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The Easy Route, Part One

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Memo to 2014's Pop Culture: SOME OF YOU DIDN'T SUCK.

I don't understand why only lazy hacky people get to get away with top ten lists at the end of the year. They don't deserve it! You know who deserves it? Hard working, honest Internet pundits like myself. So I'm gonna do it. In no particular order, here are my ten favorite pop culture... things of 2014. Five today, five tomorrow. Some movies, some TV shows, some comedy, one album, one video game. In no particular order, because different fruit are different. Let's get right into the first half.

The LEGO Movie

Pure, unmitigated joy. Visually stunning, dense with jokes, endlessly charming, and one of the few instances of Hollywood's continual obsession with BEING A GOOD FATHER that I actually accept as essential to the whole thing. Which is high praise indeed, because you know how much I hate that shit.

@midnight Uncensored: Paul F. Tompkins, John Hodgman, Greg Proops

I love @midnight, the Chris Hardwick-hosted comedy panel game show on Comedy Central. I love Paul F. Tompkins because he is awesome. I love John Hodgman for the same reason. Ditto Greg Proops. So an @midnight panel with all three? What could be better?

I'll tell you what could be better. The episode coming out on a Thursday, which means Comedy Central posted the nearly hour-long, uncensored version. I've watched it half a dozen times and it still cracks me up. BABY-BODY MULDOON!

Lucha Underground

I like pro wrestling, but it's a bit of a difficult relationship. It's a brutal, exploitative business a lot of the time. It's also disappointingly mediocre a lot of the time. Which is why Lucha Underground, on the El Rey network, has been such a breath of fresh air. One show a week, one hour show. No pay-per-views. Filmed and edited and in many ways scripted like a weekly show that happens to have three wrestling matches taking up most of it.

it's innovative, it's tacky in all the right ways, and the less-grueling schedule than WWE's madness makes me feel like it's relatively cruelty-free, as pro wrestling goes. And on top of that, while I wouldn't give it an A+, it does have the most progressive identity politics of any pro wrestling organization to date, which is refreshing in an industry that's retrograde as hell in that regard.

Street Fighter Red Tape: Vega

We lost The Pete Holmes Show this year, but not before the series of sketches featuring the bureaucratic inner workings of the Street Fighter tournament dealt with Thomas Middleditch as claw-bladed bullfighter Vega, in the single best sketch of 2014. Endlessly quotable, available on YouTube, and sexually... open. And then you can watch the outtakes for even more gold that didn't make the final cut.

Drawful, in the Jackbox Party Pack

It was kind of a shitty year for video games. Well, not shitty. But very few games leapt out at me and grabbed my soul and made me have to play them. Until the Jackbox Party Pack on PS4. Until Drawful.

If you have a PS4, and friends with touchscreen web devices, and you can get all those things into a room, what you will experience is a bizarre hybrid of Pictionary and Balderdash, where your inability to draw is not a hindrance but rather another game mechanic that simply works its way into the mix. In a year that gave us Towerfall Ascension, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. WiiU, and Fibbage, Drawful wins the couch-based multiplayer hearts and minds by a landslide.

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