Sunday, April 30, 2023

This Newest Edition of, "The Agency," by Katie Skelly is Superb

I've reviewed a number of stellar works by Katie Skelly, and back in 2018 I gave a glowing review of her short stories that were part of, "The Agency." Originally webcomics on the feminist and sex-positive site, Slutist, the stories centered on mysterious agents who often found themselves in fantastical and sexual situations. Whether getting a massage from a living skeleton in outer space or infiltrating a BDSM-styled secret base in the jungle, the stories were all quite fun, funny, and a bit erotic without being especially graphic or raunchy. I am pleased that, "The Agency," has now been republished and includes a new extra story featuring a boring date (they're obsessed with cryptocurrency) that takes a saucy turn thanks to one of the well-known, "Agents," arriving at a nightclub.

Katie Skelly recently did an interview with Dustin Holland at CBR discussing, "The Agency," as well as her other works. It's an interesting piece and gives some fun insight into the creative process that went into making the short story-styled pieces that make up the book--including the new sorry in the collection I mentioned. Hearing Skelly say she was nervous to do the original strips in, "The Agency," is interesting because the stories themselves feature characters so intriguingly self-assured and full of confidence. You don't seek any hesitation on the page, you just marvel at how superb each piece is. I continue to be as big a fan of, "The Agency," in 2023 as I was when the first stories were released online and then printed. I'm ecstatic these pieces have a new edition (with that new story) so that even more people can check out, "The Agency," and enjoy how wild it is!

5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

"Worldtr33," #1 is Off to a Scary and Strong Start

James Tynion IV has written quite a number of hit comics and has teamed with skilled artist Fernando Blanco to give us quite the creepy debut issue for, "Worldtr33." Published by Image, it was delayed/recalled due to a printing issue but now it is officially out. It follows a secret part of the world wide web known as the Undernet--and the danger it poses. There's a strange naked woman named PH34R who seems to be in its thrall and other folks exposed to it also become quite... unwell. The Undernet was stopped once before in 1999 and sealed away thanks to something called Worldtr33. However, in very-near-future 2024 it is back.

"Worldtr33," is extremely violent, super creepy, and sets up quite the mystery of how exactly the Undernet was discovered and if it can be stopped (as well as how bad things will be should it spread). Blanco's artwork really shines, especially in the segments where people are first, "Exposed," to the Underweb and the styling gets all scratchy and weird like a VHS tape skipping. One can only wonder just how twisted things might get as the series continues and more is revealed about the Undernet and if, "Wordltr33," can stop it. It's going to be a twisty ride.

4 out of 5 Stars.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Funko Friday: The "Funko Fusion," Game Looks Weird; Could it Actually Work?

I enjoy the Lego video-games and was a fan of how a variety of shows/movies/properties could be mashed-together and interact in, "Lego Dimensions." Putting a bunch of random pop-culture concepts together and playing with them can be entertaining if it is done well enough (e.g. the game needs to be engaging and not suck). Hence, when I see the trailer for, "Funko Fusion," it looks like a lot of random stuff gets represented. It also makes me think of those Lego games and gives me some hope this Funko-related title could actually be fun if the developer, 10:10 Games, knows what they're doing. That, or we'll simply get what Zack Zwiezen of Kotaku called a, "Baffling creation." Perhaps it could be both a weird mish-mash of stuff and kind of fun--or am I too optimistic? The comment section on a site like Polygon where the new game is being discussed is less than positive, so perhaps many people are just fed up with Funko's products clogging-up shelves (and sometimes landfills). We'll know at some point in 2024 when, "Funko Fusion," is due to release. Even if it is awful, seeing there might be a level themed for the movie, "The Thing," is kind of fun.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Oh Dear, IDW is Possibly Collapsing

I've written a number of times regarding my concerns when it comes to the entertainment company IDW and its publishing division. They've put out a lot of great comics over the years but have also been struggling. As of today, the crap has hit the fan. 39% of the staff (so basically 2/5th was laid-off and the company took itself off the New York Stock Exchange. Essentially all of PR/Marketing and half of Editorial were shown the door. The remaining staff is apparently making sure anyone creating comics or doing other business endeavors with IDW should not worry. The company is not imploding and this is just a massive reorganization...or so they say. Can IDW be saved? Will this serve as the moment where things turn around or just delay the end of IDW? I honestly don't know. I just hope anyone who did lose their job in this purge is able to find another one without too much difficulty.

Jerry Springer Has Passed

Jerry Springer has passed after keeping a cancer diagnosis private. He was 79. I wrote a retrospective back in 2018, when, "The Jerry Springer Show," officially ended. I discussed its impact on American culture and how edgy it seemed at the time. It made it apparent that even if you thought most people were, "Normal," that actually many of folks had kinks. In some ways, it contributed to normalizing frank discussion of sexuality. It also didn't get enough credit as a show for--as I discussed in my old post, It, "...spotlit things people didn't want to talk about that needed to be addressed. America's hidden little corners of Neo-Nazism and White Supremacy were covered by the program, with Jerry Springer himself almost once physically fighting a guest who made a disgusting comment about Springer's relatives who died in the Holocaust. Back before this current era where these people now sadly feel safe to emerge and spread hate, we needed a program like, 'The Jerry Springer,' show of all possible programs to shine a bright light on these horrible hateful groups and expose them for the morons they were." Sometimes the show was funny, sometimes it was shocking, and it was always engaging to some degree for the long period of time it ran (almost three decades). 

