Spencer is a Dungeon Master. Specifically, he’s the guy who put his hand up when (Community creator) Dan Harmon asked the audience at his regular Harmontown night “is there anyone here who knows how to be a dungeon master?” Since then he’s been getting up on stage and running D&D for Dan Harmon, show comptroller Jeff Davis, and a diverse cast of assorted guests. The Harmontown podcast has wormed its way to the top of my podcast priority list in recent times, and Spencer is definitely part of why. He’s just a guy, like so many guys I know, only he’s been caught up in this mad indie-culture anti-structural comedy thing led by a revered cult figure. He used up his annual leave from his job in the back room of an Apple store to go on a U.S. tour with Harmontown. He ran D&D every night on stage. I’m just about to get into the tour podcasts, but today Dan Harmon shared this incredible post about the importance of Spencer. See, it turns out Spencer is the hero of the story. So – Harmontown is often great, and often meandering and a waste of time, but try it. If it’s your thing, it will be your thing in a big way. I’m not even gonna link to it directly. If you’re not intrigued enough to find it yourself, then the time is not right for you.
Via Jon Ball, a drill sergeant in the U.S. asked for a letter of explanation as to why they joined the army. In the stack was this beauty. (Downthread it is revealed the writer is female, and despite the tone of the initial comment, the drill sergeant thinks she’s great.)
Tof Eklund wrote this smart, detailed, well-referenced post about gun control in the U.S. Among things I didn’t know: thanks to heavy NRA lobbying, the CDC stopped all research into gun control issues. Whoa.
Written By A Kid is rocking it, with a return appearance by the kid who wrote the amazing La Munkya story. This is a Valentine’s Day tale (featuring Elvira!):
Any article that starts out talking about the original Cat People will win my attention. This is a marvellous short piece – you get the whole story behind one of TV/film’s biggest current cliches. (Related: I was musing on Twitter recently about the origins of another cliche shot, where the camera looks down on a character and pulls back to a wide shot as they scream “nooooo!” – even without the “Nooo!” I can’t find an overhead pullback earlier than Shawshank…)
– Map of a galaxy far, far away… (creative commons, too)
– Man spends 7 years drawing an insanely detailed maze
– Map of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands
– Map of post-apocalyptic Seattle
Jemima Khan writes a great, smart, fair overview of the Assange situation – some damning details of how he alienated supporters (including her). The last line is a killer.
Following the Wade Davis article a couple weeks back, The Observer covers more Jared Diamond controversy. Here’s the Stephen Corry article they refer to – I think the Observer gives it a pretty unfair hearing here. I’m much more inclined to trust Corry than Diamond, based just on this material.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – a webseries contemporary adaptation of Pride & Prejudice – featured in the AVClub this week, and that’s enough excuse to include it here for a third time. Try it, Austen fans! (That includes you, mum.)
Dangerous Minds found a copy of David Lynch’s hard-to-find oddity, Industrial Symphony! Quality is poor, but still! I had a VHS tape of this that I recorded off the telly – it was broadcast one Saturday morning at about 10am on a free-to-air channel back in 1990 or so. Lord knows where that tape went, but I’m excited to see this again. (Warning: Nicolas Cage)
Literary translator muses on a transformation in European literature towards a shared Euro-style, and what that says about cultural transformation in the area.
Via auchmill, who happens to be director of an art museum right now: The Art Game, about being an artist. Well worth a look. Takes very little time.
Via Pearce, a classic of the interactive-fiction genre, Photopia – written as part of a grieving process – and its moment of perfect beauty. Play it, I did, it’s short and wonderful and clearly an exemplar of a new kind of literary art production.
And finally… that time Fred Astaire danced wearing an Alfred E. Neumann mask. (via Sinatra-nerd Allen Varney; Mark Evanier put the clip back into circulation, but AICN has the cool photo so I led with that link)