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All traditional forms of fiction look broken

I’m at the point in writing where all traditional forms of fiction look broken, and all of the pieces of my life around me look strange and disjointed, and I doubt everything and wonder how things happened. I can’t easily explain this, but it’s the sort of thing where I sit and look at a Coke can for 20 minutes and think about HOW a Coke can got the way it did, and why wasn’t it a triangle or a tube that was a centimeter wide and three feet long, or how they formed the metal or whatever. And then I think about how Coke cans have remained unchanged in a sense for years and years, but sometimes I find a picture of a Coke can from like 1990 or even 1997 and every aspect of it looks so different, but I can’t entirely tell HOW. And I look at everything like this, but more than that I look at writing like this, and think way too much about stuff, and flip through some random book and think, “WHY does this work?” and you start to see all of these strange patterns, like that more words or more descripton doesn’t always build a bigger picture. Sometimes less or even no words burns an indelible image in your head. It’s like looking at a stick figure, or a dot-matrix image, and your brain fills in the blanks as to what isn’t there. I have images stuck in my head from books I read 20 years ago, and when I go back and re-read the same books, I think “how the hell did that move me so much?” It’s all a very confusing way to look at things, but I feel a need to get through it before I do anything else, because I feel my current writing is pretty lame.

I’m going to see Dee Snider tonight, which should be interesting. I think one of the first tapes I ever got was Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry. I don’t know what stuff he will play tonight, but it should be cool. Other than that, I just ate a bunch of Chinese food and now I feel like I am going to pass out from MSG poisoning. I think I need another Coke.

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Feels like winter in NYC

It feels like winter in New York, in the good way. I’ve enjoyed a weekend of doing nothing but sitting in the heated apartment, and going out for groceries. I like the first time it gets cold here, when you can pass the restaurants and smell the food and enjoy the slight amount of quiet you get when more people are inside. The only thing better is when there’s a huge snow and the city shuts down, and you can walk around with this giant blanket of white absorbing all of the sound. Of course, in a day it all turns to black and grey sludge, and in a few weeks I will be bitching about the sheer cold outside, but it’s nice when it first starts.

I’m already in a weird Christmas mood, although I don’t really celebrate the holiday that much anymore. I mean, I still exchange gifts, but I don’t celebrate the birth of Christ, and I don’t believe in Santa. I don’t place any importance on the familial aspect of the holiday anymore, since I don’t usually go home for it; that’s sort of a sticking point for me. I grew up with the centralized holiday at the maternal grandparents’ place in Chicago, with tons and tons of people and excellent food, time to play with all of my cousins, and the whole tradition, the routine of piling up in the car and getting on the Indiana toll road and heading to the big city. That pretty much ended when my grandmother died, which was when I was in college, also complicating things. There are still various family get-togethers, but very decentralized and not as noteworthy. The people are still important, and I’m not slagging that, but there is no tradition. And if it’s not about the myth of Jesus or the myth of Santa or the myth of the dreidel (or whatever), then there has to be something to replace that.

I think the same feeling of Christmas happiness, or whatever you want to call it, is somehow encapsulated by being inside in the warm when it’s cold out, and having an overabundance of food in the fridge. That isn’t entirely a complete holiday for me, but yesterday I bought way too much food, and cooked dinner at home, and baked cookies, and kept my ass on the couch all day, and it was pretty decent.

One outing I made yesterday was to Game Stop to buy two new titles for the PS2: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Socom Navy SEALs. Here are first impressions on both.

I’ll start with the Navy SEALs game first. It was a real bitch to find this, and I think my used copy cost $55. The introduction is PHENOMENAL! A very cool movie showing frogmen swimming in water, attack helicopters, insertion teams, the whole nine yards. It was all meticulously rendered, with water effects better than any I’d ever seen. In general, this game is about a half-step ahead of Medal of Honor: Frontline, although MOH:FL probably has a higher volume of detailed items, while SOCOM has more night missions and stuff, which makes it easier for them. But in general, the game has some great looking graphics, and the sound is integrated well.

