The end of another year approaches many people will pause to reflect.
Reflections are found in mirrors and we’re far more likely to pass over the year-end lists with a nod and smile, “THAT was this year? No kidding?! Feels like so much longer than that!” We’re pretty incapable of zooming out these days.
Lists like these amount to a tired pile of platitudes and obvious observations. Rather than spend time trashing the bad things that are probably obvious, let’s focus on the positive. Triskaidekaphobics (literally people who fear the number 13 (yes there’s a word for everything)) likely spent the year under a blanket in their apartment with all the lights turned off. They might argue that nothing good happened. They can shut up. Plenty of good stuff happened in 2013, and people who were scared of the number 13 are biased anyway.
Here’s the best stuff from last year:
TV: Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Arrested Development Season Four (SHUT UP, I DON’T CARE), Veep—it was a GREAT year for TV. Breaking Bad! The greatest TV show in history (other than the Wire) wrapped up without making everyone mad. The show has left a giant chasm that networks are going to be desperate to fill. We will all tell our children that we were alive when Breaking Bad was on TV, and they’ll likely wave us off and tell us we’re boring because kids are stupid and they have awful taste in TV shows.
Sports: This of course depends on what city you live in. I live in Detroit, so the best thing was Prince Fielder’s trade to Texas. It was cool to see UofM in the championship game, nice to see the Lions at 6-3, but both of those collapsed into a pile of garbage before the end. The Tigers lived on an awful edge of “will they or won’t they” tension for all 162 games (they didn’t), before folding in the ALCS under the weight of two grand slams. The Red Wings made us all believe before letting us down against the Blackhawks—then the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, so hockey is DEAD TO ME from 2013. Sending the son of Cecil to the Rangers was the best thing, and most unexpected thing, that happened this year. Runner-up: Max Scherzer wins the Cy Young. Does anyone even remember that anymore? Put your hand down, Max.
Music: David Bowie released an amazing new album this year. We all pretended that we know / like Daft Punk because we wanted to be cool. Sample conversation:
“Hey! The new Daft Punk album is streaming on iTunes!”
“Wow. That’s pretty cool.”
“Do you like Daft Punk?”
“Oh yeah, I like them a lot.” The conversation ends because neither person knows anything about Daft Punk at all and they’re hoping no questions come up.
I also loved Bastille, Queens of the Stone Age (A GUITAR! IS THAT EVEN STILL ALLOWED?!), had a strange attraction to Lorde and I have no idea why, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire and someone said that the Beyonce album was good but I’m not a fan of that kind of music.
Movies: Not a great year in film. The Coen Brothers released one at the end of the year and I haven’t seen it yet. All the movies I saw this year are garbage, tho I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, Gravity or American Hustle. (I spent my money on turkey movies this year) I raced out to see the Counselor because I’m a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy and that turned out to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Battlefield Earth AND Leonard Part Six.
News: I hate Obamacare. I hate it with every single cell in my body. I don’t hate the Affordable Care Act. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Affordable Care Act anymore. Arguing about Obamacare is like arguing with Kiss fans: at some point the discussion stopped being about a band and how much or little they stink. Whenever Obamacare is brought up, a wave of vowel and consonant sounds slaps me in the face, not a single syllable of it a coherent thought. I just delete the emails from my crazy right-wing brother. If I ever hear that word again (Obamacare) it will be too soon. They government shut down over it; created a non-functioning web site about it; created deadlines and rescinded them for it, all amid the tug and pull of constant political rancor. I never, ever, want to hear the word Obamacare again. That’s not to say I’m in favor of repealing it, because that means it has to be brought up again. I hate anyone, anywhere, that ever brings up Obamacare. In fact, I hate news. I used to take pride in staying informed. I kept current on all American government and politics. I used to pay attention to proposed bills, congressional districts, senatorial fights and balance my head on my hands in rapt attention while watching all the partisan rancor. I used to watch those shows. I can’t anymore. It’s the same show, over and over, yawning on tediously for hours and hours and hours and hours. When I watch the news, I’m not getting informed anymore. No one is giving me any new information. I’m simply walked from one outrage to the next. “GUNS!” “DISEASE!” “TERRORISM!” “THEFT!” “SEXUAL MISCONDUCT BY SOMEONE FAMOUS!” “RANDOM VIOLENCE PURPORTEDLY CAUSED BY GAMES PLAYED BY INNER-CITY YOUTH ON RANDOM INNOCENT PEOPLE WHOM ARE SIMPLY WALKING DOWN THE STREET JUST LIKE YOU DO EVERY DAY!” “SEX BY SOMEONE NOT REALLY THAT FAMOUS BUT THE STORY IS INTERESTING BECAUSE IT FITS THE MOLD IN SOME WAY OF ANOTHER STORY THAT GOT A LOT OF HITS—LIKE A HOT TEACHER OR SOMETHING!” I can’t take it anymore. In the closing months of 2014, I read books and watched games. I think my blood pressure is down. I’d have it checked but I’m still scared to leave the house after watching the news for most of 2013. It’s an election year next year, and I’m perilously close to unplugging forever. I’ve had it with the back and forth. If I want to watch games, there’s every sports channel, now on 24 hours a day. I’ll go with that.
Books: Stephen King released TWO books this year (I haven’t read either) and his son released one (I read that one). I know some literary snobs look down their nose at Stephen King, but I still love him. If you let me geek out for a moment, Thomas Pynchon released a book this year (The Bleeding Edge, I haven’t gotten to it yet) and we should all fall to the ground and thank our lucky stars that we still have a master like that still living among us. JK Rowling released a book under a pseudonym which is super cool. Dave Eggers released one this year, The Circle, and that would be good enough for most years. Fingers crossed for word of a forthcoming (dare I say) Don DeLillo in 2014.