Thursday, January 06, 2011

2010: A Year in Review

New Year's Eve is a particularly strange holiday insofar as it isn't really a celebration of, well, anything.  When you actually stop and think about it you realize that it makes very little sense.  It's not based on any ancient religious customs, it has nothing to do with celebrating the harvest or any other event that was integral to the survival of our ancient relatives.  It's basically a celebration based on turning a page in a callender.  It's pretty fucking arbitrary.  It's basically like the government declaring a stat holiday on a random Monday in July simply because it was a Monday.  I mean nothing fundamentally changes in your life or in the world at large from 11:59 pm December 31 and 12:00 am January 1.  Basically we are celebrating the linear nature of time.  But I guess New Year's sounds better than Linear Time Day.  And, I mean, what the fuck do we do to celebrate?  What are the traditions typically associated with New Year's celebrations?  There's a lot of drinking, the midnight kiss and the resolutions.  I suppose when you think about it, New Year's is really the holiday that embodies Western culture.  It is devoid of any real meaning or purpose, and it espouses all of our major cultural traditions: sexual promiscuity, excess of alcohol (but really anything) and self-deception.  The only thing it's missing is the consumerism, but that will come in time.  Eventually Christmas and New Year's will be morphed into one Generic Holiday and we can cut out the bullshit and just have a whole week of drunken orgies and excessive shopping and meaningless resolutions.  The future is golden.

As (relatively) meaningless as New Year's Eve/Day is the simple fact remains that another callender year has passed and it is also customary at this time to indulge in at least some small degree of self-reflection and nostaliga and all that bullshit.  So this is my personal retospective on the past year.  Like most years 2010 was pretty fucking boring.  Some people were born, some people died.  Some people fucked, and some didn't.  The economy got better, but not really.  Apparently global warming is still a thing, but nobody (and especially no governmet) really seems to give a fuck, so why should I?  There were some wars waged, some movies made, and some celebrities arrested (looking at you Lohan...).  Nothing really game-changing.  I suppose it's all relative, though.  I mean to me the war in Iraq is an astract concept, but it probably feels pretty fucking real to the soldiers and their families.  Just as finally getting a look at Gillian Anderson's tits (thanks to an article over at after all these years was a meaningful and I dare say spiritual experience for me, but for someone who was never a fan of the X-FILES it was just another pair of milk cannons in the vast (and glorious) porn-factory known as the Internet.  So some of the following events were shared experiences and some were only meaningful to me personally, but probably not for the reasons you'd think.  Let's start off with the high points.


1: Video Games

2010 started out as the Year of Gaming, mostly video but also a lot of board.  I finally got around to getting an Xbox Live Gold Membership so I could indulge in online gaming with friends and angry strangers.  Online gaming is fantastic because it allows me to interact with my friends in a purely virtual manner without actually having to be in the same room as them.  This is the ideal relationship and what I expect will eventually become the norm for the majority of people in the 21st century.  This social structure allows two or more people to come together for a single purpose (ie. killing zombies) so the whole interaction is directed and focused: it allows people to cut through all the bullshit small talk.  It also allows you to interact with people without having to actually be with them, which again streamlines the whole social experience.  You don't have to worry about bringing snacks or what to wear: you can be sitting there in your underwear drinking a mixture of Mountain Dew and milk (I call it an Avalanche) and wearing the same underwear you've been wearing all week and still be taking names and kicking ass in Call of Duty.  There's no pressure to conform, unless it's teabagging, and then all of the sudden you're shunned for some fucking reason.  But anyway.  The best part of the Online Gaming Model of Social Interaction is the ability to end the interaction at any time you want.  Unlike in "real life" when your wife is yelling at you for putting your favourite tie-dyed t-shirt in the wash with the whites or your boss is giving you shit for showing up three hours late for work and you have to deal with the situation if somebody starts fucking with you online you can simply turn them off.  You decide how and when to end the engagement.  It's like having friends who come with an Off switch.  The thing of it is, you don't even need to makefriends.  With most games now you can enter a gaming session with a bunch of total strangers who become your surrogate friends.  Disposable friends.  One use, then you throw them away.  The future is now and it is more beautiful than I could have possibly imagined.

