We though we might have some kind of new opening this year, but how can we, the year is the year, and so in an otherwise terrible year in so many ways, for so many people, at least there are books, and television, music and movies. Though not enough, never enough. But here we are anyway, ignoring the rest of the year if only for a moment to share what there is, and what there was, with you, now, totally.
Memoirs that read like essays that read like memoirs and essay collections that read like memoirs that read like fever dreams, flash fiction and everything in between.
Hollywood Notebook/Wendy C. Ortiz, Benchwarmer/Josh Wilker, This Must Be The Place/Sean H. Doyle, Romantic Violence/Christian Picciolini, Belief is its own kind of truth, Maybe/Lori Jakiela
Books by handsome men with facial hair, bearded, and otherwise.
Crystal Eaters/Shane Jones, Loss Angeles/Mathieu Cailler, The Dark Will End The Dark/Darrin Doyle, Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty/Brian Alan Ellis, How To Carry Bigfoot Home/Chris Tarry, Fourteen Stories, None Of Them Are Yours/Luke B. Goebel
Books as collaboration by authors who may or may not have facial hair and/or appear in other categories.
Camouflage Country/Ryan Ridge and Mel Bosworth, Tables Without Chairs #1/Brian Alan Ellis and Bud Smith
And one more by Bud Smith because he's having that kind of year, yo.
F250/Bud Smith (obviously)
The movies we are happy we got to see during a year where we did even better than last year, though still didn't see enough to satisfy our movie Jones.
The End of the Tour, Straight Outta Compton, Ex Machina, Sleeping With Other People, Slo-West, Tangerine, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Brooklyn, Trainwreck, Mission Impossible: VI
Movies we are happy we got to see because our children wanted us to.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl
Movies we are really happy we got to see because our children wanted us to.
Documentaries that jammed.
Life In a Walk, Going Clear, Paper Tigers
Movies so bad, yet so good.
Movies just bad. Sadly.
The Fantastic Four.
The best crafted movies of the year, even if they weren't quite our favorite movie.
Spotlight, Carol, The Big Short
Reboots that left us nostalgic and full of glee and sad.
Star Wars, Creed
The reboot that was not only bat shit crazy, but hands down our favorite movie of the year.
Movies we still hope to see.
Beasts of No Nation, Steve Jobs, The Revenant, Amy, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Room, Sicario
On The Way/Cyn Vargas, Where To?/Dmitry Samarov, I Will Love You For the Rest of Your Life: Breakup Stories/Michael Czyzniejewski
Books we had the pleasure to blurb and hope you have the pleasure to read.
Bottom of the Ninth/Wyl Vilacres, Kinda Sorta American Dream/Steve Karas
Music which we yet again listened to not much of this year, but we still listened to these.
To Pimp a Butterfly/Kendrick Lamar, Something More Than Free/Jason Isbell, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit/Courtney Barnett, Carrie & Lowell/Sufjan Stevens
Music we got to listen to live, which was way less than last year, though we did get to listen to it with the quite lovely Debbie Pritzker, which made it all better.
Bill Joel/Wrigley Field
On the other hand, we did finally make it to the Chicago Humanities Festival. And yes, we did that with the quite lovely Debbie Pritzker as well.
Patton Oswalt/UIC Forum
Also, musical theater, for real.
Pippen, Kinky Boots
Television shows we kept on watching, that was actually good, and we watched a lot of television this year, that got in the way of reading, thinking, and sometimes sleeping, but ultimately made us very happy.
Game of Thrones, Justified, Girls, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, Homeland, Louis, Orphan Black, Rectify, The Affair
Television shows we lovingly re-consumed because our older son said it must be so and annually at that.
Freaks and Geeks
Television shows we lovingly consumed, or continued to consume, because our younger son said it must be so.
Blackish, Fresh of the Boat, The Goldbergs
Television shows we watched because both children said it had to be, no questions asked, and we quite dug them.
Heroes, The Flash, Arrow
New television shows we quite happily consumed.
Bloodline, Daredevil, Catastrophe, Casual, Jessica Jones
Television shows we somehow didn't watch until this year and now can't understand how that was physically possible.
Fargo, The Americans
Television shows we continued to watch, and love, that no one else seems to watch.
You're The Worst, Married
Television shows we watched even they kind of sucked. Okay, there's just one really.
The television show we watch and love so much we are tearing-up now just thinking about it, though that is because we have something caught in our eye, so fuck you.
Possibly the single best scene in any show this year. Just saying.
Soaring debut novels and collections we were quite happy to imbibe on.
Drinking From a Bitter Cup/Angela Jackson-Brown, A Tree Born Crooked/Steph Post, Train Shots/Vanessa Blakeslee, If I'd Known You Were Coming/Kate Milliken, Lungs Full of Noise/Tessa Mellas
Quite terrific books by quite terrific literary citizens.
Zero Saints/Gabino Iglesias, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes/David S. Atkinson
Podcasts we still listen to again and again.
WTF with Marc Maron, Other People, The Slate Culture Gabfest, Serial, StartUp, All Write Already
And new ones we added, and will be happy to listen to again and again.