Springer wasn't just his show though. He worked for Robert F. Kennedy in his youth, served in political office himself (he was mayor of Cincinnati), and was an all-around smart and nice guy who at one point had a show he would readily admit was quite silly but also entertaining. Springer and the outrage he managed to cause in the 1990s almost seems quaint now compared to what pops up on television shows and social media streams. In some ways, he captured lightning in a bottle and managed to make himself a pop-culture mainstay for a whole generation that grew up watching him (even if many parents tried to forbid their children/teens from tuning in). Jerry Springer was someone who made an impact on society thanks to an, "Unapologetically brash," show and general playful attitude about life. He always told us, "Take care of yourself and each other." It still is some great advice from a man who oversaw a show all about people making bad decisions.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Missouri's Attorney General Has Basically Made it Illegal to be Transgender

Update: A Missouri judge has temporarily blocked the rule from going into effect. Hopefully, it can be struck down soon.

The right-wing politicians were going after gender-affirming care for those under 18. They said it was about protecting, "Confused kids," and that they'd never dream of trying to prevent adults from making healthcare decisions. If someone were over 18 of course they could get care to have their body match their gender. I and others said that was a lie and saying they were, "Protecting the children," as an excuse would lead to the persecution of Trans adults. Well, the Missouri Attorney General, Andrew Bailey, has made it so that anyone who isn't already receiving gender-affirming care will have to jump through a ton of hoops to get hormones, surgery, etc. The rule goes into place this week. They'll have to have years of documentation, be able to prove they don't have depression or autism (because apparently having autism means you can't also be Trans) and give up any medical privacy to get the care they need. It is basically illegal in Missouri to be Transgender, and that's not hyperbole. 

If someone is already getting care they are exempt from these new rules, in theory, but it is only a matter of time before further attempts are made to persecute anyone who is Trans and trying to do anything to affirm their gender. This rule will most likely be challenged and struck down because folks have pointed out that even a cisgender woman getting a breast implant could count as gender-affirming care and fall under these bogus rules. Still, in the meantime, a bunch of children and adults will suffer. The hateful Conservatives who claim to want personal liberty for everyone will continue to strip Transgender individuals of any rights and then they'll continue their quest and go after anyone who falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella (it astounds me to see some Gay Men and Women essentially shrug with indifference at what is happening to our Trans friends as if they aren't next in the political crosshairs). It's a mess and I'm disgusted with many politicians in our State and will work with others to make sure Andrew Bailey is kicked out of office as soon as his position can be voted upon again. It saddens me that until this rule is struck down or he's gone so many people will suffer due to this man's hatred. It stinks, simple as that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

In News That Kind of Surprised Me, The, "Kraven," Movie is Going to be Rated R

Superhero movies (especially Marvel ones) as of late tend to be strictly PG-13 affairs. People get shot but there isn't a ton of blood. Characters kiss but never get naked. The word, "Fuck," is only hinted-at or maybe spoken once. There are exceptions in the form of cheeky ol' Deadpool and the movie, "Logan," was extremely R-rated. Those weren't even in the MCU, however, so until, "Deadpool 3," that is still all PG-13 or so Universe. Oh, and the recent, "Suicide Squad," was a DC endeavor as well as the, "Joker," movie--so maybe DC is testing the waters with edgier stuff, but this post is mainly about Marvel-related projects. Anyway, Sony has its own take on a chunk of Marvel characters affiliated with Spider-Man and it seems they've decided to let the, "Kraven," adaptation move in a decidedly violent direction. Yep, it is gonna be rated R.

Kraven--in the comics--is a famous hunter who decides to hunt Spider-Man. At one point he killed himself after thinking there is nothing left to hunt but he was brought back because almost nobody stays dead in comics. He's still kicking around the comics now, occasionally getting in fights with heroes or such. The movie will apparently have him as more of a defender of animals, hunting poachers instead of the critters they want to kill. Some preview footage was shown at an event known as, "CinemaCon," and it featured Kraven brutally killing dudes and even biting a nose off. Apparently, another Spidey villain, Rhino, is hinted at too. 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Kraven.
And no, you're not crazy, he was also the MCU's Quicksilver.

The footage hasn't leaked or anything so we're all going by anecdotes from people who saw the clips, but I'm just surprised a violent comic-book flick is happening like we're back in the era of, "Blade," "Punisher: War Zone," or the so-so, "Watchmen," movie. Now, it is easy for movies with superheroes to be violent, but I wonder if Sony will shy away from anything too sexual because American audiences do love watching gore but can't stand the sight of a nipple. I wouldn't imagine Sony plans to push the envelope that much. Time will tell if we get to watch Kraven brutally murder poachers and swing his dong around though. That would be an interesting bullet point when they're hyping the production, for sure.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Twitter in April 2023 Has Become Pure Chaos

Remember when news involving Twitter was more about what people said on Twitter than the site itself? Yeah, those days weren't exactly good (Donald Trump's Presidential tweets were horrific) but at least were different than now when news involving Twitter is simply about Twitter. This all began when a man who is so rich in money but apparently so poor in getting the attention he craves--Elon Musk--took over the site. As soon as Musk assumed control, the entity we know as Twitter started imploding. Things have only gotten worse in the months since.

Musk introduced the idea that unless you pay him money you'll lose your blue checkmark. If you didn't have a blue checkmark, you can pay to get one. Blue checkmarks were never some kind of special status symbol beyond helping people who were known for something or the other to be able to prove the account was the person claimed and not some kind of impersonator. With the ability for anybody to pay $8 and get a blue check, it has already resulted in mayhem, especially as the celebs/politicians/organizations that had blue checkmarks refuse to pay. At this point, having a blue checkmark is now more embarrassing than it is proof of anything. Nicole Carpenter of Polygon has called it, "Twitter's de-verification debacle." I think that's honestly a little too kind. This is a status-mark shitshow, and boy is it getting messy. 

