It might seem frivolous to pick out the best in entertainment in a year where real life played such a prominent role in the lives of Joplin residents.
But it's because of that real-life tragedy that made us cherish the entertainment even more.
Epic new event: Joplin Running of the Bulls
The tornado didn't stop residents' drives to push new festivals, features and other fetes, from Oktoberfest to a Glee-style sing-off. But our favorite was a great twist on a Spanish tradition. A group re-enacted Pamplona's Running of the Bulls, using members of a roller derby team as the bulls. More than 100 ran in the fundraiser for St. Mary's Elementary School. Can't wait to see how big this gets in 2012.
Epic breaking big for a local band: LiveWire
This is a good year for the tater-fed band from the Joplin area. Videos for their songs "Tater Fed" and "Miracle of the Human Spirit" are in rotation on CMT. The band has been featured in Billboard magazine, signed with Way Out West in Nashville and were featured in segments on the "Breaking Out" show on The Country Networks.
Epic tornado-related song: "Naked Trees," by Me Like Bees
It's almost unfair to pick a best tornado song — so many artists have poured their heart and soul into music to help Joplin residents deal with the tornado.
Winning post-tornado celebrity visit: Carlos Mencia
Joplin has received a lot of attention from big names, as big as Katy Perry, Barry Manilow and members of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Epic Moment: JHS lip dub video
But for us, we were suckers for a lip dub video on YouTube.
Winning online app: Spotify
Music's large role in our lives is a big reason we love Spotify so much in the newsroom. It makes sharing music between friends so much easier. But Spotify's service goes way beyond letting the world know how great that new "Foster the People" album is.
Epic tribute to longevity: 25th anniversary of the Kitchen Pass
Back when the worst weather-related thing on our minds was snowmageddon, one of Joplin's longest-running nightspots celebrated a milestone.
Epic moment in history captured by locals: Joplin High School students witnessing history in Washington D.C.
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. As the Constitution Team celebrated a well-earned trip to nationals in Washington D.C., its trip coincided with the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death, and the crazy, street-filling celebration.
Joe's favorite album of 2011: "The Experiment," Art vs. Science
Ever since its February release, I've listened to "The Experiment" countless times. (I guess I could check my iTunes play count. Meh.) Every song on this album is strong.
Scott's favorite book of 2011: "Ready Player One," Ernest Cline
I enjoyed a number of new books in 2011. I welcomed the look back at Jack Reacher's early days in Lee Child's "The Affair"; got wrapped up in the latest Harry Bosch outing in Michael Connelly's "The Drop"; marveled at Stephen King's ability to sustain a story for nearly 900 pages in "11/22/63"; and cheered on the human resistance in Daniel Wilson's "Robopocalypse."
Going Western: Indie film 'Wichita' to show tonight at MSSU
Nicholas Burton isn't exactly raising a cash cow on his livestock ranch. But the Wichita, Kan.-based filmmaker has an advantage over other film producers: Westerns are in high demand, and he's in the perfect spot to make them.
Love, labor liven up JHS musical 'Pajama Game'
The spring musical put on by the Joplin High School Theatre Department deals with a labor of love among a labor dispute.
MSSU choir, orchestra combines for performance of legendary 'Carmina Burana'
The free performance is a joint effort between the Southern Symphonic Chorus, which is composed of the MSSU Concert Chorale and volunteer singers, and the orchestra, which is made up of Missouri Southern students, faculty and professionals from the community.
Globe Phone Test: Nokia Lumia 1520's outstanding camera offset by frustrating OS
On Monday, news broke that flight attendants aboard Delta Airlines flights would receive Nokia Lumia 1520 devices in October. The devices will have flight manuals, support on-board sales, allow attendants to process credit card payments and crapcan heavy 500-page manuals they used have to bring.
The move is similar to how American Airlines attendants were give Galaxy Note phablets. Because Delta already gave attendants similar smartphones, it's reasonable to assume that the company places a lot of faith in the Windows Phone system.
But Delta's choice of device is puzzling because the 1520 is better suited to take photos and videos of people on board an airplane, not take their drink and meal orders. And because the device is so big, I'm not sure how flight attendants would feel carrying it around in a cramped flight.
As the iOS and Android systems struggle for the top smartphone operating system, Microsoft's Windows Phone has scratched its way into the No. 3 spot, pushing past BlackBerry. Nokia, once one of the top names in devices, is pairing with Microsoft to make a device that features an incredible camera. The company already made the Lumia 1020, which features a humongous 41-megapixel camera that does amazing things.
The Lumia 1520 is its biggest offering to date. The device, available exclusively from AT&T, is one of the biggest phablet-style phones on the market today. For about 10 days, I tested out a black-colored device provided by AT&T.
Jeremiah Tucker: Kurt Cobain likely would have thrived in today's music scene
I have no memory of the day he died. A friend asked me about this recently, and I said at that age -- I would've been 13 -- I was probably still rocking my cassingle of the Escape Club's "Wild Wild West." Needless to say, my middle school years were rough.
Benji Tunnell: 'Winter Soldier' sets a high bar for summer movie season
If a film was truly great, it would be held until June or July. Or so the thinking might have been before the release last week of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."
Marta Churchwell: Joplin mural part of Benton's larger message
Recently, I received information on Joplin's celebration of one of its native sons, Thomas Hart Benton. In observance of the artist's 125th birthday, City Hall will host a collection of his works alongside his mural that honors Joplin history.
World Fest pairs well with Celebrate America
The Slinkerds think Silver Dollar City's World Fest is a great opportunity to show their young children other cultures and introduce them to people from around the world.
Ka-Pow! New attraction offers free-fall plunge
On May 17, two brave souls willing to whether mid-May¹s unpredictable weather will climb into the two drop-floor aqua-launch capsules atop KaPau Plummet.
Jeremiah Tucker: Letterman performance gives deserved boost to Future Islands
It's hard to believe an appearance on a late-night talk show can still make a band's career. It's such a common occurrence and the cultural currency of the late-night format has dropped so much in recent years that, short of literally setting the stage ablaze or stabbing the host, the most a band could hope for is a couple of polite blog notices.
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