The Best Year of 2014

by Michael Channing

NPR and YouTube and Rolling Stone and every other website in the world have all chewed up the events of 2014 and spat them out in pre-digested top 10 lists, but none of these self-appointed momma birds have given you what you're truly hungry to know: How was Michael Channing's year? Well gather round your monitors and ESP-enabled radios, and let me share with you Michael Channing's Top Best Year of 2014.

Best Thing:

Michael Channing getting married the second time.

I got married twice. What happened was that my wife's friend started receiving hospice care. She'd been saying for a while that she wanted him at our wedding, so we had it at his apartment. He lay, with his wife beside him, in his bed, and my wife and I took our vows right next to him. It was simple and beautiful. But since their apartment was so small, we were only able to comfortably fit just so many guests. So instead of leaving out a bunch of people, we drove to another friend's house and got married again. This one was outside, and we had flower girls and a ring bearer, and the front-man from Wasted Wine played violin. When I tried to repeat the words our pastor said, I got choked up and could barely speak. My wife was beautiful and happy. The weather was perfect. Our friends had a great time and completely forgave us for being late to both ceremonies.

Other Best Thing:

My nephew window shopping at Christmas.

I love my little nephew. His birthday is also my wedding anniversary so we are forever bound, he and I. My wife and I take him to the park, to the children's museum, or he just hangs out here and plays with our wooden train set and Lincoln Logs. (We also churn butter, but he's too young for that.) We've taken him hiking and to a mill where he stared enchanted at a water-driven machine shaking out grits for twenty full minutes.

I love it when he calls my name. He can't say it very well, but he knows who I am, and he trusts me. He's my pal. He's also my practice child. When I changed his diaper, it was the very first time I'd ever changed a diaper in my life. I was proud of myself. When he leaves our house, the living room is covered in toys and half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches, but I'm always happy he was here. The kid makes me look forward to being a dad for real. Maybe that will happen this year.

Best New Accomplishment:

Hosting the first Nerd Quiz Live! in my Batman tie.

I hosted seven Nerd Quiz Live! shows this year. I started the video series in 2013 because I love trivia and nerdy things, and YouTube videos don't require me to interact with other humans. A friend liked them and kept telling me I should turn the idea into a live show. I kept refusing because of the aforementioned social anxiety, but he wore me down. So I organized the show, researched and wrote questions, put together a slide presentation, and that friend moved away. He's never seen a single show.

Not that very many others have. We haven't had a large turnout, but I think we're getting better, and I think the show is improving. I have come to enjoy and dread the pressure of having to write questions and devise word games and discussion topics. I do, however, absolutely love making the posters. It's been a learning experience. I'm elated right after a show, depressed a couple days later because hardly anyone came, then anxious to start all over. Eventually the show will also be a podcast, and we hope to grow and become more popular. No one else is doing a show like it, and I hope it catches on.

Best Discovery:

Ronnie James Dio in concert flashing devil horns.

This was the year I accepted Ronnie James Dio as my personal savior. Well, as one them. I have a few. I'd known his name for years, heard "Rainbow in the Dark" a few times on the radio along with a cover of "Holy Diver." But never looked any deeper. What the hell was wrong with me?

Holy Diver is full of great songs about self-empowerment, overcoming your fears, and riding on the backs of tigers. Dio promises even in your darkest times, you are not alone. The guitar work is absolutely amazing throughout, with all the squeals and shredding that made the 80s awesome. Dio has one of the greatest voices in rock-and-roll, loud and powerful with none of the sleaze that made the 80s awful.

Thus began my tumble down the rabbit hole of all things Dio. I've heard just about all the albums he recorded under the Dio name and I've listened to three of the four records he made with Black Sabbath. Mob Rules has not left my car since I bought it, and I've listened through at least a dozen times in the last couple months. I will eventually have to see what Elf and Rainbow were all about. I guarantee no brand new release of 2014 came with this much history or a back catalog so vast and glorious.

More Remembrances of Things Past

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Chokes and Warbles
Now Available

Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing