Diamond Dogs


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an interesting failure. Or at least its greatness is inextricably tangled up in its badness. Its ambition and craftsmanship is as breathtaking as its vices are frustrating. True to the game’s subtitle and themes, by the end of it all I was left with a kind of haunted, phantom pain feeling. And I can’t decide if that’s a feature or a bug.

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If superior in degree to other men and to his environment, the hero is the typical hero of romance, whose actions are marvelous but who is himself identified as a human being. The hero of romance moves in a world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended: prodigies of courage and endurance, unnatural to us, are natural to him, and enchanted weapons, talking animals, terrifying ogres and witches, and talismans of miraculous power violate no rule of probability once the postulates of romance have been established. Here we have moved from myth, properly so called, into legend, folk tale, marchen, and their literary affiliates and derivatives.

Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism

I’m still around: the start of a new semester, combined with a bad cold and general lack of inspiration robbed me of my desire to publish anything here.

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Old and new

claw of the

Looks like my blog completely bypassed the octave of Christmas, leaving my Dickens audiobook hanging. Perhaps next year I’ll get around to the second stave of A Christmas Carol. It’s still not quite over yet, so – Merry Christmas!

Speaking of unfulfilled tasks, I’ve begun re-reading The Book of the New Sun. Anyone who’s spent some time on this blog knows that this book means a lot to me. So much so that I began a chapter by chapter exegesis a year or so ago. My hope is that this re-read will help prime me to resume that project.

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Obligatory Star Wars: The Force Awakens post


Warning! Danger! Clicking below the fold will result in the new Star Wars being spoiled for you! Oh no! Avert your eyes! Whatever you do, don’t click!

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Bah, humbug!

Oh hey, whadyaknow, Christmas is less than two weeks away. Luckily, I remembered to get you what you wanted this year: a bad audiobook recording by yours truly!

Yes, now you can listen to me read from that most famous Christmas story by one of the greatest authors in the English language. I speak, of course, of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Please enjoy the first chapter of this classic tale (if you have nothing else to do for 40 minutes, I guess):

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Top ten books of 2015

It’s that time of year again. As always, this list is composed of books I read in 2015, not necessarily books that were published in 2015. Indeed, none of the books on this list hit the shelves this year. The order is alphabetical by author.

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ffv logo

(Spoiler disclaimer, etc.)

Nostalgia is unfair. Our fondness for the things of our past often leads to the overlooking of faults and the elevation of mediocrities while worthier art languishes. And that dynamic has affected the western reception of Final Fantasy V, since, unlike its siblings on either side, vanishingly few westerners can claim it as an object of nostalgia.

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A (moral) NaNo victory

A few days ago, at around the 25,000 word mark, I completed the first Part/Book/Act of my NaNoWriMo novel. I stopped writing a couple of pages after that. This was partly because my schedule was getting tight, but also because I realized while writing that there were enough significant lacunae in my worldbuilding and research such that I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to cross the finish line before addressing them.

I know that NaNo is supposed to be about quantity over quality, but I think that I’ve gone as far as haphazardness can take me with this story – a more methodical approach is required now. And so I find I’m more than willing to turn my sights away from the virtual badge of crossing the 50,000 word line.

Perhaps this is all an elaborate psychological excuse of my laziness, but I prefer to think of it as a sort of moral NaNo victory.

(On a related note, does anyone have good recommendations for books on Medieval chivalry and combat? I have a feeling that Medieval Otaku may have something to say here)

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It’s not exactly Heinlein, but…

The main criticism directed towards Ridley Scott’s The Martian is that it is a series of hard sci-fi/engineering problems strung together on a thin plot with minimal characterization. This is true, but I’m not sure it qualifies as a criticism. It’s a bit like complaining that an Agatha Christie novel is largely an exercise of applying logical inductions and deductions to some forensic observations.

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Aegloga Vndecima


But nowe sadde Winter welked hath the day,
And Phoebus weary of his yerely take,
Ystabled hath his steedes in lowlye laye,
And taken vp his ynne in Fishes haske…

-From “Nouember” in Edmund Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender

So it turns out that writing both a thesis and a novel while studying two languages doesn’t leave a lot of free time for blogging.

In spite of hitting a number of, “oh crap I should have researched this,” moments, my NaNo novel is still clicking along. And I do feel as though my English major is finally paying some practical dividends both for my Old Testament thesis (which is more literary in method than historical-critical) and for the novel, which is more shamelessly gnawing at choice morsels from the western canon than any of my previous NaNo attempts.

And I do appreciate this unusually mild November.

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