Resolution 2016.1: Blog More.
To make this easier, I’m going to try to stop waiting “until the stars are right” to make a blog post, and that includes that I’ll stop waiting until I have a fascinating topic. Loads of internet folks have huge followings just for consuming media and pontificating on it publicly, and while I doubt I’ll achieve any such following, I can do one better: I don’t just consume stuff and pontificate on it, an alchemical process in my brain cave turns stuff into game content. This is happening constantly, so there’s no need for a special occasion to “blog” upon. That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, maybe this will be a one-off or a very occasional thing.
Ok, let’s go!
The Simpsons: Is there any doubt in anyone’s minds that this is the greatest American comedy program ever made? Almost 30 seasons at my fingertips means countless hours of binging. I always have this on in the background even if I’m not watching it: it’s comforting to me. I don’t really like Season 25 and on: it’s not the quality of the episodes, which is eh (debatable), it’s that seeing the Simpsons talk about smart phones and twitter makes me feel like I’m living in a parallel dimension. I remember too vividly when the family couldn’t afford cable. Season 10 and earlier are pure comfort food for the troubled mind and the quality of the next 6-8 seasons is surprisingly high too. The mix feels a bit off in the Season 18-Season 22 range, like maybe the cynicism is a bit too high. This bears further investigation.
Fargo: I watched the entire first season (amazing, my favorite part was all the subtle and not-so-subtle hints that Malvo was not even human, and when we saw the wolf in the finale I exclaimed half-ironically “It’s Malvo! He’s taken wolf-form!”) and now I’m slow-crawling my way through the second. It’s definitely entertaining, but I’m not convinced yet it’s of the caliber of the first season, I’m giving it a fair shake. I’m definitely wondering what the fuck is going on with these UFOs.
Oh, the whole “rain of fishes” thing in Season 1 really messed with me, because like an unthinking dolt I actually believed that the series–and the movie it was following on–was “based on a true story”. Then I reread those ponderous opening captions more closely. “This is a true story”…no, it fucking isn’t…very, very tricksy.
Parasyte: The Maxim: I’m not a big fan of anime in general (although I have watched a TON of it over the years) but I can’t recommend this series strongly enough. Like the manga it’s based on, it hooks with black humor (VERY black humor) and body horror but over the 24 episode run it morphs into something very different…almost like a very philosophical and very dark “boy and his dog” story. It’s chock-full of fascinating characters, interesting philosophical underpinnings, and cool gory tentacle fights.
Oh Yeah: Like everyone else, I saw the new Star Wars. It was alright. I’m not a Star Wars fan and I never have been, so in that sense my opinion doesn’t really matter. But…I can’t deny that it’s a good film. It’s just so formulaic and so manufactured…it is exactly what needed to be made to erase the “old shame” of the godawful prequels and make the franchise economically viable. But however deftly it accomplishes its goals as a piece of commercial entertainment, it also seems totally uninterested in being art, which is why it’s no surprise that it isn’t.
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker: I was looking for this one for a while before I got it for Christmas. I’m not sure if it was actually hard to find or if I just wasn’t looking that hard. Anyway, I was hoping it would add some insight to the movie it inspired, “Hellraiser”, which is a solid flick (unlike its many sub-par sequels) but I thought might have suffered a bit for having been made at the time it was made at (the 80s) with the budget it was made with (not a whole heck of a lot). I was particularly hoping for some more insight about the Cenobites, AKA the Theologians of the Gash (what a phrase!). Anyway, no luck there. The Hellbound Heart is an excellent novella and “Hellraiser” is a very faithful adaptation by its author. About the biggest change I spotted was that Kirsty seems to just be a friend of Rory’s rather than his daughter, like she is in the film version. The novella ends just as abruptly as the movie, if not moreso.
Sandman: Overture: Neil Gaiman wrote a new Sandman storyline for the first time in two decades. Did you know that was a thing? I didn’t but then I got it for Christmas out of nowhere. Now you know it is a thing. It’s a prequel. Go read it. Anyway, to my surprise, while I wouldn’t for a second have read it if Gaiman’s name wasn’t attached, the words really weren’t the big deal here. This is the prettiest comic book I have ever seen by a huge margin. I am not a big art guy as a rule, but the art is BEYOND amazing. I would describe it without irony as hypnotic. This is a picturebook that any adult could stare at for hours.
