prog: (colossus)
One of many reasons that xkcd is a far worthier holder of the go-to geek-comic-strip title than User Friendly ever was is its approach to sex.

The characters in User Friendly are all terrified of women, except for the one or two characters who are women, and therefore whose job it is to go around being all up ins with the boobies and scaring everyone.

The characters of xkcd (and there are characters, I'm convinced, nameless though they may be) were having stick-figure carnal relations from the get go, more or less. And it turns out that geek-tweaked sex-and-romance humor can be much richer and subtler than nerd-stereotype frustrated-virgin humor. That is all.

You know, I don't think I've been linked to any User Friendly comics in the last 10 years.
prog: (norton)
• Final bizcard design. This is the actual image I sent to yesterday; I expect to have a bucketful of cards by PAX day. Thanks be to various Arbitrarium denizens for helping me fine-tune it.

I wrote another column on comics and video games. It's a bit wanky and therefore everyone seems to have ignored it, but I had fun with it anyway. (Because: wanky.)

• Spent the weekend in DC with Amy, visiting our friend Monica and eating things and looking at things. I'd been to the city before, but never for its own sake.

The high point was our tour of the monuments on Sunday. Walking through the (very) different war monuments put me into an unusually quiet and receptive state, and perhaps I should have paused before moving on to the Lincoln memorial. But I did not, and so suddenly finding myself standing in the presence proved such a crescendo that I nearly broke down. I had to exert real effort not to sob loudly as I scuttled, trembling, behind one of the big pillars. It took me long minutes before I could look directly at the statue, and even then I had to sidestep slowly from behind my hiding place, making its revelation gradual.

I have never before experienced such a reaction to a piece of static artwork.


Jul. 16th, 2009 03:40 pm
prog: (Default)
Here's a letter I just sent to, reprinted for your amusement. I did not P.S. this xkcd, but now wish that I had.


I just received a green screen and lighting kit that I purchased from your store via eBay. First of all, it seems great so far, so thanks for your prompt shipment!

I have a suggestion, however. I see some potential danger in the spring-loaded telescoping rods that make up the frame's side-stands. When I first unpacked one of these, I took it to be an ordinary telescoping rod. So I was quite surprised when I flipped down one of its fastening levers, and suddenly the inner rod - tipped with a thin metal screw - shot upwards rather dramatically.

Because I was standing to one side of the device, I simply jumped a little, and then laughed about it. But then I thought: oh boy, with a clumsier person, this could be a lawsuit waiting to happen. And so, to you, I might advise including a note or sticker with this frame that mentions these springs, and advises caution when loosening the levers.

That is all. Thanks!
prog: (Default)
What do you call the opposite of a Mary Sue character? That is, an intentional self-insertion who, rather than being the smartest girl in Starfleet Academy who will marry Draco Malfoy at the end, is instead a pathetic and unloved loser - who still manages to be the star of the show, mind you.

I want to call this class of character a "Kilgore Trout", but for the sake of symmetry, I think I prefer "Charlie Brown".

"Mary Sue" works too, but I don't think it works as well to mean any kind of character who is based on the author. To me the term strongly implies that the character is idealized and amateurishly written, as well, and that is certainly not universally the case.
prog: (Default)
Via Making Light, a daily three-panel gag strip about Prometheus. Yes, that Prometheus. Enjoy.

(And here is every single strip so far on a single page.)

Th' junkie and I are gonna spend the day at the aquarium now. Laters.
prog: (Mr. Spook)
Hey look it is the final For Better or for Worse strip. WIth its continuing, shifting storyline about a family whose members aged and matured (and occasionally gave birth or died) in real time, it was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid.

It grew increasingly treacly over the years, and I stopped being able to read it maybe halfway through its run. (Or maybe it was always quite treacly, and I became too cyncial for it as I got older.) For all that, it was a fine, tightly scoped soap opera with believable stories and characters, and I have always loved Johnston's loose but warm art style.

On the minus side, it looks like it's about to go into reruns, rather than step aside and let a new talent in. Once this would have made me growl and moan about the continual morass that is the North American newspaper comics page, as it clings to yet another corpse rather than try anything new, but honestly I stopped reading the funny pages so long ago that it's really not my place to say any more.

