Red Letter Poem #42

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

In praise of fathers and mothers.  No, not the ones we are born to – I’d hope we need no reminder for that gratitude.  I mean those cultural/spiritual/societal patriarchs and matriarchs that materialized somewhere in our lives and helped, by their example, form who we are.  There are individuals whom we might never have met in the flesh and yet are beholden to just the same.  I’d need more hands than I possess to count the number of poets and artists whose lives and works I so admired they catalyzed something in me that I might not have otherwise trusted – might not even have believed was there.

Bonnie Bishop, a poet of deep feeling, can list as many of these honored forebears in the musical world as she does in the realm of letters.  It’s one of the reasons she and her husband spend so much time down in New Orleans, so they can be close to many of the jazz performers they love.  Case in point: the ‘Ellis’ of her poem is, of course, Ellis Marsalis Jr.: gifted jazz pianist, educator, and patriarch of the famed Marsalis family, who died this past April at the age of 85, yet another light snuffed out by Covid-19.  Not only did Ellis teach jazz improvisation to generations of young musicians, he made his home into something of a cultural salon and music academy for neighborhood kids – and along the way launched four of his sons into prominent musical careers of their own.  But his focus was never solely on the sounds coming out from the instruments but on the excitement emanating from young hearts.  And I think the lesson here is that we, in every generation, need to honor what we’ve been given by making sure we too have offered such gifts to other, more recent arrivals.  To recognize those influences we carry within us is to comprehend more fully the constellation of energies we call a life.  But to pass on some of that energy, in whatever form we are capable of shaping and focusing it, is to rebuff the atomized vision of contemporary existence and know we are interconnected in barely-imaginable ways.  Lacking a musical instrument, Bonnie here uses careful observation and lyrical phrasing to invite us to tune in to a vast composition of which Mr. Marsalis’ songs were one small part.

Red Letter Poem #41: 

Red Letter 42

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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US Capitol Riots: Your Library Guide

Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images / Credit: Ashley Gilbertson/VII, for The New York Times

On January 6, 2021, the world watched as a mob of Trump supporters rioted and took over the US Capitol in Washington, DC. News outlets, social media, and smartphones buzzed with all sorts of information, some factual and some not as much. It’s our duty as your library to provide reliable information and educational materials, so we’ve compiled a helpful list of resources to provide some insight after the events that transpired last week.

  • Help! What do all these words mean?!
  • What’s up with the 25th amendment?
    • 25TH AMENDMENT (from Constitutional Amendments): The Twenty-fifth Amendment establishes procedures for filling the office of president and vice president in the event either office falls vacant. Section 1 states that on the death or removal from office of the president, the vice president is to assume the presidency. Section 2 says that when the office of vice president is vacant, the president is to appoint a vice president, who then is to be confirmed by majority votes in the Senate and House of Representatives. Section 3 specifies the procedures a president is to follow if he or she is unable to fulfill the duties of the office and wishes to delegate the duties of the office to the vice president. Section 4 provides guidance in the event that Congress or the officers of the executive branch – that is, the Cabinet – conclude that the president is unable to discharge the duties of the office and has to be temporarily replaced […]
  • Why the 14th amendment?
    • 14TH AMENDMENT SECTION 3 (from Encyclopedia of American Religious History): No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability […]
    • (The Washington Post) There’s an alternative to impeachment or 25th Amendment for Trump, historians say
  • Can social media companies censor Trump?
    • (AP News) EXPLAINER: Can social media companies boot Trump? Yes
      • The short answer is yes. As the Congressional Research Service has explained in a report for federal lawmakers and their staffs, lawsuits predicated on a website’s decision to remove content largely fail. That’s because the free speech protections set out in the First Amendment generally apply only to when a person is harmed by an action of the government.“The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private sector organizations. That’s not how this works,” said Chris Krebs, when asked Sunday whether censorship by social media companies violated freedom of speech protections.
    • (Forbes) Why Social Media Companies Can Censor Trump, And Why Your Boss Can Censor You

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Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum Featured Speaker for Arlington Reads Together

The Robbins Library and The Arlington Education Foundation welcome Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the 2021 Arlington Reads Together (ART) selection Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, to Arlington on Sunday, March 21 at 3:00 p.m.  Dr. Tatum’s presentation, “A Conversation on Race and Racism with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum” will be held on Zoom and live-streamed on ACMi and Facebook Live.  

