A vicious life wrapped around symbols. What is the thing I want to tell you the reader is the same question as who am I as how do you want your daughter to remember you. A litany. As someone who taught her the courage to live as she wanted is the same as you as the clay won’t harden in such conditions is the same as grow. As the burning u-shaped chassis of the Volkswagen Jetta is to the tree. As hair-covered arms covered in ants. Develop love. Stick to it. What I know. Like white snow. Volcano is no volcano. The greater eyes retain you over man’s laws. And they’ve advanced to the point where you’re convinced you don’t remember the brand: Philip K. Dick. Nam June Paik. Open Mike Eagle. Donald Trump. Valentino Rossi. And more. On this week’s. Meet the Nation. [APPLAUSE] [HOLD FOR APPLAUSE] [HOLD APPLESAUCE FOR APPLAUSE] All art is taste. False. All taste is broke. False. The moment you call him divine. True. Red is blue / a wire monkey, / too. Remember that, Maeve? Syntax. In whose hand? Cheating. A projection. It’s sad the things you remember. My aunt’s hand. Why now? Wow. Disney laid hands. I’m afraid to reach out. Don’t be. Brown cow. And slowly cold rain in hair.
I place one cheerio in my mouth and suck my lips I look around and moan I chew no teeth another cheerio in my mouth I stir my hand around the silicone plate my right hand a fist in my left hand I pick it up the cheerios with index finger and thumb equally with the left and right the index fingers rub across the silicone I pull and it doesn’t give another cheerio I want out of my high chair another cheerio I use my small hands to push off I’m choking I have resolved the choke to push her off from the table a little bit more the high chair does not budge chewing slamming my hands moaning a small smile eyebrows raise a gaze I laugh at my ugly father some coughing though no choking another cheerio grabbed in a fist another cheerio a pincer grasp I’m mumbling I like the noises I make I reach for the milk I pull up the silicone mat I push a cheerio onto the floor I push a second cheerio onto the floor I’m looking for something oh I see a roaring noise roar I bring the silicone mat up down up I hold it in mid-air I flip it I chew it push the mat make mouth noises flip it one arm up one arm pulling the silicone mat moaning pushing a quick drink of milk a raspberry I flick the nipple I intimate as though I want milk I refuse the bottle I pull my father’s sweater the wrist the arm I poke I poke I poke I bite my father no teeth dang it cough I scratch at his new tattoo scratch right hand left hand left hand scream scratch my father pulls his hand away I reach for the water am I drinking I’m drinking I pull the straw from the silicone cup and gag myself I reach for the silicone cup spill it across the table the water drips slowly from a small hole that has been inverted spin the bottle unintentionally I want water do you want water I drink from the bottle like a big girl I retrieve the cap from my father I groan into the silicone cap I push air and vague sounds from my throat I chew the silicone cap some more no teeth I drop the silicone cap on the floor more water drunk most swallowed some dribble down my chin
god is an alligator white dunce cap common supernatural they are kind of fragile wicked mother i said i don’t know you reveal your in cantatory power vanishes soon of dawn alligator called maeve anything is yours big smile looking at leaves going around your big breath rattling every baby born after june 07 confused about cost and course are you wind wisened carried from child to child in red eyes we haven’t slept for weeks drink some of this we need to talk blockchain saprophyte you imagine not wanting to die at cost suddenly his girl friend her cadillac mania smoldering munitions return from orbit burn bump and birthright debased marlboro of denial indifferent save a dream david shields trashes my bike the hourlies and the salary men hide like armor ed doors between you and i and me confusing memory with money untold nights buzzing spent the gin flower in my heart explodes killing myself there’s nothing i want more than desire be alive 🍼 see my alligator grow up i was 14 or 15 didn’t know anything in lieu of replication error chomped a personality by liquor light 🥃 and it worked at immense cost 20 years pry open my skull 💀 exorcise the inadequate physical ruins of love 🫀 collapsed by mid-morning one suddenly recognizes at immense cost the crushing power of Their jaw 🐊
