Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rick’s Best Things from 2014


These are things I discovered in 2014.  They may have been created before, I found them in 2014.  So, they were all new to me. There were quite a few Television shows that were great this year, I trimmed it down to two.  The new music was mostly new songs not new artists.  However an old favorite came back in full force.  I was only going to do ten, but why limit myself?  These are in no particular order.


Penny Dreadful

I enjoy good Victorian era or Steampunk fiction.  The League of Extraordinary Gentleman first two graphic novels were great.  The film was somewhat of a let down.  Penny Dreadful on Showtime is what a cinematic version of the League should have been.  It is very Gothic, eerie and supernatural.  Multiple monsters and literary figures are present.  It has a wonderful cast.  It is dark and moody, but serious fun to watch.  It is also a very mature audience type of show.  2014 saw the first season and it was renewed for 10 more episodes.  The last season was only 8.  The show is following the British and premium cable television models with a shorter season.


Rat Queens

Rat Queens is a wonderfully down and dirty fantasy comic.  The Rat Queens are an all female adventuring group in a fantasy world influenced by fantasy table top role-playing games. The series is seriously bat guano crazy.  It has an Elven necromancer, a human cleric of a Cthuloid like elder god, a Dwarven fighter, and a Smidgen (part Halfling part Gnome) thief. It is very mature audience material with violence, language, sexual content and intoxicant/substance use.  It reminds me of every rowdy gaming group I have played with.


Guardians of the Galaxy & Big Hero 6

There were three major Marvel Films in 2014, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Big Hero Six.  There were two others based on Marvel properties, but Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past were produced by other studios through licensing agreements.  Captain America: Winter Soldier was great, however Marvel proved that did not need a top tier property to kick posterior with both these movies.  People forget the first big Marvel cinematic property was Blade, a C-List supporting character.  Before Guardians came out people were predicting it may flop.  It did the opposite. It brought back a crazy by the seat of your pants style space opera.  It used a 70’s hit song playlist as its soundtrack.  All of this could have crashed and burned.  Instead we ended up with a funny, exciting action adventure Sci-Fi romp.  If you have not seen it, please remedy that.  Then you have Big Hero 6.  It is, like its predecessor Pixar’s The Incredibles, a super hero tale and one about family at the same time.   It has the right mix of action, humor and emotion.  Unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6 was produced by Disney Studios proper.  They still took an obscure Marvel property and did an amazing job.  These two are a perfect Double Feature.  One would start with Big Hero 6 and finish with Guardians of the Galaxy.


Hollywood Theatre

I have lived permanently in the Greater Portland area for close to thirty years.  In that time I never saw a film at the Historic Hollywood Theatre in Portland.  This year I resolved that, I saw Santo versus the Martians, To Be Takei, Galaxy Quest, and Monster Squad.  The first film I saw was a classic Luchador film, in fact a Santo film.  That is another Pop Culture genre I finally experienced.   The third film, Galaxy Quest, was seen as part of a Portland Geek Council series.   Finally Monster Squad sponsored by PSU with the director.  It is a wonderful old theatre that just finished its renovations last year.  I enjoyed the venue a lot.


Comic Book Central
http://comicbookcentral.net/

This Podcast is full of interviews with people involved with Film and Television adaptations of Comic Book Properties.  The host, Joe Stuber is knowledgeable and does his homework before each interview.  He digs deep and always has fun doing his interviews.  If you are fan of the various adaptations both old and new, Joe has the interviews for you.


Corelle Global Stripes and Oneida Lincoln

I know these are two items, but I will count them as one.  These are my dishes and flatware.  I left my 90% of kitchen stuff when I left the old life.  This year I was gifted these.  The folks who gifted them had me chose my pattern.  I have come to the realization that I have a Diesel Punk style.  That is a retro-futuristic style based on the 1930’s to 1950’s.  Films like Brazil and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow are example of this aesthetic.  It is nice to have my own things.  These both have an Art Deco feel to them.     


Charles de Lint- Wildlings Series (Under My Skin, Over My Head, and Out of This World)

The first two books were released before this year.  I read them this year.  I own the third, but have not read it yet.  The idea is kids in a Southern California suburb are discovering they are shapeshifters, they call themselves Wildlings.  In the lore of the novels they are descended from the cousins or First People, the animal people of various Native American legends.  I enjoy the story and some humor.  One aspect is one Wildling character is fairly large in human form, but has a very small animal form.   This is used in humorous aspect and reminds me of what Yoda use to say, "Size matters not."


Weird Al Yankovic- Mandatory Fun

Weird Al came back in 2014 for his final album.  He said from now on he would only release single or smaller collections.  The Internet and specifically YouTube have kind of stolen his shtick.  This was his first Number One album.  The previous album I was not that familiar with the songs he was parodying.  This time around I knew more, thanks to my renewed observance to pop culture.  His originals are deliciously wicked and fun.  The Weird one is not so much back, he never left, but he definitely is at the top of his game.  


The Flash

DC Comics in the fall of 2014 launched three of their four shows for the season.  The fourth is scheduled to debut in early 2015.  I found Gotham good, but I am not a Batman fan so it really did not blow my socks off.  I love Constantine and I did not choose it for here, because it covered some of the same kind of ground as Penny Dreadful in Dark Fantasy/ Horror.  The 2014 version of the Flash was everything you want from a Superhero show form a character that debuted in the Silver Age.  The producers found the right balance between realistic and bright, shiny, hopeful four colored world.  There are Easter eggs galore for both fans of the Flash and DC Comics fans.  Even fans of the Justice League animated shows and direct-to-DVD films would get some of the Easter eggs.  They even got the actor who played the Flash in the 1990 TV show on board as Barry Allen’s father. Wonderful cast, great scripts, this show is hitting on all cylinders.


Chef

Yes, I am a bit of a foodie.  Hell, I was that before that term became so trendy.  That means I love good food, both eating and making it.  This Film hit the sweet spot on my love of food.  It is the story of a guy who lost his way in his vocation, cooking, and with his family.  The Movie is about reconnecting to things important in one’s life, one’s passion and one’s family.  This movie also resonated with me as I am also reconnecting to many of my passions and redefining myself.  John Favreau hit this one out of the park.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Reflective Material

December 12th is the Anniversary of my present path; I left a lot of heartache and sorrow three years ago.  This year has been a struggle.  I have been unemployed, and struggling with finding a job.  When I stated this journey I went from two jobs down to one, now I have none.  I have been dealing with something I did not know was a major concern, my health.  In gaining as much weight as I have, I have found out I have high blood pressure and low endurance.  Not to worry, I am being monitored by health care professionals.

One thing I have discovered is who my true friends are.  I discovered a Facebook group started by my favorite author.  It has been an outlet for discussions I do not know I needed. It also introduced me to dear online friends.   I have two friendships that have shockingly been wonderful and desperately needed.  Eric B and Mary thank you for being there and being my friends.  I discovered that many of the friendships I thought I wanted were not what I needed.  The ones I got surpassed any expectations.

As to my goals, due to lack of a job and therefore money there were many things I was unable to do.  That was mostly the larger events.  The things I did get to do were more appreciated by me.  I did a few Monster Kid Radio Crashes.  I went to two Funemployment Radio Network Events.  I saw my friend Wilton perform with his bands at least once.  I find myself parting with more of my things; I am even considering parting with some of my Action Figures.  The Geek Community things are right now not at the forefront of my thinking.  I enjoy being there with my friends, but I have trouble with large noisy situations. 

Funny enough, I had only planned to write 12 blog articles.  The rest of the year was supposed to be about fiction writing.  With this piece I have 32 pieces under my belt, including a poem from my University days.  As of this writing the Recovering Ubergeek Blog has 4,431 hits.  I repackaged some of my work from my Shadowrun Shamanism Website days.  That started in April and ended in September of 2014.  In it short run it had, as of this writing, 1,268 hits.  My plans for the Recovering Ubergeek blog in 2015 are uncertain.  I still have at least 3 more articles in the pipeline.

I did get to fiction; I finally finished my first piece of fiction in 16 years.  I have many pieces I started, but never finished.  This was a piece I wrote for a friend in their setting.  It is a very nice and welcome beginning.  Years ago I said I would never play in someone else’s sandbox.  This case was someone I knew, not some impersonal, uncaring corporation.  It fit best in their setting and was an idea I have been play with for 16 years as well.

I have done two things I am proud of, begun an exercise regimen (walking a mile every other day) and being more regular with hygiene.  In the old, life I gave up, that included taking care of myself.  I have learned to love who I am and where I am going.  I still struggle with caring what others think, specifically those not in my direct circles.  I am caring less, but for me it takes constant work.  I am discovering what kind of people I want to surround myself with.  With what I have been through, I am quite a picky person on that particular subject.

Things I wish to accomplish in 2015 are going to Rose City Comicon and Ory Con, writing more fiction, getting things figured out for a possible return to college (I have 4 years and no degree),  finding work, moving to the immediate Portland area instead of the outskirts (where I am now), and maybe drawing again.  Things that I am toying with are the possibilities of beginning my own podcast, working as a civil rights activist, and culinary school.  Those possibilities are contingent on other things.  For a podcast I need a newer computer and sound equipment. Culinary school is only going to happen once I finish my degree.  The civil rights work, I am not sure with where or how to begin. 


I needed this year to rethink things.  I needed to see that what I needed and what I wanted or expected were not the same things.  2013 was about me getting out into the bigger world.  2014 was about me learning what was truly important and what I needed.  I may find out in 2015 things about myself and where I am headed that may amaze me.  That is more than likely since it happened in the preceding two years.