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2004.01.30 – Have him find a dead mouse in his kitchen. Which exact part of that is the worst?  

2004.01.29a – My legions of typography-obsessed readers will be familiar with subpixel rendering, in which the three layers of pixels in a liquid-crystal display are manipulated to increase the apparent resolution of onscreen fonts. (They end up looking fuzzier, and some people are disturbed by that for neurological or ideological reasons, but for most readers the experience is better.)

ClearType is the big name here (did I ever post that page where I said it was the best thing Microsoft has ever done?), but there’s also CoolType (turn it on in Acrobat if you want) and the subpixel rendering built into OS X (Typographi.ca; Gruber; Riley).

[You can tune your subpixel settings for ClearType (Control Panel → Appearance and Themes → Display → Appearance → Effects; also online), CoolType (Preferences → Smoothing), and X (System Preferences → Appearance). Turning them off is not always straightforward.]

Thus, when using an LCD, your onscreen type is actually three-dimensional. You really are looking at a thickness of layers in your display.

Now we consider that Safari 1.1 is the first browser to support the CSS3 text-shadow property. (In theory, any program that uses its KDE engine could do the same, like OmniWeb.)

Drop shadows. Hmm... tacky, right? Not necessarily. It’s not like bold italic outline shadow on the original Helvetica as printed on the original LaserWriter. (Who actually produced such a printout 20 years ago?) I’m already using it in the hover effect for permalinks. It’s smudgy, but it’s OK for highlighting.

Now. Frank Limbacher has a demo page up that uses text-shadow on nearly everything. Tacky, right? Kind of.

text-shadow in ‘standard’ and ‘inverted’ modes

So at this point we’re using three-dimensional pixels to simulate three-dimensional drop shadows. Since subpixel rendering is all smudgy, does this not mean that we’re getting shadowy drop shadows?

If you really hate subpixel rendering, for reasons of physiology or mere preference, isn’t it true that text-shadow as rendered on Safari 1.1 is a kind of worst-case scenario of onscreen typography?

And if your typeface is made up of a stack of tiny single-colour pixels, and then you give it a horizontal blur using text-shadow, haven’t you just given your letters a nice blurry tail? Pin the tail on the serif, as it were?  

2004.01.29b – Time to publish, Dogpoet.  

2004.01.28b – Oh, for heaven’s sake.

A lad with the sickeningly-cute name of Dunstan, who designs sickeningly-advanced standardista sites at the sickeningly-jeune age of 27, turns out to be sickeningly cute, too.

This is of course the fellow who lives on some heath over in rainy England and runs a Weblog with a real-time feed that updates the site header. His page checks the current weather conditions and selects from among 90 anime-style variations on a traced panorama of his surroundings, then inserts whichever of the 90 comic-book illustrations actually corresponds to the local weather. Plus he does Greenfieldian CSS shit to automatically crop the header as you expand and contract the page, as Windows users will never do, since the lower orders are far too stupid to view windows in anything but maximized display.

En tout cas, let’s sum up: Some kid in Nowheresville, Angleterre managed to automate the weather forecast and illustrate it on his site 24 hours a day. Even the illustrated sheep gather in a pack to sleep. This has got to be the most charming and delightful personal Weblog currently maintained. And the header business is just the beginning of the progressive enhancements he’s dialed up.

What exactly am I doing with my life?  

2004.01.28a – Do you find DVD menus hard to use, particularly if you’re blind? Well, join the club. Jim Orr posted to the DVD-List thus, reproduced with permission:

Because there are quite of a few recent ballets available only on DVD, not VHS, a year ago I bought my ballet-mad 81-year-old mother a Thomson DTH-220 DVD player – same as my own so that I could easily do phone troubleshooting.

The thing that is still a problem for her – and many in their 50s and 60s too – is the very versatility of DVD. She’s not stupid or losing her marbles – she programs several recordings a day in to her VHS, a feat beyond many of us ten years ago!

She has won the battles with the menus for ballets from Opus Arte, juggling between near- and far-sight spectacles to read the screen and try and make out the subtle cursor highlights, then trying to decipher the relatively ergonomic remote control. (“Mum, now press the middle button at the top to get it to play” is a common phrase on the phone.)

