The Best of 2008

By popular demand (one person), I have done a quick review of the books read, movies and plays seen, and concerts and events attended in 2008, and will list my favorites.  (In 2007, I also had restaurants as a category, which I do not have this year, perhaps because food didn’t seem quite so important in the scheme of things, because I did not keep sufficient records of meals.)

I also need to preface this by saying that I did not spend a lot of time compiling this list.  Which means to say, when I saw a blog posting that said that I saw Movie X, if I didn’t remember it, I didn’t go back and try to figure out what it was about (or why I couldn’t remember it).  For that reason, I am not labeling these categories as “the five best of….”, but simply “here are five I really liked”.  As usual, many of the items cited are a bit out of the mainstream.

1.  Books (Fiction):

a.  Birds Without Wings by Louis De Bernieres

b.  Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

c.   The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva

d.  Ninochka by Svetlana Boym

e.  The African Queen by C. S. Forester

2.  Books (Non-Fiction)

a.  The Orientalist by Tom Reiss

b.  When the Going Was Good by Evelyn Waugh

c.  The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman

d.  The Accidental Empire by Gershon Goremberg

e.  The Nixon Memo by Marvin Kalb

3.  Movies (documentary)

a.  The Comedian Harmonists

b.  Refuseniks

c.  Desperate Hours

d.  Nanking

4.  Movies

a.  Beau Jest

b.  Cosy Dens

c.  Empties

d.  Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days

e.  The Savages

5.  Exhibits

a.  Pompeii and Herculaneum at the National Gallery

b. The Folger Library Tour

c.  The Treasure Ships of China at National Geographic Society

d.  Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan at the National Gallery

e.   Zaida ben Yosuf photography exhibit at National Portrait Gallery

6.  Theater

a.  The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at the Forum

b.  Honey Brown Eyes at Theater J

c.  Henry IV, Part 1 at the Folger

d.  The Price at Theater J

e.   The Brothers Size at the Studio

7.  Music

a.  Winard Harper Sextet at DC Jazz Festival

b.  Leon Fleischer birthday concert at Strathmore

c.  Netanel Draiblate and Victor Goldberg (private concert)

d.  Little Red and the Renegades in Annapolis

8.  Events

a.  Talk on the Bedouins in Israel at Library of Congress

b.  Smithsonian weekend program on Turkey

c.  Smithsonian weekend program on Italian opera

d.  The Garden of the Righteous Ceremony on Tunisian rescuer

This also does not include anything out of Washington DC.  The museums in Madrid, and the Archeological Museum in Istanbul were of course extraordinary.  There was a Goya exhibit at the Prado which would have been at the top of anyone’s list, and seeing a piece of the Code of Hammurabi in Istanbul was very special.  Also, purposely not ranked, but not ignored and most enjoyable, were the Playdoh Golem at Theater J (and the Kennedy Center) and Damn Yankees at Har Shalom, where there were some personal connections.

4 thoughts on “The Best of 2008

  1. Thanks! We have 2 movies in common (4 Months, Savages) and I liked them both. Otherwise, no matches. But here are some of the more interesting books I read recently:
    the wayfarers – stuart tower; the emotion machine – marvin minsky; dreams from my father – barack obama; common wealth, economics for a crowded planet – jeffrey sachs; the memoirs of a Prague executioner.
    A few good recent movies: The Band’s Visit, The Visitor, Happy-Go-Lucky, Milk, Religulous, Walk on Water (2004, but still great). Just saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and liked it, too.

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