Vids I Dig 001: Fear, Loathing, and Comics at the Basement Sale

The Pittsburgh Comics Gang investigates the New Dimension Comics Basement Sale – a bi-annual event during which a trove of over half a million comics is opened for public perusal and consumption.

Video by Julie Sokolow

Featuring the artists:
Ed Piskor (Wizzywig, Hip Hop Family Tree)
Jim Rugg (Street Angel, Afrodisiac)
Tom Scioli (Godland, American Barbarian)
Jasen Lex (The Aweful Science Fair, Gypsy Lounge)
with
Todd McDevitt (Owner of New Dimension Comics)
Amanda Bowen (Archivist at New Dimension Comics)

The Modern Sports Media Is Bullshit

*The Bullshit Series started on an older blog but I wanted to bring these articles back here, as I have new installments for the series that I want to release over time. The series focuses on things that I think are bullshit… like filet mignon, Zubaz pants, the Pro Bowl and diets.

*Written in 2014.

Back in the day, I was an avid ESPN watcher. A morning before high school wasn’t complete without at least fifteen minutes of SportsCenter squeezed in. I also enjoyed the short-lived CNN SI, which was more straightforward with the sports news and less about entertainment.

The entertainment factor is probably why ESPN continued to dominate and CNN SI only made it a few years. Sure, CNN SI was fairly boring but it was about the news and not about cheap pops and a humor-driven shtick. Personally, I always loved ESPN’s format and style but somewhere along the line, it got distracted.

It isn’t just ESPN though, the largest sports shows, magazines and websites out there also got distracted. I’m not sure how it happened but over the last ten years or so, sports news became less about sports and more about gossip and bullshit. The modern sports media has become TMZ, the National Enquirer and Extra. ESPN has become E! for men.

I tune in because I want scores, highlights and stories about the sport. But I want it all and I don’t have a lot of time. What I get though, is two funny motherfuckers flying through highlights just so they can hurry and get to a ten minute segment about how Athlete A sent mean tweets to Athlete B. I shit you not, I forget which show I was watching but they once spent fifteen minutes discussing Tim Tebow being seen throwing a football into a garbage can. And don’t get me started on the scandals involving Tiger, Kobe or anyone else with a tricky dick. That’s all these ass clowns cared to talk about not just for weeks but for months. Hey assholes, there were games last night, I’d like a fucking recap, please! ESPN has become the Fox News or MSNBC of sports programming. It’s all opinion and bullshit from people who seemingly have about as much actual knowledge as a dog turd.

Now there are people on ESPN who know their shit but they are becoming few and far between and are generally overshadowed by the loudmouthed dickbags who have to shout and soak up all the airtime. Maybe I’ll make a list of the biggest dickbags on ESPN but that will be at a later date.

Moving past ESPN, we have the magazines and websites. Some of the leaders out there are Bleacher Report, SB Nation, DeadSpin, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, FanSided, Sporting News, Yahoo! Sports, Fox Sports and Rant Sports. There are many more but these seem to be the sites with the most traffic and biggest social media presence.

These magazines and websites take the whole TMZ aspect of sports media even further. I can’t tell you how many times per day I want to punch my monitor for displaying so much bullshit in my news feed. Let me list some recent headlines to paint a better picture:

“Joel Embiid’s pursuit of Kim Kardashian via Twitter hasn’t stopped now that he learned she’s married”
“Cardinals Fan Drops Beer On Fans Below”
“A Bride Whose Father Passed Away Walks Down the Aisle with Miami Hurricanes Mascot”
“Rob Ryan Carrying 3 Pizzas and a Stuffed Animal in Airport”
“Pouty Husband Sends Wife Spreadsheet Detailing Sex-Life Dissatisfaction”
“Derek Holland And The Rangers Play A Game Called “Fart Bottle Roulette””
“Tiger Woods is cursing, throwing clubs, and ready to leave the British Open”
“Finding the best 1980’s NFL quarterback based on rap lyrics”
“Zach McAllister Channels His Inner Carly Rae Jepsen on Extremely Wild Pitch”
“Joel Embiid Is Really Good At Twitter – Let’s Not Ruin This”
“Tour de France rider has diarrhea, uses fan’s roadside RV”
“Here’s a giant, inflatable colon outside a Triple A ballpark”
“What Are New York City’s Most Popular Dog Names?”
“Kentucky man gets arrested, orders 5 pizzas to police station”
“Dwyane Wade replaces LeBron James with this alley-ooping dolphin”

Jesus, some of those don’t even have anything to do with sports.

