On this Lunar New Year’s Day, I’m very happy to share that we’ve welcomed in a new family member. Please say hello to Lupin III, or Lupin for short (which I pronounce the Japanese way as “rupan“).
Lupin was rescued in mid-December in nearby Hangzhou after being hit by a car and not being able to walk. As he was then blocking traffic, a nearby security guard who knew of someone who supports an animal rescue organization contacted him, and he was able to save Lupin by coming to get him and bringing him to a vet. He was there for about two weeks, and was eventually able to walk again (it was apparently a spine-related injury).
My wife was looking at a rescue animal site, and came across a photo of him, and decided to contact the person who was temporarily watching him (the person who rescued him). After discussing things for a week, we decided to give it a try for 2-3 weeks, and so the person drove him over to our place in Shanghai (on January 6), and he’s been with us since.
And we made the decision to permanently adopt him.
He appears to be a Golden Retriever — blonde like the English type (like I’ve had in the past), rather than the reddish/brown of the American type — and according to the vet he’s probably around 1 years old, although we think he’s younger, maybe more around 9-11 months, as he’s still on the small side, but that could be because he’s just on the smaller side, or that he’s a mix. The fact that a good part of his body is shaved due to treatment after the accident (he was very dirty as well) makes it hard to guess as well.
He’s incredibly loving, and seems to be very happy to be with us, and we love him very much as well. We of course don’t know what kind of life he had before the accident (the rescuer did post messages on various sites to try and see if he had an owner who had lost him, but never got any responses), but we’re happy to now welcome him in our family.
Oh, and yes, he’s named after one of my favorite anime characters, Lupin III, the grandson of Arsène Lupin.
This is the fourth year I’ve given myself a target of books to read (since giving a push to start reading more books in 2019), but unfortunately, I didn’t make it. Like last year, I had given myself a target of 20 (which I completed last year), but fell short at 16. I found myself going long periods, sometimes months, without making much progress this year. As the year was coming to a close, I was actually planning on trying to give a huge spurt during the last 1-2 weeks, but I ended up getting sick and wasn’t really in a state to read much. Oh well. I did also feel a bit bad because a few of the books I did get through were quite short, but looking at the stats on Goodreads, my total page count is in keeping with previous years (even similar to last year), so looks like I read a few bigger books that balanced out with the short ones.
Below is the list of those 16 books I did read, with links to my mini reviews on Goodreads. And yes, I’m again giving myself a target of 20 for this coming year, which I hope to surpass.
We’re still 2022 for a couple of days, and I’m glad I was able to finish my latest movie marathon, for 1992, before year’s end — and now joining all of these other year-based marathons I’ve done in recent years: 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991. As always, my list of movies to watch was quite a bit longer than what I ended up watching, but I usually stop when I feel like I’ve had my fill and that I watched the stuff that I wanted to watch the most (and sometimes there are movies that I watched not that long ago). So the final count for 1992 was nineteen films, which are listed below with links to my mini reviews on Letterboxd (and here’s the original Twitter thread, where I screwed up the numbering near the end). Next up, I’ll be looking to do marathons for 1983 and 1993 in 2023.
Oh how I love it so, taking time to think about all of the wonderful media I enjoyed over the past year, this time for the 12th consecutive year (following 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021). Yes, this is a highly subjective list of my favorite things I took in this year, and it’s not exhaustive, as it is only based on what I was able to consume throughout the year. The only strict rule is that it must have come out during 2022 (with a little wink to my annual movie marathons), which is why I don’t include board games or books, as I’m not as “of the year” for those. Each category is made up of a top five (in alphabetical order), followed by a few honorable mentions if warranted.
Here we go.
Favorite Games What surprised me while making this list is that although I played tons of games over the past year (many via Game Pass or picked up on the Nintendo eShop on sale), I didn’t actually play that many proper 2022 releases — and I also saw myself embarking on an Assassin’s Creed kick by replaying both Origins and Odyssey a second time. If I were to pick an absolute favorite game for the year, it would be Vampire Survivors — even though it’s not a type of game I usually gravitate towards, I found myself absolutely obsessed with it, needing to complete all the achievements (which I did for the DLC as well). I also include Mario Kart 8 due to the track DLC released this year, and would have liked to include Cyberpunk 2077, which I finally played this past year following the latest patch, and it ended up being one of my favorite games played in recent years.
Grid Legends (Xbox Series S)
Mario Kart 8 (Nintendo Switch)
Marvel Snap (Mobile)
Pentiment (Xbox Series S)
Vampire Survivors (Xbox Series S)
Honorable Mentions: As Dusk Falls (Xbox Series S), Immortality (Xbox Series S), Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope (Nintendo Switch)
Favorite Movies This was certainly a great year for movies, and I got to see more new releases than I normally would due to the accelerated digital releases we get these days. And as with previous years, I include top 5s for some of the movie marathons I did (1982, 1992, Zhang Yimou), just for fun.
Decision to Leave
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick
Honorable Mentions: Apollo 10 1/2, Barbarian, Jackass Forever/Jackass 4.5, Men, Metal Lords, Pearl, Prey, Studio 666, Terrifier 2, The Batman, Watcher
Favorite Movies of 1982
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Favorite Movies of 1992
A Few Good Men
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Favorite Films of Zhang Yimou
Raise the Red Lantern
Favorite TV Every year I include the AEW pro wrestling shows Dynamite and Rampage in my top 5 because I love them so, although I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t include them since everything else are scripted shows. I think Irma Vep, Better Call Saul, and Severance were absolutely my other favorite shows this past year, and the last spot could have been taken up by any number of shows included in my honorable mentions — but She-Hulk was a fun surprise, and a joy to watch.
AEW Dynamite/AEW Rampage
Better Call Saul
Honorable Mentions: Andor, House of the Dragon, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Primal, Peacemaker, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Sandman, Tales From the Territories, That Dirty Black Bag, Tokyo Vice, We Own This City
Favorite Anime Series This category comes and goes, as there are years where I don’t watch much anime, but this past year has been quite a strong year, and I’ve found myself watching many of these (everything in the top 5 except Cyberpunk) with my wife, who loves them as well.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch of Mercury
Pop Epic Team
SPY x FAMILY
Honorable Mentions: Ghost in the Shell, Summer Time Rendering,Uncle From Another World, Vampire in the Garden
Favorite Web Series/Channels This category has pretty much turned into nothing but pro wrestling related content — the various AEW series, plus Being the Elite and KanaChanTV — except for Formula 1 racing, which I watch via a subscription to the F1 TV website/app.
Favorite Music My list of honorable mentions is a bit extensive here, but hey, no music no life. Although I always just include albums, there are certainly songs I’ve specifically enjoyed a lot this year, but I’m not able to properly track them. And my most listened to album this past year is easily Maki Nomiya’s New Beautiful. And yes, three albums by Guided by Voices, so what.
Household Name (Momma)
Mahal (Toro y Moi)
New Beautiful (Maki Nomiya)
Talk Talk Talk (The Paranoyds)
Honorable Mentions: Alpha Zulu (Phoenix), Back on the Music (Paul Cherry), Barbara (Barrie), Cheat Codes (Danger Mouse & Black Thought), Counterpoint (Tomggg), Crystal Nuns Cathedral (Guided by Voices), Domestic Fantasy (Hook-Ups), Du haut du 33e étage EP (Bertrand Burgalat), Dutronc & Dutronc (Thomas Dutronc & Jacques Dutronc), Get Back: The Rooftop Performance (The Beatles), Golden Apples (Golden Apples), Growing Up (The Linda Lindas), Happy Now (Thick), Hello (μ-Ziq), Hello, Hi (Ty Segall), Here with You (Tahiti 80), In Cinerama (April March), Laurel Hell (Mitski), Let England Shake – Demos (PJ Harvey), Multitude (Stromae), Plasma (Perfume), Pompeii (Cate Le Bon), Scalping the Guru (Guided by Voices), Sexy (Coco & Clair Clair), Slight Variations (Fujiya & Miyagi), Steady (Sloan), Strata Records: The Sound of Detroit (Jazzanova), Teatro Lucido (La Femme), Tremblers and Goggles by Rank (Guided by Voices), World Wide Pop (Superoganism)
Favorite Podcasts The two new entries this year are also my current favorites: the TokyoScope spinoff series Pure TokyoScope, that brings together Patrick Macias and Matt Alt (the episodes they did together on the original TokyoScope podcast were always the best anyway), and Video Archives, the new movie discussion podcast with Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery.
