Brandon's Journal


I’ve always loved comic books. Superheroes, Archie, horror, you name it, I probably like it. But I wouldn’t call myself a super fan. In fact, my comic book reading has been quite sporadic over the years. I’ve got through five or six year gaps where I haven’t read anything at all but then at other times I read weekly. The best method for me to consistently read is to catch up about every six months or so, that way I can read through entire story arcs and truly appreciate what is going on.

A couple years ago, I gave up on comic reading. I was frustrated and a little burned out, and I figured it was time for me to drop the hobby. So, I haven’t read much over the past two or three years, but I have found myself really wanting to dive back into them here lately.

Marvel comics haven’t interested in me in quite some time, but I am a big DC fan. I was excited to start up a couple of DC books but then the DC bloodbath occurred. Corporate cost cutting hammered the DC workforce and well… that bothers me. I’m not against downsizing or anything, but I have a feeling AT&T is going to take a similar approach to their DC properties that Disney is doing and just farm them for IPs and discard the comics. I know, I could just forget all of that and enjoy the stories, but I think my frustration with the world as a world prevents me from doing that right now. So, I decided to look elsewhere. I checked out some of the smaller companies and so far, I’ve found some incredible books. I thought I’d talk about a few of them here:

Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

This may be my favorite graphic novel of all-time. Part pulp, part western, part man trying to find his place in this world… this book had everything that I love in good storytelling. The artwork is gorgeous and I am just stunned by how perfect this book was. I’ll definitely be buying a hardcover in the future to display on my shelf and appreciate for years to come.

Interesting Articles I Found Related to Pulp: (They do contain spoilers so read them at your own risk.)


The pulp Western publishing history underlying Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ ‘PULP’

Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell'Edera

Something is Killing the Children was originally scheduled to be a five-part limited series, but was quickly promoted to an on-going series because sales. The book reminds me of a new, twisted take on Buffy and I mean that in a very good way. So far, I’ve read issues 1-6 and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. There are quite a few questions left that I want to know answers to, however, I’m not sure if this is something I’d read for years to come.

Firefly by George Pak and Dan McDaid

I went into this book a bit apprehensive. I love Firefly but I've never been all that impressed with the various tie-ins. They've been quite hit and miss with me and I attempted to start the novel series recently released but grew frustrated about one-third of the way into the story. I decided to give the comic series a chance to provide me with an adequate story from the Verse and I feel like it delivered. It's not perfect, but its eons better than the novel and I like the story and artwork. The characters are pretty spot-on and I enjoy the pacing. I devoured issues 1-10 in one sitting and it actually kept me up pretty late and almost made me late for work the next day! I'm excited to continue reading this series.

#100DaysToOffload 71/100

Recently, I wrote about my fondness for movie and television novelizations, especially those from the 80's and 90's. While doing a little research for that particular post I ran across a link inside a book that directed me to Retro Reading Time, a website ran by a very nice guy who spends some of his free time converting old novelizations into digital form.

I was flabbergasted by the selection included on Retro Reading Time and immediately started downloading tons of great books. Some of them I'd seen and read before (various Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and others I didn't even know exist (Short Circuit, Adventures in Babysitting). But there was barely a book in the library that I wasn't interesting in reading.

If you are interested in out of print novelizations I highly recommend you check out Retro Reading Time.

#100DaysToOffload 70/100 #SiteSpotlights

Well... football is back and I noticed leaves on the ground as I walked into the work this morning. Fall is indeed on it's way.

We are halfway through September and it feels like it should be May. The disruption of 2020 has even thrown my introverted internal clock off. That's not to say I'm not happy to see Fall, it just makes me wonder if this will be considered a lost year.

The sporting events, box office totals, job loss stats and the like will all be branded with an asterisk noting the extraordinary circumstances that occurred. I wonder if I'll mark this year with an asterisk when I look back on my life or if it'll be just another blip like every other year.

