The webcomics blog about webcomics

Possibly A Sign Of The End Times

That is to say, it’s Tuesday, and Randall Munroe updated xkcd today. Not only that, but it’s an interactive strip, where you click and things happen — I think of these strips as toys — all of which is not because it’s the End Times, but because Munroe’s How To releases today, and said toy is an illustration of an approximation from the book.

Namely, and approximation of how far you can throw things. The astute reader will recognize that depending on the value of you and things, the answer is going to vary widely. To deal with this uncertainty, you (actual, physical you, not throwing you) get to decide on the thrower (George Washington, a squirrel, Carly Rae Jepsen, etc) and the thrown object (a microwave oven, a car, Thor’s hammer, etc). You (actual, physical you) also have to option to include you (throwing you) in the simulation, provided you fill in some basic physical parameters.

Because Munroe is Munroe, the results are shown in both meters, and some other, more useless unit of measure (ranging from attoparsecs to furlongs, depending on the object thrown and distance involved). I agree with some of Munroe’s assessments (eg: I could not throw George Washington, or a car) and vehemently disagree with others (only Thor, God Of Thunder can throw Thor’s hammer¹). It’ll keep even the most easily bored person occupied for a good half hour-forty five minutes as they mess with all the permutations. I shudder to think how many people will create similar toys based on other points of discussion in the book. And by shudder, I of course mean look forward to with great anticipation,


Spam of the day:

Breaking: Startup shocks the TV industry with free HD TV receiver

It’s called an antenna. A conductor, on the order of 0.1x to 10x the wavelength of a given signal, will naturally receive that signal. Put an appropriately-sized plug on one end, put the rest up high with clear sightlines, and you’ve got a receiver. It helps if you put your amplifier closer to the antenna, and not on the other end of signal cable, because you don’t want to amplify the noise that the cable picks up. There, I just saved you from whatever the scammers were going to ask for.

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¹ Anybody with a lick of sense knows that while Chris Hemsworth probably cannot throw Thor’s hammer, Carly Rae Jepsen² is surely worthy. Also, if the squirrel is an associate of Squirrel Girl, the worthiness is surely self-evident. Also, why is Thor able to chuck me (actual, physical me) a full 28 meters further than a microwave oven and nearly twice the distance of a basketball? Because I assure you, when I get flung in that manner, I will be flailing and increasing air resistance like a muthascratcher.

² Carly Rae Jepsen is modeled such that her throwing ability is somewhere between Extremely High and Champion Athlete.

First Looks

A bunch of forthcoming stuff has been announced, which I thought we ought to be familiar with. Let’s dig in, shall we?

  • Lucy Knisley does memoir like nobody else. I mean, her ability to capture the mood and tenor of a situation in her completely authentic voice is like an inward-focused Studs Terkel. We’ve seen her travel the world, eat, marry, and have a child, now we’re going to see what motherhood is like:

    Cover reveal! Check out the cover for my book, “Go To Sleep (I Miss You)”, which collects my sketches and comics from my days (and nights) of early parenthood. Out February! https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250211491 …
    #babies #newborns #breastfeeding #birth #comics #thelongestshortesttime

    Did I mention that she’s a comicking machine? It will be only one year since Kid Gloves released that we get Go To Sleep (I Miss You).

  • Last July, the world learned not only that there would be an original Steven Universe movie, but also that Becky Dreistadt would be the lead character designer. At the time she couldn’t say that the story took place after a time skip, but the poster reveal shows a clearly older, taller Steven¹ as well as a new villain. Entertainment Weekly has the first look.

    I’d ask Dreistadt about it next week in San Diego, but I know she’s gonna be under killer NDAs, so let’s just consider — this is a movie that’s already announced Patti Lupone (as Yellow Diamond) in the cast, so at least one Diamond is still on Earth and this new baddie has to be a credible threat to the team that took down the Diamond Authority. Citizens are urged to remain calm until the air date.

