Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Twenty Things I Most Enjoyed This Year: An All-Encompassing Mega-List

Ah, the end of the year... a time for reflection, a time for drinking champagne until you puke into someone's decorative umbrella stand, a time for... above all else... ranking all the things you enjoyed over the past 365 days in order to best reflect your personality without having to actually put forth the effort of connecting to another human being on a deep, emotional level. If, per Nick Hornby, we are what we like, then the end of the year is THE prime time to take stock of who exactly we think we are and... once everything has been appropriately quantified and numerically ordered... present it to the world in the hopes that someone else will like the things we like and, thus, like us too.

Gotta love the shallowness of humanity.

Anyway... so I've made my list (I am not above shallowness). However, it's a little different than some of the others floating around the interweb... See, thing is, I'd love to write a Top Ten Movies list and Ten Best Albums list and so on and so forth... I, like a lot of late-20's American males, get off on that sort of thing. However, my consumption of movies, of albums, of books , TV shows... well... it just isn't that great or prolific or whatever you want to call it. And what I do consume, half of it isn't even FROM this year! Being uninformed makes for poor list-making, sadly. But that's okay... I've developed a loophole:

My big, hairy, fancypants End of the Year list will consist NOT of the things I enjoyed most that bore a release date of 2008! NO!!! It will simply be the things I enjoyed the most... period; the twenty things from all the mediums that, for lack of a better phrase, melted my butter during the last twelve months. I am a trailblazer.

So, without further adieu, I give you C-dog's 2008...


20. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia - All credit goes to Ex-Cubicle-Mate Andrew for turning me on to this gloriously nasty, retardedly funny show. Never has meanness been so entertaining.

19. ”The Millionaire” by Dr. Hook- My favorite song of the year, hands down, and it was recorded in 1975. It tells the tune of a regular slob loser who's totally whatever except for the fact that he's... you know... ridiculously wealthy. It think we can all relate, or at least we wish we could.

18. Cloverfield - Yes, this did come out in 2008; January 18th, to be exact, so it only barely counts. But a ridiculously early release date doesn't change the fact that this was easily one of the best, most inventive genre pics on screen this year. Let me put it to you this way: I only saw it once, on the day after it opened, and I'm STILL thinking about it now. I think that says everything there is to say.

17. In The Heights original cast recording - The only reason this hip-hop, Latin-flavored musical isn't higher on my list is because... sadly... I haven't technically seen it (yet). I have, however, listened to the soundtrack so many times that I could fill in for any of the leads (females included) if they come down with the flu.

16. The Office (US) - This one is sort of a cheat, as I've been watching The Office for the past two years. HOWEVER, during my time of unemployment, this show has taken on a whole new life for me. Through the magic of Netflix Instant, I've been able to rewatch the entire series from the beginning... and rewatch it again... and again... Some might say that I've latched on to a show that's, nominally at least, about working because I myself am currently not, however, were that actually the case... well, that would just be sad. So let's just say that I've been obsessively viewing The Office because it's a brilliant comedy with a flawless cast who are all my friends now in the workplace in my brain. We get up to shenanigans.

15. Half-Life 2 - I'm not much of a gamer, per se, but I do have an insatiable bloodlust that must be quenched every so often and damned if Half-Life 2 isn't just the Gatorade to get the job done. Lots of weapons (including a nifty gravity gun), difficult but not impossible AI, and... of course... zombies. What more could you ask for in a game? Okay, boobies, but that's all it's missing.

14. The stand-up of Mike Birbiglia - Deeply funny, but not caustic or mean; listening to Mike Birbiglia do stand-up is like having your best friend tell you stories in a manner that causes you to hork beer out your nose. He's got an Off-Broadway show right now, so he's not really touring, but his DVD What I Should Have Said Was Nothing is available for your renting pleasure.

13. Rock of Ages - You know what sounds ass-y on paper? A campy musical where all the songs are 80's hair-metal tunes by the likes of Journey and Warrant and Poison. But you know what totally kicks ass and melts faces and leaves you walking out the theater feeling uplifted and awesome in actual application? The same.

12. Let The Right One In - A seamless blend of coming-of-age teen melodrama and an icy, vampire thriller, Let The Right One In makes that OTHER teens-as-bloodsuckers movie look like a pile of Hot Topic-approved diarrhea.

