Archive for Ephemera

Post-mortem: I’m not sorry

Follow-up: in March, during GDC, writer Dan Cox interviewed me via email about this “controversy.” His questions, along with my answers, probably go much further in explaining my attitude. My editor and I also explain our “go big or go home” mentality—as well as our happiness in playing the roles of villains—in the final quarter of this episode of Unlistenable.

OK, I’m sorry for just one thing: I’m sorry I have such a wonderful editor.

I was barely into the thread itself by the time I was hard at work on a YouTube-type comment.

In considering both the comment thread and the blog above it—which I’d interpreted as some litany, as some unreal catalogue of hither-and-thither complaints—I wanted to respond, because I know that professionals who are enmeshed in any sort of politic business are unable to respond to these types of criticisms, or with any passionate emphasis. This makes me angry all on its own.

Also, professionally and personally, I was deeply unimpressed.

As my remarks snowballed, though, I realized I should write something for myself, just to let it all out. Well, and when I say “for myself,” I mean “for Infinite Lives,” which is my site and oh my god I periodically drag my co-writer through the mud when I irresponsibly follow some wild livejournal tangent.

So suddenly I wasn’t working on a frothing Internet comment at all; I was writing a piece for this very site instead.

My editor IM’d, wanting to know whether my column were finished yet, and I was very, “NOT NOW I’M BUSY” to him. He wondered what I was writing, so I sent it to him in four or five chunks over IM. He announced he wanted to publish it, and from there we really giddily lost our minds, our enthusiasm mirroring and magnifying. He cut one chunk and I cut another, and now we agreed the piece was totally ready to go. He gave it a much better title and suggested some images, and I told him I was all-in. I endorsed every addition myself. I was furious and happy.

For me, it was as much about “fun” as it was “ire.” I decided, if I were going to feel irate about something, wouldn’t it be great fun to just run all the way? Because it’s totally true—I’ve forced my writing to be this very level-headed, contemplative thing for a long time. I’ve always held that “manners are how we show strangers we care,” and I certainly believe it.

But I’ve also noticed I do that thing girls do: I rely on “hedged” diction to couch everything I say in some sort of apology. Maybe it would be nice, for once, to forget judiciousness.

So here the article is again.

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Linksplosion: Martin Amis, ‘Minecraft,’ and Emporium Bar Arcade

Hello and hi. I collected a couple links a couple days ago, but I hadn’t yet posted them—until now! Lucky you!

  • Joystiq – Minecraft building blocks (via Metafilter.

    The correct reaction is “what the—”

  • Eater – Emporium Arcade Bar Opening in March

    A Barcade-style barcade is coming to Chicago, and everyone is freaking out:

    Expect a focus on Midwestern and local beer with half of the beer on tap always being from the Midwest. The plan is to rotate their selection often, so there will always be new brews to try. There will also be a large whiskey list, with a selection of standard and upscale varieties. A full bar will be available as well and there may be more specialty cocktails down the line.

  • Writer Martin Amis once penned a video-game near-classic, Invasion of the Space Invaders. The Millions has a review of the book (via Slate).

    Photo: Martin Amis's 'Space Invaders'

    Since the book is impossible to buy used, some Good Samaritan is publishing Amis’s book’s very best lines as a Twitter feed.


Tunnel Snakes rule

Some days I am happy to be alive.

(Thanks to Mike Emmons for, uh, whatever.)

ETA: as a scant few members of Kotaku’s readership rushed to mention, yes the video is old OK.


How Infinite Lives came to pass

Photo by Chris Kohler: Jenn Frank's placemat

Wired’s Chris Kohler:

Found: A lifetime ago, @jennatar and I sat in a diner and brainstormed website names on a placemat.

The year was 2006! According to Kohler, I registered this domain the very next day. Other names in the mix: duckdragons; pixelface; any fabricated word that could combine some “variation on a popular Japanese word in the U.S. lexicon” or “variation on (peripheral).”

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On death, motherhood, and ‘Creatures’

Kotaku - Playing God: On Death, Motherhood and Creating (Artificial) Life

I picked a pretty opportune moment to start writing for Unwinnable: it was the site’s “Death Week,” and if there is one thing I love to think about, it’s death.

One night I finally settled on an idea for “Death Week,” drank some beers, and wrote an article. It’s like a much shorter version of some of the longest articles I’ve done, so it was an interesting experiment. I really enjoyed writing it! I was comparatively concise!

You can read it at its real home, Unwinnable, or you might read it at Kotaku, where the heroic Kirk Hamilton has republished it. I recommend reading it at Unwinnable if only because I wrote it specifically for Unwinnable, but at Kotaku there is the benefit of the influx of comments. I love this. I already know what my article sounds like, so the real interest, for me, will be in what others say. When there are all these simultaneities in experience, I get really happy. So far the comments are really inspiring.

Finally—and I mentioned his article before, but—Mark Serrels’ piece for Kotaku Australia went a long way in influencing the piece I wrote, too. When I described his article last week, I started talking about my fear of kids, and this has probably continued to haunt me till now.

