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A Year to Celebrate

2011 was great and all, but get ready for what comes next

Austin photo: Contributor_Michael Graupmann

Hey, do y'all remember 2011? That was a pretty great year, right? I can barely remember any of it — it was so long ago.

I know that Top Chef came to Texas. I remember Beyonce's weird old baby bump bursting onto the scene at one of those award shows. Harry Potter died (Spoiler alert!). Natural disasters and heat waves and fires were destroying everything. And then there was that whole Royal Wedding nonsense where everyone was wearing hats. Oh, and Adam Sandler made that Jack and Jill movie about being his sister or something. I think that was about it for the year, right?

You may remember it differently, but this was the year that I got a job doing what I love the most and sharing it with you all. So, I think it pretty went well. No matter how great or terrible 2011 may have been for you, it's time we all start looking forward to the sickeningly amazing things that are coming up this year in Austin.

Even just saying "2012" sounds so much easier and sexier than that clumsy old "2011," don't you think?

In 2012, SXSW is going to be even more insane than it was last year, and that's coming from a guy who broke his nose in a dance fight at SXSW on the last day of Interactive. I predict this will be the year that the festival gets so out of control that major adjustments have to be made to the schedule and/or the city to accommodate its size. I tried counting the number of bands playing, and I got tired of counting after the D's. This year, I'm going to try seeing every keynote speaker from all three areas, go to every party and get every free piece of swag anyone will give me, because we all need goals, y'all.

Speaking of goals, how many of you are planning to run one of the 17,000 marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, 1/2Ks, Kid Ks, Baby Ks or Pet Ks this year? The Keep Austin Weird 5K in June is my favorite because a lot of people run in ridiculous costumes so it feels like Halloween AND gym class. There's a marathon happening practically every day of the week here in Austin, so you just gotta set your mind on which date you'll be "ready" and just start running. Even if there's not an official race, just slap a number on your spandex shirt and get going. What are you waiting for?

The O. Henry Pun-Off is another one of my favorite events of the year because of its unapologetic embrace of nerdy wordplay. Nerdplay, if you will. Hosted at the O. Henry Museum in late May, the competition and the audience get bigger and rowdier each year that I've been here, making the victory that much sweeter. I'm not sure what kind of training goes in to preparing for a Pun-Off, but I'm imagining there are a lot of bloody noses.

For those possessing ample literary fortitude, the 2012 Texas Book Festival is going to be even bigger and better than last year's already amazing production. If you recall, the 2011Austin Film Festival landed on the same October weekend as the TBF, on essentially the same corridor of downtown. This year, each festival gets its own weekend, and both will benefit from the exclusivity. Plus, we all benefit from getting to see more authors and more movies!

Besides the unforeseen breakout pictures from the festival circuits, 2012 is going to be full of amazing big screen movie-going experiences as well. The Hunger Games is going to start changing your life and make you forget about those terrible Twilight movies in March. The Avengers will rule the box office until The Dark Knight Rises shows up to school it in July. Then Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will remind us why we love movies in the first place.

In live performance, there are so many exciting shows happening musically, theatrically and comedically, that we're not even going to know what to do with ourselves. The stages in this town are going to be on proverbial fire, and it's going to be up to you to witness it all. Fusebox Festival begins this month, then it's Frontera Fest in February. And then they just keep on coming.

ZACH Theatre is going to open their new Topfer Theatre in September with a production of Ragtime. But the show I'm the most anticipating from 2012 is Xanadu, the Douglas Carter Beane penned musical based on the 1980 roller skating movie starring Olivia Newton-John. I couldn't be happier to know that ZACH vet Jill Blackwood is starring as the Greek muse of Newton-Johnian proportions in this hysterically over the top show.

Ballet Austin is once again presenting their Light/Holocaust & Humanity Project at the Long Center in March. This work by choreographer Stephen Mills became a community-wide project emphasizing human rights, using a new language that will blow you away. The Long Center also welcomes two brassy Hollywood redheads to their stage this year to share their stories: Kathy Griffin and Carol Burnett.

And over at the Paramount Theatre, celebrity artists will keep dropping by for shows that you won't find anywhere else in town. Comedic actor John Leguizamo is touring his new one-man show, Ghetto Klown, on stage in February. SNL alum Martin Short and his array of characters show up for one night in March. Humorist David Sedaris comes back to visit in April. Completely different shows but all amazing in their own regard.

Look at me going on and on about this year, and it has barely started. Plus, this is only a drop in the bucket of all the live performance you can experience in 2012 in this town. Live music happens every night of the week, big name comedians tour through Austin all the time, and movie producers want to know what our city's fans think about their latest projects.

All's I'm saying is... Whatever 2011 did to you: Getoverit. It's in the past. Long live 2012. It's gonna be great.

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