Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween!

 It's Halloween again!

This is usually when I share cosplay I saw at NYCC this year!

...But I didn't go this year. Yeah, big shocker.

I actually did other things this month!

In place of New York Comic Con, I spent that weekend on a trip to Kalahari Resorts in Pennsylvania! It's a giant indoor waterpark in the Poconos, and for once I was able to relax.

A few pics to show you just what was in store for me. I'm a colossal wimp when it comes to most water slides, I mostly vegged out in the two (yes two!) lazy rivers they had there. I haven't been to a water park in several, several years and this was the first one I've been to that was built in the past decade or so. Water parks have come so far, there were at least four giant slides with funnel elements.

I didn't go on those. I instead went on the smaller slides, and I liked the ones that needed innertubes better. And even then, I only rode those once each, because lugging up inner tubes up all those stairs gets pretty tiring when you're in your thirties. And if the water coaster they had there was running, I would've ridden that one, too. I guess I like being in control of something when I go on a ride? I was able to ride the "baby" slides, and those went really fast as it was! You wouldn't catch me dead on those two really tall slides that shot you straight down.

If I had to say a downside to the place, it's that it knows that you're a captive audience, and that you're more or less in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania and they charge you for everything like such. Prepare for three dollar sodas and forty dollar dinner buffets. Do you know what Sheetz is? If you don't, they won't tell you that there's one about ten minutes away. (It's kind of like Pennsylvania's answer to Wawa or 7-11 and way cheaper). And don't get me started on the price of booze.

It's also worth noting that by design, most of the water slides go out of the building before winding back inside, which makes the layout super confusing.

And it doesn't help that most of the slides have names like "The Smoke That Thunders," that don't really tell you what kind of ride you're in for.

It doesn't make for good pictures, anyway.

I DID, however, managed to snag these pictures a few weeks later when I took another trip to the area. This time it was for a buddy's bachelor party, the first one I've ever been to!

About a dozen of us went to this big farm house in the middle of nowhere for a weekend of fun.

Some nice views, if I may say so.

And drinking. Lots of drinking. Again, I was able to relax for once in my life and it was pretty nice to not have to care about any worries, at least for a weekend or two. Would highly recommend doing that.

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Comic Book Basic?

I went to Big Apple Con this past weekend and, well, I may have gone a bit crazy buying up some old comics.

Am I a bit basic for picking up Venom: Lethal Protector #1? There aren't a lot of covers that scream "90s" more than that. So much holofoil.

Or Sensational She-Hulk #1?

Or Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, the issue where Peter Parker and Mary Jane get married?

Perhaps. I never fancied myself a "Comic Book Guy." but I'd been eyeballing those "basic" issues for a while and finally decided to pick them up. Thankfully they were all made in the past 35 years, so picking those up didn't break the bank too much. Hell, ACTUAL key comics (like the actual first appearances of Venom, She-Hulk, or any character people have actually heard of) go into the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars these days. It's a nice racket if you can get into it. It's one of those things where if I had a time machine, I'd go and grab all those early DC and Marvel stuff for nickels apiece, and then grade and sell them when I get back to the present.

It's the only reason I can explain the existence of this copy of Superman #1 in an 8.0 grade. I know less about how comic grading works, but what I do know is that an 8.0 for something that old and iconic is nearly unheard of, it's practically as good as it gets. Someone drew on the cover, and it has a few scuffs, but after 80 years I dare you to find something that looks that good.

For instance, this same issue, graded in .5 (essentially the cover is intact, but not attached to the issue, and there's no back cover), had a price tag of $100,000. That 8.0 is probably worth millions.

They were among several old, iconic comics in a tiny museum display the convention was running. I didn't take pics of all of what they had because frankly, when you've seen one copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 or Incredible Hulk #1, you've seen them all.

That brings us to the other headliner, Bob Kane's personal copy of Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman. It, in unpleasant terms, looks like shit. But since it was owned by Batman's co-creator, that's a piece of history we're looking at here, and I was in awe just looking at it.

And in case you were wondering, here's what the back cover of one of the most iconic comic books of all time looks like. So many scams.

And the book I'm assuming the comic was bound in before it was graded. It's older than your parents, maybe even your grandparents at this point.

But basic aside, if you've read this blog long enough, I think you know where my tastes truly lie.

I'd been looking for a decent copy of this strange Jimmy Olsen issue for what felt like years, and snagged this one. Yes, in one issue Superman must confront that Jimmy has fallen into a crowd of (GASP) dirty hippies! The story is probably lame, but we all know the cover is why many of us even collect the things.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have this incredible silly Lois Lane cover. Even out of context, this is just dumb and hilarious. Also, don't pay attention to the price tags on these, a lot of the booths had sales, especially the one I bought these two issues from.

