What can be said about 2005? Well, not much. Politically and culturally, little happened; the U.S. didn't go fascist like leftists had warned, and the music sucked. Looking at my life, the same can be said. My life in 2005 was stagnant and unremarkable. Most of the good things had origins in the year before. The one change you've noticed, I'm sure, is that my blog entries have been fewer and worse. The decline of me-as-blogger has been a long, drawn-out processes, and I am sure I haven't reached the bottom yet. Nevertheless, I remain committed to serving my friends list. That's why I've made this guide to the best and worst of 2005. I hope it gives you an idea on what to be looking for in the after-Christmas clearance bins as you're preparing for next year and fills you in on what I've been up to for the last year.
Like a similar post from 2003, this is a list of the best items or products that I first read, heard, saw, etc., in 2005. Most of the following were not were released or produced in 2005, in fact.
Best Fiction Book:
- The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
This book was well written and all that, of course, but its place alongside the classics of American literature was assured when Hawthorne created the greatest fictional character ever: Little Ned Higgins. That's all I'm going to say lest I ruin him for you, but please take my word and read this book and then make tons of Little Ned Higgins fan fiction plz.
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. I read only the first 166 pages because of my precarious time budgeting, but this was still probably the best book I've read all year.
The Mangy Parrot by Jose Joaquin Fernandez De Lizardi.
Best Non-Fiction Book:
- Letters of Abelard and Heloise by Abelard and Heloise.
Quick synopsis: a famous medieval French philosopher tutors a young woman, rapes her, promises to marry her, and is castrated by her infuriated uncle when he tries to back out. Abelard and Heloise are then forced into the Church, with Abelard becoming a monk and Heloise becoming a nun. Tens years after parting, she writes him a letter. The ensuing exchange is supposed to one of the great love stories of all time.
But it's really not. Maybe it's because I didn't finish the book -- far from it -- but the impression I got is that she's madly in love with him and he's just trying to let her down softly. So maybe it's not a great love story, but it is a fascinating look at Medieval Christianity (the apogee of the long human religious tradition).
- A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich. One of many delightful Christmas gifts from redacted.
- Get U Some by Madi Simmons
You can see why the cover would draw me in but, ultimately it was the track listing on back that encouraged me to lay out 25 cents for this album. Songs like "Call Me If U Will" and "Get U Some" looked too bad to pass up. We got out to the car and put on the title track. It was perfect for the hot nights and bright lights of suburban Minnesota in May. The next day we went back and bought the remaining stock: 15 "Madis".
The songs are great. Some sound like they should be in a Mario game from the early 90s. One is the acoustic equivalent of cotton candy. But there's also a darker side, as redacted discovered. A lot of the songs make Madi sound like a stalker: The song "I'm still dreaming of you" has the line "you're with me whether you know it or not" and another song (Call Me If U Will) commands, "tell your momma and daddy you're never coming home, you done found yourself a man that's never gonna leave you alone."
Best computer game:
- Hearts of Iron II
25 Best songs of 2005:
- Antique - A Meadow to Die In
- Atomic Rooster - Friday the 13th
- Billy Murray - Dixie is Dixie Once More
- Billy Murray - He'd Have to Get Under - Get Out and Get Under (to Fix Up His Automobile)
- Billy Murray - There Must Be Little Cupids...
- Black Stalin - Caribbean Unity
- Camel - Your Love is Stranger than Mine
- Camel - Lady Fantasy Medley
- Dondero High School A Capella Choir - Fox on the Run/Sunshine of Your Love
- Emerson, Lake and Palmer - I Believe in Father Christmas
- Falconer - Busted to the Floor
- Falkenbach - Vandalis
- Gentle Giant - Free Hand
- High on Fire - Baghdad
- In The Woods... - 299 796 KM S
- Jethro Tull - Hunting Girl
- Moonsorrow - Raunioilla
- Porcupine Tree - Lazarus
- Procol Harum - Conquistador
- Queen - Need Your Loving Tonight
- Sodom - Don't Walk Away
- Spaelimenninir - Verner Ravn
- Taake - Hordaland Doedskvad Part II
- Trouble - Black Shapes of Doom
- Varttina - Paivan Nousu Nostajani