Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gimmie a G!

I work at a newspaper, and one of the perks is that I get a free copy to take home each week. Since I'm a copy editor and proofread almost everything in it before publication, I often only take the free copy for the syndicated crossword puzzle. The following, preserved for posterity, is a conversation I just had with my girlfriend:

Me: Okay, the theme is "2011 in Review" and 19 across is "deposed despot." It's going to be Ghaddafi. How the hell do you spell that?

Her: Well, the first letter is a G or a Q.

Me: Unless it's a K.

Her: ...Right. Well, the second letter is definitely an A.

Me: Unless it's an H.

Her: Shoot, right. I thought I had that one. The last letter is definitely an I.

Me: ...Yeah, I think they all end in I.

Her: How do you think he spelled it?

Me: In Arabic.

[They spelled it "Gaddafi."]

Me: 25 down is "site of nuclear disaster." I don't think they can fit "Fukushima Daiichi" in there, so let's see what they did.

[Glances at word slot, which already has first two letters filled in.]

Me: It's "Japan." MOTHER FUCKER.

In summary, I know that my generation has a reputation for bad memory and worse decorum, but I want the future to recognize that this started generations earlier with the crossword people.

Also, Moammar Ghaddafi should be played at some point by Mickey Rourke. You can't spell "Moammar Ghaddafi" without "Mickey Rourke" if you try hard enough.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Unto Disorder, 2012

Fuck it, let's review 2011.

Today, Time Magazine chose its person of the year, and for the fifth time in a decade they chose a group rather than an individual. In 2002, they chose "The Whistleblowers", followed in 2003 by "the American soldier," "the Good Samaritans" in 2005 and "You" in 2006. In many ways, "the Protester," the 2011 choice, feels like a distillation of all four and the consummation of the one thing relating all of them: the need to step forward.

I went to an Occupy rally. The organizers kicked things off by having us sing, except they made nowhere near enough copies of the song and it was nothing I was familiar. The halting, miserable progression of the tune suggested that nobody else was either. Then we marched and shouted that we were the 99 percent. I don't even know what we were protesting, except that I was mad that this was what America looked like and this felt like a good venue for complaint. I think everyone else there felt the same way.

Osama bin Laden was killed a few months before the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and when the day came I reflected on the last decade and stuck with my feeling, formed in 2006, that that was the day America went wrong. In our efforts to fight terror we destroyed what it meant to be American. I might still have been an Occupy participant in the fall if 9/11 hadn't happened, but at least I wouldn't have to feel like the government was looking at all air travelers through their clothes because they didn't know what else to do. It's a long, sad road from missing your intel about upcoming threats to full-body image scanners.

The world that unfolded from September 11, 2001 onward in this country was defined by the US and not by the agents of terror who set the ball rolling. It wasn't 9/11 that brought our country to its knees - and we are on our knees - but our reaction. People die from bee stings not because of the venom but because of the immune system's response. It's called anaphylaxis.

Doomsaying is always going to be trendy, because you get to be the guy who knows something nobody else does. That said, I want to clarify a distinction between that and this, because I can point to definitive indices of trouble and malaise. Food and energy costs are up. Income is down. Everything old people hate about young people is becoming a little more pronounced. It's hard to point to specifics because the general trend, macro and microscopically, is that of entropy - order to disorder.

Oh, but Zack Parsons at Something Awful did a pretty good job of summing things up, probably by limiting his focus to car commercials.

Referring back to the Protester: where do I stand in that? Is the Occupy movement simply another kind of anaphylaxis? It's different than 9/11 because the catalyst is harder to define, but on the other hand it's equally hard to read definite meaning into a protest held by people who had the chance to have us sing "This Land Is Your Land" and blew it. They didn't know me a lot better than an investment banker would, honestly.

Does a societal convulsion represent the progress of order or disorder? In itself, it is both - united rebellion manifest as disruption - but in resolution it can be either, depending on how things work out. Tunisia, where things all started a year ago, has since had free elections remarkable for their order. Egypt, which also shed a regime, has since undergone a second intrarevolutionary revolution against the military, which took placeholder power after the ouster of Mubarak.

What you put in is related to what you get out, but only by alchemy. Everything is in flux. This trend is only growing stronger. Shit.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This Is Only a Test

Video here. I just want you to know we haven't given up on the blog just yet; in fact, I have two half-finished articles in the holding pen that I am simply too damn tired to finish right now. However, I would like to take this opportunity to ask: Does anybody who reads this have a blog? If so, how do we get out of the chicken-and-egg problem of readership. You need content to get readers, but it's hard to create content when you don't know who, if anybody, is out there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Slight Fuss with Drawing Books

Kuurion here. So, some of you may know I'm in school now. I'll be starting a new class in less than a week, and just got one of my new class books in the mail. It's a specialized "Character Design" cartooning book. I spent about an hour this morning reading through it and flipping through all 30 pages of it, and I don't know if I'm just too opinionated or what, but I really find myself disliking the approach.

