Fall Games (I like sports!)

Ok, so I’ve been a lifelong sports fan. No surprise there. However, my excitement for certain sports kind of ebbs and flows depending on a multitude of variables. Are we competitive this year? Is there a particular player I’m excited about (oh Jimmy Gobble, how I miss thee)? Have I/will I be able to attend any games? Is there any new storylines throughout the season? The list goes on. Some years I’m overflowing with excitement for some sports, other years I keep a passing interest.

There have been some constants; win or lose, I’m invested in how the KC Royals do. I try my hardest to attend at least one Sporting KC game a season. I make it a point to receive updates on the Chiefs. I’ll always keep myself involved in KU bball. Yet, of the four I’ve mentioned, KU, SKC, and the Royals are the only ones who I have consistent rabid interest in, year over year. That will continue, but this fall, some other sports have (for some reason) come forward as my main focus during the cold months.

Since the NBA championship of 2015, I’ve gotten back in to NBA ball. I think that has a lot to do with where I was while that series was going on. The Golden State Warriors were on their way to winning their first title in years w/Steph Curry leading the charge. I was actually in San Francisco and Oakland at the time for work. So when I was done for work for the day, I made it a point to head to a bar or restaurant where the place would be packed with Warriors fans. It was a bit awkward at first; I was usually walking in wearing a Royals hat or shirt and the previous World Series was won by the Giants over my Royals in Game 7…in KC. I thought at first I would get razed pretty hard and eventually they would forget about it. Turns out, I was wrong. In a good way.

The first night I went to watch a game I found a high top table, kept my head down, ordered some nachos and beer, and prayed I would be left alone. 5 minutes later, I get a tap on the shoulder, and the following chat happened:

Me: Yeah?

Stranger 1: You from KC?

Me: Uhm, yeah, just in town for work…

Stranger 2: Cool! We went to KC for the WS and just gotta say, you guys are a great fanbase! And the town was pretty awesome!
(Side note: In San Fran, KC is considered a “town”, not a city)

Me: Thanks…(cautious, waiting for the razing to start)

Stranger 1: While we’re glad our Giants won, we’re pulling for you guys this year! You guys deserve a title!

Stranger 2: Let us buy you a beer!

And the night continued to be a great time of us cheering for the Warriors, reflecting on the best moments of the 2014 WS, and bonding on how much we all hated Joe Buck. Sadly, I don’t recall their names, otherwise I would have made it a point to stay in contact. The reason I bring this particular story up is because I realized something that night with the Warriors fanbase; they were a lot like the us. For a long stretch of time they had struggles and embarrassments. They would see hope and then have it squandered away. Then, some “young bucks” get on the team with a new coach (Mr. Steve Kerr, my 2nd favorite Bull of all time) and there is a sudden culture change. An air of positivity is surrounding the team. And finally, they are in the Finals competing for a championship. I could relate, especially in 2015.

Since then, my interest for the NBA has come back. I mean, in the early to mid 90s, pro bball was my jam! I was a Jordan fanatic (I still¬†have my red Jordan jersey!) and I could not get enough of the Bulls. But once Jordan retired for a 2nd time(!), I started to walk away from the sport. There was this time where I thought there wasn’t anyone for me to follow. Even when Jordan came back for a 2nd time(!), I couldn’t enjoy it. He was a shell of his former self. I mean, yeah, he’d have flashes of brilliance, but it wasn’t the high-flying, tongue-wagging Jordan of yesteryear. His best days were far behind him and I just couldn’t enjoy it. He finally retired (for real!) after the 2003 season and I too stepped away from the game. Even the arrival of “King James” didn’t bring me back; heck, it probably pushed me further away from the game. Everyone was claiming how he was the heir apparent to the throne Jordan had vacated years ago and it just made me mad. “How dare they say that! There can be and will be only one His Airness!” I would scream at the commentators on Sportscenter.

