Believe it or not, but this is actually my new year post, regardless of the fact that it’s being posted partway into the second month of the year. Wait, the second month of the year? As in, this new year began OVER A MONTH AGO?!? Whilst my mind continues to recover from reeling over the ongoing and what should be by now highly anticipatory passing of time, let’s get into how last year, 2021, panned out for me. As usual, we’ll be doing this in terms of the aims I set out at the start of last year.
List films: Review one a week, focusing on the ones on the AFI List:
Getting off to a truly terrible start, I reviewed a grand total of seven films last year, only two of which were on the AFI list, and four of which I’d actually watched the previous year with the intent to review them back then. Those four were all reviewed in January, followed by the next two in February, meaning the entirety of my non-monthly posts output for the following ten months was one review of Groundhog Day. That’s abysmal, even for me, and even that review wouldn’t have been posted had I not been both a guest on a Groundhog Day podcast and then on vacation with nothing to do for a few hours. Here are the reviews:
The Thin Man
The Best Years of Our Lives
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Outside of those, the only other List films I watched all year were The Wizard of Oz, The Great Escape and The Italian Job, of which only Oz is on the AFI list. So that’s a big failure all round. It’s gotten to the point where I purposefully don’t watch supposedly great List films because I’ll feel bad for not reviewing them. That’s no way for a film fan to live.
Non-list films: Watch 12 specific DVDs:
As usual I selected a dozen DVDs that I’d owned for some time but had never gotten around to watching, and which didn’t require List reviews. Last year I set a theme to this with a major blind spot franchise, all the pre-JJ Abrams Star Trek films. However, as Wrath of Khan was on one of the Lists I subbed in Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket, along with The Dead Zone and Marathon Man, two holdovers from 2020. Surprisingly I managed to watch all the Star Trek films and Bottle Rocket, but guess which two still didn’t get watched, once again? Bottle Rocket ranks as my least favourite Wes Anderson film, by some margin, and here’s my ranking of the ten Star Trek films, plus the three I’d already seen (one of which I re-watched after seeing the first ten):
1. Star Trek Into Darkness
2. Star Trek
3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
5. Star Trek Beyond
6. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
7. Star Trek: Insurrection
8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
9. Star Trek: First Contact
10. Star Trek: Nemesis
11. Star Trek: Generations
12. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
13. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Bear in mind that this is from a list I kept updating as the year progressed (from my Letterboxd account, here) and that a lot of these films have now all blurred together. Also I want to make it clear that I haven’t put Wrath of Khan at #8 just to piss people off, I think it’s overrated and I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. I’m planning to give it a re-watch after some more time has passed, to check.
New releases: Watch more than 39 new releases:
Hooray, an achievement! I saw a total of 55 new releases, either at home or in the cinema, in 2021. I’ve already watched another seven films that would have counted towards 2021 new releases, but it’s 2022 now, so they don’t get to count. You can see my ranking of all 55 of these films, plus two I’d seen between the new year and making that post, by clicking here.
TV: Finish watching Buffy and maybe Angel:
Another achievement! It turns out the goals I set that can be accomplished with my wife in the room are a lot easier to knock out, and given her catchphrase last year was “Just one more episode…?” made this one all the easier. We decided to alternate seasons of Buffy and Angel, which didn’t always work out well and spoiler-free, but it was a lot easier than skipping around on the numerous streaming platforms and constantly messing with the screen ratio because All4 streamed Angel in 4:3 but our TV insisted it was still 16:9 so made everyone look all distorted. Anyway, I really enjoyed these seasons, I started doing a post that would have ranked all the regular crew members across both shows, but I lost momentum and it petered out. Oz is #1, closely followed by Spike and Anya. I hope Xander, Dawn, Riley and Tara are enjoying themselves at the bottom. Outside of the Buffy-verse other TV shows I enjoyed last year include: The Great, WandaVision, Ted Lasso, Resident Alien, Taskmaster, Mare of Easttown, Inside No. 9, Loki, What If, Hawkeye, Squid Game, The Queen’s Gambit, Nine Perfect Strangers, Ghosts, and almost definitely some others that I can’t remember right now because I stopped keeping track of TV shows in July.
