So, Bleach DS, despite its minor flaws, was one of the best DS games around, and definitely one of the few games that was worth importing. Treasure delivered one hell of a 2D fighting experience for a handheld like the DS, and I'm happy to see that they're doing it again. Bleach DS 2 is coming out ... umm, very soon-like. Whether it's this week, or in the next couple, I'm stoked for release, even if I won't be getting the game directly. It will definitely reach my hands at some point, but I've got to be frugal in this dangerous year for game releases, so I'll give it some time to build up to the point where I can't take it anymore.

Helping me not take it is the fully outrageous character roster. I have this lust for 2D fighting games that deliver tons of characters, and for a handheld, this is plain madness. Check out the lineup I scratched together from screen captures of the Japanese site:

I've taken the liberty of tagging the blacked-out characters that I could recognize, but, WOW. I'm going to have to actually jump on the manga soon, or I know some of those guys will be spoilers. I don't even know that many other characters in the series. There are 44 total listed there, and if that isn't all of them, my brain could very well explode.

More blog posts to follow ... hopefully sometime today. I've got to finish reading Utopia for my Fiction course, and then grab a digicam to share and flaunt the glory that is high definition.

Well, nothing new from me at this point. I'm busily scurrying along loaded with schoolwork, work-work, and other various important things. I've finally been playing Portrait of Ruin, and that's going well, as is Yakuza and Final Fantasy XII. Rogue Galaxy will be mine next week, and I'll definitely post some impressions from my initial travelings in that world. I'm trying to decide what worthwhile post I'll be making in the next couple days, but I'm still not 100% decided on what to devote my writing chops.

Until then, everyone should check out this quick feature at 1UP about the secret ninja game developers at Tose. I'm serious. Tose is actually the developer behind the occasional Resident Evil, Final Fantasy games on the GBA, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, Yoshi's Island 2, and something like 1000 other games that were otherwise credited to Nintendo, Capcom, SquareEnix, and other famous publishers. These guys are something incredible, and they actually desire to keep their affiliation with these games a secret. They're like the freaking Illuminati of game creation. Speaking of the Illuminati, they seem to be popping up everywhere, or at least ... everywhere I'm writing something.

I'm obviously in celebration mode, as my Videogames and Art paper became a mightily popular force, and thus resulted in more than 2500 visits to this here blog. Which is something like, 2480 more than it would normally receive. I hope my content is sufficiently cool enough to keep the occasional guest returning. I can only think of one possible way to celebrate this achievement.

A good, old-fashioned cockfight.

The advent of any new form of media carries with it the introduction of debate. Can film ever carry a story as well as literature? Will a soundtrack ever incite the same emotions as a symphony? As time passes, the debate settles, and the lines are drawn for that particular medium. Videogames, the relatively young form of media that they are, are still wavering amidst the debate that previously surrounded other forms of entertainment. In particular, videogames face the same difficult views that accompanied theater, and ultimately film, during their respective times of origin. While film and theater have rooted themselves within our culture, and have taken favor by those who would deem each medium a form of art, videogames still face a strong opposition. Those who feel videogames are either unworthy or unfit to be critiqued and appreciated as an art form weigh heavily on the issue, and their opinions sway an obvious majority to their cause. Unfortunately for those hoping to halt the artistic appreciation of videogames, the undeniable presence of art in all facets of videogames, be it creation, the end product, or the experience of play, proves that videogames are a new and emerging art form.

The traditional brushstroke style of Capcom’s Okami surely deserves praise as an amazing piece of artwork.

