Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Television Tuesday: Space Force

Ah, "Space Force." The show loosely based on some quite dumb real-World event. Yes, it was savaged by critics, but lots of people seemed to watch it (as far as we know, Netflix is always cagey about viewership) and my wife and I gave the 10 episodes a shot too. We actually quite liked it, so I guess we're different than a big chunk of reviewers! Yes, it starts off a little slow but by the 3rd episode, it really gets rolling and continues to entertain. The cast is solid with Steve Carrell, Lisa Kudrow, John Malkovich, and plenty of other comedic folks who get smaller but hilarious roles involved. The show never makes the military look stupid but refuses to fawn over it as well.

Basically, "Space Force," is about a bunch of people who mean well but can't seem to agree easily. Be they the 4 star General played by Carrell butting-heads with Malkovich's civilian scientist, or the countless other individuals struggling to make this new military branch work as a talked-about but never named or seen (beyond some texts) President who is just called, "POTUS," or, "The President," wreaks havoc here-and-there.

It is clever this show doesn't outright mention or reckon with Donald Trump, as that would in some ways immediately date it. By having the President just be this unseen force of chaos it could be any fictional President causing trouble, just as easily as Donald Trump making a mess. "Space Force," and its ensemble of characters all balance each other out pretty well and the 30-ish minute episodes go by at a snappy pace, rarely feeling too long or overly decompressed as some Netflix shows are known to struggle with (the infamous and oft-discussed Netflix bloat).

Generally, each episode introduces a challenge for the cast of, "Space Force," they handle it as well as they can, and some subplots keep simmering in the background until the end of season 1 where we get a bunch of cliffhangers. It is a formula, yes, but it works and results in a fun show. I'm not sure exactly why the critics were so savage towards, "Space Force," and my friends all seemed to either absolutely love it or hate it. Samii and I thought it was pretty darn entertaining and we look forward to a presumed second season.
4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 6, 2020

I'm Annoyed How Limited This Black Lightning Funko Pop Will Be

I still collect Funko Pops of my favorite characters/shows/etc. despite having cooled a bit on the hobby due to it feeling oversaturated with new releases constantly spilling-out. That said, when Funko announced a Black Lightning Funko Pop to be released as a part of their virtual convention (what with Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con canceled) I was excited! Then I saw it was limited to 3,000 figures. Come on, Funko.

Funko doesn't do limited runs as much now, and when they do it is generally a variant of a Pop (like its chrome, glow-in-the-dark, and so forth). This is not the case with Black Lightning. It is just the really cool Pop, limited to 3,000. If there were a SDCC it would have been exclusive to the show, methinks, but as everything is going to be online there is maybe a sliver of a chance people can buy it for retail. I know I'm going to try as I'm a fan of the character in the comics as well as loving the television show. Here's hoping it all goes well! Should I manage to get one, I might just see if friend of the blog and creator of Black Lightning, Tony Isabella, would be willing to sign it for me--now that'd be cool!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

"Blood Force Trauma," #1 is an Exciting and Funny Comic

Some months ago I backed the Kickstarter campaign for the first issue of, "Blood Force Trauma." It took it an extra month or so to come out due to COVID-19, but I now have it and greatly enjoyed reading it! Set in the futuristic-yet-retro Edge City, "Blood Force Trauma," is also the name of a popular (and extremely brutal) fighting show. In a unique twist a viewer of the show who books a ticket, Zap Daniels, ends-up being called-up to fight, and from there, things get pretty crazy.

Creators Jake Smith and Hiram Corbett provide some fantastic humor, great action, and the atmosphere of the artwork fits the tone perfectly with its neon excess and, "What the 80s thought the future might be like," styled vibe. This first issue never takes itself too seriously, but avoids being overly slapstick or just telling jokes. There clearly are some mysteries afoot and future issues will explore just why Zap is suddenly made into a BFT fighter. It is all very entertaining.
"Blood Force Trauma," #1 is a great read and I'm pleased I backed it when I saw it on Kickstarter a bit ago. I look forward to future issues and would encourage you to check it out too!
4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Be Extra-Safe This July 4th!

Today is July 4th, so don't just be safe this year, be a bit extra-safe. Normally I advise everyone to be careful in regards to drinking (and not driving), fireworks (try to avoid injuries), and all that. This year I'm saying to be even more careful, however, because we have COVID-19 to be concerned about as well. You know the drill--practice social distancing if you have any kind of gathering, wear a mask, and so forth. With all that kept in mind, you should have a great 4th of July! Oh, and if you live anywhere besides America, have a good regular day!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Film Friday: "Batman Returns," is the Best Batman Movie

I'm going to just say it. "Batman Returns," is the best Batman movie. Now, "The Dark Knight," is the best Joker movie thanks to Heath Ledger's incredible performance, but I love, "Batman Returns." The first Batman movie, 1989's purely titled, "Batman," is fantastic with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, but I still love the sequel more. Keaton seems even more at home in the role, Danny DeVito kills it as the Penguin, Christopher Walken is a delightfully sleazy Max Shreck, and Michelle Pfeiffer is tied for best Catwoman ever with Eartha Kitt.

The cast is amazing, the plot is clever with its election tale of The Penguin being a monster but creating a positive public image to try and gain a position of power (always relevant), and the imagery is a crazy as you'd expect with Tim Burton directing (he directed the debut, "Batman," as well and just as with Keaton seems more at home in the sequel). From seeing it as a youngster to revisiting it as an adult today, "Batman Returns," is a cinematic delight and my favorite Batman movie when it comes to Batman--again, "The Dark Knight," wins when it comes to the best movie with a Joker involved.

Currently, rumors abound about Keaton returning as Batman for future DC movies. I'm quite eager for such a thing to occur if it turns out to be true as whenever I picture Batman, the person I see is Michael Keaton. I hear Kevin Conroy's voice coming out of his mouth, oddly enough (all those years of the cartoon), but I see Keaton. The reason for that is, "Batman Returns," the best Batman movie.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Going (Band)Camping: Edition 2

My last post was fun so here we are with the second entry of my occasional segment, "Going (Band)Camping," which I continue to think is more hilarious and clever a title than it probably is. The thing that unifies all of these albums and eps is that they can be found on the stellar music-platform Bandcamp. A great resource for indie or big-name musicians, I've loved finding new music and artists I know on Bandcamp since I started using it lately. Hence, here I am offering my opinions on what I've listened to lately. Let's begin...

