Top Ten Experiences of 2017
So I kept seeing Top 10 lists of whatevers for 2017 and I realized I'm far too much of a dilettante to provide you a nice 10 Albums or 10 Vidjagurms or 10 Salads I Had list. Plus it's not really how I work! Most of the time I'd rather do something with my friends than receive an item. (I mean, I did get some really nice books this year, but I mean... the point of the book is to read it, not own it!) So instead, here are the Top 10 Things I Experienced in 2017. I'd recommend doing all of them.
- Listening to SOL: A Self-Banishment Ritual.
Every time Alex Reed comes out with a new album it changes my whole damn life. Again. SOL just did that the most obviously. 'If I Were You' in particular was a direct cause of item 3 on this list, and has rocketed up my Top 25 Most Played faster than any song before, including Goodnight London, the previous speed record holder. Eruditorum Press and I Die: You Die have already spilled more ink than I could hope to about why this record is so goddamn brilliant, but maybe later I'll come back and write an article on just why Alex's music keeps setting my soul on fire and birthing something new from the ashes.
- Teaching my wife to play Magic: the Gathering.
My partner, for those of you who don't know, does not like complexity. She likes games as social lubricant, so her favorites usually include couch co-op like Overcooked, or Apples to Apples, or other things that leave room to think about other things. I also haven't taught anyone anything in a while. So managing to successfully pull this off was amazingly validating *and* now I get to play with someone who doesn't need to take the game seriously, and refers to Chandra Nalaar as "Fire Holtzmann" and Nissa Revane as "Toxic Waste Elf Chick". It's a wonderful way to keep my Spike side in check.
- Questioning my gender identity.
This is 100% the fault of literally every single person in my life. I can't thank you enough.
- Drafting Unstable.
I got back into Magic this year for Ixalan largely on a lark but Unstable is the one that sealed the deal. I've always enjoyed Un-sets (I kept my binders full of Unglued and Unhinged even when I got rid of all my other cards) just because they do something so rare in corporate gaming: actually push you to have dumb, stupid toy-like fun with the product. It also pushed me to sign up for the Great Designer Search 3, which as of publishing I have almost certainly failed out of, but which also forced me to start expelling my opinions into text files instead of venting into the air as they come to me. Hi there, Internet.
- Universal Paperclips.
This is the only game new to me in 2017 that I can say is actually worth my time and energy, which is extremely remarkable since it's an incremental game. There's some really interesting design going on in this space lately and I'm also looking forward to Liz England's Eldritch Idle. Universal Paperclips, for its own merits, was a lovely satire of Roko's Basilisk, and also fun to get through, and also also a wonderful engagement with numbers. Man, do I have some baggage around trying to get to transcendence through mathematics. Ask me about my opinions on Aronofsky's Pi sometime, which I saw at probably too early an age. This also turned me on to Tonto's Expanding Head Band, which was another positive.
- Cooking regularly.
We have a Blue Apron subscription as an ongoing gift from my in-laws, which helps, but I've also been trying to learn how to cook from first principles. I'm not very good at varying a recipe, because I want to be confident I'll at least make something edible when wasting ingredients means I might not be able to make rent, so instead I've been tackling this from the direction of 'Okay, I know how to saute, roast, and boil. Now how do I vary the spices and oils to make the flavor profile I want?' and 'Well, I know I need to have specific tools. What are those tools? What knives do I need, and what are the smoke points of the various cooking oils?' That's how I learn best -- start from the bottom and build up. Cooking in particular is a very fulfilling skill for me because I'm not used to nourishing others; typically I imagine myself as better at solvin problems or giving advice, not being emotionally fulfilling. Food has been an interesting way to tackle that deficiency and I really hope to have more opportunities to scale up my kitchenwork in 2018.
- Adopting a cat.
We have a widdle kit kit now. Her name is Aubrey. She is the worst-behaved cat we've ever met. She climbs on everything, she knocks makeup and trading cards everywhere, she almost broke our TV the other day, and we love her to pieces.
- Fixing old electronics.
I had to replace the pin connector in a NES, the logic board in one click wheel iPod, and the hard drive and battery in another. It's really satisfying defeating obsolescence and moving hardware that doesn't participate in the Internet of Things bullshit back into my life. Get yourself an old computer and disable its Wi-Fi card if it has one! You might be surprised how much you can do with it.
- Seeing Gary Numan live.
Going out to concerts is often a difficult experience for me. I always feel small and pitiful and like I don't belong with all the 'real' goths and rivetheads and queers and cool people who are probably slightly less pervy than me and also way more willing to move their bodies. Also I have problems with typical concert decibel levels. While that second one still applied here, seeing everyone's favorite goth uncle in a dingy club that I'm certain was a warehouse 50 years ago was a wonderful time and I even started dancing at one point. Social anxiety's a bitch, innit? But I guess I'm getting dragged to more events next year. We're already scheduled for They Might Be Giants and for Dan and Phil. Those should be fun.
- Oops I turned into a Steven Universe fan.
Neither I nor my partner have been big into fan culture for quite a while but we decided to get Volume 1 of Steven Universe on iTunes this year and suddenly we'd watched all the episodes and had no idea when that happened and were frothingly eager for Lars of the Stars to come out and OH MY GOD SHORT HAIR STEVONNIE and AAAAH SADIE YOU'RE TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD and LAPIS I HAVE NEVER FELT SO PERSONALLY CALLED OUT BY A CHARACTER MERELY EXISTING and AAAAAAAAAA----ahem. Yes. Excuse me. This show is important to me now.
An honorable mention goes to subscribing to 2600, watching The Last Jedi and babbling about it for hours, starting to read the Art of Computer Programming (Knuth), and buying a set of razors that I can actually use. These will probably make it on properly for the 2018 list. See you then.