The first appearance of art within a videogame is noted before the game is even a playable product. The creation of a videogame requires the presence of an artist from as early as the concept stage. Artists contribute to key moments in the creation of a game, whether as concept artists, character artists, animators, or level designers. (McCarthy 100) Artists also deliver to more than the visual aspect of a game, as composers often deliver the sound effects and music, and occasionally a game that offers a heavily scripted narrative or numerous dialogue situations will find it requiring input from authors and screenwriters. (McCarthy 110, 120) Videogames and film share an uncanny bond in these early development stages, and most likely for that reason, some of the world’s most famous film makers are venturing into video game creation. Steven Spielberg, director of Schindler’s List and Jaws, and Peter Jackson, director of King Kong and The Lord of the Rings are two of films most beloved directors, and they’ve both entered the realm of video game creation. (Tornquist)

The unfortunate truth is that while artists may help in the creation of videogames, that doesn’t necessarily determine that games can stand their ground as an art form. Artists may also help create the layouts for newspapers, and contribute to numerous other affairs not necessarily respected as art, but that has had little impact on proving that a newspaper is a piece of art. Luckily, while a newspaper might not be deemed art-worthy by appearance, that doesn’t mean the writing contained within isn’t art. The same can be said for videogames. The inclusion of artists doesn’t necessarily demand that a game is art, but the product and content they deliver, is luckily another consideration.

The acid-trip like visuals of Rez pulse and react to the players input and the accompanying soundtrack.

The final product delivered in a videogame is literally boasting of its artwork immediately. As soon as a game is placed on the shelf, the artwork on the case captures the eye of the consumer, and ultimately the visuals of the game itself are built around delivering the most impressive product as possible. Whether a game is stylized, realistic, or abstract, videogames represent art, and they represent a new, interactive form of art. Whether or not video games succeed in enrapturing the player isn’t necessarily important, as other forms of art can also fail in enticing particular audiences. The most important effort is that they make the attempt, and that is more than enough. As Dr. Henry Jenkins, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Department, states in the preface to Nic Kelman’s Game Art:

“Video and computer games, as we currently understand them, constitute art. I emphasize the phrase, “as we currently understand them,” because there are many more critics who have been willing to see games as a potential art from, seeing there the building blocks of something great and wonderful which we will see some day. For them, games can become art when they assume serious purposes, when they become meaningful activities, when our best artists build games, when we perfect the artificial intelligence, in short, when hell freezes over.”

Kelman argues that videogames are art in all their forms, simple or complex, as game designers are gifted craftsmen who construct compelling and visually fascinating worlds deploying skills which we would see as artful if applied in any other context, and that video games are also constructing meaningful experiences which tap deep chords within our culture, in part because they are carrying on timeless functions previously associated with myths and legends. (Kelman 8-9)

The abstract premise of Katamari Damacy: The Prince of all Cosmos endeavors to literally roll up the world.

The particular praise that Kelman attributes to videogame worlds is noteworthy, yet there is an attribute of videogames that hinders their appreciation as art. That attribute is interactivity. Interactive art is a relatively newly birthed creation, and as such, it doesn’t necessarily help that video games are rarely enjoyed by anyone more than the player. Those not experiencing a videogame through gameplay are restricted in a similar fashion as those watching a film, compared to those determining the events and situations present in the game world. This notion of videogames is what allows many critics to state that they can never be a true art form.

Those same critics should reconsider, as they are forgetting the most important aspect of interactivity. Interactivity marks a crucial distinction between decidedly non-interactive mass art forms such as film, novels, and recorded music and new interactive mass art forms. (Smuts) Interactivity is actually delivering an experience, one that could possibly be more artistic in nature than any medium that has come before us to date. The experience of traversing a game world leaves a respect of all the various outlets of artwork within a game. Players are subconsciously forced to take notice of the choices made by artists at the original concept stage, those being shown in gameplay and the overall style of the game world. Then, the art contained within the overall product of the game, thus leaving them noticing the visuals, details, and story. Ultimately, the binding of these various layers of art allows videogames to define themselves as not only an art form, but through delivering a lasting, interactive experience, they could become the most important art form of the future.

In Shadow of the Colossus, players are forced to emotionally slay mythic beasts that have caused no harm.

Where videogames lead art is knowledge that no one is privy to as of yet, but it is interesting to see that they first face the same questions that have surrounded other art forms for all of history. The philosophy of art is laden with issues surrounding definition, and videogames are obviously no different. The debate surrounding games has led to the redefining of terms such as ‘interactivity’, ‘videogames’, and even ‘game’ itself. (Smuts) The weighty discussion on these terms is proving that the critics unhappy with the notion of respecting videogames as art are already facing difficulty in voicing their opinions with concrete proof.

