Monday, December 31, 2012

J: TV of 2012

You know, in years past, TV was always the easiest thing for me to write about. But this year I have to admit that I've definitely lost enthusiasm for television and there have not been a lot of shows that I really kept up with. Here's what still on my list:

  1. Downton Abbey - Of course! The second season had some cringeworthy developments - like that bizarre fling between Lord Grantham and the housemaid, all of the Bates drama (and I love Bates!), and that really brief Patrick Crawley thing. But overall,  this show is still addictively entertaining. Season 3 is the the first thing I'll be looking forward to in 2013, even with the confirmation that it is the last for Dan Stevens (and Matthew Crawley...I hate when casting has to direct story). 
  2. The Olympics - I always feel like I don't get to watch as much as I'd like, but gymnastics this year was pretty darn awesome. McKayla Maroney's essentially perfect vault from team finals still gives me chills. Swimming and beach volleyball and even track were great too. 
  3. Parks and Recreation - Leslie and Ben are engaged! Possibly the cutest moment on television all year. There were definitely some new things going on this year with Leslie's campaign and then being on city council, Ben being in DC, etc. but I think the show handled them quite well. The Tom/Ann romance was stupid, but this new, semi-responsible Tom is actually still funny. Oh, and Jerry is married to Christie Brinkley??
  4. Community - Sad it hasn't been on this fall so looking forward to it coming back in the spring!
  5. Ben & Kate and The Mindy Project - I'm lumping these together for some reason. Ben & Kate is much more about family, and The Mindy Project has much more about career, but both are pretty much about characters in their twenties/thirties, which I guess I am finally resonating with? That is, instead of teen shows...
  6. Like The Vampire Diaries. I'm still watching this, but somehow it's gotten a bit tiring. I am still impressed by just the sheer volume of story that the writers seem to be able to come up with and execute at such speed but I guess I'm just finding myself caring less and less about the characters.
  7. The Amazing Race - I was disappointed by this season's winners (was rooting for the Chippendales) but I think the show is still basically consistent. 
  8. How I Met Your Mother - Yes, I'm still watching this?? And it got renewed for ANOTHER season. When will it end? Why can I not give up?
  9. Parenthood - Actually finally finished last season! Haha, so I'm behind, but I'm getting there. Like Mira has said, it's a show that doesn't always do things that we like, but that still just does them well.
  10. Bunheads - It took a few episodes for this to grow on me, but I ended up finishing the season and really liking it, even the teenagers that I initially deemed inconsequential. 
  11. Game of Thrones - I watched seasons 1 and 2 this year because I had a free HBO promotion and while I thought the cast and acting and all the sets and locations were really excellent, ultimately I think that all the graphic sex and violence just aren't for me (like most HBO originals). I'm going to stick with the books.
  12. Girls - It got a ton of buzz this year and I can see why - it has this very honest and very un-glossed-over view of young, female New Yorkers that hasn't necessarily been seen much on TV.  Unfortunately the result of this is that the characters do really stupid things and aren't always very likable. I think I like having characters to root for in TV shows. Anyway, undecided whether I'll keep up with the show since I won't have HBO.
  13. So You Think You Can Dance - Still love watching the show, but definitely not as obsessed as I used to be. It took me a minute there to remember the most recent winners and I can't say there are that routines in particular that I remember...

M: 2012 Year in Review

I love what Jenn did with her Year in Reviews, so-- my turn!  However, I'm going to simplify it a bit for myself.  Besides, if I did a movie review like Jenn's, a good chunk of my comments would be similar. :)

