Sunday, March 01, 2015

Monthly Update - February 2015

RESOLUTIONS:

1. No cancer. No new developments. Again, CT scan in March.

2. Read books. Doing well on this one. Four more books down this month, which puts me at 8 so far for the year. I'd love it if I can maintain this "book a week" pace:
  • Queen of Stone by Keith Baker
  • Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick
  • Bumper Crop by Joe Lansdale
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
3. Watch all the TV & movies I have saved. Haven't watched anything this month. But also haven't bought anything new. I watched a ton of TV, as noted below.

4. Buy no more than six videogames this year. Didn't buy anything new this month, other than the two free games I get as Playstation Plus, and actually played Wolf Among Us and tried out two of the free PS+ games.

5. 12 More Boardgames. This month, I played a couple games of Pandemic and then had a boardgame night, where I played Machi Koro (three times, once with the Harbor expansion), Loonacy, King of New York, Diamonsters and Settlers of Catan. I also learned to play Star Realms. Also added X-COM, Netrunner, Epic Spell Wars: Battle Wizards of Mt. Skullzfyre, Pandemic: Contagion and Splendor to my game library. So that's three new games for this month, for a total of 7 this year so far. Also ran a game of Deadlands and a game of Pathfinder.

6. Get below 190 lbs. Last month was 202. This month was 204. Which, if my math is correct, means that in ten years I will weigh 440 lbs. This is unacceptable, and I need to stop it. Daylight saving time starts immediately after STAPLE!, so my plan is to start taking walks at least three days a week. Hopefully more like five. I am considering getting up an hour earlier than normal (so 11 AM... shut up, I'm a night person) and walking before I head to work, but I don't know if that'll happen.

7. Travel - I officially scheduled and booked our Disney World trip. That may be it for travel this year, it is not a particularly cheap trip. But it's gonna be fun.

8. Instagram - Uh... still trying to figure out that other resolution. Is "not karate chopping people who piss me off" a resolution?

9. Cook! - Another Mexican meatloaf (this time with pork mixed in and Diablo sauce toned down a little, and I was pretty damn happy with the results) and another go at the sausage & shrimp cajun pasta (also de-spiced a touch, could use a little less spice but turned out better this time). Also revisited the chicken thighs with mushrooms from last month and confirmed that it's a pretty simple and delicious recipe. Suzanne also made the Crockpot Carnitas again, which turned out pretty great.

In terms of new recipes? Made chicken fried steak for the first time. The steak was pretty tasty, the gravy could use some work. Grilled up some pork chops with "Texas seasoning" from HEB along with "sliced baked potatoes." The pork was good, the potatoes needed probably another hour to cook. Also made homemade mac and cheese for the first time (nailed it... smoked paprika was the "secret" ingredient) along with some basic grilled chicken with rosemary and thyme. Another new recipe for the month was chicken parmigiana and parmesan-garlic baked potato "fries," both of which turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself.

So that's only 7 meals (I ate out for dinner quite a bit this month), but three new recipes, all of which worked out pretty well.

10. NaNoWriMo - Created my profile on the site. If anybody else is doing this thing this year, feel free to send me a buddy request if that's a thing. Also began working on novel ideas, there are several I've been thinking about. My plan is to start outlining/developing characters next month.

LISTS:

Best Week of Comics This Month:
February 4th (Ant-Man, Birthright, Hellboy & BPRD, The Punisher, Shaft, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Saga, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye)

Top Five Favorite Comics This Month:
  1. Darth Vader #1-2
  2. Saga #25
  3. Ms. Marvel #11
  4. Spider-Gwen #1
  5. Amazing Spider-Man #15
Comics I Read This Month:
  • Amazing Spider-Man #14-15
  • Ant-Man #2
  • Batgirl #39
  • Birthright #5
  • Bitch Planet #3
  • Chew #46
  • Cluster #1
  • Daredevil #13
  • Darth Vader #1-2
  • Ei8ght #1
  • Hawkeye #21
  • Hellboy and the BPRD #3
  • Ms. Marvel #11-12
  • Punisher #15
  • Rumble #3
  • Saga #25
  • Shaft #3
  • She-Hulk #12
  • SHIELD #3
  • Silk #1
  • Spider-Gwen #1
  • Spider-Man 2099 #9
  • Spider-Woman #4
  • Star Wars #2
  • Storm #8
  • Superior Iron Man #5
  • The Empty #1
  • Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2
  • Velvet #9
Favorite Comic Panels This Month:
Graphic Novels I Read This Month

  • Starlight TP
  • Master Keaton Volume 1
  • Uncanny Vol 1 TP
  • Storm Vol 1 TP
  • Avatar The Rift HC
  • The Fade Out Vol 1 TP
  • Sex Criminals Vol 2 TP

TV I Watched This Month:
This is mostly for me so I can keep better track of favorite moments, best and worst episodes and do a little less homework in prepping for my "Best of the Year" list next year.
  • Man Seeking Woman "Traib" (The texting situation room was good, but... I find the weird outrageousness so much more believable than any of the characters or that *anyone* is this awkward and terrible at dating) "Pitbull" (The pre-game sequence actually made me laugh, and may have kept me onboard for another couple episodes, and the second half of the episode was *so* weird as to maybe win me over) "Dram" (Maria Thayer guest-starring is always good, the torture/faked death stuff was really funny... I think I'm starting to get this show. I still think the lead character is shallow and kinda dim, but it's becoming funnier to me) "Sizzurp" (Mt. Olympus cracked me up. As did Tanaka the penis monster. The utter strangeness of this show took a while to grow on me, but I love it now.) "Gavel" (Weaker episode, but Mr. Raymond Holt as the judge of cheating court was fun) "The Stain" (Every time they focus on Josh being self-involved, it's a weaker episode, but a lot of the wedding in hell stuff, like buying a sword, was pretty entertaining)
  • Hacking the System "Season One" - Tons of good info, very entertaining, my daughter's favorite show
  • Archer "The Archer Sanction" (Mountain climbing, incompetence, spy action... good to have Archer back) "Edie's Wedding" (Archer vs. Barry, casting Alison Tolman as Pam's sister Edie is genius) "Vision Quest" (Bottle episode in the elevator, this was one of my favorite episodes so far this season) "Sitting" (A fun episode with guest star Kumail Nanjiani, with a nice stinger ending) "Nellis" (It's funny, all of this could have worked with last season's status quo, but the show just works better when they're spies instead of hapless drug dealers) "The Kanes" (Keith David and CCH Pounder as Lana's parents, a car chase through San Francisco in the Bullit car... the stuff with Pam, Krieger and the rest was just gravy... best episode of the season so far)
  • Star Wars Rebels "Path of the Jedi" (Ezra becoming a Jedi has been a thread that made him a much stronger character, and this was a pretty solid episode in that journey) "Idiot's Array" (Lando!) "Vision of Hope" (Love the new adversary presented here, I didn't see the reveal coming at all even though I should have) "Call to Action" (Grand Moff Tarkin was memorable in his small role in the movies, with this being a prequel of sorts, we get to really see what he can do, and he makes a great bad guy) "Rebel Resolve" (This early in, and they've already gotten their Empire Strikes Back, with the team desperate and down by one. It's an impressive show.)
  • Justified "Noblesse Oblige" (Choo-Choo is such an Elmore Leonard character. The intricate character stories this season are making this pretty great so far) "Trash and the Snake" (So much for The Wiz, I guess. Amazing tension with Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen facing off with Raylan and Ava, respectively) "Sounding" (They're doing a great job managing this big cast, giving everyone their moments, and still making room for past greats like Limehouse and Constable Bob) "Alive Day" (Not how I saw the Choo-Choo thing going, but I really liked it, and there's some great tension with the various pieces in motion)
  • Parks and Recreation "Donna and Joe" (It is somehow perfect that control freak Leslie has uncontrollable children... and I loved seeing Jen again. April as the meanest wedding coordinator ever. Drunken Ben and/or Leslie is the best thing ever. Both of them dancing together... somehow even better.) "Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington" (A really sweet wrap-up of April's story, loved all the politician cameos), "Pie-Mary" (More Kathyrn Hahn is always welcome, I loved their take on men's rights and seeing Ron at his giddy puzzle-solving best, and the Gerry/Donna story was sweet and fun) "Johnny Karate" (Just a really fun show within a show) "Two Funerals" (Bill Murray! A sweet wedding proposal for Tom! Mayor Gergich! So many guest stars... it's a great penultimate episode) "One for the Road" (The only thing that would have made this more perfect is if it had ended with a "Just kidding, one more season!" trick reveal)
  • Flash "Crazy for You" (I've been down on the past two, but this was great. Amazing stuff with Barry and his dad, Barry and Caitlin, the intro of Linda Park (!), a bit of Grodd (!), more Firestorm... just a great episode.) "The Nuclear Man" (Really like the device being part of Firestorm's costume, like that Joe is onto Wells and love the Barry-Linda relationship) "Fallout" (The full Firestorm... and Grodd. So happy as a comics fan right now)
  • Top Chef "Holy Escamoley" (I've liked the challenges in Mexico, love seeing some of the previous contestants as sous chefs - and glad to see Gregory pick up his game again after losing steam before the finals), "Finale" (Overall, this was a pretty great season of Top Chef. Lot less frustrating "why is that guy still on?" and I was happy with how the last meal played out, less gimmick-y and more just two great chefs getting to show what they can do.)
  • Arrow "Uprising" (There's a lot to like here... and stuff I still have difficulties with. Vinnie Jones is great, but I feel like they missed the opportunity to have a great African-American villain by sticking closer to the comics version. Laurel is... OK, but I miss Caity Lotz a whole lot. The Felicity/Ollie relationship continues to be frustrating. Their use of Wildcat was disappointing, as is the slow-burn-maybe-never use of Katana. And I love John Barrowman, but I feel like Merlyn is falling into the Buffy/Spike problem, where they love an actor so much they forget he's supposed to be a villain. It's a good show, occasionally great... but Flash is doing what it does so much better.) "Canaries" (Some long-held secrets finally out, some good action sequences - and I'm glad to be rid of Douchebag DJ, secret threat, who I never bought into) "The Return" (Really missing Felicity this episode, but they're doing nice work with Thea and I love that all the secrets are finally coming out) "Nanda Parbat" (Their take on the Atom is disappointingly generic, the twisted motivations they keep having to pull to keep Merlyn alive are becoming ridiculous... but the Diggle/Ollie invading Nanda Parbat scene was a great action sequence)
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia "Charlie Work" (This late into a series, there's no way a show should be doing something that could legitimately be in its top five episodes ever. What a great episode, and a great show.) "The Gang Spies Like U.S." (Another of those "can't believe they did that on TV" combined with the return of the waiter from the restaurant episode) "The Gang Misses The Boat" (I love when they do the meta stuff about the show and its critics... and Def Poetry was great) "Mac Kills His Dad" (The extended cast on this show rivals that of Parks & Rec, and when they use them well, like they did here, as well as turning in some truly dark funny stuff about prison gangs and suicidal addicts... the show is at its best)
  • Broad City "Knockoffs" (So... they went there. Susie Essman, Bob Balaban and pegging... Broad City, you are amazing.) "Hashtag FOMO" (Abbi as "Val" definitely goes in the "best moments of TV" for this year) "The Matrix" (I don't know why this wasn't called Dog Wedding, because everything about that was hilarious. Abbi hallucinating is also always fun.) "Citizen Ship" (You either love Bevers or hate Bevers. I love him, because he's so sweet and well-meaning and yet a total pain in the ass, and seeing him locked up with Ilana and Abbi made for some good TV)
  • The Walking Dead "What Happened and What's Going On" (I've been happy with this show since they stopped having characters do stupid things and stopped killing their best characters off. This one did both. It's still better than it's been, but it's not what I wanted coming back.) "Them" (I'm so bored by this show right now.) "The Distance" (That's a relief. The first two episodes back angered and bored me, this one was a step back onto the right path, with much stronger character moments and forward story momentum)
  • Better Call Saul "Uno" (Similar but different sensibility to Breaking Bad, beautifully shot, and seeing Jimmy McGill in his early days turns out to be something I wanted after all. And that opening... and closing. I laughed out loud in the first two minutes and the last two minutes when I figured out what was going on.) "Mijo" (Just as tense as the best of Breaking Bad, just as beautiful to look at, love the montage - another Breaking Bad staple - and love Michael Mando here. Echoes it's predecessor in all the right ways, but doesn't feel like it's riding on its coat-tails, just the same talent telling different stories.) "Nacho" (Three episodes in and I'm loving this. Unpredictable stories, and Jimmy McGill is a very different character from Saul Goodman.) "Hero" (The bookends, with Jimmy and his old pal pulling a scam and Jimmy's brother making a crazed run for a paper, were great. The rest of the episode... also pretty great. Loving this show.)
  • The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO's true-crime documentary series, definitely hoping to play to fans of "Serial." It's... interesting so far, but not as compelling as Serial was, partly because it lacks the light touch that Sarah Koenig had. But some hated that light touch, so they might find The Jinx more to their taste.)
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Windbreaker City" (A weaker episode, but still fun) "The Wednesday Incident" (Gina and Jake pairing up was fun, a much better episode)
  • Agent Carter "A Sin to Err" (The scene between Dotty and the scientist was a nice misdirect and bit of spycraft, and Jarvis's discomfort with children and Stark's mistresses was fun. And that badass fight scene in the Automat... wow.) "Snafu" (Lots of twists and turns... the period of all this makes it feel less Marvel Cinematic than Agents of SHIELD, but it's been a fun ride and I look forward to the conclusion) "Valediction" (This was a great series, but after the finale, I would dearly love to see a second season that's just Sharon Carter, Howard Stark, Edwin Jarvis and maybe the Howling Commandos. Dominic Cooper is great as Stark.)
  • Togetherness "Houston We Have A Problem" (This is the most real, complicated human relationship stuff I've seen... does what Married and You're the Worst does, but in a completely different, and in the case of Married, better, way. I was mad at each of the characters during this episode, and then completely understood their POV at other times. That's good writing and good performance.) "Kick the Can" (That Kick the Can sequence was amazing, and it got very real by the end) "Ghost in Chains" (The stuff with Lynskey and her "boyfriend" is breaking my heart, and Zissis continues to bring it to every moment on this show)
Top Five Shows This Month:
  1. Better Call Saul
  2. Togetherness
  3. Justified
  4. Parks & Recreation
  5. Broad City
Favorite Last Week with John Oliver Segments This Month:
    Favorite Daily Show Segments This Month:

    Movies I Watched This Month:

    • Maleficent
    • Book of Life

    Videogames I Played This Month:

    • Wolf Among Us

    Places I Ate This Month:
    • Kerbey Lane x2
    • Torchy's Tacos x3 (Last month it was Tuk-Tuk, this month the Scallywag)
    • Joe's Crab Shack
    • Smokey Mo's
    • Black Star Co-Op
    • The League
    • DiMassi's Mediterranean Buffet
    • Sushi Nini
    • BJ's Brewhouse x2
    • Juarez Mexican Bakery x3
    • PizzaRev
    • Salt & Time
    • Cover 2
    Added to the Food Wish List:

    Archived Links:

    Sunday, February 01, 2015

    Monthly Update - January 2015

    RESOLUTIONS:

    1. No cancer. So far, so good. CT scan in late March.

    2. Read books. Doing well on this one. Four books down this month:
    • Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt
    • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    • Feed by Mira Grant
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    3. Watch all the TV & movies I have saved. Haven't watched anything this month. But also haven't bought anything new. I watched a ton of TV, as noted below.

    4. Buy no more than six videogames this year. I am doing terrible. Playstation network had a sale and I bought Wolf Among Us and Costume Quest 2 because I couldn't resist a sale. So that's 1/3 of my allotted budget in one month.

    5. 12 More Boardgames. Doing well so far. I've played four new games (Betrayal at House on the Hill, Lost Legacy The Starship, Diamonsters and Red Dragon Inn) and added another four (Star Realms, Onward to Venus, Deus and Mythtopia) to my library. I also played the tabletop RPG Dread for the first time, and got in a couple games of Smash-Up and King of New York. Added to my "To Play" List: Roll for the Galaxy and X-COM.

    6. Get below 190 lbs. Not as good. Right now I weigh 202... really need to get back to walking and exercising more, and get better about my soda intake.

    7. Travel - I did well so far. Took a three-day trip out to San Francisco for the Image Expo, and brought Suzanne so we could go out and eat at a few places (and visit tourist-y Fisherman's Wharf) too. Heroes Con may conflict with some other stuff, like Free RPG Day... Emerald City Comic Con falls on the weekend of my daughter's birthday. San Diego just sounds like a damn nightmare at this point. But we're thinking Disney World for the summer.

    8. Instagram - On *average*, I'm hitting the one picture a day, but I'm clearly not doing a picture every single day. Some days I just don't have anything (or don't see anything) photo worthy. But mostly this goal was to make sure I used Instagram, and so far that hasn't been a problem. I feel like I should probably make another resolution to replace this one.

    9. Cook! I did pretty good this month, cooked over a dozen dinners. I need to adjust my spice, because I made three dinners that were almost too hot for Suzanne: A Mexican meatloaf recipe I've had for years, using Torchy's Diablo Sauce, a brisket, bacon & beer chili recipe I got from a friend and a Cajun shrimp & sausage pasta. All turned out good but could use some adjustment on spice.

    I also cooked some more basic dishes, an improvised 5-ingredient brisket chili that turned out alright given the cost and time that went into it, steak & mushrooms a couple times, a shrimp & veggie stir fry a couple times, and a couple packaged meals from HEB for steak fajitas (but I did make fresh onions and peppers to go with) and butter chicken (which I liked well enough to find a real recipe instead of making it from a box next time.)

    There was also an attempt, mostly unsuccessful, at shrimp scampi, and another, more successful, at crockpot carnitas. I also learned a new recipe for chicken with mushrooms and made them with bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts, which turned out pretty damn tasty. So that's five new recipes, two that were over-spicy, one that was underwhelming, two that turned out good. Not an ideal ratio, but not bad. Hoping to add 3-5 new recipes next month too.

    Looking back at my Facebook status via Timehop, this is similar to the pattern I had last year. I hope to maintain cooking more than I did last year.