The gaps within the academic definitions of terms like “videogame” have left scholars and philosophers with much debate still necessary to classify games as an art form, and even what particular form of art games should be considered. Are they more closely related to film, or are they similar to performance arts, such as dance? Perhaps they are more akin to competitive sports and games like diving and chess? (Smuts) Videogame creators seem content to leave this debate to those willing to participate, and some have gone as far as to deem that they are striving not for art in their creations, but for enjoyment. Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear Solid series of games, said, "Art is something that radiates the artist, the person who creates that piece of art. If 100 people walk by and a single person is captivated by whatever that piece radiates, it's art. But videogames aren't trying to capture one person. A videogame should make sure that all 100 people that play that game should enjoy the service provided by that videogame. It's something of a service. It's not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that videogame is an artistic style, a form of art." (Graft) This definition deems that games should be considered a product first, before they are deemed an art form. While Kojima may feel this way, the actual truth lies in the various examples games set forth.

Realism in games is brought to the forefront of importance in Epic’s grizzly space shooter Gears of War.

The artistic endeavors of games have spawned numerous examples of which traditional art has been called upon to continue an idea, story, or visual that was originally created within a videogame. If games aren’t worthy to be deemed art, how could they possibly carry such ramifications within the artistic world? Traditional art galleries have given forth their space to “I AM 8 BIT”, an annual art show dedicated to video games. (I AM 8 BIT) Film has been literally overrun by projects based on the worlds created within videogames, including movies based on the games Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Castlevania, and Halo, the game whose sequel Halo 2, sold $125 million worth of copies within its first 24 hours available, thus making it the single fastest selling piece of entertainment the world has ever seen. (Smith) Literature, comics, and music have also all seen their share of projects based on videogames.

The debate of videogames and art will undoubtedly wage on, regardless of the respect shown to videogames through other, more traditional forms of art. Some will forever deem videogames as mindless, and even damaging to children. Some still believe that videogames are created specifically for children and not for adults as well. As clear as some of the evidence supporting the labeling of videogames as art may be, the proponents of traditional art forms will undoubtedly face difficulty in admitting that what started with something as simple as Pong, has become much more than anyone could have ever suspected. The inclusion of art in the creation of videogames, the resulted product that showcases art and the experience of artistic integrity that results in playing videogames is all proof enough that videogames are more than the hobbies and passions of children and those who refuse to “grow up.” From the philosophers attempting to properly define “videogame,” to the swaying of the entire entertainment industry, videogames demand a certain level of respect, and hopefully, the eventual proclamation, and subsequent reward of videogames as art will fulfill this. Whether this will occur or not is undeniable. The proof is too substantial, and too promising for videogames to be stricken from academic critique. The only realistic question that can still be raised about video games being considered art, is: When?

From the birth of videogames to the very finish, Nintendo’s beloved Mario will be present to account for it all.

Works Cited:

McCarthy, David, Ste Curran, and Simon Byron. The Art of Producing Games. Boston: Course PTR, 2005.

Tornquist, Ragnar. 03 Oct 2006. 17 Nov 2006

Kelman, Nic. Game Art. New York: Assouline Publishing, 2005.

Smuts, Aaron. "Video Gams and the Philosophy of Art." Aesthetics Online. Aesthetics Online. 17 Nov 2006

Graft, Kris. "Kojima: 'Games Are Not Art'." Next Generation. 22 Jan 2006. Next Generation. 17 Nov 2006

"I AM 8 BIT." I AM 8 BIT. 4. 17 Nov 2006

Smith, David. "Halo 2 In The Sales Record Books." 1UP. 10 Nov 2004. Ziff Davis Media. 17 Nov 2006

Note: The transfer from Word document to an internet post is responsible for the removing of occasional italics and other aspects of the original work. As well as the degradation of picture quality.

