Monday, September 30, 2019

I Kind of Wish I Could Play, "Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3," Without a Nintendo Switch

I had lots of fun playing the first two, "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance," games on my PlayStation devices. There is a 3rd entry in the series, but it is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and I do not have or need that console as I barely have the time to utilize my PlayStation 4 for anything besides playing a DVD of, "Moana," or streaming episodes of, "Word Party," for my son. Still, I kind of wish I could play, "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3," especially with new downloadable content that provides Moon Knight AKA the best hero in the Marvel Universe. He was a secret-ish character in the first game you could only get on certain consoles and maybe was a bit of an afterthought then (he was not playable in the second game), but as his popularity has only grown in recent years and he has that Disney+ show on the way he's getting some more respect.

Do stores still do that thing where you can rent a video-game console for a number of days? I know I can rent video-games from VStock (a great chain of stores) and maybe they offer console rentals too. There are some Family Video stores still around too, maybe they rent consoles? I ask all of this because I just can't rationalize spending a ton of money for a Nintendo Switch if I'm only after one game. I know it has some quality titles too, but again, when will I have the time to play them? Maybe I'll bug a friend with a Nintendo Switch to let me borrow it, that's what friends are for anyway, right? Sharing stuff like laughs, memories, and their Nintendo Switch?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The September 2019 Toyman Show Was Wonderful

Today I had the pleasure of attending another Toyman show! While there I purchased/traded for an assortment of cool stuff and as always I thought I'd highlight some of the awesome treasures I acquired and the fantastic people I met. I began the show chatting with the folk from Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles who had a wide-range of stellar comics for sale, including this superb, "Incredible Hulk #141," I traded some of my own comics for. It features the first appearance of Doc Samson AKA Leonard Samson, the leading psychiatrist to super-heroes who himself has some superhuman gifts. Check it out below!

I continued my time at the show saying hello to some of my chums such as Eric Meyer of STL Comics who will be opening his own brick-and-mortar storefront in the coming months that I'm excited to learn more about as its grand opening approaches! I harassed/chatted with Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles who true to his store's name had some impressive toys and collectibles for sale. There were tons of vendors this show, it felt like there was even more to look at than any previous show, and I spent a good deal of time browsing a wide-range of wares. There was everything you can think of from people with Funko Pops, to vintage Hot Wheels, old-school video-games, posters, and fun horror magazines. I also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the gentlemen from Red Brick Collectibles who were a delight to chat with!

I proceed upstairs to the, "Artist's Attic," which had some wonderful creators whom I enjoy chatting with each time I see them. I bought Jessica Matthew's latest book (illustrated by the amazing Jennifer Stolzer), "The Old Man and the Pirate Princess Meet a Dragon," as shown above, to read to our son, Clarkson. He loves books with animals or big creatures such as dragons! I was excited to talk with J.E. Nelson who has the second book nearing its release date of, "The Power Within," series she has started featuring the tales of a young girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was a pleasure as always too when I saw my friend and author Leigh Savage whom I chatted with about her latest erotica books and upcoming releases as well! One of the big guests in attendance was actor R.A. Mihailoff who has portrayed Leatherface in the, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre III," in addition to being in the, "Pumpkinhead," movies and, "Hatchet II." Despite portraying a number of horrifying individuals on film he was extremely friendly and laid-back, eagerly chatting with the line of fans.

Before heading-out from the show after a number of delightful hours I made sure to stop-by the booth for Alliance Comics, Toys, & Games where I traded them a Funko Pop I had for this awesome all-gold Bruce Lee one pictured above. It was a fantastic way to end my day at the Toyman show. I eagerly await the next one on November 3rd, 2019 which will undoubtedly have more fantastic vendors, creators, and guests. Literally every Toyman show I go to has me leaving with awesome finds and having had amazing conversations with the stupendous people who attend. I must of course thank Chris, "Toyman," McQuillen for another wonderful show and am already eager to see what he has in store for the next one!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Tales From the Dollar Bin: X-Men #1 AKA That Time the X-Men Relaunched and Fought Vampires

There are comics which are worth incredible sums of money, but so many of the most interesting, tragic, or just downright weird can be found for a simple dollar or less in a  store's "dollar bin". There, comics that never gained much popularity can be found alongside those that sold so much as for a copy to be worthless. "Tales From the Dollar Bin" aims to explore these comics, be they a single issue or an entire run of a series. From the great to the miserable, some of the best treasures and worst nightmares can be found in those infamous boxes. Let's have a "tale" now...

X-Men #1...No, The Other One.
The whole X-Men line is heading towards a big relaunch in these coming months and that makes me think back on all the times it has happened before. I was checking the dollar bin at V-Stock and came across one such example--,"X-Men," #1 and #2 of the, "Curse of the Mutants," story-line. After all, the comic, "X-Men," has been relaunched a number of times and in mid-2010 it started-over yet again. They were still living by San Francisco on their own little island called Utopia but they'd bested Norman Osborn during his, "Dark Reign," that occurred after, "Secret Invasion," and everything seemed relatively peachy-keen. However, the X-Men can never be allowed to have happiness so vampires started attacking them, because why not? The first arc of the new, "X-Men," series featured Mutant-on-Vampire action (not in a dirty way like that sounds though) and Blade drops-in too because his whole thing is killing vampires. This story-line is most notable for how fan-favorite mutant Jubilee was turned into a vampire (that doesn't happen in the two debut issues I picked-up for a dollar, but I recall that occurred). That was eventually quietly done away with, but it was kind of wild at the time.
Vampire Jubilee was a thing for a bit.
This re-launch of the X-Men was designed with the intention of having them interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe a great deal so after the shenanigans with vampires there were some other plot-lines with folk like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four stopping by. Eventually this all led into that big, "Avengers VS X-Men," event that was honestly a bit of a mess and then Brian Michael Bendis (this is before his current gig at DC) re-launched the X-Men yet again in 2012 with his big story where the X-Men from the past are brought to present by Beast because time-travel never causes problems, right? You can't tell as this is text, but that last sentence was dripping with sarcasm.

