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Current Topic: Arts

Robin writes a book (and you get a copy) — Kickstarter
Topic: Arts 8:41 pm EDT, Aug 30, 2009

Hello family, friends, Snarkmarket readers, Twitter pals, and internet gremlins!

I'm writing a book: a detective story set halfway between San Francisco and the internet. And the more people who reserve a copy, the better each one will be!

The basic setup is: Imagine a Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century. All the really good cases are on the internet. And Holmes is a woman, and Watson is an A.I., and San Francisco... oh, poor San Francisco...

To get a feel for the style and setting, check out a short story I published recently, Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store. Basically, if you enjoy it, and think "hmm, yes, I'd read more like this," this project is the way to make it happen.

Robin Sloan wrote an amazing story about Big Data Analytics called Mister Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore:

It is truly great. He is writing a book to continue to explore this line of narrative. You should buy a copy. I did. You are pre-funding the development of the book in doing so. Really cool.

Robin writes a book (and you get a copy) — Kickstarter

Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store (
Topic: Arts 11:53 pm EDT, Aug  6, 2009


I’m sitting in a book store next to a strip club.

Not that kind of book store. The inventory here is incredibly old and impossibly rare. And it has a secret—a secret that I might have just discovered.

I am alone in the store. And then, tap-tap, suddenly I’m not.

And now I’m pretty sure I’m about to snap my laptop shut, run screaming out the front door, and never return.

If you read any literature this year, read this story. A gold star. Five gold stars. A gold bar. This thing is amazing.

Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store (

Kanye West "Can't Tell Me Nothing" video (Zach Galifianakis version)
Topic: Arts 8:57 pm EDT, Apr  8, 2009

got a one line email from Zach that said, "this sounds like a joke but it is true. Kayne West wants me to lip sync his new video. can you fly to nc to shoot it? " There was very little discussion in advance other than that. Hiring the cloggers was Zach's idea, and Inman was able to track them down. For all the ridiculousness you see here, I have to say we took the song very seriously. We asked ourselves, "What if two farmers from North Carolina set out to make their own Kanye West music video...and succeeded?" Special thanks to singer/actor Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) for his inspired turn as the inbred cousin. This was my first real use of slow motion lip syncing, which is a common trope in music videos, but reliably neat. Special thanks to the rowdy group of 12 year olds hanging out in front of the library in downtown Sparta who started yelling "Whacha filming NERD!" while I was all alone with the production gear.

I can't tell you how much I relate to this. I NEED a blue 60s Ford tractor and more land.

Kanye West "Can't Tell Me Nothing" video (Zach Galifianakis version)

How to Procrastinate Like Leonardo da Vinci
Topic: Arts 6:58 pm EST, Feb 26, 2009

Nowadays, Leonardo might have been hired by a top research university, but it seems likely that he would have been denied tenure. He had lots of notes but relatively little to put in his portfolio.

Leonardo was the kind of person we have come to call a "genius." But he had trouble focusing for long periods on a single project. After he solved its conceptual problems, Leonardo lost interest until someone forced his hand. Even then, Leonardo often became a perfectionist about details that no one else could see, and the job just didn't get done.


Of course, the therapeutic interpretation of Leonardo — and, perhaps, of many of us in academe who emulate his pattern of seemingly nonproductive creativity — has a long history. Leonardo's reputation spread at exactly the right time for someone to become a symbol of this newly invented moral and psychological disorder: procrastination, a word that sounds just a little too much like what Victorian moralists used to call "self-abuse."

The unambiguously negative idea of procrastination seems unique to the Western world; that is, to Europeans and the places they have colonized in the last 500 years or so. It is a reflection of several historical processes in the years after the discovery of the New World: the Protestant Reformation, the spread of capitalist economics, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of the middle classes, and the growth of the nation-state. As any etymologist will tell you, words are battlegrounds for contending historical processes, and dictionaries are among the best chronicles of those struggles.


If Leonardo seemed endlessly distracted by his notebooks and experiments — instead of finishing the details of a painting he had already conceptualized — it was because he understood the fleeting quality of imagination: If you do not get an insight down on paper, and possibly develop it while your excitement lasts, then you are squandering the rarest and most unpredictable of your human capabilities, the very moments when one seems touched by the hand of God.


