Where You Been

Has it really been over a week since my last post?  I’ve said repeatedly that I’m tired of apologizing for a lack of updates, but usually that’s just for a brief 2-3 day hiatus, not a week-long vanishing act.

There are several reasons for this break, I suppose, if that counts for anything:

  1. I’ve been unusually busy at work, which severely curtails my potential posting availability;
  2. I hit something of a wall last week working on music, and haven’t quite re-found my footing; and
  3. I’ve been a bit under the weather, including a bit of a headcold over the weekend and a vicious stomach bug that laid me out all day yesterday.  (My stomach is much better today, but the cold has returned; I’ll gladly take this over the reverse, though.)

GAMES:  I’ve been playing (some might say “rushing”) through GTA V‘s story mode on the PS4; I’m in the middle of setting up for the final heist.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD (Greg, please skip past this part)

Part of the reason why I’ve been rushing through it is because of this AV Club / Gameological feature about difficult choices; as far as GTA V is concerned, I have literally no memory of being faced with any particular decision (especially because in my post-complete state on the 360, everybody was still alive).  If I had to do it over, though – and I guess I do, given that I’m heading that way – I’m thinking I might pull the trigger on Michael.  As I’ve been going through this second run, I find him absolutely impossible to like.  I loathe every word that comes out of his mouth.  The “family therapy” scene is especially disgusting – I recall it being gross the first time around, and it’s arguably even more infantile and awful the second time.  I do not empathize with him at all, and I try to play as him as little as possible.

END SPOILERS

Beyond that, I’ve mostly been playing Alto’s Adventure on my iPhone – it’s an absolutely gorgeous 2D side-scrolling, snowboarding endless runner.  Obvious comparisons can be made to Ski Safari, another excellent iOS game, but its artistic flourishes recall both the sand-surfing level in Journey and the pristine environments of Monument Valley.  It’s also one of the few games that doesn’t absolutely destroy my iPhone’s battery, which is necessary these days as even just the simple act of leaving my phone turned on during my subway commute can drain the battery nearly 60% by the time I get to work.  I really need to upgrade, but I’m not eligible for Verizon’s discount until June; I’m hoping I can last until then.

MUSIC:  So, yeah – as stated above, I hit a bit of a wall, and it’s entirely possible that the thing below is what broke me.

If you can’t see it, here’s the note I wrote to accompany it:

yeah, so: this probably isn’t going to be on the upcoming album/ep – at least not sounding like this. it’s too long, it doesn’t build, it’s very noodle-y. BUT. my inner prog-rock-obsessed 15-year-old would love the hell out of this. and i might just have to figure out how to arrange it so that it can stay. (It’s not actually in 19/8 – it’s one measure of 7/8, then one of 12/8, but the only way Logic would record and not freak out was to combine it all as one.)

have done some minor tinkering to it since this demo was uploaded, and it now has a better build and a more focused structure, but I might just have to re-record the whole thing in order to get it right, and I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

I’ve also recorded some more sketches here and there, but none of them are particularly good, and on second listen a few of them appear to be subconscious re-workings of earlier sketches I’d worked on a long time ago.

I’ve said for a while that I’m treating the RPM Challenge’s commandments as more of a guideline than a rule, and to that end I’m not feeling particularly bummed that I most likely won’t meet the 10 songs / 35 minutes threshold.  Participating in the challenge was really just a way for me to kick my ass into gear, and in that respect I consider this a pretty wild success; I’ve not been this prolific or productive since I was writing songs during classes in high school.  Most importantly, I wanted to establish a routine for myself, which I’ve never really had before; I also wanted to work under circumstances where I could allow myself to record first drafts and just let them be before listening to them to death.  And I have succeeded on both counts, which is why the Challenge was worth it.

And even if I’ve hit a wall now, that doesn’t mean I’m done; I’m letting my batteries recharge and I’m getting back into the studio as soon as possible, which hopefully means tonight (I do have to finish my taxes, of course).

BOOKS:  I finished Richard Powers’ Orfeo, which is a beautiful, beautiful book that has a lot to say about music and art and science and memory and permanence and loneliness, but which also doesn’t necessarily have the strongest characters or a plot that carries any momentum.  And the ending felt… I don’t want to say forced, but it didn’t feel nearly as effortless as everything else.  I would recommend this book to lovers of 20th Century classical and avant-garde music, though, and I’d strongly recommend listening to a Spotify playlist of the music he writes about, and reading along while you do it.