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Ads for Game Boy Camera and ‘Girl Talk’ (1998)

I posted these to my Twitter account this morning, but here they are again: two ads from the November 1998 issue of Teen People.

Look! I'm on Game Boy Camera

There’s something anachronistically stylized—very late-80s/early-90s, I mean—about the forced perspective in this 1998 Game Boy Camera ad. Like, why is his hand way up here when the rest of his body is way over there? I don’t know.

Girl Talk: a CD-ROM Game of Truth or Dare

The print ad for Girl Talk: the CD-ROM Game of Truth or Dare was what really gave me the heebie-jeebies, though. “It’s just like life but with better graphics,” the ad copy touts. Oh, dear. Worse, if I am interpreting correctly, there is single-player mode. So you are a 12-year-old girl playing Truth or Dare, at your desk, alone. That’s… well, it sounds a lot like my preteen years, OK, but my mother really tried her best to not encourage that type of loneliness.

I have the 1990 edition of the Girl Talk board game (I have it right here, actually), which was really only a pinker redesign of the original 1988 Girl Talk. Since my own girlhood, the game has been rehabbed as Hannah Montana Girl Talk, That’s So Raven Girl Talk, and—yes, I saw it in a Toys ‘R Us—Bratz Girl Talk. (Up-to-the-minute variants on Truth or Dare include “Girl Talk Sassy Stix” and Girl Talk Sparkle Spots.”

So I am staring at this ad for PC multimedia Girl Talk and I’m just like, I have no idea whether that were a good idea.


We hate Paul

This video has been around for maybe a day and a half, tops—in Internet Time, it’s already months old—but I really enjoyed its not-too-malicious dramatic reenactment of the dumbest, most interesting Holiday Shopping Nightmare human interest story ever told in 2011.

Also, Revision3’s Anthony Carboni is nowhere near jacked enough to play Paul, the villain in this melodrama, and this bit of miscasting is charming all on its own. (Kotaku and Escapist have the full deets, but the video might be enough.)

There are a lot of things about this I don’t understand. I don’t quite understand why “Dave,” the unhappy customer, forwarded his ongoing, charged email exchange to Mike Krahulik (“Gabe” of Penny Arcade, AKA the hotheaded one), except that Dave needed some muscle on his side. Mike tried his best to mediate, which is weird enough anyway, but there was little reasoning with “Paul,” the erstwhile giant of PR (whether he is even a PR guy is up for debate) who until recently had mishandled the marketing for some weird video game peripheral. Which, if you are wondering, did not ship in time for the holidays, and how dare you email Paul about this, Dave.

In a way I do feel bad for Paul. When a shipment is trapped in customs, you might feel helpless, especially when the holdup is not your fault. You can’t get frustrated with other people, though. Like, you just can’t.

So it turns out Paul might be a little bit of a nutjob; unsurprisingly, Paul no longer has a job.

And yet, and yet. There is so much pleasure—so much schadenfreude!—to be derived from this entire Greek tragedy, and I’m trying to wrap my head around why I’m getting off on it, along with the rest of the mob. It’s just so much fun to see a juiced-up marketing guy finally get peed on, isn’t it?

But why do we even feel that way?

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Happy holidays! 1986 style

Screenshot: a Christmas card from Sierra

Sierra is pleased to present this living Christmas card. It is intended to help you demonstrate the color and sound capabilities possible with today’s personal computers while promoting the Christmas spirit within your store.

As an added bonus, you may customize this program each time you run it with a message of your own. This allows you to advertise your sale items, or to wish your customers a Merry Christmas in your own words.

This program is hard disk installable and is meant to be run in the morning and left running all day.


Watch for the changes and try to keep up

Photo: Robert Downey, Jr.

Put your pants back on and take that seat over there. Good, thanks. Let’s hash some things out.

Let me start by reminding you that I’m a girl. Not only that, I’m an angry girl.

Joel Johnson, Kotaku’s fairly-recently-appointed Editorial Director, posted a little article titled “The Equal Opportunity Perversion of Kotaku.” (Evidently, Johnson has been taking a lot of flack for Kotaku’s new editorial direction[s], which is increasingly fluid and interesting.)

And I enjoyed the post on its own terms because, let’s face it, it is filed under a blog category titled “Fan Service.” So the post was very conspicuously directed at Kotaku’s “old guard”: here, of course, I mean the Internet’s loathsomely entitled commenters, who are mostly white and heterosexual, and male, who might fulfill almost every possible permutation of “ordinary” and “normal,” and who tend to shriek for the smelling salts anytime a lady or queer struggles into their line-of-sight. (This is a terrible stereotype to perpetuate, yes, yes, and Gawker’s own comments sections do a bang-up job of perpetuating it, not for any fault of its editors.) But let’s be coolheaded. When you deal with that type of readership, you have to be very caring and compassionate and patient, even when you don’t want to be, and so you assert things in a debilitatingly accessible way.

“What’s happening to my precious Kotaku?” the old guard must have screamed through the tips of its nervous little fingers, illuminated as one in the glow of the laptop’s screen.