Musk, presumably plotting his next horrible idea.

Stephen King was a loud opponent of the blue checkmark costing money and randomly kept his for free as a backhanded, "Gift," from Musk. He's made it clear he doesn't need it and would rather the money go to a charity that helps Ukraine or such. Plenty of folks are now viewing a blue checkmark that's been paid for more as a sign someone is status-seeking than that they are actually a notable person. I've made it clear I will never give Twitter any of my money because they already get all our sweet, sweet data. Plenty of other social media sites are pleased to give us fun features in exchange for our privacy, and if those sites ain't charging me, why does Musk need a single cent? Twitter is imploding, TikTok is being targeted by Congress for various reasons, Facebook/Instagram had to settle a huge lawsuit for misusing data, and at this point, it seems more off-kilter social media networks like Fetlife are the least problematic. Who knew a site for people who want to make posts about behaving in a, "Naughty," manner would use data the least inappropriately?

Whether he's calling spaceships that blow up within minutes of launch a success or bragging about how much better he's making Twitter while it also finds itself falling apart, Elon Musk is clearly a man on a mission. What that mission is and why exactly it involves making so many people mock him in a hilarious manner is a mystery. Godspeed to him as he tries to get that $8 from folks, though.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Rant-Reviews: I Read Some Random First Issues of New Series

Debut Issues

I had the chance to sit down and read the debut issues of some new series. The titles varied from more mainstream releases to some really weird indie stuff. I thought I'd share my thoughts in a new Rant-Reviews post! Shall we?

Don't Spit in the Wind #1

Written and illustrated by Stefano Cardoselli, this weird little sci-fi comic imagines an Earth that is mostly ruined and serves as more of a trash heap than anything else while different classes of people live on a spaceship. A depressing and all-too-feasible concept for sure as we continue to mistreat our planet, but the comic is more satirical than sad. Cardoselli's artwork has always been surreal and striking, so seeing their take on Earth as a massive pile of garbage is strangely beautiful. The mix of humor and great art makes this comic one I'd recommend.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Katie Black Dragon #1

A humorous comic from the folks at Bad Kids Press. Here we've got Roel Torres and Sean Von Gorman presenting the story of a space bounty hunter as she takes on some rich jerks. A group of wealthy morons has tricked a bunch of aliens into viewing them as Gods and been awful to them. The comic clearly takes its plot from a variety of stories you've maybe seen before but brings enough storytelling and visual charm that I liked reading it. It's worth checking out.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Indigo Children #1

This Image series from Curt Pires and Rockwell White has gotten some buzz due to apparently already being optioned as an Amazon Prime show. It involves a journalist trying to get to the bottom of a story about a kid some years ago who seemed to exhibit immense intelligence as well as extraordinary powers. This is less of a superhero story than a sci-fi thriller, however. The debut issue is extra chunky which I appreciated as it gives the story time to breathe and build up to some interesting little twists. I'm quite curious about where things will be going, so it is a promising start.

4 out of 5 stars.

The Giant Kokju #1

Another Image title. This one is about a giant Kaiju but it is most definitely different than those you've seen before. It has the usual giant monster trampling through a city due to our mistreatment of Earth awakening it. However, this Kaiju also likes to take acidic dumps in the middle of the city and has a very intricate phallus that is surprisingly drawn in its full penile glory when the creature gets so horny it humps a skyscraper. Writer Gerry Duggan clearly isn't taking Kaiju's too seriously and artist  Scott Koblish is obviously having a blast drawing some pretty gross bodily functions. The whole comic is nasty but fun. I dug it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Planet of the Apes #1

David F. Walker is a fantastic writer but I feel like he tries to cover so much ground in this first issue of, "Planet of the Apes," it gave me narrative whiplash. We jump around in time so much that it gets confusing and right as the issue finished I was just starting to grasp everything. This is a debut that would've benefited from being double-sized or such. Artist David Wachter is superb, though, giving us some amazing-looking apes as they engage in fights with humankind. As the comic continues and gets more time to flesh out the story of the apes taking over Earth I imagine more stuff will make sense, but taken on its own terms, I was a little disappointed in this first issue.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Neighbors #1

This comic absolutely nails its tone as being immensely creepy as we witness a new family in a subdivision starting to realize something is seriously wrong with all their neighbors. Creators Jude Ellison S. Doyle and Letizia Cadonici waste no time in having all kinds of eerie stuff happen and I actually might have a rare complaint in wishing the story moved a bit slower. Usually, I get upset when a comic really drags before anything interesting happens, but with, "The Neighbors," all kinds of scary events seem to occur right off the bat and we have very little time to get to know the main characters. That quibble aside it's an effectively scary debut.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Popscars #1

Here's a weird one. A long-lost daughter of a movie maker finds herself teaming up with a colleague he metaphorically stabbed in the back to extract some very literal bloody revenge. This comic by Pat O'Malley and Santi Guillen strikes a good balance between dark humor as it parodies the entertainment industry and being an interesting tale in its own right. Plus the eye-catching weird character design of the daughter having a pink ski mask and a strange boudoir-style outfit is the chef's kiss of weirdness in this book. Is this more of a crime story or a funny Hollywood spoof? Well, placing this in an exact genre is tricky but at least it is easy to say this is a good read.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

"Dead Island 2," Feels Trapped in the Past With Little To Offer Us in the Present

I didn't play a ton of, 'Dead Island 2," but from what I did something clearly became apparent. I would say that, "Dead Island 2," feels like a throwback to the video games of 5-10 years ago. That can be a compliment, but in this case, it is not a compliment. The first, "Dead Island," came out in 2011 with a stand-alone kinda-expansion kinda-sequel in 2013. This was announced back in 2014 and was supposed to come out in 2015 before countless delays and rebuilding from scratch. If this game we've now been given had been released in 2015, it would be relatively impressive. It ain't 2015 though.

