Saturday, January 30, 2021

"Saturday Night Live," Returns Today

The last episode of, "Saturday Night Live," was on December 19th of 2020. A lot has happened since then from domestic terrorists rioting at the Capitol to Biden being sworn-in as President--with Harris as Vice-President--and them bringing some actual leadership back to the office of the POTUS after Donald Trump's flaming wreck of a Presidency. John Krasinski is hosting after his planned hosting gig for March 2020 fell apart due to COVID-19 and Machine Gun Kelly is going to be the musical guest (I am clearly getting old as I have no idea who that is). I am curious what the show will hold tonight and continue to be a big fan of SNL through all its great seasons and shoddier ones.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Flashback Friday: "Grayson," #3 is a Comic That Has Stuck With me For Years

You ever read a comic that weirdly sticks with you? That's me and, "Grayson," #3. Back in 2014 Dick Grayson/Nightwing faked his death and went undercover at Batman's behest to infiltrate an evil spy organization known as, "Spyral." He had to pretend he was a bad guy in an effort to take down this group that threatened the safety of the World. The series was written by Tim Seely and a then-new-to-comics Tom King. 

King now is quite popular doing his own solo writing and Seely continues to make great stuff too, so those two working together on this series in retrospect now that Seely is still great and King is even more known this book was already a slam-dunk of quality. Issue #3 has Mikel Janin on art and they do a stellar job too, with a lot of credit for what would have been an absurd premise but coming-off touching working thanks to their illustrative work. What exactly made this comic stay in my mind, however? At its heart, it is about a parent's love for their child. And cybernetic eyes. Stay with me here.

Years ago a man named Christophe Tanner was shot in the face at his children's school but survived. He underwent surgery that connected his ocular nerve to two pistols. It has made him one the best assassins around as he literally can, "See," through his guns. He steals two superpowered eyes from someone he killed and is apparently planning to get them put into his head--according to Grayson's spy agency. They want those eyes and to stop Tanner (who also goes by, "The Old Gun,") from possibly becoming even more powerful with two sets of eyes that he can see out of his head and guns with. It sounds absurd, and it kind of is, with the comic playing-up how silly a man who sees through his guns sounding. Then the book takes a swerve into some depressingly touching territory.

Grayson figures out that while it was thought Tanner's children were dead, they aren't. They are living with foster parents and miss their Dad who went missing after the day after he got shot and then had the operation to become a super-assassin. He wants to, "See," his kids again, and not through guns, the things he uses to kill so many people. He wants to be able to see them with real eyes. Grayson confronts Tanner on a rooftop near the school and Tanner admits he recently discovered the eyes won't even work with his new enhancements, making them useless anyway. Then Grayson's partner shoots Tanner and kills him even though things seemed like they could have a nonviolent resolution. Before he dies, Tanner shoots her back and they both lay on the ground outside the school, alarming everyone. A silly villain who sees through his guns is turned into something really tragic.

This issue struck me the first time I read the comic in 2014 and I felt it even more after I had my own child. Imagine if the only way to, "See," someone you love more than the World itself was through a method of destruction? That would be terrifying and cause you to be disgusted with yourself. I couldn't imagine not being able to be in my child's life whether it is for a realistic reason or something far-fetched like gun-eyes. By taking an absurd idea and introducing an all too human aspect to it, the third issue of, "Grayson," left an imprint on me. The rest of the series was solid as well, but that third issue, it just weirdly hit me hard and then had even more impact once I had Clarkson. It's one of my favorite single issues of a comic ever, frankly. It's just that good.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

"The Electric Black," is Becoming a Horror Cartoon on Adult Swim


I used to watch Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block all the time. I would watch basically every weird show, the good and the bad. I watch some of the shows still, but not always all of them. I am intrigued to hear that, "The Electric Black," from SCOUT Comics is going to become a show on Adult Swim in partnership with another IP developer, Starburns Industries. I've read some issues of, "The Electric Black," and its mini-series and have liked what I've seen. It is a horror anthology comic so different episodes could have a different tale. A bit like, "Tales From the Crypt," in its live-action and cartoon incarnations. 

The press release gives the general overview the show may have, focusing on the cursed antique shop known as, "The Electric Black," and how different items from the store will impact partons of the shop--e.g. different items will lead to different episodes, I gather. This should be pretty fun once it comes out and I'll tune-in for sure as someone who has enjoyed a lot of Adult Swim over the years and is a fan of horror-themed entertainment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

GameStop's Stock Has Gone Insane Because People Want to Have a Laugh

Remember GameStop? The video-game store where if you didn't preorder a hot new game they most likely didn't have a copy for sale even though the Target down the street had tons of copies, because that store realized people want to sometimes just buy games instead of putting down $5-$10 as if it were a car? Yeah, GameStop, which takes your trade-in games and gives you a tiny amount of store credit to spend on all the random pop-culture junk they started carrying after just doing games stopped bringing in much money? Well, their stock was trending at under $5 some months ago and now in the span of some days is at *checks notes* $300 or so. Why? Because people made buying stocks a meme, basically.