Tenci--"My Heart is an Open Field"
Tenci is singer Jess Shoman and her band giving us some damn fine folk music. "My Heart is an Open Field," slowly released singles from the album over the past number of months, with many observing how good they sounded, and now its out and the whole thing is incredible. There is not a single track I disliked, but there were some I absolutely adored (such as, "Joy 2,") on this stellar release. The soft and thoughtful voice of Shoman along with perfectly relaxing instrumentation produces a truly beautiful LP that I give my highest recommendation. You can buy the digital download/vinyl record/cd/cassette here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Neon Vectors--Cyber Love
"Cyber Love," is an album full of music that people describe as, "Vaporwave." The genre of vaporware can best be thought of as if house music and disco had a baby and it went on to be obsessed with drenching everything in a neon glow along with having an 80's fashion sense plus a fondness for old tech. It's a wild hodge-podge, in other words, but it sure is catchy. The artist, Neon Vectors, has assembled a tight little album here, with some fantastic tracks, ("Facetime Tonight!" and, "The Way U Make Me Feel," and others that are solid even if they don't really grab you as much ("Night Disco," drags for me). Overall, "Cyber Love," is a rollicking good time and makes you want to get-up and dance when you're listening to it. Get a copy of the digital album here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Spliff Jacksun--Sanctuary
Spliff Jacksun's latest release of beats makes for a delightful beat tape (whether you actually buy it on tape or another format). It is smooth, but never too relaxed, and carries itself with the self-assuredness of a rising sun while also giving of a bit of a groggy and hazy vibe that accompanies such an early morning. Sometimes a hint of strings or gentle melody will occur, but the various and well-crafted beats are what steal the show and make this album so listenable. You don't quite chill-out to, "Sanctuary," so much as you relax in a state of heightened awareness and absorb its pleasures. To summarize: It's great! Find a copy in your preferred format here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Mike Vass--Man Alone With Himself 
Vass released this experimental folk EP with a, "Pay what you want," pricetag for those who have had their income, "...adversely affected by the Covid-19 crisis," or who have supported fundraisers for this EP previously. That's very thoughtful of him, and the mixture of classic folk style with a bit of unique synth bass or other out-there effects at times thrown in creates a lovely four tracks. Only one song was not to my tastes ("Shadow in the Flame,") with all other three being just perfect and delightful to sit and hear play-out. Vass recorded this solo-ish layering the sounds himself with assistance mastering the mixes and such. It's a fantastic EP and considering you can pay what you like for it, I'd encourage you to contribute whatever you're able and get the digital download here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Antarctigo Vespucci--Love in the Time of Email
"Love in the Time of Email," is a stellar album by Antarctigo Vespucci, a collaboration between an assortment of gentleman who had been in other bands but came together to make something special. I'd describe this album as being pop-rock/power-pop with an occasional punk edge in addition to sometimes just barely hinting at some emo vibes. Whatever the genre is, its damn good music. Every single track is listenable, but there are some that totally steal the show such as, "Freakin' U Out," "All These Nights," and, "Another Good Thing." The lyrics are clever, singer Chris Farren has a stupendous voice, and the instrumentation is consistently on-point. "Love in the Time of Email," is just a real treat of an album and should be in your regular rotation of favorite LPs. Cop yourself a vinyl/cd/cassette/digital LP here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Time for a Random Post About My Favorite HVAC Company: Advantage Air

There isn't much to report today, so I figured I'd make a post about my favorite HVAC company ever, Advantage Air. No, this is not a paid post. I just felt like expressing how pleased we are with Advantage Air and had nothing else on my mind, so let's talk about it today! Advantage Air helped us when we moved into our new house and had repeated issues with the AC in the Summer due to our unit being old. Then a day before Christmas one year the heat stopped working, they still were able to help us and there was no extra charge for it being the day before that big holiday. When we got a new unit they gave us a great price and we have used them for maintenance since. They always put customer service first, being thoughtful and helpful.

Here's a single example of many when they impressed us: One time the AC wasn't running that great and I called to see if someone could come out. They said they were happy to send a person, but asked if they could save me the cost by having me answer a question about the most common issue--had I changed the air filter lately? I had not, and I felt stupid. I changed it and the house cooled immediately. They didn't want to just take my money, they wanted to make sure I was actually helped and was a satisfied customer, yet another occasion they were amazing. Not that I mind their techs coming out, any employee we have ever worked with is amazing. Back when I did Yelp (before I quit it due to moral concerns with people abusing the site to get free stuff among other issues), I wrote a glowing review of Advantage Air. I quit Yelp years ago, however, so why not brag about Advantage Air here on my blog now?

Should you live in the Saint Louis region, Advantage Air can help you with all your residential (or commercial) HVAC needs. I'm clearly quite a fan of the company, having dedicated a blog post to them, so I'd recommend them for anything you might need assistance with. Again, this was not a paid post and Advantage Air is not even aware I'm writing this post (and will only know about it once I send them an email about how I wrote it). I just felt like giving a shout-out to Advantage Air because I wanted to write about something today and one of their occasional email newsletters they sent recently about what the company has been up to had them on my mind! Check them out, and if you live locally give them a try!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Wait, I'm Not the Only One Who Had a Loud PS4?

I thought maybe I was unique, or too sensitive. My PlayStation 4 sometimes just seemed so loud. Watching DVD movies wasn't too bad, but games would make it holler. Apparently, it is a known concern! It turns out PS4 consoles can be pretty loud, but there are ways to address it. One big one is to dust them--something I learned the hard way once when my PS4 quit reading discs at all and it turned out all the dust inside it had ruined that part (a common occurrence too).

There are other steps you can take that are more in-depth, but just dusting the darn thing can help it. Having noticed how much it helps, make sure you dust it. Also, sometimes games just make it loud, there is little that can be done about it if you're playing your games off a disc as opposed to a digital download. That's just life, but at least we aren't alone in battling a PS4 that sounds like an enraged vacuum cleaner.

