They say time flies when you're having fun. I don't know who "they" are (probably those terrifyingly upbeat "glass half full" people), but they nailed it. My 2012 is a blur of exciting times and memorable moments, most of which my lawyers have advised me not to discuss in detail. There's still plenty to talk about, though, and I've shared the highlights below.
TV: Aside from the fact that it's singlehandedly responsible for resurrecting my urge to wear jaunty hats, "Copper" is a damn good show. BBC America's first original scripted series debuted just this year, and it's as sexy and gritty as anything HBO or Showtime can dish up. The first season follows 1860s New York City cop Kevin "Corky" Corcoran as he polices the streets of notorious Five Points and simultaneously searches for his wife, who went missing while he was serving in the Civil War. He's aided in both pursuits by a cast of characters from prostitutes to pedigreed socialites, making "Copper" as much a glimpse into NYC's (fictionalized) history as it is a captivating crime drama.
New-to-me TV: People just must not love me enough if they do something like keep "Sons of Anarchy" from me for this long. In fairness, I don't have cable, but five seasons went by before one of my friends turned me on to this action-packed FX biker drama. That's just rude. I was hooked after one episode, upgrading to Nexflix Instant specifically to catch up on the turmoil of SAMCRO and the Teller-Morrow family. "SOA" is brazen, brutal, smart and absolutely captivating. No, I haven't had access to the new season yet, and yes, I got spoiled on the big Opie upset (my Facebook friends have no tact), but you can bet I'll be all over the first chance I get to marathon it.
Pop culture phenomenon: I still remember the first time I heard Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." My first thought literally was, "Ugh, what is that, a xylophone? Freaking hipsters." Still, as if hypnotized, I couldn't bring myself to reach over and change the radio station. Apparently I wasn't the only one who suffered from this affliction, since it wasn't long before that freaking hipster song was everywhere (and I'm pretty sure the hipsters were long over it for being too mainstream). There were references, parodies and endless covers, and just like that, the song was bigger than that obscure Australian guy that made it. I guess in retrospect it's not that bad of a song – by which I mean it's a more tolerable global sensation than "Call Me Maybe" or "Gangnam Style."
Song: I remember the first time I heard Alex Clare's "Too Close," too. It was attached to Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 commercial. I had to look up what the ad was for (there were, like, tree frogs or something in it), but I remembered this infectious soul/dubstep track perfectly when it popped up on the radio months after the fact. Technically "Too Close" was released in the U.K. in 2011, but everyone knows nothing counts until 'Merica finds out about it. I'll give it credit, though: it's been months now and I still crank it and sing along (badly) every time it comes on the radio.
Concert: My job affords me some pretty stellar work perks now and again, but getting to go to (and review) the Foo Fighters' Marcus Amphitheater show this summer is probably going down in history as one of the all-time great ones. The concert itself was incredible, but it was made that much more meaningful after news got out that the Foo had gone on hiatus. It sucks that they're putting things on hold, but getting the chance to see them live in one of their last concerts before they did was the bittersweet icing on the cake.
Sports: I like Admirals games. Hockey's a nice, fast-paced complement to my Brewers fanaticism during the other half of the year. The game's easy to follow, most of the games I go to end up in a shootout and frankly I just like waiting for fights to break out. It's not a bad way to spend a few hours, and since my birthday coincided with an afternoon home game, I figured I might as well get some people together and take over a block of seats. I went expecting a few good fights, but what I got instead was the best. birthday present. ever.
April 1's matchup against the Rockford IceHogs was pretty tense, but the second period got straight-up ugly (read: awesome) when a fight between Michael Latta and Rockford's Shawn Lalonde set off a bench-clearing brawl that resulted in an extra intermission, 10 ejections (including both head coaches) and a mess of penalties. It took so long to curb that most of the crowd got tired of cheering and just stood there in awe. The Ads ended up losing, but I didn't even care. It was legendary. Check it out:
Movies: It was a great year for good movies. It was also a great year for bad movies, which is almost better, because that means I get to pan the hell out of them. I already rehashed my favorites of each in my roundup blog, but I also want to spotlight a couple of cool indies that popped up on my radar. The first is "Jesus Henry Christ," a cute story about a precocious Petri dish baby named Henry who goes off in search of his biological father. Castmates Michael Sheen and Toni Collette deliver with their idiosyncratic characters, but it's Jason Spevack as Henry that drives this whimsical story of messed-up people finding order in chaos.
The second, "Blue Like Jazz," is based on author Don Miller's semi-autobiography and chronicles his explorations into the nature of religion and spirituality. Don (played by Marshall Allman of "True Blood" fame) gets a shock to his Texas Baptist status quo after a secret about his mother is revealed and, on his secular father's urging, absconds to Portland to enroll at uber-free-thinking Reed College. Here he pursues truth and theology with an eager naivete that balances out much of the rampant atheism that might turn off Christian viewers, but with enough motivation to seek out all angles. It's thoughtfully crafted and sensitively presented, and while I'm not particularly down with the whole religion thing myself, it's a beautiful story of growth, acceptance and universality any theist, atheist, spiritualist or "other" can appreciate.
Book: I put a bit of a book-buying moratorium on myself after it dawned on me that I still have a pretty sizable stack I already own collecting dust on various tables and nightstands throughout my personal space. But, I was at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago picking up a new day planner (I found the exact same one I had for 2011; score) and was inexplicably drawn to the new arrivals display. OK, it wasn't totally inexplicable – it's kind of hard for a stark-white book titled "Assh*les: A Theory" not to draw attention.
I was sold from the get-go, but after reading the book jacket I decided my purchasing "Assh*les" was necessary. In short, it's an intellectual assessment of what it means to be an assh*le, understanding those who are and combating them as much as possible, presented through philosophic rationale by a Harvard Ph.D. I bought it, I read it, and I loved it. To borrow a pretentious adjective I normally hate in this context, it's an important piece of literature.
Milestones: I've done my fair share of what people might call "crazy" things. I even did some of those this year (that time I went skydiving, for example). But, as fun as it is being OMC's stunt monkey, I wouldn't consider this stuff "accomplishments," per se. I did, however, run my first 5K this year – and two more after that – and that's something I'm really proud of. I clocked in at the 2012 Color Run with a 38:12. It's not a phenomenal time by any means, but if you went back in time to tell me I'd spend any of my free time running – for fun – after my high school phys. ed. credits were fulfilled, you'd be laughed right back to present day. And, for better or for worse, I'm not done: this crazy idiot's signed up for a quarter marathon come summer.
Bring it on, 2013.
Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with OnMilwaukee.com, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."
Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.