The year ends in a matter of a couple of weeks, and so I thought I would start a new tradition here at GO INSIDE Magazine by writing about what I felt were the best things in certain areas. The disclaimer of course being that this is just my own opinion, and you are free to think that I have the worst taste in whichever subject matter since (you can insert your own person with bad taste here.) After all, I am not saying that these are the best of the year, these just happen to be the ones I have as my favorites.

Music – New Album
I actually didn’t get all that many new albums this year – not all that many things really interested me. I was intrigued and fascinated by what I heard about the Radiohead album Hail to the Thief for months before the album was released. In all of the reviews I read about the album I don’t think I read a single thing that was less than glowing in its praise for it. I would like to add to that praise by saying that this was by far my favorite album of the year. I would bet that it is going to be on most top lists of the year. What you won’t hear from most people writing about the album is a little something about the beginning of the album. I am sure that many people have done it before, and that many people will do it in the future, but at the beginning of the first song – there is the sound of the guitar being plugged in. It’s not perfectly well plugged in and so makes a sort of a hesitant sound, almost as if the guitar isn’t sure it wants to be plugged in for this phenomenal album. As if to say, you would have me be the guitar to play on this album? What have I done to deserve such lovely music?

The guitar, of course, is worthy of being on the album, as it was deemed so by kind Mr. Thom Yorke, or whomever might have been in charge of selecting the instruments. The sound that is made when the plug goes into the amplifier is fairly distinct. To use it for the purpose of making music would seem to be quite a novelty, but this is not the first time such a thing has been done. For, lo, my very own brother, Michael Davidescu has made use of this very same sound in a number of his own compositions that date back a good number of years. My brother, by the way, is quite a talented musician. I don’t think I am at all biased in writing that.

The album represents a kind of anger that I find difficult to describe in words other than it is the kind of anger that wouldn’t necessarily get a person thrown out of a bar due to bottles being smashed over heads so much as bring about attention to the fact that it is there. It is not a screaming, yelling, fist-fighting kind of anger, but rather a solemn face, the kind that tells you the state of affairs as they really are only to disappear off somewhere, perhaps to a pub to have a pint of something. Maybe a Boddington’s. I’m not too familiar with what solemn-faced men are drinking these days.

Secondly, in terms of musical release, I would like to commend Pearl Jam for once again releasing every single one of their tour dates, every flaw and all, on cd for anyone to purchase. Granted, this time it wasn’t nearly as easy as in 2000 when one could purchase the shows either online or in stores, but it was certainly a pleasure to be able to purchase a concert and then to be able to listen to in mp3 format only a day or so after the concert itself. I can imagine that there will be other live acts that have shows which are distinguishable from one another (from what I understand, many bands perform the same concert every single night of the tour – how… repetitive.) I particularly was pleased with the Japan tour and have all five shows of that – many songs that are rarely played live were pulled out for this small tour. The only negative thing about this all was the fact that the shows were only available for a limited time. Of course, for me the limited time happened to coincide with a time in which I was not working. However, I decided to wisely take the advice of a friend of mine, one Channa Esther of Providence, RI (the great state from which the incredibly hilarious Family Guy television show came from) – she asked me whether it was really necessary for me to have all of the shows or if this was just yet another thing that I collected despite there not really being a pressing need for it. So I will admit it here. You were right, Channa Esther. It was better that I only got a few of them, and I’m just as happy for it (as is my bank account.)

Television
As far as first run television programs go, I have to say that the one that I always look forward to is the WB’s Gilmore Girls. I first started really watching the show when I was dating a girl who lived in Ohio (which, if I ran the world, would be called the considerably more polite Ohio Gozaimasu. But let us not get off on that side track. I really appreciated the humor of the show. Unfortunately, that year (as was the case for most of the year before) I was basically unable to watch television, as I did not own one and did not have any friends who really cared all that much about watching television. The Gilmore Girls, for those who are not in the know, is about a mother in her early thirties with a daughter who at this point in the show is starting life as a freshman at Yale University. Watching this show made me visit Yale’s Web Site so that I could see, out of curiosity, their graduate studies programs. The thought had crossed my mind that perhaps I should go for a Masters degree in Literature or something along those lines. I could almost just imagine the sound of the people in the Admissions department laughing when they would see my application, and tearing it up.

