Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007, Doggedly

Undo my logic
Undo my fear
Unsuffer me
-- Lucinda Williams, “Unsuffer Me” (2007 Song of the Year in Roxie's World -- conveniently uploaded to "Roxie Music" box in right sidebar for your listening pleasure)
(Image Credit: Random Search of Internets)

Sorry to drag you back into the past on the first day of the new year, kids, but the moms were on the road for the holidays, so we couldn’t assemble the creative team to decide what kind of end-of-year retrospective to put together. The challenge was compounded by the fact that we fell seriously behind on TV- and movie-watching this year. Blame it on the moms being a little too serious about their day jobs or on my diminished abilities to see, hear, and stay awake for more than twenty minutes at a time, but Moose knew we were in trouble when she looked at several different lists of the year’s best films and realized she and Goose hadn’t seen any of them. That’s when we decided we’d have to handle this monumental task the same way we handle most of the hard work here in our happy little corner of the blogosphere: by staring at our navels and pretending to see the whole darned world. (Yes, in case you are wondering, dogs, like all mammals, do have navels. [We googled it to make sure.]) And so, here are some of the things that, for better or for worse, got our attention here in Roxie’s World in 2007, organized, um, doggie style, because, well, doggone it, that’s the way we think.

Those of you craving more comprehensive year-end reviews should check out some of the following lists and lists of lists. Boy, some people sure do have a lot of time on their hands:
  • New York Times, 2007: The Year in Pictures. You know, we could almost forgive the Times for adding insult to injury by having Bill Kristol join Maureen Dowd on its op-ed page because it consistently offers the best eye candy in American photojournalism, but even this great compendium of pictures makes that dastardly combination of pen-wielding lunatics impossible to fathom. Still, go look at the pictures. They are pretty, and pretty is good.
  • Time, 50 Top 10 Lists of 2007. Your clicker finger will wear out because Time's department of Clicks and Eyeballs cleverly decided to drive up pageloads by putting each item on each list on a separate page, but if you're looking for lists of the best of everything from news and politics to business, sports, and entertainment, this is the place to go.
And now (drum roll, please), the best, worst, or just plain most notable of Roxie's World for 2007:

GOOD DOGS: We do hereby declare the whole pack of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination to be very good dogs indeed. Y'all know we've picked Hillary Clinton as our top dog in the fight, but we admire the values, visions, and leadership skills of all the major candidates. From the world of sports, we remind you all of the incredible grace shown by Coach C. Vivian Stringer and the entire Rutgers University women's basketball team in April after bad dog/tox jock Don Imus viciously (racistly, sexistly) insulted the team following its glorious run to the NCAA championship game. From the world of entertainment, we'll declare actress Jodie Foster a good if slow dog for finally acknowledging her same-sex partner and co-mom, Cydney Bernard, in public.

BAD DOGS: Oh, where to begin, and who really wants to linger on the bad when the year is all shiny and new? But we must, readers, we must, for the sake of Truth, Accuracy, and History. We must remember that in 2007 Vice President Darth Cheney continued to lie about, well, everything, and the Great Leader, Shrub, continued to be stupid about, well, everything. (Random recent example: In a year-end interview with People magazine, when told that a Marine at Camp David had commented on how "nice" First Lady Laura Bush always smelled, the president charmingly replied, "Obviously he didn't work in the gym." We'll admit it was weird of the reporter to bring up the matter of body odor in a presidential interview, but isn't it amazing that the Great Leader goes straight for the locker room and is willing to let the world imagine that his wife actually stinks?) Anyway, it's probably knee-jerk of us to anoint the whole pack of Republican candidates for the presidential nomination bad dogs, but we'll do it because we know you expect us to and because they deserve it. Each is so much more craven and horrifying and creepy than the next that we stand by Moose's prediction of several months ago: The Dems could nominate poop on toast and beat any one of these fetus-worshiping, hate-mongering twits. Others on the short list for Bad Dog of the Year? NFL quarterback and convicted dog fighter Michael Vick is in a special category of evil doer who should not be called a bad dog in a metaphorical sense because he was convicted of being unspeakably cruel to actual dogs in a literal sense. Still, where else would we put him? Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf lands in this category because we are reasonably certain he is directly or indirectly responsible for the recent death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (see below). We could go on, but this is depressing.

WATCH DOGS: We have to admit this is one of our favorite categories, and we are pleased to declare former Vice President Al Gore winner of the group prize for 2007 for his tireless work on climate change. The winner of the popular vote in the 2000 election is an inspiration to anyone who ever got kicked in the teeth and had to figure out what to do next. Note to F. Scott Fitzgerald: Turns out there are second acts in America lives, and some of them are well worth watching. We could nominate a bunch of our progressive blog brethren and sisteren to this category, but we are currently enamored of Digby's relentless critiques of the political drivel coming out of the mainstream media. Props also go to the ever-righteous Keith Olbermann and the always-hilarious Jon Stewart. Please, lord, end the writers' strike. We need our Daily Show! Finally, just to prove the mainstream media are still occasionally capable of great watch-dog journalism, we commend Wa Po reporters Barton Gellman and Jo Becker for their extraordinary series of stories on the vice presidency of Darth Cheney. Titled "Angler," it was published here in June.

LOST DOGS: Death was big last year, as it always is, so it's hard and strange to try to say which deaths "mattered" when of course they all mattered or didn't matter equally in some sense. Nevertheless, Roxie's World was touched by the deaths of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in January and of Texas writer and rabble-rouser Molly Ivins in February. We were shocked by the killing of thirty-three people on the campus of Virginia Tech University in April and inspired to muse upon poetic justice by the sudden death of fundamentalist leader Jerry Falwell in May. The passing of Lady Bird Johnson in June elicited one of Moose's very favorite Goose stories ever. It is a story of anchovies, etiquette, and Texas girlhood that is bound to warm the cockles of your cynical heart. Finally, 2007 ended with the jarring yet in some ways not surprising assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. We feel compelled to say one more time that the Bhutto Death Watch we staged here in Roxie's World was intended as a tribute to the former prime minister's courage in returning to her country to work to establish a genuine democracy there. The world has barely begun to reckon with the implications of her death. (The NY Times magazine has a more thorough report on the year in death. It's here.)