The Dying Earth by Jack Vance: So I finally got a copy of this. I’m only about ten pages in, but damn. Did you know this Jack Vance guy invented “Vancian casting”? That’s the magic system that Gary Gygax chose for Dungeons & Dragons, and which has been wedded to the game ever since. The idea that wizards memorize a certain number of spells which they then cast and then “forget”? That comes DIRECTLY from here. Pretty cool, right? That’s why I wanted to read it. Anyway, as I said I’ve barely got a toe in and shit is crazy. Everyone is a wizard and a high level wizard and one guy’s brain can know about four spells at a time and another guy’s brain can know about four or like six if he takes kind of crappy ones and everyone is making ladies in vats because I mean why not and some of the ladies are defective and kill the other vat-ladies and they’re like “oh shit gotta make more ladies cause we’re wizards and that’s what you do” and the shit is just nuts. I’m only like 15 pages in and we’re already at like…peak wizard. Or if we’re not…damn.
Thing I just learned: Vecna is an anagram of this guy’s name. I mean holy shit, you guys.
Currently NOT Playing Fallout 4: I abruptly stopped playing this about three weeks ago for no particular reason. I didn’t finish it, I had four characters in various factions of various builds at various levels of progress and I was having a grand old time. Then, suddenly, I lost all interest in continuing, like the bottom fell out. It could be burn-out, I guess, but I don’t feel burnt-out. What’s going on here? Am I going to die?
Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup: Roguelikes are a perennial obsession of mine, and DCSS is the greatest roguelike I have ever played. I am not sure if it is THAT hard or I am THAT bad at it or some combination of the two, but I’ve been playing this game on and off since at least…2012…2011?…earlier? More off than on, sure, but still logged at least a couple hours. Now don’t laugh, but I finally got my very first rune of zot…yesterday. (I’m playing a MiFi for those in the know. Apparently, MiFi is the “master race” based on the results of the 2015 Crawl tournament: Minotaurs and Fighters scored by far the most ascensions.) Cataclysm: DDA is still amazing and Dwarf Fortress is still crack, but DCSS is definitely the “traditional” Roguelike for me. I tried Nethack and I definitely was not able to ‘hack’ it.
Anyway DCSS has somehow taken over from my Fallout 4 as my primary timewaster instead of more like a cofeebreak kinda time-waster, which is astonishing. How does this happen. How does a $0 game with graphics that would not have impressed in the year 1990 take away my attention from a $60.00 cutting edge AAA Bethesda game? I don’t get it.
Halo 5: Guardians: Late to the party on this one, just got an XBone. The lack of couch co-op is fucking UNCONSCIONABLE and I hate that I’m playing this because I do not want to support that kind of shitty and awful design decision but I’m too much of a junkie for the ongoing story of Master Chef and his quest to serve the galaxy cuisine. Anyway, not done yet, but I just want to say that Cortana “turning evil” is a plot point I have been feverishly awaiting since the trailers for Halo 3 like circa 2007 or earlier.
For all you kooky kids who think that “tabletop games” means board games, when I say/hear “tabletop games”, I mean/think “tabletop roleplaying games”.
HERO System 5E: Sleep No More Season 2: This is a horror campaign I am GMing heavily influenced by Call of Cthulhu and even more heavily influenced by Delta Green, although there are other influences mixed in to create what I hope is a uniquely intense horror melange. Intensity is the byword of this campaign. This campaign has been going strong since around late August/early September, and six more sessions are planned before the “season” ends. The first Season of Sleep No More was played back in 2011: this second season has been set in the same universe, but a different part of it, and no PCs have directly carried over.
Singularity System: Systems Malfunction currently exists only in the form of a Singularity System tabletop campaign (but this should change in the future!). Mikaela is GMing and I am PCing: my PC is the captain of a stealth courier ship and we’re adventuring across the galaxy for profit, making enemies left and right! Sessions have been kind of far-flung and scattershot so far, so I’m hoping the schedule will tighten up going forward.
Dungeons & Dragons: I was supposed to be playing online in a 5E campaign but it seems to have fallen through, so I have been running some 3.5 dungeon crawling action for Mikaela as a solo campaign, heavily informed by item two in the above category. Playing with some fun house rules and custom tables, partially made up as I go along, which is not what I usually do, and which has been pretty fun.
Psychic Warfare by Clutch is an unbelievably kick-ass rock and roll album by a mind blowingly awesome band that just seems to keep churning them out like clockwork.
“Firebirds! Energy weapons!
Both of these things are interesting to me!
I don’t care how you get them
I need them both and I need them urgently!”
Who could possibly disagree?