I've found the way for me to keep my spirits up is to focus on something each week. Maybe it's watching Martin Scorsese movies or maybe its following NASCAR. Maybe it's binge watching horror movies or reading a book. I just try to find something that I can focus on and near obsess over and it gets me through the workweek which is by far the hardest. My work has become intolerable and I just need something to focus on while I'm there.

Avoiding the news and well... at times, avoiding people have also been key to keeping my sanity. Sometimes you have to weigh the suffering and irritation that can come with interacting with people in comparison to just taking solace in the quiet and as of late, the quiet has been winning out big time. I enjoy nothing more than sitting on the couch and watching a movie far away from the drama outside my door.

#100DaysToOffload 70/100

A couple of months ago, I bought a laserdisc of the movie Stargate. I don't own a laser disc player, but I'm a big Stargate fan and I really loved the artwork on the laser disc so I bought it for display purposes. Years ago, I saw someone with a massive frame of audio albums online and I always thought that would be cool to do with laser discs.

It took me a while to get around to buying a frame for my album, but I found one for $9.99 at Walmart that looks pretty good. My fiancée recommended I pick up a few more so that we can hang them above the TV in our bedroom and that sent me on a wild goose hunt for cool looking laser discs.

I spent some time thinking about what movies I wanted to feature: Do I do my favorite movies? or Do I stick to a single genre? I decided I wanted to keep a theme going, so I decided to look up other sci-fi movies that had nice cover art.

One of the first movies that popped up is an old favorite of mine that I haven't seen in years: The Arrival. This is not to be confused with Arrival from 2015. This film stars Charlie Sheen and was released in 1996 and seemed to air around the clock on HBO.

The film is about an astronomer who discovers evidence of intelligent alien life and ends up in a huge conspiracy. It was familiar territory for all the TV shows and movies that were coming out on the heels of The X-Files, but this one had a little more class to it since it was written and directed by David Twohy, who wrote The Fugitive and Waterworld, and went onto write and direct the Riddick Franchise and A Perfect Getaway.

The Arrival was very much a high end B film that was better than anyone expected. It was the type of movie you'd easily get lost in and I must have seen it a couple dozen times.

The artwork for the laser disc is beautiful and way better than the VHS and DVD releases. I think it'll look great right next to my Stargate laserdisc.

I'm still debating on what other films to display but I'm keeping with the sci-fi/alien theme and leaning towards: Fire in the Sky and an X-Files disc, but I may go with Communion.

#100DaysToOffload 69/100

About ten years ago, I went into one of those bookstores that sells books by the pound. It was located in a sketchy, industrial part of town and was located in a smelly warehouse with shelves made of 2x4s. The racks were full of books from the 70's-90's, with a few newer (and some older) titles sprinkled in. Massive palettes of books were spread everywhere and it was almost impossible to move around let alone actually search for anything. After an hour of browsing, I walked out with nothing, but I left some stuff on the shelves I wish I would have grabbed.

This bookstore (which went out of business within a few months) was loosely organized by genre. There was a teen section, which is not something I'd normally find myself browsing, but when I walked by I saw some titles catch my eyes. Titles that I hadn't seen since the Scholastic Book Fairs of the 90's. Titles like Rosewell High, Clueless, Saved by the Bell, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Titles that were popular when I was a teen.

I absolutely adore movie/tv tie-in novels and this love grew from those book fairs. Between the Newberry Award Winners and Lamborghini Posters, there were all sorts of small books that expanded the universe of some of my favorite shows and franchises. For the most part, these books were written for girls, so I'd glance across this as inconspicuous as possible before picking up something less feminine, but if I had to be honest, I wanted to read about the adventures of Stephanie Tanner outside of the TV canon and I wanted to know what happened in those AC Slater books where he was looking all dreamy.

I got up the nerve to purchase two books based on the Clueless franchise, although both of these books were ordered and not bought in person. A couple times a year, the teacher would pass out an order form that featured various books that you could pay for by check.

