Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Television Tuesday: "Amish Mafia," Sure Was a Wild Show

This post could fall under, "Television Tuesday," as I'm discussing a T.V. program or could honestly be a Flashback Friday as the show I'm talking about ran from 2012-2015 (which feels like forever ago). I am referring to what may be the strangest reality television program to ever air, "Amish Mafia." It was bizarre. We binged a lot of it over Thanksgiving weekend and my wife and I loved how strange a show we witnessed.

Depending on whom you ask, "Amish Mafia," was either completely fake, totally real, or a strange mixture of truth and fiction. It centered on people who ran an organization called, "Amish Aid," within the Amish community. It ostensibly was founded to help Amish folks in trouble so they could stay within their own community for assistance with everything from a broken buggy wheel, to a bad year for crops, setting up a Christmas tree stand, and so forth. However--if the show can be trusted at all--it slowly morphed into a group that helped keep the peace in the Amish community by having members who weren't fully baptized yet into the Amish faith being able to bend the rules the Amish follow. This results in shocking amounts of violence towards non-Amish (AKA, "English,") who threaten the Amish way of life along with conflicts among other Amish Aid organizations (which are basically other mobster groups).

The show went for four seasons and people said it had to be fake. Some said real or fake it made the Amish look bad. Everyone involved in the show insisted it was real and they didn't fear non-Amish cops a sliver of the degree they feared the local bishop getting them shunned or exiled if they didn't keep the Amish community safe and well-funded. Countless websites like to debunk aspects of the show and insist it is all made up. In later seasons the show actually incorporates the disbelief of others, making the governor of Pennsylvania at the time and his crusade against the show a plot point. Muddying things further, actual arrests and jail time some cast members went through for actual illegal activities gets discussed in the show, making things feel real sometimes even when other elements of the program really strain belief.

I am unsure how authentic anything was on, "Amish Mafia," but I'll be damned if it isn't entertaining. This could be a reality show that exposes a side of the Amish community few would suspect exists, it could be mostly fabricated but presented in a fun reality style that gives it an authentic feeling. All I know is I see all the evidence a lot of it was fake but I still want it to mostly be real. The wild personalities, the shocking amount of explosions (where do they get these explosives?), and violence, it all seems too surreal to exist in our world--almost like a hyperreality--but I loved watching it.

Real, fake, or somewhere in between, "Amish Mafia," is exciting, fun, engaging, and really captures your attention. The show may have ended more than a half-decade ago, but if it ever comes back in some form, I'll tune in for sure. As for now, you can stream all of, "Amish Mafia," on Discovery+, which is exactly what Samii and I did over the past extended weekend!

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Folks Behind Super Simple Songs Provide Great Customer Service!

If you have younger children you are most likely familiar with Super Simple Songs. They can be found all over the internet with fun little animated (and sometimes live-action) jingles that kids love. They also have an app little ones can enjoy that lets them scroll around to fun tunes. We have an old iPhone 6 we put some kids' apps on for Clarkson to play sometimes and he loves the Super Simple Songs one. Then one day it stopped working.

We would open the app and it would just be a white screen. I didn't know what to do so, so I tweeted at Super Simple Songs about our issue. They responded they would look into it. Then, to my pleasant surprise, they actually wrote me a message asking for details. I explained it was an older iPhone 6 and ever since a recent update it stopped functioning. A few hours later they said they had a new update they would get uploaded in a day or two that would allow the app to still work with older phones. The next day there was an update to Super Simple Songs that we put on the iPhone and sure enough, it works great now!

I was amazed Super Simple Songs cared enough to respond to me, some random person tweeting at them. They were very nice and this was some amazing customer service. I told them how I had a blog dedicated to popular culture after they helped me and would write about how awesome they were, so now here we are. Super Simple Songs are wonderful folks and I just wanted to thank them for being super awesome!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Happy First Night of Hanukkah--Yes, It's Early This Year!

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. It always happens during different times of the year because it occurs via the Jewish calendar and not the official Gregorian one that the World now uses. Hence, it's kicking-off in November this year! I hope everyone has a great Hanukkah if they celebrate it!

I Just Remembered that Mini-SDCC Event is Happening

I and many others forgot that Comic-Con International (also known as the massive San Diego Comic-Con) announced they would be doing a small show over Thanksgiving weekend. They announced it earlier this year and it was a substitute for not having a massive convention. It's been happening and apparently been extremely quiet compared to a regular show but still fun. I still think having a con over Thanksgiving weekend sounds difficult (traveling is already a nightmare with the holiday), but as long as everyone is having fun and being safe, I suppose it'll all work out!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Marvel Cancelled the Luke Cage Comic I Was Excited About

In, "Why can't we have nice things?" news, Marvel canceled that upcoming, "Luke Cage: City of Fire," comic I was excited for. It had writer Ho Che Anderson is making his first comic with Marvel  and the artists were going to change issue-per-issue. The plot centered on Cage fighting against a crooked cop who murders an innocent black man and going against politicians such as Wilson Fisk (currently the mayor of New York City in the comics) whilst the city teeters on the edge of conflict. It sounded extremely topical and interesting.  Marvel canned it.

