My primary Writing.com blog.
Welcome to my personal blog.|
Sometimes I write whatever I feel like.
Sometimes I respond to prompts borrowed and/or stolen from the following places:
|"Take up Your Cross" Prompt ▼
If I'm being completely honest, my faith is tested every single day. Organized religion is not something I grew up with, and although I've intellectually made the decision to follow Christ and become a Christian, there are still regular moments where my inherent doubts, skepticism, and desire for empirical evidence test my faith. There are times when I wonder if I've made the right choice, or if I even really understand what I've committed to. As someone who was raised to be exceedingly responsible and self-reliant, it still feels strange to put myself in a position where I'm deferring to someone else's guidance and wishes, especially someone who I don't feel that I clearly hear from on a regular basis.
It feels like this prompt was maybe more oriented toward a defining moment of faith being tested, but the truth for me is that every day is a test of faith. I haven't had any massive, worldview-shattering moments in my spiritual life; it's been more of a steady, repetitive drip-drip-drip of little tests along the way in my daily life. I've probably failed as many of them as I've passed, if not more. But I still wake up every day trying to remain open to whatever God wants to do with my life and seeing where that takes me.
"Blog City Prompt Forum" Prompt ▼
As a matter of fact, I do know that this site has a contest in January where entrants can write a letter to themselves discussing goals for the coming year. Unfortunately, I haven't been eligible to enter "Dear Me: Official WDC Contest" in about eight years since I'm responsible for running it. But I wrote an (unofficial) entry last year for the heck of it, and I think I might write one again this year because I think it's a good practice and I need entries for "Twenty-three in Eleven " .
My main writing goal for 2023 is to get back into a regular writing habit. With work and family obligations, writing has taken a serious backseat for me over the past several years, and I really need t get back into the habit. I'd like to have a new script and a new book written by the end of the year, preferably something I'm actually proud of and can nudge further along toward my ultimate goal of actually doing something with it. I'd also like to get back into writing short stories and essays and other things, which is the main reason why I'm pulling blog prompts from a variety of groups. If I don't have anything specific to write on a given day, I'm hoping to at least write a blog entry or two!
"Blogging Circle of Friends Prompt Forum" Prompt ▼
My biggest goal for 2023 is to get healthy. I wrote above about my writing goals which are also big goals, but I think the overriding thing I need to focus on is my health. Now that I'm in my *cough* forties *cough* the days of being able to eat whatever I want and live a sedentary existence are pretty much over if I want to improve my odds of living a long life (arguably, those days were over more than a decade ago ), so I'm feeling like this is the year I need to make some smarter choices like eating better and exercising more.
I don't exactly know what that looks like at the moment, but I read Atomic Habits last year and really loved the way that it broke down establishing new habits and getting rid of bad habits into small, manageable steps. I'm going to try to do something like that with my health decisions this year, the ultimately goal being to look back on 2023 at the end of this year and see the cumulative effect of a number of small, smart decisions that have been made along the way. I'm not committing to any specific amount of weight lost or fitness goals achieved, I just want to start the process of recalibrating to the right direction and start down that path so I have something to build on over the following months and beyond.
|To qualify for my Watch List every month, the following has to be something that I've watched that's new to me. It doesn't necessarily have to be a current show, but it can't be reruns or rewatches of something I've already seen. So if I'm including it in this list, it means this month is the first time I've watched it. I'll put "DNF" (Did Not Finish) next to anything that I stopped watching and have no immediate plans to finish.
Don't Worry Darling
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol
Pelosi in the House
Emily the Criminal
The Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
The Good Place (Season 2)
The Good Place (Season 3)
Harry & Meghan
The Sex Lives of College Girls (Season 2)
Emily in Paris (Season 3)
Writing (James Patterson MasterClass)
Style for Everyone (Tan France MasterClass)
Writing for Television (Shonda Rhimes MasterClass)
The Bible Project
This was a really good month as far as things to watch. On the feature film side of things, LUCK was a pleasantly surprising animated feature from my former employer Skydance, and PELOSI IN THE HOUSE was a great documentary about Nancy Pelosi's life in politics as captured by her daughter Alexandra, a documentary filmmaker who has been following her around for years. BULLET TRAIN was fun, but the real standout this month was THE GLASS ONION which is writer/director Rian Johnson's sequel to KNIVES OUT and, honestly, it might be even better than the first. It was absolutely delightful.
