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November 2005

Can He Swing From a Web?

The anonymous, hunky, limber Russian guys in this amazing video appear to be living out their own superhero training montage. I swear, it's like a Bel Ami version of Spider-Man. I’m both turned on and comforted knowing that they're out there patrolling the rooftops, somewhere, striking fear into the hearts of evil-doers. And strange cravings into the hearts of guys like me. Although they could totally use some spandex and masks instead of those baggy pants.

Spot On

Oooh, do I love me a nerdy internet quiz!

Your results:

You are Spider-Man

Spider-Man

80%

Superman

70%

that’s mostly from my overly polite, goody-two-shoes manner

The Flash

70%

Because I’m an idealistic square

Hulk

55%

Because I aggressively suppress anger for fear of freaking out more than I can handle

Robin

53%

Sidekick, ho!

Green Lantern

50%

Frankly, I don't see it

Iron Man

50%

Sure, I’m pretty gadget-savvy, but I’ve never even gotten drunk once

Supergirl

43%

Like a big boy scout, but more girly. Yeah, it's true.

Batman

35%

Because of my sexual fixation on sidekicks

Catwoman

35%

Gross! I hate pussies.

Wonder Woman

28%

Because I’m a princess!

You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility. Also, super-low self-confidence that I hide with jokes about having super-low self-confidence.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Golly, Ain't Brooklyn Glamorous?

Oh my god, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Via Gawker comes this revolting article about how gosh-darn warm, friendly, and civilized Brooklyn is. The whole essay is unctuous enough, but it really goes for the gold with this money (literally) quote at the end:

"You know in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, when, at the end, the hobbits have been up in this fantastic place, and they've been hanging out with Gandalf and Liv Tyler and all of these people, right?" said Edward Wilson, 36, a banker at Goldman Sachs who moved with his wife, Hesu (Suzy) Coue, 39, from the West Village to a brownstone in Park Slope. "And then suddenly they're back in the Shire, and they're all kind of in the pub. And when we were watching the film, and it's all over, we just looked at each other and both said, 'Brooklyn.'"

Now I love, love, love Brooklyn, and I only hold a little bit of a grudge that I can't really afford to live in the prettier neighborhoods of it, but I can still only handle so much rhapsodizing about its innocent pleasures. Brooklyn's charm isn't really it's casual attitudes toward its celebrities (which is bull) or its suburban feel (which is also bull). It's always been hard for me to pinpoint exactly what I love about Brooklyn so much, but it sure ain't nuthin' that feels validated just because Heath Ledger lives in an expensive pad there.

Update!: And this ludicrously late-to-the party puff piece from the Washington Post also made my eyes roll back far enough to read the inside of my head. Gosh! Who knew Williamsburg was so trendy! (Remember thos sarcasm marks I mentioned yesterday. I needed one right there.) The most delicious part about the WP story is the subtext anyone around here understands: it's an article promoting the neighborhood in a way that will only encourage further invasion by people no one in Williamsburg would actually want there. Well, the real estate developers want them, but that’s about it. And everyone else basically wants their money, but not the people actually spending it. That my friends, is the snotty hypocrisy about gentrification that makes me so giggly when I hear people talking — still — about how much Williamsburg has changed since they first got there [insert absurdly small number] years ago.

And even though my current neighborhood is in the crosshairs, I figure I’ve still got a couple of years of affordable space there before I get squeezed out again.

Yo, I Talk Good

Some kind words from my latest evaluation for the type class I teach:

In his comments to students, Professor [that’s not really what I am, but it's what they call everyone who teaches] Rhatigan pointed out issues of scale, cropping, pattern and repetition and proportion. His critique style was noteworthy for his precise and elegant use of language: I was particularly impressed by the accessibility, precision and vividness of his descriptions of students' work. I think that this use of language is very helpful in helping students to see visual qualities in type forms and also aids them in talking about their work.

Yes, there is a way make a living out of talking about what's on your mind for three hours or so at a shot. As long as you make it sound all smart and shit.

WTF

Last week I was explaining ligatures to my typography class, another in a series of lessons that explain how typefaces contain many, many more characters than just letters (both upper- and lowercase), numbers, and the basic marks you see on a keyboard. (For instance, be glad your name does not include a macron.) I spoke about ligatures that come from visual issues, such as the combination of "fi" or "fl", as well as ligatures that were developed as a form of shorthand, such as the ampersand (from "et", the Latin word for "and") and the "at" sign (@, which is now ubiquitous). Now I guess I ought to tell them about this thread at Typophile, which suggests possible ligatures for WTF, LOL, RTFM, and more. WTF has some of the most developed ideas:

an italic, a roman

The whole exercise reminds me of an old letter from my friend Mark, in which he suggested punctuation marks indicating sarcasm, to help make it more obvious when written. His idea was to start with regular punctuation and cross it out:

sarcasm marks

If I do wind up getting my master's in typeface design, or if I someday happen to have a lot of extra time on my hands, it would be awesome to actually fine-tune those ideas an include a huge amount of innovative ligatures or punctuation marks in a typeface. Typography at its best, after all, is a means of facilitating communication, so it would seem to be my duty to make more subtle means available.

