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Somedays, it’s hard just to get out of bed in the morning, much less spend the rest of the day trying not to be cynical. Especially after the horrifying events in Connecticut, it’s hard to stay upbeat. We even took a little turn for the downtrodden with our list of annoying stuff from the past year. But, we’re not just a bunch of Negative Nancys (we’re pretty sure we don’t even have anyone named Nancy working for us, now that we think about it). There was more to 2012 than a polarizing election and mass shootings! There was also all sorts of cool stuff going on! Here’s just ten of those awesome things.
The Avengers - Some of us are old enough to remember when just the idea of a big budget superhero flick was considered ridiculous. Sure, we had Richard Donner’s Superman, Tim Burton’s Batman flick and James Cameron had planned on making a Spider-Man film (can you imagine that?). But, that was about it. The thought of a big budget X-Men or Green Lantern or even Spider-Man (once it was evident that the James Cameron thing just wasn’t happening) was just that – a thought. Well, here we are at the tail end of 2012 and not only do we have those movies (and then some) but we actually have the culmination of a comic book universe in motion picture form. Not only did Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk have their own movies; not only did they come together in one big budget extravaganza that made a bazillion dollars; not only did they get A-list talent in front of and behind the camera – but it was GOOD. Really good. Toss that in with a year that saw the last of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and 2012 was a great year for comic book films.
Peter Jackson Returns To Middle-Earth - If you look at what Peter Jackson is doing with The Hobbit and compare it with what he did with The Lord of the Rings, you’ll see they’re actually two drastically different projects. Take away all the hubbub about 48 FPS or the fact that Guillermo Del Toro was once involved with these movies and all of that. With LOTR, Peter Jackson and his team had three books and then some to mine for material. He turned a series of books once thought to be unfilmable into a worldwide sensation, making a billion dollars and winning Oscars. With The Hobbit, Jackson has undertaken the task of turning one single book into three different films. In any other director’s hands, this would be cause for panic. But, despite Jackson’s latest hit or miss output, the first Hobbit movie turned out to be pretty damned amazing. It was a great way to wind down 2012 and we can’t wait for the rest.
Paul McCartney + 3/4 Nirvana Was Awesome - When word got out that surviving members of Nirvana were going to reunite and perform a song with Sir Paul McCartney of all people, you could almost hear the collective eye roll of rock music fans. “Is he going to sing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’?!” came the imaginary outcry, “Is this an Onion headline?” Then, the benefit for Hurricane Sandy victims came about and then this happened:
What could have been a joke turned out to be one of the coolest things to happen in music in years – and all for a good cause. Between this and his cameo in The Muppets, we shall never doubt Dave Grohl again.
CM Punk Is Still WWE Champion - Professional wrestling is always going to be that form of entertainment that will always be on everyone’s radar, whether they like it or not. But, this entry is pretty much for the actual wrestling fans among our readers and our staff. If that’s not you, please feel free, with no offense taken on our part, to the next entry. Anyway, CM Punk, the Chicago native who cut his bones (is that an actual phrase?) in Ring Of Honor Wrestling, the guy who was “too small” to make it to the big time has held the WWE Championship longer than anyone in recent memory. This, along with the recent influx of new talents (such as The Shield and last night’s debut of Big E Langston), give us high hopes that WWE has grand plans to entertain us all.
The Cabin In The Woods- The Avengers wasn’t Joss Whedon’s only contribution to the plethora of good stuff in 2012. Written and produced by Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, this clever take on the horror genre nearly saw itself snuffed out in the ensuing bankruptcy proceedings of MGM (the same shenanigans that nearly kept us from seeing Skyfall). Luckily, everything worked out and Cabin In The Woods saw its debut at SXSW in Austin this year. One of the best movies of the year.
The Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals Made The MLB Playoffs - For years, both teams surrounding the Nation’s Capital had been jokes. The Orioles had hardly seen any success since Cal Ripken, Jr. retired and the Nationals hadn’t seen any semblance of relevancy since they were in Montreal (and even then, save for a winning, albeit strike shortened, season in 1994, they kind of sucked). This past season was different. Both Baltimore and Washington made it to the playoffs and, for a brief moment, it looked like we could see a D.C.-area World Series. Sadly, both teams were knocked out in the first round of divisional playoffs. Still, it was great to see two teams that have struggled for years (along with the Oakland A’s and the Cincinnati Reds) finally get a little glory in a league overshadowed by larger market teams.
Gangnam Style - We may have bemoaned the viral method in which this song came to prominence in our previous article, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love this song. It’s stupid, it has a ridiculous dance that goes with it and we’re sure that even native Korean speakers find the lyrics incomprehensible. Which are all reason why we love it. It’s supposed to be stupid, the dance is supposed to be ridiculous and who care what the lyrics are, anyway? One of the most popular music videos of the year (and, apparently, the most watched YouTube video of all time) has a chubby Korean guy doing a horsey dance over a toilet while shouting “Heeeeeeeeey, sexy lady!” If you don’t think that’s awesome, you’re dead inside.
Halo 4- There were a number of great games that came out this year and, by no means, is Halo 4‘s inclusion on this list to be taken as us naming it “Game of the Year” (Todd’s working on that list as we speak, by the way). But, there’s something strangely comfortable and, at the same time, exciting about a new Halo game. The original Halo: Combat Evolved launched with the original Xbox, setting off a chain reaction of sorts that led to Microsoft’s latest system to be the industry leader. While we all complain about sequels and unoriginal ideas in the gaming world just as much as we do about the film world, a well-made, fun new Halo game is always welcome and we got to see it in 2012.
Pot Is Legal In Washington and Colorado- Here at Nuclear Salad, we try to adhere by, at the very least, two basic rules. We tend to avoid politics whenever possible (that just tends to get people all feisty, and usually not in a good way) and we don’t pry when it comes to what our staff does off the clock. But, the legalization of marijuana in two states in the US, we feel, is an amazing step in the right direction. Yes, pot is still illegal on a federal level (and if you play for the Broncos or the Seahawks, you better not toke up, either) but it’s evidence that the idea that marijuana is as dangerous as crack or heroin (when, in reality, it’s no more dangerous than alcohol) is being discounted by the majority of intelligent adults in this country. Still, we’ll be celebrating this good news with a glass of milk and a hearty game of Parcheesi. Ooh, maybe we can watch The Lion King afterwards!
Nuclear Salad Launches! - That’s right! 2012 was the year in which our dream project, this website you’re reading right now, came about. And, it truly is awesome. I (and this is me, Kevin Sullivan, writing in first person now) started this website back in August of this year with just a germ of an idea. Since then it’s grown to levels I couldn’t even have imagined and is just getting bigger. None of it would have been possible without our managing editor and my partner, Jason Dubinsky, who has shown a level of enthusiasm and dedication that, honestly, shocked me – and in a good way. He and his wife (and our Beer, Booze & Food editor) Lola Hensel have been the heart and soul of this site. None of this would have been possible, also, without our marketing director (and my love) Anna Harrod. She went beyond the usual “my girlfriend is our number one fan!” and took an active role in promoting this site.
Thank you to Macario Reyes, who got us up and running and is still the first guy we look to when the technical shit hits the fan. He’s also a really good writer. Thank you to Jeff O’Brien for designing our logo – it is iconic and awesome. Thank you to Lee Vanwallene for designing our t-shirts (they’re coming soon, I SWEAR!) and our BNAT buttons. And, to Jamie, Josh, Todd from Cincinnati, OzTodd, the other Jason D, Jana, Barbara, Mike & Tim, Seth, Noel and Daniel. Thank you guys for all your hard work.
Now that that whole lovefest is over… what was YOUR favorite thing about 2012? Post your comments below!