Posts Tagged ‘J.K. Rowling’

My 10 Favourite Non-Comic Book Things Of 2013

December 12, 2013

We looked at my favourite comic book things of the year on Tuesday, and now it’s time to turn to the entire rest of the entertainment world.  It was a decent year, especially for books; I read a lot of cool, interesting books this year (thanks, library!), though I mixed it up with a few different mediums on this list.

So here are the non-comic book things that I enjoyed the most in 2013:

10) Don Draper


I know everybody loves Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, but for me Man Men has been and still remains the best show on AMC, and the best TV drama since it debuted.  A big part of what makes it so good is Jon Hamm as Don Draper, who had just a terrible year with his job, his wife and other lady friends, his kids… it was rough, and mostly his own fault.  But so well done, and fascinating as always.  I think Don Draper is one of the most interesting characters in TV history, and if Mad Men ends without Jon Hamm ever winning an Emmy I will be very displeased.

9) Lorde

“Royals” was super good and everybody loved it.  I think “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is even better.  Plus in a year of an especially ridiculous amount of asinine pop music and moronic singers with hit songs (I say this as someone who LOVES pop music… Katy Perry’s “Roar” would have been on this list if I went to 11 spots), Lorde is a smart, thoughtful artist who at 17 years old has more to say than most of the adults in the music business.

8) Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright


Scientology is pretty messed up, you guys.  This is probably not new information to you, but this book blew my mind with just how screwed up, abusive, and insidious Scientology is.  There’s a side to it that’s amusing, what with a crappy sci-fi writer and obvious liar and fraud ending up leading one of the world’s most powerful religions, but the control and abuses of the Scientology organization are dark and sinister to a degree I never knew before I read this book.

7) Sleepy Hollow


I thought that this show was going to suck.  I wrote it off the second I heard about it.  “The Headless Horsemen in the 21st century” sounds like a god awful premise for a show.  But it’s this weird, apocalyptic adventure that absolutely embraces how ridiculous it is and just goes for it and keeps getting more and more crazy, and I love it.  Plus, Ichabod and Abbie are delightful together and bring a real heart to the show.  It’s a very pleasant surprise.

6) Pete Holmes

I recently spent three days on the road (driving to Ontario and back home), and I listened to You Made It Weird podcasts for most of that trip, laughing the entire time.  Pete Holmes is goofy and hilarious, but also earnest and hilarious, and the dude just grows on you.  His special Nice Try, The Devil was a hoot, and I love The Pete Holmes Show and watch it every day.  Things like a tone deaf Jesus or New Material Seinfeld will never not make me laugh.

5) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker


If a female golem teaming up with a male jinni in New York City in the early 1900s is not a premise that makes you go “Well I definitely need to read that book”, than you and I will probably never be friends.  It’s a fantastic book, entertaining and heartbreaking and a wonderful fusion of mythologies.  That this is Helene Wecker’s first novel astounds me; it’s ridiculously good.  I didn’t want the book to end because I wanted to keep reading about the characters.

4) New Girl


I had never seen an episode of New Girl before this year, dismissing it as a manic pixie dream girl sort of a thing, but I kept hearing it was decent.  So this summer I checked it out on a whim and watched two full seasons in a week or so.  It is HILARIOUS.  Whether Schmidt is trying to buy crack cocaine from street youths or Nick is involuntarily fist pumping to “Cotton Eye Joe”, there’s not a single episode that didn’t make me laugh out loud, and many that made me laugh so hard that I had trouble breathing.  It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen.

3) The Day of the Doctor


After what was just an okay Doctor Who season, I was a little bit concerned about the 50th anniversary special.  I loved the first Moffat season, but it had been diminishing returns since then.  However, The Day of the Doctor was just perfect.  I think it’s the best thing Moffat’s done yet, and it was exactly what I wanted out of the special.  Seeing it in 3D in a theater packed with hardcore Whovians made it ever better.  The angst, redemption, and joy of the special captured everything that is fantastic about Doctor Who.

2) The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (ie. J.K. Rowling)


I only read this book after the news broke that J.K. Rowling actually wrote it.  I had never even heard of it before then, but I love Rowling so I thought it might be a fun read.  Turns out, it was my favourite book of the year.  It’s just a mystery novel, with a grizzled detective and his plucky assistant; no wizards, no twists on the genre, nothing crazy.  But it was so enjoyable!  I loved the characters, I loved the story, and I couldn’t put it down.

1) Orange is the New Black


This show was SO good.  It started out as a “white girl in prison” sort of thing, which was somewhat entertaining, but then you meet everyone else at the prison and they’re all fascinating and wonderfully cast, with great characterization and backstories.  There’s comedy, there’s romance, there’s drama, there’s action.  The finale is INSANE (SPOILER!! My theory: Chapman beat the hell out of Pennsatucky so that she could get new teeth, thus ending the feud).  I can’t wait for the second season.  Orange is the New Black was the best show of the year.

So those are my favourite things that aren’t comics from 2013.  It was a fun year for entertainment, both in comics and outside.  It looks like 2014 is going to have some big shoes to fill.


My 10 Favourite Non-Comic Book Things Of 2012

December 28, 2012

Much like with my best of comics list, “things” is vague, but it’s a good way to look at everything at once.  Plus this is a comics blog!!  You don’t need my Top 10 of everything in the universe.  So we’ll stick with the vague listing.

