Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dwarf Fortress

Single-player massively complicated fantasy role-playing game with realistic weather, geology, and ASCII art.

If I was still 13 years old, I'd probably be really good at this.

"The combat model uses skills, body parts, individual tissues, material properties, wrestling, charging and dodging between squares, bleeding, pain, nausea, various poison effects and much more.

A dynamic weather model tracks wind, humidity and air masses to create fronts, clouds, rain storms and blizzards.

Over two hundred rock and mineral types are incorporated into the world, placed in their proper geological environments."

(Check out this player, who's converted his dwarf fortress into a fully functional Turing machine)

He's Not Gary

This particular dialogue happened a few weeks back and I've been turning it over in my mind ever since. Probably funnier if you live in Vancouver and know the protagonists.

RODNEY GRAHAM [at PFB counter]: Thanks CJB!

[exits; beat]

YOUNG WHITE HIPSTER: He's pretty light!

CJB: Huh?

YWH: Don't you know who that was?

CJB: Sure.

YWH: Stan Douglas. That guy's all about race, but he's so light he can pass.

CJB: Uh, no, that wasn't--

YWH: Stan Douglas, man. Half black.

CJB: Uh, no.

YWH: Yes. I heard about it down at Emily Carr.

Which brings to mind the old question, "Who is to blame?" Many of my friends would say, "the art school," but I choose to blame the pungent cloud of cannabis sativa surrounding YWH in its warm and loving arms.


To the southwest for two weeks with Sam and D., good companions in solitude. Despite this digital scrapbook I'm not really a people person; my ideal job consists of sitting in a room with the window open and the door closed, reading and writing and thinking with the cat nearby, or moving, preferably unobserved, through the world with my camera, looking for things-in-themselves (q.v. Lee Friedlander's "nervous hunting of a one-eyed cat").

I haven't been to Utah or Colorado since 1998, the year I cashed out my retirement savings and went to Arizona to buy the books that eventually became PFB's initial shelf stock. But I always associate the lengthening days and the strong, equal light with a sense of freedom. Of beginning again, and moving along.

So: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, maybe Colorado, Utah again, Nevada, California and home, with Rose T. Cat and Scat riding shotgun.

Back soon.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crack Shack or Mansion?

(via everybody)
Monday, April 12, 2010

The Greatest
Words and music by Chan Marshall

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

Melt me down
Into big black armor
Leave no trace of grace
Just your honor
Lower me down
To culprit south
Make 'em wash a space in town
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleepin'
Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
Two fists of solid rock
With brains that could explain
Any feeling

Lower me down
Pin me in
Secure the grounds
For the lead
And the dregs of my bed
I've been sleepin'
For the later parade

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

"Fun for cats! PLEASE NOTE - cats may need your help to build the models."

Spoorloos, 1988, dir. George Sluzier.

"Snell’s law describes how light rays bend when they pass from air into water, as they do when shining into a swimming pool. Light moves more slowly in water, much like the hiker in the snow, and it bends accordingly to minimize its travel time. Similarly, light also bends when it travels from air into glass or plastic as it refracts through your eyeglass lenses.

The eerie point is that light behaves as if it were considering all possible paths and automatically taking the best one. Nature. . .somehow knows calculus."
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Waste Our Time, Please

Via Chris C., the shop's manager:

GUY [of stack of Philip K. Dick books on the counter]: How much'd ya pay for these?

CC: They're just coming in; I'm still cleaning and pricing them.

GUY: I'll give you what you paid for them, plus a dollar.

CC: What?

GUY: Think it over man. Turnover.

CC: Thanks anyway!

To add insult to injury, GUY and his pal then wandered aimlessly around the shop for twenty minutes, occasionally pointing at CC and making comments about "Savvy Business Guy."
Friday, April 09, 2010
250 mg Erythromycin

Barrel-shaped tablets, bright pink. I keep coughing and shivering with the chills I was warned about, the night sweats and drifting sense of lassitude that had me peering out the window of dru's Subaru yesterday at Chilliwack's magnolias; hazelnut farms; the Cheam Range, fresh with late season powder. And then, later, the powerful antibiotic beginning its work, deep sleep, uninterrupted by the cat grazing the mint plants on the window ledge. A sense of being reborn in a younger body. Of reconstruction. Of starting again.


Q: What should stay the same?

JEFF WALL: I’d like to see certain places remain as they are or, better, as they were when I first encountered them. Alleyways or open, unused or neglected spaces in the city of Vancouver (or any city), spaces that weren’t useful for whatever reason and got left in an in-between state – between nature and dereliction – and which I have always somehow associated with freedom. But they can’t stay the same and they haven’t; they’ve been built over now and built over with things I can’t associate with the happiness I’m looking for.

(The interview's last line a reformulation of a Thierry de Duve quote, and one of the very few things about art that I know to be true)

Do you link to Amazon in your blog posts? Our Amazon Associates integration makes linking easier, and can even earn you some money! Details here.

No amount of money could ever be enough. Try again, guys.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010
An Interesting (But Long) Story

Worth reading and memorable, but I'm not going to quote from it here out of respect for one of the protagonists, who, at least in his private life, is as shy as I am. A remarkable generosity of spirit on display; I hope it brightens your day as much as it did mine.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Today's soundtrack -- Classic (KW feat. Rakim, Nas, & KRS One)

Ask the teenagers, OGs and ask the kids
What they definition of 'classic' is
Timeless, 'cause age don’t count in the booth
And your flow stays submerged in the fountain of youth

Furniture Dealer's Window, Vancouver, 2010

I Apologize a Trillion Times

Ms. Jackson -- absurdly catchy Outkast track, owls and puppies and kittehs bopping happily along for forever ever evah!
Saturday, April 03, 2010

Recent reading:

Fred Kaplan, Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer
Thierry de Duve et al., Jeff Wall: The Complete Edition
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln
Lydia Davis, Collected Stories
Michael R. Taylor et al., Marcel Duchamp: Etant Donnes
Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham et al., Fables #6 (comic book series)

Professional Photo-Editing Software Wants to Be Free

So I'm making a picture which, for various complicated reasons, is a composite image, made up of bits and pieces of six different exposures. At first I thought I'd have to save up for a professional version of Photoshop ($800+ CDN) to complete it, but then realized, wait! This is 2010! Digital toolkits want to be free! And promptly downloaded and installed the latest stable release of GIMP, a very powerful image editor, with which I am currently cutting-and-pasting my little architectural composition together. Eat your heart out, Oscar Rejlander.

(Speedy, below, also lightly GIMPed -- parallel foreground lines, contrast, yellow sign's pebbly textured surface, etc. But this technical stuff isn't too interesting, and I won't refer to it that often)

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