09 November 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #43

08 November 2011

SOMETHING COOL #43

Today, something of which you've probably heard: Kingdom Hearts.

Like most people, I was turned off when I first heard, "Square Enix meets Disney".  But they certainly showed me.  It remains one of my favorite video game series, with seven games out and an eighth scheduled for mid-2012, and so far no disappointments.

04 November 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #42

Curly is being held hostage at the Marriott Suites in Beverly Hills. If you want to see Curly again, send $3000 in unmarked bills to Aubrey's house. She'll make sure his captors get it. Aubrey is not an effervescent elephant, but she'd like to be.

SOMETHING COOL #42

Today: If you're anything like me and are a literature nerd, then I come bearing a website of astounding awesomeness.

Out of Print Clothing

This website sells cotton t-shirts displaying the designs of the original covers of classic novels. They're not particularly cheap (around $30 each) but I wouldn't mind shilling out that kind of money for a Brave New World or On the Road shirt. That is, if I had that kind of money, but that's what tutoring is for.

--- Aubrey

02 November 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #41

Guest comic by Tim and Nathan of Wake Up and Smoke Some Crack.

Tim has won an award; don't ask what, just trust him.  Nathan lives in the here and now.

SOMETHING COOL #41

Wake Up and Smoke Some Crack is a... unique little webcomic done by our good friends, Tim Federmann and Nathan Schneekluth.  With bizarre writing and extremely flamboyant artwork, it's nothing if not eye-catching.

24 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #40



No NBP for now, as Aubrey recovers from some sickness.  Here's some stuff I drew a few months ago.

Curly will show you the light.  Aubrey has canned the small talk.

21 October 2011

SOMETHING COOL #40

Usually cliches are something you want to avoid.  They're old, they're familiar, and they're stale.  Sometimes, though, when a genre has become well established, the work that comes across as original is the one that takes all those cliches and plays them completely straight.

Right now I'm playing through a video game called Nostalgia, which is exactly that kind of game.  In addition to being steampunk (which as I already explained, is pretty cool), it has a structure that's so simple and familiar, yet so well-done, that it's hard not to love it.

19 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #39

Curly is as Curly does. "Aubrey" is a name, Germanic in origin, meaning "counselor to the elves."

18 October 2011

SOMETHING COOL #39

Today: The Stranger by Albert Camus.

The apparent simplicity of this novel belies the underlying complexity of its existentialist themes. It will take you approximately three hours to read, and quite possibly three months to fully understand. It's an excellent, excellent novel for people who are naturally analytic. I recommend that, should you choose to read the novel, you brush up on the basics of existentialism (specifically, absurdist existentialism) beforehand. Also, attack it with pencil and highlighter. Annotate it as if it were a poem.

I don't want to reveal any spoilers here (though you will find that the plot, in reality, is somewhat irrelevant in comparison to the overarching messages concerning the nature of humanity), but I promise that, should you take the time to analyze it, the richness of symbolism, metaphor, etc. will keep you both busy and extraordinarily satisfied.

--- Aubrey

17 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #38


Curly constitutes a major part of the tundra ecosystem.  Aubrey never loved you.

SOMETHING COOL #38

Easily one of the coolest basic ideas of which I'm aware: steampunk.

Basically steampunk represents a cross between speculative science fiction and Victorian England.  The basic premise is to imagine if the internal combustion engine had never been invented, and instead steam technology became more and more advanced.

But I can't really do it justice.  You can read more about it herehere, or here.  Googling it also works.

--Curly

14 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #37

This comic added while Aubrey overcomes some scanner troubles.

Curly has a ten-foot long beard that he's named "Charlie." Aubrey knows why glue doesn't stick to the inside of the bottle.

SOMETHING COOL #37

Today: Yonder Mountain String Band.

There's really not a whole lot I can say about this band (I've always been terrible at band history to be honest) except that they are really, really good. If you like bluegrass, or perhaps just have a strong affinity for the banjo, then Yonder Mountain are for you. I recommend the album Elevation for those who have never listened to them before.

--- Aubrey

12 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #36


Curly shall dance to the death.  Aubrey is on.

SOMETHING COOL #36

I don't listen to a lot of "hipster music", but The Unicorns are probably the hipsterest (hipstest?) band to whom I listen.  It sounds like a mix between off-brand synthesizers and industrial machinery.  And it is wonderful.

The band's history is kind of interesting, as well.  The Unicorns, as you can probably guess, did not have much money, so they had to do without agents or managers or anything and handled it all themselves.  They eventually disbanded mid-tour in 2003 when the stress proved too much for them.

Still, they did enough to earn a small shout-out in How I Met Your Mother's 100th episode, and another one here.

--Curly

10 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #35

  

Curly's just a poor boy, he has no sympathies. Aubrey swears she didn't have anything to do with the water bed incident, officer. 

09 October 2011

SOMETHING COOL #35

Today: Lamb or The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, a novel by Christopher Moore.

The book's premise involves the story of the thirty years or so of Christ's life that is not covered in the bible, as told by his best childhood friend. It's quite possibly one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's not meant to make fun of Christianity per se (the afterword by the author makes it very clear that he doesn't mean to shake anyone's faith, but if their fake is shaken by his book perhaps they ought to be praying harder). Jesus, who is called Joshua, is still the good guy. However, if you're uncomfortable with Jesus Christ and dick jokes appearing in the same sentence, then this book is probably not for you.

Some memorable quotes:

Biff: "Hey Josh, Balthazar sodomizing you?"
Josh: "No!"
Biff: "Vice Versa?"
Josh: "Absolutely not!"

(Concerning "knowing" a woman)
Biff: "Josh are you sure it doesn't bother you talking about this stuff when you will never be allowed to do it?"
Josh: "No it's interesting. It doesn’t bother you when I talk about heaven does it?"
Biff: "Should it?"
Josh: "Look! A Seagull!"

Funny stuff.

--- Aubrey

07 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #34


Curly is the master of the lighthouse.  Aubrey kicks and takes various things.

SOMETHING COOL #34

The Book of Biff and Maximumble.

Definitely off-beat humor.  Unlike some single-panel comics, The Book of Biff actually has the persistence to stick to single-panel comics.  *Cough*  It also uses a few other unique tricks like having only one character and being entirely pantomime aside from the captions.

Maximumble, done by the same guy, is a bit more mainstream.  It's three panels and usually features dialogue, but it's still off-beat and fun in the same way.

--Curly

05 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #33


Curly, of sound mind and unsound body, wills his entire estate to his assassin. Aubrey once mediated a catfight between Mrs. Butterworth and Aunt Jemima.

04 October 2011

SOMETHING COOL #33

Today: Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening is an adaptation of a controversial German play. The play was controversial for the usual reasons. It portrayed homosexuality, child abuse, rape, abortion, and the questioning of religion. What makes the play itself interesting is that it was written in the late 19th century (keep in mind that authors writing into the early to mid 20th century rarely broached the subject of sex at all, for fear of not being able to be published).

The modern day musical is something of a rock opera, and, though I have yet to see it performed live, has excellent music and lyrics. At the risk of spoilers, I will not discuss much of the plot here, but in short it is about a starkly religious society and the response of the teenagers in the community to this inherent sexual repression.

I advise you to give it a listen.

--- Aubrey

03 October 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #32


Think this is fun?  Just wait for part 2!

Curly should not be aggravated.  Aubrey is the eighty-eighth digit of pi.

SOMETHING COOL #32

Another webcomic that's worth checking out: XKCD.  While this humble webcomic will occasionally make jokes based on science or technology, Russell Monroe of XKCD has made a career of it.

There's not really a lot more I can say.  It's just about the nerdiest form of entertainment I consume.  That's right, it's nerdier than SMBC.  Though SMBC has done a guest comic for XKCD, so that's something.

Anyway, the link is available here, or for a little additional fun, here.

30 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #31


Curly has bought you the gift. It's the gift of confidence. Aubrey is NOT a drug addict, she reads cocaine for the articles.

29 September 2011

SOMETHING COOL #31

Today I come bearing a recommendation for an activity that is thoroughly awesome and extremely entertaining, and which I have had the pleasure to partake in this evening.

Fancy Laser Tag.

It's quite simple, really. Put on your best dress or suit, grab a couple of friends (figuratively, unless you're into that kind of thing) and transport yourselves to the nearest laser tag facility. Give yourselves entertaining names (ours included the names of ponies from Friendship is Magic, as well as characters from the film Brazil) and have yourselves an awesome time.

And for the record, Curly and I were victorious as well as fancy. So, so fancy.

--- Aubrey

28 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #30


Curly is a resounding "yes".  Aubrey can see past the lies and the shadows.

SOMETHING COOL #30

Easily one of the most addictive websites ever, TV Tropes is a website dedicated to cataloguing the tricks of the trade of writing fiction.  If you've ever had a conversation that included, "You ever notice how in movies..." or "It seems like in every book I read...", then you're discussing tropes.

