This year, I learned everything I know about pop culture from Jimmy Fallon. My wife and I watch all the episodes of The Tonight Show now that he's hosting (usually a night or two after they air). My favorite guest has been Jerry Lewis. Not only am I a lifelong fan, but the practical joke he played still keeps Jimmy Fallon scratching his head, I'm sure. I also check Box Office Mojo, Billboard, and EW on a regular basis to stay in touch. Some of this list might reflect releases from late-2013, but who gives a shit?
Of the songs I heard this year, these are my five favorite in order:
"Fantastic Man" by David Byrne and the Atomic Bomb Band. The energy of his live cover makes William Onyeabor's original sound sleepy.
"All the Time" by Bahamas. Love the James Franco commercial.
"Tuesday" by I Love Makonnen. I'll rap this every day of the week.
"I Am a River" by Foo Fighters. No disrespect to Kurt Cobain, but I prefer Dave Grohl.
"Turn Down for What" by DJ Snake and Lil John. From one of my favorite comedies this year, 22 Jump Street.
Play these albums often and loud (fuck you, I list six):
Rock or Bust by ACDC
1000HP by Godsmack (Reminds me of my younger brother's band The-Furnace - shameless plug, I know.)
.5 The Gray Chapter by Slipknot
Turn Blue by The Black Keys
The Hunting Party by Linkin Park
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 by Eminem
An Interlude. I vote Taylor Swift as Entertainer of the Year. Just because I don't listen to (or like) pop music doesn't mean she isn't incredible. She's all over the internet, magazines, TV. She writes her own songs, plays her own instruments. Has a great sense of humor. Isn't afraid to go public without makeup. Stands up for artists' rights. She's the best right now. Simply put.
Since going to the movies with my family becomes a $50+ event, I only go to see huge blockbusters. When I'm in that space, I want to hear and see everything blowing up as loud as fucking possible. My wife and I watch all the artsy/Oscar-shit at home after the nominations come out so we can pause and discuss or throw something at the TV as needed. Here are some I enjoyed in the theatre (no order):
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edge of Tomorrow
Into the Storm
I don't watch TV often. I don't have the time. Also, there are so many great shows to choose from that I find the menu overwhelming. Since I don't have an addictive personality, I'm fine letting all that great programming slip by me. Someday, I'll blog about the greatest shows I've never seen an episode of. You'll be amazed. In addition to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, I watch the following:
The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon is the funniest character I've seen since Kramer.)
The Walking Dead - I struggle with this one. It's jumped the shark. Except for a few standout episodes, the last two seasons have put me to sleep in my recliner on Sunday nights.
NFL Football (every day, all day) - This is at an end, actually. I've resolved to cancel my Sunday Ticket with DirecTV. I'm a NY Jets fan. Enough said.
Bob's Burgers - My little girl asked me to watch this because Bob's bald spot reminds her of mine. I love it.
This was an amazing year for books. Yes, because I published my first novel. What the fuck do you think I'm doing here? Crow Creek sold about 300 copies. I can't complain. I just hope Queensboro sees print this spring. If you're looking for another great first horror novel, pick up The Specimen by Pete Kahle. He won the Kindle award for Horror/Suspense. I also enjoyed My Name Is Marnie by Tracie L. Carbone.
As a member of the Horror Writer's Association, I made plenty of new friends this year. None better than Tom Calen. Check out his Scars of Tomorrow series and start with Torrance. I also want to mention Jonathan Maberry. Not only is he a brilliant author (Fall of Night is his most recent, I believe), but he takes the time to support struggling authors like myself.
Stephen King published two novels this year, Mr. Mercedes and Revival. Although I tend to be harsh when criticizing him, he's still the best, and it's only to his own works that I compare him. Both books are solid. Great characters, thrilling plots. He's our generation's Mark Twain (to paraphrase the late HWA President Rocky Wood).
Finally, Joel Williamson (UNC-CH professor) published Elvis Presley: A Southern Life. I'll post more about The King on January 8th (what would be his 80th birthday), but just wanted to say that this biography does an excellent job of defining the context of his life and work.
Have a great 2015! Thanks for reading.