New podcast: We Have Such Films To Show You

So! I’ve started doing a podcast miniseries with my friend from the internet, Yakov “griphus on Metafilter” Grinberg. We’re watching all of the Hellraiser films—there’s nine of them so far—and discussing/reviewing/dissecting/boggling-at them, one movie at a time.

It’s called We Have Such Films To Show You—that’s the blog for the show, there—and you can listen to episodes there or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or RSS.

We recorded our first episode a couple days ago, going over the original 1987 film (written and directed by Clive Barker, the horror author whose novella The Hellbound Heart was the basis for the film), and it was a fantastic time and two hours just flew by. If you’ve seen the film or are otherwise familiar already with the Hellraiser franchise or Barker’s work, you’re pretty much the target demographic already, but we talk in enough loving, rambling detail about the content of the film that it’s probably plenty listenable even coming at it cold if you enjoy listening to a couple of enthusiastic nerds bullshitting about the pros and cons of 80s horror filmmaking.

We’ll be doing another episode every couple weeks.

Announcing LARP Trek, a new webcomic

Something I’ve cooked up in the last week and just launched properly on Monday:

LARP Trek, a comic about the crew of the Enterprise coping with the holodeck being broken by playing a table-top roleplaying game called “Deep Space Nine”.

larp trek number five

I’ve got an abiding affection for this whole franchise, and I’m having a good time subverting it a little bit with this. Though I’m not sure how much of a subversion it really is to portray Riker as a horndog.

The one-off gags aside, the whole thing has something resembling narrative continuity so far, so it’s probably best to start at the first strip.

Introducing Mapstalgia – video game maps drawn from memory

An idle thought the other day turned into a new blog (those who know me will be shocked to hear this, I know), and it’s one that I’m pretty excited about:

Mapstalgia - video game maps drawn from memory

Mapstalgia is a growing collection of drawn-from-memory maps of video games. Essentially, it’s a library of memories of fictional worlds: people doing their best to render what they recall of shared pop-culture video game spaces.

It’s open for submissions, so if you have even a dim recollection of a game you’ve played, whether a week ago or twenty years ago, go scratch out a map on a napkin if nothing else and drop it into Mapstalgia’s submission form.

The site is still brand new but it’s gotten some nice mentions on twitter (cheers to @liquidindian, @auntiepixelante, and, as I am writing this, Xbox heavy @majornelson) and I woke up this morning to a nice writeup from Rock Paper Shotgun, so I’m pretty excited about the response.

I’d love to see this just keep growing. Our collective time spent with games is such a huge well of spatial and experiential memory that this feels like one of those things that anyone can, and everyone should, have a crack at.

Introducing The Square Foot

I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on a new photoblog, The Square Foot, focusing on documenting Portland one literally-framed square foot at a time.

Statue face with white and red eyes

I’ve always enjoyed photography; I grew up around cameras, learned dark room workflow in high school, and have posted thousands of photos over the years to my flickr account. But I have trouble being consistent about shooting; I’ll get excited for a few days, or document an event or a trip, but I won’t keep shooting daily.

Honda motorcycle in alley

And so this is an attempt to give myself a little bit of structure, a reason to go out every day and look around and try to find a half-dozen good shots, to think about composition and about getting more than just a good-enough snapshot out of my camera.

Lunch at James John Cafe

It’s also a way for me to be more conscious of where I live — my street, my neighborhood, my town. I love Portland but it’s easy to get used to a place and stop thinking about all the little weird details and bits of character that define it. Familiarity leads to taking for granted; I’m hoping I’ll do a little less of that now. I’m enjoying walking around an noticing new details for the first time, but I’m also excited to go back to places I’ve been, to photograph the things that I already think of as being Portland.

St. Johns Bridge

The Square Foot is already shaping up to be a pretty satisfying personal project; I hope others, Portlanders and not, get a kick out of it as well.

The Big Markovski

So I put together a thing that takes the script of The Big Lebowski and chews it up and spits out things like this:

It uses Markov chains, one of my favorite bits of applied mathematics in the whole dang world, and it is fairly silly and you can go play with it here:

~ The Big Markovski ~

If you pay enough attention to the odd stuff I get up to, you might recognize this as a port of a very similar previous project, Previously, On The X-Files, which was itself a significant elaboration on an even previouserly project called Garkov that mashed up Markov chains and Jim Davis’ Garfield comics.

One interesting point of comparison between Markovski and the X-Files project is that there’s a great deal less raw material for this new one to work with—Spooky Mulder had something like 15,000 lines of dialogue over 9 seasons, whereas The Dude has maybe 450 total in the Lebowski script. So you see less mid-sentence swerves with this one than with the POTX project; a smaller corpus of input means less resynthesis and more verbatim regurgitation for any given generated statement.

Clearly, the brothers Coen need to address this by writing a long-running TV series in the Duderverse. Until then, we’ll just have to make do with this as is.

Announcing Josh Millard, Musician!

I’ve just launched a long-overdue new site dedicated specifically to archiving and blogging about my musical output:

Josh Millard, Musician

I’ve collected several hundred songs and recordings of same from the last fifteen years or so in one place, organized for easy browsing and quick listening via embedded mp3 players. It’s a work in process as I continue to do writeups about individual songs and collections, and I’ll be making music-oriented blog entries over there as well.

Stupid Airline Tricks

So there it is: I’m going to spend a month flying around on Jetblue and visiting an unreasonably large number of my fellow Metafilter members.

Thanks to Jetblue’s stuntish (and sold-out-early) All-You-Can-Jet promotion, I’ll be spending the month from September 8th through October 8th flying around the continental United Stated, hitting a new city just about every other day and partying my ass off with mefites.

It’s an aggressive schedule; I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I’m excited and a little terrified, and I think it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun.

My city-by-city itinerary looks like this:

Portland, ME
Randolph, VT
New Orleans
Las Vegas
San Francisco
Salt Lake City

I plan on documenting the trip heavily as I go, and I’ll be documenting the run-up to the 8th as well as I figure out how, exactly, I’m going to pull this thing off.

Announcing FLEE!, a simple flash game

So I’ve been getting back into Flash after having fiddled with it a very little bit a couple years ago, and my first real attempt at building something respectable is done:

FLEE!, a simple implementation of a classic computer game called “Robots”. Abstract polygonal graphics! Minimalist trappings! Combinatoric background music (129 possible soundtrack loops)! Go give it a shot!

I’m trying to do things right this time around and actually learn the language from the ground up amidst my instant-gratification fiddling about (see above). I’m impressed so far by how much more robust Actionscript 3 is than AS2 was. So far it’s a lot of fun, and it’s nice to have an excuse to do some programming other than one-off perl scripts.