All My Stars 2021
The book I'm recommending to everyone these days is Man Hating Psycho by Iphgenia Baal. But don't just listen to me. Look at the subtle yet effective way they worked Alan Moore's blurb on to the cover:
I'm going to call this my favorite book of the year because I read it last month, loved it, and can't really remember what I read since January. It's so new and alive and responding to now in a way that no one else really has a handle on. Plus it's published by Influx Press which I'm pretty sure has never published a single bad book. So that's it: THE best book of 2021.
I also read a bunch of Percival Everett novels except for Trees, but I'm sure if I got to Trees that would be my other favorite.
My favorite movie this year was Censor but it might have been The Souvenir Part II if I had caught the film before it left theaters around me. I rewatched the first one a few weeks back and marveled again at Richard Ayoade character's line "So I'm trying to work out... where you two tessellate here." Tessellate! How do they tessellate? How do I tessellate with anyone? A remarkable verb changes everything.
I'm proud of this essay of mine which was published last month about the tech industry outside of Silicon Valley, including its culture and origins: Silicon Everywhere.
I also wrote a Nieman Lab journalism prediction for 2022, which I summarized in this shitpost tweet, a rare good tweet of mine to go viral (usually that's what happens to my boring tweets).
My other favorite this year is I Think You Should Leave. I love that the jokes all level up to the absolute tiptop of absurdity. With Dan Flashes, it’s not just that there’s a place with expensive pattern shirts, but that this guy is lying on a couch exhausted because he hasn’t been eating because he is using his per diem to buy the shirts. He's like, the hunger artist of dumb shirts. AND his coworker is really, really mad at him for doing this because its getting in the way of his work! Most of the sketch is exposition in the form of this extremely old coworker tattling on him. Incredible.
I guessed before looking him up that Tim Robinson had to be from the Midwest. I've had extremely dumb and horrible grunt work jobs in Boston and DC, but in Chicago, for whatever reason, that's where jobs were always strange in a way I can't describe other than ITYSL-ian.
Maybe I’ve told this story before, but I worked a temp job at the Quaker Oats corporate headquarters in Chicago for a couple months in the aughts. It was nice because there was a breakfast bar where you could get oatmeal with fresh berries and walnuts and other toppings. So I'd clock in, fix oatmeal and bring it back to my desk and do whatever mindless data entry that was my task for the day.
My second or third day on the job, the company had announced a new product: Tropicana OJ with fiber. The company staged a mock wedding for all staff to attend with oranges as the groom and fiber as the bride (I think this was represented with wheat stalks on a silver platter). I just remember feeling, well, “I don't want to be around anymore.” It was all the horrors of being at a wedding where I don't know anyone. And the horrors of being around coworkers I didn’t really know or want to know. And it was early in the morning that this "wedding" happened so I was exhausted and barely awake (The worst thing about Chicago was many of the jobs worked on New York time, which meant clock in at 8.) But, in retrospect, it’s hilarious that I witnessed all this. Anyway, that’s why I love I Think You Should Leave.
Thank you for reading.