The end of every year brings with it the predictable avalanche of “Best Of” posts from every corner of the media world.
Best movies of 2012. Best books of 2012. Best of my travel posts of 2012. Best political moments of 2012 — though not exactly a top 10 list there. 2012’s best albums by indie bands that will feign public mortification, but be privately ecstatic to get the mention. Best television shows of 2012 on non-major networks that you should be watching if you want to be cool in dinner party conversations. And so on.
Seeing as a I hate Top 10 lists and I consider year-end, best-of posts right in the same species, I’m not going to go down that well-worn path. Last year I did Good People, Bad People, Dead People and since I am a very firm believer in the linguistic simplicity of the Rule of Three, I shall try…
My 2012 list of… you should, you shouldn’t, and it must go away.
You should be listening to the Tony Kornheiser podcast. Mr. Tony is most primarily known as a sports person, as a long time sports columnist for the Washington Post and hosting Pardon the Interruption on ESPN, but his two hour local radio show in DC is about 80% non-sports and 20% sports. Best podcast ever. Movies, politics, occasional sports, “old guy radio,” and the amazing emails from rabidly dedicated fans with encyclopedic knowledge of the show’s history.
You should read some obituaries. They are some of the most interesting stories and also some of the best written. Start with the NY Times obituary page. You shall not regret it.
You should be following Letters of Note. It is a great website that publishes old letters and not a week goes by without me being touched by one of them. Examples from this year include a letter from a former slave to his former owner and a funny letter from Tom Hanks back to some guys wanting to get him to appear on a podcast.
You should be subscribed to a number of the Atlantic RSS feeds. I’m currently subscribed to five of them and they are consistently the best things I read every day. From technology to culture to politics, well worth your time.
You should be reading Grantland. Like Tony Kornheiser’s show, it’s thought of mostly as a sports website, but they also hit on culture, movies, music and more. Perhaps the single best and most consistent website in terms of quality writing around today. Wedded Blitz is a particular favorite monthly feature for me, humorously going through the previous month’s wedding announcements in the NY Times. They also feature wonderful podcasts, including the Hollywood Prospectus analysis of reality TV shows by Juliet Litman and David Jacoby (laugh out loud funny and I don’t watch a single one of the shows they are talking about) and Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald talking about Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Homeland and all the other big, critically acclaimed television shows. Plus, some great sports analysis as well.
You should try the Kindle on your phone. I really enjoyed my Kindle, but after breaking three of them (their screens are simply way too fragile), I’ve given up. Save the room on your backpack and just start reading your Kindle books on your phone, especially if you have the huge phone screen that I’m lucky enough to have.
You should try European ferries. I am in the midst of working on some big overland travel resource pages for this site that I will unveil in the next few weeks and these ferries will be highly featured. I’ve done the overnight ferry from just outside Rome to the middle of Barcelona twice. I’ve crossed the English Channel both on day trips and overnight. I’ve done a number of them in Croatia. They are not often thought of as ways to get around and that’s a shame.
You should, and will, love Slovenia and Croatia. No, this isn’t some sort of sponsored or promoted reference. I haven’t even written about Slovenia yet, but I can’t wait to go back a few more times in 2013. Here are a couple posts on Croatia — underrated Zagreb and its Museum of Broken Relationships. I’ve spent a total of six weeks in Croatia in the last few years and its one of the few countries in the world I could imagine moving to for a significant period of time. You won’t be disappointed in either location.
You should give these shows currently on television a try: Happy Endings, Sherlock on BBC, and the Borgias on Showtime. I assume you already watch Game of Thrones.
You should take some time to enjoy parks in the middle of big cities. Englischer Garten in Munich. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Hyde Park in London. Stanley Park in Vancouver. Park Guell in Barcelona.
You shouldn’t post photos of every damn meal you eat on Facebook or Instagram. Look, I admit I have started to take an occassional food photo for Instagram, but there is a limit, folks. There are some people I know that literally post a photo of every single thing they eat (and drink). I may like you a lot, but I’m really not that interested in what temporarily resides in your stomach.
You shouldn’t be one of the annoying people that tweets the person right next to them… constantly. Even worse is the re-tweet of the person next to you. That’s the equivalent of “did you hear what my sweetie just said?” It’s not cute in person, it’s not any cuter on Twitter. If they are sitting next to you, try an actual conversation. As my friends with parents might say: “use your words.”
You shouldn’t write music reviews. Or if you do, please just do it better. Worst writing anywhere. Tortured would be a complement. An example: “…but in any event, it’s all there in his minor-key melodies, octave-jumping bass lines, four-to-the-floor drum programming, and symphonic instrumental harmonies that imply emotional intimacies as much as Glass’s words deny them. No one writes something as delicately melancholy as “Celestica” without having felt love and its loss, and knowing how to articulate both. And even if it’s sequenced on 2010’s Crystal Castles right before their most abrasive cut, “Doe Deer,” that song nevertheless betrays a longing for connection, an appreciation of beauty, and an understanding of order and balance in the way it gently rises, falls, and settles back into place.” Almost universally crap. Uggggggg.
