2014 – My Picks & Whatnot…

Coming to the end of another year. It seems cliche to say it but it really went by very quickly! It seems only yesterday I was battling the weather to get to Greenford Town Hall (to PAT test, very exciting), then I remember that was actually two years ago! So what of this year? Well, it’s certainly been eventful – went from working on a long running show, to being temporarily freelance then back to full employment. Makes me wonder what next year will bring!

At work the other day we discussed all going to see the new Paddington film one night after work. That’s when I realised I haven’t been to the cinema at all this year and can honestly say I’ve hardly watched any films. In previous years I’ve gone to the cinema at least once a week, maybe I should use that as a weekly treat next year. Hmm. This means I can’t really do a list of my top ten films and honestly, the last film I remember watching was How to Train Your Dragon 2. 

So what did I watch? Hannibal (the TV series). Several times. Not that I’m obsessed or anything… 😉

My Top Five TV Shows of the Year (not in any order):
1) Hannibal
2) Sherlock
3) Some Girls
4) Detectorists
5) Inside Number 9

Honourable mention: Transparent, Orange is the New Black and Doctor Who

Coming up with a list of books was again tricky as I’ve not read much this year, or listened to as many audiobooks as I used to. I’m blaming my degree studies for this, for the first part of the year I was reading tons of history books and now I’ve returned to literature I’m struggling through several books I don’t particularly like or would have ever picked up to read. Knew I should have done 20th century literature.

What did I read? Well, of the books I read the only ones which stand out are Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer, Red Shirts by John Scalzi, David Miller’s autobiography Racing Through the Dark and Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (book 4 in the Peter Grant series), which if you look at my reading list for this year pretty much make up my entire reading!

I’ve not even been playing that many computer games. I’ve bought a lot (damn you Steam sales!), but not played that many. I got really into State of Decay (even if the glitches made me laugh) but then the character I’d spent a lot of time building up died in a really tragic way so I uninstalled the game in a fit of rage. I kept having random crashes in Bioshock despite my computer being more than capable of handling the game so didn’t get very far in – I will return to it though.

My Five Games of the Year:
1) Door Kickers
2) Deadlight
3) Spec Ops: The Line
4) State of Decay
5) Breach & Clear

Looking at this I’m wondering what have I spent my year doing. Not very much it seems! I did get to spent some time with my very lovely friends in Leicester doing Holmesian stuff and eating far too much chocolate, I went to Deen City Farm with another friend and went to the Sherlock Holmes exhibit with a good friend. This year has really been about doing stuff with friends and working.

Saying goodbye to 2011

It’s that time of year when everyone starts putting together their top ten lists. I managed to do a top 5 list last year but this year I was a bit lax on my cinema/theatre going, not because it was a bad year for cinema or anything but because I got given notice of redundancy in February and with my uncertain future I had to cut back on luxuries for a bit and sadly got out of the habit.

Looking back, I think the best thing that happened to me this year was being under threat of redundancy. It gave me the kicking I needed to get my CV out there. I’m grateful for everything Dirty Dancing (and the Aldwych) gave me in the five years I worked there but towards the end it was starting to do me more harm than good, moving to Lend Me a Tenor was the best decision I’d made in a long time.

Lend Me a Tenor was a fun show. It was silly, farcical and a good old-fashioned musical with a great company who were all vastly talented, in contrast Dirty Dancing felt like a cynical attempt to cash in on the popularity of a mildly successful film. Don’t get me wrong, I liked working at the Aldwych (most of the time, there were days when I seriously thought about doing something else) and I made some fantastic friends but I learned a big lesson there – you need to move on. If Blood Brothers (Phoenix Theatre) was my crash course introduction into the darkly cynical world of British Theatre, Dirty Dancing was my adolescence and breathing space before Lend Me a Tenor led me blinking into the light of adulthood and the reality of theatre. I feel more settled into the reality of my work and I’m much more comfortable, I’m also making steps towards my current goal. Last month I had an interview where I was told I’m on the right path and that out of seventy-five applicants, he was only interviewing five people.