This article from Kotaku helps to break-down what is going on pretty well. To attempt to summarize, people started buying GameStop stock thinking it was undervalued. Companies that try to, "Short," stocks invested hoping the stock would drop. People on Reddit saw this and wanted to screw-over Hedge funds for a laugh and with the help of apps that let everyday people buy stocks, like Robinhood, folk kept buying GameStop shares and pissed Wall Street off because this was market manipulation that didn't benefit Wall Street--when the hedge funds can manipulate the market to get a profit (just remember those who bet on a housing collapse in the 2000s) they don't get mad though. Buying GameStop shares to screw-over investors with deep pockets who like shorting stocks is the new fun meme that people are, "Doing for the lulz." If anything proves the Stock Market is basically a shell game that doesn't actually represent the health of the economy, this is it. A bunch of people teamed-up to screw with a single stock for fun and it has caused mayhem.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

I Really Wish the Song, "Whoopty," was Literally About Blue Cheese

There is a new song by the music artist CJ. It is titled, "Whoopty," and is pretty catchy. It has a weird little melody with a chanting lady, a solid beat, and the lyrics are your usual bragging-while-rapping, but he does it with a solid enthusiasm and good speed of lyric-spitting. The thing I really liked about the song, however, was when he repeatedly said he was, "Addicted to blue cheese." I thought he was maybe being literal and I pictured how a music video could have him sitting at a dinner table surrounded by copious amounts of blue cheese he excitedly eats. It would just be so random. This isn't the case, sadly.

In an interview, CJ clarified he was referring to the new 100 dollar bills with, "Cheese," being like the slang of cheddar representing money. "When I say ‘blue cheese’, when you look at the new one-hundred-dollar bill, you can see a blue strip in the middle," he explained. CJ is not actually eating a ton of blue cheese due to an affinity for that unique kind of dairy product, he just is a big fan of the new printing style for Benjamins. It is still a fun little lyric, but as I said, deep down I was hoping CJ just absolutely loved blue cheese and was spending all his money from rapping on it. There are weirder things to blow your money on after all (like Bitcoin). I haven't misunderstood a rap lyric this badly since that time DRAM sang about how much he adored, "Broccoli."

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Latest, "Heroes Reborn," Sounds Quirky

Back in the 1990s, there was this event of sorts where many of Marvel's major characters seemed to die fighting a villain named Onslaught. They didn't die, however, they warped to World created by Franklin Richards of the Fantastic Four (because he was secretly super-powerful). The mainstream Marvel Universe dealt with thinking the Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc. were dead and they got their own comics. The Earth was revisited sometimes and one character from that alternate place--Rikki Barnes--has been living in the regular Marvel Earth for some time. There is going to be a new, "Heroes Reborn," event and absolutely none of what I told you matters because this is a whole new thing. Yeah, comics.

Starting in May, the current, "Avengers," comic by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness will take us to an alternate reality where the Avengers were never formed. Instead, the Squadron Supreme are Earth's greatest heroes and Phil Coulson leads them. Thor never got his hammer, Peter Parker is simply a reporter, Doctor Doom became the Juggernaut (somehow), Captain America stayed frozen in ice, and the only Blade of all people remembers that this is a wonky timeline. This isn't a massive event, it seems, just a fun arc in the current, "Avengers," comic. As someone who likes the Squadron Supreme in its various iterations (basically Marvel riffing on the Justice League) and who thinks Blade is cool, I think this may be interesting. 

I really appreciate this is just a story arc (for now) and not some massive event with a ton of tie-in comics. I'm well-known as being a fan of alternate-universe/what-if tales between this having some cool characters involved and featuring a messed-up timeline I'm gonna check it out. I just don't get why Marvel went with the name they did considering this is nothing like the original, "Heroes Reborn."

Sunday, January 24, 2021

"Home," Sounds Like a Clever Comic

Superman is an illegal alien in America. The comics have commented on this now and then, pointing out how the fact he's lily-white and handsome probably helps to make him seem less like an, "Other," to many Americans. Still, what if someone who wasn't, "Wanted," happened to try and gain asylum in America and then manifested powers? It would make for a clever mix of politics and superpowers we will be getting in, "Home." 

Written by Julio Anta (who is himself the child of immigrants to America) with art by Anna Wieszczyk, "Home," is about, "...a young boy who is torn away from his mother while seeking asylum at the U.S. border, just as something begins to change in him. He doesn't know it yet, but it's the onset of superhuman abilities that will change his life forever. The press release for the comic continues, "It's not often that a comic is so direct about asylum seekers at the US-Mexican border these days." I could picture this being a pretty fascinating read, and I'll be checking out this five-issue mini-series when it launches in April with great eagerness.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Rant-Reviews: All Stuff I Liked

It's All Good

Sometimes I have reviews focused on a specific theme. I guess the best kind of one I would have today is that I liked all of the books I'm about to share reviews of. That's kind of a spoiler, but perhaps you should still read on to see how much I liked the assorted comics.

