Saturday, December 30, 2017

Donist World 2017 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!

(Sung to the tune of Enigma’s “Sadeness”)

Chanting (Ummm…yeah, uh…a bunch of Latin-sounding stuff that I don’t understand.)

Donist World 2017 Year-End Roundup - Part 2!

Hey there, denizens, and a soon to be 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/New Year kibble nibbler Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We hope you enjoy the top 20 heavenly things of 2017 while the Reverse Obie, Tulip, and I take our past-due “long winter’s nap” before we map out the course of our lives for the coming year.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 2017 (Part 1)2016 (Part 1), 2016 (Part 2)2015 (Part 1)2015 (Part 2)2014 (Part 1)2014 (Part 2)20132012, and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. Now, keep in mind that some of the items listed below might have come out before 2017, but 2017 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 our selections as much as we do.

Donist World 20 Heavenly Things (In No Particular Order)

  1. 11 O’Clock Comics (Podcast) - I listen to a fair amount of podcasts while at work: 11 O’Clock Comics is not one of them. Instead, I listen to my favorite podcast only while driving to and from work or when I go for a run. I think of it as a reward for doing something I normally wouldn’t want to do. It is during this time that I get to listen to David, Jason, and Vince talk about our favorite subject: comics. They recently hit their 500th episode this year and the special guest episode with Ed Piskor (X-Men: Grand Design and Hip-Hop Family Tree) is one of the best interviews I’ve heard all year. They’ve also had a successful Patreon campaign to which I will be upping my pledge in the new year. If you love comics as much as I love comics, then you can’t miss this podcast.
  2. Stranger Things 2 (Television Show - Netflix) - If you read last year’s installment, you know I was over the moon for the first season of Stranger Things. It touched on practically everything I love about the ’80s: Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, design and film aesthetics, an amazing soundtrack and score, monsters, friendships, superpowers, and secret government experiments go awry. So, naturally, I was quite worried that the sophomore effort for what is one of my top-five-favorite television shows would be lacking. Not the case. Stranger Things 2 is everything I could have hoped for in the second season and can be enjoyed whether you lived through the ’80s or are just now gaining an appreciation for the time period many decades later.
  3. Blade Runner 2049 (Movie) - When I heard Blade Runner was getting a sequel, I was again quite skeptical on how it would fare when most sci-fi films today go for style over substance; Blade Runner 2049 has both. Adhering to an ’80s style of storytelling very much in line with the first film, while at the same time fully exploiting the advances in special effects technology three decades can provide, this enthralling piece of cinema is a success of story, sound, and vision that I cannot wait to rewatch upon the Blu-ray’s release.
  4. Game of Thrones, Season Seven (Television Show - HBO) - Do I really need to go into how amazing this show is? Yeah, another one of my top-five favorite television shows, this shorter season also managed to be my favorite in the series as many of the characters we both love and love to hate began to come together and realize the threat of the White Walkers. For every episode of this beautiful/terrifying/enchanting/nerve-wracking series, I made sure our schedule was clear of any obligations and that I had a bottle of New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk to help weather the storm of this triumphant fantasy series. I have no idea when the final season will air, but I promise I will be there, beer in hand, to help carry me through to this epic television show’s end.
  5. My Favorite Murder (Podcast) - My friends at work kept telling me about this My Favorite Murder podcast thing they love, so I checked one out. Then I went back to the beginning and steadily made my way through each episode until I caught up. I am now a “Murderino.” Karen and Georgia—with production and anything and everything technical by Steven—talk about murders, both small town and famous, in a lighthearted manner with just enough details to keep your morbid interest from beginning to end. I will be writing to them with my own hometown murder in 2018 and I fully intend to “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered.” Their fantastic podcast led me to…
  6. The Last Podcast on the Left (Podcast) - I first learned of The Last Podcast on the Left after listening to a bunch of My Favorite Murder episodes, so I gave them a shot. They are now one of my favorite podcasts…period. They cover all manner of subject matter but primarily focus on serial killers, government conspiracies, ghosts, UFOs, cults, cryptids, and the occasional Creepy Pasta reading. Impeccably researched and hilariously presented by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski, The Last Podcast on the Left has brought me to tears of laughter on MANY occasions while at work, and I have frequently had to pause an episode to take a walk and regain my composure. I hammered through every episode available (episode 300 just came out), I’ve relistened to many of them, and I even got Amy hooked on the boys as well. I will be signing up for their hugely successful Patreon in early 2018.