All Songs Considered
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Favorite Comics I feel like I slowed down a bit when it comes to comics this past year, and so no honorable mentions — and the Usagi Yojimbo mention includes both the ongoing new series, as well as the color reprints of old material.
Do a Powerbomb
Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to be Kin
The Human Target
Favorite BDs Although I consistently read a lot of BDs (bandes-dessinées, or French language comics), in the past year or two I didn’t include the category because I wasn’t reading a lot of new releases, but this past year I was able to include a few choice titles that I quite enjoyed.
Cuba, où tout a commencé (XIII, Tome 28)
La mort de Spirou (Spirou et Fantasio, Tome 56)
Neptune – Épisode 1, 2
Scotland – Episode 1 (Kenya – Saison 4)
Tom & Lisa 1910 (La Fortune des Winczlav, Tome 2)
Favorite Magazines The biggest change in the list this year is that I finally stopped buying/subscribing to the physical edition of Monocle, and switched over to a digital subscription (due to my move to China). Everything else I continue to read though my Apple News+ subscription.
As I was preparing my annual “favorite media” post, I just realized that I forgot to post a recap of my 1982 movie marathon, which I finished in September (joining 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991). It was a pretty fun year I think, and I quite enjoyed a lot of these. Below, a list of the films I watched, with links to my short reviews on Letterboxd — and here’s the Twitter thread.
This year marks my fifth year doing a horror movie marathon in October (following 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021), and it was also unfortunately the shortest one as I had to deal with personal issues during the majority of the month, which affected my movie viewing — in fact, I watched almost half of these in just the last few days. But it was still fun to do (here’s the Twitter thread I did), and although I just list the movies I watched here (with links to my mini reviews on Letterboxd), I also watched two horror-themed TV series: Midnight Club and Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (I still have a couple of episode to watch on the former, and was disappointed in the latter, and kinda stopped watching during episode 6). So here’s what I watched, and I’ll now be taking a break from horror for a while to focus on doing my 1992 movie marathon before the year is over.
This is something that I meant to write back in June, when we actually left the hotel and moved into our apartment, but indeed, after an 84-day stay, it was quite something to finally really start what felt like our new life here in Shanghai.
That 84 days was made up of an initial 2 weeks of quarantine in a government-sanctioned hotel — which we would have had to do even if we hadn’t landed on the day the lockdowns started across the city — and then the rest in a hotel that was selected by my workplace. If it wasn’t for the lockdown, that stay would have been for one extra week of quarantine time, and then a couple of weeks to give us time to find an apartment.
It ended up taking a bit longer.
Now I know that “living” close to 3 months in a hotel isn’t a complete novel experience, and is surely done by many who travel to places on finite work missions, but experiencing it within the context of a city-wide lockdown where you cannot leave the premises (we could leave our room and take “walks” to the lobby) is something else.
But as I think I’ve written before, it could have been worse. Our room was quite comfortable, we had access to food, and you do get used to having someone come and clean up your room on a daily basis. On the day we left, my wife even mentioned being a bit sad, as she had gotten used to life there, and had befriended a lot of the staff at our hotel.
But yes, as we kick off August, we’ve now been living in our apartment for well over a month (we moved in on June 20). As for what part of the city we ended up going to, that’ll be for another post.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve shared a new year-based movie marathon post — since September of last year in fact, for 1981 (joining 1967, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990) — and it’s one that I ended up aborting earlier than expected, in the sense that there were quite a few more films from 1991 that I had originally planned on watching (at least double what is listed here), but I just somehow lost the drive (maybe partly due to the move to Shanghai happening), and I was starting to really get the itch to head back to the 80s, which I did for my current 1982 viewing marathon (which I’m chronicling in this Twitter thread). But despite bailing out early, I still wanted to share the dozen of films I watched from 1991, with links to my mini reviews on Letterboxd.
It was 25 years ago this week that I first went to China, which makes it that much more interesting that it coincides with me moving there now.
Back in the summer of 1993, I was two years into a Mathematics Specialization university degree, and I was dealing with the fact that I did not want to continue to study mathematics. At the same time, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, and so I decided to take a year to try out a variety of classes, to try and find some new direction. That summer was when I first watched the film The Last Emperor (which led to an obsession with the films of Zhang Yimou) and it’s what inspired me to take a history class on Chinese communism.
The result? I took another history class in the following semester (related to Japanese history), and then a year later declared a Major in History at that university, which was in my hometown. After I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1996 (with a Minor in Mathematics, since I had enough credits — although I was actually missing 1 credit, and so had to take another math class during my final semester, which was hell). I then decided to go to Montreal to enroll in an East-Asian Studies program, focusing on China, which is what led to my first opportunity to visit that country.
There was a summer study abroad program between two universities in Montreal (Université de Montréal, where I was studying, and McGill University), and Nankai University in the city of Tianjin, China. It was a 10-week summer program where you would go to Tianjin and follow Chinese language classes every morning, with the credits recognized at home.
Then, a funny thing happened.
I met my wife on the very first day I was in Tianjin. I didn’t even know she was Japanese at the time (before speaking to her). It took a few weeks before we started dating, but that led to one of the biggest decisions in my life: at the end of the 10-week program, as everyone flew back to Canada, I didn’t. I enrolled at the university to continue my Chinese studies. It also meant that I had to renew my visa, which needed to be done outside the country, which led to my first visit to Japan.
In the summer of 1997, in July, I decided to take a boat to Japan, where I would arrive in the city of Kobe, which is where my wife was from (and she had returned there during the summer). It was a two-day boat ride (which turned into a three-day boat ride on the way back, as we got caught in a tsunami), and that resulted in a fantastic two-week visit to Kobe and Tokyo (where I went to the Chinese embassy to change my visa).
The rest, as they say, is history. I later moved to Tokyo in May of 1998, and lived there for a two-year stint, before returning to Canada for a year, and then going back for close to 15 years (until 2015).
So early May is always quite nostalgic for me, as it marks these big turning points in my life, and although we landed in Shanghai on March 28, our quarantine period and city-wide lockdown means that we’re still in a hotel, waiting to get started on our new life here. In early May.
(Being in China in 1997 also meant that I had the opportunity to be in Beijing near Tiananmen Square as the official handover of Hong Kong took place, but that’s a story for another post.)
We landed in Shanghai on Monday, March 28, and as I write this it’s Sunday, April 17, and so the last day of our mandated three-week quarantine period.
As I had described in my previous post, our first two weeks were to be spent in a government-selected hotel. Once that was done, we moved to a hotel booked by the studio, where we would do our third week of isolation (although a bit less strict in that we could at least leave our hotel room to access areas of the hotel).
Of course, the major event that has happened in parallel to this is the city-wide lockdown in Shanghai, which began on the day we landed. That means that even though our quarantine will be over tomorrow, we won’t really be able to do much as most of the city is still currently in lockdown. There are areas that have been slightly opened, depending on whether there are any positive cases in that area, but for the most part the city is closed to regular life. Since it appears that there are no positive cases in our area, we are hoping that from tomorrow we’ll at least be able to go outside and get a bit of air — something we’ve only been able to do once in our three weeks here, and that was yesterday, as we needed to take part in the mass PCR testing that takes place regularly across the city.
So what’s next for us? Normally the end of our quarantine period would have meant that we could finally start visiting apartments, but that’s not going to be possible until the lockdown ends. That does mean that we will be in our current hotel for the foreseeable future. Depending on what you read or the rumors you hear, things might start getting back to normal in May, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
On the bright side, life is pretty comfortable in our current hotel. Our room is quite spacious and includes a kitchen area (it’s a “service apartment” type room) with breakfast is included every morning, and there’s a system in a place to buy meal boxes every day (a random assortment of Chinese food, like we were getting in our initial quarantine hotel), so we’re not dealing with the issues many are in the city of lack of access to food supplies. There’s also a gym that we can use, and so that has been keeping us active.
So there you have it, three weeks in Shanghai, but I still haven’t been able to see anything in the city. Certainly not the way a person would imagine moving to a new city.