Best Of 2018: POLITICS

Politics can be Man’s highest calling or the dirtiest business known to Man … and sometimes it can be both. In 2018, we saw the heights (and depths) to which politics (for Man is a Political Animal) can ascend (or descend) to. Indeed, this was a whirlwind year for domestic, international, and local politics. In the political arena, each citizen has a voice — and during 2018, all our voices were raised as one, together in an American chorus, singing that old familiar tune: DEMOCRACY.

It’s pretty interesting, when you think about it: Politics is the art of the possible, and any citizen can make a name for him- or herself by entering politics. Does that mean the art of the possible lies dormant within each of us? Sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. And that’s why, no matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, at the end of the day, we’re all Americans and we love politics … because who knows what’s possible? Everybody can get along if they have the same values.

So in the spirit of Democracy, let’s put aside our partisan difference, come together, and cast our ballots unaminously for the TOP TEN POLITICAL STORIES OF 2018:

10. Stunning political developments

9. Political outreach

8. Bipartisanship

7. Voting

6. “According to my thesis, the tax cut plan will effect the economy in many ways”

5. Let’s put aside our politics

4. (TIE) “The President will make an announcement” / House of Representatives on C-Span

3. Can we find a solution?

2. Inspiring political stories

1. “Ask not what about your country” 

Best Of 2018: TELEVISION

From breaking news to prestige cable dramas, if 2018 was the Year Of The Television, then what a year it was! Television is, more than ever, how we connect with each other, all of us cast as recurring characters in the syndicated episodic series known as life … the most expensive show ever made, because it literally costs as much money as all the money currently in existence! (Just being silly while I kick of my lists, but it’s interesting to think about.)

In all seriousness, the TV Industry continued to show strong signs of growth this year. We saw industry leaders like CBS and FOX repeatedly make gains, while upstarts like NETFLIX and ROKU elevated a once-humble medium into a cultural and commercial juggernaut. Artistic boundaries were expanded, even while bedrock principles remained steadfast: “Entertain the audience;” “Let’s use TV cameras;” “If we can get a new commercial sponsor, our show will be profitable.” 

BestOf2018_television

Some say we are living in a Golden Age of Television. After giving this my full consideration, I tend to agree. Think about it: Some TV shows are even more complicated and frustrating than movies, while other TV shows help us see outside our own experience so we can understand what it’s like to be somebody we don’t want to be. All these elements add up to a new era defined by something I have decided to call Televised Excellence. We shouldn’t take this new era (“Televised Excellence Era”) for granted … because if we do, it might slip through our fingers — like a remote control when our fingers are greasy from eating POPCORN!

Let’s celebrate the year that was in Television without any further commercial interruption. Here are the TOP TEN TELEVISION SHOWS OF 2018:

10. Sci-fi shows

9. Sitcoms

8. Murders

7. Live televised events

6. (TIE) Incredible dramas / Shows about animals

5. Educational programming

4. High-budget shows

3. “Did you see that TV show everyone’s talking about?” “Yeah it was pretty good.”

2. Binge-worthy shows

1. The Emmys

 

10th Anniversary Of My Year-End Lists: A Comprehensive Essay

PROLOGUE TO MY ESSAY: “AN ARCHIVE OF MY LISTS”

Here are my year-end lists for each of the past ten years:

Best of 2008

Best of 2009

Best of 2010

Best of 2011

Best of 2012

Best of 2013

Best of 2014

Best of 2015

Best of 2016

Best of 2017

(For each page, read from the bottom up)

PART 1 OF MY ESSAY: “WHERE WE’VE BEEN”

Simple question: Do you remember what you were doing ten years ago?

Another simple question: Ten years ago, did you change the world?

I’m proud to say that I can — and always will — answer “Yes” to both these simple questions.

Simply put, ten years ago, in December 2008, I began a tradition unlike any other. A new tradition that has since stood the test of time, gone toe-to-toe against other traditions … and left them gasping for air with blood streaming out of their noses. A tradition that has made the internet a better place than ever before.

Ten years ago, I started my year-end lists! 

