We Best Love: No. 1 For You & We Best Love: Fighting Mr. Second quick pitch

(Taiwan 2021)

Foundational Romance Tropes? Enemies to lovers X2 + long term pining + reunion + sunshine/tsundere pairing 

This may be not just one of my favorite BLs of 2021 but my favorites of all time

I said at the end of last year I expected good stuff out of Taiwan in 2021, especially since they weathered C19 better than any other country. They did not disappoint, coming out the gate HOT with We Best Love. Like Korea, Taiwan seems to be capitalizing on music performers who want to transition to acting.

There’s some pretty epic pining in BL, and while Sarawat certainly wins for Thailand and Kurosawa for Japan, Gao Shi De pines for fucking Olympic gold in Taiwan 2021. The way he looks at fierce kitten Zhou Shu Yi broke my heart.

Is there a better pairing than soft af seme and tough af uke? Not in my book (probably because my book started with 90s yaoi.)

The story line is compressed and watered down because each season is so short. The couple’s breakup, occurring between the two seasons, is only in flashbacks. But the acting and production values are top notch, and in the end the performances are so good they entirely sweep away a flawed plot and thin narrative arc. 

It’s rare for me to like a show DESPITE the story, We Best Love stands with To My Star as one of the few. 

* A word on Zi Hong/Sam Lin. 

His acting is INSANE. Season 2 ep 2 was so good I actually just sat and stared a blank screen for ten minutes after it was over, processing. I don’t think BL ever has or ever will again produce a drunken heartbreak like that. All future episode 11s ~ eat your hearts out. Oh wait, no, I forgot, we have no hearts left to eat, Sam got there first.

All told this series is GREAT, the actors are wonderful, and the chemistry is killer with all three pairs. I was particularly pleased to get Shu Yi and his dad talking Japanese. I love it when Taiwan makes use of bilingual actors (see Because of You) almost as much as them flexing their marriage equality muscles (which they also did in this series).

The full circle pool kiss was adorable and We Best Love is officially THE BEST.

P.S. The fashion in We Best Love: Fighting Mr. 2nd is ON POINT. Taiwan + suits = joy 

Taylor Swift - Fearless (Taylor's Version)

A celebratory work, marked with freedom and joy...

CLASHMUSIC

Like a restored photograph brightening from black and white into colour, 'Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' is the same, but better. Embroiled in a high-profile battle over the ownership of her own music, Taylor Swift shakes away the sad context of this re-recorded album, and in turn, shakes the cobwebs off her old hits simply through the power of sheer joy.

The anticipation around this re-recording and how she would do it was high, wondering whether she would totally change her early work to watch her new indie-infused 'folklore' sound as she kept her collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff close. But what she’s done not only makes sense, but makes 'Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' take a truly ground-breaking stance, going up against far bigger music industry demons than her own ex-label execs.

By making near carbon copies of her old tracks, Fearless (Taylor’s version) defies time in two ways; celebrating Taylor’s matured voice while bringing fans back to their teens with this celebration of her early career.

And celebration is the perfect word. All the changes made to beloved tracks like ‘You Belong With Me’ and ‘Love Story’, simply make them shinier. Throughout the whole album, banjos are crisper, guitars are fuller, drums are heavier, and Taylor’s strong 31-year-old voice leads the music. Clearly taking care to not step over her 19-year-old self, all the changes feel totally natural, like they should’ve been that way to start with.

Take the violins on ‘Breathe’, while they were sweet on the original, on ‘Breathe (Taylor’s Version)’, they’re impactful and gripping. Maybe this is the impact of Taylor’s long career and development coming full circle to spruce up her old hits, or maybe we’re finally seeing the vision younger Taylor had all along, free from external opinions and control, as a lesson in why she should be in charge of her own work.

A stand out moment comes as ‘Tell Me Why’ starts. Leaning into the anger and bitterness of the track, you get the sense that Taylor channels all her defiance into this track, as her current situation overtakes the meaning of the lyrics. Singing ‘you could write a book on / how to ruin someone's perfect day’, you can almost hear Taylor’s clenched fist, a moment where her defiance and passion about this project seems to become crystal-clear as her old self provides the perfect words.

