- No Time to Die (10/9)
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings (9/26)
- Blue Bayou ( (9/21)
- The Card Counter (9/12)
- Black Widow (2nd x)(8/2)
- Black Widow (7/23)
- Fast 9 (6/29)
Things I liked about this movie in order of liking them the most:
- The soundtrack. (Mostly the rap.)
- The floating lanterns scene.
- Auntie Nan, Mom, and eventually Shawn’s fighting style.
- The “animals” we’ll call them.
- The videotape dude on the bus.
- The grandma at the beginning.
- The almost complete lack of food scenes (they eat twice in the entire movie?).
- The archery instructor.
As you can see, this movie was very badly titled since that character is not even in the top 10 reasons to see it. It’s most definitely just as much Katy and Xialing’s movie / story / journey as it is his. So while Marvel is getting maybe a little less racist (I mean, a little, there’s miles yet to go), they’re really not getting any less sexist. (This really goes for all movies, right?)
ETA: I must also point you to this New York Times review and say while it was an enjoyable way to spend two hours with a headache on a Sunday afternoon, this movie did not greatly improve my general thoughts about Marvel movies, superhero movies, cultural appropriation in Hollywood movies, or anything else. Heh.
- John Legend (Ravinia) (9/6)
Watching: The O-G CSI. I started back at the very, very beginning. HA. It’s wild how many episodes I’ve randomly seen surrounded by others I don’t remember at all. The joy of rewatching an old show like this is the constant popping up in the extras–people who are NOW famous who often were no one then. Oh wait–Voodoo Tatum! OMG a young Blake Lively! Oh look it’s the grandpa from Everwood. I mean, you always know that person is going to be either the killer or the victim. Also I am SO EXCITED to be back in movie theaters and last week I saw the quite odd, definitely disturbing, yet oddly compelling The Card Collector.
Reading: I am really burning through books these days now that I’m back on the bus AND modeling 15 minutes of silent reading for my students in three different classes. I’m up to 104 for the year, already past my annual goal. Some recent hits (linking to my Goodreads reviews) are Ladyparts, The Second Rebel and The Women of Troy. I’m also WAY back into poetry right now.
Listening to: I was listening to tunes every morning on the bus, but my latest refurbished iPod decided to die so I’ve been bereft for about a week. However, until that point I was REALLY into the new Big Red Machine, an EP by a band called Pronoun, the latest Liz Phair, lots of singles/EP releases from Yoke Lore, and I am also currently, bizarrely obsessed with the song “If I drink this beer” by Will Chase (as Luke Wheeler on Nashville, which I rewatched all of in July/August).
Writing: Lesson plans. Wasting time spelling out the 97 steps I already know how to do to teach what I need to teach. What a waste of veteran teacher time. I will admit, I think they should be required of new teachers. Lesson plans were very helpful to me the first few years, especially if I needed ideas to fill extra time (paralyzing!), or really know what I was going to teach. And if you had a mentor teacher, they gave you a base to start from. You could use them for reflection: what worked, what didn’t, Now I already know how to do all of that and it’s so stupid to have to write them out, especially when it’s become very clear that NO ONE is actually reading them.etc.
Cooking / Eating: Mid-school year, the cooking gets to be such a drag. I do it every weekend so that I keep adding to the options for my lunches, rotating through the freezer, but it’s so much more drudgery than it feels during the summer! Here’s a couple yummy recipes I added to the rotation in 2021. Also I have become OBSESSED with Magic Spoon cereal. I have all the but the newest flavors. My favorites are: 1) Fruity; 2) Frosty; 3) Cinnamon; 4) a tie between Blueberry and Strawberry; 5) Cookies & Cream. I did not like the peanut butter which kinda bummed me out but OH WELL I will just eat peanut butter on toast. Heh.
Drinking: I’ve gotten really into V-8 over the past week. Huh.
Sewing: New masks. I have a few other things cut out but I haven’t gotten to them.
Quilting: Thinking about it, but not doing it.
What’re YOU up to? 🙂
Possibly (probably) the album of the summer for me. Go check it out.
Here are some shows you should watch!