Twas My First Photo Credit

I’ve got one more notch in my belt as of this weekend: my first photo credit in the New York Times. Sadly, the photo didn't show up in the online version of the article, but you can check it out below:

'Twas the Night Before the Twelve Days of a Nutcracker Christmas Carol

The photo is from a batch of promo images I shot for 'Twas the Night Before the Twelve Days of a Nutcracker Christmas Carol, a sort of Christmas story mash-up, done panto-style, which will be running at P.S. 122 this year.

It's a shame, though, that most of the magic of that image is lost in a small, black-and-white reproduction. Here's the actual image, in full, glorious color:

'Twas, in color

Mix It Up and Do the Do

ChuckleheadI was a teenage groupie. Which isn't so unusual, really. Music is one of the easiest ways to forge, or at least latch onto, an identity when you're young. (Or even when you're not so young). It's a way to connect to a ready-made tribe. Being a groupie gives you a sense of belonging, and a sense that if you just try a little harder, or make a better impression, you can become part of that group you're so obsessed with.

By my junior year of college, I had already done New Wave and Industrial. I was maturing out of my ska phase and developing an appreciation for a wider array of microscopic subgenres, but for a while there wasn't much that hit the spot. I wasn't angry enough to be all that punk, and the exploding grunge scene just didn't do it for me. I wasn't clubbing enough to care about dance music yet, and I was still too self-conscious to accept how much I really liked '70s music. I was yearning for something to grab me.

One night my best friend Dave and I went to a show at the student union. It was a decidedly unhip venue for a city with a music scene like Boston's, but it was cheap and we were poor. The band hit the stage, and I saw an 8-piece sideshow of fun. The singer/trumpet player wore Muppet-fur pants. The keyboard player wore a stuffed bear's head for a hat. The horn section was awesome, and everyone in the band was a natural showman. They were silly, they had the funk, and I was dancing my ass off within seconds.

"These are my people," I thought.

(Read the rest...)

Geo Club

It's a shame that Brent Hartzinger's book Geography Club has been banned from some schools in Tacoma, WA, but the part of the story that caught my eye was this description of the book's premise:

In the 2003 book, a teenager thinks he's the only gay student in his high school until he learns that his online, gay chatroom buddy is a popular athlete at his school. The teen meets others, and they form the school Geography Club, thinking the name will be so boring no one else will join.

The punchline is that I’m dating the president of the Geography Club, and went along last Friday to their annual dinner celebrating Geography Awareness Week. I can attest that it was definitely not the secret club for gay kids.

More WYSIWYG Madness!

Instead of being slightly behind schedule, as I usually am with just about all my paying and non-paying projects, I’ve actually gotten a lot of advance work done for WYSIWYG lately. Namely, all the details for next month's show, "Sumthin' Jewy This Way Comes," and perhaps our most ambitious event yet, the first-ever (first annual?) WYSIWYG Film Festival!

Sumthin' Jewy This Way Comes

I’m really, really excited about the Film Festival, and I heartily encourage all of you burgeoning animators, filmmakers, videobloggers, and whatnot to submit work for consideration. You've got to be willing, though, to come to New York in January to present your work at the show, but who doesn't love New York in January? Make those reservations now.

If you do come to New York for the Film Festival, though, I won't be able to congratulate you in person. Because of a scheduling snafu, it turns out that I’m going to be in England the week of the Festival, making it the first time I'll miss a WYSIWYG event since we started putting on these monthly gigs way back in February 2004. (Yes, we do have an anniversary coming up, thank you.) I’m sad about that, but pretty psyched to get back to England for the first time in four years or so.

I’m going to visit some pals, enjoy the balmy January weather, and check out the Typeface Design program at the University of Reading. As if you can't believe all that glamor, I’m also going to spend Christmas in Iowa. Are you jealous yet?

Of course, there's a lot of work I have to catch up on before any of that happens. Aside from all the other plates I’m spinning at the moment, I have to take care of the one big WYSIWYG project I haven't handled yet: writing something to actually perform at tomorrow night's show. Wish me luck!

Thanks for the Music

Next Tuesday night I take my place in the spotlight again to perform in this month's WYSIWYG Talent Show -- "I’m with the Band":

I’m With the Band

I'll be joined by fellow groupies Michelle Collins, Blaise K., Maegan "la Mala", Josh Reynolds, Giulia Rozzi, and Margot Leitman.

Although I have yet to set a single word to paper (or screen), my plan is tell of the adventures young Sparky had during the heydays of my early 20s, when it was all about Boston's own Chucklehead. There will be wacky stories about the weekend I was first exposed to the horrors of line dancing, the photos of the drummer in his mouse-eaten underwear, and the night Dave and I realized that the entire band had always assumed he was my boyfriend. (Which was, to be fair, not the first time that mistake had been made.) Oh, such funky days! You should have seen me when I still went to shows and danced. I was pretty awesome.

