Things I Do in My Room – February 2017
A disappointing month in that I managed to not watch a single film, despite it being Oscars season. I’d loved to have watched Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea or Fences or even La La Land (and I hate musicals), but my lack of money and the cinema’s need to rinse everyone who enters put paid to those desires. February can do one.
I also didn’t finish any TV series this month. I started watching The O.A. but have only made it four episodes in and I’m finding it harder each time to get over how fucking silly the entire thing is. I’ll talk about it next month when I finally finish season one.
I’m also adding an albums section. Albums will only make it in if it’s the first time I’ve listened to the album from start to finish in a single sitting.
Books I Read
Crime and Punishment (1866) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – It was long but it was exciting. Lots of death, lots of misery, lots of poverty-stricken children–Dostoyevsky plays with nihilism but he loves his characters. It’s a great book.
The most impressive part of Crime and Punishment is how you can find Dostoyevsky in his characters. The worst parts of him are examined, repurposed, and re-presented in new forms. It’s great,
The Medium Is the Massage (1967) by Marshall McLuhan – Trendy as all shit. I pretended to have read McLuhan all through my master’s, so I thought I’d actually give him a shot. I liked the pictures.
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil (2005) by George Saunders – This novella has grown into a bizarrely apt metaphor for Trump’s rise to power, and is likely doomed to be remembered as such. It manages to be hilarious and terrifying at the same time, and if that doesn’t reflect a world where men like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson can rise to power, nothing does.
In Persuasion Nation (2006) by George Saunders – These short stories are bizarre, hilarious, and fantastic. George Saunders just spoke in my city but the event was fully booked. Instead I went and bought his collection Tenth of December. Sigh.
Emerald City and Other Stories (1996) by Jennifer Egan – Great stories. Egan is ruthless and has a knack for turning mundane domestic scenarios into character studies of startling power.
Winter Stars (1985) by Larry Levis – Larry is my favourite poet. He occupies the comfortable middle ground between wise, lyrical, and trendy, and never crosses over into intimidating experimentalism. I don’t like feeling stupid.
TV I Watched
The O.A. (4 episodes) – Never has a show been so silly and yet taken itself so seriously. It’s well-shot I guess, and I hear episode five is the big one that blows minds.
Albums I Listened to
Skeleton Key (2016) by Nick Cave – Dwell for too long on Nick Cave and he’ll start to irritate you. The album is good, yet despite all the son-death he still sings predominantly about mysterious, leggy women. Stick to what you know eh?
Away (2016) by Okkervil River – Gorgeous, and much better than The Silver Gymnasium. “Okkervil River R.I.P.” and “Comes Indiana Through the Smoke” are bangerz. The album ends with twelve minutes of ambient forest sounds. You’re pushing your damn luck, Sheff.
You Want It Darker (2016) by Leonard Cohen – As lovely as everything else he goes within a few feet of. That said, his voice has reached almost parodic levels of depth–on occasion it’s just a rumbly vibration.
The Satanist (2014) by Behemoth – O FATHER, O SATAN, O SUN! One of the best metal albums of the last several years. The arrangements are incredible, Nergal’s voice is brutal, and he’s clearly done his Biblical research, which lends the whole Satan-worshipping vibe a worrying level of authenticity.
Les Enfants Sauvages (2014) by Gojira – I accidentally bought this instead of L’Enfant Sauvage, and a live album is never going to be the best way to get into a band. That said, it’s a hell of a live album–Gojira seem to me like Meshuggah meets Bodom meets Mastodon. Very, very heavy, in that steelworks assembly line kind of way.
Games I Played
Darkest Dungeon (PC, 2016) – Lovecraftian as Chthulhu and savagely unforgiving. You recruit Victorian heroes (choosing from fun classes like Leper, Highwayman, and Vestal), lead them into grimy holes, and watch the random number generator fuck you over and over again until all your heroes get too stressed and die of heart attacks. Rinse and repeat.