Girl Crush Part II – The Fall and The Killing

Overall, I’m really sick of shows in which the central narrative revolves around killing girls and women, but I can forgive this overdone, misogynistic plotline when it’s tempered with strong female detectives leading the charge to capture the criminal(s). BBC’s The Fall and AMC’s The Killing may not necessarily do anything new with the crime drama in general, but their female stars – Gillian Anderson and Mireille Enos, respectively – carry these shows and transform them into something that feels new and interesting.

What I particularly like about these two women is the intensity they display in their work. Both women are completely committed – almost to a fault – to their jobs. For some, their lack of any real sentimentality or emotion, especially in the face of the horrific crimes they are charged with solving, might make them off-putting at times, but if we expect and embrace that kind of detached focus with someone like Sherlock Holmes, for example, then it should come as no shock or disappointment to see that characteristic in female detectives as well. As far as I’m concerned, it’s that stoicism and absence of emotional chow-chow that puts their shows on par with BBC’s Sherlock and above and beyond pretty much every other mainstream crime drama on American TV.

The Killing is not my favorite show by any stretch (though I do think the third season is turning out better than I originally anticipated), but I’m in love with Sarah Linden. Not only is she a smart, hardworking detective, but, like Buffy, she is constantly struggling with accepting who she is, and, also like Buffy, who she is, is an “unconventional” woman. Throughout three seasons, the viewer has been kept at arm’s length from the introverted detective in a way that completely mirrors what she does to everyone around her within the show itself. We get little tidbits about her life – she was abandoned as a child, spent time in foster care, has a son with a man about whom we get no information, and has had an affair with a colleague – but we never get the full story behind any of these events. She remains a mystery and not for any particular gimmicky effect that will later come out in some big dramatic reveal, but because that’s how she actually is. Because of her abandonment, she has some pretty heavy intimacy issues, played out most notably in the relationship with her son. I could see how people would think her despicable for the ways that she neglects her teenage boy, often leaving him alone in hotel rooms for days on end, his only meals being vending machine junk food, while she tries to bring some killer to justice. However, her job is her way of avoiding him because she cannot be what he needs her to be. She is not a mother. And, while I never like seeing a kid abandoned in such as way as Linden does to her son, her character is symbolic of a larger point that motherhood is not necessarily inherent for women just because they possess a uterus. The expectation on many shows – and in real life – is that once women have a child, some kind of maternal instinct will kick in and they will automatically know how to put themselves on a shelf and take care of everyone else around them to their own neglect. For many people, Linden particularly, that instinct is just not there. Maybe because of her own troubled past or simply because doesn’t want to, Linden will never really be able to love someone, even her child, in any kind of deep or meaningful way. Along the same lines, another common trope is women being able to do it all – be a good professional, a good wife, and a good mother. Linden can’t do that either and doesn’t seem to have any desire to do so.

In the first episode of this current season, we see Linden leading a very different life from where we left her at the end of season 2. She has a house (no more hotels), a new job (not on the police force), and a boyfriend (a tad bit her junior). I remember thinking as I watched the couple embrace in her new Suzie Homemaker kitchen, “Eww…this is so not Linden.” I guess she agreed because she quickly exits that life and re-enters the rainy darkness of the Seattle P.D. In a later episode, while reflecting on that short-lived lifestyle change, she admits that she was trying to make herself be something that she’s not, and it just didn’t work. Linden is just not suited for domestic life. Even though it makes her look bad sometimes (a female antihero at work), I appreciate the honesty in this character. To me, this is real womanhood.

