Friday, January 08, 2010

TSH 2009 Year In Review - The New Year's Blog!

Just before I started pecking away at my New Year's blog, I realized that we are stepping into a new decade, and perhaps a decade in review blog would be more appropriate than a year in review piece. It then struck me that writing that sort of thing would be rather long and tedious, and I am far too lazy and lacking the proper motivation for that sort of undertaking. It takes me forever to write about what happened last week, let alone the last 10 years. I could have lied to you and wormed my way out of the whole mess with some quasi-scholarly wonking about how when our AD/BC system was set up, the concept of "0" wasn't well recognized in Europe, so they started with the famous "year one" - but that tripe is not set in stone, as 1980 to 1989 was considered a decade, and most scholars view the first decade of a new century as running from 01 to 10.

Anyway, I'm pretty much avoiding a decade in review article on principle, as I generally find them bizarre and pointless, and again, that whole unmotivated/lazy thing comes into play. Now, I realize my New Year's blog is one of the most anticipated articles I write every year, and after the overwhelming response to my "Enemy at the Gates" piece, I thought I might get out of writing it altogether, but my editor, the lovely Mrs Leger, starting shaking a bag off M&M's, saying "You can do it Joe, you can do it!" So, enticed by the prospect of M&M's, I got right to it, only to realize that she didn't have any M&M's at all - she was just putting her hand over her mouth and going "chika chika chika" and I was too dumb to look - friggin' infidel. Anyway, let's get on with it.

Worst Decision of the Year - The election of President Barack Obama

How are you liking your hope and change? Americans had a choice between a decorated War Hero with 30 years of experience in both the House and the Senate or a slickster from Chicago who barely served two years in the senate and whose closest friends and advisers range from convicted criminals to a guy who bombed a Police Department, The Pentagon, and The United States Capitol building. Sounds like a no-brainer, but somehow Americans didn't vote for the seasoned politician with a reputation for reaching across the aisle and compromise. They threw away their vote for some guy who had nothing to say but "Yes We Can" and "We are the ones we've been waiting for". What the hell does that even mean? Now Americans are getting hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending and taxes, a massive and unworkable health care bill no one asked for or likes, and an attempted terrorist attack that almost killed 260 Americans. How do you like that change?

(yeah yeah, he was elected in November of 2008, but it can take months before the symptoms of herpes show up too...not that I would know anything about that. )

Best Article of the Year - Fossil Future by Jonah Goldberg

The cover story of the July 6th issue of National Review by Jonah Goldberg, "The Beauty of Drilling from an Oil Platform - Fossil Future", was a fascinating and humorous first-hand account of Goldberg's time aboard a drilling platform that dispelled many myths about this plentiful and largely untapped resource.

Worst Movie of the Year - Avatar.

Haven't even seen it and have no intention of doing so. I don't care how pretty it's supposed to look. I'm not going to waste three hours of my life watching some condescending enviro-lecture by James Cameron. Yeah I get it James - humans are mean, nasty and evil and will no doubt one day be massacring emaciated smurfs on far away planets. Maybe someday I'll see it after falling into a quasi-vegetative state during a spelunking accident and someone will slip it into the DVD player at the special care home I'll soon be living in.

Most Disappointing Movie of the Year (with a few caveats) - Inglorious Basterds

2009 was a terrible year for movies, but a great year for performances within those terrible movies. The best example is Inglorious Basterds, another over-rated, over-hyped piece of nonsense from the ever declining talents of Quentin Tarantino. However, a virtually unknown Austrian named Christoph Waltz as "The Jew Hunter" Standartenf├╝hrer Hans Landa gave us one of the most memorable acting performances in recent memory. The opening sequence of the film, as well as the bar scene with British actor Michael Fassbender as Lt. Archie Hicox, are cinematic perfection in an otherwise campy and unremarkable film. There were, however, some films of note that are worth renting on Beta cassette, Stingray, or whatever the kids are calling those movie playing thingies these days.

Best Movies of the Year

1 - The Hurt Locker - An unrelenting, pulse pounding action movie about a bomb disposal unit in serving in Iraq.

2 - Sunshine Cleaning - From the makers of Little Miss Sunshine comes another darkly comic and touching film, quirky and human with a wonderful script by Megan Holley.

3 - Is Anybody There? - Michael Caine and the talented young child actor Bill Milner explore questions of death and redemption. The film never quite seems to be able to smoothly gel the competing plot lines, but it's worth seeing.

4 - Dead Snow - What happens when a group of German medical students pick the wrong cabin for a winter weekend vacation? A delightfully fun spoof of conventional horror films that involves a gruesome attack at the hands of an army of Nazi zombies. Good fun, but not for the squeamish.

5 - A Christmas Carol - In a year filled with duds, the one movie I avoided seeing until the bitter end turned out to be the best movie of the year. Robert Zemeckis and Alex Silvestri have created a breathtaking and faithful adaptation of Dickens' timeless novel. This movie was by far the most surprising treat of the year.

6 - Up In The Air - Jason Reitman hits a home run with his 3rd directorial outing. Both comic and bleak, George Clooney gives perhaps his best performance to date alongside the formidable Anna Kendrick.

Political Play of the Year - Harry Reid

Now, before you drag me out into the streets with a screaming mob in an auto de f├ę revival, hear me out. The political play of the year goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Yes, he's a weasel, and I suspect that repeated incantations of his name could probably summon unspeakable creatures from the bowels of hell itself - but what he managed to do was remarkable. The Democrats' health care bill is an obscene disaster that promises nothing but billions of dollars in new spending, sky-rocketing tax hikes on the middle class, and reduced services to seniors. Still, as the bill came close to being booted into oblivion, he fought tooth and nail to bring 60 of the most disorganized and unruly Democratic Senators together to pass this thing. Did he skirt the bounds of ethics to win some of those votes? I have no doubt he did, but his dogged determination and crusading won the day in the end. Republicans could learn something from that kind of unrelenting persistence.

Album of the Year - Regina Spektor's "Eet"

Eet is more tame and restrained than Spektor's previous two outings, but it remains a powerful album that was a welcome treat for her ever-growing fan base.

What would Happen if you Drank a Bottle of Drain-o?

I suspect you would die a painful death as your insides singed like goats on fire.

Best Decision of the Year - Marrying my editor

As a general rule, this sort of thing should be avoided the way children should avoid sticking forks in power sockets, but marrying the lovely Miss Claire - now the lovely Mrs. Claire - has made me the happiest blogger (and man) in the world. I love her dearly, and my life is all the richer for having her in it.

A Final Thank You

Thank you to all my readers, from all parts of the political spectrum, for making The Straight Hype the success it is today. Thanks most of all to my wife and editor Claire, and my brother and glue sniffing webmaster Paul. I could not do any of it without your support, and I thank each and every one of you for your loyalty. God bless you.

Happy New Year!

Cordially

Joe
(I know I missed lots of stuff...feel free to add your own thoughts - we do have a comments section.)

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