It’s the 30th and I’m still on track for Jamuary. In fact I have #30 mostly set up even before 9 AM (several instances of Aalto that are set up for 8-voice drones with linear frequency detuning…).

I’ve been evaluating my recordings to try to decide what to include on an “official” release. So far it’s 12 Yes, 4 Probably, 6 Maybe, 2 Doubtful and 5 No. This is a worse ratio than typical for me, but I’ve taken Jamuary as an opening to experiment a bit more, and also to rush through a bit more than usual… and outside of Jamuary if something wasn’t working out I’d just delete it instead of bulling on ahead.

Some general lessons I’ve picked up from the exercise:

  • The big one is that I can do it. I really can record and finish and post a track every day. Some days it’s easier than others, of course.
  • The weakest of my tracks are the ones that feel too random. Generative sequences without enough repetition, or ostinatos without a good contour to them, or takes when the improvisation just didn’t result in a good “story arc” for the piece and couldn’t easily be fixed with some editing.
  • The other weak tracks are the ones where I tried too much to go rhythmic. It seems to me like for those to work, I need to keep it dead serious and fairly droney. Getting even a little bit whimsical usually doesn’t work so well.
  • I feel like most of my mixes are good (especially considering they’re done “live”) and I’ve gotten comments about that in the past. But sometimes I go overboard on sound design with one of the voices — usually too brash or too distorted — and it doesn’t sit well with the rest. When I distort hard I probably also should be filtering hard by default.
  • My fadeouts are often a bit too fast and need some fixing afterward. This is not a new realization, but I might have been a little worse with it during Jamuary or simply encountered more of them. Maybe the lesson will stick now though?
  • I’ve been dipping into Bitwig’s Note Grid a bit more, and I think it has a lot of potential as an interesting hybrid between modular and DAW sequences, not to mention generative potential. If I tame it, that is… just randomness into a quantizer isn’t great. Anyway, it’s something I plan to explore more in the future.

I’ve “beaten” Soulstone Survivors… that is, I have completed all the in-game achievements, and all the Steam achievements except three related to a “secret” holiday level. I feel like I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of the game mechanics, which are more complex than you might expect from this sort of game and certainly worlds beyond Vampire Survivors.

I’ve found that classes that lack access to at least Holy, but preferably Chaos and/or Arcane, can struggle — so it’s best to use Mastery runes to unlock those. Arcane Power and/or Bloodlust are incredible multipliers for any attack that stacks debuffs on the enemy. Chaos Golems are a great tanky distraction. There are several great Arcane and Holy attack spells, too.

I relied on guides quite a bit at first, but some of them make ridiculous claims of success with them which I think came down to luck of the draw, and were pretty disappointing in actual use. One of my favorite builds was my own discovery. Sentinel with Storm of Arrows, Spread Shot, Frag Shot, Bloodlust and Chaos Golems — and if you’ve unlocked it, add Chromatic Bolt and take the Executioner and Generalist runes. This is the build where I got the sub-8 minute completion time achievement (7:32 — the best I did with a build from a guide was 8:11), and also completed Dhal Zhog with all curses through Tier 6 without even needing a revive.

Anyway, I will probably keep playing the game, but a bit more casually and sporadically now that everything’s unlocked. It’s too soon to go back to Guild Wars 2 I think. What next, then?

I’ve been reading Too Like the Lightning and I don’t know why I haven’t given up on it. It’s pretentious. The narrator comes off as a smarmy creep all too often, and that’s before (spoilers). I can’t tell if it’s the author’s honest version of a utopia but with obvious flaws they didn’t see, or a sort of transparent straw man argument against wokeness, or both.

To name a couple of things: churches and proselytization are 100% banned. There’s a kind of counselor who can talk to people about matters of faith — only in the most abstract ways, using very cautious language full of hypotheticals — but any three people talking about faith is categorized as a “church.” And yet this is in a world where people choose their own governmental/societal affiliations regardless of geography; can you imagine there is nobody who insists on freedom of religion, at least for themselves?

Gender, in this future, is also an outmoded and somewhat distasteful concept. Everyone is a “they” whether they like it or not; gender identity is not a factor. And it doesn’t work, because the creepy narrator keeps interrupting the story to apologize to the reader for gendering people “he” or “she” based on the narrator’s own perceptions of their personality traits making it supposedly obvious. The person’s own identity or preference of pronoun is never a factor — which just makes things worse.

I feel like both of these completely miss the point. People want freedom both of and from religion, not to ban everyone from being able to worship in private or among like-minded people. People want freedom both of and from gender and its complications, not to deny both identity and choice and declare that nobody is masculine or feminine.

Maybe the author agrees with me, and there’s a sort of double irony thing going on here. But the book comes off a bit as “this is the future that woke-ists want and it’s a disaster.” Really, it’s the ambiguity that is bugging me… and again, maybe that is the author’s intent. That’s pretty much the opposite of what I want in my escapist fiction though.

Add to that a conflict that honestly doesn’t feel like it has any credible stakes, and some plot points that stretch credibility quite a lot, and did I mention the narrator turns out to be REALLY gross? I honestly don’t know why I haven’t given up. There’s something compelling and I’m not sure what it is. Or maybe I’m just being stubborn about it — usually if I give up on a book it’s in the first couple of chapters.

Not recommended.

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