Monday, December 14, 2015

My top 20 favorite TV shows I watched in 2015

This was the first full year that my wife and I had ditched the cable/satellite and watched strictly streaming TV shows.  I thought we'd watch less TV, but unfortunately, I actually think we watched more. While we watched all of these shows, I can certainly say all of them are not for everyone. In my comments on each show, I'll try and let you know if watching this show is right for you.

Please do not judge me for liking these shows. I like what I like and I make no qualms about liking what I like. However, I'd love for you to comment, either on Facebook or here, if you love a show that I missed so I can watch it this coming year. Or, if you feel a show has been ranked too low.

*The seasons I watched this year are in parenthesis. Also included is the streaming service I used to watch the shows.

Honorable Mentions

- Portlandia (Season 5)
- Raising Hope (All Seasons)
- Longmore (Season 1)
- The Blacklist (Season 1&2)
- The Unsinkable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1)
- About a Boy (Season 1)
- Jessica Jones (Season 1)

20. House of Cards (Season 3) - Netflix
I thoroughly enjoyed seasons 1 and 2 of this show. Season 3 was still great, but dragged a little in the middle. I think I am tiring of watching a show full of such evil people, with not a hope of a genuinely good character in it. Still, Francis Underwood is one of TV's great characters and Robin Wright has a lovely back.
Not for those offended by sex, drugs, bad language and Robin Wright's back.

19. Parks and Recreation (Season 7) - DVD
One of my all time favorite comedies went out in a good way this year. I'm not going to be "that guy" that says he loves a show before anyone else jumped on the bandwagon, but I started watching this show season 1, episode 1, when it first aired and it was bittersweet to see it end this year. Fortunately, it was a solid finale. 
Not for those offended by complete and total awesomeness and hilarity.

18. Hell on Wheels (Seasons 1-4) - Netflix
I'd rank this show higher if it didn't play of such negative stereotypes. It's pure country western with a great story and great acting. But I don't like how Native Americans, African Americans and especially Mormons are portrayed.  If you like westerns, this show is definitely for you.
Not for those offended by negative and false portrayals of ethnic and religious minorities. Also, some mild sex scenes and Common's face after getting mauled by a bear.

17. Downton Abbey (Season 5) - Amazon Prime
After some down years, Downton finally made a triumphant return to greatness thanks to good but believable storytelling. Take my man card, I don't care, I still like this show. And if you don't take my man card, you will later when you get to #12.
Not for those offended by rich people whispering about sex and Elizabeth McGovern's terrible acting.

16. Vikings (Season 2 & 3) - Amazon Prime
I am watching season 3 right now, and toward the middle of the season, it reaches epic heights. I may have to edit this list and rank it higher. This show is like Game of Thrones, but for non-nerds. Since I am both a nerd and a non-nerd, I can say Vikings is awesome.
Not for those offended by lots and lots of Vikings hacking each other with bloody axes, some sex and really, really bad accents.

15. The Americans - (Season 1 & 2) - Amazon Prime
It's a shame that this show is never nominated for any Emmys because the acting by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys is second to none. The best part of this show are their disguises, which are always hilarious and top-notch. Great writing as well.
Not for those offended by sex. Lots of sex in this show. Also Russians actually being cool.

14. Daredevil (Season 1) - Netflix
The best superhero TV show I have ever seen. It's dark and cool and makes me feel like I'm not watching a superhero show. Jessica Jones (see above) also has the potential to be this good, but is not quite there yet. 
Not for those offended by some sex, fighting scenes and chemicals going right into a guys eyes! RIGHT INTO HIS EYES!  (This show is definitely not for kids.)

13. The Last Man on Earth (Season 1) - DVD
Will Forte and Kristen Schall, two of the funniest and most underrated actors on the planet.  A great concept and solid writing make for a very funny show. It wore thin in the middle, but made up for it at the end. 
Not for those offended by a guy constantly trying to get women to sleep with him and a swimming pool full of feces.

