Philoquialisms Patent-free nonsense Sun, 30 Jun 2019 06:56:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 43534679 That tired Douglas Adams reference Sun, 30 Jun 2019 06:55:13 +0000 Continue reading That tired Douglas Adams reference]]> I’m rolling up my regular blog posts here.

Readership has never been high, and engagement at this point went from “low” to “nearly nonexistent” over the last six months or so. I started writing this blog mostly as a personal exercise, to make sure that the weeks didn’t go totally unmarked, and I’m still going to do that… just in a more private format.

As a strong advocate of not letting things slip down into the Memory Hole, I plan on keeping the blog software itself up-to-date and the site available. I’ll probably look into a dynamic-to-static conversion tool to make it all more lightweight, but that can come later.

I almost wrote It’s been real here, but: has it? It’s certainly been something. And maybe it will be again, some day.

Weekly status update [0073/????] Sat, 29 Jun 2019 17:51:45 +0000 Continue reading Weekly status update [0073/????]]]> My feeling is: why preamble, when I can just amble instead?

  • Books, books, books. I finished up Kate Elliott’s The Crown of Stars series yesterday. It wasn’t transformative or anything, but for 4000+ pages of fantasy foo-fraw it actually had a distinct beginning, middle, and end, with interesting characters and a setting I ended up wanting to know more about, not less. What more can you ask for, really?
  • I took a break between some of the later books in the series to read some other stuff, mainly because my brain needed a bit of a break from the setting. Election by Tom Perrotta (of The Leftovers fame) was a delightful morsel, a quick hour-and-a-half read that served as a nice palate cleanser. Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade was solid, if dark, sf. And Madeline Miller’s Circe was a fantastic follow-up to her The Song of Achilles.
  • Really, it was so good that I wrote a bit of a weird piece earlier this week about those two books. As the title suggests, it was supposed to be more of a traditional musing/review, but it ended up as… something else, I suppose, but also that thing too. Anyway. I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out, weird though it may be.
  • The time I didn’t spend reading was mostly spent finishing up my rewatch of Deadwood, which I accelerated to two episodes a day for season 3, then three episodes a day for the last two days, all so I could watch the movie. My thoughts? Said movie was an appropriate send-off for the series, or at least as much of an appropriate one as we’re ever going to get. To say much more would be spoiler-y, but I’ll note that–like real life–there are some happy endings, some unfortunate sad ones, and all the shades in between. It was all we could have asked for.
  • How many games until my thousandth Dominion game, you might ask? Forty-seven, I might say.
  • Digital gaming has mostly been board games (well, really just Dominion) recently. I played some Borderlands 2 on Thursday night, but something about the deeply insipid story and the fact that I just platinumed the first game made it fall very flat. I apparently don’t have it in me right now to go through another loot shooter. I dunno if I ever will.
  • A sad call came to me Thursday evening; one of my cousins passed away back home. Her passing was surprising but not surprising, if you know what I mean.
  • You’ll not be surprised to know, then, that I’ll be travelling back home sooner rather than later for a memorial service. I’ll know more about dates and such soon.

Today, though, I shall curl up once again with a book or two and, perhaps, make a bit of a dent on my backlog. Never fear though: there’s always more. Always more.

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Here’s a Book Thing: Madeline Miller’s Greek Myth novels Mon, 24 Jun 2019 20:42:09 +0000 Continue reading Here’s a Book Thing: Madeline Miller’s Greek Myth novels]]> I wept when I finished Circe earlier today.

Crying isn’t uncommon for me. I’ve always been a bit of a sentimentalist, but something changed in me when my father passed away, a decade past; the tears flow more now, brought on by concern or relief or love or drama. I recently brought this up with my mother, in passing, and she mentioned that she, too, noticed this change in herself, the ease with which emotion can well up within us.

