Thursday, December 27, 2007

Studicus Selects 2007

It is always en vogue this time of year to do a "best of" or "worst of" list, be it badly-behaved athletes, out-of-control celebs, or jaw-dropping sports plays. I attempted this back in 2005, when I did a 2005 Scrooges and a 2005 Studicus Selects. This time I'll just combine all my best and worst moments into one, long-overdue post.

And apologies dear readers for our long hiatus. Do we have an explanation? Of course not. It's laziness and other distractions.

Most satisfying cinematic experience. Transformers! I went back home to see it with my brother and my dad...and we abso-freaking-lutely loved it. There's just something about hearing the voice, the real voice of Optimus Prime that sent chills up and down my spine. Great battle sequences, some well-placed humor, a super-hot Meghan Fox...terrific.

Biggest holiday disappointment. Also related to the Transformers. I held off getting the DVD thinking it'd be the perfect stocking stuffer from my parents or my wife. Apparently, everyone thought I already had it or assumed another party would purchase it for me. I guess that's why they invented holiday spending cash.

Biggest disappointment, sports. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish. I didn't think ND would be very good this year, but I didn't expect the complete joke of a team that took the field every week. Geez, they were terrible. I can't even look at their record, I will not speak of it here, and I hope things get better next year. I'm talking about everything from special teams to the offense on down to the defense. We should've known we were in trouble when three quarterbacks played in the opener.

Best holiday purchase. Screw the iPod, I bought a Zune! I took the MP3 player plunge, picking up the 30-gig Zune for $89 (plus free shipping, thanks!). I'm in love with this thing; I've got nine full-length movies and hundreds of songs on it...and I still have 13 gigs left to fill.

Most unlikely mild obsession. You know, while toying around with my Zune, I used some errant Microsoft Live points to buy the Dropkick Murphys' "Shipping off to Boston" (you may have heard the song in The Departed). That inspired me to buy a couple more songs from the Zune store (which, I will admit, pales in comparison to iTunes). Then, I checked out some similar groups, and found a group called Flogging Molly. I guess it's technically "ska," but I refer to it as "Celtic thrash music." The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly are getting a lot of play from me. A LOT.

Most surprisingly touching song from the Dropkick Murphys. Search YouTube for "Green Fields of France" and see if you can listen to it without getting a little misty-eyed. Beautiful song from an unlikely source.

Best purchase, Xbox 360 game. Oooooo...this one is gonna hurt a few people out there. You'll notice my last blog post was on October 31st. Several posts before that, I had declared my allegiance to Halo 3, including my attendance at a kickass Halo party from K-Fife. Before that, I extolled the virtues of NCAA 2008 prior to moving up to gunnery sergeant, investing time into the Bungie website, then proceeding to have the special edition of Mass Effect delivered to my mailbox. Halo 3 has made a great paperweight since then. Bioware, ye be honored. For Mass Effect is terrific, although, like Knights of the Old Republic before it, the game has a few bugs (notably, a crappily-managed inventory system and some problems with the frame rate). Still, it's a beautiful game, a great story, and I love it. And...oh...those Asaris!

Biggest disappointment, Xbox 360 game. MLB 2K7. Oh, yeah, I played a whole 162-game season. And oh, yeah, I couldn't advance to the postseason because of a stupid glitch that 2K Sports never fixed. If teams have unplayed games when you end the season, your system locks up while trying to move to the playoffs. All those games, down the toilet. I emailed four times, never got a response, and am determined never to play/buy products from 2K Games ever again. I guess that means no BioShock for me either, since it's a 2K Games product (though not under the 2K Sports label). The whole point of playing a season? Getting to the playoffs! So what's the point of playing the regular season if you can't advance to the World Series? It's inexcusable.

Best deal, DVD. Best Buy sold the Marvel animated movies for $3.99 each. I couldn't pass up Invincible Iron Man, Ultimate Avengers, and Ultimate Avengers 2. I even bought Krildog copies of them. You can't beat a price like that for high-quality entertainment.

Strangest movie obsession. I had a stint where I really got into Kingdom of Heaven. So much, in fact, I wanted to see the four-hour Director's Cut. I eventually bought it. Which leads me to...

