dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
No Darker than Black today, since we did our shopping today instead of yesterday. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was busy most of yesterday, and also there were torrential rains almost all day. Not good weather for being out at all.

I did go out into it briefly, though. There's no Call of Cthulhu Replay even though game was scheduled because there were two cancellations at the last moment. Since we were all already on the way, [livejournal.com profile] mutantur, [tumblr.com profile] goodbyeomelas, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and I played Eldritch Horror. We fought the King in Yellow and won, barely--he awakened, but we managed to enter the gates and defeat him at the last moment. One more turn and we all would have gone insane and doomed the world. It's like the advice I heard about the perfect RPG experience being that the heroes should win, but barely. It produced that, though we didn't have the time to really get into it and read out all the cards.

No rain today, but we still stayed indoors for most of the day listening to podcasts and I played Stardew Valley. I was planning to play more Trails in the Sky SC, but instead I got almost all the way through summer, year two. I finally picked someone to marry as well. More on that when I finish the game I write my review. Maybe before the end of the year since I want to beat it in single-player before the multiplayer patch comes out. Then [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I will have a farm together. Emoji glomp

Speaking of podcasts, I found a new one to listen to. A genre I really like is in-world history lessons or lore explorations, like the Neo-Anarchist Podcast for Shadowrun or The Signal for Numenera. The one I found is called The Dark Archive, about the World of Darkness. It literally just started, so I don't know how far it's going to go, but since I'm rereading all my old Vampire books it came at the perfect time.

Also because this week was Parashat Bereshit and we had people over for Shabbat dinner. I had a very hard time while I was reading out the parasha before the discussion not thinking of The Book of Nod. Genesis 4:17-22 is basically "That's a vampire, that's a vampire, that's a vampire..."

Alright, let's see if I can get further in Trails in the Sky.
dorchadas: (Death Goth)
While nowadays I listen mostly to synthwave, chiptunes, and video game soundtracks, my playlists used to almost entirely consist of goth music. I picked Philadelphia for university without realizing that it was the headquarters for Dancing Ferret Discs, the record label for a lot of the bands I listened to--and probably named after the Dancing Ferret in the Borderlands series, something I didn't realize until recently--so I spent a good portion of time at places like Dracula's Ball. Then I got older, my tastes changed. It happens.  photo shrug2.gif

However, on the way to work I listen to music-based podcasts because I don't want to try to pay attention to a talk podcast over the noise of the L, and one of the podcasts I listen to is Communion After Dark, which is goth music, of course. A couple weeks ago they had a song that kept making me rewind to listen to it again, and when I got home I looked up the song and found the music video, and it may be the single most profound encapsulation of the goth scene in one video I've ever seen:


It starts off with the band making soulful gestures with profound gazes, on a black background, from the shoulders up. The lyrics are pure "you don't understand us, we are too deep for you":
We're nothing like you
A wall in black
We're nothing like you
And you don't get who we are

We're nothing like you
We dare the flow
We're nothing like you
And you don't know who we are

In a land of seals and sorrow
We kept waiting for the spark
So hail your kings and hail your queens
We're different, we're the children of the dark!
And then when the woman's voice cuts in, it's all people dressed up at concerts, smiling or making silly faces at the camera, and clearly having a great time dressing up and listening to music.

And that's it, isn't it? There is something kind of silly about dressing up in black lace and Victorian coats or strappy leather and vinyl. And who am I to comment? I dress like a mixture of a William Gibson character and a post-apocalyptic citadel denizen. But it's fun. That's why we do it. And sure, the beauty of the night and the emergent mono no aware inherent in decay, but sometimes I just like dressing up like the protagonist of Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines and listening to music like Another World or Deception or Burning Heretic or Ghost Love Score or Night of the Wolf.

I don't demand that everything I do justify itself on some cosmic scale anymore.  photo _thisorthat__or__compare__by_brokenboulevard-d4tole3.gif There are other things I can devote my emotional energy to. Like enjoying ridiculous music.

On digital noise

2016-Oct-05, Wednesday 09:46
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
Yesterday I came across this article by Andrew Sullivan about the downsides of constant digital connection. A lot of it is the same stuff that keeps popping up in articles everywhere, about how no one pays attention to each other anymore, and maybe we should put our phones down and actually talk to those next to us, and oh no why are people texting instead of calling, and the standard jeremiads about how smartphones are ruining the youths.  photo c9a2ed93dbfb11e324f5b3e281e5e1b2.gif All of that ignores how I can keep in contact with friends from around the world, study Japanese while standing on a packed train, find my way around a foreign country without having to carry paper maps or wander the streets, make restaurant reservations in seconds, tell [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou how long it will be until I can meet her in real time, and...well, if you're reading this, I don't have to keep elaborating because you know.

Multitasking degrades performance and people who read the news are more depressed, and it sounds like that was a lot of Andrew Sullivan's problems right there. But the part of the article that really drew my attention was this:
That Judeo-Christian tradition recognized a critical distinction — and tension — between noise and silence, between getting through the day and getting a grip on one’s whole life. The Sabbath — the Jewish institution co-opted by Christianity — was a collective imposition of relative silence, a moment of calm to reflect on our lives under the light of eternity. It helped define much of Western public life once a week for centuries — only to dissipate, with scarcely a passing regret, into the commercial cacophony of the past couple of decades. It reflected a now-battered belief that a sustained spiritual life is simply unfeasible for most mortals without these refuges from noise and work to buffer us and remind us who we really are. But just as modern street lighting has slowly blotted the stars from the visible skies, so too have cars and planes and factories and flickering digital screens combined to rob us of a silence that was previously regarded as integral to the health of the human imagination.
I don't currently have much silence in my life. Nearly every second of every day, I'm listening to a podcast. Even when I'm reading in bed at night, there's usually a podcast and some music going, since I'm trying to listen to and rate most of my music. And there are definitely times when I realized that I've been listening to a podcast for an hour and can't remember what any of it was.

Is that a problem, that I just want podcast noise in the background sometimes? Would I be better served by just setting Rain Rain on rain-on-roof and thunder sounds while I read? Obviously this doesn't apply in all situations--I remember work before I started listening to music and then podcasts, and it seemed to last a lot longer and was far more boring--but am I doing myself a disservice by eschewing silence elsewhere?

I remember the nights in Chiyoda. Living in the suburbs or the city as I had until that point, I hadn't really understood how quiet and dark the night was. I can just imagine my ancestors in England in winter during the new moon, when everything was deathly silent and pitch black, huddled indoors by the fire. That's why we lit the night (and why we, unlike the Japanese, have central heating). But I do remember going for walks in the hills around Chiyoda, and while it wasn't silent, the only sounds were the wind and the cicadas, the frogs, or the crunch of leaves or snow. Japanese has a word for that: 森林浴 (shinrinyoku, "forest bathing").

Sometimes I look forward to the day when I will have listened to all my podcasts. I wonder if my brain is trying to tell me something?  photo ashamed2.gif

WWII Dream

2016-Jan-14, Thursday 09:46
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
I dreamed that my wife and I were in the Allied army during the invasion of Germany during World War II. It was a dream WWII, with pristine fields and a lot of people wearing civilian clothes everywhere, but in that dream way I knew where it was and what was going on.

Everyone was wearing civilian clothes and I don't think anyone had any weaponry, but we were advancing through the bocage in groups. My platoon was lead by...my parents, again in civilian clothes, just strolling around. [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou was with me too, plus a bunch of dream people whose faces didn't stick with me.

About the only indication that it was wartime was when we were securing an abandoned farm and we found a pile of dead animals behind the barn. A few farm animals, but mostly pets, like all the pets in the town had been taken to one place. Just flies buzzing around and the smell of decay in the air, but I haven't actually seen a pile of dead animals so it was more like a video game-style textured static object. It was just a bit unreal.