I haven’t spent as much time with Stella Gibson – Gillian Anderson’s character on The Fall – as I have with Detective Linden because The Fall just finished its first season, which is – in typical BBC fashion –only five episodes long. Gibson and Linden share much in common by way of their work ethic, deductive reasoning skills, singlehood, and general iciness. However, where they diverge is on their sexiness and sexuality, which makes Anderson’s character slightly more interesting to me. Where Linden’s sex life is virtually non-existent and her appearance plain (but still attractive, in my opinion) – always donning a tight, low ponytail and wearing no make-up, oversized sweaters, and work boots – Gibson is hot, really hot. I don’t mean streetwalker. I mean HOT, in that confident, women’s business suit kind of way. She wears tight pencil skirts and satin, button-down shirts that simultaneously move like waves when she walks but also cling to her just enough to always be able to see her nipples. She likes sex but has no desire to be in a relationship. This is best exemplified in the first episode when we see Gibson spot a handsome, young cop at a crime scene. She asks her fellow officers to pull over the car and introduce her to him. She walks right up to him, tells him where she’s staying, and gives him the number to her hotel room. That’s it. No, “Hi, how ya doin’? Wanna get a drink?” Nothing. After their tryst, she ignores all of his texts and calls. When he asks her why, she says that she thought they had an understanding about what was “up.” To her chagrin, Office Olson hadn’t gotten the memo that in tonight’s episode, he would be playing the role of beefcake. Later, when another one of her male colleagues with whom she had previously had an affair, informs her that he would have left his wife and family for her, with a mien that could freeze hell, she replies, “That would have been a mistake.” Ugh! I love this woman! Even I’d sleep with her if I didn’t fear she’d leave me by the side of the road afterward.

I’m not saying that every woman on TV has to be imbued with some kind of sexuality or sexiness, but what I like about Gibson’s character is the way that sex and sexiness is used – or not used, I should say. She’s not using her looks or her sex as a form of power or a weapon or a crutch. It’s not being used to validate her existence. It is just part of who she is. She wants to work, drink her glass of wine, and have sex when she wants it, from whomever she wants it – whether that person’s married or not. As with Linden’s character, these traits may not necessarily appeal to all viewers, and they certainly don’t make her sympathetic. But, they are real, they are honest, and they make Gibson and The Fall worth spending some time with. Just don’t get too attached.

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Girl Crush Part I – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So, I’m almost 20 years late on this one, but I’ve just started watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. The 90’s were replete with cool chick stars from Xena to Angela Chase, but, at that time, I was too busy listening to Nine Inch Nails, piercing my body parts, and yelling at my mom, to pay attention to what was happening on the tube. Now that I’m filled with slightly less rage and fewer holes, I can sit back and enjoy watching Sarah Michelle Gellar kick some serious demon ass. While I’m only on the second season (there are 144 episodes, so this is going to take me a while), I’m totally hooked.

It’s been a long time – probably since HBO’s Six Feet Under – that I liked an entire cast this much. The dynamic between the central characters mimics every real life friendship I’ve ever had, including those that I have now in my adult years. The group, which at first seems to be an unconventional, verging on unbelievable, triad (hot new girl befriends two mildly good-looking nerds – no way!) develops its strong bond through healthy doses of support and sarcasm, and each person, not just the main character, gets significant air time and truly terrific lines. Joss Whedon’s writing is really what elevates Buffy beyond a silly monster show, as he uses the fantastical horror stories as vehicles to make larger points about pressing coming-of-age issues from date rape to parental divorce to peer pressure.

One of my favorite episodes so far is the show’s first Halloween episode. Because this is ultimately a monster show, it might have made sense for this episode to be either a funny throwaway or a blood bath. However, the nightmare in this episode is not the “real” threat of the ghouls that ascend from the Hellmouth but the townspeople themselves who actually become the costumes in which they’re dressed, and, in the case of the main characters, the complete opposite of the people they are in real life. Buffy, after lamenting her life as the Slayer because it inhibits her ability to just be a teenage girl, transforms into a beautiful but helpless princess; while Xander, who in the beginning of the episode is emasculated when Buffy steps in to fight off a school bully, turns into a Rambo-esq soldier. As a princess, Buffy is scared of everything and lacks the wherewithal to fight off the trick-or-treaters-turned-demons that have taken over Sunnydale. In this reversal, she has to rely on others to save her. Once order is restored, Buffy realizes that she is not meant to be a “conventional” girl – a damsel in distress – and is happy to just be who she is even if it interferes in being whatever typical thing she thinks she should be. Similarly, Xander, while getting his “manly” moment in the sun, also comes to terms with who he is and, more importantly, who he is not. It’s a great episode that touches, specifically, on understanding and undermining traditional gender expectations and, more generally, on self-acceptance. Even as an adult, these are messages I can appreciate.

