Saturday, August 31, 2019

My Spider-Man Comic With Black Cat Looks Gorgeous

Feast your eyes upon this gorgeous Spider-Man comic featuring Black Cat upon the cover. This cover was used for an American comic, "Superior Spider-Man #20," but also was printed on a variant that was sold exclusively at a Mexican Comic-Con (La Mole Con) and put upon the Marvel Mexico, "Amazing Spider-Man #11," comic. I was able to acquire this gorgeous book thanks to my awesome friend Ozzie, who lives in Mexico and I enjoy swapping comics with. I then had the book pressed by Chris, The Comic Book Presser, which I blogged about previously. My friend James Doe of Cabal Books helped me with the CGC submission process and now the final result is here!

I have found from the CGC data that this is the only 9.8-graded copy of this comic in existence, with some 9.6 and lower grades existing, but nothing 9.8 (or higher, although 9.9 and 10 are basically unheard of in CGC grading). I attribute this stellar score to how Ozzie always treats his comics with care, the amazing work of Chris pressing the comic, and James Doe being so helpful in my ensuring the book was shipped securely to CGC in the safest way possible. I owe everyone named a big, "Thank-You," and now proudly have the book on display with all my other favorite comics and geeky knick-knacks. I am so pleased and deeply appreciate all my friends who helped me reach this, "Destination," of a gorgeous high-grade book to proudly own and be reminded of all the fantastic friends I have when I gaze upon it.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Brian Wood Deserves Only Scorn

I feel like we've been talking about how Brian Wood is someone who preys upon women for years now. I feel that way because in fucking 2013 Tess Fowler came forward about Wood being sexually inappropriate with her yet the comic-book industry basically shrugged, told Fowler to shut-up, and carried on with giving Wood work. It is now 2019 and Laura Hudson is contributing her own story of Wood forcibly kissing her back when she was a much less-known name in comic's journalism and he knew she could preyed upon. Also, she has discussed how he then sent her extremely raunchy and inappropriate messages about how he wanted to have sex with her even though he was married and had a daughter.

Brian Wood deserves only scorn yet he keeps working in the comic-book industry on various books as if nothing big has happened. I need to admit my own faults here, I purposely avoided any books that Brian Wood wrote after the news broke but still picked-up and read his run on, "Moon Knight," that came after Warren Ellis because I love the character and generally buy and read anything with Moon Knight. If I could go back and time and not buy anything Wood has done however, I'd be more than willing to do so. 

Much of the entertainment industry is finally talking about and dealing with all the predatory actions of people within it, and comic-books clearly need their own #MeToo moment between this, the mess that was Eddie Berganza's career at DC, and countless other incidents that I imagine were kept secret through threats and intimidation. Things need to change for the better, and predators shouldn't be able to just keep getting gigs doing comic-books whilst preying upon others thanks to their position of power.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I'm a Taylor Swift Fan Now? What The Hell Happened?

I remember when I was mad at Taylor Swift. The days when I thought she was a bully who liked to play the victim while actually being the bad-guy. Then things changed and suddenly her line of thinking was a lot like mine. I said I would give her, "A pass," and not say anything mean because she was doing good work. Then she has more music come out that sounds kind of good, and starts speaking-out loudly against Trump even though she knows it could upset a chunk of her fanbase who are White and Conservative. She follows this up with a performance at the 2019 Video Music Awards all about equal treatment and when she wins an award does not hesitate to call-out Republicans for not supporting equality, and oh dear God do I like Taylor Swift now between finding more of her newer music listenable and loving this activism of encouraging young listeners to get out and vote for a party that cares about people (Democrats)?

What the Hell happened that Taylor Swift could very well be America's best hope for Democracy and I'm here cheering for her? Did I wake-up one day in a strange alternate reality or has Trump really ruined everything, including how I used to love-to-hate Taylor Swift? Now I'm just a fan of hers and actually considering buying one of those special editions of her new album exclusively available at Target? I never saw any of this coming and can only say the World continues to get stranger, weirder, and more unpredictable every single day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Marvel's Desperate Attempt to Seem Apolitical is itself Political

The first issue of, "Captain America," featured the titular hero punching Adolf Hitler right in the face. At the time the comic-book was released America had not yet entered World War II and was trying to, "Stay out of it," for the most part. However, creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were so disgusted with Nazi Germany they pushed for the book to be published despite fears it would anger people. The publisher of that comic eventually turned into Marvel. Now, the company of Marvel is so desperate to remain apolitical it is both hilarious and depressing.

Trying to, "Stay out of politics," is itself a political action. If you claim you are going to remove yourself from politics you are basically making it that much easier for those who would do harm to win and keep power. If everyone who did not vote in the Presidential election had voted for Hilary Clinton she would've won by an absurd margin. Instead, a bunch of folk mumbled there was no difference between Clinton and Donald Trump. Now America is a laughingstock on the World stage, our economy is teetering on the brink of a recession, the rights of Women and LGBTQ individuals are being rolled-back, and we have concentration camps full of immigrants who are ripped from their homes or places of work by goose-stepping I.C.E. agents. Maybe you don't want to worry about all that though, you just want to be apolitical--your desire is to, "Stay out of it." Well then, you're basically failing as an American who is able to love their country but also hold it accountable. Interestingly enough, this is basically the idea of an essay Mark Waid wrote for a Marvel comic that was rejected and swapped-out for a, "Less political," piece.

Marvel comics is controlled by a man named Ike Pearlmutter who is a mega-donor and friend to Donald Trump. Marvel is owned by Disney, but Pearlmutter is the one guiding the ship of Marvel to a big degree. Disney probably would not mind its billion-dollar properties avoiding seeming too political and Pearlmutter most likely is quite happy with how much of America looks right now considering how much money he has pumped into Donald Trump's political career. A big retrospective book about Marvel already had Art Spiegelman pull his essay from being contributed to it when his reference to a, "Orange Skull," threatening America was requested to be tweaked so as to not compare Donald Trump to the infamous evil Nazi the Red Skull. Now, a big anthology comic also meant to look-back at the past of Marvel while picturing its future--"Marvel Comics #1000," has been tweaked to avoid fanning any political flames as well.

