2012: Our year in review


February 19. 2013 11:40PM
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2012 was a year of major change for The Weekender. Within just a few months, the general manager, editor, staff writer, and an account executive all moved on to other employment, leaving many pairs of big shoes to fill. Production Editor Mike Golubiewski and John Popko were the only longtime employees left, and Popko was promoted to general manager in June after almost seven years of hard work.


The team that formed by year‚??s end, however, ended up clicking instantly, forging a bold new creative future for the 20-year-old publication. Before we all look forward to 2013, the staff decided to look back and recall our eventful year at 90 E. Market St. in Wilkes-Barre.


John Popko, General Manager

‚??Aside from me, our staff has completely changed. It‚??s been a very emotional year for me, to say the least. I‚??ve seen co-workers, who I also considered very close friends, move on to different chapters in their lives. It wasn‚??t easy, but I‚??m incredibly happy and excited to be moving forward with the new team that we have in place.


‚??We have a lot in store for you as our readers in 2013.I hope you‚??ll continue to pick up The Weekender and also regularly view our website, which is also new to 2012. Have a blessed, happy, and safe holiday season. Here‚??s to 2013!‚?Ě


Rich Howells, Editor

‚??When I applied for the staff writer position in the fall, I had no idea that I would be named editor just a few months later. I started with the company as the staff writer for Go Lackawanna, so when the former editor of that publication, the multi-talented Chris Hughes, filled in as interim editor at The Weekender, it made the transition almost seamless for me.


‚??He wanted to retain his position as online editor at The Times Leader, however, so after months of searching for a permanent editor, they decided that a potential candidate was sitting right under their noses. I was both thrilled and humbled by the opportunity, one that I only dreamed of as a staving freelance writer only three years ago. This publication has been my life ever since, and I‚??m thankful to have a dedicated staff that works just as hard as I do every day.


‚??If you think you‚??ve seen a shift in our editorial and online content lately, just wait until you see what we have planned for 2013! Some classic Weekender features will be making a big return, some exciting brand new features will be introduced, and we will be embracing multimedia in ways that no other local publication has yet. Stay tuned!‚?Ě


Sara Pokorny, Staff Writer

‚??When I approached my Weekender intern adviser in the spring of 2008 to ask if it was possible to become a full-time writer (a ‚??no,‚?? due to limited space), I had no idea that some four years later I would make my home at the publication.


‚??I also didn‚??t know that such a switch (which happened in November after a two-year stint as a features writer at The Times Leader) would involve an all-out dance party to celebrate my first night laying out an issue, asking people to be photographed in their underwear for our ‚??Sexiest‚?? issue, and quickly finding that my co-workers were not just that, but friends as well.


‚??This team of seven is the end result of many changes throughout 2012, and I‚??m more than honored to be the last piece of the puzzle. Our staff meetings run longer each week, bursting with enthusiasm and fresh ideas that we‚??re diligently working to make a reality for you, our readers.‚?Ě


Amanda Dittmar, Graphic Designer

‚??My journey with the Weekender first started in 2009 as an intern. This past June, I put my big girl panties on to take on the responsibility of full-time graphic designer. I was immediately thrown into photographing the swimsuit issue, which can be intimidating when you‚??re five-foot-Asian.


‚??It seems like these past seven months have passed within the blink of an eye. I was given amazing opportunities, from shooting zombies to Playboy models to asking people to take it off for the ‚??Sexiest‚?? issue. However, I think the highlight of the year was definitely the ‚??Model of the Year‚?? party. Who doesn‚??t get a kick out of seeing a grown man in short shorts with a cucumber in his pants?


‚??I‚??m excited for this upcoming year. I believe that we will grow as a paper and continue providing provocative and intriguing articles to our readers.‚?Ě


Kieran Inglis, Media Consultant

‚??This was definitely one of the fastest years of my life. I started at The Weekender in March and was immediately tossed into our events and constant social presence that we pride ourselves in. The second or third week I was here, we were already at the Scranton St. Patty‚??s Parade making our rounds; John almost fought an old man for cutting me in the bathroom line, but John had been working out, so he backed down.