The Comics I Enjoyed

Iron Man #5

Christopher Cantwell's writing and Cafu's artwork have been knocking it out of the park on this series. It's got humor (Tony Stark recruits some oft-ignored heroes to help him with a secretive rescue job), has the criminally underused Pasty Walker AKA Hellcat in a major role, and it keeps me guessing where it is going next as Iron Man faces off against a now-android Korvac who wants to regain God-like power as he had in the past. Tony Stark solo titles sometimes struggle with him coming off as an arrogant jerk (it took an actor like Robert Downey Jr. to soften the edges for film without a doubt), but Cantwell has balanced the snark with the humanity quite well. Cafu's artwork works fantastically for this title as well as he gives everything a nice professional sheen--perfect for a man with a robotic suit of armor. It's just a great series so far!

5 out of 5 stars.

Generations: Shattered #1

DC's heroes from all kinds of timestreams come together to fight a mysterious threat that is eating-up all the Universes. No, it's not another, "Crisis," event, which one character even acknowledges, it is this, "Generations," mini-series that seems like it should be a mess but actually kind of works. Artists change every few pages, but it's okay because we're jumping to various timestreams and Universes--making sudden change less jarring. Seeing a Batman from 1939 interacting with a Steel from the 90's and characters from the future has a nice quirky charm and the comic takes these messy ideas and a smorgasbord of artists to combine them into something weirdly effective. Worth a read.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Scout's Honor #1

The apocalypse happened and one big group of the last survivors have lasted so long...following a, "Ranger Scouts," manual that seems like a Boy Scouts-styled guidebook. It sounds darkly hilarious, but this comic by David Pepose and Luca Casalanguida plays everything straight. That choice works well as the comic manages to introduce some clever commentary on gender roles as well as giving us a last-page twist that reframes where the rest of the series will be going in a crafty manner. An impressive debut issue.

4 out of 5 stars.

Penultiman #4
I absolutely adored the first issue of, "Penutliman," and founds its interpretation of a self-hating superhero to be both hilarious and thoughtful. The artwork by Alan Robinson continues to amaze with his nice clean and clear lines working perfectly for this Superpowered man who feels the opposite of super and Tom Peyer's writing avoids coming off too depressing or as if he's making fun of the inner turmoil Penultiman feels. I can't wait for the upcoming final issue that seems to be exploring how Penultiman's biggest threat may end up being his closest ally.

5 out of 5 stars.

Soulstream #1

Saida Woolf writes, draws, colors, and basically does it all for this first issue of, "Soulstream." It won't be getting a second issue, exactly, because it is part of publisher Scout's, "Nonstop," plan where they release a first issue of a comic, and then after people get a taste they put out a full graphic novel of the story. It's a clever idea Scout's been doing and considering how fun this teaser of sorts for, "Soulstream," was I imagine many folk will want to get the TPB! "Soulstream," follows a sibling duo as one gets powered-up with some magic and they need to defend multiple realms from some shadowy forces. The plot is a bit straightforward sounding, but the humorous writing and charming artwork of Woolf elevate what you'd expect to be a standard story into something quite lovely. I'd recommend giving this first issue a look or simply picking-up the trade paperback when it comes out!

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 22, 2021

January 2021 Links, News, and Goodness

The Debut of the Year

We are pretty far into the first month of 2021. Things are maybe just barely better than in 2020, so I'll take it. We have a new President, vaccine doses for COVID-19 are rolling out, and I've got interesting news and links to share!

Stuff to Read

I may do a more in-depth write-up as the season proceeds, but for now, I'll say the AV Club has been doing a great job summing up episodes that they review. Our bachelor, Matt, isn't too over-the-top or full of drama himself (which is fine). This has resulted in the show relying heavily on the more toxic more women stirring up trouble and staying around longer than they maybe should have (Victoria should've been gone ASAP). The overall vibe of the season has been pretty chill and fun, however.

It is not surprising that Biden's administration is apparently inheriting absolutely no COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan from Trump's administration. That man ran the Presidency like his businesses--into the ground.

I really want to read the book about forgotten Black comic artists from the comic-book Golden age, "Invisible Men." There are so many ignored contributions from decades past by amazing creative forces.

When I was a young'un I loved watching, "Godzilla," movies and also enjoyed, "King Kong," flicks. The recent film versions of the characters have been pretty entertaining and I'll admit the kid within me is eager to see the, "Godzilla vs. Kong," movie that will be in theaters and on HBO MAX in March.

Ta-Nehisi Coates began his current run on, "Captain America," with a plotline featuring domestic terrorists attacking the Nation's capital. It seemed like a far-fetched idea when the run started more than a year ago, but now here we are, because this article points out, "This is Who We Are."

As someone who loves anthropology, I was fascinated by this piece discussing Jewish Americans and their relationship with Crisco, of all things.

