2004 Favorites: Part IV – Video Games

2004 was a year of greatness in video games. Unfortunately, it all came crammed in right at the end of the year, and I have no time to play them all… Here’s my favs, classified for no apparent reason:

Action game of the year: Halo 2 – Duh. 🙂 Despite the cliffhanger ‘ending’ and a few other minor problems, Halo 2 is still the best game I’ve ever played. Think about that. Ever. Even handicapped, Halo 2 blows everything else out of the water. Granted, it merges in my head with the whole ILoveBees phenomenon. But still. Halo 2 actually lived up to 95% of the hype it had going, which is worth an award by itself.

RPG of the year: The Bard’s Tale – I’ve commented on this game before. I’m still playing through the quest, but the novel magic and party system are really well executed. And any game that gives you bonus points for being ‘snarky’ in the right situation is A-OK by me.

RPG I haven’t had time to fully play yet of the year: Star Wars – Knights of the Old Republic II – I’ve played the first couple hours and liked what I saw. After I finish The Bard’s Tale it’s next up for serious play time. I beat KOTOR 1 in about a week, and killed Brian’s Xbox in the process. Hoping to avoid that this time around.

Bizarre game of the year: Donkey Konga – Picture DDR. With BONGOS! You play along with Donkey Kong on screen and try to match the rhythms. There’s a decent selection of recognizable songs, and getting a group together to play it is an unparalled experience.

Game I really want to play of the year: Call of Duty: Finest Hour – What can I say? I’m a sucker for WWII first person shooters, and this looks like a great one. I’d almost buy it for Michael Giacchino‘s music alone.

Today Brandon informed me that Metal Gear Solid 3 has a mode that centers around hunting cartoonish monkeys. If i had a PS2 I’d check it out for that alone.

I’ve written way too much tonight. I may not post for the next couple days, as I’ve got many people coming into town for New Year’s. Gonna be a blast! But stay tuned, I’ve still got TV and tech wrapup entries in me yet.

And now – packing.

2004 Favorites: Part III – Music

This is going to be a far from inclusive list. Plus, I’m only including full albums that rocked. I’m not counting singles or individual tracks that I really liked. Might list a few of those at the end.

First up, a tie for Album of the Year.

  • William Shatner – Has Been – Laugh if you must. The album is at times hilarious, touching, and insightful. And always very listenable. Shatner hams it up at points, and I’m glad to see that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. I expected every track to be along the so-bad-its-good lines of his covers of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, or Rocketman, and was pleasantly surprised.
  • The Killers – Hot Fuss – One of the few albums I can listen too from first to last, and enjoy everything in between. Not a bad track in the bunch. Catchy choruses and great riffs.

Honorable mentions:

  • Bubba Ho-Tep soundtrack – One of the best cinematic scores I’ve heard in years. There’s a definite western riff to it, and the lone guitar theme still haunts my dreams. I treasure my autographed copy. Apparently quite hard to come by now.
  • RJD2 – Since We Last Spoke – I heard the title track on WBER over the summer and was instantly hooked. Solid techno/hip-hop.

Those are the new in ’04 albums that rocked my world this year. Other music I discovered, but might not have been put out this year includes:
Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, No Doubt – The Singles, Splashdown (more on them in a feature post eventually), The Decemberists (particularly Billy Liar), Offspring, Bad Religion, and others.

2004 Favorites: Part II – Movies

I’m having a hard time narrowing down films I saw to just one favorite. Plus, I have yet to watch The Live Aquatic, and from what I hear it could be a real contender. I still need to see Team America as well. So now, in simple no-particular-order list form, movies I really enjoyed this year:

  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – I’m a sucker for art deco and old school pulps. Worth watching as a visual accomplishment alone.
  • Spider-Man 2 – Best comic book movie of the decade thus far.
  • The Incredibles – Pixar hasn’t let me down yet. Pure fun from start to finish.
  • Bubba Ho-Tep – I still need to buy this on DVD. Only Bruce Campbell could pull off a geriatric Elvis fighting a mummy and still make the movie heartwarming.

Yeah that turned out shorter than I expected. My memory really stinks. If anybody else remembers movies I saw and liked, please let me know…

I did see Oceans 12 tonight. Frankly, a bizarre movie. Fun to watch, but… well… bizarre again is the only word. Julia Roberts as a character as Julia Roberts meeting Bruce Willis as himself. My head asplode. Oceans 11 was far superior.

2004 Favorites: Part I – Comics

This is the first in a series of entries I’ll be making today, tomorrow, and beyond. 2004 gave me a lot of enjoyment in the areas of technology and entertainment. I thought it’d be nice to salute a few of them.

In case you don’t realize it by now, I read comic books. Contrary to widespread belief, it’s not all burly men in tights beating each other up. I enjoy a good Batman book as much as the next guy, but variety is the spice of life.

