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David's 2019 books, movies, television shows, and podcasts

December 31, 2019 • 9:49 PM

Every three months, I reflect on the media I consumed in that time period. Here, I’ve listed each book, movie, TV show season, and podcast I finished in October, November, and December 2019. I’ve only included those works which I’d never completed previously, or which I’d finished so long ago it felt unfamiliar (eg: The Joy Luck Club, which I last read in high school).

This is not my complete media diet. I also watched a lot of TV that isn’t worth recapping, notably a bunch of Simpsons and Billy on the Street episodes, plus MLB and NBA games. I also subscribe to several podcasts which I enjoy, but don’t listen to every episode: The Right Time with Bomani Jones, The Lowe Post, and WTF with Marc Maron. I got tired of Chapo Trap House and stopped listening to it this year, and The Deadcast appears to have bitten the dust thanks to the idiots who destroyed Deadspin.

Speaking of Deadspin, it used to be one of the few websites I read every single day, but alas. So was Hmm Daily, which is now the Hmm Weekly newsletter. I don’t have much loyalty to any remaining sites, but I do make sure every day to read Kottke, Dear Prudence on Slate, and I check ESPN. I subscribe to several newsletters, but actively look forward to the ones from Will Leitch, Anne Helen Petersen, and The Action Cookbook, though TrueHoop is great, too, and I'm strongly considering paying for it.

Someday, I’m going to quit social media because it’s probably a net negative on my life because I can lose hours just churning through *content* but it turns out I have to maintain access to Facebook for work, Instagram gives me a bigger serotonin hit than anything else, and Twitter is a cesspool that happens to also be the most efficient way to find interesting things to read. All in all, seems like a fair trade.

Let’s get to it.

About that time The Berenstain Bears tried to address bullying...

December 13, 2019 • 1:34 PM

If you were born after 1970 and grew up in the U.S., you probably read Berenstain Bears books when you were a child. Looking at them now from my adult perspective, they’re generally better-illustrated and more thoughtfully plotted than many other children’s books, especially ones that garnered similar popularity (looking at you, Little Critter).

New Orleans is a weird presence in Disney's remake of The Lady and the Tramp

November 21, 2019 • 3:34 PM

While many of you were watching and re-watching the latest installment of Baby Yoda and the Masked Mystery Man on Disney+, my five-year-old was insisting we watch The Lady and the Tramp live-action remake. Over the course of the movie, I had a gradually growing sense that something about this new movie was odd, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

That feeling persisted until the two dogs watched a jazz band from the roof of a Mississippi river boat that very clearly was not on the Mississippi River, a moment when everything became clear.

Trade Deadline: A dice-based baseball roster strategy game

November 10, 2019 • 11:17 PM

About a decade ago, I went through a Strat-O-Matic phase. This year, I sank more than 100 hours into an Out of the Park Baseball save. Both experiences were fun, but recently I started thinking there ought to be a less time-intensive way to simulate baseball roster management.

Trade Deadline is the game I came up with.

All you need is a pair of dice, the two-page instruction manual, and the six-page Player Type Index, which I’ve linked below. If you’re into fantasy baseball, or Strat-O-Matic, or tabletop games, or all of those, get four or five friends together, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think.

Trade Deadline Instructions and Player Type Index (PDF)

(Photo: "Dice" by Ella's Dad | cc-licensed CC BY 2.0)

"The Americans" and "The Joy Luck Club"

November 3, 2019 • 10:39 AM

Elizabeth and Philip Jennings could have remained childless, if the show’s creators wanted. The Americans could have been a show about Russian spies in their thirties who constantly defy the KGB on whether or not to have children, for example. As is, they could have moved away from Stan Beeman and Pastor Tim. Paige didn’t have to learn about her parents’ secret lives. Paige and Henry could have been killed at some point.

Instead, every moment of the show revolved around the Jennings children, which is why, as I plowed through all 75 episodes over the past couple months, I kept coming back to The Joy Luck Club.

How I fear flying

November 3, 2019 • 10:23 AM

I’m holding The Fiancee’s hands with both of mine.

"Don’t worry," she says. "I brought lotion this time so my hands won’t dry out from your sweat."