11. Weeds - Over the summer, Girlfriend and I burned through the DVDs of two excellent pay-cable shows in their entirety; this was the first one. Hilarious, sharp-witted and surprisingly moving, I intend to follow the Botwin clan to wherever their crazy drug-dealing lives may lead. A special nod to Justin Kirk; as the main character's n'er-do-well brother in law, he is putting forth one of the best televised comedic performances of the last ten years. The fact that he hasn't been showered with praise and awards and isn't headlining major Hollywood movies is travesty.

10. ”Re-Arrange Us” by Mates of State - This album got really bad reviews when it was first released... and... yet... it seems to be popping up on a lot of Best Of lists for something so supposedly awful. Just goes to show you that insanely catchy power-pop will not be denied, even if the critics don't at first think it's "cool."

9. Roger the Alien - The most drop-dead funny animated character since Homer Simpson. American Dad! is kind of hit or miss (more hits than misses these days, but still), but anytime Roger is on screen... I'm a-laughin'. Turns out a Paul Lynde impression and multiple costume changes is the recipe for comedy gold.

8. Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog - Joss Whedon, generally, can do no wrong. Add to that the one-two punch of Neil Patrick Harris and Nathon Fillion, a bunch of Broadway-ready musical numbers, and a shockingly bleak ending and you've got cold, hard proof that the internet is the new horizon for must-see entertainment. In twenty years, when everything is produced via the web, we will look back at the release of Dr. Horrible as the singular moment that changed the way we consume our media.

7. The sci-fi novels of Jonathan Lethem - Mainly "As She Climbed Across The Table," but also his short story collection "The Wall of the Sky, The Wall of the Eye." Hands down, the most inventive, crazy-go-nuts books I've read in a long-ass time. It's shit you read that makes you feel humble because there is NO WAY you could have ever thought of the stuff he comes up with.

6. ”Alligator” and “Boxer” by The National - If Leonard Cohen was 28 and in a Brooklyn-based indie rock band, it would sound almost like... but not quite as good as... The National. The songs they produce are, quite simply, transformative. If you're looking for a soundtrack to a broken-hearted cross country drive, look no further than these two end-to-end stellar albums.

5. Frost/Nixon - The televised political interview presented spectacularly as a life-or-death duel. The filmmaking itself is top-notch, but the movie shines pretty much exclusively due to it's lead performances; Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon are both at the top of their game and a true pleasure to watch.

4. Mad Men - Holy shit, how excellent is this show? I've only seen the first season at this point, but it basically knocked me on my ass from the first scene onward. Cannot wait until season two is released on DVD; am considering inventing time travel to help speed things along. Also, where has Hollywood been hiding Jon Hamm?

3. Six Feet Under - This would be the OTHER pay-cable show Girlfriend and I burned through. And... wow. It's hard to put into words how much this show affected me. I'm not going to say it's perfect... season four, in particular, is a little shaky... but by the end of the series, if you're not curled up in a ball in a puddle of your own tears, then you are a fucking robot. Six Feet Under hits consistently and thoroughly with the power and force of an atom bomb.

2. The Dark Knight - A superhero movie that reminds one more of The Departed than of anything from the DC archives, The Dark Knight did nothing less than reinvent the summer blockbuster and, almost as an afterthought, blow all our minds clean out of our heads. A flawless movie from every angle, PLUS it contains Heath Ledger's Joker... as iconic a villain as our times will ever produce.

1. ”Stay Positive” by The Hold Steady - This earns the number one spot for one reason... when I'm eighty and living in a nursing home, I will STILL be listening to this album. An instant classic about nothing loftier than boozing and partying and sleeping around, "Stay Positive" manages to remind you of how much fun you've had in your life AND keep you focused on how much there is out there to live for. It's a laid-back epic masterpiece and, seriously, my favorite thing of 2008.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on It's Always Sunny - funniest show on TV. Unfortunately, that's as far as I got on your list because my attention span is too short to read anything that long.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

My verbosity is a blessing and a curse.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Yea Rock of Ages!

11:14 AM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

Thanks for recommending those sci-fi books. I'm always on the look out for something good to read. I will definatley be checking these out.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Big Daddy said...

Rock Of Ages is being turned in to a film.

4:27 PM  
Blogger TFKoP said...

I see you didn't list any podcasts...

9:22 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Hey, C, I saw that Birbiglia show in the Village and wrote about it here. And YES-- Dr. Horrible was fantastic.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Subway Gal said...

I looooove Roger the alien. He is quite hysterical and I'm glad he made the cut and got on your list.

12:26 PM  

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