But I am here to show off what was probably my favorite find that day:

Yes! I finally found one of the Green Lantern/KFC comics in the wild. From 2017, this was the third in a series of KFC comics that were produced by DC for SDCC. 

It's well known that I love weird, random crossovers, and this is as weird and random as it gets and I'd been dying to get my hands on them. It's Colonel Sanders recruiting the Green Lanterns in a search through space, how is that not amazing? The other two issues involve alternate Col Sanders a la The Green Lantern Corps, and you just know I eat stuff like that up like a ten piece bucket.

For a free comic, for some reason they shot up in price almost immediately. Maybe it was because the novelty value? It's not often you see comics made in the past ten years be really expensive, unless they're first prints of series that eventually became hit shows (cough)Walking Dead, Invincible(cough), or it was some variant by some artist that I've never heard of. In any case, I had to pick this up, damn the expense. It was under three digits, but it currently stands as the most I spent on a comic.

And I'll add that I managed to get Thor 337, the first appearance of Beta Ray Bill, for $67. At that con, the lower asking price I saw was around $250. Most cases, I'd say trawl eBay, those are where the best deals are.

These were nowhere near all of the stuff I picked up that day, but these were some of the highlights. Maybe I'll share the rest one day? Until then, you'll probably more likely to see them on my Instagram page, conveniently linked at the bottom of each post.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

AuGHOST 2021!

Another August has come and gone, so that means it's time to share some ghost drawings!

Yes, for the FOURTH year in a row, I participated in the #AuGHOST drawing prompt!

But first links to the previous entries: 2020, 2019, 2018

#31 - Future


My approach for this drawing was "Wow Ghost is looking through VR goggles." I hope I got that message across. The goggles looked better in my head.

...Wait, that's it?! Yeah, sorry folks. This month had been pretty busy and stressful, so I didn't want to really commit to a daily drawing this year. And to be honest, I got intimidated by some of the prompts. I know I wasn't bound to do every prompt, but the completionist in me demands an all or nothing approach. How the hell was I supposed to draw a catapult, anyway?! 

In any case, maybe I'll go back to do the rest eventually? Drawing this one earlier today was pretty fun. I'm still rusty, but I bet I can improve once I realize I need to spend more than ten minutes on these things.

But I'll tell you about something else I did last week!

Pokemon cards have really exploded in popularity over the last year for some reason. Maybe because people were cooped up in their houses and decided to buy new stuff, and sell what they had because they were bored? Maybe new sets had some really cool looking (and valuable) cards in them and people went into a frenzy?

I'm pretty sure the spark came from one of the youtube douchebags that decided to auction off some unopened Base Set packs and it launched a frenzy that I think is starting to finally dwindle down. Seriously, packs and boxes that sat on shelves for months disappeared in the span of a week to the point where places like Target either watch those packs like a hawk, or stopped selling them altogether.

Between Pokemon, Yugioh, and all the sports cards are rising in popularity, this hobby hasn't seen this level of enthusiasm in years. Seriously, the last time Pokemon reached "we're putting limits on this crap" status was nearly twenty years ago when the cards first came out.

And naturally, I was one of those kids that got sucked into it. I was in middle school and just discovered the concept of disposable income. Nobody could really stop me from going to the card shop in town and just cleaning house...within reason. Back then, buying a few packs every so often wouldn't do it for me, so I started buying them by the box to scratch that itch.

Eventually, I wanna say mid 2001, I just...stopped being interested in cards. It was a combination of buyer's remorse and the gambling bug being much too strong for me to resist. The Neo line for the Johto games had started coming out, and I guessed I wondered why I kept bothering. I kept buying packs, and I knew the cards were never gonna stop being made. It was getting repetitive and draining my wallet, so I stopped keeping up with it.

Jump to last year when I got caught in that frenzy again. I didn't do much, just bought a few packs here and there, not really liking what I got out of the packs. The company that made the cards changed from Wizards of The Coast to the Pokemon Company itself several years ago and I had some catching up on all the new kinds of cards they made.

In the old days, you wanted holo cards, if you got lucky. The Japanese sets guaranteed one in every pack. Not so much the English versions. Now the holo cards are just "okay." What everyone wants are full art cards, VMAX cards, alt art cards, rainbow cards, gold cards. It goes on, and frankly I no longer have the patience for that.

But two sets caught my eye. One was Shining Fates. It wasn't a normal set that you could just go down to the store and get, no problem. No, this set (along with Champion's Path and Hidden Fates) could only be bought out of multipacks and things called Elite Trainer Boxes.

