Year-end “Best of” lists are a staple of blogs, newspapers and magazines. The trouble is, they become repetitive. After reading three or four Best Films of 2010 lists or Best Books of 2010 lists, I usually see the same artists again and again. Well, this list is not going to conform! You won’t see Joanna Newsom or Jonathan Franzen anywhere here. This is my own personal Best Things of 2010 list, consulting the primary critic and authority on what I like: me. You won’t find another list like this anywhere else, because no one else is making lists of what I did this year. (Insert Santa joke here.)
After cooking for years without an oven, the grocery store is a whole new world to me now that I finally have one. Ovens are magical. And quiche is so easy to make! Who knew?
9. Best Intimidating Home Improvement Project: Refinishing Wood Floors
It turns out that running a four disc orbital sander isn’t nearly as tricky if your friend who knows how to use it does it for you. If you don’t have a friend like that, check with This Old House magazine for instructions and inspiration for all sorts of fixer-upper jobs.
8. Best Pop Star I Previously Disliked Just Because She Is a Pop Star: Nicki Minaj
She outdoes every big name hip hop artist she raps alongside. She boasts the attitude of M.I.A. and the outrageous fashion sense of Lady Gaga. What can I say? I was wrong.
7. Best Internet Cat Humor: Seventeen Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat by The Oatmeal
This comic narrowly won out over the video below because of the expression on the face of the cat unimpressed by the cupcake and because it includes the fact that squirrels also purr.
6. Best Human Use of Feathers: Kanye West’s “Runaway”
Kanye West’s new album earned the number one slot on numerous Best Album of the Year lists, but these critics are overlooking his biggest accomplishment: co-starring in a music video with a seriously fabulous phoenix woman (via brilliant costume design by Martin Izquierdo).
5. Best Previously Underrated Vegetable: Kale
This year I learned to love this hearty, bitter leaf in all its forms, including raw, Ethiopian and as a chip.
4. Best Incident of Climate Change Chaos: Snowpocalypse
In February, a blizzard buried Pittsburgh in two feet of snow. The best part about this catastrophic weather? It stranded my visiting friend, so we got to hang out for an extra four days. Thanks, nature!
3. Best Weird Fact About International Communications Infrastructure: Undersea Cables Exist
This fact about the communications grid is especially resonant for me because my sister is in Australia. Now I know how the signal travels from my phone to the operator with the Australian accent. You might have already heard about these cables from the 2008 news story about a ship whose anchor accidentally damaged one, cutting off Internet access to millions of people in the Middle East and India. I discovered them while reading one of the WikiLeaks news stories.
2. Best Reason I’m Glad I Moved Near Millvale: Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery
The master baker of this little Millvale bakery creates the absolute best baguettes, truffles, croissants, cookies and cupcakes (sorry, cats, I remain impressed), and it’s only minutes from my new house. How do you say “perfect” in French?
1. Most Dearly Departed Celebrity: Don Van Vliet
Don Van Vliet gave the world the gift of truly odd music. Albums like Trout Mask Replica and Safe as Milk blend his gravelly vocals and surreal, associative lyrics with experimental rock groove. Rest in peace, Captain Beefheart.
0. Book I Most Likely Recommended to You in 2010: The Ticking Is the Bomb by Nick Flynn
Proving again his ability to wield prose as well as unparalleled poetry, Flynn crafted the year’s most haunting, anti-heroic, heartfelt memoir and combined musings on torture with reflections on love and fatherhood. If I haven’t told you to read it yet, I’m telling you now.