Friday, March 28, 2008

Best Comic(s) Of The Week 13

I had a birthday at some point this week. With all the homework it's a bit fuzzy though. Oh well, this is what I did this week: bought a binder and painted it:


So what if I mispelled theory twice. I get the idea.

I discovered this three weeks ago and have been quoting it ever since. FInally getting around to sharing The House of Cosbys:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

To the comics themselves! Warehouse made my week. Thank you Warehouse for three great comics in a row.

The Warehouse:
I'll See if I can Pencil You In
Sieg Hello!
Licorice

Extra Life: A Life Electric which mixes Star Wars and this legendary video.

Hijinks Ensue: He's a Maniac on the Floor. This one gets included because of the uproariously funny blog post below the comic.

Ctrl+Alt+Del: It Could Still Make a Cake

XKCD: #400: Important Life Lesson

FoxTrot: Easter

Cectic: Dualism Core

Calamities of Nature: Stupid Stickers 1 and Stupid Stickers 2

And now for the dailies. There is neither a Cyanide and Happiness or a Dinosaur Comics this week because neither made me laugh.

Calvin and Hobbes: Baseball

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Drinking Problem

Friday, March 21, 2008

Best Comic(s) Of The Week 12

As usual, my favorite is at the top. A really busy week this week.

Dinosaur Comics has been on a roll recently. I like their last six in a row. My favorite from this week is the Beach Boys one.

White Ninja: Health Care

Basic Instructions: How to Share your Enthusiasm

Hijinks Ensue: Intelligent Political Discourse

The Warehouse: Raver Saves Hundreds

And for some more new ones:

Cectic: UFO

The Librarianist: LL

Best of the dailies:

Cyanide and Happiness: St Paddy's Day

SMBC: Chess Tips and Batman says: I'm stupid?

Book of Biff: Disc

And in the Dailies category, Matt introduced me to Lio. My favorite from this week is Lost.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today Is:

The First Day of Spring. In celebration, I made Lemonade and wore a bright shirt. It was even warm outside:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Into The Fold


Plowed Under: Agriculture and Environment in the Palouse
by Andrew P Duffin
[I hadn't even heard of environmental history until a few days ago, then when I heard Duffin was coming to speak I took a look at his book and realized that it is exactly my project. The book is very well written. Super informative without being dry. So far, I would say this is Pulitzer material - as good as The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which is one of my all-time favorite books.]


The State of Architecture at the Beginning of the 21st Century
Ed. by Bernard Tschumi
[Dillon gave me the tip on this one. I started my forray into architectural theory at the beginning: De Architectura. For me, that perspective is as zoomed out as it gets, and I'm all about studying history. Almost immediately I jumped to Tschumi's Architecture and Disjunction. His writing is fluid and clear, if at times less than concise. This book is a collection of essays from the participants in a conference. The design of the book is wonderful: The two tables of contents, subjects and names, feature prominently on the front and back cover respectively. Flipping through the book looking for an essay is not a two-part task anymore: I do not learn the page number of the essay, than find that page number in the book, rather, I flip through the book reading the names which have taken the place of page numbers, until I find the essayist I want. This is intuitive for me. Also, each essayist gets a spread to do what they will with. While some, like Rem Koolhaas, decide to fill it mostly with text, others have little text and fill one page with a headline or scenes from the Life of Bryan.]


Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965-1995
Ed. by Kate Nesbitt
[Dillon gave me the tip on this one. Nesbitt starts with Venturi of course, in '65. Then chronologically traces the major architectural theories of the years listed through essays from the time period by the proponents/instigators of the theories themselves. Invaluable as an overview, starting point, and to slowly get deeper into architectural theory.]


Toward an Architecture
by Le Corbusier
[Saying this is one of the most important books in architectural theories history is beyond redundant. A version existed for years titled Towards a new Architecture, which I never read because they mistranslated the title (Vers une Architecture) and I was afraid I would be reading a crappy translation. Well, this new translation came out, and they got the title right, so I bought it. It is thick, with almost 70 pages of introductions, and so far, I am loving it. Apparently, and I have heard this from Dillon and others, English-speaking architects who have spoken of "massing" their buildings out, are responding to a mistranslation of the word volumizing, a cognate, from the previous translation.]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Best Comic(s) Of The Week 11

Back on schedule. That's right. As always, personal favorite two are at the top.

The Warehouse: War and Pizza

Hijinks Ensue: It's a Trap!

White Ninja Comics: White Ninja Joins a Club

XKCD: Morning

Penny Arcade: Dongs are Everywhere

Basic Instructions: How to Rationalize

Monkey Fluids: Practical Japery

FoxTrot: Brawl Pre-Order

And now, since there are a ton of good Daily strips, here are the best of the dailies:

Cyanide & Happiness: Behold King Bowser

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: My Legs!

