Monday, April 17, 2017

NEWS RELEASE - For Immediate Release

Rob Hanes Adventures to be Collected in Trade Paperback

The long-running globetrotting action-adventure series, Rob Hanes Adventures, will be collected in trade paperback in 4-issue increments starting this spring, said series creator and WCG Comics publisher Randy Reynaldo.

Rob Hanes Adventures, Volume 1 begins collecting the series with issues 1-4. It will clock in at 128 pages and retail for $14.99, and appear under the WCG Comics imprint.

“Given the growth of the back catalog of the series, it’s time to begin collecting the series in trade paperback format,” said Reynaldo. “I hope it will provide a welcoming entry point for new readers who want to check out the new series but might be intimidated by the number of back issues now in print.”

The stories in the first volume include“Where in the World is Rob Hanes?”; “Back in the Game”; “Rob Hanes: Year One”; “Image is Everything”; and “A Changing of the Guard.” The volume will include reproductions of the original cover art and liner notes about each story. Reynaldo plans to quickly follow the release of volume 1 with volume 2, collecting issues 5-8, later in the year.

Two trade paperback collections of earlier material that pre-date the current series are already in print: the Rob Hanes Archives, which collects the earliest material that appeared in zine format, and Rob Hanes Adventures, Volume 0, which collects the first regular comic-book appearance of the series under the title, Adventure Strip Digest.

About Rob Hanes Adventures:
Rob Hanes Adventures is an action-adventure series about a globetrotting private eye and troubleshooter from Justice International who travels the world on assignment, facing adventure, intrigue and romance at every turn!

Launched in 2000, and preceded by a zine and 4-issue comic-book series run under the title Adventure Strip Digest, Rob Hanes Adventures is one of the longest-running indie comics series still going! Inspired by classic adventure comic strips like Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates and Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer but set in the modern day—with dashes of light-hearted humor reminiscent of Will Eisner's Spirit—readers and fans have lauded Rob Hanes Adventures for recapturing the spirit of the classic adventure strip while updating it for modern day audiences. The series has received praise and coverage over the years for its classic, return-to-basic approach, and was listed among the 1000 Comic Books You Must Read  by Tony Isabella.

Though themes and characters recur in the series, every issue of Rob Hanes Adventures is self-contained. The entire series remains in print, including 17 issues to date and two trade paperback collections of earlier work. For more information about the series, previews and to purchase back issues, visit the WCG Comics website at wcgcomics.com or facebook.com/rhadventures.

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Images accompanying this press release may be used for review purposes, with additional downloadable art and images from the comic-book series available here. All art © by Randy Reynaldo. All rights reserved.

The permanent link for this news release is http://wcgcomics.blogspot.com/2017/03/pr-rha-vol01-tpb.html


















Tuesday, January 31, 2017

More Housecleaning: Farewell 2002 Subaru Forester

A few weeks ago, I posted a tribute to my wife’s 1995 Mazda Miata and now I’m here to remember our 2002 Subaru Forester, which we now also have just sold after 14+ years of service.

While I wouldn’t call it beloved, it was a workhorse, purchased as a family vehicle when we were expecting our first child. We were looking into some SUVs, but the jump from the small Miata to an SUV was a bit of an intimidating leap for my wife. I can’t recall what vehicle we were initially looking at, but the dealer also sold Subarus and introduced us to the Forester, which he told us was very popular with families. Though classified as a small SUV, the salesperson noted that this particular model was built on the chassis of a sedan, which was reflected in the drive and handling. I have to admit, it wouldn’t have been my first choice of vehicle (nor the color), but my wife, who would be its primary driver, took to it so we purchased it. Given at that point we were both driving small cars, it felt quite like an upgrade in terms of ride and comfort. (However, once I sold my own small vehicle and purchased a full-size sedan, it felt like driving a tin can!)

It was indeed very family friendly—in fact, when we moved into our current residence, the families who parked in the spots on either side of us had the same exact model Forester, but in different colors! (One of them still has theirs.)

