2011: Holland’s Favorites
Overall, not a bad year. Not great – it’s kinda fun how the economy reacted to my minor pay raise by making everything correspondingly more expensive – but on the other hand, I HAVE A DISHWASHER IN MY APARTMENT NOW AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL. So things could be worse.
Other than the dishwasher – which, if you are someone who currently has a dishwasher, you do not realize just how many hours of your life end up spent cleaning frying pans – what else was praise-worthy this year?
Man, I still can’t get over the fact that they finally got around to making the exact movie I’ve wanted to watch since I was five years old.
Young Justice is a teen soap opera that also has Jack Kirby characters running all over the place; Avengers is both kid-friendly and has the kind of labyrinthine plotting that can only happen when you cherry-pick all the fun bits of Marvel history and leave out all the crap (for instance, how cool would Secret Invasion have been if we didn’t have to worry about all the continuity and idiot-ball issues it raised? We’re gonna find out in season 2!); AND, DEFYING ALL LOGIC, THUNDERCATS TURNED OUT TO BE AWESOME (and in an odd way at that! So many times – for instance, the aggressively cute “Ro-bears” – did I turn to Megan and say, “This can be a very strange cartoon”).
I like that the collective response to this show has been “I really did not expect to actually like this show.”
And yet I am actively looking forward to seeing how the “Tyler’s out of anti-psychotic medication and Emily’s ex-con identity-switcher’s causing trouble too” plots play themselves out. (Yes it is that kind of show.)
New Tom Waits, “Bad As Me”
I don’t know what else I really have to say about this, except that the most crazy-shouty-quirky song on the album, “Hell Broke Luce,” is really exciting and oddly listenable.
Fitz & The Tantrums
The old-school swagger and occasionally goofy lyrics (“L-O-V for you and me/that’s just the way it’s got to be!”), coupled with the pleasing aesthetics of the band itself make this an easy one to go back to again and again.
Foster The People
Maybe it’s the fact that you’ve heard half these songs already on commercials or whatever, but I fully expect the album to be one of those “Oh my god, remember how hipsters thought Foster The People was cool?” sneers in a couple years (see: Black Kids), but for now, man this is a danceable album. Just condensed kinda-surfacy cool.
While god knows we had problems with a lot of DC’s New 52 output (update: it’s month 4 and the Justice League is still being a bunch of assholes to each other), I got to see the start of some amazing stuff in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Animal Man, and especially The Flash (which came closest of any comic to make me give a shit about Barry Allen).
But Marvel was consistently better at making a case in the first issue for why a comic needs to exist, whether it’s Warren Ellis’s Secret Avengers (“Run the mission. Save the world. Don’t get caught.”), Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men (“Logan finally accepts that he’s a mentor figure”), Mark Waid’s Daredevil (“How about we DON’T make it suicidally depressing for a while?”) or Matt Fraction’s Defenders (“If none of these awesome characters can headline their own book, how about we just toss them all on one team and crank up the weirdness?”).
On the collected front, Dark Horse has re-released Carla Speed McNeill’s lovely Finder series into two gorgeous omnibus collections, which are now sitting and waiting to be read on my shelf.
Which I will do, once I get through the 80’s junk food comic that is Marvel Comics Secret Wars (“Wherein your group of action figures bangs into your friend’s group of action figures and you make KERCRASSSSHHHH, ZEOOWWWW sounds – for twelve issues.”).
The Shaving Grace Barbershop
It surprised me, as a guy who treats his own head like a chia pet, how much I enjoyed getting a straight-razor shave. But between the relaxing leather chairs, the complimentary beer and whiskey, the hot towels, the aftershave, and the not having to make chit-chat with a stranger who’s holding sharp things at my head, it was pretty much an ideal experience.
Also, I learned there’s a thing you’re supposed to put on your face after shaving that prevents your cheeks from feeling like a plank of wood by 5 o’clock.
Granted, this is the fun part, where you just brainstorm and find cool places and pick a date where the weather’s probably gonna be okay. Next year, what with the saving money, actually trying to schedule people, and coming up with a series of engagement photos better than zombie attack or ninja attack (mental note: robot battle?), well…that’s next year’s problem.
So, what did 2011 do to/for you?