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.
TV 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.
Music 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.
After a couple of Chinese New Year-related family activities in the first half of week, I took the remaining days off work. I’d hoped for it to feel long and restful, and to basically do nothing except play games and plug into new music and movies, but as you’ll know things rarely work out that way. I took way more time off work last year to do that and it still didn’t feel like enough.
We did some research for our trip to Japan later this year, and got hotel bookings in at last — everything is selling out fast, and you may get stuck with small smoking rooms or extravagantly expensive suites if you don’t hurry. Currently, the plan is to spend about a week in Tokyo followed by Kobe and Hiroshima, two places we’ve never been. Next, we’ll have to think about restaurant reservations, although it’s likely too late for anything super fancy or exclusive, if we even wanted that. If you have any recommendations for things to do or eat in those cities, please drop me a note on Mastodon, email, comments, whatever!
On food, I’ve eaten pretty well and badly this week. After chancing upon a new Chinese docuseries on Netflix (The Hot Life) about various regional hot pot cultures across China, I got the yearnings and we went and spent too much at the irritatingly named Beauty In The Pot, which I suppose is my second-favorite local Chinese hot pot chain. I’m no connoisseur but I’ve been to the Cou Cou at Jewel Changi Airport exactly once and it was the best I’ve had (small sample size, current definitive experience = Wu Lao in Taipei, where they infinitely refill the tofu in your steaming vessel for no charge). Oh yeah, there were also two big beef-centered meals of yakiniku and Texas-style barbecue. And a visit to Shake Shack which gave me my first taste of their local exclusive “Pandan Shake”, only like five years after they opened here and introduced it.
We also spent a day with two of our nieces and a nephew, taking them out to McDonald’s and then back to ours for videogames. I did a fresh reset of an old iPad (the last generation of 9.7” iPad Pros, which feels pretty sluggish now just scrolling around in iPadOS 16), filling it up with kid-friendly games from Apple Arcade like Sneaky Sasquatch, Fruit Ninja, Sonic Racing, Cooking Mama. I think they could easily have played on it until the battery died.
We also got on the Switch a bit, where I discovered Mario Battle Strikers is pretty hard at normal difficulty for a 9-year-old (and anyone on their team), and that Untitled Goose Game truly is a masterpiece of game design. The quirky concept just sucks everyone in, and it builds on the brilliant insight that mischief is a universal language.
On my own, I played and completed Death Come True on the Switch, although it’s also available on iOS. It’s a Japanese FMV game (that’s Full Motion Video for you kids who didn’t live through the CD-ROM era) where you watch what is essentially a Japanese network TV drama production and make a few choices that influence what happens next. The plot involves murder, amnesia, and some SF elements. It came out two or three years ago and has been on my to-do list since. I can recommend it if any of the above sounds good to you, whenever it’s on sale.
Another game crossed off my very long list is Kathy Rain: The Director’s Cut, which too is also on iOS. It’s a point-and-click adventure game in the style of Lucasarts and Sierra titles from the 90s. The artwork is on point, but I can’t say I enjoyed the whole experience. The story goes in a direction that didn’t work for me, and requires too much suspension of disbelief. Pity, I really wanted to like a detective mystery starring a motorcycle-riding woman in a leather jacket.
At some point, I will get onto the latest installments of two other classic point-and-click adventure series that are now also on the Switch (with modern graphics): Leisure Suit Larry and Monkey Island.
I also gave Borderlands 2 a go for the second time (I played it briefly on the Mac many years ago) but it didn’t take after a few hours. Between it and Doom Eternal, I was beginning to think I can’t play FPS games on the Switch; something just doesn’t feel right, even after tweaking the controller sensitivity. Is it the low framerate? Input lag? Maybe I hate the Switch’s Pro Controller? I can play these sorts of games fine on my PS4 and elsewhere, but moving and aiming feels so off here. But then I installed Crysis Remastered and it doesn’t seem so bad! Will give it a few more hours.
Since I wasn’t in the middle of a book but didn’t have the energy to choose a “proper” one, I started on the next Jack Reacher installment, Personal (#19), and it was as easy as falling back into bed after brushing your teeth. Pulp fiction, it’s how you meet your Goodreads goals.
We saw two films this week, Arbitrage (2012) and Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022). I’d say they were 3.5 and 4 stars respectively. The former feels a little like David Finch’s The Game in datedness, despite being much newer. Perhaps it’s because the hedge fund guys are old and not finance bros, and Richard Gere keeps conspicuously thumbing his at his BlackBerry? No one in his rich circle uses an iPhone in 2012! The latter is a sumptuous fantasy with the kind of precision and quirkiness that you’d expect from George Miller, but it doesn’t leave enough of an imprint to be a classic.