Then when Lebron bolted Ohio for Florida I knew then I would never enjoy pro ball again. The era of the “Super Team” was upon us. Boston did it, Miami did it…hell, last year Golden State did and now OKC has done it. Yeah, the Spurs and Mavericks were the anomalies who found success by just having great coaching and good all-around teams, but most championships were going to whoever could sign the biggest all-stars. And another thing…wait, I’m gonna save that for another post at another time.

Where was I? Oh yeah, San Francisco 2015. After having spent some time with those fans and being reminded how fun cheering for an NBA team can be, I started following again. I was in an interesting position because while I did feel a slight connection to the Warriors, I really didn’t have a team I could call “mine.” So I would watch or keep tabs of games that had interesting matchups or fascinating storylines. During the playoffs I would be watching for a great series from both teams rather than picking sides. Then when the 2016 Finals ended and the Cavs finally earned that first ring, I realized I gotta start picking a team. Because I saw how amazing it was as a Warriors fan to win a title (and experienced as a Royals fan when they took the WS in 2015), I knew I needed to find a fanbase I could connect with. But who? Do I want to stick with the Warriors since I kind of already have a connection to them? Do I give Lebron a chance in his twilight years? Do I invest in “the process” in Philly and cheer on the young upstarts they got over there (where KU is represented)? I’m not sure. But I will say by the All Star break I hope to have it figured out.

What other sport has caught my interest? Well, Cycling of course…

What, no one believes that a big guy like me can enjoy a sport like cycling? Why I outta…ah, forget it. Back on track.

I don’t remember what exactly got me interested in cycling. I know part of it was my sis-in-law who does triathlons so that’s part of it. I just remember I found an old bike in my shed and I started tinkering with it, trying to get it back in to riding condition. I started doing research on what I needed to do and I fell in to a YouTube hole on cycling. Several hours later, I was overflowing with information about the sport and bicycles. I learned about things like Trek bikes, “sportives”, and a “peloton.” I was blown away by the fact that cycling can be a team sport and that there is a ton of strategy involved. I ended up going and watching replays of this year’s Tour de France and would get lost in the spectacle of it. So now I’m all in. I plan on devouring the rest of the UCI season, maybe even forking over the money for the NBC Gold package to watch all of the various championships and tours. I’m saving up for a Trek Verve 1. I’m attending cycling classes until then to build up my strength and conditioning. I’m gonna dive in and make some memories.

And with the cycling, I promise I’m going to do as much updating as I can on it. I’ll tweet, I’ll use instagram, Facebook, and this blog to share my ups and downs. I hope that’ll keep me on track for both blogging and riding.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

J

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I miss my games… Pt. 1

Before someone becomes a parent for the first time, you never truly appreciate your free time. For realsies. Before our kiddo came, I didn’t understand the amount of time that I had at my disposal. I mean, there were times were I used the free time well but most of the time it was a missed opportunity.

There was one constant though. Board games were a frequent occurrence in my free time. Didn’t have plans after dinner? Let’s play Smash Up!¬†Got a free afternoon? How about Big Trouble in Little China Legendary? Got a whole day free? D&D Temple of Elemental Evil!¬†Our free time always consisted of either a movie (on Bluray or at the theater) or a board game.

That all changed when the kiddo came. And yes, family/friends and every parenting blog/newsletter I read said your free time would disappear, but like many parents it isn’t until that kid is born that the truth of that statement hits you. Don’t get me wrong, this is not me complaining about my kid being a time suck (not true in the slightest), because every second I spend with the kiddo I cherish. But this is me acknowledging that time spent on my hobbies is much harder to come by. It wouldn’t be so hard to find time to do my hobbies with just the kid; throw in jobs that require us to drive 35-40 minutes one way, demanding ungodly hours, and a lot of physical/mental demands, it makes getting home and having a game hit the table the last thing I want to do because A) I just want to sit on the couch and cuddle my kid, B) the kid’s bedtime routine needs to start shortly after we get home, and C) Other home responsibilities usually demand our attention as well.

