September 11th, 2009

There are a handful of webcomics that I have been reading for years. Some of them I have read since their inception. I started reading Scary Go Round when its author stopped writing Bobbins. He stopped writing Scary Go Round today. It’s worth checking out though, all seven and a half years of it. And there’s doubtless going to be something great coming in a few weeks, as he’s just on to new and better things. If you have the time to start from the beginning I recommend it, and webcomics being what they are, I also recommend tossing in for a shirt or something to help him keep going, if you like it. Generally webcomic t-shirts can be hit and miss, and often rely on in jokes that non-readers won’t get. John Allison, the author, generally scores more hits than misses with his merchandise. Though it is too late to get the ghost band, or the panda chasing beer, (two favorites of mine, which I won’t bother to explain because I’m lazy) you can still get Bears Will Eat You and several others. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that crass commercialization out of the way (Can you sell out to an independent artist?) it is back to reading about income tax.

Perhaps not a major motion picture. Perhaps more of a small documentary with interesting personalities. I had not realized, up until watching Helvetica, a documentary about the typeface of the same name, that there were people who viewed typeface as the forefront of modern culture war. They exist.

While I was in college several of my friends majored in graphic design. I would see them over the summer, while the grumbled about having to go to class to learn about typefaces. But slowly their hatred of the subject seemed to turn into something else, perhaps awe, it has been a long time, and I don’t want to speak for them.

And that is where my knowledge of typefaces ended, until recently. I had a preference for garamond, which I could not explain, but caused me to pick it for a very long time for all of my drafts of anything. Then I read a cutting comment about creative writing majors always using garamond, and I became leery of it, though I did not know where else to turn. My to do list on the computer was in futura for a long time, probably because I was watching a lot of Wes Anderson in the same period.

Beyond the pleasure of hearing people get way too passionate about fonts (one person claims [only half joking] that helvetica caused the Vietnam war), watching this documentary was very visually satisfying. There were all sorts of interesting uses of fonts, and the footage did a little work explicating the various styles at work by designers. I find I notice them more now, though not as much as the interviewees do. I also have a little better sense of why I like this or that font. I haven’t switched to helvetica though. After watching the film, I almost feel that it is a dangerous tool, fit only for the hands of those capable of using it properly.

But I still don’t know what font I want to see when I’m typing something out.


June 1st, 2009

Despite my resolution of last night, there has been some unavoidable poddling around, in part because I left Boing Boing on my RSS feed.

Boing Boing is a double edged sword by its very nature, one day bringing a surfeit of internet riches, while the next plunging you into boredom when one of the posters has an ax to grind. Mind you, I am not saying that they don’t grind good axes, almost all of their causes are ones that more people should be getting very angry about, many of which involve attempting to counter powerful lobbying efforts regarding copyright. But sometimes I just can’t take the sheer weight of how much big media is bearing down on things like that.

Today has been a good day though. It would be a good day if there were only two posts, the first two posts I saw.

One post links to this LA Weekly blog post with video of a loop of Shatner’s famous “Khaaan!” dissected and reassembled into a film that lets you examine every twitch of the face. It is nothing short of amazing, and I wish I could see the whole thing.

The other was this post linking a post on plagiarism by the president of Jacksonville State University. The Wikipedia article seems to imply that the scandal has passed, but I take that with a grain of salt where plagiarism is implied. Sadly, with cases of plagiarism, it is often not the gatekeepers, but the victim that must police the crime. Because the amount of text out there is so large, I’m fairly certain that large portions of the plagiarism that goes on these days goes uncaught. My father once found someone having plagiarized a part of his dissertation, and got the person’s degree revoked, but it was mere chance that he happened upon it. He saw it in a list of dissertations and thought it would be interesting to see what it had to say about a topic related to the book he had written. Part way through he felt it seemed familiar. A little farther he realized that it was using part of an interview he had used (I think with Norman Mailer? Not his own interview, but sighted.) with all of the pronouns and names changed.

When I was younger, I was always worried that I would somehow accidentally plagiarize something. Then I read Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote I calmed down a bit.

Staring Too Long Into the Abyss

November 27th, 2007

The other day, as the Thanksgiving crew was exiting The Deception at The Jeune Lune, I wanted to talk immediately about what I felt were the flaws in the play. It was not that I didn’t like it. The performance was excellent, one of my favorite Jeune Lune productions. However, after years of thinking about narrative, I seem compelled to dissect it at the first opportunity. The program had said that parts of the plot were slightly reworked, to streamline the play. I wanted to suss them out.

My friends were not of the same mind. They wanted to savor the experience of the ending, which i thought was more concerned with painting a stage picture than closing the plot down. I’ve gotten used to liking things even as I pick them apart. No production is going to be perfect. But it ended up stepping on toes to jump right into thinking about things like that.

I started to wonder if my increasing appreciation for painting and photography wasn’t due to the fact they cut out many of the things I now notice and complain about. A single photograph can tell a story, but there is no room in it for any failed narrative twists or gimmicky red herrings. I value things like thesepicturesmy friend Shea shot because while they tell a story, I am allowed to infer much of it.

I got halfway through writing this, and then I decided that it’s more fun being a curmudgeon. It’s not raining on the parade, it’s throwing something interesting instead of confetti, like ground beef. Minnesota needs me to be a curmudgeon. The people in this state often act like a standing ovation is expected for every single performance of anything. From now on, my seat in the theater is my front porch. Get off it ye durn kids. And try to be a little less trite while you’re at it.

Arts and Crafts Edition

November 12th, 2007

The GF and I were looking at wedding invitations the other day. This turned out to be more fun than I’d expected, as it’s basically an excuse to play with scissors and glue again. I’m sure I won’t feel that way when I get drafted to cut paper for 75 of the damn things, or however many it ends up being.

So, I’ve been feeling pretty good about paper crafts.

Then, when I got home today, the girls upstairs had apparently spent the day making holiday cards. The fruits of their labor were placed on the mailbox for tomorrows pickup, and the reek of glue filled the entire house. I know this because I went downstairs to check.

It’s finally cold here, or at least it’s pretending to be cold. They hadn’t opened up the windows. As bad as it was downstairs, I can only imagine the strength of the brain destroying chemical headache that must have been going on on the second floor.

I had always associated certain crafts with seasons. I supposed that, like summer is the time for tomatoes, fall is the time for knitting mittens. The similarity of food and handycraft’s seasonal natures was driven home as I contemplated my dying brain cells. While I salute the girls for not using glue tape in a one time use plastic container, bound for a landfill, I can’t help but think that we all would be served better had that glue not been opened. Also, open letter, isn’t one of you a med school student? Shouldn’t you not have time for this sort of thing?

Still, a far cry from the time I was kept awake by what I can only assume was a Roomba Sex Party.

Hell. Yes.

July 4th, 2007

As far as I am concerned, my friend Shea hits another one out of the park. The part where you can see the line on the field, like it’s a carpet, is fantastic. No one will know what that means. Watch the videos.

Short Video

March 3rd, 2007

My friend Shea recently put up a video of a project he is working on. He seems to be calling it Durration-Smasher, and I think the video is quite beautiful.

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