Monday, June 29, 2020

A Much-Needed Victory for Reproductive Rights

I have been an advocate of abortion rights in the past. After losing our pregnancy due to the baby not being viable and threatening my wife's life--necessitating a D&E--I have been even more outspoken when it comes to being pro-choice as if some states had their way we would not have even been able to save my wife's life without being prosecuted as criminals. For that reason, I can only be very thankful the Supreme Court today struck down an unconstitutional law that would have basically made it impossible to get an abortion in Louisiana.

Plenty of states keep trying to chip away at abortion rights and seeing the Supreme Court put its foot down was encouraging. The fight is not over as there is still case after case, but this was good news. Thank goodness for John Roberts, a more conservative justice appointed by George W. Bush, but who has sided with the Liberal justices in a number of key cases lately (resulting in 5-4 decisions such as this one) because he realizes these cases aren't simply political, they are about the law and the law protects the right to choose. He has still ruled a number of ways I disagree with, but I'll take what I can get in this current political climate.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

News That Excites Me: A Moon Knight Ominbus is Coming!

Marvel and DC often do special collections of their comics. One of these is a big hardcover known as an omnibus that collects a ton of comics featuring a specific character, team, or run of comics. Plenty of these have come out in the past and will in the future too, but what caught my eye was some months ago it was said there would be a Moon Knight omnibus. Well, it has now been officially solicited in the latest edition of, "Previews," magazine that we will be getting the, "Moon Knight Ominbus HC Vol. 1." I am pumped!

It will have all of the earliest Moon Knight comics from his initial appearances in, "Werewolf by Night," to popping-up in other stuff like that Hulk magazine or the Marvel Preview magazine, getting his solo tale in, "Marvel Spotlight," and of course his own series proper. I especially like it is labeled as being the first volume as that clearly means more will be on the way. Personally, if they made big ol' omnibus editions of his stuff into the modern era I'd be perfectly happy. These big books ain't cheap--this one will be $125--but it isn't due to come out until January of 2021. I've got plenty of time to put some scratch aside and eagerly await this big book of goodness.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

June 2020 News and Links for This Hot and Humid Summer

We're All Hot and Tired
It's hot, that's for sure.
I'm physically and emotionally exhausted this June, and one thing I like to do when I need a break is read the good ol' internet. With that in mind, I have some interesting news and links to share. It's a good way to beat the heat and humidity when we can curl-up with some neat articles.

Commence the New and Links!

The 2020 Eisners had some really questionable voting issues so they shut it down and are going to do the whole thing over again. I applaud them for doing this, but it obviously shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Currently, in the realm of both comics and video-games, there are a lot of people being revealed as harassers and predators. Polygon's Charlie Hall has a good piece providing quite a wide-ranging overview which has also been updated as necessary.

Because 2020 couldn't get any more insane, we have a massive dust cloud from the Sahara currently coating North America and giving everyone respiratory problems. At least it makes for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, right?

Another creator great sadly has passed. Joe Sinnott passed at the age of 93 and has far too long a history in the realm of comics for me to even begin to summarize.

Trump and his cronies like to complain everyone is too sensitive, but then they go and hop-on their own social media app called, "Parler," which is as miserable and nasty as you'd expect. They always end up back on Twitter, or else they wouldn't be able to complain about how they feel Twitter persecuted them for inciting violence and lying.

DC offering a 1:450 ratio variant cover for, "The Three Jokers," is just silly. Stores will have to order 450 copies to get one of that cover, making it something only massive retailers will bother with and then have to sell at a big mark-up to cover all the issues they may be unable to sell.

"Cyberpunk 2077," continues to look quite interesting, especially as multiple gaming and entertainment sites have had a chance to play it some. It got delayed a bit more from September into November to make sure its polished, so here's hoping it is a snazzy as we hope.

Shigeichi Negishi arguably invented Karaoke and is still alive at 95 and has his original, working model he can show-off. As someone who has enjoyed making a fool of himself singing "Superfreak," on stage for a mildly amused crowd I owe him thanks for the good times.

Finally, due to the fact he wants to undo everything Obama accomplished, Trump is trying yet again to undo the Affordable Care Act, also known as, "Obamacare." You'd think the multiple times he's failed before would convince him to stop acting like a moron, but this is Trump we are talking about, all he can do is act stupid.

Stay Cool and Relax
Aren't we all creepily excited to enjoy our AC?
Throughout this Summer heat make sure you work to just stay cool and get some relaxing in. 2020 is basically halfway done, and even though it feels like the longest year ever, we've got this. At least, I keep hoping we do.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Two Creators I Like Are Making a Comic for a Property I Know Nothing About

I'm a big fan of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jacen Burrows. I've followed Gillen from his early, "Phonogram," comics to, "Uber," "Young Avengers," "The Wicked and the Divine," and so forth. Burrows has made a ton of stellar comics with Avatar Press in the past and was the one thing I liked about the otherwise terrible Bemis run of, "Moon Knight," that features Burrows drawing skills. Hearing Gillen and Burrows are teaming-up for comic sounds fantastic! Oh, it's a, "Warhammer 40k," comic. Now I'm lost.

"Warhammer," is a popular tabletop game set in a fantasy realm and, "Warhammer 40k," is its futuristic iteration. It has space marines, space Orks nad all kinds of crazy stuff. There have been some video-games set in both the fantasy and 40k Universes but I've not played them or the tabletop games. I know basically nothing about, "Warhammer 40k," but apparently Marvel acquired the license to it and is going to publish a comic set in that World with the talents of Gillen and Burrows, so I'm gonna read it. Even if I have almost no clue what is going on, at least it will look stellar and be well-written. Maybe I ought to look up some Wikipedia stuff in the meantime.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

"Hardspace: Shipbreaker," Looks Like a Delightfully Relaxing Game of Deconstruction

Currently in Early Access (e.g. it isn't officially done but is playable), "Hardspace: Shipbreaker," is a very relaxing game where you break-down old spaceships. There are no crazy alien invasions or wild gunfights, you just float around in space using all your tools to carefully take apart ships that have been floating above Earth for centuries. You save the valuable parts and dispose of the junk whilst being careful not to blow anything up what-with still active pressurization in some ships, half-full fuel tanks, and the like. I've often seen it described as, "Zen," along with pretty humorous thanks to some commentary on how you're working for a big corporation that is basically cleaning-up a mess other corporations caused.