This is why Buffy sometimes leaves me with sharp pangs of nostalgia and regret: I needed this show when I was 16, not 32. Regardless, it’s a fun show with sharp writing that almost completely holds up in the new century. If I were a parent of a teen or tween or whatever nomenclature is used to describe people under 20, I’d definitely make him/her watch this show.

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Girl Crush

In the past, I have lamented how much time I spend/waste in front of the television. However, recently I have caught up with some really good shows that have made me feel slightly less guilty about the massive butt indentation that has developed on my couch. While these shows differ in their content, format, cast, and era, the one commonality is that they all feature extraordinary female leads. With the complete abuse of the male antihero trope in modern television (i.e. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter), these women – and, by extension, their shows – are a breath of fresh air in a room full of man stink.

Since I tend to overwhelm my readers with very long blog posts, especially when I write reviews of what I’ve been watching or reading, I’ve decided to release my latest essay, “Girl Crush,” in a three-part series. You can read whichever ones you choose, though my preference, of course, is that you read them all and share them widely with those you love.  Part 1 will be about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Part 2 will cover both The Killing and The Fall. Part 3 will address the new Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Please note that some of these reviews contain mild spoilers.

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Springsteen and I: A Review

Springsteen and I, directed by Baillie Walsh and produced by Ridley Scott, is a documentary made almost entirely of home videos, blended with some rare concert footage, that chronicles the meaning of Bruce Springsteen as told through the lens of some of his most ardent followers. For the making of the film, Bruce fans were asked to submit videos of themselves explaining the role that he has played in their lives, both real and – in most cases – imaginary. The beauty of this film is that the fans captured in it are not a bunch of Hollywood and music elite celebrating the Boss, a la the Kennedy Center Honors, but instead are just every day people, young and old, American and international, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. They lack the eloquence of Jon Stewart, the panache of the Obamas, and the musical skills of Sting and Melissa Ethridge, but they love Bruce no less. I wouldn’t say they love him more; Bruce fans of all classes worship in fairly equal measure. But, they love him differently. With little to no chance of ever actually meeting this man, he remains to them a paradox of mythology and intimacy. These fans must love him from afar even though, in their hearts and minds, he knows them better than some of their closest friends and family, maybe even better than they know themselves. That’s the magic of Bruce Springsteen – to bring us together by baring himself to the world, to provide us with a shared experience, but, at the end of the day, make us feel – hence the title –  like it’s just him and me.

The film begins with fans describing Bruce in three words. Passion, hero, love, hope, and Gluteus Maximus (spelled incorrectly on a woman’s homemade poster in her video) are all tossed around in a DIY homage to one of American music’s greatest achievers. This seemed, initially, like a cliché way to start a documentary, something my composition students would do in their introductory paragraph to try to hook the audience in what they believe to be an imaginative way. But, soon, those three words morphed into full stories, experiences, and fantasies, most of which left the audience in fits of laughter, tears of joy, or breathless awe.

One Philadelphia man tells the story of the night that he attended a Bruce show at the Spectrum dressed up like Elvis in an attempt to attract Bruce’s attention. Not only does he get Bruce’s attention, but Bruce brings him up on stage, and the man completely usurps the show, stealing the mic from Bruce, finishing “All Shook Up” by himself as the band plays on in perfect time, while Bruce, pushed to the side of the stage by the impersonator, just continues to play his guitar, laughing to himself all the while. After the man jumps back down to his spot in the crowd, Bruce points to him and says, “The Philly Elvis! The Philly Elvis! I have no idea where the fuck he came from.” What is even cooler is that the Philly Elvis and his family were actually in the movie theater audience at last night’s viewing in King of Prussia, PA, so we all had the chance to ride on his coattails for a bit and applaud him at the end of the segment.

Other people had similar stories of being brought on stage during live shows. One man, who had just been dumped by his girlfriend right before the concert (seriously? Worst timing ever), receives both a hug from Bruce and has his request for the band to play “I’m Going Down” obliged in spiteful solidarity. Another fan, a twenty-something girl from England, holds up a sign that says “I’ll be your Courtney Cox” and gets pulled up on stage to dance with Bruce, living out many a woman’s fantasy of playing the famous role of the brunette vixen during “Dancing in the Dark.”

The best stories, though, were given by people who have never had the chance to meet Bruce and could speak to his influence, as is the only way most of us can, through his music and his undying energy on stage if they’ve been so privileged – as I have – to see him live. A little girl, no more than five years old, explains that Bruce is her favorite singer because he sweats more after performing one song than most normal singers do after singing ten. Another couple, who has never had the opportunity to see Bruce live for financial reasons, tells the audience unabashedly that they talk about Bruce every night, and later, when the film circles back to them, they are dancing together in their small, blue collar kitchen with Bruce playing on a radio propped on a kitchen chair behind them. One of the best videos was submitted by a man who is not a Bruce fan at all. His segment is a lament. A lament at being dragged to over half a dozen concerts by his crazy Springsteen-loving wife. A lament of the length of the shows (three and a half hours!). A lament at having visited some of the greatest European cities, only to have his travels disrupted by being forced to attend a Springsteen concert at the end of a long day. But, despite his complaints, it is clear that undergoing this torture is what he does for love.

One middle-aged man, videoing himself – perhaps unsafely – while driving, actually breaks down in tears when describing what it’s like to listen to Bruce, to be let in, through his music, to the man’s life in such a deeply personal way where you can “smell his coffee,” as he so aptly states. Many people in the audience started to laugh at the man’s sensitive blubbering. But, I didn’t. I totally got it. I, myself, have often lost my breath and erupted into tears not just listening to Bruce’s music, but simply talking about it or imagining what it would be like to be in his company or even in trying to wrap my head around the enormity of his presence in both my life and in the culture at large.

When I left the theater, I thought about what overwhelms me more: Bruce’s artistry or his power. Could you imagine having a movie made about you in this way? Watching one hour and forty minutes of hundreds of people you’ve never met telling you how you’ve changed their lives, shaped their lives, saved their lives? Knowing that you’re not just a rock star, that you’ve reached into and illuminated people’s souls – even those of us who aren’t even sure we have one – by exposing your own? That everyone thinks you write and perform for them personally, that everyone has a story of which you’re a part in some meaningful way? In watching these strangers, and in knowing my own self, it’s easy to see that, with Bruce, there exists a thin line between admiration and jealousy…of both wanting him and wanting to be him. Of thinking that in some way he belongs only to me because he’s my earliest musical memory, my first deep understanding of hurt, hope, and love, yet knowing, really, he belongs to everyone and, fundamentally, to no one but himself.

I laid awake all last night thinking about what my video would have been like if I had submitted one for this documentary. I may have read one of the many pieces I’ve written about Bruce on my blog over the years. I might have told the story of my husband proposing to me at one of his concerts in Atlantic City. I probably would have mentioned the inseparable bond created with my father over our shared love of Bruce’s music. But one thing’s for sure; I wouldn’t need three words to describe Bruce Springsteen because there’s really only one that explains it all: Truth.

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Dog Is the New Baby

Allow me to begin by saying that I love dogs. Truly, I do. I also somewhat like (other people’s) babies. But, generally, I don’t like these two mammals with my dinner. Don’t worry, this is not another “Stop taking your noisy children to restaurants!” rant. Well, not really. This is more a condemnation of hipster culture in the Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia, where you can’t eat without sitting outside and where you can’t live, apparently, without owning a dog.

Spend five minutes in Northern Liberties and you will realize that the goal is not to have a dog for the sake of being a pet owner or a rescuer, but really just to accessorize the overall hipster image. To me, this is much like giving a child a unique (read: unnecessarily bizarre) name in an effort to increase your persona as the cool parent (see: What’s In A Name?). In the same way that we see the battle for the weirdest names taking place in kindergarten classes across the country, Northern Liberties is the Appomattox of Philadelphians’ fight over whose dog is the biggest, smallest, cutest, most threatening without actually being threatening, shaggiest, or most likely to attract attention of scantily clad women. In the suburbs, people compete with each other via their children and baby Bjorns. In the city, it’s dogs and collars.

Not only can’t you move smoothly and efficiently through Northern Liberties without getting tangled in a web of couture dog leashes, but you also can’t peacefully eat outside either. Last night, while trying to enjoy my jalapeño margarita at El Camino Real, a couple at the table next to us sipped beers and ate chips and guac with their black lab Stella in tow. Truth be told, Stella was cute. But, Stella also got very excited every time another dog walked by, which, as you’ve guessed by now, happens every thirty seconds in Northern Liberties. Not only did Stella get physically excited and wrap herself all up in her leash and knock loudly on the table with her tail, but she would bark relentlessly and jump all over the dogs that walked by. Of course, it was all in doggy jest, but the owners of both dogs (Stella and the passers-by) would think it was fun and cute to let their dogs jump all over each other, try to bite each other’s faces off, and bark wildly for minutes on end while the dog-parents sat there and traded facts about their pets. Every time I started a conversation with my husband, Stella and some other dog would start going ape-shit on each other, completely disrupting our conversation and our dining experience. The noise of the dogs was only surpassed by the owners, who in the midst of swapping pet stories, mildly yanked on leashes and sternly spoke the dogs’ names in an attempt to show everyone around that they’re at least trying to discipline the dog, when, in reality, the best thing to do would have been to walk away and separate the barking dogs from one another. It was just like watching parents of children at restaurants who do not remove a wailing or whining child from a crowded dining room or those parents who are too caught up in sharing their kid stories with other parents to notice that the rest of us are in the crossfire of mammals behaving badly.

Ok, so the lesson here might be: don’t eat outside. But, that’s not my take-away. Instead, I hold to the “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” philosophy. Look, I get that people with kids want a night out at a nice restaurant once in awhile, and sometimes they just can’t find a babysitter. I also understand that kids will eventually become adults who will need to know how to behave in restaurants; therefore, some early training is necessary. So, on the kids at restaurants front, I try to be as understanding as possible. But, bringing your dog out to dinner? Come on now. It’s summer, and pets deserve their time in the breeze and sun as much as the rest of us, but that’s what dog parks and backyards are for, not the table next to me at a moderately priced Mexican restaurant in the middle of a major metropolis.

So, for all the Philly hipsters out there, you know what’s really cool? Being considerate of others around you. You can do this in an ironic or un-ironic way, with your pants cuffed or tapered, with your tattoos sparse or full-sleeve; the choice is yours. Obviously, those of us without kids or dogs are already missing out on the things in life that make us look cool, so throw us square, childless, non-dog owner, just-looking-to-get-a-quick-bite-and-some-booze-without-something-biting-my-feet-or-screaming-for-more-ice-cream citizens a bone, and leave your dogs (and/or kids) at home. Thanks!

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I Heard He Killed A Man…

Last week, after having read The Great Gatsby for the first time in at least a decade, I had a dream that I went to see the movie, but in my dream, the movie was a cartoon. Granted, it had that eerily realistic appearance that has come to define animated Pixar (and the like) movies, but it was a cartoon nonetheless. It is often said that Scorpios have a sixth sense, and my dream was certainly a close approximation of what I experienced when I went to see The Great Gatsby on the big screen this weekend.