Shrinking on Apple TV+ came out, and is very much worth watching. It’s apparently Harrison Ford’s first television role, and although he plays the same grumpy old man type he’s inhabited for the last few decades, he’s not phoning it in like his recent films work. You get the sense he cares here and there’s some nicely played emotional depth.
Ivory came out of beta, and everyone says it’s probably the best Mastodon mobile app out there, so give it a try. It’s built on the solid bones of the now-retired Tweetbot for Twitter, and Tapbots have been making fluid and beautiful apps since the early days of the App Store.
I’m also beta testing another classic app I won’t name that is experimenting with a new feature: they’re adding an Instagram-like social network feed to what was previously a standalone camera app. I believe it’s something they actually tried before but it didn’t take off then, and I’m not sure why it would now. Which is a pity because the core app is getting slicker and more usable, but this network is probably something they need to prove value to investors?
There’s clearly a movement or at a least growing interest in decentralized, federated social networking models over the centralized ones of the past, as Mastodon’s rise is showing. And now some people are attempting to build the next Instagram using the same open ActivityPub protocol that powers Mastodon. Pixelfed is one I’ve seen, and is also in beta now. I joined its TestFlight through the site above, and you probably can too.
I got stuck at the stage of picking the server I wanted to join for quite awhile. That, to me, is the big UX challenge federated networks face in gaining mainstream adoption. Choosing the right local server for your account is hard. Will it go down someday and lose all your posts? Will unacceptable behavior on the part of its operators someday cause you to be cut off from the wider network? I don’t know how we make this more approachable for more people.
And then I start to wonder if these experiments will ever be successful in overthrowing Instagram. After all, cloning Instagram the app is doable, but building a user base as large as Instagram’s? Oof. Maybe we can fool Elon into buying it. Anyway metrics like engagement and MAU should probably be allowed to fall aside, as people seek more intimate networks (Path was too early, plus another one named Bondee was in the news this week) and products find other ways to pay for themselves. Would you use a photo-sharing network that had less to look at, and fewer (but more important) eyes seeing your posts? Hmm, maybe! I mean, I’m updating this site and you’re reading it.
I took one photo worth sharing this week as I was crossing a street in the Keong Saik area, after meeting some friends back in town for Chinese New Year. I saw the scene and fished my iPhone out of my pocket and fumbled with the camera left-swipe gesture that never seems to work when you need it, and just grabbed the wide shot (12mp HEIC) while moving.
Later, I cropped it, increased the resolution using Pixelmator Photo’s AI-assisted upsampling feature, and edited it for color and emphasis with VSCO and Darkroom. It would have been less trouble and probably less processed looking if I’d shot a 48mp RAW file, but it turned out okay. Between the improved sensor, ISP, and the A16’s Neural Engine, this year’s model was able to get a shot that I don’t think was possible on an iPhone just a couple of years ago.
Since you made it to the end, you deserve these Midjourney images of the The Golden Girls playing in a jazz band.
This post is delayed on account of the Lunar New Year weekend; hope you had a good one if you celebrate!
After two years of restrictions and fear (not to mention peace and quiet), we returned to the old chaos with a few family gatherings and house visits. Unfortunately, one of my favorite parts of the whole thing, a large reunion dinner on the Eve with some of our most senior relatives, was still off the table on account of their mounting health issues. I wonder if we’ll ever get a chance to see everyone on that side of the family all together again.
I brought my GR III out to capture some of these moments, and fortunately Ricoh released their previously mentioned new Diary Edition model just the day before, which meant the firmware update for older models to get their new Negative film-inspired “Image Control” mode was also released. After some experimentation, I’ve settled on these settings: Saturation +1, High Key +2, Contrast +1, Shadow Exposure -1. Am looking forward to using it for more everyday snaps in 2023.
While hanging around with some relatives in the afternoon of Day 1, a few of us downloaded the Dimensional personality test app and began answering its slew of profiling questions to compare our toxic traits, love languages, and all that. It co-opts a bunch of well-known existing frameworks like the MBTI and so on into one gigantic pile of traits. Does that constitute a unique and proprietary offering? I don’t know, but it’s fun enough and free. Be warned, completing all available questions can take over an hour.
Speaking of apps, my advance pick for 2023’s game of the year launched this week on Apple Arcade: Pocket Card Jockey Ride On. It’s a remake of the Nintendo 3DS eShop exclusive now fixed up with better graphics and subtle gameplay tweaks. If you never played the original, do yourself a favor and give it a try. It’s an addictive solitaire-based game; the main downside (for me) is it’s time-based and needs some concentration and so isn’t something you can play while in a noisy environment.
