I’m not really a cold weather kind of guy, but there is something about a crisp but clear, ice cold blue morning in the middle of January. It’s supposed to be a dreary, long month, but so far I’m actually enjoying it, thanks in no part to my continued routine of getting up nice and early and putting some miles into my legs.
My January philosophy has been simple: no booze. No meat. Lots of running. Lots of reading.
Start as you mean to go on they say, and I’ve definitely started.
Let’s look at the stuff which has been accompanying me on this so far so positive journey into the new year.
I’m still going through some of the best books of 2019 and I recently read/listened to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (full review here) before slicing my way through Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. The former was, although a little sad at times, a comfort blanket of a book. It was warm and rich, and left me cosy and happy. The latter was not like that. It is set in Petropavlovsk, in the lonely Russian peninsula of Kamchatka, and follows the interconnected lives of several different women (a new perspective per chapter, you know the deal) in the aftermath of the kidnapping of two little girls. It brings western perspective and cultural criticism to the edge of the world, to a land where those problems do not necessarily exist because the lives of the people who live there are too far removed. Or, perhaps, maybe not. What the hell do I know about Kamchatka?
More now, certainly, and the sense of cold dread which creeps over every chapter in this book following the kidnapping is unsettling and gripping. It’s a fantastic read, and another Best of recommendation which has landed well with me.
2020 has started as an exceptionally good reading year.
I’ve been interested in playing Hyper Light Drifter since it came out.
Which was in, let me check…
Right. Well. I got there eventually. Aesthetically it’s right up my alley. It’s creepy but colourful sci-fi which is just dripping in layers of nostalgic atmosphere. The score is chilling and chilled in equal measure. The colours pop and the pixel art is top tier drop dead gorgeous. It’s story telling is vague and any sense of propulsion is self-motivated, but once you get into the core mechanics the playing in itself is enough to motivate you, because the game is all kinds of fun. The combat is tough, but necessarily satisfying. Death might come frequently, but you won’t be sent too far back to respawn like you might in Hollow Knight or, of course, Dark Souls.
But, like all my favourite things, the reason I like this game so much is just the feeling it gives me. Playing it is an absolute mystery, an adventure, there are secrets everywhere. There are secrets within the secrets. Exactly what the hell is going on in the world at large is anyone’s guess. Between all it’s disparate elements, the score, the art, the combat, the exploration, the secrets, there is one binding factor.
And it is strong.
Khruangbin and Leon Bridges have another smooth, sensual banger out by the name of C-Side out, and we can look forward to hearing the full EP from their collaboration in February.
And then US Girls is back in March! To get us salivating she’s released a new single and video by the name of Overtime. After 2018’s excellent In a Poem Unlimited I’m excited to hear what she has in the pipeline.
I’ve really not been watching anything this past week, but I’ll use this section to talk about Yoga with Adriene and her 30 day Yoga journey – called Home – on YouTube, which is running through January. Usually she puts out weekly videos anyway, and I replay my favourites as I try and keep limber and strong for my running exploits, but I’m along for the ride through the long, blue, month of January and so far so good. Don’t worry about being late, the videos stay up. In fact, they’re still up from previous years, so start wherever you like! I’ve found yoga to be a hugely beneficial addition to my life, physically and mentally, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is open enough to try it.
And that’ll do it for the Stuff this week, I’m off to spend more money on running trainers – because, you know, once you get into this damn hobby isn’t actually as cheap as you might think.