themselves to create great things and and their work and attitude affected me greatly. I plan to keep looking to them for inspiration as I stake my claim on '09. So here we go. They are my Top 5 People, plus two honorable mentions:
YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: LAUREN LOOSE
Lauren is totally inspiring to me. Throughout her young life she has faced so many medical challenges and has been able to meet them with resounding understanding and strength. Her courage and joy and positive attitude are felt by everyone she meets. When I determined to run the marathon this year, it was never a question in my mind that i wanted to run for her and raise money for The Children's Tumor Fund. She has the ability to make the people around her feel good and want to do good. And that's pretty damn special in my book.
FICTIONAL INSPIRATION AWARD: BATMAN
Oh Batman. My hero of heroes. Sure, you (sorta? maybe?) died in the comics this year, but who actually reads your comic anymore? No, your real sphere of influence for the past 40 years has really been in movies and TV. Your hot-n-cold latest animated series came to a conclusion this year. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what it COULD be. But them came Dark Knight to the big screen. Holy effing cow. I love this movie. Heath's Joker is great, that's certainly true, and Aaron Eckhart's Two-Face is just as compelling. But I love me some Christian Bale as Bats. It's not a flashy performance, but it's still the anchor for the movie so that everything else can spin out into brilliance. I love Chris Nolan's take on Batman. I recently tried to watch Batman & Robin on TV. It is UNWATCHABLE. Just terrible. I don't know how i sat through it in the theater when I was in high school. True, i had lower standards then, but they weren't that low. I feel like i still should have walked out of it. At least these new movies exist to further bury crap like Batman & Robin in the public consciousness. Batman had a great year. More power to him.
And Now to the TOP 5 Inspiring People of 2008!
5. RACHEL MADDOW
Rachel Maddow got me through the '04 election loss on Air America Radio. I listened to her every morning. She then shifted around the Air America dial a few times over the years before showing up in '08 on my station of stations MSNBC. They quickly saw what a goldmine they had in Maddow and gave her her own show. Her TV show is a lot like her radio show in all the best ways. I always leave it feeling like I learned something AND feeling entertained. Her critique is thoughtful, her mind set is progressive and I think she is amazing. I look forward to hearing from her nightly. Keep up the good work, Rachel!
4. TINA FEY
"I can see Russia from my house!" Of course she can! Thank you, thank you, Tina Fey for shining an undeniable light on the idiocy of the candidacy of Sarah Palin. If not for SNL acknowledging the complete ridiculousness of her inclusion on the national stage, we might be stuck with her as our Vice-President. The very thought continues to turn my stomach. I'm sure we'll have to fight her off in future elections. But thanks in part to Tina Fey, we don't have to deal with her right now. Tina Fey brought the smarts, the funny and the sexy this year. She won 3 Emmys for 30 Rock, which continues to kick all sorts of ass on NBC. She is the Associated Press's Entertainer of The Year. She is Exhibit A against the sexist argument that women are not good with comedy. She is amazing. Happy New Year, Tina Fey. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.
3. LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
Enough cannot be said about Lin's '08 accomplishments. First performance on a Broadway stage. First Musical he's written on Broadway. First Soundtrack CD produced. Tonys for Score and Best Musical. Grammy nomination for the soundtrack. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the accolades, but it's not the awards that are important. It's the follow-through on creating the art that's inside you that I find particularly inspiring. 2008 with all of its fun events has been a thrill-ride, I feel lucky to have been there to witness it. Lin's success is remarkable. He's been living the dream. And through it all, he's held on to who he is as a person and remained an amazing friend. I wish him the same health, wealth and happiness in '09. Wepa!
2. RAPHAEL NADAL
I love Rafa. Maybe I have mentioned this before? I would move to Massachusetts and marry Rafa Nadal if he was interested in doing that. I would learn to cook for him. I would clean. I would do whatever was necessary. He is my hero. He and Roger Federer gave us one of the greatest sports matches ever in this year's Wimbledon Final. He remained undefeated at the French Open and also won gold at the Olympics. I got to see him in person at the US Open. His knees gave him trouble at the end of the year, but what else can you expect when you play so damn hard on every point like he does? Rafa still managed to finish #1 in the world on the ATP charts this year and he's #1 in my heart as well. But not technically #1 on this list because that goes to...
1. PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA!!
OMG. With a war we are fighting in Iraq, a war we are fighting in Afghanistan, a totally collapsing economy at home, gay rights being threatened at home, an escalating conflict between Pakistan and India, an escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, nuclear weapons issues with Iran and North Korea, and a resurgent aggressive Russia there are no shortage of ginormous world issues swirling around us as we go into '09. So why is it that every time i think of Election Night '08 i start giggling with joyous delirium? It's because I believe in Barack Obama and he makes me believe in us. Sure there are a TON of things going wrong right now, but there was one truly amazing thing that went right. We are finally saying goodbye to George Bush and his terribly run administration and saying hello to our first black president who also happens to be intelligent, eloquent, compassionate and consistent. I don't think he will magically fix everything, but i believe he is someone who can LEAD us to ways to help ourselves and make the future better. I want to tell myself not to get my hopes up. I don't want to believe it as much as i do. But I can't help myself. I cannot deny the hope i feel. We as a country did something we have never done before, and we did it because it was the best choice and we did not let fear stand in the way. Thank goodness. Barack, i will be looking to you for motivation and guidance in '09. We had Change We Can Believe In and Change We Need. Now we need Change We Can Achieve. I'm ready. I am resolute.