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Published on December 31st, 2011 | by Culch.ie

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2011: Let’s Hear It For The Best Bits.

Well, that’s it. Come in, 2011, your time is up! And though we’re still busy sweeping up the debris after the budget and detangling mislaid election promises, let’s take a moment to remember the best bits of 2011, the stuff that didn’t make us tut, whimper or rampage across the Bog Of Allen throwing sods of turf at the sky. So pull up a chair (assuming there’s one you didn’t yet burn for firewood) and allow Culch.ie’s writers to take your mind off your boo-boos with our personal favourites from the year that was.

A Head Full Of Jed

2011 definitely had its soaring pop culture highs and its devastating pop culture lows, from the joyful experience of standing front and centre at The Button Factory when Neil Hannon, Cathy Davey et al performed Vampire Weekend’s album for The JD Set in April, to the unbearable skincrawl of even accidentally glancing at The Twitter Machine on a weekend night, only to be assaulted by people commenting in their droves on X-Factor. After much deliberation, my best pop culture moment of 2011 must go to this video, in which my personal heroes Jedward say my actual name…

I have no time for Jedward haters. The Jeds are polite, unendingly upbeat young ‘uns in a whingey, moany, self-serving, down-on-itself world. They work hard, they’re nice to people, they’re funny as, and they make the world a little brighter. Yeah, some PR person told them to say my name, the poor wee dotes, but even if they’re little terrors when the cameras are off they have a touch of that celebrity quality of old, they keep shining ’til the last punter goes home. Thanks Jeds, you got that star quality. (Sinéad)

Epiphanies from The Sisters Of Mercy

11.11.11 The Sisters of Mercy 30th Anniversary Tour at the Olympia

I was expecting to be disappointed. Hadn’t even listened to them in years and the gig 15 years ago was rubbish, but something made me click “Purchase Ticket” and from the first galloping notes of First and Last and Always through to The Temple of Love, crashing down 22 songs later, I was thrilled that I had. There was so much dry ice that all that could be seen was the sexiest glimpse of forearm gripping a mike and some clever looming shadows, but as Andrew Eldritch crooned the lyrics of the angst ridden poetry I’d related to at 14, when I was raw me, pre-influence, struggling through my early teens on this Black Planet, I was shouting along with every single word. It was like a back-to-basics epiphany with a far superior drum machine. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to revisit your teenage idols (are you listening Ian Astbury?) but sometimes they do come through and it’s worth it. A long lost part of me was revived in 2011 and it shows in more than just my eyeliner. (Jenny)

Revived By Drive

My movie of the year is ‘Drive’ and it is full of great cinematic moments. The stand out for many is a stolen kiss and sudden burst of action in an elevator late in the movie, but my standout moment occurs much earlier on and is a much quieter affair. Set in a kitchen, Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling smoulder, achieving more than most romantic duos could ever hope for with simple wordless, smiling exchanges. If you can draw yourself away from Carey Mulligan’s smile you will see a thoughtfully constructed image. The shot shows Gosling, the unnamed anti-hero of the movie, reflected in a mirror behind Mulligan’s back. In the corner of said mirror is a Polaroid of Mulligan’s husband and son, suggesting the complications to come. So too, the drivers reflection is cast in shadow which alludes to an as yet untold darkness. It’s a beautifully simple shot, a self-sustaining image, no exposition, it serves as a microcosm for everything that is achieved in the movie as a whole. Admittedly, this is an over-analysis. But the movie invites it. ‘Drive’ is compellingly-well wade, wonderful to watch, and there is a sense of purpose about every moment. (willok)

The Perfect Game

It had to be Skyrim. From the telltale stoicism of pre-announcement Bethesda to that glorious trailer, every gamer with a pulse was hugging defibrillators in the kind of frenzy last seen when the arse ripped on Justin Bieber’s jeans. Released on 11.11.11, it was as big a moment and as satisfying a result as I’d dared to dream. Sure, it’s occasionally buggy – all video games of that size are – but all in all it’s a gaming experience as near to faultless as I’ve ever played. Whether you’ve chosen to play as a nimble Kaijiit pickpocket or a mead-swilling Orc sellsword, whether you’ve dived straight into unravelling political machinations and shooting blood dragons from the sky, or spent the first fifty hours building your own jewellery business, Skyrim will suck the hours right out of your lifespan and leave you the happiest husk this side of a Kinder Egg. To me, Skyrim represents everything that’s right about video gaming, with its sophisticated storyline, generosity with creative freedoms, and that all-important current of joy the chin-stroking naysayers never take into account. Chinese astrologers will disagree, but I’ll always remember 2011 as the Year Of The Dragon. (Lisa)

Ah, That’s Fass.

