Sunday Morning Stuff 04/08

Buongiorno. I don’t what it is with me and the Italian language, but I’ve always wanted to learn it, and I’ve tried several times. It would be far more practical to pursue one of the languages that I began at school – French or Spanish – but I just…don’t want to. What I’m saying is I’m doing a little bit of Italian again, just on Duolingo for now. The most serious I ever took it was at University where I used a free module to take a beginner’s course in it. I should have really pushed on with it from there, but instead I…

…I don’t really know what I did. There was drinking involved I think. Anyway, I don’t feel like I need to be an expert, but it’s always been a dream of mine to take a little car around Italy, eating and drinking my way around the country ala The Trip, just with less Al Pacino impressions. In that dream I’m not an ignorant Brit waving his hands and speaking English slowly and loudly, hoping that’ll get the message across. No, in this dream I can actually have a little chat and order an espresso properly. Which isn’t hugely ambitious I admit, but it should be attainable. Right? RIGHT?  

Anyway, there you go! An intro where I don’t talk about the weather. Now let’s talk about what else I’ve been doing with my week.

Reading

I’ve been taking my leisurely time with Monisha Rajesh’s Around the World In 80 Trains,which I discussed last week. As much as I love it, it’s a book which seems to beg you take your time. What’s the rush? You don’t take a train around the world to get anywhere fast.  

Playing

I’ve been struggling for inspiration a little bit this week when it comes to gaming, I’ve used Game Pass to try out Vampyr and Moonlighter, and not connected with either. In my desperation I headed back in time and tried out Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – a game which I have played the opening of so, so many times, but have never actually finished.

Perhaps Bigly Beefside will be the first character to get me there.

Listening to

All kinds of exciting new tunes dropped this week. BROCKHAMPTON, Foals, and Haim graced us with new singles. I Been Born Again is a moody banger with a free form structure which relies on the chemistry between the groups players who show up on the cut. I particularly appreciate the freaky synth lick which vibrates onto the beat like a GBA era Pokémon call.

Foals’ Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 will be out October 18, and to whet our appetites they’ve released Black Bull, which see’s them in ferocious, heavy form. Is this a sign of things to come on Part 2? Probably. The band have said the second leg of their album will be a sonic departure from the first, if that means more hefty guitar riffs, I’m all for it.

And then Haim’s Summer Girl¸ probably my favourite of the bunch. This time it’s less Fleetwood Mac, more lying on the couch feeling like you’re a bit too hot, maybe slipping in and out of consciousness through the heat of the day. It’s super chill, with a tasty saxophone refrain in the chorus to back-up the simple, catchy hook.   

Watching…

Bone Tomahawk is a great movie that I will probably never watch again. It is an excellent slow burn western which grabs you by the throat and doesn’t relinquish until an explosive act of visceral, mentally scarring violence bursts onto the scene and splits your life in two – the blissful time you had before you saw it, and everything after.

With that in mind I decided to catch up on S. Craig Zahler’s follow up – Brawl in Cell Block 99. It is once again an extremely slow burn, and the titular brawling doesn’t even begin until beyond the hour mark, but it is very effective. It sets everything in place and then in a brutal, blistering, bone breaking finale it knocks everything down with appropriate force. Vince Vaughn plays the anti-hero brilliantly, heading back to a life of crime to support his family, then paying the price for his principles when he is arrested and sent to jail. To protect his family he is forced to facilitate a move from his relatively comfortably medium security lock up to a grim high security centre to get close to, and kill, a con in Cell Block 99. The only way to do that is to prove how dangerous he is, and Vaughn is extremely dangerous. Up until that point he keeps his massive fists restrained, tacking out his anger on inanimate objects – in one early scene he dismantles a car with his bare hands – but facing his ultimate nightmare he unleashes himself in full, unbridled force. It is quite brilliant, although I felt some of the more attention-grabbing scenes of violence in the final third almost passed over into the realm of goofiness, but still…not something you’ll easily forget.

Running

My month of running every day has come to an end, and it’s probably good that it has. I ran a new Parkrun this week – Manor Field, Whittlesey – and actually felt a niggly but sharp, and quite uncomfortable pain in my hamstring as I moved into the warm down. The Parkrun itself was something different, taking place entirely on grass and I didn’t, and probably couldn’t, run it at my full potential. Still, it was a good training session with a couple miles ran beforehand and my first mile went by in target time, I just couldn’t keep the speed up. I can hear my body calling out for a proper rest. Usually I use Sunday’s for my long run, but I think I’ll be calling my streak to a close today.

Speaking of calling things to a close, that’ll do for this weeks Sunday Morning Stuff.

I’m off to speak a little Italian into my phone and, for the first time in weeks, not run.

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