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THE GOGGLES! THEY DO NOTHING!

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So. We're getting ready to leave Panera, and Weds just found (from various livejournals) the Add "Yiff" to the Oxford English Dictionary Petition.

I now know this exists.

My intention is to drive Weds and I smack into a concrete divider, ending our pain as cleanly as possible. Remember, everyone -- I always liked you. Be good to each other.

EDIT FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE on 22-June: I should make something clear, because it was pointed out that this post didn't (and no, I haven't changed anything in the above post. I'm just putting this clarification below it).

Weds and I didn't have to die a horrible automotive death yesterday because of the furry community. Or even because some furries have a sexual element to what they enjoy.

However, I actually have access to the online OED where I work. And I was able to confirm something I suspected in it.

The definition of furry in the OED does not contain any reference to the furry community.

Is this a bad thing? Probably it actually is. Furries exist. They're out there. And there is increasing reference to them -- references that could really use definition.

This petition is not about achieving recognition of the furry community. It is about achieving recognition of the specific sexual term in the community. (A term which is meaningless in a dictionary without the capacity to look "furry" up, I would add, since most of the definitions offered require the phrase "within the furry community" or some variation to make sense.)

That right there? That's creepy. You want your community to be recognized, whatever it is? Great. You want your community's sexual practices to be recognized? Ew, but whatever. You want your community's sexual practices to be recognized before seeking recognition for the community itself?

The goggles? They do nothing.

This is not a review. Nor is it a critique. This is a rant. A full on, undisguised, "God damn it all" rant. You want to see me be unreservedly and unfairly negative on a subject without even acknowledging the other side of the story? You got it!

And what is the target of my ire? What has earned so great a share of my anger? What has me so utterly cheesed off that I'm willing to go into it with the words "Fuck" and "you!" together before I even explain why?

Apple Pages.

That's right. I'm pissed as hell... at a crappy Word Processor.

My God I'm a geek.

Apple Pages is part of iWork (alongside Keynote), and it seemed like it was the long awaited successor to Appleworks, which was Clarisworks for a long time (largely because they didn't want to confuse fans of Appleworks, the Apple II's all purpose office suite of software. Though that original Appleworks wasn't as good as the old Apple Writer II. Damn, but I loved that program. But I digress.) Appleworks hasn't seen any new versions in quite some time. After Keynote came out, however, the rumor came up that Apple was finally taking on Microsoft in the one area Microsoft dominates on the Macintosh -- office productivity software.

Note, I'm not saying Microsoft Office is the best software on a Mac, or even the best office software. I'm just saying it's the dominant software.

Anyway, Pages looked like the long awaited second stage of Apple taking its platform back. Keynote is a gorgeous piece of software -- easily as capable, more fun and prettier than Powerpoint -- but it's presentation software. I mean, who cares? Word processing, on the other hand... that's something everyone needs to do. And unless you're the kind of person who knows from all this and vastly prefers to work in the most stripped down text editor possible, you want your word processor to be mature without bloat.

Microsoft Word has bloat. A lot of it. Superfluous features no human needs. "Helpful" systems that inhibit your productivity. A "Mac" that looks more like a Banana Junior offering to help you format a letter.

Yes. We have something even sillier than Clippy. But again, I digress.

The thought was Apple would produce a Word Processor without bloat -- that would take advantage of Apple's rendering engines to be pretty to work with, and clean enough to not get in the way of your composing your documents. And, of course, it would be a triumph of User Interface. Apple's User Interface engineering's really what made them famous, after all.

Though, it's worth noting they've been forgetting that over time.

I got a copy of iWork so I could help evaluate it for the school. Yes, we paid for it. And I loaded it on and have spent the last couple of weeks doing all my non-Websnark writing in it (Websnark I write directly in an MT window. Font tags and all.)

These are two weeks I won't get back. No matter how desperately I want to. As God is my witness, this program sucks.

First off. It's not a word processor. Oh, it claims to be. It says "Word Processor" on the back of the package. It says "word processor" on the website. It sounds for all the world like they want you to... oh, I don't know... process words with this piece of shit. It's only when you actually look at the ad copy more closely that you begin to see the problem:

The word processor with incredible sense of style.

The easiest way to look good on paper, Pages lets you create documents that look like you had a design team working round the clock. But, no, itĚs just you, taking advantage of a new word processor with great style, an easy-to-use powerhouse that gives you all the tools you need to create superb-looking documents.

All that, it's worth noting, is true. Pages is optimized to help you create superb-looking documents. It comes packaged with a ton of templates designed to lay out graphics and columns and shit oh so easily.

