For the last three years, Lindsey and I (read: "Lindsey by herself with me just cleaning and moving furniture") have thrown a New Year's Eve Party for a few friends. Like most of you, we eat ghastly amounts of unhealthy food, play games, and bet on dog fights. Wait, you're saying the dog fighting thing is NOT common? Scratch that part. Unlike most of you, I would wager, we finish the night off with a giveaway/friendly competition. Each person brings something that represents their favorite thing of the year and after all the games are over and everyone has accumulated tickets through the games, we place bids on the items until everyone goes home with something awesome. It's a great start to the new year and a fun way for all of us to bond over the victories, growth, and general fun we all experienced in the past 12 months. Some people bring gift cards, some books, some bring some really creative stuff like an Icemaggedon Survival Pack and we all have a few laughs. I had a hard time choosing my favorite thing this year, partly because I can't legally clone Cooper and even if I could, believe you me, I would not be just GIVING copies of the King Baby away, and partly because there were just so many great discoveries/experiences this year. So I thought it might be fun to put together a list, in no particular order, of my favorite things of the year and it felt only right to cap it at 13 things because, you know, 2013. Please note, all things related to Cooper, my actual favorite thing of 2013, have been omitted for obvious reasons.
The Way, Way Back I've got a lot of movie stuff headed to this space next week (in fact the entire week will be dedicated to lists that most of you won't care about) so I'll keep this brief and just say that The Way, Way Backis my favorite movie of the year and I imagine I will be watching it many times over the coming years.
iPad Mini After years of longing for that glorious little screen to make its way into my arms, I finally broke down and purchased an iPad mini this fall right before we went on vacation. Why didn't you guys tell me how awesome these things are? I have gotten so much accomplished and by that of course I mean I've played a TON of Spades and Skip-Bo.
Jason Isbell's Album Southeastern Several of my favorite bands released excellent albums this year, including Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, The Civil Wars, and Pearl Jam (see below). But none of them quite compared to this one. This is gritty, edgy Southern folk rock, I guess, though that summary doesn't do it justice. The best comparison I can make is if Jakob Dylan (of The Wallflowers) grew up in the South, battled a meth addiction, and had probably killed a man at some point in his life. Isbell is a craftsman when it comes to the poetic nature of his lyrics and man, does it sound great. Yay white people music!
The Mad About Movies Podcast Maybe this seems like selfless promotion (and maybe it is) but two friends and I started this film podcast at the beginning of 2013 and it's been an absolute blast. We're now 60 episodes in and, if I do say so myself, it's a lot of fun to listen to, even if you're not as into movies as we are. Moreover, it's been an incredibly enjoyable experience to be able to sit down each week and discuss film in depth.
The Breaking Bad Finale/Water Cooler TV This might very well be the biggest event of 2013 in terms of pop culture relevance, possibly behind only twerking. (I wish that last part was a joke.) I binged through all five seasons of Breaking Badin the weeks leading up to the finale and barely finished in time. The show itself is/was magnificent and wholly enthralling but even better was the buzz that it generated. It felt like everyone was watching this show and we were all eager to talk about it and that sort of event viewing just doesn't happen very often anymore. I can't wait until we recapture this camaraderie when the Two Broke Girlsfinale rolls around in 2021. (Please kill me now.)
The Fifth Grade Fall Fling I got the opportunity this fall to plan and execute a major event for our fifth graders at work and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I put together an Amazing Race throughout the building and parking lot and watched as the kids competed against one another and pulled together within their teams. It was a huge success and it all culminated in one of the coolest worship sessions I've had the privilege to be a part of.
The Kliff Kingsbury Swag For all it's awesomeness, 2013 was a BRUTAL year for me sports wise. The Mavs missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, the Rangers imploded, and Duke basketball was aggravating at best. The lone bright spot on the Brian Gill Personal Sports Landscape was the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech. Kliff brought an atmosphere of "cool" to the program that had been missing over the last three years and reunited a fractured fan base. In short, it's fun to be a Red Raider again.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Trailer While the movie itself turned out to be somewhat divisive (critics didn't care for it but I loved it), this trailer is magnificent. The first time I saw it in a theater the rest of my group all seemed to sit up and take notice then we all glanced at each other and pantomimed our excitement. In fairness, the first couple of teasers for Man of Steelwere probably BETTER trailers but I hated Man of Steelso Mittygets the nod here.
Pearl Jam Concert The older I get, the fewer concerts I go to. They're expensive, there are crowds, and I usually have to drive to Dallas which, I think we can all agree, is the worst. But I've been wanting to see Pearl Jam in concert for many, many years. They hadn't been here in over a decade but when the tour to support their new album was announced and I saw Dallas on the list, I was stoked. That excitement proved to be well-placed as the band put on one of the best shows I've ever been to.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline As per usual, I didn't read as many books this year as I'd hoped to, though my begrudging embrace of eBooks on the iPad helped. But of the dozen or so that I did get through, Ready Player Onewas by far my favorite. Intelligent science fiction is always a favorite of mine and with so much of this book based around 80s/90s nerd culture (video games, music, movies, etc.), this was an easy sell. Highly recommended.
Disney World Trip Perhaps you missed the three part journal I wrote on our recent trip to Disney World. (I agree, three posts was too much.) Spending the first part of the Christmas season in the Happiest Place on Earth was a truly awesome experience and also I got to spend a week in December in 70 degree weather.
The Office Series Finale Once upon a time, it seemed like everyone I knew was watching The Office.Then there were fewer. And fewer. And by the end, it felt like it was just Lindsey and I plus a couple of other loyalists. But even in its weaker moments, my love for the show carried me through and that paid off in spades with the final few episodes. I wept like a tiny baby girl during the finale and having watched it a couple of times since, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make it through without tearing up. (SPOILER ALERT: Do NOT watch the video if you haven't seen the finale yet and plan to do so, ever, in the future.)
Oceans by Hillsong United I honestly don't listen to a lot of Christian/worship music outside of church and there are a lot of reasons for this. But this one started to make the rounds a few months ago and I fell in love with it. Just gorgeous.
Well, those are a few of my favorite things from 2013. Now it's your turn to share some of yours. Thanks for coming around this place during the last year and let's hope 2014 brings even more spectacular memories and experiences! Brian