Friday, September 30, 2022

Film Friday: Bassam Tariq is No Longer Directing the New, "Blade," Movie and, "Armor Wars," is Becoming a Movie

Two big pieces of Marvel movie news. First there is the, "Blade," movie. Due to begin shooting in a few weeks it has hit a big hurdle as director Bassam Tariq is now formerly the director of the movie. Yeah, he quit. Phrases such as, "Scheduling conflicts," have been used instead of whatever the truth actually is, but we can all wonder if there were arguments over the script, somebody didn't get along, or whatever else it could be. I've seen some rumors about other possible directors taking over now, but nothing concrete has emerged.

There is word yet on if this will delay, "Blade," and his vampire hunting further, but I still look forward to seeing Mahershala Ali in the role and hope everything works out. While, "Blade," has movie trouble, "Armor Wars," is going from being scheduled as a Disney+ show to a feature flick. There has been little explanation for why it is changing from a show to a movie, but there clearly is some reasoning going on. As long as it isn't canceled and we still get to enjoy Don Cheadle's acting I'm happy. Still, all these sudden shifts make one wonder if things aren't as stable and planned out at Disney/Marvel as we are led to believe.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Google's Stadia Gaming Device is Dead

Remember the Google Stadia? No? You don't recall such a thing? It was a gaming device Google made. Perhaps the fact it didn't make enough of a splash that people recall it much has contributed to the fact Google is shutting it down in January 2023. A bunch of missed potential that looked promising but fell apart, Stadia is further proof that while Google is great at some big stuff, there are failures in its history. May Stadia be remembered with Google Glass (which still kind of exists) and Hangouts (which is good and dead). Oh, and in news that is encouraging, anyone who spent money on Stadia is getting a refund. Props to Google for that.

Happy Meals Marketed Towards Adults Sound Fun! Why Are the Toys So Ugly?

In news that sounds fun, McDonald's is going to have Happy Meals marketed towards adults. They will have more nuggets, larger fries, and a drink. Plus, of course, there will be a special toy. The designer clothing/toy/whatever company known as Cactus Plant Flea Market has produced some toys designed to be both nostalgic and modern, but boy are they ugly.

I get it, sometimes the modern twist on something old is to make it look weird, but just because you can take something and cause it to look ugly that doesn't automatically make it clever or cool--sometimes it is just ugly. What do I know, however? I'm just a cranky 34-year-old and these toys will probably be selling on eBay for triple the cost of an adult Happy Meal in good time. Doesn't make them any less ugly though. I'm still going to buy one for the thrill of a grown-up Happy Meal, even if the toy is going to be gruesome as sin.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Coolio Has Died

Music artist Leon Ivey Jr. AKA Coolio has passed. There is not yet an official cause of death--it is thought to have possibly been a heart attack. Known for a variety of songs such as, "Gangsta's Paradise," a version of, "Fantastic Voyage," the, "Kenan and Kel," theme song, and more, Coolio also was an actor; he appeared in various television programs and movies.

As someone who grew up in the 1990s, I remember when Coolio was massively popular. He wasn't as big a name these days but still kept in the public consciousness, an impressive feat these days. He was 59.

Deadpool AND Wolverine Are Back for, "Deadpool 3." That Sounds Fun!

We've been awaiting news about the third, "Deadpool," movie for quite some time. We also thought Hugh Jackman would never play Wolverine again. Nothing was announced at Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con. Then nothing was revealed at D23. Then, Ryan Reynolds puts out a tweet (of all things) yesterday with a little clip discussing how on September 6th of 2024 we will finally get, "Deadpool 3," and Hugh Jackman will be back to play Wolverine one more time. Another clip today claims to explain everything, but avoids doing so in a silly manner. All this as Deadpool officially enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe (somehow). Yeah, I'm totally down for that.

When I first saw the news it sounded fake, but lo and behold, we're getting Deadpool and Wolverine causing a ruckus. I'm pleased, even if it is basically a whole two years away at this point--that is quite a wait. There will be plenty of other Marvel content while we wait, however, so no worries there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Television Tuesday: Looking Back at Big Brother Season 24

Big Brother just wrapped its 24th season. I've watched the show since, let me check my notes here, ever since the 14th season. I have blogged about it since the 15th season and there have been some fun times and some miserable times. This season was overall solid although it was sorely lacking in players I actually liked and was rooting for. There were some real jerks, some perfectly chill people (the winner Taylor, was nice and played a clever game but I have no strong thoughts on her), and then there was the only player I really dug, Michael. 

Michael was a competition beast. He could do physical comps and mental comps, he kept winning so much stuff! As soon as the house had a chance to get rid of him, they did. I understand why they did that, but it was a bit of a bummer and resulted in the rest of the season kind of petering out. 

