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!
Surprise, mafakkas! Despite having managed not to make a single post in 2017 I’m posting a year in review.
It goes without saying that 2017 was a roller coaster for everyone, which in my view makes it more important to highlight the good and meaningful. In addition to a wealth of personal lessons learned, 2017 was full of good stuff. I’ll update this list as more comes to me but here’s what I’ll remember most:
Any and every time the movie club got together, wandering Savannah late at night with Honmun and Pauline, the total eclipse experience in North Carolina, watching Miyazaki movies with Felicia, any night I was able to sleep in rejuvenating suburban silence, hanging out with Chris and Honmun in New York, my first bike ride in the city, every dumpling, wonton, bowl of pho or baked good consumed in Flushing, the barbecue at Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, the barbecue at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous in Memphis, the hot chicken at Prince’s in Nashville, the cheese steak at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philly, every burrito consumed in the Bay Area, any seltzer water of any flavor anywhere, the mixed doubles and womens finals at the U.S. Open, the birthday dinner at Birds of a Feather, the rooftop view of the William Vale, jazz at St. Mazie, Game of Drones trivia nights, closing down the Hi-Fi Bar and Rosamunde, wandering the Presidio with Ben and Sofia, the ingenious experience design of “Then She Fell”, the family vacation in L.A., Halloween with the queen and reaper crew, Output/drink nights with Anthony B and the old coworkers, Flash Fiction Online and Daily Science Fiction, Isaac and Saeed getting their very own talk show on Buzzfeed, the launch of Jenny’s book, crawling Austin with Nicole and Karan, driving the U.S. highways and listening to “Train Dreams” with Karan on our epic 10-state road trip, our visit to Lexington, VA, streaming games with Ben, Traghaven Whiskey Pub and upstate hiking with Karan and Anthony, wandering Chicago and staying at The Gwen with Kishan, watching old Christmas party videos with Jordan, Scott and Rebecca, the backfield tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the improved play of Kyle Fuller and Vic Fangio’s defense, the strange Nikola Mirotic resurgence, Episode 6 of “Life is Strange”, Tiffany Hadish on SNL, Willem Dafoe in The “Florida Project”, Robin Wright in “Wonder Woman”, Cate Blanchett in “Thor: Ragnorak”, Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird”, Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water”, Daisy Ridley in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, the opening scene of “Baby Driver”, Lily James in “Baby Driver”, Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”, Saoirse Ronan, Saoirse Ronan, Saoirse Ronan.
Favorite movies seen:
Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Get Out, Blade Runner: 2049, Spider-man: Homecoming, Beginners, Tokyo Story, Point Break, The Thin Blue Line, all Miyazakis watched
Favorite books read:
The Handmaid’s Tale, The Haunting of Hill House, The Demolished Man, Self-Help, Birds of America, Sour Heart, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, When Watched, Mastering Bitcoin, Brave New World, Understanding Exposure, The Everything Store
“Fake Love” and “Get It Together” by Drake, pretty much all of Lorde’s “Melodrama” but in particular “Homemade Dynamite” and “Perfect Places”, “Los Ageless” and “New York” by St. Vincent
Nintendo Switch, Canon G7 X, Nikon f/1.8G lens, Surface Pro 4, The Daily podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, Da Bears Brothers podcast, Calm, Things 3, Pocket Casts, Clash Royale, Hearthstone, mint chip Halo Top, coconut oil, Tesla Model X (not mine)
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:
Time is becoming downright relentless. One minute you’re compiling your list of favorite things from 2012, polishing it off, thinking it might even look fashionably forward to release the thing a few weeks after 2013 has begun and before you know it suddenly it’s 2014. That’s right, kids, that best of 2012 post never got published.
So to nip this thing in the bud of 2014 I present to you my favorite things from 2013 (that I’ve remembered in the past 48 hours):
Literally everything about Spike Jonze’s Her, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, Amy Adams in anything, anything put out by Annapurna Pictures, the lighting and music of Inside Llewyn Davis, those first two long takes that open Before Midnight,
You didn’t think I’d skip tradition, did you?
I’ll say this, 2011: you taught me a lot. And while the natural inclination is to shower you with nostalgic encomiums, the more truthful answer is that you were a fairly uneven year filled with highs and lows both visceral and numbing. There is, not for the first time, possibly too much to think about, but here are a few of my favorite things from the year that was 2011:
Anything written by David Foster Wallace, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, “Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” by Haruki Murakami, “100 Bullets”, “Batman: Year One”, the idea and spiritual philosophy behind Grantland, the first hour of Super 8, the cinematic styling and evocative soundtrack of Drive, Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class, Rose Byrne and Emma Stone in anything, the “Life’s a Happy Song” number from The Muppets, “Upular” by Pogo, “So Insane” by Discovery, “Brand New Shoes” by She & Him, the entire Foster the People album, my iPhone 4S, my work iPad 2, my 3rd generation Kindle, Apple TV, any coconut water I found anywhere, Philz coffee, the Blue Bottle bar at work, Mister Lew’s Win Win Bar, the bookshare at the gym of the Opera Plaza, the magazine rack at Books Inc., the super rolls at Them Ky, brunch at Brenda’s, any macaroon served by anyone anywhere, any Off the Grid or Underground Market I made it to, Derrick Rose’s Adidas commercial, the relentless Tom Thibodeau, the new and improved Jay Cutler, the ingenious storytelling mechanics of “How I Met Your Mother”, the midseason 2 finale of “The Walking Dead”, “Lie to Me”, “Archer”, the killer supporting cast of “Parks & Recreation”, season 4 of “The Wire”, Zooey Deschanel in “New Girl”, Melissa McCarthy on “Saturday Night Live”, “Game of Thrones” nights at the former house of Brad and Ben and Motts, all Netflix streaming apps, Time magazine for iPad, the redesigned UI of Path, Comic Zeal, Kindle for iPad and iPhone, Plants vs. Zombies, Jetpack Joyride, the gorgeous production values of Castleville, Final Fantasy VII on PSP, Dragonvale, the vastly improved controls for Mass Effect 2, Mark pushing the button to open the NASDAQ on the day of the IPO, the Frank Lloyd Wright tour in Chicago w/Mom and Dad, biking along the Embarcadero with Caryn, New Year’s dinner courtesy of Seeyew and Ashley, the Super Bowl party at the Potrero house with a stunning number of rabid Packers fans, Cubs vs. Giants at the company suite, Red Door Cafe w/Ben and Steven, the single trivia night I attended, the Gun Store in Las Vegas, the Asian party house at Sundance, conversations in the car with Emilio, conversations with Kishan in San Francisco, random startup parties with Anthony, watching plays written by or starring friends or friends of friends, shooting zombies and Smuggler’s Cove runs with Ben, pizzas with Caryn, drinks with Liz, comics talk with Chris and Stephen, anticipating the baked good every morning in the cafeteria at work, any time I went snowboarding, Mars Bar with the team at work, Rebecca’s Christmas party, Cathy’s birthday dinner, Thanksgiving II at Sallie and Danielle’s, Henry and Melissa’s first dance at their wedding, launching my first iOS game, reuniting with Curtis and Vee on the dance floor of the holiday party, the incredibly long summer-in-the-fall-in-San-Francisco, the mild winter in Chicago, falling asleep at night listening to Steve Jobs interviews and speeches, the brief and wondrous life of Steve Jobs.