Every year I write about the best albums of the year, but for this past year, I'd like to
cover the best stuff from the entire year. Of course, music is on here, as well as games,
but some other interesting stuff as well. This won't be in any particular order, but as you'll
see, 2011 was a pretty kick-ass year.
Aiden Daniel Esposito
OK, well, there's no denying this has to be atop the list. I mean, games and music are
awesome, but having my first son??? :D
I was done at 3. I wanted no more kids and was right where I wanted to be. There wasn't really any doubt
until I saw this guy while driving home one day. I never saw the faces, but I saw a man walking down the
street holding hands with his son. It was a profound moment. I felt a longing sadness...
After a fascinating sequence of events, we were pregnant with another. Some people would say it was
'meant to be', but as I don't believe in that, I just think it all worked out rather well. March and April
were day-to-day "When is it gonna happen?" On April 5th, after a long day, labor began. It was much
more subdued than with Kai. As he was born, we learned the gender the old-fashioned
way. I saw our baby was a boy. I felt a wave rush over me, however cliché that may sound. I felt
a tingle go up my body and can feel it still writing this. It was a remarkable moment. I have a baby
I'm pretty knowledgeable about music so when I was introduced to three amazing bands this year, it was
a substantial event. Skeletonwitch is the first. First off, that logo is awesome. While their
new record isn't their best, I love it and going back to Beyond The Permafrost, I'm awed by how
awesome it is. Modern yet totally retro, FAST, killer vocals and non-stop riffage = perfection IMO.
Moonsorrow is the next, and the winner of 2011's coveted 2011 Album
Of The Year. Their sound is huge and their songs are massive epics of amazingness.
Insomnium is the third. Like Skeletonwitch, their 2011 offering was not their best
album, but it was solid and introduced me to their impressive catalog. Finland has produced some
remarkable bands this past decade! (I'm talking about Kalmah, the decade's best artist)
Moonsorrow: Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
||This was my first album by Moonsorrow. I wonder if it would be my AotY had it not been. In any event,
there is little not to like about this album. Those short interludes are rather unnecessary, but other than those,
this is an impeccable album. The entire offering is a wall of perfect sound. It is an impeccable blend of keyboards,
crushing guitars, fabulous vocals, fast interludes and catchy riffage. The long, epic songs are the perfect length
and provide time to expand upon the moody, atmospheric metal goodness.
Like Moonsorrow, I got into this band a little bit later. Their sophomore effort, .neon was
awesome but it couldn't compare to the eponymous debut. As I get older (almost 36 now!), it feels as if there is
less and less that is truly new and different in the world. Is that cynicism or familiarity speaking?
Whatever it is, Lantlôs was en eye-opener. Their third release, the Agape EP is five songs
of phenomenal whatever you want to classify them as. I don't care. Post-metal, post-black, atmospheric black,
it doesn't really matter. The bass line on Bloody Lips And Paper Skin sticks with me, as do the strummed guitars,
perfectly-fit vocals and overal feel. The stark contrast with You Feel Like Memories provides one of the best
one-two punches in recent memory. I don't care to review the album here, but only to truly state it's friggin'
awesome and one of the best of 2011.
||Smartphones were around prior to 2011 and better models arrived before the end of the year. However, my wife got me
a Droid 2 in early 2011 and, as expected, it changed everything! OK, it wasn't quite so profound. However,
the thing is awesome, and it's part of why 2011 rocked.
Metallica's 30th Anniversary Shows
Just about everything about Metallica's 30th Anniversary shows in December screams "Fucking Awesome!"
The fan service, the guests, the instrumentals, the 'never-thought-they'd-play-that' songs, the whole vibe,
Mustaine! Mercyful Fate!!!
Every morning I'd check to see what they'd played after reading that amazing first setlist. Now I've
had the chance to hear them all and while some of the playing is a bit sloppy/loose, I don't care. It's
phenomenal shit. I'd go as far as to say that collectively, this set of shows must be top 5 best
shows/sets ever. In reflecting on that statement, I've revised my thoughts. These are quite possibly the
best set of shows ever. Just the fact that they played anything and everything was remarkable.
I don't know what to say. We all know they'll never recapture the best album ever era, I couldn't
wish for anything more.
The Rubik's Cube
I've written this elsewhere, but my whole life I've had a fascination with the cube and other similar puzzles.
However, I've never had the skill or ability to solve the standard 3x3 cube. It was one of those stupid things
I just wanted to be able to do before I die. Easy bucket list check! I bought a new cube, read the
instructions step-by-step and solved the damn thing. SWatching those sides match and reach a solved state
was an awesome moment. It may be stupid...but it was a minor, lifelong wish come true.
I had to at least memorize it though; if not just to say I can do it by myself. I did so, then started working on
time. I got my time down to around a minute. Then the goal was under a minute, under 50 seconds, under 45 seconds.
My record at the end of 2011 stood at just over 36 seconds. Studying F2L may help me crack the 30-second mark.
In addition to this, I got the 2x2, 4x4, 5x5, 6x6 and 7x7 cubes as well, solving them all as well. It's
just a small pleasure and something to be proud of. However, on the other hand, it was one of the coolest parts
of 2011 and a great source of joy.
More over at my CubeLog
Warm Winter Months
I hate winter, and so happiness was November being the warmest on record in many areas of Maine in 2011. One day
in December had Maine being the warmest state in the U.S. and Bangor being the warmest city! Amazing.
It's started to cool off (1 degree this morning) but I've loved the warmer climes. A minor thing, but it all
adds to a good 2011!
I found Uncharted used for $12 in a local shop and had to pick it up. Having beaten the first two games,
I was eager to try it again. They were both so phenomenal. Well, I went
through the game on Hard, then tried to beat it on Crushing to get the platinum. That was a challenge, but hearing
the familiar PS3 chime awarding me with the gold AND platinum was so worth it.
I got the GotY edition of Uncharted 2 and did the same. Having gotten the platinum for
Resident Evil 5 (also, So Good!), I was up to 3. The next would have to wait.
In the summer, I got back into playing Borderlands. Since losing my entire PS3 hard drive in the spring of 2011,
I was forced to start all over...all over on everything. However, since Borderlands is greatness
(probably need to write an article on that too), it was worth it. Getting up to level 40 wasn't bad. Those last 10
Finally, Uncharted 3 came to town and I zipped through that. Not as good as the second game, it was a lot of
fun and I played on Normal then straight to Crushing and got the platinum in just a few short weeks.
So, four platinums? Not bad for a father of four!!!
OK, so I didn't play this in 2011, so it can't officially be on this list. However, it was released
in 2011 and the game fucking rules. So...while it's not an actual part of my 2011 charts, the outrageous hours
pumped into this game in January of 2012 and beyond make it a sure thing for the 2012 list. You were warned.
Worst of 2011?
The Haunted: Unseen
Metallica & Lou Reed: Lulu
Queensryche: Whatever it's called
OK, have you listened to any of those? Do you actually disagree with me? Those are all pretty big albums
and each is unlistenable in its on way. In fact, I couldn't stomach listening to any of them straight through.
So painful. So bad.
This may not be a big deal to some, but losing my PS3 and all its data was horrible. I went without the system
for over two months and had to start from scratch. That kinda sucked.
Losing To The Tigers In The ALDS
Watching the Red Sox totally melt down was pretty sweet. Watching the Yankees stumble offensively
however, was somewhat familiar, and outright horrible. Sorry, Arod, I'm looking at you. Bases loaded K in the 7th
when we were down by 2? Down by 1 in the bottom of the 9th and another K? Turn the TV off. I'm done.
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)