Patrick currently resides deep in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. He sucks at sports, can't play any musical instruments, and suffers from crippling anxiety. In his spare time, he can be found trying to beat his best score at Ms. Pacman or passed out on the couch after a tiring day of Law & Order: SVU reruns. His favorite things include television, music, and comedy. He dislikes almost everything else, especially the Tori episodes of Saved by the Bell.
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As another year circles the drain, I brace myself for that week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when all the highly opinionated folks with internet access publish their pretentious lists of the year’s best. Well, I’m no different.
Best Album: The Kills, “Blood Pressures”
The Kills have spent the last few years on my radar, but 2011 solidified them a spot in the “Best Rock Duos” wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that exists in the caverns of my mind. The album’s opening track, “The Future Starts Slow,” has been hailed as the sexiest song of all time by at least one person; me. At their live shows, the swaggering frontwoman, Alison Mosshart, oozes an energy on stage that I haven’t seen since, well, ever.
Runner Up: Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Watch the Throne.” Yeah, hip-hop. It’s still around.
Best Period Piece (Television): Boardwalk Empire
It was a monumental year for the residents of Atlantic City (their 1921, our 2011). Nucky Thompson shot some Irish-made grandfather clocks, Jimmy Darmody traded in his college sweaters for some fornication time with mom, Lucy Danziger got a record player, Richard Harrow embraced a creepy lifestyle of scrap-booking happy families from fancy 1920 magazines, oh, and all hell broke loose. The second season reached its zenith with a tense final moment betwixt Nucky and James; only one man was left standing, and spoiler alert, it was the guy who sullenly parades around the beach during the opening credits.
Runner Up: Game of Thrones. HBO’s other show with incestuous undertones, aka Sex and Swords.
Best Period Piece (Film): X-Men: First Class
After the dust settled on the messy X-Men: The Last Stand and the disastrous Wolverine solo adventure, the mutants go back to their roots with a romp through the suave and sexy Don Draper-ish days of the early 1960s. Charles Xavier still had hair, functional legs, and canoodled with a pre-Rebecca Romijn (sans Stamos) Mystique. Life was great, at least until the conniving Kevin Bacon got involved in world affairs and this other little thing called the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Runner Up: Captain America: The First Avenger. What did you think I was going to say, The Help?
The Best Waste of my Time: The Walking Dead
Oh, I have never been so annoyed with an ensemble of television characters, but yet I still watch them befuddle their way through a zombie apocalypse on a weekly basis. I suffered through all 74 episodes of Heroes, so what’s the harm in seeing The Walking Dead through to the end?
Runner Up: The Black Keys, “El Camino.” In 2004, their opus “Rubber Factory” was released. Everything that has followed has failed in comparison. Yet, I still stick around.
The Best Pregnancy: January Jones, in real life.
She may be best known for her role as the insufferable Betty Draper on Mad Men and countless pictures of herself walking dogs on a Google image search, but in 2011, someone knocked up January Jones. The world, or probably just myself, had watched the story unfold as if it were moments from a well-scripted drama. I was there for every tabloid photo of January at a Taco Bell drive-through window and every gossip-column guessing game of who the baby daddy might be. The world still doesn’t know, but I’m secretly hoping it’s a grown-up Glen Bishop.
Runner Up: Connie Britton’s character on American Horror Story. There’s nothing more dysfunctional than being pregnant with twins from two different daddies, and one’s a teenage ghost. Coach Taylor would be so proud.
Best Comedy (Television): Community
The best thing that has ever happened to college since the inception of online classes. The series has managed to breathe life back into network television comedies that has been notably absent for several year now. They have even found a way to make celebrity guest spots memorable again, like John Goodman as the Vice Dean of Greendale’s Air Conditioning Repair School and Michael K. Williams’ turn as a fresh-from-prison biology professor. If NBC kills this show, I’ll be sure to make Whitney Cummings’ life miserable until the end of days.
Runner Up: Parks and Recreations. Suddenly, Rob Lowe is relevant again.
Best Podcast: Who Charted?