With her voice sounding far stronger than the original as it’s aged into her own unique blend of country, pop and indie, there’s something beautiful and important about hearing these songs sung again that really goes above opinions on the album. In an industry that’s so obsessed with never- ending youth, releasing a re-recorded album where the only major difference is the age of her voice, 'Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' is a powerful message about her place and longevity in this industry. Previously talking about female celebrities being “discarded in an elephant graveyard by the time they’re 35”, Taylor takes a stand against the pressure on female musicians to constantly be newer and younger, by pausing to step back into her past to not only reclaim her legacy, but take a moment with her fans to look around and see how far they’ve come.

Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' is undeniably for the long-standing fans. In fact, Taylor takes a risky step away from the new indie crowd fans she won over on Folklore and Evermore, returning to her original twee country self. Only a star like Taylor could have fans this captivated for the release of songs they’ve grown up listening to thousands of times, but with first kiss soundtracks like ‘Fearless’, and teenage guides like ‘Fifteen’, 'Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' offers a moment for older fans to feel nostalgic for the soundtrack of their youth and gives younger listeners the opportunity to be raised by these tracks as a whole new wave of Swift fans.

And it’s this purpose that breathes life into the album that could’ve ended up sounding like older Taylor Swift doing younger Taylor Swift karaoke. The songs feel fresh, Taylor’s voice sounds natural and relaxed as she’s been singing these songs forever, the heightened drama and sound-quality on the tracks gives the restored work better-than-the-original tones and textures. Simply, you can hear the drive. You can hear exactly what Taylor is thinking as she strives to re-make Fearless, but better, if she’s going to be forced to sacrifice the original record.

And then we get to the vault. Releasing six previously unheard songs that were penned as she was writing 'Fearless', Taylor takes on a unique challenge of playing with her 12-year-old drafts. Leaning into all her influences, the vault tracks range from pure pop on ‘Mr Perfectly Fine’, to more Folklore- esque minimalism on ‘We Were Happy’. With no original to re-create, these tracks are a perfect collaboration between her old and new self, building something bigger around the core of her old lyrical style as sweet country phrasing is bedded within a more complex musical background where her recent indie accolades come into play. While the re-recording of the original album may be too sickly for new fans, the vault provides a space for her recent sound, with ‘You All Over Me’ having big radio potential and ‘Bye Bye Baby’ rounding off the defiant album with an apt message; ‘Bye, bye, to everything I thought was on my side’.

Managing to find a purpose beyond a legal battle, 'Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' has become a moment of reflection and celebration for both Taylor and her fans, coming together to look back on youth from the other side 13 years later. Keeping the substance the same to not uproot these song’s place in people’s lives, Taylor simply cleans up the edges, brightens up the colours and ups the drama. Shrugging off the pressure to always move forward, Taylor re-applies her seemingly endless passion for making music to her old self, collaborating with her past in order to save it. And the result, bittersweet magic that has millions feel nostalgic.

8/10

Words: Lucy Harbron

Remains

Game: Doom II Year: 2019 Source Port: GZDoom Specs: MAP01, MAP02 Gameplay Mods: Slight gameplay alterations Author: "Serious_MOod” idgamesonemandoom

A highly-atmospheric mini-adventure that was born out of a resource pack for a megaWAD whose contributors never really came together. The sound design is pretty freakin’ good and has some ambient noise actors that are backed by a drone soundtrack that I’m told comes from VTM: Bloodlines. The combat is relatively low-key, involves some swimming, and has a handful of slight mechanical tweaks.

The Falcon & The Winter Solider - Episode 4 Reaction (and oh boy, I have a LOT to say)

Well, damn. That was incredible, I was literally screaming at the TV the whole episode. If anyone says after that episode that this show is a disappointment, we must be watching entirely different things.

As usual, there will be spoilers, so I’ve put the rest of my thoughts below. Read below at your own discretion!

"In an industry that’s so obsessed with never- ending youth, releasing a re-recorded album where the only major difference is the age of her voice, 'Fearless (Taylor’s Version)' is a powerful message about her place and longevity in this industry. Previously talking about female celebrities being “discarded in an elephant graveyard by the time they’re 35”, Taylor takes a stand against the pressure on female musicians to constantly be newer and younger, by pausing to step back into her past to not only reclaim her legacy, but take a moment with her fans to look around and see how far they’ve come."

Clash Music review of Fearless (Taylor's Version)

Watching Star Wars Episode I for the first time

I never watched the Star Wars movies, but I will do it now. I have super little knowledge of the other movies, so please forgive me Star Wars fans, if my short review isnt like you want it to be or names are written wrong.

Lets get started:

I was wondering how Anakin is related to Luke, I think it's Darth Vader and Padme is the mother then (please don't spoil it if thats the case). That whole arc on this Tatooine planet was awesome. Also that detail that Anakin is cold in space, necause he is used to warm temperatures. The scene when Qui-Gon was scurrying and then Obi Wan went to him and then the scene with Anakin and his mother saying goodbye was sad. My favourite scene was the podrace scene. Its like Formula 1 in space. I can imagine that some people found it too long, but I was excited and enjoyed the scene. Jar Jar, I dunno, I found him a bit annoying because he was clumsy as a comic relief, ok, but he wasn't funny. Just my opinion, no hate if you think otherwise. I would have wanted C-3PO to have come with Anakin. He and R2D2 would be very good buddies. I found the lightsaber battles amazing. I am used to the sound of swords because I watched the Pirates of the Caribbean movies often and it is nice to hear those lightsabers, its different and a variety.

I am sure I forgot many to include, but thats all what I can think of while I write this. I can definitely recommend this movie. I can see why people love the franchise and I am sure I will watch the other movies

Ten Inch Hero (2007)

ESE: 105/100

50 +5 for “normal people not wanted” help wanted sign +10 for Clea DuVall +5 for the interview process +10 for Jensen Ackles -10 for Tish being manipulative as hell +5 for Jen’s online romance +10 for Trucker +10 for Jen’s kindness +10 for supportive co-workers and friends -10 for laughing at Priestly +5 for Priestly’s little speech at the grocery store +10 for titties -20 for Tad +5 for Zo -10 for standing poor Fuzzy up +10 for Priestly being right once again -10 for forcing a threesome on a girl -10 for F-slur -10 for Tad being an abusive fuck +50 for the whole sandwich shop crew jumping Tad +10 for the Fuzzy moment -20 for Tish agreeing to a date with Priestly after he changes his look

Netflix’s Adaptation of “Gokushufudou/The Way of the Househusband”

First of all, if you haven’t read Gokushufudou/The Way of the Househusband, I highly recommend it. Fantastic manga series. Hilarious, intense, wholesome, dramatic, it practically seeps with tongue-in-cheek humor that’s served with a sweet, psychopathic smile like the one Tatsu (the titular “househusband”) often wears. Whether he’s strutting his stuff in dance-robics class or he gives it his all in a heated dessert cookoff with a rival gang member, his daily exploits are quite a thing to experience.

Netflix released an anime adaptation yesterday, and, naturally as a fan of the series, I gave it a shot.

And the results... were... not entirely what I expected.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not bad. It’s really not. Now, by saying that, it makes it sound bad, but to me, it isn’t bad.

The voice acting is good! The English dub and the original Japanese both sound excellent, especially the actors for Tatsu. Each actor sound very fitting for the Immortal Dragon.

The plot?

You know how people who read manga often complain that shows adapted from them stray too far from the source? Well, you don’t have to worry about it with this show. It doesn’t stray away from the source at all. It sticks to its side like a codependent relationship.

The animation, though? That’s where many peoples’ criticism lies.

If you saw the original trailer for the series when it was first announced and glanced at the comment section (a very risky move if you’re having a good day), you undoubtedly saw some comments that considered the art direction to be very “cheap” and “unpleasant” and “lazy”. Me? I’ll admit, I’m picky about my animation. I do enjoy smooth and fluid movements in my shows, and I can understand complaints. The show’s style is simple. It’s very minimalist. You can tell that many (all) of the shots were basically taken straight from the source and edited with some motion.

The animation budget appears moderately higher than a Webtoons comic trailer. (Not dissing Webtoons, but it’s on that level of animation. Not super stylized and very stiff in motion.)

