In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have time to write another Roundtable capping off the year. We’d be too busy for anything but rushed praise of Twilight Princess (originally slated to bow in mid-November), only able to break ourselves away long enough to celebrate its unequivocal crowning as Game of the Year.

Alas, the world is not perfect, and we now have to wait until March of 2006 for Link’s ultimate adventure. With the biggest complaint about The Wind Waker being its uneven pacing, and Miyamoto’s justification for the delay (saying that he wanted to bring fans the best possible Zelda experience), I can’t hold a grudge. When it finally comes, I have reasonably high hopes that Twilight Princess will be the finest Zelda of all time – and a serious contender for best game ever.

But it’s not like 2005 was a total wash. In the spirit of being well-rounded people with interests outside our chosen obsession, ZU’s Team of Writers brings you an eclectic look at 2005. For my part I’m going to delve into a handful of cultural artifacts that characterized the best of what I experienced this year.

Enough ado.

GAMES – Three Console Games that Did Something Special in 2005

Even without Zelda, gaming was good in 2005. I’m a one-system guy, and I have a Nintendo. I can’t offer perspective on any of the other systems, but for the cube, there were three games that totally blew me away.

Resident Evil 4: The Resident Evil franchise never struck me as particularly fun – awkward controls, fixed camera, tedious item management. The only saving grace was that it was really, truly scary. Enter RE4, fixing all the bad and improving upon the good. Forever after known as the game that reinvented survival horror, from the franchise that started it – a success story all around. From the first harrowing moment to the last, everything about this game is polished to perfection.

Peter Jackson’s King Kong: Film-based games are usually as bad as game-based films. The intersection of these two industries historically produces ugly, attic-bound children. But times change, and Peter Jackson’s King Kong gets a gold star for effort and execution. Skull Island is alive and it wants to eat you. There are no real cut-scenes to break up the action – the story is told in-game by NPC’s. Island creatures’ AI is fairly sophisticated, and the game designers wisely focused on bringing the world to life with realistic environmental puzzles and a dynamic (and educational!) food chain system. Raised the bar for future film-to-game franchises.

Killer 7: Not for everyone. In fact, I’m sure you’ll find this game on both Best Of and Worst Of lists everywhere lists are sold. I’m in the first camp. I think this game is genius. So what if it doesn’t play like your standard shooter game – with hundreds of titles using the same-****-different-day approach, Killer 7 should be awarded a metal of honor for bravery in the face of overwhelming mediocrity. Elevates the videogame to an art form – and like all good art, it polarized the audience. Here’s hoping mild sales don’t discourage this kind of outside thinking in the future.

Two words for 2006: Twilight Princess.

And another for good measure: REVOLUTION!

MOVIES – Or How Theatrical Film Became Unprofitable

Up until this November, the film industry was in trouble. Theatrical profits went down overall, and though there were a few undisputed summer hits (STAR WARS, WAR OF THE WORLDS), it was very obvious the movie-going public was staying home in droves. I’m no psychic overlord, but perhaps the two-fold reason is that 2005 was the Year of the Remake/ Sequel/ Old TV Retread, and ticket prices have never been higher. Plus the home theatre market is booming; DVDs are more successful than ever, although the whole “Mega-Ultra-Super-Edition” fad is getting old fast. Double-dipping is becoming a big problem – how many boxsets of Ghostbusters do we really need? Plus there’s the added discrepancy between what’s released in the theatre and what comes out on video. Why go to the movies when you have to wait a few months for the “real” (director’s cut) version of the film to hit DVD?

In light of this, there were still a few stellar films that I saw this year worth mentioning. Film is very subjective. Technical merits aside, films impact people on a visceral and deeply personal level, and more often than not it’s hard to justify why you like something, because you just do.

