New Year’s Eve, 2010

New Year's Eve 2010

As we sit down to ring in the New Year (or, in the case of my wife and I, stand up and play Guitar Hero to ring in the New Year), let’s take a few minutes to look back at the year that was.  I have no idea what is, but I thought this was fun.

While watching that video I couldn’t help but wonder how much of this stuff we’ll remember in ten years.  Chatroulette?  I barely even knew what that was at the time.  My only real experience with it was watching the guy that looks like Ben Folds make up songs about people.

So let’s take a look back at a year in review video from ten years ago and see how much we remember.

Oh god I miss ten years ago so much!  Elian Gonzalez!  It’s all so quaint.  Seriously, though, that video was absolutely no help.  I remember everything in it, mostly because it is about 75% Bush v. Gore.  I’m pretty sure some other stuff happened in the year 2000.  You so rarely fail me, YouTube.

Anywayz, I hope everyone has a safe and exciting New Year’s Eve, and let’s try to keep it together in 2011!  It’s only 24 short months until the Mayan Apocalypse; let’s do our best to comport ourselves well.  Play us out, Robert.

[First video via Mediaite]

Songs, 2010

Songs 2010_edited-2

I enjoyed making my list of favorite albums of the year more than this list, because it’s easier to think of things to say about an entire album than it is a single song, but this list is probably more appropriate for the times in which we live.  It also allowed me to include some stuff that couldn’t make the albums list because it is from an EP or an otherwise unspectacular album.

A few notes: If the song was released as a single, I generally used the single’s release date, if only to get some great songs from albums released in 2009 on the list (notably the two Florence + the Machine songs near the top).  Also, sorry that this takes a minute to load; I think I’m going to have to start breaking up these video-heavy entries up into multiple parts.  As always, this is not a list of the best songs of the year, which I don’t necessarily feel qualified to write, and rather just a list of my favorites.

Remind to listen to some more hip hop in 2011.  All that really made the list here is Kanye, and that doesn’t even completely sound like what I think of as hip hop anymore.  I miss it.

40) MNDR – “I Go Away”

As I’ve said before, I’m very charmed by MNDR, even though normally someone with as many affectations as she obviously has would drive me crazy.  OK, by “many affectations” I really just mean her crazy, unnecessary glasses.  That’s pretty much all I know about her.  Also, yes, I know it’s technically a duo, but c’mon, you know what I mean.  Don’t be that person.

39) Active Child – “When Your Love Is Safe”

I was introduced to this band and several others on this list by this great post over at Stereogum, so props to them.  This song sounds like it could have been an outtake from that Holland album Beirut put out under the name Realpeople.  You know, falsetto vocals on top of pretty electronic music.  Although, in the video below it isn’t electronic.

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Movies, 2010

Movies 2010_edited-1

I had such big plans for my Christmas in Boston.  We were going to see so many movies!  One every other day, or maybe even more than that!  I was going to see True Grit, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, all the movies that aren’t yet playing in Chapel Hill.  I was going to really beef up this list and make up for the fact that I didn’t make it to the theater much this year.

Alas, time flew and whatnot, and none of this happened.  I did have a chance to watch the movie I have at number five below, so at least I got to round the list off with ten.  Because, honestly, I didn’t see anything else that really came close to warranting a spot here.  As it is, this is sort of a weak list.  MacGruber made my top ten, for Christ’s sake.  Anyway, let’s start things off by watching this montage of scenes from the many, many movies I did not see this year.

Now let’s move on to the very few movies that I actually did see.  As always, this is not a list of the best movies of the year, since I really don’t see that many movies and don’t feel qualified to write that.  This is just a list of my favorites.

10) MacGruber


Like Hot Fuzz, this is a satire of action movies that pretends to be an homage to action movies.  I enjoyed Hot Fuzz, but I think this was quite a bit funnier.  It’s basically just a long series of gags, so it sort of is just the extended SNL sketch that its critics accuse it of being, but I thought the gags themselves were really pretty hilarious.

This was my dog’s least favorite movie of the year.  He normally completely ignores the television, but he lost it during the sex scene in this movie and would not stop barking at Will Forte’s over-the-top grunting.

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Video Games, 2010

Video Games 2010 2

What a great year for video games!  The top two here are up there with my favorite games of all-time, and there isn’t really any filler in the rest of the list.  The best part about the games this year has been the diversity.  I’ve complained in the past (notably in my list of my favorite games of the last decade) about video game developers’ seeming inability to expand beyond the typical sci-fi/fantasy/crime/WWII genres, but this list bounces from modern-day Seattle to Hogwarts, from Renaissance Italy to the Old West.

