My Favorite Things: 2023

365 more days repressing the sad thoughts with media. As is tradition, here they are, my favorites for the year.


2023 will always be remembered as the year I became completely enamored with Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The week we moved into our new home, I decided to check out the back catalogs of artists I felt like I’d been sleeping on. I started with NMH and didn’t get any further than ITAOTS. For months I listened to nothing else. I consider the album perfect and that’s heartbreaking if only because it’s existed almost my entire life and I only just made its acquaintance.

In the few months I was on Tik-Tok, I discovered many newer artists I’d come to love and follow with great interest. Braden Bales and Slimdan both have a knack for melody that I haven’t heard before. Massive talents, both of them. “Chronically Cautious” and “Problem Solver” are two of my favorite tracks this year.

Also, thanks to comedian Sam Campbell, I was introduced to the music of Paul Williams, [1] which I find as solid as it is silly.

These are the records I played most, sorted loosely in order of plays.

  • The Japanese House - In The End It Always Does [2]
  • Mansions - Tuff Luff [3]
  • Samia - Honey [4]
  • Caroline Polachek - Desire, I Want to Turn Into You [5]
  • Joy Oladokun - Proof of Life [6]
  • The Dirty Nil - Free Rein To Passions [7]
  • Paramore - This Is Why [8]
  • Logan Ledger - Golden State [9]
  • Sleep Token - Take Me Back To Eden [10]
  • Fireworks - Higher Lonely Power [11]
  • Vacationer - Cherish
  • Bad Rabbits - Garden of Eden [12]
  • Dominic Fike - Sunburn
  • Blink-182 - ONE MORE TIME…
  • Blue Of Colors - Long Time Coming
  • Barenaked Ladies - In Flight

Honorable Mentions
I liked all of these records too, but didn’t spend as much time with them.

  • boygenius - the record
  • Can’t Swim - Thanks but No Thanks
  • Cherry Glazerr - I Don’t Want You Anymore
  • Dan + Shay - Bigger Houses
  • Daniel Caesar - NEVER ENOUGH
  • Dave Mackinder - Early Bird
  • Dave Mathews Band - Walk Around The Moon
  • Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist - VOIR DIRE
  • Fall Out Boy - So Much (For) Stardust
  • The Front Bottoms - You Are Who You Hang Out With
  • James Blake - Playing Robots Into Heaven
  • Janelle Monáe - The Age of Pleasure
  • Kesha - Gag Order [13]
  • Kevin Abstract - Blanket
  • The Lemon Twigs - Everything Harmony
  • Maisie Peters - The Good Witch
  • Manchester Orchestra - The Valley of Vision
  • Meet Me @ The Altar - Past // Present // Future
  • Meg Myers - TZIA
  • Nail Horan - The Show
  • Petey - USA
  • Runaway Brother - Bedhead X
  • Sampha - Lahai
  • Shame - Food for Worms
  • Taurids - Taurids
  • Zach Bryan - Zach Bryan


  • The Japanese House - ITEIAD Sessions - EP [14]
  • Braden Bales - Nomad - EP
  • Spiritbox - The Fear of Fear - EP
  • Bogues - I Know You’re Getting Older - EP
  • Maybe Aliens - Maybe Aliens - EP
  • Anberlin - Convinced EP
  • saturdays at your place - always cloudy - EP
  • Summer Walker - CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE - EP


I’ve continued culling my podcast subscriptions where possible. I don’t commute much these days, so my listening time is at a premium. This year I finally caught up to My Brother, My Brother, and Me after starting from episode 1 in 2017. That’s a weird feeling, you know?

  • This American Life
  • Love + Radio
  • Heavyweight [15]
  • Roderick on The Line
  • Dear John Letters [16]
  • Reconcilable Differences
  • The Chris Fleming episodes of Punch up the Jam [17]
  • Murder on Sex Island [18]
  • On Fire: The Official Survivor Podcast
  • A Band Called Punchline [19]


We love the movies. 83 newly released films and 278 older ones under my belt this year. The text thread’s film draft had a successful second season with an adjusted format. I took on 61 days of Halloween once more.

