Favorite Songs of 2018

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2018; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Never Enough, by Loren Allred on The Greatest Showman (Soundtrack)
Sorry, by Halsey on Hopeless Fountain Kingdom
Feel Alive, by Katie Herzig on Moment of Bliss
No Roots, by Alice Merton on No Roots EP
It’s Not Just Me, by Let’s Eat Grandma on I’m All Ears
Babies, by Tracey Thorn on Record
Cycles, by Tove Lo on Blue Lips
Delicate, by Taylor Swift on Reputation
Woodland, by The Paper Kites on Woodland & Young North EP
I Get Overwhelmed, by Dark Rooms on A Ghost Story (Soundtrack)
28, by Lorene Scafaria on Garden Party EP
Somebody New, by The Struts on Young & Dangerous
The River, by KT Tunstall on Wax
Hold Out Your Hand, by Brandi Carlile on By the Way, I Forgive You
The Winner Takes It All, by Cher on Dancing Queen
Capital Letters, by Hailee Steinfeld X Bloodpop on Fifty Shades Freed (Soundtrack)
Brave, by Sara Bareilles on The Blessed Unrest
Trade Hearts (feat. Julia Michaels), by Jason Derulo on Everything Is 4
Need You Now, by Lady Antebellum on Need You Now
Most of All, by Steve Perry on Traces
At This Moment, by Billy Vera and the Beaters on Billy and the Beaters

Which one was the best? I think it’s too close a call between Loren Allred’s soaring Never Enough and the always-melancholy Tove Lo’s Cycles. Both are delightfully painful tunes.

Dream: An Interview, a Folder, The Donald

I’m waiting for a job interview, and in my hand is a folder containing something new and exciting that I plan to share with my future employer. But in the hallway with me is Donald Trump, who is wearing a black trenchcoat over a black suit and red tie. He looks massive, a giant, and he demands I hand over the folder to him, now. I refuse. I run. He chases me, his body almost fishtailing because he’s going so fast and he’s so heavy, bumping against the walls. If not for me sidestepping at the last possible second to pivot and change direction, he’d catch me. His enormous hands barely miss me, again and again. But each time it feels like he’s getting closer.

Then I wake up.

Haiku and Review: First Reformed

a man of God, lost
finding purpose in darkness
and bliss in a cup

The film begins with a perfectly centered shot of a church at dawn, the camera slowly pushing in as the sky lightens.

Within ten seconds, you know you’re in the hands of a pro, and the pro here is Paul Schrader.

In a way, this movie is reminiscent of one of Schrader’s earlier works, Taxi Driver, which he wrote.  I’m not usually a fan of voiceovers, but I make my exceptions with Schrader and Terrence Malick, because these aren’t really voiceovers per se.  Voiceovers can easily become a crutch in a film, the laziest way to info-dump, but in this movie, it serves to build character more than anything else.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to watch this movie with as little information as possible.  All I knew was that Ethan Hawke plays a priest (turns out to be a minister) who’s lost his way.  That’s all you need to know.

First Reformed is a work of art.  I think that’s the highest praise you can accord a film, and this movie deserves every bit.  Taxi Driver is a movie written by a young man; it possesses that raw, unbridled energy.  First Reformed is a movie written and directed by an older, wiser man, and it’s full of grace and beauty.  Best movie I’ve seen this year so far, hands down.

Dream, 11/29/2018: Tina, Ellie, Lance, and I

I’m in a massive dorm room with Tina Fey, Ellie Kemper, and a woman named Lance Gabriel who looks just like Anna Chlumsky. The women are all on their own twin beds as I chat with them. We are good friends. I tell them they should never leave school — we are all attending Cornell. I’m a senior. I suggest that with the money they have, they really never have to leave, and they find this notion hilarious. But, I warn them, if one of them decides to leave, it’s over; the pact/spell will be broken. The women look at me solemnly, understanding the gravity of my words.

Then Ellie, Lance, and I are at a basketball game. The teams are terrible…it takes more than ten minutes for somebody to score, the other team, the ones in blue. The guy is fouled as he takes the shot; the ball bounces around the rim a few times before it finally falls in. He swishes in the free throw to give the opponent a 3-0 edge. On the Cornell team, there’s a player who is supposed to be really good, but he’s got a bum leg. His entire leg looks like it’s in a cast. Ellie and Lance are ignoring me, so I leave.

Then I’m in the dining hall and I continue to feel like an outsider. So many diners, and yet I don’t know anyone, and I can’t buy anything because I don’t have a swipe-able meal card, even though I’ve signed up for a meal plan at the start of the semester. A card? I ask the cashier. Really, you still need a card in this day and age? I’m told to go to Willard Straight (the student union), so I go there, and there are two women and a student in a tiny office that resembles a gas station mart. The student looks at me with exasperation. He holds up his smartphone and says, Touch and Pay, right? Ugh.

One of the women, an old lady, asks me why it’s taken me so long to come here. I tell her it’s because I live off-campus, but she doesn’t buy my excuse. She and the other woman chat among themselves, intimating that it’s too late for me to get a card now.

And then I wake up.

postmortem

I know why Ellie Kemper is in this dream; it’s because I read her By the Book in the Times yesterday (how cool she’s a fan of Richard Yates!). But Tina Fey and Lance Gabriel, a.k.a. Anna Chlumsky? Welcome to nonsensical dream logic. And I think beds play a part because because I watched a CBS Sunday Morning segment last night about the history of the waterbed, which was fascinating.