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Gratuitous Best of 2015 List

It’s the last day of the year!!!

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source: kittypill.tumblr.com

2015 hasn’t been the worst year yet for me, so hopefully that means 2016 will be pretty rad too.

Today, I thought I would reflect on the year in popular culture and bring you the same list that everyone else is doing at this time of the year, but with a twist… My Top Ten is filled with games, TV shows, and movies. Next year, I hope to add books to the list, but that’s a topic for another blog. 😉

I’ll precursor this list with a bit of further information. Some items on my list (namely, the video games) have not been finished, but from watching others play it or from my own brief experience, I felt they deserved a spot on the list. Additionally, items that I have not played or watched in any shape or form will not be included on this list. So if you’re looking forward to my thoughts on the final season of Mad Men or my feelings on Hateful Eight, I’m going to have to disappoint you. For TV shows, it is based 100% on this year’s season.

So without further ado…

10.

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Source: giphy.com

Earlier in the year, when Bethesda teased that there was a new Fallout coming, I couldn’t actually imagine that they would release it in the same year. I was incredibly excited by what I saw and knew I would buy it as soon as it was out. And for the 10+ hours of play, and another 20+ watching others play it, I’m still pretty hapy with that purchase. I know I could spend 200+ hours on it, and sadly, I haven’t been able to play anywhere near enough of it. But from everything I have seen and done, this game is well worthy of being on my list. It even beat out a few fantastic movies and TV series to mae it here.

The game is not the most polished, and the clunkiness that we have all known from Bethesda’s facial simulator is still there. But the gameplay and the story sell it for me. As an RPG Shooter, it is second-to-none. Boss battles feel epic and legitimately take a lot of strategy to defeat. I can’t wait til I have time to finish it.

9.

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Source: whymrdarcy.tumblr.com

Kingsman: The Secret Service

When I saw the trailer for this movie, I wrote it off almost immediately. I  didn’t bother seeing it at the theatre, because I was certain it was going to be horrible. I’m so happy I was wrong, though. This was such a fun movie, and deserves to be on any top ten list. It was a sleeper, sure, but once you sit down to watch it, you can see that everyone had fun making it. Between Samuel L Jackson’s hilarious lisp, Colin Firth’s charisma, or the quirky James Bond tropes, there is a lot to love about the movie.

8.

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Nothing too sleeper about this next one. The Martian has had some ridicule about the whitewashing in it, but I still genuinely enjoyed this movie. I’m a big fan of Matt Damon, but I also enjoy watching a movie that treats the female characters in the piece right. Jessica Chastain is a force to be reckoned with, and I love seeing her show up a few times this year. Also, Kate Mara is always a joy to watch. I’ve loved her since the first season of House of Cards. Chiwetel Ejiofor was his amazing self, as well, and I would love to see him be a male lead some day.

I haven’t read the book, so I cannot comment on how they handled the adaptation. I do want to get a chance to read it sometime. It’s on my list for next year. It was a clever piece of fiction, with the right amount of science to make it believable.

7.

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source: giphy.com

I’ve played all of the Witcher games. Sadly, I have not finished a single one yet. I believe I will with Witcher 3, because it’s just by far the best of the series. What I love about this is the lore. I have desperately wanted to read the entire Witcher anthology, but I have heard that the games do an amazing job of adapting the books. The Witcher has great combat, and the fantasy elements are strong but not overbearing. Geralt of Rivia is such a fun character to watch and be, and I think that is what makes the games so great. You don’t even have to play the other two games to enjoy this one, either, as there is just enough lore and information for the newbie out there.

6.

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source: giphy.com

Crimson Peak

I love a good ghost story. I’ve written a few now, and they are tons of fun to think about. But I’m a sucker for seeing it unfold on the big screen. One of my favourite horror movies is titled Ghost Story. It’s been a long time since I have been able to say that I enjoyed another outright ghost tale as I did that one, and that was made in the early 80s.

Crimson Peak did that. I’ll admit I have a crush on Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain (see above), but mostly I enjoyed this simply because of the atmosphere of it. The house itself is a character, and I wanted to explore every inch of it with the heroine. The story was moderately good, and the acting was top-notch. But the true hero is the directing, art direction and cinematography. del Toro may have missed the mark slightly on his writing, but he never fails in those three areas. We need more good ghost stories.

5.

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Marvel’s Agent Carter

The next three choices were the hardest to pinpoint. I knew 1 & 2 for a certainty, but there was a lot to love about these three, as well. Agent Carter was on at the start of the year, and it was easy to forget that it even started this year. I was incredibly impressed with this show. I was a little worried at the beginning, as it had a couple of rough starts, but seeing it through to the end was worth it.

Characters from both Captain America movies show up in the series, and they are integrated perfectly. There doesn’t seem to be a second where you don’t believe they aren’t the exact same people as the ones seen in the movies. Hayley Atwell is incredible in the part, as well, and I just love watching her show off her sharp wit and physical strength against all of the chauvinistic men in her office. I really look forward to Season 2.

4.

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source: giphy.com

Before this series came out, I had never heard of Jessica Jones. I’ll admit it; I’m not a comic book geek. So you’ll have to forgive my ignorance. When I watched the trailers, though, I was deadset on watching the series. I enjoyed Daredevil earlier this year, and it looked just as dark and realistic as that had. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was enthralled. I finished the series in two days. Then I watched the last few episodes again with my husband. The first half of the season was slightly stronger than the last, but I was hardly disappointed by any steps they took. It introduced several different origin stories, as well, and made it seamless. Also, Killgrave has to be one of the best villains in recent memory (and I thought nobody could top Kingpin and Loki). I certainly have no desire to control people’s minds after watching it.

3.

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source: giphy.com

Without a doubt this movie had to make the list. In fact, I’m a little sad it isn’t even higher. I wish I had been conflicted about it. I nearly placed it at 5th, because in a lot of ways Jessica and Carter both affected me in different ways to this one. However, Star Wars tugged at the nostalgia I have for the original trilogy. I was overcome with emotion when the movie started and the scrolling text appeared on the screen. The elements of the original series were there, and somewhat of a crutch for the movie. There were missteps a plenty, but I was not dissatisfied. I walked out with more questions than answers, and I felt a bit cheated in parts. Buuuttt…. it’s headed in the right direction. And Abrams did a fantastic job bringing it back to life. Here’s to more BB-8, too! 😀

2.

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source: giphy.com

The year is 1979, and this is Minnesota & North Dakota. The events are real – not fake in any way. Or fake in every way. Because the Coen Brothers agreed that Fargo was not a true story, but the series continues on with the same premise. This season was incredible. I was surprised to see that they could almost top the previous season, which I thought was some of the best storytelling I’ve seen in recent TV. The actors this year were amazing, too, with Kirsten Dunst, Bokeem Woodbine and Patrick Wilson as stand outs for me.

There were even hilarious moments that reminded you that it was really not a true story, and probably the best deus ex machina in TV history showing up in the penultimate episode. Heaps of laughs from the dark humour makes this perhaps one of the best series I’ve seen ever. Watch it. Really. I can’t emphasise enough how great it is.

 

Now comes the part where I tell you that there are too many great shows and movies and games this year. So here are the Honourable Mentions: Jurassic World, Daredevil, Mr Robot, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Inside Out, and you’re thinking, well, just get to the point already. What’s number 1? And if you’ve made it this far, then kudos, bro, because you’ve probably made it further than my own family. 😉

So without further ado…

Numero

Uno

Is….

….

  1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

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source: giphy.com

I was asked the other day what my top 3 favourite action movies of all time were. To which I replied (quite emphatically):

Number 1 will always be, and thereby the movie in which I judge all action movies – Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  Number 2 is Mad Max: Fury Road.

Seriously, this movie was such an ephemeral experience. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more. The signature over-the-top action, with giant set pieces in the middle of barren wasteland with characters that have no moral high-ground and vehicular manslaughter made for one of the best movie going experiences I have had in memory.

The story is just about obsolete, but I didn’t go in expecting Hamlet. What I was surprised with was the acting. Charlize is amazing, and I love me some Tom Hardy. He is so underrated. The action, cinematography, effects and sound editing are all so incredible too.

