What we read while preemptively forgetting old acquaintances…
For Love of Country?
It’s rare that I watch enough movies in a given year to identify a “trend” but this year one stood out. Two of main frontrunners for Best Picture this year—Argo and Zero Dark Thirty—were films about CIA operations. Both films have already been nominated for Golden Globes, and while Argo was the early frontrunner, Zero Dark Thirty has gotten most of the recent talk (they even run the gamut alphabetically).
Of course, it’s silly to extrapolate grand themes from two movies, or event to talk about “trends” in a year’s movies—given the variety of production times for movies, any trends are likely to be coincidental. But what’s interesting about both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty is that, though both were based on real events, they each took creative license to glorify the CIA: Argo minimized the role Canada played in the mission to rescue six hostages from Iran, and Zero Dark Thirty erroneously portrays torture as instrumental to the search for Osama bin Laden.
Here are the best episodes of 2012. Obviously this contains spoilers:
10) “Argentina” — Dexter
One of the nicest surprises on television this year was Dexter’s renaissance in quality. After some misguided years and a true nadir of a season in 2011, Dexter finally embraced a real progression in the story—having Debra find out about her brother’s “hobby”—and was all the better for it. The tension between Deb and Dexter led to some of the show’s best scenes ever. And since Dexter didn’t spend the entire season chasing his usual Big Bad Guy, Season Seven actually had decent subplots, including great guest performances from Ray Stevenson and Yvonne Strahovski. In “Argentina,” the show was even able to address the weirdest element of last season—Deb’s crush on her brother—in an impressive and compelling way.
10. “Octopus” — Bloc Party: Four was a disappointing album, but, happily, the wiry “Octopus” was an exception.
9. “Argonauts” — Hospitality: Hospitality’s self-titled album was my favorite of 2012, and “Argonauts” is the album’s most layered, sophisticated track.
What we read while the world ended and started up again…
Which people and why?
I first linked to Yelp in June 2008, according to a search of “yelp” in my Gmail account.* I apparently jumped on the bandwagon when many did: 2008 was a banner year for Yelp, the first year Yelp received more pageviews than Citysearch. Since 2008, I, like so many others, have come to rely on Yelp as my primary source for deciding where to eat and drink. Let me share some Yelp tips I’ve developed over the past few years.
*In case you’re wondering, this is where I linked, suggesting a decent pizza place near Madison Square Garden, where, aside from Koreatown, good food is hard to come by.
To start, never trust the star rating of a Mexican restaurant that serves margaritas. Too often, the margarita-serving Mexican restaurant gets most of its four or five-star ratings from patrons whose number one concern is the quality, size, and cost of the restaurant’s margarita. Too often, these patrons couldn’t care less about the food. Or their tipsy post-margarita state makes their food assessments (of everything but the chips and salsa) unreliable. Not all margarita-serving Mexican restaurants, of course, suffer from an inflated rating. Run a search of the reviews: if, say, only one-out-of-six reviews mentions the revered alcoholic drink, then the risk of inflation is mitigated.