Thursday, November 30, 2023

Nightcrawler's Origin Changed Again, but this Time to the Original Plan From Decades Ago; It's Complicated!

Nightcrawler and his parentage has always been a complex subject. Chris Claremont originally wanted it to be the case that Mystique/Raven Darkholme changed into a man and because of the ability to alter themselves so completely, got another mutant named Destiny pregnant as a man. Nightcrawler would have two mothers--albeit one who can transform into a dude when wanted. Marvel thought this was too edgy many years ago and shut it down, making Mystique the Mother of Nightcrawler with a mystery Dad. Then in the 2000's, it was revealed during the mostly-hated Chuck Austen run (it had some decent moments) how a demonic dude named Azazel was Nightcraweler's Papa. This made people upset as Nightcrawler's whole thing is he looks like a Demon but is just as sweet mutant who practices a liberal version of Catholicism. That was the origin, however, and people just kind of put up with it. Well, because the X-Men and mutants have some of the most convoluted continuity possible, things have been changed, again!

"X-Men Origins: Blue," has just been released. Written by Si Spurrier with art by Wilton Santos, it gives us the latest, "True," origin of Nightcrawler. It explains that Mystique turned into a dude and got Destiny pregnant, but to keep everyone safe Mystique faked a pregnancy and it fooled basically everyone who has ever been assumed to be Nigthcrawler's Dad. Considering this was going to be the original origin that creative folks behind the X-Men wanted, I am 100% fine with this. Some people online have complained, however, because the internet is a bottomless pit of rage.

I've seen observations that this isn't scientifically possible, as if having mutants who can heal from any injury, control the weather, or shoot laser beams from their eyes is based on observable data. Plus, some animals change their sex to reproduce (frogs do it often, as the movie, "Jurassic Park," discussed). There are complaints this is, "Progressive/woke," and an effort to appeal to liberals these days, which is laughable because for decades tons of us comic nerds have known Mystique was originally supposed to be Nightcrawler's Dad before the word, "Woke," was even thrown around as meaning anything besides the opposite of sleeping. I honestly would think comic fans would love this as it is going back to an, "Original," planned continuity from long ago and some self-proclaimed, "Comic nerds," always say comics were better years ago. Perhaps this just shows there really is no pleasing some people--something I touched upon in an earlier post.

Nightcrawler now has the parents that he was intended to have from the start. This is his definitive origin and I'm all for least until someone else decides to change it yet again. The only thing that is consistent with the X-Men is how inconsistent their backgrounds are. I mean, how many Summers siblings are we up to now? Seriously, I lost count.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The First Two Issues of, "Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong," Are Wild

Back when, "Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong," was announced I said it sounded like, "My kind of silly fun." Having read the first two issues of the series written by Brian Buccellato, with artist Christian Duce, and colorist Luis Guerrero I can say this is indeed a wild and good time. The first issue is a lot of setup with a group of villains inadvertently bringing a number of gigantic monsters/kaiju to the DC Universe. Things get going in the second issue, however, with Superman fighting Godzilla, Batman fighting a huge bat (go figure) and King Kong appears in the first issue but has yet to pop back up. I imagine we are building up to an epic fight between the two biggest fellas (Zilla' and Kong) and seeing the Justice League attempting to take them on while a bunch of villains debate if this is a win or possibly could backfire resulting in a great time. 

The little touches are what really make this a fun yarn. Whether it is Gorilla Grodd reacting to King Kong with a mixture of awe and fear as if he's a God or a joke about Oliver Queen/Green Arrow not facing his first abandoned isle when the heroes discover a mysterious new one that seems to have been transported to their realm (Skull Island, to be precise). Duce's artwork really helps sell the imposing nature of these big ol' creatures, with Godzilla towering over Metropolis in a terrifying manner for sure! These first two issues are great and I am quite excited to see more knock-down drag-out fights between our heroes and the kaiju--I just hope the Justice League can survive these encounters.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

"Avengers Inc." OR When a Good Series Get Canceled Way Too Quickly

Far too often Marvel will launch a series as an ongoing and then stealth-cancel it and pretend it was a mini-series all along. There were the eight issues we got of, "Nighthawk," and, "Mockingbird," in 2016. The 2019, "Loki," series went all of five issues. The list goes on and on with a really cool comic that just started-up sadly joining this grouping. Yep, "Avengers Inc." is canceled with issue #5. The series ends this January as quickly as it began.

A cool detective story featuring Janet Van Dyne AKA the Wasp and Vic Shade (the Vision but not) there were plenty of mysteries including a seemingly resurrected Hank Pym sans fused-with-Ultron body. From the first issue on I loved it. Unforuntaely, in his Substack it was revealed by Tom Breevort (an editor at Marvel) that low sales have resulted in the series crashing to a sudden stop with the fifth issue. Marvel didn't even give the title time to breathe and pick up readers! Imagine if this series--written by Al Ewing--was his, "Immortal Hulk," run and Marvel shut it down after a mere five issues? We wouldn't have that magnum opus of a work to admire. When a book is planned as an ongoing and has its metaphorical legs cut out from under it everyone suffers. The creative team, the readers, and so forth. I mean, why should people try out new series if they might get canceled? This means readers will skip a book and then it will end up canceled, it is a vicious cycle. At least we'll have five cool issues of Ewing and Leonard Kirk's series...I guess that's better than nothing?

