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On play. Cosmopolis. Balatro.

Luna // 11 Months // On Play

Luna's first birthday is just around the corner, and it's incredible how much she’s grown and developed in her short life so far. Looking back just a month or two, she was an entirely different baby—unable to walk or grasp objects with intention. Now at nearly one year old, Luna is beginning to learn how to play.

In the past week, I've noticed her eyes light up and her little hands reach out when she spots colorful objects like blocks or stuffed animals; and one toy I'm particularly excited about is her set of magnetic building tiles. These colorful plastic squares and triangles stick together, allowing them to be assembled into an endless variety of structures. For the first time, I find myself just as absorbed in playing as Luna is when we're on the floor together.

Many of our mornings now start by dumping the magnetic tiles onto the living room rug. I'll build a tower, and Luna will gleefully knock it down. Then I'll use the fallen pieces to construct a makeshift garage for her toy car. She’ll work to free the car from being within the transparent tiles, grasping each and experimenting with how they connect. She's not yet figured out what it means to connect the pieces together, but there's something mesmerizing about watching a baby discover that each object has meaning.

Even more magical than playing together is that we now share in laughter. I'll do something silly that makes Luna laugh, which in turn makes me laugh, and before I know it we’re both laughing together. We’ve gone from one-way laughter (I play peekaboo, she giggles) to laughter being a shared experience. I have no words to describe how special that is.

I have a feeling that these magnetic building blocks are going to be a staple of our home for years to come, and I can only imagine what structures will one day emerge as Luna builds alongside me. For now, I celebrate each structure I make, and the experience of spending time in play and laughter with my daughter.

What I Read

Awhile back I started watching the film Cosmopolis, and was so baffled by its wooden dialogue that I gave up on it. Recently I learned that the movie is actually an adaptation of a book. I decided to give it a read, and I’, glad I did, as it helped me better appreciate what the story is trying to do.

On the surface, Cosmopolis is about a young billionaire asset manager who impulsively decides to get in his stretch limo and get a haircut across town, all while the city descends into chaos around him. But the book made me realize the characters are not meant to be fully realized, they are instead archetypes representing different capitalist mindsets and ideologies. Once I understood them as avatars rather than people, I was able to appreciate the hypnotic, philosophical dialogue of DeLillo’s work.

The book isn’t about getting a haircut, of course. It’s about commerce and capitalism and economies. It’s an almost anthropological dissection of the financial ruling class — and now that I better comprehend DeLillo's intent, I'm eager to revisit the film adaptation and see how it translates to the screen, armed with the context I was lacking on first viewing. 

What I Played

Reader, let me tell you about Balatro. It's a roguelike game centered around poker, but puts a clever twist on the standard formula. Each game, you're dealt a fresh deck and given a selection of special joker cards that modify the rules. One joker might let you play a straight with just four cards instead of five, another might give bonus points for playing spades, and another might smear the ink of the card, letting it go from an ace of spades to an ace of whatever suite you’d like it to be.

Because you encounter different jokers with each game you play, you have to adapt your strategy every time. It becomes a puzzle of figuring out how best to utilize your jokers to maximize your score. It's immensely satisfying to piece together a high scoring hand, and since each playthrough is so different, it feels endlessly replayable.

I’m utterly hooked, so much so that I had to pull myself away to write this very letter. It's the most absorbed I've been in a game for quite some time, and I don’t even particularly like playing poker. Highly recommended.

That's all for now,

From the present moment,

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