Eric’s 2020 year-end report


Don’t want to read this whole post? OK, it’s kind of rude to just come out and say that, but here’s a summary:

– I live in Provo now.
– I’m not reviewing movies anymore.
– I also stopped doing that movie podcast that you never listened to anyway.
– I have a full-time day job now! I like it, especially every other Friday, if you catch my drift ($$$).
– I still watch movies, just not professionally.

Well. It’s been a funny sort of year, hasn’t it?

Let’s catch up. In September 2019, the Before Times, I left my beloved Portland, where I’d lived since 2005, to return to my beloved-in-a-different-way Provo to be near family and friends. I intended to keep doing what I had been doing — freelance writing and being poor — but instead I stumbled accidentally into a full-time grown-up salaried job! No one expected this less than I.

The job was for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I still have it. I am a “content writer,” specifically for the church’s Gospel Living app for the youth. In non-denominational terms, I am like a hip youth pastor, “creating” “engaging” “content” for the teens. (Please note: Any posts you see on the app that you don’t like were written by interns.)

This job was a huge change for me — my first non-freelance employment since 2003. I didn’t love commuting from Provo to downtown Salt Lake City each day (96 miles round trip) or having to wear a suit, but I sure loved the stability. Freelancing is like treading water. Even if you’re doing well, you’re always working. It’s exhausting. Getting a full-time job was like crawling onto a desert island to rest for a while.

I continued to write a few reviews, including covering Sundance in January, and I still co-hosted the Movie B.S. with Bayer & Snider podcast. But I no longer had the time or energy to see ALL the movies, nor any financial incentive to do so. And I found that without writing reviews of the movies I did see, I usually hadn’t formulated my thoughts into coherent, interesting opinions when it came time to verbalize those opinions on the podcast. So in February of this year, Bayer and I (mostly me) decided to stop doing the show. We’d been doing it for 10 years, which seemed like plenty.

And then the pandemic happened, theaters closed, and Hollywood stopped releasing movies for a while anyway. We had no idea that ending our podcast would have this effect.

My job is still good, and the company I work for, unlike every website I ever wrote for, is in no danger of being bought out (not by MTV, anyway). It offers a 401(k) plan, so I’m that much closer to finding out what that is. I’ve been working from home since March — no commute and no suits. I’m one of the few people whose work situation was actually improved by the pandemic.

I still plan to come out of retirement each January to cover Sundance, including the mostly virtual one coming up in a few weeks. I’ll go to Telluride and Fantastic Fest as a civilian. Other than that, I’ve given myself emeritus status as a film critic and thanked myself for 21 years of dedicated service. I wrote just over 4,000 reviews in that time, which, again, seems like plenty.

(I recently discovered there’s something screwy in the database preventing the index page from loading, so I gotta figure that out. Otherwise everything should be searchable.)

If you want to know what I think of movies I see, I’m getting better at keeping my Letterboxd page updated. There’s also my Twitter feed, though I often tweet about non-movie things, too.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, I wrote and recorded a quarantine song in April that didn’t have a lot of autobiographical truth but had other merits:

I have no doubt that 2021 will be better than 2020. That’s partly due to my native optimism, but mostly due to math: It’s not scientifically possible for 2021 to be worse. Having a vaccine for the virus and a human being for a president will help. We all lost so much in 2020 — people who died, plans that were canceled, milestones that went uncelebrated, not to mention the ordinary, everyday contact with others that we missed out on and public handrails we were too afraid to lick. I’ve been lucky — I’m healthy and employed — and I still had a crappy year. We can’t undo it, and being resentful about it won’t help, so let’s just look forward.

2020: Let Us Never Speak Of It!