Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Nice Chill Game Like, "Townscaper," Sounds Good Right Now

"Townscaper," is the latest kinda-game-kinda-virtual-toy from Oskar StÃ¥lberg who has made some cool digital programs before that are fun to fiddle with and create stuff. This is a more complex project as it isn't just played in the browser so much as a full-on program that runs. It isn't really a game though, you just place the blocks of a seaside city and watch as the game naturally designs itself around your plans. It looks relaxing and with the state of the World currently, a nice little relaxing fun sounds delightful. An early access version is due to be out this next month (we've now entered June tomorrow in the trash-fire that is 2020). Assuming my computer can run it, I'll spend the $6 or so it will cost to enjoy.

Injustice Results in Crisis

The powder keg that is America ignites again. As many would tell you, from the start of its inception America has treated black citizens as second-class citizens at best, little more than property via slavery at worst. Attempts have been made to address these centuries of injustice through peaceful protest, violent protest, and even the gentlest attempts to state, "Look, can't you even agree this isn't right?" It seems to often fall on deaf ears, however, with people, "Tut-tutting," when Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality in the most peaceful and low-key way possible, and then these same folk complaining, "Why can't they protest peacefully?" when the walks and chants do little to grab attention.

I don't approve of riots, of looting, of mayhem. I also can see that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said how a riot is the language of the unheard, and this was a man whose whole model of protest was via peaceful protest. We have a judicial system that over-punishes Black boys, girls, men, and women. We have a police system that has been allowed to run unchecked as it murders these individuals with no consequences. We have a President (Trump) who unwittingly quotes a racist police chief from the 1960s encouraging the shooting of protestors whilst calling them, "Thugs." This, when a week or so ago he was calling White people protesting their desire to go to Applebee's or get a haircut in the era of COVID-19, "Fine people," as they stood outside buildings with their guns yelling about the dumbest stuff possible to protest.

Protests are breaking-out nationwide, some turning quite violent. It is tragic things have gotten this bad, but anyone who claims they didn't see it coming is either lying or incredibly ignorant. His name was George Floyd. His life mattered. The lives of all the Black individuals killed wrongfully mattered. I'm not surprised that all this injustice has resulted in a crisis. I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

More Marvel and DC Comics are Going Digital-Only or Are Outright Cancelled

In news that is sure to irritate many, more Marvel and DC comics are apparently going to be digital-only to escape cancellation or just shall be outright cancelled. COVID-19 has done a number on many businesses and the comic-book industry is by no means exempt. For that reason, I understand that things have to be shifted to solely being digital (at least until collected in trade) or might end-up cancelled, but it is still just a big bummer. I also worry about smaller publishers who have had titles delayed and could find their very existence at risk due to not having nearly as much funds as a company like Marvel or DC. I'm concerned we will see a number of smaller publishers going out of business soon, but I hope I'm wrong.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Film Friday: "Sonic the Hedgehog," is Getting a Sequel!

I had a chance to watch, "Sonic the Hedgehog," a bit before my birthday and found it to be good fun. I am a fan of James Marsden, enjoy Jim Carrey, and Ben Schwartz was fabulous as Sonic's voice. It was a cute flick about friendship and had a good number of jokes mixed with some snazzy action. I also am aware that when it was in theaters (probably one of the last big releases before COVID-19 shut everything down) it did very well. Hence, I imagined there would be a sequel and am pleased to see that one was announced today with the original creative team and one would assume much or all of the original cast. I look forward to it for sure!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

You Can't Say a Song is, "The Song of the Summer," Before It's Even Summer

I'm only 32 as of yesterday, but I sometimes complain like an angry old man. One thing that really gets me irritated besides kids on my lawn is when someone says something is, "The song of the Summer," before it is even Summer. We are currently in the month of May and have no clue what music might come out in June, July, or August. There may be some absolute banger that drops in late June which everyone plays into early Fall, at which point it will clearly have been the song of the Summer. I'm annoyed like this because as soon as the song, "Rain on Me," by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande was released it seemed like every news outlet wanted to eagerly declare, "This could be the song of the Summer!"

First of all, Gaga and Grande are both extremely talented, but, "Rain on Me," is a mediocre-at-best song. Second of all, when a song has barely been out a week and people are figuring out how much they vibe with it you can't just declare it to be the biggest thing this Summer. THIRD of all, as I said, it is only May. I just think we should all maybe take a breath, see what music comes out these next few months, and then maybe in late August or early September we can officially look back and say, "This particular song clearly was the song of the Summer now that we have the ability to examine the entire Summer as opposed to just declaring random B.S. in May." I mean, if people really want to anoint a song with a special status, we could argue over what was the song of the Spring, maybe?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

I'm 32 Today!

Today is my birthday, and if my math serves me correctly I am now 32. The World is a bit of a strange place right now compared to my last birthday, with COVID-19 putting us in unprecedented times. Regardless of if the World is an utter mess, however, I am happy to be spending my birthday with Samii and Clarkson. They are my two favorite people in the Universe and make every day special.

Also, as I turn 32 it makes me think about another big birthday coming-up, namely how this December my blog will be 10 years old! It is wild to think I've had a blog that long, with many links in my older posts going to nothing now due to so many other sites having sprung-up and then disappeared/gone out of business, but I just kept chugging along. So now I've got three decades and some change under my belt with my blog having existed almost 1/3 of my life too. Pretty snazzy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mafia Was a Fun Game, But It'll Need a Lot of Work for a Remake/Remaster

This article by John Walker at Rock Paper Shotgun observes he has fond memories of playing 2002's game, "Mafia." He also discusses how revisiting it now shows how infuriating it could be at times with wonky controls, a messed-up saving system, and so forth. I quite liked, "Mafia," when I played it years ago on the PC (and yes, I feel old realizing this game first came out 18 years ago), but I recall it being quite a pain at times.

The plot was fine as a mish-mash of old-timey mob movies riffing on the 1920s and 1930s when prohibition was in full swing and there were some standout moments, but yeah, things could be a pain. Cars (somewhat intentionally for the era) handled horribly, the in-game map was never helpful, and difficulty levels could vary wildly from mission to mission to a degree things seemed like a cakewalk at first before you were cursing and restarting a mission for the 8th time.

There was some definite fun in, "Mafia," but to make it work now in the modern age you really need to tweak it. Maybe add an open-world element as it had a massive map but everything generally was a bit on-rails with you going mission-to-mission as opposed to just having a jaunt in the past. I found, "Mafia II," solidly fun if also at times enraging with the driving in particular, and never got around to playing, "Mafia III," which got really mixed reviews. All the games are getting updated to some degree, but the first, "Mafia," will clearly need the most work to be especially fun all these years since its initial release. If things work out well, however, it could be a pretty great time.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Fighting Over the Trademark for, "ComicsGate," is Like Fighting Over a Pile of Garbage

ComicsGate is the so-called movement that grew out of Gamergate to some degree with them both being about basically harassing anyone who is a woman, a person of color, LGTBQ who wants to have the slightest hint of a non-alt-right political agenda in their comics, and so forth. They hate supposed, "Forced diversity," or needless politics in their comics (as in politics they don't agree with). Kind of led by the monstrous Ethan Van Sciver, they like to harass and threaten anyone who challenges their simplistic view of the World. It is a toxic brand and a handful of creators embrace it out of being ignorant jerks and/or realizing they can milk ComicsGate fans for all they're worth, with Sciver himself years behind on a comic that may never come out which he raised a bunch of money for on Indiegogo thanks to his ComicsGate fans. Who would want that as any kind of trademarked logo? A number of people, apparently.

There are three different dueling trademarks for, "ComicsGate," at the moment, with two people after having a right to the name for commercial purposes in earnest, and another being an actual enemy of ComicsGate who wants to make things harder for them to use the term with their published works (someone trolling for a good cause, now that's snazzy)! The whole thing is as messy and nasty as ComicsGate itself, and while I understand trying to get rights to the term ironically, anyone who wants to actually use the term as some kind of positive signifier is a being a moron as it is malignant, its followers are venomous, and ComicsGate would best be left buried and forgotten like the dangerous waste it is.

"What The Golf?" is as Fun to Play as it is Hilarious

"What the Golf," is a video-game that advertises itself as, "The golf game for people who hate golf." This is pretty apt as it is kind of a golf game, but often not. Sometimes you hit  golf ball through wacky courses. Other times you are suddenly playing a riff on, "Flappy Bird," or throwing couch off a cliff. Then you might enter a Super Mario homage, have your ball turned into one used for soccer, or fling your ball around with a slingshot a bit like, "Angry Birds." Oh, then you might fly around space, fly around an explosive barrel used to blow-up trees, feed some cats hotdogs, and basically do anything but play a regular round of golf.

"What the Golf," isn't just simply wacky, it is full of clever game ideas too, and a bit tricky at times as well. Right as you get the hang of one style of gameplay it goes and switches things up on you with a whole new motif for you to, "Golf," within. You might go from carefully rolling a vase of flowers around obstacles to being a cow fighting off other livestock for the right to binge a television show in the span of a handful of minutes, with, "What the Golf," never running out of ways to keep things fresh over its wide-ranging number of levels (which I'm not quite done with, but have had a stellar time playing on the Nintendo Switch so far). It's a wild time.
"What the Golf," is barely a golfing video-game, and that probably why it is so darn fun. Between the clever level design and sharp sense of humor, I've been able to laugh at jokes and grit my teeth with determination when faced with a more difficult level. I recommend, "What the Golf," to anyone interested in a wacky title--whether they love golf or absolutely hate it they'll have a ball (pun intended).
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bubble Wrap is the Main Weapon of the Comic Distribution Wars

Who knew bubble wrap could be such a big deal? You see, DC Comics recently broke their exclusivity deal with Diamond Comic Distributors (when Diamond shut-down for a month-ish) and started using their own distributors run by big retailers. Comic stores that used these distributors were impressed by how the comics that arrived at their store were packed better than Diamond has sent comics. Generally with Diamond its just comics and trades shoved in a box with little care, resulting in a good deal of damaged product that ends-up having to be destroyed and replaced. DC's distributors were using bubble wrap to express even the most minimal degree of care for the comics, and now it seems Diamond is following suit.

Feelings have been mixed about DC and its distributors, but Diamond was a monopoly for years and didn't have to change or improve anything to stay in business. Now, with even the tiniest modicum of competition they have stepped up their game and are using bubble wrap too, it appears. Perhaps when Diamond doesn't have a stranglehold on the comic distribution market they actually need to give a damn, eh?

