Ed Cook of Ralph the Sacred River has his Fifth Annual Ralphies. I have not done this every year, but this year I can indeed offer my top picks for the categories required for the Ralphy.
BEST MOVIE: Like Ed and unlike the rest of humanity I have not seen The Dark Knight so I cannot make that obvious pick, but we have seen a few new movies this year. I like Wall•E but it wasn’t great, certainly not the best that Pixar can do. On the other hand, Bolt was great! So it gets my pick. See my review here.
BEST RECORD: Expanded, of course, to include CDs and downloads. I have been getting back into jazz lately and am rummaging in older artists. I bought Miles Davis Kind of Blue and I like it very much. That is my pick for 2008. A tip, if you have not already discovered this, instead of using iTunes, the dominant online choice for music, check out Amazon. Not only is their music DRM free at a higher bit rate, but it is also 10¢ per song cheaper (on average). They also have daily and weekly specials, I got 10,000 Maniacs In My Tribe the entire album for $1.99 last week. That’s pretty good! Amazon Music.
BEST BOOK (FICTION): I have been reading from my BlackBerry which means I am either reading out of print works, those available for download, or those distributed freely. An author I discovered whose works are available with all of the above is Cory Doctorow. He is a tech writer and founder of Boing Boing. I mentioned (too brief to call them reviews) Doctorow’s Little Brother, a juvenile title, and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom this past year. I give the nod to the latter as my pick for 2008. It is a great sci-fi/future novel with, like all of Doctorow’s stuff, a good bit of social commentary.
BOOK BOOK (NONFICTION): This one is always harder for me because I am either reading administrative type works (leadership, etc.) that I usually don’t find very engaging or academic works specific to my field (and lately not too many of those either). This year, however, I have been the happy recipient of two works by Philip Jenkins. That is to say, Philip wrote them and gave them to me, a perk of having this great scholar and witty gentleman as a colleague and fellow parishioner. His latest, The Lost History of Christianity is shaping up to be very good, so that is my recommendation. The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–and How It Died
I should also mention a work I look forward to reading over break written by my old college friend Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. It looks to be very good and knowing Andy it will be very intelligent and engaging.
BEST TV SHOW: Without a doubt it has to be Chuck! We watched the first episode last year and never had time to see the rest of the series (it comes on at 8pm on Mondays). In the past year, however, Hulu has been created, allowing me to watch old episodes in HD! So, while the first season is no longer up, but each week we are able to watch the latest episode. The show is about a smart guy who works at “Buy More” as part of the “nerd herd” and ends up being an unlikely secret agent. I will simply add that it is just the right amount of camp/humor and drama to make it a weekly highlight for us.
UPDATE: Mark Goodacre’s list reminds me of (duh!) Doctor Who. It is of course one of my all time favorite shows and I am a big fan of Tennant. I think my lapse in memory has to be that I only get to watch it in a very haphazard manner. I no longer have a DVR and there is no easy online access for those of us outside of the UK. (I should also add that, like Mark and Viola, my wife and I discovered Gavin and Stacey this year on BBC America. Hmm. no wonder I think Mark is such a good guy! He has great taste.) So, if you all do not mind, please allow me to add a strong runner up: Doctor Who.
Those are my picks, I look forward to reading yours!