Archive for March, 2013

XKCD’s Time

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

It’s easy to assume that everyone in the world follows Randall Munroe’s geeky online stickman webcomic XKCD, since it seems all my friends do. For those that don’t, last Monday he put up a strip called “Time.” This strip, like his uber-large “Click-and-Drag”, plays with the conventions of the form. “Time” started out with a static, non-gag image with the hover-over label “wait for it.” Since then, he’s updated the image every half-hour to an hour, even though he’s done new strips on the usual M-W-F schedule. If you follow the images in order, “Time” shows two people (which XKCD devotees have dubbed “Cueball” and “Megan”) building a sand castle.

Here’s an animated gif of the images so far:

Here’s a quicker version, which you can also step through, speed up, slow down, etc.

Here’s the explanation page for it, as well as its own Wikia. We now have a real-life version of those people obsessively tracking online image snippets from Pattern Recognition, except we actually know who they’re from.

The obvious metaphor is how time continues to flow and things change when you’re not watching.

As of this writing, the images are still being updated. Munroe could keep updating that one comic for a long, long, er, time, especially if he decreases the update rate.

Conceivably, “Time” could be a long-running conceptual art project and keep updating for the rest of our lives, and beyond, like that German church playing John Cage’s “As Slowly as Possibly” for 629 years…

Shoegazer Sunday: Pastel Blue’s “Ariel”

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Another Sunday, another obscure Japanese Shoegaze band. This time it’s Pastel Blue with “Ariel.”

A lot of people compare them to Slowdive, and this songs tells you way.

Shatner vs. Gorn II

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Brilliant on a whole lot of levels:

One funny thing: The video game obviously has Kirk 2.0 rather than the Shatner version.

I suspect that someday Shatner’s later commercials may come to be seen as one of his most substantial bodies of work…

Bookshelf Porn

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Panorama from the Benediktinerstift Admont Bibliotek and Museum in Austria.

I could look at this for a long, long time…

Dispatches From Other Outposts of Bibliomania

Monday, March 25th, 2013

My own bibliomania is well documented. But every now and then I stumble across instances of bibliomania in others. Some are completely orthogonal to my own, while others have some overlap.

One with a bit of overlap is Awful Books, the page of a collector who has a fair amount of science fiction, fantasy, and horror works. However, Mr. Awful (the owner’s name is not readily apparent on the website) seems to be interested far less in the writing content than the physical quality and presentation of limited and ultralimited editions, which he details and reviews with copious pictures.

And here’s his own collection of limited editions. Including not only comics and artbooks I would never contemplate buying, but even Danielle Steel limited editions (“I bought for a song on eBay [about $15.00 each]”).

And while I’m not a big fan of post-first edition limiteds, I must admit that Hill House lettered edition of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is off the charts. (“Yo dawg, we heard you like traycases, so we created a traycase to hold your traycase.”)

Another example of bibliomania a little more closely aligned to my own madness preferences is Mike Berro’s Vance Tracker. “This page is dedicated to tracking the location of every special edition of books by Jack Vance. Primarily limited editions, but also rare trade editions, uncorrected proofs, and manuscripts.”

I’ve corresponded with Mike for well over a decade on our shared bibliomania (for Vance and others), and he was one of the driving forces behind the Vance Integral Edition. The tracker is well worth looking at if your Vance bibliomania pegs at “fanatic.”

Shoegazer Sunday: Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Antennas to Heaven”

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

I’ve tried listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor before, but nothing clicked until I chanced across “Antennas to Heaven,” the fourth track from Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. The first four minutes are sort of random sound assemblage, but after that there are several extremely interesting segments, recalling everything from the end of “Layla” to Mike Oldfield’s Hergest Ridge, with a lot of tasty gaze and post-rock in-between.

And the entire album seems to be on YouTube as well:

23 Akira Kurosawa Films Streaming Free This Weekend

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

The Criterion Collection has put up 23 of Akira Kurosawa’s films up for streaming free this weekend in celebration of Kurosawa’s March 23 birthday.

They’ve also put up some extras from the Criterion discs. Of science fictional interest: George Lucas on Hidden Fortress.

Library Additions: Thomas Ligotti’s The Agonizing Death of Victor Frankenstein

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Another interesting library addition:

Ligotti, Thomas. The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein & Other Gothic Tales. Silver Salamander Press, 1994. First edition hardback, number 116 of 125 hardback copies, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket, with small black and white art plate laid in. Bought for $200, marked down from $400, from the Half Price Books on 183 with their 50% off coupon (I showed up when the door opened). Probably the rarest Ligotti hardback. (Evidently the hardback state of The Silver Scarab Press edition of Songs From a Dead Dreamer is spurious; proof yet again you can’t completely trust Chalker & Ownings.)

Two Jack Vance Rarities

Monday, March 18th, 2013

I was recently able to pick up two rare Jack Vance first editions, one of them one of his most difficulty hardbacks, the other a recent chapbook not even my hardcore Jack Vance collecting friends had heard of.

  • Vance, Jack (writing as Ellery Queen). Four Men Called John. Gollancz Detection, 1976. First hardback edition a Fine- copy in a Fine- dust jacket with a tiny bit of crimping at head, and a few faint invisible, non-breaking surface scratches. Hewett, A14j. Actually, Jerry Hewett was the one who picked this up for me, since he knew I was looking for it…

  • Vance, Jack. The Avatar’s Apprentice. Sadlark Press, 2011. First edition chapbook, number 18 of 30 copies printed from photopolymer plates, a Fine copy, new and unread. According to the publisher “I collected all the excerpts from the five Demon Princes novels that dealt with the Avatar’s Apprentice: Scroll from the Ninth Dimension, and put them into one book. I letterpress printed, illustrated, and hand bound an edition of thirty-five. I used photopolymer to print all the text and images in this book.” I’ve confirmed with the publisher via email that the edition is actually the 30 stated on the limitation page at back.

    Not in any standard online reference sources. I found it via a Google image search for “Jack Vance chapbooks”. I can’t help thinking that this is going to drive some Jack Vance completists absolutely bonkers.

  • John Belushi on The Luck of the Irish

    Sunday, March 17th, 2013

    Another bit for St. Patrick’s Day: The late, great John Belushi on “The Luck of the Irish”:

    Watch more video from the Top Picks channel on Frequency

    Belushi’s frothing editorials were always among the highlights of the original Saturday Night Live cast. I wish they’d put all of them on a single DVD, maybe paired with the Samurai skits, or else the Ackroyd/Curtain Point/Counterpoint bits.

    (Video updated as of 6 PM, March 17, 2014)