September 23, 2013
[books] Stephen King: on alcoholism and returning to the Shining
… King is interviewed by Emma Brockes.
…without labouring the point, [Doctor Sleep] has good allegorical bones: the sick buzz one gets from consuming the grisliest news stories. It also captures the reality of a recovering alcoholic, a state with which King is intimately familiar. “The hungover eye,” he writes, “had a weird ability to find the ugliest things in any given landscape.” Danny turns his life around and starts going to AA meetings, where, King writes, he discovers that memories are the “real ghosts”. It is a book as extravagantly inventive as any in King’s pantheon, and a careful study of self-haunting: “You take yourself with you, wherever you go.”
September 20, 2013
[comics] The DC New 52 Timeline of Departures, Firings, and Bridge-Burnings
… a look at recent internal strife at DC Comics … ‘8/9/2013 – Justice League 3000 was to be a “dream team” book reuniting writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with artist Kevin Maguire. Somewhere along the way, DC got cold feet with the lighter direction of the book (before the first issue had hit the stands, of course, because why wait for the fans’ reactions) and fired Maguire, replacing him with Howard Porter. “I’m still a bit perplexed as to how it got to this point,” said Maguire, reflecting the feelings of many fans who wondered why DC would even hire the beloved Justice League International veterans in the first place if they didn’t want a book that was anything like Justice League International.’
September 18, 2013
[twitter] First World Problems on Twitter
… ‘It’s generally a fact that there is no kale available in Crouch End because of the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook. #unbearable’
September 17, 2013
[history] Early recollections of Adolf Hitler: “Eccentric but quite a pleasant fellow”
… a profile of Adolf Hitler published in the New Statesman in 1933 …
In those days in Munich I lived in the Thiersh Strasse, and I frequently noticed in the street a man who vaguely reminded me of a militant edition of Charles Chaplin, owing to his characteristic moustache and his bouncing way of walking. He always carried a riding whip in his hand with which he used incessantly to chop off imaginary heads as he walked. He was so funny that I inquired from neighbours who he might be: most of them, owing to his Slav type, took him to be one of these Russian émigrés who abounded in Germany at that time, and they freely talked of his being probably a trifle mentally deranged. But my grocer told me it was a Herr Adolf Hitler from Braunau in Austria, and that he was leader of a tiny political group which called itself the “German National Socialist Workers Party”. He lived as a boarder in the apartment of a small artisan, wrote articles for an obscure paper called the Völkischer Beobachter, and orated in hole-and-corner meetings before audiences of a dozen or two. Out of curiosity I bought the paper once or twice, and found it a scatter-brained collection of wild anti-Jewish stories and articles interlarded with panegyrics on the Germanic race. My obliging grocer closed his information on Hitler by remarking that he frequently purchased things in his shop and was, despite his eccentric appearance, quite a pleasant fellow, though inclined to talk sixteen to the dozen about anything and everything.
September 16, 2013
[comics] Howard Chaykin on his lewd, depraved, banned graphic novels
… a short interview with Chaykin but has plenty of pages and panels from his long career … Chaykin on digital illustration: ‘I work with and use Photoshop in my comics work. I also believe that web comics are the future of comics, a future with little or no room for me, since I produce a page-designed product, and web comics are aspect-ratio based. An iPad is either portrait or landscape, with zoom and click: a factor that obviates my primary skillset.’
September 15, 2013
[comics] Twitter / MattBors: ‘The quintessential comics fan—reading books he can’t stand for 45 years.’
September 13, 2013
… ‘Make a funny face or something you little shit.’
September 12, 2013
[mail] In the Sorting Office
… depressing long-read on what the happens after the Royal Mail is privatised … ‘Every week Dutch households and businesses are visited by postmen and postwomen from four different companies. There are the ‘orange’ postmen of the privatised Dutch mail company, trading as TNT Post but about to change their name to PostNL; the ‘blue’ postmen of Sandd, a private Dutch firm; the ‘yellow’ postmen of Selekt, owned by Deutsche Post/DHL; and the ‘half-orange’ postmen of Netwerk VSP, set up by TNT to compete cannibalistically against itself by using casual labour that is cheaper than its own (unionised) workforce. TNT delivers six days a week, Sandd and Selekt two, and VSP one. From the point of view of an ardent free-marketeer, this sounds like healthy competition. Curiously, however, none of the competitors is prospering.’
September 11, 2013
[web] The Pinterest Skeptics Board
… pushing back at fake, misleading or wrong quotes on Pinterest.
