Now 2015 passes into the ether, another year of highs and lows as extreme as the weather. Here's a list of some of my ups and downs from the year.
Best Atlanta sports story: The Atlanta Hawks were a joy to watch with their scrappy team play. The disappointing playoffs loss to Cleveland didn't diminish the glow of their wonderful regular season. This year, they're back, with Kent Bazemore erasing the memory of DeMarre Carroll. Kyle Korver's season long shooting slump is distressing, but Al Horford, Paul Milsap and Jeff Teague play at an all-star level. Here's hoping Thabo Sefolosha has a memorable season after the horrible police brutality in NYC. The Hawks also feature Atlanta's best and most entertaining TV announcers, Bob Rathbun and Dominique Wilkins. 'Nique is truly an Atlanta treasure.
Worst Atlanta sports story: The dismantling of the Atlanta Braves. I'm not convinced by the AJC sports columnists' aping the party line that there's a plan. The only plan seems to be generating maximum profits for Liberty Media.
Best movie performance: Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace in "The End of The Tour. "
Best movie for old newspaper types: "Spotlight." Michael Keaton was much better as a hometown crusading newspaper editor than he was as an aging movie star in the highly overrated "Birdman."
Movie that made me wish I could have those two hours of my life back: "Amy." The tragic British singer is exploited even in death.
Best late year TV discovery: "Fargo," season 2. I shunned the first season out of a misplaced suspicion of TV remakes of great movies. Plus, I've never liked Billy Bob Thornton. In a moment of boredom, I started binging on the second season and found myself captivated by the strong acting and writing. What a cast!
Biggest TV letdown: "True Detective," second season. Truly one of the worst shows in TV annals.
Biggest TV surprise: "Madam Secretary" proved unexpectedly prescient and suspenseful on world politics.
Shows on the downhill slide. "The Good Wife." "Nashville."
Favorite TV experience: I know it's cornball, but I love ESPN's "College Football Game Day." Lee Corso's closing moment always brings joy and laughter. However, Rece Davis is too strident, making me sorely miss the cool savvy of Chris Fowler, who no longer has to work mornings before announcing the prime-time ABC game. Although he's a smug Buckeye, I'm glad Kirk Herbstreit keeps working the early and late shift. But too much Bear, not enough Samantha Ponder.
Favorite TV Experience Part II: College football Saturdays. Is it addiction to watch from noon to past midnight, often switching back and forth between two or three games? Yes, I know the sport is corrupt, overwrought, exploitative. To which I say, what time is the kickoff?
Favorite TV Experience Part III: "Downton Abbey." Yes, I know it's soapy and silly. I love the clothes, the accents and the picture of a world passing away. Can't wait for the last season, beginning Sunday.
Saddest Farewell: I'll miss "Mad Men." I loved the clothes, the accents and the picture of a world passing away. My heart will always yearn for January Jones' Betty, and the show gave me one of my all-time favorite characters, John Slattery's Roger Sterling. Loved seeing Slattery play a similar role as Ben Bradlee Jr. in "Spotlight."
Best Aging Baby Boomer Moment: Jackson Browne concert in Nashville.
Best Book Moment: The Nashville book festival, with Wendell Pierce and others. Whenever I make a trip to Nashville from Atlanta, I feel I'm going to a city of the future from a city of the past.
Best books: "The Class of '65," by Jim Auchmutey. "Once in a Great City," by David Maraniss. Tracey Daugherty's bio of Joan Didion is much better than the judgment rendered by the lockstep critical chorus. Daugherty gives a vivid picture of the wild creativity/destructiveness of the 1960s through the lens of a now lost literary culture.
Best Novels: I find novels less and less appealing. I do hope to read Jonathan Franzen's "Purity" and Garth Risk Hallberg's "City of Fire." Harper Lee's wildly uneven"Go Set a Watchmen" had some memorable moments, especially in the first half of the book. The last 100 pages are a disaster. My biggest problem with "Watchmen's" Atticus Finch isn't so much that he's a racist, but that he's such a mundane and boring one. At its best, the book presents a true picture of Southern culture in the stunted, oppressive 1950s.
Best Theater Experience: Sam Waterston was disappointing in the New York Shakespeare in the Park's production of "The Tempest." But New York's Elevator Repair Service stood out with an imaginative rendering of William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." A rich experience to see Faulkner's doomed, obsessive characters come to life on a small stage in downtown Manhattan.
Best trend: My children continue to reach new accomplishments.
Best trend II: New babies, on both sides of the family. The year saw the births of trio of baby boys, who, considering their genetic forebears, will have interesting and creative lives. Blessings to you all.