Twenty Nineteen in retrospect

New Year's resolutions, a retrospective of the year that was, my Top 5's and reviews of Little Women and 1917

Kia ora koutou,

Last year I set a resolution of playing more board games, that is, finding time to actually play them. And I pretty much failed at that miserably. I can wait until my kid ages up but who's to say he'll even like board games? He might be playing Fortnite or whatever the new hotness is the rest of the cool kids are playing.

I now feel that New Year's Resolutions are more about an intentional state of being rather than an opportunity to assess annual goals. Like in this Wait But Why piece, goals need to be something you assess often, week by week, whether they're still fit for purpose and what you need to reach that next step.

So my resolution for this year is to pause between activities and maybe questioning whether I actually need to "do the thing". So much of my day to day is just jumping right into the next thing and not taking a moment to smell the roses. It's like I'm keeping myself constantly entertained without a chance to appreciate the present moment, always looking for that next hit of adrenaline, whether it’s a podcast, a videogame or a chore. Even better when I can listen to a podcast while doing chores and being 200% more effective. I'm going to seek out the book Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, which quite fittingly, will also keep me preoccupied.

As for goals I'm not quite sure what I want to do now and I really need to assess that. Creatively I've pretty much dropped all other personal projects and all I have now is this here newsletter, which I'll admit, I have questioned myself numerous times since its inception, is this actually a worthwhile endeavour? I'm going to answer this questionnaire, Year Compass, which gives prompts for thinking about the year gone and the year ahead. There's also this twitter thread (based on this article) that recommends not publically sharing your goals for creative projects as that can affect you psychologically, giving yourself the gratification now instead of delaying it until you've released your project into the wild. I don't know if this is completely the case for me, it may be more procrastination due to fear of a project turning out any good but it's something worth thinking about.

Looking back over my 2019 it's a bit of a whirlwind with most of my time devoted to looking after a wee baby who turns one-years-old this week. I finished a few certificates (He Papa Tikanga Certificate in Tikanga Māori and the National Certificate in Public Sector Services). I was appointed as a PSA National Delegate for my area which has introduced me to a whole new level of union work. And I've been writing this newsletter on and off since March last year.


Don Rowe / The Spinoff

Aotearoa Wins

  • As watered down as the Zero Carbon Bill is, the fact we got it through with almost unanimous support is something worth noting.

  • After the horrific terrorist attack on two Mosques in Christchurch in March, we passed legislation banning semi-automatic weapons that should have been removed long ago.

  • The bravery of the campaigners protecting Ihumātao. It's not over yet but hearing the stories from behind the lines of the peaceful protest gives me hope we will find a way forward.


Top 5’s of 2019

These are my top 5 favourite creative works of 2019, unranked of course. I almost added music and books in here but I just haven't had a wide enough sweep as with the following mediums.

Games

Life is Strange 2

Katana Zero

Telling Lies

A Short Hike

Grindstone

TV

Watchmen

You're the Worst

Barry

Undone

Fleabag

Films

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

Sorry to Bother You

Vai

The Farewell

The Art of Self-Defense


Reviews

Little Women

Greta Gerwig follows up her previous Saoirse Ronan led film, Ladybird, with an adaptation of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. I hadn't actually read the book or seen any other adaptations but going in fresh I was both surprised and delighted at how modern this adaptation feels. This isn't a dreary period drama but a deeply warm, funny and affecting tale that just happens to be set in 1868.

1917

Sometimes you just want something for the spectacle and 1917 delivers in spades. Made to look like one continuous shot, 1917 follows two Lance Corporals on their treacherous journey across war-torn France to deliver an important message. Directed by Sam Mendes (Skyfall) teaming up again with legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049) this film is stunning to look at as the camera moves across narrow trenches, muddy countryside and decimated townships. As for the story; it's very loosely inspired by stories told to Mendes from his grandfather. Think of it more as an encapsulation of that war rather than an actual retelling. It's serviceable, showing rather than telling in real-time, delivering memorable characters and emotional beats despite some implausible moments. See this on the big screen while you can.


Australian Maritime Safety Authority

What you can do right now

With the hottest and driest year on record, fires continue to ravage Australia. It absolutely boggles the mind that people are more willing to believe in conspiracy theories about fire-fighter arsonists and land hungry governments rather than acknowledge man-made climate change is already having an effect on our planet. Donate if you can. Emily Writes is running the Variety for Fireys in Wellington on January 23rd.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, put in your top 5.

*fondly reminisces*

Michael