It’s Tuesday, October 11, 2022 in Portland, Oregon.
Yesterday I wrote another 877 words for the absurdist satirical tech novel. That makes 7,908 so far and boy have I gone through a rollercoaster over the last few months over it.
In the mean time, Big Client Project (uh… let’s call it Jade Leviathan[^rainbow) has been making progress in the most satisfying way and things are starting to gel together. Not least of which because I have spent a while arranging stickies in a Miro into both an aesthetically pleasing and somewhat logically consistent pattern.
Cordyceps is the infamous fungus that infects and kill insects, one of which is even more infamous-er for turning ants into zombies, which means it’s awesome that new research shows that wildfire smoke might carry deadly fungi super long distances2 which normally isn’t so much of a big deal because you always expect some sort of wastage and fungal infection with your regularly occurring wildfires, but no, we love to mess with things so we’re getting way more wildfires than usual.
What caught my attention: outdoor school was cancelled yesterday due to an AQI in the 150s (nothing like a few years back where all of Portland turned orange and promptly broke the AQI scale, we all jerry-rigged air filters with 3Ms and box fans and even then the smokme got in), so obviously now I’m thinking about AQI but for brain-eating fungi. That’ll be a fun weather forecast. Cordyceps is of course the inspiration for CBI3, the cordyceps brain infection of the videogame series The Last of Us.
Now that I’ve started writing another novel that hopefully I’ll actually finish this time, I’ve been thinking about some of the most useful advice I’ve received on writing (and for me, fiction) over the last few years and that’s really stuck with me, namely: make notes of what you like, and what you don’t like, when you’re reading.
This is fantastic! It means that I legitimately get to hate-read things because I’m now more usefully looking for reactions like well that’s dumb, I would’ve done it this way, or that I’m much more open (I am such a philistine) to reading new things that aren’t just comfort reads (hello, why would I possibly have regressed to reading comfort reads over the last two years), and making a note of wow, this was really great.
I now have scads and scads of highlights that aren’t just highlights, but are pointers towards thoughts like: I liked this idea, but the phrasing was clumsy. This, if anything, has helped me figure out even more of my voice and become more comfortable with it.
Books that have helped me with this recently:
Wait, I’ve also started watching Hacks, which if anything is about as much rigor I’m getting into about what is a joke and not just a weird thing you say on Twitter, he says, looking at no one in particular but staring into the mirrored video from his webcam.
Gene Park said something that got stuck in my head, again:
i think the mainstream media is still the one of the only large sectors who still largely ignores video games. CNN, cable tv , etc have no clue. Newspapers are totally lost. It’s really just the NYT that kinda gets it with their wordle purchase (Gene Park)
Which coincides with a lot of conversations I’ve been having lately about how videogames and people-who-play-videogames are treated, plus what people think the kind of people who play videogames are.
It feels like there’s slightly more of a chance of a big Sunday glossy magazine feature on, say, Lucas Pope and his brilliance, that there’s also more of a chance of, say, Panic’s Playdate being on the cover of a non-tech, non-consumer electronics, non-videogaming magazine, too.
I don’t even think we’re at an embryonic stage of how those traditional publishers engage with games, I think we’re still at the stage of “don’t know what to do about interactive media, now that we’ve got so many linear platforms to play with”. If everyone’s stuck figuring out what their TikTok strategy is (WaPo is doing well, in that I like their content and it works with me, but I have no idea how effective it is, it’s more like I read WaPo in the first place, and they happen to have a non-shit TikTok), rather than “show up”. In fact, the closest I might see traditional publishers and news organizations engage with games is through middleware like Unreal or Unity, see: The Weather Channel’s early and groundbreaking [sic] usage of Unreal to produce augmented reality virtual studio illustrations of exactly how much you don’t want to be in a hurricane. So sure, maybe you start to get more things like experience news in an environment more familiar to people who navigate videogames, but I don’t know. Not enough experiments.
Gene mentions Wordle, of course, and I’ve written here about how the NYT has totally left games on the table, especially after accidentally creating Spelling Bee, spurring the imagination of a sort of what if the NYT accidentally published Words with Friends. Crosswords (more than any of the other word games) feel like they were one bit of incidental revenue that newspapers treated as some sort of weird holdover that they couldn’t not keep doing, and perhaps were seen more as a cost center before someone else who really loved crosswords persuaded them that maybe they could charge for them online.
Look, basically what I’m saying is: the NYT is busy acquiring more content verticals (see: Wirecutter, The Athletic, also the hilarious story about the NYT trying to tell Athletic writers that they definitely don’t work at the NYT) to roll into what I’d call definitely don’t call it NYT+, so in what future would it make sense or under what strategy might it make sense for the NYT to do what Netflix has done (and, in a way, Apple appears to be half-heartedly doing with Apple Arcade) and add… whatever games have an NYT-sorta-vibe?
Okay, that’s it for today!
How are you doing? It is only Tuesday. How is it not Wednesday. It should be Wednesday already.
You know, like a Rainbow Code. ↩
Wildfire Smoke May Carry Deadly Fungi Long Distances, Maryn McKenna, Wired, 10 October, 2022 ↩
Cordyceps brain infection, The Last of Us Wiki ↩