Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rick’s Best Things from 2013

Most of these are things I discovered in 2013.  They may have been created before.  I found them in 2013.  These are in no particular order.


Misfits

This is a British TV show about a group of juvenile delinquents who get superpowers while serving out community service.  It is a very adult show.  There is a strong mature audience warning for this.  It is warped, twisted and wonderful all at the same time.  This was the last Series (what they call a Season in the U.K.).  They take the idea of superpowers and tweak it hard.  They try to be very realistic.  There is also a sense of mad joy with the show as well. 


Watson and Holmes

This is a Comic book Series with African-American version of Sherlock Holes and Doctor Watson.  It is set in Harlem, NYC. It is the best of Blaxploitation, True Crime and Mystery genre mashed together.  It is by writer Karl Bollers and artist Rick Leonardi.


Elysium

This is the latest film by Neill Blomkamp.  It is his follow up to District 9.  Matt Damon puts in a great performance as the protagonist.  It is interesting look as a dystopian world.  The haves live in an orbital habitat and the have not are stuck on the Earth’s surface.  It is not perfect, but I loved it.


Steam Powered Giraffe
http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com/

Here is where description gets tricky.  They are a musical act, I use that term on purpose.  They are part Band, part performance troupe.  They mix Theater, Mime, Improv with folk and Pop music.  Their back story is they are a group of performing robots built in the 1800’s.  The have a wonderfully unique sound.  Musically they are wonderful, but to get a true clue as to their talents one needs to see their video or live performances.  They have become a big hit in the Steampunk Community for obvious reasons. 


METAtropolis

This is a series of short story anthologies.  The first collection was edited by John Scalzi, the others were edited by Jay Lake.  This takes the concept of the city and turns it on its head.  It is a shared world set first in the mid 21st Century then progressing to the 22nd Century.  It looks at what is both possible and probable.  This is not a Utopian or Dystopian future.  It just is with good and bad.  The first one is the only one available as a standard book.  The sequels, METAtropolis: Cascadia and METAtropolis: Green Space, are currently only available as Audio Books through Audible and Amazon.com.


Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle

These are by no means new, but I received one at the end of this year.  I am not a Coffee drinker I prefer tea.  I am a philistine, in that I use mostly tea bags and Chai tea powdered mixes.  It works for me.  This little appliance makes things so much more convenient.   I have had a wonderful time learning how to use it and doing so. 


Geek Trivia at the Kennedy School in Portland, Oregon

I can say that 2013, was a great year for me and this institution.  My Team and I, this time only three of us, won a Grand Prize.  Actually my team won a time or two more in my absence. This is held at the McMenamins’ Kennedy School, which is a historic public school that has been converted into a Hotel with a series of restaurants, bars and a film theater.  The Masters of Ceremony are Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts.  The event’s main sponsor is Things from Another World, chain of comic book and pop culture stores.  It is a fun time every time.  It is held every other Tuesday.  If you are in town check it out.


Monster Kid Radio
http://www.monsterkidradio.net/
 
This is a wonderful Podcast that covers the 30’s through 60’s of Monster movies.  It is hosted by Derek M. Koch with various guests.  The show covers the full gamut of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy film.  It is a great time.  Derek and his various guests know what they are talking about. 


Injustice: Gods Among Us.

I am a fan of fighting video games/ and I am a DC Comics fan.  For me, this was a perfect melding of the two.  The game was developed by the same studio that is working on the current Mortal Kombat games.  I loved this game and need to work on it some more.  There was also the obvious plus for me that Shazam and Black Adam are among the playable characters.


