Sunday, December 31, 2023

Newest Addition to Our Family of the Year: Gibson--2023 in Review

In 2023 we were so excited to add Gibson to our family. Born on July 12th of 2023, he is a sweet baby and already growing so fast. Clarkson and Gibson get along very well with Clarkson giving Gibby kisses on the head and Gibson often giggling when something makes Clarkson excited and he jumps around. Samii and I are so happy to have our sweet boys and adore them very much. I look forward to having a superb 2024 with them and Samii!

Disappointing Gaming Trend of the Year: Digital-Only Releases--2023 in Review

It feels like in 2023 we witnessed more and more games released with no physical copies. Instead of a case and disc (maybe even a manual if we're lucky) games are only coming out on digital storefronts where you buy a copy for your PS5/Xbox/PC and at least, "Own," it but don't have anything tangible. Some companies said that skipping a physical release helped keep costs down--like with, "Alan Wake 2." Some games can't even really be, "Bought," and just appear on Gamepass such as, "Hi-Fi Rush." While sometimes a game might get a special deluxe physical edition at some point--"Baldur's Gate 3," comes to mind for that--fewer and fewer titles are even releasing on a disc (or a Nintendo Switch cartridge), never mind any kind of fun manuals or bonus stuff with the game too. 

I understand how with so many games being purchased online and downloaded this makes sense, but a part of me does miss those big old game manuals from back in the day that I'd read before popping the disc/cartridge/etc. into my console or PC and playing a new fun title. The future is often digital, however, so I guess I need to adjust to that. At least sometimes games get special physical releases as a bit of a niche collector thing (like with Limited Run Games), so it isn't all digital.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Tom Wilkinson Has Passed

Tom Wilkinson has passed at the age of 75. A cause of death has not immediately been given. He was in a lot of movies. From, "Batman Begins," to, "Michael Clayton," to, "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," and, "The Full Monty," plus many, many more flicks. The man was incredibly talented and has left behind a huge catalog of fantastic work. He will be missed.

Music Artist I've Started to Like This Year: Billie Eilish--2023 in Reivew

I posted once about how I did not like Billie Eilish's music, at all. Then I liked one song she did. After that, there were other tunes I dug. In 2023 I was quite big on, "What Was I Made For?" from the, "Barbie," movie which had a fantastic rendition on, "Saturday Night Live," recently. It has come to the point where I would say I've started to like Billie Eilish when it at least comes to her more recent musical output even if I was not a fan of her earlier work. I appreciate how she's kept working at making tunes and has created some cool music. I've come around on her, clearly, with 2023 being the year that happened.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Odd Comic Trend of the Year: Marvel Killing and Immediately Bringing Back Characters--2023 in Review

Look, death in comic-books is basically never permanent. Almost any character that, "Dies," comes back at some point with it revealed they were resurrected/now from another universe/faked their death/etc. That said, usually, companies will at least take some months or years between a character biting the dust and bringing them back. Not anymore.

A lot shifted a bit with a lot of mutant characters during the recent (and apparently soon to end) Krakoan era as mutants now can die and easily be resurrected with little issue. It made thematic sense...and then characters who supposedly weren't mutants suddenly were and could die and come back. The Scarlet Witch sorta made sense in 2021, and then Marvel made a huge deal out of killing Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel this year with a mini-series featuring her new mutant status being solicited before the metaphorical body was even cold.

It isn't even just mutants. Marvel started hinting at how Moon Knight was going to die, confirmed it with a series cancellation to go with his death, then without a moment's pause announced the, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight," series to immediately follow. Marvel seems to like killing their heroes only to have them come right on back. Death in comics already didn't mean much, but now heroes are staying dead shorter than between my coffee runs this year. I guess we will see what 2024 holds regarding heroes' life and death.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Spider-Man's Clones Are Going to Fight in Summer 2024

Before all the different universes existed with a wide range of Peter Parker's, Miles Morales', Gwen Stacy's, and so forth, the hot thing was giving Peter Parker clones. The two most notable clones to ever be produced from good ol' Peter would be Ben Reily and Kaine. Ben was the Scarlet Spider for a bit, the main Spidey at points, and recently became evil--insert scary thunderclap here--and goes by Chasm. Depending on who's been writing Kaine, he has been slowly dying from his cells being unstable, acting as a hero in Houston Texas going by the name Scarlet Spider too (it is a popular title), and otherwise popping up in Spidey-related events. Speaking of such a thing, it seems Ben and Kaine are going to fight in an upcoming event/mini-series/something.

On Christmas day Marvel teased that something was coming with Chasm/Ben and Kaine. Apparently titled, "Chasm: Curse of Kaine," it'll feature the clones going to head-to-head, one would think. What else the focus will be is a mystery. This could be some kind of event, a mini-series, or something else. It could even end up with Ben and Kaine working together to fight some bigger problem like a buddy-cop movie where the two people don't like each other at first but then learn to get along. Nobody knows for sure, but if you grew up in the 1990s like me then you get a nice twinge of nostalgia for Spider-Man clones in the same way kids today love all the multiversal Spideys. I imagine as we near the Summer of 2024 more answers will be forthcoming about what exactly this is. Till then, we shall wait!

