Archive for June, 2006

Four-Day Weekend, What Up?

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Found this video while surfing YouTube recently… it’s a little old, but it’s funny. Here’s hoping it helps you slide nicely into that four-day weekend. And while you’re off having a good time, don’t forget — if you happen to have a brush with fame, or a run-in with your crazy ex or just plain blow off your finger fooling around with those fireworks your mother always warned you about, tell us about it.

(Video does contain its fair share of naughty language… wear headphones if you’re at work, people.)

SMITH in San Francisco, Thursday 6/29

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

167277327_7ece5bf0b9_o.jpgSMITH and SHOOTING WAR are doing it West Coast style, with a party Thursday June 29th. So, of course, if you’re in the neighborhood, please drop on by.

Larry “SMITH” Smith and and I (Tim Barkow) will be there along with Shooting War artist, Dan Goldman. Writer Anthony Lappé is busy with his beautiful just-born baby. Our man’s got his hands full in the East, but he’ll be with us in spirit in the West.

Come hang with us and soak up some drink specials, fantabulous DJ, and clips of our graphic novel, Shooting War, which gets better each week.

Mr. Smith’s Bar & Lounge
34 Seventh Street
San Francisco
7pm till ??

Happy Together: Paul Pope & Mark DeNardo

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Update! SMITH comics editor Jeff Newelt says:
“Let’s just say this event was like being in on the recording of a classic live album. As
good as physically possible.”
Here’s a review from Newsrama.

A special invitation to SMITH readers from our friends at the culture joyster event makers LVHRD (that’s Live Hard). Tonight, and only tonight, LVHRD invites artist Paul Pope (Batman 100) and musician Mark DeNardo to participate in the launch the organization’s newest event format, the Bi-Fold Series. Says them: “The Bi-Fold Series will showcase two diverse artists and thinkers on the same stage in a way that highlights their creative difference while reinforcing the continuity and commonality between each individual’s body of work.”

In other words, put a couple of genius media makers in a room, spin ‘em round and soak it all up.

Pope will present his genre-breaking work to a small audience, followed by a music performance by 8-bit musician Mark DeNardo. Both artists approach their work from a similar “analog” perspective (Pope still draws with pen and ink and DeNardo’s compositions are arranged primarily on a Game Boy). SMITH’s comics editor JahFurry decrees this gig, “The Most PsychedeliSpaceinvadaGraphicnovilicious Team-up of the Jahlennium!!!”

Go to for tix ($11-$22 —that includes cocktails, friends). Tell them SMITH and JAHFurry sent you, and get a little off the top for an over-the-top night.

Alone in a crowd

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Having played with a number of punnier headlines around the state of personal disconnection in a thoroughly connected Internet universe, I got stuck on alone. Because it does seem with all the words and multitasking and text messaging and IM and cell phones that even work on subways, no one’s actually listening. Or, there’s so much talk on the airwaves, that zoning in on friends and family and People Who Matter, is tough, if not altogether impossible.

Cynical, perhaps. And I’ve never been known for that. But this study, out of Duke University, says that nearly a quarter of those surveyed have “zero” close friends.Which is only slightly personally reassuring in that I wasn’t imagining this static on the ether-waves, but is rather disheartening when you look at a culture of Americans with all the tools and technology to stay in touch, but can’t because work and more work is invading their ability to reach out. Even more worrisome is that the more in need, sociologically and economically that you might be, the less likely it is that you actually have someone to respond to that need.

Signing off. I have some friends to call.

Just Don’t Call Me Late for Dinner

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

So I’m still lacking a good name for a regular Friday viral video feature, but because I like you all I’ve got a good one for today.

It’s not quite my usual thing — no Chinese Backstreet Boys this time — but it’s definitely worth watching.

For your viewing pleasure: PBS’ Frontline has put online their most recent documentary, “The Dark Side,” the story of how Dick Cheney has taken over the war on terror.

I won’t call this one fun; it’s actually something more along the lines of frightening, but, god, is it ever worth watching. (One thing I want to add — I love the fact that Frontline is putting its stuff online now. You can do what I’ve been doing this week, watch the chapters as the equivalent of Internet radio, since the video doesn’t much matter, and get work done as the video plays in the background. SMITH is not responsible for any nightmares involving Dick Cheney hiding under your bed that you may experience later.)

The anti-rape condom: kicking karma in the ass

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

I first read about this a few months ago in I.D. magazine (see, I’m a neophiliac), and it’s some gnarly shit. The anti-rape condom is a devilish, but undoubtedly smart, device to be used by women (particularly in Africa) to thwart attackers. The “condom” is actually a molded piece of plastic outfitted with dozens of sharp, tiny razors. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, any guy who attempts to rape a woman wearing one of these is in for a deservedly cruel and immediate payback. Yeah, it’s tough, but as they say, sometimes karma needs a kick in the ass. via ::Digg

Could you be a neophiliac?