I’m fairly meticulous about my vehicle (I don’t allow eating in my car!), but my wife not as much--though, to be fair, as she often pointed out, she was the one who was mostly responsible for schlepping around the kids, having them eat, spill and, on occasion, throw up in the car. As a result, the interior certainly showed its age and wear and tear.

One big plus about this vehicle, however, was the fact that, like all Subarus, it was all-wheel drive which, as skiers, made it very useful for mountain and snow driving! (All the photos of the car are from ski trips.)

Though it was still running well, it was starting to require more engine work in the last year, including problems that couldn’t be entirely solved, even after our mechanic took it to a Subaru dealer’s service garage for a few weeks, which it did under warranty at no cost to us! Over the past two years, my wife and I had agreed it was time for us at some point to purchase a new vehicle, but at the time there was no urgency—but given that repairs on the Subaru were starting to become a financial sinkhole, we finally got our act together and purchased a new car which triggered the sales of both the Forester and the Miata on Craigslist. The mechanic who purchased the Subaru told us that he didn't buy a lot of cars of that age, but said that model had a good reputation and remained in demand.

Anyway, like any expensive longterm possession, we were sorry to see it go, but at the same time we knew it was time and overdue to let it go. So farewell to our Subaru Forester!


Friday, January 20, 2017

REVIEW: Gabriel Over the White House - One Bizarre Film!

Gabriel Over the White House (1933) is a movie I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time, and the transition of presidential power we are seeing today brought it back to mind and seemed a perfect time to finally do so.

I caught this film on the Turner Classic Movies channel many years ago. A website overview accurately describes it as a "you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it movie” and I have to say it’s probably one of the most bizarre, batsh*t craziest films I’ve ever seen. This is a film that I pretty much watched with my jaw dropped virtually the whole time.

It’s been many years since I saw the film so I did some research to refresh my memory about its storyline, and, giving credit where credit is due, I quote extensively from those plot summaries below.

Set in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, Walter Huston plays newly elected President Judson Hammond, a corrupt slacker and product of cronyism,

who is involved in a serious car accident and, while recovering, receives a visit from the Archangel Gabriel. Forced to acknowledge the desperate state of the country due to his poor leadership, the President vows to set the nation right, fires the crooked cabinet members who got him elected and transforms himself into an all-powerful dictator who wages war against organized crime, all in a determined bid to restore social order in America. [The film is a] political allegory that was one of the first...to openly address the problems resulting from the Great Depression such as unemployment, homeless people and the rising crime rate. [from TCM] 
He becomes a champion of the working man, redirecting the angry unemployed toward rebuilding the country on the government’s nickel. Hammond becomes an enemy to crooked men of all stripes, having them removed from positions of power, and in some cases, tried and executed by makeshift military tribunals. Meanwhile, on the global stage the president uses the United States’ military might to persuade the nations of the world to pay off their war debts and sign disarmament agreements. Hammond accomplishes all this by declaring a state of national emergency that allows him to bypass Congress and the courts.... [from A.V. Club]

The clip below from the film features one of the film’s most crazy, surreal scenes, where a bunch of gangsters are tried by a military tribunal and immediately executed!


The film was released by MGM and co-produced by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the Rupert Murdoch of his day (and perhaps most notoriously, the model for Charles Foster Kane, the titular character of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane) and released just as Franklin Roosevelt was entering his first year in office.

At its core, the film is essentially a call to the new president to assume full totalitarian powers in order to restore prosperity, security and ensure world peace. In case you think I’m exaggerating, the film includes the President dissolving Congress when they try to impeach him for overreaching, deputizing the army to act on his orders, and utilizing star chambers not only to prosecute criminals but to also immediately execute them (as seen above)!