‚??After that, we had our Readers‚?? Choice Awards, where I had a few too many J√§gerbombs and got on the stage to present and immediately messed up. (That‚??s a botch job!) Our ‚??Model of the Year‚?? party on Oct. 5 was by far the most fun I had all year. It was a big success with great live performances, and, of course, the debonair Rob Nitkowski was named Man of the Year.


‚??The staff had many changes over the course of the year, but regardless of those changes, I was constantly able to voice my opinions as well as creative ideas. The staff we now have has become a solid one. We have pulled off some amazing issues, and it‚??s all due to our constant concern for each other‚??s goals. I haven‚??t been with The Weekender for long, but from my perspective, I feel as though this year may have been one of the most creative and overall entertaining ones yet.‚?Ě


Paul Shaw, Digital Specialist

‚??2012 was a transitional year professionally for me, and when the opportunity presented itself to work with The Weekender, I jumped at the chance. Having collaborated with The Weekender teams over the years through other avenues, I always believed firmly in what The Weekender offers its readers and advertisers each week.


‚??Over the short time I‚??ve been on staff, I‚??ve been privileged to build relationships with some fantastic business owners. There‚??s nothing better for me than helping a business achieve growth and success through creative marketing consulting rather than just selling advertising. With the new tools available, such as mobile apps, website development, and strong promotional campaigns, we can bring so much more to the table.


‚??I‚??ve never had more fun working so hard. With my new co-workers being some of the greatest people I‚??ve ever met, 2013 should be a year of growth for myself, our company, our advertisers, and, most of all, our readers.‚?Ě


Top 5 Events of 2012

By Sara Pokorny, Weekender Staff Writer






1.
The undead shuffle: Sparkly vampires and hunky werewolves got the boot when it came to horror genre trends, thanks in large part to AMC‚??s hit series ‚??The Walking Dead.‚?Ě While conventions for the ‚??geek‚?Ě realm have been held in neighboring large cities, the area got one of its own with late September‚??s Infect Scranton. Infect brought a little something for everyone: a pub crawl, a 5K, panel discussions, vendors, and meet and greets with some popular zombie flicks‚?? shining stars. We can‚??t wait to see what next year‚??s zombiethon brings.



2.
Model mayhem: The Model of the Year party wasn‚??t a first for The Weekender, but it was certainly one of the biggest we‚??ve seen in quite some time. The Model and Man candidates from the year made up only a fraction of the huge crowd that packed the Woodlands on an October night. Rob Nitkowski and Dominique Kozuch came out on top, amid a night of local entertainment, delicious drinks, and a whole lot of dancing.



3.
Concert firsts: There were some incredible acts that came through local venues throughout the year, but two of the most notable were the Peach Festival, a first for Montage Mountain, and the 3D Primus concert at the F.M. Kirby Center. The Allman Brothers band played host to the inaugural Peach Festival, a two-stage event that touted acts like the Zac Brown Band, Dark Star Orchestra, and local favorites Cabinet and Miz. Rock band Primus performed with a 3D backdrop screen and quadraphonic sound system to create what bassist Les Claypool called ‚??a really trippy‚?Ě experience for fans.



4.
Filthy femmes: Never has the area been so abuzz about a physically challenging event. The Dirty Girl Mud Run made a (grimy) splash in May as locals formed teams to race through obstacles with names like ‚??H2 Oh My God‚?Ě and ‚??Utopian Tubes.‚?Ě Not only was it a blast to behold and be a part of, a portion of the proceeds were donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.



5.
Get your ice cold beer, here: Our area has many ties to the brewing industry, and this year yet another came about. Susquehanna Brewing Company rolled out its first batches of brew in late May, a Pittston-based operation with 55,000 square feet that houses a unique brewing system. ‚??SBC‚?Ě is now part of the area‚??s vernacular, a company whose presence has been strongly felt since the first Goldencold Lager hit the local taps.