Anyway, this is the type of shit sports sites are promoting and putting out. Real sports news is secondary. Maybe it’s because no one really cares anymore about sports. Yes, they watch them and they buy the merchandise and go to games but people seem to be more into the celebrity aspect of sports. And if it isn’t that, they’re so focused on fantasy sports that they aren’t fans of the game in the same way they used to be. Also, with a lot more women becoming sports fans in the last few decades, some of this stuff has to cater to what they want. Since, tabloids and TMZ are generally absorbed by women, sports media jumps on that bandwagon.

Expanding their product to fit a larger demographic, many sports media outlets have become these gossipy bullshit beasts. I’m sorry but I want good sports journalism and coverage, not gossip and fashion posts. On television I want highlights and insight, not assholes screaming over one another about whether or not gays belong in sports – they do. I also don’t need a bunch of dickbags telling me that I don’t understand x, y and z because I’ve never been in a locker room and experienced that culture. Fuck you, I’ve been in a locker room and fuck you, your bullshit argument holds no weight. Frankly, I’m just tired of know-it-all motherfuckers who really don’t know shit. They get paid to waste my time and would be better suited hosting Entertainment Tonight. An epileptic cat that only understands French could give better analysis and insight than most of these clowns.

Men today seem to be eating this shit up. The pussification and emasculation of the American male has crossed over into the sports world and they don’t seem to notice. Yes, I have friends I’ve talked to who see these trends and, like me, have pretty much stopped watching this nonsense. The problem though, is that there aren’t alternatives, as this sports tabloid programming has now become the norm. We’re basically forced to watch it or nothing at all.

Man the fuck up, sports media.

Talking Pulp: Rotten Tomatoes Has Always Been Rotten

Everyone and their mother seems to be outraged by this Rotten Tomatoes controversy of the past 24 hours. Everyone has written an article or done a video on it and I figured I’d stay out of it because it’s monopolizing my social media feeds.

However, I have a different perspective on it because where people seem to be surprised and offended by their bullshit shenanigans the last few days, I never relied on the website or took it too seriously to begin with.

Rotten Tomatoes was never about audience participation, it’s always been about using an unclear, bullshitty algorithm to give unreliable scores to movies that do nothing but benefit the big studio system’s marketing machine. This wasn’t a secret, they’ve been shilling for their corporate masters since the Clinton administration. While it may have started with noble intentions in 1998, I can’t remember a time where I ever saw Rotten Tomatoes as relevant and I was using their built-in proto-social media platform back in 2001 or so.

People have been asking where they can go now, since Rotten Tomatoes has silenced anyone that isn’t approved by them to be a film reviewer. I’ve always found IMDb to be the most reliable source for how good a movie is. More often than not, IMDb ratings line up with my feeling on a movie. For those that don’t know, IMDb’s score is solely comprised by the audience. Anyone can vote on a film’s rating and millions already have. In fact, more people have voted on films on IMDb than they ever have on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now that’s not to say that IMDb won’t throw us a curveball in the future, as more and more tech industry companies continue to control speech. But, for now, it’s a better source and it always has been. Plus, the website doesn’t look like it was designed by a Nickelodeon intern. It’s basic, informational and straight to the point. Although those video ads that expand on your page are a pain in the dick.

Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t give you an accurate rating. They control who can be considered a legit critic and then they reduce in-depth critical analysis down to a binary result: did the critic like it or not like it. So if a bunch of critics think a film was a 6 out of 10, Rotten Tomatoes calculates that as a like. So when likes equate to 100 percent and dislikes equate to 0 percent, you can end up with a film getting a 98 percent approval rating even if most of the critics only thought it was a 6 out of 10.

So it’s not like they’ve been honest or given us accurate numbers, anyway. The only reason they are as big as they have gotten is because they have a simple logo that is easy for Hollywood marketing firms to throw on posters and into TV spots the day before a film drops. So by smooching that Hollywood ball sack, Rotten Tomatoes gets their own free marketing, gets considered relevant by casual filmgoers and then just increases their power and hold on the industry.