- The Looming Tower — (Hulu) One season! I don’t 100% understand why all the salacious details of John O’Neill’s life were such a focus (and no one else?), but I really enjoyed this. All the acting was pretty great. Also, gee, I guess if we need to blame anyone for the breakdowns that led to 9/11, it’s pretty clear from this series which agency was at fault! (HINT: It’s not the FBI!)
- Giri / Haji — (Netflix) Only one season, but I have my fingers crossed for more! Two Japanese brothers–one becomes a cop, one becomes a gangster. The cop is charged with going to London to apprehend his brother. There’s a sweet English lady detective (HA that cracked me up to write, so I will ignore the sexism for the sake of the laugh) that gets involved. It was so good. I loved it.
- Episodes — (Netflix) Five seasons, but they’re only 7-9 episodes each (so basically one weekend, AM I RIGHT). This series is hilarious for any number of reasons, including the main theme which is Americans take everything British and then mess it up. Also: Matt LeBlanc is SUCH a better actor than a Friends’ fan (or a Friends’ hater) would ever know and it’s a DAMN SHAME that he has not been in really anything else of notice. He’s fantastic here.
- The Unicorn — (Season 1 on Netflix; season 2 on Paramount Plus) Is there anything Walt Goggins can’t do? It’s a little sappy, a little predictable, and maybe a little annoying if you don’t give a shit about little kids, marriages, couples that are friends, etc. BUT WALT GOGGINS IS SO GOOD. Also his fellow-Justified alum Natalie Zea shows up in the second season and she’s just as fabulous and electric here as she was there.
Finally! The post you’ve all been waiting for. Obvi.
My Favorite Albums:
- Perfume Genius “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately” (May) Oh my, this album. Falsetto swoony dramatics can be hit or miss for me, but I absolutely loved this. Favorite songs: “Jason,” “Nothing at All,” and “Some Dream.”
- William Prince “Reliever” (February) This deep voice of calmness was so soothing. I guess this is labeled as country. If you like Eddie Vedder’s solo stuff, you might like this. Favorite songs: “Always Have What We Had” (with the best line “I can miss you from anywhere” SWOON) and “That’s All I’ll Ever Become.”
- Ethan Gruska “En Garde” (February) don’t know what made me pick this one up (maybe the collab with Phoebe Bridgers?), but it stuck in my head. It’s certainly got a bit of an Elliott Smith vibe which turns out to be the kind of sound I was seeking all year long. Perfect for a melancholy “OMG it’s the end of the world” year like 2020, am I right? Favorite songs: “On the Outside,” “Enough for Now” (w/ PB), “Teenage Drug” one of my favorite songs of the year for sure.
- Phoebe Bridgers “Punisher” (July) Speaking of Elliott Smith vibes… I wrote ‘Yup, yup, yup” next to pretty much every song on this album. I know this was Taylor Swift’s year to many people (and I do like both those albums enough to have them on my top 10) but I will maintain that this album and the HAIM release (below) are JUST AS GOOD, if not… better? Heh. Don’t come at me, Swiftees, I’m allowed to have a different opinion than you! Favorite songs: “Moon Song”, “Graceland Too”, “Kyoto”… And all the rest of them. Ha.
- HAIM “Women In Music Pt III” (July) Do I own or know anything about parts 1 and 2, if those indeed exist? Nope, I don’t, but this album just really dug its way in to my eardrums. There’s all kinds of musical nods happening in the backgrounds, it’s so upbeat and fun in a LOT of ways. There are several songs with just a great! beat! on this album. What fun. Favorite songs: “Los Angeles,” “The Steps”, “I Know Alone”, “Up from a Dream” “Don’t Wanna”, “All That Ever Mattered”, “Now I’m In It.”
- The Weeknd “After Hours” (April) Cringe. Some of his lyrics are so misogynistic, I don’t think I’d love my teenage daughter getting obsessed with his music. Those are probably all the songs I like the best HAHAHAHA OMG life is frustrating. I just… always love every album he puts out and then one day I find myself analyzing the lyrics I’m singing along to and get annoyed. Oh well. Such is life. Sometimes great songs have shitty messages. Music is complicated like that. Favorite songs: “Hardest to Love”, “Heartless”, “In Your Eyes”.
