okay but which were your favorites??? (totally asking for a friend…)
Hmmm… I have the worst memory for fic unless it’s right in front of me. And there’s a bunch of good stuff out there, for a relatively small fandom.
I do an ok job bookmarking my top favorites on Ao3 - at least, for the longer ones?
Or ones that are particularly striking. Hmm now that I look at it there are fewer bookmarks than I remember.
I definitely don’t have that for all of them though - and usually I don’t bookmark the most kudosed ones in a fandom because that’s where I tend to start reading and don’t have a benchmark for them yet…
Finished a sketch from previous project. I really enjoyed the sketch, but didn’t really know how to paint it at the time. The line had so much information that It was overwhelming, haha. Finally took a stab at it to add it into my portfolio! :D
Geodesy, or geodetics, is the study of the representation of earth.
You’ve probably seen surveyors before, though you may not have realized. Often you will see them standing on the sides of roads, with contraptions sitting atop what are essentially very tall yellow tripods. These tools are actually highly precise and highly accurate tools used for mensuration – literally the study of measurements (typically geometric measurements, but there are all types of mensuration, really).
So when you put those two things together, the National Geodetic Survey is essentially a governmental organization that collects very precise distances, angles, and areas at various points on the earth’s surface (at least within the US), and it uses those measurements to create 2D and 3D representations of the earth (again, within the US).
These measurements and representations are used to create topographic maps, plan infrastructure, make all sorts of maps, and generally make life easier for everyone everyday. A lot of work goes into making life in the 21st century more navigable.
Benchmarks are used to ensure that measurements are taken from the same location. You’ll notice that in the top photo, there’s a triangle on the benchmark. This indicates that the benchmark is used for triangulation, and you might find other “reference” benchmarks around it that act as reference points. Often, they have arrows pointing to the triangulation benchmark, and they can come in very handy if something happens to the more important benchmark (e.g., vandalism or removal, which are illegal and carry a heavy fine).
You’ll find benchmarks at the tops of many mountains because, as you can imagine, being the highest point around can come in very handy for mapping elevation. You don’t always see them, though, and I try to take photos of them when I can, because I’m a mapping nerd. People also photograph them as proof that they summited. I have been to the top of Observation Point in Zion National Park TWICE now, and I’ve forgotten to photograph the benchmark each time! But you can see it peaking out in the lower right-hand corner of this photo:
Anyway, you can find benchmarks all over the place. Literally anywhere in the US. They aren’t always these cast, embedded metal discs, though. Sometimes they are obelisks or cairns. They’re fun to look for.
If you’ve ever heard of geocaching (a sort of treasure hunting that you do, using geographic coordinates to find the cache), there’s a similar game on the geocaching website for people who like to hunt benchmarks. If you put in your postal code (or the nearest postal code to the area in which you’d like to go benchmark hunting), it will list of all Geodetic Survey database items for that area with geographic coordinates.
If that’s too much work for you, here’s a website that will return a KML file (point file) displayed in a Google Earth plugin. Here are all of the benchmarks for the Salt Lake City area as an example:
I selected Dale Peak, the benchmark I visited yesterday (and seen in the first photo of this post), but I also see a bunch of benchmarks by my house in the valley! Because civil engineering.
Anyway, benchmark hunting is fun. Geocaching is fun. Max might be into an active, real life “treasure hunt” of sorts! Usually the cache is a small, weather proof container, and you leave a note and a little trinket with which to replace the one that you take.
If you don’t have a handheld GPS, you can use your cell phone! Apps probably cost money (like the Geocaching.com-endorsed app), but you could also use the free Google Earth app and files saved to your Google account through custom maps in Google Maps. Or just plan ahead and wing it. Because adventure!
SHOUJO MANGA MONTH: MOTO HAGIO DOES EVERYTHING RIGHT
Last week we began our elegant, stylish voyage through shoujo manga, or Japanese girls’ comics. This week we’re going to go a bit further. If you want to get some background on what shoujo manga is and why it’s so important, please check out last week’s article.
Last week we discussed the most egregious type of shoujo manga: the painfully boring, derivative cash cow. This week we’re going to talk about a thoroughly good collection of shoujo stories, why these stories are so essential to girl comics as a whole, and why all this gabbing about feelings and emotions is actually pretty cool stuff. Please check your cynicism at the door because this is gonna be some earnest real talk.
