Something Good #25: What I'm Into
I’m into a bunch of stuff these days.
Here are some of things I am into, followed by a short list of things I am not.
I recently returned home from a two-week visit to the west coast. I am still pretty jet-lagged so I’ve been taking 10mg of melatonin before bed every night.
Holy heck, I’d forgotten how this stuff gives me the craziest dreams. I won’t bore you with too many details but they’ve involved haunted tree-mountains, fighting monsters in big mechs, and a return to my old summer camp. If you’re looking for a lightweight, legal, psychedelic experience may I suggest melatonin? (Also it might help fight COVID, though the jury is still out.)
I am only about halfway through this, but I can give a conditional recommendation to Yoon Ha Lee’s sci-fi novel Ninefox Gambit.
The book is set in… well, hmm. Look, this is a pretty hard book to describe. It’s set in an extra-solar empire called the Hexarchate, which is based around some sort of ritual/magical (maybe??) calendar from which the society’s structure, hierarchy and technology derive.
This is a really interesting instance of world-building, one of those sci-fi books that talks about a lot of fascinating things and concepts without ever physically describing what any of it looks like or how it’s supposed to work. You’re left to your own devices to imagine what a “voidmoth” or a “threshold winnower” or the idea of “clerical rot” is. In practice, this is less frustrating than it sounds. I’m into it. Still not totally sure what’s happening or why but I’m along for the ride.
50 Years of Text Games
50 Years of Text Games is a wonderful newsletter exploring the long history of text-based adventure computer games. Stuff you might recognize like Zork and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Adventure, but also titles that are more obscure, with incredible backstories from the early days of home computing.
My favourite so far is the one about Silverfox, a game that was unknown to me but which has a truly fascinating origin story involving a commune of Victorian-era LARPing women who lived in a school in Ireland and programmed hit text adventure games.
The story of how St. Bride’s School came to release not one but eight full-length text adventures between 1985 and 1992—most with female protagonists, all cleverly written and well-reviewed—is one of the strangest in the history of gaming. It’s a complicated story where no clear heroes emerge, or even a clear cast of characters. The stories of their nearly-lost game Silverwolf and its creation are both about the beguiling and dangerous power of becoming someone else. They are stories full of frustrating riddles and beautiful imagery that never quite resolve into coherent wholes. They blur the boundaries of the everyday world with fantastic intrusions. They are stories it can be hard, at times, to believe.
If you know me, you know this is my wheelhouse precisely. Highly recommend you check it out.
I have a friend who used to be so obsessed with freezies that he kept a separate freezer for them in his living room. He would carefully trim the corners with nail clippers to safeguard against those little wounds freezie enthusiasts get at the corners of their mouths from the sharp right angles of the cut plastic.
I’m not that into freezies, but I’m pretty into them. (It’s very hot out.)
The Kid Detective
I confess that writer/director Evan Morgan is a pal of mine, but his new, long-in-the-making feature film The Kid Detective is wonderful. A dark comedy about an Encyclopedia-Brown-type child genius who has grown into a bitter failure, it is very hilarious and very affecting. The last shot is going to stay with me for a long time. Love it when a movie pulls that off.
Naya Beat Volume 1: South Asian Dance and Electronic Music 1983-1992
Friend of the newsletter Omar Majeed sent me this new comp from L.A.-based label Naya Beat Records. I was particularly excited to learn that Omar’s mother (!) is featured on the comp, with an Urdu-language cover of Jon & Vangelis’ great “State of Independence” (probably best-known for Donna Summer’s version of same).
The track (above), and the whole comp for that matter, absolutely slaps. Check it out on Bandcamp if you want to support the project. I just pre-ordered the vinyl myself.
Every year they seem to come in a different flavour. Been getting a lot of late-night/early-morning sneezing this summer. Not good.
When Somebody Obviously Writes Their Own Wikipedia Entry
I could write a whole newsletter about this. Basically… like a darn fool, I spent most of my life carelessly listening to music on headphones, DJing at very loud parties, going to concerts with no ear protection. I’m paying the price, in the form of an incurable recurrent ringing in my ears. Its severity waxes and wanes, but it’s pretty bad these days—and of course, the more I think about it and pay attention to it, the worse it gets. There are some kinds of music I can barely even listen to anymore (goodbye shoegaze!) because the tones are so triggering.
Just praying I can get the electric plastic brain lollipop over here some time soon.
Wear earplugs, people.
A double-whammy of Kahlil Gibran #nojackestrequired pics this week from two separate readers, Vanessa Farquharson and Luke Richert respectively. As always, please send your unjacketed finds to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Wednesday I’ll send you Something Good. Hope you are all enjoying your Something Goods during these hot hot days. Got a question? Need advice? Smash that reply button. And if you like what you read here, please tell a friend.