Edit Hmm, some people are interpreting messages at the strip's website that Johnston is not putting the strip into reruns, but manually rebooting the whole enterprise and starting a fresh story with newlywed (and rejuvenated) John and Elly. Which would be... well, interesting. I bet we'll get the full poop at Weingarten's chat next week.
prog: (Default)
Man, nothing was bumming me out so much yesterday as learning that Randall "xkcd" Munroe publicly switched his (non-Lisp) programming allegiance from Perl to Python. I read that cartoon when it was new, but I didn't bother rolling over the alt text (I seldom do) until [ profile] radtea made reference to it yesterday. Munroe drew the cartoon just a few months after drawing a great one that celebrated Perl (if somewhat backhandedly), so I just thought he was giving equal measure to both languages.

I don't know why I care about stuff like this, but it seems that I do. It's pragmatically meaningless to me; continues to have more postings every month than the one before, and the rare times I run into a direct challenge of Perl's authority in my professional life, I have always been able to swat it down easily. (I mean, usually they're something like "So-and-so told me that Perl is just a glue language, and it's outdated even for that. And that it's ugly and unmaintainable! He said we should use PHP instead." Hurr.)

And it's not like I'm against learning new languages. I'm picking up C# for another project, right now. (Yes, there's an overdue post there.) But switching one's home language in a particular work-area, and then flaunting it (while being an in-circles ultra-popular cartoonist), I dunno. Imagine a media personality you enjoy, and who happens to be a Red Sox fan, going onto the Daily Show to renounce the team and put on NY pinstripes while the audience cheers. (Er, also imagine that you grew up in a Boston-area sports-loving house, OK?) I feel like that. It's nothing that affects me directly, but I still feel a loss, somewhere.
prog: (Default)
Blurb to put into your conference ad if you don't want me to come:

There was so much energy in the room - with everyone taking pictures, blogging, podcasting, and twittering - it was reminiscent of SXSW.

Why yes, I have set up a twitter thing, though I update it maybe twice a week currently (I'm "jasonmcintosh"). And I might go anyway - eh, it's $50, and I could stand to punch up my local network a little. But that description just makes me blanch, still.


Mar. 29th, 2008 12:21 pm
prog: (galaxians)
I didn't think I'd like Super Smash Bros Brawl, and I'd surely like it a lot less if [ profile] classicaljunkie and I didn't live around a lot people who love to play chaotic button-mashy fighty party games, but we do, so I do. CJ might dig it more than me, actually, since she's also into the single-player modes and the trophy-collection hook.

I used to play the previous game (Melee) at [ profile] mrmorse's occasionally, and usually felt like I had little control over the action, whanging away at the buttons and making my character do random stuff. After a little bit of practice with my own copy of the game, my random-whanging rate's down to maybe 75 percent, and that makes a big difference.

Jmac tip for beginners: The first combo move to learn is the the up-special smash, which is (almost) every character's fall-recovery technique. When you can pull it off without panicking, you can save yourself from falling off the screen more often than not. Mess around in the Solo Training level for a few minutes to get the hang of it. With the standard remote + nunchuk controller setup, you trigger it by tapping up and pressing B.

We unlocked R.O.B. last night, and for whatever reason I'm very good with him. Also his green-metal look is quite attractive. Pikachu was my first good character, but whenever I bust him out among friends they all become venomous with anti-Pikachu hysteria, making me the biggest target. So Mr. P has transformed into my gutsy inviting-everyone-to-bring-it character.

I'd post my SSBB friend-code but my Wii is at CJ's and I don't know. Someday I'll get it together. I wish it were easier, but so does everyone else. This VGCats comic does an excellent job summarizing the three different consoles' approach to online play, with Nintendo's being especially poignant.
prog: (galaxians)
I've been letting myself play Half Life 2 in measured doses, and just finished it. Great game. I have the next two episodes, by way of the Orange Box, but I don't feel particularly driven to fire them up right away. Soon enough I'll be like Oh, dude, I can play Episode One and that will make me so happy. Probably after I conquer some territory iRL first.