Mark Waid wrote an essay on a page featuring artwork of Captain America about how he loves America, but it needs to be held accountable. One excerpt goes, “America’s systems are flawed, but they’re our only mechanism with which to remedy inequality on a meaningful scale. Yes, it’s hard and bloody work. But history has shown us that we can, bit by bit, right that system when enough of us get angry. When enough of us take to the streets and force those in power to listen. When enough of us call for revolution and say, ‘Injustice will not stand.’” Waid also observed in his piece, “...we’ve perpetuated the myth that any American can become anything, can achieve anything, through sheer force of will. And that’s not always true. This isn’t the land of opportunity for everyone. The American ideals aren’t always shared fairly. Yet without them, we have nothing.” Marvel swapped the essay out. The new essay actually published in, "Marvel Comics #1000," talks about Captain America's mask serving as a symbol of the American idea of fighting for justice. Justice for what, you may ask? Well, Marvel's answer to that is, "Shut-up, we can't get too deep into politics."
I read a chunk of this book years ago and would recommend it.
We've gone from Captain America punching a Nazi dictator even when America was refusing to, "Get involved," in fighting him to an essay that dares make any political point being pulled for fear of being, "Too political," resulting in lost sales. Is this Pearlmutter's fault? Is Disney to blame? I don't know, but it is pretty damned ironic to witness an essay about how not being involved in politics is bad being pulled for being more political than a company wants. What a mess.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I Had a Pumpkin Spice Latte Today and Make No Apologies

I took an excited selfie before I drank my PSL!
I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes and upon hearing that Starbucks was going to be bringing them back for the season starting today, August 27th, 2019, I eagerly went and bought one. I do not care it is still Summer and hot out, I got my nice hot PSL with almond milk (too much dairy hurts my guts badly) and drank it with a smile on my face. My wife was with me when I ran into Starbucks to get our drinks and upon my returning she remarked, "Wow, your drink smells, 'Basic.'" It failed to phase me, I love PSL and make no apologies.

I don't care what people say about being a fan of White Claw Seltzer, enjoying shows like, "Bachelor in Paradise," or the fact I'm guzzling a Fall drink when it is still August. They can call me and everyone else basic, because if loving a Pumpkin Spice Latte to a borderline unhealthy degree is basic, that's me to a T.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Mini-Run Review: "Banjax," #1-#3 Has Been a Great Read

There is a comic I've really been enjoying which just released what I think is the penultimate issue of its mini-series (issue three of four total). It is titled, "Banjax," and between the clever plot and solid artwork I'm really digging it. The book follows an old hero who was super-popular (a big-time celeb) named Laird Mason AKA Banjax, who found when he got too brutal with villains the populace turned on him. Now its years later and his former sidekick, Abel Raines, has become a billionaire who wants to sell a private security force of powered individuals to a World that no longer trusts masked vigilantes and thinks commercialized heroes are the way to go. However, Banjax has found out he's dying of cancer and ready to go on quite the tear to kill anyone he thinks still deserves it, whether Raines likes it or not.

I find the book works really well because it mixes some deeply personal aspects of the characters with some striking and clever political commentary thanks to the talents of Rylend Grant. There are shades of a lot of great comics in here, such as, "Watchmen," with a world where heroes are now either big corporate-powers or mostly forgotten novelties, or a bit of, "Dark Knight Returns," where a grizzled hero comes out retirement to try and fight evil one last time before his end. "Banjax," is by no means a copy of these comics however, instead being its own beast. I appreciate that neither Mason or Raines are especially good or evil, they just are men so subsumed with their obsessions (Mason with ending crime, Raines with making the world safer even if it means questionable choices) they don't even see they are becoming worse monsters than many of the bad-guys they used to fight.
The clever political aspects pop-up in how Mason is astounded that his return to being a vigilante who is even more brutal than in the past is not upsetting the populace, it actually is making him a hero. The comic observes that despite everyone's best efforts they are only making things worse and our current society is if anything more hateful and ready to cheer for violent resolutions to problems than we'd like to admit. Just turn on the news and you can see America is currently in its own downward spiral of hatred and holding-up people who used to once be thought of as tyrants as heroes who got things done, as well as mega-corporations buying and selling every commodity possible. The most outlandish thing about, "Banjax," is how uncomfortably not far-fetched it feels today as compared to how it would've read a decade ago.

Artist Fábio Alves gives the book a suitably dark and dreary vibe, excelling at alternating between the grimy and dirty life of Laird Mason versus the tech-filled and shiny corporate World of Abel Raines. The scenes of fighting are amazingly brutal (in a good way) and even the quiet scenes of tragic contemplation (Mason wondering if he actually is going too far, Raines doubting his own plans) work spectacularly too, with some stand-out moments occurring in issue #2 as a sleep-deprived Raines starts hallucinating due to stressing about Mason keeping him up. The art fits the tone of the book perfectly, in other words.

"Banjax," has been a stupendous read so far and I am very excited to see what the concluding (I think) issue for this volume brings. I only hope more volumes will be on the way depending on who manages to survive the end of this mini-series! I rate these first three issues an amazing 5 out of 5 stars. If you want to check Banjax out for yourself you can visit the page of its publisher, Action Lab (and its, "Danger Zone," imprint) and buy some, or get yourself digital copies on Comixology.

With a Single Poster, "WandaVision," Has Piqued My Interest

The relationship between Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) and Vision (the, um...Vision) was always one of the sweetest low-key things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that seemed to happen nice and organically as opposed to how they shoe-horned in some other romances (Bruce Banner and Black Widow suddenly being all close). In the comic-books it was a nice and happy story too, until later on when things got weird with Wanda's powers causing all kinds of twisted things to happen that were warping reality in dangerous ways (creating children out of thin-air considering Vision was incapable of having kids, stuff like that). The poster for the upcoming, "WandaVision," show has my attention because it seems to be hinting at the very same, "Things look nice but something is horribly wrong," vibe the comics eventually tackled.

