These are not necessarily things that were released this year (in the case of the TV shows and books and such), just things I experienced this year that had an effect on me.
Movie: District 9
I saw a lot of movies this year, but this was the one that really got everyone thinking and talking. It had gore, action, and social commentary, plus we learned that aliens love cat food!
Runner Up: Star Trek – pretty awesome, not to mention it featured ZQ and his awesome eyebrows! And because J.J. Abrams has now created an alternate timeline, he can pretty much do whatever he wants in sequels.
TV Show: Fringe
I loved season 1 of this show and was so excited for the second season, which started this fall, but unfortunately it aired opposite some other shows I watch, so I chose to catch up with Fringe online. Every time I went to watch it I would think, “Maybe I should just skip this, I watch enough TV shows,” but by the end of the episode I was totally hooked again, and all I could think was, “I love this show!” Like Lost, it seems to have a lot of mysteries that are carried throughout the series, which still haven’t been answered. But unlike Lost, it doesn’t make me angry. At the end of each episode, I can’t wait to see what they have in store next.
Runner Up: Parks and Recreation – I didn’t want to like this show, and I didn’t at first, but I stuck with it and by the end of the first season I was really into it. Season 2 had me from the start, and routinely has me laughing out loud.
Honorable Mention: The Office – only for the hour-long Jim and Pam wedding episode, which brought a tear to my eye for sure. The rest of this season (and actually, last season too) has been so depressing and weird. What happened to the goofy awkwardness?
Book: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
After taking a long break from book reading, I finally got a library card and got back into the habit late last year. I found myself reading mostly nonfiction, and out of all the books I read, I feel like this is the one I actually learned the most from. Now I know the origin of fortune cookies, the Chinatown bus, Americanized Chinese food, and why every town in America seems to have its own Chinese restaurant, and why they’re all so similar.
Runner Up: A Mercy – I’m not a huge Toni Morrison fan, but this was quick, interesting, and came together at the end in a pretty awesome way.
Album: Tally Hall, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
I discovered this band in the most random way, ordered their CD right away, and I am totally hooked. Their CD was in my car for most of 2009, and I never got sick of listening and singing along. (In my opinion, a good CD is one where you can sing along with almost every song in the car.) Seriously, I like every song on that disc – even the ones I don’t love, I can tolerate. If I had to have one CD stuck in my car radio forever, it could be that one. (And not to make this about the band over the album, but those guys all seem super great, their Internet Show is hilarious, and they’re fantastic live – even when they’re tired and sick!)
Runner Up: The Lonely Island, Incredibad – Okay, there’s a bit more cursing than I’m comfortable with, but how can you listen to something like “Sax Man” without at least chuckling? I think I know all the words to “Santana DVX,” which amuses my friends. And GG and I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the phrase “big ol’ bag of trash” from “Dreamgirl.”
Honorable Mentions: Traced in Air by Cynic and The Ladder by Yes both came to me via GG and I became obsessed with both of them this year, but they lose points for not really lending themselves to singing along.
GG and I had wanted to try this place for a couple years, and we finally got to go for dinner on our anniversary. It. Was. Amazing. We were still talking about some of the things we tried there months later. I even tried to re-create a couple of the dishes. And maybe it was just that we didn’t order anything crazy and extravagant, but the total bill was not as high as we’d feared it might be. If I went again, I’d make reservations well in advance so we could get a better seat, but actually sitting at the bar by the kitchen was really interesting because we got to watch all the food being prepared.
Runner Up: Tastebuds – We stumbled upon this New Hope restaurant kind of by accident, and it’s now totally our favorite place in town. I’d go there four times a year just to try all their seasonal menus. (And I still haven’t given up trying to make my own version of that asparagus ravioli.)
Vacation: Portland, ME
I went on more overnight trips this year than I think I ever have, so I had a bunch to choose from, but without a doubt our “big trip” to Maine was the best vacation I took this year. We planned it well in advance and by the time we left I’d made up an itinerary that really mapped out our schedule for each day. Some would say that’s insane, but it was tremendously helpful because we made sure we got to do the things we wanted to do while we were there. And of course we could break from the itinerary if we wanted! Portland itself is a great town, and despite my worry that there wouldn’t be enough to do there to keep us busy for a week, we ended up with a lot of stuff we didn’t have time to do! I’d definitely go back (if only it weren’t so far away)!
Runner Up: OCMD long weekend with my Brothers – I was on the beach longer than I had been in probably the last 10-15 years, total. And we just had a lot of fun and ate a lot of stuff and had a good time together.