Wishing for a Great 2021

I hope everyone has had a decent 2021 so far and that it only gets better!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Endpaper Entertainment is the Newest Comic Publisher to Emerge on the Scene

The last couple of years have seen a number of promising new publishers emerge on the scene. You've got AWA, Bad Idea, and others I'm sure I am forgetting. Now, a bunch of comic industry pros have gotten together and formed Endpaper Entertainment. They have plans to "...develop content and properties for multiple media platforms and genres, including film, TV, comics, prose, audio, gaming, and merchandise. Genres are similarly wide, from mystery to SF to YA." A new publisher isn't always that notable, but one member of the executive team caught my eye for a very specific reason that makes me think Endpaper could have some legs. That name? James Killen

There was a point where James Killen was arguably one of the more powerful people in the comic-book publishing market because he was Barnes & Noble’s buyer for science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, and games. If your comic publisher was hoping to get the trade paperback of your comic into the last big bookstore chain, Killen was who you talked to. Now, he was laid-off from the position when Barnes and Noble did a business restructuring a year or so ago, but here is now, with a ton of connections and industry knowledge about how to get a comic-book paperback or hardcover into major bookstores. 

Killen maybe doesn't have too much insider knowledge for floppies, but any collections or original graphic novels are sure to benefit from the multitude of people he knows from years of experience. There are other execs and veterans here, but seeing Killen's name makes me think Endpaper Entertainment could grow into a force to be reckoned with. You never know.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Can We Take a Breath Now?

Joseph R. Biden is now our 46th President. Donald Trump was the worst President ever, by far. Our country was a mess due to Trump and then a pandemic came and made everything even worse. Now Biden is our President and Kamala Harris is our VP. The inauguration was today and America has survived the last 4 years. It wasn't easy between the pandemic, the domestic terrorists invading the capital, and thing after thing Trump and his cronies did, but we made it through. Things won't get completely better overnight, but with 99.9% confidence, I will say they won't keep getting worse. I just want to know, are things going to finally be a little less crazy? Can we take a breath now? I'd really like that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Television Tuesday: Call Me Kat

This show has been absolutely ravaged by critics. I can see why as it is kind of corny, dated, and the way Mayim Bialik breaks the 4th wall constantly to talk to us--the audience--is a little jarring. That said, I moderately enjoyed the first three episodes my wife and I watched. Now, yes, the first episode/pilot is pretty bleak. However, I have often said you can't judge a show by its pilot, and that holds true here. 

Mayim Bialik plays a woman named Kat who is 39 (the show often brings-up her age), single, and spent her savings to open a cat cafe stocked with wacky employees (Leslie Jordan is always a funny fellow). An old college crush has moved back into town and works at a bar across the street from her cafe, her mother is an overbearing mess, and all of this combines to create kinda-funny-but-really-formulaic shenanigans. I didn't hate it.

Bialik is a skilled actress whether she's playing things more deadpan or doing slapstick and the entire supporting cast is really trying their hardest too. There is the occasional joke with a nice bit of edge to keep viewers from getting too complacent and if you like cats there are in full supply too--Bialik's character owns a cat cafe, after all. It's inoffensive fun and there are worse ways to pass a half-hour.

"Call Me Kat," seems like the kind of show that either is going to last one season and quickly be forgotten or inexplicably develop a dedicated following and go on for years upon years. Whether it will totally bomb or manage to survive for a while depends on if enough viewers like Bialik's and/or cats enough to give this a chance and stick with it. Without Bialik I'm not sure the show would even have the slightest chance, but she brings the chops that make this watchable. I didn't love it, but as I said, I didn't hate it.

3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 18, 2021

MLK Day 2021. A Tumultuous Time

In some ways, the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. seems more distant than ever these days. There is so much racism, hatred, anger, and towards the end of his life, he also was a big proponent of fair wages and medical care for all--something that also remains weirdly controversial as many protest creating a liveable minimum wage. Marting Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929. The National Holiday in his honor always falls upon the third Monday of January every year. 

In the year 2021, within America, things are a mess politically, socially, spiritually--you name it, things are bad. That does not mean we should stop believing in a beautiful future of unity and love, it simply is more and more apparent we will have to work for it with all our might.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

We've Been Enjoying EveryPlate

We've tried meal kits at various points. Hello Fresh wasn't bad, but the meals could be a little elaborate with a great deal of prepping and such. Plus it was a little costly. Then we heard about EveryPlate, which is pretty cheap, easy to prepare, and still healthy. We actually recently learned it is owned by Hello Fresh as a lower-cost option (kind of like how the same company owns Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic). Anyway, we've been doing EveryPlate for a few weeks now and it has been good!

We've had gnocchi with pork sausage, Tuscan chicken with noodles, stuffed pork burgers, a potato chowder, black bean stew, and some tasty pork chops as well as other items. Preparing food at home is known to be better healthwise than eating out a lot and I actually saw a nutritionist a bit ago to discuss better eating. We talked about calorie-counting and eating less processed foods prepared at home. 

A chicken and rice bowl we made with EveryPlate.

