2021 in review – the list

This is my review of the music, movies, and podcasting/journalism that got me from January to December, which was no small feat. For the full analysis, check out this long-ass essay.


I discovered several albums that I enjoyed in the sauna, during boxing workouts, or hanging out around the house in Costa Rica:

  • A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead (Spotify) – pair: w/ sauna sessions
  • Ayayay! by Christian Nodal (Spotify) – pair: long drives in Costa Rica
  • Nevermind (Super Deluxe) by Nirvana (specifically the Boombox Rehearsals tracks) (Spotify) – pair: boxing workouts


Sometimes, I just needed a single track 🔂 to get hyped physically, mentally, or spiritually:

  1. Happy Endings by Mike Shinoda (Spotify)
  2. This Land is Your Land by the Avett Brothers (Spotify)
  3. Wax Poetic by Capstan (Spotify)
  4. Usted by Toledo (Spotify)
  5. 96,000 from In the Heights (Spotify)

👉 This is a trimmed version of a Spotify playlist of 25 songs, which you can check out here! 👈


This year, podcasts gave life to many a boring activity (e.g. cleaning the kitchen):

  1. Unlocking Us by Brené Brown (Spotify) – get in touch with yourself
  2. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown (Spotify) – be an influential and effective leader
  3. Armchair Expert by Monica Padman & Dax Shepherd (Spotify) – get cozy w/ Hollywood celebs
  4. Joe Rogan Experience by Joe Rogan (Spotify) – hear crazy ideas and stupid jokes
  5. Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar (Spotify) – understand WTF is going on in Washington

Honorable mention to This American Life w/ Ira Glass (Spotify), Renegades w/ Bruce Springsteen & Barack Obama (Spotify), and The Problem w/ Jon Stewart (Spotify).

Podcast Episodes

Holy shit. I listened to a lot of podcasts in 2021. I broke down my favorites by category:


  1. First Episode– Breaking Points w/ Krystal and Saagar (Spotify) – 100% the best political podcast ever
  2. Saagar Enjeti on Politics, History, and Power – Lex Fridman Podcast (Spotify) – cogent analysis of why America is being held captive by Wall Street
  3. Elon Musk – Joe Rogan Experience (Part 1, Part 2) – ramblings from our generation’s greatest mind
  4. Jocko Willink – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – kind but no-nonsense perspectives on America
  5. Lex Friedman – Joe Rogan Experience (Part 1, Part 2) – casual debate with an open-minded academic
  6. Tulsi Gabbard – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – honest discussions on what’s wrong with America
  7. Cashing Out on my Trump & IDW Positions– The Portal by Eric Weinstein (Spotify) – excellent explanation of what happened


  1. Neill Blomkamp – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – crazy ideas from a brilliant sci-fi movie director
  2. Esther Perel Returns – Armchair Expert (Spotify) – listen whether your marriage survived 2021 or not
  3. David Sedaris Returns – Armchair Expert (Spotify) – ascerbic gay man tells hilarious stories
  4. Day 7 – Armchair Expert (Spotify) – addiction destroys relationships at every strata of society
  5. Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce D. Perry on Trauma, Resilience, an Healing – Unlocking Us (Spotify). – don’t ask “what’s wrong with you”, ask “what happened to you”
  6. Eric Mosely on Making Work Human – Dare to Lead (Spotify) – cool ideas about the future of work
  7. Dr. Susan David on the Dangers of Toxic Positivity – Dare to Lead (Spotify) – dealing with adversity in the context of relationships

Martial Arts

  1. Valentina Shevchenko – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – she eats cake everyday and lives in Peru
  2. Max Holloway – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – nice guy, family man, Hawaiian, trained killer (UFC)
  3. Gordon Ryan – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – fascinating, not so nice, also trained killer (BJJ)
  4. Justin Wren – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – extremely nice guy, adopted by Pygmies of Congo


