News of the Week: The Best (and Worst) of the Year, Those We Lost, and a Toast to 2022

In the news for the last week of 2021 are a slew of best-of and worst-of lists, TikTok pasta, resolution liars, and more.

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Movies, TV, Books, and Music 

I don’t watch as many movies and TV shows as I used to. At least not new ones. There are so many channels, so much streaming, so much CONTENT now that it’s hard to keep up with everything. Sometimes I’ll be watching TV and I’ll see an ad for “the season four premiere” of a show and I’ll think, I’ve never even heard of that show, how can it be in its fourth season? 

That’s why year-end lists are useful. They’re not going to include everything you personally want to watch/read/listen to, but they’re good summaries that may highlight something that sounds interesting to you or leads you to something you might be interested in. 

Movies: The New York Times has its best movies of 2021 list, and Entertainment Weekly has its list of the same, along with some of the worst. And since the picks for “worst” are always more fun to read about, Variety has 10 movies you might want to avoid, and Best Life has a roundup of the worst-reviewed films of the year. 

TV: I don’t know how anyone keeps track of all this stuff, but you can read best-of lists from The AV Club, Polygon, Slate, The New York Times, Empire, and Buzzfeed. For the worst, check out TVLine, the New York Post, and GameRant.    

Books: The Atlantic has its list of the best books of the year, and you can read lists from NPR (an interactive list that’s fun to play with), Parade, the New York Post, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times 

Music: Entertainment Weekly’s list of the best (and worst) rock/pop/rap albums of the year really shows how much I don’t know about what’s going on (Maxo Kream? Snail Mail?). NPR has the best classical albums of the year, and the San Diego Union-Tribune has the best jazz albums 

Other: The Atlantic has the 50 best podcasts of the year (podcasts are something I really have to get into more), while LitHub has the 10 biggest literary stories of the year. The top recipes of 2021? Here’s what people searched for on Google. Number one is Tik Tok Pasta.  

Of course, you can’t do a year-end wrap-up without the Post’s list of the 10 most popular articles of the year. 

Those We Lost in 2021  

I do obituaries every week in this column (scroll down for the latest), but it’s hard to include everyone. And that’s where the yearly RIP roundups come in. 

CBS always does a nice job with theirs: 

Uploaded to YouTube by CBS Sunday Morning

TCM also has a good one, for those interested in the classic film and TV stars and behind-the-scenes people who died during the year: 

Uploaded to YouTube by Turner Classic Movies

And for some well-written long-form obituaries, The New York Times has its annual “The Lives They Lived” feature. 

People Who Say They Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions Are Liars 

I’m going to get to my New Year’s resolutions any day now. I mean the ones I made at the end of 2020.  

Plans are hard to keep, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. 

This is not only the time of year we make resolutions, it’s also the time that people laugh at us and say, “oh, I don’t make resolutions!” I guess we’re supposed to be impressed? But here’s the thing: These people do make resolutions. They just don’t call them “resolutions.” 

Isn’t it natural to look to the new year and make plans? It’s the holiday season, we’re wrapped up in family and nostalgia, and then it’s the start of a new year, so of course we’re thinking about new things that we can do, changes we can make. We want to lose weight, we want to get a new job, we want to spend more time with our kids, we’re buying new calendars and planners. We’re all doing that, even the people who say “I don’t make resolutions.” 

I read an essay the other day where the writer said that she’s not going to make any changes for 2022. Hey … that’s a resolution. 

It’s not a weakness to have resolutions, and it doesn’t show that you’re just following the herd. It just shows that you are aware the end of the year is coming up and a new one is about to begin and you have some ideas on what you’re going to do, in big ways and small.  

RIP John Madden, Desmond Tutu, Harry Reid, Sally Ann Howes, H. Jackson Brown Jr., Grace Mirabella, Sarah Weddington, Nicholas Georgiade, and James Rocchi  

John Madden was a Hall of Fame NFL coach who later was a color commentator for every major broadcast network. His name is also on one of the most popular sports video games, Madden NFL. He died Tuesday at the age of 85. 

Desmond Tutu was the former Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and anti-apartheid activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. He died Sunday at the age of 90. 

Harry Reid was a Democratic senator from Arizona from 1987 to 2017 and Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015. He died Tuesday at the age of 82. 

Sally Ann Howes starred in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and appeared on stage in many classic musicals, including My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, and Paint Your Wagon. She died last week at the age of 91. 

H. Jackson Brown Jr. wrote the incredibly successful Life’s Little Instruction Book and its many follow-ups. He died last month at the age of 81.

Grace Mirabella was the editor of Vogue for 17 years. She died last week at the age of 91.  

Sarah Weddington successfully argued the Roe v. Wade case before the Supreme Court. She died Sunday at the age of 76.  

Nicholas Georgiade played Rico Rossi on the 1950s drama The Untouchables. He died last week at the age of 88. 

James Rocchi was a film critic who wrote for such outlets as MSN, Netflix, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Indiewire, and BBC.com. He died last month at the age of 51. 

This Week in History 

First U.S. YMCA Opens in Boston (December 29, 1851)  

But the Young Men’s Christian Association actually started in London seven years earlier.  

First Ball Drop in NYC (December 31, 1907) 

People celebrated in Times Square as early as 1904, but the first official New Year’s Eve ball drop happened three years later. This year’s celebration has been scaled back because of COVID, so there won’t be quite as many people jammed into Times Square.  

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Midnight and Nobody to Kiss (December 31, 1949)  

Waiter at a New Year's Eve party is despondent because everyone around him is making out except him.
Midnight and Nobody to Kiss
Constantin Alajálov
December 31, 1949
© SEPS

The title of this Constantin Alajálov cover accurately predicted how I spend every New Year’s Eve. 

A Toast to 2022  

So what are you doing New Year’s Eve? Whether you’re going out somewhere or staying at home and watching the ABC show that’s still named after Dick Clark, you’re probably going to be drinking something. Here are two options you might want to consider. 

Food52 has the Best Champagne Cocktail, if you want to do a little bit more than just pop a bottle of the bubbly. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, Wirecutter says that Costco (yes, Costco) has the best cheap champagne. If you’re not a sparkling wine person but still want to drink something that’s holiday-ish, try Country Living’s Best Old-Fashioned Eggnog. (Seems like a lot of things are “best” this week.)  

Happy New Year. 2022 has to be better than 2021 … right? 

Next Week’s Holidays and Events  

National Hangover Day (January 1)  

Because maybe you toasted a little too much last night. 

More College Bowl Games (January 1-7) 

At least five bowl games have been canceled because of COVID, but there’s still plenty scheduled this coming week, including the Rose Bowl, the Citrus Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Outback Bowl, which is sponsored by Outback Steakhouse and sounds like something they’d have on their menu.  

Featured image: Cover from January 2, 1937, Baby New Year Celebrates by J.C. Leyendecker (© SEPS)

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