12. Call the Midwife (Seasons 3 & 4) - Netflix
Man card still intact? Not anymore. I was really bummed when Jessica Raine left the show because I had a bit of a crush on her. (My wife knows and is okay with it.)  This show still chugged along, making for some of the best written and most dramatic moments on TV. Alright, my man card is now on the fire. It's burning.
Not for those offended by nuns and women screaming while giving birth.

11. The Goldbergs (Season 3) -
This show has flat out become the funniest show on TV. I love every minute of it. Barry Goldberg is the funniest character on TV.  Why this show doesn't get more credit, I'll never know.
Not for those offended by one of the worst "going through puberty" voices in the history of TV.

10. Game of Thrones (Season 4 & 5) - DVD
Alright, I finally climbed aboard the Game of Thrones nerdwagon. Seasons 1 and 2 were just okay, but the fake scenery and storylines were pretty dreadful. Perhaps they've got more money to spend on effects, but things really picked up for me in seasons 4 and 5. Watching Joffrey die was one of the most satisfying TV watching moments of the year for me.
Not for those offended by nudity, sex and dragons eating helpless goats.

9. Rectify (Season 2) - Netflix
Rectify is hands down the best show you've never heard of. Watch it and you will not be sorry. GREAT acting. I mean the kind of acting you'd pay to see. Unbelievable story. You should watch this show.
Not for those offended by a little violence, some sex and sexual dialog.

8. The Killing (Season 3 & 4) - Netflix
I've heard complaints about season 3 and 4 of this show not being up to par. I don't get it. I think they're better than the first two overly drawn out story.  The swearing definitely picks up in these seasons, but the stories are even better and the drama is at full force.
Not for those offended by swearing and violence. And more violence.

7. Broadchurch (Seasons 1 & 2) - Netflix
This is basically the British version of The Killing. It was released after The Killing and they do almost everything even better than that great show. 
Not for those offended by violence and thick English accents that you sometimes can't understand.

6. Justified (Season 5) - Amazon Prime
I wish I was as sharp and funny with my comebacks as Deputy Raylan Givins or Boyd Crowder. But alas, I can only enjoy from afar their wordsmith skills. I love this show. I love the characters. I love everything about it. One of my all time favorite shows. Sorry to see it go.
Not for those offended by the lesser swear words and a little gunplay. A jerkwad with a gun that pops out of his sleeve. 

5. Homeland (Seasons 1-4) - DVD
Having had a teenaged crush on Claire Danes, I think we can all agree that she looks much better as a brunette. She's terrific in this show as well. The plots are a bit, shall we say, out there. But I can get over that as the performances and the drama is fantastic.
Not for those offended by swearing, sex, violence and Claire Danes as a blonde. 

4. The Walking Dead (Season 5) - Netflix
The corny lines. The corny, corny lines. If not for the corny dialog, this might be #1. Either you are the type of person that loves the Walking Dead or you hate it. I can't get enough. I'd watch 100 seasons if there were 100 seasons available.
Not for those offended by zombies getting their heads smashed in in every conceivable way. Also, a zombie gets ripped in half and his lower half falls down a well.

3. True Detective (Season 1) - DVD
Alright, alright, alright. Let's get this straight, I'm talking only season 1 here. I have yet to see season 2, and from what I hear, I am probably not going to take the time to watch it. But I have seen season one and it is flipping awesome. This was my wife's favorite show we watched this year, but it is DEFINITELY not for everyone.
Not for those offended by pretty much everything that can be considered offensive. Matthew McConaughey playing a cop.

2. Better Call Saul - (Season 1) - DVD 
This show is a funnier Breaking Bad. I just finished all ten episodes and I want to watch them again. I probably will instead of watching more disappointing episodes of The Blacklist. I love this show. Can't wait for season 2.
Not for those offended by the first episode, a few swear words and sleazy lawyers.

1. Fargo (Season 1) - DVD
The best show on TV, hands down. Now hands up. Now hands down again. That's how great this show is, it makes you put your hands up and down. I love the dark humor in this show. I hear season 2 is even better. Not sure how that is possible, but I'm sure it will be #1 on next year's list too.Martin Freeman's best role to date.