Movie of the Year: "Barbie,"--2023 in Review

If you had told me in some years ago that come 2023 a movie based on the toy Barbie would be my favorite flick of the year I probably wouldn't have believed you. Yet, here we are and, "Barbie," is my best movie of 2023. Directed by Greta Gerwig and featuring stellar performances by a metric ton of people (Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Will Ferrel, America Ferrera, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, and the list goes on) I have to say this was an astounding production. In my review, I gave it 5 stars and it's easy to see why. From clever jokes about commercialism to a surprisingly deep commentary on patriarchy, and hilarious deep-cut references to various dolls, "Barbie," was just a treat of a movie. I only hope that film companies don't take the wrong message from its box office success and make a bunch of mediocre movies that involve toy licenses without actually putting the effort into making a great film. They're going to do that though, aren't they?

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

DC Dual Force is Already Cancelled

Readers may recall in March of this year I wrote about how it had been announced DC was making their own digital card battling game to rival, "Marvel Snap." I was interested in trying it when it came out. Apparently, it was released (I had no clue) and did so poorly that it is already canceled. Yep, the servers will be shut down in February of 2024 and that's all she wrote. Seriously, I didn't even know this was officially out until I read it was scrapped. I feel bad for anyone who designed/programmed/etc. the game and is seeing all that work washed away so soon. Comics are a brutal business and so are video-games. Combining those two must be quite the struggle.

Food of the Year: Pizza--2023 in Review

I ate a lot of pizza this year--maybe a little more than I should have. Oftentimes I'm really into chicken tenders or wings, and I still am, but pizza was just really sounding good on multiple occasions this year. Whether it was from a big chain, small chain, or little local place, pizza was my favorite. I generally liked it with bacon and/or sausage (beef-free due to my allergies, of course), but I was open to a variety of pizza styles be they with chicken and jalapenos, Hawaiian, buffalo chicken, or even a dessert pizza. One other really cool thing about pizza this year was our older child, Clarkson, started liking to eat it despite sometimes be a bit picky about food. He loves to rip the toppings and cheese off and leave the faceless crust behind, which is kind of funny. Whatever works for him is cool though and clearly, we're a household that enjoys pizza!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Streaming Service of the Year: Peacock--2023 in Review

There are too many streaming services at this point, I think we can all agree on that. Still, sometimes one really hits it out of the park with a bunch of great shows and Peacock has been quietly plugging away with some stellar shows. From, "Paul T. Goldman," to, "Based on a True Story," and, "Wolf Like Me," or, "Twisted Metal," I was impressed with several programs. Then if you want the silly shows they've got, "Love Island," and, "The Traitors," as well as the serious fare such as, "Poker Face." Peacock maybe isn't one of the, "Big Dog," streamers, but it continues to make some quality viewing entertainment and deserves your attention.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas 2023!

It's Christmas and I hope everyone who celebrates the holiday has a good time. Get some rest and relaxation, enjoy any gifts you received, and otherwise have a chill day.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Some People Wait Until Today (Christmas Eve) to Buy Christmas Gifts--for Various Reasons

It is Christmas Eve. Some people have their Christmas shopping done months before the holiday. Then, others wait until there are literally less than 24 hours until Christmas to do much of any shopping. Why, though? There are good and bad reasons.

There are lots of silly stereotypes about men, but a chunk of them seem to live up to the, "Not very thoughtful about gifts," concept with a significant number waiting until Christmas Eve to look for a gift for their female or male partner. This can result in panic-buying crappy gifts, but some guys apparently just dread shopping and put it off due to being perfectionists who want to get a good gift and keep second-guessing themselves before ending up with something lame (ironically enough). Then some guys just love the rush of waiting until the last second or don't really care about getting a gift and wait until its essentially mandatory to finally buy something.

A lot of people (men and women) wait because they're simply exhausted by other things in life (work, kids), and stacking the holidays on top of that is a lot. Buying gifts for everyone can be overwhelming and takes a piece of the mental load some folks don't have to spare.

Also--and a bit depressingly--some people just don't have the money to buy gifts until it is the utter last minute due to saving up for that great gift and needing one more check to be able to afford what the kids/partner/etc. has asked for. The economy can be rough for sure.

Whether you're putting off getting gifts for a silly reason like thinking it is fun to wait, too drained to shop, or lack the funds, I don't judge you. We all have our reasons. I'm someone who likes to try to buy presents earlier, but I'll also stumble on that, "Last cool thing," when time's almost up for Hanukkah or Christmas shopping, so I can see the benefits of getting gifts for folks well in advance or waiting a bit. At the end of the day, it isn't necessarily about the presents themselves, it's about showing the love we feel for the friends/family/and so forth we're giving the gifts to, right? Well, for some people it really is all about the gifts, but you know what I mean.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

"Michael Mouse," is a Twisted Parody With the Madness Cranked Up to Delightful Levels

Mitch Lohmeier started doing a, "Michael Mouse," strip on Instagram in November of 2020. It was a short silly parody of another famous rodent and his friends, but Mitch realized it should keep going, as he says in the forward (where he also asks us not to tell Walt AKA Walt Disney and has a huge disclaimer about how this is a legally protected work of parody). Hence, we get an epic crime story as Donald...ahem, David Duck, is drawn back into a life of crime due to Michael. What follows is an extremely violent and drug-filled yarn that could stand well on its own if it didn't have the parody elements, but they make it oh-so-more tasty. There is a wonderful absurdity to a cocaine deal going down at the, "Magic Kingdom," which happens to be a strip club filled with dancers who resemble famous Disney princesses, after all.