Before Michael went home, however, it was an insanely entertaining season between people who played way too hard (hello there, Daniel) and some people who were fun to watch but barely played at all (Alyssa comes to mind). The show really came to a head when the house was split in two and nobody knew what the other half was doing. That was crazy. I had a good time with this season and continue to enjoy the mixture of competitions, the social experiment aspect of all these people locked in a house away from society, and the general fun of cheering on players who are great while eagerly hoping for the, "Eviction," of the rude folks.

Also, I am friends with someone who consults with the show and always get excited when his artwork appears in challenges. His name is Tom Nguyen and he is immensely talented--check out his site. I am excited for the 25th season next Summer and hope the notable anniversary of that occasion gives us another fun season.

4 out of 5 stars for the season overall.

Monday, September 26, 2022

CGC to (Finally) Recognize Newsstand Variants in Their Grading

There was a period of decades where differentiation was made with comics (especially on the cover) about if they were meant to be sold in comic stores (direct market) or at newsstands, drug stores, and so forth (newsstand). At one time, newsstand comics outnumbered direct market copies, but for a lot of years--as the market for comics outside of comic shops shrunk--newsstand variants became less common to outright rarely published. Some people like to specifically collect newsstand variants and depending on the era they are from and their rarity, newsstand variants can command a bit extra value. 

CGC, the most popular grading company, has rarely acknowledged newsstand variants unless there is another thing special about them (like a unique price variant). The biggest grading competitor, CBCS has noted newsstand variants for some time, making them sometimes the preferred company if someone really wants to highlight a comic is a newsstand variant. Well, CGC has finally gone and done it where they'll acknowledge on their slabs if a comic is a newsstand variant. It's about time!

A part of me is happy CGC is finally doing this and another part of me wonders if they know it'll get them some extra funds as plenty of people who already got their comics graded will now send them in for a new case that denotes the newsstand variant--and pay a fee for it. Still, I guess we shouldn't like a gift horse in the mouth. Oh, it is also worth being aware that special, "Multipack," comics will be noted too, although that's arguably an even smaller niche than newsstand collectors. CGC took their time getting to the point of actually noting all newsstand variants, but at least now they're starting to do it.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Mad Magazine Will Return From the Dead--Briefly--to Celebrate its 70th Birthday!

"Mad Magazine," has for all intents and purposes been dead. Anthologies of past material still were coming out but the publication ceased putting out new monthly material in its 67th year of existence. For its 70th birthday, we have a nice surprise in the form of Mad rising from the grave like a zombie or a Jesus who waited 3 years instead of 3 days to return (an edgy joke I thought of that would be at home in Mad as it could have some good biting humor). There will be articles by celebrities celebrating the magazine, some comics, and I'm just happy to have some new, "Mad Magazine," content. The new issue should hit shelves on October 4th and will feature, "70% new material," for $5.99. I know I'll be wanting a copy!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Mountain Dew Purple Thunder is a Massive Disappointment

I like to try random soda flavors. I am sometimes quite impressed and other times disgusted. Mountain Dew has put out an assortment of unique mixes over time and the quality has varied immensely. We haven't had a grape-flavored Mountain Dew for a while but there is currently kinda-sorta one exclusively for sale at Circle K gas stations. Called, "Purple Thunder," it can be bought in bottles or from the fountain. My wife and I had high hopes for Purple Thunder and its berry-plum taste but were let down horribly.

Purple Thunder lacks much of any oomph. When I first sipped it I wondered if the drink was flat. I shook the bottle up and it was good and fizzy, however, so the soda just lacks much of any excitement. It has a weak berry vibe and the taste sensation just kind of shows up, does the bare minimum, and leaves anyone who drank it disappointed. I had hopes for a new Mountain Dew that at least tried to give me some grape sensations, but all my optimism was clearly in vain as Purple Thunder is a disinterested shrug of a soda. Don't bother making a special trip to Circle K to get one, this is a drink you can easily pass on. At least it is barely better than the Flamin' Hot flavor.

1 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Flashback Friday: "Annihilator," Really Was a Snazzy Comic

When folks discuss the works of the great Grant Morrison there are a lot of works to consider. You've got their massively popular stuff such as, "All-Star Superman," "Animal Man," a run on, "Justice League," a bunch of, "Batman," "Invisibles," "Multiversity," a brief tenure at Marvel with the fantastic, "New X-Men," and plenty of other well-regarded projects. There are somewhat-known works that are also fantastic such as my all-time favorite comic, "The Filth." Then you've got deeper cuts that seem to get overlooked such as his mini-series with artist Frazer Irving, "Annihilator." Long since collected in hardcover and trade paperback, the comic follows the story of a screenwriter named Ray Spass as he deals with a terminal diagnosis at the same time as he attempts to finish writing a big blockbuster film starring fan-favorite character Max Nomax. Then Nomax suddenly appears in the real world and things only get stranger.