Friday, May 22, 2020

Flashback/Film Friday: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," Is as Terrifying as it is Funny

You know a movie that is horrific in how it features a madman who owns a factory and uses it to torture the young children of parents who witness these heinous acts? Yes, I am referring to, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," with such a description really not going too far. There are articles that remark upon how scary a flick it can be and why it can be the perfect gateway horror movie for kids. I know young-me and older-me still loves it, with much praise due to Gene Wilder (I'll pass on the Johnny Depp one). Wilder realized how ominous a figure Wonka could be, having him alternate between friendly-to-curt-to-terrifying with little warning. Plus, there is that boat ride which is one of the scariest scenes in any movie I've ever seen for adults or children. Observe:

This isn't to say the entire movie is scary, it is quite funny too and has a lot of satirical jabs at everything from the tabloid media's obsession with celebrities to the cold calculating ways corporations can function. Plus the lush visuals and stellar cinematography result in an all-around stellar film. "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," has wide appeal, in other words. From its horror to its humor I love it.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

For the First Time in Two Decades I Had Chuck E. Cheese Pizza And Quite Enjoyed It

The outside of our pizza box.
Charles Entertainment Cheese is the full name of the mascot for the popular arcade-and-food establishment, Chuck E. Cheese. Someone from the local one in our area of Ballwin and Ellisville made a Facebook post about how the store needed some curbside-pickup business so that when it is safe for people to return they'll still be here. I have fond memories of going to Chuck E. Cheese when I was around age 6, so I wanted to support our local CEC. I also appreciated it wasn't trying to trick people into ordering it under a false name, as the news has reported some locations did. I called-up our closeby Ellisville Chuck E. Cheese and ordered their $15 deal which included a large cheese pizza, wings, fries, and two drinks. It was a stellar deal in terms of how much food we got, but would it taste good?

I'm not sure if my love of the place when I would get to go as a kid for special occasions is resulting in nostalgia clouding my opinion, but it was pretty good. I know folk often make fun Chuck E. Cheese as not being tasty, but I liked it. The pizza had a nice thick cheese full of flavor, there was a good garlic seasoning on the crust, and it was otherwise quite good. The wings pretty good with a zingy buffalo sauce and the fries were stellar as well, plus we got two sodas. Again, all of this cost just $15, and we had plenty leftover to finish later. I say, "We," because my wife Samii was willing to try some pizza and observed it was, "Pretty good," as well. Therefore, I am not alone in thinking it was some quality grub. I don't know if maybe our Chuck E. Cheese puts more effort into their food than other locations which result in a negative opinion of CEC, but I was very pleased with my meal.
Here's the pizza before we dug-in. It was tasty!
Once Clarkson is a bit older so he is able to navigate the play-areas meant for bigger kids and he's interested in trying some arcade games I imagine we will take him to Chuck E. Cheese. We will see what he thinks and if he enjoys it as much as I did when I was little. It makes me happy we will hopefully have one close by thanks to my supporting it today for lunch and others doing the same (I will also link to that location here if you are one of my local readers).

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dear God, They Are Going to Release a, "Snyder Cut," After All

If you heard a certain subsection of Twitter let out a delighted squeal of glee today it was because of this news that lit-up the internet: HBO Max will be streaming the so-called, "Snyder Cut." It is a version of, "Justice League," which reflects Zack Snyder's vision free of studio meddling or Joss Whedon's reshoots, and was thought to probably exist in some unfinished form, but it seemed only a very hardcore and dedicated fanbase wanted it. I guess it was decided whatever it would cost to punch-up the Zack Snyder Director's Cut of, "Justice League," was worth it to possibly draw more people to HBO Max, because it should be expected in 2021 after 20-30 million is spent on some finishing special effects, adding some music, and so forth what with Snyder saying his version of the movie is otherwise, "90% done."

I kind of liked Snyder's work in the DC Film Universe, enjoying, "Batman VS Superman." I still haven't seen, "Justice League," but am told it is clearly tonally wonky. I was getting tired of him going on and on about his secretive Director's Cut, but I guess he gets the last laugh now that it'll actually be coming out. The thing is, I doubt it will be able to equal whatever his fans have built-up in their heads who hated the theatrical release of, "Justice League." At least once it is out, people can stop their relentlessly annoying tweeting about their desire for this, "Snyder Cut."

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Television Tuesday: Solar Opposites

"Solar Opposites," is a Hulu show created by Mike McMahan and Justin Roiland, and the latter name may look familiar. That is because Roiland is the co-creator of, "Rick and Morty," with Dan Harmon (McMahan is involved in both too). That influence can be felt in a lot of, "Solar Opposites," as it uses the same animation studio and therefore looks just like, "Rick and Morty." That, and with Roiland voicing a number of characters sometimes it feels weird to hear Rick-like speech emerging from somebody. That said, "Solar Opposites," is a good deal different from, "Rick and Morty," in its actual content. For one thing, it is sweeter and less cynical.

It feels odd to thinks of a show with as much gross-out humor, violence, swearing, and weirdness as, "Solar Opposites," as being optimistic and kind, but again, we're comparing it to its thematic cousin, "Rick and Morty." I know it is unfair to have talked about an unrelated show so much, but its a specter that hangs over much of, "Solar Opposites," even while it makes it own way. The show is a bit like, "3rd Rock From the Sun," actually, as it has a family of aliens living on Earth and struggling to acclimate in humorous ways.  There aren't really any long-running subplots beyond a wall filled with shrunken humans who annoyed one of the aliens, instead, each episode is just a wacky little plot with some laughs and zaniness. It's light, chill, and fun.

If, "Rick and Morty," and, "Solar Opposites," were siblings, "Rick and Morty," would be the one who is more accomplished and clever, but also full of itself and often insults you. Meanwhile, "Solar Opposites," is the younger one who is cool with the lowered expectations because it just wants to have fun and maybe crack some disgusting jokes for no reason other than it makes everyone laugh. I've seen some buzz on the internet that is outright hostile to, "Solar Opposites," as well as some arguments it is already better than, "Rick and Morty," has been. I don't get these seeming forced conflicts, because both shows are fun and will be around for a bit--"Rick and Morty," got that big episode order and before it even premiered its first season, "Solar Opposites," was renewed for a second season. "Solar Opposites," ain't perfect, but it is dumb fun. I liked it a good deal.
4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 18, 2020

DC is Printing All Their Comics Just an Hour Fom Where I Live

In news I found kind of interesting, DC switched their printer from Transcontinental Printing--which is located in Canada and due to COVID-19 had a temporary shutdown--to a location owned by LCS Communications with the printing factory being used found in Owensville, located just about an hour and 15 minutes from me in Saint Louis, Missouri. Owensville is basically the middle of nowhere, but it must have been appealing to have a factory there for LCS Communications as I imagine they have a huge printing press out there. DC seems to have decided to not only explore alternative distribution but to switch-up the printer they use as well. I just find it a bit funny they are printing their thousands of comics an hour or so away from me.

