We got our fourth vaccine shots today. Based on historical results, I’m going to be ill tomorrow and she’ll be fine. It’s been about four hours and I’m already feeling a little lightheaded and tired.
It feels like it’s been raining here almost continuously since late December — dark all the time, and practically every day we get storms that last most of the day or night. And so it feels unusually cool and damp indoors, and our dehumidifiers have been working overtime to get clothes dry and keep mold at bay.
This Chinese/Lunar New Year period is often associated with blazing, cloudless skies, and sweating through one’s new red clothes while shuttling around to visit relatives, which makes this year an outlier. And it’s not just me saying it! Several taxi drivers have used this observation as a conversation starter these past few weeks.
And every year, there’s an outsized “Hong Bao” lottery draw that generates long queues at betting outlets. I bought a single ticket for fun while in a convenience store one night, and in the process of getting the link above have discovered that I’m sadly not one of the three winners of the S$12M prize. Or a consolation prize, even.
I generated some cityscape illustrations using a mix of anime and artwork keywords with Midjourney (no artist names), and got some surprisingly great compositions — good enough that I’m using one of them as my phone’s wallpaper now. And then just to mix things up, I asked it to put Godzilla in the cities, and that actually worked.
We finished all 10 episodes of Echo 3 on Apple TV+, a quasi-action series involving a group of special forces types conducting some personal business in Columbia. It’s not a straightforward, fast-moving Jack Ryan sort of show, although it could have been. Its typographic title styles actually reminded me of 80s-era Golan–Globus films — a look and feel and attitude I wish Hollywood would unironically revive. But no, Echo 3 has arthouse ambitions and slows things down with gauzy dream images, flashbacks, and psychologically troubled characters. Which I can’t say I cared that much for! 3/5
We’ve now been subscribed to HBO for a full week and only started using it yesterday. The Last of Us is good television after all, not leaning too much on the game beyond key pieces. My main complaint so far is that shots of the wider world look too much like how I remember the game: CGI rather than realism.
Something odd is happening here in terms of anime licensing. SPY×FAMILY started out on Netflix, then new episodes appeared simultaneously on Amazon Prime Video. I thought this title sharing was a weird one-off, but now Chainsaw Man is no longer on Prime Video only; it’s also on Netflix. If only this disruption of exclusivity happened more so we didn’t have to subscribe to every service.
Incidentally, I finished Chainsaw Man despite not really having any appetite for demon-hunting stories — this one is wild, weird, and really well done.
Speaking of strange behavior, I discovered the #youngstar playlist on Apple Music at some point last year and enjoyed its focus: emerging J-Pop acts that have gained traction first on alternative channels like YouTube and TikTok. But when I checked it out today, I found an international version of the playlist, with English songs only.
Checking in with Michael, I realized some localizing or geofencing was afoot because he still saw the Japanese version (with a US account, in Japan). Highly annoying that we aren’t given a choice which version we see; is it so difficult to just publish separate playlists like “#youngstar (Japan)”, “#youngstar (International)”? So we’ve done that, manually, for anyone else who wants them. You can send us the checks, Tim.
Singling out one song off the Japanese playlist, I enjoyed XG’s Shooting Star and then found myself sucked into their YouTube channel for awhile. For a group that’s only put out about four full songs, they have a ton of content, from training sessions and mixtape-style demos to random behind-the-scenes videos like one where two members practice a rap segment for about seven minutes. The polish on the Shooting Star video reminds me of early Blackpink, and I think these girls are going to be huge (they have 1.1M YouTube subscribers now). It helps that they sing in English, Japanese, and Korean. How do you even source talent like that, and seven of them? Headhunters and recruiters in every other industry need to learn from the music business.