My Favorite Whatever of 2022

Let’s talk about stuff I liked in 2022. No, not the best of anything. Just stuff I liked. And not necessarily stuff that was released in 2022. Just stuff I found in 2022. OK? OK. Let’s go.


Marvel’s Midnight Suns: I know a lot of folks bounced off the story/dialogue/relationship stuff—and bounced hard. But a.) the core combat is so frickin’ magnificent that it’s really easy to forgive. The idea of tactical card combat with Marvel characters sounds ridiculous; it really shouldn’t work. But oh my, it really really does. And b.) I actually enjoyed the hell out of the story/dialogue/relationship stuff. The core conceit of “superheroes at home” is really compelling to me; I think any superhero fiction is at its best when it’s looking not just at the suits but the people in them. Yeah, it can get a little goofy at times, and the game is clunky in some other significant ways. But man, it just hooked me with both pincers.

Marvel Snap: I’m not sure if I dug Midnight Suns more because of Snap, or Snap more because of Midnight Suns, or neither? Or both? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But this one really has its claws in me, too. The speed and simplicity are just perfect for quick little diversions, but there’s a real depth of strategy there once you get familiar with the game. This is probably unsurprising to fans of other CCGs; I never was one of those. But a single moment in Snap made me finally get the whole idea of deck synergy in a way that no previous game I’d tried was able to. (It was playing Odin after White Tiger at a location that had just morphed to Bar Sinister, if you’re curious. Just delightful.)

Vampire Survivors: I lived through the 16-bit era, so retro-styled games often make me roll my eyes so hard I can see myself think. But this one showed up one day on Game Pass so I decided to give it a try. And I was this close to quitting and deleting within the first five minutes. (“Where the hell is the attack button?!”) Many dozens of hours later I think it’s one of the most fiendishly addictive and subtly deep games I’ve ever played. Really cleverly done and oh no it’s on iOS now.

Into the Breach: I heard so much good stuff about this game that I bought it when it came out on Switch pretty much sight-unseen. And I…didn’t like it. It just did nothing for me. I bounced off. Fast forward to 2022 and Netflix’s push into games, which included an iPad version available free for subscribers, and I gave it another shot. And something about the touch interface made all the difference in the world. I lost track of how many times I beat it before eventually having to delete it for space reasons.

And of course I played Tunic and Elden Ring and Immortality and Atari 50 and they’re all great. Believe the hype. (And there are also a few notable games I haven’t played enough of yet to form an opinion, like A Plague Tale: Requiem and Pentiment.) But these four, man. These four got me.


Look, I do not watch a lot of TV. When I have downtime I tend to want to dive into a book instead of firing up even the most celebrated hot new series (a fact which will likely become very clear in the next section). But I did have some really great TV experiences last year. Like:

Midnight Mass: A dear friend of mine kept pushing me to watch this. He said he was convinced I’d love it, that it was practically made for me. I yeah-yeah-yeahed for months, because like I said, I just don’t really prioritize TV? And when some dumbshit website put a significant spoiler in a FRICKIN’ HEADLINE, I yeah-yeah-yeahed even harder. Then I ended up with a free weekend, when my wife and daughter were out of town, and decided to finally put it on and oh my sacred heart what an unbelievably great series. The writing, the performances, the cinematography—my god. Just unbelievable. I’d never seen any of Flanagan’s other stuff but now? I’ll watch anything the dude makes. I don’t think the show gave me nightmares per se but for weeks I’d wake up in the middle of the night and the first thing I’d think of was that scene. With Joe. You know the one. Oh, and the weekend that I ended up binging the whole series? It just occurred to me it was Easter weekend. I started the series on Good Friday. Might need to make it part of the yearly celebration now.

Continue reading “My Favorite Whatever of 2022”

Stealing Music, Again

I’m pretty sure anyone who’s tangentially related to the music industry is contractually obligated to weigh in on the Great NPR Stealing Music Fiasco of Ought-Twelve

So here are my thoughts, in response to Jonathan Coulton’s very interesting ruminations. This was originally left as a comment on his post, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to be buried, so…

Thought experiment for the Free-Culture and anti-copyright folks out here: Let’s say you make something. You distribute it digitally. And because you believe in Free Culture, you insist that it be distributed for free.

Then someone starts charging for it.

How does that make you feel? Do you feel that you, as the creator, have the right to determine how your creation is distributed?

I think even more than a practical issue — which, let me be clear, is certainly a big issue — this is an issue of principle. How would you feel if the foo was on the other shoot? Not great, I suspect.

