Report Card for 2012

Overall Grade: C+

Borrowing a very cool idea from the smarties over at Hazlitt, I thought I’d write up a (hopefully not-too-long-or-maudlin) summary of my own 2012. It’s always good to take stock, and looking back is as important to me as looking ahead, so here goes nothin’.

I’ve already written about my suspicion that years that end in 2 or 7 are bound to be momentous for me, and I wasn’t wrong about 2012.

Things started off normally. In October of 2011, I’d gone back to work for the wine importing company I’d been with from 2003-2007. They were having a whole new web site built and needed someone to manage the project and do some content stuff. It was meant to be a six-month contract ending in April. But lots of internal company stuff was happening (or more accurately, not happening), which delayed the site launch until July. Even then, the main reason for the redesign, e-commerce, was not ready. I stayed until the end of the year, in the end handing off my position to someone else. Fingers crossed, e-commerce is set to launch in the next little while…

I left for the same reason that getting back together with an old girlfriend is a bad idea. The comfort is nice for a while, but then you remember why you broke up the first time. Besides, I’d been making noises the whole time about how I wanted to go freelance, set my own hours, work from home, blah blah.

So on the work front, 2012 was a year spent marking time, waiting for the right combination of circumstances to launch myself as a freelance dynamo. January 1st is a good time for launching things, right?

Truthfully, the last third of the year sucked for another reason. In September, my father was hospitalized with difficulty breathing while on holiday in Ireland. Brooke and I were scheduled to travel to Belgium and Luxembourg during the same time, so we were able to re-route and see him in Dublin for a weekend. He seemed to be making a great recovery, so we finished the rest of our European vacation and went home. For the next couple of weeks, I spent lots of time with Dad, making appointments for him to see specialists and making sure he was sticking to his nicotine patch regime. And then suddenly he died.

We were close, but I don’t think we really understood each other. My mother died when I was in my early 20s, and as an only child, I worked hard to build a relationship with my dad where none had really existed. Though I was never completely successful, we loved each other. We even liked each other, though as he got older, his stubbornness and constrained life and world view annoyed me. My sadness seems to have turned pretty quickly to a kind of resentment, not of him exactly, but of all the administrivia and physical labour involved in what feels like nothing more than erasing all traces of his presence in the world.

Things Brooke and I have avoided in our own lives (mortgage, car and pet ownership) are now part of the burden of things I have to sort out. My first month or more of “freelance” life will most likely be spent working as a freelance cleaner, mover, and filler of forms.

Brooke and I celebrated ten years of marriage (and 15 as a couple) in October. It’s hard to believe. We may have one of the most low-maintenance relationships I’ve ever witnessed. We’re not without our issues, but I’d say that our default status is “contentment.” I hope I’m not just speaking for myself.

As usual, I started far more things than I could finish in 2012, but a few of them are worth noting.

Shorts That Are Not Pants is a quarterly screening series for short films that officially kicked off last January. We have hosted four screenings so far, three at the NFB Mediatheque (now closed, sadly) and one at the Carlton Cinemas. PLUG: join us on Thursday January 17th at 7pm at the Carlton as we kick off our second year!

I also began writing for the excellent Short of the Week, which features excellent short films available online. Though my contributions there this year have been sparse, I’m proud of them and honoured to be part of a great team of writers and curators.

I wrote far less than I would have liked here on my “personal” blog and on Toronto Screen Shots, my general film blog, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. My book/article/web project on Toronto art-rockers Max Webster has also gone dormant, but I’m not giving up on it.

I want 2013 to be full of great moments. I want to capture more of my life in words, and I want to spend more and better time with those I love (and that’s all of you, by the way). As always, I want to express myself more clearly and openly with people. Each day, I want to articulate to myself what I want out of life and pursue it without fear of failure.

P.S. When I started writing this, I wanted it to be more in the style of some of those Hazlitt staffers, recounting kooky anecdotes from my year. That may have to wait for another post, I guess.

Best Films of 2012

It’s almost impossible for me to make lists, and yet I compulsively am drawn to making them, or reading other people’s. This is especially true with film, where for me the pleasures of discovery outweigh any sense of satisfaction of “keeping up” with all the new releases. I might have seen about 50 films that were theatrically released this year, which is a tiny fraction of the total, so my list is far from bulletproof. I tend to see a lot of my films at festivals, too, which can skew the experience one way or the other. With all that as prologue, here are my top ten films of the year:

The Master - Paul Thomas Anderson
Only The Young - Elizabeth Mims and Jason TippetThe Imposter - Bart Layton
Moonrise Kingdom - Wes AndersonLooper - Rian JohnsonBernie - Richard Linklater
Indie Game: The Movie - Lisanne Pajot and James SwirskyTchoupitoulas - Bill Ross and Turner RossSound of My Voice - Zal BatmanglijBeasts of the Southern Wild - Benh Zeitlin

  1. The Master (Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson)
  2. Only The Young (Dirs: Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet)
  3. The Imposter (Dir: Bart Layton)
  4. Moonrise Kingdom (Dir: Wes Anderson)
  5. Looper (Dir: Rian Johnson)
  6. Bernie (Dir: Richard Linklater)
  7. Indie Game: The Movie (Dirs: Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky)
  8. Tchoupitoulas (Dirs: Bill Ross and Turner Ross)
  9. Sound of My Voice (Dir: Zal Batmanglij)
  10. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dir: Benh Zeitlin)

And because I’m such a huge fan of documentary film, here is the list of top ten docs:

  1. Only The Young (Dirs: Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet)
  2. The Imposter (Dir: Bart Layton)
  3. Indie Game: The Movie (Dirs: Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky)
  4. Tchoupitoulas (Dirs: Bill Ross and Turner Ross)
  5. The House I Live In (Dir: Eugene Jarecki)
  6. ¡Vivan las Antipodas! (Dir: Victor Kossakovsky)
  7. Room 237 (Dir: Rodney Ascher)
  8. Off Label (Dirs: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher)
  9. The Ambassador (Dir: Mads Brügger)
  10. The World Before Her (Dir: Nisha Pahuja)

Best Music of 2012

I’m realizing that I haven’t done this for a few years now. Although I love music, I find that it takes longer to absorb a new “release” than my perma-shuffling iPod habits can provide, and so I always find myself scrambling during the month of December to attempt some kind of catching up. Ludicrous, of course, when there are thousands of new bands releasing music each year. So the usual disclaimer applies: this is stuff I just happened to buy/download/hear and is in no way meant to be comprehensive.

Beach House - Bloom
DIIV - OshinWild Nothing - Nocturne
Jim Guthrie - Indie Game: The Movie (Soundtrack)Grimes - VisionsDivine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
Now, Now - ThreadsEternal Summers - Correct BehaviorLower Dens - NootropicsJapandroids - Celebration Rock

In list form, if you’re not visually inclined:

  1. Beach House – Bloom
  2. DIIV – Oshin
  3. Wild Nothing – Nocturne
  4. Jim Guthrie – Indie Game: The Movie (Soundtrack)
  5. Grimes – Visions
  6. Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits
  7. Now, Now – Threads
  8. Eternal Summers – Correct Behavior
  9. Lower Dens – Nootropics
  10. Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Honourable Mentions:

  • Bill Fay – Life is People
  • Borko – Born to Be Free
  • Bloc Party – Four
  • Four Tet – Pink

Just for fun, here are some of my previous lists:

How about you? What were some of your favourites?