Or these boxes with giant promo cards. Oh, and since they get snatched up the moment they get onto shelves, you pretty much have to pay out the ass on eBay for these.

What's special about Shining Fates is that there's a crapload of shiny pokemon cards. Hidden Fates has them too, but I love the art in this set, and frankly it's newer and cheaper, so I naturally gravitated towards this set.

The other set that caught my eye is the newest one that got released, Evolving Skies. These days about two Japanese sets are used for every English set, and this one used a set for dragons, and another one called Eevee Heroes. That name, as you could guess, is all about Eevee and its evolutions. 

I found a few packs of those a month ago, and got some gorgeous looking cards. I love me some Eeveelutions, most notably Vaporeon and Sylveon, I had to get my hands on these as soon as I could. 

So on Saturday I stumbled on a collectable store that I had never been in before, and they had just about everything. Most of the Pokemon stuff was priced out the ass...but not this booster box. Maybe because it was brand new? Either way, much like twenty years ago I had money to burn and the set was full of cards I fell in love with. This was a VERY dangerous combination and it came home with me.

BOOM! Rainbow card! Only eight packs in, too. That's also the danger of gambling, there's a hit every once in a while to keep your interest going as long as possible. The odds of pulling one were roughly 1/108 packs, and this set has SIXTEEN of them.

And BOOM! The other big hit: Alt Art Umbreon. This really is a nice looking card. The odds of pulling an alt art card is roughly 1/101, and I got both of these in the same box.

And here are the other hits. They're still really impressive, and pretty to look at. Out of 36 packs, 17 of them gave me anything worth writing home about. I never wrote down the ratio of what it would've been back then, but the odds seemed the same, if my old collection was any indication. It means that pull odds aren't very good, and it's a good way for people to buy LOTS of packs, or buy them off someone else. I'd say they were meant to be traded, but who honestly trades these cards anymore?

Also worth noting is that every pack contains a reverse holo. Meaning, every part of the card is holo except for the art. That means ANY card can be holo, even the ones that normally are, like the Entei seen above. None of them are worth much, moneywise. I just think some of them look cool, like these two.

And isn't that the most important thing about collecting Pokemon cards?

The answer is no.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

I Beat Animal Crossing!

Well, there's no "real" way to beat Animal Crossing besides paying off your house, and I did that a year ago.

The way I usually consider beating those games is catching every fish (which I did back in December), and every bug.

Well, this past Tuesday I finally caught the final bug: The Scarab Beetle. It's one of the hardest bugs to spawn in the game, and it took me a solid year to try to catch it again. It only spawns on trees during July and August...and only after 11pm. I haven't been able to stay awake long enough to commit myself to try to find one for more than an hour at a time, and thankfully that attempt only took about twenty minutes.

Compare that to the other rare spawn, the Golden Stag. This one also only spawns during July and August, but only on coconut trees. I managed to catch that one a few weeks back, and THAT took about two hours.

As much as Blathers hated it, I was finally done!

And when you catch the last bug, you're sent a recipe for the Golden Net the next day.

And of course you get an achievement for crafting it, and it was the last golden tool I needed.

Thanks to boredom, this was the first Animal Crossing game I got all the golden tools for. The golden axe was way easier to get this time around, you just had to break 100 axes, and that took forever. The golden shovel required you to help Gulliver 30 times. And the pirate version didn't count towards that, and regular Gulliver shows up roughly every week, so this would take you at least half a year to complete. For the watering pail, you needed to get a five star island rating, and this was the first game where I had enough patience to actually try to achieve that. I needed to cut down a lot of trees. You needed to pop twenty balloons to get the golden slingshot, and the recipe showed up in a golden balloon. The golden fishing rod, as I said earlier, required you to catch every fish.

And what now? Just catch bugs in a cool looking net? Guess so.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June is Done!

Well, another June has come and gone, and frankly, even with the stress I've been under lately, this month's gone better than the last couple of Junes.

No one (I know) died, and nothing was broken nor did any real misfortune plague me. There's still a few hours left of the month, I shouldn't jinx myself.

But first, some big news!

Baja Blast is back! In bottle form! It's pretty much the only flavor of Mountain Dew I like, and since I refuse to go to Taco Bell after they discontinued the Cool Ranch Dorito Taco, I gotta wait until these bad babies hit store shelves. As of right now, I can only find them at gas stations, and only certain ones, and attempts to buy in bulk and ration them had failed. Seriously, I bought two because there was a buy two deal to drink one then, and save the other for another day, and guess what I did? Drink them both that same day. I couldn't help myself! I kept turning down Pepsi Blue because these two sodas aren't available in the same places.