Also finished Concerned, a delightful parody presented like a photocomic, using posed game characters and settings. That's nuthin new for game-fun comix, but what I haven't seen before within the genre is its very clever use of secret-history storytelling style, threading around and through the canonical story (which it leaves intact) in an attempt to explain some of its peculiarities. As with all good webcomics, the writing gets tighter and the humor sharper as it continues, and there's an especially satisfying surprise near the end.
prog: (King of All Cosmos)
It appears that I shall be going to the thon with [ profile] daerr and [ profile] xartofnothingx. Yayyy! A veteran and a newbie, respectively, so this will be a good time. I know some of y'all're planning on attending too, and I look forward to seeing you there. (Are the seats up in the balcony still from the 19th Century? If so I think we'll stick to the ground level...)

BTW, the thon is from Sunday noon to Monday noon at the Somerville Theater. Its website isn't all that hot this year at explaining this sort of thing.

Here is the entirety of a Dan Clowes comic that recently ran as a serial in the New York Times. I love Clowes, but this story, about a blind date, is so incredibly igry that I currently can't bear to click past the seventh page.
prog: (Default)
Spotted via Making Light, some charming and understated one-page comics about famous writers at work. Linked is Ben Jonson; others linked below that. (Dorothy Parker's is LOLable.)
prog: (Mr. Spook)
Yesterday's completely unexpected purchase was this edition of Lady Chatterly's Lover, entirely due to its covers and flaps being covered with delightful comics by Chet Brown, a favorite cartoonist whose distinct style bludgeoned me with its surprising presence as I walked past the "Classics" shelf.

The front cover is an illustrated excerpt from the book, the back cover is a tiny (but complete) cartoon biography of D.H. Lawrence, the front flap has a brief examination of the author's relationship with his wife and the rear flap lists his own possible extramarital affairs. Awesome! I had to buy it, both to own and to encourage more cool crap like this to exist.
prog: (Default)
[ profile] doctor_atomic links to an hilarious SNL ad that illustrates the utterly lame approach that mainstream game publishers take when they try to market universally fun things to girls specifically.

[ profile] jadelennox discusses a recent XKCD which is, as always, spot-on. (And makes me feel bad that I am invariably too lazy to bother reading the alt text. I'd suggest that the cartoonist needs to do something else with that message, but shoving it in alt text undeniably fits so fell with the strip's general attitude and audience.)
prog: (Default)
This has been going around, but I just wanted to comment that it's the most alarmingly otaku thing I've seen all month, in the William Gibson sense of the word. A Batman / Dostoyevsky mashup where someone absolutely nailed the circa-1940 American comics art and layout style. Holy smokes.
prog: (Default)
* The ambiguity of this comic:

Slashdorks will read it and be like "rofl i deal with idiots like this at work every damn day, but they'd fire me if I hung up on them for real", even though I'm fairly confident that's not the joke. Something for everyone!

* The comic is hand-lettered. I have probably already mentioned this as a reason I like the comic, but I'll say it again. Hand-lettering makes any comic look about ten times better to me. (And you could make a "zero times ten" wisecrack here, but I would retort that there is a basic charm to the art. Very basic, sure, but still.)

* There are no comments or ratings or anything attached to the comic. Everyone likes getting comments, and I'd understand if he wanted to have comments so that every comic would have an ever-growing beard of public "LOL ^^;" messages attached, but I wouldn't like it.

* The cartoonist invites and even encourages direct linking to the cartoon images, even printing the necessary HTML code beside each one. That's great.


Jul. 10th, 2007 05:01 pm
prog: (Default)

I figured some of you would appreciate this. (From Secret Asian Man by Tak Toyoshima, originally spotted in The Dig.)
prog: (Default)

This Modern World's usually pretty bleah but this one had me laughing out loud.
prog: (Default)
I went into last weekend feeling really weird and doomed and came out of it... well I guess I still feel doomed but at least it's the good kind.

Saturday was a day for conversations. I had a conversation with [ profile] daerr about the Volity web client, and later had another with [ profile] classicaljunkie about the nature and direction of our relationship. I now feel on much better footing with both.

