In 2012, a year in which Americans restored my faith in America, these were a few of my favorite things. (As always, I'm not saying that these things are the best. Those determinations are made by people who are paid to be pompous, pedantic and pontificating. I'm only paid to be pugnacious and to piss people off.)
• Favorite Book: I loved Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise. I got a digital subscription to The New York Times just so I could read Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog. (I got some of my nerdier friends to read it when the paywall was down in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.)
Aside from the president, Silver was probably the biggest winner of the 2012 election. Up until the very last minute, Republicans were blasting his work as left-wing propaganda, but he absolutely nailed it. Some are even suggesting that all of the networks will have their own personal Nate Silvers in 2016. Except Fox, which is anti-science, so it must be anti-math as well.
In his book, Silver starts off by explaining the difference between risk (which can be quantified) and uncertainty, which is nebulous. He then pokes holes in the entire notion of punditry, and from there, he moves to all sorts of esoteric themes involving math and other stuff. The book is a nerd's dream come true.
• As for the Book I Wish I Hadn't Read, that has to be The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, by RJ Smith. I've seen James Brown in concert more times than any other act. I was constantly amazed at his fire and fury, and he always brought the funk. After reading this book, I can overlook his political dalliance with Richard Nixon in 1972, but his lifelong mistreatment of women cannot be forgiven. He beat the crap out of Tammi Terrell and countless other women, and I don't want to hear, "Oh, that's just the way he was brought up."
I shrug if an artist is a drug-addict or an alcoholic or a serial cheater, but I don't if he's a beater of women. I can't rip into Chris Brown and then overlook the same behavior by James Brown. When I finished the book, I got Star Time (the James Brown box set) and James Brown Live at the Apollo out of my car and threw them in a box in the garage.
• Favorite Number: 47. If you saw it in a movie, you'd absolutely cringe at the forced irony. But in real life, to have Mitt Romney's campaign partially undone by his ludicrous fundraising talk about the "47 percent" who are anchors around the necks of the "makers," and then have Romney end up with 47 percent of the vote ... that's priceless.
• Other Favorite Political Number(s) of the Year: According to James Carville, who really, really knows about this stuff, the Obama campaign paid about $6 million to its top political consultants during the election campaign. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign shelled out $134 million for its top consultants. And their pitch was that a businessman shall lead them to fiscal sanity.
• Favorite Movie: As I mention every year, I almost never go to the movie theater any more, mostly because I don't want to pay $10 to read other people's text messages.
I only saw four or five movies at the theater this year. I saw the Bourne movie, which would have been pretty good if it was a stand-alone, but compared to the first three, it pales to the point of translucence. I saw The Avengers, which would have really impressed me at the age of 10. I saw the Obama hit-piece 2016, by that sanctimonious D'Souza guy, who, as it turns out, was cheating on his wife. (Don't you just love it?!) And I saw Argo, which was really, really good. If living well is the best revenge, then being very good at something (in this case, directing) is Ben Affleck's best revenge on all the haters. While the word is that it's going to be swept aside by Zero Dark Thirty come Oscar time, Argo is still wonderful.
• Favorite CD: I loved Gary Clark, Jr.'s Blak and Blu, which was kinda all over the place musically, and I really liked Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE, but I guess I'm officially old now, because neither one could top Bonnie Raitt's Slipstream or Donald Fagen's Sunken Condos. I could listen to Fagen's churning R&B ditty "Weather in My Head" all day long and never get tired of it.
• Favorite Song: There's a white rapper from Seattle named Macklemore. He has a song, with Ryan Lewis, called "Same Love" that is a scathing indictment of the homophobia that rages through hip-hop music. It's absolutely brilliant. Listen to it just once, and you'll feel like a better person. The lyrics are unbelievable, and the musical interlude, sung by Mary Lambert, of "I can't change, even if I tried / even if I wanted to," is magical.
• Favorite TV Show: I love Breaking Bad, Episodes and Justified. I like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, but I guess my favorite is Sherlock from the BBC. For more about it, see my TV blog on The Range at daily.tucsonweekly.com.
Yes, I said "blog."