  1. Duncan Trussel – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – the funniest/weirdest dude I’ve ever heard speak
  2. Tim Dillon – Joe Rogan Experience (Part 1, Part 2) – would get along great with David Sedaris?
  3. Dave Chapelle – Joe Rogan Experience (Spotify) – not as funny, but has interesting perspectives


Twitch is still new to me, but I’ve really enjoyed the following personalities:

  1. Datsunn (Twitch, YouTube) – chill dude makes funky-ass beats while also being super nice
  2. Gotham Chess (Twitch, YouTube)- Ultra-dorks/cool-guys/Grandmasters play live and simplify chess
  3. Botez Live (Twitch, YouTube) – Shit-talking sisters hustle chess in parks, challenge old guard, make it fun

YouTube videos

This bizarre diverse collection, designed to confound the AI robots attempting to profile me.

  1. Judgement on COVID-19 goes HEAVY METAL (YouTube) – dank guitar solo mixed to anti-COVID-19 preacher
  2. Scathing Review of Return of the Jedi (YouTube) – greatest work of satire in 2021
  3. WIN IN 8 MOVES | The Fried Liver Attack (YouTube) – inspired by favorite white opening in chess
  4. Keenan Cornelius narrates his ideas live during 40 minutes of sparring (YouTube) – elite BJJ guy explains chokes while doing them
  5. 5 Common Jab Mistakes (YouTube) – random guy is really good at explaining boxing stuff


Reading sucks, but audiobooks came in for the win. Except for Monkeys (#1), all of these were found on Audible.

  1. Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate by Jack Ewing (Amazon) – Fascinating nature stories de Costa Rica
  2. Freedom by Sebastian Junger (Amazon) – Sober thoughts on the cost and benefits of freedom
  3. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (Amazon) – Wild, sordid tale about restaurants. NSFW.
  4. How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan (Amazon) The full history of psychedelics, artfully told.
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert (Amazon) – The best sci-fi novel I’ve ever read. Subtexts: power & nature.


I don’t watch many movies, but a few really struck me.

  1. Roma (IMDb, Trailer, Netflix) – Moving story of family in Mexico in 1970’s. Incredible cinematography.
  2. The Matrix 4: Revolutions (IMDb, Trailer, HBOMax) – After 20 years, the saga ends with a bang.
  3. The King (IMDb, Trailer, Netflix) – Wayward prince called to throne, saves England. Cool dialogue.


For some reason, I got really into music documentaries. Here were the most memorable:

  1. What Happened, Nina Simone?A really sad portrait into a brilliant artist who was painfully aware of the oppression around her and slowly was overcome by it. I cried.
  2. Some Kind of MonsterEmo dudes of Metallica trying to figure out how to make art together. Cute.
  3. Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Stressed-looking adults swarming around an ultra-famous pre-teen. Eye-opening.


From walls to Instagram to Costa Rican breweries, a couple of visual artists spoke to my soul:

  1. Seth Bauserman (Instagram) – old friend from JMU whose work keeps getting cooler
  2. Laguz the Fool Time Wizard (Instagram) – I discovered his art while in Costa Rica, specifically the incredible animal logos commissioned by Fuego Brewery. (click here and scroll down to “Beer”)
  3. Nils Westergard (Website) – the most amazing street art you’ve ever seen, all in Richmond!


In addition to daily news in the WSJ (I’m an old man and get the paper delivered daily), these individuals kept me grounded in a year of turmoil and absurdity.

  • Peggy Noonan (WSJ) – Wisdom and balanced perspectives from a right-leaning moderate. Paywall.
  • Breaking Points (Supercast) – Independent journalism w/ left and right representation. Paywall
  • Matt Taibi (Substack) – Independent attacks on lobbyists, hedge funds, and mainstream media. Paywall.

Wait, no commentary?

Ha! You wish. For the full analysis, check out this long-ass essay.

Published by fordprior

Trying to squeeze life like a dishrag. When I do get a drop, this is where it goes.

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