Somewhere, recently, two weeks have been misplaced… I’m pretty sure they happened, but I’m damned if I can tell you what I did that took up a whole fortnight. Oh well, that seems to be the way of things at present. I’ve been working from home for something like seventy-five days, which feels both completely normal and utterly insane. The only bit I’ve got any clear recollection of is the last weekend, and a half-arsed list of things I’ve watched. It’s possible I’ve only played LEGO Star Wars – The Complete Saga on our Wii and then gone to sleep. I’m failing to read, or to concentrate enough to read quickly. It’s frustrating as reading is my most relaxing activity. I’ve abandoned about three novels and picked up The Best of John Wyndham and am slowly, so very very slowly, working my through it. Totally Brewed continue to be my drinktrack (y’know, like a soundtrack, but with drinking!) to the pandemic with their end of the week deliveries. Fine, fine humans. I’ve also been idly flicking through the obscenely large and beautiful Hardware: The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss featuring so many science fiction book covers I recognise, especially all those Asmimov and EE Doc Smith covers I still have on my shelves. Seriously, it’s a beast of a tome, and I’ll be browsing it for months to come.
What else? Well, while the world burns (more, I guess), I find I’m just dissolving into anxiety and distraction. I’m not pleased about the return of cold and rain which has driven me out of my garden office either. Still, some good things have definitely happened. I’ve been trying to get lost while cycling in the mornings, with some success. I’ve refused to look at maps of the area around Attenborough Nature Reserve, but it all seems very pretty. On Saturday, my sister invited me to teach a mob of Beavers how to talk like a pirate on Zoom. That was fun! There were some excellent homemade cutlasses and flags. In the evening I played my first ever roleplaying game, which was also great. I’m very grateful to our GM, Diarmuid, who invited me to play along in Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, even knowing that I had no idea what was happening and thoroughly bumping me out of my comfort zone of drinking and watching TV; and to my fellow smugglers who were funny and exceedingly patient. Our one-shot game was called Scum, focusing on a gang of misfit smugglers (not intentionally misfit, but geez, once we we were set loose on characters…) with the job of jail-breaking a Hutt. I enjoyed playing a Tusken Raider, named Sahwa-wa, who saw his clan murdered by the rogue Jedi, Anakin Skywalker. My revenge was foiled when all the Jedi disappeared, leaving me seething and unable to do anything about it. I carry a dismembered protocol droid to translate for me, and my bantha lives in / fills my cabin. I blew a general’s head off! We did eventually succeed, and many people died. We had fun!
Watching: Upload season one
This is a curious little TV show, exploring the banal horrors of a digital afterlife. Programmer, Nathan, gets uploaded after being in a rare car accident. Only he’s been talked into it by his overbearing girlfriend, and may not have been about to die at all… Once in the horrendously expensive Lake View – because of course only the truly wealthy can lead the afterlife they really want to – he discovers worrying gaps in his memory about what his job was and that he might have been killed. It’s a funny show, with a rather cynical tone which appealed to me. The scene where they try to download the founder of digital afterlife, with catastrophic results is bloody and hilarious. The tedium of the hotel-based afterlife, the bug-filled digital world, the sometimes awful people Nathan is now stuck with, and a growing relationship with his living customer service rep all contribute to a genuinely delightful nightmare. Nathan’s existence is ultimately controlled by his (living) girlfriend’s whims, dressing him, denying him access to the endless microtransactions, and making his funeral all about her. Lovely brightly coloured dystopia.
Watching: Friday Night Dinner seasons 3-4
This one might be more a matter of taste… I’ve really enjoyed this sitcom composed of the Friday night meals of a secular Jewish family. The cast is exceptional, featuring Tamsin Greig (who should already be a national treasure), with Paul Ritter, as mum and dad, with Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal. Very keen on slapstick and characters just this side of over the top, the foursome’s constant conflict is a real joy. A supporting cast including Mark Heap (another one who needs national treasure badging) makes this near-perfect. The last couple of seasons have featured a frozen fox, grandma marrying a total cunt, awful old college mates, vicious little blackmailing kids and so much more. “My nipples are boiling,” kinda sums this show up for me.
Doing: We Are What We Overcome podcast – Mental Health Check-In
We’re still going! Our fortnightly Facebook Live things are becoming a thing in their own right, which is nice. We’re aiming to check in first and foremost, with a theme or discussion topic to focus our current experiences around. Last week we talked about anger, which feels fairly timely, to say the least. It’s a strange feeling, one that can destroy you or push you to achieve and create all sorts of things.
Doing: MissImp’s Virtual Drop-Ins (double this time)
First up, an amazing introduction to freestyle rap, which makes it almost seem possible…
Followed by the rather wonderful Twinprov and “Re-imagining the Virtual Space: Creativity and Connection Together, Apart“