Anderson wrote in an Instagram post how, "MAN PLANS, GOD LAUGHS: No easy way to say this. I got the word Luke Cage got canceled this morning, one month away from its premiere. The scripts are all written. The first issue is done and is a thing of absolute beauty. Issues 2 and 3 are deep into production. Covers have been drawn. People have gotten excited, and with good reason as far as I’m concerned. I remain as proud of this as any work I’ve ever done. Maybe someday it will be seen. But as of today, this comic is dead in the water. If you want answers I am not the man to ask. My heart is broken. I’m taking a social media break to lick my wounds. Somewhere god is having a chuckle. Enjoy it." The comic is far along and mysteriously gets shut down. Why, though?

Another comic creator who has made some awesome works (and had some rough experiences with Marvel), David F. Walker, wrote in response to this news on his Twitter that, "There are only two reasons a title is canceled this late in the game. #1 - pre-orders were too low to warrant the cost of printing. #2 - someone high up on the Marvel/Disney food chain saw something in the series that didn't sit well with them, and decided to kill it." It doesn't take a genius to think that with the current political and social climate in America that this comic probably touched on difficult subjects. I imagine Marvel (or more-so Disney) did not like that. This stinks.

Film Friday: Three Great Scenes in Three Good Movies

Every Four or Five Years I Do One of These

All the way back in 2011 I discussed two amazing scenes in two otherwise terrible movies. Then, in 2017 I wrote about two great scenes in a duo of otherwise underwhelming movies. Moving along this theme (but adding an extra flick) I randomly felt today like discussing three great scenes in three good movies. These movies have something that keeps them from achieving perfection, but they're still solid and have glimmers of sheer amazement in these three scenes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I liked, "Spider-Man: Homecoming." I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it a great deal. That said, one scene utterly amazed me. It is funny that Micheal Keaton is the Vulture but he's scariest out of his outfit just being Michael Keaton. Later in the film, his character begins to piece together how Tom Holland's Peter Parker is, in fact, Spider-Man. Then, he calmy (eerily calmy) discusses what he knows with Holland. It's an insanely intense scene and my favorite part of the whole movie.

I Am Legend

I've written previously about my issues with, "I Am Legend," changing its original ending after audiences complained it made them feel bad. It ended up having a nonsensical and stupid finale. Before that it's a solid movie that flirts with greatness but sometimes feels a little aimless. That said, the flashback scenes of when Will Smith's character and his family were considering evacuating New York City when the virus started are superb. They show a populace that is freaking out and a mess (kind of like we were during this current pandemic). My favorite scene happens during these flashbacks when everyone's eyes are being scanned for early signs of infection. Smith's wife registers as a, "Fail," and they start to drag her off. Smith starts yelling, everyone puts their guns up, and then it gets alarmingly quiet as Smith insists with a mixture of rage, fear, and desperation that they, "Scan her again." They do and she passes (raising questions about the machines too). It's a damn good scene that shows what Smith can do when you give a scene with something to bite into.


"Cashback," is an incredibly quirky British comedy (which I've recommended) that expands upon an Oscar-nominated short. It features a man named Ben who has trouble sleeping and gets a job working at a grocery store. To make time pass faster he imagines it actually freezing. The movie is purposely a little vague on if this is all in his imagination or if Ben actually has some kind of power. There is one moment where the flick suddenly takes on a slightly horror-styled vibe, however, that stuck with me. Ben pauses for a moment and wonders if he does this whole time-freezing thing what is stopping someone else from doing it too, or joining him? Then suddenly a man in a hoodie darts out of the room Ben's in and runs off. It's a brief unsettling moment in an otherwise pretty silly and fun flick. It hints for a moment at how, "Cashback," could be a totally different kind of movie if certain tonal aspects were changed. That makes it stay with me.

Flirting With Greatness

These are some good movies that I like watching. They aren't great, but they're really good, and these scenes within them are stupendous and make them come close to being even more impressive...if that makes sense. This was fun though. Next time (in another four or five years, maybe), I'll perhaps talk about weirdly bad scenes in stellar flicks? We'll see.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021!


It is Thanksgiving 2021. This year is a bit more normal compared to Thanksgiving 2020, which was quite different as long as folks were safe regarding COVID-19. This year we are (hopefully) vaccinated and can enjoy spending time with loved ones. Have a good Thanksgiving, all my American readers. I hope everyone else has a good regular ol' Thursday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Local Comic Shop Day!

