2016 was an endless spiral of horrors and traumas and disasters, plus it was the year I made my debut as a novelist. We lost some of our best celebrities, like Prince, and Carrie Fisher. We lost the authors of two of my favorite novels, Katherine “Geek Love” Dunn and Richard “Watership Down” Adams.
We had a grueling election that exposed nests of nastiness everywhere – the dishonesty of modern news media, the untruthful propaganda polluting our Facebook feeds, the polarized shouting, the low blows and dirty laundry. I’m giving the Donald a chance to be an awesome republican in the tradition of Johnny Ramone … although I noticed he is having trouble finding artists to serenade him as he seizes office, which is sort of an indication that the Republican side is heavily laced with people prone to specific musical anhedonia -- and in fact some scientists even postulate there are hardwired cognitive differences between liberals and conservatives in the form of novelty seeking (which is something I’ve known for some time, as a musically oriented liberal raised by musically anhedonic conservatives).
Anyway, I wish people would get around to accepting all this, and come up with ways to include the musicans and the anhedonics and the novelty seekers/avoiders in the same way we worry about melanin distribution and gender balance, and get away from the mule-headed “let’s just beat them over the head with blank slates until they think exactly the way we do” approach, since it appears all these human variants have been failing at trying to eradicate each other for centuries, probably due to the considerable amount of cross-breeding/fraternizing, and the cold hard truth is that societies that allow multiple flavors of excellence outperform the other kind by a considerable margin. Plus once you get us all riled up and fighting over stupid nonmutable stuff like inborn personality types, the easier it is for foreign governments and evildoers and people like that to sneak around meddling with our elections. And henceforth I will only be discussing politics that are heavily enshrouded in veils of metaphor (unless you can sing the countersign). Good luck filling my beloved fellow kama’aina Obama’s shoes, Mister Trump. /soapbox.
I will concede that 2016 brought me two of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. First there was Moana, a Disney princess from my homeland, bringing us the most amazingly beautiful and non-culturally offensive and entertaining Disney cartoon I’ve ever seen. They even had this Oceanic Study Trust thing going on to help make the plot of Moana more culturally sensitive, and as a result we got that amazing scene of people migrating through the South Pacific on boats, which gives me chicken skin just thinking about it.
Meanwhile Rogue One was the Star Wars movie I’ve been waiting for all my life – 99.99% Jedi-free, with no dreary actionless interludes, an awesome girl hero and enough engineering failure to keep a planetful of accident reconstructionists busy for a hundred years.
Now as far as television, there was Outlander, which I’ve been awaiting for decades, and so far it has not disappointed me at all. Then there was Westworld. I’m not sure either of these shows are YA-appropriate so I’m debating whether to blog about them. Outlander has passionate steamy sex plus some cool history about the Jacobite uprising. Westworld is for people who really get into those videogames with narrative arcs and lore. As well as people who worry about whether Siri has feelings, and people who like nihilistic violence, and people who worry about nihilistic violence but watch it anyway – that latter category would probably include me. I wasn’t too sure about Westworld until it zapped me with a string quartet arrangement of an old Nine Inch Nails song, which previously I had only heard inside my own head. Bravo.
My other musical highlight for 2016: Ween got back together and toured, and I got to see them. Ween is a band from the ‘90s that excels at studio tricks and juvenile humor. Here’s Poop Ship Destroyer:
On the personal side, 2016 involved a certain amount of bellyache. I ate some bad corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick’s day that sent me to the ER to rule out appendicitis and I’m still feeling somewhat gastrointestinally reconfigured after a year of probiotics and gluten avoidance and Vitamin D supplements. Apparently my internal biome has gone through some coups and revolutions and I now have an even more sensitive stomach than I did before. The truly amazing part is that this changed me from a night owl to an early riser. The less than amazing part is that my writing has been forestalled by one too many days where I felt too crappy to write much, so I’m a little behind schedule.
The highs and lows were steep, and I will be happy to see 2016 in my rear view mirror.