Thursday, June 28, 2007

The many names of Warren Ellis

Warren Ellis is a British author of comics, novels, and television, well known for his sarcastic personality and sociocultural commentaries, both through his online presence and his writing. Through his various online forums he has gained such monikers as "Stalin," "The Love Swami," or "Internet Jesus." You can add one more to the list.

In a recent Livejournal post Richard Stevens, writer and illustrator of the syndicated comic-strip "Diesel Sweeteies," dubbed Ellis "Doctor Spacetime." This was his suitably tongue-in-cheek response to Ellis pegging Rich and his fellow web comic artists as "jerks." As can be witnessed from the LJ comments, Ellis is unsure, and Rich goes old school in his defence.
Ellis' original assessment was his playful response to the sketches that filled Rich and other artists at MoCCA used to fill Hope Larson's Kiss Book.

What a wonderful web of feigned disapproval and underhanded complements.

Previously on Slashboing:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Steam + Anachronism = Steampunk.

A recent post to some of the Steampunk communities on Livejournal got everyone discussing what the "sub-culture" actually is. Or if it really is a sub-culture to begin with.

I look at the characteristics of the community as governed less by rules or guidelines, and more by various "personal ethics."

Some people want functional steam, and see cogs-as-decoration as an unfavourable affectation, while others favour appearance over function. I read that some people are neo-Victorian re-creators, focused on the finer points of pleats and buttons while others are more like LARPers who seek to inhabit a world that never existed and/or a time that never was. Some people buy off the rack, others have a strict DIY mentality.

It can all be called Steampunk, and it's all awesome.

The only umbrella concept I can see is that steam is the prime source of motive power. (hence the name). This is anachronistic to begin with, but if you start layering on more and more anachronisms, the more punky it seems to become. Most of the other ideas that most think of as "Steampunk" are either corollaries of this, or are preconditions that lead to steam being king.

The original poster likes coming at steam from a post-apocalyptic future where much has been lost. In my opinion, this is still steampunk, from a certain point of view:) Kind of like how the TV shows "Legend" or "Wild Wild West" is US Civil War meets tech, while "Firefly" is high tech meets Civil war. One is retro-futurism, while the other is future-retroism. And you got your peanut-butter in my chocolate.

My personal guiding question for steampunk design and fashion is:

"What if all those steam powered inventions from the Victorian era were not hindered by such mundane concepts like 'practicality' or 'manufacturability', given that electricity was never anything more than a novelty, and it didn't really catch on."


Sunday, June 24, 2007

That's Prime, Sucker

Optimus Prime: the 8 inches and under league
Originally uploaded by Super King.

Day: Sunday June 24, 2007

Operation: Sunday Flickr favourite

Subject: Optimus Prime.

Designation: Leader of theAutobots, being awesome.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Buffalo Redux

As a follow-up to my previous post about Bison Behaviour, here is a great cartoon by Greg Williams about the phenomenon. I'm surprised no one has corrected the phrase noting that "American Buffalo" are "Bison", and not true buffalo. The sentence still stands as a high mark in both linguistic gymnastics and absurdist comedy.

Buffalo buffalo comic
Originally uploaded by versesane, gangked from Wikipedia

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Spot the Bot

I created this image to try to bridge the gap between lolcats and lolbots. It is time for the healing to begin.


Previously on Slashboing:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bison Behaviour

You talking to me Punk?
Originally uploaded by Wildcaster.

Four years ago, a behavioural study was launched in New York state Bison farms to find out why otherwise docile animals were becoming aggressive and intimidating. They eventually concluded that Bison from upstate New York who are intimidated by other bison in their community also happen to intimidate other bison in their community.