Local Comic Shop Day came about a handful of years ago. The retailer organization ComicsPro started working with publishers to have cool comics and variant covers released at locally owned comic shops. It continues to this day and lately has been the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There are some snazzy comics this year that are worth checking out if your comic shop is taking part in LCSD. It is now nearing the end of the day so if you didn't have a chance to browse any cool comics today, check them out Friday after Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Television Tuesday: "Hawkeye," Premieres Tomorrow on Disney+


The first two episodes of, "Hawkeye," stream starting tomorrow. I've previously discussed how I am looking forward to the, "Hawkeye," show thanks to all the great talent involved and not really because of Hawkeye himself. No offense to Jeremy Renner as he is a great actor, it is just that Hawkeye has been jokingly referred to as, "Everyone's least-favorite Avenger," for a reason. I'm just saying what many of us are thinking. I've seen some positive early reviews of the first two episodes (that was all critics were provided) and they state how Hailee Steinfeld is awesome (she is a great actress and singer, I don't know if she'll sing in this though) and Renner is present. I look forward to watching the show and seeing other characters that have definitely or seemingly been confirmed to appear, such as Alaqua Cox's Echo and Florence Pugh's Black Widow.

I'm not surprised the show is good if it's drawing from the amazing run by Matt Fraction and David Aja (with some other guest artists too). I really hope Disney/Marvel is paying some thank-you money to both in adequate amounts. I look forward to watching this over the extended Thanksgiving weekend!

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Nintendo Wii is 15 Years Old

The Nintendo Wii turned 15 over the weekend. The interesting thing is that it had a pretty long lifespan for a console and still is somewhat relevant now even if no games are being made for it besides the occasional small indie/homebrew title. Back when the failed WiiU was produced and then the immensely popular Nintendo Switch, the Wii kept trucking along with some occasional dance games or such. Folks still buy Wiis and enjoy the catalog of titles (or even simply play the bowling mini-games). We have a Nintendo Wii and occasionally will play some games on it. It was/is just a great console. Long live the Wii!

Bobby Flay Isn't Leaving Food Network After All

In October I discussed how it looked quite likely Bobby Flay was going to be leaving Food Network at the end of 2021. They couldn't reach a contract deal for him to stay there and barring a last-minute budge from his people of Food Network, he was done after 27 years. Well, somebody metaphorically blinked because Flay has re-upped with Food Network for at least three more years. One big aspect of the announcement he'll be staying is that Flay gets some of that sweet, sweet streaming money via the parent company's Discovery+ app. 

Yes, this contract, "...includes development of new content for Food Network as well as for elsewhere within the Discovery portfolio. Like its media peers, Discovery is pushing into streaming, with food programming aimed at niche service Food Network Kitchen as well as the broad-audience Discovery+." Therefore, you can expect Flay to continue gracing your television screen as well as your laptop/tablet with streaming-exclusive stuff too, it seems. I guess any competing networks or streaming services will have to wait for the next big contract dispute at Food Network before they can snatch up some talent. Perhaps if Guy Fieri ever tires of his job as the mayor of Flavortown?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

I Loved This Review of, "Crisis Zone," by Tegan O'Neil

I reviewed, "Crisis Zone," a bit ago for my friends over at Forces of Geek and discussed how amazing a comic it was. Simon Hanselmann makes good stuff. Also, there are certain reviewers whose writing I love and one of them is Tegan O'Neil, so when her (as she admits, very late) review of, "Crisis Zone," went up on The Comics Journal the other day I eagerly dove into the lengthy and thoughtful piece. Is it weird for one reviewer to write an article singing the praises of another review? Is that navel-gazey or reviewer-inception in a way? I don't care, I'm still going to tell you that you obviously ought to read, "Crisis Zone," and insist you read Tegan's review too.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

They Say the Justice System Isn't Broken, But Yeah


Yesterday, a murderer named Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty by the jury at his trial, against all logic. He wanted to act like some kind of vigilante and went with an assault rifle to the scene of protests. He shot people in cold blood. He cried about it on the stand and the power of crying white tears (and being a white man in general) set him free. It's weird that our society has become so divided that now we can politicize murder. Because Rittenhouse shot people who were protesting racial injustice a bunch of right-wingers decided to make him some kind of mascot. His trial was a mess between a judge who practically adopted Rittenhouse as a son and the aforementioned dramatic performances Rittenhouse gave when he took the stand. Chalk this one up as another example of how broken the justice system is.

Friday, November 19, 2021

The Publishing Rights to, "Star Wars," Comics Keep Getting More Confusing

Years ago, when it was a brand-new property, "Star Wars," was published by Marvel. Then Dark Horse got the license and made a ton of, "Star Wars," comics. However, over time Disney bought their own publisher in the form of Marvel and then acquired the rights to, "Star Wars," as well. It only made sense as soon as they could that, "Star Wars," was brought back to Marvel. The weird thing, however, is that Disney has had some random, "Star Wars," books published by IDW (along with other Marvel all-ages books). Now, Disney is also going to do all-ages comics in the, "Star Wars," universe (which IDW was doing, as I mentioned) during the, "High Republic," era of the chronology which will be published by Dark Horse. Dark Horse has some, "Star Wars," comics again, in other words. 

