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 17:46 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
I found a new shibboleth. Anyone who seriously agrees with this comic is almost guaranteed to be part of the reason geek culture is appalling.
at 16:17 on 31-01-2012, Andy G
I loved the snide remark after Jonathan Franzen's comments: "We prefer reading our favorite texts on clay tablets, just as Hammurabi intended"
at 12:46 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
Ümläüẗs übër ällës!
at 11:20 on 31-01-2012, valse de la lune
Andy: the solution seems simple to me, we all write our names with lots of diacritics. Hello, my new friend Ándï!
at 01:53 on 31-01-2012, Michal
I started The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya and it's occurred to me that Tolstaya has inadvertently achieved what all the New Weird authors in the west have tried to achieve but haven't really (that is, being weird and New Wave and all literary at the same time). No insect-people, however.

At least, not yet.
at 00:28 on 31-01-2012, Andy G
The apostrophe must die. A post by someone with personal reasons to hate the apostrophe.
at 18:30 on 30-01-2012, Robinson L
Arthur: I think once MPs start doing something it's officially No Longer Cool.

I'll go along with that. Although I suppose it's possible for MPs to be cool, too. Theoretically.

In other news, here's another great article on feminism and class (with a little about race) from Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown, published in the US lefty magazing In These Times.

Browsing their site for the online copy of the article, I also found a short but insightful piece on the narrow definition of racism ascribed to by most Americans, using Ron Paul as a case study.
at 21:22 on 29-01-2012, Arthur B
Is Paul McCartney's new release a concept album about rimming? I ask because that is a title you would give to a concept album about rimming.
at 19:07 on 27-01-2012, Wardog
@Finbarr - ditto!!!
at 17:26 on 27-01-2012, Arthur B
For those who were interested in the news about 5th Edition D&D: the first public playtests have started and there's intriguing feedback coming back. Trollsmyth has collated the most useful links.
at 12:52 on 27-01-2012, Fin
i'm not sure what it says about me that watching that made me the happiest i've been in the last few days. :D
at 12:36 on 27-01-2012, Wardog
OMG, Mario 8 Bit Opera totally made my day! :D
at 09:53 on 27-01-2012, Arthur B
Polish parliamentarians disguise themselves as a man known for trying to blow up parliaments.

Can we declare the whole Anonymous thing to be over now? I think once MPs start doing something it's officially No Longer Cool.
at 03:25 on 27-01-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Hey, Penguin Books! If you're ever thinking of reprinting some J. G. Ballard collections or something, you should give this guy a ring to do the covers.
at 03:22 on 27-01-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I don't know how to feel about this.

So, I'm watching a Let's Play of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, a game concerning the noted rapper's efforts to reclaim a bejeweled skull in an unnamed Middle Eastern nation (which a very evil part of me believes is actually Iraq two years from now), and I had reached the part near the end when Mr. Fiddy takes to the skies in a helicopter and uses a minigun to strafe two or three refugee settlements/terrorist drug labs. Having the commentators use the Top Gun soundtrack to score the sequence was quite funny, if an expected joke. However, what really blew me away was what came after. Regarding some questions on the original thread regarding the game's treatment of women (this was an LP from the Something Awful community, by the way), one of the commentators proceeded to open a copy of Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton's American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass and quoted, at length, several passages discussing the coarsening of relations between the sexes in the black ghetto from the 1980s onwards, all while Fifty Cent is murdering hundreds of people with a helicopter.

It was hilarious. It was informative. And it was very sad. I have never experienced anything quite like this before.

If any of you are at all curious, the sequence in question is excerpted in this video from the 10:00 mark onwards. The whole game can be watched here, and it's actually pretty damn fun to watch, as if it's a glimpse into Fifty Cent's most egomanically ludicrous fantasies. And yes, Massey and Denton lay out the game's gender politics to a tee.
at 07:14 on 25-01-2012, Ibmiller
I cracked up at that Avengers poster redrawn...and then sadly realized that the original really is that stupid...

Joss Whedon, you are not doing anything for my expectations of Avengers...
at 02:15 on 25-01-2012, Michal
Liz Bourke is fast becoming my hero. She sure knows how to get fanboys' knickers in a twist.
at 21:44 on 24-01-2012, Arthur B
Finally, someone is tackling a true marketing challenge: making nail polish look super-macho.

I mean, it's not a terrible idea. But their advertising is trying way too hard. ("Reason number five: BATTLE".)
at 20:53 on 24-01-2012, Arthur B
I see Black Widow is at the very back with more or less all the dudes interposed between her and danger. Stay classy, Marvel.
at 18:44 on 24-01-2012, Jamie Johnston
Nice. I'd be interested to see someone do a simple swap-out; exchange male and female characters throughout a comic or similar, but keep the original poses.

This is nearly that: a redrawn promotional image with the poses of the male and female Avengers swapped.
at 18:00 on 24-01-2012, Arthur B
I was more taken aback by the quotes, which sound like the people describing their experiences on it were just taking the piss. Particularly "I don't even like Kate Bush" or "When a mate shat himself, rather than take the piss out of him, we were just really understanding."

Then again, not liking Kate Bush is a fairly clear indication that you're high as balls.
at 17:58 on 24-01-2012, Dan H

Someone who is more hip than I am can hopefully shed light on this one: is this shit real or did NME get taken in by a "Cake"-style hoax?

It certainly refers to a real drug: methoextamine, and it seems to have a legit supplier (and by "legit" I mean "illegal") trading through, but I'm not sure the slang is in wide use.

Wiki reliably informs me that Vice magazine suggested that: "the phrase will only only used by "the same politicians, parents and journalists" who called mephedrone 'meow meow'".
at 16:55 on 24-01-2012, Melissa G.
oh, those are absolutely awesome! i think my favourites are green lantern and iron man.

The Green Lantern one is really fantastic. That one I could see being a real cover. I also like Thor and Doctor Strange a lot too.