For many years, growing up, the week between Xmas and New Year's was simply a week to exhaust every minute of playing time with every new toy I'd received and do my best to avoid wearing any of the new clothes until they were incorporated into my wardrobe when school restarted.
As I got older, the week became an opportunity to hang out with friends, maybe indulge in a few beverages, and count down the days until the real world would descend upon us once again. This also became the time that I developed an affectation for college bowl games where I had no history, no idea, or no stake in the teams, but I simply appreciated the fact there was a game that seemed to mean something on every night. I have since learned that games like the "San Diego County Credit Union Bowl" probably don't mean anything at all except to the teams, their fans, and the execs of the San Diego County Credit Union. This is also the time I learned to appreciate a uniquely Canadian pastime of watching the early round games World Junior Hockey Championships in what was usually some remote Finnish city spelled with six Ks, 14 Ms, and the occasional I or E thrown in for good measure.
As I moved into the phase of my life where pop culture and media became omnipresent in all non-working moments, I came to a new understanding of what this week meant for media outlets: "The Top Ten Best of Worst of Most Interesting Fill in the Blanks of the Year"
So as we move into the Week of Lists, I turn to my new favorite medium, the web, to provide me with further validation for dubbing this week with such a moniker.
The venerable Time magazine has deemed GasBuddy as a best "Advice and Facts" website of the year. While some may think the address leads to a fetish site for flatulence, the page actually allows you to track where the cheapest gasoline prices are across the United States. I can already tell, by using the site, that the next time I fill up, I should drive to Texas. What I really want to know is how "groundbreaking" are they considering themselves with their 10 Essential Websites: Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Craigslist, ESPN, Yelp, Facebook, Digg, Google, TMZ and Flickr? Do we really need a list like this? The only site on this list that may even remotely be a stretch of knowledge to people living outside a large urban area is Yelp, and, in many cases, even if they went there, they might not find much local information anyway.
Time's Top Gadget is the Peek Email Browser that's only $99, but has a $20/month fee to do nothing but email. Here's an idea. Take the $240 you'll spend on the Peek subscription next year and buy an iPod Touch that'll let you do email anywhere there's Wi-Fi.
Amazon's Book of the Year is The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher. Other than sounding like a Robert Ludlum title gone wrong, I can't say I know anything about this book, and, as it possibly may be the next American classic, maybe I should find out... hmmm... "The Northern Clemency begins at the perimeter of a late-summer party, amidst a din of neighbors gossiping one moment and navigating awkward silences the next. But once you encounter the Glover family--in particular, their languidly handsome teenage son Daniel--there's no turning back." Hell, if there's no turning back, I'd better not begin. I'm not too keen on reading about the "languidly handsome". Apparently neither is the Library Journal who's list contained a couple of dozen books with Hensher's nowhere to be found.
Lifehacker has taken the "Best of" list to its deconstructionist next step with The Most Popular Top Ten Lists of 2008 that have to do with all things Life2.0. Of course, for some reason, they chose 20 Top Ten Lists... and that just doesn't jive with my Top Ten sensibilities. I do, however, heartily recommend the Top Ten Conversation Hacks from August. It is rich with ways to feign interest and blow people off.
Last.fm has declared MGMT as their artist of the year based on user "scrobbles" and their number one album is Coldplay's Viva La Vida. NME names MGMT's Oracular Spectacular as the best CD. Amazon's 2008 album is Only by the Night from Kings of Leon. Blender and New York Magazine pimp L'il Wayne's Tha Carter Ill. The LA Times, the NY Times, The Onion and Rolling Stone pump Dear Science by TV On The Radio. And Fleet Foxes self-titled release takes number one from Mojo, Pitchfork and Under the Rader.
But my 2008 number one for useless lists goes to People magazine. And so, put on your helmets for some of the most useless, subjective choices of irrelevant celebrity topics (because celebrities really are people too):
- Most Talked About Star: Britney Spears
- Most Intriguing Hookup: John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston
- Couple Most Likely to make it to 2018: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner
- Best Baby Style: Kingston Rossdale (for those who care, Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani's kid ((for those who really care, Gavin Rossdale used to be popular as an emo singer in the band Bush)))
- Best Body After Baby: Halle Barry
- Best Boyfriend: Jake Gyllenhaal
- Best Chest: Mario Lopez
- Best Bikini Body: Jessica Alba
- Best Celeb Smackdown: Charlie (Sheen) v. Denise (Richards)
- Best Baby Name: Harlow Winter Kate Madden (Nicole Ritchie's kid)
- Funniest Celeb on the Web: Sarah Silverman and Matt Damon
I feel dirty.
But shouldn't one feel at least a bit wrong in summing up people's lives, work, artistic endeavors, and business into incomprehensible selections that often defy logic and scream for validation. Shouldn't there be a nagging, twitching fear that in reading these lists I'm giving credence to an exercise that can serve no purpose but to perplex and infuriate? Can there possibly be a reason to sustain the media-frenzy madness that is "Best of" week? I suppose I could go back to watching bowl games or playing with toys. Instead, I will chum the shark-infested waters of list making with some choices of my own.
- Best Movie: WALL-E
- Best CD: Bend Sinister - Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers
- Best Concert I Attended: Martin Tielli (Casbah, Hamilton ON)
- Best Internet Radio - CBC Radio 3
- Best Sci-fi TV: Doctor Who (BBC)
- Best Variety TV: The Daily Show
- Best Drama TV: Dexter
- Best Comedy TV: Big Bang Theory
- Best BitTorrent Search Engine: isoHunt
- Best Twitter App: Tweetdeck
- Best New Blogging Site: Posterous.com
- Best New Microblogging Tool: Ping.fm
- Best Free App Download: Chrome
- Best Daily Podcast (Tech): Geekbrief.tv
- Best Weekly Podcast (Tech): This Week in Tech
- Best Weekly Video Podcast (Pop Culture): Totally Rad Show
- Best Decision I Made: Starting to Blog and Podcast at lovehatethings.com
Happy Week of Lists all! Hopefully we can all share in each other's pain as we endure the memories and suppositions of pop culture pundits for the next week until life begins anew in 2009. Until then, go rent WALL-E and catch up on Dexter and Doctor Who. You won't be sorry.