I thought I’d take a page out of Joe Abercrombie’s book and start giving y’all a round-up of the entertainment I’ve been enjoying over the summer. (Joe Abercrombie is a grim dark fantasy author I enjoy.) Joe Abercrombie does this once a year, but even if I only watch one movie in a year I would never remember what it was come December, so I’m opting for at least seasonally if not monthly.
The enjoyment of art is integral to the making of art, and I’m a firm believer in the adage that what comes out is only as good as what goes in, so I always find it interesting to hear what inspires others.
Live Music: I first thought about doing this back in February, and I was going to tell you all about the live music I’ve seen lately, but, well, there hasn’t been any live music so we’ll scratch that for now.
Recorded Music: I’m really digging the No Frills album. I saw it advertised on TV. It seemed like a joke for the grocery store ad, but at the end it flashed that it was no joke, there really is a No Frills album. I have listened to it, and it is great.
Games: Non-stop Yakuza. I plan to write a lot more about the Yakuza franchise later on since it’s inspired me so much, but this roundup would make no sense if I didn’t mention that every evening since the start of the pandemic I have played Yakuza. Yakuza 0 was on sale sometime in the beginning of March and my husband, with a friend’s encouragement bought it. I watched him play through the whole thing and decided I wanted to play too. The lockdown happened and instead of leaving to go on tour, I spent my evenings playing Y0. We have since bought pretty much all the games. The ROI in terms of mental health has been immeasurable. I just finished Yakuza: Dead Souls, which is sort of a bonus spin-off game in which you fight zombies. It had some clunky game play, but I still thought it was a lot of fun to play. Tomorrow I shall start Yakuza 6.
Books: One would think that I’d been reading loads of books, but I really haven’t. Because of my Yakuza obsession, and the fact that I love books written by journalists, I stumbled across Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein. He’s a journalist that spent several years covering crime in the Tokyo Red Light district that features prominently in the games. It was a fascinating read that I would have enjoyed anyway, but the parallels to the games were astonishing. I came across him because I wondered what real Yakuza thought of the Yakuza games and upon googling found an article he’d written where he went and found out.
I’m now three books into the Yrsa Sigurdsdottir crime fiction series and I’m enjoying them immensely. I read them while in quarantine in a house in the woods, which was the perfect setting. I get a real charge out of reading murder mysteries set in Iceland mostly because the actual murder rate in Iceland hovers around 0.
Movies: I took 3 plane rides this summer as I arranged moving back to Newfoundland. Two of them had in-flight entertainment systems which is where I see a good portion the movies I’ve seen. Normally I watch movies starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson on the plane, but this time round I’d already seen all his films on offer and I ended up seeing two really excellent non-Rock films instead. One Canadian the other Japanese. (You can see where this is going, can’t you.) Both were the kind of movie that leaves you feeling really good after watching.
On the first flight to Newfoundland there was an independent Canadian film Riot Girls, whose premise is that all the adults had been wiped out by a pandemic. Turned out, the pandemic was just back story and didn’t really feature in the film, but it was great and I’m glad we chose it. It only has a 4.4 rating on IMDB which I really don’t understand. Maybe because I was a teenager in 1995 when the film is set, but I could really identify with the main characters, and apart from it taking place during an apocalypse, it really reminded me of my high school experience. It did a fabulous job of mixing the comedy and drama, and it was very entertaining.
On the flight to Montreal we found Ninkyo Gakuen It’s a Japanese film about some Yakuza who take over the running of a high school and mayhem ensues. If it wasn’t directly inspired by the Yakuza games I will be totally amazed, because there were a lot of similarities. Not story wise, but character wise, and the types of things the characters did. It was really well done, funny, and uplifting.
On my 40th birthday in June, we watched Like a Dragon, which is a movie based on the first Yakuza game. I enjoyed it because I like the games. I made my brother who knows nothing of the games watch it so I could find out how it comes across to someone not in the know. I am going to reprint his assessment of it here:
“Like a Dragon was very enjoyable. I would watch it again. I knew who I was supposed to cheer for at all times. Unfortunately, I had no idea why. The movie provided zero background or context. The final 10 minutes made no sense at all.” – Adam Tilley
It has a much higher rating than Riot Girls which is inexplicable, but I too would watch it again.
Television: I’ve been watching a fair amount of Home and Garden Television while I stay in my temporary lodgings and look for a house. The best show is Home Town. There are a lot of shows in which 2 people (often couples) redo people’s homes. Ben and Erin Napier, the couple on Home Town are really lovely, and I could see myself having them over for dinner. I wouldn’t invite any of the other shows hosts over for dinner, but I would go drinking with Hilary and David from Love it or List it, and I could see myself working with either of them. Love it or List it is the second best show on HGTV.
These shows have taught us that what we are looking for in a house is not what people on TV look for in a house. The three most confusing things to us are:
- The love of kitchen islands. (Why would you want that big old thing in the middle of your kitchen?)
- The installation of barn doors in your house. (Were you raised in a barn?)
- The emphasis on curb appeal. (Why on earth would you want your house to be visible from the street?)
I just don’t understand. Anyway, I’m totally going to write a song about Home and Garden Television.
I also watched the Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls 10 part documentary The Last Dance and it was excellent. And inspiring. I love learning about people who are masters of their craft. I don’t care what the craft is, as long as there is mastery.
Sports: We had an unseasonal NHL playoffs. We’ve long had a dream about going to a cabin in BC with satellite tv and watching 100% of the playoffs in the evenings while we work on a project during the days. We almost sort of had that this year, except we were sequestered in Newfoundland, so a lot of the games didn’t start till quite late. In the end, we watched less of the playoffs than we normally do, and I couldn’t even stay up late enough to watch the cup presentation.
Art: In Montreal I had a yearly pass to the Musée des Beaux Arts and I used it. I thought I’d tell you about all the exhibits I’d seen. Oh well.