Real Life: Culinary School's Worth

Calvin and Hobbes: Susie's Birthday Cake

Dinosaur Comics: T-Rex has an Idea Part 1 and Part 2

And I found two new comics this week, and both of them are pretty funny. The first is Calamities of Nature and this one is one of my favorites.

The second one is legendarily funny. After reading the ones posted up this month alone, I had to read every single comic. I did. I laughed the entire time. I present what may well be my favorite comic on the internet, The Book of Biff:

Favorite from this week: Java.

And favorites from the Archives: Orb, Flour, Skip, Dust, Paint, Mouse Trap, Lemon, Bolt, Milk, and Cracker.

Happy Birthday


Every year I treasure March 14th for it being Pi day, and for it being Einstein's birthday. Einstein is one of my personal heroes for his skill in all realms (political, physical, philosophical) but there is one place I am always disappointed that he did not, or could not, spend more time: education reform. As a High School drop-out and a Graduate student he had a good view of the entire educational system, and he found it quite lacking:

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

Yet he remained entirely optimistic about the possibilities of education throughout his life:

1931: "Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."

1949: "I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals."

1951: "I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values."

I think the balance of cynicism and optimism he held education in is necessary for education to become valid for all people and to move forward with its possibilities and goals. Education is fucked up right now. It is not education, it is jumping through hoops like dolphins.


I hope that the next generation or the one after that has an educational system that looks back to the example set by Einstein, by Kant, and by Picasso, rather than being forced to go through the same educational system we have today.

Monday, March 10, 2008

On Saturday, I Found A Lost Town, And It Stunned Me


The town certainly isn't lost to those who live there, but to me, I had never heard of it. The town has three streets: Becker Road, Johnson Road, and Butte Street. Yeah, Google Earth is really high resolution in Eastern Washington and the Palouse, isn't it?

I was hunting for rills when I came around a corner and saw a mammoth grain elevator. Now, I hadn't seen a car in 20 minutes so this surprised me. Before I reached the grain elevators I had to drive through town. There are maybe ten houses there. There was also this old two room schoolhouse with beautiful brickwork. The school was boarded up with dimension lumber, not the usual plywood. In the cornice-work was painted, "Johnson High School 1925."

A few of the houses had old cars and nice gardens in front of them. One of the houses had a rice burner in front of it. There was even the dilapidated start to a downtown: a single-room, white, brick building with a facade and blank sides so other buildings can join up and help it make a downtown. That was on Becker Road, which is one of the better roads I've been on:


Becker is this loop through the hills of the Palouse. It has some amazing corners and a long straight stretch through a farmer's compound. One of the better corners - a left hand crest that tightens at the top - gave me this shot:


I guess I was in Washington, but I thought it was on the Idaho side. I asked around and none of my college friends had heard of it either. The town has signs for who lives where: at one point I thought I found a fourth street, but realized it was just a driveway. I looked closer at what I thought was the street sign and it said the patriarch's name. I don't know anyone from Johnson. I work retail and have met a lot of people in the area, but nobody has said, "I'm from Johnson," to me. Hell, it's not even a town anymore. To quote Rem, "I was embarrased that there was this world I didn't understand." That's why I didn't take any pictures of the town. Next time I might, but I couldn't then.

Rem again: "Cities are the machinery with which modernization takes place."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Graphic Design Week Post 5 / Best Comic(s) Of The Week 10

So here we are at the end of Graphic Design Week. While this week has been going on, some pretty amazing experiences happened to me. From holding the SCL proposal to meeting Stefan Sagmeister, this was definitely a week of Graphic Design all around. So here at the end of the week, here's a couple of typography blags that will be added to the list on the right:
I Love Typography
Open Type: Ralf Hermann's Typography Weblog
Typblography, the Phinney-us Blogg

And here are two other links that I like:
Typophile
Thing I Have Learned In My Life So Far

Now on to my weekly Graphic Design Post:

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BEST COMIC(S) OF THE WEEK 10

I didn't think that many comics were funny this week. It was pretty easy to pick out my favorites this week - the ones that were funny were funny. Anyways, my favorite two is at the top.

XKCD: Ultimate Game (About This)
RPG will be around for a long time. Thanks for the Genre, Gary.

Real Life: I No Longer Understand the Internets
Okay, so this one is from July 2007, but I just finished reading every single RLC on the web and this is one of my favorites - and it's been used by me and my friends so much already.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: #1110

Dinosaur Comics: Programming

Calvin and Hobbes: Jump, Jump, Jump, I win!

Ctrl+Alt+Del: Uncomfortable

Dueling Analogs: So Long, Gary

The Warehouse: Bless You

White Ninja Comics: Compass

ActionTrip: PC Piracy

Monkey Fluids: Splishy Splashy

Matt from Motoblog introduced me to this strip this week:
Truck Bearing Kibble: The Treachery of Base Building
Fossilwood

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Graphic Design Week Post 4: Helvetica

Hi everyone,
They're going to show the movie about the typeface Helvetica tomorrow at noon in TLC 044 if anyone is interested. It is very well done and extremely entertaining, I thought.
See you tonight,
K.