Library visitors can pick up copies of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria at the Robbins Library during drop-in pick up hours, or request a copy by phone.  Events, book discussions and more take place throughout March.  A full schedule of events and programs will be available at robbinslibrary.org. 

Those who wish to participate in the Zoom conversation with Dr. Tatum on March 21 should register at https://conversationonraceandracism.eventbrite.com

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, is a clinical psychologist widely known for both her expertise on race relations.   The author of several books including the best-selling “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations About Race (now in a 2017 20th anniversary edition) and Can We Talk About Race? and Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation (2007), Tatum is a sought-after speaker on the topics of racial identity development, race and education, strategies for creating inclusive campus environments, and higher education leadership.  Dr. Tatum holds a B.A. in psychology from Wesleyan University, and M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary.  Dr. Tatum’s distinguished career includes positions at many colleges and universities.  

The Arlington Education Foundation joins longtime ART sponsors the Arlington Libraries Foundation and the Friends of the Robbins Library in sponsoring the 2021 program.  Assistant Director of Libraries Anna Litten says, “We’re thrilled AEF is partnering with the library to support this year’s community read. The AEF mission to ‘support and advance public education in Arlington’ ties in so well to the book. ”  Julia Schilling, co-president of AEF, adds “Arlington Education Foundation is incredibly proud to support ART 2021, particularly as this year’s book choice relates to student experiences in a racially mixed school district and encourages honest, sensitive dialogue about racial and ethnic identities,” 

“We are honored to bring Dr. Tatum to Arlington,” says Director of Libraries Andrea Nicolay, “Necessary conversations on race are taking place in our community and across the country, and this year’s read provides a new focus for this topic in Arlington. This program also furthers the town’s Racial Equity Action Plan goal of fostering a safer and more equitable community.”  

Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Bodie stated, “Dr. Tatum’s research on how students develop their racial identity is integral to understanding how to create an anti-racist learning environment for all of our students. It also provides us a foundation for having a community conversation about the many forms of racism that still plague our society.”

The Arlington Reads Together community read program launched in 2002 as a way of bringing the community together through literature. The goal is to address issues, understand differences and create connections through the shared experience of reading.  A committee of library staff and community volunteers select the ART title.  

Questions can be directed to Anna Litten at alitten@minlib.net or 781-316-3202.

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Red Letter Poem #41

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

The first thing to know about literary ‘translation’: it’s an impossibility – especially when it comes to poetry.  Not only are there rarely direct equivalencies between languages, there’s the matter of those inestimable mysteries: musical intonation, cultural memory, and the subtle connotations only a native speaker would detect.  That’s why Steven Cramer refers to his poetic carry-overs as versions, so that a reader will be aware that he’s not aiming at an exact lexical replica but a poem that might create, inside the mind of a reader of English, something close to the effect the original had on its own audience.  After all, what good would it be to recreate, feather by feather, a bird seemingly identical to its model from a foreign land if yours can neither sing nor fly?

So why do poets like Cramer attempt this impossible task – often having to partner with linguists or build upon numerous earlier attempts, all in search of a version with true vitality?  I think it begins in the aspirations for his own poetry.  He’s the author of six collections, the most recent being Listen (MadHat Press) from which today’s piece is taken.  His writing has such keen emotional nuance and imaginative daring, he knows how much faith a poet must place in the art form, what his/her years of effort hope to embody.  And so it’s literally painful to read a poor translation from an admired figure, feeling the poet’s creation crushed beneath the weight of awkward or (worse) unimpassioned verbiage.  Osip Mandelstam – a native of Poland, transplanted to St. Petersburg with his family when he was still a boy – became arguably modern Russia’s greatest lyric poet.  He too understood what it meant to contend with a new language and its obstacles.  And later, under Stalin’s brutal regime, he saw how a poem might become the purest expression of freedom – even as it cost him his home, his life.  In Cramer’s version, I experience a sort of winter-inwardness that feels most appropriate in our own hard season (both the one marked by the calendar, and those of our health and political crises – all those dark cubicles we wake to each day, stretching endlessly into the distance.)  How can an American poet not make an effort to provide his countrymen and women (who, sadly, tend to dwell inside a single language) with at least a taste of other songs, possible worlds – so we too might avail ourselves of that wider sky.

