Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A silver medallist in a women's race took a "gender test" and failed.

She's not a man and she's never had a sex change. She has "abnormal chromosomes." Abnormal enough for her to be stripped of her medal.

So, what? She took too much man-ness across the finish line? That's considered an unfair advantage? In the future, will sex be determined by footrace?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Released February 8, 2005:


. . . and released December 5, 2006:


My prediction for next year:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Senator Tim Johnson's recent medical troubles have forced a lot of people to look at the fragility of the new Democratic majority in the Senate. It's got me to thinking . . . there are a lot of senators. Do you suppose a right wing nut, similar to the one who mailed white powder to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Jon Stewart recently, might decide assassination of a senator might not be so hard to pull off?

Good morning.

So I've got myself a headache. The past couple days, my aunt and I have been tending to Victoria the cat. The experience has taught me that I can never be in any medical profession.

Victoria's got a tube in her neck right now, whereby my aunt and I put food, medicine and water into the kitty. Doctors still don't have any idea why she won't eat. She just seems to not want to. Whenever I put food in front of her, she looks at me like I've made some juvenile joke she's in no mood for.

And I just don't seem to have a head for keeping track of the various medicines and when they need to be administered and how. It's a struggle--I constantly have to re-read the instructions, and frequently have to start over, cutting the pill, crushing it, warming the water, putting the pill powder and water together and into the syringe, and go.

At least she's started passing waste again. Well, it didn't seem like such a good thing when I opened the door to her room yesterday and discovered the diarrhoea-scape. After much scrubbing, I managed very little cleaning. Then my aunt came home and took a crack at it and somehow got that white carpet spotless again. But oh, the time consumed. I went to Tim's last night to numb my brain with Oblivion a bit, but that was the first day in about a week I hadn't worked on the "Moving Nameless" fanfic, which is now at twelve pages. So I think I'm mainly doing well. Except for the fact that I still have most of my Christmas shopping to do . . .

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In 1986, Bob Briggs was director at the Cetacean Institute in Sausalito when Doctor Gillian Taylor, the institute's assistant director, disappeared.

These days, Bob manages a Denny's in Bakersfield. He and I recently sat down over All-American Slams and coffee to discuss Dr. Taylor.

How long did you know Gillian Taylor?

A long time. She and I went to school together. We got our degrees in cetacean biology the same year. We were close, we studied together several times. She was sort of my, you know.

Girlfriend?

(laughs) I guess you could call it that.

What do you remember about Dr. Taylor's behaviour, shortly before she disappeared?

Well, she'd been acting pretty emotional and, you know, out there for a while. It was like she was going through early menopause or something. She would yell at me and then be really quiet for a long time. Is menopause the right word?

Er, 1986 was also the year the Cetacean Institute released George and Gracie, the only humpback whales ever held in captivity.

Yeah. Yeah, well, we'd been taking a lot of heat from the fishing authorities and a few liberal groups for holding the two whales.

Yes, my notes say there was a lot of concern regarding the tank. At only 15 thousand cubic metres, there wasn't even enough room for the whales to turn around.

Oh, that wasn't really the problem. The problem was money. We couldn't afford all the shrimp we had to dump in there to keep them alive. Gillian had a . . . Well, she was really emotional about seeing the whales go. She loved those whales--she'd stand over the tank and talk to them sometimes. I think she really thought they loved her. I should've seen the red flags, in retrospect.

You think her disappearance was directly related to her feelings for the whales?

Well, I don't know, but it would be a real big coincidence if it wasn't, right? I tried to soften the blow when--when we knew we were going to have to release them. I said to her one day, it's not like they're people. It's never been proven they're that smart.

How did she react?

She flipped out. Told me she didn't--how did she put it?--how much she cared for someone--it wasn't based on her estimate of their intelligence. It was sort of embarrassing. It was like she really thought those whales were her kids, or--or something.

You're referring to her status as a registered sex offender. Those kids she'd allegedly molested a few years earlier.

Uh, maybe, I mean, I don't know. The judge had been pretty easy on her, I guess because she was a woman, but I figure, she was a little fragile. I think not being around kids she transferred her--her obsession to the whales. It's weird because she was very religious.

So she didn't want to be parted from the whales? Even if it meant keeping them in those conditions?

We took good care of those whales, okay? I don't want anymore--I don't want to hear anymore about that. But, yeah, she--she was really paranoid near the end. She seemed to think whalers were going to immediately find them out there. Of course, maybe they did--we lost track of the whales pretty quick, even though we'd tagged them.

When was the last time you saw Dr. Taylor?

Just after George and Gracie had been removed. We'd kept secret from her the real removal time, so she was really surprised when she showed up for work to find them gone.

Why did you keep her in the dark?

She'd been so, like I said, hysterical lately, we didn't want to deal with her. And I figured if she had to watch them go, I'd have to watch her bawling . . . Boy, was she pissed. She slapped me. Called me a son of a bitch, last time I saw her. You know, I was her boyfriend for eleven years and we never even got to second base? I tell ya--well, I guess she's gone now, so. That's that.

Er, yes. Well, thank you for talking to me to-day. I'll let you get back to work.

It was nice talking to you.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Here's my ranking of the 2006 movies I've seen (though imdb lists some of these as 2005--even V for Vendetta which came out in May 2006). Looks like it was a year of mostly bloody, unhappy drama and broad satire;

1. Tideland
2. The Proposition
3. The Departed
4. The Prestige
5. Marie Antoinette
6. Casino Royale
7. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
8. Clerks 2
9. Art School Confidential
10. An Inconvenient Truth
11. The Illusionist
12. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
13. Hard Candy
14. Little Miss Sunshine
15. V for Vendetta
16. Superman Returns
17. Friends with Money

Two movies didn't make the list because I didn't like them enough;

The Devil Wears Prada
Bobby

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Even if size doesn't matter, this is still pretty unfortunate for Indian men, I must say. Indian men are going to be taking so much shit now.