My computer isn't nearly powerful enough to play, "Hardspace: Shipbreaker," but perhaps once it is complete it will see release on a console such as the PS4 or Nintendo Switch. With the positive early buzz, it'd make sense to have it possible for everyone interested to play it once it is finished. I'd for sure like to give it a try because it looks serene, beautiful, and fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dash--A Great Comic Series--Has a Kickstarter Currently for its Collection!

In past posts, I wrote about how much I enjoyed the series, "Dash," by writer Dave Ebersole and some skilled artists (Delia Gable, Vicente Rico). Published by Northwest Press, it follows the story of a 1940's detective who was a beloved hero cop until he was outed as gay and fired. Now Dash has to solve a strange mystery full of dark ancient magic while navigating life as a gay man in an era where that was a crime. It was a stellar comic with a mixture of humor, great character moments, and quite a twisty and wild plot. Now it's being collected in a trade paperback that people can fund via Kickstarter!

You can get yourself a copy of this, "Gay Noir Graphic Novel," and enjoy it too in a fully collected form with some new stories too! It's a great read regardless of your sexuality, but it is fantastic to have a story that explores life for marginalized characters in a time when they were rarely discussed (at least in any kind of manner that wasn't derogatory) or allowed to be visible without risk of physical injury or insult from others. Between the fantastic story, lovely art, and how this collection will have some new stories, I'm excited for this Kickstarter and have already backed it myself! You can do so too via this link!

The (Now Former) Executive Director of the CBLDF Had a History of Sexual Assault

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization that helps provide legal assistance and money in comic-related cases. Should someone be prosecuted for making or selling a comic that is judged, "Obscene," or if a person is sued for making a political comic, the CBLDF is dedicated to defending them. It sounds great, and as far as I knew the CBLDF was a solid organization. Then again, I clearly know very little as more and more harsh truths come to light lately about people in the comic-book, "Scene." Apparently, the Executive Director of the CBLDF, Charles Brownstein, was/is a sexual predator. He had a history of sexual assault that the CBLDF apparently was aware of and which had begun coming to light as public knowledge recently/was being talked about more openly. This resulted in many people pulling their support for the CBLDF and now Brownstein has resigned from his position/ he may have been forced out, it is unclear.

This is a huge mess and the CBLDF is rightfully receiving a lot of flak. Their public statements about all this have been vague and barely addressed the issue at hand too. The CBLDF has done a lot of great work, but this is a huge fiasco for sure. I do hope the agency can recover and rebuild as it helps a lot of people, but man, this is an ugly look for it currently.

Monday, June 22, 2020

"The Last of Us Part II," Sounds Too Depressing For Me Right Now

"The Last of Us Part II," is a game that looks like a gorgeous and engaging follow-up to the first game--which I loved. I have zero desire to play it. Now, there has been some stupid controversy over how it features LGBTQ+ themes with main character Ellie engaging in a relationship with a woman, and there also apparently being an openly transgender character. This has resulted in some morons trying to review-bomb the game. I'm actually happy the game features a diverse cast, so that has nothing to do with me lacking a desire to play it. Basically, life lately has been hard with a lot of personal pain in the past six months. Plus, the stress of COVID-19 piled on losing a pregnancy and loved ones and depressing movies or games have appealed to me a degree less. Pretty much any news I see about ,"The Last of Us Part II," discusses it being relentlessly dark, dreary, and harsh.

"The Last of Us Part II," is a game that I did look-up some spoilers for after seeing some writing about how miserable the plot gets with lots of death, sadness, and brutality. I also read some spoiler-free or spoiler-light reviews such as one by Riley MacLeod of Kotaku that observed the game makes players feel, "Like shit." Polygon's Maddy Myers covered how the game has players engage in horrific brutality while basically remarking over their shoulder, "Look how bad you are, you should be upset." Folk say the story is interesting and the graphics are amazing, but everyone also adds that you'll feel like you took an emotional gut-punch when you play, "The Last of Us Part II."
The game does look great.
I, at times, struggled with the first game's bleak outlook and that was before everything we've been through lately. When I hear how this sequel just piles on players more harsh and upsetting content, it just makes me think that, "The Last of Us Part II," is too depressing a game for me right now. With all the stuff my loved ones and I am going through, things that provide a fun escape are more what I'm after. I need trashy reality television and games that are more silly and fun. At this moment I don't need something as heavy as, "The Last of Us Part II," but when the time comes I feel I'm emotionally ready for a game with such themes, I'll surely give it a try. Just not right now.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

"Dark Nights: Death Metal," #1 Is A Crazy Story With Gorgeous Artwork

"Dark Nights: Death Metal,"#1 came out last Wednesday and it has a plot that encompasses a whole lot of stuff. From different reality Batmen (including a Doctor Manhattan-looking one like from, "Watchmen,") to Wonder Woman ruling Hell, Wally West having unique powers, Sgt. Rock, Black Lantern powers, Lobo, Superboy Prime, and more, it is just...a lot. Scott Snyder crams a lot of story into these pages and it is absolutely insane.  I didn't mind, though, because the artwork by Greg Capullo is just plain gorgeous. Capullo draws everything crazy with gusto, from a T-Rex Batman to a fiery Swamp Thing.

The whole book is just a treat for the eyes, even if I'm overwhelmed by the story being so busy. This isn't really a review so much as an observation that I'd recommend checking out, "Dark Nights: Death Metal," #1 if you are a fan of stellar visuals in your comics and are cool with a truly out-there storyline.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

"Hey, Let's Hold a Rally For My Campaign in the Middle of a Pandemic!" Said the Moron

Today, yes today, Donald Trump will be holding a massive Presidential rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His idiocy knows no bounds and he has no rock-bottom for shame either. Originally the rally was to be yesterday, but it was pointed out he was holding the rally on Juneteenth in the place where the Black Wall Street Massacre happened. Trump relented--not out of embarrassment, but to act like he was doing us all a favor and raising awareness of the holiday/making it, "Very famous." Anyways, he's going to hold a massive rally today where people will be shoulder-to-shoulder, spraying aerosol particles as they yell. This spraying will occur as masks are not required and basically discouraged. This won't be good.

