What I Liked

2021 edition.

What I Liked

Well, here it is, the 2021 edition of my favorite things I consumed this year. As you will recall from previous installments of this much-clamored-for annual list, selections need not be released in 2021 to qualify, though I think in this particular case most of them were anyhow. Alright, here they are, in no particular order, happy new year, be safe out there, see you next time around.



-Returning the Sword to the Stone, a poetry collection by Mark Leidner

-The poet Hera Lindsay Bird’s 2019 interview with Mark Leidner, specifically this passage:

Someone once told me “Make every character as smart as possible.” I forgot who it was, and it took me a million years to even understand what that meant, but once I started trying to apply it, my stories took a leap forward. Another forward leap came when, after taking some acting classes and by trying to write a few movies, I realized that for any scene to be interesting, it has to have an interpersonal conflict, and each character must want something specific from the other, and for that conflict to be interesting, it must escalate while also having no predetermined conclusion. Only by putting all these pieces together – emotionally intelligent characters who are in a conflict with one another that escalates and has no foregone conclusion – do you have a recipe for compelling relationships. To me the best stories occur when everyone – protagonists, villains, even frame characters – are all extremely smart. Only then do the outcomes of their conflicts seem unpredictable and therefore verisimilitudinous.

-“Winter Solstice,” a poem by Henri Cole

-For All Mankind

-Thunder in the Mountains, a fascinating history of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) War by Daniel J. Sharfstein

-Foundation (2021)

-Midnight Mass


-The Witcher


-“The Opener,” a story by Fran Hoepfner

-Bo Burnham’s Inside

-Michael Kandel’s critique of Bo Burnham’s Inside

-Fjords vol. 2, a poetry collection by Zachary Schomburg

-Dreaming of You, a novel in verse by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

-Dune (2021)

-The Power of the Dog

-The Underground Railroad (2021)

-Get Back (2021)


-The poetry of Linda Gregg

-The Case Against Free Speech by P.E. Moskowitz

-Justin E. H. Smith’s Hinternet, a newsletter by Justin E. H. Smith

-Unpopular Front, a newsletter by John Ganz

-Exclusive Content, a newsletter by Megan Koester

-Kieran’s Newsletter, a newsletter by Kieran McLean

-Nwanevu, a newsletter by Osita Nwanevu

-Jewish Currents

-Bon Appetit’s Slow-Roast Gochujang Chicken


-The Jeselnik and Rosenthal Vanity Project

-Hollywood Handbook

-Office Hours Live with Tim Heidecker

-Snelson: Comedy Is Dying, a comic book by writer Paul Constant, artist Fred Harper, colorist Lee Loughridge, and letterer Rob Steen

-“Nicole,” a short directed by Edy Modica and Ian Faria

-NoBudge generally

-Carmen Christopher: Street Special

-Inspector Ike



-The White Lotus

-MacGruber (2021)

-The Other Two

-Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

-Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, a comedy special by James Acaster

-No Sudden Move

-The Green Knight


-The Card Counter


-Raisin Man Arena, a podcast hosted by Sarah Wilson, Sam Lanier, and Felipe Di Poi

-Excellent Week, a podcast hosted by Maya Sharma and Justin Linville

-Dana H., a play by Lucas Hnath and Dana Higginbotham, directed by Les Waters

-Gnit, a play by Will Eno, directed by Oliver Butler

-McCartney III

-Lost in the Cedar Wood, by Johnny Flynn and Robert Macfarlane

-Don’t Applaud: Either Laugh or Don’t, an oral history of The Comedy Cellar by Andrew Hankinson

-“Endorphin Port

-Ed Cara’s work at Gizmodo

-Anna Merlan’s work at Vice

-Angelica Jade Bastién's work at Vulture

-Soraya Roberts’ work at Defector (and elsewhere)

-Olivia Cathcart's work at Paste

-Lili Loofbourow's work at Slate

-Nitish Pahwa's work at Slate

-What We Do in the Shadows

-The great state of Idaho, pictured throughout and below