Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Best of 2012

I missed posting a Best of 2011 last year. Not best music, of course, but best of everything else. I guess that's because there was one best-of moment in 2011 that trumped them all, and that was the birth of my son.

So, I thought I'd resurrect this annual thing by offering my best of 2012 awards. Of course, all of these awards pertain to something that I've talked about here at some point this year.

Best Concert
I went to two shows last year. That might be an all-time low, or at least the fewest number of concerts I've seen since 1980, when Cheap Trick's Dream Police Tour got it all started for me. It's definitely the least since I moved to the Boston area 15 years ago.

I'm not going to rehash the reasons why. You already know, and if you don't, the first paragraph of this post provides a pretty good clue. What goes hand-in-hand with being out of the concert-going loop is that the crowds are even more difficult for me to deal with than they once were.

So, I'll admit that the Scud Mountain Boys' Brighton Music Hall show gets an added bonus in that it was at a small, fairly uncrowded venue. Not that the Paradise is huge, as that's where the other show took place (Jay Farrar/Will Johnson/Anders Parker/Yim Yames). That was a great performance in its own right, but it was definitely one of those tightly-packed-like-a-chicken-coup events.

The overriding reason I chose the Scuds show is probably nostalgia. (In case you haven't noticed, nostalgia usually trumps everything in my book.) I hadn't heard these songs played live since the first time I heard them played live, 15 years ago. Plus, I attended the show with the friend I've attended more concerts with than probably everyone else combined, including a few that came shortly after the aforementioned Cheap Trick concert and the first Scud Mountain Boys show.

Best Ballpark
I didn't make it to a major league game for the first year since I don't know when, but we did make it to two minor league games. As with most of the other awards here, the idea is really to recognize things new to me. That distinction only applies to one of the two, but Portland, Maine's Hadlock Field is worthy of the honor regardless. Besides, it was my son's first ballgame ever. Hard to top that.

Best Beer
I drank 176 different beers in 2012, many of them for the first time. To be honest, there's not one that really stood out as the best, but there were many I considered great among those new to me. So, the ones in bold on my Beers of 2012 page share the award this year.

Best Brewery
When we visited Oregon in June, our friends there had a brew pub they wanted to take us to that they were sure I'd never been. You see, it's pretty well known among KJ's crew that my quest is to eventually visit every brew pub in the greater Portland area. (Actually, I just made that up, but I think it's now one of my new goals.)

Anyway, Burnside Brewing was/is fantastic. They feature some interesting experimental brews that aren't completely over the top, and use ingredients that don't always float my boat when it comes to beer, but in subtle ways. Plus, they brew an excellent IPA, an absolute requirement, as far as I'm concerned.

Best Trip
Looking back on 2012, I realized we did pretty well in the travel department, taking LC on two weekend trips to Maine and one to Vermont, as well as flying with him across country to Oregon and on a shorter trip to Baltimore. There were also several trips to visit my family in New York mixed in as well.

While our favorite trip is a tough call, I'm going with our long weekend in Baltimore in October. We got to really appreciate what I now consider an under-rated city (especially the inner harbor area), spend a lot of quality time with KJ's core group of friends, and I got in some quality time exploring the neighborhood with just me and LC, including taking him to a brew pub.

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