Was 2013 a great year? I don’t know. I don’t even know if 2012 was a great year, a not-so great year or a completely and totally far from great year.
All I know is that 2013 was a year. Plain and simple.
Delving into a bit more, here’s my ten favorite things that happened this year.
10. The fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination leads to a slew of interesting documentaries
A month ago, I had, at best, a working knowledge when it came to the JFK assassination. I knew about Oswald, the Book Depository and that something took place on the Grassy Knoll. That was about it. I didn’t know about the magic bullet, the chaos that followed the assassination and anything about Oswald’s background. Well that all changed when I started watching the documentaries. CNN did a great one, but the History Channel had one or two good films as well. My favorite conspiracy involved The Umbrella Man. I even watched the Zapruder film on YouTube. Intense. In the end though, I think it was Oswald. He acted alone. Done. Case closed.
9. Jon Oliver hosts The Daily Show during the summer
Jon Stewart was somewhere in the Middle East shooting a movie so Oliver took over. And he nailed it. Like right on the nose, and even though nails don’t have noses, the point should be clear. His lunacy and disbelief fit the tone of this summer absolutely perfectly- a summer that featured Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger, talk of a Government Shutdown, Obamacare and a royal baby. It’s not fair to say Oliver was better than Stewart. I think it’s more fitting to say that he Colbert’d it. I’ll never say Stephen Colbert is better than Jon Stewart- just different and as good as Stewart. The same could be said for Oliver. I’ll be interested to see how Oliver does with a show of his own.
8. Tierra, her eyebrows and her sparkle dominates The Bachelor
I’m a married man. Having been married for over a year now, I can definitely say that a big difference between single life and married life is watching television. Compromise is involved- you give a little, you take a little. Initially, watching The Bachelor was me taking a little. Then Tierra, one of the ladies on the show, took over. And yeah man, she took over. Week after week she had a melt down or an injury or another meltdown. It was amazing, thrilling to watch and baffling because Sean, the nimrod bachelor, fell for her shit every single time. Not occasionally and not just once or twice. No man, EVERY SINGLE TIME. Tierra could not be stopped. Just like hurricanes, taxes and student loans. She was a force of nature complete with rogue eyebrows and a sparkle that could not be taken away. Eventually her shenanigans ran out of juice and she was sent home. It was a sad day; a very sad day. Tierra was gone, but those memories, those sweet, beautiful memories will last forever.
7. A$AP Rocky and Skrillex get wild for the night
I don’t live under a rock. I knew who Skrillex was. He made weird, scary songs and looked like he tortured kittens. I also kind of knew who A$AP Rocky was. But prior to hearing “Wild for the Night,” I hadn’t really heard either one before. Anything prior to “Wild for the Night” no longer mattered. Nothing mattered when that song was playing…and it was playing loud because anything less than loud was a disservice to the song. It was an easy choice for Best Hey Oh! Songs of the Year.
6. The end of the world is hilarious
And by the end of the world, I mean the depiction of the end of the world in This Is the End, easily the funniest movie of the year- something I can say with complete confidence despite the release of Anchorman 2 tomorrow. What was the best part? It’s so hard to say. Danny McBride leading a band of cannibals? Maybe. Emma Watson going HAM on the dudes? Possibly. Jonah Hill being possessed by a demon? Could be. Good comedies have become such a rarity. It was refreshing to see a comedy that I was excited for and not have it be disappointing (you know, like Ted or The Campaign.)
5. Pearl Jam reminds us that rock ‘n roll still exists
Lightning Bolt is Pearl Jam’s tenth studio album. Tenth. The rock behemoths from the great Northwest have been at it for over twenty years now. So impressive. And they still rock. Just totally effin’ rock. Lightning Bolt is an album that just keeps getting better and better with each listen. Am I sick of “Sirens?” Yeah maybe, a little. But that doesn’t make it any less of a great song. It’s a beautiful song, man. Haunting. And not in a scary ghost way. In the other kind of way. That kind of haunting. Like, oooohh, makes me think about stuff. It’s reflective. My favorite song is still “Let the Records Play,” but “Getaway” is making a serious run.