What this program sucks like a thousand vacuums set on "too fucking high for safe cleaning of homes" at doing is the creation of content. It is wholly oriented to presentation.

I'm a writer. I write. Sometimes I get paid for it. The words I put down matter to me. And I like to have the tools at hand to simply create and convey them. I have no more interest in setting them into ad copy layouts than I do putting them into a plastic binder. I want my word processor to stay out of my way until I get stuck, and then help me jolt my brain into being unstuck. Most of all, I want the word processor to be as intuitive as humanly possible. To just do what I need it to do, in ways that require a minimum of thought and a minimum of fuss, while giving me the feedback I need to keep track of what I'm doing.

Impossible, you think? Well, here's a short list of Word Processors that have managed to do this, to the point that deciding between them is usually left to whim, technology (I can't easily use Wordperfect for Mac, for example, due to its Classic-only implementation) editorial fiat, or some other intangible:

Mariner Write. Nisus Writer. AbiWord. Openoffice.org. WordPerfect for Mac. WriteNow. WordPerfect for Windows (any version), Wordperfect for Linux. WordPerfect for DOS 4.2 through 6.0+ inclusive. Appleworks (Mac version). Mellel. Steveperfect. And yes, Microsoft Word. Many versions. (Though none of them were ever as good as Microsoft Word 5.1 for Mac, which has to be the best Microsoft product ever.)

So, please don't assume I'm overly picky. I have used every last of the above programs cheerfully, and found they've provided the feedback I needed and the features I used, and (mostly) either got out of my way or let me turn off the features I didn't like. I might not be easy to incredibly impress, since I have so many choices, but I'm not that hard to please.

And then we have Pages.

Fucking Pages.

First off, it has incredibly dense controls for document appearance. Ways of setting not just the margins and the columns but the word spacing, the character spacing, the kerning, the ligatures. Templates aplenty. Powerful style selection features. I was actually impressed when I first booted it up.

And then I decided to change the font I was working in. No offense, but I don't like to write in helvetica. I prefer a serif font for composing. It's a little easier on my eyes.

Why I'd think that would offend you is beyond me.

Anyway, this is when I discovered it had no integrated font controls.

This stunned me. So I opened up its inspector. And the inspector had kerning controls and media controls for graphics or music files or movies and list controls and tab controls and... and....

And no font controls. No list of what the font is. Or the font size is. To get that, you have to open the font control panel. The font control panel which is the same OS X default cocoa font control panel used in things like Textedit. The font control panel designed by a retarded vole who only really wanted to use one font and felt everyone else should do the same.

This stunned me. I mean... this was font choice. I was used to word processing programs giving me multiple routes to go about doing this -- a window in the toolbar listing it. Something in the "inspector." A font menu item that would list all the fonts in alphabetical order. The idea that there was only one place for it stunned me. It was cumbersome

Fine. I decided to change the default document font. I might as well not have to go through this very often, right?

Only... there's no way to do that.

Let me say that again, with italics to properly describe my shock: there is no way to change the default document font.

You see, Pages does everything with styles. And styles are set up in your template. Period. If you want to change the font you work with, you need to change those styles, save them into a new template, and set up your program to open that template by default instead of "blank template."

Here's the thing, though. If you decide to do that... you have to change all the styles. Before you start typing, I would add, because you don't want your content to actually get saved into your template. You can't just change the body style and be done with it. If you do that, when you do a list, your list will draw off of list template and boom -- helvetica. And while you're at it, you should turn off all the crappy things Apple turns on by default in their 'blank' template. Like the extra 12 point space after paragraphs which most people who write online don't use because they need to do two hard returns to make it look right. Or hyphenation. They have fucking hyphenation turned on by default.

So. You spend a good long time creating a template that just gives you a nice, simple, basic sheet of paper, doesn't add in shit you don't want it to add in, working in the font you want to work in. At last, you begin typing. And one of the words you're typing for one of your projects is 'perception,' but you realize it's not exactly the word you want to use. So you decide to hit the old thesaurus.

Only there's no thesaurus.

They have a convenient slidebar for adjusting the spacing between letters but they don't have a thesaurus.

Fine. You open up fucking Dictionary.com and select the fucking thesaurus function and find another word that means fucking perception and you move on and you decide to right justify the next line, so you hit command-r....

And nothing happens.

So you try command-shift-r. Still no go.

So you look it up. And discover that the fucking alignment tools -- which have been command or command shift L, R and C since the beginning of fucking time on the Macintosh -- are now Command-{, Command-}, and Command-|.

Command-|.

If you want to center something, you have to press command, shift, and the straight line key.

