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Saturday, July 12, 2008

In case you're asking: To my knowledge, our landlord has done nothing against them. Who says there's justice in this world?

My downstairs neighbors like to hold all-night parties that hinder my ability to sleep, even though I sleep on the opposite side of the house as their peppy party music, and have classical music of my own on. Sleepy Morgan is cranky Morgan. So if my tendency to lash out when I'm angry ever leads me to commit a crime, and they hold a party the previous night, I'd like to implicate them as accessories to the crime.

A few minutes ago I went downstairs to tell them to keep it down. The person who answered the door was all, "alright, dude. I'm sorry, dude, but we just got this mixer, you're welcome to join us..." (I don't drink or smoke, he's holding a beer can, and I'm intermittently holding my nose, not to mention that I really am sleepy and, unlike them, I have a halfway normal sleep schedule.)

Then as I'm leaving: "It's only midnight."

It's only midnight?

It's only midnight?

This is why I'm trying to get a job...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 7/12-13

All times PDT.

9-11:30 AM: Arena Football, Cleveland @ Philadelphia (ESPN). No real championships this week, so the Arenaball conference championships will make up the difference.

12-2:30 PM: Arena Football, Grand Rapids @ San Jose (ESPN). Um... see above. Yeah. Can you tell I'm not an Arenaball man?

5-8:30 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, LifeLock 400 (TNT). I'm not sure NASCAR really wants to have a race sponsored by these guys.

9:30-12:30 PM: MLB Baseball, All-Star Futures Game (ESPN2). Wait, the All-Star Break has two all-star games involving top prospects (counting the AAA All-Star Game)?

12:30-2:30 PM: WNBA Basketball, Connecticut @ Washington (ABC). There are two golf tournaments going on but both start at noon, when the Futures Game is on, so...

3-5 PM: LPGA Golf, Owens Corning Classic (ESPN2).'s Girl Power Sunday on the Watcher!

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Colorado @ NY Mets (ESPN). Ha, the Rockies and Mets players will suck at the All-Star festivities.

Championships return next week, but no ArenaBowl yet - hot British Open action instead!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Look for a video version of this post popping up on Youtube sometime next week.

Okay, this is WAY later in the day than I was intending to write this post. I was hoping to set up SOME sort of backlog to start pumping out smoothly, but right now I'm not sure what's going to come out on Tuesday. My webcomic posts usually require a significant amount of research, and the one I have in mind is no exception, so it may end up waiting past Tuesday. I don't even have tomorrow's strip written and drawn up and I have only the vaguest idea of what will be in it.

I recently finished reading True Enough by Farhad Manjoo, which fascinated me the instant I saw it in the store. Its main thesis is that, thanks to the Internet and cable news channels, we no longer differ merely in what opinions we hold, but in what we hold to be basic truths. I will have more to say about it in general when I announce Truth Court probably over the weekend, but there's a point, expounded on on pages 113-122, which I want to devote a post to. It tells of an experiment performed by a researcher named John Ware. Ware hired an actor to masquerade as a distinguished expert and talk at length and with a lot of flair about a bunch of nonsense and not really say anything of substance. The audience was a bunch of college-educated professionals and even professors - in theory, able to see through the ruse. But instead, they all talked about what a great speaker he was, how stimulating his lecture was, and so on.

Ware had the lecture played for a second group and got the same results. He showed it to a group of students - a group "enrolled in a graduate-level course on educational philosophy" to boot - and got the same results. Some in the group even claimed previous experience with the "expert" or his topic. Ware soon became devoted to studying the "Dr. Fox effect" (after the name of the fictitious expert in the original experiment) and conducted several more experiments on the topic. One experiment involved breaking another group of students into groups and playing several lectures that varied based on "content" and "expressiveness"; the lectures with the highest levels of both did best, but expressiveness rated far higher than content.

I leave it to Manjoo to bring the implications into stark relief: "[P]rofessors were better off teaching very little very enthusiastically than teaching very much very badly."

