I find it odd that we count the revolutions of our planet with a completely arbitrary starting point. It's not the point we're furthest from the sun nor the point where we're closest. It's not even the point where we're the average distance from the sun. It's not based on any historical or religious occurrence. It's just some completely random day chosen for no reason whatsoever. And since I hate celebrating New Year's anyway, I've decided to start counting by my own arbitrary, random point in the rotation. My birthday. Because frankly, it's the most important day of the year since without it, there's no me. And since I'm the most important person in my life (without me, there is no life so I'm the most important person by default), it seemed a logical conclusion to start counting everything starting with that day.
Well, that day is coming on Friday, January 25, 2008. Since everyone else has already posted their Best Of lists for the calendar year, then I'm going to go ahead and post mine.BEST VIDEO GAMERock Band
Rock band is completely innovate yet absolutely nothing new at the same time. There's been drum games, guitar games, and singing games for ages. With the Beamani series in Japan and Guitar Freaks, Drum Freaks, and Keyboard Freaks; the idea of plugging them all up together to play the same song cooperatively isn't even new. But this was the first game to take the success of Guitar Hero (whose main strength was a playlist of a shitload of cool songs that people would actually want to play as opposed to random J-Rock hits) and the idea of playing everything and put it in our homes.
There is nothing more fun than getting a big group of people together with a full band of drummer, bassist, guitarist, and singer; then having everyone swap off in Band Quickplay mode. Throw in some beer and pizza and it's a blast of a party. Oh, and that's not even counting the fact that this game can help you learn how to play the drums, sing on pitch, and play an instrument and sing at the same time. Sure, it's not the same as the real thing and you'll still have to adjust and practice at the real thing, but this is great training. And blowing $170 on a game is a hell of a lot better than $400 for a drumset that'll just sit in the garage collecting dust and spiderwebs.Runner UpHalo 3
Fun as hell with a great single-player campaign as well as the best FPS multiplayer on a console system, Halo 3 is a great game. It just can't hold a candle to the pure fun of Rock Band.FAVORITE FILM OF THE YEAR300
There is nothing short of a marathon session of God of War that's as cathartic as watching this movie. The brutality of massive-level melee land war has never been so stylish and slick. This film isn't meant to be historical. It isn't meant to have a deep plot or amazing character development. This film is myth. This film is the version of the story of the 300 Spartans that's been told around campfires and field tents before battles for millennia to inspire the troops. This is the version of the story that was told at the Alamo before the Mexican army hit the walls. This is the version that was told on the ship before launching for Normandy. Any time an army has been outnumber and outmanned, almost sure to die...this story is told. How 300 men stopped an army of millions dead in its tracks and held their line long enough to accomplish their mission. How these men laid down their lives greatfully for their country. Sure, in the real battle is was 300 Spartans plus an army of about 30,000 other Greek nations plus supply lines and that Xerxes's real army numbered probably in the hundred thousands, not the millions...but who gives a flying fuck about history in this case? Let historians debate the brilliant sacrificial strategy that allowed an eventual Greek victory over the Persian Empire. I want the myth. I want three hundred men with nothing but shield, spear, and sword all by themselves fighting off an army in the millions, drinking the rivers dry and arrows blotting out the sun.Runner UpTrick 'R Treat
God, I wish I could see this movie again. It was just SO much fucking fun. I can't remember a horror movie I've enjoyed nearly as much as I enjoyed this film since I was a kid. Unfortunately, unless screenings pop up here and there, this film is shelved until Halloween 2008. It's a shame, I want to see it NOW! AND I WANT A SAM PLUSHIE!!!!BEST NEW TELEVISION SERIESBurn Notice
This show is great. It's also one of the most technically accurate spy shows I've ever seen, including films. From everything I've read and heard, all the advice given and tactics used by Michael Weston in the series are the same things used by real spies in the field. Only they cut out the boring bits with paperwork and only show the exciting parts. Everyone on the cast is great, and the show has yet to disappoint.Runner UpReaper