Without a doubt, my favorite new comic that I started reading this year is Losers. It debuted in 2003, but I’m a late adopter once again.

My favorite summary of the concept, from a review: “Losers is The A-Team, only, you know, not retarded.” It’s pretty apt really. Losers is an action movie distilled down to it’s finest moments, but not at the expense of characterization or plot. The titular losers are an elite covert ops CIA squad. The government (as it does from time to time in stories like this) screws them over and thinks them dead. Now they’re out to clear their name and bring down the mysterious ‘Max’ who masterminded their screwing.

Andy Diggle writes, and the singular named Jock provides wonderful stylistic art. Issues 1-6 and 7-12 are collected for sale very affordably on Amazon, and #19 just hit the newsstands.

It’s light fare overall, but it’s just so fun to read that I can’t resist the siren’s call.

Other comics i particularly enjoyed this year:

  • Y: The Last Man – Yorick is the last man on Earth after a plague kills all other males. And no, it’s not the wish fulfillment fantasy you might expect. Link.
  • Astonishing X-Men – Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame turns his writing chops on a New Classic X-men book. Link.
  • Ex Machina – A close second for my favorite of the year. The world’s only super hero runs for mayor of NYC as an independant… and wins. Politics combined with flashback super-heroics brilliantly. Set often against a backdrop of fallout from Sept. 11th. Link.

Gotta cut myself off here, I could go on forever. Tomorrow, on to either movies, TV, or books. Then at some point I’ll round up the greatest tech additions to my life this year.

21 Mo’ Tenors?

This week the library I work at during school breaks received a package of CDs as settlement from a class action lawsuit against the RIAA (they who famously sue music downloaders constantly) earlier this year. I myself received a check for $13 and change from the deal. But the bulk of the settlement was to be paid out in ‘donations’ to libraries of CDs.

Unfortunately, the RIAA apparently used it as a dumping ground for what wasn’t selling. Does a medium size suburban public library really need 7 copies of 3 Mo’ Tenors? Or 6 of the Doo Wop II box set? The list goes on… dozens were Spanish CDs for example. Obscure titles and artists (often in multiple copies) made up roughly 75% of the hundreds of CDs. Granted there were a few that patrons could conceivably want to check out (Will Smith, Jessica Simpson, etc), but even those were few and far between. And also don’t appeal to the whole demographic of our patrons. And no library has enough shelf space to stock 7 or more copies of an obscure CD wanted by a very small prospective portion of patrons. Ooh, alliteration!

And most of the usable ones were ‘cut’ with a notch in the top of the case. I’m told this means they were intended as promo CDs and not for sale. So the libraries apparently got what the RIAA couldn’t even give away…

Not that I would expect it to happen, but how great would it have been for the RIAA to let libraries have a say in what they got? A list to pick from at least? The goodwill from such a venture could have been amazing.

I can just picture some RIAA exec cackling madly and rubbing his hands while packing these boxes… another victory for The Man.

And this isn’t an isolated incident of a frankly bizarre shipping manifest. It’s been going on since at least June, when I remember seeing this article on MSN.

The librarians in charge of this area salvaged what they could, while the rest will be dumped in the book sale next summer. Perhaps some good can come of it after all.


The first 24 minutes of the season premiere of 24 have appeared online somehow. I think they might be from the Season 3 DVDs, but don’t quote me on it. I won’t say where to find it, but if you’re smart…

Anyway, I’m excited. 7 months with no new episodes makes Chad go something something…

A bit of Christmas loot…

Belated Merry Christmas!

I do this self-servingly. If I make clear my interests I’m more likely to attract like-minded readers. 🙂

Got some very nice gifts from some very nice people. Here’s a list of some that come to mind:

  • Looney Tunes Golden Collection v.2 DVD box set
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (Xbox)
  • Apollo 13
  • The Dave Barry 2005 Desk Calendar
  • Subscription renewal to Analog Science Fiction and Fact
  • Warm feather down blanket (stupid drafty Oakland apartment…)

Saw one side of the family today for the first time in ages. Grand fun all around. Tomorrow it’s off to the other side.
Probably will toss in a Christmas experience roundup entry tomorrow night.

I also received the Queen & Country novel “A Gentleman’s Game”, by Greg Rucka.
And a gift certificate to Dave & Busters! Perhaps the perfect gift 🙂


http://www.robinsloan.com/epic/ is a perfect example of the wonderful short form fiction possible only on the internet.

Not only that, but it’s interesting social commentary too. The flash movie has been deconstructed to death on a number of other blogs, so I’ll keep commentary to a minimum. But it brings up interesting issues of blogging ethics and responsibility.

What if the semantic web really does become a reality? Toss in blogging as an issue, stir, bake, and see what you get. Be careful what you wish for.

But it’s not all bad. There’s a grey mix of plusses and minuses at play in the ending of the clip that just reinforces the potential reality of the situation to me.

Either that or skynet has found a whole new way to build itself…