Capote: Likely not everyone’s cup of tea. Very talky. Biography about a writer for the New Yorker (Truman Capote, as channeled by Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who becomes entangled in the story of a brutal, small town Kansas multiple homicide in 1959, which later became the subject of the very first non-fiction novel, “In Cold Blood.” Capote never finished another book, and the film gives a compelling reason why. Fun fact – did you know that Harper Lee, author of the true American classic “To Kill a Mockingbird”, was one of Capote’s closest friends and his research assistant on “In Cold Blood”? Well, now you do. AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE!

Kung Fu Hustle: Wow. Epic and funny and violent and, shockingly, emotionally resonant. Great action scenes are balanced with the spirit of classic Hollywood filmmaking, broad comedy, cartoon sensibility, and deep heart. About a man who wants to be a part of the Axe Gang, a mafia influenced group dedicated to making the lives of those in a little ghetto hell just for fun and profit, much to the irritation of the residents, who are not all what they seem.

March of the Penguins: I love documentaries. While “March” isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, it’s really, really good. Especially if you like penguins. Which I do. Film examines a mating season in the lives of Emperor Penguins. And it’s all real. The most special effect is its heart. Sniff.

That’s it for film – I haven’t seen as many films this year as I normally do (see first paragraph), but of the ones I did see those three stood out as unique experiences worth sharing.

I hope 2006 sees less rehashing of tired ideas, cheaper ticket prices, a renewed enthusiasm for film as an art form and, god willing, no Zelda movie.

MUSIC – Post-rocking in the Free World

Live 8, a high-concept series of concerts held across the world to raise attention for the continued problem of poverty, AIDS and famine in Africa, was perhaps the most significant cultural event of 2005. The goal was to get the attention of the G8 nations (which include Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Russia and the United States), which it did; at the annual G8 summit, billions of dollars were pledged to the cause of bettering Africa. Now we wait to see if it was all just a lot of hot air. But the important thing to remember is that we can be heard. Well, famous musicians can be heard. If they hold a huge publicity stunt, and offer free concerts to people who’d likely pay to see them perform anyway.

Music I fell in love with this year:

Do Make Say Think – Goodbye Enemy Airship The Landlord Is Dead
Okay. I’m cheating. This album was released in 2000. But I didn’t get it until this year, and I doubt many of you will have heard of this band. So I’m cheating because I care. Toronto-based post-rock outfit. This album ranks as my unqualified Number 1 of all time. For those not up on the “post-rock” movement, think of rock songs with no rock stars, no lyrics, no possibility of radio play in a Top 40 world. Think of soundtrack music that stands on its own and you’re halfway there. Every track on this album sustains a sprawling, hot-summer kind of mood. Recommended Illicit Download: When The Day Chokes The Night

The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
Apparently, The New Pornographers are a Canadian super group, comprised of half a dozen successful Canadian artists that I’ve never heard of. I bought this album on a whim, and kept it in my CD player for a month straight. If you like heady-pop alt-rock (like Belle & Sebastian), this will kick your butt and then some. Smart songs you can tap your toes to. Recommended Illicit Download: Use It

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
Jack White spent a bit of time with Loretta Lynn last year to produce “Van Lear Rose”, a stunning country album that wasn’t like any of the recent Bras-n-Bootstraps crap. The influence shows in the fourth White Stripes album – a lot less arena rock than you’d expect. More piano and mandolin than hard edged guitar, but all of it’s great. Recommended Illicit Download: Little Ghost

You know what? I have no fears for music in 2006. Gone are the pretty-boys and pop-princesses of recent years. Instead we have The Arcade Fire. Fair trade. Bring it on.

*Note: pipking in no way endorses illicit downloading. Anymore.

There you are then – pipking’s perspective on 2005 in games, film and music. Brace yourself for the rest, and best wishes in the new year.

May 2006 bring peace; peace, above all things.


I’ve had quite the year. I always do; I like to think I’m not one to sit back and let my life live itself.

It’s a bit early to be writing this, really… the last few weeks of the year are always some of the largest for me. My eighteenth birthday is on Christmas Eve, and then there’s Christmas itself. Not to mention New Years Eve… There are still three large events before this year is over, from where I’m standing.