As always with manga, please remember to read the clips from “A Drunken Dream” from right to left.
The Magnificent 24 Year Group / The Magnificent Forty Niners
Moto Hagio belonged to a group of manga artists called the Magnificent 24 Year Group, or the Magnificent Forty Niners. This group of artists all hung out together and made awesome, mind blowing comics in the early ‘70s. You like good shoujo manga? Thank them for it. Are you into sweet, beautiful dude on dude lovin’? Yeah, these guys pretty much started that trend too. The Forty Niners themselves say that critics and fans made up the nickname, but they never thought of themselves that way. The name itself refers to the fact that most of the members were born around 1949, the 24th year of the Showa Period in Japan. Some argue that the only members of the 24 Year Group were those that hung around the apartment shared by Moto Hagio and Keiko Takemiya between 1970 to 1972.
Before the 24 Year Group, girls’ comics were mostly drawn by dudes and didn’t properly address the actual thoughts and feelings of girls—unless they were talking about love and romance. (Sound familiar?) It took the mad creativity of the Magnificent Forty Niners to really turn all of that on its head. The Forty Niners pushed the conversation in girls’ comics from the default I-want-a-boyfriend talk to self-actualization through emotional journeys. They tackled themes such as “science fiction, rock and roll music, horror, homosexuality, gender, identity, and fantasy” and weaved stories about “sportswomen, epics, love between boys, and history or social problems.”
So why does this matter? For essentially the first time, shoujo manga was made by women for girls and was reallivearts. That’s really something we’ve never mimicked over here in America Comics Land, on any significant scale. This was a group of badass ladies saying badass things and changing the conversation about women and comics completely.
There isn’t a lot of further reading, aside from, say, Wikipedia, but I highly recommend this amazing tumblr.
The translator of this volume, Matt Thorn, is also a huge resource for learning more about the Twenty Four Year Group. The 2003 interview with Moto Hagio from the back of the collection can be found here and his website covers a lot of interesting stuff about shoujo manga overall.
Making Something Beautiful and Real
I believe that the “Drunken Dream” collection of stories lays the groundwork for measuring all of the wonderful components of girls’ comics. It’s a heck of a yardstick, I’ll tell you that. While some stories are weaker than others, as a whole, “A Drunken Dream And Other Stories” spans the breadth of what makes shoujo manga great.
Borrowing from Kinko Ito’s work A Sociology of Japanese Ladies’ Comics and my own observations from last week, here is my rubric for measuring what makes up a real, excellent shoujo manga:
Similar stylistic elements—commonly including large eyes, lack of or reduced secondary sex characteristics (such as breasts), elegant clothing and rich, luxurious environments.
Focus on character development, interaction, and feelings above action and plot.
Female characters are multidimensional, having non-romantic goals, desires, thoughts, and experiences.
The “Drunken Dream” collection isn’t just a beautiful compellation of good comics. It’s a good collection that is so essentially shoujo, that it’s good because it’s shoujo. These elements—the stylistic elegance, the connectedness to human emotion, that’s what’s great here.
Some US reviewers take issue with the “melodrama” of Hagio’s work in this collection, deploring that the characters and plot points are too simple and obvious to challenge readers. I think those simple plot elements give the comics their emotional charge!
In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud talked about how simple character designs allow readers to infuse the character in question with their own personality—and by projecting ourselves in, we’re making the act of reading comics a bigger emotional investment. This is because we can anthropomorphize anything and make it our own.
The simple plot devices in Hagio’s works act a lot like the simple character designs in some other comics. We see our own loneliness echoed back in her characters, the same spark of life. Hagio gives us stories we can relate to, and in their simple structure we see our own lives.
The obvious symbols don’t really matter that much. They’re just points to keep you moving on your way. The experiences of the characters are much more important than any mind-blowing realization at the end of the story—so pretty much, Inception this is not. In Iguana Girl, you find out that the main character is a human being and not actually an iguana like she is drawn. Her iguana face is a metaphor for the low self-esteem her mother passed down to her. Iguana Girl doesn’t have any real “big reveal moment” hinged on that mindfuck moment where you realize that she’s really a person. You learn about that incredibly early in the story. The comic is really about one girl’s struggle with low self-esteem. Isn’t that incredibly powerful in its own right?
