Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest blog: Phil's review of 2011

My friend Phil always gives me his review of the year - his top list of things. What I admire about Phil is his enthusiasm for life which is expressed in the delight he discovers in the world. Here is a quote he sent me yesterday...
"That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful."

Edgar Allan Poe
And here is Phil's review of his 2011:
Well, here it is. The work of days. Entirely arbitrary but fun because it has helped me reminisce and reflect on the year. Actually, I could go on forever, but now it’s time to start 2012 with a bang!
I am slowly getting back into the habit of disciplined reading. Too slowly really because in the dross there is a great deal to enjoy. My favourite fiction book by far:

My favourite Non- fiction was Craig Collie’s “Nagasaki”:

What an amazing co-incidence that both dealt with the City of Nagasaki in amazingly different times and ways.
Great Book-related discovery: The Book Depository.
Best Quote from a book:

"She wasn't doing a thing I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together." - J D Salinger (A Girl I Knew)

Resolution for 2012: Read more & Better.
Everyone seems to think it has been a great year for film. It wasn’t for me. I saw many things but little that wildly invigorated, renewed or excited me. There was a lack of discipline in my viewing: I did not look for the good. Skipping MIFF didn’t help. Next year I won’t.
Best Film True Grit
Worst Film: Red Riding Hood (from a very large field)
Best Foreign Film: Space Battleship Yamoto
Most Disappointing Documentary: Exit through the Gift Shop
Best Horror: Stakeland
Most Romantic Scene
The Phone Scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” by a mile. The first time I have ever seen it! Donna Reed and James Stewart in Frank Capra's Christmas classic, It's A Wonderful Life from 1946, when they really knew how to make a movie.
Best Sex Scene
Sadly, zip
Best Plot Twist
Sadly, zip
I was amazed to dig back and see the drama (mostly high production value series) that I have watched this year all in a year when I have barely turned on commercial TV at all and my loathing for its bombastic sound-over’s, cuts and ads has become pathological.
Underbelly (All seasons)
Spartacus – God’s of the Arena
The Kennedys
The Tudors
Pan Am
The Playboy Club
The Walking Dead
Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones
Daunton Abbey
The Borgias
Winner (in a strong field): Game of Thrones.
Highlights: Steve Buscemi & Kelly MacDonald in “Boardwalk Empire”:

those “Pan Am” uniforms,
the ruthlessness of the Borgia Popes
Best TV actress: Emilia Clarke

Most irritating Character: Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn) in Treme
Run like hell my dear
From anyone likely
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.

And Yeats:


A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for his own.

Pressed her body to his body,

Laughed; and plunging down

Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

Most transcendental art moments:
Rothko at SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

Monet Water Lilies at Naoshima:
The Surprise Gift of the Lee Miller Print from Steve & Maryanne:
Seeing the Modern in the Ancient: the screen printings of Hasegawa Tohaku at the Tokyo National Museum:
And in architecture:
Runners up:
The Golden Gate Bridge:
The ChiChu Museum, Naoshima
And the entire Benesse Art Site:
But the winner is: J Paul Getty Museum, LA, California
Best Cartoon:
Photographs. (taken by Phil)
My favourite “Dusk in San Diego” serendipitously caught early on our American Journey:
Hot on its heels: “Astorian Sunset” a flukish synchronicity:
Third, the slightly sly smile of the Japanese bride at Meiki Temple, Tokyo.
For 15 more snapshots:
Best Hamburger: “Nick’s” at Laguna Beach California (and don’t forget that side of Deep Fried Asparagus Spears!)
Best Company on a night out: with my staff at our Christmas dinner at “Byblos”, Melbourne.
Best restaurant (Tasmania): “Wild”
Best Restaurant (Melbourne): “Bar Stellini”
Best restaurant meal overseas: Okonomiyaki Pancakes, Hiroshima, Japan.
Most challenging Meal: Traditional Sashimi Banquet in Takayama, Japan.
Best Lunch overseas: “The Girl & the Fig” Sonoma Valley, California
Best café “Laneway”, Tasmania, Australia
Best Wine Variety: Pinot Grigio
Best New Wine Discovery: Washington State Dry Whites
Most unusual food product:
Best Night-time stroll in the rain: The Ponto Cho, Kyoto
Scariest Moment: The Grouse Mountain Chairlift
City I’d go back to Award: Seattle & San Francisco (tied) but also Tokyo, Hiroshima etc etc…
Proof that Humans Can Get Things Right Award: The Entire Japanese Rail System
Best Hotel room: Benesse Art Museum, Naoshima
Worst Hotel Room: The shipping container room at the Hotel Dilli.
Most thought provoking Moment : Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park
Best New Buddies: Larry (San Francisco), Gordon & Mary Lou (Seattle), Jim & Sue (Canada)
Best Clothing: Summer Kimono from Tokyo
As you can see- Phil has a great life full of poetry, literature, travel art and cinema. His photographic blog is:

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