This was part of my upcoming year-in-review post. It got too long so I spun it off. It’s possible to consume a lot of media in a year.
(Assume links are not safe for work – I haven’t vetted all of them recently.)
The big one was Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, his stunning doorstopper about Bob Moses, which I spent months reading on and off in 2017 and 2018 before finishing. I love long books and this is a good example of a book that absolutely had to be long in order to capture the story and its central character. In addition, I read and enjoyed two Vonnegut novels (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and Cat’s Cradle) and Maureen Johnson’s young adult mystery Truly Devious.
I also read for professional growth. I reread Cal Newport’s Deep Work, which I consider the definitive book about how to do creative or technical work. I also read Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, which covers similar themes.
I spent way more time reading articles than reading books, which is typical for me. Rather than share all of them, here are some favorite articles on politics, pop culture, and tech in the past year:
- Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future
- There Are No Perfect Political Alliances, which makes a broad point in concrete terms
- OSI: The Internet that wasn’t, an invaluable IEEE article about how the Internet came to be
- Before It’s Too Late, about Harold Washington
- Software disenchantment
- Career narratives
- Insane complexity of calendrically correct date and time operations
- And on a lighter note, Luke Skywalker’s arc in Star Wars: The Last Jedi was good
In the new year I’d like to shift my balance of reading in favor of books and away from articles, but that’s not my top priority so it may not happen.
If the book list was too short, this one is probably too long. I swap out podcasts relatively often based on mood and interest, but here are some highlights:
- For political scandal, listen to all of either:
- Chris Hayes has had several good episodes on his Why Is This Happening? podcast about fundamental issues in American politics, so again I’ll give choices:
- Reply All did a lot of “greatest hits” this year, but if you want to feel weird and a little bleak about modernity I strongly recommend “All My Pets”, both parts of “The Crime Machine” (one and two), and “Negative Mount Pleasant”.
- Lovett or Leave It had some great moments, but my favorite is the food pyramid rant from this February.
- “Somnology” by Ologies teaches you about sleep. Among other things, “sleep always wins.”
- Finally, listen to any Unspooled episode based on a movie you’ve already seen – there hasn’t been a bad one yet.
Movies and TV watched
I started a classic film kick around a year ago. I’ve started with big-name classics. I was joined midway through the year by the excellent Unspooled podcast, got my heart broken by the loss of Filmstruck (I’m likely to subscribe to the Criterion Channel soon!), and came to love film and the art of film. In order to not forget, I’ve built a spreadsheet of everything I’ve seen. I’m tempted to write some movie reviews and whatnot.
Here are some movies I watched for the first time this year and especially liked – spanning genres, tones, etc. Not all fall into that “classic film” category, but as I don’t see many movies in theaters most are from before 2018. The list is roughly in the order I watched them, not a ranking:
- Citizen Kane
- Love, Simon
- Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- O.J.: Made in America
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Little Shop of Horrors
- Quiz Show
- The Iron Giant
- Duck Soup
- Bohemian Rhapsody
(Note: “here’s a list of movies I like” is a good opportunity to not tell me why I should hate them instead. 🙂 )
For film YouTube I like:
- Movies with Mikey
- Patrick H Willems
- Lindsay Ellis
- CinemaWins (not *Sins)
- Just Write
- Lessons From The Screenplay
Each of those links goes to one of my favorite of their videos.
For television, my highlights were Breaking Bad (another great opportunity: don’t tell me I should have seen this much sooner!), The Flash, and Queer Eye.
I played through all of the Kingdom Hearts series this year, my first sustained gaming experience since the Banjo series I loved as a kid. And KH is great! Looking forward with everyone else to the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 in a few weeks. For a completely different experience but one that makes use of a greater range of the capabilities of the PS4, check out Horizon Zero Dawn.
Coda: More stuff
This doesn’t really belong anywhere but it’s all stuff I liked.
- Devolver Digital sells LOOTBOXCOIN
- “Soundtrack to Titanic“
- “You Can’t Stop His Tweets”
- Jesus Christ Superstar
- The Winter Olympics!
- “Cohen Me, Cohen You”
- Michael Cohen is The Sopranos
- The Juniors in Tech newsletter
POST-SCRIPT: While compiling this post I noticed a need to diversify my sources next year. Fortunately, a nice thing about the Internet is I know I can find a lot of great content by creators of color, women, etc.