- After three weeks of watching little else (thanks, Covid) we finished all the Bosch in the world. That’s 7 seasons of the original series and one season of Bosch Legacy — wherein he’s retired from the LAPD and working as a PI. The vibes are off; it struggles to maintain the structure and entertainment value that came with Bosch having a partner and a team. They try to do something interesting with the idea that he no longer has the authority of the law behind him, but far from enough to sell the new concept within 10 episodes.
- My speakers and headphones have played even more jazz than usual thanks to Bosch’s record collection featuring prominently on the show. Lots of Art Pepper and Wes Montgomery. Pity it’s an Amazon Prime Video series (and they still don’t have all the episodes available here for god knows what reason). If it were on Apple TV+, I’d bet there would be a great companion playlist on Apple Music.
- Spiritfarer continues to be a cosy little time sink on the Switch. That’s about all I’ve played.
- I bought Into The Breach for the Nintendo Switch about two years ago and haven’t started it up once. Always meant to get around to it, you know how it goes. It’s a turn-based strategy game featuring giant mechs fighting off an alien invasion in pixel art style. This week, it released on iPhone/iPad as a Netflix game — totally free to play for subscribers. I’m unable to decide which platform I would rather play it on.
- Speaking of Netflix, we (okay, we started together but I was left to watch the remaining 75% myself) saw their latest big-budget mess: The Gray Man. It’s supposedly based on a book, but it must have been a comic book because the tone is completely off for a globetrotting spy/assassin caper. It suffers from the Marvelization (actually, is this also Joss Whedon’s fault) of entertainment, where everything is jokey and wacky and the stakes always feel low and the one-liners are channeling Ryan Reynolds freestyling at an open mic night (you’d be forgiven for being confused that it’s Ryan Gosling here). Depending on how much you’re forgiving of Marvel Tone, it’s either a 2 or 3-star film, but add another star because Ana de Armas is in it.
- We went to see the National Museum’s exhibition OFF/ON: Everyday Technology That Changed Our Lives, 1970s – 2000s. It starts very strong, with a recreation of an office out of the 70s and 80s — the Olivettis and stationery and furniture brought me back to messing around at my mom’s workplace as a child. Overhearing conversations are absolutely part of the experience: someone encountering a typewriter and asking “how do you backspace on this thing?”; kids expressing surprise that we had ‘emojis’ for texting back then (they were emoticons :D); a zoomer pointing at a roll of developed film negatives and saying to his friends that “they’re like SD cards, in a way”.
- Disappointments: Only one old camera on display, an Olympus Pen. I was really hoping to see a nice collection, and some more detail on film photography, because honestly the kids have no idea. And the section on Gaming was woefully underdeveloped, like it got none of the budget at all — featuring just ONE retro-inspired pachinko-style game developed for the exhibition. They could have had a few screens showing videos of old games, or put in a couple of MAME cabinets for people to play on. Maybe down to copyright issues, oh well.
- I came across a generative art project that immediately got my attention: Bidonville, by Julien Labat. The title translates to “slum”, and each of the 512 pieces features a randomized, chaotic, yet organic layout for its little dwellings. As the artist’s notes say, it’s a thoroughly serious subject rendered with childlike naïveté. It’s moving. And by pressing E and W on their keyboard, the viewer can supply or cut off electricity and water to the community, and see their effects in the lights at night, and laundry being hung out to dry.
- Speaking of moving, I forgot to mention last week that I came across this poem so moving it stopped me from speaking.
- Finally tested negative for Covid on Wednesday morning, a little more than a full week after testing positive. Despite that, it’s now four days later and I’m still feeling less well than usual. Mostly tired and unable to do very much in the way of physically normal life things, like walking around to eat and shop on a weekend, without feeling winded.
- Thankfully my senses of smell and taste seem to have returned virtually 100% — maybe some things seem a teeny bit different, but overall nothing to really complain about. Crisis averted.
- Monday was the Hari Raya public holiday here, and while I worked through the remaining dregs of illness only from Tuesday to Friday, it felt like an awfully long week and I’m Le Tired. A very nice Peruvian dinner at the end of it all helped restore my HP a little bit, but it’s now Sunday evening and I’m still feeling short of a few days’ rest.
- TV: Just more Bosch. We’re now nearing the end of Season 6, so there’s just one more to go before we can see what happens in Bosch Legacy, the new series that takes place after he leaves the LAPD and becomes a private investigator. I have very high expectations for it to go in weird new directions.