The art is what locks this down. Lohmeier's style looks enough like a classic Disney cartoon for this work that you could almost picture this being a fever dream of a Disney animator, but a layer of grime and darkness seeps into the comic in a manner that creates a beautiful dichotomy between cute animals and the awful things they're doing. Goofy would never beat a convenience store owner to death in a drug-fueled rage, but Goony would. This reminds me in some ways of Mark Millar's comic that even he likes to pretend didn't happen, "The Unfunnies." The idea of that series is an evil force invades a happy cartoon land and makes all the characters behave horribly. The problem with, "The Unfunnies," was that shock value aside (and great art by Anthony Williams) it sucked. It wasn't funny or scary and it definitely wasn't especially clever beyond the initial idea. What Lohmeier does right is he tells an intense and brutal crime story, and then cranks the madness up with all the parody elements. It shouldn't work, but it does.

"Michael Mouse," is a twisted tour de force and Mitch Lohmeier should be equally proud and ashamed of what he's made here. It's a monstrosity and I loved it. You can ask all finer comic shops to order, "Michael Mouse," or order it directly from the publisher, Floating World Comics (they continue to put out great stuff). I'd highly recommend reading this if you'd like to witness a stellar parody.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Film Friday: "Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom," is Here, but Do People Care Anymore?

James Gunn and Peter Safran have taken over DC and are rebooting the whole cinematic universe. That said, when they came in some flicks were wrapping and needed to come out. For example, the Shazam sequel had a rough first weekend...and a generally drab theatrical run. This has reduced movie such as, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," to being afterthoughts. The first, "Aquaman," was by all accounts a fun time and reviews for the sequel have found it anywhere from really bad to slightly decent to quite good, but it doesn't matter anymore. 

This version of the DC Universe as we know it is done, stick a fork in it. Jason Momoa may be back as a whole new character (the Lobo rumors won't stop) but this iteration of Aquaman is finished. Minimal promotion has been done for the movie compared to other superhero blockbusters and it isn't even getting a red carpet premiere. It is the end of an era for DC's movies and they're ending with a bit of a quiet whimper. Whether this will do okay and skate by financially on the charm of Momoa or end up bombing like, "The Flash," remains to be seen. The DC Cinematic Universe is dead, long live the new DC Cinematic Universe.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Why Hack a Video-Game Company Other Than if You're a Jerk?

Hackers could be doing good deeds. They could expose shady politicians, find when businesses are committing fraud, or stuff like that. Instead, a chunk of hackers seem to prefer breaking into the files of video-game companies and leaking years of their plans along with employees' personal information. No, I'm not talking about what happened with, "Half-Life 2," years ago. I'm not even talking about when, "Grand Theft Auto VI," first leaked. I'm not talking about any of the other ransomware attacks either like Capcom faced (you may see a trend). This time I'm talking about the game developer Insomniac and how they were hacked.

Almost 2 terabytes of data were stolen including gameplay footage of the upcoming, "Wolverine," title, plans for other games like a Venom-centric one, and more. As Nicole Carpenter of Polygon puts it, this is "Unprecedented," in the scale and sheer volume of what was hacked. As I said, it isn't just gaming data, but hundreds of employees were essentially doxxed with HR files, scanned passports, and more out in the wind. Hacking a game company is dumb, it is evil, and you just hurt others and gain basically nothing besides information about stuff before it is ready to be officially shared. Use your hacking skills for good, not evil.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Now Warner Brothers Discovery Might Merge With Paramount and I Just Keep Thinking About, that "Network," Movie

Warner Brothers Discovery, itself a company created via a merger, might merge with Paramount. It is like these corporations just keep eating each other and rolling up into one big monstrosity. It all makes me think of, "Network." 

Yeah, remember that movie, "Network," by chance? No, not, "The Social Network," which was about Facebook and a good movie (but different). "Network," was a comedy-thriller-satire that came out in 1976 and featured a variety of characters including Peter Finch as Howard Beale. Howard Beale has a mental breakdown of sorts but his ramblings make for good television and he becomes a household hit as a news network moves away from actual news and instead goes for shocking things that scare viewers and reinforce their beliefs instead of challenging them. The movie was surreally prophetic, especially in its discussion of how there aren't nations so much as there are corporations. A character known as Arthur Jensen (played by Ned Beatty) tells Howard Beale how, "We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale; it has been since man crawled out of the slime." This speech among the entire superb script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, a genius for sure.

We seem to be moving more and more in the direction of a handful of megacorporations that have their hands in everything from stovetops to streaming, to theme parks to twill pants, and everything else. Instead of a college of corporations, we are moving at this rate towards having one single massive corporation owning essentially everything, and you can see it every day as companies just keep combining into a single imposing force. If we made a sequel to, "Network," somehow the idea of news networks running salacious stories and propaganda instead of the news would seem more quaint than shocking now. The stuff about corporations tho? That still carries a lot of prophetic heft and seems to be the direction we're moving in more every day. It's like a nesting doll of corporations inside corporations inside one big conglomerate. I for one just hope when Amazon-Disney-Apple-Warner Brothers Discovery-Paramount-Walmart-General Electric is formed it isn't some kind of self-aware corporation that deems humans little more than fodder for capitalism. I mean, that kind of is capitalism and how it views people anyway, but you know what I mean. More as this all develops.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

James McCaffrey AKA The Voice of Max Payne Has Passed Away

Many times on my blog I've written about my extreme fondness for the, "Max Payne," games. I love all three (2 is my favorite though) and one big element that made the games so fantastic had to be Payne himself and his voice--provided by James McCaffrey. McCaffrey also voiced Alex Casey, a Max Payne caricature of sorts in the, "Alan Wake," series (developed by the same studio behind the Max Payne titles, Remedy). McCaffrey also starred in a variety of live-action roles including the popular series, "Rescue Me." Sadly, he has passed from multiple myeloma, a type of cancer.

