29 thoughts on “Just Something I WIPed Up (Blog or Die! Entry #9)

  1. You ARE the only person like this, I don’t CARE about your exclusive rights, and I ain’t crediting NOBODY for connecting pieces together likewise. And I WILL manipulate photos as much as I please, thankyouverymuch.


    1. Nice work, Vakk. If everyone was as violently opposed to technique copyrighting as you are, the community would probably be better off…though I think there’s a point at which a “technique” is large and complex enough to be termed an “object,” like this pine tree:

      Pinetree Break Down

      Micah came up with that first as far as I know, and it seemed to catch on with some people crediting him and some not. Ideally, it would be great to treat our collective ideas entirely as an open resource, but that’s probably too much to ask for, especially when I can’t even keep myself from becoming occasionally distraught at the sight of someone else posting a technique I thought I had in the bag. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…


      1. Citing techniques and inspirations is a nice way to be transparent about your creative process, but beyond that there shouldn’t be any need to do it. Being annoyed at someone else posting a technique first is a self-centered reaction. Childish, almost. Like a braggart at a schoolyard, claiming they started some trend while no one was looking. The other kids just ignore him because at the heart of it no one cares.

        What does it matter who used what technique first? Think instead about who used it more effectively. Actually, scratch that. Don’t think about WHO. Look at the MOC itself and judge it by its own merits. Does the technique support the MOC as a whole? That’s what actually matters. If you’re so taken with who used what technique first, then maybe you should reevaluate what you think makes a good MOC.

        Your WIP-bashes (I just coined that word and now it’s copyrighted) have value to the community because Lego *is* open source and maybe someone else will see your half-assed MOCs and be inspired to do them better. Words like “invention” and “ownership” are thorns in the side of that process. And I hope they give you credit for the sake of historical context, but I also kind of hope they don’t just to piss you off now, because in the end that’s not the point.

        Side note: it’s possible for two people to come up with the same solution to the same problem. There’s only so many parts available to make an olive tree (that’s a tree that’s olive-colored, not a tree that grows olives). “Micah’s” tree is cool, but it’s not exactly a huge mental leap to build a Travis brick frame for one of the few small olive parts that was readily available at the time. I don’t know what his motivation for sharing it was, but I hope it was primarily to help other people’s MOCs, not to brag about how clever he was for thinking of it first.


      2. I’m well aware that it’s a horrible, selfish, childish way to feel about people posting techniques. But…it is a *feeling*. One that I’ve exaggerated for comedic effect, no less.
        I’m game to reconsider how I view and evaluate others’ MOCs, because your perspective sounds like a very fruitful method of analysis. All the same, this was done in a spirit of existential angst (the exact same that Vit is complaining about) from which other trite comic plots such as “I secretly feel the relatable urge to do something socially unacceptable. What sort of horrible person am I?” have been birthed. Call me unoriginal, but don’t call me a monster!

        If I’ve grossly miscalculated and this feeling isn’t actually relatable at all, then, uh, I guess I am a monster. That would be pretty embarrassing.


      3. I think that’s why the schoolyard analogy works because it is something we all start from and have to learn to hide or get over as we mature (avoiding the word “adult” here since we all know that doesn’t equate to tact or wisdom). And of course it all goes back to the special snowflake problem.

        I’ll admit I felt it a bit when I first found the community, but since I wasn’t posting anything back then it didn’t really affect me that much. I was more preoccupied with techniques being “spoiled,” i.e., seeing them revealed before I could figure them out myself. I saw everything as a sort of puzzle in those days. I haven’t felt that way in a long time, though. At some point I did a 180 from thinking that other people’s work would stifle my own creativity to seeing it as vital inspiration and not being able to get enough.


  2. Haha, so that was the big secret! Great stuff. So how many of those wips you managed to fit in here?

    Although, 3 entries, 3 fol existential issues. Gimme some fantasy, something shallow with big badda boom in it for fuck’s sake! Boobs and music. Make a bloody bollywood comic, just change the subject please! :))


    1. Here’s a visual list:
      WIPs Used in (Just Something I WIPed Up)

      I knew that if I posted this, my only content on The Manifesto would continue to be edgy, poorly-built meta-discussion about FOL community issues, but honestly…what other blog is there to submit this kind of stuff to? I could just make my own, but Keith’s got a pretty good thing going here so far. However: suggestions noted. I have an idea that might be more to your liking. We’ll see if I have time to execute it.


