2020 is almost done. In fact, if you're on the East coast it is already 2021. Here in the Midwest, however, we still have a little over a half-hour to go before we escape this year. 2020 was rough for a lot of people and especially awful for us, as I've blogged about. I'm just glad this year is about to conclude and hope that 2021 brings better things!
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Way back in, "Batman VS Superman," we see Bruce Wayne's parents getting murdered in a flashback because it isn't a Batman movie without his parents getting shot. One thing about that though was a relatively popular actor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is Thomas Wayne. It was a tiny role, so why did they have him do it? Well, when a, "Flashpoint," movie was announced it all made sense. In the, "Flashpoint," comic we witness Barry Allen altering reality to make it so that his mother doesn't die during his childhood with his Father being wrongfully convicted as the killer. It causes a dramatic ripple through reality and changes a lot of things. One of those changes is that Bruce Wayne is shot that night in crime alley with Thomas Wayne becoming Batman and Martha going insane and becoming the Joker. This made me excited for a, "Flashpoint," movie with Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an older Batman and also excited my Mother-in-Law, Kim, for whom Jeffery Dean Morgan was one of her favorite actors. Then DC's movies became a mess.
Zack Snyder finished, "Batman VS Superman," but left or was fired from, "Justice League," depending on who you ask. Then DC scrapped their plans for a closely-linked film Universe and now is playing things more fast-and-loose in terms of continuity. They are still making a, "Flashpoint," movie but it'll have Ben Affleck still as Batman as he was in recent flicks plus Micheal Keaton of all people returning as Batman too. Ezra Miller will still be the Flash, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan won't be involved, it seems. That's a shame, as Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Batman would've been cool, as Zack Snyder and I agree--and I don't often agree with Snyder on stuff as he sometimes tries a little too hard to be edgy (like his recent bragging about how his director's cut of, "Justice League," will have Batman saying, "Fuck," on HBO MAX because that is...cool, I guess). I'm hopeful the, "Flashpoint," we do get is cool, but I'm just kind of bummed there will be a lack of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Batman.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Marvel had been hinting that Peter Parker would be getting a new Spider-Man outfit in 2021. They just revealed what it will be and wow, it is ugly. I can see how certain elements could work, but when all put together it does not. Heck, maybe if you even made the yellow-ish gold part red it might be okay. This is just hideous, however. The Iron Spider outfit back in the past got some flak, but it was alright. I just don't see the appeal of this one. Spidey usually goes through different phases of outfits every-now-and-then, so this most likely won't last too long, and I'm thankful for that. Still, yeesh.
I love watching a good metaphorical trainwreck, and, "Star Citizen," has been one. It's gotten over 300 million dollars from crowdfunding, has been in development 8 or so years, and has basically nothing to show for all this besides a glitchy Alpha-state. People spend thousands of dollars to buy, "Concepts," of spaceships and while the main space game was delayed, folk were promised that the first-person spin-off, "Squadron 42," would be done in 2016. Then that date came and went. Next, people were promised a fully-playable Beta mode at the end of 2020.
We're at the end of 2020 and the director behind these games, Chris Roberts, has said he ain't showing anything. Apparently, they don't want to share any footage or pictures as the game is so far from being done it would be a case where, "If we show the non-spoiler gameplay now, that’s prime footage and gameplay that could have been used closer to release,” leading to Roberts to conclude, "...that it is best to not show Squadron 42 gameplay publicly, nor discuss any release date until we are closer to the home stretch and have high confidence in the remaining time needed to finish the game to the quality we want." Yeah, these games are never coming out in any kind of complete state.
"Star Citizen," was advertised in 2012 as a fun space game from the guy who brought us, "Wing Commander," years ago. It would have explosions, flying around, and be good and simple fun. Then they wanted to make it a game with a persistent and big online World, then on-foot shooting segments became their own game, then things kept happening that led to feature creep, delays, and the whole time this happened hopeful fans kept pumping this thing full of money. If, "Cyberpunk 2077," is an example of what happens when you rush a game to the market with bugs and issues, this is an example of what occurs when there is no rush to ever release it and the developers just keep adding more half-baked features whilst the game becomes too haphazard to ever release.
I truly feel bad for everyone who has put their money into this game--be it a little or a lot. I doubt these games will ever be finished, instead, they'll be staying in development until the money eventually runs out and it all falls apart. The tell-all book about this mess we get someday is going to be pretty wild.
Monday, December 28, 2020
The least productive day of the year is known as, "Blue Monday." It is the Monday after Christmas when most return to work depending on the day of the year Christmas falls on (sometimes we get a Blue Tuesday). It makes sense as the week after Christmas before the New Year is generally the least productive one you'll ever see in America at least, by most accounts. We're exhausted from the Christmas holiday, want to relax, are eager to party for New Year's eve, and many folks just take the week off if able or do the bare minimum. Kids on break from school, it is colder (in many regions North of the Equator, at least), we just feel lazy.
