Media Recap

Table of Contents

    Another year, another recap. Here is the highlight reel of all the stuff I enjoyed this year: film & tv, music, games, and books. I record all this in my Media Diary.

    Film & television

    Drawing of a hand holding two movie tickets. My watch habits this year turned out to be similar to last year’s: I watched 44 movies and 14 TV shows (versus 48 and 13 in 2022, respectively). I bought a TV, which was exciting. I haven’t had a TV in more than a decade, and it was nice to sit on the couch and watch stuff. I also went to the theatres a lot.

    My favourite thing

    My favourite thing I watched this year was Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. There was this wonderful period in June where I saw it repeatedly in theatres. Imagine: a warm summer night, and you go and watch your favourite movie on the big screen, and it’s so enjoyable and then you go do it again. Everything about Spider-Verse was exciting and beautiful: the art and animation (of course), the story arcs, the music, the characters.

    Concept art of Miles and Gwen looking up at Miguel, with dramatic blue lighting and red shadows.
    Colour key by Kat Tsai (@Chuwenjie), whose work is gorgeous
    Character design sketches of Miguel's suit.
    Character design by Kris Anka (@kristaferanka)


    • The art and animation: I could sit here forever and talk about this. Perhaps, my favourite thing: how Spider-Verse applies other mediums to animation—e.g. the half-tone effects on Miles’ suit, Gwen’s watercolour verse, the comic bubbles and text.
    • The music: I love Gwen’s theme—her swinging over to the Guggenheim is such a thrill—and the entire intro Vulture sequence; the mounting intensity of Falling Apart (when Miles exits the Go Home Machine); the Across the Spider-Verse (Start a Band) reprisal at the end.

    Other highlights

    • The Bear: I’m still on season 2, but this has been superb.
    • The French Dispatch: I enjoyed this so much, and have rewatched it several times since. I listened to its soundtrack for ages.
    • Ratatouille: I rewatched this and it made me cry. It’s not only beautifully animated (it’s Pixar, after all; the food looks sublime) but the final message, spoken by the food critic, hits a lot harder as an adult:

      In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

    • Tokyo Godfathers: a truly excellent Christmas movie. It’s about three homeless people who find an abandoned baby, and then try to find its parents. It’s both very comedic and very heartfelt.

    Retrospective on last year’s goals

    Did I succeed in watching:

    • Prestige™ / classic films: sort of. I did watch two of the three movies I highlighted—Pride & Prejudice and In the Mood for Love, but not Fight Club—but there wasn’t much else.
    • Stuff with nice cinematography: yes, a bunch of Wes Anderson movies; Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers.
    • Casual stuff for background viewing while multitasking: eh, not really. Also, this is probably a crime.
    • Ridiculous movies like Hackers: no
    • Recommended movies from friends: not really
    • Web series: no


    Drawing of a hand holding a phone using a music app. I listened to mostly the same kind of stuff this year, instead of new music and complete albums as I aspired to last year. Perhaps next year will be more adventurous.

    according to Spotify—
    Top artists: Taylor Swift, Portugal. The Man, Khruangbin, Florence and the Machine, and Daniel Pemberton.
    Top songs: Aline by Jarvis Cocker, Thunderdome and Champ by Portugal The Man, Le Festin by Camille, and the French song J'en deduis que je t'aime by Charles Aznavour.
    Top genres: pop, k-pop, modern rock, rap, and j-pop.

    I attended four concerts this year:

    1. The Budos Band, whom my partner is a fan of. I didn’t really vibe with this.
    2. Red Hot Chili Peppers, also along with my partner. I don’t listen to them but it was fun!
    3. Janelle Monáe, who I do adore.
    4. Portugal. The Man, who were fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed their new album this year.
    Silhouettes of the band on stage, playing under red and blue lights and surrounded by fog.
    portugal. the man

    And some of my favourite songs:


    Jarvis Cocker – CHANSONS d'ENNUI TIP-TOP

    Mona Lisa

    Dominic Fike – Sunburn


    Olivia Rodrigo – GUTS

    Hit Me Up (ft. Nomovodka)

    Binz – Đan Xinh In Love

    Champ (ft. Edgar Winter)

    Portugal. The Man – Chris Black Changed My Life

    Odoriko (踊り子)

    Vaundy – replica


    Drawing of hands holding the gun Ruinous Effigy from Destiny. Just like last year, most of my PC gaming time in 2023 was spent with Destiny 2. According to Steam, it took up 87% of my playtime (up from 76% last year).

    Steam year in review, showing that I played 13 games, got 39 achievements, played 337 sessions, and played 5 new games.
    Steam recap. Most played games are Destiny 2, Remnant II, Garden Galaxy, Wilderplace, and Terra Nil.

    Destiny highlights

    Mini drawing of a Destiny warlock giving a thumbs up. And once again, this year’s highlight was contest mode raiding. I spent a lovely 17 hours over two days doing Root of Nightmares. It was, maybe, less thrilling than last year’s Vow of the Disciple, but still intense.

    Fireteam members emoting next to the raid boss's corpse.
    rip nezarec
    Raid summary screen, showing four of six team members using Starfire Protocol.
    commemorating starfire protocol dps meta

    More tragically, I also spent a silly number of hours in Crota’s End contest mode, to not much success—we gave up on the second encounter at the bridge. Being stuck in the first encounter for five hours was quite something. But the company was good and I don’t regret it at all.