The finale of my Year In Review collection of posts carries the purpose of chronicling my favorite movies from the past 12 months. I'll limit movies to films that had a theatrical run in 2006, although not necessarily in America.

Top 10 Movies

10. Silent Hill - Cybil Bennet: What the fuck? What the fuck? You saw that right? That was real? What the fuck is going on?

9. The Proposition - Jellon Lamb: [speaking about Arthur Burns] We are white men, Sir, not beasts. Oh, he sits up there in those melancholy hills; some say he sleeps in caves like a beast, slumbers deep like the Kraken. The Blacks say that he is a spirit. The Troopers will never catch him. Common force is meaningless, Mr. Murphy, as he squats up there on his impregnable perch. So I wait, Mr. Murphy. I wait.

8. Blood Diamond - Danny Archer: In America, it's bling bling. But out here it's bling bang.

7. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance - Geum-ja Lee: Listen carefully. Everyone make mistakes. But if you committed a sin, you have to make an atonement for that sin. Atonement, do you know what that means? Big Atonement for big sins. Small Atonement for small sins.

6. Brick - Brad Bramish: Hey! What are you doing here?
Brendan Frye: Just listening.
[long pause while Brad stares at him]
Brendan Frye: All right, you got me. I'm a scout for the Gophers. Been watching your game for a month, but that story right there just clenched it. You got heart kid. How soon can you be in Minneapolis?
Brad Bramish: Yeah?
Brendan Frye: Cold winters, but they got a great transit system.
Brad Bramish: Yeah?
Brendan Frye: Yeah.
Brad Bramish: Oh, yeah?
Brendan Frye: There's a thesaurus in the library. Yeah is under "Y". Go ahead, I'll wait.

5. Jesus Camp - Becky Fischer: I can go into a playground of kids that don't know anything about Christianity, lead them to the Lord in a matter of, just no time at all, and just moments later they can be seeing visions and hearing the voice of God, because they're so open. They are so usable in Christianity.

4. Casino Royale - James Bond: Now the whole world will know that you died scratching my balls!

3. V for Vendetta - Lewis Prothero: Did you like that? USA... Ulcered Sphincter of Ass-erica, I mean what else can you say? Here was a country that had everything, absolutely everything. And now, 20 years later, is what? The world's biggest leper colony. Why? Godlessness.

2. A Scanner Darkly - Fred: What does a scanner see? Into the head? Into the heart? Does it see into me? Clearly? Or darkly?

1. Nightwatch/Daywatch - Geser: ...And so it will be, until a man emerges who is meant to become the Great One. And, if he chooses the side of Light, then Light will win. But, those, to whom the truth has been revealed, say that he will choose Darkness. For it is easier to kill the Light within oneself, than to scatter the Darkness around... The prophecies are coming true.

What I Missed -

This section doesn't need an Honorable Mentions so much as it needs a realistic notation of everything I missed. My Top 10 is comprised of the movies I saw, but that doesn't mean there wasn't an outrageous selection of films that I really, really wanted to see, but wasn't able to. Such as:

Thank You For Smoking
Lucky Number Slevin
Nacho Libre
Superman Returns
Clerks II
Miami Vice
The Descent
The Illusionist
Snakes on a Plane
The Protector
The Last King of Scotland
The Queen
The Departed
Flags of our Fathers
The Prestige
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Stranger Than Fiction
The Fountain
Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny
Rocky Balboa
Curse of the Golden Flower
Children of Men
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Half Nelson
Big Bang Love, Juvenile A
An Inconvenient Truth
Peaceful Warrior
The Host
Rampo Noir
Tekkon Kinkreet
The Science of Sleep
The U.S. Versus John Lennon
Wassup Rockers

So ... obviously my list isn't a very complete one. I can't wait to see all of the movies listed above, and probably everything else that I haven't realized I missed yet. The only movies I can think of that I failed to give a mention to, because I saw them but they weren't quite good enough, were Pirates of the Caribean: Dead Man's Chest, and the Beastie Boys' concert documentary Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That. Which actually, considering I don't particularly like their music, was really cool.