Now, do I mind the lack of fluid animation so much that I hate the show as a result? No.

As I’ve said, it isn’t bad. It’s just different. And different isn’t inherently bad. The heart of the story is still there. The characters are still the same. The atmosphere feels the same.

Here’s what I tell you:

If you like the manga and you wanted to see a slightly (very slightly) more animated, colorized version of the story with decent voice acting, then there you go.

Taylor Swift review, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) – Wisely not trying to rewrite history

Swift’s re-recorded versions of her 2008 album is a timely reminder of some of the best pop songs committed to record

4/5 STARTS

By Alexandra Pollard

Taylor Swift has made a point, not a new album.

In order to wrestle it from the clutches of Scooter Braun, the singer-songwriter has re-recorded, word for word and note for note, 2008's Fearless.

It is a complicated backstory, but the crux of it is this: when she was 15, Swift signed a 13-year deal with record label Big Machine that gave them ownership over all her future master recordings. When she was 28 and one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, she signed a new deal with a different label, and Big Machine sold those rights to Scooter Braun, a man she claimed had bullied her for years.

Since 2019, Braun has had ownership of and control over Swift’s first six albums. “This is what happens when you sign a deal at 15 to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept,” she wrote in a lengthy Instagram post at the time. “And when that man says ‘Music has value’, he means its value is beholden to men who had no part in creating it.” And so Swift announced her intention to re-record every single song that Braun now owned.

She has begun with her second album, Fearless. Pointedly named Fearless (Taylor’s Version), this is not a new take, remix or reimagining. Tracks such as the Romeo and Juliet-inspired country ballad “Love Story” and the lilting pop song “You Belong With Me” remain almost exactly the same, each banjo note, guitar chord and harmony painstakingly reconstructed. I had wondered if she might use the opportunity to tweak things here and there – “You Belong With Me” aims very un-2021 barbs at a love interest’s current girlfriend – but wisely, she has not tried to rewrite history.

This is the perfect moment for Fearless (Taylor’s Version): there’s no time like a pandemic to be given a dose of nostalgia, and it’s nice to have a refresher of some of the best pop songs committed to record. Even the six “from the vault” tracks that didn’t make the cut first time round feel oddly comforting. “We Were Happy”, with its strings, wistful guitar and lush harmonies (courtesy of Keith Urban), is just lovely. “Mr Perfectly Fine”, meanwhile, slots perfectly into the late-Noughties country pop vibe, helped along by the fact it was supposedly written about a months-long relationship with Joe Jonas (on Instagram, his now-wife Sophie Turner described the song as “not NOT a bop”). These new tracks allow Swift to unleash, for old time’s sake, that “mortally wronged-in-love” persona she wore so well but has quietly retired. She’s recruited shiny young popstars Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Grey in the album’s marketing campaign – a canny reminder that she is the godmother of Melodramatic Teenage Feelings.

When she was 57, Joni Mitchell re-recorded “Both Sides Now”, a song she wrote at 24. No longer sung in dulcet tones but in a husky rasp brought on by a lifetime of cigarettes, lines like “I’ve looked at life from both sides now/ From win and lose and still somehow/ It's life’s illusions I recall/ I really don't know life at all” took on a newfound poignancy. It would be a stretch to say the same has happened here, because Swift’s voice has remained almost exactly the same, but there is certainly an added layer to songs like “Fifteen”. “Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now,” she mused back then, at 18, and again now, at 31. “Back then, I swore I was gonna marry him someday/ But I realised some bigger dreams of mine.”

Only occasionally has something been lost in the re-recording process. Perhaps it’s because she has grown weary of it after thousands of renditions, but “Love Story” somehow lacks the wide-eyed spark of the original. If there's a discernible difference, it’s that the build of the middle eight is a little less steep and a little less triumphant. But I’m splitting hairs. Swift has done what she set out to do.

There is a long history of women being locked into bad record deals that come to feel more like prison sentences: TLC; Kesha; Megan Thee Stallion; Toni Braxton; Kelly Clarkson. Maybe Swift is doing this for them, too. Bring on the next five.