Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Socially Distant Miscellany

Have I collected some new blogworthy topics in these days of viral isolation?  You bet.  Let's juxtapose them with the tried and true "five things make a post."

(1) C2TH << AF2K ?

My previous post, as well as my lengthier 2015 musings -- both about Rush's classic tune Closer to the Heart -- managed to neglect one important thing: it doesn't exist in isolation.  This song is the first track on side two of its album, and it rhapsodizes about possible solutions to personal and societal problems.  However, it's the first song on side one, A Farewell to Kings, that both lays out those problems...

When they turn the pages of history,
When these days have passed long ago,
Will they read of us with sadness
For the seeds that we let grow?
We turned our gaze
From the castles in the distance.
Eyes cast down
On the path of least resistance.

...and indicates, indirectly, at the end, that solutions may be forthcoming:

Can't we raise our eyes
And make a start?
Can't we find the minds
To lead us closer to the heart?

I have a feeling that these songs are best when played back-to-back, like Queen's inseparable pair of "We" songs.

(2) Grognardia is Back

On my "2020 weird events" bingo card, alongside the tiger kings, murder hornets, and babies named XÆA-12, I didn't think I'd be noting the return of one of the main D&D OSR (Old School Renaissance) bloggers after 8 years of silence. But a few weeks ago, we started seeing posts from James Maliszewski again -- sometimes 2 or 3 in a day now -- like nothing at all happened since that last post from 2012.  I haven't been reading so closely to know if he's talked about the gap, but it's good to see him back again.  I'm kind of surprised that YDIS hasn't mentioned it...

(3) Alpha-Bytes Redux

For a while, I posted a lot about my obsession with weird alphabets.  Recently, when re-watching the classic movie The Fifth Element, I rediscovered a bit of odd linguistics that doesn't get talked about a lot.  Usually, when commenting on this movie's creative use of language, one sees a lot of discussion of the (spoken-only) alien "Divine Language" that director Luc Besson had star Milla Jovovich try to commit to memory.  But there was something interesting happening back on Earth, too.  The police had the word "Police" written in two parallel scripts on their uniforms and equipment.  Some searching found a high-resolution version, and it's possible to search for some phonetic realism in those two sets of characters...

For example, are there only 5 letters on the right, thus dispensing with the English oddity of a silent E?  Or do the stacked dot and dash count as two?  Both P and L are backwards, but the order still seems to go from left to right.  I can find no explanation of how or why anyone associated with this movie came up with this alt-alphabet, or if any real-life script inspired it.  Does anyone know anything more about it?

(4) Sci-Fi Reading & Reviews

Last year, I really enjoyed reading through the 1967 Dangerous Visions anthology, and I've been pondering a bit about doing another one.  I've got a copy of 1972's Again Dangerous Visions, but I suspect my reviews wouldn't be very positive.  I recently dug out a set of Fantasy & Science Fiction pulp magazines from the 1980s, and I noted a few favorites in them that I could reread and review, too.  However, I'm not too excited about either of those options.  If I'm going to reread something, I think it will be Neal Stephenson's Anathem.  When it came out in 2008, I breezed through it quickly, mostly on planes... but I think it deserves another go.  We'll see.

(5) Sad News

A few days ago, I learned that one of my personal heroes and mentors, Charles Cameron, has passed away.  I blogged about him several times, and it made my year when I saw that he showed up in the comments!  God speed, Magister Ludi.