<M <Y
Y> M>

: Excellent report on what's available at the Union Square Greenmarket. Needs an RSS feed.

Beautiful Soup 3.0.2: No real user-visible changes; it should do what you expect, more reliably. I did add back aliases for the old method names, so your 2.x scripts are pretty likely to work again now.

Mushy Applesauce: I make up random pet names for Sumana. Sometimes there are namespace collisions.

"You're the apple-finder!"
"Wait, I'm the Apple Finder?"

[Comments] (1) Weird Fact: Emacs has no built-in word count function.

[Comments] (1) Brick: Sumana and I went and saw Brick last night. Actually we went to do some unspecified thing in the East Village, and while perusing the Voice (<--aaaaargh) we saw that close by was the only theater in Manhattan playing Brick, so that's what we did.

This is a good movie but, pace Brendan, not the best ever made. The problem is that while it's stylistically excellent, it follows the noir mystery formula too faithfully. The best noir mysteries have a non-stylistic twist on the formula (The Big Lebowski, which for my money remains the king of stylistic twists as well). The best noir movies abandon the mystery element altogether and just go after the depravity of man (Double Indemnity). Or you can just be an extremely confusing mystery like The Big Sleep, which gives you some points in my book. In between you have movies like The Maltese Falcon and Brick, which are very stylish but formulaic.

I think the other major noir subgenre is the underworld film, but I haven't seen any of those yet, so I'm even less able than usual to pass ill-informed judgement. Those movies seem kind of sensationalistic and Manichean, but I could be wrong.

[Comments] (5) : Frickin post office lost eight chapters of my Ruby Cookbook edits.

: Bonus: Beautiful Soup 3.0.3

Anacrusish #5: [This is the entry to which the previous entry was supposed to be a bonus.] While I wait for feedback on my story, here's another Anacrusis-type story for you.


"We are the whales," says Phyla. "the ocean's voice. Keepers of the deep eternal secrets." She strokes the fishbowl of warm seawater.

"We want krill," she says, surprising herself. "You have boats. Go north. Bring us krill." Even this crowd hoots and leaves. A few stay.

"Prepare to be boarded!" says Phyla, still translating. "Drop nets, me hearties!"

"Good job," say the whales. "Now..."

Then, Phyla gets another radio in her head: one eye's made of crystal. "Fishing craft, change course ten degrees."

"I know who you are," she says, "and why you're here."

To her crew: "Load the cannons."

: Great paper on detecting spam web pages. Factoid: about 70% of the sampled .biz sites were spam.

Parrot: Sumana was talking about parrots and I made a penguin noise, which is really the only kind of bird noise I know how to make.

"Parrots don't make that noise!" said Sumana.

"They do if they're around penguins."

MOCCA: We went to the MOCCA indie comics show today with Sarah. We met many people including Ryan North, and spent way too much money on comic books. On Monday something even more awesome will happen.

We met Dorothy of Cat and Girl, who was as shy as I would be if I had written an amazing webcomic and had to stand around while people fawned over me all day. WHAT I AM SAYING IS THAT I SYMPATHIZE.

We wandered for a while (usually but not always a good strategy) and found a good vegan pan-Asian restaurant and a chocolate-obsessed store. Now we are admiring our huge stacks of comic books.

Uncle Leonard's Dub Shack: Hey, Uncle Morty's Dub Shack is showing new episodes again. I meant to warn you earlier, but I was too busy buying comic books. Today they showed the episode in which Sumana and I were extras, and you missed it. Unless you've been Tivoing it, you'll have to wait until it gets rerun, which I'm sure it will be indefinitely.

Here's a still Jimbo sent us, though not from footage that was actually used. I wonder if this qualifies us for IMDB entries. I'm only credited as "Leonard".

I recommend you watch it if only to use our gaudy dress as markers for the amazing continuity errors. We warp around the bar, appearing in almost every scene because we were the only extras who showed up on time for the shoot.

The episode itself is best summarized by a Trevor line: "That's the second-best song I've ever heard about big butts!" Later I'll tell you about a funny scene that they cut.

: Earlier I speculated that you could improve any game by replacing the human characters with cars. The movie Cars demonstrates that this does not work for movies.

One Night Only: On Tuesday I go up to Worcester to start a band with Jake Berendes. Thursday night the band plays a set in Nicholas Reville's basement. Nobody will be there--will you? This amazing musical event will probably NEVER BE REPEATED in the near future!

PS: our band is called "early internet".

[Comments] (2) : Today I hung out with Ryan North! Sumana and I had lunch with him, his SO Allene, and friend Steve. Sumana went back to work but we wandered around and ran into more web comics fans and creators, including David Malki!. Verdict: awesome. Here are a couple pictures.

Never Spent A Single Day In Retail: Until yesterday, when I worked with Jake at Happy Birthday Mike Leslie. Not a whole lot happened, but I made some buttons and then decided to improve the sale value of Jake's junk. I turned a Parcheesi board into a crackpot diagram of the universe (which is a rotating twelve-dimensional hypercube). Today I hope to improve the Ouija board.

Then we went to karaoke, which was fun. Jake and I did a duet on "A Boy Named Sue". Karaoke tip: if you're going to sing "Piano Man", save it for the karaoke contest.

[Comments] (3) : Back in New York. More later.

[Comments] (2) : J. Michael Straczynski's rejected proposal for rebooting the Star Trek franchise. Gorgeous.

[Comments] (4) Extra Spatial Dimensions: I have a question about these little buggers. Kris couldn't answer it, so you know it's tough. Whenever I heard an explanation of string theory or any other theory that predicts more spatial dimensions, they always said the extra dimensions were "rolled up very small". That doesn't make sense. Rolled up very small through what dimensions?