I quite enjoyed, "Annihilator," when it was coming out and rated the last issue (and basically the series overall) a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It was by no means the absolute best thing Morrison has written, but it was a damn fine comic. I was reminded about the series with a recent article by D. Emerson Eddy of Comicsbeat that had me dig out my old copy of the hardcover. Thinking back on it now I am intrigued it remains a lesser-known work by two fantastic creators. I'd definitely recommend seeking it out if you like when Morrison gets all trippy and weird or enjoy the artistic stylings of Irving.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The First Issue of, "Vanish," is an Entertaining Hodgepodge of Ideas

Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman had a quite successful run on, "Venom," and as a creative team gained a lot of fans. They must have enjoyed working together as now they're bringing us a creator-owned series from Image titled, "Vanish." It is a combination of a ton of ideas that throws everything at the wall trying to see what sticks. It works for the most part although whether it sustains the kitchen-sink approach or falls apart will be seen with future issues. 

This first issue brings us a school of magic in a mystical and technologic wonderland, makes fun of the, "Chosen one," trope, involves superheroes, reveals a dark truth about the superheroes, and gives us a villain who is actually kind of a hero to a foole populace. Basically, the comic what you could get if you jammed, "Harry Potter," "The Boys," "Spawn," "Star Wars," "Invincible," and other stuff I didn't immediately feel the vibe of in a blender and mixed it into a weird but somewhat tasty smoothie.

Oliver Harrison is the aforementioned chosen one who saved the day a long time ago but has been on the lookout for evil forces that still remain. Those forces disappeared forever ago so now he's mostly just miserable and washed-up. It turns out (spoiler) that the heroes in the city are actually the viallins that tried to destroy everything years ago but now in hiding, so its time for Harrison to kill these baddies who vanished all those years ago.

Stegman's art gives off strong 90's Image vibes as other websites observed too. The way the panels are set up, everyone is swearing or edgy, and the heavy uses of chains as a weapon really drives home the retro (I guess the 90s are retro now) sensation. It works though! You'd think so many ideas and story concepts smashed together would be a nasty and formless sludge, but the many turning gears manage to work together and give us an entertaining debut issue. I run hot-and-cold on Cates but I'm hopeful, "Vanish," can continue to use its mish-mash of ideas in a manner that tells a cohernet story. I know with Stegman involved it'll at least look good whether it stays focused or goes off the rails.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Dark Horse Comics to be Distributed by Penguin Random House

Times are changing. DC left Diamond back in 2020 and went with the newly-created Lunar. Later on, Marvel went and signed with Penguin Random House to distribute their comics with Diamond only able to be a wholesaler. Then IDW did it with PRH too. Now, Dark Horse will have its comics and trade paperbacks exclusively sold via PRH starting in 2023, as was announced this morning. It is wild to think before the pandemic hit that Diamond was the sole distributor of single-issue comics and now we've got DC exclusive with Lunar (and smaller publishers with Lunar and Diamond) and Dark Horse joining Marvel and IDW with PRH.

Wildly enough, when Dark Horse switches to PRH in June of 2023 that will make Penguin Random House the biggest distributor of comics in the Direct Market. Diamond will still have a hefty presence in comic and hobby shops thanks to its sales of toys, collectibles, trading card games, and the like, but their monopoly over the comic industry they held so long fell from power shockingly fast. The distribution wars are back with a vengeance--I guess the 90s really are in style again.

Happy 21st of September, a Very Musical Day!

"Do you remember, the 21st night of September?" Well, that'll be happening today. We all know about the song, "September," thanks to the fantastic musical group Earth, Wind, & Fire. It has been covered by a variety of artists to varying success, but for my money, the original is best. Here it is below:

Make the most of this special day!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"Moon Knight: Black, White, & Blood," Was a Decent Little Mini-Series

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am a huge fan of, "Moon Knight." The current series has been fantastic and after some other characters received the, "Black, White, & Blood," treatment, Moon Knight finally get it too. As for what, "Black, White, & Blood actually is," Wolverine, Deadpool, and Elektra all got their own mini-series where the gimmick is how everything is just black-and-white or red before my man Moon Knight. As this is an anthology series there generally are three stories per issue and the quality can vary widely--which is precisely what happened with this series.

Every issue at least looked good as Moon Knight lends himself well to black-and-white with splashes of red when he's being particularly violent. Only two stories really stuck out to me from everything, however. In the first issue, Jonathan Hickman and Chris Bachalo have a bonkers story about a Moon Knight in the future that is so full of crazy ideas and artwork that it really grabs one's attention. In the fourth and final issue, Christopher Cantwell and Alex Lins give us a tale about a surreal and weird, "Game," Moon Knight seems to play many nights.

