It's the season for year-end lists. And as I'm too busy/not motivated enough to write something more original, I will simply detail my favourite things of the year. Enjoy.
I travelled to Korea last Spring, somewhat on a whim, after becoming fascinated with the culture. I didn't know what to expect upon arrival though. Certainly I didn't anticipate falling as deeply in love with its capital as I did. At this time, Seoul doesn't seem to be on a lot of traveller's radars but it should be: in my opinion, it is the most fascinating place in Asia offering a mix of history, both past and modern, technology, trend, and nature that is unrivalled on earth. To view a gallery of images of Korea, click here.
RUNNER UP: Paris.
BOOK: Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
The author focused less on politics and the autocratic regime, and more on the everyday lives of average North Korean citizens crafting a tale that is universally relatable in its yearning for love and freedom. 'Nothing to Envy' remains one of the best books I've ever read.
RUNNER UP: The Man Without a Face by Masha Gessen
I still can't believe Vladimir Putin's life isn't a work of fiction.
ALBUM: Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd
His lyrics are questionable but I can't get enough of The Weeknd's voice (or this awesome bass line):
RUNNER UP: '1989', Taylor Swift
'Style' is the perfect pop song.
FACE: Paul Maurice
A friend has gotten me hooked on watching Winnipeg Jets games. I admit that half of my fandom has to do with hometown pride and the other half has to do with watching head coach Paul Maurice's face from the sidelines. I don't think I've ever seen him smile.
RUNNER UP: I may be a bit biased.
I recall reading somewhere that Canadians deploy the "poo" emoji more than any other nation on earth. I'm not sure why that is. I certainly went through a phase with it. But the emoji I most often use mirrors the way I'm feeling. Perhaps this is why I'm so fascinated with Paul Maurice.
News Story: #WHOOPS
A lot of bad news comes out of Winnipeg. An invisible darkness seems to permeate the city, resulting in crimes so brutal that the rest of the country is left in shock while citizens, used to (and perhaps, at times, numb to) the headlines, continue to treat their reality as routine. I chose #WHOOPS as my news story of the year because it countered this. It was a tale so completely ridiculous – and hilarious – that even thinking about it now causes me to break out in laughter.
#WHOOPS, the perfectly astute hashtag used to document the event as it unfolded, is about three City of Winnipeg police officers discussing the pitfalls of oral sex with someone who is, uh … er, not that familiar with waxing. While this would normally be a private conversation, it was broadcast to half the city when someone in the WPS Air 1 helicopter accidentally hit the loudspeaker transmitting it to everyone down below.
I'm not sure what type of disciplinary action – if any – was used. But I think the sheer embarrassment of being involved, and the international headlines and fodder that followed, is punishment enough.
RUNNER UP: Syrian refugees
On a more serious note, I'm proud to see Canada open its doors to people who truly need help and hope.
MOMENT: July 13
RUNNER UP: October 16