I am so ready for this year to be over. I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way. I don’t think I need to remind everyone why.
As awful as it has been, we should take some comfort that we made it all the way to December. We have both the holidays to look forward to, as well as the start of a new year. That’s promising. It’s an objectively good outlook to have.
We still have to make it through December, though. There’s still plenty of time left for something awful to happen. Aliens may or may not invade, but if an asteroid struck tomorrow, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
In the meantime, the best we can do is find a way of making it through this final month. For me, comics have always been a great way to endure tough times and extract a little basic joy from life. They helped me get through high school. They also helped me get through some dark, unpleasant times in my life.
For that reason, and many others, I’ll always be grateful. Given how much my spirits have been crushed and maimed by 2020, I’ll need them more than ever to make it through this final month. Thankfully, the fine publishers of the industry are still hard at work and I gladly patronize them every Wednesday. I encourage others to do the same.
To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy and hang in there people! We’re on the final lap.
As someone who regularly consumes superhero media of all kinds, I try to appreciate the real heroes in the real world who regularly save countless lives. Most carry themselves without superpowers, flashy costumes, or charisma on par with Robert Downy Jr. or Christopher Reeves. They just do the work that needs doing to help people who will never know their name.
A couple years ago, I made a tribute to Dr. Norman Borlaug, the famed agricultural scientist who helped usher in an agricultural revolution. This man, who most have never heard of, has saved millions of lives by helping the world produce more food, reduce famine, and combat world hunger. The amount of good this man has done for the world cannot be overstated.
In that same spirit, I’d like to highlight another individual who I doubt most people have heard of. He’s another doctor who, through his work, has helped save millions of lives, many of them children. It’s because of this man that millions of children born today don’t become ill with diseases that had ravaged humanity for generations.
Of those vaccines, 8 are still routinely recommended by doctors today. They combat terrible diseases like measles, mumps, Hepatitis, and chicken pox.
It’s a level of productivity that is unparalleled today. As a result of these vaccines, approximately 8 million lives are saved every year. Even though he died in 2005, he continues to save lives with each passing year through his work. Like Dr. Borlaug, his heroism only compounds with time. Even Tony Stark can’t boast that.
Most people alive today don’t realize just how bad it was before these vaccines were developed. Many diseases, some of which you’ve probably never heard of, were rampant. Before Dr. Hilleman helped develop the vaccine, measles alone infected between 3 and 4 million people every year in the United states, killing at between 400 and 500 at a time.
Children and the elderly were especially vulnerable. It was once just a fact of life that these diseases would come around and kill a sizable number of children. It was as unavoidable as bad weather.
Take a moment to imagine life in those conditions. One day, you or your children would just get sick and there was nothing you could do to prevent it. That was life before these remarkable advances came along.
That’s why when people say that nothing has saved more lives than vaccines, they’re not peddling propaganda. They’re just sharing the results of basic math. It’s because of men like Dr. Maurice Hilleman that these numbers are what they are. However, his name is not well-known, even in a field that has become more prominent.
Most people know who Edward Jenner is and appreciate how many lives he saved by combating Smallpox.
Most people know who Jonas Salk is and appreciate how many people he helped by developing a polio vaccine.
Now, what these men did was remarkable. They certainly deserve the praise and admiration they receive for developing their respective vaccines. However, Dr. Maurice Hilleman still deserves to be in that same echelon. For the number of vaccines he helped develop and the legacy he left, he certainly put in the work and accomplished a great deal.
The diseases Dr. Hilleman battled might not have been as high-profile as Smallpox or polio, but they were every bit as damaging. That makes it all the more frustrating to see efforts like the anti-vaxx movement take hold, which has led to resurgences of diseases like measles in certain communities. That is not the direction we should be going right now.
In the midst of a historic pandemic, the importance of medical science and those who work in it has never been more critical. This might be the best possible time to acknowledge the work of men like Dr. Hilleman. Even after this pandemic has passed, we should all appreciate work like his even more.
None of us have superpowers like Spider-Man or Superman.
