Fickle Fascinations

I like a lot of things.

Motherhood and Endurance. And Badgers: ‘Shelter’

Forget modern-day military shooters, the hot new trend in video-games is parenting simulators. Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us recently explored the paternal side of parenting from the perspective of two rather violent men (Booker DeWitt and Joel ‘McGrizzled’ respectively). The new game from Might and Delight (makers of the lovely Pidintroduces a gentler motherhood through the lens of, uh, a badger!

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Meet the badgers.

Yes, you play as a badger, waking from long hibernation with a clutch of five newborn cubs. The burden of responsibility is immediately felt, and your only goal is to ensure the survival of your tiny, helpless, and very cute offspring.

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Impressions of ‘Hannibal': Episode 1-6 (Apéritif to Entrée)

“Here we are. A bunch of psychopaths helping each other out.”

Be very assured, NBC’s new series, Hannibal, is not made for light, pre-bedtime viewing. The violence, or rather the result of violence, is always frighteningly real. Even the more fantastical scenes of murder–such as the soon-to-be-infamous ‘mushroom’ episode–are presented with an innate sense of believability, and some even with a perverse beauty. The blood and muck and grime are so convincingly realised, so nearly tangible, that at the close of each episode I had the overwhelming desire to have a long, cleansing shower; to scrub away at invisible gore like Lady Macbeth. Hannibal invites you to get close and intimate with murder: to delve nose-first into scenes of carnage and penetrate into the mind-set of these psychos and maniacs.

Hannibal

The cast of ‘Hannibal’.

All of this is coupled with a thick, oppressive atmosphere–there ain’t much levity here!–meaning Hannibal is not the most compulsive of shows. But six episodes in, it’s undeniably fantastic.

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Strongman

Yesterday, I began Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, highlighted by io9 as essential reading for any aspiring writer. (While this post is not intended as a glowing endorsement of this book, it may well read as such). On Writing begins with fuzzy remembrance by King of his early childhood; he admits, quite refreshingly, that his memories are vague at best. It is rather reassuring we do not all have photographic cognition of our youth.

Stephen King in his natural habitat.

Stephen King in his natural habitat.

One of the first anecdotes he recounts is that of his two-year old self carrying a cement breeze-block through his garage whilst imagining the adulation of a crowd towards he, the self-proclaimed strongest boy in the world:

“Their wondering faces told the story: never had they seen such an incredibly strong kid. ‘And he’s only two! someone muttered in disbelief.” (p. 4-5)

His fantasy is quickly crushed–along with his toes–when a wasp stings his ear, causing him to drop the block on his feet. This faintly amusing, painful sounding anecdote caused me to remember–with startling clarity–a similar moment from my own childhood, albeit without the footsore denouement.

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Least Concern

Treading the familiar walk down to the subterranean,

Threading through the coughs and splutters,

And the extended hands,

He falls into step behind a winged-rat which presumes a pursuit.

———————

The most loathed of all the city’s denizens,

That ubiquitous urbane doo,

Unloved except by those lonely old men carrying

Their plastic bags of spare, stale Hovis.

———————

Yet pity the unlucky many,

Whose toes are ripped away,

And hobble for the slim pickings;

The crumbs from a morning roll.

———————

(Note: should one fly over your head,

Be thankful it’s not one of those gallus gulls).

———————

Almost trampled into the mire, the bird quickens pace,

Weaving and careening,

Frantically trying to escape,

From the commuter’s clumping boot.

———————

Finally, as if  recalling its one gift and singular talent,

It flails out its wings and takes to flight (of sorts),

And eludes the relentless, oblivious oblivion

Of the leathered menace.

In Defence of Posthumous Appreciation

The last few weeks have seen the death of two giants of literature: Iain (M.) Banks and Richard Matheson. By all accounts, the loss of both of these writers is a significant blow to the literary world, and indeed the wider cultural sphere. After such sad events, we often have an instant impulse–and a natural and understandable one at that–to read more of their work, especially in the wake of so many gushing tributes and general media coverage. Yet I think many feel a sense of shame or embarrassment at this compunction or instinct. We fear the label of ‘bandwagoner’. But we shouldn’t.

Iain Banks only weeks before his death.

Coincidentally, my exposure to both authors prior to their mutually untimely passing was relatively limited. When I was a moody teen, I read Banks’ The Wasp Factory and enjoyed it–though ‘enjoyed’ doesn’t adequately describe my feelings towards such a dark and disturbing little book! Similarly, I read Matheson’s I Am Legend during a powerful and protracted phase of solely reading dystopian, post-apocalyptic novels. Both books were worthy and thought-provoking; they also generated that warm, fuzzy feeling one receives after completing a ‘good book’. (Incidentally, does that feeling have a name yet?). Afterwards, by accident, I just never got around to reading any more of their stories.

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