For the first time in a long while, Volity suffuses me with the IT'S LATER THAN YOU THINK sense of dread, the way my gut feeling manifests itself when I'm on the right path. It feels awful but it is a good thing. I put all of Sunday into the first real I know exactly what I'm doing-quality work into the web client. As I write this, I am almost done porting Testbench into HTML. If you know what this means, this ought to be exciting to you. At any rate, there will be more public announcements and demonstrations when it's ready.

Yes, Sunday was supposed to be my first day for doing video production work, according to my new weekly schedule. But, the schedule's meant to be broken, and my being on fire about something acts as a trump here.

Yesterday wasn't really the weekend but I'll mention anyway that I spent most of the day doing good work for the webby client, and then I watched Eraserhead for the first time. Now I have the idea in my head to try grinding it down to a 20- or even 10-minute short and seeing if it turns into a whacked-out surreal comedy. Also making one of those joke fake-out trailers out of it. I think there's just enough dialog in there to make a trailer that depicts it as a romantic comedy. She's got a wacky family, and he's got some kooky hangups! What could possibly bring them together?

On Saturday D also set me up with all of the Heroes and Lost that I haven't seen yet. In the case of Heroes, this was most of them. The three of us watched a couple of episodes all together that evening, and CJ and I have been catching two or three at a time since then. (She's already seen them all and is a huge fan.) I like the show but I don't loooove it. It feels very tropey to me, in terms of both style and content. I have already read The Invisibles and Astro City and other superhero (d|r)econstruction efforts, and here is yet another one that clearly follows their lead, albeit in a new medium with decent production values.

I find the production itself diminished for being riddled with visual clichés. Oh, a character is walking backwards? Wait for the hand to come out and grab the shoulder! Yes, there it is. BUM BUM sez the soundtrack. Yeah, shut up. Actually I do have to say shut UP out loud at the voiceover that randomly reads different episodes in and out with Winfrey book club psychobabble.

Also, the depiction of severe neurological trauma on a conscious body continues to be the only visual that can really squick me. And boy there's a lot of that on the show. Insert standard frustration that you can show living brains getting liquified on American TV, but not boobies. Boobies are bad. Also swearing.

I have some really hairsplitting whines about specific bits of content on the show, but in every case it comes down to "that's not how I would have written it", and if I'm imagining myself on the show's writing staff, that has to mean that I feel something for it. And I do; when it's fun, it's really fun. And it's fun more that it isn't.


May. 11th, 2007 03:03 pm
prog: (Mr. Spook)
After finishing some contract work at the Diesel, ducked into MacIntyre & Moore to wait out the rain, and bought some comics they had lying around.

* A 1970s collection of Howard Cruse's "Barefootz". I had heard of this strip, but hadn't actually seen it on paper before. I know it more as a contemporary of other cartoons from the era that I adore. Indeed, these early examples aren't very good, and the art style's a little creepy. A newcomer probably won't realize that the main character is not supposed to be a little boy, though if you read far enough in from any given point this will become clear soon enough. Think "Peanuts" with T&A and occasional bouts of graphic sex.

* "God's Bosom", a collection of strips about the post-Columbian history of Texas, by Jack Jackson. Published in 1995 but reprinting a lot of stuff from the 1970s through the 1990s. This guy's work is new to me! He's got the scratchy-scratchy style that marks him as a member of the R. Crumb underground school, but more specifically reminds me a lot of John Severin's work (in "Cracked" and elsewhere). A bit heavy on multi-panel layouts of stomach-churning depictions of atrocities, though. Barf.

* "40 Hour Man", a hefty 2006 memoir written by Stephen Beaupre, with comics-style illustrations on on every page by Steve Lafler. I think I'll like it; it's a chronicle of every job the writer had, from a stockboy in the 1970s through his layoff at Lycos. Oddly, folded into the front cover (I only now notice!) is a letter that makes it clear this was a review copy sent to The Dig, a Boston-area indie weekly. That it ended up in a used bookshop with the letter still there makes me a little sad. If I end up writing a proper review here, I'll point the authors at it. Shrug.

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