It may sound odd to say a poster gives me hope, but compared to all the other Marvel movies or super-hero shows that have gotten posters, "WandaVision," is the only one where stuff simply looks the least bit weird or different. All the other new Marvel posters of movies or even shows just look like the standard image of a hero (or heroes) standing and looking stoic with bad-guys sometimes in the background appearing imposing as well. For real, look:
It is drab, and as the Marvel Universe has a number of movies that are starting to just feel like one big formulaic method (in the, "Avengers," films especially) with only some key standouts recently ("Black Panther," was a delight and "Doctor Strange," was incredible, no matter what haters say about Strange) I can appreciate a Marvel property being able to do something a little bit different, which it seems Disney+ will be good for allowing some deviation from the usual somewhat-homogeneous vibe of the movies. I'm full down for a surreal nightmare-sitcom starring the Scarlet Witch and the Vision, in other words. If it is at all like the amazing, "The Vision," series by Tom King that focused on the Vision trying to have a normal suburban life while horrible things happened, that will be a good thing as well, because that comic was bonkers (in a good way).

Saturday, August 24, 2019

People Who Like, "Breaking Bad," Should Be Happy About the New Movie

I have never watched, "Breaking Bad," when it was on or its current sequel-prequel series, "Better Call Saul," even though both of them have been loaded with actors whose work I like and I hear so many good things about the programs from fans. I am not opposed to watching the shows, my Netflix que is just an enormous mess of shows and movies that is intimidating to look at for 20 minutes before I go, "Eh, forget it," and just re-watch episodes of, "Nailed It," because I'm overwhelmed deciding what new thing to start. Well, people who loved, "Breaking Bad," and want more answers about its characters (who survived, at least) are probably very happy to hear, "El Camino," will be coming to Netflix October 11th, 2019.

It's a movie that follows-up right after the conclusion of, "Breaking Bad," and I am impressed it was kept secret so well, with only Bob Odenkirk (who is busy with, "Better Call Saul,") letting slip a week or so ago in an interview that something had been filmed without any least until he mentioned it. Now folk can get excited and I can try and make myself motivated to binge-through some seasons so I understand the many comments and memes that will most likely occur online as of October 11th.

Friday, August 23, 2019

"Moon Knight," Getting a Show!

Well, this is news that has me excited and cautiously optimistic. That news, of course is that my favorite comic super-hero, Moon Knight, will be getting his own show on the upcoming Disney+ streaming service! He is a darker character and Disney+ doesn't want to stray too far from PG-13 kind of stuff at the most, but I'm frankly just happy to have Moon Knight appearing on a screen in what will hopefully be an entertaining experience. She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel (the Kamala Khan version) will be getting shows as well. This is wonderful news, and makes me even more excited to have some Moon Knight-related books I sent-out for pressing made extra-pretty so they'll look gorgeous on display, "Raw," or in a CGC case.

The one immediate downside in all this is that now I'll basically have to buy a subscription to yet another streaming-service in order to enjoy some (hopefully) high-quality Moon Knight-programming.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Nick Nolte is the One Reason I Would See, "Angel Has Fallen."

I remember seeing, "Olympus Has Fallen," some years ago via Redbox or Netflix and being pretty unimpressed with it. Gerard Butler was a Secret Service agent who saves the President from evil foreigners and corrupt fellow Secret Service agents in order to prevent a special nuclear code from being used to end the world or something. I did not even bother with, "London Has Fallen," and was completely unaware this series had become a trilogy with, "Angel Has Fallen," until I started seeing ads for it this week and read a review by the AV Club who are astounded it is not as terrible as the preceding flicks. There is maybe one reason, and one reason alone I would see, "Angel Has Fallen," willingly if it shows-up some months later in streaming-cue. It has Nick Nolte in it.

Nick Nolte is an interesting man. He loves acting and always brings a strange and engrossing vibe to any character he plays. Whether it was being one of the few good things in the Ang Lee version of, "The Hulk," as Bruce Banners dad, or a man faking being a Vietnam Veteran in, "Tropic Thunder," Nolte excels at both comedy or drama thanks to his weirdo energy. The man has had many ups and downs in his personal life (the infamous 2002 DUI mugshot was pretty bad) but is always a fantastic actor. Hearing he is in, "Angel Has Fallen," playing the grizzled conspiracy-theory-obsessed Father of Gerard Butler's character whose name I don't recall but think is something bland like, "Rick Masters," actually sounds pretty cool. Even if, Angel Has Fallen," otherwise is disposable tripe at least any parts with Nolte on the screen will be engaging.

Note: I looked up the name of Butler's character, it is, "Mike Banning," which frankly I think is about as generic as my guess of, "Rick Masters," so there you go.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I'm Always Down for More Garth Ennis-Written Punisher

Garth Ennis is one of those writers who even if he is barely putting forth any effort makes really good comics. Creators who spend decades in the field either get better and better to the point where any title they do is solid or slowly decline to the point they go from amazing to terrible. Thankfully, Ennis has just generally gotten to the point his worst works are damn good and his best works are incredible. Some of his best work has of course involved the Punisher, so hearing that he will be doing some new mini-series involving the Punisher as well as (I assume) his take on a really old and grizzled Nick Fury sounds cool. Also, it is icing on the cake that two illustrators I love the work of--Jacen Burrow and Goran Parlov, will each be doing one of the books.

The comics will be, "Punisher: Soviet," with Burrows doing art on that and, "Get Fury," with Parlov. These books will most likely be out-of-regular-Marvel-continuity and probably have a MAX label if Marvel digs that imprint up for these books or some other, "Mature Readers," advisory because Ennis loves his comics gory and full of unique-takes on the word, "Fuck." I'm not a huge fan of the Punisher generally, but a creator like Ennis almost always does him justice so between Ennis and some fantastic artists I'm excited.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sony and Marvel/Disney Are Squabbling

As lots of folk know, "Spider-Man," and his film rights are owned by Sony due to how in the early 2000's before Marvel became absurdly profitable (and bought by Disney) it had to sell movie-rights to not go outright bankrupt. Then in 2008 Marvel made, "Iron Man," then made some more flicks, was bought by the House of Mouse, and here we are today. Disney/Marvel also acquired Fox recently so now the X-Men and Fantastic Four (whom Fox had film rights too) can be in Marvel flicks as well. However, Sony and Marvel have had a very interesting agreement. Essentially, Spider-Man could pop-up in Marvel's movies and Marvel heroes could be in Spider-Man's movies but everyone kept the rights and most of their individual money from those films. There could be other Sony-hero movies (like, "Venom,") and those could involve Spider-Man too even, but no Marvel Cinematic Universe stuff. It was a unique little set-up, but it seemed to work. It may be falling apart now with Sony and Marvel having a nasty break-up.