i don’t want to do your work do you want to do your work work is screaming at the dog a terrible person who can’t be bothered with other people the dog lays there right there her allergies her anxieties on the leafy greens and onionskin and cries not at me she’s a good girl at the baby nursing on her belly little heart beating so fast i don’t want to think of the hummingbird her fragility her natural work her glitter where’s my glitter there she is right there
rich fucks poor schmucks grey donkeys pink goats loser communist cattle roaming cocks black pig
gnaws vestigial arm of long-dead stump pink pig dreams of shit in dry sun
all pant in red heat zoo as palace of great social inequity lonesome horse shreds grass
beside canada goose both children enamored in their wielding
large white girl swings twig black girl arcs storybook of freckles red polka dots
on tawny field of mask skipping mirrors through corridor of meat two indian condors fuck in nearby cage
and insignificant small brown deer neither getting their money’s worth older schmucks inarticulately elsewearing
zoo — $6 a head— equalizes even verbs animals people objects subjects as commercial rents plummet
dirt everyone fucked and fucking sun and moon penetrate sky kiss asphalt i go back where i came from
play volleyball with colombian neighbors i go home to america feel lonesome as stars
imagine america and hang cheap black tarp like flag with expensive steel clamps
over and over
union made folding in america where wind is ideal and idea and erase myself between parked cars
another picture made with shitty attitude fueled by quarter crackers
we feed one another from vicious passive hands
release fang fur leather feather plate-mail instinct river bloat low medicine white phosphorus art school upheaval
In a Photograph of Heaven
cold floorboards creak and broken feet labor, yr
tiny vertebrae at arms fingertips asleep on a giant’s shoulder, my
one hand raking its grave across her back taut guiltless guileless unwalking preverbal, yr
the object holds fear her out there like just her out there with the fulsome dogs of envy, my
wrapping themselves in wallpaper and music and great ambiguous hurdles that jump jump jump over trees canals and land on a better partner who tells himself the day’s failures remain, okay, yr
that when one sits down to analyze their respective scroll everything beneath our feet, vulgar back catalog, mines and thines
bedrock rot head-in-the-clouds metaphor head-in-the-sand metaphor she cleaves the fall harvest at winter’s end
The Race to Fire Island Lighthouse
hey, listen i want to explain it to you the difficulty of love curled up like a roach ‘s obvious hunger sense organs engaged and something like a heavy-lidded lighthouse lying grandiloquent on its side elbows sore forearms sore my exercise anymore to soften desperation melts that selfsame bedrock
do you understand the line through love and pest and lighthouse i’m snorting a lexapro with you in this zoo
beauty bubbles up like a distraction desperate not for good genes we’re all needled scaled or broadleafed nor unabashed of scholarship and easy love hidden in history
reader, when i’m gone tell her how quickly the tunnel nootka was built
how direct its line from here to there a plurality of good intentions some heartbreak ‘s unavoidable but not too much that she’ll come to understand as mere fact like a new crime the prosecutor says
dig a little in the dirt
the ear the chin the crown of the head missing uncombed not as wild as any newborn mind pull back a meter stop digging the prosecutor says gun badge law degree and no sense of aesthetic pride
reveals some pretty incriminating things the truth isn’t the best way to get a bad actor off a clean street
i am not a fan of creation neither nor perpetuated myth it is what it is it is until the skin burns the maps draw themselves and murderers prop up little books of poetry a little knuckle a little knee a choice to remove the lighthouse debris i abide the law with a straight spine from space presumably hemmed in by caught-shadow i remember her face as it dances across every unknowable constellation of beauty
As a new dad, I’ve found my priorities suddenly shifted away from gaming. I work long hours at an insane job. I take care of my now-17-week-old daughter. I try to be a good partner to my wife. If I’m lucky, I steal some time to eat, shower, and brush my teeth.
No one can smell me over Zoom, so what’s the difference?
