Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Picks of the Year: 2018

Two dates hang over us separated by a hyphen. Our year of birth and our year of death. It is on the hyphen is where all the fun happens. Congratulations to everyone reading this. The date after the hyphen will at least be 2019, hopefully much higher.

2018 was a pretty shitty year in regards to history. The stock market has been a roller coaster ride, our president has been as bad as ever, school shootings are still plentiful and our environmental problems are escalating, but it is was still a pretty good year for me and my immediate family.

In March, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and had a group of friends and family over for a bonfire. In October, we took a trip to Boston to see the Red Sox play the first playoff game of the season and they not only won the game we attended, but they won the World Series, fourth time in the 21st century.

We lost our electricity for three days in November and we are currently without a fridge (for two weeks now). A new one is delivered on Thursday morning. 

Favorite Trip:
We had our first tropical vacation this year with a week in the Dominican Republic. A resort vacations are not our style, but it was incredibly relaxing. I'm not sure if I will ever go to resort again, but I enjoyed it. Staying one place during a vacation and not exploring isn't exactly what I am used to nor to my liking. 

We also had road trips to Kansas City to see the Red Sox with a stop in Chicago to see my wife's family and the Cubs. We went to Clearwater, Florida for a week with visits to Virginia and Baltimore to see friends. I had a business trip to Vegas which I hate and we went into Boston to see the Sox a couple of times. 

Best New Podcast:

I discovered a handful of new pod casts this year: 

  • Retropod - a short history podcast by Washington Post
  • The Indicator by Planet Money - a short economic podcast where they dissect a number                                                      from the economy
  • This Song - a radio station out of Austin TX, KUTX, talks to musicians about a song that                                                     inspired them. 
  • By the Book - these two woman read a self help book and for a month live by it. It is very                                                     funny. 
  • Pod Dylan - One Bob Dylan song is dissected
  • The Great Albums - One great rock album is dissected. 
  • Everything Is Alive - an interview with an inanimate object. 
Everything Is Alive is my favorite new podcast. It is put out by producers of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. It is hysterical. They usually have comedians playing the objects. They interview a lamppost, a subway seat, a grain of sand, an elevator etc. 

Best Book I read this year:

I read the following books this year:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates (audio book)
Lamb: The Gospel According to BIff, Christ's Childhood Pal - Christopher Moore
Because They Wanted To - Mary Gaitskill
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Bachman
Grunt by Mary Roach
The Rising Plague by Brad Spellberg
A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving (reread)
Var the Stick by Piers Anthony
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (currently reading)

I didn't meet my goal of twelve books. Lamb was probably my favorite. Not often does a book make me laugh out loud. His writing reminded me of Tom Robbins. 

Favorite Movie I Saw in a Theater: 

I saw the following movies in the theater this year

Vice, Boy Erased, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Crazy Rich Asians, Won't You Be My Neighbor, Sorry to Bother You, RBG, Deadpool II, Avengers: Infinity War, The Post and BlackKKlansman. 

The Avengers movie might be my favorite in that I don't think I've ever been as shocked as I was by the ending. Overall, it was not a great year for movies.

Favorite new TV show: 
My wife and I just started rewatching ER from the very beginning on Hulu. We are pleasantly surprised how much the show holds up. We tried to watch St. Elsewhere and it didn't hold up at all. We are on season 2 of ER now and plan on bingeing all the way to the end. Maybe we'll finish by the end of 2019. 

In the meantime, I discovered a lot of new shows in 2018.  

Among them are:  Big Mouth, Star Trek: Discovery, The Marvelous Mrs Maizel, Homecoming, Jack Ryan, The Haunting of Hill House, Goliath, Humans, American Gods, The Rain, Safe, Disenchantment, Bodyguard, Ken Burns' Vietnam, Maniac, The Sinner, The Secret City, Collateral, Lost in Space, Requiem, Seven Seconds, The End of the Fucking World, Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams, Absentia, Victoria and Fleabag. 

Hands down, my favorite is The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel on Amazon. A Jewish housewife in 1950's NYC delves into stand up comedy. It is a treat for fans of comedy, history and drama. Big Mouth on Netflix is probably my second favorite, cringe-worthy, but fantastic comedy.

Favorite Albums:

I bought seven albums/CDs from 2018. I went fairly mellow this year. My favorite has to be John Prine's "The Tree of Forgiveness."  Yes, John Prine is still alive and putting out some of his best music. His lyrics are as witty and poignant as ever. 

Here are the albums:
"Secularia" by Eliza Gilkyson
"Free Yourself Up" by Lake Street Dive
"Everyday Life, Everyday People" by Slightly Stoopid
"The Deconstruction" by Eels
"By the Way, I Forgive You" by Brandi Carlile 
"All the Things That I Did, All the Things I Didn't Do" by Milk Carton Kids
"The Tree of Forgiveness" by John Prine

Favorite Songs:

I have 247 MP3 songs from 2018. Below is a list of some of my favorites. If I have to pick a favorite, which is difficult, I have to pick "Fire Drills" by Dessa. I don't often pick a hip-hop songs as the best but this one is truly great. I might have to go back to 2005 when I last picked a hip-hop song with Mood Ruff's "Rocketship."  

Favorite new songs of the year.
"Bloodless" Andrew Bird
"The Mother" Brandi Carlile
"Under the Wheels" Calexico
"My Old Man" Chuck Auerbach
"Crack the Case" Dawes
"On and On" Dead Horses
"Fire Drills" Dessa
"The Deconstruction" and "Rusty Pipes" The Eels
"Egg & Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)" John Prine
"Summer's End" John Prine
"Beverly" Low Cut Connie
"Hey Mama" Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
"Baby Don't Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts" Lake Street Dive
"Hell-on" Neko Case
"Desire" Ought
"One More Night" Slightly Stoopid
"Choosing Sides" Benjamin Lazar Davis
"Wild" Molly Burch
"Things I Learned" Motel Mirrors
"Glass Jar" Tristen
"Your Dog" Soccer Mommy
"Lay Low" Gretchen Peters

Enjoy 2019. I'll be here. 

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