I think everyone is probably a victim of their own success. Since the newest Spider-Man first appeared in, "Captain America: Civil War," and the rest of the agreed-upon shared movies have wrapped the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have gone on to make even more cash, and Sony probably feels emboldened with their own hero-movies thanks to, "Venom," doing incredibly well. Hence, we have two companies butting-heads over who gets how much much money for each other's flicks and any kind of deal to basically, "Share," Spider-Man is possibly quite dead in the water for now. This is awkward as Spider-Man is now so ingrained with some of the Marvel heroes and them popping-up in his movies, it would be awkward for Marvel to try and completely ignore Peter Parker or the next, "Spider-Man," to drop any pretense of the, "Avengers," existing in his world.

I think some kind of deal will be reached eventually as both Sony and Marvel/Disney know full well even if more cash has to be shared, even more money will still be raised having this shared-Spidey agreement than keeping stuff overly separate. Perhaps we will see a weird splitting-off of stuff, but it would be less messy if an agreement is made.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Rant-Reviews: No Theme in Particular

No Particular Theme
Sometimes when I do these capsule-style reviews there is a particular theme to it all. That honestly is not really the case here. These are just some recently-released comics that I read and had enough of an opinion about to share some thoughts. Enjoy!

Comics and Thoughts About Them

Eternal Thirst of Dracula Book 2 #1
Friend of the blog Mike Wolfer returns with his intriguing, "Dracula in the Tropics circa 1975," series, with Elmer Cantada providing wonderfully lush and creepy artwork. This issue involves a lot of talk as the character who is a descendant of Van Helsing fills his friends-in on just how crazy things have become with Count Dracula wanting his help to destroy a certain breed of vampire who want to destroy both the original vamps and humans. Compared to some of the earlier-issues this one is a bit lighter on action, but there is a nice human-vampire fight at the end of the issue that keeps the pace-up. A good read, in other words.
4 out of 5 stars.

Savage Avengers #4
There are, "Avengers," comics that are very serious and deal in heavy subjects, and then there is the gleeful madness found in, "Savage Avengers." Written by Gerry Duggan it is bonkers. Whether it was Conan the Barbarian (he's in the modern age of Marvel now, don't question it) swinging a passed-out Wolverine around like a weapon to slice people-up last issue or a weird dino-shaped Venom fighting an ancient God of blood-lust in this issue, I was right to predict, "Savage Avengers," was gonna be a weird and fun read. With Mike Deodato providing the artwork too everything looks even more simultaneously gorgeous and grotesque thanks to how the man knows his way around drawing big spurts of blood. It is a bizarre comic. I love it.
5 out of 5 stars.

Black Hammer/Justice League #2
I am a huge fan of almost anything Jeff Lemire does with his, "Black Hammer," brand of comics. Whether it is the original series, its sequel, "Black Hammer: The Dark Age," or the spin-offs, almost everything has been superb (I'll admit, "The Quantum Age," dragged a bit for me, however). That said, "Black Hammer/Justice League," is not outright, "Wowing," me but also is far from a disappointment. Essentially it has the main characters from, "Black Hammer," finding themselves suddenly swapped with some key members of the Justice League with one team suddenly in Metropolis and the Leaguers now on the mysterious farm from, "Black Hammer," convinced they've been trapped there for a decade even though its only been a day.

There are some nice little flourishes to the book, such as Gail being annoyed she can't swear freely in the DC-world and Bruce Wayne practically going-mad from how peaceful life is when he thirsts for a crime to fight, but overall nothing that, "Big," is being said other than how, yeah, it would be pretty zany if these characters switched realities. Perhaps as the book proceeds a point behind all of this (besides Dark Horse and DC making money) will become clear, but right now this is more of a, "Wouldn't it be cool if these characters swapped places," kind of story than something deeper--which is a little disappointing considering how clever the, "Black Hammer," books at times can be.
3 out of 5 stars.

Show's End #1
A new release from Mad Cave Studios, this book is focused upon a traveling freak-show when decades ago when such a thing was a common sight. Back then freak shows were both popular and looked-at with immense suspicion. Writer Anthony Cleveland portrays this well and introduces another wrinkle to the story with a young girl who seems normal and wants to tag-along with the freak show but may be the most dangerous person under the big-top. Jeferson Sadzinski provides some stellar illustration, making the, "Freaks," look different but never as gross caricatures--with the writing by Cleveland also expertly walking the fine line of portraying these people whose varying disabilities rendered them judged by a society they just wanted to survive in. I look forward to the next issue for sure!
5 out of 5 stars.

White Trees #1
Reading this comic published by Image and written by the generally-zany Chip Zdarsky with artwork by Kris Anka set in a fantasy world where a bunch of retired warriors have to rescue their kids could have been formulaic, but three things make this delightfully different.

1. The heroes once were mighty but are really out-of-practice to an almost embarrassing degree.

2. A number of characters are Queer which is nice in the often super-Heteronormative field of Fantasy stories.

3. Kris Anka draws a lot of dongs.

Now, the comic is not an, "Adult," read, but just sometimes has a dong show-up in the same manner that lots of comics seem to randomly have topless women as fan-service, but here the fan service is a big elf-penis. Between the solid writing mixed with great fight-scenes and plentiful phallus-appearances this comic has something for everyone and is a good start to the two-issue mini-series (yep, it is just two over-sized issues, interestingly). If you like fantasy stories and enjoy (or at least don't mind) illustrated dicks this is a comic you ought to read.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

In Conclusion...
To conclude, we talked about a wide-range of comics from heroic cross-overs, to the freak-shows of the past, and well-drawn male genitals. Yeah, there really wasn't much of theme at all today besides how comics are fun to read, was there?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Flashback Friday: You Know, "Glee," Should've Ended Three Seasons Earlier Than it Did

Ryan Murphy is a man who knows how to make television that is both great and at times absolutely terrible. He's given us some incredible seasons of, "American Horror Story," and ones I would like to pretend did not happen. "American Crime Story," had a fantastic first season about the O.J. Simpson trial and did a solid job with its focus in the second season on the murder of Versace, but it got a bit tedious how the episodes kept traveling back in time in an effort to make things a little more complex in a manner that seemed more forced than necessary. "Nip/Tuck," was both simultaneously amazing and atrocious at once, often. Then, of course we have, "Glee." The show, "Glee," was one Samii introduced me to and a program that would at times be ingenious with smart plots and great dialogue while at other times it seemed a bit lazy and self-indulgent. In other words, it was a Ryan Murphy show.

