Sunday Morning Stuff 13/10

Chances are if you’re reading this I’m running the Great Eastern Run, so you best be giving me your best wishes or else there’ll be trouble.

Whilst I’m out dying, how about you take a look at all the stuff that’s been keeping my sanity in check this week, or should I say the last two weeks – as I was in Berlin last week absolutely dousing myself in beer and sausage.

Perfect half marathon preparation.

Let’s begin, as always, with what I have been…

READING…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Classically Lacking on the site, and I’ve made the decision to come back with a bang during spooky season this year. Horror is a blind spot of mine in the literary and cinematic worlds, so it makes a lot of sense to try and fill in those blanks. I’ve already talked a little about The Shining, so expect to hear more from me on that subject at the end of the month, but I’m now getting to grips with an even more classic classic to accompany it during my seasonal Spooktacular, so watch this space.

PLAYING…

I did think I’d be playing Dragon Quest XI by now, but I really got the urge to play Dragon Age instead. I’ve played Inquisition, but for some reason have never played Origins or 2, despite my love for other Bioware games.

My experience with Origins so far is about what I’d expect from an RPG of its maturity – a lot of depth, complexity, and a slightly wonky combat system on console. I expect it is a much smoother ride on PC. A few times now I’ve failed to resist the temptation to crank the difficulty all the way down to casual, but on casual there is literally no decision making to be done, you just win. Jump up to normal again and it is difficult to know just how challenging each fight will be as there is a lack of consistency between the types of enemies. I’m sure with greater knowledge of the game comes a greater understanding of how best to tackle each enemy type, but for a newcomer it can be a little bit frustrating – but then that’s just RPG’s, isn’t?

Even The Witcher 3 and Mass Effect took some time to grow on me, and they didn’t come close to topping my list of favourite games until I had completed multiple playthroughs. Thankfully Origins has strength in lore and story, making those multiple playthroughs a genuine possibility and ensuring I will continue to slog through any less pleasing moments of gameplay.

LISTENING TO

George Clanton has been on my radar for a while, his 2018 album slide takes vapourwave and fuses it with triphop, acid house, shoe gaze, and even just straight and simple pop banger sensibility…and now he’s back with Nick Hexum (311, the Nick Hexum Quartet) and they’ve put together one of my favourite tracks of the year. Crash Pad is an groovy jam with the ethereal chillout vibes of 90’s worldbeat group Enigma, paired with a toe-tapping triphop backbone. It’s nostalgic, but not stale, and easily one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year. A must listen for any 90’s heads out there, and even if you’re not I recommend giving it a go.

More music from the pair is apparently on the way, and I’m ready and waiting.

Then, if you need to get into the Halloween vibe, may I recommend the new Kim Petras record, which is a bloody blend of synthwave and power pop. There Will Be Blood is punch-the-air fantastic.

WATCHING

I’ve been meaning to get into Peaky Blinders for a while now, and I’ve finally got Season One in the bag. I’m sure everyone is dying to hear my review of the first season now that the fifth is out, so here we go.

It’s pretty good.

For the most part.

Tommy Shelby is a genuinely fascinating character, and his inscrutability makes for good watching. Who knows when his soft side will show, or his hardest facets will come out? Will he offer a warm embrace, or a bullet to the head? It is also gorgeously shot, with the lighting giving the dour Birmingham streets a mythical quality. The camera often comes in close, faces illuminated in the striking streetlight, telling all you need to know about the individual in frame without them uttering a word.

Plus, the Peaky Blinders and their enemies are all dressed in such a glorious way that you almost wish you lived in that decrepit time, despite all the murders and…what not.

It does creep into corny territory at times, for instance in the last episode – all appears to be well, the war seemingly nearly won. Tommy Shelby is dumb in love, and so the lighting turns soft and white like it’s the end of Return of the King, and the characters start presenting dumb smiles like guffawing jackasses, and a slightly distracting rock tune blares out over the soundtrack. We get it. Things seem really good. Obviously things don’t remain good, but I doubt anyone was fooled.

This was just one of several moments when the show was trying extremely hard to be cool – and it doesn’t need to be! With Sam Neil and Cillian Murphy topping the bill, the former moustachioed like a boss, and the latter dressed to the nines at all times, the show could be effortless in its coolness. Yet, the sometimes-abrasive soundtrack and a few indulgent scenes, which are almost adolescent in their unsubtle presentation of emotion, prevent it from being so.

Still, how many shows peak in Season One? I’m looking forward to seeing what awaits me later on.

Righty-o that’ll do us for that week, I won’t say what I’m off to do because I’m probably already off doing it, perhaps by now deeply regretting my decision to bother starting to do it at all. Bye!

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