I have an odd tradition for New Years Eves. For the past six years (or five? I can’t keep track anymore), as the clock struck midnight, I tried my best to be laying the final blow on Ganon in Ocarina of Time. For me, the past six years have begun and ended with Zelda. It’s a very telling tradition, really. Some might find it almost disgustingly nerdy. I, however, am proud of it. Perhaps I’ll add a seventh year to the list, or perhaps not; depends on what my girlfriend wants to do.

I’ll be celebrating my birthday in a few days by going to see King Kong, for lack of anything better to do. Beforehand I’ll be going to this awesome Japanese steakhouse, called Moritomo’s. For those of you who have never been to a Japanese steakhouse, I would suggest trying it. The food tends to be great, but they also put on a show by cooking it right in front of you. They do some neat things with juggling cleavers and playing with fire and oils, I’ll say that much. Once the chef tried to toss a piece of chicken (which was delicious) into my vegetarian sister’s mouth. She wasn’t too happy about that, heh.

But I digress. This is about this past year, not the ones before it.

Me and my family just spent the evening putting up our Christmas tree, which is always an important thing for us. We’re not religious, but Christmas and the few weeks leading up to it has always been a very special time for me; I’m one of those people that gets really into the whole Christmas spirit thing.

Ahem. Yes, anyways. The year. If I don’t get going I’ll end up rambling on forever. This has been, as I said, a fantastic year for me. I met a girl I’m very much in love with, which is by far the most important thing that’s happened to me. we’ve been a couple for about half of it.

I’ve taken my karate training to a new level. I’ve been taking classes for over a decade now, but it’s only during the past year that I’ve begun truly taking it seriously. I’ve gone up from one class a week to three, four, or occasionally even five. For those wondering, we practice Shaolin Kempo Karate. I expect to finally earn my black belt during the upcoming year, and then, as they say, I can truly begin learning. And for the record, my girlfriend Jenny is only a few ranks behind me… and catching up, it seems.

It’s just over a year ago that I started working as a staff member at Zelda Legends, and I’ve been running the show there now for a large part of that. Takes lots of time, but it’s definitely worth it. Whenever I sit back and think about it, it really blows my mind; I never would have expected to webmaster the second largest Zelda fansite on the internet. When I tell people at my highschool that, if they put “Zelda” into Google, the third site on the list is mine… well, the reactions are often disbelieving. And very satisfying. I have kids I’ve never spoken to complimenting me on it, and people coming up and asking if I’m “that kid” who runs the big Zelda site. Almost every single one of them asks me if I get paid (I don’t), which always leaves me wanting to laugh and cry at the same time. Is the idea of a fansite that foreign to people?

On the academics side of things, this has been a very hectic year for me. I homeschooled most of my life, starting in 1st grade and then continuing right on up to 11th grade. This, my senior year in highschool, my final year in highschool, is also my first. I must say, I’m enjoying it quite a bit. For the social interaction more then anything else. Though I’ve found that I have a genuine interest in learning pretty much every subject I’m taking, which seems to be the exception around here.

This is also the year for sending in college applications. They recommend that you apply to several colleges, including at least two “safety” colleges that you have very good chances of being accepted in. I only applied to one: Champlain college, in Vermont. They have a one-of-a-kind video game design program, the only one that incorporates more general video game development theory and writing… most just focus on the graphics or programming side of things. The reason I’m only applying to this one is that they have exactly what I need, and they’re the only ones. If I don’t get in this year, I’d rather try again next year then go so some other college and settle for less. If I don’t get the major I want, I’ll easily get into another there. Wish me luck. I know of two of my readers, Zelda Universe visitors, who saw me mention this major in an earlier article, and then went to apply themselves. Wish them luck as well.

My year wasn’t all good, unfortunately. I will always remember this one as the year my parents stopped living together. They’re not divorced, yet, but I’ve never heard of a seperated couple that didn’t eventually divorce, and my hopes are not high.