I have a hot-take on, "Glee," however, and that is basically how instead of going for six seasons it probably either should've ended with three or had a much different focus in the later seasons than it did. You see, at the end of the third season of, "Glee," many of the main characters/students graduate from the High School. Everything has a big air of finality even though other newer students have appeared as well. Still, lots of the characters are going off to do their own big things and there are some incredible scenes, such as when Finn takes Rachel to the train station and tearfully says goodbye (we miss you, Cory Monteith, you were a quality actor), and then....the show kept going. It followed a lot of the main characters as they went-on to live their lives other places and focused on the new students too, but then would come-up with weird ways to shoe-horn the old characters back into their hometown to a degree that it seemed like an alum swung-by every episode.

The show plodded along, and it was just a case of diminishing returns for me as it slowly dragged itself to a shrug of series finale after six seasons when three would have perfect--or even maybe if the show had just fully embraced keeping its attention on the younger students instead of continuing to try and keep the graduated ones on the show even as as their stories became less and less interesting. "Glee," by no means became a bad show, but I think if it had stopped when it was ahead that may have been better. I suppose there are many shows that went a lot longer than they should have, but as long as things aren't atrocious there is still a charm to a past-its-prime program, I suppose. Still, "Glee," should've ended three seasons earlier than it did.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

This New Comic-Book Publisher Is Off To a Really Bad Start

Comic-book publishers come-and-go with startling frequency. Some have been here for decades and are quite stable but others pop-up, make some books (if they are lucky) and then go bankrupt and fade away. For every new publisher who looks really promising (for example, Bill Jemas' latest venture, AWA, is building hype well along with a stable of talent) there are those who seem doomed from the start. For example, "Terrific Production LLC." That is not a typo, it is just, "Production," and it has not been making itself look good.

Owned by Andrew Rev, the company is most notable for acquiring the rights to publish the old Rob Liefeld creation, "Youngblood." Apparently Lielfeld has not truly owned a chunk of the rights to these characters for some time and the company that did up and sold them to Rev. Liefeld and Rev do not like each other at all, and even though I have my own feeling about Liefeld, he seems pretty spot-on in this situation of disliking Rev. Rev is doing one of the most annoying things someone can do to get business contacts--blindly tweeting at famous creators a desire to work with them.

Yes, that's right, a man who owns am multimedia company is doing the same thing as those people who you vaguely recall meeting once or twice that, "Friend," you on Facebook only to immediately try to sell you a product except this is even worse because it is just tweeting at random professionals tweets aimlessly. This is the equivalent for comic-creators of a cold-call from a telemarketer interrupting your dinner. I could be wrong, but Terrific Production LLC. does not look like it will be achieving much success in the field of comics or any of its other multimedia endeavors. Don't worry too much about Liefeld either, however, he already is working at a new line of characters that look just like his other teams of Youngblood, X-Force, etc. I guess he knows his formula and sticks to it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

I Almost Wish All These Mass-Shootings Were a Conspiracy

I've made my opinion clear before on gun control, having written my extremely fiery article, "Fuck the 2nd Amendment." I believe the constitution is a living document that needs to be updated at times and considered what guns are now versus what they were centuries ago calls for consideration of what kind of country we are living in where people get confused about which mass-shooting the news is talking about because they are happening within a day of each other. Seriously, anyone who is opposed to common-sense gun legislation needs a long hard look in the mirror. Meanwhile those in political power do nothing, crowing on about illegal immigrants and violent video-games. I worry more about racist white men killing people in mass-shootings than I do immigrants, “Stealing,” jobs, yet the GOP hollers on about walls with Mexico while ignoring its own homegrown extremists. I feel sorrow, and one thing that makes me laugh amid all this sorrow--albeit a bitter and ironic laugh--is people claiming this is all some big conspiracy.
That's right, this is one massive attempt by the Deep State, Illuminati, or some other nefarious force to create mass-shootings that are either orchestrated secretly and then carried-out, or if you really want to sip the crazy-juice are not even real shootings, it is all somehow actors and green-screens and CGI. I almost wish it were one big conspiracy, because that is in a way comforting. It would honestly make me feel a bit better to think this is part of some, "Master," plan and everything is being carefully plotted-out to happen in a precise manner with a bunch of false-flag operations. This would make me feel better because the honest truth is just so terrifying and depressing.
The real truth in all this is that there is no master plan, no secret plot, no super-powerful elites causing these mass shootings. The horrible fact is that it is all random. It is people who are hateful or otherwise disturbed who had all too easy a time getting access to deadly weaponry and being able to carry out a mass-shooting because our Nation refuses to do anything about these almost-daily tragedies. Politicians are in the pocket of the NRA or utterly spineless against a President who appeals to the worst instincts of a populace that voted for him. The fact there is no rhyme or reason to all of these shootings, that they just keep happening because they are simply able, is horrific. I wrote this a couple days ago after the El Paso and Dayton shootings and have finished editing it today. The sad thing is this could be posted almost any day of the week lately, America has such a gun violence problem. It's all just a conspiracy though to take away our guns though, right?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

I Love This New, "Everything but the Bagel," Seasoning

I don't always get to the popular store, "Trader Joe's," all the time as I have to mentally prepare myself for how the one closest to our house has the parking lot from Hell (I think that is a legal requirement for a Trader Joe's store). When I do get there however I love this tamales you can buy to steam and my latest obsession is the, "Everything but the Bagel," seasoning you can buy. Others on the internet adore it too thanks to its masterful blend of salt, garlic, and seeds that can take an otherwise drab bagel and really liven it up. Every morning lately I have looked forward to toasting a bagel, spreading some cream cheese-styled dairy-free spread on it  (I'm cutting-back on dairy more) and then sprinkling this delicious seasoning on my bagel that helps make every bite magical. It's a good time.

