Countdown to 2022: 2021 Books

Last year, I read 11 books! This year I read 10. I just made my usual goal of 10 books per year. I also listened to a lot of podcast and have started including those at the end of this list.

2021 Books

Overall, I read 4 fiction books (3 contemporary, and 1 classic of short stories–same number of fiction books as last year), 5 non-fiction books (1 design/disability book, 1 history book, 1 product/business book, 1 book of letters/biography, and 1 Political Science/Abolition–last year I read 3 non-fiction), and 1 book of poetry. I read 2 non-American authors this year; last year I didn’t ready any. Last year I read 6 female authors, with 2 being women of color; this year I read 5 female authors with 1 being a woman of color. 8 books were for book clubs: 1 for my virtual book club with my college friends (last year there was 1), and 3 were for the fiction book club at work–last year there were 3, and then 1 was for the product book club at work, 1 was for the abolition study group, and 2 were for the ERG discussion groups at work. Usually I try to read 1 book by someone I know, and I did not do that this year. Last year I read 1 book because it related to something I was writing/working on (same as last year), but I did not do that this year either.

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Countdown to 2022: 2021 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…

Last year I watched 11 shows from 2020. This year I watched 12 shows from 2021–doing well! I technically didn’t finish all of Dickinson because they put out two seasons this year, but since I watched the bulk of it I am keeping it on my 2021 list. Last year I also watched 7 seasons from previous years, including one that I watched twice (with two different people), plus a PBS doc. This year I watched 11–back to previous year’s numbers. 

Saved by the Bell, Full House, and Dickinson all in one photo.

1. Saved  by the Bell
The second season started off a little slowly but then really picked up steam with the spirit competition. I definitely did not see those twists coming! By the penultimate and final episode I was in tears from the emotional rollercoaster. There was more focus on the adults this season but it was still a pretty even split with the kids, which is good because I care about both the kids and the adults equally at this point.

2. The Babysitters Club
The most comforting comfort show, and I definitely sobbed through more than one of these episodes as well, especially when Claudia’s grandmother died. I was sad that they didn’t have as many episodes this second season–I wish there were as many episodes as there are books and more. 

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Countdown to 2022: 2021 Movies

Sisters with Transistors

Last year I saw 29 movies, the first year I combined movies watched at home in my total. This year I saw 0 movies in the theater because of Covid, 7 new movies and older movies streaming from movie theaters, and 24 older movies streaming, all for a total of 31 movies!

I saw 6 new feature-length movies (1 of them twice) either in the theater, from theaters, or new movies streaming that would have been shown in theaters this year. 1 was from film forum, 1 was from Metrograph, 1 was originally from theaters but then I watched through PBS, 1 was independent, 1 went to Netflix for streaming, and the other went to HBO for streaming. 1 was an older film and 5 were new.  I saw all these movies for the first time.

My rating system uses stars and equates as follows: 1=bad, 2=ok 3=really good 4=great.

My favorite new movies (4 stars) this year were:
Tick… Tick… Boom

Runners up (3.5 stars):
Sisters with Transistors

My favorite old movie I saw for the first time:
Hannah Arendt

My favorite old movies I loved seeing again:

The (Not-So) Big List:

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Countdown to 2022: 2021 Theater

The Alcestiad on Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedom’s Park

Last year I saw 87 showsThis year I saw 36. 4 of those were in person outdoors (one an outdoor screening of an opera). Last year I watched 65 streaming shows. I’m not sure why that slowed down this year. Maybe there were fewer of them. Maybe I got tired of watching so many. Maybe I had less time. Indoor theater did come back in the fall, but I didn’t go to it. There was a lot I wanted to see, though.

I performed/read in 4 shows: 7th Annual McGuire & Simon Holiday Salon and the Thornton Wilder Society readings. 0 shows were connected to an article I wrote (1 fewer than last year). I watched 7 operas (last year it was 10). I’m grateful for the in-person pieces that also streamed and the pieces done just for streaming.

I have highlighted my favorites, and after the favorites is the HUGE list of everything I saw. Then, I have listed some fun panels, exhibits, and events I also attended this year.

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THE QUESTIONS I NEVER ASKED SONDHEIM

In 2007, in my second year of grad school at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, my class had a program with Stephen Sondheim at the Dramatists Guild. I don’t really remember much from this talk except Sondheim said the word “kerfuffle” and I found it amusing enough to write in my notes. But in preparation for the talk, the teacher organizing it had us submit questions that he would then combine to form the more general topic questions he asked at the talk.

I took this opportunity to write out every question I had for Sondheim thus far. They are very specific and I was annoyed that I couldn’t ask him each one directly, although I understand why things were done the way they were, I guess…. I don’t know why I never had the desire to try to ask him these questions myself, especially after learning that he responded to letters. I’ll have to go over this with my therapist next week. But here are the questions I wrote in 2007 and never directly asked Sondheim.

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WATCHING SONDHEIM WATCHING SONDHEIM

One of my experiences with Sondheim, which I wrote about immediately after it happened, and I’m glad I did. I think it’s probably similar to many people’s experiences seeing him in the theater, but at 22 I felt like it was really special. And it was to me.

January 30, 2005

In third grade I could recite the entirety of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods and did so for my family on several occasions.  In high school I discovered his Sunday in the Park with George, and suddenly the stage was a portal into aspects of myself, revealed through art. One by one I discovered each of his shows – Merrily We Roll Along, Follies, A Little Night Music.

Finally, at age 22, I was seeing Pacific Overtures for the first time, but the mundane start to the day belied what was ahead for me.

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New Recording of “I Wish I Could Want” Featuring Sarah Aili

I am so thrilled that one of my singer-songwriter and musical theater faves Sarah Aili recorded the song “I Wish I Could Want,” which I wrote with Gaby Alter for my one-woman show Not Coming Back a few years ago.

Link to “I Wish I Could Want” on Sound Cloud.

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Countdown to 2021: 2020 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…

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Countdown to 2021: 2020 Books

Last year, I read 14 books! This year I read 11. Not as many as last year but I still surpassed my usual goal of 10 books per year. I also listened to a lot of podcast and have started including those at the end of this list.

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Countdown to 2021: 2020 Theater

Last year I saw 89 shows, my highest in a while. This year I saw 87. 22 of those were in person, and 65 were streaming, after the shutdown. This is the first year ever that I’m counting streaming shows, of course, but that was my only option after March 12th. I’m glad I was able to see so much theater in person before the shutdown, and I’m glad I was able to see so much streaming theater afterward, theater that I had missed when it was in person or it was something from abroad or another city that I could not have seen.

Of the in-person shows, I saw most of them for free or paid a discount rate. I also performed in 1 of them: The Pops Rodgers and Hammerstein concert. 1 show (same as last year) was connected to an article I wrote, this one for American Theater Magazine. That show was in Atlanta. 3 were comedy (standup or variety) shows, 1 was an opera, and 1 was virtual reality. Of the streaming shows, I preferred full productions from the past to live Zoom readings, but I did watch some of those too. I watched 10 operas (including all three Philip Glass operas in his trilogy). 28 streaming shows that I watched were made during the pandemic, either a new work or something being done again live. I participated in 4 of the readings for the Thornton Wilder Society. I also listened to three pieces, which I’ve mentioned separately: two plays and a radio show.

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