So, as we all know 2018 has been a real bummer of a year for a multitude of reasons. However, I want to focus on some things that made it just a smidge more tolerable for me. These items are in no particular order, mostly just whatever popped into my mind first!
10. My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Okay, I get it… a murder podcast. Hear me out here, though. From episode one I was hooked. While I LOVE true crime content, for reasons I can go into later, it’s absolutely the chemistry between the two host that made me love this podcast. The two hosts met one night at a party while talking about true crime and from there the podcast was born. It flows naturally as a chat between two friends sharing a mutual interest. Quite frequently they manage to call out the injustices of the criminal system and examine things from a feminist perspective. Kilgariff and Hardstark have years of experience in comedy, writing, and presenting. It’s fantastic to see two hilarious and knowledgeable older women with a successful podcast having a great time and sharing their thoughts with the world.
9. The Void
This was my surprise of the year. The Void is what I’ve been looking for in horror movies to fill the… void… I never knew I had. Long story short, people trapped in a hospital are antagonized by both a cult and this gross creature they’re trying to bring into existence. I’m personally fascinated by cults and this movie really captured the persistence and hivemind-esque thinking that real-world cults also display. It also features some of the best practical effects I’ve seen in quite a long time. If you enjoyed the movie definitely hit up the internet and watch some of the behind the scenes videos and interviews, you’ll be glad you did.
While there was also a film adaptation of this in 2018, I’m talking about the book here! My friend/roommate during the Disney College Program lent me this book after I saw her blaze through it in just a day. Something about the way Jeff Vandermeer writes is just so particular and disorienting, you feel like you’re in a fog along with the main character, desperately trying to understand what’s going on. That feeling is what made me want to get through it as fast as possible, only to be met with no understanding. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, I’m currently halfway through the second book in the trilogy and enjoying it just as much. Annihilation is only 208 pages so it’s a really quick read if you’re looking for something to breeze through. Though I only made it halfway through the film, I hope to revisit it soon.
Thriftbooks has been a wonderful thing to me in 2018. Introduced to me by my previously mentioned friend. If you happen to be out of the loop when it comes to online shopping, ThirftBooks is an online bookstore. They’ve got just about everything you could want including manga and comics. I appreciate the fact that they have a points-based system that allows you to redeem for free books and throughout the year have multiple double or even triple points sales that get you even closer. Thriftbooks has helped me catch up on some great stories I missed out on, especially now that I no longer giving my business to Barnes & Noble due to their shadiness of firing employees who had been with the company for decades with no compensation. I’m not affiliated with ThiftBooks, but if you’re interested in making a purchase hit me up ‘cause I have coupons. 😉
6. Spider-Man (PS4)
At the time of writing this, I’m about halfway through the main storyline of the 2018 Spider-Man game. Guys… I can’t stop thinking about this game. Even right now, I wish I was at home playing it instead of sitting at Starbucks, with no headphones, next to this lady who won’t let me plug my laptop in, writing this right now. Everything about it is so addicting; the swinging around a very crime-ridden NYC, trying to track down all the backpacks and Black Cat’s stakeouts, and getting to the bottom of the main mystery. All the voice acting is spot on and gives life to every character. I love the dynamic between Peter and Yuri and the whole Spider-Cop schtick. I still stand by the fact that this game has a bit of a learning curve. It definitely took a little while to get the play style down, but once it clicked with me I couldn’t put it down.
5. The Haunting of Hill House
Guys, I can’t stress how much this show affected me during my watch through. Initially I was hesitant because Netflix originals are truly hit or miss but the hype never died down for this show. However, it does sort of seem like a flash in the pan because I rarely hear people discuss it now. Anyway, THoHH is loosely, and I mean loosely, based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson. The show follows the Crain family who buy a house as a fixer-upper to eventually resell. The core of the show really is the descent into madness that all of the characters face at some point within the story. The entire time you’re left to wonder if it really is the house or is this family just awful at facing the truths of mental illness and insanity? I think it does a fantastic job of showing the intricacies of mental illness and just how dysfunctional family dynamics can be. Keep an eye out for all those hidden ghosts in the house!
4. Wonderful! Podcast
Oops, another podcast. I truly was on the hunt this year to find something to balance out all the rougher content I consumed (like the murder podcast) to try to find a good mental balance. I’ve known about Wonderful! for quite a while from listening to MBMBaM (which Austin and I saw a live show for this year and had a freakin’ blast!) but never gave any of their offshoot casts a listen. Wonderful! is hosted by Rachel and Griffin McElroy and each week they discuss things they’re happy and enthusiastic about. The first episode I happened to listen to was about Tetris and I learned a lot of fun factoids that I never knew. Yay, learning! They also encourage users to write in and share good things too. Topics can range from movies, fictional characters, food, clothing, animals, and many other things. I love a cast where the hosts have chemistry, I think the two being married helps, but what do I know? If you need something wholesome and fun give this a go.
3. Red Velvet
You guys might not know, but I’m a big-but-casual k-pop fan! Red Velvet has been my go-to group of the year! After their comeback in the Summer of this year, these girls have worked so hard to release some absolute bangers. Their hard work shines with every live performance and song. It warms my heart to know that their dedication and hard work pays off! Already on their 8th mini-album, there’s no stopping Red Velvet.
2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
I have to say Spider-verse is the second best movie I watched this year. Yes, second. I won’t disrespect King T’Challa like that. However, I can say that this is now my favorite Spider-Man movie. Everything about this film is perfect. The music, the visuals, the characters, just… wow. Every frame of this movie was a visual treat and getting to see something beyond the standard Peter Parker story was so refreshing. I loved the depiction of the villains this time around and was pleasantly surprised when one of the usual suspects showed up, but with a twist. I think this movie is really going to help springboard more visually experimental animated films in the mainstream US theater and I’m very excited for that. Reading into the inspirations for this film really surprised me, especially with how much it pulled from anime. The creators looked at multiple CGI anime; Land of the Lustrous was actually quoted as an example, which is surprising as I feel it’s so underrated. If you get the chance to check this out, please do. It’s very much worth your time. I plan on buying that Blu-Ray as soon as I can!
1. The Haunted Mansion/The Disney College Program
No, I’m not talking about that gloriously bad Eddie Murphy movie. I’m talking about the Walt Disney World attraction. For those of you who were unaware, I spent the first half of 2018 down in Orlando, Florida as an intern for the Disney College Program. It honestly was one of the best experiences I ever had in my life. I spent my entire program working at The Haunted Mansion. When I found that out during my onboarding, I spent the rest of the day crying. The Mansion is such an important ride to me and has some of the most beautiful and interesting history out of many of the rides. I met so many interesting people from around the world and can still recite my spiel to this day. If you’re interested in the college program, hit me up with any questions. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on an amazing opportunity.