I first started reading it. I was at times a little tough on it in old reviews, but then I started to enjoy it more and more as I kept picking it up to the point now it is one of my favorite books. As we near the 100th issue, which will feature the wedding of Tarot and her fiancé Jon, this issue actually has them out doing their own things until they meet-up at the end to relax after a long night.

In this issue Jon fights some grave-robbing criminals and Tarot wraps-up a loose end of fighting an old foe. Jim Balent and Holly Golightly turn in a great comic with the scenes featuring Jon being full of action and Tarot's part of the comic having a strong horror-element as she faces-off against an eerie Doll-Woman she beat once before. I like the way that the Tarot comics feature a world that seems normal but reveals such an image to be a paper-thin veneer hiding a whole world full of weird and magical stuff. I look forward to the next issue and am even more excited for when it hits triple digits!
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Vote Loki #1
Fantastical Element: The God of Lies runs for actually not that unrealistic.
This comic hits really uncomfortably close to home. In its process of Loki saying how he might run for President and stating, "If I were your President, I'd have the guts to lie right to your face. And you'd love it," is grotesque in how right now in the real world we see the American people loving it when they are lied to by someone whom it is proven repeatedly tells falsehoods (I'm talking about Trump, in case you live under a rock). Characters in the comic talk about how politicians shift stories to fit their statements, and when followers are faced with evidence to the contrary it simply hardens their beliefs. The whole thing reads like a startlingly accurate take on American politics that happens to feature the Trickster God running for President, and looking really popular whilst doing so.

It's an amazing comic that is full of humor, but the kind of humor that makes you laugh and then feel really troubled about how you're laughing at something quite accurate. The anxiety comes from the fact that a hero known for lying seems to take so well to politics, because it is absolutely terrifying to think the personification of falsehoods and trickery fits perfectly as a candidate for the highest office in our Nation. This is a book to follow without a doubt.
5 out of 5 stars.

Fantasies Fulfilled...Wait, that Sounds Vaguely Dirty
Now that we have run through some comics with a mixture of the fantastical and more realistic it is clear that injecting a bit of imagination into our more normal reality almost always makes for something fun to read. At the end of the day our comics have gotta entertain us after all!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Zack Snyder is (Apparently) So Very, Very Sorry for, "Batman Vs Superman," but in a Passive-Aggressive Way

This article about some reporters being on the set of the, "Justice League," movie coming out in 2017 is an odd read. It is weird because more than half the article is basically Zack Snyder and his film crew apologizing for, "Batman VS Superman," but then walking back the apologies a bit to the point where it is sort of a half-apology? The reporters saw scenes being filmed that it is pointed out have more levity than, "BVS," or its predecessor, "Man of Steel,"--and the article almost reads as if the set had a tone of, "Look, we've added humor, are you happy now?"

Snyder makes it clear he understands people didn't always like the dark tone of the other flicks, but says things like how the, "BVS," movie had to dig down into the heroes but now they can be lighter--again he's basically saying, "I'm sorry, but I think I was right...I"ll give you what you want now though." Time will tell if, "Justice League," is better regarded than, "Batman VS Superman," which I actually liked but didn't love. For now though, it sounds like Zack Snyder is being really passive-aggressive about the next movie.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Saint Louis Comic-Con 2016 Thoughts

I attended the first-ever Saint Louis Comic-Con on Saturday but did not make it out there today due to having done so much Saturday I was exhausted this morning. Seriously, I couldn't wake up, eat breakfast, and get dressed till about 2PM. It was great though and one additional fun element of the convention yesterday was I brought my wife's cousin (so my cousin-in-law) named Derick who is heading to college this Fall and had never been to a comic-convention before. I thought getting his thoughts as a first-time con-goer would be exciting as it is always good to get someone's fresh impressions (and I am of course bitter and cynical about the world at only age 28 so youthful energy always helps to melt my cold, cold heart). Here is Derick:
I'll share some of his thoughts in a moment, but first I wanted to break-down the show and how it went for me!