Those two stories are great, but nothing else sticks out to me as especially great or awful. I think the issue is some of the tales are busier only taking advantage of the unique color scheme to the degree the story suffers, or have the opposite problem where a decent enough story is told but the specifically black, white, and red artwork feels like an afterthought. I don't mean to sound overly harsh on this anthology comic as it was enjoyable enough, but it just goes to show how hard it is to have an anthology title because when you combine a bunch of shorter stories, some are bound to be solid and others are mostly forgettable.

"Moon Knight: Black, White, & Blood," gave us an enjoyable four issues of stories even if most of them failed to really astound. There are two strong tales at least and the whole thing looked quite beautiful. Worth reading if you're a die-hard Moon Knight fan or enjoy seeing artists play with the form thanks to the unique color scheme, but not at all absolutely required reading. I'd rate this overall mini-series...

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Chapter Two of, "Reanimator Incorporated," is Another Stupendous Issue!

I read and quite enjoyed the first chapter of, "Reanimator Incorporated." Written by Andrew Perry with art by Lyndon White, the series follows a large corporation in the somewhat-near future trying to figure out how to bring back the dead and make a profit from it. At the end of the last issue, Dr. Herbert West's son, Michael, died in a lab accident. This issue spends most of its time between Dr. Herbert West and Dr. Dan Cain trying to figure out how to bring him back and keep him stable as well as Michael in a nether realm of sorts attempting to find his way back to his body.

This issue has a lot more supernatural elements with Michael somewhat undead and something else evil trying to infiltrate his body and come alive. The surreal stuff balances nicely with the sci-fi as Perry and White give us a fascinatingly thoughtful and at times creepy story. This series draws from the HP Lovecraft story, "Herbert West: Reanimator," but stands alone as its own superb tale--one I highly recommend.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

"Grand Theft Auto VI," Has a Massive Hack and Leak Right as I'm Getting Back Into the Last Game's Online Mode

I hadn't played, "Grand Theft Auto V," since it was a PlayStation 3 game. I was able to pick it up for cheap for the PS5 and dipped my toe into the online mode. It was fun even if it was also overwhelming with the sheer amount of stuff you can do. Back when I first played GTAV the online mode felt absolutely undercooked, now its the big selling point. I figured I'd dip my toes back into GTAV as while it was revealed a sixth entry was in the works, it was still a good way off. I didn't think we'd get much of any information about, "Grand Theft Auto VI," for at least another year if it wasn't due to release until 2024 at the earliest. Then a massive hack and leak occur.

Somebody did a virtual break-in of sorts and got access to the Slack app account of Rockstar and the developers making GTAVI. This person used this opportunity to get a bunch of gameplay videos, possible source codes, and all kinds of sensitive information. What they did is no doubt illegal, but lots of folks don't care and just want to see the videos even if in the end,, as Catherine Castle at RPS puts it this, "...benefits precisely no one." This is true, all we are seeing is a bunch of in-development data and no-context gameplay clips. It is exciting in a way to witness something we, "Aren't supposed to see yet," or even view at all, but what was the point? 

The leaked videos show a clearly in-progress game.

Everyone knows GTAVI is in the works, who is this for? Those of us curious about how development is going? People just wanting the thrill of getting a looksie at stuff? It's just an unfortunate mess, like when the source code leaked for, "Half-Life 2," back in the day, but development will carry on, and eventually, we'll get GTAVI to enjoy.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

"Shed," is One of the Best Graphic Novels I Have Read This Year

"Shed," is a graphic novel currently being Kickstarted by my friends over at Blue Fox Comics. Written by Richard Fairgray and Lucy Campagnolo with Fairgray as the artist too, it is one of the best original graphic novels I have read this year. A mixture of a slice-of-life yarn in a small town but with a hefty dose of magical realism, "Shed," is about a 20-something named Amber who moves to her Father's hometown to take over his shop after his sudden passing (he literally fell in a hole and died). 

Amber gets embroiled in the drama between a woman named Fran and a group of women who like to think they run the town. All the while, the legend of a sea monster used to attract tourists looms large as a metaphor for whether it is more of an attraction or a warning about being stuck someplace with nowhere to go.

The words and art work together in beautiful unison. Whether it is a moment in the shop showing the sheer amount of stuff, the intricately wrinkled faces of the elderly women in town, or a surreal moment where water seems to flood into an intense conversation as if drowning both participants in their rage (it's a clever metaphor), it all is fantastic.

