Wednesday, December 30, 2009

can't stop don't stop.

Guys, I'm obsessed with Best Ofs. I don't think I ever want to read or write anything that isn't in list format, ever again. Although I just read the Time Person of the Year issue and that was pretty much the worst. I just don't care about the economy, or the people who are trying to improve it. Sorry, folks. I was more entertained by the totally ludicrous drug ads that seem to be on every second page than by the content itself, save a truly lovely old photo of John Updike (which I cannot find online), who will always be one of those writers I like better in theory than in practice. Anyway, I'm sure you're quite sick of indulging my list-whoring but here's one last one to sum up what has probably been the silliest decade of my life.

Best library checkout: a huge Eightball compilation from the Vancouver Public Library's Renfrew branch, summer 2005. At the time I'd read Ghost World over and over, but I had no idea what a genius Daniel Clowes really was till I started reading Eightball. His comics were the reason I got into comics, and I can't even imagine where I'd be without that particular obsession.

Best apartment: a two-way tie between 1836 Arbutus Street in Vancouver and my current Kingston homestead. It's hard to top the view of the ocean and North Van, though, and sometimes I feel like a piece of me is still tucked behind the gas stove in that living room.

Best TV series: Six Feet Under. This show messed with my head, consistently and thoroughly, for the better part of 5 years as I slowly made my way through each season. When I watched the last episode I felt like part of me had died too. Hands down the best character development and combination of creepiness and integrity of all time.

Best movie: A two way tie between The Royal Tenenbaums ("Did you say you were on mescaline?") and Almost Famous ("It's all happening."). What can I say? I'm a sentimental girl. The movies I loved most were the ones I watched at the Cumberland Cinema and then on DVD, over and over again, in the dorm rooms and dive houses of the Annex.

Saddest literary loss: Carol Shields. Her death was my nerdy version of the JFK assassination: I remember exactly where I was, and I totally cried. No one will ever construct and deconstruct characters the way she does, taking them cradle to grave, holding them up to the light to make sure she hasn't missed anything, sitting next to them at the kitchen table. I'll love her forever and like her for always.

Best concert: This could probably be a seventeen way tie but I'm going to narrow it down to Wilco in Vermont, June 2007. (aka the day we nearly puked on John Stirratt). Free Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Jeff Tweedy making fun of the hipster kids in the audience? Nearly breaking down a snow fence from rocking out so hard next to it? Watching the sun go down behind the stage? HELL YES. Waking up the next morning in a tent without any sleeping bags, still clutching cans of 50, was so worth it.

Best feeling: That it can only keep on getting better from here.

See you next year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

but wait! there's more!

Best Of lists are fun! Especially when you write one and then you are plagued by insomnia and spend the loneliest hours of the night coming up with things you should have included in the first place!

Best audiobook that made a completely unreadable book totally amazing: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M.T. Anderson; read by Peter Francis James. This is a historical epic about slavery and the American Revolution. There is no good reason why I should enjoy this book, and yet, I absolutely did. The reader is frigging unbelievable and the story is so twisted and weird. It's one of those audiobooks that make you drive around the block an extra time or two so you can keep listening.

Best celebrity memoir: Moon River and Me by Andy Williams. Laugh if you want, but this book is fascinating. Therapeutic LSD experiences, Christmas specials, and criminal exes.

Best Flight of the Conchords song: Hurt Feelings.

Best film set decoration/confirmation that suburbs=beautiful death: Revolutionary Road.

Best meal: The tuna platter at Casa Domenico.

Most dangerous drinks menu: Atomica. (bottles of prosecco, you are the key to my spiritual depantsing.)

Best breakfast: Star Diner. Although the waitress dressed as Michael Jackson on Halloween was somewhat off-putting.

Best essayist: Zadie Smith. My fondest wish is to be half as smart and sassy. She gives intellectualism a good name and makes me feel so much better about watching bad movies. And I'm pretty sure that distillation of her writing is completely insulting, but whatever. I'm high on advent calendar chocolate and regret.

