Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Evaluating last year’s New Year’s resolutions

On January 1, 2010, I posted a list of resolutions here. How did I do? Let's see.

Resolution: Learn a lot about tax policy, in reasonably fine detail
Progress: Pretty decent. What is “reasonably fine detail”? I certainly have more to learn. But I have learned a great deal about tax policy and fiscal policy generally in the past year.

Resolution: Read more books
Progress: Good! Joining a book club helped. Even outside of the book club, I read a decent amount of novels and nonfiction books this year. This one was a success.

Resolution: Drink less alcohol
Progress: Bad, then good, then bad, then good. Mixed.

Resolution: Get more freelance work
Progress: Poor. This will be a resolution for 2011, again.

Resolution: Make more audio stories
Progress: Poor, and I will have this resolution again in 2011. But the asterisk here is that I had a lot of fun podcasting in 2010, on the Insophisticate and for a couple of months on the Daily Herald Politics Podcast as well. So while I failed to make audio stories, I did enjoy audio broadcasting.

Resolution: Take more and better photographs
Progress: Sort of poor to mixed. I was taking some in the early part of the year, but largely stopped after my (fairly nice) work camera was stolen and all I had to take pictures with was the iphone camera.

Resolution: Use more pretentious French, German and Latin phrases in everyday speech. I already use some, but I believe I could use more.
Progress: Pretty good! Weltschmerz, Weltanschauung, Gotterdammerung, ceteris paribus, l’esprit d’escalier -- I have used them all and more!

Resolution: Lose weight
Progress: This one was going really badly, but just in the last month I’ve seen actual progress in the right direction. I’ve lost nearly 10 pounds since joining Weight Watchers online last month, and I am enjoying it.

Resolution: Wear a tie underneath sweaters
Progress: Done. Piece of cake. Actually my fashion choices lately have swung away from wearing ties underneath sweaters. But it’s still a weapon in my arsenal.

Resolution: Write a novel. (Seriously.)
Progess: Stalled. But after I stopped working on the novel -- which I may still return to! -- I started working on these very short stories that I have been really enjoying writing. Have even submitted some to literary magazines. So while I haven’t written a novel, I have been writing fiction regularly again, which pleases me.

Overall grades: 4 resolutions accomplished (taxes, reading, language, ties). 3 with mixed results (drinking, photographs, weight). 3 failures (freelance, novel, audio stories) -- but 2 of those (novel, audio stories) have asterisks. In my view only 1 (freelance) is an absolute unmitigated failure.

I can live with this.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Robert Mentzer's Certified Finest Musicks and Things, 2010 (Pt. II)

The saga continues...

Viral Videos

5. Tik Tok Star Trek
4. Phil Davison for Stark County Treasurer
3. Bed Intruder
2. Miracles
1. Trololo

Other video entertainment that was very good:
Nike World Cup commercial
People dropping cameras
Broken Bells video with Christina Hendricks as a cyborg

Best Facebook thread on my Facebook page:
"I need a catchphrase."

One of the funnest things I did:
Livetweeting the Lady Antebellum concert

Best poster:

Best blog posts by me

"Unified theory of Ke$ha," January 26, 2010

"Favorite tattoos," Feb. 26, 2010

"A shadow narrative of a 1960s when crooners were still king," April 13, 2010

"Mike Allen's productive weirdness," April 25, 2010

"Sleep-talking, May 23," May 23, 2010

"This was done by a 10-year-old autistic boy I met," June 9, 2010

"Live from inside the beating heart of popular American music," August 4, 2010

"Travel diary," November 21, 2010

My top 11 tweets of 2010:
Here here here here here here here here here here here.

Best magazine stories:

"Roger Ebert: The Essential Man," Chris Jones, Esquire

"The Mark of a Masterpiece," David Grann, The New Yorker

"Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds," Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair

"The Man the White House Wakes Up To," Mark Leibovich, New York Times Magazine

"V-va-va-voom!" Tad Friend, New Yorker

"Man of Many Hats," Kelefa Sanneh, New Yorker

"The Trouble with Maya," Nitsuh Abebe, Pitchfork

"Come Party with Lady Gaga," Caitlin Moran, The Sunday Times

DJ Screw remembrance," Jace Clayton, Frieze Magazine

Friday, December 24, 2010

Robert Mentzer's Certified Finest Musicks and Things, 2010 (Pt. I)


25. "Trillionaire," Bun-B
24. "Fuck You," Cee-Lo
23. "Queen of Lower Chelsea," Gaslight Anthem
22. "Roman's Revenge," Nicki Minaj feat. Eminem
21. "Written in Reverse," Spoon
20. "Love the Way You Lie," Eminem feat. Rihanna
19. "Trap Talk," Gucci Mane
18. "I Can't Feel," Matthew Dear
17. "Office Muzik," Lil Wayne/Theme song to "The Office" (Clockwork mash-up)
16. "Mine," Taylor Swift
15. "Hurricane J," The Hold Steady
14. "Laredo," Band of Horses
13. "What's My Name?" Rihanna feat. Drake
12. "Teenage Dream," Katy Perry
11. "The Ghost Inside," Broken Bells
10. "Pop the Trunk," Yelawolf
9. "All I Want," LCD Soundsystem
8. "Fo Yo Sorrows," Big Boi feat. George Clinton, Too $hort and Sam Chris
7. "Tik Tok," Ke$ha
6. "Monster," Kanye West feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj
5. "Rill Rill," Sleigh Bells
4. "Dancing on My Own," Robyn
3. "Shutterbugg," Big Boi
2. "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
1. "Runaway," Kanye West


15. Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

14. Band of Horses, Infinite Arms

13. Matthew Dear, Black City

12. Eminem, Recovery

11. Girl Talk, All Day
Still fun.

10. Rihanna, Loud
The light touch is a nice surprise after the quite dark (though terrific) Rated R last year. Sexy and a lot of fun.

9. Gucci Mane, The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted

8. Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid
A dazzling record, even if it is self-consciously going for "dazzling." It's a romp! She sings, she dances, she mashes genres together. Messy, overreaching, lots of fun.

7. Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me
Weird music tour de force.

6. Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma

5. LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening

4. Robyn, Body Talk

3. Sleigh Bells, Sleigh Bells

2. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

1. Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty
Absolute masterpiece. This album is so flawless that the skits are actually funny, and when is the last time you've said that about a rap record with skits? The beats are marvelously weird ("General Patton" is built on a church choir sample) and the rhymes are crisp like lettuce. Best rap record in years and the best album in any genre of 2010.


As always, my weakest category. I don't see many, and many that I see I don't care for. Also, I have odd tastes. (Also, I haven't seen Waiting for Superman or Inside Job, but given that both seem to be custom-made to fit my interests, I am pretty sure I will love them.) Anyway these movies were terrific this year:

5. Inception
4. Sweetgrass
3. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
1. Exit Through the Gift Shop


5. Wilson by Daniel Clowes
4. The End of Influence by J. Bradford DeLong and Stephen S. Cohen
3. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
1. The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Insophisticate does 2010

Part one here.