  • You know what we haven’t had in waaay too long? A collection of Scott C’s Great Showdowns. So you know what Scott C just teased over on The Gram? News of a new collection of Great Showdowns. Teased is the right term, too, since all we have is a title (Legend Of The Great Showdowns) and a super-vague release date (2020). You know what? I’ll take it.
  • In terms of scientific journals, you don’t get much more prestigious than Cell. It’s pretty much up there with Nature and Science, and within the family of Cell journals there is a new one, Matter, which is devoted to Materials Science². Volume 1, issue 1 has just released, and there appears to be a section for discussion of issues that are less hard-science-and-numbers in nature, things that scientists should keep in mind as they are Doing Science, but also dealing with people who are Not Scientists. This section is called Matter Of Opinion and the inaugural iteration is titled On The Sensory Analysis Of Matter And Materials.

    Very interesting, Gary, but what are you talking about this? What’s it got to do with webcomics? Excellent questions, Sparky. Because this first Matter Of Opinion features an illustration by Lucas Landherr and Monica Keszler, names that should be familiar if you recall Landherr’s contributions to STEM education via comics, Science The World. Landherr, one should recall, is one of the most highly regarded STEM educators in the US university system³, as well as the proprietor of Surviving The World, and Keszler formerly one of his Chemical Engineering students and also an animator. It hasn’t been said that Landherr and/or Keszler will continue to provide comics to the journal, but it hasn’t been said that they won’t, either.

  • And in the ultimate in first looks: HarperCollins announced today the formation of a new graphic novel imprint, HarperAlley, under the editorial directorship of Andrew Arnold (formerly an art director and acquisitions editor at :01 Books). The HarperCollins backlist (which includes Scott McCloud’s Comics trilogy and Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona) will be joined by about 30 books a year, starting Fall of 2020.

    That is an insanely close time. To release books in the Fall of next year, they need to already be pretty much done with the editorial process and well into the production cycle. Recall that when Gina Gagliano got headhunted by Random House in May of last year, the first books were set for 2020. Arnold is trying to do what Gagliano is doing in half the time. And the thing of it? With what he learned at :01, he’ll very likely succeed. :01 Books is looking as much an incubator of the next generation(s) of publishing leaders as it is an imprint.


Spam of the day:

Action requested: Regarding your subscription …

This claims to come from Sears. The only communication I want from Sears is a notification when Brandon Bird decides to do something Sears-related.

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¹ And hey, we saw Stevonnie shaving last season, so a puberty-affected Steven so it’s rational to expect some rapid changes from Steven.

² I prefer to read a second meaning into the title — these are things that matter.

³ Relevant part of his CV: American Institute Of Chemical Engineers 35 Under 35 Award, 2017; AIChE Award For Innovation in Chemical Engineering Education, 2018; American Society Of Engineering Education Northeast Section Outstanding Teacher Award, 2016; ASEE Chemical Engineering Division Ray W Fahien Award, 2019, Fostering Engineering Innovation In Education Award, 2017; Dr RH Sioui Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2015; Omega Chi Epsilon Faculty Member Of The Year Award, 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Holiday Eve, And Working On A Review

So this will perforce be on the shorter side.

  • Firstly, everybody in the States enjoy your day off, maybe take some time to consider what freedom in this country actually means, and if you’ve got fireworks in your future please be careful¹. If you wanted to watch fireworks with other comics folk, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Fancisco is hosting a viewing party.
  • Secondish, we’ll probably see a release of San Diego Comic Con programming tomorrow or Friday; I’ll be sure to bring that to you when it drops. In the meantime, may I remind you that the Will Eisner Spirit Of Comics Retailer Award nominations have been released? And that Pat Race and Aaron Suring, the generous gentlemen behind Alaska Robotics Gallery (and Juneau Mini-Con/Comics Camp, and more involvement in the arts scene of Juneau than can be recounted here) are nominees? Indeed, they’re the first nominees on the page! Okay, alphabetical order and all, but I like to think it’s also because they’re the best.
  • Thirdwise, if you ever wondered what I sound like, I was on a podcast with my excellent friend Jon Ferocious J Sung² and my new friend Besha. Come listen to me achieve Peak White Guy! And if you find the discussion that Besha and I had around unfortunate medical experiences, find me in person (preferably with booze to hand) and I’ll share the story that I didn’t tell, of the Most Unfortunate And Embarrassing Patient Packaging Challenge Of All Time. It’s a corker.

