Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.
Thus far I’ve been feeling pretty good overall about 2023, and I think in many ways it’s because of the groundwork laid in 2022.
As always I reserve the right to add things as they come to me, but seeing as it’s March and no one’s getting any younger here are some of my favorite things from 2022:
Casey Neistat’s return to New York and vlogging, my Hoka running shoes, George Saunders’ Story Club, any and all content about Stoicism from Ryan Holiday, “Four Thousand Weeks — Time Management for Mere Mortals” by Oliver Burkeman, the last scene of “The Fabelmans”, the cold open and last scene of “Wakanda Forever” (pre-end credits sequences), the first hard twist of “Barbarian”, the dialogue of “Glass Onion”, Michelle Yeoh and the unexpected phenomenon of “Everything Everywhere All At Once”, the giddy experiences of watching “Everything Everywhere” and “Nope” and “Glass Onion” unfold in a theater, Angela Bassett in “Wakanda Forever”, Jennifer Connelly in “Top Gun Maverick”, Sandra Bullock in “The Lost City”, Sam Raimi getting to raise a zombie Dr. Strange at the end of “Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness”, Owen Wilson explaining a song from Camelot to Jennifer Lopez in “Marry Me”, Austin Butler in “Elvis”, Isabella Rossellini in “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”, James Cameron’s completely virtual world and the pacing of “Avatar: The Way of Water”, getting to watch the final season of “Better Call Saul” in real-time, the incredible premise and often uncomfortable execution of “The Rehearsal”, the mini-arc plotting, production design and mere existence of “Andor”, the unpredictable final season and final shot of “Atlanta”, the round summary screen of “Death Loop”, finally playing through “Spider-man” on PS5, playing through “It Takes Two” with Ben, all the great road trips taken this year to visit friends, the annual Christmas trip to California, any and all reconnecting with friends not seen since pre-Covid, Saint Lucia, visiting the FDR museum in Hyde Park, Anthony and Julie’s wedding, Vauhini’s book launch, publishing my first two humor pieces on Slackjaw, saying goodbye to Baobao as a family, the Bears’ Monday Night Football victory over the Patriots (aka the final Bears win of the year), any Eddie Jackson interception, the unexpected performance of Jack Sanborn, Justin Fields, Justin Fields, Justin Fields.
George Saunders was the single most important writer I discovered in college, and Civil Warland in Bad Decline was among the earliest story collections I read while dreaming of being a fiction writer.
So you can imagine my surprise this year when in one of his Story Club newsletters (which is excellent, by the way) he linked to a preface for the book I’d never read before, one in which he describes in loving, misty-eyed detail everything it took to write his first book. Turns out the piece was written for an edition that came out years after the one I read, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of writing I’ve discovered this year. My favorite passage:
I will forevermore, I expect, be trying to re-create the purity of that time. Having done nothing, I had nothing to lose. Having made a happy life without having achieved anything at all artistically, I found that any artistic achievement was a bonus. Having finally conceded that I wasn’t a prodigy after all, I had the total artistic freedom that is afforded only to the beginner, the doofus, the aspirant.
Here it is in its entirety. And yes, I’m mostly linking it here so I’ll have easy access to it for the rest of my life nbd.
All signs point to this season still being a rough one—our roster probably just isn’t strong enough—but WOW did it feel great to start off with this win. Here’s hoping for more pleasant surprises!
I’ll keep adding to this as I think of things but seeing as 1) it’s been a damn moment and 2) Lunar New Year is upon us let’s do a wrap-up for 2021, yeah? In many ways 2021 felt like well more than a year’s worth of material—something to be incredibly grateful for but also not something to make any sweeping statements about yet.
Regardless here are some of my favorite things from the year that was 2021:
any actual movie-going experience with friends, Kristin Stewart in “Spencer”, Mike Faist in “West Side Story”, Jason Mamoa in “Dune”, any score by Jonny Greenwood, John Chu’s direction of “In the Heights”, Lin Manual Miranda’s for “Tick,Tick…Boom!”, the groundbreaking format of “Bad Trip”, Evan Peters in “Mare of Easttown”, Jean Smart in “Hacks”, “How To” with John Wilson, William Harper Jackson and Jessica Williams in “Love Life”, the fun vibes of “Only Murders in the Building”, the production design of “Loki”, any Chase Dreams song from “The Other Two”, that Roy sibling tableau in the “Succession” Season 3 finale, the Butt Plug episode of “The Premise”, the Zillow sketch on SNL, the music and zeitgeist-seizing phenomenon of “Squid Game”, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (and any George Saunders podcast interview for that matter), Rusty Brown, that Jeremy Strong New Yorker profile, Olivia Rodrigo, “Being Alive” and “Finishing the Hat” by Stephen Sondheim, Fresh Air’s three part tribute to Stephen Sondheim, every moment of playing through Spider-man: Miles Morales, the three times I played Ring Fit Adventure, finally finishing Zelda: Breath of the Wild, playing through A Way Out with Ben, the Bears trading up to draft Justin Fields, every sack by Robert Quinn, the unexpected success of the new-look Bulls, driving around upstate for Jing’s birthday, getting this story published in The Margins, the birthday dinner at Peking Duck House, philosophical discussions over chocolate with Scott, the Peking duck at Mr. Jiu’s, wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma, the early summer dinner at Mayfield, Sean’s bachelor party, Sean and Stephanie’s wedding, exploring the Jersey Shore boardwalk, every pork roll/Taylor ham eaten, the Kusama exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden, the final set configuration of Shakespeare in the Park’s Merry Wives, the single beach trip to Fort Tilden, the monorail at the Bronx Zoo, the Katie Kitamura/Hari Kunzru outdoor reading under the bridge with Nicole, the epic dinner at Nom Wah, any moment Felicia was in New York, the late dinner at Cha Kee, seeing Stars play at Le Poisson Rouge, being able to watch a Bears-Vikings game with Kishan, eating a legit burrito with Seeyew, the Christmas dinner with relatives in Palo Alto, any pastry from Supermoon Bakehouse or Arsicault, every home cooked meal from Mom, my Airpods Pro, my iPhone 13 Pro, my iPad Pro, my PS5.
Let’s do this, 2022!
Watched this on Saturday and I’m still thinking about it.
Thanks for introducing me to the song, Casey.
Jeff VanderMeer’s post Thoughts on the Writing Process: Optimal Conditions and Tips is one of my favorite things I’ve read recently. It’s so pragmatic and honest, suffused with such a generous attitude of self-care and understanding for the writer. I love how much emphasis he places on doing everything possible to enable the magic of the subconscious storyteller.
My favorite product I bought last year was a dustbuster. No joke. And in a way, wasn’t the majority of 2015 about busting the dust of life? I wrote the most words, wrote the most code, took the most flights, took the most vacation and spent the most time in my hometown of my adult life. I went to Disneyland for the first time in two decades. I went to a feminist science fiction convention. I went to PAX in Seattle. I became an HBO subscriber. I went house-hunting in San Diego. I built a new computer in real life, and time machines in my writing life.
Still, time moves on. I’ve only managed to post a Best Of list two out of the past four years so let’s not get too precious about it. Here are some of my favorite things I remember from the year that was 2015:
It’s never a truly good fall unless there’s a good Gap campaign. Based on empirical evidence of one Gap campaign I still remember.
These new ads are directed by David Fincher and a welcome contrast to those Gone Girl shenanigans which I’ll dissect in a future post that may never happen. Here’s my fave.
God DAMN, Taylor