I’m currently about 2/3rds through Terry Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim, which at first glance appears to be the sort of mystery/thriller you’d pick up in an airport, and which reads very much like the screenplay that will most likely be coming very soon.  It’s great fun, even if it’s not great art, and to that end I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

Weekend Recap: Awards!

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GAMES:  Last night was the 4th Annual New York Videogame Critics Circle Awards, and it was a pretty great evening all around.  I was honored and humbled to present the Best Mobile Game award with my buddy Sara Clemens of Videodame, and was personally delighted to see Threes win that category.

The other winners included:

  • Best Children’s Game:  Mario Kart 8
  • Best Handheld Game:  Hearthstone
  • Best World:  Far Cry 4
  • Best Indie Game:  Shovel Knight
  • Best Remake:  GTA V
  • Best Writing:  South Park The Stick of Truth
  • Best eSports Experience:  Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Best Music:  Transistor
  • Best Acting: Trey Parker, South Park
  • Best Game of the Year:  Wolfenstein The New Order

In other news, I’ve been super-busy with music stuff (which I’ll get to in a second), and as such I haven’t really had time to sink my teeth into Sunless Sea the way I’d hoped – I had about 15 minutes to spend with it the other day, and the only thing I can tell you is that I need a lot more than 15 minutes with it in order to get absorbed into its rhythms.  It’s a slow, methodical drone of a game, and in the right context that’s exactly the sort of thing I want to get into; I just lack that particular context at this particular moment.

So, instead, I’ve been getting back into GTA V HD, for some reason.  Maybe I’m still in Far Cry 4 first-person open world mode?  Dunno.  I’m trying to not pay attention to the characters and the dialogue, and instead I’m really just taking in the first-person perspective as much as I can.  It makes me wonder if Rockstar is going to implement this view with its other IP – specifically, I can’t help but hope that the Red Dead Redemption sequel will get this feature (and that Rockstar will also incorporate a better screenshot utility than GTA V’s smartphone).

MUSIC:  If we’re at the halfway point of the RPM Challenge, then my current tally is at 9 recordings, totaling 16 minutes.  There’s a few additional sketches that I’ve recorded but haven’t bounced or sent out to my beta listeners; and I suppose I’m cheating a little bit by including something I recorded around 2 weeks before the Challenge technically started.  This album is not going to be finished on March 1, of course, and if I’m honest with myself there’s really only 3 or 4 of these 9 recordings that I’d feel comfortable extending into fully-fledged songs.  Still – that’s a very healthy batting average, as far as my personal process is concerned, and so I’m feeling pretty good about things.

All that said, this last week was a weird one, and yet also productive.  I decided to switch gears and start recording with guitar instead of just keyboard, and while that generated some new material very quickly, it also revealed some computer problems.  To wit:  my Macbook is having difficulty recording both audio and MIDI at the same time – so, if I record guitar and then want to put down a synth track, I have to unplug everything and then restart my Mac two or three times and then hope that it decides to record the synth track.  This is certainly not an ideal way to work, but I’m still making progress nonetheless; there’s one new song in particular that I’d originally recorded several different sketches with guitars, but because of the aforementioned technical problems I decided to combine all the sketches into one take and use keyboards instead, and it sounds fucking great, and now I’m wondering if I should even bother with the guitars at all.

I’ve also started to put together some artwork, and I’m also starting to think about lyrics.  The less said about my lyric-writing process, the better; it’s never been an easy process, and considering how long it’s been since I last tried, I’m honestly a bit apprehensive.  I even started flipping through my old songwriting notebooks (and by old, I’m talking late 90s) and started adapting some of those scribblings into something workable – my lyrics were shitty back then, too, but the difference was that I wrote every single day, and now that it’s 20 years later I can maintain some level of objective distance from them, and despite their relative vapidity there are still certain phrases and concepts that stick out and might work.

BOOKS:  I’m now in the last third of Richard Powers’ Orfeo, which I think I’m enjoying.  He’s an absolutely marvelous craftsman of language; every single sentence is beautiful to read.  And the way he writes about the experience of listening to music is rather extraordinary.  The characters, however, have a tendency to feel like props instead of real people, and I’m not entirely sure I’m all that engaged with the story.  This NY Times review describes a lot of what I’m thinking, actually.  All that said, I’ve been listening to a lot of the music that’s described in the book (there’s even a few Spotify playlists that include each piece mentioned), and the experience of listening to the music as I read along with his descriptions is nothing short of exhilarating – Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Steve Reich’s Proverb, Messaien’s Quartet For the End of the World.