I've been paying attention to calories since then and find myself astounded how a muffin from a restaurant I like can have as many calories as a whole meal from EveryPlate. I've also been trying to cut-out soda as well. Every Plate has been handy for watching what I eat while not being too crazy with over-the-top meals that take forever to prepare. Samii and I have enjoyed EveryPlate and plan to keep at it!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Time to Share The Comic Book Presser's Latest Stellar Work!

If you ever need your comics pressed and put through the process known as dry-cleaning, I have one person I always recommend: The Comic Book Presser AKA Chris. Anytime I acquire some comics that I want graded I send them to Chris before they go to CGC/CBCS so he can work his magic. I bought a collection some months ago and loved the variant cover for, "Wolverine," #315. It featured X-23 in a pink outfit to raise awareness about breast cancer with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I wasn't sure how it would grade, so I sent it to Chris to make sure it was as crisp and clean as possible. Then he can send stuff to CGC or CBCS for you so I had him do that. It came back a 9.8--generally the best grade to be expected as almost nothing is given a 9.9 or 10.0 by CGC.

I eagerly recommend Chris to anyone who needs their comics pressed or cleaned. Old comics, new comics, he tackles them all with gusto and skill. I know I'm going to continue submitting books to him as I keep buying, selling, and trading!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Flashback Friday: "Swordfish," Was a Fun Movie, Regardless What Haters Say

You ever remember a movie not because of the plot but because of how great the actors in it were acting-out a story that admittedly was a mess? That's me with, "Swordfish." The, "Story," as it were involves an old government slush fund that a crazy guy (John Travolta) needs a skilled hacker (Hugh Jackman) to break into, yet at some point they also go and hold-up a bank, as we see when the movie opens 3/4th into the flick, before flashing back to the beginning, and then building-up to the 3/4th spot and jumping into the last fourth. Yeah, "Memento," thought it was clever going in reverse? This movie jumps all around in time! Plus, there is Halle Berry as Travolta's parter-in-crime as well as life--and we see her boobs! Halle Berry's boobs in a movie not as depressing as, "Monter's Ball," are always a welcome addition. Seriously, "Monster's Ball," is the second most depressing movie ever with, "Monster," in the title--the winner is simply, "Monster," with Charlize Theron, in case you wondered. Oh, Don Cheadle is an FBI agent in this too, and he's always a treat on the screen. 

"Swordfish," has a plot that makes almost no sense, but it is loaded with action, has Travolta doing his usual over-the-top thing with weird monologues about movies that wouldn't be out of place in a Tartino flick, a pre-Wolverine Hugh Jackman being delightfully understated, it is fun! Oh, and there is a bus that gets carried by a helicopter whilst loaded with people from the bank who are equipped with explosives that cause them to blow-up if they get too far from the bus because this movie literally has everything except coherence. Keep in mind this is 2001 when, "Swordfish," came out too, so you know all the stuff dealing with hacking and, "Cyberspace," is really silly and unrealistic because people in 2021 still don't understand hacking and two decades ago it was really foreign to folks!

A helicopter carries a bus full of people rigged to explode if they happen to fall out.
This movie is beautifully insane.

Based on my post's title you already know that, "Swordfish," has bad reviews. Terrible, reviews, frankly. It sits at a wretched 25% on Rotten Tomatoes and people who rent or stream it years later still feel an urge to post negative reviews on websites these days. Forget the haters, though, this movie is awesome if you come into it expecting a spectacle and are willing to not think too hard about the plot. I loved this movie so much I've watched it with all the commentaries with the cast who could best be described as, "Vaguely bemused, mostly bored," when offering their thoughts. I have viewed the many alternate endings that change little about the actual flick. I am all-in on, "Swordfish," damnit, and I still couldn't explain the plot to you without seeming like that meme of Charlie Day from, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," where he looks crazy trying to break-down a conspiracy.

"Swordfish," is not necessarily a good movie, but it is a fun one. Between the great cast, special effects, and general weirdness of the movie jumping-around in time in a manner to seem clever even if it only confuses us more, I love this flick. It is very dumb, yes, but sometimes we just need something entertainingly stupid in our lives.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cryptocurrency Still Isn't a Risk I'd Take

Back on Christmas Eve of 2017, I expressed my hesitancy about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Digital money that doesn't, "Exist," in a physical sense and has no assets to back it up results in something highly volatile. As Medium observed in a new article by James Surowiecki, "The Bitcoin Dream Is Dead." At least, it is in the sense of one aspect. People aren't actually using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies to actually buy and sell things. They simply buy and sell the cryptocurrency itself and hoard it like an asset. Bitcoin is treated more like gold these days in that it is bought and held--the difference being gold is an actual thing you can hold with a real value--cryptocurrency just kinda-sorta exists. 

