Pop Culture Year in Review 2015

2015 pop culture year in review
Honestly, if I could only choose one pop culture phenomenon to highlight from the year 2015, it would be Hamilton. How could you not love a historically-accurate hip-hop musical about the young, scrappy, and hungry life of United States founding father, and architect of the U.S treasury, Alexander Hamilton?

2015 pop cultureCabinet battles, duels, love triangles, betrayal, and the catchiest tunes this side of 42nd street. Seriously, it is so good. I have listened to the soundtrack more in the last month than any other album in years. If you haven’t listened to it yet, it’s my greatest suggestion that you download it, memorize it, love it, pin Hamilton photos on Pinterest, watch #Ham4Ham videos on YouTube, and make up silly Hamilton memes with me.

But in the spirit of tradition, this post highlights my favorite movies, music, videos, performances, and podcasts of 2015 in my annual pop culture year in review.

Favorite New Albums of 2015:
Muse – Drones
Elle King – Love Stuff
Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors
Deathcab for Cutie – Kintsugi
Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect
Hamilton – Original Cast Recording

Favorite Movies Seen in 2015:
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Inside Out
Love & Mercy
The Danish Girl
The Intern

Favorite TV Shows of 2015:
The Good Wife
Modern Family
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
The Big Bang Theory
Masters of Sex
House of Cards
Mad Men

Favorite Podcasts of 2015:
Death, Sex and Money
Gilmore Guys
Reply All
Surprisingly Awesome
Mystery Show
Planet Money

Concerts and Live Performances Attended in 2015:
Newsies at Detroit Opera House
Paul McCartney at Joe Louis Arena
City and Colour at The Fillmore Detroit
Crazy for You at Royal Oak High School
Bye Bye Birdie at Warren Civic Theater

Favorite YouTube Videos Released in 2015:
Love Has No Labels | Diversity & Inclusion | Ad Council
Baby’s First Bacon
Star Wars Cast Sings “Stayin’ Alive”
#Ham4Ham Jimmy Fallon “You’ll Be Back”
Mean Tweets – President Obama Edition
Wheel of Freestyle with Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lip Sync Battle with Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Jimmy Fallon

Previous Years:

2014 Pop Culture Year in Review

pop culture year in review

2014 was a fantastic year for entertainment! I laughed, I cried, I cringed in disbelief, and I tweeted out commentary as I indulged in these movies, concerts, and shows. This was an interesting year for me, because for the first time in over a decade, blogging wasn’t one of my primary sources of entertainment. I attended fewer blogging events and conferences, and spent more time with my family. And surprisingly, I haven’t missed blogging as much as I expected. I haven’t written a post since May, but to follow up with tradition, I had to make a post for all the things that kept me entertained this year.

2014 pop culture picksFavorite New Albums of 2014:
Ingrid Michaelson – Lights Out
Into the Woods Movie Soundtrack
Neon Trees – Pop Psychology
Coldplay – Ghost Stories
The Fault in our Stars Soundtrack
Jason Mraz – Yes!
Weird Al Yankovic – Mandatory Fun
Imogen Heap – Sparks
Maroon Five – V
U2 – Songs of Innocence
OK Go – Hungry Ghosts

Favorite TV Shows of 2014:
New Girl
Mad Men
Masters of Sex
The Mindy Project
Orange is the New Black
House of Cards
Pretty Little Liars
Switched at Birth
Gilmore Girls (full Netflix rewatch with Rosie – TV highlight of the year)

Favorite Podcasts of 2014
Gilmore Guys
Planet Money
Mormon Stories
The Cultural Hall

Favorite Movies Seen in 2014:
The Lego Movie
Into the Woods
Guardians of the Galaxy
Dumb and Dumber To

Concerts and Performances Attended:
Ingrid Michaelson, Royal Oak Music Theater
Barenaked Ladies, Caesars Windsor
Turandot, Detroit Opera House
The Piano Guys, Fox Theater Detroit
Pearl Jam, Joe Louis Arena Detroit

