JOPLIN, Mo. —
In no particular order, here are the things that geeked me out the most in 2012:
Favorite movie: ‘Cabin in the Woods’
“The Avengers” was great, as was “The Dark Knight Rises.” I haven’t seen “The Hobbit” yet, but I’m still kind of ticked at director Peter Jackson’s attempt to draw that story out to three movies. And “Looper” was a brilliant ride.
But “Cabin in the Woods,” the other Joss Whedon movie of 2012, was a genius send-up of a genre I love. It included every trope in the horror genre and cast them all in a clever light.
I’m not even going to try to tell the story, because I don’t want to spoil a bit of the plot.
Let’s just say there’s a lot more than the standard young-people-in-cabin going on.
“Cabin in the Woods” is arguably inferior to many movies this year, for good reason. But that’s the movie I enjoyed watching the most this year, so it gets my nod.
Favorite album: Rush, “Clockwork Angels”
I gave a lot of consideration to “The 2nd Law” by Muse, “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” by Ben Folds Five and “The Crux” by Hurt. I listened to all of those albums regularly throughout the year, and loved them all.
But Rush’s new concept album “Clockwork Angels” made me fall in love with the band all over again. Even though it’s not much of a concept album, it’s filled with brilliant songs that had me hitting “repeat” after the last song’s last chord.
There’s a book out by Kevin Anderson of the same name that expands on Neil Peart’s originaly story. I havent’ read it yet; I’ve heard it ties the songs together into a cohesive story. That’s fine, but I didn’t need a novel for “Scenes From a Memory,” “Operation Mindcrime” or “The Hazards of Love.” (To be fair: A novel would GREATLY help “The Hazards of Love” make sense.)
But that doesn’t matter, because each song on the album is wonderful enough to make me forget that there’s no musical themes that tie the songs together. From the radio friendly “Headlong Flight” to the soaring title track; from the orchestral “The Wreckers” to the sublte “Halo Effect, every song is a standalone winner.
Favorite thing to hate on: Hashtags
I get a lot of glee teasing the more hipster members of our newsroom who are too lazy to post to Twitter and Facebook separately. When they bring those Twitter-handy hashtags to Facebook, it’s time to slap ‘em around.
It’s one thing to use a hashtag improperly, but to use one in any capacity on Facebook is a complete waste of wit and pixels. Usually it’s a sin of laziness; they bind Twitter and Facebook together through one program, such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
Social network lesson No. 1, you lazy hipsters: Facebook and Twitter are different. Learn the differences, then take the extra two minutes to write for each properly.
Favorite book: “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn
Some new books in 2012 were written by some of my favorite authors, including “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore, “Broken Harbor” by Tana French, “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling, “The Twelve” by Justin Cronin and “Live By Night” by Dennis Lehane.
But a new-to-me author blew me away.
I was hooked from the first sentence of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl": “When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.” So begins a mystery into the dysfunction behind Nick and Amy Dunne, and the disappearance of the wife.
Carthage and the Ozarks get some mentions, which are cool. But Flynn writes about two identifiable yet completely awful spouses and the way they manipulate each other. It’s hard to decide who to root for, but it’s even harder to put the book down. I made normal progress on reading it, but once I got to a halfway-point twist, I couldn’t put it down and devoured the rest in a day.
Favorite game: “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim”
This one should be no mystery. I barely played anything else this year. “Skyrim” is so immersing and intense that I still haven’t plumbed the depths of the game.
- ¥ It’s complicated: Strategies change with different areas.
- ¥ It’s vast: The map is absolutely huge. I’m still discovering new places as I play, 10 months later.
- ¥ It’s beautiful: The graphics and music sweep me away. The game has caused my Playstation 3 to gank with a yellow light of death several times.
- ¥ It’s utopian: Men and women are truly in equal standing in “Skyrim.” Jarls and generals can be either gender. The player can marry either gender, and no one in the game cares. Males and females are equally as likely to have been adventurers until they took an arrow in the knee. Farming is as easy as pressing a button. Owning houses in five different cities is not only possible, it’s practical. And there are dragons to slay.
- ¥ It’s meme-tastic: Look up “arrow in the knee” or “fus ro dah” and enjoy what you find.
Thanks to some upcoming expansions, I’ll likely be playing this game until 2014.
Favorite internet meme: McKayla is not impressed
Olympic gold-medal favorite McKayla Maroney didn’t like finishing with the silver in the vault, her signature event. Her upturned mouth caught during the medal ceremony said it all.
Then it took off.
People ‘Shopped that picture into a variety of scenes, movies and other places. I loved each one.
But the Internet wasn’t enough. Maroney kept it alive in real-time during appearances on “The Colbert Report” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” She even got President Barack Obama to appear unimpressed. Win.
The ultimate compliment: I actually participated in this meme and ‘Shopped a couple of pics with her in it. I never do that. McKayla should be impressed with that.
Favorite sports event: Drew Brees’ consecutive touchdown record
The Olympics were great, but my Saints pride beat the thrills from swimming or basketball.
When New Orleans Saints quarterback threw a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson on Oct. 7 against the San Diego Chargers, it was his 48th consecutive game with such a score. That broke one of sports’ longest standing records.
It was a great moment to watch, and was a reminder of how Brees has helped change the fortunes of my favorite football team.
The record stands at 54, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is nipping at Brees’ heels with 47 games. Here’s hoping a disaster happens soon, because I want Brees to hold this record for as long as Johnny Unitas did.
Favorite schadenfreude: Fox News after the presidential election
I consider myself politically neutral, but the Republicans as portrayed by Fox News have really soured me to the party. So when years of narrative masquerading as fair-and-balanced news comes crumbling down like it did in the aftermath of the presidential election, it was beautiful to watch.
I giggled as Karl Rove stammered to explain how the network’s own analysts could call Ohio in favor of Obama. I laughed as pundits said the election was about non-whites voting to get free stuff. The hypocrisy, bewilderment and dejection could be savored like an appetizer. It was delicious.
Favorite discovery: A legendary card move may have originated in Joplin
As detailed in “The Magician and the Cardsharp” by Karl Johnson, the elusive center deal may have been created in Joplin. It may have been put to use in the House of Lords and broken the dreams of gamblers who couldn’t spot the mechanics deadly use of it.
Maybe one of these days I’ll learn how to do it.
Favorite moment: Mitchell coming home
I’ll close with something that happened in April: My stepson Mitchell came home to live with us.
He just turned 21 in August, but he’s lived more life than most 30-year-olds. After a particularly rough situation, he moved from Indianapolis into our guest room.
His arrival will be etched in my memory forever.
We agreed over texts to let his arrival be a surprise to his little brother, Duncan. I had an estimate of when he was coming, but didn’t know the exact time.
Geek Central is outfitted with two computers: my beast, positioned by the door so that I can see over the screen into the hall, and Duncan’s, which is stationed on a desk in a corner, so that his back is to the door.
Mitchell let himself in like a ninja. Very quiet for a big kid -- kinda glad I didn’t have to worry about him sneaking out in high school, because I never would have heard him. One second he’s standing right there. I wanted to get up and hug him, but I remembered the surprise we arranged.
Duncan finally turned around and saw his brother, but it didn’t register for a second or two. When it did, he EXPLODED -- he shouted Mitchell’s name and jumped on him.
It was such a great reunion. Those two brothers have always been really tight, and to see them in that moment ranks as one of the best moments in my life, not just this year. I’m honored to be their stepdad.