Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Year in Entertainment

Bonus post today (even though I don't usually post on weekends) because I took most of the week off and I'm procrastinating on doing stuff like cleaning the kitchen or writing. Since the year is winding down, I thought I'd do a year in entertainment post. In a lot of areas, I had trouble getting excited about things, and I don't know if that had something to do with available materials or just my own mindset.

I was looking at my list of reading for the year and nothing really stands out for me (I've read 80 books so far this year). I did a lot of rereading, with a couple of books on the list twice in the same year and quite a number of older books re-read. I discovered Terry Pratchett last year, but this was the year I really started digging into the series enough to appreciate the recurring characters and situations. My main "Ooh, now I want to go back and find more by this author" discovery was Michael Chabon (though I haven't yet got around to getting any of his older books). I started reading the Dresden Files series but seem to have become sidetracked (shiny objects and Terry Pratchett books tend to have that effect on me). Of course, the big book event of the year was the final Harry Potter book, which I loved, but I kind of wish that JK had kept her mouth shut after it was published and not felt the need to yammer on about all the details that weren't in the book. The ending of the book struck just the right balance, telling us the outcome of the important things but leaving room to imagine the rest. No, it wasn't the Dumbledore outing that I objected to. Somehow, the detailed revelation about who Neville married and how they ended up was like a big bucket of cold water poured over me. Not that I had a strong emotional stake in that outcome. It just seemed like an irrelevant detail for an author to set in stone, and it was kind of a boring outcome.

I haven't been able to count ten movies I saw at the theater this year. If there were more, I don't remember them. I'm not sure yet if Stardust or Enchanted was my favorite. I've seen Stardust three times and Enchanted only once, so it's hard to compare. Both are movies that make me happy. I don't think I saw any romantic comedies, unless you count those two as sort of in that genre. I did like the new Harry Potter movie, and that one's my favorite so far of the series, which is odd since that was my least favorite book. There were a few movies that I wanted to see but that disappeared before I could get to the theater (one of the downsides of traveling so much during prime movie season). I'm hoping I can eventually catch them on HBO. Now that I have HBO OnDemand and every possible flavor of HBO, I find myself more likely to wait until the movie's on TV unless it's something I'm dying to see that won't work as well on the smaller screen.

Favorite new shows this season were Pushing Daisies, Chuck and Life. New to me shows that I got into during the calendar year were Mythbusters, Supernatural and Coupling. Meanwhile, I've found myself cooling on a former favorite. I used to be practically obsessive about House. I even have an essay in a book about the series (which is available now). But this season has really turned me off. While the idea of House playing "Survivor" to hire a team was clever in concept, after a while it got really old (I don't enjoy Survivor-style reality TV, so I don't like it invading my scripted shows), and the final choices managed to be the candidates I liked the least (bring back Cut-Throat Bitch!). Then the other characters I liked took a major back seat and inexplicably switched medical specialties (memo to the writing staff: while writers can easily switch among genres, changing medical specialties requires years of additional training, so an intensivist who's done a fellowship in diagnostics can't just go become a surgeon, and an immunologist who's done a fellowship in diagnostics is not going to become a senior attending in emergency medicine). As proof that it's not just me being cranky, when they've shown older episodes as strike filler, I've been far more engrossed in episodes I've already seen than I have been in new episodes. I'm thiiiiiis close to giving up on the series entirely. Unless it takes a post-strike turn for the better, in my happy fantasy land the series will end at the end of season three with the fellows all moving on and House left alone and coping.

I'm starting to wonder if my writing essays is some kind of jinx to a show. Every time I've contributed to a book about a current series, the series has taken a nosedive in quality right around the time the book comes out. Maybe I shouldn't agree to participate in the Supernatural book. Or else it has nothing to do with me, and they decide to make a book when the show is at its creative peak, so that it's gone downhill by the time the book comes out. I do have hope that Battlestar Galactica is back on an upswing after a shaky season with a mindblowing ending.

I've also noticed that I'm less drawn to discussing the shows I'm into now. Discussing TV was one of the main reasons I got online in the first place and how I've met some of my best friends, but I don't have that much to say about most of what I'm watching now. Pushing Daisies isn't something I want to poke at and analyze. I just want to watch it and take it as it is. I can discuss Supernatural with select people, but open forums can get a bit weird because, apparently, you're kind of expected to choose a side and see the whole show through the lens of which brother you side with, and I don't have much patience with that. Theoretically, this should free up more time for writing, but if I get bored enough or desperate enough for procrastination, I'm sure I'll find something to say about something.

I can't really talk much about music because I don't listen to much new stuff. The closest I came to that was finding The Puppini Sisters (a recommendation from a reader), but though their CD is new, their music certainly isn't. I did love Josh Groban's newest CD (the non-Christmas one, though the Christmas one is also lovely). I'm afraid I'm kind of a fuddy-duddy when it comes to music these days. I almost exclusively listen to musical theater, classical, old jazz and Celtic/traditional/folk music.

So, in general, let's hope I'm less grumpy next year and find more stuff that knocks my socks off. Feel free to share recommendations.

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