2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Sport and #P100) — #6 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 11



#16s of 2016 + Tweets, Footballers & Exotic Bet Types (Part 1)
#15s of 2016 + Journalism (Part 2)
#14s of 2016 + Gigs (Part 3)
#13s of 2016 + Food (Part 4)
#12s of 2016 + Words (Part 5)
#11s of 2016 + Memes & Emoji (Part 6)
#10s of 2016 + People (Part 7)
#9s of 2016 + Football Moments & Trivia (Part 8)
#8s of 2016 + Extreme Crosswording (Part 9)

#7s of 2016 + Patrick’s Christmas Message (Part 10)

再见 2016 (almost)…

Oh man George Michael died today. I was a huge fan of the great man, having grown up listening to his solo era records with considerable repetition. I won Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael in a 2DayFM Hot 30 with Ugly Phil & Jackie O (ask your parents) phone-in competition and really gave that double-disc set a workout on my Philips-brand portable CD player. I liked Wham! too, especially the big hits like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Last Christmas. Sometimes I wonder just how truly talented pop stars are — you know the ones with armies of songwriters and producers feeding them lyrics and curated every second of their day — but with George Michael you knew you were experiencing a true musical genius. My only regret with the inevitable love-in, no doubt involving gluttonous digital sales of GM and Wham!’s back catalogue is that Andrew Ridgely is going to cash in once more on his outstanding luck at having propinquity to Michael during his school days.

I sent this tweet out this morning and it has been doing good business all day:

Now onto serious matters: one of my true superfans has relocated to China and has explained to me in his first Sinomissive that that Great Firewall of China is having a deleterious effect on his internet happiness levels. I’m terrifically paranoid that this here blog is going to fall foul of the censorious apparatchiks so lemme make it clear that I am pro-China and anti-{dissident Chinese island’s shameful Americanised name redacted}. Go China! Here’s a pic of me recreating the Tiananmen Square Mass— Unlawful Student Rebellion and Brave Government Peace Restoration:

Original Facebook caption: “One of them is an historically influential thinker with a billion followers, the other is Mao Zedung.”

#6 in Films…


Spend enough time with me and you’ll soon learn that my fave actor is Jesse Eisenberg. He is just the best thespian working in Hollywood or anywhere else at the moment. He was in four films in 2016, single-handedly saving Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, adding a lot of chutzpah to Now You See Me 2, warming the soul in the fun but frivolous Cafe Society and delivering dubious emotional fraternity as the FIFO older brother in Joachim Trier’s English language debut Louder Than Bombs.

An impending retrospective detailing the dangerzone photographic excellence of a late wife and mother, played in flashbacks by Isabelle Hubbert, forces her widower (Gabriel Byrne) and two sons (Eisenberg and Devin Druid) to face uncomfortable truths from the past and work towards personal happiness in the future.

The tenderness between the onscreen brothers, much of which revolves around one brother in the midst of a collapsing marriage hypocritically tutoring his kin on high school love and romance, is emotionally daunting yet wrenchingly beautiful. Byrne is terrific as their flustered dad trying to move on with new girlfriend and local high school teacher Amy Ryan, while David Strathairn is unforgettable in a few short scenes as the mother’s former colleague.

Any film called Louder Than Bombs is going to be gentle and contemplative; achieving more from devastating silences than from rabid dins. But when the bombs do go off they do not miss.

#6 in TV…


I am a big believer in looking at whatever empirical evidence of enjoyment there is to determine how good a piece of art of. Did you laugh much during a comedy? Did you find yourself racing home or taking sickies to read a book? Are you listening to a particular record over and over again? Did you illegally download a series, sideload it onto your iPad and then watch it in the communal tent at Splendour every morning over vegemite on toast and International Roast coffee?

