Blog entry #100: ‘Tovarishch’ by Clint Cassa

My dear Tovarishch,

I find myself in an odd world, one of uncertainty and certainty. Odder still that I find myself writing this to you after you have passed on. My thoughts often return to our long conversations, sometimes stretched over entire weekends, when we’d attempt to make sense of not only ourselves but this world around us as well. I’ve always felt that it was about trying to achieve balance in an unbalanced world. But how does one find balance? In the chaos that swirls around us, how do we find that peaceful center, that eye of the storm, so to speak? Tip too far to one side or the other and we are sure to be swept up in the tempest that rages around us.

Though you probably didn’t know it, my friend, you carried the answer with you in everything that you were—a brilliant mind anchored by an empathetic heart—a balance you may not have realized that you achieved, yet made you what you were. Compassion, loyalty, kindness, and acceptance were just a few of your key qualities. Your path was not an easy one, but somehow all of this together shaped you into perhaps the most genuine and sincere person I knew.

So as I move on, it is these qualities that I shall strive to achieve, and attempt to emulate the way you demonstrated them so naturally. I shall endeavor to embrace my individuality, to have the same fervor for my interests as well as my loved ones, as you did, as I strive for the balance required to find peace in a perilous world.

Though I miss you dearly, I shall move forward and live as I think you would want me to, been made a better person having been so kindly given your friendship. Perhaps I’ll hold onto this letter, to give it to you when we meet again, for I have no doubt that we will. Until that day, I’ll proudly carry your shining example in my heart.

Until we meet again, Tovarishch

 

—In loving memory of Andrew—

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Feralia.net blog. episode 99: Featured Artist/Vendor: Wink Ware

It’s been a while since I did an artist or vendor feature, so today I wanted to do another good one! Today’s feature is on Wink Ware, another long time fellow con friend/vendor who we’ve known for years.

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© Wink Ware

Wink Ware is home to a ton of cute original designs for clothing and accessories  such as dresses, skirts, scarves, hats, lanyards, bags, enamel pins and more! The designs are adorable, perfect for anyone who’s into stuff that’s cute, nerdy, or any combination of the two.

Check out just a few of Wink Ware’s original items in the gallery below:


If you’re looking to score some cool. unique stuff while at the same time supporting a small business, you couldn’t pick a more hardworking and kind person!

You can find Wink Ware here:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WinkWare
Facebook: @winkwaredesign     https://www.facebook.com/winkwareDesign/
Twitter: @winkwaredesign     https://twitter.com/winkwaredesign
Instagram: winkwaredesign     https://www.instagram.com/winkwaredesign/

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Feralia.net blog. episode 98: Krakoa Seeds Update

A couple of weeks back I wrote about a little nerdy gardening project that my daughter and I started. We planted the “Krakoa Seeds” that came with an X-Men Comic I purchased. Today I wanted to post pics of their progress!

The first 2 pictures are at 15 days after planting:

The next two are at 21 days:

And the last two are from today, at 24 days:

They seem to be coming along well so far. We’re making a point not to look up what the flowers will look like online so it’ll be a surprise.

In the meantime we’ll continue to sow the seeds of tomorrow! 😉

I hope that all of you are doing well and staying healthy in these crazy times!

-Clint

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Feralia.net blog. episode 97: Review – X-Men: Onslaught


Next up on my X-Men Reading Project is Onslaught. This is another mega crossover event, but not just for the X-Teams this time. Also involved are the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, the Green Goblin, the Incredible Hulk, Thor & Punisher!  This was actually really cool for me, because it’s not all that often that I get to read these titles.

The collection I got, pictured above, is the Complete Epic, which is 4 volumes long. I won’t get into the ISBNs and issues collected because there are a ton to list, and they’re easily available to look up. All together, the 4 volumes are around 1,000 pages. I found mine all together on eBay for a really good deal, pretty far below the cover price. One thing to note, however, is that after I bought mine, Marvel released X-Men Milestones: Onslaught. This collection is much cheaper, but only 488 pages. I haven’t had a chance to look at it myself, but the Milestone books are usually pretty nice, and I’m assuming it covers the main story well while cutting out a lot of filler, which for me, is fine. So the Milestone collection might be a good one to check out if you want to read this story. It just came out this past February, so it’s also much easier to find.
onslaught milestone
Moving onto the story, the heroes face the villain Onslaught. I won’t get into the story much, as usual, for fear of any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read it. But the identity of Onslaught ends up being what I thought was a pretty cool concept, with major ties to the Fatal Attractions story, which I really enjoyed. So that was a plus for me personally.

The artwork varied greatly, with all of the different titles collected. I got to see work from a bunch of different artists, which was really enjoyable.

In conclusion, I’d definitely recommend checking out this big event, whether you’re just catching up on the major X-Men stories, or going for a more in depth reading experience.