Okay, that’s it. Be well, friendos.


Spam of the day:

Request: dazhe if you are not interested predlozhenie please pereydite the link and there “Jump to the platform,” I’ll be very blagodaren is my bread

I’m not sure if the translator algorithm is flaky, or if the spammers can’t spell/use recognizable grammar in Russian as well as English.

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¹ I’m on EMS holiday duty tomorrow night, and I’d rather not deal with anybody that’s blowed up, thanks very much.

² You may remember him from such internet image searches as This party’s better than it seems and God Hates Jedi. He’s been a significant part of the Dumbrella at SDCC efforts until fairly recently, when he and his wife decided to reproduce themselves. Apparently carrying around a toddler in a BabyBjorn in the pathogen-rich environment of the San Diego Convention Center for four days is too big of an ask. Whatever, J.

How Long Until The Stage Adaptation?

Hey, did you see the news? You probably saw the news. The news is good:

Steven Universe The Movie ?…? is a musical!!!? Featuring all NEW songs by @rebeccasugar in collaboration with @chancetherapper @EstelleDarlings @PattiLuPone @UzoAduba @SoGallant @aimeemann and more! #stevenuniversethemovie #stevenuniverse #cartoonnetwork

Steven Universe: The Movie, readers will recall, was announced at SDCC last July, with your humble hack webcomics pseudojournalist nailing an interview with lead character designer Becky Dreistadt minutes after the announcement. Since then, we’ve seen huge amounts of Steven lore — Homeworld, White Diamond, the healing of the corrupted gems on Earth, what could have served as a finale for the series.

Rumors have swirled about the movie — it takes place after a time jump, it takes place immediately after the season 5 wrapup, it’ll be the last of Steven Universe — but little definitive until the announcement:

  • It’s a musical! With music-heavy episodes like Mr Greg under their belts, and with the Crewniverse only getting better at songwriting, I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I am. Delightedly so.
  • Artists collaborating with Rebecca Sugar include Aimee Mann (Opal’s back!) and Chance the Rapper, and the guy who dropped tight rhymes as Eff-Nocka is a co-executive producer.
  • It’s not the end of the show.

Apart from that, who knows? Me, I’m holding out for a time skip of sufficient duration that we find out if Steven inherits Greg’s hairline or not. Oh, and apparently we’ll get physical media — DVD, soundtrack (probably including vinyl) — by end of the year. It’s a good year to be a Steven Universe fan, and we’re all lucky to have Rebecca Sugar’s vision¹ of what a kinder world looks like. We’ll undoubtedly learn more in about a month at this year’s SDCC Steven Universe panel.


Spam of the day:

hotty Desire Fleen: The Awkward Christmas Dinner Of Our Obligation To Existence

I think they’re trying to say that a hotty (possibly plural hotties) desire Fleen? I mean, it’s a website, so I’m not sure what that would look like?

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¹ Speaking of, this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest — where classic Ghibli movies are simulcast to local theaters in both dubbed and subtitled versions — will be premiering Whisper Of The Heart‘s first major North American theatrical release on 1 (dub) and 2 (sub) July, with a special introduction by Rebecca Sugar. Details on which theaters are participating in the simulcast and advanced ticket sales here.

Subsequent releases this season include Kiki’s Delivery Service (late July), My Neighbor Totoro (late August), The Secret World Of Arriety (late September), Spirited Away (late October, spooooky), Princess Mononoke (late November), and The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya (mid December).

This Looks A Little Different

I’m presuming you saw this from Matt Inman yesterday:

I am happy to announce that I am in development on my own animated feature for Illumination.
In short: I got a movie deal.

The good news: I’m making a movie and it’s going to be very funny.