Movies from 2012:
I think I did a decent job on my movie resolution this year, which was to watch at least one newer release movie each month.  I think I hit every month, whether it was in the theater or watched later in the year on a plane. I listed the movies roughly in the month they were released in theaters rather than which month I watched them just to make it easier on myself.
January: Saw both Joyful Noise and We Bought a Zoo on the plane. The latter was really, really good.
February: Month of romances with The Vow in the theater and This Means War (plane). First was predictably sad, second was silly.
March: Was super excited for The Hunger Games, which I enjoyed and thought brought the book to life well. Less excited for Mirror Mirror (plane), which lived up to my low expectations.
April: Was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed and laughed during The Five-Year Engagement (plane). It helped that most of the movie was set in Ann Arbor (Go Blue!).
May: Caught up on The Hulk and Captain America in anticipation of The Avengers, which I enjoyed a lot.  Had no expectations of What to Expect When You're Expecting (plane) and it was just okay.
June: Only movie I saw in theaters this month was Brave, which as Jenn described was way different from what I thought it was about (but good!).  Saw on the plane: Snow White and the Huntsman (meh!), Rock of Ages (cheesy), and Your Sister's Sister (loved, loved, loved!).
July: Lotsa movies in the summer that I saw in the theater: The Amazing Spider-Man (was okay and I think it sets up a new direction for the Spider-Man franchise), The Dark Knight Rises (one of the best ends to a trilogy ever), Step Up Revolution (gratuitous dance movie that hit all the right notes for me!).
August: Think I was still watching July movies in August, but I did catch one later on during a plane ride -- Celeste and Jesse Forever. Surprisingly enjoyable.
September: Saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Jenn. Enjoyed it a lot but it was really annoying listening to Emma speak American English.
October: Saw Pitch Perfect and enjoyed every moment of it; so much so that I want the DVD!
November: Saw Skyfall and it was fine.  Most of my plane movies were watched this month and in August.
DecemberLes Misérables, which was everything I hoped it would be. Rise of the Guardians, which was surprisingly a lot of fun!
Movies I still want to seeCosmopolis; ArgoAnna KareninaLooper; The Bourne LegacySilver Linings PlaybookThe HobbitThis is 40

Music from 2012: 
This year I actually listened to some new music and can talk about some new favorites.
Bands I liked: Of Monsters and Men, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Walk the Moon, Grouplove, Mumford & Sons, AWOLNATION, Foster the People...
Favorite song: "Demons" by Imagine Dragons
Favorite CD: My Head Is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men

TV from 2012:
Dropped: Beauty & the Beast (not great); The Mindy Project (didn't keep my attention); The New Girl (got grating); Grey's Anatomy (fell behind); Private Practice (fell behind); Parenthood (lost motivation to stay caught up); Two Broke Girls (fell behind); Hart of Dixie (forgot about it); Hawaii Five-O (fell behind); Secret Circle (got canceled); Chuck (ended so this doesn't really count); GCB (got canceled, I think); Smash (forgot about it); 666 Park Avenue (did not like); Switched at Birth (got annoyed); Jane By Design (got canceled, I think); Pretty Little Liars (cut myself off); The Lying Game (not sure if it's still on but cutting myself off); Fairly Legal (this upsets me because I love this show, but it was CANCELED.)
Picked up: Nashville (trashy drama? I'm in!); Arrow (surprising how much I enjoy this show); Go On (quite a bit behind, but enjoyed what I've seen so far!)
Still Watching: How I Met Your Mother (can't believe I'm still watching this!); Revenge (still one of my favorites); Glee (has its ups and downs and many more downs than ever, but I'm still watching); Once Upon a Time (similar to Glee); Amazing Race (love it); SYTYCD (less "new" and exciting than previous seasons, but still I love it); Nikita (quite a few episodes behind, but still enjoy it); Covert Affairs (same as Nikita)

Books from 2012: 
Failed on my resolution to read books off my bookshelf.  I did use my Kindle a lot, though! Not much worth mentioning, unfortunately.

Conclusion: Quantifying my resolutions (SMART goals?) did not help me achieve them, really!

Friday, December 28, 2012

J: Music of 2012

Actually probably the best way to sum up music for this year would be to go back and list my weekly Thursday check-in picks. But I'm lazy, so here's what just what I remember...

Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Continuous Thunder and The House That Heaven Built)
Passion Pit - Gossamer (It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy and Constant Conversations)
Cults - Cults (Abducted and You Know What I Mean)
M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Steve McQueen and Midnight City)

Other songs:
Kishi Bashi - Bright Whites
Florence + The Machine - Shake it Out
Yeasayer - Henrietta
Regina Spektor - All the Rowboats
Mat Kearney - Ships in the Night
Metric - Youth Without Youth

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Check in Thursdays: Week 52

Mira: I COMPLETELY FORGOT TO POST LAST WEEK!  Jenn gave up on waiting for me and posted anyway... Well this is the final week for 2012 and we'll have to decide if we want to continue to try to do a weekly post and, if so, what we want to post on...
Watching... Random old favorites with my cousins -- Up, Music & Lyrics, Love Actually... And in theaters -- Les Misérables
Reading... Random free Kindle books that are Christmas-y.
Listening... Pandora's Les Misérables station.  Have I ever mentioned that Les Mis is only my absolute favorite musical?

Watching... Saw Anna Karenina in theaters last week, which was actually not what I expected. The sets and scene transitions were very unique and different. I liked it a lot though, even though it's just a really inherently depressing story. Planning to see Les Misérables this weekend!
Reading... Finished Gone Girl which was SO GOOD. A pageturner for sure, really suspenseful and surprising and just a tiny bit...frightening??
Listening... Finished up the audiobook of Heist Society, which I enjoyed but maybe didn't completely understand? Just wasn't paying attention for some important details probably. Anyway, it's completely implausible and silly but I liked the characters and I've already requested the second audiobook from the library.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Check in Thursdays: Week 51

Watching... Decided to catch up on last season of Parenthood for some reason. Still a great show, just fell off my plate for awhile there.
Listening... Finished up the audiobook version of Bossypants by Tina Fey (read by Tina Fey) which was pretty awesome. It was almost too short! Moving onto Heist Society, probably a dumb young adult novel, which is really the best kind to listen to while running. Only 6 more weeks of marathon training...
Reading... Working on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which did actually grab me from the very beginning. Looking forward to having time to just sit down and dig in this weekend.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

J: Books of 2012

Wow, it was not a good year for reading. My count for 2011 was 38 books, this year it's less than half that. I was caught up in other things - training for a half-marathon and now a marathon, preparing for a 6-day backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon, weddings, etc. All the running did increase my audiobook count though.

I'm not going to name favorites, because honestly, if I finished it, it means I really liked it (*with two exceptions). I didn't have the time or patience to finish something I wasn't into.
  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  3. Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
  4. Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan
  5. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  7. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  9. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  10. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  11. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  12. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  13. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  14. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson
  15. **Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  1. *How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
  2. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
  3. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
  4. *Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  5. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
  6. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
  7. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  8. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  9. **Heist Society by Ally Carter
* I liked most of How I Live Now but it eventually got really weird. Incarceron I kind of hated. But it's a lot easier for me to slog through an audiobook than a regular one...
** Hoping to finish before the end of the year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