A little clarification might be needed. I already know know a good many points on how to draw. I'm not worried about my own abilities or even the style the books takes; I'm sure I can pick a few pointers out of it, especially if I pursue a certain style change I've been thinking about trying. My beef is with the approach of the school in sending this textbook to people who may have never drawn before. The class is a class specifically on character design, and the book gives generally good ideas, but it's already specialized, which is a no-no as I learned it.

One of the tips I picked up when I was just beginning to develop my own talent was to avoid this type of book for a good long while. Anything that teaches you from square 1 how to draw with already-exaggerated body types, facial expressions, etc (anime books in particular are bad offenders) is skipping a crucial step in understanding the REAL forms that you are imitating. So I dropped money for a hobby on books about proper anatomy for the artist, proper perspectives, facial expressions focusing on the muscles underneath the flesh and how they work to form faces we recognize. Short works like this book may have their place for young people just drawing for some fun, or for specialized training in certain styles, but (in my opinion) not as a starting point for artists developing their talents for future careers.

The way I've seen it is that you need to know what something real looks like, and then deform your shapes off of THAT. This gives you a strong base that you can always come back to, and then perhaps work in a completely different direction from. But who knows, perhaps I'm just too stubborn about it. Now that I've grown accustomed to my own style of pseudo-realistic proportions, I have trouble drawing something more deformed. It never looks "right" to me, and fighting with perfectionism as I already do, I can't be happy with it. On the flipside AGAIN, that could just be me fighting with perfectionism, and not the greater host of bodies in the art world.

Long story short, I hope I'm more wrong about this assumption than I am right. Cause if I'm right, there's a whole class of potential artists being trained the wrong way before being sent off into the rightfully terrifying world of searching for work as an artist. If I'm wrong, then I'm just inflexible and it's my problem. The latter only affects me, and I can, to an extent, remedy. The former, not so much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Feed Corrected!

Kuurion here. My coding skills have prevailed, and the blog feed you're probably reading these words on is now placed correctly. Thus, I've placed it on the index page as well! Enjoy our mindless ramblings!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Babelfish Presents: The Raven

My girlfriend came up with this one. Take a piece of well-known literature, use Yahoo's (formerly Alta Vista's) Babelfish engine to translate it to traditional Chinese, and feed the result back into it and make it English again. The result will bend your brain.

Now: Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven". I did what I could to format it.

One time is dreary in the midnight, but I considered, weak and is deficient bothersomely,
in the knowledge which forgot many classically elegant and the curious capacity,
when I nodded, takes a nap nearly, there came to pat suddenly,
rapped gently from somebody, rapped in mine room gate.
" ' Tis certain visitors, " I mumbled, " Pats in mine room gate;
Only this and not any more."

, I remembered clearly that it is in bleak in December,
and each separated death's coal cinders process its ghost in the floor.
I wish the next day earnestly; I am proud seek borrow
from am sorrowful I book surcease, loses Lenore sorrow.
Regarding says name angel Lenore rare and light shining in all directions unmarried,
nameless here forever.

And the fibroin sad does not decide rustle makes a sound each purple curtain
to be excited I---The intention could not think the terror filled me before had not felt;
Therefore now, still my heart whipped, I have stood repeatedly,
" ' Tis entrance which pleads in mine room gate's some visitors,
pleads the entrance in mine room gate's some deceased visitors.
This it is and not any more."

At present my soul grows is stronger; Hesitation then no longer,
" " Gentleman; Said I, " Or forgives madame, I implore really you;
But the fact is, I take a nap, and you have come the rap that gently,
and you came to pat that weakly, patted in mine room gate,
deficient I affirmed that I have heard you." I extend hit opened the door;
--- Dark there and anything have not been more.

Deep nightfall dark staring, was long I to stand there, wanted to know, the frightened suspicion,
had a dream does not make the humanity to dare before had a dream;
But silent is complete, and static has not given the symbol,
and the there speech's only word is the whisper word,
Lenore? My whisper this, and echo private word,
" Lenore! " Merely this and anything have not been more.

Returns to room which rotates, possesses my soul fever in me,
I very quick heard to pat loudly again, before something compared,
" Definitely, " Said I, " Definitely, that is something in mine window check.
Let me look, then, anything in there is and this mystery exploration.
Let my heart was still the moment, and this mystery exploration.
" ' Tis wind and not any more."

Opened here me to throw the shutter, with many flirted person resonance oscillation wing,
in there stride dignified plundering, holy day in the past.
Does is not least salutes he; Was not one minute stopped or paused him;
But with mien your excellency or madame, perches above mine room gate.
Perches in the Pallas bust, above my room gate,
perches with sits with nothing.

Then cheats my sad fancy this ebony bird to enter the smile,
serious and severe was appropriate it by the support to wear,
" Though the thy crown is the trim and you who blows, " I said that " Definitely art not timid,
ghastly and fearful, grim and ancient plundering, strolls from each night of shore.
Tells me any arrogant name is in Night' s becomes deeply shore."
Quoth plundering, " Nevermore."