Manjoo makes the point that this means that some "experts" are only experts in presenting nonsense like Dr. Fox. But let's repeat the implications one more time: If you attempt to tell the truth in a boring, dry manner, you will lose to someone who tells complete lies in the form of jokes. We've all heard about how people value style over substance, but you probably could have never imagined how important it could be. I'm honestly stunned you don't see the implications fully realized more often - more politicians explaining their positions with flowery metaphors, more professors teaching their subjects with sarcasm instead of sleep. Of course, politicians that try to inject more energy into their speaking style end up coming across like Howard Dean, but personally, I thought "The Scream" made me more likely to vote for him, if I were paying more than superficial attention to the race and if I were old enough to vote at all. I want more energy in my politicians, and after reading True Enough, I suspect most Americans do as well, they just don't realize it. Heck, I'm fully intent on making Da Blog as entertaining a read as possible, not just a blog of dry substance. Style and substance, in perfect unison, is the best blend of all.

Which may or may not be the best segue to Zero Punctuation.

After getting exposed to ZP (and before getting exposed to True Enough), I have become convinced that any speech can be made more entertaining by reading it really fast in a British accent laced with profanity while crude stick figures acting out everything the speaker says appear on the screen, laced with simple rebuses and often dissonant phrases. Go ahead, try it with the driest speech you can think of!

Ben Croshaw was a game-developer hobbyist and sometime reviewer for some time but didn't get his 15 minutes of Internet Fame (TM) until he decided to create a special video review for a demo, which quickly proved so popular he did a second. And after just two videos, he was contacted by The Escapist to keep making funny videos for them every week so they might lure hordes of Internet losers some people in to their site and own them forever.

(See what I did there? This is a piece of cake.)

But perhaps I should let Croshaw explain it himself:

That only scratches the surface of ZP's popularity. I invite you to take a look at the archives I linked to above. I guarantee you you will find yourself watching video after video, unable to stop until you've been through the whole archive, even if you're not really immersed in "video game culture". ZP has become big enough that previews of it now air each week on G4 - a real, like, TV channel, and stuff. It's not a tiny Internet subculture by any means. There are more than five hundred comments on - and thus many hundreds if not thousands more people watching - a bunch of crude images presented as though their presenter had ADD while a Brit basically says "omg popular gamez sux lol" really fast only with a lot more profanity. (Not to mention more than its fair share of ripoffs littering Youtube.)

That's the future of dialogue regardless of the field. The more energy, the more visualness, the more everything you pour into what you have to say to make it more than "what you have to say", the more you will survive and thrive. Simply put, The Daily Show is the wave of the future, not just in news but in everything from politics to sports. The people who say media is dominated too much by "sound bites" and who, well, gave us the "style over substance" cliche in the first place will probably decry this development, but if it gets more young people involved in politics, well..., why is all of that a negative again?

Quick thought on Brandgate

Why did Elton Brand go to Philadelphia?

It wasn't the money. He could have gotten roughly the same amount from the Clippers and more from the Warriors.

It wasn't the exposure. There's a LOT he was getting from LA he wasn't going to get in Philly.

By all accounts, it was to play in the weaker Eastern Conference.

We are starting to see, finally, the evening out of the conferences in the NBA.

(I can't wait for the Sixers to come to the Staples Center to play the Clippers or even the Lakers. What's the world record for loudest, longest boos ever to ring through an arena?)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Random Internet Discovery of the Week (Now on Wednesdays!)

Moving the RID to Wednesday because I'm settling into a groove of days of the week (such as webcomics on Tuesday and Sports Watcher on Friday) and I want to leave Mondays open for football-related stuff.

Strangely enough, the first time I activated StumbleUpon I was taken to again. But on the second try I was taken to this site. If you thought you were an insignificant speck of dust in the Universe before, this'll make you really think you're an insignificant speck... on an insignificant speck... orbiting an insignificant speck.

I doubt I'll have much more to say on the "astronomy" tag.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

At one point, I almost mistyped "Ethan" as "Elan". I really do have Order of the Stick on the brain.

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized decimation.)