Hell, I felt like I wanted to make a blog post today but didn't know what I felt motivated to write about. Therefore, I wrote about how unmotivated we all are. You know what, though? That's perfectly okay to want to rest and recharge your batteries. It has been an even harder year than usual for so many of us, why not take a break if you are able? Relax if you can, in other words. Try and take it easy as long as it is okay for you to do so.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Reed Berkowitz is a man who designs, "Alternate Reality Games," or ARGs and he wrote a fascinating article. An ARG can be something like an escape room, or a fun game where you explore fake documents or websites to solve a mystery (like those subscription boxes where you find a killer or such). When people play ARGs they realize they are not real, however, and the games eventually reach an end for various reasons (people get bored, it gets too expensive to make the game, "Work," and so forth.
Berkowitz writes about how QAnon is like an anti-game. It has people scouring websites and creating elaborate conspiracy theories that would be funny if folk didn't outright believe them. People in QAnon don't know what is, "Real," or, "Fake," because everyone could be part of some massive conspiracy. QAnon is like an echo chamber of people stating crazy theories and others taking those and running with them. ARGs are designed to provide answers when you, "Solve," the mystery while QAnon just keeps raising questions and trying to pull more people into its orbit as members or targets of its scorn.
ARGs are fun and harmless, QAnon is dangerous as its insistence that the "Evil," people need to be stopped no matter how outlandish or foolish the claims about them are could lead those who are unstable to commit acts of violence. With Trump (who QAnon followers adore and think is one of the few, "Good," powers) about to be out of power, I don't think things will get better. They may very well get even more fringe and dangerous.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
One Big Post
The end of 2019 was fraught with emotion and busy so instead of making multiple posts looking back at the year, I made one big one. It worked out pretty well. Considering how this year has been I felt like doing another mega-post instead of a bunch of small ones would be easier for everyone involved. Read on for a look back at this year in all its, "Glory," as it were...
Overwhelming Focus of the Year:
Ever since March, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has been the main thing on many of our minds. It has been less of an issue in countries that handled it somewhat well, but here in America is just keeps getting worse. It is terrible how many people have fallen ill or died with countless morons denying this pandemic is a problem (and refusing to simply wear a facemask to protect themselves and others). 2020 was a pretty miserable year, and one big reason for many of us having such a bad time was COVID-19.
Best New Comic of the Year:
"The Other History of the DC Universe"
It was announced, then delayed, and finally, the first issue came out at the tail end of November. The wait was worth it, however, as, "The Other History of the DC Universe," is a fascinating take on the DC Universe from the eyes of characters such as Black Lightning and other heroes of color. It really is the best thing DC has put out in years and writer John Ridley and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli deserve much praise for their incredible first issue. I can't wait for more.
The Disappointment of the Year:
Warren Ellis is one of the best writers of comic-books to ever exist, and he excelled in other media formats as well from prose to television. Warren Ellis created some of my favorite works I've ever read. Warren Ellis is a genius. Warren Ellis also preyed upon many, many women and female-presenting individuals. He coerced them into sexual situations and manipulated them emotionally in a manner that is disgusting to read about. There are so many to read about too. The joy I felt once looking at my plentiful comics by Warren Ellis was replaced by feelings of sadness, dismay, and disappointment in a, "Hero," of the comics World being revealed as someone who hurt others many times. I sold almost all of my Warren Ellis-written works and the things I kept for one reason or another (his Moon Knight run so that I have a mostly complete collection of anything with the character) are now hidden away as I don't want to see them. As many have observed, Ellis being a creep doesn't undo all his contributions to the field of comics. That said, I personally don't get the same enjoyment out of his work anymore and have zero desire to buy anything else he may ever make in the future.
Food of the Year:
I've been on a bit of a spicy kick this year. Spicy chicken nuggets were a treat, some mild-to-medium sauced wings always made me happy, hot chips sounded good now-and-then, I just was pleased if I could get some heat. Now, I didn't want my food to be incredibly spicy, but a nice gentle burn was appreciated. I'm not sure why I suddenly wanted spicy food this year, sometimes I just get a weird craving, like that year I constantly alternated between craving lemonade and hot chocolate.
Canceled Comic of the Year
It got 10 issues and will have a little, "King in Black," tie-in epilogue, but I still feel like that isn't enough of the current, "Doctor Doom," series which was written with an expert mixture of bleak humor and intrigue by Christopher Cantwell and illustrated by the love-him-or-hate-him Salvador Larroca (I like his stuff usually, myself). Cantwell gave us the story of a Doom who is robbed of the leadership of his nation (Latveria) by traitors and forced to be as resourceful and clever as he always claims to be whilst also being haunted by images of a possible happier World. A Doom who is a bit of a hero and still a bit of a jerk always being undone by his hubris is a more interesting Doom than the kind who simply grumbles about the Fantastic Four, but I guess, "Interesting," doesn't always sell enough comics to spare a book cancellation.