House of Cards (U.S. Version)

I was a fan of the Original British Production of this.  Kevin Spacey and Company did it serious justice.  It is not an exact copy, due to the differences in political system and time periods.  It also is one of the first big Netflix produced shows.  They made 13 episodes and released them in one day.  It is one of the best political thrillers out there. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Star Wars & Me

My journey with Star Wars began not with the movie, but with the Toys.  The Toys at the time were cool and they began a whole new scale in action figure sizes.  Before there were the 8 inch Mego or the 12 inch sized G.I. Joes and Six Million Dollar Man.  That was in late 1977, the Year the first Star Wars film came out.  Yes, I know it was Episode Four, at the time it was the first movie out.  I did not see it till 1978 and I saw it in a drive in.  I was 10 years old.  Mind you, I had been on a trip to the stars before with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.  This was different. It was reminiscent of the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers Serials from the Thirties and Forties.  I loved it; I had some of the toys.  I was not obsessed with it.  It spoke to me, but not as loudly as to others.  Light Sabers, really cool looking alien Races, Special effects that blew me out of the water, were among the things that surprised me in a pleasant way.  As a kid I did not really start going to movies in the theater much till I was 12 or so.  Science Fiction TV shows were more my forte.  I watched Battlestar Galactica at the time and thought that was awesome.  I know in retrospect the Seventies Original version was cheesy.  As a kid I was a mouse, I loved cheese.  I saw the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special too, once again not my speed, although at 10 I liked it.  I read a few of the Han Solo prequel novels and the Star Wars comic from Marvel.  I did not get too much into the expanded universe.

In 1980, my family was living on Adak, Alaska.  At the time it was a military base.  When Empire Strikes Back came to the island, everyone was at that theater watching.  In order to handle the demand they had multiple showings and even did Weekday and night showings.  It like its predecessor shocked and amazed me.  At the time the special effects were something we really had not seen the like.  Once again we bought the toys, hell we had a Star Wars slot car set.  I made my own Tie Fighter and X-Wing Fighter Models, well I assembled them.  They were the glue kind, previously I only had the snap on types.   I was blown away be the images again.  Lucas used a great deal of Japanese influences to the wardrobe and production design to movies. 

In 1983 I was 15; we were back in Oxnard California.  Return of the Jedi came out and was played at the Ventura Theater in Ventura, California.  The Ventura went through a major renovation.  It tried to hearken to the days it was a Movie Palace in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Not only was it a great film it was in an amazing theater.  This was also the first time I realized I was no longer the target audience of the film.  The Ewoks, I did not care for them I knew they were fodder for the younger crowd.  Even my 11 year old brother did not care for them.  This was supposed to be a family movie so, I let it go.  Once again I was spellbound by the scope, the effects and the production design. 

During the hiatus between the original series and the prequels, I did not really get into any of the Expanded Universe novels or comics.  I was a young adult in my twenties when they started to arrive.  I was not that interested.  To be fair I was not into the novels for Star Trek either.  I tried to play the Star Wars table top RPG from West End Games.  It was not for me.  Star Wars informed my creativity, but it was never the big thing for me.  When the prequels came out I was in my thirties.  The first one definitely was geared for a younger crowd.  I was not it; I still understood where they were coming from.  The next two were good.  I felt disconnected from Star Wars by this time.  Mind you, my brother, Mike, loved Star Wars.  He was more the Star Wars guy than the Star Trek Guy.  I was the opposite.  We work that way.  This just was not my Science Fiction franchise.  I do not hate Star Wars, I love it.  I have my issues with certain tenants in Jedi Philosophy.  It is just not the one that permeates my every fiber.  I am not sure if there is something that does that completely for me.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holidazed

In order to show some holiday cheer I am going to go through the songs/skits from my Holidazed Playlist. This is a mix of Comedy, Rock Holiday Songs and Classics.  This list includes a few not safe for work or the kids.  It follows my warped and twisted sense of humor.  There is quite a bit from Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio, as well as The Brian Setzer Orchestra.  Originally it was just the Humor and Rock Holiday songs, later I decided to include the Classics. 

