These are in no particular order, at least until you get to numbers 1-3, which I placed as numbers 1-3 because they deserved it. So it's more like "Here are the three best things from 2012 and the 97 other things that tied for fourth place."
99. John Cheever's collected short stories, especially The Swimmer and the one about the guy who goes to Russia and falls in love with a tour guide. Plus the one told from the perspective of a guy's stomach. I wasn't expecting that.
98. Pre-lit Christmas trees. Maybe it's that the holidays are still going on, or maybe it's that my entire Christmas tree took only 10 minutes to put up. Until they invent one of those Dr. Seuss-style umbrella-esque trees, this is as good at it gets.
97. Code Monkeys, the cartoon, which I watch on Netflix while I clean up the kitchen at night. It combines the thrill (?) of playing an Atari 2600 with juvenile humor (?) and has a guy in a Viking cap who is regularly assaulted by the military pretending to be aliens.
96. The final episode of "Louie" this season, the one where he goes to China. I think it wasn't a dream. But it was beautifully weird.
95. Plants vs. Zombies, the only video game I ever finished, and perhaps not coincidentally the only video game that ever forced people to fight a giant zombie robot on top of a roof by hurling watermelons at the aforementioned zombie robot. If things don't end with a giant zombie robot, they're not worth doing, is what I always say.
Well, I always say that beginning now.
94. The Avengers the movie. IT WAS TOO SHORT. I'd like to still be watching that movie, but admittedly if that was the case by this point I probably would have lost my job. Who can just take five months off to watch a movie all in one sitting? Not me.
93. There was this sandwich place on the Disney walk, the "Earl of Sandwich" that said it had the world's best sandwiches, and it DID. Six months later, I can still remember how good that Hawaiian barbecue chicken sandwich was. Six months later. The nearest location to me now is in Detroit. I am going to try to fly to Detroit just to get a sandwich.
92. The Kindle Fire. I can't imagine how I lived without it. I mean, I can but I don't want to. At one point this year, I was sitting in the ER, being bored, and I finished the book I was reading and downloaded a new one and started reading that one. Downloading books in an emergency room while waiting for a stress test you know won't show anything because you specifically told them you are not having a heart attack! What will they think of next?
91. The book The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From The Periodic Table Of The Elements by Sam Kean. If the title alone doesn't make you want to read it, you are dead to me. Simply the best book I ever read about the periodic table of the elements.
90. The reprint of "Angels & Demons" on Longform.org, a true crime story about the murder of a mother and her two daughters on their first and only family vacation.
THING THAT SUCKS: "Safety clicks" that don't matter. A "Safety click" is a button that pops up asking you if you are really really sure you want to do the thing you just told your computer or phone to do. It's helpful if you are trying to delete something; when I delete a podcast off of iTunes I don't mind if it asks me if I'm sure because I don't want to delete something accidentally. (I do mind that I have to delete and then click something that tells the computer to put the file in the recycle bin, which is a stupid name for the trash, but even more stupid is that once I have confirmed that I want to delete a file, why do I have to tell you where to put it? Take some initiative, computer.
But "Safety Clicks" that don't matter are annoying. When I turn on the wifi on my phone to log onto the internet, it makes me confirm that I really want to do that. WHY? WHAT IS THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN IF I TURN ON MY WIFI? If I accidentally turn on my wifi and walk around with it on all day, the worst possible scenario is that I am a roving hotspot for internet access. I am okay with that. We are maybe about two steps away from a toaster that says "Are you sure?" when I hit the bagel button, which is not something I do because why should only bagels get special toaster privileges?
EVERYTHING I OWN: Stop asking me if I'm sure, really sure, that I want to do that thing I told you I want to do. YES I AM SURE NOW GO DO IT.
89. What I imagine "Candy Corn Oreos" tasted like, since I never actually found them in the store. Ah, well, something to look forward to in 2013!
88. Eli Manning won his second Super Bowl. Anyone who beats Tom Brady -- the only man jerkish enough to call up the head of JPMorgan and tell him it wasn't so bad that JPMorgan gambled away billions -- is a hero in my book. Brady cheated his way into three Super Bowl wins, got caught, and never won one again. Eli Manning = Karma.
87. Happy Endings' "Turkey" Fist Bump. I tried to teach it to Mr Bunches.
86. The Imaginext "Eagle Talon Castle," with dragon and ogre. This is a kids' toy, okay, and it costs $140 for the whole set but MAN IT IS COOL.
85. Bill Barnwell on Grantland. Apparently he was going to be the GM of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but instead ended up writing for a website, which is great for him because, not working for the Jaguars and great for me because I like reading his stuff. Even though all sports writing is nonsense, his manages to be 1% less nonsensey than the rest of the universe's. And while I'm at it.
84. Rembert Narrates The 80s on Grantland, too.
83. Josh Reads/ The Comics Curmudgeon. I used to read this site and then I didn't and now I do again. I like to look at it at the end of the day and let someone making fun of simple things ease me out of my troubles.
82. Regina Spektor's Ne Me Quitte Pas. I bought her latest album because I like about 90% of what Regina Spektor does. The album itself was full of darker, but still lushly beautiful and strangely-exotic songs, but none matched up to this one:
81. Dana Zemack: She's a cartoonist. She's wonderfully good at it.
80. The movie The Cabin In The Woods: I actually almost forgot about this one until I read about it on Rusty Webb's blog, which is not at all a criticism of the movie but instead a demonstration of how cluttered my mind is. I read prior to the movie coming out that the makers had wanted to completely "subvert" (a word I hate) horror movie cliches, and so I was skeptical of the movie, but it was one of the best movies I've seen in ever.
79. John Mulaney: I used to laugh at him when he was on Best Week Ever before they wrecked that show by letting that one gaptoothed guy run it and then took it off the air. This year, I listened to a John Mulaney stream on Pandora a lot, which led me to one of the single funniest stories I have EVER heard:
78. The song Friday, in both the Rebecca Black and the Stephen Colbert versions. Look, it just wasn't that bad, okay? I know it was stupid but was it any stupider than "Jump Around?" Or "Who Let The Dogs Out?" or anything Duran Duran ever recorded except "The Reflex," which was okay,
77. The blog "Hyperbole and a Half." Ordinarily, when another blogger achieves that benchmark of extreme blogging success -- getting a book deal -- I am overwhelmed by jealousy and immediately hate that blogger. But Allie Brosh's weird blog with great illustrations and excellent stories deserves to be wider read than it seemingly already is, and in addition, as soon as she unveiled the news that she was getting a book deal, she published this post and nothing since then, and periodically I check back because while I don't know her, the post is still worrisome. To really get a feel for her best writing, start with the post "Please Stop."
THING THAT SUCKED: Cracked. I used to read this site almost daily, but then, this year... I gave up. How many times can you read the same post over and over and over and over? ALSO: Using the f-word in a post doesn't make it funnier. At least not the 77th time you use it. Somewhere along the lines, Cracked went, in my mind, from cool, funny site to "Blog version of Andrew Dice Clay."
76. The New Yorker's fiction podcast. This was the year I really got into both podcasts, and short stories. This podcast managed to fill both those needs. The best story of them all? Emergency, by Denis Johnson. The story probably deserves its own numbered item on this list, but that would feel like cheating. You can listen to it here, but be forewarned: Listen to it only if you are ready to handle one of the most amazing stories EVER, and feel a little less significant in your own efforts thereafter.
TO BE CONTINUED...