Additionally, Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Fandango, who are owned by NBC Universal (70 percent) and Warner Bros. (30 percent). So if it is under the umbrella of two massive film studios, why wouldn’t they build up their own propaganda machine in an effort to convince people that Rotten Tomatoes means something?

Now on the flip side, IMDb is owned by Amazon. While Amazon has its own studio, it has a much more neutral position within Hollywood. Plus, IMDb continues to use a ratings system that is controlled by the people and not some vague, complicated aggregator.

But what most people are upset about is that Rotten Tomatoes has taken their voice away. But even the audience scores have been found to be skewed, as Rotten Tomatoes won’t calculate in audience scores that are zero stars. And this has been known for awhile.

Frankly, Rotten Tomatoes is disingenuous, it doesn’t give a fuck what you think and it’s only purpose is to shill.

So I’m glad that they took a giant misstep and have now made more people aware of just how full of crap they are.

In the end, you can just come to TalkingPulp.com and I won’t steer you wrong. Unless you have really poor taste. But then again, I also don’t go to the movies too often anymore because people forgot how to behave in a theater and I’m usually seeing red instead of the movie I paid to watch.

DiGiorno Design-A-Pizza Kit Is Bullshit

*The Bullshit Series started on an older blog but I wanted to bring these articles back here, as I have new installments for the series that I want to release over time. The series focuses on things that I think are bullshit… like filet mignon, Zubaz pants, the Pro Bowl and diets.

*Written in 2014.

Let me start by saying that I do like DiGorno’s pizza. This isn’t a knock against their quality and what they produce in general, which is one of the best frozen pizzas on the market.

Recently though, they’ve come out with this “Design-A-Pizza Kit”. C’mon, man? Really?

This is a product that takes financial advantage of the complete idiot. Reason being, it is pointless and stupid. If you buy this, you have no imagination and are buying into some marketing ploy to make frozen pizzas more interesting. Fuck that, it’s a goddamned frozen pizza! How interesting can it be?

And by financial advantage, I mean that this thing costs extra. Yeah, it costs extra to put your own toppings on a pizza. Fuck that! You want to charge me more money, you better not be a lazy ass and you better put the damn toppings on! Why am I paying DiGiorno more money for me to do extra work? It’s like some sort of socialist welfare system where I’m paying these deadbeats out of my own pocket not to work.

Rewinding back a bit, yes, I attacked the imaginations of those who would purchase this. Why? Well because they apparently didn’t have the foresight and creativity to realize that every frozen pizza they have ever bought is essentially a “Design-A-Pizza Kit”.

You see, every frozen pizza comes with its toppings already on top of it. Sure, they don’t come in organized little pouches to make you feel special but ultimately, you can take the toppings on your frozen pizza and rearrange them (or remove them). They aren’t glued to the fucking cheese. No! You can physically move the pepperoni, sausage and veggies around however the hell you want. Why do I know this? Because I’ve done it. I guess that makes me the most creative frozen pizza-eating motherfucker in America. I’ll take that distinction and title with some serious pride.

There was one time when my ex-girlfriend was all like, “What the fuck? I don’t want meat pizza?!” So I took all the meat off of her half and added it to my half and that was that. She got what she wanted, which didn’t prevent her from still being a whiny bitch, and I got double meat plus other toppings. We both won, other than her attitude – her attitude was a loser.

The ads for this pizza just irritate me. A bunch of “hip” younger motherfuckers making smiley face pizzas with minimal toppings. Why would I want some bullshit smiley pizza? The assholes in the commercial wasted like 95 percent of the toppings. This is just some pretentious hipster pizza.

Really though, all irate ranting aside, how stupid is this?

I guess if you have kids and shit, it can be entertaining and whatnot. But seriously, if you want your kids to have a cool pizza-making experience, make that son of a bitch from scratch. When my mum was like, “Hey you wanna make a pizza pie?” and six year-old Rob was like, “Hells yeah!” my mum made some damn dough, rolled that shit out, tossed it around like some uncooked bread frisbee, hand cut all the toppings, made the sauce from scratch, shredded the cheese and then had me put it all together like some badass Italian Frankenstein’s monster that we could eat! It was a great experience and certainly way better than if she had pulled out DiGiorno’s “Design-A-Pizza Kit” and told me to just open the boring ass pouches and drop the boring ass contents on a boring ass frozen pizza.

