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The Easy Route, Part 2

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Memo to 2014's Pop Culture: MORE 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. Some movies, some TV shows, some comedy, one album, one video game. In no particular order, because different fruit are different. Five were covered yesterday; today, we finish the year with the final five.

Guardians of the Galaxy

This movie doesn't get enough credit for just working on a basic level. Believe me; in recent weeks, I've seen Transformers 4, Man of Steel, and Amazing Spider-man 2, and they're all juggling more familiar characters, introducing fewer new concepts, and none of them make half as much sense as Guardians, even though Guardians is keeping a shit-ton more balls in the air than any of them. And then, on top of that, it's also witty and different? A goddamned miracle.

Dark Comedy by Open Mike Eagle

I'm a middle-aged nerd, and that means I have to make an effort to keep up with music. And I don't make that effort because I'd have to pull the effort from other parts of pop culture I do keep up on. So my "best new album" this year is coming from a single digit pool, and it's not a particularly deep single-digit pool at that.

But even so, "Dark Comedy" is really, really good. I'm not going to get into subgenres of hip-hop here, but Open Mike Eagle has cited They Might Be Giants as a musical influence, so I'm pretty sure you can triangulate in on what we're dealing with here. Months later and I'm still discovering new things in it.

Review, plus "Kiss Me, I'm Patrick McMahon"

Andy Daly had one hell of a 2014. First, his Comedy Central series, "Review", finally debuted to vast critical acclaim and built enough momentum to earn a surprise second season. And there was nothing like it this year. Daly takes an Australian premise of a man reviewing life experiences, and then Andy Dalies it, wringing comedy out of the most absurd, ridiculous tragedy he can come up with.

And if that wasn't enough, he also put his array of other characters into the Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project - eight episodes of admittedly varied success, but with three real standouts. The live finale featuring Irish storyteller Patrick McMahon just barely edges out The Travel Bug with August Lindt, because there are songs in it. I may make a new tradition and listen to it again every Morch.

Dan Van Kirk as Mark Wahlberg

I'm sure this predates 2014, but this was the year Van Kirk's Wahlberg impression came into its own, with regular appearances on Doug Loves Movies and his own panel-discussion show/podcast full of celebrity impersonations, The Wahlberg Solution.

You'd think it'd get old. I mean, you can see all the basic comedy hooks in it - Donnie's stupid, Mark turned all those movies down, and of course, Transfohmahs. But he embodies the caricature so fully that it just keeps being funny.

Bee and Puppycat: The Series

Cartoon Hangover and Frederator conquered web-based cartoons in 2013 with the brilliant Bravest Warriors, and this year, Natasha Allegri's "Bee and Puppycat" went from a pair of shorts to Kickstarter to full (as yet incomplete) nine-ish episode series on the YouTubes there.

It's a tricky thing to balance slapstick, clever jokes, cuteness, and arty beauty without, well, annoying the shit out of me. Bee and Puppycat succeeds because all those different elements come from the same genuine, and genuinely strange, place. Great stuff.

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