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

You dirty birds. That’s not what it means. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t one.

Most commonly affecting the “bright and overeducated” (hey, that’s you!), neophiliacs are afflicted with a love for anything new or novel. Are you also right now reading Endgadget’s RSS feed on your Blackberry, perhaps? Can’t wait for the next installment of Wired’s “Japanese School Girl Watch”? Already on Barneys’s waiting list for the hottest jeans? Yup, you’ve got it.

But guess what? It’s not just a habit you’ve caught since moving to New York, San Francisco, Paris, or whatever hipster place you live in. Japanese doctors have actually discovered that this compulsion for cool is caused by a mitochondrial enzyme called monoamine oxidase A. Isn’t that weird?

Of course, some people disagree, saying that this “novelty-seeking” characteristic is simply a function of the new economy and new consumerism, and can’t possibly be genetic. But I don’t think that’s true. Why? Because I bet you’ll tell at least one person about this hot new enzyme and trendy affliction you just learned about–and feel damn proud of it. (As you should.) And that has nuthin’ to do with the times we live in, baby. You’re grandpa woulda done the same exact thing.

In fact, according to one so-called expert, neophiliacs may actually be the cornerstone of our society. (Go ahead: Pat yourselves on the back.) “If we all as humans weren’t already predisposed for a desire to be stimulated by new stuff, a lot of the structure on which capitalism is founded would not exist.” That’s Bob Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture at Syracuse University. Wow Bob. That’s some heavy shit. I better head over to Future Perfect and buy some new stuff right now. After all, capitalism is depending me. And you. And our obsession with the new. ::Media Life Magaizne via ::Digg

Rocketboom on Webcomics + NYT on Ze Frank

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

The videoblog Rocketboom gives us three good New York minutes on the state of webcomics here.

Here’s a story idea for Rocketboom: Shooting War. After all, the buzz on SMITH’s serlialized graphic novel is big, baby!

In other blog news, Ze Frank gets big ups in a fun piece in this past Sunday’s NYT Styles section about how this web guy with a cult following went wiki. Here’s a piece from Warren St. John’s story:

His site draws around 10,000 viewers a day, and many of them use the site’s comments section to praise, argue over or eviscerate his abilities as an entertainer. So Mr. Frank turned the tables.

With help from a programmer friend, [Ze Frank] set up the comedy-writing equivalent of a Wikipedia page — an online site where anyone could write a joke and edit or even delete the jokes of others — and told his viewing public that if they were so brilliant, they could collaborate to write a script for his show. If they did so, Mr. Frank promised, he would faithfully execute it, no matter how absurd, and post the resulting video on his site.

The Happy Birthday Mr. President Experiment

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Proof that driving on the NJ Turnpike is good for something besides getting me home to see my pop and you to the beach: I heard a public radio piece about performance artist Sheryl Oring’s cross-country personal media project. Oring’s zipping around the country, stopping in cities whose first letters spell out the word “Birthday,” and asking folks she meets at flea markets and public parks to offer a birthday wish to the president (b. July 6, 1946. “I feel like people have a lot to say, and this is an amazing method to get at what people are thinking,” Oring says. She works a Sixties look — white go-go boots and all — and plays the part of a public secretary, tapping in the messages people dictate to her on her portable, manual typewriter. She keeps carbon copies of all the messages which she plans to use in an online and offline exhibit later. In this digital age, postcards remain an obvious yet genius means to express yourself.

Birding Babylon: A Soldier’s Journal From Iraq

Monday, June 19th, 2006

While “Shooting War” is a frightening, imaginative, graphically fantastic look at how Iraq just might be in 2011, Birding Babylon: A Soldier’s Journal From Iraq (Sierra Club Books), is one perspective of how it looked just last year. But instead of focusing on the grim face of a desert ravaged by war and death, the book is the tale of one soldier’s obsession with nature. An outcropping of Connecticut Army National Guardsman and Sergeant First Class Jonathan Trouern-Trend’s war-time blog, Birding Babylon, the recently released book looks beyond the barbed wire in search of the life that was all around him during his yearlong tour of duty in Iraq.

What’s particularly lovely about this book is Trouern-Trend’s intentional near-omission of doom and gloom (though from his hints we know that he really was in the thick of it all). Stationed on a base that saw daily rocket and mortar attacks and positioned in a job that had him traveling to all corners of the country, he preferred to focus on the flora and fauna that were alternately so familiar and so exotic. “In Iraq there are ten thousand ways to see the world,” he writes. “I consider myself lucky to have seen it through the eyes of a naturalist.” By trading in violence and chaos for natural beauty, Trouern-Trend focuses on what he describes as the “resiliency of life…in the face of crisis.” If it’s possible for a soldier’s wartime blog to be sweet, this one certainly is.

P.S. A shout out to Dan Goldman for dressing Shooting War’s Jimmy in a TreeHugger tank in Chapter 4. Word!

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