But there’s also a practical element that doesn’t seem to be talked much about. There are a lot of Free-As-In-Beer flag-wavers outraged that the gub’mint might step in and knock out file-sharing centers. “What right,” they demand, “does the government have to determine how culture should be shared?”

But here’s what confuses me: What right do the flag-wavers have to determine how an artist’s work should be shared? Do you presume to know better than the creators of the works how their work benefits them, or benefits society?

We talk about “the music industry” as though it’s this faceless monolith. But the facts are (as usual) a lot messier. Yes, some artists can make a living on the road, and giving away their music (or allowing it to be given away) benefits them. But there are musicians for whom this is exactly reversed: Live performance earns nothing; music sales and licensing are everything. Most are probably in the middle. But are we going to insist that all musicians take it on the road, or give it up? Seems kind of counter-productive to the goal of diversifying art and encouraging experimentation. Do we really want a world where only the one percent (if you’ll pardon the allusion) of musicians can make a decent living?

People, think this through to its logical conclusion. We live in a world where money is necessary. The less money that can be made by making music, the fewer musicians we’ll have. Yes, there will be the super-successful, there will be the ones who do it for love alone, and there will be those — like our esteemed host — who find their own niche and make it work. But I don’t see how it can be denied that fewer rewards for making music will ultimately result in fewer musicians. Is that really what we want? Is that the price we’re willing to pay for “free” music?

Personally, I’d rather pay Mr. Coulton than get Rebecca Black for free.

Am I alone in thinking this way?

For more of my thoughts on the matter, you may be interested in this post from a few years back.

New Music

You know, this is the problem with never updating my blog. I completely forget to mention significant things, and then forget that I’ve forgotten.

Case in point: Did you know I’ve put up four new songs for your listening pleasure since last we spoke of it here? It’s true! You can get all the dirty details at

And don’t tell anyone, but I’m currently working on a new tune that will be very, very different. That’s all I’ll say. FOR NOW.

How to Make a Playlist of Dead iTunes Tracks

After an epic virus infestation on my work PC, I’m in the process of moving all my work and work processes over to my Mac. Because, really, fuck that shit. But the transfer has not been without some hurdles: Tracking down equivalent software, moving my iTunes folder, so on and so forth. So I figured I’d share some of my experiences here in order to help anyone else making similar moves.

This one goes in the “so simple I’m annoyed I didn’t think of it” file. When I moved and consolidated my iTunes library, there were some tracks that iTunes just absolutely refused to locate on its own — even though it moved everything itself. Yeah, awesome, right? So I’d been manually scanning my library to see what tracks weren’t linking properly to the source files. But I had a couple hundred files that I just could not track down. I looked for scripts to do it (Doug’s AppleScripts was a great source), but the best I could find was one that made a text file of the missing tracks; helpful, but not as efficient as it could be for actually fixing the problem.

I finally stumbled on this post at iLounge which made the whole thing almost stupidly easy. Here’s the gist: You make a regular playlist and put all your music in it (you’ll want to right-click and select Add to Playlist rather than trying to drag or you’ll be there all day). If iTunes can’t find the source file, it won’t put the song in the playlist. So then you just make a smart playlist with the criteria Playlist > Is Not > [the playlist you just made]

Voila, all yer dead tracks in one place, ripe for the locatin’. Simple, eh?

Back on the Wagon

Johnny High GroundOh, hello there.  If you’re reading this, chances are you know that I’m not just a writer, but also a musician. I used to play bass and sing for a punk band here in Cleveland called whatever… (I know, shut up), and after leaving the band I embarked on my own musical odyssey under the name Johnny High Ground.

In the mid-’00s I sort of fell off that wagon, though, due to work schedule and time constraints and not knowing anybody in San Francisco I could play with.

But now, dammit, I’m getting back on.

I’ve redesigned and relaunched, and put a hefty chunk of my older material up for sale on iTunes. With the exception of three tunes recorded with a live band in ’01, these are all songs I’ve written, performed, and recorded entirely by myself.

And that’s just the beginning. First off, those same songs should be up for sale at Amazon any day now. Once that happens, I’ll probably put the rest of my current catalog up for sale as well. And then: new tunes! I’ve got a backlog of songs that I’ve been dying to record for years, and I’m trying to trick myself into getting motivated to put them down for posterity at last.

I’m hoping to get some live performances in, too, one of these days. But it’s been years since I took the stage, so I plan to start small.

Anyway, I’d love it if you’d head over to and check out the songs. And it would mean a great deal to me if you’d help spread the word about this musical endeavor. The great thing about having sat on these songs for so long is that the tools for spreading the word about new music have gotten much more widespread and powerful since I’ve been away. And you’ll find lots of those tools at the site.

I look forward to hearing what you think.