Funniest Comic of the Year
Two trashmen in Los Angeles suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves targeted by a crazy retired actor who has used his millions of dollars and acclaim to form a cult of sorts. It is as weird and silly as it sounds, and manages to be funny in a clever way beyond, "Weird for weird's sake." Only two issues have come out so far, but I can't really think of any other comic this year that made me giggle as much as, "Hollywood Trash," did.
Music-Listening Method of the Year
I got into Bandcamp this year and am quite pleased I did. A wide array of unique and interesting music artists can be found via this website (which also has an app). Plus, unlike most other music options the artists actually are paid decently with Bandcamp. You get to enjoy music and support the people who made it!
Ongoing Comic of the Year
The Department of Truth
When this was originally solicited it sounded underwhelming, "Imagine if every conspiracy were true!" The comic we got was much more interesting than that, however. It brings us a World where there is truth and reality, but there is an issue where if enough people believe in something, it manifests into reality briefly or even permanently and can override the, "Truth," with messy made-up fiction becoming reality. That is where the Department of Truth comes in. They work to stop or destroy anything that threatens reality. They make sure the World stays round, Obama was born in Hawaii, and if too many people believe in Santa Claus with all their heart, they go kill him at the North Pole. It's an extremely clever concept and the four issues that have come out so far have been a fascinating trip down the conspiratorial rabbit-hole.
Game of the Year
It is so, so broken, but I have been having more fun playing it than any other games in a good long while. I am talking about, "Cyberpunk 2077," and my experience with it on the PlayStation 4. It is glitchy, the graphics warp and mutate into ugly ways, certain plot elements leave a bad taste in my mouth, but damn if it isn't fun and sometimes has great writing to counter the iffy stuff. The World sometimes feels fully realized and other times feels like a fake and plastic theme park with a paper-thin facade, but when things are working, I love the sneaking, hacking, interactions with other characters, zipping around on my motorcycle...and then the game crashes. "Cyberpunk 2077," is a big mess, but it is beautiful and keeps getting updates to make it function better and better. I already love it in its horribly shambling condition and know it will only improve. It is so messed-up stores are letting people get refunds for it--no questions asked--and Sony delisted it from their online store. I still am a fan, despite all this. "Cyberpunk 2077," could've never lived-up to the hype, but what we got is pretty damn fun when it isn't falling apart.
Hardest Part of the Year
At the end of 2019, we lost our pregnancy. It was incredibly hard and upsetting. Little did we suspect just what 2020 would bring to add-on to our grief. During this year we lost Samii's Dad, her Mom, and her Grandpa. I was especially close to my mother-in-law, Kim, and continue to miss her deeply. 2020 seemed like it was just loss after loss, with a pandemic thrown in to just make things even more complicated and terrible. 2020 was rough.
Best Part of the Year
Losing so many people in such a short span of time was hard and I am thankful for all the family and friends who have been there to show us support and love. My mother and father have been wonderful, our friends have shown how much they care in a myriad of ways, and at the end of the day, I am still so thankful to have Samii as my wife and Clarkson as my son. 2020 was a Hellish year, but my wife and son inspire me to do my best every day for them, and for myself.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Today is Christmas. Should you observe it, open some presents and eat some food. Make sure you relax too. I'll get my big year-in-review post up tomorrow (I'm just doing one major post again this year) and will be chilling today. My family will probably watch some movies, kick-back, and just enjoy being with each other. Christmas is a lot different this year due to COVID-19, but we can still enjoy it (safely). Merry Christmas to you all!
Thursday, December 24, 2020
I like to do my holiday shopping pretty early. Some people wait and wait and wait, however. I've read about people waiting until Christmas Eve to go shopping and it boggles my mind. Do you just go to Target and grab what's left that kinda-sorta matches stuff on people's wishlists? Is it about the adrenaline rush of knowing you have less than 24 hours to get stuff for people, wrap it, and then it gets opened? I'm not sure if waiting until the 24th is as bad or worse than those who try to buy stuff online around the 23rd and hope the 1-day shipping works out (or pay a ton for the fast shipping when they could've just bought stuff earlier). I don't get it, but if it works for you to shop that way, you do you.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
For years if someone had a new fancy computer the question was, "Can it run Crysis?" A fun game in its own right, but sometimes treated as if it were more of a tech demo, "Crysis," took a lot of juice to pump-up to the best graphics possible. It came out in 2007 for the PC and with a recent remastered version still can hog your computer's processing and graphics like nobody's business if you want it pretty as possible. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch is a mighty little console, but by no means as powerful as even last-gen consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One. That made everyone a little surprised that a version of, "Crysis," would be released on the console. Could it even run well? Would it look butt-ugly? I was able to buy a digital download recently when it was on sale (I love me a good sale) and I'd say that, "Crysis," does indeed work on the Switch, as long as you have reasonable expectations.