In other words, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. [link]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Harry Potter launch for Calgary

Harry Potter Family Street Festival on Diagon Alley
Friday July 20, 2007 10:00pm - 12:15am
McNally Robinson Booksellers
Calgary's Stephen Avenue between Centre St. & 1st St. S.W.[map]

Prepare for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the McNally Robinson Family Street Festival on Diagon Alley (Calgary's Stephen Avenue)

Spooky & spectacular circus acts by Velocity Motion Werks. Defence Against the Dark Arts, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures & Transfiguration Classes. Magical crafts, enchanting music, ghastly treats & creepy performers. Special appearances by key characters. Costume judging & Harry Potter trivia contests!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Centre of the Television Universe

Consider, for a moment, the phenomenon of crossovers and spin-offs of television series. Characters from a long running popular show may eventually get their own show, such as Angel from Buffy or Trapper John, MD from M*A*S*H. Sometimes two shows exist independently, but because they are both produced by the same company, they will crossover characters and storyline, often during sweeps weeks. For example, on "Blackout Thursday" (November 3, 1994) a mishap on Mad About You caused the power in much of Manhattan to go out, which entered the plots of that night's episodes of Friends and Madman of the People.

These crossovers often form a "universe" or general continuity. These are often given names such as the "Buffyverse" or "Whoniverse" for their respective collections. Given that, consider that if every crossover was mapped out, the whole connected group could be considered, in fan terms, to be in the same universe. A group of fans have created such a map, and here what such a map looks like:

The motivation for compiling such a list came from the ending of the 1980's doctor drama St. Elsewhere. In the final moments of the last episode, it was revealed that the entire run of the show was the dream of an autistic child named Tommy Westphall. The ending is a cop-out from an otherwise well-written series, but the implications were thus:
If "St Elsewhere" exists only within Tommy Westphall's mind, then so does every other series set within the same fictional sphere.
Once fans started tracking the numerous crossovers and spin-offs from St Elsewhere, they created a map of 282 shows, all connecting to the intersection of "St Elsewhere and Homicide," and dubbing this phenomenon the "Tommy Westphall Universe."

We are through the looking glass here people.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Steampunk Rule 1: Brass Goggles

Everything Old Is New Again
Originally uploaded by mikest.

The Sunday Flickr Favourites team knows you can't be Steampunk without a nice pair of brass goggles. So suck back the heady goodness of these bad boys.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Project: Steampunk!

After DragonCon (D*C) last year, I came a conclusion that I have yet to post about, despite promising to do so last year. I ran a cost/benefit analysis on my hobby of making and wearing science fiction and fantasy costumes and found it to be more trouble than it was worth. It is fun, but expensive, and the burdens aren't always overcome by the joys.

But I was fine. I already had enough lightsabers, my "Silent Bob" is done (and fantastic) and my Uruk-hai was tucked away in a Rubbermaid bin with an unknown next-wear-date. I don't really have the physique for most costumes, and I don't have anywhere near the skills needed to take commissions. I thought I was done, save a few exceptions; I would still finish off my Pirate costume, and I bought some simple elements for a Ravenclaw outfit for the big Harry Potter festivities next month.

That changed after I returned from Celebration IV. Seeing all those great costumes made me want to take on a new task, but I wasn't sure what form it would take. I greatly enjoyed not having to haul down and wear a costume at Celebration, but D*C is a different creature. While the D*C programming has so much more to offer than just costumes, the joy of the evening parties is really enhanced by having something awesome to wear. But what to make?

Enter Issue 2 of Steampunk Magazine. In that zine, there is a short manifesto on steampunk fashion. Since I've loved steampunk before I even knew it had a name, reading the article was just the DIY kick in the pantaloons I needed to start a anachronistic Victorian era costume in time for DragonCon 2007.

My Character: Baron Von Haggis, PhD, Airship Captain. A former military man turned adventurer. Overly original? No. Awesome? Yes.

I have recruited the Lady Faraway, as well as a Doctor of Physick, a Botanist of Renown, a Mechanical Lady and an Expert in Mutagenesis in a group expedition to Terminus, Georgia. Do you wanna come with me? If you do then I should warn you, you're gonna see all sorts of things. It won't be quiet, and it won't be calm. But I'll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If the world ended today, how would I know?