One of the very cool things about the game is that it comes with a Logitech headset that plugs into the USB port of your Playstation 2. Most adventure games have on-screen hints on what to do, i.e. “destroy the radio to escape” popping up in a little window or whatever. But in this, someone tells you these things via radio in the headset! It’s a weird effect, because stuff is blowing up around you or whatever, and you hear someone saying “Delta team, advance to their position – over” or whatever. Very cool! The other, even more fucked-up part is, the game has voice recognition! There is a push-to-talk button on the controller, and you can issue commands to you other SEAL team members just by saying them! A menu appears on screen to help you, and the comamnds are in person-verb-object format. So, for example, you can say “team deploy frag” and everyone will throw frag grenades at the target. The recognition works well, and there is no complicated training or anything. It’s incredible!

Overall, the game is great, but very complicated and difficult. It’s not a thing where you go in, shoot a bunch of dudes, and then you are at the next level. It involved a LOT of strategy, hiding in shadows, taking out people from behind, and so on. So I haven’t played it much, but it’s cool. It also supports online gaming, so I’m going to have to get the ethernet adapter and try it out.

The other game I got is Vice City, the followup to Grand Theft Auto 3. It’s sort of a prequel, happening in the 80s in a Miami Vice-like environment. The coolest part of this is that when you get in a car, you can change channels and listen to the radio, just like in GTA3. But now, there are a lot of 80s channels, and one of them is similar to the old K-ROCK, but called VROCK, and it has nothing but old 80s metal. So it’s pretty cool to be listening to Megadeth – Peace Sells… or Slayer – Reign in Blood while driving a stolen sports car and killing cops. There are way more cars, people, weapons, details, and everything else, too much to describe. I spent hours last night and thismorning driving around, stealing stuff, going on rampages. It’s absolutely great.

Not a lot else. I’ve been working on this short story about Bloomington, one of many I hope to get into a book. It’s going slow, but it’s going. I think I will be able to write more as winter progresses. It’s much easier to cocoon up to the computer when it’s too cold to wander around outside. Also the jerkoffs that sit in front of my building tend not to do that when it’s twenty outside, plus windchill.

Okay, I just poured a quart of sulfuric acid down my bathtub drain, and I think I need to either flush it out with some water, or get some kind of gas mask.

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Nano

After finding a plot, cleaning off the desk, uploading my photos, and getting everything ready for the NaNoWriMo contest last night, I decided I wasn’t going to do it. I really want to write another book, but I want to do it at my own pace, and worry about quality more than quotas. Also, I have a couple of small projects I need to juggle, like a trip report for Vegas, and I want to putz with some PHP stuff, and I don’t think I can do that if I’m constantly worrying about output. And there’s not anything in it for me even if I do finish. So, fuck it.

Speaking of photos and PHP, give http://rumored.com/vegas/oct-2002/photos/ a spin if you haven’t already. [Long ago broken, sorry.] I am still hacking the PHP code for this, but I got the captions working correctly, and fixed a couple of other errors. It’s my first stab at doing anything longer than a line in PHP, and it seems to work okay. If I can improve some of the features a bit, I will use this script in other places on rumored.com.

It’s nice to be home on a Friday night with the wind whipping away outside, and the radiators glowing with heat. I bought a dehumidifier on my way home from work for about $40. It has some kind of air filter, a cool mist function, and other assorted features I ignored that promise me better comfort from the air as I sleep. It also came with a mostly useless gauge that measures the humidity (a hydragometer? Hydrometer? Hygrometer?) except it doesn’t have any accurate numbers of markings, just a green band called “comfort zone” in the middle, with “humid” and “dry” in red on either side. It gauged my apartment as being below the “comfort zone”, but now that this little plastic beast is churning out humidity, it appears I am once again in the “comfort zone”. That’s comforting.

Just the other day someone pulled like $3.5M out of the New York horse betting computers through some kind of security breach. Dammit! Why can’t I figure this kind of stuff out?