But I digress.  Really the extent of my online gaming was Left 4 Dead and then Left 4 Dead 2.  These games were another High Point for me this year.  I've kind of had a strange obsession with zombies this past little while and these games fuelled that obsession perfectly.  I suppose that there is a growing subculture obsessed with zombies, which makes me that much less unique.  I suppose in some way it offers some validation but for some reason I really wanted my zombie obsession to be less mainstream.  I just like to disagree with people and I will find any excuse to do so.  Anyway.  In keeping with the Year of the Video Game I also played several other games.  The list below includes only the games I completed, not all the games I have simply played:
  • Fallout 3
  • Assassin's Creed 2
  • Bioshock (twice)
  • Bioshock 2
  • Uncharted 2: Drake's Fortune
  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • The New Super Mario Bros.  
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum   
2: Hetersexual Baseball Adventure

Another High Point in 2010 happened in the summer when my family and I went to visit my parents and brothers and sister.   Not the whole visit, mind you.  My family is quite insane and spending any amount of time with them is a practice in masochism and patience (in that order).  During our visit there I was invitd to play on my brother's softball team.  The game itself was fine, we lost, I was one of the better players, whatever.  But after the game we embraced the ancient softball tradition of Drinking our Asses Off.  The softball seemed to be merely an excuse for drinking copious amounts of alcohol, which I have no problem with.  My brother's team had the youngest average age of players by at least ten years ( I was the oldest by far at 28) and so we ended up being the last ones at the field drinking and talking and whatnot.  I don't know how it happened, but I do know that I started it.  As part of heterosexual male social interaction it is important at some point to engage in contests of physical strength in order to establish, in at least an abstract way, "who could kick who's ass."  This is usually theoretical because the only real way to know who could defeat everybody else in a fight is to actually fight everybody in your peer group.  But this is timely and painful and theoretical force is just as useful (if not more so) than actual force. In this case the means used to engage in our heterosexual social interactions was arm wrestling.  The age old art of holding hands, looking deeply into each other's eyes and trying to force the other person's hand somewhere he doesn't want it to go.  Just like prom night.

So we all began taking turns arm wrestlingon the tailgate of my cousin's pick-up truck -the manliest of vehicles- and it quickly became apparent that A) I was beating all of my challengers, B) Holding hands with a bunch of sweaty young men was a lot more fun than I remembered and C) Beer makes me better at everything than everybody else.  It also quickly became apparent that my cousin was the other leading contender for the title of Ultimate Arm Wrestling Champion of the Known Universe and inevitably the crowd began chanting our names.  The inevitable showdown was easily more exciting (and potentially more meaningful) than the Superbowl, the first democratic election in Afghanistan , the invention of cheddar cheese and the 1969 moon landing combined.  The tension in the air was palpable.  As I grasped my cousin Adam's beefy hand and got into position I made eye contact I took a deep breath and settled in for a long and gruelling battle.  Then it began.  We both flexed our massive biceps and an amazing thing happened: nothing.  We were almost evenly matched.  It was obvious from the getgo that this would ultimately come down to a battle of wills.  We remained locked there in battle for what seemed like hours but was probably more like days.  Those days turned into weeks.  Those weeks turned into more weeks.  Through sun and rain we stood locked in battle, like two great Titans vying for the tortured souls of mankind.  Finally I felt it move (not like that you sick bastard).  His hand budged only a fraction of a portion of an inch, but it was the beginning of the end.  With the strength of ten ordinary men and iron in my thighs I wrenched his arm right out of its socket and slammed it down with so much force that it shattered windows and set off car alarms in a twenty kilometer radius.  OK, maybe I remembered it a little differently from how it actually happened.  It could have been only a ten kilometer radius.  The point is I beat everybody from the team who challenged me including some dude with my left hand.  My right arm was sore as shit for the next two weeks, but it was totally worth it to impress a bunch of guys I don't know and will most likely never meet again.

3: Would You Give Me Aural Pleasure?

My third High Point started in April of last year and has yet to end.  I'm talking of course about my podcast, currently titled Cylon Bingo (check out on iTunes, dudes and dudettes).  I say "my" but it was really the brainchild of my friend Adam who basically runs the whole show.  By that I mean he got the equipment (and by equipment I mean the microphone and the lube) and he edits all the episodes together and he maintains a blog about the podcast.  I'm just amazed that we all stuck with it this long and that we put out a ((n) arguably) quality product on a (semi-) regular basis and we have an establised fan base.  This would be the time where I thank all of our fans and urge you to tell all you friends about our witty and insightful dialogue.  I would also like to issue this challenge: for every dollar you send us we will double your contribution.  That's right, double.  Hey, you can make our challenge your New Year's resolution.  If you're like me you're just going to waste you money on a bunch of useless crap anyway, so why not waste it on us?  We're at least as useless as third spatula or a Lady Gaga album or a nipple ring.