You shouldn’t take as many short-haul air flights. This is an environmental cause very close to my heart. I’m still in the process of getting up some content on this site about the negative environmental impacts of air travel, most specifically short-haul flights, but suffice it to say that the amount of carbon pollution they spew forth compared to any form of ground transportation is shocking. If you are going from London to Amsterdam, or New York to Washington D.C., or Bangkok to Chiang Mai, please do us all a favor and take the train or a bus.
You shouldn’t do Segway tours. OK, I am going to contradict myself on this one, because I just took my first Segway tour last week with my family and it actually was a lot of fun. But I had found this link before and it was just too damn good to not include in this post — Segway owner dies… on a Segway.
You shouldn’t ever, ever, ever turn on the Travel Channel and give the briefest acknowledgement of its existence. Here are some of the shows they are running in prime time on the week of Jan 7th: Man vs. Food Nation, Bizarre Foods, Extreme Yachts, Baggage Battles, Fast Foods Gone Global, Mysteries at the Museum, Ghost Adventures and the Dead Files. There was a time that the Travel Channel actually showed programming about travel. That day has passed and it is a mockery now. Let it die the death it needs.
You shouldn’t just shorten someone’s name to their initials and think that is a good nickname. They are absurdly weak. D Wade. L Train. RG3. AI. That’s the best we can do for nicknames these days? Pathetic. Bring back Night Train Lane, The Splended Splinter, The Sultan of Swat, Walter “Big Train” Johnson, Juice, or Broadway Joe.
It must go away:
Marriage proposals via flash mob. Is there any bigger example of the “look at me” syndrome? Google videos for “marriage proposal by flash mob” and you get 4,700,000 results. I’d like to say that the first few were cute, but frankly they are all horrible travesties against humanity. Perhaps one of the most intimate, important, and life changing moments in two separate lives and you want to get a couple dozen friends to choreograph up a song and dance routine SOLELY so you can put it up on YouTube and see how popular you can get? It is perhaps the single biggest indictment of the state of our current culture.
“Look at me. Please look at me. Look at how romantic and cool I am!”
This is invariably what couples that tweet each other at the same table look forward to in their future.
Please make it go away. Forever.
The flash mob marriage proposals KILL ME. I made Mike SWEAR not to propose in any way that would end up on youtube. It’s just…weird.
One of those concepts that sounds all nice and cute and sweet and then you stop and think about it and….
Great suggestions all round. Endlessly reposting older content from years ago without any warning on twitter is one a lot of bloggers should adhere to.
I’m getting bored of my stream being filled with out of date information.
Oddly enough, I think my really old posts are some of my best. I think I was a better writer back then.
I’m big on Sherlock but haven’t started with Game of Thrones yet. Currently addicted to The Hour, another BBC winner. Agree with Croatia but haven’t been to Slovenia yet. I am a shameless food Instagrammer and that won’t change anytime soon. Otherwise great suggestions 🙂
I wish there were more Sherlock episodes, but in reality each episode is more like a movie than a TV show. About 2 hours each. Meaty!
Love Tony Kornheiser although have never listened to his podcast. Also love Grantland (bonus that a friend from high school occasionally writes for them) – haven’t read their stuff on Homeland but since I just got sucked into that, I may need to check it out.
Slovenia and Croatia are high on my list whenever I get back to Europe – once thought of squeezing them (and the rest of the Balkans) into my just-completed trip but it would’ve been way too rushed.
You’d love Tony K’s podcast. Add it to your list immediately. His whole crew is amazing.
Delightful post, Michael – even though I had to grit my teeth to get past the flagrant stream of my most UNFAVORITE word in the English language – that insufferable “S” word:
Ugh! Bar-none THE most reliable way to turn me off/away in a nanosecond. 😉
Must better than those boring “best of 2012” posts…. except for mine of course 🙂
Yours was my favorite 😉
Sadly I will be polluting your feed with many many bowls of soup because they are all just so different and delicious in Vietnaml. SO MANY SOUPS MICHAEL. How can I not share them all?
Your photography skills warrant more leeway than 90% of the food photos out there today 😉
Fantastic post! Yes to Slovenia and Croatia, yes to Happy Endings, yes to Englischer Garten!
And I’m definitely over omnipresent food photos on facebook, too! Especially the ones with the “look how nicely I sprinkled parsley over my boring lunch to make it look more appealing on the internet” message, or the “look how healthy I eat – and you aren’t!” undertone 🙂
LOL. “Look…. parsley!!” Exactly.
After years of anticipation, I was completely disappointed by Croatia, which seemed soulless and depressing. I’ve planned to return this year, tiptoeing after the hope that the truth will be revealed. I’ll reference this site for that trip.
Sometimes I find that going to places with expectations (either good or bad) tends to bias things to end up in the other direction. I actually have a draft post on that I need to publish in the next few months. Hope you enjoy it a heck of a lot more next time!
