As 2014 approaches, we encounter endless countdowns for 2013, both best and worst, so I thought I’d list my own.
#10. The Affordable Care Act. I completely understand the frustration of everyone including me who has had to run the gauntlet of healthcare.gov, medical insurance and of course, Medicare. Nevertheless, bungled rollout or not, once it is functioning and it may take years, I believe it will be an important milestone for this nation.
#9. My top TV choice. Now, here I’m in a quandary: I actually liked Downton Abbey best, but felt compelled to follow Homeland to its bitter (and I mean bitter) end. Does that mean I thought Homeland was better TV? I’m going to go with DA on this despite the fact that they killed off one of my favorite characters (Matthew), because they have given us a weekly dose of Dame Maggie Smith at her inimitable best.
A close runner-up is Doc Martin, which took away one good aunt to give us an even better one in the great Eileen Atkins. This series features a cast of wonderful British actors topped by an irascible Martin Clunes with a star turn by a truly nasty Claire Bloom. What more could you ask?
#8. Let’s move on to the movies. Despite a distinct letdown here, I’m going to go with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Peter Jackson has worked the material from the Hobbit’s one book almost to boredom, but it’s still fun, mostly because of Benedict Cumberbatch’s dragon and the return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas, though, if memory serves me, that character wasn’t in the book. Never mind–he looks great and the movie was good escapist enjoyment and if you happen to think that movies should entertain, then you’ll agree.
#7. As far as the biggest world news story–I moved back and forth between Pope Francis’ progressive comments and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, coming down finally on Rouhani. I know, I know, we should all be skeptical here, but honestly, can’t you help feeling a bit hopeful about the Middle East? I will until I know I’ve been fooled once again.
#6. The biggest US news story has to be the government shutdown. Once again, I’m going to go with an optimistic takeaway and pronounce that the extremists who succeeded in doing this will not want it to happen again–hence the weak-as-water budget deal that no one likes but hey, isn’t that the definition of compromise? Also, maybe just maybe we might see the possible resurgence of a more moderate Republican Party wing… See me in February when the tussle over the debt comes to a head.
#5. Most courageous person has got to be 15-year old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai, now known to the world by her first name, shot in the head by the Taliban for championing women’s rights to education. No contest here.
#4. Most favorite animal story of the year was a tough one, what with the amazing therapy dogs at the Boston Marathon tragedy, the Washington Zoo’s new baby pandas and shelter dog Rupee climbing Mount Everest, but I think I’d have to go with this dog, Orlando, and this picture, showing the kind of devotion to his master and his job that we can only wish for.
#3. Best opera–come on, you knew I’d put this in. I’d have to give the honor to a truly wonderful Cosi Fan Tutte, conducted by James Levine, because this piece is hard to do right and, as
probably the premier Mozart conductor today, he nailed it, of course.(Source: blog.metoperafamily.org)
#2. I like Time‘s Person of the Year, Pope Francis for that slot; so far in his tenure he has truly resembled my favorite saint and his namesake.
#1. This is going to be Nelson Mandela in any category you like. We will remember him for the giant he was.
Best follow-up: Cecil Williams said he would keep his soon-to-retire hero dog Orlando if he had the money. Four days after this appeared in the news, a fund to help Cecil keep Orlando reached $100,000. The surplus is now being given to Guiding Dogs for the Blind.