I Continue to Watch the, "Star Citizen," Debacle With Vague Amusement

If by Universe you mean janky prototype of a game, sure...
Oh, "Star Citizen" you are such a delightful mess to witness. I wrote at the start of the year about the game and how it's raised absurd sums of money but continues to be in a development Hell of sorts with little in the way of an actual, playable, game. Instead, players can continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars of real money for virtual ships and the promise of being able to enjoy them in the game at some point in the future, just don't ask exactly when. Hey, don't worry though, you can fly the ships around a bit for an upcoming weekend free of extra charge and imagine them doing more besides just zipping about without anything to do in terms of gameplay (and then whatever you can play seems to usually crash after about 10 minutes, so at least you won't have time to get bored). If you like a ship, feel free to throw your money away buy those expensive ships after sampling them and maybe get to use them as something other than a decoration in another 10 or so years.

I think of, "Star Citizen," the same way I think about the eternally delayed, "New Mutants," movie: It will probably be fun if it ever comes out, but at this point, I doubt such a thing will happen anytime soon, if at all. Honestly though, at least, "New Mutants," could just be dumped on Disney+ in a worst-case scenario because it's actually done. "Star Citizen," seems to be a mixture of ideas and vaporware 8 or so years into development with 300 million-ish dollars invested. Yes, you read those numbers right.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

I Know I'm Late to Report this, but Bandcamp is Really Cool

The website (and now also app) Bandcamp has been around since 2008 or so. It started really taking off some years ago, however, and while I knew of it I had not really used it at all. I don't know why I was waiting, however, because Bandcamp is really awesome. It is a bit like Spotify-meets-iTunes but with the focus on independent artists. Singers, bands, producers, podcasters, and so forth can upload their singles and albums, offer them for free with optional payment, require a small minimum payment (with you able to pay more) and then let you stream or outright download their tracks. Many bands sell physical merchandise such as CDs, records, or cassette tapes too.

I recently dipped into Bandcamp because I've been fiddling with my old cassette player and tapes; I joined a Reddit group about tapes and someone (a music artist named Goldkey) shared how their indie folk-pop album had a cassette for sale there along with streaming rights. I joined Bandcamp, bought the cassette with the streaming rights, and spent the following hours checking out the wide assortment of creators and their content in almost any genre you can think of on the site. It was pretty cool.
A glance at the landing page of the site from the other day.
Bandcamp is probably the best website for indie artists around, letting them make money on their works beyond the pennies-for-millions-of-streams offered by sites like Spotify (and I say this as someone who loves to use Spotify, but we're being honest here). I don't know why it took me so long to start using Bandcamp, but now I'm glad that I am and would encourage anyone else who hasn't tried the site or its app out yet to give it a browse & listen!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Now DC is Finishing Some Series as Digital-Only Releases

I wrote about how Marvel was going to be closing-out some of their mini-series as digital-only releases. Well, it seems DC decided that would work for them too, but will be doing it with some concluding ongoing titles. "Supergirl," #41 and #42 will only be found digitally as will, "The Terrifics," #28, #29, and #30. I'm glad these books will be able to actually end somewhat on their own terms as opposed to suddenly being cancelled, but man, that must be annoying if you were collecting individual issues.

Now you've got to buy these issues digitally or in trade paperback as while you were able to hold a physical copy of, "The Terrifics," #27, there never shall be an actual floppy of #28. These aren't mini-series with a handful of issues out, either, these are long-running series that DC has clearly decided to just call it quits with. For those of us who like to have a physical comic, I wonder how wary it will make readers in the future. I mean, his could backfire. Imagine if you like a comic but worry it could suddenly go digital-only and then be cancelled. What would keep you from just trade-waiting a number of titles, figuring they'll end-up only in trade for a physical copy anyway? It's a bit of tightrope, and I hope Marvel and DC walk it carefully.

Yes, I Like Guy Fieri Too

As this article on Buzzfeed discusses, Guy Fieri is a pretty cool fellow. For quite a while Fieri was often mocked by the internet for his over-the-top appearance and silly catchphrases, but over time people have come around. A stand-up comedian named Shane Torres defended Fieri, folk noticed Fieri raises a lot of money for charity, helps a lot of people such as children who want to learn to cook, and the while time Fieri has made it clear he's aware people mock him for looking so zany, he just doesn't care.

There is really no horrific scandal for Fieri, he's just a sweet guy. There once was a rumor started by a disgruntled fired employee that he was homophobic, but that was quickly quashed by it being pointed out Fieri's own sister whom he was extremely close with (and who passed of cancer some years ago) was gay and he supported with her (and continues to support) a number of LGBTQ initiatives. The meanest thing people can say about Fieri is that he's a bit much and his food is unhealthy, but you know what? Him, "Being a bit much," is basically his brand, and you complain his food is unhealthy but then you want to go to a chain restaurant and shovel some, "Garbage fries," in your mouth while tut-tutting about Fieri, like a hypocrite. Meanwhile, he's promoting junky food, yes, but from locally-owned places as opposed to an Applebee's.

