Bang bang: a gaming update

It’s been a while since I wrote something about what I’ve been playing. I know, world with bated breath and all that. I ploughed through a bunch of games in a row until the actual half-arsed reviewing I do had added up to a sizeable amount, and not doing it seemed to encourage more stress than actually sitting down and giving it a go.

Hard at work. Also, bein’ green.

So here, however belated, is my Examination Of What I’ve Been Playing Lately. I would’ve had it done earlier, but the cat ate my homework.   (more…)

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Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 6

Akira, Vol. 6Akira, Vol. 6 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

So. The final volume of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira has rolled around on supercharged wheels. It’s carrying some kind of monster thing that I think was a kid once. There’s carpet bombing and from-orbit lasers. There’s annihilation and birth; grotesqueries of form and the simplicity of connection. There’s death, and there’s life.

There’s also a fair chance that for a reasonable part of the work, it’ll feel like you have no idea what the fuck is going on. But that’s ok, because the ending to this tale of conspiratorial struggles to contain universe-warping power really wants to remind you of one thing: everything comes down to the friends you make along the way.

I know, right?

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Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 5

Akira, Vol. 5Akira, Vol. 5 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So here we are, the penultimate Akira trade. Though there’s plenty of action, it can reasonably be said that this is the calm before the storm. Characters reappear and regroup, and the progression of both political jockeying and methods of government contingency ‘management’ is marked.

BUT. There’s still a lot of batshittery in here. I mean, did you ever gather in an arena with your raggedy-arse compatriots to watch the moon explode? Well?

Me neither, kid. 

Thought so. (more…)

Goodreads review: Akira, Vol. 4

Akira, Vol. 4Akira, Vol. 4 by Katsuhiro Otomo.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

So when you’ve blown up one of the world’s biggest cities (again), what’s the natural progression?

Tax reform? Socialised medicine? Increased endowment to the arts? Start again based on Enlightenment principles?

No face! Just like Jesus in those creepy bibles we had at school.

Or elect an incredibly powerful kid as leader and feed drugs to refugees? Sure, why not.

(It’s working out as well as you’d expect.)
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Goodreads review: The Night Ocean

The Night OceanThe Night Ocean by Paul La Farge.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Remember ole H.P. Lovecraft? He’s the guy who’s incredibly influential – cosmic horror as we know it really came about because of him – despite being a faintly awful writer. I mean it: I dig a lot of his work, but his writing is stilted and often ludicrous.

The worst mistake you can make, Kroeber taught, is to see another person through the lens of your prejudices. And the second-worst mistake is to think you aren’t looking through the lens of your prejudices.

As befits a misanthropic nihilist, he was also pretty mad racist – and not a lover of jazz – though to mention this seems to attract its fair share of pitchforks. (This is a pretty great article, now deleted, about the topic.) (more…)

Goodreads review: The Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander

The Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline AlexanderThe Iliad: A New Translation by Caroline Alexander by Homer and Caroline Alexander.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I know, I know. Only four stars. But it’s a classic! But it’s important! But it’s stuck around a lot longer than you have!

All of these things are true. And it’s really difficult to think of many reasons to not give the thing five stars, because when it comes to widescreen stories, Homeric narration is pretty much in a league of its own.

But.

The Iliad is, for all its importance, still something that would, if written in straight prose today, be interesting, but also strongly in need of an edit.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 8.30.44 pm

Fucking heralds, man. 

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So here’s something.

By ‘something’ I mean a tune.

A group I’m part of on Facebook wanted to make an album of vaguely game-related songs. The idea was you had to write it in a week or so. Obviously I’m not very organised. So, this is a track I came up with in an afternoon.

Most of that afternoon was spent dicking around with Logic Pro X in an attempt to figure out how to make it actually record things. So it’s not a particularly brilliantly inventive tune, but it’s vaguely spaghetti western in feel, largely because I was playing a fair bit of Red Dead Redemption (of which, more later) at the time.

Yes, there’s about three chords.
Yes, it’s a baritone guitar.
No, I can’t really play.

But at least now I know I can record my abilities, so that’s something, eh?

Goodreads review: Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Amy's Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do It Right and Be Polite!Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan: Do It Right and Be Polite! by Amy Chavez and Jun Hazuki.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

A quick review for a quick read: it’s useful, charming, and you won’t go wrong if you get it.

Slightly longer: I’ve been to Japan a couple of times now and so am probably not the intended audience for this book. I had picked up a lot of what’s described within by osmosis – I travelled there initially as a performer in a taiko group, after all – but gee, it would’ve been great to have this as a fast guide to Not Sucking.
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Movin’ on from Mubi

So, I’ve just cancelled my subscription to Mubi, the online streaming service that specialises in arthouse and foreign film. I’m a bit sad about leaving, as I’ve discovered some really good things on there – and been made to watch things I’d always meant to get around to – but increasingly I’ve been viewing it with more side-eye than anticipation. I’d like to say that the decision to exit was purely financial – there’s a house being built, after all – but it’s not quite that simple.

CHRIST NOT MORE CHRIS FUCKING MARKER.

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Goodreads review: Journey to the Centre of The Cramps

Journey to the Centre Of The CrampsJourney to the Centre Of The Cramps by Dick Porter.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

So you should all know that Erick Purkhiser and Kirsty Wallace – or Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, to give them the names by which the world most readily identifies them – were The Cramps. You know: the band that invented the term psychobilly (even if they didn’t think they had much in common with the double-bass music that ploughs that furrow today), who were often written off as a novelty act (because monsters) and who were stalwart protectors and exponents of the history and primacy of rock and roll.

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