All of my favourite things of 2011 share the idea that cynicism really should drag itself back to the nasty hole it came out of, which makes picking just one a pleasurably tough task. Be it a gig where Neil Hannon lead his mates to make Vampire Weekend’s debut album the party of the year, Coldplay’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’ rather literally containing a hopeful transmission, or the film of the year, ‘Perfect Sense’, whose message of “even if the world is ending all around you, happiness is just being with the people you love”, it’s really hard to pick 2011’s perfect moment. However X-Men : First Class had Micheal Fassbender killing Nazis with his mind, while drinking a beer. In a hat. 2012, you have your work cut out to beat that moment, sir. (Andy)

Laughalot On The Spot

It has to be the Laughalot Improv gig I went to at the Duke Bar in August. It was my first improv gig. I was mesmerised by the performers’ ability to create a game out of audience suggestions. They were quick witted and hilarious, all done with such ease and totally unscripted. It proved to me that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. And because it was the best craic ever too, of course! (Amanda)

Obamarama

 I chose this event as my favourite bit of 2011 (although I admit I was very much torn between this, the finale of Game of Thrones and Tanora reverting back to its original formula) because in this case I was THERE, man. To be exact, it was actually the moment we realised that Mr. President was coming down from the stage to shake hands with us, the enraptured crowd squished against the barriers, whereupon we collectively lost our minds with excitement. I managed to shake Michelle’s hand – a properly good handshake she has and she’s bloody radiant to boot. However I just missed out on one from Barack, as he was busy being so incredibly lovely to three little girls in front of me and I didn’t want to interrupt as he was telling one of them that she had “the most spectacular blue eyes”. I’m not going to lie, at that moment I was really quite jealous of an eleven year old. One thing is for certain, the 2011 episode of Reeling In The Years is going to be a doozy. (Kitty)

Bedbound Batters Batman

Misterman should have been the best play I saw this year. I mean, Cillian Murphy sprinting around a warehouse for 80 minutes … that’s a winning formula. But Pillowtalk’s production of another Enda Walsh play, Bedbound, in Temple Bar’s New Theatre edged it out. Thanks to a pair of brilliant performances and some great set design, coupled with Walsh’s usual inventiveness and night-black humour, it was as intense a spectacle as any I’ve seen. It was a god-damn lightning bolt, and I honestly can’t praise it enough. Listen: not two months ago I spent a solid week playing Batman: Arkham City, punching the absolute snot out of a metric arseload of crooks and hoodlums and going up against every supervillain I ever loved as a child, and yet Bedbound was the highlight of my year. That should tell you. (Colm)

Just 20,000 People Standing In A Field


If you’ve been to a festival then you know the story. Three days in and you’re on your last legs. You’ve drank too much and haven’t slept  enough. You’ve lost your coat, your friends, your shoes, your dignity. You’ve made new friends that you’ll never see again. You’ve danced like a lunatic but it was okay because so did everybody else but now it’s Sunday night and it’s almost over. You’re an emotional and physical wreck but you don’t want it to end, you’d sell your Grandmother for one more day. But there isn’t one more day, there’s only one more band and that band is Pulp.

They of course proceeded to play a fantastic set, I had expected nothing less. Jarvis teased and manipulated the crowd as all great frontmen do and we loved him for it. They played the hits and it was great as we knew it would be. Finally they finished with Common People just like we all knew they would.

It’s a sad thing that I know I’m just not a good enough writer to convey to you the pure joy of dancing to that song in that field with those people. It was just one of those perfect moments that are impossible to recreate no matter how hard you might try. It may well have just been me, the crazy guy that everyone avoids making eye contact with but I suspect I wasn’t alone. It was the perfect ending to a great weekend and left me and I suspect others too crossing off the days on our calendars until we can do it all again. (John)

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