BestOf2018_tenyearbadge

I must admit that I did not invent the tradition of year-end (sometimes called “year-in-review”) lists. Indeed, I have admitted this before, in a now-classic essay on the matter that I wrote exclusively for my web site. However, in the ten years I’ve been making these lists, I have elevated this humdrum practice into a higher form of intelligence. In fact, I have yet to see ANYONE or ANY PUBLICATION do a better job than the job I am doing when it comes to summing up the highs and lows of a year via lists.

BestOf2018_sickOnion A.V. Club year-end lists? Forget about it. They SUCK

Time Magazine year-end lists? Funny you should ask: They SUCK

Pitchfork Music Website year-end lists? Press “mute” on your speakers …. because they SUCK

New Yorker Magazine year-end lists? Don’t make me laugh … or even SICK … because they SUCK

New York Times year-end lists? Hmm, so I guess you wanted to see me barf after all

In fact, I would put my WORST year-end list up against a major publication’s BEST year-end list and wager my list would come out on top. That’s how confident I am in my lists.

It feels good … to make something you’re proud of. And therefore it feels good … for me to make my lists.

PART 2 OF MY ESSAY: “WHERE WE ONCE WERE”

“Has it already been ten years?” Think about how different our online world was back in 2008. There wasn’t youtube probably. And twitter maybe had started but wasn’t as popular as it is now. Facebook was around, but who cared? Same with Roku (TV) and iPhones (Apple computer phone). Blogs were the king of content, and many bloggers looked to me as a game-changer. (Granted, this was not simply due to my lists; there was also a general excellence factor that I was happy to promote and embody.) It was within this media ecosystem that I began my lists in 2008, with a simple list of the BEST FOODS OF 2008:

1. Broccoli
2. Cheese
3. Flour (I was loving flour this year!)
4. Beets
5. Eggs
6. Popcorn
7. Yams
8. Spinach
9. Ice cream (DUH! Still one of the greatest foods)
10. Animal legs

 Things only got better from there, as I spent the next DECADE paying close attention to every element of society, culture, politics, trends, and the human experience in order to definitely quantify them at the end of every year. With ironclad judgment and a brilliant mind, I was able to transform the overwhelming, unmanageable chaos of reality into easily digestible lists that could be read exclusively on mnftiu.cc (my web site). And that, my friends, is wonderful … I don’t need to put it on a list, you know it’s true in your gut.

For example, take a look back at this list of the BEST PALINDROMES OF 2012:

10. “Obama, mama I’m mad-O!”

9. “Boehner’s taxes ax a hen’s orb”

8. “XEROX AN OX AREA”

7. “2012’s sis is 2102″

6. “Olympics legend dealt gel to pics o’ Mylo”

5. “Lady Gaga is googoo for Coco Puffs, a gag ydal”

4. “Mars Rover drove to rams over Ma’s oven”

3. “POOP”

2. “Kim Kardashian annihilates darkish milk”

1. “Joe Biden is just bidin’ his time”

Reviewing this list now, we notice that the entire year of 2012 has been simply and elegantly captured in these palindromes which can be read backwards and forwards.

PART 3 OF MY ESSAY: “WHERE HAVE WE GONE AND WHERE ARE WE GOING”

imagesAs I have proved above, my lists are the best. It has been said by poets and historians that “The Best Will Someday Not Be The Best Anymore,” but it’s my hope and intention to prove that false in the highest degree. How will I achieve this? By continuing to bring my readers the highest-quality lists on any media platform, without fear and without favors, focused only on celebrating the best elements of each year (in a given category that will be the focus of each respective list). “Have I got your attention? Good. Now PAY ATTENTION EVEN MORE” because what I’m going to say may surprise you: I have no intention of stopping or not doing my lists every year. I realize that these lists are a holiday tradition unlike any other, an extreme form of joy and release for many of my readers — perhaps even you! A wise man once said, “With great problems come great responsibilities,” and since the problem of my lists are that they are so enjoyable, the responsibility that I have is, simply, to make more enjoyable lists.

Why is this significant? Because we live in a world of flux. A world of change and disruption. What is here today, may be “gone tomorrow.” Amidst this every-flowing landscape, my lists will stand tall, like cliffs above a churning sea. 