The more I think about it, the more I want to stop writing this post and go watch it again. In fact, I think that’s on my to-do list for tomorrow now. Thanks, blog. haha

 

And there you have it. My completely unnecessary and somewhat convoluted attempt to write a top ten list about pop culture for 2015. I have just under 6 hours left of the year, and I expect that in 6 hours I will still feel that way about this list. haha

HAPPY NEW YEAR, BLOGGERS! 

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Stop Calling It New Year Resolutions, These are Lifestyle Changes

I hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas/Happy Holidays! This year has been an especially good year at Christmas for me. I spent time with family, opened amazing gifts, and spent time with friends, as well. I know that not everyone is capable of having such a fulfilling holiday, so I sincerely hope it was good for you in other ways. I feel supremely blessed that I have so many in my life I can share it with.

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We know how to celebrate our geekiness

The subject of many an article this week will be on New Year Resolutions. Some labelled, “Love the New You in the New Year” or something else equally lame. Today I thought I would look at the reverse of this. I’m very Anti-Resolutions. Why wait for a new year to start something you should start today. Especially if you’re resolved to lose weight or learn to love yourself or learn the bassoon. Honestly, those are all good things. Except the bassoon one. Because your woodwind instrument of choice should be the flute or oboe. 😉

Let’s call these changes Lifestyle Changes, because if you resolve this year to lose weight and then put on the weight again, you haven’t really gotten the point of the exercise (pun definitely intended). A lifestyle change means that you are steadfast to lose the weight and keep it off. I did that once, and I felt great. I was happy and healthy and then I injured myself and spent a year wallowing in self pity and then another year recovering from a long term chronic condition and now wishing I hadn’t spent two years eating and doing what I want because now I have to spend another year getting rid of the weight. (Run-ons can kill, kids.)

Make Time

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found at popsugar.com.au

Today, I woke up and decided that I need to seriously consider the changes I need to make to my life. I keep using the words, “When I find time,” but in all honesty, it should be “I will make time.” And that’s the key to success in many areas of your life. Every self-help book talks about how you “make time” for whatever the topic is. Such as Make Time For You or Make Time to Fish or Make Time to Knit. There are far too many out there to name, and I’m already bored reading them all.

The issue is that no one has just that one thing they want to do, and it’s easy to just throw your hands up in the air and say fuhgeddaboudit! And then the resolve turns another broken promise to yourself. Been there, done that. It gets old fast.

So how do we make time?

List Your Priorities

Before we can even decide what it is you want out of this “make time for”, you need to figure out specifically what is important to you. My list will look something like this:

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My shoes are purdy!

  1. Health & Fitness – if I don’t improve this fast, I won’t be around long enough for #2.
  2. Writing/Blogging – I need to write like I need breathing already, but I fail at spending enough time honing my craft. To a lesser extent, blogging goes with this.
  3. Reading – because if I don’t read, I’m not providing myself the tools to write.
  4. Friends – a little low on the list, but still something I should work on.
  5. Gaming – video and board games are kind of family time around my place too.
  6. Crocheting – because it’s calming.

Your list will look completely different to mine. You may find that as you list your priorities, you will be surprised by some of the things that come to mind. Now you have your list, as long as you want to make it. The next step is to list the things that you may spend too much time doing.

List Your Distractions

I have a lot of these, so my list can be fairly lengthy. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, either. Knowing your detractors helps you to find where your time deficit is. Some distractions cannot be helped or managed, so listing them may not mean you can do anything about them.

  1. Mobile Games – I play way too many too often. I fill the gaps of my life with it, and even spend time doing it while I’m watching stuff.
  2. World of Warcraft – this is separate to gaming, because it’s more of a time sink, and I spend hours on it some days when I should really only spend less than an hour a day tops.
  3. YouTube – I’ve gotten better at this one. Now I have it on in the background when I play WoW, but sometimes I spend hours watching crap after crap when I could spend that time doing anything else.
  4. Surfing – I spend a lot of time surfing the web for innocuous tidbits of information. Even worse is if I read an article of some kind, I may spend ages reading all of the comments.
  5. Social Media – separate from surfing, because it gives me even less information that I actually need. I actually open Facebook and Twitter on my phone around 20 times a day. That’s absolutely retarded.
  6. Watching TV – I watch shows, and I do not consider this wasting time, because it’s one of my joys. However, separate to that is just watching news and other stuff that lets me switch my brain off. During this time, I could be crocheting, but instead I watch and play on my phone at the same time. So much wasted time.

