athelind: (clobberin' time)
One of the comic-related blogs that I peruse regularly is also art-related: Superhero of the Month. They have a pretty straightforward shtick: each month, they pick a superhero, and invite the art community to reinterpret that character with new costume designs and, occasionally, revamped backgrounds. The contest is usually sponsored by some comic book shop, and the prizes tend to be graphic novels featuring the character in question.

It's a concept that's produced some really impressive and thoughtful looks at iconic characters, and it's one that depends heavily on fair use, remix culture, and the principles of the transformative works movement.

So what in the world possessed them to shill for a copyright-maximalist marketeer and his hollow, vapid t-shirt logo "superhero"?

Here's the guy who's the subject of the December 2011 contest: NOTES (or possibly N.O.T.E.S.), flagshill for the innovatively-named Superhero EnterprisesTM.

"NOTES" is our most powerful science fiction superhero and a highly-skilled leader in music technology, whose mission is to enhance and transform the experience of making and editing electronic music.

"N.O.T.E.S." distinctively offers solution(s) to the global fight against illicit downloading and counterfeiting, as the consequences of digital piracy online and in the streets....have continued to threaten the U.S. economy, jeopardize public safety, and undermine the livelihood of our domestic entertainment industries.

Comic book superheroes are supposed to provide role models that are potentially used by children in developing self images. N.O.T.E.S. symbolizes these qualities of high moral character, courage, generosity, and honor of a noble spirit.


That's right, kids: he fights those eeeeeeeevil downloaders! He's a valiant defender of the profit margin and traditional distribution models!

The blog also offers a link to the eventless "origin story" for NOTES, in which Our Hero defeats a couple of shoplifters with ... um ... look, all snarkiness aside, but it really reads like his music is so crappy that they go into convulsions. There may be more pages that haven't been posted yet; it certainly reads that way, and the "origin" offers no explanation as to how he got these powers of amazing musical dysentery.

I've perused the rest of the site, and it just gets worse. The fake street 'tide, the obvious memetic targeting toward the metaculturally naive—he's like Joe Camel for anti-downloading. There's nothing about actual story here; he's Pure Product, No By-Product. Sure, Marvel-Disney and DC-Warner exploit their properties mercilessly these days, and yes, Joe and Jerry's concept sketches included sketches of product labels adorned with their mythical muscleman, but NOTES is designed to be merchandised first and foremost. They come right out and say it: he was the logo for their music production company first, then they decided to spin him off into a "superhero". He got t-shirts and sneakers (and an art contest!) before his first comic was ever released. They describe him themselves as "the trendiest superhero in the universe."

Higher praise no mutant could ask.

And what fabulous prizes await the artists who can best capture this Champion of Commercialism?

1st Place: Opportunity to write/illustrate a two-page short story featuring NOTES to be featured on Superhero Enterprises' Tumblr and DeviantArt pages, and a NOTES T-shirt.


Semantic Analysis: Draw us free art to make our IP look cool and popular, and we'll let you do more free art to promote our brand!

Your Obedient Serpent was sore tempted to post a comment along these lines on the SotM blog announcement, but honestly, that's flat-out trolling—especially since the comment list on every SotM entry is headed with a "don't be rude" disclaimer.

I should note, however, that the contest parameters themselves state: "What we'll be looking for is an illustration that best exemplifies what you believe NOTES stands for."

Oh my. Do be careful what you wish for.

My medium of choice, alas, is prose, and thus not appropriate for the contest.

I think it would be a fine thing, however, if the more artistically-inclined provided the blog with entries that showed exactly what they believe NOTES stands for.

As Uncle Howard used to say ... Do Not Call Up What You Cannot Put Down.


athelind: (AAAAAA)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Have you ever closed the door on an opportunity or a relationship in order to open another door, only to realize you made the wrong choice?

oh, for crying ...

Yes, okay, yes. I woke up to that running through my brain this very morning: sometimes it seems like every single time I've had a binary choice, I've picked the wrong one. On the rare occasions that I do make the right choice, I manage to screw it up somehow with later choices.

I reiterate my conclusion from the last "life of regrets" Writer's Block I answered, less than three weeks ago:

Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda is toxic.

You can't do a damned thing about where you've been.
You can only do something about where you're going.

Face Front.



Rassin' frassin' LiveJournal Drama Llama stereotypes. There should be a cap on how often Writer's Block can ask the same kinds of question in a single month.
athelind: (AAAAAA)
Last night's poll about "The Green Hills of Earth" inspired a wave of "Other" responses, all listing a different song in the Common Meter.

Some of them work for me; some of them don't. (The Yellow Rose of Texas? Seriously??)

But one thing's for sure: after a while of trying to sing these lyrics to all these different tunes, the tunes all start to run together in your head ...




athelind: (Howitzer)
When did it stop being bad manners to talk about religion and personal belief?

Ninety-nine percent of our problems with polarization and conflict stem from the shift in culture that's made this an acceptable topic of public discourse.

I miss the concept of "boundaries".


athelind: (eco-rant)
Okay, one reason, and one alone:

The United States of America consumes a disproportionate amount of the world's resources, and produces a disproportionate amount of its pollution. Even a massive socio-economic catastrophe isn't going to do more than moderate that, at least over the next half-century or so. this is an issue that I can't run away from, because the ripples affect the entire world, and not just economically.

I am an Earth Systems Scientist.

If I have any hope of having an effect on this globe-threatening situation, it's gotta be here.

I've got my lever, rusty as it may be, and I think I'm narrowing down my places to stand.


athelind: (politics)
This was originally tacked on as a footnote to my last post, but I think it needs to stand on its own.

For the record, the "Divided States of America" is only a "worst-case scenario" if the Balkanization is violent. That's not unlikely, because we're all pretty pissed at each other right now, and we do like our guns.

On the other claw, the Soviet Union managed to spin off its component without devolving into all-out war, though, even if there were border skirmishes; if the U.S. pulled off the same trick, California might wind up better off than we are now, with the Federal Government funneling money out of the eighth-largest economy in the world and into Red States who rant against taxation, welfare and government interference.


athelind: (prisoner)
Mostly for my own reference: some thoughtful and measured words about emigration.

I'll tell ya: ever since reading Toffler's predictions for the future of the two "Second Wave" superpowers in 1990's Powershift, and watching it come true in the Soviet Union less than a year later, there's a part of me that's been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Yes, I'm fully aware that this kind of apocalyptic paranoia has contributed to the paralyzing stasis of my life since graduation.

Still, there's an important truth in play: things aren't getting any better in the Untidy States, and the best-case scenario is to hope that the continual erosion of our rights and freedoms will be sufficiently gradual that we won't notice.

And the alternatives ... well, we seem to be using all the worst clichés of Cyberpunk as a road map as it is, why not that one, too?*

I would really like to convince myself that this is just pessimism due to the latest economic downturn, but even during the boom years of the '90s, I saw the "New Democrats" quietly and casually continuing the trends of restricting the rights of biological individuals and increasing the freedoms of "corporate persons". Some oppressed groups have made a few advances in acceptance, but really, it's just welcoming them to the same Village that the rest of us live in. One step forward, two steps back.

I'm in the process of reevaluating my life, realigning my goals, and trying to get a better grip on how the "real world" works.

And around here ... it doesn't. Not very well. Not in ways that will do me any good, now or in the future.

Realistically, if I'm trying to reconstruct my present to make plans for my future, "emigration" needs to be one of my options—even and especially if I land the elusive "Real Job" locally.

The big issue, of course, is that the other Anglophone nations don't really want more USian expatriates.


This is not a post about pessimism or defeatism. This is a post about options.
*See next post.

athelind: (work)
You know, I've been leaving my current position at the comic-and-game shop off of my resume, on the assumption that it's somehow "too trivial" and "doesn't look good" for a prospective science professional.

On the other claw, it adds two vitally important things to my resume:

  • Evidence that I am, in fact, currently employed; and
  • A position that I've held for more than a year -- the only one I've held for more than a few months, since getting my degree in 2003.*


I think I have far too much ego invested in the wrong places. I've been more concerned with presenting myself as a ⟨jonlovitz⟩Scientist⟨/jonlovitz⟩ than as a worker--and I have no idea if that's for the "benefit" of prospective employers, or to sustain my own precarious illusions.

So what looks better? A resume that says "I work in a comic book shop", or one that says "I haven't worked at all since 2007"?

Or have I already answered my own question?


*Aside from my time at AppleOne, which I treat as a single job instead of listing each contract/position individually.
athelind: (Default)
You know, I've been leaving my current position at the comic-and-game shop off of my resume, on the assumption that it's somehow "too trivial" and "doesn't look good" for a prospective science professional.

On the other claw, it adds two vitally important things to my resume:

  • Evidence that I am, in fact, currently employed; and
  • A position that I've held for more than a year -- the only one I've held for more than a few months, since getting my degree in 2003.*


I think I have far too much ego invested in the wrong places. I've been more concerned with presenting myself as a ⟨jonlovitz⟩Scientist⟨/jonlovitz⟩ than as a worker--and I have no idea if that's for the "benefit" of prospective employers, or to sustain my own precarious illusions.

So what looks better? A resume that says "I work in a comic book shop", or one that says "I haven't worked at all since 2007"?

Or have I already answered my own question?


*Aside from my time at AppleOne, which I treat as a single job instead of listing each contract/position individually.
athelind: (Warning: Group Intellect)
Okay, I've been blowing off most of the new "social networking" sites and applications, because, well, I don't "socialize" online under my mundane name. On the other claw, common wisdom holds that "networking skills" are the single biggest asset in job hunting, and frankly, mine are in red ink. There are advantages to having a "mundane" social presence on The Intertubes, and it's long past time that I start exploiting them.

So, Loyal Friends and Readers, do you have any opinions on the matter?

[Poll #1466978]

Please elaborate on your answers in the comments.


athelind: (Default)
Okay, I've been blowing off most of the new "social networking" sites and applications, because, well, I don't "socialize" online under my mundane name. On the other claw, common wisdom holds that "networking skills" are the single biggest asset in job hunting, and frankly, mine are in red ink. There are advantages to having a "mundane" social presence on The Intertubes, and it's long past time that I start exploiting them.

So, Loyal Friends and Readers, do you have any opinions on the matter?

[Poll #1466978]

Please elaborate on your answers in the comments.


athelind: (facepalm)
Apparently, there's a group out there encouraging people to red shirts on Fridays to "support our troops".

Here's a link to their site, which plays really, really cheesy music. You've been warned.)

Yes, let's wear red shirts on Friday to underscore how nameless and expendable our troops are.

I know that not everyone is a Star Trek fan, but even a cursory Google search would have suggested the Unfortunate Implications.

athelind: (Default)
Apparently, there's a group out there encouraging people to red shirts on Fridays to "support our troops".

Here's a link to their site, which plays really, really cheesy music. You've been warned.)

Yes, let's wear red shirts on Friday to underscore how nameless and expendable our troops are.

I know that not everyone is a Star Trek fan, but even a cursory Google search would have suggested the Unfortunate Implications.

athelind: (big ideas)
Good Idea: putting club soda in a smoothie.

Bad Idea: putting spring mix in a smoothie.

athelind: (Default)
Good Idea: putting club soda in a smoothie.

Bad Idea: putting spring mix in a smoothie.

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