Don’t Try.

lost 
by Charles Bukowski

they say that hell is crowded, yet,
when you’re in hell,
you always seem to be alone.
& you can’t tell anyone when you’re in hell
or they’ll think you’re crazy
& being crazy is being in hell
& being sane is hellish too.

those who escape hell, however,
never talk about it
& nothing much bothers them after that.
I mean, things like missing a meal,
going to jail, wrecking your car,
or even the idea of death itself.

when you ask them,
“how are things?”
they’ll always answer, “fine, just fine…”

once you’ve been to hell and back,
that’s enough
it’s the greatest satisfaction known to man.

once you’ve been to hell and back,
you don’t look behind you when the floor creaks
and the sun is always up at midnight
and things like the eyes of mice
or an abandoned tire in a vancant lot
can make you smile
once you’ve been to hell and back.

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QUEST: I Know You (Got Soul)

This is not new, edited, or polished. It IS ridiculously long. It’s also not terrible, looking back. So it gets thrown up here, spoilers and all. One of the better quests of the last generation…

 

 

I have never been to the West.

I have been to the West Coast. This is something different. That is the place that, for me, a prodigal New Englander, an émigré New Yorker, was a place where suddenly the sunlight itself looked like the light in 80s sitcoms, and wine was local and delicious, and everyone’s just a bit less…pragmatic than us weather-tested Yankees.

Actually, that’s not true. I’ve been to Austin. Almost bought a cowboy hat and everything.

So why do I feel like I’ve never seen the desert? I haven’t. It’s not there in my memories, as it should be—I know what tumbleweeds and armadillos look like. I’ve felt the freakish terror of warm rain, which is as much a sign of a stranger-in-a-strange-land as anything else. But the open sky and ocean-less land is not in my heart. Probably because when I went, I stayed inside city limits and went to bars every night. I woke up and stared at the state capital from my hotel window, and not the endless expanse that I was told, was just there, outside, under the stars and away from the bright glass everything that made up that city.

And I’m told the West—the open West, the Wild West—or at least, what’s left of it, is transformative. Arresting. That you can hear your soul, or your god, or your bliss. (This by an agnostic!) But I hate relentless sun, and the absence of water even more. And then, there are the ghosts. Continue reading

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MFE.

Yep

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All This Time

What does this have to do with games? Absolutely fuckNOTHING, except the author is a dev. So there’s that.

Somewhere in the scores of Leyner-arranged words I read a decade ago is the story of a writer who is sentenced to lose–at random–one personal possession every week until there’s nothing left. He can’t replace them. He can only make do, using LPs for plates and yardsticks for hammers. The last thing removed (randomly, remember) is his typewriter. Sitting on the floor in underpants, strung out of his senses, pecking at a machine that probably had no paper and then, when that too is yanked from him…nothing. It doesn’t say—or I can’t remember—what happens next.

For me, the machine went first. It was followed by pens, paper, parchment, quills, pencils, stenographs, ink…every tool gone, my hands itchless, my mind mute. Something else rose to fill the space…gross, oily, and relentless, like the something sung about in Synchronicity II.

Other pleasures dropped away: dinners with friends. Concerts. Concerts featuring our friends. Drinks at the weekend. Movie theaters. Movies. Dinners with family. Christmas. Anniversaries. Birthdays. Lazy walks with our dogs. Necessary walks with our dogs.  Grocery shopping. Laundry. Plans, dreams, hopes, ambitions…gone, all gone, save one. One I repeated wordlessly, again and again, until it was nothing so much as the living structure of my reality, challenging the something like a bruised-but-unbowed knight.

“Well, I can do without that, there’s something else I can use…”

“Well, we did that last year, so maybe everyone will understand…”

“Well, this has to come first, I don’t need to go this time…”

“Well…”

“…well.

It’s presumptive, almost abhorrent for me to say, “This is what being a caretaker is like,” as if all our experiences are normal, standard even. In my overlapping circles of friends and families, loved ones took care of other loved ones, and I don’t know what they silently cried for, or to, in dark pre-dawns or morning brightness. Last night I looked in some of their faces and saw vastly different continents, mired in the same unwanted season.

So forgive any unintended narcissism when I say that “This is what being a caretaker was like for me.

I was confused. I was heartsick. I was terrified. I was bargaining with everything, from doctors (please save him) to bosses (please don’t take my projects) to my own pets (please stop shitting and vomiting all over the house) to myself (please just don’t lose it, not yet, not tomorrow, not next month, keep going) until, one morning, I woke from no dreams to an awful dawn with only one thought in my head:

“It’s been years.”

People told me I was strong, almost as if the invocation of the word would, spell-like, instill additional trusses and reinforcements in my spirit. Sometimes I suspected they told me that to reassure themselves, to underscore the cliché that caretakers are noble and blessed nurses, needing only air and dew to sustain them in their ongoing tasks. But they forgot the qualifier: I was strong for him.

I wasn’t so generous with myself.

