Mon, 03 Jan 2005

Not A Top Ten of 2004 List

Normally I'd post my top 10 records of the year here, but 2004 was really funny for me and I can't say I've heard enough new music in the last 12 months to do a list that would mean anything. Instead, I'm going to list seven things that really made 2004 enjoyable.

  1. Mom: Yeah, I know this is pretty corny, but Mom came through for me so many times and in so many ways for me this year that she has to take the top slot, without a doubt.
  2. Smile - Brian Wilson: There is no way that this should have even been listenable. After all, he's been releasing atrocious solo records for years, and this, his Great Unfinished White Whale, had been, quite literally, a psychic drag upon him for decades. I'd been one of the Smile semi-obsessives for a while. After belatedly falling in love with Pet Sounds in the 90s, the idea that there was another album-length recording at that level of quality floating around in a fragmentary state (on Decameron, on Napoleon, on Answered Prayers...) in Capitol's vaults was fascinating to me. I collected various bootleg MP3s of half-finished backing tracks, guide vocals, orchestral snippets, and the like, along with the handful of completed tracks that had dribbled out officially over the years, and like a lot of other folks, I had my own personal Smile boot assembled. Would this have "changed the musical world" if it had been released, as planned, months before "Sgt. Pepper's"? It's impossible to say, of course. It would have been amazing to have this with Brian and Carl's (and yes, even, I daresay, Mike (Shudder) Love's) voices singing along these wonderful, inventive arrangements during their prime vocal years, but at this point we'll take what we can get, and what we got was pretty special all around.
  3. World of Warcraft - Blizzard Entertainment: I managed to avoid the MMORPG thing for years. I knew the very nature of the things meant that I would be susceptible to them given half a chance. Being a Mac guy has helped -- the vast majority never make it to the platform. Blizzard, though... uh oh, these guys like to ship the Mac versions of their games day and date with the Windows versions. They also make beautiful games, polished, playable games that are fun, fun to their very core. This could get very ugly...
  4. Da Vinci's Inquest - I guess this brilliant Canadian ensemble drama has been on the air for 7 years or something, but I just started watching this season. It's totally great -- imagine NYPD Blue with a little residual Quincy DNA and a lead actor who's raised cranky-yet-endearing to an artform.
  5. del.icio.us and Flickr : You know that guy at the office, the one who's always trying just a little too hard to be your friend? Most "social networking" sites remind me of that. They try to force the issue. What Flickr and del.icio.us get right is that the social nature of the software is a side effect of the software's ingenious construction. Unlike a Friendster or an Orkut, you don't build great goofy clouds of contacts and then rank them, like ice cream flavors or something. You do something fun -- you show off your pictures, share your links, give them clever keywords so other people can find them, and -- the social bit takes care of itself. Your friends find you, find your pictures, subscribe to feeds of all the arcane trivia you've surfed over this week, all without the venture-capital-trying-to-find-an-exit-stategy flop sweat that pours off the Friendsters and Linked-Ins of the world.
  6. Markdown I've found it so very useful.
  7. Growing pervasiveness of WiFi : A confession -- I hate mobile phones. Hate them hate them hate them. I hate the telephone generally: it's an interruption-based medium and, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm a complete bastard when I'm interrupted. Anyway, when I'm out and about in the world, the last thing in the world I want is to be instantly and remotely touchable by world and dog. Give me asynchronous communication (email, voicemail, etc.) anytime. That's why I love pervasive WiFi so much. It preserves the async nature of email, syndicated feeds, and websites, but ups their sync rate -- if I can keep an eye on my inbox once an hour instead of twice a day, it gives me that much more of a credible excuse for not toting around one of those godforsaken Nokia coyote legtraps... excuse me, mobile phones.

:: 10:54
:: /currentevents | [+]
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— Sri Aurobindo