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Snarky Amber's Top Ten of 2008

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How do we measure a year? Here at MamaPop, our approach is to provide you with easily digested "Top n" list of things we liked best throughout the year. Due to widespread economic woe, what felt like the longest presidential race of all time, and my usual misanthropy, it was easy enough for me to narrow a year like 2008 down to a small handful of highlights.

Here they are, in two easy to swallow caplets of five items each: Five Things I Stumbled Across On My Own and Five Things I Was Peer Pressured Into.

Top Five Things I Stumbled Across On My Own:

#5 MGMT's Oracular Spectacular

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I guess I only discovered MGMT on my own by virtue of their saturation of American airwaves, but "Time To Pretend" is easily the single of 2007/2008 for me. With an immediately recognizable opening hook and drumbeat, its danceability is positively arresting. The lyrics are delightfully ambiguous — you're not sure whether they're being tongue in cheek or serious as they sing about their plans to make music, marry some models, move to Paris, and do a bunch of cocaine and heroin. Even if they are serious, I kind of admire their candor.  Oracular Spectacular is full of fantastic singles, and it's my second favorite album of the year, albeit somewhat of a guilty pleasure.

#4 The Pickup Artist

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Another guilty pleasure, though less ambiguously so, is the unintentionally funny reality competition series, The Pickup Artist. I am particularly fond of its douchebag star, whom I so love to hate: Erik "Mystery" von Markovik. This is actually a carry-over favorite from 2007, but this season of The Pickup Artist brought more fantastic PUA language terms, more fuzzy hats and shiny shirts, and more painfully awkward dorks than the first season, and I loved every minute of it.

#3 30 Rock

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30 Rock isn't new, of course, as it's well into its third season, but this series has definitely hit its stride, as evidenced by its sweep at the Emmys and almost certain domination at the Golden Globes. This is far and away the best comedy series on television right now. Period. Tina Fey is absolutely brilliant as Liz Lemon: the Mary Richards of our time, only three times more self-effacing and hilarious. 30 Rock is most definitely not a guilty pleasure, but rather a proud favorite that I try to push on just about everyone I'm casually acquainted with. If you're still actually watching Grey's Anatomy, I sincerely pity you for missing out on the one truly brilliant show left on NBC.

#2 Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes LP/Sun Giant EP

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As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I have been aware of Fleet Foxes for a couple years now, but they definitely hit the indie radar big time this year.  I can't think of a more deserving band. While other reviewers have drawn comparisons to Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Beach Boys, and the more contemporary Animal Collective, I honestly think their sound almost defies comparison. Despite its clear influences in folk, baroque music, and 60s pop, it is refreshingly...well, fresh. Their first full-length album was almost universally acclaimed this year, and with good reason. The instrumentation is gorgeous, the songwriting is stellar, and the album as a whole gets better with every listen. If you have all but given up hope on new music, as I had, you really must immediately pick up their eponymous album, and their second EP, Sun Giant.

#1 President Elect Barack Obama

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I remember, while living in eastern Iowa and working in western Illinois back in 2002, a great deal of buzz surrounded charismatic Illinois state senator Barack Obama even then, before he would embark on his campaign for U.S. Senate. I always recognized something presidential in him, and was excited, but unsurprised, when he announced he would be running for president. Barack was always my candidate (sorry, Hils). Yes — I am basically saying that I liked Barack Obama before it was cool to like him, and I don't blame you if you hate me for saying that. I kinda do too, dude. 

I definitely don't think he is the Second Coming. I have disagreed with Obama on a few of his votes as a senator, as well as some of his current positions and Cabinet appointments. But I do feel optimistic in a way I never have about another politician. He seems to truly takes his position as a civil servant seriously and soberly, and I can't help but get excited when he remarks that his administration will value things like SCIENCE and make decisions based on FACTS. I am optimistic that he is serious about making government again an institution of the people, by the people and for the people. I only hope he doesn't fuck up all that optimism, because I am scarcely optimistic.