Nevermind that today it was reported six, count em' six Trump campaign staffers working for the rally have tested positive for COVID-19, let's have a rally! If Trump had any shred of decency he would call this whole thing off, but he probably thinks that would make him look weak. Now, he put himself in this position trying to plan a rally that nobody even expected him to throw, so this is entirely a problem of his own making, like most of the madness his Presidency has brought us.

It would go against all reason to think this man could actually be reelected, so let's hope common sense and reason prevail so that by 2021 Trump's out of office and Joe Biden is our President. Then we never have to put up with one of his rallies again--especially in the middle of a pandemic. Vote this election, all you people who didn't last time too, vote!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Free Comic Book, "Summer," is Happening

Free Comic Book Day was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19. It was unclear what might be happening in its place, but now we have an announcement. We're getting, "Free Comic Book Summer." From Wednesday, July 15th to Wednesday, September 9th comic-stores will get 5 or 6 free comics to give away each week. This basically spreads FCBD out over a chunk of weeks and seems like a decent idea. It encourages a trickle of consumers to return to comic-stores as opposed to a flood of folk on a single day (which isn't advisable during COVID-19 either). It is better than nothing, and it'll be nice to get some free comics each week over the Summer and early Fall. Let's see how it all shakes out.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

"The Department of Truth," Sounds Like a Wild Read

I myself don't really believe in conspiracy theories, but I enjoy reading about them. Some zany ones make me laugh and others just make me mad because of how uninformed and dangerous they are. Well, James Tynion IV will be writing a comic all about conspiracies with Martin Simmonds on the artwork. Titled, "The Department of Truth," it is apparently going to be like a cross between, "The X-Files," and my beloved, "The Black Monday Murders," which is published by the company putting-out this series, Image Comics.

This new ongoing series involves one man discovering that every conspiracy theory is somehow true, even ones that contradict themselves, I suppose. Yes, everything. The Earth is flat, politicians are reptiles who shapeshift, JFK's death was apart of an intricate plot--everything is for some reason covered-up by the titular, "The Department of Truth." It sounds pretty crazy and I look forward to reading it this September 30th when it is tentatively due in comic shops and online.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Grandma's Playroom Will Reopen in July!

Considering how difficult life has been as of late between COVID-19 stress and losing loved ones, I was pleased to see some happy news the other day. Grandma's Playroom, a local play-zone for little ones (which I have written about before) will be reopening this July! They will have people book their visits in advance so that there are no more than 10 children and one parent per kid. They will be doing extensive cleaning between play sessions (they've always been a really clean place too) and adults will need to wear masks for safety purposes.

I'm glad they are going to work hard to keep people safe and will be reopening so that children such as our son Clarkson can have fun going there again! I really needed something positive to occur this month, so I'm very happy now. It is one of Clarkson's favorite places (we had his birthday there shortly before COVID-19 shut everything down) so he'll be excited to return there too!

Warren Ellis May Prey Upon Women and Engage in Sexual Coercion

It was being discussed how comic artist Cameron Stewart would sleep with very young women who liked his artwork and who hoped to break into comics. It was discussed as an, "Open secret," that finally was being discussed. While this was being talked about, however, another name I would not have expected to see started popping up. Yes, in news that has gutted me, Warren Ellis may have used his position of power to take advantage of women who desired a friend or mentor and not lewd advances.

I have loved so much of Warren Ellis' work and don’t want to think he’s a creepy predator. It looks like he is. I mean, this is a man whose work I’ve written extensively about and whose creations have meant a lot to me. I feel gutted, but also know it’s nothing compared to what the women he hurt went through. This is just awful all around. Ellis apparently would solicit nudes from fans, be very sexual with women he was supposed to be assisting in the field of comics as opposed to trying to be raunchy with, and also would engage in the tactic of stopping communication and ignoring them once he got bored or would be angry if they started being even just friends with other comic professionals--a common abuse tactic of, "You can only talk to me."

Multiple women are tweeting about this and it is just incredibly upsetting. I believe them, because you would believe women and anyone else who is strong enough to come forward about being mistreated by those in power. I'm just upset because Ellis' work has meant so much to me and this news feels like a punch in the gut. Ellis didn't break any laws, but he was unethical and just plain sleazy, which ain't appropriate. I'm just so shocked and saddened by this news.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The FDA Has Approved a Video-Game to Assist With ADHD Treatment

In news that I found interesting, the FDA has approved prescribing a video-game as a part of ADHD treatment. "EndeavorRX," is a game that serves as medicine of sorts, designed to assist children with ADHD in maintaining their attention span. It has been emphasized this is not a replacement treatment for medication or therapies, but another supplement recommended for families to maybe try if they have children between the ages of 8-12. There were seven years of clinical trials that studied over 600 children and it was observed in the studies there was a positive effect. One study found that 1/3 of the children benefited playing the obstacle-dodging, target-collecting game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks, having a measurable degree less attention-deficit.

Now, these were studies by doctors who work for the game’s developer, according to disclosures, so that's one thing to consider. Still, if playing a video-game in addition to other methods of treatment can help young boys and girls with ADHD, that's pretty snazzy. This isn't the first time video-games have been used in medical settings, but among the first where it is a prescribable treatment. I just wonder how else games might be used in other medical ways as time goes on.

Monday, June 15, 2020

You Finally Can't Be Fired Just for Being Gay or Trans

It took until 2020 but finally, LGBTQ people have a ruling that states being Gay or Trans does not mean you can be fired. Yes, in 2020 in a number of States without protections your job could fire you for being Gay or Trans and it was perfectly legal. The Trump administration fought against it and the House and Senate seemed incapable of passing a new law to make it clear LGBTQ individuals were protected, but it was pointed out the Civil Rights act arguably applied to LGBTQ folk, and now here we are. 

