Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nothing to do with Nothing

I don't have too much to say about writing right now. It's going. I'm working hard to finish my book so that I can officially say I wrote three this year (and a half). It's tough, it's driving me insane, but it's going well.

Instead I decided to do a post about some of my favorites from the year. They weren't necessarily things that were produced this year, just things I listened to/read/watched this year that really wowed me.

Amanda Palmer- Who Killed Amanda Palmer? was an album I first heard about from Neil Gaiman's blog. I avoided it for a while since he also recommended The Magnetic Fields and they made me want to puke in my mouth a little. But from the first song to the last, I was blown away by Amanda. She's one half of The Dresden Dolls, and having listened to The Dresden Dolls, I have to say that I think she's the soul. Goth? Cabaret? Punk? I don't think she's classifiable, and that's fine by me.

Against Me! - Against Me! has been around for a while but I have to say that I believe their album New Wave is maybe the most perfect punk album ever created. The politics are punk/anarchy, honest, and unapologetic,

Here we are, a rock band looking for new audiences.
Wherever we go, Coca-Cola's already been.
Americans abroad!
Americans abroad!
And I just can't help but think that there's nothing in sight.
And while I hope I'm not like them, I'm not so sure.

But at the same time, the production values are polished, Tom Gabel's vocals are outstanding, and it's accessible to people for whom punk is a dirty word. I grew up on Operation Ivy and L7 and Propagandhi, and Rancid. I loved all of those bands, and while I love the politics, and I love what punk music stands for, I also want music I can LISTEN to. New Wave is all that. It really IS the best of both worlds.

Aimee Mann - Aimee Mann released an album this year and it was good, but the one I've been playing more than anything else is her Live at St. Ann's Warehouse album. From beginning to end, it's absolutely amazing with the best section being a triple punch of "That's Just What You Are," "Pavlov's Bell" and "Long Shot." I can't say enough about this. I listened to this more than any album in 2008 and it might be the same in 2009.

I wasn't too thrilled with television this year. I mean there were some good shows like the BBC's Skins, or Pushing Daisies, Lost's stellar season, and Battlestar Galactica, but there are three shows which have blown me away this year:
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles - This show had an uneven first season, one cut short by a strike, and I still think the kid they chose to play John Connor is a wuss, but the story-telling has kept me watching. They've really taken the time travel device and done some unique, unusual stories and told them in unique and unusual ways. This is one of those shoes I look forward to every week.

Damages - What can you say about Glen Close that ain't already been said? Seriously, this show was jaw-dropping and in-fucking-credible. Had they not taken the risk to tell the story in such a different way, it might not have been as successful, but they did and I can't wait for season 2.

Friday Night Lights - If you want to see top notch writing, top notch acting, and a show that makes me sit up and cheer every single week, FNL is that show. It was a miracle that it got a third (shortened) season, but thank God it did. Just wow. This show shows what TV can be, it's an example of how stories can be told on TV and not just be schlock. I've never sat through an entire football game in my life, but this show makes you care so much about the characters that I cheer and cringe and root for my team, the Dillon Panthers.

Like TV, there were some good movies this year: Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, Into the Wild, but the one movie that made me thankful for movies was:
The Dark Knight - For one reason and one reason only: Heath Ledger. It wasn't even Heath in that movie, there was nothing of him in that character. He WAS the joker, through and through. His performance reminded us that evil can be fun and disturbing and there doesn't always have to be a reason for it.

I read a lot of books this year. Not as many as in years past, but quite a few. Unfortunately not too many really stand out. I spent a lot of time writing, so that had a lot to do with it, but I think I've just been choosing the wrong books. Don't get me wrong, some were fun little books, like The Amazing Benedict Society, and Uglies, but there were only a couple that really jumped up and down and made me recommend them to others. The best of those was:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I admit I'd never heard of her before, but I kept seeing this book pop upon blogs so I gave it a shot. It was an easy read, I finished it in a day, and the prose was straightforward, but something about the story and the storytelling was so compelling. At the half-way point, I tossed the book across the room. When I'd calmed, I picked it back up, figuring the story was ruined, but Collins fooled me in a big way (something that almost never happens) and made me so happy. Apparently it's the first in a trilogy but the book ended well enough that even if I never see the next two books, I'll be satisfied...of course I'm anxiously waiting for those other two books. Maybe they'll pop up in this list next year.

Okay. That's it. My shoddy year-end blog entry is done. I'll be doing updates later on about the state of The Deathday Letter and rounding up what I'm working on. But for now, I'm heading back into my hole to finish my last book of the year.

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