We arrived shortly before the show opened at 10AM and we were able to get on the floor a few minutes before it officially opened. I always like to get some photographs of everything before it gets busy and was pleased I was able to do so as it got pretty busy quite quickly! Here are some of the, "Quiet before the storm," photos:

After 10AM struck on the clock everyone started making their way in to begin interacting with the guests and vendors. One big name there was George Pérez whose table stayed incredibly busy during the day. Other cool guests were Keith Champagne who drew a comic I loved titled, "The Mighty," and Tom Nguyen was there as well! Nguyen has of course done comic art for various publishers and has been a part of the reality T.V. show I often discuss, "Big Brother," helping with set design and artwork that appears on the show. It was really cool to discuss the show with him and I'm even more excited for the soon-to-launch season!

Other creators whose work I was not as familiar with but who had some really cool stuff were there as well--and I picked-up some work that looked really cool by them! A gentleman by the name of Seth Ferranti who has written true-crime books based on his time in prison and who also writes for VICE has crime-comics he had made--one of which had artist Joe Willis who've I chatted with at other comic-conventions. I bought his book, "The Supreme Team," and am eager to read it.
Jon Parish
A writer named Jon Parish was there too promoting his comic, "Secrets and Shadows," as well as a new work, "ClusterF@#K." His enthusiasm for his works got me really interested and I picked up, "Secrets and Shadows," as it sounded quite cool--in a world where super-villains no longer exist one suddenly shows up and starts killing all the heroes till the son of a beloved hero who refused to take up the family business has to get involved--sounded like my kind of book!

Other cool comics I picked-up included the 1st issue of the book, "Rigel Raine," by 3 Moons Studios, which discussed a futuristic world set in space full of violence and mayhem all centered around the titular, character, Rigel Raine. Yet another interesting book at the show was, "Ghost Town," which looked like quite the ominous horror story. Plus, I met a cool artist named, Jesse Kwe, and at another table I made the acquaintance of Justin, "Holmes," Holman, who had really solid work as well.
A fun book by Dan Killeen!
I met Dan Killeen at the convention and he had awesome children's' books set within Saint Louis. As a lover of dinosaurs I picked-up his title that features them, "Derrick and the Dinosaurs," which my cousin-in-law liked thanks to the title character sharing his name (minus an, "R.") We chatted about comics and his art influences and I really enjoyed meeting him. Speaking of cute artwork, a creator by the name of Greg Schmidt was at the show with his, "Schmidt N' Giggle Illustrations," which were charming fun--but also had a nice dark edge. I also ran into Aaron Walther, who I've seen at other shows and he continued to have cool stuff as always.

It wasn't just comic-related artwork at the show however. "Circuits and Sewing Needles," were at the show with some astonishingly intricate and beautifully creepy pieces. "Rabbitts Den," was there too with some absolutely adorable pieces and I was quite taken with the handmade clothing by, "Crawling Chaos," who had delightful pieces for pets and human babies. My favorite design was on some pants that had a bio-hazard symbol. I would be remiss if I didn't mention some folk going by the name, "Thought Bubble," were at the convention with all kinds of helpful comic-storage items from your usual bags and boards to other neat ways to keep your comics safe (as well as comics for sale as well)!
My fellow con-goer, Derick, told me he had a lot of fun. He enjoyed all the cosplay most of all, and he and I had a great time at the fashion shows where everyone showed off their efforts. Derick said the lines for things such as food or to interact with certain guests probably was his least favorite aspect. I asked Derick what he expected from the convention and he told me, "I expected all the cosplay and artists, and the show had that. As it was a smaller show they didn't have as many big DC or Marvel people I thought there might be, but there still was a lot of cool stuff." Derick said it was a good first convention and he looked forward to attending other ones in the future as he now had the con-bug (not a literal illness, just a desire to see more shows)!

