WORST DAY: (tie) The 165 days I spent unemployed and looking for work (Jan 1 – June 14).
BEST STORY INVOLVING A CAT: Our friend Sarah adopted a cat. I facilitated as sounding board and driver (June 6).
A LOLCat of Sarah's Booni.
BEST SHOW: The Hold Steady at Taste of Randolph.
BEST SONG: For its relentless optimism and joy in a dire year, the winner is “Say Hey I Love You” by Michael Franti and Spearhead. Runner-ups: “Wilco (the song)” by Wilco (the band); “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon.
BEST RECORD: “Wilco (the album)” by Wilco (the band).
BEST ARTIST: In a quiet year musically, I'll give it to Wilco, for continuing to make challenging, exciting music.
BEST PICTURE: This one (taken July 31). It’s so good it’s on a mousepad somewhere in New Hampshire.
This is a good runner-up, from the same night:
BEST MOVIE: "State of Play."
FUNNIEST MOVIE: "The Hangover."
BEST USE OF HALL AND OATES IN A MOVIE: The high-five scene in “500 Days of Summer."
WORST MOVIE SPELLING: "Inglorious Bastards."
BEST CULT FILM: "The Room" (2003), the “Rocky Horror” for its decade, which I saw at the Music Box (July 25).
BEST, WEIRDEST, MOST FASCINATING AND FRUSTRATING TV SHOW: Lost.
BEST ATTEMPT TO HELP PEOPLE DURING UNEMPLOYMENT: I started a group for out of work people to attend Mass at St. Alphonsus on Thursday mornings, then meet afterwards for coffee, donuts and conversation.
MOST UNDER-REPORTED STORY: Did Michael Jackson like, die or something this summer? Shouldn’t the news media have, you know, done a story or something about it?
BEST EXAMPLE OF BEING WHERE THE NEWS IS: I was in Boston this summer when the nation’s two biggest stories were Manny Ramirez linked to steroids and the “beer summit” between the Cambridge cop, Harvard professor, and President Obama (July 30-August 1).
BEST TWO-DOLLAR GUITAR: The fake Fender Stratocaster I won playing the ring toss game at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio (June 26).
BIGGEST IRONY: A plastic, image-conscious country band (Rascal Flats) covering the Beatles’ "Revolution" in a major-league baseball park (Wrigley Field) on a tour sponsored by a national department store (JCPenney's).
BEST STREET FEST: Wicker Park Fest (July 25). Awesome swag and a great set by Scott Miller, which a conversation afterwards led to …
BEST ROAD TRIP: We went to Knoxville, Tenn., to see TM’s alma mater Ohio play the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium, where Miller was our host and tour guide (Sept. 25-27).
WORST TREND: Adults voluntarily sacrificing their privacy on Internet websites like the Facebook and the Twitter.
BEST TEAM: Iowa football. They started 9-0 and finished 11-2 with an Orange Bowl win and #7 in the country.
BEST GAME: Notre Dame edged Michigan State, 33-30, with victory being secured by an interception as MSU was driving in the final minute (Sept. 19).
BEST DINING EXPERIENCE: Spring restaurant (Oct. 30). Runner-up: Chelsea Grill in Lincoln Square.
BEST AD: The Sarah McLachlan PSA for adopting animals was devastatingly effective. Runner-ups: Wendell the Miller High Life guy meets the High Life Light guy; Notre Dame’s “Fighting” campaign including Fighting Disease.
The ASPCA ad is too sad. Enjoy this one instead.
WORST AD: Subway’s 12-inch sandwiches for five bucks. Repetitive and annoying. I set foot in Subway once in 2009, and that was to get soup.
WORST ADVERTISING TREND: Words printed on the screen while being read. Are Americans that stupid that we now have to read our TV commercials?
BEST PC TECH: Jeff at PC Solutions. I had to go there three times in 2009, and each time he solved my problem perfectly.
WE’LL MISS YOU: Walter Cronkite, 92, newsman extraordinaire (on July 17); Jay Bennett, 45, musician extraordinaire (on May 24).
Most of you know this is my annual summation of the year passed, my own spin on the traditional Christmas letter. Let's hope 2010 treats you better than 2009, if the letters we received are any indication. God bless you and your family in the coming year.