Tropes are tools; they are not inherently good nor bad, and their success depends on how they are used.  The website includes a massive trove of pages about tropes, as well as pages for individual works of fiction and the tropes they include.  Odds are, your favorite book or movie has a page, as the site is very well-maintained.

Trust me, it's better than it sounds.  If you, like me, ingest a lost of fiction, you'll be hooked as you read about trope after trope that you've seen a thousand times before but haven't noticed.  It's one of the best ways to ruin your life.

26 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #29

Curly had to resign from a beard competition upon the discovery that he had been utilizing facial hair enhancing drugs. Aubrey had Schrodinger's cat as a pet before the physicist got his hands on it.

SOMETHING COOL #29

Today: The Hunger Games (the book itself, not the series as a whole)

Generally speaking, I don't particularly care for "young adult literature" as it is defined in today's market, with the exception of John Green novels and a few other books. I also try to avoid books that have a lot of hype for worry that a Twilight-esque fandom of squealing girls will follow.

However, I did enjoy The Hunger Games immensely. They were entertaining as well as well-written, and the motifs surrounding the inability to trust one's government as well as the justification of inhuman acts on the innocent for the purpose of making a point were eons ahead of the typical "girl meets boy" cliches that I've come to expect from the Young Adult genre.

I did read the other two books, the second was also very good, while the third was entertaining enough, with an ending that I felt was lacking, but nonetheless the first book is excellent on its own. I hope that the movie (which is set to be released this next year) will not spur the aforementioned fandom of squealing girls, though, as the book is both well-written and not centered on poorly thought out ideas concerning romance, I do not see this happening. I very much recommend The Hunger Games, it exceeded my expectations.

23 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #28


Curly has mastered the way of the ninja.  Aubrey knows no mercy.

SOMETHING COOL #28

Not so much a franchise or product as a pastime: Terrible Movie Nights.

A semi-frequent occurrence with my friends, we get together and watch awful movies and make fun of them.  The concept is by no means new, but I wanted to throw my recommendation behind it.

Among other things, Terrible Movie Nights are a treasure trove of good times and inside jokes.  You can make a party of it if you want.

Personally, I recommend the following setup:
Two bombardiers--those who notice every little thing that sucks about the movie, and are quick to point it out.
One snarker, who is more sarcastic about it.
Someone who laughs at everything.
Someone else who keeps the group grounded and focused on the movie.

Yes, I analyzed it.  That's what I do.  This is the setup our group follows.  Of course, it helps if all the invitees have a good sense of humor.

Of course, this isn't to encourage selective inviting policies.  Any group of friends will have a great time.

Some movies to watch:
A Troll in Central Park
Troll 2 (not related to A Troll in Central Park)
Batman: The Movie
Batman and Robin
Anything by The Asylum (Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, Moby Dick: 2010, Sharktopus)
Frozen
Any really old, low-budget horror film (you can find collections of them really cheap at big box outlets near Halloween)

So... have fun.

--Curly

20 September 2011

SOMETHING COOL #27

Today: Hyperbolic Geometry, and why it is awesome.

So a quick recap on the different kinds of geometry we generally deal with. Euclidean geometry is the kind we all know and love, where, if you have a line and a point outside a line, exactly one line can be drawn through that point that is parallel to that line. Hyperbolic geometry falls into Non-Euclidean geometry, where an infinite number of lines can be drawn through that point such that it is parallel to that line.

Now despite the fact that hyperbolic geometry has existed as mathematical concept for an extremely long time, it's only until recently that mathematicians were able to come up with a tangible model for it. The coral reefs, of all places, are one of several examples of hyperbolic geometry in nature (crochet is another method of recreating hyperbolic geometry).

If the mathematical concept is a little hard to visualize, watch this TED talk on the subject, which has a wealth of information on the subject: Margaret Wertheim on the beautiful math of coral.

--- Aubrey

18 September 2011

SOMETHING COOL #26

In my personal opinion, too many video games have become too formulaic.  So when there's a series of games that has a genuinely fresh formula, it's pretty refreshing.

In this case, I'm referring to the Professor Layton series of games for the Nintendo DS.  Remember all those brainteasers you'd read in puzzle books as a kid (or maybe that was just me)?  Professor Layton tackles them and puzzles much like them.  Like many things, it's better than it sounds.

The clever gameplay is backed up by fun stories and animation.  If you like a challenge, I recommend you check them out.

16 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #25


Why yes, Curly did cut his hair so as to better resemble the second king of Austria. Thank you for noticing. Aubrey is a dolphin of abominations.

14 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #24


Curly saw the signs of impending doom.  Aubrey both is and is not.