Everyone who ever worked with McCaffrey has been singing his praises and I know the voice of Max Payne simply would have never been the same without him always there to provide the signature mix of noir-growl-meets-self-aware-wink. James McCaffrey was 65 and is survived by his wife and daughter.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Marvel Has Fired Jonathan Majors

Jonathan Majors had gotten tons of press as an amazing up-and-coming talent. He also was to play a major role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Kang. Then a whole lot of domestic violence allegations came about and a lot of people dropped him from talent agencies or movies as it looked awful for Majors. However, Marvel took a wait-and-see approach while carefully tying up a lot of Kang stuff in the most recent season of, "Loki," with some apparent rewrites if Majors needed to be let go. Well, Majors was found guilty of domestic violence in a court of law, and an hour later or so, Marvel fired him

A lot of things can't stop Kang in the comics because he is practically immortal, but in the real world, it just takes a legal ruling for the character to disappear. That may sound a bit glib, but Majors literally had so much in his hands and it all seeped out like loose sand due to his poor choices. He was getting rave reviews for other roles and was basically the new big bad at Marvel with a movie featuring Kang's name. Now, he's a convicted felon facing prison time for assaulting his girlfriend. How this will impact the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains to be seen (I've seen suggestions that we could get a recast of Kang or Marvel just introduces other villains ASAP like Doctor Doom), but that's all the commercial stuff. On a personal level, I hope Majors can find help for his behaviors that led to this downfall and that anyone he's harmed can find peace and healing.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

That SNL, "Pongo," Segment Was Amazing

"Saturday Night Live," is always hit-or-miss with a lot of an episode's quality often riding on the host. That said, last night a longtime alum (Kate McKinnon) was back and she brought, "The jokes," for sure. My favorite bit of the night wasn't even a live one, however. It was the filmed segment about a new toy/pet named, "Pongo." It starts out quirkily enough on Christmas day with this weird claymation-looking thing advertised as the perfect pet because he requires basically nothing. Then the sketch keeps taking weirder and darker turns before in less than 5 minutes we've morphed into a piece of thrilling and hilarious, "Cosmic horror," as one site put it. Check the bit out for yourself and see:

Sarah Sherman plays the mother in the sketch and has seemed to figure heavily into the weirder bits on the show lately. It wouldn't surprise me if she had a major hand in writing/directing/etc. this ad for, "Pongo." I'll always take a weird SNL sketch over a boring one, and this is definitely weird and very funny!

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Today I Learned, "American Fiction," Adapts a Book I Loved Titled, "Erasure," and Now I Really Want to See it!

I was reading an interview with Jeffrey Wright discussing a new movie he is in titled, "American Fiction." Upon hearing the plot summary it sounded really familiar to me. Then it was mentioned that the movie actually is a loose adaptation of the fantastic Percival Everett novel, "Erasure." I loved that book when I read it way back in 2011 so learning of such a link got me quite excited. Plus, seeing positive reviews about how good the movie is catches my eye too.

Both, "American Fiction," and, "Erasure," focus on a scholarly writer named Thelonius, "Monk," Ellison who gets fed up with the fact he's Black resulting in his books (which have nothing to do with race) ending up African-American-centric areas of bookstores along with seeing, "Ghetto-lit," authors getting rave reviews for books that play into stereotypes. As a result, Monk writes his own book under an assumed name (Stagg R. Leigh) about the, "Authentic," Black experience that is nothing more than a bunch of cliches and offensive racial caricatures. You already know things go very wrong.

Reading about other fantastic folks in the cast (Issa Rae, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross, Adam Brody, Keith David, and more) only makes this flick sound even more appealing! It is showing in select theaters now and I hope to find a way to see it somewhere/rent it/stream it at some point!

Friday, December 15, 2023

Mixed Feelings Part Trois

Today is December 15th, 2023. On this day in 2019, we lost our second pregnancy and child, Shalom. I wrote about everything that had happened on the 22nd of that year. From 2019 on, the day of December 15th has given me mixed feelings, as I discussed in posts during 2021 and then 2022. The mixed feelings spring from being happy that the 15th is also my Mother's birthday and yet still sad as this is the day two years ago my Bubbie was buried. I miss our child we could not have, but now in 2023, we have a rainbow baby named Gibson

We have two children with us on this Earth but have three in our hearts. I feel so much happiness watching our eldest, Clarkson, keep growing and progressing. I feel joy that Gibson is here with us too and that he and Clarkson already seem to love each other (Clarkson will give him kisses on the head and Gibson looks at Clarkson and often giggles and smiles at his jumps and such). I do feel sadness knowing Shalom could not be here and I feel sorrow that my Bubbie could not meet Gibson--or any of my beloved relatives who have passed. There is a lot to think about.

