A Eulogy for 2016: Moments That Made Us Happy

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Listen, you certainly don’t need me to tell you how much 2016 has sucked. I get it. You get it. We all get it. I’m certainly not here to remind you of the magnitude of its suckiness. Unfortunately, it’s still ever-present. So let’s not beat that dead horse.

But it wasn’t all bad. Really. There were some good moments. Events and people that made us smile, made us stand up and cheer, made us happy for life. Remember the first time you watched the Chewbacca Mom video? You smiled. Maybe even laughed out loud right along with her. It was a moment of pure, unbridled joy.

Did you watch the Rio Olympics? Were you blown away by the majesty and awe-inspiring brilliance of Simone Biles as she tore through the competition and showed the world what a champion looks like?

Were you captivated by Stranger Things and transported through nostalgia to an earlier time?

Did Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech at the Tony Awards fill you with love and hope? Did The Hamilton Mixtape reignite a belief in the power of music?

These are the moments that make us happy. These are the moments we should carry with us into 2017. There were so many moments in 2016 that made us cry, broke our hearts, wounded us, left behind a void that’s impossible to fill, or caused us to lose faith in the human race. Far too many.

But there were also thousands of moments that blew away the clouds, let the light shine in, and brought some warmth to our souls. And those moments, those events–they’re incredibly effective as ammunition against the all-too-powerful (and seemingly impossible-to-kill) voice that holds up 2016 as a vindictive force bent on destroying all that is good.

With that in mind, I asked some of the GeekDad and GeekMom contributors to submit some of the 2016 moments that made them happy. What helped them make it through the year? What brought them joy? What made them smile? These are not personal events experienced by only a few (like a child’s first steps) but rather moments that were shared by all of us. Smile-worthy events that restored a bit of our faith in humanity and deserve to be remembered. And celebrated.

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Rob Huddleston: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It took most of the year, but the thing that made me happy this year was Rogue One. Yes, I know it didn’t connect with everyone, and that’s fine, but for me, it was the Star Wars movie I’ve waited 30 years to see. I enjoyed watching it more than last year’s The Force Awakens, and I really liked TFA. Rogue One hit all of the right notes for me, with its mix of nostalgic call-backs, answers to some of the perplexing questions that have always lingered about Episode IV, and K-2SO. Best of all, it’s a movie that I can enjoy seeing a few more times this holiday season with my son.

Anthony Karcz: Jessie Graff Taking Names on American Ninja Warrior

Jessie Graff, stunt woman to freakin’ Supergirl, is the closest thing we will ever have to a real-life Wonder Woman in our midst. Appropriate, then, that she donned a Wondy-themed costume as she absolutely dominated the American Ninja Warrior 2016 LA Qualifier course earlier this year. I’ve seen this video a dozen times and I still want to cheer at the end. Every. Time. From her strength to her positive attitude to her determination, she’s the perfect role model for anyone.

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Jamie Greene: Falcon 9 Makes History by Sticking the Landing on a Floating Platform

Watching this happen live, back in April, was an absolute thrill. And I still get chills when I watch the footage. I mean, just watch the video and listen to the cheers and excitement of the people in the room as they watch Falcon 9 come down. They scienced the $h!t out of that rocket, and their joy is contagious. SpaceX has had its ups and downs over the past few years (and even within this year alone), but that’s what makes them so thrilling to watch. They’re unafraid to take risks. They see the road ahead, and they’re forging the path. Mistakes will be made. Accidents will happen. But unless we fail, we won’t learn. Space travel and exploration demand courage and determination. And we’ll never advance humanity’s footprint beyond our planet or explore the cosmos without plenty of risks, trials, and–yes–accidents. The Falcon 9 landing in April was a huge leap in bringing the future closer… and more affordable.

Samantha Fisher: “Seagulls! (Stop it Now)”: A Bad Lip Reading

You could change “seagulls” to “2016” in this video and it would be an almost perfect fit. In this crap heap of a year, I’ve found myself looking for little ways to bring joy into my life and this video really fit the bill. Even if you aren’t a Star Wars nerd like me, how could you resist this video? Use your giant feet, along with this video, to groove and boogie away your cares with me. Run run run jump!

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Jonathan Liu: Voltron: Legendary Defender

Like many people my age, I was a fan of Voltron when I was a kid, but watching the show as an adult left me a little dissatisfied. So it was with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation that I approached the new Voltron: Legendary Defender from Netflix and Dreamworks Animation that released this year. It turns out that not only did it hit all the right notes for me, it made new fans of my entire family, and we’re eagerly awaiting the release of the second season in January. As a huge bonus, I got to spend my birthday at Dreamworks Animation to visit the Voltron showrunners and get a preview of the show along with some other bloggers.

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Dakster Sullivan: Tibby the Corgi

Tibby the Corgi is a bundle of furry corgi goodness that makes me smile on both Facebook and Instagram.

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Anika Dane: The 50th Anniversary of Star Trek

Well wishes took over the internet, the cutest being the themed Facebook reactions, and the best being the wide swath of people from all over the world who spoke up in tribute.

