Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Best And Worst Of 2023

It's time for my annual best and worst of the year in pop culture, entertainment, and more. As you'll see, there are not many "worst of" below. I have limited time, so I'm not watching or reading things I'm not interested in. Here we go:

Best TV Show: Shrinking

I loved this Apple+ show. Jason Segal plays a therapist struggling with the loss of his wife. While I like the storylines of Segal with his patients and his relationship with daughter, what really makes the show are his colleagues, Jessica Williams and Harrison Ford. They are fantastic. It's fun watching Harrison Ford be funny. This scene was the best thing I saw all year.

Honorable mention: Jury Duty

This was such a unique show. Everyone, meaning the lawyers, judge, jury members, etc. are actors...except for one jury member named Ronald who believes that this is a real case. Ronald is such a likable guy, and I don't think this show would work with a different lead. James Marsden playing a version of himself is also fun.

For no apparent reason, I tracked every TV show I watched this year, and I feel like sharing this. 

Better Call Saul (last season)
Party Down (original)
The Chair
Night Court
American Auto
Not Dead Yet
Quantum Leap
Abbott Elementary
Yellowjackets (season 1)
Ted Lasso (season 3)
Welcome to Wrexham
Lucky Hank
The Big Door Prize
Mrs. Maisel (season 4)
The Afterparty (season 2)
Jury Duty
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
The Wonder Years
Miracle Workers
Barry (last season)
Succession (part of last season)
Lego Masters
The Bear (season 1)

Best Songs: HONEY (ARE YOU COMING?) by Maneskin and bad idea right? by Olivia Rodrigo

All caps and no capital letters at all? Can we please work on this! While I'm way out of her target audience, I am an Olivia Rodrigo fan, particularly with her up-tempo songs. bad idea right? gives me a vibe of  "Naked Eye" by Luscious Jackson. Oh, the song is definitely not suitable for work.

Meanwhile, I think Maneskin has the best guitar riff of the year with HONEY

Worst Song: Popular by The Weeknd, Playboi Cardi, and Madonna

Looking at my archives, I picked two songs by The Weeknd as the best of the year over the last few years. This is certainly not an anti The Weeknd post. While Popular isn't bad, I don't find it good either. It's repetitive and don't feel that Madonna adds anything to it.

Best Movie: Parasite

Parasite won the best picture Oscar a few years ago, so I'm a little late to this. The storyline is essentially a poor family scamming a rich family. I mean, there's definitely the message of class and the spoils of the rich. Definitely did not expect the ending.

Most Interesting Movie: The Menu

I can't put this as the worst movie since it's just so different from anything I've seen. I watched The Menu on an airplane and remember leaving the plane thinking "What the heck was that?" I really want to see this again.

And now, these are all of the movies I watched in 2023:

The Menu
Rise (A movie about Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family)
Anchorman 2
Logan Lucky
Homeward Bound: An Incredible Journey 
Family Switch

My New Year's Resolution for 2024 is to watch more movies. Almost all of these are movies for kids/families. There's no Barbie or Oppenheimer. I mean, how can I get a media credential for The Oscars with this list?

Best Sports Moment: Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday completed the biggest comeback in English Football League playoff history back in May. Down 4-0 after the first leg, the team battled back to tie the overall score at 4-4 in the 90+7th minute. Peterborough, their opponent, got a goal in extra time, but Wednesday tied it again before advancing in penalty kicks. By far the best sports moment of 2023. (More about this game is available from my May post.)

Worst Sports Moment: Pittsburgh Sports

Although Pitt's men's basketball team returned to the NCAA tournament and the women's volleyball team is now a consistent power, the professional teams struggled. The Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season, the Steelers are an average NFL team, and the Pirates, though better in 2023 compared to 2022, still had a record under .500. While I don't have a specific moment for the worst sports moment, the Pirates were 20-8 after we attended the 16-1 victory over the Nationals, and several weeks later, the team's record was 35-42. Lots of losses. Actually, there is a worst moment. The Penguins, battling for a playoff spot in the next-to-last game of the season, lost at home to the worst team in the NHL.

Best Book: 12-way tie!

Okay, this definitely isn't true. I just wanted to share that I read 12 books this year, by far the most since the pandemic started. I was part of a book club in 2023, and book clubs are stressful! It's like high school all over again trying to finish a book in time for the discussion or test. At least we have snacks for book club! Here's what I read this year:

The Umpire Is Out by Dale Scott
How to be Perfect by Michael Schur
Raise a Fist, Take a Knee: Race and the Illusion of Progress in Modern Sports by John Feinstein
The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch 
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes
The Housemaid by Freida McFadden
Just Like You by Nick Hornby
The Housemaid's Secret by Freida McFadden
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Why We Love Baseball by Joe Posnanski

Best Live Concert: Pink

Worst Live Concert: Bruce Springsteen

Before you freak out, this is the worst concert I attended because I didn't attend. Bruce postponed his concert from August to September and then to 2024. Hopefully he'll appear in my best live concert in my 2024 post.

Best Blog Post: Goodbye Ziggy

In May, we had to say goodbye to our cat Ziggy. I still miss him.

Worst Blog Post: Is Tim Tebow's Wife a Pirates Fan?

Since she wore a hat with a "P," I immediately thought it was a Pittsburgh Pirates hat. It was probably a Puma hat.