The bad news: these things take years to make and it is an all-consuming task. This means I will no longer be working on The Oatmeal full time.

With that, Inman joins a pretty sizable list of web- and indie comics to get a Hollywood deal: You Damn Kid, Odd Jobs, Last Blood, Agnes Quill, The New Kid, Delilah Dirk, Castle Hangnail, and big kahuha build-a-franchise titles like Bone and Amulet.

Thing to keep in mind? Some of those deals go back a dozen years or more and by my count, the number of webcomic-originating properties that have made it to screen (large or small) so far¹ is one: Axe Cop, with Nimona having a release date in 2021. But this is a little bit different.

Because the movie isn’t The Oatmeal; the deal isn’t for the IP, it’s for Inman. He gets to make a movie with a studio that’s … well, they aren’t the top of the animation hierarchy, but they aren’t nobodies, either². Think about how Noelle Stevenson got the opportunity to make She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power, and has managed to get two full seasons released since Nimona was optioned, and has time for two or three more before it will release.

But also think about how nothing exists until it actually exists and all sorts of things may happen between now and a hypothetical release date that cause production to be abandoned, or the end product to be shelved. A’course, Illumination doesn’t have the resources to make movies that won’t be released. If they don’t release Untitled Matt Inman Project it’s because something went badly wrong rather than they just decided not to put it out in the world. You’d pretty much have to be the dominant, near-monopoly power-player of the entertainment industry to have the resources to do that.

Speaking of which, Kazu Kibuishi may or may not ever see an Amulet adaptation (or franchise) hit the big screen, but he’s made a movie. You’ve never seen Let’s Get Francis and you never will, because while Disney paid him to conceive and direct it, they also chose to scrap it. We at Fleen are cautiously optimistic that Inman will enjoy the next several years, but the best laid plans, etc.

In the meantime, there won’t be many comics from him as he shifts to a very different kind of creative endeavour. My money’s on him succeeding (at least on the things he’s got under his control), as it was revealed that he’s been doing creative consulting for Illumination for the past year and a half, including punch-up on the just released The Secret Life Of Pets 2. He’s not going in cold, and I think in three to five years he’ll have made something he’s proud of.


Spam of the day:

Live Chat with Asian Women

I think you got your generation scripts scrambled, Spammy. You shift from promising me access to beautiful Asian women to instead pointing me to Hot Russian Ladies (who may or may not be Desperate Girls) in the space of two lines. Pick an unfortunate mail-order bride ethnic sterotype and stick to it!

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¹ I’m not counting things made directly for the web, meaning that various projects related to PvP, Cyanide & Happiness, SMBC, and Automata. The standard here is that a big company pays you for the rights to make something from your story, and they bear the costs of making it and distributing it.

² I’m speaking here about longevity and creative reputation; Illumination have, thanks to owning the Minions, made on-the-order-of billion dollar grosses on four of their ten releases so far. They don’t have the legacy of Disney, the technical and gonzo creative skill of Pixar, or the legendary mystique of Ghibli. They also don’t have the cookie-cutter sameness of Dreamworks, or the mercenary laziness of Blue Sky and Sony Animation³.

³ Which both show signs of improving as they break their past patterns. Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, was friggin’ brilliant and Blue Sky are making Nimona.

News With Caveats

More book reviews in the immediate future, friends, but I wanted to take a moment to catch up on some things that have happened in the recent weeks that I had previously missed. In no particular order, then:

  • Know who’s cool? Lucy Bellwood. Like, adventuring around the world cool, has a better haircut than you cool, and teaming up with Scott McCloud to explain some tech stuff¹ cool. In this case, the tech stuff is federated learning, and the comic (story by Bellwood & McCloud, art by Bellwood) will bring you up to speed.

    In case you’re wondering about working for a giant behemoth that’s completely abandoned all pretense of having Don’t be evil as a guiding principle, may I remind you that Google has an enormous budget for things of this nature, and I sincerely hope that Bellwood and McCloud were given the equivalent of a dump truck full o’ money for their work on the comic.