The wife and I have discussed this at length. We both miss the thrill of a new game or an old favorite hitting the table. We made a promise while we were expecting the kiddo that we would make boardgaming part of our routine so that the little one grows up with table top just being part of everyday life. The community aspect, the critical thinking, the imagination needed to play games…all will be a benefit down the road. So, we are taking steps to put games back in to our daily lives. It’ll require a couple of steps to make it happen. We’ll plan/meal prep more, so we can just grab our dinner and not have to spend most of our evenings cooking. We’ll have the little one at the table with us, taking it all in. My sis will join our many tabletop adventures, as that gives her time to spend with our little one and she can also scratch her boardgame itch. One day out of the week will be a day focused entirely on working on the home so we can have more free time throughout the week.

These changes will allow us to finally hit the table with some of our games we have yet to play since we got them (Star Wars: Rebellion I’m looking at you!) But something even more exciting, it’ll allow us to finally play several games that we’ve been craving to play. What are they? Well, I’m glad you asked….

To Be Continued

Hello dear friend…I’ve missed you.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m sorry I’ve been away. Life has been crazy busy. I let everything else take priority and you got pushed to the side. I feel really cruddy about that. Hopefully, someday, I can make it up to you. Let me start by feeling you in on everything that has happened since we last spoke in February of this year.

  • Our baby was born!
    • Since the birth, we’ve had some health scares with the little one. A good handful of ER visits. At least one several night stay at the hospital. But Peanut is doing good now.
  • I started a new job!
    • This job is pretty awesome but requires a lot of my time between May and August. But the rest of the year it’s pretty chill filled with team building, planning, and leadership training.
  • Surprisingly, I haven’t seen very many films this year. I think maybe two? That’ll change in the off season but besides a select handful, I think my summer blockbuster viewing will be taking a hit.
  • We’ve had a run of bad luck over the summer; our little one’s health, then our health, then the car went out, and then our basement flooded…twice! But we’ve kept our heads up, looking at the positive, and pushing through.
  • I am sooooooo close to being done with the edit of Dead Hearts! I just need a day or two to wrap things up. Yet, I can’t find the time due to the previously mentioned issues as well in addition to the time parenting and the new job takes. In a few weeks my work season slows way down and I’ll finally be able to take two days off in a week, back to back, and that’s all I’ll do.
    • Once I finish the final cut, I’m sending a copy to everyone who helped with it. I’m going to book a private screening for everyone to attend. I’m going to apply for a bunch of film festivals. I can’t wait!
  • I have a bunch of new ideas for my next film project, but before I just dive in to those I’m doing some self education. Working on learning the 3 Act structure, what rules to follow (or break), adding depth to my writing, etc. Once I have that down, I’ll feel more comfortable and confident on actually putting my ideas in a script.
  • I’m working on several podcasts with various folks that hopefully will premiere later this fall! More details to come!
  • I’m back on track with my health; I have a pretty solid routine where I do the same stuff throughout the morning and mid-day. Oatmeal w/1 tablespoon of PB, vitamins for breakfast. Apple for first snack. If I’ve been active, I’ll have an Elevation bar (from Aldi.) Lunch is a Lean Shake w/some string cheese. Afternoon is a protein bar and/or apple. Dinner is where I struggle. Sometimes I rock it, others not so much. But I had my food prep containers arrive this week so I’ve prepped several nights in a row of chicken and green beans. All I need to do is pop them in the microwave and viola! Dinner is served. I like this routine I’ve started because that means I only eat meat in the evening, for one meal. I’m trying a “reducetarian” approach to my eating (click the link for more info.)
    • I plan on including 3 days at the gym with daily walks w/the fam and dogs to help improve my overall health. I also hope to run a 5k at the end of October. I do miss those!
  • With the flooded basement, we’ve kind of kickstarted redoing our house. We were going to wait a bit but we feel now is the best time to do it, while we have the momentum (even if it was spurred on by a horrible incident.)
    • We have plans for each room, with themes for each. But before we do anything inside, we have to protect the outside. So we have to re-grade the dirt around our house, put rocks down to keep it there, pull a bunch of foliage/shrubbery from the fence, tear down the fence, put an new fence up, etc. Once we complete that we’ll move to the inside.
    • On the inside, the thing I’m most excited for…we are doing a theater room downstairs! After we’ve flood proofed it of course :D. More deets on that to come!
      • One cool thing we’ll do down there is we’ll adorn the walls w/alternative movie posters. I got a few in mind I’m gonna put up but I to do like a rotating thing where every few months I switch out the posters. If we host movie nights w/friends we’ll put up relevant posters. Lots of things we can do with them! I’ve really started to dive in to that art/design scene and the wife said we could go to MondoCon next year! Can’t wait!