There was a ruling for marriage equality in America some years ago, but it was possible you could be married on a Sunday and fired on Monday once people realized you had a same-sex or Trans partner, as the saying went. The Trump administration has been trying its hardest to roll-back protections for LGBTQ people, but now Nationwide you have at least some protection against getting fired for no other reason than being Gay or Trans (and if you are, you can sue for discrimination). It is sad it took this long, but at least now we have something in place.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

You Don't Get Used to Loss/For Kim

It's been a hard six months. In December of 2019, as you may recall, Samii and I lost our pregnancy. In March we all found ourselves at the mercy of COVID-19. In late-April Samii's Dad, Matt, passed after a multi-year battle with cancer. Yesterday Kim, Samii's Mom, suffered a sudden massive heart attack and died. There was no warning beyond how she had been having an upset stomach, suddenly felt very ill, and then was basically gone before anything could be done. It still feels implausible and unreal she is gone. We've had so much happen in such a short period of time, now this?
Kim was a great lady, and I loved her. Usually, stereotypes of men and their mother's in law are that the MIL is some annoying battleaxe the guy can't stand, but Kim was the opposite. She was very chill, quite funny, intuitive, and a wonderful Grandmother to Clarkson for the short time she was able to be here and enjoy him. When someone dies without warning you're just left confused, shocked, and you feel a weird mixture of dizzy and nauseated trying to wrap your head around what's happened. You don't get used to loss, whether it is your baby you weren't able to have or a parent/parent-in-law, friend, etc. I will miss Kim deeply.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

DC and Diamond Are Now Trying to at Least be Amicable

Most folk who read comics are aware that DC announced somewhat abruptly last week they were going to quit offering their comic-books through Diamond Comic Distributors and instead utilize two shipping companies of their own for individual comics and Penguin for trade paperbacks to bookstores and such. It was quite abrupt, with Diamond basically saying at the end of June they were done with Diamond. Well, DC and Diamond have managed to come to an agreement that is a little less, "I'm taking my shit and leaving NOW," and a little more, "Let's agree to break-up slowly over the year so things aren't quite as insane," or as Image called DC, "Sociopathic."

Basically, Diamond will be able to still distribute new product to UK retailers through the rest of 2020, and in the United States Diamond can sell DC trade paperbacks with a FOC/final order cutoff of June 1st through December 22nd as well as any individual comics that are reordered and are still in stock until July 31st. This gives everyone just a little more breathing room, which is good. DC chose to spring this on us all in the middle of a mother-loving pandemic where some comic stores are not even open yet, after all; even if many people were fed-up with Diamond it is debatable if DC should have made these moves now. At least they are taking things a bit more methodically than it at first appeared, which should help make things less stressful for...basically everyone, really. Diamond, retailers, and DC itself all benefit from DC slowing its roll.

Friday, June 12, 2020

"The Bachelor," Casts Matt James as Their First Black Male Lead--It Almost Took Two Decades For This

It took 18 years and over 20 seasons, but, "The Bachelor," is going to cast its first Black Male as the titular, "Bachelor." His name is Matt James and he will be the second person of color to assume such a role as Rachel Lindsay was, "The Bachelorette," and also is Black. The fact she was treated somewhat poorly by production compared to other Bachelorettes has been well-chronicled by media outlets and Lindsay herself. This is why I am both excited for Matt and worried for him. I want him to have a great season and have the show not be afraid to address race, but I don't want the only thing about Matt people find interesting that he is the,"Black Bachelor."

On my blog (where you are now), I often express both an affinity for and heavy criticism of, "The Bachelor." It is a guilty pleasure of a show and at times makes a smart or deep statement, but just as much is a mess of cliches and outdated views on how love and relationships work. I would like, "The Bachelor," to have Matt's season be one of maturity that has his race as an important element of who he is, but not all Matt is. We can't ignore that it has taken ABC almost two decades to have a Black Man as the Bachelor and that it took a lot of speaking-out from past participants and fans for such a thing to happen. We also shouldn't make the whole focal point that, "Hey, this guy is Black!"

Sometimes I get flashbacks to Colton's season where the whole focus was how he was a virgin, and that so many awful puns and jokes were made about it. I would think, "The Bachelor," wouldn't be so crass as to turn Matt's race and his status as the first Black Bachelor into a punchline or running gag, but this is, "The Bachelor," we're talking about. Basically, I want this show that at times shows so much potential to examine relationships in a complex way to fulfill that very potential instead of taking one step forward followed by 10 steps back. This is a show that's had one same-sex couple--on a spin-off ("Bachelor in Paradise)--and had one other person of color as the lead (and she did not enjoy it that much). It is 2020, and, "The Bachelor," needs to catch-up with the times, in other words. I sincerely hope when Matt's season happens in 2021 (we still need Clare's, "Bachelorette," season to get rolling amid COVID-19 for 2020) it is the usual enjoyable trash this show provides, but hopefully it can be enjoyable trash that is also progressive and modern.

Dennis AKA Denny O'Neil Has Passed

Dennis O'Neil, also known as Denny O'Neil has passed as of yesterday, June 11th, 2020. He was 81 and wrote an assortment of amazing stories in a wide range of comics. His work on, "Batman," is fondly remembered, but I have always thought his run on, "The Question," was absolutely incredible and my favorite creation he worked on. I had the pleasure of meeting O'Neil at Project Comic-Con one year and found him to be personable, kind, engaging, and otherwise as delightful as one would hope a favorite creator of theirs would be. People say to not meet your heroes, but I met O'Neil and I'm honored to have had that opportunity. He will be missed.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The PlayStation 5 Has an Interesting Look. Interesting, For Sure

Back in April, the PlayStation 5 controller was unveiled and I thought it was ugly as sin. Today, Sony shared trailers for PlayStation 5 games and revealed what the console will look like. I don't love it, I don't hate it, it just is...interesting. Some people already hate it, but I am a little intrigued by its unique little curves and such. I don't have anything especially nice or mean to say about it, but everyone else clearly does.

I still am not sure--with how I don't play games as much--if I'd have much need for PS5. The Nintendo Switch has been awesome as it lets me play console games in bed or while watching television, but besides that, I am not as much of a gamer as years past, a handful of PS4 titles aside. Still, a new Oddworld game sounds snazzy.

