Monday, December 29, 2008

Some highs and lows of 2008

Consider this list highly informal, haphazard, and largely unliterary.

BEST BOOKS. My favorite novels this year were probably Tom McCarthy's Remainder (in the lit category) and (in crime, my other big genre) Tana French's excellent In The Woods and The Likeness. In poetry I continued to hopelessly dig Frederick Seidel. In photography, my favorite this year was Jonas Bendiksen's The Places We Live, and in humor I loved Ian Frazier's Lamentations of the Father.

BEST ALBUMS. Honestly? I hardly paid any attention to music this year. I mean, I listened to it a lot, in shuffle mode, and I played a fair amount myself. But I seem to have at last lost the thread of contemporary music. The new records from Radiohead, Steve Malkmus, Vampire Weekend, and Electric President were good, but I didn't memorize entire albums' worth of lyrics as I once did. Alas. Or perhaps not alas, I haven't decided yet.

BEST MOVIE. This year, it was all about The Natural History of the Chicken.

BEST STUFF. Pentax cameras, Canon rangefinder lenses, Eastman 5222-XX film, Ubuntu Linux, the grass-fed steer portion (1/4 of one) that Rhian bought and which we're slowly devouring our way through, goldtop Tokai Love Rock guitar, packing peanuts made from cornstarch, TCHO chocolates, Blacet and Doepfer modular synthesizer products, waxed shoelaces, Cockos Reaper digital audio workstation, Buffalo Trace bourbon, New Balance cross-trainers, Golden Comet chickens, Adobe Lightroom, Tom Thumb 61-key upright piano ($100!), Fage yogurt, Netflix "Watch Instantly."

WORST WORD. The worst word of 2008 is "folks." The presidential campaign has ruined it forever. During one of the debates, Obama actually referred to terrorists as "folks." Et tu, Barack?

BEST MOMENT. Speaking of Obama, I was on the edge of my seat election night along with everyone else, and boy was I happy when he won. But it didn't move me the way I expected it to. That happened a couple of weeks later, at his first press conference as president-elect. The presser was utterly boring. Obama said nothing of substance (at least nothing new), and reporters didn't ask him anything that would have allowed him to show his stuff. But I actually wept. It was so normal, so uncontentious. It reminded me of the old days, when I didn't have to think about how awful the president was day in and day out. I still can't believe Obama is going to be president in a few weeks.

BEST LINGUISTIC PHENOMENON. LOLcats. I shit you not. I don't know why I love the stuff so much, but I do.

OTHER BEST LINGUISTIC PHENOMENON. The introduction of internet slang into actual speech. I have heard about half a dozen people say "teh" this year, and overheard a girl at the mall the other day shout, "EPIC FAIL!" I myself have actually, in lieu of laughing in response to a joke, merely said "lolz."

WORST LINGUISTIC PHENOMENON. The persistence of "Git 'r' done!"

BEST YOUTUBE. One of the most beautiful things I've seen or heard all year:

WORST YOUTUBE. Duh. Swinging baby.

Please feel free to join in, in the comments...


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for the First Aid Kit youtube clip. Really wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, aren't they great? They're a couple of kids from Sweden.

Anonymous said...

Best book:"The Summer Book" by Tove Jansson (through W6's recommendation)

Best album:This is cheating but "Genesis: 1970-1975" box set (stop snickering). Alternately, Boston Specships' "Brown Submarine."

Best stuff:Vinatge Peavey T-40 Bass Guitar

Anonymous said...

Yeah! The Summer Book is great, glad you liked it, and those old Peaveys are awesome. There's a regular guitar version of the T as well. It is said that no rocking, however heavy, can destroy it.

rmellis said...

JR, I don't know what half that stuff is. Come back down to earth!

Yes, The Summer Book is my favorite of 08, too. Also, Amy Shearn's book, and Amy Shearn is up for Favorite New Internet to Real Life friend, and her mom is Best New Internet Mom.

I don't mind about "folks." I hated when Bush used it, because it was a lie, but Obama means it. "People" has a 70's, United Nations, men's-room-icon feel to it, don't you think? "Folks" is all paneled den, dead raccoon in the driveway, mash potato night at the diner. Don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Well, you know me, dear, I'm 1970's United Nations men's room all the way.

amy said...

Oh gosh I just saw this. You guys are definitely the year's best internet friends to real life friends!!
Also, remember how awesome your chickens are??

Mary Graham said...

I am glad someone has joined me in being fed up with "folks" as a synonym for more than one person.
It used to be "folks" meant your parents. And there was always "Folk Art", or of course, "Folk Music".

But then we got the idea, no doubt popularized by advertising types and politicians, of substituting "folks" for "persons" so as to sound less formal or more "folksy"

If you're talking about a bunch of persons sitting on the front porch drinking lemonade (or sitting in a paneled den eating racoon and mashed potoatoes)then "folks" is fine.But it is ridiculous IMHO (whether from the mouth of Obama or Bush or whoever) to talk about "folks doing credit default swaps" or the "String-theory research folks".

It is almost in the same league with calling any male person a "Gentleman". Police often fall into this, as with: "we apprehended the Gentleman and charged him with being intoxicated, public urination and indecent exposure".