    10. NaNoWriMo - This isn't really until November, but I do have a couple ideas percolating. I think it's gonna happen this year.

    LISTS:

    Best Week of Comics So Far This Year:
    January 7th (Ant-Man, Birthright, The Fade Out, Hellboy & BPRD, The Punisher, Shaft, Storm, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Usagi Yojimbo Senso, X-Men)

    Top Five Favorite Comics This Month:

    1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1
    2. Star Wars #1
    3. Ant-Man #1
    4. S.H.I.E.L.D. #2
    5. Shaft #2

    Other Comics I Read This Month:
    • Alex + Ada #12
    • All New Captain America #3
    • Amazing Spider-Man #12
    • Amazing Spider-Man #13
    • Ant-Man #1
    • Batgirl #38
    • Birthright #4
    • Bitch Planet #2
    • Copperhead #5
    • Daredevil #12
    • Deathlok #4
    • Dungeons & Dragons Legends of Baldur's Gate #4
    • Fables Wolf Among Us #1
    • Graveyard Shift #2
    • Hellboy and the BPRD #2
    • Lazarus #14
    • Revival #27
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. #2
    • Sex Criminals #10
    • Shaft #2
    • Spider-Man 2099 #7
    • Spider-Man 2099 #8
    • Spider-Verse #2
    • Spider-Verse Team-Up #3
    • Spider-Woman #3
    • Spread #5
    • Star Wars #1
    • Storm #7
    • Superior Iron Man #4
    • The Fade Out #4
    • The Kitchen #3
    • The Punisher #14
    • Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1
    • Usagi Yojimbo Senso #6
    • X-Men #23
    Favorite Comic Panels This Month:
    Graphic Novels I Read This Month
    *Grendel Omnibus Vol 3
    *Saga Vol 1 HC (Re-read)
    *American Vampire Volume 7 HC
    *Glitterkiss
    *Superior Foes of Spider-Man Vols 1-3

    TV I Watched This Month:
    This is mostly for me so I can keep better track of favorite moments, best and worst episodes and do a little less homework in prepping for my "Best of the Year" list next year.
    • Friends Season One Episodes 1-9 (Background watching, mostly... I know most of these by heart)
    • A to Z ("J" through "M", sad to see it go)
    • Bob's Burgers "Best Burger," "Father of the Bob," "Tina Tailor Soldier Spy""Midday Run" "Speakeasy Rider" "Late Afternoon in the Garden of Bob and Louise" (The Midnight Run music homage in Midday Run was a favorite, but the song in Late Afternoon and the revelation of Bob's dad and diner backstory were also really good)
    • Top Chef Boston (I like how they're changing up the format here, having chefs challenge to come back in or drop out immediately, mixing up the Last Chance Kitchen, trying to eliminate crazy things where bad chefs stay in until the finals or great chefs wind up eliminated after one bad break. It wasn't my favorite season, but it was stronger than the last couple.
    • Agent Carter Episodes 1-4 (Really pleased with this at the halfway point. It's not as good as Arrow or Flash, and I'm not as connected as I was to the second season of SHIELD so far, but the cast is great, I love Atwell as Peggy and I like what they're doing with Jarvis)
    • Brooklyn Nine-Nine "Beach House", "Payback," "Defense Rests" (Beach House is one of the series' best episodes so far, with hilarious lines from Jake, and I'm loving the deepening of the Jake/Holt friendship in general, but all three of these are solid episodes)
    • The Simpsons "The Man Who Came To Be Dinner" "Bart's New Friend", "The Musk Who Fell to Earth" (A lot of the goodwill the marathon earned is wearing off, as none of these were great episodes and one (Musk) was so terrible I couldn't finish it. The post-credits Star Trek riff on "Dinner" was fun, the X-Men/Loki stinger on Bart's New Friend random and funny and "Bart's New Friend" generally has a touch of sincerity and sweetness that the old Simpsons had.)
    • Cougar Town (The Matrix riff, Tom's Speakeasy and the baby names were all favorite moments)
    • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Beats Boggs" (Drinking games on the plane definitely potential best moment/best episode material) "The Gang Group Dates" (How the gang describes each other is really funny, and Dennis's creepy serial killer vibe is always funny) "Psycho Pete Returns" (So mean and so funny... always good to see Rickety Cricket.)
    • Man Seeking Woman (Definitely weird... not particularly funny. Gonna give it a couple more episodes, though, because the promos are really fun and promise a better show than the first episode delivered.)
    • Broad City (Really hilarious so far, and the naked singing bit in episode two was great)
    • Justified 6.1 & 6.2 (The return of Dewey Crowe, Raylan and Boyd maneuvering... great opener - Garrett Dillahunt is doing great reserved malice - great banter between Tim & Raylan, and Raylan's interaction with Choo Choo)
    • Modern Family - "They Day We Almost Died," "The Big Guns" (Potty training and a weak attempt at multi-storytelling, I think I'm almost off this show)
    • 12 Monkeys "Pilot" (Tense opening scene, like how they're doing time travel and how fast she believes him, solid SyFy opener)
    • Best New Restaurant (Not as good as Top Chef, but interesting, especially in the head-to-head. Colicchio is the difference between success and failure. And now I want to eat at Swift's Attic, which was on the second episode representing Austin.)
    • The Nightly Show (First two weeks were pretty solid - the Obama episode was probably strongest, with the Cosby episode runner-up. #Keepit100 is probably the best part.)
    • @Midnight (Patton Oswalt lured me in. The Archer episode was brilliant, Rory Scovel's "they have my family" runner was great)
    • Togetherness ((Three episodes in, and I know we're not even out of January yet, but I *love* Togetherness and think it has a shot at favorite show of the year. The chemistry between Amanda Peet and Steve Zissis is killer, and the whole thing is real and human and warm, it can be funny and kind of awkward and then sweet and then heartbreaking... love it.)
    • Mad Dogs (Really great cast, beautifully shot... I'm not sure where the show goes from here, it's like a fucked-up South American crime-tinged version of Men of A Certain Age, but I'm in)
    • Archer (After a bit of a misfire on season five, season six is stronger, the holographic office gag killed me and the return of Conway Stern was very welcome)
    • Flash (Heat Wave is a little over-the-top, and I had some issues with the Heat-Wave/Captain Cold/Flash fight, but... still a lot of fun, and love the character work and STAR Labs vs. Flash training)
    • Arrow (Loving how they restored Ollie, a little weary of weepy Felicity instead of kickass Felicity, and still disliking Laurel as Black Canary... I miss Caity Lotz.)
    • The Americans "EST Men" (I always forget how much I love this show until it comes back on. Tense, amazing character-work, amazing period design... and Frank Langella was a nice surprise)
    • Key & Peele Superbowl Special (Damn weird, but pretty funny. The guest stars, especially Craig Robinson and Allison Janney, were the high points.) 
    Top Five Shows This Month:
    1. Togetherness Season One
    2. Broad City Season Two
    3. The Americans Season Three
    4. Justified Season Six
    5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Two
    Favorite Daily Show Segments This Month:

    Movies I Watched This Month:

    • Beverly Hills Cop
    • Alien Nation

    Videogames I Played This Month:

    • Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS4)
    • Grand Theft Auto V (PS4)
    • Disney Infinity (PS4)
    • Lego Batman 3 (PS4)

    Places I Ate This Month:

    • 600 Degree Pizza
    • Ajisen Ramen (San Francisco)
    • Annie's Cafe at ABIA
    • BJ's Brewhouse
    • Chuys
    • Crab Shack (San Francisco)
    • Fork + Taco (x2)
    • Fuddrucker's
    • House of Nanking (San Francisco)
    • Jack Allen's Kitchen
    • Kaiju Ramen (San Francisco)
    • Kerbey Lane (x3) - Key Lime Pie Pancakes, Bacon & Pear Grilled Cheese, Cinnamon Roll Pancakes all lured me in
    • Michi Ramen (x3)
    • PizzaRev (x2)
    • Super Duper Burgers (San Francisco)
    • Sushi Nini
    • Torchy's (x5) - Tuk Tuk month is here!

    Added to the Food Wish List:


    Archived Links:


    Thursday, January 01, 2015

    New Year's Resolutions 2014-2015

    2014 was an improvement on 2013 in almost all major ways. For one thing, while the cancer was still around, and I had to do chemo and have a surgery, nothing was quite as major as the surgery I had in 2012 and had to recover from. For another, I got myself a new car, a Mustang, something I've been wanting for quite a while. One of my best friends got married. My store continued to thrive. I continued to meet a ton of interesting and fun people. My family was all pretty happy and healthy, all things considered. Some of my friends had shitty years, and that sucks, but a lot of them did pretty well. New babies, kids growing up, new relationships, all kinds of cool stuff out there.

    So now we come to 2015, which just really sounds like living in the future, despite the lack of jet-packs, flying cars or reasonably-priced sex-bots. So it's time for resolutions, and a check in on last year.

    Last year's resolutions:

    1. Don't die. Bam. Knocked that one right out. Suck it, death.

    2. If I do die, regenerate as a ginger. See #1.

    3. Learn Spanish. So, yeah. Started off strong using Duolingo, faded entirely. I would guess that what I gained is the ability to read a tiny, tiny (pequino) bit of Spanish, but speaking and understanding it spoken? Not so much.

