I Love 2009...

I don't want to get into all the hours of my life that I have spent watching VH1's I Love the (Fill In The Blank) franchise of shows. Not that I regret it, mind you, it's just that it's a lot of hours, and I don't you to think that all I ever do is veg out in front of the television. The shows appeal to my interest in American culture (it was my second major in college after all), and my love of so many things kitschy. So, in the spirit of the television show and the rapidly approaching end of the calendar year, I thought I would take a moment to run down some of my favorite things from the year that was.
  • Favorite Album of 2009: Andrew Bird's Noble Beast. Nothing else even remotely comes close for me. End of story.
  • Favorite Movie of 2009: I only made it to 10 movies this year (I usually try to make one a month, but I was too busy with other things this year), but I felt that Up was the best of the bunch. Frost/Nixon was impeccable, but although I saw it in 2009, it was released in 2008. Precious was impressively acted, but it didn't strike the same emotional chord with me that Up did, even though it was a cartoon. Plus, Up is far more quotable. "Squirrel!!"
  • Favorite Theatrical Experience of 2009: I'm choosing the dark horse candidate in this category and going with Spring Awakening. The performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch that I attended with Lisa was phenomenal, but Spring Awakening was so transcendent that it motivated me to download the soundtrack the moment I got home, and I practically wore it out on my iPod in the weeks that followed. It also introduced me to Lea Michele, who originated the role of Wendla on Broadway, and now stars in Fox's Glee, which brings me to the next award...
  • Favorite New Television Addiction of 2009: For the most part, I continued to watch the same portfolio of programs that I watched in 2008, with one exception -- my Wednesday night lineup. Where I once watched America's Next Top Model and Criminal Minds I have been prompted to abandon the former and catch the latter in syndication by Fox's scheduling of So You Think You Can Dance and Glee at the same time. I'll announce it right now: I'm a Gleek, and I'm proud! I've even gotten my Dad to start watching it, and turned him into a Lea Michele fan. If you aren't watching it, you should be.
  • Favorite New Recipe of 2009, Entree: I cooked so many things this year that I had to divide this one into two categories. The best entree I prepared this year (and have prepared several times subsequently) is a pasta sauce that I added to my repertoire a couple months ago -- Sardinian Sausage Sauce. It has a pleasantly piquant kick from hot Italian sausage, and a subtle earthiness from saffron, the dish's secret ingredient. It feels a little luxurious and decadent to use saffron in a home cooking, which turns an otherwise humble dish into a special weeknight meal.
  • Favorite New Recipe of 2009, Dessert: Oddly enough, despite the hours I dedicated to the Cookie Bonanza, and the elaborate linzer cookies and iced sugar cookies I prepared for it, and the time-consuming caramelized white chocolate ice cream I made with my new ice cream machine, the only dessert that made it into my recipe book this year (where I collect only the most worthy recipes that I know I want to replicate) was for peaches and cream popsicles. They were luscious, refreshing, and simple to make. Plus, there are few things better than a homemade popsicle eaten on the porch on a hot summer's day.
  • Favorite Chicago Moment of 2009: I have had some great moments with my beloved city this year. I saw Riverace (Mr. Vincent Falk) twice, attended some great summer festivals, and realized my dream of riding all the CTA train lines, but my greatest Chicago moment this year was having my photo taken with Da Mare himself. It doesn't get any more Chicago than Mayor Daley, the two are practically one and the same.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Stay tuned for my thoughts on what was not so great in 2009, and what I won't miss in the year to come...

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