This show is incredible on a number of levels. For one, I feel as though I can connect to, or even relate to a few of the characters to some extent. Then there is the ever-present wit in the dialogue. One of the best Web Sites on the show, Gilmore-girls.net, has literally pages dedicated to great quotations and references that the show makes. How many television programs do you know of which make reference to Antonio Gaudi, Ricky Ricardo, Eisenhower, and Queen Esther in the span of an hour?

It is also worth mentioning that this year, The Practice and Boston Public both took fairly strong steps in the casting department. Not surprisingly, both shows are produced by television genius David E. Kelly. In the case of The Practice, many of the cast was cut and James Spader was brought on as Alan Shore. Mr. Shore being a bit more like Ally McBeal‘s Richard Fish than, say, John Cage. He says things which most decent men would not say and somehow we laugh when he says them. Perhaps this is because we are just too shocked to react in any other way. Either way, it makes for good television. Boston Public‘s made a good move by bringing on Dennis Miller, albeit for only a three-episode arc. As someone who was assigned to be a school teacher rather than go to prison, he did fairly well in inspiring people to be interested in mathematics. He also proved to be quite a sympathetic character.

It could also be worth mentioning that I have been watching lately, on the advice of a friend of mine from Washington, new episodes of Saturday Night Live. Now, it has been so long since I stopped watching Saturday Night Live that I honestly don’t remember when it was that I stopped. What I have found in watching the new episodes is that out of one and a half hours of recording (I see it on my friend Joe’s DVR) I get about twenty minutes worth of good material. For one, there’s quite a bit of advertising. Secondly, it seems that most of the musical guests are horrendous at best. Pink? Britney spears? Maybe I just have very unusual taste in music, but when are we ever going to see a band like The Flaming Lips, or The White Stripes on the show? I think the
best part of the show is the Weekend Update, which now features Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey. Jimmy, if you don’t know, is apparently a dreamboat that the majority of American women are secretly in love with. Ask around. I know I can’t compete with that.

Film
Where do I even begin with film? I suppose that I could simply start by stating what films I saw in the theater this year, to give you an idea of how hard it could be to pick only a few to say that were my favorites. This year I saw (in the theater) the following: The Lion King (IMAX – with added scenes), Talk To Her, The Hours, Chicago, Bulletproof Monk, The Matrix: Reloaded, Bend it like Beckham, The Housekeeper, American Wedding, The Magdelene Sisters, Camp, American Splendor, Anything Else, and The Matrix: Revolutions. After a bit of consideration, I would have to say that my favorite films that I saw of the year were American Splendor, Anything Else, and Bend it like Beckham. I was fond of each of the films for different reasons.

American Splendor I became aware of through previews that ran in the Lincoln Plaza Cinema. A lot of the films I saw this year were there, and thus the abundance of more independent films that you have on the list. I then found out that Harvey Pekar, the author of the comic book American Splendor, upon which the film was based, was going to be speaking at a Barnes and Noble and signing a collection of the comics. To say the least, I was excited. I went to see him shortly after a good sushi dinner and waited in a lengthy line to get my book signed. Much to my pleasure, it wasn’t just he who was signing the book – his adopted daughter and wife were also signing. This event made me want to see the film all that much more. When I finally got to see the film I was quite happy that I had gone out to see it. The fact that Pekar made such a good connection with comic artist Robert Crumb speaks volumes about him, I think. This is one film that should be in the library of every person who claims to love film.

Anything Else. “It’s like anything else,” the line from the film, is appropriate as the title of the film as well. I wholeheartedly disagreed with the many critics of the film who said some fairly nasty things about it. I am starting to wonder about the value of critics who don’t see beyond their perception of the character of the director and don’t even touch upon the film itself. I would like to see Woody Allen do some more serious films in the future, perhaps along the lines of Crimes in Misdemeanors, but for now, the comedies he has been writing have kept me laughing.

Bend it like Beckham was set to be the only theater film I was to see this year with Indian characters being in the major characters were it not for the fact that I am hopefully going to be going tomorrow night to see Kal Ho Naa Ho, which has one of my favorite actors in it. (He was previously in one of my favorite films of all time, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) I will start by saying that I absolutely did not like how this film ended. The people that would have gotten together at the end would have been just a bit different if I had been at the helm of the film. Other than that, the film was exquisitely funny and moved along very nicely, not getting stale at any point.

Conclusion
There are other favorites, but I don’t want to take up gigabytes praising them when you surely have more important things to read, like the New York Review of Books. I can briefly say that I loved The Gap and Banana Republic this year, and was well treated at every Starbucks I went to. There are more favorites to come next year.

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