favorite films of 2015

1. Youth
2. Furious 7
3. Magic Mike XXL
4. Hello! Junichi
5. The Martian
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
7. Unfriended
8. It Follows
9. Spotlight
10. The Big Short

Also: Creed, The Peanuts Movie, the dance scene in Ex Machina, and the actual functioning park in Jurassic World

I'm a sucker for when foreign directors make English-language films, as sometimes the dialogue and acting turn out wonderfully odd (see also: Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights). Italian director Paolo Sorrentino already contributed with 2011's This Must Be the Place but now he's back with Youth. Polarizingly weird and featuring a wide fascinating array of characters and moments, I found it all to be really quite serene.

As for the others: I enjoy them all thoroughly, for various reasons.

'TORQUE' OF 2015 (unfairly maligned)

Some Like It Hot at the Cinema Odeon Firenze

Mad Max: Fury Road Japanese trailer 

FAVORITE TV OF 2015 (alphabetical)
Community - "Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television"
Doctor Who - "Heaven Sent"
Gravity Falls - "Not What He Seems"
Last Week Tonight w/ John Oliver
Lucha Underground
The Late Show w/ Stephen Colbert
Parks & Recreation - "Leslie & Ron" & "Donna & Joe"
True Detective - "Black Maps & Hotel Rooms"

Until Dawn & NASA's new discoveries on Pluto

favorite pro wrestling of 2015

1. Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo (Lucha Underground 6.17.15)
2. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kota Ibushi (G1 Climax Day 7)
3. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (Wrestlemania XXXI)
4. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)
5. Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii (G1 Climax Day 16)
6. Son of Havoc, Ivelisse, & Angelico vs. The Crew (Lucha Underground 2.8.15)
7. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi (Wrestle Kingdom 9)
8. The New Day vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (WWE Payback 2015)
9. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin (G1 Climax Day 18)
10. Seth Rollins vs. Neville (Monday Night RAW 08.03.15)

Also: the heel presence of Tetsuya Naito, any promo involving Kevin Owens or The New Day, & Kalisto's Salida del Sol off a ladder

It was a pretty great year in pro wrestling: despite their continually peculiar booking, WWE has humanized their deep roster with shows like Table For 3 and the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel. NXT continues to be pretty much perfectly booked. New Japan Pro Wrestling finally became available in the U.S. on NJPW World.  PWG (and Jack Evans in particular) had a fantastic Battle of Los Angeles tournament. CHIKARA now has a female grand champion. And El Rey's unique Lucha Underground is indie wrestling at its finest.

And in case you were wondering what makes pro wrestling so special:
 Mike Quackenbush's "The Art of Pro Wrestling"
Max Landis' "Wrestling Isn't Wrestling"


favorite music videos of 2015

Action Bronson - "Actin Crazy"

Carly Rae Jepsen - "Run Away With Me" (Choose Your Own Emoji Adventure)

Childish Gambino - "Sober"

Fine Print - "About You" (NSFW)

Grimes - "Realiti"

Justin Bieber - "Children"

Kendrick Lamar - "Alright"

Life Sim - "IDL"

Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney - "Say Say Say" (2015 Remix)

Modest Mouse - "Coyotes"


lone wolf

The unusual Lone Wolf series initially saw release in 1984, created by Joe Dever and Gary Chalk. Not only was it Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, but also incorporated RPG elements with skills and items that carried over between the books. I ran across their re-releases that began in 1995 and most definitely did not follow the established rules.

A total of 20 books focused on the Lone Wolf character, with a number of following spin-offs and sequels. Highlights, from what I can recall, encompass the original 12 titles (the Kai and Magnakai sections).

Project Aon currently has the titles available for free online.







find your fate: Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones has a peculiar history of secondary entertainment. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles debuted on TV in 1992, featuring a 93-year old Indy narrator discussing historical educainment adventures of his 8 and 16-year old incarnations. There were also a plethora of novels, based on both the Young tales and the Harrison Ford version (one curiously titled Indiana Jones & the Philosopher's Stone). My favorites, though, were Bantam's Choose Your Own Adventure-y Find Your Fate series. Complete with rather incredible artwork, the reader played the role of Indiana's kid sidekick who had a penchant for making all of his decisions for him.

There was also an Indiana Jones Micro Machines line in 1995.


who killed mr. boddy?

I never played Clue the correct way as a child, but instead invented new rules. In each room on the game board would be placed one weapon. Every character piece would be placed at the front door, and it would be a mad dash for everyone to rush to the rooms, grab a weapon, and try to kill the other guests. The weapons had different ranges of damage - for instance, for the rope and knife, the weapon-brandishing character had to be one square away from their victim, while the wrench, candlestick, and lead pipe were two squares, and the revolver was unlimited squares as long as it was in line with the victim.

I don't recall ever playing this version with anyone else.

Around 1996, I was collecting Scholastic's series of clever mini-mystery books based on Clue that provided nice companions to the classic movie. The covers remain quite memorable, so here they are (save for #15 & 16, The Vanishing Vampire & Danger After Dark).










First Rites

For an indie movie fan/aspiring filmmaker in the late 1990s, First Rites was a godsend. This series of first films by new directors - created by Australian distributor Tribe Enterprises and the Asylum  - were carried exclusively by Hollywood Video, lining their walls to the extent that I'm instantly nostalgic when seeing their VHS covers. I think Green was my favorite of the bunch, though I can't recall much of the others.

First Rites' history later became a bit peculiar as the series died out, Hollywood Video tanked, and the Asylum gave up on indie cinema in favor of schlock direct-to-video mockbusters. I guess that says a lot about the 1990s no-budget indie scene.

Anyway, here are some First Rites covers.