Hello faithful followers and visitors. I’ve been quiet on here lately; its been a while since I last had a chance to sit down and write something of substance. Life happens and when blogging isn’t your full-time gig, it tends to get eaten by the other time munching needs of life.

However! More content is on the way. I already have the 3rd and final installment of my series on Adulting vs. Roleplaying written, I just need to edit it.

BUT!

My blogging partner, Dr. Oracle, and I are traveling to Dragon Con this year. We plan on sharing our adventures, observations, and opinions during the trip. I hope you will visit us here at the Neverending Digression for what should be a content filled narrative of two geeks over 40 adventuring into the insanity of what has become known as Geek Mardi Gras!

Until then I bid thee love and merriment.

Coming next: The Neverending Digression at DragonCon 2016

Dogpark Geek is a series of articles on The Neverending Digression where The House of Bella and Baron examines his experiences and shares his opinions on being a grown-up participating in the geekier side of popular culture.


Entertainment Weekly gave us our first look at Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise costume for next year’s Stephen King’s It film, due out September 2017. While I loved the Tim Curry version of Pennywise for the television movie made in 1990, the version created for the remake just looks incredible. The clothing on this Pennywise, all look so ancient while at the same time appropriate for a clown. Like some sort of dark jester. The ruffles, the cuffs on the ends of his sleeves and pants, all give this creature the look of something that has existed for a long time. Very fitting for this demon in clown’s skin. I could argue that the brighter more “modern” clown get up that Curry’s version wore made the evil and demonic nature of Pennywise all the more shocking when it came through. I really don’t want to put any hate on this new concept especially from just one picture with seriously dark mood lighting, so I won’t dig into that line of thinking.


Valiant’s stuff looks so good I had to give you all a double shot of their previews. I’ve been catching up on the Bloodshot Reborn series. After receiving 8 Harvey Award nominations this year, it’s quickly jumped to my must read list for this summer. The interior artwork by Tomas Giorello here is nothing short of incredible and Jeff Lemire is on the short list of my favorite current comic book writers. So much talent is on this book, if you aren’t reading Valiant books by now you are doing yourself a disservice. 

With BLOODSHOT U.S.A. just over the horizon, the most nominated series of the 2016 Harvey Awards is about to dive into the deep end! 

Valiant is proud to present your first look inside BLOODSHOT REBORN #18 – a blood-stained epilogue to “BLOODSHOT ISLAND” from New York Times best-selling writer Jeff Lemire (Moon Knight, Old Man Logan) and Valiant’s latest exclusive superstar, Tomas Giorello (4001 A.D.: WAR MOTHER)! Before BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 grips New York with infection, fear, and panic on October 26th, jump on board the series nominated for Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Continuing Series, and much more at the 2016 Harvey Awards with a searing standalone tale perfect for new readers! 

Ray Garrison and a battered team of survivors have made their escape from BLOODSHOT ISLAND…only to drift straight into shark-infested waters! Marooned in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no defenses except the relentless will to survive, will the highly trained team of killers aboard this life raft band together…or throw each other to the prehistoric predators below? And, if they don’t kill each other first, will mother nature finish the job?’ 

On October 5th, come aboard with Jeff Lemire and Tomas Giorello as they send Bloodshot on a carnage-filled cruise headed straight for BLOODSHOT U.S.A.! There will be blood in the water when Valiant’s nanite-enhanced commandos enter uncharted territory, only in BLOODSHOT REBORN #18 – featuring covers by Stephen Segovia (Wolverine), Adam Gorham (DEAD DROP), Andres Guinaldo(Justice League Dark), Brian Level (The Mantle) and Robert Gill (X-O MANOWAR)!

Then, two weeks later on October 26th, Jeff Lemire and Doug Braithwaite unleash a pathogen-fueled wave of violence onto the streets of New York in BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4) – the FIRST ISSUE of the explosive standalone event roaring out of “THE FUTURE OF VALIANT“ initiative! 

Project Rising Spirit – America’s greatest exporter of classified weapons technology – has achieved a breakthrough: a contagious, airborne nanite dispersion prototype that can turn the population of any city into an army of indestructible soldiers. A doomsday virus capable of destroying an enemy nation from the inside out. A machine-made pathogen that can completely rewrite human physiology…and hardcode every man, woman, and child with the same cutting-edge technology that created their greatest weapon: Bloodshot. 

But now…Project Rising Spirit’s top-secret contagion has been released onto the streets of America’s greatest metropolis: New York City. As mayhem engulfs Manhattan, Bloodshot must lead the most dangerous invasion ever waged on American soil and keep a runaway pandemic from toppling armies and governments…and threatening to destroy humanity itself. 

On October 26th, the Big Apple turns blood red, only in BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4) – featuring covers by Kano (Gotham Central), Doug Braithwaite (NINJAK), Dave Johnson (Superman: Red Son),Ryan Stegman (Uncanny Avengers), Cully Hamner (Detective Comics), and Butch Guice (Captain America)! 