Best movie trailer: Where the Wild Things Are. I probably watched this five times the first day it surfaced online. It gave me goosebumps. It made me teary and anxious and nostalgic. Jen pointed out that this is also the best use of a pop song (Wake Up, by the Arcade Fire) in a movie trailer this year, and I'd go one further and wager that it might just be the best trailer of ALL TIME. It was so good that it made me nervous about whether the movie would live up to it. I never did see the movie.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

au revoir, oughts.

It's been a banner year for me, and as usual, as I come to the end of 2Cait9 I make the realization that I've been so caught up in the pure winningness that is my life these days that I've forgotten to keep track of whether the things I loved in this last year of the decade were actually released in the last year. I'm pretty sure most of them weren't. I'm gonna go by some 2009-specific stuff on iTunes now but here's a list of the Best of Everything, 2009, to keep you occupied.

Best move: Ottawa to Kingston.

Best non-moving-related decision: forsaking vegetarianism and eating a lot of bacon (and also, a bird).

Best private radio discovery: 98.9 The Drive. For real! hardly any commercials and they reintroduced Banditos by The Refreshments into my life. If only we could somehow convince their lobotomized idiot DJs to never, ever speak ("We call it essential alternative because we play music that is essentially alternative! EXTREME!").

Best public radio standby: Wire Tap with Jonathan Goldstein.

Best book set in the grainy, sepia toned streets of 1970s New York involving latchkey children and the 20000$ Pyramid: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Best love-hate relationship: Q, with Jian Ghomeshi. (Seriously though, Moxy Fruvous was fucking awesome. This song was the best.)

Best terrifying dystopia: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Best re-read: The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.

Best Batman comic: All Star Batman and Robin, Volume 1, by Frank Miller and Jim Lee.

Best emo comic memoir: Funny Misshapen Body by Jeffrey Brown.

Best superficially stupid movie that is actually awesome and involves Muppets: Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (Oh Jason Segel, you have my heart.)

Best song that totally reaffirmed my faith in pop rock when it came out and then slowly, so slowly, made me want to gauge holes in my eardrums whenever I hear it: Help, I'm Alive by Metric.

Best musical rediscovery: Pavement.

Subsequent best song of all time discovery: Stereo by Pavement.

Best show: Plaskett at the Charles Bronson Centre. Or maybe, just maybe, the sheer anticipation of possessing orchestra level seats for Wilco at the NAC this winter. That might be better than all the shows in the world lined up in a row.

Best non-Plaskett album that actually came out in 2009: Hold Time by M. Ward.

Best friends: every last one of you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Come in! And know me better man!

To quote the big red-headed Muppet in The Muppet Christmas Carol (and maybe Dickens?), "my mind is filled with the here and now, and the here and now is Christmas." Yuletide cheer leads to a significant lack of reading time, although I have snuck in one decent book in the last couple of days. Don't worry, though, it's Christmas themed. I had some serious doubts about You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs, mainly because the only other book I'd ever read by him was Running with Scissors, and I had my doubts about how this weird, sad, abused kid could possibly tease a holiday memoir out of his childhood. This book is every bit as strange and dark as I expected, but it is also hilarious. I usually hate Christmas stories that get needlessly twisted, but something about the image of young Augusten subbing cooking sherry for the molasses in his gingerbread recipe is incredibly awesome, as is his inadvertent creation of a gingerbread shanty/slum. It's like David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries on meth.

Other than that title, though (and a handful of back issues of Real Simple and Gourmet), illiteracy abounds at the Charles Street homestead. Last night I spent way too much time thinking about the superiority of the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street versus the original, even though I still have some big issues with the content (Why was Santa living in New York City? Who was at the helm back home? What about his wife? What would have happened if they'd lost the court case?). Seriously, that little girl is adorable, and for any fan of Weeds, it is an absolute trip to watch Elizabeth Perkins in a role other than that of Celia Hoades. I always forget that it was directed by John Hughes, and I really feel like we should all watch it in his honour this year. It's definitely the gem in his non-teen angst crown (Curly Sue notwithstanding).

Before I start thinking too hard, let's all sit back and watch this Muppet Christmas montage.