Once in a while though — between burpings, diaper changes, and bath time — the dad gods bless me with thirty minutes of idle time. Do I do the reasonable thing and nap? No. I grab a controller and settle in with my old, now-frivolous-seeming first love: Gaming.
I’ve discovered a few things during these blissful little interludes. I should not be launching into a Destiny 2 raid with my infant hypothetically dreaming in the bassinet or drooling on my shoulder. Nor is it the time for a round of Overwatch. Feats of gaming such as these require focus, some level of team communication, and a not-insignificant time commitment.
Nor can I recommend diving into that 80-hour JRPG like Octopath Traveler. I tried playing it on Xbox Game Pass, but found it was a challenge. I couldn’t stay focused on the details of Therion’s quest. What’s a Dragonstone? My daughter’s doused me in spit-up. I need a wet washcloth, not a Dragonstone.
Ditto for any Souls-likes. My pathetic, frustrated yawps at the “You Died” screen, which might as well be burned into my TV, woke up my tentatively sleeping tot every time.
Octodad, ironically, presented a significant physical challenge for this infant-toting dad. The 2014 seafood sitcom simulator’s flicky, one-handed mouse controls were spastic. Thirty minutes with the game left my wrist cramped in agony.
That said, I’ll always be a gamer at heart. Here are my favorite 8 games that I’ve enjoyed since becoming a distracted dad gamer. Consider it a Father’s Day gift from one me to you.
Little one asleep on your shoulder? No problem! Griftlands’s card-based combat, set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, isn’t tied to twitchy reaction speed, but instead strategic and thoughtful choices. One-handed gameplay is simple and intuitive.
There’s no battle clock, so if you walk away to change a diaper your character won’t be dead when you return.
You can save anywhere, anytime outside of battle; something you’ll see in many of the games on this list. The whims and worries of modern parenting strike unexpectedly so this is a great feature.
Dad brain is real and you’ll forget your own name often. Griftlands helps fight this by implementing an encyclopedic lore reference system right into the game’s dialogue boxes. A simple feature I never knew I wanted, this helps me tell my Spark Barons from my Grout Bogs.
You and your non-verbal offspring can bond over the game’s art style, which has a vibrant Saturday morning cartoon with radiation scars vibe.
The twitchiest game on this list, Binding of Isaac was originally released in 2011 but received a major DLC in March. Repentance rebalances the game and adds new characters, levels, more than 130 items, and a treasure chest full of content.
It’s about a baby! As a parent, you’ll relate to items such as “Used Diaper,” “C Section,” and “Mom’s Bra.” Some of these items (“Meconium” comes to mind) I couldn’t fully appreciate until I was a father.
On Isaac’s most basic level, gameplay cycles occur from room to room and each room typically takes a minute or two to complete. You can save between rooms and come back later once parenting releases you from its milky grip or, if you’re lucky, play an entire floor or two while the baby sleeps.
You’re definitely a better parent than Isaac’s mom who, in the game’s precipitating events, attempts to murder our young protagonist with a knife and chases him into the basement.
This iterative update of the 2019 point-and-click RPG includes superb new voice acting and some additional features.
By far the best game I played in 2020, Disco Elysium is allegorical, fantasy storytelling at its finest. The player embodies the dark and vibrant world of a down-on-his-luck cop in Revachol, the “disgraced former capital of the world”. The game presents an imaginary foreign land that comments on our own with a rich, philosophical, and entertaining script, an unforgettable cast of characters, and masterful pacing.
This one requires a little more headspace from the player as the story, which demands your attention, involves a world of deceit and political and psychological manipulation. Disco Elysium — at its core — is about the choices we make that determine who we are over the course of one’s life. And, while the game certainly has nothing to do with parenting, its story is a deeply human tale about empathy, relationships, and change — themes that should resonate with new parents.
Raising a child is at turns surprising, dispiriting, unprecedented, and quotidian. As such, nothing prepares you for the journey like an education in the classics of absurdity (I’m thinking especially of Beckett, but also Sartre, Kafka, and filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos.) Cardboard Computer’s episodic point-and-click adventure Kentucky Route Zero reminded me of this time and time again. Pandering to neither genre conventions of the point-and-click video game nor any one literary archetype, KR0’s story deserves a place in the pantheon of itself.