Most of us will never be as rich, smart, or resourceful as Iron Man or Batman.
Dr. Hilleman had none of this. Just like Dr. Borlaug, he came from a poor family. At one point, he didn’t have enough money for college. He still persevered and he still managed to do the work that went onto save millions of lives. It might not be a hero’s story on par with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s still a special kind of heroism.
So, on this day as we anxiously wait for this pandemic to end, take a moment to appreciate the work of Dr. Maurice Hilleman. It’s because of him that such pandemics are so rare. It’s also because of him that this current pandemic won’t take nearly as many lives as it could’ve.
Depending on who you ask, we either live in a golden age of television or a deepening dark age. The rise of streaming media and the decline of traditional TV models has completely changed how Hollywood does business. Some say it’s a good thing. Some say it’ll lead to the utter destruction of the entertainment industry, as we know it.
Is it shamelessly desperate in the never-ending fight for more eyeballs and subscribes? Yes, it is.
Is most of it utterly forgettable and completely unfit for the current media landscape? For the most part, it is.
That’s exactly why “The Animaniacs” reboot is such a wonderfully refreshing achievement. It’s doesn’t just bring back a beloved show that many kids in the 90s, myself included, grew up watching. It perfectly captures the spirit of that show while still embracing a modern aesthetic that fits perfectly in 2020.
It helps that this show didn’t try to completely reinvent itself. It brought back the original voice actors for Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. It didn’t significantly change the theme song, the comedic style, or the overall structure of the show. The only noticeable changes were updated animation and a more contemporary setting.
Everything else is as zany, irreverent, and meta as you remember. It’s the same style long-time fans grew to love in the mid-1990s. Remarkably, that style works just as well 22 years later.
A big appeal to that style is just how self-aware the show is of its absurdities. The Warner Brothers, and the Warner Sister, know who and what they are in the grand scheme of things. They gleefully mock, tease, and joke about anything and anyone that crosses their path.
Some of that humor is more mature than a simple pie in the face. Other times, it’s as simple as Dot hitting her brothers with an oversized mallet. Both brands of humor are still funny and cartoonishly over-the-top.
It’s the kind of humor that works for kids and adults alike. That was a big part of what made the original show so popular and endearing. In watching this reboot, I still found myself laughing hysterically at times.
My inner 90s kid and my full-fledged adult delighted in the same jokes and gags. It never felt like my love of the old show was being exploited or mocked. It just felt like a fresh influx of zany comedy that I had missed for 22 years.
Even the Warners acknowledge in the first episode that the world has changed. The type of humor they did in the 90s just won’t land like it once did. That doesn’t stop them from making plenty of 90s reference, but that’s not the sole source of appeal. It’s just a small part of it.
No matter the era, “The Animaniacs” works by sticking to a simple formula. Put Yakko, Wakko, and Dot in a strange situation, be it the gods of Olympus or in search of a donut thief. Then, let them be their zany selves as they encounter various characters and obstacles along the way. The comedy just naturally emerges from there.
This reboot did not radically change that formula, both for the Warners and for Pinky and the Brain. It just updated the dates and settings while not avoiding the many ways the world has changed.
There are hipster douche-bags running donut shops.
There are self-importance CEOs who don’t give a damn about anything other than profits and themselves.
There are assholes who take up way too much space in a movie theater.
Some of these things existed in the 1990s too, but they’re more relevant to current pop culture trends. “The Animaniacs” gleefully and hilariously rides those waves.
That’s not to say that all the jokes land. Not every episode is perfect. Some jokes just don’t land and not every musical number is as memorable as Yakko’s famous countries of the world song. There are still many more hits than misses. I argue their song about reboots is the best of the bunch.
Now, you could say a lot about how relevant “The Animaniacs” is in this current era of adult animation. There’s no doubt the landscape is very different than what it was during the 1990s. This show was part of its own golden era in the 1990s, but that era is long gone.
