Friday, December 18, 2020

Something Something Ralphies

 The first Ralphies were awarded in 2004.  I'll let you guys figure out how many years that's been.

Speaking of years ... 2020, amirite? A global pandemic that just won't quit, and internal strife in the US the likes of which I've never seen before -- and I survived the '60s. I and my loved ones are lucky to have so far escaped being affected by either one of these viruses, although I had a brush with cancel culture in the spring, which did not shake my commitment to the more liberal side of things.  So you know where I stand, but I can't help thinking that it doesn't conduce to the common good to keep harping on all the ways we differ from others. Our illness is not just that the two sides are hostile, but that we want the other side to know just how much we despise them and disagree with them. Nothing good can come of this.

But hey! We're here to give out awards, not to kvetch! So herewith we get down to business

TV: The pandemic produced a Golden Age of TV, aided by the streaming revolution. After some years of idly watching not much TV, I watched a ton of streaming shows this year, on platforms which are no doubt cleaning up. I love The Mandalorian, and went back and watched all the other Star Wars-related content, with a particular liking for Rebels. Also enjoyed Daredevil. The Boys.  Lots of fun stuff.  My favorite, though, would have to be Queen's Gambit. I swore that it would not make me take up chess (again), but ... 

MOVIES: What movies?

MUSIC:  Since after March I was not commuting to work every day, I wasn't listening to Sirius XMU, my main source for encountering new music. I did find some good things by Soccer Mommy ("Circle the Drain"), Phoebe Bridger ("Kyoto"), Arlo Parks ("Black Dog"). Of cover songs, "How Will I know" by the Lemonheads. But my #1 jam was the album "St. Cloud" by Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield), which was my pandemic theme record.  Superb mix of Americana sounds and indie sensibility. Listen to "Fire."

Also I have to mention the column by Tom Breihan at Stereogum, The Number Ones, wherein he discusses every #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, from 1958 onward.  (He's up to 1986 currently.) Some of the best music writing around, even when he's talking about songs I don't care for. 

Also a fruit of the pandemic is my own rejuvenated interest in playing.  I picked up the guitar again back in March, shook off the rust, and ... we'll see. 

BOOKS: Drawing kind of a blank here with fiction. Mostly I read old favorites (comfort books).  Of non-fiction, aside from things I read for work, I enjoyed Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow by David L. Chappell (2004); very enlightening and a great piece of historical writing, especially pertinent now. Not at all along the same lines was Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, a helpful pseudepigraphon. 

SPORTS: What sports? There were (and are) games, but games without live fans are depotentiated. We'll see what happens in 2021.

POLITICS: Who says 2020 was all bad? The election results are something to cheer, and the current bag of bile occupying the Oval Office will be turned out next month. 

OK, folks, that's it for another year. Let's drink to unforgettable 2020 and greet the new year with hope and a hangover.