A Hard Rin's a-Gonna Fall

I'm Ryan. I write things.

Those links may or may not link to places I have things written.

explore-blog:

Nina Paley, who has previously showed us how all creativity builds on what came before, is back with an animated “who’s-killing-who viewer’s guide" in the history of the "land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant".

Good a time as any to repost this.

(Source: explore-blog)

Tupac put out a ton of great tracks, but in spite of the whole slew of conscientious songs, “Can’t C Me“‘s one of my favorites. Mostly because it’s fun, doesn’t take itself over-seriously, and also because it features George Clinton.

Same goes for Biggie’s/Bone’s “Notorious Thugs” off Life After Death. For some reason, these double albums always hid their most fun songs on the first track of the second disc.

(Source: Spotify)

“Mr. Alsuga believes the solution to the gang problem is Teen Groups. I tell him that’s basically what a gang is, a Teen Group. But he says how can it be a Teen Group without an adult mentor with a special skill, like whittling? Mr. Alsuga whittles. Once he gave an Olde Tyme Skills Seminar in the Blacksmith Shoppe. It was poorly attended. All he got was two widowers and a chess-club type no gang would have wanted anyway. And myself. I attended. Evelyn called me a bootlicker, but I attended. She called me a bootlicker, and I told her she’d better bear in mind which side of the bread her butter was on. She said whichever side it was on it wasn’t enough to shake a stick at. She’s always denigrating my paystub. I came home from the Seminar with this kind of whittled duck. She threw it away the next day because she said she thought it was an acorn. It looked nothing like an acorn. As far as I’m concerned, she threw it away out of spite. It made me livid and twice that night I had to step into a closet and perform my Hatred Abatement Breathing”

—   George Saunders, “Civilwarland in Bad Decline” from the short story collection of the same name.

A friend of mine introduced me to Stevie Nicks’ “Blue Lamp” when I was working on a novel project back a few years back. It fit the mood perfectly, that sort of semi-lucid melancholy with a hint of resilience.

I’d fall in love with the song all over again on actually watching Heavy Metal, and despite this probably being the most overlooked track in the film, it perfectly summed up “Harry Canyon”, the skit it appeared in, and gave you something to latch onto emotionally. It’s so understated when it shows up, but that scene in the police station very clearly sums up Harry’s life.

I should probably pick up this soundtrack some time.

The Trial is one of those books that had a profound impact on me. The absurdity and banality of the protagonist’s interaction with this hidden court system was, in a way, really cathartic in contextualizing the time I personally spent in trouble with the law. After a while, the stresses just melt away, and despite the case constantly looming overhead, it almost starts to seem comic, detached.
The fact that it was never finished gives it a certain other dimension, though, in that there could’ve been any number more experiences Joseph K. goes through between the penultimate chapter and the end, but their exclusion seems to say much more about how he triumphed over the court for that time. The court holds no sway over his life after that. In a sense, the penultimate chapter becomes the new climax, and the end is just an epilogue.

The Trial is one of those books that had a profound impact on me. The absurdity and banality of the protagonist’s interaction with this hidden court system was, in a way, really cathartic in contextualizing the time I personally spent in trouble with the law. After a while, the stresses just melt away, and despite the case constantly looming overhead, it almost starts to seem comic, detached.

The fact that it was never finished gives it a certain other dimension, though, in that there could’ve been any number more experiences Joseph K. goes through between the penultimate chapter and the end, but their exclusion seems to say much more about how he triumphed over the court for that time. The court holds no sway over his life after that. In a sense, the penultimate chapter becomes the new climax, and the end is just an epilogue.

They took in the first batch of contestants and then announced to the crowds left behind us that they had stopped accepting applications for the day. There were more than seventy of us that went in. They had us sit down in a large hall similar to a university cafeteria. A man in a smart suit then told us we were first going to listen to two stories to understand the format of the program. He also spoke about legal aspects of the contracts we would have to sign with the radio station.