      1. I know it’s fitting, but we’re doing this in every other thread around here; I guess I was kind of hoping this category would be the fun bit, the place to leave all that aside and have a bit of the ol’ brainless fun.

        Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it, it’s just that 3/3 entries dealing with the same theme on a category that lets you do anything at all seemed weird.


      2. Then shut the fuck up and write/build something yourself, Absurde. You’ve seen a clear chink in the competition’s armor. ATTACK!


      3. I could, or I can just sit on my ass and let the others entertain me. It’s a win either way. I’m quite proficient in doing the opposite of practice what you preach or lead by example. :))


      4. Thing is, anyone that read my article “Sweep the Leg” knows by now who the singular judge is, and who it is we should ensure we entertain. The rest of you? Pfft… whatevs.

        The bigger issue is the rest of you sucka MC’s being wallflowers at the high-school dance. 3 of these 10 Blog or Die! entries are mine, and honestly I’ve written enough for the Manifesto that I should be sitting along side Rutherford on the bench. Instead, it’s like I’m doing a one-man dance groove like Tony Manero… so no, I’m not taking any requests.

        YOU should be dancin’, YEAH!!!!


      5. Here’s some non contest entertainment for you, though. Providing comic relief starting at the 1:35 mark… now You’re Welcome.


      6. Nice work Ted. You made it on to the coveted Hey Kentucky! program. Is it stationed out of Florence Y’all? You were definitely upstaged by the kids though. Those explanations of what they had built were the greatest.


      7. Werewolff – fighting words, but also a good reality check. It’s good to keep those egos grounded…

        JakeRF – Kids will always upstage.
        – Is a snake with 4 arms still a snake?
        – and Abe Lincoln dog is definitely a MOC that needed to be made…

        All I know is from here on out, during public hours whenever people ask me how I get all the bricks for my MOC’s, I’m just going to use Woo’s story; 1) Rent videos, 2) go sell them at flea markets, 3) then buy LEGO with the money.


      8. It is still a snake only if it spits acid and is also a mutant gargoyle thing. Who is the cool cat in the black coat? They really should have put names to their interviewees.


      9. “Who is the cool cat in the black coat? They really should have put names to their interviewees.” – Personally, I’m glad they didn’t =D .

        That ‘cool cat’ is Greyson Beights, who started BrickUniverse at 14 (he’s 17 now) and runs it with his family. The really funny thing is that he has got two younger brothers who are twins, and they look a lot like him at a quick glance. Last year, it took me awhile to realize and I couldn’t keep them strait.

        Jonathan Lopes was the one in the navy blue shirt. Closing it out at the end is Charley Harper, who is the one putting all the energy in getting the local LUG off the ground.


      10. Got that wrong – they are his older brothers actually, but probably only 1 year separating so close enough.


      11. Greyson is quite the accomplished person. I was mostly just trying to find someone who would buy me beer when I was 17.


  3. Excellent. The interplay between the spoken component and the visual is really good. Neither would stand alone, but they both reinforce one another perfectly.

    The legal blurb at the bottom was a good bit as well. Sort of “meta”… it looks like the blurbs we see everywhere. Tiny font, legal language, seemingly exhaustive and exhausting content… but that tiny paragraph also becomes a sort of visual component itself. I mean because of the care you took to capture the “look”. Nailed it.



    1. Thanks Michael, the layout without any speech bubbles definitely looked pretty barren. I think that’s a common problem with the comic medium; either the art or the dialogue is not really good enough, but acceptable when integrated. Only the best of the best can create comics with panels worthy of the Louvre and speech bubbles that would make Shakespeare weep…and half of those people ruin both by combining them.

      The blurb wasn’t a last-minute idea, but it was a last-minute addition. I wasn’t sure it “fit” the overall presentation, but with the comic rapidly deteriorating toward the end what would “fit” became pretty loosely defined. In the end I added it to set boundaries on what can be assumed about what I’m trying to communicate as the storyline turns into a scribble, haha. I extrapolated on what exactly this comic was trying to accomplish in my reply to Hoffman up above. A bit of a gamble on a feeling.


