It's that time of year again for the first time: the Cabel Yay! Awards are here. Not familiar with these never-before-seen important awards? These monumental declarations are an regionally-recognized merit of impactful excellentness — not just a way to gather up a bunch of loose miscellaneous thoughts into a single long blog post because I'm somehow seemingly incapable of writing short posts. I hope that you enjoy these awards, and this exciting look back at 2007, a truly magical year!
Best First Ten Minutes Of A Game: Bioshock
Has a game ever drawn you in as quickly? I actually felt like I was experiencing the best work Imagineering has ever done — except I was sitting in front of my television, not at Tokyo DisneySea. From the haunting and perfectly-compressed narration to the soaring and spine-tingling "reveal", no game has set a mood so thoroughly and so quickly.
Worst Last Ten Minutes of a Game: Bioshock
And then you fire, like, two rockets at a cyber-demon escapee from the world's worst 24 Hour Fitness to receive about 27 seconds of pre-rendered confusion. Note to game developers: add "Good Ending" to your Gantt Chart!
Best Desktop Picture You Can't Download: Mac & PC
Hooray to Laika (Portland represent!) for their awesome work on the Apple holiday commercial. But when super-talented character designer Shane Prigmore posted his illustration of "Mac & PC" to his blog, the long-time Apple-understander in me knew it might not last — and it didn't. (The good news? Naturally, I saved it before it was pulled — and you can download it right here — for now.)
Best Movie: Wall-E
I was going to say Children of Men, but I guess that came out last year. This is totally cheating, but as mentioned before on my blog, seeing the early rough cut of Wall-E was a moving-going experience without equal. I'll be the first in line to see how the movie ends up! (As a little postscript, I got a super awesome message from Andrew Stanton, director of Wall-E and Finding Nemo, shortly after writing about the screening, if you can believe it. I couldn't. Doesn't that say so much about why Pixar is Pixar, and why the Internet is the best thing of all times, ever?)
Best Thing Ever Of All Times, Ever: The Internet
I'm just sayin'.
Best Worst Name for a Postal Supplies Store: Goin' Postal
I always thought this was a crazy Oregon thing: I had no idea this was a national chain. How.. wow.
Best Thing Learned From Reading Convenience Store News: Tesco's Fresh & Easy
Tesco, popular British market and world's third largest retailer (!), just opened up their first store in America: Fresh & Easy. With 200 locations opening by the end of 2008 (!!), the c-stores are nervous about the impact. But I'm sure excited! I have fond memories of British markets, and actually-good frozen foods, like Trader Joes but without the terrible design. Have you been to one of these stores? Tell me about it! (And thanks to the staff of CSN who, for the purposes of my free trade subscription, think I work for "Panic 'n' Go", America's favorite convenience store. Just don't tell the guys who publish Pizza Today.)
Best "Whatever Happened To..." Website: SpyMac
Remember when SpyMac was famous for posting laughably fake Apple rumors, then they became some kind of weird .Mac-like service? Does anyone understand what the hell is going on over there now?
Best Apple Product for Fast Food Restaurants: Apple Monitor ///
Taken just a few weeks ago!
Best Television: Extras: The Extra Special Serials Finale
I'm almost not sure what to say: I've not seen a more biting, face-meltingly hilarious, pause-buttonly uncomfortable, and supremely well-acted end of a tv series before — let alone one that's a Christmas Special. — this is television that is better than movies.
Best $50 Panic Spends Every Month: MX Logic
Outsourced spam filtering? I love you, 2007. I used to spend a lot of time updating/adjusting SpamAssassin, but I'd still get a ton of spam. With MX Logic, I simply modified our DNS records to tell the world that MX Logic accepts our incoming mail. That's it. MX Logic now receives it all, analyzes it with much magic, then turns around and delivers to our (real) mail server only pre-filtered, 99.99% spam-free messages, piping hot. The best part? They work every day, or at least I like to imagine they do (in a big room like in War Games), to update their spam filtering to tackle the latest garbage — and I don't have to do a thing. Yay!
Best Packaging Redesign: Coca-Cola
Every time I see the new can, I cry. It took Cola-Balls: no extreme, bubbles, gradients. Just pure, clean, disturbingly brilliant.
