26 December 2005


Rather than bore you with what movies I thought were best (because, let's face it, opinions are like certain unmentionable sphincter muscles) I thought I'd give my five top entertainment experiences from this past year. It's a bit more all-encompassing, and far more personal. That way you the reader won't feel obliged to send me an e-mail calling me a dolt for putting March of the Penguins on the top of my list.

Number 5 - Revenge of the Sith at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. Sure, I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was the best of the prequels (so much so, I saw it twice; that's pretty rare for me.) What made this screening so special was seeing it opening weekend in a sold out house, in one of Hollywood's iconographic classic movie houses. Every person there was there to ENJOY the movie. That really effects how you watch a movie. Also, our screening was "overseen" by the Fighting 501st. Such a simple thing, (armed stormtroopers at the doors to the theater) added so much excitement to the whole experience.

Number 4 - Discovering Freaks and Geeks. I had heard good things about this show. I had no idea it was so amazingly good. Even the pilot episode felt fully fleshed out and arrived. You know how most pilots feel like it's the obligatory first step, like putting your big toe in the swimming pool to test the temperature before diving in? This show does a canonball from the first moments and just doesn't let up. This is television-as-art to be sure.

Honestly, why this show was cancelled will remain a riddle for the ages. The writing is tight, the performances . . . aw forget it. Just go out and BUY (not rent) the DVD. This is one of those things that you'd wind up renting more than once, and then kick yourself the third time around for not just buying it in the first place.

Number 3 - Rediscovering Baseball. There is something so primal about sporting events. It's a lot like really long form improvisation with thousands of screaming fans and a scoreboard. Pamela and I wound up at four baseball games this past year at Dodger Stadium. (I hadn't been to a pro game since 1988, when the Cubs played a double header vs. the Expos.) We got so wrapped up in the whole thing we actually watched the entire World Series. That probably doesn't read as something unique or extraordinary, but for us it truly was. Baseball is good entertainment.

Number 2 - The Getty Center. One day Pamela and I were completely broke. I mean completely. As in digging through couch coushins to find gas money so we could roll into work on Monday. We were also bored. I remembered once hearing something about "free admission" and "The Getty Museum." A quick check of the net verified my recollection. That was our price range! So off we went.

The Getty is an absolute gem. It sits perched high above the vast expanse of Los Angeles, like a citadel of art and beauty. It recharged my artistic batteries. I most enjoyed their current exhibitions of illuminated manuscripts, and the photography of Weegee.

Number 1 - Nickel Creek, live in concert. And free (again, well within my price range.) Amoeba Music in Hollywood has weekly free concerts. The day Pamela spotted "Nickel Creek" on the marquee I nearly wrecked the car trying to make out the date.

Nickel Creek plays bluegrass . . . but very "pop" bluegrass. They're all youngsters; Sarah Watkins on fiddle, her brother Sean on guitar, and the inimitable Chris Thile burning up the mandolin. Thile is the Eddie Van Halen of mandolin.

Why Should the Fire Die? is their latest disc, and it is absolutely amazing. Pamela and I bought it after the concert and stood in line for an hour to have them sign it. On stage, they're energetic and confident. They put on a good show -- they know how to handle an audience. Offstage they're funny, enagaging and modest.

Okay, so that's it. My obligatory top 5 list for 2005. Lists of movies or books are boring. I'm far more interested in entertainment experiences. I'm interested in your experiences!!! To the left, you'll see a "Forum" button. Enter the forum and tell me about your favorite entertainment experience of 2005! (All 14 of you, including my mom.)

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