That’s about it for now old friend. Don’t worry though, I’m not leaving ya. I have a feeling things are about to change. You’ll be seeing me a lot more around these parts pretty soon. See you soon!

Keepin’ it Geeky,

j

“This is gonna take cracker jack timing, Wang”

I’ve been debating doing ¬†a weekly (or bi-weekly) film review of films I love (or hate) or possibly films I’m seeing for the first time despite how long it has been out. Like a classic 1980’s flick that has flown under my radar or a small, indie film that came out 2014. I think it’d be fun. While I won’t have any great insight to a film (there are lots of folks who know film and pop culture way more than I) it would provide some interesting challenges to myself, such as:

  • Do I write a blog or shoot a video about it? Do I use this as an opportunity to work on my skills in that area?
  • Do I focus on just what I like or dislike about the film? Or do I give some history about ¬†it?
  • What films should I consider? Should I take suggestions?
  • Do I keep this fairly private? Or open it up to the world, putting myself at risk for trolls?

All tough questions. But I do know this…I will do this in some form and I am going to try and have my first review posted by 2/17. And I already know what movie that’ll be…

Biggest Film Disappointments 2016

So a little over a week ago I posted about my top 10 films for last year. If only those had been the only releases in 2016. There were some major disappointments that not only t0ok advantage of my hard earned cash, but also wasted my time. There wasn’t a ton of agreement on my top 10, but I’m fairly certain this list will be very agreeable.

Note: Even if a film is on this list of disappointments, that does not mean I didn’t find it enjoyable or something in there to like. It just means my expectations were not met. 2

Star Trek Beyond – Dir. Justin Lin, Written by Simon Pegg, Doug Jeng

star-trek-beyond

Of all of the films on this list, this is the one I didn’t expect. As they were announcing the team behind this entry in to the¬†Star Trek film universe, I was pretty happy. Simon Pegg as the screenwriter (love that guy) and Justin Lin as the director (who has produced some pretty enjoyable work.) JJ was still involved as a producer and Idris Elba was cast as well. Everything was looking aces…and then that first trailer dropped. It was like a punch in the gut as disappointment came crashing down on me. Even Pegg spoke out about how crappy of a trailer it was. Yet I still held out hope that it was just crappy marketing and was not an actual reflection of the film’s quality. Turns out the trailer was actually pretty accurate.

Don’t get me wrong, I that the crew of the Enterprise were more than fine. There were some fun action beats. I liked idea of pairing Bones and Spock together for a large chunk of the movie. But everything else just felt…rushed. Rushed as if it was a TV show having to make an episode every seven days. That impression was so strong that the first thing I said to my wife as we left the theater was “I would have enjoyed it so much more if that had been the conclusion of several episode arc on a Star Trek tv series.” Sometimes what was born on TV, should stay on TV.