I kinda read a bit of the time-displaced X-Men arc, but then the X-books in general fell to the wayside for me as Marvel tried as hard as it could to ignore mutants and instead make us care about the Inhumans (even going so far as to have Inhuman and Mutants fighting for unclear reasons beyond a magic cloud) before realizing nobody would ever care about the Inhumans beyond their role as supporting characters (a few individual characters who happen to be Inhumans and beloved like Ms. Marvel aside) and they were mostly killed-off in 2018.
The latest re-launch will be on stands soon!
Now we are at the latest re-launch of the X-Men however with Jonathan Hickman steering the ship and it looks really promising so far. I am actually very interested in comics related to the X-Men again and will be reading them with much enthusiasm. I don't know if these new X-Men comics will become popular and hard-to-find years from now like some of the older stories, or thought of as mostly unremarkable and easy to find for cheap. However, that uncertainty is one thing that always makes it fun to tell...a tale from the dollar bin!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Sony and Disney/Marvel Realize How Much Money They Could Lose, Make-Up

There was of course a lot of hubbub over the concern that Marvel's film studios and Sony's movie division were having a nasty disagreement over the continued use of Spider-Man and his associated IP properties when it came to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and whatever Sony is cooking-up with Spidey (supposedly called, "Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters," the last time I checked) and his tangentially-related films like, "Venom," "Morbius," and apparently, "Madame Web," of all things. Well, Sony and Disney (who of course owns Marvel) had their, "Come to Jesus moment," and realized how much money stood to be lost if they were quarreling instead of just coming to some kind of deal. 

There are hints this new deal may be sweeter for Sony by letting MCU-stuff appear in the other Sony movies with Spidey-characters, or maybe at least Tom Holland's Spidey will at least be able to pop-up in the other Sony flicks without issue--this has all just been announced so time will tell what exactly was worked-out beyond some initial details (namely that Marvel will be involved in one more, "Spider-Man," movie and he'll be allowed to appear in another Marvel film as further plans possibly made). Basically, all is well again in the world of super-hero movies so everyone can just calm down and quit panicking at the idea Spider-Man will never get to say, "Hi," to the Avengers again.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

I'm Shocked it Took This Long to Move Towards Impeaching Trump

The House of Representatives is moving to impeach Trump due to the possibility he promised political favors/threatened to withhold military support from the Ukraine unless they tried to get him dirt on Hunter Biden (the son of Presidential Candidate Joe Biden), and I'm amazed it took this long for  House Democrats (and one or two Republicans) to grow a spine and for Impeachment to actually be, "On the table." Out of so many impeachable offenses it seems one finally is sticking. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi was scared that impeaching Trump would offend some theoretical and mythological swing voters who supported Trump in 2016 but might vote for a Democrat in 2020 and that is why she and the House Dems dragged their feet so long, but finally something is happening. I would say anyone who actually still supports Trump at this point is so opposed to the reality of how he is a corrupt, treasonous human being thinking they'll ever vote for a Democrat is hilariously misguided, but that's just my opinion.

Now, even if Trump is impeached this simply means there will be a trial in the Senate where all the Republicans who support their orange tyrant over the good of the Nation will make sure he is not kicked-out of office, but it will serve to illustrate just how awful this President is and as time goes on the Republicans who put their thirst for power ahead of a functioning and healthy Democracy will forever be remembered in history as the terrible humans they are/were. Their actions and Trump's behavior will serve as a big ol' stain as embarrassing to our Country as McCarthyism and the Japanese Internment Camps. I just pray Trump and his cronies like Mitch McConnell are not able to rig the vote enough to prevent all the reasonable people who see how terrible Trump is to get him thrown out of office and put firmly in prison where he belongs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"Uncut Gems," May Be an Example of What Happens When Adam Sandler Actually Tries

I once had the idea for a, "Film Friday," post that I never actually made because it seemed like it would be redundant in a field where many had expressed the same thought I had. My working title was something like, "The Tragedy of Adam Sandler." In the post I would have argued that Adam Sandler of all people could really act when he actually was trying, but with so many mediocre-to-Godawful movies to his name people often forgot he had legitimate skill. Just watch, "Punch Drunk Love," and how amazing Sandler is in that, or even the critically-reviled, "Men, Women, and Children," which I will admit tries way too hard in some of its stories about a bunch of characters who find their lives negatively impacted by social media, but I'll be damned if Sandler does not do a great job in that movie. He plays a husband who is cheating on his wife, realizes she is cheating too, and at the end of the movie masterfully and subtly hints they both know everything but should just let it go because they have a nice little suburban life--it's a depressing and incredible scene. I can't find it online but here are some quotes to give you an idea.

Anyhow, I never made the post as lots of people online have remarked how Sandler can actually act when he isn't just making dumb comedy movies as an excuse to take his friends and family on paid vacations, and I felt little need to join the chorus. Even if I didn't make the post it was still something I often thought, how that if we just got another movie where Sandler was actually trying and showing-off his ability to act it could result in something that might be really special. Well, here comes, "Uncut Gems."



"Uncut Gems," looks tonally a lot like the last movie from the directing duo Josh and Benny Safdie, "Good Times." The two brothers worked together to make a disorienting, weird, and unpredictable flick with another often underestimated actor (Robert Pattinson) and, "Uncut Gems," seems to be similar in the sense it appears to be totally bonkers. Adam Sandler is actually doing a really good job showing his acting skills in the trailer and this looks intense and wild. It follows Sandler as a jeweler named Howard Ratner who gets himself embroiled in a big bet that could lead to everything crashing-down around him or make him rich beyond belief.

This movie looks incredibly promising and if on December 13th is turns out to be as good as it looks I will not be surprised. I won't be surprised because the Safdie brothers have shown their directing skills before and Sandler has made it clear when he puts forth the effort he is a man who can act incredibly well. Here's hoping the potential success of, "Uncut Gems," also inspires Sandler to do more films that show-off his talent and less stuff like, "Jack and Jill."

Monday, September 23, 2019

Actor Sid Haig Has Passed

Popular character-actor and man known for generally being a great guy, Sid Haig, has sadly passed. He was often found in supporting roles in a number of films and is best-known by many younger fans for playing, "Captain Spaulding," in a number of Rob Zombie films, including, "3 From Hell," which has had a small release and I believe officially comes-out Nationwide October 5th. I always enjoyed seeing Haig on film screens or in television shows. You never knew where he was going to pop-up, but when he did he was a delight to see.

By all accounts a smart and caring man, any interview I ever watched done with him was entertaining and friends of mine who would see him at horror conventions (I have some chums who go to ones like, "Walker Stalker," religiously) would tell me he was the kindest and friendliest celebrity there--just simply excited to talk with fans and not at all rude or full of himself as anyone who has been to a con would attest some of the, "Names," at shows sometimes can be.

Haig had been open about his declining health and it was impressive he was still doing as much as he was considering he turned 80 this year. Tributes from those who knew him or loved his work have been going-up online. Sid Haig will be missed, he was a really cool guy and I was a fan of his for sure.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

McDonald's Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich is an Edible Form of Disappointment

Lately everyone has been wanting to eat and talk about two food crazes:

1. Meat that is actually made from plants but tastes real.

2. Chicken sandwiches.

The meat-that-is-actually-made-from-plants tastes pretty decent, actually, and as long as one of the company's with a good-tasting product are used (and basically everyone is getting in on the trend now) it is pretty hard for fast-food chains capitalizing on that popularity to mess it up. However, when it comes to making a quality chicken sandwich that seems to be something with a bit more of a struggle. We all know that for a long time Chick-Fil-A was considered to have one of the tastiest chicken sandwiches but also had a severe case of, "Being jerks towards LGBTQ people,"and still as a company sometimes makes troubling comments--but I digress. Chick-Fil-A was the leader of chicken sandwiches and nobody came close...till recently.

