Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Country of Abundance


At length I found my way to a land of great abundance. In this country, every person was of such wealth that they found their homes entirely filled with diverse and sundry items, such that it was often difficult for them to move about freely. In this land, the most precious item was holes, which were mined from caves in the mountains nearby. Each day the miners would bring buckets to the mine filled with goods, and return with their buckets empty. The precious empty space within these buckets was then sold at a profit. Some miners offered a weekly service, in which they would come and pick up a full bucket from a home, and return a bucket filled with empty space, for a subscription fee.
Because the cost of holes was so high, in that country the poorest often had the most things, and the rich, in contrast, were those with the most space.
The holes thus mined were used in the manufacture of vessels of all kinds. Potters, for instance, would take holes and carefully wrap clay around them. These clay-wrapped holes were then distributed to those who would use them. They were also used in laying the foundation of buildings.
Furthermore, certain food items required the holes for their preparation, such as bagels, effervescent water, bread, or certain types of cheeses. The rich would pay more for those food items which contained the most holes and the least food (and thus were often thin themselves) while the poor resorted to eating rich and heavy foods, and became fat.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Country Wherein a Game is Played with Small Sticks




The people of that country all participate in a game; which is so curious and ingenious in its rules that I have not been able to discern more than the smallest part of it, though even their young children play it with surprising ease. I shall here endeavor to explain that part of it which I have learned.
Each player carries with himself a bag, and in this bag are flexible sticks, which may be trimmed from a tree, fashioned from straw, or purchased in bundles from the market for a very low price. These sticks may be joined to one another by means of joints which have a variety of arrangements of holes. In such a fashion structures may be formed, as small as two or three sticks, which may be held in the palm of the hand, or as large as a house, and with more complexity and subtilty.
When one player (as I will call the inhabitants of that country, for every inhabitant is a player of the game, excepting only those afflicted with palsy or complete infirmity) passes another who is known to him on the street, it is the custom to exchange a small arrangement of two or three sticks. This is done without much thought. Occasionally, however, two will sit and play a longer game, if they are familiar with one another and have no pressing engagement. In this case, one player will make a small structure and offer it to his neighbor. The neighbor will take that structure and elaborate on it, building onto it as he sees fit, according to his own habit. In a way this resembles chess, in that the two alternate turns, and there are established patterns of moves and countermoves. The difference is that this game is rarely competitive; when it turns competitive, pieces are hurled back and forth, and passers-by avert their eyes or try to intervene, for it is a shameful thing among them.
Instead, the two try to cooperate to build a structure. Sometimes one player's style will dominate, but in the best games, the two will combine to form what may only be called a work of art (though of a primitive and barbarous kind, as it contains no figures or meaning.) The game may be played among more than two players, for example when many sit down to a meal together. It may not, however, be played by only one person alone, though one occasionally sees such behavior among the mentally infirm.
There are strict rules for how pieces may be arranged, according to their sizes and shapes, and these rules are usually followed, although a more casual game may allow the relaxing of a few of them.
The most formal games last for decades, and are engaged in professionally by men paid to do so. These men are experts in the most minute rules, and build larger and larger structures that seem as if they must collapse, being built only of small sticks; but are in fact incredibly sturdy. Players will pay money to study such structures, in order to develop their own skill, and by such payment these men are supported.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

sketch action



A while ago I wrote a new sketch action for Photoshop. An action is a list of commands performed in succession, a branchless program that takes a photo as input and outputs a fake sketch. Here's some results. (Click to enlarge.) What do you think?