  • I mentioned the winners of the NCS division awards for webcomics² on Sunday but did I mention the latest Johnny Wander Kickstart? On Twitter, yeah, but not here so let’s talk about it now. Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh are Kickstarting a book of previously-uncollected (and new!) comics on the theme of travel in this, the tenth year of Johnny’s wandering. It’ll be great.

    In case you’re wondering how much you want to deal with Kickstarter given the news about the company not accepting a proposed union, may I remind you this is what’s happened when unions were proposed in all cases in the history of unionization except maybe three? Yeah, I had expectations of Kickstarter-the-public-benefit-corporation being better than this, but all this means is that the next stage of labor law gets followed: there’s a vote, and if the employees vote for a union they have to recognize it.

    Honestly, I think it’s just the reflexive distrust of anything other than rugged self-made mandom³ that is the hallmark of anybody that’s temperamentally suited to be a tech executive. The vote’ll happen, my money’s on it passes, and then the entire damn industry has a reckoning to face. And even at their worst, KS not embracing a union wholeheartedly will still damage comics creators a couple order of magnitude less than the shitshow aftermath of the Oni/Lion Forge let’s be movie producers together wankfest merger.

  • Now that the Canadian {T | Van}CAFs are behind us, I’m thinking of things happening in about eight weeks in San Diego. Way too many people and way too much stuff, but I should point out that webcomicky types like Randall Munroe, Katie O’Neill, Carey Pietsch, and Ursula Vernon will be present as guests of the con.

    In case you’re wondering how I’m going to find an area of concern that balances out the news just to keep up the pattern, I’m not. These folks are great and you should read their stuff and let them know they rock.


Spam of the day:

{Well | Prince | Genoa | Lucca | arenow |justfamily | estates | Buonapartes | ButIarn | youifyou | tellme | thatthis | meanswar | ifyoustill | trytodefend | theinfamies | andhorrors | perpetrated | bythat | Antichrist | really | believe | heisAntichrist | willhave | nothing | moreto | dowith | youandyou | arenolonger | myfriend | nolongermy | faithful | slaveas | youcall | yourself | Buthow | doyoudo |

And that’s in the From: field of the email header. I leave it to your imagination how the body of the message progressed.

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¹ One may recall a day ten and a half years ago when the world was introduced to the Chrome browser by McCloud.

² Requisite disclaimer: I am part of the nominating/judging process for these awards.

³ Baaaarrrrrfff.

Camp 2019, Until Next Year

And then #ComicsCamp was all done until next year; breakfast on Tuesday followed by an all-hands closeout session, followed by packing up and clearing out. Most everybody that attends is on a midday flight from Juneau to Seattle, and then onwards. Some few people will be on flights around 6:30 or 8:00pm, and a handfull of unfortunates¹ won’t fly out until 5:40am on Wednesday, generally because we’re making our way east across three or four time zones.

Those that need to be on the bus get their stuff together and say goodbye and help clean and pack up common resources until they have to leave. The dozen or so leftovers and locals stay until noon or so, sweeping and cleaning the main lodge and bathrooms, mopping the kitchen and packing out leftover food. By 1:00pm we’re checking into our hotel for the last night, and making plans for lunch and hang-outs in town.

The thing about 78 awesome people in close proximity is it can sometimes be hard to interact without a constantly-shifting population of participants, and a desire to pull ever more people in — it’s the usual convention Who’s going to dinner? problem writ somewhat smaller. But with a half-dozen people at The Rookery for lunch, or maybe ten at In Bocca Al Lupo for dinner (divided into tables of four), it’s easier to have a small conversation².

Thus, questions that have nothing to do with comics or creative careers come to the fore: If you won the fuck-off huge Powerball jackpot, where are you going first? If you were stuck on a desert island, what three books would you take? What one movie prop would you like more than any other?³.

