Leaving Las Vegas January 12, I returned to Norway. Then I spent the Easter in Surfers Paradise. Spring on New Zealand, visiting Hobbiton. Had an unusually warm summer in Tromsø, then (after a stopover in Indonesia) moved on to the Northern Capital of Asia, Beijing, where I commenced learning Chinese. Christmas brought me to Tokyo with my new girlfriend, and the (Western) New Year’s Eve we spent in Shenzhen, Southern China.
We’re writing January 21. Back home the Sun is once again able to peek over the horizon and shine on my birth town. For the first time in several years I did not go to the International CES in Las Vegas. That feels weird. For the Chinese New Year, AKA Spring Festival, we’re planning to go to Macau, a former Portuguese colony in the South of China, and to Hong Kong.
Talking in numbers, 2013 brought me to four new countries: Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Japan. China is not new to me, as I stayed there one month in 2009. And Hong Kong is considered part of China, even though it’s a SAR (Special Administrative Region) with its own currency.
Talking books, I read 16 books by 12 authors. Number of pages total 5,679. This is a low number, but not the lowest since I started keeping track of my reading in 1994. As I am now a student, having to master written Chinese, as well as spoken, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Being able to write Chinese is a lot harder than learning other written languages, since it not only means mastering the relatively complex characters, which there are almost 80,000 of, but also the pinyin with the four tones.
Anyway, I’m digressing.
The best books of 2013 is as follows:
- Daniel Suarez: Daemon (9/10)
- Alastair Reynolds: On the Steel Breeze (9/10)
- Stephen King & Joe Hill: Throttle (novella) (9/10)
And the award for the best Norwegian book goes to my friend Tina Trovik for Samuel Sekel og flukten fra Paris. It comes strongly recommended, and I’ll give it a 8/10 score. If you read Norwegian, you should check it out. If you have young people in your family, it’s a great gift too. And while you’re in the book store, be sure to pick up a copy of Bergtatt by Martin Fyrileiv, another friend of mine. I haven’t read it yet, but the teasers tell me it’s a winner!
Talking about the winner, Daemon really blew me away, because it is not only well
written but also totally unputdownable, and I had never heard about the author before a friend here in Beijing mentioned it. Go read it, you won’t regret it!
On the Steel Breeze is the second installment of the Poseidon’s Children trilogy by Reynolds. Good entertainment and raises a few interesting points about future technology.
Throttle is a cooperation between King and his son. Quite enjoyable. Reminded me of the movie Duel (1971) by Steven Spielberg.
Moving on to movies. In 2013 I watched exactly 200 movies. 15 more than in 2012. Of those 200, 146 was on my favorite format, Blu-ray Disc. My home theater did unfortunately not follow me to Beijing, since it’s rather hard to get a 65 inch plasma screen into the suitcase, but I brought my portable Sony BD player, which I hooked up to the 40 inch picture frame in my Beijing apartment. (Yeah, you can ask, who puts a 40 inch screen into a 150 m2 apartment?)
26 movies was BD3D, 3 on DVD (obsolete format if you as me), 7 in the cinemas, 2 on TV, and 16 in the Other category, which includes iTunes and other downloads (or inflight movies, hotel VOD, etc.).
The best movies of 2013:
The rules are; the movies are not necessarily made or released in 2013, but must be watched for the first time, and with no regard to video format. To be fair, I have two categories for the first time, movies in 2D, and movies in 3D. Otherwise, as a big fan of 3D, it would be too easy for me to favor those.
- Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011)
- Django Unchained (2012)
- Cloud Atlas (2012)
- Oblivion (2013)
- Gravity (2013)
- Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
As for TV series I watched a total of 247 episodes, a little less than the 282 of 2012. Best new series are:
- Defiance (2013)
- Breaking Bad (2008)
- Under the Dome (2013)
Ongoing favorites are of course The Walking Dead, BSG, Star Trek TNG (now on BD), Game of Thrones, and Spartacus.
As for my collection of movies and TV shows on physical formats, which I still prefer and regard as having the best quality, it grew by 110 titles, to a total of 1,468 titles. This is the growth by format in 2013:
Blu-ray Disc (BD): 97 titles
Blu-ray 3D (BD3D): 23 titles
This year I expect to add yet another format to my collection; BD4K, the way movies should be watched, retaining the full quality of the original source (film or digital). The number of DVD is negative, because I am gradually replacing old DVDs with BD or BD3D. Sadly, some movies are still only available on the low resolution format DVD, which is not even 720p.
My movie and TV library now consists of 532 DVDs, 891 BDs, and 47 BD3Ds (total 1470 p.t.).
I am currently not buying many titles due to the fact that BD4K is expected later this year, and it’s also hard to get legal discs in China.
That’s all. Sorry for the lack of links. I must get back to other tasks at hand. Time is limited, and there should be enough information in the article as is.