September 20, 2019
[comics] Rusty Brown by Chris Ware, reviewed. … Slate reviewer attempts a not entirely sucessful Chris Ware takedown review. ‘Rusty Brown has two kinds of stories: Either a character is punished by the world because he deserves it, or he’s punished by the world even though he doesn’t. The book’s 356 pages contain more upskirts of underage girls (two) than complex human characters (maybe one) because actual people would revolt at being treated and depicted in such a fashion. The view of humanity in the book is dime-store Freudianism: Scratch a character and you’ll find their primal wound, which then overdetermines their behavior. There’s little compassion to be found in Rusty Brown, because compassion requires curiosity, and Ware has worked out everything too carefully for that. The schematic lifelessness that results creates a kind of numbing effect. You may not know the story in advance, but you know where it’s headed: straight to Sadtown, Population: Everyone.’
September 19, 2019
[emoji] 📙 Emojipedia — 😃 … for all your Emoji needs. ‘😱 Face Screaming in Fear 😱’
September 18, 2019
[fandom] Superfans: A Love Story … A profile of fandom from the New Yorker.
Annie Wilkes, [Stephen] King told me recently, was inspired in part by Mark David Chapman, who assassinated John Lennon hours after getting his autograph. As an author, King is familiar with fan enthusiasm gone awry. “There was a lot of backlash about the way that the ‘Dark Tower’ books ended,” he told me, referring to his multipart fantasy series. “Those fans were absolutely rabid about those books.” Not long after “Misery” came out, King and his son were at a baseball game when a man broke into his house with what he said was a bomb, claiming that Annie Wilkes had secretly been based on his aunt. “My wife ran out in her bare feet and called the cops,” King recalled, “and the guy was cowering in the turret of the third floor of our Victorian home.” The bomb turned out to be a bunch of pencils in a rubber band. Still, it unnerved King: his novel about a stalker fan had summoned a stalker fan. “People have gotten invested in culture and make-believe in a way that I think is a little bit unhealthy,” King said. “I mean, it’s supposed to be fun, right?”
September 17, 2019
[games] An Oral History of ‘Snake’ on Nokia … How the Snake Game came to be installed on Nokia phones. ‘We made it so the hardest level is actually as fast as the snake can possibly go. Considering screen-refresh rates, and how fast the software could calculate the next snake position, I needed to add delays in the slower levels to give more time between steps. In the fastest level, there is no delay and thus no way to make it faster than that. But it wouldn’t be so fast that it would crash the phone.’
September 16, 2019
[comics] Tales Of The Black Freighter: Marooned – Reconstructed … Watchmen’s EC comic-within-a-comic recreated using existing panels and word balloons.
September 13, 2019
[podcasts] Go read and then listen… What are the best in-depth investigative podcasts? … ‘On the podcast “You Must Remember This”, I completely enjoyed the series they did on the Manson Family.’ [Related: You Must Remember This – Charles Manson’s Hollywood]
September 12, 2019
[brexit] This Is How Dominic Cummings Sees The World — And What It Means For Brexit … ‘One Whitehall source, pointing out that there’s more to government than what Cummings saw at the Department for Education, acerbically noted that the bureaucracy he despises exists to stop poor performances such as departments producing error-strewn financial statements. This was something Cummings’ own department did. Another source familiar with his work offered a particularly withering assessment, describing him as “a man with a history degree — who has seen Terminator.”’
September 11, 2019
[cia] From mind control to murder? How a deadly fall revealed the CIA’s darkest secrets … A long read on the death of Frank Olson. ‘As the family were rising to leave, Gottlieb pulled Eric aside. “You are obviously very troubled by your father’s suicide,” he said. “Have you ever considered getting into a therapy group for people whose parents have committed suicide?” Eric did not follow that suggestion, but it left a deep impression on him. For years, he had been confused and depressed by the story of his father’s death. Only after meeting Gottlieb, however, did he resolve to bring his search for truth to the centre of his life. “I didn’t have the confidence then in my scepticism to ignore his ploys, but when he made that therapy group suggestion – that was the moment when he overplayed his hand,” he said. “At that moment, I understood how much Gottlieb had a stake in defusing me. And it was also at that moment that the determination to show that he had played a role in murdering my father was born.” Eric Olson waited another decade – until after his mother died – before taking his next step: arranging to exhume his father’s body.’
