God of War

Disclaimer: It is difficult to convey God of War's importance to me without writing about key elements of the story. If you have not played or finished the game, and you're concerned about spoilers, please do not read this piece.

Seriously, the first paragraph is about the end of the game.

I have provided you with ample warning.

Please do not make this awkward for both of us.


Kratos stands atop the highest peak of the nine realms, his weary eyes scanning the vast horizon, a beautiful valley rendered bleak by the corpses of giants strewn about. Though his hands—crevices etched deep into his skin, weathered by the foul misdeeds carried out over a millennia—have brought death to thousands throughout his existence, in this moment he will use them to put to rest a person whose death was not his responsibility.

The boy standing beside Kratos unties the pouch his father gave him. He holds it out to Kratos. "Father?" he says.

Kratos looks to the boy. A pause. "No," he says. "We do it together." He places his hand upon the boy's shoulder. "Son."

The boy reaches into the pouch, pulls out a handful of his mother's ashes. Kratos reaches in and pulls out a handful of his wife's. The two open their hands and let the wind carry her home.

As I watch, tears coalesce in my eyes, and I am rendered incapable of speaking by the lump that has formed in my throat.

This is the moment where I realize God of War has done something truly astounding.


I've been playing video games for 30 years. Growing up, games would light a spark within my imagination that was impossible to extinguish. I'd lose myself to them, enveloped in their worlds. Whether I'd become a space pirate in Freelancer, or a gnome with a thirst for adventure in Everquest, or a demigod in Morrowind, games fed my desire to escape my own reality and lose myself in another.

But in the last third of my life, I've noticed a distinct shift in how I perceive them. They're no longer portals into other worlds, but mere distractions from the real one. Perhaps it's an age thing. Maybe decades of experience have shifted my perspective in subtle-yet-substantial ways. Maybe my imagination doesn't fire quite like it used to. Maybe routinely inundating myself with video game stimuli over the years has exposed me to the reality that I am staring at carefully crafted systems, art shaped to the specifications of my machine to provide an optimal experience, gameplay loops refined and refined and refined to ensure their longevity. All of this the result of millions of lines of code, written by people who need paychecks, commissioned by large companies who want money. My money.

Holy fuck, is that a cynical take, but there's some truth to it. Don't get me wrong, games are still my primary form of entertainment. They fulfill a need within me I cannot satisfy with any other medium. I love them. But instead of taking each new game at face value, I now compare them to all of those I've previously experienced. Mirror's Edge Catalyst combines the exhilarating experience of free-running on the rooftops of a sprawling metropolis from Mirror's Edge with the open-world activity grind we've become used to in games like Assassin's Creed or Far Cry or The Division or, okay, basically anything Ubisoft puts out nowadays. Bloodborne is Dark Souls with quicker, more aggressive combat, infused with the shitty poetry I wrote as a teen. Red Dead Redemption is like Grand Theft Auto meets having your kneecaps shattered and now you have to just crawl everywhere.

Games almost never instill a sense of wonder and excitement in me anymore. Instead, I look for what will give me my fix. I know the genres to fall back on. I know what clues to look for early in their development cycles as I read the previews. I know which developers to trust, and which ones will have to earn my trust. I'm not necessarily looking for the new experience. I'm looking for the best experience. I don't have the time for anything else. Video games are a commodity. I grind them down and move on once they're of no use to me. I'm at a point in my life where games do not surprise me anymore.

God of War surprised me.

It's not the perfectly honed combat that surprised me. It's marvelous, yes, the way you hack away at draugr with a satisfying kathunk, thwock, crunch of your axe. It's delightful, the way it feels to throw the axe and embed its blade into the chest of a distant foe, only to telekinetically rip it from their body and watch it return to your open hand like motherfucking Thor. It's magnificent, even, how the combat begins to feel like a dance. Seamlessly switching between abilities, dodging incoming attacks, and wielding different weapons to take down a single ornery Valkyrie is exhilarating. It’s combat that nearly holds its own against the likes of Bloodborne and Dark Souls. Christ, it's just wonderful and worth playing the game on the merits of the game part alone. As a refinement on the games that preceded it, it's nearing the pinnacle of achievement.

