2004: Could it Have Been Any More Entertaining? Part One

We had it all last year. Comedy, tragedy, passion, scandal and fear and that was just the Olympics! 2004 was chock full of interesting events, films, books, movies and gadgets. Of course it was also full of the banal and the mundane but let’s not talk about that because it's boring. Let’s start with the gadgets, gear and games.

When I heard that the DS in the Nintendo DS stood for Dual Screen I thought cool, there will be one for each eye. Or if you are an unusual kind of gamer you could play with a friend. What? It could happen. But I was wrong. The screens in question are on a portable handheld that is for one player. Sometimes you have a split screen showing two views of the game and sometimes the bottom screen acts as a touch screen. It’s the first system to offer anything like this and Nintendo intends to continue bringing innovations to their users. They are talking about adding the ability to control your game with your voice or even clapping. But what about those of us who don’t care about the future and want to integrate our old games? You can play your Game Boy Advance games on the new system. Pretty sweet.

The biggest news in 2004 technology is of course that I still don’t have an iPod. I know that is hard to believe but it’s true. However those who have the new iPod Photo are pretty darn happy with it. You can store up to 15,000 songs or 25,000 photos. I think you could probably do 7.5 thousand songs and 12.5 thousand photos. And it’s tiny. You’ve got a crush on it already don’t you?

Moving on to sports we’re highlighting the biggest sporting event that only comes around every four years – that’s right, the presidential election. This time around team red state went toe to toe with team blue state. Many sportscasters called for the red team to take the pennant/trophy/bowl/White House early in the season after the surprising announcement of Senator John Kerry as the leader of the blue team. Thanks to a stunning number of new team members adding themselves to the rosters and soliciting friends and neighbors to do the same the two teams were pretty evenly matched until the final playoff in November. An entire country held its breath until the announcement that the red team had taken the country in a three point spread.

Thankfully this event did not go into super duper overtime like the last one. I hear the bookies cleaned up on the side bets of just how many more innings would be played after the final game on November 2nd.

Oh yeah the Olympics weren’t bad either.

Before I talk about the hottest video game of the year let’s invent a game together. It’s frighteningly easy to succumb to the lure of the overused hype words and I don’t want to do that to you. So I suggest we play the “highly anticipated” drinking game. Every time I use that expression you take a drink. Now I need to keep you from getting ill from too much fluids (of course I meant a non-alcoholic drink, what do you take me for?) so it’s my responsibility to hardly ever use that expression. Ready? Let’s go.

Did the highly anticipated game that sent scads of guys to the store for the midnight release of Halo 2 live up to the hype? I’ll say it did. According to my source, the revolutionary energy shields, the intuitive controls on the vehicle system and the grenades helped make this game the bomb dot com. Plus it’s got aliens and you get to be the aliens, fighting the Covenant. The battle comes to Earth in Halo 2 which could make you think it could make the game less interesting both visually and strategically but it doesn’t work that way and the game play is outstanding.

When it comes to the hottest new star you can keep your Ashlee Simpsons, your Ashton Kuchters and your Johnny Damon I’m talking about the Cooper MINI convertible. Shockingly swoony and it’s something everyone can have. It’s not reserved for the Demi Moores of the world. The MINI went from being totally unknown to being an msn.com car pick in a very short time. Why you might ask and I might answer because it’s just too darn cute for words and it’s the s word (safe, really it’s very safe for such a wee bitty car) The motoring guide that the MINI folks sent me can only be described as pure, sweet, automotive porn. And is it really all that attractive? Can you say burnt orange? I knew you could.

The entire art world is feeling the loss of legend Will Eisner. Mr. Eisner was comics. The awards given every year for excellence in graphic storytelling are called the Eisner Awards. He invented the graphic novel and throughout his long life he consistently elevated sequential art to new heights. Mr. Eisner passed away on Monday, January 3, 2005 and we will miss him terribly even as we continue to benefit from the inspiration and innovations that he gave us.

Next week we’ll look at books, music and movies from 2004 including Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, One Ring Zero and Kill Bill.