I’m not going to bother with the whole “here’s how the movie differs from the book” argument because I think something more complex is happening here; I’m just not sure the complexity is situated in the right places. It seems to me that Baz Luhrmann had some real and important intentions with this movie, the cartoonish appearance being one of many. Whether or not his intentions worked is another story.

The clearly CGI-ed cityscapes and beachfront homes made New York and its outlying areas appear as if they existed only in a dream…but not just any dream, the most cliché dream that you can think of,  replete with tons of mist and fog and houses separated by ivy and hanging trees, making you feel like the walk from Gatsby’s house to Nick’s was a trip through the hidden passageway in The Secret Garden (published in 1910, so maybe not a bad reference point). While the imagery itself disappointed me, I understand the use of artificiality here. In general, I think the overarching view of the 1920’s is an artificial one. The narrative that we as Americans have made up in our minds about the Jazz Age and all its glitz and glamour is false, erroneous, and unreflective of the true nature of that time in which the rich got very rich very quickly, and the poor, as usual, were left abandoned in bread lines. Well, it might not be false, exactly, but it’s certainly gilded, and in this case, maybe a computer-generated ersatz New York is not such bad choice for a contemporary filmmaker trying to capture this era.

The graphics might also have been a commentary on the way The Great Gatsby itself was both viewed by its author and received by others. When Gatsby was first published, it was met with dismal reviews. The basic criticism, to reduce it entirely, was that it lacked a story. Fitzgerald was convinced that his critics failed to truly understand what the book was trying to do. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, of course; and any person who knows squat about the Modernist era in literature understands that the authors in this time period were completely reinventing story telling altogether. In any case, part of what is great about Gatsby is that there is a story, but it’s secondary to the language with which it’s written. Gatsby at its core, similar to Nabokov’s Lolita, is a novel about language, about storytelling… without the conventional storyline. So, one might (poorly) argue that Fitzgerald used his beautiful, unfussy language to “compensate” for, or even cover up, the lack of a linear narrative (which, personally, is fine by me because I’ll take beautiful writing over a standard plotline any day). But, maybe Lurhmann’s over-the-top, cinematic gymnastics were his way of doing the same thing with a visual medium: since there is no “story” that can truly be adapted to film, the TRICKS ARE THE MOVIE in the same way that the LANGUAGE IS THE BOOK.  Again, maybe not such a bad choice…

This movie missed the mark on many fronts, particularly on providing any kind of serious commentary on class or the sheer wasteful extravagance that is the American way. But, for better or worse, this movie is an homage to one of the great books. I think Lurhmann desperately wanted to pay tribute to this book by making it larger than life. In casting the definition of the Hollywood playboy, alongside Spiderman and a few good looking white chicks, he made Gatsby into a Marvel summer blockbuster (Gatsby even gets an inappropriate fight scene!). For me, I’m not sure that pays the book the respect it deserves, but I can at least appreciate that Lurhmann, like many of us, see Gatsby as a flawed American superhero (or antihero), similar to the Ironman with whom he’s currently competing, representing all that is good and (mostly) bad about being an American capitalist.

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Year In Review

I love making lists. I particularly like to make “to-do” lists on sticky notes. However, I also like “best of,” “worst of,” “honorable mention,” and “recommendation” lists as well. So, with this in mind, I am compiling what I’d like to call Monica’s 2012 All Of The Above List, encompassing my likes, dislikes, surprises, disappointments, firsts, lasts, and everything in between for 2012.

* Note: some of the items on this list – particularly the TV shows, movies, or books – are things that I encountered in 2012, but they may not necessarily have been made, published, or released in 2012.  