Guy Fieri is just a cool dude who wants to make tasty food and spotlight others who make tasty food on his shows like, "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," as well as, "Guy's Grocery Games." Yes, the alliteration is a lot, but what did I just say about Guy? I'm a fan of Guy Fieri and enjoy his shows while realizing his unique fashion style and tendency to yell excited catchphrases can irritate people. Still, even if you bugs you, Guy Fieri is a really cool...guy.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Some Cool Live Internet Comic Sales Are Coming Up!

With COVID-19 having shut down being able to go to shows, one thing I have enjoyed doing it watching live comic book sale events from some of my favorite friends/vendors. I thought I would spotlight two snazzy ones coming up...

My friend Eric Meyer of STL Comics has done two of his live sales to much acclaim and while I'm bummed he can't do any in-person shows for the foreseeable future I greatly enjoy his digital events! He'll be doing, "Live Sale #3," on Facebook tomorrow, May 15th. It'll go from 6:30PM-10:30 PM Central Time and is sure to be fun.

Thomas Milster of Alliance Comics and Games is another really cool guy and he'll be doing the, "Alliance Comics Toys and Games Facebook Live Comic Book Sale!" this May 21st on Facebook at 6:00 PM Central Time. Tom has said to expect some awesome deals so I'm eager to tune in.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Rant-Reviews: Basically The Smidgen That Was Available

Not As Much Going On With Comics...Yet
There has not really been any new comics lately in terms of floppies at your local comic store. We have COVID-19 shutting down the planet to, "Thank," for that. Still, regular shipping of comics from Diamond will resume on May 20th. That said, DC has dipped their toe into alternative distribution and other publishers have me on their press list and share digital review copies of their upcoming titles now and then. For this reason, I do have a small number of new titles that are recently out or will be out sometime in the foreseeable future. Let's review the smidgen that was available, shall we?

Things that Could be Acquired for Reading

It Eats What Feeds It #1-#3
From the quality people over at SCOUT Comics, this comic is written by Max Hoven as well as Aaron Crow and Illustrated by Gabriel Iumazark. I was able to read all three issues of this mini-series and did so with gusto right before bed. It ended up keeping me up for a bit, however, as this was a scary and at times grotesque tale! A young man named Kenny goes to work as a live-in handyman for a beautiful older woman named Francois, but things are not at all what they seem as things get progressively dangerous. Hoven and Crow create a fantastically creepy story and Iumazark's minimalist art-style makes the moments of detailed and eerie violence really stick with readers. Give the whole series a chance as it takes a little bit for the horror to really ramp-up, but the payoff when things get terrifying is worth it.
5 out of 5 stars.

Ludocrats #1
Well, this is an odd one. A long-in-the-works comic written by Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol with stellar art by Jeff Stokely and published by Image. The idea is its a bunch of aristocrats of the absurd who get up to all kinds of silly and violent mischief. However, one of their own may be conspiring against them and this results in even more crazy and bloody shenanigans. I liked it, with the jarring zaniness clearly intended, and as I said, it looks really good. You can grab a copy and see it for yourself on May 20th, I believe.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Batman and the Outsiders #12
This is kind of in stores now, as the small number of comic stores that have tried DC's alternative distribution model can get this book and others. With that said, most stores will probably just acquire this via Diamond when they start shipping again. I was able to get my hands on a copy though and wanted to review it. Bryan Edward Hill continues to knock it out of the park writing this book, with his characterizations of each hero ringing true as they fight that always-troublesome Batman foe, Ra's Al Ghul. I'm always happy to see Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning in a comic, and other fan-favorites such as Cassandra Cain get to shine too. This is a great Outsiders team and Hill makes them work together fabulously.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Murder Hobo #1
Another title published by SCOUT Comics, writer Joseph Schmalke and artist/colorist/letterer Jason Lynch have a hilariously raunchy comic here. Focused on adventurers telling tales of when they met violent, thieving, and horny characters who joined their party on a quest, Schmalke and Lynch provide some humorous accounts of these dangerous individuals just utterly wrecking everything with their mixture of bloodlust and desire to hump like there is no tomorrow. There are some clever jokes thrown in too, but I loved the wild and crass humor that kept landing some great punchlines. Depending on Diamond's shipping this one should be in stores sometime in June, but it may end up being July. It is definitely recommended if you don't mind some gross-out humor.
4 out of 5 stars.

Still Plenty of Quality
Even though there are fewer comics coming out currently, there clearly are some great reads on the horizon and some solid options on stands now (if your shop can deliver or do curbside pick-up). I am excited for when more comics come out again and am excited for you to have a chance to read all these books as well!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Television Tuesday: Mama June Barely Appears on Her Own Show Now

Watching the latest season of, "Mama June: From Not to Hot," which has the additional subtitle, "Family Crisis," reminds me of the classic play by Samuell Beckett, "Waiting for Godot." Basically, the entire play centers on the main characters talking about and waiting for Godot, who never shows up. Godot is covered in-depth and the center of focus, but does not ever appear. Now, since developing a severe drug addiction and horrifically codependent relationship with a sleazebag named Geno, Mam June never sees her family and has zero interest in her show. She got healthy, had weight-loss surgery, did funny shenanigans with her family, and then disappeared to spend her time at casinos or selling anything she can for drug money. The show didn't stop though, it just shifted focus a bit.

