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2020 in Review

──── 5 mins#Reviews, #Life

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
— Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower

2020, you know, what the hell.

Like you, I could never imagine what this year would be. I remember going into it with a lot of anticipation. It started out so well. It was a point in time when many things would finally click into place. For obvious reasons, they didn’t, the puzzle exploded instead. Now I don’t have the right words.

All I’ll say is that it’s been a tragedy, for too many. I know people who have lost a parent, a grandparent or both. It feels weird and inadequate to write about my year from a home office with all the horrors happening all around.

Achievements

As far as professional and personal achievements go this year, Ueno’s CEO has the best framework. My top 3 wins are:

  1. I’m
  2. Still
  3. Alive

I’m also in good health, and I am so glad and feeling incredibly lucky. I hope you are too.

If you like reading people’s “year in review” posts like I do, here’s my tip for you: Don’t. Or rather, do it only if you can turn off social comparison1 first. Then, ask yourself “Is this going to make me feel bad?” Like going into a lake that your friend said wasn’t cold.

Best of 2020

What I can write is a “best of the year” to continue my tradition. I’ll try to help you escape with amazing entertainment that helped me escape too.

🎥 Cinema

Disney Nature: Elephant. The Disney Nature series is beautiful. The narrators are always unique and the images incredible. This is probably my favourite one. Elephant surprised me on so many levels. What a remarkable animal.

Call of the Wild. I love Jack London’s novels. White Fang is one of the earliest adventure books I read. This was the last film I saw in a cinema. It looks like I won’t be going again for a couple of years.

Klaus: What a surprise. I’m not big on Christmas movies, but Klaus is something else. The art style alone makes it worth watching.

🎙️ Songs

Conversation with my wife — Jon Bellion2

Everyone (including me!) is doubling down on “content creation” and that comes with its own set of challenges. Conversations with my Wife reminds us to think about what we want in our search of followers. And yes, there’s a drop3. Watch it here.

Higher Love (Steve Winwood Cover) — Keith Urban

Keith Urban’s performance during the Global Citizen concert in support of Healthcare workers. His performance is on fire 🔥 🕺 🎶 . It has all the components of a good cover: Different, but recognisable, and he gives the song his own spin. Watch it here.

Series

Last Kingdom. Even Elon Musk says it’s great. It’s what I wanted Vikings to be.

The Mandalorian. I only started watching it this year. When it came out, I saw it only as a carrot on a stick to get people on Disney+. I was wrong, it’s perfect. It’s so much better than the new Star Wars trilogy (Episode VII->IX). The photography and art direction are flawless. The pacing is impeccable, the series is not too violent, and season 2 is a masterclass in diversity. I can’t recommend it enough.

🎻 Audio drama

The mill on the floss by BBC Sounds. Amazing at transporting you to another time and place. The producers have a brilliant ability to paint landscapes with words and sounds. The narration by Anna Maxwell-Martin is one of the best I’ve heard. Listen here.

Marvels by Marvel and Stitcher Studios. I’m not sure you would enjoy it if you haven’t read the graphic novel. The first episodes are vague and confusing. Even knowing the subject matter, I struggled to understand what was happening. Still, it’s an immersive, spellbinding experience that I’ve come to expect from Marvel and Stitcher. Listen here.

The invisible man by Big Finish. Earned its place in my top. One of John Hurt’s last performances. Get it here.

🎤 Podcast

The Knowledge Project #88 — Derek Sivers. Derek is my new favourite writer/person and this is one of this best interviews. Listen here.

The Crazy One #100 — Rejecting life’s invisible scripts. A great way to frame society’s stupid expectations. Listen here

Lex Fridman — Grant Sanderson. They talk about what you should work on, Richard Feynman, education, and teaching. Listen here

Soundtracking with Edith Bowman #212 — Ewan McGregor. Totally unexpected. If you like music, you’ll love Soundtracking. Listen here.

Best Purchase

Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch, no doubt.

Resolutions

Nope.

Hang on here people! There’s still a long way to go but the aftermath is a lot to be hopeful for. If you liked any of my articles this year, there are more coming soon, and they’ll be a little different.

Onwards to 2021,
Alvin


  1. Social Comparison Theory, in psychology, states that we use other people to evaluate ourselves. This comparison influences our sense of self-worth. Bad idea.
  2. I was obsessed with Jon Bellion in 2017. The one-take acoustic version of Human is unreal (including the moment he pauses to scratch his nose).
  3. “A drop” (beat drop) is a point in a song where the rhythm, pace and energy shift. It works really well in a live acoustic. Only learned the name recently.