Wednesday, December 12, 2018

2018 End of Year Media Power Rankings

Well, It’s December. Another year has just about gone. Nuts right? We're all just marching towards death. Towards the end of every year, you're gonna come across a lot of year-end lists. The music and books and whatnot that were the best of the year. Well, I’m not immune to that either. I took in some media this year and I have opinions. I don’t often take in a lot of new stuff. A lot of these came out a number of years ago, but it’s still what I listened to or watched or read and enjoyed the most throughout 2018. So without further ado, here's my sixth annual End of Year Media Power Rankings. 

(note: the font is smaller for the TV section. I don't know how to fix it. Oh well.)


5. Cat Stevens - Tea For The Tillerman
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Cat Stevens is a dude, I’ve, of course, heard before. He’s been around a while. He's got some hits. Don’t know why I’m just getting into him now. Especially since he’s one of my dad’s favorites and this album was probably played a thousand times growing up. Now it's one of my favorites. The torch has been passed. 

Standout track: Father and Son. Which is more devastating than Cats in the Cradle if you had a good relationship with your dad growing up. 

4. Royce da 5'9" - Book of Ryan
Book of Ryan.jpeg

I know it's sacrilegious for a dude from Detroit, but I don't really care for Eminem. There's a couple of his songs I think are fine, but he was never really for me. Unless he's featuring on someone else's stuff for some reason. Jay-Z's Renegade and Caterpillar from this album are two of my absolute favorite songs. I'm putting this one on here even though it's the only song I've listened to from it. The rest of the album might be great. There's no way to tell. But I've listened to this song enough times for it to qualify. 

Standout track: Caterpillar

3. The Kinks - Greatest Hits
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The Kinks are one of those bands that just scream cool. I put a few of their songs on a running playlist and wanted to dive into some other songs. Honestly, I hate going through an artist's whole catalog. Even the very best of the best bands put out a lot of horse shit that I don't really want to wade through it all to find the gems. That's why I like greatest hits albums. Deep cuts usually aren't worth the work. Give me them hits, baby!

Standout song: Victoria. Plus I love how it was used in an episode of How I Met Your Mother

2. Adele - 25
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I'm sure you've heard a lot of the tracks on this, but have you really listened to them? This wasn't my favorite Adele album initially, but I think I might prefer this one to 21 now. Adele gets shit on for writing about heartbreak too much but fuck you, she's really good at it. Why shouldn't she? If you don't like it then just mind your own business and let me get misty while I listen to this late at night on the train. 

Standout track: All I Ask. It's devastating and great. And if you don't love it you're dead inside. 

1. Ezra Furman - Tranangelic Exodus
Image result for ezra furman transangelic exodus

Ezra Furman was someone I just recently became familiar with. Again, I don’t usually get into a lot of current music. One of their songs came up in a Spotify Discover playlist and I went apeshit for it. I think the first song was We Should Fight which is a great song. I clicked on his page and am now an Ezra Furman superfan. Ezra's just the best. Not only is this one of my favorite albums of the year it’s just one of my favorites. It’s fun and earnest and funny and serious and sentimental. There's are also songs that you can and should also rock out to it. If you’re not listening to Ezra, then you’re a goddamn fool. Also, I’ve seen them twice and the live shows are bananas. Do yourself a favor and become an Ezra superfan too. You'll thank me after you do. 

Standout track: I Love You So Bad. It's one of those songs where when it pops up I just end up listening to it on repeat for a while. 


5. Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor or Zone One. It's a Tie. 
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I read a few of Colson Whitehead's this year. Last year I read The Underground Railroad and it blew me away. I couldn’t put it down even when I really really wanted to. It's compelling and brutal. I’m a fan of Zombie stuff so I read Zone One. I wasn’t really feeling it at first. I liked it, but it wasn’t grabbing me the same way I thought it might. It was very good and I liked it enough where I was looking forward to reading more Whitehead after but it just wasn't grabbing me. Then I got closer to the end and at some point, something clicked and I loved it. I also thoroughly enjoyed Sag Harbor, which I read and also loved. But in a different way. I enjoyed the whole process of reading Sag Harbor more, but the end of Zone One just punched me in the gut. So it's a tie for this prestigious honor. Also, The Intuitionist is good too. Will probably read a couple more of his next year. 

