Seeing Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, Second City-trained comics with an eponymous hit Comedy Central series, express a country's frustration with its placid president through their "Obama's Anger Translator" skits.
Reading Ty Burr's "Gods Like Us," his incisive, widely ignored history of 20th-century stardom.
Considering the five to-scale copper shreds of the Statue of Liberty scattered outside the Art institute of Chicago — a fragment of a heel, an ear, etc. — part of artist Danh Vo's "We the People" project.
Squirming in happy unease through Clint Eastwood's Republican National Convention chat with a chair.
Laughing at the insanely badass (and plainly insane) ending of "The Grey," which concludes with a shot of Liam Neeson strapping broken mini-bar bottles to his knuckles and facing down a giant wolf.
Finding myself between Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall at this summer's Pitchfork Music Festival as both acts, on opposite stages, addressed each other with affection (and Segall ended with a rousing AC/DC cover).
Watching Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" video and finally getting (and liking) her.
Realizing that the elderly woman seated next to me was twisting and fidgeting and ducking low in her chair at Steppenwolf's "Good People," pushed into this by the delightfully painful, class-conscious awkwardness on stage.
Being genuinely surprised by the never-saw-it-coming left turn of Joss Whedon's "The Cabin in the Woods."
Wishing, regardless of whether the theater framework of Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" or the vast overambition of the Wachowskis' "Cloud Atlas" worked for you or not, that more films took go-for-broke chances.
Listening (in a suddenly hushed performance space) as Chicago Reader critic Miles Raymer told an audience during the Hideout's game show "Shame That Tune" about the time he made out with pop singer Ke$ha.
Finally watching "Adventure Time" on Cartoon Network, a kid's show with an underground cartoonist's heart.
Knowing that Jennifer Lawrence had became a big star earlier in the year ("The Hunger Games"), but realizing in "Silver Linings Playbook," as she launches fearlessly at Robert De Niro's character (and De Niro meets her with a small smirk of respect at her gumption), that she was probably a superstar now.
Groaning with hunger throughout Smart Museum of Art's weird, absorbing, unprecedented "Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art," about the little-considered use of meals in art.
Discovering the joy of same-day-as-theaters on-demand video with "Goon," a disarmingly melancholy hockey comedy, and "How to Survive a Plague," a first-rate documentary about pioneering AIDS activists.
Standing mesmerized through Neil Young and Crazy Horse's stomping "Walk Like a Giant" at the United Center, a 20-minute feedback squall that hit on all the classic Young themes, namely regret and dead hippies.
Seeing Oak Park's Cecily Strong, new at "Saturday Night Live" this season from iO Chicago, become a presence on the show in her first at-bat (and her "Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With at a Party" didn't hurt either).
The happy shock of coming across Logan Square's City Lit Books, the city's first significant new bookstore in years.
Speaking of Logan: Sinking into the soft leather lobby couches at the lovingly renovated Logan Square Theater.
Watching the cast of "44 Plays For 44 Presidents" devour an entire loaf of white bread while simultaneously reciting facts about Millard Fillmore during the Neo-Futurists' revival of its 2002 salute to the White House.
Not being sure what to think about the surprising, fourth-wall-breaking ending of David Chase's fantastic feature debut "Not Fade Away," then reminding myself that the creator of "The Sopranos," he knows how to end.