As far as television goes, I finally got back into THE GOOD PLACE and like it even more than I remembered. The second season of THE SEX LIVES OF COLLEGE GIRLS wasn't quite as great as the first season, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. And the HARRY & MEGHAN documentary series, despite being pretty blatant PR work for the couple, was actually very well produced and showed a lot of pieces of their lives together that hadn't been seen up until this point. I don't mind documentaries with an agenda if they're well done, and this one fit both bills.
I also finally noted the MasterClasses I watched this year, which I definitely need to be better about next year. I always forget that I have a membership and then end up binging an entire class in a couple of days, and I'd like to dedicate more time to slowly consuming the content and learning things over the course of the year in 2023. Lord knows there are no shortage of classes for me to take on the service. But the real winner, IMHO, was The Bible Project, which I finally finished this month (alongside finishing reading the ESV translation of The Bible). If you're not familiar with it, The Bible Project is a fantastic resource for those who want a better understanding of The Bible. They produce a series of animated online videos that review and unpack the story, themes, characters, etc. found therein, all of which are very well produced and really helped me with my understanding of the Bible this year as I read it. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to better familiarize themselves with The Bible and it's incredibly rich and complex history.
TOP PICK: The Bible Project
|It's the end of 2022, which means it's time to review all the reading and listening I've done over the past calendar year. Here's how 2022 breaks down:
= also really enjoyed
Books (click to expand full list) ▼
For the eighth year in a row, I've averaged reading 100+ books a year and, honestly, I'm not sure I'm going to continue. Back in "2020 Reading List" I told myself I was going to scale back in 2021 and then promptly read 100 books again anyway , but this year I'm really going to try to hold myself to it. That sounds weird to have a resolution be "read less" but my Kindle and physical bookshelves aren't overflowing with titles, and I feel like I'm at a place where I either need to expand my reading goal, or make room for a different non-reading goal in my life. I'm going to choose the latter because the reason I read 100+ books a year is in no small part thanks to a bunch of really mediocre genre fiction that I pass the time by reading. And while there's certainly a place for that, I also have to wonder if I'm spending time reading that I should be spending on another hobby (like, oh say, actually writing books!). At the end of 2023, I'd rather say I read 20 genre fiction novels for fun and wrote one of my own (or read some other things) than that I read 80 of them and finished writing nothing. I'm also going to try to pivot to focus a little more on nonfiction next year than I typically do... ultimately, I want my reading goals to supplement and enhance my writing goals, not replace them.
Podcasts (click to expand full list) ▼
Remarkably, I listened to almost the exact same number of podcasts as last year... just six more! Like last year, I've become much more comfortable with skipping podcasts episodes that don't interest me. This coming year, I'm curious whether the 900-ish podcasts I listened to the past two years is going to end up being a sort of equilibrium, or if it'll change significantly. Part of me wants to cut way down on podcasts to create more space for other things, but they really appeal to my natural affinity for learning things; listening to an hour-long podcast about a random topic is just enough to get the gist of something without investing the full time to read a book on the topic. Over the past couple of years I've been cutting down on a lot of "repetitive" podcasts (e.g., I don't need to listen to three different daily news podcasts, or half a dozen different politics podcasts), so there might be some room to further curate what I'm listening to so there isn't a lot of overlap or same information. My favorite podcast of the year continues to be Pod Save America because it's political/current events from hosts that share my left-leaning sensibilities, so it's nice to know that I'm not just in disbelief or confused or outraged by some nonsense in a vacuum... there are other people who are feeling the same way.
Comics (click to expand full list) ▼
I read eleven more comics than last year. Not a huge leap, and it's certainly making me rethink my Marvel Unlimited subscription if I'm just not using it all that much to read comics. Most of the reading I did this year was work-related, or at least related to the work I was doing (I wanted to read some of the popular storylines from my favorite characters of the year to see how their film and television counterparts measured up. I really do hope to read more comics next year, because I really enjoy the medium. Maybe if I focus less on books and a little more on other types of reading, I'll add to this list in 2023.
