Best of 2013: My Year in Clichés

miloHey Pal:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the time of best-of-the-year lists! How I love them so. Now I finally know what I should have been watching/reading/listening to in 2013 but will be watching/reading/listening to in 2014.

As I reflected on my favourite things this year, clichés kept popping into my mind. Just one over-used phrase after another. I resisted at first then thought, screw it, sometimes you just gotta roll the dice, grab the bull by the horns, take a leap of faith and go for it! So I mixed up all my metaphors and ran with it.

Here then, are my favourite things of 2013, presented as my year in clichés:

Best in Music:  “Sad songs say so much.”



I think it’s gonna be a long, long time till I ever quote Elton John again, but he and I are right in line with this cheesy sentiment. I love me some bummed out tunes.

And, in particular, I love me a bummed out cowboy. Last year, I was captivated by Josh T. Pearson (probably the saddest dude alive). This year I cheered things up ever so slightly with singer/songwriter Phosphorescent and the trippy, atmospheric soundscape that is Muchacho. This moody, dreamy album was marinated in regret but sprinkled with optimism. It’s clear this guy’s been through some shit, but he ain’t giving up yet.

On my long daily commute, I learned that Muchacho is the perfect soundtrack to a sunset, and a sunrise. It burrows into me, no matter which direction I’m going. 


Best in Books: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

from-hell-cover      black hole     Persepolis 3

Once upon a time I fancied myself a literate dude. I analyzed Shakespeare. I deconstructed Rushdie and Conrad. I read War and Peace in a week.

Those days are gone. The chaos and distractions of life have, bit by bit, year over year, whittled away my attention span to that of a fruit fly and this year the final nail was hammered into the coffin by my new best friend, Twitter.

It’s official: me can’t read good no more.

But that’s OK because I have discovered graphic novels and, more to the point, I have discovered that graphic novels can be every bit as thought-provoking and profound as “real” literature. Plus, you know, with pictures and stuff. The best ones truly are art.

These three are my favourites so far.

Best in Film: “Bigger is better.”



You don’t watch Gravity, you ride it. It transports you into space and whips you around for 90 breathless minutes. If it were just spectacle and action, it wouldn’t be on this list, but it also has Sandra Bullock and her heart-tugging back story.  It blew me away. I saw it twice in the theatre and regret not seeing it a third time.

I can think of no other movie that demands to be seen in the theatre like this one. If you’re waiting for Blu-Ray, don’t bother. It must be seen in 3D, on the biggest screen possible. I suspect that come Oscar night it will lose to more “important” films, but I will be cheering like hell for this space epic from director Alfonso Cuaron.

Best in TV: “All’s well that ends well.”


More than enough has already been written about this show. Addicts were obsessed, myself included, and we picked apart every moment. So I won’t go on about it now.

I will just make this suggestion to all current and future TV show creators – when you’re thinking about how to end your show, watch three finales:

First watch the Lost finale so you know what not to do: resolve nothing and go down in a flaming ball of cheese.

Next watch the Seinfeld finale so you know how to sort of do it: the right concept, but poorly executed.

Finally, watch the Breaking Bad finale so you know exactly what to do: tie up all loose ends, and do so in surprising ways. Have a kick-ass climax and an entirely appropriate and satisfying denouement. This, kids, is how you bring to a close five breakneck seasons of propulsive entertainment.


Ok, so that’s a little about the pop culture I gobbled up this year. Now, at the risk of getting all sentimental, let me get personal…

Real Life: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

old dog

Here’s a cliché I’m looking to prove wrong. This was a year of change and new things for me.

I’m taking a stab at social media (that may be an understatement – I appear to be a raging addict). I’m now a Tweeterer and a blogger – the latter thanks to you, Pal.

I dangled off the CN Tower (with a cool woman we both know at my side).


I took up a new sport, trying my hand at squash.

And most significantly, I changed jobs after 14 years in the same industry.

Now, I don’t want to overdramatize things, Pal, but when you start doing a bunch of new things for the first time, two things happen:

  1. You feel a nifty sense of renewal.
  2. You spend a lot more time sucking.

New things take time to learn. I’m working my way up a steep learning curve at work. I’m routinely getting my ass kicked on the squash court. I’m tweeting and blogging as much garbage as quality. I often have that sensation I’m about to fall…

You know what? I’m loving every second of it.

This old(ish) dog enjoyed picking up a few new tricks in 2013. I look forward to starting to master them in 2014.

Happy New Year, Pal.



One response to “Best of 2013: My Year in Clichés

  1. Happy 50th post to the most amazing blog I know! My favourite thing about lists is that everyone gets their own version of each list. Funny because I have to disagree in most (but not all) cases. I don’t have the clichés to go along with my choices but here they are…best movie of the year to me is 12 Years A Slave – gritty, difficult to watch, stressful and at times an experience I wish I wasn’t having but incredible nonetheless. Best TV was for sure Breaking Bad. For me, it will not be replaced for years. Music for me is Imagine Dragons, Night Visions. 17 songs and each one a masterpiece. Best book is a tough one. I have read many that are wonderful and many that are just ok. My favourite however was one written for kids by an author by the name of Neil Gaiman. Apparently, this man is quite prolific, having written many, many books. This is not one written this year but it is a book that I think of often. The Graveyard Book is about a young boy being raised by ghosts in a cemetery. It sounds silly but it lovely and has a mood that I LOVED. I look forward to hearing what the other fans have to say. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thanks, Pals, for giving people a place to read thought-provoking, sometimes controversial, always cerebral pieces about so many different topics!
    Look forward to 2014.

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