Bitcoin is always volatile, reaching new highs and then crashing down double digits of percentage points. Other cryptocurrency options exist that maybe are better for buying and selling actual goods, but they lack as much popularity. Even though more and more apps are making it possible to invest in these digital monies (PayPal has added features, for example), I still just don't trust cryptocurrency as an investment. It all just still seems like a house of cards that could collapse someday without warning for those who didn't sell their cryptocurrency assets in time for actual cash. Plus, good luck if you ever forget your password to access your money.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Prevent Accidental Purchases and Always Make Sure You Have Parental Controls Activated On Your Digital Devices

It's another occasion where I should have listened to my wife to save myself a lot of trouble. You see, we have a Kindle (the Amazon tablet) we let our son play with sometimes. He enjoys watching the apps with songs and fun little games. Some of those videos are on the Prime Video app and Clarkson has gotten pretty good at navigating it to see the things free with Prime like the videos by, "Maple Leaf Learning." My wife had said to me at certain points that we should make sure he can't buy anything. I said I was pretty sure there was a password in place or some kind of confirmation that had to be done he wouldn't be able to complete. I was wrong.

Today I was in the kitchen preparing some lunch while Clarkson sat on a chair in the nearby dining room when my phone lit-up and informed me I had spent $19.99 on Prime Video. Then I suddenly heard, "Fancy Nancy," coming from his Kindle. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, he wasn't on Youtube watching clips or Disney+ and in fact had bought something. I checked and sure enough, Clarkson had bought the first season/volume of, "Fancy Nancy." I felt quite stupid based on all the times I'd reassured Samii he couldn't possibly be able to buy anything.

Now, if you purchase a digital item by accident and want to cancel it you can--hurray! It just has to be within 48 hours of purchase and you cannot have watched any of it...and Clarkson had watched maybe 30 seconds to a minute of, "Fancy Nancy," meaning I lacked the option to cancel my purchase. Samii suggested I call Amazon and explain the issue, however, so I rang-up customer service. After getting through an automated menu I explained everything that happened to a customer service associate named Emily. She was very understanding and let me cancel the digital purchase as it was the first time such a thing had occurred and less than a minute had been watched. It was relatively painless, all things considered.

The moral of this story is to not be like me and instead to always make sure you have parental controls activated on any digital devices your children may use so as to prevent unwanted purchases. My story has a happy ending where I was able to cancel the purchase, but things working-out is never guaranteed. Always have safeguards in place.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Television Tuesday: Mr. Mayor

My wife and I were able to watch the first two episodes of, "Mr. Mayor," last Thursday. Starring Ted Danson as a man in way over his head upon becoming the mayor of Los Angeles, it was pretty funny. I think a lot of the credit for it being so good belongs with Ted Danson. Between, "Cheers," "The Good Place," and a number of other projects the man has been acting for decades in comedic roles and excels at them. The supporting cast is good too, with Holly Hunter being almost too over the top as the deputy mayor, but it works. Everyone is great, it's a good cast.

There are puns, weird little jokes, and it all flows smoothly--the whole show is just nice and chill. Now, there isn't too much bite to the humor, which is odd as this is coming from a lot of the folk who brought us, "30 Rock," production-wise, which for all its zany jokes could sometimes really hit hard. Still, "Mr. Mayor," seems to be off to a good start and lots of comedies usually need a bit to find their footing (the just-mentioned, "30 Rock," had a really weak pilot). Samii and I plan to keep tuning in and getting some good laughs.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese is Tasty and Easy to Make if You're Lazy Like Me

I am sometimes a lazy man. I am so lazy that making Kraft macaroni and cheese seems like a lot of work. I don't just boil the noodles--I slice off some butter, measure some milk, mix all that with the cheese powder once the noodles are done, it is a lot. However, Cracker Barrel's new-ish mac and cheese is really easy to create. You boil some shells, drain the water, and mix in some cheese sauce. Then you eat it, and it tastes really good. I've had the decent white cheddar flavor as well as the delicious sharp cheddar flavor. It is yummy and is easy to make if you're lazy like me. I recommend it if you see it in your local grocery store.

Note: I was not paid for this post by anyone, I just felt like writing about Cracker Barrel and their mac and cheese.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

"Kings & Queens," By Ava Max is Total Trash

 Ava Max has one passable song titled, "Sweet but Pyscho." She has a new hit titled, "Kings & Queens, " which is absolutely terrible. It sounds like some overproduced sludge with a vaguely techno-medieval vibe. Her lyrics are vapid on it, rhyming about swords as a thinly-veiled metaphor for a penis and weaksauce girl-power proclamations about how she's there for Queens, "Fighting alone," which seems more like an empty gesture than actual support for go-getting women. 

There is, of course, a bridge with a loud guitar shredding that sounds like something from a shitty Medival Times knock-off that wants to have the dullest and most inoffensive rock band ever playing. The song is going for an epic tonal quality, but is just awful. Oh, and I watched the music video when I embedded it into this post above and it looks like the most low-budget, "Game of Thrones," imitation ever full of imagery that makes no sense--is there a chessboard because that has kings and queens? What's with the parrot? Who knows? I don't hate all of today's new popular music, I'm not just some grouchy old man. This is garbage, though.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Rant-Reviews: Checking-In On Some Series

 Seeing How Things Are Going

There are certain comics that are deep into their series, others that are wrapping up, and some that are still in the early stages. They are all past their first issue, however, and worth checking-in on to see how they are going so far (or ending, when applicable).

