Now we are close to turning the page to a new year, and it likely will be better than 2009 for many people. And it’s time to wrap up some holiday thoughts and happenings.
— “Avatar”: I’m not sure three dimensions were enough for this movie. I wouldn’t call it the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly the most spectacular. I used to think nothing would top the final “Star Wars” movie for special effects, but this does it. Makes you wonder what heights moviemakers will scale in the future. Computer-generated animation really is amazing, but I particularly admire the movies and shows that mix characters and real actors, such as “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings.” The plot in “Avatar” is very political, and somewhat reminiscent of “Dances With Wolves” and even “Tarzan.” But like James Cameron’s other top flicks — “Titanic,” “Terminator” — the story line is secondary to the delivery. But it keeps people in box-office lines.
— CNN iReport/social media: Everyone likes recognition, and so I appreciated more of it from CNN’s excellent social media team. Over the holidays, San Diego-based videojournalist Chris Morrow found me in Atlanta and interviewed me about my CNN iReport work. And I also met another CNN iReporter from Atlanta, Adriana Maxwell, as well as an internal producer for the iReport team. CNN knows the importance of the various social networks and the value of empowering citizens as journalists. (Remember all the tweets coming from the flight that touched down in the Hudson River?) This was after CNN.com linked to one of my Tweetup videos from a news story last March. Keeps me and others watching and clicking on CNN. On the same trip downtown, I met three folks from Spain visiting Atlanta over the holidays. Plus, this former San Diego resident now has another reason to visit there again. And as the song says, I’ve never been to Spain …
— Florida’s Urban Meyer resigns: Another example of how fast the sporting landscape can change. One week, the Gators are the nation’s top team and in the hunt for a third national title in four years. A few weeks later, they are without their top player, their head coach, and two top assistance. Life sudden got easier for other teams in the SEC East. It’s also another reminder how stressful big-time college coaching can be. That’s why they pay ’em such big bucks. (Updated 12/28/09: Meyer has announced that he will take an “indefinite leave of absence” as coach, possibly returning during the 2010 season.)
— Another airline terrorist attack: A scary reminder that this country will always have enemies and that distance is no obstacle to them. I like the way a passenger on that Detroit-bound flight was vigilant and prescient enough to intercede with that suspect. Security and authorities can only do so much.
— The recession is over: Well, in technical terms, anyway. I think a lot of this is just PR to try to give people hope. But notice how recessions keep getting worse? This time, home foreclosures, auto industry woes and the financial meltdown in general were staggering. Greed will never be legislated out of existence, of course, and advances in technology keep robbing people of jobs. Hey, just notice how many stores are going to automated self-checkout lines. And ask journalists, travel agents and mail carriers what their job prospects are like. But evolution marches on. As a prominent author once said, “Trends are like horses. Better to ride them in the direction they are already going.” Giddyup.