Hello internet. It’s been a while. Let’s talk.
I am writing this on the evening of the 27th of December, where we in Ottawa have just enjoyed what might be our first permanent snowfall of the season. I hope that green Christmases are not going to become a permanent fixture of life here, but it’s hard to hold onto optimism.
Speaking of holding on to optimism, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about some of what went on with me in 2015, and mutter vaguely about what can be expected in the coming year.
To be honest, 2015 was not been a banner year for me. I spent a fair chunk of the first part of the year worrying about a plague of cockroaches that were milling around in my kitchen. Not actually getting in my food or wandering around the rest of my apartment, mind you; just flitting around the kitchen, being their little awful selves. The exterminator managed to get them killed off in April, but the little bastards staged a comeback in the summer when the egg cases hatched, so he had to come back in for another round. I haven’t seen anybody in months, thankfully, but I’m still keeping the powdery Line of Death up in the cabinet under the sink to discourage any curious scouts.
As for life and work, things didn’t quite go according to plan. I started 2015 with the resolution to limit my spending, read more of the books in my stockpile that I’ve never touched, wean myself off of late-night browsing, and perhaps make a stab at fiction writing. Suffice to say, none of that happened. I also made the delightful discovery that my metabolic rate has finally wound down to the normal level for an adult, which means I’ve a bit of a weight problem to grapple with in the coming year.
However, it was not all doom and gloom. As a matter of fact, some very good things happened this year. I got my first comic review published in Strange Horizons in the summer, and I’ve got two more that are going to be appearing sometime in 2016. I started this blog in January as an attempt to encourage myself to write more, and while there have been some blank months (including, ahem, December), but I think I managed to do some good work. That piece I wrote about The Legend of Korra continues to be far and away the most popular thing on this blog, a fact I still find slightly bewildering.
But what of all the stuff I read, watched, and played? Well…
Books: The past two years have been rather light in terms of reading. My work schedule combined with my masochistic need to avoid sleeping at sensible times has the effect of making it hard to both find times to read things and to actually concentrate on what I’m reading.
Even aside from all that, I didn’t read a lot this year that really stuck with me. The one new writer I tried who stuck with me the most was Stevie Smith of all people, who I read back in January. Last in 2014, I came across a biographical sketch of her in Rosemary Dinnage’s book on women writers grappling with loneliness, and it was enough to convince me to go out and read Novel on Yellow Paper. It’s very much a period piece, but it’s an interesting look at the life of a woman just outside the literary mainstream in pre-WWII London, trying to deal with all her emotional baggage.
Movies: While I don’t read as much as I used to, I’ve more than made up for it in movies. Hoo boy have I ever. Right now the list is sitting at 77 movies watched and rewatched, and with any luck I might crack the big 8-0 by New Year’s. I kept it nice and varied, bouncing around from indie horror to big-budget sci-fi nonsense to arty little dramas that may or may not have involved lesbian dominatrices. Still, if I had to pick one movie that stuck with me more than everything else, I would have to go with Come and See, Elem Klimov’s 1985 film depicting the German occupation of Belarus during the Second World War. It’s…intense, to put it mildly, and it’s something I’d recommend you see as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into.
TV: It’s hard for me to watch TV, what with not having cable or Netflix and all, but I have my ways. The best new things I watched this year were Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, both of which I’ve already expounded on at length. I also saw the second season of True Detective, and the fact that I went into it expecting to be completely different from the first kept me from succumbing to the critical backlash. It’s much more a straight crime drama, one that’s far more despairing than the first season, which is quite the accomplishment considering that the first season had Matthew McConaughey quoting Thomas Ligotti at length. I also took in the horrifying degeneracy of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which is a hilarious show in small doses.
Games: Oh video games, I can’t just quit you. I lost a few months to The Secret World, a fun MMO where all the myths are true and all the conspiracies are real, but I eventually gave it up after playing competently became a concern. Lately I’ve been getting my Star Trek fix with Star Trek Armada III: A Call to Arms, a total conversion mod for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. Given the legal tangles around the Trek license and the problems of getting older games to run on modern systems, it may well be the best Star Trek game on the market today.
My resolution for next year is that I will only buy two new games: Rise of the Tomb Raider (i.e. Lara Croft’s Murderous Siberian Adventure) and Dishonored II. I’ve still got a big backlog to process, including the time-travelling-YA-hipster-drama of Life is Strange and a copy of Civilization V which I bought for research purposes, dammit.
So, what’s on the agenda for 2016? Well, first and foremost…I’ve got a project. A very secret project. One that’s so secret I’m not telling what it is just yet. To that end, I have things to read to research for it. Other than that, I have some TV shows I need to watch, some books I would like to talk about both here and elsewhere, and more movies to absorb. In other words, I will keep on keeping on. Oh, and once we move into January you can look forward to the thing I wanted to write for you guys in December before I was sidetracked.