These days, adult animation is dominated by shows like “Bojack Horseman” and “Rick and Morty.” Those shows still utilize comedy, but their brand of humor is a lot darker, built largely on the increasingly cynical trends that have been unfolding since the early 2000s.
I don’t deny that the kids who grew up watching the original Animaniacs weren’t nearly as jaded as kids today. Even before the awfulness of 2020, generations of kids and adults alike have seen a steady decline in hope for the future. Given that kind of attitude, it’s a lot harder for that zany style of comedy to land.
However, “The Animaniacs” reboot finds a way. It resists the urge to fall into the same dark traps as many other failed reboots. It doesn’t try to be “Bojack Horseman” or “Rick and Morty.” It just tries to be the same Animaniacs we know and love.
That’s what makes it work.
That’s what makes it funny.
That’s what makes it totally insaney, even in a year as insane as this.
That’s exactly why I love it and highly recommend it to anyone with a Hulu subscription.
The holidays are truly upon us now. We can all stop complaining about malls and stores putting their decorations up too damn early. It’s officially not early anymore. We’re in the heart of the season. It often starts just before Thanksgiving, but now we’re past the before part.
Let’s not overlook the big, ugly turkey in the room, though. This past Thanksgiving, and the holidays in general, are bound to be different this year. You just can’t have normal Thanksgiving festivities during a once-in-a-century global pandemic. It’s both irresponsible and dangerous. That’s why we have to adapt, but doing so doesn’t mean abandoning the holiday spirit.
This past Thanksgiving was very different for me and my family. I’m used to big family gatherings, long tables of tightly packed family members gorging on food, and lots of friendly hugging. That sort of deal just isn’t conducive to things like social distancing. I understand that. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
Were it not for video chatting and Zoom, I might not have seen my family at all this year. For that, I’m thankful. If nothing else, it encourages me to make Thanksgiving extra awesome next year. I encourage others to do the same if we’ve done enough to end this pandemic. With two vaccines in the works, that’s no longer too big an if.
In the meantime, it’s still a great time to get into the holiday spirit. This past Thanksgiving may have been different, but it’s still a reason to celebrate and appreciate what we have, as well as what we’ve overcome. Here are some Sexy Sunday Thoughts to help you feel thankful, among other things. Enjoy!
“A tactful nymphomaniac is not that different from a functional alcoholic.”
“Men can’t help but be conflicted when a woman recognizes a famous porn star.”
“To some extent, drama is the foreplay before foreplay.”
“The human race would literally not exist without motherfuckers and yet we use that as an insult.”
“Find a lover who will protect you the same way a pervert protects their hard drive.”
“Like it or not, hot moms are likely to raise the most awkward teenagers.”
“Hate sex leaves your body and mind conflicted, even when you do it right.”
The following is a YouTube video for my YouTube Channel, Jack’s World. Since it’s the week of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be timely. It covers my history with getting into shape, the challenges I faced along the way, and my advice for those who seek to do the same. I’ve talked about this challenge before, but I thought it warranted a more comprehensive video. Enjoy!
If you did it right, you’re still digesting dinner and desert. I sure am.
However, as fun as it is to enjoy food, family, and football on Thanksgiving, Black Friday has become an extension of sorts for the holiday. For some people, it invites even bolder traditions than Thanksgiving. I’ve known people who will immediately camp outside of major stories almost immediately after Thanksgiving dinner.
I’m not one of them. I prefer enjoying Black Friday shopping on Black Friday. I always have. It’s not that I’m a sucker for sales and excessive consumerism. I just genuinely enjoy the Black Friday shopping experience, from the crowds to the holiday decorations to the various festivities.
I know that makes me weird in the eyes of some. I understand that. Black Friday is one of those events that you either love or hate. You love it because it’s the best shopping time of the season. You hate it because it’s the pinnacle of rampant consumerism. I can appreciate both positions. I still enjoy it.
That’s why this year is so difficult. This is the first year where I won’t partake in any Black Friday shopping sprees of any kind. Thanks to a global pandemic and a massive spike in cases over the past few weeks, pretty much any hope of salvaging this event, even in part, is gone.