As for my overall thoughts, I think this was a stellar first, "Saint Louis Comic-Con." It had a great crowd full of excited people, plenty of vendors with cool stuff I picked-up, awesome creators promoting their wares, and was otherwise great fun! There weren't as many big-name creators as some cons, but the bigger-name creators who were there were great and I imagine as the show grows that will change--plus as I always spend much of my time in, "Artist's Alley," I didn't mind that. This debut, "Saint Louis Comic-Con," was fun and fantastic, it was funtastic! I look forward to what the future holds for, "Saint Louis Comic-Con," and am already pumped for next year! Oh, but before I go I have got to mention my favorite cosplay outfit from the show--Jurassic Princess Leia:
Yes, that is a T-Rex dressed a Princess Leia, and yes, it is incredible.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I'll Be at Saint Louis Comic-Con Tomorrow!

This June 18th and 19th the first-ever, "Saint Louis Comic-Con," will be occurring. Don't let the name confuse you as this of course is not the first comic-convention to happen in Saint Louis. You see, it is the first to occur under that name and via the convention company known as, "MightyCon," who are owned by Geek Inc. Comics. They specialize in putting on conventions in the Midwest (and which I found from internet sleuthing the shows tend to be pretty well-reviewed). I will be attending the convention as press and am excited  to see guests such as George Pérez and check-out my favorite spot at all cons--the artists' alley. I always love discovering unique new stuff at conventions and the floor-plan looks to have some cool things I'm eager to check out.

I may be able to attend both days of the show and I'll be there Saturday for sure. It should be a fun time and I'll of course do my usual write-up/s afterwards about how everything went. See you at the show!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Okay, Nick Jonas, That's A Good Album Title

I am by no means much of a fan of the band that once was known as, "The Jonas Brothers," and have found the new music by Nick Jonas (the bit of which I've heard) generally passable if not especially good. That said, the title of his new album is admittedly genius. "Last Year was Complicated," is just an absurdly clever way to address everything that has happened in Jonas' life up to today, with the, "Last Year," easily being representative of him saying how basically life up to today has been a bizarre adventure for him, yet also seems to casually play it off by saying, "Well yeah, I mean, last year was complicated." It just really strikes me as incredibly smart and fun.

The music may not be especially impressive, but damn, that' a good album title. That said, we get it, Nick, you're all grown-up and having sex now with your big-boy penis. You don't have to keep telling us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I'm Exhausted by All This Gun Violence, But Not Too Exhausted to Fight Back Against Ignorance

I didn't want to write this piece, because I would never want this to happen. It needs to be said though. I mean, the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history happened in Orlando early Sunday morning. Someone full of hate shot-up a LGBTQ nightclub known as Pulse. A diverse group of people were murdered in cold blood. I felt incredibly sad upon reading this, but then oddly found it hard to summon much of any other emotion. Previously I would feel a burning rage anytime I read about these acts of gun violence. I would feel sick, I would react. Now however, this seems to just happen so often, with nothing happening as a result to stop it from occurring again, that I just feel exhausted.

I'm tired of all the people who want to the defend the fact it is easier to buy a gun than some cold medicine or a fucking exotic animal. I'm drained of the energy it takes to shake my head at the politicians who refuse to make it so that people on watch lists--people who can't even get on a plane--can still buy an assault rifle. I'm even too fatigued to bother sobbing when I see all the faces of those killed whilst a moron running for President uses it as an excuse to further his agenda of hatred (banning Muslims wouldn't have helped prevent this, Mr. Trump, the man was already a U.S. citizen). Yes, I'm just exhausted.
What I am not too tired to do, however, is to continue to point out the hypocrisy of people who claim they want to make our nation safer yet do nothing to combat the seemingly never-ending gun violence. I am not too drained to argue with those who use this as an excuse for demonizing Muslims, or who dare to minimize this loss of life because it was, "Those people [because somehow being LGBTQ makes your life matter less)?" Oh, and you can bet I'm not exhausted to the point where I will ever stop discussing this issue, regardless of others trying to silence those of us who want common-sense gun control.

I wanted to make it clear I stand with Orlando, and I stand with everyone who wants to help make this nation safer. I'm exhausted by all this gun violence to the point it is hard to get emotional, but I will never be too tired to try and keep it from occurring again. That is a promise.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Assorted Thoughts On the Eve of E3 for 2016

It Begins

E3--or as it is also known, the Electronic Entertainment Expo--officially runs from June 14th through the 16th. A ton of stuff has already been announced or further revealed however before it begins however. How about we share some of my thoughts?

