Derik Badman's Journal

2021-10-22 09:26

Read Jon Peterson's Game Wizards this week, his latest book on RPG history. This takes a different perspective on early D&D by focusing on the business history of D&D/TSR, rather than looking at the games, rules, and players as in his Playing at the World and The Elusive Shift. It was an interesting read, though not, I think, one that would be as interesting for most people as the previous two. It's basically a corporate history of TSR (and its precedents), the company most associated with D&D, for the first 10 years (basically 1975-1985). You get a lot of people behaving badly and intrigue about ownership and stocks and finances as well a more market/business view of the early RPG scene.

I'm a big fan of the Velvet Underground (the band), so was excited about Todd Haynes' The Velvet Underground documentary that premiered this week. Unfortunately it was rather a letdown. I've read books on the band (or books that at least had them as the focus of a chapter or two), so I have a decent amount of background knowledge, but thought that a filmic approach could provide something new and interesting. But weirdly, it ended up feeling like Haynes wasn't that interested in the band as a band or as music. There was a decent focus on early Reed and Cale, but by the time they get around to the band, whole albums get skipped over with barely any attention paid. Maureen Tucker, who along with Cale, is still alive to talk about it, barely had a presence. Most of the talking heads were band adjacent, from the Warhol Factory scene and had little to say about music. Jonathan Richman provides the only (that I can recall) example of someone influenced by the band. The whole thing ends without really addressing their musical influence on a host of subsequent bands. The whole thing was not aided by the fact that there is apparently no live audio film of the band performing, so while there was some film of them performing none of it synced with any existing sound.

Watched Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Rosetta the other day. The film closely follows (as in she is almost always the majority of the frame) a young woman struggling in poverty with her alcoholic mom. Despite being almost constantly close to us visually, she is rather closed off as a character. But you ascertain that she has a ridiculous pride that keeps her from asking for help and has her going out of her way to try to avoid exposing her situation. There isn't so much a plot as a series of events that lead to an ambiguous ending. The lead actress was impressive, and the stylistics of the framing was interesting, but the whole thing kind of left me unengaged.