1. Father Christmas by the Kinks English street thugs mugging Santa or as he is known in the U.K. Father Christmas. Proto Punk definitely.
2. No So Silent Night by Bob Rivers. This is from White Trash Christmas. A rockabilly-ish rendition.
3. All I want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) by Spike Jones. Classic Comedy Christmas Carol.
4. Silver and Gold by Burl Ives  A Christmas Classic from a folk superstar of the 40’s and 50’s.
5. The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler. Yes I know it is over already this year. Still good stuff.
6. Nutcracker Suite by The Brian Setzer Orchestra. A Swing/ Rockabilly version of Tchaikovsky's Classic.
7. You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft. The original from the Chuck Jones Animated show.
8. Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear by Bob Rivers. Another Bob Rivers song. This one is hilariously irreverent.
9. Christmas All Over Again by Tom Petty. From a Very Special Christmas 2.
10. Christmas At Ground Zero by Weird Al Yankovic. A Weird Al holiday Classic.
11. Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses. One of the great 80's New Wave Christmas songs.
12. Baby Its Cold Outside by the Brian Setzer Orchestra with Anne Margaret.
13. Wreck the Malls by Bob Rivers.
14. Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton. Robot Overlord and Christmas what's not to love.
15. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by U2.
16. I'll Be Home for Christmas by Bing Crosby. 
17. The Night Santa Went Crazy by Weird Al Yankovic. Santa goes on a Homicidal rage.
18. Christmas Time is Here Vocal by Vince Guaraldi. This is the classic from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
19. A Letter To Santa by Bob Rivers. Imagine Don Vito Corleone giving Kris Kringle an Offer he could not refuse.
20. The Chanukah Song Part 2 by Adam Sandler.
21. Sleigh Ride by The Brian Setzer Orchestra. A Swinging verson of this Classic.
22. Santa Claus and His Old Lady by Cheech and Chong. Cheech tries to explain Santa to Tommy Chong's Stoner Musician Character.
23. What is Eminem did Jingle Bells? by Bob Rivers. The Twisted Radio crew always funny and irreverent.
24. Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC. The Original Hip Hop Holiday song.
25. Winter Wonderland by Tony Bennett. Another Classic.
26. Twelve Day of Christmas by Bob and Doug McKenzie. Five Golden Touques.
27. Merry F'n Christmas by Dennis Leary.
28. Aquaclaus by Bob Rivers. A Holiday version of Aqualung.
29. Blue Christmas by The Brian Setzer Orchestra. Yes I am a big Fan of Brian Setzer Orchestra and Bob Rivers.
30. The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) by Nat King Cole. Mel Torme's Classic by its original artist.
31. The Chanukah Song Part 3 by Adam Sandler. This is the final version found on the Eight Crazy Days Soundtrack.
32. Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry. One of the Best Rock and Roll holiday songs by one of the Pioneers of Rock.
33. Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi. Not officially a Holiday song. It did debut on Charlie Brown Christmas.
34. Goin' Up to Bethlehem by Bob Rivers. A Creedence Clearwater Revival styled Holiday song.
35. Happy Xmas (The War is Over) by John Lennon. Another Rock Holiday Classic.
36. Let it Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow by Dean Martin. The most iconic version of this song.
37. Getting in the Mood [For Christmas] by The Brian Setzer Orchestra. A holiday version of In the Mood, the Glen Miller Classic.
38. Christmas/ Sarajevo 12/24 (instrumental) by The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Their first big single.
39. The Twelve Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers. Bob Rivers gives us why the Holidays for some are hell.
40. The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) by Alvin & the Chipmunks. For me it is not the Holidays till this song comes on.
41. Mr. Heatmiser by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. This is both the Heatmiser and Snowmiser songs in one. IT is by a band that was big in the Swing Revival of the late 1990's. The song is from the Rankin Bass classic The Year Without Santa Claus.
42. I Saw Three Ships by Sting.
43.  Blue Christmas by Elivs Presley.  This is another must have classic.  Not a huge Elvis fan, but my Dad is.
44.  Mele Kalikimaka by the Blue Hawaiians.  Bing Crosby's Classic by a Hawaiian style band.
45.  The "What's It To Ya" Chorus by Bob Rivers.  The Hallelujah Chorus with attitude.
46.  God Rest ye, Merry Gentleman by Loreena McKennitt.  A Classic done in a Celtic Folk Style.
47.  Wizards in Winter (instrumental) by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Great song but he video with the Christmas lights on someone's home even better.
48.  Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy.  This is a Redneck Holiday Classic.
49.  Kidnap the Sandy Claws by Korn.  This is a cover from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
50.  Jingle Hells Bells by Bob Rivers.  An AC/DC styled holiday song.
51.  Who put the D*&# on the Snowman by Rodney Carrington.  This is a rude classic.
52.  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra. What can I say?  It is Old Blue Eyes.  You need at least one Holiday song from Frank Sinatra. 
53.  Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt.  Madonna move over.  No one else does this song justice in my opinion.
54.  Manger 6 by Bob Rivers.  A Motel 6 commercial done for the Nativity.
55.  Christmas by Blues Traveler.
56.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry.  The original version of this Classic. 
57.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Spike Jones.  Spike was known for his warped and wacky humor.
58.  Oi! to the World by The Vandals.  The Punk holiday classic.
59.  You're a Mean One. Mr. Grinch by The Brian Setzer Orchestra.  A great cover of the classic.
60.  I am Santa Claus by Bob Rivers.  A holiday song based on Black Sabbath's Iron Man.
61.  2000 Miles by the Pretenders.
62.  Good King Wenceslas by Loreena McKennitt.
63.  White Christmas by Bing Crosby.  If you are going to have the Classic originals in your list this is a must have.
64.  A Christmas Raid Carol by The Guild.  The Guild gets into Holiday Mode with this piece.
65.  Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys.  One cannot have lived in southern California after the 1960's and not heard this multiple time.  A Surf Rock Holiday Classic.
66.  A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives.  Another song for a Rankin and Bass Animated Holiday Special.  This one was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 
67.  Oiche Chiun (Silent Night) by Enya.  Silent Night is Irish Gaelic.  Don't ask me how it is pronounced. 
68.  Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms.  Considered as one of the first Rock and Roll Holiday song by many.
69. Christmas Ain’t About Me by the Doubleclicks  A wonderful Holiday song about going from being an only child to the elder child.
70.  Back Door Santa by John Popper.  The lead singer of Blues Traveler tries to blues up the holidays.
71.  Christmas is the Time to say "I Love You" by Billy Squier.  An 80's Rock Holiday Classic.
72.  Christmas in Hell by Satan, Dark Prince.  This is from South Park.  If I am going to have some warped Holiday songs this one is a definite choice.
73.  Christmastime by Smashing Pumpkins.
74.  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/ We Three Kings (with Sarah McLachlan) by Barenaked Ladies. 
75.  Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid.  The first big Benefit Supergroup.
76.  Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson.
77.  Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee.
78.  Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano.  The Spanish/ English holiday classic.
79.  Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth by Bing Crosby & David Bowie.  A wonderful Holiday song that bridged two generations.
80.  Hava Nagila by Dick Dale.  Surf Rock does a Classic Jewish Celebratory song.
81.  Thank God It's Christmas by Queen.  Queen plus Holidays what's not to love.
82. Old Toy Trains by Roger Miller. A country classic Christmas song
83.  Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town by Bruce Springsteen.
84.  Ave Maria + Intro by Eleven.
85.  Oi to the World by No Doubt.  No Doubt's cover of the Vandals Classic.
86.  God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen by Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo, & Simon Wright. A metal version of the classic
87. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by John Mellencamp.
88.  Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney.
89.  The Christmas Guest by Johnny Cash. A Classic Christmas tale
90.  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by The Pretenders..
91.   Lucky Too by Bob Neuwirth It is about Christmas in Las Vegas.
92.  Fairytale in New York by the Pogues.  A Classic Holiday song from the quintessential Celtic Punk band.
93. Don’t Shoot Me Santa by the Killers. A strange and haunting song about Killers and Santa.
94. Baby It’s Cold Outside (The Hoth Version) by Kirby Krackle and the Doubleclicks.  A Holiday Classic meets a Galaxy Far Far Away.
95. Snoopy’s Christmas by the Royal Guardsmen.  Snoopy, the Red Baron and Christmas what is not to love?
96. The Chanukah Song Part 4 b Adam Sandler. His fourth installment about Chanukah.
97. Snow Miser-Heat Miser by Dick Shawn and George S. Irving. The original Classic from the Year Without Santa Claus Rankin-Bass special.
98.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd. The Original recording of this song.
99. Frosty the Snowman by Jimmy Durante. The classic from the Rankin-Bass special.
100. Run Run Rudolph by Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Grohl & Billy F. Gibbons. A Metal take on Chuck Berry's Classic.
101. If We Make It Through December by Merle Haggard. A Country Classic.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Bit of Reflection

