Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best of 2007--everything but comics


More than any other category, this will reveal what a strange dude I am.

1. Sopranos
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.


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).


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


I'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.


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.


1. 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.


1. 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.


1. 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.

Oh man, I think I only saw like four new movies last year, and one of them was 300. Pass.

On 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.
9. Leatherface-Mush
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).


1. Garlic
It's going to be hard to unseat the long-reigning champ in 2008.
2. Tofu
I'm a vegetarian, guys.
3. Tomatoes
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.
5. Carrots
Only in the last year or two have I discovered the versatility of carrots. They go well with all manner of stir-fried dishes.
6. Onions
Always loved onions.
7. Basil
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.
10. Celery
Possibly the most underrated of vegetables. Celery adds a nice, subtle flavor to all kinds of food. I especially like it in soup.


1. Insulting
2. Discernible
3. Litigation
4. Quesada
5. Abject
6. Rapidograph
7. Fascist
8. Murky
9. Oeuvre
10. Inflated
11. Retro
12. Clunky
13. Suppository
14. Momentous
15. Elegiac
16. Scrotum
17. Pastiche
18. Vibrant
19. Torso
20. Puerile
21. Pedantic
22. Dropkick
23. Render
24. Balloon
25. Crusty
26. Teleology
27. Thud
28. Deus Ex Machina
29. Batcave
30. Dormant
31. Depressing
32. Nu
33. Stylized
34. Hairy
35. Gorgonzola
36. Hype
37. Rape
38. Formative
39. Nuanced
40. Preservation
41. Zombie
42. Repressed
43. Luddite
44. Laser
45. Taser
46. Rabbi
47. Fluid
48. Aggro
49. Angle
50. Puddle
51. Ostensible
52. Olfactory
53. Didio
54. Nipple
55. Thunderbolt
56. Balls
57. Mangaka
58. Anthology
59. Terra
60. Firma
61. India
62. Ink
63. Boob
64. Sock
65. Binary
66. Voyeur
67. Sticky
68. Ultimate
69. Subaltern
70. Visage
71. Mustache
72. Sweaty
73. Empower
74. Edict
75. Howitzer
76. Hacienda
77. Bristol
78. Eco-terrorism
79. Oedipal
80. Pilgrim
81. Discourse
82. Thor
83. Continuity
84. Priapism
85. Galactus
86. Storytelling
87. Zounds
88. Marmaduke
89. Haircut
90. Mylar
91. Virgin
92. Semantics
93. Tuft
94. Preposterous
95. Straczynski
96. Keyboard
97. Verite
98. Defile
99. Rejuvenate
100. Atomic vampire


Hugh Stewart said...

That's a lot of UFC.

Bioshock starts off strong, but I found it got a little repetitive after a while, and the third act drags some. Still, I'm glad I played it, and it's a pretty fantastic game all-around.

jim said...

Great MMA overview. Huerta/Guida was my fight of the year, but that may be because it's fresh in my mind. With Huerta, Edgar, Florian, etc., I'm really looking forward to seeing how the UFC lightweight division shakes out in 2008.

jlg said...

I'm cautiously looking forward to Silent Hill 5. It's being made by an American team and not by the usual Team Silent team, so I'm a bit worried how it might come out.

G4 is pretty bad. It's even worse that they bought TechTV only to gut it.

LurkerWithout said...

Good Things About g4: Rebroadcasts of "Ninja Warrior" and reruns of "Arrested Development".

Bad Things: EVERY OTHER DAMN THING. Even the once great X-Play is now a crippled, lobotomized and wildly foundering shadow of what it once was...

Also: The buzz on Lesnar is really that good?

Matthew J. Brady said...

Lots to discuss here.

TV: Yeah, that Sopranos ending was pretty good, now that I've had some distance. I wasn't sure what to think at first, but it's gotten better with time. I like the way David Chase would screw with people, doing artsy stuff or just dropping plot points when Joe Sixpack would just prefer more bloodshed.

