Things I Liked - Winter 2022
THINGS I LIKED - WINTER 2022
What I Watched
In Praise of Shadows
This youtube channel features thoughtful, in-depth criticism and analysis of various media in the horror genre — from deep dives into franchises like Hellraiser, to an introduction to Zdzislaw Beksinski's surreal art, to a two-part history of the golden age of horror comics. I've unwittingly lost many evenings the past couple of weeks as these videos have inspired numerous side-quests down various spooky internet rabbit holes. In Praise of Shadows is a great jumping-off point for those who want to explore the cultural context of the horror genre in depth.
Abroad in Japan
With my travel options currently limited by another Covid-19 wave, I've been doing a lot of vicarious travel through youtube. My current obsession is Chris Broad's Abroad in Japan. My wife turned me on to this irreverent and fun series that features a British expat's experiences living in Japan - she is currently planning a trip there herself for 2023. As she has been making her way through the series - I've inevitably been sucked in too. One of my favorites of the series is this video in which Chris rates various Japanese convenience store foods.
Very few shows have left me as exhausted from laughter as much as this comical and fictionalized retelling of Catherine the Great's rule over Russia. Only What We Do in the Shadows and Stath Lets Flats have come close lately (Stath's Jamie Demetriou even appears here as Dr. Chekhov). Nicholas Hoult is somehow both repulsive and charming as Peter III and has quickly become my favorite television villain.
What I Read
The Hike is one of those rare books I started reading and didn't put down for a full day. It's likely the closest I've ever come to reading a book in a single sitting. I recommend this novel by Drew Magary cautiously because I feel like it is so polarizing that there will be no middle ground — you will either love or hate it. Out of fear of spoiling it, I will leave the book's description at this - a man goes for a walk and meets a crab. Past that, the rest is up to you to discover, though I will say that this book subverted every expectation I had and constantly surprised me.
I'm a big fan of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell, and I was expecting something thematically and stylistically similar when I started reading Piranesi. But her first novel in sixteen years turned that notion on its head. Piranesi is shorter, far more mysterious, and infinitely more introspective. Where Strange created an expansive world of magic and myth, Piranesi aims to compress just as much richness and experience into the worldview of a single character trapped in a series of seemingly endless but repetitive rooms.
What I Listened To
Too many underappreciate video game music. Some striking atmospheric and ambient tracks are composed for games that go far beyond the frenetic chiptune pieces that many people associate with the medium. Some even rival the best movie scores I can recall. Survival Spheres create music in this mode - and it feels like the soundtrack to a game that never existed. These are haunting but engrossing ambient tracks. Survival Spheres has quickly made its way into my top artists — as it has become my go-to music for journaling and writing.
I first discovered Dated when a video titled Halloween Lo-Fi Mix 1 showed up in my recommended feed on Youtube. I found myself listening to it repeatedly around Haloween — both because it fit the atmosphere of the season and because I found that I loved working and retouching to the down-tempo spooky vibes this mix was bringing. It took me a few days to realize that Dated had a Spotify page with many more moody Lo-Fi compilations (including a Junji Ito-inspired one). Halloween is long gone, but this Canadian producer's work has been a constant on my workday playlist since then.
Miscellaneous Things I Liked
Toroko Enigma Journal
I just finished filling one of these up and am about to start on my second Enigma - which has become my go-to diary of choice for personal journaling. Comprised of 384 pages of A5 68 gsm dot-grid Tomoe River Paper, this book packs a lot of luxurious, fountain pen-friendly pages into a well-built and relatively thin profile. I keep this in a leather cover from Galen Leather alongside a few smaller single-topic notebooks.
Opus 88 Jazz
You can't have a journal like the Enigma without a great pen to accompany it. I've a growing obsession with this Taiwanese brand of bulk-fill fountain pens. They hold a staggering amount of ink, have easily swappable nibs (I took a queue from The Gentleman Stationer and fitted mine with a broad Franklin-Christoph S.I.G. nib), are comfortable, and solidly built for travel and long writing sessions. There's also something pretty about watching all of the ink sloshing around freely in the pen's body. This pen may have supplanted the PenBBS 355 as my favorite everyday carry.
Pepin Press Letter Writing Sets
If you can't tell — I'm a sucker for lovely stationery. These quirky and bold sets have become a favorite of mine. Each includes paper, envelopes, and labels across various genres ranging from Bauhaus design to Art Nouveau to Gustav Klimt. I love keeping these handy for firing off short letters and thank you notes in a memorable fashion. They also have some great notecards and a ton of other great paper products to check out.