For more information, visit Valiant on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and ValiantUniverse.com

For Valiant merchandise and more, visit ValiantStore.com.
BLOODSHOT REBORN #18
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by TOMAS GIORELLO
Cover A by STEPHEN SEGOVIA (AUG162044)
Cover B by ADAM GORHAM (AUG162045)
Cover C by ANDRES GUINALDO (AUG162046)
Variant Cover by BRIAN LEVEL (AUG162047)
Variant Cover by ROBERT GILL (AUG162048)
$3.99 US | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 5 (FOC – 9/12/16)

BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1 (of 4) (“THE FUTURE OF VALIANT”)
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
Cover A by KANO (AUG162036)
Cover B by DOUG BRAITHWAITE (AUG162037)
Cover C by DAVE JOHNSON (AUG162038)
Cover D by RYAN STEGMAN (AUG162039)
Cover E by CULLY HAMNER (AUG162040)
Variant Cover by BUTCH GUICE (AUG162042)
B&W Sketch Variant by RYAN STEGMAN (AUG162043)
Blank Cover Also Available (AUG162041)
$3.99 US | 32 pgs. | T+ | On Sale OCTOBER 26 (FOC – 10/3/16)


The next Valiant trade paperbacks I’m picking up are going to Eternal Warrior titles. I liked the concept under the original run back in the 90s, and everytime I see the previews for this version I love what I see. Issue 10 of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior will be on stands August 17th. Here are some pages from the upcoming issue and the official write up from Valiant:

WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #10
Written by ROBERT VENDITTI
Art by RAUL ALLEN with ROBERT GILL
Cover A by KANO (JUN161915)
Cover B by PERE PEREZ (JUN161916)
Variant Cover by ANDRES GUINALDO (JUN161917) 

Pain and suffering await at the “LABYRINTH’”s end!
Against all odds, the Eternal Warrior has fought his way to the Labyrinth’s brutal and mysterious center. But his suffering is far from over! Standing between the Earth’s immortal master of war and freedom stands the figure only known as the Dying One…and the masterstroke in his centuries-long plan to unlock the secret of the Eternal Warrior’s immortality! Battered but not beaten, can Gilad Anni-Padda rise once more to fell his greatest foe…or will the madness of the “LABYRINTH” break his mind as well as his body?

New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (X-O MANOWAR) and visionary artist Raúl Allén (NINJAK) bring their blood-curdling epic to a boil as “LABYRINTH” reaches its unforgettable end – and determines the final fate of Valiant’s greatest warrior!
$3.99| 32 pgs. | T+ | On sale AUGUST 17 (FOC – 7/25/16)


Timed beautifully on my birthday weekend, DisneyXD will be broadcasting the hour long premiere episode for Star Wars Rebels third season. From the trailers we’ve seen a lot has changed since that amazing Season 2 finale. Now we have an Ezra who is a little older and more adept at the force leading the crew of the Ghost. We’ve also got a new baddie for the season in form of Grand Admiral Thrawn. This show has completely eclipsed any expectations I had for it, so I’ve been enjoying it thoroughly. Last season didn’t disappointment me and from the glimpses I see of this upcoming season I’m ready for the joy ride.

I guess the only thing really missing in this show for me is seeing any impact to characters or events in the four movies that chronologically follow the events in this show. I know we’ve had plenty of cameos and appearance of the characters from the original trilogy and the continuity from the Clone Wars animated series has been well established. I’m just impatient to see where these characters fit in further in the future, if there’s any chance we’ll see these characters in any of the films to come.

This summer I’ve stumbled upon many horror movies while scrolling through my Netflix account. Having taken most of the summer off from teaching to pursue professional development projects and attend to other life concerns I’ve found myself with more time to step away from the machinations of collegiate academia to indulge in extracurricular activities, some of which have just been plain old fun. As a result, I’ve spent a lot more time with my Netflix account than I have during the fall, winter, and spring months.

I am unsure why horror movies have been aggregated through Netflix’s algorithms to become so predominate in their suggestions of content I might enjoy. I am not actually a mega fan of horror movies, but I am no stranger to the genre and I’ve sat through enough of them in the early 1980s and 1990’s to appreciate the role they play in a person’s cinematic catalogue of films viewed. And, I’ve certainly made them an occasional part of my current viewing experiences on Netflix. I even count select horror films as being significant influences on my own creative works of art. This being said, I’ve watch enough other genres to still question the deluge of horror films that are pushed into my suggested viewing. This phenomenon began prior to my absolute obsession with Stranger Things. Regardless, I’d taken the bait and started to explore the content.

Most of the horror titles I am initially unfamiliar with but some peak my interest based on the brief synopsis provided. I have selected and started viewing many of these films only to abandon them twenty minutes or so into viewing because I cannot connect with the material. Often times the dramatic structure is too familiar reveling in content that is too recognizable in order to provide a fresh experience. Or, the film is unsuccessful in its execution in setting up the necessary mechanism of a dramatic question(s) that causes me concern and coerces me (on a sliding scale of intensity) to continue watching. There are a lot of clichés and tropes out there. I believe I have a strong enough familiarity with these to recognize them when they appear. I do have to wonder though if we don’t need those in some way to sustain the genre. This being said I am not expecting a paradigm shift in storytelling when I begin watching these films, but I do hope for something more unique than I’ve seen before. I, however, I am only able to speak from my experience and would not suggest I have the film school pedigree to pontificate too long on such matters. It should also be noted I am self-aware enough to acknowledge that my spelunking into these films has now created even more reason for Netflix to make me aware of their horror offerings.

