Saying Goodbye To Cooter

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2013 by bigdaddygouda

Aaron Maziarz, or Cooter as most of us know him, passed away on Thursday.

Up until that very day I considered myself lucky in terms of losing people. Aside from a set of grandparents I’d never lost anyone close to me. And certainly not a close friend that I have known since 4th grade.

Up until Thursday “shock” was just a word in the dictionary. But when I found out the terrible news, for the first time in my life I think I experienced SHOCK in its truest sense. The news took my breath away and left me completely numb. They say you share a part of yourself with close friends. If that is indeed the case, there is a part of me that ceased to exist when Cooter left this world. That is the only way I can make sense of the void I feel now.

Its an enormous loss that sent shock waves through my group of friends. Especially us guys who shared a bond growing up that I doubt many people on this earth are lucky enough to experience. But I wish the friendships I shared with Cooter and the boys on everyone. I’m confident the world would be filled with much happier people if they could have experienced half the joy that I did growing up with Cooter as a friend.

And as devastating as this is for his friends, it does not compare at all with the grief, anger and frustration his family must be feeling. Besides being a wonderful friend Aaron was also a son, a brother, a husband and most importantly, a father. I remember the morning his daughter was born. He left me a message on my phone telling me to come see “his little angel.”

The cold hard sad truth is Aaron is gone. I know the old cliche is “time heals all wounds,” or as Stephen King so eloquently put it, “Time fixes everything, whether we want it to or not.”

I pray that is true.

All we have now are memories. But remembering does help. In the midst of immense grief over the past 4 days I’ve also laughed while sharing happy memories about Cooter.

I’d like to share a few:

  • I was living at Central and Cooter and Tai were coming for a visit. We were under 21 so naturally we needed an adult to buy us beer. I volunteered my mother and told the boys to stop by her house on the way and grab it. About an hour later Cooter and Tai arrived with a 30 pack of Bush Light. Cooter was only too quick to tell me that my mother was hitting on him. “You think every girl is hitting on you,” I said, a tad bit annoyed. “Why do you think she was hitting on you?” Cooter shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Well she put her hand on my cheek and told me I had a nice smile and perfect teeth.”
  • We were at the Bantam Carnival playing a game called 60 second romance. The object was simple, go up to a random girl and you have 60 seconds to get her phone number. To say Cooter was a hall of famer at this would be an understatement. I think his record, which still stands, was about 3.2 seconds.
  • Speaking of the Bantam Carnival. My sophomore year I had a crush on Becca Clock. Naturally my guy friends knew it and encouraged me to talk to her when I spotted her by the ferris wheel. I worked up ALL the courage I had and began an awkward conversation with her. About two minutes in, Cooter creeped up behind me and pulled my shorts and boxers down. There I stood,in front of the girl I loved, completely naked from the waste down. And while witnesses say I pulled my pants up with lightening speed, in that moment seconds felt like hours.
  • I was on my way to his house and Cooter asked that I pick up two things: A diet pepsi (duh) and a birthday card for his mother. I picked out the sappiest cheesiest lovey-dovey mother/son birthday card I could find. When I arrived at Tannery Brook I casually set the diet pepsi and birthday card on the table. Coots picked up the card and read it as a look of horror flashed over his face. “Gouda,” he said, sternly. “I love my mother but I can’t give her a card like this.” Luckily, deep down, I knew that as I then pulled out the humorous birthday card I picked up as a spare.
  • It was Christmas time and Coots was in New Orleans visiting his brother Matt. Tai was tasked with picking up a Christmas tree for his family. Without hesitation Cooter volunteered his blue Subaru for transportation since it was just “sitting in the driveway at Tannery Brook.”  It took Tai about a half hour to pick up the tree and bring it back to his house. And while the Christmas tree did in fact end up at Tai’s house in Northfield, Cooter’s car did not end up back at Tannery Brook. Tai called Ads and I and offered to drive us to Boston to visit Bub and Christine. In Cooter’s car!! “Aw, he wont mind dude….it’s not like he’s using it.” I still remember listening to Cooter shout threw the phone at Tai as we sat in Bub’s dorm room at BC, drinking ourselves silly.
  • Cooter, Mark and Ashlie FORCED me to go on The Superman ride at 6 flags. I ended up in the seat next to Cooter. As we were about to take off I was already white knuckle as I held on to the arm bar. I informed Cooter that my eyes were remaining shut the whole ride and to tell me when its over. For the entire 1 minute and 30 second coaster ride Coots gave me a running commentary of every twist and turn and loop as it happened. At one point I did manage to open one eye. Ill never forget the image of Cooter with his arms raised above his head as we shot around a corner.
  • New Years 1999. We were in Boston at Bub’s apartment on Eggermont. As a group of friends New Years always has been OUR HOLIDAY. We were sad to learn that Cooter had to work at the village and for the first time in 4 years would not be ringing in the new year with us. Fast forward to seconds before Midnight. We were huddled around the TV doing the countdown. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4 and then the door flung open and in walked Cooter along with Krista! He got out of work early and raced up to Boston in record time so he could spend the holiday with his friends. And while it was quite the moment, im convinced to this day that Coots arrived in Boston around 11 but sat out in the car until just before midnight so he could make a grand entrance.
  • I arrived home from College one weekend to find Cooter parked in front of my house. He was helping my grandparents carry groceries. He was driving by and saw my gram struggling with a bag and stopped to help. She never forgot that act of kindness and always referred to Aaron as “the handsome one.” Shocker I know.
  • The night before his brother Matt’s wedding we were having drinks at Senior Panchos. It was karaoke night and we were singing a duet of Living on A Prayer. I had a few drinks and decided (with encouragement from Jamie) to start adding swears into the song. “We gotta (fucking) hold on to what we got. It doesn’t make a (fucking) difference if we make it or not.” During the guitar solo Coots covered his microphone, leaned in close to me and said, “Gouda, sing it right.” I was goofing around but apparently Aaron was trying out for American Idol.