Unlike the first game which was a total surprise upon its big reveal, the announcement of, "Watch Dogs 2," was relentlessly spoiled by news stories and, um, sunglasses. This sequel is looking fun however, and already seems to have a brighter and more cheery tone than the previous game which alternated between having the main character brood, express how he was in a sour mood, and yell at people.

More, "Lego: Dimensions," figures? I know it makes me sound like a pawn of the big companies, but yes please!

Considering how much I have loved those, "The Walking Dead," games from Telltale I am extremely excited to hear a 3rd season is on its way--with the, "Batman," adventure game by them coming along swimmingly as well!

Speaking of makers of solid adventures, Dontnod have released a trailer for their Vampyr game they've been cranking away on. They tend to make extremely interesting (if sometimes flawed) games--e.g. the title, "Remember Me."

Battlefield 1 has a gameplay trailer. I will honestly be surprised if it can look this good though without some kind of hyper-powered PC running it.

There was a game called, "Prey," that everyone thought was dead and then miraculously came back and was released. That makes it a little funny how the sequel, "Prey 2," was officially dead and now is back as a game also titled, "Prey." It looks like a completely different experience than the original plan for the sequel, so maybe it is more of a new game just using that name for the sheer novelty value. Whatever the case, it looks interesting.

"Titanfall 2," has officially been announced and is going to be on the Playstaion 4. This is a good thing. It also has an absurd pre-order scheme involving you giving the company $250.00 and getting an actual dumb helmet in exchange. This is a very, very stupid thing.

Lastly, Microsoft is apparently going to release a new console despite the Xbox One having not really been out for that long. I will wait to say anything further supportive or questioning of what they're doing for now, but a big part of me is admittedly screaming, "What in the Hell are they thinking?"

Friday, June 10, 2016

Whatever Happened To...Doktor Sleepless.

This was a series that was a mixture of Warren Ellis technology rants, a dsytopian future where people disappointed with the era they live in ask, "Where's my fucking jetpack?", and a man who wants to bring chaos to the world. It was great, and then it just stopped. Some folk called it reminiscent of Ellis' famous, "Transmetropolitan," series, but a bit darker. Other people thought it was unique. This article here summarizes everything expertly, including its infamous blending of fact and fiction to make things that extra bit stranger.

It had discussions of extreme body modifications, people made out of pure thought, and fascinating ruminations on where humanity ends and tech begins. Oh, and then the Elder-Gods type stuff enters the picture and shit gets really odd. I thought it was really good and found myself sad when it abruptly ended as some of Ellis' other works have done--be they for Avatar Press (so we shouldn't expect anymore "Anna Mercury" I presume?) or another publisher ("Desolation Jones," for one example of an assortment).

If I'm recalling correctly, the last image in the comic was a bunch of people about to start a riot followed by the image of a hand grenade featuring a smiley-face drawn on it being tossed and hanging in the air, just taunting us to check-out the next issue so we see what happens. That next issue probably will never come and that grenade will remain forever suspended in the air. Ellis has occasionally made claims he will return to the book, but I'm more and more doubtful.

The first eight issues were collected, the remaining #9-#13 can be found without too much trouble in your local dollar bins as the series didn't exactly catch fire. I would recommend you read it, as it is Ellis being his usual interesting self, but with a fun and slightly off-kilter vibe that gives everything a mischievous edge. It's delightful stuff.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Television Tuesday: The Three Fan Theories That Irritate the Hell Out of Me

Getting Angry
"The Penguin is somehow the Joker," is clever compared to the horrible-ideas below.
Whenever a show is on the air fans like to come-up with theories to explain certain things in the plot. This can become especially rampant when a series nears it end. I'm all for fans having theories--and sometimes a theory or two proves right--but certain so-called ideas seem to pop-up often, and they rarely are, "Mind-blowing," as the originators claim, and instead are just really annoying because they seem to get discussed a lot. Let's discuss the three worst offenders.