I remember thinking this was the one opportunity I had to snag a couple of these books, that I never seemed to find at Barnes and Noble. So, I ordered a couple: Achieving Personal Perfection and * Cher's Guide To... Whatever*

I enjoyed both books and my younger brother was a less bashful and bought several Full House books that I was able to enjoy, but that was it as far as children/teen tie-ins went for me. I was reading the Goldeneye tie-in along with all of the classic James Bond books around this same time, and well... I guess I was ashamed they were so far beneath what I was normally reading. I always read way higher than my grade level and because of the attention I got from that, I tended to shy away from books I knew others would look down on me for reading. A good example was Goosebumps. I devoured those books as my little brother bought them, but I was already reading Stephen King books and well... I enjoyed the Goosebumps more, but I never bought a single Goosebump book of my own.

I always meant to go back and snag some of those novelizations. I've had this crazy dream to read through all of the Sabrina The Teenage Witch tie-ins just because there are so many and because they are mostly small. I'm also very interested in reading a book from Salem's point of view and it seems like there are several of those.

Sadly, these books are all out of print and you can't find them digital. I could buy them on eBay or Etsy but they are definitely not cheap by the pound like they were ten years ago. Also, I guess I still run into the same problem I did as a child. What business does a man in his thirties have reading books written for tweens in the late 90's? I guess, I never did learn that lesson to just do what you enjoy and not over think things.

Sometimes I think about starting a blog and reviewing these books. Who knows, maybe I'll buy a lot on eBay one day and do just that.

#100DaysToOffload 68/100 #Books

This morning, I opened up Feeder to see what my favorite bloggers had posted over the weekend. I skimmed the various titles and disregarded a few of them, but then I settled in to read up on some of the more interesting posts. My buddy Michael wrote about his love of The Muppets. I saw that Dino had picked up Elite Dangerous after I wrote about it a few months back. His screenshots are tremendous and definitely worth checking out.

Then I saw Rebecca Toh had posted ten recent thoughts. I'm a huge fan of her writing, but this short list of some random thoughts stopped me in my tracks. It stopped me so hard, I felt compelled to come straight over here and write something about it.

The problem is I don't know what to say. There is no commentary I can add to it that won't tarnish and already brilliant list of ideas. I guess, her thoughts really connected with me because some days I feel like I'm the only one who feels a certain way. So when I read something that mirrors a lot of the same conclusions that I've come to it feels good. I also love to see things in print, so I can save them and refer back to them later. It's sort of a reminder/guideline of the way things are and not to get too wrapped up into life.

I won't post the ten thoughts here, but I highly recommend you head over and check them out for yourself. I'm quite thankful Rebecca took the time to share these with the world.

#100DaysToOffload 67/100

I spent the morning browsing some old fan sites. I didn't mean to, I just ran across an article discussing USA's Blue Skies format and I wanted to research it more. Until earlier this year, I never gave any of the Blue Skies shows a chance. Then I started watching Psych and quickly fell in love with it. I'm hoping to check out some of the other shows once I finish.

Yesterday, I talked some about morals and television and while the Blue Skies shows at USA weren't full of moral messages, they were positive, thus the Blue Skies moniker. It sucks, because I feel like in 2020, we really could use these types of shows and there aren't that many around.

Anyway, I found myself on a Chuck fan site (another show I just gave a shot this year) and I had a lot of fun reading through it. I've only seen two episodes of Chuck, so it wasn't something I could completely understand, but it was great seeing the effort someone put into that site. From there, I clicked on some other links in the sidebar, then some more and more and so on.

Most of the sites I ran across have been dead for at least four-to-ten years. They remain on the web as remnants of a fandom once loved. A few of them grew into other sites, that have long been abandoned as well. One site author became a published author and left her fanfiction behind to write stories with original characters. It's so interesting to see how things evolved.

Reading over these sites really made me miss not having a sidebar. I love the simplistic look of my blog and I like having the ability to hashtag things, but one of my biggest issues with is the lack of a sidebar. It severely limits some of the organizational abilities blogs offer and make it more difficult to navigate in my opinion. Whenever my year subscription is up, this may be a deciding factor on whether or not I renew.

