2020 LIST OF LISTS (Best of the Worst Year Ever)
When I heard that Oxford had announced they would not be naming a Word of the Year for 2020, I thought, yeah, that sounds about right. What they've done, it turns out, is a bit more nuanced. You can download their report on the Words of an Unprecedented Year at the link above. Ugh—and there it is—that insipid, ubiquitous adjective: unprecedented. Of all the overused words of 2020, none quite captures the simultaneous hyperbole and understatement like "unprecedented."
If I had to pick one word, though, I think it'd be "shitshow." Is that one word?
Top 5 Covid Fails
5. Recreational shopping from eBay (i.e., China). I went on an online buying spree in March, like everyone else on the planet, but most of it didn't arrive until September or October. At least my new helmet arrived pre-crash tested.
4. Cutting my best friend's hair (Although she was very appreciative and claimed I did a fine job, she was back to cutting her own hair a week later. Luckily, I think it was more of a "loyalty mission" than actually needing someone to cut her hair.)
3. With all this time at home, there's no excuse not to get totally organized, clean out the storage locker, etc... (FAIL.)
2. With all this time at home, I'll have no excuse not to start blogging again... lol
1. DIY Brazilian bikini wax ('Nuff said)
Top 5 Covid Wins
5. DIY 3-layer masks (bonus points for using all the quilting squares I inherited from a friend's mom)
4. Distant fitness (roller skating, highrise stair climbing, hiking, YouTube)
3. Mastering five-star picnic dining (i.e., parks, beaches, mountains etc.)
2. Rock concert for four in our living room (drum kit included; bonus points for not getting evicted!)
1. Not getting COVID!
Top 10 Podcasts of 2020
- 1. The Joe Rogan Experience (even though I had to switch to Spotify to listen to it)
- 2. My Favorite Murder
- 3. Reply/All
- 4. The Wind of Change
- 5. Chameleon
- 6. Missing in Alaska
- 7. You're Wrong About
- 8. Why Are Dads...
- 9. Savage Love Cast
- 10. Stuff They Don't Want You to Know
Top 12 Shows of 2020
Thank god for prestige television.
- 1. The Boys
- 2. Schitt's Creek
- 3. The Crown
- 4. Ozark
- 5. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- 6. Utopia
- 7. The Witcher
- 8. Money Heist
- 9. Good Omens
- 10. Lucifer
- 11. 12 Monkeys
- 12. Waco
4 Good Shows I Had to Stop Watching
The Netflix algorithm doesn't seem to get me. "Recommended for you" is more like a reliable "avoid at all costs." Maybe it's because Mr. Pink and I share an account and the algorithm can't seem to reconcile one supposed individual who loves post-apocalyptic sci-fi, Ken Burns-style epic histories, international crime family dramas and political conspiracy thrillers but also seems to love fashion designer reality show and documentaries about sports... or maybe people just contain multitudes. Anyway, these shows came highly recommended not by an algorithm, but by actual friends and/or podcasters I respect and with whom I share similar tastes in most other things. I recognize the quality of these shows, and I appreciate their quirky humor and dark perspective on human nature—qualities I look for in most things, but for some reason in these shows I found them deeply depressing.
- Dead to Me
- The Good Fight
3 Terrible Shows with Great Casts
- The Hunters
8 Algorithm Mashups: Prestige TV Edition
1. Haunting of Hill House = This is Us + American Horror Story
2. Ozark = Breaking Bad + Bloodline
3. Lucifer = Castle (or Remington Steel) + Beauty and the Beast
4. The Alienist = The Knick + Ripper Street
5. American Gods = Good Omens + Hannibal
6. Utopia = Stranger Things + The Boys
7. iZombie = ZNation + Veronica Mars
8. The Witcher = Game of Thrones + Supernatural
Best Videos of 2020
Roller Skating in New York City
Between videos like this and The Listing Project (one of my favorite lists of 2020), I found ways to drown my sorrow of not being able to visit New York this year.
Satan Meets His Match
Taddy Skates "Hustle to Meowtovate"
Taddy, officially the coolest cat ever, makes my cat look like a lazy asshole.
