This weekend, you can expect my post about New Year's intentions for 2012. Maybe I should resolve to be more timely with my posts in 2012!
As always, if there's stuff you liked in 2011, leave a comment!
George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones, Dance with Dragons)
Geeks, rejoice! Geekery went mainstream this year, as Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series made headlines as an HBO series (of course, many geeks don't rejoice when their hidden gems become mainstream, but this geek is OK with it, because popularity begets the longevity that most of my geek favorites never receive). The TV series --beautifully acted, bloody; and of course, nakeddy, being on HBO -- inspired many, including me, to pick up the books that it is based on. All just in time for the arrival of the fifth book in the series, Dance with Dragons, which left readers with impossible cliffhangers. Here's hoping that Martin doesn't take six years to write book six, as he did with Dance.
Supernatural Saturday: BBCA
To continue with the geekery ... nothing is geekier than Doctor Who. Let's just face up to it, Whovians. Yes, that's what we call ourselves, we who love the Doctor. It was a great year for the Doctor, with a twisty-turny ongoing plot about a stolen baby, melting doppelgangers, and headless (literally) monks. When the Doctor wasn't visiting Earth, BBC America ran its other sci-fi/fantasy offerings on Saturday nights; my favorite was Primeval. Best episodes: "A Good Man Goes to War" (Doctor Who); "Episode Three" (Primeval) -- which was about spring-heeled Jack!
Katy Perry and Floria Sigismondi
I'm sure that you know who Katy Perry is. You know, that busty gal with candy-apple-red lips? You may not know Sigismondi's name, but she's the director responsible for two of Perry's gorgeous videos: "E.T." and "The One That Got Away." I love these lush, story-telling videos because they hark back to the days when music videos seemed deeply profound, or at least deeply crazy (see: Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer, A-Ha's "Take on Me"). I find the video for "E.T." to be especially beautiful. Props to Perry for allowing herself to go weird in this one. (But no props to Kanye West for phoning in his "feat." role. Really, Yeezy? "Imma disrobe you/ Then Imma probe you"? A dirty-minded twelve-year-old could have written that).
Neville!!! (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2)
Cardigan. Clumsiness. Heck... his name is Neville. But the alternate "boy who lived" kicked it in the final installment of Harry Potter, proving to be the most loyal, most effective member of Dubledore's Army.
The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
Grossman continued his meditation on children's fantasy novels (like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia) with The Magician King. Like in his previous novel, The Magicians, Grossman went beyond simple satire to give us a portrait of what it might look like if the guy down the street ended up in a fantasy world. The results are devastating. And ever since I read it, I can't think about foxes without cringing (actually, Grossman seems to have a thing about fox sex ... shudder)
Melanie Moore (So You Think You Can Dance)
This summer I went to a wedding, and a good friend brought his girlfriend, who's a dancer. The two of us discovered that we were both fans of SYTYCD and proceeded to annoy the other passengers in our car with our rhapsodizing about Melanie Moore, the eventual winner of Dance's 2011 season. My new friend said, "she has such energy, even in her stillness." And that is exactly right. To any of you who have taken a dance or a yoga class, you know that stillness and small, slow movements are incredibly difficult. Moore made every moment a joy, whether standing still or launching herself fearlessly into the air.
As a child of rural America, sometimes when I'm watching Justified, I get really depressed. It's so spot-on in its depiction of the edge of American society that I can't help but get a little chill. There but for the grace... and all that. In 2011, Justified took its portrait of backwoods America to new heights with the introduction of Margo Martindale as a villain who was truly a match for the super-cool Raylan, played by Timothy Olyphant. Even as I cringes, I couldn't look away. To me, it's a portrait of law and disorder that hits closer than the much-lauded Breaking Bad... but that might be the difference between growing up scared of bears and growing up scared of Volvos.
HitRecord Hits Publish (hitrecord.org)
HitRecord is the brainchild (such a weird term) of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (yes, that kid from Third Rock from the Sun, but if that's your picture of him, I recommend you watch Brick, Mysterious Skin, or The Lookout). HitRecord is an online collaborative art space, where artists post media and freely allow others to take their work and remix it. This year, HitRecord released two "mainstream" collections of work: Recollection, Vol. 1 and The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1. Make no mistake. HitRecord is the future of art: a collaborative, royalty-free zone of equality. With really cute illustrations.
The Deschanel sisters (Bones, The New Girl)
Zooey and Emily. Wow. What a pair. In The New Girl, Zooey took her cute quirkiness to a new high. And should anyone say her quirk is unrealistic ... well, you obviously haven't met my sister and me. On Bones, Emily Deschanel navigated a tricky high-wire act as she played out the results of her show's lengthy "will-they-won't-they" dance. They did. And Emily remained true to her character, even as the character went through life-changing events.
Full disclosure: I watched the entire first season of Homeland in two days. And I really don't know what to say. Watch it. Just watch it. Homeland is about the way that war ravages us; in a world where we're taught to believe that war bestows glory upon us, no one comes out clean. Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin (squee! says my Broadway fangirl) are the standouts in this meditation on honor, duty, religion, and madness. Did I mention that you should watch it?