I really enjoyed, "Shed," and how it makes a variety of small-town squabbles carry a bunch of emotional weight and provides little twists and turns to the story that gives everything a slightly fantastical sensation when out-of-the-ordinary events occur. It's a fantastic book and one I'd recommend Kickstarting now while the campaign is ongoing or if you're reading this post after the book is published you can always buy it from Blue Fox Comics directly or request for your favorite comic shop/bookstore to order it. Anyway, as is obvious from my glowing review, I'd rate, "Shed," as being...

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Film Friday: "Constantine 2," with Keanu Reeves is Actually Happening

Rumors swirled for a while that the different-but-still-good take on John Constantine that Keanu Reeves supplied us with in the simply titled, "Constantine," could get a sequel. An underappreciated version of the character, even the comics sometimes acknowledged differing versions of the character (including this version) could exist. Getting an actual sequel seemed like a long shot, even if Peter Stormare (who played Satan) seemed to let slip something was in the works back in 2020. Well, as of today, Deadline has confirmed, "Constantine 2," and I'm pleased! 

The original movie was all the way in 2005 with Reeves as the star and Francis Lawrence making his directorial debut. Both are back in those roles and I'm intrigued to see what this version of John Constantine may have been up to in the nearly two decades since he last graced the screen. Maybe some other DC characters will even be involved, for all we know. Warner Brothers Discovery is a bit of a mess right now, so at least we got something good out of the company alternating between canceling stuff and throwing whatever it can at the wall to see what sticks.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Shout Out to Dick Bowser--Inventor of the Gateway Arch Tram--on What Would Have Been His 101st Birthday

I live in the Saint Louis region and often see our famous Gateway Arch. It is basically a rule anytime someone is in the car with me and the Arch is visible I point it out and say, "There's the Arch." I have been up inside the Arch and enjoyed the great view, but to get up there you need to ride a unique elevator of sorts (there are stairs for an emergency but that would be a nightmarish walk). The Arch tram was invented by Dick Bowser and the complex system is quite the marvel of engineering. Bowser's life story and his creation of the tram is a good read and today would have been his 101st birthday (Bowser passed in 2003). I just wanted to give him some props as I would have quite some trouble climbing all those stairs if I wanted to reach the top of the Arch as opposed to enjoying his unique tram.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

"Bad Habit," is a Strange and Catchy Tune

I had some familiarity with Steve Lacy due to his time with the musical group, "The Internet," and their albums some years ago. A skilled guitarist, I hadn't followed his solo work much, but plan to rectify that mistake. You see, a song that one would think is too weird and crazy has become a huge hit--"Bad Habit." It is melodic, minimalist at some points, psychedelic at others, and just good fun. It is a single from his album that came out this year, "Gemini Rights." I've been listening to that LP and it has other great tunes too which are also off-kilter and unique. Here is, "Bad Habit," on the off-chance you have not heard it:

I'd recommend listening to the rest of, "Gemini Rights," too, and exploring Lacy's work with, "The Internet," if you haven't listened to them previously. It is all very enjoyable stuff.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Television Tuesday: "Westworld," Season Four

The first season of, "Westworld," was fascinating but felt like a ton of build-up. The second season delivered basically everything I wanted and was amazing. Then we had a messy but entertaining third season (some folks hated it even if I thought it was alright). Now, the fourth season has wrapped as of a couple weeks ago and I've taken some time to think about it. Overall, I would say it isn't as fantastic as the second season but is without a doubt a return to form in terms of being entertaining and at least making a semblance of sense. Spoilers follow this paragraph, so be warned.

"Westworld," loves to play around with our sense of time, doesn't it? The first and second seasons did it a ton and the third mostly avoided that technique, but after the fourth season seemed really straightforward at first, it threw us a big juicy curveball at the halfway point of the season. It turned out a good half of the show was taking place 20-ish years ago from the present and the, "Bad guys," as they were had already won. Tessa Thompson's kinda-Dolores-kinda-Hale had turned almost all the remaining humans into slaves for robots/hosts with the assistance of a host-version of the Man in Black/William/the always deliciously villainous Ed Harris. 

Aaron Paul gets a lot more to do this season of, "Westworld," as Caleb and if I could offer one major complaint it would be Evan Rachel Wood does a ton less and is mostly removed from...well, everything, that occurs within this season (the excuse is that she's basically hooked into the city writing storylines for the humans, but I would've liked Dolores (or, "Christina," as she is now called) to have a bit more of an impact on this going-ons this season. Jeffery Wright and Luke Hemsworth make a fantastic duo as the all-business Bernard and jokey Stubbs, and Thandie Newton's Maeve continues to be a superb character as well. Yes, Westworld has always been a show absolutely packed to the gills with a stupendous cast. I'm just glad this latest season has a stronger plot for them to portray.