It's not the beauty of the game that surprised me either. There's no denying God of War is stunning to see in action. It never once fails to impress. Animations, lighting, characters, environment. It is a finely crafted piece of pure art in its entirety. Hands-down, easily one of the best looking games of this generation. It captures an incredible sense of wonder and immense scale by keeping your perspective so close to Kratos, and using carefully planned moments to shift that perspective to help you take in the full environment around you. A fantasy world that is wholly engrossing, beautiful, and imaginative. It's a technical achievement that we'll use as a benchmark for the foreseeable future.

None of those things surprised me. I could see all of it in the previews leading up to its release. The care and polish was palpable. There was no question in my mind that it would meet my expectations. I expected to slash and smash enemies in a satisfying display of vigor and violence. I expected to find myself hooked by loot lust, greedily hoarding every last item I could find to reach my character's full potential. I expected to marvel at a constant barrage of visual treats. I expected a good video game.

I never expected to be completely, utterly engrossed in the journey of Kratos and Atreus, swept up in emotional whirlwind which would linger long after I completed it.

Yes, what truly surprised me about God of War was that I actually gave a shit about its story.

Quick aside: there's a full piece swimming around my head about just how much I dislike video game stories. They are, with exceptions few and far between, mostly terrible. Not just bad stories, but bad stories, badly told. This is not the time to dive into that, but it's worth establishing for context. A game's story capturing my attention is a feat unto itself.

And God of War represents the oddity of the video game world: a good story, good...ly-told.

It's a story fully aware of itself, its history, its missteps. It recognizes the immaturity of Kratos' past as a relentlessly violent, vengeful bastard fueled by bloodlust, and it sets out not to rewrite history, not to atone for it, but to grow from it. This is the product of a team of people who themselves recognize their own growth and maturity and who've infused that into the story they've created.

The connection between Kratos and Atreus drips with authenticity. That this is true in a game where you fell dragons, are swallowed by a giant serpent, and tear the world asunder in the midst of a bloody brawl between literal gods, is incredible. And it's accomplished by deeply rooting the relationship of father and son in humanity. The world, the creatures, the plight of the immortal. All of that is grand and fantastical. The connection between a man trying his best to instill goodness into his son while shielding him from his worst sensibilities, and the son trying to prove himself to his father only to be continuously met with indifference—that's human.

And the game is built in service of that story, rooting your own perspective impossibly close to those of the two main characters. The way the camera follows them the entire time and never strays too far from them, an epic, sweeping single take that feels flawless and magical and immersive. The way the quiet moments in between epic battles is filled with banter that expands upon their personalities. The way you start to see a stubborn man's selfishness slowly chip away to reveal his true self underneath. The way you see a boy learn what it means to use great talent responsibly and earn the respect of his teacher. The way you see the bond between father and son immeasurably deepen. That's where the video game façade of God of War dissipates and reveals itself as something far more special. A tale of overcoming the grief of your past, your present, and building the strength to take on the future. Not a future alone, but one intertwined with the strength of your loved ones.

God of War fully immersed me in a story that felt relatable.

I do not have children, nor do I have any desire to have them. But I do know what it feels like to have a broken relationship with your father that feels impossible to mend.

I do know how it feels to give it your all and for your success to serve as a reminder of how much further you still have to go.

I do know how it feels to desperately try and impress people and finally get the recognition your heart has longed for.

There are multiple moments where my heart leapt in anticipation of Kratos putting his hand on his son's shoulder, only for him to pull away at the last minute, denying his son the comfort he sought in the wake of his mother's death. These subtle gestures—a father's inability to find the strength in himself to be vulnerable, the thick carapace of shame and masculinity rendering him emotionally absent—are heartbreaking.

And the game thrusts you into hours upon hours of slowly, arduously watching the veil of prideful grime wash away, until you're finally presented with the purity of their relationship. Father and son learning, growing from each other. Recognizing their common connection, standing on top of a mountain, watching the ashes of the woman they loved drift off into the heavens. The things that drove them apart for so long now bind them.

And the man, with a single, simple gesture–placing his hand on his son's shoulder–fills my heart.

I've waited my entire life to experience what God of War gave me: a true, emotional connection to the characters I was playing.

God of War is the best game of 2018. Full stop. No explanation needed.

God of War is also easily one of the best experiences I have ever had with a video game. One that I will never forget. One that I will spend the next thirty years hoping to see again.

But even if that dream is never realized, this journey alone was worth it.

The Best List of the Best Games of 2018

Fun fact about me: I am not a fan of making best-of lists. Games. Movies. Shows. Music. Whatever. Doesn't matter. I don't know if I just wholly lack the conviction to drive an opinion stake into the ground and declare, "This is the definitive order for these things, and my infallible opinion on the subject is beyond reproach," but it's never something with which I feel comfortable. Honestly, I find it's an exercise in futility to pick my favorite anything, as I will invariably decide a day later that my current mood completely retcons my previous opinions. And even if I manage to determine what, exactly, was my favorite X of whatever date range, if I'm making a list I have to repeat the process with my second, third, fourth, etc. favorite, which is often even more difficult. Yeah, this thing I liked a lot definitely wasn't my favorite, but how much wasn't it my favorite?

I think my downfall here is that I love things too much, and I love loving things so much that I possess a lot of love for certain things for very different reasons than I love other things, and that dichotomy often makes it feel unfair to try and compare the things I love.

Look, my brain just decided that was a worthwhile thought to put down on the page, so we're gonna roll with it.

Suffice to say, as much as I enjoy popular media (and consume an inordinate amount of it), I rarely have a desire to partake in the end-of-the-year tradition of summarizing the things I loved and trying to organize them in some arbitrary hierarchy.

Also, the last thing I want is for someone to decide that because my list doesn't match their list, that my rightful place in life is to be the receptacle of their unbridled ire.

That doesn't stop me from reading the shit out of other people's lists, though, and of course experience the self-righteous indignation to which I am entitled when the author's opinion inevitably diverges from my own. Oh, you thought Shakespeare in Love was the superior film to Saving Private Ryan, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Literally go fuck yourself. I find myself in awe of other people's abilities to arrange related things with some semblance of objectivity. I don't know how they manage it.

So here are my favorite video games of 2018, in an order that I have—as of the moment of writing this (specifically, 12:13 PM CST on Wednesday, December 26 2018)—deemed satisfactory with regards to my overall enjoyment of them and their importance to me as a representation of the medium:

  1. God of War (PS4)
  2. RimWorld (PC)
  3. Spider-Man (PS4)
  4. Dead Cells (PC)
  5. Assassin's Creed Odyssey (PS4)
  6. Destiny 2: Forsaken (PC)
  7. Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
  8. Celeste (Switch)

Eight games? I played way more than eight games released this year. Some of them were great. Hell, I can basically hear someone uncontrollably filling their pants at the omission of Hollow Knight (which I played after its release on the Switch; it's delightful. Highly recommended). I even put, like, I don't know, 15 hours or so into Monster Hunter: World (it was fine). What gives?

Is this a mix of laziness, a complete lack of desire to write about any of the other games, and/or some lame attempt to play with the word "Octothorpe?"

...

So, yeah. That's the list. Eight solitary wanderers. Naked. Alone. Lost within a barren wasteland of whitespace and contextlessness. What could I possibly do to justify their existence?

As I see it, there are four ways in which I could go about this. Here they are in the order of my desire to accomplish them:

  1. Write an actual, thoughtful piece for each game I chose, and explain my reasoning for its selection and placement on the list, giving me ample fodder for writing creatively about things that brought me an immense amount of joy this year and also (possibly) made me reconsider what video games mean to me.
  2. Begin #1 and find that my motivation dwindles before I finish writing about Spider-Man and completely abandon the project altogether.
  3. Declare that only God of War is truly worth writing about and just do that one.
  4. Conclude this piece with a promise to you all that I will write about each game, but for reasons only known to me, I never quite get there. Later, I'll edit this to make it seem as though I never intended to write the follow-ups, which only serves as a disingenuous veil to pull over my own face and make me feel better about my gross inadequacies. Maybe chalk my failure up to, "You know, I'm just so busy lately." Sometime in mid-2019, I'll tweet about how I never finished this thing, with a lighthearted-yet-poignant jab at my inability to accomplish anything anymore. Two people will like it after my personal account retweets it, and we'll have a good chuckle about how hilariously self-aware I am before that awkward pause in the conversation, because we know, we know.

