My Favorite Things 2018: Everything

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My lists are all short this year and I have a long holiday break to enjoy, so I’m going to combine this year’s My Favorite Things posts into one. I hope that’s cool.

Music

I gave fewer releases a lot more attention this year. These 18-count, plus the Beatles White Album reissue and the Sirius XM station make up my music listening habits for the year.

LPs

  1. Tamino - Amir

  2. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

  3. The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

  4. Dan + Shay - Dan + Shay

  5. Pinegrove - Skylight

  6. Super American - Tequila Sunrise

  7. The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

  8. Coheed and Cambria - The Unheavenly Creatures

  9. Brockhampton - Iridescence

  10. Runaway Brother - New Pocket

  11. Ariana Grande - Sweetener

  12. Panic! at the Disco - Pray For The Wicked

  13. Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts

  14. Troye Sivan - Bloom

  15. Jagwar Twin - Subject to Flooding

  16. Glorietta - Glorietta

  17. Facing New York - Dogtown

  18. Turnstile - Time & Space

EPs

  1. Bogues - Life, Slowly

  2. Bohnes - 206: Acts I & II

  3. The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy,

  4. Third Eye Blind - Thanks For Everything

I also started building bi-monthly playlists in July. You can check them out here.

Podcasts

I joined the staff at Breaker in spring of this year. As a result, I was delivered a newsletter with my listening statistics for the year. Unfortunately, I marked every episode of every show I’d listened to up to that point as “listened,” so my results were pretty skewed.

My weekly stats tell me that I listen to ~40-55 episodes a week. That’s roughly 46 hours worth of audio streaming through my brain Monday-Friday, double speed of course, with silences skimmed off as well. Given the nature of this semester’s long and frequent commutes, I actually had to pick up some more shows to fill the time.

These are the shows I started in 2018.

Fiction:

  • The Adventure Zone (Maximum Fun) - Completed the Balance arc and experimental runs.

  • BomBARDed

  • Master Manual

  • Sandra (Gimlet)

Comedy:

  • My Brother, My Brother and Me (Maximum Fun) - Goodness these brothers are funny.

  • Bad Travel

  • Unattended Consequences

True Crime / Investigative:

  • Reveal (The Center for Investigative Reporting / PRX)

  • Uncover (CBC)

  • The Teacher’s Pet (The Australian)

  • Someone Knows Something (CBC)

  • Last Seen (WBUR / The Boston Chronicle)

  • Believed (NPR)

  • Happy Face (iHeartRadio)

  • Bundyville (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

  • Endless Thread (WBUR / Reddit)

History / Politics:

  • Order 9066 (APM Reports)

  • Remade In America with Bassem Youssef (Cafe)

  • The Wave (Podglomerate)

  • The Omnibus (iHeartRadio)

Society / Culture

  • On Being With Krista Tippett

  • Hidden Brain (NPR)

  • Without Fail (Gimlet)

Music:

  • Fader Explains (The Fader)

  • Dissect - Frank Ocean (Spotify)

  • The Undersiders (Engle)

  • Hear&See

  • Broken Record

  • Inside The Album (Atlantic Records)

Film / Books:

  • Friendly Fire (Maximum Fun)

Technology:

  • Build Your SaaS - The official Transitor.fm podcast. This is my host of choice.

I got really into the true crime narrative genre this year, as you can tell. This form of journalism caught fire in 2014, but is really starting to hit its stride. The Teacher’s Pet actually brought on a new trial for a man accused of killing his wife in the 1980’s. I burn through these shows in very short periods.

Despite the above list, I actually paired down my subscribed shows. I nixed all but one or two technology podcasts and muted interview shows that I only like to dip into occasionally. I’d like to make my subscriptions more fluid going forward.

There was one audiobook included in the mix, which took up about 2 weeks-worth of podcast listening time. That book was The Dead Zone by Stephen King which was homework for my guest appearance on the Chat Sematary Podcast.

Movies

Is it just me or did 2018 pale in comparison to 2017 as far as film is concerned? I still have some Oscar contenders to watch, but few of the 46 new films I watched have screamed “Best Picture” to me yet. I’ll gladly accept recommendations. For now, these are my personal favorites.

  1. Black Panther ✮✮✮✮

  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ✮✮✮✮

  3. Isle of Dogs ✮✮✮✮

  4. A Quiet Place ✮✮✮✮

  5. Love, Simon ✮✮✮✮

  6. Sorry To Bother You ✮✮✮✮

  7. Eighth Grade ✮✮✮✮

  8. Ready Player One ✮✮✮✮

  9. Maniac ✮✮✮✮

  10. BlacKkKlansman ✮✮✮✮

  11. Deadpool ✮✮✮½

  12. Avengers: Infinity War ✮✮✮½

  13. Solo: A Star Wars Story ✮✮✮½

  14. Mid90s ✮✮✮½

  15. Annihilation ✮✮✮½

For more of my film stats for the year, you can check out this page on my Letterboxd profile.

