The O-town Scene

December 29, 2011

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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Top 5 Cultural Memories of 2011 Each year holds distinct cultural memories, and 2011 was no different. Here are my top 5 tidbits of pop culture that are going in my mental folder of this year. Some were new to everyone this year, some have been around for a while, but all were new to me this year. – Cassandra Miller having affairs, and a mother sleeping with her teenage stepson the day of her husband's funeral and all the repercussions that carry with such ac- tions over the years. 'Moneyball' Another short story writer joined my book- shelf this year _ Alice Munro. Her "Too Much Happiness" also included stories that pose the question "How do you go on living after that?" She answers the question in beautifully unfolded stories that expose the dire side of life, always ending with hope glimmering through the muck of living with some pretty intense baggage. Humans are resilient, and we can pretty much keep living through anything. 3 Josh Ritter Sings in the Dark and Other 1 Moving Movies: Pitt, Paris, Poofy Dresses For two weeks after seeing "Moneyball," every life situation could be compared to Billy Bean and the Oakland A's. I'm sure my friends got annoyed at my constant references of "It's just like 'Moneyball'" and "What would Brad Pitt do?" The film takes place in the early '00s, around the time I was very into baseball, knowing all the players, coaches and manag- ers of my then-perpetual underdog team, the Boston Red Sox. (Hold your boos, Yankees fans.) "Moneyball" celebrates thinking outside the box and cheering for the underdogs in any situation. "Bridesmaids" was charming and hilarious, and included a lot of honesty underneath the caricatures and occasional bathroom humor. "Midnight in Paris" was another charmer _ the city shots, the nostal- gia, the cultural icons, the taller and more likeable Woody Allen incar- nate in Owen Wilson's body, the life lesson of living in the present. 2 Short Stories Packed with Sorrow and Hope I always thought short stories were meant for seventh-grade English classes, until this year when I picked up a favorite author's recent collec- tion of them. Amy Bloom's "Where the God of Love Hangs Out" included stories of senior citizens 8 O-Town Scene Dec. 29, 2011 Stellar Oneonta Shows My favorite concert-going experience this year was seeing singer-songwriter Josh Ritter perform at the Oneonta Theatre. The crowd was small, but fiercely involved in the per- formance, a chorus of about 200 singing backup in the dark to Ritter, who asked that every light in the theater be turned off for a song or two. The singer, author and student of Americana folk music smiled the entire night. Those in the audience could not help getting a contact high from Ritter's beaming happiness. I don't know the words to any of the songs by Oneonta- based band the Horseshoe Lounge Playboys, but this year I discovered why they have such a fierce following. Their shows are a guaranteed good time, with lots of uninhibited arm- flailing and boot-stomping. I saw them at Lumpy's Roadhouse and the Autumn Cafe. Another energetic act that has played multiple Oneonta shows is Brooklyn-based NY Funk Exchange. The band's sassy lead singer has a soulful voice and mesmerizing stage presence, and the instrumentalists are just as talented. I've seen them a couple of times at the Autumn Cafe, and I hope they keep coming back. 4 The Oprah Show and 'Friday Night Lights' Say Goodbye to Viewers Lots of mascara running down cheeks when these two shows wrapped up their series. Oprah seems to live well _ how she uses her millions for the greater good, and how she finds value in every person and situation. Oodles of life lessons from watching her TV show, which went off the air this Josh Ritter year after 25 seasons. Thankfully, O Maga- zine still arrives in the mail each month. "Friday Night Lights" was another TV gem that completed its series this year. I'm nowhere close to being a football fan, but I rooted for everyone who was a part of this Texas high school football-obsessed town. All the characters were flawed, but each one was doing the best he or she could. I sobbed when the gorgeously told finale aired. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. 5 Exuberant Music, Baltimore Crime, Social Media and a Baseball Book Givers. Scene music columnist Mark Boshnack introduced me to their poppy experimental songs, which have been regu- lars on my work-out and getting ready playlists for months. "The Wire." Several friends whose pop culture opinions I value are obsessed with this HBO series about crime in Balti- more that aired from 2002 to 2008, so to finally understand their references to Hamsterdam and McNulty, I rented the first season and became best friends with the guys at Blockbuster as I stayed up late to find out what happened to my favorite drug kingpin and alcoholic detective. Season five, the final one focused on the newspaper, and bottles of Cupcake wine will be taking up girls' night this January. Foursquare. This social media app lets you check in on your smart phone wherever you are, rack- ing up points that give you badges and titles. Af- ter "checking in" twice to The Daily Star, I became mayor, just how I like it. "Art of Fielding." I started reading this book about a college baseball short stop the day after Christmas, and can al- ready tell it's going to be one of my favorite books of the year, which is the distinction it's been given by almost every media group that makes such a list.

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