10 Things I Loved This Year

Andy Ward
7 min readDec 27, 2020

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ASMR
This year we needed quiet. ASMRtists this year should have been deemed essential workers. I used ASMR like some might use marijuana, before bed, to quiet my mind, to zone out, and to get artistic. This was the year of ASMR. The sleep shamans helped mellow out days of anxiety, ear bangs from the news, and the constant ambulance sirens. Meditation and mindfulness seem too difficult and out of reach for me. ASMR was a way to quiet my mind, focus on something else, and learn what a blue yeti mic is. If there ever is a god, I hope she sounds just like Maria (GentleWhispering).

Notable ASMRtists from this year:
Goodnight Moon, Batala’s ASMR, LauraLemurex ASMR, ediyasmr

how i’m feeling now
If there was an album that summarized the COVID 19 lockdown, it would be “how i’m feeling now.” If there was a dish that summarized the COVID 19 lockdown, it would probably be chili. Charli XCX might not be a household name just yet, but I don’t think it matters. What she did in a month was experimental, intimate, and deserves recognition. Charli XCX is kind of like that cilantro gene- either you taste the earthy, peppery richness of cilantro, or it just tastes like soap. To some you hear a Zoom pots and pans session, but to me, this album was COVID pop euphoria.

Claywoman
2020 for comedy was bad. Tell me a movie you thought was funny this year. I’ll wait. You said Borat and Wine Country. Unfortunately Wine Country was from last year, 2019, and, well actually I didn’t think about Borat. Borat was probably the only funny thing that came out of this year besides Claywoman. Claywoman (a character created by Michael Cavadias) is an alien who was born millions of years ago but still creates content for us still stuck on this blue planet. Claywoman had some of the funniest podcasts and live shows this year that I gobbled up quicker than Season 2 of the Mandalorian. The concept of Claywoman may seem frivolous but her chats about the human experience with Anohni, or class warfare with Professor Catherine Liu, or Cole Escola’s battle with dirt were some of the most uplifting and thoughtful moments I shared this year.

Claywoman’s Spotify Page:
https://open.spotify.com/show/4fwDInsuhI3ShSrN3A8II1

Animal Crossing
I hate laundry. I hate fully drying myself off after a shower. Cleaning dishes after I cooked them? What’s next? You want me to push a boulder up a hill? I hate small tasks, that some people call “chores” — they’re annoying! I rather be writing a listicle on Medium that will garner 10 views. Why then do I love plucking heaps of weeds from a virtual town and paying off a hut in a game when I know I might never own a house? That’s exactly it, because this game gave me this idea that I had power over my surroundings. Can I make someone wear their mask at the grocery store? No. Can I plant 50 apple trees in my Animal Crossing town while wearing a Melanie Griffith “Working Girl”?Yes. Animal Crossing in 2020 was a zen garden, a place to relax, reflect and avoid Twitter, which were all necessary things this year.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs — I Can Hear the Birds
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs was one of the best finds for me this year. TEED or Orlando Higginbottom put together an EP so symphonious and harmonic you will wonder how you knew peace before it. TEED heard the sound of birds one day during quarantine, and decided to riff off that idea. He added synthes and piano, and from there — came perfection. If you need a sound bath and a moment of serenity, a break from the chaos of this year, you must listen to this EP.

Transcendent Kingdom
A must read novel, A Ghanaian-American woman is working on a thesis to study the neural-reward system in mice that relate to addiction and depression. This was a sober look on America and how America treats those suffering with addiction, and America’s involvement (or lack of involvement) in black lives. The book touches on religion, race, mental illness, dependency. This book is perfect for your next book club or is a great audio-book (how I consumed it) while taking your sanity walks through Prospect Park.

TikTok
You may be reading this list and notice I haven’t listed a whole lot of TV shows. That is because TikTok is my TV. It is my TV, my breakfast in the morning, my Buddha, my guiding light, my cigarette, and of course my loving mother tucking me in at night. TikTok is the great social media equalizer. Millionaire teens dancing to Doja Cat (I sound one billion years old after writing that) get the same air time as nurses eating keto meals during their breaks. I’ve never so much in my life learned more about dissociative identity disorder, the keto diet, polyamorous relations, and Jason Derulo then when I’ve spent my time on TikTok. TikTok is a crazy mindfuck, it’s a fever dream, and it’s an energy sucker. However, I’ve never felt more connected to “Middle America” I’ve seen the lives of black families loving their autistic sons, and trans women living in a red state, and families split down the middle Trump/Biden. I have seen real lives and not just what Ryan Murphy wants me to see. I think that’s important. I also have seen many men half naked. I also think that’s important.

Some of my favorite TikTok Creators:
Snarky Marky, drew_talbert, nannymaw, tabathabrown

Host
Zoom is a nightmare. One time I had a dream that my mute button wasn’t on during a meeting and I farted. M. Night Shyamalan: if you’re reading this, I’ll send you the script later. Host is a horror movie directed during the quarantine, and was focused on the minimalism of horror. Friends get on Zoom to perform a séance, and doom ensues. Host ate into our fears of loneliness and being on screens at all times. There was no gilding the lily or billion dollar CGI monsters. It was suspenseful and well acted — and should be placed in the time capsule of 2020, along with The Tiger King.

She Dies Tomorrow
Anxiety, Jane Adams, Chris Messina, and a bottle of scotch. If that sounds like a perfect night to you -this movie might be for you. The main plot of this movie is that characters believe they are going to die the next day, and as soon as they express that fear to someone, the curse is then passed on. Then that person dies. Some might say this was the worst year for this movie to come out, and some might argue it was the best. When it’s possible you can get COVID just from going to the dentist, the sense of fear and dread and anxiety were all palpable and reasons why this movie was so effective. It is beautiful, and well acted, and a must see for horror enthusiasts.

Sidenote:
I don’t understand why Jane Adams doesn’t have a huge cult gay following. She deserves it. I will be screenprinting shirts that say “Step on my Neck Jane Adams Sis” and be selling them on Etsy.

Porter Robinson’s Secret Sky Set
There was no Coachella this year, or concerts, or live music. For me, music is lifeblood and it was difficult to not get to experience any of that real time. Joy this year was extremely hard to come by. Hell, one of the highlights of my year was learning you can order groceries via an app. Porter Robinson whose specialty is making music that sounds like you’re in a video game, put on a “virtul Coachella” that featured the likes of Madeon, AG Cook and, Kizuna AI. Robinson’s set from this event was one I revisit almost weekly. There is magic in what he does, and he has a Midas touch when it comes to mixing music. The thought of combining Avril Lavignes “I’m With You” and “Language” is nothing short of genius. He created an app to post his set and host the event, and in one night it felt like a genuine connection to humanity, and music. This set is one of my highlights of 2020 and I think created a precedent for the future of EDM music.

Watch the set here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KGsgpFiswQ&t=1709s

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Andy Ward

25 writer, comedian. wants to be in Ina Garten’s inner circle