This is the year I started building a Criterion Collection of my own. Next year I’m taking on the Criterion Challenge. I also spent a lot of time making lists this year. My crowning achievement is a script-generated collation of the 16 featured lists on Letterboxd stat pages. It sorts all entries by the number of appearances they made across those lists. I call it Closing The Loops. I made a companion version that filters down to what’s available via Criterion as well. [20]

Full and more recently updated lists of features/docs and shorts as well as my yearly stats on Letterboxd.


  1. Past Lives
  2. Afire
  3. Oppenheimer
  4. Return to Seoul
  5. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse
  6. Godzilla Minus One
  7. Polite Society
  8. The Holdovers
  9. The Iron Claw
  10. Saltburn
  11. May December
  12. Sisu
  13. The Covenant
  14. The Creator
  15. Theater Camp
  16. The Boy and the Heron
  17. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  18. John Wick: Chapter 4
  19. The Last Voyage of the Demeter
  20. Beau Is Afraid


  1. Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool
  2. Joe Pera: Slow & Steady
  3. Chris Fleming: Hell
  4. John Mulaney: Baby J


  1. Albert Brooks: Defending My Life
  2. The Deepest Breath
  3. Wham!
  4. Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Edge of Everything


  1. Star Wars Visions: Aau’s Song, Screecher’s Reach, Journey to the Dark Head
  2. Donkey
  3. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
  4. Things Could Always Be Worse
  5. The Mask


Looking back at my watch history and stats for the year on Trakt, I’m struck by just how much quality programming is coming out of Apple TV. It’s the platform I use the least for most of the year, but when I do use it there is seemingly no shortage of great shows to watch there.

Something I really admire about Apple as they get deeper into the production game is not only that they take big swings, but that they commit to them. I was recently partial to Raised By Wolves (HBO). Before that, The OA (Netflix). Now all of the sci-fi and speculative fiction I care about is being carried by Apple. And because Apple doesn’t have a history of prematurely canceling their programming, I feel a lot more confident in committing to their shows.

It’s also been a year of finales and shows that should have had them. Succession, Ted Lasso, Dave, Disenchantment, and Letterkenny are leaving my yearly rotation. All of them by Dave did so at the right time. Shows like Alice in Borderland and The Morning Show, however, missed their train and are promising more.

Limited Series

  • BEEF (Netflix)
  • Hijack (Netflix)
  • Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (Netflix)


  • Taskmaster (Channel 4) [21]
  • Succession (HBO) [22]
  • Ted Lasso (Apple TV) [23]
  • The Morning Show (Apple TV) [24]
  • Foundation (Apple TV) [25]
  • Silo (Apple TV) [26]
  • Shrinking (Apple TV)
  • Mythic Quest (Apple TV)
  • The Bear (FX)
  • The Rings of Power (Prime) [27]
  • Dave (Hulu) [28]
  • Letterkenny / Shoresy (Hulu) [29]
  • Survivor (CBS / Paramount)
  • Make Some Noise (Dropout)
  • Game Changer (Dropout)
  • Disenchantment (Netflix)
  • Invincible (Prime)
  • Alice In Borderland (Netflix) [30]
  • Ahsoka (Disney+) [31]


  • How-To with John Wilson (HBO) [32]
  • Star Wars: Visions (Disney+)
  • I Think You Should Leave (Netflix)

Bed-time TV / Re-watches

  • Futurama back-catalog (Hulu)
  • Bob’s Burgers (Hulu)
  • Alone (Hulu)
  • The Climb (HBO)
  • Travel Man (Channel 4)
  • Total Forgiveness (Dropout)
  • The Ricky Gervais Show (DVD)


In 2023, my only console purchase was an Analogue Pocket, which I’ve been enjoying quite a lot in recent weeks. When I’m not playing Dr. Mario on that thing, I’ve been making good use of my Steam Deck for online play with friends.

I keep a running list of video games I've played here. These I enjoyed in 2023.

