Best and Worst of 2013

   Every year, we reflect on the year with our best and worst, in various categories.  We’d changed a few categories this year, adding a few so that we have 13 for 2013.  Enjoy, and happy New Year to everyone!

Television Series

Best: House of Cards

House of Cards is a Netflix original series. It is an American political series adapted from a BBC miniseries of the same name. The entire first season premiered on Netflix streaming service on Feb. 1st 2013. A second season is due to premier Feb. 14th 2014. Set in present day Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and House Majority Whip who, after getting passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him. The series also stars Robin Wright, Kate Mara, and Corey Stoll in lead roles.

Worst: We are Men

There were great expectations for this comedy sitcom and its great cast. The series aired on CBC on Sept. 30th 2013. After the airing of just two episodes it was cancelled due to performing so poorly. The series starred Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tony Shalhoub, Jerry O’Connell, Kal Penn and Rebecca Breeds but even this great cast could not keep this series afloat.

Video Games

Best: Grand Theft Auto V

GTA 5 was one of the most anticipated games in video game history. The game was release on Sept. 17th 2013, it is the fifteenth title in the Grand Theft Auto series. GTA is developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games and distributed by Take-Two Interactive Software.  Within twenty-four hours of its release, the game generated more than $800 million in worldwide revenue.  Grand Theft Auto V is set in the fictional state of San Andreas and affords the player the ability to freely roam the countryside and the city. An online multiplayer mode is included in the game.

Worst: Ashes Cricket 2013

Ashes Cricket 2013 is a cricket video game that was developed by Trickstar Games. The game was released Nov. 22nd 2013, exclusively via Stream. The game was only available for short time before being removed from sale and cancelled. Release dates for all consoles were cancelled. It is regarded by many as the worst game in video game history. The game was clearly not ready for release and contained major bugs, badly outdated graphics, poor character animations and other non-functioning features.

Restaurant Trends

Best:  Steampunk Restaurants

The steampunk gene has been around for some time but it was only in 2013 that this theme started being used in restaurants, coffee shops and cafes. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. The world’s first steampunk restaurant opened in New Delhi, India in April 2013 and since then steampunk themed venues have opened up all over the world. Steampunk coffee shops have become popular around the world where coffee companies use the theme and machinery for roasting and brewing their coffee.

Worst: Toilet Themed Restaurants

Toilet themed restaurants have been popular in Asia for a while and this year gained in popularity with many new venues opening including in the United States.  Toilet themed restaurants have the decor similar to that of a bathroom with checkered tile covered walls, showerheads on the walls, plungers and the chairs are actual nonworking toilets. Food is traditionally served in miniature toilet bowls and drinks in miniature urinals. Even the food tends to be in keeping with the theme with dishes such as “bloody number two” and “black poop.” I sincerely hope we can see the end of this trend and not find any more of this theme of restaurants opening.

Movies

Best: Gravity

Although there were a lot of good movies released this year I place ‘Gravity’ as the best movie of 2013. I thought Sandra Bullock did a superb job of acting her part and carrying most of the movie. The story line was simple yet compelling and the visual effects outstanding. The film is set during a fictitious Shuttle Explorer’s STS-157 mission, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Gravity had a production budget of $100 million and was filmed digitally on multiple Arri Alexas.

Worst: Movie 43

The film features an all-star cast of A-list celebrities including Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman and Richard Gere.  Even all these stars weren’t enough to save it from a universal critical drubbing with The List saying: ‘If this is the future of film-making then basically we’re all doomed’ and critics bashing this latest film as the ‘Citizen Kane of awful.’  The $6 million production opened in seventh place this weekend bringing in a relatively dismal $5 million in the U.S. and marking one of the worst wide-release openings for many of the actors featured.  Hollywood filmmaker Peter Farrelly, the mind behind ‘Movie 43’, took to the Farrelly Bros’ Twitter page that he shares with his brother Bobby to hit back at reviewers saying: ‘To the critics: Movie 43 is not the end of the world. It’s just a $6-million movie where we tried to do something different. Now back off.’

