Thursday, February 13, 2014

Welcome Back Commander

So I'm relaunching this blog, after several years of hiatus, with a new focus. I'm going to try and make it my mission to write something every day, seven days a week, although I make no guarantees as to what it will be, how long it will be, whether you will like it or even if it will happen. I'll probably queue a bunch of them up in the hopper and they'll just post every day. If you have an interest in these things, great. If not, well, there are plenty of places on the internet for you to go and get your kicks off Route 66.

Sometimes I'm going to write reviews of concerts. Sometimes I'm going to write odd diatribes about music that speaks to me. Sometimes I'll talk about film. Sometimes I'll talk about comic books. Sometimes I'll talk about TV. Sometimes I'll talk about games. Sometimes I'll write scrap fiction, so that I'm still pouring creatively out into the world. Sometimes I may write the odd bit of socio-political commentary or cultural rambling. Sometimes I may go down an endless rabbit hole of tangents. I may occasionally dabble with posting some of my photography. I may from time to time write autobiographical glimpses into memories I have, which are unreliable at best. I may even write travelogues or relate places I remember.

Who am I? My name's Cliff "Devinoch" Hicks. Over the last fifteen years, I've worked at game companies like Westwood Studios and Maxis Studios (both EA studios), I've worked at Gamespot and Gamecenter (both CNet, now CBS Interactive, companies), I've worked for startups like IMVU and Fierce Wombat Games. I'm originally from Nebraska and now make my home in Northern California. I've self-published my first novel, Escaping Heaven, and am probably going to be self-publishing another novel or two in the near future.

Why should you care? Well, I'm something of a cultural sponge. I tend to go off on tangents a lot, and get interested in a lot of things for brief periods of time, so it's probably best for me to write about that when it's happening. A lot of that sticks with me, a lot of it doesn't. I listen to a lot of music. A LOT of music. I read a lot (although not as much as I used to, I suppose because I'm writing a lot). I watch a good amount of TV. I love film, although what I love about film isn't always the same things that most people love about film. (Keep in mind, what's good and what's enjoyable are not always the same thing...) The world needs curators, people to filter through all of this stuff and let people know whether or not it's worth a bit of their time. I do that anyway, so why not write that all down and let people have a go at it.

I expect this blog to do a lot of evolution as I get back into the swing of things. I'm going to try and incorporate as much as I can in terms of video and audio, and the internet certainly helps with that, but it's been a while since I got my fingers dirty with any of this kind of stuff, so I can't be sure how well I'm going to do at it. I may eventually spawn a podcast out of this, assuming I wrangle up the tech, the interest and an audience. Writers can be egocentric little shits, so we need people to occasionally tell us when they're entertained.

To be honest, two people inspired me to start this project. The first is my friend Christy, who told me that I needed to put more of myself into the world. I think the fact that the novel I'm working on is taking longer than anticipated is getting people antsy that I'm not actually doing shit with it, which is a fair cop - writing long fiction tends to happen in odd spurts and sometimes hits roadblocks. I've learned to ride through that turbulence, but it's not for everyone.

The second is someone I haven't talked to probably 20 years, a guy I went to high school with named Dylan. Dylan and I often didn't get along well, but Dylan was a guy who had interesting music tastes, who was always hunting for new sounds and new bands, so I remember one day I walked up to him in a class we shared and handed him a blank cassette tape (I know, the days of cassette tapes - it truly was the dark ages) and asked him to just make a mix tape of things I'd never heard that he liked and/or thought I would. Sure enough, a few days later, he gave me the tape back, full of people I'd never heard of. To fair, about a third of it was stuff I didn't care for at all, and about a third of it was stuff that was okay, but didn't spark anything in me. But that last third opened my eyes to a ton of music I'd never heard, or sounded entirely different than what I was familiar with. I remember there was an Alice In Chains song on it called "Nutshell" and I remember asking Dylan, "Aren't these guys mostly a metal band?" He told me every band does all sorts of stuff, and I should never write a band off entirely because I didn't like one particular song. (Hilariously, I also remember Dylan ranting like a young Lester Bangs about how other bands, who shall remain nameless, were "shit and will never do anything good, ever!")

It was also around this time that I started watching an MTV show called "120 Minutes," or, rather, taping it and watching it later. It aired at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, and so I would set the VCR to record it, and watch it the next day. "120 Minutes" was an alternative show to the popular alternative music that was everywhere. A lot of bands graduated from 120M, but a lot of bands also didn't, and a lot of the bands that didn't were often better than the things that did. 120M exposed me to so much music I wouldn't have heard otherwise, and I want to try and do a bit of what 120M did for me for other people, a bit of what Dylan did for me for other people. I want to offer bits and pieces of things that caught my attention, tell you why, expose you to them and let you make up your own mind as to whether or not it's for you. I certainly don't expect everything I talk about to inspire people to go out and buy stuff, but I want to give a window into the culture that's imbued me over the years, that's helped define who I am and what I enjoy.

There's nothing wrong with coming to the party late - I didn't develop an appreciation for some things I hold dearly now until almost a decade after I'd been exposed to them. At some point over the next few weeks, I'll talk a bit about things like that, like how I didn't form an attachment to Led Zeppelin until I heard the song "Ramble On," or how the first time someone exposed me to Soul Coughing I thought they were kind of odd only to hear "Screenwriter's Blues" a few months later and loving it. (And how pissed my friend was that I didn't like them when she played them for me, but now I seemed to really like them...) I'll talk a bit about how fandom can be a great thing and it can be a curse. I'll talk about meeting your idols and why you should definitely do it, but be prepared to have accidentally made an ass of yourself the first time. I'll talk about bands that faded into obscurity, and movies that grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go. I'll talk about what videogames have burrowed into my very soul and why. I'll talk about revisiting things you may have written off long ago. I'll talk... well, I'll talk a lot. 

We'll see what happens. Sometimes stuff like this drops out of me after a few weeks. Sometimes it turns into me losing 70 pounds and going to the gym 4-5 days a week. Who knows. I'll write. You read. We can figure it out together as we go along...


1 comment:

Dave L said...

120 Minutes, wow, I also taped the show every week and watched it the next day. They played some amazing stuff.