Best of 2003

Well, I’m late with my year­ly round-up. I’ve enjoyed read­ing what oth­er weblog­gers have writ­ten on 2003, and hope­ful­ly I’ve got some­thing to offer. Here goes:

MUSIC

Yeah Yeah YeahsI won’t bore you with my the­o­ries of cor­re­la­tion between poor eco­nom­ic prospects and qual­i­ty rock music—suffice to say, 2003 was a lousy year to look for work, but it was anoth­er excel­lent year for rock. With­out any dom­i­nant “ism” (e.g., Alter­na­tive, Rap Met­al, etc.) defin­ing what was cool, small­er bands were giv­en the chance to exper­i­ment.

  • Stel­las­tar, Stel­las­tar —The 80s are back, and I’m thank­ful for it. But to dis­miss Stel­las­tar as a Goth­ic throw­back would be a crime— Shawn Christensen’s voice is more a post-punk David Byrne, (and I love basist Aman­da Tannen’s back­up vocals). My Coco is a great tune.
  • Blur, Think Tank —Ok, enough New York bands… Let’s talk about Blur. With their sem­i­nal gui­tarist Gra­ham Cox­on gone, and the Goril­laz side project behind him, Damon Albarn and crew turned out some­thing no one expected—a melod­ic, mea­sured, mature album, with some of the best album art by Banksy that I’ve seen. I miss the mod days of Mod­ern Life, but this was a fit­ting evo­lu­tion.

FILM

Lost in TranslationSum­mer movies still baf­fle me—I nev­er saw The Hulk or X-Men 2—but there were a few inter­est­ing films sprin­kled amongst the usu­al trash this past year. There were so many I missed this year, but here are a few worth con­sid­er­ing:

  • Lost in Trans­la­tion—I start­ed a new job this year, and I work close­ly with a Japan­ese girl, whose Eng­lish skills are… well, lim­it­ed. So, this film was my favorite in 2003. I was rolling on the Cin­e­ma floor laugh­ing dur­ing the “why do they switch their Ls and Rs” con­ver­sa­tion. I’d mar­ry Scar­lett Johans­son tomor­row.
  • In Amer­i­ca—Jim Sheridan’s semi-auto­bio sto­ry of an Irish fam­i­ly mov­ing to New York after the death of their son, was about as sweet and mag­i­cal an expe­ri­ence as is pos­si­ble at the movies. I hadn’t expect­ed it to be so emo­tion­al­ly heavy, but there is redemp­tion in the end.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean—John­ny Depp as a pirate and Orlan­do Bloom with a dread­ful mous­tache. What’s not to love?
  • Angels in Amer­i­ca—I’ve nev­er seen the play, but this 2-part HBO movie was exhil­a­rat­ing, inven­tive, and gut-wrench­ing. This film tack­les the big ques­tions of faith, love and iden­ti­ty.
  • Kill Bill—Uma and Quentin were back in 2003, and despite rumors that Kill Bill was going to suck, I real­ly enjoyed watch­ing Uma slice and dice her way through her address­book. Part II is com­ing in 2004, so maybe we’ll find out who the hell Bill is any­way.

POLITICS

Howard DeanFor those of you in late-pri­ma­ry states who might not be pay­ing atten­tion, there’s a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign under­way. Nev­er in my life­time have the stakes been so high—2003 showed us ter­ror­ism, pre­emp­tive war, tax cuts, bud­get deficits, job loss, and gay mar­riage (one pos­i­tive, at least).

  • Howard Dean—Not only has Howard Dean sin­gle-hand­ed­ly hand­ed the Democ­rats their balls back, he’s re-writ­ten the cam­paign hand­book and made blog­ging an impor­tant tool in reach­ing the Grass Roots. Sil­ly estab­lish­ment pun­dits are still dis­miss­ing him as the fla­vor-of-the-week (and weak), but I think he’s going to put up one hell of a fight, and he’ll be walk­ing and talk­ing a lot more like a tra­di­tion­al can­di­date after the pri­ma­ry.
  • Noth­ing else good hap­pened in 2003. sor­ry!

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