Friday, January 9, 2015

Twenty Fourteen: The Moments

[August: California road trip - The Redwoods.]

I know, I know. It's January 9th, at this very minute folks are trampling each other to jump on the last elliptical at the over packed gyms and crowding the vegetable aisle instead of the one lined with chips. It's the new year and everyone is centered on sticking to those resolutions. Or not, since not everyone sets those goals, but either way the general sense is that we've all waved goodbye to 2014 and moved on with our lives.

Not me. I'm still stuck in the past. See, because I wasn't given a fair shake at saying goodbye yet.

Much of that has to do with having surgery the final week of the year. Those last couple days of 2014 feel foggy, dreamlike even. All that came into focus were figures moving around my snoring body on the couch, fetching me things like water, soup, and the occasional ginger ale. For a couple days I came into perky consciousness only for an episode of The Great British Bake Off, watching Maleficent, or a quick round of Mario Kart. Somehow being hopped up on pain medication only improved my driving of Yoshi in his little race car around the track.

Unable to bare not being involved somehow in a festivity, I gathered all my strength to roll off the couch for one night only. When the hour struck midnight on New Years Eve and fireworks exploded over the Space Needle on TV, my kind caretakers (dad and brother, respectively) indulged my spirit and joined me in donning party hats and banging pots on the front porch. Neighbors chimed in and some, thankfully disobeying the new local rules, shot off fireworks, colorfully lighting up the sky.

Off in the distance the tiny glow of a few paper lanterns could also be seen slowly making their way up, up, and increasingly farther away. At this same time last year, midnight striking 2014, my entire family had lit one of those off too, celebrating the year to come. What we didn't know is what a difficult year it was going to be.

I find it troubling saying goodbye to a year where all the final moments with my mom happened.  And so, I continue to cling. But I will forever.

Holding on to memories is great, sentimentality is after-all my strongest virtue. However, that doesn't mean I won't move on somehow. The bright new shining 2015 will be welcomed once 2014 is given its proper due. That can finally be done now that the pain medication is no longer clouding my brain.

What will now unfold is just some enjoyable treasured moments - in pop culture and real life - that happened over the last year. 2014, I honor you!

Last Moments

Two girls with their back to a camera dancing down the street, joking and cracking up about the wacky guy from those infamous Six Flags commercials.  That is the final scene from the wonderfully crass and hilarious first season of Broad City. In a few minutes, that single scene completely wraps up what makes this show priceless. It's just such a silly and perfect little moment between friends.

Most of the season follows two incredibly close friends, twenty-somethings Abbi and Ilana, as they comedically traverse life in NYC. They do their fair share of drugs, perform random street performances for extra dough, and suffer through weird roommates, but it's all told through the wacky vein of two talented comedians. There is fun hyjnx galore that might seem a little too over the top and yet,  as seen at the end of the season, it's just a show about two female friends who love to have fun.

Oh also, very important, every episode has insane celebrity cameos - Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Janeane Garofalo, just to name a few.

[Summer: Teen Witch under the stars]

Passing On Tunes

My childhood home was filled with music constantly. It is true then that a branch of my music taste was influenced heavily by my parents. They played and sang Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Elton John, plus endless other musicians all of the time.

What a grand game to turn the tables later in life. With not as much time or interest anymore to explore and expand his musical intake, my dad has come to like that I act as his personal musical DJ. Through my suggestion over the years, my fifty-something pop has grasped onto many artists including, Regina Spektor, Beach House, First Aid Kit, and Feist, but nothing has made me more happy than a development late this year.

I played The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers, over a road trip and my dad was hooked. He proudly trumpeted around that, "kids should be listening to this instead of all their crap." I agreed, but questioned when he declared he was going to tell his students about this wondrous band. It has only been brought to my attention recently that some people have issues with the band's name. Really, I just never thought about it. Now though, I worry what parents may think of my dad slinging suggestions to kids involving words like "pornograpy"...

Harmless of course, but we'll just leave passing down the greatness of The New Pornographers to those cool parents of today and leave me dad out of it.

[June: Bachelorette party in Vegas seeking ice cream at 4:00 am. No luck - they clean their machines at that time! How rude.]

Creative Convergence

Two of the best shows ever made (yeah, I said it) came together for an NBC web video in February.

Lance and Crucifictorious of Friday Night Lights met Amber and The Luncheonette of Parenthood. In the venn diagram of pop culture, the crazed cult like fans of these shows definitely overlap, so it is a sure thing that minds were blown by this genius, tremendously fun crossover.

Months later I am still thinking about that final shot of "Texas Forever" on the doors of the studio. Heart palpitations, swooning is commencing. So much love.

FNL has already passed on, but Parenthood fans know that show is also set to end this month. There will be a record set for the most ugly cries in a single night when the finale airs on January 29th.

[September: First time at the races.]

Checking Off

Live music aficionado's know the sense of accomplishment that is felt by checking off a performer from a "Must See" list.

For many years watching Robyn music videos and other performances, her lively non-stop dancing was infectious, instantly igniting a sense of enjoyment for all. I had to see this in person.

All of the stars finally aligned during the summer, where expectations were met and some. Robyn was jumping, spinning, somersaulting at a constant rate and her radiant voice still sounded perfection.