September 10, 2013
Facebook is just fine
… How to hide your way to a better Facebook … ‘My newsfeed is almost all signal. This is, in part, because I am ruthless. If you are overtly negative (which is different than having opinions differing from my own), you get hidden. If I don’t find value in your postings, you get hidden. If you’re a high school friend I friended just to be nice, I hide. I hide unhesitatingly. I hide remorselessly. Hiding is your super power. Hiding is one of those few pure joys of the Internet through which — amidst the near-endless entropy of online content — you can take a stand, push back in a way that meaningfully affects the data you see.’
September 9, 2013
[movies] Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs: out of time?
… Twenty years after the release of Jurassic Park how realistic were the dinosaurs … ‘New finds show that the forelimbs of tyrannosaurs were rather closer together than previously assumed – on screen those famous little arms are set far up the side of the animal, but in fact should be much closer together and almost underneath the head. These are minor details in appearance compared to the probability that Tyrannosaurus had feathers, or the fact that there’s no good evidence that Velociraptor was a pack hunter or especially smart (or as fast as a cheetah while we’re on the subject), and the giant frill and venom-spitting in Dilophosaurus is basically fiction.’
September 6, 2013
[comics] The 50 Greatest Graphic Novels Of All Time
… according to the Scotish Herald … ‘#3 Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth, Chris Ware (2000) – Eight years in the making, Ware’s graphic novel may on the page look like the most formally precise title in this list, yet that perfection can be misleading. It moves so easily between the past and the present, reality and imagination that you can get lost in its labyrinth. “Sophisticated like free jazz,” suggests Metraphrog cartoonist John Chalmers. “It changed the way I looked at the world, at comics, the way I drew,” adds Stephen Collins.’
September 3, 2013
[language] The Rad New Words Added to the Dictionary in the ’90s: Where Are They Now?
… Alexis Madrigal investigates what new words added to dictionaries during the 90’s made it into common usage today … ‘Cypherpunk: In the early days of both computing and the Internet, cryptography to keep people from spying on you was all the rage. For obvious reasons, both the term and idea of cypherpunk are coming back, I think.’
September 2, 2013
August 30, 2013
[bbc] How Biased Is The BBC?
… Apparently it’s not biased in the ways you might think… ‘Conservative politicians were featured more than 50% more often than Labour ones (24 vs 15) across the two time periods on the BBC News at Six. So the evidence is clear that BBC does not lean to the left it actually provides more space for Conservative voices.’
August 29, 2013
[people] Ask Ayn Rand
… John Hodgman rediscovers long-lost Ayn Rand magazine columns from 1980 …
My moral philosophy is founded on the idea that there is an objective reality, and that man’s senses can perceive this objective reality. This faculty, which is man’s reason, is paramount above all else. He takes for evidence only his own experience, his own judgment, and that is why I do not hesitate to say, objectively, definitively, that “Caddyshack” is the year’s best movie.
Rodney Dangerfield plays a self-made man who is not ashamed of his ambition, who does not apologize for his success, and who gets excitement from the joyful reality that we are all going to get laid if we are willing to be productively selfish and to stop coddling the weak. In other movie news, I did not like how easily the boy escaped Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.” I have solved all the hedge mazes in the United States and Europe, and I can tell you they are not that complicated.
August 28, 2013
[space] Astronaut Recounts His Near-Drowning On Spacewalk
… Who knew you could drown in Space? ‘…he pondered what he would do if the water reached his mouth. The only idea he had, he said, was to open the safety valve on his helmet and let out some of the water. “But making a ‘hole’ in my spacesuit really would be a last resort,” he wrote.’
August 27, 2013
[wikipedia] Updating a Printed Wikipedia
… How many printers would you need to print out the English version of Wikipedia? … ‘Six printers isn’t that many, but they’d be running all the time. And that gets expensive. The electricity to run them would be cheap—a few dollars a day. The paper would be about one cent per sheet, which means you’ll be spending about a thousand dollars a day. You’d want to hire people to manage the printers 24/7, but that would actually cost less than the paper. Even the printers themselves wouldn’t be too expensive, despite the terrifying replacement cycle. But the ink cartridges would be a nightmare.’
August 23, 2013
[batman] Wondermark: A Knight is Technically an Aristocrat
… ‘I want to dress in a bat costume and punch individual muggers.’
August 22, 2013
[funny] BREAKING NEWS: Guardian ordered to destroy bourgeois lifestyle articles
… ‘The Guardian has destroyed nauseatingly middle-class articles about garden furniture and teenagers failing to get a place at Oxford. Ministers said it was in the national interest to destroy the articles as they make the UK a target for radical anti-narcissism groups.’