Not for those offended by a little sex, lots of violence,  some swearing and the greatest show on TV.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

My top 40 music albums of 2015

Back again for another list. Today we will delve deep into the top 40 best albums of 2015. Ready for the ride? Because I am.  (At the bottom of the post you will find my top 10 albums from the previous 6 years.)

40. Hot Chip - Why Make Sense
39. Modest Mouse - Strangers to Ourselves
38. Field Music - Music for Drifters
37. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper 
36. Editors - In Dream
35. The Milk Carton Kids - Monterey
34. Tanlines - Highlights
33. My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall
32. Best Coast - California Nights
31. The Tallest Man on Earth - Dark Bird is Home
30. Great Lake Swimmers - A Forrest of Arms
29. Muse - Drones
28. The Ting Tings - Super Critical
27. A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixation 
26. The Lone Below - Then Came the Morning
25. Foals - What Went Down
24. Surfer Blood - 1000 Palms
23. The Helio Sequence - The Helio Sequence
22. Beirut - No No No
21. The Fratellis - Eyes Wide, Tongue Tied
20. Of Monsters and Men - Beneath the Skin
19. Marina and the Diamonds - Froot
18. Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect
16. Silversun Pickups - Better Nature
15. Kodaline - Coming Up For Air
14. Passion Pit - Kindred
13. Family of the Year - Family of the Year
12. Imagine Dragons - Smoke + Mirrors
11. Mumford and Sons - Wider Mind

10. CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye

9. Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Wonderful World

8. Mew + - 

7. Walk Off the Earth - Sing it all Away

6. Belle and Sabastian - Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

5. Death Cab for Cutie - Kintsugi 

4. Metric - Pagans in Vegas

3. Matt and Kim - New Glow

2. Twenty One Pilots - Blurry Face

1. Mowgli's - Kids In Love

1. Future Islands - Singles
2. Passenger - Whispers
3. Bishop Allen - Lights Out
4. Tokyo Police Club - Forcefield
5. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Mended With Gold
6. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
7. Spoon - The Want My Soul
8. Foster the People - Supermodel
9. Broken Bells - After the Disco
10. Manchester Orchestra - Cope

1. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
2. Radical Face - Family Tree: The Branches
3. Twenty One Pilots - Vessel
4. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
5. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
6. Shout Out Louds - Optica
7. Crystal Fighters - Cave Rave
8. The Sounds - Weekend
9. Tegan & Sara - Heartthrob
10. Little Green Cars - Absolute Zero

1. Radical Face – The Family Tree: The Roots
2. Passion Pit - Gossamer
3. Mumford And Son – Babel
4. Miike Snow – Happy To You
5. Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
6. Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
7. Metric – Sythetica
8. Dr. Dog – Be The Void
9. Of Monsters And Men – My Head Is An Animal
10. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter

1. Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
2. The Sounds – Something To Die For
3. Architecture In Helsinki – Moment Bends
4. Decemberists – The King Is Dead
5. The Strokes – Angles
6. The Head And The Heart – The Head And The Heart
7. Brett Dennen – Loverboy
8. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
9. I’m From Barcelona – Forever Today
10. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

1. The National – High Violet
2. Vampire Weekend – Contra
3. Shout Out Louds – Work
4. Mumford And Sons – Sigh No More
5. Mates Of State – Crushes
6. Dr. Dog – Shame Shame
7. Rogue Wave – Permalight
8. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
9. Matt & Kim – Sidewalks
10. Tokyo Police Club – Champ

1. The Sounds – Crossing The Rubicon
2. Passion Pit – Manners
3. Metric – Fantasies
4. Animal Collective – Merryweather Post Pavilion
5. Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream
6. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns
7. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
8. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
9. Islands – Vapours
10. Mew – No More Stories Are Told…

Saturday, December 12, 2015

My top 20 favorite songs of 2015.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to the Blog O' Cheese. It is that annual time where I dust off the cobwebs and blow off the dust to give you may yearly picks of favorite things.  Today we start with my top 20 favorite songs of 2015. And so it begins...

