Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rick’s Best Things from 2015

iZombie

iZombie is a Television program that debuted in March of 2015.  It is loosely based on a comic book series from Vertigo Comics by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred. It is the story of a Doctor becoming a zombie. In order for her to function she needs brains. This leads her to become a coroner to have access to these brains. One side effect of brain consumption is she is able to see the memories of the deceased as visions. She uses these to solve crimes that the decedents witnessed. One drawback is while the brains are in her system she exhibits personality traits of the decedents. This is almost a crime procedural version of the original concept. However, it works. They are doing a similar treatment to the Sandman version of Lucifer which I have a bad feeling will not work. The original source material was definitely not the crime procedural this show is, the main character does not have the same name either. This show is a fresh spin on zombies and the crime procedural. As of December 2015, the first season is available on Netflix.


Mad Max: Fury Road

2015 has seen several films returning to old film franchises: Terminator, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and James Bond. Surprisingly Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the most successful in terms of character development and story. Unlike the other film franchises, all of the entries in this series were directed by the same director, George Miller. I loved this film. Even in the quieter parts of it, it did not feel like it was dragging. Miller kept the momentum and pace at of good level. He also knows these characters and this world. With all the controversy about decent female leads in Action films, this proves it is very possible. Even though Mad Max is the title character, it is Furiosa’s tale. It also melded practical effects with CGI in a seamless and spectacular manner.


Muse Drones

Muse is one of my favorite bands. In 2015, they released the album Drones. I have listened to it multiple times. I loved it. Psycho and Dead Inside were the first two songs I became acquainted with. With those, Mercy, the Globalist, and Aftermath are among my favorites on this album. My favorite Muse albums are still Black Holes & Revelations, and Resistance, however this is still a decent album, and my favorite of the year.


Big-Ass Sandwiches Brick and Mortar Location

In 2015, Big-Ass Sandwiches in Portland Oregon made the transition from food cart to brick and mortar restaurant. Their signature sandwich is a sandwich with the French fries in the sandwich. By going to brick and mortar, they were able to expand they menu. Now they offer Regular-Ass Sandwiches (sandwiches with the fries on the side) and Cold-Ass Sandwiches (sandwiches using all refrigerated or room temperature ingredients).  They offer two non-sandwich items, Brian’s Meaty Balls (their meat balls with pasta) and Homemade Mac and Cheese. I have been to the location a few times since its opening in June. The food is still amazing. They have vinegar based coleslaw that inspired me to do the same. I have always suggested people go with the weekly special that has not changed. With the menu expansion the special are no longer limited to sandwiches. I loved this place back in the food cart days and still love it in the brick and mortar.


Bitch Planet

Technically the first issue came out in 2014. It came out in December, I rarely think something is the best just based on the first issue. I did not read it till after January 1st, 2015. For me, it is new for the year. A tale set in the future where all the progress in equal rights for women has been reversed to worse than it was before. Women who refuse to follow society’s demands of inequality are sent to prison for being non-compliant. It is written in the vein of the women in prison films and shows from the 1970’s. Kelly Sue DeConnick has written an angry treatise about the anti-women attitude in geek/nerd culture and in our society at large. She uses a dystopian future similar to the one seen in A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It is a wonderful look at where we could go if we are not careful.


Raven and the Writing Desk

I have been a fan of Chris Lester’s Metamor City Podcast. It was full cast audio dramas of his work all set in his Metamor City setting. That went on indefinite hiatus in 2011. He returned with a new Podcast Raven and the Writing Desk. This time it is his narrations of his stories including a few in non-Metamor City settings. Metamor City is what if a fantasy setting evolved into a world similar to ours. That is what you have with Metamor City. Chris Lester’s podcast also includes updates on his writing progress, public appearances, interviews with those in the Podcast fiction and self publishing world, and so on. I am glad he is back and he is even publishing his works again in E-Book format. It is well worth the time.


Best-Ever Cookbook by Bay Books (2007)

This book was published in 2007 and I have owned it for over 5 years. I never cooked from it till 2015, hence why it is here. So far there is not a single dud in the recipes.  Every dish I make I put in my culinary repertoire. These are also simplified version of classic recipes found throughout the world.  I have found more traditional versions of the dishes and I am more the likely to try those, now that I have found the versions in this cookbook. The top two I have enjoyed are the Sweet Pork and the Madras Beef.  I also made Lemongrass Beef and the Asparagus & Mushroom Salad. Will I make all 500 in this cookbook? Probably not.


In Ashes Born by Nathan Lowell

I have not hidden my love of Nathan Lowell’s writing. I was introduced to his work through Podiobooks, in which the author read his own work. The first series was Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series. The series followed Ishmael Wang (pronounced with the long A sound, like Wong) a young man who found himself without family or a planet to live on. He became a merchant spacer on a merchant space freighter. The series followed Ishmael from mess attendant to the Owner of his own space ship and hauling company. This book is the first in the Seeker’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. It follows Ishmael on his new journey. I loved it. Characters we had not seen since the earliest books of the first series return. The first series is leaving Podiobooks, find it and download it if you can. All of the books are available on Amazon in their Kindle store.


Heroes: Reborn

I am and have been a big fan of the Television program Heroes. I know that the later seasons were not as strong as the earlier ones, and they had some serious dropped plot threads. I still enjoyed the show, heck I still own it. When I heard they were going to air a sequel min-series, I was seriously intrigued. Personally I have not been disappointed by the new series. Certain characters have not returned, but the new story is engaging and a fun ride. HRG (Horned Rimmed Glasses) is back and so are many of the favorites. This new series had done some interesting things with the concepts of time travel and constructs. If you enjoyed the original, give the new one a try.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens


I liked the new Star Trek Movies, but they did not feel like Star Trek to me. This film felt like the original Star Wars trilogy. I loved it, but I do think the Director, did his usual shtick. That is in a derivate work he harkened back too much to the source material. It was wonder to see those touches, but it did seem like blatant fan service to me. Despite this, I still think it is a wonderful movie. It was dissimilar to Star Wars: The New Hope enough to make it enjoyable. There were twists and turns, expected laughs and thrills as well as the unexpected. It was great and definitely and infinitely superior to the prequels, which in and of itself is satisfying. 

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