I’ve been meaning to write some sort of wrap-up for 2020, but how do you tackle such a task when 2020 packed several years’ worth of events all into one span of 365 days? Well, I’ll do the best that I can, and if I forget anything, so be it.
The big event for 2020 for me was publishing my latest novel, Take the Long Way. I started writing it in 2018 but it didn’t really catch fire until midway through 2019, wrapping up the first draft around Thanksgiving. Editing it went quicker than expected, and I had it out in July 2020. So far, the response has been very positive, so I’m glad people have enjoyed it. Some day soon, I’ll settle down and produce a digital version of it (I keep meaning to do it but then I get sidetracked and oh here comes one of my dogs and I could really go for some Doritos and…)
Speaking of dogs, my wife and I adopted a new greyhound boy named Truman. He’s a tall brindle who’s as sweet as can be and has a fun and lovable personality. He’s still getting acclimated to living in a house, but Izzy and Hazel are showing him the ropes. I think he’ll eventually settle in and become a very much loved member of the family.
I did a lot of TV watching this year. Like everyone else, I binged Schitt’s Creek, which was a wonderful show for many reasons (unlike everyone else, I steered far away from Tiger King). I also ran through all 205 episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I really enjoyed that show. It could be riotously funny and incredibly touching all in the same episode. The Kominsky Method was also an enjoyable show. Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin made a great, comedically acerbic team. I just started on the British comedy The IT Crowd, which is hilarious. I’m also midway through season 4 of Parks and Recreation, which is funny but not quite as amazing as people made it out to be. And, of course, it should go without saying that The Mandalorian was spectacular.
I also watched a lot of movies this year. I won’t even try to tally up all the movie watching I did (since it included a lot of films that came out before 2020), so I’ll do a quick recap: Palm Springs was insanely entertaining, and that’s saying something since I’ve never been a fan of Andy Samberg, but he’s great in this along with Cristin Milioti; Bill and Ted Face the Music isn’t perfect, but I still enjoyed it and loved seeing those characters again; Da 5 Bloods features a great performance by Delroy Lindo and, despite its length, doesn’t get bogged down in some of the excesses that sometimes mars Spike Lee’s work (he directed this with a steady hand, and it turned out to be pretty satisfying); The Vast of Night was a spooky, well-done micro-indie; The Happiest Season was fairly enjoyable, not something that will blow you away but a pleasant way to spend 105 minutes; Yes God Yes was “eh,” an okay lead performance by whatsername from Stranger Things but otherwise, was an instantly forgettable attempt at satire; The Invisible Man was a well-done reinvention of the classic tale.
Music was definitely key to getting through this year, and thankfully there was a lot of good tunes out there. Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters was stunning album, though one that I’ve found it difficult to give repeat listens to following playing it on a near-daily basis back when it came out. Hayley Williams’s Petals For Armor was a solid and confident first solo foray for the Paramore lead singer, with danceable tunes along with lyrics that cut deep. The Strokes’ The New Abnormal brought some much needed New York style rock to the world, and it was nice to see them return to form after being gone so long. Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You was also a welcome return from a rock pioneer, showing he’s still got a lot of life in his weathered voice. I didn’t really care for Pearl Jam’s Gigaton, which had a few notable songs but was largely forgettable, like most of their recent output. Hush by Maya Hawke was an interesting first effort from her but a little too dreamily paced for my liking.
I read a lot this year as well, but most were older novels. The only book released in 2020 that I read was Alex Trebek’s autobiography. There’s nothing controversial or headline-grabbing in it, but that’s okay. That’s not what I was looking for in this book. It felt like a long, warm conversation with an old friend, and since Trebek has been a daily part of my life since at least 1987, that was just fine by me.
As I write this, it’s now a little over 3 hours until 2020 ends. Only time will tell what some of the enduring memories and images from this year will be. Hopefully, 2021, as it goes on, will find us all a little better and a little wiser for having lived through it.
Happy New Year!