Truth is I could write a book filled with just memories of our time together. And believe me there is a lot more. Like my first U2 concert, group dinners that Cooter cooked for us, a million parties at Tannery Brook, Yankess/Red Sox games courtesy of his mother Sharon, Sushi Dinners, his game winning goal against Wamogo, the party bus, bachelor parties in Vegas and Rhode Island, the bus ride to and from the Mets game for Matt’s bachelor party, Setback Sundays at his place in Harwington and Litchfield,  Adam’s flat tire on the way to NH, Friday nights at the Brickyard, Thursday nights at UCONN, Study hall with Coots, Bub, and Goat, “It landed on me head,”  Pandemonium shows at Murphy & Scarletti’s, Late nights with Voltron in Tai’s room, Planning Jewett’s stag party at Knights of Columbus, the missing JFK puzzle piece, Senior year swim meets with him and Joe, tying Adam up in his basement during a party, Poker nights with his brother Rich, bub and the thumbtacks, Puerto Rican Rum, Toad at Infinity Hall, Football at Bantam Community Field, Ice Ice Baby at the 8th grade dance…..

I will miss my friend Aaron forever. May He Rest In Peace.



The Torrington Medium

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2013 by bigdaddygouda

Some of you may have heard, Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, is coming to The Warner Theater in October. 10 years ago this news would have been about as interesting as Styxx coming to town, but my view on psychic mediums changed after a reading I had.

Some of you may have heard this story, Hell I may have even blogged about it a bit…but whatever…

In terms of people who communicate with the dead I was, in simplest terms, a skeptic. A non-believer who dismissed this alleged gift as “hogwash”, to put it gently.

Around my 25th birthday a friend bought me a 30 minute reading with a psychic/medium who was holding court for one day in Torrington, as part of some artsy/fartsy type thing.

At the time my friend was a fan of “Crossing Over with John Edward.” Another alleged medium who had his own show on the Sci-Fi network, naturally.

I remember she would roll her eyes when I would laugh at his communications with the dead relatives of audience members. I mentioned to her that I would love to meet with a medium to prove that its all B.S. A few months later she had my meeting arranged and the rest is….eerie history.

I walked into the room where the reading was being held: a backroom of a rented out building used for art shows and craft fairs on South Main Street. The woman was average looking; a little heavy. Just a woman, nothing supernatural about her.

As soon as I sat down an odd look came over her.

“I’m sensing a lot of energy in this room,” she said, ominously. “This is going to be good.”