Another great show that just doesn't have the momentum behind it that Burn Notice does. It's a monster-of-the-week comedy/drama using the Brimstone plot device of an agent for the Devil hunting down escaped souls from Hell. I can't put my finger on what exactly, but I have very low hopes this series will be renewed. I really hope it is though. I think it's just finding its voice and some of the soap opera metaplot elements are just coming into their own, while others haven't been exploited at all.BEST RETURNING TV SERIESPsych
Where Monk has been failing (see below), Psych has been succeeding. This is a great series where the comedy is actually funny and the mystery is almost always really good. They mysteries are logical with all the evidence given to you throughout the show, but always in such a way that it doesn't throw an immediate spotlight on the culprit. Some of the joke references are a couple of years too early for me (the characters are a bit older than I am, so I miss references to shit like Airwolf since I barely remember the show), but the show is consistantly good at pulling off both character and situational humor. There's something to like about every character, and none of the other characters ever come off as bumbling idiots much like film versions of Watson or Lt. Disher on Monk. Detective Lassiter is a great detective, but very straight-forward and traditional in his approach which allows the more unorthodox Shawn Spenser to beat him to the punch in solving cases. Burton "Gus" Guster is obviously Watson to Shawn's Holmes, but while he's often shown to be Shawn's inferior in detection skills, Gus holds his own and often comes up with brilliant deductions once Shawn's pointed out the key observation. I cannot praise this series enough. This series is better than Monk when Monk was still good.Runner UpHouse
Okay, this could probably be put under "New Series" as far as I'm concerned. And frankly, the show isn't that great. The mysteries are usually pretty bad, the medicine always seems off, and I just plain flat don't like medical procedurals. However, this show has some of the best dialog writing on TV right now. House, even in this year's season, hasn't missed a beat. The characters are great and actually evolve and change from episode to episode, and their relationships are amazing. I frankly couldn't give a shit less what each week's diagnosis is...I want to know what House is going to do in the clinic, or what Cameron's going to say to Wilson about whatever happened last week. I burned through all three and a half seasons of House that are out in under two weeks, watching them with pretty much every free second I had. I lost a lot of sleep because of this show, and if I didn't put it on my list (yes, even over Doctor Who, Battlestar, Metalocolypse, and Torchwood), I wouldn't have been very honest. BEST NOVELWhite Night
Big fucking surprise, I'm sure. I'm obsessively, romantically, and sexually in love with the Dresden Files novel series. Yes, I would marry it given the opportunity. Every novel in the series is better than the last, giving us none of the bullshit degradation of quality most long novel series suffer from (I'm looking at you, Laurel K. Hamilton). If you're one of the few people I haven't personally pestered to read the Dresden Files, then go pick up the first three books in the series. After I approve your credentials (making sure you wouldn't hate them based solely on the genre or style), I offer a complete money-back guarantee* on the first three books of the series. That's how convinced I am of their greatness.
* If you meet approval, I offer to pay you the full purchase price you paid for the first three Dresden Files books -- Storm Front, Fool Moon, and Grave Peril -- on the condition that you surrender the books to me so that I can use them for back-ups because people keep fucking stealing them from me. You are required to finish at least the first three books of the series, providing proof that you've read them all by answering simple plot-related questions. This offer is only good on paperback copies of the books and does not apply to hardcover, special printings, or audio books. I will reimburse the purchase price or $7.99 per book, whichever is lower. This offer is not good for anyone I don't personally know, so people randomly stumbling across this blog are not allowed to try to fuck me over.Runner UpHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Order of the Phoenix is my favorite Potter book. Prisoner of Azkaban is my second. Philosopher's Stone is third. Half-blood Prince is forth. Deathly Hallows is a very weak, overly long for no purpose other than to inflate the page count, killing characters for no rhyme nor reason other than it's the last book and we need a body count god damnit disappointing fifth. The other two books, I don't even really like all that much.
