Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year That Was

Happy New Year everybody! You've all done a great job, and I want you to take a few days off and come back on Monday rested and ready.

In keeping with my habit of making a fuss over not doing year-end lists, then half-assing one anyway, here's my comments on Cool Bev in 2014.

Movies Made in 2014: I watched more movies in the year they were released in 2014 than ever (probably) - 11 this year vs. 10 last year. Probably because I feel like watching more big action films, and they are always coming out - especially the superhero movies. My top pick has got to be Gaurdians of the Galaxy, although Grand Hotel Budapest is a very strong runner-up (maybe superhero movies should have a separate category?). For least favorite, I'll go with Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Movies Watched in 2014: I think our best movie watching experience this year was watching three Guillermo del Toro movies, Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, and Cronos, and Spirit of the Beehive. The del Toro movies, especially the first two that are set in the Spanish Civil War, are an interesting reflection of the themes and techniques in the 1973 Spirit. I recommend them all individually and as a group.

For least favorite, I'll go with Ocean's Twelve. It wasn't really that bad - we probably sat through worse, but the combination of potential and sloppy laziness just gets to me.

Music Movies in 2014: We watched a lot of concert movies and music documentaries in 2014, and planned to watch more but got derailed. The T.A.M.I Show was maybe the best, followed by Muscle Shoals and Twenty Feet from Stardom. One of the reasons we didn't watch more was that the Levon Helm documentary, I Ain't in It for My Health, was next on the list. Since it was made while he was dying of cancer and after, it's supposed to be pretty wrenching, and we haven't been up to it.

TV in 2014: We finished watching the complete series of two shows we really loved in 2014: Leverage and Dobie Gillis. We miss them both very much (if you want to listen to me play my lovesong to Sheila Kuehl, who played Zelda on Dobie Gillis, don't say I didn't warn you). But then we found Arrow and Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. And now we're finished with them :-(

Still looking for a replacement watch. Let us know if you hear of anything.

Best Movie of 2014: Bringing Up Baby, same as every year.

To Come in 2015: We are starting off the year re-watching The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. We're looking forward to seeing the last of the trilogy - our nephew works in an IMAX theater, so we could have seen it in 3D, but still prefer the home experience. We'll watch all the latest Marvel (and some of the DC) movies that become available, of course.

Other than that, we plan to watch some more horror and hard thrillers this year - Ms. Spenser likes them, and I don't get my way all the time.

We may also try to upgrade our tech - Blu-rays tend to stall on our current player. We got a Sony replacement, but a) very clicky interface, so much trouble to work and b) has no timer display on the front. It's funny how much dependent we are on seeing the amount of time left in the movie. You know, to answer questions like: should we pause here or wait to the end? But the new player is hooked up to Amazon Prime, which we are members of and have never used to watch movies. So maybe we'll try that sometime, although the Amazon site is HORRIBLE for browsing. Really makes me appreciate Netflix.

Netflix: Since this is a blog about my Netflix queue, I should leave a few comments on the service: It is getting worse. I have more Very-Long-Wait DVDs than ever, and it seems that more of them are going into the Saved (= not available) list than being delivered. Streaming is almost as bad, with movies showing up and falling off at random. And why is Netflix producing their own content? There are enough TV series in the world! Concentrate on making all movies in existence available to me. Immediately!

Cocktails: Since this is also supposed to be a blog about cocktails, I'll say a few words about sparkling wine: I love it. I once decided to drink nothing else - a decent bottle of cava can be had for under $10, so why not? Well, for one thing, my palate advanced, and I can barely touch that Cordon Negro (my current tipple is $13 bottles of Napa bubbly, when available). But I also like to add a little something:
  • Raspberry infusion for a homemade Kir Royale
  • Quince syrup, a byproduct of my Thanksgiving pie making
  • Gingered pineapple from a fruit salad I was eating
  • A spoon of green Chartreuse in sparkling wine makes a Green Ray Gun (a Ray Gun has Chartreuse and blue Curacao)
Finally, before I let you all go, I want to remember all the sad and horrible things that happened in 2014, politically, personally, internationally and right at home. Let's make this a silent remembrance, hold it in our thoughts and move on.

Thank you and have a better 2015.

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