Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Brand, Freaking New Oak Street Park Hippie Burn T-Shirts

Specially designed for this year's big event, new Hippie Burn T-Shirts are available in the RF store. These are our finest designs yet and are extra-hot in honor of the hottest celebration on the planet.

If you have been eyeing the so-called "Flaming Shaggy" t-shirts at all, now is your last chance EVER to get them in the full-color edition. A one tone edition will be available at a later date, but these color ones really are quite sharp in person.

Also, any gamers out there may notice the addition of the first in what will eventually be a set of 3 "OMGWTF" t-shirts. Now is your chance to impress the ladies (or gents) with your inane knowledge of l33t acronym jumbles (not later).

All the new items are being offered at no mark-up for the time-being.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Underpass Virgin : No Wonder She Weeps

An icon of the Virgin Mary has appeared under the Kennedy Expressway, which is definitely cryptic but certainly popular.

For those who, like me, have incredible trouble deciphering the supernatural appearance, I have put together a viewing guide from the above AP photo which I think most clearly portrays the thing (and I swear to the Blessed Mother that I haven't altered the image in anyway):

But wait! There's something else going on here. To the right of the Virgin Mary is a cartoon bubble, so to speak:


No wonder she weeps.

All of the Men are Dead

With B.P.R.D. done for a while but me still finding myself in the comics shop waiting for new issues of Joss Whedon's run of Astonishing X-Men to pop up (and also a big $1 sale this past week), I've stumbled into a few comics series worthy of note.

I did pick up an issue of Street Fighter, and I have to admit... I like it. There are special edition covers for this series that are unquestionably frameable for anyone who grew up through the 16-bit era of video gaming. A yoga-flaming Dhalism in bronzing foil finish is truly a thing of beauty. Indeed, it does not stop there. Inside though, the comic manages to capture the spirit (in all its absurdity and grace) of the games. There's certainly an effort to tie all the characters together in some type of sensible plot, but there doesn't seem to be any hesitation to have a couple random characters brawl simply to prove who is the greatest fighter.

Also of note is the fairly new underground series Wanted, which is an edgy coming-of-age/armageddon comic about super-villains launching a gang war against each other after killing off all the super heroes in the world. Sure, that sounds cool, but hang on half a second as I reveal to you one of its supporting villains: Shithead. Shithead is made of the fecal matter of the 666 most evil people from history. And, if that doesn't convince you to read Wanted... nothing will.

But the book I simply cannot stop thinking about is Y: The Last Man, the story of a "plague" which has wiped out everything on Earth with a Y chromosone. The series completely relies on its story to propel the reader; there is nothing particularly flashy about its art or action. One of the things I really loved about Buffy the Vampire Slayer was that by the time it had run its course it had practically exhausted the vampire mythos, approaching it from just about every direction one could imagine, from straight gothic horror to metaphorical satire to whatever else. What the crew of Y is doing with its series is reminiscent of that. If it could happen in a world with only one man, it will probably happen in Y. Despite its simple framework and pacing, it is an expansive exploration of a worst case scenario everyone has played with briefly in their heads. I highly, highly encourage you to pick up the first book or in the very least enjoy the first issue in pdf form here.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Real Ultimate Power

I just noticed that Gallery Nucleus has images from their recent ninja-themed art show up at their website. What better way to spend an early April afternoon than with some ninja appreciation?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

In regards to The Office (US):

I haven't seen the pilot yet but downloaded the Diversity Day episode on recommendations and really enjoyed it. I thought it managed to catch the same low-key edginess of the British series with the social commentary/parody being a bit more, so-to-speak, American.

"Abraham Lincoln once said that if you're a racist, I will attack you with the North," says Steve Carell at one point during the apex of the episode (an attempt of Carell's Michael Scott to better an earlier-in-the-day diversity training session). When Scott began handing out secret notecards for some racial roleplaying, I laugh/cringed in the same way I did during David Brent's antics from the original.

I dunno. As much as it's just a remix of a British show, it's still sharper and more innovative than any other sitcom on the networks (Arrested Development excepted). While it's less subtle and realist than the UK version, the US series operates with some subtlety and doesn't try to package the script. If fans of the original can get over the fact that it's not the original, they'll probably appreciate at least this second episode.

Hopefully, the series grows and can be successful. Yeah, though, there are two different trends that could develop... the networks more willing to take risks with nonstandard programming or a cartoonish percentage of UK>US remixes. It's unfortunate that the latter is more likely, but at least some good will come of it.

Does Wikipedia know no bounds?

The newest version of all-inclusive messaging program Trillian underlines various words and names, which will reveal (upon rolling your cursor over them) a brief Wikipedia entry on that subject. Perfect for pretending to understand cryptic friends and carrying on conversations about things you know nothing about.

These truly are mighty times.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Leetspeak and teh Secret Funs of Wikipedia

One of my secret hobbies is reading Wikipedia entries on subculture vernacular.

More on this shortly, but first a sidetrack.

Subcultures are things I have feared greatly. This comes from developing photographs and, specifically, developing photographs of swim meets. Perhaps the most accurate way to express my dread is to say I have feared the competitive swimming subculture. I cannot understand people who dwell around pools of chlorinated water with stopwatches and nachos from inherently wet concession stands. This lack of empathy results in fear: a fear so great that it spills beyond its walls and results in a frightened perspective of all subcultures.