For some, it’s no great loss. Not being able to go on a shopping spree in crowded stores probably doesn’t mean much to a lot of people. It means a lot to me.
It’s not just for the shopping part. Like many others, I do most of my Christmas shopping online. I finish nearly 90 percent of my holiday shopping before Black Friday. To me, just getting the gifts I want for my family isn’t the point anymore.
It’s the experience I’ve come to appreciate. That experience is what matters to me. It’s an experience that comes partially from my mother’s fondness of shopping.
She has told me on multiple occasions that her favorite activity with me, when I was a baby, was going shopping at the malls. I feel like I inherited that fondness for the experience from her. It’s one I even shared with my ex-girlfriend years ago. Some of our most memorable moments came while shopping on Black Friday.
Now, it’s just not possible to have any of those moments in a year like this.
It’s not surprising, given the current state of affairs, but it’s still disappointing. It’s yet another indicator that 2020 is a year in which we’ve lost so much. Between major movie releases, major sporting events, and beloved celebrities, the losses just keep accumulating. This is just the latest.
I don’t doubt it’ll come back at some point. Depending on how rapidly we recover from this pandemic, I have a feeling people will be eager to make up for lost experiences next year. I know I will.
Until then, I just want to take a moment to appreciate the past experiences I’ve enjoyed with Black Friday shopping. The experience of just going to malls, being around crowds, and taking part in holiday festivities are some of my favorite aspects of this time of year. I won’t let 2020 ruin my holidays, but I intend to appreciate future Black Fridays even more.
To everyone out there, no matter how jaded you might be after this past year, I wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
I know this year has disrupted many plans, holiday and non-holiday alike. They’ve certainly disrupted mine. I can attest that Thanksgiving this year will be very different for me compared to previous years. The large family gatherings that I’m so fond of just aren’t possible to do safely.
As disappointing as that is, I won’t let it stop me from enjoying Thanksgiving with my family, nor should it stop anyone else. It may require some frustrating adaptations. It may also require a working knowledge of video chatting and Zoom. It’s still worth doing.
That’s what you do for family.
That’s what you do for the holidays.
It’s part of what makes you thankful to have them in your life.
That’s worth celebrating and I encourage everyone to do so.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always extra special. For me, it’s like an appetizer before the appetizers. It’s a mini-holiday before a major holiday, which only serves to make both holidays even better.
Does that sound complicated and weird? I don’t doubt that it does.
Does it make me love it even more? Absolutely!
New comics are a like a hot meal for my soul. They inspire and invigorate me like my mother’s famous pumpkin pie. Knowing I’ll be able to dine on actual pumpkin pie the next day only makes them more delicious. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
Whatever your Thanksgiving plans are this year, tempered they might be, today is a good day to work up an appetite. Before you start slaving away in the kitchen, take a step back to enjoy a nice stack of new comics. It’ll make you feel like a hero when dinner is served.
To that end, here is my pull list and pick for this beautiful Thanksgiving Eve. Take care and I wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
As you get older, you come to treasure certain memories more than most. It’s a natural thing. If you’ve conducted yourself a certain way, it can be a beautiful thing. It’s not always a pleasant process, especially as you encounter major life challenges and inevitable hardships. That doesn’t make it any less meaningful.
The holidays are a time during which we form many such memories. I certainly have. Some of my most cherished memories occurred over the holidays. Some were on Christmas and some were on Thanksgiving. This year, with so many friends and family still isolated due to the pandemic, I find myself contemplating those memories more than usual.
I doubt I’m alone. There’s just no getting around it. For Thanksgiving, especially, we just can’t do things the way we normally do in 2020. That’s just the reality of a deadly pandemic. We can’t travel, get together, or casually share used forks. It’s sad and frustrating, but that’s just the way things have to be for this year.
For me and my family, that’s especially difficult. That’s because every year, my parents make it a point to make their house, the same one I grew up in, the epicenter of all things Thanksgiving. Every year, family from all over traveled to our part of the country to get together, have a giant meal, and just enjoy each other’s company.
