On the occasion of ending a pretty darn good year.

10. Some Friday night in the winter or spring: Drinking too many margaritas with Andrew and Erin at the Guapo’s in Tenleytown, then going next door to purchase Snickerdoodle cookies at Whole Foods, then holding them up to a heat lamp while declaring, “Fresh baked!” You’d have to be there.

9. Some Sunday afternoon in May: Meeting Albert. At long last, Andrew and I have a good friend in our own neighborhood. If only there was something good to do there.

8. Saturday, June 21: Treating The Moms to her first cosmopolitan on the patio at Poste after taking her to see “Sex and the City.” One sip and she was hammered. It was cute.

7. Saturday, July 21: Attending the Grammy Foundation’s Starry Night dinner in Los Angeles with my boss. I attended a dinner with Chris Martin, Tom Jones, Yoko Ono and Sir George Martin, but truth be told, the best part was spending the evening with the boss. (No, not Springsteen. The actual boss.)

6. Saturday, Aug. 9: Reaching the end of our canoe expedition in Lost River, W.Va. If ever you hear me say I want to go canoeing again, please have me committed, because I’ve clearly lost my mind. (Still, if I must have a miserable “Deliverance”-style experience, I suppose I’d rather have it with Justin and Steve than just about anyone else.)

5. Thursday, Aug. 21: Meeting Nikolai the Serbian Waiter in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Ah, Nikolai. How sad that our summer love affair that existed only in my mind. (Just as your romance with Andrew existed only in his.) We’ll always have Aqua.

4. Thursday, Oct. 21: Touring the Tower of London. Dickie Dover, tour guide extraordinaire, made this the highlight of my visit to London. You can see video of his Jack the Ripper tour here.

3. Tuesday, Nov. 4: Watching CNN declare Barack Obama president-elect. One day, I hope I look back on that night and realize it was the moment the world changed forever.

2. Sunday, Dec. 14: Treating The Dads and family to brunch at the Guapo’s in Tenleytown A nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

1. Any and every evening I spend with Andrew. In the summertime, there is absolutely no one I’d rather stay up all night talking with over a bottle of wine on the balcony. In the wintertime, nothing makes me happier than looking across the living room and seeing him sitting in his chair, wearing his headphones and blogging away. I am thankful for him every day.


On the occasion of having completed a record 33 books this year, including these 10 new releases.

10. “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded Americans is Tearing Us Apart.” Ever wonder how the red and blue states got that way? This book shows you how, with the numbers to prove it.

9. “The Clothes On Their Backs.” This British novel, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, was the only new fiction I read in 2008. I read the entire thing in a single day on the flight home from London.

8. “White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters.” This history of presidential speechwriting is entertaining, even if much of the material has been covered elsewhere.

7. “The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of America.” Feeling pessimistic about our nation’s future? Read the fourth chapter of this book, which focuses on the globally networked, inclusive millennial generation. You’ll feel better about America’s prospects in the new century.

6. “Only in America: Inside the Mind and Under the Skin of the Nation Everyone Loves to Hate.” Matt Frei, a BBC reporter stationed in America, looks at life in the United States on the even of the 2008 election. Poorly edited and often repetitive, but never dull. To understand America, it helps to see the country through an outsider’s eyes.

5. “The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British.”  The flip side of “Only in America.” Sarah Lyall, the New York Times’ correspondent in London, offers an endearing look at the British people and their many quirks. I read this before Andrew and I visited London in October. I’m glad I did.

4. “All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C.”  Fascinating. Author Craig Seymour recalls his life as a stripper in D.C. in the early ’90s. It’s about stripping, yes, but it’s also about a unique moment in the history of my hometown.

3. “The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Changed America.” Author Thurston Clarke is quickly becoming my favorite historian. I began the year reading “Ask Not,” his excellent accounting of JFK’s inauguration. “The Last Campaign,” which I read in the spring, helped me understand what made RFK a politician like no other.

the-place-to-be2. “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News.” Roger Mudd’s memoir focuses on his career at CBS News’s storied Washington bureau. A spectacular read and a wonderful reminder of why Mudd remains a broadcast journalism.

1. “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History.” Ted Sorensen’s beautifully written, elegant accounting of his career, including, most notably, his work as one of President Kennedy’s top advisors. This book, more than any other, demonstrates why Kennedy is worthy of the iconic place he holds in the American pantheon. 

On the occasion of having waited until the last possible day to compile this list.

10. “American Teen.” A cringe-inducing look at high school in middle America.

9. “The Wrestler.” Mickey Rourke, raw.

8. “Religulous.” Not so much a documentary as a political statement, but one I increasingly agree with.

7. “Frozen River.” Melissa Leo, I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but you were brilliant here.

6. “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Woody Allen, you should have left New York years ago.

5. “Doubt.” This movie’s greatness comes from its willingness to be different.

4. “Man on Wire.” Poetry on celluloid.

3. “Slumdog Millionaire.” A modern day fairy tale.

2. “Gran Torino.” Forget “Million Dollar Baby,” “Mystic River” and the World War II films; this is Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece.

sean-penn-as-harvey-milk1. “Milk.” An instant classic.

On the occasion of being surprised to learn there were 10 shows I actually enjoyed this year.

10. “Project Runway,” Bravo. Still television’s best “reality” show.