I spent the bulk of the day at work in my generic industrial park office. The florescent lights reflect off the whiteboards, flattening out the room to gradient shades of beige. The power flickered a few times today, I guess that's normal. I share the room with three other people, and although we all face the centre, more or less, we don't really make eye contact or talk much. It's not that we don't get along, we just have nothing to say to each other most of the time.

Traffic was light, but I was passed by two ambulances, and at least 7 police cars. I don't know what is up, so I drove to the mall. I found it mostly empty, which is typical for a middle of the week summer evening. Many of the stores took to rolling down their security shutters early. Some had water damage from last week's flood, some were understaffed due to the labour shortage. Some stores had whole crews not show up today for no good reason.

Coming home I watched some reruns and skipped the news. There could be riots downtown, but I wouldn't know because I'm watching a movie on cable. My neighbours are all fairly quiet today. I guess I shouldn't complain. They are usually stomping around like they are trying to raise the dead. Now all I hear is them scratching on the walls and moaning. I don't want to know what they are up to.

The cable eventually went out, and the power is threatening to quit all together now. They must be repairing the damage from all the rain lately. I'll save this now, go to bed, and see what tomorrow brings.

Who's the zombie now?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Top 5 Suggested Book/Band Hybrids

The Coudal Partners contest to mash-up the name of a book with the name of a band generated a lot of really creative entries. Here are my top at-a-glance favourites:
  • Everything but the Girl Is Illuminated (Meredith Payne)
  • Chicken Soup For The Collective Soul (John Brassil)
  • The Sun Also RZA (Anne Holub)
  • Green Day and Ham (Mike Everett-Lane)
  • Paddy Clarke Hot Hot Heat (Tracie Bedell)
See the whole list here:

(via Commonplace Book)

I'm surprised no one has tried carrier pigeon

Here are all the ways in which I have been contacted in the last week:

Called at home
Called on cell
Called at work
Knock on the door
Note in my mailbox
Emailed at home
Emailed at work
Comment on my Blog
Comment on my Livejournal Feed
Comment on my Flickr account
Private message on Flickr
Post on CSFFS forum
Private message on CSFFS forum
Post on Fanforce forum
Private message on Fanforce forum
Post-it under the windshield of my car

If sometimes one of your messages get lost in the shuffle, or I don't reply to you in a timely fashion, I apologize.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Saturday, June 09, 2007

1001 Apologies to my Livejournal Posse

To the eleven people who read Slashboing via the handy-dandy Livejournal syndicated feed, I am really sorry for the repeated posts that crop up periodically.

This happens both when I make and edit to an older post, or when Blogger and/or Feedburner and/or Livejournal decides to mess with my stuff. Although I do try to keep the edits to my old posts to a minimum sometime it is necessary. However I have no control, as far as I know, over how the feed gets generated or displayed in Livejournal.

We here at Slashboing appreciate your readership and hope the occasional flooding of your Friends page with vintage posts does not sully the experience.

P.S. Invisible Sandwich

Day 255 - Invisible Sandwich

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Celebration IV: Day 4 - All good things

On the last day of Celebration 4, I almost had my fill of Star Wars. Almost. One of the things I thought would be going on at the con was a 24 hour continu.ous showing of the six films. Not so I could sleep because I'm too cheap to find lodging at a hotel, but so I could watch my favourite films with a couple of hundred other people, who also count these films among their favourites.

On the Wednesday before the convention, there was a marathon, which (in my opinion) was a little dumb. By the time they announced it, I already had my room booked, flights paid for and my vacation time in at work. Now they are adding programming in front of of the planned start date? It wasn't going to happen for me, but others from Tosche Station Fanforce managed to make it for part of the showing. It sounded like a blast, but I missed out.

In lieu of actually being able to see the films over the weekend, we got to enjoy the next best thing with Charles Ross: One Man Star Wars. In one hour, Charlie re-enacts the Original Trilogy. No props, no sets, no sync-sound effects. Just one sweaty geek and a love for the films. The room was packed to see him, and people had been lining up for hours. His off-Broadway shows were sold out for months so we were lucky to see him again.

