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Current Topic: Arts

RE: War Of The Worlds eComic
Topic: Arts 11:49 am EDT, Jun 21, 2005

Decius wrote:
If you like comics you'll probably enjoy this WotW serial. Darkhorse is posting new pages weekly...

This is obviously a marketing tie-in with the upcoming movie version, but it does lend some sort of hope that companies like Dark Horse will find a way to make a viable business model out of offering content online. As a collector, I value the printed material. I have a book case filled out with pretty, leatherbound editions of graphic novels. While I don't want to see my precious bound materials to disappear, I also don't want the publishers of such a rich medium to disappear, either. The costs to publish and distribute comics keeps going up and the readership is going down. Web publishing is an obvious step for the next generation in graphic novels and while there are many successful online comics, I don't know of any that have made the actual transition, or that have tried both online and printed versions of the same material. I can only hope.

RE: War Of The Worlds eComic

Fiction: Start the Clock, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
Topic: Arts 10:48 am EST, Jan 19, 2005

] In the stairway, I said, "You couldn't just watch a porn
] channel?"
] "It's not the same," she said. "That's all packaged and
] commercial. I wanted to interview them before and after.
] I have to know -- what it's like."
] "Why?"
] She paused on the stairs, and I stopped too. The
] muscleboys, muttering, went out onto the street, and we
] were alone in the flashing green and red light.
] "Suze, I'm going to start the clock."
] Like she'd poured a bucket of ice water down my spine.
] "You're what?"
] "I'm going to take the treatments." She spoke quickly, as
] if afraid I'd interrupt her. "They've gotten much better
] in the past couple of years, there are basically no side
] effects. They're even making headway with infants. In
] five years, it looks like most babies won't have any
] arrestation effects at all, and -- "
] Tears had sprung to my eyes. "What are you talking
] about?" I cried. "Why are you talking like them? Why are
] you talking like being like us is something to be cured?"
] I punched the wall, which hurt my hand. I sat down on the
] step and cried.
] "Suze," Abby said. She sat down next to me and put her
] hand on my shoulder. "I love being like us -- but I want
] --"
] "That?" I shouted, pointing up to the top of the stairs,
] where they were grunting again. "That's what you want?
] You'd rather have that than us?"
] "I want everything, Suze. I want every stage of life --"
] "Oh, every stupid stage, as designed by stupid God, who
] also gave us death and cancer, and --"
] She grabbed my shoulders. "Suze, listen. I want to know
] what that up there is like. Maybe I won't like it, and
] then I won't do it. But Suze, I want to have babies."

A neat new short story of Sci-Fi released under the Creative Commons license.

Fiction: Start the Clock, by Benjamin Rosenbaum

Activists Dominate Content Complaints
Topic: Arts 10:05 am EST, Dec  7, 2004

] Through early October, 99.9 percent of indecency
] complaints --- aside from those concerning the Janet
] Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super
] Bowl halftime show broadcast on CBS --- were brought by
] the PTC, according to the FCC analysis dated Oct. 1. (The
] agency last week estimated it had received 1,068,767
] complaints about broadcast indecency so far this year;
] the Super Bowl broadcast accounted for over 540,000,
] according to commissioners%u2019 statements.)
] The prominent role played by the PTC has raised concerns
] among critics of the FCC's crackdown on indecency.
] %u201CIt means that really a tiny minority with a very
] focused political agenda is trying to censor American
] television and radio,%u201D said Jonathan Rintels,
] president and executive director of the Center for
] Creative Voices in Media, an artists' advocacy
] group.
] PTC officials disagree.
] "I wish we had that much power," said Lara
] Mahaney

Activists Dominate Content Complaints

Brasco the Jewish Militant Coloring Book
Topic: Arts 9:52 am EST, Nov 24, 2004

Remember, kids, the police don't have to call when you dial 9-1-1 and parents who love their children want to protect them with their own arsenal of weapons.

Of course, the coloring book is just one wonderful aspect of the Jews for the Preservations of Firearms Organization.

Brasco the Jewish Militant Coloring Book

Alan Moore | The man who invented the future
Topic: Arts 11:45 am EDT, Jul 22, 2004

Alan Moore, who helped to transform the comic book into modern literature, has an interview on If there was ever a paranoid schizophrenic author that got it right, he'd be as close to the mark as any. I definitely suggest reading the whole interview.

