Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2011 Pop Culture Favorites

With some inspiration from Stephen King, I asked myself this question -- Did I have a great year pop culturally speaking? I would have to say yes; even if some of the things I enjoyed did not appear in 2011 and that is fine. Here is a list of 20 things that made me squee with fandom. Please remember -- I am more interested in entertaining myself than in a OMG this is a great moment/statement. So let us get this ride started.

20: The Secret Circle (television show on the CW Network, Thursdays at 8pm)
--When I found out this series is based on another series written by L.J. Smith, I had my tread lightly shoes on as the CW Network took another series by L.J. Smith and made a televised version of The Twilight Saga. Yes I am talking about The Vampire Diaries. 'The Secret Circle' did not redefine my idea of what a supernatural drama can be or what a program about witches and warlocks can be. But the main pieces of a teen drama are laid out perfectly from the young women learning about their abilities to first loves/crushes to the bad girl troublemaker and the history of a small town. 'The Secret Circle' demonstrates an admirable confidence in its pace and destination, and it also has the excellent Britt Robertson ('Life Unexpected') giving the journey of Cassie Blake an emotional grounding that is likely to make the whole affair satisfying to genre fans and myself.

19: Bye Bye Beautiful by Nightwish (song)
--When I asked a friend to make me some metal mix compact discs as I needed new music, little did I realize this song would hit me so hard. The power chords, the lyrics, the thumping of the it.

18: The Walking Dead (television show on AMC, Sundays at 9pm)
--My feeling about season 2 of the Walking Dead were summed up by Stephen King. Here is what he said verbatim: No romantic zombies (good), and a terrifying premiere episode set in a traffic jam outside of Atlanta (better). I only wish the survivors weren't quite so talky. In all those weighty conversations about the Meaning of Post-Apocalypse Life, I sense AMC chintzing on the budget.

17. Dork Whore by Iris Bahr (book)
--If you enjoy the type of humor where you want to turn away from the painful embarassment and yet you can't all the while you're in stitches, then you'll like this book.

16. Jenna Marbles (comedian who posts videos on YouTube)
--This girl is hilarious and real. She says things that most people would be afraid to say. I like that.

15. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (movie)
--For all those that do not know, yes I am a Twilight fan. I am on Team Alice by the way. I can not stand Bella and Edward and I can write up a blog post on just that subject alone but that is not what I am talking about here. This first part of the movie version of Breaking Dawn was done very well and ended at a great point leaving the viewer wanting more.

14. Hack/Slash by Tim Seeley (graphic novel)
--Zombies? Check. A goth heroine? Check. Lots of blood and gore? Check. Great stories that you can somewhat relate to? Check.

13. Zenescope Entertainment (graphic novel publisher)
--I love fairy tales; especially Alice in Wonderland. When I heard that this publisher has writers adding comic style art/retelling of various fairy tales, i was hooked. Thanks to Veronica for turning me on to this company!

12. Gossip Girl (television show on the CW Network, Mondays at 8pm)
--This show is not new by any means. I still love it.

11. I Have Fun Everywhere I Go by Mike Edison (book)
--I love reading sorrid, twisted memoirs as well as an entertaining autobiography. When I found out about Sugar Slam 2011 from Natalie Slater of Bake and Destroy (who is straight-edge and a pro wrestling fan which I found odd that she would have Mike Edison judge this contest as he has no plans on sobering up but then I learned that she is not a preaching straight-edger and since Mike worked in the wrestling industry, well there you go.) and wrote a blog about it, the author of this book was one of the judges. When I looked into his career and his book, I instantly bought it and read it in a week. It is that good. Sharp, powerful writing. Get the book!

10. How Do I Look (television show on Style Network, Mondays at 10pm)
--Here is the show description: Hosted by Jeannie Mai, this show lets two of your closest friends and relatives and a celebrity stylist take turns at dressing you the way that they want to. Each one goes on a shopping adventure in your name to buy three new outfits and chooses a new hair and make up which contribute to the 'new look'! I am all about transformation and change for the better. Yes i do know that looks are not the be all end all but it is the first thing you see in a person and it is usually how first impressions are made. Some of the outfits on this show are classic; some not so but it is fun to watch.

9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (book)
--Let me first give you the description that is on Amazon: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is a lush, tragic urban fantasy that crafts its own genre, and has a solidly interesting heroine as well....unlike that other vampire romance series. Definitely a must-read.

8. The vocal stylings of Corey Taylor (musician and lead singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour)

7. Worship Music by Anthrax
--I got into heavy metal through the influence of my big brother and Anthrax was one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately, when Joey Belladonna left the band,I felt the essence of the band left as well. Their sound was turned down and their metal sound turned more of a hard rock sound. It wasn't bad, as i enjoy that hard rock sound. but just wasn't the Anthrax that I loved. I pretty much wrote these guys off during the John Bush era. But now that Joey Belladonna is back, so is the thrash metal sound. This is by far their best album since Among the Living, and it's good to have them back. If you're a fan of classic Anthrax thrash, then I think you'll really love this album.

6. The passing of Elizabeth Taylor
--She was an Hollywood industry icon; looked up to by various young actresses; a heart of gold. She will surely be missed and there will be no one else like her.

5 Page by Paige by LauraLee Gulledge (book)
--A graphic novel about a young teen growing up in NYC? Sign me up! According to Gulledge's bio on her website "the story is her journey as an artist and transplant in New York". In the book, Paige is 16 and has moved from VA to NYC with her writer parents. It is a tough time to a teen's life to move and teen readers will resonate with this aspect of the story as well. Despite Paige's many wonderful traits/characteristics, she is filled with myriad of insecurities as well. Through her developing friendships with Gabe, Jules and Longo, as well as with her sketchbook, Paige discovers more about herself and how she fits into the world around her and how others may see her. All of these are themes that will connect with especially female teen readers. As I read this graphic novel; which took me one day; I was throughly impressed how the illustrations perfectly matched the story. Some of the images were just so expressive and vivid which moved the story along and made it relatable. Another book recommendation!

4. Drew Brees surpassing Dan Marino's all time regular season passing record.
--Do I need to say any more than that? WHO DAT!

3. The Big 4 (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) concert at Yankees Stadium on September 14, 2011
--My brother and I have always gone to heavy metal concerts together so when I heard that the Big 4 were finally coming to NYC , I had to get tickets. Much thanks to David for helping us with this endeavour! It was a metal good time, even though both my brother and I were very tired at work the next day...

2. The Occupy protests.
--I am all for people who fight for what they belief in. As many of you are aware, I fight for animal rights. At least I have an idea of what I am fighting for. These protests started popping up worldwide without a clear vision of what they were protesting as well as offering any solutions for their issues. Then celebrities started to get involved which in retrospect was a complete conflict of interest since they fall into the spectrum of the rich otherwise known as the 1 percent. All in all this ranks as my #2 pop culture favorite as it will fall into pop culture more due to the entertainment/celebrity influence instead of the history books.

1. The Big Bang Theory (television show on CBS. Thursdays at 8pm, also in syndication on TBS and FOX)
--A show about geeks and their lives? Definitely can relate. This show is well written with humorous lines as well great character acting. I can overdose on this show all week and even if I saw all of the episodes already, they are still hilarious.

So my fellow readers, what are your 2011 pop culture favorites? Why not answer the question in the first paragraph as I did? Remember -- what you enjoyed or were entertained by in 2011 does not have to be from 2011.

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