As noted by Noel Murray at the A.V. Club website, the film
seems like it should be a cautionary tale, warning American moviegoers of what’ll happen if they’re not more diligent about the leaders they elect. But that’s not what Hearst had in mind at all; rather, he wanted this movie to show how great America could be if, to quote one of Hammond’s lackeys, we could “cut through the red tape of legal procedures and get back to first principles.” Throughout the film, the story keeps seeming like it’s about to take a turn that never comes, to show how Hammond’s un-democratic defense of our democracy is misguided.
I should add that the film ends on as bizarre a note as any random scene you'll find in the film (but no spoilers here!)

Ironically, once Roosevelt got into office and began pursuing a policy at odds with Hearst's values and interests (Hearst was particularly opposed to the New Deal, though this film is full of the president enacting such policies), Hearst turned on Roosevelt. (It’s been noted, that Hearst had a predilection for fascism, as this film amply demonstrates.)

Typical for this day and age, I came across message boards about this film where some posters tried to paint it as the product and fantasy of left- or right-wing propaganda/fantasy. In fact, as Murray notes, the movie is a “curious mix of left-wing piety and right-wing law-and-order rhetoric.” Regardless, it's good to know that both sides think the movie's premise went a little too far!


People can read into it what they like, but the film essentially presents the case for enacting totalitarian rule in the United States—a message that this film ultimately fails miserably at since every act by Hammond and endorsed by Hearst and the film's makers, are all clearcut violations of the Constitution and due process, let alone American tradition, values and democracy. (I should add that the filmmakers further unwittingly undercut Hammond by making his transformation the result of a visit from an angel, which in my mind calls into question his very sanity and fitness for office. A friend also reminded me that it's subtly implied in the film that Hammond has been actually "possessed" by the angel, which still isn't very comforting given the outcome.)

Fortunately, as reaction to the film even in its day demonstrates, people were troubled and appalled with the film's message. At the same time, though unintended, the film exposes the dark side of populism. As history has continued to show (and as we still see today), in times of fear and uncertainty, people the world over—even people of influence like Hearst—are often willing to give up some freedoms and allow a strongman to rule—until, of course, that dictator's promises do not pan out or make things worse. By then, however, it's often too late.


NOTE: The TCM website notes that the film will be aired next on April 6, 2017 at 7:45 a.m.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

End of an Era

Having written previously about my workhorse yet sporty '93 Mazda MX-3 that I sold back in 2010 after I upgraded to a roomier, sporty family sedan, I thought it fitting to write a tribute to my wife's 1995 Mazda MX-5 (or, as it is more commonly known, the Miata), which we finally sold earlier this week with a little more than 108,000 miles over 21 years!

The Miata was introduced in 1989 and basically revived the roadster, continuing in the tradition of the MG and Triumph Spitfire. My then-girlfriend (now wife) purchased the Miata in 1995, replacing another convertible, a white VW rabbit.

As one can imagine, it was a fun, zippy car, perfect of course for the Southern California lifestyle where we live. We took many memorable, enjoyable trips in it, which included taking it to the mountains for a ski trip (I recall we even had to put chains on it) and, one new year's, to Las Vegas.

(On that trip, we drove back to L.A. from Vegas on New Year's Day—after watching the Rose Bowl game at a casino—and got caught in awful traffic on the drive back through the desert. We decided to stop at a hotel at the Nevada-California state line and agreed that if a room wasn't too expensive, we'd stay the night. As it turned out, many people thought the same thing and we were fortunate to get the second-to-last room available. (We know this because the couple on the elevator with us told us they got the last room, right after us!) When we turned on the news in our hotel room, we learned the trip back to L.A. was taking 7 hours, double the normal time! The next morning, we returned to L.A. on a fairly open road.)

My wife and I married in 2000 and had our first child in 2001—shortly after, we purchased a more sensible family car, a Subaru Forester, which became my wife's primary vehicle. The Miata became a third "pleasure" vehicle—to keep it running well, I actually commuted in it to work one or two times a week for many years. When I purchased my own new vehicle in 2010, the Miata no longer got driven as much. (As you can see, we keep our cars for a long time!)

