Archive for January, 2017

The Best Movies I saw in 2016

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 25, 2017 by Paxton

Movie Report

MORE YEAR END ROUND UP ARTICLES!!

Today, I’m not only judging movies that I watched that opened last year, but ALL movies I watched for the first time in 2016.

I’ll start off with a list of my favorite movies that were released in 2016 and I’ll finish up with movies that were released in other years but I only saw for the first time last year.  I may even throw in some honorable mentions as I love to do.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite movies I saw in 2016.  In no particular order.


Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – This is probably not a surprise.  It was awesome and everything I wanted it to be.  Chris Evans’ Captain America has become my favorite Marvel hero, even over Downey’s Iron Man.  I love all three Cap movies but only love one and a half Iron Man movies.  These just keep getting better.  And the inclusion of all these newer heroes; Ant-Man, Falcon, Winter Soldier, the new Spider-Man.  All, just perfect.  I now want a Falcon-Winter Soldier buddy movie.  Make THAT happen, Marvel.


Deadpool – Exactly what this movie should have been.  I honestly didn’t think Fox could pull it off.  I knew they nailed the lead with Ryan Reynolds, but I honestly didn’t think they’d stick to their guns for the bloody, irreverent tone this movie needed.  I was wrong.  Fun, vulgar and entertaining.


Somm: Into the Bottle – This is a sequel to a documentary that I talked about back in 2014.  Last time they were following several Master Sommelier hopefuls as they prepared to take the Master test.  This time, it’s more of an in-depth look at old world wineries and how they craft wine differently.  It’s fascinating stuff.  You do see the original four guys from the first documentary, but not in an update to how they are doing four years later.  The guys are now a part of the panel of talking wine heads.


Marvel’s Doctor Strange – In a way, this somewhat took me by surprise.  I’m a fan of Doctor Strange.  I read him a little in the late 80s-early 90s and I’ve revisited his Steve Ditko origins.  I love sorcerers, so I always kept my eye on him.  But I was cautiously optimistic that Marvel could pull this off without watering the character down.  And they did it.  Straight up magic and everything.  And lots of humor.  I didn’t expect the humor.  This was a pretty great movie and I look forward to him showing up more often in the Marvel Movie Universe.  One caveat, the wonderful Rachel McAdams is mostly wasted. Hopefully they find more to do with her in future movies.


The Magnificent Seven – You can hear my full thoughts of this movie on the appropriate episode of the Hellbent for Letterbox podcast, but in short, I loved this movie. Lots of good characters, lots of good action. Definitely a fun ride for western fans. And even those maybe not traditionally a western fan.

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Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2016

Posted in Batman, books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2017 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

Here I go, writing another one of these year end round up articles that I’m shocked to be writing every year. 2017. CRAZY. What a ride 2016 was. Hopefully 2017 will give us a bit of a break.

This past year was an interesting year for my book/comics list.  After so many years of logging my books and comics reading via Google Spreadsheet, I actually converted my logs over to an online data tool called Airtable. It’s similar to Access in that it is a relational database but the user entry interface is very simple to create and similar to Excel. Plus being able to link specific information between tables really helps in cross referencing and spelling.  You have no idea how many times I misspelled author names throughout my logs.

Here’s what my book log looks like now on Airtable.  I’ve converted all my logs back to when I first started in 2007.

airtable_books1

The blue colored fields in the screenshot are actually linked to another table.  I was able to also create the Rating field on the right with different color coded ratings to make it easy at a glance to see what is going to make my year end list and what isn’t.  Plus, Airtable makes all of this data entry even easier with a nice app for my iPhone or iPad that makes it easy to log entries on the go.  Google Sheets had one as well but Airtable’s works better.

So that’s all the behind the scenes stuff.  I had a better year for novels.  I was able to pick 5 this year.  Again, comics were booming and I had a tough time paring down to 5.  But I did it.

So, without further ado, here’s the list!

Books


The Old Man and the Sea (1952) – Ernest Hemingway – I don’t read classics as often as I used to.  I really need to remedy that.  There are two reasons why I read this.  #1, it was featured in the movie The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington as a book he’s reading. #2, Steph checked it out from the library with a bunch of other books and I, on a whim, picked it up to read.  It’s actually really good.  I quite enjoyed it.  I’m probably not going to pick up any other Hemingway, but I’ll definitely try to read more classic lit this coming year.  I’ve been wanting to re-read Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, so maybe I can get that done.