  7. Iron Marines (iOS Game) - I adore Ironhide Game Studio’s tower defense series: Kingdom Rush, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, and Kingdom Rush: Origins. So, when they announced forever ago that they would be making a sci-fi installment among their otherwise fantasy roster, I was 100% on board. Even though the game only came out a few months ago, I’ve received every available achievement, maxed out every character I own (I still need to buy a couple other characters), and loved every second of hostile alien squishing and evil robot smashing. The next expansion cannot come soon enough.
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (Movie) - Man, this is a fun movie. Any fears I had of the sequel not measuring up to the original were quickly allayed within the first few minutes of the opening credits scene. Checking back in with my favorite family of cosmic misfits was a blast from beginning to end that had me laughing, crying, and crying because of laughing as the GotG universe expanded and introduced us to some cool new characters to boot. Once I buy the Blu-ray, I see a double-header viewing night of the first and second movie in my near future. One of my top-five-favorite sci-fi film franchises of all time.
  9. My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Book/Graphic Novel) - My wife gave me this book for X-Mas and I have to say it is now one of my most prized possessions; I’m also only about 30% through the book as of this writing. Everythinged by Emil Ferris and published by Fantagraphics, this absolute treasure is part graphic novel, part fictional memoir, an homage to pulp and monster magazines, a murder mystery, an exploration of art, and a family drama all rolled into one. To make this work of art even more impressive is the fact Ferris illustrated the vast majority of the book using Bic ballpoint pens (red, black, blue, and green) on lined, three-hole punched paper. She primarily uses a system of intricate cross-hatching to depict shadows and the illusion of a broader color palette than what she actually used, and her style shifts from realism to surrealism to cartoonish to horrific as required by the young werewolf girl, Karen Reyes. Please please please please please check out the cover and see that it was drawn with only a couple of ballpoint pens, take a quick look inside, and buy this thing of beauty that everyone simply must own. I can’t wait to continue reading, and I can’t wait for volume two to arrive in August 2018. I must implore you, however, do not buy the digital version! This one is meant to be held in your hands as you turn each glorious page.
  10. Legion (Television Show - FX) - I can’t believe a cable network actually allowed this highly experimental, thoroughly engaging show about a mutant from the X-Men universe to actually grace our television sets. Clocking in at a short eight episodes, Legion follows the possibly crazy, possibly abused, possibly an addict, possibly possessed, possibly the most powerful being in all existence David Haller as he makes his way about a mental institution and falls in love with a beautiful young woman who refuses to be touched. I love everything about this engrossing, trippy, unnerving show whether it is the great cast, the rich soundtrack, the moody score, and especially the bizarre cinematic effects you won’t find anywhere else. Season two can’t come soon enough.
  11. Rick and Morty (Television Show - Adult Swim) - My younger coworkers had been telling me for quite some time that I needed to watch Rick and Morty, that I would love it. So I gave the first episode of the first season a shot and had watched all three seasons within the span of two weeks. I’m a convert. I now totally understand why everyone is goo-goo for gaga over this very intelligent, wholly inappropriate cartoon show. I now worship at the altar of Pickle Rick and look forward to rewatching this show beginning to end until season four is graciously unleashed upon us all.
  12. Marvel Puzzle Quest (iOS Game) - I hate you, Marvel Puzzle Quest. I’ve given you much too much of my time, and I’m ready to call it…wait a minute…I have a shot at a yellow-powered Captain America (Peggy Carter) card!!! Crap! If I get that, it means I only need one more power card—whether that’s red, blue, or yellow—from making this my first fully promotable four-star character!!! Dang, I simply cannot quit you! Marvel Puzzle Quest is a puzzle game involving heroes, villains, battling three on three, getting purple crystals, coins, and stars so you can expand your roster of Marvel characters. Stupid addictive.
  13. Runaways (Television Show - Hulu) - I really liked the Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona comic book series from back in the day, and this new Marvel television series is REALLY doing the comic justice. I love all the actors and their characters, the settings are perfect, the effects are cool, and Runaways is something I look forward to watching with Amy every week. I totally intend to reread the comics once this first season wraps. Enjoyable by all.
  14. The Girl with All the Gifts (Movie) - One weekend when Amy was out of town, I thought, Why not find a cool horror movie to watch. I saw the disturbing poster for The Girl with All the Gifts on Amazon Prime and thought this zombie flick might be the way to go. I got SO much more than a mere zombie movie. The character of Melanie is completely OWNED by Sennia Nanua in this post-apocalyptic masterpiece that gave far more than I could ever hope for. Imagine my surprise when I learned of…
  15. The Girl with All the Gifts (Book) - Nope. Your eyes do not deceive you. I did not know that the amazing movie was based on an equally amazing novel by M. R. Carey. What I also did not know was that M. R. Carey is also comic book writer Mike Carey. The book follows a series of characters in a post-apocalyptic world trying to understand and cure the blight of zombies that has decimated the world, and the strange and brilliant Melanie might hold the key to mankind’s survival. I won’t say anything else other than read it.
