Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in review: The very best that 2013 could do ... or so it says

Well, it’s Dec. 30.
For those of us on the Gregorian Calendar, that means while 2013 isn’t completely dead and buried, it is mostly dead and it is in the coffin and the coffin has been placed in the earth and a team of elderly cemetery employees are, as we speak, slowly shoveling dirt on top of it.  
                This could take a while, folks.
                So while that’s going on and before most of the free world drinks itself into a Ryan Seacrest-fueled mania, how’s about a look back at the year we all just endured and hopefully emerged from unscathed? That dark and spider-infested year of our Lord 2013.    
                Here they are, the things that ruled the world in 2013.

Best Movie: "Pacific Rim." Giant Godzilla-esque monsters fighting giant robots and Michael Bay is nowhere in sight? Sounds like and was, the recipe for cinematic heaven.  

Best Song: “Chocolate,” by The 1975. I went from zero to seeing them live in about two months thanks to how awesome this song is. The song is dark and poppy, the band members have interesting accents and weird hair. In a word: British.  

Best TV Show: "Game of Thrones." It takes a lot to get me to follow an hour-long TV drama. It takes even more to get me to follow an hour-long drama on a network I don’t actually have legal access to. “Game of Thrones” overcame those odds, leaving behind hundreds of shows that I’ll always hear are great but will never watch. Sorry “Sopranos.”

Best Book: “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King. I think I read two books that were released during the calendar year of 2013, this one and “NOS4A2,” by Joe Hill, King’s son. The rest of the books I read were from scattered periods of time. Both were very good, “Doctor Sleep” was better.

Best Food: Sushi. I’m not sure when my nonsensical love affair with sushi began, but it intensified during 2013. I don’t like most fish or really anything that lives in the sea, but man sushi is tremendous. Here’s to many more years together, my tempura-battered – or not – friend.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A very, very grown-up Christmas: Action figures and advice for future children

The most important thing that you need to know about me is that I am an adult.
                And being an adult, my wish list this holiday season featured a great many items that appeal to persons of a mature standing in society.
                A subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Ties. Several bottles of finely-aged scotch. Meryl Streep’s entire filmography on tape.
                Also on my list? Many, many toys. Not the dirty, bedroom kind either. The fun kind. Action figures. But you know, for grown-ups.
                I believe collectibles is the accepted name we’ve given to these items, but let’s all be honest with ourselves for a minute. Where I’m from, we call a spade a spade and a toy a toy and those things, as fun to collect as they may in fact be, are still plain old fashioned toys. Just with way cooler accessories.
                I’ve been a big action figure fan my whole life. From my early days, during the golden age of action figures (the 90s), playing with “Terminator 2,” “Jurassic Park,” Power Ranger and GI Joe guys all the way through the modern day.
                These days, it’s mostly “Terminator” stuff that I enjoy purchasing, but I’m open to other merchandise from pop culture mediums I enjoy, as well. This includes your Batmans, your Dexters and so on from there.
                Now, the toy – or collectible if you’re still in that closet – community is splintered into two main groups: those who open and those who don’t. I’m an open guy for the most part. I don’t see any reason to leave all those bad ass accessories locked away in a box, unfondled.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

24/7: Road to Christmas: Musing on Beloved Traditions Before the Sleigh Arrives

It’s that time of year once again. The time where I complain about B101’s taste in Christmas music, watch “Black Christmas” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” over and over and scream The Royal Guardsmen’s “Snoopy’s Christmas” at the top of my lungs when I’m in the car by myself.

As magical as those traditions are – very – they’re not even all that high on my list of favorite Christmas activities.

Of course, I don’t have an actual list per say. That’d take too much work. What I do have is a loose and random collection of things that I enjoy or enjoyed doing during the long, slow slog towards C-Day morning, when wrapping paper bombs go off in living rooms all across this great and god-fearing nation.

  • The family party. Gatherings with the extended family used to be a pretty huge deal when I was younger, but none more than the Christmas party, which my family hosted. These parties got less and less important as I got older until it reached the point where I stopped going to any of them. Things have come full circle now and I enjoy going to them again, but still nowhere near as much as I did when I was a lad. I’ll always remember hanging out with the cousins and playing nonsense games with Nerf guns. The all-time highlight took place during the Christmas party when I was in 8th grade. Both my younger cousin and I were completely obsessed with the WWF and we spent a huge chunk of the night reenacting matches and moves. It all culminated memorably with me locking him in the Mandible Claw complete with sweaty sock, which made both of us crack up. Well, he cracked up after I'd removed the sock from his mouth.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ... Shoes: And why it's awesome he did

Until today, I’ve managed to avoid a scourge that usually plagues the Christmas music season: “Christmas Shoes” by NewSong  (actual band name by the way, I guess GenricName was taken).
                Now look, I’m hesitant to call “Christmas Shoes” the worst Christmas/holiday song of all time. Not as long as Dan Fogelberg’s “Another Auld Lang Syne” is still out roaming free, taking lives where it pleases.
                While it isn’t definitively the worst holiday song, “Christmas Shoes” is without a shadow of a doubt the cheesiest, sappiest thing in a season chock-full of cheesy, sappy things.
                When it came on the radio this morning, I did the only thing any sane and clear-headed person could do when faced with the prospect of listening to NewSong’s “Christmas Shoes”: I considered cutting the steering wheel hard to the left and plowing straight into a concrete barrier at a reasonable rate of speed.
                Eventually I decided against it. Even more incorrect, I decided to listen to the song. Call me a masochist, but I hadn’t heard it in a year and I wanted to see if it was as much a syrupy nightmare as I remembered it.
                Oh yeah. It’s worse.
                “Christmas Shoes” is the soap opera of Christmas music.