These Are a Few of Tom’s Favorite Things, 2019 Edition

Two thousand nineteen was a rather somber year for me, but it was not without its entertainment highlights. As always, these are my favorite things and not in any way judged to be the "The Best."

Favorite TV Shows: There are simply too many good shows on TV. Half the shows nominated for awards these days I haven't even heard of, let alone had the time to watch. I really enjoyed the latest season of The Crown. I was disappointed in the series finales of Veep and Silicon Valley, but Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad set that bar so freakin' high, it's hard to even come close.

Favorite Books: It's weird how things go in cycles for me when it comes to books. There are years where I read wildly uplifting books. And then there was 2019. The three books I'm listing are great books, maybe even Book of the Year candidates. But, wow, are they depressing.

First, my annual Pretentiousness Alert: I read almost exclusively non-fiction. I know that sounds lame, like saying that I only eat chocolate ice cream. (Although, now that I think of it, I can't remember the last time I had a flavor of ice cream other than chocolate.)

Anyway, the book that I found most engrossing was Midnight In Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Alan Higgenbotham. Chernobyl means just one thing—the deadly consequences of what happens when humans attempt to bend the awesome powers found in nature to their will. The Soviet system at the time—rife with corruption, graft, shortages and poor workmanship—all but guaranteed the disaster. It was hastened along by human errors, mistakes piled upon miscalculations, and then basted in the toxic soup of ass-covering lies and stunning incompetence.

Another great but equally gut-wrenching book is Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. In 1972, Jean McConville was a widowed mother of 10 children living in Belfast, Northern Ireland. One night, she was dragged from her house by masked intruders and never seen alive again. This book uses her abduction and murder as a jumping-off point in telling the story of what people in Northern Ireland call, in the most understated manner ever, The Troubles. To this day, some of those involved in McConville's death cling to the belief that it was a revolutionary act, while others are devastated by the realization that they simply committed murder.

At long last, a sequel to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which, along with 1984 and Animal Farm, is one of the three most-important works of barely-fiction in the 20th century. In The Testaments, we are told the backstory of the evil-incarnate Aunt Lydia and we learn how the difficult choices made by three different women will hasten the inner decay that is rotting away the theocratic dictatorship of Gilead from the inside. It's a nerve-wracking, but ultimately very satisfying, book.

Favorite Movie: I liked Once Upon a Time In Hollywood a lot more than I thought I would. I was right out of high school at that place and time and it was madness on a daily basis. I remember it vividly, but I wonder how Tarantino, who was 6 years old at the time, managed to capture it so perfectly.

I also really enjoyed the recent Ford v Ferrari, with a great performance by Christian Bale as hard-luck race-car driver Ken Miles. And I have to mention Yesterday, the sweet comedy about a down-on-his-luck singer who wakes up after a serious accident and is the only person in the world who remembers the music of The Beatles.

Favorite Song: It's damn sure not "Old Town Road." I have somehow managed to avoid ever hearing the song that was Number 1 longer than any other song in the history of the music charts. But a mashup of country and rap? I don't think so. To me, that would be like Sean Hannity having sex with Donald Trump and then giving birth to Jim Jordan.

I did like "Señorita" by Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello. The latter has done quite well for herself after leaving the group Fifth Harmony...like any of you care.

My Three Favorite Things That I heard on KNST Radio This Year: Morning guy Garret Lewis swears that he can tell when a woman is on her menstrual cycle. Now, I imagine that every male has had that stupid thought pass through his head at some time. But, then we turn 15 or so and learn that it is not only untrue, but wildly inappropriate.

Mark Levin said that Presidents Kennedy and Johnson had multiple affairs while in office but morally superior Donald Trump hasn't. No, all Trump did was cheat on Wife #1 with Wife #2, on Wife #2 with Wife #3, and on Wife #3 with a porn actress. Oh yeah, he also brags about committing sexual assault.

Sean Hannity said that everything in the Steele Dossier is false. However, Shepard Smith (whom people are far more likely to believe, especially after he turned down millions to stay at Fox) said, "Some of the assertions in the dossier have been confirmed. Other parts are unconfirmed. None of the dossier, to Fox News's knowledge, has been disproven."

Eat it, Hannity.

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