Tech

Best: Xbox One

The Xbox One, Microsoft’s latest console is much more than just a gaming system. Xbox One was released across North America, several European markets, Australia, and New Zealand on November 22, 2013. The Kinect 2.0 sensor is at the core of the Xbox One experience, shipping with every console and negating the need to use a controller for many functions. New features include such as a built-in Skype client for videoconferencing, user recognition and tracking, and the ability to use voice commands and gestures to navigate the console’s user interface. New gaming functionality will include an expanded Xbox Live service, improved Kinect functionality, cloud computing, the ability to automatically record and share video highlights from gameplay, and support for live streaming gameplay online

Worst: Healthcare.org

There are lots of arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law but there’s no debating that the rollout of its website, where millions of people would presumably sign up for care under the act, was a disaster. The website used to access the plan stalled in its crucial opening days. What was initially thought to be sluggishness due to heavy traffic turned out to be dozens of bugs that took nearly two months to fix.  Heavy hitters from Silicon Valley were brought in for a “tech surge” — raising the question of why they weren’t involved from the beginning.

Apps

Best: Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga has overtaken Angry Birds to be world’s most popular game hitting the top spot on Facebook, iOS and the Android Play store. And its London-based developer King has now overtaken Zynga – creator of Farmville – to become the world’s most popular social gaming firm. King now has more than 66 million players worldwide, with more than 15 million of those playing Candy Crush on Facebook on a daily basis. The aim of Candy Crush Saga is to match three of more sweets in a row to make them disappear. You can create super sweets that can help you clear the board faster.

Worst: Taxi Hold’Em

You know how difficult it can be to hail a taxi. All that patience and eye contact is such a drag. Combat this with Taxi Hold’Em – literally just a yellow screen with the word “Taxi” written on it. Wave this at a taxi driver and, once he’s crashed into a lamppost because he can’t read the tiny writing that you’re waving about on your very small phone, he’ll take you wherever you want to go.

Advertisement

Best: Giving is the Best Communication

In September, Thai telecommunications company True Corporation Public Company Limited (TRUE), the largest in the country, released a touching advert that quickly went viral across the world.  The three-minute epic relays the idea of selflessly giving to strangers throughout life, and ends with the message “Giving is the Best Communication.”  Unlike most modern adverts, this one only reveals the company behind it at the very end, and TRUE must be credited for not corrupting the beautiful message with messages of their company.

Worst: GoDaddy’s Kiss

The most talked about ad of the 2013 Super Bowl was GoDaddy.com’s controversial kissing ad.  Starring Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli and “Walter the Nerd”, the ad begins with long-time spokesperson Danica Patrick describing Refaeli as the “sexy side” of GoDaddy and Walter as the “smart side.”  The two then lean forward for the most awkward kiss in television history, highlighting the idea of GoDaddy using sexiness and smarts together.  The commercial was unbearable to watch and the kiss was, quite frankly, disgusting.

Songs

Best: Avicii – Wake Me Up!

Avicii has been one of the world’s top DJs for years, but had never relased an album until this year.  The lead single off True, Wake Me Up!, proved to be a “summer anthem” and a huge hit across the world.  It topped charts throughout Europe, and peaked at number 4 in the US.  The song features uncredited vocals from soul singer Aloe Blacc, and guitaring from Mike Einzinger.  Wake Me Up! combines outstanding lyrcis and vocals with a catchy beat, which helped it become one of the biggest songs of 2013.

Worst: Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines

The “song of the summer” was pretty obvious this year.  No matter where you went, there was no escaping Robin Thicke’s breakout hit “Blurred Lines”.  I’m definitely not a fan of the song, but what bugged me more were the lyrics.  The song makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s essentially promoting rape, saying over and over “I know you want it”.  Even worse was the music video’s pathetic, and unfortunately successful, attempt to attract attention simply by having naked woman dance around the artists.

Viral Video

Best: Shark Cat

Every year Shark Week grows larger, and this year was no exception.  One of the more unusual celebrations of Shark Week was a video that went viral.  The video features Max, the 12 year-old cat, dressed up in his shark costume, riding around the kitchen on a Roomba.  The video is so bizarre and adorable that it’s hard to look away.  Max rides the robotic vacuum virtually every day, according to his owners.

