Topping off 2016

There’s been so much negative feeling throughout the world in 2016. So much so that it has dulled over the good things from the year. 2017 has a mammoth task to rebalance things – unlikely? Tough to predict.

I hope your year has been relatively stress free and happy. Mine has seen a work redundancy in May(swapping work stress to stress of finding a job – although working stress is harder to manage), getting my first ever telescope in September followed by the launch of my YouTube channel in November. It feels far longer but for just over a month my attention has been laid fully at creating videos on YouTube. For someone who internalises most of my thought, it’s been a great experience to use my voice and gain some spoken word confidence.

For 2017 my idea is to record one new piece of content a week. During the last month I’ve had the benefit of lots of time to play with ideas and record videos. But they’ll come a time when I can only physically manage to record once or twice a week and I should prepare now for that time.

So what about my writing here? Well during 2016 I had wanted to have a weekly update posted. This didn’t entirely work out but it’s something to again aim for during the 2nd year.

And with that I wish a Happy New Year to you all and in closing here’s my ‘best of’ from 2016;

Best album/ep’

Three by Phantogram

Ever since I picked up Voices in 2014, Phantogram have had their claws in me. Their hybrid sound is unique and all three of their albums are distinct from each other. I’m kinda happy that I don’t know of anyone in my circle that like them. Is that selfish?

Best book/comic book’

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey 

Published in 2014, The Girl With All the Gifts is my pick of 2016 by default. I read no newly published books this year(something I will look at in 2017). Shame really but M.R. Carey’s book was excellent spin on the zombie theme. I missed the film adaptation this year but it will be watching it in January upon the disc release.

2016 was an average year of reading for myself. Blame could be laid that my focus became diluted from around May when I left work. That said, I had a slow reading period from the start of 2016 which I never pushed forward from.

For 2017 I’ll be mixing up my reading with fiction/non-fiction that’s unread in my sub 300 list. Am conscious that I’ve not reading anything but fiction so looking to redress that in the new year.

Best movie’

Arrival

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I was left with a very different opinion of Amy Adams after viewing Arrival. Honestly I hadn’t taken much of an interest in the movies I’d seen her in. Sure those were only a Superman movie and American Hustle (which I must view again). But I really did underrate her as an actress. This could possibly be her best movie to date and Arrival definitely deserves another viewing. Her other film of 2016, Nocturnal Animals, I missed at the cinema which could prove to be just as satisfying.

Best muiltiplayer in a game’

Battlefield 1

Hadn’t planned to pick up Battlefield 1. It was a gut feeling that the gameplay and setting would suit me far better than the modern-day setting FPS. The slower firing/reloading weapons from the WWI setting (and the excellent design work put into producing the nice SP experience and fantastic map design for the MP) won me over.

Best story in a game’

Firewatch

Some would class Campo Santo’s Firewatch a ‘walking simulator’ but it’s far more than that. Probably the best relayed storyline in a videogame that I’ve experienced. The two protagonists, Henry and Delilah, are so well-played out that it’s hard not to empathise with them as they find themselves in stranger and stranger situations. Total recommended for those looking for something unique in gaming.

Best TV’

Stranger Things

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What can I say?

I’m no stranger to Netflix but had no inkling of Stranger Things until it was recommended to me. Then finding out that both Winona Ryder and David Harbour were in the cast gave me the push to watch the first episode. I never looked back and for anyone who grew up as a teen in the ’80s this series will have a special resonance for you.

The casting of the show was spot-on and I can only hope that season two develops upon the ideas and stories introduced in the premier. Go watch it!

19 Years Online

Can scarcely believe that I’ve spent close to half my life connected to the internet. I signed up with prestel on-line back in November 1997. This was the time of dial-up where connecting to the Internet would cost you by the minute. So where playing Meridian 59 not only cost money every time I played it would also tie-up my parents phone line for hours on end. Never did I expect how my life would be so tied-into technology as it is now.

heathersThe beast

Two TV shows have given me pause to mull over life before and after the beast that is the Internet. Both are ingenious, life-affirming and have motivated me more than anything else this year. Am so happy that they have been around and weirdly enough they both reunite me with an actress and actor from a film I loved, pre-Internet, Heathers. So there’s kind of full circle, for both Christian Slater and Winona Ryder, with Mr. Robot and Stranger Things. The ’90s were periods where both these actors were everywhere. Since the turn of the new century, the pair seemed to have fallen out of favour(shame really as they are a talented pair). It’s nice to have them back and in TV shows that really connect with me. Christian shows that same unpredictable side to him as Mr. Robot as he did as J.D. in Heathers. Both these characters play to his strengths as an actor; emotive but hard to fathom. I actually find Winona’s Joyce, from Stranger Things, a little irritating and ever so slightly overplayed. If anything though, that’s down to the direction and it’s possible I’m finding it hard to adjust to her portrayal more – that and the crush I’ve had on her since Heathers makes the adjustment a little hard to accept!

Motivation

Current morning motivation routine this week has seen me up by 9am, breakfast while watching at least one episode of Mr. Robot followed by email catch-up and task priority for the day. It’s been doing wonders having a great bit of TV to watch first thing. I have only got a few episodes left, of season one, of Mr.Robot and need to find something to fill the gap. Any suggestions of TV shows that would work?

Why Word of Mouth and the Importance of Listening to Your Gut Beats Hype

This post is part of the #Blaugust event run by @belghast. Details can be found here – Blaugust 2016.

If I could avoid one influence in my life then it would have to be that emotional-warping and logic-destroying thing that is HYPE. Very much a modern currency, ‘hype’ will try to mask any doubters with over-reaching possibilities that ultimately burn them. It’s easy to assume that hype = truth when bludgeoned over the head with it enough times. Yet it’s very hard to avoid in these times of connectivity…

Don’t be a fool for love

The best times are the times where I’ve discovered something beautiful for myself. Where I’ve heard a great song, read a surprisingly life-affirming book or watched an inspiring piece of drama or documentary. Sure I may have had a tip from someone I also trust but that’s all it had been – a tip. No frills or fanatic meltdown just the simple words, ‘…think you’ll like it.’ are enough from those that I trust.

This isn’t foolproof mind, as recently I was led by the nose with regards to No Man’s Sky. Even now I hear how some are really enjoying the game but alas after giving it some of my time, it just wasn’t for me;

Beating hype

kyle-lambert-stranger-things-posterAs a very good example of beating the hype came just recently. I knew nothing of the Netflix TV show Stranger Things until I read a tweet by someone whose taste in most things I value.

There was no need to look further than that and so I loaded up Netflix and just sat back and watched the show. It was perfect, of-the-moment viewing which was surely helped by not having any expectations for the show. As rare as it now seems to be, this kind of word of mouth should never be undervalued.

Reliance on review scores from often folk I not even met(let alone talked to) is such muddy water. And when I say ‘muddy water’ it’s where media outlets and journalists need to have a relationship with the developers, publishers and producers to get content that will sell their own product to us.