Ethos' Favourite Picks of 2022 (Part 1)

Dear Reader, 

I hope that this year has been your most memorable yet. 

As the year is slowly coming to a close, we compiled and narrowed down our favourite picks of 2022 that bring us comfort, encouragement, inspiration and nostalgia.

In this week's picks, we present to you personal favourites that range from comfortable shoes, to music, to swimming complexes. 

We hope that as a new season approaches, the memories and warmth of 2022 will not be forgotten. 

Si Hui.


🔖 Jennifer's Pick 🔖
Read: Skip & Loafer

I’ve probably read more new manga than new books this year (even then, it’s not a lot!) but I am especially fond of Skip & Loafer which follows the life of a country bumpkin moving to Tokyo for high school. Despite its predictable premise, the characters have surprised and charmed me lots, where even the most archetypal of personalities (from the 'nerd' to the 'mean girl') are all given equal depth and consideration. The love and care the author has for their characters shines through the storytelling. It’s a simple slice-of-life story, but these days where it feels like too many things are happening, I think I prefer slower-paced stories where not much needs to be said and you can just enjoy the time spent with the characters 😊  

(P.S Big kudos to Kinokuniya SG for always bringing in the latest manga! I’ve stepped away from scanslations / fan-translations since entering publishing and have embraced reading manga via official apps like Bookwalker, Mangaplus (all available in SG without needing VPN!) but Kino comes through whenever I want to add a story to my library at home 😊)


🎧 Leia's Pick 🎧
Listen: Mitski

This year, my Spotify Wrapped told me what I’d already known without a doubt: that the artist I’d spent most time listening to—1,228 minutes to be exact—was Mitski. That’s nearly a full day of my life with the singer-songwriter!
Though I had discovered Mitski last year through hit songs like “First Love / Late Spring” (an unmatched chorus drop!), I got irrevocably sucked into the Mitskiverse through her 2022 album Laurel Hell, which was the artist’s epic return from the hiatus she’d taken from music since 2019.

After the success of her 2014 album Be the Cowboy, the hyper-scrutiny that befalls female pop stars and pressure to produce-produce-produce in a saturated music market became too much for Mitski, causing her to step out of the public’s eye to “be human again”—no social media, no music releases. It’s fitting that the second song on Laurel Hell, “Working for the Knife”, explains her absence by addressing the exhaustion of labouring without purpose, looking for a way out.

This album seems to have promised one. Or, at least, it’s filled with the angsty conviction that Mitski has more to say to the world through music—something which I and many others are grateful for. It’s big, with songs that expand in energy and vocal register, pushed along by moody synth riffs and a relentless pulse. It’s 80s revival, it’s extravagant, but also tense, provocatively honest, and raw—it’s Mitski reloaded.

There’s a Mitski lyric for every occasion. Well, I think so. I put Laurel Hell on right after submitting my thesis online, singing and dancing wildly in my kitchen: I WISH I WAS MAKING THINGS TOO / BUT I’M WORKING FOR THE KNIFE. And as 2023 approaches, I find that I too want to OPEN UP my HEART, LIKE THE GATES OF HELL—to STEP CAREFULLY INTO THE DARK, and wonder: WHO WILL I BECOME, TONIGHT?


👟Cass's Pick👟
Fashion: Sunnystep Balance Runner 

We only need to dress for two eventualities in Singapore: wet or dry, sometimes both in the same day. That's why this year I've revelled in my water-resistant pair of Sunnystep walking shoes. With these sneakers on my feet and an umbrella in my bag, I’m ready to take on the vagaries of Singapore’s weather.

I've always been a proponent of walking; I like to take in the world around me at a pace of my choosing, free to slow my steps to consider whatever catches my eye. My walking shoes are my trusty enablers in this. They convey my rather flat feet over long distances without them feeling the miles, giving me sure footing on wet surfaces and sufficient protection from scorching rays. A plus is that Sunnystep is a homegrown brand. Its founder dreamed up the shoes’ lightweight designs, supportive soles and wider fronts for Asian feet when she had to find a way to ease her back injury.

I too appreciated how a good pair of shoes can stave off pain as my belly started to grow heavy this year from pregnancy and movement brought jarring pain to the bottom of my backbone. I've temporarily put my long walks on hold till the time comes for me to offload the tiny human growing inside of me. In the meantime, I'll nonetheless keep taking steps forward, including towards what the new year and motherhood might hold, cushioned and weather-proof.