Bad*ss GODDESSES Calendar for Astro Artists
Starzology's Alison Price, my friend and former podcasting partner, helped promote my 2021 Badass Goddesses calendar with an interview conducted through a cacophony of window washer racket.
The Next Mass Effect - Official Teaser Trailer
Released December 10, this 30-second video was a beautiful silver lining, faintly shining from a long way off, on this category five of a year...
Top 5 Games Played in 2020
The Witcher 3
I've said that Mass Effect is my favorite game franchise because of all the sex with aliens, and The Witcher is all about sex with sorceresses, so it was an obvious choice.
There's no sex in the world of Fallout, but you'll find "companions" aplenty to keep you company and fight alongside you (with varying degrees of effectiveness). Piper the idealistic, raven-haired reporter was my fave. I just like the way she looked at me. lol
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
I know, I know. Every year I seem to regress farther into the past, but this game released in 2007 for the original Xbox and barely remastered for the Xbox One is so clunky, I may have found my limit. But I'm only playing it because it's basically Mass Effect 0.0. Preceding the first game of that series by three years, it set up more than a few BioWare tropes that would be repeated in my favorite trilogy.
The Walking Dead (on my phone)
Fight List (also on my phone) got me and my friend through the first month or so of the pandemic.
Best Movies of 2020
Were there any movies of 2020? JK. Tenet? Of course, I haven't seen Tenet. I know it's streaming but I really want to see it in a theater, I just can't imagine it's safe to sit there for two hours sealed in with so many people, even "socially distant" and wearing masks... besides, who wants to wear a mask for two hours and not eat popcorn or whisper to each other about plot points? On the other hand, I really don't want going to the movies to be a thing of the past. Anyone who read my eulogy to the UA150 in Seattle knows I have a huge hole in my heart for demolished theaters of my youth, and to see the entire industry go the way of recorded music would be a tragedy for which I know I would be every bit as resentful as I would be culpable. The last great movie I saw in the theater was Blade Runner 2049 and I would have seen it in the IMAX release if it hadn't been in some godforsaken suburb.
Best 2019 Movies I Saw in 2020
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Birds of Prey (which also inspired a super fun Halloween costume)
5 Things I Missed the Most in 2020
Especially Tool—whose tour promoting their first album since 2006 was cancelled along with everything else this year—but also live bands in small clubs, like the last one we saw in February right before everything went to shit. Those tiny, dirty, hole-in-the-wall clubs located in dodgy neighborhoods between a 24-hour convenience store and a dry cleaning business were already hanging by a thread before the pandemic. They booked local bands that brought in a small but loyal and enthusiastic audience, the kind of crowds that didn't mind paying more for drinks than at the larger venues. I haven't set foot in a nightclub since February, and I don't know how many of those eccentric, awesome holes in the wall will still be around when all this is over.
Not the late-night online drunken variety or the furtive, masked hoarding of essentials that passed for shopping this year, I mean leisurely browsing, trying things on without worrying about who touched it last or how well the dressing rooms are ventilated (assuming they're even open).
Although Canada's pandemic response compared to that of the US ruled out any temptation to cross the border, which has been closed to all but essential travel since mid-March.
I never thought I'd feel nostalgic for packed nightclubs. Shivering in line waiting to get in, making small talk with the people behind you; standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of sweaty strangers waiting at the bar, having to lean in and shout a few inches away from the bartender's ear to be heard over the music, pressing through throngs of people dancing, squeezing past countless gyrating bodies on your way back to your friends and being totally fine with the fact that you might shake hands, embrace, kiss, graze knees or rub elbows with as many as a hundred people in the course of an evening. Maybe that doesn't appeal to you. Let's make it a sports stadium, movie premiere, concert or play, office holiday party, farmer's market on a Sunday morning, skating rink, Comic-con, the grand opening of your favorite fill-in-the-blank.
This year—and I know, saying it like that suggests this will all end with 2020 and we all know that isn't true—we've all been forced to strip away everything non-essential, from going to the gym, movies, games and classrooms to traveling across borders. The social circles we all took for granted—especially us introverts—were pared down to our immediate households. No more casual contact with extended family, friends, coworkers, hairdressers, church congregation; nothing outside your closest inner circle. Depending on where you live and who you know, your mileage probably varied a great deal, but most of us were forced to pare our social circles down to a handful—and likely even less than that—of only our very closest contacts, be they partners, parents, roommates or essential coworkers.
