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#244

Friday, January 1, 2021

In This Edition:
2020 TV, Movies, Music, Books & Comics, & Podcasts feat Normal People, Denise Chaila & Courage 2020, Ego Is The Enemy, The David McWilliams podcast, & much more!

Happy New Year! The weekly recommendations will be back in next week's Found This Week. In this edition, I look back at what I thought were the best TV shows, movies, music, books & comics, and podcasts I consumed during 2020. I hope you enjoy reading/watching/listening to some or all of these too :-)

TV in 2020

Image: Normal People, BBC

Needless to say, my TV viewing increased this year due to lockdown and some shows really did deliver the ideal escapism at times. Top of the list by far of the best shows I watched this year is Normal People. Without expecting to be, I was quickly worrying non stop about Connell & Marianne's many life issues and I was thankful to be able to binge watch this great show to forgo the weeks of anguish! The show does an excellent job of transporting you into the lives of the couple and in some way transports you back into the mindset of your early twenties when everything was such a big deal. The fact that the show is Irish and gets so many things about Irish life and attitudes absolutely spot on added so much to the emersive nature of the watching experience for me.

 

The Plot Against America

This show is superb. The Plot Against America takes place in an alternate history where Franklin D. Roosevelt loses the presidential election in 1940 to Charles Lindbergh and America doesn't enter World War II. This is the backdrop to the story of a Jewish family in New Jersey struggling to deal with a world that is changing fast and turning against them. Watching this before the 2020 U.S. presidential election also added an extra flavour to the messages and warnings delivered by this excellent series.

 

The Good Place

During the first lockdown, The Good Place proved to be the perfect easy watching, short episodes TV show. When you look under the show's comedy and slight novelty vineer, you'll find a wholesome message of hope delivered through philosphy! An excellent show.

 

Kim's Convenience

Continuing on the light viewing binge, Kim's Convenience made for the perfect lunch-time viewing. The hilarious Canadian sitcom quickly has you wrapped up in the lives of the Kim's and their various (and often hilarious) family relationship highs and lows. Don't be surprised when you start saying "ok, see you!" to everything!

 

DEVS

DEVS is a weird show to describe, other than I though it was excellent. Without spoilers, it's about quantum mechanics, computing, life, philosophy, some murder, espionage, and an absolutely awesome score. It's a show that will have you thinking about it for days after you finish watching it.

 

Cobra Kai

Total cheese and I loved it! Cobra Kai managed to transport me back to my childhood in the 80's while also getting me invested in the life choices of Johnny Lawrence! Without the nostalgia connection of the movies from my childhood, I'm not sure how good it is but with that nostalgia, Cobra Kai Rules! :-p

 

Slí Na Beaglaoich

Father and son musicians Breanndán and Cormac Ó Beaglaoich travel up the west coast of Ireland playing music in this excellent show by TG4. As they travel together in their camper van from Kerry to Donegal, the two excellent trad musicians call into and meet up with loads of other trad musicians of different styles and instruments and play music together. 

 

Samhlú 2020

Samhlú on TG4 is a beautiful programme. It is a cultural showcase of music, theatre, dance, poetry, and art joined together in a themed voyage of discovery around a small Irish fishing village, with Tommy Tiernan as our guide/proxy. Ar fheabhas ar fad.

 

The Queen's Gambit

A late entrant for 2020, The Queen's Gambit on Netflix sent the year that was 2020 out strong on the TV show front. A brilliant show about a chess prodigy orphan doing what she has to do to get through the day, a bit like all of us these days (but probably with less chess :-p).

Movies in 2020

Image: Le Mans '66

With the cinema becoming a potential arena of peril because of COVID, new movie releases were few and far between, and so is my selection of movies for 2020. Aside from re-watching all of the Marvel MCU movies in order, only a few movies jumped out for consideration this year. Top of the list is Ford Vs Ferrari (Le Mans '66). It came out in 2019 but I didn't get around to seeing it until early this year. For me, this film is a near perfect blockbuster. Impeccably shot, this sports/historical dramatisation has everything; characters to root for, a goal to get behind (winning the race), and an entertaining setup and delivery (said race). More importantly for me is what is missing from this blockbuster. There is no serious violence, no overly sinister characters or scenes and no shock factor, just an enjoyable hero's journey film.

 

The Two Popes

Aside from the sympathetic view of The Catholic Church, I enjoyed The Two Popes as a drama depicted in an interesting situation and premise. It is not be confused with being a documentary however.

 

Dating Amber

Set in mid 90's Ireland, Dating Amber is a coming of age story of two gay teenagers trying to find their way in a repressive Irish society. A return to my screen of Fionn O'Shea who played asshole Jamie in Normal People. Thankfully he is such a good actor that I quickly forgot about my residual hatred of his Normal People character. This film pulls on the heartstrings and does a great job of bringing together many complex themes.

 

Source:

Music in 2020

Image: YouTube, OtherVoicesLive

I really came to appreciate music as being the nectar for the soul during lockdown. It also helped that lots of Irish artists picked up the pandemic and ran away with it in terms of fantastic releases and streamed performances. There were so many great streams and the Journal of Music still do a great job at colating everything in their weekly concert planner (which you can subscribe to here). The highlight for me was the Other Voices Live Courage 2020 series. It was incredible. Among the excellent concerts such as Lisa Hannigan & Loah, Glen Hansard, Mick Flannery & SON, Cormac Begley, and Iarla O'Lionard & Steve Cooney, Denise Chaila's concert (with God Knows, Murli and Replay) in The National Gallery was the standout cultural earthquake. I'm delighted to see them continue take Ireland by storm, as individual artists (see Till The Wheel's Fall Off, Mup I Said and C H A I L A) and as their collective Narolane (see Out The Gaff).

