Checking In From The End Of The World

Definitely thought I’d have written here earlier, but that’s what ends up happening when you’re working from home during the apocalypse; you get distracted. The kid needs to be educated in ways that do not always include a screen. The dog needs to be attended to, constantly. And any visions I had of getting wasted and playing video games and reading all day… well, that’s just not feasible. I have to ration our supplies accordingly, and I can’t just check out of parenthood and family time and work. I mean, yes I could, but then I’d be an asshole.

So: we carry on. We keep the boy entertained. We respond to work emails. We try to keep on with a routine. We drink with friends over Zoom after the boy goes to bed. We try to avoid reading the news as much as we can; I mean, it’s impossible to ignore completely, but we can impose limits. What is there that can possibly be learned from one of Trump’s press conferences, after all? Better to avoid them completely, rather than watching and inadvertently going into cardiac arrest, thus further burdening our already-crushed healthcare infrastructure.

In terms of pop culture: I have managed to avoid the Tiger King phenomenon. I mean, I know all about it, and my wife’s watched it, but that’s as much as I can possibly engage with it. I’m reading on the sly during work hours – I just finished Jess Kidd’s “Things in Jars”, which is fantastic. Given the choice between Animal Crossing and Doom Eternal, I’ve found Doom to be far more cathartic (although I think I’ve reached a difficulty spike that I may not be able to surmount), though AC has its charms.

Ultimately, I’m just trying to keep on keeping on. Staying inside is easy. Not getting on each other’s nerves is… well, we’ve got a good thing going here, and we’ve managed to avoid driving each other crazy for the most part. We decompress when we need to, and in the meantime the wife and I have an epic game of gin rummy going (first to 10K or highest point total when the quarantine is lifted, whichever comes first). My son turns 7 tomorrow. We had to cancel his birthday party, but that just means we all get to eat a little bit more cake.

I hope you’re well. Feel free to drop me a line.

Science Fiction in the Trump era

A funny thing happened to my stupid brain when Trump took office; he ruined science fiction.

Not only did he ruin science fiction for the present moment and for future works, but he’s also ruined science fiction from the past. Because no one – not Asimov, not Clarke, not Kubrick, not Banks, not le Guin, not Roddenberry – no one anticipated that the leader of the free world (i.e., the place of scientific advancement and innovation, the place that makes the ideas of sci-fi tangible and real) would be such a fucking idiot.

(Maybe PKD imagined it, but I haven’t delved into his vast oeuvre as much as I should.)

I mean, I love the Expanse novels, and I appreciate that they strive to be both entertaining and also appealing to science nerds, because they also seem attainable. They are grounded in a sense of realism, even if they’re fantastic – they are written in a way as to attempt to adhere to the known laws of physics. But they also take place in a future where we haven’t all died because of gross incompetence and stupidity.

Anyway, I bring this up because I’ve also read and watched and played through my fair share of post-pandemic apocalyptic fiction – from The Stand to Swan Song to World War Z to Station Eleven to Wanderers – and none of them operated under the pretense that the United States would be unprepared. It’s one thing to be overwhelmed by a virus; it’s another thing to be led by an idiot who thinks he’s smarter than the CDC and every other scientist on the planet.

I don’t anticipate that COVID-19 will lead to a zombie apocalypse, but if it does, you can bet your ass that it’ll be a lot dumber than The Walking Dead. Trump will say that it’s fake news, and then he’ll say that it’s Obama’s fault, and also Hillary’s emails, and then he’ll say that how bad could a bite from a zombie actually be, and then he’ll hide himself in Mar-a-Lago while tweeting on his gold-plated toilet about how his survival bunker is the best, and all you liberal snowflakes deserve what you get.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we are all gonna die, and it’s gonna be so goddamned stupid when we do.

still alive

It has been, what, 6 weeks? Since my last post?

I’ve been meaning to write here the whole time, I promise. Work gets in the way; life gets in the way; extreme anxiety and self-consciousness gets in the way. There was a time – back in the LiveJournal days – when I couldn’t go longer than a few hours between posts. This is not that time. I’ve been stressed out and anxious – more than usual – and my impulse now is to hide, rather than throwing up all over the internet.

In fact, I’ve already written this post. Slightly different context this time – this is less about getting Star Wars 9 spoiled and more about Super Tuesday results and the incredible awfulness of my bank account.

Speaking of which – because today is, of course, Super Tuesday and obviously everyone needs to have a take – here’s my wildly uninformed take about what’s going to happen today. Bernie and Biden are going to have a roughly 50/50 split in delegates – I’d be very surprised if it ends up a landslide in either direction. Bloomberg is only relevant because of his money; he’ll end up endorsing any front-runner who isn’t Bernie. Warren is, ultimately, the big question mark. If she has any success today, then she’s almost certainly a lock to stay in the race for the time being. If she ends up in 3rd place everywhere, though – which, sadly, is far more likely – then she needs to throw in the towel and endorse someone tonight, and all I’ll say about that is that I’ll be very, very disappointed if she picks Biden instead of Bernie.

OK – quick Ativan break, and then we’ll get to regular blog business.


So I introduced my almost-7-year-old son to the Portal games, and now he is obsessed. He can beat Portal 2 all by himself (he’s already done this at least twice), and he’s now started to write down ideas for what he wants to see in Portal 3 – puzzle ideas, hazards, ideas on how to retrieve Wheatley from outer space, even song lyrics for the closing credits. I’ve tried telling him repeatedly that the entire gaming world has been waiting to hear any news about Portal 3 since before he was born, and he doesn’t care. He wants to learn how to code so he can make it himself, if necessary. (I got him Dreams for the PS4 for this specific reason; he got frustrated almost immediately. Game design is not for the easily frustrated.)

As for me, gaming-wise, I’ve been tooling around with my backlog. For a while, I was doing a combo of Borderlands 3 and Rage 2, which are basically the same game. I was really enjoying most of Darksiders Genesis, right up until the final boss, who repeatedly kicks my ass. I was toying around with a full replay of The Witcher 3, except I don’t have 300 hours. I started doing a full playthrough of Diablo 3 on the Switch, because that’s actually a really nice port and being able to run a rift in about 7-8 minutes is a pleasant, mindless experience. I’m kinda sorta playing Yakuza 0, even though it feels like a jankier GTA: San Andreas.


One big thing I’ve been working on is the audiobook recording of my wife’s upcoming memoir, which we just finished recording this past weekend. Super fun project to work on, and now that I’m feeling comfortable again in a recording environment, I’m thinking I should start finishing this goddamned album I’ve been working on for 5 years. So that’s something to look forward to, assuming we don’t all succumb to coronavirus.