Independence Day: Resurgence – Dir. by Roland Emmerich, Written by over 5 screenwriters

I was not surprised this one was a disappointment at all. I full anticipated that it wouldn’t be a “quality” movie (this was a Roland Emmerich movie after all) but I was surprised on how it wasn’t a “fun” movie. The first film in this franchise is no brains, all fun (I still get chill’s during Bill Pullman’s “Independence Day” speech.) This one was still all brains, but the film forgot to be fun too. I was promised a fun, spectacle from each trailer that dropped…that’s not what we got. Now, there is a kernel of an idea in this film that I actually really liked and would have enjoyed seeing explored in another movie, but I highly doubt we’ll get that chance.

Suicide Squad – Dir. by David Ayer, Written by David Ayer

Ok, so where to start on this one? The first glimpse we got of this film told us we were in for a ride. It made us feel this was going to inject some life and fun in to the DC cinematic universe. Harley Quinn finally coming in to live action? Jared Leto coming on board as Joker (riding the high of a recent Oscar win)? Will Smith playing the badass assassin Deadshot? David Ayer directing, who’s film¬†End of the¬†Watch¬†blew me away? Sign me up! And when still’s started dropping I was feelin’em. I thought they were pretty creative while still being fairly close to the comics (I particularly loved how they a direct translation of Katana’s look.) While I had issue with the lack of clothing for Harley (not because I was offended, but because I felt it could undermine the character) I was still on board. And then…the Joker picture. Oh man. That picture. It was at that point I felt the movie was in trouble. I know Leto wanted to go a new direction, away from previous incarnations, but there is something to be said with those other versions; they all worked. They all captured the core of what the Joker is. Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and Heath Ledger (I’m also going to include Mark Hamill) provided a different shade to the same character.

But Leto decided to go “F*** that” and do whatever he wanted. His interpretation of the character had little to nothing to do with the Joker of the comics; it was like a meth addict who was trying really hard to be a crime kingpin who was always going to a Halloween party who threw temp tantrums like a 12 year old who kept losing at Call of Duty. Needless to say, he ruined the whole experience for me. And I haven’t even begun on the crappy editing, story structure problems, tone issues, horrible antagonist choice, logic questions, etc. But I don’t have the time. Just know this: This movie has a crap ton of problems.

X:Men: Apocalypse – Dir. by Bryan Singer, Written by Simon Kinberg

This one hurt. After the amazing¬†X-Men: Days of Future Past (which was tightly directed, written, and edited) I was riding high on my love for X-Men. With this film and¬†Deadpool as well, 2016 was looking to be a banner year for the X-Men cinematic universe. And the trailers and promotional materials had ¬†a few bumps (the purple Apocalypse controversy), but still managed to muster up excitement. I was so ready to declare this the best X-Men movie yet (as well as the most accurate in regards to looks; yay for comic accurate costumes!) but that isn’t what happened at all. The film lacked a soul; it was lifeless and paint by numbers. It was almost as if Bryan Singer and Co. didn’t really care about what they were making; they just wanted to meet a deadline. Oscar Isaac was wasted as the Apocalypse and the movie spent way too much time retreading old ground with the main trio (Lawrence, Fassbender, and McVoy.) It offered nothing we hadn’t seen before in this film universe and at about the halfway point I was begging for the movie to end. It was, for a lack of a better term, just plain boring.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Dir. by Zack Snyder, Written by Chris Terrio and David Goyer

If there was any movie on this list that HAD to deliver, it was this one. Announced to much hype at SDCC several years ago, this film was being portrayed as the epic of all epics in regards to comic book movies. Batman AND Superman in a film together for the first time? Loosely based on The Dark Knight Returns? This has the makings of something great! I was willing to give Snyder some leeway since A) I actually enjoyed MoS and his other big comic book film Watchmen and B) He has talent based upon his reimagining of Dawn of the Dead. And I was on board with the casting; Affleck as the Batman, Gil Gadot as Wonder Woman, and even Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