Favorite YouTube Videos:
Carl Poppa – Bad Lip Reading
Shake it Off – 1988 Aerobic Championship – Taylor Swift
Celebrities Read Mean Tweets – Jimmy Fallon
Flirting Academy – Studio C
Gilmore Girls Season 1 – Pop Culture Reference Supercut – Gilmore Guys
Wheel of Musical Impressions with Adam Levine – Jimmy Kimmel

Blogging Laryngitis

nicole bullock thinking
You know that feeling when you have laryngitis? Straining to make noises, a sore/achy throat, and feeling the effects of vocal fatigue? You know that you should probably rest your voice, even though you have a lot to say? That’s how I’ve felt lately with my blogging. I have said so many things on my blog over so many years, and I continue to think of so many things to write about. Even though I technically have a voice, I feel like a bit of vocal rest is best right now.

Micro-posts on social media have been just what the doctor ordered lately. I’m doing so much in my personal, professional, and private life, so blogging has been on the back burner. When I do write, my posts end up being saved unfinished in my draft folder. I have spent over 12 hours writing about a topic really close to my heart this month, but when it came down to hitting publish…I couldn’t do it. I did not feel ready to open myself up to the possible criticism and necessary explanations that it would begin. You have to have a thick skin to write about anything potentially controversial, and my skin is eerily thin right now.

The past 6 months since my move to Detroit have been a thrilling, fast-paced, up-down-and-sideways, and sometimes horrifying experience. With my professional career being Internet-based, the appeal of blogging has waned over the last year.  Knowing that business decisions can be influenced by the things that I publish, I have grown extremely cautious.

It’s weird that I feel like this right now, because I living in Detroit gives me SO much to talk about. I am falling in love with my new city, and I want to “say nice things about Detroit.” I love the history, architecture, and culture that have made the Motor City so interesting and appealing to me. I’ve been toying about starting another offshoot blog dedicated to all things Detroit (because I have an addiction to registering domains, and already have purchased a few for this purpose). But again, social media feels like the right place to share it.

Bear with me as I figure out my place in the blogosphere. I’m going to sip my icy drink and listen for a while.

Wordless Wednesday: Ingrid Michaelson Tonight

Wordless Wednesday: Signs of Spring

spring daffodils by nicole bullock

april snow in michigan

Wordless Wednesday: Neverending Detroit Winter

never ending Detroit winter

Get Your Strike On With BowlingShoes.com

glow-in-the-dark bowling shoesEver since I was I child, I’ve loved going bowling. This love is in direct correlation between how many episodes of The Flintstones I watched and now much I loved wearing funky retro bowling shoes. Bowling with friends gives you the chance to strut your stuff in front of others while hurling a heavy ball down a glossy lane of ten pins. It’s fun, it’s retro, and it’s recreational.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try to get a good score in bowling, I’m lucky to break 100.

While I was in college, I took a bowling class to sharpen my skills. On the first day of class, before learning any rules or basics of the game, we got to play a free round of bowling. I scored 111, which ended up being the highest score I achieved in 4 months of bowling classes and volunteering with the Special Olympics bowling league. I gained some good techniques, learned the lingo of the game, and am aware of physics of being a good bowler. But the more I focus on technique, the worse my score is at the end of the game.

Therefore, I’ve learned to play for the fun of the game, and to wear rocking bowling shoes.

I was contacted by BowlingShoes.com to review a pair of shoes. Although I’ve had my own pairs of bowling shoes in the past, they were cheap, uncomfortable, and had an unnecessary amount of velcro. When I searched their site for a pair of shoes to select, I focused immediately on the Elite Neon Sun Ladies’ Bowling Shoes. Why? Because they GLOW IN THE DARK. If you know me at all, you know that I can’t resist the glow.  I think that nighttime cosmic bowling is the most fun, and these shoes are perfect for it!

elite neon sun bowling shoesThe shoes are matte black with a neon yellow/green tongue, logo, and laces, with white contrast stitching. When under black lighting, the shoes glow a cool greenish tint. The shoes are lightweight with a felty-bottomed universal slide sole. The fit is a little wider than the shoes you would rent from the bowling alley, which is good for my feet. I am not sure if the shoes are genuine leather or some type of vinyl composite…the descriptions on the product box and on other websites do not specify the materials.

