Monday various

  • Zombie Font Generator. Presumably, when the zombie apocalypse comes, all correspondence will be written in this. It’ll be like Dawn of the Dead meets The Postman. [via]
  • Clint Eastwood’s family will star in a reality show. And, in other news: Wait, wha–?!
  • Willard Asylum Suitcases:

    In 1995, the New York State Museum staff were moving items out of The Willard Psychiatric Center. It was being closed by the State Office of Mental Health, and would eventually become a state run drug rehabilitation center. Craig Williams was made aware of an attic full of suitcases in the pathology lab building. The cases were put into storage when their owners were admitted to Willard, and since the facility was set up to help people with chronic mental illness, these folks never left.

    I’m really not sure how I feel about this. Are these photographs art? [via]

  • Dubai: come for the human rights violations and widespread corruption, stay for the sewage trucks and typhoid and hepatitis!
  • And finally, Theodora Goss on H.P. Lovecraft’s racism and the World Fantasy Award:

    Did Lovecraft intend that message? I seriously doubt it, and yet it’s there. The story is not the writer. The story is always, if it’s a living story, smarter than the writer.

Monday various

Monday various

  • J. Michael Straczynski quits writing monthly comics, declares future is in original graphic novels. Warren Ellis discusses some of the figures, the actual dollar amounts that might be driving Straczynski’s decision. Financially, it may be a smart decision. But Ellis also adds, not unkindly, the following question:

    What I’m wondering is what happens the first time Joe writes an OGN that isn’t a new iteration of the biggest heritage brand in comics [Superman] with the concomitant press coverage and bookstore push.

    It’s an interesting move on Straczynski’s part, and it will bear watching — both in reader reception of his future projects, and whether or not other monthly comics writers join him. But I think it’s too soon to call this a harbinger of things to come, no matter how troubled the monthly comic book might be as a format.

  • A Canadian Jersey Shore? Can I nominate Red Green to play the role of Snooki?
  • Attention, writers: whatever you do, do not sign a contract with this man. No, not John Scalzi, but that “prevaricating hustler” and “master of bullshit” James Frey, who Scalzi talks about further here. Seriously, there are some pretty terrible publishing contracts out there, vanity presses dressed up like real publishers or outright scams from which no book emerges, but this is still pretty egregious — and exactly the sort of thing MFA programs should be teaching their students how to avoid, not facilitating by offering those students up as Frey’s misguided recruits. [via]
  • A typographic anatomy lesson [via]
  • And finally, a haunting tour of the abandoned — and soon to be demolished — Six Flags New Orleans [via]

Wednesday various

  • Six degrees of literary separation? [via]
  • If nothing else, I think this elaborte fake ATM is proof that you don’t need a carefully designed forgery to fool a lot of people. [via]
  • The Cracked Guide to Fonts [via]
  • You know, I’m sure Tin House‘s heart was in the right place with this prove you bought a book somewhere before you submit anything policy, but it’s not hard to see why it’s upset some people.
  • And finally, an interview with Michael Palin:

    I’m very proud of the fish-slapping dance we did in Python. We rehearsed this silly dance where John Cleese hits me with a fish and I fall into Teddington Lock. We were so intent on getting the dance right that I didn’t notice the lock had cleared and instead of it being a 2ft drop into the water it was a 15ft drop. I’m very proud of doing that.

    The rest of the interview is pretty interesting too — he didn’t think A Fish Called Wanda was a good script when he first read it — although residents of his “worst place ever,” Prince George, British Columbia, might not love it.

Wednesday various

  • I don’t know, there has to be a better way to reform our failing public schools than by firing all the teachers. [via]
  • Is it just me or is having Abe Lincoln say, “I’ve been a slave to vampires for thirty years” sort of in questionable taste? It feels like maybe it’s just me. Still, this is pretty neat as far as book trailers go.
  • I admit it, I got a kick out of Hark! A Vagrant’s Canadian Stereotype Comics.
  • Yes, and this font joke. [via]
  • And finally, I meant to post about this when BBC Audiobooks America did their whole audio book by Twitter thing with Neil Gaiman, way back in October, but I just never got around to it. You can read the whole story here (or you can listen to the audio version here), but even I haven’t done that, and I contributed a line to the darn thing. They’ve apparently since done at least one other such story, with author Meg Cabot, but I’m much more interested in the experiment here than the results. It was fun to participate the day-of, but like Salon’s Laura Miller, I’ve yet to be convinced that the results are particularly readable to outside eyes.

    Raymond Chandler once offered this piece of advice to his fellow writers: “When in doubt, have a man with a gun come into the room.” Yet even the excitement of an armed intruder wears thin by the time you’ve got 30 of them milling around for no apparent reason….At some point, every tale needs to stop expanding so it can begin to contract into a coherent whole. People often ask great storytellers, “Where do you get your ideas?” but the real question is “How do you make sense of your ideas?” [Samuel R.] Delany believed that good writers read so much that they “internalize” certain “literary models” and thereby acquire an instinctual feel for a story’s proper shape. As they build on that evocative first image or scene, while they are still venturing further out into the unknown, an unconscious part of their creative intelligence is figuring out how to knit it all back together again. Writers who never develop that instinct tend to keep dragging new gunmen into the room until the story stalls out, which is why a decent ending is so much harder to write than an enticing beginning. The ability to pull it off is one thing that separates the Neil Gaimans of this world from the rest of us saps.

    Which may just be another way of saying too man cooks — especially untrained cooks — spoil the broth.