Anyways, Popeye's debuted a chicken sandwich that inspired countless memes thanks to its apparently being so delicious people would wait hours in line for it to the point it was sold-out all across America (people were threatening to rob stores in disbelief they could truly be out of the sandwiches). Success breeds imitation so McDonald's let it be known they were going to come out with a Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich all their own that was sure to spur cheers of joy and get people so excited they started ripping-off their clothes and dancing in the streets with glee for this new champion of the chicken sandwiches. Well, I tried one and it is actually pretty unremarkable.
You can get the, "Spicy," BBQ sauce on the tenders too,
but why bother?
My post's title says how this sandwich is an edible form of disappointment, and that is not hyperbole. Everything about this sandwich seems presentable-but-below-average. It is not particularly big, it can have some soggy pickles and slivered onions on it if you want but they add very little, and it lacks any real spice. Seriously, I am a wimp when it comes to any kind of spicy food generally and after I finished the whole sandwich I found myself remarking, "And the spice was where?" 

The chicken itself is fine, just kind of a like a McChicken patty covered in vaguely-sweet and completely unremarkable BBQ sauce that despite the sandwich's title is as spicy as a glass of milk. McDonald's had a solid chance to enter into the chicken sandwich fray with a contender and instead of rolling-up ready to fight they just kind of stumbled into the arena before passing-out in the middle drunk on their own unearned self-confidence. The Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich does not taste bad, but its a long way from impressing anyone. I give it 2 out of 5 stars and would recommend just getting some chicken nuggets instead.

Friday, September 20, 2019

I Can't Easily Get a New Simon Hanselmann Cartoon Due to Kylie Jenner

I saw this tweet from the amazingly talented Simon Hanselmann, whose work I of course adore and always try to buy copies of. He has a six-page strip in the latest issue of, "Playboy," the Fall 2019, "Pleasure," themed issue. Upon seeing this today I figured it would not be too hard to get a copy, right? "Playboy," has spoken publicly before about how they sell less copies due to the fact the internet has made it incredibly easier to see nudity (or outright sex/crazy fetishes/etc.) and now the people who still read, "Playboy," honestly do so for the quality articles or in this case, comics. I went to the Playboy webstore to order a copy and found it was sold-out. I found this odd, figured it was maybe a glitch or temporary and decided to check eBay where copies were selling for double cover-price or more. At this point I was confused and did some Googling. Upon doing so I learned from news websites that this issue is really popular because it features none other than Kylie Jenner posing nude with boyfriend and Father of their child, Travi$/Travis Scott.

Because Kylie Jenner has droves of fans who follow her on social media, buy her products, or otherwise adore her they apparently were eager to buy-up the issue of, "Playboy," with her featured as anything with Kylie Jenner involved (regardless how dressed or undressed) is going to be a big seller for all the men and women who are her big fans. This means that Kylie Jenner has made it really hard to me to buy a comic from Simon Hanselmann. I guess my next step to acquire this issue of, "Playboy," for a decent price is to actually go to a physical location that sells magazines and politely ask if they have the latest issue of, "Playboy," which is embarrassing--not because I care if people see me buying an adult magazine (I'm too sex-positive to care about that) but because the people selling me the magazine will probably think I want it due to being a fan of Kylie Jenner. That is mortifying as the only Jenner or Kardashian I can stand in the least is maybe Kourtney. Anyways, to summarize all this I can't buy a normally unpopular softcore nudie magazine with a comic I want to read due to Kylie Jenner. That is a sentence I did not expect to type this week.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"Best Bear Ever," by Liz Climo is a Delight!

I have encountered the comics of Liz Climo online often from people who share my enthusiasm for her funny and oftentimes sweet cartoons of animals doing funny stuff. With this in mind I picked-up a copy of one of her books collecting her works, "Best Bear Ever," which follows a theme of going through a year from Spring, to Summer, to Fall, and of course Winter, with a number of comics themed for those seasons or which are just funny in general.

Ms. Climo says in the introduction of her book she wanted to create comics that were sweet and humorous as opposed to all the negative, mean, and otherwise nasty material we at times find online. I would say she succeeded wonderfully as all of the comics in, "Best Bear Ever," are a treat. Climo has a sense of humor that is both a bit dry yet still gentle and sweet, resulting in comics that make you laugh without feeling as if you're guffawing at anyone's expense--it is just good-natured fun.

Any comic with a Duckbilled Platypus is a winner for me!
Climo's art is clean and precise, with many of her scenes relatively minimalist except for the main characters in a strip and any objects that are directly important. This scaled-back style makes what we do see on the page--the animals--especially stand-out and draw our full attention as they do an assortment of humorous and otherwise enjoyable things. Climo does not outright anthropomorphize her creations, with some standing upright but many looking quiet natural still, giving her creations a cartoony-vibe without seeming too foreign/abstract to our eyes when we see the adorable critters.
"Best Bear Ever," is a delight of a book, full of fantastic comics that made me smile and giggle a good deal as I read it. Between her masterful sense of humor and fantastic artwork she knows how to make a stellar comic, and does so repeatedly throughout this awesome book. I rate, "Best Bear Ever," a glowing 5 out of 5 stars and would encourage everyone to check it out!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Yes, Another Streaming Service--"Peacock," From NBC

Remember back in July when I was whining about there being too many darn streaming services (at that time is was the new HBO MAX being announced as an addition to the dog-pile) and how it is getting to the point where it will actually be cheaper to just have Cable and DVR than bothering with these countless apps/websites? Well I have wonderful news (sarcasm intended)! NBC is launching their own streaming service called, "Peacock," which will have a variety of new and old NBC programs such as that, "The Office," show some of my friends are always quoting to my immense confusion as I only ever watched about one and a half episodes before I shrugged, muttered, "Nah," and went back to watching, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

To be honest, this is not completely surprising. "The Office," was not re-signed to Netflix where it currently resides some time ago which made people wonder if NBC had plans, and while a number of networks can have their programming found on Hulu--Fox, ABC, and NBC (with CBS having its own streaming service, the mostly ignored, "CBS All Access,") now Hulu will find itself with some NBC stuff but more and more may drain to the Peacock. This isn't a huge deal for Hulu, however, as Disney now basically owns it since their acquisition of Fox giving them a controlling share and the plan with Hulu seems to be putting the more R-rated stuff on that platform which Disney's sub-companies produce because Disney's other streaming service the soon-to-launch Disney+ will be more for families and not have anything beyond PG-13-ish programs (I hope, "Moon Knight," isn't too toned-down).
Just a silver of streaming options.
Will all these streaming-services reach a critical-mass where people throw their arms up in frustration and either just back back to Cable/Satellite and pirate all the streaming-only content? Perhaps, because that rise in piracy is already happening from folk annoyed at the idea of subscribing to 30 services that each only have one desired show and little else of interest. It is getting a good deal irritating to see these countless streaming services emerge and our household basically has some key ones and we will not bother with a lot of them even if it means missing-out on a show or two that might sound cool. Otherwise, you end-up spending a ton of money and drive yourself crazy trying to remember which service you need for each show you like. In the meantime, I'll just watch Cable as a way to pass some time while I wait for all these streaming services to eventually start cannibalizing each other.