I originally wanted to go ahead and list the best DVDs of the year as well, but considering I don't really own many of the best DVD packages that come to my mind from 2006, it's probably not a very valid list. Obviously, my number one selection would be Criterion's 3-Disc repackaging of Seven Samurai and below that would be the Oldboy Special Edition, the M*A*S*H Martinis and Medicine Collection, and probably the 5-Disc release of Dust Devil, a cult horror classic. Not to mention the super Superman Ultimate Collection, the outrageous Patlabor Limited Editions (Patlabor 2 here), an actual monkey, a movie that actually became good only when it was released on DVD (the second time), and, well, the largest and greatest box set ever conceived.

The onslaught of 2006 recollections continues as I take the time to remember what anime particularly piqued my interest this year. Anime in particular, is something where I might be citing something I enjoyed this year, but was actually a little older. Bear with me guys ... I'm old, and we old people, we forget things.

Top 5 Anime

5. Basilisk - Basilisk is something of an ancient tale in Japan, and seeing as the anime is told also in the novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, and the movie Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, it is something that is crazy popular in Japan. Think Grimm's fairy tales, but with ninja that have outrageous abilities. Like eyes that can cause your opponents to murder themselves. So. Hardcore.

4. XXXHoliC - I didn't exactly understand the Clamp world before I started watching the xxxHoliC anime, and in truth, I probably didn't afterwards either. Clamp manga are based on passing characters from one series to the next, and this anime, interestingly skipped most of that. Regardless, it was a well rounded and enjoyable anime to watch, and I never did get to see the culmination of the series.

3. Death Note - My favorite manga series? Absolutely. My favorite manga series translated accurately into a television series with good artwork and an impressive style? Absolutely.

2. Ergo Proxy - I'm guilty of criminally underwatching this series, and I promise it will be dealt with very soon. However, from what I did watch, Ergo Proxy is one of the most intelligent series since Stand Alone Complex, one of the most mysterious since Monster, and the action was about as fantastic as anything on par with a Shonen Jump action epic. Definitely something to be appreciated.

1. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya - It need not be said again.

Too little and too late -

Series that I've recently started watching like Air Gear and Coyote Ragtime Show are unfortunately a little late to be added to this list, and while I'm making up excuses. I've honestly no idea what anime will be coming out in 2007, so I'll be leaving that one void as well.

Looking back at videogames in 2006 is almost like standing directly in front of an oncoming train. It's a little overwhelming. Console launches, relaunches, and the stellar games for existing platforms makes for a boatload of games to remember. For the purposes of my Year in Review, I'll naturally limit myself to games I experienced. Although, some were good enough to make the list while I didn't necessarily finish them ... yet.

Top 10 - Games

10. N3: Ninety-Nine Nights - 360 - I fail to understand how people can dig on the hack 'n' slash genre, when games like N3 can make it so damned enjoyable. The style was incredible, the character designs perfect, and mashing buttons mostly never felt so good. Only the shite save system, and less than impressive voice acting hurt this release in my mind, well, that and Mizuguchi really could have done a little more with the music. Also, let us not forget Inphyy's smoking hot.

9. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter - 360 - The first game to make me feel like my 360 was actually next generation, Ghost Recon delivered the goods in an impressive way. I'll let everyone in on a secret that I've been saving so as to not spoil the moment for a long time. This part WILL incite a pissing of the pants. If for nothing else, Ghost Recon should be commended for proving that 360 games don't need to be so damned shiny.

8. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 360 - Rounding out this series of 360 titles, Elder Scrolls IV was a little dangerous for me when it was released. I racked something like 60 hours in a couple weeks, and I was amazed at damn near everything in the game world. Ultimately, my own aversion to first-person combat in RPG's, as well as the feeling I got for wasting so much time in such an open-ended environment caused me to abandon the game, but that doesn't mean I don't understand why it topped so many lists this year.

