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Out of the Doorway, the Tentacles Stretch: 2009 in Review

December 31, 2009

So.  31st of December.  End of the month.  End of the year.  End of the decade.

Like everybody else on the planet, I’m looking back on the year and thinking about what I loved, what I didn’t.  So for anybody out there who has an inkling of interest, here are the things I reckon I’ll remember about 2009 in terms of movies, music, television, literature and culture in general.  And although it’s numbered, these aren’t in any particular order.


10. Prawns
Not real ones. I discovered those years ago. Rather, the prawns, or aliens, of the nifty sci-fi flick District 9.  I guess, in many ways, this has been the year in which I have fully embraced science fiction (more on this below), and one of my favourite forays into the genre was this low-budget, but fantastic, film.  From its unconventional storytelling method (pseudo-documentary which morphed into a straightforward action style as the film progressed) to the outstanding visual effects in a dirty, gritty environment, it really captured my interest.  It was an all-round achievement, in my opinion, and one of my favourite films of the year.

9. Catching the “Pollination Yellow Cab”
Vampire Weekend: upbeat, quirky, and… just a little bit weird.  My first new discovery in music for the year, they continually returned to my iPod playlist throughout the year, spreading their fun music and generally perplexing lyrics through my days.  Aside from being one of the first bands I’ve ‘discovered’ for myself, part of the reason I love them is that they’re so different from anything I’d listened to before.

8. G[l]eeking Out
I often debate with myself whether I would consider Glee to be a guilty pleasure, and in the end, I usually give up the argument and just kick back and enjoy it.  As a fan of musicals in general, having a weekly fix of singing and dancing is a real joy.  The show has its flaws, but it succeeds in what I take it for: light and inherently frivolous entertainment with some nice laughs, a feelgood tone and energetic show numbers.

7. Pretentious Russian Literature
After a one and a half year effort, I finished Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace.  I can’t be dishonest and claim I loved every page, but it was such a different literary experience.  The extraordinary cast of interweaving characters, the enormous scope, the attention to historical detail.  There is a reason this book is a classic, and I’m glad I stuck with it.  And I’d be inclined to read it again – give it fifty years or so.

6. “Something More Manly… Like a Trident… Or a Beard”
I’ve embraced my inner (or, perhaps, outer) nerd this year, and a prime example of this is the web-series The Guild.  Centred on a group of online gamers, and featuring delightfully odd characters and abundance of quote-worthy lines, the show quickly established it amongst my favourite things of the year.  Oh, and there was a hilarious music video to boot.

5. The Zombie Apocalypse
Humans vs. Zombies.  4 day long game of tag with nerf guns, played out between classes on the university campus.  The awesomeness speaks for itself.

4. The Really “Shiny” Stuff
It’s practically criminal that I only got around to watching Firefly this year.  This space western instantly captured my imagination – its fascinating cast of characters, unique take on the sci-fi genre, quick wit.  It’s a shame its lifespan was so short, but I’m sure its 14-episode season will get much repeated viewing in the future.

3. Wielding the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment
If you are so unfortunate as to have never played the card game “Munchkin”, you are missing out.  Marketed as ‘Dungeons & Dragons without all that pesky role-playing stuff’, the game sees you take on ferocious beasts wielding weapons such as the Mace of Sharpness and the Kneecaps of Allure.  One of my favourite things about the game is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, which makes slaying the Gazebo and the Enraged Potted Plant that much more fun.

2. “I am Haunted by Humans”
The namesake for this blog, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief made an incredible impact on me this year.  Narrated by Death, and following the life of a German girl during the early years of WWII, the premise is intriguing.  It’s both harrowing and beautiful, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and it’ll haunt me in the best sense of the word.  It is Zusak’s unconventional style and ability to paint vivid concepts with straightforward words are what really made the novel one of my favourite books. 

1. “Beautiful, Quivering, Chivalrous Shambles”
Elbow.  This British group is probably my favourite thing of the year.  Their music is unique and evocative, and their experimentation with different styles and sounds is always exciting.  And as a lover of words, their lyrics, which border on poetry, were what clinched them as a frequent occupant on my Most Played list – and I have a feeling they’ll stay there for a long time yet.


So there you have it, my favourite things of the year.  Share any of my favourites?  Have any you think I have outrageously omitted?  Expound away in the comments!

Title credit: “The Bones of You”, Elbow

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 8:58 PM

    Green tea.

    This year I got into green tea. It saw me through many an essay and I think it a drink that will continue for many years to come.

  2. January 16, 2010 8:39 PM

    Ezra, Elbow, Glee, and Zombies.
    Your summary of oh-nine is right on the money. : )


  1. A Punctual Look At: The Best of 2009 « Thank You For Your Thyme

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