2011 Favorites – Picture & Post

It’s basically mid January, high time to be done with this little retrospective series. (Previous entries were movies, music, and – believe it or not – hockey goal.)

This post during my week as guest blogger at The Hardest Question was my most viewed post of the year. But I think this post was my favorite. I am so beyond sick to death of running into this “debate” in Christian circles. Enough already. Women are fully human beings and need to be treated as such.

Finally, the image that sums up the year. Taken during the Arab Spring, I wrote a little about it here and here. I find this picture a tremendous example of non-violent protest, of faithfulness, of the way forward. I hope as the Occupy movement here in the U.S. continues and gains traction, it will find a way to emulate this anonymous women:

2011 Movie Favorites

I’m trying hard to remember what movies I saw in 2011. There was a time in my life that I saw a ton of movies. But, as many of you no doubt have experienced, that was Before Kids. Now we see a few here and there in the theater, and a few more On Demand. I can’t remember the last time we rented a DVD. Oh wait, yes I do. It was more than a year ago when Blockbuster went from charging $0.99 for kids movies to charging $5!! Haven’t been back since. How’s ol’ Blockbuster doing, by the way? Anybody heard much from them lately? ‘Cause I haven’t.

I know I saw Moneyball, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, New Year’s Eve (Hey, it was date night, what can I say? Plus, it was reasonably funny.), The Road (yes, I know it’s a few years old but I saw it for the first time this year), X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Cars 2, The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle (on demand. No idea why I thought it might possibly be entertaining. It wasn’t. But you knew that didn’t you?), and let’s see…oh yeah, Thor and Captain America.

There may have been others earlier in the year, but I don’t remember them. What’s missing from my list? Oh, I don’t know, pretty much every movie on anyone’s ‘best of the year’ list.

Based on my very limited list, I’m sure Moneyball is the “right” answer. And it was very good. We laughed a lot more than I expected. Turns out Brad Pitt is more than just a pretty face.

But this is my favorites list and I’m a comic book geek…a comic book geek whose two favorite super heroes happen to be…Thor and Captain America. Yep, those are my 2011 favorite movies. Don’t make me pick one, because I can’t. I first started collecting Thor and Cap comic when I was in junior high. Picking between them would be like picking a favorite child. It just cannot be done.

While neither movie, er, rises to the level of The Dark Knight, they were both plenty of fun as both offered humor, subtle hints and homages for fan boys like me, and a good mix of fealty to the source materials with a fresh, contemporary take on the stories.

Thor was at its best during the scenes with Thor figuring out Midgard. That’s when his humanity emerged and he became likeable. Which, after all, was pretty much the point. Of course, the big fight scene with the frost giants was pretty darn cool too. And I loved the Hawkeye cameo.

Captain America was at its best creating a new reason for Cap to wear his classic costume. I thought that was brilliant. I also loved how the futuristic fair where Steve and Bucky and their dates go is right out of Marvels – including a glimpse of The Original Human Torch. And making Bucky, the future Winter Soldier, a sniper? Terrific.

Finally, there’s the Marvel signature: post-credits preview of what’s next. With these two movies, that means… The Avengers! (Have I mentioned I’m excited for May 4?)

How about you? What were your favorite movies in 2011?

One goal to unite them all – 2011 Favorites

Well, after tonight’s bad loss to the Philadelphia Flyers – their third loss in the last four games – it seems my beloved Chicago Blackhawks have entered their annual January swoon. As usual, Patrick Kane was right in the middle of the action, for good and ill.

With about 8 minutes left in the game, the Blackhawks were down 4-2. Then Patrick Sharp took a 4 minute high-sticking penalty. With the penalty nearly killed, Brent Seabrook wristed in a short-handed goal to the ‘Hawks hope. (Using ‘Hawks’ as their nickname always throws me for a moment. I grew up in Davenport, Iowa. ‘Hawks’ is short for Hawkeyes for me, and always will be.)

26 seconds later, Jonathon Toews created a turn over, Sharp corralled the puck and got it to Kane, who was alone in the slot. Kane waited a moment then rifled the puck over the right shoulder of Flyer’s goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, to tie the game. My son and I were pumped! It was Kane’s first goal in seven games and just his third in the last 20. He was due, to say the least.

Then a few moments later, Kane took a high-sticking penalty and of course the Flyers scored with 30 seconds left and won the game. [Le sigh.]

All of that to say, I need a little Blackhawks detox. I need a reminder of better days. And that’s were the best goal of 2011 comes in. Also courtesy of Mr. Kane.

December 14 the Blackhawks went to a shoot-out against the Minnesota Wild. Chicago was up 1-0 in the shoot-out and the Wild had already missed twice. Meaning, if Kane scored it would be the game winner. Take a look at the magic he conjured:

Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it – my favorite goal of 2011!

Hey, whaddya know, I feel a little bit better already.

2011 Music Favorites

All you grammar pedants can rest easy: I’m not about to try to delineate over two thousand items. I mean that colloquially, this is my favorite music from last year.

(Why not call them “the best of…”? Well, I guess because I know these are just my opinions. Just because I liked these things doesn’t necessarily mean they were the best of that category. On the other hand, these are the ones I like best, so maybe I should call them that… Probably better to just move on…)

Thanks largely to Sirius/XM radio, I heard more new music in 2011 than I have in a long, long time. Or at least music that was new to me. My top new (to me) bands, in no particular order:

The Naked and Famous

Cage the Elephant

Airborne Toxic Event

The Civil Wars


Neon Indian

Neon Trees  Seriously? 2 bands with “Neon” in their title?! How does that happen?



Snow Patrol

The Joy Formidable

Lots of really good music there, hard to go wrong with any of them. Still, as good as those were, they didn’t quite make final cut as my favorite song in 2011.

My 2011 Three Favorite Songs:

3. Florence + the Machine – “Shake it Out.” I just discovered this song late in the year, but I can’t stop hearing it in my head. It’s just so catchy. It even makes a terrible dancer like me want to get up and move. Though, for whatever reasons, I find I like this song better with just audio. The video weakens it for me. See what you think:


2. The Decemberists – Their The King is Dead album was my favorite of the year. I liked it all, from first track to last. “This is Why We Fight” was my introduction to them, a song I liked a lot. But after listening to the album a bazillion times, I’ve settled on “Down by the Water” as my favorite song. But, again, you really can’t go wrong with any song from this offering.


1. Mumford & Sons – “The Cave.” I liked their album a whole bunch too, just not quite as much from top to bottom as I did The King is Dead. “Little Lion Man” and “Roll Away Your Stone” were really good. But the song that I just can’t stop playing – both out loud and in my head – is this one. “But I will hold on hope.. And I’ll find strength in pain/ And I will change my ways/ I’ll know my name as it’s called again…” So. Good.


Finally, a different sort of song. Because hard rocking and social commentary get me every time. This is my most important song of the year: Rise Against – “Make it Stop.”

This video is a little hard to watch, and might contain triggers for those who’ve experienced bullying and/or had suicidal thoughts.

It is my most important song of the year because I’m absolutely convinced that the global Christian church is at the core of most of the homophobia in the U.S. That must stop. And it must reverse: the church needs to now be at the forefront decrying violence and discrimination against the LGBT community. This song can help:

But, hey, I’m no music critic, I just like what I like. How about you? What was your favorite music from 2011?

Similar posts coming soon: 2011 Favorite Movie, Picture & Post