I liked a lot of things this year, but this list is the things I absolutely loved.  Let’s get to it!!

10. J.K. Rowling


I read ALL of Harry Potter for the first time ever this year, in about three weeks, and it was absolutely spectacular.  Reading Harry Potter for the first time was my favourite thing of 2012 that didn’t come out in 2012.  But then, J.K. Rowling had a new book, The Casual Vacancy, written for adults and without a single wizard.  It was really quite good, as well as impressively dark and depressing, and was the complete opposite of Harry Potter in almost every way.  It takes guts to do something so different from the bestselling book franchise in the world, and skill to make small town politics as engrossing as the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

9. Elf on an Elk


The best of The Hobbit happened about five minutes in after Smaug took over the Lonely Mountain and the dwarves looked to the elf king, Thranduil, for assistance.  Thranduil stared them down and then dismissively looked away, all while riding an elk with HUGE antlers.  It was amazing, and lasted all of six seconds.  It was so brief and majestic, I can’t even find a good picture of it online.  It was the best, most random thing I saw all year.

8. Nate Silver


Obama winning the presidential election was great and all, but the best part of election night was watching the results come in and seeing that Nate Silver had called EVERY single state.  Pundits on both sides had predicted 12 billion different outcomes, and the absolutely asinine media coverage of the campaign tried to make the race look like it was too close to call, but Nate Silver got it ALL right.  With math.  It was awesome.  I sincerely hope that in four years, when the media tries to create ratings-boosting narratives instead of reporting facts, everyone ignores them and listens to the guy who’s actually using his brain.

7. Louie


Louis CK’s been killing it for the past few years now, and Louie remains one of the most enjoyable and fascinating TV shows on the air.  It was weird to begin with, but each year he takes it further from traditional comedy and story structures and makes it more and more bizarre.  It’s hilarious and surprisingly touching, and just amazingly cast.  The young actresses that play his daughters are particularly excellent.  You never know what’s going to happen when you tune in to Louie, and that’s what makes it great.

6. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson


I’ve enjoyed G. Willow Wilson’s for years.  Cairo was fantastic, and her recent Mystic mini-series at Marvel was super enjoyable.  Her first novel, Alif the Unseen, combines Islamic mythology with modern technology, and the result is a fascinating and great read.  I don’t know a lot about Islamic mythology, like djinns and such, so it was really interesting to be immersed in this world.  And also useful to enter it through the modern computer hacking world, which I’ve got a better grasp on.  Alif the Unseen is a unique and exciting novel, and I highly recommend it.

5. Sherlock


It’s a testament to how great Sherlock is that the two leads are so busy with other projects that the next season keeps getting delayed.  Martin Freeman was busy with The Hobbit, while Benedict Cumberbatch is just in everything now.  Cumberbatch gets most of the Sherlock love, but it’s the duo that makes the show so enjoyable.  They just ARE Holmes and Watson, and their chemistry is perfect.  That their cases are exciting is a bonus; I’d watch just to see the two of them sit around and chat.

4. Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live

As always, Saturday Night Live was hit and miss this year.  There was also a lot of cast turnover, with some big names leaving the show.  By far, my favourite new cast member is Kate McKinnon, who does great impressions (her Ann Romney was spectacular) and who starred in my absolute favourite sketch of the year.  As the Spanish woman who infamously repainted Ecce Homo, McKinnon KILLED me with lines about Jesus’ “enormous round monkey face.”  I could watch that bit on a loop forever.

3. Marvel’s The Avengers


I can’t recall ever having a better time at the movies than when I saw The Avengers.  The action was crazy, the new cast members were great, and it perfectly brought together all of the existing Marvel movies while FINALLY making the Hulk work on the big screen.  I’ve never heard a theatre of people erupt in laughter like they did when the Hulk picked up Loki and swung him around like a ragdoll.  It was a fun, crazy movie that perfectly captured everything that’s great about superheroes.

2. HHhH by Laurent Binet


HHhH is a novel about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a top Nazi leader, during World War Two.  Sort of.  It’s half a novel, and half Laurent Binet’s ruminations on how you turn history into fiction and the various pitfalls that entails.  Binet critiques other books and movies that tell the same story while saving the harshest critiques for himself, and wonders about how much we can actually know about historical events and how much is just speculation.  It’s completely fascinating and engrossing, and serves as a brilliant lesson for how to approach history.

1. Happy Endings

There are a lot of great comedies on TV right now like Parks and Recreation, Archer, and Community, but I think the funniest show this year, and my favourite non-comic book thing of the year, is the criminally unwatched Happy Endings.  This show is just wall to wall jokes, and you’ve got to watch it a few times to catch everything.  It’s weirdly wonderful, and includes bits like Jane staging an elaborate Gallagher-esque watermelon smashing to amuse her dad, and Brad rediscovering his early 1990s love of ventriloquism with his stand-up comedian dummy, Sinbrad.  It’s all SO ridiculously funny, and I laugh like crazy through every episode.  It’s pure hilarity.

So there was some decent stuff in 2012, particularly of the funny and/or weird and/or fascinating variety.  Hopefully we’ll get even more in 2013!!

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