Webcomics community? We need to have a talk. It's about Ctrl+Alt+Del.

In case you don't know, CAD is the strip virtually everyone on the Internet loves to hate. To read most of the commentary on it, Tim Buckley can't draw, can't write to save his life, is the biggest a-hole in the history of the Internet, burn it with fire so the purification of America can begin, yada yada yada.

In particular, the Internet recently broke to pieces over Buckley's miscarriage storyline, which caused even CAD's few defenders to freak out. For them, this was an unacceptable sojourn into angsty drama, one from which only unspeakable crap can come. For the strip's existing detractors, this seems only to be vindication, a sign that the unexplainable mass of fans surrounding the strip may finally be seeing the light. And it's caused a whole new round of soul-searching surrounding Buckley's strip and Buckley himself.

Well, I've just completed a thorough read-through of the entire CAD archives, and I feel that I'm in a position to make an informed judgment of the strip's quality.

Drum roll please:

Ctrl+Alt+Del... is not the spawn of Satan.

I know, shocking, isn't it?

But it's true. In fact, Ctrl+Alt+Del is good enough that it is joining the rarified air and hallowed halls of the "webcomics" section of IE7's RSS reader, alongside only Darths and Droids and Order of the Stick. That's something that can't be said for the dean of gaming webcomics, Penny Arcade. And trust me, I've tried to get into Penny Arcade.

(UPDATE: Okay, CAD isn't joining the RSS reader until it learns how to separate its news posts and its comic posts into separate feeds. But that's part of the reason it's popular: I can decide to hold off on that decision, because CAD updates so regularly.)

Now, I'm not saying Buckley doesn't have problems he needs to work on. He does occasionally need to learn where the joke is and move it to the final panel, and if he has more than one joke he might want to consider putting them in more than one strip. At least some of the time, he does it right (warning, possibly NSFW), even if only by accident, and besides, it should be excusable to have a joke in an early panel if you have a sufficient punchline in the final panel. And some strips are funny despite violating that rule entirely. (And yes, Ctrl+Alt+Del is sometimes actually funny!) And he does tend a little too much towards being violent. And some of the jokes (like the one above) are really obvious and have been done to death already. And it is a little jarring to wonder why Ethan is even considering getting married and having children when he's such a manchild (it's just a webcomic, you should really just relax). And Ethan in general seems a bit too much of a wish-fulfillment fantasy, but then again it's a wish-fulfillment fantasy common among gamers. And the dialogue balloons tend to be arranged in nonintuitive ways. The Western eye is trained to read left-to-right before up-and-down, and Buckley's tendency to reverse that order can make his wordier panels challenging to read. And he can be wordy.

(Okay, maybe I'm damning with faint praise. As for the charge that Buckley's characters are one-dimensional, I doubt I would be the best judge of that, but I suspect it's a little unfair. Okay, back to damning with faint praise.)

And the artwork needs work too, but he's certainly a far better artist than, say, me. He tends to overuse the expression at the left, which essentially looks like someone being bored but has been known to be used for several other emotions as well, especially earlier in the strip's history, creating a jarring disconnect. (Buckley seems to take this in stride, using that same expression or variants of it for every picture accompanying every profile on the cast page, with a couple of exceptions. Of course, some detractors see that face in every single expression Buckley draws, so maybe that isn't so good of a characterization, but still, Player 3 is the only one with his mouth closed, and of the others that have mouths at all, Chef Brian is the most different from the others.) And he has been known to use shortcuts at times, such as using images as backgrounds. But honestly, take the former away and the artwork (which has much improved from the earliest strips, which make the current strips look like Rembrandt) isn't that different from that of Penny Arcade. Which I'm sure CAD's detractors will say is evidence that Buckley is ripping off his art style from PA.

Besides, when you're a humor webcomic like CAD is, art is overrated. As long as there's enough that's intelligible to get the joke across, you can throw some palettes of paint on a wall and call it a webcomic if the jokes are funny enough. People have noticed that Buckley, like Rich Burlew, is a better artist than his strip lets on, yet instead of figuring out that maybe Buckley's style might be an intentional design choice, they attack him for not carrying over his "better" art over to his populist comic strip.