So my goal over the next couple weeks is to take this list as inspiration. Each and every one of these games meant a great deal to me in different ways, and I feel strongly enough about each one to write at least a couple hundred words or so about what makes them so important. Keep an eye out on this post, as I'll update the list with links to the corresponding post about each game. And at some point, you'll have well-reasoned and clever explanations for all eight choices. We'll all be very proud of me.

I promise.

Apple Sucks

I found myself struck by a realization whilst watching the most recent Apple keynote. Something big, completely unexpected, and I’d bet most who frequent my site would say is a bit out of character for me. A thought so profound, inspirational, and life-changing that it submerged my brain entirely, sulci steeped in viscous ooze that is the afterbirth of a fledgling idea. I couldn't escape the sludge clogging every crevice. Seeing Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi–the bigs, the greats–stroll out onto the stage to excitedly introduce the products that their teams had invested so much time and care into producing over the course of years.

“Innovation,” they cried, as we gawped at a new iPhone with a glass back, wireless charging, and an improved camera.

“Just point-two-five millimeters thicker sapphire.” We’re amazed at the LTE antenna engineered around the display of Apple Watch Series 3.

“ANIMOJI.” Craig Federighi, the fox, now a fox. Charming.

Two things are clear to me as I watch. One: we’re a far cry from the vision of Steve Jobs. This is Tim’s Apple now. A company that is going to execute on a vision of computing that is reminiscent of the late founder’s, but still wholly their own.

And two... Apple Sucks. Something I now realize has been sitting in front of me all along. I just wasn’t ready to see it.

For decades, we’ve been given confections. Bright colors, flashy flavors, lots of sweets, no substance. Delicious shapes, meticulously crafted, bearing no real usage outside of casual consumption that keeps us craving for more. Some products are true pieces of art, but their luster only lasts so long before they’re replaced by some new concoction. It’s an endless stream of delectable offerings overridden soon after by more candy. Some have colorful shells, making them even more enticing. But no matter their coating, they all have one thing in common: they’re useless fluff.

Apple Sucks. That’s the only thing I can think of.

Imagine, if you will, a lollipop. But instead of being molded out of pure sugar and artificial flavors, it was a wholesome, all-natural blend of puréed apples and other fruits to create a snack anyone could feel good about sucking. A healthy alternative to the sugary crap constantly peddled to us, crafted by modern baking techniques. A treat that contained all of the flavor and fun of candy, without any of the guilt.

Tech companies are constantly heralded for all of their innovation. Why isn’t there room for that type of creativity in the candy market? It’s time to shake things up. All it took was a little inspiration from one of the most significant companies in the world.

It’s amazing to me how this idea hasn’t yet been tackled. It seems so obvious. Apple Sucks. A straightforward answer to a complex problem. It’s so smart, it’s stupid.

Pop a Suck in your gob.

Everything is Going to the Beat

Baby Driver is a film set in a world wrought of rhythm. A place that pulses, moves and grooves, somehow soothes despite the staccato rapping of knuckles, bullets, and shoes. Steps pounding the ground. Tires squealing, rounding abound. Pavement torn. Rubber shorn and strewn. Each cut, edit, never losing itself to the thumping tunes infused, pumping through veins and sinew. Cameras trained, bobbing, weaving, brain ingrained, the frame of mind painstakingly blending movement and sound. A clear vision. No refrain. And everything is going to the beat.

It's a world that feels the music as much as the eponymous hero. A world where dialogue is delivered as bass line and gunshots a sharp rat-tat-tat, hits on a cymbal, symbolically showing us each and every scene breathes in sync with the beat. And everything is going to the beat.

Even the things films treat as benign, like paying some mind to the players entwined, is clearly defined and cleverly timed. No mere introduction, no name thrown away. Baby, himself, always allays when a character relays a query, a toe-tapping "B-A-B-Y", percussive and short, a helpful retort to those who purport to have misheard the word escaping his lips. He misses no beat, no skips and no trips. You feel it, you hear it, you're here for the ride. No time to decide. It lures you along, like the piper who's pied. For Baby, each song is a vessel to escape from a mess. You'll watch and you'll hear and you'll grin ear-to-ear, the whole time in awe of the action, so raw yet refined. And everything is going to the beat.

It's a film that's not subtle, except when you double take and see that it's no mistake when the world stops to bop and shake and throw out a word or a phrase in front of your gaze. These details, this grace all over the place. Wright deftly shows he's a genius who knows how to build at such pace that begs you to chase as he directs you to wonder, a feeling asunder that bubbles and forms while the movie is swarming to its inevitable close. It will leave you breathless, even the brief bits of rest give you plenty to see, to hear, and to be in this world that beats like a heart: the source of Baby's tension, Wright's pure intention, a film's grand ascension beyond just a movie. It's plentifully groovy, but it moves me in ways that few have achieved. Beyond all the style, it's the substance Wright weaved. A world rich and grounded, characters rounded, and dialogue that adds as much rhythm as each song did. Each scene coalesces into something impressive, and I left it enamored and eager for more.

Absolutely no hyperbole. In short, I am floored.

AirPods

Longform critique is not something that frequently interests me. The pressure to produce something timely and relevant is enough of a deterrent to keep me from investing too much in writing reviews, and the sheer number of voices scrambling to scream similarly into the void about a product or a service or a piece of art typically convinces me that I don't need to pile yet another opinion onto the heap. Yet, every once in awhile there is something that I am so inexplicably captivated by that I can't possibly expel the thought of it from my mind. After experiencing it, I feel compelled to enumerate, to coalesce my thoughts. I search deep within, try to understand exactly what it is that stands out in such an immeasurable way above all else, and then, occasionally, the words appear (shameless plug for my review of depression and anxiety. Spoiler alert: 1/5, would not recommend.)

For the last seven years or so, my preferred way of consuming audio has been through remarkable pairs of in-ear headphones created by Bose. The latest variant I owned were the MIE2i model, but they've all looked and sounded similarly. You've likely seen them. The cord is an unmistakable two-tone black and white twist, like a flexible candy cane wrought of carbon rather than ruby. The earbuds themselves are unique in the sense that they never create a full seal when worn. Instead, the fitted rubber tip slips loosely into the ear canal, a hook made of the same soft material extends upward in an arch to brace itself along the ridge of the ear. The result is a pair of buds that feel as though you're barely wearing them, yet there is never any fear of them falling out. They're easily the most comfortable headphones I've ever worn.

They also sound fine. As you audioheads out there have probably deduced by my use of the word "remarkable" in the previous paragraph, it is obvious that I am but a mere plebeian in the world of acoustics. If anything, "remarkable" is a better term to describe how it is I've managed to dress myself successfully the last three decades. How do I procure sustenance on a routine basis? Dear god, it's a wonder that I have managed to hold down a job and consistently pay my bills with actual money instead of beans, what with my affinity for the products crafted by the Bose Corporation. Alas, we'll have to wonder together, dear reader (and far superior hearing person), and live with the reality that these headphones are perfectly pleasing to my proto ears. Fist eggplant emoji.

Truly, the only unremarkable thing about these headphones is how—without fail—the cord begins to fray at the base of the jack after a year-and-a-half-to-two-years' usage, leaving an indeterminable amount of time between when the fraying begins to when the cable inevitably ceases to carry audio, at which point you find yourself at Best Buy, scrounging together what little beans you have leftover from rent to buy a new pair of Bose earbuds, with the knowledge that in a few short years the cycle is destined to repeat once again. Planned obsolescence, indeed.

Aside from that, though, you know, pretty good headphones.

Somehow, I managed to squeeze a good three years out of my latest pair. It was only a matter of time before they failed me.

Enter AirPods: Apple's solution to their dastardly scheme of removing the headphone jack of all things from their latest iPhone. When they were announced in September, I was interested. Skeptical, but interested.

Also, what did past Keenan know that slightly less past Keenan did not?!

Eerie.

Why hadn't I jumped on the wireless headphone bandwagon (aside from the fact that I still had a perfectly good pair of wired headphones, of course)? Wireless audio quality didn't deter me like it does for some, but there were some major compromises in the offerings that existed at the time; overall bluetooth pairing and connectivity (oof), product design (most were ugly and I didn't want a half-necklace dangling around the back of my neck), and charging solutions (fuck micro-USB cables) were all things I was far more apprehensive about. Apple's impossible solution seemed to address all of these issues. A slick carapace (iconic white, naturally), each AirPod not much bigger than the existing EarPod design, sans wire, and smart enough to know when you're actually wearing them. Handy charging case that was small enough to take with you, no extra cables necessary. And W1, which promised to simplify the pairing process and seamlessly sync the headphones between your various Apple devices.