As for sitcoms, right on for The Office and 30 Rock. The latter usually has me and my wife laughing hysterically, and there have been a few episodes this season that have been just about perfect.

Ninja Warrior is pretty awesome whenever I manage to catch it, but I have trouble watching anything on G4. God, that channel is terrible. Every so often I'll try to watch something because I'm curious about a game they're talking about, but the annoying idiocy of the hosts puts me right off. Does anybody actually like that sort of crap?

Colbert: hilarious. He is so, so funny. I love The Daily Show too, and I'll be glad to have them back, but I have no idea how they'll be able to function without writers. Really, while Colbert is very very funny, I think I still like Stewart better, just for the variety he offers. Plus, I don't have to try to parse the irony like I do with Colbert. And the correspondents are great; give me John Hodgman, Larry Wilmore, John Oliver, Buck Henry, or Dmitri Martin, and I'll be happy.

As for Shin Chan, that show is weird. It's very funny, but also quite strange. I don't really like the crude animation though; I think I like just listening to it while I fall asleep. That means I do miss the bare asses though, so that's a minus. Still, funny stuff.

Video Games: Super Mario Galaxy is awesome. Dick, do you have a Wii? If so, email me your Wii number, and we can be Wii friends. If you want; I don't want to come off as needy or anything.

I'm always behind on games; SMG is one of the only ones I bought within a month of its release. I'm still playing stuff like Bully and Zelda: Twilight Princess. And I don't have a 360 or PS3, so I can't play any of those games unless I'm at a friend's house. Maybe I'll get up-to-date someday, but right now I'm content dredging up old PS2 games.

Blogging words: seems like some of those are padding (Nu, gorgonzola, rabbi), but that's fine. I assume the list isn't ranked, or rape, empower, and fascist would be closer to the top. Ones I regularly use: discourse, ouvre, murky, peurile, render, nuanced, ostensible, storytelling. And boobsock, if you combine #63 and 64. Ones I'll make a New Year's resolution to use more often: moustache, priapism, preposterous, hairy, pedantic, crusty, zounds.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Re: Lesnar, someone who knows someone who would know says yes, his ground and pound really is that strong. And his wrestling credentials really do exceed anyone else in the heavyweight division, with the possible exception of old, washed up dudes like Kerr or Coleman. The final thing to consider is just how weak the HW division is. There are so few up and coming fighters at that weight, someone with incredible wrestling and decent sub/striking skills should be a pretty decent fighter in that division. I mean, he can't be any worse than Marcio Cruz, can he?

Re: video games, we do indeed have a Wii. Where do I get the Wii number? Is it on the bottom of the console?

Re: words, if you do a search of this blog, I think you'll find that gorgonzola has come up fairly often. I also suggest that these words be combined, so we can consider innovative new concepts like scrotum pastiche or continuity priapism. Or Galactus priapism.

Matthew J. Brady said...

You can find the Wii number by going to the message screen (bottom right corner of the main menu), then opening the address book. It'll show you what your Wii number is, and you can add somebody to your address book. But both people have to add each other to their addresses in order to be "friends". And then you can send each other messages if you want, but you can also see other people's Miis if they have the "mingle" setting turned on. Actually, there's not much to it, but I think it helps if you're playing online games. I could be wrong though; I don't actually have any that play online. Maybe when Super Smash Brothers Brawl comes out...

Nick said...

Best of '07 in TV and you don't include Jekyll?

Dick Hyacinth said...

I don't even know what that is.

Nick said...

Jekyll was on the BBC/BBC America

The wiki probably describes it better then I do:

Mr. Orange said...

Good call on Machida.
You saw something in Sylvia/Vera that made you think a healthy Sylvia handles Couture? Let's just hope we see Couture back in UFC.

The Fortress Keeper said...

Parachute is indeed a great album. I often find myself humming "the good Mister Square ..."