The Moment, Mystery Show, You Must Remember This
Poetry, or stuff quite like it, which we are proud to say we read more of this year than usual.
How We Bury Our Dead/Jonathan Travelstead, Addicts & Basements/Robert Vaughan, Hustle/David Tomas Martinez, errata/Lisa Fay Coutley, USA-1000/Sass Brown, A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us/Caleb Curtis, In Lieu of Flowers/Rachel Slotnick
CCLaP books we loved without (much) bias.
Twilight of the Idiots/Joseph G. Peterson, Big Venerable/Matt Rowan
Books by Jason Fisk, because he's the Jason Fisk.
Sadly Beautiful/Jason Fisk (of course)
Books we just didn't quite finish by year's end. But we will. Soon. Promise.
My Brooklyn Writer Friend/Greg Gerke, Kill Marguerite/Megan Milks, Single Stroke Seven/Lavinia Ludlow, Scary People/Kyle Muntz, The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic/Jessica Hopper, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Philip K. Dick, Rift/Kathy Fish + Robert Vaughan, Messila/Robert James Russell, Marvel And A Wonder/Joe Meno
And most finally, there are many people to thank for making this a good year in spite of all that has been going on and feels like still will be. And we are most definitely overlooking some, a lot maybe, and we apologize for that, but there you go.
Matt Rowan, Jacob Knabb, Dave Housley, Jason Behrends, Anna March, Victor David Giron, Jason Pettus, Moeses Soulright, Nathan Holic, Ryan W. Bradley, Steve Lafler, Lavinia Ludlow, Rob Funderburk, Greg Olear, William Walsh, John Barrios, Joseph G. Peterson, Michael Seidlinger, Gabino Iglesias, Adam Lawrence, Dave McNamara, Peter Tieryas Liu, Mike Smolarek, Duncan MacKenzie, Jeffrey Barken, Nik Korpon, Andrew Keating, Joseph Bates, Paul Luikart, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Matty Byloos, Naomi Huffman, Brad Listi, Loren Kleinman, Michael Czyzniejewski, Ken Wohlrob, Myles and Noah Tanzer, David Masciotra, Clayton Smith, Mel Bosworth, Benoit Lelievre, Todd Summar, Megan Stielstra, Hosho McCreesh, Catherine Eves, David S. Atkinson, Debbie Pritzker, Peter Schwartz, BL Pawelek, James Yates, Kristin Fouquet, Clayton Smith, Seth Berg, James Goertel, Amber Sparks, Robert Vaughan, Jillian Lauren, Meg Tuite, Robert Duffer, Brian Alan Ellis, Joseph Michael Owens, Angela Jackson-Brown, Keir Graff, Joana Topor MacKenzie, Joanna Shroeder, Johnny Misfit, The Book Cellar, Michael Paige Glover, Jennifer Banash, City Lit Books, Judith Tanzer, Kimberly Ann Southwick, Erika T. Wurth, Leesa Cross-Smith, Brian Gresko, Chris L. Terry, Mark Heineke, Mike Bushnell, Richard Thomas, Adam Tanzer, Patricia Ann McNair, James Tadd Adcox, Sean H. Doyle, Chris Oxley, John Reed, Jerry Brennan, Lauren Becker, Robert James Russell, Brian Gresko, Lori Hettler, Bill Hillmann, Brad King, Shawn Syms, Steve Karas, Barry Graham, David Tomas Martinez, Wendy C. Ortiz, Matt Micheli, Christine Rice, D. Foy, Robyn Pennacchia, Cari Luna, Angela Vela, Rachel Slotnick, Behn Reza, Boswell Book Company, The Mooney's, Eric Shonkwiler, Cyn Vargas, Allison Joseph, Sara June Woods, Steve Himmer, Sara Lippman, Mikaela Shea Fowler, Giano Cromley, Zoe Zolbrod, Tom Williams, Jennifer Pastiloff, Joshua Mohr, Susan Rukeyser, Patrick Wensink, Mark Cronin, BJ Hollars, Amy Guth, Robert James Russell, RA Washington, Davis Schneiderman, Ray Charbonneau, Sam Slaughter, Gina Frangello, Steph Post, Rachel Hyman, Nick Ostdick, John Tribble, Scott McClanahan, Pete Anderson, Jill Howe, Amy Eaton, the Tomaloff's, Susan Messing, Paula Bomer, Wyl Vilacres, Brandon Will, Sass Brown, Melissa Faliveno, Timothy Moore, Christian Picciolini, J. Bradley, Jason Fisk, Gint Aras, Mark Schwab, Yogi Roth, Eric Spitznagle, Ryan Ridge, Lisa Fay Coutley, Tim Kinsella, Jeffrey Pfaller, Dane Bahr, Lee Krecklow, Keidra Chaney, Rob Funderburk, Jonathan Travelstead, Daniel Nester, Shane Jones, Christopher Bowen, Liz Mason, Chris Tarry, Al Kratz, Leah Angstrom, David Olimpio, Jessica Kashiwabara