I was fantasizing to-day about interviewing Diddy and asking him, "Is it all right if I call you 'Penis'?" When he said no, I was going to go on, "Okay. So who's diddling your diddy these days? Your uncle?" Every question would in some way make reference to the fact that his new name sounds like a word a paedophile would use to refer to a little boy's penis.

Just thought I'd share. Victoria the cat's home and still not eating, but at least she used the litter box. The doctors say she was eating the kitten food they gave her, so my aunt's going to buy some of that. Victoria does seem happier, though. She purrs when I pet her.

Now I've got eight and a half pages done on the fanfic thing. I still haven't thought of a title. The two main contenders right now are Moving Innocent and The Two Loves of a Nameless Lady. Part of me wants to go with The Two Loves of What's-Her-Name. I want something intriguing without sounding stuffy and self-important. I'll keep thinking.

I still need to do Christmas shopping. Yes, I declared war on Christmas. But I see no reason not to abuse the native customs of my conquered island.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let's see . . . There's been some cat drama around here lately. Victoria the cat's been in the hospital for a few days since we noticed she'd stopped eating and using the litter box, and was throwing up what little we could get her to swallow. The doctors still aren't precisely sure what's wrong with her. They thought it might be a fatal virus causing a liver problem, but now they seem to think it's a liver problem caused by stress and change of diet--my aunt had changed the cats' food three times in the past couple months in the hopes of getting them to lose weight. And stress may indeed have been a factor, since Victoria seemed to get bad after I'd taken her in to get her claws capped and she'd had a nasty encounter with a candle when I brought her home. She'd seemed very affectionate when I brought her out of her carrier, but unfortunately she decided to rub her face on the leg of a wobbly three-legged table on which my grandmother had decided to put two skinny, wobbly candles, one of which immediately fell and struck Victoria between the shoulders like an arrow.

Yes, the cats here have capped claws. It's better than declawing, but it does kind of bug me that my grandmother's so Republican about her furniture as to put the couch's welfare over the cats'. Taking Victoria in, I reflected on how Republican mentality helps make the world a shitty place in even little ways. Yeah, I'm a partisan motherfucker. So much for my presidential run.

Here're Keith Olbermann and Sam Seder discussing the Wondrous Lesbian Cheney and Her Babe of Hypocrisy. Every time I wonder if Stephen Colbert is a straw man, all I need to do is remind myself of the elephant horse jockey. Or the vicar in a tutu, if I want to reference Morrissey.

For some more food for thought, here're several people patiently explaining to Deepak Chopra that it's not absurd for a brain to want a banana. Sometimes I think religious people just need more hobbies. It's disappointing--I'd pegged Chopra as being more benign than that.

Well, I think I'll go work on that "Moving Nameless" fanfic while listening to Olbermann. Progress has been a little slow--I've only gotten seven pages done. But then, part of me thinks this is a transitory period that needs to be slow and contemplative. Never underestimate the usefulness of daydreaming, I always say . . .

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Decemberists counterattack Stephen Colbert! Green screens everywhere are burning!

I'm not a Nelly Furtado fan, but this was pretty damned funny, inasmuch as it pretty much confirms that many of our modern vocal talents aren't especially, well . . . talented.

Friday, December 01, 2006

That wacky Orson Scott Card is at it again. I've never read Ender's Game, but it baffles me this guy ever wrote anything that some people I respect consider to be intelligent.

I finally got a chance to see Final Fantasy XII yesterday--Tim bought the game and I watched him play for a couple hours. It seems pretty good. A lot of the gameplay has gone very MMORPG, Tim tells me--something it inherited from FF XI. I haven't played any MMORPGs, so I can't say if I think it's a good thing. I do rather like that there are apparently no random encounters now.

I was struck by a few similarities to Final Fantasy IX, like the emotion symbols above people's heads to indicate types of available interaction. And the villain is reminiscent of Kuja--though he's not as sexually ambiguous, he's certainly as vain. In fact, is name is Vayne.

I find it a little amusing that the protagonist's name is Vaan, so it seems to be a matter of Vaan v. Vayne. "V, V, V,", "Evey, Evey, Evey." Okay.

I was disappointed to see that Nobuo Uematsu isn't in charge of the music, though two of his themes appear at the beginning. Including, I was very cheered to note, the theme to Final Fantasy, which traditionally appears in the end credits of every game, but was conspicuously missing from Final Fantasy X. I guess they put it at the beginning of the new one to make up for it.

Well, that's that. So who's ready for Final Fantasy XIII?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

File this in the great big bin of Sci-Fi Channel bad ideas; The Wizard of Oz "re-imagined" as boring crap. Apparently it's supposed to be dark and hip--post cyberpunk, you might say, or cyberpunk without all the bothersome weirdness.

What the fuck. I've had tapioca pudding more exciting than the way these television producers think. Dorothy Gale's now "DG"? DG? Seriously, I see that and I think, "Donkey Gong."

At least last night's Heroes was kind of good. I didn't make a big effort to catch it so I missed the first ten minutes. But it was a little better. I still think Sylar was Claire's buddy. I pretty definitely saw a different face under that hat.

On a much brighter note, I finally saw The Departed on Sunday. What a great example of a modern film noir--oddly clever tough guy dialogue, existential and fatalistic themes, and even a little expressionistic camerawork. The actors were all good, too. Jack Nicholson was essentially reprising the Joker, only with more opportunities for viciousness.