Now the show is more about the kids as they get older and June's adult relatives being concerned about her. The show does not only talk about June, but she is often talked about, worried about, or addressed. she hasn't appeared in-person, however. It has been more a case of everyone reacting to news reports, leaked videos, or trying to find her before a court date. It has taken an odd show and made it all the more surreal. By watching the various shows about Mama June, Honey Boo Boo, and the rest of the family you can see how fame and a decent chunk of money drastically affected this family. Some people turned out okay and weathered the complexities of money and popularity, others crumbled into a hot mess. This zany family had divorce, dramatic lifestyle changes, and now has been dealing with the all-too-real impact of addiction.
Lauryn AKA Pumpkin and Alana AKA Honey Boo Boo
"Mama June: From Not to Hot," always lists resources for help with addiction when it airs every Friday on WeTV. It acts like it is trying to be educational. It honestly comes across a bit exploitative, but at the same time has a weird inspirational element in seeming how some members of the family--such as Lauryn/Pumpkin--have stepped-up to lead and help everyone in the face of their Mother's total breakdown. Lauryn is 19 and has her own 2-year-old daughter with her partner, but assumed custody of Alana (Honey Boo Boo) and seems to be working hard to keep the family as a functional unit. It is impressive to see someone so young take on so much.

Then there still is Mike/Sugar Bear (June's Ex-Husband and Alana's assumed Dad) and his new wife Jennifer around for comedic relief and some additional drama. The whole thing is weirdly watchable with its mixture of silly moments and extremely serious ones. It's about as trashy as reality television can get, but that's always been a big guilty pleasure of mine. Hence, I'm gonna keep tuning in as long as the show keeps going--and hopefully, someday the main star (June) will actually get help and get clean.

Monday, May 11, 2020

So...Raw Egg Whites are Basically Safe to Ingest?

I was reading interesting things on the internet as I try to keep informed of news and random trivia. This led to me to a piece by Jim Vorel of PASTE who wrote about why egg whites are safe in many alcoholic drinks where they give it a silky, "Fizz." I am one of those people who has always been paranoid of raw eggs--I ate a really undercooked sunny-side egg once as a child before I took a plane flight and threw-up in the middle of the aisle after the plane landed upon suddenly feeling quite ill and spending a couple more days sick didn't help either. So yes, I've got a bit of a complex. However, it seems egg whites generally are quite safe.

The reason eating raw cookie dough can be risky lies more with the risk of salmonella in flour (something I have read about flour an assortment of places) and many chickens now don't have salmonella that often due to being vaccinated. The biggest risk with an egg is the outside shell these days, which makes cleaning the shell thoroughly before cracking them and getting the insides a key aspect of avoiding illness. There is a tiny and almost negligible risk to anyone with a normal and healthy human immune system, but overall egg whites and eggs, in general, are generally safe to ingest raw in your alcoholic drinks, some of those keto salad dressing recipes, etc. In closing, when you eat raw cookie dough it's the flour that might get ya, not the eggs. Ain't that a kicker?

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Have a Wonderful Mother's Day!

My happy wife and sleepy son.
I want to wish everyone a happy Mother's Day. Whether you're a Mother by birth, adoption, or have served a Motherly role to someone, you are awesome and matter a lot. If I may offer an opinion, I think one of the best Mothers around has to be my wife, Samii, who is a stellar Mom to our son, Clarkson. I love them both so much and am thankful for them.

Also, to those who have lost pregnancies or children, I want to wish you a happy Mother's Day too as the love you have for your child you were unable to give birth to (or children you lost) is just as valid as those with children who currently are here with us. I want to offer my comfort and support to those who have lost their Mothers as well--I know this day can be hard. Much love to all the amazing Mothers!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Hot Comics Revue: Speculation Potion Number Nine

I hope anyone old or weird enough to get the vintage music joke in my headline enjoyed it. We're back with my occasional segment looking at comics that are gaining or have obtained a degree of popularity that they're, "Hot," and cost a degree more than cover-price. I have to, as always, give thanks to the crew at Comics Heating Up for helping me come up with this segment. They are the best website around for speculation on upcoming comic releases as well as offering news and tidbits on books that are out and may gain interest. Now then, let's talk about a comic that's warming-up, some red-hot stuff, and books featuring a character with steamy potential.

A Comic That Is Warming Up
Here's a title I never even heard of from an imprint I barely recognized. The book is, "Ball and Chain," and it is from Homage Studios. Homage studios was an imprint of sorts from Wildstorm when it was a part of Image and then became owned by DC when Jim Lee took Wildstorm to it. In other words, it was an imprint of an imprint at one point. As for, "Ball and Chain," it was a forgotten dollar bin book about a husband and wife who are having marital issues but then gain superpowers that only work when they are near each other. It suddenly is demanding $30-40 for the first issue, however, and $80-or-so for the whole four issue fun because it was announced how it was optioned with some big-name talent attached. Dwayne, "The Rock," Johnson and Emily Blunt are set to play the couple, and assuming the movie does get made (as opposed to struggling in development Hell forever), this book could become even more popular.

Some Red-Hot Titles

Ever since BOOM! Studios signed a deal with Netflix that allows almost any of their books (that weren't already optioned somewhere else) to be developed into movies and shows, many of their titles have gotten crazy-hot. "Black Badge," "Something is Killing the Children," and others all easily fetch $25 or more depending on the printing or variant, with some snatching-up over $100 such as the Peach Momoko cover for, "Red Mother." BOOM! Studios puts out some great reads, so I personally look forward to some hopefully snazzy adaptations.

Comics With Steamy Potential
The aforementioned Comics Heating Up and other sites have been sharing chatter about how it looks more and more likely that the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have a, "Nova," solo flick shortly. Rumors have abounded for years, with the debut of the Richard Rider version of the character--in solid condition--often demanding anywhere from $40-$100. A newer iteration of the character named Sam Alexander popped-up some years ago in, "Marvel Point One," #! (not to be confused with, "Marvel NOW! Point One," #1 as confusing as that sounds), and that book is quite reasonably priced in a range of $10-$20 for a near-mint copy. Whether we would see one or both of these versions of, "Nova,' remains to be seen, but each book or the one with the character who ends-up featured could appreciate quickly should an official announcement be made in the near future.

