Things That Brought the Rude Pundit Unmitigated Joy in 2012:
The Rude Pundit is giving his brain and soul a day off from thinking about pushing the NRA off the fiscal cliff or whatever the hell is going on out there. Instead, he's doing a non-political thing here, a kind of year-in-review thing, but instead of listing ten movies you can scoff at, this is a bit more personal. Here's some moments in cultural type things that were little rays of light for the Rude Pundit in the dark tunnel of 2012:

1. In the movie tent at the end of the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee in June, with the band fun. and two others groups loudly echoing around, the Rude Pundit sat with two great friends and about fifty other people and watched Beasts of the Southern Wild. And all of the noise and exhaustion faded away. This was something unexpected, strange, and magical, and, by the end, so beautiful and true, that, when the lights came up, we three grown men were crying, as was pretty much everyone else in the tent. No film this year came close to inducing that kind of visceral feeling.

2. "Take a Walk" by Passion Pit is a pop song with teeth about men who, frankly, could only afford to eat at Taco Bell. The story of people suffering in the recession, it climaxes with this bridge that describes the Tea Party generation about as well as any song:

Honey it’s your son
I think I borrowed just too much
We had taxes, we had bills
We had a lifestyle to front
And tonight I swear I'll come home
And we’ll make love like we’re young
Tomorrow you’ll cook dinner
For the neighbors and their kids
We could rip apart those socialists
And all their damn taxes
You’ll see I am no criminal
I’m down on both bad knees
I’m just too much a coward
To admit when I’m in need

So why is this in a list of joy? Because it's all set to a bouncy, driving tune with a chorus that won't leave your head and, truly, you won't mind. (Bonus song: "Christmas in the Room" by Sufjan Stevens)

3. In the encore of his first concert ever at the Prudential Center in Newark, Bruce Springsteen picked up a sign from the audience that said, "Play one for Levon." He walked around to the E Street Band and talked it over, going through some quiet chord changes, and then he said that he hadn't played this song since his bar days and that this was for Levon Helm. Yeah, Bruce Springsteen played "The Weight" as a singalong for 20,000 people, and it was one of those moments where there was nowhere else on earth you wanted to be. (Concert runners-up: The Kills at Terminal 5 in NYC and The Roots at Bonnaroo)

4. The play We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 at the Soho Rep in New York. More than any other theatre this year, this work by Jackie Sibblies Drury, about a group of self-involved actors trying to figure out how to do a play about the first genocide of the 20th century, consistently surprised its audience with its shifting tones and perspective.

5. The conversation between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey was not really about politics (or Hugh Grant). But it was two incredibly smart, incredibly funny men sitting on stage and talking about how they conceive of and create their shows for over two hours. Now that was some bliss.