Things That Bring Me Joy: Summer 2020

I’m going to do something a little different in this post. It’s been a tough few… well, months, really, but in particular I’ve been feeling not-so-great over the last few weeks. I’ve been dealing with a general loss of enthusiasm–lately things that usually excite me (books, video games, Dungeons & Dragons) haven’t been doing a whole lot for me. Honestly, I couldn’t think of something fun to write about today because there isn’t a whole lot that seems fun at the moment.

There are a few exceptions to that, though. Even though, generally speaking, I feel like a giant bag of trash 24/7, there have been a few minor spots of light, so I’m going to talk about some of them today.

While quarantine has prevented me from enjoying the theater experience, there are still some great movies to watch at home thanks to streaming services. Case in point: last night, my wife and I watched Palm Springs, a romantic comedy now streaming on Hulu. I’m not normally a big rom-com guy, but Palm Springs has a great twist that hooked me in. I don’t want to say more than that, because I think going into the movie totally blind would give the best experience; if you haven’t seen it yet, don’t look up anything about it, just give it a watch.

Quarantine has also given me the opportunity to catch up on some films I missed when they first came out. I’ve watched several over the last few months, but my favorite so far has easily been Doctor Sleep, Mike Flanagan’s superb adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name (a sequel to the King classic The Shining). I actually did not love the book Doctor Sleep, but the film ranks as one of my favorite King adaptations ever. It works as both a wonderful translation of the novel to the screen and a worthy sequel to Kubrick’s cinematic Shining. It’s heart-wrenching and beautiful, and absolutely required viewing for fans of King’s book, Kubrick’s film, or Flanagan’s work in general.

Movie aren’t the only thing I’ve been watching! There’s been a lot of television, too. In particular, I’m catching up on my Mobile Suit Gundam backlog (surprise, surprise); I’m currently working through my Zeta Gundam blu-rays, and I absolutely understand why this is one of the most well-regarded series in the franchise. Zeta gives meaningful character development to the cast of the original series (Char in particular) while also introducing interesting new characters and delivering even stronger writing than its predecessor. It’s one of the most successful sequels I’ve ever seen in any medium.

That’s not the only Gundam I’m watching, though. Last week, Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE started airing again, after a lengthy hiatus brought on by COVID-19. I’m really glad to see this series return; it’s a much more engaging and, frankly, insane show than its predecessor, and it’s got some absolutely wild mobile suit designs. Plus, we’re late enough in the season that a lot of big mysteries are starting to resolve. Finally sitting down to enjoy a new episode of this series has been one of the highlights of the last week for me.

I’ve also had a lot of time to game, and although I’ve had some trouble getting into anything lately, there are a few standouts that I’m digging. First off, I recently booted up Spider-Man on PS4 for the first time since the DLC wrapped up. Man, what an incredible game! I’ve been having a blast getting back in the swing of things, webbing my way through a New Game+ and picking up the few trophies I hadn’t nabbed the first time around. Replaying this gem is getting me even more excited for the release of Miles Morales later this year.

The other game I’ve putting time into is Dauntless, a free-to-play Monster Hunter-style game. My wife got hooked on this game a while back, and after discovering that it’s available on every platform and features crossplay, we started playing it together. I actually wrote a piece about it already, so check that out if you aren’t familiar! It’s a great game, and now is a good time to jump in–the next Hunt Pass (this game’s version of a Battle Pass) comes out next week, alongside a pretty exciting update!

I’ll be honest–lately, I’ve barely had the energy to get out of bed. But sometimes, when things seem really bad, it’s nice to reflect on the good stuff going on around you. If you, like me, are struggling right now, hopefully something on this list will spark a little joy in your life!

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