I kept expecting zombies or something to attack, because me dreaming about zombies is definitely a recurring theme, but no enemies of any kind, Wehrmacht or otherwise, ever showed up. It was just my parents leading the platoon through sunny fields and cutting through hedges while seeing no one and hearing no sounds of battle anywhere. Eventually, we found a farm that was occupied, and it's a good thing my father knew German (he spent his senior year of high school in Germany), because the farmer and his wife invited us in for breakfast. They were cooking eggs and frying up bacon in a surprisingly modern-looking kitchen when my alarm went off and I woke up. I'm positive the bacon was being cooked in a panini-style grill, which I'd bet money that few Germany families used during WWII.

I remember being worried what the family would think when I turned down the bacon, but I woke up before the dream got to that point.

I suspect this was all spurred by finally downloading episodes of the History of World War II podcast to listen to. I've had that on my queue for two years now, but I haven't gotten around to it until now, so maybe my brain thought it was momentous enough for it to show up in my dreams.
dorchadas: (Default)
I'm sure that comes as news to none of you.

I was going to write about this in my New Year's Retrospective, but since I forgot it gets its own post. One of the other changes I made in 2015 is that I started listening to new music again. I only listened to the radio for about two years during the 90s when I was mowing my parents' lawn and needed something to listen to, so that's the sum total of my exposure to pop music. Once I went away to university and found Napster, I developed a taste of goth and industrial spurred by buying a copy of "Music from the Succubus Club," probably after seeing an ad for it in a Vampire: the Masquerade supplement, and that's what I listened to for a while. That fell away over time, though, and by the time I was living in Japan I didn't really listen to any music at all other than the ambient zone music when we'd play World of Warcraft. Even on my two hour each-way commute, I mostly slept.

That changed when I started working at the AMA and learned I could use headphones. Not too long after that, I found 8bit Peoples, an online repository of free chiptunes albums, and that got me into chiptunes. And then I developed a podcast addiction, and a few of the podcasts I added were music ones. I currently listen to:
  • The Irish and Celtic Music Podcast: I used to listen to a lot of Celtic music, but it fell almost completely out of favor in the last decade. This is still probably my least favorite of the music podcasts I listen to, but I've found quite a few gems.

  • This Week in Chiptune: When I found this, I went back over the course of a couple months of commutes and listened to every single back episode. Love those bleeps and boops.

  • Group Therapy with Above and Beyond: I think this showed up in the top podcasts category and I subscribed to it on a whim. There's a lot of stuff that's obvious way better to dance to than to listen to on the L, but I've found some surprisingly (to me) good songs, like this one or this one or this one. I skip past the four-on-the-floor stuff and don't miss it.

  • Space Radio: This updates only irregularly and has a bit of a variable quality, but I like it when it comes out. However, it did inspire me to find:

  • Communion After Dark: This one is amazing, and is probably another one that I'll go through the entire archives of. It's like being back at Dracula's Ball, and this podcast reminded me that bands like Diary of Dreams, Beborn Beton, Neuroticfish, Suicide Commando, et al still exist and are still making music. They have a relatively wide reach, though--this song showed up on the podcast and ended up being launched straight on to my cyberpunk playlist.

  • Steampunk Radio: I have no idea how this is "streampunk" or if it's ever going to continue after the first few episodes, but what I found is pretty neat. Like, this song--how is that "steampunk"? I mean, it's really good, but does it fit the advertising? Not sure about that.
That gives me plenty of weekly new music exposure.

