Wednesday, December 17, 2008


While my efforts to establish a regular writing schedule have largely proven to be an exercise in futility (this entry alone took me two weeks to pound out), it doesn't mean I'm above de rigueur blogospheric hackery. "Best of" lists aren't all that fun unless you're looking for a recommendation, and to be honest, I didn't consume enough media to justify advising anyone of the things on which they should or should not be spending their time and disposable income. Nevertheless, here are a few things for which I'll remember 2008.

MOVIE: The Dark Knight

It wasn't the best movie I saw this year, but as far as its place here is concerned, it didn't have to be. Its status was cemented well in advance by the countless daily hours and minutes spent during the year-plus preceding the film's release breathlessly scouring /film and various message boards for new info, navigating around the film's expansive backlot at Washington and Franklin (the trailers from which are still visible via Google Maps's satellite view) while en route to and from my internship at WCKG in the summer of '07, and, well, sheer faith - not only in the immaculately assembled cast, but also in a man who's come to establish himself as one of his generation's true auteurs, director Christopher Nolan.

Faith well earned, as it would turn out, as the Batman Begins sequel comes close to equaling the original in narrative while far exceeding it in breakneck thrills and viewer enchantment. Whether you saw it in IMAX (as I may have done at July 18th at 3:10am - oofffffff), on a newly minted Blu-Ray disc, or via some shoemaker's shaky handheld cam in the South Pacific, the effect was likely the same - unmitigated badassery.

Honorable mention: No Country For Old Men, Into the Wild, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Sunshine, Wall-E, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Frost/Nixon

RADIO PROGRAM: Boers & Bernstein

I had a paragraph written about the dearth of good sports radio and the rampant homerism and Chicagocentric attitudes that pervades most shows in the city, but I can't anyone who'd enjoy B&B who doesn't already listen. It's the most intelligent and entertaining radio show in the city (country?) and a must-listen for anyone who considers themselves an informed fan.

WEBSITE: Sports Forum

There's a social aversion to message boards, one of which I was oblivious until I started frequenting the boards at AP in public. It's more than a little ironic that at a time when so many aspects of our social lives have migrated to the web, it's still considered even a little odd to commiserate with peers with whom you've never spoken in real life.

Then again, the name of the site could have something to do with it. What started off as my go-to source for music news (the name's a little misleading - they cover just about everything) when I was prepping for DJ shifts at WONC has evolved into my go-to site for...well, just about everything. Or at the very least, reacting to everything. Given the volume of visitors received by the site and the relatively high knowledge base of these keen enough to navigate to the sports forum of a music website, coupled with the fact that 99% of users fall within the 18-24 demo, it makes for a pretty close-knit online community.

Honorable mention: Lifehacker, Joe Posnanski's Blog, Chicagoist, PostSecret, MLB Trade Rumors, Marginal Revolution

TV SHOW: Californication

Californication would appear, at first glance, to be a show gleefully forgoing substance in favor of style. There's no denying it has its moments of indulgence, but underlying the frequently chronicled sex and drug addictions of the show's listless writer-protagonist Hank Moody (David Duchovny), it really is a show with a heart.

The fact that Hank, in spite of his brusque demeanor and egocentric nature, comes across as sympathetic is a credit to not just the acting prowess of the former X-Files star (who may not have had to dig all that deep to get into character) but also to a superb writing staff and a network in Showtime with a burgeoning reputation as a developer of top-notch original programming. 15-year old Madeleine Martin is delightful as Hank's emotionally distant adolescent daughter. The first season is available on DVD and more than worth a purchase.