Monday, September 16, 2019

About My Son, Clarkson

I want to tell everyone about someone. My son, Clarkson, is 2 and-a-half years old. He is energetic, loves to laugh, adores foods that are crunchy (apples and almost any kind of chip are arguably his favorites), enjoys kisses as well as tickles, and has autism. His developmental delays started becoming noticeable after he had a follow-up NICU appointment at 1-and-a-half years of age (due to being a preemie he had consistent check-ups until he turned two). Whereas once he had seemed to mostly be on-track developmentally, some regression was noticeable (less babbling, minimal interest in responding to people to the point it was wondered if he might have a hearing problem, and so forth). We started working with a number of organizations that help children with delays such as Parents as Teachers which then also referred us to First Steps (we didn't qualify for First Steps when Clarkson was initially born due to his being too big, but we did qualify after a later First Steps' evaluation confirmed he had some notable delays).

We worked with those programs and saw improvement and development, but Clarkson still seemed to be lagging behind. He was mostly nonverbal outside of, "Mom," "Dad," and, "No." He never wanted to look at people or really interact with them--adults or kids. He was object-driven and not people-driven. At his last NICU follow-up after he turned 2 they said the delays were bigger, and while they could not officially diagnose anything as their specialty was as neonatologists it looked quite likely Clarkson may have a form of autism. That was March of 2019. From that point we started getting more services from First Steps by adding in more behavior therapy in the form of ABA and enrolled Clarkson in half-day daycare three days a week to work on his socialization with other children as the daycare we wanted him to try only took kids two-and-up, which he had just turned. We began the lengthy process of filling-out and submitting paperwork to have Clarkson tested officially for ASD--Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Story-time at Barnes and Noble last weekend!
On July 30th, 2019, we saw a number of specialists, reviewed everything about Clarkson with them, assisted with a variety of tests that Clarkson did in addition to his being observed, and were told that yes, Clarkson has ASD. We were informed he had the most severe level, level 3, due to the delays being at the point where overall developmentally he was at about a 1 year-old's level of development and his speech and language was at the point of an 8 or 9 month old child. The diagnosis was not a surprise, it was expected, but it still was anxiety-inducing and stress-causing as we did not realize just how delayed Clarkson arguably was. I will freely admit to feeling sad, worried, and otherwise upset at knowing my son was not neurotypical. Perhaps I wished he would be as I am someone with my own issues in the form of depression, anxiety, and so forth.

Knowing my son Clarkson had autism put me awash in a sea of emotions. Being reassured that a number of people with Autism live very fulfilling lives without the need for much extra assistance and others do need help was of some comfort, yet still I was worrying. Being told the statistics on speech and talking and wondering if my son will have much of any vocabulary was often being thought-about in my mind. Feeling guilty about being upset because there are children who are born with extremely severe disabilities like missing limbs, being unable to even breathe or eat on their own, because here was my son who has stellar motor skills (those are not delayed, he can jump and run like nobody's business) and is generally very joyful as long as he doesn't need a nap (then he gets really cranky) who happens to have ASD but is otherwise perfectly healthy. You feel a lot of ways coming to an understanding that you are a parent of a child with special needs.
Enjoying the trampolines at Flying Spider earlier today.

With Clarkson's diagnosis we were able to increase the hours of some of his therapies but also still make sure he has plenty of time to have fun, nap, and otherwise enjoy life as a 2 year-old. The people we work with for Clarkson's therapies are amazing and understanding. They have helped us immensely on the journey of noticing delays, to getting tested, to having an official diagnosis of ASD. I do not love my son any less or feel any different about him knowing he has ASD, but I will say I worry about the difficulties he may face in life. The World is already hard, and being different in any way can make it even more tricky. Clarkson has many people who love him however, from his aunts and uncles to his grandparents and our family friends so no matter what challenges he'll face, there are people eager to back him up.

As Clarkson starts to grow older and with the assistance of therapy he is now much more interested in people and loves to interact with kids his age, playing with toys and sharing laughter with friends. Clarkson is learning how to do stuff at his own pace and we are there to encourage him to engage in both independent and social play, learn about sorting, counting, and shapes--all of that stuff that maybe requires he puts forth a little bit of extra effort compared to other kids because he has his autism making learning certain things a little bit more strenuous. He is learning though, and developing new skills and interests everyday.
I took this picture from above his crib as he woke the other day.
He was still pretty groggy, clearly.
No one should ever tell you how you can or cannot feel as a parent of a child with special needs. You can be sad and worry. You can be happy for the small accomplishments that others maybe take their kid being able to do for granted and the big accomplishments as well. You as the parent are not, "Broken," due to having a child with special needs. Your child is not broken either, just different and working on things in their own way with help from others. When it comes to ASD there is a lot of information online, and a whole heaping ton of misinformation as well which can make finding accurate data and facts a little trickier. There are some extremely false beliefs about autism and off-the-wall theories about how everything from vitamin-shots to special diets can, "Cure it," as well as if it is caused by everything from radio signals to vaccines due to one fraudulent study decades ago. We do not know an exact cause of autism and there is no special treatment or cure. However, working with your child to help them grow and develop with peer-reviewed and scientifically-proven practices is going to help them a lot more than denying your child is different or buying into outlandish theories with snake-oil salesman peddling cures and fix-alls that are more quackery than medicine.

Clarkson having autism is not a secret. We have told friends, family, and even strangers out-and-about who ask questions about why he makes little hissing sounds when he is happy or slaps his legs when he's excited. We explain he does not yet know how to talk but is working on it, and his slapping of his legs is a form of stimming he does to help with processing everything he is taking-in. I just have not really talked about all this on Facebook (outside of some groups for parents I joined) or on my blog as it has taken some time to process everything. That, and I just did not feel ready to deal with the possible ignorance I may face due to all the aforementioned incorrect opinions and misinformation/outright lies about autism. I am at a point now however where I won' hesitate to tell a person claiming vaccines caused Clarkson's autism to shut their idiot mouth, and I will feel zero urge to apologize for calling them an idiot due to the fact I will always defend my son from ignorance.
He stopped enjoying all the toys at one of our favorite play-places, "Grandma's Playroom,"
because, "The Price is Right," came on the television that morning.