Enough about me though. I think… Pipking, I am dissapointed in you. You mention video games, movies, and music, but not literature? For shame! Just for that, I think I’ll start with some of my book highlights of the year.

I’m primarily a fantasy or sci-fi reader. It’s the rare non-fiction that interests me, and those are primarily books on sociology or economics (closely inertwined, really) that wouldn’t be too popular here. And fiction… I find myself drawn to fantasy and sci-fi. I am of the opinion that authors who clearly have a vibrant sense of imagination and can convey that through writing are the best by far, and they have much more freedom in the sci-fi and fantasy genres then anywhere else.

Perhaps the best release of this year for me was A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin. It’s the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, which is one of two rising stars in the epic fantasy genre. A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) has an atmosphere utterly unique in the genre, at least in my (very extensive) experience. Martin conveys his vibrant vision of his world flawlessly, and he is both a brilliant and very imaginative writer. His world is well-grounded; this is not a story where main characters will live long just because they are main characters; they will die like any others. Magic and the mysterious play a role, but it is a subtle and rarely used one, often overshadowed by the more physical struggles of the men and armies involved. But the foreshadowing on the more mystical aspects of the novels is there, and I can’t wait for more books in the series. I felt the same way when I finished the third book, awhile back. For fans of fantasy novels, I recommend ASOIAF higher then any other current series. Whole-heartedly. If you haven’t already, start by reading A Game of Thrones, the first book in the series… but be warned, it’s probably something that some of our younger readers should avoid.

Many of you have heard of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, I would assume. It’s one of the oldest still going continuous story in existence. The first book was published over sixteen years ago. For those of you who are big fans, you can find me in the gaming section of wotmania.com, under the name lord-of-shadow. Anyways, the eleventh WoT book, Knife of Dreams, was released this year. I was afraid for the series after the last book, which was a huge dissapointment and some of the most worthless filler I’d ever seen, but the series is back on track. The first five or six books were some of the best I’d ever read, and easily compared to, say, A Song of Ice and Fire. The latest books have not quite lived up to that, but they’re still worth reading, especially to an addict like me.

There’s a very interesting rising author in the sci-fi/fantasy genre: China Mieville. His book are the strangest I have ever read, bringing a very wierd blend of sci-fi and fantasy to the table. Very unique, extremely unusual settings. Mieville has some of the most bizarre, original, and often grotesque ideas I have ever seen, and in most cases, I would not have believed that they could be done well. But Mieville does them not only well, but brilliantly. His latest book, Iron Council, continues this fine tradition. They’re definitely not for everyone, though.

The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the second rising star in fantasy that I mentioned earlier, while talking about ASOIAF. Written by the Canadian author Steven Erickson, there are actually five of the books already released in Canada. Here where I am, the third one, Memories of Ice, was recently released, and it’s still early on in the series. I’m a bit jealous of my Canadian counterparts. Not only do they get these books earlier, but the Canadian ones get better covers, too. We get crap covers here, and they get beautiful ones up there. The cover artist must have put up some resistance to being used in the American market, for whatever reason.

Anyways, Malazan Book of the Fallen is a very, very cool series. I haven’t actually read Memories of Ice yet, since I expect to get it for Christmas or my birthday, but from the sounds of things it’s has the same sort of things going for it that previous books had. Unlike all the other books I’ve mentioned so far, which are single, continuous stories, MBotF books are kind of stand-alone novels. They can be read out of order, for instance. BUT, as you read more of them, a very large overall plot begins to reveal itself. I’ve never seen it done quite this way before.