This one vibed hard for me during those quiet, late nights where sleeplessness takes hold, anything is possible, and your hands are not your own.
One of the slower-paced games on this list, KR0 offers players the opportunity to meander around existential and absurd set-pieces while contemplating broad themes that include the imagination, family, storytelling, pleasure, work, folk themes, and childhood. Its precisely crafted cast of characters will stick with you for a long time.
An unlikely pleasure for me, it takes a special kind of person to enjoy EVE Online.
Players will discover multiple gameplay types within this free-to-play space MMO.
Inexplicably to family and friends, I prefer to spend my limited time in EVE mining raw materials from asteroid belts in high-security space (a reasonably safe endeavour) and then sell these resources on the game’s player commodities markets. It’s an oddly satisfying gameplay loop that, as a new parent, doesn’t overcommit me.
Corporations, EVE’s version of an MMO clan, allow the player to make fast friends in-game. I highly suggest the clan EVE University, which specializes in teaching newbros (EVE-speak for new players) the ropes of this nuanced game.
For parents, corporations are especially great; because the game is played worldwide, you’ll find friendlies online any time of day.
Diapers are expensive. EVE Online is free to play. Sweet.
6. Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) (2019)
Logging into pen-pal simulator Kind Words is like going for an easy stroll through a forest you’ve hiked thousands of times since childhood. It’s likely to bring warm, familiar calm to your soul and offer up a few pleasant surprises.
No time pressure and no lose state, Kind Words encourages you to take your time and offer kindness — in the form of anonymous letters — to strangers on the internet.
Popcannibal designed Kind Words’ music, interface, and soft, neon aesthetic to deliver maximum chill. It’s like playing one of those lo-fi hip hop YouTube videos.
Shoot your shot, dad! You’ve got a lot of kindness to offer the lost children of the internet.
In the time-traveling-mech strategy roguelite Into the Breach by Subset Games, failure is inevitable. This is a lesson that has become familiar to me as a new parent. The progression one makes and the lessons one learns through every screw up are key in both scenarios. Unlike Into the Breach, however, I’ve been unable to reset a terrible, no good day and unscrew my parental snafus. And that’s okay.
I hadn’t played this one until it landed on Stadia earlier this year. Google’s cloud gaming platform lends itself well to the impromptu gaming sessions dads often find themselves delivered unto.
A basic concept: Strategy games are great for dad-gaming because they provide the time and space to put down the controller and slowly consider the implications of each move.
8. Judgment (2019)
Play it on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, and Xbox Series X/S
I suspect it’s incredibly common for a new father to find themselves unexpectedly pinned under a sleeping baby on the couch. One minute you’re feeding her and half-watching TV, the next she’s snoring, mouth agape, in your lap. When you can’t stand up but want to play a game, Google’s Stadia, for all the bad press and typical Googlian fear of abandonment, has been invaluable to me during those times.
Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s 2019 detective noir beat-em-up Japanese arcade simulator has been at the top of my list since it released on the cloud platform earlier this year.
Judgment plays out like a narrative-heavy prestige TV drama with its action focused less on combat (though this is a Ryu Ga Gotoku beat-em-up and you will smash hundreds of Yakuza with bicycles) and more on your skills of observation, exploration, and deduction. And drone racing — have I mentioned you race drones through the skies of Tokyo?
In the best of times I imagine traveling with a baby is a challenge, it’s near impossible to consider it during a global pandemic. This game, with its gorgeous and precisely recreated city, quietly scratches my itch to return to Tokyo.
As with Into The Breach, playing this game on Stadia made booting, loading, saving, etcetera, a breeze. Plus you can take your game with you to any room in the house and play on TV, computer, tablet, or phone.
That’s all I’ve got, folks. There are like two or three hundred different video games out there, so please let me know in the comments if I missed your favorite title for gaming while parenting.