The New Muse is Great, Thanks

Hope this “three things” isn’t getting tiring, because I’m quite enjoying it.

MUSIC:  Yesterday I whinged a bit that being suddenly snapped out of a 4-month-long nostalgic gloom might cause my creative impulses to dissipate.*  I got home from work, ate dinner, played with my kid, kissed my wife, and then headed into the music room, and about 2 hours later I came out with something that I’m still genuinely excited about.  I haven’t been this excited about something I recorded in a very long time.  It’s not finished, of course, and I have to keep reminding myself of that; this is normally the part of the recording process where I get excited about something and then listen to the mp3 about 500 times and then everything else gets derailed, and I’m very much determined to not let that happen this time.  If anything, I’m more excited than ever to get back to the music room tonight and pick up where I left off; last night’s demo is something of a departure from how I normally work and what I normally sound like, and I really like it, and I’m really anxious to get back and make more of it.

BOOKS:  It’s possible that I was in such a good mood because I’d finished Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” on the way home from work.  (Did I really read it in less than a day?)  I’ve been a fan of Poehler since the ASSSCAT days at the old UCB theater in the late 90s; my friends and I would catch the free show (and then sometimes the paid show) every Sunday night and it was the best.  Man, I miss that comedy scene.  I was at Luna and Fez and UCB all the goddamned time, and even entertained the idea of taking improv classes (though I was still very much convinced that rock stardom was only a few gigs away).  The point is, a lot of Poehler’s early NYC days that she talked about is stuff that I might’ve been physically present for, or certainly I understood and related to her situation in my own broke-musician way.  The book itself is maybe a little uneven, in that certain sections feel a little formulaic and rushed, BUT a lot of it is really quite wonderful, and the chapter towards the end about her kids and her divorce and her trip to Haiti is fucking magical and beautiful and gorgeous and cathartic and OH GOD I WISH I WAS FRIENDS WITH HER.  Now I’m reading Richard Powers’ “Orfeo“, which I’d read quite a lot about last year, but never actually started.

GAMES:  Earlier this morning I ended up buying Sunless Sea as a present to myself for yesterday’s recording; that’ll be my post-recording wind-down process.  I also somehow managed to get The Talos Principle to start working again; every once in a while, one of my Steam games refuses to launch, and it drives me crazy.  Anyway, it decided to launch successfully, and given that I was somewhat jazzed with adrenaline after recording, I was needing something to wind down with, and Talos’s puzzles are a pleasant enough way to do that.  Solved a few rather quickly, actually, which was weird, given that I’d stopped playing around the point where some of the puzzles were breaking my brain in half.  So maybe I was just in a good thinking place, or something.  I’ll take it.

TONIGHT:  more of the same.


*  I’m not going to get into what happened; I’m just acknowledging that something did happen, and even if I’m not totally 100% certain that I, specifically, represented the punchline of a tweeted joke, I’m nevertheless taking it as a sign that it’s time to move on.

Weekend Recap: The Muse is Dead, Long Live the Muse

I was away all weekend, so there’s not necessarily much to talk about.  Although there kind of is, actually.

Let’s do the three things, though, because one of them is related to the above paragraph’s cryptic nature.

GAMES:  Nothin’.  I am kinda sorta really wanting to play Sunless Sea, even though I’m not really sure what it is or if I’d actually play it more than once.  I’m tempted to wait to pick it up after I finish recording, as a kind of reward; or perhaps pick it up in a Steam Sale, since the last few sales have been pretty barren as far as stuff being on sale that I don’t already own.

On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about Evolve, and a few things became apparent rather quickly: as much as I really liked the Left 4 Dead games, you really need a reliable group of friends to truly enjoy what they have to offer; my PS4 friends list is pretty small, and I’m honestly not sure if my XB1 friends remember who I am.  In any event, I wasn’t going to be online all that much over the next few weeks anyway (because of this music project), so by the time I made myself available, it’s entirely possible that the Evolve scene will have moved on to something else.  So I’m taking that one off the table, and instead it’s the first entry in my “Notable Omissions” column in my “2015 Games Played” spreadsheet.

BOOKS:  Finished Patton Oswalt’s “Silver Screen Fiend“, which I liked very much even if it wasn’t nearly as dark as it kept implying it would be, and which also has an absurdly long appendix listing every movie he watched in a 4-year span, and which I did not actually read all the way through.  Immediately started Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please“, because reading memoirs by my favorite comedians is a very pleasant way to spend my time.