However, Disney’s The Lion King (authored by a Thomson company, Technicolor, in the USA) is our bête noire – it’s got a string of adverts of no interest to her, the last of which is a “clever” advert for Lion King 3 that makes her think she’s finally got to the film. Then it goes into a loop where elephants and giraffes tirelessly cross the savanna. The author knows that this is the main menu, I know it’s the main menu, but my mother is convinced the film has started and is now stuck in a groove. Is it the player? is it the disc? should we take it back to the shop?

Disc 2? Don’t go there!

It’s now at late at night, even for a night owl like her, and now that she’s solved the menu problem (after several days and phone calls), she has gone to bed knowing that she can just press Play and finally enjoy her daughter’s present to her.

Now the double whammy: The Thomson DTH-220 design feature that emulates taking out part-watched VHS tapes. For the last five DVD discs, it remembers where you were in the programme – well, sort of! It remembers the time, but it doesn’t remember the audio stream, and defaults to stream 0. Not usually a big deal for us, as typically stream 0 is the English Dolby Digital stream – but in this version of The Lion King, it’s the DTS track, for which there is no built-in decoder.

Mum swtiches the player on again, and silence reigns in the pridelands – the mouths move, but there is no dialogue, music or even sound effects. Is the TV sound broken? Is the disc broken? Have I been struck by deafness? The fears grow. Mother in tears – frustrated that having cracked the menu selection, she still can’t see the pictue – and convincing herself that dementia is descending.

So please, don’t use infinite loops on main menus if you can possibly persuade your client of the likely loss of client confidence in the older generations! And – please put a Dolby Digital or LPCM track as audio stream 0!

Of course, granny could also set her player to show English “subtitles” by default, if any player ever bothered to actually do that even after you set it up.  

2004.01.26b – Back in the day – circa 1989 – I hankered after this range of T-shirts, in every imaginable colour, by Rolling Thunder of Hawaii. Just your usual wheelchair-racing propaganda. (Acute observers will notice my wearing a similar propaganda shirt to the gym these days – found, of all places, at the Value Village!) I saw their ads in Sports & Spokes, but I think they went wheels-up (hi, Adam!) before I got my act together enough to buy the damned shirt.

Here we are in the subsequent century, and what is a Rolling Rampage?

It’s a wheelchair race organized by the local lads. And my esteemed colleague, quite under my nose, sprung the news of its standards-compliant site on me the other week. And he’s doing some weird shit with iframes and such. And you know, I’m into iframes for ’04. (The site does verge on chromostereopsis with the red on blue, though.)

I pimped the site a little, and now the little Christer is famous in our incestuous demimonde.

Who is famous? Michael Clarke (no relation).

Mike Clarke

He’s one of the two people I know of who have ever programmed real-world Flash sites with the available accessibility features. And yes, he’s a person living with wheelchair.

The kicker? (Not that Mike here can particularly kick?)

RollingRampage is home to the one and only decent photo (however hard it may be to bookmark – this is bleeding-edge Web development here) of my other esteemed colleague, sexy red-haired wheelchair racer boy Jeff Adams.

What is not to like?  

2004.01.26a – AfterEllen (who?) provides a contrarian argument for the reported but still unconfirmed delesbianisation of Bend It Like Beckham’s Fauxhawk:

Nor would it have been likely to become one of the U.K.’s biggest hits, or the highest-grossing Indian-themed film ever in the U.S. at $32 million in box office revenue.... British imports in general have a slim chance of commercial success in America, as do films starring non-white women [or] unknown actresses, or female-led sports movies. That Beckham became such an international hit in America and abroad with such strong anti-patriarchal, anti-racist, and anti-homophobic messages is astonishing – and, realistically, this is most likely due to the film’s inclusion of the relationship between Jess and her coach [the lovely and talented and euphoniously-named Jonathan Rhys-Meyers].

The heterosexual romance acted as a balance to the film’s strongly pro-feminist message... [in] a film that so blatantly challenges long-held, traditional views of women (“a woman’s place is in the home”), sports (“sports belong to men”) and ethnicity (“Indians can’t play soccer”).