There were notable exceptions at the ends of the social spectrum, from the highest (your politicians, UFC fighters, footballers and Joe Rogan, et al) to the lowest (your homeless, your hospital workers, your incarcerated and your criminally stupid anti-maskers and Covid-deniers). Drinking and drug use predictably increased (except in places like South Africa and India where liquor stores were not deemed essential during lockdown, which caused its own equally predictable problems). Reports of domestic abuse skyrocketed; depression and suicide rates soared. Parents of school-aged children became unwilling prison wardens, or gamblers, betting on the likelihood of infection versus the emotional toll of treating their children like prisoners in their own homes. Siblings were pit against each other when their views on how best to protect elderly parents differed. Quarantine fatigue and a yearning for normality tested our emotional resiliency and the fragile bonds within our locked-down, ever-shrinking circles of trust.
In the early stages of lockdown, we were encouraged to form "pods" or "bubbles" with a small number of people outside our immediate household, a concession to human nature which probably led to the demise of more relationships than the lives it was intended to save. We were all forced to play a game of social triage, like Survivor: Quarantine Edition, ranking our acquaintances by their desirable qualities and weighing them against risk factors and antisocial tendencies. Friends and neighbors formed experimental "bubbles," only to end up fighting like polyamorous married couples over issues of physical safety vs. emotional intimacy, hashing out the rules of engagement and endless debates over who and what can be allowed inside the bubble. Symbolically, the bubble is an apt metaphor; deceptively transparent, enclosed yet permeable, inherently fragile and unstable—and always temporary. Once they burst, they're history.
Top 10 bubbles, ranked from best to worst:
1. Champagne bubbles
2. Bubble bath
3. Bubble nebula
4. Bubble wrap
5. Bubble butts
6. Bubble gum
7. Filter bubbles (thank you, Eli Pariser)
8. Bubble tea
9. Financial bubbles (e.g., tech, housing)
10. Quarantine bubbles
6 Snapshots from the Post-Covid Future
I don't know exactly when these pictures will be taken— but between mass vaccination, herd immunity, economic recovery and geopolitical stability, I just know they will be.
1. Vintage shopping, gourmet ice cream in weird flavors like jalapeno basil, drinking French Roast and bubbly with my mother south of the border.
2. Singing along and air drumming in unison with 18K other Tool fans to The Pot, Pneuma, Aenima...
3. Getting sunburned and drunk on $25 Piña Coladas at the Flamingo Go Pool before heading to the casinos where the drinks are free.
4. Sharing plates of appetizers with our besties in a packed casino, tasting each other's drinks, watching the men play Blackjack, indiscriminately pawing the slot machine screens before heading back into the sun to the next casino, chatting up showgirls posing for pictures along the way.
5. Indoor "adult night" roller skating with cheap candy and cheesy dance music from the 80s and 90s (I'd like to request "No Diggity," "None of Your Business," "Pump Up the Volume" and "Just a Girl," for starters).
6. Birthday Margaritas at Dumbo Taco uptown, selfies in Times Square, bagels in SoHo, skating in Central Park, espresso martinis at the Royalton—talking, laughing, shaking hands with every stranger we meet.
As un-fucking-precedented as 2020 was, the thing about pandemics is they don't last forever. They sweep across the population, leaving physical, emotional and economic devastation in their wake, but they leave the population stronger for having weathered the storm. "Find the positive," my mother said, and for me the positive is that it will end. And when it does, just like after the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919, what came after was the Roaring 20s. Women got the vote, glorious skyscrapers rose to undreamed-of heights, the economy boomed... well, maybe let's not focus on that one. Art deco, surrealism, the Jazz Age, flappers, bathtub gin, dance marathons, the Harlem Renaissance, talkies... So, once we can put this shitshow pandemic (and let's not forget, Trump) behind us, it will be time for the Roaring motherfucking 2020s. Bring it ON.