Dec 19, 2012
Top 10 Favorite Things of 2012
It’s that time of year again! When I count down the top 10 favorite things I encountered this year in books, TV, media, music, etc. By “favorite” I mean something that has clearly and solidly pushed my fan button. I love these things! Nobody can convince me that they are anything less than awesome!
Shall we begin?
Sly, smart lyrics that wink knowingly at pop princess archetypes, all while being served up via totally addictive pop melodies. My favorite song on the album is “Teen Idle.” Here’s the first verse:
I want to be a bottle blonde
I don’t know why but I feel conned
I want to be an idle teen
I wish I hadn’t been so clean
I want to stay inside all day
I want the world to go away
I want blood guts and chocolate cake
I want to be a real fake
Here’s the song itself:
I know, Lifehacker has been around forever, and I’ve even read it before, but after I accidentally deleted most of my In Box on Apple Mail, I discovered that Lifehacker is The Promised Land of Productivity and Organization! Within a single day, after referencing their countless detail-filled posts about Gmail, I had
fixed improved everything!
If you have the slightest inclination toward obsessive organization (like I do), this site is like crack. Reading it puts me in this dreamy, foglike fantasy world where everything I do is perfectly planned, organized, and duly executed, all using fantastic apps or cloud thingumabobs, and my To Do list is the sexiest thing on the planet. Yeah. Lifehacker = Fantasyland.
Did you read their recent post “Hack Your Life in One Day: A Beginner’s Guide to Enhanced Productivity“? Go. It’s dreamy.
(This doesn’t say anything about how busy I was in 2012, does it? Nah.)
I’m not a country music fan (or at least, not anymore — I was when I was in elementary school and loved The Barbara Mandrell Show), so I was sorta slow to try out Nashville. But when I did, I was totally sucked in! First, the music is actually pretty great. More importantly, it’s a soapy drama about a middle-aged woman (played by the inimitable Connie Britton) trying to keep her superstar career flying high while facing down a young interloper (played with glee by Hayden Panettiere) who seems to have topped the charts because of her manipulative hotness, not her talent.
Sure, it’s an old story, but what I love about this show is that it’s about career women struggling with the expectations that come with success. I haven’t seen too many of those shows on TV lately, and it feels super refreshing. Also, even though I’m clearly not a singer or any level of superstar, I definitely relate to some of the struggles the characters are going through: trying to stay true to your own artistic goals while also trying to make money. And last but not least: CONNIE BRITTON. Love her!
This year I discovered audiobooks, and shortly after that, I discovered Ellen Kushner reading them. Specifically, two of her novels, Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword. Ellen is an amazing narrator. She is so good at characters, giving them distinct voices without sounding over-the-top. These audiobooks are extra interesting because they have background sounds—music at times, and the sounds of crowds, plus the sounds of sword fighting—to create a rich audio world. They also feature actors speaking the lines of some of the characters in certain scenes, which is a lot of fun. But the foundation of it all is Ellen’s narration, which is particularly wonderful to hear because she is also the author of these novels, and therefore she knows exactly how she wants the story to be told.
Lana Del Rey is basically a slower-tempo, American version of Marina and the Diamonds. I know that for some reason some people have decided to hate on her, but I don’t care — I still really enjoyed her music this year. She put out two albums, Born to Die and Paradise, and both contain cinematic torch songs about girls coming into and using their sexuality, for better or worse. Maybe it’s been done before, but that’s because there’s a lot to mine in this arena. I know that I was basically mesmerized by Born to Die when I first heard it. It can be hard to listen to the albums all the way through because, frankly, they get a little weepy and depressing, but one at a time, these songs pack a punch. I can hear entire novels coming out of some of them. Here’s one of my favorites, “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” from Born to Die:
Although Tana French’s first novel, In the Woods, was published in 2007, I didn’t find it until January of this year. It’s a crime novel set near Dublin, Ireland, and it pulled me in from the very first sentence. I went on to read all four of French’s novels this year. They’re all set in or near Dublin and feature detectives who work for the Dublin Murder Squad. I think my favorite is her third novel, Faithful Place, though I also really enjoyed The Likeness. What I like most about French’s novels is the incredible detail in them. She dots every I and crosses every T. The details not only serve to make the crimes being investigated seem extremely real, they make the characters jump off the page. Such good reads!