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Return of, "Penthouse Comix," Decades Later

Back in the 1990's the popular magazine (which actually still is being published to this day) known as, "Penthouse," put out a special comic magazine called, "Penthouse Comix." It had some surprisingly big-name talent doing comics. Some were serious, some were humorous, and all had plenty of raunchy content. "Penthouse Comix," had been gone for some time, but now it is coming back and bringing some notable creatives!

Valentine's Day 2024 will be accompanied by the launch of the first issue of the latest edition of, "Penthouse Comix." Lots of cool folks will be providing covers and content. Guillem March, Maria Llovet, Jeff Dekal, Vanesa Del Ray,  and more will be taking part in, "Penthouse Comix." I'm all for creative and sexy conics by skilled folks and I hope, "Penthouse Comix," is wild and cool. I suppose we'll find out in 2024!

Sunday, November 26, 2023

I Had Fun at the Spector Club Show Today!

As I posted about the other day, I set up at the Spector Club Comic Show this morning and early afternoon! It was great fun and a lot of cool folks I know were there selling stuff too. I saw my friends Spike Forster of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles, John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics, Jack Thomas from Fortress Comics, Vince Dinklemann of VK Toys, Drew Stuart from Como Comic Books, Eric Meyer of STL Comics, David Smith from Callisto Comics, David Schmidt from All American Collectibles, plus Tom Milster from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. I met lots of interesting folks who came and bought my dollar stuff. I enjoyed chatting with everyone at the show and told some new people about my blog and such! I want to thank the good people behind the show for making it so fun and even if I don't have enough stuff to set up a table at the next show I'll always stop by as an attendee!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Marvel Should be Doing More With Luke Cage as Mayor

At the end of, "Devil's Reign," in the early months of 2022, a number of notable things happened. Matt Murdock faked his death via his, "Brother," actually dying (it's complicated), the Kingpin fled New York City (to later turn up in the X-Men comics as his wife is a mutant) and Luke Cage became mayor of New York City. Now, you would think a superhero as mayor of NYC would be loaded with potential and that Marvel was ready to launch a, "Mayor Luke Cage," ongoing. Well, you'd think wrong. Besides his popping up in some titles briefly, Marvel has (so far) wasted a golden opportunity with Luke Cage as mayor. This is Marvel's chance to do their, "Ex Machina," series and that was a damn fine comic (a lot of credit for it being great goes to the creative team of Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris, of course). Plenty of folks on Reddit have complained about this lack of Luke Cage and even a crappy website like CBR noticed Luke Cage being mayor has had little narrative impact in Marvel's books.

All of this said we are finally, yes finally, getting a comic focused on Luke Cage as mayor...and it is a thankless tie-in to the latest Spider-Man event, "Gang War." More than a year since Luke Cage became mayor and that's it? Now, I am pleased we are getting something, and I am sure the creative team of Rodney Barnes and Ramon Bachs will do their best to give us a solid story. That said, I want more! Give me a comic where Luke Cage engages in fighting crime via his political office and getting down and dirty. Touch upon the complexities of a Black man who was once incarcerated by the very Governmental system he is now a part of and how Cage handles these dynamics. It's a golden opportunity and would probably sell decently--why are you leaving money on the table, Marvel? As long as Luke Cage remains Mayor of New York City in Marvel's comics for a while they might finally give us a series focused on him. For now, though, we get an event tie-in, Cage appearing briefly in some random comics, and that's it. Such a bummer.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Come See Me at the Spector Club Comic Show This Sunday!

This coming Sunday, November 26th, I will be setting up at the Spector Club Comic Show. At my table, I will have a ton of dollar comics I simply don't have the space for as well as some priced books and other random neat items! The show is totally filled up for dealers in the front room and back so there will be a bunch of retailers selling awesome comics and other things! It's only $2 to get in after 10AM and if you want, "Early bird," entry at 8:30 AM that just runs you $6.

I'd encourage anyone in the Saint Louis area to attend the show at 7300 Lansdowne in Shrewsbury. I shall see you at my table if you can make it out and encourage you to shop with all the other fantastic vendors who will be present!

Film Friday: "Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain," is a Silly and Whimsical Romp

I am a fan of, "Saturday Night Live," and have been enjoying the, "Please Don't Destroy," shorts by Ben Marshall, John Higgins, and Martin Herlihy.  They made a full-length movie which had premiered on Peacock titled, "Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain." It is a story of three friends who go to seek out a mythological treasure and if that sounds familiar it is kinda the plot of, "Without a Paddle," but setup aside it is a different movie. For one thing (spoiler) the treasure is found before the movie is even halfway through and a lot of the hilarious mayhem revolves around how the treasure makes everyone behave in their desire to be rich beyond their wildest dreams. Plus, there are a lot of funny random, "Bits," that occur which feel a little like a mini-skit within the bigger movie. Whether it is a cult obsessed with purple, a running gag about a drunk alter-ego named, "Lawrence," or how one character has a tendency to accidentally expose themselves to others, there are many silly gags. The whole flick's vibe is very chill and reminiscent of a long episode of, "Workaholics," which was an observation others have had as well.

The movie goes by pretty quickly and as soon as a joke feels like it might start to drag a new one pops up to give viewers at least a chuckle and sometimes a hearty guffaw. You can tell how, "Please Don't Destroy: The Treasure of Foggy Mountain," was a labor of love for these three guys and I quite enjoyed its absurd humor. If you have Peacock I would highly encourage you to check it out!