You have to wonder what Buckley did to get so devotedly vitriolic enemies. Did they see early critics end up verbally abused or even censored by the famously abrasive Buckley and turn their subsequent opinions of the man into opinions of the strip? Did they see his characters willingly use Microsoft products and fail to bow at the altar of Apple and Linux and go all "lol microsoft sux windows sux this guy sux micros**t competitors are teh r0xx0r5!!!!!111!111!!!eleven!"? Or did they look at Ctrl+Alt+Del, think "I could do that!", and then, when their strip failed to reach Ctrl+Alt+Del levels of popularity, think, "How come that strip is so popular and mine isn't? No strip could possibly be better than mine! Ctrl+Alt+Del must suck and I must correct these dear misguided and deluded souls who won't recognize my brilliance!" So they come up with, honestly, fairly feeble criticisms. "Umm... it doesn't follow the normal rules for jokes! Uhh... he's too wordy! Umm... he reuses images of characters! Uhh..." For all that its many enemies attack it for, there must be some reason why it's so mind-numbingly popular despite all of it, other than that its fans are all brain-dead sycophants.

I suspect many of these critics may be falling prey to a very common misconception. It's a misconception so common that even many of his fans may fall prey to it, but Buckley himself seems to have some grasp on it. (By contrast, my theory on Irregular Webcomic! hadn't even occured to its author when I proposed it.) So let me set the record straight right now:

Ctrl+Alt+Del is not a gaming webcomic.

Yes, Ctrl+Alt+Del - a strip named for the command to bring up the Task Manager and reboot in Windows, whose lead character's devotion to video games borders on addiction, whose two main characters both have jobs selling electronics, whose principal female character is that (supposed) rarity of rarities - a woman who plays video games - a strip that created the gamer-centric "holiday" of Winter-een-mas, that occasionally features four numerically named and color-coded "players", and that frequently features strips set entirely within a game's milieu - is not a gaming webcomic.

All of those things are important aspects of the strip, but CAD's real core - and, at least in my case and so far as I suspect, the reason I'm adding it to my webcomics list - lies in its characters and relationships. It lies in the relationship between Ethan and Lilah and between Lucas and Kate. It also lies in the friendship between Ethan and Lucas and Ethan's occasionally tense relationship with Zeke. It lies in wondering what wacky thing Ethan will do next and whether Lucas will find it in him to truly love Kate and what wackiness will Zeke cause next and what punks will get their much-deserved comeuppance and what wackiness will Chef Brian bring us this time around and just what is Scott doing behind that metal electrified door anyway?!?

