Monday, December 25, 2017

My favourite things of 2017

Let's face it, 2017 has not been a great year. Our friends to the south seem to be going through a bit of a rough patch right now and nerves are frayed everywhere. Still, it's not all bad and in this little corner of the internet, we like to concentrate on the positives. In that spirit, I am going to highlight my favourite movie, music and game releases of the year.

I saw quite a few movies this year. Some were very good (Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2, Dunkirk, Blade Runner 2049). Some were enjoyable, but flawed (Justice League, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kong: Skull Island). Some were immediately forgettable (The Dark Tower). But for me, the best movie of the year was...(drumroll please)...Logan. Man, did this movie speak to me. Having recently entered my second half century, I could feel every ache and pain Logan endured in his daily life. I don't have an adamantium claw that keeps getting stuck, but my knees are shot and I have an old shoulder injury that hasn't stopped hurting in five years. The struggle of dealing with an increasingly demented Charles Xavier and an uncommunicative "daughter" resonated with own life navigating fatherhood and aging parents. Logan was gut-wrenching, but I was feeling every minute of it. A superhero movie for Generation X.

It wasn't a great year in music, although seeing Sabaton in concert was certainly the highlight for me. As far as new releases go, I am going to divide up my picks into three categories, both because they cover the three kinds of music I love most; rock, metal and country, but also because the three best albums of the year fit this categorization. In the rock category, you have to look at newcomers, Greta Van Fleet. This foursome made up of the brothers Kiszka (Josh, Sam and Jake) and drummer Danny Wagner are the reincarnation of Led Zeppelin. I'm not kidding, these guys really sound like Zeppelin. Listen to Highway Tune or Safari Song from their 2017 double EP From the Fires and you'll swear you were listening to some unreleased Led Zeppelin B-side from the 70s.

In the metal category, wow, 2016 was awesome, huh? Metallica came back with a vengeance. And speaking of vengeance, Avenged Sevenfold had a pretty awesome album drop too.  Wait...oh right, this is 2017. Hmmm, Mastodon had a new album out that some people liked I guess. Kind of slim pickings this year. For me, I will go back to that Sabaton tour and a little known band from Finland called Battle Beast that opened along with Leaves' Eyes and damn near upstaged the headliners. My metal album of the year is Bringer of Pain by Battle Beast.

As for country, it was Chris Stapleton all the way. Following up his 2015 chart-topping debut Traveller, Stapleton released two albums in 2017; From A Room: Volume 1 and From A Room: Volume 2. It is from this second 2017 release that I select my 2017 Song of the Year: Scarecrow in the Garden, a haunting ballad sung by a farmer in West Virginia lamenting the state of the land today compared to when his father and grandfather worked it, and his fear that the biblical End Times may be coming soon.

We've all been waiting for this one and really, is there any doubt? The game release of 2017 is, of course, the Starfinder Core Rulebook. Not only is this the biggest new release by Paizo since the original publication of Pathfinder, but it has also been a source of much speculation regarding a future new edition of the game. Could the game mechanics of Starfinder serve as a template for some future Pathfinder 2.0? Now that would be cool!

May we all have a safe and prosperous 2018.


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