Sunday, June 14, 2020

Poor Soup Outcome, Literary Hunger, Plug-and-Play Genius

I finally grew bored with the mental distraction that was “House Flipper”, so I decided to stop using video games as escapism and actually begin coping with my problems. Ha! I almost got ya, didn’t I? Of course I didn’t start coping with my problems. I immediately downloaded a charming indie time-waster called “Stardew Valley”, which looks all cute and simple and fashionably pixelated, but turns out to be deceptively complex. It was sold to me as a Minecraftian game about farming, but it’s not as simple as just dumping a few crops in the ground and selling them at market. After a few days of crop failures and passing out from exhaustion (my character, not me—I’m not that addicted to video games) I finally started combing through their Wiki, and good Lord. Nothing in this game is simple or easy. It took me three hours to make a tiny sprinkler. Also, I ruined the soup at a town potluck and now all of the villagers are mad at me because they were trying to impress the mayor with their soup. I think that was a bad plan to begin with, and there is no way in a court of law the poor soup outcome could be pinned on me, but still everyone’s mad. And I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something wrong with most of the villagers. A good number of them seem to be suffering from dysthymia, and not to judge, but they do spend an inordinate amount of time at the pub. We’ll see how things go for me in Stardew Valley. My current aim is to convince the town doctor to marry me. According to the Wiki, once I get him into my clutches with my feminine wiles, he’ll cook for me and repair fences. I like the practical aspects of this, but also, he has a soulfulness about him that I find appealing. You are not going to know what hit you, Harvey.

I had a lovely phone conversation yesterday with my long-time writing mentor. We mostly communicate via e-mail, so it was great to connect over the phone. We chatted about a lot of things, but a great deal of it was about literature, which was a treat for me. This person is extremely knowledgeable and passionate, and the conversation transported me back to feeling like I was in college again and listening to a professor wax poetic about the beauty of language. I realized that I just don’t have those kinds of conversations anymore. I haven’t in years, and it’s really a shame. I didn’t realize how hungry I was for it. I don’t have anyone in my day-to-day life to talk to literature about on that level. And my reading habits have gotten very lazy. Reading for me has become just a way to unwind before bed, rather than an experience of delving deep into a rich work of art. I’ve read a few heavy novels here and there, but it’s mostly been literary junk food. I made a semi-resolution on this very blog several years ago to read one classic a month, and I never followed through. I think it’s time to dust that resolution off and give it an honest try this time.

Speaking of literary junk food, a lot of my recent reading has been the novels of one Nick Spalding, an English writer who I consider a genius. Not a literary genius per se, but someone who has figured out exactly how to game the publishing industry. After reading about five of his novels, I nailed the formula. He essentially writes the same book over and over again and just changes the details. They all involve a protagonist who, through some quirky circumstance, has a beloved addiction taken away from them (the internet, alcohol, food, etc.) Cue the protagonist’s inevitable meltdown that, through yet another quirky circumstance, gets witnessed en masse on social media, thus further magnifying the protagonist's suffering and humiliation. Cue the protagonist slowly learning to live without their addiction, grow in maturity and come out of all of it a Better Person in the End. To be fair, the life altering-event is not always an addiction-sometimes it’s a terminal diagnosis or a delapitated house they unwittingly inherit, but nonetheless, they are all the same book. I think it’s brilliant. Also, he’s very funny. As soon as I come up with a similar plug-and-play formula, I’m going to get rich and blow this popsicle stand. Move to someplace Stardew-Valleyish and live off the land.

If you need to de-stress (and I don’t know why anyone would what with the world being so idyllic these days), here is a relaxing little jaunt through Pelican Town in Stardew Valley. Enjoy!

--Kristen McHenry

2 comments: said...

Love this post, Kristen. Your wry sense of humor is hilarious. And enjoyable. "The world being so idyllic these days"!


Carolyn said...

Hey cuz! Lovely post, as usual :) If you miss the world of literature, Why not do an online Coursera / EdX / etc literature courses? MOOCs are fun and a great way to see how the rest of the world (non-white, non-native English-speaking people) react to words. I've found it incredibly eye-opening and have learned so much about the rest of the world while talking about Shakespeare. It's only about a few hours of your time a week, so you can still seduce whats-his-face on the farm :) Take this as a "serving suggestion." I know you've got a lot going on over there. Stay safe.