 

Lankum

"We always sing, even when we are losing". What better slogan for 2020. Lankum are a national treasure and their A National Disgrace live stream in the Abbey Theatre this year was fantastic. It was like providing a safe emotional space to let loose the dogs of war and see what happens. I still struggle to find the words to describe what happens when you listen to their track The Wild Rover. Here they are at WGBH in Boston just before lockdown.

 

Strange Boy - The Pope

Limerick rapper Strangeboy's debut single The Pope is absolutely class. A challenge you not to learn and sing the refrain.

 

delush Live at JRS Studios

Irish artist delush performed his beautiful debut album the Journey to Zero live at JRS Studios in Berlin. The album includes some great tracks such as It's Alright feat. Strange Boy that was in Normal People, and The Greates Gift feat Tolü Makay.

 

Rubberbandits - Waiting

The Rubberbandits released two new tracks this year, my favourite of the two being the song Waiting, a song about dancing that is impossible not to dance to. The video, as you would expect from the bandits, is not what it appears to be. Choon.

 

Grá Agus Solas

During the first lockdown, Dublin music photographer Ruth Medjber embarked on a photography project to photograph people within the windows of their houses. Deservingly so, the project gained national attention and Ruth released a photography book called Twlight Together. Ruth created a streamed concert called Grá agus Solas to launch the book. The concert was part music, part poetry and all craic, finishing off with an emotion battering performance by Bell X1's Paul Noonan.

 

Jenn Kirby - Dichotomies of Lockdown

My wife Jenn Kirby was commissioned to write a six minute opera as part of the Irish National Opera's project 20 Shots of Opera. The result is the fantastic and equal parts hilarious and emotional Dichotomies of Lockdown. I had no prior interest in Opera, but the story telling aspect of all the operas in this project, as well as their variety, has me hooked. Jenn has also finished her 2020 album project (available on bandcamp, artwork by me!), where she produced an improv music track every month starting 147 years ago in Jan 2020 :-p

 

 

 

Books & Comics in 2020

My favourite non-fiction book I read this year is Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Having already become receptive to Stoicism through the Tim Ferriss podcast and The Daily Stoic (also by Ryan Holiday), Ego Is The Enemy arrived at the right time for me and was a great navigational reset on how to look at the world, as chaotic as it as at the moment.

 

I also really enjoyed Manchán Magan's Thirty Two Worlds For Field. A beautiful artifact of a book that weaves Irish history, folklore, Irish language etymology, and philosophy of life into a most enjoyable and easily digestible package. Not only does Manchán do a service to the Irish language by documentating and highlighting many endangered words and their illuminating historical contexts, he also adds his unique viewpoint and interpretation of aspects of the Irish language into the realm of the contemporary Irish language revival. I had the pleasure of interviewing Manchán for SmartThinkingBooks.com, which you can read here.

 

As for biographies, Mary McAleese's Here's The Story: A Memoir is an interesting and eye-opening read, from the first hand account of growing up during the troubles in Belfast to the monumentous work done by Mary & Martin during the peace process. An inspiring example of how imagination, vision and hard work can bring about previously thought impossible outcomes. Also full of empowering examples of speaking truth to power. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Mary McAleese for SmartThinkingBooks.com, which you can read here.

 

Bog Bodies is an excellent graphic novel by Declan Shalvey and Gavin Fullerton set in the Dublin mountains during a gangland chase. Also check out the great soundtrack for the book by Eric Kelleher.

Podcasts in 2020

Image: The David McWilliams Podcast

I leaned in heavily to podcast consumption during lockdown, mainly during home gym sessions as a way of multi-tasking/procrastinating between sets! I regularly feature podcast episodes of interest on Found This Week (check out the podcast tag) and as you might expect, the big podcasts I continue to recommend include The Tim Ferriss Show, The Blindboy PodcastThe Tropical MBA podcast, and The Motherfoclóir podcast.

This year, The David McWilliams podcast became the podcast I most looked forward to listening to every week, and I was delighted when they went to twice weekly. The show breaks down economics and current geo-politics into high level and easy to understand terms. The mix of David's unique high level view, John's direction and finely timed clarification questioning, and the assortment of expert guests makes the podcast an interesting and entertaining listen.

Special mention to the That Great Business Show podcast which is also a great new addition to my listenting list this year.

See you next week!

See you next week :-)

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About Found This Week

Found This Week is a curated blog of interesting posts, articles, links and stories in the world of technology, science and life in general.
Each edition is curated by Daryl Feehely every Friday and highlights cool stuff found each week.
The first 104 editions were published on Medium before this site was created, check out the archive here.

Daryl Feehely

I’m a web consultant, contract web developer, technical project manager & photographer originally from Cork, now based in Scotland. I offer my clients strategy, planning & technical delivery services, remotely & in person. I also offer freelance CTO services to companies in need of technical bootstrapping or reinvention. If you think I can help you in your business, check out my details on http://darylfeehely.com

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