"Crysis," on the Switch isn't gorgeous, but it has solid graphics. The destructible environments are there, the driveable cars, the enemies for you to stealth around or try and toss. The open-world levels at the beginning of the game that give-way to annoyingly on-rails fights are present. This is without a doubt, "Crysis," and you can play it in the palms of your hands--that's pretty cool! Yes, it can stutter and skip during scenes of intense combat. I also did have it crash on me a couple times. That said, it works well enough for the kind of tech it's running on. It is still, "Crysis," with all its fun and annoying elements. If you've ever wanted to play, "Crysis," on the go, this is your best bet. Should you want top-of-the-line graphics and effects, however, you're gonna be disappointed. As I said, come in with reasonable expectations and you'll be pleased. I had fun, myself, hence wanting to write this little review.
4 out of 5 stars (in terms of satisfaction playing on the Switch).
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
I always enjoy watching the news-magazine of sorts known as, "CBS Sunday Morning." It has various pieces of regular news, but works-in fascinating feature stories, fun comedy bits, and sometimes has music. I generally learn something new from its informative segments and it is just a lovely way to start the week. Jane Pauley generally hosts, with various reporters tackling the individual bits, and comedians such as Jim Gaffigan stop by sometimes for fun little parts. I don't have much of a point to this post other than to recommend that you watch, "CBS Sunday Morning," if you don't already. It's on CBS...on Sunday morning--exact times can vary by your region, but the title kinda tells you when to expect it.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Usually, if a film comes out on Christmas day you'd have to go to the theaters to enjoy it. That isn't the case with many new releases this year, however, as two cool flicks will be available for streaming on Christmas day. They are, "Wonder Woman 1984," on HBO MAX and, "Soul," on Disney+. I think we will watch both!
HBO MAX is kicking off how 2021 will have all their WB flicks available for streaming with the new Wonder Woman because it was delayed so much they said, "Screw it," and figured it would help get subscriptions of the service. "Soul," is the newest Pixar film and Disney probably saw how badly things went charging extra for, "Mulan," in their service so it'll be, "Free," as a part of subscriptions. It features Jaime Foxx as the lead and I am a big fan of his, so that is one major reason I'm excited to watch it. 2020 has been awful, but I guess one minor positive of this year with its COVID-19 and countless other problems is more cool stuff going to streaming services so they're easy to watch at home (versus having to go out). Anyway, I plan to watch one or both of these flicks with my family on Christmas day for sure!
Sunday, December 20, 2020
The Marvel comic's villain known as M.O.D.O.K. usually has a tough time. He was a regular guy who was experimented on by the evil agency he worked for--Advanced Idea Mechanics or A.I.M. It turned him into a super-genius known as the Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing. It also basically made him a huge head with little useless limbs that everyone in the Marvel Universe seems to enjoy mocking due to his wonky appearance. He's super-smart, very violent, and nobody takes him seriously. Some of that is his own fault as he basically just wants to be evil and kill everyone (it is in his name, after all). Well, the first issue of the mini-series, "M.O.D.O.K: Head Games," does a solid job turning a laughingstock into someone weirdly relatable.
As the issue opens, M.O.D.O.K. currently is one of the heads of a newly-revitalized A.I.M. He's on the board of the organization and they're doing a good job making money and doing evil-science stuff. Still, everyone makes fun of him and otherwise likes to diminish his efforts. Then, he starts seeing weird images of a happy life with kids and a wife. He thinks he's going crazy and some of his fellow A.I.M. leaders are aware of these kinda-sorta hallucinations so he ends up fighting his own organization that doesn't even respect them and then at the issue's end has to seek out help from a Marvel hero he'd normally be trying to murder.
Having a M.O.D.O.K. that gets little respect despite his efforts and had actual hopes of a happy existence beyond killing everyone makes him a bit more interesting beyond his usual cartoonish villainy. The comic is written by Jordan Blum and Patton Oswalt--the latter is also going to be voicing M.O.D.O.K. and both are co-writing the upcoming Hulu show with the character. If these showrunners for the cartoon featuring M.O.D.O.K. can give us such an enjoyable comic, then I bet the Hulu program will be great. Scott Hepburn's artwork is fantastic too, making M.O.D.O.K. look out-of-place in his odd appearance but never like an outright caricature. I loved reading this first issue of, "Head Games," and can't wait for answers to the mystery of just what it is M.O.D.O.K. is seeing and if he'll pursue a joyous life or try to focus on the killing-aspect of his name.
