Every year I like to do a lot of year in reviews. Why? I'm nostalgic...even for the year that just ended. I do music, movies, songs and moments. Movies will always come out closer to Oscar time as I can't always see everything in the theaters. This list is about things that affected me in the year, whether it's a band, a song, a game, a quote, a news story or just a moment in time. So here goes, another annoying list. Call me Schindler.
10. The Kids in the Hall Reunion @ The Keswick - Back in 2007 (jeez that's two years ago now... wtf) I got the chance to see one of my favorite sketch comedy troupes live. The UCB theater was a religious experience. Maybe 50 people in the audience and a one of a kind improv show via ASSSCAT. This past year, my sister and I made the trek out to Glenside for yet another amazing sketch comedy troupe, The Kids in the Hall. I grew up watching this show and seeing the guys in the flesh was nothing short of awesome. Great skits, great chemistry and a ridiculous amount of laughter led to one of the greatest nights of the year. The whole group was in top form which was good news as it had been years since they were all on stage together. Nothing like brilliant entertainment to uplift me during a roller-coaster emotional year. I think this show was mid-unemployment so my Mom subsidized my entertainment that day. Thank GOD she did! I almost missed this night.
9. West Philadelphia- My West Philly experience was interesting. Great times for the most part, but a lot of isolation in a tiny apartment. It was something that was necessary to my development, however. West Philly wasn't completely isolated as I had friends only a few blocks away. These friendships grew and made the first 3/4ths of the year better than they would have been if I was out in West Philly by myself. There was also copious amounts of Dock Street Brewery, Lucky's Chinese American, Parties at the Hobbit Hole, Walks in Clark Park, New World Music record shopping and many a game night including Risk and Wii Sports. It was a strange apartment, but an all around important life experience that I needed to have.
8. 111A Cherry Parke - The thing that was missing in West Philly was the ability to entertain. At the end of the summer, due to rising gas prices, a car that was on it's way out and just an overall better living situation, I moved from West Philly back to the Jersey side to Cherry Hill. A longtime friend and I got a place together and Lord knows it's awesome. Miller Time: The Champagne of Apartments. A new chapter in awesome living situations in the grand tradition of The Sexional and the War Room. Hosting some of the years finest events, WYOB & The First Annual Dr. Carey Drunk Ball Invitational were both awesome times. My room is bigger than my old apartment, I got a new car, a quicker commute to work and a PS3... for free. We won't go into those details online, but let's just say it rules having Rock Band and other fine gaming at our fingertips. I'm still not 100% settled, but I don't know if I will ever be 100% settled. I like moving to new places. If only I had the money to move far away and a job lined up somewhere new, I'd be totally happy with that. But until then, Cherry Parke stays as a great time. Oh and I forgot to mention one of the best nights of the year when a handful of Lasallians joined me for the Cherry Hill Greek Agora and a night of awesome times afterward. I need more of those times.
7. Shore House IV - A friend of mine has made going down the shore beyond just a vacation, but a cult like pilgrimage. It's a bit strange how serious he takes it, but this was a great time nonetheless. It was the launching pad for some new friendships and a just all around...interesting... experience. Interesting enough that Shore House V is in the works and I should be there for yet another glorious and relaxing week. I brought down a case of Cane, made stuffed burgers, ate steaks, drank too much and didn't get as much beach time as I would have liked to. Best moment: The first night down, the founder and I head to the beach, find two lawn chairs empty by the beach late at night and we crack open a Cane, down the delish brew and take in the cool weather and late night sites. Zen moment, indeed.
6. Barack Obama - Let's be honest- it is nothing short of amazing that two elections in a row, this country elected in one of the worst presidents in history and now they elect someone like Barack Obama. Maybe he isn't the greatest candidate ever. Maybe he isn't experienced enough. Maybe he will be a terrible president. But let's be real... Obama brings something to this country that it desperately needed: A new face and a competent one. As much as I will miss Bush for moments like this:
It's just time to get something different. Think about what was going on in this country 45 years ago. Do you think a man named Barack Obama would be President? Not a chance. His overwhelming success alone is something to admire and hopefully he can do good things while in office. Why is this so important? I felt happy to be an American for the first time since being a naive little kid who just loves America because it meant baseball, apple pie and fireworks.
5. Disc Golf - My life has gotten stagnant in the ways of physical activity. In fact, it's sad how little I get out and do. 2009 is hoping to change that. However, one activity that brought me copious amounts of joy this year as Disc Golf. Going to Fairmount Park on a beautiful day and tossing the disk through the course with various friends was nothing short of amazing. On Cinco De Mayo, rocked a Corona or two, other times a straight up Hurricane 40. There were genius moments were complete strangers offered stromboli or a cold one and some days I even played like a pro. Disc Golf will continue into this year with hopefully a day trip or two to some new courses in the Tri-State area. I hope to get good enough and hope to maybe even return to Ultimate Frisbee this summer, but that depends on work and if I can get out early on Monday or Wednesdays. Regardless, I hope the good times associated with the disc continue into 2009.
4. JCVD - The sleeper hit of the year was easily one of the most unique cinema experiences I've been to since Grindhouse. When I first saw the trailer, I knew something magical was to come of it. A movie about an actor played by the actor that is more of a satire on Hollywood stardom then about Jean-Claude Van Damme, JCVD really was a fantastic film. Filled with laughs, heart-wrenching moments and a truly terrific performance from the titular muscles, I didn't have a better time at the theater all year then during this film. Even The Dark Knight, which was also a great film, couldn't live up to the subdued hype that JCVD brought me.
3. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly - Although this film was from 2007, it's message and brilliance first graced me in 2008. The story of a man with "locked in" syndrome who was still able to think and imagine and feel he was living a fruitful life whiel completely paralized is an amazing experience. The message of hope this story delivers is impressive. I also read the memoirs of the same name and was equally touched by its simplicity and it's message. In a year of roller-coaster emotions between family situations and my own personal life, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly was something that shone like a light in the darkness.
2. Snuff Box - WHISKAAAAAAAY! BBC TV shows in general have been the underdog hit in 2008. But Snuff Box with it's sheer absurdity had the most lasting power of any of them. All the moments on this list have been amplified in greatness thanks to Snuff Box. From the Shore House to HARUMPH to the #1, nothing would be as amazingly hilarious without the greatness that Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher exuted in the small 6 episode series.
1. Karaoke @ National Mechanics - Karaoke as a weekly event was the one escape from the tumultuos year that I had. Getting out with my friends, singing songs, meeting a ton of new awesome people and rocking the whiskey and good times was nothing short of perfection. Tuesday night is a random night, but luckily my job gets me a day off during the week. With Wednesdays perpetually off, Tuesday is the new Friday. National Mechanics is also just a brilliant place filled with friendly faces, great food and awesome beer selections. Without this weekly sojourn, whether it was by bike from West Philly or by PATCO from Cherry Hill, I think 2008 would have sufficently sucked. Thankfully it hasn't. Can't wait to return.
Onward to 2009!!!!!!!!!