Sunday, January 17, 2010

Best of 2009 Part IV: Some Non-Food Faves at the End of the Aughts

I haven't posted much in the way of non-foodie stuff on this blog since I discovered the silliness that is Twitter. That is pretty much where all the non-food stuff goes. So a once in a year post that has little to do with food is not that tall an order. And I can't fit all this into 140 characters anyway.

Warning if you're on dial-up (yes, I still have a handful of readers on dial-up - I checked with Google Analytics): there are a few YouTube videos in here so the load time may be a little longer than normal.

Favorite things about Baltimore - A few: 1) We now have recycling pick-up every week; 2) The Bawlmer Book Festival; 3) The Waverly and I-83 Farmers' Markets, among others; 4) The availability of important services such as Our Daily Bread, Moveable Feast and the Maryland Food Bank, which are even more important now than ever.

Favorite Baltimore museum - Gotta be the Walters.

Favorite movies of '09 - Again, saw few of them this year. Julie & Julia was probably the one I am second most likely to go out and actually buy on DVD. The likeliest? Zombieland. Food, Inc. and Star Trek are also up there. And yes, I actually did like Paranormal Activity. Freaked me out for a few days, true.

Favorite YouTube videos of the year - Oh, the YouTube has been bringing on better and better videos every year. This is a toughie, made even tougher by one of my new favorite shows, G4's Web Soup with Chris Hardwick. Next time I'm out in LA I have to get into the studio audience. This is, what, the third Soup knock-off on the air now? My Top 6 - I would have just done a Top 5, but Sandra Lee had to make an appearance in here somewhere:

6. A video to remind us why Aunt Sandy does not belong on any television show, much less her own (even more Sandra Lee silliness here):

5. The Muppets Take Bohemia!

4. Probably the standard for literal videos set by DA Scott Jr - "Total Eclipse of the Heart - the Literal Version"

3. Is the episode on Designing Women where Julia loses her mind, or the one where she was possessed by demons? It's the Dixie Carter Exorcise Video, dug up from the 90's and thrown onto the net!

Attack of the Show's reaction was priceless.

2. From Australian YouTubist Pogo: delicious-sounding trippy electronic remixes of movies into song form. My favorite is his Mary Poppins-based "Expialidocious" (it's a damn shame he made the video private - YTF? - but a link from is here). The Willy Wonka-ish "Scrumdiddlyumptious" is clearly more appropriate for a food blog:

1. Finally, Carl Sagan comes back from the grave to sing a song I could not stop listening to all year, "A Glorious Dawn," the first in the Symphony of Science series. It's probably one of my favorite songs of the past year overall.

Also worth noting: that beautiful slow motion SprintCam v3 video showing cheerleaders, a men's field hockey team, Jell-O and, um, half-naked rugby players (strange) in very slo-mo; Kelly's late awakening at Marshall's; and the catchiest insight into what Americans sound like to people who only speak Italian (been floating around the internets since '07 but only went "viral" this year).

Favorite TV shows - I love me some Doctor Who - how 'bout that new Doctor? Also up there now: I've recently discovered The Big Bang Theory, as well as Web Soup (noted above), RuPaul's Drag Race and the series based on the History Channel's Life After People. Still waiting for Project Runway on Lifetime to impress. Season 6 was more unintentionally funny than anything else.

Favorite TV show episode - The one on 30 Rock where Jenna instructs Liz Lemon that "Drama is gay man Gatorade. It replenishes their electrolytes."

Favorite radio shows - Still Marketplace on NPR. But The Splendid Table has now rocketed into second place now that it's much easier to hear it in the Baltimore area.

Favorite books - Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, a memoir in graphic novel format about her relationship with her father, who (like her) was gay, but who (unlike her) was married with three kids and in the closet (this was the 70's after all). Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also ranks up there. I've already mentioned In Defense of Food and The Fortune Cookie Chronicles in a previous Best of '09 post.

Favorite song - Too many of them, but almost all are not the usual or even the not-so-usual hits. They are more of the created-for-YouTube variety. But some notable favorites of the past year include:

Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing" (I love this video, much groovier than the official one)

and Marina and the Diamonds' "I Am Not A Robot".

But I've been wearing out "Poker Face" on my MP3 player - less so the original, more so the all-male college a capella version, and this one:

Favorite gadget of '09 - Certainly not my cell phone, currently held together with duct tape. Just four more months until I can replace the damn thing for free. Did have some fun for a few weeks with the sister's Wii though. Still want to play the majestic and sweeping Okami on it.

One thing I'm looking forward to in '10 - Hopefully finding a full time job, which has still eluded me. Not happy about this at all.

And lastly: Did I keep last year's New Year's Resolution? It was to "eat more of the stuff in your own pantry, and less of what you can find in the restaurants! Also, go grocery shopping less often." Yes, I did that, and I have saved a bundle. So no new resolutions this year, except to keep this trend up.

That's it for my mammoth '09 recap. Stay tuned in hopefully just another 11 and 1/2 months for the recap of all the fun in 2010! I am planning ahead here.