So these are the main culprits, and account for sometimes roughly 3-5 hours a day that I could be using for other things. I think it is important to keep some things going, but reducing the time that I spend doing this.

So now we know what we want to do, and what we do. Now it’s time to “make time” – this is not finding time, because we’ve already found it with our list of distractions.

Write a Schedule/Calendar

For me, I’m considering making a calendar and a schedule. After a while, the changes will become habits, and eventually the hope is that I will no longer need the schedule because the changes will be just like breathing, a necessity. Writing schedules soothes me, so I find that it helps a lot. But I am different from others, and your schedule or calendar making may just be notes plastered on your fridge or around your desk. Or a list may help. Whatever works for you.

Here’s a rough idea I have for my own:

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I don’t count the weekends in my scheduling, but if I find that I end up with a lot of distractions on the weekend, then I will start looking at it. It makes more sense to schedule your work week, because you’re already on a set schedule for those days. That leaves the weekend to throw away your routined existence. 🙂

Nevertheless, from this point forward, my plan is to have a Tuesday and Friday blog post. My first series will be a continue on from one I wrote earlier this year, which was the best written movies per decade. It’ll start on Tuesday next week. This Friday, I’ll see how the schedule goes and see if there’s something further I should be adding to the mix.

Here’s to a lifestyle change, and not a “resolution!” 😉

A Gift from the Heart – a microstory

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“Do you like it, Mummy?”

Her eyes raise from the box to me. “I love it!”

“It’s what you wanted, right?”

“It’s perfect!”

Her manicured hands were vermilion as they clutched at the contents.

“Her heart will look great in the foyer!”

 

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Writer’s Guilt

Other than the microstories and that other flash fiction story I wrote last week, I haven’t done much in the way of writing. (btw, anyone who had hoped to vote for my story in the microstory challenge will be disappointed to know I was disqualified this week, because I wrote in present tense, and therefore missed the object of the prompt “What were you singing?”) This morning and last evening I have, though, between watching shows. So I thought I would look at the why of missing out on almost 2 weeks of writing.

I have no real excuse. While my husband was away for a week, I wanted to spend some quality time with my puppy, so that meant watching shows. I’m officially caught up now, and it’s a good feeling to know that there is so much fantastic writing in TV now. It makes me wish I had pursued my film degree if only to have been able to write teleplays.

Last week, I started and finished Jessica Jones, and it was incredible. I thought Daredevil was actually quite well done, and straight away, you get this sense that the two shows are quite similar. But the villain in Jessica Jones is far more frightening and refreshing, since there was no real “You should feel sorry for me” moments. He does what he does because he enjoys it. The only issues I had with the show was the inclusion of a character that was just annoying during every scene she was in. Not quite sure what her real purpose was.

On the flip side, I caught up on season 2 of Fargo, as well, and what a stark contrast it is to Jessica Jones. It’s clever and hilarious and doesn’t really miss a beat. There are no moments that don’t mean something. There are no erroneous characters, and every actor in it has a breakthrough scene. Kirsten Dunst is the standout for me, but just about everyone has been incredibly talented. If only because they get that accent down perfectly.

I also watch Grimm, Flash and Arrow, and while they are all more of a guilty pleasure, then a watch-for-great-writing, they have done a fabulous job this season with their relevant “season baddies.” Walking Dead has always been hit and miss, and this half of the season has had a few issues. But it’s been better than a lot of the seasons before it. And Scorpion is just fun to watch and make fun at its ridiculousness.

Nevertheless, I still have a pile of shame of shows I need to catch up on, but the next three days are going to be about writing. Today my goal is to reach the 2k mark on my book. Tomorrow, I want another 3k done. Then Sunday, I have a editing pow-wow session with my friend on book 1. Time to get stuck into this series and try to get both ready for publication by the end of 2016! 🙂