List of the Day

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.

On the occasion of remembering why tomorrow morning used to be the most magical day of the year.

wwf-figures5. WWF action figures. In 1984, about the time I began realizing I was different from other boys, I asked Santa to bring me these. I think I was hoping my dad and brother would be impressed by my sudden interest in something “macho.” Santa obliged, but I don’t think I ever really played with these.





boba-fett4. Boba Fett large action figure. Santa brought me this in 1979 – and I hated it. I had no idea who Boba Fett was; it would be another six months before the character made his debut in “The Empire Strikes Back.” (I guess I didn’t remember Boba from his cameo in the “Star Wars Holiday Special” in 1978.) Looking back, I realize how foolish I was to turn up my nose at one of the coolest action figures ever produced.








mash-military-base3. “M*A*S*H” toys. In ’82 or ’83, I received the entire line of “M*A*S*H” action figures, vehicles and playsets, including the military base. I had a lot of fun playing with this stuff, even though I didn’t become a “M*A*S*H” fan until my late teens. The real oddity here is why someone produced toys based on a very adult TV show.







six-million-dollar-man2. “Six Million Dollar Man” action figure. I owned several of these during the course of my childhood. According to one family photograph, I received at least one of them on Christmas Day.








star-wars-laser-pistol1. Star Wars laser pistol. This toy earns the top spot on this list because its presence in my life was so fleeting. I received it on Christmas morning in 1977 or 1978 and, soon thereafter, left it in the booth at the restaurant where my mom waited tables. (My memory tells me this happened later on Christmas Day, but what restaurant is open on Dec. 25?) Regardless, I never recovered this pistol after it left my hot little hands.


On the occasion of being sick of hearing this shit.

 5. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” Elmo ’n’ Patsy. This was funny for, like, a minute. In 1983.

4. “Wonderful Christmastime,” Paul McCartney. Nothing says Christmas like the molestation of a synthesizer.

3. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” The Jackson Five. Makes you wonder how Michael ever became a superstar.

2. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Bruce Springsteen. This one makes my ears bleed eggnog.

1. “Santa Baby,” Madonna. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me run faster for the fast forward button.


On the occasion of physically appealing men always making good subject matter for these lists.

sr-sidarth25. S.R. Sidarth a.k.a. “Macaca.” This is kind of cheating. Sidarth was famous in 2006, when his camcorder helped end the career of Sen. George Allen of Virginia. Until then, Allen was a front-runner for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, so Sidarth kinda qualifies for this list. OK, that’s a stretch, I know. But look at this kid. He’s beautiful.




nick-jones14. Nick Jones. Again, a bit of a cheat. Jones caught the eye of many a gay man in 2005, when his grandfather was revealed to be Deep Throat, the most famous informant in journalism. But since Felt died last week, handsome young Nick sorta qualifies for this list.




muntadar-al-zaidi13. Muntadar al-Zaidi. This is the guy who threw his shoes at George W. Bush during the president’s visit to Iraq last week. Since then, he’s probably been beaten beyond recognition by the Iraqi authorities. What a shame. He has such a nice face.






mitch-reinholt22. Mitch Reinholt. The dreamboat who stole the show in this year’s sleeper documentary “American Teen.”









Palin Wasilla Heartthrob1. Levi Johnston. Bristol Palin’s babydaddy. Like most high school athletic stars, he’ll probably start losing his looks soon. Until then, let’s all enjoy the splendor of our dear, dim Levi.



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