Distraction as Action

It’s that day again, that day where I do everything I possibly can to distract myself from what today actually is. Not because I’m capital-F Forgetting, but because I can’t NOT forget. I literally work across the goddamned street from it. I had to take some anti-anxiety meds just to leave the house today and go to work. I know very well what today is, and what happened, and the truth is that I’ve had some lingering PTSD from it ever since. Like a lot of us have. I know I’m not the only one.

What I’d really like to do – what I’ve been aching to do ever since I started playing it – is to write about Control, which is thus far my Game of the Year. Two big things are keeping me from it, though; for one, I’ve hit some sort of difficulty wall where every single mission I’m playing is just a bit too difficult. For another, I want to slather my eventual write-up with screenshots, but they haven’t yet added a Photo Mode (although I believe that’s coming shortly).

Instead, let me at least link to this really good video essay about Control and Haunted Houses (with a bonus appearance by House of Leaves):

Control is the main reason why I haven’t given Gears 5 a fair shake; I’ve dabbled here and there but I don’t want to get caught up in it before getting as close to the end of Control as I can. (I peeked at a walkthrough and while I’ve still got a bunch of side missions to do, I appear to be at the end of the penultimate story mission.) Gears certainly looks gorgeous, to be sure; but again, its combat rhythm is wildly different from Control, and playing both at the same time means I will get progressively worse at each.

Oh – yeah – so my 6 year old has a youtube channel, and he would love it if you subscribed.

Domino Voss!

So the other day I wrote here about this song lyric that’s been running around in my head for the last year or so, which is really more of a neurosis than a lyric; in any event, I’ve been doing a lot more thinking about it. Hell, I even spent most of my last therapy session discussing the whole idea – because fundamentally, the idea is borne of social anxiety, though obviously a bit more intimate than that – even if the idea itself isn’t strictly limited to romantic partners. The idea of reciprocal feelings is invested in every friendship, every parent/child relationship, every long-distance internet pen pal. Do I matter to you the way you matter to me? It’s the sort of question where you might not even be able to trust the answer, if you were given one.

In any event, one of my internet pen pals posted a meme of an apologetic fuckboy, and I realized: oh shit, that’s me. She wasn’t referring to me specifically (at least, I don’t think she was), but it’s pretty much what I used to be and how I later tried to make up for it. And so now I feel even worse, because my sincere attempt at righting a wrong (or a series of wrongs, to be honest) is really just a walking cliche.

So, yeah. I don’t think I was this obnoxious, but I certainly didn’t realize that this is what my apology(ies) looked like.

I’m gonna go bang my head against the wall for a little bit, now.

busywork

Shall I continue with my usual blog template (self-aware apology for not writing, general state-of-the-world angst, and then quick rundowns of consumed media)? Do I still want to do this? Does it matter if you (whoever you are) don’t care anymore? Does anything matter? Am I writing this mostly because I need to look busy? (The answer to that last question is a HELL YES.)

I know I’ve been struggling to keep this blog going, and I know this isn’t the first time I’ve said so. It’s just that I’m now more self-conscious about it than I used to be. Back in the LiveJournal days, I was Captain Oversharing, blathering about everything and nothing and filling in the empty spaces with iPod shuffle wars and personality quizzes. But I haven’t felt comfortable doing that in quite some time. Believe me, I’m just as self-absorbed as ever; it’s just that I think I’m embarrassed about it.

Let’s just say this: my default emotional state is no longer anxious or depressed. I’m starting to get… mad. The news everywhere is making me mad. Every hour that passes without impeachment proceedings is an hour that brings me closer to a Network-level meltdown. And the problem is, you can’t really take a pill for anger. And waiting until November 2020 to vote is a looooooong time to hold on.

So, then, let’s get busy with being distracted!

BOOKS: So I’ve noticed that most of what I’ve read this year has been either collections of short stories, or Weird Horror, or collections of Weird Horror. It seems fitting, in these troubled times, to find distractions from the awfulness of the news in the nameless dread of Cthulhu. That being said, you know what else works? Humor!

The Hunger, Alma Katsu. So this is a quasi-supernatural take on the infamous Donner Party. If you’ve read Dan Simmons’ The Terror, you’ll get the idea. It’s an interesting tale, just not particularly memorable. I’d give it a solid B+.

Inspection, Josh Malerman. I didn’t read or watch Birdbox, nor do I recall why I had this on my Kindle (it might’ve been on sale?). In any event, it’s an interesting premise that’s written in a somewhat by-the-numbers prose style, and with one of the most out-of-nowhere, completely batshit insane hyper-violent endings I’ve ever read. B-.

Calypso, David Sedaris. God, I needed this. It’s been a while since I’ve read any Sedaris and this collection absolutely killed me. The “Sorry!” essay in particular is absolutely hilarious, as is the story about shopping in weird Japanese stores with his sisters. (The mental image of Amy Sedaris gently fondling a giant wooden phallus as if it were a pepper grinder in particular is one for the ages.) A.

French Exit, Patrick deWitt. This is the third deWitt novel I’ve read, and certainly it’s the most different; it’s a strange but compelling story of an elderly rich widow and her emotionally inert son, escaping a legal catastrophe in NYC and hiding out in Paris. B+.

To Rouse Leviathan, Matt Cardin. Because I can’t stay amused forever, I finally finished this mostly very impressive Ligotti-meets-Lovecraft collection and if nothing else I’m gonna keep this author on my watch list. A-.

I had started and then put down Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner; I’ve heard great things about it, and there certainly appears to be a really good book here, but some of it hit a little too close to the bone. And I’m now finally reading Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, which I think won the Pulitzer despite being a comedy? I’m about 30 minutes into it and it’s certainly well-written; we’ll see how that pans out.

GAMES: I’m all over the place, again. My Xbox One X has been having some overheating problems lately, so my replay of Red Dead 2 is going to take some time. In the meantime, though, I’ve started playing Control and GODDAMN that game is so very extremely my shit. Absolutely gorgeous, very very weird, satisfying on multiple levels – combat is a blast, but also the environment is just jaw-dropping. Brutalist architecture taken to the extreme. Hard to explain without screenshots; alas, the game didn’t ship with a photo mode, which feels especially egregious because there are images in this game – even early on – that have been permanently seared into my brain. Hopefully that’ll get patched in shortly.

That’s probably it for now; have a good Labor Day weekend, everybody. Sharpen your guillotines.