Chanting (Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin sounding stuff that I don’t understand.)
Hey there, denizens, and Happy New Year! I am joined as ever by CFO Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / cartographer of life Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). Last week’s post took a while to put together, but I luckily got the jump on this one by chipping away at it throughout the week. So, please have a look at my top 25 heavenly things of 2016, while the Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before we begin to map the course of our lives for the coming year.
Friday Slice of Heaven For 2016 - Part 2!***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***
If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 2016 (Part 1), 2015 (Part 1), 2015 (Part 2), 2014 (Part 1), 2014 (Part 2), 2013, 2012, and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below came out before 2016, but 2016 was the year that we read, watched, drank, or ate them, thus their inclusion here. We at Donist World, thank you for reading and hope you enjoy these things as much as we do.
Donist World 25 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)
- 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast) - I listen to a bunch of podcasts covering a cornucopia of topics, but the one that I have been listening to year after year is 11 O’Clock Comics. This comic book podcast, hosted by David A. Price, Jason Wood, and Vince B., is what helped keep me sane while working at the job I could not stand, and it is the podcast I use as encouragement to get up off my rump and go for a minimum three-mile run. These guys leave me wallet-hurt as I scramble to pick up their choice recommendations (many of which show up further down the list) and joining them every week is like sitting down with good friends. Which reminds me I need to vote for the 11 O’Closcars…
- Stranger Things (Television Show) - Dang if we did not have some phenomenal television to watch this year, but even when sifting diamonds from diamonds, Strange Things is the show that blew my mind the most. This show was made for me: set in the ’80s, Dungeons & Dragons, kids rising to the occasion to save a friend, other worlds, corporate evils, supernatural evils, bullies, strange powers, thrills, chills, a kick-ace soundtrack, an ethereal score, a gorgeously haunting title sequence, fantastic acting, and a damn fine story. <whew!> I am counting down the days until it returns. An inexpensive Netflix subscription is worth it just to watch this show, as well as…
- Daredevil, Season 2 (Television Show) - Remember last year how I flipped out about Daredevil, Season 1, and Jessica Jones? Well at the beginning of the year, I flipped out with the second season of Daredevil as well. The introductions of The Punisher (played by Jon Bernthal) and of Elektra (played by Elodie Yung) were well timed, and made the show exciting, brutal, and fun. The fight scene in the stairwell? It needs to be seen to be believed.
- Luke Cage (Television Show) - Okay, dagnabbit, I’m just going to come out and say it…Mike Colter as Luke Cage is just perfect. I’m also going to say that he is one heck of a good looking man. I’m okay saying that, Denizens. Put it this way…if my wife came home and said she was leaving me for another man, I would be mad. If she told me it was Luke Cage that she was leaving me for…I’d just nod my head and give her a high five or somethin’; you just can’t compete with that. Anyhow…this show, although being possibly a couple episodes long, and sadly not nearly enough screen time for Copperhead (played by Mahershala Ali), I loved it all the way through. Sweet Christmas! I can’t wait for Iron Fist in March.
- The Walking Dead, Season Six (Television Show) - Yup, I’m on the Netflix viewing schedule, and I’m okay with that…at least sort of, given the way season 6 leaves off. <ugh> Basically, I hammered through all 16 episodes over three or four days. All I’ll say is that I was recovering from something, on some screwy medication, and tripping balls as I watched it. Probably not the best of ideas, but it made the viewing interesting to say the least. This is a great season, and I am dang tempted to buy the individual season seven episodes as they air. To push past this impulse, I bought…
- The Walking Dead (Graphic Novels) - I finally caught up on every single trade I was missing. I did this over the course of two fantastic Comixology sales, where I bought volumes 19–26 and simply mowed through them. I’m not going to spoil anything, but f you think Negan is bad, wait until you see what comes next. <brrrrrr> My goodness, I am so freaked out. Catch up now! Hopefully, there are some killer deals still going around.
