03 January 2012

Looking Back: A Few of My Favorites from 2011

I usually try to get this written before the new year.  I'm a little late this year.

These are some of the things that I loved this year.  These are the things that made me proud to be human.  The sorts of stuff that make you feel joy.  This is my list of favorites of 2011.

Let's begin.

KINDLE (Formerly known as books)
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.  Read it now.  Here is my review.

Rewriting:  Things To Do With Texts by Joseph Harris.  Professional reading, but I am so glad I received a copy.   If you teach composition, you should pick it up.  If you want to be a better writer, you should pick it up.  

iPOD (Music and Podcasts)
Since I have satellite radio, I can happily stay in certain corners of the musical world (ahem...Pearl Jam radio!) and not be exposed to anything new.  But somehow, fortuitously, I came across these acts. 

Reggie Watts.  I believe I was introduced to him on a Radiolab podcast.    He is a comedian who is also musical.  He uses his voices and a machine to create these songs. There is something delightful about his work. He won't be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, I would recommend waiting until you get home from work to explore his work on Youtube.  Here is one of my favorites that I feel comfortable linking to:  A Future in the Future.  Warning.  Profanity! 

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down.  I can blame Radiolab for this one as well.  When I saw Radiolab Live in Berkeley, she also performed.  Good stuff.  Body

I think that I learned about Theophilus London from a playlist on a lululemon blog.  His stuff reminds of the good parts of being 13 years old.  It doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but I mean it to be.  I am fully aware that most people won't like his stuff.  I'm in my thirties.  It's been years since I've cared what you think about me.  So there.  Sorry to Interrupt and Why Even Try

It is no secret that I am a fan of the banjo.  I can't believe that it took me so long to find Mumford & Sons.  I love their entire album Sigh No More.  I love how the music swells.  I love the voice.  White Blank Page

SCREEN (Film and TV)
Game of Thrones.  
Loved it.  Can't wait for it to return.  Read the two books in the series and then stalled in Book 3.  Tyrion is my current favorite.  I also dig Ayra Stark!  Bronn and Tyrion Buddy Cop

Midnight in Paris  
This movie was like a gift to all of us out there with degrees in American literature.  It was so delightful.  I don't think another film made me smile so much all year.  Owen Wilson was excellent in the Woody Allen character.  The writing killed me!  Gil said at one point:  "Prufrock is like my mantra!"  What's not to love!  Who wants to fight!

Pearl Jam Twenty
Ten came out in 1991.  I was 13.  Vs. came out in 1993.  I remember waiting for Vs. to be released. I remember going to the mall to buy a copy. (An act that my son will never experience.)  I'm fairly certain that listening to all that Pearl Jam in those formidable years meant that I've imprinted on Pearl Jam.  I crushed on Stone Gossard and fell in love with Eddie Vedder's voice. Watching Cameron Crowe's documentary on Pearl Jam was a strange yet positive experience.  There seems to be a narrative arc in all of our lives.  Any documentarian could find one, I suppose.  Pearl Jam's narrative arc seems to mirror all of our lives.  Maybe just mine.  Not literally.  Symbolically, in a Joseph Campbell monomyth type of way.  They raged against their station in life and then started to mellow and find a bit of peace.  Reminds me of the rage of my teens and early twenties softening as I hit my thirties.  I really liked Backspacer when it came out.  There was a joy in that album that wasn't present in their angrier earlier albums.  The nostalgic impact of seeing clips of Tabatha Soren (!) in MTV clips was amazing.  There is a lot about being young that I miss.  MTV is one of them.  It was a better time.  Let Me Sleep and Given to Fly

Wunderlist:  This thing has saved me as my responsibilities have increased.  This year I teach three different courses.  Each with their own to do lists.  It has become difficult to keep it all straight.  I love how I can sync the app on my desktop to my phone.  

Words with Friends:  "Words games for smart people." --Alec Baldwin

KT Tape.  I don't understand how it works.  It may be a placebo.  I don't care.  It is a placebo that works.  Aches and pains go away with this stuff.  

California International Marathon.  Loved this race.  Will return.  

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