She pulled out what she called a charm. Apparently, there was a chance an evil entity could enter the room during a reading. If that should happen this entity would be drawn to the charm rather than to me. She called it a charm. I called it a rock.

Before I could even introduce myself she asked me if I had an older relative who had passed. Well who the fuck doesn’t I thought. But instead, politely answered, ” yes.”

“He is here with us now,” she said, calmly.

The woman paused. She closed her eyes as if she was pondering some deep mystery. And the next words she spoke took my breath away.

“This man is showing me a croquet set.”

No sooner than the sentence left her lips did the tears well up behind my eyeballs. A lump formed in my throat as a wave of emotion washed over me. I was drowning in a sea of disbelief and shock. When I finally pulled myself out of this unfamiliar water I was a changed man.

You see, when I was a little boy, no older than four or five, my grandfather John, who was like a second father to me, used to play croquet with me in the backyard. How many kids can say that?

Had the woman said she was being shown a football, a baseball, even a frisbee; that I could understand. I mean, what boy didn’t play ball with grandpa? But croquet! That was too specific. That was specific to me and MY grandfather.

Besides being specific to ME. IT was also insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Croquet was a tiny memory, buried in my brain that was filled with hundreds of other memories of grampy. Like daily trips to burger king, tickling me until I almost puked, screaming at me when I would swear. Croquet was nothing special. It was just something I did here and there as a child. There were no hilarious stories associated with it, no photo albums of me holding a croquet mallet and I certainly didn’t tell my friends about the good ole days playing croquet with grampy. It was for all these reasons that the woman being shown a croquet set had me spooked.

After what seemed like hours I finally choked out: “I understand croquet. But why would he being showing that?”

The woman had a simple answer that I already knew, “Because the memory is specific to just you and him,” she said.

And she was right.

I listened as she told me my grandfather was there with us that day. She told me he was with me alot. Grampy did not provide me with any advice or tell me the meaning of life.

As the woman stated, “he just likes being around the people he loves.”

Ill never forget that experience obviously. Who would? And while it was comforting knowing that grampy was still with us, out there somewhere -part of it will always bother me a bit.

The part that beckons why? Why did this “medium” know these things. Why is she able to talk to dead people while others are not? Why when my friend went in for her reading following mine was she unable to connect with anyone on the other side?

I’ll never fully understand exactly what went on in that room that day. But since then I’ve undoubtedly become more open to the possibility of mediums and their alleged abilities.

So i think I’m gonna go see Theresa when she comes to Torrington in October. And when she yells out “Croquet” in the middle of her show, I’ll be the first to stand up and say:

“You read my blog you bitch!!”


Im Back….though I never really left.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2013 by bigdaddygouda

If you scroll down to the previous blog entry, you can see I have not posted in more than a year. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone without blogging since I started BDG back in 2005. Ahh, so happy then, before social media came along and crushed my noble spirit.

Because of social media (facebook mainly) Most of you know what I’ve been up to but just to fill some space here is a brief rundown of significant events (in no particular order) since my last blog on July 17, 2012….

  • I saw Paul McCartney at Fenway Park. It was amazing. For a 70yr old man that guy can still rock it out. He even signed my Mark David Chapman T-shirt.
  • I started waiting tables for extra cash. Now, as most of you know, serving food to the general public can be hell. But most of the people I work with are pretty cool and, naturally the joint is filled with pretty ladies who wont give me the time of day.
  • Aidan turned 12. That, more than anything else, truly makes me aware of my age. The kid whose diaper I once changed is now my go to guy whenever I have questions about my iphone or computer. Mindblowing indeed.
  • I’ve seen some great movies. Man of Steel was everything that Superman Returns was not. Ironman 3 was a letdown, as was Hangover 3. This is the End was funnier than expected while The Conjuring was the best horror movie I’ve seen in a while.
  • My beloved Yankees have completely fallen apart. So much to the point that I’m used to them losing. A fact I never thought I could get used to while growing up during the Joe Torre Era.
  • On the other hand My SF 49ers have seemingly returned to their mid-80’s, early 90s glory and came within a goal line stand of winning the Superbowl. I’m actually looking forward to Football season for the 1st time since the Steve Young Era.
  • Shockingly I’m still single. Though I have been out on a few dates this year which was fun. I’m not quite at the point of trolling craigslist for hookers….yet.
  • For 2 weeks this winter I adopted a neighborhood cat, Pierre. I let him stay with me during the blizzards and surprisingly he and Andy actually got along. Then one day he disappeared. I’m terrified that during one of my many visits to the local China Buffet I may have unknowingly ate him.
  • Speaking of Andy he continues to be a loyal companion: always happy to see me regardless of my mood or physical appearance.
  • A close friend of mine lost her husband unexpectedly. While I was not close with him it was a tough blow to all who knew him and I’ll never forgot getting the call. Puts things into perspective in this all too crazy world.
  • My father Pete continues to act strangely as he approaches 67 in December. Everyone is out to get him and the government has ruined his life. I’m thankful he does not have access to a firearm.
  • Mostly I live a simple existence in Waterbury. If i’m not working I can be found at the movies, possibly watching old episodes of Smallville on Netfllix or visiting the boys in Morris.

