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Chris Magyar

Map Nerd Candy

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I'm a gigantic map nerd. My dream house -- or, in deference to my wife, who has much better ideas for what to do with a dream house, my out-of-the-way dream room -- will someday be decorated with all sorts of mappery, from ancient to modern to meta. Thus, I had a brilliant five-minute tea break this morning just watching this (silent) movie:

A few thoughts:

  1. We're so used to thinking of Poland as a victim state because of World War II, but check out how the Poles and Lithuanians rocked Eastern Europe for, like, ever.
  2. I think it's safe to say that, based on early returns, the UN and a general spirit of international cooperation have made Europe a much quieter place to live.
  3. This video could be subtitled: "Germany, what a mess."
  4. I didn't realize that Portugal has been playing a slow, elaborate game of peek-a-boo with the world for 1,000 years.
  5. Where's the one for Africa? Or, ooh, the Indian subcontinent?
  6. Another map I'd like to see (because I currently have an old-school, garishly colored scroll map of "The Rise of Christianity" dominating the wall above our dining room table) is the same time lapse with religions instead of city states.
  7. No matter who's running Russia, it's still Russia.

I think I love maps because they connect to my artistically awful relationship with the visual world. I have absolutely zero spatial perception; ask me to draw something, anything, and the best I can come up with is a shaky 2-D outline of the thing's vague thingness. But maps, as 2-D outlines of the world's vague thingness, speak to me. The combination of math and art hits a bullseye in my overly logical aesthetics. I think if were autistic, I'd be the kind who's always drawing mazes and counting the number of steps it takes to get somewhere.

For instance, I accompanied my friend Damian to the Austin Comic-Con on Saturday. He's a fantastic artist with great ideas for graphic novels, and he wanted to stroll the floor as inspiration and motivation to get his own book done so he can have his own booth there. A noble reason for mingling with cosplayers and washed-up actors if I've ever heard one. (By the way, for those who are curious, Billy Dee Williams is still living large and in charge.) Me? I just wanted to meet the co-writer of "Jack of the Fables" so I could tell him that his dialogue is really funny. I spent a good five minutes talking to him about his novels, and the circuitous path they took to publication. Even in a room full of people celebrating visual culture and all its glory, I'm going to be yakking with an author about the one book in the joint that's picture-free.

For another instance, my band (Chinaski's Habits, check it out y'all) had a gig this weekend at a very cool art collab on the East Side. (We were scheduled right between a burlesque dancer and a rap act, which is the description I will now use when people ask what we sound like.) It was a chilly day, and we were in a largish field next to the house, on a small stage isolated from any walls. It probably looked fantastic -- a band in nature -- but it kinda screwed with the idea of blasting acoustics in one direction, and it allowed the audience to watch us from 30 yards away. As a consquence, our energy was a little low, and I guess my mind started wandering. I pictured us from above, and started sketching in my head the plot of the property and the relative size of our stage on it. (I should mention now that I play keyboard, which requires, at most, two fingers at any given time. With proper rehearsal, my brain is barely required during the songs. Rock and roll!) I mentally drew our stage in blue, and the houses in red, and the field in a dull green (sage, I guess?), and the roads tar black. At one point, I started zooming away, like someone was clicking the (-) button on my mental Google Earth, and I became confronted with how little I knew about the terrain and layout of that area of Austin. Just as we were entering a really thrashing part of my favorite song, I had a sudden desire to hit up Faulk Central Library and pore over some Austin atlas from the 1950s, to see the evolution of the East Side.

I guess what I'm saying is, people like me probably don't deserve cool artsy hobbies like hanging out with comic book artists and being in a rock band. But life ain't fair. Just ask Poland.

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Maptagger 07/28/2015 13:09

No wonder why you receive countless of feedbacks.