Top Five Things I Was Peer Pressured Into (And Now Love)

#5 Twilight

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I only picked up the first book in the Twilight series because Dana and Catherine, and then Tracey, loved it so much and would NOT shut up about it. Well, I told myself, if a journalist and two strong feminists with PhDs liked it, maybe it isn't complete and utter crap! So, I gave it a try.

And, well... okay, look. If I'm being completely honest and objective as a literary critic, it is complete and utter crap. It's certainly not going to be winning any Pulitzers, and that's being kind. It's teen angst beach reading: a bit mindless and a lot cheesy, like a chaste Danielle Steele novel with sparkly vampires. AND I LOVED IT SO SO SO MUCH. Seriously, I read all four books, which are not short books, over five vacation days. I went by myself to see the equally horrible and wonderful movie in the theater on opening day with a bunch of squealing 15-year-olds. TEAM EDWARD!

#4 Dexter

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I have basic cable, but enough people told me how awesome Dexter was that I picked up the first season on DVD sight unseen, watched the first episode, and then found myself turning down invitations to go out with real people who aren't serial killers so I could watch Dexter all night. "Oh, not tonight," I'd tell the people who used to be my friends before I alienated them, "I don't want to be out all night with the Ice Truck Killer on the loose and all!" Sometimes I confuse television with real life, by the way. I blame Speidi.

Aaanyway, I haven't seen season three yet, so call this the thing from 2008 that I will love in 2009. Oh, and if you spoil it for me in the comments, I will send Dexter after you — I'm pretty sure he'd break his code for such an offense.

#3 Twitter

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I probably got about 45 Twitter invites before I gave in and made a Twitter account. Pssht. 140-character blog posts? Lame sauce! Y'all? I was so, so wrong to knock Twitter, and I'm sorry. It is by far my favorite social networking site. I love checking in to see what everyone's been up to. I love trying to fit a thought into those 140 characters - it's akin to the buzz I get from writing flash fiction. I also love how fast news travels via Twitter; I often hear about things on Twitter before they show up on my Google News feed. The only thing I don't love about Twitter is how easy it makes it to forget my own very neglected macro-blog.

#2 How I Met Your Mother

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I started watching this show at the behest — nay, the INSISTENCE — of Miss Banshee. I had serious doubts about this show, people. After all, fourth-wall sitcoms stopped appealing to me pretty much around the third season of Friends. I get annoyed especially by laugh tracks. I mean, how dare you tell me what to laugh at. I'll laugh when shit gets funny, thank you very much! However, How I Met Your Mother is the saving grace of fourth-wall sitcoms. Despite the conventional format, it's edgy, fresh and rip-roaringly hilarious. The shining star of the series is most definitely MamaPop's Honorary Gay Boyfriend, Neil Patrick Harris, as Barney Stinson. I am only just getting into the show but am already in love, and very grateful Miss Banshee is so damn pushy.

#1 MamaPop

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Okay, so I'm gonna get mushy, very briefly. I never thought someone would like my writing enough to want to, like, hire me to do it. When Tracey and Amy asked me to write for MamaPop, I was honored, but kind of puzzled. I mean, I have a blog I update every three weeks at most, with a daily stat of, like, 15 readers a day, five of which are my mom. Anyway, I really do love this site. It is a labor of love, and I adore writing each week, even when I hate it due to stress or a complete dirth of interesting celeb news and snarkable pop culture. I feel very blessed to be in the company of these whip-smart, funny writers and very glad I was badgered into joining them. GROUP HUG!







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Comments

sweetney

I second that group hug! MWAH!

baltimoregal

Loves ya!

AmandaG

I too also discovered MamaPop, Twilight and HIMYM this year. I tried watching Dexter when it was on CBS for a spell, but was difficult to get in to without my Tivo. Will maybe rent on DVD.




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