Books: Read one a month:
Once again, not even close. Last year I read fewer than three books. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings was a quick, gripping, excellent read. More like that and I’d have had a better shot at this, I think. That was followed by the haunting, perpetually off-putting Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy, images from which still turn my stomach a little. My attempt at a tonal hairpin turn was misguided with my choice of Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling as, whilst I’ve greatly enjoyed Bryson’s travel writing in the past, returning to his style now I’ve found him bitter, snobbish and just plain rude, often at the expense of fat people, and predominantly women. One such anecdote saw Bryson paint himself in a positive light by rushing to the aid of a woman being rudely accosted in a shop he was visiting, but his reason for not hanging around afterwards when she showed him the smallest gratitude was because she was very short and almost spherical. Anyway, at the time of writing this post I have now finished Bryson’s book, which was still enjoyable in places, especially when he was talking about the Bournemouth area where I live, somewhere he spent a long time having worked here for a few years. I still have a few unread Brysons in the attic, but I’m not sure when I’ll be getting to those now though.
Sites: All the holdover 2020 updates to both this site and the LAMB:
Look, at this point I should probably just stop blogging, right? I never have time for it, the LAMB site in particular is almost painful to do anything with, and podcasting is just more fun and social.
House: Complete 12 specific jobs:
Not a complete success, but a lot of these jobs did get done!
Carpet the lounge – DONE! It’s so nice not having bare floorboards in there any more, so much quieter!
Finish lounge shelving – DONE! Some DVDs have been rescued from the attic!
Replace lounge window – DONE!
Patio rear garden – DONE! Huge thanks to my Dad for helping with this one.
Paint the shed – DONE! Although now we need to add guttering to it.
Shed shelving – DONE! Thanks to my mate Nige for kindly donating his spare shed shelves.
Finish under the stairs cupboard – DONE! The shoes are now hidden!
Strip the hallway – DONE!
Redecorate the hallway – DONE! Admittedly this was finished a few days into the new year, but it was close enough. We tried desperately to get this done before the family arrived for Christmas, but as always everything took longer than expected. It looks good now though.
New front door – Not done. It would’ve been done by now, but the door we wanted had a ridiculous delivery date. We ordered it months ago, and it’s only now due imminently.
Finish rear garden – Not done, although the problem here is the non-specific nature of the task. We know the garden isn’t finished, but we haven’t decided what to do with it.
Finish rear fence – Not done, as this involves actually talking to our neighbours and planning to go into their garden to access the fence from the rear, and that’s just not something we really want to ever do.
Running: Run every other day, one half-marathon a month, one full marathon
This is my most frustrating task to have failed, but ironically I only failed it because I tried not to fail it. Work that one out. Basically, I’m a heavy guy, and most of my running is on tarmac pavement. Too much heavy running on tarmac pavements leads to shin splints, which can require about 4 weeks of rest to recover from, and then running needs to be done gently with the pace being gradually increased to your former distance and time, preferably on softer, grassy surfaces.
I got shin splints in June, took a break for three weeks then gradually increased, until I ran a half marathon with Bournemouth ParkRun in the middle of it on the last day of July, to make sure I kept up with that goal. Soon after I predictably got shin splints again, not helped by my insisting to go for a birthday run (early August). I then took four weeks off running, so I’d learned that the half marathon a month goal was not achievable, and I started gradually again in September, leading up to the vacation to Scotland. I love running in Scotland, it’s always beautiful and there’s lots of wildlife around, so I wanted to make sure I’d be able to do some whilst we were there, and fortunately that worked out nicely. However, after the holiday I got ill so there was no running for a couple of weeks (I’m terrible at resting, if I’m ill I still cycle to work (we don’t get time off if we’re sick and are actively encouraged to come into work to infect everyone else) and still have to walk the dogs twice a day regardless of the weather).
