August 2nd, 2011

television

How I Met Your Mother

So Shannon and I have been watching "How I Met Your Mother" from Netflix lately, because we like to have a 30-minute show on hand for times when we just want to watch something short (such as when "healing" Cobweb), and I have been quite drastically impressed. I hate most American comedies, especially sit coms, and laugh tracks usually set my teeth to grinding. But I actually like this show. Shockingly enough, it actually makes me laugh out loud at least a couple times each episode!

The narrative structure is often wackily non-linear (which I like), the humor is often pretty smart (which I like), the writers show a sly awareness of the medium (which I adore), and there's a childlike joy to the whole thing that makes me happy. It has a sort of Calvin and Hobbes sort of fun to it, though I can't explain how.

Plus, you know, Alison Hannigan: hotness personified, and great comic timing. Plus, you know, Neil Patrick Harris: geeky coolness personified, and amazing comic timing.

Such a great show! I am flabbergasted!
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Chunky Rice: chorus to the verse

Goodwill Sucks! And Webcomics Rock!

Goodwill Has Gone Stupid

Today I ran some errands, and -- dude! Goodwill charges $9.99 for a used blanket? (As opposed to those new blankets they sell at Goodwill, you know.) I can buy a new one online for that price, and choose the color I want instead of just getting whatever some random person donated! I just want something decent looking for the cats to lie on in the chair in my office!

Also, here's some stupidity: the Goodwill nearest our house (the one on University Ave) no longer marks prices on any of their merchandise. (I'm not sure if this is now a global Goodwill policy; I know only what's happening in our local store.)

I had noticed this pricelessness in the recent past, just for individual items, and figured it must be an isolated mistake. But no ... it is now their policy. Why? I asked one of the employees while I was shopping today, and he said that shoppers in their store were rather frequently swapping tags so that they could get merchandise for less than it was originally marked. So now the cashiers just have a list of prices, and they look up your merchandise when you bring it to them, and then they tell you the price and ring up your purchase. So when you're looking at an item (say ... a blanket), you don't know if it costs $3 or $5 or $10 or $15 or what! So you have to carry the damn thing up to the register, wait in line, ask the price, and then decide whether you want to buy it or not. Which means people like me (those who don't commit to a purchase until they know the price and can consider whether they consider it reasonable, given their needs, desires, degree of liking for the object, and financial resources) carry crap up to the register, then make their decision while everyone else waits in line behind them, then possibly leave the stupid item at the register and walk out the door, so that some poor employee then has to take the rejected item back into the store and find where it belongs. Wasteful! What kind of ridiculous store policy requires customers to wait in line to find out how much the merchandise costs? Sheesh!

Anyway, I also spent a while today reading a relationship-focused Swedish webcomic I just discovered (in a stranger's comment on one of Shannon's journal entries), called Anders Loves Maria. Something about it reminds me of Craig Thompson's Blankets and maybe even the same author's Goodbye, Chunky Rice (probably my favorite graphic novel -- represented in the icon I'm using for this post -- which included a scene/page that traumatized me for the rest of my life by its pure, childlike pathos).

Webcomics That Rock

It got me thinking about my current favorite webcomics, so I thought I'd share. In order of how much I adore them:

  1. Hyperbole and A Half: No real plot, just individual autobiographical shorts, but there is much, much hilarity, mostly of the ironic, self-deprecating kind ... but also an occasionally stunning reminder of the beauty of the world. I tried to get this rss feed syndicated on LJ, but it looks like it didn't work (for whatever reason), which means I've missed a lot of it. I should try the whole LJ-rss-feed-creating process again, because missing "Hyperbole and A Half" means a little less giggling in my life.
  2. xkcd: Again, no plot ... instead, just individual statements, jokes, and/or philosophical musings. Focused primarily on math, technology, and computer programming, but also on relationships and just general workings of the world (religion, relationships, politics, etc.). Huge emphasis on irony and sarcasm. (I follow this comic via its LJ rss feed at xkcd_rss. Yes! An LJ rss feed that works!)
  3. "Anders Loves Maria": See info above. Sadly, it's finished, and so once I've finished reading it, that's all, folks! But apparently the author/artist is now working on a new webcomic, so I guess I'll check that one out next.
  4. Cowbirds in Love: Another plotless, purely episodic comic filled with alternating (and sometimes oddly simultaneous) irony and innocence, plus plentiful pop culture references (to stuff like "Fiddler on the Roof," for example).
  5. The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: This plotted (but not in a beggining-middle-end way ... more of a constantly continuing soap opera way) comic has a strong emphasis on irony and sarcasm. (Am I noticing a theme in my tastes? Naaaah! Or is this just a characteristic of all webcomics?) It focuses largely on superhero and/or mythology tropes, but with frequent simultaneous forays into more real-world kind of issues (like terrorism, misogyny, the Internet, patriotism, etc.). All political issues are portrayed obliquely, but the metaphors are pretty obvious. Still, gotta love Wonderella's no-nonsense, sarcastic, not-very-superhero-like attitude. (I follow this comic via its LJ rss feed at wonderella_rss.)
  6. Daisy Owl: You know ... this mostly episodic comic is actually not particularly ironic or sarcastic! It has a childlike, mischievous, Calvin-and-Hobbes kind of feel to it, with frequent moments of innocence and wonder ... but often punctuated with the gleefully macabre. I haven't read it in a while ... I should go check it out again.
  7. Axe Cop: This vaguely serial comic is written by a small child (5 y.o.), so it's full of really strange leaps of logic, almost certainly unintentional word play, and bizarre imagery. It's faithfully illustrated by the kid's much older, adult (29 y.o.) brother, who interprets the kid's fantastical ideas into images, often in a hilarious way. This comic is mostly enjoyable for its absurdity and unexpectedness. I can't read a lot of it at once, but in small doses it's fabulous.

I know there are other webcomics I've read and enjoyed over the years, but I apparently did not bookmark them, and so they are lost in the inky shadows of my memory forever. Recommendations are definitely appreciated, though!