These gatherings were often the biggest family gatherings of the year. It wasn’t unusual for there to be at least 20 people crammed into that house. It was big and rowdy, but we all loved it. I certainly did. We had so much fun, sharing in the joys of food, family, and football. I’m really going to miss that this year.
Rather than dwell on that, though, I’d like to share a quick personal story that I hope will get others through this pandemic-hit holiday. It just happens to be one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories of all time and one that perfectly defines what makes my family so awesome.
This particular memory unfolded when I was fairly young. I was still in elementary school at the time and much of my extended family wasn’t that much older. Once again, my parents made their house the central focus of Thanksgiving festivities and we attracted quite a crowd. I remember aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends joining in, some of which I hadn’t seen in years.
In addition to the usual gathering and feasting, the weather this year was just perfect. It was unusually warm for late November. A number of cousins and friends wore shorts and a T-shirt. It was just that nice out. As a result, we hung around outside a lot more than usual. It’s here where this Thanksgiving memory really takes hold.
Shortly after we ate, a bunch of cousins and extended family gathered in the backyard and started throwing around a football, as many are inclined to do on Thanksgiving. It started as a simple game of catch between a few cousins. It then evolved into a full-fledged game, complete with route running, elaborate plays, and touchdown dances.
We didn’t plan it.
We didn’t keep score.
We didn’t even set clear rules and time limits.
We all just came together as friends and family to play a football game in the backyard. It felt so natural and organic. It was a perfect manifestation of everything we loved about Thanksgiving get-togethers.
If that weren’t memorable enough, some clouds rolled in near sunset and it started raining suddenly. However, not one person in the backyard ran inside. If anything, it just made everyone more excited to play. The game kept going. We kept running around, tackling each other, and just had an all-around great time.
Being a kid with a belly full of Thanksgiving dinner, I honestly didn’t want it to end. I wanted to just hang out back there and play football until the sun went down. Even as some friends and family had to leave, we kept going for as long as we could. When it finally ended, I knew on some levels that this had been a special Thanksgiving.
Time has only proven that sentiment right. To date, it’s one of my most cherished Thanksgiving memories. I’ll likely cherish it even more as I endure a Thanksgiving without that big family gathering I’ve come to love and appreciate. I know many in my family feel the same way.
Thanksgiving this year may be disappointing in its scope, but I would encourage them and everyone who shares that feeling to think back to those memories. More importantly, use them as inspiration, as well as motivation, to make Thanksgiving in 2021 even more special.
I hope this little story has boosted your holiday spirits. I also hope everyone finds a way to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, however tempered it might be. The holidays are here. Let’s not allow a pandemic to dampen our spirits.
Let’s not lie to ourselves. Thanksgiving is going to be very different this year. Pretty much everything has had to be different this year, thanks to a once-in-a-century pandemic. There’s just no way around it. All we can do is adapt and endure.
For some, that means Thanksgiving is not going to be quite as festive. If you enjoy large family gatherings, hanging out near malls for Black Friday sales, or traveling extensively to meet up with relatives, then your Thanksgiving spirit is going to be tempered this year, by default. That’s just the way it is in 2020.
I’m already bracing myself. I’m still getting together with family, but it’s going to be on a much smaller scale than usual. Given how big my family is and how much they love get-togethers, that’s going to make it rough. We’re still going to try and make it work. Thankfully, most of us have already learned to have large gatherings through Zoom and FaceTime.
However, I’d rather not dwell on what this Thanksgiving will lack. In the interest of keeping things balanced, I’d like to do my part to help us endure these pandemic-hampered holidays.
To that end, I’d like to share a video from the channel, Best Posts & Comments. It’s a simple complication of Reddit posts that recounted infamous incidents that occurred on Thanksgiving.
I must offer a clear warning, though. Some of these incidents are quite cringy. Trust me. You’ll know it when you hear it. Cringe or not, I hope it helps you feel a bit better about Thanksgiving this year. Enjoy!