Stranger Things dropped around the same week as Splendour and I dipped in to watch the first episode the night before flying up to Byron for the festival. So instantly hooked to this tale mysterious tale of missing Will Byers, his adventurous friends, their sexually explorative older siblings and feckless parents  — and that’s before we’re properly introduced to 11 and Matthew Modine in career-best form as nefarious operative from the perfectly chosen Department of Energy base — that I could never countenance going five days without finding out how our young heroes were progressing, even if those five days were being spent doing my absolute fave thing in the world.

With knowing winks to Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, The X-Files, The Goonies and, broadly speaking, 80s and 90s culture, Stranger Things follows four kids in their quest to locate their missing fifth. I find it interesting that these kids represent oppressed groups in society: a girl raised to be a slave for men, an African American, the differently abled and a presumed homosexual. While these four, along with basic white boy Finn Wolfhard, work together without prejudice, the adults in Hawkins, Indiana, can’t rise above their class prejudices and devotion to authority to enact anything close to a rescue. The dichotomy of effective kids contrasted with hopeless adults is explored regularly in King’s writings and Stranger Things’ auteurs The Duffer Brothers do a menful job showcasing the power of innocence in the face of abject cruelty.

On top of the famed synth score there is also an outstanding array of handpicked songs used throughout to add a aural punch to a particular scene. The Clash’s Should I Stay Or Should I Go is prominent, as are songs by Joy Division, New Order and Toto. Sunglasses At Night by Corey Hart has never sounded better.

An effective demonstration of just how quickly and resolutely Stranger Things entered our pop culture collective consciousness was while sat in said communal tent eating my toast and drinking my coffee, quite a few fellow revellers looked at my screen and asked, “Hey is that Stranger Things? How good is it?!”.

It’s very good. It’s my #6 TV show of 2016.


A very poor year in sport, made terrible by Australia’s weak showing at the World T20 and the ghastly timezone for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Had Australian done better at the Olympics or against Sri Lanka in the cricket or against England and New Zealand in the rugby or New South Wales in the State of Origin, or if I remembered who won the Big Bash or if more underdogs had won European football leagues or if anyone cared about the American women’s gymnastics team than maybe this list would be different.

Here is the Top 16 Sporting Events of 2016…

16. Rugby union’s continued existence
15. Lotsa cricket on and most of it is quite watchable
14. India, the only country aware of Kabaddi’s existence, wins the Kabaddi World Cup
13. Western Sydney Wanderers lose yet another A-League Grand Final
12. Cleveland Cavaliers win NBA Playoff Finals
11. Western Bulldogs win AFL Grand Final
10. Chicago Cubs win Major League Baseball’s World Series
9. Cronulla Sharks win NRL Grand Final
8. Iceland and Wales overperform at Euro2016
7. Portugal wins Euro2016 (and the tourney in general)
6. Chloe Esposito win’s Women’s Modern Pentathlon
5. Mack Horton wins Men’s 400m Freestyle
4. Australian Women win Olympic Gold in Rugby 7s
3. Leicester City win the English Premier League
2. Usain Bolt wins the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay treble
1. Patrick runs the City2Surf in 68 minutes


My countdown of the Top 100 Songs of 2016 started today on Twitter. Here is a YouTube playlist of the opening instalment:

And here is 100-81 in text form:

100. Untitled 08 09.06.2014. – Kendrick Lamar
99. Glad That You’re Gone – Hard Aches
98. Lost (Season One) – Camp Cope
97. Me, Myself & I – G-Eazy & Bebe Rexha
96. The Boys – Lisa Mitchell
95. Roses – Chainsmokers & Rozes
94. Simulation – Tkay Maidza
93. Gimme The Love – Jake Bugg
92. Thresher – Hellions
91. Good To Be Alone – Matt Corby
90. I Know A Girl – Preatures
89. Do It, Try It – M83
88. Faded – Milwaukee Banks
87. 1000x – Jarryd James & Broods
86. Stranger Things Theme – Luke Million
85. Cocoon – Milky Chance
84. No Chill – Vic Mensa & Skrillex
83. I Know What You Did Last Summer – Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
82. Idiot Oracle – Paul Dempsey
81. Cake By The Ocean – DNCE

(This entry into the annals of Year in Review history is being written while I sit on my red Ikea POÄNG chair watching A-League on TV and listening to the #6 Album of 2016.