[December: Walking by a favorite building during a night on the town.]

Life Is A Circus

You're telling me that there is going to be an old-timey circus theme on a show I already love? Two of my favorite things combined together became a very exciting development.

Although, the latest season of American Horror Story hasn't entirely met up to my extreme expectations. More often than not, this is my general complaint with Ryan Murphy- he steam rolls too many ideas together and the quality of writing fall off mid-season, but comes back towards the end.

Even with disappointing storylines, it's all worth it just to be immersed in a world under the big top.  There are beautifully constructed sets, kooky characters, and many costumes worth coveting. When the details of a theme as stylish and fun as the circus are done perfectly, that is the only thing that really matters.

[August: Nearly got into an accident after spotting this sign and slamming on my brakes.]

The McConaissance

Look at that smile. It says everything. Nobody owned 2014 more than McConaughey and it came with a name - the McConnassiance. No term has ever been more enjoyable.

Some people over the years gave up on him. It has to be said, that as her favorite actor, my mom never did, so I didn't either.

Even though these gals had his back, this year was about regaining respect by the world at large. He got an Oscar, an Emmy nomination, said "Alright, alright, alright" on many stages, played a part in some of the most mind blowing scenes on TV, and got the world buzzing about philosophical car commercials.

What's better than that? Oh right, of course - being the namesake of a movement. Not many people, or anyone, can say that. Who's making t-shirts?

Talk It Out

If I had a different schedule I would watch all the talk shows that ever aired. That would be dangerous, but with the quality of comedy and drama unfolding at the 11 PM and on hours, it is worth the time.

Jimmy Fallon is doing lip synch battles, playing charades, catchphrase, and many other fun games with celebrities on a nightly basis, and Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live is taking shots and holding back fights. In my opinion, this is what TV is made for - pure entertainment.

[December: That time I stumbled into the Christmas version of Disneyland and found this scary nutcracker who looked like he had cracked more than his fair share of nuts.]

Actress Into Singer

It seems like every other year I change my mind about Keira Knightly. Sometimes she is lovely and sometimes she can be annoying. Pride and Prejudice, Bend It Like Beckham, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, and Never Let Me Go are great, but it had been a couple years since she had charmed me in anything.

That changed a couple months ago when I rented, Begin Again. People have talked about this one, but it still feels like the most criminally underrated film of 2014. The songs are catchy and beautiful, Ruffalo is bringing his manly magnetism, it's a creatively told musical story, and most surprising of all, Keira can sing!

Halfway through the above clip is one of my favorite movie scenes from the entire year. Ruffalo's character,  a music producer, hears Knightley's song much more profoundly than everyone else in the room - he recognizes that with the addition of a couple more instruments, she would have a rockin' track.

It's very disappointing  to see this movie left off the Comedy/Musical nominations at the Golden Globes, because then things don't even look good for a Best Original Song Oscar nomination. Really, Annie is included though? Begin Again, robbed! It's the honest truth - ain't no respect.

The Butter Battle

Inside joke coming. Rule of thumb: if you plan on leaving a location with a stock pile of butter, guard it, otherwise the server will throw it all away. The typical side story at a wedding wouldn't normally be about butter and butter sculptures, but that kind of jokey bit is what makes my family the kind I like keeping around.

[June: Boatin' with friends in Seattle.]

Discovering Legacies

The world is full of things that are known by many, but that you have yet to discover. For me, this year was about tapping into a couple classics with an extensive fan base and finally understanding the much talked about buzz.

In college my crew was predominately made up of singers who loved musical theater. Into The Woods was always thrown out as a favorite among many of them and yet, until a couple weeks ago, I was completely in the dark about the show, having never sought out the legendary Stephen Sondheim musical. It's even as old as I am (debuting on Broadway in 1987)! It's not the same as seeing it live, but I loved the recently released movie version just the same.

"No One Is Alone" is a real showstopper. Not to mention that the entire show and story is genius. It's endlessly cool what unique things can be done to twist around known stories into something new.

It was also a big year of finally catching up on a bunch more classic movies. A Streetcar Named Desire, The Red Shoes, Sunset Boulevard, Paper Moon, The Thin Man, and They Shoot Horses Don't They, are well worth the years of praise and I definitely concur. Each one has a bold story that is highly enthralling to watch. Plus, they are all extravagant looking. Checking out all six of those in a row is like a master class of movie making.

Superbowl Win

Coming from a whole football loving family who never expected our local team to end up in the Superbowl, let alone win, meant that 2014 held A LOT of surprises.

It's a little moment on the scale of things in life, but a big one for me. My mom couldn't have been a bigger football fan and had been her whole life. She cheered louder and longer than all the rest. Being able to watch that game with a big group of family and see The Hawks win is something I won't forget for many reasons.

Now, that team is close to repeating it all again. This time it's me filling the space with the loudest cheer. She would be smiling.

[April: Nearly annual adventure at the Skagit Valley, Wash. tulip festival.]

Sentimental meets a lot of fun and difficulties - that is how 2014 turned out for me and I won't quickly forget. But now it's onto something new and attempting to embrace whatever change may come my way.

So, with a final note I sign off saying happy new year and farewell, until next time.

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