Some things I enjoyed last year, in no particular order…
The Dark Knight. I could say, with great conviction, that this was the best movie of 2008, but I actually didn’t see anywhere close to all the movies released, so that’d be pretty presumptuous of me. It was definitely the best new film I saw, and the Batman movie I’ve wanted to see since my age was in single digits. Batman Begins was damn near perfect (Katie Holmes notwithstanding), and The Dark Knight took everything that worked in Begins and improved upon it. It’s not just a great superhero movie, it’s a damn good film, a high caliber crime thriller, beautifully made, masterfully written, full of great performances, politically topical, just amazing. And the Joker’s bit with a pencil is the best bit of sleight of hand I’ve seen in years.
For the record, I also loved Iron Man and Hellboy 2, and Bolt was wonderful.
Barack Obama. Morning in America, Superman leading the Justice League to victory against the Injustice League, a black man taking the highest office in the land, an antidote to the small-minded, soulless corruption of the past decade in American life. Here’s hoping he lives up to his promise.
Mad Men. TV by and for smart people. This show is ridiculously entertaining, and operates on so many levels that it actually triggers synaptic action in the brain, a rarity on television.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Joss Whedon adds another classic to his resume, and becomes an internet pioneer at the same time. Songs good enough I get them stuck in my head for days and don’t mind. Hilarious wit laced with deep darkness and pathos. The lovely Felicia Day. And Bad Horse, of course, of course.
Doc Wilde. I received the galleys (advance reading copies) of my book, Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom, and after years of dragging my ass on my dream, it felt great to be able to hold a novel I wrote in my hands, flip through its pages seeing all these paragraphs I crafted, and stare at the cover and see the faces of my characters as they will meet their audience in bookstores. Not to mention reading over and over the great blurbs from Daniel Pinkwater and Quentin Dodd. They like me! They really like me!
Um…excuse my Sally Field moment there.
3o Rock. And Tina Fey in general. I’d never watched this show, though I was interested, because I try to keep my TV viewing down, and often avoid shows I suspect I’ll love. I finally broke down and watched the pilot episode, which resulted in days of binge-watching my way through seasons one and two and three. I’m caught up, and eagerly awaiting the show’s return. This show’s funny as hell, Tina Fey’s a marvel, Alec Baldwin gets to showcase his incredible comic skills, and Tracy Morgan’s a delirious delight.
Facebook. I wasn’t interested in Facebook. I was very cynical about it, saw no use for it. But wiser folks encouraged me to use it at the very least as a tool to make myself available to people interested in my writing, so I signed on. That wasn’t that long ago, but I’m already in steady contact with people I lost over the years, people in the writing and publishing community to learn from, new friends, old enemies (amazing how time and a viable net interface can make old grudges seem beneath notice), and people with similar interests with whom to share ideas and discoveries…
Pulp fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of classic pulp, and thoroughly enjoying it. I have enough to say about this that I’ll be tackling it in another post.
Joss Whedon. In retrospect, I should have just put Dr Horrible here. Leave it to Joss to earn a category all his own on my list of joy. In addition to the musical magic of the Sing-Along Blog, Joss gave the world season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comic book form, continuing Buffy’s adventures with panache and wit and emotional depth (the issues are collected in paperback, starting with The Long Way Home).
Also in comics, Joss wrote 25 issues of Astonishing X-Men, with amazing art by John Cassaday, which have also been collected. I got the second hardback collection recently and literally had tears in my eyes when I finished.
And, of course, Joss’s earlier work continues to provide enjoyment. I got to watch both Buffy and Angel from start to finish with my son this year, which I’d looked forward to doing for years, and it was awesome. Which brings me to:
My son. Nathaniel has adapted to the sundering of his family and the resulting radical changes in his life with great cheer and flexibility, and I admire and respect him for that. He remains, as always, the brightest star in my firmament, the only unceasing source of joy and meaning in my life.