Category: Nerdery (page 2 of 5)

Clockwork Game Update: 10/20/11

And that’s the end of the Napoleon scene. These pages were some real fun to draw! I also went back and added a few more notes to the earlier pages, so if you were confused by some of the banter between Napoleon and Maelzel, those might help clear it up a bit. There’ve also been recent updates to the cast and Historical Reference pages.

Signal Boost of the Week goes to my old college buddy Mike Zawacki, whose new movie The Wars of Other Men is really starting to gain speed prior to its release. Last week they released a trailer to critical praise around the web. Mike’s been working on this movie for years now, pulling shoots together with no budget and an all-volunteer cast and crew — and the results are nothing short of amazing. They’re finishing up the last few special effects shots now, and if you want to follow the progress up until the release date, you can friend them on Facebook. I’m so excited about this movie I can hardly stand it.

Awl article about The Muppets

I liked this article very, very much:

Let me preface my next statement by saying that I know it will seem ridiculous to the casual reader, inflammatory to a good many fans, and downright specious to the expert of rhetoric, but for me watching Steve Whitmire’s Kermit is akin to watching someone imitate a mythic and longed-for mother—my mother—wearing a my-mother costume in a my-mother dance routine. This person’s heart is in the right place, which only makes it worse. “You should be happy,” the person pleads with me, “Look, Biddy! Your mother is not gone! She is still here.” Now, no one would ever do that. No one in her right mind would think it would work. A child knows his mother’s voice like he knows whether it’s water or air he’s breathing. One chokes you and one gives you life. Strangely, I feel the same about Kermit. Whitmire is an amazing performer—especially as the lovable dog Sprocket on “Fraggle Rock”—but, when he’s on screen as Kermit, I can feel my body reject it on a cellular level.

Yes. This.

Nerd Humor.

A web developer walks into a bar, sees they’re using tables, and walks right back out again.

h/t Boing boing.

The Floating City

As regular readers know, my husband Paul has been doing a whole lot of work with the amazing Thomas Dolby, and there’s a big new part of that work debuting right now: a game called The Floating City:

“Based on a crazy idea I have been nurturing since I began my new album nearly two years ago, it is the fruit of several months’ hard work by a dedicated all-star team of developers and writers, and it’s the prelude to my album ‘A Map of the Floating City,’ which will follow as the game reaches its climax,” Dolby said in an advance.

Here’s an exerpt from Paul’s own blog:

Concept-wise, this is a really cool idea from Thomas; have a game that people can play, meet other Dolby fans from around the Earth, learn about his previous music, and hear bits of his new music. It’s a little post-apocalyptic, a little steampunk, a little “Mad Max”, and 100% geek-tastic! As deep and complex as Thomas’ songs are, this game is exactly the same. And it’s a game that rewards you for being smart, inquisitive, and willing to solve problems and think ahead!

Now all of you! Go play the game! You get free stuff! And the prize for solving the game? Well, I can’t tell you what it is, but I know what it is, and what it is is AWESOME. So you should play, in hopes that you win it. And, you know, because Paul did all the artwork for it, which makes it even cooler than it would’ve been, otherwise.

The Bear and the Bow

Looking at the screenshots and teasers for Pixar’s upcoming movie Brave, it feels like Pixar phoned up my 6th-grade self and asked, “What would be all the awesomest things you could possibly think of to put in a movie?” I seriously cannot wait for this to hit theatres.

Granted a peerage

After listening to the proceedings of the royal wedding this morning, Paul pronounced us the “Duke and Duchess of Dork.”

Kickstart Pam Noles’ show!

Okay, so a while back I posted about Pam Noles’ new Kickstarter project, and now she’s posted a video, so you can see her amazing storytelling abilities!

I know times are tough all around, but if you have a buck or two, please consider donating to Pam’s project. She’s an amazing writer and performer, and this show’s going to be AWESOME. And FORTY

Thomas Dolby on WNYC

If you can’t wait for the new album, you can hear Thomas Dolby play some of his newest tracks on WNYC’s Soundcheck. And that Toadlickers iPhone game he mentions? Guess who did the interface for it? First two guesses don’t count!

