BEST TV SHOWS OF 2007
More than any other category, this will reveal what a strange dude I am.
I'm still shocked at the bitterness over that ending. It was perfect. Come on.
2. Various live (or slightly tape delayed) UFC specials on Spike
The Fight Night specials, as always, have been a mixed bag, but we also got UFC 70 and 75, either of which were well worth $40
3. The Ultimate Fighter season 5
Rivals seasons 1 and 3. Needless to say, season 6 was a big disappointment in comparison. Maybe it's the odd numbered seasons which will be good. Another reason to anticipate Rampage vs. Forrest in season 7!
4. The Office
One of only two sitcoms I watch. The addition of Ed Helms was pretty smart, as was the decision to break up Dwight and Angela at the same time Pam and Jim got together.
5. Ninja Warrior
Read Greg Rucka's thoughts on the show, which basically mirror my own. Except I don't have any kids running around the apartment trying to imitate the show. We have, however, considered setting up a course for the cats. (Side note: Oh god, I had no idea how much G4 sucked until I started watching this show. I'd avoided the channel at all costs, but now I know what so many other people already know. Thankfully, we watch most episodes on sweet, sweet, DVR.)
6. The Colbert Report
Easily has eclipsed its parent show. Almost certainly will suck without striking writers.
7. WEC on Versus
Finally a (semi) high profile home for the lighter weight classes on American televison
8. 30 Rock
The other sitcom I watch.
9. Shin Chan
So glad to see new English-dubbed episodes.
10. America's Test Kitchen
Still the best cooking show on television.
BEST VIDEO GAMES
Uh, let me get back to you on that one. I still haven't played Lost Planet, Super Mario Galaxy, Assassin's Creed, or RE: The Umbrella Chronicles. And I just started Bioshock (I have, however, played enough to know that it's my pick for best game of 2007).
GAMES COMING OUT IN 2008 I'M MOST ANTICIPATING
1. Resident Evil 5 (yes, I know it's supposed to be coming out in 2009, but I'm really excited about it)
2. Grand Theft Auto 4
3. Fallout 3
4. Condemned 2
5. Silent Hill 5
6. Alone in the Dark
7. Alan Wake (assuming it's still happening)
8. Dead Space
9. Gears of War 2
10. Whatever the new Shin Megami Tensei game for PS3 is supposed to be--I'd probably even buy a PS3 just to play it
MY FAVORITE FIGHTS OF 2007I've scaled down my viewing of Japanese mid-majors (Shooto, DEEP, etc.), so bear that in mind. Also bear in mind that I saw most of the big EXC cards and found nothing especially compelling on them. I mean, they were worth watching, but maybe not worth watching twice.
1. Tyson Griffin vs. Frankie Edgar, UFC 67
An incredible back-and-forth fight with a little bit of everything. Would be in the top 10 just for the furious position wars on the ground alone.
2. Tyson Griffin vs. Thiago Tavares, UFC 76
Basically the same as the above, except I thought that things slowed down a little in the third round.
3. Roger Huerta vs. Clay Guida, Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale
A great, dramatic fight with two very skilled, very game opponents. A rare combination of nonstop action and memorable finish.
4. Takanori Gomi vs. Nick Diaz, Pride 33
Very similar to Huerta-Guida, except that Gomi looked like a bum in the last couple of minutes of the fight.
5. Tyson Griffin vs. Clay Guida, UFC 72
Another great fight from two great fighters.
6. Dan Henderson vs. Quinton Jackson, UFC 75
Possibly a little boring for casual fans, but this was a great positional chess match. A very impressive win for Jackson, who beat an Olympic wrestler at his own game.
7. Spencer Fisher vs. Sam Stout, UFC Fight Night 10
The best standup battle of the year. These two beat the hell out of each other for three rounds, but it never descended into toughman contest territory.
8. Jason Miller vs. Hiromitsu Miura, WEC 27
A largely unforgotten but very entertaining fight. Miura is one tough dude.
9. Leonard Garcia vs. Roger Huerta, UFC 69
Not an especially technical fight, but Garcia's got a ton of heart. That didn't help him win, but it did make for a great fight.
10. Jon Koppenhaver vs. Jared Rollins, Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale
A real war, and maybe the bloodiest UFC fight of the year. Great finish.
MOST DISAPPOINTING FIGHTS OF 2007
1. Josh Koscheck vs. Diego Sanchez, UFC 69
A very smart fight for Koscheck, a very revealing fight for Sanchez, a very boring fight for anyone with a pulse.
2. Phil Baroni vs. Frank Shamrock, Strikeforce-EXC: Shamrock vs. Baroni
Baroni fought like a dead man. Complete, sloppy domination from Shamrock, who seemed to be playing to the crowd at least half the time.
3. Manny Gamburyan vs. Nate Diaz, Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale
Gamburyan's injury robbed us of a good fight with a lot at stake. Nobody's fault, but still disappointing.
4. Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz, UFC 73
After improving his image with impressive wins over Sean Salmon and Jason Lambert, Evans was totally ineffectual for the first half of this fight. Then Tito cheated to win, except he was deducted a point. That led to a draw, and the promise of a rematch. Please, Dana White and Joe Silva, break that promise. No one needs to see a rematch of this fight.
5. Karo Parisyan vs. Ryo Chonan, UFC 78
Not all that bad, really, but I was expecting a whole lot more for this Pride vs. UFC battle. I really thought that Chonan would benefit from fighting at 170 lbs., but he was easily overpowered by Parisyan.
6. Rich Franklin vs. Yushin Okami, UFC 72
Dull, dull, dull. Franklin fought not to lose for two rounds, then Okami suddenly remembered that he was in a fight. Last round was better, but frustrating; Okami revealed that he might have had the tools to beat Franklin if he'd worked harder in the first two rounds. Franklin came out of this looking completely incapable of beating Anderson Silva. This was, in fact, the case when the two fought later in the year.
7. Heath Herring vs. Jake O'Brien, UFC Fight Night 8
Herring looked terrible, O'Brien looked scared to engage on the ground. Seems especially pointless in retrospect, since O'Brien's subsequent injury problems will keep him from fighting well into next year.
8. Tim Sylvia vs. Brandon Vera, UFC 77
Typical plodding Sylvia, but many of us had high hopes for Vera. If nothing else, we thought, he'd at least get himself knocked out. Instead, Vera broke his hand and let Sylvia grind him against the cage for three rounds.
9. Michael Bisping vs. Rashad Evans, UFC 78
Less boring than the Evans-Ortiz fight, but still pretty boring.
10. Alvin Robinson vs. Jorge Gurgel, UFC 77
I don't particularly need to see Gurgel ever again.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR1. Quinton Jackson
Finally seems to have put it all together, with strong showings against Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson. Also united the Pride and UFC 205 lb. titles. Light heavyweight is as stacked a division as any in MMA, but it's still hard to imagine anyone unseating him next year.
2. Anderson Silva
Looked utterly unstoppable in 2007. As the middleweight division suffers worldwide (what with Paulo Fihlo's weak showing against Chael Sonnen, Denis Kang's loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Matt Lindland's inactivity at that weight), Silva's stature only grows.
3. Randy Couture
Did the unthinkable by becoming the heavyweight champ at the age of 44. I'd rank him higher if I thought he could beat an uninjured Sylvia.
4. Gesias Calvancante
Won his second consecutive K1 Heroes lightweight tournament this year. Only the second person ever to beat Vitor Ribeiro, and the first to do so in three years.
5. Rameau Sokoudjou
Completely unheralded fighter demolished two top 10 light heavyweights in the course of two months. Has been inactive since then, so it's unclear if he's the real deal or if he's just been lucky. A fight against undefeated Ryoto Machida should resolve this conundrum.
6. Frankie Edgar
Tore through the UFC's lightweight divison, beating bigger and more experienced fighters along the way. One half of 2007's fight of the year (vs. Tyson Griffin).
7. Forrest Griffin
Did what nearly everyone (including myself) thought was impossible by beating consensus #1 light heavyweight Mauricio Rua. Has also developed into one of the great ambassadors for the sport, coming off as funny, articulate, and charmingly self-deprecating in mainstream interviews.
8. Urijah Faber
The most dominant featherweight in America easily bested all opponents in 2007. Hopefully we'll see him take on some of the top featherweights in the world (ie, dudes from Japan) next year.
9. Dan Henderson
After a lackluster 2006, Henderson beat Wanderlei Silva for the Pride title, despite giving up a lot of size. He then gave Quinton Jackson (an even bigger man) all he could handle in a losing effort later in the year. His upcoming match with Anderson Silva might be the most anticipated fight of 2008.
10. Matt Serra
In a year full of shocking upsets, his win over George St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight title might have dropped the most jaws. Serra was also an entertaining and sympathetic figure on the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter. His year ended on a very downbeat note, however, when he had to pull out of a much-anticipated title fight with Matt Hughes due to back injury.
Honorable mention: Robbie Lawler
He regained the ICON middleweight title against a rejuvenated Frank Trigg, then beat Strikeforce MW champ Murilo Rua. It's time to see how he'll do against better competition.
FIGHTERS WHO HAD THE WORST 20071. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic
Rarely has a fighter gone from monster to chump so quickly. We all thought Cro Cop would run roughshod through UFC's heavyweight division, but he's struggled badly.
2. Chuck Liddell
If we're talking about mainstream perception, no one has lost bigger than Liddell in 2007. But people have been predicting his decline for years, and he's kind of an old dude.
3. Diego Sanchez
Diego was one of the most electrifying fighters of 2006, but he slipped badly this year. Maybe the rumored move to 155 lbs. is the answer.
4. Joachim Hansen
He sat out most of the year in a contract dispute with UFC, only to lose in Shooto once he returned to action. He's a long way off from his magical 2005.
5. Rashad Evans
Went 2-0-1 this year, but really hurt his public standing with two consecutive stinkfests against Tito Ortiz and Michael Bisping. Looked like a contender in 2006, but he looked like an also-ran this year. Another TUF alum who should consider dropping down to a different weight division.
FIGHTERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN 20081. Thiago Silva
Has looked the best of all the ex-Chuteboxe fighters in UFC, partly because he's actually big enough for his weight class (light heavyweight). Looked awesome against Houston Alexander; seems to have a complete game.
2. Tyson Griffin
Ranked this high partly because he always puts on an incredible show. But his tireless scrambling, excellent BJJ, and tough chin should give him the wins to go with the FOTYCs.
3. The winner of Ryoto Machida vs. Rameau Sokoudjou
A classic match--the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object. Machida fights in a very conservative style, one intended to keep him out of danger. That's harder to do than one might guess. Sokoudjou, however, has looked like an absolute buzzsaw so far in his career, running right through Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. I suspect Machida will win, but I hope he doesn't.
4. Jon Fitch
No longer a sleeper after his win over Diego Sanchez, Fitch will shoulder great expectations in 2008. A fight with Karo Parisyan seems inevitable, as does a title shot if he wins (assuming, of course, that the UFC welterweight title gets straightened out anytime soon).
5. Joe Lauzon
After a disappointing loss in the semis of TUF 5, Lauzon looks to remind everyone that he was the odds-on favorite to win the competition going in. A relocation to Hawaii to train with BJ Penn hints at even better things to come.
6. Jens Pulver
Lauzon made his name by beating Pulver, who then went on to lose to Penn. A move to featherweight seems to be just what Pulver needed, though, given his dominant performance against the talented Cub Swanson. A title fight against Urijah Faber should be the most anticipated match in WEC history.
7. Ricardo Almeida
After a few years of inactivity, Almeida should make a big splash upon his return to MMA in 2008. He holds wins over a number of credible opponents (including Ryo Chonan, Kazuo Misaki, and Nate Marquardt). Hopefully he'll inject some much-needed excitement into UFC's beleaguered middleweight division.
8. Thales Leites
Another middleweight who UFC hopes will make a splash in the division next year. He was mediocre in his debut fight against Martin Kampmann, but he's won three in a row since. Perhaps he, Almeida, and Demain Maia will turn the 185 lb. weight class into a grappler's division in 2008.
9. Brock Lesnar
He's a total question mark going into his UFC debut against Frank Mir, but there's reason to hope that Lesnar will add some spark to the heavyweight division. His wrestling credentials are impeccable, and his ground and pound is rumored to be off-the-charts. Now all he needs is to work on his submissions and standup. But that's only 2/3 of the game, right?
10. Shinya Aoki
Only ranked this low because everyone who's seen him knows how great a fighter he is. He's been inactive for most of 2007, and he has a tough test on New Year's Eve against Gesias "JZ" Calvacante. (Or maybe not.) But he was the most exciting fighter of 2006, and hopefully we'll see him in more prominent fights in 2008.
BEST MOVIES OF 2007Oh man, I think I only saw like four new movies last year, and one of them was 300. Pass.
ALBUMS OF 2007On the other hand, I think I heard exactly one new album in the last year--the new one by Dinosaur Jr. (Quick review: the opening track is really strong, deserving a space alongside "In a Jar" or "Freak Scene." The rest I can't remember.) I guess I still need to check out the new Dillinger Escape Plan record, but I'm not sure if two items constitute a list. So there's no point in this pathetic antiquarian telling you what he thought the best albums of 2007 were. I can, however, tell you which albums I probably listened to the most in 2007 (listed in no particular order):
1. Pretty Things-Parachute
Probably my favorite psychedelic record. Much better than the more heralded SF Sorrow.
2. Neil Young-On the Beach
Kind of like Young's delayed reaction to the death of the hippie era, with ruminations on his own career, Charles Manson, etc. Right now I like it better than Tonight's the Night.
3. Faces-Ooh La La
It's the melancholy quality of this record that sets it apart from the rest of the band's oeuvre. Key track: "My Fault."
4. Kinks-Lola vs. Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One
Not the best Kinks album, but it's the one I listened to most in 2007. Interesting to see Wes Anderson using two of my favorite tracks from it so prominently in his last movie. "This Time Tomorrow" might be the most underrated song in the Kinks' catalogue.
5. T Rex-Electric Warrior
What I like best about this record is that touch of sadness, most obvious on "Cosmic Dancer." I really need that from my music these days.
6. Mott the Hoople-Mott
And of course, this is like the ultimate tearjerker glam rock album. Even the good time tracks ("Honaloochie Boogie," "All the Way to Memphis") have a healthy serving of despair.
7. Pink Fairies-Kings of Oblivion
A good album that I probably wouldn't listen to quite as often if "I Wish I Was a Girl" wasn't so mindblowingly great.
8. Rudimentary Peni-Cacophony
I wrote a big long piece on this album here.
I don't like many of their contemporaries, and I don't listen to much 90s rock at all, but this album has really held up.
10. Neil Young-Chrome Dreams
A bootleg which attempts to reconstruct an album Young scrapped at the last minute. Lots of great stuff on this, including unreleased tracks and songs which I tend to forget about because I don't listen to the albums they ended up on very often ("Will to Love" being a good example).
MY FAVORITE INGREDIENTS OF 2007
It's going to be hard to unseat the long-reigning champ in 2008.
I'm a vegetarian, guys.
Hint for making vegetarian chili--you need a lot of tomatoes to balance the flavor of the beans.
4. Parmesan cheese
More and more, this is my favorite cheese.
Only in the last year or two have I discovered the versatility of carrots. They go well with all manner of stir-fried dishes.
Always loved onions.
With October comes the death of my basil plants. Maybe next year we'll be living somewhere with a climate warm enough to support a longer herb growing season.
8. Olive Oil
Can't get by without it.
9. Corn tortillas
A word of advice here--don't buy Azteca corn tortillas (I have no problem with their flour tortillas). The grocery store was out of my usual brand and I grabbed a pack of them for enchilada-making purposes. They basically dissolved in the sauce, leaving me with a baking dish full of melted cheese. Yuck.
Possibly the most underrated of vegetables. Celery adds a nice, subtle flavor to all kinds of food. I especially like it in soup.
100 MOST USEFUL WORDS FOR BLOGGING ABOUT COMICS IN 2007
28. Deus Ex Machina
100. Atomic vampire