Gadi Sassoon - Chaos & Order
Gandi Sassoon made my favourite album of 2020: Multiverse and he is back this year with another one: Chaos & Order. It is more “generic” in that the sound scapes aren’t quite as epic as they were in Multiverse, but it still is an album that I keep going back to, late at night to lose myself in.
Rammstein - Zeit
Ramstein has been on my “listen to” list for almost 30 years now and their latest album “Zeit” is another solid entry. For many, the visuals and aesthetics of the the band often overshadow the actual music. Especially if you are not a German speaker.
But like their previous entry, “Zeit” is solid, surprisingly complex and definitely worth more than one listen.
Masayoshi Takanaka - Can I sing?
Released in 1983 I came across it earlier this year and found myself intrigued. Japanese Jazz is its own thing and I think “Can I sing?” Probably is a good entry into the genre if you’re not aware of it yet.
Heilung - Drif
Heilung is... different. It is, in more than one way, an art project. The idea to raise human culture from thousands of years ago. It is very far from Classical music or a lot of modern stuff. Death Metal maybe comes close, but this is much more gut punching, “lizard brain” type of music. Drif being their third studio album, there is also a live album, is definitely more refined and melodic than the previous two entries, but still appeals to something very deep and ancestral in the listener.
Crooked God Machine by Autumn Christian
This is.... different. It’s dark, moody, weird and macabre and I absolutely loved it. It is a hard book to read, painful at times I would almost say, but also a very unique book.
I almost want Hollywood to try and turn this into a movie or TV Series.
Expeditionary Force #15 - Failure Mode by Craig Alanson
The end of a series. The “Expeditionary Force” series managed something few long running book series manage: To stay fun and relevant.
Having said that, the ending is somewhat abrupt and feels a bit rushed. I am not sure if Alanson ran out of ideas, out of time or out of word count, but the end feels rushed and not really... resolved?
It’s too bad really, because I truly did enjoy every book of the series and I wouldn’t have minded it continuing on. He did hint at another story in the universe, but seems to be done otherwise.
I am sad to see it go, and I am a bit mixed on how it ended, but the series as a whole I can recommend.
The Furies by John Connolly
Another series I have been reading for a long time. Mystery meets detective story. The last few instalments “tried something new” and I would say it overall worked.
It seems to have lost its way a bit, tried new things and explored other aspects of the world, but the writing, world building and characters is still solid.
How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley
Looking at US politics, or what is going on in the West in general, this is a timely book. We all have “ideas” on how things work, but often they are not necessarily based in reality or try to use the past as a fool proof guide for the future.
This book breaks it down though to the basic parts and if you are concerned about where we’re going, this is definitely a must read.
Sandy Hook by Elizabeth Williamson
With Alex Jones getting his comeuppance this year, it is timely that this book got released last year. It is an, at times, heart breaking account of what happens at the school back in 2012 and if you don’t quite understand why Jones is getting pummelled by the courts and juries, this is the book you should read.
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach
I have been a fan of Mary Roach’s books for years. She has done an excellent job of making you interested in things that you didn’t know where interesting.
With Fuzz she explores the animal Kingdom and our at times fraught relationship with it.
Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation
In short: Tucker Carlson in Book form.
Which as a theme would be fine I guess. But it is also incredibly inconsistent and constantly contradicts itself.
This, essentially, is a look into the mind of a group of people that want to turn the US into a theocracy.
Everything, Everywhere, all at once
Okay, that was one of those movies where I just had a “wow” moment. It’s well written, well acted and fun and funny. Quite frankly as far as Hollywood is concerned my question is really mostly: How did that happen? You suck a lot lately, so.... How? Also: can we please get more stuff like this?
Back to the ‘60s. I picked it on a hunch as the trailer looked fun and it sure is. It’s a wonderful, often sarcastic and self-deprecating time capsules of the Canada that once was. For all the negativity around where we are going, this is a good reminder of where we were and how we looked at stuff.
I think we can all use more “Helicopter Canada” in our life.
Not what I expected, but surprisingly entertaining, even if I find the Monster, and now it ends, in the end a bit lame. The twist is “fun” if not mind blowing and at the end of the day it is a solid movie, with excellent movie making, nice misdirection(s) and a bit of a letdown ending.
Also not what I expected. Wonderful cinematography and decent script. It was refreshing, if for no other reason than that it didn’t hit you over the head with explanation as to what you should take away from it.
The French Dispatch
I love Wes Anderson. He creates this “tickle” in the stomach with his movies, the style, and mood always connect with me. The French Dispatch def. Falls into that category. Is it his best movie? No. But it is a solid entry in his work and if you like other Anderson movies, you will enjoy The French Dispatch as well.
If you never liked his work, stay away though. It is an Anderson movie after all.
Ghostbusters - Afterlife
The third Ghostbusters movie we all waited for and finally got. Does it have a lot of fan service? Absolutely. But it does not only rely on it and it is actually funny in the right amount.
Too bad it took so long for us to get it.
Love and Monsters
A few years old now. A basic story, told with heart and an imaginative world. I enjoyed that way more than I probably should have.
