Some of My Favourite Things I Enjoyed in 2023
In no particular order and not exhaustive, I’m rounding out the year with a look at some of my favourite things I enjoyed in 2023.
Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir
A heartfelt page-turning quest to save humanity from two of the universe’s most unlikely saviours. Extremely engaging, interesting, and sometimes a nail-biting read.
When We Cease To Understand The World - Benjamin Labatut
I loved this strange book, merging history and fiction, detailing various world-changing discoveries and the people that made them. An interesting look into the fine line between madness and genius.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin
And unconventional book that follows characters across their lifetime as they make games. An engaging read that feels like the games it is about. Playful, and also an ode to the ups and downs of creative industries. The longer I’ve been away from the book, the more I think back on it with warmth and joy of having spent time with these characters and their journeys.
The important part, as the book emphasises, is that you still create for a reason, even if that reason is only for yourself. Our only hope is that we get to create without comprising who it is for. Some days that won’t align, and that’s also okay: another learning experience.
One Piece Live Action
I’ve always heard about One Piece, but never understood why it’s so popular. So I dabbled with the Live Action on Netflix and immediately understood why it resonates with millions: an unapologetic story about friendship and following your dreams at all costs. Fun, wacky, and sincere. Also, my cousin is one of the fish men in this. 😅👏
I think, ultimately, it’s what we want in life. We’re all somewhere on this spectrum, some preferring more than the other, but ultimately: a life of depth, means a life of connection. It’s growing older with people you love, saying hi to your local barista; asking for the regular, and recognising the names of the dogs in your local park. A life of breadth means play, discovery, and indulgence. It’s meeting new people, trying new food, seeing more of the world, and dancing.
A boat story is both.
Everyone's favourite family we love to hate. Just a stellar mix of amazing writing, amazing directing, and amazing acting. It always felt so real. Extremely watchable and the final season ended as it should.
Also: Nicholas Britell is a genius for this theme song (ps, he also did Andor’s music btw).
In a world where certain space tropes have become stale, Scavengers Reign challenged the viewer of what alien life can be. Always surprising. You never knew just what the world of Vesta would throw at the stranded characters. The blurring of biology, technology, and sometimes body horror left me feeling uncomfortable and full of wonder at the same time. My favourite character was Levi, the robot slowly coming to grow consciousness through the planet merging with it.
It really reminded me of Raised By Wolves. I love sci-fi that explores our own biology through a novel alien environment. In a strange twist, it made me more attuned to the nature we have here on our planet: the strange, the mundane, and the wonderful. We just have to tune in and pay attention to see the wonder that exists.
Guardians of The Galaxy 3
In an era of a mid MCU that’s not sure where it’s going, Guardians 3 was a standout film. Sincere, devastating, and full of warm found family. I cried. I hollered at the screen. I left with a warm sense of joy of having spent 3 films with this wacky cast of guardians.
A touching story of who we are to different people across time and place. Melancholic and full of nostalgia and what ifs that still strives to tell a *real* story. It was just really refreshing to have mature characters deal with a difficult situation. To hold emotional space for each other in a world where we are experiencing new things for the first time. To not be afraid. A warm feeling to it all.
As one grows older, there’s a unique form of grief: realising that some lives you could’ve lead aren’t possible anymore. Cities you might have lived in, careers you might have considered, friends you wished you made, people you wished had seen, health restricting you, and media you hoped to enjoy.
The Boys of Summer
In that same post, I talk about an art piece by Mitchell F. Chan called “The Boys of Summer”. A unique encapsulation of how life can get consumed by numbers and metrics until we suddenly die. From a dream of a boy in the long summers of youth playing baseball to potentially ending up as an investment banker losing grip of time. Merging it onto a blockchain, a time-keeping and record-keeping technology rounds out the intentions of the artwork. Loved it.