Steve Jobs (2011) – Walter Isaacson – I’ve now read two of Isaacson’s famous biographies and let me say that I’m hooked. Back in 2014 I read his biography of Benjamin Franklin and it nearly made my year end best of list.  This one about Apple founder Steve Jobs actually cracks the list. It’s not only a great portrait of a complicated man, but it’s also a great look at the beginnings of our technological age we live in now.  I would love for Isaacson to tackle Bill Gates in a full book, but I’m not sure that’ll happen.  Isaacson did write a book called The Innovators that really digs into the people who created the computer and the Internet; going as far back as Alan Turing and jumping forward to people like Larry Page and Bill Gates.  That will probably be next on my Isaacson reading list and the closest I’ll get to a full Gates biography by him.


Star Wars: Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel (2016) – James Luceno – The “New Canon” of Star Wars books since Disney has taken over has been very…hit or miss.  Since those books started in Fall 2014, only one has made my year end list.  And honestly, I think that one novel (Star Wars: Tarkin), also written by James Luceno, would work perfectly as a side-quel to this book.  This is the written prequel to the movie Rogue One and it’s pretty great.  It digs deep into the relationship between Galen Erso and Director Krennic.  It also explores a bit more the rivalry between Krennic and Tarkin all while adding in backstory to how the Death Star was built and how it works and what they use to power the planet killing laser.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Magic Kingdom for Sale–Sold! (Landover series Book 1) (1986) – Terry Brooks – I talked about this book earlier in my High Fantasy Month article back in March.  It’s a different setup for a fantasy series and I really enjoyed it.  I had bought the collection of the first three books in the series, but I’ve not delved into the second book yet.  However, it’s on the plan for this year.

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Predicting Guardians of the Galaxy’s Awesome Mix Vol 2

Posted in movies, music on January 10, 2017 by Paxton

gotg_awesome_mix2

This week on Nerd Lunch we did our annual Nerdstradamus episode. We talked a lot of predictions, most of which will be crushed underfoot and proven wrong at the end of this year when we do Nerdstradamus again. Along with the predictions, instead of doing the over-under game we’ve done previously with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Trek Beyond, we decided to try something different. We all tried to predict three songs we thought would show up on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 soundtrack.

The first “Awesome Mix” had such a great selection of songs we wanted to try our hand at creating the next one.  To date, we had three possible songs that could show up on the soundtrack.  Fox on the Run by Sweet, Come a Little Bit Closer by Jay & the Americans and The Chain by Fleetwood Mac all showed up on trailers and teasers.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll show up on the soundtrack or in the movie, but that’s at least a start and gives us an idea of where James Gunn is looking.

So using the three songs above and the 12 songs that showed up on the original soundtrack, I picked 12 songs that I think would make a great Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 soundtrack.  If you want to see my picks in a full YouTube playlist, check that out here.  CT has also selected 12 songs he thinks will be on the soundtrack.  You can check out his Awesome Mix Vol 2 right here.

Without further ado, here’s my song list.  The first three picks in this list are the songs I selected on the show.


Little River Band – Help is on the Way – I really wanted Little River Band on this album. Cool Change is a great song as is Lonesome Loser, but I think this track works the best for the movie.


The Guess Who – No Sugar Tonight – The Guess Who are pretty great and they kind of remind me of Sweet. This is such a great song.


The Hollies – Long Cool Woman – A good, bluesy rock song. As you can tell, this is sort of the vibe I was going for. Fuzzy, 70s type rock songs that I could close my eyes and imagine scenes from the upcoming movie.

Here are the 9 other songs on my own personal Awesome Mix Vol 2:


Steppenwolf – Magic Carpet Ride – I love this song. Sort of a great meandering rock and roll ride of a song. So good.


Stevie Wonder – Uptight Everything is Alright – Stevie is awesome and this is one of my favorite songs of his. I also wanted to get some 60s flavor in here similar to the Jackson 5 who showed up on the first soundtrack.

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