Your Theory is Bad and You Should Feel Bad
The only situation where I'm okay with someone declaring this.
Stupid Fan Theory One: It's All a Dream/Someone's Imagination!
I swear to God, a handful of shows do something along these lines ("St. Elsewhere", "Newhart") and suddenly fans think every show has to turn-out to be a dream. Every episode of, "The Simpsons," since 1993? It's a dream due to Homer being in a coma.  "The Walking Dead?" Again, a coma-dream. It is such a cop-out of a theory and it perturbs me to no end how when someone proposes the idea a show is a dream they feel they're some kind of genius--you aren't, you're a hack and you need to stop.
"It all fits together perfectly! Well, kind of...sort of...never-mind."
Stupid Fan Theory Two: The Continuities are Linked Somehow!
The, "Newhart," link I provided actually is a case where the first theory and this one proved true. That aside though, people really grasp at straws for these theories. To be fair there are times shows are of course in the same universe (hence spin-offs) but what bugs me is when fans take two shows that have nothing to do with one another and claim they take place in the same fictional Universe. For example, supposedly, "Breaking Bad," led to, "The Walking Dead," in some people's minds. Yeah, let that sink in. This isn't as common a theory, and there is at least one tongue-in-cheek version known as, "The Tommy Westphall Universe," which relates to the aforementioned, "St. Elsewhere." Even if this doesn't seem to occur as much I still despise it, however. Oh, but do note that the theory how every Pixar film takes place in the same Universes is rock-solid though, to the point the originator made a book about it. I'm fully onboard with that shit.
The laziest theory possible? Yeah.
Stupid Fan Theory Three: Everyone's Dead!
Fucking, "Lost." Seriously, it has to go and make everyone who guessed the characters were dead and/or in a kind of purgatory feel all happy they, "Called it," and now every single show is taking place in some kind of post-life. Putting aside how even creators of, "Lost," say that is a misinterpretation the damage has been done. You already know people are claiming, "The Walking Dead," takes place in some sort of Hell, and the idea that, "Maybe they're all dead," has become a worse excuse than, "A Wizard did it," when it comes to any continuity glitches that could be hand-waved away with a, "They're in the afterlife, there is no rules!" This theory can go to the same fictional Hell some people are convinced all their favorite characters are trapped in.

Now I'm Enraged!
Mean, but pretty accurate.
At this point in the article you are either nodding your head in agreement with me, thinking I sound like a cranky old man, or doing a mixture of both. Now yes, you could argue that these fan theories are all done in the spirit of fun and I'm being a killjoy, but my counter-statement is that something can be fun the first few times, yet when every show has the same absurd fan-theories lobbed at it, well, that's just lame. Plus, this is the internet, everyone is supposed to be cynical. Anyways, if there is a theory that bugs the bejeezus out of you and which I didn't think to mention, please do comment or email me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

And Now a Random Post About a Great Cat Litter--The Breeze Litter System by Tidy Cats

I've been enjoying stuff I could write about, but today I'm going to talk about cat litter. Yes, litter, because damn-it I feel like doing so. I'm not going to talk about just any cat litter though, I'm going to talk about an amazing one that helps eliminate all that annoying mess that the grans of litter kicked around by your cat can leave. I'm going to talk about the Breeze Litter System by Tidy Cats.

First off, no one is paying me to write this article. The people at Tidy Cats do not even know who I am, although I may shoot them off a tweet once this post goes up so they know how much I appreciate the Breeze Litter System. What makes this litter so special though? Well, it isn't a bunch of tiny grainy pieces of clay that clump-up when you cat pees or takes a dump. No, these are large
pellets. These big pellets stick to the cat poop and are easy to scoop, which I love. Plus, as they are pretty large you don't have to worry about tiny pieces of litter getting spread around the room by your cat--these don't stick to paws or anything. The worst thing that can happen is some pellets get kicked-out of the box and you sweep the handful of them up with a broom. I will share the disclaimer that these can hurt when you step on them barefoot, but other than that these pellets are immensely superior to litter.
You may be asking, "Okay, so my cat poops and these big pellets stick to it, what about when Mr. Whiskers has to whiz?" First off, that is a Ms. Whiskers and you need to learn more about cat anatomy. Secondly, there are in fact these awesome pee-pads of a sort that go in the litter-box under the pellets. These pads absorb the urine and you simply change them once a week. This is wonderful as it puts the urine within the box under the pellets and can dramatically reduce that unpleasant cat-pee smell some houses seem to suffer from.