And this extends even to the game joke strips. It turns out there's a method to Buckley's madness, a reason why he misplaces the punchline, overexplains the punchline, overrelies on violence, and does obvious jokes. Unlike almost every other gaming webcomic on the Internet, Buckley is writing, at least in part, for non-gamers. One of CAD's detractors is Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, who has gained some level of Internet fame with his Zero Punctuation video game review series (about which I will have more to say later in the week). In February, he expanded on his hatred of CAD on a post on his blog (scroll down to "You Cad" and remind me to change the link to the archive page later). In it, he contrasted this Penny Arcade with this Ctrl+Alt+Del.
Both comics identify the humour in the situation - that the rules of a game world seem absurd when applied to the real world - but while Penny Arcade understands that the crux of a joke should be reserved for the final panel, Ctrl-Alt-Del is apparently so excited about the idea that it blurts it out right away, leaving three more panels to flounder in excessive dialogue and pointlessness.
A punchline should be equated to an actual punch in the face. That's why it's called a punch-line. You deliver it and run. You do not hang around explaining how you did the punch and that the recipient should probably be in a lot of pain now.
Identify the funny part of the idea and save it for last. Leave with the audience laughing. If you do nothing else, finish strong. That's a rule any humourist will agree with. But with the centrepoint of the gag already uselessly spent, Buckley's comic is forced to fall upon its old standby of violence as a sort of prosthetic punchline. Now, violence can certainly be funny, modern cinema was virtually built on the tradition of slapstick, but it doesn't work in static, non-animated media. There is humour to be found in shock value, but most people have been on the internet long enough to not be shocked by anything as mundane as a claymore through the sweetbreads.
But even if the joke were structured properly, there is still far too much dialogue. This is a problem common to a lot of webcomics, but since we're already in the CAD-bashing groove we'll stick with it. Shakespeare wrote that 'brevity is the soul of wit'. He did not then add 'unless you're writing a webcomic'. It applies to everything, and don't tell me you're arrogant enough to claim to know better than Shakespeare.
But recently (for a reason I'll get to in a bit), one person came along and decided that, to the extent either was funny, CAD was funnier.
For those who have no idea that Penny Arcade is a gaming comic or is not exactly up on all of the stupid games out there, or is aware of such things but does not give two shits, the Penny Arcade strip is a total non-sequitur. Is this supposed to be funny? Because it isn't, you know. It assumes a level of familiarity that if it's not there, it simply does not work on any level. (Personally, I still think the timing or whatever is way off on the damned thing even if you are familiar with Puzzle Quest, but I bitched about that already)
The Ctrl+Alt+Del one, on the other hand, does not make knowledge of the game a prerequisite to get the humor. In fact, it kind of explains it a bit so I have a slightly better understanding on what the fuck is going on.
Over-explaining the joke makes the strip accessible to people who aren't gamers. The same strip done by a "better" gaming comic would be damn near incomprehensible. It should be noted that I side with Croshaw on this one - I find the PA version funnier, and I do find it funny, and I'm not even necessarily familiar with the game in question, and I don't think I say that just because CAD and Croshaw explained the punchline for me - and I suspect the best way to make this joke would be to split the first panel of CAD into three to four panels.

Maybe that's what I should do with Sandsday: fix CAD jokes that aren't perfect but contain at least the germ of a good idea.

On that note, let's move to the ongoing miscarriage arc.

One of Eric Burns' most obvious contributions to webcomics criticism is the term "Cerebus Syndrome", which he describes like this:
The effort to create character development by adding layer upon layer of depth to their characters, taking a character of limited dimension (or meant to be a joke character) and making them fuller and richer. The idea is to take what was fun on one level and showing the reality beneath it. 'Cerebus Syndrome' refers to Dave Sim's epic, sometimes tragically flawed magnum opus, Cerebus the Aardvark. Cerebus started life as a parody of Conan the Barbarian starring an Earth-Pig born. Over time, it grew extremely complex, philosophical, and in many ways much much funnier. Then, Dave Sim went batshit crazy and Cerebus went straight to Hell, but that's for another day. People saw how Cerebus's humble roots could lead to glorious heights, and as cartoonists get bored with what they're doing, they decided to pull a Cerebus of their own. [...]