It warms me not when I discover I am a participating member of various, albeit non-competitive-swimming, subcultures.

Back to the subject at hand:

Being a part of the so-called "gaming" subculture, I am capable of writing in and comprehending the twisted dialect known as Leetspeak. Popular usage of Leetspeak is different from most dialects in that much of its life comes from satire of the broken, unsystematic way in which 13-year-olds post to internet forums. Leetspeak, as it exists in the non-13-year-old linguo-sphere, does however have a fairly regulated grammar. There is also fairly detailed and precise etymology.

Now, this is often funny to Leetspeakers and the public at large since the dialect is based in obfuscation of standard grammar; it's like a less cutesy Pig Latin. For instance, I might tell another leetspeaker (or let slip in a conversation based in normality), "y0 d00d d1s 5h1zZ47 R0Xx0rzZ!!!!!11" and that would be perfectly understood. The world of leetspeak is one where "the" becomes "teh", "own" becomes "pwn", "you" becomes "j00", and extraneous exclamation marks metamorphose into "111" or even better "oneoneelven". Mispellings and mis-hit keys today become prescribed grammar tomorrow.

Since there is a history and form to all of this, it's possible for linguists to write seriously about this bizarre, satirical form of written communication. In fact, not only is it possible, it's been done. Wikipedia (quite possibly man's greatest invention to date) features lengthy, elaborate and scholarly studies on leetspeak and its most popular terms. It's at once hilarious and enlightening. As such, Wikipedia has become a consuming diversion for me while not geeking it up in internet/gaming communities. Some examples within:

On Teh:
Besides being an alternate spelling of the, teh also has grammatical properties not generally applied to the. It can be used with proper names, as in "teh John"; compare the usage of the definite article in Greek: ο Ιωαννης, literally "the John". A similar usage comes from German, where the definite article is used as a specifier to modify the noun: "Der Johann"...

On Pwn:
Some people believe that the word was originally a contraction of the term "power-owned", "pure ownage", "pistol-owned", "perfectly owned", "ping-owned", "player-owned", "professionally owned," or "properly owned". These are probably back-formations.

On Luser:
This word was coined around 1975 at MIT. Under ITS, when you first walked up to a terminal at MIT and typed Control-Z to get the computer's attention, it printed out some status information, including how many people were already using the computer; it might print "14 users", for example. Someone thought it would be a great joke to patch the system to print "14 losers" instead. There ensued a great controversy, as some of the users didn't particularly want to be called losers to their faces every time they used the computer. For a while several hackers struggled covertly, each changing the message behind the back of the others; any time you logged into the computer it was even money whether it would say "users" or "losers". Finally, someone tried the compromise "lusers", and it stuck.

The fun goes on for hours and hours and hours.

I am not an intern in New York, but...

...this guy is, for The Daily Show, something I'd love to do in another plane of existence but I just don't have the want/need/desire to live in NYC in this one.

Anyway, you won't here me say I like people too too often, but I generally like this guy and while I work on getting my act together it's a decent place to check for some inkling of regularity.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Season 3 : The One Volume Edition

So, I'm back. Yeah, it's been a few months and our burgeoning readership has surely left this blog for other more active pursuits. This means that [you] are getting in on this thing at square one once again. Excitement pours through [your] veins, delivered by obscure glands placed by genetic minions in a past age.

To explain my absence, I really have no excuse, but I will tell you some stories about Chicagoans and Winter that may or may not be true:

A. Chicagoans hate weather that includes anything falling from the sky. If it comes from above, it must be acid or ice-nine. In other places, it is true: rain and snow will cause people to operate with more caution. In this city, though, we choose to simply operate at the lowest level required for survival when the skies open their drain pipes; in many cases, this consists of not-functioning. If the world were the Matrix Reloaded, other weather-embattled cities like Minneapolis would be a cave rave orgy; Chicago would be Neo and Trinity walking off to their apartment pod. This is escalated by:

B. Gas bills suck. Chicagoans live in poorly insulated buildings with archaic furnaces. In late summer when we should be replacing windows and completing annual maintenance to heating units, we are out wandering lakefront parks, streets and air-conditioned shops, baking under a sun that makes us forget Winter ever happened. So, when It finally arrives, we act sideswiped by humbling gas bills for minimally heated living spaces. The direct result, of course, is that we are substantially poorer in the winter time.

That said, the Coming of Spring is an event of tremendous revitalization for both the soul and the wallet and, in turn, the soul again. The promise of roaming glowing neighborhoods through warm but breezy midnights and of barrelling through pedestrians crossing the bikepath to go swimming is all the pituitary you'd ever need.

So, ya. Another season of this blog is upon us. If that makes any sense at all.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The BIG GAME is Here

Predictions for Super Bowl Sunday:

Terrell Owens receptions: zero

Troy Brown interceptions: one

Crappiest tasting beer commercial: Budweiser Select

Number of times Belichick is referred to as a "genius": eight

Refernces to Patriots' dynasty: eleven

Farting horses: zero

Paul McCartney's Playlist: Twist and Shout, Band on the Run, Maybe I'm Amazed, Hey Jude

New England 35, Philly 24

MVP: Corey Dillon