Since the Miata was a third car that we didn't have space in the garage for, we parked the Miata on the street, where the combination of direct sunlight and debris from trees played havoc with the finish. It cleaned up nicely, but after a wash, it only stayed that way for a few days. Over time, the back plastic window turned gritty (I believe current models have glass windows) and the back window zipper became difficult, which discouraged us from driving with the top down.

In fact, for the past several months, it's been sitting in our mechanic's garage—though the engine was actually still running well, I had to take it in because it began backfiring and probably needed to have the timing adjusted. I told the mechanic there was no urgency since it was a third car that we no longer drove that much and he took me at my word—I would periodically check in and he assured me he was looking at it!

At this point, I started mentioning to my wife that it was probably time for us to let the Miata go—my wife agreed, but she joked she still needed to go through the grieving process. It was her dream car.

In any case, after making the decision to purchase a new car for my wife to replace the Subaru, we agreed it was also finally time to get rid of the Miata as well. By then the battery was dead since it had been sitting at the mechanic's for so long, but the mechanic kindly agreed to let me sell it from his lot.

It says a lot for the legacy of the car that I sold it inside of three hours, having received a lot of offers within minutes of posting it on Craigslist (despite the fact that I was upfront about how much work it needed and that it wasn't even running yet due to the dead batter!) I ended up selling it to an individual who actually was rebuilding a Miata and already had a '94 and '96 model.

I'm sure we have pictures somewhere of the car back in the day, but the ones accompanying this post are the ones I took on the day I sold it for the Craiglist posting.

Postscript: Regarding my old MX-3—I sold it back in 2010 with 250,000 miles on it and got an email from the buyer about 6 months ago who told me he was still driving and enjoying it!!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

REVIEW: Rogue One—A Star Wars for Grownups

Some minor spoilers are contained in the review below. They’re clearly marked, but proceed with caution if you haven’t seen the film!

With the Star Wars franchise successfully reinvigorated following last year’s Episode 8: The Force Awakens, the Walt Disney Co., the new owners of Lucasfilms, faced a new hurdle this past holiday season: the cinematic introduction of an independent Star Wars film not part of the main Jedi/Skywalker saga. With the financial success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it appears the franchise has found its footing for expanding the universe cinematically.

As others have noted, the movie more closely follows the beats and feel of a war or heist film than the more mythic, epic feel of the main series. Taking a throwaway line from opening crawl of the original Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope – “During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR…”) Disney built this film to tell that story.

Briefly, Felicity Jones plays loner Jyn Erso whose father, a gifted scientist, happens to have been forced by the Empire to use his knowledge to build the planet-destroying Death Star. Abandoned when her father was taken and her mother killed, she eventually is recruited by the nascent Rebellion (after rescuing her from being a captive of the Empire) to track down her father and the blueprints for the weapon. She forms a team of rebels to join her on the quest. The story climaxes with the epic Battle of Scarif, as Jyn attempts to transmit the plans to the Rebellion.

Spoiler alert for paragraph immediately after the image below!



For me, the highlight was the thrilling ending and other parts of the movie that connect with and segues into the first Star Wars film, A New Hope (now Episode IV). As rebels pass along the stolen plans, Darth Vader (introduced earlier in the film) attempts to board the ship, but the ship escapes before Vader can do so. (I give credit to director and Star Wars fan Gareth Edwards for making the terror of facing Vader the most palpable I've ever seen on screen.) Viewers familiar with the series will immediately recognize the spacecraft as the Tantive IV, Princess Leia’s consular ship seen at the very beginning of A New Hope. This scene is immediately followed by the plans begin given to Princess Leia who will next be seen at the beginning of Episode IV, with a young Carrie Fisher brought to life in this film by CGI—technology used more extensively earlier in the movie to make Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin a central character in the film. This scene immediately feeds into the beginning of A New Hope—in fact, I re-watched that film with my children the very next day (followed by a viewing of The Force Awakens).

