2015 Gift Guide: Favorite Items Purchased in 2015!

 

Sylvania Portable DVD Player SDVD7027-C, 7-Inch, Swivel Screen, Black

  • Widescreen color 7 inch TFT -LCD display swivels up to 180 degrees
  • Plays these formats: DVD, DVD+/-RW, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 music burned onto CD-R/RW, JPEG photos burned onto CD-R/RW;
  • SD memory card slot for playing MP3 music or showing JPEG photos, or playing MPEG4 videos
  • Includes; AC power adapter, vehicle power adapter, A/V cable, carrying bag, remote control
  • Rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, built in stereo speakers
  • Includes; Car Straps, AC power adapter, vehicle power adapter, A/V cable, carrying bag, remote control, stereo earphones

 

Yep I know this is the age of streaming and Itunes and Netflix, and I’m a huge consumer of Netflix and Amazon Prime and Hulu for casual or seeing what’s out there viewing (which to be fair is the bulk of our viewing and listening), but not as a replacement for hard media such as CDs and DVDs/Blu-Rays. Streaming is good for discovering things you like or dislike, and for introducing you to things you love, but once introduced I want to buy those things in the best quality possible, and in a form not dependent on weather, or broadband speed issues, or the impermanence of streaming shelf life… to enjoy.

I actually bought more CDs this year than the last few years, and this was because of streaming introducing me to must have bands like SONS OF SERENDIP and THE HEAVY as well as a bagful of the best mastered stereo cds. And I bought as many DVDs and Blu-Rays this year as well, due to getting introduced to films I adored coutesy of streaming and just having to have them in the most permanent and highest quality form available, including commentary and director’s commentary. I love Director’s Commentaries!

Needless to say I don’t use my portable for Blu-Rays ( I have a stand-alone player for that), but I find it great for Cds particularly and DVDs, when you want to watch or listen with headphones. The CDs sound better than MP3s, and you can use it anywhere. For $50 it was a no-brainer of a purchase in 2015.

 

 

Alpine Red Finish Encapsulated Base 18/10 Stainless Steel Whistling Tea Kettle Pot

Alpine Red Finish Encapsulated Base 18/10 Stainless Steel Whistling Tea Kettle Pot

 

“I did my research. I wanted a kettle; with a handle that would not burn my hand when pouring, had a large enough opening to be able to clean inside, would not rust, and was stylish. This stainless steel kettle filled the bill. The handle is comfortable and not hot to pour at any angle. The bright apple red looks is a pleasant touch for my kitchen and has been pain free to use.”

—Jeanette G. @ Amazon

Alpine Red Finish Encapsulated Base 18/10 Stainless Steel Whistling Tea Kettle Pot

 

ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher

ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher

One of my favorite purchases of 2015. I’ve used lots of filters, in terms of ease and features and lifespan, and particulate removal… this is my main filtration device. Highly Recommended!ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher

 

ONEHOPE California Reds III Wine Mixed Pack, 3 x 750 mL

ONEHOPE California Reds III Wine Mixed Pack, 3 x 750 mL

Enjoy!

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GREAT 2015 Art Books to get before the end of the year!!

 

The Art of Horror: An Illustrated History

Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness

 

 

Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions

 

 

Hello, Here I Am

 

 

Hall of History Bermuda’s Story in Art

 

 

Gustave Dore 1832-1883: Master of Imagination

 

 

 

American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen

 

 

MOST INTRIGUING BOOKS READ in 2015!

thetroop

THE TROOP- “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old school horror at its best. Not for the faint-hearted, but for the rest of us sick puppies, it’s a perfect gift for a winter.” –Stephen King. Stephen King is asked to give a lot of blurbs, and he gives a lot of cover blurbs, not all of which I agree with. This quote… I agree with. Short, choppy chapters makes the book easy and compulsive reading. Strongly Recommended.The Troop

darkcompanions DARK COMPANIONS- A simply essential 2012 compilation of the best horror stories of one of the best writers of the horrific and strange… Ramsey Campbell. Not all the stories are homeruns, NAPIER COURT in particular is a disappointment, but the successes of this collection outweigh the false notes. Stories such as MACKINTOSH WILLY, DOWN THERE, HEADING HOME,PROXY,OUT OF COPYRIGHT, THE INVOCATION, THE PATTERN, THE COMPANION are well worth the price of admission.