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Have a Fun Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving has a good time this year! If I may share a fun fact about our family, I actually found out Samii was pregnant with Gibson on Thanksgiving! It was the morning and Clarkson and I were watching the Macy's Parade. Samii showed me a pregnancy test and said, "Hey, I'm pregnant, happy Thanksgiving!" We were all very happy! So yes, have a good day, ya'll!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

"Subgenre," #1 is a Tasty Blend of Genre Concepts

A hard-boiled private investigator hired by a powerful and shady entity to solve a high-stakes murder. A heavy-drinking barbarian in a magical realm who loves to fight. Both of these concepts are popular in genre works. You've got tons of PI yarns set in the past or a cyberpunk-style future. Barbian tales encompass characters from Conan to many Dungeons and Dragons customized characters. What, "Subgenre," does in an interesting twist, however, is gives us a man who seems to be stuck between at least these two realities and dealing with familiar foes in both universes. It's a fun zig-zag to go from one reality to the other as we try to figure out what exactly is going on. There is a bit of a meta element, I think, in how it shows stories can be different but similar with our own protagonist breaking some 4th walls a bit to witness this in action.

Matt Kindt is the writer of, "Subgenere," and he has written a lot of great stories so I'm not surprised, that "Subgenre," grabs my attention. Wilfredo Torres provides the art and does a superb job balancing the styles of different realities to make it clear one realm is different from the next, yet strangely similar in other ways. Bill Crabtree's colors also excel at us readers seeing how reality has shifted. I also want to mention that, "Subgenre," is not a standard comic size, but one of those oversized titles that seem to be appearing more lately via such lines as DC's Black Label and DSTLRY's series (although this is published by neither of those, this is a Dark Horse join). It can make it hard to figure out where to store your comic but it does really let the art breathe wonderfully. I quite enjoyed this first issue of, "Subgenre," and would recommend giving it a read!

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Television Tuesday: Netflix has an, "Escaping Twin Flames," Documentary Now Too!

Well, I was very confused for a bit the other day. You see, I had written about how I watched the documentary series, "Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe," on Amazon Prime and found it fascinating. It followed the, "Twin Flames," movement and how it was more of a cult mixed with a pyramid scheme than a way to actually find love. Then I saw people writing online about, "Escaping Twin Flames," and how it was a Netflix documentary. I was befuddled but I did some Googling and figured it out--these are two separate shows about the same thing! Both are three episodes, strangely enough, and feature interviews with people who suffered due to Jeff and Shaleia Ayan. Certain victims of the group pop-up in both shows or are even interviewed within each docu-series, too. That said, they do somewhat have a different focus that I feel makes both worth watching.'

Having just finished, "Escaping Twin Flames," on Netflix I will say this docuseries focuses more on the general scam and cultlike behavior of Twin Flames and how it victimized people. The Amazon show, on the other hand, digs deep into the backgrounds of Jeff and Shaleia, interviewing their families and friends to understand what makes them tick and how much of their own B.S. they believe. Should you not have read my first review, basically Twin Flames is a concept that Jeff and Shaleia used of everyone having a perfect soulmate to appoint themselves as guides (whom you have to pay a lot of money to) which will assist you in finding your true love AKA Twin Flame. Things only get weirder from there, however, as both the Amazon and Netflix show explore from slightly different angles.

As I said, both series are worth watching. For my money though, I'd start with the Amazon show as it digs into the past and then watch the Netflix series as it goes further into the future/present than the Amazon documentary does. On its own merits, "Escaping Twin Flames," is a fascinating and weird show whether you watch the Amazon Prime show too (or not) and I'd rate it 5 out of 5 stars as with the other docuseries. I sincerely hope that Jeff and Shaleia lose all their followers and end up broke and should that happen I look forward to another possible documentary about the impact of these documentaries. A docu-ception if you will. Until then, definitely watch both shows!

Monday, November 20, 2023

My, "Beef," Was Featured on, "My Saint Louis Live," Today!

As readers of this blog know, I am allergic to actual beef, but I got to have my metaphorical, "Beef," featured on, "My Saint Louis Live," today! They ask viewers to message them on their website about something that irritates/upsets them and I did so, with it popping up! I took a screenshot of my, "Beef," right here:

Seriously though, why is it a big deal to give me extra napkins? Some places are weirdly resistant to that request and what can I say? I am messy with my food. That said, it was cool to see my opinion on a local television show and I hope it inspires other folks to ask for their extra napkins!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Physical Editions of Games Are Cool and "Baldur's Gate 3," Will Finally Have One!

I like physical media. Now, I appreciate the ability to stream a movie or album with ease and love how I can type in a music artist on the internet and hear their obscure B-sides within a few seconds of searching the web. That said...I like physical media. There is something special to holding an album in your hands, or a VHS tape, DVD, game disc, and so forth. Hence, I get bummed when some games can only be bought via digital storefronts and no physical copy exists.  Even physical copies of games these days don't come with a manual or anything snazzy. It is always cool when certain companies make limited physical copies of their games with extra bonus swag and one of the most popular titles this year is doing just that! Yep, we're getting a special deluxe physical edition of, "Baldur's Gate 3."