I previously remarked how December 2019-December 2020 was the worst year ever for me, and then December 2020-2021 was about rebuilding and refocusing. December 2021-2022 was about aiming for, "...something that isn't necessarily a sense of recovery, but feeling like I and other loved ones are finally in a better place about the past, present, and hoping for a brighter future." I think December 2022 through now arriving at December 2023 has been an example of us working toward being in a happy and stable place. My goal now for 2024 is for us to truly thrive as a family. I am thinking of the past and the future in this present. Things were hard back then but seem to be moving in a positive direction now. I love my wife and children--the two here and the one we lost. I will continue to do my best as a Husband and Father for them all. 

I closed my first, "Mixed feelings," post with, "...I don’t know how much I believe in a God but I really hope God believes in me. Somebody’s got to." I think now realize regardless of any deity or force, the most important person who needs to believe in me is, in fact, me. I'm not sure I have absolute full confidence in myself, but I'm definitely getting there more and more every day.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

"The Finals," is as Fun as it is Explosive!

I mentioned how the game, "The Finals," was surprise-released in a previous post about video-game news. Well, I have now tried it and it is quite fun! Putting aside some controversy about AI voiceovers that have soured some folks on the game (I agree with the criticisms even if the developer shrugs them off), "The Finals," is a real hoot. It is free to play with a battle pass you can buy for all sorts of cosmetic tweaks to your characters. That aspect is like, "Fortnite," and other elements make me think of, "Battlefield," and, "Payday." The point is how in a 3 vs 3 vs 3 match you all want to get a vault and cash it. Plus, the whole environment can be destroyed beautifully. This results in tons of explosive mayhem. There are three character classes and one--the Heavy--is basically dedicated to destroying stuff. The Light class zips around and is a bit of a glass cannon and the medium build can be altered to serve more as a healer, support class, or a solid all-around choice.

Matches are fast-paced and all the character classes have enough gizmos and gadgets that the action stays fresh. The destructible environment is conducive to trying different strategies too. A bunch of opposing players were blocking their cashout box in a building in one match I was playing so I simply went outside, walked around the building, and blew a hole in the wall, quite surprising the person on the other side whom I then jumped at and walloped! "The Finals," is just simply a lot of fun and while it is pretty early in the game's life to offer a true, "Review," plus I haven't played as much as some folks, I would say in regards to what I have played, it has been a 5 out of 5 stars-level of fun! If you've got a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X or a PC, give, "The Finals," a try!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

I Have a Crazy Political Theory About Mark Cuban Running for President, But Hear Me Out!

I know it sounds a little crazy and like I've connected a bunch of dots that might not even go together, but I have a theory about Mark Cuban running for President that's been rattling around in my brain and I wanted to share it.

As some have noted, Cuban announced he was done with a show that made him quite known by the public, "Shark Tank," after the current season. He also is looking to sell his majority share in the Dallis Mavericks. He has said he is not running for any political office right now. However, what if he's eyeing 2028? It would not be a surprise. Honestly, he could win.

2024 is a hot garbage fire of an election. Biden is running for his second term despite having a lot of people not being a huge fan of him. Trump is running for a second (nonconsecutive) term having lost to Biden in 2020. If either wins they can't run again and if Trump loses--again--I imagine the Republican party will try its hardest to be done with him and force him to be a 3rd party candidate if he ever tries for political office again (assuming he doesn't end up in prison, which he should--one can dream). Once 2024 is done and the ashes from our metaphorical garbage fire have burned out by 2028, Cuban will be 70-ish years old, which is pretty damn young to be President these days considering how a few outliers aside (Obama) our Presidents tend to be pretty old. 2028 is wide open for someone like Cuban.

A Mark Cuban run for the Presidency would probably be him as a Democrat. I wager that as he is probably too liberal on Abortion and LGBTQ issues for Republicans--which, anything besides the most extremist views lately means you're too left-wing for them. He would actually have a ton of appeal to moderates and even a chunk of Republicans, however. The man could argue he is socially liberal but will use his business know-how to help other businesses. He already has invested in some intriguing drug cost programs so he has policy knowledge, Cuban could say as well. Hell, he can outright state how unlike Trump he is rich, just to twist the dagger a little at those who claim Trump is some kind of business genius despite his mainly financial failures. Cuban would wipe the floor with Trump (if they somehow tried him again should he lose in 2024) or pretty much any other Republican nominee.

Mark Cuban running as the Democratic nominee for the Presidency would pretty much be a lock for him to win. He gets the liberals, he draws enough folks who are moderate or fiscally conservative and fed-up with the anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice policies of Republicans, and then Cuban would truly be the most successful person to have ever been a shark on, "Shark Tank." Apologies to Kevin O'Leary AKA Mr. Wonderful for such a statement. I swear I could see this happening in 2028, but when I rattle off all these thoughts about Mark Cuban running for President I sound like Charlie Day's character on, "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia," that I put the meme of up above with some tweaks. It all makes perfect sense though, doesn't it? I mean, who else are the Democrats going to run in 2028? Gavin Newsome if he doesn't try to stage a shadow run in 2024? I guess time will tell, but in 2028 the race would arguably be Cuban's to lose. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Television Tuesday: "A Very Demi Holiday Special," is Relaxing Fun

I am a fan of Demi Lovato and enjoy a good deal of her tunes (note: she was going by they/them pronouns at one point but has now expressed she prefers she/her pronouns once more so I'm using those). When I saw she had an hour-long holiday show on the Roku channel I was intrigued. Titled, "A Very Demi Holiday Special," it is a fun 60 minutes of Demi singing some Christmas tunes, a few of her hits, and having several other famous friends hang out and make ugly sweaters, do some cooking, and so forth. It's very breezy and lighthearted, as one would hope a holiday special would be. Plus--and props to her for this--anytime Demi or a friend sing a song they sing it live, there is no lip-syncing. In an era where so much stuff is lip-synced or autotuned to Hell and back it is frankly impressive to see Demi and just a pianist or some backup singers hitting those high notes with nary a machine assisting.