👢Wei Lin's Pick 👢
Fashion: Iris van Herpen 

Iris van Herpen, Sensory Seas at Cirque d'hiver Bouglione in Paris (January 2020). Full show here.

I’ve always been sceptical towards fashion, especially since there’s so much vanity, abuse and waste, and many brands seem to perpetuate the dichotomy between classes and gatekeep the questionable sanctity of Image in a world that swipes too often too quickly.

Recently, however, I find myself drawn to Youtube videos of runway shows during late nights as I look for something that doesn’t require as much focus as a film and gives my eye something to explore at a meditative pace. It was then that I discovered Iris van Herpen. She has changed runway shows for me, and if ever she brings her retrospective exhibition to Singapore (manifest, manifest), I will run gladly to it, knowing that I never have to own her creations (nor want to), but can love them anyway.

The first runway show I watched of hers was her Sensory Seas collection, launched in January 2020. I couldn’t believe the delicate precision of her tailoring and her mastery over colour, fabric, form and movement. To me, her works bear the gift of wearable poetry. I have no other way to explain the emotional impact of seeing how they move, like jellyfish, like sonic waves, physicalising the invisible. She somehow manages to combine theatre, dance, fashion and art all at once, and she does it from a place of such grace and quietude, that my anxiety melts away with the rhythm of the catwalk. Highly recommend for sleepless nights.


🎮 Glen's Pick 🎮
Game: Elden Ring

Another year, another game. Elden Ring. This game is just great. I first watched my friend play it on stream and I just thought it looked like any other game that ever existed. When my sister got it for me on my birthday though, I quickly got hooked to how weighted the combat felt. I felt like I was a living, breathing, writhing, participant in a fantasy world. Not many games do that nowadays, at least in my experience. The whole setting of the game just drew me in completely, with castles, wandering knights, giant asshole dogs and crows, a huge magical school with strange inhabitants that wore stone masks all the time, and tortoises. I enjoyed dying an immeasurable number of times to the creatures and gods in this world, and I felt like I did something whenever I managed to successfully learn their attack patterns to finally get past them. This game got me into reading a manga called Berserk as well, which shares many similar themes.


🏊🏼 Wai Han's Pick 🏊🏼
Place: Bishan Swimming Complex 

Bishan Swimming Complex is a very memorable place for me this year, as I send three of my four grandchildren there on Friday afternoons for their swimming lesson. Much like our life journey, they progress from having to use floatation devices to swimming entirely on their own. (Floatation devices have been used to assist some to swim across the Straits of Johor!)


🍿Ben's Pick🍿
Watch: The French Dispatch

So one day, amidst the busyness of major projects presented by both work and life, I sat down and watched a Wes Anderson movie (with all its symmetrically framed scenes and charming splashes of colour). 

Essentially, the film revolves around this magazine called The French Dispatch, where during the course of the film the spectator is led through four separate “chapters”, each of which follows a particular story being pursued by their respective reporters:

  • The film starts off with “The Cycling Reporter” which, apart from being a relatively simple introduction, reminded me of my own bicycle—where I had ridden and have yet to ride, the stories I have encountered and those I have yet to encounter; a little tinge of excitement at the prospect of what is to come.
  • “The Concrete Masterpiece” reminded me that sometimes, there is a method to madness, order to haphazardness, and that some things, if ordered in the way I envisioned, would turn out worse than they could have been if left untouched.
  • “Revisions to a Manifesto” brought me back to my secondary school years, where I had random pieces of foolscap hiding between the leaves of the one, two, three plastic files I had for school, each peppered with random scraps of stories or phrases strung together during the day, while class went on or while I was running around the basketball court playing frisbee.
  • “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner”, rife with food, fracas, and warmth from the kitchen, made me want to recline on a sofa on the ground floor of a hotel lobby lit by warm, dim lights, and just gaze at the slowly dwindling night-time traffic.
So while I was there the whole time on the sofa, almost unmoving, I realised by the end of the movie, “Obituary”, that multiple journeys, past and present, had already been started and had since ended, while others were just beginning, a multitude of possibilities waiting to be realised, spent, and savoured; a little bit of wistfulness, a little bit of the bittersweetness of endings and a little bit of beauty seeping through the cracks and into the living room.
Watch this if you want to go on not just one but multiple journeys, and may you too gaze in wonderment as you look both forward at what is to come, and back at what has already been.


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