1. TOWNES VAN ZANDT. I know I'd heard of this folk/blues/country legend by way of other folk/blues/country legends, but something happened last month that made me investigate the particulars of Townes Van Zandt. Good lawd, there is some good music here. I also caught the stunning doc, BE HERE TO LOVE ME. Dude was in it for real.
2. PARKS AND RECREATION. Over the holidaze, I had the good fortune of getting into this outstanding show via Netflix "watch instantly". Oh my, the laughs were streaming. Everything about this rules. I will say, the first couple of episodes of season 1 were a little dry and slow to go, but after that, I was hooked and how. What an incredible, perfect ensemble cast. My favorite characters kept changing as I watched through the two seasons. Love 'em all. Can't wait for season three to hit in a couple of weeks.
3. CHAINS. By Laurie Halse Anderson. If you read this blog, you will know that I recently enjoyed M.T. Anderson's Octavian Nothing books. Of course, as my lovely wife suggested, I had to read CHAINS. The life of brilliant, courageous, feisty Isabel, a slave at the time of the American Revolution. Amazing and beautiful and exciting and heartbreaking. Oh, and (spoiler alert!), I just finished the follow-up, FORGE, which will appear on January's Top Ten list, natch.
4. WONDER BOYS. I read the book, by Michael Chabon, many years back. I found I could watch the movie (which I had not seen) on, yes, Netflix streaming. This is some good madcap academia. And I was, surprisingly, very fond of Michael Douglas's performance here. Very much enjoyed this flick.
5. A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE. Written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. This is one I kept seeing pop up on people's Caldecott contender lists. And best of lists. I finally got a look, and I whole-heartedly agree. It's got a sweet old school pic book vibe about it in both the story and the illustrations. But there is an inventiveness to both that is quite striking, springing AMOS into our modern book-making times. Without a doubt, one of my personal favorites of the year.
6. ILLUSTRATORS UNITE. It can be a lonely work environment as an illustrator, I tell ya. So I've been trying to hunt down some cool, fun, quality picture book illustrators in my area to hang with. Vent with. Talk shop and ideas with. After a lot of searching, emailing, hounding, and some planning, there was an inaugural sit-down in early December of illustrators, Larry Day, Jeff Newman, Aaron Renier, Eric Rohmann, and myself. Lots of art talk, book talk, in-between stuff talk, and a hint of Wisconsin bred heavy metal for good measure. An excellent night.
7. HELEN STEPHENS. I found this book, FLEABAG, at my local library. Boy am I glad I did. Ms. Stephens has a very nice touch. A very wonderful painterly, Bemelmans-y, easy, breezy, outstandingly loose and stylish look to her work. Looking forward to hunting down some more.
8. 200 CHRISTMASES. Julie passed this little gem along last month. Fans of classic 90210 or not, all shall enjoy and appreciate the absurdity of this. Have a look.
9. THIS OLD PHOTO. Yeah, for whatever reason, I ran across this old pic of me and Lou Ferrigno. Circa 2001. Got a new laugh out of it. You know how we do.
10. CHRISMUKKAH. Romy has now experienced her third Hanukkah and Christmas. She's two now and really starting to get things of this nature. And she's very verbal and very full-throttle excited about stuff. She did not hold back, and it was a real treat for Julie and me.