Jen’s Media Picks

I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite music, movies, TV shows, and books of 2008. Not all of these were new in 2008, but perhaps I was first introduced to them this year, or I rediscovered my love for them. Also, it’s very hard for me to think of life in calendar years since my very existence is defined by the school year, so I might include some from the last months of 2007. Some of these items were Christmas gifts from 2007, which means that most of my enjoyment from them came in the year 2008. Dear Reader, I’d love to hear your comments or some of your favorites!

Even though I had known of and enjoyed many of these artists before last year, their new albums or singles contributed to and helped define the soundtrack of my year.


Feist “The Reminder”
M83 “Saturdays = Youth”
Shane & Shane “Pages” (end of 2007)
The Weepies “Hideaway” and “Say I Am You”
Sufjan Stevens “Songs for Christmas” (end of 2007)
Coldplay “Viva la Vida”
Sigur Ros new album
Death Cab “Narrow Stairs”
Sara Bareilles “Little Voice”
Stars “In Our Bedroom After the War” (end of 2007), especially “Midnight Coward”
Goldfrapp “A&E”
BellX1 “Rocky Takes a Lover”
Yael Naim
John Mayer “Say”
The Ting Tings
Regina Spektor
A Fine Frenzy “One Cell in the Sea”
Fleet Foxes
Iron and Wine “The Shepherd’s Dog”
Glen Hansard and Markita Irglova
Jason Mraz

I don’t watch a lot of television, but these are the few shows that I always looked forward to last year. They continue to be my favorites in the new year.


Flight of the Conchords: why can I never decide between Bret and Jemaine? who is cuter? who is funnier? who is sweeter? every time the other one speaks, I change my mind. Maybe it’s Murray.
The Office: never fails to get me to laugh out loud. Jim and Pam stay sweet, Michael keeps the zingers coming, and the Dwight-Angela-Andy triangle maintains a sort of tension.
Grey’s Anatomy: admittedly, this has not been the best year for Grey’s. However, Derek and Meredith keep me coming back, no matter how ridiculous Izzy, George, and Callie become.
LOST: some crazy, crazy stuff. can I just say that I knew it was a flash forward before anyone else?
Top Chef: inspiring me to experiment and create new dishes. why, oh why, can’t they do a vegetarian episode?
SNL: the presidential campaign breathed new life into this old classic, and Tina Fey deserves every Golden Globe she ever receives
The Daily Show: Jon Stewart is smart, witty, quick, and hilarious. Indecision 2008 made for some great online watching.

Podcasts (best for listening on the plane or while putting up bulletin boards in my classroom)


This American Life
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips
The Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor



Once: beautiful and realistic look at life in Dublin, gorgeous, moving music
Juno: smart, funny, sardonic, infinitely watchable Ellen Page makes this movie. Also, since the advent of Arrested Development a few years ago, Jason Bateman has become one of my absolute favorite actors
Darjeeling Limited: why do Wes Anderson films always make me think about life so much more deeply? poignant, funny, moving
Mongol: epic, gorgeous, melancholy picture about Genghis Khan, filmed in China and Mongolia, with subtitles. reminiscent of one of my favorite movies of all time: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Prince Caspian: the ultimate letdown. nice special effects but dramatic and unwarranted changes to plot and point of the story. Susan: I’m disappointed in you. you are NOT in love with Caspian. sheesh! does everything have to have kissing?
Ironman: loads of pumped up fun. Robert Downey, Jr has always been intriguing to me, and I’m loving Gwyneth’s red hair! Is it too arrogant of me to imagine Gwyneth playing my role in Jennifer Payne: The Movie?
Indiana Jones: serious disappointment
Quantum of Solace: Daniel Craig rocks. And there will never be another Bond girl as alluring and lovable as Vesper. so sad
The Dark Knight: haunting. amazing.
Mamma Mia!: Loved it. Sure, parts are cheesy. But mostly it made me want to travel to Greece, dance in a huge chorus group, and sing catchy ABBA songs all day long
What Happens in Vegas: pretty much anything with Ashton Kutcher is going to get laughs from me. He’s just hilarious.
Get Smart: yes, I love the formulaic fun of cheesy spy-type movies, also, I go for anything with Steve Carell.
Australia: hard to put my finger on this movie. is it a spoof? is it truly an epic? either way, I enjoyed Nicole Kidman’s outfits and it made me miss my years of horseback riding.

(There are several movies that came out at the end of the year that I have yet been unable to see because of our stupid Hagerstown theater. They don’t play artsy, indie movies. They don’t play interesting movies. They mostly only play the blockbusters. I am still dying to see Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader, and Defiance. I also am slowly becoming more intrigued by The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. At first I thought it looked dumb, but the more previews I see, the more interesting it appears.)

Books: I didn’t read as many books this year as usual because my awesome photo project took up about 3 weeks of my summer (prime reading time), but the following books were notable.


Atonement: powerfully sad story
Love in the Time of Cholera: heavy, intense prose
Man Walks into a Room: kind of haunted me
The Time Traveler’s Wife: couldn’t put it down. read the entire thing in 12 hours
Love Walked In: pretty lightweight, but still interesting
Brideshead Revisited: my favorite genre, my favorite period. So why was it so hard to get through?
Children’s books by E. Nesbit The Story of the Amulet, Five Children and It: classic turn-of-the-century British children’s literature, one of my favorite genres
Tuck Everlasting: fanciful children’s story about living forever
Bridge to Terebithia: did not like as much as I thought I would

I also re-read some favorites: The Chronicles of Narnia, the Anne of Green Gables series

Games: oh my goodness, we played so many games this year. Having Alban around helped significantly for any non-2-player games.


Power Grid: the Paynes’ game of the year
Scramble: online with Facebook friends (mostly Daddy, Jason, and Megan). Turns out I’m way better at Scrabble than Boggle-type games

2 thoughts on “Jen’s Media Picks

  1. Maybe you’ve heard of these, maybe you haven’t, but I think you might like some of these artists:

    The Decemberists (My personal favorite)

    Andrew Bird
    Arctic Monkeys
    The Ataris
    Arcade Fire
    The Bravery
    Broken Social Scene
    Cary Brothers
    Cat Power
    Citizen Cope
    Cold War Kids
    Colin Hay
    Colin Meloy
    Delta Spirit
    The Ditty Bops
    Echo & The Bunnymen
    The Exit
    Flogging Molly
    Gary Jules
    Half-Handed Cloud
    Hawksley Workmen
    Imogen Heap
    Joanna Newsom
    Joshua Radin
    The Kinks
    Modest Mouse
    Okkervil River
    Pete Yorn
    The Polyphonic Spree
    The Raconteurs
    Rogue Wave
    The Shins
    The Strokes
    The Hives
    Ugly Casanova
    Toad: The Wet Sprocket
    The Verve
    Vampire Weekend

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