My Favorite Things of 2018

Here are some of my favorite things from this past year in various spheres. I recommend these things to friends, family, and now to you.

Note: (These are favorites this year because I interacted with them this year. Not because they were “new” this year.)

Favorite Music

Above & Beyond — Common Ground

CThis album is special to me for a number of reasons. 

I was introduced to electronic/dance music in high school by a manager at the pizza place where I worked. He pointed me to a weekly two-hour podcast of trance music called, at that time, “Trance Around the World with Above & Beyond,” now called “Group Therapy with Above & Beyond.” This group has been one of my favorite listens since I was introduced to them in 2007. 

Common Ground is their newest album, released in January 2018, and their world tour passed through a small venue here in Nashville.

You have to know that Above & Beyond is a world-famous electronic group. That they came through Nashville is a big deal. They’re based in the UK. They normally play places like this:

But in March, they came to a small venue in Nashville two blocks away from my office. I had to go. And I did. And it was amazing. Here’s some video of a ritual they do every show. It’s called “push the button,” during which they invite a fan up on stage to push the button to make the beat drop. It’s an epic moment.

Favorite Online Content Creator

Ninja (Tyler Blevins)

He won Content Creator of the Year at The Game Awards a month ago, and for good reason. Here is the room where is streams. He went from having no YouTube channel to having 20 million subscribers in a year. That’s never happened…and not even close.

It is hard to say whether Fortnite benefitted more from Ninja or Ninja benefitted more from Fortnite. Each played a significant role in the success of the other.

If you need background on who Ninja is, I don’t have time to write it all out, so you can just watch this:

I have tuned into Ninja’s Twitch channel countless times this year. I bought Ninja merch. He’s made his content clean. He’s a blast to watch. Even my wife likes watching him play Fortnite with me. Here’s my favorite moment from his stream this year, which I watched live and died laughing at:

Favorite Book

The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

This was, by far, the best book I read in 2018. I resounded with so much of it. I’ve seen so much of it. I wrote a review for the ERLC here, and here’s a bit of that:

The problem with microaggressions, say Lukianoff and Haidt, is that people often unintentionally offend others simply because of their life experience, and that does not line up with the meaning of “aggression.” They write, “Aggression is not unintentional or accidental. If you bump into someone by accident and never meant any harm, it is not an act of aggression, although someone may misperceive it as one” (p. 40). That is where the phenomenon of microaggressions and The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning collide. The authors identify a shift in morals on campus—a shift from “intent” to “impact” (p. 43). What people intend has taken a back seat to how their act made someone feel, regardless of what the “aggressor” intended. The authors contend, “A faux pas does not make someone an evil person or an aggressor” (p. 44).

Go read that book. It’s a great explanation of the oversensitivity of America’s young people.

Favorite YouTube Channel

PewDiePie

I just think he’s really funny. I like how he pushes back against “safe” content creator culture. I like meme review. I like Pew News. I like his chair. “Subscribe to PewDiePie to beat T-Series” has been one of the best YouTube memes this year.

He’s offensive and controversial. But I watch him a lot because, being the most subscribed YouTuber in the world, he has a dramatic effect on culture.

Favorite Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Headphones

I had a nice contract gig earlier this year. I wanted some awesome headphones because I listen to music while working all the time. I asked Susie if I could use some of the money from the contract gig for these headphones, which I have wanted for a long time but never could justify buying. 

She said yes. And oh my goodness these things are amazing.

I don’t mean to sound bougie(?), but I never thought a pair of headphones could be worth $300—like I was ready to send them back as soon as I got them when I would inevitably realize they weren’t worth the money—but I was dead wrong.

If these things were stolen or destroyed tomorrow, I’d buy a new pair by the end of the week. They are just that good.

I listen to them 4-6 hours a day the whole work week and usually just charge them on the weekends. They charge super quickly. They pair immediately with my laptop and phone. Super clean and easy.

Seriously these are one of the highest quality products I have ever purchased. Worth every penny.

Favorite Video Game

Super Mario Party

I am 28-years-old, and I like to play video games. Spare me your shame. Someone on Twitter probably said something racist 10 years ago, go shame them (cuz apparently that’s a thing now).

I played a number of the most critically acclaimed games this year, and I liked them. Red Dead Redemption II was great. Celeste was amazing. Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are both super fun. But none of those have been my favorite game of the year.

Super Mario Party has been my favorite game of the year. Not because it’s the best (that goes to Celeste or RDRII), but because my wife loves to play it, friends love to play it, and the students in the youth group I lead love to play it. 

I have had more fun playing Super Mario Party this year than I have with any other game. 

Favorite Twitter Follow

Kinja Deals

They always alert me to the best deals online. Most of the time they’re pointing to Amazon, but they often point to other areas as well. 

We have saved a lot of money because of these folks, I think, just by buying things we need at the right time when there’s a good deal. Highly recommend following them.

Favorite Accessory

Apple Watch Series 4

I received an Apple Watch Series 4 for Christmas. I received the first Apple Watch for Christmas when it was released three years ago. Every day when I get up and get ready in the morning, I put it on. I’ve done this for three years. My original Apple watch was starting to slow down a bit, as these products do, so I asked for the new edition for Christmas.

It’s great. It’s something I wouldn’t buy for myself, but I would ask for as a gift. It’s beautiful. It’s helpful. It tracks workouts and fitness really well. Highly recommend.

Favorite App

Dark Sky

I never, ever spend money on iPhone apps. I use every free app I can for anything. After years of using all sorts of bad, ad-laden, free weather apps for my iPhone, I finally decided to spend a whole $4 on the Dark Sky weather app. 

It is easier to read. It depicts weather information in clean, easy-to-understand ways. Best of all, it doesn’t have any ads that slow the app and clog the experience.

It is well worth your $4. You should buy it if you ever check the weather on your phone.

Favorite New Music

Jon Bellion

In this category I want to recommend music that was new to me in 2018, even if the music itself wasn’t released this year.

Just a few weeks ago I was introduced to Jon Bellion. I quickly became a fan of his music. I especially like his newest album Glory Sound Prep. You should give it a listen. It sounds good and has some pretty profound lyrics.

He’s coming to Nashville this summer and I may try to go see him.

Favorite TV Show

Narcos: Mexico

My favorite TV show this year was, without a doubt, Narcos: Mexico.

I have been a fan of every season of Narcos so far. The two Colombian-based seasons were fantastic. The newest season based in Mexico followed in line with those.

I love how much of these shows are in Spanish. I took 12 years of Spanish, so I actually understand a good bit of what is being said even without the captions. And I just love listening to Spanish as a language. It’s beautiful.

The show is fascinating to me because it is a dramatization of real life events. So it sort of feels like a docu-drama like Band of Brothers or the like.

I highly recommend it, but it is pretty raw, just so you’re aware. It doesn’t hold back on all that comes along with cartel culture.


So those are some of my favorite things from this year!

Have a wonderful 2019!