MUSIC:  So I spent Sunday afternoon going over last week’s demos and loops, and sent them out to a very small group of interested listeners.  I like working this way, I think; I’m definitely not falling into my usual “obsess over one demo and then stop working on anything else” routine.  Unfortunately, I’m also not sure if I still like any of the stuff I recorded, either.  But these Sunday audio dumps aren’t meant to fix problems; they’re only meant for collating and sending out.  Tonight I work on new stuff, rather than obsess and ruminate over last week’s stuff.  (I know I just said that I wasn’t sure if I liked anything I sent out; that’s not 100% true.  There is one idea in particular that I want to develop some lyrics for, actually, and if anything from last week ends up making the final cut, it’ll probably be this one.)

In related news:  I just got rather violently snapped out of that melancholy funk I’ve been wandering around in for the last 4 months.  On the one hand, this is great, because that mood was rather weighty and exasperating to deal with.  On the other hand, the prolonged nature of this mood was a motivating factor in putting together this recording project’s subject matter.  I don’t necessarily believe that you have to be miserable in order to capital-C Create… but… it’s also hard to tap into an emotion that you’re no longer feeling.  In the end, though, fuck it:  I’d rather be happy.  And I am happy.  Happiness is a muse, too.

Three Things for Friday

Prologue to today’s three things:  I’ve had an incredibly stressful week, day job-wise, and yesterday was perhaps the roughest of all.  I was in no mood to make music; I kinda just wanted to play with my kid, have a drink after he went to bed, and then sleep.  On the bright side:  I did end up making music, AND I had a drink, AND I played some games and read.  But I was not in the best of ways, I guess you could say.

GAMES:  As noted above, I was in a rough mood.  I did happen to come across Patrick Klepek’s video/article about Grow Home during one of the quieter moments during yesterday’s storm, though, and that did seem to be the sort of thing that might alleviate some stress.  For those of you that don’t know – Grow Home is an experimental game that Ubisoft just announced only two weeks ago, a prototype thing that they were working on based on procedural animation techniques (and which we’ll probably see an adaptation of in the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed games, I’d bet), and in it you play as a charming little robot named B.U.D. who climbs a gigantic plant.  I was certainly charmed by it, though for some reason the game wasn’t working with my 360 controller, and so I had to use mouse/keys, which was a bit more difficult and not particularly intuitive.  Nevertheless, it was a welcome breath of fresh air; pure platforming, exploration, minor environmental puzzle solving, charming art style and sound design.  Hard to pass up for $7.

After a music session (which I’ll get to in a second), I then ended up finishing Far Cry 4; well, I saw the credits roll, at least, though I still have the very last fortress to conquer and a Golden Path epilogue to watch.  (And all the other side stuff to do, of course, none of which I will be doing.)  Kinda screwed up the ending, though.  I’ll try to talk about it in as non-spoilery a way as possible:  after the climactic battle, I was given the opportunity to confront the big baddie, and then, after a speech, I was given a choice to either do something or wait a bit longer, and because I was tired and a little impatient and perhaps somewhat distrustful, I did that thing instead of waiting, and now I kinda wish I’d waited.  I’m certainly not going to go through all 30 hours of that game again just to get the preferred outcome (I’m sure I could look it up on YouTube) and I don’t necessarily regret my course of action (as I simply didn’t care enough about the plot or the characters), but I do kinda wish I’d been a little more open to the idea of seeing what might happen.

What can I say about FC4 that I haven’t said over the last 2 weeks?  It is the same exact game as Far Cry 3 except more bland and far less risky, filled with superfluous side content that doesn’t really mean anything, some occasional, unnecessary nudity that somehow feels more obligatory than gratuitous, and a whole lot of shooting people and animals until they die.  Now that I’m more or less done with it, I’m sure that the only time I’ll ever think about it going forward will be when Far Cry 5 inevitably arrives.

MUSIC:  Again, as noted above, I was in a rough mood.  Really didn’t want to work on music; all I wanted to do was space out and relax and not be required to think.  But eventually I did relax, and realized that I owed it to myself to stick with this RPM Challenge thing and do it anyway, especially since I’d be missing tonight and tomorrow.  To that end, I decided that instead of working from scratch, I’d try to reinterpret one of my older songs that had never been given a proper recording.  This particular song is a bit tricky, given that it goes from 7/4 to 4/4 a few times; it’s also tricky in that I’d always played it on guitar, but decided this time to try it out on piano.  I only laid down one verse and chorus; I never figured out a bridge for it in the past, and in any event I’m not sure if it will make the final cut.  At the very least I’m glad to have learned how to switch time signatures in Logic.