Red Letter Poem #41: 

Red Letter 41

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Red Letter Poem #40

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

The new, for better or worse, is perhaps the most prized quality in art-making: the cutting-edge creative style, voice, or subject matter.  But in truth all creation, even the most radical, has a bond with all that came before.  What else could we fashion new work from – or rebel against – but the world we’ve inherited?  Our lives, our efforts are links in a chain – in a tangled multiplicity of chains – that join us to sources often obscured in time’s vast seas.

Red Letter #37 was Lloyd Schwartz’s lovely poem “Song.”  Of course, we can never know where a poem finds its genesis, but I was fascinated by this early memory Lloyd recounted: his mother reciting Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” aloud to him when he was too young to read.  I believe there is always a sound-signature that great poems leave on us.  And though they might not have been consciously in mind, Lloyd mentioned Frost’s “Fire and Ice” and Elizabeth Bishop’s “Sonnet” as part of his poem’s musical ancestry.  Deborah Melone (the author of Farmers’ Market and The Wheel of the Year from Every Other Thursday Press) read Lloyd’s poem and was enthralled by its music – so much so that, after a few days, a new poem began taking shape in her notebook, one trying to recapture how that music had catalyzed something inside her.  I love how the sound of her poem chimes along with a certain regularity – even as the imagery in each stanza twists and tugs to retain its freedom.  And now, reading Deborah’s poem, who knows: maybe some of you, dear readers, will fall under Deborah’s melodic spell and be surprised by a new voice rising up in your own mind. 

Ch’eng T’ang, the first king of the Shang Dynasty, seeking a formula for happiness, had these words inscribed on his washbasin (nearly four millennia before Ezra Pound turned the Chinese phrase into a Modernist manifesto): Make it new, and again make it new.  So as 2021 makes its debut, and we attempt to put the old awful year behind us, I’ll offer this wish: may we wash ourselves each morning in that ancient aspiration and rejuvenate possibility.  But in doing so, may we also be mindful of all those hands that came before us, and all those yet to come: how every individual cups the same cool waters, dreaming of renewal.

Red Letter Poem #40: 

Red Letter 40

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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2020 Best Books from Robbins & Fox Library Staff

Happy New Year!!!  Here are the Robbins & Fox Library librarians’ top books of 2020!


Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Mexican Gothic by Silva Moreno-García

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyr Muir


Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Docile by K.M. Szpara

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Ghost-Spider by Seanan McGuire

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson


My favorite book of 2020 was The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Fans of her book Station Eleven might be put off by the fact that it’s about a Ponzi scheme, which sounds boring, but I assure you that this book is really about people and it is compelling and beautifully written.

My other favorites from this year are:
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
Beach Read by Emily Henry
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle


Adult fiction: 
Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
This Tender Land by Kent Krueger
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
Shiner by Amy Jo Burns
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Teen Graphic novels:
The Golden Age, Book 1 by Roxanne Moreil
Umma’s Table by Yeon-sik Hong
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Teen fiction:
Dogchild by Kevin Brooks
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Children’s Graphic novels:
GenPet by Damian Campanario
Twins by Varian Johnson
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz
Peter and Ernesto: Sloths in the Night by Graham Annable

Children’s non fiction:
Shirley Chisholm is a Verb by Veronica Chambers
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh
Obsessive about Octopuses by Owen Davey
If You Take Away the Otter by Susannah Buhrman-Deever
How We Got to the Moon by John Rocco
The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor by Amy Alznauer
Dark was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio
Anatomicum by Jennifer Z. Paxton
The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham

Picture books:
Sandcastle by Einat Tsarfati
Shy Ones by Simona Caraolo
Brick by Brick by Heidi Woodward
Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
Dandelion’s Dream by Yoko Tanaka

Children’s fiction:
Flooded by Ann E. Burg
Wink by Rob Harrell
The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan

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Red Letter Poem #39

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

Everyone loves a good ghost story – Charles Dickens understood that – not to mention the dream of second chances.  So when old Mr. Scrooge is visited by his phantom possibilities, we too believe we might reach across time and circumstance – to comprehend our own tangled narrative, to soothe old wounds, and prepare ourselves for what the new morning may offer.  And for that reason I love the matter-of-factness of Jeffrey Harrison’s writing; he offers a counterbalance to the strain of contemporary poems that seek to recreate the universe from the inside out.  He implicitly trusts that the materials of his life (which very much resemble the lives, landscapes, and histories we too inhabit) are sufficient for that most basic of challenges: how to bear the weight of our own past and still enter the new day clear-eyed and open-hearted.  Jeffrey shies away from rhetorical flourishes and works within the bedrock American idiom.  The music of his lines is only slightly heightened from that of earnest conversation or the voice of our internal monologue – and so the situations he presents possess a bracing actuality. 