Please note that one can continue to bring the Funny while going for Cerebus Syndrome -- and in fact, probably should. It is far more common to drop the Funny....Note also that not all strips that bring heavy Story, mix humorous and serious elements, and have bad things happen to their characters are undergoing Cerebus Syndrome. It's only those strips that began on a very light, even limited dimension level and then transform into something different that really shoot for the Cerebus Syndrome.
It takes a strong hand to successfully pull off Cerebus Syndrome, and the successes are few. Order of the Stick managed it (and I'll have more on it at a later date). So did Bob and George and El Goonish Shive. Sluggy Freelance was one of the first, serving as the model for later ones. But Rich Burlew, Dan Shive, and Pete Abrams are all undisputed masters of the medium (or at least skilled storytellers), and if Dave Anez doesn't quite fall into that category, it's still telling that his fans might be surprised to hear that Bob and George went into Cerebus Syndrome - after all, it was laugh-out-loud to the end. (And the exclusion of Anez from that group isn't meant to demean him - I've been known to go on addictive archive binges of B&G strips.) When a strip doesn't succeed, the results can be grisly, and it becomes something else entirely, which Burns calls "First and Ten Syndrome", after a now-obscure HBO show:
A strip falls into First and Ten Syndrome when they take a shot at Cerebus Syndrome and miss. Rather than be a mix of the Funny and the Story with much better developed characters and more of a sense of reality, the strips fall into a suckfest of angst and misery, with bad things happening to characters we like and all sense of fun beaten out with a stick. While webcomics that fall into First and Ten can continue to have good -- even great -- moments, it's an exercise in masochism to find them.
For many, the miscarriage arc represented Ctrl+Alt+Del's headlong plunge into First and Ten Syndrome. And there is much to object to about it; it was excessively angsty at its height and played out too much like a "very special episode" of some 80s sitcom, it was transparently a way to get out of the seeming contradiction of Ethan having to deal with the tremendous responsibility of being a father (and thus the whole episode was seen by detractors as evidence of Buckley's general unwillingness to let his characters change and shake up the status quo), but mostly, the main objection to it was that, as Burns would put it, Buckley didn't continue to bring the Funny (an error amplified by the jarringly gag-based preceding and following strips and the general suddenness of the seriousness). But as Croshaw points out (and remember, he's one of the strip's detractors), Buckley probably shouldn't have made it too humorous if he was going to do the arc at all:

You're established as a wacky humor comic, so this is going to mean an awkward tonal shift at best, and hugely disrespectful [sic] to the subject matter at worst. Your most hardcore supporters will feebly attempt to go along with you about this, smiling nervously at each other as they would around a mentally unstable friend with a shilleagh, but mean-spirited embittered c**ks are going to call you out on it.
It's also worth noting that Ctrl+Alt+Del has itself already gone through Cerebus Syndrome and succeeded, transcending the standard "two gamers with a couch" strip (which it lampooned from the very beginning) into the complex relationship-driven strip I talked about earlier. So we know Buckley can handle the transition as well as Burlew, Shive, or Abrams. Of course he's stumbled here, but all indications are that he's learned his lesson, as recent strips have managed to balance the gravity of the situation with enough humor to lighten the mood, without being offensive. (Well, without being more offensive than CAD's very existence is to some people.)

It's still very possible that this is the start of CAD's mad descent into First and Ten Syndrome, and if the coming months see Lucas and Kate (or worse, Ethan and Lilah) break up over a misunderstanding worthy of Three's Company (or worse, Kate turning out to be pregnant out of the blue), Ethan and Lucas getting fired from their respective jobs (or worse, their respective businesses going out of business), Lilah losing her competitive gaming cred for whatever reason (for example, losing her partner and needing to replace him with Ethan when it's been established that Lilah's leetness is at its best when she's angry at Ethan for whatever reason, which given Ethan's idiocy is never hard), Ethan or Lilah running at the altar for no discernable reason, Zeke declaring war on humanity (again) or discovering his inner humanity, everyone getting evicted from the house, and/or major characters dying for whatever reason, especially if there aren't any jokes anymore and even the Players start angsting like hell (if they even keep appearing), I won't hesitate to join the march of ex-CAD fans marching out the door. I may even borrow a phrase from Burns and say "you had me, and you lost me", which might be the quickest transition from joining a webcomic to uttering that phrase ever.

But for the moment, it's important to remember that the miscarriage arc is still ongoing, and Buckley still has a chance to salvage something from it. So for now, I'm willing to see what he will salvage and give him a second chance to keep delivering one of the most popular webcomics on the Internet. (Even if his forums currently contain forums for links, CAD-related projects, translations of CAD strips, chances for fans to post their own efforts at writing and art, and gaming discussion boards, but not discussion of the strip itself.)

And I won't let the irrational hatred some have for it stop me.

If that makes me naive, well, let me be naive then.
(Why do I have a feeling this won't be the last I have to say about CAD even within the week?)

Monday, July 7, 2008

A reversal of webcomic's course

Very briefly: Starting sometime over the next few days I will be transitioning back to a 11 PM (well, probably closer to 11:30 in practice) PT publishing time for the strip. The method I'm using now for publication works regardless of time. I had been planning on using the library but I think I've only used it once for various reasons.

