Saturday, December 28, 2013

But Trouble Looks For Me

This year, for a change, the winners of the MMT ANNUAL AWARD THINGS are displayed in alphabetical order by winner rather than category. That way it's even more of a random cavalcade of items I have thrilled to during this last complete orbital period.

MOMENT OF THE YEARStood on the headland at sunset, ABERYSTWYTH CASTLE. The last night of study school in April, and everything stretching out before me. Including the sea. Swallows sweeping in flocks like black sheets caught on the breeze. (Though I must admit it did feel a bit special seeing hundreds of people nodding along to the Phil Sky Experience on the Main Stage at the Waterside too!)

VILLAIN OF THE YEARThe best-selling single of 2013: "BLURRED LINES" by Robin Thicke and friends. Dear Human Race, enclosed is my membership card, which I hereby return. Please close my account. Yours sincerely, Matthew Michael Taylor.

FOOD STUFF OF THE YEARCADBURY'S DAIRY MILK MARVELLOUS CREATIONS JELLY POPPING CANDY SHELLS. I am so ashamed at this. I wish I could tell you it was the delicious slow-cooked pork cheeks at Aqua, or the breathtaking Crispy Pig's Head with Rhubarb, Pancetta and Greek Cress starter I had at The Hand & Flowers. But if I'm to be laceratingly honest with you, it's not. This year's been all about the jelly popping candy chocolate. I am a low low character with base desires and I deserve everything I get. Which is diabetes, most likely.

TV SHOW OF THE YEARA strong field, mainly cos I watch too much TV now. If the third series had joined us earlier than Jan 1 2014, I might have named the exquisite "Sherlock", as we finally saw the first two series for the first time this year. But not quite. "Wentworth Prison" was the best 'newcomer' I think, a very well-pitched re-imagining of the frankly great cult classic. Quirky French supernatural drama "The Returned" came a very close second too, but I think I'm going to have to go with "DOCTOR WHO" again. The second half of series 8 was a bit hit-and-miss, but the 50th Anniversary special "The Day Of The Doctor" smashed it out of the park. Wish I'd seen it at the cinema now. And now Matt Smith - 'my' doctor (apart from Peter Davison) is done - so we'll see what Malcolm Tucker makes of it in 2014... Meanwhile I'll be watching the Colin Baker DVDs I got for Christmas!

ARTWORK OF THE YEARAn all-new category, created just to celebrate a brilliant thing. Well, it wouldn't fit anywhere else, and I really really wanted to include it somewhere. And why wouldn't I have a category for best piece of art? I'm surprised it's taken till now! But it was "THE ECONOMICALLY BOOMING CITY OF TIANJIN, CHINA" (2011) by Norimitsu Kokubo, which I blogged about back in May when me & Biggsy saw that exhibition of Japanese Outsider Art in London. that doesn't do the mammoth scale justice.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR"EXILE" by HURTS. I honestly haven't listened to anywhere near enough music this year - it's a failing I aim to rectify in 2014, although of course I did say the same thing last year. And the year before. Still, there were three or four proper good albums I dug, and probably the pick for me was Hurts' second. Evolving their orchestral pop into darker, grander, occasionally industrial waters was an impressive step, though they didn't lose their catchiness either. At times this sounds more like Depeche Mode or Muse than the "nouveaux-Bros-for-indie-kids" I'd been touting them as. Brilliant. And hopefully they're now big enough in Europe & Russia that it doesn't matter they're not massive in the UK - they'll be around a while yet.

WEBSITE OF THE YEAR. Oops. (rubs tummy ruefully)

PLACE OF THE YEARIn the HOT TUB AT "THE COTTAGE BEYOND" on our Taylor Family Holiday. Man, those things could catch on.

GIG OF THE YEARI think it'd have to be NEW MODEL ARMY at the Northampton Roadmenders in the Spring. A band with only one remaining original fiftysomething member and a bunch of hired crusties surely shouldn't sound so aggressive and passionate in 2013, but they did. Plus to say I've seen them play "Green And Grey" live three times in one lifetime? Maybe it has been a worthwhile existence after all!

FILM OF THE YEARIf I've terribly neglected music this year, I've been even more behindhand with films. In fact I only went to the cinema twice. Once was for "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" last week - and that was of course excellent, but I'm painfully aware these now pretty much only appeal to me and The Brothers Taylor. Which leaves "PACIFIC RIM" - and at the end of the day (i.e. year) that was such brilliant fun! Way better than it may have looked to some, and a gobsmacking 3D treat. I can't help feeling that if I'd got my shit together and seen "The Great & Powerful Oz", "Gravity", or "The Great Gatsby" (for example), things may have been different. I did see some pretty good documentaries, most notably "Blackfish", "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer" and "Terms And Conditions May Apply", but I think massive monsters fighting massive robots just about edges it.

SINGLE OF THE YEARRun very close by top pop singles from Neon Jungle ("Trouble") and the re-released Icona Pop smash "I Don't Care", I think it's CHVRCHES by a nose: "RECOVER" was a breath of fresh Spring air to me, intricately-plotted synthpop with a Scots twang. The album is good too, big ups (bigs up?)... And if you missed it, here's the vid.

BOOK OF THE YEARIt's rare that I'm able to nominate a contemporary novel (that hasn't been written by yer man Kingy), but because Helen's still reasonably up on these things, it's a paperback that came out in 2013: "THE RED HOUSE" by Mark Haddon (aka "the Dog In The Night Time man"). In basic outline it's nothing special - a long-estranged middle-aged brother & sister go away for a week in the countryside with their respective families - but Mark Haddon's able to capture the minutiae and of everyday life with laser precision and meld it seamlessly with poetic stream-of-consciousness. Both mundane and profound. I loved it.

PLAY OF THE YEARI saw a few, at various levels, but I think it was probably "RELATIVELY SPEAKING", the Ayckbourn revival me & Cathy saw at MKT in the Spring. You can't beat a well-paced farce.

EVENT OF THE YEARWOLVERTON LANTERN FESTIVAL. I can't believe I've never been before, but it was great, festive, community-based fun. Plus Vodka Boy got to 'headline' (i.e. play at the end when everyone had gone home). Long live the Lantern Festival!
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