Check-In, Check-up

Spider-Woman #7

Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman's latest series has seen her doing a bit of globe (and space)-trotting in an effort to fix how she is dying. A cure she was given as a child for her weird Spider-mutations has stopped working and now she has to fix it by working with an estranged brother and weird clone-thing of her Mother (it's complicated). That all gets interrupted this issue, however, as the, "King in Black," event Marvel is doing results in Jessica having to fight one of those big symbiote dragons with some assistance from Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Luke Cage/Power Man, Danny Rand/Power Fist, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and one of the versions of the Night Nurse. 

The comic even acknowledges subtly that this cross-over is interrupting its main focus--Jessica wanting to find a way to not die--but does keep that plot going by having her inject herself with a chemical that is keeping her alive but also kinda killing her so she can fight the symbiote. There's nothing that impressive or terrible in this comic, it just feels a bit like some forced crossover filler. I didn't feel my time was wasted or especially well-utilized reading it.

3 out of 5 stars.

Cutting Edge: The Siren's Song #2

An English adaptation of an Italian comic written by Francesco Dimitri with gorgeous artwork by Mario Alberti, this mini-series has focused on a group of very different people gathered by a mega-corporation for a strange, "Game," that has a lot more interesting weird stuff going on than one would first expect. Between mythical creatures, mind-altering hypnosis, and a lot of lethal threats, this comic expertly mixes genres with its blend of mystery, light fantastical elements, and as I said, the art is amazing. The next issue changes the series title and adds a #1 again, I think, but it is all part of one big mini-series. Definitely worth a read.

5 out of 5 stars.

Dark Nights: Death Metal #7

Okay...what was the point of all this? The entirety of, "Death Metal," was a confusing mess that sometimes had fun moments, but as a whole made almost no sense. It is finally over and has rebooted (excuse me, refreshed), the DC Universe in a whole new way. Still, this whole event was a bit of a mess that feels like it took forever to get to the new Omniverse/Infinite Frontier/whatever we're calling it.

2 out of 5 stars.

Thor #11

Donny Cates' take on, "Thor," started-out with some epic space-fighting between Thor, Galactus, and a new baddie named Black Winter. This next arc, however, has had a lot more of a scaled-down horror-vibe, and I'm digging it! Thor traded places with his alter-ego Donald Blake, but didn't realize while Blake had been gone for a while he'd gone utterly mad and gained a lot of deadly power. 

Now Blake's running loose with plans to kill a whole lot of people (which artist Nic Klien masterfully portrays) whilst Thor is stuck in a netherworld of sorts. Blake isn't totally evil, however, as we witness in this issue, but he clearly is a major threat and a scary one at that. Oh, and the last page is hilarious in a wonky way where he plans to fight (spoiler alert) the frog-Thor from comics of past.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Vampirella #16

I always say how even if I don't normally care about a character, Christopher Priest writing a comic about them makes me interested. That's been the case as he continues to give us a twisty-and-turny tale with Vampi that takes all of her old comic history and instead of forgetting it, actually builds-upon the confusing continuity in clever ways. With as complex a family and history as Vampirella has that gives Priest a lot to work with, and he's a writer who always excels as multilayered yarns. Fantastic stuff.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 8, 2021

The, "Moon Knight," Omnibus is Beautiful

I saved-up some funds and bought the, "Moon Knight," omnibus I had written about before as looking really cool. I own many--but not all--of the issues covered within it. Between this omnibus, my individual issues, some physical trades, Marvel Essential collections, and Kindle collections I think I have nearly every Moon Knight issue in some form, however (I'm missing some random earlier, "Marc Spector: Moon Knight," issues, I do know). The omnibus has a variant cover with the cover art from the first issue of Moon Knight's individual series, but I really like this Finch cover. A part of that is because it looks cool and another reason is the first Moon Knight comics I read were from the Charlie Huston run that had Finch's artwork.

Moon Knight is a fantastic character and I look forward to his upcoming show on Disney+ hopefully being good. I've written extensively about why I have my love for the character and this big beautiful omnibus will be a treat to reread stories within!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The True End of an Era: Family Video is Shutting Down

Hollywood Video ceased operations. Blockbuster called it quits except for a single store. Still, Family Video kept going and seemed to be doing alright. COVID-19 basically delivered a killing blow to the last large rental franchise in existence. There are still some small Mom and Pop rental stores or specialty ones that appeal to a mixture of nostalgia as well as carrying stuff that isn't easily streamable (obscure foreign flicks, for instance), but the only big dog left has declared it's done

You can still rent movies or games at certain places. Netflix does have a physical option, Redbox refuses to die, and Vintage Stock stores buy and sell basically everything and do actually let you rent stuff--few realize that. It really is the end of the big video rental store era, an era that had been past its prime for a while but was still trying its hardest. As someone with a fondness for old VHS tapes and DVDs, I am a bit sad. The unforgiving march of time and advances in technology just made a big rental chain no longer viable.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

America, What the Hell?