This is very confusing and I would not even begin to act like I understand why different, "Star Wars," books are at various publishers. all I know is it leaves me befuddled but obviously makes, "Star Wars," fans happy as they get even more comics. Whether IDW will still be doing, "Star Wars," comics if they lost the all-ages rights to stories remains unclear. The thought of three different comic publishers making, "Star Wars," comics is wild, however!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Debut Issue of Robin Bougie's New, "Gutter Hunter," is Amazing

I have previously written about how I was a big fan of the 'zine, "Cinema Sewer." Dedicated to discussing all kinds of weird and fascinating movies, I actually was honored to contribute an article for what turned out to be the final issue, #34. Recently, Robin revealed that since concluding, "Cinema Sewer," he had been working on a new project, "Gutter Hunter." This new 'zine was dedicated to exploring the history of weird indie and underground comix--yes, with an X when we're talking about the underground goodness. I ordered a copy of the first issue quickly after he revealed what he'd made and I'm glad I did as it sold out! Robin shared on Facebook and Twitter how that had never happened before, and within a week he was all out of, "Gutter Hunter." Thankfully, a second printing is on the way for those who want to witness, "Gutter Hunter," because my copy just arrived in the mail yesterday and it is amazing. 

Bougie has always been a fantastic writer and one of the most knowledgeable people I know about movies. We've talked comics before over the interwebs and his breadth of knowledge when it comes to the comic artform astounded me too. I'm not surprised he made a 'zine dedicated to indie and underground comics, but I'm overjoyed he did because this is a stupendous read! Whether talking about the erotic, "2 Hot Girls on a Hot Summer Night," the controversial, "White Whore Funnies," or telling us about the outright strange comics of a cult, "Gutter Hunter," is loaded with the history of comics that generally don't get the same attention as, "Mainstream," works. I loved the first issue and would encourage you to preorder its second printing at this link. Robin's gone from writing about the strangest movies around to the weirdest comics you'll ever find, and I'm most definitely here for it.

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lil Nas X Being on, "Maury," Today was Some Hilarious Cross-Promotion

Lil Nas X is a great musician and he loves to just do funny stuff for the sake of fun. He is a bit of a professional troll, but he trolls haters and does silly stuff like appearing on, "Maury," for a fictional segment. His appearance--under his real name of Montero--is a bit of a continuation of his music video where he discovers a footballer boyfriend has a wife. Montero's real ex-boyfriend is in the segment (they are on good terms) with a faux-wife and questions about who the real father is. The segment features the aforementioned paternity test, proposals, lie detector results, and you know that Montero runs off into the backstage area in shock toward the end! As if to further the weird mix or real-and-fake, Lil Nas X bookended the show at the beginning and end with actual people with real drama in the middle of the show. Should you want to see just the Lil Nas X stuff, you can here though:

I admire how basically nobody broke character, besides a few grins at the silliest moments. "Maury," made sure to include the disclaimer that this segment was fictional, and I applaud Maury for being willing to do such a weird bit of cross-promotion with Lil Nas X (I assume Lil Nas X reached out with the idea as this seems like something crazy he would dream up). Plus, this was the first time I'd watched, "Maury," in forever (I was always more of a, "Jerry Springer," fan), so mission accomplished in getting Mr. Povich more viewers and getting Lil Nas X some promo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

I Enjoyed this, "DC Super Heroes: Lex Luthor's Puzzles," Book Even if I Stink at Puzzles

Whether you're a child or an adult with a child you've gotta admit book fairs at school are fun. Should you be a youth buying goodies for yourself or the parent with a kiddo pumped to shop, I love a good book fair. We were able to get some awesome stuff from one recently, including some, "Pete the Cat," titles for Clarkson and I bought a book titled, "DC Super Heroes: Lex Luthor's Puzzles." It came with a free Lego figure and I know I am not the best at puzzles so I figured a publication geared toward children would contain puzzles I might be able to tackle.

Okay, I could easily do half the puzzles and really struggled with the other half, so yah? I was easily able to count-up bats and the color-identification puzzles we not too bad.  I struggled with some of the mazes and pattern stuff though. I eventually got through the puzzles, however. I also enjoyed the comics in the book that featured Lego-versions of the heroes preventing Lex Luthor's evil plans to take over the World.

Some puzzles took me longer than I am proud to admit.

