Vanity Fair to Twitter: Get Off My Lawn!

During Christmas Dinner, I had to explain Twitter to my girlfriend’s father.

I don’t remember how it came up. It’s possible I did something bad and this was Lizz’s way of punishing me. I explained things slowly, tried to come up analogies that were accessible to a man in his sixties, but I don’t think he understood. He was okay with the technical process – he knows how to use a computer and a cellphone, he knows what a text message is – but I’m not sure he really got his mind around why people would actually do that sort of thing for fun, or how it would be useful for anyone.

I think he still could have written a better article about Twitter than the one Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote for Vanity Fair.

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Crazy People are Awesome Sometimes

We live in an overly litigous society. There are far too many lawsuits and not enough personal responsibility, and too many people make too much money from it for things to change. Some days, you just want to go and join a commune in the jungle somewhere.

And then someone gets so extreme and insane that you want to form an internet fanclub and mail him your underwear.

This guy, for example: Erik Estavillo is suing the maker of World of Warcraft for sneaky and deceptive practices, and for generally infringing on his right to pursue happiness. The game costs too much money, it has annoying features that take too much time, and it contributes to his sense of alienation.

But wait, it gets better. Better, even, than the fact that he’s already tried to sue Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for their alleged crimes against gamer humanity.

No, what truly makes this art – and is there a more 21st-century form of art in North America than the lawsuit? – is the celebrity portion of the lawsuit. Estavello wants to subpoena Martin Gore of Depeche Mode to testify as to the nature of alienation, “since he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated” in his songs.

Personally, I’d have subpoenaed Robert Smith. You could just play Disintegration for the court and totally win the case.

He also wants Winona Ryder as a witness, apparently because she really likes Catcher in the Rye. You’d think he could have worked Beetlejuice in there somehow, too.

I’m not dead yet

You know that thing little wise old men say about it being better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and prove it right? That’s kind of how I feel lately. I’d like to be blogging more, but I just got nothing. (I don’t even got no good grammar.) There’s been very little that’s said “Write about me!” lately, which leaves me with the option of blogging for the sake of blogging, and god knows the internet has enough of that without me contributing. I could post pictures of my cat, maybe? Would you like that sort of thing?

But it’s Spring, finally, and I feel like my brain may be turning itself back on, at least in the sort of ways that are relevant to my loyal readership. The weather’s looking crappy and I’ve got no plans for the weekend, so maybe some more serious thoughts soonish? Until then, a few random thoughts and observations.

  • I’ve been reading Warren Ellis’ Freakangels, and have quite enjoyed it, though I don’t always remember to check for new installments on Fridays. It’s fun Ellis-type stuff, a futuristic setting with a bunch of clever and snarky characters, though I don’t have any real in-depth observations yet – at 9 installments of 6 pages each, it’s only about 2-3 issues worth of paper comics, and has mostly been setup and introduction so far. Still, it’s fun stuff if you’re an Ellis fan, though unlikely to convert you if you aren’t. Paul Duffield’s art is quite nice, reminding me a bit of Josh Middleton.
  • Speaking of Ellis, I was going to post more about Doktor Sleepless, which I think has gotten particularly interesting. But that was, like, two months ago, and nothing. Bugger. But there’s a new issue out this week that I need to pick up, so maybe that’ll kickstart me a bit. I also need to pick up the first issue of Anna Mercury, which looks fun.
  • Is this just a blog about Warren Ellis? No, I think not. It’s also a blog about Blue Beetle, which holds the distinction of being the last book I actually posted about; the main realization that I’d been seriously neglecting my loyal readers came when I noticed my last post was about #24, and I had #25 in my hands. Youch.

    But still, #25 was fantastic, a great cap to John Rogers’ run on the book. Alas, it was also rather melancholy, since we don’t know when, or if, Rogers will return to the book he brought such life to. DC has the all-Spanish issue next, and a few issues by Will Pfeiffer coming up after that, but as far as I know haven’t announced any sort of actual plan for the book; not a good sign for a series that stumbles around the bottom of the sales chart. Still, the first 25 issues were good-to-great; Absolute Blue Beetle, anyone?

    (Yes, I realize that’s probably just me. It will look great on my shelf next to Absolute Shade the Changing Man.)

  • I’ve started listening to Nick Cave lately, after people telling me I probably should for the last five years or so. I have no specific observations beyond “pretty darn good” right now, other than that it’s pretty darn strange to hear Kylie Minogue singing about a girl who gets her head bashed in with a rock.
  • New Portishead! I am, like, the happiest guy on the planet right now. They were one of my favourite bands in high school and university, and one of the first real concerts I ever saw. There are many reasons to be nervous when a band disappears for nearly a decade and then comes out with a new album, but I am no longer apprehensive. I have given my heart to Beth Gibbons once again.
  • Brian Cronin has been doing a neat Comic Book Alphabet feature over at Comics Should Be Good, and I feel like I should steal his idea. But am I willing to commit to 26 posts on one theme? Will I look like a ninny, and not even a very original one, if I crap out somewhere around M? These are the things I worry about.

Stephen Fry Is My Hero

And we’re back, after a busy holiday season. Family, friends, moderate (and occasionally immoderate) amounts of alcohol… Of course, we’re not really back just yet, as this is going to be a fairly insubstantial post. With a ton of boxing-week purchases, I should have some stuff to review shortly, and some best-of-2007 lists I’ve mostly got organized in my head.