Also, beers, and an invitation back to Rob & Pagan’s place to catch that week’s Game Of Thrones — the battle at Winterfell, y’all — with a big screen and an Aperol Spritz close to hand. If you ever have the opportunity to watch like your fifth GOT episode ever in a room full of enthusiasts and then have to go back to your hotel and immediately pack up your stuff to squeeze in 4.5 hours of sleep for a 4:00am taxi, I encourage it.

Multimedia:
Coincidentally, as I was wrapping up this year’s Camp recap, Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett shared his recollections of Camp, in the form of the latest Comic Lab podcast. I think that the infectious joy in his voice (which is hard to convey with words on the screen) is matched only by the infectious nature of his Ursaphobic Stan Lee impression (ditto). If I have to hear it in my brain until I die, so do you.

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¹ Hi, how ya doin’?

² Or to share tater tots with those whose lunch order tragically does not include them.

³ My answers:

  • Portland, to make legal arrangements with Katie Lane so I don’t fuck up my life.
  • The Great Outdoor Fight, the collected Digger, and the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf.
  • The dress jacket work by Kenneth Branagh in his version of Much Ado About Nothing, which set off a lengthy discussion of the various versions of that play between me and Molly Muldoon, leaving Tillie Walden thoroughly bemused that we each knew so much of the text by heart.

    That Molly, though — she’s got opinions on Claudio (which I thoroughly agree with).

Three-Fer

I mean, three stories, each of which demands that it get to set the image at the top of the post. I suppose I could just make three posts, but I am a lazy, lazy man. So it’s three in one.

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I Think This Means Five Card Nancy Needs A Rules Addendum

Does anybody at this point doubt that Olivia Jaimes is the best thing to happen to the comics page since at least Richard Thompson’s Cul De Sac, which lasted too short a time.

Jaimes has spent a lot of the last couple of weeks providing a metareferential look at the nature of art and fame, which I thought was capped by yesterday’s title panel. Then today’s strip dropped and one of the key defining characteristics of Ernie Bushmiller’s creation came in for some scrutiny and revision. Namely, the three rocks:

Nancy is Plato’s playground. Ernie Bushmiller didn’t draw A tree, A house, A car. Oh, no. Ernie Bushmiller drew THE tree, THE house, THE car. Much has been made of the “three rocks.” Art Spiegelman (following Bill Griffith—another Bushmiller aficionado) explained to his SVA students how a drawing of three rocks in a background scene was Ernie’s way of showing us there were some rocks in the background. It was always three. Why? Because two rocks wouldn’t be “some rocks.” Two rocks would be a pair of rocks. And four rocks was unacceptable because four rocks would indicate “some rocks” but it would be one rock more than was necessary to convey the idea of “some rocks.”

Bravo, Ms Jaimes, and may Nancy never want for rocks again.

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I Hope He Got Some Tickets For The Gig, Too

Besides being a fabulous comedian, hilarious and heartfelt [voice] actor, and all-around terrific human, Patton Oswalt has done yeoman’s work in promoting artists whose work he loves, and doing so in a direct and effective manner: he pays them to make art for him. Particularly, every couple of shows when he’s on the road will feature a different show poster, and you don’t usually see the same artists repeated.

Just released over the weekend, a three-show stand in November features the work of Mike Holmes. It’s a far cry from Secret Coders (now out in boxed set) or his Mikenesses series, but it’s unmistakably Holmes — loose, energetic, lighthearted, joyous.

If you’re in Northern New Jersey, Baltimore, or Indianpolis in early November, I bet you can grab one when the stagehands are swapping out the displays. And if you aren’t, Oswalt promised a link to get the poster in his store soon, so keep your eyes open for that.

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Randall Munroe’s Got A Toy Running Again

You might have seen the picture above when browsing to today’s xkcd, as I keep Javascript off in my daily browser (Opera), only breaking out the supplemental browser with JS enabled (Vivaldi) when the circumstances warrant. It keeps things fast, cuts down on ad tracking, and robs malware of a common infection vector. But when Randall Munroe says you need Javascript, buddy, you need Javascript.