If you are looking for something to brighten up the winter, this one will scratch the itch.
I liked the first “Knives Out” movie probably more than I should have. So “Glass Onion” is an interesting follow up and way funnier than I thought it would be. Daniel Craig and Edward Norton both deliver a solid performance and although not mind blowing, the twists and turns are enjoyable.
Bit of a sleeper hit. I love the whole thing, from the art direction to the characters and the underlying story. This is one of those shows I am really looking forward to season 2.
WE fascinated me, mostly because a few years ago I noticed the massive increase in buildings here in town that carried WE Work branding. Vancouver is “tech” but not to the degree that I could see it needing that many offices in the way WE was offering it. Especially considering that they aren’t the only company operating here.
Turns out my hunch back then wasn’t wrong and I read books and listened to a podcast on the rise and fall of WE and Apple TV’s version of it is entertaining an exciting.
I can’t wait for the Musk Twitter version of this.
Ah, Anime. 2022 was the year I got back into it and found myself greatly enjoying a few shows.
Great Pretender is the story of a bunch of con artists and their cons. Lots of twists and turns and likeable characters. It is also long enough to not overstay its welcome.
Surprisingly Gritty. What does it take to keep a small family restaurant running in Chicago? “The Bear” answers that question, and more. It’s def. A different take on the Windy City, considering how we have a lot of other drama set there over the last few years.
I am curious to see where Season 2 goes. FX continues to create some interesting IP.
Another Anime that came out of the left field. It’s weird, didn’t really finish the story (roughly halfway through the Manga) but very addictive. If you like “weird” , this is def. The one for you.
I am “done” with most things Star Wars these days, Disney seemed to be more interested in milking the IP than actually telling good stories. So it was with a bit of a surprise that I heard good things about Andor and: Totally justified.
This isn’t the greatest TV Show ever, but it is a very solid Star Wars show, in the “good old ways”. Wonderful design, characters that are actually decently written. It is definitely the one Star Wars show you should watch.
This came as a bit of a surprise. I have not been too keen on what Tim Burton has been doing the last 20 years or so. Ever since Alice in Wonderland he seems to be obsessed with CGI and forget everything else.
Wednesday turns out to be more of a ‘90s Tim Burton though, it is actually fun and well enough written that I didn’t feel insulted.
Something fun for the end of the year. A very abridged history of the British SAS (Special Air Service) one of the first “Special Forces” as they are now exist in pretty much any military.
It is based on a book about the SAS’s founding, but it is geared more towards entertainment than historical accuracy. Jolly good though.
Alice in Borderland - Season 2
I absolutely loved the first season and was hooked on the second, and final, season as well. The themes from last year continue, in that it has well written characters whose motivation etc. you can actually understand and who aren’t just “paint by numbers” characters as is often the case.
The final episode was a bit of a brain twister with an interesting twist at the end and a somewhat Hollywood like ending, though I think it was well done and they def. Stick the landing.
More of stuff like this please.
There is a very long draft of a review of that show on my HDD. I never bothered finishing editing it because, quite frankly, I wasted way too much time on the show already.
The show answers the question that nobody has ever asked: What if Masterchief was a real boy?
If you never played the games or know nothing about Halo but like the trailer, you may enjoy the show. Otherwise…. Your mileage may vary.
Warhammer 40K: Darktide
Just released back in November, this is a four player co-op game where you try to take on massive hordes in the service of the Emperor of Mankind. I have sunk a lot of time into the game so far because it is easy to jump in, hack, slash and shoot your way through the level and then feel more relaxed.
Is it a complex game with a gripping narrative? Nope. But it also doesn’t prevent it is.
Also: The Soundtrack by Jasper Kyd is awesome.
High on Life
One of the big breakout hits this year. If you like Rick & Morty or Solar Opposites and weird shooters then this is the game for you.
A straight play through will take you around 10 hours, but there is lots of stuff to explore and things to find that you can probably get another five to ten hours out of it.
It is a Gamepass title, so if you are a subscriber, it’s easily accessible.
The first game I really ended up playing on the Steam Deck and it is…. Chill. Well, maybe not all the time, but there is something fun about being a cat exploring a world inhabited by Robots. It is not a hard game, for example you cannot miss a jump, but it is fun exploring the world and learning the story.
Warhammer 40K: Spacemarine
This is a very old game, a decade old by now. It is a solid shooter. If you want to play a Spacemarine and itch for some Bolter action that is good title. It can tie you over until Spacemarine 2 comes out sometime in 2023.
Retro Style shooter. An spiritual successor to the original Doom. It can be hard and punishing at times, but it is surprisingly fun, with an excellent soundtrack too.
The game originally came out on the PC and PS5 back in late 2021 and was a timed exclusive from a time before Bethesda was owned by Microsoft. But now, a year later, it was finally the XBOX’s time and…. It is awesome.
I am a huge fan of Arkane Studios games and Deathloop does not disappoint.
There is not a whole lot of replay value in the main game itself though, a big part of it is trying to figure out how to break the loop in the first place. Having said that, there is a secondary play option that unlocks after you finish: You can play as Julia and invade other players games and try to stop them in their question.