My Mastodon use has fallen off a little. I actually prefer Twitter’s algorithmic timeline to a chronological one because I tend to follow too many people to keep up, and need some help sifting out the “best” content from the rest. Mastodon is beginning to give me the uncomfortable feeling of a full inbox, but perhaps I should simply follow fewer people.
The general rule around here is to avoid talking about work — although it is usually such a big cost center for my time — but we had a new colleague relocate from Shanghai, and it was nice welcoming them to town and having a couple of impromptu beers on a weekday night.
Last episode, I mentioned seeing some Tezos NFT art at Singapore Art Week. Well I came across one of the pieces for sale (entitled D-909 Groove Arcade) and decided to go through the trouble of creating a Tezos wallet and getting some funds in so I could buy it. It’s one edition out of 167, and so was only like USD$20, but I’m super happy to have it. Can art be absolutely adorable and funky at the same time? Provably yes!
I also continued generating non-existent videogame screenshots using Midjourney, expanding the fictional timeline to include modern-day remakes of old games. I should spend more time pushing this idea further but so far I’ve only done it in spare moments or when I should really be doing something else.
Everything But The Girl is back after what feels like decades, and the video for their new single is an incredible piece of choreography and one-take execution. I could only think of the immense pressure on each person not to fuck up. Dimensional seems to concur, reporting that my main motivation is Security.
We kind of started planning our trip to Japan later this year, but there’s still a lot to figure out in terms of what to do, and where to spend our time. It seems a lot of the popular hotels and destinations are selling out fast, if not already sold out, because of the resumption of travel out of China. I’m going to use this as a test of two new collaboration features in iOS and macOS: shared Safari Tab Groups, and the new Freeform whiteboarding app. In theory this should allow us to gather links to interesting ideas and plot them out together across our devices over several days.
On Friday afternoon, I was excited to see an article saying that one of the best bowls of ramen I’ve ever had was finally coming to Singapore. In fact, it was their opening day, and we decided to just go down right after work to try and get a seat. After about 20 minutes of queuing (which was nothing compared to the maybe three hours we spent in line for the main restaurant in Tokyo), we got into Nakiryu at Plaza Singapura, and were sorely disappointed. For starters, their signature Szechuan-style Tan Tan/Dan Dan noodles were sold out. We ordered shio and shoyu ramen instead, and they were roundly mediocre. The service was also spotty and uncoordinated.
It’s a pattern that the local franchisee Japan Food Holdings (who’ve done the same thing with Afuri and others) seems to be repeating: bring in a brand people are excited for, then do nothing to capture the original taste and quality. I suspect if you did a side-by-side comparison of the ramen from several of their brands, you’d find they’re just selling the same product under different names. Sadly, they’ve probably got the connections to get these deals and as long as the money flows in, the original companies don’t care how badly it’s done outside of Japan.
Singapore Art Week is back and we attended two events: SEA Focus and the creatively named Art SG. The former’s at Keppel Distripark where the Singapore Art Museum’s temporary spot is, and features a little NFT art corner sponsored by Tezos. In contrast to the other exhibits, I found the work in there refreshingly playful, modern, vibey.
At Art SG (a large and mostly serious gallery fair over two floors at Marina Bay Sands), I also found myself reacting more to the digital or digitally inspired work. There was a large print of a CloneX pfp, attributed to Murakami, mounted on a wall that I saw from across the hall and made a beeline towards. The Pace gallery (which I only happen to know because of their collaborations with Art Blocks) space featured teamLab’s NFT project, and a James Turrell projection. The teamLab one is cool: anyone can download and run the artwork (an app) on their PC or Mac. These are regarded as authentic and valid copies of the work. However, one can also own an NFT of the work (there are only 7), and these collectors can change the text seen in the art for everyone else. Oh, and they’re $200,000 each.
Elsewhere, I saw a work that was a white flag printed with a surrender message that I’d read before but didn’t know where. I googled the text but nothing came up. Later, I found a tweet from early 2022 referencing it: an on-chain exchange between two MEV… “searchers”? The tweets only have between a couple hundred and a couple thousand likes, so it’s probably not a widely known thing. But I definitely saw and remembered it from last year, which means I’ve spent too much time spectating in a very small fringe community. And my time spent appreciating generative art has definitely ruined traditional abstract art for me.
Speaking of which, I was excited to add an edition of The Field by Beer van Geer to my collection this week. It’s an interesting (animated) work in that all 369 pieces are different views of the same “territory”, starting at random points, zoom levels, and rendered with different palettes, but viewers of any section can move away from those starting points and explore. As I understand it, the field itself was created from noise data created by aggregating hundreds of images from the artist’s body of work, trying to derive a sort of pattern map or artistic fingerprint from their ouevre. Isn’t that so much more exciting than static paint on canvas??