    Game screenshot showing that I'm dead and waiting to be revived. My cause of death is 'swinging pendulum.'
    typical first encounter experience

    There’s probably going to be a lot of downtime between now and when the next expansion comes out in June, so I look forward to playing other games and doing minimal Destiny grinding.

    Other games

    When I wasn’t playing Destiny, I spent time with:

    Game artwork of Link.
    Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: this consumed me for a bit when it came out. I never got into BotW—the controls were hard as I wasn’t used to playing on controller—but I finally got used to it here. Sadly, I never finished it though.
    Character looking up at a castle-like structure, surrounded by orange leaves and marble statues.
    Remnant II: there was a couple of weeks in August where I played a bunch of this and then stopped. But it was fun! The environments are varied and beautiful. The gameplay is similar enough to Destiny that I could adapt, and it was fun using similar weapons (like Remnant’s version of Anarchy, or the mod that creates Threadling-like worms).
    A wintry scene made up of isometric blocks, featuring a bunny, lots of snow, and various plants in teacups.
    Garden Galaxy: I played this on and off. Despite loving it, I got burnt out on the inventory management aspect. I returned to it this month to play a new content update.
    A cat lounging on a village bed.
    Minecraft: I finally learned (ish) how to play this in the fall, after briefly trying it way back in January. There was a week or two where I thought about nothing but Minecraft and it was kind of fun.

    Last year’s goals

    I didn’t play much more of my Steam library (in fact, I bought more games); I did play lots of Zelda on my Switch; I didn’t really get better at Destiny PVP but I started maining Blink + Ruinous Effigy, which is stupid fun when I succeed at it.


    Drawing of hands holding the book Dune. I read a lot of science fiction this year. This wasn’t intentional, but somehow just happened. I also accepted that not finishing a book is a perfectly valid choice, and thus started and quit several novels. I didn’t read any non-fiction, and reread quite a bit of manga.

    In sum, I read 17 books: 8 novels, 2 novellas, 2 short stories, 4 manga series, and a comic collection.

    Most memorable

    The book that stayed with me the most was The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. It’s about a north Vietnamese spy who comes to Los Angeles after the fall of Saigon, and continues spying on his superiors. I can’t remember the last time I read anything ‘literary’—perhaps not since school—and The Sympathizer was challenging, not only in its subject matter but also its prose.

    I wish I had the range to write more about it. Some thoughts:

    • Part of the novel deals with the topic of Vietnam War films, with particular allusions to Apocalypse Now. I’ve never seen a Vietnam War movie (be it western or Vietnamese), so I’ve added a few of them to my to-watch list.
    • History is sobering and sad. I feel a certain amount of—for lack of a better word—privilege, for thinking about this. There’s an interview where Nguyen’s brother is quoted:

      “I have never made it through a movie about the Vietnam War,” he said. “I refused to pick up a book about the war. Does that mean it doesn’t matter? No, it means it matters way too much. This is how people cope.”

    • It matters too much. I am exceedingly lucky to not know war. My life will never be as hard as that of my parents or extended family, who immigrated to Canada and built a life for themselves here.

    I went and bought a physical copy of the book, which I look forward to marking up as I reread it.

    To end this, here is a passage:

    You must claim America, she said. America will not give itself to you. If you do not claim America, if America is not in your heart, America will throw you into a concentration camp or a reservation or a plantation. And then, if you have not claimed America, where will you go?

    Other reading highlights

    • Pet Sematary by Stephen King: this was a slow burn and filled me with so much dread. While reading it, I thought it was not that scary despite this dreadfulness—certainly, not as scary as The Shining—but then later that night I couldn’t stop thinking about some of the scenes and ended up sleeping with the lights on.
    • Somehow, I ended up reading a lot of sci-fi: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers was a delightful solarpunk novella, set in a utopia; I finally got around to The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (transl. Ken Liu); Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir was fun, despite my reservations with its writing; I finally finished Frank Herbert’s Dune.
    • Anya from Spy Family with sparkly eyes. Manga: I reread much of Naruto and Bleach, and read Boruto. idk man. I could have read One Piece for the first time instead. But you know, manga from your youth has that allure. And I keep up with SPY × FAMILY.

    Last year’s goals

    I did not read consistently, nor did I read classics, non-fiction, or books I own.

    Great job, self!

    Goals for 2024

    Okay, lol, to be serious. I made goals last year and failed at most of them. Look at those reading goals! All failures! But I feel like I had a good year reading, so I still feel satisfied.

    Let’s try some different goals:

    • Write better reviews/thoughts on things. Write actual reviews for things I watch, instead of one-word descriptors (how many ‘charming’ things do I watch? a lot, it seems), especially if the work is meaningful and invites reflection. Not everything needs an essay, but I’ve already proven to myself the value of articulating my thoughts. Writing is a muscle I want to exercise.
    • Figure out a more interesting way of maintaining my music list. It’s the most boring of my media collections, I think—it’s just a bunch of songs I like. I think it’s boring to both me and you (the reader), boring to maintain, boring to look back on. Music is one of those things I have pretty much no literacy in, so I wouldn’t know how to write about it, but perhaps in 2024 I can evolve it.
    • Branch out from these categories to include their more informal, short-form variants: YouTube creator content, longform internet writing, webcomics. This would involve some restructuring on my media data; e.g. how would I depict a video essay alongside movie posters?

    Thanks for reading! 🫡