Oh yeah, Pepsi Blue is back, too. I thought I mentioned it before on here, but turns out I hadn't.

I hadn't had the stuff in over fifteen years, but wouldn't you know it, it's still great! It tastes exactly the same: Blue. I said back in the day that it was like drinking a blue raspberry Airhead, and suffice it to say Pepsi had not changed it at all.

I've realized that I have a difference in preference for these two sodas. I have to be in a certain mood to crave Pepsi Blue; whereas if I'm not careful, Baja Blast has the potential to replace water in my diet. I used to date someone who let that happen to her, and I can say from the experience that Mountain Dew addiction is real and not pleasant to deal with.

I also finally tried Burger King's entry in the Fast Food Chicken Sandwich War. This is the Ch'King sandwich, and of course it's the spicy kind.

This lunch got me to start thinking. This whole spicy chicken craze didn't start with everyone trying to copy Chik-Fil-A to try to sap their customers away.

"It's just as good as Chik-Fil-A, only eating this one means you don't support a (openly) homophobic company!" I'd imagine the marketing people were thinking.

No, every single one of these chains are trying to ape the success of Popeye's,  They're trying to replicate the massive demand and sales the sandwich got, but no other place has come close to realizing why Popeye's got all the attention. The secret is that they struck gold with the taste of its spices and breading of its regular chicken, but in sandwich form. It's as simple as that. And also because they were the first ones out of the gate, with the rest of the industry playing catch up.

Burger King has come the closest to replicating that sandwich, right down to the style of the bun and the pickles. All in all, I liked it, but I could tell it was a cheap imitator of the Popeye's sandwich, and if you have a Popeye's nearby, I suggest you head there. Not to say that this was a bad sandwich at all! There was something a bit off. I could only briefly taste the spices, and the flavor of the breading and the bun reminded me too much of Popeye's.

And finally, Conan O'Brien bid farewell to late night tv for the third time. He might just be going to HBO Max, but this is truly an end to an era. I can truly say that my awful sleep schedule can be blamed on staying up to watch his show at 12:30 at night during High School. Oh, at first I'd just watch Letterman, but since I wasn't going to sleep anyway, I might as well check out that guy that danced with Bart Simpson.

What I found amongst the celebrity interviews and performances by bands no one's heard of (yet always had the biggest audience reaction) were absurd, odd sketches by equally odd characters. Conan wasn't afraid to be weird, and nearly thirty years on, he still finds ways to show that off. 

Case in point, my favorite remote of his during the TBS era was when he visited the American Girl Doll Store.

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It only took a few minutes before Conan's headcanon with his doll became that she lived in Nazi Germany and was a raging alcoholic. Only Conan. My early (and let's face it, current) attempts at comedy was trying to pull off even a tenth of what he does.

Thanks, Conan. Thonan.

Monday, May 31, 2021

BTS McNuggets

Lately McDonalds has done promotions for various celebrity "meals", gimmick orders by celebrities that I've barely heard of. 

First with J Balvin (whoever that is)

And then Travis Scott.

These looked okay, but nothing REALLY special. Like, there's no special bun or meat made from something I hope was meat at one time. One was a Big Mac meal (sans pickles) with a McFlurry, the other was a Quarter Pounder meal with a Sprite and BBQ sauce. Pass.

And then came BTS.

You know, that Korean boy band whose fanbase combats conservative trolls by brigading twitter with gifs of them?

Well, they just dropped a meal, too.

It's just a 10 piece McNugget meal...but it comes with two sauces I've never encountered before: Sweet Chili and Cajun.

I knew I'd check these out eventually, but a positive review from former Simpsons writer & showrunner Bill Oakley made me want to check it out pronto.

And here it is! Again, just a McNugget meal. But the sauces...THE SAUCES.

Sweet Chili was like a spicy sweet & sour: tangy, but also really sweet and spicy. Cajun, meanwhile, was a mustard-based sauce that was also spicy. Both of them were pretty fantastic. I'm surprised they gave me two of each, usually fast food places are stingy with all their sauces these days. I took the extras home with me, they're definitely not gonna go to waste.

They were definitely better than when I tried Szechuan sauce when it got released a few years back.

That one tasted like sweet and sour mixed with teriyaki. I know some people like that kind of flavor, but I didn't. 

These two sauces are way better. It's a definite recommend from me. Apparently it's only here until June 20th, but I'd grab it as soon as you can.

The first three pictures in this post are from this Insider article.