murderatcapethreepointsMURDER AT CAPE THREE POINTS (A DARKO DAWSON Mystery)- Kwi Quartey’s Ghana based mystery is a welcome change from the Swedish and Norwegian Noir that’s arguably over saturated the American market.Murder at Cape Three Points (A Darko Dawson Mystery)

TRASHED – by Derf Backderf is a biting, quirky, slightly deranged and beautifully drawn graphic novel, about a slacker who stumbles into the job of trashman. Trashed

BLACK COOL ONE THOUSAND STREAMS OF BLACKNESS -a collection of disarming essays about the varied experiences and definitions of Blackness. Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness

beatthereaperBEAT THE REAPER – Josh Bazell’s debut novel from 2009 is one of the most brilliant and enjoyable things I read in 2015. Alternatitely funny, and action packed. Beat the Reaper: A Novel

HOW BEST TO AVOID DYING – Owen Egerton’s story collection is an assortment of odd, weird, and deeply strange tales of characters at the far edges of precarious places. Delightly disturbed stories. How Best To Avoid Dying: Stories

watsonandholmesWATSON AND HOLMES A STUDY IN BLACK – A graphic novel riff on Doyle’s Holmes and Watson by Karl Boilers, Brandon Perlow, Paul Mendoza, Rick Leonardi, and Larry Stroman. Very entertaining pastiche to the Holmes mythos. Watson and Holmes – A Study In Black

halfaninchHALF AN INCH OF WATER – 2015 saw the release of this long awaited follow-up short story collection by prolific and superlative writer Percival Everett. Half an Inch of Water: Stories

foreigngods
FOREIGN GODS- Nigerian born writer Okey Ndibe’s FOREIGN GODS, INC quickly found a place among my must owns of 2015. Foreign Gods, Inc.

2015 Podcasts the Year in Review: Old Favorites ended and New ones discovered

 

Looking back over the ten year history of this blog I’ve praised my share of podcasts, and seen quite a few shuffle off this mortal coil.

2015 seemed to be a volatile year, with many of my long standing podcast favorites either no longer releasing episodes on a regular schedule or hanging up their mics.

Among some of the great ones that seem to be on hiatus or done are:

 

  • HORROR ETC
  • SIDEBAR

 

 

All of these shows are and were great, and will be missed. And join other great departed podcasts such as:

 

  • INDIE SPINNER RACK
  • GEEK SYNDICATE
  • MONDO MOVIE
  • FREQUENCY OF FEAR

 

But I completely understand, these podcast and blogs, while dearly loved, require HUGE expenditures of time and energy, and sometimes… life gets in the way. And considering most of these podcasts are not a revenue stream, it is understandable that when the effort exceeds the rewards… it’s time to stop doing it. What is amazing is that some of these shows have gone as long as they have.

All that said, you may or may not still find old episodes online. I recommend grabbing them if you can. SIDEBAR particularly interviewed some great artists, and for those interviews to be not easily accessible, seems… a loss.

INDIE SPINNER RACK  had the best interviews with both Alan Moore (One of the greatest and most influential writers in the comics/graphic novel medium – it is a crime that companies, marvel and dc, are releasing books missing his name , and shorn of his insightful interviews. the reasons for this are both well documented and trivial. yes, alan moore can be something of a bridge burner, but his brilliance makes him worth the effort to mend those fences. when he passes off this mortal coil, as we all must, no one wants to be remembered as the company that stole his characters, and froze him out of work. pay alan moore and get him at least authorizing director’s cut versions or writer approved versions of his most celebrated works. it’s one of the reasons i will not part with my swamp thing paperbacks, it is because later introductions are devoid of his introductions, which are as entertaining and informative as his stories. )

and Stephen Bissette (Who remains to this day, with his run on swamp thing, one of the greatest and most influential artists to work in the medium).

 

So the above are the podcasts lost in 2015. Here are some select podcasts enjoyed in 2015:

 

Head over to the German Music Magazine GROOVE and pick up two of the best mix tapes of 2015:

 

DECONSTRUCTING COMICS – anytime you get the chance to hear Stephen Bissette speak, take it. Not only one of the great superstar artists of the 80s with his game changing work on Swamp Thing, but simply an informed, erudite speaker on a number of topics.. including the history of horror and cinema. This Sept 2015 podcast is a recommended listen. They also have an episode of huge interest to any fan of either Edgar Allen Poe or Richard Corben. They also offer a Transformers episode that offers reviews on recent transformer comics.