Even the super simple “Girl With Puppy On Porch,” lays itself out on the table for you with its obviousness. After a few pages, you realize that the girl with her puppy is just a kid trying to keep the terrible world from destroying her beautiful imagination. No mystery, no suspense, just pretty much a message saying “the world sucks, but doesn’t it suck that things have to be this way?” Hagio is opening up some real genuine shoujo manga catharsis for all of us to share in the experience.
The “Drunken Dream” collection is a buffet of emotion.
Anger and helplessness.
It’s impossible to read through these panels and not feel your own life in them—and that’s why Hagio is such a brilliant writer. Shoujo manga is all about feelings, and Hagio is the master of feelings. The Queen of Feelings. THE EMPRESS OF FEELINGS.
I think I’m getting ahead of myself.
I had never heard of the 24 Year Group before reading this anthology, but I feel like my life has been dramatically enriched by this collection. I want to buy three copies of it so that I can loan 2 to new people and have a back up loan copy for the eventual time when one of them gets stolen.
Fantagraphics will be putting out an English-language release of one of Moto Hagio’s most renowned works, Heart of Thomas, this summer. You can bet that you’ll be hearing from me about it as soon as it’s out.
So berrodtherapscallion mentioned something about checking out HW Benchmark; specifically today, 27th August 2015, using the default Midlander. This is the results. Needless to say, I was almost pissing myself with laughter omg.
Today, this here blog reaches two milestones: 900 posts and over 33,000 subscribers.
While I suspect 32,000 of you dear subscribers are pornbots, I am still deeply moved to have had the privilege of your eyes, ears, and attention over the past two years. And since I imagine many of you new-comers know little of me, my blog’s mission, or why a guy featured on Tumblr Spotlight: Sports rarely ever posts about sports, here’s a quick recapitulation:
My name is Abel Charrow.
When this blog began, I was racing a marathon a month for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
I did pretty well; finishing under three hours in one race, under 3:10 in two more, and placing in a fourth.
More importantly, the project raised over $15,000 for the LLS, and proffered invitations for my participation in a number of other inspiring and gratifying charity projects.
I’ve received more than my fair share of compliments and thanks. I’ve accepted them graciously, and continued to portray myself here as insufferably benevolent and modest (I’ve done a tremendous job at that).
In truth, I have a behemoth of an ego (as many competitive athletes do), which offends swiftly and bruises easily. Which drives me to judge quickly, to grow frustrated and bitter and discouraged, and to dwell in jealousy towards those whom have gotten more by doing less. But it also drives me to go further, push harder, reach higher, and to never be satisfied with yesterday’s long-gone laurels.
Every day of training, of fundraising, of organizing benefits and writing this blog was a constant challenge of channeling the best of me for public consumption and condensing the rest for only my closest confidants to suffer. I now think this was a mistake. I should have allowed you to see the bad with the good: the injuries, insults, setbacks, and uncertainties. Though I hate to admit it, I am only human, after all.
I did not begin this project because I am a naturally altruistic person; charity has been my atonement. When I was 23, my cousin Eric was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I was not there for him. I was too self-absorbed and naive to understand the pain, lonesomeness, and uncertainty he was facing. Only after he was again deemed healthy did we talk, and he chided me for being a careless and insensitive friend. He was right, and I promised to make it up to him.
This blog has been my way of paying penance. When I set out on the 6n6 Challenge, I set a few rules: Never would I actively seek recognition; Never would I advertise on this blog; Never would I personally profit from my efforts.
While I’ve vigilantly tried to stay true to those guiding principles, I must admit, in many ways, I have profited. The experiences resulting from my efforts here have been both immeasurably rewarding and life-altering. The 6n6 Challenge, and the projects that have spawned from it, bring meaning, direction, and light to my life.
Over a century and a half ago, Horace Mann said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” That quote used to haunt me. Used to.
This has been a small victory, but -at the risk of sounding self-satisfied- its a victory nonetheless. My posts may be less frequent and focused as before (as I take this hiatus from charity work to focus more on my professional life), but please know the intention and heart is still here, and I look forward to the day I return whole-heartedly to charity work.
It has been, and remains, an honor to be invited into your world and to have you as a part of mine. Thank you.