Best Of Worst Of
by Nicole Freire
Hello Young Lovers!
photo by Wikipedia
I've always wanted to start a column that way. I'm not sure where the phrase is from, or where I heard it first. It could be a song? Or a book title? Or from a movie?
This is how my mind works. I retain some ridiculously non-important information, and then forget where I put my water glass.
Here's an example. Do you know who appeared on the lowest selling issue of People Magazine? Paul Simon.
Is that really important? Does my brain need to keep track of that small tidbit of information? Probably not, but it does anyway.
Here's another example. If I am at work, I always know where my water glass is, because I bring two giant aluminum water bottles with me and they stand on my desk. Two sentries of water supplies, just in case I'm trapped in the building one day for some extended period of time and the water supply runs out. Then I'm all set.
But if I am at home? Well, that's another kettle of fish. I pour myself a glass of water, drink some and then put it down. Somewhere. Anywhere. And when I want another sip of water? Where is my glass? It could be anywhere, and so I have to pour myself another glass of water.
Once my husband went around the house at the end of the day, collecting all my wayward glasses of water. I think there were six of them.
I never lose my keys though, so I've got that going for me.
Man, this column just started with a long tangent.
Today I'm going to give you some of the best and worst of the year.
It's not going to be all that similar to the ‘best of' and ‘worst of' lists that magazines and newspapers usually put out around this time of year, because we're dealing with my personal lists. Which can be random. And I may have only four ‘best of' choices and eleven ‘worst of' choices. I refuse to be confined to only ten.
I'm not going to cover every single category that could potentially exist, because I don't know (or care) what the best car of the year was. Nor do I have the time or resources to tell you what the best underreported news stories of the year were. Although, when I see that list, I'm always intrigued. Naturally I can't remember where I can find that list. I'll have to Google it later.
Also, I'm not going to stick to things that just happened or appeared during 2009. Books and movie categories will be all over the place.
So! Isn't this exciting? Let's get started.
My Favorite Moments And/Or Favorite Things Of The Year
1) Watching Obama win the presidential election. I cried.
2) My husband getting a job after nearly a year of unemployment.
3) The opening of my father's new library.
4) My 40th birthday trip to Seattle, and watching a ballet performance from the best seats I have ever sat in.
5) Stepping way out from my comfort zone and taking an art class with my mother.
6) Successfully knitting a few scarves.
7) Seeing Al Franken as a United States Senator.
8) Watching my oldest daughter graduate from sixth grade, and successfully making the transition to the world of junior high.
9) Hearing my youngest daughter play the guitar.
11) Getting to write a weekly column. This still blows my mind.
12) New flannel pajamas.
13) Taking refuge in The Daily Show.
14) Seeing the good results of some hard work with my psychiatrist and my therapist.
15) Discovering underwear made from bamboo. (Seriously. They are amazingly comfortable.)
16) Pedicures with my girlfriends.
17) A great work environment, and even better coworkers and supervisors.
18) Receiving help from family and friends during hard times.
19) The existence of the Internet. And Google. What did we do before them?
20) A really satisfying nap.
21) Battlestar Galactica
Things Or Moments That Sucked, Really Sucked Or Were Unpleasant
1) The day my husband lost his job.
2) Sarah Palin.
3) The death of David Foster Wallace.
4) A seemingly endless parade of poor health.
5) Having to borrow money.
6) A series of panic attacks. Oh my, those were awful.
7) Thinking that this time our house might burn down. Pick your local fire.
8) Fox News.
9) Spiteful commenters.
10) Gaining 25 pounds and having to buy a series of bigger pants.
11) Seeing many of my good friends lose their jobs and not being able to constantly keep in touch via email on a daily basis (ok, sometimes on an hourly basis).
12) Turning 40. It was a much bigger shock than I thought it would be.
13) The end of Battlestar Galactica.
14) The death of Mr. Rogers.
15) Vincent D'Onofrio leaving Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Movies I Loved And/Or Movies You Should Definitely See
1) District 9
4) The Hurt Locker
5) Harsh Times
6) The Proposition
7) Dirty Pretty Things
9) Terminator: Salvation
10) Star Trek
11) I've Loved You So Long
13) The Cliburn: Playing on the Edge
14) Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet
15) I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
16) Ghost Town
17) The Lives of Others
18) Duck Season
19) Gran Torino
20) Let the Right One In
21) In Bruges
Movies That Sucked Or Thought I Would Like But I Ended Up Watching Anyway
1) We Own the Night
2) X-Files: I Want to Believe
5) The Dark Knight
TV Shows, Miniseries, And Other Media Stuff I Liked
2) Battlestar Galactica
6) North and South (The BBC one)
7) America's Funniest Home Videos
Stuff I Refuse To Do
1) Start watching ‘Lost', even if the last season is about to start.
