😡 hated😒 disliked🤷‍♂️ indifferent⭐️ liked🤩 loved

TV ⭐️ 3 Body Problem

last Saturday at 8:43 AM

🔗 imdb.com

Massive spoilers for both the books and the Netflix show here. If you're planning to ever read or watch either, please don't read this. If you have read the books and watched the show, forgive me any mis-remembering here, I guess!

Enjoyed this way more than I expected to. In places, especially with regard to character development and introduction, the book sometimes suffers from being planned as it was being written, I think. The absolutely crucial, pivotal character Luo Ji being unceremoniously inserted after the first book (I had to go back and check that Wang Miao and Luo Ji weren't the same character) was very jarring, and one of many symptoms of poor foresight and character development in the books.

Having all of the main character concepts visible from the start was a good move by the writers of the show, in my opinion. It allows them to be developed for longer, and to form proper attachments to them. I love that there's evidence of all the characters and their function in the story, spread across the whole cast. I see elements of AA and Cheng Xin in both Jin and Auggie, as well as Auggie obviously adopting most of Wang Miao's formative storyline in terms of nanotechnology. The story flows very well in the new Netflix characters.

I feel like these character adaptations must have taken such a long time to unpick and adapt, but it was worth doing, for me. It means that they left the story alone and focussed on how do we tell this story with these characters? What they've achieved there is quite remarkable. And the casting is excellent as well. Knowing what happens to Wade, Saul (Luo Ji), Auggie and Jin (Cheng Xin and AA), and Will (Yun Tianming), I feel like that's all going to be fun to watch and will make the central friendship group dynamic a lot more powerful by the end of Death's End.

The low-key star of the show is still Benedict Wong as Clarence (Da Shi). My reading of Da Shi was a lot higher energy than the resigned, sarcastic Clarence, but it works well for the tone of the character.

I hope Netflix renews this to cover the rest of the story. The visual implementation of the Panama Canal was absolutely amazing and I am excited to see what they do with the probe's first contact, the shadow colonies, 4D space collapse, Yun's resurrection and meeting with Cheng Xin, and the Neptune capsule.

Link ⭐️ Eddy Burback / Apple's $3500 Nightmare


🔗 youtu.be

I love Eddy. He and NakeyJakey are the best thing to ever come out of Gus Johnson getting big (but we don't watch Gus in this house. I loved his videos but abusers gonna abuse and we don't play with that here).

Eddy is one of those YouTubers I have alerts on for (Jakey too actually) just because everything he does is in my wheelhouse. They're so sincere and their videos are so thoroughly considered. I almost don't care what they're about; I'll probably be into it.

Music ⭐️ Better Lovers - The Flowering


🔗 youtu.be

Jordan has won the ETID breakup (yes every breakup is a competition; I will not be taking questions at this time). I want to love Many Eyes because Keith has my favourite voice in heavy music but I just don't. I need my riffs.

Music 🤩 Knocked Loose - Don't Reach For Me


🔗 youtu.be

This is shaping up to be a monster of a record.

TV 🤩 Gen V


I loved The Boys, and this somehow stands on its shoulders. Incredible storytelling and I love this universe. I was skeptical about this purely because of how much I enjoyed The Boys but no more. I will watch anything they put out relating to this. Best superhero show/anything ever.

Game ⭐️ Go Mecha Ball


🔗 store.steampowered.com

This is neat. It's a hectic twin-stick shooter with a movement mechanic that may remind you a little of Splatoon with a twist. At any moment, you can turn into a ball (think Metroid Prime) and zoom around the level. You can use this to bash into enemies and knock ammo (and sometimes health) out of them. If you time it just right, you can also stop them from attacking, which I've found to be essential for bosses. The movement feels really fast and satisfying, and overall it's a fun casual game for picking up for short runs.

I did have to disable vsync to get over 50FPS but in doing that it does seem pretty stable above that. Would I love 60FPS? Yes of course, but I'll take 50 on a handheld. Doesn't even really kick the fans on either. I've always struggled with vsync and performance on PC gaming.