In The Boys of Summer, despite the fact it this spreadsheet life being inevitable, you can restart as much as you want. Over time, the game reveals more hidden metrics and together with other players sharing their information, there’s a new shared goal towards finishing it in the way one wants to. Despite this, music remains playful. Behind all of this is still us, wanting to be eternal boys of summer, to play. We just need to remind ourselves of that.
Operator’s Human Unreadable
I love dancing and generative art. Operator uniquely combined this into an art project that blends the playful act of dancing into generative art.
At first, the art hides the choreography within it and recently they allowed each collector to uncover the dance inside it. Madly in love with how it merged all these ideas together. Dance!
One of the reasons I got involved in blockchain technology (gosh, more than 10 years ago now) was the promise of using it to create new kinds of artistic economies that spanned the globe. BasePaint is one of my favourites, each day allowing people to create a pixel canvas together and then sharing the revenue from collectors minting it. Simple, lovely, and a cozy use for this technology. Plus, run by two really cool and inspiring people.
In its first year, it could collectively earn many artists who contributed pixels a collective $1,000,000. Love it.
Casino Versus Japan
Undeniably my soundtrack of the year. My love for Casino Versus Japan isn't new, but this year, I arrived back at his music having changed. I fell in love with his wider discography hearing things I did not when I was younger. That’s one of the nicer things about growing older: realising that you can arrive back somewhere to things you dismissed and discover newfound appreciation for it. Just got to stay open-minded and curious. The old can also become new again.
These are masterpieces of ambient mood.
Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
I'm a few decades late to this song, but one day when we were in the West End in London, my wife played this track and I was hooked ever since.
M83 - Oceans Niagara
I ran a lot to this song. Just amazing synth ambient vibes. When it kicks off with “WE ARE ADVENTURE” it just drops you into another world. Combined with a runner’s high in nature and it’s pretty fantastical.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
I put 100 hours into this game this year, blending what I love so dearly about gaming. Playfulness, exploration, and adventure. Just pure joy and wonder. It has the best ending of a game I’ve ever played. Powerful and poignant. I’ve always felt that the stories in Zelda games were mostly just justifications for the rest of the game to exist, but for the first time, I felt that the story was a key driver for the enjoyment of the game.
What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Perhaps I need time to digest it. It truly feels remarkable. Pure joy and exploration in a world that feels so alive, substantially more-so than its predecessor. I’m still processing the ending. What an amazing ending to a game. If you’ve played it through to the end, let me know, would love to hear what you enjoyed and didn’t!
I played Minecraft back in 2011. Came back to it this year as a way to hang out with my twin that's living on another continent. It remains a stellar mix of survival horror, cozy building vibes, and exploratory joy. It's a constant adventure and returning to it every week to build a random mega project, trying not to trip sculk shriekers in the deep dark, and talking shit with my brother is awesome. After a decade, while there's a lot more to do, its core kernel of survival and creative exploration remains as strong as ever.
Night-time view of our home base. :)
I started this newsletter in part to get off Twitter. In 2023, I found new homes in Discord Communities and Farcaster.
Running & Fitness
I took more care of my health this year. Drinking less, eating better, and ran 1,000km in total. Running has been a big part of this. In fits and starts getting to eventually being able run long distances without pain/injury. It’s constant learning process with your body. It’s the best I’ve felt about my body, ever and just have higher energy in general. It’s good.
Me, running a 15km race earlier this year at a pace 5:26 km/min. Aiming to finally run a half marathon under 2hrs next year and on pace for it! Excited!
Getting Married. 4 Times.
My favourite personal memory of 2023. Getting married. Being from two different continents, we basically had 4 ceremonies. Smaller events with friends and family in South Africa and California. A legal ceremony, and then the final big one all together in England.
Here’s to 2024 and all the awesomeness it might bring. Hope you enjoy the final sunsets! I’ll be writing a newsletter for the 31st of December, but aiming to do a retro of the newsletter’s first year, so it will be more relaxed.
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