I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out. It’s hard to sum up a year in a simple blog post. I really will start writing on here more. Believe it or not I missed writing. This was my Facebook before Facebook. I encourage you to possibly scroll through the pages here at BDG. I promise this blog was once considered interesting and at times a bit controversial. I’m not sure if I will be as dirty and gossipy as I once was. Or, perhaps I fucking will be.

It’s good to be Black….I mean back.

I have a blog….still

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17, 2012 by bigdaddygouda

I wish I was writing to tell you something really amazing has happened. But I’m not. Thankfully, however, Im neither writing to tell you some sad news. I just figure I haven’t written in a while so I’m at least going to write something.

I’m going to be 35 in three days. I’m going to officially be in my “mid-30s.” That feels odd to write. And I think most teenagers think of a 35 year old as….OLD.

I don’t feel OLD, but at the same time I don’t really feel young either. In simplest terms, I kinda just FEEL. If that makes any sense. Most days I’m happy, some days I’m sad and others, I suppose I’m just going through the motions, which I assume is what a lot of people feel these days.

The most fun I have lately is hanging with Keely’s boys. Aidan just turned 11 while Grayson is five. I’m taking Aidan to his first Yankee game in a few weeks and it’s really all he’s been talking about since we agreed to go. To make it up to Grayson I told him we can see a movie, just the two of us, have lunch and McDonalds and then venture to Toys R Us so he can spend his $25 gift certificate. He had but one request, “Can Aidan come to?”

My niece Bella just turned two. She has a bond with my dog Andy that only a few children are lucky enough to have with an animal. He tolerates her tugging and screeching like he tolerates no one else. Andy has never really been fond of children, mostly because the ones he grew up with were constantly twisting his ears, dousing him with water and making loud noises but he loves Bella and that is good.

I’ve seen some really good movies lately. Moonrise Kingdom and Savages come to mind. Spiderman was better than expected while Prometheus and Men in Black kind of disappointed me and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter is easily the worst thing that ever happened to Lincoln inside a theater. Can’t wait for The Dark Knight Rises.

Speaking of disappointed. Game of Thrones Season 2 really let me down while I’ve completely given up on True Blood. Mad Men and Breaking Bad continued to be the best shows on Television and I’ve recently grown fond of Parenthood and Longmire.

Living is Waterbury is kind of cool. I have a lot more privacy that i’ve ever had. No one really comes to visit me because I don’t live close to my friends. Some of them wouldn’t even know how to get here exactly. I plan on having a pool party before the summer runs out so I’ll keep everyone posted on that.

I have a new nickname for my father. While he’ll always be “Porkchop” the name “Daddy Downer” really fits him these days. Everytime I visit him, which is about once or twice a week, he always tells me about someone he knows who has been diagnosed with some terrible disease or an old friend from high school who died. I always respond with, “That’s too bad,” but where is the good news?

Speaking of bad news, Keely’s husband Charlie, lost an uncle recently to cancer. His name was Bill and he was a good man. The first time I met him was at Charlie’s 30th Birthday Party at Danielle’s. He didn’t know who I was but realized I was having trouble putting my Dodge Neon in reverse. He diagnosed the problem and told me how to fix it.

I’m fully aware that because of Facebook you never really lose touch with anyone these days. Status updates are constantly filled with where people are going on vacation, what they are eating and whether they are dating or single. You know, the important stuff. Facebook is like my fridge. I know there is nothing there yet I check it every 10 minutes.

