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Best of 2008

16 Dec

Lists, lists, lists. Everyone doing ’em, so why not me? The 2007 list is here.

Best Record
Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
Well I can’t say I’ve been blown away by any one record this year, but Kings of Leon are making very good music. I actually think – shock, horror! – that there are some good pop records in the charts at the moment, too.

Best Film
The Dark Knight
Well it was the year of the comic book movie. We had Iron Man, Hulk, Hell Boy II and Wanted (and those are just the ones off the top of my head). I’d say that Dark Knight wins out with Iron Man a close second. I also enjoyed Burn After Reading.

Best TV Show
The Wire – Series 5
The Wire is simply the best television programme ever made. Period.

Best Book
I’ve read no new fiction this year. I spent most of my time reading old John le Carré books and Graham Greene. I’ll have to remedy this in ’09.

Best Podcast
This American Life
This is probably the choice that has caused me to ponder most, as I listen to oodles of podcasts. But This American Life has provided the most memorable and beautiful moments. Subscribe, if you haven’t already. Worthy mentions to The Collings and Herrin Podcast [sic], Sarcastic Gamer and Football Weekly.

Best Radio Show
Adam & Joe
Funny and creative. Brilliant, basically.

Best Video Game
Gears of War 2
It’s been another cracking year for gaming. GTA4 was outstanding, Far Cry 2 was a surprisingly deep game, and Left 4 Dead (which I get for XMAS) looks great. Nothing quite topped GOW2 though. It’s awesome. The art style is incredible. The level design spectacular. And the weapons rock. Epic.

Best Gadget
I haven’t got one. I can’t quite give up my BlackBerry (or switch to O2). However the app-store has made the iPhone a serious proposition. The utility of the device – theoretical and realised – is astonishing. I will get one, eventually.

Best App
I have adored this app all year. I have run GMail and Google Reader constantly using Fluid and it has made life much easier. I’ve also been mega-impressed with Skitch.

Best Political Blog
Chicken Yoghurt
Justin has simply rocked this year. One of the best writers in the medium. Sadie’s Tavern would be a worthy mention too.

Best Non-political Blog
This blog has made me – figuratively – piss myself all year.

Best Politician
Barack Obama

Best Newspaper
The Guardian
It better watch its back. The Guardian has lost its way a little this year. It’s still the best paper, though.

Best sportsperson
MS Dhoni
Finally, someone’s made a team out of the Indians. They’ve always had the talent (although the current team is pretty darn hot).


best of the year

18 Dec

Best of lists are part of Christmas. Well, seeing as I have the power to publish my own opinions, here are my topper picks for the year…

Best Record
The Killers – Sawdust
Ok, it’s a B-sides n rarities comp. But The Killers are simply so far ahead of anything else out there right now.

Best Film
The Bourne Ultimatum
A fantastic, pant-wetting finale to a brilliant trilogy. Paul Greengrass is the best director in the world right now. Period.

Best TV Show
South Park
Nothing is quite as smart or as funny (worthy mentions: QI and Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe were brilliant again this year).

Best Book
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Incomparable thrilling last book to a quite stunning series. Easly as good as the hype suggested.

Best Podcast
Guardian Unlimited’s Football Weekly.
This is exactly why MoTD is a waste of everyone’s time. Intelligent, witty, and much, much better than The Times’ Liverpool-obsessed effort. James Richardson is twice the presenter Lineker is (worthy mention: No Agenda with John C. Dvorak and Adam Curry).

Best Radio Show
Start the Week
Basically the Review section from the weekend’s broadsheets. With added Andrew Marr (worthy mention: Russell Brand).

Best Video Game
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Just, and I mean just ahead of Halo 3. The graphics and combat in COD4 are unmatched (worthy mention: other than Halo 3, I’d say Bioshock).

Best Gadget
XBOX 360
XBOX leads the way online. XBOX Live is unmatched, and the 360 offers far more quality games than either the Wii or PS3 (worthy mention: New iPod Nano – new form factor and new features. Now the true iPod classic).

Best App
Twitter is by-far the most enjoyable social networking site. It’s simple and genuinely co-operative. And I don’t agree with Dave Winer, simplicity is intrinsic to twitter’s appeal. Leave it alone.

Best Political Blog
A tricky one this, but septicisle’s analysis of the media – not to mention the abundant bile – is a joy to read (worthy mentions: Reading Mike Power is much better than scouring the net yourself. Mr. Eugenides still compels. And Ministry of Truth is still capable of brilliance).

Best Non-political Blog
Should be read everyday.

Best Politician
Alex Salmond
It’s hard not to admire the way the SNP leader has captured Holyrood. Even if he is an opportunist and a seditious git (worthy mentions: Vladimir Putin and David Cameron) (Note. this is not an endorsement).

Best Newspaper & Website
The Guardian
No other paper is quite as creative with formats and online offerings.

Best Magazine
Private Eye
Still completely essential (worthy mentions: The Week and Monocle).

Best sportsperson
Lewis Hamilton
I’m not into F1 at all. But you can’t argue – it was a phenomenal first year for the McClaren rookie (worthy mentions: Kaká, Kumar Sangakkara, and Christino Ronaldo were brilliant in 2007).

I may add to this list.

tyger, tyger

28 Nov

It is the 250-year anniversary of the birth the great[est] poet, William Blake. Blake has a certain resonance on this blog. Can you tell what it is yet?

The Tyger

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

norman mailer is dead

10 Nov

This blog is in mourning.

Mailer was one of the absolute titans of American Literature, and part of a generation that gave us Gore Vidal, Philip Roth, and the illusive Thomas Pynchon.

4 Sep

our own literary arctic monkey

26 Jun

Blogging friend Caroline, and her debut novel In Search of Adam, are doing very, very well.

Further proof of the power of blogging, ISoA has been promoted on the blogosphere. I can’t wait for my holiday, when I get chance to read it.

So, if you want to be in the know now, and find out why it’s getting such awesome reviews (rather than waiting for some Dan Brownesque media saturation), buy the book. What are you waiting for?

Recommended Reading | Charlie Brooker’s Monday

7 May

It’s Monday, so it’s Charlie Brooker’s Guardian column. This week our angry young man is judging Richard Littlejohn’s new book… by its cover.

Here’s the money quote (ha!): –

A noble effort. But it doesn’t work. I can’t help noticing Littlejohn’s picture, even when my eyes are looking elsewhere, because his face smells – or at any rate, I think it does. I can smell it in my brain. Even when it’s just a photo. It smells like someone breaking wind in a pair of cheap nylon trousers while eating a scotch egg in a hot car passing the Tilsworth Golf and Conference Centre on the A5 outside Dunstable. But worse.