Best 15-Year Miracle: rm *~
I've been using emacs, The UNIX Text Editor With The Beard™, for about fifteen years. (Addendumplug: less so since Coda came out!). And I can never remember how to turn off the automatic backup feature, which makes copies of your files while adding tildes at the end, leaving~ tilde~ files~ everywhere.html~. That means, for fifteen years now, I've been frequently typing rm *~, in all manner of important directories, to delete all the dumb backup files. Somehow, I've never once left off the ~ on accident, which would leave just rm *, which would delete all of my files. Every time I issue this command it feels like I've just been touched by an angel.
Best (As In Most-Fun) Last-Minute Design Project: Katamari Manual Back Page
If you picked up a copy of Beautiful Katamari for the Xbox 360, did you notice the ad for our Katamari T-Shirts on the back? Probably not! Anyway, we found out we could make this happen exactly one and a half days before the press deadline. That was some very high speed, but extremely enjoyable, Illustrator work! (I even got to employ the patented British "fake sticker" technique!)
Best Subway Sandwich: VegiMax
Hands down delicious and actually made of vegetables. It tastes like a Chinese-food sandwich! +Honey Mustard +Provolone
Best Portland Mercury Cover: September 13th
It was very cool to see a little piece of David Lanham (out of The Iconfactory) all around Portland!
Best Game You Wish You Were Playing Right Now: Peggle
You haven't yet caught extreme fever? To quote Alex Pasco: "Peggle is a sickness." It's available for the Mac. Play. Now.
Bonus Feature: Best Songs
Here are some of the songs that made the year for me. Want to preview a track? Click the little circles to play them! Or, scroll down to listen to all of the music at once, radio-style.
- Our Love Goes Deeper Than This Duke Special
A Neil Hannon guest-appearance lead me to this track, which I now, indeed, love deeply.
- All Right Jim Noir
Incredible. Any song with a head-bobbing drums and bass bomb-drop moment is fine by me.
- Everybody Wants A Little Something Duke Special
Duke Special led to more Duke Special, and I am profoundly jealous of this melody.
- I Only Want You + Happy / Fred Deakin's Triptych Promo 2
I might call Fred Deakin's Triptych mix my album of the year. This track, off a harder-to-find additional disc, is a killer battle between The Eagles of Death Metal and The Carpenters.
- It's Coming To Get You Yacht
I heard this "Jona" dude is secretly a 46-year-old Samoan — this "youthful" stuff is a crazy trick. Still, he certainly makes some hot tracks — but rarely with such searing lyrics as this one.
- Dancers on a String Garry Schyman
My favorite film score is a game? 2007! This Bioshock track is as moody as the scene it accompanied, the image of two paint-covered splicers silently waltzing now burned into my mind.
- Again & Again The Bird and The Bee
Can you tell I like a well-crafted pop-song?
- My World The Go! Team
An unusual but excellent song from The Go! Team, teleported from 1967.
- That's How You Know Alan Menken
I can't lie to you: I totally, deeply love a good musical number. Shut up. I don't care. (I also loved the movie this came from, "Enchanted". This won't end well, will it?)
- Wuthering Heights The Puppini Sisters
Kate Bush + 1940s style close-harmony girl group = musical gold
- Red Turned White Architecture in Helsinki
This is for the guys in the office, who suffer the shock of my .99 iTunes ringtone version of the middle break.
- Toxic Shawn Lee's Pingpong Orchestra
Sure, I'll say it: Toxic (as made famous by Britney Spears) is one of the greatest songs ever written. Shawn Lee must agree, because he's gone and brought the sitar.
- The Salmon Dance The Chemical Brothers
Learn fascinating facts about salmon, and dance a funky dance. It should be the official Oregon State Song!
- Mr. Bellamy Paul McCartney
Yes, I love every single song Paul McCartney has ever written. Even the weird Wings ones. This new track is no exception.
- Still Alive Jonathan Coulton
If you've played portal, you know. Had this song been even 5% awkward, the party would have been ruined. It wasn't.
That about wraps it up for 2007! Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for being a cool person (unless you're a jerk), and here's to 2008, which I'm 96% certain is going to be fantastic.