Separating the Author From Their Work and J.K Rowling

Well, J.K. Rowling has really made a mess of things, hasn't she? Over the past number of months, Rowling has slowly revealed herself to be quite anti-Trans and basically a TERF. TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. It is women who you would think of as quite liberal and pro-lady, but they absolutely are against Transmen and Transwomen, sounding a lot like alt-right conservatives when discussing them. It is a big ol' chunk of cognitive dissonance, I'd say. Well, Rowling has been tweeting and writing horribly vicious blog posts about Trans people. It is making fans of the, "Harry Potter," franchise feel pretty let-down by their hero. Herein lies where we debate the author, their work, and when to separate one from the other.

I am a big fan of Grant Morrison's writing. Morrison is a staunch vegetarian and opposed to animal testing under any circumstances. These are themes he's explored in a variety of his works and they've not come up in other creations as well. I disagree with him on these issues as I enjoy meat and feel animal testing can be necessary for life-saving drugs. There are times you can separate him from his work, and times you can't as easily. Overall I agreed with Morrison on a number of things, so our differences don't bug me as us. For a starker example, some folk love the works of Orson Scott Card. Card is horrendously homophobic, but it is not readily evident in his works. This results in some people being able to separate him from his works, and others struggling to do so and avoiding it.
These are recent examples, but just look at that past troubling master of terror, H.P. Lovecraft and how terribly racist, antisemitic, and generally hateful he was. There have been many works that actually address and reckon with Lovecraft's complex legacy such as the novel that will soon be a television series, "Lovecraft Country." It features intricate writings about terror and the impacts of racism Lovecraft would never be able to do. Back in the modern-day, we are clearly at the point with Rowling where a lot of the fans of her work will be discovering they are not a fan of Rowling, herself.

Millions of people are at a crossroads where they have to decide whether they can separate Rowling from her, "Harry Potter," creations, or can't. There is no right or wrong answer as it is a personal choice. I myself don't really have a dog in this fight--I only ever watched the first movie and could barely finish the fourth book due to it being dull, looked at how massive the fifth one was, and said, "Screw it." While I may not be as committed to Harry Potter and his wizarding World, many adore it, and they have my sympathies while they struggle to separate Rowling from her work. If they can, that's great, if they too just say, "Screw it," and quit being fans, that is alright as well. I've had some creators I follow who I agree with on almost everything and others where I at times need to separate them from their works (as well as ones that clearly was impossible to do so). Transwomen are Women and Transmen are Men. Rowling is just too ignorant to realize this. At least Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, knows what's up--that's an encouraging note to end on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

We Can't Ignore a Painful Past/HBO Max Pulls, "Gone With the Wind," Temporarily

The past can at times be a painful thing. Movies and television shows with content were made that contain depictions of women or other races that were offensive then and continue to be offensive now. This leads to a big argument between those who want those past portrayals put away as they sting so badly and others who think past media needs to be available so we can see how far we have come and put the old movies and shows in context. I bring this up because, "HBO Max," has temporarily pulled, "Gone From the Wind," from its streaming platform due to how it romanticizes slavery, the Civil War, and is quite racist in its portrayal of Black people.

I disagree with pulling, "Gone With the Wind." but agree with HBO Max saying they do plan to bring it back with disclaimers or additional material to put things in context/explain them. I think the best way to reckon with our painful past is to shine a bright light on all the things that embarrass us, not to lock them away. "The Birth of a Nation," is one of the first major films in American history and it is one big piece of racism that glorifies the Klu Klux Klan. Trying to pretend it didn't exist is silly, however. We need to acknowledge things from our Nation that hurt in order to heal. If you have a big gaping wound on your body you can't simply say, "I'd rather ignore this ." You need to acknowledge the pain and hurt, then dress your wounds so they can heal.
One good example of how to reckon with the past lies with Looney Tunes. Some of their past cartoons are horrifically offensive, but they added a disclaimer and even had Whoppi Goldberg (herself a historian and collector of racist artifacts) deliver a message at the start explaining the racist caricatures within the cartoons and how they were products of their time--but how that doesn't excuse them, just puts them in context. After all, denying history would be foolish. It is a bit like how I think we should take Confederate monuments down from places where they are glorified, but not just throw them away. We should put them in a museum where they can be studied with explanation and context.

America is currently experiencing a reckoning for its treatment of Black citizens from the police to political systems full of institutionalized racism. All of this comes from our country's painful and racist past--a past which some would rather ignore like that injury they'd prefer just go away without attention. We are seeing in real-time what happens when you don't acknowledge a problem, however, it just grows in severity and eventually explodes in a manner that can't be ignored; the fact is never should've been ignored in the first place is a given.
I hope when HBO Max adds, "Gone with the Wind," back to its library the movie is unedited and still contains everything that is offensive. I also hope there are plenty of resources that explain and address these unfair and unjust elements. For example, the fact that Hattie McDaniel was the first person Black person to ever win an Oscar for her portrayal of, "Mammy," but she had to sit separately from the rest of the cast at the Hotel where the ceremony was held (the hotel didn't even let Black people in, generally) is one prime example of a great achievement that was tempered by the segregation and prejudices of the time. Let's not erase the past or glorify it. Instead, we must examine it critically and honestly, or else we as a Country never will heal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

"Here's to 2020," by BeBe Rexa is a Miserable Graduation Song

BeBe Rexa teamed-up with Walgreens to make a weird techno-remix of, "Pomp and Circumstance," titled, "Here's to 2020," and it turned out as awful as you'd expect. The video of the ad is above, but if you really want to make your ears bleed you can listen to the atrocious full version at this link. The lyrics are insipid ("We've got 2020 vision," is the most cliche line possible), the electronic beats over the classic song sounds like diarrhea farts echoing through a metallic can, and Rexa's voice honestly has never been my cup of tea either with its bland-and-peppy vibe.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on a 30-second spot that runs between various television programs with the simple goal of saying, "Buy your graduation gear at Walgreens even if you can't really walk or have much of a party this year due to COVID-19!" I'd argue not wanting ads to make you physically ill with terrible music is a relatively small request, however. Call me a grouch if you want, it won't make this ad any less miserable.