    4. Read at least 12 books. Done. No problem. I read:
    City Primeval by Elmore Leonard (July)
    Devil Red by Joe R. Lansdale
    Galveston by Nick Pizzolato
    Leather Maiden by Joe R. Lansdale (April)
    Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (August)
    Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard
    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
    The Great Divide by Matt Taibbi (May)
    The Hunter by Richard Stark (June)
    The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (February)
    The Walking Dead by Greg Rucka (January)
    Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale (September)
    Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham (March)

    5. Be 10% less of an asshole. Hard to quantify. I'm gonna go ahead and give myself this one, I feel like I at least managed 5%.

    6. Spend time with as many of my friends as possible, as much as possible. The most successful of my resolutions, and also quite honestly the easiest. I fully embraced my extroverted nature this year.

    7. Play at least 12 new board/card games this year. Yep. 20, actually. For the record, they were:
    Battlestar Galactica
    Boss Monster
    Cards Against Humanity
    Escape from Colditz
    Firefly The Game
    Forbidden Desert
    Geek Out!
    King of New York
    Machine of Death
    Night of the Grand Octopus
    Once Upon A Time
    Rarrrr!
    Roll Through The Ages (Bronze Age & Iron Age)
    Sentinels of the Multiverse
    Shinobi Wat-AAAH!
    Telestrations
    Terra Mystica
    The Resistance
    Tsuro
    Unspeakable Words

    8. Stay under 200 lbs. Ballpark? At end of year, I think I'm at 199. I was doing well before holiday eating habits kicked in. But... I managed the most important part, which is not having to buy new clothes. (I mean, I did buy new T-shirts, but not because I in any way needed them.)

    9. Go bike riding with my kids. Not so much. My bike, which is a holdout from college, turned out to be pretty broken. And the kids don't ride their bikes a lot.

    10. Travel. We took a family trip to Denver, and I managed to get up to Dallas, which I haven't done for a couple of years, and I took the daughter to San Antonio for Six Flags. So... baby steps on this one.

    This year's resolutions:

    1. No cancer. I managed not dying, let's see if we can push that up a notch by having no chemo, no surgeries and no cancer. I've got 2-3 CT scans I've got to get through to make that happen. #nocancer

    2. Read books. To start with, all the books I have on my night table. I've been gathering books, both graphic novels and just-plain novels, for years now. I'm going to do my best to get through them before I buy more. Graphic novels I sort of buy as they come out so they don't go out of print, but I'm going to continue to not buy too many extra until I get through the pile. Novels... I'm gonna try not to pick up anything new until I've read those on my stack.

    Five Eberron novels, Elmore Leonard, 3 Fletch novels, and several others - if I read only what I have now, I'll hit 17 books


    I'm also doing a reading challenge with friends, there are categories and the idea is to read 50 books. I'm not gonna get anywhere near that number, I'm guessing more like 12-15. #books2015

    3. Watch all the TV & movies I have saved. Similar vein, I'm gonna try and slow down on buying movies and TV on Bluray until I've gotten through my backlog of several years. I'll no doubt still buy a few new shows and movies, but I'll try to relegate it to must-have new releases (like anything from Marvel Cinematic) and hard-to-resist bargains. This also comes with a resolution to start up my movie nights with friends again. #videos2015

    The "To Watch" stack - Not shown: Key & Peele Season 3, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season One, Space: Above and Beyond, Boomtown, Police Squad!, Max Headroom, Profit, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies Season 1, Band of Brothers, Batman Beyond and a few more DVDs
    4. Buy no more than six videogames this year. Again... backlog. Until I need new games, I'm going to refrain from buying too many new games. I mean, when Arkham Knight comes out, I'm buying that, and if Pathfinder Online hits, I'll probably buy that... so I'm allowing myself essentially one every two months. Also, this is a cheaty one since I got a couple videogames for Christmas already. And since I won't be counting games I buy for Aaron. And since I got a Playstation Plus account to go with my PS4, so I'll have 1-2 new "free" games each month. #ps42015

    5. 12 More Boardgames. I plan to add at least 12 more boardgames and card games to my repertoire this year. Since I also hope to do mostly-monthly boardgame nights at the house, this should be pretty easy. #games2015

    I've got over 20 on the list just from 2014 games alone:
    7 Wonders
    Attack Wing (Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek and/or Star Wars)
    Battle for Kemble's Cascade
    Betrayal at House on the Hill
    Castles of Mad King Ludwig
    Dead Winter
    Dice Masters
    Dixit
    Doomtown Reloaded
    Five Tribes
    Formula D
    Gloom
    Guardians' Chronicles
    Love Letter
    Machi Koro
    Red Dragon Inn
    Shadowrun Crossfire
    Splendor
    Star Realms
    Takenoko
    Terror in Meeple City
     X-COM: The Boardgame

    6. Get below 190 lbs. By the end of the year, I will weigh less than 190 lbs. Quite possibly 189. But that's the goal. This means trying to get back to my "less snacking, less desserts" rule and keep cutting back my soda intake (currently I'm at every other day, I need to drink less) as well as continuing to take the dog for walks, use the elliptical and generally do a bit more exercise and healthier eating. #diet2015

    7. Travel. I've already booked the Image Expo in San Francisco for January. I've been threatening a New Orleans trip for all of 2014. Emerald City Comicon is in March (on the weekend of my daughter's birthday, so this may not happen this year.) Heroes Con in June. San Diego Con in July. I will make at least one other comic book-related show and a trip to New Orleans this year. #travel2015

    8. Instagram - I plan to post at least one picture a day. This isn't really a self-improvement thing or anything, just something fun I plan to do. #365in2015

    9. Cook! I bought Thug Kitchen and got a Salsa cookbook as a gift. I'm hoping to cook at least one new recipe a month. Ideally lots more. If anyone has any good recipes or cookbooks or websites with recipes to recommend, let me know. #cook2015

    10. NaNoWriMo - I've been wanting to try this for years. As long as it doesn't conflict with #1 or #7, I think this year I'm gonna try and write a novel in November. Not for publication, because it will more than likely be terrible... but just for me. #nanowrimo2015

    I *should* resolve to be less angry, less judgmental and less snarky... but I know full well it's not gonna happen. And honestly, being angry, snarky and judgmental, while absolutely character flaws, are a big part of who I am and I'm not willing to change that at this point.

    Also, less a resolution and more a plan, places I didn't eat at enough that I want to eat in 2015 at least once: Perry's Steakhouse, Lucy's Fried Chicken, French Quarter Grille, DiMassi's Mediterranean Buffet, Hopdoddy, Estancia Churrascaria, Garbo's Lobster, Salt & Time, Sawyer & Co., Texas Chili Parlor, and Fork + Taco.

    By The Numbers:
    1. I read about 300 single-issue comics this year. Well, I'm sure I read a few more than that, but I read and liked that many.

    2. I ate at over 50 different restaurants this year. Some of them more than once. OK, several of them more than once. My favorites, the ones I went to at least a half-dozen times, were Curly's BBQ (R.I.P.), Chuy's, Jack Allen's Kitchen, Torchy's Tacos, Lucy's Fried Chicken, Michi Ramen, PizzaRev, Sushi Nini, Haymaker and Noble Sandwich.

    Monthly Update - December 2014

    Comics I Read And Liked:
    Afterlife with Archie #7
    Alex + Ada #11
    All New Captain America #2
    Amazing Spider-Man #11
    Axis Hobgoblin #3
    Batgirl #37
    Bitch Planet #1
    Chew #45
    Copperhead #4
    Daredevil #11
    Deathlok #3
    Django Zorro #2
    Dungeons & Dragons Legends of Baldurs Gate #3
    Gotham by Midnight #2
    Graveyard Shift #1
    Hellboy and the BPRD #1
    Kitchen #2
    Manifest Destiny #12
    Ms Marvel #10
    Punisher #13
    Revival #26
    Rumble #1
    S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
    Scarlet Spiders #2
    Sex Criminals #9
    Shaft #1
    She-Hulk #11
    Southern Bastards #6
    Spider-Verse Team Up #2
    Spider-Woman #2
    Storm #6
    Superior Iron Man #3
    Thor #3
    Wayward #5
    Wytches #3

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014

    Best Headlines of the Year 2014

    So early in the year, I started sharing headlines that I thought were funny and saying "Contender for headline of the year." A friend wondered if I was actually keeping track... so I did.

    So... presented for your approval, the contenders for headline of the year 2014. If I do this again next year, I'll probably leave Gawker headlines out, since those are purposefully exaggerated for linkbait purposes. The Guardian from the UK might also be too good at this.

    As for what caught my eyes (and the eyes of others)? Sex, genitals, murder through unusual means, bestiality, drugs and unusual uses for animals.

    My favorite? I still have to go with the very first one, which is the last one on the list.