I am also now in a mental place where I do not feel self-conscious if he starts having a sensory meltdown or gets loud at the grocery store. People can stare and assume he is simply behaving badly, they are wrong. I do not need to loudly announce, "My son has autism," to these people, they can incorrectly guess whatever they want, but should someone inquire about Clarkson's sounds and behaviors, I will without hesitation provide information and education. I want to inform people about ASD and I also want them to know it is not the only thing they should be aware of when it comes to my child as that is not what defines him. I will tell them how Clarkson has ASD, yes, but I will also let people know he is a big fan of jumping on trampolines, how one of his favorite shows is inexplicably, "The Price is Right," because he seems to love how much people on the show shout and cheer, and that Clarkson used to not really be into books but in the past month has developed a strong affinity towards ones about animals such as a short book about a duck with a book of his own he shares with the other farm animals and another about a bear who steals honey from bees (not Winnie the Pooh, this is some random dumb bear who also gets stuck in a bunny's burrow when he tries to escape the angry bees, it is pretty funny).

My son is named Clarkson and he is one of the most important people in the world to me. When he and my wife, Samii, are with me on the couch that means the two individuals I love more than anything else are sitting by my side and that makes me feel so happy. I would not change Clarkson in any way and every single day I am thankful he is in the life of my wife and myself. Today before he fell asleep for his nap he laid-down next to me, looked in my eyes,  and gave me the biggest loving smile. I told him I loved him and gave him a kiss on the cheek at which point he dozed-off and I moved him to his crib so he could get in a quality nap (again, he is very cranky without his nap). That is just one moment out of many I get to treasure thanks to having Clarkson as my son. I wanted to tell you all about him, and now that I have done so I hope you see just how incredible a person he is too.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Schnuck's Brand Soda is Tasty

If you live in the Saint Louis region you are probably familiar with a number of grocery chains that are local. Dierbergs, Straubs, and of course Schnucks. Schnucks recently introduced a new line of sodas that are quite tasty (for the most part). They are very inexpensive but don't taste, "Cheap," as you sometimes hear said of other less-costly soda brands like well-known punching-bag Vess. There are your usual flavors of Cola, Diet Cola, Dr. Lou (like Dr. Pepper), Grape, Black Cherry, and Root Beer. In addition, some more out-there flavors exist which are pretty interesting like Pineapple, Strawberry, Red Cream, Fruit Punch, and so forth.

I have tried most of the flavors (I'm too scared to give Pineapple a chance) and would say that the only flavor I outright disliked is Black Cherry--this is strange as I generally like that flavor. Besides that, however, I have been a fan of the colas, Dr. Lou, Root Beer, Grape, Strawberry, Red Cream, and so forth. Schnucks sodas are really yummy and if you find yourself around the Saint Louis area at a Schnucks grocery store I would recommending trying them out.

Note: This is an opinion piece, nobody asked me to write this and Schnucks is not paying me or anything. That said, if Schnucks wants to send me some free soda anytime I would welcome a few 2 liters of Red Cream.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

If I Were A Super-Villain My Evil Plan Would Go Kinda Like This...


I was thinking the other day about how I an not a super-villain, and I have zero desire to be one. That said, if I did want to be a super-villain, I do have the best evil plan ever. To see what I mean, please refer to the super-detailed and complicated drawing I did above and then read on...

Basically, my dastardly plan is to purchase a vacant strip mall on a little hill and then at opposite sides of it install a Walmart and Trader Joe's. These two establishments are notorious for having some of the worst parking lots ever, so between the slight incline that is just steep enough to cause trouble and these two businesses at separate ends of my parking lot there is sure to be mass mayhem, confusion, and otherwise lots of people honking their horns and cursing with displeasure. I am not doing this evil plan simply to cause trouble however--I am not some chaotic evil person who just wants to, "Watch the World burn."
An actual Trader Joe's parking lot.
Just picture this multiplied by a Walmat lot!
No, I am doing this plan because the inevitable news stories and memes about this, "Worst parking lot ever," will allow me to get famous and in the process score all kinds of sponsorship deals as the super-villain America loves to hate. With this money I will then donate most of it to charity so that in the ultimate twist I am a super-villain and super-hero at the same time, allowing me to both cackle with evil glee at the turmoil in my parking lot from my perch to the side (as pictured) and still feel like I'm doing good in the World. Also, with the bit of money I do keep I'll go buy some more, "Everything but the bagel," seasoning at the Trader Joe's in my plaza because that stuff is delicious.

Friday, September 13, 2019

"Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child," Features an Artist in Their Prime and a Writer Well Past It

Frank Miller is a man who has created some amazing comics but I think 99% of people will agree is way past his prime in terms of his creative output as a writer. He does not do too much art anymore either, but I have an affinity for his style even at its roughest so while I'd dismiss much of his recent writing I still like his drawing. That said, hearing he is going to be writing another one-shot set in his, "Dark Knight Returns," Universe that gave us one amazing book ("The Dark Knight Returns,") and a lot of garbage (everything else) which is to be titled, "Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child," made me feel completely uninspired...until I heard who the artist is.

Rafael Grampá is an absolutely incredibly artist whose style reminds me of if Geoff Darrow and Paul Pope somehow had a baby and that baby grew-up to draw insanely gorgeous and kinetic comics (I know they both are not much older than Grampá, but shut-up, its my metaphor and I'll do what I like). Upon reading about this 48 page one-shot that features the writing of Miller and the art of Grampá  I felt the weirdest mixture of dread and joy that is hard to describe--it is kind of like how you would feel if it were an incredibly hot afternoon and the ice cream truck was coming around the bend blaring an announcement about how all the ice cream is free today...but you also notice it's being driven by scary clown covered in blood (another weird metaphor, I'm aware I am on quite the roll today).

I guess my point in all this is I'll probably buy, "Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child," but I expect the actual plot and dialogue to be terrible whilst I spend most of my time just ogling the incredible visuals. For all I know the story might actually be decent too, but as this is Frank Miller in 2019 we are talking about, I do not plan on it. Again though, Grampá  will be superb.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

My Thoughts on Mountain Dew's Mystery Flavor, VooDEW

I am that odd person who does not really like Mountain Dew itself but enjoys a number of its offshoot flavors. I love, "Code Red," and was a fan of, "Livewire," which I think still sometimes comes out. I did not hate, "Pitch Black," and the Lemonade flavor you could get at Taco Bell for awhile was pretty solid. I know I'm forgetting a number of temporary flavors because there have been many but my point is I tend to like at least trying them. That brings us to the Fall/Halloween 2019 Mountain Dew event flavor, the humorously titled, "VooDEW." It is a mystery flavor, meaning Mountain Dew won't tell us what it is supposed to taste like, we just have to figure out for ourselves what it is. I took on this challenge because I am naturally curious about mysteries even if I suck at solving them (I never could figure-out who the real villain was in any, "Scooby Doo," episodes). I bought a bottle at my local Schnucks grocery store, drank it, and have thoughts to share.