"DC Super Heroes: Lex Luthor's Puzzles," is a fun book full of puzzles, some cute stories, and you get a free Lex Luthor figurine with it too, so that's a nice bonus. If you've got a child or are looking to sharpen up your own mediocre puzzle skills (no judgment) then I'd recommend checking this book out.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 15, 2021

My Review of the Graphic Novel, "Petrograd," is Posted Over at Forces of Geek

I read the graphic novel, "Petrograd," for my friends over at Forces of Geek and wrote a review that you can now read here. "Petrograd," is best described as being a piece of historical fiction that focuses on the plot to murder the infamous Gregorii Rasputin. What did I think of the book? Read my review and see!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The November 2021 ToyMan Show Was Stupendous!

Today, I attended the latest ToyMan Show. Run by Chris, "ToyMan," McQuillen, I look forward to every single ToyMan show as I always have an absolute blast! Whether you're after comics, toys, Legos, die-cast cars, dolls, or anything else, the odds are good it'll be at ToyMan. I know I found a ton of good stuff! Anyways, I arrived mid-morning and one of the first folks I ran into was Dustin. He had some absolutely gorgeous, "Marvel Preview Presents," with the first, second, third, and fourth appearance of Star-Lord! Give them a gander:

I proceeded inside where I saw my good friends John Chaffe (of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles) and Tim Metzger. I made sure to say hello to Spike from Lost in Spaces Toys and Collectibles and we discussed a Moon Knight action figure he possibly had one of that might interest me. My friend Tom of Alliance Comics, Toys, & Games was at the show and loaded up with awesome stuff. As I proceeded to wander through the aisles stuffed with goodies I ran into Vince of VK Toys who had some cool comics I purchased. My favorite was this issue of, "Incredible Hulk," which homages, "Where the Wild Things Are." Here it is:

I went upstairs where a ton of my author and creative friends were. I enjoyed catching up with Jessica Mathews about the latest projects she was working on and chatted with Jennifer Stolzer about her latest work. Lindsay Hornsby had more awesome Princess Pups comics for sale and directed me towards the Mega Giganto website for more cool works by herself and her husband. Amy Hale was at the show too and we talked about how we hadn't seen each other for quite a while! We discussed her new thrilling horror book, "Neurosis," I went back downstairs and browsed some more, finding a neat copy of, "Kid 'N Play," #9 at one vendor's booth. Fans of the, "House Party," movies understand why this was cool to find! Here it is:

Before I left in the early afternoon I saw my chum Phil at his awesome Comic Grind bus. It was great to visit with him too! I clearly got some cool comics at this ToyMan show, saw a bunch of awesome creators, chatted with plenty of super folk, and basically had a ton of fun as I always do! The last ToyMan show of the year will be on December 12th at its usual location of 12365 St Charles Rock Rd, in Bridgeton (63044 is the zip code). Mark the date on your calendar and I just might see you there!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

"Smokin Out the Window," is Absurdly Catchy

When Bruno Mars and Anderson .Pakk teamed up to create the duo known as, "Silk Sonic." I was intrigued. With an intentionally very 70's style and a sound both vintage and modern, I really liked their first song, "Leave the Door Open." Then they brought us, "Skate," which was pleasant if unremarkable. I worried perhaps they wouldn't have anything else to offer as wildly impressive as their debut jam. I was foolish to be concerned, however, as the newest tune they've given us, "Smokin out the Window," is an utter treat. From Bootsy Collins talking at the start to the last note, it's fantastic.

A song about how the men of Silk Sonic did everything for a woman, but it turned out she was doing them wrong, "Smokin Out the Window," is not a happy tune, but it still makes you smile even as they describe how upset they are because it is absurdly smooth and fun. Yes, it turns out they were being cheated on even after giving the woman love, gifts, and all their time, but no matter how much heartbreak they're feeling this song grooves. Now Mars and .Pakk are just stuck sitting by the window, smoking, singing about, "How could she do this to me?" I may hate smoking, but I love this song. Here is the official music video:

Straight fire, this jam is straight fire. Silk Sonic is rad. Yesterday they actually released the whole debut album (kind of an EP as it's 30 minutes, yet it is nine songs)--"An Evening With Silk Sonic." Check it out on your preferred (legal) streaming service.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Disney+ Confirmed and Announced a Slew of New Stuff

Today is what is known as, "Disney+," day, as it's the anniversary of when the service launched. In honor of this, a lot of new stuff is now available to watch. Also, Disney+ confirmed a lot of rumored projects, announced others, and basically got us fans of the streaming service abuzz. We are indeed getting an Agatha Harkness show, an, "Echo," spin-off from, "Hawkeye," "Secret Invasion," is coming, "Moon Knight," as well as, "She-Hulk," had brief-but-intriguing teasers along with, "Ms. Marvel," as well. Oh, and further info was provided about the Obi-Wan show, there's going to be an X-Men cartoon that continues the 90's continuity, and there is going to be a, "Cars," series, because...why not? 

