The Art of Fiona Staples

saga-artComics aren’t storyboards for movies. An artist alone with her/his imagination can create impossible-to-build cityscapes and monsters. They can cast their characters in whatever way they like, not limited to which people will act them in the film, who L.A. thinks is cool or, even, what humans look like. Fiona Staples is one of the artists that shows what’s possible in comics. Her work on books like Saga, and Archie is truly remarkable.

Sameness dogs the comic arts. The body types, the colors, and the heroes crouched on roofs or next to gargoyles repeat unendingly. Even within a single book, there are often multiple characters with indistinguishable faces. Nostalgia in comics, which, when harnessed can lead to great things, can also result in laziness and repetition. Read more

10,000 Single Women in Chicago

Single women in Chicago outnumber single men by about 10,000. According to census data, and a fascinating map from Richard Florida’s, the odds are very much in the favor of single hetero/male Chicagoans. Cities with more single men than women include Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dallas-Ft. Worth which both have approximately 40,000 more single men than women.

Single Ladies

The Black Market Heritage of Les Bouquinistes

Bouquinistes_in_Paris,_11_October_2012The tempting green bookstalls that sit on the banks of Paris’ Seine started life as unsanctioned sellers of pamphlets, many of which were illegal to distribute. If you’ve visited Paris, you’ve probably seen these lovely little shops. They are an important part of a city whose citizens are known for being cultured and captivated by the arts. So important, in fact, are “Les Bouquinistes,” as they are called, that they have earned the UNESCO designation of World Heritage Site.

This account comes from Tactical Urbanism by Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia. It’s a perfect example of what the authors are looking to encourage.

Many of the things that make cities great don’t come from a huge bureaucratic system or the decree of a powerful mayor but by the will of the people that live in the city.  Projects like the book stalls on the Seine were not city-sponsored or even encouraged by the city, but the people wanted them, supported them and kept coming back to them, and that was enough.

Google Buys, Kill Songza

A few months ago Google announced it had purchased Songza. This should not have had a large impact on music lovers or musicians. The owner of the website that streams their music is not necessarily important to listeners. Unfortunately, Google stopped the streaming altogether.


The fear had been that Google would treat the property the way Apple treated In that case, after Apple bought Lala, they claimed they intended to incorporate Lala into their larger business and only temporarily. Ultimately, Apple just shuttered Lala.

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Fascinating Visualization of the Relationships Between European Languages


This image comes from a Teresa Elms post on Etymologican, the original post and commentary are well worth a read.

I’d love to see a similar chart for the many Spanishes of the world. In particular I would be interested to know if Mexican Spanish is closer to American English than Spain Spanish is to UK English, I would imagine it is.

Hat tip:

The Internet of Things Cannot be Avoided

BabymonitorBBC’s Radio News Hour
carried a story today in which it was said more than once that “the internet of things is coming.” This is not exactly correct. I read recently in Anthony Townsend’s Smart Cities there are more “things” on the internet than people. What are these things: baby monitors, cars, planes, pacemakers, and hearing-aides among other things. You may not be aware of it, but you already participate in the internet of things, and you will not be able to opt out. There’s no user agreement for you to click through and if there was one you wouldn’t read it.

Bar Obituary: The Horseshoe

Max Herman

Photo: Max Herman

The Horseshoe was dying long before I ever set foot in it. I had heard rumors about a big scandal that had ruined the owners, somebody running off with the money, somebody having to give up on creating their dream bar halfway through. A new owner not perceiving it as an amazing opportunity but, instead, as a burden, somebody else’s unfinished project that was now unfinishable.

But, the bars that don’t make money, the bars that reflect an offbeat sensibility, are usually the best. So I hoped to make this deeply offbeat and out-of-sync bar into a clubhouse for me and my offbeat band(s).

Playing at the Horseshoe was perfect. You could get a gig whenever you wanted. The owner was a funny old guy who liked our music and would give us a cut of the bar tab when we brought new drunks into his bar. No one cut us off when we played over our allotted hour. The Special was always $5 for a beer and a shot of whiskey*. There was n1014060_1392760674334731_265476131_never any cover. If you wanted to be paid, you could pass the hat. You could always get a sound check if you wanted one.

But at the same time…

Playing at the Horseshoe was terrible. The sound guy was often late. The venue drew almost no people. One time, my buddy plugged his amp into the wall and it immediately shorted out because the bar had some weird electrical problems. When we were promoting shows, no one had ever heard of the Horseshoe, and, inconveniently, neither had other venues. The food was… uneven. Sometimes it was hard to tell if the bar was open or closed. They left the house lights up until people came in, so people didn’t come in, so the house lights stayed up. The TV was not tuned to any particular type of entertainment, meaning the Horseshoe didn’t show the most important sporting events or movies or broadcast any particular genre; the TV was just turned at random to whatever the random bar tenders wanted to watch. They left the TV sound on well into sound check. Read more

Paper Motor

Eight valve paper motor:

This motor from Aliaksei Zholner is one of a number of great paper motors and contraptions you can find from makers on YouTube. The use of a paper throttle makes Zholner’s compressed air powered V8 is particularly interesting.

Hat tip: Laughing Squid

Every Frame a Painting (YouTube Channel) Review

I know the danger recommending a YouTube channel. It can create an instant time-suck for your reader. It’s one of those “I’m sorry/you’re welcome” situations. But I can recommend Every Frame a Painting with no reservations. This channel’s host is a film editor and, as you might expect, the videos are beautifully edited. Film criticism on YouTube is a growing genre and I would recommend all of the following:  Movies with Mikey, Nerd Writer, The Dissolve (once upon a time), and Belated Media. Even Tested on Occasion has some excellent commentary.

The Every Frame a Painting channel looks so much better than any other channel on YouTube, even among the premium channels, because it exclusively uses images from the movies it comments on. And it does what all writers/storytellers are taught to do: show rather than tell.

A commentary distinguishes Jackie Chan from other action stars by demonstrating something that, as a kung fu fan, I’ve always enjoyed but never understood.  If you skip ahead to minute — you can see how holding a shot for a long time creates a great showcase for an athlete who’s a real fighter.  The length of the shot allows you to see the danger and the drama of the action being performed. In contrast, frantically cut action sequences that cover over the actions of less talented actors rob the story of its tension.

Read more

Donating Hair

It takes about 60 days to grow an inch of hair.  This has only mattered in the past when I’ve had a bad hair cut. But recently, after growing my hair out to maintain my alternative lifestyle, I grew enough hair to make a small wig.

I was first alerted to the possibility of donating hair by my dear friend Genevieve who has, multiple times, donated her hair to Locks of Love.  Locks of Love is an organization that turns donated hair into wigs for less fortunate children; other organizations with the same mission include Wigs for Kids and Children with Hair Loss.

The donation process is simple as you might imagine:

1) Wait until you have enough hair 12” in a ponytail for Locks of Love, 8” for Wigs for Kids (480 days).

2) Put your hair in a ponytail or a braid (no loose hair) and have somebody cut it off.

3) Put that hair into a Ziploc bag, then put that bag into a padded envelope and send it in.

Kids can be mean and it’s terrible knowing that sick kids get made fun of and/or feel less comfortable at school because of something they have no control over. As a kid I had the great advantage of getting made fun of for things that were entirely my fault and I hope that that privilege can be extended to more kids.

P.S. As you may have guessed I did not cut off my hair to be in the Marmaduke film, but if somebody is casting a Marmaduke, I am available.

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