Tag: thomas ligotti

Greatness in all forms

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.

 

friday lists: distraction edition

Games I Should Be Playing, Apparently, According to Twitter:

  1. Undertale, which is somehow already old news thanks to
  2. Stardew Valley.

To be fair to both of these games, it’s not their fault.  It’s mine.  I have a PC that’s barely holding itself together, and I’m also missing the part of my childhood that has any nostalgia for retro graphics and/or Harvest Moon.*   (This is also why I’m finding myself somewhat immune to the charms of the (currently free for PS+ members) Broforce.)

Games I’m Playing, Not Quite Begrudgingly, But Mostly Just Because They’re There:

  1. Far Cry Primal.  It’s not bad!  And while it’s more or less the same game as the last two, I find that I do prefer the emphasis on stealth.  And certainly ever since Elder Scrolls: Oblivion I’ve always found myself in open-world RPGs gathering plants obsessively, and it’s nice to finally have a real, legitimately important use of them.  Do I care about what I’m doing?  No, but that’s never really stopped me before, as far as Far Cry games go.  Will I finish the game?  Probably not, since The Division is coming next week.
  2. Train Conductor World, which just hit iOS this week and is the third (and best) iteration of the Train Conductor formula.  Also, I’ve been using it as a negotiating ploy with my son; if he stays in bed, he gets to play it on my iPad in the morning.  (He is obsessed with trains.)  (He is also getting somewhat better about staying in bed.)

Books I’m Currently Reading:

  1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra, which has been on my to-do list for a while.  The problem is, I’m not really in the mood for it right now; I do want to get to it, but I’m finding myself unwilling to stay with it.  So I’m putting it aside for the moment and instead I’m reading
  2. Songs of a Dead Dreamer / Grimscribe, by Thomas Ligotti, which is ABSOLUTELY my speed right now.  Why is my current speed that of super-creepy dread that gets under my skin and stays there all day?  I don’t know, but it’s what’s happening.  I’d previously read Ligotti’s Teatro Grottesco, which was similarly creepy and dreadful; I’m still in the beginning of this collection but I’m ready to say that it’s far superior already, for whatever that’s worth.

Things I’m Currently In Denial About:

  1. that there’s $11 in my checking account
  2. the Republican party
  3. that I’ve had Cookie Clicker running in my browser for two weeks
  4. that I’m still no closer to getting my album done, even though I’m taking off a week from work in early April with the specific purpose of finally finishing this goddamned thing
  5. the impending NJ Transit strike

(Normally I’m very much pro-union, and I hate Chris Christie with the fire of a thousand suns, and if Christie is the sort of shitbag who’s willing to fuck up the George Washington Bridge just out of spite, I have little to no faith that he’s going to be a reasonable negotiator at these talks.  That being said, have you ridden NJ Transit lately?  It’s a fucking joke.  The morning train has been overcrowded and inexplicably late all week this week, and Penn Station during the evening rush is the living embodiment of a panic attack, and I only wish it were possible for me to work from home.  It is literally impossible for me to work from home.)

 


* I know I’ve said this before, but if you’re just joining us for the first time, I went from the Atari 2600 to my younger brother’s Sega Genesis, and then only had cursory knowledge of the PS1, and my first console that I bought with my own money was the Dreamcast.  Actually, that’s not even true; the Dreamcast was a birthday gift from an ex-girlfriend.

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Failure, And Moving On

I turn 39 on Monday.  And as such, I’m feeling particularly reflective and ruminative today, with all the attendant melancholy that such navel-gazing generally brings.

This is probably as good a time as any to mention that I failed this year’s NaNoWriMo, and it was a pretty spectacular failure – I think I topped out at just under 7,000 words.  What started as a memoir-ish chronicle of a person I used to know ended up with a deep dive into my college journal and an inadvertent re-opening of a lot of old wounds that I thought I’d closed, and so I’m in this weird paralytic state where I can’t finish the project because I desperately want to reach out to people that I’ve lost, all the while knowing that some of those people probably don’t want anything to do with me.

I was emailing with an old friend yesterday about this:

I get hung up on a lot of stuff in my past, which sucks, because aside from [one specific thing that I’m redacting for purposes of this public blog] I’m very much in love with my present.  But the thing is, I still recognize a lot of my darker moments in my journal, and that’s the part that’s disconcerting, because it would appear that I haven’t changed nearly as much as I think I have.

So anyway, there’s that.


On the gaming front, this weekend is primarily focused on progressing through Dragon Age Inquisition, and I suspect that’ll be the case until I’m done with it.  If I need a break, I’ll go back to Assassin’s Creed Unity, because (a) I hate myself and (b) I’m almost done with the campaign.


On the TV front – and yes, every once a while I watch TV – the wife and I watched the first two episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix last night, and holy shit that show is incredible.  The Brits know how to make really good TV, people, that’s the lesson to be learned here.


I finished reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven last night; I liked it, but it was the third post-apocalyptic novel I’d read in a row, and so as such I was probably a little burned out on the subject matter.  I’ve since started Thomas Ligotti’s Teatro Grottesco, which is really creepy and unnerving and good.  I came across his name the other day in a piece about True Detective and plagiarism; I haven’t watched the show but I’d obviously heard a lot about it, and Ligotti’s work is cited quite often as a direct influence on the show.  So I figured, hey, why not.


I’m not necessarily done with this just yet, but I figure I might as well start putting it out – here’s my Favorite Songs of 2014 playlist.

[spotify https://play.spotify.com/user/jervonyc/playlist/1qUgxbGW7oZehDejNwFsUk]