SOMETHING COOL #24

Here's a cool show that's massively underappreciated: Stella.  It ran for half a season on Comedy Central back in 2005.

The show was based on straightlaced, deadpan absurdism, The three protagonists, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain (actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves, which is always fun) basically collapsed into ridiculousness at the touch of a feather, including a corrupt election for residence board president or writing a novel.

Anyway, the show got poor ratings and was canceled only 10 episodes in.  If that's not enough of a punch in the gut, it was replaced with... Mind of Mencia.  That show was awful.

There are also Stella shorts floating the internet, but in my mind the show was the best part.

--Curly

12 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #23

Curly lives next door to a mysterious man who leaves gifts for him in the tree in front of his house. Aubrey doesn't always save babies from burning buildings, but when she does, it's glorious.

11 September 2011

SOMETHING COOL #23

Today: It's time for music, with Steve Burns.

Do you remember Blue's Clues? If you're anything like me, then you idolized Steve. I literally wanted to be Steve as a child. That was my life goal in a nutshell. I even had the green striped shirt and everything.  And we all remember when Steve left for "college" to be replaced with his traitorous "brother" Joe (that orange shirt wearing bastard). Well it turns out that, rather than dying, being fired for drug use, or sexually assaulting a young girl (all of which are rumors on the internet), Steve left the show to pursue his musical career.

I know what you're thinking, because I thought it too. I expected his music to suck. I thought it was going to suck hard. So, so hard. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it... wasn't that bad. In fact, it was kinda good.

And so I leave you with Mighty Little Man, courtesy of Steve Burns (Steve was, in fact, his real name), from his album Songs for Dustmites.

09 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #22


Curly knows no bounds.  Aubrey is a professional George Clooney impersonator.

SOMETHING COOL #22

Firefly.

As you know from my praise of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, I'm a fan of Joss Whedon.  He's an inspiration to me personally as an aspiring television writer as he blends art and entertainment.  Though I haven't watched a lot of Buffy, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Firefly is the best representation of Whedon's work.

The plot centers around a ramshackle old spaceship, populated by "the kind of people the Enterprise would just pass by".  Think of it this way: science fiction is cool; westerns are cool; ergo, a well-done science fiction western must be AT LEAST double-cool, and I think you'll find it's quite a bit more.

Sidebar: WHHHYYYYY, WAAAAASH?  WHYYYYY!

Anyway, it had a really short run, but it was followed up by a movie that ties up a lot of the loose ends, and there are comics and supplementary materials galore.  It's a lot higher quality than most TV shows, and a whole lot more entertaining.  You can watch it for free on Hulu.  Check it out.

--Curly.

07 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #21


In Soviet Russia, laugh makes you Curly. Aubrey doesn't always kick babies, but when she does, she wears Converse shoes.

06 September 2011

SOMETHING COOL #21

Today: Questionable Content, a webcomic.

If you like web comics with plot-based humor, then Questionable Content is the way to go. It has a continuous plot line with a cast of likeable and entertaining characters. The comic also employs a somewhat subtler type of hipster humor than the walking stereotypes that haunt most hipster-based comedy (this may be because the comic is much older than the general public has been aware of hipsters, or because the comic's creator is a self-acknowledged indie hipster himself, but I digress). The comic is well worth the few weeks it will take you to get caught up, and is my favorite web comic though it may not be the funniest (though it does have numerable funny moments, making it similar to The Simpsons for me). The plot is just genuinely enjoyable to read, and the art has improved immensely over time. I give it four flying pancakes out of five based on a system I just right now made up.

--- Aubrey

05 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #20


Curly is adept at both magic and swordplay.  Aubrey has level 1 clearance.

SOMETHING COOL #20

Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Everyone has a friend they trust absolutely for advice on one topic or another.  For me, I absolutely trust my anime recommendations from my friend Claire.  Shows like Puella Magi Madoka Magica are the reason why.

Though it starts out like the typical mahou shojo anime (see Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon), it quickly shows that it dares to be so much more.  In its twelve-episode run, it creates a dark and eerie world, sympathetic characters, and a situation so complex that it genuinely challenges you to consider your morals.  Plus, it's got awesome animation and music to boot.

I'm pretty serious about spoilers.  I can't really tell you a lot, since it jumps right into the action.  But trust me.  You'll want to check it out.

--Curly

02 September 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #19

Curly wanted to create an advanced society of sea monkeys, but the Simpsons did it. Aubrey likes to think that the man in this comic is not the true father of those children, making him resent them all the more.

01 September 2011

SOMETHING COOL #19

Today: Hank Green, musician.

