Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Best of Everything in 2014

Best Book: ‘Flash Boys’ – Michael Lewis. The opening chapters about fiber optic cable were not all that compelling, but after that the ‘us against them’ story had me hooked. Sergey Aleynikov, the Russian computer programmer with his remarkably zen attitude to shit going down, was my personal ‘hero’ in the book.
Best Album: ‘Lost In The Dream’ – The War On Drugs. In his book ‘Retromania’, Simon Reynolds talked about ‘hypnagogic pop’ – music with eighties sounds that referred back to the music that today’s musicians listened to when they were toddlers falling asleep. The War On Drugs’ wonderful third album is kind of like that; it’s like the music I listened to as I drifted to sleep in the back of my parents car: Springsteen, Don Henley, etc. A ‘cool’ album built from ‘uncool’ sounds.

Best Song: ‘Come To’ – Bombay Bicycle Club.  I wonder if anyone else will pick this as song of the year; I had to check if it was even a single (it was actually the fourth from the album). Bombay Bicycle Club’s latest album was their best yet, mixing in Indian influences without seeming forced, and ‘Come To’ for me was pure bliss to listen to. ‘Bamboo’ by Deers is a close second.
Best TV Show: ‘The Walking Dead’. If you had asked me which would be my favourite show at the start of the year I would have said ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Mad Men’, and would have put long odds on ‘The Walking Dead’, which I barely paid attention to as I was watching the third season. But the fourth season was fantastic, as the series cut out the padding, and almost every episode felt distinct from the others.
Best Film: 12 Years A Slave. Absolutely devastating movie, and a worthy Best Picture winner at the Oscars. ‘Boyhood’ was really good as well.
Best Comic: ‘Saga’ – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. For the third year running this gets my nod even if it was not quite at the same level as it was in its first two years. Very close was Bryan Lee O’Malley’s ‘Seconds’, which will appeal to fans of his wildly successful ‘Scott Pilgrim’ series.

Best Sporting Event: The football World Cup – particularly the group stages. I have only watched a few World Cups, but this was the definitely the best one I had seen, and kept me bleary-eyed and addicted to coffee for several weeks.

Best Sportsperson: James Rodriguez. Yes, Lionel Messi was named the player of the World Cup, and he is still the best footballer in the world. But Colombia’s James Rodriguez was every bit as good in the World Cup, and he provided the tournament’s finest moment against Uruguay.

Best Website: Fivethirtyeight. It’s a group of writers using advanced but intuitive analytics to answer questions about sports and economics (and other stuff as well). It’s like it was designed for me! … well, me and thousands of other nerds … 

Best Post: The Ten Worst Cars To Have Sex In. Possibly I love this post more than I should.

Best Beer:  Bacchus Sex, Drugs & Rocky Road. Yes, rocky road flavoured beer. I had a really good peppercorn steak-flavoured beer that day as well.

Best Twitter Feed: Tim Harford. The Undercover Economist author always seems to receive links to something interesting. Bastard.

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