After the show we made our way up to the Vader Helmet Exhibit, where various pop artists had painted and prepared a unique take on the Darth Vader Helmet, kind of like the Cows of Calgary, and so on. It was a great collection, which I failed entirely to capture, as the battery flap of my HP618 camera broke off forcing me to have to press the case closed to take pictures. But I am comforted by the knowledge that Bonnie Burton captured the whole collection in a flickr set.. It's like a better photographer followed me through the convention taking the shots I wanted.

RIP HP 618

Rounding out the weekend I caught a panel on hardware store prop building. The information wasn't mindblowing, given my history with the plumbing isle at Home Depot, but I did pic up a few tricks and tips.

Big Conventions seem to end, not with a bang, but a whimper. Slowly shutting down rather then a sharp guillotine fall of a closing ceremony and AGM. But after such a great weekend, you feel satisfied enough that when you leave the centre doors for the last time, you don't feel too down about it. The real world starts calling again and you can only let it rattle the receiver for so long before you got to pick it up.

Next Big Con: Dragon Con. "Not Just for Costumers".

"One Man Star Wars Photo credit: Jason Woodruff, copyright 2005"
"The Vader Project: Originally uploaded by Bonnie Burton
of the Official Star Wars Blog, ganked from flickr, using the Blog This feature"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Steam Powered R2D2

steam R2D2
Originally uploaded by banjo d.

The Sunday Flickr favourites team thought this steam powered R2 unit would split the difference between my last endeavour, and the next.

Stay tuned for details.

Celebration IV: Day 3 - Clones and Autographs

Sunday was another big day at Star Wars Celebration IV. The most climatic order of re-telling the day is as follows.

My third and final shift volunteering with Official Pix was spent pulling autographs from their discreet boxen into sets of 147 pictures for future sales. Not madly satisfying, but it had to be done, but I got to meet some cool fans and hang with Jake Loyd as he signed his requisite signatures for the company. It was a good time. As payment for my time with the company I received a signed picture for each hour I worked. The assortment was random, but apparently Anthony Daniels (C3PO) made sure that all the volunteers got one of his autographs. Now that is class. Some of the volunteers exchanged pics to round out their collections.

I then had the opportunity to get my pictures personalized, and sit and take some pictures. There were plenty of great costumes to capture, an I only got a fraction of them.

But the big news of the day was being in the first screening of the trailer for the new Clone Wars cartoon. Mind blowing. The room exploded at the end. This is likely due to the fact that this is the first NEW Star Wars content we have seen in a long time. Watch now and enjoy.

Higher resolution source:

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Celebration IV: Day 2 -Brushes with Greatness

Day 2 of Celebration IV brought some interesting events. Here is a small sample of my experiences from the day.

For my volunteer shift with Official Pix, I sat as a Guest Escort for Tim Dry. In the 1980's Tim was part of a robotic mime and music duo called Tik & Tok with Sean Crawford. This let to them getting roles in the third Star Wars movie "Return Of The Jedi", with Tim (Tik) as the Whiphid "J'Quille" and Sean (Tok) as Saelt-Marae or as is more commonly known "Yak Face." I got to sit with Tim and talk action figures, the economics of autographs, and the pros and cons of internet publishing.

I attended a panel for the upcoming film, "5-25-77" an autobiographical film about the unique circumstances that led up to Dragonheart writer/producer Patrick Read Johnson getting a sneak peak at "Star Wars" as a teenager, and the effect it had on his career as a filmmaker. Most of the primary cast an crew was there, which was cool. I can't wait to see the finished film in the theatres.

I had tickets to see "A Conversation with Carrie Fisher" which was great. Carrie made us laugh, she made us blush, and she could have had any man in the room. Though I don't know if she told any stories that we had never heard before, there is a certain importance in the telling and re-telling of our myths and legends, as well as our truths and gossips.

Image "Carrie Fisher"
Originally uploaded by Joits. Added using the "Blog This" feature from flickr.

For more pictures, see the following links: