Monday, December 27, 2004


The end of the year means that we can post the annual La Bloga List of Whatever We Want to Make a List of ...

I’ve chosen to list “bests”. You could do worsts (pardon the pun).

This is so subjective.

Best Book - Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway. This is the one book I recommend to everyone. It’s about desperation, tragedy, courage. It reads like excellent fiction but, unfortunately, it is all true. Here’s a website: Urrea recently was named winner of the $125,000 Lannan Literary Award for non-fiction. The awards, presented by the Lannan Foundation, recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English-language literature through poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

Best New Movie I’ve Actually Seen - Very limited category since I didn’t see many new movies this year. Those in the running include Baadasssss!, Collateral, Fahrenheit 911, The Incredibles, Kill Bill Volume 2, The Manchurian Candidate, Ray, Shark Tale, Shrek 2, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Spider-Man 2. Some excellent flicks and some slim pickings, too. I think the winner has to be Maria Full of Grace, runner-up is A Day Without A Mexican. I missed something new from Mexico, since the last couple of years have seen excellent movies from Mexican directors such as Amores Perros, Y Tu Mamá También, 21 Grams.

Best Old Movie I Saw This Year - How about Out of the Past (Robert Mitchum in the quintessential noir tale)? Check out the Mexicans in this 1947 hard-boiled private detective movie that is always included in the “best noir” lists.

Best TV Show That Might Get Canceled - The Wire. Character-driven drama on TV– is it possible? Yes. Only cautionary note--there don't seem to be any Latinos in The Wire's Baltimore.

Best CD - Now here is a category with plenty of possibilities. The year saw new, great music from Los Lobos, the rise of Los Lonely Boys (although their one and so far only CD came out in 2003), Quetzal on tour, and new CDs from Conjunto Los Pochos (West Coast cantina band), Ozomatli, and local (Colorado) musician Rick Garcia. There also was plenty of jazz (Dianne Reeves is out of sight), latin jazz (Conrad Herwig and his Another Kind of Blue - The Latin Side of Miles Davis), blues (the reissues of the Muddy Waters classic 70s albums have brought me many hours of musical bliss), and even some Christmas music that brightened up my CD player (The Blind Boys of Alabama deliver the goods with several guests on Go Tell It On The Mountain--Tom Waits, George Clinton, Aaron Neville, Solomon Burke, Mavis Staples, Richard Thompson, etc.) My nod for best CD, however, goes to the Loco Moco limited edition compilation The Trouble With Men (and those of you who have it know why this is at the top of my list - now, make your own lists). Runner up is Pocho Joe’s Undercover 2004 - some great music there, bro. Thanks.

And that's it for now. Happy New Year!

Manuel Ramos