And Circe is about emotion: love and hate, anger and resolve. It is about a woman who is sidelined by capital-F Fate and the uncaring gods and who refuses to succumb to that lowercase-f fate, to be nothing more than a footnote in history, lost to time and dust. She is a witch, yes, but most importantly she is a person, with agency and purpose and desires and dreams and fears.

This strikes at something that I have always found frustrating in ancient mythology. The gods are capricious, of course, horrible and random and merciless, but the explanation there is in their nature: they are without, not within, and not bound to the strictures of sensibility with which us mere mortals wish to bind our tales. First this, then that. This because of that, so obviously the other. But mortals, too, fall prey in the telling of ancient tales to whim and irrationality, betraying what we believe their true selves because the story demands the mad stroke, the ironic twist, the glorious death.

When Aphrodite spirits Paris away to the safety of Troy right as Menelaus is about to land that killing blow, we shrug: deus ex machina, the immortal saving the favored on a whim, what can we flesh and blood do but accept that breaking of the rules? But when Patroclus, calm compatriot of Achilles, tries to scale the walls of Troy in his lover’s armor, we blink and ask: why?

(Yes, I know that both of those bits come from the Iliad, not the Odyssey. We’ll get there.)

The glib answer is that it makes for an interesting story, characters acting mad when the tale needs a twist, a shock delivered to the audience huddled around a campfire or in a dining hall, to elicit that unbidden gasp, the lean forward that says: pray, dear poet, tell us more! The smarmy answer is that it’s lazy storytelling, forcing round pegs into square holes so that the outcome, the Moral of the Tale, can be reached even when the personalities involved begin to run in another direction altogether.

The sharper answer: perhaps the motivation was there all along, just waiting to be uncovered.

Madeline Miller has published two books so far. The first is The Song of Achilles, a telling of Achilles’ upbringing, rise to become the Best of the Greeks, and downfall at the hands of Paris and Apollo as told in the Iliad. Instead of telling that tale from the viewpoint of the hero, though, the book takes a much more interesting approach; we hear the tale from the mouth of Patroclus, a noble cast out from his family by an over-proud father, who comes to live with Achilles and eventually becomes his boon companion.

And lover. That their relationship is more than mere friendship is subtext-and-then-some in the Iliad, and Miller makes a smart choice here of going all in on the romance. It acts as the key to understanding much of Achilles’ behavior over the course of the story, indeed the structure of the myth itself. Why do the Greeks lay siege to the Trojans for ten years, an honestly ludicrous amount of time? Well, Achilles wants to spend more time with his lover, to spend more time living, because he knows what fate has in store for him. And when the worm turns and that love turns to ash, his madness and grief are his downfall in a way that is real and poetic and utterly devastating. I wept at the end of The Song of Achilles, too, and my heart aches just thinking about it now.

Circe does something that in some ways is even more interesting: it takes a character who exists on the edge of many myths, key to the Odyssey, of course, but also the Metamorphoses and other ancient tales, and provides her a true grounding. Rather than being an agent of Fate–which, in myth, is the same as being an agent of the storyteller–it contextualizes her existence as a woman in ancient Greece, thought of as lesser because of her nature and her meager powers but also because she committed that crime of simply being not male. Odysseus shows up, as he must, but their relationship in Circe is much more one of individuals who understand who they are and what what they should and shouldn’t do–and then do it anyway–than the necessary plot shenanigans to prepare our Stalwart Hero for the next set of horrible events that the storyteller planned to throw in his path.

And, vitally, the story is not just about Circe’s relationships with men, her intersections with those ur-myths that underlie modern Western civilizations. She is a mother, a lover, a witch, a minor goddess, and all of these are important to the tale. But she is a person, with failings and hopes and all the rest, even as the gods try to push her around on the draughts board of life. That is a part that most Greek tales reserved for men and men alone, and Miller reclaims it here.

I’ve never been able to make it all the way through either the Iliad or the Odyssey, but one of the advantages of being brought up in this modern Western era is that it’s hardly necessary. Reading this pair of books will bring you to many moments of almost forehead-slapping ah, yes, of course! obviousness when a tale ties back to a thing you knew and half forgot. The Minotaur and Daedalus and his son Icarus. Helen of Troy and Odysseus and Ariadne and Athena. The Golden Fleece, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, Jason and Medea. If the characters and references spark remembrance, then good; if not, fear not, because the tales are told well enough that it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be a Classics major to enjoy these tales about the fundamentals of what it means to be human.

And it spoils nothing to say: love, of course. Not lust, like Zeus for every beautiful thing on the planet, but love, that of a mother for their child or a young man for his best friend and lover. And that is what these tales remind us of, filled with tragedy though they are: love is what makes us who we are, and it is what endures.

And it is love–of people, of words, of the world–that makes us weep.

Footnote: I wanted, somewhere in here, to draw a parallel between these books and Tim Powers’ “hidden histories,” in that Miller’s novels act as–if you’ll forgive the punning–hidden mythstories, wrapping the somewhat ludicrous tales of the ancient gods and heroes in the format of a modern novel that makes it all feel a lot more sensible. But the write-up turned to a more lyrical and less literal bent, and it felt too jarring to throw that comparison in there. So I cheat, and hide it here at the bottom. I’m no Alexander, and this no Gordian knot, but I know a good conceit when I see it. And thus: the point made, the flow unmarred. So the story flows.

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Weekly status update [0072/????] Sat, 22 Jun 2019 05:14:22 +0000 Continue reading Weekly status update [0072/????]]]> I got nothin’ witty, so I’m not even gonna try.

  • I’m over halfway through the fourth Crown of Stars book. The pace has slowed down considerably for several reasons, but part of it is definitely series fatigue; I think this book is actually better than the third one, but at this point I’ve read something like 2000 pages in the setting over the course of a couple of weeks and it’s a bit much of a muchness. They’re library books, though, so I gotta keep crackin’.
  • I took a very short break between the third and fourth books to read Stephen King’s On Writing, which was excellent, even if it didn’t really inspire me to… well… write. Still a strong recommendation, though. (I basically read it all in one sitting, so that was nice.)
  • One of the things that distracted me from books this week: Bloodstained (the new “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with the serial numbers filed off” videogame) finally came out. I backed it on Kickstarter ages ago, and was definitely worried that it wouldn’t be any good, but… it’s fine? That said, I started playing it too soon. My save is irrevocably corrupted, apparently, thanks to them not launching the day-one patch soon enough. Ugh. I’m going to wait a couple of weeks for them to iron out some more bugs before I start over.
  • Another thing: I bumped my Deadwood viewin’ to two episodes a day, because it’s Very Good and I want to watch the movie sooner rather than later. The second season is probably one of the three best seasons of television ever produced (along with the fourth season of The Wire and, I dunno, some other season of something I can’t think of right now), and I cried like a baby at Certain Events that occur near the end. I look forward to finishing it over the next week or so.
  • A last thing: I had stopped watching BoardGameGeek’s GameNight! YouTube series, but I started back, and there are a lot of episodes to catch up on. It’s still by far the best “watch people play a board game” show on the Internet, and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re interested in seeing how a particular game plays.
  • 930+ games of Dominion

It’s late, but I haven’t even touched the book I’m reading yet today, so if you don’t mind I’m going to go and read at least fifty or so pages before I crash out. And if you do mind, well, I’m doing it anyhow.

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On “On Writing” Tue, 18 Jun 2019 22:11:40 +0000 Continue reading On “On Writing”]]> I don’t have anything I particularly want to talk about at length this week, so I’ll say this: I took a break from the fantasy doorstops to read Stephen King’s On Writing after being indirectly pointed in its direction for roughly the thousandth time. It’s good! It’s about 40% memoir and 60% writing advice, but both sections are excellent, written in a fun and engaging manner that makes the book zip past. I read the whole thing in one sitting. If you do any sort of writing–at all, really, not just prose–it’s worth the time.

(Those of you who read it will appreciate the irony of not writing even when I’m not in the mood, but given that his section on adverbs in On Writing is chock-full of them, that just means both King and I are proud members of the Hypocrite Club.)

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Weekly status update [0071/????] Sun, 16 Jun 2019 07:45:22 +0000 Continue reading Weekly status update [0071/????]]]> Yeah, the calendar says Sunday, but I haven’t gone to bed yet. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just writing this very late on Saturday night. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

  • I’m about a hundred pages from the end of the third book in Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series, a set of seven fantasy doorstops that were recommended in one of the many “ugh Game of Thrones” threads that inhabit the modern Internet. It’s fine. Nothing mind-blowing, but its take on a fantasy version of France in the Middle Ages is plenty enjoyable. Most importantly, the series is completely written and books four through seven sit right next to my chair, ready for me to pick them up.
  • I finished up Chernobyl, which was excellent. I can’t recommend the official podcast strongly enough; it’s kind of amazing to hear the writer/producer of the whole thing point out the (intentional) factual flaws that make the show a better watch, not as some kind of back-pedaling “well I had to” sort of thing but as a frank admission that the story is fundamentally too complex in some aspects to be filmed coherently.
  • A bit over halfway through the second season of Deadwood, I am constantly reminded of just how good a show it was, and how angry I’m going to be when I get to the end of the third season. I still think The Wire is better, but not by much, and together they’re the two best television shows that have ever been made. So, uh, modern HBO: what the hell happened?
  • As last week, what little time I’ve spent with videogames has almost exclusively been with Everett Kaser’s puzzle titles. I created sixty-four maps/designs for his upcoming final game, partly because I wanted to put a small stamp on his last title and partly because there was a decided lack of bite-sized puzzle designs from the other folks cranking them out. I stopped there because 64 is a nice, round number, and I don’t have it in me to do another 64 to get to the next one.
  • I did put about six hours into Dragon Quest IX for the DS today, though. It’s only because some intrepid Internet hacker set it up so that you can download all of the exclusive online-only quests again if you set your DS’ Wi-Fi up in a particular way, and I wanted to take advantage of that before it inevitably goes away. The game’s fine? It’s very much Dragon Quest, for good or ill.
  • Yesterday marked my nine hundredth logged game of Dominion. I plan on writing a long-form expansion-by-expansion review once I hit a thousand. I suppose I like it somewhat. I also participated in an impromptu game night at Fercott on Tuesday, which was nice. Roll to the Top has become my favorite roll-and-write game, and I wish it were more easily available. It seems like the sort of game that should be in every Target and Barnes & Noble in America.

Given that it’s almost 4am, I, uh, should probably get some sleep… if only to let it become Sunday for real.

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Not just one of our many toys Tue, 11 Jun 2019 19:36:56 +0000 Continue reading Not just one of our many toys]]> I hope Google Stadia crashes and burns. Hard.

For those of you not in the know, Stadia is Google’s cloud-based gaming platform. The idea is that you can take advantage of their super-powerful computers sequestered in datacenters all over the globe to stream digital delights to your TV or computer. No need for a console or high end dedicated gaming PC; as long as it can run Chrome, or is a modern Chromecast, it’ll be able to run Stadia.

There are a lot of genuine technical problems with the model. I beta-tested Stadia, and even on my desktop PC I couldn’t get consistent frame rates in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Never mind that I live less than three miles from one of their datacenters; the game would regularly hang for seconds at a time, and even when it wasn’t acting super glitchy the control lag was enough to make it feel floaty and disconnected. A large portion of the US still doesn’t have usable high-bandwidth Internet connectivity, making this sort of thing a non-starter for most rural areas.

But, no, that’s not why I want it to fail. I want it to fail because Stadia is the culmination of the “you don’t actually own the content” trend that’s been getting stronger and stronger over the years. Not only do you not own the game, you don’t even have access to the hardware the game’s running on. Once Google inevitably shuts Stadia down–and for those of you who fervently believe that this time, this time, Google won’t turn down a service prematurely: have I got a bridge in New York to sell you!–every game you “purchased” for Stadia will evaporate, turned to digital dust, never to be experienced again.

I’ve talked a bit about the Memory Hole here before. Sony and Microsoft and even Nintendo continue to move further and further away from physical media, from the ability to actually hold the thing you bought. One could make an argument that this console generation has never really had that ability, thanks to the ubiquitous nature of Day One patches; no one ever actually plays the game that’s on the disc any more, because the moment you pop it in your console downloads some 10 gigabyte patch to fix all the crap they didn’t have time to finish before the game got shipped off to mastering. I have extensive PS3 and PS4 digital libraries, and I know for a fact that some day, in the not too distant future, all of those games will simply no longer be available to me.

At least, some of them. Thanks to the hard work of emulator developers and pirates, some (but not all) of the digital storefronts have been cracked a bit, so that people can actually archive these games before they’re sacrificed to oblivion. The WiiWare store is done and dusted, which means that the excellent Rebirth series of Konami remake/reboots would be lost to the mists of time… except that pirates managed to crack it all and make them available for download. Yeah, you can tell me that we don’t have the right to those games after their market has been taken down… but I don’t care. I’m going to value preservation over corporate-mandated obsolescence every time.

It’s not just defunct systems that have this problem. Mojang, the Microsoft subsidiary that develops Minecraft, sent out a notice last week that their collaboration with Telltale Games, Minecraft: Story Mode, was going to start disappearing at the end of June. It’s not just going to become impossible to buy, which is one thing; it’s actually going to be removed from people’s libraries. The game will become an un-game, never to have existed.

That’s bullshit.

At least with my PS3 I can pull it off the network and play all of the games I’ve bought digitally, until the hardware finally fails. With Google Stadia, you can’t even do that. They control the horizontal and the vertical, the method of pay and the method of play. You are explicitly paying for ephemera when you buy a game on a cloud service, and I don’t like it one bit. One bit at all.

(Here’s where I politely remind you that, which is unfortunately part of a company that makes some pretty terrible social and business decisions at times, at least has DRM-free direct downloads for any and all games you buy from them. As long as you have a backup scheme, you can actually keep these games. What a pleasant change.)

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about this ephemeralization. Physical copies are, by and large, a mental sop more than an actual solution; most games “log in” to master servers nowadays even if they’re single-player only. And the trend only seems to be getting worse.

Time to break out the SNES, I guess?

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Weekly status update [0070/????] Sat, 08 Jun 2019 16:09:39 +0000 Continue reading Weekly status update [0070/????]]]> Readin’. Less so the writin’ and the ‘rithmatic.

  • Yeah, lots of reading. After tearing through the Eternal Sky series, I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It was fantastic, one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while. It’s a… re-telling, I guess, although without the modernization that usually implies, of Achilles’ rise and eventual fall, told from Patroclus’ point of view. A quick read-through of Wikipedia’s synopsis on the Iliad is helpful but not required. The book’s a romance, a tragedy, occasionally even a bit of a farce, but most of all just a damn fine read. Strong recommendation.
  • I also read Light of Other Stars by Erika Swyler and String City by Graham Edwards. The former feels like a mashup of a modern literary novel and sf, not quite great as either, but I enjoyed it well enough. String City is one of those books that seems like I should have loved the heck out of it–multiple dimensions, weird sf/fantasy, noir mystery–but it felt like considerably less than the sum of its parts. I was thinking last night as to why it felt that way, and the answer I came up with is that the plot felt weightless; gods and major figures die in large numbers around the main characters, but no harm ever seems to really come their way, in manners which honestly beggar belief. That’s impressive for a book with a Greek Titan in a major supporting role.
  • I’m still watching Deadwood an episode at a time; season one is nearly done. I’ve also been watching Chernobyl and listening to the official HBO podcast after each episode, with just the least one remaining now. Both are excellent, and I fully expect Chernobyl to do well in awards season this year.
  • My videogaming has been very light over the past week, with the little time I’ve spent devoted to Everett Kaser’s puzzle games. After doing a stream a couple of weeks ago where I played a puzzle or two of each of his “Sherlock series” games, I decided to explore one of the two titles in that series I don’t particularly like, Baker Street. It’s still not my favorite, but I enjoy it quite a bit more than I did just a month ago. I’ve also been doing some beta-testing of the next game Mr. Kaser is working on, which also happens to be the last one, as he plans to retire after it’s released. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a solid culmination of his work, and while it’s not my favorite I look forward to giving him money one last time.
  • Quite a bit of, along with some actual in-person boardgaming on Tuesday. We played Transatlantic, which I now feel I can comfortably place in the “very good but not great” bucket, worth playing at most once or twice a year. I like the aggressive economic system, and it feels very different from Concordia (which is my favorite Eurogame of all time) despite sharing a non-trivial amount of that game’s DNA, but it has some design and production issues that make it harder to teach and harder to enjoy than its ancient-Rome counterpart. Still, I’m glad I played it again.

I have a seven-volume door-stopper fantasy series to read now. Wish me luck!

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Here’s a book thing: The Eternal Sky series by Elizabeth Bear Sun, 02 Jun 2019 19:58:09 +0000 Continue reading Here’s a book thing: The Eternal Sky series by Elizabeth Bear]]> I find most fantasy novels tiresome. They rely on a well-worn set of tropes: the plucky village kid that’s secretly the savior of the world, the mysterious wizards making use of ill-explained magic to worm the author out of whatever poorly-written corner they get stuck in, the portents and prophecies and projections of way-too-stable fallen empires that somehow come perfectly true at just the right moment.

And yet.

I think a lot of that exhaustion comes from the repeated returns to an over-dipped well, that of traditional Western Europe. There’s only so many times that you can read about another not-quite-Arthur or almost-Jeanne d’Arc before it all becomes something of a blur. There’s quite literally a whole world of mythopoeia out there, and yet the vast majority of the stuff available in the English language leans on a tiny subset of story and culture.

In many ways, Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky series is very traditional fantasy. The first book, Range of Ghosts, starts with a young man surviving a battle he should not have survived, and if you don’t think that he’s destined to become a key figure in the battles to come you definitely haven’t read (or watched) very many things. The villain of the work all but strokes his mustache in his very first scene. And there is magic galore, dragons and rings and ancient battlefields and dark portals to lands unknown.

And yet.

Part of the series’ appeal, at least to me, is its mining of a completely different vein of mythic substrate. Ra Temur comes from a culture based on the Mongols, not the English or the French, and his obsessions are those that make sense for a child of the steppe: horses, bows, travel, clans. Other characters hail from analogues of Tibet, China, and a fascinating alternate-universe Middle East that I wish had been afforded even more detail over the relatively slim1 trilogy.

The worldbuilding is strong, evocative, and detailed in the right ways; it leaves you wanting more but mostly satisfied with the glimpses you get of this other world 2. The metaphysics is quirky–there’s a thing going on with the skies of the various nations that, honestly, turned me away from the books the first time I tried to read them, several years ago–but impressively consistent, in a manner that makes one thing of science fiction or the more rigorous works of Sanderson than the traditional high fantasy “anything goes” style.

Also appealing is the fact that these books are decidedly modern, even if the characters within are often constrained by the cultures and customs in which they find themselves trapped. It has characters and tropes that almost certainly would bring accusations of “virtue signalling” and “social justice” out the mouths of a particular class of reader… if that class of reader’s worldview could handle well-conceived stories written by gasp a woman in the first place. It also manages to swerve aggressively around several weary genre standards, even as parts of it come off as nothing but traditional; I particularly like its treatment of a One Ring-like plot device, and appreciated the pointed jabs at just how convenient it is to talk shit about empires from the enlightened distance of our egalitarian, there-are-no-problems-with-modern-democracy future.

Plus, you know, they were just flat-out solid reads, with interesting characters, complex (but not too complex) politics, and a deep sense of the right amount of mystery to both reveal and conceal. Upon finishing the third book, I was both glad of the end and left wanting more. And in this world of crappy endings, what more can you ask for?

[If you’d like a peek into the world, Strange Horizons has a short story available, set (and written) slightly earlier than the novels themselves; you can read “Love among the Talus” here.]

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Weekly status update [0069/????] Fri, 31 May 2019 18:06:54 +0000 Continue reading Weekly status update [0069/????]]]> Insert metatextual reference about inserting a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure reference here here.

  • Having finished off all of the core content in Borderlands last week, I set about getting the Platinum trophy, because I hate myself. Of course it has That One Trophy; in this case it’s actually not a hard one to get–you simply have to reach level 50–so much as it a tedious one. I had to play through about two-thirds of the game all over again on the second, more-challenging playthrough to get up to that level. Ugh. I was honestly quite surprised, looking at trophy counts, that it was far from the most rare trophy; I guess people like grinding through the same game multiple times? Anyway: done and dusted and trophies are still the worst.
  • No more Borderlands most nights means my time has been spent elsewhere. I’ve been doing my best to transfer it to books, because I’m in danger of having another “bring a bunch of unread titles back to the library because I can’t catch up” moment, but the awful McDevitt books were slowing me down there for a while. Thankfully I powered through them and am now most of the way through Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts, a fantasy novel I bounced hard off once before but decided to give another shot. And I’m glad I did, because it’s actually quite excellent. I’ll be finishing that up today and moving on to the second and third books in the trilogy post-haste. The book I read in between, Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan, was also quite good.
  • The ugh-factor of Starhawk and The Last Sunset prompted me to write a piece about long-running series earlier this week, which in retrospect comes off mostly as an “old man yells at cloud” bit. Not that I disagree with anything I said there, but, y’know, still.
  • Quite a bit of scattered throughout the week, along with Real Actual In-Person Gaming on Sunday night, thanks to Chris and Jenna inviting me over for dinner and tabletopping. (Shut up, Chrome spell-checker, that’s totally a word.) I’ve had BattleCON: War of Indines on my brain for weeks now; I honestly think it’s my favorite 2p game of all time, and wanted to show it off. Jenna seemed to enjoy it, even though it is quite overwhelming the first few times you play. We also really enjoyed a couple of games of Roll to the Top, a super-easy roll-and-write game with just enough strategic oomph to be worth playing. A game of Hanabi didn’t go great, Race for the Galaxy was interesting and challenging as always, and there was an absolutely bonkers game of Dominion where I almost cracked 100VP in a non-artificial setting and without Colonies and Platinum. Woof. Great game night all around: excellent food, company, and experiences.
  • I finished watching Origin on YouTube Premium, which was solid but not amazing, and started rewatching Deadwood in anticipation of the movie this evening. I’m nowhere near done with that rewatch, but I’m also not in the biggest hurry either. My original watch was very binge-y, and sipping at it slowly over the next couple of weeks will–I hope–make the movie that much sweeter to watch.
  • After being a GoodBoye on my diet for several weeks I fell off the wagon hard for a couple of days… but have managed to right myself and am back on track (and actually better off than before) already. I’m still not down to where I was immediately before those gall bladder attacks, but I should be getting there soonish. I hope.

It’s ugly wind and rain here today, which seems like a perfect excuse to curl back up with a book. And so I shall!

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