Mammal’s Entertainment Top 10 of 2013
There’s more to life than music. I don’t know what, but somebody said there is.
There’s more to life than music and sex. There are other sources of unending pleasure. But… but… Mammal, you don’t play computer or console games! What else can there be, other than beer and sneaking more cigarettes than you should?
Well, there will be more great music in what’s left of this year. There won’t be any new entertainment, however. I have enough reading to keep me going into 2033. All that’s left in Other Entertainment in 2013 is variety shows featuring Cliff Richard, highlights of news you didn’t watch when it was news, and animated movies about Santa Claus fighting a Michael Jackson zombie that eats little boys.
Here, then, is my best of what was during this year. It’s ordered by vaguely logical flow, not by particular preference.
Movie of the Year: The Life of Pi
This is the best movie I’ve ever seen about a tiger adrift in a lifeboat for 46 years. Five tigers played the lead role of the tiger named Richard Parker. Four of them were real, and the fifth, the tiger that did the stunt work, was made on a computer.
All five of these tigers are the best actor in the history of acting. They do a monumentally good job of revealing the truth that all of us should know – namely, that tigers are exactly like my Tiny Tiny Cakey Kitten except for a slight difference in size. Also, they prefer ocean fish and zebras to Royal Canin Fit 32 dry food. Or at least, they didn’t have Royal Canin on the lifeboat. Also, they are not as rough as T.T.C. Kitten.
I believe there were some people in the movie. I can’t vouch for that. I couldn’t take my eyes off the five Richard Parkers. He/they are the most enchanting creatures except for Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy.
TV Drama of the Year: Downton Abbey III
This was the concluding season of the series that took us motoring from a few months after the sinking of the Titanic to a few years before the sinking of Wall Street. Seldom have so many ageing but gorgeous stars been assembled in any cast. Their performance was outstanding apart from a couple of crashes and a few breakdowns (those were by the metalcore cars).
She might not have been the most glamorous, but the star I want to single out is the Morris Cowley Bullnose. I may have to rewatch the series to confirm if she was the 1915 or the 1919 model. Assuming she was the earlier model, she would have had a 1495cc, side-valve, four-cylinder engine. Her gearbox was a three-speed made in Detroit. With her elliptic leaf springs in front and three-quarter elliptics at the back, she handled better than any covered wagon crossing the Rockies. She could stop in less distance than a Boeing 747, and her engine delivered more power than three fleas glued to a coffee table.
The most charming feature of the Bullnose was the dickey seat. Where other British cars had a boot and American cars had a trunk, she had a fold-out extra seat at the rear for an extra passenger. If the Bullnose stopped suddenly when ramming into something, the dickey seat became a trebuchet that could propel the extra passenger over the tallest spire of Downton Abbey. Sadly, the series never showed that.
TV Crime Series of the Year: CSI 14
I’d stopped watching all the CSI programs after season 3 or 4 of each one. They do become mildly repetitive. There are only so many ways you can catch a serial killer who has an inside informant in the crime lab and who kidnaps a multi-class forensic pathologist-commando-martial artist to bury alive in the pumpkin patch next to the house where the killer grew up in an abusive home and time is running out and they’ve caught someone but there are still 25 minutes to go so it’s the wrong killer and, and, and.
Then the Las Vegas version of CSI introduced something incredible in season 13 and made even better use of it in season 14. It was an Elisabeth Harnois, a type of semi-divine superhuman female who is almost as sexy as Angela Gossow. She is why I watched CSI again. I don’t know the name of her screen character. I kept forgetting her real name too. I would say to my wife, “Is it nearly time for the cute round-headed girl program?”
I believe there were murderers in the series. I can’t vouch for that. I couldn’t take my eyes off the lifeboat. No, the tiger in the lifeboat. Why did CSI need a lifeboat?
TV Documentary Series of the Year: Mankind: The History of All of Us
In 12 episodes, narrator Stephen Fry and some excellent camera work guided us through highlights of the history of people since our evolution from Cro-Magnon man and his sneaky speed-dating with Neanderthal woman.
I enjoyed the Black Death. Well, maybe not so much, but some of those rats looked like they’d make nice pets. The Vikings – hey, who doesn’t secretly like Vikings even if everyone else at the time thought they were total bastards?
I’d like to see a movie where 18th century pirates, who were scumbag hijackers, get pounded by 8th century Vikings, who were total bastards but had nicer hats.
The only great disappointment in the series was that it gave me no new clues about my lineage. They showed nothing about my father, the last surviving Homo pseudomammalis. How am I supposed to convince the taxonomists that I’m a real people? That’s Dad in the picture. It was taken while he was inventing black metal in Norway 93,000 years ago.
TV General Entertainment of the Year: QI
I don’t know how many seasons of QI there have been or which ones we watched this year. I do know I love them. It’s a BBC panel quiz game in which Stephen Fry (the Mankind narrator) asks a panel of four comedians to answer questions about specific topics and general knowledge. The show soon descends into a succession of spontaneous comic outbursts and one-liners. Behind it all, though, is an endless flow of fascinating information.
For instance, did you know that the entire population of all the Eskimo population in the world could fit into the parking lot of Los Angeles international airport, with plenty of room to spare? I’d love to watch them trying to catch fish by cutting holes in the pavement.
