2022 – Some of My Favorite Things

We all have our own perceptions, thoughts and ideas. We have likes and dislikes. There are things we share and things we don’t. All of this makes us human and interesting, or in some cases, uninteresting. Which is why I do not expect you to read this. This is not meant to be a definitive list of the best things in 2022. It’s not a Top 10, 20 or any other number. It is what stood out to me, based on my experiences. Your list is likely completely different and that is OK. Would love to discuss our lists over a beer or bourbon someday.

Best Discovery

Leon Bridges, he of the album Gold Diggers Sound (2021) and more, led me to a great discovery that was, frankly, right under my nose. I noticed he had collaborated with Khruangbin, a trio from Houston, Texas, which is right down the road apiece.

I gave Texas Moon (2022) a listen; followed that up with Texas Sun (2020); and began acquiring as much of the Khruangbin catalog as I could.

The band is not easy to nail down to a single genre, especially because they infuse influences from music around the globe. They are often put into the following genres: psychedelic rock, surf rock, funk, instrumental rock, and dub. I do not want to be the person to pigeon-hole a band into a particular genre, but I would describe them as lush funk. It doesn’t really matter; this is music for any mood, music for the background, and music for when you want to listen closely. I just cannot get enough of this band.

Fun Fact 2022 or the Other Discovery

I am a white male in my 60’s who likes a young black woman who is living large and is not afraid to put herself out there. That’s right, I like Lizzo. Talk about a generation gap. I am not even sure how this happened. Well, I am sure of the details. I was looking for some music, went down a rabbit-hole, and ended up in the land of Lizzo.

Sure, I am a refugee of 70’s rock, but I do enjoy funk. soul and R&B and Lizzo has that wrapped up in an enjoyable, authentic groove. And she is fun. No matter your age, you should have some Lizzo in your life.

Stream It

Streaming is as good as it is bad. Let’s face it, in the race to provide “content,” there is some gawd awful shit out there. But to be fair (to be fair), there are some gems out there in the ether. Hacks (Season 2) was my favorite and I eagerly await Season 3. Jean Smart is the bomb. She brings so much to the screen, and she has built a character in Deborah Vance that you can love and hate in the same breath. Hannah Einbinder as Ava is great as a Z (Millennial?) that has everything figured out yet has nothing figured out. And the arc of Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) – well what the hell is next?

Speaking of awaiting season three, I binged through all three seasons of Derry Girls and three seasons was perfect. Derry Girls was fun, charming, emotional at times, and did not overstay its welcome. Yeah, there are a bunch of other runners-up, but this is not a list, and you probably have your favorites that you have validated with friends and family, so you don’t need the likes of me creating another list for you to compare to.

The Boulders

Nature rules! The Avenue of the Boulders (official name) is near Mill Creek Falls in the Prospect, Oregon area. You probably have not heard of The Boulders, but maybe you have heard of Crater Lake. These boulders were thrown all the way from Mt. Mazama, which is twenty miles away, when it erupted 7,700 years ago (barely a breath in the cosmic timeline). This eruption created the caldera which is now known as Crater Lake. Hey, we all just learned something.

The Boulders is my most favorite place to go and I got to go a few times in 2022. The sound of running and rushing water is something to behold, but it is more than that. It is the realization over and over again of what nature can do. There is always something beautiful no matter the power that nature unleashes time and again.

The Best Thing I Ate

I do not have a social media presence, although a friend of mine pointed out that this blog constitutes a presence. Irregardless of his correctness, I am not one to take pictures of every. single. thing. I eat which is too bad because I would like nothing more than to show you a picture that is dripping with deliciousness.

