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

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.


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.

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