4. Devil All The Time - Donald Ray Pollack
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My buddy, Nick told me to read this book. When I first started it, I liked it but thought it was a little too Cormac McCarthy-ey for my taste. But then I remembered that I really like Cormac McCarthy. So I kept on going. It can be fucking brutal at times and a lot of just awful things happen to just about everyone. But it’s also very good and keeps you reading. Just budget some time for being kinda bummed about humanity for a bit after. You'll need it. 

3. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara
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I’m not usually a true crime guy but this book was pretty hard to ignore. The fact that McNamara died shortly before publication coupled with the fact that the subject of the book, the Golden State Killer, was caught shortly after made the book pretty unignorable. It was talked about a lot and I was intrigued. I liked it. I still don't think I'm a true crime guy because I liked the parts about how she got into true crime more than the actual true crime details themselves. But it's a compelling read. Also, I read it on a quiet tree-lined street in the suburbs and was scared shitless more times than I can count. I particularly enjoyed how she both doesn’t flinch away from or dwell on the graphic details. I'm not a huge gore fan. I got queasy reading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. 

2. The Barracks Thief - Tobias Wolff
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I had read all of Tobias Wolff’s books a long time ago. I love them. He’s probably my favorite author of all time. I try to reread one every year. I’ve read most of them a couple times. I can’t remember if this was my second or third time through The Barracks Thief. Which is a short novel (or novella if your an asshole). It’s still good. I don’t know if I’d recommend it if it’s going to be your first one by him. I’d probably go with The Night In Question, which is a short story collection that has several of my absolute favorites. But this is still good and captures his style well. I’m not smart when it comes to books (or anything really), but I’ve always loved how he’s able to give such nuance to his protagonists. I like to describe them as being people who are just realizing that maybe they’re not always the hero of their own story. This is an interesting one because the story of a theft at an army barracks plays out and then the perspective switches and you get to see the story unfold through the antagonist's eyes. Read this. Read anything by Wolff. 

1. Susan Jane Gilman - Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven
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This is the second book by Susan Gilman I’ve read. I liked the first. It was a book of essays called Hypocrite in the Poofy White Dress and I'd recommend that too. This is different. It's not a book of essays. It’s a travel memoir about going to China with her college friend shortly after westerners started being allowed in and it blew me away. Just as soon as I started reading it I was pulled in and couldn't put it down. It's funny and at times you cringe at Susan and her travel companion as their trip starts to turn to shit. It goes to places you don't expect and it's utterly engrossing. I can't recommend it enough. I also can't wait to read her novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. I will probably read that soon. I hope I enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed this one. 

Dishonorable Mention

The Coffee Trader - David Liss. 

I didn’t really hate this book like I did like last year’s dishonorable mention, The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay, but I don’t really think I liked it either. It seems engaging and there are some amazing quotes in the first couple of chapters. And that keeps you going. But by the end, I didn’t really like the protagonist and felt shitty having spent all that time with him. 

Movies (films if you're a nerd).

5. Hardcore Henry
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Listen, I know this isn’t a good movie. But goddamnit it's a great movie. It's built around a first-person perspective gimmick and it’s silly and it wears a tad thin. But also, it's super fun and insanely graphically violent. You follow the exploits of a guy named Henry. Or not it doesn’t really matter what his name is because there's just a bunch of mayhem and he never says a word. There’s an extended fight sequence over the Queen song Don't Stop Me Now and it’s great and I laughed out loud multiple times and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. It’s the best kind of trash. The bonkers kind that's awesome. It's very worth your time. 

4. Black Panther
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This was easily one of my favorite Marvel movies. I haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War. I’ve heard good things. I look forward to checking it out when it comes to Netflix on Christmas. Maybe I'll watch it on Christmas morn. I wanted to put Thor: Ragnarok on here too. I liked them both. I think I liked this one a little more. But I'm mostly putting Black Panther on here and not Thor because of all the hype around this. Everyone on earth told me how great this movie was and I didn't think there was any way it would come close to living up. It did. I'm a little sick of two people with similar powers CGI duking it out for twenty minutes at the end, but whatever. That's the nature of the beast. 

