Reading List: February 4th

“He was the only songwriter I knew with a subscription to Jane’s Defence Weekly,” Linda Ronstadt tells the Los Angeles Times in this appreciation of Warren Zevon.

Robin Sloan calls attention to some recent explorations of where the internet can go from here, after feeling stuck for too long.

Locus magazine’s annual recommended reading list is a lengthy one—don’t miss the short story section at the end, which points to many that can be freely read online.

In his Counter Craft newsletter, author Lincoln Michel highlights some rule-breaking writing advice drawn from fairy tales.

“You still need a human voice to be the spine.” Julia Angwin offers some journalistic lessons for the algorithmic age in announcing her departure from The Markup.

Paleofuture sifts through the archives of NASA’s in-house Spinoff magazine, which has been chronicling commercial applications of space technology since 1976.

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Reading list: January 25th

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Lucy Maud Montgomery’s handwritten Anne of Green Gables manuscript

Photo: Jean-Sébastien Duchesne

There’s a new online exhibition from PEI’s Confederation Centre of the Arts that lets you explore the entire handwritten manuscript of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, complete with wealth of annotations and supplemental materiel. Montgomery wrote a large portion of the novel on the backs of pages of earlier manuscripts, which are all also readable online and detailed here, and there’s a great look at her writing process (including Waverley pen she preferred to use).

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Soderbergh’s seen, read 2022

Every year in early January, Steven Soderbergh shares a list of everything he’s seen and read in the previous year. In 2022, he returned to William Friedkin’s Sorcerer three times, and apparently watched David Fincher’s upcoming film, The Killer, four times in a single week.

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Stop Stealing Sheep for free

Stop Stealing Sheep

This is the copy of the 2nd edition of the design classic Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works that’s been on my bookshelf since university. A newly updated 4th edition was recently published and, what’s more, it’s been made available as a free PDF on the Google Fonts site under a Creative Commons license. They also have an interview with author Erik Spiekermann, who says he’s “kind of hopeful for our craft of communication that we are slowing down once again.” Here’s hoping.

The new edition is thankfully available in paperback as well.

/via kottke.org

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Exploring Springsteen’s Nebraska

From his Instagram post, here’s Michael Chabon on Warren Zanes’ forthcoming book on the making of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska:

Zanes’s book shares certain features with the strongest books in the (unrelated) 33 1/3 series— singular focus, thorough research, unabashed passion for and devotion to its subject, a strong yet not unwelcome authorial presence and, above all, a compelling argument to make—in this case that Springsteen’s weird, gothic, heartbroken 1982 left turn, equally the product of an acute psychological crisis and the introduction of the TEAC 144 PortaStudio, opened the door to and laid the groundwork for the whole lo-fi, 4-track, homebrew, backpack-and-laptop indie revolution that followed.

The book’s only out in May, but it reminds me I need to catch up with Zanes’ Tom Petty biography (which Chabon also praises).

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Now playing: Atari 50

Atari 50

I’ve sunk more time into other games, but Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration might be my favourite thing that I played this year. It’s a collection of over a hundred classic Atari games — from the company’s earliest arcade titles, through the 2600 and 8-bit computer heyday, up to the less than successful Lynx and Jaguar years. But it’s how the games are presented that really sets it apart.

You can dive in and quickly play any game you want like any classic game collection, but the best way to explore Atari 50 is through the timeline view. It presents each game in chronological order, interspersed with a trove of historical material and newly produced documentary-style interviews that puts everything in context. You can see Howard Scott Warshaw explain how he created Yars’ Revenge, watch an original TV commercial, read the comic book that was included with the cartridge, then play the actual game.

Vctr-Sctr from Atari 50

Atari 50 was produced by Digital Eclipse, which also created six new games for the collection inspired by Atari classics. One of the standouts is Vctr-Sctr, which is an amazingly well-crafted homage to vector-based arcade games like Asteroids, Tempest and Lunar Lander. Kyle Orland has an appreciation of it at Ars Technica. There’s also new takes on Breakout, Combat, and Haunted House that all feel just right, and an updated version of Yars’ Revenge that offers a graphical update but retains the exact gameplay of the original. They even finished the never-completed Swordquest: AirWorld, which provides a long overdue conclusion to the ambitious (if confounding) Swordquest series for the Atari 2600.

It’s available for Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

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