I recovered though, and here is where I get really stupid. By this point over the year I’d had a fair few weeks of not running, and there were two months left of the year. November saw me gradually increase my distances in what I’d consider to be a normal and relatively sensible way. Then I sat down and worked out that in order to meet my goal of, on average, running every other day for the year, I’d basically need to run every day for the entirety of December, and up my distances if I had any hope of reaching my secret goal of running 2,021km (1,256 miles). I also thought there was a chance I could maybe still run a marathon by the end of the year, whilst still doing those other goals as well. You can probably see where this is going. I ran 22km (just over a half marathon) on 2nd November, then 26km on 7th November, 26km again on 16th November, 22km on 18th November and 26km on 23rd November, with a bunch of shorter runs in between. Then I went for it on the 28th November and attempted a full marathon, but called it shot at 32km (20 miles, 6 short of the goal) because I was done, I could barely walk, and needed to not be upright for a while. Even if I’d rested for a week after that I still probably would have had problems, but seeing as I ran to work and back on the following Tuesday and Thursday (16km each day) and short runs in the mornings either side of them, it’s absolutely no surprise that I got shin splints for the third time in a year on the morning of Friday 3rd December. Who’s a big dummy? This guy.
One of my few Christmas Day traditions that I absolutely love and do just for me is a Christmas morning run, listening to the Christmas episode of Off Book, the improvised musical podcast, hosted by Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino and with guests Paul F Tompkins and Nicole Parker. No leg pain was going to keep me from it! As soon as the shin splints hit on that fateful Friday I was done running, just resting as much as possible until December 25th. And so, on Christmas morning I took off at a gentle pace, with two dogs in tow (Charlie is only little, so he guarantees a slower, shorter run) listening to my podcast, and it was lovely. Since then I’ve been gradually building up the distance and speed, staying on the grass where possible, and I like to think I’ve finally learned something. I guess only time, and my running spreadsheet and year-comparison graphs, will tell.
As for my 2021 goals, I ended up running in total 1,855 km (1,153 miles), averaging one run every 2.3 days. That’s more than I ran in 2019, but almost 150 fewer miles than in 2020.
Health: More non-running exercise
I’ve done more, but not as much as I’d have hoped. Every long run is followed by a proper yoga post-run stretch, and in the summer I did some weights and other exercises out on the patio, as now the lounge is carpeted it’s not a good surface. Now that it’s cold, wet and dark outside I’m reluctant to do much of anything out there. It’d be great to have a gym, with just a cross-trainer, bench and floor space, but we just don’t have the room!
Diet: Eat better, count calories
Calorie-counting lasted maybe a couple of days. 2021 was a bad year for eating healthily, although I now have fruit most days in the form of either pineapple and/or grapes, and I’m eating more parsnips and carrots, so that’s something I guess.
Sleep: 5.5 hours a night:
Success! According to my spreadsheet my average for the year was 5.69 hours/night (5 hours 41 minutes), with 52 nights below five hours and 108 nights over six hours, amazing. You can really trace the periods where I was working from home, working in the office, and away on vacation.
Podcasts: Schedule editing better, guest less
The editing schedule ebbed and flowed, and things have definitely begun to take longer now we’re covering one whole film a week instead of just a 10 minute chunk. I’m still enjoying it though. Guesting-wise on average I appeared on one other podcast a month, which is nice. Here’s where else you could have heard me last year:
The Great Escape Minute – Minutes 6-10, Minutes 66-70
American Graffiti by the Song – Come Go With Me
The Lambcast – No Time To Die, Spider-Man Franchise
Pop Art – Home Alone / Game Over
Rambling Ramblers – The Italian Job
Through Dangers Untold – Labyrinth chapter 5: Hoggle
Why This Film Podcast – Daylight
Acting School 101 – Michael Shannon
It’s Time To Rewind – Groundhog Day episode 35
Out Now with Aaron & Abe – Last Night in Soho
The Best Years of Our Lives Minute – Minutes 151-160
Resolutions for 2022
I dunno. I mean, every year I make these resolutions, and I’ve gotten progressively worse at keeping up with them, and the fact that I’m only writing the resolution post six weeks into the year isn’t filling me with confidence. I think, with the way my workload is at the moment, right now I’m just going to say that if I cross off any List films this year, it’ll be a win. Breaking even by crossing off as many films as will get added to the 1001 List this year feels like an ultimate goal, which is usually around 10-15 or so. We’ll see.