I should note that even minor characters from the series are brought back, most notably in the Battle of Scarif sequence, as many of the rebel fighters seen in the Death Star battle in A New Hope appear in this film, courtesy of unused footage from the earlier 1977 film.

While some have exhorted that “This is the best Star Wars ever!”, I wouldn’t quite go that far—while ultimately poignant, the characters frankly aren’t quite as memorable. (In my book, Daisy Ridley set a very high bar as a Star Wars protagonist in her portrayal of Rey in The Force Awakens, making her a worthy successor to Luke, Leia, Han of the original trilogy.)

Minor spoiler alert here: 


With its dark ending and message of real sacrifice, Rogue One is the first Star Wars film made expressly for grownups and especially for the audience who saw the original Star Wars as kids and took the story and characters very seriously. Here is the film that goes beyond the kid-friendly, fairytale tone of the previous films and treats it as “real”—as many of us believed and wished it to be when we were young.




Sunday, January 8, 2017

REVIEWS: Pitch and the Crown

Below are two way overdue reviews that I'm finally getting around to posting...

Though the Netflix series The Crown about Queen Elizabeth II and Fox’s Pitch might seem worlds apart, both respectively pull back the curtains and demystify the figures, traditions, politics, and rituals of Major League Baseball and British royal sovereignty.

Pitch
Pitch follows the improbable rise of Ginny Baker (played by winning newcomer Kylie Bunbury) as the first female player/pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB), as she breaks in with the San Diego Padres. While the writing doesn’t quite live up to the Aaron Sorkin-type of smart, clever writing it obviously aspires to, the characters and storylines are nevertheless compelling and watchable, if occasionally soap operaish. What particularly makes the series work is the high production value and the support and participation of the MLB itself, as well as several sports shows and personalities, which all lend authenticity to the show. Having attended several games the last couple of seasons at the Padres’ very photogenic stadium, Petco Park, it’s a delight to watch them film in and around the venue.

And while much of the series, of course, rests on the shoulders of Ginny Baker as she struggles to transition into pro ball under the glare of the social media microscope and 24/7 news cycle, it also provides a fun look at other aspects of the game (and business), making it as much like Moneyball, the book and story that told some of the story behind the business of baseball and the complexities of trades and contracts, as, say, 42, about Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier. It helps that the show has a quality deep bench of a supporting cast, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar (from, of course, Saved by the Bell) as team captain/catcher Mike Lawson, who is near the end of his athletic career; Ali Carter as Baker’s agent; Dan Lauria as the manager; Mark Consuelos, as the general manager; and Bob Balaban as the team owner. While the story deftly mixes in soap opera, humor and sexual tension, it also provides a behind the scenes look at the business, superstitions and rituals of baseball, like the wheeling and dealing involved in waiver deadline trades, baseball clubhouse kangaroo courts, and the superstition of not talking to the pitcher while a no-hitter is in progress.



Last I heard, Pitch was struggling in the ratings and a second season was still up in the air—in retrospect, I can see why. While I’m sure the producers would like to assure everyone that the show is for anyone who just likes good story and the show definitely works at that level, it’s not clear whether baseball fans are interested in a fictional behind the scenes look at the sport (or interested in an alternative world where a woman is called up to the MLB), nor appeal to television viewers who otherwise have no interest in sports and baseball.

At the end of the day, the show is a “workplace” drama(dy?) that happens to be set in baseball. But whether or not the network will be able to successfully market it that way remains to be seen. So, for now, enjoy it while you can!

The Crown
I have to say, although The Crown received great reviews when it dropped on Netflix (reportedly their most expensive production to date), I found the first episode a bit boring and not very compelling. While the first episode was clearly intended to provide you with a context for Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne by introducing key figures— particularly her father, George VI, portrayed by Jared Harris—the characters felt distant and opaque, contrary to what the reviews led me to believe.

