Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: A 2012 recap

2012 ended. Like many, I have compiled a "Best of List" for 2012, but to be different, my list is about how things have changed in my life over the past year. Since I am still a self-proclaimed pop-culture guru, I will be recommending things like watching Looper (starring Hashtag JGL), The Avengers (Hulk smash box office), Sleepwalk with Me (based on Mike Birbiglia's book/life), 21 Jump Street (a good remake?), NBC's sitcom Go On (pronounced goon), and porn on the internet. So midway through the first month of 2013, I give you a professional procrastinator's recap of 2012.

Valentine's Day....bummer.
5) The world didn't end. That means I can relax until 2016. I still have all the batteries from the Y2K scare, the duct tape from the anthrax breakout, and the bunker of water and non-perishable food items for the Mayan calendar ending. Now, I just have to wait it out until Febuary 14th, 2016. Sorry, I can't go one post without using a Ghostbusters reference.

4) I gave up on radio. With songs like Set Fire to the Rain, Call me Maybe, and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together making me smash my head because of idiocy. How can you set fire to water? So you're never getting back together, fair enough...but why write a song about this? Call me, maybe. Should I call or not? Carly, you are confusing. After yelling at my radio and then realizing it won't listen to my suggestions, I did the only sane thing I could think of...I gave up listening to the radio.
Don't call...just text.

Now, I listen only to podcasts. And by golly, listening to comedians talk about movies, pop culture, and tell jokes about anal sex ...I start to wonder why did I ever listen to the radio. I have CDs/MP3s of the best music...Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Alice in Chains, Pantera...you know, the classics. So, when I'm not jamming to my old school jams...I'm listening to podcasts. What I've learned is that there are several podcast networks out there with multiple shows on them. Of these networks, my favorites are Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier's SModcast network, Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ulrich's Earwolf network, and Chris Hardwick's Nerdist network. Of course there are independent podcasts as well...so here is my top 12 podcasts (independent or from any network) that I've discovered throughout 2012.

  • The Adam Carolla Show - Adam talks and complains. Sometimes it is funny, other times its him ranting about flavored iced tea or lemonaide.
  • You Made it Weird - Pete Holmes laugh is infectious. The show is dependent on the guest and their stories.
  • Christopher Titus Podcast - Titus rants. It's political, but passionate. I agree with his Lion Day idea.
  • Professor Blastoff - Tig and the gang are silly even when dealing with some serious personal issues.
  • Who Charted? - Kulap and Howard count down the charts with their guest.
  • Screenrant Underground - When their microphones work, this is a great companion to the articles on their website. Plus, they discuss my favorite movies.
  • How Did this Get Made? - Bad movies get another look...and then they are blasted.
  • The Nerdist - Chris Hardwick talks with guests. Some episodes are better than others, but usually it is quite interesting.
  • Cashing in with T.J. Miller - Cash Levy brings in T.J. Miller as a guest each week to talk about Cash phrases and to wear masks.
  • Doug Love Movies - Doug invites friends to talk movies and play games. 
  • Hollywood Babble On - Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith talk about pop culture while using celebrity impressions, drug references, and anal jokes as filler.
  • Comedy Film Nerds - Graham and Chris take a look at movies. Each one's unique perspective during their themed episodes is the best. They also break down my favorite movies.

3) For the first time since I've became my own person, I saw more kids' movies in the theater than films orientated to a person of my age/maturity (maturity meaning superhero flicks, age meaning serious meaningful dramas). So unlike last year where I made my own "best of" list, this year I give you a range of movies that I sat through in a theater as a parent.
  • Finding Nemo 3D - not worth the 3D prices. And getting a 3 1/2 year old to wear those glasses through the entire movie...good luck.
  • The Muppets - (2nd viewing) After seeing this Thanksgiving of 2011, we returned shortly after the new year. Then we bought it. Now, I'm burnt out on the Muppets...until the sequel in March of 2014!
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - I like the Penguins, but not enough to ever want to sit through this one again.
  • The Lorax - The Seuss book is a classic...this film, not so much.
  • Brave - Pixar is known for creating fantastical worlds of imagination, but this film doesn't reach most people's high expectations. However, it made my daughter happy, so I was happy.
  • Hotel Transylvania - Gnomeo and Juliet retold for the billionth time.  This go around has monsters interacting with humans. A retelling of a classic story with a Halloween themed back drop makes it a treat for young'uns.
  • Wreck-it Ralph - This is a strange one because my daughter and I both liked this film a lot, but for very different reasons.

