Friday, December 30, 2005

B.W.'s Best of 2005

I remember when both 1984 and 2001 were far-off exotic lands where things would be a lot different. My impression is that 2005 swept by in a blur on its way to "I can't believe it's 2006." But then I remember 1984 and 2001, and they seem like a long time ago, so maybe time is not moving as fast as I perceive.

But I didn't come down to my basement nook to wax philosophic this morning. I'd rather add my two cents to the "What was the best of 2005" musings that proliferate like mushrooms this time of year. Of course, since often I don't bump into something the same year it's produced, this will be more of a "best stuff I finally encountered" list.

Alas, I perused a mere baker's dozen of books in 2005 - so much for my resolution a couple years back to read a book a week. If they'd all been as absorbing as the first one I read in '05, maybe I'd have stuck to it better: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Neffenegger is one of the niftiest fantasy love stories I've ever bumped into. Honorable mention: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks, and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

On the non-fiction shelf, How to Kill the Job Culture Before It Kills You by Claire Wolfe helped me in many practical ways, and it may be the single most influential book of my 2006 - although if I take my own advice and re-read Do It! Let's Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams, it may end up being a tie. Or maybe I'll still be a corporate clone this time next year, in which case those books will be lovely flights of fancy on my way to T.S. Eliot's life of quiet desperation.

This was the year my "all-time favorite flicks" and "all-time favorite TV shows" lists got a major shaking by one Joss Whedon. A trio of friends, all operating independently, told me I had to check out this DVD set of a canceled 2002 TV show, Firefly. I did, and I fell for it. And then Serenity hit the theaters.

Honorable mention TV shows, all discovered via DVD (I'm a little slow on the uptake): Veronica Mars, Battlestar Gallactica and (what else) Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Honorable mention movies: Whale Rider, Fantastic Four, The Notebook, King Kong. (I recognize Batman Begins and Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith as worthy and well-made films; they just didn't grab me emotionally the way I expected. And on that subject, War of the Worlds turned out to be a complete dud to my mind.)

Actually, until Whedon's world came along, 2005 was going to be most notable for shaking up my "all-time favorite music" list, which had been etched in stone for a very long time: Of course Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Born to Run were the greatest albums ever, nothing else came close - until Smile by Brian Wilson. A little asterisk there: The studio album is gorgeous, but the DVD performance is indescribably delicious. And seeing Wilson's band this summer was the greatest concert experience I've had since Springsteen in the summer of 1984 - which was a very, very long time ago.


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