"Baldur's Gate 3," has gotten rave reviews for being a fantastic RPG and I do want to play it when I have the time. It had a collectors edition but that was actually discless. No longer, however!  The PlayStation 5 edition will be on two discs loaded with gaming goodness and on Xbox Series X you'll have three discs. The PC will have an installer disc with a linked digital Steam Key. Oh, and you get the soundtrack over three CDs, fabric patches, a cloth game map, a poster, and some stickers! That sounds incredibly fun and is actually reasonably priced at $80 for the game and all that bonus stuff. It can be pre-ordered now directly from the company behind the game (Larian) with them planning to keep it in production as long as there is demand so those who want a copy don't need to worry about artificial scarcity or such. This is really neat and I honestly hope more companies at least offer an option to get their game in a physical form with bonus goodies, doodads, geegaws, and so forth.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

I Don't Get the Fans Who, "Love," Marvel so Much that they Hate It

"The Marvels," movie was first place in the box office when it came out last weekend. That said, it was a quiet week and it did not make as much as other Marvel movies have lately so it was posted about on many sites as, "Bombing." I haven't gone to a movie since the birth of our second child, but when it was easier to see Marvel flicks I did, and I liked the, "Captain Marvel," movie when I viewed it in theaters. A chunk of folks hated it for various reasons (some of the internet despises Brie Larson for being an outspoken feminist) and this is a bit of a sequel to that first movie (and incorporates characters from, "Wandavision," as well as the, "Ms. Marvel," shows on Disney+). Perhaps there just wasn't a big hook for people to go see, "The Marvels," or maybe it is the time of year, Hell, perhaps there is, "Superhero fatigue," setting in among some viewing audiences. That said, "The Marvels," didn't do super hot in theaters and one imagines Marvel's biggest fans would be disappointed, right? Well, some people who claim to be the biggest comic nerds seemed to celebrate this stumble from the company.

You can go on YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, or anywhere online and find people who claim to be the biggest fans of the comic format and comic movies spewing outright hatred at Disney and the MCU. They complain about, "Forced diversity," of race and gender as if having women or people of color hurts their entertainment. They whine that you can't call Miles Morales as Spider-Man as Peter Parker is the only true Spider-Man. I see these people state comics are, "Too woke," as if back when these books were first coming out they weren't tackling heavy subjects (the X-Men are one big metaphor obviously, to give a single example of countless). I fans who claim to love what Marvel, "Used to be," now just expressing little but hatred for the thing they say they're a big fan of. I don't get it.

They're mad like someone forced them to watch this movie
that they clearly went into planning to dislike.

If you once loved something but hate it now, just give it up. It isn't going to change back for you. It is only going to keep altering itself in ways that some may like and others may dislike. The change will be constant though because when you quit evolving you are extinct. I sometimes feel like the people who criticize Marvel's comics and movies the loudest would prefer it went out of business. Something similar can be witnessed with, "Fans," of DC movies who only like the movies if Zack Snyder has made them. Funnily enough, Snyder is by all accounts very friendly and chill, but the, "Snyderbros," tend to be extremely hateful and mean to others.

It isn't like I want to be sitting here defending a big corporation. Marvel is owned by Disney, and at the end of the day, the companies have absurd amounts of money and power. That said, it just befuddles me to see people online who love something so much they seem to outright despise it at the same time and look at its past with a skewed view as if it wasn't always political, progressive, and topical. If you want your comics stuck in a past that never existed that's your prerogative but you don't have to post 20-minute diatribes on YouTube about the, "M-She-U," or how, "Going woke is bad," or whatever. I'll write on this blog about if I try to watch/read/etc. something and dislike it, but I don't continue to dedicate my time to a thing I hate. That's just ignorant and self-punishment. Why would you do that to yourself unless it is part of a gift to play on others' emotions and make money from their anger via clicks and views? Oh, it's that too? Makes sense.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Snoop Dogg Claims to Have Stopped Smoking Cannabis

Update 11/20/23: Apparently it was all an extremely silly marketing stunt to promote smokeless fire pits. Well done, Snoop, you had us all fooled!

Original Article:

Snoop Dogg has quit smoking weed. Considering that Snoop Dogg is often associated with a love of smoking cannabis, this is shocking news for many. I recall Snoop Dogg has given up cannabis before and that effort did not last for long. I will say in his announcement that he released it was specifically said, "Smoke," was being given up. This makes me think perhaps Snoop will still enjoy Cannabis in other forms. I would guess that doctors might have told him that the smoke was harming his lungs and in order to live longer he needs to not smoke cannabis. He is a grandfather now (believe it or not) and probably wants to have a long live with his friends and family. 

