Friday, December 18, 2009

Best-Of List for 2009

We're going to be hit with a plethora of year-end lists over the next couple of weeks, and I am so getting on that train. I love lists and as far as I'm concerned the snarkier the better. Here then is my list of The Best of 2009, with the added bonus of some Best of the Decade nominees:

Best Television Show of the Year: Battlestar Galactica
For four seasons we followed the plight of the RTF (rag-tag fleet) as they fled their obliterated homeworlds and desperately searched for the mythical planet Earth, promised in their sacred scriptures. Relentlessly badgered by the Cylons, a race of robots the humans created and who ultimately turned against them, it seemed they could not catch a break anywhere. How can you battle an enemy who looks like you, talks like you, and to whom death is meaningless? Fact is, you can't, and you have to eventually ally with them and seek some sort of uneasy co-existence. Battlestar was not-to-be-missed television viewing for me, and was an amazing experience.
Runners-up: True Blood, Dexter, Real Time with Bill Maher, Sons of Anarchy

BONUS! Best Television Show of the Decade: Battlestar Galactica

Most Missed Television Program of the Year: The Shield
The Shield ended its six-season run this past spring, and what a run it was. Always gritty and uncompromising, it provided a fearless and unflinching look at the Machiavellian world of conflicted, good-cop/bad-cop Vic Mackey and his team of off-the-radar semi-vigilante detectives, who regularly employed highly illegal and immoral means to promote legality and morality. Backed up by great writing and an incredible cast, it was often hard to watch, as when one of the team deliberately murders another team member, but I could not look away. Awesome storytelling.

BONUS! Most Missed Television Program of the Decade: The Sopranos
This long-running, highly acclaimed HBO drama had everything: batshit-crazy mobsters, murders, mayhem, beatings, one-legged Russian floozies, the Bada Bing strip club, tacky furniture, spoiled screwed-up children, ducklings, baked ziti, lasagna - everything that makes life worthwhile. And for a couple of years HBO had an unbeatable Sunday night line-up of an hour of Sopranos followed by an hour of Six Feet Under, another fantastic show. That was the heyday of HBO and they haven't matched it since.
Runner-Up: Six Feet Under

Best Rock Band of the Year: U2
They could have just rested on their laurels and coasted through an interminable series of nostalgia concerts ("The Dinosaurs of Rock!") but instead U2 never stopped searching for barriers to break and higher goals to seek. They have continually produced relevant, exciting music and their stage shows have pushed the envelope of live entertainment. They are a very rare combination of talent and integrity. Long may they rock.

BONUS! Best Rock Band of the Decade: The Beatles
Decades after the band had broken up and even after losing two of their original members, the Beatles are still as relevant as they have always been. Their astonishing catalog of music defined an entire era and for many boomers, including me, they provided the soundtrack for a large portion of our lives. Now being introduced to an entire new generation of fans, it's easy to see that they will live up to the somewhat-hackneyed prediction that "people will be listening to their music 50 years from now." I really believe that people will.

Most Ingenious Movie Crisis: Angels and Demons
This flick had the Vatican nearly destroyed by antimatter. Brilliant! I am so there!

Most Unexpectedly Good Movie: The Wrestler
I happen to catch The Wrestler on HBO one night. I have never been a fan of Mickey Rourke but I have to say I was very impressed with his portrayal of an over-the-hill wrestler who desperately wants to have a better life but screws up at every turn. Excellent work.

Most Unexpectedly Good Performance: Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent
Everyone was expecting a train wreck of global proportions when a dowdy Scottish spinster and would-be singer named Susan Boyle ambled out on the stage of talent-competition show Britain's Got Talent on April 11, 2009. There was mean-spirited snickering and WTFing aplenty, but basically everyone on the planet was gobsmacked when the voice of an angel came out of her mouth. It was particularly gratifying to see those jaded, cynical judges fall all over themselves praising Boyle. I never get tired of the YouTube video of her performance and often watch it for a little feel-good pick-me-up.

Most Encouraging Socio-Political Trend: The Green Movement
Can it be that people in this country are finally catching up, even a little bit, with people all over the world in realizing the climate change is real, dangerous, and occurring right now? Maybe the message of critical time is getting through; that is, the world is rapidly approaching a tipping point that once it is passed, disastrous climate change will be inevitable. We can only hope the young people in this country will take the lead in spearheading a movement which can only save the planet for their future.

Most Admired Politician of the Year: No one yet.
Time is running out, people, work with me here.

BONUS! Most Admired Politician of the Decade: Al Gore
Al Gore has been a continual beacon of intelligence, sobriety and good sense for the entire decade. Tirelessly advocating for desperately-needed change in global energy policy, his landmark film An Inconvenient Truth laid out a thoughtful, well-reasoned and scientifically-valid argument for how we are laying waste to the only planet we have to live on. Even though he has opened many eyes to the truth, he must feel sometimes like he is a lone voice crying in the wilderness. So many people still adamantly adhere to the idea that global warming is a myth. Will they wake up too late, or not at all?

Most Respected Political Writer: TIE: Jeremy Scahill and Matt Taibbi
Jeremy Scahill is an amazingly intelligent, articulate author ("Blackwater", The Nation magazine) whose appearances on news and talk shows are always very interesting and thought-provoking. Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone magazine) has tackled the monumental problems of the year (financial meltdown, mortgage crisis, health care) and has constantly provided amazingly detailed and well-written analyses. I wish both these writers would be read by every single person in this country who has anything to say about these extremely serious issues.
Runner-Up: Bill Moyers. For being an ordained Baptist minister he is extremely intelligent and always fascinating.

Best Technological Achievement of the Year: Fixing the Hubble Space Telescope
The highly-venerated Hubble orbital telescope, which for years has provided an astonishingly detailed, thoroughly amazing window on our universe was almost abandoned as it far exceeded its intended lifespan and critical repair and maintenance tasks added up. Luckily, due to public outcry, one more servicing mission with the Space Shuttle was made and now Hubble is back better than ever! Perhaps its biggest accomplishment has been to fire up the imagination of many many people here on earth and made them look up to the sky in wonder. Long live the Hubble Space Telescope!

BONUS! Best Technological Achievement of the Decade: HDTV
I still remember the first time I looked at an HDTV at an Ultimate Electronics store. I was amazed and mesmerized by the incredibly detailed, sharp picture. I thought back to the first time I had seen a color TV picture, in a store window in downtown Pittsburgh in the 1960s (it was a baseball game telecast) and thought to myself, I need to get me one of those. After being an HDTV owner since 2002, I am completely and totally hooked on it. HDTV is awesome, and I'm sure that the next-generation 3DTVs that will be arriving soon will be equally mind-blowing.

Favorite Food of the Year: My own recipe of Grilled Chicken marinated in Key Lime Juice and Cajun Spices
OMG! YUM! So easy to make and so tasty, if I do say so myself.

BONUS! Favorite Food of the Decade: Sushi
Edible art. Simple ingredients, but incredibly delicious. Who knew raw fish could be so good?

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