Ricoh announced a new special edition of the GR III compact camera, called the “Diary Edition”. Yeah it sounds like one of those translated-from-Japanese names that sounds slightly awkward in English, but I like it. As a name, you can’t get much clearer about the concept of a camera that you’re meant to carry around to intentionally document everyday life, and it even comes with a new “negative film” look that will also come to older GR III models via a firmware update. Whether or not this behavior is one that users will actually embrace when they already have smartphones, I don’t know. I suspect not, outside for a few glorious weirdos. But the atmosphere and quality of these photos could hardly be more different than your smartphone snaps, unless you go the film route.
As a new colorway, I also love the look of the Diary Edition.
Here are a couple of photos I took with my GR III on the way to the art fair:
We watched a couple of spy TV shows, of which Jack Ryan’s season 2 was the undisputed best. We’ll start on season 3 soon.
Miyachi’s second album, Crows, is out. I heard it through once and it’s a bop. I don’t know what he’s rapping about but I’m sure it’s slightly problematic.
I finished Arcade Spirits but can’t recommend it if you’ve got many great games in your Switch backlog. To recap, it’s a Western visual novel about running a video game arcade. Some of the background art is basic and not very polished. I was struck several times by the thought that a game creator today could create far better generic bar/beach/arcade interior background art in seconds using AI. And they probably will/are already. So as an artifact of our pre-AI phase, Arcade Spirits stands out as a bit lacking in the production quality department.
Here’s a tweet showing a game prototype someone purportedly threw together using AI tools to create the graphics, icons, and voice acting!
Quite coincidentally, I started experimenting with Midjourney prompts on Monday trying to get the EGA/VGA PC game look of the Sierra games I played in the 80s and 90s. I found a good solution and started using it to visualize screenshots of #fictionalgames from the golden era of PC games, ones that never existed, or that might be made today with modern concepts.
My first PC was their homegrown Cubic CT, basically an IBM-compatible XT 8086 system, with a CGA (Color Graphics Array: just four colors) graphics card, 5.25” floppy disk drive, and no hard drive. I’m pretty sure my dad drove down to Sim Lim Square or somewhere like that and picked it up in person. After a few years, we upgraded to a non-Creative made system based on the Intel 386SX chip (how that SX suffix haunted me, making me feel like I had an inferior machine! The DX was the model you wanted; the SX lacked the dedicated math co-processor, not that I ever really knew which programs made use of it).
Neither of these first two computers had proper audio capabilities, just the awful default “PC speaker”, as it was called back then. You could only get beeps and boops. One needed a dedicated audio card like an Adlib or Roland or Sound Blaster to hear proper music or sound clips. So every PC game I played had awful crude calculator music you wanted to turn off, but when I went over to play at my cousin Bryan’s house (he had a 286 with EGA graphics — 16 colors! — and a Sound Blaster), those very same games would have synthesized orchestral instruments and realistic sound effects. I wanted a Sound Blaster more than anything and wouldn’t have one until we upgraded to a Pentium system much later.
Years before I got my first iPod and switched over to a Macintosh, my first MP3 player was a Creative-made device. The year was probably 1999 or 2000. I was looking to move on from the MiniDisc players I’d been using for years, and these new devices let you carry tons more music around without a folder full of discs in your backpack (this was really a thing we did). The model I chose was a Creative MuVo, a nondescript white plastic square with a tiny LCD screen and a soft joystick nub for control. It played WMA files as well as MP3s, which was a deciding factor for me as you could stuff more music in at an equivalent quality using the WMA format at the time. That little guy kept me company through two long years of mind-numbing administrative work during my national service.
Years later, after graduating and stumbling into my first proper full-time job, the very first task they gave me was writing video treatments for a Creative Technologies product demo DVD. Creative happened to be one of the agency’s longtime clients, and the viral video above was one of the things that happened under their watch before I joined. I remember my partner and I excitedly pitching a direction to our bosses only to be shot down and told to try again. Weeks later, after going out west to Creative’s offices and getting their feedback, it turned out we had gotten it right the first time. That was probably the end of my journey with the brand, although I was intrigued by their attempts to bring a new version of their X-Fi surround audio tech to market in recent years. I almost bought a pair of their headphones to try it, but now Apple’s spatial audio on AirPods has one-upped their approach by delivering a massive library of professionally mixed Dolby Atmos music instead of relying on fake surround processing on stereo tracks.
His death is a sad loss and I wonder what the company will do from here. Looking back on the various products I’ve owned or tried over the years, they offered unquestionable technical merit, above average build quality, and always great value for money.
The new year got off to a gluttonous start with an impromptu visit to one of my favorite buffets, followed by Chinese hotpot, and then an all you can eat Korean BBQ (these were three consecutive days). Then I rested for a day before hitting Mexican cocktails and an izakaya with 1-liter highballs on Friday, and then rounding off the weekend with a burger from Blooie’s Roadhouse on Sunday.
Incidentally, that last meal was my first time at The Rail Mall, which most Singaporeans are probably familiar with, and which I used to pass on the bus daily during the aforementioned two years of national service but never stopped at. There were a few other interesting places we’ll probably be back for, like a craft beer taproom and an all you can eat wagyu yakiniku (so, like, probably tomorrow).
I got into the hottest beta program around: Ivory, the new Mastodon client from Tapbots. It builds on their work for Tweetbot, and it makes using Mastodon as a primary social media platform very enjoyable. I’ve checked Twitter a lot less this week as a result.
I finished my first playthrough of Citizen Sleeper on the Switch and will probably not be back for more until a little later. So many games! I’ve started on Arcade Spirits, a Western visual novel about working in a video game arcade. Not to be confused with Arcade Paradise which is a business sim that lets you run an arcade cum laundromat. If Spirits doesn’t pick up soon, I’ll probably abandon it for Kathy Rain or the Monkey Island sequel.
In need of a new book, I picked up Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs but it didn’t click. I cut my losses after about an hour.
King Princess’s Hold On Baby would probably have been my pick for Best Album of 2022, if I’d chosen an Album of the Year. I’ve played it through about four times this week and still can’t enough. As with quite a few things I really love, I kinda hated it at the start. I mean, I used to hate Macs and Korean food.
We did a deep clean of the fridge and freezer on Sunday. If you’re ever doing the same, Apple’s Cleaning The House playlist may help.
So maybe 2022 was not the best year for many things: my mental health, the markets, avoiding Covid, Goodreads reading challenges, making more time for people, etc. and it ended on a fittingly crappy note as I realized that I’m too neurotic to be a pet owner either. But we have to be thankful for the things we do have, and I am. Here’s hoping 2023 turns things around some 🤞
I saw someone toot that their only New Year’s resolution every year is “Use your stickers”, and I liked that enough to try and actually adopt it as a resolution (I normally think they are dumb). In essence, stickers do nothing for no one when saved on a backing sheet; you should put them to use somewhere, and eat all those mince pies you’ve been hoarding while you’re at it. Use and enjoy your things while you can, mindfully.
My Hotels.com rewards were expiring and I was kinda planning to let them go unused. But they are stickers! So I redeemed them for a night’s stay at a boutique hotel in the Ann Siang/Amoy Street area, which gave us an opportunity to eat at Maxwell hawker center, visit a few cocktail bars (Native is excellent), and get away from things for a little while.
I spent more time playing Citizen Sleeper on the Switch and still recommend it. Minor spoiler: early on there is a sort of timer mechanic hanging over your head, that you can’t help but work towards negating as a main quest. It’s always there in the background of what you do, making you uncomfortable. Once you manage to clear it, though, the game becomes almost too leisurely. The issue is still there but your character can skill up enough that it’s not a threat, only a minor annoyance. I’m not finished yet, so maybe there’s more urgency around the corner.
My last book of the year was Gabrielle Zevin’s brilliant Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which I finished in the final hour of 2022 (for a total of 13 books read). It’s so good, an easy five stars. I would give it six, even. In my world it would be mandatory reading for anyone born between 1975 and 1985, and strongly encouraged for the rest of you. Heartbreaking, beautiful, real, nostalgic, and ripe for TV adaptation.
We binged both seasons of The White Lotus at some point between this week and last. It’s the sort of show you can’t stop thinking about afterwards, but it’s also a little pretentious and heavy handed with its imagery (oh lord here comes another moonlit interstitial shot of waves).
Going through people’s best shows of ‘22 lists, I saw Hacks and Reservation Dogs being mentioned a lot and gave them a try. The latter’s first episode didn’t take, although I can see what they’re going for; it’s just too depressing. Whereas Hacks follows a proven buddy formula with laughs, and teases character development. It’s a nice change of pace from most of our recent serious viewing.
I tried making some city-specific illustrations in Midjourney and was surprised (again) by how good and coherent they can be. They’re not entirely accurate but the vibes aren’t off — Singapore is a time warp of golden era post-war colonial architecture and vehicle design, “exotic” southeast Asian street activity, and modern skyscrapers.