I won’t spend time listing the various jump-scare, found-footage, torture-porn, supernatural, and boogey-man musings of the films I’ve explored to date. I will say the few films that have held my interest have been films that didn’t take my empathy for granted. That is a challenge from someone who rebukes melodrama in most of its forms.

However, something happened which I don’t think I can explain. I watched the movie Holidays, an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.* This was one of the movies I was contemplating giving up on. However, being an anthology film and sitting through the first few episodes I felt things slowly improving and I was intrigued just enough to keep watching. There was also the carrot of a Kevin Smith filmed segment; I have remained an unapologetic and biased fan of most of his work. The segment for Father’s Day written and directed by Anthony Scott Burns, and starring Jocelin Donahue, and amazing voice-over work by Michael Gross, however, affected me in the most profound way.

I am going to keep my focus on the Father’s Day segment and will not provide experience commentary on each of the segments in the film, including Kevin Smith’s Halloween segment, I’d like to concentrate on this one segment because, for lack of better language, it moved me. I will not speak directly of the storyline or subject matter, but only of the reasons for why it inspired me enough to write this experience article.

Anthony Scott Burns tapped into something very human to craft a brief tale of childhood loss, paternal strife, and the rationalization humans participate in when they feel they need to protect someone or hide a painful truth. He understands how grief, while it may evolve and change within us, always remains in some form ever present. He understands loneliness is more than a feeling and the prospect of filling an emotional void through the promises of a voice from our past induces us with hope.

The mood and locations framed in the cinematography (I believe we are at the Salton Sea for most of the piece) reinforced these themes in all too brief of a segment which also juxtaposed enough imagery of a celestial nature that allows the viewer to surmise what forces may be at work, but not enough for us to have a definitive context. This is a strength.

Jocelin Donahue provides a performance that renders enough vulnerability to make us feel emotionally grounded in a reality that is unacquainted with the fantastical. She does this without sacrificing her character’s determination to undertake the journey of emotional memory that lays before her.

Michael Gross’s voice, present in the piece as a recording, will resonate with viewers of a certain age as the father from 1980’s sitcom, Family Ties. Perhaps, its that familiarity that provided the authority and sincerity which manifested during the narrative. There was an immediate sense of trust and earnestness.

The proverbial formula for a well executed piece of horror, tropes or not, seems to be intact here. The piece had enough uniqueness and drew enough empathy that I actually had to stop the film at the segment’s conclusion and contemplate what I had seen and why I felt the way I did. I had a lot of questions, but I knew the answers were not important.

This happens rarely for me.

In preparing to write for this experience article I poked around on the interwebs for a bit to see what other material on this particular segment might be out there. Much of the forum chatter I’ve read regarding this segment has hit upon what could be its shortcomings, and if I removed my subjectivity I might even be able to get on board with some of those analyses. I could even identify pretty clearer with what other observers were saying. Ultimately, I have chosen to ignore those because I feel as if the point may have been missed. This story doesn’t find its dénouement in the supernatural, but rather in analogy. This is a brief exploration in the love of a father for his daughter and the love of a daughter for her father. Its an exploration into familial schisms and the prisms through which we see and seek truth as unthinkable as it might be.

The supernatural ending will leave many scratching their heads, but again, for a short piece of horror that’s ability to tug on the heart strings was so hard-wearing I’d recommend embracing the humanity of the piece and judging it on those merits.

You can currently stream holidays on Netflix or view it on other digital mediums. I’d recommend the whole film, honestly. It’s ability to captivate will wax and wane, but there are some standout moments in each of the segments worthy of viewing.

Kevin Smith did not disappoint.

Until next time I bid thee love and merriment.

* Boilerplate paraphrased from IMBD


A couple months ago I was reading through the newspapers online and came across this article about the plans for an elevated bus being planned in China. The idea is essentially a bus that drives above traffic, depositing passengers at various elevated platforms and stations throughout the city. Idea is kind of scary and cool at the same time.

The idea also seemed familiar. I dig reading through old Popular Science magazines, especially since I found some old copies of my Dad’s during my folks’ last move. After seeing those I have a habit of looking up other similar magazines from the 40’s-60’s online. Sure enough while browsing around I came across this elevated bus idea, in a Japanese kid’s science magazine. In this magazine it was called the Dinosaur Truck. I can’t read Japanese at all, but looking at the pictures the similarities in the concepts are there. Either way its a fun excuse for including some these cool images on the blog.

Elevated Bus Article, Daily Mail

Japanese Science Magazine images from Dark Roasted Blend blog