100 things I liked in 2021

  1. There's no way #1 wasn't going to be publishing a whole damn book, right? Well, it's a poetry chapbook, but it's a book nonetheless. It's called My House But Not My House, and I've taken to calling it “15 poems about dreams, obsolete tech, the Apocalypse, and other shit.”
  2. The same publisher that put out my book, Montreal's Cactus Press, also put out great work by some friends of mine: Xenia by Willow Loveday Little, Selected Leavings by Jacalyn den Haan, and The Wrong Poem and Others Like It by Jerome Ramcharitar.
  3. Sharing my work on the stage and elsewhere, like that time in August I was filmed reading my poem “The Pearl.”
  4. Vaccination. Kind of speaks for itself.
  5. I got my first two tattoos at the age of 33: the knowledge band from Fantastic Planet on my inner left forearm, and the Rider-Waite-Smith Fool tarot card on my inner right forearm. A thousand thank yous to Valeria from the Grey Market Salon for her wonderful work.
  6. I wrote some blog posts I liked this year, and one of them was “In Praise of Giant Ox”, which is one part my philosophy of playing Magic: The Gathering, one part bad card apologia.
  7. Another blog post that I kept going back to was this one on movies that are “short, good, and secret,” because my movie recommendations could use a little spicing up.
  8. I am eternally grateful to my friends for indulging me in probably the dorkiest thing I ever coaxed them into doing: Big Picture-style movie drafts.
  9. The work of cosmic country troubadour Dougie Poole, specifically his superlative album The Freelancer's Blues.
  10. My Halloween costume, and my friend Emily's Halloween costume.
  11. Every new Doc Destructo is a cause for celebration. His third entry in his Narratives of Disaster series, “Tito Is Just Standing There”, is delightful.
  12. The canon of “American Anime”.
  13. Getting to watch movies in a theatre again, however briefly.
  14. Blaseball continues to be the more interest experiment in emergent storytelling on the whole damn internet. Go Garages!
  15. No pandemic or health mandate will ever be able to destroy the games behemoth known as Jank City.
  16. This October, I went on my first-ever writer's retreat near Mont-Sainte-Anne. It was fun as hell, surprising precisely no one.
  17. Rediscovering nail polish.
  18. Like much of the internet, I was captivated by the “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” saga.
  19. Jon Bois heads already knew, but this year, scorigami went viral, first thanks to the great Mina Kimes, and then with the help of the Shield itself.
  20. I have fallen down the snake-infested moon crater known as Shutdown Fullcast, the funniest, most freewheeling podcast I've had the pleasure of bingeing this year.
  21. Thanks to the Fullcast, I am now a card-carrying member of the cult of San Diego State's cannon-legged punter Matt Araiza, aka Punt God. Alex Kirschner wrote a great profile of him for FiveThirtyEight.
  22. Season 3 of Joe Pera Talks With You, continuing a run of hilarious and gentle normcore television.
  23. I am super duper ill-read, but I did tear through Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This, which is funny and perceptive and melancholy in equal amounts. Novels by poets just hit different.
  24. My pal Ian clued me into the work of Vancouver dream-pop band Readymade, which I immediately fell in love with. “Terminal Sounds at Night” was in heavy rotation.
  25. My friend group's private Spotify playlist broke 1,500 songs.
  26. That same friend group organized a surprise 30th birthday party for my friend Catherine, which was a highlight of my summer.
  27. I wrote 46 whole-ass poems; maybe in 2022 I'll hit one a week.
  28. The War on Drugs's fantastic, shimmering new album I Don't Live Here Anymore.
  29. One of the new movies I was fortunate enough to watch in a theatre (specifically and the wonderful Cinéma Moderne) this year was Pig, which features a soulful, subdued performance by the great Nicolas Cage. Mild spoiler: the credits song is an absolutely killer rendition of Bruce Springsteen's “I'm on Fire” by singer-songwriter Cassandra Violet.