] The funny thing is that Alan Moore hates to talk about
] film and television, because, as he explains later in our
] interview, both "have a lot to answer for." He's not
] talking about how they've distilled his densely
] researched, intricate tales of socio-historical
] interrogation, like "From Hell" and "The League of
] Extraordinary Gentlemen," into narrowcasted popcorn
] movies. Instead, he means the way they've had such an
] impact on human consciousness that many people were only
] able to articulate the horrific reality of 9/11 by
] comparing it to a disaster film.
] Moore clearly believes that the same mechanism has
] foisted a deadly, unwanted and unnecessary war upon the
] world. "Television and movies have short-circuited
] reality," he asserts. "I don't think a lot of people are
] entirely clear on what is real and what is on the
] screen."
] Moore, now 50, has a peculiar perspective on this problem
] of "misrecognition" between fiction and reality --
] because so many of his works have seemingly anticipated
] or prefigured so much of what has come to pass. "V for
] Vendetta," Moore's dystopian early-1980s narrative about
] a future fascist Britain under siege by a notorious
] terrorist who was subjected to unbearable torture, echoes
] much of our current dilemma in the so-called war on
] terrorism, all the way down to the criminalization of
] homosexuality, the panoptic PATRIOT Act-like surveillance
] state and a homogeneous media that glosses over real news
] in favor of sensationalism.

Alan Moore | The man who invented the future

The enchanter
Topic: Arts 9:42 pm EDT, Sep 24, 2003

] Gaiman sees himself as part of the age-old profession of
] storytellers, but unlike a lot of the tiresome people who
] go around referring to themselves that way, he's right.
] His fiction, in its various media (he also writes screen-
] and radio plays), induces that blissful, semi-hypnotic
] state most of us first experienced as children, when the
] power of a book seemed to erase the world around us, and
] when reading felt almost like a drug. Gaiman is
] interested in all the traditional forms of storytelling
] -- legends, folk and fairy tales, myth -- and not just in
] the stories themselves, but the ways they get told. Not
] surprisingly, the hero of the Sandman epic is Morpheus,
] the King of Dreams, who also presides over stories.
] Gaiman certainly wasn't the first comics writer to draw
] on ancient myths, but he could be the first to really
] understand how myths work, not just as motifs but as
] nodes of meaning that gain new layers as we attach new
] experiences to old stories. For example, the Egyptian god
] Osiris, the Norse god Balder, Jesus and John F. Kennedy
] are all very different figures and yet -- in some
] fundamental way having to do with how we understand them
] -- also the same. As the British writer C.S. Lewis (a
] major influence on Gaiman) pointed out, a myth is a story
] that can be told and retold in very different ways and
] yet remain essentially intact. There is no original or
] correct version of the Orpheus myth, just countless ways
] of revealing it, and even people who haven't heard the
] traditional Greek version recognize it as something
] powerful when they meet it in another form.

Anything dealing with Neil Gaiman is worth reading. Salon takes a crack at trying to explain the mass appeal of Neil, despite the fact that he continues to go back to the medium of comic books. I have been an avid fan of his since 1988 when The Sandman began and am constantly trying to introduce his works to more and more people.

The enchanter

Bugged out
Topic: Arts 11:21 pm EDT, May 16, 2003

Wow, I'd never heard of Ellen Ullman before, but after reading her interview at Salon, I think I may have to check her books out.

When C.P. Snow first identified the rift between "two cultures" of scientists and literary intellectuals who could neither understand nor communicate with each other, it was 1959, and computing was in its infancy. Today, in many fields, the denizens of Snow's two cultures are reaching across the gap. But computer programming remains a vast unknown country to most outsiders -- even as more and more of our work and our culture stands on its foundation.

Ellen Ullman has lived in that country, and ever since the 1997 publication of her memoir, "Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents," she has meticulously and articulately chronicled its customs and dangers. An English major turned programmer turned writer, she has a knack for talking about the experience of writing code -- "thought that works," as one of her characters puts it -- in ways that nonprogrammers can understand. She does so without glorifying the creators of software, as scribes of the Internet boom would; but she doesn't trivialize their work or their lives, either. She does full justice to the highs and lows of the programming life -- as both an unnatural punishment for the human organism and an invigorating challenge to the human brain.

She then goes on to talk about the process of writing her latest book, "The Bug", at a writer's colony. She doesn't feel that it's ok to write about what code would do; she has to write the code itself...

It's not only obligation. When I wrote the code samples that are in "The Bug." I sat and then I thought, well, what would these connect to? And there I was, sitting at the MacDowell Colony, ostensibly writing the novel, and whole days would go by when I was just writing code. I actually had a little compiler on my laptop. Finally I thought, this is really a bad idea -- code really eats up your time. I thought, I'll never write a novel if I set something where I actually could write the companion code. So I thought it would be better to set it in a time with an old version of the C language -- a whole technical environment that had come and gone.

