Happy New Year’s Eve!
If you’re like me, you look forward to this day with great anticipation, because it means celebrating with friends, drinking champagne, and sleeping in the next day.
I thought about doing a “best of 2014” list, but honestly, I haven’t engaged in all elements of pop culture enough this year to really discern what’s “best” (and who knows, anyway? “best” is usually a matter of personal taste) so instead, I’ll present my favorite things of 2014.
In no particular fashion:
– MOVIE: Umm… well I looked through IMDB’s 100 most popular movies of 2014, and I saw exactly… two of them. So I’m really in no position to judge. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, and I sort of enjoyed 22 Jump Street. If I had actually gone to the movies more this year, I’d like to assume my favorites would’ve been Boyhood and Gone Girl.
– BOOK: Unfortunately, I read very few books this year. However, I spent approximately 1,000 hours (on the low end) reading things on my phone, which must count for something, right? If I had to choose a real book, I would pick Small Victories by Anne Lamott. My mom introduced me to her this year, and I’m so thankful. She writes in a way that makes you want to be as wise and faithful and gracious as she is – yet she doesn’t mind showing off how imperfect and ugly she can be, too. In conclusion: READ EVERYTHING BY ANNE! She will change your life. Runner up is Yes Please by Amy Poehler, who I’d like to be my life coach. If she had to choose a mentee between me and the million other 20-something women who want to be mentored by her, I’m sure she’d pick me.
– TV SHOW: Now here’s a category where I can really shine! I watch a lot of TV, and while I’m not proud of it, I’m not ashamed of it. We live in the second golden age of TV (credit for that phrase: Laura Leonard), and we should embrace it. My favorite show of the year is The Comeback, which just concluded on Sunday night. Lisa Kudrow took what could’ve been a totally annoying or too-sentimental character and turned her into a nuanced character, who was painful to watch, but easy to root for. If you’re sick of all the terrible writing on network TV, watch this show – it’s the best written show I’ve seen in a long time: funny, poignant, honest, gut-wrenching. Runners up are: Fargo (who doesn’t love Colin Hanks?), New Girl (I don’t know if it was the re-inclusion of Damon Wayans, Jr. into the cast, but this show got a lot funnier this year), The Missing (I’m a sucker for shows about abducted kids, I guess), and Veep (give Julia Louis Dreyfus all the awards!).
– ALBUM: I’ll let Laura school you in this category later (her taste in music is impeccable save for a few bad choices over the years like the Japandroids aka what’s currently playing in a torture cell somewhere) but my personal favorite was Beck’s Morning Phase. I saw him play his hits at Pitchfork this summer, and he was a fantastic performer, which is probably making his album seem better than it really is? But really, I love Morning Phase. This year, whenever I’ve been at a loss for what to listen to, this has been my go-to album (or whatever we’re now calling full-length things that you listen to on Spotify). Runners up: Lazaretto by Jack White, Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow.
– SONG: I’d like to pick something indie and impress you with my amazing ability to find incredible, unknown artists. But let’s be real. It’s Blank Space by Taylor Swift. The greatest pop song since Britney Spears’ Toxic and you can’t even argue with that. I have been converted to a Swiftie and I ain’t goin’ back. Runners up include: Talladega by Eric Church, Lampshades on Fire by Modest Mouse (who else is excited for their return!?) and Digital Witness by St. Vincent.
– CONCERT: Here is where I brag about all the great shows I saw this year. Seriously, sometimes I hate living in such a crowded suburban area, but the access to great shows cannot be beat. My favorite was SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY at the United Center. I mean, he’s a legend. And I got to hear “Maybe I’m Amazed” live, so I don’t have much more to live for, at this point. Runners up: Seryn at Mayne Stage and Kendrick Lamar at Pitchfork.
– OLD THING I JUST DISCOVERED: I watched/read/listened to a lot of great things this year, that didn’t originate in 2014. The very best one, though (in a shocking, controversial declaration) was… The Godfather! I had never seen this movie, but you guys: it’s good! I didn’t think I’d love it, but I totally did! I had also somehow managed to avoid any sort of real spoilers. This is – almost verbatim – a conversation Dave and I had, after Michael goes to that diner and shoots those guys (I’m already fuzzy on the details – remembering plot details isn’t a strong point for me):
Me: “Ah! I thought he wasn’t going to shoot them!”
Dave: “Uhh… yeah… did you really think he wasn’t going to shoot them?”
Me: “Yeah! I thought he was going to be a good guy, and go against his family. Redeem the legacy.”
Dave: “You understand that he’s the Godfather, right?”
Me: “Ohhhhh. OK that makes sense now.”
Pop culture – what a funny thing! You can know the name of every celebrity baby who’s anyone, but not know the basic plot of the most famous movie of all time.
– And finally, NEW STORE: The Beer Cellar! Yes, my favorite new store of 2014 is The Beer Cellar. Why? Because it’s the best store with the cutest owner of all of the stores.
So those are my favorites of 2014. In retrospect, I probably need to go to more movies, read more books, and watch fewer Seinfeld reruns. But it was a great year for entertainment, and I look forward to the wonderful things we’ll experience as a society in 2015 (Selma! The return of Mad Men! That new Jennifer Lawrence movie where she again plays a woman 10 years older than she is in real life!).
Signing off for 2014,
Your kind-of culture vulture, Lauren