4: Maintaining a Consumer Base

Keeping in mind that this list is written in no articular order my fourth High Point would definitely be the birth of my son.  If you've never had kids then you should probably just skip this paragraph because it will probably be as borng as shit and you really have basis for compasrison so you can't possibly understand my experiences on either an intellectul or emotional level.

When your wife is pregnant you bombarded with a whole host of new stupid questions.  Near the top of the list is "Is it a boy or a girl?"  My wife and I both liked the idea of having some kind of surprise and so when we told whatever dickhead who just asked us they would ask us an even more annoying question: "Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?"  What a stupid fucking question.  The more specific question to me was "Do you want a boy?"  This always struck me as a particularly ignorant and insulting question.  It was ignorant because it implied that as a man I somehow wouldn't be complete without a Male Heir to carry on the chauvanistic spirit for the next generation.  It was insulting to society as a whole because people presumed that as a man I somehow valued male life more than female life.  What really surprised me was that a lot of women asked me this question.  I never really thought of myself as progressive in any substantial way (for example my wife still took my last name when we got married) but it seems kind of regressive in regards to gender relations to assume that women want girls and men want boys.  I always told people that I didn't give a fuck about whether there was going to be another dick or vagina in the house as long as he or she was born healthy with no major birth defects.  When my son was born my wife and I finally admitted that we had both wanted a boy and I don't feel the least bit hypocritical because the simple fact is that I wouldn't have been disappointed if we had had another girl instead.  In fact one of our biggest reasons for wanting a boy was simply because we had an awesome boy's name picked out that we really wanted the chance to use it and we still weren't completely decided about our choice for a girl's name.

For those of you who haven't had kids and are still reading this there is no way to describe how it feels when A) Your child is born and B) This is something you wanted.  It is an amazing fucking high seeing your child for the first time and holding him in your arms.  And you'd think that after the first time it wouldn't be as potent.  You'd be wrong.  Seeing my son for the first time was just as emotional as seeing my daughter.  Several months later those emotions have changed somewhat and I have a consult with a doctor on the 25th of January about getting a vasectomy.  Having kids is great, and I highly recommend it to anybody who has legendary levels of patience, enough money to pay for daycare and/or a nanny, a strong gag reflex and stain-resistant flooring.  Don't get me wrong, my kids inject a lot of happiness, but honestly, there's only so much happiness one man can take.

5: Cinema Synergy

In a year of lacklustre movie releases I was blown away by two movies in particular: INCEPTION and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.  These films both resonated with me very deeply for several defferent reasons and one common thread.  INCEPTION was a philosophical manifeto about the cartharsis that comes from accepting one's percieved reality and the importance of that perception over the reality itself.  SCOTT PILGRIM was about navigating one's own feelings of sexual inadequacy when beginning a new romantic relationship with a more experienced partner.  However both, to one degree or another, used video games as a framework for percieving and interpreting reality.  I covered this particular sociological concept as it relates to SCOTT PILGRIM at length (but still didn't say everything I wanted to say) but never really touched on it with INCEPTION.  There's this really great interview that Chris Nolan gave to Wired in which he answers a bunch of questions about INCEPTION, but there was one really significant quote as it relates the idea of video games as a sociological tool.  When talking about the themes of architecture and architects and the process of creation in his movie INCEPTION he says

"I think it’s very analogous to the way people play videogames. When you play a videogame, you could be a completely different person than you are in the real world, certain aspects of the way your brain works can be leveraged for something you could never do in the real world. It was important, for example, that Cobb not be as physically skilled in the real world. And when he’s charging through Mombasa, I think Leo does a tremendous job of slightly differentiating his body language and the way he moves in that world. Of course, that can be based on what he believes of himself in that particular reality, so …"

And when I read that I was so totally pumped because I hadn't really considered it at the time, but the dream worlds in INCEPTION are completely analogous to the worlds created in video games.  When I realized that my theories about the cultural significance of video games were (at least partially) validated by a genius like Nolan I was totally stoked.  I was also somewhat dismayed that I seemd to be insecure enough to need that kind of validation from a total stranger.  Then I had this epiphany that as a self-actualized human being with a moderate level of intelligence and a descent capacity for abstract thinking I don't actually need validation from anyone, not even Chrisopher Nolan (sorry Chris, we'll talk.  Call me...?).


I can't think of quite as many low points or as many.  This is possibly because of my (a-hem) positive attitude towards life but it could also be becuase of a large dose of denial and self-deception.  Either way.

