Hey all, welcome to my inaugural post as a regular Bark contributor! I wanted to start things off ambitiously and begin with the first post in a series I like to call Fiction’s Dirty Little Secret. While I severely doubt I’ll be writing anything risqué (I might give you a pic of a hardcover without its slip if you’re good), titling things dirty and secretive are supposed to draw a crowd. There’s a dirty little secret about advertising for ya.
When I say Fiction’s Dirty Little Secret™, I’m talking about how writing appeals to our base desires. Sure, the brain gets off on watching K in Kafka’s The Castle talk his way through a never ending bureaucracy, but some of the most memorable pieces of writing are those that punch us right in the gut with a fist constructed of unicorn tears. Fiction’s dirty little secret is that no matter how you dress it up in social relevance or political statements, it’s got to tell a good story. Thus, this series will cover all the good stories that get told outside of the literary community
Forward Unto Dawn is a five-part science fiction miniseries created as promotional media for the first person shooter video game Halo 4, and while I’ve had a longstanding belief that the only good piece of cinematography that’s ever come from a video game is the live-action Super Mario Bros movie staring Bob Hoskins, I’m willing to make an exception for Forward Unto Dawn. Go ahead and take 15 minutes out of your day to watch Part 1. Nerdgasms commence after the jump and I’ll keep it as spoiler-free as possible.
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I will not be the first person to smuggle discussion of video games onto Bark, but I will be the first to ask its readers to make them.
At first this suggestion will seem crazy. “But Andrew,” you say, “not only am I unable to program a computer, I also lack millions of dollars and furthermore, if I had that kind of scratch, I would pay off my student loans and buy a macbook made out of solid gold before creating a video game, because most of those are a simulation of man pointing a gun at a face and shooting it, over and over, until the end of time.”
The video game literati will be happy to inform you that there are plenty of games not about face shooting or about bird flinging, that are about more sophisticated things or at least slightly less embarrassing ones. These games are good, but these games also cost millions of dollars to make. But what I’m actually here to talk about is how it is now possible to make a video game with no programing skill and no money, and how, because of that, people are now starting to make games for and about people who would otherwise have no interest in video games. There are very few of them, and they are hard to find, but they exist, and they are doing wonderful things. They tend to have names like “Space Marine Pet Shop” in which you guide a hulking video game protagonist on a journey to buy a kitten without dying on too many spikes, or “A Soul-Crushing Drive Through the Bowels of Kotzebue, Alaska” which is the most accurate portrayal of a soul-crushing drive through the bowels of Kotzebue, Alaska ever created. Read more »
I was reading the back cover of “Boys Adrift,” a book by Dr. Leonard Sax concerning why boys are struggling in our school system, when a sentence jumped out at me. “He shows how we have created an environment that is literally toxic to boys.”
“Literally toxic”? Like they were being poisoned by the chairs and the teachers’ perfume? I laughed. I told my relatives about this silly sentence, but oddly curious, I started paging through, wondering if Sax actually meant boys were being poisoned?
We will see that the average young man today has a sperm count less than half what his grandfather had at the same age. Likewise, a young boy today has bones that are significantly more brittle than a boy of the same age thirty years ago.
I’d been interested before, but this was crazy. This lower sperm count doesn’t seem to be changing the birth-rate for one thing. And are boys getting broken bones more often than their grandparents did? Where do these statistics come from?
But really, I was interested in a detailed analysis of how our society has changed when it comes to the education of young boys. I haven’t had time to read the book yet. But having been one myself, already knew that boys were struggling. Here are some statistics cited by Dr. Sax. Read more »
I know that compared to the winter they’re having in places like New York and Boston we don’t have all that much to complain about here in Michigan, but what can I say? Anything below 65 degrees is enough to make me forlorn; anything below 45 is going to make me downright cranky. And this weekend was by far the coldest we’ve had all year, not to mention we got more snow, more wind…yeah. You get the picture. What I’m trying to say is that I spent the past 72-ish hours wrapped up enchilada style inside 3 blankets and made myself as unproductive a human being as possible (except for the three hours during which I felt that a hockey game would be a good way to warm up). So today I’ve got a motley collection of links that I’ve been randomly amassing over the last while. Enjoy! And may spring arrive quickly.
This is apparently old, old news, but I only just found out about it. Apparently an artist was commissioned to create a sidewalk mural out front of a public library in California a few year back. The artwork included a large number of tiles, many (all?) of which bore names and associated images of famous thinkers. Except that, once finished, people began to notice that many of the names were misspelled. Einstein was Eistein, Shakespeare was Shakespere, etc. When asked to correct the work, the artist, a former teacher, threw what essentially amounts to a temper tantrum, defending her mistakes as part of the art.
Want to know what books were bestsellers the week you were born? I know this has kept me personally up at night. Well wonder no more. Read more »