And now, time for Crazed Pre-Breakfast Ranting Theatre.

If you get to know me, and you see a lot of me, as much as, say, my parents have, you may think that I act like I'm two.

Well, you know f'in what? Maybe I'm fine with that. Maybe it's telling that I even CAN be like that. Maybe I'm going to be 25 and still act like I'm two. Maybe I'm going to be 50 and still act like I'm two. Maybe I'm going to be 100 and still act like I'm two.

Because honestly, friendship, compassion, trustworthiness, tact, all those other things? They are hallmarks of maturity and they are NONEXISTENT. I dare you to find ANY true examples of those things in anyone younger than 35, as opposed to attempts to ape those things because they KNOW they're hallmarks of maturity. EVERYONE is, deep down, developmentally two in America, from the businessowners to the politicians to the people on cable news to just about everyone on the Internet, and my twoness simply extends to my reactions to stresses. Heck, if anything I'm MORE mature than EIGHTY PERCENT OF MY CONTEMPORARIES AND FIFTY PERCENT OF MY ELDERS. I've been thinking about changing Da Blog's masthead to "Raising the Internet's IQ every day". (Right now? Probably not.)

(Because I know everyone on the Internet says "don't write anything you might want to take back later" - which is precisely the reason I'm writing this, to serve as a control on my ability to take it back - I'd advise anyone reading to read the "about me" posts from the beginning, including the very first post in the history of Da Blog. I commonly use Da Blog in the aftermath of blow-ups to write ranting screeds that are important to read if you want to really know me but shouldn't be held against me just because I make them public in the heat of anger and everyone else doesn't. Come to think of it, I should write more about the workplace's idiotic standards of perfectionism at some point. And I fancy myself a perfectionist, but the difference is that I attempt to challenge everyone to approach perfection and the workplace just hires the person who's the best at hiding their imperfections. Actually, what about our entire culture's obsession with perfectionism? It's easier than ever to prove that there is not and has never been anyone that fits our mold for an ideal role model yet we nitpick more than ever.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Absolutely amazing final. Now that that's over, something completely different.

Two things. I mentioned before that I conceived of Da Blog as a series of sub-blogs, but regardless of which sub-blogs you follow, you should probably also follow the blog news tag, because it will often have things pertaining to all other tags. I'll also use "blog news" to herald the introduction of new tags you might like, like this "sports tv graphics" one.

I know a lot of people don't like ESPN's attempt to create a strip or banner at the top of the screen for a score display for tennis coverage; it's rather non-intuitive. But everything is strips these days - the only networks that still use a box for ANY sport, not counting tennis, are CBS for football and TNT for basketball. And tennis doesn't lend itself well to a strip; even after importing its post-"Sunday Night Football" broadcast package, NBC still uses a box for tennis, and so does its corporate sibling USA, and so does CBS, and so does the Tennis Channel.

Well, I've stumbled upon (no, this is not the Random Discovery of the Week) the BBC's Wimbledon graphics package, and I believe I may have a solution. You can kind of make it out in this video (which is not the same as the one I've linked to):

It's a box, but it may contain the key to creating a workable tennis strip. I've created a mock-up based on ESPN's graphics package:

I would probably want to make the space for the score longer, because "DEUCE" doesn't fit in that space and I might want to say something like "AD FEDERER" rather than what ESPN does now, which is just "AD" and highlighting whoever has the advantage. And I forgot to include any indication of who's serving. Break points, set points, match points, and the like would be indicated by a small banner slipping down underneath the strip. I don't know what I would do for tiebreaks. My guess is either have another little banner fall beneath the strip, similar to what would be done for statistics, or shift over the spaces for sets and games and add a new space. Or separate both sets and games into their own clearly delineated spaces and simply open up a new space to the left of the others for the tiebreak. But that breaks the implied sets-games-points hierarchy.

Thoughts? Ways my idea could be improved? Or am I so off base I need to be whacked with a two-by-four before my abominations become accepted?