BEST AND WORST OF BOOKS
BEST - THE COLDEST WINTER by David Halberstam
When Halberstam died in 2007, I wrote about my feelings about it in this stunning and award-winning post. He was one of the most influential writers in my life. So, when I found out that he had finished one last book before he died, and that it was on the Korean War, I knew I had to get it. My father fought in Korea, and I have always been interested in the topic - trying to find out some more about his experience. That was the one thing my dad didn't ever really want to talk much about. Well, I finally got the book and it just reinforced how much this world is going to miss a writer that talented. For most people, reading a history book about a war (let alone a 736 page book) would be a nightmare. Quite the opposite in the hands of a master.
BEST - THE REAGAN DIARIES by Ronald Reagan
In modern politics, more often than not, we have no idea what our leaders are thinking. And expecting them to explain things is just wasting time. That is what makes this book so unbelievable. Ronald Reagan kept a journal while in office - talking about his thoughts on events, family, government, and more. It is surreal, to read what was actually going on in the mind of the "Leader of the Free World" during one of the most turbulent times in American history. Whatever you thought of Reagan, this is a must-read. He writes about his assassination attempt, his battles with son Ron, the Soviets (whom he feared would bring Armageddon), his love for Nancy, and his faith. When we were lucky enough to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library back in June, they actually had the real journals displayed - one for each year in office. He is the only President, and with all the concerns over "getting in trouble," he'll probably be the last. Too bad. I would LOVE to figure out what was behind some of W's ideas.
BEST AND WORST OF MUSIC
BEST - MAGIC by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
I have always appreciated The Boss from the outside. I never really was a huge fan, but I liked a lot of his stuff. At some point, I had a few cassettes. Now, all I really have is his Best of album, which is great. This year, Springsteen surprised everyone by putting this album out. No one really knew he had an album planned, let alone one with the whole E Street Band. iTunes offered the first single ("Radio Nowhere") for free. So I used my album download on Real.com and got it. It was really good - harkened back to the legendary songs of the 1980s with a modern update. And, as always with Bruce, the songs are actually ABOUT something. I was pleasantly surprised.
BEST - BLINK by Plumb
Another sneaky artist was Plumb. She put out her latest in October without much fanfare or promotion. Too bad. Honestly, it is the most amazing album about being a parent ever. Over the years, Plumb has matured as a person and an artist. Her songs have become so much more personal. This album was incredible. As I listened, I heard thoughts that I feel about my kids, but much prettier. Several times I was close to tears. Then I realized I was a guy and I should be listening to manly music. So I went and listened to Springsteen again.
BEST - "No One" by Alicia Keys
This song from Keys' latest album is absolutely amazing. She is another artist who has grown a lot, and you can see the maturity in her music. This song is the story of a person who is completely in love with their spouse, no matter what anyone says or whatever happens. Every time I hear it, I think of Heather. It is a gorgeous song - the music, the lyrics, the voice. Beautiful.
BEST AND WORST OF TECHNOLOGY
WORST - Apple Leopard
For all the Windows bashing Apple likes to do, let me say that Apple was drifting close to their territory with this upgrade. Amid all the chest thumping about innovations like Time Machine, Spaces, and Quick Look (which are great), they neglected to the erasing of print drivers, the wrecking of your wireless abilities, and the screwing up of font libraries. And they certainly didn't talk about the legions of irritated Apple customers. Or how you would have to buy a new router. Or how you were wishing you (gulp) had a PC. Then you would remember Vista, and all was right with the world.
BEST and WORST - Palm Centro
As a long time Palm Treo user, I have been hoping for a significant upgrade. I keep seeing things like iPhone and Blackjack and hoping that Palm would try to compete. Instead, they offered the Centro. It is a great phone, and I love it - and so does my wife. However, it is really just a Treo in a smaller and cuter package. I love the upgraded features over my old phone (TV, Broadband internet, button assignments). And I am glad I can stay with Sprint, instead of having to jump to AT&T. However, I can't set up Sprint Music Manager on my Mac. So I still feel ripped off.
BEST and WORST - iPhone
Not as ripped off as those people who stood in line to buy the new Apple iPhone when it came out, only to see the price drop a few months later. While the incredible innovation should be on the Best list, the ridiculous price point, the exclusive AT&T contract, and the small storage space makes it a stinker. If you add in the disappointing AppleTV introduction, Apple didn't do that well in 2007.