By “best” you know I mean best, right? Good, then let’s proceed.
Best unexpectedly great song. (Would you have expected NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012 to be so good? Because I didn’t.)
Best new cocktail: The vodka gimmick. This drink was invented by my friend Tony when he had the brilliant idea of adding a little Rose’s lime juice to the vodka tonics we were drinking because they seemed to need it. Rose’s lime juice is a key ingredient of vodka gimlets, a drink I became quite fond of soon after I started watching Mad Men (I believe Betty ordered it once). Therefore, gimlet + tonic = gimmick = perfection.
Best 925-page book: Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Do you want to read a book that weighs three pounds? I think you do. I spent most of 2012 reading this book and then one day it was over. Strangely it is probably the only 925-page book you could possibly read and think “That’s it??” when you reach the end. If you don’t already love Haruki Murakami, you might not want to start with this one. Otherwise, yes.
Best presidential shout-out: In the movie Silver Linings Playbook (truly excellent, go see it), for no reason you could possibly imagine, the main character explains where the expression “OK” comes from: “Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States of America, is from Kinderhook, New York and he was part of a club, a men’s club called Old Kinderhook. And if you were cool, you were in the club. They’d say, That guy’s OK. Cause he was in the Old Kinderhooks.” But the thing is, I just so happened to see this film in Chatham, a mere 10 miles away from Kinderhook. After this little bit of presidential trivia was revealed the entire audience applauded and cheered. You can’t possibly imagine how great it was.
Best lemonade: This summer, at the wedding of my friends Matt and Ellie, there happened to be some lemonade. I saw Matt take a sip of it and then this slow smile spread across his face. He said, “This is exactly the lemonade that I wanted to have at my wedding.” And truly, it was the most perfect lemonade you could imagine. My girls and I still talk about this lemonade (“wedding lemonade” as we call it) and all other lemonade sadly falls short.
Best sandwich accessory: pickled jalapenos. I will no longer consider making a sandwich in which pickled jalapenos would be inappropriate. So long, PB & J! Forever.
Best dining advice: This is something I picked up from the book An Economist Gets Lunch, which I read sometime this summer (when I was not reading 1Q84). Basically I try to approach every restaurant the same way: I just ask the waiter what he or she recommends and sometimes even what he or she likes best. Sometimes this throws people off, but when it works, it works extremely well. This has resulted in insanely delicious fish tacos at Mexican Radio, an intriguing black pepper sauce at Taiwan Noodle, and indescribably good chicken chettinadu (I know! I had never heard of it either!) at Karavalli.
Best advice in general:
Best book of short stories: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. How can someone be so serious and intense and so funny at the same time? It is worth reading every single thing he writes, where you’ll find lines like this one: “You, Yunior, have a girlfriend named Alma, who has a long tender horse neck and a big Dominican ass that seems to exist in a fourth dimension beyond jeans.”
Best Twilight Zone episode (aired in 1961, viewed by me in 2012): “The Odyssey of Flight 33.” All right. Now this one is my favorite for a particular reason. The story itself is quite good: “This episode takes place on Global Airlines Flight 33, en route from London to New York City. About 50 minutes from Idlewild Airport [hee hee!], Captain Farver and his crew notice that their Boeing 707 is drastically increasing speed, crossing some kind of barrier. They eventually realize they have been thrown back in time.” At first when they look down from the plane, they see a (ridiculously obvious claymation) dinosaur. Then they try to return to 1961, but then this happens:
That moment at 1:32 is what knocked me out. All I could say to my girls was: “That’s…that’s…!” and then I could only marvel at the sight. If you had spent a year of your life poring through microfiche (hee hee!) about the 1939 New York World’s Fair in the basement of NYU’s library you too might react the same way.
So from now on, whether I’m drinking vodka gimmicks, reading Junot Diaz, or watching Peep Show, I will remember some very good things that happened this year. And now: on to the next!