Speaking of single or dating, yes I’m single. What else is new? I met a girl a while back and we went out on a few dates. That is news to some I know because I refused to share it on Facebook. We had a few fun times but she was in her mid 20s and we were just in different places. That’s why I say it didn’t work out. If you asked her she will probably tell you I was a fun guy but just a little too fat and a bit too poor for her. Bitch.

That’s really all I have to say right now. I’ll leave you with a joke:

What two things in the air can make a woman pregnant?

Her Feet.





Saying Goodbye To A Dear Friend

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2012 by bigdaddygouda

The world is a less happy place today. Jamie and Jay’s beloved dog Sanchez, an animal I have known since he was a puppy, passed away today after nine great years on earth.

It does the little guy no justice to say that Jamie and Jay lost their pet. They lost a loving member of the family. And those of us that know them realize we all lost someone special today. As Krista said, “He was a member of the group.”

I have so many fond memories of that crazy little critter. I remember going to Jamie’s first apartment at Warrington Milll to meet Sanchez when he was just a little ball of fur who seemed to glide across the apartment floor. He was there in 2003 when Aaron Boone hit his homerun to beat the Red Sox. He was there a year later, hiding in the corner as Jay screamed at the TV while the Yankees flushed a 3-0 lead to the Boston Red Sox. Sanchez was there when the Sopranos ended and the screen went black and he was there for every wrestling pay per view.

How many of us have shared a couch with Sanchez at Jay and Jamie’s parties? How many of us have woken up the next morning with Sanchez staring at us with his little face, with an expression that said, “Dude, the parties over…Go home.”

That’s the thing with dogs. They become such a part of our lives that we just assume they will always be there. But sadly, that’s just not the way it is.

I saw Sanchez just yesterday when I went to Jay and Jamie’s for Wrestlemania. As always he was happy to see me. We had a special bond. We had an understanding. I gave him treats when Jay and Jamie weren’t looking and he promised not to tell.

Although Jay did catch me feeding him treat after treat about five years ago. He got down on one knee to Sanchez’s level and patted his head.

“I know you love Walt because he gives you treats,” Jay said, like a parent talking to a child. “But he really shouldn’t  because its bad for you.”

That was Jay’s polite way of saying, “Walt. Stop over-feeding my dog!”

But make no mistake. Sanchez was spoiled. He had a better wardrobe than me and while I know he hated it, he even let Jamie dress him up every Halloween. I would arrive at the house for the annual Halloween parties and there he would be decked out in, say…a clown costume, with a look on his face that said, “Please Walt, get this thing off me.”

He had more toys than most kids and we all recognize Sanchez’s growl when someone would get daring and attempt to take away one of his chew toys.

“I wouldn’t,” Jay would say, as someone attempted to take away a mangled doll or a squeaky ball.

Yes, Sanchez lived nine great years. He logged a lot of miles with Jay and Jamie. The three of them shared a bond that a lot of people will never get the chance to experience. For that I consider them blessed.

I’m really going to miss that little guy. I will think of him often, as will we all.

May he rest in peace.

Dog Days

Posted in Stuff, Uncategorized on January 13, 2012 by bigdaddygouda

After two and a half years of living with Andy he puggle it’s safe to say I know him as well as I know anyone. A few days ago I sensed a slight change in him. His eating and bathroom habits were the same as always. He didn’t seem sick in anyway yet there was something about him that just seemed off.

I wrote it off to stress. We are two weeks into a new apartment and I just wrote it off as part of the adjustment period. That theory, however, went out the window when I woke up Wednesday morning. I made my way into the living room and found it odd that Andy, who sleeps at the end of my bed, had not followed me. As he had always done for two years.

I went back into the bedroom and Andy was standing near the edge of the bed whimpering. He reminded me of a castaway on a sinking ship – wanting to get off but afraid to jump. I called to him a few times yet he would not come down. When he didn’t respond to, “Wanna go for a walk?” I knew something was wrong.

I grabbed him by the collar and attempted to pull him down but he resisted. So I wrapped my arms around him, lifted and set him on the ground. As soon as his legs hit the floor he crumbled to the ground in a heap. He grunted a few times and lifted himself up and began to limp toward me.