20. Brandon Flowers - Can't Deny My Love 

19. Family of the Year - Carry Me

18. Mew - Satellites 

17. AWOLNATION - Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)

16. Of Monsters and Men - Empire 

15. Marina and the Diamonds - Blue

14. Kodaline - Autopilot 

13. Passion Pit - Lifted Up (1985)

12. Silversun Pickups - Connection

11. Belle and Sebastian - Enter Sylvia Plath

10. Imagine Dragons - Shots

9. CHVRCHES - Down Side Of Me

8. Death Cab For Cutie - Everything's a Ceiling

7. The Mowgli's - Shake Me Up

6. Mumford and Sons - The Wolf

5. Metric - For Kicks

4. Walk Off The Earth - Rule the World 

3. Twenty One Pilots - Ride

2. Matt & Kim - World is Ending

1. The Decemberists - Lake Song

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Top 10 Movies I Enjoyed From 2014

I know it's April, but that's usually about the time I get around to watching all the movies I wanted to see from the previous year on Blue Ray. I mean, who has the time and money to actually go see movies in theaters nowadays? I've gotta mortgage my house just to buy my kids popcorn.

At any rate, it's that time again that I share with those bored enough to care my favorite movies of the year.  You may notice that I almost always make my choices after the Academy Awards. This is because my choices are held in such high esteem, I want the actors to really appreciate them.

Now, you may notice that some of my choices do have swearing, violence and even sex in them.  Please do not judge me as a person based on the movies I like.  I like what I like and I make no apologies for it. As a service to you, my readers, in each movie, I shall list what offenses you might take from the movie, in order for you to judge for yourself it is worthy of your eyes.

At the end of the list, I will list my favorite movies from the past 3 years, just in case you were curious. I should add that there are still four movies (Selma, Unbroken, American Sniper and Wild) that I want to see from last year and I may update my list.

Without further ado, I give you my list...

(Movies I kinda liked, but were just okay.)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
Iva (PG-13)

Mockingjay: Part 1 (PG-13)
Interstellar (PG-13) (I didn't understand it, but it was entertaining.)
Grand Piano (R)

#'s 21 - 11
20. Nightcrawler (R)
19. The Maze Runner (PG-13)
18. Foxcatcher (R) (I have no idea why this movie is rated R.)
17. The Good Lie (PG-13) (Liked it even with Reese Witherspoon in it.)
16. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG)
15. Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13)
14. Chef (R)
13. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)
12. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13)
11. Gone Girl (R)


10. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (PG-13) - If there is a Tolkien movie that came out during the year, it HAS to be on my top ten list.  Unfortunately, this was probably my least favorite Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies. The two previous movies built up to this one and it is pretty much three hours of fantasy war.  Even though it was battle scene after battle scene, my sons and I were still wowed by the effects and especially by how awesome Legolas is. 
Potential offenses: Violence and the violence that does take place occurs with fictional Orcs. Unless you are a pretty big prude, there's not much to be offended by.

9. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day (PG) - I was going into this movie totally expecting to hate everything about it. So often I watch these "family comedies" and there is not one good joke in the entire thing. Quite the contrary, usually the jokes are so flat and terrible, it's hard to stomach watching the entire thing with my kids.  This movie, however, bucks that trend. I loved almost every minute. Steve Carrell is insanely funny in this movie and the jokes do not fall flat. They fall round. This one is a guilty pleasure for me, but I can honestly say that no movie made me laugh from start to finish last year more than this one.
Potential offenses: A couple slightly crude jokes. A somewhat dirty (but funny) joke by the mom. Really mild stuff.

8. The Theory of Everything (PG-13) - I was never much interested in the early life of Stephen Hawking, but this movie created an interest that wasn't there before. I was curious to see Stephen pre-illness, fine and walking and happy.  His physical spiral did not match his physical spiral which created quite a story. Eddie Redmayne deserved the best actor award.
Potential offenses: Not much, unless you are offended by seeing people have affairs. Maybe a few swear words. Oh, there is one scene with a Playboy magazine.

