Monday, December 21, 2009

Studicus Selects 2009

It's that time of year again. Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year! For three out of the last four years, I've awarded my prestigious "Studicus Selects" trophies to a variety of random gadgets, games, and experiences in a variety of random categories.

Now, it's time for Studicus Selects 2009, a look back at what made 2009 memorable. You can check out the Studicus Selects archives below. Scroll down for this year's "winners."

Studicus Selects 2008

Studicus Selects 2007

Studicus Selects 2005

Best purchase, cell phone upgrade: Apple's iPhone. Yes, I'm tired of the tagline "there's an app for that," too. But Apple's phone is an amazing, accessible piece of technology. My wife wanted a touchscreen phone when she upgraded. When we went to the AT&T store, we looked at a variety of models before she got her hands on an iPhone. The interface was shiny and the device was easy to use. My wife was taken with it, and so we walked out of the store with two of them.

Most needless upgrade to replace broken 27-inch TV screen purchased from my brother: LG Blu-Ray player. Okay, there's a story with this one. Several years ago, let's say five years ago actually, I bought a 27" Sharp TV from my brother. He'd had it for a while and no longer needed it; I wanted a larger TV. In November, the tank-like construct broke down, robbing my wife and I of the ability to watch TV upstairs. So, I replaced the Sharp (don't worry; I took the venerable, battered TV to the local Tox-Drop) with a plasma TV. While doing that, I decided I'd get a Blu-Ray player to replace the piece-of-junk Samsung DVD player that skips and pauses for no apparent reason. It's been a good purchase. Not only do the movies look nice, the player also has Netflix connectivity, meaning I can view "Watch Instantly" movies from my Netflix queue on my TV. Now, if Netflix would only work on expanding the catalog of available movies...

Most cost-effective and amphibious stand-in for the child we don't have and the grandchild my mother-in-law looks forward to one day: My wife's biological clock isn't in overdrive (yet). But she wants something to take care of other than me (can you believe that!!??). So, thanks to a freebie from work, we have a frog. The Children's Museum store sells these "Grow-a-Frog" tanks. You send off for a tadpole, feed it, and watch it grow into a real frog. We got our boy, Prince, about the time Michael Jackson passed away. So my mother-in-law suggested we call him "Prince, the King of Hop." And so Prince, now a real frog, sits in his tank and floats around, likely wondering why the tall man who always wears stuff with horseshoes on it struts around and constantly yells at the TV, most often on Sundays.

Best excuse to play videogames, wife category: Even though I'm almost 30, I still love to play videogames. But this particular award goes to my wife, who convinced me that she needed a Nintendo DS to help her train her brain. She alluded that her idea had the blessing of her doctor, so now she owns a pink, excuse me...metallic rose...Nintendo DS. In all honesty, she enjoys it and it seems to help her calm her mind. Plus, the only games she has are the "Brain Age" series, so it's not like she's playing Halo. Of course, if she were playing Halo on a Nintendo system, that would be very notable.

Best culinary contribution, husband category: If it's frozen or comes out of a can, I can make it. Anything else involving "recipes" and "ingredients," and you have to defer to my wife. However, we did unveil a grill this summer, and I had a great time with it. There's nothing wrong with hamburgers, hot dogs, and bratwurst. Next summer, I'm upgrading to steaks and chicken, so watch out!
This man wants you to have his wiener.

Most idiotic mutual realization about the location of the nearest Wendy's, couple category: My wife and I don't really eat at Wendy's all that often. Maybe we should...the place makes a fine burger and who doesn't love a Frosty? One day, we decided we wanted Wendy's, but decided against it because we didn't want "to drive all the way to Greenwood" just to go to Wendy's. The next day, while going along Southport Road, we passed a Wendy's restaurant we had actually eaten at before. Later in the week, we passed a Wendy's on Thompson road, probably a block away from us. Boy, did we feel stupid. Not only was there one Wendy's location within two minutes, there were two of them. The map below illustrates why we felt so stupid.

View Wendy's Map in a larger map

Most enjoyable movie in a genre I typically pay no attention to: Zombieland. I never thought I'd see a zombie flick in 2009; it's typically not my thing. However, combine Woody Harrelson and Twinkies, and you get a very enjoyable romp through a Zombie Apocalypse. I was surprised, to say the least.

Most enjoyable movie starring Michael Jackson that my wife dragged me to: Michael Jackson: This Is It. The concert movie chronicling the ill-fated final tour of the deceased King of Pop was actually pretty interesting. I'm not a big fan of "Little Michael," but I have to say he looked a lot more energetic and full of life during the movie than he did in death (er...you know what I mean). I often joke that my wife made me a deal: go see This Is It with her and I wouldn't have to go see New Moon. While that's pure fiction, I still like to use that as my excuse for seeing it.

Least enjoyable movie, summer blockbuster category: This is a tie between Terminator Salvation and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Terminator ended up being a lifeless, boring waste of a movie with hastily-inserted Arnold CG thrown in at the end. X-Men Origins: Wolverine has the sad distinction of churning out a videogame adaptation that was eminently more satisfying than the movie itself. I'm not sure if it was the ridiculous non-plot or the ridiculous circus of characters or the ridiculously-creepy Patrick Stewart CG work, but the movie simply didn't work. And when Hugh Jackman can't save something...you know it's bad.