Top 10 Reads of 2012 – The “Why I Should Get Rid Of Cable” or the “Kill Your TV” List

1. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson

2. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

3. * We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

4. * In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard

5. * Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

6. * The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

7. * World War Z by Max Brooks

8. * How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

9. * Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

10. * Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Top 5 Most Disappointing Reads of 2012 – The “We Were the Mulvaneys” List (named after the 400+ page J.C. Oates novel that I read to completion even though I knew by page 100 that I hated it)

1. * A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

2. * Atonement by Ian McEwan

3. * The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

4. Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith

5. * Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Top 5 TV Shows of 2012 – The “When The Hell Are You Coming Back On?!” Writhing With Anticipation List

1. Sherlock

2. The Walking Dead

3. Girls

4. American Horror Story: Asylum

5. Game of Thrones

Top 5 Shows I Gave Up On in 2012 – The “You Had Me, Then You Lost Me” In Memoriam List

1. Boardwalk Empire

2. Modern Family

3. The Mindy Project

4. Elementary

5. 666 Park Avenue

(Addendum: Shows I’m About to Give Up On in the New Year – The “Verge Of Extinction” Warning List)

1. Homeland

2. The New Girl

Top 10 Movies of 2012 – The “Top Ten Movies of 2012” List

1. Brave

2. *Dogtooth

3. Cabin in the Woods

4. Take This Waltz

5. Moonrise Kingdom

6. * The Orphanage

7. * The Devil’s Backbone

8. Bernie

9. * Higher Ground

10. * Take Shelter

Honorable Mention Movies of 2012 – The “I Like You, But I Don’t Like You, Like You” List

1. Argo

2. * Goon

3. * A Separation

4. The Hunger Games

5. * Shame

Top 5 Disappointing Movies of 2012 – The “Not Worth the Hype” or the “Hal Halbert Is About To Disown Me” Sad to Say It List

1. Silver Linings Playbook

2. Snow White and the Huntsman

3. The Avengers

4. The Dark Knight Rises

5. Prometheus

Top 5 Movies in the Queue for 2013 – The “Might Have Made the Top Ten of 2012 If I Had Seen Them In A Timelier Fashion” Confessions Of A Cinema Slacker List

1. Lincoln

2. Zero Dark Thirty

3. Hyde Park on Hudson

4. The House I Live In

5. Compliance

Top 5 Musical Artists of 2012 – The “Good Vibrations” List

1. Of Monsters and Men

2. The Civil Wars

3. The Lumineers

4. Alabama Shakes

5. Lana Del Rey

Top 5 Eating/Drinking Experiences of 2012 – The “Reasons I Need To Work Out” Scrumdiddlyumptious List

1. Mica (thus far, the best Chip Roman restaurant)

2. Dandelion (for brunch especially)

3. Sycamore (nice little BYO in the suburbs)

4. Forest and Main Brewing Company (cool new pub in Ambler, PA)

5. Any Marc Vetri restaurant, but kudos to his new gastropub Alla Spina (get the pig tails)

2012 Highlights – The “Dreaded Christmas Letter” List

1. Ran a mud race, two 5K’s, and a 10K

2. Went back to school/applied into a PhD program

3. Celebrated my 5-year wedding anniversary

4. Vacationed in Barcelona (also included: first topless beach experience)

5. Saw some cool shows (music/plays): Bruce Springsteen (twice), Peter Gabriel, Angels in America (Parts 1 and 2), Red Eye to Havre de Grace, The Legwarmers (possibly one too many times, but I’ll never stop going), Melody Gardot, The Wayside Shakeup, The Sherwood Brothers

6. Got into a verbal altercation with Junot Diaz (note: this actually happened in 2011)

7. Promoted to Assistant Professor of English

8. Voted for Barack Obama (again) and won (again)

9. Gave someone a pair of thongs that said “What Would Hester Prynne Do?” on the front. And, while it didn’t happen yet, it will make the post-top ten, top ten when we welcome said person into our family after she marries my cousin next week. Preemptive congratulations to my cousin Christopher and his fiancée Maureen!

10. Made a lot of lists (as evidenced after looking through the past year’s worth of blog posts)

So, that’s my year in review. Feel free to comment on this post with your best and worst lists of 2012, and don’t be shy about including your memorable moments (even if I don’t know you personally).

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