- Games: Only had time to play a bit of Spiritfarer on the Switch, and two rounds of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was on sale. We only made it to the $32,000 mark, In theory, playing a round of a virtual game show together every night sounds like a nice little routine, so I’ll try and do that when I remember.
- My only other entertainment has been more dicking around in Midjourney to try and come up with interesting images. I’ll drop some below maybe.
- NFTs: About five months after discovering the 0xmusic project and buying my first piece, I finally acquired a rare “DJ Handel” this week, completing my collection of all 8 0xDJs. I also made a Deca gallery to showcase them and share a few thoughts on the project.
- Oh, and the project that Rob and I were working on together a few weeks back? It was a new design for the 0xmusic website, which has now mostly launched in its first iteration. It hopefully does a good job of explaining what makes these NFTs special.
- I’ve installed the iPadOS 16 Public Beta on my M1 iPad Pro, almost entirely to try Stage Manager out. Huh. It’s disabled by default, and when enabled, completely replaces the old system of multitasking: no more Split View and Slide Over apps. So the iPad now gives you two entirely different interaction models for getting work done across multiple apps. Along with iOS/iPadOS Safari now letting one choose between two different tab management UIs, this suggests we’re maybe dealing with a new Apple that doesn’t believe its job is to make hard decisions, but to “provide more choice” for a customer base that is now larger and more diverse than Steve’s Apple ever had to deal with. Or this is just a gradual phasing in, and if the data supports it (and when everyone moves to new hardware that supports Stage Manager), the legacy modes will be removed in a few years. Still, I expect this will need explaining to family members in the months to come.
- For two and a half years, I stayed out of Covid’s way by being an introverted indoorsy germophobe. It also helped that I wasn’t going in to any offices or meeting with strangers for the majority of that time. With the general sense of complacency everywhere now — borders open, masks optional in workplaces, in-person meetings a thing again, restaurants packed — it was only a matter of time.
- It seems likely that I’ve been infected with one of the new BA variants; statistically they are most cases now, and reportedly more infectious and maybe even more severe. It’s Day 6 today since I tested positive on Tuesday (though was feeling it in my cells since last Sunday), and I’m still not over it. I started losing my sense of smell two days ago, and it felt like 95% of it was gone when I woke yesterday. After my nose and sinuses cleared, some of it returned. I could taste certain things more accurately, but some frequencies on the spectrum were just missing or muted. Coffee tasted nothing like it used to, only weak notes of chocolate and a thin woodiness like hot water that had been stirred with twigs. It seemed to be only getting worse, so I started preparing for a life without taste. It was a bit depressing.
- Things seem a bit better today, although I’ve yet to try the coffee test. I suspect it may take a very long time after I’ve recovered for things to get back to normal. Meanwhile, lungs full of phlegm and wheeze, sudden hot flashes, fatigue, and bad sleep.
- Keeping us company has been detective Harry Bosch, of the TV show Bosch, which no one I know has ever talked about despite it having seven seasons. I don’t know why! It’s really good, a sort of modern L.A. noir thing, with a main character who would sound cliche if described aloud (he’s haunted, makes mistakes, an extremely good cop, has no personal life because of his work, takes a pessimistic view of the world), but none of that actually comes across and strikes you at any time, so naturalistically is he played by Titus Welliver. Also: jazz music, cigarettes, great editing and direction. It doesn’t have a large budget but never feels like cheap television. Each season is a seamless story arc with no episodic filler.
- Frustratingly, Amazon Prime Video in Singapore claims to have Bosch, but each season has multiple episodes missing/unavailable. I don’t understand the point of putting up incomplete seasons if there are licensing issues holding back some parts.
- I managed to find a few hours to spend with Spiritfarer on the Switch which I’d started awhile back but then left alone. It takes awhile to open up and get all the loopy mechanics going, which has now happened. With all the things that need tending to, it’s very easy to get sucked in. Unlike most games in the time management/busywork genre, however, this one is cozy and doesn’t penalize you for taking it slow and chilling out, just enjoying being on the open sea, on your metaphysical boat taking the lost souls of your friends and family to the afterlife.
