Friday, August 24, 2012

Squiddies 2012

The Armchair Squid turns three years old today. As such, it's awards show time. And the Squiddy goes to...

Biggest Surprise: Roberto Alomar

Photo via Padres Nation

Mr. Alomar was the subject of my A post for the this April's A to Z Challenge.  As is my usual practice, I posted a link to my post on Twitter (@ArmchairSquid).  Later that day, I got the following tweet from Roberto Alomar (@Robbiealomar): HEY THX! ;-).  Now, it is not technically a verified account but in backtracking from his official site, it seems to be legit.  I had been tweeted by a Hall of Famer!

Honorable Mention: Anne of Green Gables, Green Lantern, Transformers comics

Biggest Disappointment: Fantasy Tennis Tour

The idea for Fantasy Tennis Tour is a really good one: pick players each week who you think will perform well in a given tournament.  Limits are placed on how many times you can pick each player over the course of the year.  My problems with the site were two:

1) Over the course of the initial season, they kept changing the rules.  They would alter, for instance, how many players you could choose each week or how many times you could choose each player.  I realize it was all in an effort to accommodate new entrants but for those of us who had planned for the entire season in January, it seemed unfair.

2) The site didn't work very well with Firefox, my browser of choice - unbelievably slow loading.  That was what finally killed my interest.

In the long run, dropping fantasy tennis meant exploring other interests - not exactly a bad thing.  Nonetheless, the negatives of the experience made me feel I wasn't sacrificing much.

Honorable Mention: This Year's Short Maple Sugaring Season, The International Spy Museum, The Rangers Losing the World Series

Best Match: Australian Open Men's Final

Photo via Tennis Tournaments

Yet another fantastic men's tennis season kicked off with a match for the ages in Melbourne.  After 5 hours and 53 minutes, Djokovic toppled Nadal for the third consecutive Major final.  In truth, it shouldn't have been so close.  But Rafa the Warrior won the fourth set on sheer will power to force a fifth.  The stage was set for another dominating Djokovic campaign.  Little did anyone know that an old master had other ideas.

Honorable Mention: Olympic Men's Tennis Singles Semifinal: Federer v. Del Potro; Our Playoff Game, Broomball Fall Season; Our Last Playoff Game, Kickball

Best Story: The Wimbledon Summer

Photo via Wikipedia

When the 2012 Olympics were first awarded to London back in 2005, it was seen as a huge opportunity for tennis.  For the first time, Olympic tennis would be played on the sport's grandest stage: Wimbledon.  Seven years later, the game delivered.  In Act One, two 30-year-olds - Roger Federer and Serena Williams - won the Wimbledon singles titles in July.  For Federer, his victory also meant a return to the World #1 ranking, a goal few imagined he could attain.  Just a few weeks later, Wimbledon runner-up and home crowd favorite Andy Murray exacted his revenge on Fed on the very same court, taking Olympic gold in what could well prove to be his own breakthrough moment.  Williams, meanwhile, won two golds - singles and doubles.  She now has a Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles.  With that distinction, she stands alone in tennis history.

Honorable Mention: The Orioles' Winning Season (So Far), Nadal's Seventh Roland Garros Title, My First Broomball Goal

Best Read, First-Time Read Category: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Image via Storybook Love Affair

While Scott McCloud's books gave me a new perspective on comics, Montgomery's classic brought new perspective on my entire world.  This book has been treasured by many of the important women in my life and I now know why.  Anne Shirley's my kind of people.  As it turns out, she's been a part of my journey all along.

The book also become a motif for our year overall, as you shall see.

Honorable Mention: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics, all by Scott McCloud

Best Read, Re-Read Category: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Image via David Louis Edelman

What's left to be said about Tolkien?  He is the undisputed king of world-building.  My daughter and I did this one as a read-aloud over seven months.  While it didn't work quite as well as The Hobbit as a bedtime story, there's no denying that it's the better book overall.  We're working on Two Towers now.  Stay tuned for the write up in, I suppose, February or so.

Honorable Mention: The Hobbit by Tolkien, Foundation and Foundation and Empire, both by Isaac Asimov

Best Comics Find: Joann Sfar

Photo via France in London

All credit goes to My Wife for finding writer/artist Sfar.  It has become clear, in my comic explorations this year, that most of the industry's best work is coming out of Japan and France, two cultures where comic books are mainstream literature - not just for children and hobbyists.   Sfar gets the nod here for his cross-generational appeal.  My Wife was first drawn to his outstanding Rabbi's Cat series which is definitely for adults only.  Since, she has also found The Little Vampire and Sardine, both child-friendly.

Honorable Mention: Drawn and Quarterly (Montreal bookstore), The Drops of God, Berlin

Athlete of the Year: Roberto Alomar

Photo via Gear Up for Sports

Sure, men's tennis is offering up the best stories in sports these days but Mr. Alomar probably didn't even have to get up from the couch to make my day.  See "Biggest Surprise" at the top of the post.

Honorable Mention: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal

Post with Most Unexpected Consequences: My '80s Crush: Leslie Hunter

Mock gets credit for leading me to this one, even though he never did his own post for it!  In February, M Pax, Nicki Elson and Suze combined forces to run the extremely fun Tumble 4 Ya Blogfest.  It was a particularly fruitful experience for me.  My followers tripled in one week and my initial post is by far my most visited and commented upon blog post of all.  Of course, I think some of the success of that post may be due to the inclusion of this photograph of Kathy Ireland:

Photo via My Fashion

Through that fest, I met, among many other fine people, my blogger pal Suze, who has been a particularly enthusiastic and encouraging reader of The Squid ever since.

Honorable Mention: Dog Days of Summer, Part II: Photo Highlights, Summer 2012, Second Basemen A to Z: Roberto Alomar, Chewbacca: A Lost Opportunity

Best Family Adventure: Prince Edward Island

As noted above, Anne of Green Gables became a motif for our entire year.   My Sister, the original Anne fan in my life, had always wanted to visit the book's setting in Prince Edward Island.  She and her family live in California so we don't get to see them very often.  This past fall, in discussing various scenarios for getting together, she threw out the PEI idea as a long shot and we all jumped on it.

There's more to Canada's smallest province than Anne kitsch, though.  Living in a landlocked state, we believe in annual pilgrimages to the sea.  PEI offered spectacular beaches and plentiful ocean bounty for the dinner table.  Adding in ample time and space for the cousins to romp and play, it all made for an excellent family holiday.

Honorable Mention: Underhill State Park, Montreal, Letterboxing

Best Unexpected Benefit of Blogging: Getting Reacquainted with the Cannons

It was almost on a whim that I decided to blog about comic books a year ago, wanting to chronicle my explorations of DC's New 52 campaign.  Once the journey began, however, I was determined to seek out the work of the one person I know in the industry: Zander Cannon, a friend from college.  Zander has worked as artist with such esteemed comic writers as Alan Moore on Top Ten and Bill Willingham on Fables and as writer for Star Trek and Transformers comics.  In June, he and his business partner, Kevin Cannon (unrelated but also a fellow alum), launched a monthly web comic entitled Double Barrel.

Image via ComicsAlliance

While I'll admit to some bias in promoting the work of people I know, all of the Cannons' work which I have seen so far is top quality.  Both are very generous in sharing thoughts about the comics craft.  Zander, in particular, goes into great detail in his How To: series, one of the many extras contained within Double Barrel's pages.

Honorable Mention: Embracing the Inner Geek, Exploring Wookiee Linguistics, Discovering the Photographic Goldmine That Is a Hot Air Balloon Launch

Squiddy posts from previous years:


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