Recorded Conversations: New Favorites from 2012

Welcome to “Recorded Conversations,” an occasional feature where all the Addison Recorder editors contribute their thoughts about a question, idea, or prompt. Everyone will chime in, and then we see where the conversation wanders.

Question: To ring in the New Year on the Recorder, we look to our recent past and ask “What new thing (or things) that you discovered in 2012 has become one of your favorites?”

Wait, seriously? It’s 2013?

Well… crap. Last I recall, it was September, and suddenly I look and I’ve been on a hiatus nearly as long as Homestar Runner (.com). But I shall clear the cobwebs and my fuzzy memory of the past twelve months to talk about discoveries and my new favorite thing(s). Before we get to the Favorites, let’s look at those that came oh-so-close:

THE WARM-UP

Once upon a time, I kept up with the cutting edge of music. Oh, sure, I continue to discover more quirky Scandinavian groups each year (Of Monsters & Men this year, Katzenjammer this year or last) to add to my tally, and put them in heavy rotation in my playlists. And I haven’t been totally absent in discovering new bands. I’m enjoying the debut album of critical darlings alt-J, but nothing this year has dethroned TV On The Radio’s Nine Types of Light, the 2011 album that is still my favorite. (If you have a spare hour, check out the album’s music video anthology:)

Other realms of popular culture fared similarly. I was poised to count the Minnesota Wild and the NHL as rediscovered new favorites… until the lockout killed half the season. I’ve found the Discovery Channel’s Curiosity series occasionally fascinating, but it hasn’t supplanted Mythbusters or the Venture Brothers. Will the Hobbit movies become new favorites? It’s too soon to tell, though I appreciate the decision to create a prequel trilogy to Lord of the Rings, rather than just adapting the children’s tale.

Trying to think about the mainstream comics industry this past year makes me want to drink. So I shall…

NEARLY THERE: DRINKING IN 2012

After discovering so many great cocktails, spirits, and bars in 2011, this last year had its work cut out for it. I did find a bar that, while not new, was a discovery for me. In Chicago’s River North neighborhood, in the basement of Pops For Champagne, is a place known as Watershed. It’s a chill place to have a delicious drink, it features local spirits & mixers on its menu of creative cocktails, and it has a great beer menu for your non-cocktailing friends. It’s likely to become a favorite of mine.

For the home bar, my taste buds discovered a plethora of liqueurs in 2012: Clement Créole Shrubb, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, natural cherry Grand Marnier, edelkirsch from Alfred Schlederer, and Silver Lining from North Shore Distillery.

Liqueurs!

This is what passes as my sweet tooth.

But the best thing I drank wasn’t exactly a discovery; it was a new (limited) bourbon from an old favorite.

See, I already count Four Roses as my favorite bourbon, especially their Small Batch. After a craft spirits event at Jerry’s Sandwiches here in Chicago, I had the opportunity to try the 2012 Limited Edition small-batch from Four Roses. Wow. Just… wow. Maybe the enjoyable folks I was drinking with influenced my opinion, but it was may have been the best dram of whiskey I’ve ever had. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one harboring this opinion.

Like I said, though, Four Roses is already a personal favorite, so this wasn’t exactly a discovery. Which brings us to the 2012 discovery that has become a new favorite:

TABLETOP

It has been a glorious year for the hardcore board game geek and the casual tabletop gamer alike. For yours truly, there was no shortage to the ludic discoveries. One such unearthing was the board game Eclipse, a taut and amazingly-balanced game of galactic exploration & conquest. Beyond new games, 2012 also produced a number of new expansions that elevated already-great games, bringing new discovery to old games: Dixit: Journey brought the series’ artwork to new levels; 7 Wonders: Cities added new elements and formats; print-on-demand modules for Mansions of Madness brought new voices & horrors to investigate; and the second expansion for Cards Against Humanity brought the horribleness into new heights of silliness, surreality, and absurdity.

But tabletop gaming also dominated the digital realm. Kickstarter provided opportunities for a variety of gaming projects, whether they were board games (D-Day Dice), role-playing games (The Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man), or game accessories (Dice Rings). 2012 was also a phenomenal year for digital adaptations of beloved board games — I’ve been addicted to the iOS versions of San Juan and Stone Age.

Seriously, addicted. In fact, I’m playing Stone Age as I type this.

The absolute new favorite that I discovered this last year, though, is TableTop. I wrote about this biweekly web series, part of the Geek & Sundry lineup of Internet shows and content, shortly after it started up. Since that time, it has gone to “fun new thing” to “absolute favorite, must-see (Internet) TV.” Even when it comes to games I have little interest in (such as zombie survival or castle defense), it still makes for compelling watching. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s enlightening, and whenever I watch it, I get a grin – again and again.

But don’t just take my word for it: fellow BGSU alum and pop culture guru Jeff McGinnis labeled it as his favorite thing of 2012. Or, y’know, you could watch an episode. It’s almost addictive as this game of Stone Age I’m playing on my iPhone.

 

-J.

-J.

The entity known as -J. would be at home in a place like Carcosa or Night Vale, but instead lives near a far more dreary place -- Wrigley Field. He is the patron Addisonian of whisk(e)y and tabletop games, and is often adorned with a waistcoat & his ridiculous mustache.

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