Saturday, December 31, 2011

Self Indulgent Year End Fun

Year end best of lists are cliché and mandatory.  These are mine.  What can I say? I’m wildly original.

5 Albums I’ve had on Repeat

There was a lot to like in music this year.  I limited it by album because while any band can put out a great single, a full album of awesome has become pretty rare.

1.     The Joy Formidable, The Big Roar

I was late to this game, brought in by a remix of “Cradle” that I couldn’t get out of my head.  But as soon as I found my way in, I got so utterly lost that I put it on all of my mix tapes, sought out tour dates, and pretty much listened to it until my roommate yelled at me.

2.     Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Um, so I guess some people hate this? Whatever, their issue, not mine.  I love it, especially “Perth” but also all the rest.  I even love that one night, just before drifting off, I realized that some songs sound an awful lot like the soundtrack to Labyrinth.  Hey, there are worse things out there than David Bowie comparisons. 

3.     The Kills, Blood Pressures

I <3 The Kills.  This might not be the best album ever, but by golly is it enjoyable.  It’s raucous, and also sad, and while it is immediately recognizable as theirs, it still steps them forward.  I likes it.

4.     Tune-yards , WhoKill

The first song I heard was “Bizness” and I was equal parts weirded out and impressed.  Then I heard “Gangsta” and it was a game changer.  I told everyone I knew.  I became that irritating friend on Facebook.  Sorry friends (or un-friends as the case mightn’t be.)  This is unlike anything and utterly wonderful.  So long as you like your* wonderful a little on the wild side.

5.     James Vincent McMorrow, Early in the Morning

I really had this dude pegged as a one song wonder with “We Don’t Eat,” but the album as a whole snuck up on me and became me go-to What do I Want to Play Today choice.  Yes, it’s Indie/Pop/Folk and yes, there’s a debt to Bon Iver in there, but damned if it isn’t worth it.  Perfect lazy afternoon soundtrack.

*This is why spellcheck is evil.  It wants me to spell a possessive as  YOU’RE.  Idiots. 

5 Books that Blew Me Away

This was a good year for my reading habits (i.e., I got a lot in) and many of the best weren’t even published this year and are thereby disqualified (Drood (A+) Palimpsest (A+) Lord of Light (is there a A++?))  Genre books saw a resurgence of authors willing to tamper with boundaries and come up with truly new and occasionally profound ideas, and the mainstream market kept stealing from fantasy and then shamefacedly denying that it had done any such thing.   These are my personal favourites:

1.      Swamplandia! by Karen Russel

Yes, I know it’s everyone’s number one.  There’s a reason for that and I tell you now, you will know that reason within the first few pages.  This book is all kinds of magic and worth every penny.

2.     One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

McGuire’s always been a step ahead of the game, but with this book she took leaps.  Lyrical, hard hitting and deeply affecting, she blends myths, noir, humour, and the personal attachment readers get to long running characters, to build something that is much more than the sum of its parts, or even the sum of its plot.  Well done indeed.

3.     Spectrum 18

I love art because I am totally inept at it.  It’s also why I like dancing.  I started picking these up to remind myself about all the pretty book covers I’d read between, and kept at it because they are filled with amazing illustrations and crazy cool art.  Browse through one first-they’re an investment piece, and if it’s your cuppa, pay the real cover price.  These people work hard, and aren’t making much back out.  I’d like to see them continue. 

4.     Grey by Jon Armstrong

This book is just great.  Punkish, frank, frightening, and absolutely fresh, it looks at the dystopian future in a new light—fashion.  And wow does it work.  This is a challenging piece, and won’t be for everyone, but if you like a little grit and a lot of high concept mixed with a liberal dose crazy, you’re in for a treat.

5.     The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin

Speaking of both new and series, this is another instance where a standing series leaps forward.  I have no shame in my love of Matthew Swift, his neon angels, his gritty London, and his deserves-accolades author.  But in the second book in the series, everything is flashier, faster and just more.  It’s a wonderful series and such a welcome addition to the Urban Fantasy scene.  Also, I cannot express how happy I am that next year will bring me MOAR.

5 Amazing Time Sucks

1.     Funny or Die

Some of them are dumb.  And I tell myself, stop this madness, and then I stumble on Drunk History “The Night Before Christmas” and hours later I emerge, blinking in the natural light.  Click at your own risk.

2.     The Oatmeal

Always good for a giggle.  And also a fellow runner (though this freak does ultras, so extra crazy points.)

3.     The Bloggess

The internet phenomenon.  The one, the only, the actually funny.  Soon you too will follow her on twitter and Friend Beyonce.  The chicken. 

4.     People of Walmart

This is my Sunday morning lay in favourite.  I stay in bed and laugh at my fellow idiots. 

The best thing Steve Jobs never did, but still secretly had a hand in.  Not updated all that often, but worth it when it is.  I don’t even care if some are faked.  They are wondrous.

5 TV Shows I Get Home on Time For

TV is for lazy people.  It is also for tired people, sick people and people who just need to hit pause for a minute.  I like it.  These are shows like make me feel better, even when they make me feel worse.

1.     Justified

Um, this is the best thing on TV.  That is all.     

2.     Archer
Why are all the good things now on FX?  That is so weird.  This is a love it or hate it thing.  I lean to love.  And tea spitting giggles. 

3.     The Mentalist

WHY are none of your episodes available online EVER?  I hate that, because if I miss even one, I’m pretty much F*ed.  To recap why it’s great? The episode where they let the viewer self congratulate on figuring out the villain, get angry when they figured out the villain so fast, and then turned us on our heads by how they “caught” the villain.  Go team Jane. 

4.     Grimm

All I can say is that in one episode, dude basically gets murdered by a shake weight.  It is all kinds of awesome.  And I may have a crush on Monroe.  Just a little.

Um, so I really tried not to put this on my list, but not to would be LYING.  I just started watching this season and somehow ended up buying the first 2 sight unseen on Black Friday.  They may or may not* be why I was out at all.  Sure, they’re a guilty pleasure, but they may also be addictive like crack.  Tasty, tasty crack. 


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