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Okay, it’s no secret that I’m a bibliophile. In my last post I mentioned my elaborate mating ritual with each new book I get. Step 4 was to search for a colophon and look at how many types there were and how they interacted. I love typography; I have always been fascinated by it. Growing up I couldn’t understand why there were so many types and why so many of them looked similar. As I studied typography I realized they looked similar only because I wasn’t really seeing the types. Well then I got interested in what the designers said their types did and yada yada yada. I love type.


So when I heard they were going to show a movie on Helvetica at school I was stoked. I asked my prof if I could leave class early that day to attend and he said no, so I skipped.
PRIORITIES
I figured the film would be one of two things: short and concise, or long and unnecessarily informative. For the latter I was envisioning lines like, “And then when he kerned the 'r' just a little farther away from the 'm,' everything came together and we knew we had a blockbuster. I mean, it was like seeing the light.” I was more hoping for a documentary on the sordid and notorious history of this amazing font and how it came to be, but the movie was none of those three.


Helvetica is a documentary on the history of Graphic Design in the 20th century, focusing on reactions for and against the font Helvetica. If there is a Graphics Designer you have heard of, he or she is probably in here, talking about Helvetica & Them. The movie is beautifully organized. Each section leads to the next perfectly and only after the movie is over do the sections become apparent. Interspersed throughout these hilarious and intelligent interviews are stunning images of Helvetica in the wild. The movie opens with images of Times Square and cuts that with the construction of the title page. If somebody asked me to rate this movie on a scale of how much I liked it, I would have to say this movie is documentary perfection. It is surprising, funny, smooth, and beautiful while still being intelligent, questioning, and in-depth without being overly long or tedious or forced. I must now watch every other film by Gary Hustwit I can get my hands on. That is how good this film is. Oh, and the soundtrack is awesome too.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Graphic Design Week Hump Day: S,M,L,XL

It is already day three in Graphic Design Week and I am getting obsessed. I have an obsessive personality. This is good though. As Ken Radtkey says, "I spend 50% of my time designing architecture and 50% on Graphic Design."

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In 1995 OMA, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau showed the world what an architecture book could be. At 1376 pages, 9.5 x 7.7 x 2.8 inches, and 6 pounds, S,M,L,XL is many things: a dictionary, a collection of essays, a complete catalog of OMA projects to date, an exercise in Graphic Design, a manifesto, a diary, and a pretty picture book. It is challenging and disorienting, with programs weaving in and out but rigidly held together by its delineation into five sections: Foreplay, S, M, L, and XL.

The book opens with graphs of OMA - a who we are of sorts - such as distance traveled and nights spent in hotel rooms for Rem and OMA, a budget pie-chart, a workforce-over-time, and a turnover rate, among others. The introduction opens, "Architecture is a hazardous mixture of omnipotence and impotence." The dictionary opens, "Abolish: to execute an intention amounts to abolishing a desire." From there, the dictionary weaves in and out of the short stories, essays, poems, manifestos, and project biographies.

As the book progresses, the shear amount of information contained is often overwhelming and I find myself flipping back and forth often. Dictionary definitions are cut off by the page to finish 80 pages later on top of a floorplan. Pornographic images, contextual diagrams, in depth timelines and fables pop up throughout the book seemingly randomly. I can't help but think that this entire book is a timeline of thinking - a progression of the philosophy of OMA. I love the dictionary.


One of my favorite storylines is Rem's Summer Study for AA - a famous architecture school in London - on the Berlin Wall. Fragmented Excerpt: "Once, a city was divided in two parts. The Wall was a masterpiece. At the most serious level of 'event' the wall was deadly. The gratest surprise: the wall was heartbreakingly beautiful. It was as if I had come eye to eye with architecture's true nature. Three months later: my first public presentation. They were all there: Archigram, Peter Smithson, Cedric Price, Charles Jencks, Alvin Boyarsky, and Elia Zenghelis, in a mood of semifestive, semicynical expectation (this school was nothing if not fun). The images that appeared on the screen - former conditions, concepts, workings, evolution, 'plots' - assumed their positions in a sequence that was gripping almost beyond my control; words were redundant. There was a long silence. Then Boyarsky asked ominously, 'Where do you go from here?'"


Basically, this is a book you should have. If you are into thinking and words and images, buy this. The first time my girlfriend flipped through it, after about 30 seconds she looked up and said, "I must have this book." Indeed.

