Things I’ve Greatly Enjoyed – December 2020

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It’s time for another installment. I keep trying to think of a sexier title than that, but it has the advantage of really telling you on the tin what’s inside. This is a slightly odd month. A lot of year end lists are taking shape. I did my music list. But doing any other lists feel weird for various reasons. We’ll see. I do enjoy those sort of journals, because I find them fun to look back on, and it’s a good way to appreciate the good stuff in a year. And 2020 needs all the help it can get, frankly.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 (2020)

I had some reservations about Star Trek: Discovery when the concept was announced. In fact, in a journal post in 2017 I mused “I am hopeful for Discovery, but I do wonder if Trek can still inspire in me the same love and passion that it used to.” Oh, if I could go back in time and tell myself that not only will Discovery reignite your passion for Star Trek, but you’ll make a ton of fan art again because you’re so excited about it.

It’s not that Discovery didn’t have a little bit of a strange start. For this longtime Trek fan it was disorienting, even. There were some things that worked less well in season 1. But they were trying new things. And I fell for the characters hard, with early break-outs Michael, Tilly, and my favorite, Saru. Season 2 gave us the gloriousness of Captain Pike (I cannot wait for Strange New Worlds) and kept all the great stuff about season 1 while making it all feel a little more Star Trek. Season 3 has only gotten better. With a focus on more episodic storytelling, a writer’s room that clearly has a lot of confidence now, and taking fans some place we’ve been LONGING to go since the end of Voyager… it’s the best season yet. I cannot wait for the season finale. Although it scares me a little too. This show is not afraid of change.

Yes, I took this screenshot. Yes, I have most of his clothes hidden most of the time.
Bjorn, formerly known as Cato in the Hunger Games.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (2020) and Vikings Season 2 (2014)

It’s been a Vikings-centric month for me! I watched the first season of Vikings way back when and really enjoyed it. But I fell off of watching it for no good reason whatsoever (like The Americans, which I need to get back to) and was happy to dive back in. Yes, there are beautiful men in it. That is part of the appeal to me. But it’s not the only part!! The storylines are really gripping, and have a way of keeping you coming ask episode after episode. I’m really excited to keep going with it and catch up.

In a coincidence, I managed to get my hands on a PS5. After Target cancelled my pre-order, I really thought it’d be 2021 before I found one. But I lucked out. I had planned to play Cyberpunk 2077 as my first game on the PS5. But after it’s rocky launch, I decided to wait for more patches on that. So I tried out Valhalla instead. This is actually my first Assassin’s Creed game. It’s a video game franchise I keep meaning to sample (I even bought a used copy of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag once but never played it) and man do I need to go back and fill in some blanks, clearly! I LOVE this freaking game. I haven’t progressed much in the story yet, so I can’t tell you if that will be good. But I’m just having so much fun wandering around and exploring. Plus, I’m a big fan of sneaking around and taking out enemies. The Dishonored games are some of my favorites, for instance. So, I’m not sure why I took so long to play an AC game. It won’t be my last.

The Bear and the Nightingale (2017)

I’m a fan of folk tales. You’ll see how much of a fan I am soon. ;). But, I had this book in my Audible library for a while. Finally got to it, and just loved it to pieces. It’s the sort of book that’s utterly transporting. I’m blown away that it was Katherine Arden’s debut. I was even more shocked to learn that it was the first book of a trilogy. It works well on its own, which was refreshing. And I’m eager to continue the adventure at some point. If you’re into folklore, folk tales, mythology, etc. this is highly recommended. 

Soul (2020)

After all the announcements for what’s coming to Disney+ (and loving The Mandalorian) I took the plunge and got a subscription. Man, I hate these ever-mounting sub costs, but it does feel like Disney+ is worth it. I would have loved to have seen Soul on the big screen, but I’m just so happy I got to see it at all. I did not know much about the movie going in, to be honest. Just that it was Pixar. I like doing that, when I can. Sometimes trailers either tell you too much or set up the wrong expectations. It was very fun going into this without any sort of notions about what it was. Sometimes the emotion of Pixar can feel a little calculated. Like the part of the Barbara Walters interview where she leans in close to ask her guest the question that will make them cry. I enjoyed Toy Story 4, for instance, without really being moved by it. But Soul really got me. It’s so ambitious in its scope, and I loved the things it had to say. Beautiful performances and a stunning soundtrack I must own on vinyl.

The Mandalorian Season 2 (2020)

I wrote a whole separate journal entry about this, so I’ll just give this a mention. I don’t think Star Wars needed saving. There, I said it. But, there’s no doubt some people didn’t like the sequel trilogy, and I do think Rise of Skywalker did not stick the landing the way I wanted it to. But having The Mandalorian has gotten people excited about Star Wars again, and for that I’m glad. I know the show has made me straight up giddy. I was more into Trek than Wars growing up, but I always loved the original trilogy and pretty much anything Star Wars. Including those Ewoks movies. But seeing a big-screen production on the small screen still kind of boggles my mind. And Djin and Grogu’s story has just gotten better. The wait for season 3 will be tough.

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