It was National Day week. I half-watched the parade on TV, hoping it might stray from the usual formula. Nope, same old military parade. The COVID years were more interesting — in the same way Apple had to make expensive and polished presentation videos to replace their in-person events, we got a mix of prerecorded material and ‘live’ small-scale performances beamed from venues across the country. I liked that much better than watching thousands of people waving flags in the heat.
We’ve obviously heard the reports of brutal heatwaves everywhere, but it’s probably not any hotter here than it usually is in August (too damned hot). I had to go out most days this week and I figure 10 minutes of walking outdoors is the limit. Any more and the sweatiness would border on socially unacceptable.
It’s worse on men and fat people, and on that note… we continued on from last week’s birthday-related celebrations with too much eating out again. In a single day: an unagi lunch with my parents at Uya, an omakase-type dinner at an izakaya called Kamoshita that I saw Hunn checking into, and then cocktails at The Tippling Club. Later in the week, Beauty in the Pot, which never leaves you feeling very healthy.
Inspired by our viewing of Groundhog Day last week, I decided to buy Loopers for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a Japanese “kinetic novel” which promises a similar premise. Kinetic novels are a subgenre of visual novels, but ones where there are no choices to be made; essentially there’s no “gameplay”. You just click through and experience a written story with accompanying illustrations and voiceovers. I expected a long and convoluted time travel narrative but it was over in about three hours. Hard to recommend at $25 USD but not the worst idea if it ever goes on sale. 3/5 stars if you already like this sort of thing, 1/5 for everyone else.
On TV, we caught up to the second season of Only Murders In The Building (still ongoing), which starts off worryingly weak but begins to get some of its mojo back from episode 3. I spent most of the time wondering why Selena Gomez’s speaking voice sounds strange and strained, and it turns out it’s a question others online have also asked. One suggestion is it’s related to her lupus, but it sounds like an armchair diagnosis from people who get paid for clicks.
We also watched The Bear, an 8-episode drama about running a restaurant/burnout/addiction/family/team management/craft. Several real life friends recommended it, but surprisingly I never saw a single tweet. The filter bubble needs adjustment. The first few episodes are like if Uncut Gems was set in the food service industry: stressfully fast and overlapping conversations (shouting matches?) and general chaotic energy, but it’s worth it. It’s all worth it.
I used my AirPods Max for the first time in many months. Turns out having to take them in and out of the floppy carrying case (which turns them on/off) is a major usability obstacle for me. It’s not as carefree and seamless as popping open the case for my AirPods Pro or Beats Fit Pro, so I just never reach for them on a regular day. Probably the best way is to never use the case, lay them ready to go on the desk all the time, and charge frequently.
Thanks to a scene in The Bear in which Van Morrison’s Saint Dominic’s Preview song plays, I checked out the album of the same name for the first time. It was good but not really what I needed at the time, which led me back to his Astral Weeks album which I heard through twice while commuting.
I was very excited to accidentally learn that Danger Mouse and Black Thought just released an album together: Cheat Codes. According to YouTube, a couple of songs came out awhile ago, but I had no idea. Despite many discovery features in Spotify and Apple Music, there’s a gap in letting us know about new/upcoming music from artists we might like. Seems like a basic thing but there must be commercial, label-related reasons why this still doesn’t work in customers’ favor.
In the meantime, there’s the MusicHarbour app which I don’t use enough because of how long it takes to sync new data on start up, but does actually do the job of tracking new releases based on artists you have in your library. It didn’t alert me to Cheat Codes because I didn’t have music by “Black Thought” in my library, only “The Roots”.
Hah, did you think I’d let a week go by without more AI-generated imagery?!
I’ve set up an OpenSea collection called Blee+ where I’m minting some of my better experiments so far as 1/1 NFTs, priced in ETH. You can buy one for about 40 bucks in today’s money.
In addition to MidJourney, I’ve also started using Stable Diffusion and have been very impressed with what it can do. I suppose the model is closer to Dall-E, as it’s better at visualizing literal concepts such as “a poster” or “a page from a graphic novel”, whereas MidJourney would just kind of grok the style but not necessarily the format and conventions of the medium.
Here are some abstract typographic prints I’ve generated, which are far and away more beautiful to my eye than the generative art attempts to do the same that I’ve seen, e.g. Para Bellum on Art Blocks.