Thursday, January 1, 2009

So Long, 2008

Happy 2009 everyone. I'm glad to see 2008 disappear in the rear view mirror although it brought mixed blessings. Here are some of the good things.

PLACE - My favorite place in 2008 was Manhattan. Of course, I didn't go many places last year but even if had, I doubt if any other location would have been able to match the sights and sounds and smells and energy of New York City. We stayed at the Broadway Millennium Hotel on Times Square where huge neon signs flash in all directions and masses of people crowd the sidewalks and cabs and buses and cars cram the streets. We ate wonderful steak at an Irish pub, then fantastic beef brisket at a barbeque place and then an 8" high corned beef on rye at a deli - all within a couple blocks of one another, and that was just the merest sampling of what was available. We took a bus trip around this island where there are more recognizable landmarks per block than any other place in the world including Central Park and Chinatown and Tiffany's and St Patrick's Cathedral and the site of the World Trade Center and Rockefeller Center and the Trump Towers and Greenwich Village and Wall Street and the theaters of Broadway and.....I could go on and on. We took a boat trip around the harbor to salute the Statue of Liberty, see the history of Ellis Island and motor under the Brooklyn Bridge. A special place in America, New York, and if you've never been, you need to experience it at least once.

THINGS - Books. I've always been an avid reader but I went on a reading binge this year. I found new authors to love such as Iain Banks and David Fulmer and Richard Montanari and Declan Hughes and Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris - and I re-fell in love with some old friends like Ed McBain and Lawrence Block and Robert Crais and John Sandford. I've only just discovered Jack Higgins' Sean Dillon. Jack and Sean have been around for years and I don't know why I never read the series but, on the other hand, it is delicious to stumble upon a character and see that there are at least 15 books waiting for you to come claim them.

ENTERTAINMENT - Of course, it was NASCAR which took over my whole second half of 2008. I couldn't wait for the weekends and the races and now I can't wait for them to come again once the off-season is over and they re-start in February. My goal for 2009 is to go to the Brickyard and see the sleek machines and hear the roar of the engines and feel the spectacle up close and personal.

NEW PERSON - Jimmie Johnson, naturally. My hope is to see him make NASCAR history by winning four in a row.

BIGGEST PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT - Completing two novels (biggest personal achievement of 2009 would be selling them).

LUCKIEST MOMENT - Winning $1,000 on a 50 cent slot machine at the Trump Casino at Atlantic City, thus making my vacation oh-so-much more pleasant.

MOST SATISFYING - Finding attorneys for some people who badly needed representation to give them equal access to our legal system - to divorce an abusive spouse or retain custody of their children or escape a harassing creditor.

BEST NEW BAND - Whiskey Falls with Flynnville Train close behind.

And here are the not-so-good things about 2008.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT - Hillary not winning the Democratic primary. I voted for Barack Obama and I hope for the country's sake that he's half as good as many of his supporters think he is but I can't warm to him and that may be due to the tactics that were used to get him to the White House.

WORST DEVELOPMENT - The economy. It seemed clear to me what would happen if we elected Bush (twice). I predicted something like this back in 2000. That's partly because the Republicans always do the same things with the same results. They lower taxes, run up the deficit, dispense with the regulations that keep industry's honchos honest while trying to undermine labor. Add to that, billions for a war we shouldn't have fought and couldn't afford and it was a recipe for economic disaster. Why is it that an ignorant little secretary in Indiana can see this and the financial and political gurus can't?

SECOND WORST DECISION BY VOTERS - NASCAR media voting Carl Edwards as Driver of the Year.

MOVIE - I'm ashamed to say I only saw a single movie in 2008 and it wasn't very good. In fact, I don't even remember the name of it.

BIGGEST PERSONAL FAILURE - I bought a new digital camera in 2008. Excited about the possibility of finally being able to take decent pictures, I even signed up for a Photography class - and promptly flunked out. Demoralized, I gave up on using the camera for its intended purpose although I take it out and admire it every now and then.

LEAST SATISFYING - not being able to find attorneys for people who desperately needed legal representation to have equal justice under the law.