September 10, 2019
September 9, 2019
[comics] How Ex-CIA Officer Tom King Became the World’s Hottest Comic Book Writer … The Daily Beast profiles Tom King. ‘The most inspired moments in Mister Miracle relegate the physical war against Darkseid to the background, often literally. In one sequence, Scott and Barda deflect lasers, wade past freakish sea monsters, and take out armed guards as they break into Apokolips. They spend the entire scene—nine-plus pages—discussing little more than the cons and merits of decluttering their condo. After Scott is sentenced to be executed in a rigged trial, they spend a day at the Santa Monica pier, then stuck in traffic, shooting the shit in the comfortable banter of a long-term couple. And Darkseid’s most memorable transgression, apart from being an evil warlord, is double-dipping a half-bitten carrot in a veggie platter’s ranch tray.’
September 6, 2019
[kubrick] How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing … Analysing the classic conspiracy theory that Kubrick left cryptic messages about staging the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in the Shining. ‘The clincher comes when the Danny gets up from his tricycle and walks down the corridor, following a mysterious call, the sort that a government might make to a filmmaker in a time of crisis. The caretaker’s son is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater—weird, huh? It shows a rocket over the words Apollo 11. When he stands, it seems as if the rocket is blasting off, whereas of course it isn’t because it isn’t real. Danny walks, thus the rocket flies, until he finds himself outside Room 237. Danny, who stands for the child in Kubrick, the artist, has traveled to 237, that is, all the way to the moon. Only he hasn’t. Is any of this real? Of course not. It’s a face in the clouds.’
September 5, 2019
[sealand] A Visit to Sealand, the World’s Tiniest Nation … The bizarre creation story of the micronation of Sealand along with more recent history. ‘As we finished one last cup of tea in the kitchen, Michael grinned. He seemed as proud of the convoluted story behind his family’s bizarre creation as he was of Sealand’s resilience. Taking advantage of a gap in international law, Sealand had grown old while other attempts at seasteads never made it far beyond what-if imaginings. The Bates family was certainly daring, but the secret to Sealand’s survival was its limited aspirations. It had no territorial ambitions; it wasn’t seeking to create a grand caliphate. In the view of its powerful neighbors, Sealand was merely a rusty kingdom, easier to ignore than to eradicate.’
September 4, 2019
[blogs] Any old-school bloggers still posting? … Long list of operational blogs from Ask Metafilter.
September 3, 2019
[internet] Go Look: Usage Share of Internet Browsers 1996 – 2019 … A fascinating infoviz – mainly because it neatly illustrates Internet Explorer’s total domination of browser share for much of the early 2000s and later the rise of Chrome.
September 2, 2019
[comics] We Almost Got an Alan Moore/Kevin O’Neill Bizarro Comic? … Details on one of AM’s unstarted projects. ‘Me and Kevin O’Neill would really love to do a Bizarro mini-series, examining this whole Bizarro world. I mean, it’s square. How do the physics work on a world like that? What about the people who live on the corners? If you look at the pictures of the Bizarro world, there are continents that fold around the corners, so presumably you must have people living at right angles to each other. I just want to see Kevin draw it. I’m sure he’d be up to it.’
August 30, 2019
[anime] Go look: We Ranked Anime’s Top 10 Static Shots of Power Lines With Cicada Noises … ‘One Punch Man – That classic beautiful low angle shot of power lines on a hot summer day. The cluttered crisscross of the lines juxtaposed by the openness of the sky makes this one of the best power line shots ever.’
August 28, 2019
[truecrime] The Killing of Julia Wallace: An Impossible Murder … Go read this real-life locked room-style true crime story. ‘The Wallace case is like a jigsaw puzzle where the last piece never fits. No matter how many times we reassemble it, it stubbornly refuses to form a complete image. At the centre of that fragmented picture remains the unknowable figure of William Herbert Wallace; flustered insurance salesman or criminal genius?’
[comics] Dr Manhattan – Don’t blame me. I voted for chaos with Ed Miliband. (Hat Tip: @MartinBelam)
August 27, 2019
[books] My Favorite Anti-Semite: H.P. Lovecraft … A well-written attempt to square the circle of being a Jewish HPL fan whilst dealing with his prejudices and bigotry. ‘Why did he at once obsess over spreading Jewish influence in the media and then encourage and enable young Jewish authors? Why did a man who believed in the evils of Aryan “mongrelization” marry a Jewish woman? If he believed that the only good Jew was an assimilated Jew, why did he admire the traditional Jewish imagination? I have no answers. Like so much of the forbidden knowledge and alien monsters that fill Lovecraft’s stories, bigotry is by its nature irrational, contradictory, and more than a little insane. His anti-Semitism seems illogical because it was illogical, the product of personal factors and frustrations about which we can but speculate.’