These days so much of coding involves using packages or other layers of code that have already been written. At that time, in the mid-'80s, you really did have to write everything yourself. There were some things we slurped in, minimal stuff, the usual packages available on Unix, like termcap or terminfo. But the rest of it, you had to write it all yourself, there wasn't Motif, there wasn't Windows; if you wanted a windowing system, you had to start by figuring out, how do you interact with all these devices? And how do you abstract all the devices? None of that existed at the time, so I thought it would be good to remember that.

Yep. Gotta make a trip to Barnes and Noble tomorrow.

Bugged out

Not your mother's comic book
Topic: Arts 10:51 am EST, Mar 15, 2003

Salon interviews Phoebe Gloeckner, writer and artist of a graphic novel series based loosely upon her own life. She has some very interesting views on the catharsis of creating art and how it affects not only the viewer, but the creator as well. The interview itself is a very good read, even if you never pick up a copy of the "Dairy of a Teenage Girl" series.

"OK," she says, taking a deep breath. "I believe that all art is about the artist," she says. "So, yeah, my work is about me. But being an artist -- art is artifice, it's creation. By reading that book, you're not experiencing what I experienced. You're perhaps experiencing my interpretation of it, but you're bringing yourself to it. In that way, I always hesitate to say this is a true story. I'm not attempting in any way to make documentary. You can never represent everything. It's always a selective process.

"I mean, really, my motivation is, 'This all happened to me. I feel really totally fucked-up. I don't understand any of this. Let's look at it. Let's not look at it sideways or make it look prettier, but let's just look at it for what it is.' I think the reason people relate to it is because I don't avoid things that may seem unpleasant. I don't really judge things ... I just look at them."

Not your mother's comic book

Can Farscape Fans Reinvent TV?
Topic: Arts 11:28 pm EST, Mar 12, 2003

By focusing on the ratings, 'Scapers are playing by the rules of the television industry. The problem is, no one knows whether those rules even apply anymore. There is a growing sense in the broadcasting industry that the governing business model is dysfunctional. Most media executives agree that scripted television programs (i.e., sitcoms and dramas) are too expensive to produce and don't guarantee audiences large enough to justify higher advertising rates and cover costs. To make matters worse, media companies rely on data collected by an outmoded and flawed ratings system, which remains heavily reliant on the paper "viewing diaries" collected by Nielsen.

Acknowledging the industry dissatisfaction with its system, Nielsen recently introduced its "People Meter," a semi-Orwellian set-top device that monitors who is in the room and what they're watching on TV. About 5,000 families currently coexist with a People Meter, and the "overnight ratings" Nielsen accumulates from them have become crucial figures that can make TV careers, or end them.

Even if ratings were collected with absolute accuracy, it might not be enough for an industry that prefers to chase after elusive demographic segments instead of cultivating advertisers eager to reach the audience that's already watching. In "Farscape's" case, Sci Fi wanted the show to perform better with boys. But the show has already attracted a broad audience, including large numbers of women attracted to the show's strong female characters, feminist storylines, and the sexual tension between human John Crichton and his alien flame, Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black).

The Neilsen system is not only outdated, it is rejected by anyone with a sense of self worth. As one who has been targeted as a Neilsen household, I know just what their approach is. You get a diary in which you're supposed to keep track of every show that you watch. That's fine, I suppose I can handle that. But wait, they add an insult to it. There's a $1 bill in the envelope and a letter that says, "If you were honest about what you put in the diary, please keep this dollar. If not, please return it with the diary." That's got to be the biggest load of crap I've ever read, yet it was there in black and white in front of me. Granted, it may be more than $1 (I participated in the mid 90s, though, so it's not *too* long ago) today but I doubt by much.

Using 5,000 households to track the viewing habits of 200 million people is just patently wrong. Like the article states, you then have to hope that those 5,000 people have more than a basic cable subscription and can get the SciFi Channel!

One of the current 'Scaper tactics that was overlooked in this article is in patronizing the advertisers. There are web sites that list who advertised each week and fans are encouraged to let them know how much the corporate support is appreciated. I'm sure that has to make some level of impact, but probably not until the series is already gone.


Can Farscape Fans Reinvent TV?

Nodal point
Topic: Arts 4:15 pm EST, Feb 13, 2003

William Gibson talks about how his new present-day novel, "Pattern Recognition," processes the apocalyptic mind-set of a post-9/11 world.


There is no connection between Cayce and Case; no meaningfulness. Gibson explains that as part of his novelist craft, he goes through a complicated artistic ritual in order to summon his characters out of the ether. In this ritual, coming up with the right name is the crucial first step. And the process by which he came up with Cayce, he declares, had nothing to do with Case. "Cayce" was its own "found object" -- much as the name Case, from "Neuromancer," was also a found object, inspired originally by Case pocketknives.

Nodal point

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