Also oddly announced was the new, "Predator," prequel movie titled, "Prey," It is set in the past and due to its R-rated content will stream on Hulu (skipping theaters altogether). Plenty more was announced and Polygon has it helpfully sorted in this list so you don't have to check out a ton of different sites to see what's what. It looks like lots of good stuff is coming to Disney+ (and Hulu), so I'm excited! Perhaps this will assuage the fears of Wall Street and boost Disney's stock as their streaming growth has slowed lately. Considering multimedia entertainment now makes up 75% of Disney's revenue, movies/games/shows doing well is key

"The Shiatsung Project," is a Fascinating Examination of Loneliness, Desperation, and a Surveillance State Run Amuck

I reached out to Conundrum Press after I saw the solicitation for, "The Shiatsung Project," a couple months ago. They were kind enough to provide a digital copy for review and said I could post my thoughts in November when the book was due to come out. I've now waited and cannot encourage folks enough to read this book. Written and illustrated by Brigitte Archambault with Aleshia Jensen as the English translator (Archambault is French Canadian and the book was released previously in French), the book follows an unnamed woman who has spent her whole life alone with only a computer system known as Shiatsung to keep her company. It provides education, entertainment, food. It guides the woman through cleaning and maintenance, and it keeps her contained in a house with a pool, a little yard, and nothing else but four tall walls.

The woman wonders what could be outside or near. She swears she has heard yelling over the wall before. Shiatsung watches her closely as it seems to see almost everything. Plans are hatched to try to defy Shiatsung, and much of the book follows this woman trying to figure out just what the point of this life she is living actually is. "The Shiatsung Project," can be read literally as a somewhat sci-fi story as well as metaphorically as being a symbolic example of how in our efforts to rely more and more on technology as our source of all our needs we are isolating ourselves from other humans. However you want to interpret it, I loved the book.

Archambault's art is fantastic. Whether showcasing the eerie quiet of the woman's life in this little house or going over-the-top with images of the woman's strange and complex dreams, the book is gorgeous. I mentioned metaphors and, "The Shiatsung Project," is full of visual ones as well. When the woman describes feeling like a robot she is drawn as one, to give one example. It's perfect for the tone and content of the story.

Eventually, the book offers some answers about what exactly is going on, but that mystery isn't really the point so much as telling a very human tale about someone being denied something that makes us human--our ability to communicate and share our thoughts with others. "The Shiatsung Project," is superb and I'd highly encourage reading it!

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Interesting, Quentin Tarantino Loves, "The Thing," As Much as Me

You know an amazing movie? "The Thing." Directed by John Carpenter, it is an amazing flick. It involves a space alien that can pose as anyone and how a bunch of researchers trapped with it at a base in Antarctica react to the situation (things don't go well). John Carpenter directed it, and that fellow made good movies (he's basically retired from filmmaking now). Now, while Quentin Tarintino might occasionally say something a little dumb or tone-deaf, he is a smart guy who loves movies. One movie he loves happens to be, "The Thing." He discussed his fondness for the movie on, "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and it is cool that ol' Quentin and I adore the same amazing piece of cinema so much. Anyways, if you haven't ever watched, "The Thing," I would advise you to do so.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

This Jack in the Box Ad Really Mocks McDonald's With Glee

Jack in the Box has called out competitors such as McDonald's before in ads, tweets, and so forth. That said, this latest one is pretty clever. You can watch it here. As you see, Jack drops off some breakfast food at a mystery house and then throws an egg at the mailbox--a mailbox clearly labeled as, "R. McDonald." The well-known mascot at one point for McDonald's (I'm not sure how much he is used anymore) was the clown Ronald McDonald, so this ad is basically one mascot egging another's house. It's smart, kind of rude, and just simply funny. I always enjoy some friendly throwing of shade between these big fast-food companies, and this was a hoot to see on the television.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Diamond Comics is Having a Bad November

Diamond Comics used to be on top of the comic-book world. They basically had a monopoly on the distribution of comic-books/floppies themselves. Then, as I and others have chronicled, that iron fist crumbled into...iron ashes? I don't know, just roll it. Anyways, the pandemic hit, Diamond stopped distributing comics temporarily, DC used that as an excuse to launch their own distribution partners, then Marvel left Diamond for Penguin Random House, IDW plans to do the same, other publishers are working with Diamond still but also flirting with the other distribution options and--deep breath--it's a big ol' mess. Diamond has been struggling, and then things got worse this month.

Diamond kicked-off November by accidentally sending a retailer-exclusive cover of issue #2 of, "Primordial," to multiple comic shops. Considering, "Primordial," is an Image book and Image is the biggest publisher still with Diamond exclusively for their floppies, you'd think they wouldn't want to make them angry. That was bad, but then things got worse. Diamond's website a couple days ago quit working. Literally, it just didn't work/showed an error message. It turns out they were attacked by ransomware. In the month of Thanksgiving Diamond does not have much to be thankful for, clearly. Comic shipments will now be delayed as everything was shut down at Diamond for some time (thankfully, things seem to be up and running now). 

