#2016 – summary & playlist


(header image (c) Chris Barker)

Not exactly a New Year‘s Eve party playlist, but then again, it didn’t exactly feel like a party year, for all sorts of reason. Rather than celebrate its passing, we breathe a sigh of relief and hope that 2017 at least won’t get much worse…

gettyimages-591717242_custom-2b1934dac188b7266281132abf838e0c4c8aa8fcIt’s not going to surprise anyone reading this blog how I felt about the political developments since January, and frankly there’s little cause for optimism for the near future. But hey, at least we’re still here (well, most of us), and who knows, maybe 2017 will surprise us. At first, let’s see how long that ceasefire in Syria is going to hold…

KingFor me personally, it was a fairly mixed year. Artistically – very successful, considering I wrote and published two full novels which ended the Year of the Dragon saga, and even found the time for a collection of haiku. I hope to keep this pace up going into next year, although I’ll be starting my new novel from scratch – something I hadn’t done in over five years. AN ENTIRELY NEW BOOK! Every time I realize this, I get terrified at the very thought.

 
KamogawaIn the more mundane part of my life, very little happened. I stayed and worked in London all year, excepting the summer trip to the Hokuriku region of Japan, which was predictably awesome. I changed jobs in the summer, I started listening to comedy podcasts and… that’s about it. This is the first time in a long time that I’ll be spending two consecutive New Year’s Eves in the same place and circumstances. Feels weird!

Haiku2017, though – well, I don’t do New Year resolutions, I do New Year plans, and I have some big plans for this year. Definitely should be more interesting, but for now it’s all secret. I’ll let you know once it all comes to fruition.

wave_250Until then, here’s the playlist. As you’d probably have guessed, it’s a morbid one – a list of all those artists we said goodbye to this year (I include Lemmy, since I’ve learned of his death in the very beginning of 2016). Bowie, Prince and George Michael are the giants that loom large over the list, though as I’ve mentioned before, there are some lesser known names that have made an equally great impact on me – and some others which have been far less noticeable than they deserved in this year’s onslaught.

The passage of time is remorseless, and we are just at the beginning of the age of the dying celebrities. I expect 2017 list will be at least as full of famous names as this year, and 2018, and so on… but 2016 was definitely the first when the mortality of our childhood idols became such an integral part of reality. No matter who else will perish in the future, there will never again be a year like this – the first year of the mass idol death.

Oh well. Here’s to hope, tenacity and Keith Richard’s good health!

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2014 blog review – 明けましておめでとう!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2013 blog summary


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Year’s Resolutions For Everyone


I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Mostly because they weren’t a tradition when and where I was growing up, but also because they’ve always seemed a bit silly. You’re supposed to make plans, not resolutions. A plan means you’re being serious about something. A resolution is just a throwaway sentence you put at the end of the calendar. Maybe that’s why, according to a study posted on Wikipedia (and we all know Wikipedia doesn’t lie), 88% of resolutions fail.

So these are not my resolutions. These are proposed resolutions for anyone out there struggling to come up with something on the last day of the year.

4. See that place you’ve always wanted to visit.

Seriously. Stop posting pictures of exotic places captioned “I wish I could go there”. It’s 2013, and travel has never been that easy. The only thing possibly stopping you from seeing that place you’ve always wanted to see is in your head.

With no-frills airlines, the tickets are cheaper than they’ve ever been. The accommodation can be free: you can couch-surf, hire yourself out on a farm or volunteer for aid work. There are very few wars compared to any other point in history. Even places like North Korea and Burma accept tourists these days, if that’s where you want to go. If you really want to go somewhere, all you need to do is plan ahead. Save up. Make contacts. Research. And just go.

3. Think about what you eat.

This is the most universal and accurate advice I can give about eating. Whether you’re too fat or too thin, bloated or dehydrated; pay attention to your food.

Eating is one of the three most important things a living being does in its life. It always amazes me how little time people spend thinking about what they put in their stomachs.  If only we cared about food as much as we care about sex or entertainment, the world would be a far better place. And no, counting calories does not count.

Eat seasonal. Eat fresh, and as unprocessed as possible. Have a varied diet. Understand your food: where it comes from, what it does, how is one potato different from another potato, what meat is in your hot dog. If you can, convince your local shop to stock better produce. It may seem at first more expensive and time-consuming than your normal diet – but the investment will eventually recoup itself on time and money saved on doctor visits 🙂

2. Create something of your own.

There are 365 days in 2013. Put away one of those days to create something that you can call your own. Write a poem; learn a song; carve an abstract sculpture out of a block of lime wood. Make it yours, make it unique – something you can put your name on.

Like it or not, we are rapidly approaching a post-scarcity economy. In a few decades the only things of value will be the ones created by human hands – everything else will be replicated by machines. Start preparing for that future. Make the year 2013 the year of creation.

1. Hold the whine.

We’re in the middle of a global crisis. There’s recession looming, and the year will likely start with US falling off a fiscal cliff and Japan failing its recovery.

But, to quote Harold MacMillan, “we’ve never had it so good”. Maybe not compared to the year before… but compared to everyone else in history. There hasn’t been a proper war in the West in almost 70 years. Even the Cold War is over. Despite all the bad economic news, we are still better off, on average, than our parents and grandparents. Progress in all ways of life, from gadgets to medicine, is astounding. Just think of all the new technology that’s just around the corner: 3D printers! Star Trek tricorders! A slightly thinner iPad!

So do the world a favour and stop whining. There are very few things about your current life that you can’t change. Move home. Change the job. Sort out the family problems. Do something crazy. Don’t get stuck in a rut, like a broken ox-cart. And if you’re absolutely, positively certain you can’t change anything in your life for the better – well whining won’t help, will it.

So there you are. I had a few more of these prepared, but didn’t want to sound too preachy. Take care y’all, and hope you all have a good 2013. I certainly plan to.

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Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – The End – Goodreads Giveaway


XXI

The world has survived, and the new sun dawned after the longest night of the year. Happy Yalda! 🙂

To those who got here, here’s the last present of the year: a Goodreads Giveaway of “The Shadow of Black Wings” paperback. Follow the link below to enter:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Shadow of Black Wings by James Calbraith

The Shadow of Black Wings

by James Calbraith

Giveaway ends January 06, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

And now I’m logging off for the rest of the year. See you in January!