1: Kiss My Flabby Ass

Now I realize that in the grand scheme of the universe and when compared to the vast majority of the population I am in pretty fucking good shape and that any complaints about unwanted body fat would seem like a billionaire complaining about losing $20 (but, like, you know, in reverse). But fuck it.  One of my goals in 2010 was to get in wicked awesome shape but instead I had a net gain of about 10 pounds over the course of the year and I think most of it was unwanted body fat and not lean muscle mass.  I'm in good shape, but I want to be in great fucking shape.  I want to be strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark.  Or maybe the arms off a wookie.  I haven't decided yet.

2: Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter

I admit I've led a pretty sheltered existence and violence and fear are generally concepts that apply to people on the news or in movies. It was a shock, therefore, to experience both of these things first hand when some dude broke into my house the day before my 29th birhday and I ended up fighting him off in the driveway.  I think he technically broke into my house, but I think the door he came in was probably unlocked, and the fight (my first real fight) was me reacting to getting punched in the head by a stranger as I was fleeing my house to get help and the fear was actually more like terror.  There's still a lot about that night I don't know for sure (mostly how I feel about the whole experience) but I do know that it was pretty shitty to be terrorized in my own home five hours before my birthday no less.  Definitely a Low Point of 2010, though thankfully only for me and not for my family who were either gone or sleeping upstairs at the time.

3: For Whom the Bell Tolls

I almost hesitate to mention this after the amazing job the police have done while responding to and investigating my assault, however it was definitely another Low Point of 2010.  I'm referring of course to my now infamous Bike Bell Incident which pissed me off to such a royal degree that I almost considered going down to the cop shop to air my grievences (read: yell at some police officers) for enforcement of nonsensical transportation laws. (You can check out the whole article here.)  And I realized even at the time that it's not the cops' fault, it's mostly the lawmakes and by and large as an upstanding citizen I rely on and appreciate the work that they do.  Especially with all the bullshit going on surrounding the behaviour of the cops during the G20 summit I appreciate their societal contribution even more.  (I am, by the way, on the side of the cops on this one.  Those protesters should have all been locked up.  Unfortunately stupidity is still not technically a crime.)  I hereby formally take back most of what I said (bad) about the police.

So there you have it, my year in review.  You may have asked yourself by now what the fuck any of this has to do with you.  Well literally it has very little to do with you.  I reviewed my own personal perception of 2010 and all of the events described herein have only literal relevance to me and maybe a few people who were involved (lookin at you home break in guy).  However there may be some figurative or metaphorical relevance found in some of the main themes or ideas.  Fuck it though.  My epiphany about no longer requiring validation was not facetious or hyperbolic and Chrisopher Nolan was simply the dick that broke the (proverbial) hooker's (proverbial) pussy.  Self-actualization is not a state of being, but a process.  The truth is that it doesn't matter if you find any of this relevent or not.  When it comes down to it I'm ultimately writing for myself and not anyone else (which explains why I find y own jokes so damn funny).  Ultimately anything you do has to be for you and you alone.  It's not about being selfish (though I am definitely guilty of that most of the time) it's about being self aware (guilty until proven innocent).  It's a fine line to walk, but ultimately it's almost as fulfilling as seeing the tits of a movie star you never thought you'd see.  Epiphanies come in many forms.  Be vigilent.

This one's for you, Scully...


  1. You've neglected all the great blog posts! Perhaps not as high of a point as your podcast but it's a piece of IP that is your own. And they are great posts!

  2. Inception and Scott Pilgrim? Your critique of cinema is appalling at best, but what should I expect from the likes of you?! If you've going to talk about 2010 cinema, it would be a crime not to mention Another Year, The Ghost Writer, 127 Hours, The King's Speech, Black Swan and the Social Network, all of which swipe the floor with your selections, if you looking for more than eye-candy wrapped in teen angst. So sit up straight, get a proper haircut and delve deeper into the movies that have some guts under the hood, not just a nice paint job.

  3. Hey, thanks for writing Anonymous (if that is your real name). First of all my opinions about Scott Pilgrim and Inception are just that - opinions. I happen to believe that they are culturally important films and I think if you sat down and watched them with a critical eye you'd find that even though you may not enjoy them on a visceral level you might still appreciate them in some sort of intellectual capacity (though judging from your post, I doubt you're capable of any kind of critical thinking. But there's alway hope... *cough*). Also, I have yet to see Black Swan, 127 Hours or The Social Network, all films which I'm really looking forward to seeing. The Ghost Writer was very good, but honestly I just don't think it was as culturally sginificant as Scott Pilgrim or Inception. I would ask you not to get angry at me because you are unable to think critically or appreciate a wider range of artistic endeavors.

