Best of 2016 : Year of Division

What a year, right? 

Each year I try to name this “Best Of List” after the mood and attitude of that year, whether it was a year of setting stones or just being happy, of endings, or change. This year was about division. Of course, this most suits the political atmosphere where there is such a huge disconnect in what people believe and what is true. There is division in our country and across the world. Brexit. Trump. Celebrities left us. 

For me, there was a division in what I saw as my future as a creative. For as long as I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I had pursued filmmaking, but as that avenue and goal felt harder and harder to achieve, I’ve felt floundering. In 2014, I got more excited about other ways of being a creative and artistic expression in the form of tabletop game design. But, throwing my hat into that ring wasn’t the right moment. Too much to learn and not enough patience for the “craft” element of it. 

These stumbles are what led me to write a book this year. And boy was that something. 

I wrote the first chapter the last week of March, the first week of April and then I wrote the 2nd chapter. Then I sat back and outlined seven books before delving back into another chapter… and another. And then, ten weeks later, I had finished the first draft. It was so — incredible. I was so… accomplishing. Even if it never gets published, if people don’t like it, if no one reads it (save for a few close friends) I wrote a fucking book. How awesome!?

This year, I’ve thought more about dying. Not that I want to depart anytime soon, quite the opposite. I’ve been more aware of my body and how it’s changing. How I’m in the thick of my mid-30s and have yet to accomplish the things that I want — and how I feel about that. The biggest takeaway is that it is important to leave behind who I am. Who I was. I want to die knowing that people can look through my artistic works and understand me. Whether it be a random poem, I wrote on this blog or whether it is a series of seven books about the adventures of an old man. Whether it’s an experimental art film about my experience with HIV or my thesis short from college. Each work of art I’ve created has been who I am at that moment, what I’d like to say about the world, about my life, about my thoughts. 

As much as I’d love to have a kid and a family, there’s a part of me that feels that may never happen. My work, my art, my writing, these forms of expression are my “children” to sound a bit hockey. They are my legacy.

In any case, I’m rambling. About 2016:

I bought a tee-shirt that has a “2016 Dumpster Fire”. Was everything terrible? Not especially. Many great things happened: I took my first real vacation EVER. I traveled to London to sightsee and check out the Harry Potter play. I had consistent work, not as good as 2015, but enough to pay bills and continue to “smarten my home.” 

In arts & entertainment, it wasn’t a great year for movies, a few gems, but all in all pretty lackluster (especially for popcorn films). Video games as well had some early indie splendors, but nothing in the AAA department blew me away. Instead, I replayed the trilogies of Bioshock and Mass Effect. Which, upon my 2nd play through, surpassed Red Dead Redemption as my favorite video game series. Bioshock remains up there but has lost a bit of its replay value, I think, once you know the story reveals.

TV once again was fantastic, especially on FX. My top five shows were all on FX. But it was music this year that shined. So much great music. One of the best years for singles. I listened to so much this year and expanded this year’s list to 30 songs and 15 albums. 

But, you’ll see all that here and below:

*MOVIES - CINEMA*
1. Moonlight
2. Jackie
3. La La Land
4. Arrival
5. American Honey
6. The Witch
7. The Lobster
8. Silence
9. Manchester by the Sea
10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
        *Special Mention to “The Greasy Strangler”
        *Special Mention to the 120fps 3D of “Billy Lynn” — I’d love to see a Pixar film in this format

*MOVIES - POPCORN*
1. The Nice Guys
2. Rogue One
3. Zootopia
4. Kubo & the Two Strings
5. Batman vs Superman
6. Dr. Strange
7. Jungle Book
8. Hail, Caesar!
9. Ten Cloverfield Lane
10. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
    *Special Mention to “Hardcore Harry”

*TV*
1. Atlanta
2. American Crime Story: People vs OJ Simpson
3. Americans
4. You’re the Worst
5. Baskets
6. Better Call Saul
7. Stranger Things
8. Better Things
9. Daredevil
10. Vinyl
11. West World
12. Walking Dead
13. American Crime
14. Good Wife, final season!
15. Black Mirror
16. Expanse
17. Survivor
18. Downton Abbey, final season!
19. X-Files
20. Documentary Now

*VIDEO GAMES*
1. Uncharted 4: Thief End
2. Firewatch
3. The Witness
4. Gone Home
5. Inside
6. Oxenfree
7. Gears of War 4 (DNF)
8. No Man’s Sky (DNF)
9. Elder Scrolls Online (DNF)
10. Neverwinter (DNF)
11. Layers of Evil (DNF)
12. Quantum Break (DNF)
          * Special Mention to Twilight Princess HD, Bioshock, & Skyrim
          * And Especially the Mass Effect Trilogy - you are amazing.

