BEST ALBUM: The two-disc compilation “The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition.”
BEST SONG: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Runner-up: “Discoverer” by R.E.M.
WORST TITLE FOR AN OTHERWISE DECENT SONG: “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” by Coldplay.
BEST CONCERT: Robert Plant at Ravinia (June 16). Runners-up: The Hold Steady at the Metro (Aug. 25), Scott Miller at Schubas (Nov. 9).
NOT BEST DAY OR BEST CONCERT SO I GUESS IT GETS ITS OWN CATEGORY: The Dave Matthews Band Caravan (July 10), a daylong music festival at the old US Steel site on the South Side’s lakeshore. We saw Emmylou Harris, the Jayhawks, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, David Gray, Flaming Lips and DMB.
BEST PICTURE: Keeping with the theme of new additions, I think I’ll go with these two:
The 20-week ultrasound.
Franklin's first day home.
BEST OPENING ACT: Nick Lowe (for Wilco, Dec. 12 at the Civic Opera House). Runner-up: Big Head Todd and the Monsters (for John Hiatt at Ravinia).
BEST COVER: I saw many cool versions this year, but the winner is the Flaming Lips doing Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon” at DMB Caravan. Runners-up include “Secret Agent Man” by the Gin Blossoms (Frontier Days in Arlington Heights, July 1) and Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ "America the Beautiful" (Ravinia, on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11).
The magical weirdness of the Flaming Lips. (click to see detail)
BEST NEW VENUE: We finally saw a show at Lincoln Hall (Old 97’s, July 20) and enjoyed the intimate space with great sightlines.
BEST VACATION/BEST WAY TO WATCH A BEARS GAME: Our Caribbean cruise/the big screen by the pool deck, wearing shorts in winter (Jan. 23-30).
BEST AD: I don't always watch commercials. But when I do, I prefer the Most Interesting Man in the World (Dos Equis).
I actually saw this one before it was released, as part of focus group testing. The cat on the table was my favorite part.
WORST AD: I covered my ears when I heard the incessant earworms of State Farm’s “get to a better state” radio jingles. I also hated AT&T’s “that’s so 12 seconds ago” ads.
BEST MOVIE: True Grit, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (released in late 2010, saw in the theatre early 2011).
BEST TV SHOW: Louie (FX). I didn’t watch a lot of TV beyond sports and news, but this was incredibly funny and honest.
MOST FUN DURING THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON: The Pick Six game I managed. Last year we had about 12 people, this year we had more than 50.
BEST CUBS GAME: My first ever Cubs-Sox game was in the midst of a Cubbie losing streak, but the North Siders got the win (July 3).
BEST NOTRE DAME GAME: After an 0-2 start, the Irish steamrolled Michigan State 31-13 (Sept. 17).
BEST ROAD TRIP: Many good nominees here, but I’ll go with my first trip to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (Oct. 14-16). The football team lost the Homecoming game, but I really enjoyed seeing the campus.
Franklin's original ad from the adoption agency.
WORST THING ABOUT THERE NOT BEING A DOUBLE-A BASEBALL TEAM AROUND HERE: We could have completed the grand slam, as we went to major league (Cubs, twice), Class AAA (Toledo, May 28, although it turned into a rainout) and Class A games (Kane County Cougars, July 29).
BEST T-SHIRT: The one that said "National Sarcasm Society" and below in smaller letters "Yeah, like we really need your support." (spotted on Randolph Street near Wells)
BEST PLAY: The Les Miserables revival we saw (Cadillac Palace, Feb. 25) was neat and all, but did match lofty expecations, so I’m giving it to a small play we saw in Boston called “Or,” (Lyric Stage Company, Oct. 29).
WE’LL MISS: Rock band R.E.M., who called it quits after a 31-year career on Sept. 23.
We are looking forward to an exciting new adventure in the new year. May God’s blessings be on you and your family in 2012.