    As for my "critique of cinema," as yo put it, I think compared to most reviews mine are pretty fucking good. When I review a movie I tend (lately) to explore what I believe to be the cultural signifcance (or lack thereof) of a particular movie and how it fits into the larger framework of society as a whole: how it influences and how it is influenced. I think all the assertions you made in your commen are specious at best and were the result of an emotional response rather than an urge to engage in intellectual debate. Your comment about my haircut is especially damaging to your credibility. It also doesn't help when you simply assert that someone's opinion is wrong, because it makes you look self-righteous and condescening and takes away credibility from anything else you might say, whethr it be valid or not. My opinion about these movies is not wrong: it is MY opinion.

    However, as an aspiring writer one of my ultimate goals is to inspire an emotional response, and so in that capacity this paticular article was a success and I'm glad I was able to enrich your (probably empty) life just a little bit. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you again in the future. (PS: Hopefully those balls you ordered will arrive in the mail soon, Anonymous, and you can give them a try.)

  4. Well, I have yet to actually read this blog post, but I had to check out the comments. AndWell, I have yet to actually read this blog post, but after a conversation with the esteemed author of said blog, I had to check out the comments first. And, much to my contentment, I stumbled across a rather thought-provoking post provided by obviously a well-read scholar, named Anonymous. Firstly, I would like to applaud this individual for so blatantly speaking his mind on a forum of free opinions. And I further applaud his/her courage and fortitude in not only attacking the intelligence of this blog poster, but also calling into question his lack of insight. Secondly, I would like to thank NathaN for a rather amusing response to this outright, if not ignorant, honesty. I will now read the blog post and be back in due haste with my ruling., much to my

  5. After reading this blog post, and laughing out loud on more than one occasion (I especially enjoyed the homo-erotic arm-wrestling experience), I have concluded that Anonymous has obviously suffered through some kind of childhood trauma, which has dulled the faculties, stunted and retarded his physical growth, unsettled his mind, and robbed him of the will power and the ability to compose intelligent thoughts. This opinion may seem a little harsh, but I believe it to be a completely accurate description of this individual and as NathaN has pointed out so eloquently, whether it be valid or not, it is MY opinion.
    At this point, I would like to direct Anonymous to the final few paragraphs of this blog post, during which the author admits himself that everything written has been his own personal perception of 2010 and everything therein has special significance to him. Ingeniously, by inserting this small piece into this post, he has completely protected himself against all discredit and opposing opinion. The author himself has ultimately admitted that most of what he writes is for himself, not for anyone else. In this way, by design or not, he disempowers his readers from attacking him personally. Obviously, like Anonymous, I disapprove of this 100%. If you’re going to present your innermost thoughts and experiences to the rest of us via this glorious porn-sharing interweb, you must allow your readers the ability to feel self-important by disagreeing with your opinions and generally making you feel like a fraking idiot. I mean, this is one of the best feelings in the world: speaking your self-righteous mind while making another human being feel like killing him/herself. God bless this wondrous creation!
    Secondly, this blog post was as far from a “critique of cinema” as possible. In fact, it was more of a footnote compared with the rest of the blog post. I mean, he allotted as much space to his legendary arm-wrestling championships as to his “critique” of cinema.
    Personally, I agree that INCEPTION and SCOTT PILGRIM were both fantastic films in more ways than one, but this blog post was more applying them to his life and relating them to his outlook on the world, than critiquing them. And, Anonymous, while these films may not be as socially important as THE SOCIAL NETWORK, which you no-doubt spout as one of the greatest pieces of cinema to date, they are relevant in their own ways. And, maybe these films don’t have a lesbian scene involving Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis (incidentally, this is my favorite film of 2010), but then again if these movies had a lesbian scene, would you really be arguing? I think not. Furthermore, obviously the majority of the movie-going audience disagrees with you, listing INCEPTION at an astounding 9.0 on and SCOTT PILGRIM as a decent 7.8. But, again, if Mary Elizabeth Minstead and Mae Whitman had actually gotten it on in SCOTT PILGRIM, I doubt we’d even have a problem here.
    As I conclude, I hope Anonymous will continue to post comments such as this, because they allow us all to engage critically, and also allow us to generally insult each other. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?