Monday, December 31, 2012

Apocalyptic Roundup: The Best of the Year which Didn't End

I guess the world didn't end, so I've got to write this. Here's to 2012, one of the best years I've had so far!

1. The Totally Awesome Birthday Surprise
For the first time in my life I had a surprise birthday party, and it was mine. Thanks to my parents, who outsourced the idea to Xi Min, who organized it, you sly old codger you; and thanks again to everyone who came down and played hilarious Pictionary on disposable paper table tops late into the night!

I've done my sentence, but committed no crime. After two years of learning how the world really works, I come back out into the world with this inane notion that things will be different. I am proven both right and wrong. Nevertheless, I am overjoyed to be out, and so happy that like alcohol at the airport, I'm duty-free!

3. The Japan Trip
Oh man, this is going to be one of those highlights of my life that I'll look back on when I'm 60 and tell my grandchildren about. This was such an awesome trip in an amazing and beautiful country. I saw so many new and different things, tried many new kinds of food I never would have tried back home, and met so many amazing and friendly people. I am definitely going back sometime in the near future, but I am very thankful I had the opportunity to visit a different part of the world.

4. Experience Yale-NUS Weekend
I found out that I got accepted into Yale-NUS while I was in Japan, and once I got back I immediately had a two-day stayover camp to experience Yale-NUS. And I have to say that I was completely sold by that experience. Not because of the professors, or the deans, or the admissions officers; but because of the people, the bunch of amazing and wonderful and overall human people that I met that night. I had the most enjoyable conversation through to 4am that I have ever had while I was awake.

5. The Intern Life
Working at Yale-NUS has been like, the best job I have ever had. My office is just full of wonderful people, insane in their own ways, but it makes going to work fun and exciting. My colleagues are more than colleagues; they're friends as well, and I know I'm going to be really sad come next year when I have to be a student and not an intern anymore. But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every day of work I have, giving tours, ordering mugs, making designs, reading articles and sitting at the coffee table, laughing and chatting.

6. Licence to Drive
I guess I'm more grateful for this than other people might be, because it took three tries and enough money for a trip around the world to get a small plastic card which society decides is the only way you can be certified of piloting a four-wheeled automobile worth a hundred times as much. I do think that I'm one of nature's pedestrians though, and considering all the traffic on the road, I'd rather take the bus.

7. Singapore Toys, Games and Comics Convention 2012
I don't recall this year's STGCC being as awesome as previous years'. Nevertheless, I had a good time wandering around the comics stands, and was quite happy to find some of the titles I was looking for. I also remember some of the best cosplays this year, including a Power Girl, a Poison Ivy, and an awesome dude who did a very simple, yet very effective Clark Kent/Superman.

8. Anime Festival Asia 2012
I enjoyed this year's AFA more than the previous years', perhaps because I knew a lot more and could recognise a lot more things. Madoka movie was excellent. Cosplays were generally really good as well, but it reminded me that there is a lot more in that world that I don't know. I think what I really enjoyed most was the concert; I knew more of the artistes performing, like fripSide and LiSA (LiSA!!!), and I even managed to get into flow's songs, even though they were at the end and I was exhausted by then. I got my dose of orange Mirai-ness, so I'm quite happy.

9. The Team Fortress Photo
If there was anything that was as exciting as it was frustrating this year, it was this. Try getting a bunch of people to come together in a virtual world, where everyone is able to kill everyone else, and get them all to stand together to take a photo, without killing anyone. What should have been a fifteen-minute shoot ended up being a two-hour ordeal (STOP KILLING THE PHOTOGRAPHER DAMMIT), but in the end it was a great screenshot at the crossroads of our lives, where we couldn't all play together at the same time.

10. The Girl in the Red Dress
Last of all, here's to that girl in the red dress who I brought on tour around RC4, whose mysterious smile sparked something in my heart; thanks for suggesting to me that maybe, sometimes, there might be such a thing as "love at first sight".

The Year in Entertainment

Anime: Baka no Test no Shokanjuu, Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari, Steins;Gate, Kanon, Infinite Stratos, Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero, Carnival Phantasm, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie

I finally finished watching both seaons of Baka Test and they were hilarious. I didn't they could build on the stupidity and running gags of season one, but they did. Both Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari were mind-melting surrealistic mythological mashups which had really, really nice animation. Steins;Gate was a good time-travel story; Suzuha obviously best character. Infinite Stratos was a waste of perfectly good technology for an international harem. Fate/Zero was AWESOME, and is totally worth being outcast as an otaku for. Carnival Phantasm was another surrealistic comedy; I got the parts which involved Fate characters but didn't understand much of the Tsukihime references (race episode is BEST EPISODE). Finally, the rewatch of Madoka in the form of the movie was undeniably brilliant.

