15 December 2008

My top three 'Top Three' lists

Well the end of the year is upon us, and as I look forward to a long few weeks of watching the 'Top 100 'Top 100' programs of all time' on E4, possibly twice, I have been thinking about my own recommendations from 2008 - so here are in nor particular order are my top three books/films/music, not the best of any that I've seen/read/heard all year, but the best of those produced this year.

Top Three Books
'Angler' - Barton Gellman's account of the Vice Presidency of Dick Cheney - he is one evil little man (Cheney, not Gellman). Here's a typical example: Cheney was asked to head up the committee to find George W's VP candidate, so he put together a very detailed questionnaire to be completed by everyone on the shortlist designed to identify anything in that candidate's past that might embarrass the campaign. After collecting all this sensitive information from the candidates, he then selected himself to be the VP candidate, though of course he himself had not undergone any vetting whatsoever. Over the course of the next few years he proceeded to use the information that he had collected in the vetting process to damage potential rivals through a series of strategic leaks to the press. Nice.

'Anathem' - Neil Stephenson's big hefty book about a monastery of theoretical physicists and mathematicians is full of unnecessarily made-up words that takes a while to get into, but is much better than his recent 'System of the World' series. Possibly a bit too long, none-the-less I found the actual act of reading the book as enjoyable as the story itself.

'The Night Sessions' - Ken MacLeod's novel of secularism vs religion in the not too distant utopian future of Edinburgh. MacLeod is my favourite genre writer, he's a blatant socialist and assumes his audience isn't just composed of pubescent boys. My favourite quote of his comes from a heated Usenet discussion:
"Hey, this is Europe. We took it from nobody; we won it from the bare soil that the ice left. The bones of our ancestors, and the stones of their works, are everywhere. Our liberties were won in wars and revolutions so terrible that we do not fear our governors: they fear us. Our children giggle and eat ice-cream in the palaces of past rulers. We snap our fingers at kings. We laugh at popes. When we have built up tyrants, we have brought them down. And we have nuclear *fucking* weapons."
Top Three films
'In Bruges' - best Irish film in a long, long time, even if it does have Colin Farrell in it. Possibly impenetrable to non Hiberno-English speakers, but correspondingly a more authentic portrayal of Dubliners than 'The Commitments'. All of this, and it's not even set in Ireland.

'Wall-E' - an amazing film that manages to go twenty-odd minutes without any dialogue. Its anti-consumerist and ecological message was somewhat dented by the sheer volume of merchandise and corporate tie-ins, including (with no trace of irony) a kid's website made by oil giant BP.

'Burn After Reading' - Cohen Brothers return to a more-comedy, less-haircut driven film. At the end you realise that every character is deeply flawed and nothing realy has a point. Typical Cohen Brothers so.

Top Three Albums

'Radio Retaliation' - Thievery Corporation. Not their best, but I seem to have played it an awful lot. With Femi Kuti, Seu Jorge and a lot of anti-globalisation sentiment. Also, best album packaging in a long time.

"Ninja Tune' - Mr Scruff. Jazzy electronica that bounces along with a happy smile on its face. No stand out track like "Fish" from 'Keep It Unreal', but then again nothing ever really has come close to that, but it does try.

'Same As It Never Was' - The Herbaliser. Lighter than previous albums, but still cracks along at a fair pace on some tracks.

To be honest my top tunes are all from artists that I've been listening to for years, aren't their best ever release, and have probably been chosen for sentimental reasons rather than pure quality.

Also, the stuff kids listen to today is poo.

3 Comments:

At 8:49 pm, Blogger tpy said...

Since I'm not 30 yet, I guess I'm still one of the 'kids these days', right? So let me recommend Passion Pit (especially "Sleepyhead"), Friendly Fires ("On Board" and "Paris"), and (if you really want to impress the teenage girls you know) Girl Talk. I think you'd like 'em, even if there is a lot of poo out there.

 
At 3:02 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

Right so, just downloaded Passion Pit and Friendly Fires, Girl Talk will have to wait to January's EMusic ration. While I am suspicious because you have the self-confessed musical taste of a teenage girl (but are comfortable with that), I will give it all an audial whirl - Cheers Mr T!

 
At 7:53 pm, Blogger tpy said...

And since I recommended Girl Talk to you, I clearly implied that I think you have the musical tastes of a teenage girl. Next thing you know, you'll be reading books about sexy vampires and chatting in Gossip GIrl forums.

 

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