Being foolish and forgetting everything I know about Munroe when he’s feeling creative and/or ornery enough to do a nonstandard comic, I figured that I might be treated with something like a personal tourney of 16 emoji to vote on, with probably some statistical measures about how many people agreed with my final winner, or my final four, or even my entire bracket.

Nope. Munroe appears to have included pert-near every damn Unicode emoji, with what appears to be a ten-level deep competition, a stagering 1024 emoji, which looks like this (compact) and this (enormous). No idea when it’ll be done, but if each of the matchups (512 in the 1st round, 256 in the 2nd, 128 in the 3rd, 64 in the 4th, 32 in the 5th, 16 in the 6th, 8 in the 7th, 4 in the 8th, 2 in the 9th, and finally 1 in the 10th) allows you just five seconds to make your decision, it would require nearly an hour and a half¹ to determine a winner, and that’s if just if each match only appeared to the world once.

Knowing Munroe’s appreciation of statistical significance, I’m guessing he will be waiting until each match has cycled through multiple times before declaring first-round winners. As of this writing, the bracket doesn’t appear to have any emoji moving into the second round, so I’d say come back no sooner than Wednesday’s update for the results. As for how he worked the seeding? That would probably take every remaining post in April if he felt like getting into all of his logic. I’m here for it.


Spam of the day:

Narrator : And so it came to pass on Christmas Day, that the human race did cease to exist. But even then, the Master had no concept of his role in greater events. For this was far more than humanity’s end! This was the day upon which the whole of creation would change forever!

Got to say, if you’re going to try to entice me into a ForEx scam, quoting Rassilon (as played by Timothy Dalton) is at least going to get my attention.

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¹ 1023 matchups * 5 seconds per matchup / 60 seconds per minute = 85.25 minutes.

Thursday Things

Hey, how’s it going? I’ve taken to keeping a half-full bottle of gin on my desk¹. On the theory that it may help your day to get better, here’s some things to examine and/or plan for!

  • Today! Kevin Sonney is a magnificent dude; programmer and Linuxbender extraordinaire, tatted and bekilted con security heavyweight, and certified Disney Princess to whom critters flock. He’s also a persistent podcaster, mostly with wife Ursula Vernon — they cohost Kevin And Ursula Eat Cheap and consume things no mortal should; he is the voice of Reverend Mord on The Hidden Almanac.

    Right now, though, we’re focusing on Productivity Alchemy, which is about — stripped to its most basic — Getting Your Shit Together And Getting Shit Done. It is, ironically, the sort of thing that would paralyze me, as I am definitely the sort of person that would hopscotch from solution to solution, method to method, tool to tool, and obsessively chase achievement badges. My productivity works in fits and starts, and a lot of it looks like Ignoring The Issue At Hand from a distance, but it works for me². Which is to say, Sonney’s probably a lot smarter than me on every aspect of productivity as he’s put a hell of a lot of thought into it, and I’m more intuitive and decidedly nonanalytical about my methods.

    But sometimes I have to beak my own rule to see what’s on Sonney’s mind, and today is one of those days. He’s talking to Howard Tayler — my evil twin — about his approach to keeping life together, and dropping refs to the likes of Jennie Breeden’s The Devil’s Panties, KB SPangler’s A Girl And Her Fed, and Randy Milholland’s Something*Positive. It’s a fun, informative listen and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

  • Future! For those whose personal productivity includes future planning, and who also live in the Bay Area, the Cartoon Art Museum wants to help you sort out what to do with the kids this summer:

    Cartoon Camp is filled with active creative engagement for older kids and teens who are avid artists enjoying drawing and are looking to build skills. All materials are provided. Find discounts, details and sign up opportunities for museum members on the registration links. Register before camp sessions fill up!

    Classes are designed for the 10-15 year old set with a bit of experience under their belts, with a choice of three week-long sessions. You can do skill-building in the mornings with Mark Simmons, afternoons of group work and studio time with Ellis Kim, or full days to experience both (bring lunch, it’s not provided). There’s also a couple of drawing excursions to local scenic spots.