Howard Kremer, sexy sidekick Kulap Vilaysack, and a weekly guest keep us informed on what’s hot on the charts ranging from movies, music, and everything else in between. It’s not so great being an insomniac, but these two have lessened the blow. One night, I stayed up all night listening to a backlog of episodes. The next day sucked, but it was comforting to know that Rihanna was having a great year, chart-wise.
Runner Up: WTF with Marc Maron. Could have ranked higher, but it was lacking one important element: Kulap Vilaysack.
I can’t think of a better way to spend my day off than with a marathon of NBC’s Community. I always felt a personal connection to the series because it always reminded me of my own foray at a junior college. It was nearly ten years ago that I first stepped foot onto my alma mater (can I call it that if I never even graduated). I was fresh off the high school assembly line, which I often look back on and refer to as, “The most glorious and wasted years of my life.” To me, high school was a time when I was encompassed by a world of tomfoolery and drug experimentation, both recreational and the kind that treated acne. After graduation, the next logical step for me was college; the community kind.
The beauty of Community is that my opinion of the series was prophetically imagined in my recently rediscovered college essay, “Why I Chose to go to Community College,” that curiously also included a paragraph drawing from that episode of The Cosby Show where all the men fantasized they were pregnant. I was either really ahead of my time or doped up on a cocktail of various acne treatment medication.
To quote myself from a decade ago, “There is a subtle and hidden context behind the title ‘community college.’ With students of all backgrounds, genders, race and age it is truly a melting pot of the community we live in. There is even a lawyer in one of my classes who is studying to become a computer programmer!” The amount of enthusiasm I displayed for sharing classroom space with a lawyer is how I envisioned the fictional study group of Community felt when Jeff Winger first strolled into the classroom. Looking back, I now wish I included a blurb of the Federal Express worker who used his lunch break to take that Accounting class. There is nothing more magical than seeing a man in a package delivery uniform crunching numbers in one of those small and uncomfortable desk slabs that are connected to the chair.
The following sentence was most likely a work of fiction due to my irrational fear of authority figures, “The professors and staff are so helpful and accessible, you can even eat lunch at the same table in the cafeteria with the Dean of Students!” Again, I’m overcome with excitement; this time over the mystical Dean of Students. I don’t even remember what he looks, frankly, I’m not sure I ever even knew what he looked like. Instead, I find myself imagining Dean Pelton, flamboyantly eating a grilled cheese sandwich across from me at a cafeteria booth and trying to convince me to participate in a KFC branded space flight simulator or something.
Then I go on to describe my eagerness to work on a project with a group of strangers, “Recently, my Sociology professor randomly paired us with students and asked us to discuss our differences and similarities. For example, there was one student named Sally who was much older than me and also happened to be a woman. These were the obvious differences, but we both share a birthday in the same month and like the new Kiefer Sutherland show, 24.” Sally was clearly my own version of Pierce Hawthorne. She was old, probably useless, but she served her purpose, which was occasionally bonding over fictionalized accounts of international terrorism. She may have had me beat in the “old and wiser” department, but she sucked at trying to save files onto a floppy disk.
Now how does Bill Cosby fall into all of this? Well, Greendale alma mater Luis Guzman wasn’t the only celebrity to attend community college, my extraordinary research skills uncovered that William Henry Cosby, Jr., was also an attendee of one. I’m guessing I included this tidbit to earn myself some street cred; that and I was a few paragraphs short of fulfilling my three page requirement. My closing argument to that matter, “Who knows, perhaps if Cosby was never inspired by the close-knit educational experience that is often received at community college, we may have never witnessed a very pregnant Cliff Huxtable complain to Clair about back pain.” I guess classic sitcoms do serve their purpose in higher education, just ask Abed and the class he signed up for that was an in-depth analysis of Who’s the Boss.
I’d love to post the whole essay, but now I’m worried about being retroactively accused of plagiarizing something from the internet; or as Sally called it, the surfing hideout on the fancy calculator machine.
The frozen pizza reviews by Leonard from NBC’s Community are reminiscent of any food-related critique I have ever made. Whenever it comes to food, especially pizza, it’s always simple; like, “the cheese is good.” Often times I won’t even use words. I’ve been asked how an entrée was by a food server and just nodded my head in the yes position. To paraphrase the wisdom of Homer Simpson, “Can’t talk… eating.”