A lesbian romance, on the other hand, would have done the opposite: amplified the feminist message to an intolerable level for many viewers (since lesbianism is considered the ultimate manifestation of feminism), or marked the film as “unsuitable” for teenagers (since any suggestion of lesbianism is considered corrupting). [...]

Too many filmmakers edit out or significantly revise the lesbian characters or subplots of a story just to play it safe, and to make as much money as possible, often when it’s unnecessary or even deleterious to the story to do so.

Well, speaking of lesbian invisibility, why did AfterEllen carefully fail to mention that Tony is gay?

‘No, Jess. I *really* like Beckham.’ ‘But you’re Indian!’

(Why do you think I put his picture on another Weblog?)  

2004.01.25a – I was like a kid impatiently waiting for his mail-ordered sea monkeys to arrive (or, more realistically, for the new issue of Trailer Life to show up) as I patrolled newsstands over and after Xmas for the new Details (“for men”). It eventually dawned on me that I could have checked if the rag takes a break over “the holidays” and puts out a combined issue later.

Finally the magic day arrived, and I was able to buy the January–February ish, bearing the image of the wooden, humourless British actor preferred by straight people, Jude Law. (Jude Law: A kind of Ewan McGregor for accountants and admin assistants.)

But let’s start off by calling Details’s editor-in-chief a liar.

Banning metrosexual(ist)

Daniel “Big Danny” Peres told the New York Post that his New Year’s resolution would be “that this heinous new word, ‘metrosexual,’ which is banned from the pages of Details, [have] the cultural longevity of Dolph Lundgren.” (It even got Gawked.)

At what point was it banned? Because the word screamed off the page in the October issue:

p. 104: Boy, am I getting tired of token gay writer Augusten Burroughs. I’ve never seen the word FAG in 48-point type before. Details editors seem to believe they have license to write “Are Metrosexuals Fake Fags?” as the headline for a feature article in a mainstream magazine. How very post-gay. Let’s test their resolve: I’m looking for future headlines bearing the words NIGGER and KIKE in type of similar size.... Notice to Danny Peres: There’s no such thing as being so well-dressed, fashionable, and downtown-dwelling that you can scream FAG in a crowded magazine.

If you’re going to ban a word from the gay men’s magazine for straight men, why not ban “fag”?

Or kill two birds with one stone and ban Augusten Burroughs? It worked for the Times with Andrew Sullivan.

Trannie boner

Bare chests in this issue

Must be open to the waist to be enumerated.

Loose women, loose men

And hot on the heels of last month’s “Suicide by Stripper” come a pair of stories that deal, tangentially or frontally, with whores and strippers. All they’re missing are gypsies and thieves.

“Cowboy Chic” by Horacio Silva strains valiantly to persuade suspicious heterosexualist readers that embroidered leather cowboy shirts and Ralph Lipshitz ponchos could actually be worn in mixed company. Great way to get fagbashed.

[S]ince the late 1960s – when Jon Voight turned tricks as a corn-fed male hustler in Midnight Cowboy an the Marlboro Man ads launched a gay-fetish industry for chaps and spurs – dressing like a tobacco-chewing ranchhand has not always been synonymous with unfiltered butchness.

Maybe we could fantasy-fact-check that one with Rock Hudson and James Dean on the set of Giant.

“Western fashion has always had this manly, outlaw association attached to it,” says [Holly ‘Golightly’] George-Warren. “But it also has so many over-the-top decorative elements to it and basically allows macho boys to get away with wearing something quite fey. I’ve always thought that guys who wear cowboy boots do so because they have a free pass to wear high heels.”

“Unfiltered butchness,” “hustler[s],” dandyism and transvestism in the space of two short grafs.

Then there’s the whole piece “Is the Bachelor Party Dead?” by Colby Katz, which details absolutely the most boring imaginable bachelor party held outside the state of Utah. Katz nonetheless arrives at a novel and powerful conclusion:

Stag parties aren’t about letting the groom sow his last wild oats. They’re about degrading and humiliating him, then dropping his naked, freshly-tattooed, and comatose carcass on the church steps. [...] “We did a party in the Hamptons where some guys passed out, and their friends put their dicks to sleeping guys’ faces and took pictures. Or they’ll put a lightbulb in a guy’s ass. We’ve had guys who will let us fuck them with a strap-on in front of their friends.... That’s a mystery, why guys want to see other guys humiliated,” says Belladonna.... “You’re a guy. You tell me.” [...]