December 12th, 2013, is the second anniversary of me ending the long term relationship with Barbara.  I may not have accomplished as much as I had hoped this year.  I have still done quite a bit.  I have changed the way I react to stress.  This last summer there was a lot of turmoil going on.  Most of it had to do with something that was beyond my control.  Instead of freaking out about it, I learned to be Zen about things.  I have been working with my family and counseling to get back on my feet.  As I am writing this I am unemployed.  I left, there were things at play that made me believe that I may not have been there long anyway.  I struggled with the fact that I was physically not cut out for that job. When I left my boss offered to be a reference.  I did things on my on terms. That has been the theme since I regained the reins of my life 

This last year has cemented the fact that I am making very solid connections in the Nerd/ Geek Community in Portland, Oregon.  There are things about the scene that frustrate me; regardless there are people who call me their friend.  That makes me feel real good. I have a little boy, my nephew Zeke, who lights up every time I enter the room.  I have done a lot of the things I wanted to this year: the final year of Trek in the Park, Wonder NW, Stumptown Comics Fest, Rose City ComicCon, FrightTown, Pirate Night at the Space Room, Monster Kid Radio Crash, Guardian Games Anniversary, Grand Re-Opening, Went to more signing at Things from another World and Bridge City Comics, First Rush Concert, First Podcast Guesting spot with In One Day Radio, sat in on a taping of Funemployment Radio, a few more shows at Sequential Art Gallery + Studio, Trek in the Dark, and Cort and Fatboy is Dead.  I am hoping within a year I will find work and a place in the Portland Metro area. I set a goal in February for Blog articles and completed it with a month to spare.   In a year my blog has almost 1700 hits from it inception, most 1600 of it was this year alone. 

In 2012, I wondered if anything I did created good in the world. I was still struggling with changes in my life. This year I was told repeatedly I mattered and was respected. Members of the Portland Geek/ Nerd community let me know I was one of them and always welcome. New friendships were made that I believe will last. A young man I mentored during the beginning of the darker days with Barbara returned in my life to inform me I had positive influence on him.  On the last day of Counseling, I was told by the person I was getting counseling from that they were proud of my achievements. They even gave me a list of what they were proud of. Recently a Facebook friend, whom I met at a geek event which was impetus for me to take back my life, told me she admired me. This is by no means all the positive feedback I have received this year. It has made me feel so ready to take on the world and my future. 3 years ago, if you told me that this would happen I would have thought you were pulling my leg.

I am by no means saying that I do not need any more work done growth wise.  I am still mending spiritually, mentally, and psychologically.  I am still a work in progress and I have learned so much about myself.  I know I am still not ready for a relationship beyond friendship.  Will I ever be ready?  I honestly do not know.  Does it matter? At this point, it does not.  I need to still find out who I am and who I want to be.  That may sound a bit clich├ęd, but it holds true for me at this moment.  I gave up a lot of myself over 14 years and it will be a time before I have completely healed.  I am healing and it is an on going process.  My friends and family have made this journey easier for me.  Many of these friends were made in the last year and a half.  The funny thing is I am glad things are not going where I thought they would.  The unpredictability of life is great.  I am still learning to let it happen and how to make it happen, but never force it to happen.  I am so glad of where I am, I cannot wait to see what is next. I give thanks to everyone and everything that has blessed me so.  That Is My Not So Humble Opinion.