BOOKS:  I remain flummoxed by the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy; that’s pretty much all I can say at this point.

More on the creative process, and etc.

As in my last post, three topics to discuss.

MUSIC.  It occurs to me that, as I glance down the calendar, I’m going to be losing quite a lot of recording time over the next few weeks due to being out of town on the weekends (which often involves travelling on Friday nights, too).  I’m still sticking to my plan, though; at least one loop a night, with no mixing or tweaking or editing or even listening, until Sunday evening.  On Monday night I put down 2 loops; last night I only managed 1, but I think it’s a strong one – or, at least, it probably has some potential if I sit down with it and work with it, though I won’t be doing that until Sunday.

It’s interesting to be working in this way, to just make something and then leave it alone and deliberately ignore it for a specific amount of time; it’s not how I normally work, but then again, I haven’t been this prolific in years.  (And it’s only been 2 days!)  I’m not worrying about if the loops are good or not; my only concern is that they exist.  The thing about loops is that they can be changed and extended and manipulated very easily, whereas whenever I’ve written down chord changes and verse/chorus structures and melodies and such, I have a much harder time deviating away from that script.  (Which becomes especially frustrating when I realize that I can’t accurately recreate on tape what I hear in my head, given my recording and budgeting constraints.)

As I said – I won’t be listening to any of this stuff until Sunday.  Curiously, I haven’t been listening to any other music, either, except at quiet moments at work, and those aren’t really the best conditions to really listen to anything.  I’m curious to find out what happens to my brain after Sunday’s mixdown session, though; will I start obsessively listening to these loops, and thus risk getting creatively stuck again?  Will I start listening to other music?  Will new tunes suddenly pop into my head?  I’ve been very much an empty page this week, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also created a little bit of a sense of disconnection between me and the stuff I’m recording.

It is what it is.  This is an experiment; it’s too soon to tell if it’s working or not.  I’m happy to be working on a regular basis, though, which is perhaps the best part.

BY THE WAY:  I’d mentioned in the last post that I’d had a friendly set of ears that was going to be helping me out with those Sunday mixdown sessions, and some other friends had piped up and said they wanted to lend their ears as well.  I’m inclined to let them, and you, too, if you want, though I’m probably not going to be handing these out to everyone.  Anyway, if you’re interested, let me know.

BOOKS.  Any concerns I’d had about the first two books in the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy have quickly been assuaged by book three.  There is, finally, action.  Plot!  Things moving in time!  Yes, there are still very long digressions and observational wormholes, but suddenly all these images from the first two books (described in occasionally excruciatingly tedious detail) are becoming relevant and clear and meaningful, and meanwhile the current story has a sense of momentum behind it that had been utterly lacking in the previous volumes.

I’m still highlighting passages by the dozens, though; sometimes these endless digressions contain deeply resonant feelings and ideas, and the translation is quite excellent as far as maintaining the author’s poetic prose.  There’s also this hilarious bit in Book Three, though, that is deeply ironic with regards to the narrator’s endless digressions – here he’s complaining about his boss, who also tends to ramble in tangents:

I wasn’t going to allow him to continue wandering and digressing, not on a night prolonged at his insistence; nor was I prepared to allow him to drift from an important matter to a secondary one and from there to a parenthesis, and from a parenthesis to some interpolated fact, and, as occasionally happened, never to return from his endless bifurcations, for when he started doing that, there almost always came a point when his detours ran out of road and there was only brush or sand or marsh ahead.

GAMES.  As noted before, my game playing is taking a backseat to everything else for the next few weeks.  I did one campaign mission in Far Cry 4 last night and upon its conclusion I was told that I should probably take care of any unfinished business before going to the next mission, which implies to me that I should probably finish those last 3 outposts, do that one last Fashion Week hunt, and maybe do the last 2 Shangri-La missions before finishing outright.

Weekend Recap: Today We Are All Sharks

I am, to my great relief, not nearly as hungover as I’d anticipated I’d be, and my stomach isn’t in terrible shape either; so even though the end result of the Superbowl was a bit of a disappointment, I’m more than happy to call it even.  The NYC weather, on the other hand… the less said about that, the better.

Three topics to discuss today, and which will likely serve as a preview of the month to come here at SFTC HQ.