5 out of 5 stars.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
The word, "Reboot," is apparently a dirty one this time, so DC announced today with The Hollywood Reporter they have a big, "Refresh," coming to their books. After, "Death Metal," finally wraps-up we get a two-month event in the form of, "Future State," which is honestly kind of filler but looks really fun nonetheless. After that, we kick off a new era in the form of the, "Infinite Frontier." There will be a variety of relaunched comics that are now solicited as a part of this and some look pretty cool (no Aquaman solo book, which is sad as he is a good character when written well). Is this a good jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers? A great time to quit DC? Just a soft relaunch that will boost sales a bit but then settle into a sense of normalcy? There is no way to know, but I am sure that I'd read the Hell out of a, "Swamp Thing," comic by Ram V, so there's one comic I'm excited for.
Friday, December 18, 2020
When it comes to the best, "James Bond," theme song the winner is unquestionably, "Diamonds Are Forever." This occurred to me while listening to a cassette tape collecting orchestral interpretations of various James Bond themes (at that time). I thought about past ones and current ones and how I've always loved any version of, "Diamonds Are Forever," from an orchestral take to Chaka Khan singing with her amazing voice. It is just a banger of a tune.
Now, it isn't the best, "James Bond," movie because that is a tie between, "Goldfinger," and the Daniel Craig version of "Casino Royale." "Diamonds Are Forever," is without a doubt the best theme song in a James Bond movie, however. "From Russia With Love," is close a second. Fight me, internet, I won't budge on this.
|The piece has a great header image too.|
This piece by David Harper at Polygon observes how comic-books faced the struggles of 2020 and actually made the best of a really bad year. Things looked bad when the comic industry as we know it shut down for about 2 months, with the then-sole distributor, Diamond, taking a break of sorts that upset a whole lot of people--especially DC who now has their own distributor they basically willed into existence (there were two, but that ended oddly). However, the comic industry was able to weather the storm and the industry seems to be doing pretty well in a tough year. The speculation-market has gone wild with optioned series selling for absurdly high prices that days before movie/television announcements were in dollar bins. Stores are reporting solid sales, and things are as stable as can be expected in these unprecedented times.
Things seem okay, even with there being ongoing questions of what the Hell is going on with DC after all their mass-firings. Yeah, DC being a stinker was kind of a theme this year. Oh, and with Free Comic Book Day being kinda-sorta cancelled this year for a Summer-long thing, it is nice to hear that the next one will be happening in 2021, just in August when things are hopefully more settled thanks to extensive vaccinations. A return to normalcy around the World will be welcome, but I'm proud of the comic-book industry for all it did to get through this mess.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Let's get one thing out of the way: I don't really like Tom Cruise. He's a decent enough actor when he's given roles that let him lean-in to the idea he's a smarmy jerk (Edge of Tomorrow) or when he's put under enough prosthetics and makeup (and acts really over the top) so that you don't realize it's him (Tropic Thunder). That said, he's a member of a, "Religion," called Scientology that seems designed to scam its members out of money even faster than most other religions and which--lest we forget--tried to infiltrate the United States Government in the 1970s. He also is just an apparently unpleasant person, full of himself, and so forth. That's why I find myself extremely surprised to at this moment agree with Tom Cruise about something and disagreeing with those who think he was too harsh or overreacted in a situation.
Basically, Tom Cruise saw members of the crew for his movie, "Mission Impossible 7," not following COVID-19 protocol and tore into them. He told them it was dangerous, put everyone's jobs at stake, and if it happened again they were fired. Some people think Cruise was too harsh, but I think he reacted the correct way--he made it clear to those not being safe how much of a jackass they were. With millions of cases Worldwide and a death toll that just keeps climbing, the time for niceties with COVID-19 is long past. Politely asking people to wear a mask and social distance did little as they refused and spouted conspiracy theories or political opinions about doing the bare minimum to keep themselves and others safe. Everything Cruise said about unsafe behavior putting health and livelihoods at risk was 100% true. I'm as surprised as anyone I'm saying, "Tom Cruise was right...in this one situation," but I am.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Near the Year's End
It's the last month of this rotten year. Let's see it out with some quality news content, shall we?
My Present to You--Links!
Joe Biden has been our President-elect for a while now, despite protests otherwise. On Monday, the Electoral College made it official and hopefully Trump can just go away now.
Getting banned for life from a show like, "Saturday Night Live," is quite a feat and only some have pulled it off. The punk band, "Fear," was able to do so, however, with quite the set when they guested at the recommendation of John Belushi. Oh, and in another SNL-related bit of news, former castmember Jay Pharaoh spoke with Conan O'Brien and it was really fun.
In an effort to avoid criticism for questionable content (like anything illegal), Pornhub has purged a ton of its content, only allowed, "Verified," users to post anything. This link about the purge goes to the AV Club and is safe-for-work, just in case you were worried about clicking.