Erickson, like Martin, is a genius in the field of fantasy authorship. But, where Martin’s strength lies in his subtle magic and the more prominent politics and armies, Erickson glories in sorcerers and mages who can take on whole armies, and whose battles might level continents and lift mountains. Kinda like Dragon Ball Z in that regard, actually. And I hate DBZ with a passion. Actually, I tend to hate overpowered/exaggerated characters and magic with a passion as well, but Erickson has proven to me that that is only because most authors don’t know how to go about portraying it. The interplay of powerful characters, gods, demigods, mortals becoming gods or gods becoming mortals, powerful magic artifacts, armies which have learned to fight nearly invincible mages without magic of their own… It has a glorious sense of scope. It makes fascinating reading, contrary to all expectations one might have when hearing a description like this. I know if I was reading this and hadn’t read the books, the thought of such over-exaggerated power would completely turn me off, but I assure you that it’s done well. And when you get past that and into the deeper aspects of the story, like character development and some of his innovative ideas and whatnot, you’ll find that it’s an amazing piece of literature. I highly recommend it. Start with the first book, Gardens of the Moon; they only get better from there, as Erickson perfects his art.

I could go on, but I begin to lose track of which books were released when. I almost started writing a glowing review of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, but then I remembered that that was last year.

So on to video games.

Video Games
I’ll be truthful: This was a relatively unevently year for games, as far as I’m concerned. The Gamecube is dying; serious support from 1st or 3rd parties was almost non-existant. I own an Xbox and a PS2, but the Xbox is even more dead then the GC, and the PS2 is having one of it’s less than stellar years. The DS had several games that interested me, but none of them really lived up to their potential. The DS is a wonderful piece of hardware, but even a year after it’s release it doesn’t have a single great game. Kinda pathetic, really. The GBA is similar to the Xbox and GC in that it’s been abandoned by pretty much any serious 1st or 2nd party development, although you can still find crappy licensed games by the handful. And the next installments in Capcom’s disgusting overmilked Megaman Zero and Network Transmission games. Give it a rest already, Capcom. Megaman Zero was fantastic, and so was Battle Network, but five games later neither franchise has changed at all. Kinda ruins even the originals, which were so good.

The only truly great game I can think of that came out this year was Shadow of the Collossus, for the Playstation 2. You can read my full review here, if you’d like. In short: it was an atmospheric masterpiece like no other, and the gameplay was pretty good to boot.

There were other games worth playing, true. I enjoyed Dynasty Warriors 5 (PS2), Kirby’s Canvas Curse (DS), Advance Wars: DS, and Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GC)… among others which slip my mind right now. Most of my year was spent catching up on older games that I missed out on, like FFX, Rome: Total War, Final Fantasy Tactics, ICO… etc. Mostly PC, PS, and PS2 games, simply because I never really missed anything worthwhile on my GC; I got everything really worth playing as it came out.

Despite my complaints, I honestly don’t much mind the lack of great new games. Everyone should take a year to look back and appreciate games they’ve missed, like I did. The fact that I could do so without missing out on new games made it even better.

Oh, and Twilight Princess. I am glad it was delayed. Period. If Aonuma wants more time to perfect it, then give him more time. Give him all the time in the world; our game will be better for it. Though to say it may become the best Zelda game of all is taking things a bit too far, I’d say. I’m looking at you, Pipking 😉

I don’t really follow movies much. The only thing I feel strongly about in that area is that a Zelda movie would suck an infinite amount of balls. I should write an article explaining why, one of these days. Maybe.

Honestly, I can’t think of a single movie this year that had even the smallest impact on me. Perhaps the gaming arena isn’t the only one that’s having a bad year.

Music… Eh. I have nothing to really say there, either. I tend to listen to video game OST and remixes more then anything else, and there isn’t much I’m going to write about there. Although Shadow of the Collossus did have an amazing soundtrack.


I’ve found myself not being torn as much by the currents of what’s popular, this year. From a New Years’ last year where I was eagerly beginning my copy of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, I’ve found myself approaching this New Years’ with little to no interest in video games remaining.

That being said, it’s probably more of an issue of time than likes and dislikes– there are few things in the realm of video games that are more consuming than a good Zelda game, which I can tell I will be anxious for as the time draws near.

My time this year has been consumed completing my overloaded course schedule, preparing in a sense for college, and pursuing my new interests.