There's a lot I could say about movies if I wasn't so sleepy and needed to get up in five hours. I keep meaning to mention I saw Borat a few weeks ago and thought it was a brilliant, fascinating joke at the expense of some of the dumbest people in America. It was something of a safari through the wilderness of the small minded citizens here. As I said to a friend, it's one thing to hear about a tiger, but that doesn't prepare you for actually seeing one.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Declaration of War on Christmas

In the course of human societies and civilised communities of recognised sentient beings there may come, as now comes, just reason and cause for those of intellect and conscience to violently and firmly sever ties with a some time happy holiday.

Let an unbiased, objective, and alien universe observe the following grievances perpetuated by the period, between one and twelve earth days in the latter portion of the Gregorian year, known as Christmas, Yule, Christianica, and All Jesus Yam Feast (in this document henceforth referred to as Gluttonstice);

*) Aphrodisiac talismans of myriad wickedness in shape, flavour, and texture known as candy canes.

*) Enforced placement over residential fireplaces of sock-like garments symbolising the oppressive boot of Gluttonstice's Capitalist God King.

*) Copious forced ocular induced impulses to bloodshed in the form of red coloured objects pornographically draped on trees, stair rails, lamp posts, and children.

*) Grotesque mental degeneracy of Gluttonstice's currently elected president, Archduke Jesus Christ.

It is for these grievances that the forgers and signers of this declaration do hereby openly declare war on Gluttonstice, some time known as Christmas, effective November thirty, two thousand and six in the year of our Dancing Robot. This conflict shall be manifested by wilful replacement in retail establishments of "Happy Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" and cold denial of Christian hymns for the singing of in public schools.

Signed;

Commodore Superior Count Setsuled

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I dreamt a few nights ago that I was trying to retrieve a dead woman's head from a bird's nest, high in a large tree. As I was climbing up the tree, a voice from below warned me I would die if I even looked at the head. I looked down to see that the speaker was a Dia De Los Muertos style skull with red eyes glowing like Christmas tree lights. It was being carried by a little girl who seemed distracted. And that's all I remember.

I put aside the Big Project temporarily as I work on a piece of fanfic for Sonya Taaffe's "Moving Nameless", a short story found in her Singing Innocence and Experience. Maybe I needed to do this because this smaller project was a lot easier to get a full bodied grasp on, and thus, I think, get a better perspective on the comics making thing. The story came to me very naturally as I was reading "Moving Nameless" as both an argument against and an augmentation of some of that story's ideas. Then it seemed to flesh itself out on its own. Yesterday I finished doing the layouts and completed page one.

Robert Altman's dead. I feel sorry I didn't get a chance to see A Prairie Home Companion.

Last night I instead subsisted, sort of, on the new episode of Heroes, which was mostly so bad it put me in a rage. Here were characters I cared about from earlier, better episodes, suddenly made to speak in a language of agonising platitudes--"Believe in yourself!", "You're pretty special!", "Trust yourself and be happy!", "Popularity, blah, blah, blah!" GRAWR, I'm crushing your head, I'm crushing your head! Hey Claire, your best friend is Sylar when he wears a baseball cap . . . Er, okay, don't no-one notice. Why are you leaving Peter behind in a pool of his own blood? Oh, so you won't be allowed to go back to him. Why are we wasting time with this abrasive subplot about the annoying "spirit guide" kid accompanied by what I'm sure someone thought was an appropriately ethnic never-ending loop of hand played percussion instruments? Oh yeah, because it all sucks donkey kidney!

I ought to've known better than to start watching a show in which Jeph Loeb is in any way involved. At least from now on I can feel a little more informed about hating him.

Of course I'll be watching next week, though, like a schmuck . . .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Some of you might be wondering how the post-Boschen and Nesuko project is going. I'm basically pleased with the progress, though I have competing, nagging feelings that I'm either going too fast or going too slow. Fortunately, a grandmother has given me money for the dental work, so that's one worry off my mind.

I haven't actually done a page yet. I've written ten pages of what I aim to be a twenty four page script. Most of the work so far has been world-building. Though I find as I write the script itself, I quickly change such details to and fro, as it suits the story. But I am of the mind that some details ought to be immutable. I think it adds a sort of credibility to the story when some things are governed by unseen rules. That's why most of the details I've worked out might never been seen in the actual story, which was also the case with Boschen and Nesuko. Though Boschen and Nesuko had the advantage of taking place in a universe I'd been working on since I was thirteen or fourteen, so I am finding it somewhat difficult working out an equal amount of information over the course of a few months.

Right now I'm concentrating on character stuff, though. One character has already changed sex and had four name changes. I've got to scrub the moss from the stones before I can cross the river. I'm just a little afraid the stones will come loose in the process and disappear in the current.

I've seen a couple of movies recently. For a long time, my mother'd been wanting me to borrow her copies of Shopgirl and Cinema Paradiso, so I did.

I was surprised by how much I liked Shopgirl. The characters were very carefully drawn, and almost every moment of the movie, which seemed to have very little dialogue, was a perceptive comment on Mirabelle's relationships. Jason Schwartzman was particularly good, coming off as the sort of dippy guy we've all known, both for the purposes of comic relief, and for the purpose of being the Emotionally Disconnected Young Man.