  30. At the same theatre, I saw a beautiful 2K restoration of the bugnuts Canadian cult comedy Crime Wave.
  31. I was entranced and befuddled in equal amounts by the Sparks-penned musical Annette. The Mael brothers had a big year besides that; they were also the subject of the very thorough, very enjoyable documentary The Sparks Brothers, directed by superfan Edgar Wright.
  32. From the twisted mind of M. Night Shyamalan comes Old, the exact kind of nutso thriller you want to see on the big screen.
  33. My favourite documentary of the year is Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, directed by local legend Kier-La Janisse. Thorough, engrossing, informative, stylish.
  34. My second-favourite documentary is The History of the Atlanta Falcons, Secret Base's spiritual sequel to last year's Seattle Marniers doc. As much as I like Jon Bois as a writer, his work as a director is simply staggering.
  35. Rediscovering the simple pleasures of brunch.
  36. My 12th anniversary with my wonderful partner Steph.
  37. Lazy days lounging in athleisure, all tights and tees and hoodies.
  38. Growing my hair out again; I haven't gotten a haircut since last July.
  39. My buddy Alex's work as Dads FM, the ambassador of all things smooth.
  40. Reading tarot for my friends.
  41. My favourite Montreal band, Men I Trust, put out their awesome fourth studio album, the cheekily-titled Untourable Album.
  42. Speaking of awesome fourth albums: Atlanta's finest Faye Webster released the dazzling I Know I'm Funny haha; “In a Good Way” is one of my favourite songs from this year.
  43. The collected online output of Melbourne-based writer Dakota Warren, especially her YouTube channel.
  44. The cinephile deathmatch known as the Movie Bowl.
  45. The top 50 favourite older movies I saw for the first time this year: a thread.
  46. Wojciech Kalinowski's Nova Cut typeface.
  47. My most-watched director this year was the Oklahoma-based filmmaker Mickey Reece and it wasn't particularly close. I discovered him thanks to Katie Rife's awesome profile in the A.V. Club and proceeded to tear through his available back catalogue (check out his bizarre Elvis “biopic” Alien and his wayward-nun riff Agnes).
  48. I got really into sentence diagramming this year, specifically using the Reed–Kellogg system.
  49. Every pet that saw the beginning of the year also made it to the end; shout out to the cats Koopa and Ruby, and the rats Aurora and Dottie.
  50. Austin Kleon continues to be one of the most interesting people I follow on the internet; once again, I must not that I've stolen this whole gimmick from him. His newsletter continues to rule.
  51. Speaking of newsletters, Laura Olin's weekly missive continues to be one of the best things in my inbox.
  52. Matthew Ogle's poetry newsletter Pome is a perfect tiny object.
  53. My friend Amelia is still writing her hilarious Lifetime movie newsletter Don't Threaten Me With a Good Lifetime.
  54. For The Ringer, Ben Lindbergh on the great film writer Danny Peary and his seminal tome Cult Movies.
  55. For Pitchfork, Cat Zhang on city pop.
  56. For Blood Knife, RS Benedict on the sexlessness of the modern blockbuster.
  57. Will Sloan on his time in the fim-crit trenches.
  58. For The New Yorker, Richard Brody on Paul Schrader
  59. Also for The New Yorker, Mike Sacks on the legendary Simpsons writer John Swatrzwelder.
  60. For the Hollywood Reporter, Seth Abramovitch profiles the great Shelley Duvall.
  61. A look inside Bay Area projectionist Paul Clipson's book Reel.
  62. A brief history of the Cheez-It.
  63. It's always fun when an expansion team lands in a major sports league. To that end, say hello to the NHL's Seattle Kraken! Here's a video breaking down how their logo came to be.
  64. For GQ, Chris Gayomali on blink-182 bassist/cancer survivor Mark Hoppus.
  65. Bo Burhman's ourobouric comedy special Inside, just about the best piece of art about the long-term effects of being terminally online.