While this may or may not be my last post of 2023, have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Wizards And Capitals Should Stay In Washington

Let's get all of this out of the way before I start the point of this post. I live in Northern Virginia but not in Alexandria or particularly close to the proposed Potomac Yard site for a new arena for the Washington Capitals and Wizards. I've attended concerts, Wizards, Caps, and Georgetown basketball games over the 20+ years I've lived in the DC area, but I haven't been to the Capital One Arena in Washington since the pandemic started. So although the recent announcement about the Wizards and Caps moving from DC to Alexandria doesn't really impact me, why does it bother me so much?

By all accounts, the Gallery Place/Chinatown area of DC was completely revitalized by the building of the Capital One Arena (previously the MCI Center and Verizon Center) in the late 1990s. Between home games for the Wizards and Caps along with Georgetown basketball games, concerts, monster truck shows, etc., there are probably about 150 events at the arena each year. Taking away the Wizards and Caps will be absolutely devastating to the businesses in that neighborhood. Meanwhile, state and local taxpayers are going to be on the hook for $1.35 billion for the building of the new arena and entertainment complex in Alexandria, Virginia. This would be the largest public subsidy of a project of this kind. There is not currently adequate infrastructure in the Potomac Yard area, so we're talking about a significant investment needed in roads, though it's not clear if that's part of the $1.35 billion. In any event, I don't see how this is a good deal for Virginia residents. That's A LOT of money. And it's not like we're going to get free tickets or free parking. Ticket and parking prices aren't going to be cheap. Now all of this is a great deal for Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. This is a live look at Ted if this deal gets signed. 

The model for Potomac Yard is The Battery area in Cobb County, Georgia. The Atlanta Braves moved about 10 miles outside the city to an area with a new stadium and entertainment district. It's really nice. Several years after opening though, I'd love to know the economic impact on Atlanta, Cobb County, and the Atlanta Braves. Cobb County (and its taxpayers) put significant money into the area. Curious what the return on investment has been. Plus, what's the impact for the city of Atlanta and the area that housed Turner Field? (I don't remember there being much to do before or after a game outside Turner Field which differs from the area outside Capital One.)

To me, it just seems like the Wizards and Caps should play in Washington. Although Potomac Yard is only four miles from Capital One, it's a world away. 

Here are a few more videos about this potential move.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Health Update

I'm really terrible at post titles. I mean, starting with a title of "Health Update" sounds ominous. Is something wrong? Was something wrong but now there's good news? It's actually none of the above.

I had my annual physical recently, and my doctor said I'm in great shape. In his follow-up report after receiving the blood test results, he wrote that I'm in "very good health" with my liver, kidneys, thyroid, etc. all normal and to come back in a year. This all sounds great, but I'm not completely convinced. First, my weight is up 6 pounds from last year. Now, I wouldn't recommend attending two holiday parties and a food testing event in the days before my physical, but I don't think that accounts for a 6-pound gain. Plus, while my total cholesterol (171) is in the okay range, my LDL, or bad cholesterol, is at 112 which falls into the high range. 

I saw the results on the doctor's online portal before the medical assistant or physician assistant called me. He shared the note from the doctor about my good health, and I asked him about the LDL number. The PA/MA said that I need to exercise more, have more salad, and eat less chips and fried foods. How does he know about my eating habits? I mean, I'm helping the economy and saving money by buying chips/salty snacks that are on sale at Costco! 

Fine. I'll start eating more celery. (Is celery with ranch or peanut butter okay?) I also just bought a pickleball racket, so I hope to hit the courts this winter since I definitely don't want to do any outdoor exercising. Stupid winter!

Photos are a screenshot of Brewster's Millions and from this Forbes article.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

What's Going On

Once again, I'm stealing Heidi's idea for a "Housekeeping" post to share what's going on in my life.

* Both The Moose and Pedro Tulo are playing basketball this winter. This is the first time Pedro Tulo (4th grade) has played organized basketball, and this is definitely a learning experience for him. I'm hoping that he becomes a defensive stopper this season since it's still difficult for him to shoot. The baskets are really high for a little guy. Meanwhile, this is the third season for The Moose (7th grade), and he has the same coach along with a few teammates from last season. The Moose seems to be all about taking outside shots. He doesn't seem eager to battle with the "trees" down low.

* Hanukkah starts at sundown on Thursday. As usual, I'm trying to promote the pickles at Hanukkah tradition which started in 1998. (Here's the full story about how the tradition started.) While I'm excited to host a pickle taste test at my synagogue as part of our Hanukkah party (per the picture below, the pickles have been purchased!), the main way I'm attempting to promote the pickle tradition this year is commenting on and liking somewhat random Hanukkah posts on Instagram and Facebook with the pickle accounts. Not sure of the effectiveness of this plan. By the way, please follow the Hanukkah Pickles account on Instagram and the Pickles at Chanukah account on Facebook.

* With the temperatures regularly in the 40s, we’re now in dry-hand season. My hands look forward to March and April.

* I’m very late to this, but I started watching Yellowstone. This show proves that I could never work on a ranch. Or get involved in Montana politics. What’s interesting is that I’m watching most episodes on CBS, and thanks to a Thanksgiving marathon, I recorded many episodes from the Paramount network, a station I didn’t know I had. It’s quite jarring watching a show without swear words transition to one with swear words. I think you’re used to one or the other and not characters “changing” their language part way through a show.

* I took Luigi to a birthday party of one of his first grade classmates a few weeks ago. Nothing makes my introverted side come out more than a trampoline park where I don’t know any of the parents and don’t even know which parents are part of my group since there are several parties going on at once.

* My recent dentist appointment was a success. The receptionist at my dentist’s office noted that I’ve been a patient for 20 years now. This is now one of my longest relationships!