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Shiri Sondheimer: Doctor Strange

Despite the well-discussed, and legitimate, concerns about white-washing and the fallout thereof (and as much as I love Tilda Swinton, I agree her casting was extremely problematic), Doctor Strange made me smile this year. A solid origin story; gorgeous, trippy visuals; the trademark snark intact; and an actual motivation for Mordo came together to do what no one thought possible: translate the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen. Some had their doubts about Cumberbatch; I thought he was excellent and there’s no denying he nailed all the different dimensions of the character from the initial narcissism to the trademark smirk to the huge heart. Benedict Wong’s adaptation of the ironically eponymous character was another highlight; Wong successful created a learned, ultra-badass, more-than-equal from a dated archetype without falling into other aspects of said old news (kudos to the writers for that as well). Doctor Strange also piqued my interest in Thor: Ragnarok, a film in which, despite being a Marvel fangirl, I had little interest or hope. I absolutely CANNOT wait to see Strange and Stark snark off in Infinity War (or whatever it’s called now) while poor Cap stands there with his hands over his ears, whimpering, “LANGUAGE!”

 

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Patricia Vollmer: Launch of the GOES-R Weather Satellite

My year-end smile is the successful launch and operational orbit of the GOES-R/GOES-16 geostationary weather satellite. I’ve been keeping up with, and even did a small research project related to, some of the incredible remote-sensing technologies on board, such as the global lightning mapper (GLM), extreme ultraviolet and X-ray irradiance sensor (EXIS), and 4x higher-resolution/5x higher-frequency imagers of the data our country has grown accustomed to having as part of America’s weather forecast and analysis process. This satellite will do wonders for advancing meteorology and (perhaps more importantly to our country) climate change.

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Nivi Engineer: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

For the past few years, in between rewatching the HP movies, we have subsisted on movies starring Daniel, Emma, and Rupert; countless tweets; trivia quizzes, HP World, and Pottermore, but now, JK Rowling has cast her spell once again, and brought us Fantastic Beasts. “When you worry, you suffer twice.” Wondrous characters, great visual effects, adorable creatures, what’s not to love?

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Michael LeSauvage: Virtual Reality

This is the year virtual reality became an actual thing at the consumer level, and unique, compelling experiences were made for it. What better year for it than one where you occasionally want to sneak away from actual reality?

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Robin Brooks: The Rio Paralymics and Kadeena Cox’s Smile

I always love an Olympic year. Two weeks of the very best sportsmen and women in the world, putting everything on the line in search of Gold. At least it used to be two weeks. Now it’s four, for, after London 2012, the Paralympic games are now also firmly on my sporting radar.

At the Paralympics, the endeavor and tenacity displayed in pursuit of excellence is humbling. One thing I noticed this time around is that the media had identified that it was “the story” that made the games and its athletes so special. Almost every competitor has overcome some sort of trial and that gives rise to empathy in us, the viewers.

In a year that threw curveball after curveball, there is something reassuring that human endeavor and striving to be the best you can be is still alive and well. Nobody better epitomizes this than Kadeena Cox and her amazing smile. At the games in Rio, Cox became the first British athlete since 1984 to win Paralympic Gold in two different sports. She took part in the cycling and track athletics, racing in the C4-5 Time Trial and the T38 400m sprint. She also won a bronze in T38 100m.

Cox had a promising career in able-bodied sport ahead of her, when in 2014 she suffered a stroke. After overcoming the effects of this she returned to training, only to find a numbness creeping into her limbs. After tests, it was found she had multiple sclerosis. Determined to compete, she switched to parasport, and not knowing what the future might hold, took on two sports at once whilst she still could. In Rio, she can become one of the brightest stars in the already incandescent Paralympics GB team. Not only were her sporting performances stellar, she lit up the room with her positive attitude and effervescence. For me, she exemplifies the spirit of the Paralympics and, along with all the other competitors, brightened a dark year.

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Evil Genius Mum: Deadpool

But seriously folks, Deadpool was the cure we didn’t know we needed. Not just for 2016, but for the whole Superhero Overdose. The movie came out in February 2016—BEFORE the year really went to Hell in a handbasket. And yet it still stands out as one of the best films of 2016, with arguably The Best Social Media Campaign. Ever. When 2016 went beyond kicking us to the ground and really started to rub our face in it, it was Deadpool—our Marvel savior, who used Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to remind us we still have each other. And collectively, our year will still be crappy… but at least we have Deadpool to laugh at together. Deadpool was the delicious wicked indulgence we enjoyed at the beginning and kept calling back for “comfort hugs” right up until… well, I’m still holding on to Deadpool for reassurance in 2017.

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A.J. O’Connell: The X-Files Revival

After nine seasons, two movies, and two spin-offs, you’d think no one would ever want to see Agents Mulder and Scully ever again, but the 2016 X-Files revival was exactly what I needed at the beginning of the year. Maybe it’s the magic cocktail of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Maybe it’s knowing that those pencils are still stuck in the ceiling of the FBI HQ’s basement. Maybe it was that werelizard episode. Whatever it was, I was just happy to know that the truth is still out there and that someone is still looking for it.

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Sean Hallenbeck: Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin as Clinton and Trump

With the election season being as contentious as possible, the first time Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin appeared as Hillary and Trump was sublime. With Baldwin being more of an echo than an impression, we were brought out of our election stupor and into a laugh-induced euphoria. For the briefest moment, we were joyful.

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Matt Blum: The Earth Did Not Fall Into the Sun

‘Nuff said.

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