At ZU, I was given a moderator position. Being that one is chosen by existing moderators– who are universally an awesome group of people– I feel quite honored. Just believe me when I say the health benefits are crappy, and the pension plan is subpar.

In the world of music, the 60s power trio, Cream, reunited– Clapton’s lost his fire, Jack Bruce’s lost his voice and Ginger Baker looks like he belongs on Tales From the Crypt. Still, it’s a relatively exciting event for me, being that most of my favorite musicians are dead, or their bands have long since broken up. They’re not bad, which is to say, they’re still very good. They were exceedingly talented almost 40 years ago, and even if they only had a bit of that talent left, they’d still be better than many corporately concocted ‘artists’ of today.

In the movies, the use of established material continues. I was watching The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and as I watched the climactic final battle I wondered to myself why I hadn’t seen that idea in movies lately. On the bright side, the movie contained no inane, endlessly repeated theme, as did the movie adaptations of a certain Trilogy which shall not be named. It would be nice to see some innovation in the mainstream of movies, but it seems as if the market is just scared enough to stick merely to established material.

As far as books go, the oldies are still goodies. Yes, the new Harry Potter book came out, and like usual Rowling managed to deliever a fun and readable book, but otherwise I’ve been concentrating on older books. Where lord-of-shadow is contemplating Stephen King’s Dark Tower, I’m contemplating his On Writing— and a deal of respect my current dabblings in it have earned for him. Likewise, C.S. Lewis’ exposition of Mere Christianity is as lucid and helpful as I imagine it was when he released it decades ago, which is perhaps a point not to miss as the popular hordes flock back to reading his Chronicles of Narnia.

And back to Zelda for a moment, because I can’t resist– Lord of Shadow is absolutely right about the delay being a good thing, especially if it was the delay that impaired the Wind Waker, making it unduly short. Good things come to those who wait– here’s to a great New Year.


My year in review is bound to be less interesting and fun-filled as Bob or pip, yet it’s still my year. Unlike Bob, I’ve been getting quite a jump in the gaming department. With the creation of my very own custom-built PC, I can now enter the realm of PC gaming and note worry about horrible framerates. A GeForce 7800GTX can go far; it is worth every penny, especially when you compare it to my old GeForce MX420. What a pile of silicon crap it was. There’s a big difference between the numbers “420” and “7800”.

With that being said, I’ve rediscovered World of Warcraft (which I still play in minimum – everyone reading this article that plays on the US realm Zul’Jin must come join a party with my character Kyrias this instant) and stumbled upon F.E.A.R. and Age of Empires III. F.E.A.R., which I was wary of in my avoidance of the shooter genre, actually brought me into the field. I never thought of an FPS as having a storyline, but when you play F.E.A.R. and can have it rendered beautifully with max specs at 1600×1200 resolution, you get interested. The same goes for Age of Empires III, which is another genre I never dared to tread until I was able to play the game with the beautiful graphics and non-lagging framerates it was intended to have. Things are so much better when they’re playable; I think most gamers will agree.

That being said, I now own a Logitech G5 mouse and a G15 keyboard. And a Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty sound card. Proudly.

There wasn’t much going on in consoles, but on the DS I was having fun with Trace Memory. I’m a long time fan of the original Myst, and one of the many people who was never able to successfully finish, yet still be intrigued. I remember being a little kid running it on my Power Macintosh. I didn’t even know what Windows was at that time… since computers in schools for kids my age seemed out of the question, I never learned about Windows until late in elementary school instead of early on. Trace Memory brought me back to the days when puzzle games were all about still images and making you think. Grated that they still are, and the still images exist in their full, but let’s pretend that they didn’t for a moment. In Trace Memory, you play as a girl who has just found out that your father, previously believed to be dead, is actually alive. He asks you to meet him on Blood Edward Island, and along with the message gives you a mysterious device that so closely resembles the DS that they were able to give that away even further by calling it the DTS. The puzzles are not challenging, since it’s geared toward a younger audience, but it was so innovative with the DS that I’m still struck by how well it used all of the functions – both obvious and hidden – of the DS. They were able to use the auto-sleep function of the clamshell to allow the user to literally “stamp” down on a piece of paper with an ink stamp. They even had you, at one point, use the two screens against each other as mirrors reflecting messages onto themselves. Now that’s a way to use the DS.