“Double Visitation” – which appeared recently in Between Lakes (Four Way Books), his seventh volume of poetry – is a ghost story inside a ghost story.  And the questions it raises seem especially appropriate today, in the midst of the mid-winter holidays representing so many spiritual traditions.  So I am left wondering: what secret message am carrying inside me – and whose ears hunger to receive those words, right now, while such an exchange is still possible?

Red Letter Poem #39: 

Red Letter 39

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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Red Letter Poem #38

Steven Ratiner, Arlington’s Poet Laureate, is today’s guest blogger.

People are always creating systems to classify/categorize/pigeonhole individuals, often with little success.  Yet I believe I can neatly divide humanity into two distinct groups: those who collect and those who disperse.  (I’m of the former category, though I don’t think my wife would be so charitable with that characterization; she might suggest pack rat as far more appropriate.)  Still, the dichotomy of these impulses is clear: one contingent is convinced that, at some later time, every one of these cherished items might again be pressed into service, yield new meaning.  Members of the other group (far more practical and clear-eyed) not only know when an object’s utility has passed, they can imagine the clearing in a household such unburdening will create (not to mention the possibilities which arise to fill the void.)  Joyce Peseroff’s fine lyric not only fleshes out these two categories, she draws back the emotional veil on those seemingly simple choices: what are we ever able to hold onto from our past; and what might we gain from a graceful surrender?  Of course, Joyce may well be playing a double game with us: just as she seems to be gently discarding these personal artifacts, she has preserved them in the unroofed attic of a poem.  And it’s we readers who might find ourselves reluctant to part with the recollections she’s coaxed us to unbox.  Sly, these poets! 

Joyce herself has been a mainstay of the Massachusetts poetry scene for decades.  Poet, teacher, editor, she’s been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  Currently she blogs for her website SO I GAVE YOU QUARTZ (joycepeseroff.com) and writes the poetry column for Arrowsmith Press.  “Limmer Boots” is borrowed from Petition (Carnegie Mellon University Press), Joyce’s sixth collection which, I must confess, will not be winnowed from my admittedly-crowded bookshelves.

Red Letter Poem #38: 

Red Letter 38

The Red Letter Poems Project was created in grateful partnership with many of our town’s cultural resources: the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Robbins Library, the Arlington International Film Festival, and Arlington Community Education.  See the full archive of the project at http://artsarlington.org/red-letter-poems/.  We’ll send out a poem from a new poet every week. If you enjoy them, we encourage you to forward them to friends –  in Arlington and beyond –  or to post them on your social media platforms with the hashtags: #RedLetterPoems, #ArlingtonPoetLaureate. If you want to make sure you receive these poems directly – or to receive notices about future poetry events – send an e-mail to: steven.arlingtonlaureate@gmail.com with the subject line ‘mailing list’.

In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art – and, in truth, even the COVID-19 crisis itself – serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.

– Steven Ratiner

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FREE Apps for Video Calling: Check Out Zoom and Additional Options For Virtual Personal Gatherings

Even more of us are familiar with and are using video calling for business in 2020. Here’s the latest information about what the leading providers are offering for free personal use.

Cisco: Webex
A free Webex plan gives you meetings with up to 100 participants, HD video, screen sharing, and a personal room for up to 50 minutes.

Google: Meet
Meet offers a very simple way to video chat with colleagues, friends, and family up to 100 people — assuming they all have Google accounts, which is a requirement for both hosts and participants. Google is continuing unlimited Meet calls (up to 24 hours) in the free version through March 31, 2021 for Gmail accounts.

Jitsi
Jitsi is a free open-source platform that lets you easily meet online by simply navigating to the site and clicking on “Start Meeting.” Apps are also available. It features unlimited meetings for up to 50 people.