"Everything but the Bagel," does not just have to be limited to bagels either. We put it one some steamed green beans one night and cheesy-broccoli another day (hey, I said I'm cutting-back on dairy, not quitting it). It could quite possibly be put on any item that would benefit from an extra bit of salt, garlic, and sesame, so the possibilities are quite endless. That said, however, I still love it best on a bagel. I really want some now so I ought to get to bed so I can enjoy it tomorrow morning...

Note: This piece is purely my opinion and was not commissioned by Trader Joe's or anyone else. I just really like this seasoning to a borderline-unhealthy degree.

Monday, August 12, 2019

I Took My Mother-in-Law to Thunder From Down Under For Her Birthday

I took my Mother-in-Law to Thunder From Down Under this past weekend as a birthday present. How did this happen, and what did we think of the show, you may ask? Let me rewind to explain how things unfolded the way they did.

While having my blog I've written about my enjoyment of the, "Magic Mike," movies and being impressed by the technical skill showcased by entertainers/strippers that comes to their routine. People at various points have recommended to me I actually go to a revue featuring Male dancers. I am someone who would identify as a heterosexual cisgender male, but even if I am not sexually attracted to men I can of course say if a guy is handsome or in good shape, and I enjoy any kind of loud show full of people dancing--so I was by no means self-conscious at the idea of going to such a show. Also, my Mother-in-Law, a woman named Kim, has also seen the, "Magic Mike," movies and said in the past how she'd always wanted to go to one of those big shows.

Therefore, when I saw that Saint Louis' River City Casino was going to have none other than, "Thunder From Down Under," at their event-hall I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to give Kim a great present and it would allow me to write a fun blog article. I asked Kim if she would like to go to the show and minded if it was with me, and she said that was fine. My wife, Samii, said she didn't have too big a desire to go and was happy to stay home and watch our son while I went with Kim. Hence, on Saturday, August 10th, 2019, I left in the evening with my Mother-in-Law for a production of Thunder From Down Under at River City.

For those unaware of what, "Thunder From Down Under," is, it's a big show located originally at Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas, but many of the men who perform in it will go on tour around various States (and even Countries) to do productions in other places. The men in Thunder From Down Under are all (or at least almost all) from Australia, hence the name of the revue. It is not exactly a strip-show so much as it is a big production. Anyone who has gone to a strip club will tell you it can at times be a bit depressing. There is a man or woman on a stage doing some lazy gyrations, then they walk around asking for tips from people before leaving the stage for another performer to come up and do the same thing--rinse, repeat, dull. "Thunder From Down Under," is not at all like that--as I'll go into in a minute.

Let's go back to last Saturday night, however. Kim and I arrived at River City and were sure to park on the side by the event-hall so we wouldn't have to wade through all the smoke in the play-area. We walked into the building and went to the event-hall entrance where they scanned my phone (I had the tickets on it digitally). We walked into a big event space like you'd expect for a concert--lots of seats with the rows and sections labeled. After finding our spot towards the middle-back we sat down and there was a projector showing video of a recent photo-shoot the men had done in the desert around Las Vegas. Anytime a man in the video would show-off a bit extra of his butt, pour water over himself, or something of that nature the crowd would let out a little cheer. The show was slated to start at 8:00 PM but as everyone was still coming in at a steady pace past that time the lights didn't fully dim until about 8:15 PM, at which point the video announced how the exciting revue was about to commence!

A show with, "Thunder From Down Under," is a big event. There is a huge stage, a large audience, and there are surprisingly intricate and choreographed routines that you would expect professional dancers to do--along with raunchier dance-moves as well (lots of thrusting and crotch-grabbing). The show began with a routine featuring the guys in casual clothes (t-shirt and jeans) that led to the shirts quickly coming-off and the jeans slung extra-low. I was immediately struck by how tightly choreographed the dancing was. The jumps, flips, and kicks were eye-catching and seeing these guys in peak physical condition doing moves that I--someone who lacks a super-muscular body--would not dream of doing was impressive.

Dean, with one of the many calendars given away as thanks to the volunteers.
After the opening routine the MC came on stage, a charismatic man named Dean. He of course had an Australian accent and did pretty much all of the talking for the night. He was extremely funny and engaged with the crowd wonderfully between the dancing routines. He had one joke about, "Whipping it out," at which point he unzipped his pants and pulled a toy snake out while remarking, "With an Australian trouser-snake the key is to stroke it, not choke it," to give you an idea of jokes he told. The audience loved it, with the ladies in the crowd cheering loudly whenever Dean was telling jokes, and screaming with glee when a dance routine would start.

Routines after the opening tended to feature one of the men as the, "Star," of the segment and the other guys being back-up dancers. Generally a third of a routine would consist of the guys on the stage doing impressive dancing, another third would involve a lucky woman from the audience being brought on-stage to be danced around (and on), and then the last third consisted of the guys going around the auditorium giving the ladies hugs, picking them up if they said it was okay, and otherwise interacting with the crowd as the women eagerly slapped at their rears and rubbed their chests. As I wasn't there hoping to rub my hands on a handsome man I most enjoyed the dancing bits, although seeing the crowd go wild when the men walked around was always a hoot. Also, although tipping is not required at all some women would put dollars in the guys pants or g-strings and the men would politely accept it so as to not be awkward--tips were never requested however.

There were some men in the audience. About half seemed bored--as if they'd been dragged along by a wife or girlfriend who didn't want to come to the show alone, and another half seemed to be really into the show. "Thunder From Down Under,' is of course marketed to females, but there is zero issue with men attending, the performers just don't really interact with the guys during the show because this is all about giving the ladies in the audience a good time. Us men are welcome to attend, but our entertainment is not the focal point, and that's perfectly fine because women deserve to hoot and holler and ogle sexy bodies too. Each segment with a star performer had a general theme (Military, Tarzan, Australian SWAT team, Sin City) and the outfits were pretty detailed considering how quickly they ended-up coming off (I wonder how big the budget is for tank-tops considering how many got dramatically ripped-apart). Sometimes there would be a segment with all the guys dancing, such as one that everyone was encouraged to take their phones-out for to film, take pictures of, and share on social media. Everything had a good flow to it and it never felt like a segment was running too long or too short.