The thing that gets me about all this is why would someone target Diamond for a ransomware attack now while they're hurting? If you had the tech to do it why did you wait until 2021 as opposed to when they were on top of the market in 2019 or earlier? It's like bursting into one of the last remaining Kmarts and demanding everything in the register. You're going to get maybe three bucks and a half-eaten candy bar. I'm being a little dramatic as Diamond still makes plenty of money with their other divisions of toys/games/etc. but my point stands!

Monday, November 8, 2021

Wishing a Wonderful Birthday to Samii!

Today is my wife's birthday. I am honored she has chosen to spend her birthdays and all the other days in the year with me as her husband. Samii is a wonderful lady and she told me she had a good birthday, so I am happy I was able to contribute to it being a nice day for her. Happy birthday, my love!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

This Variant Cover for, "Moon Knight," #7 is Astounding

Look at that cover right there above this text. That is a cool cover. It's stark, a little scary, and just wild. Rahzzah is the artist and they did a fantastic job. I really like how it is the Mr. Knight outfit but the shadow looks like the classic costume. I don't really have anything else to add, this cover just really struck me (others have remarked how cool it is too). I also am pleased the current run on, "Moon Knight," has been awesome thanks to writer Jed Mackay and artist Alessandro Cappuccio. We don't just get fantastic covers, the comic is stupendous as well. It's a good time to be a Moon Knight fan between this awesome-so-far run and the upcoming (and hopefully great) Disney+ show.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

I Visited the Newly Opened Bug's Comics and Games!

In the past, a man named Larry AKA Bug had a comic shop. He closed it 20 years ago and became a college professor. However, recently he retired from that job and had the urge to reopen in a new location--but with the same name for his store, Bug's Comics and Games. Tim, who used to be an employee those 20 years ago, joined Larry as co-owner. They found a great spot for the store, acquired some comic and toy collections, got set up to sell new stuff, and that brings us to the present day. Cue the triumphant return of Bug's Comics and Games!

Larry (left) and Tim (right).

I didn't live in Saint Louis yet when the first iteration of the store existed, but I was excited to visit it now, shortly after it opened in late October. Larry and Tim are great guys and the store is a treat. There is a lovely assortment of back issues and new stuff, there are toys and popular trading card games too. Whether you want to dig through dollar bins or examine the snazzy key books on the wall it is easy to spend some time checking out all the cool stuff.

Bug's Comics and Games can be found at 1664 Bryan Road in O'Fallon, Missouri (the zip code is 63368). In other words, it is just a bit outside of Saint Louis county so it wasn't too long a drive for me to visit. You can actually buy stuff from them online as well, so if you're not a local reader of my blog you're in luck should you want to purchase comics and have them shipped to you! The site can be found at this link. Give them a visit in-person or online!

Friday, November 5, 2021

Flashback/Film Friday: "Changing Lanes," Was a Great Movie


Roger Michell, best known for directing, "Notting Hill," created one of my favorite movies of all time, "Changing Lanes." Back in 2002 this movie about how a simple car accident can lead to all kinds of mayhem really astounded me. Featuring a young Ben Affleck and younger Samuel L. Jackson, it focused on a lawyer (Affleck) who gets in a fender bender with a man who used to get in all kinds of trouble who is trying to turn his life around (Jackson). The thing is, Affleck's lawyer has a lot of problematic history too and he and Jackson engage in a battle of wits in this movie that is about two men but also a metaphor for race and class. William Hurt has a small role in the film too as Jackson's AA sponsor and he's always a treat in whatever flick he pops up in.

I randomly thought of, "Changing Lanes," the other day when I was thinking about underrated movies. I Googled Roger Michell and discovered he actually died in September of this year. He has one more movie he directed, "The Duke," and it is due for release in 2022. Michel made great movies ("Enduring Love," is another good one that's really weird)and it is a bummer he's gone. I would recommend, "Changing Lanes," to anyone with a hankering for a good thriller that also offers some sharp commentary.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Bad Idea is Sending Readers Rocks. Literal Rocks

In my most recent capsule reviews, I discussed a comic published by Bad Idea and observed how, "...Bad Idea Comics puts out some good stuff and if they let their books speak for themselves without doing dumb P.R. stunts they'd still get plenty of ink written about them for their quality titles. That said, they keep doing weird stuff that overshadows how clever and fun some of their comics are." Well, little did the me of October know just how dumb the P.R. stunts would get.

Bad Idea did a promotion where you could mail in pins to get exclusive comics. These pins are given out to the first people to get the first issue of a new release at a comic store. The company warned there would be other redemption opportunities so folks would maybe want to save their pins. Bad Idea just revealed the latest thing you can redeem a pin for. It is a rock. A literal, unimpressive rock. They might write, "Bad Idea," on it, but that's it.

Unless this is all a trick and people who send in a pin get a rock and something really cool, I must say this is a dumb marketing stunt that serves as a large middle finger to fans of the brand. They say even bad press is good press, but come on, a rock?