Paul and Green Brain on NPR!

Hey, that radio interview that Kyle Norris of WUOM recorded at Paul’s Green Brain Gallery Opening is on the radio! Go check out the link, there’s a lot of nice pictures of one of the best comics shops on the planet. Thanks again, Dan and Katie, for having us out. You guys are the best!

ETA: It’s gone National! Listen to your local NPR affiliate tomorrow morning to hear Paul talking comics!

Blogware question.

The Fiery Studios sites are currently using MT 4.0. I need to upgrade for a number of reasons, and I’m debating between upgrading to MT 4.3 or ditching MT altogether and moving to WP 3.0.

What I want: Threaded Comments, OpenID logins, captcha, future posting.

MT 4.3 PROS: It’s an actual CMS, has threaded comments & OpenID. All my sites are on it now, so if I get the upgrade working, I don’t have to dink around with the folder structure.

MT 4.3 CONS: Future posting’s a pain to set up, I’ve never been able to get a Captcha plugin to work, and it runs on Perl, argh. Functional Plugins are scarce on the ground, and while 4.3 seems very stable, development’s halted on it entirely, and upgrading further will mean moving to 5.x, whose future is uncertain at best.

WP 3.0 PROS: It has threaded comments and future posting built in, runs on squeaky-clean PHP. Seems to have won the blogware wars handily, and is constantly being upgraded.

WP 3.0 CONS: Managing multiple sites requires a root install, meaning it doesn’t play nice with static index pages. Functional OpenID seems an impossibility, it’s not a real CMS, and its %^&*! page creation templates keep rewriting my code. I’ll have to rebuild all my site templates, import my MT entries, and let any links to my previous blog entries die on the vine.

It’s lousy either way, but does anyone have personal recommendations?


! Death 40-Feet Tall !

Here’s something that I’ve been dying to talk about for a while and NOW I FINALLY CAN!

From Pam Noles:

! Death 40-Feet Tall ! is a one-hour live storytelling show about two best friends, giant robots and the quest to become your own Prime. It’s a storytelling show, not a showcase, about one hour long and family friendly!

Please visit the project page on Kickstarter for full details:

Pam Noles is a former cop reporter and graduate of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.

Go Pam! I’m so proud of you for taking this to the next level. I

If you live in or around Los Angeles, or if you’re a fan of live storytelling (like The Moth), don’t hesitate to check this out! Pam’s an incredible writer, and I’m so looking forward to seeing this show.

He blinded me with design

So all of you guys know that Paul’s been doing a lot of design work lately for Thomas Dolby. But do you know how much design? A LOT. And now there’s more!

Another project I can finally talk about! Yesterday Thomas Dolby revealed “The Floating City”, an online game connected with his upcoming “A Map of the Floating City” album. I have been doing all the game graphics, and it’s going to be a very cool game when it launches. Here’s a peek at the design of the game. More information can be found here.

Seriously, if you haven’t yet, go check out and see Paul’s handiwork. He designed both EPs, the intro screens for the Toadlickers game, the promo work, maps and icons used in the Floating City game, and even the website itself! He’s so amazing. Yay Paul!

There’s even more on the way, so stay tuned.

Effort Shock

Man, I so desperately needed to read this article today. I have been undergoing Effort Shock on a couple of different levels lately, and this really helped put things into perspective.

H/t to Vito Excalibur for the link.

Rape Jokes

Webcomic The Rack speaks up about Rape Jokes: Thank you, Kevin and Benjamin.

Also, a female game developer talks about why she won’t be attending PAX.

I can’t speak to the experience of other women in the industry, but the final straw that caused me to quit going to Motor City Comicon was when Paul told me he sat across from a T-Shirt vendor selling a shirt with the tagline “SHE CALLED IT RAPE. I CALLED IT SURPRISE SEX!” for three days and no one from management said anything about it. Take from that what you will.

Microagressions. They add up.

(h/t to the excellent Geek Feminism blog for the links.)

