Earlier in the year when I took Entertainment Weekly's lead and filled out my own "Must List," I did so using personal interests of the moment. Now, however, I am looking back over the year and filling out the same questions with answers that apply for 2009 as a whole. In other words, this "must" list is really just another "best of!"
I don't go for big summer blockbusters, and in all honesty, I haven't gone to the movies much at all this year. Ever since I started working at The Corporation (in VOD distribution), I chose to instead watch most of my movies on a much smaller screen, correctly assuming that most of them were not worth the ten to twelve dollars theaters were asking for entrance to a screening during peak hours. (500) Days of Summer was one of the exceptions, though. A relationship drama told in fragments and from the male point of view, (500) Days of Summer is perfect for those who want to stay grounded in reality. Nothing blows up; there is no threat that the world will end; it is not set on some distant planet; it does not even feature your typical chick lit ending. It is simply a look at life during a very specific point, and it feels like it could have been lifted from almost anyone of our own lives. For that, it is more than worth the price of admission!
Must TV Show
I know what you're all expecting me to say, and I'm not going to do it! The best new TV show to come out of 2009 was not a musical, nor even an ESP drama. It was simply one about an everyday family and their wacky escapades trying to relate to each other. Modern Family features comedic geniuses like Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, and my new faves Eric Stonestreet and Rico Rodriguez!! It's ridiculously hard to pick a favorite moment-- or even a favorite episode-- as every one is better than the last, from Burrell's dorky dad character stealing another kid's bike to teach his own a lesson to little Manny drinking espresso and playing the pan flute.
Recently I asked my Facebook friends to submit to me names of bands (or, if they were feeling extra generous, full on mixtapes) who are good to which to write. I find myself procrastinating more by flicking through iTunes, trying to find a good backdrop soundtrack than anything else! But really, I didn't have to look too far, as one of my Facebook friends is Rob Benedict, actor and lead singer of Louden Swain. Though the band has been around for years, I was first introduced to Louden Swain this year through their CD release party for their newest album, A Brand New Hurt (though they have others available online). They have a fun and upbeat sound with simple lyrics that become catchy after just the second listen.
I'm going to have to call a tie on this one. Everyone knows how much I love Stephen King (he was my first-- and only to date-- May-December romance), so of course I have to select "Under The Dome" as the Must Read for 2009. It was released at the end of the year, but the story (of a small town that gets trapped within some kind of forcefield) is so rich and enthralling it flies by (all thousand-plus pages of it). There really is no wonder that someone has already jumped on the rights to turn it into a miniseries!
However, Kathy Griffin's "Official Book Club Selection" is also just as rich, albeit with a very different subject matter. A memoir "according to her," this is much more than your typical celebrity autobiography that puts a positive spin on everything. True to her comedy stylings, Griffin dishes on her family, her childhood, and her celebrity frenemies, and she doesn't hold back in what she really thinks. Reading this is like spending an evening with a really funny friend.
I don't own any videogame consoles unless you count my Mac, which actually does have capacity to run a version of Guitar Hero. I was always terrible at videogames as a child, beating only one-- the Aladdin game for Sega Game Gear in the mid-nineties (man, I just loved to fly away from that lava cave on my magic carpet!). However, these days everyone is all about the Wii because it actually does the exact opposite of what my parents always complained videogames were all about: it gets you up and moving! More of my friends Tweeted this Christmas about receiving Super Mario Brothers for the Wii than any other present, too. So though I haven't played it personally yet, I will take their word for it and recommend that one. And I will let you know tomorrow, after I come from my first session with the Wii at a friend's house, if I change my mind.
Again, I'm going to have to go with this one :) I may have gotten a little off-track this year, focusing more on celebrity interviews and television news than originally intended when I started the site back in 2007, but I believe all of those things only enrich the experience and prove my legitimacy as an authority on the subjects about which I write, as well as a pop culture junkie in general.
I know it's not technically a "gadget" since there is no real technology involved (well, not yet; let's give it a year and see if they add a heating component or mini microwave oven pocket or something!), but the "Sleeved Blanket" aka the Snuggie or Slanket has really blown up this year. I still don't quite get it because you can find a cheaper robe and just wear it backwards...but now that these companies offer more personalized options, like Hello Kitty or your favorite sports' teams, they became the go-to gift for the holiday season.
Must Scapegoat for the Moral Decline of Society
Jon Gosselin. I vowed never to breathe his name on this site because I didn't want to be just another so-called journalist who reported so-called news about his crazy publicity stunts and therefore fed him the fame he so obviously is after. However, I find I must speak out in his defense about this one very important thing. He did not make Ed Hardy shirts douchey; they were already ridiculous before he was snapped wearing them everywhere. He did not give dead-beat dads with way too many kids a bad name; Kevin Federline and the dudes on Maury Povich and Jerry Springer's shows had been doing that for years. He did not cause (and it is arguable if he even really added to) the moral decline of our society; we were already lying on the bottom of that hill, in the gutter, before he came along!