Another reason I love the show is that it’s full of very silly jokes that make my wife laugh. When she laughs, I laugh, sometimes at her but mostly with her.
What is brown and sticky? – A stick. That sort of thing. Did Marco Polo actually visit Peking? I don’t remember, but also that sort of thing. (Poor old Marco. Imagine being named after a Volkswagen.)
YouTube Channel of the Year: Lindsey Stirling
Deep in the forests to the north-west of Athkatla, the Avariel Elves kept to themselves and went about their normal business of being the most accomplished musicians in any dimension of the Metaverse. Then one of them stepped into a space warp and popped out the other side in Noo Joisey, US of Yumerika. Humans were unable to pronounce her Avariel name or write it in the magical Runic alphabet, so she took a human name that nobody could spell correctly.
Linzee Sterling found an enchanted violin. She caressed its strings with a dragon-hair bow and beautiful sounds floated out. Then she cast a scrying spell so that YouTube could “see” her playing. Her YT channel is the result.
Lindsay Sturling is nearly one metre tall. She weighs minus two kilograms and usually wears boots to keep herself in touch with the ground. When she does that she dances like a prima ballerina while the magic flows from her strings, and also from the violin strings.
I think she likes our world because so many of us love her and her music.
Book of the Year: The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe (Roger Penrose)
This was my book of the year in 2006 and every year since then. It’s a summary of everything important that was known in physics up to that time. There have been some significant advances since then, such as the 99.9999% probability that CERN found the Higgs boson. In a broad sense, however, physics is the same as it was seven years ago.
Every year I work my way through about 250 pages. This is fairly heavy stuff. The author is the man who worked out the difficult mathematics to go with Stephen Hawking’s hypotheses about black holes and the conservation of entropy. The next year I work through another 250 pages. By the third year I’ve forgotten the first 250 pages and I have to start from the beginning again.
The second half of the book covers the physics. The first half presents all the mathematics necessary to understand the second half. I’ll never get to the second half.
Live Entertainment of the Year: Monthly Trivia Quiz, Eshowe, Zululand
People make a lot of their own entertainment in a small town with no clubs or cinemas. The home-grown fun I enjoy the most is quiz night at our only hotel, the George, which was named after either an English king or an American Clooney. There are two reasons I have a ball at quiz night. One, it’s the only social event I go to regularly. Two, I’m the quiz compiler and quizmaster. This gives me demonic power over mere mortals and their information-packed brains.
I wield a mighty weapon – The Rules. There are only two of them. Rule One: The quizmaster is always right. Arguing with him may result in severe sarcasm. Rule Two: If you are absolutely, positively certain that the quizmaster has made a mistake because you just looked up the answer on your iPhone under the table, refer to Rule One.
As if this sense of extraordinary power isn’t enough, there are two more rewards for being quizmaster. Secondly, I get free dinner. Firstly, I get dibs on having big loves with Blue, the hotel cat. This does of course mean I have to ask for fish and chips for supper. Blue doesn’t eat curry.
Sports Event of the Year: Sharks vs Western Province, Currie Cup Final
South Africa has the best television in the world. With nearly a dozen 24-hour sports channels, we can watch every single first-class rugby match in the world, every match in the tournament for regional teams from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, every match in the New Zealand provincial tournament, all the games in the European Heineken Cup competition, and every match in our own domestic tournament.
We’re passionate about our national team and our rivalry with Australia and New Zealand. Nothing, however, stokes the fire in the belly the way our top local tournament, the interprovincial Currie Cup, does. My team is our Sharks, from Durban, about 120 kilometres away. My least favourite team is Western Province, from Cape Town. We played them in this year’s final in Cape Town and kicked their butts so hard that they begged for sanctuary on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
The guy holding the trophy is one of the hardest men in world rugby, Bismarck Du Plessis. Hey, he did unite Germany a couple of centuries ago. Second from left is Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira, one of the strongest men who ever lived. He can open new jars of peanut butter with his bare hands.
Cricketer of the Year and the last couple of decades: Sachin “The Little God” Tendulkar
Ever dignified, modest and honourable, a perfect sportsman and gentleman, endowed with almost mystical skills on the cricket field, wizard of strategy, tactical genius, bold and trusted captain, and inspiration to a billion people… well (ahem), that’s jolly flattering, thank you!
There’s more: Short of stature, physically unprepossessing—Oh! I’m writing about Sachin, not me.
What a poignant time it’s been in cricket. Sachin turned 40 in April and decided to retire this year. He made his debut in the Indian national cricket team when he was just 16. After playing his 200th test (that’s a five-day international), Sachin was carried aloft by his team mates as he said goodbye to the noble sport. He played just about as many internationals in other versions of the game. During his career he amassed 199 centuries (100 or more runs in an innings). That’s the equivalent of hitting 46 home runs per inning in the lesser sport of baseball.
His home city of Mumbai will continue to resound, not only with the name of Sachin Tendulkar, but also with the evocative names of masala bhaat, moong dal kichdi, dalimbya, palkachi takatli bhaji, amti, kanda batata poha, batatyache kaap, vangyache kaap, bombil batata bhaji, kamag kakri and Mumbai tawa pulao. The reader may decide if these are the names of some of the best food in the world or the real names of Finnish folk metal singers.