So how did this make the list? Because it was the ending. And aside from the random deaths that didn't do anything other than put bodies on the floor, every prediction I had came true. So suck it, all you people on the Potter forums! I really could have written the damn book like I threatened to!BEST ALBUMNew Maps of Hell
Bad Religion's started to lose their way again it seems, as New Maps is a great follow-up to The New America. Maybe Brett's not doing as much writing as he was on their previous two CDs. Maybe they're just out of juice now that they're all pushing 50. Who knows? However, this CD rocked harder than any other album that came out this year. That's actually saying more about how little came out this year than about the quality of this album.Runner UpUmmmmm...yeah, maybe Reel Big Fish's album? I don't know
Yeah, Year 27 had fuck-all in terms of new albums. Reel Big Fish had half of a new album with the other half being re-recordings of older songs. Mustard Plug's new album is almost a new band with how much their sound has changed. Only two or three of their songs even remind me they're the same band, and those aren't even the good songs on the album. But this year, we're supposed to be getting new Pennywise, Millencolin, Less Than Jake, and NOFX albums...god I hope so...I'm out of shit to listen to on the way to work...BIGGEST SURPRISEMeat Pie
I'm sure you're wondering what the fuck I'm talking about. Nothing's been a big surprise this year in terms of media. However, I discovered a deep burning passion for meat pie at the screening of Sweeney Todd at BNAT9. Unfortunately, those four bites of heaven are the only time I've been able to have the delicious, flaky goodness because no one in America makes fucking meat pies! Hell, I can't even find a reliable recipe online for them!! Please, someone help me! I WANT MORE MEAT PIE!!Runner UpNOTHING!
Really, nothing else surprised me this year. Everything I found for the first time, I already knew I would like and just never got around to watching. Everything met my expectations without greatly exceeding them and nothing severely disappointed me more than I expected it to.BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTSpider-man 3
Seriously, Mr. Raimi...what the fuck were you thinking? The plot sucked. The new villains sucked. The fights sucked. The only thing that didn't suck was the black costume itself. I'd be more upset if I hadn't expected it. There aren't many series that can make it to three installments without dropping the ball.Runner UpThe Dresden Files
"Wait, stop the presses!" you're saying. "Weren't you just spewing sperm all over The Dresden Files not two minutes ago?"
Why yes, yes I was. The novel
series. What I am referring to is the unfortunate TV series which was launched by the Sci-Fi channel.
Apparently, this TV series was originally a Sci-Fi Original Movie which was supposed to be a big-budget theatrical movie. However, Constantine came up and the bastards decided they didn't want two contemporary fantasies out at the same time. So they shitcanned Dresden in favor of the acting prowess of Keanu Reeves. How's that decision working out for you, BTW? So everything got scaled back. A lot.
Then Sci-Fi looked at the two hour TV movie and said this would be perfect for a TV series! However, instead of using this fairly decent adaptation of the first novel of the series and logical starting point, let's choose the weakest fucking episode out of the eight we've got and re-shoot THAT as the pilot! And let's keep jumbling up the episode order so that no one has a remote fucking idea what's going on! Oh, and let's cut the budget a bit more for special effects so that you can't actually have your wizard character doing a lot of magic. Oh, and those incantations? We've already got a wizard named Harry to ride on Harry Potter's coattails, so let's not bother with stuff that actually has basis in fact and has been part of the genre since day one.
Yes, I'm still bitter. Especially since I could've written something about eighty billion times better in my fucking sleep.MOST IMPROVEDRobert B. Parker
Robert B. Parker's novels usually aren't any better or worse than any of his other novels. They're all good, but few of them are great and only a couple suck. However, previously to 2007, most of the suck came right before then. The Spenser series was going all over the place, Sunny Randal and Jesse Stone (the main characters from his other two series) were knocking each other's boots, and everything was basically going downhill. Had the master of contemporary hard boiled lost his touch?
Parker came out with three books this year. The Spenser series had been going back on track for a few years, but Now and Then was perfect. I read the entire thing cover to cover in one night. It was exactly what Spenser needed. In High Profile, Sunny and Jesse broke it off and went back to their normal lives.