[comics] Grant Morrison on bringing back Wonder Woman
… Morrison also discusses Rebellion’s reprinting of Zenith.
…one particular title from the late 1980s made headlines earlier this year. Rebellion, the publisher of 2000AD, announced it was planning to reprint Zenith, Morrison’s subversive superhero strip. Shallow, sarcastic and frequently used as a way for Morrison to criticise the Conservative party, the hero’s five-year run in 2000AD ended in 1992. Zenith has been out of print ever since, due to a legal dispute over who owns the rights. So Rebellion’s announcement of a £100 preorder-only hardback complete collection raised rather a lot of eyebrows, with Morrison unable to comment. But, choosing his words carefully, the writer is now able to talk a little about what’s happening.
“Well, it’s very simple,” he begins with a wince. “We, uh, we spent five grand on lawyers’ fees. They sent [Rebellion] letters. We were very keen to discuss it and we’ve never heard back from them. All I can say is that we tried to get into a discussion with them and they just didn’t reply. I don’t know what to do at this stage.”
August 21, 2013
[funny] Father Teaches Son How To Fly Into Rage Over Completely Inconsequential Bullshit
… The Onion on a heart-warming father/son relationship … ‘In an effort to help guide his son’s development, Dalton explained that he consistently tries to embody the qualities of irritability, hostility, and bitterness in his daily life, emphasizing to his fourth-grade son the importance of letting his annoyance over an inconsequential matter develop into a lingering, biting resentment that makes others feel uncomfortable to be near him. In addition, the 42-year-old market researcher said that he has been making a concerted effort of late to show his boy how to obsess over such ultimately trifling things as a driver going too slow in the left lane or a person who is slightly holding up a line, and to interpret these incidents as if they were significant, deliberate personal slights.’
August 20, 2013
[comics] Chris Ware Q&A
… a live chat with Guardian readers …
Q: Did you base Jimmy Corrigan’s looks on Piers Morgan? Come on, you can tell us.
Chris Ware: Honestly, I don’t know Piers Morgan, though I suppose I could google-image-search him. Jimmy Corrigan has my grandfather’s hair, Charlie Brown’s eyes, Tintin’s pants and my self-doubt and that’s about it, I’m afraid.
August 19, 2013
[batman] The Killing Joke Ending Revealed?
… Grant Morrison has an interesting theory about the conclusion of The Killing Joke … ‘That’s what I love about it- Batman kills the Joker…that’s why it’s called The Killing Joke…The Joker tells the ‘killing joke’ at the end and Batman reaches out and breaks his neck… and that’s why the laughter stops…the light goes out because that was the last chance of crossing that bridge. Alan wrote the ultimate Batman Joker story… because he finished it… the laughter stops, it abruptly stops, it’s quite obvious.’
August 16, 2013
[books] Why Stephen King Spends ‘Months and Even Years’ Writing Opening Sentences
… Stephen King discusses the opening sentences of books … ‘When I’m starting a book, I compose in bed before I go to sleep. I will lie there in the dark and think. I’ll try to write a paragraph. An opening paragraph. And over a period of weeks and months and even years, I’ll word and reword it until I’m happy with what I’ve got. If I can get that first paragraph right, I’ll know I can do the book. Because of this, I think, my first sentences stick with me. They were a doorway I went through.’
August 15, 2013
August 14, 2013
[space] 13 Little Things NASA Did to Get Alan Shepard Ready for Space
… ‘Even the flight surgeon had a little bit of a man crush on the astronauts: “The physiological bradycardia (pulse rate 60 to 70) and normotensive (blood pressure 110/70) state both give some indication of the calm reserved air of confidence which typifies both of these pilots.” I bet they smelled good, too.’
August 13, 2013
[life] 27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand
… ‘That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.’
August 12, 2013
[drugs] Breaking Bad: Why doesn’t the UK have a crystal meth problem?
… ‘One of the reasons for its unpopularity may be that British drug users have plenty of other stimulants available to them. “The UK is a relatively small drug market overall and it’s a market that has been well served,” says [Harry] Shapiro.’
August 9, 2013
[books] Stephen King’s Family Business
… a warm profile of Stephen King and his family … ‘At times in his life, [Joe] Hill actually contemplated hiring an actor to do readings of his work, to conceal that unmistakable resemblance to his father. By the time “Heart-Shaped Box” was published and he had forged ahead with some readings, his alias had been blown. In the end, in light of the book’s success, that did not seem to matter; now he’s comfortable writing in a genre his father dominates. “Sometimes I think the kid who’s like, ‘I’m never going to be like my dad in any way whatsoever,’ is less his own person,” he said.’