And so, without any further ado, it is my great pleasure to once again bring you my year-end lists!

Sincerely,

David Rees

“The King of All Lists”

 

Best Of 2017: ANIMALS

Humans, it is often said, are animals. And whether this statement is true or false, we can all agree that humans share a lot in common with many animals. Perhaps no year has been more animal-centric than 2017. After all, this was the most recent year for all of animal life — including humans (or not)!

From baby zoo animals that became internet memes, to the oldest animals who still kill humans and hunger for their flesh, this was a year for all animals … or you could even say, “All creatures great and small.” And yes, Virginia, a creature is a type of animal.

So let’s visit the zoo and howl at the moon while we celebrate the TOP TEN ANIMALS OF 2017!

10. Pretty good animals

9. Animals that make the nightly news

8. Celebrity pets

7. Animals that do a nice job

6. Glamorous animals with a hint of danger

5. Gigantic animals

4. Animals that are soooo cute

3. “That (thing) is my spirit animal”

2. Animals we love

1. Some of the best animals

Best Of 2017: TURTLE PAPERWEIGHTS

bestof2017_paperweights

Years come and go, as surely as ever. But whether it’s 2016 or 2017, one thing is sure: Papers are at risk of blowing away. And this is why — no the matter the year — we must use paperweights. And if we’re being honest, using paperweights is akin to celebrating paperweights. And since celebration is what my lists are all about, is it any wonder that the time has come to make a list of the top ten turtle paperweights? (I’m assuming we all agree that when it comes to paperweights, there is simply nothing better than a paperweight that looks like a turtle, whether by accident or by design.)

And so we raise our glasses high, yell a grand “huzzah,” secure our papers from blowing away, and celebrate the TOP TEN TURTLE PAPERWEIGHTS OF 2017:

10. Mediocre turtle paperweights

9. Paperweights that really look like turtles

8. Heavy brass turtle paperweights

7. (TIE) The latest turtle paperweights / Professional-grade turtle paperweights

6. Turtle paperweights that amuse and delight

5. When you can’t get enough turtle paperweights

4. Turtle paperweights that educate and inspire

3. Will a major award be won by a turtle paperweight someday?

2. “Daaaamn son, that’s a terrific turtle paperweight!”

1. Championship turtle paperweights that win 1,000 gold medals every five seconds because they’re perfect

Best Of 2017: JOURNALISM

Some say journalism is the lifeblood of democracy. And since American democracy has never been healthier than it is right now, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the red blood cells pumping through our system: the hardworking journalists of 2017.

Whether it’s deep investigative reporting, insightful local coverage, or a classic instance of “he-said, she-said,” if there’s anything 2017 taught us, it’s that journalism has reached new heights of relevance, prestige, and principle. Especially cable news, which has never been more informative according to the latest research (which I saw).

So let’s stop the presses, because there’s breaking news: It’s time to celebrate the BEST JOURNALISM OF 2017:

10. Magazine articles

9. Infomercials

8. Well-researched newspaper articles that made us think in 2017

7. Exclusive interviews

6. (TIE) Movie reviews / op-ed columns

5. Investigative reports

4. International journalism

3. Blockbuster stories

2. In-depth analysis

1. The Pulitzer Prize for journalism

 

Best Of 2017: IDEAS

In a year with as much disruption and general excellence as 2017, is it any wonder ideas came to the fore? It’s been generations since we saw a year in which ideas — pure thoughts culled from the collective mind of human ingenuity — played as large a role as they did in 2017.

bestof2017_ideas

From government, to business, to culture, to your own home, there was no American arena that was immune to the power of transformative ideas. Just think of all the ideas you heard about and shared with friends and family over the last twelve months. In our modern age, ideas are the only currency that matters — and so, like the song says (in its lyrics): “Let’s chit-chat about ideas til the break of dawn! / Hip-hip-hooray, three cheers for ideas, for he’s a jolly good fellow!” In fact, historians are already predicting that 2017 will be known as The Year Of The Idea. So let’s get a jump on history and celebrate the TOP TEN IDEAS OF 2017:

10. Pretty good ideas

9. Terrific ideas that are widely appreciated

8. Ideas that make sense

7. Profitable ideas

6. Brilliant ideas

5. Dangerous ideas

4. A-ha moments

3. “Gotta write down my latest idea”

2. Pure ideas

1. Game-changing ideas

This is a good list.