Leonardo's studies of how light strikes a sphere, for example, enable the continuous modeling of the "Mona Lisa" and "St. John the Baptist." His work in optics might have delayed a project, but his final achievements in painting depended on the experiments — physical and intellectual — that he documented in the notebooks. Far from being a distraction — like many of his contemporaries thought — they represent a lifetime of productive brainstorming, a private working out of the ideas on which his more public work depended. To criticize this work is to believe that what we call genius somehow emerges from the mind fully formed — like Athena from the head of Zeus — without considerable advance preparation. Vasari's quotation of Pope Leo X has rung down through the centuries as a classic indictment of Leonardo's procrastinatory behavior: "Alas! This ma... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

How to Procrastinate Like Leonardo da Vinci

'Dilbert' creator recovers from rare disorder - More health news-
Topic: Arts 11:22 am EST, Feb 12, 2009

Then, Adams lost his voice in early 2005 after a bout of bronchitis and laryngitis. He withdrew; the thought of going to the grocery store without saying “hi” or “thank you” was depressing. Being unable to scream “fire!” or “watch out!” terrified him.

His only comfort was that he could sing and recite poetry with only minimal gasping and stammering. He recited nursery rhymes every night in hopes of “re-mapping” his brain.

Last weekend, Adams was chanting “Jack Be Nimble” for the umpteenth time when it dawned on him: He wasn’t having a stitch of difficulty.

'Dilbert' creator recovers from rare disorder - More health news-

John Francis walks the Earth | Video on
Topic: Arts 1:35 pm EST, Jan 30, 2009

For almost three decades, John Francis has been a planetwalker, traveling the globe by foot and sail with a message of environmental respect and responsibility (for 17 of those years without speaking). A funny, thoughtful talk with occasional banjo.

Compelling talk.

John Francis walks the Earth | Video on

Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit
Topic: Arts 12:30 pm EST, Jan 11, 2009

About the trailer: the voices belong to Jonathan Ive, Andrew Blauvelt, Marc Newson, and Karim Rashid. The song is “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool” by our friends El Ten Eleven, from their new record These Promises Are Being Videotaped [get it on iTunes]. And the font used in the trailer is… Akzidenz Grotesk! [Shout out to Paula Scher!]

We’ll be releasing the preliminary screening schedule soon, so subscribe to our newsletter or our RSS feed and we’ll keep you posted.

Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit

I want to be spanked but remain a virgin, a Since You Asked column by Cary Tennis | Salon Life
Topic: Arts 10:35 pm EST, Jan  9, 2009

Dear Pragmatic but Frustrated,

The image comes to mind of a beautiful woman carrying a bottle of nitroglycerin through the streets of Pamplona during the running of the bulls.

She likes being there. She likes how it feels. She finds it interesting and it excites her. But she does not want to participate. She just likes being there. She does not want to spill the nitroglycerin; she does not want to cause an explosion; yet she is on the streets of Pamplona during the running of the bulls. It may be her opinion that the running of the bulls is pointless and absurd. Yet she is carrying a bottle of nitroglycerin through the streets of Pamplona during the running of the bulls.

Here is something about young men. They will almost always be stronger than you. But each young man begins as a powerless child. The elder males lift him up and say, Look how strong he is! Make a fist! they say. Look! Throw a punch! they say. Flex those biceps! The young boy flexes his tiny biceps and poses. They applaud him, but he is not strong. He is just a boy. He has no power.

He would like to be strong. He reads about the Incredible Hulk and dreams of being able to roar in anger and transform himself into a giant muscled man that adults fear and run from. He dreams of this.

He reaches his teens. One day an elder grabs his wrist and holds it and he breaks the grip! He sees surprise and fear in the eyes of the elder. He realizes he has physical power.

This changes everything.

I want to be spanked but remain a virgin, a Since You Asked column by Cary Tennis | Salon Life

YouTube - Interview with George Tice of Toulouse
Topic: Arts 3:19 pm EST, Jan  5, 2009

George Tice on Toulouse.

YouTube - Interview with George Tice of Toulouse

SPORE Penis creature - Video - YouTube
Topic: Arts 9:29 pm EST, Dec 10, 2008

Spore's Intelligent Design Leads to Plethora of Phallic Speciesnullnull

SPORE Penis creature - Video - YouTube

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