Best of 2013 – Blogs I Follow

It’s December, that time of year when everyone and their brother doles out their Top Ten and Year’s Best lists. And since I, on occasion, lack any shred of creativity and originality, I wanted to do a Top Ten/Year’s Best list of my own.

That’s when I ran into a problem.

I boldly and with much confidence declare myself a “Pop Culture Lover” right there in the header of my blog, so I thought sure, this’ll be easy. Books, movies, TV, yeah, let’s do this. Wrong. I realized I’ve only read one book released in 2013, and have seen maybe a handful of movies released this year. The only subject I’d be halfway qualified to talk about in terms of the year’s best is TV, and I really don’t feel like doing that (although, since I can’t help the narcissistic notion that my opinion actually matters, I will say that my two favorite new shows of 2013 were Hannibal and Brooklyn Nine Nine).

So…I thought. What on earth could I possibly discuss with any kind of authority in terms of the year’s best? Then it dawned on me. I follow just shy of a gazillion blogs on WordPress (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration – more like 109), and it never ceases to amaze me how good they all are.

That settled it – I would pick my favorite blog posts of 2013. I will say now I’m sure I’m forgetting some, so if anyone out there is hurt or offended that their blog isn’t listed below just know that I’m not perfect, this steel trap of a brain is not completely infallible and I apologize.

Greg’s China – Guts and Bai Jiu (October 18)

Greg is a Brit living in China as a Mandarin translator, and before that he taught English there. He relays his experiences on this very entertaining blog, which I will definitely refer to should I ever find myself visiting the country. He’s shared the terrifying experience of riding in taxis, the way people try to take advantage of him when they think he doesn’t understand the language, and how people ignore him while simultaneously giving him a compliment.

In Guts and Bai Jiu, Greg explains how over his time in China he’s learned some extremely valuable survival skills – how to avoid unknowingly ordering food with organs in it, and avoiding the paint thinner-like alcoholic drink Bai Jiu, which according to Greg can leave a normal man crying in the fetal position between bouts of projectile vomiting.

He learned to identify the character mostly associated with organ meat on menus, and devised two clever methods for avoiding the nasty shots of what he describes as tasting like a “burnt, worn sock.” Click the link to read the desperate measures he went to, and follow his blog!

Darius Jones – Talk With a Young Writer (October 25)

Darius is a cool guy. He’s already self-published two books (available here and here), which is a feat worthy of admiration in and of itself. Add to that he’s done this on top of his full-time job, traveling, and having an otherwise full and well-rounded life, and the fact that he finds time to write fiction leaves me flabbergasted. I bitch that I don’t have time to write as I sit playing games on my iPad, and this dude’s getting shit done. I have a lot of respect for the guy.

In Talk With a Young Writer, Darius is asked to speak to a young budding writer – the son of a friend. Being a professional writer (in a technical capacity) already, there was a lot of advice Darius could offer. After speaking with the young man, however, Darius comes to a surprising realization that perhaps the talk did him as much good as it did the budding writer. I really loved this post.

The Surfing Pizza – Ocean (November 11)

The Surfing Pizza is a fun blog most of the time. A writer who devotes his blog mostly to the toys of his youth, proudly posting any new purchases from garage sales, the blog took an unexpectedly serious turn in late October.

During his annual build up/countdown to Halloween (which it seems is The Surfing Pizza’s favorite holiday by a mile), his mother fell gravely ill. Sadly, she passed away after some time in the hospital. Pizza continued to blog occasionally, and I could feel his pain through the computer. Without knowing all the details, it’s fair to say he did not it coming and was completely and utterly shocked by her passing. As someone who also lost his mother suddenly and at a young age, I could certainly relate.

Ocean is basically one man’s grief on the page. It’s his hurt and pain at the loss of his mother, but his fond memories that will last long after the pain is gone. I look forward to The Surfing Pizza blogging about his latest ’80s toy purchase again, but in the meantime I’ll read whatever he feels like publishing.

I hope it doesn’t seem too odd to “celebrate” this post as one of the year’s best. This post was not that long ago and what this guy is feeling is still very raw; I’m sure he really couldn’t give a crap who likes it. I just really connected with it and thought it was something special.

Hooray for Movies!! – Deja Vu (2006) – Time Travel Twoddle…Time Twoddle? (August 21)

Movie review blogs are a dime a dozen on WordPress. Good movie review blogs, however, are still quite rare. It takes more than simply having an opinion about a movie to make someone qualified to actually review them. Hooray for Movies!! is the cream of the crop.

In my opinion, reviewing a good movie is easier than reviewing a bad movie. It’s easy to recognize when things are done well, and easy to sing the praises of a well-written, well-acted, and expertly directed film. Identifying why a movie absolutely blows, however, takes more skill. Fortunately for us, Dylan at HFM has it down to a science.