In wearing the shoes around my hardwood-floored home, I did find them quite comfortable. The soles had just the right amount of grip/slide that I like for my game, and there was adequate support within the shoe. My only complaint is that the back heel portion of the shoe is very stiff, and made my skin feel raw after a few minutes. I think I’m more prone to that  shoe/heel rubbing than the average person, so next time I’ll wear some padded athletic socks to minimize the friction.

The Elite Neon Sun shoes are available for $49.99 through BowlingShoes.com, which is an affordable mid-range price for the casual bowler. Owning your own bowling shoes means that you don’t have to deal with the germs that the rental shoes can have. I’ve always hated watching bowling alley employees “spray and pray” away the germs with aerosol disinfectant, so I’m happy to only deal with my own foot germs.

I can’t wait to try these shoes out in action. I found a bowling alley less than a mile from my house that has cosmic bowling and karaoke on the weekends. Paired with some funky socks and a striped shirt, I’ll be glowing with pride in my new bowling shoes.

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary pair of bowling shoes from bowlingshoes.com in exchange for a review. Images in the review are property of their website, but opinions are all my own. Retail value of the shoes is $49.99.

2013 Pop Culture Year in Review

2013 pop culture year in review
Music, movies, television, live performances, and more. 2013 was a great year for culture in many genres, which made this raving pop culture junkie a happy girl. What were my favorite pop culture experiences of 2013*? Here’s my recap.

Favorite Television Shows of 2013
Breaking Bad (I still can’t believe it’s over)
New Girl
The Mindy Project
Orange is the New Black
House of Cards
Arrested Development

Favorite Concerts of 2013
Muse – Rose Garden, Portland, OR
Muse – Energy Solutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Tegan and Sara with Walk Off the Earth – The Fillmore, Detroit, MI
Empire of the Sun – Twilight Concert Series, Salt Lake City, UT
Keane – Live from Berlin (it was a concert movie, but it was amazing)

Favorite Albums of 2013
Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
Keane – Best of Keane
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Phoenix – Bankrupt!
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
John Mayer – Paradise Valley
Frozen Soundtrack
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Favorite Movies of 2013
Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Great Gatsby
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Ender’s Game
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Monsters University
Man of Steel
Oz the Great and Powerful

Favorite Songs of 2013
Imagine Dragons – Demons
Sara Bareilles – Brave
City and Colour – Thirst
The Killers – Miss Atomic Bomb
The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather
M83 (featuring Susanne Sundfor) – Oblivion
Lorde – Royals
Lana Del Rey – Summertime Sadness
Daft Punk – Get Lucky
Biffy Clyro – Biblical
The 1975 – Chocolate
OneRepublic – Counting Stars
Barenaked Ladies – Odds Are
Bastille – Pompeii

Favorite Performances/Exhibits of 2013
Florencia en el Amazonas – Utah Opera
Watch Me Move – Detroit Institute of Arts
The Heidelberg Project – Detroit
The Fargo Tourist Bureau – Fargo, ND
Chris & Kevin’s Batman Wedding – Dana Point, CA

Favorite YouTube Videos of 2013

Hashtag – Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake
Walk Off The Earth – Red Hands
Tegan and Sara – Closer
Ylvis – The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)
Prancercise: A Fitness Workout
The Ragtime Gals – “SexyBack” and “I Wanna Sex You Up”
Christmas Jammies

*note: Some songs, albums, and movies were released in 2012, but they were heavily enjoyed in 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Stringing Christmas Lights

stringing Christmas lights