The Punisher MAX #60 hits comics stores this week, marking the end of Garth Ennis's run on the series. His earlier Punisher work on the series put the character back on track after some disastrous wrong turns, but it was the Marvel MAX series that striped the Vietnam vet turned vigilante's war on crime of all extraneous elements and turned it into something dark and brutal. The evocative covers of Tim Bradstreet (also leaving the series) matched the interior darkness, with Ennis toning down his humor to let the Frank Castle become a monomaniacal psychopath in a corrupt world. Adversaries included the resourceful and violent Barracuda, a kind of anti-Punisher based on the song Stagger Lee. It's not over for the Punisher - screenwriter Gregg Hurwitz and artist Laurence Campbell are taking over the series, and Ennis will be returning to the character with a miniseries in the lighter tone of his Marvel Knights work or The Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe.
Max/MSP is a graphical programming environment primarily used for music, video and multimedia. Max/MSP has sometimes been described as a digital erector set. David Tinapple describes Max in this way: "it's like you're drawing a diagram of what you want the program to do, and then when you're done drawing the diagram you've also sort of accidentally programmed it". [more inside]
Max Koch is a writer/actor who does a few impressions, the most notable being an uncanny Tony Soprano. Also worth seeing: Gary Busey, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino. Audio NSFW.
During the 70s and 80s a new phenomenon appeared. Television Hijacking. It started in 1977 when a man in England hijacked the sound broadcast of a newscast. In 1986, a hijacker known as Captain Midnight hijacked HBO in response to their scrambling of television signals. The year after (20 years ago as of today), a character disguised as Max Headroom (a television character) infiltrated two Chicago television studios in one night. First the man infiltrated Channel 9 (WGN) for a few seconds with no sound, and then moved on to attack another Chicago station, this time with sound. After the Max Headroom incident, television hacking incidents were rare in the United States except for this one in Wyoming.
To work around the proprietary whims of digital audio software developers and laptop processor limitations during the mid- and late-1990s, a small band of technically-minded people, including the electronic musician Blitter, pulled together in the late 1990s to engineer the open-source OPEN DSP EZ-Kit platform, a 16-bit computer designed entirely with a focus on low cost and extensible control and DSP arithmetic capabilities. While this project and similar commercial offerings never seemed to gain the critical mass needed to sustain long-term interest, perhaps the new Arduino hardware project from MIT's Processing hardware group may gain a foothold with Processing and Pure Data audio software hobbyists and artists alike, allowing the creative community to extend, enhance and share inventive uses of new technology. Arduino's use has already begun in fascinating museum installations around the world, and has become a part of this year's SONAR and Ars Electronica festivals.
The Fuhrer stays in the picture. Max, a movie about Hitler's early years and his rise to power, premieres Monday at the Toronto Film Festival. The controversial project depicts the future dictator as an "emotionally poisoned man, but nonetheless human" rather than a simple caricature of evil, and owes its existence to the determination of star John Cusak (Noah Taylor of Shine plays Hitler) as well as its writer/director and producer. Many have already condemned the film, including Maureen Dowd (NYT link) and the Jewish Defense League. (Spielberg liked the script but bowed out early.) Is it possible, much less necessary, to portray the legendarily wicked as human beings without excusing their crimes?