  4. Agree with Mike about the complementary visuals and words, well done. I think my favorite WIP is that Borg Cube looking thing. I’m not sure how it could used, but very interesting doodad.

    As far as the question posed, I’ve never been too concerned with worrying about who did what connection first or worrying about anyone stealing my connections without giving me credit, not that I’ve ever had an original one necessarily. It is all fair game to me.

    I do have cool little table-scraps that I’m not sure what to do with though. Hopefully they’ll find a home sometime.


  5. If I cared about getting a leg up on everyone else for *publishing* a technique first (note my use of words there), then I’d actually post the things I’ve built in the past year and a half. NPU or a new technique on its own is impressive and the community should be grateful for it, but they’re only means to an end. To me it’s about the larger image you create with the parts/techniques, not the part use and techniques themselves.


  6. Coming in with new insight, this is too much work. Taking right sized pictures to fit the panels, making the damn text look good, the right size for the text bubbles, realizing that the same font size on a large res picture is not the same as the one on a low res pic and so on is not fun. So congratulations for managing so many panels perfectly. I managed to mess up all the pictures I took, as I had no clue what I was doing (and of course, I’m a god, I don’t do backups).


    1. You just voiced the exact part of the process that intimidates me as well. Building the scene, then framing it in the picture, AND getting the superimposed speech bubbles to look right. Easy for technically competent folks I suppose… but for me? Ill be agonizing over that all day! Re-shoot… Re-shoot… Re-shoot… For me, it would be a tough nut to crack.


  7. Official Contest Review
    Entry # 9
    Title: Just Something I WIPed Up
    Author: Aaron Van Cleave
    Views: 260 Comments: 27

    Favorite Quote: By posting this image to an Internet-accessible location, Aaron Van Cleave, aka A Plastic Infinity, henceforth referred to as “the author”, has laid exclusive claim to every whole or partial configuration of more than two Lego Brand Building Blocks connected to each other pictured within the image, regardless of color, each of which henceforth referred to as a “technique.”.

    Favorite Comment inspired by the entry: “Being annoyed at someone else posting a technique first is a self-centered reaction. Childish, almost. Like a braggart at a schoolyard, claiming they started some trend while no one was looking. The other kids just ignore him because at the heart of it no one cares.” – Christopher Hoffmann

    Single Sentence Summary: A humorous commentary on the problematic nature of our cultural tendency to claim ownership of a “technique”.

    The Good:

    1. You selected a great topic, one that has the additional benefit of never being discussed in depth and bludgeoned to death on the Manifesto. Although I do enjoy our longstanding, ongoing conversation about constructive criticism, I was very happy to see a fresh subject introduced that had some meat on the bone for commentary. You touched a nerve because most builders who have been around for any length of time or a certain skill level have come up with an original technique worthy of emulation, and I think if they were being honest they would acknowledge feeling a sting when they see people copying their design without credit. Hoffmann accurately called it out as school-yard behavior in the comments but I also think it’s human nature and it takes a mature person not to get at least privately bitchy about it. Anything that inspires emotion and strong reaction is great fodder for an essay or comic, especially for a blog like the Manifesto. Beyond just selecting a good subject, you took the most critical step by making it personal and honest, even if it didn’t cast you in the best light. Candor is key! It’s irritating when somebody takes your ideas without credit and you copped to it, not everyone would have done that, preferring to keep the topic neutral and academic.

    2. As a person who has the character flaw of cutting corners whenever I can, I applaud the inherent lazy brilliance of taking your leftovers and cooking up a fine seven course feast. It was a very clever combination of topic and build strategy. It kind of subverted the expectations of the category where I expected either top-notch building or skillfully applied minimalism. I never expected a heady mix of brilliance and crap in equal measure. This entry, perhaps more than any of the others strikes an interesting balance between the text and the art.

    3. I really liked the layout and your placement of the text bubbles, I was never confused as to who was talking and I liked the way it transitions from black & white to Lego background, to white to black/gray. In lesser skilled hands that might have been distracting but you turned it into a strength. The legal disclaimer at the bottom was a great addition, even if I had to grab my old man specs and squint at the super tiny print. I get it, you had to make it that small to simulate the real thing. I really liked the brick-built “LATER” frame, it was simple but effective and I also like the “S.W.I.P.E.R” frame with it’s non-Lego effect, you have a light touch on the rheostat, mixing all of these styles without creating visual chaos.

    The Bad:

    1. The minifig with the blue jacket was both distracting and off-putting, specifically the head. That character is supposed to stand in for the average reader, and the facial expression seems like a strange choice. I was distracted trying to figure out which set it came from, if it was some Harry Potter minifig who was hypnotized or a Star Wars figure in pain or terror…the expression didn’t always jibe with what the character was saying or the attitude he was supposed to express. Also, it left me wondering if the white skin / blonde hair was an intentional decision, if you were offering commentary on the racial makeup of the average builder. It was especially confusing when you changed the head from old-school yellow to Caucasian about halfway through the comic, I spent too much time trying to figure out the reason for the change and concluding I was either too stupid to get it, or that it was meaningless. Either way it was irritating.

    2. Speaking of minifigs and character I’m not sure if I like the way you kept changing the narrator from purple-clad minifig to plant monster, to bumblebee man?, to eyebot, to junky cyborg man. I think it might have been more effective if you’d stuck to a single narrator to stand in for you, no matter which one you chose, but that’s only a guess, I’d like to see both approaches before saying with any certainty but it did occur to me. I do understand that your method was a way to insert even more unused tablescraps, but I wonder if you could have done that while maintaining just a little more clarity between the reader stand-in and the narrator.

    3. Although I thought you really nailed the writing aspect, I’m didn’t like the first bubble in the frame with the giant cyborg. You write: “I thought he’d pay this tab, so I’ll be running long. I need to get back to obsessing over an imaginary system of technique ownership.” I had to read it a few different times to figure it out, but that might be a ‘me’ problem. I didn’t immediately connect that you’d changed the narrator again and I had to sort of go back before I could go forward. This final point on the ‘bad’ side is the weakest, I really liked the article over all but it did take me out of the rhythm of the comic for a minute.

    The Whatever:
    You made me think about my own attitude about technique and credit, which has evolved over the years, sometimes in uncomfortable ways so I give you credit there. You are very good at generating introspection and awkwardness in equal measure, something I value a great deal in terms of the blog, but it does make me wonder about you. I hope we get to meet one of these years, so I can read you as a person with a little more clarity.


    1. Thanks for the analysis Keith. Gave me the initiative to overcome inertia and return to this comic for a bit of reflection…

      Good 1.) I suspect that there are actually people out there for whom this really isn’t much of an issue at all. Their personality just doesn’t permit them to feel jealousy over it; their perspective is configured differently. I want to be like those people if they exist.
      But…I also felt very certain that even if not EVERYONE could relate to this, a pretty good percentage could (even if they won’t admit it). It wasn’t intuition about human nature, I’ve just seen too many of “those” comments. Recent, excellent examples were briefly visible on entries to the Iron Builder round between Grant Davis and KOSBrick. I won’t go into detail, but if you saw them then you know what I’m talking about.

      Good 2.) I’m glad you caught that, because I kept on doubting and then having to reassure myself that I’d made it clear enough in the comic that these were ACTUAL wips being used, so that the crucial meta element would be apparent and garner one of the responses I’d hoped for: “Wait, he’s shoving a bunch of half-baked wips at us RIGHT NOW!” Gotta make sure my pile of trash in the art gallery is properly labeled so the janitor knows not to take it away.

      Good 3.) Honestly, the background color transitioning thing wasn’t as intentional as you make it sound. For the infomercial panels, I found the blank background to work totally fine. When I desaturated those panels, it turned grey, but it still looked alright. Then came the “WAPOW! I’M AARON HERE TO TELL YOU ABOUT S.W.I.P.E.R.” panel, and the brickbuilt background that lasted a few panels. Too soon the latter felt like it had worn out its welcome and I needed a change of scenery, but I was out of WIPs…so sure, go back to the white background, they’re in some abstract empty dimension having tea, everything’s cool. Eventually (especially because of the repetition of the comatose FOL frame) that wore out too, so for the final frames where things get real serious, personal, and edgy, I figured throwing in black wouldn’t hurt. There *was* a lot of thought involved, but it wasn’t really for the same reasons.

