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Friday, August 31, 2001

Someone is a werewolf. Someone ... in this very room.
Werewolf is a simple game for a large group of people (seven or more.) Two of the players are secretly werewolves. They are trying to slaughter everyone in the village. Everyone else is an innocent human villager, but one of the villagers is a seer (can detect lycanthropy). Some people call it a party game, but it's a game of accusations, lying, bluffing, second-guessing, assassination, and mob hysteria. Sounds like a blast to me. [via metafilter]

I recently participated in a similar game called "The Mole" in which there are two teams which are trying to complete certain tasks, except that there's a sabateur (a "mole") on each team. Of course, my team emerged victorious, thanks mostly to a brilliant strategy in the opening round, resulting in a commanding lead for my team. The other team became a little bitter about that, as evidenced by this highly biased, but also hilarious mock review of the event (I am the one referred to as "Mark" in said review).
Posted by Mark on August 31, 2001 at 02:37 PM .: link :.



Monday, August 27, 2001

Dark Tower V
Prologue: Calla Bryn Sturgis by Stephen King : A preview of the highly anticipated forthcoming volume of King's Dark Tower series. An interesting entry; its plot is higly reminiscent of Kurosawa's classic film, Seven Samurai, though I've yet to figure out if that's a good thing. In his words, King is "hoping to press on to the very end and publish the remaining volumes all at the same time. That probably means three books, one of them fairly short and one of the other two quite long." This strikes me as joyous news, but I can't help feeling apprehension - for I've never known King to end his stories all that well (just look at the ending to The Waste Lands). However, if the new novels continue the successive exponential increase in quality and intelligence that the first four have established (especially in the last volume, Wizard and Glass), we'll certainly be in for a treat. Only time and Ka will tell. Ka like a wind...
Posted by Mark on August 27, 2001 at 11:09 AM .: link :.



Friday, August 17, 2001

Gone Fishin
I won't be around much for the next week or so, for I have courageously volunteered to brave tropical storms, typhoid, cholera, dengie fever, tsetse fly disease, and those worms that drill into your leg and grow to a length of nine feet in order to investigate the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle (aka, the Devil's Triangle). There are lots of theories on the mysterious phenomenon, but I intend to find out what really goes on there (my favourite theory: Cthulhu "lies not dead, but dreaming in the under water city of of R'lye" which is probably somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle).

Anyway, while I'm gone, you can entertain yourselves by conversing with the "friendly" folk of the Kaedrin Forum, or even by contributing to one of the four ongoing Tandem Stories (a form of interactive storytelling in which each successive paragraph is written by a different author). If you like those stories, try this Choose Your Own Adventure story, which is also quite fun.
Posted by Mark on August 17, 2001 at 08:46 AM .: link :.



Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Greatest Hits
The Mob is an American business institution. Killing people is just part of the business, but it's a very costly part. Cops look the other way for burglary or hijacking, but not for murder. The press and the public don't generally tolerate this sort of thing, and yet, those very murders that bring the most powerful wrath of law enforcement and public scrutiny down on the Mob are responsible for their greatest cultural legacy. [Warning: graphic images ahead - proceed at your own risk] Who can forget the picture of Carmine Gallante sprawled on a restaurant floor, cigar in his mouth? Or the bloody picture of Ben "Bugsy" Siegal, his face pretty much blown off? These infamous Mafia hits stick in our consciousness longer than any degree of bootlegging or hijacking ever could

Update: Removed links to images because Google images was acting funny.
Posted by Mark on August 15, 2001 at 09:25 AM .: link :.



Tuesday, August 14, 2001

NIN Naming Conventions
While rifling through one of my old backup cds, I found the following image which describes the rather humorous way in which Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) names his numerous hard drives, filenames, and programs:

NIN naming conventions
Posted by Mark on August 14, 2001 at 11:56 PM .: link :.



Monday, August 13, 2001

American Writing Today
A Diagnosis of the Disease by William T. Vollmann : An interesting article about the woes of humanity, and how best to set things right (through art). A bit remeniscent of Orwell's Politics and the English Language, Vollman puts forth some good rules on how to write with a sense of purpose. He also touches on people's tendency to treat the symptoms instead of the actual causes. As a country we have become reactionary to specific events, but not wide trends, blaming miniscule influences for major catastrophies. Does anyone really think something like Columbine happens solely because of the music two kids listened to? Its something I've been noticing a lot lately, and it really suprises me how pervasive the idea is. Anyway, I've been meaning to pick up one of Vollman's books, but its pretty low down in the book queue and my spare time is dwindling, so it probably won't happen anytime soon. I hear he's a... strange... fellow.
Posted by Mark on August 13, 2001 at 12:50 PM .: link :.



Thursday, August 09, 2001

If U.S. education was a horse, it would be taken out back and shot
A total recall on schools by Arianna Huffington : "If it were a product, it would have been recalled. If it were a politician, it would have been impeached. If it were a horse, it would have been taken behind the barn and shot." She cites a few examples, including the story of Nancy Goldberg and Curt Mortenson, who are being punished for making their high school's AP English program too successful. This isn't very comforting, though I don't think the majority of schools are in trouble. It comes down to the poor, inner-city schools that are really in trouble. Some reform is definitely needed, but perhaps a recall is a bit harsh... [via wood s lot]
Posted by Mark on August 09, 2001 at 11:59 AM .: link :.