Friday, May 8, 2020

"Mad As Hell," is a Fantastic Book About the Amazing Movie, "Network."

"Mad As Hell," is a book that via a number of interviews and lots of research done by author Dave
 Itzkoff tells the story of, "Network." "Network," is a movie that when it came out in 1976 seemed absurdly far-fetched. It talked about a World where news divisions focused more on getting outlandish content and having popular hosts spouting controversial theories than telling the truth. It pictured a World where it was not so much politicians or countries that ran things, but major corporations who actually held the reins of our planet. Basically, "Network," predicted the future to a terrifying degree with one of the bleakest comedies you'll ever watch. Not that it lacks hilarity of fantastic quotes such as the famous, "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," which has been altered and used so much it would risk losing its vitality were it not so powerful.

Itzkoff has much of the book focus on the man who wrote, "Network," and spent much of its development and filming closely supervising it, Paddy Chayefsky. The first seeds of the idea all the way to it winning Academy Awards and then the aftermath and what, "Network," looks like when examined through the lens of the present day are covered skillfully. I've said for years how, "Network," is one of my favorite films and it is shocking how despite being over four decades old it only manages to become increasingly relevant and topical every year. Itzkoff's book provides a great deal of backstory, context, and plenty of fascinating facts. It's the perfect book for anyone who loves, "Network," and wants to know more nitty-gritty details about the flick and how it managed to foretell so much. The book actually came out back in 2014, but I got it as a holiday present some time ago and read through it in a couple days recently as it really caught my attention--I highly recommend it.
5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Microsoft Showed Off Games for the Xbox Series X

You know who seems to be purposely coming up with bad console names lately? Microsoft. We all mocked Nintendo for a name like, "Wii," but then Microsoft followed-up the Xbox with the Xbox 360....which means you're back where you started. Then they made the Xbox One...which was the third despite the name. Now we've got what is tentatively called the Xbox Series X which makes me wonder where series A-W has been. with that said, Microsoft showed off some games via the internet (no big in-person event due to COVID-19) running the Xbox Series X technology with the disclaimer things an change, but that it was a general indicator.

Things of course looked really snazzy, and Microsoft tackled the tricky aspect of how many games will be on the previous generation console as well by offering the, "Smart Delivery," feature which a number of titles will have. Basically, if you buy a game for the Xbox One you'll be able to play the next-generation version once it is released for free. Not all companies are doing this, and some that are doing it a confusing manner, but it is a nice gesture for Microsoft and some companies to engage in. I don't play games as much--acquisition of a Nintendo Switch early in quarantine to try some titles out aside. Therefore, I'm not chomping at the bit for new fancy consoles, but its fun to see what the new tech can do. Now we just need to wonder what the future holds for the PlayStation 5 besides that ugly controller.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Marvel To Make Upcoming Issues of Certain Comics Digital-Only

In news that both makes sense but also is kind of annoying, Marvel is going to make some of their comics digital-only that have already been coming out. I understand making some lower-selling titles available solely as digital comics that are then later collected in physical form, and that happens often. A lot of the titles they announced this happening with have had physical issues already released, however.

If you wanted to read the 3rd issue of, "Ant-Man," or the 4th issue of, "Avengers of the Wasteland," as a floppy, you are now out of luck. You've gotta either buy the book digitally or wait for a collection. Also, I kind of get the vibe many of these books are going to get canceled shortly if this is happening (or some were already just mini-series, natch). This is pretty darn annoying and I also feel bad for comic stores that now will have customers who were reading certain books saying, "Where's my copy of, 'Hawkeye: Freefall' #5?" only to be told it can only be had digitally or in an eventual trade paperback collection.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I understand a lot of this probably comes as a reaction to COVID-19 and how it shut-down the comic industry for a bit of time. I also see how Marvel may not want to flood comic-stores with books either whilst also wanting some titles to come out and generate money/reader interest before they start shipping books again the 27th (general shipping resumes the 20th but Marvel ain't ready till a week later). Still, I wonder how much this indicates what the future could hold for titles from Marvel too in regards to more books being digital-only before getting collected? Many things to ponder.

News and Links for May 2020 With Minimal Depressing Content

It Might Be May
Because 2020 just couldn't help itself the big topic for May (besides the ongoing concern of COVID-19) is what folk casually refer to as, "Murder Hornets. Let's try to avoid how much horrifically depressing stuff is going on and instead enjoy some fun bits of news and links, sound good?

Read These Things (or Don't, Whatever You Like)
Comic publisher Northwest Press is going to help people celebrate pride this June by mailing-out, "Pride Postcards," with all kinds of awesome artwork by creators. You can give the Kickstarter campaign for it a gander here.

Samii and I found Netflix's show, "Too Hot to Handle," to be dumb fun. I'm all for a, "Virtual reunion,' episode whilst waiting for a new season to be possible in a hopefully post-pandemic world.

Two video-game companies, THQ Nordic and Koch Media, traded some of their IPs to one another, with this news catching my eye as one IP was, "Red Faction," which had some awesome and miserable games. I am curious if this shuffling of rights between companies indicates plans for anything to be rebooted. Dare I assume we will get a new X-rated rip-off of, "The Sims," in the form of, "Singles: Flirt Up Your Life?"

I was a big fan of the first American Genre Film Archive's, "Mystery Mixtape," they released for just 99 cents (or you could donate more). They did a second one and now a third just came out too. I'd recommend giving them all a viewing!

I quite liked the comic, "Wyrd," and considered it one of the funniest reads of 2019. Comicsbeat just posted an interview with the book's artist, Antonio Fuso, and he mentions there will be more news on, "Wyrd,' in the future, so that excites me!

