Favorite things of 2017

What a wild ride 2017 was! I had some great adventures, was graced by the company of many wonderful people, and at times risked losing my eyeballs in the back of my skull due to excessive politics-induced rolling. To recap it all would be an overwhelming undertaking; so, in lieu of doing so, I thought I’d share a list of some of my favorite things from 2017.

Without further ado, here are some of the words, pictures and sounds that made me smile, cry, question and learn in 2017.

Favorite books

The best book that I read this year was Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. This book came out in 2014, so this list is getting off to a pretty weak start so far as being topical goes. That said, Annihilation is getting a film adaptation due out some time early this year, so it’s still fairly relevant, right? Anyway, I devoured this book over the course of about 24 hours while on vacation in Belize. I was drawn to it due to some Reddit comments indicating that it was both terrifying and weird as hell, and I can confirm that it is indeed both of those things. It’s a sort of horror-mystery-sci-fi book that can’t really be spoiled (half the joy of it is in its writing, the style of which equals the content in its unique bizarreness); but that said, I suggest that you read it with as little information going in as possible. It’s an absolute trip.

Runners up in this category include American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Horns by Joe Hill, both of which were very long and strange and neither of which were released this year either (whoops).

Favorite movies

I absolutely love movies. I watched 35 of them this year (I’ll spare you my full list), and had a lot of favorites to choose from. Ultimately, these were my top five:

Blade Runner 2049: There are so many good things to say about this movie that I don’t even know where to begin. For one thing, this movie is absolutely beautiful—but it also serves as a fascinating reflection on (SPOILER ALERT) Millennial you’re-not-special-itis, and the nobility in forging your own meaning in an apathetic universe.

La La Land: I just realized that my top two movies of the year star Ryan Gosling. This has absolutely nothing to do with his face/abs and everything to do with his soulful acting and excellent taste in roles—right? Right. La La Land was a sweet and fun romp throughout, but the unexpected ending left me almost as speechless as what happened at the Oscars.

The Disaster Artist: As a huge fan of The Room and of the book The Disaster Artist, I’ve been anticipating this movie for years. I had a smile on my face the entire time I was watching it and wasn’t let down in the slightest. O hai Mark!

Get Out: I’m a social justice nerd with a passion for the horror genre. Of course I loved Get Out.

The Shape of Water: The strangest and sweetest movie I saw all year. I found the trailers to be rather spoiler-heavy and would advise against watching one if you haven’t already—just go see it.

Favorite music

I’ve been told that my taste in music is “bad” and that my playlists ruin parties. That said, I swear these 2017 albums were actually very, very good.

Paramore – After Laughter: Once an emo kid, always an emo kid. Except, this album is actually an extremely good off-brand reinvention of Paramore’s sound that is less “emo” and more bubbly alt-pop. Listen closely though and the lyrics are Paramore at their most depressing. It makes for an interesting dissonance between the content and delivery with an overall charming-if-confusing effect.

Miami Horror – The Shapes: I can only describe this album as bouncy, sparkly, and strange. If you, like me, like 80’s throwback music, I suspect you will love this. The best song is “Leila,” by far—and if you want, you can sing along “Leah” instead. Not that I would do that. Ahem.

Electric Guest – Plural: I love a good falsetto almost as much as I love funky electronic music. Go listen to “Oh Devil” and thank me later.

Kesha – Rainbow: I’ve been a fan of Kesha since she had the dollar sign in her name, but this album elevated her in my eyes from a feminist icon to an actual spirit guide. The first time I heard “Spaceship” I was emotionally devastated.

Lorde – Melodrama: I don’t have as much love for Lorde as I do for Kesha, and this album is definitely last on this list by a large margin. That said, Lorde’s lyricism is striking as ever and her stage presence at Outside Lands was impressive and memorable, which made this album more impactful on subsequent listens.

Honorable mention: Fall Out Boy – “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T”: Remember how I said I’m an emo kid at heart? Well woe is me, because Fall Out Boy didn’t release a new album this year, even though they were supposed to (M A N I A was delayed to early 2018 much to fans’ chagrin). However, we did get a few fresh singles. The first, “Young And Menace,” was a startling and fantastic departure from their typical sound that left many a FOB fan decidedly “shook.” It’s a fabulous song, but the title of favorite single is reserved for their most recent release “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T,” which sounds like a spunky tropical remix of a regular Fall Out Boy song. It’s strange and it’s excellent.

Favorite TV

I’m realizing that every single show in my top 5 originally aired on Netflix. Not sure what that says about me, or about Netflix.

Bojack Horseman Season 4: If you’ve ever discussed the topic of television with me before, I surely brought up Bojack Horseman as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. The season 4 plot line revolving around Bojack’s mother and her encroaching dementia was entirely too disturbing and moving for a cartoon about animal people, and I loved every moment of it.

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later: WHAS is my absolute favorite brand of comedy (did you know that Michael Ian Black tweeted me once and it was the best day of my life?) and this latest installment made me feel warm and fuzzy inside amidst the garbage fire that was every newsfeed in 2017. It also gave me this gif, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Master of None Season 2: The people who say Aziz Ansari can’t act are actual psycho nutjobs. He crushed it this season. There’s a particular scene where he’s rejected at a bar, and he makes this one face, and it’s hard to explain but it shook me for days.

Black Mirror Season 4: I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t spoil please! But USS Callister and Archangel were enough on their own to earn Black Mirror a shout-out here.

Stranger Things Season 2: It wasn’t quite as good as the first, but it was still awesome. Noah Schnapp (Will Byers) deserves all of the awards.

Favorite Essay

My Family’s Slave by Alex Tizon was a terrible and beautiful read about modern slavery that is as educational as it is devastating.

On a very different note, this piece made me giggle.

Favorite weird news

It had a sad ending, but I enjoyed every moment of the juicy saga of a wealthy San Francisco neighborhood that got decidedly punk’d when an enterprising couple purchased their street after it went up for auction due to unpaid taxes.

This one’s worth it for the headline alone.

Favorite twitter account

I discovered Chuck Tingle by way of the 2016 election, which he live-tweeted with a… unique flair. Chuck Tingle’s universe is one in which Donald Trump is actually a collection of shrieking “void crabs” living in a human suit, where something called “the lonesome train” is always calling, and where “good buckaroos” must spread the message that love is real. “Doctor” Tingle (he claims to have a PhD in holistic massage)  is a prolific author of pornographic ebooks called “Tinglers” and no one really knows his true identity—whether he’s a genius satirist or a schizophrenic savant is an ongoing debate that only makes his whole schtick more fascinating. His tweets are jumbled, bizarre, and often weirdly inspirational, and they kept me going through the darker patches of 2017. Thanks, Dr. Tingle.

Those were some of my favorite things last year—I’d love to hear about some of yours. Sound off in the comments!