Television

Netflix had a good number of limited series this year, some of which were counted in my Letterboxd stats, but are repeated here.

  • Patriot (Amazon Prime Video) ✮✮✮✮✮ - Damnit, this show is really good!

  • Barry (HBO)

  • Our Cartoon President (Showtime)

  • Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime Video)

  • The Haunting Of Hill House (Netlfix)

  • Maniac (Netlfix)

  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netlfix)

  • Atypical (S2, Netlfix)

  • The Staircase (Netlfix)

  • Wild Wild Country (Netlfix)

  • Evil Genius (Netlfix)

My favorite episode of TV this year was Atlanta’s Teddy Perkins. I spent some time with the Monty Python boys via Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers. I now understand the love for Parks and Recreation.

Games

I didn’t purchase any new video games this year, but Mae and I also dropped back into Alien: Isolation, which I initially quit about 10 minutes into gameplay because I couldn’t find a silly hatch in the floor to continue. We found it this time and pushed through for another 2 hours.

Mike Comite and have started streaming some old LucasArts games on Twitch, starting with The Dig (1995).

I also played some D&D and board games with friends over Discord using Roll20 and Tabletop Simulator.

My Favorite Things 2017: Music

My Favorite Things 2017: Music

Variable Bitrate has been on a hiatus for the past year, which has taken some of the pressure off of listening to new music, which naturally means I listen to more new music.

LPs

  1. Vultures - Dead Leaves
  2. Mental Illness - Aimee Mann
  3. Stranger In The Alps - Pheobe Bridgers
  4. Freudian - Daniel Caesar
  5. WHITE NOISE - Noah Gundersen
  6. A Black Mile To The Surface - Manchester Orchestra
  7. After Laughter - Paramore
  8. Humanz - Gorillaz
  9. Melodrama - Lorde
  10. DAMN. - Kendrick Lamar
  11. Solid State - Jonathan Coulton
  12. Turn Out The Lights - Julien Baker
  13. Ctrl - SZA
  14. Harry Styles - Harry Styles
  15. Postures of Apology - Souvenirs
  16. Big Mess - Grouplove
  17. Confidently Lost / About Time - Sabrina Claudio
  18. The Search For Everything - John Mayer
  19. Life Without Sound - Cloud Nothings
  20. Saturation Trilogy - Brockhampton
  21. Apricot Princess - Rex Orange County
  22. Good Nature - Turnover
  23. 4:44 - Jay-Z
  24. Something To Tell You - HAIM
  25. Gone Now - Bleachers

EPs

  1. Deserter - Mansions
  2. Get Lost Among The Flowers - King Neptune
  3. The Velvet Face - Half Noise
  4. Saw You In A Dream - Japanese House
  5. Pictures of Vernon - Pictures of Vernon

Honorable Mentions

  • Piano Tribute to Frank Ocean - Blond Piano
  • Channel Orange: Solo Rhodes - Solo Sounds
  • Flower Boy - Tyler, The Creator
  • dont smile at me - Billie Eilish
  • Vision - Pet Symmetry
  • Strange Trails - Lord Huron
  • Coward. - Coward.
  • Into - Sonder
  • Nervous System - Julia Michaels
  • Losing - Bully
  • Mourn - Corbin
  • Painted Ruins - Grizzly Bear
  • Spin - Tigers Jaw
  • Lovely Little Lonely - The Maine
  • Pleasure - Feist
  • Gone Now - Bleachers
  • Sleep Well Beast - The National
  • MASSEDUCATION - St. Vincent
  • Pacific Daydream - Weezer

My Favorite Things 2017: Movies

In 2017, I made good on my promise to watch more movies than I did in 2016. In total, I watched 167 movies. Naturally, I watched nearly all of the Star Wars movies, some several times as needed for discussions on Bantha Fodder. I also spent a lot of time watching anime that I’ve had backed up on my Plex server for several years. My list ranking Studio Ghibli’s films is still in progress.

These are some of the movies that came out in 2017 that I enjoyed the most.

  1. The Big Sick ✮✮✮✮ ½
  2. Blade Runner ★★★★ ½
  3. Logan ✮✮✮✮½
  4. Get Out ✮✮✮✮½
  5. Coco ✮✮✮✮½
  6. Dunkirk ✮✮✮✮½
  7. Phantom Thread ✮✮✮✮½
  8. A Ghost Story ✮✮✮✮
  9. Your Name ✮✮✮✮
  10. IT ✮✮✮✮
  11. Baby Driver ✮✮✮✮
  12. Spider-Man: Homecoming ✮✮✮✮
  13. Lady Bird ✮✮✮✮
  14. Call Me By Your Name ✮✮✮✮
  15. Split ✮✮✮✮
  16. It Comes at Night ✮✮✮✮
  17. Life ✮✮✮✮
  18. Wonder Woman ✮✮✮✮
  19. Logan Lucky ✮✮✮✮
  20. Alien Covenant ✮✮✮✮

For more of my stats for the year, you can check out this page on my Letterboxd profile. You can follow me on Letterboxd here. Recommend to me your favorite films of the year on Twitter.

