End of 2011 Part 4 – Miscellaneous Favorites

Favorite Album – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming/M83
Runners Up: Bon Iver/Bon Iver, Helplessness Blues/Fleet Foxes, Father, Son, Holy Ghost/Girls

In a world where the phrase “epic” is often overused on pieces of art not worthy of it, M83’s latest double album is just that. EPIC. I’ve frequently had this writerly idea of the fictional interpretation of Los Angeles as a perpetual neon twilight glow spread out to the ocean. This album is that in the form of sound. This is the culmination of the best of Depeche Mode and the gaudiest French synth-pop. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was the most inspirational album to me in terms of writing this year.

Favorite Gadget – iPad 1
Runner Up: X-Box 360

I bought my iPad at the end of last year, and it has become the most used gadget I own by far. As a teacher, it is an invaluable tool for ease of access. There’s a laptop assigned to me, but that stays in one place, while the iPad lets me send the daily roll in the morning, no matter where in the room I am. When the class goes into the halls and we have to stop to wait for our turn at lunch or PE, I keep the kids quiet and focused with a Math problems app. During grade level meetings, I pull out my capacitive stylus and take handwritten notes. Best device ever.

Favorite Console Video Game: Batman: Arkham City
Runner Up: Torchlight

Much like Arkham Asylum, Arkham City makes you feel like Batman. The combat controls are perfectly smooth, so even a novice gamer can pull off amazing strings of combos. The story is very cinematic and the voice acting is perfection. It helps that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returned to voice Bats and Joker respectively. My hope is that Rocksteady Studios is given the full DC Comics license and can develop more games like this one.

Favorite App (Game): Order and Chaos Online
Runner Up: Sword and Sorcery

I was a World of Warcraft junkie from 2008-2009. Ever since I had to suspend my account to focus on school and work, I’ve an MMO itch. Gameloft, a developer notorious for simply ripping off popular console and PC franchises for the iOS, released this game in the spring and it works. Not as detailed and rich as WoW, Order and Chaos has enough customization that is provides a mobile fix for loot and level addicts like me. While it seems Blizzard will never port WoW to the iOS, this will be a welcome reprieve.

Favorite App (Non-Game): Kindle/Stanza
Runner Up: Zite/Read It Later

There’s some naysayers about the rise of the ebook, but I think its a great thing. There will always a be a market for physical books, but digital books are so much better. On my iPad, I am carrying around about 400 books. This ease of access has gotten me back into reading much more than when I was limited by one book to carry at a time. This time next year, thanks to the iPad, I’ll have a top 10 fiction list.

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