Archive | December, 2021

In the End, 2021 Was Like a Bridge to Nowhere

31 Dec

This year was supposed to go a bit differently.

After 2020, when so many of us were home-bound, frustrated by the government’s divisive and unhelpful response to the pandemic, in and out of work, and alone, 2021 was supposed to be the year things got back on track. We had a new President, vaccines were becoming available, and change was coming. Better days were ahead. “Normal” was going to make a comeback.

So I always looked at 2021 like a “bridge year,” one that would take us from the doom and gloom of the pandemic to the new new normal. This year was all about crossing that bridge to get to the other side. Accepting things for now because I knew they’d be temporary. That things would be better and more desirable on the other side, by the end of the year.

In 2021, I had so much I wanted to do. I was going to make up for lost time with friends and family. I was going to work with other people face-to-face again on a regular basis, maybe even (hopefully) in an office. I was going to put my feet back in the dating pool. I was going to go on vacation. I was going to be spontaneous. In short: I was going to live a normal life without having to worry all the time about an easily transmissible airborne virus getting into my body.

And yet, here we are on December 31, and it feels in many ways like we’re back to where we were a year ago. In spite of multiple safe and effective vaccines being widely available, Covid case numbers are not only up again, they are higher than they’ve ever been. We’re being asked to scale back our social lives again and keep taking precautions to keep ourselves and each other safe — even if we’re “fully vaccinated.” And, as if we need a reminder, nearly a year after the attack on the Capitol, our political climate is more divided than ever.

If 2021 was a bridge year, it feels like it was a bridge that just kept on going and going, with no end in sight, kind of year. 

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2021 Was a Great Year to Go Back to the Movies

27 Dec
Belfast movie scene

After a year and change of pandemic-related limitations, and fewer theatrical releases to choose from, moviegoing was back in 2021. No more did we have to settle for watching films at home, on our TVs or tablets, all by ourselves. With vaccines in our bodies, we could (mask up and) see them on a much bigger screen, with much better sound … with other people!

In short, it was pretty great. Joni Mitchell once said, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” and, while I never took movie theaters for granted, I sure came to appreciate them more when I couldn’t go to them.

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“Spider-Man: No Way Home” Is for the Fans. That’s Not a Good Thing

16 Dec

There’s not a whole lot you can say that won’t ruin Spider-Man: No Way Home, but here’s a non-spoiler: It’s a Christmas movie!

That’s right: Like Die HardBatman ReturnsGo, and many other films before it, the latest Spidey flick takes place during December’s holiday time, which — yes — qualifies it as a Christmas movie. 

It’s also a legitimate event. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the incessant drumbeat of promotion and buzz, which has made people feel like they have to see it — in a theater! — as soon as possible, before the film is spoiled. It’s one of those truly communal, shared cinematic experiences that are all too rare these days.

God bless it for that. 

But is the film worthy of all that hype? Well … It’s a Wonderful Multiverse this is not.

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My 2021 Soundtrack Reflects the Times (and Music) I Want to Remember

13 Dec

When directors make movies, they work with a music supervisor and a composer to create a soundscape for the film that will deliberately help drive the narrative, boost the desired emotional impact, and leave a distinct impression in the minds of viewers. When done well, hearing a particular song or musical motif included in the movie may trigger memories of that work.

In real life, the process happens somewhat in reverse: The “narrative” of our lives moves forward organically, and the music that triggers memories of certain times and events is not necessarily planned. And, rather than the music itself telling a story, it’s up to us to look at the collection of songs and pick out the themes from the soundtrack in hindsight. In this way, music serves to remind us of the times we’ve lived through, and the music that was playing while we lived — with this caveat: The soundtrack often reflects the times we want to remember. More importantly, it’s made up of the music we want to remember.

I listened to a lot of music in 2021, and my “Now” playlist was everchanging. But as noted, the soundtrack of my year — a.k.a. my 2021 Time Capsule Playlist — largely reflects what was good about these last 12 months.

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