An inspired safety series

I happened to catch one of a LA Metro’s “Safety begins with you” ads on streaming, and they look very familiar.

See more of the same on YouTube.

I guess someone liked my cartoons.


Simulacra explained through MS Word

In the chapter Simulacra and Simulations of his Selected Writings, Jean Baudrillard offers an analysis of simulacra — a representational image without an original — which I believe can be applied to icons. In particular, Microsoft Word’s stupid save icon:

simulacra of a diskette

As Baudrillard explains:

These would be the four successive phases of the image:

  1. It is the reflection of a basic reality.
  2. It masks and perverts a basic reality.
  3. It masks the absence of a basic reality.
  4. It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.

Using Baudrillard’s explanation, let’s describe the life cycle of the save icon in MS Word:

  1. Clicking this icon indicates you are saving your file to a 3.5″ floppy diskette.
  2. You are saving a file, but you’re more likely saving to an internal hard disk, and not a floppy.
  3. Floppy disks are supplanted by Zip disks, until removable media’s decline around the end of the century. No one uses floppy disks.
  4. Files are saved to hard drives, stored in the cloud, or on Dropbox. The only removable media in regular use is the USB stick. The floppy disk icon remains a symbol only of itself.

And this is how Word’s save icon became a simulacra — to represent nothing.


The making of my MFA directing application

Here’s how I took a Mac SE/30, a 30-year-old impact printer, a disused VCR and some extraordinary effort to create my MFA directing application, and how nearly everything went wrong.


The blog is dead.

I’m not saying this blog, but the concept is on its way out.*

Just as Facebook will go to its long goodnight as its users go to other sites, some leaving because they just want to make pithy comments passing other peoples’ content around, share photos of their lunch, or turn the idea of a newsletter inside-out, there are better sites for all these things than one’s own blog, and each of them comes with a strength the independent blog does not: a built-in community. Unless you’re one of my five friends, or came across this site looking for an (increasingly outdated) way to customize the RSS output of a Drupal feed, then odds are you aren’t even reading this.

I’m the man in the high castle, the fool on the hill, who built a fortress around himself, and wondered why no one ever visited.

But don’t worry… as per my habit, I’m behind the times — I haven’t even listened to ArtPop yet — so I figure still has a few years left in it.

*Todd would say this sentiment itself is outmoded.


Mute is not Mute

I thought it was an inconsiderate lout, but we can blame bad UI for stopping a symphony at the New York Philharmonic.

The author of the post argues, I think correctly, “for silencing everything when you mute the phone” but then Daring Fireball runs with it, making the case that mute means mute only some things.

A wrongheaded idea all around, and not only because this muddies the very meaning of the mute switch. If we lived in a world where mute on my stereo mutes everything but the vocals, mute on my TV turned off everything but the commercials, and mute on my laptop speakers muted everything but email alerts, then you might have something.

Gruber argues “there’d be thousands of people oversleeping every single day because they went to bed the night before unaware that the phone was still in silent mode.” Hyperbolic to be sure, but I hear no similar plea for the thousands of calls missed because people were unaware their phone was in silent mode.

And how should users mute their alarms for “edge cases” like going to the symphony, or a movie, or a lecture, or a quiet dinner? By disabling the alarms individually? What of the “thousands of people oversleeping every single day” because they went to bed the night before forgetting they disabled their phone’s alarm?

Hmm… if only there were a simple hardware switch for turning all the phone’s sounds on or off!


2011 in Lego

Taken from The Guardian’s 2011 in Lego. You’ll notice the protestors are all aliens.


Farscape will be out on Blu-Ray

RadNerd says a Blu-Ray set of the entire Farscape series will drop on 11/15 at a price of $200. I’m excited because this is the set I’ve been waiting for, and not just because it means I can replace my original collection of 42 discs currently filling an entire drawer.

This is a pleasant surprise, since as I was told before, it would be cost-prohibitive for Henson to release Farscape in high-definition.

Now, when will Farscape HD be on Netflix streaming or the iTunes store…??


“The Universe” Bingo Card

After years of watching The Discovery Channel, I feel like I’ve at last acquired a 10th-grade understanding of astrophysics, so even one of these is usually enough for me to change the channel.


Eek! the Cat’s last life

Like many cultured cartoon geeks my age, I have been waiting patiently for Eek! the Cat to come out on DVD, so that I might recapture the halcyon days of the early 90s watching the best thing on Fox Kids.

You won't see a cat getting sucked into a jet intake on Saturday mornings anymore

I asked writer/director “Savage” Steve Holland about the fate of Eek at Cinefamily’s recent double-feature of Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer, and learned that Disney had bought the entire lineup of Fox Kids cartoons — including our beloved show. However, Eek! the Cat is too “politically incorrect” for Disney (see above pic) and it has remained incarcerated in the Disney vault for the last two decades, no doubt to languish on a shelf between Song of the South and Education for Death. It was a delightfully freakish show with a great voice cast including Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons), Gary Owens (Laugh-In), Tawny Kitaen (that Whitesnake video), and Cam Clarke (everything, including the voice of none other than Max Sterling in Robotech). Eek still holds up because it was a kid’s show that didn’t dumb itself down and was great fun for those with the sense of humor to appreciate it. Disney is doing a disservice to animation fans by not releasing this (nearly) forgotten classic. I agree with Curtis Armstrong, character actor and voice of Scooter from Eek!Stravaganza, “It was ahead of its time.”

Until Disney decides to dust off this brilliant series, I hear there is a torrent somewhere…


A generational divide at the movies

I wonder if these things are related…

Why is it that the older you are the more you can’t stand ‘Inception’?

If “Inception” plays especially strongly with a young audience, it’s probably because they instinctively grasp its narrative density best, having grown up playing video games. “When it comes to understanding ‘Inception,’ you’ve got a real advantage if you’re a gamer,” says Henry Jenkins, who’s a professor of communications, journalism and cinematic arts at USC. ” ‘Inception’ is first and foremost a movie about worlds and levels, which is very much the way video games are structured. Games create a sense that we’re a part of the action. Stories aren’t just told to us. We experience them.”

‘Scott Pilgrim’ Versus The Unfortunate Tendency To Review The Audience

Hating Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is perfectly fine. It’s got a style; you sort of embrace it and dig it or you don’t. But when there’s too much effort given to tut-tutting the people you imagine to be enjoying it, or declaring and promising that only narrow categories of losers and non-life-havers and other stupid annoying hipsters could possibly be having a good time when you’re not, it sounds pinched and ungenerous. And, not to put too fine a point on it, a little bit jealous and fearful of obsolescence.

That last article may have been directed at The Kansas City Star:

The geeks are pulling Hollywood’s strings right now, and that’s not a good thing

Their influence on what we see at the megaplex and on television is vast and powerful. The Ain’t It Cool News websites of the world are in effect telling those who are in charge what to do.

This is an awful development.

They’re making movies for a large, appreciative, sometimes-obsessive audience? Tsk. Tsk. How did Hollywood stoop so low? Let’s get back to making more of the right kind of movies, like The Switch and Dinner for Schmucks.

It wasn’t always like this. A quarter century ago, the heavy hitters of movies and television would have sneeringly dismissed these Comic-Con revelers as laughable losers.

I used to be with it. Then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I see someone who needs to be stuffed into a locker.

Maybe the author can see if he shows any of the 10 Signs You’re A Movie Snob rather than dismissing a culture he has no interest in, nor understanding of.