23.12.04

My Top Ten of Everything in 2004

#1. [GOSSIP] Livejournal community Oh No They Didnt!

In a sea of celebrity gossip sites, one collective place to rest your weary limbs and trust that all and any necessary information will be found, well, that kind of place is special. From Mary-Kate Olsen's self-harm scars to America's Next Top Model spoilers to general Lindsay Lohan obsessions, this is the only true place that I can rely on when things get trashy.

#2. [MUSIC] Gwen Stefani : Love, Angel, Music, Baby.

OK, so how many of you remember 1998 when No Doubt hit the UK with "Don't Speak"? Gwen Stefani pre-weight loss, pre-nose job...and shock horror, pre-Gavin Rossdale? It was all about the ska, the voice and the songs. But as we all know, bands break up or the respective members wander away to their various solo projects. I'm not sure whether No Doubt have officially split, but to tell you the truth, I don't care. I got bored with them a long time ago. This is Gwen's first solo album; produced, written and dueted with from Pharrel Williams to that guy from Outkast to Linda Perry (that chick behind most successful pop-tunes-with-a-rock-bent). If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I'd say that you have to hear this because...well, because there's a song about Japanese fashion, there's a song about 1950's sex in the back seat of a car, and there's a song about how we're really not quite over racism yet. And it's electronic and rap and ska and pop all piled into a blender and made to go really really fast.

I cheated, but it's a really great album. Hooray for non-cynicism and brightly coloured clothes.

#3. [OBITUARY] Marlon Brando, 1924 -2004.

#4. [LIVE MUSIC] The Faint @the Commodore, Vancouver, BC with TV on the Radio supporting.

There were pseudo-indie jock assholes trying to push me out of the way and generally pissing me off whilst screaming like effected tweens, Beep Beep cancelled, and I forgot to charge the batteries in the digital camera. But The Faint are awesome live, absolutely flawless to the point where I was wondering whether they were playing to a recording. The screen at the back had some of the most amazing amateurish animation I've ever seen - a man being bitten by a snake, Marilyn Monroe (thus confirming the fagginess around me): hyperacid surrealism to an electronic beat. They played three songs as an encore. If you didn't see them on that tour, catch them again, just in case they break up and you miss them forever.

#5. [BOOK] Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite.

I confess, I read for the boy sex and the sheer linguistic pleasures. But this year marked something important for PZB - although she's written outside the genre, this was her first big book outside of the vampire genre (a genre that continues to haunt her, quite literally, as it unwittingly appealed to the worst kind of audience - depressed, angsty, gothy teens). It's kinda hard to get taken seriously by a mainstream audience when your core audience is also reading Harry Potter and lurking behind an ominously closed bedroom door. But PZB is much better than her audience dictates. She writes New Orleans as if Anne Rice was never around to cast the cliche. She writes as though sex she discovered yesterday: that kind of hot sexiness that I can only remember having when I was younger. She writes as though she knows what it's like to be a word, and only have one meaning, and so each word that she presses down means double that of any other bogstandard writer out there. I am passionately in love with her, and I wish she kinda wasn't so hot, or that I had a cock, because I'd totally steal her away if I could.

Anyhoo, the plot summary basically boils down to two chefs in the heavy restaurant culture of aforementioned New Orleans. They're sick of their jobs, they're sick of their lives, and one of the few things they do have, is each other. Bouncing from the strength of their relationship, the book follows them as they invent a concept for their own restaurant, and then follow through with it. Add the scorned local celebrity chef, a building with a testy history and general rivalry based conflict...and I swear, you won't put this down. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

#6. [BLOG] The Blue Sloth.

Philip is a housewife...sorry. I mean stay at home father, sculpter, writer and general sex bomb. Ironically, his popularity boom came after I noted how hot he was, and how much I liked reading what he had to say. Maybe this will help his wintertime blues. But charity case aside, this guy is great. There is nothing he can't do. He builds stuff, he ferries his kids from Point A to Point B, he posts topless pictures, he has relatively interesting opinions, he's not preaching religion, he takes great pictures, and he's an excellent writer. Too bad he's married, eh?

#7. [TECH] Firefox : the browser.

This year was not Microsoft's year. With rising cases of Linux installation and increasing vulnerabilities, you knew something was going to rise up and fill the void. Enter Firefox, complete with a sexy logo and a strong assembled fanbase. Not to mention responsible developing team, tonnes of accessories and an ethical approach to the internet. I chose a safer internet when I downloaded and installed Firefox. You should too.

#8. [MUSIC] William Shatner : Has Been.

This album is a shocker. Before "Has Been" was released, Shatner's music was a complete joke. After? He's a popculture legend. This album is so much more than the leaked tracks though - there are songs about the queer little relationship ticks (snoring, leopardskin print leggings, chewing gum) that drive us all mad ("Ideal Woman"), about an absent father painfully trying to reconnect with his daughter("That's Me Trying"), about how he's not some hero ("Real"). There are sections where I actually want to cry, just with the empathy pains of how it must be to be growing older, to be losing things, to be fixing things that might not be able to be fixed. Ben Folds did a magnificient job. William Shatner has made the album of his life. Both should be extremely proud.

#9. [BLOG] Joe. My. God.

I must have written a million reviews for this guy. I found him a long time ago, when he was only getting one or two comments on his stories. I feel unfair branding him as being nothing but a gay blogger, so I don't. He is gay, he does write about things that affect him as a gay man. But he writes about much more : about sexual awakening, and losing friends, and damaging people when he didn't quite mean to, and about strange people that he meets along the way. He's had a few problems with Blogger recently, but he seems to be back on track. I don't know who would have been here if I hadn't come across his writing, but I am very glad that I did.

#10. [TECH] Phex.

Myself and my Techmonkey needed a p2p that was both OpenSource and multi-platformed. I mention this not because I have used this p2p program a great deal this year, although I have - for checking out transcribed books when I couldn't afford bus fare to the library, but because this year was one of the revolutions in music sharing. Bit torrents are being closed down as we speak. The iPod is now overhyped, overbranded, overindulged. Everyone has an mp3 player. Legal mp3 downloading is now available through many sources (predominantly through the iTunes store). Napster sold out, went legal. The authorities are seeking out those that illegally download copywritten music, and scaring the shit out of the rest of us. What was once an expression of the freedom of the internet, is now somehow tainted and dirty, stuffed full of lies as to how downloading is killing music sales : when in fact, it's the shitty music that is killing music.

So there's Phex. Peer to peer software. Works on all Operating Systems. It's free. It's moral. It's just down to you to use it as you wish. And have a great New Year.