I think in 2015 having as a major selling point that the zombies look gross as you beat them up would've made sense. Chunks of flesh fly off to reveal muscles and brains, eyeballs pop out, bones crunch, and it is otherwise impressively disgusting on a PS5. If only so much thought had gone into making any of the characters interesting, or the dialogue, plot, and so forth less bland. There is some fun in tossing a gas canister into a downed powerline and watching as a bunch of zombies blow up just as scavenging for gear can be a good time (I love exploring for little goodies in games). I want to care about the human characters though or have the environment I'm in be somewhat interesting. I can't help but think of the, "Dying Light," games that the creators of the first, "Dead Island," went on to make and how much better those are. 

The first, "Dying Light," was fun and the second was just superb. In, "Dying Light 2," the city you explore is eerily beautiful and fascinating. The first-person parkour is a hoot, and I actually was into the story and its characters even if some reviews disparaged it. "Dead Island 2," takes place in a Los Angeles which is overrun with zombies. This sequel lacks any noticeable improvements over the first game from over a decade ago beyond some snazzy graphics, the zombie gore, and a tedious skill system that involves choosing cards representative of abilities that have a very minor impact on the game.

If all you want from a zombie video-game is disturbingly detailed violence, you'll adore, "Dead Island 2." However, I found the idea of smacking zombies around for hours pretty tedious if the story/dialogue/etc. couldn't make me care about why I was stomping on countless undead and offered little gameplay beyond, "Here, now you get a weapon that makes the zombies electrified!" Playing, "Dead Island 2," in 2023 is like running into someone you used to really like hanging out with who hasn't changed since you last saw them a decade ago. The fact they haven't matured or gained any further depth is quite disappointing. The, "Dead Island," games of 2011 and 2013 were a hoot, but I want the, "Dead Island 2," we get in 2023 to offer some kind of depth beyond, "Look at that zombie's jaw go flying when you hit it with a pool cue!" I don't think I played enough, "Dead Island 2," to offer a truly detailed and intricate review, but from what I did play, I'll say I'm glad I just rented the game for the week instead of buying it. From what I played, I'd rate this 1.5 out of 5 stars and advise you to play something else.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Flashback Friday: The, "Annie," Movies Are All Uniquely Fun

Seeing the news about Jamie Foxx being hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition (I wish him a speedy recovery) got me thinking about all his various film roles. The man has some serious range from comedy to drama with such hits as, "Ray," "Django Unchained," "Soul," and he, of course, can sing wonderfully. This got me thinking about film roles where he sang which reminded me he was in one of the versions of, "Annie." I couldn't recall how many films it has had so I double-checked and three flicks exist. The original in 1982, the 1999 television movie, and the iteration with Foxx as Daddy Warbucks in 2014. All three are quite fun in different ways

The original movie has elements that have aged poorly at best but also has the best Miss Hannigan in the form of Carol Burnett--plus Tim Curry is great in anything. The 1999 movie is solid with Kathy Bate's Miss Hannigan being pretty good and then Foxx is superb in the 2014 flick. Each movie's Annie does a great job as well so in the end whether you want the old Annie, the 1999 remake, or the 2014 version that takes place in the modern-day they all are a good time. I'm thankful for that in an era where sometimes remakes/reboots can be quite bad.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

It is 4/20 and That's Become Known for Specific Things

Today is a popular holiday for smoking cannabis. It also is a big day for cold brew coffee but that gets a bit less hype. More and more states have Cheeba legalized for medical use or just outright recreational purposes. I myself don't do, "The weed," but am fine with folks using it if they are responsible/careful. I mean, Missouri is swimming in cash from how it legalized the stuff so hopefully that can benefit the state in some fashion. Anyways, have a happy 4/20, and enjoy the picture above. It is of a children's shirt we found at a resale shop and features the patron saint of 4/20, Snoop Dogg.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Netflix Still Plans to Target Password-Sharing

Everyone may recall a few months ago there were grave concerns about Netflix cracking down on the sharing of passwords among households. They tested preventing it in some countries, but with all the negative press in the U.S., it seemed they would back off doing it in North America. Well, in wonderful news, Netflix is still planning to make sure if you have friends/family that don't live with you they have to pay extra to access the account too. Yep, Netflix still is gonna kill password sharing. They also are going to quit mailing DVDs this September, which is unfortunate for those in areas with weak internet access (some locations still lack a good connection, even these days). Hence, Netflix is going to prevent your kids who move out from being able to stream your Netflix or get some DVDs delivered. 