Cinema Paradiso, on the other hand, was absolutely awful. Somehow it has mostly positive reviews, but I could not connect with this soppingly sentimental tale of an Italian kid loving movies, getting advice from a lovable old projectionist, falling in love with a pretty girl, going to school, and never once betraying a personality to the audience. It was certainly a movie in love with its own smell. I can't remember the last time I've seen a movie that listed its awards and nominations before the opening credits. What the fuck? I've already put the movie in. Are you so afraid I'm not going to like it you have to bully me?

Mainly I think the movie suffers from being part of an early 1990s indie movie vogue. Now the bully's grown up to become no-one and nothing. I can bet not half of the favourable reviews were written by people who've seen the movie in at least a decade.
Who saw it coming?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Every now and then, I like to check in at Leia's Metal Bikini for the uber nerdiest of nerd pr0n, for it pleases me. But a few days ago, it showed me one of the biggest cop outs I've seen in months.

No, "Sonia". Just, no. If you feel you need to wear skin coloured underwear under your slave Leia costume, save us all some time and don't bother. Because I'm afraid you just don't get it. If I want to see dames in skivvies, I'll get myself a Victoria's Secret catalogue, thank you.

"But, oh," you might say, "the rigid costume does not cling protectively to my most shameful parts! Carrie Fisher even said that from certain angles you can see 'all the way to Florida'!"

Too bad! Wearing the metal bikini is a badge of honour. You think it's for everyone? You think Sally Woodennickel in Nebraska, square dancing and going on dates with Jim Bornagain is ready for the metal bikini? You think it's for every common rube with a Return of the Jedi special edition DVD? No. The metal bikini is for ladies of courage, commitment, and good, pure, perversion.

Now get the hell out of my office.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Guess what NES game I was playing a few moments ago? I'll tell you--it was this;



It seems to be a combination of a Castlevania game and a Super Mario Brothers game.

The hero is a thin gentleman with a black vest who can jump slightly higher than Mario. Mario-style question mark blocks yield weapons such as axes and what appear to be acorns that can be thrown rapidly.

Yes, obviously the game is none other than Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Now, here's something truly cool;

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So, wow, jeez, there hasn't been a Democrat controlled Congress since I was sixteen. I sure as hell didn't follow politics back then. I don't even know how to react now. I'm happy, I guess, though my pessimism isn't permitting me to be truly jubilant.

But poor Chris Matthews. I saw him come on at 2pm yesterday, and from what I understand, he was on all night. He was on when I finally switched to watching Nightmare Alley at 2am. And then, when I woke up at 1:30pm, I turned on the television to see Matthews talking live to John Murtha. He was screwing up more names, though--he referred to Rumsfeld as "Cheney" and actually called Murtha "Ted Kennedy" to his face, and didn't correct himself. Someone needs some sleep.

Okay, then, just quickly I'll bitch about television shows--I was bitterly disappointed by Monday's Heroes. I'd been cautiously enjoying the series so far, delighting that the characters were acting like people instead of plot pawns. But on Monday they turned into wind-up dolls of clich├ęs. There still wasn't a traditional plot laying down steel tracks, but suddenly everyone was behaving like stock characters, or reacting to other characters unlike any kind of character, just to keep the lame dialogue going. Like when Nikki mentions her bad dreams to her friend and her friend immediately snaps, "Everyone has bad dreams, Nikki." Who the fuck says that? And what's Nikki going to say--"Oh, yeah, that's true. I feel so much better." Even less pleasant was the stupid After School Special sibling drama with Claire--and that's after the previous episode's wonderful scene of her meeting her supposed biological parents.

I just hope this Jesse Alexander guy (or lady) doesn't write any more episodes.

My other complaint is an ultra-nerdy one about Robot Chicken. There's a show that's sometimes brilliantly funny, but at other times just seems to be thrashing dully about. The Super Mario Brothers bit was one of the latter cases. Wouldn't it have been much funnier if Mario had been able to break those bricks? Isn't their "pimped out" car exactly like Wario's? And why would they mistake a prostitute for the Princess? The sketch is predicated on the idea that innocent Mario world characters suddenly mixing with hardcore real world things is automatically funny. That's just lazy.

And Luigi oughta know the difference between a koopa and turtle by now. They're fundamentally different creatures.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To-morrow's Fox News headline?



I've already seen RNC chairman Ken Mehlman on CNN talking about flawed exit polls--before exit polls even started coming in. Left wingers have been pointing to a flawed voting system while right wingers talk about flawed polls (see Karl Rove's comment to NPR about "Your numbers and the numbers"). We may see some rhetoric table turning.

On another note, I just heard Chris Mathews inaccurately attribute the term "fearful symmetry" to Robert Blake.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I love how the commercials and trailers for The Da Vinci Code invariably show the old naked guy lying on his back with a spotlight on his crotch. The advertisers must think people love dead guy with the glowing penis. You know, something about that, Tom Hanks' stupid haircut, and the whole Da Vinci Code affair to me add to conjure the word "dildo". I don't know why exactly.

I oughta be talking more about movies. I saw Tideland, which is easily the best film I've seen all year and one of the best movies I've seen in my life. The movie started wonderful and just got wonderfuller as it went along.

The nine year old lead is amazing, I loved her, she was a believable kid, and I hate kids. So that was a little bit of amazing in itself. The movie features copious references to classic children's stories, chief among them Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with which the movie shares a similar tone. There're a bunch of pansy, insulated critics who're disgusted with the movie, but don't listen to them. If Tideland's playing on your continent or island, go see it.

Oh, and vote Democrat to-morrow.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I wish to now wish very belated happy birthdays to my November Third Three, Franklin, Moira, and Trisa. Of course, according to Enigmakat, it's also Gojira's birthday. So may you four have a glorious monster war over Tokyo.
Saddam Hussein was just sentenced to death for something he did one year before he shook Donald Rumsfeld's hand.

