Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Will We Talk About?

While it's always dangerous to generalize, it's probably a safe assumption that most will be happy to let 2009 enter the history books. That's not to say that there won't be challenges and crises a plenty in the new year. But unless you are James Cameron, this was the year that certainly proved that Murphy was indeed an optimist.

Still, all those trials and tribulations provided much fodder for discussion throughout the year. From the coffee shops to the water coolers, from the chat rooms to the twiterati, there was lots to dish, both dirt and otherwise. And since the pendulum in almost any given area seemed to gyrate wildly from one extreme to the other, if you didn't keep up you could be left behind. Indeed, back in March it seemed like the Dow could go to 500 and the Mets could win the pennant... and how wrong both of those outlooks turned out to be.

So what did we thumb type our 140 characters about? The big story that kept us talking was the economy. It was a roller coaster ride that made more than one person lose their lunch, be it from the Four Seasons or McDonald's. Early in the year both the financial and job markets tanked. Interestingly enough your tank didn't tank: while gasoline prices pulled back from their record highs from the prior year, it stopped dropping somewhere below two bucks a gallon, and then started climbing again. While almost all the markets, from housing to stock, have recovered to varying degrees, it has become of late a tale of 2 cities, with the shining one on the hill being Goldman Sachs and the shanty towns being everywhere outside of Wall Street.

Seems we spent even more time talking about the movies. That's because all that economic uncertainty translated into big numbers at the theatres. Movie attendance was up over 4%, with the focus on escapist fare. The top three grossing films as of mid December were "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Up." And lest you think they nosed out any high minded, serious films that stimulated soul searching discourse, number 4 was "The Hangover." It's also worth noting that the year in entertainment brought much discussion about vampires, though I don't if that's to be considered a good thing or a bad thing.

In sports, while the Yankees finally won the World Series again, new faces in other arenas offered up lots of possibilities for Monday morning quarterbacking with your buddies. At the US Open in tennis, Roger Federer was pushed aside by Juan Del Potro. Lucas Glover, 71st in the world at the start of the tournament, beat out a clutch of more well-known names to take the US Open in golf. And in March in a dramatic arrow by arrow finish, Yavor Hristov of Bulgaria bested Rafal Dobrowolski of Poland to claim the World Individual Recurve Archery crown, a match that's still got the locals talking.

In addition to swine flu, Bernie Madoff and Cash for Clunkers, there was lots more to chat about, thankfully much of it quickly. Susan Boyle took "American Idol" by storm, much the way the Kanye West took the microphone form Taylor Swift and told her she wasn't as talented as Beyonce. In the "why is anybody surprised," department, David Letterman slept with his interns, and Michael Phelps smoked pot. And in one that consumed many, Jon and Kate split up. My question: who are they to begin with, and why should I care?

So what will we be talking about in 2010? Topic number one will still likely be the economy. The uncertainties will continue, with the system waiting for another big shoe to drop and wreak havoc. Hopefully we've learned enough to corral the damage a little better, but I'm doubtful. Then there's healthcare. With the Senate seemingly gearing up the pass a version, it remains to be reconciled with the House version, hardly an easy task. And don't forget about the Winter Olympics, global warming and Alec Baldwin. The bottom line is that 2010 promises to be anything but boring. If I were you, I would increase my cell phone minutes and switch to that unlimited data plan. After all, you don't want to miss out on a single Tiger Woods revelation.


Marc Wollin of Bedford has no idea what 2010 will bring. As they say, fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review and The Scarsdale Inquirer.

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