So, the new year is upon us, and it started out with a bang for me. Or rather, a subtle cracking sound as my glasses broke on New Year's Night while I was cleaning them. I was wiping the lenses, and suddenly, I'm holding what amounted to a monocle in both hands. Whee. The good news? I called several optical places, and was told that it would take about 7 to 10 days to get a new pair, and I couldn't just walk in and get a new pair, either. Thanks to a regulation in the state of Pennsylvania, eyeglass wearers must undergo an exam every two years. And wouldn't you know it, my last appointment was two years ago. Wait, did I say good news? So, I'm sitting here, wearing my prescription sunglasses and listening to my co-workers make jokes about my future being so bright, I have to wear shades. Or, "Hey man, where's your white cane. But my personal favorite -- every seven minutes, someone starts singing "I wear my sunglasses at night," a la Corey Hart. Thank you, Canada.
But I digress.
In honor of the new year, I thought, why not list a few of my fave-oh-rite things of 2007? Now, this isn't just a list of the best music or movies (For a great list of the best music of 2007, head over to Liz's Rants and Ramblings. Good times). Oh no, it's just a random collection of crap I enjoyed for 12 months. And of course, some of these things may not have debuted in '07, but I probably didn't discover them until then. Narf!
Favorite movie: In the Valley of Elah. I didn't get to many movies this year, and most of the ones I did were disappointing in one way or another. But I went into In the Valley of Elah with few expectations, and it shocked the hell out of me. Of course, Tommy Lee Jones was fantastic, doing more with less than most actors do while chewing their way through the scenery. Perhaps my favorite part was watching his fastidious nature crumble the deeper he delved into the truth of his son's death. And while I'm usually underimpressed by Charlize Theron (with the exception of Monster), she almost managed to keep up with Jones (see the scene in the bathroom with the dead woman. If ever regret was writ upon someone's features, that's what it would look like).
Favorite book: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. This autobiographical book actually came out in 1997, but I didn't get around to reading it until a decade later. The true story of a doctor of psychiatry's struggle with manic depressive disorder (known clinically as bipolarism) is at times harrowing, heartbreaking and redemptive. It uncovers an illness that comes not only with bouts of elevating mania and crushing depression, but also an unbearable stigma. Jamison's writing personalizes the disease, and in giving it a face, makes it easier to understand and with which to sympathize.
Favorite sporting event: (tie) The Red Sox winning the World Series and Chuck Liddell beating Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79. The World Series gets a vote because (A) I love me some baseball, and (2) because since the Phils were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after an historic comeback, I had to throw my support behind the Sox, since Liz is a huge fan. Also, they crushed the Rockies, who eliminated my Phils, so that sweet, sweet vindication. And it was just nice to see my boy Liddell get back in the win column -- outlasting Silva, nicknamed "the Axe Murderer -- after gut-wrenching losses to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who stripped the Iceman of his light heavyweight title, and Keith Jardine, who fights as though he were in the midst of an epileptic episode, and who looks vaguely like Michael Berryman.
Favorite song: You Can't Fail Me Now, written by Joe Henry, performed by Loudon Wainwright III on the Knocked Up soundtrack. In a year that saw Britney's successful return to the charts with Gimme More (even if she suffered in fairly all other realms of, well, life), Rihanna's catchy Umbrella and Timbaland's solo single Apologize (both of which I just can't get enough of), as well as the triumphant return of the Boss and fantastic Indie fare like the Editors' An End Has a Start and great albums by Silversun Pickups and the National (thanks, Liz) and Amy Winehouse before the meltdown, it's this intimate folk-infused ditty that won me over. And lemme tell you, it was far and away the best part of that movie. Step back, Rufus and let your old man show you how it's done.
Favorite performance in a movie or television show: Well, since I don't watch television if it's not on DVD, this is going to be primarily a silver screen category. And I'm a-have to say it's a tie between Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart and Ben Affleck in Hollywoodland. Jolie was transcendent as Mariane Pearl, conveying the composure and heartache of a journalist who wanted to know all the angles in the story of her missing colleague, as well as a woman who just wanted her husband back (see the moment where she finds out her husband was killed if you want to see heartrending misery at its finest). And Ben Affleck, well, he just had to go and prove that no matter what the tabloids said, or what shuddering piece of crap film he'd been in lately, he actually does have talent. His portrayal of George Reeves, a man who fell short of his hopes and dreams while soaring through the imaginations of children the nation over as Superman, was exhausting, and I mean that in a good way.
Favorite news story: A north Texas woman concocted a story about her six-year-old daughter's father dying while serving over in Iraq for an essay contest, all to win tickets to a Hannah Montana concert. Of course, her old man happened to be alive and well, working as a carpet cleaner, and had never served in the military. I don't condone or advocate lying, or baldly playing on the emotions of others. This story just amuses me because, seriously, Hannah Montana? What is it about Miley Cyrus that has everyone in such a fuss?