Deja Vu is a Denzel Washington vehicle about an ATF agent who travels back in time to try and stop a murder. I’ll admit I have not seen the film, and after reading Time Travel Twoddle…Time Twoddle I’m sure I will probably never watch it under my own free will. This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in my time on WordPress; I read a lot of blogs on my lunch break at work, and this post made me struggle to keep from laughing in a quiet office.

If any of you are on Twitter (and you all are, right?) you may also want to consider following HFM. Dylan live-tweeting the recent massive storm that barreled through England was one of the highlights of my little corner of the Twitterverse.

Steven J. Dines – Free Fiction: The Fly (March 24)

Steven is not your average, every day writer/blogger. That’s because he doesn’t really blog the way many of us do, telling tales of our self doubts and wondering if we’re crazy for pursuing our writing endeavors. No, his blogs are of a different nature – he’s too busy actually writing and getting stuff published. He already had FOUR short stories published just this year, with one already scheduled for publication in 2014.

I can’t remember how I found Steven’s blog, but I remember clicking around and seeing a link to a flash fiction piece called The Fly. I clicked it and started reading, and I remember finishing the story and thinking, “Oh. This guy’s for real.” I think all that’s stopping him from basically conquering the world is time and opportunity. Before long his name will be on real Year’s Best lists for his forthcoming novel.

He doesn’t post often, but you should follow him for announcements of new stories being unleashed onto an unsuspecting world.

Rants from a Starving Writer – Creativity, Depression, and Self Worth (October 22)

Larua (LL) Lemke (Pogomonster, as she’s sometimes known) is a dynamo. Another self-published wunderkind, she has already self-published two novels with a third on the way. She’s also a freelance editor, and did I mention she’s a black belt in TaeKwonDo and is barely old enough to legally consume alcohol?

Creativity, Depression, and Self Worth is a post pretty much any writer can relate to. We all have these feelings – the joy in creating, the doubt that it will ever lead to anything or be read by anyone, and the question…is it worth it?

I’m only a few pages in to her first novel, Opus Aria (which you can find here), but I can say with confidence Laura’s self doubt will probably not last much longer; her talent is just too strong.

Miss Four Eyes – What-If-It-Sucks-Syndrome (May 15)

Miss Four Eyes really doesn’t need any help getting hits and page views to her blog. Her site is so popular, it’s really kind of disgusting. 🙂 However, as with all popular blogs, it’s popular for a reason. What-If-It-Sucks-Syndrome is a perfect example why.

She details the thought process of getting ready to publish a blog post, and it’s nearly identical to the way I feel each and every time. There are some cool animated doodles to help illustrate the point, too. It’s funny, cute, entertaining…everything you could want from a blog. If you don’t already follow her blog, read this post and snap to it!

The Hobbes – A Brief Analysis of Contemporary Post-Industrial American Transportation (October 28)

Hobbes is…a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, inside a puzzle that ate an enigma. I’m not entirely certain as to the gender of Hobbes (though I believe male), but they are one of the smartest bloggers I follow.

I get the feeling Hobbes needs an outlet for things he/she wants to say and started this blog as a way to do so anonymously. As of right now they have exactly 7 followers, and for some reason I’d bet they feel like that’s a few too many. A Brief Analysis of Contemporary Post-Industrial American Transportation takes a look at something we all tend to overlook on a daily basis – how much planes suck. To say more would ruin the joy of reading this post, so just click the link and read it for yourself.

Okay, well that’s it. My favorites of the year. I’d love to hear who you think I forgot; like I said, there were so many I’m sure I must’ve missed a few. Until next time, keep blogging!

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12 thoughts on “Best of 2013 – Blogs I Follow

  1. Thank you so much for including me, Kenneth! As MissFourEyes said, this made my day! I wish you well and enjoy reading your blog 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great year and hope that next year continues to be great.

    This has made me really happy, you’ve no idea. 🙂

  2. Thanks for including me Kenneth, and at the top of the list too!
    One minor detail is wrong though – I’m actually a Mandarin translator, not an English teacher!
    Now it’s time for me to check out these other guys on the list 🙂

    • You know, I had a feeling after I published the post that I should’ve double checked a few things, that being one of them. I’ll get that corrected, sorry about that. Your post was one of the first I thought of when I considered doing this, I love your blog. Where did I get English teacher?

      • Easy mistake – the post you actually recommended was about the year I spent as a voluntary English teacher.
        Thanks for the compliment, I’m a big fan of your blog too.

  3. Dude I’ve had to go quiet for a month due to other work commitments and having sat down to outline the articles for the coming month or two, this has given me a huge boost. Thanks so much for the kind words. I hope the upcoming content (and podcast…watch this space) in 2014 stays to your liking. And more importantly please keep up the great work on here as well. Happy Christmas and here’s to more in 2014

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