09 February 2011

These people are clever. You should therefore assume that I am too.

This was originally posted a couple years ago. I went through and adjusted the links as needed. I'll do a follow up in the near future that includes some more sites that I've come across since this was posted.

So the first blag probably didn't keep your interest all that much, with all the "blahblahblah Star Wars blahblahblah anuses blahblahblah." So now it's time to hopefully pull some people in by demonstrating how awesome of a person I am by showing you a bunch of people much funnier and more interesting than me. Sounds like a plan! Here are some of my favorite places around the interwebs (minus the more mundane ones like the several videogaming websites I check regularly and such, and hopefully without the ones that are too old of news), starting with the webcomics that I follow:

  • White Ninja Comics - WN may not fit everyone's tastes, since it tends to rely on just being entirely absurd. It's a three or six panel comic, and while certainly not academic, I still think it's quite clever now and then. Simple drawings, simple jokes; it appeals to the part of me that wishes I could just ditch the filter and go around blurting whatever crazy things pop into my head. It's updated MWF.
  • SMBC - This one involves a bit more thinking. It's (usually) a one panel comic that (usually) relies on setting you up think one thing within the frame, and then BLAM! turning it all around in the caption. It's recently been experimenting more with the long-form, though. From what I've gathered of him from his comic, the author Zach Weiner is red-headed, Jewish, into physics and the other sciences, a critic of religion, and will take any excuse to draw himself naked. He has a lot of great commentary on science, religion, and myriad other geeky issues. Be sure to hold your mouse over the red circle below the comic if it's there, since that will reveal the "votey" (I don't know why it's called that), which is usually a little bonus sketch, sometimes an alternate joke, sometimes a continuation, and sometimes just a naked Zach. Trust me, it's worth the risk. :P It is updated almost every day.
  • xkcd - This is the place from which I borrowed the term "blag." What's the difference between a blog and a blag, you ask? Primarily the letter "a," and the fact that you don't have to use the word "blog." xkcd is often similar in content to SMBC, but much different in style. The format varies greatly from comic to comic, but usually stars simple stick figures. The author, Randall Munroe, who lives in Massachusetts, will also sometimes include a very nice pencil sketch smack in the middle of an otherwise simple stick comic. Munroe worked for NASA, and is crazy into math and computer programming. Some of his math and programming jokes go over my head, but I think most of them are accessible enough to we non-NASA-people, and that's definitely not all he does. He'll also often use his comics to comment on things like life and love, and then occassionally throw in some nice brutal violence ("asolarplexussayswhat?"). He's also deathly afraid of velociraptors, a valid concern if you ask me. Be sure to hover your mouse over the comic after you've read it, since the alt text has a bonus comment/joke. This is also updated MWF.
  • Dinosaur Comics - This is my absolute favorite webcomic. If you're looking through it for the first time, yes, it's working fine, the picture is supposed to be exactly the same every day, and that's the beauty of Dinosaur Comics. With each comic, the author, Ryan North, a Canadian, fits his jokes within the bounds of the exact same six panels. Sometimes simple jokes, sometimes in-depth (but no less hilarious) discussions of topics in science or philosophy, he always makes it work, and after a while, you won't even notice it's the same picture every time. Some of my favorite recurring characters are God (bold all-caps text from above), the Devil (red all-caps text from below), and T-Rex's incredibly creepy racoon and octopus neighbors (italic text from the right). North deals with a huge range of subjects, from philosphy, to science, to religion, to literature, to linguistics, to growing up and human relationships. I always find it hilarious. And don't forget to hold your mouse over the comic for an alt text joke, and also to click the "Comments" link above the comic for a joke in the subject line of the email window. It is updated every weekday.

That does if for my webcomics, and so now we'll move on the rest of the websites and content that I love:

  • Cracked - Cracked was originally a magazine that was pretty much a blatant ripoff of MAD, but they've since abandoned print content to focus on their website, and it appeals to my humor much more than MAD ever did. Cracked has several full-time columnists and many guest ones, and usually has two or three updates a day. Content is mostly articles, often presented in the format of a list ("The # blankiest blanks"), and they often teach you something in the process as well. They also have a twice-weekly photoshop contest that usually yields some awesome results.
  • Newgrounds - A lot of you probably already know about Newgrounds, since it's a pretty popular one that generates and collects Flash animations and games. A bunch of different Flash artists and browser game programmers congregate at Newgrounds to show off their stuff, and while most people go there for the humorous flashes, they have content to suit all tastes. My highest recommendation is for the Brackenwood collection, which is wonderful series of flash animations about the inhabitants of a magical forest planet called Brackenwood. They're created and animated by a former Disney animator who has pretty much set the standards for Flash animation, and the series of shorts is apparently a lead in for what he hopes will turn into a full TV show.
  • ThinkGeek - An online store catering specifically to geeks. It has mounds of books, t-shirts, collectibles, toys, computer accessories, and other gadgets that could keep a geek happy forever, and the humor and practicality of many of the items definitely crossover to appeal to mainstream folks. They also have an unholy variety of foods infused with caffeine. They've got everything from a spork made out of titanium to Albert Einstein action figures, NERF guns, robots, miniature catapults, and a t-shirt that plays a soundtrack for you as you go throughout your day.
  • Strange Maps - This one definitely won't appeal to everyone, but I figured I'd put it here anyway. I'm a fan of maps (can't explain it, just am), and so I find this blog quite interesting, as it showcases unusual and interesting maps gathered from all over the place, and I think it offers some unique glimpses into history and society. The blog's author usually includes some commentary, and if you venture into the comments you'll find that they're always willing to quickly (and harshly) point out any mistakes he's made.
  • Waverly Films - This is a group of independent filmmakers in Brooklyn who have done work in commercials and music videos, but are perhaps best-loved for the shorts they upload to YouTube. They've got mounds of stuff, they add new videos every once in a while, and it's always hilarious. I highly recommend "Cowboy Sandstorm" and "Wanna Buy a Ghost?" Go ahead and look through their stuff and make sure you subscribe to them if you have a YouTube account.
  • Zero Punctuation - This is a weekly review of videogames from a fast-talking Brit who currently resides in Australia. As the name suggests, he speaks at blistering speed, and is oftentimes hard to keep up with, especially when you're also trying to watch the corresponding simple-but-hilarious animations. He offers his honest opinion about games, and since he doesn't work for a major game site or magazine, who depend on advertizing cash from game makers, he can brutally point out all the faults he finds with games, and believe me, they are many. He doesn't give a numerical score, but that's a good thing, and you know damn well what he thinks about a game after listening to him anyway. He updates on Wednesdays.
  • Nemo Ramjet/Snaiad - Unfortunately the main page of his website doesn't seem to be working [sadly not even the Snaiad page is working these days, but here's a summary of the world and here are some of the images from the original site]. Snaiad is a fictional planet created by a Turkish artist who goes by the pseudonym Nemo Ramjet. Nemo is big into art and biology, especially speculative evolution, if Snaiad is any indication. If you're not familiar, speculative evolution is when you use biological knowledge of the process of evolution, and generate hypothetical results of a certain species' evolution. What Nemo has done is create his own planet (Snaiad) and invented myriad lifeforms that evolved there, explaining their anatomy, physiology, and lineages. Right off the bat you'll notice they have a different body plan than Earth's vertebrates (they have two "heads," one of which houses the genitalia and is often modified for use in feeding or fighting and sits where an Earthling would expect a head to be, and a second head that is devoted solely to eating protruding from their chests (there are of course many exceptions, but that's the basic plan). Yes, they look a bit phallic, and yes, the whole concept is a little weird at first, but the world that Nemo has created is amazingly detailed and interesting, and his artwork is beautiful. It's a work in progress, and updates understandably come a bit sporadically.

So those are most of my favorite places from around the web, but I'll also include a few short entries for more self-explanatory or familiar websites:

  • PostSecret - A good number of you probably already know about this, but I figure it can't hurt to post it just in case. It's a blog where people send in a secret they've never told anyone before written on a postcard so that it can posted on the internet. Often funny, sad, and inspiring; you should give it a look if you haven't. It's updated on Sundays.
  • metacritic - An aggregation of all the various review outlets for movies, music, books, and videogames, with a nice, simple numeric output. I much prefer it to Rotten Tomatoes, since it's not "rotten or fresh," just a simple average, plus the links to the original reviews.
  • Free Rice - A multiple-choice, progressing word challenge that lets you do good for the world's hungry while showing off.
  • BoardGameGeek - Everything you ever wanted to know about board games.
  • iSketch - Online Pictionary! (Don't worry about entering a password, just enter a username.)

So that's finally it. All the places on the internet that I visit that I feel are worth mentioning. Hopefully I've introduced you to some interesting stuff you didn't realize was out there, and maybe now you'll think that I'm interesting by association. :P I'll be posting another one soon, with some more original content, I promise.

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