Derik Badman's Journal

2020-03-17 08:25

I didn't leave the house all weekend, and only yesterday to take a walk. All "non-essential" businesses are supposed to be closed in the county now, restaurants take-out only. The liquor stores are even closed now. I'm glad I went Friday, though I wonder how long it will be until we're into the old bottles of random things in the liquor cabinet. I guess we'll have to learn some new cocktails (or make up our own). I'm trying to not be stressed or worried, but it's hard not to. Not for me, I still don't feel like I'm going to suffer, but for all the people who now have no work, small businesses that are already suffering, when even closing for the weekend can make a difference. It feels like only the big corporations will be making money of all this: pharmaceuticals, health care industry, Walmart, certainly Amazon. But what about all the places in town I go to, that aren't corporations, and all the people that work in this places. Not that I don't feel like this is the right thing to do. From what I've been reading, slowing the spread of the virus is the only real tactic we have at this point.

I guess we all will adapt as we can to the situation. Saturday night we played Yahtzee via Google Hangouts with ███ ███ █████, us both just sitting on our couches with a phone propped on the coffee table. Sunday night we had happy hour over Zoom with ████ ██████ ████ ███ ██████, all of us in our three houses, just chatting over drinks.

I'm behind on all my reading and watching over the recent past. Maybe much of it was not remarkable enough to write about, though perhaps it's more that I was just out of my routine even more than before.

I read the latest Corto Maltese release from IDW, Ballad of the Salty Sea which is actually the first one Hugo Pratt drew. You can see that in the way Corto's appearance evolves over the course of the story, slowly getting more like the character one recognizes from the other volumes. Like most of these volumes, the draw is more Pratt's visual style than the narrative itself. I keep getting them (though there's only one more volume to go as they held off on this first one and only published it right before the last one), but the stories start to blend together a lot. You could probably analyze them all and come out with a basic structure or at least a series of common tropes that happen in all of them (mysterious treasure, betrayals, wars as a background, natives and colonials, dreams and visions, etc.). But despite the repetition, Pratt's style always draws my attention with its strong contrast both in tone and line weight, its veering into abstraction, the repetition, very flat depth (which would require some examples I guess).

I'm also still reading Yasuo Ohtagaki's Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt now up to volume 13 in translation. I'm starting to lose interest in it, as it's been spending too long on what amounts to one long battle. This volume is most unusual though because it starts with a note about the art changing style in the middle. Ohtagaki is having issues with his drawing hand and thus had to loosen up his style so he could keep drawing. For the rest of the series it's been a very tight, mostly conventional manga style, but then halfway through this volume everything becomes looser, sketcher, more expressive. Some scenes have backgrounds and crowds of character almost abstractly scribbled in. It doesn't stay super loose as it is at first. It starts to tighten up more as it goes on, probably because a lot of readers found the change too drastic. I actually like it more.

Reading a few books right now, still the Tufte book on sentences, which is not easy to read in large quantities, also A Short Treatise Inviting the Reader to Discover the Subtle Art of Go by Pierre Lusson, Georges Perec, and Jacques Roubaud. I don't (didn't) really know anything about go, but I saw this recent translation by two of the best of the Oulipo authors and thought it would be interesting to read. So now I'm all interesting in trying go, though I have no board to play on. I also started the second volume in Wolfe's Latro series Soldier of Arete after having taken a short break from the first one. I didn't want to wait too long, as you really need to remember the events of the story to follow it well, especially since the protagonist narrator doesn't (so he can't remind you of them).

Also been obsessively playing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on the Switch. It's a 2d action game, basically a modern version of an old Castlevania game: work your way through the gothic castle with all its monsters and weird npcs. It's fun and weird (one monster is a giant puppy head that bites you), and not so hard (on normal mode) that I get frustrated by the boss fights.

On Sunday we played an impromptu D&D game online with the regular group. I ended up running the start of Gavin Norman's A Hole in the Oak with the Old School Essentials rules. I sent everybody the OSE Rogues Gallery book and they picked characters from them (who are all pretty interesting and weird). The main thing the module lacks is hooks, so I told everyone to come up with something based on their character and then we just jumped right into the dungeon. I'll probably write more about it at another time as I hope we'll get to play another session and finish it out (assuming everyone wants to).