Do you enjoy novelty songs? What about science, angler fish, Harry Potter, and similar topics? Then you need to listen to Hank Green. Guitarist, songwriter, and founder of DFTBA Records (a company that helps musicians who are just starting out, especially on youtube) Hank and his music are basically awesome. As well as a purveyor of nerd rock, Hank and his brother John (a young adult fiction novelist) have a youtube channel where they share interesting/entertaining/funny videos (topics have included the Fermi Paradox, the United States debt crisis, and the mating habits of giraffes). The community of people who watch these videos are called Nerdfighters, a group of intellectually minded people who have done a plethora of awesome things (planted thousands of trees in honor of Hank's birthday, calculated whether having a plate of vegetarian spaghetti shipped to and from the moon is more efficient than making a hamburger, and, wait for it, managed to discuss religion civilly ON THE INTERNET).

Hank Songs:
Strange Charm: A Song About Quarks
The Fermi Paradox
It All Makes Sense at the End

Their youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers

--- Aubrey

31 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #18


Curly is his own sovereign nation.  Aubrey can't tell where you're going with this.

SOMETHING COOL #18

The movie Brazil.

Currently Brazil ranks as my second-favorite movie of all time, but my first favorite is already plenty popular, so I don't need to endorse it.  Brazil comes from Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, and it shows.  Essentially it's a funny version of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four; at least, it's funny if you like black comedy.

Sam Laury, a low-level government grunt, is tasked with figuring out some controversy after a small mistake leads to the wrong man being arrested.  As he goes, he finds out just how clogged up and flawed his dystopian government really is.  Starring Jonathan Pryce, Robert DiNiro, Kim Greist, and Michael Palin.

Why haven't you heard of it before?  Well, the film was a big success in Europe, but it flopped completely in the States.  It doesn't get a lot of mention over on this side of the pond.  Still, I strongly recommend you rent it.

Just how good is it?  Well, my dad rented it a few months ago.  Later, since our Blockbuster was going out of business, we decided to buy a copy.  Of course, I was going off to college soon afterward, and we couldn't decide who would keep it.  We had to buy another copy since neither of us wanted to part with it.

In case you were wondering, my favorite movie is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

--Curly

29 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #17


Curly is a bad troll, a very bad troll. Aubrey is not a hipster. That would be too mainstream.

SOMETHING COOL #17

Today: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop is an excellent documentary about the underground world of street art. Directed by secretive street artist Banky, it follows camera-obsessive Thierra Guetta as he follows some of the biggest names in the art form, and, eventually, his own ventures into street art.

It really is a very good documentary. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys art and/or film. It's available to stream on netflix or, if you are lacking the beauty that is Netflix streaming, you can watch it here: http://vimeo.com/17753809

--- Aubrey

The second comic in as many posts making light of the tragedy in Ethiopia.  I suppose I should feel guilty.  So I'll just post this here:

Donate here.  Please donate if you can.  You're using a device that converts a nearly infinite source of information into light that it shoots at you so you can look at funny cats.  There are children who have never had a proper meal.  Okay, I feel less guilty now.

--Curly

26 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #16

Curly give a f*** about the Oxford comma.  Aubrey is bringin' the smackdown tonight.

SOMETHING COOL #16

Matt & Kim.

From humble origins (effectively started because one of their friends needed a band to open for another band), Matt & Kim have been surprisingly successful.  They manage to make surprisingly addicting songs for people with little to no formal musical training.

On top of that, they are famous in the entertainment community for their shows' high energy and fun.

A few songs I recommend checking out: "Good for Great", "Where You're Coming From", "I'll Take Us Home" and "Daylight".

Side note, most of their songs are pretty easy to learn, so they're good if you're just getting started on an instrument.  "Daylight" was the fourth song I learned on accordion.

--Curly

24 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #15

Curly is the product of billions of years of evolution. Aubrey is the last remaining World War I survivor. 

23 August 2011

SOMETHING COOL #15

Today: Stuff You Missed in History Class, a podcast free to download on itunes.

As a history nerd, I love this podcast. Subjects of some recent episodes include the Orsen Welles and the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, other historical hoaxes, the Bayeux Tapestry, False Dmitry, and countless others. The two women who do the podcast also have a blog at howstuffworks.com and a twitter.

--- Aubrey

22 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #14


Curly knows when to hold them, fold them, walk away, run, etc.  Aubrey has a passion for fashion.

SOMETHING COOL #14

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.  It came out around eight years ago, but it's my favorite video game of all time.

Why?  Because of how elegantly it's made.  Not only are the graphics better than just about any GameCube game I've ever seen (and most next-gen games), it has smooth gameplay, genuine challenge, and a great story to back it all up.