"Cyberpunk 2077," has had an extremely rocky launch, with the bugs on the PS4 and Xbox One being atrocious in many people's opinions. I've played it for the PS4 and have had fun, but yes, it is really glitchy and has issues. The game's developer, CD Projekt Red, has been doing their best to perform damage control. They're struggling, badly--it is really awful. They made serious bank though, so in the end they can be happy, I guess?
Speaking of the controversy game companies face, the last generation of games clearly illustrated that no company is perfect/without flaws or controversies.
I was very intrigued by this article studying the career of Christopher Priest before his seminal run on, "Black Panther." It is a good read.
Have a Happy Holiday Season
I hope Hanukkah has been good for everyone and that you all have a great Christmas along with any other holidays my readers may be celebrating!
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
A year ago today we lost our pregnancy. I shared about the experience some days later in my post, "Things You Can Never Prepare For." In some ways, it feels like yesterday, in others I can't believe it has only been a year. A lot has happened since a year ago, most of it bad. We've lost multiple loved ones, a pandemic in the form of COVID-19 wreaks havoc on our planet (and especially America), and basically, the end of 2019 into all of 2020 was a big old bust for our family. It's been hard, in other words. That said, there are things I'm thankful for.
I love my wife and child, I love my side of the family, and appreciate the care and support they gave us during these tough times. I value Samii's relatives who are still with us and wonderful people. I am thankful for our friends. I am so pleased that Clarkson is doing well with preschool--whether it be sometimes virtual and sometimes in-person with heavy safety measures. We had an awful year, possibly the worst year ever, but it showed how loved we are too. I can only hope that 2021 is better.
I want to be optimistic for the next year. After hitting a rock bottom of sorts this year I feel things can only improve. We have a new President (Joe Biden) about to take power from the worst one ever (Trump was terrible), a vaccine for COVID-19 is on the way, my son continues to love school, there are good things happening or about to happen. I have some hope because without that there is only abject despair, and I'm tired of feeling that so much in 2020. One year ago today was so, so hard, and things just got worse from there. I truly believe that with this arrival at, "A year later," things will change for the better. It may be a bit of blind optimism, but I want to be optimistic after so much despair.
I'm hoping a year from today I can look back and remark what a good year it was. All I can do at this point is to believe in some positivity and continue to carry my love for my child I couldn't have in my heart along with everyone else we lost this year plus all those I adore who are alive. Let's make 2021 a year of joy and light, or at least try our hardest to make it that way.
Monday, December 14, 2020
"Atlantis Attacks," #5 Doesn't Actually Tie-In to, "King in Black," Despite Marvel's Claims Otherwise
Remember back in September when I noticed how the delayed mini-series, "Atlantis Attacks," was going to have a surprise crossover with the then-upcoming, "King in Black," event? It got me thinking about surprise crossovers, but it should've had me considering crossovers that aren't really much of a crossover. That is because while the fifth issue of, "Atlantis Attacks," is a good read, it really isn't a tie-in with King in Black. It literally is not until the last page the event is mentioned, and then there is a little blurb saying to read the actual crossover of, "Namor: King in Black," which kinda-sorta follows-up from this mini-series.
I get that maybe Marvel wanted some more sales of, "Atlantis Attacks," and hoped that by making the final issue tie-in with this, "King in Black," event it would get people who are really big on Knull (like Marvel), to pick up the comic even if they hadn't read other issues. I think it was a tacky ploy that somewhat diminishes the ability of, "Atlantis Attacks," to stand alone as a quality mini-series without suddenly inserting--as I said--a single page, to ostensibly make this a tie-in. The whole thing reeks of cynicism, which stinks as I already said, "Atlantis Attacks," was a fun comic. Hopefully, "Namor: King in Black," will be good along with its actually tying in with, "King in Black."
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Something I find interesting is when a song has a guest singer or rapper and they actually upstage the main person. Whether it is a remix by that guest that is better than the original or a so-so song that suddenly features a bombastic verse, I sometimes take note of this and wanted to share some times I've noticed it.
"Savage Remix," from, "Good News."
Megan Thee Stallion's song, "Savage," was perfectly catchy and fun. Then they threw Beyonce on the track for the remix and she obliterated it (in a good way). I'm not even a huge fan of Queen B, but man if she doesn't rap and sing some killer bars.
"Interlude," from, "Tha Carter IV."
On Lil Wayne's album, "Tha Carther IV," he has tracks labeled that feature guest verses from assorted rappers. One, "Interlude," is simply labeled as having Tech N9ne appearing, and if you listen to it he indeed raps...but then suddenly another voice comes on the track that isn't indicated anywhere in the liner notes or anything on the physical copy of the CD I had purchased (yes, I bought the CD). That voice is Andre 3000, the greatest living mostly-retired rapper and he drops a verse that makes an already great album (the last one by Lil' Wayne I really dug) even better. It was a total surprise to hear Andre 3000 suddenly appear considering this was after OutKast's last album and well into his departure from rapping usually. I'm just glad Wayne convinced him to drop by.