Maybe I am overreacting here and reading way too much into this, making a big deal about something trivial and unimportant?

No, fuck that! This is a pretty asinine product and when I see people buying it, I will immediately know that they are escaped mental patients trying to blend in to society. You’re not fooling me you crazy bastard! I see your “Design-A-Pizza Kit” and I know that you’re an insane person!

This product just makes no sense to me. If it makes sense to you, you make no sense to me. That’s it.

Retro Relapse: Waffle House: America’s Greatest Institution

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2010.

Waffle House is the greatest restaurant in the history of the world! Now some of you pansies may be scoffing at that statement but it is only because you don’t know how to properly party, get trashed and cut your budding hangover off with an All-Star Breakfast. Now I’m not advocating drinking and driving, you better make sure that you have a designated driver who will take you to one of these awesome yellow buildings wedged between your closest Interstate highway and Texaco filling station.

Enough with the introduction; now let me elaborate on my opening statement.

Waffle House is an American institution. It has been a part of this wonderful country since 1955 when the first location opened up in Avondale Estates, Georgia (a state I can never avoid getting a ticket in). If it were opened around the time of the American Revolution, you can sure bet that the Founding Fathers would’ve eaten there regularly. No modern president has probably been in one because most of them have been pussies; I’ll leave it open for you to decide which of the few weren’t.

Ever since I was a young man, I have frequented Waffle Houses all over the southeastern part of the United States. They have provided two really awesome things in my life.

The first thing that they gave me was a quick and tasty meal while traveling long hours to and fro.

The second thing was weird random encounters with strangers in the night, which almost felt like characters that were going to give me some sort of side mission to sway me from the main quest I was on. If anything, it added quality hours to the gameplay of life.

However, the greatest thing of all is that they serve the world’s best waffles. I don’t care what your argument may be; NO ONE can give you a better waffle. Waffles were around long before this illustrious organization. Although, once Waffle House came on the scene, muthafuckas had to step their game up! Now you can argue that your mom makes sweet ass waffles or that you had some insane Belgium waffle in Belgium that my homies from Georgia couldn’t touch, but all that means is that you’re either a mama’s boy or someone who wouldn’t even go into a Waffle House. Either way, you’re a bitch.

My boy Greg and I have probably been through Waffle House hundreds of times since the start of our heterosexual partnership, and every time we roll through, we feel more powerful, like Hal Jordan after he charges his ring. He and I practically lived off of Waffle House for three to four months in the early parts of 2003. We were on a budget and we recognized greatness. Our experience there was so memorable, that it created a certain feeling of nostalgia just talking about those days at Waffle House. Fortunately for us, Waffle House is still there, unchanged, offering us the opportunity to step into the past.

Waffle House is a fucking time machine!

Now earlier, I mentioned the All-Star Breakfast. This is the single greatest menu item that one can order in the world! It consists of two eggs (any style), hashbrowns or grits, toast, sausage or bacon and a waffle. The only thing that could make it better, is if it offered bacon and sausage. I order it with bacon and then order a side of sausage, so I win big anyway. I also triple the hashbrowns and add cheese, onions and chili to them. I call my modified combo meal the Rob-Star Breakfast.

Greg orders some sandwich thing, but we can’t all be perfect.

Now, if you’re a drinker, there is no better hangover cure than Waffle House. A bottle of Two Fingers or Gilby’s Gin can’t stop the might of a Waffle House meal at three or four in the morning. You’ll wake up with a stomachache but drop one deuce and it’s gone. It’s not a lingering stomach issue; it’s just cleaning you out. Wipe your ass, look in the mirror and smile because surprise! No hangover!

I have also had many short lived relations with women that either worked at Waffle House or who I drunkenly met at Waffle House. But mostly ones that worked there, if you’re keeping score; I certainly am. In any event, that’s a tale for another blog.

So, in closing, waffles are the best breakfast food ever and breakfast food is better than lunch food and dinner food combined. With that said, waffles are the single greatest food item one could ever ingest. So why wouldn’t you get them at a restaurant named after them? Waffle House kicks Capital Grille in the tits! And IHOP is for lamers. Step up to the plate, be a real American and tear into that sticky flaky fun cake!

