Thursday, December 29, 2022

A personal almanac for 2022

Lots of publications put end-of-year lists together, but I'm particularly fond of this effort from The Federalist, and don't disagree with staff selections there. Even before finding that particular compendium of "winners and losers," I thought it might be fun to cobble a personal summary into being, so here's my almanac for the Year of Our Lord 2022:

Best surprise:

Finding a Great Pyrenees dog that was being fostered under the auspices of a rescue organization after my sweetie had done a lot of research into the breed. Pearl makes a wonderful companion and a top-notch guard dog. Not for nothing are Pyrenees known for their soulful eyes.

Favorite new movie:

Top Gun: Maverick -- and seeing the film with my Uncle Jim was a bonus. I like this one even better than the original Top Gun movie.

Gone too soon:

Gian Carlo Zollo was a proud Italian prayer buddy and an inspiration who shuffled off this mortal coil at age 70 on 19 October 2022, after having beaten cancer earlier in the year. Pneumonia took him down, although some of us think that with better care it might not have. Carlo was an absolute rock for his family, and those friends he treated like family. We hope he's gone to help "prep the place upstairs for us," as mutual friend Jeff once put it.

Most excellent road trip:

It was heartwarming to be able to attend my sister's wedding in Phoenix AZ on 04 February. Eve and Frank had quite the celebration. Mom danced, and Dad was there in spirit. I got to meet some of Eve's friends, several of whom she's known all her adult life. 

Cheers to these older movies:

I'd forgotten how good Hear My Song (1991) and Secondhand Lions (2003) are. Genuine storytelling seems now to be a lost art. I also enjoyed War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).

Novel that made the strongest impression on me:

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins must be reckoned a contemporary classic. It wasn't published this year, but it's on this list because I read it this year.

Most fun to read this year:

My Enemy, My Ally (Star Trek: Rihannsu #1), by Diane Duane. Everything you liked about the original TV series helps make this book a blast to read.

The American Dream onscreen:

If you had to pick three movies from the same year in an effort to understand this country, then 2022 was a good year. Watching Father Stu, Elvis, and Devotion would give anybody a better-than-average introduction to the important aspects of American culture.

I'm not crying; you're crying:

(The best evidence I can vouch for of culture in or near Raleigh, if friends from the Northeast or Western U.S. coasts still think all of the American south is backward):

  • The Theatre Raleigh production of City of Angels this past summer
  • Bittersweet -- the "chic spot for coffee drinks, desserts, and specialty cocktails" on E. Martin Street.

Ben Franklin spins in his grave:

The American sage known for saying that he and the other founding fathers had bequeathed to their fellow citizens "a republic, if you can keep it" would have been appalled at the FBI's August 7 raid on former president Donald J. Trump's Palm Beach FL home. I'm all for law and order (thanks, Dad!) and I think Trump is an egomaniac, but that was an instance of political thuggery that pharmaceutical companies and other groups with effective lobbyists have learned to count on. 

Hoping to do this again:

Favorite string band The Steel Wheels hosts an annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival near Mount Solon, Virginia. Heavy thunderstorms soaked festival-goers this past June, but the festival was still a good time, and its top-notch live music makes a repeat visit sound worthwhile.

Quotes of the year:

  1. "Solar and wind can never be anything more than boutique forms of incremental electricity production, and they will never, ever, be able to keep this country warm on cold winter nights."
    -- Buck Throckmorton at the Ace of Spades blog, December 30.
  2. "Angels don't bluff. That's why I never play poker with 'em." 
    -- Carlo Zollo, who said that when he was still with us and may now be doing that very thing.
  3. "The key ingredient of groupthink has always been the fear of social isolation, which leads us to be swept up by propaganda. It’s a fear so pervasive that—like fish in water—we are rarely aware of the effect it has on us." 
    -- Stella Morabito, paraphrasing her fascinating new book on "the weaponization of loneliness."
  4. "Look who's running our Defense Department -- Obama lackeys put there to degrade our combat readiness and morale, while defining the two greatest threats to American national security as 'climate change' and Republican voters."
    -- J.J. Sefton in a sarcastic but on-point screed for the Ace of Spades blog from 19 May 2022.
  5. "The profound crisis that the Church is experiencing in the world and especially in the West is the fruit of the forgetting of God. If our first concern is not God, then everything else collapses. At the root of all crises, anthropological, political, social, cultural, geopolitical, there is the forgetting of the primacy of God."
    -- Cardinal Robert Sarah in an interview about his new book, The Day is Now Far Spent.