Wednesday, August 08, 2001

The Holy Filament
Some assorted links for your enjoyment:
  • Bill Hicks - A comedian who tried to make people laugh, but usually ended up pissing them off, or drawing blank stares.Born in 1961, Hicks died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32, just as he was peaking. His thoughts on advertising: "By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. No, this is not a joke: kill yourself . . . I know what the marketing people are thinking now too: 'Oh. He's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market.' Oh man, I am not doing that, you fucking evil scumbags." He's funny.
  • Lego: a Machine for Living - Interesting article proposing a lego-like, modular system for building houses. It makes sense, too. Can a modular system give you more freedom than something that is totally custom (considering limited resources)?
  • The Eye of Argon - Reputedly the worst science fiction story ever written. I concur. Check out this page to see if the story got any better when translated back and forth by a language translation system
  • Just who WAS Dr. Strangelove, really? - "Strangelove is such a potent character - twisted, coldly rational, his mechanical arm likely to spring into a SEIG HEIL at the slightest provocation - that many people have speculated on who Strangelove might be 'based' on."
Its getting harder and harder to find good links. Of course, it doesn't help that I've also been getting more and more picky when selecting what to post. That, in addition to many happenings in my personal life, is why the updates have slowed considerably in the recent past. Just so you know, I think posting good entries is more important than posting every day, so don't be suprised if I go a week without updating or something...
Posted by Mark on August 08, 2001 at 09:46 AM .: link :.



Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Cerebus the Aardvark
The Man Behind the Aardvark: Dave Sim created an influential and prolific comic book series called Cerebus the Aardvark. "When I started Cerebus in 1977, uppermost in my mind was the thought that i wanted to produce 300 issues if a comic book series the way i thought it should be done; as one continuous story documenting the ups and downs of a character's life." Few comic book series ever reach the 300-issue mark, and those that do are usually backed by big publishers, star big-name superheroes, and are written and drawn by scores of different artists over the years. Cerebus, a black & white comic, is written, penciled and inked by Sim (with some help from a friend named Gerhard). Its also self-published, giving him complete control over his creation. In the past few decades, the character of Cerebus has gone from being a barbarian to a politician to a pope. During one story arc, Cerebus became a supporting character; in fact, nearly a year went by in which the title character didn't appear in his own comic book! These are the sort of things you can do when you have publishing freedom and 300 issues with which to tell a story.

Say what you will about the man's thoughts or philosophy (he's regarded as somewhat of an infamous misogynist), but you have to admire the man's initiative, dedication and resolve. He hasn't reached the crucial 300th issue just yet (the series is planned to end sometime in 2004), but the final story arc has begun and shows no signs of slowing down.
Posted by Mark on August 07, 2001 at 03:05 PM .: link :.



Monday, August 06, 2001

Subjective Objectivity
There's No Such Thing as a Bad Movie. "While the title of this piece mentions movies, it really applies to any medium of expression. Artworks are not good or bad. They simply are what they are, and you have a personal, subjective reaction when exposed to them." The author makes some interesting points, many of which parallel my views on criticism. However, I also think there is a certain degree of objectivity one can achieve when reviewing a film; ironically, this is achieved through subjectivity. Much like the Reflexive school of documentary filmmaking, a critic exposes their own bias, thus making the reader aware of the review's subjective nature. This makes it easier for a reader to judge whether or not they will like the movie. After all, as the author points out, disliking a film doesn't necessarily make it an invalid experience. Still, it is a subjective process, but keeping that in mind helps a lot (after all, is it even possible to be completely objective?). Regardless, I think I may be revisiting some of my reviews in the future...
Posted by Mark on August 06, 2001 at 10:08 AM .: link :.



Thursday, August 02, 2001

Meesa No Watch
The Man Who Knew Too Much About Jar Jar, a videofilm by Chris Mich : Directing and starring in the feature is Chris Mich (director of another good short, Bathroom Boardroom) alongside Josh Taback (writer for The Simpsons). The film is a bit slow at first, but it moves towards an unexpected, unforgettable and moving climax (make sure you watch the whole thing!) An avid Star Wars fan irritates his friend with excessive knowledge and love of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. Drastic measures are taken to silence him. A hilarious and brilliant homage to both Star Wars and Francis Ford Coppola, this videofilm illustrates some of the points in the below post (namely, the poor conditions under which it must be viewed: a tiny, realplayer screen).
Posted by Mark on August 02, 2001 at 08:30 AM .: link :.



Wednesday, August 01, 2001

Blurred boundaries
Beyond Miramax by Jesse Walker : Due to the ease with which one can now edit their own videos, the boundaries between the home movie and the independent film have blurred.
Many articles have been written about one sort of indie-film success story: the "young," "scrappy" "maverick" whose Internet short or ultra-low-budget tape gets viewed by the right Hollywood exec, allowing the fresh-faced filmmaker to vault over those barriers and land a job assembling dream-widgets. This is not such a piece. This is about the moviemakers who don�t want Hollywood jobs, or at least don�t want them on Hollywood terms -- about people trying to find ways around the distribution bottleneck, and the audiences that are tentatively coalescing around them.
Not suprisingly, the internet contains a vibrant virtual community of filmmakers and a horde of online movies. The most successful filmmakers are pornographers, but if alternative cinema consisted only of porn, it wouldn�t be worth writing about. Some net flicks even star well-known actors or are helmed by well-known directors. (Tim Burton, for example, has made a series of online animated shorts called Stainboy.) There are also a huge volume of fan communities devoted to Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other movies and TV series that put out spoofs, sequels, and tributes (not to mention infamous edits). The biggest problem with these internet films is the quality of the picture and the conditions under which it must be viewed (a tiny screen within a screen, huge bandwith requirements, etc...) Other available avenues are equally problematic, but these filmmakers have little or no interest in reaching a mass market, so its limited distribution isn't as big a deal...
Posted by Mark on August 01, 2001 at 03:13 PM .: link :.



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