Oh, I didn't even mention how pleased I was that James Marsden's Teddy Flood (or at least a kinda-sorta version of him) is back after missing out on the 3rd season. I also was a big fan of new cast member Aurora Perrineau who plays, "C," and is later revealed to be the adult version of Frankie, Caleb's daughter (again, the timelines can be wild on this show). Ariana DeBose is superb as Delores/Christina's roommate too, even if she ends up barely utilized in the rest of the show outside of the city simulation Dolores/Christina made for herself. Assuming the show gets a fifth season (I worry about that with so many shows getting canceled at HBO MAX), maybe she can come back and do a bit more.

With so many characters, "Westworld," does quite the juggling act letting everyone get some scenes in whilst telling its increasingly twisty story of hosts not just rebelling against humans, but totally turning the tables. If you don't like weird and sometimes convoluted sci-fi then, "Westworld," has never been the show for you. However, should you not mind a sometimes-confusing-but-quite-fun ride this program almost always fits the bill.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 12, 2022

I'm Going to DVR the Emmy Awards Tonight For A Single Reason: Kenan Thompson

I am a fan of Kenan Thompson. I've followed him from his days on, "All That," to, "Kenan and Kel," the, "Good Burger," movie, being a mainstay on, "Saturday Night Live," appearing in multiple other movies, and now having his quite funny sitcom, "Kenan." The man is a great actor (not just in comedy, but he excels at it), and a cool dude. 

I am known for not being a huge fan of award shows and considering them one big exercise in people doing navel-gazing and patting themselves on the back. Still, Kenan is cool so I'm going to at least DVR the Emmys in order to rewatch it later and fast-forward to any segments with Kenan. I doubt anything as interesting as what happened at the Oscars will occur, but it should be a fun show with Kenan involved.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The 2022 D23 Expo Has Announced a Lot

 

D23 is a big Disney event and it has been stacked this year. We've got announcements about all kinds of, "Star Wars," properties, the latest and last, "Indiana Jones," flick, plus a whole bunch of Marvel content. We've got a trailer for, "Secret Invasion," a cast announcement for, "Thunderbolts," and we saw "Armor Wars," which is reconfirmed along with more info on, "Ironheart," too. Tim Blake Nelson from the 2008, "Incredible Hulk," movie is even coming back as The Leader to fight Anthony Mackie's Cap in, "Captain America: New World Order."

There is a full trailer for, "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur," and in the news that has me the most excited due to how it looks cool, "Werewolf by Night," is getting a Halloween special this October 7th with Man-Thing involved as well! Even more than what I've said has been shown off ("Willow," has a trailer for its return), and Disney clearly has a ton of content to continue making and releasing--yes, even more of James Cameron's, "Avatar." I mean, I'm sure someone is really excited about that.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Alright, the Saint Louis Loop Trolley is Kind of Cute

In Saint Louis there is a popular area known as, "The Loop." It has lots of restaurants, stores, and other fun stuff. Some years ago they tore a bunch of the street up to have a trolley that ran from the Loop over to the Missouri History Museum. Everyone hated the idea and the trolley was a flop. It quit running 2019 because it was hemmoarging money. Then, Saint Louis was informed if they didn't run the trolley a whole bunch of government funds that were given to the region to build the trolley would be owed back. 

Therefore, not too long ago the trolley came back and now is running on its little track for free till October 30th. I assume come that date they'll try to charge for the trolley to little success or just shut it down again until the government threatens consequences. Clearly, I am being very snarky about the trolley, and if you look around online or ask people in the STL region you'll find plenty of other folks who have been against the thing from the start. I actually was in the Loop on a day the trolley was running this week, however, and it actually is kind of...cute?

Yes, the Loop Trolley is more of a kitschy thing for tourists than actually useful as a form of mass transit, but it is kind of fun to see passing by. I snapped the pictures you see in this article and it is kind of neat to witness the trolley. It still is reviled by many, but at least it has a bit of visual charm.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Flashback Friday: Did Anyone Ever Eat Fun Dip the, "Proper," Way When They Were a Kid?

I was at the grocery store the other day and noticed Fun Dip. A classic treat from the Ferrara Candy Company (although Wonka owns it as of 2018), the idea behind it is cute. You lick a stick made out of sugar so it gets wet, stick it in a packet of powerdery sugar, get that sugar on your other stick of sugar, and lick it off. Repeat the process until everything is gone and you're all set! 

