Well, here we are. The year 2013 is nearly at an end.
As is tradition, many magazines, websites and other publications published their “best of” and “worst of” lists for the year. These lists examine the highlights and lowlights of everything from movies to books to gadgets to trends and beyond.
We all get inundated with year-end lists this time of year.
So, of course, I’m going to give you one more. Send all complaints to: Richard “Roth IRA” Whiting, P.O. Box 1018, Greenwood, SC 29648.
What follows is a quick look at some of my favorite, and least favorite, things in 2013.
BEST MOVIE — Back in July, I wrote that “Mud” was, at the time, my favorite film of the year.
Despite a serious challenge from the recently released “American Hustle,” I can tell you “Mud” is still the best movie I saw in 2013.
Directed by Jeff Nichols, “Mud’ is a movie that actually dares to get the South right. Set on the banks of the Mississippi River, it’s a coming-of-age story centered on two boys who help a mysterious stranger in his attempt to reconnect with a lost love, while also avoiding the threat of violence from a group of hitmen.
Matthew McConaughey gives a tremendous performance in “Mud.” McConaughey had an impossibly good year, with career redefining turns in “Mud,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Again, I will give honorable mention to “American Hustle,” David O. Russell’s take on the fringes of the Abscam investigation in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
While the story is somewhat scattershot, “American Hustle” is an actor’s showcase, led by a uncharacteristically charming performance from Christian Bale.
Of course, Jennifer Lawrence steals the movie, because she’s Jennifer Lawrence. It is literally a joy to watch her act.
WORST SONG — Back in the early summer, I was driving along when a song came on the radio. I was listening to a Top 40 station at the time.
The song sounded stunningly like Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got To Give It Up.”
I thought to myself “Why would a Top 40 station be playing an old Marvin Gaye song?”
Oh, but it wasn’t Marvin Gaye. It was, of course, Robin Thicke and what would become the most ubiquitous song of the year, “Blurred Lines.” The song, um, borrowed liberally from the sound of the Gaye classic.
I guess it might be wrong to label “Blurred Lines” as the “worst” song of the year, but it certainly became the most worn out. I think the song was played on the radio approximately 10,897,109,384 times. Pop stations played it. Urban stations played it. Country stations probably played it. I think NPR even played it.
I’m told “Blurred Lines” is now the national anthem of Uzbekistan.
Also, “Blurred Lines” indirectly led to the term “twerking” being introduced into the consciousness of mainstream America, as Miley Cyrus infamously “twerked” on Thicke during a performance of “Blurred Lines” at the MTV Video Music Awards.
I’ve known about twerking for years, from those long-ago, innocent days (the late 1990s) when it was known as “P-Popping.”
I will say, it sure was fun to hear the talking heads on TV news shows analyze twerking.
MOST PUZZLING TREND — I’ve perhaps never been more perplexed by a trend than the practice of customers “paying it forward” at Starbucks.
For the uninitiated, there was a trend this year — at many restaurants, but particularly at Starbucks — where people would essentially pay for each other’s drinks.
A customer will pull up to the drive-through window and discover their coffee was already paid for by the customer who came before them in line. Upon discovering this generosity, the second customer will then “pay it forward” by picking up the bill for the customer behind them in the drive-through line. And so it goes.
Now, is this a very nice thing for people to do for each other? Yes. Is it generous? Of course.
However, if you are looking to do something nice and generous with your money, don’t you think you could find a more useful beneficiary than a random person behind you in line at Starbucks, one who is likely driving a $40,000 SUV and is, you know, prepared to willingly purchase an $8 cup of coffee?
If you want to be generous with a few dollars, how about giving the money to the Soup Kitchen, the Food Bank or United Ministry? How about putting those dollars in the collection plate at church? Or maybe donating them to nonprofit civic organizations like the Greenwood Community Theatre or The Museum?
Not that there’s anything wrong with buying expensive coffee for well-to-do strangers. But, there are many people and organizations in need that also could use someone who is willing to “pay it forward.”
I’m probably going to get hate mail for this one, too. Send those letters to: Scott “Boo Bear” Chancey, P.O. Box 1018, Greenwood, SC 29648.
ON A SEPARATE, BUT RELATED, NOTE, I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. Don’t shoot too many fireworks and, if you are going to enjoy some spirits, PLEASE make sure you have a designated driver.
All the best in 2014.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.