This was the end goal of Donald Trump and his dangerously loyal followers. Either he wins or he turns on everyone and takes us all down with him in a chaotic mess of brutal rage.  He was the Frankenstein monster of the Republican Party, and the monster always turned on its creator (in every version of the story told). They gave him power and he ended-up encouraging rioting, mayhem, and basically an attempted coup of sorts to keep him in that much-desired power. For a party that claims it supports, "Law and order," it was telling to see Trump's fans breaching a Federal property, exchanging gunfire with police, and otherwise disgusting anyone with a lick of common sense. When you deny reality and stoke the flames of violence, you reap what you sow. Trump is probably pleased to be sowing this utter shitshow of his domestic terrorists indirectly doing his bidding.

One thing I noticed as the MAGA-mob broke into the Capitol was how the police presence couldn't do much due to a lack of numbers. It is funny that when it is people of color protesting we get a literal army protecting our buildings and monuments, yet white folk literally break into a Federal building and disrespect it because of a lack of security to prevent such a thing. You didn't hear about Black Lives Matter protestors busting into the Capitol because if they had even tried they would've been shot before they finished going up the stairs.

I am disgusted at what some residents of America think is acceptable behavior. People peacefully protest for actual causes and are condemned. Domestic terrorists wreak havoc and the President applauds them. You brought this on yourself, Republicans, don't act like you can distance yourself from your Frankenstein's monster now--you're Dr. Frankenstein, the monster bears your name.

Many People are Very Excited for the, "Star Wars: The High Republic," Comic Today

I am a casual, "Star Wars," fan. I've seen a chunk of the movies, played some video-games set in the Universe, read a handful of comics, watched a bit of, "The Mandalorian," and so forth. I am not super-knowledgeable by any means. That said, many of my friends who are big fans of, "Star Wars," and its assorted properties are quite excited for the first issue of, "Star Wars: The High Republic," which comes out today. It follows some of the earliest history of the Star Wars-continuity, as I understand it, and many issues have been sold to comic stores with there still being a ton of unmet demand. I believe there is also a novel folk are pumped about and the comic goes with it--maybe? I'll pick up an issue if I can find one and give it a read as I always like trying out first issues of stuff.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Going (Band)Camping: Eighth Edition

Another post of music from Bandcamp that I felt warranted discussion for one reason or another? Yep, that's what we've got here. No overall theme or genre is focused upon, the only unifying feature is that the wide array of artists discussed are at that handy website, Bandcamp. Time to dive into some tunes.

DOT--Welcome to the Dotosphere

I'd describe this EP by DOT as being like some good old fashioned surf-rock. The overall sound of the guitars, peppy vocals, and general vibe is reminiscent of a nice day at the beach. A great assortment of tracks to listen to on a cold winter night to warm-up and picture a hot Summer day. Listen here.

4 out of 5 stars.


This album by DRACULA FACTS features an assortment of short and often sweetly comedic tunes sung along with a ukelele and at times other instruments. There is a laid-back vibe to it all, with short bits about romance, awkwardness, and more working wonderfully such as on songs like, "KELS," and, "SABOTAGE," among others. A charming LP that makes you smile, in other words. He may be, "UNDEAD," but he clearly still has a lot of feelings. Listen to it at this link.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Phillip of the Milky Way--Self-Titled EP

I quite dug the psychedelic rock that Phillip of the Milky Way provides on this EP. It goes by briskly with three quality tunes, but that's alright as I loved them all (with, "Everything Baby is Gonna Be Okay," being my favorite). While listening to Phillips trippy guitar and wild effects you really feel like you're floating on some otherworldly plane, taking in the chill tunes. It is truly a welcome piece of auditory relaxation for a stressful day. Try it out for yourself here.

5 out of 5 stars.


A vaporwave-style LP full of hip-hop beats that also mixes in some hip-hop sounds and rhymes? That sounds right up my alley--and it is! Over a heaping helping of tracks, FarragoL brings us some awesome beats and melodies along with samples of great rap. There is the rare track that drags a bit, but with 40 total, anything less-enjoyable quickly passes and is replaced by banger after banger of quality tunes. A stellar mish-mash of styles and sounds for sure, you should check it too.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

 Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza--Sign​​-​​Off Meditations, 1982 + NTSC Redacting

A weird double album of sorts. Lindsheaven Virtual Plaza has the first half/album be an atmospheric piece known as, "Sign-Off Meditations," that simulates a television channel signing off for the night with some soft and surreal ambient synths to chill out to. It is pretty, but gets a little dull. I was much more intrigued by, "NTSC Redacting," which keeps the weird 80's television theme but works in everything from a random weather update to a saxophone that sounds straight out of an old porno movie. It's some weird and pretty good experimental stuff. Put both of these strange albums together and you have a solidly odd listening experience.

4 out of 5 stars.