"Nuthin But a G Thang," from, "The Chronic."
Dr. Dre's solo album, "The Chronic," has so much Snoop Dogg on it that some argue it should be considered Dogg's debut LP even moreso than, "Doggystyle." Wherever you fall on that debate, Dr. Dre has admittedly always been a better producer than rapper, with the sound of, "Nuthin But a G Thang," being amazing with its 90's West Coast vibe that Snoop lays his now-signature laid-back drawl over. Dre maybe wasn't the best rapper, but he found some of the best talents ever to make tracks for.
"B.S." from "Stargazing."
I'm not a big fan of Jhené Aiko, many of her songs seem to lack particularly deep lyrics, he singing strikes me as a bit monotone, and so forth. That said, her song, "B.S." has a really catchy melody and she does a decent job on it...only to get totally overshadowed by a guest-verse from the incredibly talented artist H.E.R. I feel a little bad for Aiko as this is a rare song she's pretty good on, but then she just gets blown out of the water by H.E.R. What can ya do?
Kendrick Lamar on any track
I said Andre 3000 was the greatest living rapper alive who is mostly retired up above and that is because Kendrick Lamar is the greatest living rapper alive who is quite active in making songs. Whether it is his own amazing albums or a number of guest appearances where despite being the featured artist he simply makes a track all his own, Kendrick Lamar is an unstoppable burst of creative energy who you're lucky to have on your song because it's gonna be amazing, but you do have to come to terms with the fact he'll outshine anything you contribute.
I'm sure there are plenty of other occasions I didn't think to mention, so please comment if you have one in mind.
Friday, December 11, 2020
Yesterday Disney had presentations for, "Investor Day." That sounds incredibly unassuming, but it was the most jam-packed investor call you'd probably ever have heard. There's going to be new stuff featuring the Xenomorphs of, "Alien," more was revealed about a ton of Marvel shows along with lots of new Marvel content, a chunk of, "Star Wars," shows--it was pretty crazy. In regards to Marvel, we'll be getting the character of America Chavez/Miss America soon, they're working on Disney+ shows and movies with Riri Williams/Ironheart, there will be a, "Secret Invasion," show with Samuel L. Jackson's Nicky Fury starring, and a, "Fantastic Four," movie is in the works. Plenty of people's roles in upcoming stuff was confirmed (Christian Bale will play Gorr the God-Butcher in the new, "Thor," movie, for example), and things nobody even was expecting were made apparent (an, "Armor Wars," show with Don Cheadles' War Machine). Heck, even, "Y: The Last Man," which has been in development hell for years was discussed as coming along for FX/Hulu.
Seriously, Disney announced so much it was mind-boggling. Now, a lot of this is in early development so we won't see all of this stuff for a number of years, easily. That said, a ton is clearly in the works. Their investments in Marvel, Star Wars, and Fox's IPs are not going to hang about unused anytime soon.
Thursday, December 10, 2020
The winner of the first random drawing did not contact me within 48 hours (with less than an hour left to email me). Therefore, I have just now run the random drawing again (with the first winner not in it this time) and the winner now is Josh Muskat/Djrat! Here is the video on Youtube of me doing the drawing. You have 48 hours to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and claim your prize!
In news that made me exclaim, "Aw, shit," when I saw it, Richard Corben has passed. His widow, Dona Corben, was assisted in making a Facebook post where this was said:
It is with great sorrow and loss that I must share the sad news that Richard Corben died Dec 2, 2020 following heart surgery. He will be missed tremendously by his family, his friends, and his fans.
Richard was very appreciative of the love for his art that was shown by you, his fans. Your support over the decades meant a great deal to him. He tried to repay your support by working diligently on each piece of art going out to you. Although Richard has left us, his work will live on and his memory will live always in our hearts.
I will continue to conduct sales of Richard's art through the Corben Studios website at corbencomicart.com.
I will also be managing the ongoing process of publishing his work internationally. Please give me and my family a little time to collect ourselves and we'll get back with you in 2021.
Richard Corben was an amazing comic artist, whether he was doing more mainstream super-hero work, edgy underground creations, or just giving us incredibly horrific images. I was always a fan of Corben's work and am incredibly bummed he is no longer with us. He leaves behind an impressive legacy and many, many fans who will miss him.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Ah, "Cyberpunk 2077." It has been in development for eight years. I've been cautiously optimistic throughout this process, although in this last year there have been scandals due to questionable jokes about gender and race, plus even though it was promised employees wouldn't have to, "Crunch," to get the game done, after numerous delays, there was indeed crunching going on. Messaging faux pas and questions of how well the development team itself was treated linger, but people are hyped for CD Projekt Red's latest release. Is it the best game ever, as the hype-train seems to insist despite all these people amped-up for it never having played the dang thing? Well, apparently it is pretty good, but not exactly revolutionary.