Worst: How Animals Eat their Food

On April 8th, “MisterEpicMan” uploaded a video on YouTube called How Animals Eat their Food, showing one man calmly eating at a dining, while another man acts as various animals would.  The video quickly became viral, reaching 7 million views in 4 days (it now has 92 million), and spawning numerous parodies and sequels.  I don’t find anything funny about the video, at all.  It has to be the most stupid video to go viral since Nyan Cat.

Sports Story

Best: America’s Cup Comeback

It sounds cliche to call something the greatest comeback in sports story, but the comeabck Oracle Team USA made in the 2013 America’s Cup has to be considered one of the greatest.  Oracle’s tournament began in dissaray, with a two-point penalty for using illegal lead pellets during a warm-up race in 2012.  Team New Zealand raced out to a 8-1 lead, and New Zealanders eagerly awaited one more victory that would see them claim the trophy.  But the appointment of Sir Ben Ainslie as taticitian spurred Oracle on a 8-race winning streak, which saw them win the oldest tournament in sports, 9-8.

Worst: Oscar Pistorius

  The world woke up on Valentine’s Day to the stunning news that the much beloved Oscar Pistorius, the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympics, had shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.  The South African sprinter, nicknamed “Blade Runner”, claimed he had shot his girlfriend by mistake after he woke up and heard a noise in the early hours of the morning, thinking she was an intruder.  This sparked a global debate over Pistorius’ intentions in shooting her.  His trial will take place in March of 2014, and will be closely watched by millions.

Photo

Best: The Hug Heard Around the World


Amid all the photos of utter destruction and despair following the devastating F5 Moore Tornado, a beautiful photo emerged of a man hugging his young neighbor.  47 year-old Jim Routon, a first responder to Briarwood Elementary School, saw his 7 year-old neighbor Hezekiah Darbon when he arrived at the school.  Upon seeing the man, Darbon raced over and threw himself in his arms.  Routon described their relationship to the media afterwards, saying he thought of Darbon as his “part-time kid” because of all the time they spend playing basketball and football together.

Worst: Boston Bombing


This photo shows the destruction and chaos surrounding the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  3 people died in the bombing and a further 264 were injured, with 14 requiring amputations.  This photo quickly became the iconic photo of the bombing, although it was usually cropped to avoid showing the gruesome injury.  Pictured is Jeff Bauman being helped by a stranger, Carlos Arredondo.  Much happy photos would surface later in the year, as the two men met again following the bombing.

Person

Best: Pope Francis


Whether you like Pope Francis or not, and whether you appreciate the direction he has taken the Catholic Church in over the course of 2013, there is no denying his influence.  The first pope from the Southern hemisphere, Pope Francis has dragged the Catholic Church, kicking and screaming in many ways, into modern times.  Regardless of whether this is good for the Church or not, his influence over the course of 2013 was immense.

Worst: Miley Cyrus


There are bad role models – and then there’s Miley Cyrus.  She taught girls throughout the country that it’s perfectly fine to grind up against guys, shed clothes at the drop of a hat, and act as sexually as you want.  It’s a scary thought having young girls looking at Miley for influence.  With every music video she released, she stooped lower and lower, and the media lapped up every second, blasting out headlines about Miley constantly.

News Story

Best: Billy Ray Harris


55 year-old Billy Ray Harris was a homeless man on the side of the road in Kansas City, Missouri when a kind woman gave him some money.  After she had left, Harris noticed the women’s engagement ring had fallen off into his cup.  Rather then sell the expensive ring, which he admitted he though about doing, Harris waited for the women, Sarah Darling, to return for her ring.  After his story went viral, his family, who he hadn’t seen in 16 years, recognized him and reunited, and Darling set up a fund to raise $4,000 for Harris for his kind act.  Instead, she raised over $183,000 and Harris is now living in his own home, with his family by his side.

Worst: Typhoon Haiyan


Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines in early November.  Experts had warned that the storm would be powerful, but no one knew it would be the most powerful storm to ever hit land.  Including those still missing, over 8,000 people are considered to have died in the storm.  While the tragedy was horrific, the world did come together admirably after the typhoon to help support the devastated nation, raising millions upon millions of dollars.

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