This picture would be of a hamburger. A hamburger called the Drunken Goat. The Drunken Goat features bacon, goat cheese, red-wine glazed onion and pepper-jack mayo. I guess, if I was going to be all hoity-toity, I would mention the hand-formed patties are grass-fed Black Angus beef raised in the Applegate Valley. Because we all know about the Applegate Valley…

I digress. This burger, as are all their burgers, is perfect. It’s juicy, but not to the point of falling apart in your hand. You get the beefy flavor you should get from a hunk of beef, and it is perfectly accessorized with just a few things that complement each other nicely. It’s a simple burger that is fancy without all the pretentiousness.

And for the record, this burger comes from Immortal Spirits, a distillery in Medford, OR. Meaning you can pair this hand-made burger with a hand-made cocktail, crafted with hand-made spirits right on the premises. My head is going to explode!

My Best Run

First, no sympathy required here. Empathy always over sympathy, by the way. But my running was essentially non-existent in 2022 due to back issues. Sometimes it really is about getting old. I did run two half marathons early in the year that were sub-par due to said back issues and things really spiraled after the second half marathon in March. The findings were/are two herniated discs and a pinched nerve and that put running out of reach.

From an active standpoint, it was a miserable spring and summer and a deflating fall. Especially late fall when the weather is perfect for running. And with each (minor) procedure on my back, the itch to run again grew stronger only to be met with disappointment after each procedure ended in failure. “We have to go through the checklist to find what works,” says the doctor. “I have gained 15 pounds,” says the patient who is becoming impatient.

But in late December, perhaps against my better judgement, I went for a run in Carlsbad, CA along the beach. First, it was more like a very slow jog and second, how can you not want to run along a beach!? Apologies, I am projecting. For me, it is almost a requirement. Anyway, I went out for a slow as molasses twenty-minute jog and it didn’t suck. Was it slow? Yes, I have been alluding to that quite a bit. But it was nowhere near as painful as expected. It appears that maybe all the physical therapy is helping after all. Possibly the only thing that has been helping.

As mentioned, it was only for twenty minutes, but it was nice to be moving faster than a standard walk. Yes, admittedly my slow jog was exhilarating. Will I be doing it again anytime soon? Likely not until I get official permission from official medical authorities.

And Finally

My favorite whiskey. I tasted a variety of really good whiskeys this year. I could certainly put a number of entries into the top spot or create an “unranked” tome of the goodness that passed through my lips. But, if I am being honest, there is one. This is the one I gave as gifts this past year when a bottle of spirits was appropriate (isn’t it always!). This is the one I always buy a bottle of if I hit the liquor store and it is in stock, just because. This is the only one I have three unopened bottles in reserve. Not to mention a fourth bottle from a good friend that is a different version that I am also excited to taste.

This is the ticket. Yes, my friends, it is Angels Envy – Rye Whiskey finished in Caribbean Rum Casks. I could be one of those pompous dudes and talk about the nose, the palate and the finish, but we all taste things differently because all taste buds are not created equal, and we each have our own flavor profile. So, I will just say that I like it.

The Wrap

These are some of the things that brought me joy in 2022. I sincerely hope that you too had moments of joy, whether with friends, family or by yourself.

If you have read this far, allow me to leave you with this. I mentioned above, “empathy always over sympathy.” There are many people in the neurodiverse community that never share their hardship. There is good reason for this as often there is a stigma attached. There are folks, such as myself, that have revealed our neurodiversity and are willing to talk about it. Granted, there is a percentage of people (neurodiverse or not) who tell their stories because they are looking for sympathy because they want attention. But there is also a growing number of neurodiverse individuals who share their story not because they are looking for sympathy, but because they are trying to provide awareness and understanding so they can have normal relationships with their friends and their colleagues.

The covid pandemic revealed there are a greater number of people who fall into the neurodiverse category than previously imagined. And it could very well be that being neurodiverse may soon be “normal.” Whether we are talking neurodiversity, race, religion, culture, etc. the more we understand and the more we are aware, the better we can all be together.

May your 2023 be all you are hoping it is.

This post was composed while listening to The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka by Frank Zappa as well as Special by Lizzo.