9. “90210,” CW. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, but the revival is my guiltiest pleasure. Memo to the producers: Your main cast is beginning to click, but please don’t forget about Shannen Doherty, whose guest appearances as Brenda remain the best reason to watch this show.

8. “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.” Yes, Couric’s interviews with Sarah Palin were devastating, but that wasn’t the only reason this was the newscast to watch in 2008. Her “Presidential Questions” interviews were revealing, offering the kind insight into the candidates’ thinking that voters couldn’t find anywhere else.

7. “True Blood,” HBO. We don’t have HBO (long story), but I saw the pilot on DVD. That was enough to earn it a place on this list.

6. “Saturday Night Live,” NBC. Tina Fey’s cold openings are deservedly rave-worthy, but don’t overlook Kristen Wiig, who almost single-handedly kept the show alive for the remaining 85 minutes each week.

5. “30 Rock,” NBC. The last great sitcom?

Swingtown4. “Swingtown,” CBS. The cancellation of this prime time serial – which played more like a gauzy memory of suburban America in the ’70s than a soap opera – was the greatest TV crime of the year. “Swingtown” was the spiritual descendent of my beloved “Knots Landing,” boasting a triumphant triumvirate of women characters – Susan, Janet and Trina – that recalled Karen, Val and Abby in their heyday. If CBS’s suits were smart – heavy emphasis on the “if” – they’d keep “Swingtown” alive, making the show a summertime tradition.

3. “Battlestar Galactica,” Sci Fi. Not its strongest season, but even on a bad day it’s better than almost anything else on television.

2. “Lost,” ABC. After all this time, “Lost” continued to confound and compel in 2008. One of television’s all-time great shows.

1. “Mad Men,” AMC. The period setting and costumes mask this show’s greatest strength: its utter weirdness. Every character is at least a little strange, and you never know what kooky thing they’re going to make next. That, more than anything else, is what kept me coming back week after week.

On the occasion of feeling compelled to impress Andrew and horrify Robin.

10. “American Boy,” Estelle. I, too, would like to know what’s underneath Kanye’s baggy jeans.

9. “Closer,” Ne-Yo. Aside from Andrew, I receive most of my exposure to new music from VH1’s “Jump Start,” which is where I discovered this. “Closer” is one of those songs that’s best enjoyed in video form, thanks to Ne-Yo’s smooth dance moves.

8. “4 Minutes,” Madonna and Justin Timberlake. With its “tick tock tick tock tick tock” refrain, this song was made to be used in a “24” promo.

7. “Green Light,” John Legend (featuring Andre 3000). This dude could sing a GAO report and make me feel funny down there.

6. “Run,” Leona Lewis. I like the Snow Patrol version, but is there any doubt “Run” was made for her to sing? What I like about Leona is that her performances are strong without devolving into Mariah- or Whitney-esque histrionics.

5. “No Air,” Jordin Sparks (featuring Chris Brown). I watched this video a gazillion times on VH1 and never tired of it.

4. “Mercy,” Duffy. Love that ’60s vibe.

3. “Without You,” The Feeling. A terrific little song about feeling homesick. Andrew suspects the song’s refrain – “It’s raining hard in North Virginia/Just like London Town” – was inspired by a gig this British band played at a Borders bookstore in Bailey’s Crossroads, Va., a few years ago. I’m confident rain is the only thing soulless Northern Virginia has in common majestic London.

2. “Kids,” MGMT. Fun indie pop.

1. “Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis. Robin, hate me if you must, but this is a spectacular pop song.


On the occasion of my ordering a tuna salad sandwich at Chadwick’s in Friendship Heights this afternoon and living to tell the tale.

5. “Never order tuna salad at a restaurant. The mayonnaise may be spoiled, and after you eat it you could die.”

4. “Never write on your skin with an ink pen. You could get ink poisoning and die.”

3. “Never eat at a Chinese restaurant. You could wind up eating cat meat and die.”

2. “Never hold yourself when you have to pee. It could stunt your growth like it did Gary Coleman, or you could damage your kidneys and die.”

1. “Never move to D.C. It’s too dangerous. You could get shot on your way to the grocery store and die.”


On the occasion of feeling thankful.

plaid-pajama-bottoms9. Plaid pajama bottoms. Remember how Ricky Ricardo would wear the pajama bottoms and Lucy would wear the top? I wonder if Andrew and I could recreate that look in our home?















the-kennedys-portrait-of-a-family8. through 6. “The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family,” “Remembering Jack,” “A Time It Was.” I went on a real Kennedy kick in the spring and summer, reading a ton of books about Jack and Bobby. I added these photography books to my Amazon wish list and – surprise! – I got all three.











































brushed-cotton-blazer5. Brushed cotton blazer. I really like the way this fits. Of course, if I don’t quit eating the Christmas cookies, I’ll never be able to wear it.















lincoln-the-biography-of-a-writer4. “Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer.” This has made several critics’ year-end “best of 2008” lists. I hope it lives up to the hype.
















the-west-wing43. “The West Wing.” I’ve wanted to own the complete series since, well, the series ended. It’s about time someone got this for me.












canon-pixma-mp6202. Canon Pixma MP620. Truly an unexpected surprise. Now I can digitize my TV Guide collection and post it here! Imagine the storage room I’ll save.










big-ben1. Big Ben ornament. The ninth ornament Andrew has given me in our eight-and-a-half-years together. I hope this will become an enduring reminder of the time we spent in London this year.