I’m not so sure I’m gonna bother finishing “Fire and Fury”. It’s not telling me anything that I didn’t already know; it’s just further confirming that the White House is stacked with dangerously incompetent fools, none of whom actually expected to be there in the first place. It’s also a pretty trashy read, and Wolff’s writing is pretty terrible. This is an actual sentence/paragraph from Chapter 5, entitled “Jarvanka”:
“On Friday, February 3, at breakfast at the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown, an epicenter of the swamp, Ivanka Trump, flustered, came down the stairs and entered the dining room, talking loudly on her cell phone…”
There has to be a less ridiculous way of writing that sentence, right? And he does this ALL OVER THE GODDAMNED PLACE. There are also a bunch of little typos and errors that may or may not be due to the conversion from page to e-book – who knows how these things work – and that may very well be because the publisher decided to rush this thing out the door.
In any event; it’s not breaking news that our President is a fucking lunatic. It’s just disconcerting that we now have 400 pages full of receipts. That being said, I’d like to think that this is what makes him finally collapse. The Russia story is far more important, but among Trump supporters nobody cares, and until Mueller comes out with what he’s got, it’s all breathless speculation (regardless of how many hundred-threaded tweets Seth Abramson churns out). On the other hand, Trump being a lying sack of shit who loathes everything about this job and who will backtrack on all of his promises to his supporters? That might actually carry some weight.
My wife and I have made a concerted effort to be more creative this year; or, rather, to allow ourselves some creative time during the daylight hours on Sunday. She works from 10-12 in her office; I work from 2-4 in the recording studio. I took my opportunity to blow the dust off of my MacBook and make sure that my stuff still works… and, um, it doesn’t. To be fair, my MacBook is nearly 8 years old at this point; it’s amazing the thing still turns on. But it’s not recognizing my input device, which means I can’t use MIDI, which is a big deal.
Last night we had dinner with my old bass player and his family, and I told him about my issues, and he told me that my MBox 3 is probably no longer supported – which means I can get a new input device for less than $300 and maybe that’ll solve the problem. But I’m sure that I’m gonna need to drop a couple thousand on a new computer sooner rather than later, which is disconcerting. I have no problem spending money, as you know, even when I don’t have any money to spend, but… this is a big deal.
To follow up on last week’s post, and as we are in the winter release lull, I’ve been going back through my Xbox One X library and replaying some older titles on my new fancy TV. I am sad to say that not every title gets the “enhanced” goods, or even benefits from all the new horsepower.
Now, as noted in previous posts, I feel obligated to reiterate that there are a few of these “enhanced for Xbox One X” games that really do look astounding. Wolfenstein 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Rise of the Tomb Raider are among the best-looking games I’ve ever played on a Microsoft console, and given that I played them on both new and old hardware the differences are stark and profound.
But there’s other stuff in my library that I haven’t fully put through its paces. I gave a quick look to both Titanfall 2 and Destiny 2 last night, and they both look quite good as well. Perhaps not good enough that I’m going to play them again for any significant amount of time, but still.
I’ve also been running a race or two every night in Forza 7, and that game definitely looks great (though, curiously, not as good as Forza Horizon 3 did – the trees and foliage are quite obviously 2D sprites and it can be jarring if you look too closely at them). That being said, I haven’t spent serious time with the mainline Forza games since maybe 3 or 4, so if nothing else it’s very interesting and revealing to revisit some of the tracks in 7 that I’d already run hundreds of times in those earlier games, but now in glorious 4K HDR; I get deja vu quite a lot.
But anyway, the point of this whole section here is that while some games do look quite stunning on the new hardware, not every game on the Xbox One X looks and performs better than it did on the vanilla X1.
Case in point: my son has been really into Lego Batman 3 of late, and this in turn reminds me that I very much love the Arkham games. So I’m sad to report that Batman Arkham Knight, otherwise known as the one with the endless Batmobile sections, looks like shit. Now, to be fair, Arkham Knight is not an “enhanced for Xbox One X” title, but I was still hoping to see some sort of performance improvement. Alas, it looks pretty goddamned terrible. It’s got a stable frame rate, I suppose, but it’s jaggy as all hell – and maybe it’s my TV, but it arguably looks even worse than it did on the original Xbox One.
Another case in point: Recore, which actually is an “enhanced for Xbox One X” game. I’d given it a cursory 10 minutes when I’d originally downloaded it last summer, and then promptly forgot about it. I took it for a more sincere spin this weekend, and… well… it’s not necessarily a bad game, but it does feel very archaic in its design – it feels a lot like “Baby’s Very First Open-World Action RPG” in terms of, well, everything – and the graphical improvements aren’t all that noticeable. I certainly wouldn’t point to it as a technological show-stopper. But, of course, it’s not necessarily meant to be; it is what it is. I could see myself spending some more time with it over the new few weeks; it’s pleasant and diverting enough, for the time being.
But also: Resident Evil 7, another enhanced game, looks like absolute shit. I’d rented it on PS4 last year and played the first few hours, and even on a vanilla PS4 on a regular TV it looked far better than this enhanced for Xbox One X version on a 4K HDR TV.
Basically: if the patch to upgrade your “enhanced” game is under 1GB, it’s not gonna be all that noticeable.
I already have a gigantic book backlog, but given that it’s a new year, it’s time for The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2018, and GODDAMN there’s a lot of stuff there that I need to read, like, immediately. Off the top of my head, I need:
- “Lost Empress”, by Sergio de la Pava;
- “Grist Mill Road”, by Christopher J. Yates;
- “The Afterlives”, by Thomas Pierce;
- “The Immortalists”, by Chloe Benjamin;
- “The Infinite Future”, by Tim Wirkus; and
- “The Sky is Yours”, by Chandler Klang Smith.
And I should also point out that Nick Harkaway’s “Gnomon” is coming out this week, I think, which is a book I pre-ordered as soon as it was announced. So what I’m saying is: I’ve got stuff to do.