It gets even better. Font size has been controlled by hitting either command or command-shift and the greater-than or less-than keys in every program where font has been an issue since Mac OS 2 at least. But not Pages. Oh no! Those are zoom keys. And the zoom keys in those programs -- Command Plus and Command Minus? Those are the font size changers. In other words, they reversed the function of those keys compared to every other program on the market for no reason at all.

And it hit me. This software program breaks the cardinal rule of the Macintosh. This software program actually breaks the single greatest innovation the Macintosh brought to software of any kind. Through all evolutions of the Macintosh Operating System, every program works basically the same way. The same keystrokes do the same thing in every package. The same menu items do the same thing. There is unity. There was a day when you could excitedly tell a DOS or even Windows user "hey, it's a Mac -- all the software works the same way. You know how to use one program, you can use any program."

Pages requires me to learn how to run Pages. It gives me pseudo page layout capabilities (not as effectively as Microsoft Publisher did in 1995, I would add -- and Publisher sucked) but lacks basic tools for writing. It makes me work for the feedback I want and it interrupts my train of thought so I can remember how to center. It's a pretty program, and I admit that it saves files about half the size of Word's files (though it's worth noting that I don't care as much in these days of 120 GB hard drives -- a 300 kb file or a 144 kb file makes little difference to me), but that's not enough.

Oh, and it reads and saves Word files. But then, I have Abiword. And Openoffice.org. And Mellel. And Microsoft Word. So opening and saving Word files really doesn't impress me.

Oh, and it saves HTML files.

I swear to Christ, it renders HTML code that's worse than Word's.

And that's the total crime of this software. Not only does it break all the rules... not only does it lack things any Word Processor should have while loading it down with layout options that prepress professionals would rarely use... but it literally makes you compare it to Microsoft Word the whole time, and Word comes out ahead in essentially every category.

The Word-killer? This piece of shit software is the best advertising Microsoft Word has had in years.

I've evaluated it. I'm done. I'm going back to Mellel for my own projects and -- for those times when Word compatibility is completely required -- I'm going back to Word. If I want something clean and simple? I'll use BBEdit or Textedit. Or fucking Emacs. If I need something Word Processed, I'll use a program designed to create content, not stock flyers.

Someone call me when Apple decides to release a word processor.

Okay, see, the thing is? It's so happened before. Probably within your memories, and almost certainly within your lifetimes. The world didn't end last time, nor was the character diminished. And it definitely didn't screw with how we understood the character, so it's not like future generations are going to get screwed over so much by the retcon, either. It might even help.

Do you understand? Do you hear what I'm saying? See this psycho Fairuza Balk face?

This is not the first time Cookie Monster's been driven to promote balanced eating. Not by a long shot:

Me promise that when you eat varied menu,
You get more out of every meal.
You need balanced diet,
Come on and try it!
"Healthy Food" went into rotation in 1987, folks. (Warning: clips from this and other songs from Sesame Road may contain explicit lyrics.)

Yeah, I know. It's mindnumbingly pedestrian and obvious. It flies in the face of Cookie's basic id nature. Cookie's supposed to be the ultimate in monofocus, right? Writes to Santa and eats the pencil? Types at Santa and eats the ribbon, then the typewriter? Phones Santa, eats the phone, and pulls off a miracle in then-contemporary telecommunications? (Yeah, I know. I hate that it's out of TV circulation myself. Douglas fir give me heartburn, too. It's on DVD.)

Hey, we're getting off light. Sesame Street has a precedent for dropping characters perceived to be harmful in some fashion, okay? Roosevelt Franklin "was abandoned because he was thought by some to be a negative cultural stereotype and because the schoolroom in which he spent most of his time was considered to be a bad example." Don Music got "complaints about his alarming tendencies toward self-punishment. Apparently, kids were imitating his head-banging tendencies at home." (It'd take some hunting through 1998's Sesame Street Unpaved, the CTW-issued puff book cited above, to confirm it, but certain live-action segments went by the wayside for similar reasons over the years. Cake pratfalls down stairs? Dude.)

