In anticipation of the one day a year when I give thanks for gravy, red wine, HDTV, and the afternoon naps on the sofa induced by all three, I thought I'd take a moment to give thanks for a few of the websites that help me kill time on days when I'm working…which is the other 364 days a year. The first one should go without saying:
But there are a few other comics sites that I wouldn't want to live without, like The Comics Curmudgeon, which features daily dissection of the homoeroticism in Rex Morgan MD, and the wacky humanity-defying output of Archie's Joke-Generating Laugh Unit 3000, among others. On the news and commentary front, few do it better than Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter. Spurgeon combines good round-ups of the day's biggest comics news with scans and appreciations of some the greatest artists the medium has ever known. One of those greats–not-so-famous-division–is Eli Stein, a veteran one-panel cartoonist who posts material from his archives regularly at Eli Stein Cartoons, pulling from the work he's done for big publications like The Wall Street Journal as well as smaller ones like American Tool. Some of the jokes are predictable while others are wonderfully wry, but they're all nicely drawn, and they comprise a neat combination of cartooning history and American social history.
For more social history in odd places, I'm keen on Brand New, a blog run by graphic designers who evaluate the effectiveness of various logo redesigns, from restaurant chains to tourism boards. Each review includes a little information about why the change occurred, how the logos have changed in the past, and so on. It's a reminder of how much thought goes into what we see every day and often take for granted.
Of course there are plenty of other sites and blogs that I check out daily, like the news/commentary links round-up Medialoper, and Alan Sepinwall's superb TV review blog What's Alan Watching?. But to be honest, the main reason I wanted to do this post–and the main site that I'm thankful I discovered in 2007–is the web version of Singapore's premiere rock and culture magazine BigO (short for "before I get old"). Go through the front page, at BigO Worldwide, and you'll be confronted with a busy cluster of political links and pro-democracy commentary, overseen by a bosomy animated babe. Scroll about a fifth of the way down the page though, and in the left-hand column you'll find the reason I check the site daily: a section marked "Free Download." There are the ROIOs ("recordings of indeterminate origin"), a regularly updated collection of "grey market" concert recordings and other musical ephemera. Most of these MP3s are up for not much more than a week, so it's the perfect archive for people like me, who get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of semi-legal music available out there. The BigO staff serves as a curator for me, and between their good taste in bootleg-fodder (classic rockers, free jazz and neo-indie alike) and the well-written reviews of same (also available on a separate blog, Talkin' About My Revolutions), it's enough to once again make me appreciate being alive in the internet age.