As always, this is not a list of the best video games of the year, it is a list of my favorites.  I don’t play everything that comes out, obviously.  I don’t play a ton of sports games, and I play barely any first-person shooters, which explains the absence of both Call of Duty: Black Ops and Halo: Reach.  I love third-person open-world games, as evidenced by my top five here.   So read this list through that filter.  Let’s get started!

10) Heavy Rain (PS3, February 23)


Sometimes I don’t finish a game because I lose interest.  Sometimes I don’t finish a game because the last boss or battle or mission or whatever is frustratingly hard and I give up.  And then sometimes I don’t finish because I try to download a mandatory PS3 firmware update and Sony bricks my machine and I lose my save data when I send my system in to them for repairs.  That’s what happened with Heavy Rain.  This is a game that takes a lot of time to really get going, and the control system (and the mundane tasks it controls, like brushing your character’s teeth) can be a bit boring.  But I do want to know how it ends, so I’ll likely return to it sometime in the near future.  That’s enough to earn it a spot in my top ten, I suppose.

I originally picked it up because I’d read that women were enjoying it more than the average video game, both because of the more intuitive controls and the more “grown-up” subject matter.  Knowing her love of mystery novels, I thought Johanna might want to give it a try.  I just played the above trailer on my computer and, hearing it, she asked what it was.  When I told her it was Heavy Rain she said, “Here I was thinking it was a movie I might want to see.”  Maybe she should give it a shot.

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Albums, 2010

Albums 2010 2

This was a really fun, interesting year in music, which is good because it was also a year in which I was particularly interested in listening to some new albums.  I reached a breaking point with all of my old playlists and favorite artists and decided to dedicate myself to searching out a lot of new stuff this year, and I wasn’t disappointed.  To be fair, there were a few great new albums from my old favorite artists as well.

As always, this is not a list of the best albums of the year, but a list of my favorites.  Although, to be honest, I’ve listened to most of the stuff that is showing up on other best of 2010 lists, and I feel pretty good about this.

15) Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz (October 12th)


It would be wrong to say that I’m disappointed in this album; I actually like it quite a bit when I sit down and listen to it.  The problem is that I rarely put it on.  It was a pretty crowded year of music for me, and for some reason I’m always in the mood to listen to something else.  For now it just barely makes the list, but I suspect that it when I get some more reps in it might climb.

14) Beach Fossils – Beach Fossils (May 25th)


Man, a lot of bands sounded like this band this year.  Or this band sounded like a lot of bands.  Whichever it is, this is definitely a good sampling of 2010 in sonic form.  Beach Fossils stand out from the pack a bit, though; they’re slightly catchier than similar-sounding groups, and the guitar lines here are great.  The guitar parts  sound a little like Johnny Marr from the Smiths, except slower and hazier.

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Books, 2010

Books 2010 2

There were quite a few books that I liked a lot this year, and I actually still have a stack that I haven’t gotten around to yet, including At Home by Bill Bryson, Salvation City by Sigred Nunez, and Bound by Antonya Nelson, that I suspect would have been nice additions to this list had I read them.

A few notes: This is, as always, not a list of the best books of the year, but of my favorites.  Obviously I haven’t read enough of the books published this year for this list to be anything approaching authoritative.  Also, the list only includes new books, although I believe two of them were published originally in 2009.  But whatever, I didn’t stumble across them until the paperbacks came out this year, and it’s my list.  Here we go:

8 ) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


I swear, when I first heard about the Hunger Games trilogy, all I knew about it was that it was a series of young adult novels aimed primarily at girls, and I thought it had something to do with eating disorders.  I’m not even kidding.  It turns out I was wrong.

My wife read these all at once when the third volume was released in August and enjoyed them enough to encourage me to give them a chance when I felt  like reading something a bit escapist, assuming novels set in a future dystopia can be used as an escape.  I really enjoyed the first novel, The Hunger Games, but hesitated about continuing the series; it seemed like the aspects of the first book that made it thrilling and hard to put down would be difficult to replicate.  Those of you who have read it will likely know what I mean.  The story did lose a bit of momentum in the second book, Catching Fire, but things pick up again nicely in Mockingjay.

The books are of course being adapted into movies, supposedly with a PG-13 rating.  If the movies hew closely to the books, that will be a pretty hard PG-13.  This story is almost surprisingly violent at times and relatively dark throughout.