Men aren’t opting out of raunch. They’re opting out of humiliation. There’s a difference.

This month’s instalment of “Gay or Eurotrash?”

Well, it’s “Gay or Democratic Front-Runner?” this month. Details somehow managed to avoid an obvious reference to that hoary old novel by whatever third-rate faghag it was that bears a similar title. (Still trying to turn it into a movie? Give it up! Queer lit has left you behind. Plus the umpteen movies about Prefontaine all bombed.)

In any event, the model chosen for the piece looks neither gay nor like a Democratic presidential candidate (two of whom were black). And the writing is a flat-out bore. Only the dek works.

One covets the stars-and-stripes bloc; the other flies a rainbow flag. Whether you’re canvassing Peoria or cruising Provincetown, getting the nod requires an inflamed constituency. So firm up that stump speech and stay glued to the polls, because not everyone is convinced you’ve got the right equipment to beat Bush.

Well, at least neither group is apt to choke on a pretzel. Allegedly.

Anyway, the piece concentrates on the piece:

Blue shirt
Transcends white-collar Beltway Establishment – and recalls man-of-the-people prison movies, especially the ones where the cons wear tight-fitting jeans and pump iron and... is it getting hot in here?
Pleated pants
Provides extra room to swing the bat.

How queer is Incubus?

First of all, the lite-pop-metal band is hideously misnamed. “Incubus” denotes what it actually connotes: “An evil spirit supposed to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women as they sleep.” Are you sure it’s specifically women?

Details’s capsule review of Incubus’s new “product” A Crow Left of the Murder (a dense and clever title – compare it to “Are Metrosexuals Fake Fags?”) reads: “Incubus were fast-tracked to MTV’s A-list when frontman Brandon Boyd took his shirt off – never a good predictor of longevity.... Boyd’s still hot, but now so are the songs.” The author of the review is of course the very manly Bart Blasengame.

What our Uncle Tom is up to this month

Finally! Someone other than me bitch-slaps Details house nigger Augusten Burroughs. His

article on same-sex domestic violence was a totally anecdotal and pointless misrepresentation of reality. A shocking number of gay men I know have experienced domestic violence, in some cases necessitating interventions and restraining orders..... I know queer stuff is entertaining [!] and I enjoy seeing it, but it doesn’t need to serve neoconservative ends like bolstering patriarchy by encouraging gays to be “real men” and trying to deny the reality of domestic violence.

Gregory W. McGonigle
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Yeah, like I said. But good on you, Greg.

Who buys DKNY?

“Donna Karan on What’s Sexy.” Perhaps understandably, she does not lounge seductively with a tumbler of gin waxing rhapsodic about the unshaven scrotum, but something is still amiss here.

While you’re busy blurring your masculine/feminine borders and trying on one of Michael Stipe’s skirts, ask yourself who’s buying Donna Karan fashions in the first place. Straight guys, right?

Recurring athlete homophobia

Well, it’s slowly going away, even among black guys. Chris Smith’s “Why Guys Like This [Allen Iverson] Need Babysitters” is a de facto profile of an hipster MBA named Que Gaskins, Iverson’s minder for Reebok. (That British term is so much more appropriate than the lengthy euphemisms Smith and Gaskins come up with: “[T]he Labor Department may soon coin an official term... a b-ball babysitter..... ‘I’d be a portfolio manager. That’s how I sold Reebok on it.’ ”)

Consider a few recent cases: Jeremy Shockey disrespecting men who like men.... After publicly detailing his juiciest sex fantasy (“a threesome with a mother and her twin daughters”) and calling Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells a “homo,” the mouthy player got his own minder.

Wait! There’s the word!

Homophobes who fantasize about lesbians... this could be another Mekhi Pfifer incident in the making, were the latter phobic.

How to be in favour of gay marriage

Be Tony Hendra. He’s improved drastically since dissing some queen named Cojocaru.

“Why Gay Men Definitely Shouldn’t Get Married” is accompanied by inexplicable photo collages by Joseph Heidecker and makes a good clear case with humour and voiv.