- Westworld (Television Show)- Full disclosure, Denizens: I still have not seen the original Westworld movie. I will fix that at some point, but I don’t think you need to see it to be completely blown away by the rich, complex experience of the HBO original series. Humanity’s grasp of technology has grown so complex that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a human and an android. Westworld is a Wild West reenactment playground for the uber-rich where androids and humans interact in all sorts of manner of the visitors’ choosing. What could possibly go wrong? Anyhow, I did not see the twist coming despite the clues being right there in front of me the entire time. A strong show indeed.
- Game of Thrones, Season Six (Television Show) - Oh me, oh my, what else can be said about this phenomenal series? Not much, not really. If you are a fan of the books and the television show, then you are already nodding your head in agreement and in silent commiseration for the long wait until season seven finally arrives later this year. This show and Stranger Things are my favorites of 2016…easy!
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Television Show) - HBO…they’ve really got it goin’ on. You wanna know something? It’s kind of a sad state of affairs when one of the most honest, relevant, and well-researched sources of what is happening in the world is a comedy show. Seriously. Regardless, John Oliver never fails to crack me up, while simultaneously breaking my heart when exposing the truths of science, the environment, charter schools, non-profit organizations, politics, pay day lenders, and everything else to which our country should be paying close attention. Damn…this show is more important now than ever…
- The Expanse Series (Novels / Audiobooks) - Thus far I have read James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes and listened to the audiobooks for Caliban’s War and Abaddon’s Gate. I read a lot of comic books, and it usually takes my wife, an avid reader, to mention a novel that she thinks I will love to get me to take a break from the ol’ sequential storytelling. Leviathan Wakes grabbed me within the first couple of pages. Now I feel like Holden, Naomi, Alex, Amos, and Miller are all a part of my family and friends. One of the best and most entertaining of sci-fi stories I have read in quite some time.
- The Expanse (Television Show) - Whoa! As much as I love James S. A. Corey’s first three novels in The Expanse series, I have to say that I love the television show every bit as much. Each of the actors perfectly embodies their character and the design — costumes, backgrounds, technology, spaceships — is truly stunning. As I listen to the audiobooks, I now can’t help but imagine the actors as the characters, and that is definitely a good thing. Season two begins the beginning of February, and I will be buying every episode as they release. I cannot wait!
- Saturday Night Live (Television Show) - Okay, I did not stay up and watch these throughout the year. Instead, I saw all the snippets pertaining to the 2016 election (aka…the winter of our country’s despair) and laughed along with the majority of America at Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Trump <sigh> and Kate McKinnon’s Clinton. Tom Hanks as Doug on “Black Jeopardy” is a crackup, a sobering crackup, but a crackup nonetheless. Oh, man, we are so screwed.
- The Magicians (Television Show) - The Magicians is the Syfy channel adaptation of Lev Grossman’s novel of the same name, which is basically a college-age Harry Potter for grown ups. The characters swear, drink, utilize other substances, have sex, and cast forbidden magic, but life at Breakbills is not all fun and games, when a murderous being known only as “The Beast” steps through a portal to cause violence and death to the freshman class. I loved the novel when I read it five or six years ago, and although the show appeared late in 2016, my wife and I watched the first half of the season before the new year, and watched the rest before I wrote this. Can’t wait for it to start up again in the next three weeks! Be warned, though, some harsh and heavy stuff goes down.
