2014 is a year to remember. At least for me. New kid. New job. New home. Call it a transitional year! Transition to what? I have no clue, but I'm keen to find out. Meanwhile, I wanted to highlight some memorable aspects of the year that could be of your interest. I say memorable because calling it a best of 2014 list is way too much, but I do stand for everything in this list to be interesting and singular. Here we go:
Her is the most memorable movie I watched this year. Its premise is unique and its execution excellent (script, editing and performance). All of it in a piece of art that is gorgeous: photography, locations, interior design. I wrote about the film some months ago, check the short review if you want to know more.
Dysnomia is one of a kind. It won't fit into any existing category I know. It's not jazz, not ambient, not electronic, not acoustic. Imagine three different instruments: gran piano, contrabass and drum kit. Each one is played independently from one another, not synchronized. They're played to deliberately hide the notes (actually the grand piano is played with the strings pressed with one hand to mute the chords). Everything is played in a single acoustic session. So there's no rhythm, there's no melody, everything is mixed up... and yet the result is a hypnotizing sound that somehow... works. As I said before, surely not the best album of the year, but one that stands on its own and it's hard to forget.
In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin tells his own story of how he became a chess prodigy (depicted in the film Searching for Bobby Fischer) and then turned into the world champion of martial art Tai Chi Chuan. As Josh guides you through the events in his life, you experience very lively the ever stiffer competition and get a unique view on the inner dynamics of confronting new opponents, facing new disciplines or adopting new strategies to improve your chances. A trip to excellence, told in first person by the rider, that's full of valuable lessons on how to pursue perfection in what you do.
Despite popular belief, I buy less gadgets than you think. During 2014, I have not bought any phone, tablet, computer or camera. Therefore, it is only accessories I can talk about. And I had to pick one, it would be my Jawbone Jambox. The combination of a bluetooth speaker with a Spotify subscription is one of the best decisions I took this year. I've used them to concentrate at work (I'm writing this post right now listening to The Malady of Elegance by Goldmund on the solitude of my kitchen at very early hours of the day), to dance around with kids and wife on a Saturday morning (love the mix tape nostalgia now called playlists, and my wife does some really good ones), or to enhance the atmosphere of a Christmas Eve with some coffee table jazz. If you don't have a bluetooth speaker and a Spotify subscription, I highly recommend both. If you are looking for a bluetooth speaker, consider the UE Boom instead (better sound quality though less portable).
Tim Ferris is producing a series of inteviews with really interesting people talking about stuff I love to hear about. Check it out if you are into better organization, life hacks and generally doing awesome things beyond your 9-to-5 pay-your-bills occupation.
...for lack of a better word. This Field Notes pocket notebooks are the discovery of this year. Field Notes should not exist in 2014. A pocket sized little notebook to take notes should have gone digital at least 5 years ago. In the end, we all have our phones with us all the time, serving exactly the same purpose, right? I bought them in a wonderful little shop in Boston out of nostalgia. Then I started carrying one of them with me all the time, not really knowing what to do with it actually. Then, one day, I wrote my first note in it and I felt the connection. There's something about joting down stuff, poorly written in a shitty little notebook, that feels good. You don't care about calligraphy, you don't care about quality or relevance of the content, you don't care if the notebook is bent and scrached, it actually looks better that way, you just know that it feels good to pull it out of your pocket and write something there while on your airplane seat, or during a lonely lunch, or in the dark hours of an early winter morning because you had THE idea. Still today, I don't really know why I use them, of when is the right time to use them, or for what specific type of task. All I know is that I love them.
I hope that you enjoyed 2014 too, that you found and did interesting things too, and wish you all the best for 2015. I'll be around next year with hopefully more surprises to make it an even more memorable year.