The lights gradually dimmed and the hall fell silent, as if it were a cinema. Most of the contestants lit up cigarettes and we were soon enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke. We started listening to a story by a young woman, whose voice reached us clearly from the four corners of the hall. She told us how her husband, a policeman, had been held by an Islamist group for a long time, and how, during the sectarian killings, the killers had sent his body back decomposed and decapitated. When the lights came back on, chaos broke out. Everyone was talking at the same time, like a swarm of wasps. Many of them ridiculed the woman’s story and claimed they had stories that were stranger, crueler, and more crazy. I caught sight of an old woman close to ninety waving her hand in derision and muttering, “That’s a story? If I told my story to a rock, it would break its heart.”

—   Hassan Blasim, “The Song of the Goats” from the Corpse Exhibition

I’d been on a psych rock trip for a while, after my fiancee reminded me that Jimi Hendrix was a guy who existed and played pretty good guitar. So in branching out, I’d remembered these guys off the Spec Ops: the Line soundtrack and decided to look them up.

I was thinking the Velvet Underground song, “the Black Angel’s Death Song” was named after this band. Turns out, these guys are a real recent group named after that song instead. They do really capture the feel of the era, but hindsight probably helps a lot with that.

(Source: Spotify)

Shadow Warrior is probably the most fun I’ve had with a game this year. Between the frantic, hyper-paced combat combined with ridiculous one-liners and irreverent banter with your sidekick, you’ve got a real winning combination. It’s all the best parts of old FPS combined with all the cool new features of more recent ones.

And while this trailer really gets across just how much fun the game is, it doesn’t quite do any justice to what makes it amazing - the writing and art design. The traditional oriental-domination style cyberpunk aesthetic is convincingly mapped onto the modern day. It’s retrofuturism without the retro.

The writing, though, is on a whole other level. Without commenting too much on the plot, which in and of itself is very well-developed and paced, this game has to be the post child for good titling.

Ranging the gamut from ridiculous (“A like Asshole, C like Champion”) to melodramatic (“A Taste of the Price we Agreed Upon”),each title is taken directly from dialogue, and both sets up the tone of the chapter, and more often than not gives the title drop line so much more impact. They deliver the package in only the way long titles can, and it handles it without them ever getting unwieldy.

“The one welcome interruption to these visits was Leni, who always so arranged things that she brought in the lawyer’s tea while K. was present. She would stand behind K.’s chair, apparently looking on while the lawyer stooped with a kind of miserly greed over his tea, but all the time she was letting K. surreptitiously hold her hand. There was total silence. The lawyer sipped, K. squeezed Leni’s hand, and sometimes Leni ventured to caress his hair. “Are you still here?” the lawyer would ask, after he had finished. “I wanted to take the tea tray away,” Leni would answer, there would follow a last handclasp, the lawyer would wipe his mouth, and begin again with new energy to harangue K.

Was the lawyer seeking to comfort him or to drive him to despair? K. could not tell, but he soon held it for an established fact that his defense was not in good hands.”

—   Franz Kafka, the Trial

Mike Kim could find anything.

That wasn’t the right way to put it, exactly. More like, he had a way of knowing exactly where everything was at that exact moment in time. There were, of course, some limitations on that ability. He would know, instinctively, just where I dropped my phone, or where my checkbook had disappeared to. He couldn’t, unfortunately, track down where my name went.

Not so much because it was an intangible object so much as it was because that wasn’t something I had misplaced. I’d gone ahead and dropped it, and wherever it’d gotten off to now, it was out of my hands and Mike Kim’s range.

So it wasn’t my name I needed Mike Kim to track down for me right now. We’d tried that already.

"Pick up," I said, banging on his door. Just knocking wouldn’t get anywhere. The doorbell was broken, so that was out. Calling him wasn’t guaranteed to work, either. I figured out, though, after a few months, that calling him while knocking gave the best results. It still wasn’t guaranteed, but it gave you the best chances.

Still no response.

"C’mon, pick up." I kept knocking.

"Hello?" It was his just-got-up voice.

"Dude, it’s like three. You should be up by now."

"I am up," he said, opening the door. He was still on the phone.

He hadn’t shaved. I couldn’t tell if that was because he just woke up, or if he was going for a new look. Or he forgot to shave often enough that it became a new look and he just stuck with it.