Scripts (click to expand full list) ▼
I only read about twenty scripts this year compared with forty-four last year. Part of that is because I had fewer projects that I had to read for work, but a big part of it is also that I've found myself really struggling with screenwriting lately. The film and television industry isn't in a great place from a writing perspective, and I've been really discouraged lately. I haven't written a thing in terms of my own screenplays which has meant there's been less of a need for me to read what else is out there to compare and keep up. I'm hoping to get back into screenwriting at least a little bit next year as part of a general effort to write more, so I'm curious if that will cause my script reading numbers to rebound again next year.
TOTALS: 105 books, 891 podcasts, 30 comics, 20 scripts
According to Goodreads, my book reading resulted in the following stats:
Total Pages Read: 27,381
Average Pages Per Book: 260
Shortest Book: 20 pages
Longest Book: 1,846 pages
That's it for my 2022 reading... time to see what 2023 has in store!
I can't in good conscience include the original singer of this song (Justin Bieber), so I instead chose to feature AHMIR, a Boston-based R&B quartet that does a great cover of this song that isn't so... Bieberish. I do think this song is really catchy and enjoyable to listen to, but I just hate Justin Bieber (no matter how many times he shows up in my "The Soundtrack of Your Life" entries over the years... ). Anyway, this is a fun song and AHMIR is definitely worth checking out on their YouTube channel, so maybe some good will come out of this after all.
Hey, remember way back on Day 10 ("Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" ) when I said that I wasn't going to include Mariah Carey's version of this song? Well, I kept my promise and didn't include her version. But, c'mon, it's one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time so I couldn't help but include it on my list. I almost went with the Michael Bublé version, or the one that Olivia Olson sings in Love Actually (one of the all-time great holiday movies), but I decided to include this incredible duet from Ingrid Michaelson and Leslie Odom Jr. I found this one while looking for a different cover version for this challenge and immediately fell in love with it. Both of them have stunning voices, and the arrangement is amazing. I'm definitely adding this version to all of my holiday playlists going forward.
Okay, I couldn't not include Mariah Carey on a "12 Days of "Christmas"" challenge, but I'm going to mix it up a little and include a different song than you know what. I was tempted to do Darlene Love's classic original of this song, or the any number of other covers over the years (including U2, Michael Bublé, and - most recently - Keke Palmer and the cast of Sing 2, but I really do like Mariah Carey's version and thought it was worth including since I'm not going to include her version of "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)."
I've never heard of the Neon Trees before, but I really dig their sound. It's definitely not a traditional Christmas song, but I think that's why I like it. It's a nice change of pace from the old Christmas standards and the modern pop hits. The band is originally from Provo, Utah and was formed in 2005. They rose to prominence in 2008 as an opening act for The Killers, and since their formation have released four albums, three EPs, and eighteen singles. They've also gone through a handful of band members, so I'm actually curious to check out more of their work and see if/how their sound has changed over the years.
I just discovered this song this year thanks to a Spotify playlist of Christmas pop songs. It was originally released in 2020, and I've heard a couple of songs by Ava Max before (notably "Sweet but Psycho" and "Kings & Queens"), but this is the first one that I think really showcases her voice since those other two songs are so heavy on the beat and instrumentals. She actually has a pretty decent voice and this is a quality feel-good Christmas song that's a good option on a playlist during a Christmas get-together or party.
While I generally think that the animated 2018 version of The Grinch is a superior version of the story compared to the 2000 live action film starring Jim Carrey, the one thing the live action version has going for it is this outstanding song by Faith Hill. The thing about this song that I think is the most fascinating is that it was actually originally written and performed by Mariah Carey (making a strong case that she really is the Queen of Christmas!), which was sung by Taylor Momsen in the film. Carey subsequently recorded a full-length pop version of the song, but a legal case between Carey and her ex-husband Tommy Mottola prevented it from being released so it was re-recorded by Faith Hill for the soundtrack.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special was released the day after Thanksgiving, and this is the song at the end of the movie. At first I wasn't super into the song while we were making the movie, but the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. Kevin Bacon has a surprisingly good voice that goes with the country twang of the song. It's also the perfect song to end the Holiday Special on; that last scene is really touching and a lot of fun.
"I Don't Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)"
by The Old 97's
This other song from The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is also a lot of fun, and I'm including it as a bonus. The idea behind the song is that it's an alien band writing a song about what they thing Earthling Christmas is all about from their outside perspective based on stories they've heard. It's super wacky, but kinda catchy and fun at the same time.