The thing is, I never ate Fun Dip the way you're supposed to. I don't know anyone who ever did. All of my friends would just bite into the sticks and eat them, then pour the dip out of the packet and down our throats like eagerly over-sugared baby birds. I honestly am curious, did anyone as a kid ever eat Fun Dip as the company intended? These are the things that I think about when I'm trying to mediate and relax but my brain always refuses to go down without a fight.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Apparently GameStop Wants to Wiretap Customers

You know how when you call customer service or talk over chat you're informed a conversation might be recorded, but it is just for employee training purposes (or in case you're a jerk and they need to show why they hung up on you/closed the chat). It is understood a company won't sell data from a talk to a third-party company for any reason because that would be unethical and illegal, right? Well, Gamestop hears your concerns and isn't just selling used video-games and NFTs, they're also selling conversations with customers! Yes, wiretapping is the latest innovation from GameStop, how lovely.

Data is valuable. If you could know that a bunch of people who play a specific video-game also like a certain brand of soda, that random fact could benefit a company thinking about cross-promotions or such, to give a single example. That said, you can't just harvest data from people without permission. When someone gets a loyalty card with a grocery store that tracks their purchases they agreed for that data to be used (and at least made anonymous). Gamestop apparently didn't choose to inform folks the personal information they disclose in customer service chats might be recorded (and then sold), so that's a problem. I'm sure it was all a big misunderstanding as GameStop is such a lovely company to work for or shop with, right? Right?

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Bad Idea Comics is at it Again, But Do People Care Anymore?

Bad Idea Comics burst onto the scene with lots of press and fanfare for doing odd promotions of their comics that were, well, a bad idea. Stores had to sign up to directly distribute their titles, customers could get pins and redeem them for rewards (some cool, some stupid), and in all the hustle and bustle it was kind of ignored how the comics were actually pretty good. All the weird promotional efforts really overshadowed that. Bad Idea faked its death or something and now is back with a promotion where--only today--customers can blindly preorder a bunch of comics for $120 or so dollars and get a special sticker that can redeem another reward--in a manner like the company did before. The thing is, fewer comic stores are taking part in Bad Idea now and I'm seeing minimal buzz from former fans about the company. Do people care anymore?

All I have is anecdotal evidence, but I spoke with comic stores that worked with Bad Idea and aren't anymore. The overwhelming consensus among these stores was the company left a bad taste in their mouth. Weird rules, forcing them to order a ton of books they got stuck with, and a bunch of extra busywork all made multiple stores I talked to choose to opt out of doing anything with Bad Idea for its latest efforts. I'm seeing a ton less social-media chatter or general acknowledgment of Bad Idea mattering much too. They put a little secret comic in the latest issue of, "Previews," magazine (#408), and it was reported by some websites to the degree folks tried to flip issues of the magazine on eBay, listing it for wild numbers. I'm seeing some issues of the magazine selling for less than it costs to ship them. Perhaps the thrill is gone from Bad Idea? 

I could be wrong about folks losing interest in Bad Idea and this latest round of comics is going to get a ton of hype, but has it ever really been about the comics or more the crazy promotions folks have apparently tired of? I wonder if, in the end, it will turn out Bad Idea Comics was just that, a bad idea for comics. Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

"Flashpoint: Beyond," Has Been a Fun Series

The fifth of sixth (honestly sixth of seventh) and therefore the penultimate issue of, "Flashpoint: Beyond," is out in some stores today and the rest tomorrow (DC comics come out on Tuesday is stores choose to put them out then). It interestingly enough seems to spoil, "Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths," before it even finishes, but that's okay as we basically knew the Justice League who seemed dead would be back. I was a big fan of, "Flashpoint," itself even if the New52 it created was hit-or-miss. Therefore, the return of the Flashpoint universe for this event has been pretty fun. 

We've witnessed as Thomas Wayne (who is aware this World shouldn't exist) has struggled to solve a number of mysteries and at the same time, Bruce Wayne has clearly been involved and upsetting those who control time travel. Geoff Johns, Jeremy Adams, and Tim Sheridan have all collaborated on the series with Eduardo Risso doing the #0 issue's art and Mikel Janin and Xermanico doing the rest of the series. There has been ample discussion of the, "Rules," of the DC Universe with its realities and time-space continuum, a clock-themed serial killer, and plenty of alternate-universe shenanigans. I look forward to the finale when it arrives in some weeks. I'm suspicious (in a good way) that this may lead to a whole different series involving Thomas Wayne and/or the Flashpoint Universe, but we shall see.

5 out of 5 stars (for issues #0-#5).

Television Tuesday: "Saturday Night Live," Lost a Lot of Cast Members Before This Latest Season

I enjoy, "Saturday Night Live." Some episodes (or whole seasons, frankly) are great and others are awful. The cast had gotten quite massive lately too, but a lot of folks are leaving or being laid-off/politely fired. We already knew about Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, and Pete Davidson dipping out of the show, but now Melissa VillaseƱor, Alex Moffat, and Aristotle Athari are gone. All three have me bummed for various reasons.

