Friday, October 21, 2011

best of 2011: miscellany

It's a little early for this list, but I'm kind of trapped in my cube because they're filming an episode of The Office here again, and if you want to go ANYWHERE in the fucking building other than the bathroom, some officious security guard or PA gets all up in your face and it really isn't worth it. So I will be skipping my usual Friday lunch trip to the library and writing this instead.

A few notes before I begin:

* Not all of these things were first created in 2011, but since that's when I first watched/ate/smelled them, they belong on this list.

* I played so many terrific video games this year that they'll be getting their own list later, along with novels, nonfiction, manga/graphic novels, and movies. I'll probably start posting those in late November.

* As always, your mileage may vary.

So here we have a vanilla ice cream bar that's coated in chocolate.

"BFD," you sarcastically snort. "Ooooh, vanilla with a chocolate coating! That's so edgy!"



On top of the chocolate is a gloriously gooey caramel coating, and THEN MORE CHOCOLATE. That's right, it's chocolate, then caramel, then chocolate, and then vanilla bean ice cream. Three layers of delicious on top of yummy.

Wilfred is a strange little show. In the first episode, Ryan (Elijah Wood) tries to commit suicide by overdosing on antidepressants. When his doorbell rings, he groggily answers it and his cute neighbor asks if he can watch her dog Wilfred for a couple of days. Ryan is confused...understandably so, because Wilfred is actually a man in a dog suit, but for some reason, nobody else sees him that way. Wilfred becomes a mentor of sorts for Ryan, helping him come out of his shell and embrace life, though not always in the healthiest or most altruistic way. Certainly not for everybody, but I think it's worth a look.

In Bob's Burgers, the title character runs a hamburger restaurant with his strange family: wife Linda, awkward daughter Tina (my favorite character), goofy son Gene, and borderline psychotic daughter Louise (perfectly voiced by Kristen Schaal). The animation is nothing special, but it's an oddly endearing and genuinely funny show. G and I were happy to hear that it got picked up for a second season despite middling ratings, especially since it's much funnier than The Simpsons was last season. (Sorry, Simpsons, I love you and will watch you to the bitter end, but you've kind of been sucking for the last few years.)


Of all the weird things on my list, this new TV show just may be the weirdest.

The Harmon family---husband Ben, wife Vivien, and daughter Violet---move to Los Angeles from Boston looking for a new start after Ben's infidelity and Vivien's miscarriage. Their dream home quickly becomes a nightmare, thanks to its long history of murdered inhabitants, creepy neighbors, a latex-clad incubus, and something very strange in the basement.

It may be a bit premature to put this on the list; I've only seen two episodes so far, and Ryan Murphy's projects have a habit of shitting the bed. (I stopped watching Glee after the first season, and although I watched every episode of Nip/Tuck, it became a real slog near the end.) But so far, it's riveting, unnerving, and nuttier than a squirrel turd. I kind of love it.

I love anime and I love zombies, and it turns out that they're two great tastes that taste great together!

Highschool of the Dead follows a group of high school students as they fight their way to safety through hordes of zombies and assorted psychopaths, including a teacher who's one of the creepiest fucking characters I've seen in a long time. If you're offended by violence or seriously intense fanservice, stay far away; otherwise, this is a gory little treat. (Available on Netflix instant watch and Hulu.)

Vanilla bean ice cream? Sure, but it's a little boring by itself. What's that? Salty caramel swirl? Ooh, now you're talking! And... way. Did I hear you correctly? Fudge-covered potato chip clusters that miraculously retain their crunch?


We're pretty tardy to this party, but G and I recently started watching The Wire after Alan Moore said it was the best TV show ever made. We're not far enough into it (about halfway through the second season) to agree or disagree with Mr. Moore, but so far it's really good. The acting and writing in this police drama are first rate, and despite his lifestyle---by which I mean crime, of course, not being gay---Omar is by far my favorite character, y'heard?

The first time I tried this, I thought "Whoo, way too tangy for me!" But apparently it's an acquired taste, because now I love this stuff. And joy of joys---my local Target has started carrying it for $1.50 less per box than Whole Foods charges! Score!

I got a sample of this perfume recently, and holy freakin' WOW is it wonderful. It smells like a really upscale French bakery, with notes of toasted bread, spices, sandalwood, and licorice. Only the $120 price tag is keeping me from buying a full bottle immediately. For now, I'll carefully hoard my sample for special occasions and sweet daydreams.

If loving this Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom meets Jackass hybrid is wrong, I don't want to be right. Seriously, there's just something about watching Steve-O get bitten on the ass by assorted critters and Chris Pontius happily romping naked through a stampeding herd of wildebeest that tickles my funny bone.