Discover more from The Alaska Memo by Matt Buxton
The best non-political things of 2021, according to me
Video games, hobbying, catching fish and making breakfast.
Good evening, Alaska!
In this edition: After last week’s recap of the bummer that was 2021, I’ve wanted to dive in to some more of the fun, non-political stuff from 2021. And with this week being a more nightmarish freelance crunch than usual sucking up most my time (well, than a much-improved version of yesterday’s newsletter on Omicron here), I thought there’s no better time than now. Thanks! And I’ll be back with Very Serious Political News in tomorrow’s edition, which I think might be the anniversary of something?
Inscryption – The most engaging video game
Video games have been a constant in my life, but the world of video games has been far from constant. Among the new and emerging genres that’s really captured my attention is card-based video games—blame Pat Race for originally getting me hooked on “Slay the Spire”—and more than a fair share of the games that I’ve reviewed in my biweekly video game column with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner have been about such games. Some are great, some are bland and most are interesting, but none so much as “Inscryption.” It’s part card battler and part escape room, all Blair Witch Project, and that’s all I can say about it… except that it has a free demo!
Supermarket Sweep – The most wholesome of junk-food television
It was somewhere into the first few months of the pandemic that I gave up on any pretense of being some kind of snob about television and wholly embraced the world of junk-food TV. Hell, we’re living through a mass-death event that seems to be dragging on interminably so why not enjoy the silly escapism for a minute?
Last year marked the return of what was an early afternoon staple growing up: Supermarket Sweep. The madcap grocery store and product placement spirit is still there, now with lovable and enthusiastic host Leslie Jones. Jones’ humor and connection with contestants makes the show a perfect escape for the times we live in.
Dot’s Bluff – The most faith-restoring Kenai River fishing spot
It’s been more than a decade since I arrived in Alaska, and in that time I’ve had loads and loads of awesome opportunities to see and experience what this great state has to offer. It wasn’t really until 2019 that I finally dipped my toes into the Kasilof River down on the Kenai Peninsula in an attempt to catch my first salmon. It…didn’t go well. Fast forward to last summer, where after several fishless hours of standing on the bank of the Kenai River, something finally clicked and I felt the tug of a sockeye salmon on the line. And then I was hooked. With the freezer full, I finally got to try the whole reason I was catching fish in the first place — sweet, sweet smoked salmon.
Model airplanes – The most pleasant way to watch a few hundred dollars break
The pandemic has made the distance between my family and me feel that much farther, but my brother and my shared love of gadgets enabled our newest hobby —
flying crashing model airplanes. There’s nothing quite like seeing something you spent hours researching and building take to the skies for one brilliant moment before catching the wind and crashing into a tree. (At least mine fell out of the tree.) I’m still too nervous to open the drone he got me for Christmas.
Reno 911!: The Hunt for QAnon – The most irreverent throwback
Ahh, the good old days, when one could find a show that dared to make fun of police officers. The furthest thing from copaganda, Reno 911! is one of those rare shows from the early 2000s that you can mostly watch without constantly having to say “well, it was a product of its time.” The Reno Sheriff’s Department brought the gang back together this year to serve papers to Q on Q’s Booze Cruise, and they’re just as inept as they’ve ever been. Stream it on Paramount +.
NYT Cooking drop biscuits – The most low-effort way to upgrade your weekend breakfast
I hate to brag, but I know a thing or two about breakfast. It’s become a weekend tradition at my house to spend the morning with a fresh pot of coffee, whatever season’s sporting event on the TV, and some bacon crisping on the stove. What accompanies the bacon is subject to the whims of our appetites and whether or not we remembered to buy potatoes. But when I want to step it up, there’s nothing better than the NYT Cooking’s drop biscuits recipe. They’re flaky, they’re easy to make, and most importantly, they bake in just about as long as it takes for me to get everything else ready to eat. For the true Buxton experience, add a dollop of Crofter’s Organic Seedless Raspberry Premium Spread and enjoy with a drooling Australian Cattle Dog at foot.
Beastboss on Naomi-saur – The most meaningful model I’ve painted this year
The start of the pandemic gave me even more free time than I already have as a self-employed blogger/journalist/newsletterer. So of course, I poured that into—what else?—buying, and failing to build, a load of Warhammer 40K models. Legend has it that they’re apparently used for a tabletop war game that takes several sweaty, Taco Bell-fueled hours to play, but the most enjoyment I get out of them is spending several hours fretting over the precise color of blue I’ll paint one single gem on a Space Marine’s eye lens. Should it be Magic Blue, Electric Blue, or Crystal Blue? Arcane Blue? Maybe Temple Guard Blue? Stormy Blue or Night Blue? But I found this year that the best and easiest models I’ve painted are the ones I’m giving to my friends and family. For Christmas, I decided to paint a special model for my brother’s Ork army, complete with a recreation of his bear-riding-a-missile tattoo and riding a Squigosaur painted to resemble his cat, Naomi. I haven’t heard back yet as to whether Naomi appreciates her depiction.
How about you?
What were some of your favorite non-political things of 2021? Let me know and I’ll highlight ‘em in the next edition.
As always, thanks and take care!