My Favorite Things 2017: Television

As I did last year, I spent far too much time watching television. The top of the year was spent binging Bob’s Burgers and Archer with Mae. We caught the new episodes of both Sherlock and Doctor Who. On a related note, Broadchurch returned for a second season which was oh so very good. Rick and Morty stole the show in 2017 for its insane and clever-as-ever writing. I really truly believe this has been the best run for the show so far. I rewatched Seasons 1 and 2 with Mae. I was pleased to find that she likes the show as well. The same is true for Nathan For You which I’ve been instructed to watch for years, but only just found for myself. We’ve only just begun season 1, but I haven’t openly laughed this much since my first watch through of Curb. Man Seeking Woman has really fleshed out into something wonderful with Season 3. Futurama puts me to sleep every night with a smile on my face.

Per tradition, I devoured an entire season of Silicon Valley in one sitting and somehow managed to work 4 seasons of Game Of Thrones into two or three weeks. I’m all caught up there and ready for the end. I’ll be working on Attack On Titan as we enter the new year.

This year also brought a lot of great new TV. These are my favorites.

Taboo (BBC One)

  • This show is phenomenally gripping. Tom Hardy rules.

The OA (Netlfix)

  • I mean, it’s Brit Marling. How could I not be in?

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

  • He’s back, baby.

Gunpowder (BBC One)

  • A three episode series about a plot to kill King James of Scotland. Graphic, but well shot and produced.

Twin Peaks (1990-1991) (ABC)

  • Okay, this one isn’t “new” and I have not watched the return episodes yet. I’ll get around to it.

Atypical (Netlfix)

  • After reading some takes from those more savvy in the Autism community than I, I decided that I do in fact like this show and I look forward to a second season.

American Boyband (Viceland)

  • Kevin Abstract and the Brockhampton crew got a TV show thanks to Spike Jonze. A short, but interesting look behind the scenes of the innovative rap collective.

LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures (Disney XD)

  • Not canon, but legitimately fun.

HarmonQuest (SeeSo, VRV)

  • This show has so much potential, but somehow falls short. It doesn’t look like it will be returning for a third season.

The Vietnam War (PBS)

  • A fascinating look at one of America’s worst moments in world history.

My Favorite Things 2017: Games

My Favorite Things 2017 GAMES.png

In 2016, I made an effort to play more games. Battlefront and Firewatch were must-plays. This year, the PS4 has been relegated almost entirely to “expensive BluRay player” status. This spring I got my hands on a Nintendo Switch and that took up a LOT of my time. Over 100 hours in Zelda alone (and I still haven’t beaten Gannon yet). I’ve also started playing Dungeons and Dragons with some real life friends over the Internet about once a week.1 I’ve really enjoyed that. The following list is comprised of games for my Switch or my iMac (more on this in a moment). Some are new, some are just new to me.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch, Nintendo)
  • Mario Kart (Nintendo Switch, Nintendo)
  • Sonic Adventures (Nintendo Switch, SEGA)
  • Civilization V
  • Stardew Valley

Zelda really is spectacular and one of the most immersive experiences I’ve ever had. Mario Kart is great for groups of friends or online play and has me eager for a Mario Party for the Switch. Sonic was a nostalgia buy that serves its purpose in spades. To chill, I generally pop on Stardew Valley where I have essentially zero crops, but complete access to the mines.

Civ5 was on sale through Steam recently and I picked it up. This plunged me into a week-long binge of RTS campaigns that led me to pick up Civ6 when the Mac port dropped late this fall. I’m reminded of the days I’d spend in Age of Empires, Command & Conquer: Red Alert, and related titles in the 2000s.

Civ5 was the first game I installed on my 2017 27” 5K iMac. It may not be a surprise to those who might think about these things ahead of time, but the max resolution for the game does not stand up to the capabilities of this machine. For this reason, I played windowed—which provides room for distraction. I haven’t booted Civ6 yet, but I hope I can at least get 4K there.

Oh yea, and we played a bunch of Slenderman games at Regan parties this year. Good call, Tara.

I played fewer story-based games this year, but would love your recommendations on more in line with Firewatch, Gone Home, Limbo, etc. If you have any recommendations for games I should play this year, send me a tweet.

  1. I’m a lightfoot halfling rogue with attitude named Mike Rotch, in case you were wondering. ↩︎