Well, What Now? 11/10/2014

4 min read

Genius, McRib, and Pandora’s Boxes.

There’s something in the air this week: maybe the tang of ripe apples. Or burning leaves. Something is whispering: Slow down. Look back. Crawl down off that bleeding edge, put on a pair of gray sweatpants, and have a cup of cocoa.

Maybe it’s this:

No matter that you’re likely seeing it for the first time on a tablet or laptop screen. Doesn’t it make you want to run straight to the corner store and pick up a Strathmore drawing pad and a four-pack of Flair pens? It’s the first full Bill Watterson strip in almost 20 years, produced as a poster for an International Comic Festival that he won’t even attend. And it makes genius look obvious. Effortless. The way it always seems to look. Something to shoot for. 1280px-Flashbacksarcade-f-goodrob13Since we’re indulging ourselves in the glories of the past, why not stop for a few minutes and waste a little time playing video games? Not just any games, but the ones from the dustbin of your misspent youth. You’ll wish they’d stayed forgotten, because now they’re free, and you can play them right in your web browser. Courtesy of the Internet Archive, the same folks who brought you every Grateful Dead Show you were at but never heard. Sorry about that. We make it a practice to open up any old Pandora’s Box we find lying around, because if we don’t, you can bet someone else will. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which would like you to be able to play the games of today (and just yesterday) tomorrow, even after their makers have stopped running the servers needed to make them playable. This means games like Civilization V and Mario Kart Wii, which would currently be unplayable without user authentication performed on existing servers. They’ve filed a petition with the Library of Congress and the US Copyright Office in an attempt to make that happen. They make an interesting argument: that gamers will invest more time and money in current games if they know the ones they fall in love with will continue to be available. Much like the McRib sandwich from McDonalds, which has been brought back, to cult acclaim, every autumn since 2006, when it left the regular menu. It suffered a bit of a setback during the past year, due to a runaway photo on Reddit that made the jump to television news. McDonalds has been on damage control a lot lately, first hiring ex-Mythbuster Grant Imahara to myth-bust their beef, and now having him visit a McRib processing plant. Caution: The following video contains footage of McRib meat in all kinds of pre-cooked forms.   No pressed and formed content here: Belt Magazine, a new, free web journal, publishes independent journalism about “the industrial (and post-industrial) Midwest” from their hometown of Cleveland. They’ve spread as quickly as the rust they’re named for, to cover everywhere from Pittsburgh to Detroit and St. Louis. Having started as a print anthology, Belt was launched off sales of that book and with the help of a subsequent Kickstarter campaign. Calling it “a funny reverse business model,” editor-in-chief Anne Trubek expects three-quarters of Belt’s revenue to come from book sales by the end of the year. “Everybody will pay $20 for a print book,” she tells Nieman Lab. “They don’t think it’s weird that you ask.” Whereas, she points out, just about everybody hates a paywall.   By the way, we publish our own free web journal, Punchnel’s, over at punchnels.com, and we run a lot of great non-fiction about the Midwest and beyond. We also publish fiction, poetry, cartoons, and other funny stuff. If you’re a reader, check it out. If you’re a writer, check it out and then submit. We’re always on the lookout for fresh genius. McRib photo by Evan-Amos (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMcD-McRib.jpg) via Wikimedia Commons. Arcade photo by goodrob13 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFlashbacksarcade-f-goodrob13.jpg) via Wikimedia Commons.