  • Valheim (Steam Deck) [33]
  • Norco (Steam Deck) [34]
  • Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
  • Goodboy Galaxy (GBA - Analogue Pocket) [35]

  1. Surf Music ↩︎

  2. I’ve been a steadfast fan of Amber’s since the first EP. I love the full discography, but think this is unquestionably her best body of work yet. To say I’m obsessed would understate it. ↩︎

  3. It’s always a good year when Mansions puts out a new record of songs to find myself in. ↩︎

  4. This one unexpectedly broke the NMH chokehold on me. There’s something very sweet in this that sets it apart from her indie-folk-pop contemporaries. ↩︎

  5. All hail. Caroline Polachek channels artists like Imogen with such a confidence that it dares new listeners not to fall in love with her energy. ↩︎

  6. The most beautiful and joyful debut I’ve heard in a long time. I wish her the best career imaginable. Such a massive and charismatic talent. ↩︎

  7. More rippers from the boys. ↩︎

  8. Somehow, perhaps, the group’s best work. I think their time away to explore solo projects did them a lot of good. ↩︎

  9. My favorite country find since Nick Shoulders. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to the first three singles on repeat. ↩︎

  10. I haven’t been into heavy stuff in a minute. Love the Breaking Benjamin-adjacency in the singer’s tone. ↩︎

  11. A long wait, finally over. I didn’t listen to this as much as I thought I would, but that allows me to remain pleasantly surprised by the sound they conjured up for it when I do put it on. ↩︎

  12. What can I say but, “BR ALL DAY”? ↩︎

  13. Really cool evolution in her sound. ↩︎

  14. Favorite LP and EP? Is that cheating? ↩︎

  15. The recent news about this show is concerning. I’d love for Goldstein to find a way to make it work independently. Or at least in affiliation with some public radio entity like TAL. ↩︎

  16. John Roderick launched a Patreon-exclusive podcast where he runs a few sporadic interviews and a weekly Q&A. He records very late at night covers all the bases. ↩︎

  17. I didn’t listen to Punch Up the Jam when my buddy Mike engineered it. But after learning that Chris Fleming came in as guest host in 2020, I rapidly devoured all of the episodes he appeared on. ↩︎

  18. Jo Firestone’s bi-weekly audiobook for her comedic murder mystery. A parody of your “hot people on an island” reality TV show wrapped up in a decent detective story. Good for day trip listening with Mae. ↩︎

  19. A podcast series about the history of one pop punk band from Pittsburgh has no right being this well produced.

    I love these guys a lot and think this is a wonderful artifact of their adult lives, creative output, and impact. More bands should hire them to produce these kinds of things for themselves. ↩︎

  20. This is my first public project using the Letterboxd API. I plan to get this running on a schedule to update without any manual intervention. ↩︎

  21. Pound for British pound, this show brings me more joy and laughter than anything else on Earth. God bless you, Alex Horne. ↩︎

  22. RIP. Great fucking run. ↩︎

  23. Gotta respect a show for going out on top. The show we all deserved during COVID. If they don’t spin off the girl’s team, it’ll be a shame. RIP ↩︎

  24. I kind of wish this show would RIP. Billy Crudup is the only interesting character. ↩︎

  25. My favorite science fiction show in years. It’s lofty, full of great characters, and is written so well. Foundation absolutely does it for me. ↩︎

  26. Great speculative fiction. A nice placeholder for Severance during its production break. ↩︎

  27. I know a lot of people are whatever about this, but I love it. I haven’t felt as deeply invested in Middle Earth in decades. Many more seasons please, Mr. Bezos. ↩︎

  28. Like Ted Lasso, Dave went out on top. Perhaps it shouldn’t have. ↩︎

  29. Letterkenny closes as Shoresy takes shape. The latter’s two seasons beat the last 5 of the original program combined. ↩︎

  30. To my shock, this show is somehow continuing despite landing this season in a perfectly suitable series finale. ↩︎

  31. Womp womp. ↩︎

  32. Fuck you, David Zaslav. I believe this was an important show. I hope John manages to continue it somewhere. ↩︎

  33. I started playing online with some guys from work. Months after that fizzled, Chris, Zach, and I set up a dedicated server. This is a fun game that scratches a lot of different itches. ↩︎

  34. I posted a little bit about this moody point+click adventure on Mastodon. I want so many more games like this. ↩︎

  35. I Kickstarted this game. It’s well-made with a lot of fun details. I’m not crazy about the main gimmick of the game though. Still, cool to see GBA development thriving in 2023. ↩︎