The other concern you may express is how exactly you will get your cat to use this litter system. Well, the website I linked to above offers tips, and basically it is just about slowly introducing the new method. You have the old box and this new one, then you put some litter from the old box with the pellets, after that you remove the old box, and so forth. After a couple of days the two cats my wife and I have took to the Breeze litter box with gusto, so I can say first-hand it isn't too hard to acclimate your kitty to the Breeze system.
"I love the Breeze Litter System!"
In conclusion, the Breeze Litter System has been great for our household and should you have cats I would wholeheartedly recommend you give it a try. I mean, I love it so much I'm just randomly writing an article about it (that and because no comic or television show has done much worth writing about for me at the moment). So yeah, check out the Breeze Litter System by Tidy Cats and I bet you'll be as pleased with it as our household is.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Film Friday: Trailer-Talk about, "Vick,"

The trailer for the upcoming documentary about Michael Vick looks fascinating. I know a lot of people still despise the man and think what he did was terrible (which it was, it is just odd he's hated more than some celebrities who have actually killed humans yet been forgiven). Whether you think he can find redemption in some form or will hate him forever, this looks incredibly interesting. Check out the trailer at this link.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cinematic Universes Possibly Could be an Issue AKA Can We Please Not Be Idiotic?

The cinematic universe that (for the most part) works well.
We see more and more talk about, "Cinematic Universes," and it worries me. Not everyone needs a cinematic Universe for their flicks, or to be even more complicated, television shows set in their movie's world. Some have said about cinematic universes, "They aren't working anymore," but I would argue that is a bit incorrect. They have never worked, at least not for many things, but possibly work in certain scenarios. Comic books featuring super-heroes naturally make sense considering how in their publishing history various comics and characters would intermingle. It also makes some sense with science-fiction properties that have proven an ability to focus on certain stories or characters--Star Trek on the big-screen and television screen to give an example, and the ability of, "Star Wars," to make money in various formats.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe works, people may want a, "Star Wars," one but that might already be in trouble according to new rumors, and "Star Trek," is chugging happily along. Cinematic universes can sometimes work, we've established that.The questions becomes: Do we need a cinematic universe of Hasbro properties, the Robin Hood concept I read about a couple of years ago, spin-off films of the already up-to-7, "Fast and Furious," films and the like? Let's speak honestly here: People want money, and Marvel's cinematic universe has made money. However, unless it makes sense, you're being an absolute fucking idiot to pursue a cinematic universe. Why? I said why--because it often doesn't make sense! I mean, just because fancy computer special effects get people excited, that doesn't mean you need them for your romantic drama set within the 1800's, just as you don't need a cinematic universe for some movies about the fucking Invisible Man and Dracula.
Even if this is good, does it need a cinematic universe?
Let's speak even more frankly, DC's best-performing and highest-reviewed movies weren't set in a cinematic universe (Christopher Nolan's Bat-flicks) and their desperate efforts to get one going with, "Batman VS Superman," received a severe critical drubbing. DC is having trouble with super-hero characters who it--here are those words again--makes sense to put in a cinematic universe, and some people telling us we need all the movies to do them now? I don't think we need a Ghostbusters cinematic universe (as I heard rumblings of if this movie does well), or all the Hanna-Barbera characters in one reality. I'll give you that a cross-over between the, "21 Jump Street," flicks and, "Men in Black," sounds cool, but even that's pushing my patience no matter how awesome Jonah Hill and Will Smith shooting-up aliens could be. Look at this list of titles I've mentioned and some other ones and tell me how many of them actually need a cinematic universe. The answer is, "Probably/possibly none," isn't it?

Just makes your damn movie, if it does well gives us some sequels if they're warranted, but please quit trying to make everything a cinematic universe because it looks like the newest hot thing. Remember when everyone thought making their film a 3D event was ingenious? Yeah, let's not have another horrific debacle of that magnitude.