I turned 40 in 2011, which means, at least optimistically speaking, I reached the middle of my life during these last twelve months...which means I should probably stop using "like" as a rejoinder in most of my sentences, but, alas, like, there's still a 16 year old boy alive and well in this skin. This was a fairly epic year, all things considering. It was the first year of my life where I didn't have a living parent. It was the first year of my life that included a visit from a Knievel (Robbie, alas...though I'm gonna try to contact Evel on the Ouija tonight, just to see if my luck can strike twice). It was the first year of my life that included less than 30 digested Pop Tarts. These are not good things or bad things, just things, as it happens. Here, however, are a few of my favorite things from 2011:
Favorite Book Released in 2011: The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar. I reviewed it here if you want to see me getting all fan boy on it.
Favorite Book Someone Gave Me In The Last Few Weeks: One of my students, upon her graduation, gave me a signed copy of Reading & Writing by Robertson Davies (who doesn't sign many books anymore, on account of his death) and I have been reading little bits and pieces of it over and over again ever since.
Favorite Book I Should Have Read Last Year But Read This Year Instead And Then Lugged Around With Me All Over The LA Times Festival Of Book In Hopes Of Getting It Signed By The Author, Except I Didn't Know What He Looked Like, So, Yeah, It Didn't Get Signed, Which Is Probably Good Because I Would Have Made An Ass Out Of Myself During The Process Because I Loved The Book Like, Totally, A Lot: Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. There it is.
Favorite Song of 2011: The song I listened to the most in 2011 wasn't a new song...it was actually a song released in 1984 and has been one of my favorites since about, well, 1984: "Unsatisfied" by The Replacements
It was actually a pretty satisfying year, but for some reason this song was on repeat for most of it.
Favorite Movies 2011: I saw a lot of movies in 2011. A lot of them sucked. That said, I really liked Moneyball -- I'm a huge A's fan, so I knew I was going to love that, so I probably enjoyed that one the most, because, well, there was a lot of green and gold in it and I like sparkly colors -- but the movie that moved me the most was, by far, The Descendants. I also really liked The Artist, Midnight in Paris, Bridesmaids, The Ides of March and, if I'd seen it, I probably would have really liked Drive. But, yeah, I didn't see it. If it makes up for it, I saw The Town about 20 times this year, so I'll probably see Drive 20 times next year. :
Favorite Movie I Saw In 2011 That Didn't Come Out In 2011: For some reason, I didn't see The Lives of Others when it was originally released in 2006, but I absolutely loved it. One of the most compelling films I've ever seen.
Favorite Documentary of 2011: It actually came out in 2010, but I watched Restrepo this year, in January, actually...and then re-watched it three or four more times.
Favorite TV Show I Should Really Hate But, For Reasons Unexplained, And Probably Related To Some Deep Emotional Problems, Absolutely Can Not Stop Watching: The first time I saw "Storage Wars" was during a prolonged head cold that nearly killed me this summer -- this is not an exaggeration: I passed out inside of a hotel and someone caught me before I tumbled to me death down into a marble fountain -- and I have now seen every single episode about nine times. I follow the "stars" of the show on Twitter and somehow find myself reading their sub-literate tweets (this is not an exaggeration, either, these dudes can not spell) and buying into the made-for-TV feuds. I also had the following conversation with my wife Wendy:
Me: If these dumb fucks can make all this money bidding on storage units, imagine how much I could make. They have all these auctions listed online. Imagine the money we could make! I mean, I feel like I could really make some cheddar here.
Wendy: You couldn't make anything, because you're not ever going to go to an auction.
Me: It's possible I could go. There's one coming up in Palm Springs. Retirement communities are basically filled with hidden treasures at these auctions. Like, remember that episode where they all, like, made a shit load of money in Laguna?
Me: Yeah, you remember [I then explain the entire episode to Wendy...] and then that one dude was, like, all "Yuuup!" and then, like, they all made a ton of money.
Me: You don't remember that episode?
Wendy: You're not ever going to a storage auction because I'm not going to let you go.
Me: I'll go with Rob. Rob Roberge will go with me.
Wendy: That's a fantastic idea. You should go with Rob. And then you and Rob should get a little place together with all of your winnings.
Me: I'm just saying, there's gold in these auctions. I could totally make, like, a million dollars. And maybe I could, like, write an essay for Salon or something, so that way if I came up empty, I could still, you know, make a little money on the deal.