    December:
    Husband arrested for attacking his pregnant wife with a McChicken sandwich because "he doesn't like them"

    Snake Thrown in Tim Horton's after diced onion dispute

    November:
     "Cannibal" Eats Woman and then dies after being tasered in Welsh Hotel

    Male SF startup promises to make women's vaginas smell like ripe peaches

    Nude man falls through ceiling at Logan, assaults bystander

    October:
    Nervous Chinese Officials Search Pigeon Anuses for Bombs

    Teletubby Breaks Into Home, Dumps Chinese Food In Purse, Leaves

    Farrah Abraham Dressed Up As Frozen Elsa to Sell Molds of Her Asshole

    September:
    Polygamist women dressed 'like ninjas' attack home of witness in Utah sex assault case

    July:
    Nude Beach Blow Job Jet Ski Fight Leads to Wife's Death

    Kid Rock subpoenaed to produce glass dildo as evidence in Insane Clown Posse lawsuit

    Chubby Checker, HP settle lawsuit over penis-measuring app

    June:
    American Exchange Student Pulled out of Giant German Vagina

    May:
    Captain America Arrested for sending dick pics to teenage girl

    High Elf High on Acid Attacks Woman's BMW with a sword

    April:
    Woman killed with banjos

    Topless Florida Woman Destroys McDonalds, Stops To Eat Ice Cream

    February:
    Police Cite Texas Man In Banana Costume With AK-47 Across His Back

    Norwegian Mass Murderer Refuses to Eat Until Prison Upgrades His Playstation Console

    Man Covered in Jelly Had Sex With Cow While Friend Recorded It

    January:
    German Barn Explosion Caused by 90 Farting Cows

    Woman Pulls Gun from Vagina After Dispute Over Space Aliens: Cops

    Wednesday, December 24, 2014

    Best of 2014 - Top 10 Ongoing Comics

    Image had 7 of my top 10 in this category, with Archie Comics sneaking one in and Marvel claiming the other two. There are also three more Image comics that didn't quite make the top 10. So yeah, it's pretty easy to call Image my favorite publisher. There are two superhero books in this list, 6 sci-fi/fantasy (fudging to include Rat Queens and Manifest Destiny in that latter category), 3 horror (fudging to include Fatale), 1 action/crime (Velvet) and then whatever category Chew is. I suppose you could call it sci-fi... or superhero. At any rate, it definitely fits in the category of comedy, as does Sex Criminals, Rat Queens and arguably Hawkeye.

    Something interesting to me is how many books on this list are on the "also appeals to women" list. Notably Saga, Sex Criminals, Alex + Ada, Velvet and Rat Queens, but every book on this list has a strong female following. I don't know what that says about my tastes, but I think it says something for the health of the market that my top 10 contains a lot of female-friendly titles in genres other than superheroes and that unlike in past years, these are series that are doing well in the market. I'm used to loving series that get cancelled too early, and there was a lot less of that in 2014.

    Interestingly, only one of the series in my top 13 published 12 issues this year, and that's Daredevil. The rest were at about six, eight at the highest. Maybe as a general rule, the monthly grind doesn't produce the best books anymore?

    1. Saga #18-24 (Last year: #1)
    Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to tell the best story in comics. They've built up an expansive cast and fascinating setting, and feel free to screw with reader expectations, often to heart-breaking effect. Like Game of Thrones, Saga is not a series where you want to get too comfortable with any characters, because nobody is really safe. That sense of danger, along with deep characterization that gives a strong sense of humanity to these alien characters, Staples's lush and distinctive artwork and Vaughan's gift for clever dialogue make this the best comic on the stands.

    2. Sex Criminals #4-9 (Last year: #1 on My New List)
    Last year this was shiny and new and shocking and I didn't know where it was going. This year it was more familiar, but still outrageously funny, surprisingly smart and serious at times and still one of the best comics every month. The letters column is almost as good as the comic itself, and I'm glad they decided to collect those as well as the comics.

    3. Daredevil #35-36, 1-11 (Last year: #2)
    Waid wrapped up his run on Daredevil and then immediately relaunched a new series with Chris Samnee on board, relocating Daredevil to San Francisco, and the results have been terrific. Very strong use of a couple of traditional Daredevil villains in untraditional ways, the change of locale has worked out well... next year they're closing out the run, but that's a good long run of pretty consistently great comics.

    4. Afterlife with Archie #3-6 (Last year: #3 on My New List)
    The second half of this one was every bit as good as the first, and the single issue Sabrina vs. Cthulhu a surprising and entertaining change of pace. I sure wish the production was a little faster, as this is pretty much a quarterly book, but I'll take what I can get.

    5. Alex + Ada #3-11
    Didn't make the list last year because I'd only seen two issues. Now that I've seen more, this definitely ranks among my favorite series. Great speculative technology, meditation on the nature of A.I. and the nature of love and life and human emotions. Probably my favorite things the Luna Brothers have been involved with, I don't know if that's co-writer Sarah Vaughn or what, but this is a really great series. It also happens to be the first one in my top five that was closer to monthly.

    6. Chew #39-44 (Last year: #4)
    Big, big things happening in Chew this year. Family Recipes starts positioning the main conflict of Tony vs. the Vampire, and shows us a lot more about Olive Chu, not to mention bringing back Savoy in a major way. And Chicken Tenders just rolls on and builds that momentum. With a year and a half worth of issues to go, this book definitely feels like it's hitting the home stretch. Still plenty of mysteries, but the character arcs are dovetailing nicely, and there's still plenty of room for weirdness and humor, a lot of it in the form of the increasingly present Poyo.

    7. Velvet #3-8 (Last year: #5 on My New List)
    As always with Brubaker's work, I like this more in collected format where the stories and characters are easier to keep track of. I look forward to the first hardcover, maybe in 2015, maybe in 2016? At any rate, this post-Cold War spy thriller remains a favorite book.

    8. Fatale #19-24 (Last year: #5)
    Closing out in fine style... I can't quite rank it higher than previous Brubaker/Phillips collaborations like Sleeper, Criminal and Incognito, but it was an interesting ride that ended before it got too long in the tooth. I'll definitely be picking up the second hardcover.

    9. Rat Queens #4-8
    This one didn't make my best of last year because I hadn't read it yet. Now that I have, I love it for its attitude, its over-the-top humor and its perfect portrayal of fantasy adventurers from every RPG you've ever played, except with female leads instead of the guy-heavy dynamic.

    10. Hawkeye #15-20 (Last year: #3)
    Truthfully, this one has lost some luster with me. Only five issues this year, with a book that really needs to be read closer together to get the full effect, and it seemed like the creative team just kind of ran out of steam. Each issue is still good, but it doesn't have that great charge it had early on, perhaps because Fraction's Sex Criminals feels like a purer version of what it was doing in terms of quirky character-driven storytelling. Still really good, mind you, which is why it's in my top 10, but... not as amazing as it was, which is why it dropped out of the top 5.

    Just outside the top 10: Manifest Destiny #8-12, Lazarus #6-13 (Last year: #6 on My New List) and Revival #17-26 (Last year: #6).

    Best of 2014 - New Comics

    Best New Series:
    Marvel has six of my top 10, three of which feature female protagonists (and only one of which has already been cancelled, although I wouldn't bet on Storm finishing out 2015 either). Image has two new series to add to the 7 in my "new" top 10 and Dark Horse has the other two (you can credit Dynamite for The Shadow, but it's the Grendel part that really got me.)

    Unlike my ongoing series for the year, six of these books were superhero books, with Grendel vs. Shadow and Wayward arguably in that category as well, albeit more modern or deconstructionist superheroes. The Spread is horror, and Usagi is... well, Usagi. Sci-fi flavored this time, I guess.

    1. Ms. Marvel #1-10 (Marvel Comics)
    This book is amazing, as original and fresh as Runaways was at its time. It shares an artist with that fondly-remembered book, Adrian Alphona, whose work here is just stunning, even better than his previous work. And G. Willow Wilson does a great job of making the very specific story of a Muslim teenager accessible and fun to everyone. Then there's the addiiton of Lockjaw, which is like the perfect cherry on top of the sundae.

    2. She-Hulk #1-11 (Marvel Comics)
    Come and gone too quickly. She-Hulk has actually had two great series already, Byrne's fourth-wall-breaking weird '80s run and Dan Slott's equally weird She-Hulk in a legal office run from a few years back. Charles Soule and Javier Pulido have a run that stands right up there with those two, backed up by Soule's legal knowlege and full of weird and fun cases, notably the Latverian case and the run-in with Daredevil on behalf of Captain America. I'm sad to see it go, but glad I have two trades on my shelf to read and reread. (Yes, technically, there's one more issue to come out next year that will finish it, but it was more or less started and finished this year.)

    3. Storm #1-6 (Marvel Comics)
    I can't believe I wanted a solo Storm series, but Greg Pak has nailed what works about the character. From her punk days with Yukio to her relationship with Wolverine to her background in Africa to her relationship with Forge, in these six issues he hits everything while telling interesting, mostly self-contained stories. And the artwork, by Victor Ibanez, Matteo Buffagni and other folks I've never heard of before but will definitely follow from here, is top notch.

    4. Usagi Yojimbo Senso #1-6 (Dark Horse Comics)
    Again, didn't think I necessarily needed to see a match-up of Usagi and his friends in the future versus H.G. Wells's Martians, but... this is so good. As fun as Space Usagi, but dialed more into the characters and their ongoing story arcs, a potential future and finale for Usagi combined with a cross-genre masterpiece.

    5. Amazing Spider-Man #1-11 (and Edge of Spider-Verse #1-5, Scarlet Spiders #1-2, Spider-Verse #1-2)  (Marvel Comics)
    Continuing the trend... if you'd told me I would love a story about interdimensional monsters trying to destroy all the Spider totems and Spider-people from every corner of the multiverse going to war against them, I would have said it seemed unlikely. But the sprrawling Spider-Verse story is a great read, with everything I love about Spider-Man, plus old favorites (Spider-Man 2099, Ben Reilly) and new favorites (Spider-Gwen). That's not even mentioning that Slott's return of Peter Parker to his own body, dealing with the trouble Doc Ock caused him, was highly entertaining as well.

    6. Punisher #1-13 (Marvel Comics)
    The Punisher is one of those characters I don't have an innate fondness for, but I've really liked a lot of the takes on him, from Garth Ennis's violent crime style Punisher Max to Ostrander's Punisher on the run from the '90s. This new take, setting up Punisher in Los Angeles taking on a vicious cartel and their super-powered muscle all while dealing with the spec ops team that is the modern-day Howling Commandos, is another great addition to the Frank Castle canon. Terrific art (mostly by Mitch Gerads with a few notable guest artists in the mix) and writing by Nathan Edmonson.

    7. The Spread #1-4 (Image Comics)
    "What if The Thing spread throughout the world, leading to a post-apocalyptic Lone Wolf and Cub type set up" is the easy pitch on this book from Justin Jordan, who is establishing himself as a unique voice with books like this and Luther Strode, and artist Kyle Strahm.

    8. Spider-Man 2099 #1-6 (Marvel Comics)
    They say you can't go home again, but with a boost from Dan Slott's Spidey stories, Peter David has proven that adage wrong, serving up a fresh and fun take on the Spider-Man of the future currently trapped in our present. The artwork, from Will Sliney and others, also has nicer colors and production than the original '90s run (which was still pretty solid, don't get me wrong, Rick Leonardi's stuff was great and he designed the memorable costume). A surprise treat that has proved an important cornerstone of the Spider-Verse event.

    9. Grendel Vs. The Shadow #1-3 (Dark Horse Comics/Dynamite)
    Matt Wagner's Dynamite work hasn't really had the spark for me of his creator-owned work on Mage and Grendel, so I wasn't sure about this one, but pitting a time-lost Hunter Rose against Lamont Crantson turns out to be just as perfect as when Wagner pit Batman and Grendel against one another many years back.

    10. Wayward #1-5 (Image Comics)
    A must-read for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jim Zub and Steven Cummings are setting up a beautifully realized Japan that digs deep into the supernatural mythology and the real-world culture to make something that feels unique, authentic and fun. And did I mention that the artwork by Cummings is drop-dead gorgeous?

    Just outside the top 10 are all Image books, notably Copperhead, Starlight, Nailbiter and Stray Bullets The Killers.

    New Series That Are Too New To Judge:
    These series are not quite far enough for me to judge them Best New Series yet, but I really like them all, and I can see any of them making my Best Continuing Series next year. Because I don't think it's fair to compare a single issue or a two- or three-issue run to the more extended runs above, I'm ranking these separately.

    1. Batgirl #35-37 (DC Comics)
    2. Birthright #1-3 (Image Comics)
    3. Dungeons & Dragons Legends of Baldur's Gate #1-3 (IDW)
    4. Sabrina #1 (Archie Comics)
    5. S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (Marvel Comics)
    6. Superior Iron Man #1-3 (Marvel Comics)
    7. All New Captain America #1-2 (Marvel Comics)
    8. Rumble #1 (Image Comics)
    9. Bitch Planet #1 (Image Comics)
    10. Wytches #1-3 (Image Comics)
    11. Fade Out #1-3 (Image Comics)
    12. Shaft #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
    13. Graveyard Shift #1 (Image Comics)
    14. Deathlok #1-3 (Marvel Comics)
    15. Hellboy and the BPRD #1
    16. Gotham by Midnight #1-2 (DC Comics)
    17. Kitchen #1-2 (DC Comics/Vertigo)

    Best of 2014 - Graphic Novels

    Best OGN:
    Last year I couldn't slim down to a top 10, this year I couldn't even get to 10. Not as many original graphic novels for me, which makes me think I missed some things. I'll be keeping an eye on others' lists.

    1. Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley
    Such a great follow-up to Scott Pilgrim. It's not as ambitious as a six-volume series, of course, but it's focus and tighter page count make for a story I might like just a touch more (and I love Scott Pilgrim.) O'Malley's art and Nathan Fairbairn's colors work great together, and I love that the story involves cooking and food, since that was one of the flavors of Scott Pilgrim and it's nice to see it move to the forefront a bit more here. A great, realistic messy romance with fantasy elements, very like what I liked about Scott Pilgrim but in no way a retread of it.

    2. Little Nemo Dream Another Dream HC
    This oversized gem, full of tons of great art, was a labor of love that I backed on Kickstarter and I'm so glad I did.

    3. Cleopatra in Space Vol 1
    Been following Mike Maihack's work for years, and I was glad to see his all-ages sci-fi adventure graphic novel come out this year and just live up to all the fun and imagination that you can see in his art.

    4. Rise of Aurora West
    I was nervous about this one, because it's Paul Pope being relatively tangentially involved (it was co-written with JT Petty) and a completely different artist (David Rubin) doing the art chores. As it turns out, I almost like this better than Battling Boy, which it spun out of. Weird, beautiful superhero sci-fi character-driven storytelling at its best.

    5. Amulet Vol 6: Escape from Lucien
    Another great volume in Kazu Kibuishi's Miyazaki-esque sci-fi/fantasy epic.

    6. The Shadow Hero
    A riff on family and pulp heroes by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. Liew is a guy I've liked since his creator-owned work Malinky Robot and My Faith With Frankie with Mike Carey, and he's great here. Yang, meanwhile, just never misses, whether it's his work on Boxers & Saints or his work on Dark Horse's Avatar series.

    7. Shoplifter
    I love Michael Cho's artwork. To be honest, I wish this had been less of a slice-of-life story, a genre that I think is often a little on the bland side, and had a little bit more of the fantastic to it, but... it's a gorgeous book.

    8. Nocturnals Legend
    Almost more of an artbook than a graphic novel, but there are letters and interviews from Halloween Girl throughout that recap and hint at new stories, so... I'll call it an OGN.

    Best Collected Editions:
    On the other hand, last year my list of collected editions was cut off at 25, this year? Almost 40. And I'm sure I missed a few.

    1. Daredevil by Mark Waid Vol 2-3 HC
    2. Saga Vol 1 HC
    3. Ms Marvel Vol 1
    4. Afterlife with Archie Vol 1 TP
    5. Sex Criminals Vol 1 TP
    6. Just the Tips HC
    6. Daredevil Vol 1 TP
    7. Chew Omnivore Edition Vol 4 HC
    8. She-Hulk Vol 1 TP
    9. Lazarus Vol 1 HC
    10. Revival Vol 2 HC
    11. Velvet Vol 1 TP
    12. Rat Queens Vol 1 TP
    13. Manifest Destiny Vol 1 TP
    14. Daytripper Deluxe HC
    15. Jonah Hex Shadows West TP
    16. Avatar The Last Airbender The Search HC
    17. Manhattan Projects Vol 1 HC
    18. Fatale Deluxe Edition Vol 1 HC
    19. Marvel Covers Artist's Edition
    20. Steranko Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD Artist's Edition
    21. Hellboy Artist's Edition
    22. Hellboy First 20 Years HC
    23. Usagi Yojimbo Saga Vol 1 TP
    24. Usagi Yojimbo Vol 28: Red Scorpion TP
    25. Mind Mgmt Vol 3: The Home Maker HC
    26. By Chance or Providence
    27. Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning Vols. 1 & 2 TP
    28. Batman Adventures Vol 1 TP
    29. Nightwing Vol 1: Bludhaven TP
    30. Zenith Phase 1&2
    31. 47 Ronin HC
    32. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind HC
    33. Southern Bastards Vol 1: Here Was A Man
    34. Stray Bullets Uber Alles TP
    35. Escapo HC
    36. Green Arrow Vol 2: Here There Be Dragons
    37. Astro City Vol 9: Through Open Doors
    38. Murder Me Dead
    39. Courtney Crumrin Vol 6 HC

    Saturday, December 20, 2014

    Best of 2014 - Television

    Best Shows (Every Category):
    Note: I know that The Knick probably belongs on this list. I haven't made time for it yet. So fit it in wherever you think it belongs. Also, Ground Floor (TBS) would have made this list but only three episodes aired in 2014, so it really doesn't count for this year. Sleepy Hollow (FOX) fell off because I fell behind, it may or may not wind up on this year's list retroactively. And Doctor Who isn't on here. It's not that I don't like Peter Capaldi or Jenna-Louise Coleman, it's just that the show isn't firing enough for me to consider it a best anymore. It's watchable, it's still on the DVR... but it doesn't belong on a best list.

    In general, this list is the "If I had to cut back to a certain number of shows, based on money, time, etc., this is the list of shows I'd cut first (starting with #37) to shows I'd cut last (starting with #1).

