Friday, December 30, 2005

What's One More List?

Alright, folks. Christmas is over and with it goes the Murky Words Yuletide Pep Rally. I know, I know - got just a teensy bit carried away there with all the Christmas cheer. No, I won't offer some lame-ass excuse like "''Tis the Season! *jingle jingle*" to explain my behavior... I just like Christmas, that's all, and had a very good one this year. Here's hoping you did as well.

Now it's New Years Time, and I must confess, I don't like this holiday nearly as much. For one, the Charlie Brown New Years Special is awful. It was released in 1986 when Charlie was - let's face it - well past his prime. He was an old man trying to relive the glory days of his youth - and failing miserably. The voices were terrible, the songs were bad. The plot? Nonexistent. Sad to watch. There WAS a Rudolph special, which I believe was called Rudolph's Shiny New Year, in which he had to search high and low to find the Father Time baby who had been kidnapped (at least I think that's how the story goes.) This was good, but it also smacked of irreverence. Rudolph belongs in Christmastown with Herbie and Yukon Cornelius... not searching the globe looking for a baby with an afro and a top hat. Plus, it was soooo 1970's too, so we have to dock points for that.

But Rudolph & Charlie aside, I find New Years to be a decidedly more mundane holiday than anything else. I guess it's important in the sense that it's something to mark off and refer back to. I often fondly reminisce about the years '96-'99 for instance, but in terms of celebration? Bah. I can do without the crowds, those God-awful horns, and the packed bars/clubs that charge a $30 cover just so you can stand inside and pay more money to drink there. Besides, as a good friend of mine says, New Years Eve is amateur hour out there. Best stay away. Hear Hear. Last year, I hung out in my apartment with some friends and watched movies. As midnight neared, we listened to the people in the apartment building across the street countdown in Spanish and then, as we were absent champagne or other fine beverages of that nature, toasted with tea. Good times and not a toy horn to be heard.

So, do I actually like anything about New Years? Yes indeed. The top 10 lists. I liked them even more before the turn of the millennium when E! Channel and VH1 decided that would be a good time to devote the rest of their programming to nothing but Top 10's. Now, seemingly every media outlet has followed suit. The damn lists are everywhere. History Channel has Top 10 Incan Artifacts that began with the letter 'Q.' Discovery Channel lists the Top 12 disciples that were down with Jesus, featuring never before seen interviews with family and friends. MTV shows the Top 10 greatest albums by Tupac and Biggie recorded and released after their deaths. Oh... sorry... my mistake. There was no such list because they all sucked. You get the point. There's a lot of garbage out there. But do a little sifting, and you can find some good stuff too.

So obviously, with that lead-in, you're expecting me to post a "Top 10 ____ of 2005" list. Pffft. That would take too much effort on my part. I'll meet you half-way though. How about a "Best Of..." list? Better yet, how about a "Best Of..." list which doesn't offer deliberately obscure winners so I can feel like I have some "indie cred?" Good? Good. Here we go.

Best Movie of 2005: Slim Pickin's on this front. Not because there wasn't a lot of good films, but because I barely saw any of 'em. This award was going to go to Heat until I realized that it came out in 1995. Still, the one movie that truly impressed me with its special effects, plot, character development, blah, blah, blah was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It also happens to be the last movie I saw in the theatre and thus, one of the few I can remember. Be forewarned - if you haven't either read some of the books or seen some of the films prior to this, you may feel a little clueless as to what's going on, but if you're familiar with the story? Watch out. Lots and lots of fun from start to finish. The special effects were truly magnificent - as they have been in all four films - but unlike the other three, you didn't have to struggle to feel entertained by this one. I could give a plot synopsis here, but I don't really feel like it. Just go and see it if you're a Harry Potter fan.

Best Book of 2005: Do people still read books? God. What's wrong with us? Sorry - just a bit of projection there. Again, I'm kind of in the same boat as the movie. I read a decent amount... just not a whole lot from this year. Hell, I haven't even read the new Harry Potter yet, although I already know what happens thanks to some jackass who posted the spoiler in a computer technical forum. But yeah - most of my books were paperbacks from previous years, and technical/financial study ups for dummies, etc. So, with that in mind, I'm giving this award to the dictionary. Seriously. No specific brand or publication. Just the dictionary. Use it. It works.