- Kesha “High Road” (February) I had never bought a Kesha / Ke$ha album before but this one was totally worth it. TOTALLY. A wild mix of upbeat rock and pop, melancholy country, it’s up, it’s down, it’s all over the place. Favorite songs: “Cowboy Blues” (“Did I fuck my whole life up?”), “High Road,” “Birthday Suit” (so ridic), and “Resentment” (w/ Brian Wilson and Sturgill Simpson, of all people).
- Waxahatchee “Saint Cloud” (April) Pretty sure Busy Phillips’ instagram stories put this on my radar as I’ve never really been a Waxahatchee fan in the past. This album has what is definitely a contender for song of the year: “Fire”. I take it for granted / If I could love you unconditionally / I could iron out the edges of the darkest sky / For some of us it ain’t enough / It ain’t enough. Cannot stop listening to it, singing it, humming it, getting lost in its chorus. It’s 2020’s Maggie Roger’s “Alaska.” Other favorites: “Lilacs” (so Dylanesque) and “Hell.”
- Taylor Swift “Folklore” (July) OK are the “Cardigan” commercials not cracking everyone else up at this point? I mean, it seems insane months (and another album) later to suddenly see them a million times every Hulu show I watch. Heh. Favorite songs: “Exile” (feat Bon Iver) duh, “Seven,” “This Is Me Trying,” “Invisible String”, and “Mad Woman.”
- Taylor Swift “Evermore” (December) Seriously, if this album was just the song “Ivy” in every single position, I would love it just as much. SONG OF THE YEAR, people, song of the whole damn year. Oh, goddamn, my pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand. But, sure, there are others I liked. I guess. Favorite songs: “Willow,” “Champagne Problems,” “No Body, No Crime” (feat HAIM), “Dorothea,” and “Coney Island (feat The National).
- Little Big Town “Nightfall” (February) In keeping the favorite list to 10, Waxahatchee knocked this one off. But there are a ton of songs on this album that really *really* stuck with me. Favorite songs: “Questions” and “The Daughters” might be the best back to back on an album all year.
- BLACKSTARKIDS “Whatever, Man” (November) Oh wow, I dig this one. But.. I got it in November and then didn’t really start listening to it until 2021. Heh. I am always up for trying albums recommended by Hanif Abdurraqibb because his writing about music just sucks me in! But a lot of times it turns out I don’t hear what he heard in it. This one, however, is aces. Favorite song: “Camp Whatever” Haven’t felt alive in a while, but I’m not dead.
Best 1-2 Punch of the Year:
“WAP” Cardi B. & Megan Thee Stallion to be followed immediately by “Watermelon Sugar” Harry Styles. I know, what are we-teenagers? Just take my word for it.
Favorite Songs Not From Aforementioned Albums:
- “Conversations in the Dark” John Legend – just all kinds of big swoony love for this tribute to CT.
- “No Time for Love Like Now” Michael Stipe – definitely my favorite song of those early Pandemic days. Ah, those early Pandemic days.
- “Hard to Forget” Sam Hunt – yes, I love his cheesy sappy fratboy albums. But never all the way through. This song though…
- “Another Beginning” Joshua Radin – can he even write a bad song?
- “Kings & Queens” Ava Max – just put this baby on repeat.
- “One More Second” and “Take Me Out of Town” Matt Berninger – I was bummed to not really enjoy this album overall but loved these two.
- “Ridiin’ Solo” Jason DeRulo – I think this may have come out some other year but 2020 is the year I could not stop singing it, like, basically, ever. It’s all about the beat, baby.
- “Wasted Youth” Diana Gordon – oooooo love this draggy slow swirl.
- “Almost Home” Moby (feat Damien Jurado – OMG so Bon Iver.
- “I’m the One” DJ Khaled (feat. Justin Bieber et al) – Good grief, I like a song with Justin Beiber on it? Just bury me in shame.
- “Spiral” Pinegrove – Another Busy Phillips insta earworm. “Drink water, good morning…”
- “Video Games” and “Goodbye to All That” Sufjan Stevens – another album I found myself disappointedly uninterested in. Sigh. I love so much of Sufjan’s stuff, but somehow I never found a way in with this one.
