The weather is so bad here that our windowsill blew off, which…I didn’t realise was a thing that could happen. Hope you’re all staying safe and warm.
One of my New Year resolutions was to write a novel (why), and after using January to plan the stupid thing, I’ve had to sit down and write some actual prose this week. It’s going well in the sense that I have, indeed, written some words. They are all awful words. But I’ve made a start. So here’s what else I’ve had time for this week.
Frostpunk: The Last Autumn
What?: A city-building survival game set in an alternate steam-punk past where the world is freezing to the point where minus 30 seems positively balmy
Sometimes I wish there was an easy way to log all the hours I spend doing other activities, so I could reassure myself that the 171 hours Steam tells me I’ve spent playing Frostpunk is just a small portion of my rich and varied life.
I do love this game though. It’s both incredibly stressful and oddly soothing. There’s something so lovely about carefully slotting your city together in concentric circles around your generator as you try to make the right choices for survival without, y’know, sliding into fascism. Which is surprisingly easy. Things snowball quickly when EVERYTHING IS SNOW AND YOU HAVEN’T GOT ENOUGH STEAM CORES TO BUILD AN INFIRMARY
The Last Autumn is the biggest DLC for Frostpunk so far, and it’s a prequel story which plays out before the real cold sets in. I’ve played it through a couple of times successfully and dear god it is impossible not to make a complete mess of everything if you don’t side with the workers. (DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKPLACE SAFETY i promise this game is actually fun)
Harry Potter Grew Up To Be A Cop
What?: A weekly newsletter from Hailey Bachrach, in which she re-reads the Harry Potter series tracing Harry’s pathway to a career in magical law enforcement
As a kid, I liked Harry Potter as much as anyone else who just adored reading – I consumed the books but didn’t really engage in the fandom; I’d like JK Rowling to please get in the bin, but her fuckwittery hasn’t struck me as a personal betrayal.
But despite not thinking of myself as a hardcore HP fan, HP deep dives are a real guilty pleasure for me. I guess what I enjoy is applying academic-level analytics to texts I’ve never actually had to sit down and study. I wonder whether this will change for my kids or my grandkids; whether HP will have truly entered the canon and they’ll have to do their GCSE coursework on wizarding class dynamics.
Hailey’s particular lens is the construction of law and justice in a world where magic exists, and what the series has to say about the difference between following the rules and doing what’s right. I love her easy but rigorous style, and how she’s grappling with the often inconsistent morality of a series which, as she points out in her introduction, has seemingly succeeded (despite its limitations) in making its childhood readers into more progressive adults. She’s heading into book 6 now but you can read all the back issues here, and subscribe for future updates.
What?: Greta Gerwig is really fucking good at coming of age films
I’ve come to Lady Bird so late that I don’t have anything smart to say about it that hasn’t already been said.
So I’ll just add my blessings to Saoirse Ronan for her skin confidence, and to Greta Gerwig for wanting to make a film in which the protagonist is actually recognisable as an average teenager. I had acne from the age of 12 and only got rid of it last year (isotretinoin is exactly the hellscape everyone says it is), and I’ve basically never seen a character in a film who has the skin I had. Unless they’re the baddie.
Basically, the hype was legit, and you should watch it if you ever were, or have ever known, a teenage girl.
What?: We can’t call it The Avengers in the UK in case we hurt ITV’s feelings
2012 feels like a really long fucking time ago. Should I make some pithy comment about superhero fatigue? Mostly what I’m fatigued by is Disney owning everything, but that was true in 2012 too. I dunno. It’s nice to look back and see where we came from, and why we’ve got what we’ve got. Maybe the intention wasn’t to make a culture where no action or genre film can exist outside of an extended universe. We sure do have a lot of films that we’re ‘supposed’ to see these days, don’t we?
Anyway. This is the only Marvel movie I ever put on my Christmas list. It’s still a very good film. I like to think it was made with good intentions.