Countless Prince Charmings are preparing to mount their fine white steeds – and other Prince Charmings.... There’s very little point to opposite genders living together, except for the highly overrated business of heterosexual sex, which, for 99% of married straights, is a five-to-ten-minute affair anyway, leaving the rest of the week (or month or year) a waking nightmare of underappreciation, burning resentment, mutual incomprehension, and terminal fights over whose turn it is to change Julian.

Falls down at the end, but strong till then. Hendra supports “fighting to do whatever they please... if for no other reason than it enrages, torments, and shoves it up the abundant fundaments of the vile cracker Christians who are trying to force their spittle-flecked morality on the rest of us.”

As he sums up – in a warning we’ve heard from straight people before but never quite so succinctly – “Marriage is no bed of Rosies.”

Safe to tell mom yet?

In the October issue, one read of “Why We Still Lie to Our Mothers”: “ ‘Once a year... my mother corners me to ask if I’ve ever had sex with a woman.’ ” This month, Tom Samiljan’s latest piece, “Accidental Celibacy,” has a source admit “ ‘It’s easy to assume that you’re not potent or you’re gay... that there’s something wrong with you.”

Details, as a fashion magazine for sexualists both homo- and metro-, inhabits a new space pioneered by Playboy, where you were expected to own a quadraphonic sound system. (Larry Flynt: “Who is this magazine for, anyway? I mean, it’s like if you don’t make 20-thousand-plus a year, you don’t jerk off. Seven million people buying it and nobody’s reading it. Gentlemen, Playboy is mocking you.”) If you’re not dressed in a Ralph Lauren poncho and boning your well-shaved pneumatic gf unit n times a week, people think you’re gay – all the way up the evolutionary scale (or all the way down it) to your mother.

I am perhaps lucky that my mother is dead, I don’t wear ponchos, and I’m already queer.

Any more tidbits?

Yes, several, and a couple of them are quite salutary.

  1. How about Tinky Winky? “Know & Tell: The Month: February,” the rather overlong title of the monthly calendar filler piece, lists February 9 as “Teletubby Out Day (+8)” (sic): “Five years ago today, the right Reverend Jerry Falwell accused the nonverbal, non-real kiddie distractor Tinky Winky of being gay. Although not technically a homosexual holiday, it probably should be.”
  2. Jonathan Sabin describes Wesley Gibson’s You Are Here: A Memoir of Arrival as “a welcome addition to the canon of queer confessionals. Step aside, Sedaris.”
  3. Mickey Rapkin’s demicelebrity miniprofile of the euphoniously-named Diego Luna of Y2 MAMA fame is dominated by a stunning artificial hyper-posed portrait by Malerie Marder (no relation). “As Diego Luna drops a lit Marlboro Light, burning a hole in the carpet of a Sunset Boulevard hotel [!], he looks like any other Hollywood ingénue: Shorter than you’d expect, and prettier.”
  4. Michael Caine interview by Mickey Rapkin (again) asks:
    In 1965’s The Ipcress File [did he actually utter “In 1965’s The Ipcress File”?], you played a secret agent who wears glasses. Is it true that the studio was afraid you looked too gay?
    To wear glasses wasn’t really butch, you know. [Not even unfiltered butch. – Ed.] And the other thing was that I cooked a meal for a woman. And they go, “Jesus Christ, they’re gonna think he’s a fag.” And there was all this hullabaloo where in actual fact it turned out to be just the opposite. Women were fascinated by a man who would cook a meal for a woman.
  5. Fair profile of ACLU head Anthony Romero (“Hello[,] My Name Is: The Most Hated Man in America” by Jeff Gordinier). Romero’s overwide smile and ultra-recessed nasolabial creases are properly dubbed “Joker-y.” He’s a big fairy, too, and a lapsed vegetarian. I don’t like the typography, especially the rendition of an HELLO MY NAME IS nametag. (Just go buy one and scan it, fuckface!) Goldinesque oddball off-axis photography by Lisa Kereszi.
  6. Yes, straight guys are body-conscious, and have been for a full generation. There’s nothing queer about it. (Go to a non-gay gym sometime and observe. There just isn’t. These guys are so straight it takes them ages to figure out why you’re looking at them.) Corey Levitan, “Enough with the Carbs Already”: [A] muscular 23-year-old man named Ray [is] a Carb-Counter and his asinine army is millions strong. ‘It’s good,’ he says of his swill [a low-carb beer], with the delusional, keep-believing-it determination common to his kind..... ‘I think I look better,’ says [Josh Lawler, 6′, 170 pounds]. ‘I’ve got a six-pack and I want to keep it.’ ” (Commonly-hideous typography for this piece, with full-measure type set against a backing photo. Other pages show ALL CAPS, and not even ALL SMALL CAPS, either.)  