Monday, June 8, 2020

"Turmoil," for the Nintendo Switch is Great Fun!

"Turmoil," has come out on other platforms, but it just recently launched on the Nintendo Switch (with what was originally downloadable content included as well). It is a game where you play an oil tycoon in the 1800s who makes deals, bids on land-leases, and drills for oil. It is a mixture of strategy and puzzles as you navigate the business world and then use various tools at your disposal to try and find all the oil you can on a plot of land. It is quite fun too!

"Turmoil," manages to keep a player's attention by also introducing new challenges or opportunities. It'll throw rocks in your way but offer you diamonds, for example. It also maintains a humorous tone throughout the entire game, with fun little things like moles that can help you find oil--it isn't historically accurate but it is cute. It can be a little tricky, yet it never seems absurdly difficult. You even have some competition oil barons, but they generally were not much of a challenge and besides outbidding them for plots of land they don't really impact gameplay too much--this isn't as cutthroat as the movie, "There Will be Blood," where you try and drill into other people's land or anything.
There are different campaigns/modes (including the DLC one that adds a few little features like playing Poker) and it is all good fun. There is just something strangely satisfying about the sound of your drill hitting a big bunch of oil deep underground and starting the process of sucking it up. That alone makes this game recommendable, but all the other fun aspects just make it that much better.
4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Going (Band)Camping: Edition 1

I've written about my somewhat-recent discovery of how wonderful the website/app Bandcamp is for finding incredible music by talented indie artists (as well as bigger names who simply appreciate how Bandcamp doesn't treat artists like crap). I've gotten everything from cassettes to vinyl to pure digital downloads from Bandcamp and thought it might be fun to start sharing some reviews in this new segment, "Going (Band)Camping." I'll pause for a moment to accept your applause for such a clever title. Anyway, I shall now review some artists you can find and support on Bandcamp if you decide upon reading my reviews their music might be something you'll enjoy. My tastes, of course, vary widely, so feel free to disagree with me, this is the internet, I'm used to folk yelling, "You're wrong!" With that said, let's review some music that came out recently or some years ago and I just happened to stumble across--there is no real method to my madness with this new segment besides how you can buy the music on Bandcamp--I'm crazy like that.

Goldkey--"Background EP"
The artist known as Goldkey actually is the person who turned me onto Bandcamp when I visited their page and thought, "Hey, this EP is pretty snazzy, I should join Bandcamp and buy it." That probably already tells you I was a fan of the tracks on their latest release. I'd describe, "Background," as being chill-rock. It gives off good, mellow vibes and never reaches an especially fast BPM, it just offers both hopeful and at times melancholy songs. It's a great EP to relax too and if I had any criticism it would be how some songs were a little too long for my tastes and wore out their welcome ("Afraid of Love,") while others were far too short and I would have enjoyed more of their beauty for an extra minute or so ("Prominent Moon," and, "Mountain," to name two). That quibble aside, I'd recommend buying the digital EP or cassette version here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Various Artists--"Quiet, Constant Friends"

A compilation of artists in support of global literacy charity, "Worldreader," with all profits from the album going to charity, no one can deny, "Quiet, Constant Friends," is for a good cause. However, as often happens with a compilation, the quality can vary widely. For every song that impresses you and makes you want to listen to it on repeat ("TV," by Oh Rose & Sawtooth) there is one or two you quickly determine is not to your liking. There were aspects of, "Quiet, Constant Friends," I really dug, but then find myself sighing and quickly fast-forwarding at other points with too. That said, all the money is going to a good cause and there are some gems on this, so I'd recommend giving it a try. Plus, you may very well love the stuff I disliked. Buy it as a digital album or cassette here.
3 out of 5 stars.

This short EP features some heavy punk-rocking with great instrumentation accompanied by a good deal of satirical lyrics about commercialism and militarization. I mean, the intial track is, "The First Baskin Robbins in Afghanistan," so clearly Turbosleaze is both being silly and making a statement. The EP moves briskly, with only one of the seven tracks being longer than 2 minutes. This makes sense as I feel as if it is an unwritten rule no punk song can ever exceed 3 minutes. The quick pace helps prevent, "McDonald's," from getting old or grating, making sure a new song kicks-in the moment your brain threatens to become bored. It's worth at least one listen. Do note you cannot just buy the digital rights, however, you must buy the vinyl EP for $5 at which point you then also gain streaming-rights. You can buy it here.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thistle Street--"Can't Tell the Days Apart"
A short-and-sweet EP, "Can't Tell the Days Apart," is a lovely mix of experimental sound-making with guitar and lo-fi effects. It never tries to do too much, just gently ambling along with a gentle enthusiasm that pleased my ears. Those wanting a steady beat or central focus will come away disappointed, but anyone who is after a relaxed bit of guitar-plucking and atmospheric tinkling will be overjoyed. You can get a digital copy or the cassette EP here.
4 out of 5 stars.

Kids Born Wrong--"Giallo"
The cover art evokes a 1980's horror movie and the song titles are allusions to them as well, but the music is less scary-soundtrack and more wild rockabilly. Some songs get a bit too heavy and scearmy for my tastes ("Suicide Cult,") but others are a fast-paced good time and keep my toes tapping and head nodding ("Great Mutant," and, "Unnecessary Surgery,"). Kids Born Wrong knows how to shred a guitar and bang the drums, simply put, and when they're doing that I'm all-in for it. At the times things threaten to get a little too hard-rock I kind of zone-out. Still, "Giallo," is for the most part a screamingly-good time, if I may riff on the theme myself. You can get your own digital copy or cassette EP right here.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

 Aaron Space & His Terrestrial Underlings--"Fishland"
A zany and strange album, I enjoyed, "Fishland," so much. With a mixture of jazz, neo-soul, electronica, and hints of rock with surreal orchestral swells at times too, "Fishland," defies easy categorization, instead just existing as a testament to the creativity and of Aaron Space & His Terrestrial Underlings. This eagerness to test-out sounds at times results in tracks that drag more than entertain ("Stome Soup"), but when it works, it works fabulously and results in impressive songs ("Zellerbach,"). This is definitely an album for those who like more off-kilter and strange stuff. You can get the digital album or buy it on cassette here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.