Red right hands clasp across the world, folks.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The final chapter of Boschen and Nesuko is up. So ends just over two years of that. Don't look forward to a cheery ending. Happy endings depress me, and I've already had a bad week.

One nice thing is the good reading material I've had. I started reading Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes on October 24, just after midnight. The fourth paragraph on the first page; "One year Halloween came on October 24, three hours after midnight."

And yet I somehow missed Halloween again this year--I feel quite bitter about it, too, as I admire photos my friends post in their blogs of their beautiful costumes.

Oh well. Maybe next year. I did freak out the guy wearing Marilyn Manson contacts at the Pizza Hut with my horrible, horrible teeth. I've been listening to The Pogues a lot lately, as thinking about Shane MacGowan's teeth makes me feel a little better.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Another wonderful trip to the dentist's yesterday and I've learned I have five cavities, infected gums, and some really nasty tooth decay. To fix all this would cost roughly two thousand dollars, which I don't have. So I guess it's a good thing this is the last chapter of Boschen and Nesuko I'm working on this week because I'm going to have to get busy trying to find some kind of paying job. All for my fucking teeth. It seems like such a stupid reason for my life to be so hugely disrupted. I'm starting to think about pliers again . . .

I'm going to assemble some work to submit to comic book publishers. I'll go down fighting, anyway.

John Kerry's taking a lot of shit to-day for a remark he made about people without the benefit of education being stuck in Iraq. Ring wing spin is calling it an insult to the troops. Yeah, because people who haven't graduated from college have all sorts of choices, and Military service certainly isn't marketed as an alternative, oh no.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A couple music videos I've enjoyed recently;



A wonderful institution continues to work its magic.
There's an interesting article on the Time website featuring a letter from an American soldier in Iraq. It seems lately there've been a lot of particularly gruesome descriptions coming from Iraq of the tortured and the dead and the social climate that produced them. I forget where, but I heard about a dog seen carrying a human head in its jaws, and I couldn't help being reminded of the early scene in Yojimbo (later paid homage to by David Lynch in his Wild At Heart) where a dog is seen carrying a human hand, indicating to the audience what a thoroughly bad town it was Sanjuro had wandered into.

I'm reminded of a story I've heard a few times about Yojimbo's director, Akira Kurosawa--of how, as a young boy, he and his brother survived a devastating earthquake. When they saw corpses in the flooded streets, Akira's brother told him not to look away because not seeing the truth would inevitably be more frightening.

So one of the things that interested me about the American soldier's letter is its reference to visiting VIPs and their sanitised visits to safe zones, "which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency . . ." He mentions Bill O'Reilly as being the biggest offender in painting a false picture of Iraq for American television.

Considering that the ruling party is so secure in its hold over the people's uninformed, and perhaps uninformable, collective imagination that it's comfortable reversing even its most keystone rhetoric and denying recorded past uses of it, it seems to me that there is a vast dark room a lot of people have shut themselves in that must be very frightening indeed.

It reminds me of David Bowie's Outside album, lyrics like, "Explosion falls upon deaf ears while we're swimming in a sea of sham."

I saw Marie Antoinette last week, Sofia Coppola's new movie, which I found to be a beautiful and generally enjoyable experience. A nice meditation on an atmosphere that perhaps didn't exist anywhere except in Sofia's camera. A number of the reviews I've read talk about how the movie received boos from French audiences, so I read part of the entry on Marie Antoinette in Wikipedia this morning to try to find out why. I was actually struck most by some of the more neutral differences between the movie's accounting of events and Wikipedia's, such as the difference between whether or not Antoinette wanted to flee Versailles. Reality and the history of it seems an awfully fragile thing, and I'm impressed again by how the people who know less tend to be far more passionate. It seems to take rare guts for someone to stand up and say "I have no idea what I'm talking about . . . but I get the feeling that you don't either." (Which is what David Letterman said to Bill O'Reilly recently).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Will Wolf Blitzer finally live up to his peculiarly aggressive name?

Well, at most he could maybe be called "Puppy Nudger". I have a feeling the Cheneys look forward to the day when they can arrest and kill anyone they want--oh yeah, we already have that . . .

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I wasn't able to sleep at all due to the interesting tooth ache. I was seriously hatching a plan about walking to Wal-Mart and buying some pliers, maybe putting them in boiling water first, and using them on the molar after putting ice next to it for a while.

Fortunately, I called my mother first, who got me a prompt dentist appointment. She seemed unsurprised I was having tooth problems as I have very ugly teeth and most people don't believe me when I tell them I do brush.

Anyway, the kindly but oddly nervous dentist informed me that what I had was an infection and that he could either give me a root canal and a crown or simply remove the tooth. Since I wasn't spending my own money, I asked for the cheaper route, and I'm now one molar less. Since I have a false front tooth, a molar seemed like small potatoes.

I'm at my mother's house now--she asked me to stay here for some reason--and I have to routinely change the gauze, so I still can't sleep. I've been up since 2pm yesterday. But, gods, it's nice to have the pain gone.

I have infamously bad teeth, but the irony didn't occur to me until later that the book I brought with me to the dentist office was called Alabaster.
I finished reading Sonya Taaffe's Singing Innocence and Experience on Saturday. It was a very good and aptly titled collection of poems and short stories. They're tales of the supernatural and biological bizarre impacting individuals, told by an author excellent at conjuring images with words. Many of them are also stories of innocence either resisting experience, rationalising its way out of experience, and sometimes meeting it and being damaged by it.