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Tweet of the Year, 2010

Tweet of the Year 2010

So, I’m finishing up some year-end lists that I’ll be posting over the next few days of my favorite albums, books, movies, etc., but I thought it would be fun to kick things off with what I’ve decided is the Tweet of the year for 2010.  This is mostly tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I still think it is pretty evocative of my 2010, particularly the summer.

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This showed up in my feed having been retweeted by someone else, I don’t remember whom, and I don’t even know whom edsbs is.  But this little time capsule manages to combine Twitter, the World Cup, and Inception.  Well done, sir or madam.  Let’s have a strong finish to 2010 and a fun start to 2011, everybody

Christmas Movies

Christmas Movies

I was going to start this entry by saying, “I’m a big fan of Christmas,” but that’s ridiculous.  Everyone is a big fan of Christmas!  If you don’t have a religious or cultural reason to not like Christmas and you still don’t like it, get over yourself.  Actually, even if you have a religious or cultural reason, you should probably get over yourself, at least a little bit.

I didn’t include any made-for-TV movies here, so there’s no Grinch or Charlie Brown.  I wanted to include a Harry Potter movie, because a lot of those have really nice Christmas moments, but those aren’t really Christmas movies, obviously.  I also wanted to include Jingle All The Way, not because it’s a good movie, but because Johanna and I watched it one time and at one point Sinbad runs into a person dressed as a Christmas present in a parade and yells “Get outta my way, box!” and we literally still say that to each other, like, on the reg.

As always, the standard disclaimer: these are my favorites, not necessarily the best.

5) The Family Stone (2005)

I’m pretty sure this movie featured the most purposefully misleading advertising campaign for a movie ever.  Look at this poster:

Picture 7

Now watch this trailer:

Lighthearted, slapstick family comedy, right?  This was the perfect movie to go see on Christmas Day with my mother, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the time.  I mean, if a major part of the movie was that the matriarch of the family has breast cancer that has metastasized and she’s probably going to die, that would have been alluded to in at least one of the trailers, surely.

Nope.  By the end of the film I was barely keeping it together and my mom was a mess.  Despite this, or maybe because of it, we both loved it.  I have not watched it since, because every time I mention it Johanna gets really worried that I’m going to get bummed out.  Lighten up, Johanna!

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Health and Wealth

Take a minute or five to watch this guy use augmented reality animation and tons of statistical data to chart different countries’ progress over the past two hundred years.

So, I have two new life goals. The first is to meet this man, who I guess is named Hans Rosling, because he is quite clearly the greatest. The second is to win the lottery and then use all of that money to just fund him and his team so they can continue to make videos like this. Gold stars to both the internet and this guy!

[Thanks to my friend Alex F. for posting this on Facebook.  Good looking out!]

We forgot to make comedies this year!

Guys, the Golden Globe nominations are out, and I’ve got bad news.  We forgot to make comedies this year!  Can you believe it?  Is Judd Apatow in rehab or something?

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Cher in 2006.

Image via Wikipedia

My first reaction to this was WTF Hollywood Foreign Press?  My second reaction was also WTF Hollywood Foreign Press, because, seriously, Burlesque?  I mean, I realize it’s a musical, but that movie was made exclusively to serve as a punchline for bad jokes, right?

My third reaction was to realize that I guess I can’t totally blame them; there weren’t really any good comedies this year.  I didn’t see Dinner for Schmucks or The Other Guys, but I doubt they were award-worthy.  My favorite comedy was probably Get Him to the Greek, and that was a seriously flawed movie.  Why did no one make anything funny?

At least the Hollywood Foreign Press is finally recognizing the hilarious work of world-famous funnyman Johnny Depp.

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American actor Johnny Depp.

Image via Wikipedia

Two nominations!  I think Johnny Depp’s funniest trait is how he doesn’t take himself way, way too seriously.  Also, did he get nominated for The Tourist because his beard and hair are really funny in that movie?  That would make sense, I guess.

I’m glad that the foreign press liked The Tourist, though, because it is very much a movie that was  made for Europeans.  No one I know has any interest in that hot ball of garbage.  The Venetian tourists with whom I’m familiar are less Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and more loud, annoying people that are carrying strollers up and down the steps of all the bridges because obviously bringing a baby to Venice is a really great idea.  When I was there I literally saw people with babies and diaper bags and broken legs and crutches and everything.  CANCEL THE TRIP.

Also, I just want to say, I’m pretty sure that the movies that Paul Giamatti and Kevin Spacey were nominated for don’t actually exist.  Barney’s Version and Casino Jack?  Nope.