So who’s hungry? I need my fix now.

Axe Is Bullshit

*The Bullshit Series started on an older blog but I wanted to bring these articles back here, as I have new installments for the series that I want to release over time. The series focuses on things that I think are bullshit… like filet mignon, Zubaz pants, the Pro Bowl and diets.

*Written in 2014.

There is an epidemic going on in America. Come to think of it, as far as I know, it could be crossing over our borders and seeping into the rest of the world. An epidemic of monolithic proportions that is rewriting human history and destroying our future.

While people worry about climate change, rising seas, nuclear meltdowns, oil spills, radioactive tsunamis, alien invasion, kaiju attacks, zombies and haunted VHS tapes, there is a much bigger and more sinister threat that must be dealt with. Something that is comprised of pure evil, which needs immediate attention because in all actuality, it is probably already too late to stop it. The threat I am talking about is Axe body spray.

Interestingly, Axe isn’t even made in America. It comes from the British-Dutch company Unilever, who make food, beverages, cleaning agents and other personal care products. In the UK, Axe exists under the brand name of Lynx. In America it is called Axe because it is actually an acronym that means “America X-terminated Exactingly”. The acronym is of course not publicly disclosed and just adds to the mystique of this evil anti-American conspiracy. The thing is, we are America, we are the best and the rest of the world is mad because they want to win their fair share of blue ribbons. Sorry world, America wins. It is also believed that it is a half-British company who manufactures this because they still harbor a lot of animosity and anger after losing the Revolutionary War over two-hundred years ago.

Men, teens and young boys need to stop buying this stuff – especially men. Their ads sell you on the idea that if you drench yourself in this toxic waste, supermodel bitches will chase you down in an attempt to take your seed. Somehow this magic spray has some mystical element that turns women into lust-driven hyenas that will stop at nothing to tie you down and smother you to death with primal sex moves. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have yet to meet a woman that has turned into a slut zombie by whiffing this stuff. The results I’ve seen have actually been the opposite. I can’t tell you how many sad saps I’ve seen walk into a bar saturated in Axe body spray in an attempt to stir up a maniacal orgy only to have the women flee to the other end of the bar: huddled up and giggling at the poor idiot.

The truth behind this stuff is eerie, as they are convincing dudes to buy it like it’s sexual crack rock when in fact it is a lie created to implement population control. If guys think it works, they put it on. When women flee, men can’t have sex with them and thus population is controlled, as babies can’t be made. It’s a pretty fucked up situation but with America out of the way, the British Empire can move back in and start taxing the crap out of our tea. I’m not completely sure why they’re selling it to their own people though, other than it is usually bought by people on the lower end of the social and economic scales and thus, the Royal Family can flush out all the poor people and have more money to buy jewels and scepters.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in crazy conspiracy theories doesn’t really matter. The proof is in the pudding and the proof is that Axe will do the exact opposite of getting you laid. Also, it is probably made with Smile-X and may turn you into some Jack Nicholson-looking Joker person. Plus the packaging looks like an energy drink; do you want to dump energy drink all over your body?

Man up and buy some goddamned cologne. Even cheap real cologne from CVS is better than this aerosol gamma radiation.

Book Review: ‘Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire–And Both Lost’ by Dan Raviv

Comic Wars was a pretty interesting read, as I’ve always liked books about business and corporate histories. What made it even more interesting was that it covered a really dark time in the history of Marvel Comics.

The gist of this tale is told around Marvel Entertainment’s bankruptcy near the turn of the century. It goes through all of the steps, bad business decisions and market changes that led to shit figuratively hitting the fan at the “House of Ideas”.

Being that I was a huge fan of Marvel’s toyline done by Toy Biz, I found all that stuff really interesting. Also, this was cool to read because when Marvel really started to suffer, I was actually at a place in my life where I wasn’t reading comics very often and I had no idea that the industry, as a whole, was struggling. As far as I knew, everything was still booming and it wasn’t until a few years later when Marvel started selling off the film rights of their flagship characters that I saw the writing on the wall.

This book is thorough, captivating and damn informative.

This would actually be a great documentary if someone decided to adapt this true tale into a film with interviews featuring all the key players in the story.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other books about the comic industry from the last few decades.