Archive | December, 2014

Instead of Happy New Year, I’m Celebrating Happy This Year

31 Dec
Photo credit: nImAdestiny/Flickr/Creative Commons

Photo credit: nImAdestiny/Flickr/Creative Commons

I really didn’t want to write this blog post.

No, not for the same reasons that have prevented me from writing more often this year. I just didn’t want to admit — to myself, or to anyone else — that 2014 was over.

A year ago, things for me were looking (and feeling) good, and I was on the verge of some much anticipated professional stability. If things went as predicted, I was finally going to be able to reprioritize and shift from job searching to living my life again, and let things get back to normal. And then it happened: In January, my contract gig became a full-time job, and after about a year and a half of being unemployed and putting my life on hold, I was ready — determined — to make up for lost time.

And holy crap, did I. Continue reading

The Best Movies of 2014 Were Quite the Present

29 Dec
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight

The thing about movie trailers — great as they are — is that they get us focused on movies still to come, when what’s currently playing at the multiplex (maybe even on the screen right in front of you) is worthy of attention too. It’s kind of an ironic shame if you like this sort of thing.

That’s especially true now because in 2014, there was plenty to see. There was, for example, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill satirizing ridiculous sequels in 22 Jump Street. Chadwick Boseman bringing James Brown back to life in Get On Up. Matt Damon making a surprise cameo appearance in Interstellar. Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen grappling over who feels more “Agony” in Into the Woods. Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader lip-syncing to Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” in The Skeleton Twins. And of course, Groot getting down to the Jackson 5 in Guardians of the Galaxy.

And then there were the movies themselves. If trailers are about future movies, the movies this year served as quite the present. (Sorry.)

So, before we turn to 2015, a year in which we’ll see Jurassic World, a new Star Wars, and even a dramatic version of the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire (a.k.a. Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk), among other things, allow me to look back on the films that made going to the movies so much fun this year.

Of the more than 60 movies I saw in 2014, these were my favorites. Continue reading

These Songs Are in My Musical Time Capsule for 2014

17 Dec

2014 Time Capsule PlaylistEvery year, folks like DJ Earworm and Daniel Kim create mashups of the year’s most popular pop songs. The top 40 songs of 2014 include ones by Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea, so it’d be easy to be dismissive and say there wasn’t much good music to listen to.

And yet, DJ Earworm and Daniel Kim’s 2014 mashups are still pretty awesome. Which proves, in one way or another, that when you listen to the right song in the right context, it can sound better than you remember.

Also, that we all have our own soundtrack, and like to listen to music in different ways. What sounds good to one person doesn’t to another. We all march to our own beat. Etc.

Plenty of music writers have already ranked what they think is the best/worst music of the year, and I have no intention of creating that kind of list. That said, as I look back on the past year, I’m finding that there was plenty of music I want to remember. Admittedly, not all of it was good (by my standards, anyway). But months or years from now, when I’m trying to put my head back in the place it was this year, playing these tracks will do the trick.

You won’t find any U2 here (free or not, I just didn’t dig their new album), but you will find multiple songs by folks like Bruce Springsteen, Jamie Cullum, and Pharrell Williams. You may even find a song from a Broadway show and a jazz instrumental track. (And two Megan Trainor songs, too; no judging.) That’s what I listened to this year. That was my soundtrack.

For your listening pleasure, here’s my musical time capsule for 2014, with some commentary on some of the tracks. Songs are listed (on the playlist and in this blog post) in no order other than a roughly chronological one. Enjoy! Continue reading