It was good stuff. I wish I could say more, but I have this monstrous tooth ache that's making it hard to think. Remember a few weeks back when I mentioned part of one of my molars had exploded? Well, on Saturday, I was eating a sandwich and part of it went down on what remains of the molar causing sharp, rather intense pain. It's since subsided into this constant ache, but it spikes back up whenever I accidentally chew with that side of my mouth.

I guess I'll have to figure out some way of getting a dentist to help me. Though hammering the tooth out like Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys sounds appealing just now.

Anyway, next I'll be reading Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, thanks to several people who recommended it . . .

Monday, October 23, 2006

On Saturday, I planned on driving up to Los Angeles to see Tideland, which is the closest place it's playing, and even there it's only playing at one cinema. But I decided I really didn't feel like driving around L.A., which always stresses me out. I still might face the gauntlet at some point, though, because I want to see that movie very, very badly. That's despite the many bad reviews I've read for it. In fact, the bad reviews only make me want to see it more.

Instead, though, I went on Saturday to see The Prestige, which was mostly an absolutely brilliant film. Fine directing, acting, costumes, set design, and writing--gods, the writing was so much better than Batman Begins--all added together for a great movie.

Christopher Nolan oughta be chained to his brother and never let David Goyer take his place ever, ever again.

Anyway, I won't talk much about specific plot details as there is a surprise ending of sorts. Though I guess the one problem I had with the film is that I was able to figure out the surprise ending halfway through. Not a problem in itself, except that I couldn't believe that none of the characters in the movie would've realised it too. Which is too bad, because otherwise the characters are very intelligently drawn.

Fortunately, the movie isn't dependent on something so trite as a twist ending. Memento, a previous film of the Nolan brothers', was criticised for a structure gimmick that supposedly made second viewings inferior, and The Prestige might garner a similar criticism. I have to say I don't agree in either case. I watched Memento again a few weeks ago and I must say I believe it's still the best film noir of the past decade.

And The Prestige is a great story about obsession, the value of illusion, and art.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. Special guest stars include Caitlin, Sonya, Arina, Mella (with a nod to Edward Gorey), and Barbara Bel Geddes in a strapless bra (sort of a do it yourself kind of thing).

Yesterday I wondered why I smelled so bad and realised I hadn't showered in four days. Yes, a time and attention consuming chapter this was. I was colouring Nesuko at one point and abruptly stood up and walked out into the dark hallway for some coffee, only to be confronted by the bright after-image of Nesuko's angry face. It was a slightly spooky moment.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Apparently President Fuck W. Face can now imprison and put to death anyone he wants.

No, I'm not kidding.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm working on what promises to be a particularly time-consuming Boschen and Nesuko, yet I somehow managed to finish Sunday's page at midnight. I decided to eat at Denny's to celebrate, but now I'm not sure what to do with these sudden bonus hours. I'm worried that by the time I get used to it, it'll be time for me to sleep, and I won't want to get started on Monday (technically to-day, I know. C'mon, you know how I live).

Yep, finished early, even after frivolous possum talk earlier to-day. Friday and Saturday I didn't finish until 4am . . . I guess I'll watch a movie. I sort of want to watch The Hidden Fortress again, but it's probably too long. Maybe I'll watch an episode of Farscape or Sherlock Holmes and play some video games.

I borrowed Baldur's Gate 2 from Tim a while ago, but I haven't been playing it much because there's some kind of bug whose patch I can't seem to find online. It's a bug that significantly impedes my progress in the game. Instead, I've been playing Castlevania III and Zelda II. Yeah, I like Zelda II. What of it? You wanna fight?

For music lately, I've been listening to the Neil Gaiman tribute album, Where's Neil When You Need Him?, the title coming from a Tori Amos song called "Space Dog" off Under the Pink. This new tribute album doesn't feature "Space Dog", but it does feature Tori singing her "Sister Named Desire", as well as tracks for Neil by Rasputina, Thea Gilmore, Voltaire, Future Bible Heroes, The Cruxshadows, and others.

A band called Hungry Lucy does a song for Wolves in the Walls that sounds to me like it could be a political rallying cry against our Republican controlled government, with lines like, "They came from the walls/They tortured us all/And drove us away from our home."

Anyway, I think Gaiman ought to be awarded Stephen Colbert's Balls for writing these liner notes for Tapping the Vein's "Trader Boy";

"Sometimes you have a great idea that nobody else ever had and then you invent fire or the wheel or outer space or something . . . . and the idea of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish was one of those perfectly-shaped ideas."

Wow. The next time I'm chastising myself for being arrogant, I'll just remind myself of how happy and successful a guy Neil Gaiman always seems to be.

Speaking of Stephen Colbert, I pity any Star Wars fan who missed this Colbert Report;

Thursday, October 12, 2006

You know what would make you a better person?

Try this;



It was pretty much Caitlin's idea. She's brains.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"As I look at an Ozu film, I often times feel very contemplative and relaxed. When I leave an Ozu film, I feel rested and at peace. And frequently with modern Hollywood films, when I leave the theatre I feel a sort of disquiet; I've been all wound up, my emotions have been pitched to a very high level for a long time with no release--except the end of the film. So Ozu's films are very contemplative, very peaceful."
-Roger Ebert, from his DVD commentary for Yasujiro Ozu's Floating Weeds.

Last week I got into a fairly heated discussion with Owl about movies. Owl had said that she didn't like movies at all, and I was a bit flabbergasted. It resulted in me arguing a little more forcefully than I ought to've, thereby accomplishing nothing as Owl seemed to increasingly become too hurt to hear what I had to say in defence of movies and my belief that it is an art form.

