Editor's Blog

My Own Special Year in Review, Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013-12-24T00:00:00Z 2013-12-24T12:26:08Z My Own Special Year in Review, Thursday, December 26, 2013By Pat Colander nwitimes.com
December 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

MY OWN SPECIAL YEAR IN REVIEW

Here are some highlights and lowlights of 2013, at least from my personal point of view. I still have not gotten around to reading the Harry Potter books or even The Cuckoo’s Calling, but you have to have goals for 2014 besides just going to the health club more often. For what it’s worth:

The Year Regular Television-Watching Became Tolerable: At the end of my dismissal of television as a worthless, mindless type of media, I was getting tired of hearing myself. Television has a lot going for it these days. There are many interesting shows now: I watched every episode of House of Cards and I know exactly what happens because I already saw the British version. I am fascinated by Orange is the New Black, because I’ve never thought about what prison might be like. I like shows without commercials that I can watch whenever I want.

Civil War Gets More Interesting All the Time: Though the re-ignited interest in the Civil War has been led by award-winning movies like Lincoln, Django Unchained, and Twelve Years a Slave, new books are on continual roll-out. My list of favorite books I read this year includes James McBride’s CW-prelude fictional memoir, The Good Lord Bird and another edition of Mark Twain’s autobiography, entwined from start to finish with CW history.

52+ Books in 52 Weeks: I read outstanding books this year and the top ten in no particular order are 1. John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger; 2. Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon; 3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter; 4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver; 5. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride; 6. Game Change about the 2008 race by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin; 7. Double Down: Game Change 2 by the same authors; 8. Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton; 9. The Unwinding by George Packer and 10. two graphic novels by Alison Bechdel: Fun Home and Are You My Mother.

Drunk History on Funny or Die: Yes, there is a certain amount of guilt about laughing at the impaired but that goes away when the history stories are told ridiculously by famous actors and actresses and their friends who are known to not have permanent substance abuse problems like Will Ferrell, Don Cheadle and Zooey Deschanel acting out a meeting between Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and later Mary Todd Lincoln. I know I am late to this party: 1.75 million watched this video before I did.

MISSES

Johnny Depp’s Tonto Confuses: Probably the most interesting thing about Johnny Depp is that the movies he makes are so unpredictable. The only constant seems to be that his makeup artists do well at the Oscars. No one anticipated that the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, released in July of 2006 would make more than $520 million. Or that The Lone Ranger, in spite of high-energy, great stunt work, good makeup, several running gags that weren’t too bad and a screenplay made out of almost thin air, would be such a disappointment. (The movie still made $91 million.)

The Disappointing Season Finales: The Newsroom on HBO ended with Mac and Will getting engaged again. Don’t get me wrong, this is not to take away from Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer who are great and Aaron Sorkin is a terrific television writer and there were many episodes I loved and I’m thrilled that there will be a third season, but the ending? Just a relief about the Mac and Will melodrama, and did anyone ever believe they were all going to quit----and what, maybe start their own show like Mad Men started their own advertising agency? Really? On the other hand, Downton Abbey’s sweeping exodus and killing off main players was over the top. Why not try a Doctor Who-type metamorphosis and just hire another actor to play Matthew? While I applauded the surge in pace at the end of the Game of Thrones season and the slaughter episode was an amazing shock to the casual viewer, the series still ended with a solid shrug.

The Weather in June: Don’t remember the temperature getting above 60 degrees the whole month, although the research may never be complete, because this is way too depressing to continue on.

The Sequester that Grounded Air Shows Military Planes: We do not live in Washington, New York or other centers of big time political conflict and consequence. So, how come we were so impacted by the cuts that were never supposed to happen in the first place? It is a mystery that continues, but in the meantime, the biggest, best and most breathtaking planes and pilots are off the stage for now.

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