4. Lost Girl
I’ve been hearing about Lost Girl for some time because it’s a TV show about a bisexual succubus private investigator (!!), but I never tried it out until it began airing on SyFy in the US this year. (It’s a Canadian show.) I caught a couple of random episodes and was hooked, which meant I had to go and buy all the original, uncut Canadian episodes on iTunes and DVD. I am so glad I did! (I’m currently midway through Season 2.)
I can’t tell you how amazed I was to see a show in which a lead female character is openly bisexual, has no problems with it EVER in any episode, is totally sex-positive, and is allowed to have both male and female lovers on-screen. Plus: it’s an urban fantasy about fairies! I thought it was basically unbelievable that this show was made, until I realized it was made in CANADA. I can’t wait till Season 3 begins in 2013! Except I might have to wait until the uncut episodes are released on DVD because I don’t trust SyFy to leave in the good parts…
This was on my list in 2011 and even moved up three notches this year. It’s the one show that I’ve been watching the same day it airs rather than letting it wait on my DVR to watch at my convenience. There’s just something incredibly compelling about it for me. At first it was the post-apocalyptic, survival after a disaster thing (I love that kind of story), but now I watch it because I’m fully invested in the characters. I love some of them (Glenn!) and I hate some of them (Merle!), and some of them totally annoy me (Andrea!), but they are almost all fully realized, three-dimensional people now.
I think this season’s amping up of the gore has been a little over the top, though. I admit that I don’t watch some of the scenes now. I don’t need to see any more brain-splattering or limb-severing. I really don’t. But when the show does violence well—as in the awful, gut-wrenching scene with an imprisoned Glenn—it uses it as a means to explore character. And Glenn! I am TOTALLY on Team Glenn and Maggie! They’d better survive the rest of this season intact and un-zombie-fied!
Red Glove by Holly Black was on my top 10 list from 2011, this is somewhat different: I’m talking about the audiobooks for all three Curse Workers books, as read by actor Jesse Eisenberg. He does a fantastic job of inhabiting the character of first-person narrator Cassel Sharpe, but he also brings a new dimension to the books that I didn’t expect. The interesting thing about audiobooks is that they force you to slow down and experience the story at a spoken-word pace. When I read, I sometimes skim, especially when the story is a page-turner. But with the audiobooks, I had to slow down, and that revealed so many elements of this trilogy that I hadn’t fully grasped when I raced through them in hardcover. I am totally going to listen to these again, I know it.
I read this book in January, and nearly twelve months later, it’s still my favorite novel of 2012. This is a novel about a girl coming of age and coming out in the early 1990s in Montana. It’s long and complicated and detailed, and that’s why I love it. I’ve read so many coming-out stories that feel trite in comparison. This story doesn’t pull any punches, and it doesn’t take any shortcuts. Miseducation felt true, and it spoke to me.
I’m not saying that it reflected my own coming-out experience; it didn’t. My coming-out was nothing like Cameron Post’s. But I grew up in Colorado, and reading about Montana was … amazing. I didn’t realize, until I read this book, how few books I’ve read that are set in the West that I know. That’s one of my favorite elements of this book: the way that place was so fully realized. I think it’s that sense of place that made this book hit home for me.
And even though I was not Cameron Post by a long shot, somehow it felt like I could have been her. That’s the kind of connection that a good book gives. Much love to this novel.
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So that’s what I loved in 2012. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings! Until then I’m taking some time off from my website, so barring unforeseen circumstances, this is my last post of 2012. Happy holidays and happy new year to you all!
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