Thursday, August 10, 2017

Best of 2016, Not from 2016, in August 2017

"Where's your annual, anachronistic round-up of the best things from 2016, not from 2016?" nobody asked. I actually got about half-way through writing this a while ago, before realising how much of a waste of time it was and deleting it. So now I had to waste more time writing that half again. Yes, I do have work to be doing. You knew this would happen, Dave. What have I ever done to you? Apart from all the self-destructive life choices. We've got cats now, things are getting better.

Here are my favourite things I experienced last year that probably weren't made last year, because that's just one of the many years available from history and we can't all have experienced it all the first time around.

~ Best Album of 2016, Not from 2016 ~

Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Penguin Cafe Orchestra (1981)

I already wrote about how my childish taste has largely turned to old man taste when it comes to easy-listening music. This second release by ambient chamber jazz ensemble Penguin Cafe Orchestra was easily my most listened-to album last year, providing versatile background music whether I was washing the dishes or writing about unpleasant dental surgery.

After that, my other most-listened-to, new-to-me albums were Rush's non-instrumental, non-ambient, guitar-driven Grace Under Pressure (1984), Yes' overly dense and complex Relayer (1974) and Clan of Xymox's electro-drum-groovin' self-titled LP (1985). But they undermine that whole argument, so forgot about those.

~ Best Book of 2016, Not from 2016 ~

Virginia Woolf, The Waves (1931)

I've already talked too much about my actual favourite "book" from last year, Alan Moore's Providence (2015–17). But since that was partly released in 2016, which goes against the spirit of this, and wasn't complete until this year anyway, I get to look more cultured by promoting this vintage second favourite up to first place. Though it'll be at least 30 years before I feel like knuckling down to it again.

~ Best Film of 2016, Not from 2016 ~

Powaqqatsi (1988)

Luckily, I didn't watch many new-to-me films last year (or any new ones), so I get to look misleadingly arty again by choosing an avant-garde documentary about foreign cultures.

This was my favourite of Godfrey Reggio's 'Qatsi' trilogy (Koyaanisqatsi (1983) is alright, but dated; Naqoyqatsi (2002) is unbearable and embarrassing) and the one I was most interested in watching, since I was already familiar with it through Philip Glass' soundtrack and wanted to force a more pleasant mental image every time 'Anthem, Part Two' comes up in my work playlists than Jim Carrey going round and round in a revolving door in The Truman Show.

I watched some normal films too. Under the Skin (2013) and Melancholia (2011) were nice in a horrifically bleak way. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) was just nice.

~ Best TV of 2016, Not from 2016 ~ (Updated)

Taskmaster (2015–)

I forgot about this modern comedy classic when I first published this blog. I guess there's a reason people are usually punctual with these lists. This is a current series that's still going, but it counts because I started belatedly at the beginning and binge-watched the first two series in 24 hours while waiting for the third.

It had been a particularly bad weekend before that, when I'd finally had enough of dealing with the most stressful work of my freelance career yet and quit in a temper tantrum. Watching Tim Key violently emptying a bath and Joe Wilkinson going from elation to crushing disappointment when his potato-in-one got disqualified were just what the doctor ordered.

Otherwise, new Black Mirror, Better Call Saul, Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle and that one Inside No. 9 episode were the best new things. Westworld scratched my Lost itch and new Red Dwarf and that one good X-Files episode were fine. Angel (1999–2005) was probably the best new-to-me series I got around to last year. There weren't many, since I spent most of it educating the wife on old favourites / wasting her life too.

~ Best Game of 2016, Not from 2016 ~

Goat Simulator (2014)

I'm really not much of a gamer, unless I'm going through a Dizzy phase or something, but when I inherited my wife's old phone, I found a few fun distractions to give my eyes something to do while my ears listened to audiobooks. This was the most entertaining and engrossing one, at least for one heavy-duty weekend before I unlocked everything and the novelty wore off.

After being disappointed by various unimaginative, money-grabbing Android card games, I also enjoyed Cthulhu Realms (2015) for a few days while going through a Lovecraft phase in December–January. Then I left my phone in a taxi or pedicab during a panicked vet trip and the fun and games ended.

~ Best Seasoning of 2016, Not from 2016 ~

Cumin (~2000 B.C.–)

It's bloody nice, isn't it? Only problem is, I think my taste buds have adapted to it like the Borg, it doesn't have the same impact any more.

~ Best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Classic) ~


In a shock decision that's sure to go down in infamy, the coolest (but rudest/crudest) Turtle has overtaken the one that does machines for the first time! He certainly had more personality, though not to the annoying extent that the party dude did.

This is almost certainly just because I've been reminded that I once considered Raphael/Rafael to be a candidate name for a potential son, and was irritated that the TMNT franchise hasn't been allowed to die down to the extent that doing so would be considered socially acceptable rather than child abuse. Especially if I was planning on dressing him like that.

What were your favourite etc?

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