Patrick O’Rourke’s favourite things of 2019

Not everything about 2019 sucked

Usually, as the year comes to a close, people put together glowing social media posts boasting about their various accomplishments over the last 12 months.

In my case, I can say with full confidence that 2019 has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I accomplished a lot professionally and grew as a person, but also suffered a serious injury and went through the stressful process of planning a wedding and purchasing a house — two monumental life events that are, unfortunately, also very stressful.

On the lighter side of things, 2019 was a great year for tech and other stuff I tend to enjoy.

Below are a few of my favourite things of 2019:

AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro in front of leaves

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll likely already know that I’m a big fan of Apple’s AirPods Pro.

The pricey $329 CAD Bluetooth headphones are by far the best wireless earbuds I’ve ever used thanks to their active noise-cancelling feature, as well as how comfortable they are in my ears.

I’ve never been able to use in-ear earbuds until Apple’s AirPods Pro because I’ve always found they feel like small insects burrowing into the canals of my ears. The AirPods Pro, on the other hand, fit so well in my ears that I’ve even fallen asleep countless times with them in.

Whether I’m at the MobileSyrup office looking to drown out the chatter of my colleagues, at home watching crappy reality TV on Hayu, or walking down the noisy streets of downtown Toronto listening to mid-2000s emo music most 31-year-olds should have grown out of by now, the AirPods Pro have become my go-to earbuds for all situations.

They’re expensive, but the more I find myself using the AirPods Pro, the more I’m starting to believe that the price tag is worth it.

Switch Lite

Switch Lite front Link's Awakening

It wouldn’t be a list of my favourite things if I didn’t find a way to include the Switch. Nintendo’s smaller Switch Lite can’t dock and connect to a television — leading some to insist that it shouldn’t be called a ‘Switch’ — and features a smaller screen.

Still, I like it far more than the original Switch. While I appreciated that the original Switch was capable of docking when the console was first released, over the last few years I find myself using the Switch less frequently on my TV, instead opting to game in handheld mode.

While the Switch Lite isn’t capable of connecting to a TV, its improved build-quality, smaller size and bright colours made it one of my favourite handheld gaming consoles ever, surpassing even the Game Boy Advance SP. The handheld is the perfect successor to the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS.

Alexisonfire

While the seminal, St. Catherines, Ontario post-hardcore band initially united in 2015 for several big festival dates — likely because they were offered large bags of cash to show up, play a concert and pretend they didn’t hate each other for 40 minutes — Alexisonfire didn’t actually release new music until early 2019, followed by a mini-tour across Canada and the United States.

Though only two new tracks — ‘Familiar Drugs‘ and ‘Complicit‘– have been released so far, as a long-time fan, hearing new music from the band in 2019 was an unexpected but very welcome surprise. I also was able to see Alexisonfire live for the first time in June, just a day after my wedding.

Here’s hoping that in 2020 I’ll finally get to hear more of the new music the band is often teasing in interviews.

Apex Legends

You may have noticed that there aren’t many video games in my list this year. While this might seem very un-Patrick-like, I just haven’t had much time to game over the last 12 months.

That said, Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends struck a chord with me. I’ve always liked the idea of battle royale games and have had a lot of fun with them, but have never been very good at titles like PUBG and Fortnite. The first-person shooter skills I’ve built up over the years playing the Halo series don’t transfer well to those particular games.

Apex, on the other hand, feels like a battle-royale title designed for people who grew up on games like Halo and early Call of Duty games. The pace is a little slower, the time to kill is lengthier, and mechanically, Apex has more in common with Destiny and Halo than Fornite.

I haven’t played much Apex over the last few months because I’ve been busy moving, but I’m hoping to get back into the game soon so I can check out the new map and game types.

Unwritten

I started a podcast about The Hills: New Beginnings with a few friends. Yes, you read that correctly. I really do co-host a podcast called Unwritten: The Hills Podcast about a show that features washed-up reality stars attempting to regain their mid-2000s fame.

In all seriousness, I’ve always enjoyed what I describe as ‘trashy reality TV.’ After a long day of work, sometimes it’s nice just to watch vapid people argue about the meaningless minutia of their privileged lives. The original The Hills was also tremendously influential and paved the way for popular shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and iterations of The Real Housewives series.

Throughout our 10 episodes, Unwritten quickly grew to become the most popular The Hills: New Beginnings Podcast on the internet. We were even featured in Apple Podcast’s ‘New and Noteworthy’ section beside shows created by huge media companies like ESPN and the CBC.

While we’re taking a break from the show right now, we’ll be back when season 2 of The Hills: New Beginnings starts.

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