Halloween Season Starts NOW

silhouette of trees during red moon

Decided to make myself go for a walk today whilst New England pissed rain. it wasn’t too bad and food needed to be had. Spotify decided to play Ministry’s excellent Every Day Is Halloween.

It’s September 1 and while we still have 21 more days of summer, damnit, it is most decidedly the spooky Halloween season. I fought the impulse for as long as I could, but as of now it begins.

Horror movies will be watched, dark beers will be had, and general magic will be in the air. The spring is always an empowering time for me, but this time of year feels like coming home. I think I need a little of that right now.

Hades

So last week I was reading like a fend. I think I plowed through something like eight books, and the only thing that stopped that run was Hades, which is a video game I downloaded on a lark.

It’s captured my imagination. The premise is you’re Hades’ son who’s trying to break out of the Underworld. Each time you die, you have have start over but not before you go back home to be chided by your dad.

I’m a big fan of the gameplay loop of Roguelites – you play the same randomly generated map over and over while unlocking things for your character that makes them more powerful on subsequent runs. This allow you to feel a sense of progression even though you are going through roughly the same areas over and over again.

It’s been done before but the it’s the presentation that makes this game great. Instead of looking like art the greeks would have made, which is almost the default aesthetic whenever the Greek Gods are involved, Hades opts for more whimsical, hard rock album look. (I didn’t say Heavy Metal album as that has a more dower tone then the art in here ever gets to, but the imagery would be at home on a Led Zeppelin album.)

Speaking of music, it’s really good. Just hard enough to get feeling of high concept prog rock without going full bore into pastiche.

That edge is in everything including the writing. It never gives into the inherent darkness but it never lets you forget that’s just around the corner for these characters.

In the interest of full discloser, I should point out that I love Greek Mythology. I was the kid in highschool who had a copy of Graves Mythology in his book bag where other kids had Lord Of The Rings. Hell, I just finished a four year Dungeons and Dragons campaign, where I used the Greek pantheon instead of anything in the D&D source books.

So I’m always a little trepidatious when someone is using that pantheon as I’m always afraid they will portray them as being austere, which was never the point of them. They represent human interactions with cosmic forces and should readily show our human foibles. Luckily, Hades does this with style. The characters have wit and charm and the player is never allowed to forget that most of these people are family with some serious dysfunctions that they are trying to rise above.

And there’s a Gorgon that total has the crush on the player character and she’s too precious for this world and if her heart gets broken I’m going to rage quit.

TL;DR: The game’s well made and a lot of fun, and I’m here for it.

Pax Romana

Pax Romana Cover

Finally pulled this out of storage and read it. I’ve been a Johnathan Hickman fan for a long while. Not that I’ve read everything he’s ever written, but I like his creator owned work. I like these weird little glimpses into this mind.

When he first hit the scene, everyone thought he was going to usher in a sea change in comics like the English did in the 80’s. At least, I did. Sadly, there remains no on like Hickman. His eye for graphic design remains his own. I really wish more creators in comics would just splash and infographic laying out who everyone is and how they fit together as an organization. The little details Hickman cares about are always going to be fascinating to me.

That said, with Pax Romana I was able to finally see the theme binding a lot of his work: Hickman is mainly interested with the raise and fall of empires. In Pax Romana this is literal. People from the future go back to the Roman era to overthrow the budding empire and impose their own. But this is also present in The Nightly News where the entire concept of organized news is toppled.

It’s one of those things, that once you see it, you can’t unsee it, but I don’t think it’s going to detract from my enjoyment of any of this work.

8.31.21

So it would seem that any algorithmic traffic that was coming from Facebook has stopped. According to WordPress, I haven’t had a page view in a few days. That’s okay because that’s not why I do this. In fact, I didn’t even have a way to track views for the first year that I ran this version of the blog.

I do this to have a public facing record of what I’m up to in case anyone who knows me is interested. And so that I know what’s been going on when I look back over it.

The Weekend

Going to be taking it easy this weekend. Had kind of a stressful week for reasons I don’t feel like writing about. I’m taking the rest of the weekend off. So there won’t be any more posts from me until afterwards.

See y’all on Monday.

Another Reading Day

assorted book lot

looked at my “to read” shelf and decided to crank through some books. Trying not to look at too many computers today. Been getting over loaded. Reading books with pages that don’t plug in.

(But I probably will be putting my Kindle on charge.)

Can be reached at the normal communication lines if you must.

Sandman Reread, part 3

When I was a little kid, my favorite superhero was Superman. I saw the Christopher Reeves Superman when I was about five and I believed a man could fly. I have found memories of running around my grandparents’ house with a great uncle who would pick me up in the air and yell, “It’s Superman!” as the cape on my pajamas would flap in the wind.

As I grew older, I started to identify more with Batman. (I, too, have had an emotion. Time to get dark and brood.) But you never forget your first.

However, as the films, TV shows, and comics went on, good Superman stories became rarer and rarer. A common, almost canonized, wisdom has sprung up around the character: “It’s difficult to make good Superman stories because he’s too powerful.”

After reading over 500 pages of comics concerning a character that has powers beyond that of most gods, I can assure you that the reason their are so few good Superman stories has nothing to do with the fact that he can punch dudes really hard.

Finished the first Deluxe Edition of The Sandman today. It’s held up solidly, but I’m not going to pretend that nostalgia isn’t dripping from every page. There’s great care in the storytelling, but I can’t stop myself from getting giddy over each new character introduction because of how great they are going to be.

It also got be thinking how much this series lives and dies on its supporting cast, both to be interesting, and to flesh out the world. For example there’s a character named Hob who sort of just gives up on the whole getting old and dying thing. (Reasonable thing to do, but for some reason I totally forgot about him.) Now that’s a cool character thing but Gaiman uses him to tell us the things in the last five hundred years that are important to not just the story but to Dream as we are given his reactions when Hob talks about what he’s been up to.

Smart constructions like that are one of the reasons I love the series, but it’s also the little details that don’t go too far but are just wonderful like the woman who dreams about having a love affair with a sentence and then forgets how to read. Little moments like that fill my soul.

And all of this is brought to us because of a character who controls dreams to the point where they are dreams, so I’m no longer interested in hearing that there’s a power level ceiling on good stories.

I’m Still Mad About Google Reader

Been trying to practice what I preach and actually look up web content outside of the Social Silos. This means firing up an old Feedly account and read the ‘net like we did back when we used to call it the ‘net.*

When I find an article that looks good, I throw it into Pocket for reading and deep archive.

We’ll see if I can keep this up long enough for it to actually be a value add in my life.

*Nobody ever called it the ‘net.

Bottom Of The Bag

Been replaying Batman Arkham Asylum for the last few days until I got derailed with a very tedious boss fight. (It’s the poison Ivy fight that in my opinion overstays its welcome.)

My displeasure, apparently, was heard all the way in Poland and CD Project Red decided to grace me with a patch for Cyberpunk 2077 that fixed most of a graphical problems on my aging, base-model Xbox One. So I’ve been trying to finish up any remaining quests on there that can now activate thanks to the Code Review Gods.

But there’s really not much left. Sure there’s things I can scrounge around and find – and I am – but it really feels like reaching into a finished bag of chips and grasping at crumbs. You can do it, but you might want to get a new bag.