VooDEW presents itself in a somewhat unappetizing way. It is a weird milky-white color with a dark orange and purple label that causes the white to stick-out even more. Thankfully, the taste is better than the color. It is a bit like carbonated orange skittles, which if you like skittles is a good thing (should you hate skittles, you will be quite disappointed). One person online (Kotaku's Zack Zwiezen) said it reminds them a bit of an orange cream soda which I kind of see where they are coming from, but I tasted less of a cream-sensation so much as a that slightly chemical-vibe you would get if you were to eat (you guessed it) orange skittles mixed with club soda. That maybe sounds a bit odd, but I liked it even if I didn't love it.
I found VooDEW to be decent if lacking in any sort of, "WOW factor. It is another welcome addition to the Mountain Dew family of random and wacky flavors and even if I don't adore it, I can say with 100% confidence it is much better than the all-time worst flavor, Baja Blast (come at me, internet). Should you want to try it I recommend you visit your local grocery store/pharmacy/gas station/extreme skate park, you know, anywhere Mountain Dew products are sold. Should you be unable to buy VooDew anywhere close you can always buy it online right from Amazon as well if it is not temporarily sold-out as seems to happen sometimes. Overall, I rate this soda as 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9/11/2001 Was 18 Years Ago

It was 9/11/2001. I was living in West Virginia at the time and in 8th grade. I was in my first class that morning after our initial Homeroom that I can't quite remember the subject of--it was English-related but had more to do with reading literature than learning grammar or such. The class had just ended and someone said how on the news they were saying one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit by a plane, a gas leak had gone off inside, or some other freak accident, people were not sure. Not too much later in my Algebra class we were told that the 2nd World Trade Center tower had been struck by a plane, and clearly America was under attack. The day all that happened felt like simply too much to take in and I was unsure how to respond. I just felt numb and confused. Then the Pentagon was hit and one other plane crashed Pennsylvania, the passengers had fought-back against the terrorists aboard. It was overwhelming.

The next day is when it really hit me, as all the images of sheer terror played-out on the television screens, collecting what had been recorded of towers falling, people running and screaming, the death-total rising...it made me and pretty much everyone else in my school cry as basically every class had the news on with us watching instead of doing our classes. Eventually the Principal had everyone just shut the televisions off in our classrooms because it was just bringing everyone undue stress and misery, but whether we had our T.V. screens going or were browsing the still-quite-basic-compared-to-today internet, something had changed for the many of us who had never lived in an America which had suffered an attack from a foreign entity on our home soil--the last time that had happened was Pearl Harbor decades ago.

Some years later I would move to Upstate New York, some hours from the city, and meet people who had lost loved ones on 9/11. My heart would ache for them then, and it still does. It was an awful day and thinking back to it 18 years later it is weird how some parts of it feel incredibly distant and other memories of that day feel immediate. Many politicians have used 9/11 for political gain while not actually caring about those affected, and countless civilians (famous like Jon Stewart and non-famous alike) have worked tirelessly to care for those first responders who now years later suffer health ailments from exposure to all kinds of chemicals, dust, and debris in the wreckage of the Towers and Pentagon.

9/11 has at times been reduced to more of a talking-point and some people like our so-called President Donald Trump would rather make the occasion all about them than the thousands of people who died or lost loved ones. Trump make everything about him however, and it would be hoping for too much to think he'd realize a day like 9/11 is about a lot more than one person (even a huge narcissist like him). Some people will never learn. There are still those who try to make all kinds of conspiracy theories sound true about that day, ignoring the simple and depressing truth that there was no master plan, it was just a huge intelligence failure on a massive scale that illustrated how vulnerable our Nation could be if someone really wanted to hurt it, but again, some people will never learn.

Now there are people who will be old enough to vote this year who only know of 9/11 from their history books or watching old footage, that is how much time has passed. I won't claim there was some lesson to learn or try to make foolish silver-lining claims about how it, "Brought us together," or other platitudes, because it shouldn't take a terrorist attack to make a Nation feel unified. It was a tragedy and the best thing we can do is honor those we lost and try to prevent something similar from happening again. The most darkly ironic thing is that now, 18 years later, our Country may be at its most divided since the 1960's and we are facing an epidemic of homegrown terrorists committing mass-shootings at an alarming rate.

It isn't Al-Qaeda we most need to fear now, it is our own hatred towards whoever we think is, "The other." 9/11/2001 was 18 years ago, but humankind's ability to hate one another is unending, be it foreign powers flying planes into our buildings or our own citizens shooting-up public places. I have no solution, the only thing I can do is hope that eventually love can win-out over hate, because as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." I hope eventually the burden of hate can be cast-off by more of us, because it seems all-encompassing in our Country right now. I can only dream and do the best I can to spread more love than hate.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

My Latest Post is Up on Cinemaways!

I have another contribution up at the great website, Cinemaways. This time I'm discussing the top 10 movie sociopaths or psychopaths who AREN'T villains. We are so used to those kinds of characters being the bad-guys it is was fun to write about individuals in flicks who are basically terrible, but within their film maybe garner some sympathy or are even heroes. Check it out if you enjoy my style of writing (e.g. the ramblings of a man who either needs more coffee or has had too much coffee).

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Dreamcast Came Out 20 Years Ago Today (In America)

I know it launched in Japan in 1998, but for me the U.S. launch of the Sega Dreamcast holds a special place in my heart. 9/9/1999 was the day the console that was just too ahead of its time and too beautiful to exist went on sale in America. That is 20 years ago today. It had awesome and quirky games I still fondly recall ("Crazy Taxi," "Sonic Adventure 1 & 2," "Seaman," "Shenmue," and the list goes on), was capable of connecting to the internet for multiplayer gaming back when that was a shockingly new concept (outside of PCs). It was a console ahead of its time and the last one Sega released before deciding to focus instead on making games for everyone else's consoles. Nowadays it is commonplace to see Sonic and Mario popping-up in the same game, but back in the 1990's that would have been unthinkable.

The Sega Dreamcast provided some of my happiest video-gaming memories, and it was beloved by countless others too. It literally changed lives and I hold fond memories to this day of the last and best console Sega released--heck, it arguably was the best console ever. 20 years on so many of us still crack that little smile of joy when we think about time playing the Dreamcast, that proves more than anything just how much of an impact it made on those of us lucky enough to have enjoyed it in its too-short prime.