So Johnson defended all of Kotaku’s editorial decisions, and his argument was compelling, and if you aren’t going to just look at the post I’d better do my best to recount it:

Johnson did anticipate that some readers would have difficulty reconciling Kotaku’s overt legacy of, say, cosplay galleries, with Kotaku’s now-implicit stance on genderjamming. So naturally, he combined both arguments into a single blog entry. Maybe he shouldn’t have tried. Listen boys, he might as well have said, you can screech about “what’s with the scary minorities on my video game blog all of a sudden” as much as you like, but it’s about as ‘normal’ to love tits wrapped in cosplay as it is to be ‘into’ anything else. That was his argument to these folks in a nutshell.

And Johnson posited this assertion in a way that heteronormative fellows who have never had their realities rocked might understand, and he pursued his argument to its logical conclusion, which is that we all fetishize something—like it or not, I’ve seen Dan Savage make this exact same argument in his columns about sex and love—and maybe you fetishize cars, computers, video games, politics, girls dressed up as Soul Calibur characters, chubby people, Japanese things, French things, your own sex, whips and chains, quoting Jesus when you do it, whatever. And if you’re fetishizing—as opposed to exoticizing, right—what’s ‘normal’ versus ‘abnormal’ is kind of beside the point. You’re into what you’re into, and that is in some way neurologically hardwired.

Besides! Johnson sagely added, the site is actually called Kotaku, which riffs on the word otaku, which lends the notion that it’s, uh, cool to be into whatever you’re into. So let’s all be good people; let’s not fracture in dissent. Thanks!

Johnson posted all of this, not as an editor, but as a moderator. He explained all the sides of everything that has ever been, ever, just as well as he could. Maybe it got a little mangled in translation. Sure.

He probably posted all this and then ducked for cover, and with plenty of reason: every pocket of enthusiast readership he could have humanly offended was sure to let him know.

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“Break out” your 2600s today: a ‘Breakout’ flashback

Screenshot: Breakout for 2600

Breakout, based on a concept by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, was designed by Steve Jobs (with pal Steve Wozniak doing all the heavy lifting, of course). The game was released in May 1976, just two months before Jobs and Wozniak unveiled their first creation as Apple Computer.

Here are some game-winning tips:


Daily Linksplosion: Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rubens’ Tube Zelda from Brad Silcox on Vimeo.

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Daily Linksplosion: Monday, August 01, 2011

Young Princess Zelda by Salvador Ramirez Madriz (AKA ReevolveR)

Young Princess Zelda by Salvador Ramirez Madriz (via Gamma Squad)

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I made you something!

So yesterday I decided it was time to get serious, grow some professionalism, and brand my Twitter page as if I were suddenly some sort of social media maverick. And wow, what a bad fit. I don’t think putting my email address on my Twitter page was the right decision for me at all. It’s just so douchey, right?

My friend Chris has said to me—and I think this might be true—that my tweets are all “snark and mortal peril.” Ugh, I hate when Chris is right. I generally tweet only when I’m annoyed, or if something has just almost hit me. I can’t brand that stuff! And I will need to be extra-careful with Google+, because there are only so many ways I can announce that I’m angry before everyone in my “circles” “mutes” me. We’ll see.

Nonetheless, while I was working on my Twitter background in Photoshop, I started thinking of the 1982 short film Arcade Attack, which is all about how Space Aliens are Invading the City and Murdering Pinball.

Inspired (sort of), I found a Manhattan skyline, complete with a Radiator Building—which looked more like a Chrysler Building until I sawed the top off—and then I grunged everything up using Eduardo Recife’s Photoshop brushes. The Invaders are just dingbats, anyway, so I basically did zero work.

My new Twitter background, as I discovered seconds after I uploaded it, makes for a terrible Twitter background. So I debranded it, rebranded it, and uploaded it as downloadable desktop wallpaper for you! I don’t know who on Earth would ever want Infinite Lives desktop wallpaper, so I’m sorry.

Here’s the good news! The image’s dimensions are 1920×1440, which is the size of nobody’s monitor, so if you clip the top of the image to fit your widescreen monitor, it’s debranded again like magic.

On my MacBook, using the “Fill Screen” desktop setting:

A live screencast! JK.


Here’s the best Pip-Boy 3000

Late last year, Internet Guy Skruffy Nerfherder (yep) briefly sold a limited run of Pip-Boy 3000 kits, and I only just found out about them. So much for what would’ve been the best anniversary gift ever, huh.

Skruffy based the kits on his own resin sculpt, and—well, see for yourself, how amazing his Pip-Boy is:

On an arm.

My favorite part is the Pip-Boy’s “LCD,” which is just a little pane of plexiglass illuminated with LEDs. With the light diffused through a slip of paper, and with a green gel on top, the screen gets that authentically murky glow. (Don’t even get me started on the hinge.)

Also, I really admire that Skruffy took the long way around. Because some people have simply been cramming iPhones into their cardboard Pip-Boys, OK. And while running iOS 3000 (or better yet) is fine and dandy, physically putting your iPhone into your PipBoy is, just, what?

I am saying this as a person who is trying to figure out what to do with her spare iPhone, in fact. Hm.

Anyway. What was I talking about? Ah, yes: craftsmanship.


Daily Linksplosion: Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic! in the Story of the Blanks

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