  66. F.D. Signifier's two-part video essay on the relationship between Kayne West and kayfabe. Part one is here.
  67. Titane, Julie Ducorneau's bizarre, gloppy, emotionally knotty Palme d'Or-winning thriller. This thing is destines to see a million midnight screenings.
  68. The delightful action movie junk food of Nobody. Bob Odenkirk just murking dudes is a sight to behold.
  69. black midi's cavernous, cacophonous every-King-Crimson-album-playing-at-once opus Cavalcade.
  70. Deerhoof are one of those bands I fear I take for granted, because their records are so consistently great. This year they released another one of those, Actually, You Can.
  71. Producer Floating Points, jazz legend Pharoah Sanders, and the entire god damn London Symphony Orchestra got together and created Promises, the lushest and most hypnotic album I've heard all year.
  72. Toronto-via-Charlottetown rockers Kiwi jr. dust off their Pavement and Kinks records and follow up their impressive debut Football Money with the just-as-impressive Cooler Returns.
  73. New York dream-pop band Lightning Bug keeping the 4AD flame alive with their awesome sophomore record A Color of the Sky.
  74. Musk Ox, the finest goth-adjacent instrumental chamber folk trio in the Ottawa Valley, put out their fantastic new record Inheritance.
  75. Everything you need to know about Richmond, Virginia-based Dazy's collection of delectable power pop nuggets is right in the title: MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD.
  76. The Weather Station put out Ignorance, her flirtation with 80s sophisti-pop. Cool as ice.
  77. Two wonderful guitarists, Marisa Anderson and William Tyler, joined forces and released the beautiful, winsome Lost Futures. Music to watch sunsets by.
  78. Steph got me the beautiful Mystic Mondays tarot deck. The edges are holographic and the artwork is vaporwave as hell.
  79. That one time I got super stoned and ate 5,000 calories of Domino's and Krispy Kreme.
  80. The continuing excellence of my favourite podcast All Fantasy Everything.
  81. Brian Raftery's podcast miniseries Gene and Roger, chronicling the relationship and legacy between film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Catnip for an Ebert-head like me.
  82. It's been another stellar year of podcasting from the great Merlin Mann, but his Wisdom Project might be his magnum opus.
  83. My Mastodon instance laserdisc.party trucks on!
  84. A wonderful late-summer road trip to a lakefront cabin in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.
  85. Blank Check's excellent miniseries on the films of John Carpenter, They Podcast.
  86. Using Inktober prompts as springboard for poems.
  87. Some Quinton Reviews video that I can only describe as self-flagellation in the form of media criticism: 220 minutes on FRED, 334 minutes on Victorious, and a staggering 500 minutes (that's eight-plus hours over two videos) on iCarly. You simply must respect it.
  88. Montreal institution Argo moved to a new location a bit further up Sainte-Catherine Street.
  89. Pandemic MVP Jackbox Games put out the highly-anticipated (by me and my friends, at least) Jackbox Party Pack 8. The masters of local multiplayer deliver yet again.
  90. My buddy Ben's brie melt.
  91. 2021 was, much like 2020, the year of the Blue Nile. They were the band I listened to the most and it wasn't particularly close. Hats continues to be a masterpiece among masterpieces.
  92. Baccarat baseball, which is probably the dorkiest thing I've ever come up with, and believe me, there's stiff competition there.
  93. My friends and I's zodiac playlists: Cat's Big Aries Energy and Big Leo Energy, Emily's Big Pisces Energy, and my own Pisces playlist, ZODIAC AQUAMAN.
  94. The good ship Middlebrow Madness inches along, slowly but surely adjudicating the IMDb Top 250 in search of the greatest movie of all time*.
  95. A great Letterboxd list: films that in some shape or form anticipated the notion of being too online.
  96. Petsitting.
  97. The deceptive depth of Wikipedia Haiku.
  98. Remember Lingo? (Any Game Show Network heads out there?) Well, meet Wordle.
  99. FilmGrab, a wonderful repository of film stills.
  100. I'm calling it now: 2022 is the year I get really into Mojave 3.