Best Album of 2005: Dammit, I KNEW you were going to ask me this. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. Now I'm on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I've gone from knowing too little about a particular medium to a complete immersion. I listened to TONS of new music this year, and as a result I find myself unable to choose one single album. Well, alright then, seeing as this is my list and I make the rules, you get a bunch of albums... I'll try not to pick two from the same "genre" but I make no guarantees. These were my faves this year:
  • Gorillaz - Demon Days: Big up to the animated band. A fantastic follow up to an excellent debut. In fact, I like this album better than their debut. Lays the funk down, has ridiculous lyrics, track titles, and guest performers (Neneh Cherry, Dennis Hopper and De La Soul anyone?) Always manages to grab you with its simplistic hooks, too. If you missed the multiple tracks I made available for download this year - poo on you.
  • The Clientele - Strange Geometry: I found this album quite by accident. I was browsing through Yahoo Music, or some such thing, looking at New Releases and recommendations (which are usually so far off its laughable) and this popped up. I'm still not sure what to make of it. It sounds like some sort of retro late 60's Brit pop mixed with Oasis mixed with hippie dippie folk music. I can't stop listening to it and I'm not sure why. It's rather unlike me actually. Slow, languid even, yet catchy at the same time. I know - I'm bordering on obscure here. I apologize. But this is good enough. Trust me.
  • Garbage - Bleed Like Me: Good, solid album with three or four excellent tracks. Plus, it features Shirley Manson on lead vocals. I would worship fresh cow dung if it had her name on it.
  • Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Feel The Illinoise!: I'll be honest. I was so ready to hate on this album. It features a man with a pretentious and hard to pronounce first name on an album that's so college radio "nu folk" and adored by twenty-something’s with all weather-scarves and horn-rimmed glasses. First listen? OK - I can stop hating him. Second listen? Holy Shit. How many instruments are playing right now? Third listen? WOW!!!!
  • My Morning Jacket - Z: Not much to say here. I've been skeptical of any band or album with the word "jacket" in the title ever since the mid-80's when Phil Collins unleashed upon us his ludicrous 'No Jacket Required' which features, among others, the big hit Sususususususususususususususussudio. I liked this album though. Quite a bit. I think you will too.
So, there are five. Four of these you will see on virtually every other "Best of..." list out there, but make no mistake. If it doesn't have the Murky Words label, it's not the real thing.

Best Television Show of 2005: Boston Red Sox Baseball on NESN. It was the only thing I watched. Really. I'm sure there are other more deserving. In fact, I KNOW there are. But, I couldn't list them and then lie about having seen them. I just couldn't. Things haven't been the same since they took Northern Exposure off the air... What?!? Oh... screw you. Leave me alone.

Best Blog of 2005: With apologies to Sean, Tim, Korte, Marty, Chris and myself (all of whom receive high honorable mention) the best blog I've seen is none other than Goofus Musings, written by the prolific, yet elusive Jesseanna of New Orleans, LA, Charlottesville, VA, Murf-sumthin, TN, and Honesdale, PA. No one's quite sure where she is writing from with each new post, hence the elusiveness. In fact, I'm not really sure who she is. Back when I started this blog, a friend of mine sent me a link to Goofus Musings with a note that said, "Here - check out my friend's blog. She and I went to college together." I clicked the link expecting boredom. What I saw was some of the finest writing you can get with an Internet connection. Crazy funny (I laugh out loud regularly - which is saying something), superbly written, and always entertaining. Do yourself a favor. Ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out. Then go spread the word and make her famous.

So, at this point, I'm struggling to think of categories for this list. Yeah, I could go with 'Best Car' or 'Best Song' or 'Best Friend', but once you start getting into that much minutiae the list starts to lose a little something....

Oh, O.K. - I'm tired of writing. Fine. But before I go, join me in bidding riddance to 2005 and welcoming 2006 in with a chest bump. I hope your celebrations, wherever they are, are fun-filled and the year to come is prosperous and meaningful. If you're in Boston, let me know and I'll make sure to save some tea for you. Happy New Year, all. Catch ya in the oh six.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best Book - Harry Potter and the HBP or Broken Prey by John Sandford

Best Movie - Harry Potter again - what the hell are you thinking with Heat? I don't care what year it came out it still sucked!

Best CD - X&Y by Coldplay

Best Sports Moment - Patriots win 3rd title! And I predict another one...yes you heard it here first! Screw the Colts.

Biggest Suprise - My wife finally replacing her '93 Escort.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Jesse Anna Bornemann said...

Damnit, Eric...I was all set to wallow in self-pity for the rest of the day, and you've gone and made me smile and blush and stuff. Shucks.

I'm appalled that you overlooked _Cheaper By the Dozen 2_ on your "best movies" list. Steve Martin grimacing and stumbling and being the put-upon-but-loveable dad. Talk about breakthrough cinema...

3:09 PM  

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