My Personal Best of Media – 2014 Edition

The Best of 2014 (or: catch up with this blog with this catch-up post)

January 13, 2015
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so, on to the topic at hand: the “Best of 2014″ or catching up . .

wait, catching up on what?

on a year’s worth of my cultural consumption, along with the expected “spiritual connections/insights/thoughts/yada yada” that follow.

that’s right. below are some quick thoughts on my personal “Best of 2014,” so to speak, when it comes to books, music, movies, TV and games . . not necessarily things that even came out last year, btw . . just things that i experienced last year.

and how will you (or i) know that this list is complete and fair? because i’m writing from the hip (pretty much) and limiting each category to two, so if i don’t remember it and include it, it couldn’t have been very important (to me), and, hence, not very “best of” . . in other words, the criteria for getting on this list is simple: did it spring to mind first . .

so here goes:

books

1Q84 by Murakami – a long read, a cool cultural experience for a western reader, definitely worth it . . this odd love story nicely underscores how serendipities are generally more than that and how halves of a whole are just that: halves . . “it is not good for the (hu)man to be alone” . .

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! series – got all four of these kind of on a whim, based on my childhood Choose Your Own Adventure fandom and the fact that i saw them cited as an influence on the Dark Souls games (more on that later) . . my kids and i have made it through book one and are somewhere slogged down in book two at present . . highly recommended for how they emphasize that choices have consequences and extol virtues like wisdom, temperance, courage . . and just because they’re D&D-level awesome . .

music

Lazaretto by Jack White – sure, i’m biased . . i’ve loved the White Stripes for years, have seen the Dead Weather in concert, bought this on vinyl in Nashville over the summer . . but it’s still, objectively, great . . american to the core, it seems to me, somehow . . and full of that same (ultimately spiritual) longing for home that permeates White’s stuff and many other quintessentially american things . .

Hebrews by Say Anything – another sentimental favorite of mine . . i’ll always root for Max Bemis and his (solipsistic yet increasingly upward-looking) drive towards perfection . . is that generations of Semitic dna pushing him? . . i think he thinks so . . whatever the case, he always comes off as a “person of the book” trying to filter it all through music, so i’m game.

movies

The Lego Movie – saw this at least five times between the theater, home, a church movie night . . my kids loved it, my wife and i loved it . . why? . . not only because it’s hilarious, visually amazing and awesome, but because it’s the essence of story told through plastic blocks: an ancient evil, a prophecy, a hero, salvation through sacrifice, a new world . . buh-blam . . i love the gospel cloaked in pop storytelling, just like everyone else.

The Hobbit (3): i’m a longtime Tolkien fan, so this was a no-brainer . . and yet another thing i got into with my kids . . and while i question whether it’s cool to have young kids exposed to such visceral orc head chopping at such young ages, i do not question that it’s good to expose them to the story’s basic, epic morality . . it may sometimes require buckets of (black) blood, but (damnit) good will triumph over evil when the story’s told right . .

TV

House of Cards – this one came to mind first for sure, even in what was a bit of a personal “year of the bingewatch” . . why? because i could watch Kevin Spacey’s calculated, drawly brilliance for hours and hours (and did) . . but, i guarantee, at some point in the future of this show, the house will come tumbling, as it should . . the last word being the key . . somewhere in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes or somewhere back there: “what is done in the dark will be shouted from the rooftops”

Breaking Bad – similar to the previous title in some ways . . awesomely dark, great acting, characters you love/hate/love to hate/etc. . . and since i know the ending of this one (spoiler) i can confirm what i said above in several places: badness, once one breaks to it, has consequences . . for me though, more specifically, i think WW also had a problem with a God complex . . that Scarface/Napoleon vibe that apparently is such a draw for some . . i guess go big or go home, but at the end of the day . . there *is* an end of the day

games

Dark Souls II – i have put a shameful number of hours into the Souls series . . and yes, i try offsetting this by letting my kids “play along” with me, by proselytizing other gamers with its glory, etc. . . but it’s honestly been a lot . . still, i can’t say enough about how great i think the series is . . mysterious and dark and bleak and unforgiving . . and yet, there’s something so primal about struggling from one bonfire to the next, slowly mastering the unknown and becoming part of the story, inching ever closer towards the inevitable resolution, which (to some extent) is in your own hands . . sorry, but i see these games as interactive metaphors for life itself . . and while most creative things to some extent are, this one has just nailed that feeling somehow for me . . the 2014 iteration wasn’t as good as the original, but still a “best of” for sure.

Dragon Age: Inquisition – honestly, this was one of the only other games i played in 2014 . . you know: priorities . . but it’s worth the mention for sure . . DA:I is a deep, engrossing RPG, based in large part upon your choices in dialogue . . to me, this game did what any great game does: it customizes to the player . . my experience will not be yours, because i am not you . . hey, whattayaknow? . . just like life . . still though, i note that even in this metaphor, we’re still playing the same game . . and there’s everything to be said for that.

**fin**

so there you have it: a “Best of,” kind of . .

food for thought, perhaps . . something interesting for you to check out, hopefully . .

and an invitation to more of this blog to come . .

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credit: TheMovieDB.org

Matt Hill has contributed to hollywoodjesus for the past decade, taking on movies, music, books, games and other topics. He writes from Michigan, where he lives with his wife and kids. Visit facebook.com/sundayiam for free music from his sweet, super-secret Christian rock band.

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