- After some delays, rumored to be China related, Diablo Immortal finally launched here in Southeast Asia about a month after the global release. It takes a criminal amount of time to start up, sometimes close to a minute, because the server it checks for updates is slow to respond. But the game itself is polished, fast, good looking. I played it to Level 21 with my Backbone One controller and it feels like a proper Diablo game. Edit: Polygon has a look at the much-criticized monetization system, and I should clarify I have no intention of becoming invested in this. It’s just a fun game until it ceases to be.
- I’m concerned that the ever-growing camera bumps on iPhones are going to make the Backbone One stop working again later this year when the 14 series comes out. Already, Razer’s Kishi controller doesn’t work with the iPhone 13 Pro. If you go on Apple’s official store, the only game grip they sell for it is an odd controller that holds your phone above it in a mount, connected via a lightning cable. Very uncool. It’d be great if Apple made their own. I’m sure they won’t.
- I made more Midjourney art.
- Covid has finally made its way into our household. Kim is down with it, and given our proximity I decided it was impossible. She’s on Day 2 of the whole cough, sore throat, headaches package, while I’ve now started feeling the beginnings of it this afternoon too. So pretty sure I’ll be out of action this coming week.
- It’s probably evidence of a new wave of a new variant (BA 2.75?), because several people we know have also come down with it, including about three others at work. I may have passed it to more while I was in the office this week, unfortunately.
- We had an electrical scare in the house when a light tripped the power. I wasn’t home when it happened, but Kim forced the circuit back on and the LED bulb exploded. After consulting with an electrician, it seems it was a failure in the track light’s transformer, which apparently happens. He was nonplussed about it and said we just had to buy a new one and put it back on the rail. I’m not really comfortable with the idea that QA in the lighting industry is so poor that this happens and we can dismiss it.
- Malaysia’s export ban on chickens continues to generate content opportunities for ChannelNewsAsia, like this program on whether frozen chicken is an acceptable substitute for Singaporeans. We tend to watch these things at night when not in the mood for anything challenging. If Covid ends up giving me brain damage or fogginess, it may be all we watch from now on.
- My GR III came but I’ve had nearly no opportunity to use it. Just a couple of snapshots at work.
- The bear market continues, but I minted a new NFT for my collection from the release of Collapsed Sequence by toiminto earlier in the week.
- After only having access to Dall-e Mini like a pleb for weeks, I finally got access to Midjourney thanks to new friend and good guy Hunn who had a spare invite. You won’t believe how much of my week has been taken up by messing around and trying to get a feel for its prompts. I said in an Instagram post that I’m now 100% certain that these tools are going to be a part of creative work everywhere. No doubt in my mind.
- If last week was long and exhausting then the trend is only accelerating. This week involved a lot of extroversion, conversations, and digging deep for social energy. But there’s change here: talking too much used to wipe me out. Now it can feel worthwhile. Sometimes I even wander into the “need to shut up and listen” zone. Part of this is getting old — people might let you, but it doesn’t mean you should.
- I spent some time with a visiting colleague of sorts, and got to talking about how I spent the last year (rest, goofing off, learning random things), and takeaways from this entire period of work and personal growth since joining the company. It’s no wonder I’m tired; I barely recognize who I used to be five years ago. Things that were hard then are easier now, which reminds me of this “NLP” phrase that used to be in the Pzizz sleep app: let things that are easy… be easy. Is it cringe motivational shit? I think a lot of people could learn from it.
- Last week I tried to buy a Ricoh GR IIIx and my order got canceled because of supply issues. This week I took my Ricoh first-gen GR out for a bit and decided I’d rather stick to a 28mm field of view and crop if needed, so I’ve ordered a regular ol’ GR III instead. Thanks to Shopee’s June 25th sale, I managed to get a better price than what I found in Funan’s camera stores. Let’s see if it manages to be delivered.
- Painfully aware I haven’t played any games recently. The creator of Downwell made a new mobile action game for Netflix, called Poinpy. I’ve only spent 10 minutes on it. It’s much friendlier and cartoony looking, but you can still definitely draw parallels with Downwell.
- If you’re a child of the 80s and 90s, you may remember playing Westwood Studios’ point-and-click game adaptation of Blade Runner, which was hailed as a groundbreaking experience. I hadn’t even watched the film at that age, so the game was just weird to me, but it still looked like nothing else owing to its voxel rendering and motion captured actors. It’s now been remastered and released on the Nintendo Switch for just $10 USD, so I’m planning to give it another go.