    When we did our "Best Of 2014" podcast a couple weeks ago, I said that Game of Thrones was #9 on my list, but after some reconsideration and favoring personal taste a little over critical acclaim (meaning things like Rectify, Mad Men and Transparent all slipped a bit) I decided this really ranked higher. In fact, it's arguable that it belongs above The Daily Show, but that show has done so much this year that I found important *and* entertaining that I can't quite nudge this any higher.

    Similarly, Flash was #16 when we talked "Best of 2014" but upon reconsideration, and using the "If I had to pick only 10 shows to watch" instead of "What is more objectively critically great" standard, The Flash moves up quite a few notches. I always watch it on the night it airs, it's one of the shows I discuss most with friends and it just hits the marks it's aiming for so perfectly. Great cast, lots of good DC Easter Eggs, but it doesn't *just* offer Easter Eggs, it offers a fun, clever take on the superhero genre. Probably the best superhero show ever done on television.

    1. Fargo (FX)
    2. True Detective (HBO)
    3. Last Week With John Oliver (HBO)
    4. Orange is the New Black Season Two (NETFLIX)
    5. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (COM)
    6. Game of Thrones (HBO)
    7. The Flash (CW)
    8. Mad Men (AMC)
    9. Hannibal (NBC)
    10. The Americans (FX)
    11. Rectify (SUNDANCE)
    12. Transparent (AMAZON)
    13. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
    14. Community (NBC)
    15. Louie (FX)
    16. You're The Worst (FX)
    17. Rick and Morty (CARTOON)
    18. Key & Peele (COM)
    19. Arrow (CW)
    20. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
    21. The Walking Dead (AMC)
    22. Review (COM)
    23. Silicon Valley (HBO)
    24. Inside Amy Schumer (COM)
    25. The Leftovers (HBO)
    26. Justified (FX)
    27. 24 Live Another Day (FOX)
    28. Veep (HBO)
    29. Bob's Burgers (FOX)
    30. The Newsroom (HBO)
    31. Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
    32. Enlisted (FOX)
    33. Married (FX)
    34. The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail  (COM)
    35. A to Z (NBC)
    36. The League (FXX)
    37. Orphan Black (BBCA)

    Best New Show:
    1. Fargo
    2. True Detective
    3. Last Week With John Oliver
    4. The Flash
    5. Transparent
    6. You're The Worst
    7. Rick and Morty
    8. Review
    9. Silicon Valley
    10. The Leftovers
    11. 24 Live Another Day
    12. Enlisted
    13. Married
    14. The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail
    15. A to Z

    Best Comedy:
    1. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
    2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Two
    3. Community Season Four
    4. Louie Season Four
    5. Key & Peele Season Four
    6. Inside Amy Schumer Season Two
    7. Veep Season Three
    8. Bob's Burgers Season Four
    9. The League Season Six
    10. Archer Season Five

    Best Drama:
    1. Orange is the New Black Season Two
    2. Game of Thrones Season Four
    3. Mad Men Final Season
    5. Hannibal Season Two
    6. The Americans Season Two
    7. Rectify Season Two
    8. Arrow Season Three
    9. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two
    10. The Walking Dead Season Five
    12. Justified Season Five
    13. The Newsroom Season Three
    14. Boardwalk Empire Season Five
    15. Orphan Black Season Two

    Best Ensemble:
    1. Fargo
    2. Orange is the New Black
    3. Transparent
    4. Game of Thrones
    5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    6. You're The Worst
    7. Veep
    8. Mad Men
    9. Silicon Valley
    10. Rectify

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Best of 2014 - Restaurants

    I am way less foodie than a lot of my friends, and I'm not qualified to give a list of objective best restaurants in Austin.

    However, I did eat out well over 50 times this year, so I've got no problem offering up my top 10 favorites. Not necessarily because they're the best, but they're the ones that hit that sweet spot of accessible, affordable *and* delicious enough that I went there numerous times during the year.

    1. Michi Ramen
    2. Sushi Nini
    3. Noble Sandwich
    4. Chuy's
    5. Jack Allen's Kitchen
    6. Torchy's Tacos
    7. Easy Tiger
    8. Lucy's Fried Chicken
    9. PizzaRev
    10. Haymaker

    Monday, December 01, 2014

    Monthly Update - November 2014

    Comics I Read And Liked:
    Alex + Ada #10
    All New Captain America #1
    Amazing Spider-Man #9-10
    Batgirl #36
    Birthright #2
    Captain America and Mighty Avengers #1-2
    Capture Creatures #1
    Chew #44
    Copperhead #3
    Daredevil #10
    Death of Wolverine Weapon X Program #1
    Deathlok #2
    Dungeons & Dragons Legends of Baldurs Gate #2
    Fade Out #3
    Gotham by Midnight #1
    Grendel vs. The Shadow #3
    Hack Slash Sons of Samhain #5
    Kitchen #1
    Lazarus #13
    Punisher #12
    Revival #25
    Scarlet Spiders #1
    She-Hulk #10
    Spider-man 2099 #6
    Spider-Verse #1
    Spider-Verse Team-Up #1
    Spider-Woman #1
    Storm #5
    Superior Iron Man #1-2
    Usagi Yojimbo Senso #4-5
    Velvet #8
    Wayward #4
    Wytches #2

    Resolutions Update:
    1. More games - Up to 20 with Roll Through the Ages Iron Age, King of New York and Telestrations.
    2. We're mostly accomplished here, aside from one or two that fell by the wayside. All that's left is to stay under 200 lbs. Currently at 194-195, and holiday eating threatens to wipe this one out at the 11th hour. We'll see.


    Where I Ate This Month:

    1. Sushi NiNi
    2. PizzaRev
    3. Chili's
    4. Terry Black's BBQ
    5. Kin and Comfort
    6. Torchy's Tacos

    Saturday, November 01, 2014

    What I'm Watching - November 2014

    Sunday:
    Bob's Burgers (FOX)
    Simpsons (FOX)
    Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
    The Walking Dead (AMC)
    Last Week with John Oliver (HBO)
    The Newsroom (HBO)

    Monday:
    Star Wars Rebels (DISXD)
    Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
    The Daily Show (COM)

    Tuesday:
    New Girl (FOX)
    The Mindy Project (FOX)
    Flash (CW)
    Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
    About A Boy (NBC)
    The Daily Show (COM)

    Wednesday:
    Arrow (CW)
    Modern Family (ABC)
    The League (FXX)
    Top Chef (BRAVO)
    Key & Peele (COM)
    The Daily Show (COM)

    Thursday:
    A to Z (NBC)
    The Daily Show (COM)

    Friday:
    Constantine (NBC)

    Saturday:
    Doctor Who (BBCA)

    Sunday is usually the best night on television, but with HBO down a bit right now (waiting on the return of Game of Thrones, True Detective, Veep and Silicon Valley), my favorite night of TV during the fall is probably Tuesday. It offers up the superhero one-two punch of the much-improved Agents of SHIELD and the hit-the-ground-running (no pun intended) Flash. Fox's two comedies are losing me a touch on that night, but they both provide some laughs.

    Wednesday is the second-best night, with Arrow, Top Chef and Key & Peele always getting near-live viewing.

    Not that Sunday is bad. Bob's Burgers and The Simpsons are both funny, sometimes very funny, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is probably my favorite comedy on TV right now and Walking Dead, three episodes into its fifth season, seems to finally have a consistency it lacked for the first four seasons. And Last Week Tonight is always great TV.

    Stacking up on the DVR right now are Sleepy Hollow (always enjoyable, but better in binges), Modern Family (losing me a little, and mostly something I watch with my daughter) and About A Boy (likely to get deleted in favor of watching Blurays/playing videogames instead). Soon to go are A to Z, which will leave a pretty empty Thursday. Not sure Constantine is going to make the cut.

    Network-wise, FOX clearly has my attention with 6 shows (7 if you count FXX), while ABC and NBC are quickly canceling themselves to CBS territory... although as long as ABC has SHIELD, they'll have at least an hour this Marvel Zombie will watch.

    If I were a cord-cutter, and had to choose networks, I could get by with HBO, FOX, FX, CW and Comedy Central. Including everything I watch, I'd sacrifice only Agents of SHIELD, Star Wars Rebels, Top Chef, Doctor Who, Rectify, Parks & Rec (ending this season anyway), Hannibal and Orphan Black (or, more likely, buy those episodically from Amazon Instant), Hmm. No wonder the networks are nervous. If a TV fanatic like myself could easily cut down to two broadcast networks and three cable nets, what are the casual folks watching?