4/5

-Clint

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Feralia.net blog. episode 96: Review – X-Men: Road to Onslaught

Last on my X-Men Reading Project I featured the mega event Age of Apocalypse. The next major event chronologically is Onslaught, and this 3 volume collection bridges the gap between the two.

I’ve been collecting the Trade Paperbacks on my reading journey, and unfortunately the prices I found on Amazon for these collections were pretty high. I found mine for really good deals on eBay. The alternative would be to grab the digital editions which are also way cheaper, if you don’t mind reading on a device.

Volume 1 is ISBN 978-0785188254 and collects X-Men Prime, Uncanny X-Men (1963) #322-326, X-Men (1991) #42-45 & Annual ’95 and X-Men Unlimited (1993) #8.

Volume 2 is ISBN 978-0785188308 and collects X-Men/Clandestine #1-2, Uncanny X-Men (1963) #327-328 & Annual ’95, X-Men (1991) #46-49, X-Men Unlimited (1993) #9 and Sabretooth (1995) #1.

And lastly, Volume 3 is ISBN 978-0785190059 and collects Uncanny X-Men 329-332, Archangel #1, X-Men/Brood #1-2, X-Men Unlimited (1993) #10, X-Men #50-52, Wolverine (1988) #101, and the Xavier Institute Alumni Yearbook.

For easy reference, the collection covers X-Men #42-52 and Uncanny X-Men #322-332 along with most of the other stuff going on at the time with the main teams.

The books themselves are really nice quality, the stories and art good. I think my favorite thing about this run is that it’s nice to get back to “normal” after the crazy Age of Apocalypse. I always loved seeing the daily lives of the characters.

While the content is very good, I can’t recommend these three volumes at the prices they currently go for on Amazon, and would instead do digital or eBay, as mentioned above.

Like other “span-the-gap” collections (such as Dissolution & Rebirth, for example), this one goes much the same as far as recommendations: if you’re only reading major storylines to catch up quickly, I’d say that these volumes aren’t critical and could be skipped. On the other hand, if you’re looking to keep up with the teams on a closer, more day to day level, you’ll enjoy them.

3/5

-Clint

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Feralia.net blog. episode 95: Sowing the Seeds of Tomorrow… an… X-Men gardening blog??

So last year when I picked up the first issue of Marvel’s House of X (part of a major X-Men event along side Powers of X, which are really good, by the way), I was given a packet of seeds. I forgot about them for a while, but finally made a point to get them out this year.
Seeds 1
So this past Saturday, my daughter and I decided to make an activity out of it and plant our Krakoa Seeds!
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They’re actually a flower called Bachelor’s Buttons. While we do have a small garden, I’m not big into plants outside of that, so this was the first I’d heard of them.
Seeds in Hand
It was a cool father/daughter activity and we had a really nice time!
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Hopefully the seeds will be fine after sitting so long. I’ll post updates once/if they start to grow. We’re looking forward to growing our very own Krakoa Seeds!

-Clint

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Feralia.net blog. episode 94: Review – X-Men: Age of Apocalypse


So in my X-Men Reading Project I finally came to the mega event Age of Apocalypse. This was really interesting because it was around this time in the 90’s that I started falling away from American comics as a kid, in large part to these huge crossovers which were so big that I couldn’t afford to collect them all. Age of Apocalypse was probably the biggest of these for me. Not only did all of the X-Books change names as part of the AoA for 4 issues, but there were other important stand alone issues as well.

AoA is available in a super nice (but expensive) hardback collection. I went the cheaper route and was able to find the Age of Apocalypse Complete Epic (parts 1-4 pictured above) for a really good deal. It’s five volumes. I reviewed the Prelude separately because it was so different than the rest of the story. I’m not going to get into the ISBN’s and issues collected this time because that in itself is a bit of a chore, and info on the collection can be found pretty easily.

As far as how critical this story is if you’re catching up on all of the major X-Men storylines, I’d say that it’s actually pretty important despite being an alternate timeline story, especially if you’re going to read the next big event, Onslaught, since there are ramifications that carry over into the real world of our favorite merry mutants. So, if you don’t want to drop a bunch of money on this collection, I would at least read a detailed synopsis so that certain things make sense later on.

Personally I found the story to be much the same as I remembered it as a kid: overwhelmingly BIG. The 4 main story issues of the AoA Complete Epic are over 1300 pages together! And that’s not including the 237 pages of the Prelude. So reading it was a big undertaking. I’m normally not nearly as into alternate tales, reboots, or other such things, preferring to stay with the history of the characters I know and love, so I wasn’t really into the AoA myself. That being said, it is a major epic that is well planned and executed. It’s just that there are large sections of story (Generation Next, the 4 issues of Generation X in the AoA, in particular) which just felt so long and drawn out.

