Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wrap It Up - 2013 Take Three

[Four  2013 Dollars Well Spent]

There was a new Pope and Obamacare, civil wars in Syria and Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Edward Snowden leaked NSA secrets, and don't forget about the government shutdown with more Ted Cruz than anyone can possibly handle.

When it comes to the biggest news stories of the year, those massive events are only a slight percentage of everything that went down in 2013 - wow, a lot can sure happen in a year.

The world can be a scary and frustrating place, but one constant remains true -  with every heartbreaking event, like the Boston Bombing, there's the escape of three women who were trapped in a Cleveland area basement. We all keep going, and that's what matters.

News stories riveting the country is commonplace every year. I'll never forget watching the dramatic unfolding coverage of finding the Boston bombing suspect hiding in a boat - I was browsing Twitter in one hand with the TV remote in the other, actively glued to both. Oh, modern ways of life.

Wrapping up a year would be incomplete without my obsessing about current events, but it may not be as fun to talk about, so without further ado, here is the finale to Best Of Entertainment: 2013.

The arts just have a way of making you feel better about the world at large.


Bands that go on hiatus or break up wouldn't be expected to release new material. Thankfully for fans of Rilo Kiley, they had been building up a stock of unreleased gems for years and compiled the vault into their 2013 album, Rkives.

Some were re-releases of already famous songs like, "The Frug", although the majority were songs I had never heard. "I Remember You" quickly became another summer anthem, but it's"Let Me Back In" that left the biggest impression. Their nostalgic video for the song, featuring years of tour footage/personal home video, combined with the crooning, tender voice of Jenny Lewis, made me an emotional wreck.

It can make us all feel sentimental for the band not making any more music, but more importantly it awakens mushy feelings we all have for our own lives - past, present, and  future.

"There was nothing, yet there was everything."


Interesting forces were brought together to create the creepiest movies I saw this year - the director of Oldboy decided to make it his English language debut behind the lens, the striking script was penned by that beefy guy from Prison Break, and then there's Nicole Kidman, who, between this part and her role in The Paperboy, is slowly working her way back into being a in more intriguing films.

No surprise is the addition of Mia Wasikoswka, whose versatility could lead to her starring in any kind of movie she wants.

The story finds India (Wasikowska) reeling after the mysterious death of her father. Her mother (Kidman) is also hopeless, so the two wander aimlessly until the arrival of a long lost uncle (Matthew Goode). Family relationships are always tricky, but the Stoker family pushes the barriers of mental stability, with one shocking, eerie twist after the next.


Somewhat of a random insertion, since "Caravan" was originally released in 1970, but his music has been heard in my life for as long as I can remember.

Looking back through Itunes and song play counts for this year, I couldn't ignore that this was one of my most listened to tracks.

The fun beat, blaring horn section, and Morrison's robust vocals are just a magic combination.

Stories We Tell

All of our stories are different yet the same, which is why I bet everyone could connect to Sarah Polley's documentary, Stories We Tell.

It is a refreshing look of how we pass down stories through time, and specifically Polley's family has an interesting one to share.

I love how her entire family is involved in the process, brothers and sisters sitting for interviews, down to her adorable father acting as the narrator. What a wonderful way to capture your life, even if it is focused on a difficult circumstance.

The stories are different, but everyone has there own to tell.

Volume 3

The first track of She & Him's Volume 3 kicks off wonderfully, creating a vibe
tributing The Beach Boys.

With a May 7th release date, the album was both a birthday gift to myself (my b-day being the next day), and anyone looking for the perfect soundtrack for a sunny day.

If it isn't obvious already, I'm always looking for that, and all my favorite for this year definitely fit the bill for fun tunes.

Lowe and Behold

It's funny to discover a person's most famous work last. I always adored David Ducovney, but only in the last couple years got to know him as Mulder, the same was true for Allison Janney, and her other West Wing compatriot Rob Lowe.

Between rocking out on the sax in St. Elmo's Fire to literally playing a part in livening up Parks and Recreation, it would be impossible not to find Lowe talented and equally dreamy.

He's also a published author! After hearing numerous recommendations for months from friends, his autobiography became one of the most entertaining books I read all year. My only mistake was reading it before I finished the second season of The West Wing - he may in fact reveal some devastating plot points, so beware!

Lowe is the Forrest Gump of the acting world -  he was somehow connected to everyone important in Hollywood for the last thirty years. His immense catalogue of stories found him dating Cary Grant's daughter, being on the set of Star Wars, knocking on the hotel room of Liza Minelli asking for acting advice as a young boy, and spending a day on the town with Andy Warhol. That's just getting started.

Fans of pop culture will be in awe.

(P.S. How could I forget Behind The Candelabra? Simply magnificent.)

The Civil Wars

Little press was done by Joy Williams and John Paul White for their new record as the two have said they are taking a hiatus. That didn't stop their latest self titled album from topping the charts.

Are The Civil Wars the only group in history to have a number one album while not being on speaking terms? This is a question that has been buzzing through my mind since its release in August.

No matter the drama, because in the end the two produced another harmonious album. Let's hope there is more to come.

"Not Great, Bob!"

Who is Bob Benson? That is the intriguing question brought to mind every time he popped onto the screen of Mad Men's latest season.

Never without a smile and always ready to pass out a friendly a cup of coffee, we watched as he seemingly weaseled his way into, the now titled, Sterling Cooper & Partners. Rumors spiraled that he was everything from a serial killer to a mirror of Don Draper. Most enjoyable was his way of being a foil to Pete, making him more grumpy than normal, and simply irritating everyone in the office.

Bob's presence left everyone on edge, leading to the creation of some of the best scenes in the show's entire run.

Hello Zombies

The recent mid-season conclusion of The Walking Dead had some shocking deaths - one I'm still rather upset about - leading to a highly anticipated return of the show on February 9th.

Epic scenes of holding off mass groups of zombies and some sort of virus making its way through our friends in the prison made for a highly stressfull, action packed season so far, and I can't even predict what will happen next.

Goodbye Mr. White

Thankfully The Walking Dead and Mad Men are still on, because I don't know what I would do if they were gone just like Breaking Bad.

That excellent show with a perfect ending was a high/low point of the year that I couldn't help but send off with my own farewell.

Dog Lady

That dog walker really stole the stage from Carol Burnett.

In November, Burnett was awarded with the Mark Twain Prize For Humor, and boy was I grateful for PBS televising this event when I flipped it in time to catch this hysterical bit brought to you by Amy Poehler.

Just a random bit of enjoyment, which is my favorite kind.

Ellie Goulding

Recanting my negative opinions of Lana Del Ray happened around the time I had to do the same for Ellie Goulding.

At first I took Goulding to be just another throwaway singer from Europe, but "In My City" and the rest of her album Halcyon was what changed my mind.  Actual heartfelt lyrics and a dancey beat puts her in the same league as the extraordinary Robyn. Both are talented singer-songwriters disguised as "dance hall queens."

I drove more times than I can count in between my hometown and Seattle this year. It's a drive that has become monotonous, but with Goulding blasting in the car, time just passes by as I bop down I-5.

Well, that's that! We are ticking down the final hours of 2013 in my neck of the woods, and looking back on all these gems reminded me that '13 was indeed a merry time.

Wishing everyone a wonderful new year! What will 2014 bring? It's yours to find out.

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