In the near future, only the user whose location is set as the primary one will be able to stream Netflix and if they're traveling there will be some hoops to jump through with temporary codes that grant a short bit of access or such. Whether this results in some folks just quitting Netflix and instead using all the other streaming services remains to be seen. This could make some people just pay a bit extra or try the Netflix level with ads. It could go work out in Netflix's favor or be disastrous. If I may be petty, I hope this goes horribly and Netflix walks it back/changes its mind because I honestly am still on my folk's Netflix account in exchange for us sharing passwords to other streamers with them. I've got so much to watch I honestly could live without Netflix, but it'll stink to miss out on those funny, "Nailed it," baking shows.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

"Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League," Just Got REALLY Delayed

Certain games seem to suffer horrific delays before eventually being scrapped or sometimes--to everyone's surprise--coming out. We all know, "Duke Nukem Forever," and how it maybe should've just been left to die. There is also at the current moment that, "Skull and Bones," game which seems to be forever in a state of being delayed and retooled. Perhaps we can also add, "Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League," to the list of games that keep getting pushed back as it was due a while ago, then delayed to this May. It isn't coming out in May, though. Nope, it has now been announced as due in February of 2024. Yep, almost a year.

I and other folks were excited at the thought of a Suicide Squad game from the developer Rocksteady. Their Batman-focused Arkham games were superb, after all. However, as more information was released about it we found that the whole title looked like a live service-styled game. That basically killed a recent, "Avengers," game and everybody felt quite hesitant the more we saw of, "Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League." I guess the bad reception has resulted in a good chunk of elements being taken back to the drawing board as this many months sounds like a lot more than fine-tuning will be called for. I'd always rather have a game that is good and complete/playable than a rushed-out mess so I'm not upset about this delay. I just am worried if it'll be enough or even make a difference at this point. Perhaps we will know come February of next year--assuming that is the actual final date of release.

Monday, April 17, 2023

We've Got a New Mailbox!

Our household's nightmare of having a busted-up mailbox thankfully was short-lived because as of today we've got a new mailbox! I appreciate all the kind words I received after I shared about our first mailbox being wrecked and am overjoyed with our new one. Is it overly dramatic to say this is arguably the start of a new era for our Nation and will possibly help usher in positive change for everyone else too? Probably, but one can hope a new mailbox serves as a positive omen for the future.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Whatever Happened to LMFAO?


Do ya'll remember LMFAO? They were a music group that made songs about having fun via dancing, drinking, and so forth. The duo was hugely popular, even appearing at the Super Bowl with Madonna in 2012. Then they just disappeared--party rock was no longer in the house. What happened?

Well, from what I can find they went on a, "Hiatus," later in 2012 and just never really got back together. Redfoo and SkyBlu (that is what they, in fact, went by) apparently had some negative feelings towards each other and despite giving off the appearance of always having fun and partying, there were power struggles and general anger between the two fellows--who are actually related with Redfoo being the uncle of SkyBlu. LMFAO just basically called it quits without officially saying they were done.

Since the non-breakup breakup, Redfoo was a judge on the Australian version of, "The X Factor," put out a solo album in 2016 to little press, took up tennis again, and did, "Dancing with the Stars." SkyBlu changed his name/persona to FxckYeah and released solo albums in 2013 and 2016. The two men do still have a social media presence and seem to follow each other and interact online as well as in person.

You never know when a music group that seems to have parted ways will reunite, so I'd imagine it is not totally out of the question for LMFAO's guys to wake up one day and realize that planet Earth needs some party rockin' more than ever. I may not happen anytime soon or even at all, but perhaps someday we'll be gifted some new feel-good jams from LMFAO and we'll all be able to chant, "Everybody just have a good, good, good time!"

Saturday, April 15, 2023

The 2023 Big River Comic Convention Was Superb Fun!

I had the chance to attend the Big River Comic Convention this year and it was a great deal of fun! There was an assortment of vendors, creators, and guests. I enjoyed meeting new folks as well as seeing old friends at the show.  Let's discuss all the awesome stuff I saw!

I kicked off the event chatting with my good chum, Alex the Comic Hoarder. He has a fantastic YouTube channel and always brings amazing comics to the BRCC. I really enjoyed catching up with him and trading some books. The cool folks from Toys of Our Youth were present at the show too, selling tons of awesome toys, I enjoy anytime we chat. I also enjoyed examining all the goodies that Great River Collectibles brought--they had some stellar toys, comics, and more!

A man I always enjoy seeing, Bruce Reynolds, was at the show and brought so many awesome comics, magazines, and general neat stuff. You can see him in the photo right above. I bought some comics for a great price from G&K Collectibles and we talked about how he always has fun at BRCC and he made sure to bring a variety of cool stuff for everyone to peruse. I also saw my friend, author John L. Davis IV, with his assortment of superb books he has written.

Tribble Totes was selling their own fantastic handmade bags and totes. They were of the highest quality and were themed for a variety of fandoms. The bags were super cool and I appreciated they let me take a picture of everything as you can see above. Heroes for Kids Perryville was at the show to promote their charity work as well as the fourth upcoming Heroes for Kids Comic-Con. It will be held this July 15th and is sure to be tons of fun as well! Speaking of good causes, I also saw my friend Brian Lan, who was there promoting a non-profit organization near and dear to my heart, The Hero Initiative (which helps comic creators in need).

I met Tone, who was behind the, "Just Sayin'--Signs and Home Decor," at their booth. I loved the cool themed signs and pieces of decor they had. I got a picture as you can see above. Geek to Me Radio was at the show promoting their radio program/podcast that discusses all kinds of geek-related media. I plan to check out their show for sure! It was also a pleasure to make the acquaintance of Golden Lasso Comics and Collectibles. They were selling an assortment of goodies and mentioned they have their own comic they are in the process of creating. I told them to be sure and reach out to me when it is done so I can spotlight and review it!

