Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fourth Annual Ralphies

Ah, the Ralphies. This year, for me, has been a year of retrenchment, retreat, and hunkering down to work, and I don't feel that I've been in a lot of touch with the outside world of movies, books, etc. On the other hand, that's never stopped me before, has it? So, on with the highly idiosyncratic awards. I expect all of you to follow suit. Yes, you too. Don't try to hide behind that sign. I see you.

BEST MOVIE: Actually, there are still of lot of movies I'd like to see that I haven't. They'll have to wait until they show up on the Netflix queue. Of the movies we actually got out to see, the best and most thoughtful was probably The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen). However, the one I liked the best was The Simpsons Movie. So Homer gets the Ralphie this year. Woo-hoo!

BEST RECORD: A couple of my favorite bands had new records this year — the Fiery Furnaces with Widow City and The National with Boxer. Good stuff, but my socks remained on my feet, if you know what I mean. Like other baby boomers, I really enjoyed Raising Sand with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. And, I spent a lot of time catching up with records from the past, and the best record I listened to this year (and one of the best ever) is Shoot Out the Lights by Richard and Linda Thompson (1982). But the Ralphie has to go to a record from 2007 and this year it goes to Icky Thump by the White Stripes. Loud, messy, and good.

BEST BOOK (FICTION): Again, it was a year of reading old favorites and not reading a lot of new stuff. Besides the old favorites, I did read a few novels by Charles Portis, Jay MacInerny, and Doug Coupland. But the only 2007 fiction book I read is a worthy winner of a Ralphie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The whole series is a great achievement, and will no doubt prove to be an enduring classic.

BEST BOOK (NON-FICTION): I don't think I actually read a non-fiction book published this year. However, the Ralphie for Best Non-Fiction that I did read goes to Baruch Halpern's David's Secret Demons (2000). It elevated the whole question of minimalism vs. maximalism to a new plateau of sophistication and made both sides look shallow by its very erudition. (This achievement is not lessened by the fact that Halpern is plainly and perversely wrong in many of his exegetical judgments.)

BEST TV SHOW: My usual favorites are all on the list: The Office, Lost and the Fox Sunday night animated lineup. The Office wound up its 3rd season in a blaze of glory, and then stumbled in its 4th season, at least what we've seen so far. When Pam and Jim got together, the air just seemed to go out of the series. The only shows that consistently made me laugh out loud were Family Guy and 30 Rock. But I'm giving the Ralphie to Lost for a great story, compelling acting, and for featuring the hero of demented 50-something guys everywhere, Terry O'Quinn as Locke.

That's it for this year, folks. If I didn't link to something, just Google it, will ya, or look it up on Wikipedia. Do I have to do everything? Sheesh.


Anonymous said...

I would vote for HEROES as my favorite tv series, and just about anything by Over the Rhine in music.


solarblogger said...

My local library actually has the Halpern book. I'll take a look. Thanks for the recommendation.

TheCrankyProfessor said...

A Charles Portis novel or two cures many ills. My father and I quote stray lines from True Grit to each other all the time!

Wes said...


Thanks for a year of thought-provoking writing!


Fascinating; I totally agree with you. I like Lost very much, but feel Heroes had a very good season and a half this year.

And I have to give Over the Rhine my nod for band of the year with Snow Angels (probably released last year, oh well) and The Trumpet Child. I highly recommend them.

- Wes

Anonymous said...


I have both Snow Angels and The Trumpet Child on my (rapidly antiquated) iPod.

And, I see you are a Dresden Files fan - so am I! If you haven't gotten to the "frozen turkey from the sky", be sure to empty your bladder beforehand!


donnadb said...

Sorry for the misinformation about the Ralphies over at my place. I don't know where I got that idea last year ... should have been obvious, indeed. (Maybe some other participant implied it.) Anyway, consider it corrected in future versions, and thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I'll go for only the best movies.