4. Netflix up in this ish, yo
Prior to February, Netflix was your one stop shop for all of your TV binge-watching needs. And if you wanted something more, they had a delightfully random movie selection that perusing through would allow you to kill hours and hours on end. Granted you wouldn’t find anything, but that’s besides the point. It is the opinion of this blog that Netflix has made two baller moves in the past few years. The first was ditching the whole DVDs through the mail thing, although everyone’s TV stand was noticeably sad and lonely without copies of Collateral or Kicking and Screaming lying around in unopened red envelops. The second baller move Netflix made was releasing their own shows, starting with House of Cards at the beginning of last February. They followed that up with Orange is the New Black and a totally unnecessary, but thanks anyway, fourth season of Arrested Development. Netflix also released Derek, a Ricky Gervais’ joint and Aziz Anisari’s brilliant new stand up special, Buried Alive. It’s like if a liquor store said screw it and started making and selling their own liquor. Kudos Netflix. You took the bull by the horns. Now please, get some effin’ movies that a normal human being would want to watch! Thanks.
3. Ron Burgandy is back and it’s glorious
Will Ferrell, dressed to the nines as Ron Burgandy, appeared on Conan in March of 2012, announcing that there would be an Anchorman 2. There was much celebration. Like, a lot of celebration. Then halfway through the summer, it was all happening- Ron Burgandy was everywhere. Late night TV, shucking Dodges, talking curling in Canada, hosting an actual local news broadcast in North Dakota, interviewing Peyton Manning on ESPN and anywhere else it seemed where there was a camera and a microphone. Perhaps Ferrell’s best spot though, wasn’t even as Burgandy, but as himself, when he appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF. You could easily make the argument that they took it too far and Burgandy over-stayed his welcome, but I don’t care. Every time I saw that luxurious mustache I was reminded of the amazing fact that there would be another Anchorman. I was good with it. All of it.
2. Walter White goes out with a bang…several bangs actually
My darling wife and I plowed through Breaking Bad during September with the reckless fury of Saul Goodman in an emergency room full of banged up patients lacking proper representation. We didn’t even break a sweat. It all happened so fast, and before we knew it, we were watching the finale, only a week or so after nearly everyone else in America did. I can’t knock the finale. Not at all. It was great and a perfectly succinct and neatly wrapped up finale for a show that was meticulously zany from the very first scene of the very first episode. The other night we were watching Home Alone on AMC and every time an image from Breaking Bad showed up in an AMC commercial, I felt the stinging pangs of loss. I miss Breaking Bad. I really do. When it ended I needed it to end because my heart simply could not take anymore, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to watch more episodes. Did I need more episodes? No. I loved how it ended and felt like the story had been told perfectly. But did I want more episodes? Heck yeah, man! I’ll never look at science teachers the same way again. Although maybe I should start casting a watchful eye on more than science teachers- like vice principals. Either way, love me some Breaking Bad. I think it’s the last great, transcendent television show we’ll see in awhile.
1. The Red Sox win the World Series! The Red Sox win the World Series! The Red Sox win the World Series!
Hell yeah they did and it was flippin’ super, delightful, the bees knees and so much more. It was just beautiful. I loved the 2013 Red Sox. I loved how they played the game of baseball, loved how they brought a city and franchise back to life and I loved how they toughed it through the playoffs and the rocky road of Tampa Bay and Detroit’s starting pitching and a tough as nail Cardinals’ team. After they won, I thought about it. It couldn’t beat 2004, when the Sox won for the first time in 86 years. No way. But it could top 2007. The reason was that success this year was so unexpected. No one saw it coming. The Blue Jays had made the flashy moves, the Yankees were still the Yankees and the Rays & Orioles were the young upstarts. And that was just the American League East, not even counting the Angels, the Tigers or the Rangers. A lot of baseball scribes finished the BoSox to come in last or in a best case scenario, squeak into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. But instead they won their division, had one of the best records in baseball and won their third…yeah that’s right, third, championship in ten years. We’re so lucky. My grandfather died in the late nineties having never really seen one Sox’ championship and now I had seen three. I fell in love with baseball again, fell in love with the Red Sox again. The playoffs brought back so many familiar emotions- some positive, some negative. Yet it was all fun. I loved every minute of it.
Other Notable Favorite Things…
Jennifer Lawrence owning the world
Game of Thrones becoming the most reliable show on television
Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe’s coverage of the Whitey Bulger trial in Boston
Aziz Anasari wins Twitter during the Super Bowl with #FNLSuperBowl
Dave Chappelle returns to the stage at the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy Fest
Photos: Red Sox Photo by Robb Carr/Getty Images