7. Elite Beat Agents - NDS - The redheaded stepchild of Ouendan, Elite Beat Agents never fails in capturing the same gameplay and occasionally the same charm of the original. It's also a landmark in terms of what importers can do to the game industry. I NEED to keep playing through this guy, and hopefully be ready if Nintendo decides that rhythm games of this nature are going to be a mainstay on the DS.

6. Disgaea 2 - PS2 - The return of charming, hilarious, never-ending tactical battles was something to take note of. Disgaea 2 sacrificed some of the comedy of the first, but charged ahead with better graphics, more character types, depth, and a nice string of cameos. The game wasn't perfect, and I could feel its flaws as I traversed the Item World for the 100th time, but nothing in particular caused me to ever feel like I needed to put the controller down.

5. New Super Mario Bros. - NDS - This may or may not be true, but I'm a firm believer that the success of NSMB is totally the reason we're seeing new 2D sidescrollers for Kirby, Yoshi, Wario, and Metroid. Wait, did I say Metroid? Pfft ... you know it's coming. This game rocked the house down, and was the single inspiring factor for the DS Lite, the first portable I'd owned since OG Game Boy, reaching my hands.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - WII - Sacrilege! I know leaving this monster of a game as far back as Number 4 is enough to cause the riots to return to Watts, but it unfortunately must be done. I have a strange disease that allows me to put Zelda games on hiatus, no matter their stellar quality. I've been suffering from it since Ocarina of Time, and I hope I find a cure sometime soon. Regardless, I feel the grandeur of everything I've played to date, and I still feel this is the most realistic position. Please ... don't maim me.

3. Final Fantasy XII - PS2 - I'll be the first to admit it: Final Fantasy XII is kicking my ass. I took some time off to explore the Wii, returned to Ivalice, and still find myself consistently being thwarted by the difficulty of this game. Each boss battle takes a serious toll on my wellbeing, and while I actually live through most of them, the constant struggle is righteously exhilarating. The only real issue I have with the entire experience is that Vaan is NOT a main character. Balthier, the pimptacular James Bond of Ivalice, he should be the focus of all storyline events and dialog.

2. Gears of War - 360 - What can I say that hasn't been said? Microsoft needed something to tide gamers over until Halo 3, they needed a shooter that could prove to people what the 360 was really capable of. This was it, and so much more. Gears of War could have been the best game I played this year, it was really, really close. I only needed a little more and I'd have handed the award over with smiles. Five more hours of gameplay, and I'd be one happy COG.

1. Okami - PS2 - Okami is Zelda done better than Zelda. It's only about 1/3 game, 1/3 story, and 10/3 masterpiece. Trust me ... I double-checked the math. I crammed forty hours of gameplay into something around a week, as if Okami was my full-time job when it was released. Maybe it's my love for wolves, traditional Japan, ...maybe my appreciation of artwork. I'm not sure what exactly propels Okami into legendary status in my mind, but whatever it is, it's there. Okami is my game of the year for 2006, and it's important to say that while we'll definitely see Final Fantasy XIII, the next Zelda, and something else in the Gears timeline, Clover Studios is closed for good, and that makes Okami a once in a lifetime title.

Honorable Mentions -

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence - PS2
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin - NDS
Megaman ZX - NDS
Contact - NDS
Yakuza - PS2
Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting - 360 (Live Arcade)

What I'm Looking Forward To In 2007 -

Actually, I'll be making an entire separate post for this list, and expect it after I've wrapped up all the other categories that 2006 still holds.

Top 10 - Music

1. Matisyahu - Youth - Album of the year? I can see where some might disagree, but Matis's particular style just speaks volumes to me. Reggae has always been a genre that I enjoyed, but Matisyahu explores it with nice slivers of hip-hop and rock peppered along the way. Standout track: "Late Night in Zion"

2. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere - The return of soul at the hands of Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo is easily one of the most unique albums in years. There's not one song to skip on this entire release. Standout track: "Storm Coming"

3. The Decemberists - Crane Wife - Not quite as catchy as the other Decemberists albums, this release changes things up by becoming deeper, richer, and a plain beautiful release. Standout track: "The Crane Wife 1 and 2"

4. Tom Waits - Orphans - It's three entire albums of new, rare, and other tracks that span the entire musical career of Tom Waits. Not for everyone, but this served as my primer to the entire experience. However, no track is yet to claim my preference. Waits' growl is as good on Bawlers, as it is on Brawlers, as it is on Bastards.

