TPN staff contemplates 2016


By Culture Staff

Every year, college-themed New Year’s resolutions take the same predictable form — get in shape, find a job, join a club — but these easy goals leave us distressed when they don’t easily materialize into action.

This year, why not give yourself a break and make resolutions that are fun and enhance your cultural participation? Because after a year that saw the global box office record broken twice, Justin Bieber’s improbable return to endearment and streaming services’ boom of quality shows, 2016 is ripe for pop culture resolutions.

For inspiration, here are some of the culture staff’s pop cultural ambitions for 2016.

Amanda Reed

This year, I plan on finishing the “Star Wars” saga. I’ve seen Episodes I (“The Phantom Menace”), II (“Attack of the Clones”), IV (“A New Hope”) and, most recently, VII (“The Force Awakens,” aka The Movie that Rocked My World), so I figure it would be wrong not to watch the other movies in the franchise. I’ve seen enough now to know that I’m more knowledgeable on the prequels than the originals, and that’s a travesty. I’m starting off with Episode V (“The Empire Strikes Back”) because I fell asleep right at the beginning and woke up at the end the last time I tried to watch it. I have to prove to the rest of the culture staff that I’m capable of being a proper “Star Wars” fan.

Jack Trainor

So many resolutions are about relationships — getting rid of the toxic ones and doubling down on the supportive ones. In this golden age of television, that outlook doesn’t solely apply to other humans anymore. Reassessing the list of TV shows that I keep up with will be like filtering out my friends list on Facebook — which ones do I actually know, and which are the ones that I’ve watched only enough to know some of the characters? Sayonara, “Game of Thrones.”

Other breakups carry more weight, producing a building multi-season falling-out. Case in point: “The Walking Dead.” Enough with the three-month gaps that split single seasons in two. No more frustration after anticlimactic season finales. With so many other quality programs these days, moving on from a toxic TV relationship is easier than ever before.

Alessandra Roberto

This year — as in many others — my New Year’s resolution is to finish writing my book, about a girl with an identity crisis that leads her to the heart of a murder investigation. No, it isn’t inspired by finals week.

I started writing it as a hobby in eighth grade after my fiction writing class — and that’s where it stopped. At about two pages in, I hit a wall and the pages stayed blank for months. Later on, I would write some sentences here and there, and before I knew it, I had 35 written pages. I’m reaching the end, and this year, I’m going to finish it. One step at a time, and maybe I’ll have a published book a couple of years down the line.

Nick Mullen

In 2016, I’m finally going to read more, just as soon as I figure out why people are still talking about “The Wire,” rewatch “Arrested Development” for the 10th time, actually finish watching “The Sopranos” and decide whether or not it’s too soon to rewatch “Breaking Bad.” After that, I’ll try not to get bored by “True Detective,” see what all the hype is about “Empire” and try to follow along with the storylines in “Game of Thrones.” And, of course, I’m definitely going to read more next year.

Matt Maielli

This is the year I turn 21, so I’d also like to make it the year that I dive into Pittsburgh’s burgeoning music scene. Having a Spotify account is nice, but live music seems just a tad more genuine. I want to experience everything from basement shows to big sold-out venues.

I’m also planning to attend open mics around the city to watch and try stand-up comedy — from Papa D’s Sunday open mic nights to The Improv in the Waterfront. Music is taking off as the city develops, and comedy is not far behind. The two usually go hand in hand, and both occur in bars, so 2016 seems like my year to start enjoying them.

Britnee Meiser

First and foremost, I’ve never seen a majority of the “Star Wars” films — I’ll brace myself for exclamatory jeers — so I’d like to jump on that bandwagon before “The Force Awakens” goes out of theaters. Also in the realm of fantasy, I want to be more open-minded about the Marvel Universe. I just can’t get into “The Avengers,” but I loved Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” so perhaps I’ll tackle this feat by diving into “Daredevil” next. Finally, I want to read at least 100 books in my free time this year. I love to read, but between schoolwork, extracurriculars and mediums like Netflix, it’s easy to put leisurely reading on the back burner. Book number one? “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins.

Jack Shelly

My New Year’s resolution for 2016 is twofold. The first is to resist watching the second part of season seven of “Mad Men” until it becomes available on Netflix. As tempting as it is to purchase each of the six episodes on Amazon for $1.99 apiece, I need to prove to myself that I possess the self-control to wait until I can watch it on Netflix for free. It may not appear on Netflix until as late as May, but if it isn’t available until after the semester ends, then that’s all the better for my GPA. I’ll probably spend half of my time until then wondering what happens to Don Draper, but so be it.

The second is to read “The Andy Warhol Diaries” in its entirety. The famous pop artist’s posthumously published memoir is a record of his life among the rich and famous of the late ’70s and ’80s. While I’ve never been a big fan of his artwork, this book has been on my to-read list for a long time. It contains juicy details about the turbulent lives of some of the biggest celebrities of the 20th century, including Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Onassis. Furthermore, it pulls back the curtain on the inner circles of culturally prominent gay men before homosexuality was socially acceptable.

Rio Maropis

While most people spend their breaks binge-watching “Jane the Virgin” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” in the new year I’m attempting to binge-read the works of Ernest Hemingway and David Foster Wallace.

At 11, I was a die-hard bookworm: Frizzy hair, glasses, book tucked in the crook of my left arm. Later on in life, I didn’t have as much free time. Instead of actually checking “I Am Malala” or “Gone Girl” out of the library, I simply added them to my mental list.

My resolution is to set aside more time to read and face that list — to stop being lazy and make my words into actions. I want to be that bookworm again.

Ian Flanagan

New year, same problem — there’s not nearly enough time for all the albums I want to listen to, movies I want to watch and books I should probably suffer through. I read very few books last year, but in 2016, I hope to complete J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, as I’m currently nearly finished with “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

In film, I wish to knock out the classics from renowned foreign directors — Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman and the like — and simply to see as many  movies as I can. I have many goals in music — feel out the rest of hip-hop’s best offerings, finally get around to exploring soul and jazz essentials and embrace the eccentricity of “Trout Mask Replica” by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band until I understand its legacy. I’ll try to figure out what vaporwave is, too.