Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year-End List of Lists

It's been a while since I've done a "list of random favorite things" post, and since this is the time of year when everyone seems to be publishing their "best of" lists, I thought it'd be a good excuse as any to talk about my favorite things from the past year.

Favorite TV Shows:  When I started writing this post, I realized I probably watch way too much TV.  However, in my defense, I think it's because what TV has to offer right now is so much better than any feature film.  The writing, the characters and the production quality on television shows for 2008 (and for the last couple years) has been, for the most part, superior to anything released in the theaters.  This year I enjoyed new seasons of Eli Stone (lawyer gets visions from God), Burn Notice (I still think Michael Weston could kick Jack Bauer's butt), Monk (the obsessive compulsive detective), and Psych (fake psychic solves crimes).  Scrubs and The Office continued to provide laughs.  Initially, I thought this season of Dexter might have jumped the shark, but I was wrong.  It slowly ratcheted up the tension until I could hardly stand it... love that show!  I also discovered two new shows. The Cleaner is based on a true-life story of a man who literally rescues people from their drug addictions.  It's gritty, touching and also includes a realistic portrayal of a loving couple, trying to make their marriage work, instead of resorting to divorce.  Writer/Director J.J. Abrams is single-handedly consuming all my free-time.  First it was LOST, and now it's my newest addiction, Fringe.  It's like a newer version of X-Files, only much much better (and I liked X-Files).  But still, my favorite show, hands-down, continues to be LOST, with "The Constant" being my favorite episode. Words cannot describe the moment when Penny picked up the phone on Christmas Eve and Desmond declares, "Penny answered!" I'm getting all teary-eyed right now, just thinking about it...  Click on the "television" label at the end of this post, to read my other, more detailed discussions about these shows.

Favorite Movies:  As I stated previously, I think cinema is currently in a sad state of affairs.  The offerings are lacking in intelligent plot, and provide nothing but loads of base humor, and/or seem to cater to the lowest IQ in the room.  Combine that, with my rant about the de-evolution of the movie going experience, with the advances in home theater systems, and I honestly don't know if I'll be going to the movies at all next year.  I don't mean to be a curmudgeon.  I love movies, and there were a few diamonds in the rough.  I enjoyed Cloverfield (J.J. Abrams  again - providing all my entertainment), In Bruges (the morality and consequences of being a British gangster), I Am Legend (the novella was better), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (not what I expected it to be, but rather much more), Ghost Town (Ricky Gervais doing a humorous version of The Sixth Sense) and Wall-E (gotta love Pixar).  Of course, I loved the two blockbusters of the year - the Dark Knight and Iron Man.  I'm a sucker for superhero/comic book movies and I love Robert Downey Jr.  Speaking of comic book based movies, I really enjoyed Hell Boy II: The Golden Army, but I'm partial to anything Guillermo Del Toro does.  However, my favorite film 0f 2009, without question, was an independent film called The Fall.  It is a beautiful, surreal fairy tale starring a captivating young girl and a great lead actor (Lee Pace, star of the TV show Pushing Daisies).  Click on the "movies" label at the bottom of this post to go to my specific blog article on the movie.

Favorite Books: As a reader and lover of books, I had a good year.  I had made a goal to read more books in 2008 and I think I accomplished it.  I read about a book a month, sometimes more.  All of them were enjoyable to some extent, but the one that still makes me smile whenever I think about it is Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.  The collection of short stories called 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill was so enjoyable, I'm contemplating re-reading it.  I also enjoyed Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman and fell in love with the world Clive Barker created in Abarat.  I signed up for my first comic book subscription and was highly entertained by The Umbrella Academy written by Gerard Way and drawn by Gabriel Ba.  My favorite book of the year was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  I don't know what was more fun: reading it myself or listening/watching to Gaiman read it in video podcasts online.  I'll be writing a full article on this book soon.  Again, feel free to click on the "literature" label at the bottom of this post to get my detailed discussions and reviews about these works.

Favorite Music: I actually didn't buy that much new music this year. The musical genres that I tend to gravitate towards didn't really have any good releases.  I enjoyed The Raconteurs second album "Consolers of the Lonely" and was impressed with David Cook's post-American Idol release.  I received the All-American Rejects new CD, "When the World Comes Down" for Christmas, and it didn't disappoint.  They are one solid rock band and can always be counted on for some good straight-up power-pop-rock.  I will admit though, in 2008, I spend the majority of my time obsessively listening to one CD in particular, to the point where I thought I was going to wear it out - "You're Awful, I Love You" by Ludo.  They are, without a doubt, my new favorite band.

Favorite Moments:  I hope you enjoyed my quick stroll through the artistic media that I encountered in 2008.  I feel passionately about the arts (thus my discussion of them on this blog).  However, they are not the most important elements from my year, but rather time spent with friends, time spent worshiping God and studying his word, time with my husband - these are the things that matter.  This past year, I saw several friends move away (that definitely wasn't a favorite moment), but I got to visit with a couple of sets of friends when they came in town for a visit, which was a real treat.  I saw prayers answered and a baby healed.  One of my favorite moments was laughing on a road trip with my mom and brother.  I went to a writer's seminar, helped edit a book for a friend, made some new friends, joined a book club, helped put on a ladies Bible retreat, assisted with our church's Sunday morning Bible class for pre-K kids, assisted with the Christmas drama program, started a Care Ministry and - oh yeah - went to work every day.  Whew!  No wonder I feel so tired!   I think I'm going to start out 2009 with a nap!

Many thanks to you, my Loyal Readers, for following my blog and leaving comments.  My goals for 2009 are the same - read, write and draw more.  I think I was better about posting regularly on the blog, and hope to be even more consistent in 2009.  For now though, I leave you with this New Year's wish - a quote from one of my favorite authors...

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." -- Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let's get LOST! (Season 5 Cast Photo)

Just a quick post to share the LOST Season 5 cast photo with everyone. Season 4 of LOST was released on DVD yesterday, and I was very excited when I got home, to see that Amazon had delivered our copy on our doorstep. The husband and I re-watched the first episode of Season 4 in glorious blu-ray, and couldn't believe how crazy the first show was! It started out with a bang and kept it up through the whole season. But let's speculate about Season 5 and this photo (if you click on the photo, it will show you a larger version). I like how they combined the jungle/island theme with the city/civilization theme for the photo shoot, since we will probably be spending equal time in both areas, now that our cast is separated. Shall we start obsessing now about who is or isn't in the photo? Jin isn't there and neither is Aaron or Claire. Is there a reason Sun is in the middle of the shot? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. I can't wait for January 21st!