Also, Bandcamp. It's not actually any different than poking around any other digitial music service, but for some reason I've taken to it more. I've found great stuff like Halfont 2 by William Kage (guy composes music using the soundfonts of 16-bit games, so they sound like lost tracks), I Am the Night by Perturbator (another for the cyberpunk playlist), The Spoony Bards by The Spoony Bards (shoutout to [livejournal.com profile] stephen_poon!), Transmission Lost by Sjellos (I have a whole selection of albums that are basically low hums, groaning metal, and space noises set to music), Tome I by Erang (Bandcamp introduced me to Dungeon Synth as a genre)...I could go on. You can see everything I've bought here if you want an example of my modern musical taste.

I've also gotten heavily into Overclocked ReMix (edit:and its podcast) again now that they're posting more. They're a big chunk of what I listen to on my commute if I don't have any podcast updates, and I jumped on their Patreon as soon as they set it up--which also introduces me to new music, since one of the perks is that I get a free album every month from the selection on Overclocked Records, not all of which are video game related. Of what I've gotten, I can recommend the Tale of the Rat King OST by Tom Miller and Quixotica by .mpegasus. I admit, I haven't listened to as many of these as I should, but I just recently sorted them into their own playlist and once I put them on my phone, I can go through them.

This turned out longer than I thought. I guess it's a good thing I gave it its own post?
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
So yesterday, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, [livejournal.com profile] chronicluscious, and I watched the X-Files, which I have never seen before.


That always catches people by surprise when I tell them about it ([livejournal.com profile] chronicluscious's roommate and [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat were both astonished), which I think it's a reasonable reaction. I mean, look at the way I dress. Look at how I love conspiracy theories. Look at the music I listen to and how I have whole albums of what's basically X-Files background spooky music (I recommend Cryobiosis, Sabled Sun, or Atrium Carceri). Look at how I ran a three-year-long game of Delta Green, which I always describe as "X-Files crossed with Call of Cthulhu" even though technically, the very first game of what would become Delta Green ran at a convention in March of 1993, six months before the X-Files pilot aired.

And as it turned out, a good quarter of the backchat was [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I throwing Delta Green references back and forth that meant nothing to [livejournal.com profile] chronicluscious.  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif

I've picked up a lot of things about X-Fies over the years just through geek osmosis, like the black oil, the alien bounty hunters, the flukeman, and so on, but I've mostly managed to remain unspoiled about the actual episodes. And then the first episode we watched was Post-Modern Prometheus, which is probably the least representative way to go into the show. But once that was done, we went back to the beginning and started in and...yeah. Why haven't I watched this already?

 photo abkB6ej.gif

Part of the answer to that can probably be found in how I had to make a 'television' tag for this post, because I've apparently never written about it before.  photo emot-v.gif

I can see why there's so much internet love for Scully, though I have some reservations since I know that Mulder's always right and it is always a werewolf or aliens or vampires or witches or mutants or ghosts (are there ghosts? Not actually sure about that one). It's a bit like Kirk and Spock--it's hard to have a proxy debate about reason vs. emotion when one side is always right. But that's me bringing in outside knowledge, and I'm going to try to avoid doing that as much as I can.

In a moment of  photo emot-irony.gif, I just started listening to Kumail Nanjiani's The X-Files Files a couple weeks ago, figuring that I'd probably never make time to actually sit down and watch the show so I might as well pick it up second hand. And, well, it turns out I was wrong and now we're planning to watch the whole run, or at least up to the point where it goes to shit. Wherever that is. I'm sure I'll find out!

Podverload

2015-Jul-23, Thursday 12:52
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
So obviously on my vacation to Oregon I couldn't listen to many podcasts, though I did occasionally listen while we were driving or at night while I was reading before bed. I listen to a lot of podcasts (134 on my phone at the moment), and I have them pretty well calibrated so that as I spend the vast majority of my waking hours listening to podcasts, I'll listen to them just slightly faster than they come in.

Obviously, two weeks of only occasional listening is going to throw that schedule off, and now my phone is choked full of podcasts to the point where I can't download them all.

I'm pretty sure that this is in the dictionary under the definition of "First World Problems."

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