It’s all the rage at this time to come out with massive amounts of “Best Of” or “Top” of the Year lists. Best Albums of the Year, Best Movies of the Year, Top New Stories of the Year, Best Moments on the Web, Top Newsmakers, Person of the Year… I’m a sucker for these. Even if I’m not interested in the category, I’ll usually peruse the list to see if I’m part of that particular “in” crowd in knowing/owning/hearing of whoever/whatever made the list. So as my final Gimbling in the Wabe of 2012, I thought I would do my own “Best Of” list.
But just to make it different, I thought that instead of a “Best of the Year” list, I would simply give you a “Best Of” list, period, In My Humble Opinion. These are things I’d like to pass on to you because I think they are wonderful. They may not have come out this year (most likely they didn’t) but they have made my life happier, more fun, enriched, so I thought it would be a perfect time to share them with you, as we look back at the year ending and look forward to the one just around the corner. So here is my Best Of, In My Humble Opinion List, just for you!
Best Book to Read When You Really Need to Read a Good Book: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (published by ROC in 2010). This book, written in an alternate history modeled after the Tang dynasty (which ruled China from 618 to 907 AD) is perhaps the most exquisite book I have read thus far, ever (and I’ve read a heckuva lot of really good books). Not only is the story line compelling, personal and beautifully realized, but the character development is strong and involving. If I could gift one book to every person in my life, it would be this one. It really is that good.
Best Movie that No One Has Heard Of: Mirrormask (released October 28, 2005). Directed by master illustrator Dave McKean and written by McKean and Neil Gaiman, Mirrormask tells the story of Helena, a young performer in her family’s circus who dreams of living in the “real world”. But her life turns upside down when an alternate universe invades her imagination and threatens to trap her on the other side, caught between opposing kingdoms where her only escape is through the elusive Mirrormask charm. Imaginative, full of strange and wonderful images and ideas, wonderfully realized, Mirrormask is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, which is marvelous and makes it not to be missed.
Best Person You Don’t Know to Follow on Facebook: Winston Borden. Win Borden was a Minnesota State Senator from 1970 to 1979, and President of the Chamber of Commerce from 1979 to 1990. In 2004, he was convicted of failing to file income tax returns from 1996 to 2001, failing to pay real estate tax from 2001 to 2004 and not filing a timely tax return since 1991. His fall from grace was meteoric and inexplicable. Nowadays, he lives on his rural Minnesota farm, with (according the Minneapolis Star Tribune), “two guiltless cats, a cacophony of geese, gaudy hens that bolster his egg coffee and, through Facebook, one more chance to get it right.” His postings on Facebook are homey, simple, heartfelt and contrite. Since being diagnosed with cancer, his ruminations have become affirmations of those things which really count, and they are worth following.
Best Band to Recently Become Deservedly Popular: Mumford and Sons. If you haven’t already picked up a copy of their 2010 release, “Sigh No More” or their 2012 drop, “Babel”, then run, don’t walk to your local independent record store (or web outlet) and do yourself a tremendous favor by picking up one or both. Fusing a rollicking Brit folk vibe with a modern lyrical ethos, these guys know how to fill a song with emotion and kick it on home via whaling strings and honest vocals. I know this is just my opinion, but these guys are where it’s at, or at least where you really want to be.
Best Rapper Who Will Dispel Your Fear of Rappers: Dessa. The only female member of Minneapolis’ Doomtree hip hop collective, Dessa has been a rapper, singer and spoken word artist on the Twin Cities scene since 2005, but her solo album, “A Badly Broken Code” (released in 2010) gave her a national audience and showcased her lyrical chops. Her intelligent word play and no holds barred views on life have been a revelation to me (good form bad taste/pity what a waste/all that style, not a thing to say/looks to me like/a little of your true school/is at the shallow end of the typing pool). She is deserving of greater attention, and you deserve to get to know her music.
Best Commercial Website for Geeks, Nerds, and Those Who Love Things Strange and Wonderful Things Presented with Humor by Folks Who Love Strange and Wonderful Things: Think Geek (www.ThinkGeek.com). All you have to do is check it out. You’ll be hooked.
Best Non-Commercial Website for Geeks, Nerds, and Those Who Love Things Strange and Wonderful Things Presented with Humor by Folks Who Love Strange and Wonderful Things: Boing Boing (boingboing.net). Author and activist Corey Doctorow and a host of other madly wonderful contributors report on a plethora of jaw-dropping/heart wrenching/maddening/achingly brilliant and/or just plain hilarious stories gleaned throughout cyberspace or through their own personal experiences and contacts. This is the type of site that you will want to hit every day – not because you should, but because it’s just that gosh darned fun to follow.
Best Acronym to Embrace in the Upcoming New Year: DFTBA (Don’t Forget to Be Awesome). Coined by the Vlogbrothers Hank and John Green, and their voracious and fantastic followers, the Nerdfighters, in 2008, this is a catch phrase whose time in the larger public consciousness has come. Why? Because it’s absolutely-effin’ true. Each of us holds within ourselves the power to be awesome – we just have to keep reminding ourselves that we honestly, truly are – and then BE so. So, DFTBA, 2013!!! After all, we’re going to need a heckuva lot of awesomeness in the days to come, don’tcha know. So let’s get started, eh?
So there you have it – my Best Of, In My Humble Opinion List, coming to you from the Best Literary Website, LitStack, with the Best Editor-In-Chief, Tee Tate, and the best readers on the world wide webs. May your gimblings in the days to come be fun and frolicksome, and your wabes all be bathed in sunshine, delved in cool shadows, and full of just enough sweetness to bring gloamsome dreams, waking or not. Happy New Year – and DFTBA! And thanks to each and every one of you. Yes, you. Heck – especially you!
~ Sharon Browning