What’s Goin On? (What’s goin on?)

Well, here we are. It’s been a while. I had a feeling this would happen—neglecting the site, I mean. Updating is great when it’s all new, but then it becomes “work,” and if I’m being honest, time is brutal in how it extracts itself from me. I don’t have much to spare.

Still, I want to leave you with something. Entertain you, if even for a moment.

So, the novel.

I’m still working it. Still editing. I think, rather than give update breakdowns at this stage, I’ll give a simple “thumbs up” if I’m working the novel, “thumbs down” if I’ve given up. I hope I never give a thumbs down.

Novel = thumbs up. (Editing is slow and painful. And necessary.)

On to the soda-pop!

Let’s get this out of the way first. Yeah, me and my wife are watching Game of Thrones. It is insane this show is ending. The first few episodes this season had me just like the first Avengers and Infinity War movies had me. I couldn’t help that “fuck yes!” grin across my face just seeing all my favorite characters in one place at one time. My thoughts on the season as whole so far is that it is controversial for good reason. My wife and I are caught up till the most recent episode, but I want to reserve final judgement for later, maybe (probably) the end of the season.

I’m spending my reading time with Conan the Barbarian. This is pulp fantasy that was WAY ahead of its time. It’s violent, imaginative, (sexist, unfortunately,) but damn, Robert E. Howard created a cultural touchstone in everyone’s favorite savage. The writing is ferocious and terse; essentially the anti-Tolkien. Conan actually predates Lord of the Rings, though you wouldn’t guess based on style and content.

Big screen on the small screen: Lion (2016) directed by Garth Davis, is based on the true story of Saroo’s journey to find his biological family and home after being separated from them some odd 20 years ago in India as a 5 year old. Epic and vulnerable, this human story of triumph and loss is a real tear duct tickler. That means I cried. Well worth the time invested. The scope of young Saroo’s quest is mind boggling in its vastness. How terror didn’t win this kid over I don’t know, but it reminds me that being human is a terrible, wondrous thing.

The Salvation (2014) directed by Kristien Levring, pays tribute to spaghetti westerns while telling a classic revenge story with a modern flare. Even the score hearkens back to some Morricone number, meandering about the film among slightly over-saturated colors and uniquely framed camera work. Madds Mikkelson, a personal favorite of mine, is a true bad-ass in everything (like a Danish Liam Neeson.)

I’m still playing the PlayStation 1 video game Blood Omen. I’ve stuck it out this round (3rd time was a charm gosh golly!). In summary: Kain, our vampiric antihero, is tracking down the corrupted Lords of Nosgoth and slaying them one by one in order to restore balance to the world. I’m on the second Lord, Malek, and have just stormed his keep atop a snow covered plateau—a sterile castle markedly different than the first lord Nupraptor’s dungeon, which was a dank place of madness and torture.

I’m playing a new game for the PlayStation 4, as well. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest from studio FromSoftware and Hidetaka Miyazaki—the man and development team behind my [maybe] favorite games of all time (I’ve mentioned said games in a previous post, but for the uninitiated the crowning achievement is the Dark Souls trilogy). Sekiro is… hard. There’s a huge debate in gaming nerddom right now about the nature of difficulty and its necessity in gaming. FromSoftware games have always facilitated this discussion—difficulty is a trademark of their series, among many other (more valuable) qualities. What Sekiro really reminds me of, though, is that someday I won’t be able to play games like this. The finger dexterity and reaction time won’t be there. Which is fine. Getting old means you can’t always do things you once did. But the argument about difficulty—presenting itself in the form of appealing to developers, namely FromSoftware, to include an “easy mode” in their games, which to date none of them do—appeals to not just the aging gamer, but the gamer with disabilities, with time constraints, etc. And while this might not seem like a big deal, FromSoftware games are known for their richly layered stories and dynamic, beautiful environments. So, if the difficulty is a wall, the others aspects of the game can’t be enjoyed at all.

To me, an “easy mode” doesn’t take away from a game, it simply allows more people to experience it. Such is the nature of abridged, audio, or children’s versions of books as well. Or remakes of films, television adaptations of films or vice versa. Altering a work for accessibility’s sake may change the work itself, but the hope is that the greater message reaches more people. Sure, the experience may or may not lose some element of authenticity, but does that matter to the person who wouldn’t experience it at all otherwise?

Okay, what else? Oh! Before I leave you, let’s talk Walking Dead for a hot minute. Post-saviors war and Rick’s absence, I got excited about this show for like 2 episodes. Rick’s goodbye was surprisingly poignant and emotional. I didn’t think the show could carry its weight without him. But it did. In fact it got good… almost. Leading up to the reveal of the new antagonists, the Whisperers, we were led to believe the zombies were evolving. Becoming more efficient. Communicating. Which was a terrifying thought. Turns out that was just horse shit. The “changing zombies” are just another bizarre group threatening our “good guys.” In this case, a cult led by a crazy lady who forces her people to wear zombie skins and blend in with the dead. On the verge of elevating itself, the show descended back into schlock. I still love it for some reason. It’s the same way I like Arrow or Stargate Sg1. I know these things aren’t “good,” but I just love the hell out of them anyway. But for a moment, I enjoyed Walking Dead the way I used to. As something good.

Okay, enough from me. How are all of you?

I’ll try and update more, I promise. In the meantime, be good, friends.

“You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eheh”

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