has initiated something she's calling The Archies
, and she's cajoled me into participating. I'll let her explain the rationale behind them:
So I hereby institute and found a new tradition, to be engaged in by Friends of Mine, loosely defined as whoever happens across this post or subsequent annual editions, or whoever happens across the similar posts I encourage you and other readers to construct around the New Year and its anniversaries to come.
The Archies, named after my son (or the pride of Riverdale High, take your pick), is a list of the Top ___ (your number here) Things in the World. Listed items must be things in the world, and must have played a significant role in your year. Significance, as will soon become clear, is to be defined solely by subjective criteria.
As in the non-existent previous years of this brand-new tradition, I refrain from mentioning the perennial Top Things in the World: Noel, Archer, and Cady Gray. To avoid tiresome repetition, immediate family members have been retired as members of the Archies Hall of Fame. Things done by said family members remain eligible for the annual list.
Wonderful as they are, the part about Donna's family doesn't pertain to my list or yours if you choose to play along. I've arranged this in a mutated alphabetical order.The Top 40 Things in the World (2006)
1. Amazon Prime
Satisfies the urge to get your orders faster and without all those pesky shipping costs. Thanks to my mom for letting me hitchhike on her subscription.
2. A.M. Cinema
$4 to see a movie before noon on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays? A great deal at first run theaters. I took advantage of it when there were screenings I missed or films the studios had the good sense not to show the press.
3. Blog commenters
Call it sucking up if you want, but I love getting comments. Yours are much nicer than the rare ones usually left at my other site.
One of the best ways to keep track of the blogs you read.
5. Browsers with tabs (I prefer Firefox
As someone who likes to have multiple browser windows open, tabbed browsing is a godsend.
6. Official website for local film critics group whose name I've realized I better not use
I'm amazed this got off the ground in as short of time as it did. It occurred to me that Google may latch onto this post and put it high in the search results for this association if I put it here. Yeah, I don't want that happening. The link's good, though. And this is alphabetically between "browsers" and "Columbus".
7. Columbus Blue Jackets hockey
Cutting back in other areas has finally given me time to follow the hometown NHL franchise in depth for the season. The team has had its ups and downs, but I've enjoyed following a sport and a team that doesn't blow its own trumpet everywhere you turn.
8. Converse Chuck Taylors
I never owned a pair before being sent free shoes by Paramount to promote the Jackass
sequel. I can't abide the show or the films, but the shoes are great. My pants cover up the Jackass
logo, so I can wear them without feeling like I'm endorsing it.
9. Criterion Collection DVDs of The Double Life of Veronique
Two of my most wanted titles made it to DVD this year. The funny thing is that I haven't had time to watch either of them. A third--Kicking and Screaming
--hasn't made it into my shopping cart.
10. Donna Bowman
Not a suck-up selection, although it sure looks like one, doesn't it? Her blog is a must-read, especially now that she's found an excuse to write every day. And she started knitting!
11. Dunkin' Donuts coconut donuts
Why don't more places make coconut donuts? Tim Horton's discontinued them here years ago. I know of only one Dunkin' Donuts franchise in the area, and I don't think I've ever been to it. A Dunkin' Donuts was by my hotel when I was in Cleveland for the film festival. I made sure to get one or two of these to start each day's film cramming session.
12. Fantasy Moguls
I soured on playing fantasy sports in 2006, largely because it takes so much time and energy and leads to nothing but frustration. (My baseball team going down the toilet in the stretch run and a disastrous preseason football trade didn't help.) I'm retiring from it this year, but in its place I have the fantasy sports equivalent of being a studio executive. The site needs some work, but it's a fun little game that doesn't gobble up all your free time.
13. The Flaming Lips/Sonic Youth/The Magic Numbers concert
I didn't get to many concerts, but this one was just the thing to brighten my mood. I'd never seen Sonic Youth, who lived up to their legendary status. The Flaming Lips put on a feel-good show similar to when I saw them touring behind Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
, but it was still a blast.
14. Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"
THE ubiquitous pop crossover hit of the year.
15. Häagen-Dazs Mayan Chocolate ice cream
Chocolate and cinnamon together at last.
I don't want to get rid of my CDs, but I'll confess that I never play them after ripping them to my computer and importing the songs to my iPod. Worth every penny I paid for it.
17. John Malkovich at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival
You know how weird he seems in the movies? He seems like that off-screen too, which amused me to no end. It was surreal to get in line with him for coffee at the University of Illinois student union. He wore a white, woolly sweater every day he was at the festival.