But then when the day came upon us for the world to witness¬†BvSDoJ…we saw the mess that it was. YUUUUGGGGEEE plot holes, a unsympathetic Supes, a murderous Batman, and the worst conflict resolution ever conceived (“MMMMMAAAARRRRTTTTHHHHHAAA!!!!!!”) Once the third act was upon us, I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. Every single one of them had infuriated me beyond forgiveness and I just wanted it to be over. DC had taken characters I grew up loving and made me almost despise all of them. So screw you DC, thanks for that.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

 

Top 10 films of 2016

I know this is a few weeks late, but I’m doing it anyway. I need something to distract me that is the travesty of President Cheeto being sworn in to office. So here…we…go!

10) The Invitation (Dir: Karyn Kusama, Writers: Phil Hay,  Matt Manfredi

the-invitation-film

This movie…if I had started to put this list together shortly after I had seen this one, it probably wouldn’t be here. However, since I’ve seen this flick, it’s dug deeper in to my mind. It’s stuck with me. After seeing this with my cuz Ryan, we spent at least 90 minutes talking about it. We both decided it was a “good” movie, not a “great” one. Yet, I keep coming back to it. I thought maybe I didn’t give it a fair shake when I originally saw it. A rewatch confirmed that: this movie is so packed with tone and expert storytelling. Very seldom do I watch a film where you’re questioning the sanity of the protagonist; you start doubt whether you should trust the main character, who’s POV you are seeing the film through. I won’t give any spoilers away; just do yourself a favor and check this out on Netflix/Amazon. Preferably alone. With the lights off. Late at night. Trust me.

9) Captain America: Civil War (Dir: The Russo Brothers, Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely)

captain-america-civil-war-e1462148606309

In past years, my top 5/10 films in a particular year are predominantly comic book movies. This year, not so much. With only two comic book movies on my list, I made a strong effort to focus on other genres (and production sizes) to expand my movie tastes. That said, one can’t deny the awesome spectacle that is CA: CW. Chris Evans and RDJR have such a strong chemistry. Every time they are on screen together I’m in awe. I would literally pay so much money for them to star in a¬†My Dinner With Andre¬†remake starring them two. While it wasn’t a straight adaption of the comic mini-series the name is based off of (for good reason), the Russo Bros were able to make something better and logically sound based off of everything that has come before in the MCU. Plus introducing Black Panther and Spider-Man was a huge bonus. (P.S. I really hope the Marvel folks stop dragging their feet about bringing the TV folks in to the movies…I want to see Daredevil, Punisher, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and the like crossing paths with the Avengers and Guardians.

8) 10 Cloverfield Lane: (Dir: Dan Trachtenberg, Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, & Damian Chazelle)

Two of my favorite films of all time are¬†T2: Judgement Day¬†and¬†Alien. Besides many of the obvious reasons, the biggest would be the strong, female protagonists both films have (Sarah Conner and Ripley respectively.) Characters like that have been missing for quite some time. When attempts are made to make movies with these types of characters, even if well done it doesn’t feel¬†earned. In¬†10 Cloverfield Lane, we finally see a movie where the female protagonist earns the title of “Badass Heroine.” While I’ll avoid spoilers explaining how that comes to be, this movie does an amazing job showing Michelle (played by an on point Mary Elizabeth Winstead) digging deep within herself and finding the inner strength/badass to overcome the dire situation she has been dragged in to (both metaphorically and physically.) The final 10 minutes of the 3rd act had me on the edge of my seat in the theater, so much so my back ached from how tense it was afterwards. Amazing sound design and editing keeps the pace quick and the shocks big. And the final scene literally made yell “F*** yeah!”