Nicely done Sir Hodson. Completely agree with the Travel Channel comment above, just let it die already… We just devoured Game of Thrones, but seriously….Happy Endings?!? lol.
Happy Endings may be the best written sitcom on television today. Really sharp.
Haha great stuff in here! I’ll definitely be checking out those podcasts and feeds! I wholeheartedly fell in love with Slovenia and Croatia in 2009 and I can’t wait to go back!
Um someone was blowing up my Instagram feed with dozens of delicious foodie pics recently!
Yea, I admit that I’ve got a bit of food photos up there (especially from my South Tyrol trip), BUT my bone of contention isn’t all food photos… its the folks that put up every single thing they eat… every single dish. Lordie.
This was a thoroughly good read.
Croatia is very high on my wish list but unfortunately it will have to wait a few more years. Colombia and the wilder parts of Canada are calling.
Yes to ferries! My daughter did Plymouth England to Santander Spain – more fun, more relaxing and less work then trying to take a cheap Ryanair flight.
I take lousy food shots so have never posted a meal. Have done top 10 lists because people love them. And I don’t have your winning personality to have them want to read my blog EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I never watch TV so didn’t know about the demise of the Travel Channel.
Actually reading your post makes me think I have to get out more.
Happy New Year.
PS You have been in my feed but then it just stops working and I never see you again. You’re not the only one either.
I almost put Colombia on this list, but frankly didn’t want to have too much travel stuff in the post. You will love it.
Glad you liked this semi-rant though. Thanks for wandering in and dropping me comment!
You’re always spot on… what can I say. I’m looking forward to your Slovenia posts! About Top 10 lists… what bothers me about them is just that sometimes it’s hard to prioritize. I’ve had so many awesome moments in 2012, why would it have to lead up to that NUMBER ONE of a list, why can’t the list just *list* everything that’s pretty… or interesting, or worth mentioning. Just like your post. Well done.
I really don’t know if I am going to do Slovenia posts. I didn’t take enough photos while I was there, just because I was hanging out and relaxing. I need to go back in 2013, clearly.
Yes to parks in cities!
Thanks for the good read. I am curious, do you have anything else against the Travel Channel besides bad programming?
I think the crap programming is enough reason in my eyes. Its their sole reason for existence and they are doing horribly at it now.
Now I can admit it — I also read obituaries from time to time. Some very interesting (and inspirational) stories, as you said. Still dreaming about a Slovenia and Croatia trip. I believe you that I won’t be disappointed. Fun post.
I completely agree about the marriage proposal flash mob thing. Ridiculous. In general I think proposals should be private and not done in front of a large audience of people, begging for attention. Although mine was over Skype, so I probably shouldn’t judge 🙂
Well, hopefully Skype just between the two of you and not also simulcasted on YouTube 😉
Hey dude. Christian here. You spent more than one very entertaining night at a little restaurant I had in San Juan del Sur called el pozo. Nice to see you still at it. I am back in Nicaragua, this time in Managua, with another restaurant called, of all things, el segundo. All my best. Throw a little Squeeze on the juke next time.
Totally remember those nights. Wrote about it in passing on this site a long while back. Good memories. Glad you are still down in Nicaragua. One of my favorite countries still.
Great post Michael, enjoyable read and I got a few suggestions from you too, thanks! I agree with you on the travel channel. I haven’t watched it in years. There’s more to travel than food.
Definitely agree about Slovenia and Croatia! We spend a lot of time in Slovenia since it is so close. And after our road trip through Croatia this past summer, I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time in another nearby country.
I bloody love segways. How about a proposal on a segway? Would that pass?
Haha, great post. I agree with you on Croatia. Such a spectacular place! We honeymooned there a few years ago and I could go back again and again. Also, I hear ya on the travel channel. I want to see programs with substance that educate, inspire, and equip me to travel. Like travel blogs 🙂 Here’s to a great 2013 for you!
great post MHods 😉
one of these day I’m going to have to really find out what all this Game of Thrones business is all about… in the mean time, I’ll be reading the obits in Parque Retiro 🙂
Slovenia is my favorite country. I first visited there in 2007. I’ve written more about that country than any other. Now it’s becoming very popular. I love to share my favorite places but that one I want to keep a secret.
This was definitely one of the most unusual year end posts I’ve read 🙂
Amen on Slovenia and Croatia, and on reading obituaries.
Once upon a time I was a copy editor at a small newspaper, and was in charge of editing/laying out the obituary page every day. We didn’t write the obits at that paper – they were submitted and paid for by the families. Which usually guaranteed you at least one humorous one per day. Endless hours of amusement.
The ones that people submit on their own, in smaller papers, really are great. I remember reading some of those from my years back in Arkansas.
Don’t worry. No music reviews from me. The rest, well, I guess I’ll have to work on!
I will have to check out many of the “shoulds.”
I totally agree with the Travel Channel now. Totally garbage especially since Bordain is gone. But, his new show on CNN is excellent.