Best Of 2017: TELEVISION

young-couple-watching-tv-on-living-room-sofa-dkfh6a

In spite of some hard times (despite what you may think, 2017 wasn’t perfect), this year will always be remembered as more or less perfect. And a huge cause of that sunny assessment will be the high-quality television we enjoyed during the past twelve months. Indeed, 2017 can honestly be called one of the platinum years in the golden era of television … an era we are all lucky to be living through: “Face it, we’ll be telling our grandkids about this premium era of television.”

From dystopian tales like “The Milkmaid’s Adventure” to emotional dramas like “We Are Us,” from blockbuster epics like “House of Swords” to cutting-edge comedies like “This Show Isn’t Funny,” 2017 was the year television grew up … and showed us all a little something about growing up, too.

So let’s raise a glass to another banner year for television, and tune in to the latest, greatest show of all: A show of hands for this being the best year of all time when it comes to TV! And now, here are the TOP TEN TV SHOWS OF 2017:

10. Pretty good TV shows

9. Better-than-average TV shows

8. Premium television

7. “My, my … Never thought I’d see THAT on TV”

6. TV that keeps us informed and entertained

5. Television that looks as good as a movie

4. Limited-run television events

3. “Hennnry!” “Yes, dear?” “What’s on TV tonight?” “Only the finest quality shows, my darling” “Thank you, Henry” “Okay”

2. Almost the greatest shows

1. THE GREATEST SHOWS

Best Of 2017: CULTURAL MOMENTS

What is our shared experience of life, if not our culture? And what is our cultural life, if not the moments that define us? If culture is the mirror through which we see ourselves and make sense of things, then cultural moments are those bright flashes when the mirror shines brightest and offers the clearest reflection. Sometimes all it takes to make sense of our current situation is a movie or TV show (or song) that helps us see our lives as they really are in the present — the good and the bad parts of them … and of our life itself, in these moments.

This is why watching movies and TV and listening to hit songs is never a waste of time — because at any second we could find ourselves in a new cultural moment that lends deeper understanding to the world in which we live, and that moment will have arrived via the pop culture we consumed.

So without any further ado or otherwise delaying the joy of our shared culture, join me in celebrating the TOP TEN CULTURAL MOMENTS OF 2017:

10. Political moments: “Where are we now?”

9. Racial politics: “Who are we?”

8. Comedies and dramas of relevance

7. Rethinking assumptions

6. Hmm … maybe things really do suck

5. (TIE) Rap music / Women

4. “You’ll never guess what I saw a movie about …”

3. Check your memes and do hashtags

2. Everything has gone crazy and this song describes it perfectly

1. The most relevant — and greatest — cultural moments

Best Of 2017: SPORTS

bestof2017_sports

From athletes to coaches to the guy at the end of the bar, 2017 was the year everyone seemed to have an opinion about sports. Whether you watched live or on TV, sports were an undeniable presence this year, and definitely had something for everyone. In divided times such as our own, sports can bring us together — allowing us to put aside our differences and “root for the home team, root root for the team, rah rah” as the old cheerleader song goes.

And that’s the power of sports: They give us something to believe in. Athletes at peak condition are models of grace and excellence, and we need these exemplars more than ever. And so we love sports and we are all better because of the sports we loved in 2017. The sheer competition of sports will never be beat.

And now, before this introduction goes into triple overtime (sports reference for my super-fans out there, must credit mnftiu.cc), let’s give out championship rings to the TOP TEN SPORTS MOMENTS OF 2017:

10. Semifinals in 2017

9. Peak performance in championship moments

8.  Hard-won victories

7. (TIE) The politics of sports / Team logos, uniforms, and equipment

6. Baseball

5. The spirit of competition

4. Good sportsmanship is key in 2017

3. Something to believe in … SPORTS

2. “Coach, did I do a good job?” “You did okay”

1. World championship