The wait for the revolution, while it was exciting at first, has lost its luster. I don’t consider myself a “hardcore” gamer; I’m very moderate. I don’t play much, and when I do I make sure that it’s something I’ll really enjoy (excluding my fun video card expenses). In that light, you wouldn’t have seen me off the walls about the new Zelda game like most fans.

It does seem that this year is the year that I wrote my walkthrough for The Minish Cap, as well as a ton of other Minish Cap content. It’s funny… it feels as though it was so long ago. That was back in January, and I still haven’t stopped getting the periodic email about the game. I’m glad it’s still read, because my wrist still hurts. The 75,000+ words that went into making that walkthrough went to good use, and an even better use than I had intended. Not only did it help seemingly thousands of people, but it landed me my job on the ZU main site as the “content monkey” as Scott calls it, which led to my becoming a Super Moderator on the side.

I’ve forgotten up until now just how new of a staff member I am, and how awkward it feels again to have climbed so quickly to where I am now. It makes me feel almost unfit, though I know I have support from most people… I hope. With the owner transfer, I was given a big position on Lars’s command. I’m eternally grateful to Lars for everything he did, though I’m not sad to see him leave the site. In fact, I think that his leave was something that will benefit him for the rest of his life. He made a very wise decision, choosing education over running ZU. I commend him.

Though I’m not going anywhere – I’ve still got another two and a half years before I have to run off to college. You’re all stuck with me!

This year has been a landmark in my writing. I can’t believe that just last month I finished an entire novel, which is now being edited. I’m so proud of it, yet so disgraced by it because the prose is so sketchy. Of course, that’s what editors are for! There were some other smash-ups, such as Ry-san and the BA, which I was glad for the sake of everything didn’t grow to be too horrible. I really do wish Ry-san would come back. She was a great teacher, highly motivated, and I’ll bet anyone an entire nickel (yes, a whole nickel!) that she still is. With my semi-return to the BA because of this “incident”, I was able to write a bit more and am now working on a battle with Wielder of the Sword, which is not to prove a point, but to have fun. We’ve already defeated the point of battling each other by discussing how everything will work now. Now it’s just a test of writing skill and who can have the most fun with it.

I love writing, so much. I’d die if I couldn’t write. Even back in the beginning of ’05, I was writing. I wrote over summer vacation. I’m writing right now – it’s my ultimate medium of thoughts. I can’t stop using pipking’s word, “wordsmiths.” I use his catch phrase whenever a group writing begins. “Good luck, fellow wordsmiths.”

I’m such an artsy guy, my teachers say. I call it my Triforce of Interests. The tree arty things that intertwine together: Singing, writing, and drawing. They might look like normal gerunds (Grammar term of the day: Gerund. Gerund is a present participle of a verb. In other words, it’s an –ing word.), but to me they are a vast plane of hobbies and subcategories of said hobbies. I’ll always do all three, no matter what my eventual profession may be.

My English teacher, my new one whom I don’t like so much (Then again, I’ve never liked any English teacher I’ve had. I’ve grown to like my teacher from last year, a little.), believes me gifted and recommends a summer course in writing for gifted students. It doesn’t seem that many sixteen-year-olds are able to write as I am, and that’s a shame. I wish hat every person was able to write well, whatever their language. It’s such a wonderful skill, to be able to turn thoughts into words and words into figurative speech. You feel mysterious when you know something that the reader does not.

