Test results are back and my spouse is negative for COVID-19. Whew!

It was what we expected, but it’s still a relief. Aside from the threat of actual harm from the disease, to have to quarantine and wear a mask and feel possibly unsafe in one’s own home, which is supposed to be a sanctuary, is not a great feeling. Nor is separating yourself from a loved one (in my case, pretty much the only person I interact with directly at this point).

I’ve finished reading Chris Hedges’ War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and woo boy, is that not the book to read when you’re already down. It’s in a somewhat similar vein to Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket, but if anything it’s darker and bleaker. It was not a fun read, but I do think more people should read stuff like this to immunize themselves from the mythologization of war — the nationalist propaganda, the very idea of “a just war,” the canonization of murder and martyrdom, the self-destruction of culture and memory.

Perhaps ironically, the book I am looking forward to (in just a couple of days) is Rhythm of War, the fourth in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. But then, major themes in this series are the questioning the assumed rightness of one’s cause, and the realization that “honor” and “glory” are amoral at best.

For now I’m finishing the Sprawl trilogy with Mona Lisa Overdrive. If I do choose a cyberpunk theme for my next album, I think it’ll be specifically Neuromancer-inspired rather than just general tropes or a fiction of my own. But it won’t be particularly about Case, Molly, Wintermute, etc. or a “soundtrack to the novel” sort of thing necessarily, either; it will be a step removed from the story but more closely related to the language and feel of the thing. I’ve gathered 15 possible song titles, though I like some more than others.

I’ve also been watching High Score Girl, about gamer kids in Tokyo in the 90s. The story centers not on a girl, but a boy who is a slacker and doesn’t really have anything going for him but his skill at Street Fighter II. The main female protagonist never speaks, and in fact is completely absent from a few episodes… which is unusual given that a lot of the story seems to be parodizing and dismantling sexist tropes. Overall it’s kind of sweet and kind of dumb, but entertaining enough.

A major part of the appeal for some is the nostalgia, of course. As a nostalgia vehicle it is certainly less obnoxious and one-note than Ready Player One and its ilk. But for me, arcade nostalgia is centered in the early to mid 80s. My dad worked in an arcade and I’d often accompany him on Sunday mornings to help out a bit and then play a lot of games free. In the early 90s I was in college, and in the mid-90s I moved half a continent away and was playing PC games and PlayStation (I mainly favored racing games, thanks to Wipeout, Ridge Racer and Gran Turismo). The Golden Age of arcades had faded by the mid 90s too. So my nostalgia is more for Marble Madness, 720°, Tetris, Galaga ’88, Joust, TRON, Xevious, Gauntlet, Out Run. I strongly suspect that a lot of my love for FM synthesis and certain kinds of synth sounds comes from the games of that era, particularly the Atari ones.

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