Worst oversight, Netflix queue. If you rent the Kingdom of Heaven Director's Cut, you only get the first disc of the four-disc set. The problem: the main feature is split amongst two discs! So I saw half the new cut, without the possibility of seeing the rest through Netflix! This inspired me to buy the whole set, which is loaded with special features. You know, if you can take four hours of Orlando Bloom.

Biggest disappointment, movie. Spider-Man 3. It was a godawful mess of glitzy special effects, too many characters, and the evil Emo Peter Parker. The latter was enough to ruin it for me.

Biggest surprise, movies. 300. Wow. I love epics, counting Gladiator, Braveheart, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, and King Arthur among my DVD collection. I was floored by 300. The visual style was awesome, and Gerard Butler is awesome. Also, he seems, in real life, like a perfectly pleasant fellow. Search YouTube for him...and see if you find a story about a kilt and a wedding particularly amusing.

Most shocking revelation, movies. Had to be when I realized that King Leonidas moonlights as the Phantom of the Opera. I still have to repress a shudder.

Most satisfyingly inexpensive gadget. With my new Zune, I wanted to find a way to listen to music through my car stereo. I don't have an auxiliary jack in my car stereo, which is a factory set from 2003 (you know, before iPods hit it big). So, I shopped around and found a car cassette adapter for $5.99 at Wal-Mart. It's cheap, but it sounds terrific. Why a cassette adapter? Reviews of Zune-related radio tuners are terrible, and I didn't want to risk dropping at least $50 on one. So, I went with the cheaper alternative, and am pretty pleased thus far.

Worst performance, NFL. Had to be when the Colts went on the road in Sunday Night Football against San Diego and pissed their game away. Six interceptions from Peyton Manning, plus a missed chip-shot field goal from Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri, and you really don't need to say anything else.

Best performance, NFL. I'd be lying if I even tried to pass off the Colts' Super Bowl performance here. We ALL know what the real game of the year was...Colts/Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. I was ready to kill myself in the first half...until God finally smiled upon his favorite Volunteer, who led the greatest comeback in Colts history. Oh, how sweet it was.

Most productive seven days of his life, Studicus. I entered a writing competition on about two months ago. The site was taking 5,000 entries for full-length book manuscripts. Once you registered, you had seven days to submit your entry. I registered, but only had my book about 1/3 of the way done. So, over the next seven days, I worked my regular job and then came home to write about six or seven hours a day. By the time it was all over, my sanity was gone, I didn't want to see a keyboard, and my eyes and mind burned from staring at the computer screen and using all that creative energy. I did get the word count I was working toward, and finished it. The entry was accepted, I'm now waiting to see if anything comes of it.

Worst use of a cable channel. Two lucky cable networks share the honor: Big Ten Network and NFL Network. I'm not going to blame them solely, because we all know the cable operators have a lot to do with this, too. I can live with missing IU & Purdue football games. I'm having a much harder time with basketball season, however. So far, IU's BTN games haven't been spectacular; it's really going to suck once we hit the conference season. The NFL Network, meanwhile, caved in on the whole Giants-Patriots thing. I'm glad we'll all be able to see that. However, the NFL Network isn't all bad. It gives me an excuse to visit Krildog, who has it at his apartment. Just figure it out, guys. For the fans.

Best deal of the year. I'm not opposed to heralding the great $89, 30-gig Zune from However, the real best deal of the year comes from Finish Line. The one here in Greenwood is selling hooded NCAA sweatshirts (I refuse to intentionally use the word "hoodie" unless Bill Belichick is involved) two for $30. I took advantage of this for the holidays, getting my brother a UNC one, my wife a Notre Dame one, a Notre Dame one for Krildog, and an IU one for his Lady Krildog. Sadly, no one bothered to snag an IU or Notre Dame one for Studicus! Yeah...that last comment was a little selfish. I feel like George Costanza in the Festivus episode. George had given a friend Yankees tickets as a gift; in return, the friend made a donation in George's name to a children's charity. George remarked, "Don't you see how wrong that is?! Where's your Christmas spirit? An eye for an eye!"

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