2011: My year in review

This is me outside AmericanAirlines Arena before Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals.

This is me outside AmericanAirlines Arena before Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals.

 

Needless to say 2011 was quite the year for me.

When I wasn’t on campus as editor-in-chief of The Miami Hurricane, the school paper at the University of Miami, I had the privilege to cover the Miami HEAT through the NBA Finals. In May, I graduated from UM. Five days later, I was covering the Florida Marlins for MLB.com as an associate reporter. When the regular season was over, I drove to St. Petersburg and witnessed firsthand a champagne celebration while covering the ALDS between the Rangers and Rays.

Below is my End of the Year list, in no particular order, of pop culture items. Here’s to 2012 being just as great as 2011 was.

1) “Saturday Night Live” with host Justin Timberlake and musical guest Lady Gaga

How often do you hear (or say) that Saturday Night Live isn’t what it used to be? Too much to count, am I right?

Well, clearly people must briefly forget the times when actor/musician/what-doesn’t-he-do? Justin Timberlake is on the show.

This past May during the season finale, he and Andy Samberg continued where they left off in the digital short world with “3-Way (The Golden Rule)” featuring Lady Gaga. In another recurring skit, JT and Gaga parodied popular songs in order to sell products for “Liquorville.” Oh, did I mention Timberlake’s two Creative Emmys for his performance on the show?

2) College featuring Electric Youth’s “A Real Hero”

One of my favorite movies of the year, “Drive” with Ryan Gosling, features a mesmerizing 1980s electronic-driven soundtrack.

I’m fairly certain that the movie wouldn’t be as visual or memorable without this track in particular, no matter the amount of gore or Scorpion jackets. When this song airs, it happens in a very Grease-like moment.

Gosling’s character, who is known solely as “Driver,” becomes a real hero (though a brutally violent one at that) thanks to the circumstances he finds himself in.

3) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sure, it was first published in Russia in 1866, but I didn’t decide to give it a go until I found out about the University of Miami/Nevin Shapiro scandal that broke out thanks to Yahoo! Sports. I think the title speaks for itself.

As a former psychology major who decided to keep her minor, I appreciated the pursuit of entering the protagonist’s psyche, particularly after his first murder that affected him both physically and mentally.

“But that is the beginning of a new story — the story of the gradual renewal of a man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his transition from one world into another, of his initiation into a new, unknown life.”

We shall see whether the Hurricanes football program can rise again under Al Golden.

4) Showtime’s “Homeland”

Before I started watching this show, the name Claire Danes just meant the wife of actor Hugh Dancy to me.

Little did I know that I would become addicted to her latest project as well as her character, Carrie, on this drama about a CIA agent who learns that an American prisoner of war has turned after spending eight years in Iraq.

The acting in this is superb, from Danes to Damian Lewis (Agent Nicholas Brody), said POW and real-life Brit! There’s sexual tension, intelligent dialogue and quite the twists in the show’s first season. It’s no wonder the award nominations came to be.

5) “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”

People often ask me why I love Harry Potter so much. To me, it’s simple: There’s an extremely strong female role model (Hermione Granger), who I could associate with as a teenager. Not only did Hermione get top grades, but she didn’t let the bullying stop her from being who she was and follow her beliefs.

My generation grew up with these books (and films), literally. I graduated high school in 2007 when the final book came out, and I graduated college the same summer as the final movie.

How often do critics and audiences agree on movies? Hardly ever. But “Deathly Hallows Part 2” proved to be the rare exception. It brought a great blend of action and emotion, something that everyone can appreciate, especially from a true underdog who once lived in a cupboard under the stairs.

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