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2008: Year in Review

January 1, 2009

I think the general consensus is that 2008 blew.  I can’t say I disagree – other than the election, which sucked up so much of my time and energy, I can’t think of many bright spots. I got two pay cuts at my tutoring job, though at least I’m still employed.  So rather than thinking about meaningful current events or historic elections, I’m going to do what I do best, and focus on pop culture.

I’ve been keeping track, and in 2008 I saw 44 movies in the theaters and read 25 books. I didn’t think to keep track of new CDs that I got but now I’m thinking I have a great New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I know there are some movies that were released in 2008 that would have made the list, but I haven’t seen them yet.

Movies

The Best

The Dark Knight – I’d been waiting for this movie since the day I walked out of Batman Begins. Unlike most movies that have years of hype built around them (Indiana Jones, etc.) Dark Knight failed to disappoint in any way.  I may be a bit biased since I saw it on IMAX, but I just thought it was the most superb comic book turned blockbuster I’ve seen.

Iron Man – I feel like somehow the slightly demented genius always ends up being the villain. In fact, in a book I own, How to be a Villain, mad scientist is one of the top occupations you can have, aside from shape-shifter or telemarketer. Yet Tony Stark, who builds himself a frickin nuclear reactor in a cave, turns himself into a hero.  Most of the science seemed fairly legit, aside from the cold fusion thing, which was bullocks. But still, Robert Downey, Jr. Who knew?

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – Jason Segel is perhaps one of the most underrated comedic actors out there. The best line in any movie that I’ve been meaning to incorporate into my daily speech but haven’t (resolution #2) was Russell Brand’s response to Jonah Hill’s inquiry about his demo tape: “I was gonna listen to that, but um, I just carried on living my life.” I would’ve paid real money to see the puppet vampire musical starring Van Helsing. Speaking of which, Segel said he has plans to write the next Muppets movie, so keep an eye out for that. I’m already excited to see the bromance I Love You, Man that he’s starring in with Paul Rudd.

The Worst

I’m a little embarrassed at the sheer number of terrible movies I saw. I can only assume that I had some crazy desire to go see every movie that came out in February through May.  Yikes.

Fool’s Gold – In my defense, I had to be talked into going to this one and only then at promises of Matthew McConaughey’s abs. The only thing I really remember about it is that Kate Hudson had a cute white nightgown that I’ve been trying to find to buy ever since.  What a load of tripe. I seem to remember reading an interview that both of them (Hudson and McConaughey) did for a magazine in which they couldn’t seem to stop talking about what best friends they were and how they knew each other’s B.O. so well.

Twilight – I understand the desire to follow the book closely so as not to disappoint the die-hard fans, but I’m still a little confused as to how the screenwriter and the director missed the chance to make up for the many significant flaws of the book. Needless to say, I don’t agree with the decision to turn vampires into sexless harmless beings and their love interests into mind numbing caricatures of interesting people.

Eagle Eye – I like action thrillers as much as anybody, and while the stunts and explosions were very loud and impressive, the big reveal of the explanation at the end was so contrived and overdone I’m surprised more people didn’t figure it out to begin with.

Books

The Best

A Long Way Gone – I saw Ishamel Beah give an interview on the Daily Show and to look at him you would never guess at the path his life his taken. He is a happy, intelligent, bright man. Reading his memoirs about his childhood in Sierra Leone, it’s hard to believe that someone that endured the murder of so many family members and friends, who lived in constant terror of being killed or captured could have survived. He was eventually captured by army forces and given drugs to make him addicted, trained to fight and use a weapon and used as a pawn to kill other innocent people in Sierra Leone’s civil war. It reads like fiction and yet it is horrifyingly true. I read What is the What by Dave Eggers, about a Sudanese refugee, shortly after, and it just fell flat.

Saturday – There are some writers who have such a way with words that I would pick up whatever it is they’ve written and start reading it, no questions asked, even if it were a manual on how to clean heating ducts. Ian McEwan, probably best known for Atonement, is one of those writers. Saturday is the story of a middle aged neurosurgeon and one Saturday in his life, from it’s ominous beginning at the sighting of a burning plane in the sky to a chance encounter on the street that leads to possibly deadly consequences for him and his family. Very interesting contemporary fiction.

The Worst

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – I think I somehow picked this book up in a book exchange, and I can see now why someone wanted to give it away. I’ll copy here my review from goodreads: Had I known this was going to be made into a Lifetime movie, I never would have started reading it. I never believed the entire premise, and what’s more I did not care. Not one sympathetic character among the bunch, not to mention that none of them were even believable.  I don’t care for Edwards writing style, which is Danielle Steele on Prozac. And I freely admit to reading more than a few Danielle Steele books, back in the day, but at least they were steamy. This was just boring. I should’ve known better when Sue Monk Kidd gave it a glowing review on the cover.

Eat, Pray, Love – I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I knew it was about Elizabeth Gilbert’s year of travel after a nasty divorce and the four months each she spends in Italy, India, and Indonesia. She never goes on to explain what it was that was so awful about her divorce or what caused her depression and as a result it never hit home.  Aside from a brief moment of extreme jealousy about the pizza she was eating in Naples I really had no desire to be where she was or do what she did. Maybe that wasn’t the point. Either way, I was disappointed.

Music

I went through the entire list of albums that were released in 2008 over on Wikipedia and could only count 9 that I had actually listened to. So of those I’ll just put forth my favorite songs, as I lack the musical IQ to say anything witty or insightful about any of them.

The Raconteurs – “Many Shades of Black”

Adele – “Make You Feel My Love”

Jack’s Mannequin – “Drop Out (The So Unknown)”  – there isn’t an official video for this one, so excuse the shaky concert video- the sound is great though.

So let’s recap with the resolutions:

1. Keep a list of new CDs purchased and listened to.

1a. Listen to at least 1 new record per month.

2. Make “I was going to —— but then I just carried on living my life” happen.

3. Lose 10 pounds. What kind of resolution list would this be if I didn’t vow to improve my health and then throw all good intentions to the wind days (hours) later?

3a. Run a 5K and a 10K. I’m throwing the 5K in there as a confidence booster, as I will most likely fail at a 10K.

4. Stop accidentally injuring myself. How are curling irons that hot? How?

5. Become a guitar hero.

Happy new year to all!  May the liquor be plentiful, the financial losses be small, and the movies be better.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicole permalink
    January 10, 2009 8:04 am

    Hey Megan,

    I just stumbled across your blog and really quite like it. You may have even gained a regular reader! As far as your list of resolutions go, I have a suggestion for you about 1a. Deezer has quickly become one of my favourite websites of all time, and I think you might like it too. The idea is that you can go on, search for artists and listen to their music completely free of charge or time limit. Best of all, it’s 100% legal, because Deezer pays part of it’s advertising profits to the record companies who allow them to use their artist’s music. It’s a wonderful way to listen to entire albums and discover new artists without having to buy a bunch of CDs.

    Okay, sermon over now. Thanks for the blog! Good luck with everything,

    Nicole

  2. January 16, 2009 6:18 pm

    i wonder what will be more successful/popular in the long run, Twilight or Harry Potter

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