Category Archives: Various and Sundry

More About Work as Religion

Continuing this week’s series of video posts, I came across this video from The Atlantic that touches back to an earlier article I linked to about work becoming people’s faith.

I’ve long been interested in work-life balance and finding joy or at least satisfaction in work, perhaps because, as mentioned in the video below, conventional wisdom is no longer satisfied with jobs or, to a certain extent, no longer even satisfied with careers. No, it has to be a calling.

And when you read things about “ikigai” of just finding flow, it seems like a calling is not that far-fetched a goal. But it so clearly is, because we’re just not set up for a surplus of those types of jobs. In fact, perhaps we’re asking too much of our jobs. Take a look at the video and consider.

Video Game Design is Strong with the Dark Side

While not all, it seems an inordinate number of games these days — including games targeting kids — are designed to be addictive in ways that may not be in line with Federation ideals, so to speak.

Do I mix franchises? yes I mix franchises. My fandom is vast. It contains multitudes.

DC Comics Encounters Corporate Kryptonite

Back in March, I had a longer post discussing the notion of comics as “idea incubators.” This isn’t my brilliant idea, it’s coming from comic veterans.

Now as a storyteller is general and a fan of comics in particular, I’m perhaps predisposed to like this argument. However, I think it’s important to remind the bean-counting set that humans like stories. Audiences flocked to Avengers: Endgame because they had invested in the story and characters, not because the visual effects content in their blood was getting low. And before you outlay $356 million dollars to make that film (itself the last film of a long series), you might want to do the equivalent of prototyping some story ideas. And where can you do it in comparably inexpensive ways? Comics.

Alas, corporate titan AT&T may not see it that was as Rob Salkowitz details in his article about the questionable future of DC Comics.

80% of Books written before 1964 in Public Domain?!?

I’m always interested in the state of works in the public domain, especially as works in the U.S. have started entering said domain this year. So I was surprised, bordering on elated, to learn that the majority of books published in the U.S. before 1964 may actually be in the public domain: we don’t need to wait another 1-40 years!

So, so many books… Where to begin?

Here’s a link to the change covered by Boing Boing as well as the actual posting they reference. I’ll update this post as I get more information.

Recommended Reading: For Love or Money (or both!)

The other week, I mused about giving your young’uns a steady diet of scares, inspired in part by reading an article by artist Greg Ruth.

Well, as probably comes as no surprise, Ruth also has some thoughts about the eternal struggle to make a living from one’s creative work and yes, it’s naturally pertinent to illustrators, but I think his points should resonate with writers as well.

By the way, if you want to check out more of his work, his website is here.

Navigating Being Online, Offline, and Increasingly In-Between

After Wednesday’s post that focused a great deal about how to curate one’s persona online, I was surprised that I hadn’t written at length about Jenny Odell and her efforts to help people curate their involvement in the “attention economy.”

I’ve found the article bears repeat reading, because there’s so many different ideas it raises and so much that you, personally, need to reflect on.

And yes, I mean need. At its core, and related to my Wednesday post (which was mainly for creative folk looking for fans) this article raises questions about you define your boundaries with engaging online. Being a luddite is probably not the answer for most people, though ignoring whole swaths of the Internet might be.

In other words, it’s about you taking agency for how you define “getting real.”

Scare Because You Care

This can probably get a viewing soon.

This past weekend, I let my kids watch the original Clash of the Titans. Besides being able to pass on my love for Ray Harryhausen films as my dad passed on to me, I’ve had the chance to do some short stop-motion films with both of them with smartphone and tablet (ain’t modern technology grand?).

One of the concerns was how scary the film would be to the young’uns. The man burning alive, the giant scorpions, and, above all, the Medusa sequence were most on my mind. Thankfully, all went well. The burned suitor didn’t register, the scorpions were “wow, ginormous” because “that [Calibos] is going to do something mean again, isn’t he?” and I was safely close during the showdown with Medusa.

My kids have already shown they enjoy spooky stuff, so I want to make sure they continue to get a good fright now and then… but age-appropriate scares. Artist Greg Ruth argues that exposing your kids to scary stories is a good idea.

So, I’m already thinking about the next entry in the de facto film festival to hit the kids right in the amygdalae.

Rather Sad about Mad

It’s no secret that Mad, the steadfast satirical magazine that’s been on newsstands for the past 67 years is all but ending, as per these pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times, and a personal one from The Week.

What, me shed a tear?

I learned about it first from Mark Evanier’s blog, as he’s not only a pop culture historian, he regularly works with one of Mad’s most storied illustrators, Sergio Aragon├ęs. Technically, Mad is not completely dead: the magazine will continue as a vehicle for reprints as per a message sent to contributors last Wednesday.

The New York Times piece especially touches on how big of a cultural impact Mad had: people thought of the Mad parody version of movies before they thought of the original film itself! I know one screenwriter who had the joy of finally seeing his film get made as a star-studded Hollywood production, but he felt he had really arrived when Mad magazine parodied said film — and he wrote Mad magazine to tell them so (Mad happily published his letter).

To boldly go– DAMMIT Mr. Neuman!

My one brother and I were especially fond of Mad’s Star Trek parodies which were uniformly excellent. Dick DeBartolo‘s pitch-perfect scripts combined with Mort Drucker‘s expert illustrations made for satirical synergy. And they were but one section of many equally distinctive illustrators and writers.

It could be that the wonderful continuity of talent which was such a plus was, in part, part of the minus that led to the current diminished state of Mad. Leastways, the corporate executives didn’t figure out how to transition to junior staff as had happened in the past. Longtime Mad writer Joe Raiola thinks this is both what happened with the move to the West Coast. Still, it’s not dead yet and it might get better from its newt-like state. Certainly the brand is still valuable which, in this day and age, is one of the most important things to corporations. As Evanier notes, someone –perhaps many people– are figuring out how to get the brand to make more money.

Hey, it’s a nice flag. One might even call it grand.

I’m not sure if this is what the Founding Fathers were thinking of when they decided to adopt the ol’ Stars and Stripes. I’m sure they hoped the Great Experiment would be successful. But did they envision a future where people would proudly wear versions of the nation’s flag as neckwear and sing about said flag in a form of digital cloning on the Inter-Tubes?

Okay, I’m pretty sure it’s not what they were thinking of… but in any case, enjoy a one-man barbershop quartet do a song appropriate for Independence Day.

Why Isn’t the U.S. Metric Already?

Just over 240 years ago, the United States announced its separation from Britain… a separation that could be measured in many ways, but definitely in miles.

And while pretty much the rest of the world has decided to “Make Mine Metric,” Americans remain unconvinced. Why? The Verge has some theories.