Whether he has gone cold turkey with THC or is simply no longer going to light it up, I wish Snoop Dogg the best as I support anyone making the choices that are healthiest for them. I just posted about balancing my excitement the McRib and how I'm trying to eat better, after all. Some wonder if this is a joke, but I guess we shall see in the near future if Snoop offers clarification on this matter. I, personally, have zero problem with people enjoying cannabis responsibly, but I do hate smoking whether it is cigarettes or weed so I think Snoop is wise to possibly just enjoy cannabis in more healthful ways. Still, it is funny to think a man who declared, "Smoke weed every day," and was arguably the celebrity most closely associated with cannabis besides Willie Nelson is altering his intake.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Get (Mildly) Excited, The McRib is Back

McDonald's claimed it was going away forever and being, "Retired," but we knew better and the McRib is back! I've always liked the McRib even if I did not love it. Hence, we can get a little excited but not too excited. I do realize how just recently I wrote about McDonald's and their latest temporary sauces at the end of October. I swear I am not trying to make writing about McDonald's a monthly thing, although it is my favorite fast-food restaurant, for what that is worth. I am trying to eat better and eat McDonald's and other things less, however. That said, I'm gonna get myself at least one McRib while it is back. It is tasty enough to enjoy with some fries.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The PlayStation Portal Appears to Fulfill a Specific Niche

I wrote about how Sony was working on a sorta-kinda handheld device back in May of this year. It was called Project Q then but now is known as the PlayStation Portal. It lets you play your PS5 games and such on a handheld device, but only if you're basically on the same Wi-fi connection as your console. In other words, it is like a dedicated second screen that will allow you to play your PS5 from upstairs in bed if its down in the living room. That, or you might be in the aforementioned living room with a loved one watching television and you want to play the PS5 but hang out in that room. Well, break out your PlayStation Portal and you're all set! This is more of a PlayStation accessory/an extension of your PS5 than a true dedicated portable PlayStation like the ones Sony made previously and struggled to have catch on against the almighty portable console maker that is Nintendo. 

All of that said, it seems the PlayStation Portal does what it was designed to do and does it well. As long as you have a decent internet connection the device has a crisp screen, responsive controls, and so forth. It may be for a, "Bizarrely narrow audience," who want to drop $200 for remote play in their home, but at least it gets the job done. I give it props for that much in this era where so many products seem to launch in a horribly buggy and busted state. Basically, expectations were low, but it meets said expectations. Should you be in the admittedly small target audience for this device, it goes on sale today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Andre 3000 is Releasing a Solo Album but it is Not What You Might Assume

I've discussed here on my blog repeatedly how OutKast is my favorite musical group of all time. I did a series of posts looking at all their records, after all. I have greatly enjoyed Big Boi's solo albums, but Andre 3000 has never released one. There was, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," which was a little like two individual albums, but no true solo LP from Andre 3000. I was okay with that because, as I've said before, he owes us nothing. Andre 3000 has announced today, however, that he is coming out with a new album! Titled, "New Blue Sun," it isn't what you think if you're expecting rap. 

"New Blue Sun," will feature him playing the flute and other instruments with fellow musicians and Mr. Benjamin even realizes folks might be surprised by the humorous song titles featuring the first track stating, "I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a “Rap” Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time." In a fascinating interview with NPR, Andre 3000 touches on a lot of subjects and seems to genuinely be happy with life after having gone through a lot. I'm pleased for him and look forward to checking out, "New Blue Sun," when it releases very soon--this Friday November 17th!

Monday, November 13, 2023

I Bought Some Hockey Cards!

As readers of the blog are aware, I for a long time had zero interest in sports. Some years ago I did find myself getting into Hockey. Unlike other athletic pursuits, Hockey kept my attention. After all, Football had too much starting and stopping. Basketball only got interesting in the last few minutes. Soccer kind of was fun to watch but lacked something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Golf was boring as Hell. Rugby was confusing. The list went on. That said, Hockey was different. It was fast. It had agility and grace yet was a bit brutal too with the players crashing into each other and sometimes fighting.  Around 2016/2017 I started watching NHL hockey a bit more and then in 2019 my local team, the Saint Louis Blues, won the Stanely Cup and that was incredible. Since then I have continued to enjoy hockey and thought I would try something I'd never done before in my 35 years of life: I bought some sports cards.

Back when I was young I dabbled in Pokemon cards but I sold them before the market crashed (and then came roaring back decades later with those cards now worth even more, but so is life). I never really fiddled with, "Magic: The Gathering," as I knew to build a good deck to play with you can spend an absurd amount of money. I might try, "Magic," in the future with Marvel-themed cards on the way, however. All of that said, I like Hockey so why not get some Hockey cards? I will tell you that sports cards are a lot more complex than you might suspect.

Where to even start?

These days you can buy some sports cards at a retail store or a hobby shop, but generally a hobby shop will have the better boxes/packs of cards. I am aware that Baseball and Basketball cards can be absurdly expensive, but Hockey thankfully is a bit more of a niche in sports cards and less pricey when it comes to buying packs, boxes, or even sought-after single cards. I did some research about sports cards in general online and learned how among your regular ol' cards you can get ones that have limited numbering, autographs, and even pieces of game-worn jerseys! When you get a special card that is a, "Hit," and you never know what you might get. 

One nice thing is you can get a common card of almost any player for dirt cheap, so it is easy to make a set of basic cards with your favorite players. When you're looking for the rare variants that have those autographs or pieces of clothes that's when things can be pricey if you're out buying single cards. I did a bunch of research on sports cards and was ready to buy some Hockey cards from a hobby shop, but where could I go to find someone patient with a sports card newbie like me? Thankfully, I found a cool local place.

Sports Card Market is located in Manchester, Missouri, and not too far a drive for me at all. I called them one day and explained that when it came to comic books I knew a ton but in regards to sports cards I was pretty green. They talked with me for a good 15-20 minutes on the phone reviewing with me what I had read online as I asked a variety of questions. I went in the next day and the kind employees there showed me various options of cards to buy, discussed what was interesting about different kinds, and helped me settle on buying an, "Artifacts," box as it sounded the most fun and I had read good things about the line on the internet. I cannot emphasize how patient they were with me as I asked a metric ton of questions about sports cards. I took home my Artifacts box, opened it up, and got some cool stuff!

My box had several, "Hits," with the coolest thing probably being a Kent Johnson card featuring a piece of jersey material and an autograph of which only 10 cards were produced out of thousands of other cards. I was perfectly happy to get some, "Worthless," cards as well of players I like such as Jordan Kyrou, too, but it was really neat to get some rare stuff. It is fun to be able to own cards featuring players you like and even snazzier when you have an autograph or piece of jersey. It is a cool way to feel extra connected to a sport I enjoy. I would recommend that if you want to buy sports cards of any kind you visit the folks at Sports Card Market either in person or buy from them online as they'll ship anywhere in the U.S. too! Oh, and please note they aren't paying me to promote them or anything (I don't have any affiliate links or such), I just really appreciate how nice they were to me as I slowly got an understanding of how sports cards work these days with all the, "Parallels," cards that you redeem online, and so forth.

Quite the, "Hit," I'd say!

It was fun buying Hockey cards and I plan to buy more in the future. I can see how it can be a pricey hobby though, so I'll have to practice moderation in the same manner I do with comics. I want to again thank the good people at Sports Card Market for their assistance as I bought my first-ever cards and I'm excited to continue watching Hockey and collecting cards!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Ya'll Broke Domino's Free Pizza Promotion

In another example of, "This is why we can't have nice things," Dominio's had a promotion for free, "Emergency pizza," that allowed folks who qualified to get a free pizza. It was a cute little marketing thing but as soon as people figured out a way to take advantage of the program due to a glitch, things went horribly wrong. Why? Again, we can't have nice things.

An error in Domnino's ordering system resulted in some people noticing that some emergency pizza codes could be used over and over again by the same customer. Some folks made social media posts about this and in response, everyone exercised restraint. I'm kidding! People took advantage of the codes in the most extreme way possible ordering up to 30 pizzas at a time with absurd backlogs of orders forming at various Domino's restaurants and lines appearing at the stores as folks angrily demanded their multiple free and somewhat ill-gotten grub. Around November 9th things were at their worst but eventually, the error was fixed and stores were told they could cancel multiple free pizza orders by corporate--although a lot of employees were mad at how slow the response from higher-ups was. 

There is no official word on how much money or food waste resulted from this, and I do think Domino's corporate-levels could have handled this better. That said, it doesn't help a lot of people took advantage of this glitch and made things difficult for all the folks working at Domino's. Perhaps if some individuals hadn't tried to order a bunch of pizzas at a single time this wouldn't have even been a big problem. As it is, people saw a metaphorical inch and they took a metaphorical mile.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

I Learned (Most of) Those Radio Segments Catching Cheaters are Fake

We have a local radio station that often does a segment involving catching someone cheating on their partner. The name can vary but apparently, lots of stations do it whether it is called, "War of the Roses," or, "To Catch a Cheater," or something else. I saw on Reddit there was as question asking about something that is fake but lots of people believe. A common refrain was that these segments are generally actors. It was pointed out that most people would just--you know--get off the phone if things went wrong and they were caught cheating. It was also discussed how odd it was folks fell for the scam that they had won a dozen roses (or some other award) from their local grocery store and their first impulse was to reveal to a random stranger they were cheating and wanted to send the prize to their illicit affair. 

I was admittedly shocked to think it was all fake, but then again I am a gullible person sometimes. I did some research and yeah, these segments generally are B.S. After all, the FCC says someone has to consent to be on the radio so maybe if the segments are pretaped and everyone gives permission to be embarrassed for cheating they're real, but that seems unlikely. Plus, if a divorce happens the radio crew could get called into court. If someone becomes violent and gets hurt or even killed, the radio station is liable as well. It just would be easier to get some men and women to fake being cheated on than to put up with that headache of litigation.

Even people calling into a radio station could be fake sometimes. A massive popular syndicated show that is heard in various regions? That possibly has real individuals calling in to offer an opinion on an issue, sure (that's nothing saucy or embarrassing). A little local radio station that wants you to call in with your, "Dirty little secret," and always seems to get absurdly juicy revelations that are even sometimes illegal? Be suspicious of that, is all I'm saying.

I'm bummed to think that the, "First date follow-ups," where people call someone who ghosted them after a date might be bupkis, but I guess in the same way a lot of reality television shows barely reflect reality (some programs outright admit to using actors for, "Recreations," of events, after all) we need to accept that few people are stupid enough to easily get caught cheating on the radio and then spend 5 minutes arguing about it for us all to hear instead of simply hanging-up. It is a bit like finding out how wrestling is staged entertainment. You know it is, "Fake," but you can still enjoy the artistry of it, I'd argue. Plus, it is a little less cringe-inducing realizing that nobody actually cheated on their longtime partner with a coworker. That's a silver lining, I suppose.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Hey, DC, Beginning to Collect a Series Then Suddenly Canceling the Rest is Annoying!

Never to actually see release...

Readers of the blog may recall when I wrote about, "Authority: The Lost Year." It was a reboot of that, "The Authority," series that started out with Grant Morrison writing two issues and leaving the title. It suffered horrific delays until Keith Giffen (who sadly recently passed) came in and finished the series, with it gaining that "The Lost Year" tagline to explain where the Authority was in the Wildstorm Universe during the delays. The mini-series ended up having the first volume collected in a trade paperback..and that was it. A second volume was solicited but then DC simply didn't print it. DC felt there wasn't enough interest to merit collecting the whole thing in trade paperback, forcing folks to seek out back issues or read the remaining parts online. It is silly and downright ignorant to start collecting a series and then just stop, so surely DC wouldn't do that again, right? Right?

Anyway "Black Adam," recently had a 12-issue mini-series where the first volume was collected but a solicited release of, "Volume 2," of the series has now been canceled by DC. There are no plans to make a 12-issue deluxe hardcover or anything, it'll just be issues #1-#6 with fans S.O.L. for #7-#12 if they want the whole thing to display on their bookshelf in books. Goddamn it, DC. I understand when nothing is collected of a series that outright bombed, but this is just a bummer and I wonder if the fact this comic came out at the same time as the ,"Black Adam," movie which suffered in theaters results in DC thinking, "Let's cut our losses and cancel anything else relating to the character!" The series was good too, with it written by the immensely talented Christopher Priest so it is not like this is DC trying to bury a metaphorical turd in some sand. I don't know why half-collecting a series and then calling it quits is such a pet peeve of mine, but DC, Marvel, or whoever should do it all or do nothing, I'd argue. Don't start collecting a series/mini-series and then suddenly stop. It is irritating, simple as that.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Rockstar Games Has Announced...An Announcement? About Grand Theft Auto?

We all know, "Grand Theft Auto VI," or whatever it is going to be called is happening. There was that big leak in 2022 that revealed a bunch about the game. Then the publisher of GTA games, Take-Two, hinted they expect to make a lot of money in the near future. Now, the developer of the franchise, Rockstar Games, has released a, "Message," discussing that December will mark their 25th anniversary and, " early December, we will release the first trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto." We've got an announcement folks...about an announcement, but my point stands!

The first generation/original release of "Grand Theft Auto V," came out over 10 years ago. Video-games have obviously changed a great deal since then but the online iteration of GTA V has been immensely popular all the way to today. One wonders how much of GTAVI could be single-player and how much will be online? Will there be annoying microtransactions? Will, "The cloud," be utilized? I guess come December we will have a better idea of what this new Grand Theft Auto will be like as right now we just have confirmation that something is coming with the GTA branding.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Wishing a Happy Birthday to My Wonderful Wife, Samii!

Today is my wife's birthday! Samii is an amazing partner, a fantastic mother, and beautiful in every way. I am incredibly thankful to have her in my life and I hope her birthday is a lot of fun!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Television Tuesday: A Dr. Phil Channel, Why?

I am a fan of Oprah Winfrey and all the amazing things she has done. That said, there are two things I will never forgive her for. Namely, making Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz famous. Dr. Oz is at least an actual doctor who practiced medicine even if there is a lot to dislike about him. Dr. Phil though? He's just irritating and his show seemed more interested in him trotting out people with serious problems and getting viewers than having anyone get actual help. At least Jerry Springer or Maury didn't put on airs with their shows and knew we wanted to see outlandish stuff without the pretense they were going to actually assist someone with their non-existent or expired accreditations

All of that said, Dr. Phil called it quits with his show a bit ago but is coming back with a whole television channel featuring, "Quality," programming as well as, "Dr. Phil Primetime." It will be called Merit Street Media. I'll pass, thanks. That said, if you want to watch Dr. Phil's new channel I won't judge you because I enjoy all kinds of trashy stuff. My only defense is as I said, my stuff knows it is junk and doesn't try to act like it is doing me a favor. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for the channel to launch in February 2024 so that you know where to tune in or avoid.

Monday, November 6, 2023

"Ultimate Universe," #1 Fully Kicks-off the New Ultimate Universe

I really dug, "Ultimate Invasion," from its first issue to the final fourth one. I and other reviewers honestly feel that this, "Ultimate Universe," #1 one-shot is a bit of a fifth issue to, "Ultimate Invasion," with Jonathan Hickman writing this as well (Stefano Casellli is the artist for this, however, and Bryan Hitch was on, "Secret Invasion). That said, I don't mind because this issue does a great job setting up this new Ultimate Universe. A general idea seems to be that this Universe was going to have heroes, but due The Maker coming in and screwing stuff up the whole World is just wrong. Hence, we've got an interesting assortment of characters trying to, "Fix," the Universe. 

We meet a new Ultimate Thor (plus Sif), have Reed Richards as a kind of Doctor Doom, and a younger Tony Stark is trying to right the World. Not to mention, Ultimate Black Panther has a cameo, we already know a married Ultimate Spider-Man is coming, and hints are dropped about the Ultimate X-Men within the issue too. There's a chunk of closure, a good deal of setup, and I'm pretty intrigued by this new Ultimate Universe so far. It should be quite the wild ride as the other series begin!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

November 2023's ToyMan Show Was Immense Fun!

Anytime I go to a ToyMan show I am bound to find cool stuff and have a great time--today was no exception! I had a lovely time seeing a variety of my vendor and creator friends, finding neat comics, and otherwise had a ball! Upon entering the show the first folks I ran into were the lovely John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles and I had a chance to chat with Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics who was here for the show too! Not too far from those tables, I saw my good friend Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles and the friendly guys of Tatertots Comics and Collectibles. Everyone had a lot of great stuff I enjoyed browsing as I checked out other tables full of neat toys, collectibles, and the like. My friend Greg actually had a table with his buddy, Mat, and they were selling an assortment of neat toys and comics! They were kind enough to pose for a photo:

Mat on the left, Greg on the right.