If you're gonna get upset about the American version of Sesame Street this week? Okay, there are plenty of reasons to get upset over Sesame Street. The way Mr. Hooper was an Event, but David just kinda vanished, say. Elmo's just bloody obvious. The scaling back of the show's target market's also bloody obvious; it sucks that they have to dumb down the one show which never assumed we were freakin' morons. In fact, Elmo's focus-stealing stems from that. And so do the other cardboard "characters" which began to populate the show. Baby Bear. The mindnumbingly heavy focus on Telly, who was at least suitably neurotic back in the day. Did you see how they mishandled Grover and his friends in that one direct-to-video special a little while back? Appalling. Fuckin' Rosita de la Great Big Hug thing. Plaza S»samo's awesome, but this? Fuckin' Rosita? So not. (And, hell, I'll just go with you on any of the generic, bland monsters from about 1991 onwards. The real character development on monsters seems to be going on over with the international markets. The ones which don't just dub Big Bird and Elmo, anyways.) A little character depth? A little nuance and unforced charm? In the ten games we've played, she's only beaten me twice? Hello? Yeah. Yeah, see, no issue there. None at all.

And Noggin dropping those fantastic, grainy, perfectly bumpered late-night reruns from a few years back? Yeah, I'm with you every step of the way here (and if you taped 'em? My family wants a giant gushing word with you). That? That was for us. And it's not like Sesame Workshop don't know from the market here; we're getting Roosevelt Franklin figures from Palisades, after all.

(Look, my people got Sesame Park, okay? I have no bloody sympathy. Canadians can't deal with the grim urban reality of the Sesame Street ghetto, they told us. Yeah. Because, you know, couple generations of kids didn't do just fine with having the Spanish segments replaced with French ones, or just watching cable (MPBN, represent, yo) and being able to tell you what on earth a salida was. Fuckin' inane Francophone beaver. Fucking beaver. Beaver, bear and biplane. Grim rural reality. I want me some North of 60 or Due South? I will watch me some of that. No sympathy at all. No.

None.

It got cancelled, by the way. But I digress.)

Look, he's still going to be Cookie Monster. It's like how, when Cartoon Network picks up a show to run on Toonami or Adult Swim, the original Japanese materials don't just somehow vanish from existence. They'd pretty much have to stomp this character, or purge him, to eliminate his basic appeal. And, in a few years, when the current wave of perceived urgency settles down a little, we'll probably see him go nuts again. And there's way, way, way too much stuff in circulation now to remind us of what was.

Frank Oz doesn't even perform him anymore, now, anyways. Likewise poor Grover.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go put more butter on my ham, demand the establishment of a delicious buffet, and fail to be harmed by the puny weapons of the lametastic alien fleet. Oh, wait.

[w] Takeover: The Final Chapter.

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1 April 2005: I told you I would fix him.

Coming soon: Takeover: Wednesday Goes to Manhattan, Takeover X, and Sonata vs. Wednesday.

I'm in a bad mood. The day job's conspiring to put me in a bad mood and Apple's "Pages" application has proven to be... well, let's just call it a disappointment, because someone would probably be upset if I called it a "misbegotten piece of shit that fails to meet the standard of Appleworks 5.0, much less modern Word Processors of any stripe." No way to change fonts except in a font panel that isn't even a part of the inspector my ASS... Jesus, this thing's better optimized to change the Kerning than the Font size, and who in God's name are they targeting this to? WHY IS THERE A DELAY IN TYPING? IT'S GOD DAMNED TIMES NEW ROMAN 12 POINT! THERE SHOULD BE NO RENDERING DELAY, YOU FUCKTARDS!

But I digress.

Needless to say, I'm in the perfect mood to discuss Alberto.

Let me say up front I'm not going to address the subject matter directly. That's Wednesday's bag, and she holds it well. I'm not going to discuss whether or not Alberto really was an officer of the Inquisition working for the Black Pope within Vatican City sent forth to destroy Protestant churches from within working alongside Catholic girls who use sex as a weapon to get time off in Purgatory. I don't have primary sources to work from, and Hell -- in a world where Kelly Clarkson still has a career, I'm willing to accept almost anything as being possible. If you're curious, go and read the thing. It's free. And it just might make you think.

If, that is, you can get past the execution. See, the execution? That's my bag.

Let's start with the art. I don't normally criticize art, but then I don't normally snark stuff that's been in continuous print as a comic book since 1979 and translated into multiple languages, either, so I feel it's probably acceptable, this time.

Which is more than I can say for this art. I can actually groove on the art in a number of Chick tracts, so it's not the material per se. In fact, Fred Carter (the artist in question) did some excellent work in several. Wed's posts on the subject highlights that. Here, though, Carter goes a bit nuts -- perhaps it's the inclusion of color. I don't know. The faces and poses of the figures range from the stiff to the grotesque, with linework that's heavy and distracting. A tremendous amount of work goes into each panel's background -- attempting to demonstrate a sense of accuracy. "We know what we're talking about." it seems to say. "Look at how carefully we show the costuming and office accouterments of a Catholic Priest." The problem is, it overwhelms the foreground -- especially since the figures look like statues with exaggerated expressions carved into them.

