The Alabaster Sock

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Archive for the ‘Leinks’ Category

The Social Media Universe Explained

Posted by Matt on August 9, 2011

As you may have noticed, I have joined numerous websites based on the idea of mass communication. One may wonder how I can keep track of all my web domains, or if I’ve joined the legion of Internet ADHD Victims. The jury is still out on the latter (not really, I totally am), but for the former, it’s all about having each account serve a specific purpose in my web of advertisements for me. You may prefer one mode I choose over the others, so I will now explain what those specific purposes are:

WordPress blog – Longer posts about things I don’t like, people I like to insult from afar and under general anonymity, some bad reviews (because I can’t review things very well), and observations about creativity and writing for the most part. I will be embarrassed by whatever I’ve posted here as little as a week after writing it.

Tumblr – Links to things I read or find interesting. Because I really hated doing that on the blog. Also, a record of my Internet ADHD.

Twitter – Dumb statements I make on the fly because I think I have to. Links to my Tumblr posts awkwardly shoehorned in. Attempts to communicate with people I respect, only for me to delete all replies because I’m afraid of looking like a fool.

Endless Reaction Shots – Beats the hell out of me.

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Posted by Matt on May 18, 2011

Some time ago, Cameron Stewart mentioned on his Twitter feed that he would like to see a show like Marc Maron’s WTF podcast for comics creators. You know, something that goes a little deeper, engaging them on a more personal level, whether talking about their work or their lives, rather than simply go on about the comics culture or what have you. I would agree that this is a good idea. A very good idea, in fact. I love hearing or reading that kind of stuff – the real why of what they do. Not just that, I like to hear about their interests, too, and small talk, and anecdotes. It’s really just great to have real, solid evidence that the names I see on the covers of my books are people. This is why I listen to Maron’s show, as depressing as it can be (seriously, the recent episode with Dave Foley is a downer).

I will always welcome more interesting, thought-out takes on any subject, really. It really helps a medium evolve, and mature, when someone is out there willing to actually discuss it on some kind of an intellectual level. One of things I think is holding back video game discussion, art or not, is that there isn’t really much of an ‘alternative’ sector that is willing to tackle games on anything other than a simple consumer level. There are a few, for sure (on a related note, I discovered the Extra Credits video series on The Escapist, and it is exactly what I’m talking about here. Check it out, gang); unfortunately, due to the short period of time in which games have existed, and the more ‘democratic’ world of information sharing that it lucked into, serious game discussion (and when I say ‘serious discussion’, I don’t mean dry, psuedo-intellectual, philosophical wankfests, but just any sort of thought about what the games are and our relationship to them) is going to have some difficulty becoming as much a viable channel as its equivalents in other arts circles (like movies and music) or non-arts circles (professional sports. Yes, professional sports can be discussed in a non-idiotic fashion). The seeds have been planted, though, so it is really only a matter of time before these channels are more common/gain some legitimacy.

To be fair, it isn’t just games. Comics have a good critical establishment among seasoned professionals and fans, with varied and interesting reporting coming from publications like the Comics Journal, or from individuals like Tim O’Neil, Sean Witzke, David Brothers, and so many more. However, I think comics criticism has trouble becoming a natural component of the form, rather than a tiny, antagonistic niche within another niche. There will always be some level of antagonism between the critical establishment and the peanut-munching crowd; but movie, music, and literary critics, even if they are often treated with disdain, are still not outcasts whose sole purpose is to tell the rest of the people how stupid they are. The issue might be that critics of the other mediums deal mainly with the apathetic, while the comics critics have to deal with the much more frustrating obsessive fanboy set. There are not many casual comics readers, or at least not many that don’t simply occupy another micro-niche (manga, webcomics, indies, etc.) that rarely interacts with the others. So who do the comics critics talk to? Either themselves, or the people who will buy every X-Men branded pamphlet that month. It’s a battle of extremes, a symptom of how small the comics crowd is right now, and that is a limiting agent for comics discussion. Good work is still being done, however, so it’s not that tragic a situation.

So how did we get from interesting interviews to the state of criticism? Well…I don’t really know. In my mind, at least, both those candid interviews Stewart suggested and Maron embodies and the critical culture in various mediums are related. They are both about digging into works, or the people behind them, to find points of interest. For people like me, it’s those points of interest, no matter how deep or trivial they may be, are what keeps us hooked on these things. I like learning things about these things; I like seeing them interpreted in different ways. Whether it’s from the talents themselves or other readers, I just think all culture deserves a little prodding, and I will always be in favour of whatever provides that analysis.

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Posted by Matt on May 11, 2011

This weekend was spent at the Toronto Comics Art Festival with my friend Ben. Much fun and merriment was had by all. Here’s a play by play for the interested:

-I had never been to Toronto before, so it was a double exciting time for me! Actually, I had never been on a plane before, either, so make that triple. I can say that my opinion of both are now favorable.
Toronto seems like a good place. I especially liked how the different forms of public transportation, which we utilized over the course of the three or four days constantly, are linked, so you don’t need to pay extra to go from subway to street car to bus. And most of the routes are pretty easy to figure out, a bonus for stupid tourists like me. Even so, I can say that the constant looking for stops and riding and pass buying wore me out sometimes. My own personal preference seems to be for places where I can walk pretty much anywhere I need to go. That kind of keeps me in nowheresville, doesn’t it?

