Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the Year Favorites

Clocks wind through a last afternoon in 2009 and the day is golden in Tokyo.

And since it is the last day of the year I thought it might be time again for one of those ‘my favorite…’ lists. Nothing new about that idea. I like to think that while these lists are a dime a dozen, each one in its small way is interesting for its particular personal perspective. Sharing is what we all do in these blogs, and who can say they’ve never gotten at least one recommendation that turned up a winner.

I did the same kind of thing earlier in the month with a post called Rainy Day Favorites. I want to continue the idea of that earlier list in that today’s is not really a list of ‘the best’ but more like some things I enjoyed reading, seeing, using or listening to throughout 2009. Again, these are things that have brightened a cloudy day, encouraged some needed reflection, or just plain ol’ made things easier or more fun. Things that perhaps make our lives and experiences a little bit richer.

Favorite Book of 2009

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, published in 2001 by Picador. I am not a big fan of the comics, but this story of two superhero comic writers in the 1940s and 50s is nothing short of dazzling. This is a book about the birth of the comic book superhero, and a good part of it is based on actual writers and their comic book creations. A memorable book, and the day I stumbled upon a signed copy was Christmas in July.

Short Stories

Two of the stories I read this year were especially memorable and I want to recommend both here. The older of the two is from that master of murder most bizarre, Patricia Highsmith. One of the many stories in The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith is a little gem called, “Slowly, Slowly in the Wind” and is another of her nasty tales of murder in polite society. Highsmith was a clever vixen.

Another of my favorite stories this year was the oldie from southern writer Lee Smith, “Tongues of Fire.” No murder in this one, but lots of laughter over a young girl in training to be a proper southern lady, and who is taken to a hell fire holy rollin’ country church where she gets ‘the call.’ Pick this one up and be prepared to laugh.


Two waka from Tawara Machi’s 1987 collection, Salad Anniversary

—Typical scene at rush hour—

Pausing to vomit

a day of work-weariness

and load another

the Yamanote Rail Line

circles through murky twilight.

—Aftermath at a rock concert—

Cords and cables

flopped across the stage.

As though they’d melted

a score sheet

and let it drop


Burn After Reading

If Brad Pitt ever deserved an acting award it should be for this.

Love in the Time of Cholera

A lush and gorgeous film treatment of the wonderful book by Gabriel García Márquez.


Once again I’ve picked a soundtrack, this one from the 2006 movie, A Good Year.

This is music I play at least once a month, loving the mix of old and new. It has Harry Nilsson, Josephine Baker, Patti Page and Tino Rossi—What more could I want?

Fountain Pens

Most of the time I prefer to use a pen that has a traditional shape and design, but I discovered this year that there is one new design that I like very much.

Traditional: Pelikan Souverän 1000

New: Lamy Safari


I am showing basic colors here because we can’t always write with even beautiful violet or orange inks.

Black: Sailor Kiwaguro

Blue: Waterman Florida Blue

Red: De Atramentis Dornfelder (wine)

Green: Sailor Green Tea, custom mix

(Samples are in the above photo)


Life Premium and Life Noble Note Plain, both with unlined cream colored pages—perennial favorites

Favorite Device


Two Blogs I Enjoy

BibliOdyssey (Books, Illustrations, Science, History, Visual Materia Obscura, Eclectic Bookart)

Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York (a.k.a. The Book of Lamentations: A Bitterly Nostalgic Look at a City in the Process of Going Extinct)

2009 has been for me a year of discovery in the sense of my introduction to a great many blogs, and the wealth of information they offer, friendly and free. Part two came with starting my own blog, and that too has been an eye-opener. It’s been a trip!

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America