I don't always do a "here's what I liked that I wrote this year," but given the [waves hands] of this year, especially the last few weeks, why not. Research shows that athletes who engage in self-talk to pump themselves up do better, so I'm going to do that here.
Honorable mention: My ebook, Notes from a Hired Pen: Where to Find New Freelance Writing Clients and Turbocharge Your Career. I didn't want to include it in a list of articles, but I didn't want to ignore it either. These ebooks are a work of love, and while yes they bring in money, the primary reason I write them because I want to help other freelancers.
5. "Helping Runners With Long Covid Get Back on Their Feet" for The New York Times.
It's not easy being sick; it's also not easy being sick while medicine races to figure out how to help you, as is the case with Covid long haulers. This article is a look at one slice of that mystery and misery. It was also the last thing I wrote for the Times this year, in part because I realized I needed a break from covering trauma. I'll be back, don't worry (some people think that me and the Times got in a fight? No, I just wanted to do something else for a bit).
4. "Hate Working Out? Blame Evolution" for The New York Times. In college, I had a (mailed) subscription to the New York Times Book Review. I'd cut out my favorite headlines because I they were so clever, and thought "I'd like to write headlines for this section one day." Huzzah! (even if I didn't write the headline for this one). I've been writing for the New York Times since 2006, but finally getting into this section was a thrill. I only have two more sections on my goal list – that, plus a story running on A1. I got close with the naked 5K piece, which had an A1 reference. Someday.
3. "Mission Impastable: An Impossible Supply Chain Success Story" for Supply Chain Dive. Supply Chain Dive typically assigns me stories, but I pitched this one because I was so fascinated by this pasta saga, and how it perfectly encapsulates the supply chain crisis right now. It's also an example of how a business publication can cover fun topics. (In a previous newsletter, I wrote about how the story came about, including the pitch)
2. "Saying Goodbye to an Endless Year with a 24-Hour Race" for The New York Times
This might be the most challenging assignment I've ever had because I reported on the race while also running the race. I also had to turn the piece around quickly. I finished running on January 1, submitted a draft January 4, and it ran on January 5. That's pretty fast for a feature, especially given that I feel like sludge for a week after I run an ultra marathon.
1. "Running Over Pedestrian Rights" for The Retrospect
Putting a letter to the editor to my local weekly newspaper might seem odd, but I feel this is the best thing I wrote all year. I wrote it one rush, as most of my best essays happen (though of course I edited it before submission). I haven't written many punchy, argumentative pieces lately. I should get back to that.
And this was, really, the best response
Glad to see you finally got published in a newspaper.
— Michael Prospero (@mikeprospero) March 13, 2021
"Can Broadband Investments Boost the Talent Pool?" for CIO Dive
"Pandemic Opens the Door to Investment in Wearables for Supply Chain Workers" for Supply Chain Dive
"It's Not Too Late to Modernize Aging ERP Systems" for CIO Dive
"How Businesses Can Time an ERP Modernization" for CIO Dive
"2021 Workers' Comp Insurance Market Update" for Property & Casualty 360
"How to Say No to Reporting Ct Values" for Clinical Laboratory News
"A Stabilizing Force" for Mudd Magazine
"Engineering the Creative Mindset" for Mudd Magazine
"RFID, Sensor Data Just the Beginning of the Connected Supply Chain" for Supply Chain Dive
What I'm Reading
- Valkyrie: The Story of the Plot to Kill Hitler, by Its Last Member by Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager. I listened to this as an audiobook, and I felt like it was being told to me by a gruff, grizzled man over Scotch and cigars. I've listened to a lot of non-fiction about World War II, but few first person accounts. This is a good one.
- Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh. I've originally picked this up in the summer, then put it back on the shelf. It opens with a Christmas scene, and I'm glad I saved it for now.
- The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy. Amusing, but I don't think it stuck the landing.
- The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly. I liked it, though I still don't know how I feel about Connelly writing a female character. I used to joke that I should write a satirical piece about Bosch's Broken Down Broads but I don't think I could do it anymore because he has he has gotten better with women characters. We'll see.
- The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff. I consistently give her books three stars, but I constantly read them. Maybe that's faint praise, but sometimes I just want a book to carry me along so I don't get swept under the current of bad news.
What I'm Watching
- Single All the Way. I loved this. I need a Single All the Way (SATW) universe. Just keep making holiday movies like this, and a lot of people will be very happy!
- tick…tick…BOOM! Boy, that Andrew Garfield sure can sing. I loved this too.
- The Courier. I liked this until the last half hour or so. I won't give it away but it went from something nifty to something I've seen a billion times in movies before (yes I know it was based on a true story but I didn't need THAT much of that).
- Mickey's Christmas Carol. I watched this so many times on a VHS tape where the sound dropped out for a few seconds in a specific spot, that I instinctively expected it to drop out on the streaming version.
- Blazing Saddles. I've been listening to Mel Brooks' memoir All About Me!, so I've also been re-watching his movies. Some racists have been taking screenshots from the movie and making into memes, when it's clear that they haven't watched the movie and/or don't know it's making fun of them. Because of course.
- The Producers. I watched this on the treadmill and even though I've seen it before, I was crying laughing during "Springtime for Hitler." What a song to get stuck in your head.
- Ghosts. There's a US version of Ghosts on CBS right now, but that's not what I watched. Instead, I watched the UK version that inspired it, which is streaming on HBO Max. Despite being about dead people, it's fun and funny and touching, all at the same time. I highly recommend it.
- Spider-Man No Way Home. Given the legacy of the Spider-Man movies, and all the rights issues that have tangled it up between Sony and Marvel, I thought this was extremely clever. Too long, but all Marvel movies are.
- Hawkeye. How do you create a show about the least interesting Avenger fun? By making it about everyone around him. A+ job here. If you liked the tone of this series, a few episodes were directed by the duo Bert and Bertie, who also directed a delightful movie called Troop Zero. I recommend that one too. Also: if you thought Rogers: The Musical was bad, it's not supposed to be great! Composer Marc Shaiman said he was told to make it cringey. Success! At one point last weekend, I had both "Springtime for Hitler" and "Save the City" in my head. My brain is a weird place sometimes.
- Agatha Raisin: Kissing Christmas Goodbye. I love the UK tradition of doing holiday episodes. This one was an hour and a half long – like a movie! I don't think you'll get it if you don't watch the series, but I recommend that too (speaking of Christmas specials, I also watched the Call the Midwife one, and if Trixie does not end up with the hot sad widower, we riot).
- A Castle for Christmas. We do not need a Castle for Christmas universe. Please no.
- Listening to Kenny G. I don't think this is flattering or unflattering to Kenny G. I did think it was really interesting though.
- Beanie Mania. Yes, this is about the Beanie Baby craze, but it's also about the rise of the internet and collecting on the internet. It's not exactly uplifting, but I'm glad I watched it.
I will be back in the new year with my annual "How I Did" round up. So stay tuned! And GOODBYE to this year.