The game never took off because it required so much peripheral equipment.  In order to play the game, all you need is the basics.  But if you want to do well on the game, you need a GameBoy Advance and a connector cable (and a DS won't work).  And the game is most fun when played with a group, so that means another GBA and another cable for each player.  Still, if you have three friends and a GameCube or Wii, it's definitely worth the investment.

The game does not have any follow-up.  I say that despite the existence of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, Echoes of Time, My Life as a King, My Life as a Darklord, and The Crystal Bearers.  Those games fundamentally altered the gameplay, turning it into a stereotypical platformer rather than the unique RPG-adventure blend that made the first game great.  Do not buy them; they range from "atrocious" to "middling".

Still, the original game provides many hours of adventuring fun for one to four players (four players is recommended).

19 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #13


Curly is off fulfilling his dream of managing a modest shredded cheese packaging plant in upstate New York. Guns don't kill people, Aubrey kills people.

18 August 2011

SOMETHING COOL #13

Today: The Cardiff Giant, a historical hoax that happens to be one of my favorites, if only for the insane amount of conspiring and planning it took to pull off.

So a tobacco farmer George Hull got into an argument with a Methodist about the plausibility of giants mentioned in the bible (Hull being an atheist). Inspired by the argument, he hired some men to dig out a large quantity of gypsum in Fort Dodge, Iowa (telling them that it was for a monument to Abraham Lincoln). He then later sent it out to another man (who he made swear to absolute secrecy) who carved it into the form of a ten foot tall petrified man. After having invested a few thousand dollars in this hoax, he and his cousin William Newell buried it at Newell's farm. A full year later, Newell hired men to dig in the spot where the "giant" was buried, telling them that he was having a well dug out.

After the giant was found, Newell charged people 25 cents, and then 50 cents, to look at it. He later sold it to David Hannum for $25,000, who in turn was offered $50,000 by P.T. Barnum. However, Hannum refused, prompting P.T. Barnum to create his own plaster giant, which he touted as real, and called Hannum's giant fake. In response to this claim, Hannum is quoted with the ironic statement, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Finally, in 1870, George Hull admitted that the giant was fake, though that did little to stop the petrified man/giant craze sweeping sideshows throughout the United States.

--- Aubrey

17 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #12

Curly is legally obligated to notify you that he is a registered zombie hunter. Aubrey was the one on the grassy knoll.

16 August 2011

SOMETHING COOL #12

Today: I come bringing a recipe for those of us who routinely have to cook for themselves, yet rarely escalate above the level of microwaving a frozen dinner. Don't be afraid... this has been specially prepared for the kitchen illiterate.

Cheestacular Quesadilla

Ingredients:
Tortillas: Either 1 big, white kind or 2 of the little white kinds (can be bought at 99 cent store). The yellow kind don''t work so well for these things.
Cheese: pretty much any kind of shredded cheese will do. Ralph's sells an enormous bag of it for pretty cheap.
Butter: Other recipes will tell you this is "optional." WELL THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL. The butter is what allows for the fine browning of the tortilla, allowing your taste buds to go on a delicious flavor adventure with every bite. Butter substitutes, like marjorine, are acceptable, so long as they are spreadable.

Things You Will Need 

A stove (or hotplate, if you're living in a dorm or are otherwise bereft of a stove).
A pan of some kind (these can be purchased at the 99 cent store as well).

Directions:


1. Start the stove. It doesn't really matter what heat you set it to, so long as it's not a teeny tiny barely-gives-enough-heat-to-warm-a-caterpillar flame or a "SWEET JESUS THERE IS A DRAGON IN THE BURNER!" flame. (Now would be a good time to turn on any fans near the kitchen if you have a sensitive fire alarm).
2. Butter one side of the tortilla (if you're using one) or one side of one tortilla (if you're doing two). Place it butter side down in the pan.
3. Layer that sucker with cheese. I have yet to have used an amount of cheese I would consider "too much," so don't be shy.
4. Wait until the cheese has melted enough to not fall off the tortilla when you have to flip it (Now would be an appropriate time to add salsa, avocado, etc. if you like that sort of thing in your quesadilla).
5. Either fold over the single large tortilla (a spatula would be good for this, though I've used my hands with little repercussions) or add another small buttered tortilla, this time with the butter facing you.
6. Flip that sweet delicious being over (once again, hands will do for the braver of quasi-chefs, though a spatula or at least a knife is ideal).
7. Continue to cook until you're too hungry to care if it's underdone.
8. Bite into it the moment you slide it off the pan, not caring if it burns your tongue, and relish in its sweet, sweet deliciousness.