7. Joe (R) - My favorite kind of movie is what one might call a "Coming of age" movie. While Boyhood was the ultimate coming-of-age movie this year, this one was terrific as well. And before you write this movie off because it's got Nicolas Cage in it, I must inform you that he was the best part of this movie. He was terrific. He deserved an Oscar nomination, imo. Now he can go back to making terribly cliche movies.
Potential offenses: Lots and lots of swears. Violence including one scene that is exceptionally violent. 

6. Big Hero 6 (PG) - For a long time, I had this movie #1 on my list. Alas, it fell, but it still deserves much love. Almost every animated movie that comes out is a rehash, remake or a sequel. No idea seems original. How many movies about princesses do we need? Well, this year finally bucked that trend with what I believe is the best animated movie in years. Original, creative and awesome. I've watched this movie maybe 12 times with my sons and it never gets old.
Potential offenses: Maybe an explosion where a kid dies inside?  I don't know. Nothing much.

5. Boyhood (R) - After watching this movie, I thought for sure that it was going to be my favorite movie of the year. The way it was filmed over 12 years was something that had never been done. It was unusual and captivating. To watch this kid grow up before your eyes was extremely cool.  However, its major faults: It's too long and there is no real plot made it fall to #5. When I think about this movie, I think of it's beautiful moments rather than the movie as a whole. There is a scene where the dad is trying to explain to his son that elves do not actually exist. It is a touching moment where you see a boy lose just a bit of his charming innocence. There are so many amazing moments just like that in this movie. While it wasn't my favorite movie of the year, if I had a vote for best picture, I would have picked Boyhood.
Potential offenses: The kid uses drugs recreationally. There is a lot of swearing. Way too much I thought. It took away from the story. There is one scene where teenage boys discuss stuff that teenage boys discuss. While it was very realistic, it was also very graphic. 

4. The Imitation Game (PG-13) - Thought provoking and nail-biting. I bit a lot of nails. Great acting, a superb story, really everything you'd want in a movie. If you like Benedict Cumberbatch, you'd love this true-life story of the birth of computer science.  Just fantastic.
Potential offenses: No swearing that I recall. Some mature material like a man dealing with his own sexuality. Lots of smoking as people did back then.

3. Big Eyes (PG-13) - I'm as big a Tim Burton fan as they come, so I knew this movie would make my list before I even saw it. I would say that this is likely Burton's most mainstream movie, but it definitely has that patented Tim Burton feel to it. The story was fascinating, but it was the unique style and Burtonesque flair that made it come alive to me. And the final scene, in the courtroom was absolute genius. The funniest scene in any movie all year long.
Potential offenses: Some implied sex. A few swear words. I think one F-bomb. 

2. Whiplash (R) - This movie was exceptional. I suppose it can be classified as another coming-of age movie. If you've ever hated a teacher, truly hated a teacher, you'll appreciate this movie. It is powerful.  I do believe that this movie has the best ending I have ever seen. I loved the final scene. (Opposite of Gone Girl.)
Potential offenses: TONS and TONS of swearing. 

1. St.Vincent (PG-13) - 

I've been waiting for a movie to come out where Bill Murray gets to play the kind of character that he is so genius at playing.  This one was perfect.  Murray is great, but it's the chemistry between he and the kid and Melissa McCarthy that really makes this movie go.  It's a powerfully moving movie and during it's playtime, you go from hating Bill Murray's character to adoring him.  My favorite movie of the year.
Potential offenses: If you are offended by sex scenes, I'd suggesting starting the movie 2 minutes in. There is a relatively tame sex scene to start the movie and if you skip the first two minutes, you will miss it and not miss any essential plot points. Other than that, there is just a few swear words.

10. The Heat
9. Mud
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Despicable Me 2
6. Gravity
5. Short Term 12
4. Nebraska
3. 12 Years a Slave
2. Philomena
1. The Kings of Summer

10. Premium Rush
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Amazing Spiderman
7. Looper
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
5. Argo
4. Frankenweenie
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Sleepwalk With Me
1. Safety Not Guaranteed