I'm not a particularly volatile guy, but one thing I can get fanatical about is art, and particularly movies, which are my favourite kind of art. When I was in seventh grade (around 13 years old, for non-Yank readers), during a classroom discussion about art during the Renaissance, one of my classmates asked the teacher what was the point of art, asking why people poured energy and resources into it that might be better spent on other things. I immediately replied, "Because art makes life wonderful!"

Mind you, I almost never said anything in class, and was never a good student, but this got me going. I launched into a tirade before the astonished teacher and class. Later, during a parent/teacher conference, I heard my teacher explaining to my mother that it was clear to him that art was I what I was entirely concerned with, and that's why I didn't do very well at anything else; nothing else mattered to me.

It's probably still a fair assessment, though I'd probably say that art simply matters more to me than anything else.

I often find myself quoting Oscar Wilde's preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray; "All art is quite useless." The whole preface is dead on, in my opinion, about the importance of art, but that last line in particular. The use of art is that it is useless; unlike religion, art proscribes nothing. It reveals, and if anyone's doing any proscribing, it's you. In fact, when art tries to tell us what to do, it invariably fails to work on intelligent people; they realise the lie instantly. Because most people prefer to figure things ought for themselves, art plays an important function in not, in its essence, forcing philosophies upon us. It's possible to completely disagree with an artist's beliefs while still enjoying his art. It's finding truth through beautiful complexity, and that excites me.

Anyway, I had little time to do much of anything last week but work on Boschen and Nesuko. Despite the fact that the newest chapter doesn't look nearly as good as the previous chapter, in my opinion, it actually took a lot more colouring than I expected, simply for the large quantity of characters. But I did listen to movie commentaries while working, and Roger Ebert's statement, which I quoted above, struck me as being strangely prescient; one of Owl's complaints about movies--and she specifically singled out Hollywood movies--was that they were considerably more stressful, and less "wholesome" than nature.

I doubt an Ozu picture would convert Owl, but it was a so oddly relevant statement, I felt like sharing it anyway.

Ebert also spoke about Ozu's commitment to style above more mechanical and standard conventions of plot and even continuity. Ozu believed every shot ought to be a beautiful composition in itself, something one might conceivably want to hang on a wall. And his camera never moved--never panned, never zoomed; nothing. The movie is literally a series of moving pictures.

1934's A Story of Floating Weeds and, the remake, 1959's Floating Weeds (both directed by Ozu), are about a travelling Kabuki company coming to a small town. The company's master has a son with a local woman, but it's a secret to his mistress, an actress with the company. Here are few screenshots from both movies;




An opening shot from the 1959 film juxtaposes a lighthouse and a bottle.

Later in the film, the shot is mirrored by this one, with father and son in place of the bottle.

Machiko Kyo as the mistress. Ozu frequently liked to place something red in the lower righthand corner of the image.

A shot Roger Ebert particularly liked; it lasted less than a second.

The umbrella in a later scene, as the master and mistress argue after she's discovered his secret family.

The same scene in the older film.

The mistress asking a younger actress to seduce the master's son.

The same scene in the older film; the black and white picks up the glittering head ornaments a bit better.

The young actress meets the son by a dark tree.

In the 1959 version, the two sit together at a shipyard. Here's an example of Ozu caring more about composition than continuity between shots. Watch the red boat;





Ozu's movies contained many "pillow shots"; lingering, quiet shots of props and places between scenes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A little while ago, Jamey was asking people to name their favourite Christmas song. I assumed someone else would mention mine, but to my great surprise, no-one did. So here it is;



I happen to know it's one of David Bowie's favourites, too.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hello! A confirmed Aries greets you from Mars!

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. Special guest stars include Caitlin, Sonya, Robyn, Arina, and lots of women's breasts. Some of which might be yours. I'll let you find out on your own.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Let it not be said that I don't know how to spend money. I had a little extra this week, and already I'm down to about twenty dollars.

Last night alone I spent a hundred dollars; off Amazon I ordered Caitlin R. Kiernan's Alabaster and To Charles Fort with Love, and I also pre-ordered her Daughter of Hounds. And I ordered Alan Moore's Lost Girls. All these lovely books, and I don't even have time to-day to read the new Sirenia Digest, though I've been especially looking forward to this one.

I also bought a lot of movies this week; Akira Kurosawa's Stray Dog, both of Yasujiro Ozu's Floating Weeds movies, I got the aforementioned first season of DuckTales, and, on the same day, a nifty twenty dollar two-pack of Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers.

It was only last night that I realised I'd gotten for myself a little cinematic tour of Japan's roller-coaster evolution in the twentieth century. First I watched Ozu's A Story of Floating Weeds. Made in 1934, it's easily the oldest feature length Japanese film I've seen. I was amazed at the apparent utter lack of western influence on the clothing and manners of characters in the movie. Except for the telephone lines and trains, the events in the film may've taken place at any point in the preceding two hundred years. Yet the story, about a travelling entertainer ashamed to let his son know of his profession, seems to highlight a movement in Japanese culture away from its traditional class system.

Being accustomed to the only sparingly sentimental films of Kurosawa, it was a little strange and slightly uncomfortable watching an unabashed melodrama like A Story of Floating Weeds, and it didn't seem at all strange to me that young Kurosawa was not a fan of Ozu, and in fact often worked against Ozu's sentiments. But taking A Story of Floating Weeds as, it is, a silent film, its melodrama doesn't seem exceptionally overwrought compared to the silent films of America from just a few years earlier. That this Japanese film was made as a silent a few years after talkies had become the norm in Hollywood suggests to me that cinematic imports in Japan were likely slightly outdated.