Wendy: Why don't you try out for Chopped instead?
Me: Oh, I could dominate on Chopped.
Wendy: You're an idiot.
Favorite Things I Heard Robbie Knievel Say: Speaking of Rob Roberge, the two of us did end up doing something frightfully stupid together: we went and saw Robbie Knievel jump 25 cars...except that, really, he jumped over two Pepsi trucks that were ringed by 23 cars. So, he basically jumped about 50 feet, which was not as death defying as I hoped. It was mostly death-completely-evading. Nevertheless, it was a good time since I was able to hear the Wisdom of Knievel, which I now share with you:
"I'm not a hero. I. Am. Not. A. Hero. You want to know who the real heroes are? The troops." (At no point did anyone state prior to this announcement -- which came before he jumped -- that they believed Robbie Knievel was a hero.)
"I am not the greatest daredevil in the world. I am the SON of the greatest daredevil in the world." (Again, this didn't seem to be a bone of contention to anyone in the audience.)
"I've jumped in every state in the United States, except for seven."
Favorite Piece Of Hate Mail Accusing Me Of Furthering The Liberal Agenda In My Burn Notice Books: This one.
Favorite Conversation I Had With A Crazy Person: I end up talking to a disproportionate amount of insane people by virtue of leaving my house periodically to sell my fictional wares on the streets of America. What I've found is that if you happen to be selling said wares at any kind of festival held in a community space, the number of complete fucking maniacs triples. At this year's West Hollywood Book Festival, however, it was as if someone opened the doors to an asylum and told the patients to find me and report back. Which lead to this absolute clusterfuck of a day.
Favorite Guilty Pleasure: Turns out, I'm a pretty huge Pink fan. I didn't know this. And then I saw this concert she did and I was, like, all, whoa, I like that song. And then, like, I spent an afternoon on Spotify listening to her greatest hits and it turns out I love pretty much all of her top 10 hits and, like, some of her obscure b-side shit, too.
Favorite New Addiction: The salted caramel mocha frappacino. I'm chasing the dragon on that one, people.
Favorite Weird Fucked Up Thing I Saw In Person That I'd Never Seen Before And Never Wish To See Again: A black widow spider eating a snake, followed closely by Robbie Knievel's daughter singing the national anthem.
Favorite Arbitrary Facts About Alexandrea Weis, One Of My 1513 Facebook Friends Who I Don't Know In The Least, Have Never Interacted With And Could Very Well Be Friends With Me On Facebook In Order To Sell My Personal Data To Nigerian Terrorists: 1. Her profile photo is of a raccoon. 2. She apparently wrote something titled To My Senses that her friend Wenona Hulsey was "sooo loving" the day after Christmas. 3. Most of her activity on facebook seems to consist of becoming friends with people with self-published books that these new friends then tell her all about on her page. She's also very diligent about wishing people happy birthday. I will be expecting a message from her on January 10th...or she shall be defriended at once!
Favorite Arbitrary Tweet From Someone Who Follows Me On Twitter: @pollardmkting is an "Internet Marketer, Freight Consultant, Actor, Property Wiz, Life Coach, Fitness Guru, Motorcyclist, World Traveller, Prankster, Fun Seeker, Aussie Rock Fan" -- and I can't tell you how many freight consultants I know who also dabble as life coaches, but it's a lot -- hasn't tweeted since November, but in October he dropped this life bomb on the world: "(ten 2 letter words to live by) If it is to be it is up to me"
Favorite Book I Didn't Actually Read: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I loved all the stuff about, uh, life, and, uh, baseball, but also about how, uhm, in a lot of ways, life is a constant struggle to keep the count even. Sometimes, love (and life) is also just an infield fly rule, if you know what I'm saying. [It should be noted that my favorite book I didn't read last year was Matterhorn, so there's a good chance next year at this time I'll be talking about how great this book actually is and will actually have an informed opinion on the matter.]
Favorite Thing That Almost Happened: I got an email one afternoon from the BBC asking me if I'd be a guest on a show to talk about Jews who eat pork...but then Gaddafi got killed and, well, I got bumped.
Favorite Thing I'm Looking Forward To In 2012: Finishing my new book. I think I'll be done by February. And by February, I mean March.