Previously: DecemberNovemberOctoberSeptember

2004.01.25b – We take a walk dangerously close to cliché as we travel back Ten Years Ago in Spy this month, for the issue’s cover story concerns the ’70s. I don’t know about you, but I had to look up what “oleo” was.

After putting a full workday into this recap of an ancient satirical magazine, all I can say is: Put some Bobby Brown on the Toshiba, raise your crystal tumbler of Cutty Sark, and bellow Skål!  

2004.01.25cMen this month features an hairless model, while Freshmen, the ultra-special-interest mainstream stroke mag for chickenhawks, shows a fellow with chest hair.

‘Men’ & ‘Freshmen’ covers

I read them for the articles.  

2004.01.23 – One’s esteemed colleague Choire “NOT PRONOUNCED ‘KWAHR SEESHA’ ” Sicha advises that Nick Denton, who’s still in major shit with every standards-compliant and/or ethical Web designer and developer on the planet, has launched yet another new site.

This new D.C. gossip Weblog Wonkette is even more broken than its predecessors, with a mere 321 errors in fussy-parsing mode. (Yes, other esteemed colleague Jonno, that is indeed the catchphrase of the year.) If that seems high, you can always try the validator in regular mode, which results in... 321 errors! It’s unanimous.

Stylesheets? Two errors in the main file (not bad), only one in the @imported file (also not bad). I mean, I have a single CSS error I cannot remove (because it is claimed to be located at line zero, which itself is nonexistent).

But wait a sec, though. I just thought of something.

This is a whole new Dentonist site? Funny, I thought Denton was too poor to pay a few thou to Noel to unfuck his existing sites?

I see.  

2004.01.17 – Featurette (months old) in the Grauniad:

After a quick house tour, in which I spy a photo of Coupland with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and the actor Ethan Hawke – a triumvirate of iconic alienation – and a pop art collection that I am forbidden to discuss [...]

Yes, but within the last six months I read, in a printed source, of a full-on tour of Coupland’s house, listing an inventory of his art room in some detail. It is driving me crazy that I cannot locate that source. Does this ring any bells?  

2004.01.XX – Long-sleeved T-shirt with crewneck, of course. Twice removed:

I’ve seen parking garages that require less validation.  

2004.01.15In the 1980s,

there was no World Wide Web – none of the private-ish, public-ish, superimmediate forums kids today take for granted. If this new technology has provided a million ways to stay in touch, it has also acted as both an amplifier and a distortion device for human intimacy. The new forms of communication are madly contradictory: anonymous, but traceable; instantaneous, then saved forever (unless deleted in a snit). In such an unstable environment, it’s no wonder that distinctions between healthy candor and ‘‘too much information’’ are in flux and that so many find themselves helplessly confessing, as if a generation were given a massive technological truth serum.

Now that the Gray Lady printed it, perhaps you’ll all believe me (or actually Danny O’Brien).  

2004.01.14Homepage now less hideous. Yet nothing else has changed.

(I have been entertaining the idea of a contest to find the least-valid page amid my sites. What would the prize be? A Tofurkey or something?)

I put out a lot and I take this seriously. That is why I am so painfully aware of the deficiencies. My sites are valuable and unique, and are more technically and semantically correct than all but a few thousand other pages in existence, yet they are not up to my own standards. I am embarrassed at my own work. Can you believe it?  

2004.01.13a – And despite appearances, I didn’t even write it (alternate link).

What Made Mr. Denby Write Nutty Snatch of Fin-de-siècle?   

2004.01.13b

1 for "brett stewart"
2 for "brett stewart"
1 for "brett"
Who?
1 for "clarks wife"
Who?  

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Logroll, or “low-threshold links.”

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