Melissa VillaseƱor rarely seemed to get good opportunities on SNL to showcase her amazing impressions, range of talent, and general weird vibe that could give us some wild sketches when she was able to break out. Alex Moffat often played the serious character or sleazeball and did a solid job at it. Aristotle Athari was a supporting cast member who basically never had an opportunity to do much outside of maybe two skits I remember him in (one where he sang a weirdly repetitive song and another time where he was a robot who did stand-up comedy during Weekend Update). I'm not sure who left and who was told to go, but I hope everything was amicable.

We lost two people SNL didn't really know how to utilize well and one person that was a solid cast member even if he lacked a particularly notable character. The show still has plenty of people in the cast and doubtlessly will have some new folks joining in this season as well. I just hope everyone who has left the show finds success in their future endeavors.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Remember Who to Thank This Labor Day

As I've said before when we're all enjoying Labor Day here in America, don't forget who to thank. Namely, unions. As, "CBS Sunday Morning," discussed in a recent segment, unions are on the rise again in America as workers are seeing how important they still are--especially with the rise of the latest mega-corporations. Unions are why you even have a weekend, let alone an extended weekend. Enjoy Labor Day if you're here in the United States this weekend, and make sure you thank unions.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

They Went and Made a, "Slime," Cereal

Kellogs has an Apple Jacks cereal that turns milk, "Slime green." It still has the apple flavor but makes your milk look like slime, basically. This is disgusting and kind of genius. Folks are used to their milk turning chocolatey, but green is always a weird little gimmick. This isn't the first time a cereal has intentionally turned milk green, but doing it in a way that makes us think of slime is creative, in a kind of nasty way. I saw it at the store but didn't buy it as I was in a rush. I might get it the next time I see it due to my curiosity about weird things.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

A Quick Statement on the, "Banning," of Books

There seems to really be a push currently to, "Ban," books/comics/etc. from libraries or being taught in schools. If you're that upset about your children or even other adults learning about race, LGBTQ+ subjects, or simply questioning your family's beliefs, then maybe you need to take a long look in the mirror about why the things you hold so dear could crumble like a house of cards if people read a book questioning what you think. 

Throughout history the people who tried to ban or burn books were the bad guys, so look at the side where you currently are choosing to stand and think about what it means. It isn't about protecting people from, "Explicit materials," or, "Questionable views." It is about preventing anyone from learning an alternative to what you believe is true. Again, if you're that worried exposure to other views will, "Harm," children or adults, who hold a different view, maybe that belief needs to be challenged even more.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Film Friday: Why Would You Lie to Us With a New, "Friday the 13th," Tease Like That?

"Friday the 13th," as a franchise has apparently been in legal Hell (unrelated to when Jason went to Hell) due to fights over the rights. For a moment it looked like something had been figured out, however. Hints were being dropped that a new film starring Jason Voorhees could be coming, but it was all for naught. New Line Cinema had a faux-Instagram alert that Jason Voorhees wanted to send a message to people. It got lots of folks excited. Then New Line Cinema revealed they were just having a bit of fun. Fun? Is it honestly that fun to play with my emotions and hope for a new, "Friday the 13th," and then leave me feeling let down and dejected? I imagine something is in the works, but it won't be announced immediately soon, most likely. What a bummer.

The New, "Saint's Row," is Perfectly Fine--No More, No Less

I love the old, "Saints Row," games. I've rambled about the first game, how much I enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd, and had a ball with the 4th too. Now there is the reboot in the series, simply titled, "Saints Row." It has launched to mixed reviews with some saying it is quite buggy, lacks the magic of the zanier entries, and otherwise is okay but far from amazing. I played a chunk of it and it is perfectly fine. I haven't played enough to offer a review, mind you, but what I have played is nice and decent.

If you want an open-world game with a variety of little tasks, vehicles to steal, and some humorous missions with fun characters, you could so worse than this newest, "Saints Row." I know some folks have been mad that classic characters are gone, but I haven't thought of the franchise as being defined by its characters so much as a general fun vibe and at times silly attitude (or extremely silly with the fourth game and its aliens/superpowers/and so forth). There is fun to be had with, "Saints Row," even if it isn't wildly amazing. It is entertaining without exceeding expectations. I'm not trying to damn with faint praise by any means, but as I keep repeating almost like a mantra: It is perfectly fine. Give it a try, just keep that in mind.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

It's September, Time For My Favorite Meme About the Month

It is September, so I have to share my favorite meme relating to the month. Here it is:

That seal plays a mean sax. Seriously though, October is my favorite month so please do wake me up when September ends.