BEST DOG TOY FOR HUMANS OF 2007: the iPhone, of course, and the moms don't have one because they're waiting for that exclusive deal with AT&T to fall by the wayside. In the meantime, they are green with envy toward all their cool friends who do have iPhones and whip them out of their pockets every 3.5 seconds to take unflattering photos or consult maps, weather reports, restaurant reviews, and movie schedules. Okay, okay, we get it -- You're smarter than we are, hipper than we are, and willing to risk living without Verizon's blanket coverage.

BEST IN SHOW OF 2007: Yeah, there's a lot we missed, but we were tuned in enough to know, for example,
  • that the third season of Showtime's Weeds definitely did not suck;
  • that the second season of HBO's Big Love was riveting;
  • that the winding down of The Sopranos was sublime, whatever ambivalence we might have had about that cut-to-black ending.
Film: We caught enough film to agree with everyone else that Julie Christie is luminous in Away From Her and that Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are marvelous in Margot at the Wedding, but the film ultimately disappoints because of what feels like an undercurrent of misogyny.

Live Performances: The moms didn't get out much in 2007, but they did catch Kathleen Turner in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Kennedy Center in January and are convinced it was the greatest live dramatic performance by anybody anywhere ever. That woman can chew scenery like nobody living or dead, and she was born to play Martha. The moms also caught a fair amount of live music this year, including, of course, my Uncle Bobby Earl Smith's birthday concert at Austin's Broken Spoke in June. That was in a class by itself, but the best live musical performance of the year was Lucinda Williams at Wolf Trap in July. (Competitors in this category included Bruce Springsteen's two shows at the Verizon Center in November as well as Rickie Lee Jones at the Birchmere and Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Judy Collins, and Nanci Griffith at Wolf Trap.) The moms had seats in the pit for Lucinda's show, which was flawless and thrilling from start to finish and leads us directly into our last category.

Recorded Music: Lucinda reached new heights (or depths?) of raunchy, bummed out, pissed off, tough-girl blues with this year's West, a record the moms probably would have worn out if it had been made of vinyl. We're tempted to call it our Album of the Year, though the taunting eroticism of "Unsuffer Me" is unrivaled in the category of Song of the Year. Still, West faces stiff competition from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss's Raising Sand, a seamless, evocative blend of two great voices that is hauntingly beautiful. Even Goose admits that Raising Sand beats out Bruce Springsteen's Magic for Album of the Year in Roxie's World. Actually, it's possible the record released by the Boss's wife, Patti Scialfa, Play It As It Lays, might beat out Magic in this category, but we're going to avoid creating strife in the Springsteen household and give the nod to Plant and Krause, who truly deserve it. We dare you to try to get through their rendition of the Everly Brothers's "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)" without tapping your toes and joining in on the chorus.

That's it, kids! Here's to more singing, dancing, watching, and opinionating here in Roxie's World in 2008. As always, we are delighted to have you with us and look forward to a year of virtual barks and belly rubs. Peace out and happy new year.


  1. Wonderful end-of-the-old, welcome-in-the-new year post, Rox! Now, I'm surprised you didn't mention the moms' trip to Japan, which was a highlight of their world travels, nor did you mention all of the other live music they saw, from ole Bruce & the E Street Band (twice) to Nanci Griffith & Judy Collins to the Indigo Girls, all of whom were fabu, although Lucinda really did give the best live performance of the year. And your Uncle Bobby was marvelous. . .he would've loved to have a dog up there on the stage with him.

    Here's to a 2008 that brings some peace, really, and a president with new ideas, really.

    I LOVE YOU Rox and love this post and this blog.

  2. Happy New Year!

    Cheers to Friendship as a force in people's lives, and in mine in particular.

    I can read the blog on my new iPod Touch, but cannot comment (yet? haven't figured it out? not sure...). May I point out that it does not require the contract with AT&T?

    I loved The Golden Compass, and my old/new favorite album is Evelyn Glennie's Greatest Hits.

    One of the great new scholarly books of the year: Donna Haraway's When Species Meet. Roxie, you gotten read this!

    Love, Katie

  3. Roxie's World always welcomes a new book by the author of The Companion Species Manifesto. That book earned a rare 5 Paw rating and two celebratory laps around the yard for its brilliance on the subject of animal/human relationships.

    And good grief, yes, Goose, I can't believe we forgot to mention seeing the Boss twice this year! We may have to sneak back in and do a little updating on our post. My typist may have flagged because I kept her up so late working on this one.

  4. Dudley the beagle8:31 PM EST

    "Poop on toast." Mmmmm.

  5. Lucinda Williams is queen of the universe (I saw her for the first time in Baton Rouge right after she'd released 'Essence') and I completely agree about her show at Wolf Trap, but I have to say that I have been progressively more disappointed with each album since 'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.' Granted 'Car Wheels' was a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece, but why put out an album called 'West' if you're not going to do justice to the female experience of the West to the same degree that you've done justice to the experience of the South? And why so many juvenile songs about broken relationships with men? I would have liked her to have spent more time singing about her mother or her female friends or other relationships in her life, the richer relationships that come with age, instead of the men who can't make her "come on" (and whom she apparently still hasn't learned to avoid).

    However, these are merely token criticisms of a singer who will always be a goddess and muse and queen of the universe!


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