-For food, we went to different restaurants every day for all three meals, and each one was pretty good! Saturday began with Patrician Grill, where I got a good full breakfast with the biggest pieces of bacon I’ve ever seen (they were slightly burnt, but I guess you win some you lose some). The Blarney Stone, a pub that was located quite close to the Reference Library and The Pilot (where two of the panels were attended were held), had some huge-ass burgers. Saturday night was spent at C’est What, another pub with a delightful collection of taps and great Dijon chicken.
On Sunday, we started with Morning Glory, which was tiny, but had a goat milk and blue cheese-based omelet that Ben said was so good, we came back the next day (and got something completely different). In the afternoon, we went across the street from the library to a place called Mama’s Pizza, which must be a Toronto-based chain, because we saw it everywhere. It was one of those pizza places where they have huge-ass slices…and they were good huge-ass slices, too. Ben had a calzone that could plug a hole in the ozone. Big is good, yes. Finally, we went to another pub called Betty’s, which is one of those places made for large drunken gatherings, complete with colourful crap all over the walls and pictures of nude women in the bathroom. The burger Ben got was super thick (whereas the Blarney Stone’s burgers were wide), and they put a fried egg on it, just to make sure the thing was 125% awesome.

-But what’s all this talk about food? There were comics to be had! Yes, TCAF was swollen with comics and comic creators, some of whom I actually knew! But of course, getting to see the people I knew is only about 57% of the fun; it’s cool to discover new things, as well. It’s great seeing the huge variety of works out there by independent folks, all of whom were out hawking their wares and being super-friendly to mouth-breathing scum like me (although the crowds here were pretty good, the kind I can identify with over the more, let’s say, fanatic folks I have been led to believe would attend the more general nerd conventions). And as congested as the thing got, it never felt really chaotic. Kudos to the staff for keeping everything smooth for those two days.

-I didn’t spend that much money there, which was surprising. For the most part, buying stuff never felt like a high priority for me when I actually got there. I was too busy just taking in the overall comics atmosphere. Plus, I’m kind of a wuss, and didn’t want to approach the artists out of fear of looking like an idiot to people I respect. Oh well. The only purchases/things I had signed were an exclusive CD of gibberish put together by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward (he also drew me a picture) and a copy of Godland: Celestial Edition Two, which I had been meaning to pick up at some point anyway, but now have a copy signed by Tom Scioli, who was nice enough to make sure I got a high-quality copy of the book.
When it came to getting things signed, that breathless act of fanboyism, I think I had more fun following my friend while he attempted to fill his sketchbook with doodles & signatures from 30 or so of his favourite artists we knew were in attendance. He got a surprisingly large amount, by the end. As previously mentioned, they were all good folks, which after the first few, gave us a much-needed confidence boost to pursue the rest. Among the notables were James Stokoe of Orc Stain, who went completely to town on the sketch (and he draws with his left hand, which is insane), Chester Brown, who didn’t think his drawing of Louis Riel looked very much like Louis Riel, and Scott C. of Double Fine Action Comics, who even let us take a picture of him! Of course, everyone there we talked to were super, and completely open for some silly inconsequential chitchat and “I like your stuff! It’s so neat!”. I think that openness and the love of the craft that permeated the place is what makes it such a joy.

-We went to 4 panels, all of which were entertaining. The first had Kate Beaton, Joe Lambert, John Martz, Dylan Meconis, and Dustin Harbin talking about the ways they approach the creative legwork of their job, talking about the difference between working in different formats or on several fun ideas versus one big life project, and also constantly talking about pooping.
The second panel we visited was the Adventure Time panel, attended by a few of the show’s current staff, including Michael DeForge, Bob Flynn, Andy Ristaino, Steve Wolfhard, and, of course, Pen Ward, who showed up 15 minutes after the panel started (he was working on that CD I mentioned earlier). It was interesting to note that all the staffers present were comic artists, and were pushing their own stuff alongside their Adventure Time items at their tables. The panel itself was really cool – each panelist went over how they all joined the show, giving us a little insight into the how that weird animation industry works. We got to see a cut of a theater short they produced recently that will apparently see distribution sometime in the future (it didn’t have sound, so Pen provided all the voices and sounds himself). The questions from the audience were pretty good, too, and we got some interesting answers, like Ward’s assertion that someone pitching ideas is better off coming up with a lot and then developing them after being picked up rather than setting one’s self up for a fall by spending all your time polishing a single idea that can be swiftly crushed by executives. We also got to hear him swear profusely as Lumpy Space Princess, which is apparently what he needs to do to get the voice right. We also got to hear him drop some video game know-how by referencing A Boy and His Blob and the Barney game on the Sega Genesis (it was in answering a question about what they would do if they had complete creative control over an Adventure Time game. Pen revealed that his current goal is to get the chance to design a game, and that his ideal AT game would have “Katamari graphics with Monster Hunter gameplay”, which sounds about right). I think the other guys said some stuff, too.
The third panel we visited was more of a game the audience got to view. Essentially, Kate Beaton, KC Green, Chris Hastings, Aaron Diaz, and two members of the audience were split into two teams, where one would see a card projected onto a screen that the others couldn’t see, and then draw the manner of death described on the card in such a way as to allow his or her teammates to guess it. Ryan North was the official judge. Hilarity ensued. Beaton and Hasting’s team was given most of the really hard-to-convey scenarios in the first two rounds, but made a surprising comeback in the last round because the audience member on their team decided to skip the cleverness and just draw straightforward representations. Strategic!
The final panel, the last one at The Pilot on Sunday, also had Beaton, alongside Jess Fink, Jason Little, Jeffrey Lewis, and R. Sikoryak. Essentially, they read their comics aloud, with some performance mixed in. Each one was a great presenter, and they all had very distinct styles. I have no idea where Jess Fink’s little toy guitar came from – someone in the audience just handed it to her. A minion? I don’t know.