On a more personal level, I decided to get help for my social anxiety issues and I think this has contributed greatly to my general feeling of comfort in myself. Sure, I’ve got a long way to go and I need become more active socially but change doesn’t happen over night. I’ve also successfully passed my first two Open University modules and am part way through my third module, if all goes well I should complete my degree in 2014.

I managed not to pick up any new obsessions this year (thankfully!), poked around in the Steampunk community and hopefully will start joining in a few events in the new year as well as getting out  more with my camera. I have rekindled my joy with The Thick of It, partly because watching Peter Capaldi in Getting On and The Ladykillers reminded me how brilliant he is and partly because I genuinely cannot wait to see how they deal with the coalition. We’ve already seen what happens to Malcolm when you take his job away (which I didn’t find funny, just fucking terrifying!) so whether he’ll thrive with the challenge of being in opposition or if he’ll get shafted by the Dan Miller cabal, who knows? Apparently they start work in March 2012 so fingers crossed for a series at Easter (my dream would be a two part election special covering the election [obviously] and the coalition negotiation, followed by the leadership election… then a series).

I’ve been watching Glee (mostly on fast forward, some of those songs are so badly auto-tuned it’s painful) and can’t quite decide if I like it or not. I go through phases where I think it’s doing a really good job of bringing out issues that do need to be talked about ( Kurt’s storyline with the closeted bully, first time sex and when Sue’s sister died) but other times they make me want to strangle the writers. I’m a particular fan of Santana and a huge supporter of her coming out storyline but I thought it was really badly handled. Finn had absolutely no right to publicly out her (I don’t care what you say, yes she is a bully but what Finn did actively endangered her life and threatened her home life, did he not learn anything from what Kurt went through?!) and nor did he have the right to ride in on his horse of white male privilege to make it all okay. That was all awful, but what was worse was Finn insinuating that Brittney doesn’t love Santana back, way to attack someone’s self-esteem when they’re already struggling to accept their same-sex feelings. Also, on the subject of Brittney – last season we saw how she’s not actually that stupid but she seems to have gone completely backwards this season, and did no one else think Rory was incredibly creepy and borderline rape-y pretending to be a leprechaun to get into her pants thing? A lot of this has been echoed by the larger Gleek community and I have hopes that they’ve listened and we’ll see some better things in the next half of the season, oh and would it be too much to ask for Santana to actually kiss her girlfriend?

From the same writers of Glee I gave American Horror Story a go and it’s actually pretty good. I’m liking the vibe and really enjoying the overall creepiness. I don’t think it’s the type of show that could lend itself to more than one series but you never know, I’ve got the end to watch later today so fingers crossed. Parks and Recreation is another of my recent favourites, I tried to like Community and I did get into it but something about the characters bothers me a bit.

So, top lists.

Top Five TV Shows:
1) Getting On
2) Downton Abbey
3) Frozen Planet
4) Game of Thrones
5) Parks and Recreation

(Honorary mention to The Thick of It because I re-watched it recently and it’s awesome)

Top Five Films:
1) We Need to Talk about Kevin
2) Snowtown
3) Monsters
4) Hugo
5) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Top Five Books (that I read this year, not necessarily new):
1) Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
2)  The Lost City of Z by David Grann
3) The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
5)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Top Five Audiobooks:
1)  Night Watch (unabridged) by Terry Pratchett (read by Stephen Briggs)
2) the Jack Daniels series by JA Konrath (read by Susie Black and Dick Hill, and Angela Dawe)
3)  The Dark Tourist (unabridged) by Dom Joly (read by Dom Joly)
4) Freedom (unabridged)  by Jonathan Franzen (read by David LeDoux)
5) Rivers of London (unabridged) by Ben Aaronovitch (read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith)

Only saw nine theatre shows this year so I can’t really do a top 5 (particularly as I didn’t like most of them!) but I definitely think that Seasons Greetings, Frankenstein and The Ladykillers are my highlights of the year. I could always put Lend Me a Tenor down as my favourite show of the year but I don’t count stuff I’ve worked on.

Roll on 2012.