WORST DAY: June 12, helplessly watching KCRG’s coverage of the CR floods, via the Internet. Runner-up: Dec. 3, when I lost my job.
BEST SHOW: Wilco at the Riviera, part of a five-night stand where they played everything from their catalog (Feb. 18).
BEST RECORD: "Asking for Flowers" by Kathleen Edwards knocked me out. I kept coming back to it, and like a well-made movie, you find new things every time you revisit it: new colors, new flavors, tones and meaning. It ranges from her pissed-off defiance to humor to the achingly sad (see next item). (And the listeners of WFUV agreed.) Honorable mention: Alejandro Escovedo “Real Animal”; The Hold Steady “Stay Positive.”
BEST SONG: Maybe it was the way everything fell apart this year, or all the goodbye emails I read from laid-off Tribune employees, but the song that defined the year was the regretful, bittersweet “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay. However, the Best Song of 2008 is “Alicia Ross” by Kathleen Edwards.
When you hear the song, you want to know more. Once you know the story, you can never forget it.
BEST ARTIST: Best Album, Best Song, you guessed it … Kathleen Edwards.
BEST COVER: Blue Oyster Cult's "Burnin' for You" by the Hold Steady with Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers on lead vocal, Nov. 14, the Riviera. (You can get a taste of it here. )
WORST COVER: Patterson Hood again, with bassist Shonna Tucker, absolutely ruined the Hold Steady’s rarely played “Chill Out Tent.”
BEST COVER OF GENIUS BY GENIUS: Neil Young’s encore performance of Lennon/McCartney’s “A Day in the Life” (Dec. 7).
BEST BLOG: Tell Zell chronicled the idiocy and mismanagement of the Sam Zell takeover, including his outright disrespect of quality journalism, until its sudden end in October. (I contributed this item here.)
BEST SPORTS BLOG: The guys at Black Heart Gold Pants did an excellent job of chronicling the year in Hawkeye sports, from the struggling hoops to off-field scandal to the resurgent football team, all with a mix of juvenile humor, JoePa spoofs and biting analysis.
BEST SINGLE PODCAST: NPR produced "The Giant Pool of Money," an hourlong explanation of the subprime mortgage crisis, told in plain English with very little jargon.
WEIRDEST CATHEDRAL: Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
BEST NEWS STORY ABOUT A CAT: It’s hard to top a wild cougar on the loose in Roscoe Village, a neighborhood about a mile away from us, in the middle of Chicago (April 15).
BEST MOVIE: I didn’t see any movies made in 2008.
BEST TV SHOW: I don’t think I watched any TV program (excludes news and sports) more than once. Maybe “Grey’s Anatomy” back in spring.
BEST ROAD TRIP: To Wisconsin, for Kelly and Josh’s wedding and the Leinenkugel’s brewery tour (July 11-13).
BEST AD: No single ad, but I liked the continuing campaigns of the Miller High Life truck driver and “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC.”
WORST AD: Perennial nominee Illinois Lottery wins again, for the “REE-play for RRR-attch-ESS!” (summer) and “C’mon Let It Snow” (winter) campaigns.
BEST PICTURE: How about me, throwing out the first pitch at a minor-league baseball game. Check out the form:
BEST CANDIDATE ON A MAJOR PARTY TICKET: Barack Obama (Senator of Illinois).
WORST CANDIDATE ON A MAJOR PARTY TICKET: Sarah Palin.
BEST FOOTBALL GAME: (tie) Notre Dame took an early lead on Michigan then cruised to a 35-17 win in the rain (Sept. 13). Shonn Greene put on a show as Iowa throttled Wisconsin 38-16 (Oct. 18).
BEST/WORST BASEBALL GAMES: Cubs playoffs games, both losses. (Oct. 1-2)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ALMA MATER'S SPORTS TEAM: Easily, the winner is the Drake men’s basketball team, who came out of nowhere to win the Missouri Valley conference regular season and title, earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. (Jan-March)
There it is. Let's hope and pray 2009 is a good year for you and your family. Your thoughts and comments welcome below.