My surprised this ugly domestic animal hears the lecture that simply,
although its answer little meaning, little relevant disturbance;
Regarding us cannot be out of control to agree that has not survived the human
to bless with seeing in above his room gate bird,
in is carved bust's bird or the wild animal above his room gate,
such name look like " Nevermore."

But plunders, sits that serene bust remotely, only spoke that word,
probably he that word soul which pours out in him. More further any he then had not said;
Was not the feather he however the after vibration wing;
Mumbles deficient until I more ratios, " Other friends before flies;
Next day he will leave behind me, my hope flew before."
Then the bird said that " Nevermore."

The shock breaks in the reply static that easy to speak,
" Without doubt, " Said I, " Any it says is its only stock and the store,
seizes from some not joyful master, not the mercy disaster
fast followed and follows fast, his song burden disturbance,
--- Disturbs " until his hope elegy melancholy burden;

But still cheated possesses my sad soul the plundering into smile,
I rotate directly in front of bird's by the cushion seat and the bust and the gate;
Then, in the submersion, I betook to the connection velvet fancy fancy,
thought anything in the past this only unlucky bird--
Anything this was only in the past grim, ugly, ghastly and fearful, thin and the unlucky bird meant that in
" which quack quack calls; Nevermore."

Therefore I have sat the participation guess,
but does not have the syllable expression to the domestic animal,
the fiery eye burns into my bosom' now; s core;
This and were more I to sit has divined, head relaxed leaned against comfortablely with me in cushion' the s velvet lining light gazes at o'
Not, but light gaze's o' Velvet violet lining;
Not she according to, definitely no longer!

Then, methought, the air grows is more crowded, fills the incense burner swing
which the fragrance never sees by the sound of footsteps to install ying
on the ball floor to send dingdong the sound six wing angel.
" Unfortunate person, " I sob, " thy God hath has borrowed thee -- He hath
has delivered the thee respite by these angels---From Lenore thy memory respite with nepenthe!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, with forgot this loses Lenore! "
Quoth plundering, " Definitely no longer! "

" Prophet! " Said I, " Evil matter! --Prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether the tempter is delivered, or whether ashore here is played tricks on the storm thee,
causes bleak, all brave, in this desert land which confuses-- In puzzled by terror this family--
Tells me really, I implore: Has--Has in the Gilead balsam?
--Tells me--Tells me who I implore! "
Quoth plundering, " Nevermore."
" Prophet! " Said I, " Evil matter --Prophet still, if bird or devil!
By above us curving that heaven--Both of us worship by that God--
Tells fills the sorrowful this soul which loads, if, in remote Aidenn,
it will fasten tightly into the sage unmarried, says name angel Lenore---
Fastens tightly rare and light shining in all directions unmarried, says name angel Lenore?
Quoth plundering, " Nevermore."

" Is that word our division, the bird or the devil symbol! " I screamed, upstarting--
" Obtains thee to return to the storm and Night' s becomes deeply shore!
Leaves does not have the black feather to take that symbol rumor thy the soul hath speech!
Leaves me lonely complete! -- Gives up in above mine gate bust!
Brings thy to exit from mine heart's beak, and adopts thy from mine gate form! "
Quoth plundering, " Nevermore."

And plunders, never passed over gently and swiftly, still sat, still sat,
in Pallas not is angry above bust my room gate;
And his eye has all as if demon' Has a dream s.
And light o' He does not emit throws him on floor's shadow;
And I from will lie the float to lift on floor's that shadow soul---
Definitely no longer!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Optical Illusions for People Who Hate Optical Illusions

Can you solve these fiendishly hard puzzles?


1. Circle B, genius.
2. There is no sheep.
3. Curved (except the one in the middle)

I've always wanted to do this. It's not that I dislike optical illusions, but they always start off pretentiously by asking a leading question. If you're looking at something that says "Optical Illusion" at the top and it's showing you a picture of a yellow circle surrounded by small black circles next to a picture of a yellow circle surrounded by large black circles, then the yellow circle is going to be the same size in both images.

The odd thing here is that, in the process of whipping this up, I accidentally generated a real optical illusion. The blue lines become lighter where they overlap on the black, something I don't think I've ever seen done before (though the grid of black squares and white lines takes advantage of the same brain malfunction). Has anyone else seen this or did I accidentally come up with something genuinely new in the act of making fun of that very thing?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our World: The Bloggening

Hey, it's Captain Video. You probably know me as the writing half of Our World, which has been around for ten gripping months, several of them in color. Ah, but you can't have everything.

Because I have more free time than Kuurion (drawing a comic is takes longer than writing a script does) so I'll be the primary contributor here. It'll give me an outlet to review stuff and share my thoughts and personal anecdotes, like living in Florida and doing my banking there in a strip mall behind another strip mall that had a Little Caesar's and a check cashing place in it. Good times.

This is something like my seventh blog, so I'm used to non-existent readership, but I'm going to try to make this work, and if anyone IS reading I'd love to hear any suggestions you have for me here, or any thoughts you have on the comic. It's good to hear feedback.