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Jill’s Top 11 Things of 2011


Because I obviously couldn’t do just 10 things. That would be silly. It’s 2011, after all. Sheesh.

11. Samantha Savage Smith
This Canadian singer is awesome. She’s like Jenn Grant with rougher edges. She gets regular rotation on CBC Radio 3, but I highly suggest you go buy her album, Tough Cookie, on iTunes right now. (Look. I made it easy for you. Here’s the link right here.)

10. The Muppets vs. Tex Richman
I have no idea if the writers of the new Muppets meant to make a political statement, but it kind of happened either way. For many, a sign of success is how much money you make in a day. I can safely say I feel satisfied with my career- and honey, I ain’t no Tex Richman. The movie was really sweet, had some great music and was super entertaining.

9. Breaking Bad
I might be a little late to jump on the Breaking Bad train. But I’m so glad I got on. (I guess a train isn’t right for this metaphor. I should go with a Winnebago instead. But anyway.) Bryan Cranston is nothing less than spectacular as the chemistry teacher turned meth cook. This show will surprise you with its wit, and stun you with its twists and turns.

8. X-Men: First Class
The X-Men characters appeal to me because they’re all fighting with their own demons, while kicking some ass. X-Men: First Class is a prequel based during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s. And it was probably my favorite of the whole X-Men series. (Although I did miss Logan/Wolverine. Thankfully, he makes a cameo.) Thankfully, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender killed it as Charles Xaviar and Magneto. Totally, totally awesome.

7. The Sims: Medieval
This game makes the history nerd in me very, very happy. It’s more goal-oriented than The Sims, where you can pretty much do what you want with your character. Game goals are different depending on which hero you’re playing- Monarch, Knight, Bard, etc. I’m quite addicted to it. And that’s all I have to say about that. (I have to get back to building my kingdom… so yeah…)

6. Roller Derby World Cup
That’s right, it’s not just about babes in fishnets and badass outfits. The first-ever roller derby world cup took place in Toronto in early December. Teams from all over came to participate and bash their way to roller derby glory- Finland, Argentina, Ireland, Australia, France, England, Scotland, Sweden. Canada placed second (WOO!!) and one of the US teams took first. It was pretty awesome. (This coming from someone who usually only watches sports against her will.)

This band is kind of amazing. They performed at this year’s Polaris Awards and blew everyone away. Their music is more ethereal than I usually go for, but their album Native Speaker draws you in with the sounds of nature- a babbling brook, specifically- and keeps you there with vocal sounds you didn’t even know existed. Can’t wait to see what this up-and-coming act does next.

4. Pinterest
This site has sucked away so many hours of my time, it’s shameful. Not so much about words or social interaction as it is about, well, pretty things. It’s fantastic for collecting ideas for artistic projects, style and wedding planning, even if a wedding isn’t in your near future. Users collect images on a virtual pin board based on categories chosen by the user. It sounds lame and I’m sure some will find it lame, but the concept of Twitter is lame too. But guess what- that’s addictive too. Pinterest is a place for inspiration. But it is a major time suck, so be ware. With that said, go follow me!

3. Picnicface
When I was in high school, there was a popular YouTube video called “Powerthirst.” (It now has about 25 million views.) We quoted it a lot. Now the Halifax-based comedy troupe that made that silly little video has their own sketch show on The Comedy Network. They do live shows, they have a book. You definitely have to have a certain kind of sense of humor to appreciate Picnicface. It’s somewhere between self-depriving humor and ADD humor caused by too many hours on the Internet looking at stupid cat videos. Canadians can watch it online here. It’s really bizarre, but altogether genius.

Dan Mangan touched my lower back the night I took this photo. This is my claim to fame.

2. Dan Mangan
This man can do no wrong. You can’t go an hour without hearing him on CBC Radio 3. He tours constantly and sells out shows all over the place. He’s got a great beard. I can’t decide which album I like more, Oh Fortune (released this past September) or Nice, Nice, Very Nice (2009). And he happens to put on the best live performance I’ve ever witnessed. If you ever get a chance to see the bearded bard live, please just go do it. It’s an experience.
Now go buy his albums, OK?

1. Miss Representation
Documentaries that make you think differently about the world are really something special. It will shock you, maybe upset you. But the truth hurts. I saw this film at a public screening back in mid-October and the message it’s trying to get across has returned to me every day since then. I see ads differently, movies, even the way people treat one another. It’s a film everyone should see, not just women. It makes me want to be a better woman, and the best person I can be.
If only society evolved as fast as technology.
Click here to visit the official website and see if there is a public viewing near you. 

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Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.

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