And piece by piece…like sexy dates, blue hair (my pride) and new clothes, boozy concerts in rat-trap clubs where we knew everyone in the room, family dinners both awful and funny, movies both classic and terrible, a job I loved, Christmas shopping, beach days, plane flights and boring conferences and meeting friends weird, funny and wonderful…awegazing at a San Francisco skyline and giggling over New York ramen…finding the words to describe it all…it all left. In the space of my life, one solitary desire remained.

***

The sun was very bright on the car as we drove north. My brother asked me if I thought that daylight, in general, was getting stronger. Maybe because of global warming, he theorized.  We played road games and talked new music, or the lack of it. I said something thoughtless, and we were both quiet as I realized my mistake. As I looked at my brother—another caretaker—I cringed and apologized, as he patted me on the back and told me to forget it. And I told him how imperfect language was, to convey concepts both subtle and exceeding all scope. He was quiet for a minute, then spoke.

“It’s a blunt instrument, sis. It should be handled carefully. That’s why people who are good at it, people like you, should be writing.”

Later that afternoon, after the hugs and tears and cold winds of the not-yet spring, we would head back to the city. My brother would put the finishing touches on his friend’s memorial program. He would include the quote by Neil Stephenson that his friend loved: to condense fact from the vapor of nuance. In a synchronicity, I loved it too—the idea that truth surrounds us, and we need only perceive that which we refuse to see.

For now, we continued north. Sunlight was strong on our windshield and on the sleeping trees. I hadn’t responded.

“I know, man, I know.”

A hawk hovered high, in flight and yet static, suspended in silent observation above the earth.

“I just…don’t.”

 

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It Was Called A “Calash”, And It Looked Like You Were Wearing A Covered Wagon On Your Head

SPOILERS? Maybe?

In gaming, as in any other franchise, iconic is good. It’s symbolic, if not outright semiotic, of a clear message to the player/viewer/reader of a singular concept and the implication of a specific type of guaranteed experience. It could be Iron Man’s suit or Jamie’s beret, but the image that equals a hallmark is worth more than platinum in a globalized market. Why use a thousand words or more when that single precious image will suffice?

Well, sometimes…because it just doesn’t work. And the image is incongruous. And in its incongruity, it becomes distracting. And being distracting, it becomes almost all you see, until you look up and realize that you can’t pay any attention to the franchise the image was supposed to herald in the first place.

Continue reading

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The Impression That I Get

SPOILERS. Be warned.

The space bar doubles as an emery board!

I swear to Talos that this will be my last post on Dishonored, at least for a while. Consider it a credit to Arkane’s spectacular ambition that I can’t let this shit go, despite my teeth- grinding problems with the mechanics and narrative.

Becky Chambers wrote this commentary about women in Dishonored over at the always-insightful TheMarySue. In it, she asserts that the deep division between men and women in Dunwall is handled in a “justifiable” manner, one that shows consideration regarding the overt misogyny and ‘Silent Scream’ dying dreams of a subjugated gender. Most of this, Chambers argues, is through the use of The Heart, a…well, a heart, used as a kind of metal detector and all-purpose confessional, likely cut from the dying Empress’s body and wielded by Corvo as he avenges his way through the city.

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Dishonored, Deux

After the last article I figured that gender politics aside, there was still plenty left unsaid about Dishonored. No matter how much caulking (heh) I do, it’s always pretty drafty with SPOILERS in here, so grab a toasty mug of something and join me!

Like a dominatrix, Dishonored loves to reward and punish, often arbitrarily. Marketed as both a stealth and an action game, weapons, buffs and powers favor the deadly. Little can be bought or redeemed by a stealthy, noble Corvo that aids him in lowering detection or humanely incapacitating opponents.

Continue reading

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Quick Links And A Question

I’m not done furrowing my brow over Dishonored; more on that later this week. In the meantime, check out what the fine lads at RPS have to say on the matter.

In fact, nor am I done with the fine lads at RPS. This article by Jim Rossignol has kept me furrow-ing for the last few days as well, and so I ask a question to anyone who might be out  there, in the void, reading this blood-stained blog:

…did anyone ever finish Too Human?

Anyone?

Hm.

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Demi-Dishonored

Put your favorite hoodie on; it’s about to get cold and kind of icky in here. Also SPOILERY.

So, Dishonored.

Rich in lore. Crammed with goodies like teleportation and summoned rat swarms. Haunting art and NPCs with superhuman hearing. Scary masks and dead whales. What more could you want in a pseudo-mystical-speculative-fiction-alternate-world-not-quite-steampunk-political-stealth-thriller?

How about one single empowered significant female character who’s not a sex worker, maid, caretaker, mistress, kidnapped, or dead?

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Champagne, Model Ts & Yo

Papo & Yo comes out next week, as an exclusive download for the PSN. The “fantasy-adventure-puzzle-platformer” from Montreal-based Minority Games looks amazing and is attracting a ton of industry attention due to inventive gameplay and setting: a South American favela, complete with authentic regional graffiti. Creator Vander Caballero has stated that the premise is a fantastical representation of his childhood relationship with his father, who suffered from issues with addiction and unfolds in an environment markedly affected by poverty.

There’s no reason it shouldn’t be a day 1 success, and I can’t wait to play it, or watch someone else play it, given my attitude towards platformers.

Now the uncomfortable part.

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