Most enjoyable second DVD rental concerning a 2006 movie that had no right to be any good, Sylvester Stallone category: Rocky Balboa. My wife and I caught this movie on cable a few weeks ago and decided we'd add it (again) to our Netflix queue. I'd like to point out that movie sequels made 30 years after the original should not approach anything resembling high quality. Yet, there Rocky was, older, slower, and still compelling. Should he have lasted so long against the reigning heavyweight champion of the world? No. Should we have enjoyed a movie starring Peter Petrelli from "Heroes?" Probably not. Did we like it anyway? You bet.Best movie based on a Hasbro toy from my childhood: I'm going to give this to G.I. Joe, because my brother and I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was a moment of wishful childhood thinking, but it was better than we expected. Plus, Dennis Quaid makes everything better. We also liked Transformers 2, but Optimus & Company's second go-round is overly long and not nearly as enjoyable as the first live-action Transformers flick. Oh, and they almost killed Optimus Prime again...nearly reducing my brother and I to tears over what would've been another needlessly traumatic death for Optimus Prime.

Saddest remix of awesome Tranformers-inspired song from the 80s: I'm an avowed fan of Stan Bush, the cheese-tastic rocker behind "The Touch" and "Dare" from the 1986 animated Transformers movie. However, he attempted to redo "The Touch," infusing the song with some ill-conceived Linkin Park influence. The results, posted below, speak for themselves.
I consider one of these classic. The other one, not so much.

Most hilarious use of Neil Diamond, holiday category: Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song is already legendary. Combine it with the even more legendary Neil Diamond, and you get an explosion of holiday awesomeness.
Best Madden football game that's still not quite as awesome as NFL 2K5: Madden 10. It's the first Madden game I've bought for the Xbox 360. In fact, I hadn't bought an NFL football game since EA Sports signed its exclusivity deal with the NFL. I caved in this year, and I'm glad I did. Madden is a complete game of football with a terrific presentation. Even more than that, it's fun to play. Now, if they can just do fake video highlight shows like NFL 2K5, they'd have nailed it.

Best Star Trek movie starring that guy from Heroes: Star Trek. I thoroughly enjoyed the reboot of Star Trek. In fact, my wife and I have watched the movie way too many times since acquiring it for home viewing. On a side note, this movie also wins an honorary award for most ridiculous collectible DVD case. There's no good place for an Enterprise-style DVD holder, except for on top of the DVD player.
The mighty Enterprise, nestled on top of the Blu Ray player, right next to my wife's Buffy and Gilmore Girls sets.

Best day ever, Twilight category: I think this speaks for itself.
If you read the blog post, this picture will make sense

Worst luck, wife category: Earlier this year, my wife fell down the stairs and suffered a horrible concussion. She followed that up by contracting mono over the summer and missing a month of work. This is on top of the nerve problems she's had since July 2008. Surely her luck has to change, right?

Best use of work laser printer for decidedly non-work-related purposes: Imagine the amount of inkjet cartridges I'd have to go through to print this much pure drivel.
In this stack of papers, a college radio station fights for survival, a cloned baseball player encounters his destiny, a superhero meets an evil version of his father, a weaponized version of the bubonic plague manufactured by time-traveling Soviet scientists threatens to destroy humanity, and a super-powered woman uncovers a vast conspiracy at the world's first and only superhero-for-hire franchise. Thankfully, none of those stories are related.

Largest collection of uninvited house guests, galactic category: 12 totes of Star Wars collectibles moved from the safety of a Richmond, Indiana, storage unit to my home in Indianapolis. Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Chewie, Han Solo, Leia, and their friends have taken over the guest room and the upstairs closet. They will be assessed, inventoried, and then stored or sold.
It's as if millions of Star Wars toys cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Best act of defiance, movie sneak-peek category: When my friend Krildog and I went to see Watchmen several days before its release, security was tight. So tight, in fact, that cell phones were banned, lest someone take pictures of the movie or (gulp!) record it and leak the footage. I had a Motorola Razor at the time and kept it in my pocket, declaring it too cold outside and too inconvenient to walk out to the car and put my phone away. My "defiance" went unnoticed. Oh, and I didn't try to pirate the movie. Of course, the film also inspired the following post.

Most time-consuming post on TFT, March Madness category: The Annual Perfect Strangers Forecast takes a very, very long time to put together. Though the post frequency and consistency declined sharply this year, the Perfect Strangers Forecast for the NCAA basketball tournament remains one of my favorites. And I'm really proud of the title graphic.
Standing tall, on the wings of my game predictions.

Best early Christmas gift ever: Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on 4th and 2. I don't care what you argue, turning it over to the other team in your own territory 20 yards away from midfield is stupid. Punt it. A lot more can go wrong over a 70-yard drive than a 29-yard one. In the holiday spirit, I really shouldn't revel in someone else's misery. But we are talking about the Patriots. It's widely accepted that they have no souls, lest of all the sinister man known in certain dark circles as "Hoodie."
And they said Belichick is in Manning's head. 4th and 2. Did that really happen? Oh...it did. Here's the proof.

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