The life was immediately sucked out of me. My heart began to pound and I felt sick to my stomach. Something was seriously wrong with my dog.

It appeared that his legs hurt and he couldn’t walk because of it. So, like anyone who needs immediate answers I went to Google. All signs pointed to Lyme disease. Apparently a dog’s joints become inflamed as a result of the disease and it impacts their ability to walk. I then called Keely, his former owner. She explained how Andy has suffered from the disease when he was two and he was showing the same symptoms.

We contacted the vet who said it sounded like Lyme Disease but wanted to see him to be sure. Unfortunately we couldn’t get an appointment until the next day.

I carried Andy outside so he could go to the bathroom. He couldn’t even lift his leg to pee. I brought him back inside and set him on the couch. I brought his food to him and thankfully he ate.

I explained the situation to my mother who agreed to check on him periodically through out the day while I was at work. She would later tell me that each time she arrived at my apartment to check on him he seemed happy but would not leave the couch. She covered him with his favorite blanket and let him be.

I arrived home 8 hours later and for the first time in the two years of owning Andy, the trusted Puggle was not there to greet me when I opened the door.

I instantly walked over to the couch where he was still laying where I left him earlier in the day. He was alert and seemed happy to see me. He was barely moving but his tail was thumping madly against the couch cushions. The sight was just too much for me to take. I sat down beside him as a wave of emotion splashed over me. I buried my face in my hands and began to sob as Andy struggled to put his head in my lap.

I eventually composed myself and made some calls to fellow dog owners who I know have dealt with Lyme disease before. They all spoke of similar symptoms and the agony of seeing their pet in pain. In made me feel a bit better knowing that although Lyme Disease is a serious thing, it is in fact common and more importantly, treatable.

At 9 a.m. this morning Andy and I were off to the vet. After a short examination we were on our way home with a prescription for doxycycline, aka, the Lyme Disease antibiotic. As I type this Andy is already showing improvement. He can walk again and his old wild self is starting to shine through.

Thanks to Sherry, Ashlie and Jamie for their doggie advice. Thanks to Mom and Keely for help with the vet stuff.

Andy is a pain in my ass but I don’t know what I’d do without him.

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2011

Posted in Movies on January 6, 2012 by bigdaddygouda

If nothing else, I’ve been consistent with My Top 10 movie list since 2005.

10. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL – Hands down the best action film of the year.

9. THE MUPPETS – This one made me feel young again and I even got a little misty eyed when the original theme played prior to the big finale at the end of the film. With The Muppets the message always comes across the screen loud and clear: “Life’s a happy song, when you’ve got someone to sing along.”

8. CONTAGION – What would happen if a virus struck and wiped out half of the world’s population? This was the scariest movie of the year if you ask me.

7. MONEYBALL – This film was so good it was easy to overlook the fact that the villians in the film were The New York Yankees.

6. THE DESCENDANTS – George Clooney is perfect as a grieving father whose wife lay dying after a boating accident. He, along with his two daughters, takes a road trip to find the man who was sleeping with his wife behind his back. Sounds fucked up huh?

5. SUPER 8 – A film anchored by great acting performances by a bunch of middle school-aged kids coming of age in the 197os. The character development was so good I actually forgot I was, in fact, watching a “monster movie.”

4. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – This film is better than the Sweedish version and that is saying a lot. Rooney Mara is perfect as Lisbeth Slander, the titular character and Daniel Craig holds his own as Mikail Bloomqvist. Dark and suspencefull with a kick-ass original score from Trent Renznor makes this a near-perfect film.

3. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 – While there were some obvious changes from the beloved book, I have to say the final Potter film stuck the landing and provided a satisfying conclusion to the decade old franchise.

2. 50/50 – The always reliable Joseph Gordon Leavitt plays a cancer victim who is given a 50 percent chance of beating the disease. Seth Rogen, in one of his best roles, plays the wing-man. The film is sad, funny, touching and timely. And how could any film that ends with the Pearl Jam gem Yellow Ledbetter, blasting through the movie theater speakers not earn a spot on this list?

1. DRIVE – There were a lot of good movies in 2011. Some were even great. But Drive, with Ryan Gosling, was special, unlike anything I’ve seen on film in years. Here is my original review of the film: WORTH THE DRIVE