2) Stop dyeing my hair
3) Read the News-Press
4) Stop sleeping in on weekends.
5) Upgrade another piece of electronic equipment.
Team Jacob or Team Edward?
Do I need to tell you? Team Edward, all the way.
Let's Talk About Music And Why It's Hard To Recommend
Most magazines and newspapers will also include a music list. This is very difficult for me to do. Music seems much more personal to me. I can recommend a book to a friend and be 80% sure they'll like it. But to recommend a song or an artist? Very dicey proposition.
I will try, however, because I do have some favorites this year. But I'm only going to share two.
Josh Ritter. Amazing singer/songwriter. Kind of folksy without being annoyingly so. And I'm not that folksy. I've got all his albums. And I think he's a little cute.
Here is his wiki page so you know how smart he is:
Here is my favorite Josh Ritter video:
And here is a fantastic live concert that you can listen to online, courtesy of NPR:
Another favorite, also in heavy rotation on my Ipod, is the Australian band, Augie March. Australia is far away, which is the only reason I can think of for them not being as well known here in the US. They also happen to write crazy good lyrics. Twists my brain around. And I usually have to google the lyrics so that I make sure I'm hearing it correctly.
Two great Augie March videos:
Ok, I have one more music related recommendation.
Paste Magazine. You need to subscribe to this because I've never encountered anything quite like it. With every issue you get at least 20 songs by artists that you will never find on the radio, because the radio must play some cut from, ‘The Eagles: Greatest Hits' album once an hour. They used to include a CD, but now you can just download it. They also cover books and movies and other popular culture, and I think, video games, but I don't know why.
Here's the website: www.pastemagazine.com
I don't need to tell you about Pandora.com do I? I thought not.
Best Green Tea
If you've been reading my column even once in a while, you might know that I've had a fixation this year with green tea. Mostly this has involved me searching for one that doesn't taste like grass clippings. There were two this year that made the ‘best of' list.
Yummy but pricey, is the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl green tea. I love to open the can and just smell the tea.
On the cheaper, but still yummy side, we have Stash Tea's Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea. I have this every morning.
Websites I Love
Another high/low category. Some are normal, no-brainers. Most are silly. I check them all almost daily.
Podcasts I Like
This category is mildly embarrassing to me, if only because, while there are some normal ones listed, most of them are comedy related, and not for everyone's taste. And pretty juvenile. But they get me through the day, and that's what is important.
Now Let's Get To The Books
My favorite category. My favorite hobby. You should definitely read these books. These few (hah!) just rocked my world. My reading world, that is. And this list is a bit long, sorry. Oh, and I didn't separate them by fiction and non-fiction. Just threw them all up here.
1) Anything by Andrew Vachss. I just discovered his Burke series. Wild.
2) Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
3) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
4) The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
5) Sandman Slim: A Novel by Richard Kadrey
6) Anything by Carol O'Connell, especially the Mallory books
7) Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
8) Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
9) Columbine by Dave Cullen
10) Bad Cop: New York's Least Likely Police Officer Tell All by Paul Bacon
11) Dark Places and Sharp Objects, both by Gillian Flynn
12) Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
13) Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls by Carol Platt Liebau
14) The Ghost Writer by John Harwood
15) Gutted: Down to the Studs in My House, My Marriage, My Entire Life, by Lawrence LaRose
16) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
17) The Road and No Country for Old Men, both by Cormac McCarthy
18) The Known World by Edward P. Jones (I've given this recommendation before. Read it this time.)
19) The Likeness: A Novel by Tana French
20) Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain
21) The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall
22) Anything by Richard Morgan, but really, just the Takeshi Kovacs ones.
23) The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (this one will make you sick with jealousy if you are a writer, it's that good)
24) The Piano Tuner: A Novel by Daniel Mason
25) Anything by William Gibson. Obviously.
26) Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt
27) Lush Life by Richard Price
28) Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
29) Halting State by Charles Stross
30) The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron
Ok, that was a lot of books. But I never would have remembered them without a fantastic website that was new to me this year. If you read, you must go here: goodreads.com
Well, what did you think? Are you shocked that I liked 2012? I like watching things blow up sometimes. It can be very therapeutic. Do you want to know why I read an entire book about traffic? It was very good, and if you've been born and bred in California, you probably knew how to drive by age five, you just couldn't reach the pedals yet. Do you think it odd that I listen to podcasts where cursing seems to be the main language? You shouldn't.
I hope you've enjoyed these lists. I've had fun going through my bookmarks and remembering events through the year. But PLEASE leave me some of your favorites in the comments. I like to hear what book you think I should read or what movie I must see. Or a fantastic green tea that I haven't tried yet (but you think I should). Don't try to talk me into watching ‘Lost' though -- I am not going to do it.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.