Other than kids movies, I did manage to watch The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and the Amazing Spider-Man in theaters. With those theater viewings and a few rentals, I saw eight of my fifteen selections for most anticipated movies of the year (two films from that list were pushed back to 2013 release dates....so honestly, I only missed five of the films I wanted to see).  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Prometheus since everyone has been ragging on that film, and Looper was my favorite original science fiction film even with the time travel logic problems. 

Through the magic of Amazon instant video rentals and streaming on Netflix, I was able to watch more 2012 movies that weren't on that list.  Sleepwalk with Me was an excellent movie adapted from a great book that I read, it is what I wished Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter would have been. I've yet to see Dredd or Total Recall or the Hobbit or Skyfall....but I did enjoy John Carter in theaters for what it was, The Hunger Games as a rental was better than I expected it to be (I didn't expect much), and Lockout on Netflix is totally worth streaming for one action-packed afternoon.  I only saw one of the Snow White films...Mirror Mirror on Netflix...not my cup of tea. And Netflix let me watch quite a few interesting indie films that I knew nothing about like Iron SkyGoon (not to be confused with NBC's sitcom Go On) and God Bless America.  

Comedies are one my favorite genres of films (right behind superhero). This year I saw Dark Shadows, American Reunion, Men in Black 3, and Wanderlust...none of them were spectacular, but all of them made me laugh a time or two. Friends with Kids was horrible based on my expectations of that cast while 21 Jump Street superseded all expectations I had because (1) it was a remake of a cult 80s TV show and (2) it starred Channing Tatum. It is the must see comedy of 2012...but I haven't seen Ted or The Campaign or The Watch or That's My Boy or the Three Stooges or quite a few other comedies out there.

So even though my wonderful daughter caused me to see more cartoons than action movies (which I did see Expendables 2 in theaters but still haven't seen the Bourne Legacy, Red Dawn, or Battleship), I managed to see quite a few things I wanted by using other methods. And believe me, I wouldn't change anything...just look at that adorable girl, how could I resist making her happy?  I couldn't...and I won't. I'll spend every second I have with her as long as she lets me.

2) We cut the cord to cable. Now, we stream everything.
When my wife came up with this ludicrous idea, I denied it by laughing hysterically until I realized she was serious. And then, I got pissed off angry. I tried bargaining with her about maybe just testing out streaming while just keeping "basic" cable service. She said no. Then, I cried as depression set in. She bought us a Roku as I said my tearful good bye to digital cable service and our DVR box.  It happened and I was forced to accept the situation.

Not People's Sexist Man Alive
I thought coping with the loss of cable and DVR service would be much harder, then I realized what we actually have....which isn't that bad at all. Netflix has TV shows like Eureka, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead,  Archer, The LeagueBeing Human, AlphasThe Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Burn Notice, and Psych. Sure each of these shows' seasons are a year behind, but if you're like me and need to catch up on lots of great shows, Netflix works out great (except for avoiding news blurbs on-line and spoilers on podcasts about your favorite shows' newly released episodes). Hulu Plus runs a lot of brand new network programming along with older shows and movies...Hulu Plus even has sneak peeks at new programming. I saw the B in Apt. 23 a few weeks before it aired on network television, and recently we watched 1600 Penn on Hulu Plus before it debuted. And both Netflix and Hulu Plus has a plethora of television shows from past eras as well. Currently, I am watching J.J. Abrams Alias, but in the past I've watched cult classics for the first time like Firefly and Jericho and I've also re-watched cult shows like Arrested Development, Better Off Ted, Reaper, Supernatural, and Terra Nova. Lots of sitcoms on both of these and some MST3K movies are available as well.  Plenty of programming exists on both Hulu Plus and Netflix from every era.

The best part of streaming everything is the bill. Eight dollars for Netflix and another eight for Hulu Plus on top of the bill we were already spending for internet service. Then, we take that saved money and rent movies through Amazon directly to our Roku. Or buy movies like the Avengers and the Amazing Spider-Man and the Muppets so that we can stream them from the cloud to our television or download them to our Kindle or laptop. Then, we have Crackle available for free which shows Sony movies and shows like Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Technology is quite amazing and other than angrily directing the rabbit ears so I can watch the Vikings play, streaming our television programming was a great idea...but don't tell my wife.

Poor kid never had a chance
1) The final life changing moment was the most memorable as well as scary moment of the year.  On Halloween, my son was born. After a day of contractions, my wife went in to the hosipital after midnight to give natural birth with no pain meds...or so she thought. It didn't work out that way and it got a bit scary when she went in for an emergency C-section and I wasn't allowed to be by her side. Everything worked out, and we have a beautiful baby boy.  My daughter was excited to be a big sister...but not until after I took her trick or treating. All in all, it was a great year and the new addition to the family was a nice topper. I am truly blessed...hopefully, 2013 will continue this path of happiness.