I miss reading fan sites and I wish I could find more active ones. I like the commentary, fan fiction, and episode synopsis. I love how parts of the authors personal life invade the page and the sites tend to stay on topic. But like the Blue Skies era of USA, I think these maybe something of a by gone era. A time when things weren't so dark and people were a little more optimistic. When people celebrated their love of things and didn't sling hate and disgust at one another. I miss those days.

#100DaysToOffload 66/100 #Reflection

If you've read any of my writing in the past, you may have come across a time or two when I've mentioned how my moral compass was developed by television and the like. In a nutshell, I don't come from the best family. In fact, their morals are very questionable even today. So growing up, they weren't all that active in my life and I spent a ton of time in front of the TV or with my nose in books. I learned to mimic the things I saw in entertainment and I feel like a portion of my moral fabric was made up thinks to the likes of Stan Lee, Batman, Star Wars, Full House, and the like.

Now this may be a stark difference in writing compared to my recent posts about watching gritty and violent films, but one of the things that I'm discovering as I age is that in order to be whole you need to embrace both sides. For every dark side is a light, and for every up there is a down. I know I'm going all Taoist on yall, so I'll stop there, but I'm really beginning to embrace this idea of there being being a need for both sides of the spectrum.

Alright, back to the topic at hand... morals and television. Needless to say, I'm not so sure I would have developed a decent moral compass if I was raised on television today. Sure, I love Breaking Bad, Yellowstone, and even the ocassional bad reality TV show, but these shows don't really offer those same positive moral messages that the 70's, 80's, and 90's presented. Now, comparing Breaking Bad to The Brady Bunch is not fair, because obviously the audiences are very different, but there really aren't many run of the mill family sort of a shows. There is no Fraiser, MASH, Friends,* or even Star Trek of this generation (although I have high hopes for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds). The closest I've seen to this old school morale storytelling is the CW Arrowverse shows, Stargirl, and random one offs like Fuller House or One Day At A Time.

So, why don't we have those type of shows anymore? Well, for one, they could be very cheesy. Full House can be sickening sweet at times, and Fuller House wasn't much better.

Two, they just don't pull in the ratings like they used to. Everyone wants dark, dreary, and dangerous, and that's what sells.

Three, optimism for things working out sort of died with 9/11 and as an American society we've struggled to grasp ahold of that ideal again.

I'm sure there are other reasons, but those are the three that came to mind.

I wonder if this is a bad thing though. I wonder if the lack of moralistic tales does a disservice to society. I mean, for generations we were raised on fairy tales and mythology that taught us how to act. It taught us what was considered right and wrong. Now, in the world of the anti-hero, things aren't so clear cut. Being selfish and shitty is commendable and makes for great television (see Seinfeld and It's Always Sunny).

But what happens to those kids like me, who didn't have the proper home life to guide them? Is it televisions responsibility to provide inspiration and guidance on how to live? Or did I just get lucky, and was raised when this sort of storytelling was popular? I don't really know. I wasn't able to come up with a great argument either way.

I guess, like most of my nostalgia, I feel like we've lost a little something with all the changes. I'm sure this is the way that everyone feels as they get older. They miss the “simpler” times, however that can be described for them.

I just know that when I go back and watch an old sitcom, I have this weird, calming sense of peace when its all over. Everything feels like it's going to be okay and I like that. I hate to think that other generations won't experience that same feeling.

#100DaysToOffload 64/100 #Television

Recently, I've been watching Married with Children on Hulu. Growing up, I'd occasionally watch it, but I haven't seen too many episodes. In fact, when I started watching it a few months back, I was confused because I had never seen an episode with Steve (Marcie's first husband) in it. I thought maybe he was replaced after the pilot, but I was quite wrong since Steve hung around for first three to four seasons.

Married with Children seemed to be on quite often in syndication and that's where I saw it the most. Like most boys/teenagers of the 90's, I had a crush on Christina Applegate and I got a kick out of Al Bundy's hand down his pants routine. But besides that, I didn't find much to enjoy about the show.

Now that I'm a bit older, I appreciate the show a lot more. I can relate to it in some ways, and really laugh at all the absurdity in other ways. I find the cruel insults and over-the-top humor perfect for some of these bad days I've had lately.

