December means making a list of what’s hot and what’s not

There are many things to look forward to in December. Not all of them have to do with the holidays. As much as I like Christmas, the other thing that always gets my attention this time of year is the annual compilation of various lists. You know, the 10 best this and worst that — everything from songs to books to movies to stupid political statements to bad behavior to you name it.

This is the month The New York Times releases its best ideas list for the year. It’s a kind of what’s hot and what’s not, combined with what trends and gadgets we may see in the not-too-distant future.

It has been spot on occasionally.

In 2003, Times editors, or whoever picks this stuff, said the age of social networking was just around the corner. Indeed it was. It’s doubtful that even the Times expected 500 million Facebook members and the geek from Harvard being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

The list has also been a little goofy at times. It was 2005 when some kid auctioned off the space on his forehead (for more than $30,000) to have a permanent advertisement tattooed for the world— or at least whoever happened to be wherever he was in it — to see. It didn’t catch on, and we can be thankful.

Or it can be just wrong. In 2001, the Times said conspiracy theories were dead. I’m not sure what the reasoning was, since I suspect conspiracy theories have been around ever since man decided to walk upright. Anyway, the Times said no more grassy knolls. We really did land on the moon and Paul McCartney is still alive. But somebody forgot to tell the birthers and Craig Meis.

What the list really is, as are all lists of its ilk, is entertainment for those of us who are easily entertained and are willing to argue over anything.

But on to this year. We’ll start with one I simply don’t get. I don’t know much more about Lady Gaga than the fact her name is in the news a lot and I think she’s a singer. And her name should be Lady Gag. She’s the one who wore a dress made of raw meat to an awards ceremony.

The Times found that disgusting display to be Andy Warholesque and suggested that, rather than gag, we should be thinking deeply about just what it was she was trying to say.

OK, I guess, if you want to think about that go right ahead. I’ll gag. Andy Warhol painted soup cans. He didn’t wear the soup.

But here’s one to think about. I missed it, but sometime this year the “bra mask” debuted. It’s for people who live in places where, say, a terrorist might release pathogens into the atmosphere. It’s really a bra when not pressed into life-saving service, but when needed, the cups can be detached and worn around the head as a gas mask. It’s not likely to be a big seller, but it’s not a bad idea.

Also on the not-a-bad-idea-but-not-really-necessary list are “relaxation drinks.” They’re the antidote to Red Bull and Jolt Cola. They’re beverages filled with ingredients marketers swear will lead one to a state of harmony and bliss. Ingredients like melatonin, kava and valerian. What’s not known is whether the city of Grand Junction will put the question of whether to allow sales of relaxation drinks to the voters.

And here’s one that I think really is a good idea. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of buying a new phone every two years. So are other people apparently, and a British design firm has built a phone that can be upgraded with the latest features as they come on the market.

The phone, theoretically, could last for decades. And to make it particularly cool, it will be made of materials such as leather and metals that will age beautifully over time. Your phone will always be state of the art, but it will have a well-worn but elegant patina.

I’ll pass on the raw meat clothing, but sign me up for the phone.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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