Lizzy Caston and I were to write a mode d’emploi for air travel in this day and age of the ever-orange threat advisory. A sample: Lady, please do your best not to wear four-inch-heeled slouch boots and every metal ring and bracelet in your collection before entering airport security. The grimace on your face as you hobble about like a startled flamingo while trying to yank that thing of your foot amuses no one and only makes us standing in line behind you at 6AM want to push you down and carry on. Ok, it wasn’t going to be snide and actually more polite and helpful, honest. Given recent explosive and “explosive” events and evolving TSA guidelines, however, Lizzy and I are going to have to sit on a few more flights, visiting a few more airports in the process, before we can pen anything useful.
Lists it is, then. Best of decade (never mind that the new decade technically does not start until January 1, 2011) and best of year lists. Ranking things is not my cup of tea; all of my top five movies rate about the same. But what motivates others’ sort algorithms and makes their #1? Let’s see. As always, please add to the discussion and feel free to list your favorite lists in the Comments section.
TECHNOLOGY – Since my Precious iPhone has not been more than arm’s length away at any given moment this year, to the point that my husband thinks I need to “tweetox,” it seems only fitting to start with Wired’s 20 Favorite iPhone Apps of 2009. Productivity is king, followed by games, travel and hobbies. Am I supposed to be embarrassed that I’ve downloaded only 2 of the 20 – Runkeeper and RedLaser – or proud to have gone this long without spending money on some of these not-free apps? $5 for Instapaper when I can simply Safari over to reader.google.com?! I think not. What are some of your favorite apps and why?
MORE TECHNOLOGY – The Real-Time Web is all that excites me in this list of 2009’s disruptive technology. Augmented Reality has potential but, in my opinion, isn’t ubiquitous enough to have made a difference yet. Google Voice and Wave haven’t shown me their value this year, either. What do you think? PC World’s list of the 10 disruptors of the last quarter century rings truer even today – I highly recommend this read.
MOVIES and technology – Roger Ebert is a rockstar. Here’s a man who can find a great movie in a stinking haystack, commit to his picks and explain patiently to you why. Ebert’s on Twitter, where he points us to all four of his Best Films of 2009 lists.
Aside from watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Matrix trilogy, Harry Potter saga and a handful of pop and arthouse films in the theatre this decade, I have to admit that D and I are not the best cinema-goers, preferring to watch DVDs in the comfort of our home (Netflix – now there’s a decadal gamechanger mentioned little), and even that has fallen by the wayside. But along comes streaming video, the Creative Commons (also one of the best concepts given form in the 2000s) and the notion of simply putting your art out there, the studios be damned, and you get beautiful genius like Nina Paley’s Sita Sings The Blues, which has been around a lot longer than you think. Whether a movie has live actors or animated ones, the most important thing about it is the story. To paraphrase my dear, departed 3D Arts professor, George Cramer, all the visual effects dreamt of in Hollywood cannot polish a turd of a story. This is why I am not likely to watch Avatar and recommend Monsters, Inc. instead. Excellent story + well-animated fur = WIN.
MUSIC and technology – NPR’s The Decade’s 50 Most Important Recordings Between YouTube and downloadable MP3s, my music collection grew and grew up in leaps and bounds this decade. Ignoring the current obsession with emo-hipster bands, pop divas and American Idol ingenues, there was some real good stuff: Radiohead’s Kid A and self-released In Rainbows, Kanye West’s College Dropout, Madeleine Peyroux’s Careless Love, The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, The New Orleans Bingo! Show’s For A Life Ever Bright, Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, Sasha’s Airdrawndagger, DJ Krush’s Jaku and OutKast’s Stankonia. Coolest music videos of the decade: Ok Go’s On Treadmills, Clint Maedgen’s It’s A Complicated Life and Empire Of The Sun’s We Are The People. Alright, folks, tell me what I missed and why.
BOOKS and technology – Forget the Kindle and nook. And forget those who tell you this carefully-planned obsolescence is going to change the nature of reading. Find a light laptop and/or smartphone you’re comfortable with, do actual work with it and download books to it. A book is not an exotic bird to be placed in the gilded cage of DRM, but something to be owned, shared and, most importantly, read many times on any platform. I’m against the iTunes model of book consumption – fit the media to the unique delivery mechanism – and publishing companies’ constant war on the public domain. Hooray for copyfight and folks like Cory Doctorow who have the balls to self-publish quality literature. True defenders of freedom will enjoy and be inspired by his Little Brother.
The Times Online’s 100 Best Books of the Decade. If you’re going to read only one of them, make it Junot Diaz’s The Brief, Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao. What a book. A Dungeons&Dragons-playing Dominican-American college student, the gut-punching dialogue and relationships, the history, the profanity oh the succulent profanity, the future. What a book. Your best read?
SPORTS – An NFL junkie, my most important moment in sports was the New Orleans Saints’ 2006 return to the Superdome after the Flood and Tom Benson’s near treachery. Granted, it contained no triumph of athleticism, but you’d think it rates (sorry, brimmy, but the Patriots-Brady-NFL-ESPN lovefest is getting old). Again, is there another such moment in the 00s that I should be aware of? Please comment away. Lastly, for the record, I am very pleased with my quarterback and Athenae‘s imaginary boyfriend, Aaron Rodgers. His stats this season show that the team made the right decision and everyone else should shut it.
TELEVISION – When Babylon 5 ended in 1998, I despaired. This is why God invented Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Rescue Me and Futurama. After Lando Calrissian and Kosh, the outstretched arms and biting sarcasm of Bender and Tommy Gavin beckoned. After Katrina and the Flood, the confused innards of Al Swearengen’s Deadwood, Adama and Starbuck made all too much sense. The Onion AV Club’s Best TV Series Of The 00’s nails it.
LIST TO IGNORE – Ten Stories that Changed Our Lives This Decade: #10 Katrina. #9 Brett Favre. Delete. Any list that places Favre, whose family was very much affected by the hurricane, over the suffering of people goes right out the window.
THE WEIRD AND CHEESEHEADY, ‘cuz that’s how we roll – 2009 in Review: Top Weird Stories From Wisconsin: “A 37-year-old Fond du Lac man went to a motel room for what he thought was going to be a romantic tryst but instead was assaulted by four women who used Krazy Glue to attach his privates to his stomach. Police say it was all part of a bizarre plot to punish him for a lover’s quadrangle gone bad.” Hey, we gave you Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer. Enough said.
ROUNDUP – I’m a sucker for New York Times graphics. Philip Niemeyer pictures the past 10 years in a neat little 12×10 matrix. The word “truthiness” gained popularity around the same time as Katrina/Federal Flood (they used a flood graphic and not a counterclockwise spinny one, phew). 2008’s maverick was Ron Paul and not John McCain – can’t keep pulling out the same old shtick every four years. I often wonder what happened to 2008’s ardent house flippers. Hmmm, Brownie was a Bushie term of endearment in 2004 but “tsunami” wasn’t big until 2006? I really like the evolution of key nouns and verbs across the decade. Would you have done this graphic differently?
Thus, 2009 comes to an end. The ox gives way to the tiger. Here’s wishing all of you a safe rest of the year and a great 2010 filled with pleasant surprises and many new buzzwords to learn. Peace.