The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Keanu Reeves is welcome as an over-the-top digital memory of sorts who gets inserted into your brain and despite trying his hardest to be unlikeable comes across as a generally swell dude (thanks to being played by Keanu Reeves, a man impossible to hate). Besides that, there are observations the game sometimes seems to be drowning in cynicism, is packed with things to do but feels a little sterile, and as Kotaku's Riley MacLeod sums it up in the headline, "Brings mixed feelings." Even those fawning over this new release admit bugs are an issue and the many various systems & stats for gameplay can get confusing. I hope to give it a try sometime in the near future and offer my own opinions! It is officially on sale tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
As can be seen above, the winner of my giveaway for a CGC 9.6 copy of, "Spider-Man Unlimited," #1 is Mike Bernardo. I did the drawing this early afternoon after the 11AM deadline to enter with a comment. The video of me doing the drawing can be seen here. I entered all the names in the order they commented and then ran the randomizer. Mie Bernado has 48 hours from now to email me at email@example.com and claim his prize! Thanks again to Comics Heating Up for helping me to promote this giveaway too.
Monday, December 7, 2020
Here we are yet again with more music I've listened to and want to share my thoughts on. The unifying factor to all these assorted LP and EPs is how they can be found on Bandcamp, a snazzy website and app for supporting music artists directly as opposed to other services that give them pennies on the dollar. Let's review some music!
Mousy Kissed--Mousy Kissed EP
Some catchy lo-fi bedroom pop, anyone? If that sounds appealing, Mousy Kissed's self-titled EP will be right up your alley. Energetic and full of enthusiasm, I had a great time listening and as I bought the cassette it came with some extra covers of Blink-182 on the B-side that I absolutely adored. You can buy a digital copy or the tape with the bonus tracks here.
5 out of 5 stars.
Sound and Voice--Cleansing River
This EP by Sound and Voice has fantastic deep and bluesy folk that washes over the listener and covers you in a beautiful aural sensation. The second of the three tracks, "After Afternoon," was my favorite, but the other two songs are superb as well! The instrumentation works phenomenally and is deeply soulful. This EP may be short, but it is stellar. Check it out here.
5 out 5 stars.
Singer Avery Lee gives us some good lyrics and great singing on this EP of garage rock that never gets too abrasive or too gentle. That said, my favorite tune, "Love Song," does hint at some sentimentality, but still carries an edge that the entire EP proudly sports. Good punk worth giving a listen to, which you can do at this link.
4 out of 5 stars.
Cannon brings us the soundtrack to an 80's horror movie that doesn't actually exist. You read that right. This is a concept album of sorts, bringing us cuts from moments in a movie that we can only try and imagine. The titles hint at a cult, a hot city, the theme for someone named Kate. Otherwise, it is a mystery, a nice synth-heavy mystery that reminds me of John Carpenter's scores for flicks such as, "Halloween." I say that as the highest compliment. Cannon's faux-soundtrack is tonally perfect and catchy all its own with the slicks tracks, even without the clever concept. Highly recommended. Try it out here.
5 out of 5 stars.
Grog Organ--Fur Clemt
A lovely LP of experimental folk music, the title is a local dialect that mans, "Very hungry," according to Grog Organ, and over his album, he brings us just plain lovely alternative-styled folk. Stellar guitar playing, thoughtful singing, and some unique instruments all put in an appearance, working wonderfully. "Fur Clemt," is the kind of album you put on while looking out at the forest on a nice and crisp Autumn day, observing as the leaves fall as if floating along to the music. Listen at this link.
5 out of 5 stars.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
There is a local business run by Ashely Pennington called Soap-Sational Kids, and I love her creations! She is like a mad scientist (in a good way) with her amazing creations. Also, even though the name has, "Kids," in the title, the soaps are stellar for every age. All the soap Ashely makes is detergent-free and features Non-GMO & Sustainable Coconut Oil, Non-GMO & Sustainable Palm. She has over 70 scents to choose from and always accept custom orders. She does everything from your thicker goats milk soap bars to soapy gummy worms:
She also can make fun designs like this pig in a bubble bath:
Or a rubber ducky:
Plus, everyone love dinosaurs:
Basically, if you can think it up, Ashely can probably make it a soap! We bought some from her recently to give as presents (and use ourselves). We plan to buy more in the future as well! I wanted to spotlight Soap-Sational Kids as I've always been a fan of specialty soaps and Ashely's are awesome for sure. Check out her Facebook page and get in touch if you have an order you'd like created and shipped to you!