I’m glad I stuck with it, however, because the series definitely improved with each episode and was definitely binge-addicting. The characters quickly came out of the shadows, with flashbacks to provide backstory and context. The series plans to cover Elizabeth’s full reign and the first series covers the first 10 years. It is not a fully detailed chronological history; instead, each episode hits on the touchstones, personalities and incidents that played a role in Elizabeth’s growth and development as sovereign. Though I'm hardly a "royal watcher," I always have been fascinated by stories that demystify formal protocol and tradition, as well as power and authority, so watching how Elizabeth is treated differently as Queen—and how she tries to modernize the monarchy while retaining the traditions and dignity of the crown—is right up my alley. Of course, there also is plenty of political and family intrigue along the way, which gives the series an opportunity to focus on some of the other  colorful figures of the period, most notably Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, whose abdication to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson led to the ascension of his brother, George VI, whose somewhat premature death would open the door to Elizabeth II’s assumption of the throne. Indeed, both figures have episodes devoted mostly to them.



In this first season, covering roughly the first 10 years of her reign, we learn of the important role that Winston Churchill played in these early years (played by respected American actor John Lithgow in a bit of stunt casting that pays off). Churchill by this time was at the end of his career and had perhaps begun overstaying his welcome—and Elizabeth calls him out on it  at one point by noting that her role as a new monarch has given him the cover to stay on. Nevertheless, while Churchill was in many ways the consummate politician, he also clearly acted in what he thought was the best interest both of Great Britain and the monarchy. We also learn of the limits of a modern-day, democratic constitutional monarchy, how constricted she actually is in both her political and personal life, of how circumspect and non-partisan she must be, and of the great responsibility she bears living a public life. While her spouse, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (played by former Dr. Who Matt Smith), has always had a reputation of being a bit of a prig, we nevertheless get a sense of their relationship and the importance of his support, despite his initial difficulty in being married to his sovereign, as well as not being allowed to pass on his family name to his heirs. (Partly for political reasons, Elizabeth elects to have her children carry the surname of Windsor rather than his Mountbatten. This was softened in later years when it was decreed that those not with royal titles in the line of succession could carry the name Windsor-Mountbatten.)

While The Crown takes us behind the scenes of the royal family and airs some dirty laundry (the cattiness of Prince Edward is particularly fun stuff, though the character eventually becomes poignant), if anything, this portrayal manages to maintain the dignity of Elizabeth and her family and underscore Shakespeare’s observation in “King Henry IV”: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

Bonus Review: A Royal Night Out
A little prior to The Crown hitting Netflix, another film featuring Elizabeth, A Royal Night Out, also was made available on the platform through streaming. The film follows the adventures of Princess Elizabeth (“Lilibet”) and her sister, Princess Margaret, as they get permission to celebrate incognito in public among the hoi polloi for the night on VE Day (Victory in Europe, May 8, 1945, the date Germany surrendered to the Allies, thus ending World War II in the European theater). In the story, the girls become inadvertently separated, with Elizabeth catching up with an airman and Margaret with some individuals of rather low repute.

Though the story is a light confection (and, apparently, completely fictionalized from what the princesses actually did that night), what makes it noteworthy are the winning performances of the well-cast Sarah Gadon as the young but sensible Elizabeth and Bel Powley as the flighty, somewhat goofy “P2,” Margaret (Margaret is portrayed in a much kinder, sympathetic manner in The Crown, as a somewhat tragic figure, while here she is more comic relief). I’d be hard-pressed to say whether Gadon or The Crown’s Claire Foy is the better Elizabeth, but you can’t go wrong with either! Like The Crown, you get a sense of how serious Elizabeth took her responsibility as monarch in waiting—and as mentioned above, as someone who is fascinated by behind-the-scenes looks at the power of office, like The Crown, there is a fascinating, effecting scene in how everyone’s demeanor towards Elizabeth changes the moment they realized they a member of the royal family is among them.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Entertainment Round up for 2016



As I do every year, here's a round up of my entertainment diversions from 2016...