There you have it.

---- Aubrey











15 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #11


Curly's album just dropped.  Aubrey is not the real Slim Shady, for that would be ridiculous.

SOMETHING COOL #11

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Actually, I accidentally ripped SMBC off when I made this comic.  But I had already made the sketch, and I was like, "whatever".

SMBC loves to make jokes about math, science, religion, philosophy, and penises.  Interestingly, Zach Weiner, who writes, draws, and publishes the comics is actually paying his way through college with it.  So unless you hate America and the future, go visit his site.

Here's the one I ripped off: Unicorns.  See my shame.

--Curly

12 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #10


Curly is the last son of Krypton.  Aubrey don't need no stinkin' badges.

SOMETHING COOL #10

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I consider myself a connoisseur of cinema.  I intend to pursue a career in film and television (albeit more on the writing side of things), but I have still studied many of the important aspects of framing and composition.  And let me tell you: this show gets it right.  On top of that, it's cleverly written and genuinely entertaining on many levels.

What I think may be the most important factor is that I'm outside the target fanbase.  Nothing destroys a show faster than trying to please its fans.  So since it's not trying to do that, the bronies can look forward to many seasons of pleasure.

Interestingly, I'm currently engaged in a debate with a friend who refuses to watch it yet continues to criticize it based entirely on speculation.  In the length of time we've been having this rather one-sided debate (I say one-sided as he has yet to provide a piece of logically-cogent information), three more friends of mine have started watching it and enjoyed it.

You can see some more of my thoughts here: My Deviant Art page

--Curly

10 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #9


Curly can totally do a backflip.  Aubrey fought the law and won triumphantly.

SOMETHING COOL #9

Y'know what's kind of cool?  Cyanide and Happiness.

One of my all-time favorite webcomics, as well as where we got the idea for sharing cool stuff (although they mostly do it for other webcomics).  Anyway, thanks to their low-quality drawing and multiple authors, they get to update daily, and have a library of about 2500 comics so far.

A clever blend of childishness and dark humor (not to mention Depressing Comic Week) keep this webcomic entertaining.  Visit it at explosm.net.

08 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #8


Curly is unavailable at the moment, please leave a message. Aubrey's life ambition is to own an ostrich farm.

By the way, EVERY WEBCOMIC EVER: let us do guest comics!  E-mail us at shinyobjectsvideos@gmail.com.

07 August 2011

SOMETHING COOL #8

Today's Something Cool: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Book and film).


Book: The product of Ken Kesey's acid-fueled hallucinations whilst working on a mental ward, this novel deals heavily with the concept of flawed perceptions as well as with the definition of insanity. Ken Kesey's diction allows the novel to be both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. I recommend it highly.



Film: Directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson as the pseudo-protagonist Randle McMurphy, the film is an excellent adaptation of the novel. Though, in my opinion, the novel is superior to the film, that's not to say that the film isn't absolutely wonderful in its own right.
 

--- Aubrey

05 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #7


Curly is a naturally-occurring source of cold fusion.  Aubrey doesn't have time for your silly mind games, Joker.

SOMETHING COOL #7

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

I'm under the impression that shortly after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon wronged a gypsy or something and has since been cursed so that everything cool he makes is cut tragically short.  But being Joss Whedon, he made the most of it by creating a three-part series called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

A brilliant subversion and analysis of the classic hero-villain archetypal story, Dr. Horrible provides a wonderful message with great cinematography and some really catchy tunes.  If you haven't seen it yet, I urge you to do so now.

--Curly

03 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #6


Curl once ate curly fries and was accused of cannibalism. Aubrey pours the milk before she pours the cereal and it works out just fine.

02 August 2011

SOMETHING COOL #6

Today: Brave New World, a novel by Aldous Huxley.

If you're even slightly into dystopian fiction you will enjoy this novel. It borrows it's title, as well as many thematic elements, from Shakespeare's The Tempest. I won't give away the plot, but I strongly advise anyone and everyone to read it. It's, in my opinion, better than Orwell's 1984 (and I thoroughly enjoyed 1984). Anyway, I'm rambling, go read the book. Now.

Do you not have legs/are too lazy to go to the damn bookstore to read this beautiful piece of literature? Well it's your lucky day! Click on this link to read it online!

--Aubrey

01 August 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #5


Curly killed the radio star. Aubrey can eat just one Lay's potato chip.

SOMETHING COOL #5

Something cool: History, part 1 of infinity.

