Not So Fast, 2010

In his second installment of This Used To Be My Playground, Uncle Isey comments on the growing pains experienced by the segue period into each new decade.  2010, despite its efforts to kickstart a new era (what’ll we end up calling this? The teens?  The tens?) will undoubtedly still bear many distinctive connections to the aughts. And when not locked in this identity crisis, wavering in our future reflections as the Year Without a Decade, it’ll likely be referenced in the history books for things like a Haitian disaster, Icelandic volcano, and a Mexican Gulf tarring.

Being ever the optimist, however, I have quickly pulled together a list of things for which 2010 will be remembered quite fondly, at least in my mind.  My Top 5 2010 Highlights.

5. Epic Awesomeness at The Movies

There are certain years that bear rather immediate associations with some of my favorite films.  1977, 1994, and 1998, along with whatever else was going on at the time, will always make me think of Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Shakespeare in Love. This year we were treated to not one, but two future classics: Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Comic books, video games, and rock n’ roll. The only thing that could have made Pilgrim more endearing to me personally would have been folding in baseball and staging it in Sweden. And as much as I enjoyed Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comics, this film is truly a rare feat: a movie that might actually be better than the source material.

4. A Pound of Flesh, Finally

It’s been a modest pursuit of mine to see every Shakespearean play in live performance, preferably in Ashland at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and in 2010 I checked off a major play from the list with The Merchant of Venice.  Still controversial and complicated, the fact that OSF staged the production primarily to commemorate its 75th anniversary (Merchant and Twelfth Night were the two plays that inaugurated the annual festival back in 1935) meant that I may never have another chance to see Shylock, Antonio, and Portia live on stage again.

I didn’t miss my chance, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Anthony Heald‘s portrayal of the Jewish moneylender was the highlight of the Festival. This was particularly poignant because Heald, himself Jewish, was one of the company members most vehemently opposed to producing the show two years ago when the idea was first discussed.

3. LCD Is Playing at My House

If the quantity of great new music released this year is any indication, the next decade should be amazing. Whereas music in the last decade became dominated by studio issues — the death of record stores, file-sharing, and DIY production being key factors — maybe this next decade can focus on the artists.

LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening topped my personal Best Of list for the year, followed closely by another outstanding offering from The Walkmen, Lisbon. The Idle Time braintrust is hard at work rouletting out the signature List for twenty-ten, but I am already thrilled to reveal that there are a record seven Swedish albums gracing our Favorite Forty.  Hip-hop may even be turning a corner (at last) and there isn’t an objectionable or questionable inclusion in the bunch.  That’s a first.

Stay tuned to this site for the Best of Countdown.  Even if Idle Time’s only big output last year was the unveiling of a new internet home, it is a beautiful, cozy place to hang out, so we’re looking forward to our first internet-first blurb party.

2. Bella Italia

A personal highlight for me.  Although, to be fair, every item on this list has a personal bent. So… I guess I mean personal in the sense that this was only important to me and a handful of friends and family.

Of my six trips to the home country, summer of 2010 may always be the most memorable. My dad, the original MDG, celebrated a big birthday this year and the whole family convened in southern Tuscany. To make this trip even more important, I debuted my best man skills at a castle overlooking Trasimeno in Umbria. Driving all throughout northern Italy, from vineyard to hilltown to Firenze and back again, listening to Italian cover bands’ renditions of pop hits from the 80s, filled up an entire Moleskine on its own.

1. Not Dreaming

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series. No joke. The World Series.

After a lifetime of dedicated fandom, I felt a connection and affinity for this team that I hadn’t ever experienced. From spring Training and my introduction to Marty Lurie; to Opening Day and the April road trip that drew out my angriest anti-Dodgers and anti-Dodgersfan screed ever; from May win streaks and August doldrums; to group trips and workday hooky escapes, this was the greatest baseball season of all time.  And that didn’t even include the postseason. Ever one to rank all passionate pursuits in my life, I declared on the last day of the 2010 season that this team, this division title, was my favorite of all time, supplanting my prior allegiance to the ’89 squad.

The City agreed.  The entire Bay Area, all of California, everyone who loves cheering for the underdog or extending the middle finger to the East Coast Bias… every living person who loves the perfect game of baseball… fell in love with this team.  We were then treated to a cavalcade of playoff and World Series highlights that will live on in my head (and Blu Ray player) for as long as there are neurons (and lasers?) firing.  In fact, look forward to my Top 5 Postseason Moments sometime next month around the time when pitchers and catchers report.

Alyssa Milano in Orange & Black

The icing on the cake?  Steadfast Dodger supporter Alyssa Milano (who I have since relaxed my animosity towards; she is a genuine baseball fan, just a fan of the worst team in creation) forced to wear (to be fair, it looks photoshopped onto her model pose) the celebratory inclusion in her Touch line of MLB clothing.  Looks great, Alyssa.  We can be friends again.

Nice job, twenty-ten.  Chilean miners, Wikileaks, and crazy North Korea may top reflections from more sobering sources, but positivity prevails in these parts.  Enthusiasm, and all that….