Books: Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad trilogy, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex, Misha Glenny's McMafia, DC's Final Crisis and Final Crisis: Aftermath

I finally cashed in on my Kinokuniya membership and bought Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, Behemoth and Goliath, and again I marveled at a world so fantastical yet utterly believable and amazing. Deryn is a tsundere. I borrowed the latest Artemis Fowl book, and I didn't feel it was as good as the earlier books, but an interesting continuation of the Artemis saga nevertheless. I also borrowed McMafia, the only book on this list which is non-fiction, and though I haven't finished it yet and the narrative weaves in confusing and not-easy-to-follow ways, it's provides fascinating insights to the global network of organized crime. I finally finished DC Comics' Final Crisis even though I'm still missing the last Countdown to Final Crisis book (curse you, frantic apocalypse hoarding). And Terry Pratchett once again produces a brilliant story laced with satire and symbolism in the form of four-inch-tall creatures, who are perhaps more human than they appear.

Movies: The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Les Misérables

All those years of fanboying finally paid off in this year's releases of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Looper was a decent time travel action story, but in the end the grandfather paradoxes just messed with my brain too much. I finally watched Les Misérables in its entirety, and I must say that the music is good, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are awesome but Russell Crowe can't sing for nuts.

TV Shows: The Batman

I managed to get my hands on all five seasons of The Batman somehow, because I wanted to rewatch it for the epic reimagining of some of Gotham's iconic villains. Even to the end of Season 5, where I think Batman's integration to the Justice League wasn't very well done; the villains still stole center stage. The show boasts the best Joker voice behind Mark Hamill, the best Riddler and the best Mr Freeze and the best... well, all the villains, actually.

Music: Kurt Schneider mashups, Lindsey Stirling, The Sing Off, Gangnam Style, Les Misérables, Book of Mormon, Matilda the Musical

Kurt Schneider stepped up his game this year with a number of awesome mashups with other start-up artistes, most notably Victoria Justice and Max Schneider's Maroon 5 medley and that beautiful mashup of Payphone and Call Me Maybe. Lindsey Stirling wins my Pretty Musician of the Year award this year by really just producing great music, from the Skyrim theme to her African rendition of Rihanna's We Found Love. The Sing Off, the a capella American Idol, was a beautiful find near the beginning of the year, and still never ceases to amaze me. Gangnam Style gets special mention, because it's rare that a song enthralls the entire world in such a fashion. In musical news, I love Thérnardier's song Master of the House, because it's just so witty and rhymey and unserious about itself. Matilda the Musical I chanced upon because it's got lyrics written by Tim Minchin, and it's pretty good, though I don't understand the story much because I don't think I ever read Rohl Dahl's Matilda. Finally, The Book of Mormon takes centre stage as Best Hilarious-M18-Feel-Good-Religious-Satire Musical of the Year.

Games: Sid Meyer's Civilizations V, Borderlands 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bioshock, BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, DC Universe Online, Dungeon Defenders, Super Monday Night Combat

I think Bioshock is one of the best games ever made: excellent story, animation, immersion and gameplay. I'm about halfway through Skyrim right now and it's been excellent as well; what I love about it so much is that there's always something new to discover, and the quests are immersive and the world is richly detailed and designed. Civilizations V, I never would have imagined, is actually uncontrollably addictive; and it's very interesting and educational (though very complicated) as well. BlazBlue is probably one of the first few games I've tried to pick up properly, but I still can't play any character other than Noel Vermillion, who is so freaking adorable. I found DC Universe Online to be amazing in terms of gameplay and execution, and the fanboy in me just loves recognizing all the characters; but because of the lag I couldn't really play it well. Dungeon Defenders had a pretty interesting concept: a tower defence and first-person shooter hybrid; levels made it a grinding game though, but it was pretty fun. Super Monday Night Combat was my first foray into other online shooters after Team Fortress 2, and it was another hybrid game: a first-person shooter and Multiplay Online Battle Arena (DotA) hybrid. It was a pretty cool concept, but again, people just became noob-haters and I gave it up. Finally, Borderlands 2 is pretty awesome; the developers kept everything good about Borderlands and threw in some new stuff (like an engaging plot) to make the game just so much more awesome.

YouTube: Two Ronnies, Thank God You're Here!

Thank God You're Here is an improv-type show where they throw actors into a scene they've never seen before, and they have to (to put it bluntly) bullshit their way through the performance. It's based on an existing improv-game, but of course blown up and embellished for a television audience. It's brilliant fun, but of course look for the Australian run of the show because it's hilariously better, and it ran for way more seasons. Also, I've been watching a lot of Two Ronnies sketches lately, and they're mostly side-splitting. It is sad though to see how they've aged; the fat one lost so much weight and the small guy grew fat. Nevertheless, their material is pure gold, one of the best the British comedy machine has ever produced.


Well, that's it for 2012. It was such a nice number, too, for a year. Guess the Mayans long counted wrongly. Oh well, onward to lucky 2013!

Happy New Year!
The Edna Man

1 comment:

Kyle said...

#9: And the use of print screen and paste into paint rather than F12.

And how we all found that hilarious afterwards! BRILLIANT TIMES

And it's interesting that most of the games that made it to your list (and mine, now that I think of it) are multiplayer rather than single player... though, like TF2's MvM, FAR better with friends than random people on the internet.

Damn timezones making it inconvenient to do so now!