- Most Annoying News Story of 2009: If there was one thing I was sick of hearing about in the news this year, it was grassroots Republican activism. I'm looking at you Glenn Beck, and you, the Tea Party people. Our country may have been founded in a revolution, but even the father of our country, George Washington, had no tolerance for anti-government rebellion. In 1791, the American citizenry was infuriated over a new tax on whiskey, levied by the federal government. When the people took up arms in protest, President Washington personally led US troops to suppress the insurrection. It was the only time in American history that a sitting president has ever personally commanded troops on the battlefield. It drives me crazy when these people invoke the will of our founders to justify their actions. To borrow one of the favorite memes of Glenn Beck, do you know what other fringe group got their start by bringing weapons to political rallies? The Nazis. As for Glenn Beck, he brings to mind another historical comparison -- Father Coughlin. In the 1930s, Father Coughlin harnessed the new medium of radio to attract a mass audience for his right-wing demagoguery. He openly espoused a pro-Fascist, anti-government philosophy and garnered millions of followers. He too sponsored a psuedo-revolutionary movement, the Christian Front, which was ultimately revealed to be plotting the assasination of government officials, "communists," and Jews. Today, we look back upon Father Coughlin and see the wrongness of his crusade. I can only hope that people open their eyes to Glenn Beck in the same way in 2010, and people stop paying attention to him as well.
- Worst Chicago Moment of 2009: While I would like to give this "honor" to the CTA for its atrocious financial planning and the service reductions that are in store for the new year, I think the saddest moment for my fair city came in October, when Chicago lost its Olympic bid. Fear mongering regarding taxes and traffic hampered the bid from garnering the kind of public support it needed to be successful, and now the city has nothing concrete to aspire to in our near future. I think the Olympics would have provided a strong motivation to deal with some of our city's woes (like our crumbling infrastructure for instance), but now we will have free reign to pass such problems on to future generations. Plus, on a purely selfish level, I won't be able to watch Olympic events from my balcony, and that is sad indeed.
- Biggest Earworm of 2009: It seems like I always have a song stuck in my head, but some are worse than others. In the past year perhaps no artist has been as as successful at making herself inescapable as Lady Gaga. She is a genius for keeping herself in the spotlight, and "Poker Face" was all over the airwaves in the first half of this year. It would get stuck in my head every time I heard it, and I am glad I don't have to hear it as often any more.
- Least Favorite Book of 2009: Having read Cormac McCarthy's The Road earlier this year and completely loved it, I decided to further explore the author's oeuvre by taking along Child of God to read during my European vacation. I selected it largely based on length (it was short, and would take up little space in my suitcase), but I made a huge mistake. Whereas I have no qualms watching Criminal Minds or shows from the CSI and Law & Order franchises and being exposed to serial killers and perverts, Child of God taught me that reading about such things from a first-person perspective is more disturbing than I can handle. Books are more immersive than television, and as it turns out, I don't want to be immersed in the thoughts and experiences of a necrophiliac sociopath. It certainly didn't put me in a vacation-y frame of mind either. Bad call.
- Worst Fashion Trend of 2009: I have yet to see the everyday woman who can pull off over-the-knee boots. Celebrities and models can handle a look that edgy, but every woman I've seen in them has either looked like a hooker or a pirate, and all of them have had a desperate fashion-victim vibe about them. I'd still rather see these on a woman than Uggs, but that's not saying much.
Phew! It feels good to let all of that out, and now that I have aired all of my beefs with the year that was, I can move into the new year with a clean slate. Next year will surely bring a new crop of annoyances, but at least they will be novel ones, at least initially. Frankly, if these are the worst things I can think of, then life is pretty good overall, I would say. Here's hoping my grievances in 2010 will be as light as they were in 2009!