Friday, January 1, 2010

Reflecting on 2009

(Warning- this is very, very long...)

So, I've been reading all of these great end of the year lists, particularly over at Mamapop, where it looks like everyone chimed in with their 2009 favorites. Of course, it had me thinking of what my own list would look like. And then I realized that it would look, for the most part, not terribly exciting. Not because the stuff on there wouldn't be any good, but because I didn't search particularly hard to find any of it.

Back in the day, I used to work at an alternative public radio station. This meant that I was always discovering new music. What I didn't discover at work, my husband would find online and share. We went CD shopping every month. Through work I would get passes to film festivals and theater tickets, as well as lots and lots of concert tickets. The husband and I, we used to be fairly well steeped in the pop culture.

After the kid was born, we practically stopped going to movies and concerts (unless they were at outdoor festivals). But we still managed to listen to lots of music at home. We've been sporadically good at movie viewing, but not as consistent.

Strangely, as the kid has gotten older, movie viewing has become somewhat easier. But I realized, looking back on this year, that my music listening has been practically nil. Even when I have the radio on, I question how much I'm actually paying attention. We went out to buy CDs over the holidays. What did I get? The Jam, Cheap Trick, and the Beastie Boys. Nothing made after 1989. (To be fair, my husband was way more current. He snagged some new stuff, including the new Flaming Lips and Yo La Tengo.)

Which brings me back to an end of year list. I can tell you what music/ movies/ concerts/ books, etc. had the most impact on me in 2009. And I will, just because I like the idea. But I doubt that it will be too enlightening- more mainstream than maybe it would have been even five years ago. Which brings me to another thing I like- Resolutions. So, in 2010 I resolve that I will try to slow down and really explore books, movies, and especially, music.

So, to wrap up what has turned into a longer-than-expected post, here it is. My Top 12 of 2009:

12) Flaming Lips, 'Embryonic' and Yo La Tengo, 'Popular Songs'
To be fair, I haven't really listened to these yet. But I feel like this list is so void of music, and I consistently like what both of these bands put out, so I'm going out on a limb to say that I am sure I will love these CDs. So there.

11) Zombieland
The trailer was awesome. I told the husband that we had to go see this movie. And we did. And it was a lot of fun. Zombies, Bill Murray, and an oddly attractive Woody Harrelson (don't question me. I wasn't prepared for that either).

10) Morrissey, 'Swords'
Nice collection of B-sides from Morrissey's last three albums. (As you'll find on this list, I am a huge Morrissey fan. More on that some other time.)

9) Carnegie Museums
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I feel very lucky to have the Carnegie Museums here in Pittsburgh. All of them brought some great exhibits to the city this year: Darth Vader helmets at the Warhol (which my kid *loved*), Robo-World at the Science Center (another big hit with the kid), and the Whale and Horse exhibits at the Natural History Museum were fantastic too. Also, I can never get my kid over to look at the Art Museum, but he finally indulged me one day and we got to look at the Assoc. Artists of Pittsburgh work. Amazing stuff.

8) True Blood
We watch many shows and I like them all (30 Rock, I'm looking at *you*), but True Blood is hands down my favorite. After every episode I look at my husband and say, 'I love this show!!' Great acting, great writing and non-stop action. And vampires. And Eric. Who may be my new favorite.

7) A Serious Man
Another fantastic movie by the Coen Brothers. The story about the orthodontist just about killed me.

6) Morrissey, 'Years of Refusal'
Fantastic release from Morrissey early in 2009. I love the opening track. Bonus interview disc with Russell Brand, 'Wrestle with Russell' is pretty cool too.

5) Turning 40
A week long celebration, starting with my best friend taking me out to Pangea and Gooski's until 3am, and ending with a mellow dinner at Kaya with very dear family friends. In between, a big celebration with some amazing women at the Elbow Room, and the best date my husband and I have had in a while that included a movie (see, A Serious Man), cocktails, and a late night dinner reservation.

4) Where the Wild Things Are, and the soundtrack
A beautifully done movie about how frustrating it can be to be a kid, how hard it is to realize that families aren't perfect, and how even more difficult it is to grow up. My whole family enjoyed it- and we all love the soundtrack too! The best scene is at the beginning with the snow fort. Max Records nails it. I looked in his face and saw my son's.

3) Jackson Hole, WY & Fair Haven, NY
In other words, vacations! Those dear family friends of ours invited us to both places. My son and I joined them in WY for a week- we'd never been there. The area is breathtaking and we got out and did a lot of stuff- too much to go into here. Those same friends have a cottage in Fair Haven and we were all able to go that weekend. Very relaxing.

2) Morrissey at the Carnegie Music Hall
Weeks after I moved here in 1991, Morrissey got rained out in Pittsburgh and never re-scheduled. Years later he canceled another show here because of back problems. I saw him twice before this show- both times I had to go to Ohio. In other words, Pittsburgh had been waiting a long, long time to see him here. My best friend and I went on St. Patrick's Day and Morrissey Rocked. The. House. I never knew 'Death of a Disco Dancer' could sound like that. Wow. It was worth the wait.

1) Infinite Jest
The best book I've read in years. I'm sorry that I didn't discover it- or David Foster Wallace- sooner. His writing literally blew my mind. He did things with language that I'd never seen before. Looking forward to reading more of his work in 2010.

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