I mark my return to a (hopefully) more frequent schedule of blogging by recording my thoughts on the year past in several areas.
I became a member of the National Book Critics Circle in 2007, and a couple of weeks ago I submitted my first nominations for its annual awards. Here are the nominations I made in the general nonfiction category:
1 Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, by Bill McKibben. I reviewed this for Metro Pulse a few months back.
2 Elites for Peace: The Senate and the Vietnam War, 1964-1968, by Gary Stone. I also reviewed this title in The American Conservative.
3 The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by Mearsheimer and Walt. Move along, nothing to see here.
4Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, by David R. Montgomery. Here's a brief review from Bookforum.
I haven't seen enough movies this year to make a top ten or even a top five list. My friend Jesse Walker annully makes several ten best lists from a decade ago and going back in time (eg. this year he is doing, 1997, 1987, etc.). Instead, I will list a few notable films from previous years that I saw for the first time in 2007.
1 The Jazz Singer(1927). This classic first "talking picture" is actually mostly still silent.
2 42nd Street, Footlight Parade , Gold Diggers of 1933. This trio of Warner Brothers backstage musicals, all from 1933, have similar plots and cast, but the real star in both cases is the outlandish choreography of Busby Berkeley.
3 One, Two, Three (1961). An outstanding Billy Wilder comedy starring the the great James Cagney, who moves at about a hundred miles an Hour in the second half of the film.
4 Ghost World (2001). "I can't relate to 99 per cent of humanity."
Person of the Year
Rightwingers whined when Time magazine chose Vladimir Putin instead of their favored candidate, David Petraeus. I would pick either of Time's runner ups -- Al Gore and J.K. Rowling -- over Petraeus. But consider the merits of Ron Paul, who has raised a boat load of money in his quixotic presidential campaign and threatens to upset the apple cart in the Republican party. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins a couple of primaries and caucuses this year.
UPDATE: I almost forgot to mention the entertainment phenomenon of the year in 2007 -- the return of several former writers and cast members of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy form the Film Crew. Their premise is that an unseen Charlie's Angelsesque boss assigns bad movies for them to provide DVD commentaries. I've seen a couple that they have done and they are pretty good. Joel Hodgson and several others have started Cinematic Titanic. I have seen their product yet, but I have high hopes. I commented on the regional nature of MST3K here.