These are some of my favorite things from 2013. I'm not presumptuous enough to say that they're the best; just my favorites.
Favorite Movie: I'm in my 10th year of seeing as few movies as possible in the theaters, what with all the annoying phone bitches (and the females with phones as well).
I saw the absolutely awful Identity Thief at the Prescott Valley multiplex when my basketball team was up there for the state tournament. I will forever blame our loss on that sorry-ass movie (even though we saw it after we lost the game). Plus, we had to pay full price, so Jason Bateman's identity wasn't the only thing that got stolen.
Iron Man 3 didn't suck, but Elysium sorta did when compared to director Neill Blomkamp's masterpiece, District 9. And all you self-proclaimed Trekkers who hated on Star Trek Into Darkness need to watch Galaxy Quest to see if you can spot yourself in the crowd scene.
Anyway, I liked 42 and I really, really liked Gravity. I don't think I want to see 12 Years a Slave.
Favorite Song: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke. I've been listening to Robin Thicke for years. His "Compass or Map" on the Love After War CD is a funk classic.
Come to think of it, "Blurred Lines," is wildly catchy but, in the end, all it really does is make me miss Marvin Gaye that much more. Plus, did he really need the "You're the hottest bitch in the place" line? I know he's white, but he doesn't need any more street cred. He's married to Paula Patton, for crying out loud!
Can I change my vote to "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk?
Favorite TV Series Ending: Heading into the summer, TV addicts (such as me) were salivating over the prospect of both Dexter and Breaking Bad coming to an end. Both series were critic favorites, both had built rabid cult followings, and both were careening toward a series ending that would not (or could not) have been nice.
In the end, Dexter fizzled while Bad sizzled. The difference in plotting and execution was stark and, in the case of Dexter, unforgivable.
When we look back at some point in the future, Dexter will have been guilty fun that painted itself into a corner one time too many and, when it came time to leave, painted itself right up to the easy-exit back door.
Breaking Bad will forever be a legend that did absolutely everything right on its way out.
Favorite Book: I really liked One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson. It's sort of history lite, like those books that Stephen Ambrose used to write, but it's so much fun. (Besides, history-wise, I paid my dues by reading all 736 pages of The Passage of Power, the fourth in the biography series on Lyndon Johnson. It's a great book, but it only covers five years of his life. (Author Robert Caro, who is 78, better get to gettin' if he's going to finish this thing.)
Anyway, back to One Summer. It was one of those years where crazy stuff just kept happening. Within a three-month period, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic; Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney fought the famous "long count" heavyweight bout; Sacco and Vanzetti were executed despite pleas for clemency from Albert Einstein, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Dorothy Parker, among many others; and record-level flooding on the Mississippi prompted the start of the Great Migration of blacks from the South to the North. (Before the flooding, 90 percent of all African-Americans lived in the South. After the flood, it dropped to 50 percent.)
Having said all that, my favorite book from this year was The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. They generally don't write books about losers, so there is no big shock here, but the story of how these kids from hardscrabble backgrounds came together at the University of Washington during the Great Depression is incredibly uplifting.
They scraped and starved and took incredibly dangerous cliff-hanging summer jobs during the building of the Grand Coulee Dam to help pay for their schooling. And even after they began to experience success, they had to overcome a defending national champion team from Cal-Berkeley, incredible snobbery from Eastern schools that felt that rowing was "their" sport, and then finally one of the most blatant attempts at cheating in Olympic history.
The race scenes in this book are white-knuckle exciting. It's one of those books that you have to force yourself to slow down while reading so that you don't get to the end too quickly. I loved it.
Favorite New TV Show: Sleepy Hollow. You just have to watch this thing from the beginning; it's magical. The premise is absolutely absurd. Ichabod Crane is awakened after a 200-year slumber (caused by a spell that his witch wife had cast on him to keep him from dying). He's back to fight the Headless Horseman, who has emerged from the darkness to summon forth the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Oh yeah, George Washington has a recurring role.
When Crane looks at a receipt from a Starbucks, he exclaims, "Ten percent tax?! We started a revolution over 2 percent." It's great fun.