Microsoft: Teams
The Personal Teams version doesn’t require an Office 365 account. Microsoft is allowing calls to friends and family to last up to 24 hours and with up to 300 participants for free on desktop and the web. These limits were announced in November 2020 and will be available ‘until further specified.’

Skype: Meet Now
Skype a pioneer in 1:1 videoconferencing, has a multiple person option, too. It’s Meet Now feature (which is accessed by choosing the “Meet Now” button on the left side of the app) allows videoconferencing; up to 50 people can meet with no time limits on meetings.

Zoom
The free version of Zoom allows up to 100 users to meet, and there is a 40-minute limit on meetings of more than two people. Zoom has announced that the time limits will be removed on specific days including the last day of Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

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Best Video Games of 2020

Check out the video games our staff thought were a cut above in 2020!


Hades – The story follows Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape the underworld where he makes his home. Along the way he makes friends with various gods and heroes from Greek mythology. The narrative is revealed in drips and drabs, which works excellently with the gameplay. Most of your escape attempts end in failure, but this never feels frustrating because at least you’ve got some new narrative threads to tug & conversations to have each time you return home. During an escape attempt you collect boons from the gods that alter whatever weapon you choose to take with you on a run. But these boons disappear at the end of a run. Certain materials you collect on a run carry over & can be spent to make Zagreus stronger. So many times in the game you’ll encounter something that seems insurmountably difficult, but after a few runs, upgrades, and failures, you’ll be breezing past it with ease wondering how it was ever a challenge. The soundtrack is amazing as well, and the art style is stunning. An incredibly addictive game that tells a touching, slow burn story that’s well worth the wait.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim – A game that borrows from just about every piece of major science fiction to tell a wholly original, and completely out there, story. The gameplay fluctuates between a visual-novel style where the bulk of the plot and character development happen, and real time strategy sections where your 13 teenage protagonists pilot giant robots to take on hordes of mechanized invaders. Each character’s story feels like a totally different genre, but their tales eventually weave together to form a cohesive whole. It’s a game that keeps the surprises coming right until the end, so every time you think you’ve got things figured out, a piece of information drops that makes you rethink everything.

Ghost of Tsushima – A game inspired by Kurosawa’s iconic samurai films. It tells the story of a samurai, Jin Sakai, grappling with invaders who do not abide by a code of honor like the samurai do, and the moral compromises he has to make to save his homeland. All this against a backdrop of gorgeous visuals and a beautiful score. The gameplay is reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, but with some key differences. One of which are the epic samurai movie style showdowns between Jin & his foes.

The Last of Us Part 2 – A divisive game that takes on the well trodden topics of revenge and loss in an incredibly engaging way. A mid-game narrative choice forces the player to question the morality of the main character, Ellie, who we’ve followed and come to love since the fist game. A lot of people were upset about a big narrative choice in the beginning, as well as this mid-game twist, but both feel necessary and really work to take the player on the narrative journey that the writers intend. A bleak, upsetting story, yes. But poignant and powerful none the less.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – The ultimate comfort game. Super adorable visuals combined with features that force you to take your time and enjoy the journey. You play as a character who embarks on a journey to develop an island & are able to invite anthropomorphized animal companions to live there with you. You can decorate your house, create outfits & artwork, collect bugs & sea creatures, and landscape your island to your heart’s content. Seasons changing adds new and interesting features as time goes on. An almost meditative game that really draws you in & relaxes you.


Animal Crossing – I put in 800 hours into my personal island and still working on the library’s island…


Fall Guys – This game was VERY FUN for how simple it was. A nice dose of serotonin


Super Mario 3D All-stars – Technically a remaster of a bunch of old games but any excuse to replay Mario 64 honestly


And because I’m a terrible mobile casual: Pokemon Cafe Mix! I’m still playing it and I love the mechanics and Pokemon collecting.


The Last of Us Part II

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Cyberpunk 2077


If you like getting lost in virtual words, I’d recommend these three games. Cyberpunk 2077 gets a bit glitchy, but hopefully they’ll fix that as more users play the game. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla allows you to build your own Viking community, so that was a nice change. The Last of Us Part II is just beautiful, creepy, and the characters are multidimensional and complex. 

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