*TABLE TOP GAMES*
1. SeaFall
2. D&D 5e “Rage of Demons” & “Princes of the Apocalypse” 
3. Pandemic Legacy
4. London Dread
5. Twilight Imperium

*MUSIC - ALBUMS*
1. Phantogram’s THREE
2. The Avalanches’ WILDFLOWER
3. Doombird’s PAST LIVES
4. Radiohead’s A MOON SHAPED POOL
5. A Tribe Called Quest’s WE GOT IT FROM HERE...
6. M83’s JUNK
7. Frank Ocean’s BLONDE
8. Lewis del Mar’s LEWIS DEL MAR
9. Car Seat Headrest’s TEENS OF DENIAL
10. Mica Levi’s JACKIE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
11. David Bowie's BLACKSTAR
12. Justin Hurwitz’s LA LA LAND ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
13. Peter, Bjorn, and John’s BREAKIN’ IT
14. Dyan’s LOOKING FOR KNIVES
15. Kanya West’s THE LIFE OF PABLO

*MUSIC - SONGS*
1. “Wow” by Beck
2. “We the People” by A Tribe Called Quest
3. “Forget It” by Getter (ft. Tree)
4. “Same Old Blues” by Phantogram
5. “Overflowing” by Doombird
6. “To Move On” by Alex Izenberg
7. “Destroyed by Hippie Powers” by Car Seat Headrest
8. “Days Upon Days” by Dyan
9. “Such Small Scenes” by Lewis del Mar
10. “Five Minutes” by Her
11. “Wings of Love” by liv
12. “City of Stars” by Justin Hurwitz
13. “Breaking Point” by Peter, Bjorn, and John
14. “Open Your Eyes” by School of Seven Bells
15. “Execution” by ANOHNI
16. “Pink + White” by Frank Ocean
17. “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow (ft. Run the Jewels)
18. “Lazerus” by David Bowie
19. “Starboy” by The Weeknd (ft. Daft Punk)
20. “Masterpiece” by Big Thief
21. “Burn the Witch” by Radiohead
22. “Like Eye Did” by Fil Bo Riva
23. “White Flag” by Joseph
24. “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” by PUP
25. “Shivering” by Holy Fuck
26. “Chasing Shadows” by Santigold
27. “When the Tequila Runs Out” by Dawes
28. “Drag Queen” by The Strokes
29. “Do You Wanna Get High” by Weezer
30. “33 ‘GOD’” by Bon Iver

*BOOKS*
1. Hero of Ages
 *Writing a book took out my desire to READ books. Not a good thing.

*STUFF THAT HAPPENED*
1. "AJ" Shoot
2. "The Service” Pitch that Never Happened
3. Disneyland in the Rain
4. “Phased In” - FMPDX, Phased Out Month Later
5. Slow Slooooow Start to Work Year
6. Double Dipped with Work & Dating
7. Twilight Imperium
8. Started "Land Old, Untouched"
9. Trip to London
10. The Cursed Child
11. Gen Con
12. John Williams
13. Worked on VR Productions
14. Saw High School Friend in San Diego
15. First LA Rams Home Game (since 1994)
16. Delusion & Creep LA
17. Austin’s First Birthday
18. No Work November
19. Getting in Better Shape, Stuck at 38"
20. Replaying the Mass Effect & Bioshock Trilogies
21. Finishing “Advent of the Roar”

*NEWS NEWS*
1. Death of David Bowie and Prince
2. Lead in Flint Water
3. Primary Season
4. Zika Virus
5. The Panama Papers
6. Shot Gorilla (Haramba)
7. Brexit
8. Mass Shootings: Orlando, Dallas
9. Black Lives Matters Heats Up
10. DEM & GOP Conventions
11. 2016 Rio Olympics
12. Hurricane Matthew
13. Trump Tapes
14. Dakota Access Pipeline
15. Trump’s Surprise Win
16. Whitelash
17. Ohio Stabbings
18. Russian Interference / Hacking of Election
19. Trucks as Weapons of Terrorism


5 Answers to Questions to I Wanted to Ask Myself on January 2017

1. Did you write more on this blog?
Not really, but I have a feeling, I'm going to do this more. 

2. Did you get your screenplays out there? Did you enter contests? Did you get Representation?
Not a screenplay. Instead -- I wrote a book & just sent it out, so I'll take the win here.

3. Did you get closer to your game?
I did not -- again, book took over the entire year. Perhaps, I'll tinker away a little again this year.

4. Did you lose that weight… FINALLY?!
January of last year, I was 10 pounds heavier. I've actually gotten into a great rhythm and I have a great feeling that 2017 is the year I'll finally have the body I've wanted for quite some time.

5. Are you happy?
In many ways -- yes. Everything isn't perfect, but isn't that the pursuit of every year?

5 Questions to Ask Myself January of 2018
1. Are you happy?
2. Did you take a vacation that wasn't going home and longer than a week?
3. Did you get your credit cards paid off?
4. Did you finish BOOK 2? 
5. Are you making strides in getting BOOK 1 published? 

Special Thanks
Nina, Victoria, Eric, and Kelly for taking the time out of your busy life to read my book. You friends are amazing. Huge thanks to everyone who comes to the Oscar Party & the New Years Party. Thanks to Pano for being my London flatmate. Chris & Jesse for hosting (and paying for) all your fancy game nights. And to Hillary Clinton for doing what only one other American has every been able to do: inspire us to vote for you more than any other politician in US History. Despite your loss, I truly believe in the words of your campaign: we are Stronger Together.