These Are a Few of My Favorite (2017) Things

Absoludicrous’s very first year of existence is winding down, so I think for the next two weeks it’ll be fun to look back on some of the things that made this year special.

Next week I’ll be going into incredible detail over some of the best songs that came out this year, but I thought it would also be fun to talk about some of the non-music things I loved this year.

I tried to stick to things that are new this year, but some of the items on this list could, technically, belong to other years. My only criteria was it was something that I loved this year in particular, and I recommend to you!

1. Podcasts

I’m starting out with maybe the biggest contributor for this year. I fell hard for podcasts this year – mainly the McElroy series of products (“My Brother, My Brother, and Me”, “Sawbones”, and “The Adventure Zone” specifically), and My Favorite Murder. Plus, I’ve written several times this year about the podcasts I love, “My Brother, My Brother, and Me” here (and about their TV show here), “The Adventure Zone” here, and “My Favorite Murder” here.

Podcasts are an interesting breed of entertainment – they’re very much suited for a specific type of lifestyle. It’s really difficult to sit down and just flat out do nothing but listen to a podcast, but if you’re doing some menial or walking somewhere, they’re the best entertainment around. I spent many, many hours this summer lying facedown on my bed binging these podcasts, sure, but I was often playing some sort of mindless game on my phone. Even more often I was working out or working on an Illustrator project. More recently, podcasts have been my companion as I walk from class to class at college or sit in my dorm doing my makeup or washing dishes or taking a shower.

One of the things I’ve noticed in college is that I spend a lot more time alone than I ever have. I’m blessed to live on a floor with lots of great people and I have a wonderful roommate, but I still do spend a lot of quiet time by myself. And when I’m craving that human contact, that group of friends to laugh along with, podcasts have been a really excellent solution. They’re easy anxiety relief, and can quickly take my mind off of my worries. I’m really thankful for that, and I’m excited to keep up with all of my favorites in the coming year, as well as try out new ones.

2. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Speaking of anxiety relief, Nintendo’s newest app game based on their classic series Animal Crossing is maybe the most calming thing out there. I’ve been a fan of Animal Crossing for years, and I am continuously impressed by how well this app encompasses the charm of the mainstream series while still remaining simple and approachable as an app.

Running chores for a selection of colorful animal friends, decorating your campsite and your camper, collecting materials, dressing up in a wide variety of clothes, gardening… there’s a lot to do in this game and yet it’s still simple and calming. There’s also a lot of great collaborative aspects of the game, so it’s encouraged to play with others. I’m a huge fan, and I’m excited to see what other features are added as the game matures.

3. Doki Doki Literature Club

I already talked at length about how 100% floored I was by this simple psychological horror game dressed up as an Otome… but it bears repeating. DDLC is surprising and meaningful, well-crafted, and legitimately one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever experienced. But I would go back and play it again. It plays with your expectations and is honest-to-goodness one of the best examples of a “meta” game that actually does something meaningful with it (as opposed to just messing around with your files and dumping you back on the desktop a few times to remind you you’re playing a game).

For the best example of how excellently this game plays with its own genre, look no further than my absolute favorite scare in this game – one that only shows up for those who are livestreaming the game. (Spoiler and Jumpscare Warning)

It’s just so… brilliant. The unsettling fear that she knows that you’re recording her, that playing with your expectations with the slow zoom, that awareness on Monika’s part that the player is probably scared of her… it’s just so excellent both in the game’s universe and out of it. I really want to see more games that play with their own conventions creatively like this – it makes for great horror and even better story-telling.

4. Face Off

One of the perks of living in on-campus housing is I get to use a service called “Xfinity on Campus”… basically just access to a wide variety of Xfinity channels as well as Xfinity On Demand. Through this service I was able to reconnect to a series I’ve loved for years but never was able to find all in one place for binging.

“Face Off” is Syfy’s special effects makeup competition series. It throws a group of up-and-coming special effects makeup artists into weekly challenges, usually giving them about a day or so to turn their models into sci-fi aliens, fantasy creatures, or horrific monsters. I think the range of artistry is pretty impressive, but I think the other reason I really love this series is that the best artists always come up with interesting stories behind the characters they create. As a character-building enthusiast, this is something I really enjoy watching.

It’s legitimately some of the most incredible artistry I’ve ever seen on TV. Unfortunately, this is a hard show to catch if you don’t have a cable subscription that gives you access to series like these. Otherwise, you can watch it on Syfy and marvel at how talented people are. Seriously.

5. Slime

Okay, I know, this is maybe a weird thing to include in a list of otherwise media-products. But allow me to make a case for slime. As I’ve mentioned a few times so far on this list, college has taught me, among other things, that there is a lot of value to things that relieve stress. And I found part of my stress and anxiety-relief in a weird genre of videos – Instagram slime videos.

Laugh it up all you want, but the new influx of small slime-making business owners taking short videos of them playing with their slime is a weirdly satisfying and calming thing to watch. I actually ended up ordering some for myself, and am now the proud owner of a blob of pastel-blue slime with big purple foam beads inside. (And if you’re wondering, it smells like blueberry muffins and feels really cool).

It took me a little while to get over the hump of feeling slightly ashamed of how juvenile and silly my interest in slime seemed. But eventually I’ve found that it’s not at all silly to enjoy something that calms you down and makes you happy. It’s a lesson I haven’t yet fully internalized, but I think the slime helps represent steps forward toward not feeling ashamed for the things I like.

6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’ve loved “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” basically ever since I first saw season one a while ago. But season three started this year and hoo boy is it ever good.

I felt season two had a bit of a tonal problem. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, but it felt like the series couldn’t quite figure out whether it wanted to be purely dark comedy or comedy with a heavy emphasis on dark. I’m glad that, come season three, the series has fully accepted its role as a comedy with a surprisingly heavy story, and they’ve managed to hit the same stride they had in season one once again.

I’m sure I’ll be posting a full review of the season once it’s over, but for now I’ve been really enjoying it, and I have to give it a shout out.

7. This Blog

And finally, perhaps most importantly, I feel a great deal of gratitude to this blog in 2017. I started it without really realizing how much good it would do me to have weekly deadlines for my writing. It has gotten me writing even more frequently than I have in years, and has given me tons of practice in communicating my thoughts.

Plus, it’s given me practice in Illustrator and Photoshop and… I’ll be honest, has drawn a lot more attention than I had initially expected. If you’ve been following me since I started, or even if you’ve only dropped in on a post or two, I thank you so much. I would have kept writing every week regardless of how many views I got, but the views and the comments and the feedback always help. Plus, I’ve loved collaborating with people I love and publishing their thoughts and work on this blog.

Basically, it’s been nothing but good in my life, and I fully intend to continue posting weekly into 2018. I’ll also probably be revamping my layout a bit and maybe cleaning some stuff up. I hope to continue to entertain and inform as many people who stumble upon this blog as I can.

And those are just a small handful of the things that made my 2017 memorable. Believe me, there’s much more to come next week. Thank you, as always, for reading and have a wonderful and warm holiday.

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