Best of 2015

Another year come and gone. Some big changes for the Rastiellos in 2015, namely I said goodbye to my friends at LyntonWeb and joined Rackspace.

On top of that, we traveled to Arkansas, Chicago, and Memphis, and New Jersey twice (not to mention several road trips within Texas). We saw my youngest sister get married, and our awesome niece and nephews grow even more awesome.

We celebrated Ali’s 40th birthday, and my mom’s 60th.

We saw a ton of concerts, including Foo Fighters (twice), Faith No More, Ben Folds, Sarah McLachlan, Leon Bridges, and we’ll be closing out the year with The Suffers at the Houston House of Blues on New Years Eve.

I also opened up The Restorative, a store on Etsy that has been pretty successful for the short time it has been live.

mike-ali-dave

2015 was a great year.

Last year I started doing a year in review, and this year I’m making it a tradition. 2015 keeps on giving! Some categories remain, others were dropped. It’s my website and I’ll do what I damn well please.

2015 was a stacked year, so there are multiple picks for some of categories. Again, my website, damn well please.

Best of 2015

Best Game(s)

The Room 3

The Room series of games are awesome. You are essentially trapped in a room (or series of rooms), and need to find objects and solve puzzles to move through the room to escape. The graphics are amazing. The puzzles are fun and challenging, and is great for multiple replays. Apparently there are different endings depending on what you do. I haven’t replayed yet, but I will do so soon.

The Room 3

($4.99 on the App Store)

Domino Drop

Domino Drop is a great casual game for when you have a few free minutes and need to take a break from what you’re doing. Very easy to play, match the colors/numbers to clear them out and don’t run out of room (similar to Tetris, but you can’t rotate the pieces). It’s a paid app, but there are no in app purchases that hinder play of the app.

($1.99 on the App Store)

Shooty Skies

This game is super fun. Shoot your enemies, and dodge their various projectiles. Very easy to learn, and play, but watch out for those projectiles! This is a free app with in app purchases, but the in app purchases are unobtrusive and by no means necessary to play the game.

(Free on the App Store or Google Play)

Best Comic Book (Series)

Fight Club 2

Fight Club 2DC has really let me down. I’ve dropped so many DC books from my pull list. Marvel was in a transition period for most of the year. One of their series, Secret Wars: Civil War was really good, but not good enough for this list.

Fight Club is one of my favorite books and movies, so it goes without saying that I was looking forward to this book ever since I first heard about it.

The story picks up about 10 years after the book. The narrator (who currently goes by Sebastian in the comic) and Marla are married and have a son. Sebastian is medicated, and Tyler is gone. Until he isn’t. And then Tyler kidnaps Sebastian and Marla’s son.

Plus there are amazing covers by David Mack who I gushed over in my Daredevil post a while back.

Best Music (tie)

Wow, what a year for music.

New Faith No More, Modest Mouse, Foo Fighters, Beirut, and two from Beach House and so much more.

Coming Home, Leon Bridges

One of the best weekly newsletters I receive is the music newsletter from NPR (this particular week was a great week for new music). NPR’s music stuff is awesome, check it out if you never have. I’ve discovered so much great music through it, and the best artist, by far, is Leon Bridges. It only took one listen of the song for me to go purchase the few he had available on iTunes, and then pre-order his debut album.

Leon Bridges is a young soul singer who sounds like he’s from the 60’s. Just an amazing voice. Ali and I saw him in concert in November and it was so much fun.

I’ve told everyone who will listen to me about Leon Bridges.

The Most Lamentable Tragedy, Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus is a punk band from my home state of New Jersey. I found them through a thread on Reddit a few years ago listing out great Jersey bands (also check out Lifetime if you’re into punk or Streetlight Manifesto if you’re into punk/ska). I didn’t know the album was out until a few weeks after the fact, and I immediately tracked it down. The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a pretty epic 90 minute rock opera that deals with themes of the lead singer’s experience with manic depression. It’s pretty intense.

Best TV Show (Comedy)

Life in Pieces, CBS

It’s very likely Ali and I wouldn’t have found this show if it wasn’t for being at her parent’s house and them watching the terrible Big Bang Theory. I about peed my pants with laughter when we first watched it. It’s probably my top two or three comedies right now, with Brooklyn Nine Nine and The Mindy Project.

Life in Pieces tells four stories of a family. Sometimes they are connected, sometimes they aren’t. But they are always hilarious. I can’t do the show justice, so here are some clips:

Just do yourself a favor and watch the damn show. Or watch more clips here.

Best TV Show (Drama)

Mr. Robot, USA

Mr. Robot came out of no where. I heard some people talking about it who like geeky things like me, so I decided to check it out. The lead character works for a cybersecurity company by day. By night he’s a hacker who hacks into the online lives of people he meets in real life as a way to connect with them. His hacking leads him into a group of hacktivists who are hell bent on taking down E Corp and erasing the world’s debt.

It’s part Matrix, part Fight Club, and total mind fuck. This sneak peek doesn’t even begin to show the roller coaster ride that this show is. It was picked up for a second season before it even aired on TV.

Best Movie (2 way tie for runner up)

Ex Machina

Ever since I saw Inside Llewyn Davis two years ago I’ve been a huge Oscar Isaac fan, and I love sic-fi so this was an easy sell. Ex Machina tells the story of a person similar to the founders of Google. Oscar Isaac’s character founded a search engine company, and is now tinkering with building an artificial intelligence. He recruits a member of his staff to test the AI to essentially see if the AI could pass a Turing Test. Typically with AI movies, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. They all tell the story of becoming aware and killing all humans. Terminator, I, Robot (the movie, not the book), The Matrix, and so on. But Ex Machina breaks the mold and tells a really dark and compelling story.

The Martian

I don’t know what it is, but I really like watching movies where people are really good at their jobs. They come together to solve an impossible problem, like Apollo 13.

The Martian is about an astronaut, Matt Damon, who is stranded on Mars after his team had to escape a vicious storm. His crew thought he was dead, and they had no choice but to leave him behind. Matt Damon was in fact not dead, and had to try to figure out not only how to survive on Mars for five years (how long it would take NASA to get back to him) but to notify NASA that he was still alive.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Ultimate movie of the year)

I had this post queued up before The Force Awakens had opened, so I have to add this addendum. Star Wars is definitely the movie of the year for me. The previous two were really great, but The Force Awakens blows them away. I am, however, leaving them on the list.

Since the movie is still so new I won’t post anything so I won’t spoil it, and I’ll only say that it blew away every one of my expectations.

Here’s one of the trailers: