Anti-mission statement

I haven’t been updating for two reasons. Reason one is simple enough: I’ve just been too busy. Job stuff, so I don’t really want to get into it here. But I’ve been having to put in a lot more hours lately, and it will probably be like that through June. Things already feel less chaotic now, at least.

Reason two is more complex. It’s not like I don’t have anything to share for this blog, but its subject matter has felt especially trivial in light of the national tone and the widespread protests at the moment. I’m glad I stepped away for a little bit, and even with my little platform, I think it’s important to avoid being another white, cisgendered, heterosexual man sucking up all the oxygen and attention within a space. That said, things were bad before. And bad systemic issues definitely aren’t getting solved overnight. I’ve decided I take enough joy out of writing and sharing these posts that I want to keep doing them, and I don’t think they’ll get in the way of anything important.

So, I’m not coming away with a mission statement or anything. I’m going to keep writing about what strikes my fancy within my own pop culture niches (and I’m sure that will continue to have way too much emphasis on the giants of Jurassic Park and Star Wars). I enjoy doing that, and I don’t think it hurts.

All that to say, I think I’ll be back to posting things again. I’m looking forward to that–and that’s enough for me!

What’s that in the trees?

I’ll probably have a more traditional post up tomorrow, but for today, I just want to share a screenshot I took last night in Jurassic World: Evolution with the Capture Mode feature. I’m just thrilled by how it turned out; it might be my favorite screenshot I’ve taken in the game, and it feels like it captures a lot of the mood of the franchise. I hope you like it!

tree rex

Concluding the weekend

This weekend was sort of a “project” weekend.

My wife and I were sharing one of our spare bedrooms as an office, but the size of the room and hardwood floors apparently resulted in poor sound quality for her podcast recordings, regardless of what she tried to do to improve the situation. She ended up moving to a nook in our basement, with plenty of wood panelling and carpeted flooring to apparently resolve those problems. She set it up into a nice little office space, and after a couple weeks went by, she pushed me to make “our” office my own.

So my project this Saturday was clearing out the piles of unpacked stuff and reorganizing. Finally the room looks “finished,” no longer in that transient post-move state. And I reorganized the shelves in the room, the location of my desk and office equipment, and even what sort of books were on display up there (versus in the basement with most of the books).

Saturday was also unique in that our 60-pound, year-old puppy split a toenail, requiring a semi-urgent trip to the vet to get the nail removed to the bone bed. She’s on antibiotics and pain meds now, cone secured around her neck, and being pampered. She’s doing fine. Still, it was quite eventful at the time. And weird to go to the vet during the pandemic–you drive out, call them, then they come out and get the pet from your car, and you wait in the car for another call with an update before they finally return your buddy.

Today was Mother’s Day. We made sure to call our mothers, who are in Florida, and it’s one of those days I wish we were closer. It’s a reality we’ve adjusted to at this point, several years into living in Indiana. We don’t have kids of our own, so nothing special happened in our home. I tried to mow the lawn and more or less finished the back yard before a thunderstorm raced through, drenching the ground (and pounding me with a little sleet or hail or something before the first distant rumble of thunder made me finally give up).

The evening has been spent reading and gaming today. I’m nearly finished with the Las Venturas missions in San Andreas. I had forgotten how much things slowed down toward the end. By Venturas, you’re so removed from the intimate struggles of Grove Street, and you lose most of the close interactions with family and friends from San Fierro. You just…do stuff. C.J. seems to have fun prepping for a big heist with his pal Woozy, who folds him in as a casino business partner. But I’m just itching to get back to Los Santos to bring the story home.

The book I’ve spent time with today is Children of the Jedi. It’s rather slow for a Star Wars book, although I like a lot of the ideas and themes explored. I’ve been picking slowly at it, and I’m a little anxious to finish it too and move on to some library books I’ve been sitting on.

I also just learned that I’ve missed out on a heck of a lot of story expansions to Jurassic World: Evolution, including missions that appear to cover at least alternative plots for virtually all of the movies, so I’m eager to get into that, too.

Finally, I’ve been watching a lot of TV, mostly cartoons. I’m currently rotating between Rebels, Cheers, The Simpsons, and DuckTales. I’m falling in love with Rebels all over again. And DuckTales was a Twitter mutual’s recommendation that has proven very worthwhile.

I wanted to post something for today, and so it’s been one of those rambling update posts. I’m satisfied with it though. Now to settle down and get ready for the week ahead…

Wrapping up these GTA posts

This GTA post is to say that I’m done with the GTA posts. If you were avoiding the site because you’re just annoyed by this game series (or even justifiably upset with or disturbed by it), then it should be fine to return to it after today.

I’ll still be playing San Andreas for a while. Maybe after this, I’ll get back into some of the newer games I’ve been playing or wanting to play. We’ll see. It’s also possible down the line that I might have another post or two related to San Andreas. In writing these posts, I’ve thought a little more about how GTA games–especially in Vice City and San Andreas–provide the player with the opportunity to engage in an amoral tourist trip through the life of a career criminal engaged in organized crime, but while that’s already quite artificial in concept on its own, the artificiality is further inflated both by the intense parodic nature of the games and their starting point as stories based on pop culture representations of criminals and organized crime. In other words, the portrayals of the Mafia or street gangs are about as authentic as Olive Garden. I’m not sure that there’s a full post there, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about. And I might just want to recap my experiences with San Andreas whenever I finish this playthrough. I’d be particularly interested in writing about Carl’s goofy personality or the heavy use of foreshadowing employed to communicate the true natures of Big Smoke and Ryder and to set up certain plot beats. But any such post, if it ever happens at all, is a long ways away.

For now, I’ll settle back into something more like weekly posting. And I’ll write about other things. I got whatever this past week’s set of posts represented out of my system.

Now, if you like San Andreas or have actually been reading my posts with some level of interest, I’d like to close out today’s post with a series of screenshots I’ve taken from my time in HUD-free play. Enjoy–or don’t! And stay safe out there, everyone.

A mental refresh

I was hoping to use this time of self-isolation to work more on projects. So far, it hasn’t panned out that way. I have the privilege of retaining a paying job through this crisis. And while many people are working from home, and others have to work in fairly close proximity to the public in groceries and hospitals and pharmacies, I can still come into my office, where it’s very easy to socially distance from the few other people coming in. I’m sure it would still be much better for me to stay at home, and that’s an option. I stayed home for a couple weeks while my wife and I were dealing with cold symptoms that could have been something else, just to be safe. We’re both fine, but that time of disruption to my routine was harder on me emotionally than I expected. The days bled together. Rather than being more productive, tackling more writing projects and getting more done around the house, I devolved into my worst habits from my younger years. I’ve been inactive. I’ve eaten a lot of unhealthy foods. I’ve played a lot of video games, mostly nostalgic titles for me instead of anything challenging or fresh. So many hours of video games.

I’m lucky. I could go back into work and restore my routine to some degree. I’m still more inactive than usual. Thankfully, I’ve at least avoided putting on more weight, though my weight loss goals have been derailed for the time being. But it’s amazing how that lack of a routine, even while being able to work from home, disrupted so much of my life and my mental and physical health. It took a couple days of being back at the office to realize I was bouncing back from depression.

Again, I’m so lucky to have a job and to continue to be able to meet my financial obligations. I’m lucky to work in an area in which it’s easy to social distance. I’m lucky that I don’t always have to work from home. It’s still a weird time, and I think the ramifications of this pandemic and our national response to it are affecting us all in weird and sometimes unexpected ways. This too shall pass, and while the eventual reopening of the economy and public life (probably months from now) will surely look different than our pre-coronavirus norms, it’s good to remember that things will reopen, that there will be some sort of return to normalcy. And these disruptions will be worth it in the lives saved.

For now, I’m going to go easy on myself. I hope to post on here close to regularly. I won’t expect more of myself than that. If I take on new projects, that’ll be good too, but I don’t need to demand that of myself. It’s okay.

I certainly don’t mean to downplay the suffering of so many people, from sickness and death and lost jobs and low incomes and exposure to potential harm and exacerbated anxiety in the face of an onslaught of distressing news. But it was nice to write this out and give myself a little space to vent and to reflect.

Coronavirus and conventions

I almost never comment on any real-world news on this site, but the coronavirus pandemic has a unique ability to impact some of the geek-culture calendar. We’re seeing cancellations of mass gatherings, postponements of blockbuster film productions, and delays in the release of new films.

Outside of the Internet, a lot of geek-culture community is oriented around shared public spaces (for example, the comic or hobby store) and, of course, conventions. I am sure that we will see a lot of upcoming convention cancellations. For me personally, I have a conference in May (for work) and then Gen Con at the end of July. I would not be surprised at all if either or both events are canceled or postponed.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not whining about it. I’m privileged to be able to do things like this in the first place. And if they get canceled or delayed, I certainly understand why. But it’s something I’m thinking about right now, as I imagine many others are as well.

All that said, unless I’m incredibly unlucky and both (A) catch the virus and (B) develop more than mild symptoms even at my relatively young age, I can’t imagine that this pandemic will impact my blogging or any of my nerdy activities that typically serve as fodder for these posts. If anything, having to self-quarantine in the event of developing mild symptoms might just increase my blogging output, as I’d have a lot more time to play games, read books, and watch movies–and to write about it. There are occasional advantages to having the hobbies of a loner and the temperament of an introvert.

Speaking of posts, I’m really excited to announce that my wife, Samantha, will be contributing next week’s post. It’s a fun gaming-related topic that intersects with her own interests and relates to a video game that I haven’t played. I hope you’ll enjoy it. That’s all for now!

 

Charles Dexter Ward

I do try to post something every Sunday, and not just an episode reaction. But I don’t think I’ve got anything for today, and we’re almost at the end of the day! My only note: I heard about a podcast adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and started listening to it today. It’s really quite fantastic! It’s available through BBC Sounds, and the premise is that a fictional true crime podcast begins to investigate the strange disappearance of a young man who is implicated in a gradually unraveled occult conspiracy. It’s a great update on the Lovecraft story. Episodes are available here. I’m through episode 4 at the moment.

Not sure that I’ll write on it again, but without anything else to say, I figured it was worth a shout-out.