5. Joanna Newsome - Ys - Joanna Newsome created an album composed of herself, her professional harp playing skills, and five songs that measured over 50 minutes in length. She also enjoys dressing up in medieval garb. I could listen to this disc everyday until I died, and I'd never be tired of the soundscapes, or the charming lyrics. Her occasional squeak is one of the best parts. Standout track: "Monkey & Bear"

6. Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor - Jay Z is particularly good at signing lyricists to his record company that are better than he ever was, or will be. Lupe Fiasco is such a person, and his music consistently delivers. He could be considered the second iteration of Kanye West, or "rap for white people," but I like to think he's just a rapper that's more like me. Less hard, and more heart. Standout track: "The Instrumental"

7. K-os - Atlantis (Hymns for Disco) - Atlantis is almost difficult to explain. It's an album that serves up a beautiful mix of reggae, acoustic guitar, and soft-spoken lyrics. It's meant to bring about this positive feeling, but I can't help but find my self chilling into an absolute mellow state when listening. Standout track: "highway 7"

8. Lyrics Born - Same Shit, Different Day (2005) - The only album that slipped onto this list from 2005, Lyrics Born is a recent discovery. He is an Asian-American/Italian rapper with a voice strangely reminiscient of Tone Loc. Except for of course the fact that he's good, and his lyrical talents can shatter bones and melt faces. This is no joke. Standout track: "Do That There"

9. Knife - Silent Shout - Hmm... Silent Shout by Knife was Pitchfork's album of the year, and I can definitely see why. It's an exploration of awkward pop music, with ample lyrics, but it's the beats that make this album standout. Think background music for an album performed by the Blue Man Group. Definitely unique. Standout track: "From Off to On"

10. Brand New - The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me - I'd call this the only "rock" album to make my list, and it's outrageous because I'm a damned rocker. In a year littered with rock music letdowns, an "emo" band is the only delivery of pure rock goodness that I can come up with. Even amidst all the crying, Brand New takes the time to melt some fools with solid riffs and even better lyrics. Standout track: "Deguasser"

Honorable Mentions -

Cat Power - The Greatest
Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
Nas - Hip Hop is Dead
Yusuf Islam - An Other Cup
Wolfmother - Wolfmother
Subtle - For Hero:For Fool

Dissapointments in 2006 -

...and there were so many. Rock just decided to take a break this year, as albums from NIN, and TOOL, my two favorite rock groups, both were less what could be expected from their respective 10 and 5 year waiting periods. Lucero also delivered an album that was a departure from their previous catalog, and as such, pretty much a waste of time.

Looking forward to in (early) 2007 -

I'm not sure yet what we'll be expecting from the musical 2007, but within the coming months releases from Air, and Arcade Fire at least blips on the radar. Bright Eyes apparently has something scheduled for the coming months, and a new Modest Mouse album is peeking somewhere over the horizon, and that is something to be anticipated.

It is with much trepidation that I begin this post that could so quickly become earth shattering in length. 2006 was a fantastic year, and I indulged in countless good things through these 365 days. To try and recap all of them in some quaint Top 10's and Top 5's is obviously futile, but because I'm partly stupid, and partly bored, I'll do it anyways. Here is my Review of 2006, naturally limited to only the releases/objects I was able to explore. If some of my choices bleed backwards into 2005, please note: I occasionally experience things a little late. Well, because there are so many things.

In order to hopefully make this quicker, I'll be doing each segment as it's own post. Enjoy!

Monkeys for Peace!

I've said it before: If each person in the world owned a tiny monkey, there would be no war.

I love monkeys. An update with purpose is soon to follow. I apologize for allowing the Holidaze to let my Blog wither.

The Zenspace Chronicles | It's The Sex.