My favorite part of the special would be when Demi and Trixie Mattel do a bit of the Nutcracker Ballet with all of an hour of training and tell countless jokes throughout the whole process, but the whole show is pretty darn fun and cute. As it is a part of Roku it is free with ads, so I'd recommend giving it a viewing!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Sean Gunn Playing Maxwell Lord Could be Snazzy

Sean Gunn is a solid actor who has appeared in several films including, yes, ones directed by his brother, James Gunn. Sean is a good actor and his brother likes to cast him, which one can say involves nepotism but if the man is skilled in a role I don't have an issue with it. Hence, I'm not surprised that for the DC Film Universe which James Gunn is now helming (with Peter Safran), how Sean Gunn has been cast as a character. The interesting thing is that it is Maxwell Lord.

Lord is a fascinating person when written well. A man with a shrewd mind who also seems to think steps ahead of others, Lord was kind of a good guy before taking a villainous route in the 2000s and then being killed by Wonder Woman (it was a whole thing). He got better from being dead in, "Brightest Day," and erased the memories of others he ever existed and then there were reboots, and it's complicated. Anyways, before his heel turn Lord helped create the Justice League International and otherwise had some cool adventures. He was portrayed by the superb Pedro Pascal in, "Wonder Woman 1984," which I have not yet seen (I have a long backlog of stuff to watch) but I heard he was good in it even if the movie faced a somewhat cold reception overall from viewers. Now Sean Gunn shall be Maxwell Lord in the latest DC Cinematic realm/universe/whatever.

James Gunn seemed to confirm on social media his take on Maxwell Lord will not be especially villainous, so if Sean will be giving us the multilayered and clever Lord I'm all for that. Now we just wait as DC's film plans finally start to coalesce together with various pieces of casting news and projects getting moving as the writing and acting strikes are over. Once Sean Gunn graces our silver screens as Maxwell Lord we'll be able to draw our final conclusions!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

I Missed the ToyMan Show Today

I was unable to attend the ToyMan show today. I wanted to, but due to our children sleeping horribly and having a social thing in the early afternoon, it was not feasible to go to the show. At least, not safely because I was exhausted and unable to drive a good chunk of this morning. That said, I imagine it was lots of fun and I hope to attend the next ToyMan on January 14th of 2024.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Various Bits of Video-Game News Have Occured

A lot of video-game news has occurred. Part of this is due to how the latest, "Game Awards," occurred the other night (even if some were quite critical of it as an actual awards show and not just a trailer showcase). For example, I was intrigued to hear Hideo Kojima has teamed with fantastic director Jordan Peele to give us a game called, "OD." Plus, I loved,"Crazy Taxi," as well as, "Jet Set Radio," back in the day so hearing Sega is bringing those back is really cool. The folks behind, "No Man's Sky," revealed, "Light No Fire," which would be a fantasy game on a planet the size of our actual Earth, somehow. The show also announced a, "Blade," video-game starring the titular vampire hunter from Marvel's Comics. If they do a game well with him that could be awesome.

Besides the, "Game Awards," other stuff has occurred in the realm of gaming. Everyone now is aware of the (official) announcement of, "Grand Theft Auto VI," to name what might be the biggest gaming news this week. Other interesting stuff has trickled out too. The super-delayed, "Skull and Bones," supposedly has an actual and concrete release date of February 16th, 2024. Oh, an incredibly hyped zombie game called, "The Day Before," was released and everyone hates it. Headlines have said the whole thing was a lie when it came to trailers and that it is a, "Dumpster fire." Another game actually had a surprise launch, however, and folks are digging it. Called, "The Finals," it is a big multiplayer arena shooter with a super destructive environment, and hearing it is free to play (it has cosmetic micro-transactions like other popular internet games) makes me pretty intrigued. As can be seen, a lot has happened with gaming lately. Now the issue is just finding the time to try all these games out!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Taylor Swift is Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2023 and That Sounds About Right

Taylor Swift has been crowned as Time Magazine's Person of the Year. I agree except for one aspect. You see, Taylor Swift is not just a person. Taylor Swift is a brand, and she is a juggernaut of one. Swift simply goes somewhere for a concert and supplies that location with millions of dollars as a boost to the economy. A Taylor Swift album streams at wild levels and even physical copies get bought in an era where folk's don't usually purchase a physical LP. Her concert movie sells out showings upon showings. Folks pay a ton of money to go to a football game with her boyfriend (Travis Kelce), hoping she'll show up and they'll see a glimpse of her. John Lennon once infamously said jokingly that the Beatles were more popular at a particular moment in time than Jesus. Well, Taylor Swift probably has more people hanging onto her every word right now than Jesus did when he was alive--one would hope things go better for her than Jesus though, things ended kinda roughly for the guy.