This article reviewing the early access/still-in-development game, "Lumberjack Dynstasy," makes taking down trees sound a lot more full of intrigue and mystery than you might assume.

Birdcage Bottom Books puts out some stellar indie titles and currently has a 50% off sale going for a number of their anthology books as long as you use the code HALFANTHOLOGIES at check-out to buy such awesome reads as, "Bottoms Up!" "Cringe," and, "Digestate."

In interesting news, long-running drama-thriller, "The Blacklist," is going to air its half-filmed season finale by doing the scenes that weren't complete in an animated graphic-novel style. That sounds snazzy and immediately makes me think of the classic, "Max Payne," games.

Quibi has had a rough time lately. Besides new episodes of the stellar, "Reno 911!" it has minimal interesting content, allegedly was taking privacy data to sell it shouldn't have (while claiming it was a glitch) and now Quibi is being sued for possibly ripping-off its, "Turnstyle," tech from another company. I've been fascinated by the service as something that had some clever ideas but seems to have botched almost everything since launch. At this rate, I doubt Qubi will exist by next year.

Enjoy the (Hopefully) Good Weather Responsibly!
I hope you enjoyed all or some of the bits of information I provided today. If the weather is nice where you are, go out and enjoy it, but make sure to still practice social distancing and otherwise be safe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Television Tuesday: "Westworld," Season 3 Has Finished, It Was Alright

In the end, season 3 of, "Westworld," was disorganized but entertaining, with amazing actors and great technical effects and atmosphere compensating for a so-so plot. In other words, it was, "Westworld." In all seriousness, however, I am one of those people who think the 2nd season was amazing (I liked the first season a lot too, of course, but season 2 was better) and I've always enjoyed the amazing talent on this show (Jeffery Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton, a Hemsworth brother, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Hopkins in earlier seasons and even more great folk), but season 3 was a bit lacking and seemed all too impressed with itself.

When I say Westworld seemed too impressed/pleased with itself I refer to its tendency of liking to reveal a twist and act like its some Earth-shattering revelation--everyone is so shocked--when those of us actually watching at home just kind of mumble, "Okay," with vague interest. The last episode of this season was basically a lot of, "The Westworld Affectation," as I call it. We see the last Dolores copy, we learn Serac (Vincent Cassel) has been a willing puppet of Rehoboam, Dolores actually wants to exterminate humanity, no she actually wants to set it free, Caleb (Aaron Paul) knows her from his time in the park as a military recruit, Dolores wanted to be absorbed by Rehoboan all along, et cetera, et cetera.
Someone as good as Vincent Cassel ended-up a bit wasted on this show,
but many actors are better than the material on, "Westworld."
Past seasons of Westworld usually had a stand-out episode or two, but season 3 lacked that, it just had some great moments--ones that were mostly affectation-free. Bernard meeting his human predecessor's wife (played by Gina Torres who also portrayed her way back in season 1) for real (when he, "Was," Arnold) actually really got to me, as his dementia-stricken wife vaguely recalled him (as Arnold) and the heartbreaking loss of their son. I don't know what about it made me tear-up other than how it's so well-acted and a moment of genuine emotion in a show that often can be as lacking in feeling as a robot (no offense meant towards the show's hosts, of course).

As for other moments that really grab watchers, the penultimate episode with Ed Harris as the Man In Black/William facing all the versions of himself in an alternate-reality therapy program and going way against the program and killing them was a hoot too. Frankly, Ed Harris has always made William a much more interesting character than he has any right to be--a lesser actor would make the lack of actual characterization for William quite apparent. "Westworld," seems to know this as even though it seemingly kills William in the post-credits scene, there's a robotic version lined-up and ready to wreak havoc too.
"So...where do go with all this in Season 4?"
Besides some stand-out moments, like the ones above and a couple others (the sex-club fight scene set to an orchestral version of The Weeknd's, "Wicked Things," for another example) it was a fun show with the highest-quality production, but a lack of much content that only manages to be as good as it is thanks to an amazing cast, stellar atmosphere, and those little moments that hint how the show could be more...before it falls victim to its aforementioned, "Westworld Affectation." I thought season 2 had enough ingenious bits to be one of my shows of the year of 2018. Season 3 was good, but I can already tell you this ain't making any best of the year lists for me for 2020. "Westworld," was renewed recently for season 4 and I am legitimately curious where it could go. Hopefully, whatever it does we'll get some James Marsden. I missed him this season.
3.5 out of 5 stars (for the entire season).

Monday, May 4, 2020

Peter Weber Finally Did Something Smart

As they video chat during quarantine they look...happy? Wow!
When Peter Weber's season of, "The Bachelor," was happening I wrote about just how terrible he was at everything. He kept mistaking dysfunctional behavior as, "Passion," and thought unless his relationships constantly had a crisis he needed to fix there was a lack of chemistry. He sent home the most mature, reasonable, and least-likely-to-murder-him-in-a-rage woman, Kelley when she was in the remaining 5. He ended-up choosing Madison to the chagrin of everyone (his Mother, especially) and then they broke up less than 48 hours after the finale. It was an entertaining mess and Clare Crowley's season is on hold for now due to COVID-19 so the only, "Bachelor," content we have is a weird spin-off featuring amateur singers who hope to find love and fame. Just when you would have thought we were done with Peter, however, he went and...actually did something smart?

Yes, my friends, Peter Weber and Kelley Flanagan seem to be dating, and happy/not constantly fighting. It seems Peter finally realized that maybe the woman who pointed out a relationship can be, "Easy and fun," with just the occasional difficult discussion as opposed to a constant battle of emotions with brief respites of peace eventually got through to ol' Pete, it just took some months after his season for a bit of sense to get drilled into his noggin. It is a nice epilogue to the whole ordeal that was his season.