Top 5 Best Books of 2012

By Sara Pokorny, Weekender Staff Writer



1. ‚??50 Shades of Grey‚?Ě by E.L. James: Though it was published in 2011 (and though this pick goes way against the better judgment of the person doing the picking), it is absolutely no secret that this erotic trilogy made the biggest literary splash this year. The raunchy, light read was a hit with women all over the nation and the men who were eager to see just what they were all salivating about.



2. ‚??Gone Girl‚?Ě by Gillian Flynn: Who‚??s not familiar with the tale of a marriage gone terribly wrong? Flynn brings the high suspense in this novel, a thrilling tale of possible murder, lies, and deceit.



3. ‚??Divergent‚?Ě and ‚??Insurgent‚?Ě by Veronica Roth: Fans of Suzanne Collins‚?? ‚??Hunger Games‚?Ě trilogy will absolutely eat these books up. Though the story is familiar (post-apocalyptic world, different factions of society, the act of being ‚??chosen‚?Ě for something), Roth puts her own spin on things and weaves a tale with twists and turns to keep the plot noteworthy and hot on Katniss Everdeen‚??s heels.



4. ‚??The Fault in Our Stars‚?Ě by John Green: This story of 13-year-old Hazel, diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer, is one that calls for tissues ‚?? lots and lots of them. It‚??s a touching and beautifully written tale of a young girl‚??s journey through a precarious life and the way in which she views her world.



5. ‚??No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden‚?Ě by Mark Owen: People have been waiting to hear the ins and outs of this story, and they got their wish through this book written by a former member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group who participated in one of our country‚??s most celebrated missions.


Top 5 Best Albums of 2012


1. ‚??Babel‚?Ě by Mumford & Sons: ‚??Babel‚?Ě took M&S to the next level without changing too much ‚?? which is hard to master on a sophomore album. There are times when the songs are as arena rock as U2 and as unpredictable as Skrillex. It also shows rock bands can still hit number one in 2012.



2. ‚??What We Saw from the Cheap Seats‚?Ě by Regina Spektor: This could have been higher if it didn‚??t clock in at under 40 minutes. Spektor has perfected her songwriting and has found a way to make her songs stick in the listener‚??s head long after it‚??s finished playing.



3. ‚??Southern Air‚?Ě by Yellowcard: This was the album fans have been waiting for since the group‚??s reformation. Perhaps the most complete record of 2012, it‚??s a veteran act that put on a songwriting clinic.



4. ‚??Resplendent Indignity‚?Ě by Graces Downfall: In a time when local acts are struggling to find gigs, Graces Downfall have put together a solid collection of original tunes and topped the local charts while doing it. ‚??Indignity‚?Ě displays great lyrical chops and has produced some radio-ready rock hits.



5. ‚??Uno! Dos! Tre!‚?Ě by Green Day: The 25-year-old band finally returned from operas and Broadway plays to true punk rock form in 2012. It‚??s a triple LP release of songs that sound like they could be fan favorites from the ‚??Dookie‚?Ě era.


Top 5 Best Movies of 2012

By Pete Croatto, Weekender Correspondent



1. ‚??Compliance:‚?Ě Craig Zobel‚??s drama (based on real events) about a prank call gone horribly wrong had detractors. Maybe it was because Zobel revealed that our eagerness to please and respect authority is a weapon of frightening power. That‚??s not something everyone wants to hear.



2. ‚??Take This Waltz:‚?Ě A gut punch. A mix of love story and Greek tragedy, it‚??s indisputable proof that Michelle Williams is working on a higher level than her contemporaries. Even as Sarah Polley‚??s movie breaks your heart into a million pieces, you cannot look away.



3. ‚??Moonrise Kingdom:‚?Ě Wes Anderson has created a vivid storybook world that contains a sweet, hilarious ode to adolescence. Do you remember how we sensed drama behind every gesture? That the world seemed so big and so small?



4. ‚??Django Unchained:‚?Ě I took a self-imposed break from Quentin Tarantino after the ‚??Kill Bill‚?Ě films. I‚??m glad I got reacquainted. He‚??s finally back to being the wild boy genius with a chemistry set and no parental supervision.



5. ‚??Sister:‚?Ě A responsible boy, who steals from a Swiss ski resort to pay the bills, and his irresponsible older sister, who disappears for days into the abyss of good times, reach a stalemate: neither can provide what the other one wants. Told with poetry and nuance by director Ursula Meier.


Top 5 Worst Movies of 2012

By Mike Sullivan, Weekender Correspondent



1. ‚??Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:‚?Ě It takes a special kind of incompetent to somehow make the sight of a vampire throwing a horse at the sixteenth president of the United States in slow motion incredibly dull and uninteresting.



2. ‚??Ted:‚?Ě Sitting through ‚??Ted‚?Ě was almost as bad as that time Seth McFarlane took ‚??The Simpsons‚?Ě and the random contents of Spencer‚??s Gifts and turned it into ‚??Family Guy.‚?Ě



3. ‚??Silver Linings Playbook:‚?Ě Yes, David O‚??Russell has made some truly outstanding films, but ‚??Silver Linings Playbook‚?Ě isn‚??t one of them. Consider this pandering, middle-brow annoyance your punishment for ignoring ‚??I Heart Huckabees,‚?Ě America.



4. ‚??Mirror, Mirror:‚?Ě Oppressive in its cutesiness. Experiencing this movie was like being slowly smothered to death with a giant marshmallow by a kitten in a teacup as Zooey Deschanel drowns out your screams by strumming ‚??Dream a Little Dream‚?Ě on the ukulele.



5. ‚??Prometheus:‚?Ě Prometheus was basically the Jessica Alba of movies. It was pretty to look at but kind of empty and unfathomably stupid.


Top 5 Best Video Games of 2012


1. ‚??Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning‚?Ě (PS3, Xbox 360, PC): Despite all the legal battles this game had, and the sad story of what happened to the developer, ‚??Kingdoms of Amalur‚?Ě was one the best new IPs I have played in quite some time. This game had a huge, in-depth story; an interesting RPG progression system; gorgeous, hand-drawn looking graphics; and great fighting mechanics. This game was created by a dream team of developers, and it really shows. If you haven‚??t played this and you like RPG games, this is a must own.



2. ‚??Assassin‚??s Creed 3‚?Ě (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC): The newest game in the series is also the biggest. Set during the American Revolution, this game has one of the biggest and most interesting settings in a game I have ever played. The graphics are breathtaking, the story is amazing, and the gameplay is the best out of one of my favorite series.



3. ‚??The Walking Dead‚?Ě (PSN, XBLA, PC, IOS, Android): I don‚??t know if it was having to wait for each episode to come out or if the story was just that good, but I was so excited about each entry. It‚??s based on the comic book of the same name and was an emotional rollercoaster. Each scene was compelling and had some really tough choices; each choice you make changes the story in dramatic ways. If you didn‚??t tear up at the end, you may be a zombie. With its hand-drawn graphics and its story, this is the quality downloadable games should reach for. This is by far the best downloadable game of the year.



4. ‚??Far Cry 3‚?Ě (PS3, Xbox 360, PC): My favorite shooter of the year. It has a huge open world, way too many things you can do and explore, gorgeous environments and graphics, and one of the craziest stories I have seen in a game in a while. Not a great multiplayer game, but it has the best first player campaign of any FPS game I have ever played.



5. LittleBigPlanet (PS Vita): ‚??LBP‚?Ě is a cute and quirky platform game. The story is hilarious, and the level design is genius. What makes this game special is it has creation tools where you can make your own game and submit it for others to play. This essentially creates a free app store on the PS Vita, so for a low price, you can have a game you can play forever.



Honorable Mention: ‚??Dishonored‚?Ě (PS3, Xbox 360, PC): ‚??Dishonored‚?Ě is a new IP that came out in a year almost dominated by sequels. This game take the FPS and stealth game genres and turns them on their heads with cool powers, interesting environments, gorgeous graphics, and a morality system that changes the game in fun ways. ‚??Dishonored‚?Ě was one of the most interesting new experiences I had this year.




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