What I'm Thankful For This Year (2023)
A few thankful thoughts.
It’s been about a year since Elon Musk took over Twitter, which prompted me to launch this newsletter in order to make sure I’d still have the ability to reach people who care about my work. Since then, writing this newsletter has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling creative experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve always been insecure about my writing — I’ve never believed myself to be as practiced or as gifted as many of the other Substack authors I subscribe to — but I’ve been so grateful for all the positive feedback I’ve received on Decoding Everything. I’m not sure what the next year will hold for this newsletter but I anticipate there will be some exciting developments and I can’t wait for y’all to join me for the ride!
In the meantime, on this Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share an extremely random assortment of things that I’m giving thanks for this year (beyond the usual of my family, friends, collaborators, and all that good stuff):
The strikes are over! — This year saw a multi-month double strike of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA, who fought for the preservation of their professional fields in the only way they could: by withholding their labor. The AMPTP thought it was a good idea accelerate their industry’s tailspin rather than bargain with the guilds in a timely fashion and the result was $6 billion of damage to an economy that was still reeling from COVID. All that said, while the SAG-AFTRA contract has not been fully ratified, the work stoppage is finally over and the task of salvaging what remains of Hollywood’s cultural relevance can finally begin.
There are many terrible things about show business but I ultimately believe that we’re better off in a world that has stories of the caliber, scope, and ambition of the kind that the studios can produce. It’s looking like those stories will be with us for a little while longer, at least.
Social media isn’t dead yet - The end of Twitter (which is now called X) saw the creation of a ton of new Twitter replacements in a way we haven’t seen since the days of Plurk. You don’t need to follow people on Twitter anymore — you can follow them on Substack, or Bluesky, or Threads. Heck, there’s even one company that lived and died its entire lifetime in the past year.
When Twitter started going to shit, I was fairly distraught that a platform I’d invested 10+ years in was completely imploding due to the whims of a billionaire narcissist. But Elon’s reign has forced me into a zen state around the idea that platforms like Twitter will always come and go. At the end of the day, people really want just want to write their short little thoughts down on the internet and get them read by people, and the market will shift to make that happen.
My Elgato XL green screen - I have a lot of technology in my house but this one piece of kit has really transformed my workflow. Combined with Ecamm’s amazing broadcast/recording software, this green screen enables me to crank out videos that pass my quality bar at a pace faster than ever and reach well beyond my audience on Tiktok and Instagram. Plus it’s super easy and convenient to use and store. Just a very thoughtful product.
I used to be a big gearhead and try to buy all the latest DSLR/mirrorless cameras. But as my career has evolved, I’ve come to believe that you can often achieve better quality by investing more in the stuff that goes near and around the camera. This item is one such investment.
[I’m also a big fan of Elgato’s Wave XLR. I’m not sponsored by Elgato but I would totally be interested!]
The latest COVID vaccines - Apparently, they are pretty effective!
Tech companies subsidizing the ambitious projects of auteur directors - Without Amazon, we’d never have gotten The Underground Railroad. Without Netflix we’d never have gotten The Irishman. Without Apple, we’d never have gotten Killers of The Flower Moon or Napoleon. Sure, it’s unlikely any of these movies will end up being particularly profitable at the box office, but we are living in the strange remnants of an era where tech companies still felt like they could differentiate their streaming services by writing massive checks to some of the most talented movie directors alive. I don’t know how long this era will last (it may already be over) but I’m grateful we got to have it.
My Bowflex adjustable dumbbells - Pretty random but ever since buying the Bowflex SelectTech 552 (followed by the SelectTech 1090) and committing to a standard weightlifting regimen, I’m feeling more healthy and confident. It’s always intimidating to embark upon any new health program or endeavor, but I’ve found the results are generally worth it. If you’re wondering if/when you should start something like this (doesn’t have to be dumbbells, just any healthy habits), the best time to do so was years ago and the second best time is today.
People who (still) decide to take a chance on working with me - I’ve been making podcasts and videos for over 15 years now but I’m always still meeting new, talented folks and pitching them ideas for collaboration. Saying “yes” to any new collaboration is difficult — you’re always putting yourself out there in a way that you don’t fully control.
This past year I’ve been grateful for people who have trusted me enough to work with me for the first time. Folks like Sarah Marrs, who joined me on Decoding TV to podcast about Justified, or Roxana Hadadi who helped me make sense of The White Lotus season 2, or Justin Jordan and Daejah who hosted Decoding Reality to cover The Ultimatum: Queer Love and much more, or Kim Renfro who joined me to talk about the final season of Succession, or Christian Spicer who brought his incomparable expertise to discuss The Last of US with me, or Siddhant Adlakha who brought his amazing wit to our conversations about Dead Ringers and Beef, or Jessie Earl who had so much insight into Gen V, or folks like Noah Ross and Curt Mega and Jon Berry who work behind the scenes to make it possible for me to put out all the audio/video stuff I’m able to. And of course, to Patrick Klepek who has joined me for all the coverage we are doing over at Decoding TV these days.
On that note: I’m also grateful for anyone who supports me financially via my Patreon or. Thanks so much for making my life online possible!
Anyway, wishing y’all a Happy Thanksgiving today. I hope you and yours are having a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.
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