That controller was honestly pretty terrible though.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

"Trench Dogs," Review

"Trench Dogs," is an original graphic novel that came out last year from newer publisher, Dead Reckoning. Dead Reckoning itself is owned by the Naval Institute Press, which is, "The publishing arm of the U.S. Naval Institute, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, professional military membership association. Through Dead Reckoning, the Naval Institute seeks to broaden the community of those who understand the history, dedication, and experiences of all who serve." Basically, it  has the goal of publishing comics that explore military and naval history through both nonfiction and fiction means. As I am a history nerd this appeals to me.

It is interesting when a nonprofit enters into comic-book making, as it can produce works that don't have to sell a ton of copies or be super-commercial. The announcement of a different new publisher the other week that is non-profit, Fieldmouse Press, shows it is a growing group of entities who want to make comics published by their organizations. Anyways, the reason, "Trench Dogs," caught my attention when I heard about it coming-out from Dead Reckoning is that it happens to focus on World War One, a war often give a lot less attention. Also, "Trench Dogs," does the clever thing sometimes seen in other comics about war (such as the seminal, "Maus,") where it turns the people fighting the the wars into different animals depending on their Nationalities.

"Trench Dogs," was created by Ian Densford and he does a stellar job mixing the anthropomorphic soldiers and civilians with scenes of both peaceful everyday life and a war that was brutal. If this comic had the soldiers as humans it would maybe be too grotesque for many readers to handle, but thanks to thanks to the slight cartoon-element it allows people to witness how horrific war back then was (and still continues to be) in a manner that informs without shutting-down the reader. "Trench Dogs," is presented with very little speech from any characters or narrative captions, but Dendsford and the Dead Reckoning website helpfully provide a detailed study guide that goes in-depth about much that is in the book and provides further explanation about the historical elements of everything Densford draws in the comic.

"Trench Dogs," is a fascinating read that touches-upon many aspects of World War I and is a good way for those less knowledgeable about the first, "War to end all wars," to learn a bit about it in a visual manner. Ian Densford is a fantastic illustrator who portrays how ugly and terrible war is with some of the edge that might turn-off more sensitive readers a bit filed-down thanks to the anthropomorphic art-style. It is quite a good read and I recommend it to anyone who is a history buff or loves comics that are a bit more out-there than the norm.
5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Is Nicki Minaj Retiring or Just Trolling Us?

I have never made it a secret I lack much of any enthusiasm for Nicki Minaj. Unlike the rapper who has taken a lot of press that Nicki used to get, Cardi B., whom I have at times been really hard on but will admit has some solid jams and is a pleasant person, anything I've ever heard Nicki rap on has only suffered from her presence. Also, she apparently is a huge, "Meanie," to put it politely. Nicki Minaj tweeted yesterday how she plans to retire from rapping and focus on starting a family with her love, Kenneth Petty. This announcement of course had nothing to do with how none of Nicki's songs were hitting the radio/streaming/etc. lately and how dare anyone state she is desperate to troll us all for some press.

I don't know what Nicki Minaj's long-game is here, but if she is indeed retiring or simply taking a break from rap to truly focus on starting a family I honestly wish her the best as I love being a parent and would tell you having a kid/kids is awesome. If this is just a ploy to get media attention however, then that is honestly par for the course with Nicki doing whatever it takes to get headlines besides actually, you know, making good music.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Etsy's Got Some Drama with Sellers

I like buying stuff from Etsy on occasion. Whether it is nice presents for my loved ones or old vintage comic-books for myself, it is a fun place to shop. I of course do a chunk of selling things on eBay as a hobby, and once dabbled in trying to sell older stuff on Etsy too, but I just lack the right skills pro-Etsy users do, plus my crafting abilities are nonexistent so I am unable to sell neat handmade jewelry, woodworking, furniture, or the like. In other words I don't have much to offer in terms of an opinion on Etsy as a seller but it seems to be experiencing some drama with Sellers right now.

This in-depth and very interesting article from VOX discusses how Etsy has oftentimes gone through stages of evolution such as when it went public, and right now in an effort to help sellers compete with Amazon it is being suggested/forced upon them to offer free shipping on purchases over $35 lest a seller's listings be de-prioritized against other stores. Now, Amazon has Prime and is a big corporation sending goods out whereas Etsy has individuals like a nice Grandma in rural Minnesota who has to send her hand-knit scarf with her eating the cost of shipping in the near future. Now sellers either suffer or just raise the price of stuff in the hopes that helps counter the cost of shipping (which is what Etsy basically has recommended and just seems a bit sleazy to hide shipping in the main cost of something). Apparently that is what buyers want now, and I do know people hate the idea of paying for shipping these days (I've learned that much selling on eBay), so Etsy is gonna force it through, and drama will be had. We shall see where this leads, and if my presents for friends & family along with the vintage comics I enjoy suddenly are going to have free shipping but suspiciously cost a good deal more.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

I Want to Play That New, "Control," Game

There is a game developer who always makes weird and interesting titles. They are known as Remedy and I will forever defend their (best title in my opinion), "Max Payne 2," as an incredible game whilst admitting the first one is quite wonky and the third one is great too but is sometimes feels like a Michael Mann film if Mann took a lot of upper-type drugs and refused to sleep for a week (so, both awesome and a bit much). I will also say, "Alan Wake," is a surreal masterpiece and volunteer I never played, "Quantum Break," but heard it was okay. With all of that said, I am eager to play the newest game from the developer, "Control," which features a trippy plot about otherworldly beings that inhabit technology, exciting game-play, and loads of weird little stylistic touches Remedy is known for--how about a creepy live-action puppet show for ya?

The overall plot of, "Control," is a bit mysterious as a lot of the fun comes from untangling the story. The general idea however is that you play a young woman named Jesse Faden who is looking for her lost sister and ends-up at the Federal Bureau of Control, which studies and tries to contain phenomena that should not exist within reality. Clearly things get quite wonky and I am eager to try it all out on my PlayStation 4. I would hope to get the game from the library sometime or see if it comes to Redbox--that or wait for a price-drop as I try to be frugal and not buy a new game at full-price considering how quickly things get discounted with sales these days. Worst comes to worst, while I wait for a chance to play, "Control," I could always buy a cheap copy of, "Max Payne 2," for my computer and try out some old mods on it. I'm patient, after all, and I'm always looking for an excuse to play, "Max Payne 2," again.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Bret Stephens Earned His Bad Week

Last Monday morning a man named David Karpf tweeted a joke. He saw there was an article about how the, "New York Times," offices were suffering from a bedbug infestation and it was proving difficult to get the bedbugs removed because they are notoriously good at burrowing-in somewhere and a huge nuisance. David Karpf tweeted, "The bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens," and went on with his day. The post was not retweeted by anyone and got all of nine, "Likes." Karpf made this light joke about Stephens because Stephens is notorious for being difficult and a pain--much like bedbugs. Stephens is someone who always goes on rants about how, "Liberal snowflakes whine about needing safe spaces," and that free-speech is important because people need to feel uncomfortable and should develop thick skin instead of getting offended all the time. Stephens is one of those guys who likes to, "Tell it like it is," in his mind, but as with many people who ramble at length about how, "People are too damn sensitive these days," he actually turns into a mess should someone call him on his own B.S. This became apparent not long after Karpf's tweet.

