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Welcome back to The 2021 Prompties, an award show so prestigious you only heard of it yesterday. Let’s dive back in…

Eric Mochnacz – Best Undiscovered Gems I Discovered in 2021

Because of the ongoing pandemic, I spent hours on my Kindle, and when my brain just couldn’t look at the small screens anymore, I vegged out in front of the bigger screen, finally taking advantage of the convenience of on-demand cinema. Here are your nominees for Best Undiscovered Gems I Discovered this year:

  • Freaky – Vince Vaughn plays a masked serial killer, and when he attempts to kill Kathryn Newton with an ancient cursed dagger, they switch bodies. Vince Vaughn leans into the role, and it’s an enjoyable modern take on your standard slasher.
  • Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner’s utterly delicious memoir made my stomach growl with her delicious descriptions of Korean food, made me laugh with her wit, and made me feel a deep but cathartic sadness as she details her mother’s losing battle with cancer.
  • Tubi – You’d think in an oversaturated streaming market, the free one wouldn’t rank.

My best discovery this year was Tubi, chiefly for the fact that they constantly feature the straight-to-VHS horror movies of my youth, had me all-in. One personal highlight was Making Contact, a weird ass German evil ventriloquist movie with shitty dubbing, which I loved watching (and gave me nightmares) as a kid. When I’m sick of scrolling through Netflix, Hulu, and Prime, there is definitely something cheesy and schlocky (but highly entertaining and nostalgic) to watch on Tubi.

Jay Heltzer – Best Thing I Learned Turning 50

  • My new colleagues are young enough to be my kids
  • I run slower and gain weight faster
  • My pre-internet life experience is archaic

And the winner is… my pre-internet life experience is archaic! A quarter holds little value to me beyond twenty-five units of cents. I haven’t set foot in an arcade in a while, I couldn’t find a payphone to save my life, and I haven’t needed a stash of laundry coins since the Clinton administration.

I had to call a telephone number and listen to a recording to find out movie times. Paying attention was crucial, otherwise I’d have to call back, and wait patiently through the twelve show times in three different theaters of Beverly Hills Cop.

John Hughes films age really, really well. Political TV shows do not.

How could you possibly have not heard of Oingo Boingo?… Yes, that’s the band with the dude who does all the Tim Burton movie music.

Sarah Razner – Best Character Development of Shows I Watched in 2021

  • Roy Kent, Ted Lasso
  • Jan, Only Murders in the Building
  • Alexis Rose, Schitt’s Creek

In a crowded field of strong, layered competitors, it is Roy Kent that rises to the top of the heap. Many of his Ted Lasso counterparts easily could’ve landed on this list, but it was Roy’s transformation from brash, foul-mouthed, hard-as-stone aging football star, to the sensitive big-hearted, reality-TV loving (and of course, still foul-mouthed) coach that kept him from relegation. Yes, his character in the second season showed flaws, but he also shined in the season’s biggest moments. He grew to care for those he had previously hated and to understand and put first those he loved, while remaining bloody hilarious. For these reasons and more, Roy takes the award for best character development in a TV series I watched this year.

Jillian Conochan – Best Thing I Saw out My Window

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Quarantine Junior had us all looking for novel ways to pass the time and as an OG Work From Homer, I am no stranger to gazing out the window to prevent eyestrain/lightly entertain myself. Of the things I’ve seen, these are the nominees for best:

  • Two possums… mating? I don’t know, I wanted to give them privacy… in my tree
  • A Middle Eastern man being made to take 33⅓ DUI tests around 4 P.M. on a Wednesday
  • A HUGE bough breaking and landing on my crabby, prehistoric neighbors’ Jeep

While nature bein’ nature is always a sight for admiration, I have to say the act of racial profiling I witnessed was the highlight of 2021. Let’s be clear—watching a young, well-dressed professional walk a line, touch his nose, recite the alphabet, et. al., in the long, grisly shadow of police brutality, including the trial of Derek Chauvin, which was underway that very day—felt tense and dreadful. I couldn’t peel my eyes away. No, not in the I hate myself, but I can’t stop watching Siesta Key way, but rather the I am invested in this young man’s wellbeing; I better pay attention type way.

In spite of the seven—seven!—police cars that showed up to the scene, I never feared this would escalate to violence. The scene had an eerie serenity as the young man remained in complete self-possession as he passed test after test.

This sounds terrible! How can you say this is the best thing you saw out your window?! I’m getting there…

45 minutes elapsed, and I was late for a game. I hastily jotted my phone number on a business card and asked permission from an officer to hand it to the man. “What’s this?” he asked.

“Just my phone number. I live across the street and, um, I’ve been here this whole time.” A cop raised an eyebrow at me.

Another half hour passed and an Unknown Number registered on my Caller ID.

“Hi, Jillian?” the voice asked incredulously.

We talked for fifteen minutes. He was in his last year of law school, clerking for a judge who oversees DUI cases.

“I knew the cops’ every move. I told them they were looking for my eyes to skip when they shone the flashlight in them… any wobble when I walked heel to toe. They know me; I pull records for them every week!”

He was indignant, and very, very not under the influence. But most of all, he was grateful to have an ally in a moment that could have potentially intensified to a nine voices of authority vs. one pedestrian, who happened to be brown-skinned.

This was no act of heroism on my part. It was a poignant reminder to pay mind to the things transpiring right outside your window

The Prompt Staff

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