August 23, 2019
[king] The best Stephen King movies … ranked! … ‘Carrie (1976) -It didn’t take long for Hollywood to realise the prolific King was the equivalent of discovering a new oil field when it came to horror movies: his debut novel was in cinemas within two years of publication. Brian De Palma turned King’s tale of horrendous high-school bullying and psychokinetic wrath into something like a high-school heist movie, with mean girl Nancy Allen patiently plotting disproportionate revenge against Sissy Spacek’s browbeaten, willowy wallflower. Despite the 2013 remake, De Palma’s bloody blowout remains the definitive version.’
August 22, 2019
[space] NASA’s Voyagers Grow Weaker Each Year … How the Voyager probes are still running after 40 years in space. ‘Engineers also shut off a heating component that keeps one of Voyager 2’s instruments warm enough to function in the frigid cold of space. Turning off a heater buys the mission four watts, the same amount it loses in a year. After months of deliberation, scientists decided that sacrificing this instrument, which last year helped confirm that the spacecraft had left the solar system, was worth it. Unlike the others, this instrument can point only in certain directions. Some other instruments have, incredibly, tolerated the loss of their heaters, sometimes for years.’
August 21, 2019
[comics] How did a street in Norwich become a location for Alberto Breccia’s “Mort Cinder”? … The mystery of how a Norwich street became a location in one of Argentina’s best comics. ‘Michael Crouch was surprised to discover that a few pages in, the protagonist travels from Chelsea in London to somewhere called Mertonville, near St. Albans. “On turning the page I was surprised to see a very faithful rendition of Elm Hill in Norwich,” he notes.’
August 20, 2019
[comics] Watchmen, t-SNE sorted … Every panel in Watchmen sorted by similarity using a machine learning algorithm by Pete Ashton.
August 19, 2019
[books] Go Look: Stephen King signing Christine the at Forbidden Planet bookstore in 1983.
August 16, 2019
[blogs] Monster or guru? What Dominic Cummings’ blog tells us about him … Dominic Cummings has a blog and he puts collections of links into PDFs?! 😱 ‘He started it five years ago and has used it as a dumping ground for his thoughts. All of his thoughts. Some entries are only a few lines long while others stretch to 10,000 words. The whole thing, including attachments, has a higher word count than Ulysses. Like Ulysses, it is both focused and digressive, obsessive and uncontainable; all emphatic italics and BLOCK CAPS and (1) numbered points leading to (2) apocalyptic conclusions. Cummings studied history at Oxford but writes knowingly about subjects from bio-engineering to space exploration. His style oscillates between the academic and the hard-boiled. He suggests “bunging a few million quid” to someone to liven up the civil service; claims that “great unconventional hookers and a bit of imagination … get you into pretty much anywhere”; and wonders “what is to stop someone sending a drone swarm across the river and bombing parliament during PMQs”.’
August 15, 2019
[ideas] Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in … A long-read on Accelerationism. ‘In 1998, Land resigned from Warwick too. He and half a dozen CCRU members withdrew to the room above the Leamington Spa Body Shop. There they drifted from accelerationism into a vortex of more old-fashioned esoteric ideas, drawn from the occult, numerology, the fathomless novels of the American horror writer HP Lovecraft, and the life of the English mystic Aleister Crowley, who had been born in Leamington, in a cavernous terraced house which several CCRU members moved into. “The CCRU became quasi-cultish, quasi-religious,” says Mackay.’
August 14, 2019
August 13, 2019
[life] Having the best mattress, suitcase, and vitamins nearly broke me … A journalist uses all the best products for a week. ‘For one week, I lived the kind of life that’s scientifically concocted by marketing professionals, the kind of life that Bill O’Reilly probably thinks of when he gets riled up about annoying young people. I tried to be a different version of me; I tried to be less gross. I will not lie and say that I had fewer than two existential crises…’
August 12, 2019
[comics] A Celebration of Spain’s “Golden Generation” Comic Book Artists … A great gallery of art from Spanish comic artists.
August 9, 2019
[movies] Nicolas Cage on Acting, Philosophy and Searching for the Holy Grail … Long, readable Nick Cage Interview. ‘I put this line in “Mandy”: “The psychotic drowns where the mystic swims.” You either have the proclivity to open up your imagination or you don’t. If you have that propensity and are on camera about to do a scene, what would make you believe in what you’re about to do? Say you’re playing a demon biker with an ancient spirit. What power objects could you find that might trick your imagination? Would you find an antique from an ancient pyramid? Maybe a little sarcophagus that’s a greenish color and looks like King Tut? Would you sew that into your jacket and know that it’s right next to you when the director says “action”? Could you open yourself to that power?’