Random Thoughts at the End of the Year

As is traditional at this time of year, our brain capacity has been severely limited by a all the blood rushing to our stomachs. I can’t really remember what I was doing a week ago, much less a year ago. Still, here are a few thoughts that I can manage to locate in the fog.

Pittsburgh Food Events of the Year

The beginning of this year saw the sad loss of one of the iconic food locations in Pittsburgh. But, on the bright side, we’ve gained a lot too. First, there was the addition of the Penn Avenue Fish Company to the Strip. Then, the latter part of the year saw two new places open that we can only hope will endure: Mio Kitchen and Legume. These two places instantly join my list of local favorites. In addition, a small miracle has happened over at the Post Gazette in that they appear to have finally hired a restaurant critic, one China Millman, who is worth reading, and not only because she agrees with me all the time.

Game System Secret Shame of the Year

So here is the thing. Nintendo is kicking ass. They own the world. The DS and the Wii are selling at PS2-like rates. But, when push comes to shove what do I spend most of my time playing? PSP and PS2 games. While I respect and acknowledge the brilliance and care that goes into the Nintendo titles, they just don’t connect with me, especially on the DS. Instead, I find myself on the couch with Disgaea or MLB 07, happily poking away at my d-pad and face buttons, instead of whatever innovative yet crappy control scheme Nintendo has dreamed up. I always knew I was a bad person for not liking Zelda… but it turns out it’s all much worse than I had let on.

Sports Convergence of the Year

Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics. Who would have imagined it.

Smug Assholes of the Year

The 1972 Miami Dolphins. Hey! Did you know they were the last team to go undefeated in the NFL?

Technological Non-Convergence of the Year

Broadcast television continued its slow slide towards terminal crappiness. It’s difficult for me to imagine a more byzantine, overengineered, complex maze of interdependent customer service nightmares than setting up a modern television. And it just gets worse every year.

Maybe the Best Games I Played of the Year

In order of confidence: Portal, Final Fantasy 12, Bioshock, Ratchet and Clank Future, Mario Galaxy, Rock Band, Call of Duty 4, Disgaea PSP. Yes I know FF12 was from last year. I played it this year.

Most Infuriating Media Story of the Year

The “coverage” of the so-called “Presidential” “Campaign”. This has gotten so bad that I turn the radio off the instant I hear any of the normal NPR political reporters come on. I don’t understand who they think gives a shit about this now, but they are pretty sure about it. Personally, I think we should get rid of the entire primary system and go back to smoke-filled rooms. At least then I don’t have to hear about it until the conventions.

Kitchen Appliance of the Year

I got a toaster for Christmas. It has a dial, one button, and a lever on it. You push the lever, it makes toast. It replaces a ridiculous “toaster oven” which, I’m sure, was really good at something, but took ten minutes to make a under-toasted piece of crap that you then could not retrieve from its innards without burning the tops of your hands.

Yes, this is even more exciting than the coffee machine.

Best Things I Learned How To Cook this Year

A decent cappuccino, and that tomato sauce.

Interweb Miracle of the Year

Karen and I bought a drum kit for a certain small child this Christmas. We then found ourselves in our living room with three or four dozen drum kit parts strewn on the floor and no idea how they were supposed to fit together. And no manual. The kit came with no instructions.

So to the nets we went, and in a true Christmas miracle, we found a video on YouTube that explained everything. Thank you Aaron Swearingen at World Music Supply, whoever you are. Truly this is a wonderous age in which to be alive.