I realize Jon may have beat me to it by a bit (we’ll just chalk that up to the time difference ;D), but I figured I would throw this out there anyway. It’s been a good year to have ears and eyes, so here is a brief celebration of the best of what the year had to offer. These are just from my point of view… so if you don’t like what I like, politely piss off, especially the asshole who felt the need to break into my car. Ah, such a cheery season:
There were a lot of good films this year, and a few promising stragglers to come in the next couple weeks before 2004 comes to a close like The Life Aquatic, but only a select few rose above.
- Return of the King Extended Edition - I know this just came out on DVD, but it is the last part of the trilogy, and I have been waiting for it a damn year for it. Like the previous two extended editions, this one come with plenty of bonus material you will be watching when you should be at your desk figuring out how to maintain the roof over your head.
- Shaun of the Dead - Refreshing as hell, and hilarious to boot. Great, smart writing, and manages to breath new life (!) into the overpopulated zombie genre.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, still a winning combination. Jim Carey can be so good when he wants to.
- The Incredibles - Pixar does a great job of making the other animation houses look bad. I don’t care what you say, Shrek was a miserable piece of shit, and probably only a smidge better than Shrek 2.
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Modern pulp film fully realized. Beautiful eye-candy and a surprisingly good story to boot.
- Funeral by The Arcade Fire - I still can’t get this album out of my head. The live show doesn’t help with that either. These guys made a big splash this year,
- Antics by Interpol - Sophomore slump? Thankfully, no. Antics delivers just as much rock as Turn on the Bright Lights.
- The Empire Strikes First by Bad Religion - Whoa! Where the hell did this come from? Bad Religion hasn’t had a decent album in years. Empire is a bit rough around the edges, but when it’s good, it’s really good.
- Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron and WIne - Sean Beam can sing me anything. I will buy it.
- Shake the Sheets by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - This guy just keeps ticking, and this album is solid the whole damn way through.
- The Futureheads by The Furtureheads - This is a new one (to me), but it really speaks to The Jam fan in me.
I don’t read much that’s new, leaning more towards old design and fiction books, so this part is a bit short.
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - A long read, at least for those of us with short attention spans, but a very rewarding one. It’s NOT Harry Potter for adults, that is the result of reviewers trying to quickly label it. But it is a very engrossing tale of old English magic, full of beautifully written language and interesting characters.
- McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Issue 13 edited by Chris Ware - Chris Ware is perpetually more talented that 3 or 4 incredible artists and equally as self-defeating. This book is worth the cover price for the cover itself. Luckily, there are 263 more incredible pages they throw in for free.
- The Learners by Chip Kidd - Chip Kidd’s very promising start (though not really a book yet, but an online novella) to the followup of his first book The Cheese Monkeys.
- Eightball by Daniel Clowes - Sporadically released, but always well worth the wait.
From the web
- Coudal Partners - The best redesign of the year. The best site of the year. Pound for pound, the most content bang for your buck. And they are damn fine designers to boot.
- Dooce - I don’t have female bodily functions. I don’t have a newborn baby daughter. Dooce is still one of the personal and honest reads around.
- JK Rowling - I usually hate this much content crammed into a Flash site, but JK Rowling’s site sings with personality and imaginative features for fans young and old.
- The photography of Marshall Sokoloff - Damn those are some great photographs.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship comics - morbid and ironic hilarity!
I know I don’t own a billion game systems anymore (I also just sold my Game Cube) and there are a lot of cool games out now, so this is a short list. I often wind up playing old NES games on my Mac when I am bored anyway.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - When I am not sitting at my computer working, this is where I can be found. Rockstar just keeps cramming more and more goodness into their GTA line, making it one of the most emblematic and stylish game franchises around.
Yeah, I know, it’s self-indulgent, but so is having a personal site. I am starting to get more comfortable with this whole writing thing.
- What’s In a Name? - Wow, the conversation that followed was this site’s longest and it even stayed on topic!
- October Edition - This is the type of stuff I love doing from time to time, and it made me so happy this year, especially how many others replicated it!
- The Cornell House - It may only be me, but these are some of my most favorite photos I’ve taken.
- Grey Box Methodology - I still like what this article has to say because I do this every time I design a site.
There you have it! 2004 is nearly at an end, and so am I dear reader. I will be leaving in about 10 days for a week in the old country, but I will pop in once or twice more before then.