Favorite hotel: The Bowery, New York, NY. I stayed in this hotel once and immediately loved it. Most New York hotels are either (a) large, with too many rooms and guests; (b) have small rooms; or (c) both. In the case of The Bowery, the room was quaint but not small, decorated with a splash of European style, and adorned with the small things which showcase an attention to detail.
Favorite book: Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, Joe Drape; South of Broad, Pat Conroy (tie)
Favorite CD: Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: Live from Madison Square Garden
Favorite movie: The Blind Side is predictable, not well-acted (other than Sandra Bullock), and won't be nominated for any Golden Globes or Oscars. But, it's the best movie I saw this year because it was a true story about doing good. Let's also give a nod here to Bullock who quietly is become America's most consistent actress when measured by box-office results.
Favorite gadget: After starting the year with the Palm Pre, I ended the year carrying the HTC Hero, an Android device. While not a fan of touch-screen keypads, this phone is just too good--the keypad works for me, the size and ergonomics are right for my hand, and the Android marketplace is the best app store this side of Apple's selection. It's a great phone.
Favorite restaurant: I had some tremendous meals in '09, e.g., Sparks Steakhouse, New York; El Dorado Kitchen, Sonoma, CA; Capo, Santa Monica, CA; and several others. But, the meal and place which stick out was lunch at the Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood, TX. This roadhouse eatery, featuring some of the best barbecue in Texas, makes my mouth water just thinking about the finely smoked meats.
Favorite TV show: Mad Men. I have to admit, I was skeptical about season three of this AMC Network show set in the advertising industry of the early 1960's. After two terrific seasons, a third season of excellent writing coupled with spare, understated acting seemed too much to ask. And, there have been many shows who have begun their decline in season three. But, Mad Men used this season to further the split between Don and Betty Draper, to introduce several new story lines and to, in one of the best television episodes ever, tie up the loose ends in a way that makes season four "can't miss" television...and all without a cliffhanger ending.