There were some snazzy guests at BRCC too. I met Sam De La Rosa and we talked about his work on such awesome comics as, "Venom: Lethal Protector," and a variety of, "Predator," books. He was kind enough to pose with his banner so that I could point people to his site. Go buy some of his amazing art! Actor Spencer Wilding and wrestler/actor Sergeant Slaughter were at the show as well. I offered to take a picture of them with their banner to help drive folks to their sites but Slaughter's agent/handler declined for him, saying they didn't have their site up and running currently (there is an official Facebook but I guess they didn't want me to take his picture without paying money even though I emphasized I wasn't going to be in it or such).  Wilding requested I buy an autograph if I wanted to take any pictures. I didn't want to sound rude and state how I don't pay for autographs--I just don't see the appeal in giving someone money to sign a picture of themself (with the exception of having artists sign a comic they drew and having them do a cool sketch or such)--so I just said, "Maybe later." It is always fun to see the guests BRCC gets!

The Big River Comic Convention for 2023 was so much fun! It is actually just one example of fun things you can do or places you can go in Hannibal, Missouri. Hannibal is a really fun town and I'd encourage you to visit it for the BRCC or just to take in some fun sights. I always really have fun at the BRCC and I'm sure the show next year will be just as fun--if not even more enjoyable!

Friday, April 14, 2023

I Played a Chunk of, "Hi-Fi Rush," and Liked it

I have an Xbox with the game pass so I tried out the game, "Hi-Fi Rush," and it was pretty fun. The game was a surprise release that had--somehow--been developed totally in secret. Hours after its official announcement, it was released to the shock of many. That the game is pretty cool helps too. The whole thing involves how the World moves to a beat as you play and fighting enemies with the music makes you do more damage. The colorful cel-shaded style visuals make everything look like and bright and happy anime show--except you're controlling the action. 

I haven't played the game a ton yet, so this is more of my impressions of the title than a review. That said, "Hi-Fi Rush," has so far been a solidly good time, and should you have an Xbox Series X/S with the game pass you ought to check it out.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Classified Documents Seem to Leak Really Easily These Days

Remember when we used to think the government must have tons of fancy classified documents holding all kinds of secrets? We imagined there must be the truth about all kinds of stuff from JFK (some argue he wasn't even assassinated), to Bigfoot, or anything else. Nowadays I kind of think there can't be too much being kept secret the way classified documents just kind of seem to be floating about. I mean, if you used to be in power it makes sense you might have some classified documents still even if you shouldn't. Donald Trump seemed to be hoarding a bunch and Joe Biden had some from when he was Vice President. However, then we read that top-secret documents about the war in Ukraine that the United States supposedly had under lock and key were uploaded to a Discord where people discussed, "Minecraft." The news is saying that a military base employee might have been the leaker. Oh, and documents discussing President Biden's travel and safety were lost by the police in Ireland before literally being found blowing around in the street by some random guy. At this point, I'm half-expecting that nuclear codes will casually be posted alongside some memes on Reddit.

Back in the day, it was a big deal when a government document got out before being declassified or our government was infiltrated by somebody after secrets (read up on the Pentagon Papers or Operation Snow White for two interesting stories). Now, however, metaphorical beans get spilled all the time. Why, though? Do we blame the internet and social media? Has the kind of security we use to keep stuff under wraps gotten weaker? Could it be the fault of the Mole people who I imagine some leaked document will reveal live under the Moon's soil? I don't know, but I guess in this era where very little surprises us even if shocking secrets leak people seem to mostly shrug anyways. Hell, the Government willingly revealed a whole bunch of stuff about UFOs and folks just said, "Oh, cool," and went on with life. Perhaps when everyone has their own crazy version of, "The truth," which they choose to believe that makes it so the actual truth almost seems boring. In some ways that is scarier than any potential classified conspiracy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

HBO MAX Will Indeed Just be MAX

There were ample rumors that HBO MAX would just become MAX and Discovery+ would be folded into it. Then we learned HBO MAX would get a chunk of Discovery+ but it would be left alone so that folks who just wanted the delightfully trashy reality television on Discovery+ would be all set without paying more for random HBO MAX shows. Now, the official news has been revealed and everyone who heard...seemed to basically shrug. Yes, the service will simply be MAX, for better or worse. It'll have a tier with ads, an ad-free level, and another, "Ultimate," version that works with the fanciest 4K televisions. A bunch of Discovery+ stuff will be on it, but that service will remain and be cheaper than MAX.

What of the content though? Well, if you liked the, "Harry Potter," movies but wished they were even longer seasons of television that were made now that the author has been revealed as extremely problematic and transphobic, you're in luck! The, "Harry Potter," books are going to be remade with a brand-new cast who will be signed to a decade-long (or so) contract and each season will be one of the books. Plus, J.K. Rowling is going to be an executive producer, how fun! There is going to be other stuff too such as more, "Game of Thrones," prequel content. Colin Farell's Penguin is indeed getting his own, "Penguin," show too after being in, "The Batman." Interestingly a, "Rick and Morty," anime is being made after some shorts that came out a bit ago got really popular (no word on who will do the voices). That isn't everything but clearly, there is a decent assortment of stuff that should appeal to various people. Nothing super-wild was unveiled but it doesn't seem like a trainwreck besides the dumb name change.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Big River Comic Convention 2023 is This Week!


I've been hyped for the upcoming Big River Comic Convention and now it is mere days away! There will be a bunch of cool vendors and awesome guests (Sgt. Slaughter, Sam De La Rosa, and Spencer Wilding are the big names). The show will cosplay contests among other fun events and should be a stellar time. I'd encourage you to buy some tickets in advance now and make plans to attend Friday and/or Saturday. I'll be there when it kicks off and look forward to discussing all the fun I'm going to have!

Al Jaffee Has Died at 102

Al Jaffee has died at 102. He was a man who worked with Will Eisner, Stan Lee, and many other greats but is quite possibly best known for those two words that describe a staple of, "Mad Magazine." Those words, of course, would be, "Fold-In." Created as a spoof of big fold-outs in magazines like, "Playboy," or, "National Geographic," Jaffee made a gag that you could see by folding two halves of, "Mad Magazine," together and he kept making them for decades. The man outlived, "Mad Magazine," itself when it essentially ended beside the occasional special issue. As someone who grew up on, "Mad Magazine," and did countless fold-ins I am saddened to hear of Jaffee's passing, but man, what a long and amazing life he lived.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Someday the FPS/RTS Hybrid Will Work

An FPS is a first-person shooter. There are lots of multiplayer versions of them where teams of players work together to fight an enemy. An RTS is a real-time strategy game. It is where a player (sometimes two facing off) has a birds-eye view of a battlefield and commands nonplayer computer characters to do things like build bases, fight enemies, and so forth. For decades people have thought about how cool it would be to have a game that combines both. You could have a general player telling the units what to do, but the units are actual players! It almost never worked.

People sometimes want to follow orders. Other times, they don't. Whether you're in an office told to get a project done by a specific time, have a child demanding you buy them a snack, or you're a computer soldier on a battlefield with some other player spamming requests to fight an enemy/build something, we as humans hate being directed to do stuff. The actual military is designed to teach the importance of following a chain of command so that everyone lives, but a virtual battlefield is the kind of place where if an enemy shoots you down it just takes 30 seconds or so to get right back to fighting. 

There are many failed FPT/RTS games out there and barely any success stories (I guess the, "Natural Selection," games). I myself used to play, "Savage," on the PC and maybe one time was in a match that actually worked with FPS folks listening to the general-type player. This hasn't stopped studios from making new ones, with Bohemia planning to give us, "Silica." In a twist that makes me hopeful everyone playing together will be able to a commander and boss your group of NPCs around or switch to a first-person view to fight and drive around vehicles. That could be fun if it works and at some point, a game has to nail the format in more ways than not.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Happy Easter 2023!

Clarkson, "Picking," to sit with the Easter Bunny!

Today is Easter Sunday. I want to wish a happy rebirth day to Jesus and the folks who belong to his religion. Have a great day and don't fall for the trap of restaurants holding, "Easter meals/brunches," that feature the exact same menu as any other day but with a little extra ham for a huge markup. The only day they're more brazen with that is Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Rachel Pollack Has Passed

Rachel Pollack did a superb run on, "Doom Patrol," among other comics, was one of the first openly Transgender creators in comics, wrote some very neat fiction and non-books, knew a ton about Tarot cards, and was all-around a neat person. Sadly, she passed at the age of 77 after having been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in July 2022. She moved to hospice care this past March and now has left this realm but leaves behind a fantastic body of work and fond memories I've seen loved ones sharing. 

She is survived by her wife, Judith Zoe Mateen who wrote when discussing Pollack's passing, "I know that Rachel will continue to be a Light in this world and in the next. She will continue to inspire so many of our beloved Tarot community, the Science Fiction and Fantasy community, the Comics community, and the Transgender community for whom she shared so much respect and care." She will be missed.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Flashback Friday: "Malibu's Most Wanted," Turns 20

On April 18th of 2003 a very strange and--in my opinion pretty funny--movie came out. It was titled, "Malibu's Most Wanted," and it turns 20 in less than a month. The film follows Brad Gluckman, the adult son (who acts pretty infantile) of a politician who despite being a white man in the top 1% is obsessed with the media's portrayal of the gangster lifestyle. His father's campaign manager (Blair Underwood) suggests hiring some actors to pretend and abduct Kennedy's character so as to, "Scare the Black out of him," which Underwood gets away with saying as he is Black but even he gets called out for such a loaded statement. This results in Anthony Anderson and Taye Diggs, "Kidnapping," Kennedy and attempting to show him the, "Hood life," isn't all it's cracked up to be while they are actually trained actors who know as much about being gangsters as Kennedy. Then it all goes sideways when Kenndey gets abducted by real gangbangers and is mistaken on the news for a gang leader known as, "White Kong." It gets pretty weird.

If this sounds like a strange mix of dumb jokes and at times surprisingly insightful humor you're on the right track. There are some shockingly insightful observations about appropriation and the thin line between what is a stereotype and what is a cultural custom. There are jokes that fall flat too, but with a surprisingly stacked cast (besides who I already mentioned this film also has Regina Hall, Kal Penn, Bo Derek, and Ryan O'Neil plays Kennedy's Dad to name some talent) more of the movie works than doesn't. Have a number of jokes not aged well? For sure, this is a 20-year-old movie we're talking about. That doesn't change how there is some quite clever commentary on race, culture, and how America is extremely messed-up in regards to how it handles the ways we as humans are different and alike.
When I realized it was the 20th anniversary I thought there would be a bunch of articles about the flick as it had a clever conceit and managed to be pretty funny along with thoughtful. Instead, I found a single article on a website that mainly does articles about food. It uses the metaphor of black culture as something everyone feasts on and takes from, e.g. appropriates. Don't get me wrong, it is a good article, I just expected that on the 20-year anniversary of, "Malibu's Most Wanted," there would be more than a handful of people who want to talk about it. I feel a bit like how it was when I and maybe two other people on the whole internet talked about that, "Secret Girlfriend," show on Comedy Central some years after its release, or when I and a handful of other individuals remembered Mr. Green soda.

