1. I said this on Facebook late last night, and in the cold light of morning I think it still holds true: the wife and I finished True Detective S1 last night and while I don’t watch nearly enough TV to consider myself any sort of critical authority, I’d have to put it among the very top of my Top 10 favorite TV seasons ever. (I have no idea what that list looks like, by the way.) Certainly I have a much more profound respect for Matthew McConaughey than I ever did before; his performance throughout the season is nothing short of extraordinary. But also the writing, the cinematography, the sound design (sweet jesus, the sound design!), the rest of the cast… I’m not necessarily thrilled with the show’s gender politics (and I can now certainly understand why fans of the first season wanted to see two female detectives in Season 2), and maybe there’s a little too much gratuitous/unnecessary T&A (even if this is an HBO series, which apparently stands for Has Boobs, Obviously), but look: for what is ostensibly a cop show, these eight episodes make for some of the most compelling and thought-provoking experiences I’ve had in quite some time.
2. I just finished Thomas Ligotti’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer this morning, and am about to start Grimscribe, the second collection of stories in the omnibus edition. Even if I don’t find Ligotti horrifying, I find his ability to conjure the feeling of uncanny, nameless dread nothing short of breathtaking. I started reading Ligotti specifically because of his apparent influence over True Detective; now that I’ve finished Season 1, I suppose I see it a bit though not nearly as much as I expected to, if only because the Louisiana Bayou is the exact opposite of the sort of grey, misty, shapeless towns that Ligotti’s stories all seem to occupy. But certainly some of Rust Cohle’s nihilism can be traced through to Ligotti, that’s for sure. In any event, there’s one story in Songs that I simply adored (though that’s maybe not the right word for it) – seek out “Notes on the Writing of Horror: A Story”, which executes on its premise in such a fantastic way that I can’t seem to get it out of my head.
“He has failed to embody in words his semi-autobiographical sorrow, and all these games with protective names have only made it more painful. It hurts to hide his heart within pseudonyms of pseudonyms.”
3. I woke up to the news that George Martin had passed away. It’s hard for me to put my thoughts in order about it. Regardless of your thoughts on the Beatles themselves, there can be no question that Martin was the most influential producer in the history of modern music. He pioneered so many recording techniques and oversaw some of the most mind-bending sounds that had ever been heard; even now, all these years later, songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “I Am The Walrus” and the string arrangements of “Eleanor Rigby” are still mesmerizing and astonishing. A true giant, a true legend.
4. I am continuing to putter around in Far Cry Primal, though with my rental copy of The Division arriving either tonight or tomorrow, I expect FCP will be put away for a bit. I am not nearly as down on it as I expected to be, even if I find it somewhat aimless and without any narrative urgency. Indeed, FCP is one of the few instances where having so much shit on the map is actually a good thing rather than a bad thing, because I find the non-story stuff infinitely more compelling. I do like me some crafting; and while I’m not crazy about hunting, at least it’s somewhat tastefully done here. It is very easy to pick up and mess around and then put away, without feeling like I’ve lost anything. I still have no idea why this game needs the “Far Cry” tag, beyond the obvious corporate need to get the attention of gamers who might not have internet connections.
5. iOS gamers: download Train Conductor World now. Just do it. It’s free.