      I’m not going to try and exercise any false modesty: I have a good amount of confidence in my own design sense (as well as that of people who I consult with in-progress work), so if the background transitions had looked awful or discordant for some reason I’m pretty sure I (or they) would have caught it and tweaked it until it sucked less. In this case it just ended up grey>brickbuilt>white>black on the first iteration so there was nothing off about it to detect. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Bad 1.) Oof. First off, I had a diaphanous thought while compositing the images, “Gee, I hope nobody thinks this guy being a blond, white male is a racist thing,” then poof it was gone and I thought no more of it. I think if I’d wanted to add an element of racial commentary, I probably would have used a white male with brown hair because for some unknown reason, the vast majority of FOLs I’ve seen photos of, myself included, are white, male mudheads. However, there was no such intent.
      The facial expressions are supposed to be reflective of what’s going on with the narrator, which I’ll try to expound on in the next section. I thought them out pretty thoroughly, so I think my communication of what’s up with the narrator is at fault. Since I’m not sure which expressions gave you the most confusion, I’ll just attribute reactions to each in order of appearance:

      Mild surprise
      Acknowledged despondency
      Disoriented confusion/fear
      Vague sense that something is off about the narrator (relevant: http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/299/175/edc.jpg )
      Shock and confusion
      Unbridled terror
      Onset of insanity
      Comatose state induced by limitless horror
      Comatose state induced by limitless horror
      Comatose state induced by limitless horror
      Comatose state induced by limitless horror
      Comatose state induced by limitless horror
      Comatose state induced by limitless horror

      The whole “turning pale” thing was just because I love using that vacuous-gaze-of-horror head. I guess the trope of people becoming significantly paler when terrified is dated/uncommon now. Anyway, I have an inexplicable attachment to using that head and have used it in the past in various situations wherein someone is rendered comatose by horror or poisoned or something, so I think my accustomedness to its meaning might have clouded my ability to judge whether other people would get it.

      Bad 2.) Yeah, this is where I made the whole premise a little more abstract than I could effectively communicate it in this format. All the narrators are actually “me” (the purple minifig); what I was trying to show happening from the fifth panel onward is an exponentially increasing, uncontrolled, continuous mutation as a “side effect” of using S.W.I.P.E.R. This was why the average FOL stand-in becomes increasingly distraught; this narrator dude who’s warped him into some infomercial has this unsettling, glitchy feel that quickly escalates into larger glitches and then eldritch forms (which I fancifully imagined it would be implied were much worse and mind-breaking during the “LATER” interval) in constant flux that drive the poor blond guy insane. This is also why panels ten and eleven are set up the way they are: panel ten is supposed to lead into the text/visual hybrid punchline of panel eleven where it’s revealed that the mutation has really taken off and the narrator is now a monster.

      At least, that’s what the reader was *supposed* to be able to infer from the comic, but holy cow that’s a lot to infer and I can easily see where anyone could get lost in trying to untangle largely irrelevant symbolism or establish a pattern when there is none besides increasing corruption. The idea was to portray the meta/fourth wall inclusion of more and more wips as a sister syndrome mirroring the horrifying metamorphosis of the narrator: I (the builder) can’t stop throwing in wips, and he (the narrator) can’t stop devolving into an incohesive wipmash monster.

      I was already planning to admit that that was probably too abstract and complex a narrative element to try cramming into a few panels when I set out to write a response to your official review, but having typed out this lengthy explanation of my reasoning I’m now positive that the sister syndromes just don’t blend well. That element of it is abstruse and hinders comprehension of the comic.

      Bad 3.) You probably had issues with that bubble because there is, in fact, a typo. Horrible thing!
      I fixed it in my Flickr post but given the “NO EDITING” rule I wasn’t about to pester you to replace the image with my final revision. C’est la vie.

      Maybe I’ll run into you at a con someday when you’re reinvigorated from your recent endeavors in LA. In real life you’re going to get a whole lot more awkwardness and a lot less introspection, except in rare cases where I say something profound but don’t realize it because I was actually trying to make a stupid joke that only made sense to me. To my knowledge I don’t have any mental issues, and I’m not going to speculate (heaven knows the internet has more than its fair share of people self-diagnosing themselves), but sometimes I wonder about me too.


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