Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 21:39 on 24-04-2013, Cammalot
I read that one as a reversal. Isn't it saying that the face is the portrait getting older, while the mind inside stays youthful?
at 18:49 on 22-04-2013, Adrienne
Alasdair: Is Jünger's name in the air lately or something? The first time i'd ever heard of him was a couple weeks ago, following a link to the blog of a crazy right-wing lawyer guy who apparently thinks Jünger is the bee's knees.
at 19:50 on 21-04-2013, Arthur B
Minor gripe about today's one: half the point of The Picture of Dorian Gray is that despite his body being fantastically well-preserved, his mind gets more and more jaded and decadent and callous as time goes by, so using "Dorian Gray" as an example of a character who retains their youthful outlook on life is ridiculous.
at 01:26 on 20-04-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Bah, you kids with your xkcds and your Saturday morning breakfast cereals. You need to read a real webcomic, like Control-Alt-Delete. That thing is amazing. It started out bad and discovers new and exciting ways to be terrible every day.

In other, more interesting news, I finally read Storm of Steel a few weeks ago, and it got me interested enough in Ernst Jünger that I tracked down a rather illuminating study of his work during and between the wars. He was a very interesting man. He was a modernist, of course, but more attuned to the "conservative" metaphysical side of modernism, which is hardly surprising given his time and place. I've grown to think of him as an epiphantic modernist who tried act like a programmatic one, but wasn't suited for it. In the '20s he tried to put down some schemes as to what his ideal world would look like, but he was always at his best when he was just acting as a writer and working in allegory. He was always ruminating over man's relationship to technology and to war, the latter of which he always got attacked on. (Storm of Steel is all about his WWI experience, but the memoir views the war not with horror but with fascination, particularly for its extreme situations and transformative effects on the men who fought.) However, despite accusations and some occasional dalliances in the early '20s, Jünger was definitely not a Nazi. Hell, he was even tangentially involved in the July 20th plot.
at 22:51 on 19-04-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I haven't read SMBC for a while, but when I did it always had that self-righteous, resentfully sexist edge of the Nice Guy who finally found a girlfriend.
at 18:12 on 19-04-2013, Dan H
God I'm glad somebody linked that so I didn't have to. SMBC has been going either downhill, or up its own arse, or both for a while now.

Today's comic really does boil down to:

Interesting people are LIKE ME

I also wish he'd quit dumping on economists, given that he knows *precisely jack shit* about economics.
at 17:06 on 19-04-2013, Arthur B
I know we usually boo XKCD here but I want to boo today's SMBC.

Grounds for booing:
- Assumption that talking about ideas is inherently interesting: [CITATION NEEDED], nothing's more boring than someone who drones on and on about his pet theory.
- Assumption that talking about people is boring. This would imply that people themselves are an inherently boring topic. [CITATION NEEDED] again - I think people are pretty enthralling myself - though I can see how the concept appeals to a guy whose webcomic career is based on a series in which there are no actual characters whatsoever.
- Assumption that any discussion of what you drank last night is intolerable. [CITATION NEEDED]. Maybe you had a nice wine which you'd like to recommend! Maybe you had a well-aged port which had an interesting story behind it! Who's to say that alcohol is the exclusive province of alcoholics?
at 01:18 on 19-04-2013, Melanie
That was amazing.
at 12:52 on 18-04-2013, Axiomatic
Ladies and gentlemen, the best game trailer ever.

It's funny and informative and shows you actual gameplay, which is pretty much unheard of in game trailers.
at 14:55 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
Sorry, something wasn't working right and my post got posted 5 times. The delete function wasn't reachable the first 2 times I tried, either (couldn't find the URL). But it's probably just my little netbook that's slow.
at 14:47 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
Ack, sorry for spoiling, then.

