2021 end of year roundup
Another year around the Sun. As with 2020, not exactly a vintage year on planet Earth, but still worth reflecting on.
I said in last year's post that I'd try and blog more this year, but I didn't. I also said that I don't generally make resolutions and I'm sticking with that. I've written a separate post on the biggest thing I did this year because this post is long enough as it is.
Cinemas have been open for a lot of this year, which has been nice, but I've been keeping to larger, emptier screens wherever possible. My nearest cinema (14-screen neon behemoth Showcase Avonmeads) was apparently once the busiest cinema in Europe, but is now virtually empty at most showings. Not ideal for them, but perfect for social distancing! That does skew the list slightly towards films with a wide release.
Eligibility criteria: I've limited myself here to works that got a UK theatrical or streaming release in 2021, which rules out Chungking Express and Desperately Seeking Susan among others.
- Palm Springs
- Sound of Metal
- The Matrix: Resurrections
There are also some films I haven't watched yet but which I think I'm highly likely to enjoy. I reserve the right to watch these over the long weekend and add them to the list above if I like them.
- Drive My Car
- Petite Maman
- Quo Vadis, Aida?
- The Power of the Dog
Like last year it's sitcom-heavy and there are a few repeat appearances (Ghosts, Succession, Inside No. 9). Halt & Catch Fire falls afoul of the eligibility criteria, so I'm calling it out here - I'm not going to stop recommending it until everyone I know (including you!) has watched it.
Eligibility criteria: here I've only included programmes which had at least 1 new episode in 2021.
- Inside No 9
- Squid Game
- Stath Lets Flats
- We Are Lady Parts
I got to go to a small number of live events this year, of which my favourite was Daði Freyr at the Trinity Centre.
Eligibility criteria: albums or EPs listed as 2021 releases on Spotify or Bandcamp. I'm not including reissues or rerecords, so Kid A Mnesia and Red (Taylor's version) don't qualify.
- Autumn Rituals and Refugees - Chris & Nogi
- Before I Die - Park Hye Jin
- Civilisation - Kero Kero Bonito
- Dancing Spirits - Naoko Sakata
- Formula - Charlotte de Witte
- im hole - aya
- On the Edge - MMM
- Pilled Up on a Couple of Doves - PDP III
- Shock Power of Love - Burial & Blackdown
- Spencer Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Jonny Greenwood
- Taqbir - Taqbir
- Theatre Extracts - Anushka Chkheidze
- WINK - CHAI
In May I decided it was a good idea to give John le Carré a try. I'm glad I did! I'm going through his books chronologically and I'm about to start A Perfect Spy (1986). I didn't particularly enjoy The Naive and Sentimental Lover (1971) (his only non-'genre' novel) but the rest have been very good so far. This has skewed the list a bit.
Eligibility criteria: books of any age which I read for the first time in 2021.
- Call for the Dead - John le Carré
- Detransition, Baby - Torrey Peters
- My Work is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror - Thomas Ligotti
- Paradise Rot - Jenny Hval, translated by Marjam Idriss
- Smiley's People- John le Carré
- The Honourable Schoolboy- John le Carré
- The Little Drummer Girl- John le Carré
- The Spy Who Came In from the Cold- John le Carré
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carré
Here are some board games I played for the first time this year and enjoyed:
- Battle Sheep
- Codenames (and Codenames: Duet)
- Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
I recently got a Nintendo Switch and have since sunk a lot of hours into Cuphead - it's maddeningly difficult, especially given my poor hand-eye coordination, but it's also fantastic. I also played SpyParty - another one that I enjoyed despite being terrible at it. I played through A Way Out with my partner, which was a lot of fun (I loved the split screen mechanic) but i felt was undermined a bit by the ending.
SpoilerAt the end, one of your characters betrays the other, and then you end up fighting. Prior to this, the game is entirely cooperative, and works well for 2 players with different levels of ability and experience. After this point, it's just a matter of time until the more experienced player kills the other, and there's no alternative ending that allows you to avoid this.
Over the course of this year I:
- Came 2359th in the Bristol Half (2:02:01) 👟
- Ran over 1 million metres! 🎉
- Completed the Bristol Sprint Triathlon
- Entered, but did not finish, the Open Water Swimathon (I did around 3.6km, was aiming for 5km). I'll try again next year.
- Did my longest ever bike ride (70.3km along the Bristol-Bath cycle path and the Kennet & Avon Towpath)