I can tell all of you that if anything makes me all jittery when I write, it’s when I use figurative language and literary devices. They’re something a little deeper than just saying, “Shane went for a walk and saw a tree on her way there.” You dive into the story and make things unreal, and you do it knowing that you’re fooling the reader until you tell them later. The best usage of these devices, I think, makes you read through the story a second time in order to fully understand where they came from.

I’m such a choir geek. I sing a lot. I hum in the halls. People become so annoyed with my singing, but everyone in my choir can relate – what’s wrong with having the special problem of being too musical? I’ll do anything from sing to write to copy it down to learn. Sonar, Cakewalk’s intricate invention, is the god of musical creation where I stand. I’ve brought friends over to record with Sonar and then we’d fix up their crappy (and good) playing and make it sound better. It’s so much fun to toy with filters.

Equally, it’s so much fun to go to my choir and sing. This year I was able to experience something new: I was already a member of my school’s audition-only A Capella Choir, but this year, under all of the pressure, I was accepted into the most prestigious group that our school offers, the Madrigal Choir (or simply Mads as we call it). I broke into tears when I saw it, because I was having trouble in school at the time, but now everything is alright. I’m glad I accepted the offer.

As for art, nothing particularly exciting has happened in the last year. I’m planning to take a two-year course in my junior year, but that leaves this year. The only recent revelation in my art world is the purchase of my very first Wacom Tablet. Hopefully before the New Year, though most likely not, I will be the proud owner of an Intuos3 9×12 drawing tablet for my already beefed-up computer. I look forward to creating some awesome art with it, I really do.

Books have been two: Ethan Frome and Summer. Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, was a school assigned book originally, which I finished early because I loved it so much. More importantly, it had a strong connection to an anime show I was watching at the time called Kanon. The similarities between the two were uncanny, and as I progressed in both I was awed by the connections and determined that Kanon must have been stealing from this 100-year-old gem. What brought me into Edith’s other book, Summer, was the same intrigue. Before Kanon, I had watched a show by the same studio, an anime called Air. Air was very touching, and I only recommend it to anyone who owns a box of tissues, and yet it had a relationship with Kanon. Kanon, which takes place in the winter, was connected to Ethan Frome, which also took place in the winter. Kanon also has a slight connection to Air, which takes place during the summer. Ethan Frome had, oddly enough as my English teacher pointed out to me, a connection to another book by the same author that also takes place in the summer. The book, titled for the season, is simply called Summer. As I expected, Summer is so similar to Air that it’s almost hard to believe that Air didn’t steal ideas from it! So this is my Quartet of Stories, and I’m proud to know them.

The Chronicles of Narnia
are a series I haven’t touched since elementary school, when we were assigned to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Quite a trip that book was, and now I’m thinking about purchasing the series and reading all of it, considering that up until now I’ve only read just that single book. I’m definitely seeing the movie, too. I would make a point if Bobslob hadn’t made it already – nobody can do anything original in the movies anymore, it seems. Everything is working off of something already established, and I’m getting tired of these cinematic adaptations. Not only are they sub-par to their original written counterparts (in most cases), but they discourage people from ever reading the actual book. My little brother will never read the Harry Potter series because he’d rather sit and watch the movie instead of read the book. He was able to read the first two, but now he never reads in anticipation that the movies will fill him in.

Music hasn’t shown anything amazing for me, unless you’re including my own music hobbies. Other than that, I drift through music genres and listen to what people give me, as I always have. When I’m not getting music recommendations from someone else, I’m listening to what I’ve got – a collection of anime/game music, some metal, rock, and… yah, that’s pretty much all I’ve got for now. It seems like everyone around me is either a metalhead or a classic rock fan, so I suppose there’s not a ton of variety everywhere.

Here’s to a safe and happy new year for everyone – may 2006 be filled with Twilight Princess and tons of content, and a Revolution for everyone. And even if it’s not Christmas, and even if I don’t happen to celebrate it (I’m a Chanukkah boy), let’s all have a nice glass of eggnog and relax as the ball drops. Be safe, be stress-free, and be secure. Happy New Year.