And, no, you're probably getting Agron mixed up with Auctus, who was Barca's first lover in the prequel and whom Crixus was forced to kill in an Arena match. Agron was one of the Germanic brothers who came in with the new group of trainee gladiators in the middle of the first season, right after the storyline that got Barca, his boyfriend Pietros and that nasty brute who abused the poor boy killed. Agron is the elder brother, the one who couldn't resist checking out his neighbor's junk when they were told to strip for Illythia. He gets a boyfriend named Nasir in season 2 and their love life and character development becomes a major storyline.
at 10:38 on 15-04-2013, Arthur B
Irreverent tangent: the Spartacus board game is actually awesome, I played it with Dan and Kyra and Shimmin and we got ridiculously into it.

It ended, naturally, with a fight to the death between me and Dan. (Dan won but my death was a glorious one.)
at 09:53 on 15-04-2013, Dan H
I'm really confused. Didn't Agron die in the prequel?

Kyra and I are way behind on Spartacus, partially because we decided to watch it in chronological order, which meant rewatching the first series again after the prequel.
at 05:40 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
I just watched the series finale of Spartacus. And I'm still weeping. It's was... so perfect. Well, okay, there were some small niggles - I would have appreciated if Naevia's death would have been more glorious, and Saxa's new girlfriend needed more screentime, and Sybil needed more personality... But it was beautiful as a whole. And they actually managed to give a historical tragedy a happy ending of sorts, in a meta way:

Mo Ryan has a good write-up about what made the show special here: (content warning for ableist language)

(Though at the same time, I'm a bit pissed off that STARZ' new show "DaVinci's Demons" seems intent on straightening the historical gay genius out, or at most make him a ladies man with some token nods to bisexuality. *sigh* I guess we'll have to wait till DeKnight's new sci-fi project "Incursion" gets green-lighted to get a decent queer-inclusive genre show again.)
at 18:59 on 14-04-2013, Arthur B
Wait, wasn't that what people said the original game was about too with the whole
Would You Kindly?
at 18:42 on 14-04-2013, Dan H
Still on the subject of BS:I, can everybody please take a drink for this article which insists that the game is really about *the nature of video game storytelling itself*.

Because that's an original thing for a video game to be about.
at 17:38 on 14-04-2013, Ibmiller
Ah, I sees. Hmmms. Thanks for the enlightenment!
at 04:10 on 14-04-2013, Fin
Interesting article on Bioshock Infinite.

@Arthur: That site is amazing.
at 16:58 on 13-04-2013, Arthur B is a website
(hence the dotcom)
which is run by a dude who writes in an idiosyncratic style
(sort of establishing a conversational tone there)
and he retells mythology in this style
making it funny
because if there's one thing that's funny
it's taking something which is usually presented as SERIOUS BUSINESS
and being flippant about it
obviously care's got to be taken about cultural appropriation there
(though to be fair to him the dude takes being called out in a gentlemanly way
and is generally up for constructive dialogue with critics)
but in the case of the silmarillion it's extra funny
because the silmarillion is absurdly wordy and overwritten
almost as if
it's what a language professor did
in his alone time
instead of masturbation
at 05:56 on 13-04-2013, Ibmiller
Er...I can't figure out what Bettermyth is? Help the stupid one?
at 22:08 on 10-04-2013, Adrienne
Dan, what you're talking about is actually a semi-well-known idea in political theory, called the Overton window.
at 13:03 on 10-04-2013, Arthur B
Yep, and to be fair for the most part that isn't the form it's taking - Ed Milliband claims he's going to be highlighting to MPs where Thatcherism went wrong, whether or not he has the balls to actually do this at the special session of Parliament they've convened for the political eulogy remains to be seen but at least some of his MPs are making a point of boycotting the session.

I know the conversation's been concentrating more on the celebrations but that's because the celebrations are deeply, deeply problematic.

Steve Bell's having fun though.
at 12:58 on 10-04-2013, Andy G
(Not that Thatcher-hate *necessarily* has to take the form of celebration)