7) The Nice Guys: (Dir: Shane Black, Writers:  Shane Black,  Anthony Bagarozzi)

Oh man, Shane Black just knows how to do dark comedy. Don’t get me wrong,¬†The Nice Guys isn’t a dark and twisted comedy by any means, but the humor does a hint of that. Just enough to make you laugh with your jaw dropped. My question is: Why hasn’t someone thought to put Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe together sooner in a movie? The back and forth between this two makes it seem like they’ve been doing this for years. A classic 1970s buddy cop/film noir comedy. And it wouldn’t be a Shane Black movie if it all didn’t start with some random, seemingly unrelated event kicking things off. This film is packed with laughs, great acting, impeccable directing, and a screenplay that just oozes awesome. I would love it if this became a new¬†Lethal Weapon-style franchise for Black.

6) The Witch: (Dir: Robert Eggers, Writer: Robert Eggers)

the-witch

Unsettling. If I had to choose one word that describes¬†The Witch, I couldn’t think of one better than that. Set 1630s New England, the dreary colors and Puritan devotion to religion gets under your skin from the very start. Why this movie succeeds is because it doesn’t reveal it’s hand until the very end. While most movies want to hurry up and get to the “money shot”, this film uses restraint like a master. Robert Eggers understands the need to let atmosphere and character work to draw you in. He gets you fully invested (with a cast that is pitch perfect casting) so that when the curtain is drawn back, it hits you like a freight train. Are there jump scares? Yeah, they’re present. But they aren’t what matters. What matters for Eggers is creating an experience that will get under your skin, that will make you appreciate what you saw but make you question if you want to come back to this New England homestead any time soon. Trust me when I say the final shot of the film will leave you speechless…and unsettled.

5) Green Room: (Dir: Jeremy Saulnier, Writer: Jeremy Saulnier)

Talk about shocking! This film starts off by presenting characters that some¬†may deem “unsympathetic”; they’re in an indie punk rock band, they steal gas to drive cross country while on tour, they shun things like “social media”, they’re kind¬†of rude dicks to people…but then you start to realize that when you’re just busting your ass trying to get by, trying to make something happen with your creative endeavors, that they’re just tired and trying to make things work, in whatever way they can. So while you learn this about the bandmates, there is a slow burn happening in the background. A slowly burning fuse that leads to a powder keg. When you are starting to invest in the struggle of the starving artists in the band, things take a sudden (and horrifying) turn. Each scene ratchet ups the tension and brutality more and more. Characters shockingly die that you don’t expect, drastic measures are taken by people that you know won’t end well. The end of the movie makes you feel like you’ve ran a marathon, but instead of an easy run, it involved barb wire, guard dogs, guns, knives, grenades, broken light bulbs, fire, and a shit ton of neo-nazis. And one more thing: after the 1st act, you’ll never willingly put your arm through a slightly cracked open door again.

4) Deadpool: (Dir: Tim Miller, Writers: Rhett Reese,  Paul Wernick

This is the 2nd (and best) comic book movie to make the list. Finally, after waiting for what seems like forever, Ryan Reynolds and Co. were able to make the¬†Deadpool movie we’ve been wanting (no, NEEDING) for years. This movie does the right thing and veers way in to the hard R rating, allowing the title character be the mutant he’s meant to be. The amazing thing about this flick though is it is not grotesque for the sake of being grotesque; it is a genuinely amazing movie that has heart and plenty of character to boot. Maybe it’s because Reynolds oozes charisma, the writing team did an amazing job, or the director just knew how to bring this character to the screen, but whatever the reason, it makes for one of the best movies of the year. This movie gets better with repeated viewings, which is hard for me to say. Most movies diminish in value.¬†Deadpool keeps coming back, better than last time. Gah, can’t wait for¬†Deadpool 2!

3) Sing Street: (Dir: John Carney, Writer: John Carney)

This movie has all the feels and probably the best soundtrack in 2016 (trust me,¬†Brown Shoes will be stuck in your head long after watching this.) A ragtag group of teenagers in a Catholic school in the U.K. form a band. Why? ‘Cause why not? (Well, the lead singer and founder of the band does want to win this one girl over, but ya know…) With original songs that just radiate classic 1980s pop, it never lets you stop smiling. There are so many “coming of age” films now in the indie scene, it is so awesome to find one that is so unique and unafraid of what it really is: a musical, fairy tale story. You don’t realize until the very end that you just watched a fairy tale wrapped in a musical wrapped in “coming of age” story. And that is expert filmmaking.