In other words: magic. You know, the thing Apple used to sell before Tim Cook literally shit all over everything and single-handedly ran the company into the ground in that alternate universe where Internet commenters live. If Apple delivered what they promised, the first great wireless audio solution would be upon us.

So they promised October. Upside-down smiley face emoji.

By the time they launched late December, the buzz from those who snagged a pair made it seem as though AirPods lived up to the hype. I couldn't help but feel excitement. What a weird feeling to have about an Apple product nowadays.

Then I tried them. It was one of the few truly wow moments I've experienced from technology lately. It was enough to convince me that I had to have them.

It helped that later that very same day, I realized the cable at the base of the headphone jack on my current headphones had begun to fray. Good timing, motherfuckers.

It also helped that it would cost just $30 more to go with AirPods than replace my Bose headphones with the current model. I had an inkling that the convenience of going wireless would more than make up for the little extra I'd spend.

I was right.

If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen at least one of my tweets gushing about AirPods. Further gushing has happened in private channels, I assure you. I can only imagine how much my friends in various Slack channels wish to god I'd shut the hell up about them already. But I'm enamored with these little things. My thoughts feel vast and a bit nebulous. I'll do my best to get them out here. Bear with me.

Like most people, the first experience I had with AirPods was connecting them to my iPhone. Miraculously, W1 completely delivers here. It provides absolutely painless pairing, unlike anything else I've tried. With the swift flip of the case's lid and a single tap on the screen, AirPods and iPhone are one. I'm frankly floored at the difference this makes. My wife was impressed. My wife doesn't care about pairing bluetooth devices.

The second experience I had was wearing them for the first time. I wasn't expecting to smile putting earbuds in, but they emit a pleasant little chime, as though to say, "Hi! Hello! We're ready to go! Let's do this." Every time I take them out of the case and place them in my ears, their gentle greeting gets me grinning.

I also truly dig their style. Sleek. Simple. I'd even go as far to call them cute when they're just straight chilling on the table, waiting to be popped back into your hearholes. They look friendly, like so many Apple devices, which is a welcome shift from basically any other ear apparatus out there. I know aesthetics are entirely subjective, and, yes, I've seen the comments describing them as looking like miniature toothbrushes sticking out of your ear (what), or like you broke a Q-tip off in your ear and left it dangling (which, like, you shouldn't be putting Q-tips in your ears, can we stop please). You don't have to like the look of them, but something tells me the vast amount of revulsion in these hot takes stems from the fact that they're just... a bit... different than what we're used to, rather than any inherent problem in their overall design. To me, whether they're being worn or not, AirPods look better than pretty much anything else on the market. Especially when they're in your ear, they're so simple and innocuous, I can't imagine not liking how they look. A little taste of science-fiction flairPods.

They're light. They fit comfortably in my ears. I never worry they're going to fall out, even though it's easy to forget that I'm wearing them if I pause what I'm listening to for a moment.

And they sound good. Not incredible. Not mind-blowingly better than standard EarPods (though they do sound a bit better). Not "I'm going to permanently replace my $700 cans with these little buddies" amazing. Simply good. A sufficient replacement for my dying Bose headphones. I've listened to hours and hours of podcasts on them, as well as hours and hours of music. I'm surprised at the bass they produce. I'm surprised at their overall clarity. I am frequently delighted when I remove one for a moment, pausing the audio, only to have it pick up immediately the second I put the AirPod back in.

It bears mentioning that transferring audio from one Apple device to another is seamless, nearly instantaneous (except for the Apple TV, which you still have to pair the old-fashioned bluetooth way because we're all just savages and nothing makes sense anymore let's just give up).

Battery life easily meets my needs, though I have run them down a couple times due to the fact that I like wearing them. They're so easy and satisfying that I go out of my way to use them whenever I can. Without wires, it makes a lot more sense to me to pop headphones in when I'm lying down in bed, watching a few videos or listening to a podcast before I fall asleep.

