Okay, let me clarify at the beginning that this is my own personal list. Included here are things I did, saw, read, watched, heard etc...Not everything here may have originated in 2008, but this was the first time I became aware of it.
Best Movie (I saw in a movie theater):
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Also the only movie I saw in a theater this year. I saw it twice. Back to back showings. Not because the movie was so fantastic, but because I was so confused. It made a lot more sense the second time. You see, I'm the world's biggest Indiana Jones fan, and I have been waiting for this movie for many (MANY) years. I knew all about it. I knew it would be different, and I was prepared for anything -- so I thought. The film was such a departure from the other movies, that it left me dazed. I must have still had a very confused look on my face when we got home, because my wife sent me back to see the last show of the night, to clear things up. Having now watched it several times on DVD as well I have made my peace with this movie (and I'm even holding out hope for number 5). It's actually a pretty fun movie. It used to be said that The Temple of Doom was the odd man out, in the Indiana Jones saga, but my considered opinion now is that it's Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Best Movie I Saw. Period.
Batman: The Dark Knight.
I just got this movie as a Christmas present, and watched it for the first time Christmas night.
WOW! Everything I've heard about the film was correct. This is not your father's Batman. I loved the first movie (Batman Begins). I love the psychology of the story -- why would a man dress up as a bat, and go out to fight crime? This film picks right up where the last one left off. It's gritty, and dark (ALMOST too dark), and Heath Ledger's performance is a tour de force. I haven't seen such a disturbing villain since Silence of the Lambs. I hope, in the next installments they don't try to bring someone else in as the joker.
The Best Television:
Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympic Games. For the first week of the games, we were glued to the set every night, for every swim. There was a hero, there was drama, there was heart, there were tears, there was comedy, there was inspiration -- everything you want from a good television show. Just like Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, only no one's house got torn down. In fact, I was so inspired that I wrote a letter to our local newspaper, which was subsequently chosen as the letter of the month, which caused the paper to write a little article about me, which was noticed by the wife of my boss, who cut out the article and posted it by the time clock, which subsequently caused many of my co-workers to believe that I had died.
Best Song I Heard:
Little Wonders, by Rob Thomas
This song was around before 2008, but I didn't hear it until last January, on the blog of Pam, my sister-in-law. It's a song from the soundtrack to the movie "Meet the Robinsons." It's about living in the moment, and appreciating all of the wonderful little blessings in our lives that really make up our lives. I came across this song at a point where it felt like the world was coming down, around my ears. It gave me perspective, and it gave me hope. I love this song.
Well, I suppose that some would consider the election of Barak Obama as the best news of the year. But I didn't vote for him -- though I do wish him well. So for me, the best news of the year were the gas prices -- at the end of the year. See, I drive a Ford Bronco, which gets about twelve miles to the gallon, and I drive about 250 miles a week, just for work, so in the summer, when gas hit almost four dollars a gallon (at the same time I went from an 800 dollar rent payment to a 1500 dollar mortgage payment) I was in over my head, and going down for the third time. Today, we're paying 1.35 per gallon here -- I know it won't last, but I can be grateful while it does (little wonders).
Les Miserables at Tuacahn.
My wife and I usually go to several plays and concerts throughout the year. In September, for our 14th anniversary, we decided to see the production of Les Miserables, at the Tuacahn Theater, in St. George, Utah. We had both seen the traditional "broadway"version of the show several years earlier. But Tuacahn is different than other venues. Tuachan is an outdoor amphitheater built right into the red desert rock of southern Utah -- and is billed as Broadway in the Desert. All productions there utilize the terrain in the telling of their story. It was our first trip to Tuacahn, and it was fantastic! There were bats flying around the night sky -- right through the scenes. Very cool. If you ever get the chance to see anything at Tuacahn, go!
I read a lot of books throughout the year, and I read a lot of books that I have already read (The Work and the Glory series, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Christmas Carol, Charles Kuralt's America, Tom Sawyer, etc...). The best book I read this year was one that I had read a
couple of times before, but not for several years: Walt Disney, An American Original.
This is an amazing biography, of an amazing man. I read it again as we were preparing to go to Disneyland last spring, because there is a lot of the early history of Disneyland contained in the narrative. The book ends with Walt's death, and by that point you realize how much he accomplished, and how much he was still planning, right up until the end (he had planned to create the ideal community -- a plan which ultimately became the EPCOT center at Walt Disney World). I HIGHLY recommend this book to any Disney fan.
Getting into our own home. Finally, after 14 years of marriage, I was able to place my wife under a roof of her own. When she agreed to marry me, I promised her so much more than I have been able to deliver. Many people have suffered much hardship this year, and for us things have been tight, but really we have had a remarkable year. I would be ungrateful not to acknowledge the wonderful blessings that we have received in 2008.
We went several places this year, but nothing touches the trip to Disneyland with my mom and brother last Spring. My mom, who finally sold the house that she had paid on for thirty years, decided that once in her life, she wanted to treat her kids and grandkids to a special trip. We spent five days in southern California. We went to Universal Studios, and Sea World, but the highlight was, undoubtedly, the three days we spent at the Happiest Place on Earth. Sharon and I hadn't been there in twelve years (when California Adventure was a parking lot), and our kids had never been there. It was even better than I remembered it -- why does Disneyland feel like home? Highlight -- Matthew, my son, getting to face off against Darth Maul, at the Jedi Training Academy. I don't know who was more psyched, him or me. It was a trip that all of us will remember all of our lives.
Best Picture I Took:
This was hard. Each picture I take is personal, so I guess I shouldn't say the best, but instead, my favorite: You know it had to be a picture of my kids (at least some of them). I won't bore you (any more than I have to) with the whole story of how this came to be hanging on my wall -- but if you really want to know, go here.
And finally. My Best Blog Post of the Year.
Photostory Friday, created and hosted by Cecily and Mamageek, has been a wonderful outlet for me both to show some pictures and to write about them. And through Photostory I have met so many wonderful new friends. I don't know if this little piece about my girls is the nest thing I did all year -- but it certainly got the most response. Thank you.
I, and my family were greatly blessed in so many ways this year. I'm so grateful to the new friends I have met through the blogging community. I very much appreciate the wonderfully nice things you have had to say to me, and I hope that I have been as good a friend to you all, as you have been to me. Thank You.
I hope that 2009 finds all of our lives even more richly blessed.
I pray for peace, and I pray for happiness.
I pray for strength and humility.
For each of us.
Happy New Year!