Arts and Culture

My Broke-Ass Best-of-the-Year List

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I am sure you will be saturated with best of the year list with every other critic and blogger, but I wanted to share my discoveries of the year. This is a hodgepodge list of media that I did/saw/consumed/heard this year. If you are not already up on this, I encourage you to check it out. [To get technical, some of this maybe was released earlier this year, but this is the year I actually experienced it.]

You don’t need any amount of money to appreciate artistic endeavors, and there are tons of ways to experience and form of media.

TELEVISION:

This year proved that the Brits understand compelling television. That, or the US produces too much. Can you even name all the shows that debuted this year? The great thing about British tv is that they create “series” instead of seasons, and each series is only six to eight episodes long. Sure, you are getting less, but the six episodes will be of great quality and will move a story along quickly.

Misfits is everything that Heroes tried to be, plus some great humor. Six “misfits” of society are brought together by court-ordered community service (the orange jumpsuit becomes iconic as you begin to love the series). They are crass, obnoxious, and hot-headed. A freak lightning storm gives them unique powers, and they start working together to manage the trouble they get into. You could categorize it as sci-fi, but the characters are really what make the show great. (Hear that, X-Men?)

Meanwhile, Downton Abbey, a historical costume drama with over eighteen different characters, has appeal to everyone, even those that would run screaming from the “costume drama” description. The show centers around the wealthy Crawley family and their manor, and the many servants, cooks, and butlers who serve them, dealing with the impacts of World War I.. And oh boy, everyone has drama. Who will get the family’s inheritance? Will the Crawley daughters find suitable husbands? [Season One is currently on Netflix Instant.]

This year we finally saw the conclusion of Lost. After a brilliant three seasons, the show went off the rails around season four and season six was downright laughable. Which made the finale all the more welcome. Closure, for this show, is what was desperately needed. Even through some of the silliness, it was a crazy and entertaining ride. Smoke monsters, magic healing water, time travel, and all.

Others worth mentioning: Californication, Children’s Hospital, Portlandia, The Heart, She Holler, and of course, Parks and Recreation, which is always a flawless show.

COMEDIANS

I am a huge comedy nerd, but there were some funny people that stood out for me.

Of course, there’s Louis C.K., with his fantastic reboot of Seinfeld (I’m not knocking the show, but it’s pretty much the same concept as Seinfeld.)

Bret Gelman is sick, twisted and hilarious. First there is his serial novel published in Vice magazine, his delightfully bizarre podcast, and numerous guest appearance appearances.

Julie Klausner is my celebrity BFF soul mate. I have expressed this to her several times with no response. Go fig. Her unabashed love of low-brow pop culture and perceptive observations on society’s culture are always hilarious and truthful. Her book and podcast have supplied me with hours of laughter and entertainment.

Is there anything that Patton Oswalt is not amazing at? His comedy album, his book of essays (including the best essay about Dungeons and Dragons ever written) and his Oscar-worthy performance in Young Adult.

BOOKS

I’ve already mentioned The Passage on this site, but it is worth repeating. 900 pages seemed short when getting absorbed into the post-apocalyptic world taken over by bat-like vampire creatures (I promise you, Twilight it is not).

Chuck Klosterman is my hero. His amazing observations on pop culture have influenced me to become a writer. If you haven’t read any of his previous work, you are doing life wrong. He’s begun to write fiction, and his amazing way of getting to the heart of a character is phenomenal. This year, he wrote The Visible Man, in the format of an insecure psychologist’s notes on a patient.

James Frey is best known for lying about his memoir and Oprah ripping him a new one for it. Many don’t know that he has written two phenomenal novels since then, one of them The Final Testament of the Holy Bible about a child born as a Messiah and informing everyone that atheism is the one true belief. Yea, it’s as controversial as it sounds. But told really well from multiple perspectives.

I have a fascination with kidnapping cases (among other things) so I devoured Jaycee Dugard memoir, and Room by Emma Donague, a novel she wrote based on the Duggard kidnapping. But you may be less morbid than I am.

Other books worth mentioning: The Leftovers , The Hunger Games trilogy and IQ84

Next time: my favorite films, music, and websites of the year.

Photocredits: io9.com, funnyordie.com, amazon.com, e4.com, abcnews.com, people.com

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Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin Hardwick - Cost-Conscious Connoisseur

Robin was raised in the shopping malls of suburban Long Island, New York. As a teenager, her life goals were to become a writer and marry Bret Michaels. After attending college at the University of Delaware (yes, in the state of Delaware) and earning a graduate degree educationl at NYU, she's achieved only one of those goals. Along with writing, Robin enjoys performing improv comedy, internet memes, cross-stitch, and showing off her alarmingly extensive knowledge of obscure pop culture trivia. Currently, Robin resides in Oakland, CA and is writing a book about the 1980s teen book series, Sweet Valley High.