As the show proceeded, to break things up around the mid-point there was a hilarious, "Fake Orgasm Contest," where three women in the audience who volunteered went on stage and took turns chatting with Dean before taking the microphone and expressing vocally their best imitation of getting-off. The first woman was clearly a bit too nervous, but the second to go (and who won) was incredible, between her moaning and loudly yelling, "Spank me!" which was clearly cracking even Dean up. The third woman to provide a fake orgasm was good too, but that second lady was incredible.
When asked to describe the show in one word she said, "More."
Towards the end of the program a great moment occurred where Dean asked if there were mothers in the audience, then grandmothers, then any great-grandmothers. One woman near where Kim and I were sitting named Mary had her hand raised high--she had nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Dean brought her on the stage and asked if she was a horny grandma, to which she stated she was. With this, the second-to-last segment of the night occurred where the awesome song, "Pony," began and all the of the men started dancing for Mary. Dean joked the segment was called the, "Grandma Gang Bang," and then he himself danced too after previously having only MC'd. At the end he asked Mary to describe what happened with a single word and she simply responded, "More!" which made the entire crowd burst-out laughing and cheering her name.

The last routine was Western-styled with the crowd loudly singing along to, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy," and then the show concluded with everyone told if they wanted they could have pictures taken with the performers (the winner of the fake orgasm contest got to go back-up on stage and have her picture taken to show how it works) now. There were a few picture options, including one that featured everyone giving a middle-finger which was meant to be sent to, "An ex-boyfriend or husband," which was pretty cheeky. Overall the show ran a brisk-but-enjoyable 90 minutes.

After the show was done I asked Kim what she had thought of it and she stated it was really fun. We both agreed if we had one complaint it would be just how loud everything was. Between the blaring music and the extremely-vocal crowd that would scream and holler at the top of their lungs my ears were ringing all of Saturday night and my hearing still was a little shot Sunday. I perhaps should have worn earplugs for the loudest segments if I'd known just how high the decibels were going to get. That quibble aside however, "Thunder From Down Under," is fun whether you're a man, woman, gay, straight, or any variation that simply loves a good show.

Unlike sleazy strip clubs with their depressing vibe a, "Thunder From Down Under," show is an exciting and very sex-positive production. Women of all ages and sizes were there, equally having fun singing, cheering, and trying to grab a handful of the sexy men whenever they strutted their stuff among the crowd. If you ever have a chance to see the show in Las Vegas or notice that, "Thunder From Down Under," is coming to your town I would for sure recommend attending. It is a fun show without a doubt and made a great birthday present for my Mother-in-Law!

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Check Out The Springfield Comic Expo This Weekend!

This weekend (today and tomorrow) I would encourage you to go to Springfield, Illinois if you are able to attend the Springfield Comic Expo being put on by STL Comics. It is full of creators, awesome vendors, and otherwise should be a stellar time for attendees! I myself may be unable to go this time due to a variety of other obligations, but that shouldn't stop any of you from going! I imagine it is going to be a ton of fun with a smorgasbord of talent and quality stuff for sale. STL Comics always puts on great shows, after all.

Friday, August 9, 2019

My Latest Cinemaways Article About Scary Scenes in Non-Horror Movies is Posted!

If you've ever wanted to see me list eight scary scenes in movies that otherwise are not meant to terrifying now you can thanks to my latest article over at Cinemaways. If you have not ever desired this, well, I wrote it anyways and you should read it. As long as they keep paying me and letting me promote my blog I will be happy to ramble about movies--I've got to put the countless hours I've spent watching flicks to good use somehow, after all.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Comic Book Presser Continues to Impress!

I previously made a post about how I sent some books to Chris AKA The Comic Book Presser. I wrote about how he made two books I sent him look much better and that I was excited to submit the comics to CGC. In that post I had a unique, "Spider-Man," variant cover as well as issue #196 of, "Avengers," which features the first full appearance of Taskmaster. Since then I also had a copy of, "Thor," #337 pressed--the first appearance of Beta Ray Bill. The Spider-Man variant is for my own personal collection so I didn't have it go through the grading process at CGC with extra speed, but I did the fast-track option for my Avengers and Thor book which are now back and got grades that I'm very pleased with!

I owe Chris a great deal of thanks, especially for the, "Avengers," #196. When I acquired it I thought it maybe was in a 6.0 kind of condition and after Chris' magic I was able to submit the book to CGC and have it garner an 8.0! The, "Thor," #337 was also maybe an 8.5 at best but thanks to Chris it came back to me from CGC as a 9.4, delightfully near-mint. I am overjoyed at how well my books graded thanks to Chris and would encourage anyone ever considering submitting a book for grading (to CGC, CBCS, or even the less-respected PGX) to have it pressed first, and get it pressed by Chris. I know any future books I'm getting graded are going to Chris first!

Also, as a side-note, I want to offer thanks to my friend James Doe of Cabal Books for all of his assistance in figuring-out and navigating the submission-process to CGC which can at times be complicated. As he is a professional in the buying and selling of comics he had all the answers I needed to ensure my books were submitted to CGC correctly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Reviews of Some Books and Comic TPBs I've Read Lately

Reading, Always a Pleasure (Unless the Book Sucks)
I always try to be reading interesting stuff. Be it comics, fiction, non-fiction, or whatever else looks interesting. Thanks to resources such as my local library, Hoopla (a digital system libraries use) and buying some things as well I've read some assorted interesting books and comic trade paperbacks lately. I shall now share reviews of them.

Thoughts on the Things I Read
The Authority by Ed Brubaker & Dustin Nguyen
After The Authority took over the planet Earth in a big event writer Ed Brubaker and artist Dustin Nguyen had the unenviable task of figuring out, "What next?" As some stories have addressed, once you take over the World the easy part is done, the hard part is actually making everything still run. This book addresses that but then realizes having a super-team argue about hemp legalization would be dull if it made-up the whole series so immediately forces try to take the team down and things get interesting when The Authority goes, "Forget it, let Earth do whatever." From that point mysteries arise and the book gets going in earnest with some awesome visuals by Nguyen of weird realities and other trippy things. It was a solid run by Brubaker and Nguyen, and a decent read, but is by no means especially notable.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Emiline: Knight in Training
This book is a fun little book geared towards children in a comics-format that discusses a young knight named Emiline who struggles with reading. The author of the book, Kimberli Johnson, is someone who is herself familiar with this struggle as she has dyslexia. Throughout the book Emiline is encouraged by her friends to think of her strengths anytime she doubts herself and to continue working on reading to build-up her confidence. It is a sweet little book and a great read for families that want to boost the confidence of their little ones who may doubt if they are smart or skilled if they struggle with any specific task. As the book makes clear, we all have our own special abilities and through support can always work on the things we find more challenging.
5 out of 5 stars.

