Oh, my goodness. It’s the end of the year and the end of the decade.
There’s no way I have time to research highlights from the last 10 years, so I’ll have to be content with sharing some only from 2019.
The numbers break down like this for the year: I saw 10 — a nice round figure — live performances, which included mostly concerts and plays.
I viewed 29 movies in various formats including at theaters, streaming services and on DVD or Blu-ray. I read 37 books, and ate at 12 restaurants for the purpose of writing the feature that regularly appears in Entertainer.
Even though I try to keep running records throughout the year so I don’t have to track down everything later, let’s say there’s a margin of error of plus or minus five for some of these categories. Not so much live shows and restaurants but more so for movies and books.
There’s television, and I still have my core favorite shows, but nothing new stands out for the year except “Stranger Things 3,” which continues to be a wild ride.
There are also additional events I attended, such as art exhibits, festivals, fireworks displays, lectures, meetings etc. that I don’t count because most of them are one-offs so there’s nothing to use by way of comparison.
So, am I forgetting something? Probably, but we’ll all survive.
Let’s begin with the local categories. My three favorite live performances of 2019, in chronological order, were “Mamma Mia!” by Stage Crafters Community Theatre Inc., “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” by Emerald Coast Theatre Co. and Sinfonia Gulf Coast Holiday Pops with Matthew Morrison.
All so different and, yet, all so incredible.
Of the restaurants I tried, two were barbecue joints, two were Mexican eateries, two were burger places, two were breakfast places, one Italian, one seafood, one American bistro and one high-profile place that has since shut down. As you can see, quite a mixture.
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is the place that is closed now merely months after opening. My guest and I liked it and had hoped to take our sons there at some point.
Yes, it was pricey, and yes, a lot of people complained about not being allowed to pack up leftovers to take home because basically it was an all-you-can-eat buffet served to your table. The idea didn’t catch on.
On a positive note, we particularly enjoyed The Wharf 850 in Niceville, Nineteen 66 in the Island Hotel on Okaloosa Island and Tijuana Flats in Fort Walton Beach. Another favorite was The Breakfast Place also in Fort Walton Beach.
We’ve already tried the first place I’ll be writing about for 2020, and it was a treat. It’s great to be off to a good start.
Can you believe I had time to read 37 books? It’s probably more like 40 because I think I forgot to list a few. Most were novels, but one of my favorites of the year was “Along the Edge of America,” a nonfiction book by Peter Jenkins.
I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go into detail again here. However, I passed the book on to reporter Tony Judnich, who has thanked me twice for it. It’s that good and that engaging.
Other favorites were “Pride and Prescience” by Carrie Bebris, “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake and “The Lost City of Z,” another nonfiction tale by journalist David Grann.
This also will be known as my “A Game of Thrones” year as I read all five existing books within a few months’ span. As noted previously, I did not enjoy them.
“Shepherds Abiding” by Jan Karon completed my year in books. Although I’ve read several of Karon’s Mitford books, I’m reading this one out of sequence, so, occasionally it references things I don’t know. It’s still a delight and perfect for the season.
And now we’ve reached movies. I could write a whole separate column about “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” but maybe another time. For now, I’ll just say I liked it. Was it perfect? No, of course not. Does it deserve the vitriol being heaped upon it by some? No, of course not.
Of the 29 movies I saw in 2019, I liked most of them because I don’t go to a movie unless I think I’ll like it. They’re too expensive. As a result, it’s difficult to say which were my favorites.
Definitely, “The Avengers: Endgame,” “Yesterday,” “Terminator: Dark Fate” and “Skywalker” are contenders. Which of those things is not like the others? Haha.
The movies that disappointed me most were “Ad Astra,” “The Favourite” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
There are some movies I missed not because I thought I wouldn’t like them but for lack of time and opportunity. “Last Christmas,” “Toy Story 4” and “Late Night” come to mind. I’m sure there are others.
Movies I still want to see this year are “Jumanji: Next Level,” “Little Women” and “Dark Waters,” but I’m running out of 2019.
Happy New Year!