To that point, fast charging is incredible (dead to one-hundred percent in thirty minutes flat). The little carrying case is brilliant. Snapping the lid shut is as satisfying as everyone says, but it's also just as enjoyable to return the AirPods to their cradle and watch them click into place. This product is full of little details that most companies wouldn't even consider. You can truly feel, see, and hear the incredible amount of thought and care that went into their creation.

Oh! I like that I can give one bud to a friend and we can listen to something together when the need arises. SharePods.

I like the freedom they provide. I can move around my apartment or my office without being tethered to my phone while listening to something. I don't have to worry about a cord getting caught on a button or a zipper on my jacket. I don't have to be strategic about which pocket I put my phone in. It wasn't until I started wearing AirPods that I realized how many subtle accommodations I'd made for wired headphones. This epiphany dawned on me the other day when I took my messenger bag off after I got home. I lifted the strap over my head and placed the bag on the ground and realized afterward that I didn't have to temporarily remove my earbuds in the process. I always hated the feeling of the bag's strap tugging at my wired headphones, so I made it a habit to wear the cord over the strap. With nothing there, I didn't even need to consider it, and that was lovely. Such a seemingly inconsequential moment, but being able to subconsciously revert those little behavioral changes add up to create a great overall experience.

On the other hand, the double-tap gesture continues to be a little wonky to activate. I don't usually get it on the first try. Annoying, but not enough to make me rip out my hairPods.

Although I guess that means it saves me from having to interact with Siri, right?! Au contrairePods.

I, honestly, don't really mind Siri. Maybe I haven't set my expectations high enough. Weird little shrug dude emoticon. Regardless, she works as expected here. If you are like me and don't have any major problems with her on other devices, then there won't be a change here. If you think Siri is indicative of Apple's inability to stay ahead of the competition and provide a compelling AI platform and she will ultimately be the misstep that causes them to be overwhelmed by the sheer software and services prowess of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft? Well, I am just so very excited to read your Medium post about how it turns out that AirPods are the final straw; Tim Cook personally let you down for the last goddamn time and you'll gladly watch Apple's inevitable spiral downward, fretfully clinging to the side of the toilet bowl until they are finally washed away. Thanks for nothing, Siri. Also Touch Bar. Also 16GB RAM. Also Maps. Also also also.

Long live Steve.

Anyway...

To summarize: since they're small, light, and stylish, they're extremely easy to wearPods; they can be barePods or hidden under layerPods. I simply pop them in and go about my day. Out of all the options available to me, they're easily my preferred pairPods. Whether I'm vacuuming, walking the dog, or cooking dinner, it's easy for me to dance around like Fred AstairePods. I haven't had any issues dropping them, but I know others have. They are compact and a little slippery, so I'd definitely recommend you handle with carePods. If they do somehow end up on the floor, be careful where you step, because they're quite difficult to repairPods. I'd hate for you to break them, as I know that'd cause me a great deal of despairPods. Furthermore, it's great to have the option of watching the Apple TV without disturbing anyone. I can sit alone, late at night, and watch House of Cards. They're fantastic Frank and ClairePods. This is great, because the last thing I'd want is to be on the receiving end of my wife's glarePods. All things considered, I don't think about my Bose headphones anymore. They don't even comparePods. There's just something so magical, so enticing about these things, a product like this is incredibly rarePods.

If this all seems like a really roundabout way of me saying that I like the little bastards, I get it. I really, really like them. I even maybe love them a little bit (a lot a bit). It's hard to nail down what exactly it is that enamors most about them. There are plenty of things I can readily measure, and I've tried. But in the midst of everything I can clearly identify, there's so much that I find difficult to grasp. To me, it's all of the intangibles that speak so much more about the success of AirPods. The smile on my face when I put them in my ears. The insatiable desire to wear them whenever I can. The thought that somewhere at Apple there is a team of people that had an idea for a product. They wanted to iterate and refine and perfect. They wanted to live up to the reputation that preceded them. They wanted to introduce something that sounds impossible, something that it couldn't work, and they wanted to surprise and delight us all by proving all of our assumptions wrong. They wanted to get it right and show the world what is possible when you truly care about doing something and doing it well.

And they did. They got it right.

They got it so right.


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