    Monthly Update - October 2014

    Comics I Read And Liked:
    Alex + Ada #9
    Amazing Spider-Man #7-8
    Arrow Season 2.5 #1
    Axis Hobgoblin #1
    Batgirl #35
    Birthright #1
    Copperhead #2
    Daredevil #9
    Death of Wolverine: Logan Legacy #1-3
    Deathlok #1
    Dungeons & Dragons Legends of Baldur's Gate #1
    Edge of Spider-Verse #5
    Fade Out #2
    Flash Season Zero #1
    Green Arrow #35
    Grendel vs. The Shadow #2
    Little Nemo Return to Slumberland #2
    Manifest Destiny #11
    Ms Marvel #9
    Q2 Return of Quantum & Woody #1
    Rat Queens #8
    Sabrina #1
    Saga #24
    Sex Criminals #8
    She-Hulk #9
    Spider-Man 2099 #5
    Starlight #6
    The Punisher #11
    Usagi Yojimbo Senso #3
    Wayward #3
    Wytches #1

    Resolutions Update:
    1. Read at least 12 books. Book books, without pictures. Finished off the 12 with Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale, and then book 13, Devil Red by Joe R. Lansdale.
    2. Spend time with as many of my friends as possible, as much as possible. Went to friends' boardgame night, played Firefly (three times) and Terra Mystica, organized a bachelor party, went to a wedding, played several Pathfinder sessions. I feel like I've more than accomplished this one.
    3. Play at least 12 new board/card games this year. I hit 12 last month, so now I'm running up the score. This month was Firefly the Game, Terra Mystica, Night of the Grand Octopus, Geek Out! and Tsuro.
    4. Stay under 200 lbs. I seem to be hovering around 192-194, even though some trips to Trader Joe's and a little more fast food made their way into my diet this month. I guess the yogurt for lunch plan is mostly working.

    Where I Ate This Month:

    1. Sushi NiNi
    2. Mi Pizza
    3. Culver's
    4. Baton Creole
    5. Salt & Time
    6. Frank
    7. Casino El Camino (for the last time ever... cooks are hostile assholes)
    8. Easy Tiger
    9. Chuy's
    10. Michi Ramen
    11. Hula Hut
    12. TNT Tacos and Tequila
    13. Jack Allen's Kitchen

    Wednesday, October 01, 2014

    Monthly Update - September 2014

    Comics I Read And Liked:
    Amazing Spider-Man #6
    Chew #43
    Copperhead #1
    Daredevil #8
    Edge of Spider-Verse #1: Spider-Man Noir
    Edge of Spider-Verse #2: Gwen Stacy
    Grendel Vs. The Shadow #1
    Hack/Slash: Son of Samhain #3
    Hawkeye #20
    Lazarus #11
    Legendary Star-Lord #3
    Manifest Destiny #10
    Ms. Marvel #8
    Nailbiter #5
    Rocket Raccoon #3
    Saga #23
    She-Hulk #8
    Spider-Man 2099 #3
    Spread #3
    Storm #3
    Stray Bullets The Killers #7
    Stumptown V.3 #1
    Superior Spider-Man #33
    The Punisher #10
    Usagi Yojimbo Senso #2
    Velvet #7
    Wayward #2

    Resolutions Update:
    1. Read at least 12 books. Book books, without pictures. Nothing this month, but I've got three more months to read 1 more book, I think I can get there.
    2. Spend time with as many of my friends as possible, as much as possible. Lunches with friends, boardgame night, several role-playing game nights, lots this month.
    3. Play at least 12 new board/card games this year. Made it, with three months to spare. The twelfth game was Sentinels of the Multiverse, which I'd heard of but never really looked into, and I dug it so much I wound up buying it. Still hoping to play Takenoko, Firefly and/or Red Dragon Inn before year's end.
    4. Stay under 200 lbs. The "diet" continues to slip, as I added a few desserts and snacks back into the mix this month. And slacked off on exercise. But still below 200 lbs., so technically this is still an accomplished goal.
    5. Travel. With October looking insanely busy, I have accepted that my travel is probably done for the year. There will be a Dallas trip at some point during the holidays, I'm sure, but than that... New Orleans will have to wait for 2015.

    Where I Ate This Month:

    1. Sushi Zushi
    2. Sushi NiNi
    3. Chuy's
    4. Haymaker
    5. El Alma
    6. Dang Banh Mi
    7. NXNW
    8. Torchy's
    9. Fork + Taco
    10. Michi Ramen

    Monday, September 01, 2014

    Monthly Update - August 2014

    Comics I Read And Liked:
    Alex + Ada #8
    Amazing Spider-Man #5
    Avengers Undercover #8-9
    Black Widow #9
    Cyclops #4
    Daredevil #7
    Elektra #5
    Fade Out #1
    Hack/Slash Son of Samhain #2
    Imperial #1
    Lazarus #10
    Legendary Star-Lord #2
    Little Nemo Return to Slumberland #1
    Manifest Destiny #9
    Ms. Marvel #7
    Multiversity #1
    Nailbiter #4
    Revival #23
    Rocket Raccoon #2
    Saga #22
    Sex Criminals #7
    She-Hulk #7
    Spider-Man 2099 #2
    Spread #2
    Starlight #5
    Storm #2
    Stray Bullets The Killers #6
    Supreme Blue Rose #2
    The Punisher #9
    Trees #4
    Usagi Yojimbo Senso #1
    Wayward #1

    Resolutions Update:
    1. Read at least 12 books. Book books, without pictures. I "read" Orange is the New Black in audio form, so I'm gonna count that. Puts me up to 11 books in 8 months.
    2. Spend time with as many of my friends as possible, as much as possible. This one I'm definitely hitting better than any of the others. Boardgame nights, role-playing games, karaoke, the One of Us Fest of Us event, dinners and lunches out, lots of socializing this month.
    4. Play at least 12 new board/card games this year. Up to 11, so I'm feeling pretty good about this one. Played Roll Through The Ages and had a great time. Also played Smash Up, which I've played before once so it doesn't count as new, and made plans to play Red Dragon Inn soon.
    5. Stay under 200 lbs. The "diet" continues as I mostly do yogurt and granola for lunch and have cut back a lot on desserts and snacks. Combine with walking, and I'm somewhere between 192 and 194 lbs. (that's another 2-3 lbs. down). According to my pedometer, I walked 94.6 miles this month, which averages out to about three miles a day.
    6. Travel. I'm still hoping to fit in a New Orleans trip. I did take a drive up to Dallas for work (and to visit family) and a drive down to San Antonio to take Katy to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

    Where I Ate This Month:

    1. Jack Allen's Kitchen
    2. Sushi NiNi
    3. Chuy's
    4. Michi Ramen
    5. Torchy's Tacos
    6. Garbo's Lobster
    7. Noble Sandwiches
    8. Mi Dia (in Dallas)
    9. Szechuan House

    Stuff I Podcasted:

    1. TV Dudes - TV News, Last Week With John Oliver, Arrow Season 2, Hate-Watching,  and more!

    Friday, August 01, 2014

    Monthly Update - July 2014

    Comics I Read And Liked:
    Afterlife with Archie #6
    Amazing Spider-Man #1.3
    Avengers Undercover #7
    Chew Warrior Chicken Poyo #1
    Daredevil #0.1
    Daredevil #5-6
    Elektra #4
    Fatale #24
    Guardians of the Galaxy Most Wanted
    Hack Slash Sons of Samhain #1
    Hawkeye #19
    Lazarus #9
    Legendary Star-Lord #1
    Manifest Destiny #8
    Ms. Marvel #6
    Nailbiter #3
    Rat Queens #7
    Revival #22
    Rocket Raccoon #1
    Saga #21
    She-Hulk #6
    Spider-Man 2099 #1
    Storm #1
    Stray Bullets The Killers #5
    Supreme Blue Rose #1
    The Punisher #8
    The Spread #1
    Trees #3
    Usagi Yojimbo Color Special
    Velvet #6


    Resolutions Update:

    1. Don't die. Just to reiterate: Still accomplished
    2. Read at least 12 books. Book books, without pictures. I read City Primeval by Elmore Leonard, which brings me up to 10 books in 7 months. I also set a goal for myself to read 52 books, including graphic novels, in 2014... I hit that in mid-July, so maybe I'll aim for the equivalent of two books a week. Also joined a friends' Reading Group on Facebook, which is encouraging me to do more reading.
    3. Spend time with as many of my friends as possible, as much as possible. Check. Big visit out to Colorado, outings to the Thinkery, 24: Live Another Day viewing party, boardgame night, rejoined my old RPG group for biweekly Pathfinder and plenty more. 
    4. Play at least 12 new board/card games this year. I was falling behind on this one, but I played an old school boardgame, Escape from Colditz, in Colorado, and had a boardgame night where I played The Resistance, Shinobi Wat-AAAH! and Cards Against Humanity, which brings me up to 10 for the year.
    5. Stay under 200 lbs. I was at 202 at the beginning of July, so I've put myself on a diet... ish. Basically trying to eat lighter lunches, cut way down on soda, eat out less, cut down on carbs and snacking and exercise more to get below 200 again. I've been walking the dog most every night, using a pedometer to try and hit about 5 miles of walking every day. As of this writing, I'm at 196 lbs.
    6. Travel. I packed the family into my parents' Honda Pilot and drove us up through Colorado Springs (where we visited old friends) to Denver to have a self-selected high school reunion with old friends and then Fort Collins to visit some college friends. I'm still hoping to get to New Orleans before the end of the year.

    Where I Ate This Month:

    1. Beaujo's Pizza
    2. Il Vicino
    3. Larkspur Burgers
    4. Big Texan Steak Ranch
    5. La Cosina Cafe
    6. The Good Night
    7. Jack Allen's Kitchen
    8. Dang Banh Mi
    9. Iron Cactus
    10. Sushi NiNi

    Stuff I Podcasted:

    1. TV Dudes - Married, You're The Worst, The Strain, Simpsons, Rockford Files, Orange is the New Black, The Emmys and more!