3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The world
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This was one that new to me. I know that it came out a long time ago. I wanted to see it then. I never got around to it. There was a shit load of Michael Cera movies out there. I just got around to seeing this and another golden age of Cera movies. I liked this one a lot. It's so visually cool fun to watch.

2. Swordfish. 
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Fuck you. It’s great. 

1. Children of Men. 
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Hey. This movie is something. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t know what to tell you. Get on it. It's the Ezra Furman of movies. I think this is the only movie I’ve ever seen by Alfonso Cuarón. I guess he did Gravity too. Which I haven’t seen, but I’ve heard good things about. It may or may not have won an Oscar. I don’t know. I don’t pay attention to that stuff really and don't feel like opening a new tab to look it up. The only awards I pay attention to are these, The End of Year Power Rankings. He also did a Harry Potter movie. I haven't seen any of those, but now I kinda want to watch that one. Do I need to see all the ones before I do the third? Anyhow, I saw Children of Men when it first came to my local Blockbuster a while back. And it blew me away. I’m not a film nerd. I like movies and all, but I usually don't pick up on the film nerd stuff. But there's a crazy scene where everything is going to shit all around and it's all captured in a single take and it's just fucking bananas that it was able to be pulled off. The movie is about a near future where the whole world has gone infertile. No babies the past 20 years and the world isn't taking it well. 

Dishonorable Mentions

Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist. 

I really wanted to see this when it came out. So naturally, I waited this long to get around to it. Some people think that Michael Cera’s schtick runs a little thin, but I've always liked him. Not to mention that I find Kat Dennings quite easy on the eyes. I live in New York. I like seeing New York in movies. It’s fun to see places you recognize in movies. All that being said, I did not care for this movie whatsoever. It's boring and dumb and I didn't like it. Fuck you, movie. But Kat Dennings is still quite fetching.  


5. Big Mouth.
Big Mouth (2017)

This show is just great. In terms of best first two seasons of a show, I put this up there with Arrested Development and The Good Place. It’s ridiculously honest. I've never seen a portrayal of what it feels like to be going through puberty as this. Also, I still feel like this most of the time. So I think I'm still going through puberty.  

4. American Horror Story. 
Image result for american horror story season one

I don’t know what I was expecting from this show. Maybe it was all the ads that featured the due in the gimp suit, but I was expecting an overly silly, borderline ridiculous show. It's not. I mean, it certainly can be silly sometimes. But really it's pretty spooky and fun. The world building in what I've seen is just amazing. You just get pulled in and become immersed in whatever the setting is. Also, I don't watch a lot of network TV. But did you know that you can just show people having sex on basic cable? I'm no Tipper Gore, but yikes. Still a great show. Especially if you like butts. There's a lot of butts. 

3. The Good Place. 
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I already mentioned that The Good Place ranks as one of the best seasons one and two of all time. Season one was on my power rankings last year. I absolutely adored it. It had such a great and amazing ending that I honestly didn’t think there’d be any way that season 2 could do it justice. Well, it did. It might even be better than season 1. I can't wait for season 3 to come to Netflix. 

2. Bojack Horseman. 
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I don’t ever expect to laugh and tear up in equal measure, but with this show, it’s hard not to. It's weird that the most brutally honest show is one about a cartoon horse. But it is. I've been watching since the beginning and I liked the first couple seasons. But something about the last few seasons is just insane. I'm really invested in this horse and I can't wait to laugh and cry with him more next year. 

1. Better Call Saul.
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Another repeat from last year. It’s very good. I haven’t tried rewatching any of these, but I think that this will hold up more than Breaking Bad in terms of repeated viewings. Breaking Bad was an amazing show that I really got into. I loved watching and got really wrapped up in it. I tried rewatching it and when you know what becomes of Walt you start to realize that he’s actually a huge SOB. I don’t want him to win. I want him to stop breaking so much bad and start breaking good. Jimmy is different. Even though he's also in the process of breaking bad, his journey seems so much sadder and heartbreaking. He makes a lot of bad decisions, but you can see why every time. 

Honorable Mention

How I Met Your Mother. 

My dad says this show doesn't hold up. He's a fool. It's great. 

Alright, that's all the stuff. Now you know the exact ways that I wasted time and avoided doing real shit this year. I hope you enjoyed reading about it anywhere near as much as I enjoyed taking them all in. 


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