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2015.09.13

  ...of the moment  

2015.09.12

  ...of the moment  
This space left semi-intentionally blank

2015.09.11

  ...of the moment  
Quotes from reading I've been doing lately:
from "Afternoon Men" by Anthony Powell:
Atwater ordered food. The waiter said: 'That dish takes twenty- five minutes.' Atwater said: 'I have my life before me.' The waiter went away, shaking his head.
--
'Americans always have such a lot of misdirected party spirit,' said Gosling. 'One came to a party I gave two years ago and drank so much that he died soon after.'
--
He laughed and lay in her arms, kissing her. The universe seemed notably absent.


from "H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald
Being a novice is safe. When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether or not you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe any more. Being an expert opens you up to judgement.
--
Hunting in Maine is not obviously riven with centuries of class and privilege. There are no vast pheasant shoots here where bankers vie for the largest bags, no elite grouse moors or exclusive salmon rivers. All the land can be hunted over by virtue of common law, and locals are very proud of this egalitarian tradition. Years ago I read an article in a 1942 edition of Outdoor Life that stirred wartime sentiment by appealing to it. ' One of my grandfathers came from northern Europe for the single reason that he wanted to live in a country where he could try to catch a fish without sneaking onto some nobleman's property where the common people were excluded,'

Jimminy F'in Crickets; somehow my (autoreloading) Dunkies card has been used for $465.29 of NY/NJ charges since 8/23.

I've been seeing more crap like this lately; I cancelled my old number because of mysterio Uber charges.

It's why I only keep one card, and try to watch it like a hawk.

2015.09.10

  ...of the moment  
For-Profit Prisons are the worst. Thanks, "Everything is Better Privatized!" A__holes!
Deadspin's "Why Your Team Sucks" has been a fun read all along and reaches its pinacle with the Patriots.
So I'm dieting, and it's board game night, with four delicious pizzas ordered in. The solution: I allow myself one slice, and then say I will give twenty bucks to each of three other guys there if I have a second.

on the realities of retrogames
2015.09.09
This past spring I had an online dialog with Chris Federico, keeper of Orphaned Computers & Game Systems and author of The Classic-Gaming Bookcast - $0.99 well spent for any fan of old games.

One way he adds to his enjoyment of games is to make up his own backstory for them - for a great example of this kind of thing, see his co-author's Adam Trionfo's "Before Reading the Manual" on their review of the obscure Spectravision game "Gas Hog". At one point in our conversation I explained my own reasons for why that seemed kind of alien to me. Recently he mentioned some of my ideas had stuck with him and he asked if I would explicate, possibly for partial inclusion in a future edition of his "Bookcast"... this is what I came up with.


There are two ways to think about the story behind specific retro videogames... for some players, the pixels and bleeps and blurps of an older game are like the shadows in Plato's Cave, technology used to crudely reveal a bigger, "more real" story going on. (The manual might give one explanation of the reality thus represented, but there's nothing stopping players from constructing their own, as you've demonstrated in your bookcast...) The screen for Intellivision's "AD&D: Cloudy Mountain" may just be showing some green and yellow squares (like a kid might have made with graph paper and some markers) but this type of player can see the slime-covered stonework, hear the echo from some unseen dripping water, smell the smoke of the flickering torches lining the walls in their metal holders. And these players' experience is probably the richer for it.

For me, however, the appeal of old games has always been their self-contained aspect: each Atari cartridge in the large collection I lucked into was its own microcosm with its own rules of physics and creatures and boundaries. The eponymous Superman of the Atari cartridge wasn't just a reflection of the muscled, flying hero of the Comic Book; he was a new pixel Superman, fighting crime in his limited pixel world, jailing pixel Lex Luthor and getting kisses from pixel Lois Lane. He's unbothered by Mister Mxyzptlk not because the programmer chose to direct his programming "camera lens" on a particular day in the life of the comicbook hero, but because for Atari 2600 Superman, this is the full extent of what the world- what the universe- is.


The advantage of this less literary, more literal approach to game story is that it embraces the limitations of player action, it doesn't have to explain it away: Take Crossroads, for the C=64; your little guy fires down the corridor. If a bullet wraps around the screen and hits him in the back, he takes damage. He doesn't have the option to hide against a wall, to maybe dig a trench for protection, to play with ricochet or shoot out a light or light a torch, or to do anything but shoot at a 90 degree angle directly down the hallway, square in the center. The universe, the range of possibility, is fully circumscribed. Of course, it's not devoid of higher-level interpretation: I see a little man, I see a bullet, I see various monsters duking it out, I don't just see splashes of pixels following abstract rules and displaying the results of various computations... as a player I bring recognition and thus a kind of meaning to the display and to the interaction, but that's my understanding from a privileged, god-like view into a self-contained universe, not the recognition of the pixels of a retelling of some other, more visceral fiction.

  ...of the moment  
A damn stylus, thanks Apple! To quote Gruber: "Finally"



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