Lots of people adore Swift and even a lot of her former haters eventually came around (including me if you look at all my posts about her). In 2023 she was basically everywhere, so it makes sense why Time Magazine made her the most notable aspect of this year. Plenty of major events happened and other notable folks made an impact (Beyonce, to name another big celeb), but through it all there's been Swift. Yes, Taylor Swift is almost more of her own business conglomerate than an individual at this point, with no sign of slowing down. One only hopes as she gains even more fame, money, and power she is a benevolent ruler upon uniting everyone on Earth and assuming the title of our planet's queen. I guess time will tell.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Happy First Night of Hanukkah!

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. Over eight days the holiday will take place and folks will celebrate by lighting candles (or if they're old-school, oil). I'm not especially observant of religious holidays now that I'm older but I have lots of fun memories of Hanukkah with my family as a kid. I hope everyone has a good Hanukkah!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

"Cornmother," is an Impressively Creepy Tale

I always love reading the latest upcoming releases from Blue Fox Comics and when they reached out to let me know about, "Cornmother." A Kickstarter campaign will launch soon for this 32-page one-shot by Alexandra Leda which draws upon ancient harvest superstitions. The comic follows a young girl named Ruth who observes a doll of some sort made out of corn in the barn. Then things get eerie as the cornfield seems to want Ruth for some ominous reason.

Leda does a superb job with this comic as a feeling of being ill-at-ease permeates the whole thing. The artwork in particular imparts a creepy vibe as cute little Ruth seems to encounter a dark force that could possibly mean her serious harm. The way the imagery of the cornstalks fill and shift around the pages feels as intrusive to us readers as if we were in an actual thick field of corn. It's impressive and scary!

"Cornmother," will have a Kickstarter to fund the comic that launches sometime this month (I am not sure of the exact launch date). I would highly recommend backing the comic once you have a chance as this is a superbly scary story worth checking out!

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God," is Incredibly Messed Up

I've been on a cult-kick for my documentaries, I won't deny it. I watched both docuseries about the, "Twin Flames," cult/pyramid scheme and now I have viewed all three episodes of, "Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God." If I may be blunt, this show had me saying, "What. The. Fuck," several times as things just got too strange to comprehend. The three-episode series chronicles the life of Amy Carlson by opening with her death. The woman created a cult full of new-age ramblings, theories about dead celebrities providing guidance, spaceships, and a mish-mash of conspiracy theories. 

At its heart, one can see Amy Carlson had a lot of mental issues and during the brief times she thought about getting help, others who were benefiting from her financially thanks to her followers made sure the gravy train kept running and Amy/Mother God continued to think she was a deity upon Earth who needed to raise funds so afford a metric ton of drugs and alcohol that everyone subsisted on nearly constantly to the point food was practically an afterthought. Amy was charismatic enough and had others in her orbit who were smart enough to ensure money was made and the good times kept rolling until, of course, they didn't. 

The problem with every commune, utopia, or cult that has ever existed would be that in the end they don't work and it all crumbles spectacularly. I got to the point I was both aghast and cracking up at the sheer absurdity of this, "Love has Won," cult when--spoiler if you want to go into this mostly unaware of the twists and turns--we got to the part of the story where they are transporting Amy's dead and blue body (she took so much colloidal silver she turned blue) across state lines and putting sunglasses on her so it just looks like she's passed out in the back. Yes, they pulled a, "Weekend at Bernie's," with their cult leader's corpse and that's just one of many surreal moments in this documentary. If you can handle an incredibly disturbing and sad docuseries I would recommend giving, "Love Has Won: The Cult of Mother God," a viewing on HBO/MAX. It's so, so weird and just as fascinating.

5 out of 5 stars.

2 Interesting Bits of Comic News From Today: A New, "Nacelleverse," and Millarworld Moves Publishers

Two things in the realm of comics caught my eye today and I thought I'd discuss them in one big combo post. Let's begin...

First, I got a press release from my friend Hanna Bahedry which discussed a new comic universe being launched by Oni/Lion Forge. Called the, "Nacelleverse," it will feature an assortment of series all taking place in the same universe with past characters being brought back in a new form such as Biker Mice From Mars, the Great Galoo, and more. This will tie in with the animated series, "Robo Force," as well which is being worked on by Seven Bucks Production--the company with the rights to all these IPs that has partnered with Oni/Lion Forge. Bleedingcool wrote a bit about this too and with some pretty big names attached in some fashion--Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds--my interest is piqued. The #0 issue reintroducing all the characters drops in early 2024 and will be followed by individual series.

The other interesting comic news I saw today is about Mark Millar and his Millarworld imprint. For quite a while it has been a part of Image comics, but Millar announced today it is moving to Dark Horse. It will remain creator-owned (mainly by him as the big creator) and be an imprint at Dark Horse as well. I honestly haven't liked much of anything Millar's written lately (the last thing he did I genuinely liked was, "Superior,) but adaptations of his works seem to happen a lot and some make serious bank even if others falter. He's had more hits than misses when his work gets optioned, I suppose, so Millarworld moving to Dark Horse is a nice feather in the cap of a company that for a while was unfortunately hemorrhaging many good series to other publishers. I imagine Image is none too pleased, however. That's what was intriguing to me today, I hope you thought it was useful information too!