A few weeks ago, I watched the first episode of season three and Al went on a rant to the librarian who'd tortured him as a child. It cracked me up, because I related to it all too much. That quote has been on my mind lately, so I thought I'd share it here.

So you think I'm a loser? Just because I have a stinking job that I hate, a family that doesn't respect me, a whole city that curses the day I was born? Well, that may mean loser to you, but let me tell you something. Every morning when I wake up, I know it's not going to get any better until I go back to sleep again. So I get up, have my watered-down Tang and still-frozen Pop Tart, get in my car with no upholstery, no gas, and six more payments to fight traffic just for the privilege of putting cheap shoes on the cloven hooves of people like you. I'll never play football like I thought I would. I'll never know the touch of a beautiful woman. And I'll never again know the joy of driving without a bag on my head. But I'm not a loser. 'Cause, despite it all, me and every other guy who'll never be what he wanted to be are still out there being what we don't want to be forty hours a week for life. And the fact that I haven't put a gun in my mouth, you pudding of a woman, makes me a winner.

Also, there was a fantastic breakdown on reddit on whether or not Al could have supported his family on a shoe salesman's budget in the late 80's and early 90's that is totally worth your time reading.

In the sitcom Married... with Children, protagonist Al Bundy is able to support himself, his homemaker wife, and two children on the income he earns as a shoe salesman in a strip mall in the suburbs of Chicago. Was this at all realistic for the late 1980s/early 1990s?

#100DaysToOffload 63/100 #Television

I first watched Wargames sometime in the late 90's. It was recommended to me by a friend I had met online who knew I had a growing desire to see more 80's movies. I remember him saying that out of all of the movies he recommended, he thought I'd enjoy Wargames the most. He was right.

I'm going to assume you've seen Wargames, but if you have not, please note this post will ruin the ending of the movie. Also, it's a great movie that I highly recommend seeing at least once, so check it out if you get a chance.

We all know how this movie ends. WOPR is about to bomb the hell out of Russia when Falken and David convince WOPR to play tic-tac-toe. They do this to show the AI that in some games the are no true winners, which is enough for WOPR to call off the attack. Afterwards WOPR says:

The Only Winning Move is Not To Play

As I've gotten older, I'm not sure another quote has been quite as relevant as this one in my life.

It's taken me several years, but I've come to learn that you do not have to participate in everything. Anything from the office potluck to social media can be opted out of. I guess you can call that the power of saying no.

But in a society that preaches progress, self-improvement, and constant change, you can find yourself easily straggling the line between coming and going. There are so many people pushing for why you should or shouldn't do something and this paradox of choice leaves some of us paralyzed. We overthink and try to find out how to have our cake and eat it to. We create extra stress over the stupidest of decisions, all because of social norms or expectations.

A recent example I can think of is my relationship with social media. I enjoyed it, but I knew it was bad for me. It was a time suck and I grew frustrated with the drama and advertising. So, I took some time away and then came back under the impression that I'd limit the amount of people I followed, keep it friends only, and limit the amount of wastefulness. Did it work? Somewhat. But it didn't solve the advertising or privacy issues and since buying an ad free version wasn't an option, I decided to just not participate anymore. I had to opt out. No longer was I pulled by the social expectation that I should have a social media account nor was sacrificing my own personal morals on interacting with software that I didn't find ethical. I just stepped away from it all and you know what? Life is better. I'm no longer torn between the two worlds and none of it matters, because the option just isn't there. It truly was a case where the only way for me to win was not to play.

It's not just when dealing with social media though. I find it useful in relationships, arguments, petty drama, co-worker tiffs, and so on. In so many instances getting involved does nothing but bring on stress and pain, which can be easily avoided if you just shrug your shoulders and move on. I guess, its taken me a while to learn that you truly have to pick your battles. Fight the ones that worth fighting for and let the rest go. And if it's overly complicated or seems like a no-win scenario, then you can always take your ball and go home. There is nothing wrong with that sometimes.

#100DaysToOffload 62/100