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

That New, "Morbius," Trailer Dropped Yesterday. It Looks Decent

It feels like it has been forever since the last, "Morbius," trailer, and it has been because it was nearly two years ago the first teaser was released (truthfully, it was pre-pandemic I think). After numerous delays due to COVID-19, the movie is due in January of 2022--unless something else happens. Sony released a new trailer yesterday for the movie and it looks pretty alright. I know some folks despise Jared Leto for one reason or another (he does get way too method with some of his movies like that miserable take on the Joker in, "Suicide Squad," for example), but I'm okay with him. Here's the trailer:

The biggest takeaways are that this clearly involves some of Spidey's foes with Michael Keaton's Vulture being featured again, Venom being mentioned, and therefore Sony is indeed building its own little MCU-adjacent universe if not being directly in the MCU kinda-sorta. As more Spidey-related character movies come out and once the next Spider-Man flick is released in December this should all become a bit clearer. Continuity questions aside, this looks pretty fun. January tends to be cold, boring, and lacking in movies so this won't help with the cold aspect but might help make things less boring & lacking in entertaining flicks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Empty Shock Value of Johnny Ryan's Latest, "Porn Basket," Comic--A Review

"Porn Basket," is the title of Johnny Ryan's latest work. Released by Fantagraphics Underground (FU) imprint of Fantagraphics, it was limited to just 1,200 or so copies, and the store I ordered it from somehow managed to get a copy for me despite allocations due to a lot more folks than Fantagraphics anticipated wanting this. I've been a minor fan of Ryan's work for years. Sometimes he does something really clever and over-the-top in his works and other times it comes off as desperate to be edgy at the expense of some imaginary person clutching their pearls from offended sensibilities at Ryan's creations. "Porn Basket," is a sketchbook of sorts as opposed to actual comic strips. Everything just takes up a page or a two-page spread. The book also features Ryan, "Going there," as much as he can.

Ryan wants to offend everyone. Liberals, conservatives, white, black, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jewish--anybody you can think of. If this means drawing a satanic symbol on a copy of, "Anne Frank's Diary," while it gets pooped on by Yoda, he'll do it. Well-known meme Pepe the Frog with an erection that looks like a World Trade tower being flown into? Ryan won't shy away from it. Abortion jokes? George Zimmerman as a surreal heroic figure punching youth of color? Ample Nazi symbols just for shucks? Ryan won't hesitate to show them. He's so busy often drawing really offensive stuff it loses any meaning. It's trying to be the wildest and disgusting thing possible but it's little more than empty shock value. Also, he really makes fun of Nickelodeon a lot, making me wonder what his beef is with that channel. Here is maybe the one safe-for-work strip he does at their expense (others are quite bloody or raunchy):

Ryan's going, "What horrible things can I put pen to paper for?" in this sketchbook and that's about it. There is no deeper meaning beyond, "Look at me making fun of Trump/Seth Rogen/Ruth Bader Ginsburg/Leonard Cohen/etc. or, "I have bugs shooting out the orifices of an infant while the parent screams in disgust, aren't I stinker?" Ryan is so busy attempting to disgust us the whole thing is just numbing in its inane grotesque presentation. You're just bored at a certain point, saying, "Oh, this time Ryan combined a 9/11 and bestiality joke by having a first responder at the WTC getting oral sex from an American Eagle. Whatever."

The thing about all this is Ryan really can draw when he wants to. He can make things look realistic, cartoony, or just generally impressive. When he takes a moment to just illustrate a cool castle or show his chops it is a treat. Ryan is a skilled illustrator and when he takes a break from trying to be nasty (or even when he's being nasty) his stuff is usually gorgeous. Look at this amazing sketch of Marvel's Man-Thing for example:

Hence, within, "Porn Basket," we get all style (good drawing) and no substance beyond, "This is some nasty shit!" Ryan excels at drawing things like Trump being surprised at Hillary Clinton forcing him to give her a handjob with a secret penis or portraying a seal with a massive vulva that men can't resist masturbating themselves over, but other than being drawn with skill there just isn't much to this sketchbook. If you want to be able to repeatedly say while stifling a yawn, "Yeah, that's offensive," every time you turn a page in, "Porn Basket," you can try to find a copy in stores or via the internet. You honestly aren't missing much if you skip out on this though. It's for Johnny Ryan completionists only.

2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Image Comics Workers Unionize

In what I believe is a first for the field of comics, the workers of Image have unionized. The freelancers who submit comics they publish are not part of the union as freelancers interestingly cannot unionize in most situations. Known as the Comic Book Workers United, it will work to negotiate on behalf of Image's full-time employees for fair treatment, wages, and basically do what unions are designed to do (I'm pro-union, in case anyone wondered). This could herald some big changes in the field of comics and how those involved are treated. We shall see.