The Best of 2012

by Andy Jay Bennett

Listen guys, I get around. Wait. That sounds like I'm a whore. I didn't mean it like that. I just mean I like to experience a lot of different, exciting things. Still sounds like I'm a whore. Okay, starting over.

I put a lot of things in my mouth, eyes and ears this year.

Shit. One more do-over.

I saw some great entertainment, had some wonderful food and went some fabulous places this year. But I also had some miserable experiences where my high hopes fell flat. So, here are 5 of my favorite experiences of 2012, and tomorrow you'll get 5 of my least favorite.


BOSTON, MASS - My new favorite city. I would live there in a heartbeat if given the chance. Rich history, rich arts scene, really rich clam chowder. The accents are cool, the people are awesome, you get lobster or clams with everything. The only drawback is its proximity to another city that made tomorrow's list.

THE WARM LOBSTER ROLL AT ARNOLD'S - This is the single best thing I've ever eaten in my life. I'm not kidding. We were in Cape Cod for three days and we ate there twice. And I had the exact same thing both times. It tastes like sunshine and freedom and butter. If you are ever anywhere near this place, GO. I swear to God, if you drive past it without stopping, I will punch you in the face. I will find out you did it, I will hunt you down, and I will punch. you. in. the. face. Here's a picture of it:

BASIC CABLE TELEVISION - When did this happen? When did FX and AMC become better, more daring and more relevant than HBO or Showtime? I'd largely given up on the main 4 networks long ago (save for the occasional comedy or guilty pleasure - I'm looking at you Castle and Parks and Recreation), but this was the year that basic cable officially took over my Tivo. Sure, I still love Homeland and Dexter and Game of Thrones but just look at this list and tell me the best stuff isn't on basic:

  • Breaking Bad (this one show is better than all the network shows combined)
  • The Walking Dead
  • Louie
  • The Daily Show
  • The Colbert Report
  • Justified
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • Mad Men
  • American Horror Story

I rest my case.

SLEEP NO MORE - The tickets are $75. When you step inside you're given a playing card and ushered down a labyrinth of twisting hallways lit only by dim candles in the corners. By the time your eyes have adjusted to the dark you've emerged in a lounge complete with a jazz singer crooning standards and red velvet curtains everywhere. You can buy a shot of absinthe if you want, but you'll probably want a clear head for what happens next. Your card is called and you are ushered into a gleaming metal elevator, given a bone-white mask with distorted features and ordered to put it on. Then they tell you that it can't come off for the next three hours. And you can't talk either. And then you're deposited on one of 5 floors and given free reign to explore this modern, mind-bending take on Shakespeare's Macbeth. Over 100 rooms and a dozen characters await. Maybe you'll stumble upon Lady Macbeth naked in a tub trying to wash away the blood. Maybe Macduff will race past you, trip on the stairs next to you and stand slowly, muttering in Latin mere inches from your face. No matter how your individual experience begins, they all end the same way. At a massive dinner party in the bowels of the building. And an evening tossing and turning and thinking over what you've seen. And that's when you realize why this play is called "Sleep No More." I've seen hundreds of plays and musicals. And this might be the greatest. It's certainly the most fascinating.

LUCIE AMUNDSEN AND RYAN VINE - I live, work and write in Duluth, Minnesota. And I'm not the only one. There are some people with serious chops in this town, and I'm proud to call these two my friends. Because they are crazy talented. If you doubt me (how dare you?), I present:

Now, lest you think I've gone all soft and sappy, be sure to check back tomorrow to see the 5 worst things about 2012 - at least to me.