Basically, everything is back to the status quo for Parker's novels. And this is great IMO because it's exactly what I want. Good, maybe great, but nothing that's going to make me fall to my knees in praise of the god that is the author (like I do with Jim Butcher).MOST DETERIORATEDMonk
This show is circling the drain fast. The first two seasons were great. Quirky humor with good mystery as the focus and a metaplot of Trudy's murder that popped up fairly regularly as a theme to drive the narrative as well as Monk attempting to get re-instated to the police.
Now? The mysteries suck. Plain and simple. I usually have them figured out ten minutes in. Which isn't hard at all because they're a complete fucking afterthought to the writing process on the show now. All the focus instead is on putting Monk in "humorous" situations. And by "humorous", I mean "LET'S MAKE FUN OF MENTAL ILLNESS!!!!" The first ten minutes set up the mystery and give you pretty much all the evidence. The next twenty-five minutes is low-rated sitcom grade comedy with Monk in some situation that is hilarious mixed with his OCD. The last ten minutes is wrapping up the plot of the mystery that every retarded four year old in the country figured out already. Or else they pull a solution straight out of their asses that maybe kinda sorta fits the evidence but still comes straight out of nowhere.
And it isn't even a Sharona vs. Natalie thing. I like both characters for different reasons. But for fuck's sake, STOP WITH THE SHITTY SITCOM! The comedy from the first two seasons came from the character, not from the situation. Fuck, even the ads are more like sitcom ads. "Hey everybody, the OCD guy's going to be a bank security guard and gets trapped in a vault! Isn't that funny? Laugh at the stereotypical mentally disabled guy!"BEST FINDRed vs. Blue
I'm am such a whore for RvB. I only discovered this series this past year and my obsession was immediate. I devoured the entire series, then forced it upon anyone who would listen. I quote it incessantly (do NOT say the word "pacifist" around me or I will immediately say "Isn't that the thing that babies suck on? Wait, no, that a pedophile..."). If you want to know how much of a whore I am for this show, ask asilla (a regular in the Ain't It Cool News chatroom). I found out that she at one time dated Gus Sorola who plays Simmons in the series. I flipped.
Hell, I met a bunch of celebrities at BNAT this year. Eli Roth was there once again, I've met Mel Gibson before, Peter Jackson stepped on my foot, the screenwriters for X-Men 2 and Superman Returns...hell, I had dinner with Shane Black at the Austin Film Festival two years ago with Cargill and a bunch of other guys. However, I have never EVER geeked out as badly as when I thumbed through the BNAT yearbook and saw that BURNIE FUCKING BURNS was there! Hell, read my blog earlier about BNAT for that little incident.
I'd heard of the series before, but I was never a fan of Halo and when a friend of mine tried to get me to watch it, I just wasn't interested at the time. One day, for whatever reason, I decided to download the episodes. And if it weren't for that, then Halo 3 wouldn't have been on my best video game list. I still wouldn't give a shit. The only reason I played Halo was so that I could hang out in Blood Gulch (though I still haven't played on that level yet...)Runner UpSweet Red Wine
I decided to try drinking wine for the first time in years. I knew I didn't like Merlot or dry white wines, but I love grape juice. I had more money than was good for me one day and decided to pick up a bottle of Zinfindel. It wasn't that bad at all.
But then, I went to Central Market and talked to the wine guy there. He told me to try this bottle of wine. All it said was "Sweet Table Wine" and the name of the winery. Oh. My. God. This stuff is insanely good. I cannot tell you enough how much I love it. It's grape juice...only with alcohol! Sure, two or three glasses is enough to give me a buzz and if I drink one bottle, I'm hammered...but fuck, that stuff's good...
, bad religion
, best of the year
, burn notice
, meat pie
, mustard plug
, red vs. blue
, rock band
, spider-man 3
, trick r treat
, video games
, white night