- The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu, Volume 1 (Graphic Novel) - Right before Christmas I talked about this one (read the review here), where I gushed about the Bronze Age awesomeness of this kung fu comic. It’s a beast of a book, weighing in at almost 5 pounds, and covering 28 glorious issues of comics. The only negative of this must-own collector’s item is that there are two more volumes in the series, as well as two volumes of a sister series titled The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu waiting to karate chop the hell out of your wallet. Dang, I love this omnibus so much I now have to get the next one, and the next, and the next…
- The Omega Men: The End is Here (Graphic Novel) - Holy guacamole, Denizens! The good thing about coming late to this party is that I was able to sit down and take in the entirety of this rich, complex, beautifully told and illustrated space opera from Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda. The original The Omega Men is another one of those series that I never had enough allowance money left over to pick up, so I can’t say how faithful this 12-issue maxi-series is to the source material. What I can say is that King and Bagenda show the horror of war (both sides), and the evils that those in power will commit in order to stay in power. There’s no black and white, and with the exception of Kyle Rayner (The White Lantern) the good guys might not be all that good. What is good is this masterful comic. This is one I will revisit for many years to come.
- The Vision (Graphic Novel) - If we had another week in 2016, I’m certain you would also be reading about the first volume of The Sheriff of Babylon, but I simply ran out of time. I did, however, read the first volume of The Vision, and I fully agree with the loads of praise this series has received since the first issue. It’s a story of the android superhero from the Avengers and his family…which he created himself. The Vision family attempts to lead a normal life, but that is easier said than done. I’m honestly surprised Marvel allowed this triumph of a book to be made as it is a dark, creepy, and disturbing look at not just the life of an android’s family, but life in general. Volume two is next on my list! You need to read The Vision, The Omega Men, and most likely The Sheriff of Babylon, as well. This is a huge year for Tom King.
- Manifest Destiny (Graphic Novel) - Written by Chris Dingess and illustrated by Matthew Roberts, this series is my favorite horror / monster comic being published. Boom! I said it. I know I have been woefully negligent in mentioning this fun, scary, revisionist history thriller over the year, but I’m mentioning it now. I love love love this series about Lewis and Clark as they, their band of criminals and thieves, a surviving woman, and the ultra-lethal Sacagawea explore the new frontier in search of exotic creatures to catalog, and to exterminate the deadliest of monsters preventing US expansion in the West. I read Volume 3: Chiroptera & Carniformaves earlier this year, and Volume 4: Sasquatch right at the tail end of 2016, and I am psyched to get freaked out all over again by starting from the very beginning. I might just have to switch to floppies for this one, it’s really that good.
- Patience (Graphic Novel) - Written and illustrated by Daniel Clowes, this story contains much of the emotional heft and realism that can be found in Ghost World, only with the introduction of sci-fi and time travel elements. My wife blew through the book and told me I was going to love it; she was so very right. I parked on the couch and didn’t get up until I read this vibrant book cover to cover, and I’ve been thinking about it for days since. It really gets you thinking about the lengths you would go to for someone you love. I also did not expect the ending. Patience isn’t just for indie comics fans, but rather it’s for fans of solid storytelling.
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Novel) - Written by J. D. Vance, this one hit a little bit too close to home, but thankfully my mom is nothing like Vance’s. For those of you still wondering how something as awful as Donald Trump can come to pass, Hillbilly Elegy offers such thoughtful and brutally honest insight into why a large portion of white, working class America would be willing to vote against their own best interests. Even if you don’t have relatives in Kentucky, or you didn’t grow up in Ohio, Vance will immerse you in his life and you won’t be able to turn away.
- Tycho “Epoch” (Music) - I totally love Tycho’s albums “Awake” and “Dive” and “Epoch” kind of just appeared one day, and I have been listening to it nonstop. Tycho falls into the vague electronica and alternative genres, but regardless of how you choose to classify them, all I know is that the uplifting, instrumental soundscapes carry me through much of my writing days.
- Hell or High Water (Movie) - I feel like I need a cigarette, and I don’t smoke. Or a fifth of bourbon, or a fine glass of wine. Anything, really, because watching this movie was an experience, and a dang fine one, at that. The funny thing is that this one completely flew in under my radar. I’d never heard of Hell or High Water until two weeks ago when it started popping up all over the place, including my hearing about it from my wife when she watched it while visiting her father. She had no problem rewatching the movie a day later. Starring Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, and Ben Foster, this modern Western is not just one of the best films of the year, but possibly of the past few years. I’m not going to spoil this one, but it is a must-see movie, and one you must-see in the near future. Dang…this pressed ALL the right Donist buttons.