  16. Logan (Movie) - At a time when I thought the X-franchise might be done, Logan came along and totally blew me away. Brutal, sorrowful, tragic, and beautiful all at the same time, the film follows an older Wolverine and an ailing Professor Xavier as they encounter a mutant girl who is eerily like Wolverine not just in powers and physical characteristics, but in animalistic attitude. What really drew me in on this film was the atmosphere that reminded me of both the video game The Last of Us and the movie/novel The Girl with All the Gifts. I have this on Blu-ray and intend to watch the regular version followed by the included Black and White version as well.
  17. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Graphic Novel) - Everythinged by Sonny Liew and published by Random House, is a phenomenal story about comic book artist Charlie Chan Hock Chye. The book is partially a history of Singapore and partially a character study, but is wholly a work of wonder. Liew utilizes so many different art styles in this beautifully produced book that it is mind-blowing to know it was both written and illustrated solely by one person. Although this book was released in 2016, I did not read it until this year. The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye deserves to be on everyone’s premiere bookshelf. You can read more of my thoughts about this lovely book from my earlier post here.
  18. Thor: Ragnarok (Movie) - Thor: Ragnarok is not just the weirdest of the Thor movies, it is the weirdest of the Marvel movies, and is now one of my top three—along with the first Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier. This film is actually three movies in one: the story of Ragnarok, an outer space romp with the Hulk, and the confrontation with Hela. Typically, cramming so much into a movie would make it a hot mess, but not here. Thor: Ragnarok is a thrilling, funny, roller coaster ride that had me cheering and smiling from beginning to end. Even Amy, who is fiercely critical of the superhero movies, gave it a seven out of ten, which means comic book fans outta love the heck out of it.
  19. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Television Show - HBO) - Dang. We really need John Oliver to come back seeing as how so much as happened since the show went on hiatus until 2018. As the Dotard in Chief and his ever-expanding team of villains continued to assail our democracy in 2017, Oliver exposed it all, broke it down, and told the truth, all while making us laugh despite the horror of it all. It’s only been a couple of months and so much has happened. Come back, John Oliver! We need you to shed light on the truth and to bring some much-needed laughs while you are at it.
  20. Beer (Beer) - Yes, Denizens, 2017 has been all about the barrel-aged beers, which means much higher ABVs (yay) and much higher calorie counts (boo). Here are some of the ones that floored me, as well as some of the staples of the Donist World corporate headquarters (Mom’s basement):
    • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) (Imperial Stout from Founders Brewing Co.) - I was able to pick up two four-packs of what is my favorite beer for celebrating a special occasion. Cave-aged in bourbon barrels for one year, this kicked-up version of Founders’s breakfast stout is a must-find for all beer lovers. I only have three left, but thank goodness this seasonal is about to return in the next month or two.
    • Pliny the Elder (Imperial IPA from Russian River Brewing Co.) - Yeah, Pliny still reigns king. If you’ve tried it, then you know. If you haven’t, seek it out. Amy surprised me with a case of this at the beginning of the year.
    • High West Barrel-Aged Victory At Sea (Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Co.) - Victory at Sea is easily my favorite porter, but when you barrel-age something that is already special, you get a beer that is ever specialerer. This is right up there with KBS for a beer to truly mark a momentous occasion.
    • Stygian Descent (Black IPA from Stone Brewing) - I was thoroughly bummed when Stone canceled my favorite Sublimely Self-Righteous black IPA. Thankfully, this barrel-aged beauty crossed my path. If only it wasn’t so dang expensive.
    • w00tstout (2017) (Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing) - I satisfied my dream of visiting Stone Brewing this summer and got to have this black-gold treasure on tap and by the bottle before the rest of the country got the chance. A lovely, complex, barrel-aged beer that will be vanishing from store shelves soon.
    • 120 Minute IPA (Imperial IPA from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) It is a pain in the butt to find this in town, but when I do I buy a bottle or two. Clocking in at 18% ABV, don’t expect to do anything of substance afterward. 120 Minute IPA is one to sip and to allow to warm as you enjoy the complex flavors. 
    • Xocoveza (Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing) - The perfect winter beer. till love this special treat.
    • Breakfast Stout (Imperial stout from Founders Brewing Co) - Rejoice denizens! The base beer for my much loved KBS is fantastic on its own and now available year round. I drink ’em out of a Founders Breakfast Stout mug. Why? Because I can.
    • Dragon’s Milk (Imperial stout from New Holland Brewing Company) - Booze…you can taste and feel the booze, and that is a good thing. Don’t watch Game of Thrones without it.
    • 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.

If there is anything you think I should be reading, watching, playing, or drinking, then please let me know; I’d love to hear it. Thanks for reading Donist World and all the best for you in 2018!


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