Striking Poses

There was another nice write-up for the Thumbs in the November 2005 issue of AVN (Adult Video News). Although I knew this was coming out, it slipped my mind until after the fact, so I never grabbed a copy for my archives. Luckily the writer, Ken Knox, sent me a PDF file of the page for posterity.

Ken had also given the site some enthusiastic coverage in a blog entry of his own a while before this hit the stands, which made me all kinds of smiley. Any attention for the project is always nice, but it's especially satisfying when people get a kick out of the full mix of elements going on in those photos, instead of just appreciating them for the humorous or the horny content.

(Read the rest...)

They Like It Rough

Slipping Batman the Green Tongue

Batman's a dirty, dirty whore, and that’s just how Green Lantern likes him. Do you think Batman's always the bottom boy, or do you think they switch once in a while?

(that’s the cover for the Green Lantern #9, due out in a few months. I doubt it'll be as hot as I’m imagining it to be right now.)

It's Hard

Sticky, Hard

Oh, Sticky, I think I feel faint. Hardcover collection? Fancy book design? Superior printing? You had this design weenie hot for you already, but now I can hardly see straight. Just who is this "Bruno Gmünder Verlag" who's publishing this? And why must I wait until April to get it? Damn you all!

Drub, are we going to get to see you in hardback one of these days, too?

Dark Ages

I don't have a TV anymore, but don't think I’m taking some kind of odious stance about the disintegration of Western society or anything. Every few years I just like to use moving as an excuse to go cold turkey and make it harder to indulge my tendency towards pop-culture addiction. I love television, but I get a lot more done without it.

Just to keep a trickle of entertainment flowing, though, I reopened my Netflix account so I can watch DVDs on my other computer while I do stuff at my desk. I’ve already fallen into the habit of ordering my rental queue into themes, letting me feast on one type of thing until I get sick and move onto another. Currently, I’m plowing through all the PBS reality series, which I’ve always loved to pieces but have rarely been able to catch.

I’m a nerd, so I enjoy the historical/educational aspects of the PBS approach to reality TV, and the way they tend to cast people for their earnestness instead of their likelihood to be selfish assholes who'll yell at everyone they meet. Life isn't easy in these shows, though: they all tend to prove that anyone who romanticizes the olden days is a fool. All the people who participate in these social experiments start off dreaming about how romantic it was to live in the Victorian era or the Colonial era or what have you, when life was simpler and people were more authentic, but a few common themes always seem to unravel these fantasies:

The next show is going to be Texas Ranch House, and I’m looking forward to the implosion of more our culture's romanticized, sanitized myths. I keep waiting, though, for them to tackle some of the harder, edgier aspects of our history. I would love to see Tenement House, for instance, where they pack a couple of families into a railroad apartment with no plumbing and send them to work in sweatshops. Or Commune House, with lots of sex and drugs to go along with the poverty and manual labor. Or Plantation House, whose exploration of rascism could actually be the most explosive television ever made.

Of course, there could also be Bath House, but that might be a little too vivid for most television viewers. Besides, they've been broadcasting versions of that over the internet for years already. It's not funded, though, by Upper East Side dowagers or grants from the Ford Foundation. Just viewers like you.

It's Totally Dismal and Excellent

Oh my stars and garters — an Archie comic just blew my mind (click to see the whole thing):

Betty Goes Goth

It's awesome enough that Betty and then the rest of the gang go goth, but what I love the most is that the gothified Betty also looks like Black Canary. that’s hot. Almost as hot as this whole parody comic: Anarchie.

(This discovery and the artwork come via Accordion Guy, but I’m mirroring the images since he already got noticed by the Boing Boing crowd.)

New Neighbors

It's finally time to put up curtains in the windows of my new pad. Up until now, I’ve been enjoying the luxury of facing a row of empty buildings across the street, so there was no worry about peeping neighbors. Which is great, because I haven't felt like attaching curtain rods to the masonry in the front of my place.

Once again, though, my penchant for low-ish rents in uncool neighborhoods has found me at the crest of yet another wave of hipster migration. (I haven't dubbed my building "the Cracker Factory" for nothing, you know.) Last week I saw them loading some sheet rock into one of the empty buildings across the street. Last night, I saw all the lights on in there, and the front door standing open. That, my friends, is what an open house looks like.

So Special Agent Josh and I ran over to inspect what they've built, and check out whether or not the new tenants would be able to see into my apartment. Sure enough, the factory has been carved into a bunch of modestly sized lofts, with one floor ready to go in a couple of weeks, and two more floors ready in the next couple of months. A decent conversion job, in case you're interested, and the rents aren't all that bad. Of course, the street-facing units all have an outstanding view of my desk at the moment, in case you own binoculars and want to see what's on my screen. The angle would make it hard for my eventual new neighbors (who seemed to be racing to submit their applications last night, even for the units that haven't been built yet) to see anything else in my place, but this new development would only make me feel weird about people watching over my shoulder when I work.

But the other bloggers are already starting to follow me to the neighborhood, so I figure that if people are coming to the area, I may as well at least try to give any interested friends and readers a heads-up on any opportunities to stalk me.

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