Some Things I Liked in 2022
As 2022 heads out of the door, here are some things I liked in it, including entertainment, tech, life and other stuff. This is in no particular order:
Everything Everywhere All At Once: Yes, I know, me and every other nerd in the world, but look, sometimes the nerds are right. The film is anarchic and silly to the point of ridiculousness, but it also never once loses the plot (literal or figurative) thanks to Michelle Yeoh’s fearless performance at the center of it, as a woman who, as the worst possible version of herself, is the only one to save her family, and also, all of existence. Come for the talking rocks and mind-controlling raccoons and martial arts battles involving butt-plugs, stay for the deep emotions and, always, Michelle Yeoh. My choice for Best Picture of the Year, and if Yeoh does not walk away with an Oscar, it will be because she was flat out robbed.
Andor: Some critics are arguing that this is the best television show of the year, and while I’m not 100% sure that I would go that far, what I can say is that it is, far and away, the best Star Wars television show to date (live action; I haven’t seen enough of the animated stuff to say, so don’t come at me, Clone Wars fans), and the best Star Wars content, period, since at least Rogue One, the movie this series is a prequel to.
The best way I can describe this is that most of Star Wars content works like fables, with tales of laser knights and evil bases and mystical powers, probably based on actual history somewhere but told and retold so many times that any veracity is not only lost but beside the point. Andor, however, is like history taken directly from primary documents, embellished only enough for drama, and no more. This is a believable empire, and so much more awful for its banality. “No Jedi, No Lightsabers, No Force” is exactly what Star Wars needs at this point, and I was both shocked and delighted to get it.
Strange New Worlds: On the other side of the equation from Andor, Strange New Worlds is old school, light, episodic Star Trek where most things take place and wrap up in the space of an episode, and while I think Discover and Picard are solid shows, I’m digging on getting a quick hit of Trek and then getting out (Lower Decks, the animated show, is also good for this but it came out earlier than 2022). Also, SNW’s cast is generally pretty and pleasant and I’m enjoying watching Anson Mount’s pompadour possibly more than a nominally straight man should.
“Spitting Off the Edge Of the World” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
I never don’t dig Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but as a practical matter their albums seem “one on, one off” for me, which is to say, I dig Fever to Tell and It’s Blitz! but not so much Show Your Bones or Mosquito. Cool It Down, their latest, is an “on again” one for me, with this track in particular doing all the things for me that I want Yeah Yeah Yeahs to do, just a big ol’ wall of sound with Karen O wailing all over it. It’s bliss.
Speaking of music:
The fact that, holy shit, Kate Bush blew the fuck up: Thanks, Stranger Things! She deserves it, and The Kids These Days deserve a full blast of Bush’s “I’m the local witch in a hedge, but in song” energy. I mean, we all do, but especially the kids.
My Space Toilet: This is, honestly, the best purchase I made in 2022, and I will tell you why: Because last week, when it was -10 outside and the world was sucking heat from our house and I had to get up in the middle of the night to take care of business, that heated seat on the space toilet? The best thing ever. Also: the bidet, which honestly was a revelation but also this bidet comes with variable heating and pressure and also does spiral or pulsing action if you want it, and you will. Plus it’s self-cleaning and will totally flush for you so you don’t have to do it yourself, and so on, I could keep talking about it for a while but I sense you are getting progressively uncomfortable with me implicitly talking about my bodily functions so let’s move on to:
The Pixel 7 Pro: Google finally got it all right on one of its phones, mostly by not actually trying to do anything new this time around, just by doing it what it was already doing better. Sometimes iteration is enough. I mentioned in my “first look” piece on the phone that I got into a groove with it almost immediately; there was no learning curve to deal with, I just started using it without any problems. Which is great!
My Year of Dicks:
My pal Pamela Ribon’s short autobiographical animated film about the year she tried to lose her virginity is a hoot, which is not a surprise because Pamela is one of the funniest humans I know, but also surprisingly tender (which is also not a surprise because Pamela is a very smart, very good writer). Anyone who was a teen in or near the early 90s will tell you: This was exactly how it was then. Also: My Year of Dicks has made the shortlist for Oscar consideration in the Animated Short category (that’s the last step before the actual nomination list), and how cool is that.
Tits on the Moon: Dessa is best known (and rightly so) as a musician, but she has a number of side hustles including podcaster, memoirist, and, here, in this little volume, poet. The poems in here (often deployed, as Dessa mentions in the forward, as diversions when there’s some small emergency in one of her live shows) are clever and fun and also surprising in ways I’ll let you discover when you read them yourself (here’s the order page, in case you’re interested).
Babel, by RF Kuang; The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang, and The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal: which are the three SF/F novels I enjoyed the most this year, although it must be said it was a pretty damn fine year for science fiction and fantasy all around. I’ve said elsewhere that I have a sneaking suspicion this year’s Hugo awards are going to be heavily focused on Chinese-language finalists, because the Worldcon this year is taking place in China and also because it’s been next-to-impossible for non-Chinese to register for Worldcon up to this point (we’re blaming banking regulations for this), and so the nominating pool will be skewed a bit because of it. The reason I mention this is because I suspect each of these novels above would in a normal year be serious contenders for the Best Novel Hugo; as it is, there is still the Nebula Award.
What did you like in 2022? The comments await!