For now, though, I give you a glimpse of one of my favourite Christmas presents: The Complete A Bit of Fry & Laurie, an utterly brilliant sketch comedy show from around 1990 starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. And as much as I love Laurie – particularly on Blackadder – I must admit that it’s Fry who really shows off his brilliance. Take this bit, for example:

There are simply no other human beings who would attempt to write and perform such a sketch in a relatively mainstream comedy show. It’s absurd, and yet it actually makes sense.

You may see the genius, or you may just realize (if you hadn’t already) that I am a huge nerd who thinks weird and boring things that make no sense are somehow funny.

Julbock is Back: Goatwatch 2007

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m absolutely fascinated by Julbock: A giant straw goat that’s erected in the Swedish town of Gavle every December, and is burnt down nearly every year.

I just find it so incredibly awesome that this town has built an entire tradition around building a giant goat and then spending a month trying to repel arsonists and pyromaniacs. Why are Scandanavians so cool? Why can’t we do anything this bizarre and traditional in Canada? We have plenty of giant stuff we could destroy – geese, nickels, cows, apples. Are we too reverential, or do we just lack initiative?

Anyway. A newly flame-retardant Julbock miraculously survived 2006 after what the website refers to as a “pyromaniac attack”, which is also just awesome; the town clearly has a sense of humour about this. (or at least the translator does; he or she keeps using the word “impregnated”, which can’t be quite right.) He’s back for 2007, better than ever: You can watch the goat on a live webcam. (He doesn’t do much. But you might get lucky and see a pyromaniac attack.)

Perhaps most bizarrely, the goat has a blog. No, really. And like many bloggers, he’s a bit whiny:

41 years old and single. At least I don’t live with my mum any longer. But I do have a top secret address 11 month per year. And who will find me there??? I thought that my fame might help, but no… I’m as lonely as ever. Maybe you know some nice female goat?

Is this not the most awesome thing ever? I know Christmas has been overcommercialized, but this is truly what the holiday season should be about: Building a giant goat and setting up a pretend blog for it while you wait for pyromaniacs and arsonists to set fire to it.

I am so moving to Sweden one of these days.

Live From Afghanistan

A long time ago, in a city far, far away, I did my undergrad degree in journalism. The only thing this really taught me was that I do not, under any circumstances, want to be a journalist. Many people have this reaction to the program.

Some, however, actually do become journalists. One of those is my friend Kelly, who’s probably one of the most generally awesome people I know. She’s been working for the Calgary Herald, and she was recently sent on assignment to Afghanistan for six weeks. It’s pretty amazing.

She’s doing a blog while she’s there, in addition to regular stories. Check it out.

Finally, the internet produces something useful

Stephen Fry has a blog.

It is a must-read, though perhaps not an all-in-one-sitting read, particularly if you have a job or a life to attend to.

This week he discusses fame, both his own and others. As one might expect, he is very clever:

Is it fun? Or, as student journalists always ask, what’s it like? ‘What’s it like working with Natalie Portman, what’s it like doing QI, what’s it like being famous?’ I don’t know what it is like. What is being English like? What is wearing a hat like? What’s eating Thai red curry like? I don’t believe that I can answer any question formulated that way. So, student journalists, tyro profilers and rooky reporters out there, seriously, quite seriously never ask a ‘what’s it like’ question, it instantly reveals your crapness. I used to try getting surreal when asked the question and say things like ‘being famous is like wearing blue pyjamas at the opera. It’s like kissing Neil Young, but only on Wednesdays. It’s like a silver disc gummed to the ear of a wolverine. It’s like licking crumbs from the belly of a waitress called Eileen. It’s like lemon polenta cake but slightly wider. It’s like moonrise on the planet Posker.’ I mean honestly. What’s it like?? Stop it at once.

He is also fairly vicious:

Dan Whatsit and his preposterously awful Leonardo book are actually relevant to our theme. I usually last longer with any best-selling novel, however pathetic, than I did with his. But in his case I knew from the very first word that this was a writer of absolutely zero interest, insight, wit, understanding or ability. A blunderer of monumental incompetence. The first word, can you credit it, is ‘renowned’. ‘Renowned symbologist Henry Titfeather ….’ or something equally drivelling, that’s how this dreadful book opens. How do you begin to explain to someone that you just don’t start a fictional story by telling your readers that your character is ‘renowned’? You show it, you don’t tell it.

Go read. You will enjoy, unless you’re for some reason put off by very smart, literate, and funny people.

(And if you were, you wouldn’t be reading this blog, right? Right? Anyone?)

And we’re back!

Two weeks of vacation are finally over. A relaxing week at the cottage, followed by a few days in Halifax, a couple days biking along the coast of Nova Scotia, and an awesome wedding that involved a couple of canoes and the best-trained dog I’ve ever seen.

And now I’m back. Back at work (yuck!), but back to blogging (yay! Well, you should be excited, anyway.) Oh, and I also had a great time at TCAF, got an awesome commission from Jim Rugg, and bought a bunch of books I might get around to reviewing soon. So yay some more! On top of that, the Toronto Film Festival starts this week, so hopefully I’ll be seeing some good movies and sharing my opinions with you, loyal readers!

Yes, I’ve apparently brought a lot of exclamation marks back with me. Don’t know how they slipped through airport security.

While we wait for regular programming to resume, enjoy a few photos of Nova Scotia.

Blandford in Fog

Night View of Chester Basin

Fishing Town on Aspotagan Peninsula