Lackadaisy Culpability

I know all the world has already linked to this wonderful comic by Tracy J. Butler of Lackadaisy Cats by now, but it’s worth mentioning again, because it’s given me the push I need to admit that I have a problem with the dreaded smarm brow. Oh the embarrassment!

Thanks for the amazing work, Tracy, and for helping keep me honest.

Catching up

It’s been a nice last few weeks. Not much to report, just a lot of work going on behind the scenes on a few different projects I’ll be able to talk about soon. The next few months promise much more of the same, so unfortunately I probably won’t be posting all that much till springtime. But it’s all time well-spent, and I think once everybody sees what I’ve been up to, they’ll be happier with the results and not a bunch of inane blogging.

Still, I’ve had quite a bit of fun in with all the work. We finally got some snow — really good snow, and temperatures to hold it there — and I’ve been out skiing a half-dozen times. Friday I got to go out nightskiing with D. through Asylum Lake, the clouds overhead parting briefly to show a huge glowing Jupiter, then slamming shut again into a claustrophobic, low cover that reflected the city lights so brightly that we cast thin shadows. The weather’s in that perfect winter zone where you get fast easy skiing, the snow squeaking underfoot like beach sand, but not so cold that your face and ass freeze solid before you can get home.

A bunch of guys at work have started a Scoville Heat Units group. We made a field trip to a local shop with an amazing range of hot sauces, and each bought a bottle or two. Then we spent the next couple of lunch hours playing chicken with them. I’m still getting started climbing up the rungs of the heat ladder, but having fun doing so; I’m much fonder of the sauces that have good flavor in addition to heat, so my contributions were more to the fruity end of things, but everyone liked them, so it was all good. So far, so good — no unfortunate side effects — and I’ve even managed some of the mis-named “ghost pepper” sauce.

Paul’s show went really well. A whole lot of people showed up, and he’d already sold copies of the limited-edition prints by the end of the night. Kyle Norris from Michigan Public Radio came by and interviewed Paul, Dan and Katie, and then took a whole lot of audio and photographs for an upcoming NPR spot on the monthly Green Brain Comics Jam. She said there’s even a chance the spot might go national when it runs. Exciting!

Paul and I also joined a couple of friends for an awesome night of cheesemaking yesterday, in preparation for a party next weekend. We made a big loaf of queso blanco, several beautiful lumps of beautiful mozzerella, and some lovely ricotta, which we selfishly savored while it was still warm, garnished with honey and black pepper. No ricotta for anyone else! Just us! Oh so good, and so nice to see S & A, both of whom we get to visit far too rarely.

Bread in the Old Style

So yesterday I baked Reinhart’s pain a l’aincienne, and it was an unequivocal success.

And now I understand what those fancy cookbooks mean by “custard” when they talk about the interior of bread. The crumb was wide open, its thin beautiful tender membranes of gluten surrounding holes big enough to hide olives in, its texture soft and moist but not gummy, almost as though it were solidified custard. Amazing.

The crust was amazingly tender but amazingly flavorful. I’m used to the hard, thick, crunchy crusts of the no-knead bread, the kind that scours the inside of your mouth like bad breakfast cereal if you’re not careful with it. I happen to love this kind of crust, but it’s been rejected by my family as unchewable, so this may become my go-to bread for family gatherings.

The overall flavor was very mild, but I’m assuming that’s because the dough only got about 18 hours’ worth of fermentation time. I still have the other half in the fridge, and am going to let it hang out there until the 4th day, which is the longest Reinhart says you can keep it in there. Then I’m going to make a big gorgeous ciabatta out of it.

Yay for bread!

Levelling up in Bread

I have always loved bread. Well, love probably isn’t quite a strong enough word. I’ve always been deeply passionate about bread. Eating it, kneading it, watching the beautiful proofed boules swell in their bowls, and the amazing way the smell of its baking makes any place feel homey and comforting.

Unfortunately, I’ve been a hopeless baker for most of my life; I’ve turned out an embarrassing number of doorstops over the years, which my friends and relatives ate anyway, bless them. In college my mom gave me a bread machine, which I used faithfully for ten years before I had my first real bread breakthrough: the famous New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe. Combined with what I’ve learned from rearing my sourdough starter, I’ve finally gotten a little bit smarter about bread, come to understand what a dough should feel like, how it should look as it rises, how not to force all the little bubbles out when shaping a loaf.

This year, after visiting a friend whose husband is really into baking (like “takes professional-level classes at the Culinary Institute of America” into baking), I came back home with a burning urge to level up in bread. My Christmas wish list this year was half books, and half baking equipment from King Arthur Flour: red SAF yeast, a proper banneton, and a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day — a wonderful primer on wet-dough, long-fermentation breads, written for novice bakers. [Thanks, Brian! I promise I will gift your family with much better bread from now on!]

Yesterday I went out and bought a baking stone and a “peel” (kitchen hack: I subscribe heavily to Alton Brown’s theory that the only unitasker in your kitchen should be your fire extinguisher, so my “peel” is actually a rimless cookie sheet that I can use for other purposes — and it’s the exact same size as the baking stone, so if I proof the loaves on it, I know it’ll fit on the stone. Look at me bein’ SMRT.) so that I can finally move away from the Dutch Oven method of baking my loaves. Not that it hasn’t been great, but I’m limited to what I can plop down into the pot, which means no shaped loaves or baguettes.

I also bought one more book to use alongside Five Minutes — Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Every Day. I was intimidated by Reinhart’s earlier book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice when I took it out of the library a few years ago, but this one seems pretty rudimentary, which is good for me. I figure that between those two books I should be able to teach myself the artesian bread basics.

I started last night with Reinhart’s pain a’lancienne, and holy dang his dough-kneading techniques are complete magic. I can tell already that this is going to be the start of a beautiful project. The next thing I want to do is the Five Minutes OMGORGEOUS pain d’epi. Seriously, is that not the most beautiful bread ever?

Who knows? Maybe in a year or two I’ll be ready for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge!

Steampunk Faerie!

An awesome librarian let me know I got an early Christmas present this year: I got a mention in The School Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2010 issue as part of their “Steampunk: Full Steam Ahead” list! I’m so excited — thanks so much for the heads-up, TKM!

Man, it’s hard for me to get my brain around the fact that the first Vögelein issue came out almost ten years ago, and was begun nearly fifteen years ago. Who’d have thunk it’d still be relevant? I’m really honored.

Tron 2

Saw a midnight showing of TRON 2.

Tl; DR:

Visually spectacular with the exception of Jeff Bridges’ horrible Polar Express head, but an absolute trainwreck of a plot, ridiculously bad dialogue, and freakishly stylized women.

Slightly longer list of complaints, HERE BE SPOILERS:

Titular character never unmasked, save for in a flashback, and receives only one line in the “present-day” plotline. What’s up with that? Entire movie named after the guy, and you never see his face or get any real chance to connect with him before he dies.

Female lead seems chosen entirely for her ability to look up while her head is tilted down. Sent through to our world without her disc (though Flynn could have quite easily reached down and tossed it to her at any point during his final monologue) which means that her entire history — including her memories of every single one of her people — is virtually erased, and her new boyfriend gets to teach her all about this world with an entirely blank slate, which means that she’s basically his child in addition to his girlfriend. Creepy, especially when you consider how irresponsible he’s been up until that point.

Bad guy monologues to… his programs. You know, the ones he already controls. So why line them up and monologue to them for ten interminable minutes of screen time?

Zeus. Um. Yeah. What.

Five women in the movie, and four of them are creepy siren robots in crippling, practically digitigrade high heels, whose sole purpose is to dress the hero prior to the games. Three women in the movie with lines, one of whose only contribution is saying “He is different.” as she preps his gear. No Bechdel Pass for you.

Watching this crummy plot and acting while the screen is filled with gorgeous, well-executed 3-D CG (again, with the exception of CLU’s face, OMG WHAT) just made the entire experience more frustrating. It’s very obvious to see where the budget went. Honestly, it’s a pity they didn’t just call it TRON GAMES and have them ride the light cycles around for two hours while that amazing ninja they hired to play TRON ran around in the background doing backflips and Daft Punk spun from the DJ booth. Would’ve been a much, much better movie.

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