Sunday, February 21, 2010

Enwanderment: Neil Gaiman

One doesn’t just pack up and visit Tuscaloosa on a whim, I went with a purpose. And perhaps the legendary South loomed so heavily on me because of my purpose. I went to see Neil Gaiman, and just as it was my first time in Alabama, it was apparently his too, which is a shame. The monumental temple that is the Paul Bryant Stadium, the enshrined bronze statues of coaches past, the feverish cult to the Crimson Tide, or the great statue of Vulcan overlooking the city of Birmingham (complete with the Vulcan Mini-Mart) seem like natural sorts things to pop up in American Gods. Alas.

Enwanderment: Alabama

I’ve never been to the Deep South before. Layovers in Atlanta’s monstrous airport hardly count—the airport is virtually a city unto itself. The furthest in I’d been before was Mt. Vernon, Virginia. The South, for sure, but still three or four stone’s throws from Washington D.C. So, no, I’ve never experienced the proper South, but being an American, the notion and the legend of it rests deep in my bones, just like the notion and the legend of the West rests deep in the bones of friends who’ve never actually been there.

Friday, February 12, 2010

First and Third

Oh, immersion, you coy bitch. So hard are you to make, so easy are you to break. I’ve seen it argued that Half-Life 2 represents the pinnacle of immersion, by never taking control from the player, never moving from their perspective, and never giving voice to the player character, giving the story over entirely to NPC conversations and environmental cues, and doing away with the many narrative crutches games rely upon, most of them taken from film. But it feels to me that the crutches grant greater agility. Hopefully, ripping a few examples apart should show what I mean.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Catcher in the Scrub Oak

Catcher in the Rye was an important book in my development as a student, thinker, writer, and a person. I read it at exactly the right time and place. Yes, reading it as an intelligent, angry 16 year old male, slightly alienated from most of his peers, you’ve heard that story before, I’m sure. I empathized with Holden Caulfield right? Of course I did. Let’s not scoff at that, though. Much of what makes Catcher in the Rye such a highly regarded classic comes from the profound way it captures and comments on that particular mindset. But, for me, Catcher in the Rye did more than  mirror my malformed adolescent angst back at me.