- After seeing some Twitter chatter about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s brief but remarkable impersonation of Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 3, we watched it again from my iTunes library and… it’s not the movie I recall. Something about its oversaturated colors and tight framing makes the film feel much older than it is, and nowhere as thrilling as I think it was in the theaters. Ah well. At least now I have this line stuck in my head ready to be repeated all day.
- Netflix has a new (bad) reality TV show called Snowflake Mountain where a bunch of spoiled young people living off their parents get told they’re going to be on a show set on a luxurious resort, but then they get dropped into a wilderness survival experience. It’s so bad we watched all 8 episodes in one go on Saturday. It’s enjoyable mainly because some of them do grow up and become more mature, but I wonder what the producers would have done if all of them remained insufferable and selfish. That said, the brainwashing playbook is well established! Throw them into adversity to break their spirits, add a little kindness and positive reinforcement to bring them back in, then keep them on their toes throughout.
- There’s a fair bit of hip-hop in my library, but Logic’s work is a blind spot. His new album Vinyl Days came up in Apple Music’s New Releases list and I’ve been enjoying its classic production throughout the week.
A few months back, I watched Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle after anticipating it for quite awhile — on paper it sounded like a revisiting and refinement of themes he’d be building for years, in particular Summer Wars, which I’d always considered one of my favorite films of all time. It turned out to be a strange disappointment, all over the place and lacking heart, both literally a cohesive center, and convincing emotional resonance. A bit later on, I read a review saying that many of his earlier works actually shone as a result of his writing partner at the time, Satoko Okudera. These days, she seems to be mostly working in Japanese television and other films I sadly will likely never see.
After it came up in a work-related conversation this week, about good depictions of metaverse concepts in film and media, I decided to give Summer Wars a rewatch to see if it still holds up. I’ve been doing it in installments over my lunch breaks and still haven’t finished, but I can confidently say that it does. It has heart in unashamed abundance. I cried because it has sequences that are joyous and beautiful, because it observes life and family from ten thousand feet, because it feels like a once-in-a-career miracle that people made this then went their separate ways. I also learnt that young people today don’t know how to unzip multi-part archives, but that’s another story.
Back on the anime bullshit, I finally got around to watching Netflix’s A Whisker Away after several years. It’s about a girl who gains the ability to turn into a cat, which she uses to get close to her crush. It spends almost no time explaining the spirit world and mechanics behind this, because it would rather focus on how people are all suffering deep down and can’t be vulnerable or open in our society, and those are the parts that end up saving this somewhat uneven but well-meaning film that doesn’t manage to end very elegantly.
A couple of weeks ago, I watched Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop, also on Netflix internationally and not to be confused with Bubble, a high-budget but fully unnecessary and shallow anime film. Naw, Soda Pop is something else, happy to outline and color in its small scaled human story. Pros: it has a refreshing look that’s bright and sketchy, is set mainly in a suburban mall, has a storyline concerned with music and poetry, and a small but well-meaning heart. Cons: the ending is a bit cringe. On the whole, I enjoyed it and want to see it again.
An AI image generation tool called Dall-E Mini hit my timeline this week, and I haven’t been able to get enough of it. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the proper Dall-E 2 at all, which produces vastly more detailed and beautiful results, but hey this is the one we plebs get, and so it’s the one I’ll play with.
You can bring some really wrong ideas to life with this, which I’ve seen and admittedly also tried, things involving deceased personalities in historically unlikely scenarios, for example. Mostly I’ve just cracked myself up trying to create frames from movies that never happened, and things that are mundane yet just enough surreal. I now desire more power, so if anyone has an invite to Midjourney or any of the other proper tools out there, let me know.
I’ll save a few for posterity here, but my Instagram Stories have been full of them this week.
Kim got back from a multi-week business trip. We were worried it would feel too long but talking regularly via FaceTime was surprisingly good at helping with that. The first few weeks did drag on, but ever since I’ve been back in the rhythms of a day job, time just started moving faster. I said to someone that I now experience and visualize time in the form of calendaring software again: a carpet of items stretching forward endlessly, aka Agenda View. The weekends pop up unexpectedly; all I’m aware of is what’s due to happen later today, tomorrow, and beyond. Looking at time and life itself this way is extremely restrictive for the soul, while it perfectly serves the needs of productivity like blinkers do on a race horse. Part of this is a problem with me, but perhaps the rest is a design challenge. There has to be a better way.
This week I’ve been singing along to the late, great Adam Schlesinger’s Mexican Wine by Fountains of Wayne.