In conclusion, I’d definitely at least read up on it in detail if you don’t want to make the big time and cost commitment.

3/5

-Clint

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Feralia.net blog. episode 93: Jackie Chan Triple Play, part 3/3: My Top 5 Jackie Chan Movies!

For the final part in my series, I’ve saved the best for last: the movies. There are a ton, and it was hard to pick, but these are my favorites. (I had to leave a lot of notable films out, Project A for example.) Each one perfectly meshes hilarious comedy with stunts (Jackie doing his own, of course) which are exciting, very dangerous and just exhilarating to watch. These may not be everyone’s favorites, but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

#5. Operation Condor 2
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I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t seen it, but the absolutely insane stunts come early and often in this fun adventure.

4. Rush Hour
jc rush hour
The lone American-produced movie on this list successfully brought Jackie’s brand of action comedy to Hollywood. It’s also a great buddy movie – the Jackie and Chris Tucker are hilarious together. My fondest memory of this movie is seeing it opening weekend while on vacation in Florida with my Grandma, who is also a big Jackie Chan fan.

3. Mister Nice Guy
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If you’ve ever wondered what Jackie Chan is like when pushed to the point that he’s really, really mad, then this movie is for you. This film features, in my opinion, one of the most awesome, amazing, funny and destructive endings in any movie period. Bam. It’s over. Stopping abruptly, hilariously and satisfactorily.

#2. Rumble in the Bronx
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I remember the commercial for the US release being my first exposure to Jackie Chan, and thinking how crazy the movie looked. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s full of the usual amazing choreography, but really takes the comedy to off the wall places in a unique way that only Asian entertainment can seem to create. It’s lovable and weird at times, and just all around awesome.

#1. Jackie Chan’s First Strike
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Known in Hong Kong as Police Story 4: First Strike, for me personally, this is the benchmark Jackie Chan movie. The action and locations are surprisingly varied and everything is executed as flawlessly as any of his films. What pushes it to the top for me, however, is how well it brings the warmth and wholesomeness of Jackie out. You can’t help but love his good-natured innocence and great humor.

Well, that’s it. My favorites. One thing that I can’t forget to make mention are the awesome outtakes at the end of all of these movies, as well as the theme songs sung by Jackie during the credits of many of them as well.

So those are my favorites. But I did have to leave many out. What are yours??

-Clint

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Feralia.net blog. episode 92: Jackie Chan Triple Play, part 2/3: Recommended Album: Jackie Chan (Sing Lung)

Jackie Album
When you hear the name Jackie Chan, the first things that naturally come to mind for most are stunts and action-comedy, and rightly so. What you may not know is that Jackie is also an accomplished singer as well. Today I wanted to feature the album Sing Lung (which is his Cantonese artist name). It’s actually a collection of mostly his older Japanese songs, with new lyrics in Cantonese. (Credit goes to to this page for the translations and harder to find info!) While there are better quality recordings of some of these songs, I picked this album for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s currently available on Amazon Prime Music, making it more easily accessible than most of his music. Second, I feel like it’s a nice collection of Jackie’s songs up to that point which really captures a fun mood which represents the overall tone of his music well, and hearing them in a different language is pretty cool – a good place to start for those who are new to his music or perhaps only familiar with his movie themes, like I was.

I also loved that a couple of my favorites were included: Track 4, Flight of the Dragon (theme from Armour of God films, or as they’re known in the US, Operation Condor) and Track 10, Hero Story (theme from Police Story).

So, who would I recommend this album for?

  • Fans of Jackie in general. His music captures the sort of wholesome warmth we feel from him on screen.
  • Fans of the ending themes from Jackie’s movies. Many of the ending credits to Jackie Chan movies feature songs by Jackie himself. If you enjoyed those, this collection is a great place to discover more!
  • Fans of J-Pop and J-Rock. While this album is in Cantonese, I feel like fans of Japanese rock and pop will appreciate it. There are times when I’m reminded (at least musically, if not vocally) Megumi Hayashibara, one of my favorite Japanese singers.
  • Fans of anime and anime soundtracks. Especially those of us who fondly remember 80’s and 90’s anime and the music that went along with it. There are moments on this album that feel reminiscent of opening and closing themes from that era, and even a couple that remind me background music from newer anime. (One in particular makes me picture Naruto taking a leisurely and happy stroll through the Hidden Leaf Village) 😉
  • Fans of 80’s music. Like a lot of 80’s music, it’s quirky and weird, making it all the more lovable.
  • Anyone tired of the radio. If you’re like me and quickly tire of hearing the same song every 30 minutes on a pop station, or the same 90’s rock hits every single day, try something new and exciting! There’s a whole world of great international music out there!

Join me tomorrow for the final part of my features: my top 5 Jackie Chan movies!

-Clint

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