Tuesday, December 23, 2014

best of 2014

My 2014 looks a little like this:

Best album I heard:

Fevers: No Room for Light.  Hands down this was my most listened to album of the year.  No matter what my mood or location - there was a track to suit to the occasion.  Stand outs include: Autumn's Dead, The Veil, They don't lie, Look Alive

Runner up:

Weezer: Everything Will be Alright in the End.  I think "Go Away" is as good as anything Weezer has ever done (and it reminds me of their awesome collaboration with That Dog many years ago).  There are quite a few other great tracks on the album.  Long live Weeze!

Best Book I read:

Night film by Marisha Pessl.  I can't remember if I finished reading this last year or the beginning of this one - either way it's a great book.  I need to reread the whole thing because I can't stop wondering about 'steak tartare' - it would change everything if I found it.

Runner up:

The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma.  I think the real H.G Wells would have been flattered to find himself as the protagonist in this trilogy (this is book 2).  I love the mix of well researched historical fiction and fantastic off shoots from Wells' own books (time travel, martians, diverging times lines etc.).  I'm very much looking forward to seeing how this all wraps up.

Most disappointing book(s):

You by Austin Grossman - I loved Soon I Will Be Invincible but I don't think I had any heightened expectations for Grossman's latest release.  I was surprised to find a lot of typos and a few instances of really poor writing.  More importantly, the story was dull (even though it was about video games!), it lacked humour, fun and any reason to recommend it.

The Magician King -  Lev Austin (brother of Austin)  had a really good thing going in the Magicians.  The follow up wasn't as good but I was still really looking forward to the last book in the trilogy.  From the reviews I've read I think I may be in the minority of people who found this book disappointing.  M hasn't read it yet so I won't get into why I found it to be such a let down. 

Best Pod Cast:


The Moth- I don't think the truth is necessarily stranger than fiction - but it is as interesting.  There are very few stories that I don't retell M after hearing them.

Risk-  Same idea as The Moth - only no-subject is off limits.  As such, don't listen to this at work, in front of the kids, grandma (unless she's very, very liberal) or anywhere else people may be offended by course language and subject matter that covers all aspects of human experience.  

Runner Up:

Snap Judgement - Another non-fiction story telling podcast.  Unlike the previous two, these stories aren't told live (they are produced and edited).  However, that doesn't make them any less interesting.

Giant Bomb podcast: The hosts of this show are pretty funny and they talk about video games.  What's not to like?

Best video game:

Bayonetta 2 - There's nothing better than playing an action game with perfect controls.  You know that every mistake is yours and yours alone - which is what makes a perfect play through (of a stage in my case) all the more satisfying.

runner up: 

Fantasy Life - The perfect mix between Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon.  A great way to spend time commuting to and from where ever (on the bus or train)

Best employment experiences:

I had the very good fortune to work briefly with TakingITGlobal this year.  It definitely stands out as an amazing experience in general and getting the chance to go to Washington D.C to represent the organization was a real highlight.  As was participating in the Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness symposium.  My role was to act as a guide for a visually impaired gentleman from Jerusalem.  Here are a few things I observed:

  • Most elevators have brail on the floor request buttons.  That's super - but very few elevators announce the floor it has stopped on.  That pretty much undermines the brief moment of independence a visually impaired person may get when first stepping on.
  • Picture standing in front of buffet with your eyes closed - what would you pick?
  • I'm terrible at describing things.  When asked to describe downtown Toronto I said, "there are lots of tall buildings."  Some else said, "the buildings are made of glass."  This small but significant detail totally changed the way my companion viewed his surroundings.  He thought it was really funny and wondered why no one seemed worried the glass would break.
  • Shopping for anything is a challenge but jewelry for another man's wife is darn near impossible (especially when considering my previous point)
Best scone:

Lame category I know but the scones at Cafe Belong in the Evergreen Brick Works are pretty extraordinary.  Seriously if you're ever in the GTA be sure to check it out. 

Best person to spend a day (or a life) with

 I miss the north, but I missed M more when I was up there.  What's more, it's definitely much better to actually live with the person you're married to.  Thanks M, for being being the best partner a guy could ask for.  Whether we're travelling around in places foreign or familiar, making maple syrup explosions, trying to find a take out place that's still open late Friday night or just enjoying some down time after a hectic week - life if definitely better with you.

Runners up:

Betsy Louise Bagels

Furley Brown

Gracia Consuela

(drops mic, leaves stage)