Cinema Sewer Volume 6
Switching gears from a book geared towards kids to one specifically for adults, here is the sixth volume collecting issues of the long-running 'zine, "Cinema Sewer." Started by writer (of most articles) and editor Robin Bougie in 1997, "Cinema Sewer," has since come out annually and then had chunks of its issues collected tidily in softcover books. Bougie will write about a wide-range of subjects, but generally his focus is on trashy cinema from multiple eras including but not limited to, cheesy sci-fi, tacky horror, and vintage hokey porn. As the name implies, Bougie has an extensive knowledge of and fondness for the most garbage-quality movies that ever were made. The secret to all this is how he makes you care about these trashy films. His writing-style is superb and arguably why his 'zine has been so long-running, both funny and laid-back yet encyclopedic and detailed.

Boguie also is a cartoonist and will at times throw in his own funny illustrations and comics about these, "Classic," movies as well which gives things an extra personal touch that he cares enough about some forgotten 1970's raunchy horror movie to do a funny doodle of it. The books that collect the best of his 'zines and have additional unique material are just fun to read in how wide-ranging and zany they are, and I hope Bougie keeps making individual issues and big collections of, "Cinema Sewer," for many more decades to come.
5 out of 5 stars.

Bleeding Skull: A 1980's Trash-Horror Odyssey
Another book that covers the subject of delicious trashy movies, but with this one more exclusively focused on the low-budget horror films of the 80's as opposed to the more wide-ranging view of, "Cinema Sewer." Featuring an alphabetical order of a wide-range of horror movies ranging from those that are arguably diamonds in the rough to so-bad-they're-at-least-interesting, " the book is much like the website dedicated to cult movies it draws its name from (, extremely personable and highly entertaining. These articles about movies are not meant to be thoroughly-researched, but instead feature the authors sharing their thoughts and opinions on the flicks as well as commenting on the kind of era that produced such a surreal mixture of genius, schlock, and ingenious schlock that could've only happened in the Wild West of film-making that was the 1980's. A delightfully weird read.
5 out of 5 stars.

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide 49th Edition
While the value of a comic can suddenly fluctuate with a movie announcement of such (see: anything with Jane Foster as Thor after the most recent CCI/SDCC) there is still a solid reliability to Overstreet an its gold-standard price-guide for examining overall trends and getting a general idea of what a comic may be worth. There are also lots of articles from assorted pros and the main subject of discussion was one of the biggest news stories of the year--the passing of Stan Lee. A lot of discussion about his impact on comics is within the book and then the main contents are of course the detailed pricing guide. It is a stellar reference book and a trusted resource for comic-pricing so it makes sense it'll be celebrating 50 editions/years of success next year.
5 out of 5 stars

Kramer's Ergot 10
The well-known anthology series with longtime editor and contributor Sammy Harkham is at this point arguably beyond much criticism, being the anthology read by both comic-fans and the, "Mainstream," who are willing to read a comic now-and-then if it is respected/popular enough. That said, putting aside all the hype and mythos with a new edition of, "Kramer's Ergot," it is as always a really solid anthology for sure. Anthology books can be really hit-or-miss depending on the tastes of readers, but Kramer's really does usually have something for everyone from artsy-comix fans to those who like some humor, and general solid stuff. I won't give a full break-down of the book as others have written better long-form thoughts than I think I could, but know it is a solid book and a more commercial-friendly version of Kramer's than some more recent editions, for better or worse.
4 out of 5 stars.

Nobody's Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead
Bill Griffith is famous as the creator of the long-running newspaper comic, "Zippy the Pinhead." That is of course a comedic strip, but Griffith's biography of the famous, "Pinhead," Schlitzie is a serious affair (that does still have some humor for situations that were funny). Griffith goes into detail about the possible origins of the famous sideshow performer who appeared within the movie, "Freaks," and by all accounts was a really sweet man who made the best of life despite at times facing horrible mistreatment due to his physical and mental disability.

Griffith also keeps things extra interesting with when he later inserts himself into the story, describing how he first came across Schlitzie within the movie, "Freaks," and then found himself fascinated with the man. The book shifts back into its regular mode after this interesting autobiographical aside, but little personal touches like that which illustrate why Griffith was so fascinated with Schlitzie that he wanted to write about him help make the book feel extra heartfelt and interesting--it of course helps that Griffith is a fabulous illustrator too. It all results in a fascinating story about a real mean who faced many unrealistically difficult situations and challenges.
5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bummer; No, "WILDCATS," Comic in the Foreseeable Future

Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt did a stellar job with their weird reboot of the Wildstorm Universe in their book, "The Wild Storm," which also had an amazing spin-off, "Michael Cray," by the talented Bryan Hill and N. Steven Harris. It was announced there would be a book taking-place after, "The Wild Storm," that would run six issues and be scripted by Warren Ellis with art by Ramon Villalobos, it was to be called, "WILDCATS." I keep using the word, "Was," instead of, "Is," because the book was announced as delayed, then Warren Ellis said in his newsletter (always a good read) that the book was essentially cancelled/dead/not coming out anytime soon.

It is unclear if Ellis is more to blame for this or Villalobos and neither have said anything mean about the other as they both are quite nice fellows. What is clear however, is that as of right now, "WILDCATS," ain't happening, and that is a bummer for someone such as me who always enjoys Ellis' writing and Villalobos' artwork. Maybe someday we will get it in some form, but for now this is just disappointing.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Another Toyman Show is Tomorrow!

I just wanted to remind readers of my blog who are locally-based or will otherwise be in the Saint Louis region tomorrow that there is another Toyman show! That's right, August 4th from 9AM-3PM with the optional early bird entry at 8AM is another stupendous Toyman show! There will be the usual stellar assortment of vendors, creators (of comics, art, prose, and more), and special guests as well! Be there tomorrow at 12365 Saint Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton, MO, 63044 and be prepared to have a lot of fun!