"Grand Theft Auto VI," Has an Official Trailer

If you're online much at all you have probably seen it, and yes, they are indeed calling it, "Grand Theft Auto VI," as I expected but wasn't absolutely sure about. The trailer for what might be the most anticipated video-game ever in history so far was supposed to drop today in the morning, as Rockstar had teased, but it was leaking everywhere so it is out as of yesterday evening

Featuring a B-side by Florida native Tom Petty, the GTA VI trailer appears to confirm two main characters, the location being Vice City, and a whole lot of Florida-Man style satire coming this way. We're over a decade out since the last, "Grand Theft Auto," and the World it often parodies has changed immensely. It looks like the idea of internet streaming will play a pivotal role in the plot, however, with much of the trailer taking place over faux apps showing their video clips and streams. I've seen more and more discussion about how the developer, Rockstar, doesn't want to be seen as, "Punching down," in the humor while still mocking stuff and being funny. We will see how that goes without a doubt. Here is the trailer:

What really caught my eye--and maybe yours now that you've watched the trailer in case you'd somehow not seen it yet--was just how alive everything looked for being computer graphics. It's not quite in that uncanny valley realm of discomfort, but the way characters moved around just seemed eerily natural. The way characters walked, ran, sashayed, flipped their hair, or twerked--yes, even that--was astonishing within these brief 90 seconds or so we witness what will be GTA VI. There are plenty of vehicles too as this is a GTA, but random silly touches like alligators in swimming pools, a mudding event full of self-proclaimed hillbillies, or humorous billboards make this World really look lived-in and vividly real even if at its heart his is a spoof of America and amplifies what we would call, "Reality," to absurd and hilarious levels.

The trailer states how, "Grand Theft Auto VI," will be out in 2025--and when exactly in that year is unclear. This means we are due for a lot more to be revealed about the latest GTA over a lot of months. Will there be annoying microtransactions? How will online play work? Can we catch those alligators with nets ourselves? These questions and many more remain, but at least now GTA VI is official. Now we wait, and wait, and wait.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Comixology Has Been Dismantled/Killed/Turned into Parts

The 2014 version of myself was right about a lot of things and wrong about a lot of things, that much I can say looking back to then from 2023. I knew back then I loved my now-wife and wanted to be with her forever--that was a smart assessment. I also thought that it wasn't a big deal Amazon acquired Comixology and the platform would be just fine. Anyways, as of today, December 4th, 2023, what remained of Comixology's already heavily dismantled form was buried in a shallow grave out back with other popular apps big corporations acquired and destroyed--I believe its plot is next to, "Vine." 

Yes, over a long period of time, Amazon slowly took apart anything that made Comixology good to the point where the app/site sucked to use and then was little more than a shuffling shell/zombie of itself. Now, Amazon has completely killed Comixology and folded it into their Kindle stuff--confusing many. Comixology was a bit of a monopoly that another pseudo-monopoly acquired so this isn't necessarily a tale of the, "Little guy," being hurt by big business. It's just big business all around doing what large corporations do best, consume and destroy in the name of profit. Still, it is a bummer and I request you imagine a collage of virtual comic panels flashing by in an, "In Memoriam," segment as Sarah McLachlan sings, "I will remember you," and a single solitary tear streams down our cheek. Just please hold your applause until the end, it's awkward when some things get louder claps than others.

Jay-Z's 54th Birthday is Today and it Got Me Thinking About Rap Growing Older

Shawn Carter, or as he is also known, Jay-Z, turns 54 years old today. Hip-Hop was considered by many to turn 50 this year. A lot of rappers who once were young and edgy to the degree that parents protested them now are grandfathers who hang out with Martha Stewart (Snoop Dogg), popular mainstream movie or television stars (Ludacris, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Ice-T and more), or releasing instrumental albums dedicated to playing the flute and other woodwinds (Andre 3000, who outright has said he doesn't know what a 40-something man might rap about). 

There are plenty of young(er) rappers out there who are immensely talented, without a doubt. We've got Kendrick Lamar amazing listeners still. Drake is hugely popular too. That said, you see a stark generational divide in Hip-Hop between the new young folks rapping about the go-to subjects of partying and sex versus older rappers who either have quit for other passions or seem past their prime (Eminem belongs on a metaphorical rap Mount Rushmore but his newer stuff has been lacking). Dr. Dre is about a billionaire thanks to headphones. Uncle Luke of the 2 Live Crew maybe once was as nasty as he wanted to be, but now he's a high school football coach--and actually quite a good one! Rap isn't just young folks anymore, it has older talent too and arguably is a genre in a bit of a aged-up/midlife crisis.

Rap can be about drinking, smoking weed, having sex, and being a troublemaker. Rap can be about politics, life's struggles, religion, and being true to oneself. For a long time outside of some gimmick rappers, however, I don't think rap ever really thought about dealing with the subject of getting old. The idea was to live fast and die young, and that tragically did happen with a number of Hip-Hop stars. That said, Lil Kim arguably paved the road for today's raunchy lady rappers who proudly will discuss sexual subjects, but she's now almost 50 and while older folks surely have sex, she's dealing with other aspects of life like (unfortunately) trouble with the IRS

Rappers are getting older and so are their fans. Can someone in their 30s relate to Sexyy Red as much as the younger folks or do we need the older rappers to touch on subjects relating to us being older? I'm not saying Andre 3000 should finally release a rap album with a track about getting a prostate exam, but just as rap has covered a wide range of subjects, why not touch upon what it is like being middle-aged? Jay-Z once rapped about selling drugs to get by, now he can rap about being a parent. He's grown and parts of rap have grown too. There will always be space for the younger rappers and the subjects the teens/20-somethings want covered. Let's give some space to the older folks too.