Thursday, December 15, 2011

Best and Worst Things of 2k11

Today I'm starting my review of the year 2011 with a series of lists, which will include my favorite songs and albums of the year, as well as several other lists in many different categories!  Fun!  I'm starting with my Best and Worst Things of 2011.  I'm not sure what's better, starting or ending on an angry note, so I'll just go with the former.

The 5 Worst Things of 2011

5.  Indiana weather / global warming

This wasn't in Indiana

This summer, I’m pretty sure there were like six days in a row where it was 97 degrees or something.  Now, it’s December 15, and it’s like 50 degrees.  I don’t even have to put on a sweatshirt to go outside.  I’m pretty sure this mostly has to do with global warming and changing climate patterns more than it does Indiana, but I’m going to go ahead and blame it on this state anyway.  This sucks.

4.  Pitchfork Media
Question:  why is a website that identifies itself as an independent music review site publishing a review for Mac Miller?  They gave it 1.0.  Is that even necessary?  Do we need to know that a 19 year old white rapper isn’t making very good music?  I think Childish Gambino’s album CAMP is great, and I don’t really care that Pitchfork wrote one of the harshest reviews that I’ve ever read for that album, but my issue with it is that they assigned the number 1.6 to it.  What makes it one-tenth better than 1.5?  If you hate something that much, why does the number need to be that precise?  That is ridiculous.  In other news, their best of 2k11 lists are awful so far, and I firmly believe that my lists are much better.

3.  TV sitcoms that still have a laugh track

I singlehandedly blame shows like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Whitney, among others, for the lack of success of shows like Community, Parks and Recreation, and others.  The laugh track is outdated.  That’s a fact.  If the producers still need to put in figurative cue cards for their viewers to tell them where to laugh, doesn’t that reveal that the jokes aren’t really funny?  It really comes down to the writing quality of these shows.  Whereas 2.5 Men and Big Bang have one character and one joke that the entire show is based on, Community and Parks have an entire cast of great characters, a huge variety of story lines, and consistently hilarious jokes.  I’ll never understand it.  America has poor taste.

2.  My cell phone

Ugh.  I don’t even.  I hate it.  Everything about it sucks.  What’s worse is that nothing with it is actually broken, it’s just bad.  It was made poorly.  I suppose they do that on purpose so you’re stuck with your stupid crappy phone for two years.  Everything is slow and doesn’t really work right.  If I’m typing out a message, and I start to receive one, my phone will just freeze for like ten seconds.  I can’t do anything.  It’s little things like that that make my phone the worst piece of machinery ever made on this earth.  Shame on you, Samsung.  Shame on you, Verizon Wireless.  Shame on you, cell phone industry in general.

1.  Bloomington Transit
Bloomington Transit would not exhibit this type of dedication

Living as far as I do from campus, I’ve had to rely on a bus to get me there most of the time, and now that it’s too cold to ride my bike, I ride a bus every day.  It takes me about seven minutes to walk to the bus stop that’s nearest my house.  Then, it’s a gamble as to whether or not the bus will actually be on time.  Then, once I’m finally on the loud, jolting, crowded thing, it takes 15-20 minutes to actually get to campus.  Having to rely on the Bloomington Transit system costs me around an hour and a half total every day.  Those are minutes that I could spend studying, reading, eating, watching Netflix, doing crunches, or basically anything, which would be better than riding a stupid bus.  They can flaunt their stupid “Best Public Transit System In North America” award all they want, but it doesn’t hide the fact that it still sucks to ride a bus.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the bus routes go basically everywhere around the city, and it’s free for me, so I’m grateful for it.  But really, if you got the stupid award, why don’t you actually live up to it?  Why don’t the buses actually run on time?  If a bus went down every street in Bloomington, but were rarely on time, it would be completely useless.  Okay, rant over.  Let's switch gears now and be happy.

The 5 Best Things of 2011

5.  Grilled cheese sandwiches
I’m not really much of a cook, and even if I was, I wouldn’t want to get home from a long day of classes/work/studying and make Beef Wellington.  Probably my ‘most eaten item’ of 2k11 is the simple grilled cheese sandwich.  I can pretend like I’m actually cooking (since I turned the stove on), but I don’t really have to do very much work at all.  I mean, it’s basically melting cheese.

4.  Dats

If there’s one thing about Bloomington I like more than anything, it’s the wonderful collection of excellent eateries the city has.  And if there’s one of those great places I like more than any of the others, it’s most definitely the Cajun/Creole restaurant Dats.  I’ve never had a meal there I didn’t like, and it’s also the best value in Bloomington.  If you’re in Bloomington (or anywhere) and haven’t tried Dats, you need to do so.  Right now.  Like, hop in your car.  There’s no time to lose!

3.  Community
This show will totally Chang your perspective on life

I will never forgive NBC for cancelling this great show.  I started watching it back during the spring semester last year, and within about a month, I had finished the first season and had caught up to where it was in the second season.  Only a few months later, it’s done, probably forever.  It’s got the best collection of oddball characters of any T.V. comedy since Arrested Development, the best comedic writing since Arrested Development, and the most creative and unique way of storytelling since Arrested Development.  I’m currently wondering if this will gain the same cult following in the future as Arrested Development.  Hopefully it will, and we’ll eventually get six seasons and a movie out of one of televisions greatest comedies of all time.

2.  #IUBB
That is all.

1.  Podcasts

My commute to and from campus is a long one (see the second part of this post).  Therefore, I need something to occupy that time in my day.  Luckily, at the advice of my friend Ellis, I got really into NPR podcasts this semester, especially the weeklies Filmspotting and This American Life.  If you’re any sort of movie fan at all, Filmspotting will be of interest to you.  Hosted by Chicago cinephile/college professor Adam Kempenaar, the show features reviews of opening movies, interviews, and a weekly top five list of movies.  I love it when people make lists, so that is really interesting for me.  Even though the movies that are usually discussed are limited releases, and won’t be released anywhere near me for a long time, it’s still a really good, interesting hour of my week.

But This American Life is really something special.  I really wish I would have gotten into it more before this year, because it’s really fantastic.  The show takes a certain topic and then presents stories about people that relate to that.  I realize that doesn’t exactly make the show sound great, but it’s really something you have to dive into to understand.  The stories are always unusual or bizarre, but they’re always relatable to me, and that’s the point of it:  every American can identify with the show.  The production is stellar.  Every story is meticulously constructed so that everything flows perfectly.  This American Life is one of the best things American popular culture has to offer to us today.  It makes me laugh, it makes me want to cry, it makes me so angry I want to punch the next person I see, but most of all, it makes me feel loved, accepted, and happy to be in this country.  I’m not a particularly patriotic person, but This American Life certainly makes me proud to be an American.

As always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Best of 2011 lists!

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