2) Hunt for the Wilderpeople: (Dir: Taika Waititi, Writer: Taika Waititi)

This film is just pure joy. Take Waititi stole my heart on work on shows like¬†Flight of the¬†Concords¬†and on movies like¬†What We Do in the Shadows¬† (“What are we?…we’re werewolves, not swearwolves” is still one of my favorite movies scenes ever.) This film though…it made me giddy. Happy. Excited. Full of wonder. Waititi takes something simple and for the most part fairly unexciting (the drop off of a foster child at their new foster home) and it soon becomes a rollicking, pseudo father/son adventure through the New Zealand wilderness. By the end of the movie you are stuffed full of all the feels and want nothing more than a happy end for Hec and Ricky. The third act pays off on everything that has come before, which makes it all the better because of that. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve watched a movie (at home or in the theaters) that made me laugh this hard. The best thing about this film is that while you are laughing your arse off, there is still an emotional through line that draws you in. It could just as easily have been made a drama and you would still love it. Plus, you will never laugh so hard at a warthog being butchered than you do in this movie.

  1. Arrival: (Dir: Denis Villeneuve, Writer: Eric Heisserer)

This movie folks…this movie. When the trailer was revealed, I expected it to be good. I didn’t expect it to be AMAZING!!!!!! The director, Denis Villeneuve, is so far 2 for 2 in films of his that I’ve seen (Prisoner and¬†Sicario) but I didn’t know how he would handle sci-fi. This was an important question as he is directing¬†Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to one of my all time favorite films. So I went in to this movie with a lot of questions and he answered all of them! His control of pacing, visuals, acting, story, and all of the other elements that make a film were soooooooo good. You are never overloaded with information, everything has a specific reason for existing, and are not disappointed in anything that happens on screen. I don’t want to get in to specifics on¬†Arrival simply because by revealing anything, it can diminish the overall experience. After my wife and I walked out of our local Alamo Drafthouse after seeing this, we struggled to form sentences to truly state our thoughts on what we just saw. This movie must be seen. It must be experienced.

Honorable Mentions: Doctor Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Midnight Special

Childcare, single parents, and a cause for 2017…

Single Moms Shouldn’t Have to Choose Between Child Care and Getting an Education

Over the last couple of years I have been working on a project for the super awesome Marci, my aunt-in-law. This project makes poor through studies and articles focused on several topics: Early Ed, Childcare, PreK, Birth thru 8 years old policy, and foster/adoption stuff. Every day there is something I come across that really impacts me, especially since shortly after the new year starts I myself will be a parent. The stuff I am finding now will impact Heather Harris and I in the near future. So when I come across articles like this one in #NYMag, I get upset.

Offering #ChildCare for single and/or low income parents who are trying to further their education so they can offer a better life for their little one just makes sense. But…that is something that is lost on a lot of people. This is an issue that won’t see improvement in the next two years either (that may change in 2018 depending on what happens w/Mid-Term elections.) Starting in 2017, I am going to make it my goal to do everything I can to help these causes that I currently just read about. I want and need to do this. Not just for my son’s future, but for my neighbor, my fellow Kansas Citian, my fellow American.

I’m gonna start stepping away from posting purely on politics on my social media (unless it is something pretty urgent.) It is fairly obvious where I stand; I hate Trump, the GOP will cripple our country/government, and I still am upset that Bernie wasn’t given a fair shake. Going forward, I want to focus on causes that I know will have a long-lasting impact on our country. A positive impact, one that will help us in 2017 and 2077 if done right. Let’s do this New Year; I’m ready to make you better.

Keeping’ it Geeky,

Average Joe