So, as you can see, there was a lot of stuff to see, and I barely saw most of it. Please refer to this, this, and this for the big picture. One of them even manages to capture a glimpse of us in the wild. Of course, only the few of you who know what Ben and I look like will be able to identify us in that photo. Consider it a perk.

Also, linking to lots of stuff makes me take quite a bit longer to finish a blog post than normal.

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Posted by Matt on February 9, 2011

Might be taking a break from the novel posts for a little bit. I guarantee you that it will be finished by the end of the month, or your money back.

Let’s get back to other fun: AOL is buying the Huffington Post. What happens when a desperate corporation with nothing to give to society at large combines with a ‘news’ website known mostly for pushing psuedo-scientific garbage championed by rich cunts? Apparently, some sort of Shit Voltron, here to use its magical Sword of Low-Quality to smite anything resembling journalism. Whoddathunk.

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Christmas Post 1/12

Posted by Matt on December 14, 2010

Well, it’s the holiday season again. Which gives me an excuse to try to post some things on a daily basis. 12 days, to be precise. Get it? 12 days of Christmas. Yeaaaaaaah.

The first thing about Christmas one should learn about is Krampus. Krampus is the monster friend/colleague of Santa Claus/Sinterklaas/Saint Nicholas in his homeland of Eastern Europe. Krampus is meant to be the stick in the carrot/stick dynamic, threatening children on the naughty list with blunt objects and rusty chains, or taking them away in a sack. Krampus is an awesome meeting point between pre-and-post Christian folklore in the region, and its a shame that the tradition has not caught on over here. Many Internet nerds, however, adore Krampus, and make sure to reference him every Christmas.

Other Christmas creeps in European folklore:

Belsnickle is, depending on where you are, either another companion of Santa Claus or his equivalent figure. He seems to be the basis for both Santa’s fuzzy costume and his love of stuffing stockings: Belsnickle either gave children socks full of candy, or coal. Sometimes he would also carry things to threaten violence like Krampus.

Black Peter/Zwarte Piet is the one who supposedly went down chimneys to deliver gifts, thus the source of his blackness. In early versions of the story, he was a demon enslaved by Saint Nicholas to show his conquest over evil. Since then, he has essentially become a gollywog, which is why some people may not be too comfortable with him around.

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Animals!

Posted by Matt on December 9, 2010

TEN NEW ANIMALS!
ANIMAL!
More Animal!
Another Animal!

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Posted by Matt on December 1, 2010

From this comes this.

I love the title ‘Mutant Ninja Turtles against those from parallel worlds’. Also ‘TMNT against the Privy Counsellor’.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by Matt on November 20, 2010

This is great; it’s every edition of the university I am currently attending’s yearbook, which ran for almost 60 years. After spending 4 months working at museum, I really am starting to appreciate local history like this a lot more; we all go through the phase, especially when you live in a smaller city like Brandon, where you think it would be more interesting anywhere but where you are. And while I’m not advocating the idea that Brandon, Manitoba (pop. 41,511) is secretly the hippest place in the country, there’s always got to be something there worth seeing.

So with this stuff now online, you can now see 6 decades as they appeared in the second largest city in Manitoba, and how all the kids used to dress and pose for pictures that are now viewable on the Internet.

And yes, we at the newspaper are currently trying to do the same thing for our history. The thing is 100 years old, after all.

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Posted by Matt on October 10, 2010

10 10s, 10-10-10

10 BC
A song from the Pearl Jam album Ten
Ten Dracula
Ghost Rider #10
Ten Little Rubber Ducks
The Tenth Animorphs is called ‘The Android’
Top Ten – kickboxing equipment
An article from ten years ago – Clinton to Sign China trade bill Tuesday
My tenth blog post
Silver Blast Goggles for $10

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Linkin shit

Posted by Matt on October 6, 2010

NPR Blog: In Praise of MODOK

The Best Batman villains part 1 and 2

Some people in Toronto are douchebags

Rick Sanchez is an idiot

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