- Captain America: Civil War (Movie) - I know, I know, this would have been my favorite movie of 2016 had I not seen Hell or High Water. Sorry, comic book lovers, I’m just as surprised as you are. But that does not mean I did not thoroughly love this unofficial The Avengers movie with a surprise appearance by a certain web-head — who rocked, btw. Great stunts, great story, and dare I say great acting, but I’ve loved this movie each of the three times I’ve seen it thus far, and I’m sure I will enjoy it again on the fourth. I’m team cap, but I see where Tony’s coming from, I’m just sayin’.
- Deadpool (Movie) - I had no intention of seeing this. I honestly thought it was going to be kind of dumb, but an old boss of mine convinced me to join her for a beer and check it out, and I am so glad I did. I was laughing within the first few seconds of the movie — actually, I was almost crying I was laughing so hard — and I became a Deadpool fan by the time the opening credits finished. Ryan Reynolds is a crackup, Morena Baccarin (of Firefly fame) is…well, y’know, kinda cool. It’s just a fun as hell movie, that I have now seen twice, and I am currently trying to figure out how to trick my wife into watching it with me as I think she’ll like it, too. Now…how do I even begin to tread the Deadpool comic book waters?
- Arrival (Movie) - All I’m going to tell you is alien visitors come to Earth and it’s up to Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner to establish a means of communication with the mysterious visitors before a fearful humanity does something rash. I in no way saw the twist that was coming, and was riveted from beginning to end. It’s so nice to have a thoughtful, serious, slow-paced science fiction film for a change.
- Beer - Yes, Denizens, I’m a beer geek, and I have the now slightly tighter clothing to prove it. <ugh> Anyhow, here’s some of my favorites of the year.
- Pump[KY]n (Pumpkin porter from Avery Brewing Co.) - It’s a 15%ABV, $13.99 price tag, 12 oz. bottle, and one of my all-time-favorite, special occasion beers. Seek out it’s sister beer, Rumpkin, while you’re at it. Treat yo self.
- Xocoveza (Imperial stout from Stone Brewing) - The perfect winter beer. Think a Mexican hot chocolate mixed with a stout. Ahhhhhh…so nice. So very, very nice.
- Breakfast Stout (Imperial stout from Founders Brewing Co) - Dang, I’m so glad we are getting these in Southern California. I drink ’em out of a Founders Breakfast Stout mug and there are currently three left sitting in my refrigerator…calling me.
- Luponic Distortion (IPA from Firestone Walker Brewing Company) - Okay, this one changes up the hop bill every quarter, and 005 should be coming out any time now. All four releases thus far have been great, and are a staple here at Donist World.
- Dragon’s Milk (Imperial stout from New Holland Brewing Company) - Booze…you can taste — and feel, to be honest — the booze, and that is a good thing. I made it a ritual to have one of these every time I watched a new episode of Game of Thrones. I also have one of these calling me.
- Grunion (Pale ale by Ballast Point) - I like a lot of pale ales, but this one is king of them all. One of the more expensive pale ale six-packs out there, and for a very good reason.
- Grapefruit Sculpin (IPA from Ballast Point) - Regular Sculpin is one of the best IPAs in town, but you add grapefruit to an already established champion and you get this treasure. The habañero version is interesting, and the pineapple is good, too.
- Unfiltered Enjoy By xx-xx-16 (Double IPA from Stone Brewing) - Meant to be enjoyed before the date on the bottle, it’s the fresher the better for this awesome double IPA. Sometimes in six-packs, sometimes in individual 22oz bottles, always fantastic. The regular and tangerine versions are heavenly, too.