MUSIC:  Given that yesterday was the Superbowl, and that in addition to chasing a toddler around a small apartment we were also hosting a small-ish viewing party of sorts, I have not yet started recording anything for this year’s RPM Challenge.  Tonight’s the night, however, where I do get started.  As soon as the kid goes to bed, I’m getting to work.

I’m going to try and do it differently this year than in years past – not just for the RPM Challenge, but for my creative process in general; I’m just aiming to record at least one loop every night, without judging it or revising it or mixing it or converting it to mp3.  If the loop turns into something else while I’m working on it, that’s fine, and I certainly won’t stop myself from adding sections if they’re coming naturally and organically.  But I’m more interested in working in such a way that I can make this a daily routine, rather than a chore that I struggle with.

I may or may not have talked about this before in this blog; I’m sure I’ve talked about it on my retired journals.  But my creative process is in need of a serious shake-up.  I have a tendency, when working on loops and stuff, to end up stuck; I’ll finish a loop, it’ll sound pretty neat, and so I’ll mix it and convert it to mp3 and put it on my iPhone and I’ll go around and listen to it for a few days, and then it’s all I think about, and I think about what I’ll add to it and how I’ll re-arrange it, and then I never actually do any of that stuff, and the loop ends up just the same as it was when I started it.  And then instead of going back to record the next day, I put it off and put it off and then 6 months go by and I’ve got nothing to show for it.

Instead, I’m aiming to simply record and record and record and then, every Sunday, listen back to everything and then make some sense of it.  I’ll be sending out the week’s collection to a friendly set of ears, under the caveat that everything is deliberately and necessarily raw and unfinished and underdeveloped, and this set of ears may or may not offer feedback; the feedback isn’t necessarily as important to me right now as just the idea that someone else is keeping tabs on me and making sure that the work I promised to deliver is there.  At the end of the month, if all goes well, I should have 20+ recordings and sketches of varying quality, and at that point we’ll listen to everything and see how we want to proceed.  The RPM Challenge may end on March 1, but that’s not my deadline, nor my destination; I’m mostly interested in what happens over the next 28 days, given that I’m going to be building stuff from scratch.

I was asked if there’s any particular idea behind this album I’m working on; that’s hard to say, given that I don’t yet know what I’m going to be recording.  But certainly the feelings and emotions and memories that got stirred up from my aborted NaNo attempt are still very much lingering in my brain, and I’d imagine that whatever music I end up making is going to be colored by those feelings – regardless of whether I write lyrics or not.

Unlike NaNo, though, where I was feeling incredibly intimidated by the blank page, I’m feeling very energized and psyched and ready to do this.  Unless I already have a song assembling itself in my head, I tend to work best when I’m building from scratch, and because I’m trying to produce a ton of stuff without paying attention to quality, rather than obsessing over each 45-second loop and making sure it’s perfect and then realizing that I’ve done nothing else for a month, I’m hoping that the sheer act of daily work becomes its own reward.

GAMES:  Because the music stuff is going to be taking priority for the next few weeks (and also that there’s not much coming out in February that I’m all that excited about), it’s doubtful that I’ll have much to offer in this particular area.  For whatever it’s worth, I’m around 5 or 6 story missions away from finishing Far Cry 4; I’ve hijacked every radio tower, and I’ve only got 2 or 3 more outposts to liberate; I’ve crafted every item except one, and the only side stuff I’m paying attention to are propaganda posters, death masks, and mani wheels.  It has become a pleasant grind, even as the narrative remains dumb and everything else remains silly; I’m letting it be my post-recording reward, to unwind for 45 minutes or so and slowly turn off my brain before trying to fall asleep.

BOOKS:  I finished Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 2 this morning and am anxious to start (and finish) Volume 3.  I am racing through them, but not necessarily because I’m enjoying them; rather, there are certain areas where the narrator’s digressions become painfully tedious and repetitive and ridiculous, and they don’t enrich the reading experience as much as the writer thinks they might.  That being said, there is an interesting story starting to brew, and there are frequent insightful and resonant passages that I’ve been highlighting and saving, and so I’m finding myself still invested in the trilogy as a whole, and so I certainly can’t stop reading now.  They are a hard recommendation, for sure, and my 3-out-of-5 star reviews aren’t really telling the whole story; perhaps I’ll have more to say about it when I finish this last one.

I haven’t yet decided what I’m reading next, either, though I suspect I’ll need something to cleanse the palate before diving into something heavy, so maybe it’ll be Amy Poehler’s memoir, and/or Patton Oswalt’s new book.