In the upstairs area, I interacted with a bunch of my chums! Jessica Mathews had her lovely books for sale as did the fantastic Debbie Manbe Kupfer. We discussed how the approaching holidays had us all excited and nervous! Heroes for Kids was fundraising and do great work. Lindsay Hornsby was present too, and I bought an awesome coloring book for Clarkson! Here is a picture:

When I was back downstairs I had a chance to look around at even more comics, toys, Legos, and Funko Pops. There was such a variety of neat stuff and it further established why I love attending ToyMan shows. I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the superb Vince of VK Toys had a booth and I was lucky enough to buy a fun cartoon tie-in comic from him called, "Battle Beasts." Check it out:

Yes, this was another fabulous ToyMan and I can't wait for the next one on December 10th! If you live close enough to be able to attend, make sure and do so, it is always fun!

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Back the Latest, "Widow: Unleashed," Kickstarter Campaign!

Issues #5 and #6 of, "Widow Unleashed," now can be backed on Kickstarter and you should go and support that campaign, STAT! I'm a huge fan of comic-maker Mike Wolfer and his partner in life and comics, Natalie Jane (a superb letterer). These re-edited and rereleased issues of his classic, "Widow," series have been fantastic and I always look forward to them arriving in my inbox (the digital copies ) and mailbox (the physical copies). If you noticed how the series is up to the fifth and sixth issue and are saying, "Well, clearly it is too late for me to get involved in this awesome series," you actually need not fear, because all previous issues can be acquired too!

If you like your horror comics bloody, erotic, and just plain entertaining, then you ought to back these, "Widow Unleashed," Kickstarter campaigns. I do Kickstarter a great deal less these days as I used to spend way too much money backing anything that looked neat, but I still make sure to always support whatever Mike Wolfer is doing because his and Natalie Jane's stuff is always guaranteed to be a good time. Here's that link again for the latest campaign, go check it out!

Friday, November 3, 2023

You Okay, Marvel?

Depending on whom you ask, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is moving along as if it were a well-oiled machine or is a mess behind the scenes. Are things okay or in disarray? An article by Tatiana Siegel at Variety paints a picture of a company unsure what to do after a decade of theatrical dominance that capped off with, "Avengers: Endgame." Once Phase 4 of the film and streaming slate began things just get messy, some argue. Between Jonathan Majors having a lot of personal drama and abuse allegations, an unclear exact focus with a bunch of films and shows, and so forth, there are arguments the MCU is chugging along, but with some concerns.

I'm not a Disney/Marvel executive so I don't truly know what's going on. I will say a whole decade of dominating the popular culture zeitgeist is impressive for anything and Disney/Marvel may not be on top of the World, but still matters for sure. There will be comics, movies, and shows for years to come and even if the MCU isn't the be-all-end-all anymore, it still will be important and Disney & Marvel will adjust strategies as needed to maintain relevance. After all, Disney knows a thing or two about maintaining staying power for decades upon decades. Marvel and its cinematic universe may not be in the absolute best shape, but it is still doing better than simply, "Okay," I personally think.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Put Changers in All Public Restrooms!

Do you know what should be easy to do? Finding a place to change your baby's diaper. However, even in the year 2023, newer buildings can lack a baby changer in restrooms designated for men. I don't get why seeing as how male-identifying folks change diapers, not just women. When there are multiple unisex restrooms generally one has a changer, but if only one bathroom has a changer and they are gendered, the men's one is found lacking. I remember this being a pain when Clarkson was a baby and here we are with Gibson and it is still an issue years later.

To the credit of everyone, men and women are always happy to stand in front of a women's restroom if I and Gibson go into it to utilize the changer. This really shouldn't still be an issue and if more or all restrooms were unisex that would be one solution (and helps sidestep how some people get all weird and political about gendered restrooms too). That, or simply putting a changer in the men's room when you're making a building could work too, obviously. While we're at it, considering the needs of disabled people who might need adult-sized changing spaces is an important issue as well in many states/countries. You know if they can't even think to put a baby changer in the men's room that those with disabilities are being completely overlooked as well.

Public accommodations for those who identify as male and want to change a baby or those who have a disability/care for someone with a disability seem like a no-brainer, yet it remains a problem. Let's try and fix this in older buildings and take it into account in newer ones. As I said, it is 2023, let's do better.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Check Out This Campaign for an Assortment of Cool Asian Story Anthologies on Kickstarter!

I had comic-book creator Anthony Christou of Luminous Studios reach out to me a bit ago. He was curious if I was interested in checking out the comics for a new series of anthologies that would be posted on Kickstarter. I told him that would be great! I had a chance to look over the, "Asian Monster Anthologies," and, "9 Sexy Tales of the Kitsune," and they are all really cool! 

With a variety of creators and several books that you can pick from if you fund the Kickstarter campaign, there is something that should appeal to all possible backers! There are the monster stories, some more erotica-themed yarns with mythological fox-women, plus cool dice and coins! I'd encourage you to back whatever aspects of the Kickstarter appeal to you. Give it a look!