Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Noteworthy People/Things/Events of 2009

The Notes from the Asylum list of noteworthy people, things and events of 2009, in no particular order . . .

Barack Obama inaugurated. That moment of national pride upon seeing the first African-American president sworn into office seems like a very long time ago. Since that cold January day in Washington, D.C. we’ve seen the president highlighted in the news for:

  • The First Family’s search for a dog
  • The Professor Gates imbroglio
  • The question of whether Obama and the French president actually checked out a teenager’s booty in full view of the media
  • A congressman shouting, “You lie” at the president during his address to Congress about the health insurance reform legislation
  • The swine flu vaccine debacle (not enough vaccines despite government promises) and nationwide H1N1 scare (aided and abetted by Vice President Joe Biden’s I-wouldn’t-put-my-family-on-an-airplane-right-now comment on the Today Show)
  • The contentious debates and town hall meetings about the health care legislation
  • A controversial stimulus bill, with federal money being spent on some, um, controversial items
  • The likes of AIG honchos getting mega-bonuses while unemployment numbers climb into the double-digits
  • The federal government’s attempts to help revive the ailing U.S. automotive industry inspiring the nickname “Government Motors”
  • The massacre at Fort Hood
  • Tens of thousands of US troops being sent to Afghanistan
  • The president killing a fly on camera.
Yes, it’s been a very long, weird freshman year for President Obama.

Sarah Palin, the former VP nominee who resigned the Alaska governorship this year. Hey, who says books are dead? Palin’s autobiography and well attended book tour events says books aren’t quite dead yet. At least all the attention paid to her book and her Oprah interview took the immature daddy of her grandson off out of the news, for a little while.

The season finale of Mad Men. Coupled with “The Gypsy and the Hobo” episode -- where Don finally confessed almost all of his dirty little secrets to his wife Betty -- these two episodes set the bar impossibly high for what it means to deliver intelligent, riveting, quality television. Completely. Besotted.

Morning Joe. The MSNBC talk show, which is always on in the kitchen as I get the kids ready for school on weekday mornings, boasts a lively mix of liberal and conservative ideologies, smart discussion and bar room humor all in one. It has had a great year and has earned my viewer loyalty.

Jon Hamm on SNL. Take note other celeb would-be Saturday Night Live hosts: Jon Hamm may have made being funny in the unevenly written sketch show LOOK easy when he hosted, but it’s not. Just ask his Mad Men co-star, January Jones. Oh, and those two actors being photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair earlier this year . . . those images constituted my favorite photo shoot of the year.

The Gosselin saga. Eight is enough apparently . . . especially when you throw some girlfriends into the mix. This was a sad, sad chapter in American pop culture lore where parents put their eight cute children in front of TV cameras for TLC's Jon & Kate Plus 8 and were then dismayed when those cameras wound up capturing the disintegration of their marriage. One might’ve hoped that this private-moment-made-public would’ve caused other parents to reconsider putting their kids on reality show programs. Alas, it didn’t.
Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor. Was it sexist to question Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s “temperament?”

‘Lost is complicated.’ I decided to add this phrase as a tag to this blog when the fifth season of the brain-cramp-inducing show started down the time-travel route. The brass at ABC heard complaints about the mass confusion about the new storyline and soon, videos called Lost Untangled started appearing on the show’s web site explaining each episode, like CliffsNotes only with action figures, goofy voices and cartoonish graphics.

Iranians rallied and protested for democracy. And government-backed police beat them down in the streets as they protested what they saw as an unfair, undemocratic presidential election. It was covered largely via Twitter as there was a significant government crack-down on the mainstream media.

Modern Family and The Middle. Just when I was mourning the end of Mad Men’s season, these new comedies which premiered this fall made me smile and literally laugh out loud.

Balloon boy. See the Gosselin entry above. Then add criminal charges for staging a hoax and subtract the divorce proceedings.

thirtysomething on DVD, finally! ‘Nuf said.

Vampires, werewolves and a boy named Potter. Teen girls, as well as thirty- and fortysomething moms, went Twilight crazy this year, propelling the second installment of the Twilight series (New Moon) to box office success. Plus another small film was released, you may have heard of it, about a boy wizard. It got scant attention this past summer.

Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman. Remember back in February when Phoenix made that really weird rambling, nonsensical, bearded appearance on Letterman? Whatever happened to him? I haven’t heard a thing about him since then.

George is dead. Grey’s Anatomy saw a lot of off-screen drama this year, as Katherine Heigl took time off from the ABC dramedy to make a film and to adopt a baby, following closely on the heels of her complaints that Grey’s writers hadn’t given her sufficient, award-worthy material. Colleague T.R. Knight also complained that he wasn’t getting enough face time. When the fifth season concluded in the spring, both of the actors’ characters appeared to have died, as George O’Malley was literally hit by a bus and rendered unrecognizable, and Izzie Stevens had cancer and coded. By the time the show returned this fall, only Izzie was left standing. On the bright side, no more Gizzie OR sexual interludes with dead Denny.

Womanizers/Cheaters R Us. This elite club’s membership keeps on growing: Tiger Woods, Mark “I Went Hiking” Sanford, John Edwards, John Ensign, David Letterman, Jon Gosselin. Lots of men must be jonesing to become a real life Don Draper.

Michael Jackson. The death heard ‘round the internet temporarily crashed social media outlets and dominated cable news.

Rod Blagojevich and his hair.

Feel free to add your noteworthy mentions of 2009 below.

Image credit: Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair.


Momlissa said...

I love your list. The Mad Men finale was probably one of the most incredible, profoundly moving episodes of scripted, one hour drama I have ever seen. Wait, scratch that, the Gypsy & the Hobo might have been even better, IMO. After I saw it, I thought it should have been the finale, until I saw the actual finale a week later. The scene when Don comes home and they go trick or treating and the man asks who Don & Betty were dressed as moved me to tears. It's not every day that happens!

Meredith said...

Momlissa, I think it's a close call between the finale and "Gypsy and Hobo." I loved them both.