Sometimes a product comes out, makes a splash, but then ends up seemingly forgotten by society at large. It's a shame because, "Malibu's Most Wanted," is smarter than it has any right to be, and is generally pretty funny too. That said, it is depressing to think we as a society have not advanced much at all regarding the discussion of race, culture, and so forth. If anything, we've gone backward with parents protesting, "Critical Race Theory," in schools to give one discouraging example. Perhaps there was some wisdom in the words of Kennedy's Gluckman with his oft-repeated phrase, "Don't be hatin'." Maybe if we all quit hatin' and start talking that will accomplish something, anything. Perhaps within another 20 years.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti Are Revamping the Eternals

I think this news was revealed a tiny bit ago but I just heard it and am intrigued! You see, Jonathan Hickman has given us some epic stories with his creator-owned titles and at Marvel. He had a superb run on, "Fantastic Four," and, "Avengers," which led to, "Secret Wars." Then, he and artist Valerio Schiti totally revamped the X-Men with, "House of X/Powers of X," and that status quo is still ongoing where many mutants live on the island of Krakoa. Hickman and Schiti are now going to be doing a brand-new take on the Eternals with, "G.O.D.S." We recently had the Eternals tweaked during that big, "A.X.E. Judgement Day," event and now in the Fall of this year, we will read about how, "G.O.D.S. takes place in its own special corner of the Marvel Universe — in the cracks that lie at the intersection of science and magic," according to Hickman. More details will be revealed with a preview of, "G.O.D.S." in the upcoming Free Comic Book Day release from Marvel.

Hot Comics Revue 14--A Quick One

I've got a shorter edition of, "The Hot Comics Revue," for everyone today. I'm just going to touch upon a single comic, but boy is it a hot issue. You see, "Spider-Man #7," was released this week and featured a new Spider character who managed to capture everyone's attention. Known as Spider-Boy, he has no relation to the one that DC and Marvel created together in the 90s for their Amalgam Universe. 

As I understand it, he's from the regular Marvel Universe and not from some other reality (like a chunk of Spider-verse characters). He just was forgotten as existing by everyone, kind of like the Sentry--I guess? The regular cover of, "Spider-Man #7, is a bit hot but the, "B," cover which features Spider-Boy being spoiled as appearing has been selling for $25-$30 already online after being out a matter of days. Here's what it looks like:

Spider-Boy seems to be the new hot character in the same manner Tosin from, "Black Panther," had some fire behind him for a bit (and still has some). A second printing has been announced and I guess if he sticks around in stories Spider-Boy may only grow in popularity. That, or he'll crater like some, "It," characters who quickly ran out of steam. You just never know, and that is part of the fun!

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Our Mailbox Got Wrecked

I love when the mail comes. Whether it's letters from relatives, a magazine, a Gemini mailer with a comic I ordered, or something else fun I always get excited about the day's mail. I tell people how, "The mail is like a friend who comes to visit every day except Sunday and certain holidays," and while they roll their eyes at such a down-home style statement, I sincerely mean it. Our mailbox is the main means of us getting our mail, and as of today, tragedy struck. Someone hit and ran our mailbox. I left this morning to drop my son off at school and run some errands only to return home around 12:30 PM and be greeted by a grisly sight.

Look at that picture at the top of this post, look what they did to our poor mailbox. Someone careened into it, bent the brackets, knocked the little flag off, and left with nary a note or apology. We have a little blink camera (so we know when packages come) but it wasn't triggered as the mailbox is out of its sensor range. Our mailbox went from looking sprightly to now looking more like it is suffering from a severe gangster lean and about to topple over. The paint was slightly chipped before but looks even worse now. When I look at it now I don't get excited about the mail so much as I hear the, "I will remember you," song by Sarah McLachlan.

I posted in our Facebook neighborhood group to ask if anyone possibly saw anything, but the odds of that are slim. Our mailbox will have to be replaced and go unavenged for the awful thing that happened to it. That mailbox was here when we moved into our home back in 2012 and has been through a lot. It will hold a special place in my heart forever and I'll probably shed a tear when we get a new mailbox and chuck this one in the garbage for its trip to the dump. Truly a dignified end that all of us can only hope for. For now, we will try to prop the mailbox up, but a new one will clearly be needed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

In Weird Science News, The Feral Dogs Near Chernobyl Might Be Evolving Faster Than Normal

In news that sounds straight out of a sci-fi novel/movie, the feral dogs living around Chernobyl seem to be evolving faster. Folks may remember or have learned in school that in 1986 a nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union-controlled city of Chernobyl melted down. It was bad and is among the biggest nuclear accidents in history (the most recent being Fukushima in 2011).

Now a part of Northern Ukraine (which is seeing plenty of conflict and making studies complicated, to say the least), scientists have spent decades studying the region and how it impacted the remaining wildlife after humans fled. A number of pets were abandoned and now a number of generations of pups have occurred and they are remarkably different than animals a mere 10 miles away from the radiated location. Other animals are different too, like frogs that have different pigmentations. Is this a case of animals just doing the usual evolution you'd see in a unique area or is the evolution being accelerated as well by the fact there is a whole lot of nuclear residue around? Scientists aren't sure, but even saying there may be some radiation-accelerated/impacted evolution sounds like a sci-fi concept.

I'm not saying we'll be getting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anytime soon, but it is a mixture of astounding, fascinating, and worrying to think how this man-made disaster is morphing nature in ways we barely can comprehend. It has only been nearly 40 years and we are noting stuff. I can only imagine what we'll see in a century at places such as Chernobyl compared to the rest of the Planet.