18. Ken Jennings - Confessions of a Trivial Mind
Who knew the Jeopardy!
whiz was such a funny guy and has such good taste in movies and music?
19. Knit Picks
Quality, inexpensive yarn.
No explanation needed.
A quarterly online knitting magazine, but you probably already knew that.
22. Kristin Dreyer Kramer
23. Paul Kramer
What great luck I had to make these two friends. I know Kristin better than her husband since he has the wisdom to avoid a good percentage of the bad movies we see, but it's been wonderful getting to know both of them. Paul deserves the credit for building that website at #6 on the list. As you know, Kristin deserves the credit for getting me hooked on knitting.
24. The MOD Squad
Three of the younger film critics, including Kristin and me, commonly at screenings. So named by the youngest of the bunch. References Thank You for Smoking
25. My messenger bag
Not that I'm a fashion plate by any means, but I feel more stylish carrying this than a backpack.
26. My new glasses
I like 'em.
27. Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
It wouldn't matter if she were singing the phone book. One of the year's best albums.
28. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Daily Scrub
What am I, an adolescent? This stuff does a great job of clearing up my complexion, although apparently its powers aren't always able to overcome high stress levels.
29. The new version of Blogger
I haven't played around with what it can do, but the features I have used are an improvement. If only it were around this summer when I was giving a facelift to my other site and had to work on the template code from a book.
Kristin lets me stretch my legs and write something other than movie reviews, although she's republished a good number of those too.
31. Night at the Museum
If I haven't talked about the coldness of one local theater's auditorium during press screenings, well, there's this theater that doesn't feel like the heat is on... I sent e-mails to the PR reps after each bone-chilling screening. (They're based in Cincinnati and not in attendance.) They've started scheduling morning screenings at another theater, but in the event that we are at the cold one, they sent me this promotional item. I got a big laugh out of it.
32. The Pipettes
A girl group for the 00s. Their terrific debut We Are The Pipettes
, featuring the insanely catchy "Pull Shapes", hasn't received American distribution. It's amazing what you'll find on MP3 blogs, though.
33. The Prestige
My pick for the best film of 2006.
The blog of Dwight on The Office
. Probably not as funny if you don't watch the show and not updated regularly enough. Still, this is hilarious stuff.
35. Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas
When it comes to Christmas songs, I'm fine with hymns and Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas
. I could do without almost all of the schlock that you hear everywhere. (Fountains of Wayne has some fine Christmas songs, but nobody plays them.) Here's a collection of five EPs mixing the religious and secular, including several written by the prolific Stevens. He captured the spirit of the season and made some fine music to listen to year round to boot.
36. Team USA curling
(or curling in general)
I love the Olympics, and I've always had a soft spot for the sports that don't get as much TV time. Last year's coverage was heaven when it came to televised curling. I recorded the US matches and tried not to come across the scores while at work. I thought the matches were riveting. It was also pretty cool that the athletes were closer to true amateurs, regular people who didn't make a living at their sport. The US men's captain runs a pizza shop, if I remember correctly. The game looks like a lot of fun, and I would like to learn to play.
37. Tim Horton's cinnamon rolls
Frosted or glazed, you can't go wrong.
38. Veronica Mars
This summer I gorged on the second half of the first season and the entire second season on DVD in preparation for season three. I can see why they've cut down the season-long mysteries into half-season arcs. It can be difficult to keep track of everything when viewing the episodes over a week or two, not the months of the TV schedule.
39. Wool socks
When pressed for a Christmas list, I couldn't come up with anything except for wool socks. (They would have been useful during our screening freezes.) Well, Santa came through (along with some other things), and I've been loving these. It hasn't been all that cold yet, but my feet must get cold easily. A practical and appreciated gift.
40. World Cup soccer
I'm not a soccer fanatic, but I follow the Columbus Crew. (They call themselves The Hardest Working Team in America, but hard work doesn't equal success, as they have learned year after year.) Major League Soccer doesn't hold a candle to the World Cup. I cheer for the US squad and whichever countries catch my fancy. I love the nonstop singing and celebrating in the stands and the tension that builds until a goal is scored. American sportswriters gripe about soccer until they're blue in the face. Lack of scoring is usually their chief complaint, but it's the rarity of goals that make them so exciting when they're made.
Donna was right. That was a lot of work, but it's a nice snapshot of what brought happiness into my life last year. Some of these things I'm certain to forget, and I'm sure there are some notable omissions. Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile pursuit. Hint, hint, everybody.Next...trying to find time to knit.