David Karpf not too long after his mild joke about Stephens found himself receiving a very sternly-worded email from Stephens. In it, Stephens went on about how hurt he was to be called a bedbug and told Karpf how if Karpf were to meet Stephen's wife and kids, get to know him, and all that jazz he would never dream of using such hateful language against him. Bret Stephens also CC'd the head of Karpf's department with the clear intent of getting Karpf in trouble...for making a joke almost nobody saw about Bret Stephen being a bedbug. Karpf tweeted about what Stephens had done, and then a tweet that had garnered all of nine likes and no retweets began to really take off.
Brett Stephens once defended human cesspool Tucker Carlson as free speech is all about a right to offend.
This, of course, does not apply to anyone offending him, it seems.
From this point Stephens went on to attempt to defend himself during the week by talking about how he wasn't trying to get Karpf in trouble (yes he was) and was by no means a hypocrite for all his talk about free-speech and then being upset some random guy called him a bedbug (yes, he is). Things only got weirder when on Friday, August 30th, before everyone got to go home for a nice Labor Day weekend Bret Stephens turned-in an editorial at the NYT. Stephens' editorial was about how dangerous language is as a tool and that Nazis used it to dehumanize others. Yes, Stephens literally went and compared being called a bedbug online to the Holocaust. "What the Hell?" is the response from me and many others.

When you write your thoughts online people may take issue with it. I have been called all kinds of names by people who disagree with me and I know as a White Man I am getting barely a hint of what writers who are people-of-color, women, and/or LGBTQ face. I have heard first hand from female journalist friends who often they are threatened with rape by people they have never met enraged at an article they wrote. I hear about LGBTQ people being harassed by alt-right morons who doxx them with threats towards their family and friends. Bret Stephens was called a bed bug as a joke by a professor, and he absolutely flew off the handle about it. I guess the importance of free speech applies to his right to insult others, but should never be applicable to somebody telling a joke at his expense.
I spoke with David Karpf via Twitter last night as he said his DM's were open to any reporters curious about all this craziness. I wrote him and asked if this was really as weird as it all sounded and he confirmed that it was. Stephens must have found the tweet through an assistant who looks for any references online for Stephens or via having his Twitter set-up with a keyword alert for his name. In my opinion that sounds absurdly narcissistic, but how else could he have found Karpf's tweet? As Karpf told me, Stephen's must have put in some effort to find the tweet, managed to get offended at it, and then took the time to track Karpf down and figure out a way to contact him as well as the people above Karpf at the University. Stephens did all this to--in his mind, "Put me in my rightful place," as Karpf told me. This entire debacle is one I told Karpf I felt bad he was dragged into and I said I hoped things got less weird for him soon.

To review, a tweet almost no-one would have seen is now trending massively and Bret Stephens is being given funny hashtags like, "Bretbug," by Twitter users cracking-up about how stupid this all has been--with the blame for the idiocy falling squarely upon Bret Stephens. Bret Stephens earned his bad week, and hopefully once he returns to work from Labor Day (its amazing if the NYT wants to employ him still after all this) he'll realize how all the blame for this getting so much traction falls right upon him. Then again, he will probably just blame everyone else, something Conservatives tend to excel at.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

"Bad Gateway," Review AKA Simon Hanselmann Has Done it Again!

I have voiced how much I love the work of Simon Hanselmann before. Whether it is his mini-comics or his big books, he is an amazing creator who manages to mix humor and sadness in his writing like nobody else and makes some incredibly gorgeous artwork too. "Bad Gateway," is published by Fantagraphics and follows-up on all of the previous stories with the main characters, Megg and Mogg (along with all their friends/enemies/romance partners/sometimes all three at once) but it can be read by someone going-in fresh as it summarizes all the madness from before in a handy two-page spread before taking us back into the really messed-up lives of these individuals.

Megg is a witch, Mogg is a cat and they are in a long-term relationship but both are basically miserable with each other. Their current roommate is a man named Werewolf Jones who sells drugs when he isn't using them-up because their old roommate, Owl, was maybe the one responsible person they knew and they drove him away by being terrible towards him. Megg has strong feelings for Booger--she used to be Boogeyman but since transitioning to female is known as Booger--and Mogg hates Booger and blames her for the trouble in Megg and Moog's relationship although Megg cheating with Booger off-and-on is a symptom of the domestic-trouble, not a cause. Also, they really need to get money for rent but blew it all on drugs and Megg might not pass her evaluation to keep getting Governmental support, so stuff in general is pretty messed-up. This sounds dreary, and it at times is, but this book is also hilarious.

Werewolf Jones anytime he appears in any of Hanselmann's books continues to be a source of both misery and hilarity. The man is messed-up and as bad at being a roommate as he is being a Dad or hard-working employee. The only thing Jones is really good for is coming-up with terrible ideas and passing-out from being too drunk or too high to function. As readers of the book we feel a little bad for him, but also frankly disgusted with much of his behavior and general treatment towards others. Megg and Moog inspire a little more sympathy as they sometimes are somewhat trying to not just be miserable, but between their reliance on a whole lot of drugs and basically being co-enablers of their worst impulses it is just tragic to witness them go about their day-to-day lives. Again, though, this book is funny too so don't think you'll just be sobbing the whole time you read it.

Hanselmann's art-skill are top-notch, with his masterfully illustrating everything from a beautiful landscape to the garbage-covered home of Megg, Mogg, and Werewolf Jones. Whether he's drawing a nasty and crowded bus or a quiet night's drive, Hanselmann expertly balances the gorgeous and grotesque in a manner that invites readers to just be drawn into a page and dive-in to scenes no matter how disgusting the things he illustrates so incredibly are (Werewolf Jones is often naked and needs to bathe for sure). When it comes naming creators who are currently at the top of their game making comics currently, Hanselmann is someone who has to make most short-lists.

"Bad Gateway," is a book that is equally tragic and funny with some incredible illustrations that mesh perfectly with the purposely disjointed tone. I would not be surprised if this book appears on many, "Best-of," lists at the end of the year, and imagine it'll probably be one of my top titles too, with Simon Hanselmann being due lots and lost of praise heaped upon him for his incredible work. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and will most likely be singing its praises for a good long while.