Typically, as a new year starts, website, media outlets and self righteous pundits the world over roll out their “best of” and “worst of” lists to try and validate all the screwed up reviews they’ve been shoveling all year. For example, Harry Potter, that festering boil of a movie series, got top billing in more than one category according to the voting at IMDB.com.
Computer Gaming World, PC Gamer and a few others put out their Top 10 game list. I disagree with most of them.
I of course have my own top ten in just about every category. I debated running down the whole thing, believing I had more realistic reviews than most, but I’ve decided to simply mention some really cool things from 2005. In no perticular order, without numbers, lists, and all that crap.
So, without the bull crap, I proudly present the first annual Matt’s Huge List of Stuff I Liked.
Black Cherry Vanilla Coke – Now I’m not the type of person to be into all those weird fruity drinks and definitely not a diet soda person, so I was skeptical that this would taste good. I have to say, I really like it. The cherry flavor is light and its the vanilla that finishes. Nice drink. Way to go Coke, this almost makes up for Diet Caffeine Free Coke with Lime. Officially this was launched this month, but it’s been here in “test market” form for a little while.
Good Night and Good Luck – My favorite movie of the year. Even though it was a pretty sad year movie wise, this one really impressed. Perfectly acted, beautifully filmed, just great. You can see my review here.
Melitta 1:1 coffee maker – Even though I got one of these single cup coffee late in 2005, I really enjoy the hell out of it. The coffee tastes great, there’s no “coffee pot” to clean, zero mess, easy as hell.
Adagio Teas – A new favorite website of mine. As an avid tea drinker (thanks to my mom) I really liked the quality and selection these guys had. Their tea pot/steeper is extremely handy. If you’re new to the world of tea, they have a great $24 starter kit in a variety of flavor combinations. The only tea to be endorsed by DiggNation.
SSX: On Tour – Some people didn’t think this latest entry into the series was as good as the last. I disagree. Its different, its less “crazy neon” and more hi-res “real” enviroments and I dig that. It also features skiers and not just boarders. The best of both worlds. Good soundtrack too, not what I was expecting (DJ Spooky, Jurassic 5 paired with Goldfinger and Pennywise and some DaftPunk thrown in for good measure, interesting mix). The menu design leaves a bit to be desired, it’s styled after “high school notebook doodles” (just look at the website to see what I mean) but its still the best skiing game to date.
Jade Empire – The best RPG I played last year. Its also the only RPG I played, but don’t hold that against it. How many RPGs are set in the ancient orient? Good concept, executed by a publisher (BioWare) that makes only the best (NWN, SW:KotoR, etc). Solid game.
King Kong – Another late 2005 entry to the list, but still a solid movie. Definitely the best “special effects” movie of the year. Not a bad movie story/acting wise either. Then again, you can’t really mess with the story of Kong, its a giant monkey for crying out loud.
How I Met Your Mother – My new favorite TV show. Neil Patrick Harris is absolutely hysterical. If you’ve seen his performance in Harold & Kumar you know what I’m talking about. The funniest thing to hit network TV in a long time.
Gray Goose – My beloved Gray Goose. Listen very carefully, this is the best vodka in the world. Period. It has the awards to prove it as well as the Matt Seal of Approval. Ok, ok, so it’s not exactly exclusive to 2005. It was however, my drink of choice during the year… so, there ya go. Loophole. Ha!
Battlefield 2 – You didn’t think I’d go a whole post without mentioning it did you. The defacto online game of the year. This is something me and the reviewers agree on.
Gun – How many western video games have you played? Including Desperados, this make only my 2nd ever. This is a trend that needs to continue. Westerns are an untapped genre. Shooting bad guys from horseback is so effing cool.
Bowling For Soup – Their album The Hangover You Didn’t Deserve spent more time in my CD player than anything else last year. A bunch of great tracks on this one. The rest of their albums aren’t half bad either. Worth checking out if you feel like some upbeat funny type of stuff.
Civ 4 – Pure goodness. I can’t actually find anything negative about this game. At all. It’s as addictive as all the others and the newly updated graphics are pretty sweet. I got the collectors edition and it sits proudly on my desk. When I’m not playing BF2, I’m trying to invade some foreign land thanks to good ol’ Sid.
The Da Vinci Code – This wasn’t a 2005 release either. I realize that. I held out as long as I could in reading it. I wasn’t going to read it simply because EVERYONE did back in 2004. My theory on books is that there are levels to readership. If a book makes the New York Times list, that’s a good indication that it might not suck. If a book breaks sales records and they hold midnight release parties for the next installment… or if it involves a boy wizard at all, well, then the scales just took a nose dive. A moderate level of readership is good. If everyone MUST read it, I avoid it like the plague. I must say, I was surprised by the Da Vinci code. There are still things that bother me about it. I feel parts of it are a little thin, but it was a fun read. As a reader of spy/mystery novels, this doesn’t even begin to approach the next thing on this list, but it’s worth reading if you haven’t and it was one of the better things I read last year.
The Janson Directive – Speaking of good books… it’s a huge shame the author pasted away. “Even after death, Robert Ludlum remains the master of the international spy caper” says Amazon. I agree. Great book.
The Ford Mustang – If I had a spare $30,000, I’d grab one in a heart beat. The Dodge Magnum was nice, the Dodge Charger was interesting, but the Mustang just ownz the road. Especially here in Ford Country (aka Texas). These things are not to be messed with. I don’t think I’ve seen a regular non-GT one down here. Most of them are the premium GT’s as well. I’ve even see quite a few suped up Saleen versions as well. I like the look. Definatly my “car of the year” if there is such a thing.
Konfabulator – It’s free, it’s sexy, and how fun is it to say “Widget”. I was worried that the Yahoo! purchase of Konfabulator would end badly. With the exception of the name change (Yahoo! Widgets? Come on.), making it free was the best thing Yahoo has ever done.
Digg – The definitive website of ’05. Grew from next to nothing to super player in the world of geek news. Is on track to out do SlashDot by the end of the year. Kevin Rose wins super points for this one. My homepage now… and that takes A LOT.
LifeHacker – My secret website. A cool little page that’s been around forever but really aims at the perfect target audience… namely me and people like me. Cool daily downloads. Articles that cover everything from Google exploits to hacking a Coke machine. These guys are great.
Taco Cabana – Good food, CRAZY fast. I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 30 seconds in the drive through. Beats the ever living snot out of Taco Bell, in both price and food. You get a burrito at TB and it looks like it’s got dog food in it. At Taco Cabana it’ll be rice, beans and fajita steak, all for like $0.75.
OLN – What do you get when you pick up 3/4 of the NHL season… my love and undying respect. Going from a channel that shows things like “Big Game Hunting with Bill” to showing me my beloved Bruins definitely earns them a few points in my book. Smart move on their part. Now, if only the Great Barry would switch teams…
AbstractMouse – Best FF Bookmark sync extension. Period. I’ve tried them all. This is simple, quick, free and automatic (if you set it that way). I’ve got all my bookmarks from home here at work and vice versa.
There’s a few things here in Houston I wanted to mention, but they’re so local there wouldn’t be much point. Hope you enjoyed the list. If you have any nominations for anything in ANY category that I might have missed, let me know.