The 15 Best Things of ’15 – Part 2

Yesterday, we started our year end recap of the 15 best nerd things in 2015 (according to me) by looking at things #15-#11.

Today as we move into #10-#6, we’ll begin looking at some things that had a strong impact on the culture and also on me on a personal level. Let’s dive right in.

10. Star Wars Battlefront

I don’t think I’m tipping my hand to much by saying this isn’t the only time something Star Wars related will appear on this list.

From the time I was 8 I began pretending I was Luke, Han, or even Darth Vader. As I grew up I had several opportunities to play as them in video games but most of the time the games never played that well which often left me pretending the games were better than they actually were (see: Masters of the Teras Kasi – the worst fighting game ever.)

Now, I don’t play as many story driven games and instead I play mostly games were I can play 20-30 minutes here and there. That’s why I’m such a fan of shooters and fighting games (like Mortal Kombat mentioned yesterday).

This year, the masterminds behind the Battlefield franchise tried their hand at the Star Wars universe and the results are amazing.

Star Wars Battlefront is the most visually impressive game I’ve seen on the current generation of consoles.It’s not just the massive 20 vs 20 matches though that is impressive.

What is most impressive is how it nails every visual and audio cue of the franchises and sprinkles in the John Williams score (and some music “inspired” by it) so that it is the closest I will ever feel to actually wielding a lightsaber, flying a TIE fighter, X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon or fight for the Rebellion…or the Empire.

Couple that with its release less than a month before the Force Awakens and you’ve got the perfect fanboy game that transported me back to my living room as an 8 year old pretending I was Luke on the Falcon shooting down TIE Fighters while watching the movie on television.

 

 

9. Making a Murderer

On the total opposite end of the spectrum is this Netflix documentary. It is both tragic and fascinating in that it follows a man who was wrongfully convicted on a rape charge and spent 18 years in prison. Less than 2 years after being exonerated, Steve Avery finds himself back in the little town limelight again as he is charged with murder that he also claims innocence in.

The show manages to send the viewer on several emotional roller coasters. There are real life heroes and villains representing both sides of the law.

Was he framed or was he guilty?

I’m sure most who see it will feel strongly one way or the other.

This year had a strong showing from the true crime category as HBO’s “The Jinx – the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” was also “must see tv”.

Why I believe this has been so captivating to me, especially Making, is how it is easy to see how someone would react to being wrongfully accused and imprisoned for someone else’s crimes or sins. His reactions seem normal. However, when I stop to think about the way that Jesus took my treason, sins, and failings and willingly took responsibility and ultimately the punishment they all deserved I’m left humbled and grateful.

…I also realize I should never visit any small town in Wisconsin.

 

 

8. John Harbaugh to the University of Michigan

I grew up a fan of Michigan football. Every Saturday I watched as the greats like Tom Brady, Tyrone Wheatly, Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, Anthony Thomas, Mike Hart, etc. etc. would take the field for the Maize and Blue but when Lloyd Carr retired things took a dramatic turn for the worst.

I compared it to what I had witnessed with the big “C” Church. Both U of M and the Church had fallen in love with themselves and with their own legacy. There was a reluctance to admit that doing what they had always done wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

Times had change and they refused to do the same. The goal was winning, right? Whether it be games on a field or people to following Jesus, that was the ultimate test.

Because Michigan ran Rich Rodriguez out of town after only a couple seasons (because he wasn’t doing it the way the big shots wanted) they soon found themselves in a deep, dark hole where they were no longer considered a threat by anyone. (Side note – take a look at what Rich Rod has done with the Arizona Wildcats. He could have done it here too with time and less interference.)

Michigan then hired Brady Hoke as their new coach because he was a “Michigan Man”. The highpoint of living in the past happened under his time as coach – when they introduced legacy numbers giving Devin Gardner (a player who deserved better) the classic QB number of…98. Just like that QB everyone always talks about Tom Brady  Tom Harmon.

At this point, I was out. It was the same reason I planted a church. I felt that to reach a new generation for Christ what was needed was the same message of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation it just needed a new presentation method that would connect with what was really happening.

I was ready to walk away from Michigan football.

Enter the khaki wearing, shirtless scrimmaging, hat throwing, puffy coat unzipping, Gatorade as a milk substitute cereal eating, charismatic former Michigan QB and former coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Stanford Cardinals.

We all hoped that he would be the right man to turn the program around and with his emphasis on the future of football (look at how he loves tight ends, the present of the NFL) and winning everything – from sprints in practice to deadlifts in the weight room to games on the field, Jim Harbaugh has helped the program turn around quickly.

With a blended approach of old and new he’s doing what Michigan has needed and what the Church could learn to do better as well.

Jim Harbaugh

 

7. Destiny: the Taken King

The second video game to make the cut today is almost a full reboot of the Destiny game that released a year earlier.

Bungie, the company who created and built Halo into a juggernaut franchise, had sold the game to Microsoft and started a new project that plays like an RPG (role playing game) mixed with a shooter.

With the Taken King, Bungie improved on nearly every aspect of the game. It has always had incredible shooting mechanics but it had lacked some depth in terms and replayability.

The Taken King (also known as Destiny 2.0) it now remains a game that I throw into the XBOX every now and again to search for that new gun or piece of gear. It scratches that itch of wanting to play a shooter and see character growth.

(Hey, you do remember I am a nerd right? Here I am, still defending my love of video games.)

 

 

6. Better Call Saul

If I’m being completely honest then this is where things started getting difficult.

Bob Odenkirk reprises his role from “Breaking Bad” as Saul Goodman, a shady lawyer who served as comic relief on a show that often carried a heavy tone. Honestly, I often got excited whenever I saw that it was going to be a “Breaking Bad” episode that had Saul in it.

In “Better Call Saul” there isn’t the emotional grit that I often felt watching “Breaking Bad” but it doesn’t sacrifice intensity and that punch you’d hope for.

What writer/creator Vince Gilligan manages to do in this spin off is give us the back story to Slippin’ Jimmy aka Saul Goodman, and in the debut season we journey with James McGill as he starts to take a trip towards the dark side of the criminal justice system ultimately creating the persona of Saul Goodman.

Odenkirk’s portrayal is strong, pulling us into this world where we often root for the title character and feel heavily invested in him, even when he’s making bad decisions.

It shows how one man with good intentions can be taken down a path that he never wants for himself but once there, he may be unable to pull himself out without divine intervention.

The show is one of the best written shows on television and the second season may be the thing I’m most looking forward to in 2016.

 

There we have day two of our list! I’m looking forward to sharing the top 5 things from 2015 with you all tomorrow!

Again, I hope that if you haven’t had a chance to view or play these things that you’d considered giving one or two of them a shot.

You can engage in any of these things and entertain them with the mind of learning to be more like Christ.

Until tomorrow!

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