I’ve picked another twelve DVDs I’ve owned for a while (or at least, ten and the two that keep on refusing to be watched). This year we have:
Marathon Man (1976)
Slap Shot (1977)
The Dead Zone (1983)
The Man with Two Brains (1983)
Risky Business (1983)
Peter’s Friends (1992)
Raising Cain (1992)
Snake Eyes (1998)
Wild Things (1998)
Win Win (2011)
I think not having a specific theme this year might hinder my progress.
To make my Cineworld membership worthwhile I need to go at least twice a month, something I’m already on track with this year thanks to a recent Scream / Ghostbusters Afterlife double-bill. Here are some other films that might beckon me this year:
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
The Bad Guys
The Phantom of the Open
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Jurassic World: Dominion
Thor: Love and Thunder
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
I have no TV aims this year. We’ve recently started watching Superstore (I say recently, but we’re already on season 3). I’d like to get to Deadwood and Twin Peaks, and I keep thinking that I should finally watch, or at least buy, Quantum Leap given my love of time travel fiction and a recently proposed reboot, but it’s not something I can see happening any time soon.
Ha, yeah, alright, let’s set myself up for failure again shall we? One a month is unlikely, so let’s be more reasonable and say one every two months. However, given the book I’m currently reading is the behemoth Les Miserables, lets not get our collective hopes up, shall we? My wife and I are going to see it on stage in March, and the idea was I could read the whole thing prior to that outing. I worked out at the start of the year that if I read 20 pages a day I’d just about make it, and then I proceeded to read not one page of it for the entirety of that month. Nothing has ever surprised me less.
Dammit, I’m going to move the LAMB site to a new hosting. If I do nothing else online this year, at least I’ll sodding well do that.
It doesn’t matter how much we do to the house, there’s always more to do. Once again I’ll be highlighting twelve jobs to hopefully get done this year, and they are:
Install new shower
Install alcove cupboards in office
Carpet stairs and landing
Redecorate craft room
Lay new drive (after digging up the old one)
Finish rear fence
Redecorate the bar (disassemble, sand, paint, reassemble)
Render the outside of the house
Some of these will require external help, some of these probably won’t get done. Place your bets now.
I’m still gradually building myself up to longer distances. I’m keeping a loose aim of 100 miles/month and running every other day, but once I’m up to running into work again I’ll probably knock that back to 3 times a week, so I’m not trying to run more often and further than I should be. However much I run, I’ll be paying better attention to what my body is telling me, and taking breaks when it feels right.
More is always good. I’m keeping the 5.5 hours/night average, but I’m also trying to have a lower limit of 5 hours. If I get less than that in the night, then I’ll do everything I can to have a top-up nap in the evening. So far it’s working well, and I’ve had to have 4 top-up naps. And so far I haven’t killed anyone because I’ve been too tired. Is there a correlation here? Who can say.
Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast will continue to be weekly, covering DBS-adjacent films involving sharks, underwater adventures, Renny Harlin in the director’s chair etc., until my co-host Mark returns from his child-induced hiatus, at which point we plan to refocus our attention on more Con Air-related themes.
The second Lambpardy tournament has already begun it’s monthly pursuit to crown a new movie trivia champion. If you’d like to compete in a movie trivia podcast, let me know!
As for guesting, I’ve already recorded three other podcasts this year, none of which have been released yet but which you’ll know about when they do. They’re all movies-by-minutes shows, covering Silverado, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Road House, so I’m staying in the 80s for a while it seems.
So that was my 2021. How did yours go? Any plans for what’s left of 2022? Come back soon (hopefully) for an update on how my January went.