Best non-fiction: Peter Tomsen’s excellent history, The Wars of Afghanistan. Tomsen knows the country, its culture, and the last 30 years of U.S. history there, inside and out.
If you have teens and you have to listen to their music in your car, it’s a hard call, but the worst popular music today is the smutty, oversexed, semi-literate work of Rihanna. Or Ke$ha. Or . . .
Best music: Sinatra. Always.
Best TV show of 2011: Men of a Certain Age, which was an honest and fascinating attempt to depict the lives of genuinely middle-class, middle-aged American men of middling success. There was a certain “beautiful loser” quality to it that TV, with its need for heroes, anti-heroes, hotties, and comics, is scared to touch. Naturally it was not renewed.
Worst TV: The gaping hole where Mad Men should have been.
Worst political action? So hard to choose one from Obama’s Sherman-like march across the country, torching liberty, capitalism, and our way of life as he went. The winner is: The secretive, late-November decision to have the Fed pour billions of U.S. tax dollars into European banks, so they can keep Greece, Italy, and Co. afloat. This decision to have U.S. taxpayers help bail out European welfare states — which really may fail — will be disastrous when it all falls down.
Best political action: The last-minute reprieve for the incandescent light bulb by GOP congressmen who finally understood that if they didn’t do this one little thing, we could not keep faith alive that they will be able to repeal Obamacare.
For 2012, I’m looking forward to Americans’ electing a new president. Even more, I am looking forward to seeing Newt, as candidate or loyal supporter of the candidate, explain, over and over and over to the American people, all of the lies, fraud, and deception that the current administration employs to destroy the economic, political, and social fabric of American society.
— Lisa Schiffren writes from New York.
I suppose I should stick to topics on which I have a comparative advantage over other NRO commentators, so . . .
Best video game: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This is not for casual players, but it is one of the most ambitious projects anyone in the industry has attempted, and it’s incredibly addictive.
Best metal album: In Flames, Sounds of a Playground Fading. Critics have been accusing this band of selling out since they stopped screaming so much, but this record strikes a perfect balance between melody, beauty, and brutality. (In fairness, I haven’t heard the new Mastodon yet.)
Best rock/pop album: I love Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials – huge voice, catchy songs. I was also pretty impressed by The Cars’ comeback, Move Like This; it almost ranks among their classics.
Worst of 2011: There were 13 GOP debates. This is especially problematic for me, because in my house, the GOP-debate tradition is that while the candidates make fools of themselves, my wife makes fun of me for voting Republican, and I hang my head in shame.
Looking forward to in 2012: The PlayStation Vita handheld console looks promising. And maybe we’ll finally see a new Guns N’ Roses album that’s actually worth the wait.
— Robert VerBruggen is an associate editor of NR.