My Favorite Things in 2015

Things I Love 2015
I‘m amazed, humbled, and grateful that you’ve found Moss Island and read what comes out of my head. Thank you. In 2015, the site was visited almost 16,000 times, and over 27,000 pieces were at least glanced at. Moss Island is increasingly the journal and repository for my art, bringing together so many things I love: criticism, theater, and movies above all. Again, thank you. Here’s to the year ahead, and a glance behind at my favorite things in 2015.

25, by Adele (Music)

On February 22, 2011, I told Sarah, as she came downstairs on the morning of her 11th birthday, “You’re going to love this.” That was Adele’s 21, four years ago. Now we have 25, and it’s even better (I think Sarah agrees.)

Inside Amy Schumer (TV)

The third season kept hitting high point after high point, from Last F**kable Day to the Trial of Bill Cosby (who only this morning was finally charged with a crime.) The best episode was 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer, a brilliant satire and summary of what’s wrong with men, and pop culture in general. Schumer also wrote and starred in Trainwreck, a formulaic disappointment to those hoping for something as subversive (or even as funny) as the show.

Apple Watch (Tech)

When people wonder if the Apple Watch is any good, I ask, “Have you ever worn a watch?” As someone who’s used a watch for 2/3 of his life, it’s the best I’ve ever owned – real Dick Tracy stuff.

Bloom County (Comics)

Berkeley Breathed’s cartoon antidote to the 1980s was resurrected this year when all hope seemed lost. Still hit-or-miss – Breathed often takes the easy target, and leans toward potty humor. But when it’s good, there isn’t much better.

Bruce Springsteen (Music)

He’s still recording new music, and he’ll tour again in 2016. At the same time, Springsteen’s team has been releasing meticulously mixed and mastered archive concerts every 6-8 weeks (favorite so far: Tower Theater, Philadelphia 1975). They also found time to assemble The Ties That Bind: The River Collection; the single-album The Ties That Bind is one of Springsteen’s best, a real lost masterpiece.

Purity, by Jonathan Franzen (Books)

Franzen can’t publish a novel without pissing off a bunch of people; this time, he’s been riling up feminists. I see their point (there are no admirable women in Purity), but they don’t credit the fact that the men are even worse. (Imperfect people are what makes Franzen’s writing interesting.) For my money, the best-written series of strung-together sentences I’ve read this year.

Leonard Nimoy (Polymath)

Nimoy passed away on February 27, causing millions to revisit his diverse body of work. I knew him first as Spock, then as a movie director; a tiny fraction of his interests. Live long and prosper.

Orange is the New Black (TV)

Jenji Kohan and company’s best season yet. Sexy, diverse, humane; satisfying. A remarkably steady season, building to a joyful, transcendent finale.

Planned Parenthood (Public Service)

Brave people doing important work, at a reasonable price. If Planned Parenthood ceases to exist, abortions will probably increase. (Seriously, is that the goal?) This year’s congressional hearings were bizarre théâtre de l’absurde.

Serial (Podcast)

The best podcast of 2014 comes back more polished, even more ambiguous than before. Great storytelling.

Tomorrow: Moss Island Kudos (formerly Brophys), for Excellence in Greater Utica Area Theatre.