Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 in Superlatives

It's in vogue, of course, to bring in the New Year with superlatives of 2008. Most (whatever) Politician, the perennial favorite Most (whatever) Political Scandal, and new for 2008, the Most Historic Political (whatever). Politics are, of course, not the domain of Isoceleria, so I've come up with some some superlatives of my own that are more comfortable in the "marginal relevance" landscape.

Most Strike-Proof TV Show: Lost

The disastrous 2008 Writer's Strike left television as we know it in total disarray. Some of TV's best shows (eg, House) decided to push through it and run the episodes they'd planned on anyway. That left us anachronistically watching the Christmas episode in late January, and not really remembering who these roomful of fellowship candidates were in the first place. Some others (eg, Battlestar Galactica) just took a figurative cleaver to their seasons, with ten episodes now, ten later, and an implied Gallic shrug somewhere in the middle. Still others, like 24, washed their hands of 2008 completely, choosing instead to focus on the 2009 season. (It might have been odd to call it 11 for a season anyway.)

Not Lost, though. The show was coming into its fourth season with a renewed sense of purpose, with the mythical End Date only a few years off. Three seasons to introduce some more new wrinkles, kill off a few main characters, give the faithful plenty to speculate about, and finally wrap everything up. So Lost was already in a "cut the crap" mode, even before the strike hit. It was one of the few shows to make it out of the strike an even better show than before, mostly because the "streamline" mentality was already very much a part of the show's philosophy.

The V For Vendetta Memorial Award: The Dark Knight

The V for Vendetta Memorial Award is presented annually to the most over-rated film based on an existing comic book or graphic novel. Last year, it would have gone to 300, hands down. This year, none other than The Dark Knight takes home that prestigious award.

To reiterate, The Dark Knight was not a bad movie at all. The acting was mostly overdone, whatever attempts it had at philosophizing or "commenting on the human condition" were dime-store at best, and what should have been one of the most interesting character developments (Two-Face) felt rushed. But for those faults, this movie might have been able to live up to its hype, right?

Absolutely not. I'd heard so much about how wonderful this movie was--particularly Heath Ledger's performance in it--in the weeks and months leading up to my watching it that there was literally no way it could have been as good as everyone was saying. So this V for Vendetta Memorial Award is not so much for the low quality of the movie--because it wasn't a low quality movie--but more for the downright unrealistic expectations I had after two months of Dark Knight hysteria.

Best Three-Hour Board Game: Imperial

Imperial's not a new game, I don't think, but I played it for the first time this year. In the grand German tradition, here's a board game that takes no less than three hours to play, can only be played by three or more people (of course, six is preferred), and has absolutely no element of chance, just careful planning and reacting to what the rest of the players do. It's way more fun than it ought to be, and it's one of the best ways I know of to kill a sleety Sunday.

Best Wii Party Game With Innuendo Gestures: Mario Party 8

The Mario Party games are always a lot of fun for big gatherings; they succeed mostly in that you don't have to be good at Mario Party to enjoy Mario Party. There's no competitive cult that exists with most of the popular shooters, and let's face it--it's not nearly fun enough to play as a single player game that you might want to "practice".

As with any series of games, you're going to get some (unnecessarily) impassioned arguments about which game is the best. I've only played a few of them, so I'm a poor judge of that. I can say for certainty, though, that the eighth installment is clearly the most impressive when it comes to innuendo hand gestures, mostly because it involves the use of the Wiimote. Can anyone say "Shake it Up"?

Best Contribution to My Writing: Jacqueline Snedeker, Georgia Tech School of Chemical Engineering

If you read through earlier Isoceleria entries, you might notice a tendency of mine to start sentences with "this". I was swiftly and completely broken of this habit over the semester by Ms. Snedeker, who's the closest thing to an English teacher most Tech upperclassmen will ever have. "It's ambiguous," she assured me. "You don't know what the antecedent is." Too true, Ms. Snedeker. And I did it a lot, or used to, but I quickly got a lot better at not doing it. At one point, I even challenged her to find a sentence starting with "this" anywhere in my most recent lab report, to the tune of $20 if she could find one.

I kept my Jackson squarely in my wallet.

Best Place to Pretend to Be a Hipster: Starbucks in Tech Square

Though, I'm forced to admit, that Starbucks by Lake Lucerne and Starbucks in Athens and even Starbucks in Schererville, IN are close runners-up.

Currently listening: Metro Jazz Club, Live at the Aurora Theater

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