Then I think I figured it out with a Flatland analogy. Suppose Flatland exists in a 3D universe, but one in which nothing is more than a Planck distance tall. The Flatlanders extend in three dimensions, but they only perceive two. They would say that the third dimension was "rolled up very small", even though that doesn't make sense.

Wikipedia seems to back me up on this one, ladies, so the first question is, am I right? Does the analogy hold? Second question is, what is with the "rolled up" nonsense? Are they trying to convey that the structure of space makes it impossible for something to be large in that dimension ("the universe measured along these additional dimensions is subatomic in size")?

[Comments] (4) : Nightmarish tips on flag design. Nightmarish because they present terrifying flag design faux pas I'd never even considered, like putting different things on the front and back of your flag, or including other flags on your flag so that you're always changing it. Gah!

Here Goes Nothing: I submitted my short story to Futurismic. Who knows if they'll like it, but at least I can work on other stuff now instead of always trying to polish it.


"I got a map of the Pacific Ocean."

"I don't like maps of oceans. They're too big. I thought you knew that."

"Well, what if it's like a MAD fold-in? See? Now you can walk from Idaho to Japan."

"That's better."

[Comments] (2) Strapping Young Men: Jake Berendes has two guitars but only one guitar strap. This posed problems when we were practicing for our one and only gig. He ingeniously made a new guitar strap by cutting up a bicycle inner tube. It felt great on the shoulders, really light. Take that, MAKE Magazine!

Then we practiced and played the gig (which went well), and the next day my left hand hurt. The elasticity of the inner tube that made it so easy on the shoulders made it very hard on my left hand, which had to support the neck of the guitar as well as do the fingering. Take that, people who reflexively build anything they see described on a weblog! Fortunately, the pain is now mostly gone.

If we can figure out a way to do that kind of strap that doesn't stress the left hand, we'll have it made. It was really comfortable until I stopped using it.

[Comments] (4) Comic Books: When I was a kid I never read comic books. My uncle Don (I think) once gave me a box full of comic books for Christmas. Now that I think about it, that was a really creative gift, but that box just stayed untouched in my room for about six years until I was about to move out, when I gave it to a friend.

Sumana likes the highbrow comic books they put out nowadays. I've read some of hers and I didn't like those a whole lot either. So what does picky me like? Well, I like ACKs. I like books of comic strips. Though I don't like the comic books themselves, I love the insane crowdedness of the Marvel and DC universes, caused by the respective companies having to crank out twenty books a month for decades.

Jake has a bunch of comic books, and I trust Jake's taste, so when I was in Worcester I decided to give the traditional comic book a try. Verdict: not great. The plots are pretty dull and the dialogue is either stilted or fake-casual. The drawing's good but I don't really notice that kind of thing.


But the big highlight was Jake's set of Ambush Bug comics, which were everything I want comic books to be. Unfortunately, Ambush Bug can only exist in the context of everything I find boring about comic books.

Ambush Bug is if Checkerboard Nightmare lived in the DC universe and thought he was Superman's pal. He had bit parts in Superman comics (including one where he kind of casually figures out Superman's secret identity), and then two mini-series of his own. Which actually ended the same way Checkerboard Nightmare ended. But which mainly focused on the weirdness of obscure comic book characters and the nature of continuity. It's really funny stuff and I recommend it. The miniseries also has parodies of those comic book ads that sell junk that doesn't work, which aren't that funny, but you can never have enough parodies of those ads.

A Prairie Home Companion: A fun movie, not mind-blowing, about what you'd expect. Garrison Keillor is self-deprecating and deadpan funny and writes the worst parts of his personal life into the script. The singers are good, the plot happens, there are dirty jokes. Oh, the penguin joke is in this movie, too. It's good to see in the theater, but with prices the way they are these days you might want to wait.

Lucky Wander Boy: I've had this book for a long time, but I held off reading it because I knew it had thematic overlap with the story I just finished. I didn't want to accidentally plagiarize it, or always be second-guessing myself about similarities.

Now I've read it and I'm happy to report that there's not much overlap. It's true that these are the only two pieces of fiction I know of that use MAME as a dramatic device, but the purpose is totally different. I would actually say this book is closer to Frog/Antifrog.

Okay, about the book itself. The middle is a Douglas Coupland-esque slog, but the beginning is fun and the end has a twist that I should have seen coming but didn't. Good job--the best kind of twist. Plus, there's a tiny piece of exposition hidden in the book that makes the central reveal semi-plausible sci-fi instead of squishy novel mysticism. I think many people who didn't like the ending missed that piece of exposition. But I say, thanks for including it, D. B. Weiss.

Fascinating! Educational!: Reproduce trademarked characters and sell them! via Kevan.

Nobody Expects The Game Roundup: But here it is.

ActiveResource: Excellent.

[Comments] (1) Game Roundup Addendum: I didn't mention this yesterday because I wanted to go to sleep instead of playtesting, but Battle for Wesnoth is a really good turn-based strategy game. Simple with good presentation. The only downside is the cheesy fantasy art in the cut scenes.

: Sorry for no NYCB. I'm in the early stages of working on another book, as you can probably tell if you watch my del.icio.us feed. Also writing an article and fiction. Why should I waste my time with this puny weblog? My atomic grapefruit will split it asunder, revealing the iron-rich core within!

<M <Y
Y> M>


Unless otherwise noted, all content licensed by Leonard Richardson
under a Creative Commons License.