After the Gold Rush
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In the year that albums, long afterthoughts to the ubiquitous media blitzes promoting them, officially devolved into inconsequential "accessories" for the tech gadgets we play them on, Kanye delivered another brilliant, confounding long-player--a polemical 'fuck you' to the culture of compulsive disposability that is, at the same time, thoroughly immersed in said culture. Conversely, at the year's eleventh hour, Beyoncé unloaded a dazzling set of songs that should-- however temporarily--give the few remaining mourners for the (Actually Really Good) Album-As-Event pause in finalizing their obituaries. Song-wise, things are, of course, far less grim: Drake, Miley, and Selena (all of whom, it should be noted, too, put out strong albums unfairly penalized for being inevitably anticlimactic) delivered classics as good as the best pop songs from back when, you know, music mattered. Drake even promises sweetly to take us home when we're in no condition to get back on our own, thus allowing listeners to blissfully ignore for three and a half minutes the cold, hard, omnipresent fact that we can't go home again.

Okay. On to the lists.

01. Kanye West - Yeezus
02. Beyoncé - Beyoncé
03. A Tribe Called Red - Nation II Nation
04. Drake - Nothing Was the Same
05. Selena Gomez - Stars Dance
06. Miley Cyrus - Bangerz
07. Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
08. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito
09. The Julie Ruin - Run Fast
10. Jay Z - Magna Carta...Holy Grail

01. Drake - "Hold On, We're Going Home"
02. Drake - "Worst Behavior"
03. Selena Gomez - "Slow Down"
04. Rich Homie Quan - "Type of Way"
05. Miley Cyrus - "We Can't Stop"
06. Beyonce feat. Jay Z - "Drunk in Love"
07. Charli XCX - "I Want It That Way"
08. Selena Gomez - "Come and Get It"
09. Eminem - "Berzerk"
10. Ying Yang Twins - "Miley Cyrus"


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Here are the 20 films I liked or admired most this year.

In my view, it's an extraordinarily strong group of twenty; I'm normally hesitant to use the 'M'-word, but roughly a third of these arguably qualify as masterpieces--including a film I've ranked (for now) as low as #12; Tsai's utterly haunting purported swansong is the film from this year that I most fervently anticipate revisiting soon. The others are no less than superb. #1--resplendent, profound, perfect--is, as a trilogy-for-now with the earlier Before... films, among my very favorite things in all of cinema. #2, meanwhile, might well be the most flagrantly underappreciated film of the twenty-first century thus far.

01. Before Midnight (Linklater)
02. To the Wonder (Malick)
03. The Past (Farhadi)
04. The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer)
05. 12 Years a Slave (McQueen)
06. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen/Coen)
07. Spring Breakers (Korine)
08. The Lords of Salem (Zombie)
09. All Is Lost (Chandor)
10. Gravity (Cuaron)
11. Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Barnaby)
12. Stray Dogs (Tsai)
13. A Touch of Sin (Jia)
14. Much Ado About Nothing (Whedon)
15. The Bling Ring (Coppola)
16. Our Sunhi (Hong)
17. Frances Ha (Baumbach)
18. Fruitvale Station (Coogler)
19. The Conjuring (Wan)
20. A Field in England (Wheatley)


As Things Stand at Present  photo joegirardi_zpsc74bdb81.jpg
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 New York Yankees:

1. Brett Gardner [LF]
2. The Ghost of Derek Jeter [SS]
3. Totally-Not-on-PEDs Miraculous Second Coming of Alfonso Soriano [DH]
4. Carlos Beltran [RF]
5. Brett Gardner Making Nine Figures Jacoby Ellsbury [CF]
6. Brian McCann [C]
7. The Ghost of Mark Texeira [1B]
8. Not Robinson Cano [2B]
9. Who the Fuck Knows [3B]