Friday, November 14

One Track Mind: Lovecraft in Brooklyn

Track title: Lovecraft in Brooklyn
Artist: Mountain Goats
Album: Heretic Pride

Whither H.P. Lovecraft? He of the overwrought, modern classical horror narratives, purveyor of all things "squamous" and "rugose?" He seems to be enjoying a minor renaissance among the net's intelligentsia, despite his bizarre proclivities towards eugenics and other outright violations of political correctness. Taste-makers from BoingBoing to MeFi peddle Cthulhu-themed tea-cozies and other mind-boggling, long-tail elements of niche hipster consumerism gone awry. Modern auteurs such as Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro borrow liberally from the fertile, feotid soil of ol' Howard Phillips' imagination, with admittedly entertaining results.

None of this excuses the truly execrecable aspects of Lovecraft's actual oeuvre, from his gender theories to his prose. And yet, despite his horribility, Lovecraft's stock continues to rise among present-day interwebbers. I can't explain it.

Now, something exists that might excuse these aspects of Lovecraft, and that is this song by the Mountain Goats.

H.P. Lovecraft, you can keep doing whatever it is you do, so long as you continue to posthumously inspire rock and roll such as this.

P.S. I like the double entendre of the song's rallying cry: "I feel like Lovecraft in Brooklyn." At first listen, I did not think of Lovecraft the Proper Noun, but rather "lovecraft" the possible neologism in the vein of "statecraft" or "songcraft." I feel like lovecraft in Brooklyn indeed.

Monday, November 3


There's a link on today's Penny Arcade to what Tycho aptly describes as 'a meditation on starting into Fallout 3'. It's about appreciation and immersion, and it brought me to a pretty weird realization about myself.

This entry aside (oh god the irony), I don't spend all that much time in self-reflection; I prefer to live my life over thinking about it, even to the extent of preferring to plan as little as possible and just let events and other people's desires guide my actions. I like to think of myself as pretty immersed in my own life. But when I play games, I'm almost always playing some sort of meta-game, looking for cheats and walkthroughs on wikis. (Scroll down a bit, or ctrl-F for that link text, to see what I'm talking about there.  It's important, and not just for what I'm talking about now.) Even single-player games, where there's no competition, so there's no reward for metagaming. Why do I do that? Why do I have such a hard time turning in a quest without my refer-a-friend buddy there so I get triple XP?  Why do I reload my Civ games when Imperial Japan goes to war with me because of a decision I made 4 turns ago, so that I can repair the timeline and not get involved in the conflict until I have tanks and they barely have musketmen? The few times when the rules and context of a game have made it difficult to metagame -- Prince of Persia's built-in metastory comes to mind, as do the few times I've played 4x games multiplayer -- I've almost always enjoyed the game more.  But I can hardly stop myself from turning to the web when I hit the slightest roadblock, or from urging my friends to use voice comm in MMOs.

How do I just let the stories happen, and not worry about the man behind the curtain?