That's relatively minor, however. That's not what gets me staring at Alberto... and truly gets me rereading it again and again and again. No, for that, we need to look at... the text.

Here's the exact text of a caption we find on page 2:

Under the intense (heavy) teaching by *Jesuit Priests Alberto had completely changed.

Now, the asterisk led to a footnote underneath that read "*The sharpest group of Priests in the Roman Catholic Institution," which admittedly is a good description of the Jesuits. But let's look at this more closely.

Chick, in writing that caption, felt a need to define both "Jesuit" and "intense." Now, obviously Chick was hoping children would read this. Especially Catholic children. I mean, this is testimony. That's the actual point. And obviously he wanted to make it clear to younger readers what certain words mean.

But... he felt the need to define "Intense?"

Further, and I admit this is the English Major in me rearing its ugly, tweed-festooned head, but he mixed styleguides to do it. I was trained in MLA style, which means I typically put parenthetical comments and notes in parentheses as a part of the paragraph, be those supplemental notes or citation references. The Chicago Manual of Style Guide, on the other hand, advocates the use of footnotes for supplemental notes and citations (at least, for Humanities articles. Scientific articles or Internet-published works get other treatment).

Chick, in one caption, has used both styles of annotation at once. It's a madhouse. A MADHOUSE! I'm almost positive Jesus didn't tell him to do that!

The definition thing is what leaps out at you, though. Chick defines words like he's desperately afraid the reader is about to suffer a stroke, peppering the text with parenthetical asides and asterisks throughout. Some of them make sense -- Seminary, for example. A kid might not know what a Seminary is. However, far more difficult words and concepts don't get defined at all, and some astoundingly simple concepts do.

Here's a partial list of terms specifically defined in Alberto, along with their definition:

  • Seminary
  • Intense
  • Sacraments
  • Protestantism
  • Intelligencia
  • Vatican
  • Rector
  • Celibacy (a reverse definition, as they explain that Priests can't marry in the body of the text, and then footnote the single word 'celibacy'
  • Celibacy (they actually footnote a definition of the word again on the next page, though this time at least the word is being defined, rather than the definition being footnoted with the term)
  • Authority
  • Canon (another reverse definition)
  • Stone (which apparently means a 'small pebble')
  • Dominicans (defined as "monks in an order founded by a man named Dominic. Um... 'kay)
  • Tribunal
  • Deny
  • Recant
  • Repent
  • Espionage (again)
  • Infiltrate
  • Sentiments (defined as 'feelings')
  • One World Superchurch
  • Deacons
  • Isolate
  • Controversial
  • Persecution
  • Corruption
  • Unpardonable (defined as "one who can't be pardoned or forgiven")
  • Documents (defined as 'papers and forms')
  • Lake of Fire. (That's right. He felt the reader wouldn't recognize the Lake of Fire as Hell by the context. To his defense, I have been through New Jersey a number of times.)

And here's a partial list of terms that were not defined in Alberto.


  • Indulgence
  • Baptism
  • Eucharist
  • Confirmation
  • Extreme Unction
  • Theocracy
  • Apostle
  • Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur
  • Inquisition
  • Pentacostal
  • Evangelical
  • Fundamentalist
  • Denomination
  • Ecumenical
  • Charismatic Movement
  • Baal
  • Concordat
  • Apostacy

So... Chick... felt he had to define "Protestant" but not "Evangelical" or "Pentacostal." He was willing to accept that the reader knew "Ecumenical," "Extreme Unction" and "Apostacy," but thought they might have trouble with "Intense," "Infiltrate" and "Stone."

"Stone."

The story is told as a retelling of Alberto Rivera's life and his duties as a destroyer of Protestant churches -- a simple recitation of events to a couple of Christians who are helping hide him from the Catholics who are trolling America, trying to kill him. Said Christian punctuate the story with phrases like "Heavy." ("That is heavy stuff, man!") Absent the definitions, it would just be a somewhat suspect story punctuated by oddly stiff and lifeless art from an artist who could clearly do better. With those definitions, however, it becomes something more. Drinking games could be founded around the way Jack Chick helpfully lets the reader know what documents are. By the time you get to the conversion checklist at the back (every Chick publication ends with the checklist for how to be saved. If you're not familiar with the process, you can find it here -- don't let it be said I was unwilling to let you hear the basic message) you've had a plethora of new ideas (concepts) to mull over (think about).

Is that on enough? Is it? Huh? Ball's in your court, Wednesday!

Logo: Sleeping Snarky

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