I get frustrated with poetry. People talk a lot about needing to have their poems look just right on the page, but when they publish they have no control over what the book looks like or what the typeface is or anything. Poets need to wrestle control back from the publishers in deciding what their book will be. The experience of a book is not just the words. When I get a new book I grope the cover and caress the pages immediately. Then I smell it. Then I flip the pages to blow wind on my face. Then I examine the typeface, look for a colophon, and flip through the pictures. These are all foreplay. Finally I get down to business and read the words, starting with the Copyright page.

S,M,L,XL is most definitely an experience and I think it changed architecture. To rate this book on the same level of influence as Vers une architecture goes without question. Those two may well have done more to architecture today than any other book since Vitruvius. Bruce Mau, Rem Koolhaas, and OMA have created a masterpiece of literature in S,M,L,XL.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Declare This Week Graphic Design Week

Based on my dream coming true last night, as well as a wonderful lecture last night, and other considerations I will not go into now.

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Stefan Sagmeister came and lectured last night. Above is part of his project, Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far. It has a book and a website. On the website you can contribute, but he does too. Basically the project is designing a sentence. So write yourself a sentence, then design it, then submit it to the website. I will have mine up by the end of spring break (next week).



So what did I take from his lecture last night?
1. People are nervous about their own skills no matter what. I think that's just a nature of risk taking though. But once you get them talking, they open right up and their self-confidence shows through.
2. There is a right way to let bananas decompose so they retain their banana smell (top picture).
3. Sagmeister really did carve that text into his skin (above).
4. Graphic Design can be really fucking interesting.
5. Stefan Sagmeister is taller than I am.
6. Paraphrased Quote: Just because there are all these programs out there that let anyone do Graphic Design (like adobe programs, paint.net, and social networking systems) doesn't mean that there will be a lot of good graphic design out there. It takes an eye for Graphic Design to make good Graphic Designs no matter what the tools.
7. "What happens if I spend ten years of my life learning a new language and then find out that I have nothing to say in that language?"


The book is constructed uniquely. It is composed of 15 or so pamphlets set into a cardboard box with some cut-outs. Really quite an interesting experience, that book. It came out of this story: he decided he wanted to be a filmmaker and made a ten year plan for himself and had it all figured out until he thought number 7 on the list above. Then he wrote this list of statements, and these were designed and became the book. One of these is the above picture. Each shot from this one was started that day, composed of what they had with them, shot, and then displayed.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tonight, One Of My Life Dreams Came True

Some people seem to like how my presentation boards are arraigned - or at least a lot of people ask me how they should arrange their presentation boards. Well I have no clue what all they have put into their projects so I usually show them my three favorite presentations. In October, 2007, I posted them on this site. Here is the article:


This Board-Based design by Morphosis of their proposal for the Los Angeles Arts Park works really well because it emphasizes the mood and feel of the project while still incorporating all the elements of traditional architectural presentations like a model, floorplans, sections, and a perspective or two.

Photograph from John.

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Weiss/Manfredi's concept diagram proposal for the Olympic Sculpture Park is so simple I understand an immense amount about the site without ever being there. Its simple and pervasive and scaled application creates an intimate feeling and human scale in what is actually a huge park. This method for creating a human space out of two blocks of downtown Seattle is genius. This diagram says all that. Perfect.

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Here is the third one. It's a book.

The simple concept of creating a book for the proposal of a library and the inclusion of copious amounts of process and diagrams definitely show the focus of OMA. If you've visited the building you will realize that this is not the final design for the building. Apparently when they awarded the contract to OMA they said, "We don't quite know what it will look like but we want it to do what you say it will do in that book." Building as information, as Dillon puts it.

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Well tonight, I held the third one in my hands. I was giddy. I looked through it three times. I am still giddy. It was so much better than the online version. There is so much information in there so simply.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

February Gaming News I Find Exciting

1. KotOR 3 is coming. Those who know know.

2. Both the Lego Star Wars were awesome. So fun and addictive and strangely difficult at times, but still simple enough for a casual gamer like me (Except when it comes to KotOR, then I'm hardcore). So I am excited for the Indiana Jones Lego game and the Batman one, but what else are they going to do? Keep rocking movies and super heroes? No. They are going to transform the Halo trilogy into Lego. They are going to transform the Halo trilogy into Lego. And I have no doubt it will be better than Halo was. I didn't like Halo. In the first one, the outdoor levels were a blast. And that was where the fun ended.

3. Gamecock Media and developer Replay Studios have created a game based on Violette Szabo. This actually sounds like a good, non-formulaic WWII game. I don't even know what to say except I'm looking forward to a Fall 2008 release.

4. MarioKart Wii is still coming and supposedly more on-time than Smash.

5. I found Republic Commando for $15 at VGH. I played the crap out of the demo but never bought it for some reason. I've always intended to and now I have. Brilliant.

6. DS3 is coming in April. Then I can buy a PS3 and help cure cancer.

7. Folklore may have a 2 after it in the next couple of years.