Stuff I liked in 2020
How about them ‘Twin Peaks’?
Enjoying things, and finishing things, was easier said than done in 2020. Folks in the press like to publish annual best-of-the-year lists, which is always fun, but this year I’m not sure I’ve got a couple of those in me. Instead, I’d like to look back at the things I managed to find joy in this year—no particular number or order behind it.
To get Star Wars out of the way, let’s start with Squadrons. That game was so unexpectedly rich, so damn fun, that it sort of single-handedly reignited my love for the series. Rise of Skywalker did a number on me last year, but Motive’s phenomenal dogfighting sim pulled me back in. I also got a lot of enjoyment out of Debs Paterson’s Episode IX making-of documentary, The Skywalker Legacy. It’s a terrific little doc, and goes a long way toward showing that the people behind the final Skywalker flick really did care—I believe they were doing their best under the time constraints they were given—and I’d love to see the film they thought they were making.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special on Disney+ was incredible; it hit a couple of key emotional beats that, had they been in Episode IX, might have salvaged Skywalker for me. But I still loved seeing those moments in Lego form, and will be making the special an annual tradition with my kids. As for The Mandalorian, I’m shocked and delighted to report that my favorite episode of season two, ultimately, was Robert Rodriguez’s showdown on Tython, which marked the triumphant return of Boba Fett. Temuera Morrison seemed to be having a fantastic time, and as a big Attack of the Clones fan (we exist), I loved seeing him do his thing again.
I’m currently enjoying Charles Soule’s High Republic novel Light of the Jedi, and just got done binging a pair of Star Wars graphic novels: The Destiny Path and Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Dark Heart of the Sith. Most of my reading this year has been comics and short-form work—nonfiction, short stories, and so on. I’ve finished far fewer books than I’ve started, but I really enjoyed Rob Sheffield’s Love Is a Mix Tape, Room to Dream (a recent biography of David Lynch), and Anthony Daniels’s memoir, I Am C-3PO.
In the realm of movies and TV, nothing comes close to Twin Peaks: The Return, which I missed when it first aired in 2017, and Better Call Saul’s fifth season. Saul season five approaches the level of perfection, and I am terrified to see where it goes from here. (Don’t get me started on Kim and Nacho; I’ll be writing this all night. God, I love Rhea Seehorn and Michael Mando in those roles.)
Those two shows, along with my disappointment over Rise of Skywalker, inspired me to take up fiction again. In fact, by pure coincidence, I was recently invited to submit something for an anthology of flash fiction, so 2021 could see the publication of my first short story in about six years. I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2013 and have struggled to write fiction ever since. But the workshop was a net positive, so no regrets here. Just know what you’re getting into when you decide to let Neil Gaiman read one of your first drafts and tell you what he thinks of it.
I’ve written about video games professionally since April of 2016, and that’s how I spent the majority of my time in 2020. I logged nearly 200 hours in Animal Crossing; I beat Pokémon Sword and enjoyed every second of it. I’ve rediscovered chess and Magic: The Gathering (the free-to-play Duels on Xbox).
I played a ton of Apex Legends, Halo, Destiny 2, Call of Duty, Smite, and other multiplayer titles I’m forgetting. My favorite games of the year were things like Squadrons, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Mafia: Definitive Edition. Spider-Man: Miles Morales might have been my favorite of all, if not for the ending (let’s just say it’s interesting which comic-book villains are allowed to live and which ones have to die).
I hope to read and write more fiction in the coming year; I’d love to do something in the world of comics again. But mostly I’m grateful to be employed as an editor, and to be joining a great team I’ve worked with for more than a year as a freelancer. In January, I’ll also be moving, and I’m sure that having an office with a door—something I’ve desperately wanted for about a decade—will help me get more personal projects done. And, hopefully, to do more reading in general.
Anyway. Happy New Year, friends.