Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mary Worth Weirdness

I am always amazed at the amount of work people put into honoring / satirizing (the line can be very thin) their favorite serial comics, such as Apartment 3-G, Gil Thorpe, For Better or For Worse, and Mary Worth. This is great because these venerable comics have survived for decades, despite the fickle and unforgiving newspaper comics business, which has trended toward favoring gag-a-day strips (which I love too) to the detriment of serial dramas. These serial strips, which tend to be unintentionally hilarious and over-the-top outrageous, are definitely kept alive by their fans.

A case in point is a bizarre website installment I stumbled across while trying to search for a good Mary Worth RSS feed (still looking, by the way). I watched, in a state of unexplainable discomfort, these oddly hypnotizing movies: 3D Lego-styled characters acting out the geriatric, judgmental adventures of Charterstone's most meddlesome biddy. They speak in appropriately robotic tones and periodically pause to gesticulate and convulse with dead expressions on their smooth faces. What insane, dedicated fan spends the time to create this brilliant mess? I will certainly be following this site, which seems to contain a lot of other comic strip snarkiness and sublty funny strip modifications, in the future.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Congrats on 5 Years, Comics Curmudgeon

The Comics Curmudgeon, a blog that cleverly snarks on, lampoons, and lambastes the funny pages, had its 5 year anniversary this weekend. I wanted to give it a shout out because I truly think it is a gem that never fails to brighten my day.

Most people can agree that today's newspaper funnies are generally pretty lame, but I nonetheless could never give up my Sunday morning routine of reading the big, colorful comics section while eating breakfast and drinking coffee. I always marveled at the audacity of cartoonists making a living off of such blatantly unfunny strips such as Family Circus and Marmaduke; the Comics Curmudgeon's Josh Fruhlinger reinforces my obsession with cartoon mediocrity, and employs observational snarks that are brilliant in their high-minded ludicrousness.

Where else on the Internet would you find someone making reference to an obscure 1930s German short story to describe a lame Family Circus "ants in the picnic" punchline, or bravely calling out irascible old Crankshaft for the bitter, lonely sex offender that he is? Just as entertaining are the numerous comments after each post from the CC's many dedicated readers. Bravo Josh, and congratulations.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My (Short So Far) Experience with Twitter

As a computer professional I try to keep myself curious about new technology, even technology that I don't at first appreciate or understand. A perfect case in point is Twitter. I read about how microblogging was changing media paradigms and how everyone was integrating Twitter into their communications arsenal, from journalists to celebrities to special-interest websites.

To an extent, I understood the advantages of broadcasting short pieces of information; for example I think it's great fun to see what your friends are doing on Facebook. But I never quite got why there was so much hype, nor was I convinced that Twitter was much more than a fad. It seemed to be a lazy way to exacerbate our society's already epidemic attention deficit disorder, as well as an unnecessary tool for further increasing the noise-to-information ratio on the Internet.

But like a good curiousity seeker, I decided to bite the bullet and give Twitter a try. I signed up for an account a few weeks ago and have been tweeting pretty moderately since. Not on my phone - that would drive me crazy - but just in quiet moments in front of the computer. I found that Twitter is a great medium for broadcasting rhetorical questions and observations, as well as posting interesting links and special interest news, that you might never feel was appropriate for an entire blog post or for sharing with all your friends and family on Facebook. It's kind of a low-barrier outlet in which to throw your musings and stream of consciousness thoughts.

Most people who don't like Twitter, including myself just months ago, argue that they have no interest in reading inanities, such as what someone "had for breakfast" this morning. I think that may be a misconception - what I have found is that good Twitterers don't usually post mundane breakfast menus (although I am not proud that I once tweeted on flossing my teeth, which promptly led to my wife dropping me from her follow list). When you tweet, you tend to post your thoughts on things of interest to you - and presumably to your followers.

To that end I decided to start focusing more on The Remonstrance in my tweets, which you are welcome to follow, though I will continue to post whatever of my interests (music, computer programming, politics, sports) comes into my head. It may be that I will eventually lose interest and decide that Twitter is not for me. Or maybe something better will come along and leave Twitter in that same shadowy and moribund realm shared by MySpace and (shudder) Friendster. But for now I like that I found something positive about a technology that I used to think epitomized frivolous technological douchebaggery. Remember: cynism is fun, but an open mind will ultimately make you much happier and wiser.

UPDATE 8/16/2009: I have since created a separate feed for The Remonstrance, to allow for a tighter focus on things related to the comic. You can follow it at