Cinema 🤩 Dune: Part Two


🔗 imdb.com

I loved this and I'm so glad I got to see it at the cinema (though I wish I'd gone to IMAX). The sci-fi, religion, politics, power, control themes are exactly up my street, and putting Denis Villeneuve in charge is exactly the right call. I love the story, performances were all brilliant, but especially Rebecca Ferguson and Javier Bardem had amazing supporting roles.

Sound design and music were perfect, even though the sound system in the theatre was not really up to the task in places. The character design, costumes, and really the overall art direction are just so strong; photography, locations, vehicles, are wonderful. Particular nod to Baron Harkonnen who is so creepy and scary the way he floats around the place and bathes in oil.

A friend said on Letterboxd that there's a lot of talking about very silly-sounding important things and I know exactly where he's coming from. Usually I'm very sensitive to that sort of thing - it's usually worse in fantasy for me - but I don't get that here. Bene Gesserit just sounds mysterious and intriguing to me, fortunately. I guess I'm a bit of a fanboy.

Music 🤩 Fred again...: Tiny Desk


🔗 youtu.be

I love Tiny Desk. It almost doesn't matter if it's an artist you're into. Everyone has their own interpretation of the format and most do something memorable with it. I even enjoyed Sting and Shaggy's collaboration and I don't have any particular interest in either of them.

Somehow I got chatting to a school mum about music and festivals at the easter ceremony at Tabitha's school and she was into house music. That's not something I'm terribly conversant in, but I can go to Skrillex, Pendulum (a DJ set I saw about twenty years ago 🤫) and Fred again (I've seen his Boiler Room set so I'm something of an expert) and it served me pretty well. Nice to connect with new people about music.

I told her I was usually into pretty heavy music that a lot of people find quite unpleasant, but she asked for a recommendation nonetheless. I recommended Every Time I Die because that's who I recommend to everyone. They're heavy but accessible and they've got a good vibe and an amazing sense of humour. I wonder if she listened to them.

Anyway this Fred again... set is quite special, in my opinion. I'd almost categorise it as post-electronic. Live sampling and basically writing songs on the bounce is an absolutely incredible skill that I feel is only available to people who live, breathe, and think in music. Obviously it's rehearsed, but writing a song whilst you invent instruments in front of a room full of people will never not impress me. It reminds me a lot of this J-E-T-S video where they're cutting samples up live. An enviable skill.

Link ⭐️ What a bunch of A-list celebs taught me about how to use my phone


🔗 theverge.com

I've been thinking a lot about technology in my life and the pull it can exert on my attention and what that's like for my emotional state, and I don't even have a very noisy phone in the grand scheme of things. I have perhaps 4 people in my life whom I regularly communicate with, and they're almost never a negative effect on my mood, but that is largely by design. I've stopped debating on social media, and I'm not one for drama in real life.

I do still find that my phone can annoy me just by existing. It's so useful for so many things, but sometimes those things get noisy and irritating! I like the idea of maining something simple so I can still get a web browser and maps, and then having my iPad to fill in gaps, but I'm pretty fortunate that it isn't something I need just to live something resembling a normal life.

TV ⭐️ The Gentlemen


🔗 imdb.com

I was skeptical about this, largely because I haven't seen anything half decent on Netflix for what seems like years. At least I know this was somewhat written by humans. At the very least it was conceived by humans.

But I liked it. I mean it's extremely contrived in that way that Guy Ritchie does best, and it has one or two glaring holes in the form of absolute liabilities you just would've sacked or killed, but it was fun. I don't think I'll watch it again when I could watch the film, though.

Book 🤩 Ursula K. Le Guin - A Wizard of Earthsea


I know that reading fantasy as a break from science fiction isn't exactly much of a leap but we saw this at The British Library and I wanted to read it. I loved The Dispossessed and I want to read more of her books. Definitely moving onto the next one right away; this was lovely.

Film 🤩 Dune: Part One


🔗 imdb.com

Rewatch because I'm hoping to see part two next week and had forgotten the entire plot. Plus we were talking about it earlier and I wanted to watch it anyway.

For a 2.5+ hour film this goes by quickly; it's a strangely-paced film. It's so slow and purposeful, but achieves so much in terms of world and character development. There's so much history communicated through almost every scene; it's remarkable.

Wish I'd read the book first. I know I should have but I have not.

Book ⭐️ Robin Sloan - Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore


I'm torn between a star and a shrug on this one. I don't love the style it's written in; it reads to me like half journal entry, half recalled anecdote and it just doesn't really do it for me.

The story is fun; engaging characters and vivid scenes, and moves along at a good pace. Lots of things happen, which is always welcome in a book like this. I'm essentially using it as a palate cleanser as I've done a lot of sci-fi lately and it's worked well as that!

If you can read this without picturing the Unbroken Spine as The Society of the Blind Eye, I'm going to have to assume that's because you've never seen Gravity Falls, and that is pretty inexcusable in this house.

Game ⭐️ Balatro


🔗 store.steampowered.com

For whatever reason, when I played the demo in Next Fest I was being grumpy and  didn't like this game. Pretty much every single gaming site (that I'm still reading every day yes 🤫) has been going on about how great it is (and Nintendo pulling it down for being gambling. So stupid; I really hate Nintendo these days) so I thought I'd give it another chance and I actually love it. If it comes to iOS I would get it again. Perfect for waiting outside charity shops.

Music 🤩 HIPPOTRAKTOR - Trix Studio Session


🔗 youtu.be

I did say these guys were amazing live. It's a live session but close enough.

Music 🤩 Bo Burnham - Can't Handle This


🔗 youtu.be

I've said it before but Bo Burnham is an absolute loss to the music industry. His ability to write a vocal melody is unparalleled even in music, let alone musical comedy. And his live production on Make Happy is completely insane. I can't imagine what it'd have been like to be there for this recording. It's an absolutely huge end to an already incredible show. I wish I could've been there.

Watch Inside. It's the perfect time capsule for COVID, and the songs are incredible. Even the outtakes are better than the next-best musical comedy.

Book 🤩 Cixin Liu - Death's End


Perfect science fiction. It's pretty tough in places but never at the expense of the story. The whole thing is surprisingly coherent, and I did find myself right at the edge of understanding it at times, but always managed to find my way back to a narrative that at least made sense to me.

If you have even a slight interest in civilisation, technology, space-faring sci-fi then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this.

I am looking forward to some not-sci-fi though. I loved this but it's a lot and I can do without looking 18bn years into the future for a while.

Film ⭐️ Crazy, Stupid, Love


When Ryan Gosling punches Kevin Bacon in the face is one of the greatest movie moments.

Film 🤩 The Nice Guys


One of the best films I've ever seen in my life. It's perfect. I think about this film multiple times every day.

Music 🤩 Tracy Chapman - Fast Car (feat. Luke Combs)


🔗 youtu.be

When it cuts to Taylor Swift standing and singing, that's where you've got me on the verge of tears. This song is beautiful and sad, and having the recognition of everyone in the room including the biggest star in the world right now; it just gets me teary y'know.

I love how Luke's constantly got his eyes on Tracy - he's following her, and making sure not to step on her. His voice is a perfect complement to hers (if a little high in the mix, but I'll allow it).

I hope this gets a proper recording that I can buy.

Music 🤩 Hippotraktor - Silver Tongue


🔗 youtu.be

I love Hippotraktor and they're absolutely amazing live. Belgium, man; I keep telling you. That's where it's going on. Very happy that there's a new record this year.

Music ⭐️ ten56. - Good Morning


🔗 youtu.be

In the right mood, there's nothing I like more than deathcore and I love ten56.'s take on it. It's so unnecessarily heavy.

Music ⭐️ clipping. - Tipsy


🔗 clppng.bandcamp.com

I love clipping, and Tipsy was huge when I was going to clubs (don't ask how long ago that was; I shan't answer). I'm still used to the way the radio edit sounds but I'm guessing that's about to change.

Link 🤩 rclone


🔗 rclone.org

Wish I'd learned about this a long time ago. Using the AWS CLI across multiple projects in development is super annoying.

Film 😡 Wonka


🔗 imdb.com

There is just no way that the Willy Wonka in this film, in this universe, becomes the cold sociopath of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. No way.

No part of this is a prequel to that film. This film is what so many are now, and that is a dilute strawman that only exists in the mind of the creator and the shareholders responsible.

The only thing I can say for this trash is that I wanted to hate it; I knew I would hate it, and I was not disappointed.

Book 🤩 Cixin Liu - The Dark Forest


Letting you know I exist, and letting you continue to exist, are both dangerous to me

What a wonderful sequel to The Three Body Problem. A coherent, plausible, and utterly desperate future imagined through the lens of totally assured destruction of our species.

Probably the best ending to a second-in-a-trilogy that I've ever read. The reader is Luo Ji's Wallbreaker and it's perfect (that's not a spoiler - if you're interested in sci-fi, this trilogy is essential, in my opinion).

Link ⭐️ Svalboard


🔗 svalboard.com

I really want to have a go with one of these. I wonder how portable my ability with normal 34-key columnar stagger boards would be for it. Only one way to find out I guess! 😒

Music ⭐️ Kittie - Eyes Wide Open


🔗 youtube.com

I was a huge fan of Kittie in my teens. So glad they're back making music again, and they signed to Sumerian which I love.

Link ⭐️ Firehouse Five and the Cinderella Surprise


🔗 cabel.com

This is such a cool time capsule.

TV 🤩 Succession


I think about this show at least once a day. Absolutely beautiful retro paranoid sci-fi thriller.

Game 😒 Steam Next Fest 2024


I don't usually like playing demos. Not sure why - I think investing any time in something incomplete sometimes just feels wrong to me. Demos are actually perfect for my attention span so I read some lists and tried a bunch of things from Steam's Next Fest. My experience has been largely underwhelming.

Here's a bunch of demos I didn't really like (or really didn't like) and why I didn't really like them.

Pepper Grinder has tonnes of potential. I like quirky platformers like Dandara and Flinthook, but something about Pepper Grinder just feels a little off to me. Maybe it's something I could get used to, but I'll see how much it is when it releases. Definitely one of the better ones on this list.

#DRIVE Rally is a very well-timed low-poly arcade rally game (the aesthetic is similar to art of rally, in some ways), but it seems to have binary braking (i.e. brakes are either off, or slammed on), the steering is super twitchy, and your co-driver is incredibly annoying. There's also some bits where the track forks that he specifically does not help you with, but then yells at you when you go the wrong way. This could be cool but at the moment it's annoying.

Berserk Boy is Mega Man, and it's a good Mega Man, but the combat is pretty one-dimensional and not very satisfying, and the first two bosses are identical except for the colour of their projectiles.

Balatro is a card game. One day I will get it into my head that I don't like card games.

Mullet Mad Jack is like if Hotline Miami was an FPS Japanese gameshow against robots. It reminds me of the movie Guns Akimbo for some reason. It's too difficult to distinguish the enemies from the walls so it's a pass for me.

Echo Point Nova is a bit Neon White-y, but the gameplay trailer makes it look way more fun than it is. There's a lot of mechanics here, and that makes the tutorial long and boring, and after a very short amount of time I was just done with it still being the tutorial.

Breachway is a card game where you play cards by dragging and dropping them onto spaceship animations. It made me miss FTL.

Rack and Slay is a top-down geometry sort of thing where you have to shoot pool and pot the balls except everything is weird. It could be cool as a casual thing, and I preferred it to subpar pool, but that's not really saying much.

Trash of the Titans looks like a cool pixel Final Fantasy Tactics. I say "looks like" because I couldn't actually figure out how to play it.

Raw Metal is a bit like Metal Gear Solid, except when you're spotted the game turns to a third-person brawler thing. I didn't like the stealth, and I didn't like the brawling, then I got shot by something I couldn't see, and uninstalled the demo.

Normal Fishing is a fishing game made by someone who has potentially only ever had fishing described to them. They may or may not have ever played a video game. Games are supposed to be fun.

Gatekeeper wants to be there for you if you like Risk of Rain 2 and Hades. I like both of those games but something about Gatekeeper felt really wooden and slow. It took me about 15 attempts to clear the first area of Risk of Rain 2, and 1 to clear the first area of Gatekeeper.

Artifact Seeker is another vampire survivors clone where all the women are impractically well-endowed. It makes me feel like a creep playing games like this, so I just don't. I seemed to do really well at this without trying, and then I died quickly and didn't understand why.

Never Grave could be quite cool. It has an interesting hat thing going on, which might work. But I don't get why it's ripped off so much of the Hollow Knight feel. And the first boss had an insane amount of health and appeared after about 3 minutes and I couldn't be bothered to deal with it. With a bit of balancing I'd play this again.

Arco is a quirky-looking tactical RPG that seems to have similar movement mechanics to things like Divinity, but it didn't have Steam Deck controller bindings and I couldn't figure out how to do anything so I bailed. Shame as I like Panic and the art style and tactical RPGs (even though I'm terrible at them).

Helskate is a skateboarding game where you play as some sort of demon doing skating and ugh that just doesn't work for me. Plus the controls are super jerky and twitchy and I need smoooooth for games like this. Hope the devs play Rollerdrome because that's the kind of controls I need from a game like this.

Link ⭐️ Nokia 3310


🔗 legendary3310.tilda.ws

This stoked my nostalgia pretty hard. I worked in a phone shop right out of 6th form. I was terrible at it; not a closer, you see. But I have always loved gadgets, and have wanted to have something pretty much exactly like the iPhone since I was 9 years old.

As much as I love the iPhone (I know it's sad but I won't apologise), I do miss when phones were weird. I had so many cool ones:

  • Nokia 3210
  • Nokia 6600
  • Nokia 6800
  • Sony Ericsson P900
  • Nokia 6310i

I had to get so many contracts to try all the phones I wanted. By the time I stopped selling phones, my credit rating was in absolute tatters.

Link ⭐️ Casey Neistat Reviews the Apple Vision Pro


🔗 youtu.be

Casey Neistat has this weird way to make anything a story. I have never been more inspired to make videos than when we were regularly watching his videos a few years back. I got burned out on him for whatever reason, but I love occasionally watching what he's doing now.

He has a particularly unique way of reviewing technology that I've always admired. So many reviewers focus on what tech does, and how that's an improvement, but Casey shows you what you can do with things by just doing it himself. When I saw this video in my list, I knew I was going to watch a video of Casey walking around New York wearing this thing and using it in ways that it's probably not currently intended (it's honestly worth it, if only to watch him trying to land a butterfly on a donut).

This is honestly the perfect complement to all the spec-heavy reviews like Marques' and Nilay's. Just a video of a master storyteller (I don't think that's an exaggeration) using a new tool to do what he does.

Link ⭐️ Retro Bird


🔗 youtube.com

I feel like I would still love this guy even if I wasn't that interested in games. His presentation style makes me laugh so much, and his videos all look like they were super fun to make.

Music ⭐️ Riversleem - A Second Release by Riversleem

Some abrasive vocals for your Friday afternoon. I love this sort of thing.

Music ⭐️ Aesop Rock - Integrated Tech Solutions


🔗 aesoprock.bandcamp.com

Aesop Rock is usually as reliable as he is eloquent, but I haven't been as into his releases since The Impossible Kid.

I've been enjoying ITS a lot - it's a solid combination of beats, word-play and entertaining stories, which is what I want from an Aesop Rock record.

Game 🤩 Dead Cells


🔗 dead-cells.com

I was talking to someone about gaming and it occurred to me that I didn't post a game yet. Might as well start with one of my modern favourites.

I feel like Dead Cells set the template for the modern roguelite in terms of progression and the difficulty curve. There's essentially three parts of this game: the baby area, before you've maxxed out enough of the stats that you're actually going to use; the mid-game which is just training you to complete the "final" boss; then the post-game which is for people who have a far better attention span than I do.

I'm happy, as with most things in gaming (and maybe life?), to be good enough at Dead Cells to enjoy it. I can reliably get to the last area, and kill the Hand a lot of the time, but anything more than that just starts to feel like I'm playing the game just to play it, rather than because I'm enjoying it. I'm glad that stuff exists for the people who want it, but I can live with what I see as the core gameplay loop.

This does have a bit of a steep learning curve but it never feels cheap or unfair, which I think is super important in the early game, so that you can actually get established and not just feel like you're getting beaten up constantly like I do in things like Souls games.

Music 🤩 Future Islands - People Who Aren't There Anymore

This is a perfect example of why you should revisit music that you didn't enjoy first time. Dan recommended Future Islands to me ages ago and, for some reason, they live with Cursive in the Things That Are Associated department of my brain. Probably because Dan likes Cursive as well but I'm sure they were on the same label at some point or something.

I digress.

Future Islands make such an infectious brand of sad pop music for men my age, with my life experiences. They're like Bleachers or The Smiths, but for me. I like Bleachers and The Smiths, but I've never really identified with them in the way that I now do with Future Islands. Not bad for something that I really did not like five years ago. And, amusingly, Dan doesn't really like them any more either.

FFO: sad introspection, synths, dad caps and weird dancing

TV ⭐️ Reacher


Super American, and a mercifully short first season. Stuff like this has a tendency to get dragged out and serialised and I'm glad this doesn't suffer from that (lookin' at you; Mentalist, Numb3rs et al). Decent story with some good twists and turns. Nothing too thinky going on.

TV 🤩 Mad Men


There's going to be a couple of obvious and not-recent TV shows here (definitely didn't just write this to get the ball rolling in this category!) but whenever I think about my favourite TV shows, this is always so high on the list.

If you haven't already seen it, I suppose it's pretty unlikely that I'm going to convince you here, but it's the perfect period drama. The characters, costumes, and story are all absolutely wonderful.

The first time I started watching it, something about it made me uncomfortable and tense and I didn't get further than the first few episodes, but I watched it again on my turbo trainer and turned my unease into a calorie burn and ended up absolutely loving this show.

Link 🤩 Sandwiches of History


🔗 youtube.com

I love this sort of thing. This guy makes a different sandwich every day from (mostly) old cookery books. His videos are a couple of minutes long and he has multiple catchphrases. Top-tier routine-fodder. We watch his videos most days.

Music ⭐️ Johnny Booth on Audiotree


🔗 youtu.be

Love Audiotree and love Johnny Booth. Hope the latter makes it over to the UK some day.

Book 🤩 Cixin Liu - The Three Body Problem


Super intriguing story throughout, and I'll immediately move onto the next one.

The only criticism I have is that the prose feels very clinical and cold, and I can't tell if it's the translation, the author, or just how books are written in China.

Film ⭐️ Killers of the Flower Moon


A very, very long and slow burn. So detailed and beautiful and sad and evil. We had to watch it over two nights because I can't do a film like this in a single sitting, but that's just because I was sleepy and not because of any problem with the film itself. It is long but on immediate reflection I don't think you could edit it down in any significant way.

Film ⭐️ Saltburn


I enjoyed this a lot, but let's not pretend that it's anything more than Parasite for a western audience that doesn't want to read subtitles.

Film ⭐️ Dumb and Dumber


Consider this a freebie from your boy. If you want to enjoy this film again as an adult, watch it with a ten-year-old who's never seen it. I may live to regret showing this to her, but whilst we were watching she was so happy. Imagine being ten and learning that they made films that match your stupid annoying sense of humour. That's real happiness right there.

Film 😒 GoldenEye


I don't think I like James Bond

Book 🤩 Adrian Tchaikovsky - Children of Memory


The perfect end that I wish wasn't.

Film ⭐️ Nope


I like it, but it drags on a bit in the last act.

Film ⭐️ Between Two Ferns: The Movie


I love this.