 

 

THE DOLLAR BIN (Also a show that appears to be on indefinite hiatus) had a couple intriguing episodes in 2015, one covering HIP HOP FAMILY TREE, and one with Golden Age artist Allen Bellman:

 

And if these guys really are  done producing new shows, some of their classic shows that you want to get, while avaiilable, are:

I grew up on Steve Englehart comics and you don’t get today’s sophisticated comics, without first going through him. One of the first to help transition comics from kids entertainment to college and beyond entertainment.

Not one, but two interviews with one of the most elusive, and one of the most talented and innovative writers in comics, Christopher Priest (His SPIDERMAN VS WOLVERINE remains one of the joys of my collection, as well as his excellent run on BLACK PANTHER and QUANTUM AND WOODY).

 

A Bob McLeod interview (Made important because Bob McLeod’s work on the NEW MUTANTS is burned into my brain. That fight with the New Mutants and the Sentinels in a mall, blew my mind as a kid. And as an adult, those images still define for me what great artwork and storytelling should be.)

So quite a few of my favorite podcasts slowed down or completely stopped in 2015. However when one door closes another, as they say, opens.

So some podcasts I started listening to in 2015, and have added to my subscriptions are:

 

  • THE COMICS ALTERNATIVE- Their monthly preview episodes helped me all last year put in my monthly comics order
  • INKSTUDS- Interviews with Comic Book  Creators… some really indispensable interviews.
  • READING LIVES- Interviews with Writers… LOVE IT.
  • WTF- I think without argument the most listened to and successful podcast, with guests from  comedians, musicians, actors, and now a sitting president, Marc Maron out of his garage has created podcast as both high art, and passionate conversation.
  • FILMSPOTTING:SVU- Reviews for the streaming age
  • GILBERT GODFREY PODCAST – I do not find Gilbert Gottfried funny, but his knowledge and love for classic film and television, means he interviews people I want to hear, and he has had some GREAT gustd this year. Thankfully co-host Frank is there to get the podcast back on track when Gilbert starts amusing himself and no one else
  • FAT MAN ON BATMAN- Kevin Smith’s love for the creative process and all things Batman… is an addictive listen
  • HOUSE TO ASTONISH – A comic book podcast from across the pond

AND WRAPPING UP MY 2015 REVIEW, WANT TO GIVE ACCOLADES TO SOME OF MY FAVORITE, AND LONGEST RUNNING PODCASTS THAT ARE STILL GOING STRONG. ALL AWARD WINNING PODCASTS (they all won my Welles Award a few years back, and in my mind have been award winners every year since):

  • CGS – Comic Geek Speak -one of the oldest podcasts, and with great losses, and welcome additions, still an eagerly awaited listen
  • 11′ OCLOCK- One of the most informative and jam-packed and fun of any podcast. The chemistry these three have… works.
  • B-MOVIE CAST – Love this podcast on classic, crazy, genre cinema. Wonderful chemistry between the hosts.

Well folks, that is the podcast scene here as 2015 ends and 2016 takes the stage. Please use this list to see what was special about those shows we lost, and to jump aboard and support those we still have.

Thanks for reading and be well!

FAVORITE (and least) Netflix and Amazon Shows Discovered or Watched in 2015!!

GREAT

 

  1. DAREDEVIL
  2. RIPPER STREET Season 1,2
  3. AGENTS OF SHIELD Seasons 1, 2
  4. HOUSE OF CARDS Season 1,2,3
  5. STRIKEBACK Seasons 1,2
  6. WALLANDER
  7. ARROW
  8. FLASH
  9. CHOPPED
  10. IRON CHEF AMERICA
  11. TOP GEAR
  12. LONGMIRE
  13. PENNY DREADFUL
  14. HEMLOCK GROVE
  15. AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ASYLUM (Season 2 of the series works in a way that Season 1 and 3 does not)
  16. PERSON OF INTEREST SEASONS 1-3 (The mid season break, episodes 9 to 11 of Season 3 are great television, with the preamble to Episode 11 being one of the great moments of tv I saw this year. On Par with BABYLON 5’s NO HIDING PLACE and HELL AND BACK’s )
  17. GRIMM SEASONS 1-4
  18. JESSICA JONES
  19. ROSEWOOD
  20. THE PLAYER
  21. BLACK LIST
  22. THE GOOD WIFE
  23. ALONE (This History Channel story is one of the few ‘Reality’ shows that I considered must watch TV in 2015)
  24. KEY AND PEELE
  25. CLONE WARS
  26. SMALL SPACE BIG STYLE
  27. MARON
  28. SHARK TANK

GOOD

 

  1. SUPERNATURAL SEASONS 1-10 (Seasons 6 -onward, lose steam and are in the solidly Don’t Care for Pile)
  2. ZOO
  3. TRANSPORTER Season 1 -2
  4. BANSHEE
  5. MARY JANE
  6. HELL ON WHEELS (1ST 3 seasons are great, 4th season isnt)
  7. DOOMSDAY PREPPERS
  8. STAN LEE’S SUPER HUMANS
  9. RECTIFY
  10. AMERICA’S GOT TALENT

 

DIDNT CARE FOR

 

  1. SENSE8
  2. BITTEN
  3. CONTINUUM
  4. PARALLELS
  5. JUSTIFIED – I have tried to like this show, but it just fails to captivate in any way

    A painting is always quite moral when it is tragic and it gives the horror of the things it depicts.

    – Barbey d’Aurevilly, opening caption, Les Diaboliques

  6. VIKINGS– The above quote sums up my moralistic  issue with shows like VIKINGS and HANNIBAL and DEXTER that want to retrofit horrendous monsters as heroes. The VIKINGS  sent drugged to the gills raiding parties to rape and pillage and impale and enslave anything they found. They would bash childrens heads againt walls, so they were very not nice people.  So to have a show that white washes this and paints the vikings as in touch with their feelings, profeminist superteam good guys, is an issue for me.  Akin to having a show called NAZIS, that paints them as a band of people you should root for. The filmmaker in doing this thing, this prettifying of monsters, fail’s the test of Barbey’s definition of morality… they fail to give the horror of the things it depicts.
  7. HANNIBAL – I love Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER, it is the first and best of the many cinematic Thomas Harris adaptations, and the rare movie that transcends the book.  SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was a worthy follow-up, but the films went down hill from there. And now we have the TV show. Like Vikings it is visually stunning, but like Vikings it is morally untenable.

 

Shows in GREEN I watched via Netflix, in Orange AMAZON PRIME and in Purple via Free Digital Antenna or applicable free Roku Channel!

 

 

2015 YEAR IN REVIEW: FAVORITE ARTISTS

Favorite artists discovered in 2015!

With 2015 about to wrap up my mind goes to some of the illustrators/artist that really made my radar in 2015.

Two that I met at a regional art show and who I have bought prints off of, whose work continues here at the end of the year to captivate me; are: Edwin Lester and Phil Kutno.

You can see for yourself what grabs me about each artist’s work. The below images are copyright the respective artists, and if you like what you see I highly recommend you visit the artists respective sites, tell them this blog sent you, and grab yourself some affordable and stunning prints or originals. Now onto the artists:

EDWIN LESTER

edwin_lester-who_is

el220151206_174305

el120151206_174237

PHIL KUTNO

kutno2-350x350

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What’s Leaving NETFLIX this December that you should watch or purchase before it’s gone!


una-noche

UNA NOCHE – A lushly photographed look at young Cuba prior to the return of Capitalism. While many extol the economic virtues of Capitalism’s return, including one of the protagonists of this film seeking to escape Cuba for Miami, I think this film shows you (as background, not main story)the fragile multicultural stew and unity that Cuba has managed, and that will arguably be lost when Capitalism/Colonialism returns.

Shorn of the 60 year old blockade, Cuba will be able to get new cars, and new technology, and new infrastructure, but that comes at a very steep, and very historic price. It comes at the price of also accepting America’s and Capitalism preferred vices, of rule by division, and stratification based on color, and loss of cultural and local and familial touchstones and interdependence.

Cuba of the coming dawn, is poised to trade its minor corruption of getting a radio or tv, for the big time corruption of gentrification and rule by corporations. This debut film by Lucy Mulloy is a wonderful slice of Cuban Neo-Realism, and in its way as interesting as its Italian neo-realist forbears, such as the brilliant ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS.

rocco-and-his-brothers-poster

roccoposter

Get both movies here:

Una Noche

Rocco and His Brothers [Masters of Cinema] [Non-USA Format / Region 2 / PAL UK import]