Friday, January 01, 2021

Back at ya, 2020

Well, so that was that. Even after more than nine months of working from home and living this muted life, every so often I am still caught off guard by the strangeness of how we live now. I miss actual people SO much. 


So let’s see how a global pandemic affected my consumption of cultural products, shall we.



The year in music

Not commuting to work really changed my listening habits. By year’s end I had listened to dozens of albums more than five times through — some more than ten times through. My top-played songs were played much less frequently than in past years, but nearly 2,000 of the tracks in iTunes had been played at least 10 times, and for the first time ever, I ended the year with fewer than 1,000 songs unplayed: only about 600 unplayed, in fact, of some 18,200 tracks in total. (That tally includes all the tracks tagged “Holiday” — more than 1,300 —which exacted quite a toll from the household at large.) 


I added almost 1,000 songs to my library this year. Much of that total came from re-ripping CDs I own that had been only partially ripped; the balance came from new purchases and free downloads. 


Top 25 plays

Jorge Luis Chacin, “Sueltala (J. Verner Total Dance RWK)”

Kate Bush, “Burning Bridge”

The Clash, “Know Your Rights”

Janelle Monáe, “Dance Apocalyptic”

Janelle Monáe, “Turntables”

The Dresden Dolls, “Girl Anachronism”

ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”

Sonic Youth, “Superstar”

Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams”

Rise Against, “Savior”

Sheena Easton, “You Could Have Been with Me”

Prince, “17 Days”

Vopli Vidopliassova with Amarilyo, “Golubka”

Meg Myers, “Running Up That Hill”

Janelle Monáe, “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”

Haiku Hands, “Not About You”

The Killers, “The Man”

Knife Party, “Destroy Them with Lazers”

The Mowglis, “San Francisco”

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”

Billie Eilish, “everything i wanted”

ABBA, “Summer Night City”

REO Speedwagon, “Keep on Loving You”

Queen, “Killer Queen”

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “This Wheel’s on Fire”


This year’s list certainly demonstrates some comfort listening, but also some attention to newer artists and genres. Many of the songs that had at least 20 plays this year reflected intentional listening for one of my research/writing projects and so perhaps will not be repeated. I guess we’ll see!



The year in books

One might think a pandemic would be an ideal time to catch up on one’s reading. Turns out, no. Not only were my days unbelievably long from mid March through Victoria Day; when my workload finally lessened, I found my brain broken and often incapable of sustaining more than fragmentary attention. Not an ideal trait in a scholar or an editor. 


Still, by the end of the year I had read 151 books. As in previous years, a good proportion of these books were middle-grade or young-adult titles, as I continue to teach and research in this genre.


Of the books I read in 2020,


• 109 were written by women

• 33 were written by men

• 9 were edited collections or written by multiple authors.


And I’ve adopted a new reading strategy, recommended by my pal Garry. Unless there is something urgent (and come on, what is actually urgent these days?), I try to spend about half an hour reading before I get out of bed in the morning. This decision has definitely made my days better AND increased my overall reading — so probably a habit to keep.



Oh, and television...

In other kinds of textual consumption, we didn’t get into binging on Netflix anymore than usual. We did bit by bit watch Schitt’s Creek, which, in the end, I adored, as well as The Great Canadian Baking Show, which I liked but didn’t love. We have started watching Letterkenny, Taskmaster, and QI, as well as picking through various panel shows and YouTube channels. Haven’t seen a movie in a theatre since December 2019, of course.




Well, that’s it for now. How did you fare last year? 


And happy new year! Here’s to something brighter and safer in 2021.


Bruce Keith said...

And now every one in the house goes around saying Golubkya for no reason and not even knowing what it means. Probably calling the cat beet-butt or something.

Earl J. Woods said...

I've only seen bits of Letterkenny, but each of those bits made me laugh like a loon. Sylvia and I started The Queen's Gambit last night; we're only three episodes in, but we're enjoying it so far. Incredible production design, and the lead actress is quite mesmerizing.

I really love "You Could Have Been With Me." Instead of alooooone and lone-lee-ee-ee...

151 books is probably 150 times the number of books read by the average North American in a year. :-(

Anonymous said...