This entry has been percolating in my brain for a couple of days. It’s going to work like this: I have four categories, each with my top three favorites. I’ll expand/explain the choices as I go. And maybe tell a couple of silly stories.
Category Uno: Japanese cartoons. You say to yourself, what the heck? Who has three favorite Japanese cartoons and blogs about it? I’m for real. I wasn’t a big cartoon-watcher as a child (discounting any and all Disney animated features and Winnie the Pooh) because from first grade on, television was banned in our household. I discovered Japanese cartoons, therefore, in Venice. Yes, Venice, ITALY. My sister and I did a short Spanish and Italian tour after I studied abroad in Sevilla (circa 2004), and were in Venice on the day after Christmas. In Venice, in the winter, it floods. And it’s freaking cold. So after walking around St. Mark’s Square, checking out the Doge’s palace, and taking the obligatory gondola ride (in the DARK! What were we thinking?!), we went back to our hotel to dry out and rest. Did I mention that this was also the day that the tsunami hit Indonesia? Yeah. The only thing not-news on the television in our hotel room was a Japanese cartoon. Dubbed in Italian. I fell in love. I don’t remember which it was, but from then on I’ve been a fan of Japanese cartoons, preferably dubbed in a non-English language, or if that’s not possible, on mute. The dubbed/mute thing is directly related to the silliness and terrible quality of any and all English-language dubbing . SO…below are my three favorite feature-length Japanese animated movies, and the honorable mentions are my favorite Japanese cartoon serials.
1. Howl’s Moving Castle (based on the book by Dianna Wynne Jones)
2. Spirited Away
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service
Honorable Mentions: InuYasha, Pokemon
Category Dos: Music Albums. I will freely admit that my musical taste is stolen. I’m not an originator, I’m a follower. And I’m okay with that. What it means in less-than-cryptic speak is that I find most of my music favorites through friends and family. I hear something that they play, decide I like it, and then get it myself. There are a couple of exceptions, of course (Wait, no. iTunes found those for me, too. I’m pathetic.), but I can be honest about this: I’m not on the breaking-news-edge of musical innovation. That said, I do have a couple of favorite albums, which are my favorites because I love every song on each one, and may be able to sing them all. Note the “may” in the last sentence.
1. In Between Dreams by Jack Johnson (My one admitted obsession. Was introduced to him by my 10th grade English teacher.)
2. Kansas by Jennifer Knapp (The first cd I ever bought. Still love it.)
3. Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot (I have been to 4 Switchfoot concerts. They’re awesome in person.)
Honorable Mention: Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George by Jack Johnson
Category Tres: Beaches. I was going to go with cities to begin with, but decided that I have too many favorites for that to work. Maybe in the future a cities-only blog entry will occur. DISCLAIMER: these are not necessarily the ‘best’ beaches I’ve ever been to. They are, however, beaches that mean something to me, that hold happy memories or good experiences. And they are very different from each other. But tremendous all the same.
1. Prainha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (You have to take a surf bus that goes about 50 minutes from Rio central south along the coastline. Then you get off and walk 10 minutes to a very secluded, rainforest-backed, pristine, white-sand beach with great waves, tranquility and beauty. Completely breathtaking.)
2. First Beach, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State (It’s more often rainy than not on this beach, and you have to hike through the temperate forest to get to it. Once there, the beach has a stark beauty, a feel of isolation, and miles of coastline to walk.)
3. Drake’s Beach, Wells, Maine (My family had a cottage for a week the summer I was twelve. We spent the entire time enjoying the Atlantic swells, tracking sand indoors, and searching for seashells. Pretty flipping idyllic.)
Honorable Mention: Siesta Key, Florida (Gorgeous white sand on the Gulf Coast. And there’s an Amish restaurant in nearby Sarasota: crazy package experience if you’re up for it.)
And finally, Category Cuatro: Spectator Sports Experiences. I’ve been to lots of sporting events. All of them entertaining in one way or another. These rate as the top ones because they came to mind first, and are not necessarily in actual order of preference. If you’re not a soccer/baseball/football fan, you should be!
1. Sevilla v. Atlético de Madrid, 2004 (My first professional soccer match…I was blown away by the emotion of the fans and the smell of the stadium. Don’t ask.)
2. Mariners Game, Ken Griffey, Jr. T-shirt Night, sometime before the Kingdome was torn down (Description speaks for itself.)
3. Homecoming Game, Florida v. LSU football, 2006 (I was sitting in the ninth row at the 50-yard line. Insanity.)
Honorable Mention: any Michigan v. Indiana women’s water polo game. Those girls get vicious!