Probably the most important person you've never heard of: Mansa Musa.  This king of Mali in the 14th century is responsible for every modern innovation since the Renaissance.  How?

In 1324, Mansa Musa travelled to Egypt, carrying loads and loads of gold, 'cause, you know, everyone loves gold.  He intended to trade his gold for the riches of Egypt.  Problem is, he didn't know the exchange rate.  So Egyptian merchants gouged his entire caravan for all it was worth.  As a result, Egypt actually ended up with too much gold.  Their economy became bloated and overinflated.

Europeans, doing what Europeans do, decided to take advantage of this.  Several powerful Italian families took advantage of the lowered price of gold to get tons of it for cheap.  And these families included the later-famous de Medicis, da Vincis, di Lodovicos, etc.  And once they were rich, the Renaissance began.

So, yeah.  History is pretty cool.

On an unrelated note, if you're ever in Mexico, grab a couple of sodas.  They use cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup like they do in America, so it's actually higher quality.

29 July 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #4


Curly is patenting his method of giving sentience to pasta products. Aubrey recently broke off her relationship with the ghost of Oscar Wilde.

28 July 2011

SOMETHING COOL #4

Today: Pink Floyd

My personal favorite band of all time, many people fail to realize the sheer variety of genres that Pink Floyd encompass. No matter your musical tastes, you'll probably enjoy some era of the Floyd.

But I'll let the music speak for itself. Here is a brief sampling of their amazing discography:
Arnold Layne
Echoes (My Personal Favorite Song)
Brain Damage/Eclipse
Wish You Were Here
Comfortably Numb (from my favorite album, The Wall)
High Hopes (an absolutely surreal music video)




Enjoy.

--- Aubrey

27 July 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #3


Curly has maximized his Attack stat.  Aubrey has the power to communicate with marine life.

26 July 2011

SOMETHING COOL #3

Today: Ctrl-Alt-Del.

A webcomic written and drawn by Tim Buckley.  It's the first webcomic I started reading, and still the first one I check whenever I go online.

www.cad-comic.com

Unlike a lot of webcomics, CAD manages to strike that balance between "funny" and "long-running storyline".  Very few media can make you laugh at the beginning of a pregnancy storyline.

--Curly

24 July 2011

NO BLACK PLUME #2


Curly is currently struggling with a dihydrogen monoxide addiction (doctors tell him the withdrawal would be deadly). Aubrey just took second place in an underachiever's competition.

SOMETHING COOL #2

The Something Cool for this post: Thomas Paine. Oh, you haven't heard of Thomas Paine? Well, let me tell you about Thomas Paine.

He was born in England (1737), where he had to quit school at age 13 to be an apprentice to his father. He later started a business that collapsed, leaving him in financial ruin. After that, both his wife and her unborn child died in childbirth. Instead of giving up on life, he decided to move to the American colonies and spark a revolution, because he's MOTHERF@*#ING THOMAS PAINE. After almost dying on the voyage, he wrote Common Sense, a pamphlet that became the bestselling book in the colonies and is often credited with inciting the colonies to revolt against Great Britain. He also wrote the Crisis papers, which motivated the revolutionary army in times of peril. After this success in America, he decided to go get involved in the French revolution, because he's MOTHERF@*#ING THOMAS PAINE, where he wrote another pamphlet (The Rights of Man). As the revolution became bloodier, however, he began to protest the multiple beheadings, including that of King Louis XVI. He was subsequently thrown in French jail for treason. Assuming he was going to be executed, he wrote The Age of Reason, a critique of organized religion. He ended up being released, though he met more financial ruin in England (He didn't get any money from the sale of Common Sense) and, when he tried to move back to America, he was alienated because he had supported the French revolution. He died alone, and no Christian church would take his body for burial. His bones were later dug up and lost.

So that's Thomas Paine, one of the most inspirational founding fathers with one of the saddest personal histories ever.

More information on Thomas Paine (including all of his pamphlets): http://www.ushistory.org/paine.

--- Aubrey

22 July 2011

SOMETHING COOL #1

This posts's Something Cool: They Might Be Giants.  This band constitutes slightly less than one-fourth of the songs on my iPod by themselves.  And of course, remaining consistently popular for 28 years is pretty awesome by itself.

Here are a few songs:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jn9vwh2V10
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhjSzjoU7OQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsDWl3xDMOU&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CccPPDe2JU

And you can buy their new album, Join Us, on iTunes or Amazon.

--Curly

NO BLACK PLUME #1


And the first No Black Plume is published!

Curly doesn't need no stinkin' badges.  Aubrey is a graduate of Total Good-time Real Online University Online Accredited.