#6 in Albums…


(Australia #16, US #36, UK #13)

While none of them are worth skipping, 17 songs is just far too long. That’s my only criticism of Blake’s third LP, which is every bit the qualitative successor to his eponymous debut and his mainstream breakthrough sophomore effort Overgrown. I honestly believe Blake is the greatest working musician today, and it’s not just his solo releases inculpating him, it’s also his standout guesting on Frank Ocean’s, Bon Iver’s and Beyonce’s highly acclaimed 2016 releases demonstrating his genius.

The Colour In Anything is mournful and melodic, gloomy and introspective, dark and foreboding. But never defeatist. It speaks to us in our hardest times and says ‘go on’. No matter how black the night, ineffective the moon or blanketing the clouds, the sun will come up in the morning and pierce the pain. “I remember laughing” from Modern Soul is the essential lyric.

One thing that became clarion during Blake’s Australian tour in July was that he’s not the depressed harbinger of doom his songs tend to portray him as. Aside from being nigh on 7-foot tall, he’s actually quite jolly and amiable. The message: enjoy the depth of emotions he enables and feeds, but don’t wallow. Visit with the tempest but never become a resident. The Colour In Anything is a journey into heartbreak but it’s also a release. Laugh along with Blake’s modern dating mishaps in Put That Away And Talk To Me, be on the other side of the art of ghosting with Radio Silence and cheer him on as he gambles everything for love on Choose Me.

#6 in Books…

(or my sixth best reading experience of the year b/c this book was published in 1973)

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My next adventure…

A post shared by Patrick Avenell (@patrickavenell) on

I have a one Pynchon per calendar year rule. So far this dictum has seen me through The Crying Of Lot 49, Bleeding Edge, Inherent Vice and, as of May 2016, Gravity’s Rainbow. Suffice to say I am feeling a rising anxiety about impending 2017 and the resetting of the clock and, say, Mason & Dixon staring at me smugly from my bookshelf.

G’s R is a 900-page post-mod WWII novel with 400-plus named characters. Pynchon uses ‘promote’ as a verb meaning to steal and that’s one of my fave expressions hovering around American literature. Tyrone Slothrock is an American GI in London and then southern France and then Berlin and the outer part of the Occupied Zone in the dying days of the War. He has an uncanny ability to lay pretty young things in the same locale as an impending German V2 bomb strike, making his success with the lasses a vital piece of intelligence for the allies. His rare skill is combined with several other outre abilities at testing labs in and around London, while his adventures on the continent take on a distinctly surreal shape as the Rocket Man’s fuel increasingly becomes more illicit. There’s an orgy in there on a boat somewhere, as well as a truly crazy coprophilic sex scene, which apparently caused Pynchon to be stripped of several awards.

I’m fairly stupid so I like to remind myself to enjoy the ride and not worry too much about the destination when devouring Pynchon. I love his knack for devising eccentric scenarios and then injecting them with so much detail that they stop being surreal or even hyperreal and simply feel real. There are times in Gravity’s Rainbow where I really was struggling to follow exactly what was going on but I just decided to plough on and trust in TP’s excellence and my scant comprehension skills to pick it up.

This was the book I was reading on my birthday, and I had to check it in at the Enmore for like $4 while seeing The Cat Empire. It was also the book I asked Jonathan Franzen to sign because I know he is inspired by it but he politely declined, citing some obscure writers’ code. It’s a book I am really proud to have read from cover to cover and I look forward to rereading it and following the action more closely once I’ve gotten through Mason & Dixon, V., Vineland and Against The Day. So, y’know, 2021.

Next! #5s in Films, TV, Albums + Books! Plus! My Best Tweets of 2016 and the Top 100 Songs of 2016 continues!

7 thoughts on “2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Sport and #P100) — #6 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 11

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