- “Cavalry” Mashrou’ Leila – an album recommended by YA author Abdi Nazemian, thoroughly enjoyed it and this song was the real standout for me.
- “Beige” and “Goodpain” Yoke Lore – their Goodpain EP was a highlight.
- “Gone Gone/Thank You” Tyler, the Creator – probably came out in 2019 but I bought the album in January, one of my “everyone had this on last year’s list” purchases, I think.
- “Pictures” Asgeir – I buy a lot of singles when I hear them in a movie, on a TV show, or on a commercial. Presumably that’s how I found this one.
- “Lost Here” Fauntella Crow – probably same.
Favorite Covers: (in that rare year where I bought very few!):
- “Explain It to Me” Squirrel Flower – Liz Phair cover, that frankly sounds very close to the original. Heh.
- “I’m on Fire” Staves – all slowed down and glorious.
- “Put Your Records On” Ritt Momney – omg the name of this band. Smacks forehead.
What’d I miss? What song or album could YOU not stop listening to in 2020? I’d love to know…
1 time I saw my parents in person.
2 small quilts finished.
3 ways I now cook salmon at home.
4 bike rides I went on this summer.
5 friends I now play D&D remotely with.
6 placemats I made for Natalie.
7 dresses and tunics I sewed this year.
8 pies I made from scratch this summer.
I never managed to come up with anything for 9 & 10! HA!
Watching: Every old episode of NCIS–ha! I started at season 1 at some point in December and now I’m up to season 11. I’ve got to say the post-Ziva episodes are…not great. But I had forgotten about Ellie Bishop and I really like her, so we’ll see.
Reading: I am in my usual “attempt to read every book that will be in the Tournament of Books in March” flurry of January reading. I had already read “Sharks in the Time of Saviors” by Kawaii Strong Washburn (LOVED IT! Mythic) and “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi (didn’t love it, recommend her previous book “Homegoing”!). I have now also read “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride (so good! lots of slapstick while still going super deep) and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (fabulous). I started “We Ride Upon Sticks” by Quan Barry last night. It’s entertaining but a little uneven.
Listening to: I am re-listening to every single piece of music I bought in 2020 because I KNOW you are eagerly anticipating a report back on my favorite albums. I think I’m in March right now because I keep getting distracted. But it’s on my list to finish up this week!
Writing: Lesson plans. 2021 intentions poems. Not much really. 🙂 Heh.
Eating: I’m still cooking at TON from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks (Cravings and Cravings: Hungry for More). I like the second book better, partly because I got it first, and partly because of the font/layout (HA!, seriously). This weekend I made Jok Moo already and am whipping up some scalloped potatoes in a bit.
Drinking: Lots of bubbly water, which means…at least I am finally drinking water?* I still don’t love it but I probably drank 8x as much liquid in 2020 as in any year previously. Mostly I’m drinking mini-Cokes to help with my tummy which is in a bit of disarray. *For those who are unaware, I detest the taste of water. And yes, it has a taste.
Knitting: I just redove into a sweater that I started in January of 2018 (Lemongrass by Jojo Locatelli) using some Rowan Magpie yarn. Maybe 2021 will be the year I finish it! 🙂 The back and front are both done and it’s time to start the sleeves.
Quilting: I made a mini quilt for my mom’s bday, and I am finishing the binding on four mini-friendship log-cabin quilts for Secret Club. Feeling kinda productive quilt wise, frankly, since I also made six placemats (very mini quilts) for a friend in December!!
Sewing: I have the fabric ready to be cut out for three more Farrow dresses. But I want to finish up my quilts in progress first!
Focusing on: Trying not to freak out too much about how my job is planning to force us back to F2F teaching before we can get the virus… Trying not to focus on my impending death by coronavirus contraction via public transit as I have a 45-minute bus ride each way… TRYING.
There’s a lot going on around here, despite not leaving the house for 11 months at this point and being very miserably alone for 99.9% of the pandemic. What’s up with you????
Soft, but upbeat, dreamy psychedelia.