J: Movies of 2012

I'm not sure why, but increasingly, watching a movie seems to me to be a big mental commitment. I can sit down and watch two or three hours of TV, no problem, but ask me to watch a movie and probably 9 times out of 10 I'm not up for it (just ask my boyfriend). That said, I did watch more movies in theaters this year than I did last year. Since there are so few, mini reviews of each!
  1. The Hunger Games
    The first theater we tried to watch this in had a fire alarm go off right at the moment where Prim's name gets called at the reaping and we had to evacuate! So we had to go to a second theater to watch it again from the beginning. I thought they did a pretty good job with the movie, even though I still don't think Peeta is right and I feel like people who didn't read the books would be confused. I did not like the second or third books in the series as much so I'm a bit apprehensive about the upcoming movies.
  2. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
    Honestly don't remember much about it except that it was fun?
  3. The Avengers
    I really enjoyed this! Of course I'm a Joss Whedon fan so I wasn't surprised but my only qualm was that I can't stand Iron Man or Robert Downey, Jr. But I thought the amount of Iron Man was very tolerable. I loved Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk and even Scarlett Johansson was pretty good.
  4. Brave
    I guess the trailers for this really didn't say much about the plot because halfway into the movie I was like, "Oh, this is what the movie is about!" Super cute and fun though.
  5. The Dark Knight Rises
    Great filmmaking for sure, but I'm not sure if I really liked it, especially when compared to The Dark Knight. I could not understand a word that Bane said, thought all the stuff in that prison was way over dramatic, and Christian Bale's Batman voice drives me crazy. But Anne Hathaway was surprisingly good as Catwoman and Joseph Gordon Levitt is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors!
  6. Step Up Revolution
    Pure fluff. Gotta love the people behind the Step Up franchise for realizing that plot is totally secondary and the audience is just there for the dancing. Was happy and a little relieved to see that Kathryn McCormick, one of my favorite So You Think You Can Dance dancers of all time, acquitted herself respectably as an actress and the flash mob stuff was pretty darn cool. Bonus: Eyebrows! Peter Gallagher is always welcome on my screen.
  7. Premium Rush
    Fun adrenaline kick. Another Joseph Gordon Levitt movie!
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    I was apprehensive about this movie because I had read the book it was based on back in high school when it was all the rage among angsty teenagers and kind of wasn't sure what to think about it because I didn't feel like I really related to it. But the author of the book wrote and directed the film adaptation so I was hopeful too. And I'm so glad I saw it! It's just a great coming of age story, and the three leads are great - yes, even Emma Watson and her odd American accent.
  9. Pitch Perfect
    At first I was like, why is Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick slumming it in a Glee-derivative a capella movie? But really, there is nothing to be ashamed of with this movie. It's a lot ridiculous but actually pretty funny and smart.
  10. Argo
    The only "serious" movie I saw this year probably? A great story that I didn't know much about coming in, and kudos to Ben Affleck for making it really suspenseful and compelling.
  11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Liked it, even though it was really...long. Martin Freeman was great as Bilbo and it just made me happy and nostalgic to see Middle Earth/New Zealand again. It's funny, I remember the book as being kind of a cute children's book but the movie made it all seem much more epic and serious. I'll have to read it again.
  12. Anna Karenina
    Update - Saw this! I really liked it - the staging and sets were really different and not what I was expecting, but thought Keira Knightley was great. Hoping to see this with my mom before the year is out. I've never quite finished reading the's been on my list for years but have never gotten around to it and now I won't have time before seeing the movie, but oh well...
  13. Looper
    A bit more violent than I usually prefer, but very interesting premise and good acting. (I had no idea Emily Blunt was in this movie.) I was highly distracted by Joseph Gordon Levitt's facial prosthetics though.
  14. Les Miserables
    I watched the musical on Broadway years ago, but honestly never really understood the story? So this movie helped a lot in that respect. I thought there were quite a lot of pretty great performances - Anne Hathaway surprised me, and Eponine and Enjolras and Marius were all very strong. The biggest disappointment was Russell Crowe. His singing voice just annoyed me throughout the whole movie. I know they were going about it a little differently - emphasizing acting over pure singing, but he just did not sound good...
Movies I missed:
The Secret World of Arietty, Friends with Kids, The Cabin in the Woods, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Dark Shadows, Moonrise Kingdom, Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister's Sister, Beast of the Southern Wild, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Queen of Versailles, Wreck-It Ralph, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, This is 40

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Check in Thursdays: Week 50

Watching... Hoping to see The Hobbit sometime soon! I'm still a little perplexed by how they turned a slim children's book into a movie trilogy but I'm excited to delve back into Middle Earth.
Listening... Still Christmas music and stuff off of year-end best lists (including All Songs Considered's editor and listener picks).
Reading... Just started Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I've heard so many good things about this book, hoping it lives up to the hype.

Watching... the Knicks! Also, I am really excited about the movies this holiday season. :)
Listening... Nothing.
Reading... The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.  The third in the Heroes of Olympus series.  Probably the only author whose series I read as each book is published; usually I wait until a series is over before reading the books.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Check in Thursdays: Week 49

Watching... Finishing up season 6 of Doctor Who and catching up with How I Met Your Mother.
Listening... Perusing all the year end best music lists. Frank Ocean topped almost every list and I'm surprised to find that I'm actually kind of drawn to his songs because I'm usually not at all into R&B. Check out "Thinkin Bout You".
Reading... A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel. One of my favorite books, adapted as a graphic novel. Loving it so far!

Mira: Oops, sorry for the late post!
Watching... Caught up on The Amazing Race, Glee, and How I Met Your Mother... Dropped The Mindy Project. 
Listening... Christmas music on the radio.
Reading... Nothing new!