As usual, it was the usual smorgasbord of entertainment, particularly given that, in addition to having DirecTV, I also maintain Amazon Prime and Netflix accounts. But this past season, network/basic television made it back onto my radar, with shows like Pitch, The Goldbergs and Timeless being particular favorites (though I admittedly lost the thread to Timeless as the season went on). And with Netflix and Amazon Prime Streaming services part of my menu, binge-worthy shows like The Crown (Netflix) and Good Girls Revolt (Amazon) made it onto my plate.

As is typical in recent years, I caught up with some previous year's films this year when they made it onto DVD/streaming — last year's Oscar Best Picture winner Spotlight, turned out to be terrific, as did The Big Short.  Other older films I caught up with which turned out to be winners were Love and Mercy and Mr. Holmes. Among my favorites this year were the sleeper Sing Street, which I caught on Netflix after Entertainment Weekly included it on their list of Best 10 Films for 2016, and Florence Foster Jenkins. (I'd like to add for the record that I also enjoyed the 2016-released film musical La La Land in the theaters, though I technically did not see it in 2016—I caught it New Year's Day 2017.) And, yes, I caught many of this year's geek blockbusters, including DeadpoolBatman vs. Superman: Dawn of JusticeCaptain America: Civil WarSuicide SquadDoctor Strange, and Star Wars: Rogue One, in theaters. Captain America, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One were great popcorn movies—while I probably would say I enjoyed Force Awakens more than Rogue One, the latter's segue into Star Wars: A New Hope at the end made the entire film worth it.

In addition to the afore-mentioned Crown and Good Girls Revolt, tops on my list of serial television shows were Fleabag (Amazon), Love (Season 1 - Netflix), The Real Rob (Season 1 - Netflix), Easy (Season 1 - Netflix), and seasons 1 and 2 of Documentary Now! Let me also add the documentary about Kitty Genovese, The Witness, to this list of memorable streaming television this past year. Among the plays I saw this past year, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" was an enjoyable romp and, among books, I greatly enjoyed Washington's Circle and volume I of cartoonist Osamu Tezuka's multi-volume graphic novel, Message to Adolf, which reads as the equivalent of a serialized drama one would find on Netflix or Amazon.

I often use this annual post as an opportunity to list what I thought were the worst films or otherwise disappointing. Among those that disappointed me was director/writer Warren Beatty's latest, Rules Don't Apply; I also thought Deadpool and Suicide Squad were overrated films. Amazon's Man in the High Castle also was a letdown. After barely making it through the first episode, I decided to give it another show, but still found it tough going after four episodes. Though I'm familiar with the book and the concept seems right up my alley, about an alternative world where Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and now occupy the U.S.—the show was not only dour to the extreme, but even worse, plain boring.

In any case, without any further ado, here's my watch list...

Films:

Remember the Night (1/16/2016)
Adult World - Netflix streaming (1/23/2016)
Experimenter (2/16/16)
Deadpool (2/27/2016)
Dope- Netflix streaming (3/11/2016)
Man Up - Netflix streaming (3/12/2016)
Summer of ‘42 - TCM (3/12/2016)
Trainwreck - DVD (3/14/2016)
Man from UNCLE - DVD (3/14/2016)
Flight (3/18/2016)
Mortdecai - Amazon streaming (3/3016)
For a Good Time Call (3/30/16)
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (4/2/2016)
Hudsucker Proxy - Amazon streaming (4/23/16)
The Campaign - TV (4/24/16)
Special Correspondents - Netflix streaming (5/6/16)
All Through the Night - TMC (5/5/16)
Captain America: Civil War (5/7/16)
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (5/9/16)
W/ Bob and David: Season 1: "Episode 2" - Netflix streaming (5/11/2016)
Break Point - Amazon streaming (5/13/16)
Pawn Sacrifice - Amazon streaming (5/14/16)
The Big Short - DVD (5/14/16)
Palo Alto - Amazon streaming (5/15/16)
That Gal…Who Was in That Thing: That Guy 2 - Netflix streaming (5/17/16)
Scoop  - Netflix streaming (5/17/16)
Spotlight - DVD (5/15/16)
Dear Mr. Watterson (5/20/16)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Amazon Prime (5/25/16)
A.C.O.D. (A Child of Divorce)  - Netflix streaming (5/28/16)
Gran Torino - cable (6/16)
Love and Mercy - Amazon Prime (6/11/16)
The Late Shift - Amazon Prime
The Last Tycoon - Amazon Prime (06/17/2016)
Now You See Me (06/15/2016)
We Are the Millers (06/23/16)
Unstoppable (6/24/16)
The Fundamentals of Caring (6/28/16)
Star Trek: Beyond (07/30/16)
David Cross: Making America Great Again! - Netflix (8/6/16)
Suicide Squad (8/7/2016)
Mr. Holmes - Amazon Prime (8/24/16)
Bob Roberts - Amazon Prime(8/25/16)
Elvis and Nixon - Amazon Prime (8/25/16)
Teacher’s Pet - Netflix (8/29/16)
Escape from East Berlin (9/3/16)
Mississippi Burning (9/4/16)
The Other Woman (9/4/16)
Florence Foster Jenkins (9/5/16)
Do the Right Thing (9/10/16)
Trouble with the Curve (9/19/16)
Mascots (10/15/16)
Trumbo
Doctor Strange (11/12/16)
The Commitments - Netflix (11/13/16)
Love, Rosie - Amazon (11/16/16)
Spectre (11/21/16)
Moana (11/24/16)
The Commitments (11/26/16)
Rules Don’t Apply (11/26/16)
Floyd Norman: An Animated Life (11/27/16)
I Am Your Father (11/28/2016)
The Witness (12/3/2016)
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (12/3/2016)
Unlocking Sherlock - Netflix (12/3/2016)
Sing Street - Netflix (12/11/2016)
Star Wars: Rogue One (12/18/2016)
Elstree 2976 - Netflix
Background to Danger - TCM (12/31/2016)


Television:

Peep Show - Seasons 1-5  (6/27/2016)
Bored to Death, Seasons 1-3 (4/30/16)
Madoff (2/3-4/2016)
Angie Tribeca (1/17/2016)
War & Peace
Mercy Street
Downton Abbey, Season 6
Agent Carter
Love, Season 1 - Netflix Streaming (2/26/2016)
Master of None, Season 1  (3/2016)
The Real Rob (3/2016)
Portlandia Season 1 and 2 (6/5/2016)
To the End of the World - Netflix Streaming (06/23/16)
Fleabag - Amazon streaming (9/16/16)
Lovesick, Season 1, episodes 1 and 2 - Netflix (11/17/16)
Good Girls Revolt, Season 1 - Amazon Prime (11/2016)
The Crown - Netflix (11/20/16)
Easy, Season 1 - Netflix (12/3/2016)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 2 - Netflix streaming
Pitch
Timeless
Documentary Now! Seasons 1 and 2
Man in the High Castle, Season 1 (eps 1-3)

Plays/Live Performance:

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder - Ahmanson Theatre (4/24/2016)
Dream Girls (5/8/2016)
JAVA Gala VIII (6/4/2016)
L.A. Dodgers (7/5/2016)
Hollywood Babble-On at the Improv (8/13/2016)
San Diego Padres (8/18/2016)
San Diego Zoo (8/19/2016)
Actor's Gang/Shakespeare in the Park: Romeo and Juliet and Pokemon Go (8/21/2016)

Books:

Washington’s Circle by David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler
Playboy 50th Anniversary Interviews - John Lennon and Yoko Ono (2/4/2016)
Playboy 50th Anniversary Interviews - Screen Gods (3/15/2016)
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
Message to Adolf, Volume I by Osamu Tezuka
American Flagg! Volume I by Howard Chaykin
American Flagg! Volume II by Howard Chaykin