Saturday, January 09, 2010

I guess we've agreed to call this "Twenty Ten"?

There has been a surge of "Best 10 X of the Decade" lists floating around.  I like lists, and I like stuff, and I felt generally good about the past decade, so here are some of my choices.

Note: These should be understood as my personal, subjective favorites.  In other words, these are the ones I enjoyed the most, not necessarily those that are "best".  Also, just picking 10 is hard enough, ordering is impossible, so don't read anything into the particular ordering here.  I used numbers just because that's an easy way for me to make sure I have 10 items.

Top 10 Movies:
1. Fellowship of the Rings
2. The Two Towers
3. Return of the King
4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5. Waking Life
6. Pan's Labyrinth
7. Wet Hot American Summer
8. Bowling for Columbine
9. Primer
10. Spirited Away
If I'm allowed to do Lord of the Rings as 1 movie, then I'll substitute "A History of Violence" and "Zodiac" as my other two.
I felt like I had to put a comedy on here, and WHAS was on the top of my mind.  The movie itself is funny, but even more than that, it epitomizes the kind of humor that I've enjoyed most this decade: the playing-it-straight-while-embracing-absurdity mode, making deliberately bad art while showing that you, the creator, recognize that it's bad and giving the viewer encouragement to laugh.  On television, Garth Merenghi's Darkplace is a great example of the type.
Michael Moore has become declasse, but I still think that Bowling is a great movie.  Everything Moore does has become incredibly politicized, so it's easy to overlook the fact that this is his least partisan, least polemical, most curious movie ever.  Contrary to popular belief, he doesn't demonize the NRA or our lax gun control laws, sanely pointing out that countries like Switzerland and Canada have even higher gun ownership rates and nowhere near our murder problem.  Instead, Moore is looking for something subtle, trying to find the piece of the American psyche that makes us hurt one another so much.  He doesn't find it, but this movie is a great place to look.
It's no coincidence that most of my movies are from earlier in the decade.  I just haven't seen that many movies lately.

Top 10 Books:
1. Anathem
2. The Baroque Cycle
3. The Raw Shark Texts
4. The Tipping Point
5. Kafka on the Shore
6. A Song of Ice and Fire
7. Pastoralia
8. Going Postal
9.Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
10. What to Eat
It may seem cheap to do The Baroque Cycle as one book, especially when I did Lord of the Rings as three movies.  I don't have a great excuse for why, though I'll point out that Stephenson wrote the entire manuscript (in longhand!  on parchment!) at once.
Ditto ASoIaF.  I really should pick one, but it's all one big serial.  The latter books are generally cooler, but only because of the work done by the earlier books; it's impossible to read them in isolation.  I should just rename this section "Top 10 Books and Series" and stop complaining.

Top 10 Television:
1. Battlestar Galactica
2. Arrested Development
3. Firefly
4. Dexter
5. The Wire
6. Robot Chicken
7. Death Note
8. The Venture Brothers
9. Stella
10. The Daily Show
I agonized a little about putting Lost on here.  If you just look at the best, and ignore most of Season 2 and half of Season 4, then it's one of the best shows of the decade.
Isn't it strange that I like so many TV comedies and so few movie comedies?
I currently like The Colbert Report more than The Daily Show - it tends to be more creative and imaginative.  Still, looking at the work of both shows over the decade, TDS beats it out for quality.  It isn't exaggerating too much to say that the show helped keep me sane in the difficult years from 2001 until 2006.
BSG and The Wire are my favorites of the decade by a wide margin.

10 Worst Events:
1. September 11, 2001
2. November 2004 elections
3. November 2000 elections
4. Abu Ghraib
5. AT&T wiretaps America
6. The government (including Obama!) refuse to punish AT&T for violating the Constitution
7. Laissez faire regulation and bad housing policy leads to the Great Recession
8. Guantanamo imprisons innocents in Kafkaesque charade
9. Enron, Worldcom, and all the other companies that defrauded the little guy while looking out for #1 self-implode, contributing to the first of two totally unnecessary recessions this decade
10. Death of Kurt Vonnegut

10 Personal Highlights:
1. Moving to California
2. Graduating college
3. Working for 4 great software companies and 1 internship
4. Writing my first book
5. Becoming an active hiker and cyclist
6. Learning to cook - well!
7. Traveling in Japan
8. Sticking to my goals
9. Getting paid for things I love to do
10. Keeping in touch with friends from every stage of my life

10 Coolest Tech:
1. Mobile phones (especially with GPS, Internet access, cameras, and more)
2. iPods
3. Digital cameras & camcorders that fit in your shirt pocket
4. PS2/3
5. GMail
6. Google Maps
7. Ubuntu
8. YouTube
9. Wikipedia
10. Roomba
Notes: Think about it.  A tiny, tiny little piece of plastic can hold hundreds of hours of music.  You can buy a robot, for about a week's worth of wages, which will CLEAN YOUR FLOOR FOR YOU.  Are we living in the future or what?I didn't include stuff like biodiesel or solar power - even though those became big deals this decade, the underlying tech has been around for a while.

Top 10 Video Games:
1. GTA San Andreas
2. ICO
3. Dragon Age
4. Baldur's Gate 2
5. Rock Band (+ Guitar Hero, all incarnations)
6. HalfLife 2 + Portal
7. Civilization IV
8. Fall from Heaven 2
9. Katamari Damacy
10. Rez
FFH2 DEFINITELY deserves a separate slot in addition to Civ4.  I must admit that I now play FFH2 far more than the other, but both are great games.
Disclaimer: I only owned a PC and various Sony products through this decade, so no XBOX or N64/GameCube/Wii games are included.

Other notes:
I've been sadly out of the loop on music for most of this decade, so I don't want to hazard a Top 10 list for that.  I'll note that most of what I've been enjoying lately is electronic music, but there's plenty of other great stuff out there.

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