Last year, I attempted to cobble together a “Best of 2018” post that turned out really disappointing for me. I waited too long and didn’t give myself enough time to really write it out in a thoughtful and appealing manner. This year, to combat that, and to avoid an Instagram Top 9 post, I’ve done my due diligence and update this post as things tickled my fancy in the year 2019. Without further ado, here are the things I liked most in 2019.
Queer Eye Season 3
This show just brings with it such an unabashed tone of understanding and optimism it never fails to make me excited and smile. The episode with the Jones sisters, in particular, was an incredibly uplifting 40 minutes of entertainment. I got some great food ideas for Antoni, self-care ideas from Jonathan, even more French tucks from Tan, introspective activities from Kuramo, and incredible home designs from Bobby. This is such a feel-good show that I can’t recommend it enough! Especially this season with its ventures into Kansas City.
What about Season 4, you may ask? Well, between the hullabaloo about the final episode, the weirdness in some of their selections for their heroes, and the whole “let’s meet your shooter” discomfort, I’d have to say Season 3 was the superior season. I can’t speak about the Japan episodes as I haven’t had the opportunity to watch them, but I hear they have some issues as well.
Yes, technically they started blowing up in 2018, but it wasn’t until March of 2019 that YouTube finally recognized that I spent time in Mongolia and recommended this incredible Mongolian folk-rock band. Their videos have millions of views and I’m super excited to see their super modern Mongolian traditional looks getting such an audience across the world. From the throat singing to the horse head fiddles, it reminded me of all the great times I had in Mongolia and the parts of the culture that I truly admired.
Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo Present… by LSD
Hot diggity, with some really trippy tracks like Audio and Genius from last year, the release of their full album really snuck up on me and took me by surprise. The album is incredibly short– only about 30 minutes total– but its a nice story with a distinctly constructed soundscape. I love listening to the tracks and I really hope this partnership continues in the future.
30-50 Feral Hogs and the Discussion About Invasive Species
This. This came out of nowhere and really derailed much of my media consumption when it erupted. The memes were spicy: I laughed, I cried, and then my podcast feed decided to do what it does best: Investigate seemingly odd, unseen, or mundane issues. Reply All had this absolutely bonkers episode about the man who set it all off with his tweet, the actual feral hog dilemma, and how assholes with GoPros mowing down feral hogs from helicopters with AK47s are making everything worse. It was one of the wildest internet rides of the year and I’m glad I was a passenger.
What We Do In the Shadows
I didn’t get an opportunity to watch this show until the Fall, but boy am I glad I did! I think the style and format from the original movie transitions perfectly to a TV show format. I love the addition of the energy vampire, the personalities of the Staten Island group, and how they delve a bit more into the whacky vampire mythos and culture that exists in modern times. It’s also strangely soothing and relaxing to watch, despite the intense gore and jokes. I highly recommend this one!
Fountain Tip Pens from Pilot and Sarasa Gel Pens
My wife has been really into stationary, and Japan has helped her push that to the next level with pens in particular. We’ve been to a five-story stationary store down in Ginza more times than perhaps we’d like to admit, and our newest obsessions are Pilot’s fountain tip pens and Sarasa’s gel pens. Writing with a fountain pen has always been a skill I’ve wanted to master; it just seems to ooze class and an eye for detail. While you need thicker paper to keep the ink from bleeding through the page, it hasn’t been too terribly difficult learning how to pen some notes with a fountain tip. The gel pens from Sarasa just feel good to write with. They’re vibrant, inexpensive, and just give you this incredible tactile feedback. If you’re coming to Japan, buy a few of these to take home and be sure to try them out in the store!
Snacks and Drinks
Check out this video for our yearly Snack Attack roundup! I tried a lot of strange and delicious treats from Japanese snack wizards, some more successful than others! This country always has something new, seasonal, or limited edition to tantalize the taste buds, so I can’t wait to do it again next year! Big shoutout this year to the Sake Kitkats. There were four (!) varieties available this year and I’m super glad I was fortunate enough to try them all.
And that’s it for 2019! What were some of your favorite things from 2019? Let me know in the comments!