    Sessions run the week of 17 to 21 June, 24 ot 28 June, or 29 July to 2 August.; morning sessions run 9:00am to 12:30pm and afternoons 1:45pm to 5:15pm. CAM members get 10% off the US$300 tuition (full days are US$550); reserve now before slots fill up.


Spam of the day:

View live security camera feed from your phone

This is advance notice: If I ever give any indication that I have allowed any Internet Of Things™ or “Smart” appliances into my home, that is a sure sign that I have been replace by a pod person, and you should set “me” on fire at the first opportunity.

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¹ Okay, it’s one of those airline bottles on account of my exit-row seat home from Dallas t’other night entitled me to a free drink and that was all I wanted at the time. But still! Hard bitten journalising going on here!

² All the seeming off-goofing is my brain arranging itself into a Cave so I can hit the Zone. Lots of people achieve their Zone via external tools, but mine are on the inside.

If Homestar And 17776 Are Webcomics, So Is This

That is to say, both deeply weird Flash cartoons of the early Aughts and deeply weird space probe/football fanfic are idiosyncratic, personal creations made for the internet, marked by a sense of collaboration/accessibility with the audience, which makes them essentially webcomics, so say we all.

Webcomics as a concept, stretching past the literal definition of comics on the internet¹, can incorporate anything creative that probably won’t pass the muster of a publisher/editor, but which can find a niche of similar weirdos when thrown into the wilds.

Which is to say, Jonathan Coulton has always been a webcomicker, albeit one that worked primarily in words+sounds instead of words+pictures. No music publisher would have ever done something like Thing A Week, which means no music publisher would ever have made available a song about a very cool NPR morning host, fractal math, Leonard Nimoy’s late-70s paranormal-bait syndicated TV show, or (tangentially) Ferocious J². Heck, the guy partnered with Matt Fraction to do a graphic novel to accompany his last album.

(And, since JoCo has collaborated with MC Frontalot, you have a direct link to songs about Achewood, Wigu, and Indie Rock Pete.)

And what, I ask you, is more webcomics than doing a giant passion project that no sane publisher would get within 3.048 meters of, throwing it up on Kickstarter, and finding that a bunch of weirdos are into it?

My new album is called Some Guys, and it’s a collection of soft rock songs from the 70’s that sound exactly like the originals.

Our approach was more, what if we put these guys in a time machine and brought them into this studio and recorded them here today? What would that sound like? And what if we hired real horns and real strings? How much would that cost? A LOT! But would it sound delicious and make us giddy, like we had discovered an amazing secret or invented a new magic trick? Yes, it would. The end result is that these songs sound exactly like you expect them to, but they’re also different and new in an alternate universe sort of way.

And for a guy on his first Kickstart, JoCo’s apparently learned from his predecessors pretty well:

STRETCH GOALS
No.

Some Guys (seriously, go see the album cover, and read the writeup about the album cover, and especially watch the video — the clips that JoCo included sound exactly friggin’ like the originals, which is somewhat cognitively dissonant³, but in a wonderful way, and the message in the text crawls is inspiring) was announced at 10:00am EST, and as of this writing it’s over US$49,500 (on a US$20K goal).

The record is made, this is effectively a pre-order and a way to pay for physical versions (CD, vinyl) for those that don’t want digital downloads; it’s a zero-risk project if you’re looking for something wonderful, fun, soft, and cheering.


Spam of the day

You still have not taken the prize in the category Like the year 2018
15 0.1 2019 super prize is canceled

Aw, man, I really wanted super prize.

_______________
¹ Since pretty much everything is on the internet even if emotionally it’s designed for another space.

² As seen here, in requisite tin foil hat.

³ I am reminded of the very first live event for This American Life, where the stage band (consisting largely of John & John from TMBG) went out of their way to reproduce song snippets that were heavily used on TAL in those early years. Not putting a TMBG spin on them, mind you, trying to make them sound indistinguishable from the actual songs, rather than just drop the original clip into the staged readings They didn’t attempt Perpetuum Mobile by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but can’t really blame them — it takes about 15 musicians playing in I think 7 different time signatures.