But the movie does have a genuinely interesting visual style. Most frames could be beautifully elegant photographs by themselves, and there's an interestingly lingering pace; there are many still shots of props and landscape features, which seem to serve as a counterpoint of ambiguity to the film's scenes of steamroller sentimentality.

Next watching Kurosawa's Stray Dog was a startling contrast. Made in 1949, the film has a great deal of documentary style footage of the unmitigated squalor of post-World War II Japan as Detective Murakami, played by an almost unrecognisably young and skinny Toshiro Mifune, searches Tokyo's dregs for his stolen gun. The movie's events take place during a spat of unseasonably hot weather, and the sight of Takashi Shimura constantly mopping sweat from his face and the lingering shots of scantily clad showgirls crammed into a small room, doing nothing but lying around and sweating, seem to heighten an air of oppressive demoralisation. It's in this atmosphere we see Murakami feeling an increasingly unbearable guilt as his stolen gun becomes responsible for one murder after another, and a girl named Namaki combating herself over her own attachment to the murderer. Both Murakami and the murderer are war veterans, and a none-too subtle parallel is drawn, showing the two separated by a very thin line of desperation.

Watching Lost in Translation next provided a view of Japan yet again massively transformed. Tokyo in the Sofia Coppola movie bears no resemblance to the hell hole in Stray Dog, but I could see similarities to the city in Ikiru, where a massively crowded and gaudy nightlife can already be seen, as well as strange vertical pinball games that seem to be the ancestors of the clamouring forest of video games Scarlett Johansson wanders through.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Anyone wondering why I've been so quiet lately? Observe;



Yep. Sad, isn't it? I maintain it's more than nostalgia; that game's genuinely addictive. Anyone remember where the whistle is?

But on the subject of recapturing my youth, I bought the first season of DuckTales to-day.

IT DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PILOT EPISODE.

Sheesh. First The Path to 9/11 and now this. Why is Disney so stupid lately?

Still, I watched the episode "Send in the Clones" this evening and I marvelled at what an anomaly DuckTales must've been in 1987. The animation and general storytelling are so many light-years better than its contemporaries.

I wish it wasn't Thursday.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

If you haven't already, I recommend watching this interview with Bill Clinton on FOX News. I wanted to post a YouTube embed, but YouTube only has pieces of the interview uploaded by right-wingers hoping to paint the interview as Clinton getting irrational and antagonistic. It's actually a case of FOX's Chris Wallace getting completely owned.

I don't know very much about Clinton's bad points because I wasn't really interested in politics until Bush took office (the asshole big enough blow my antennae against my skull). But the interviews I've seen recently with him on The Daily Show, Keith Olbermann, and now FOX, sorely make me wish he was still president.

This is a case of truthiness striking again, and it's cause to realise again that Colbert's imitation of the NeoCon mentality may be funnier than the real thing, but is not exaggeration of it. You'll see that, preceding the interview, Chris Wallace mentions it's complete and unedited, as though Clinton did something that's embarrassing in the raw footage. At first I wondered if Wallace was simply trying to delude himself in consolation, but then I realised it was also another stitch of broad, community consensual truthiness--He gives it to the FOX News viewers so they can say it to themselves now, until it becomes "true." The same idea was behind the ABC documentary. It's obviously rational for Clinton to bring up the documentary, but for the clan of brainwashed behind Wallace, it probably seemed like a pathetically irrelevant reference.

On the subject of television, last week I made a bit of an effort to see more of it. A poll on Franklin's journal showed me how deprived I was as I was unable to choose a favourite character among current shows for my universal inexperience with them. So on Monday, I caught the premiere of Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was pretty good; intelligently written with interesting characters and good actors to play them. It seems to almost be a thoughtful ode to Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show. I suppose there'll be some comparisons to Sports Night, but it seems to be carrying some political sensibility from The West Wing.

Next, I finally caught an episode of House, which both Arina and Franklin seem to dig. I thought it was decent, and I liked that Joel Grey was in the episode I saw. The show centres on the eccentric and brilliant Dr. Gregory House who, like many eccentric and brilliant television doctors before him, often comes up with the out of left field solution no-one else could see. It seemed to me that, in this case, the effect was mainly achieved by dumbing down the other characters. But that's probably pretty common--for the writer to be an uncannily ingenious doctor might be slightly much to ask. House is distinguished by some humour and dynamic energy from its star. It wasn't a bad hour.

Later that night, I saw Boston Legal. It would take a fierce effort of will for me to dislike that show, written by David E. Kelley, creator of two shows I enjoyed in the past (Ally McBeal and The Practice), and starring a small army of actors I like; James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen, Rene Auberjonois, Parker Posey, and that night's episode featured Michael J. Fox. And yet, I think I have a little David E. Kelley fatigue. In one episode I saw the familiar pattern--a bizarre case comes up, leading to a "surprisingly" thoughtful revelation in the courtroom about life or law. That's fine, except when, as in the episode in question, the bizarre circumstance seems a little too contrived and ridiculous, robbing the resolution of a great deal of weight.

But sometimes it does work. The number of characters, though, makes me wonder whether it's suffering from the same disease that brought down Ally McBeal; introduce a new, Quirky (tm) character, until the bag of quirks is empty, at which point we bring on another Quirky (tm) character, until . . .

Anyway, on Thursday I caught two shows I'd seen before, and liked, but hadn't been keeping up with; My Name is Earl and The Office.

As I'd suspected it might, the initially mildly decent My Name is Earl has grown better with age, primarily capitalising on the chemistry between Jason Lee and Jaime Pressly. Though it'd be a lot better if the two talented stars could lose those annoying accents.

The Office, however, easily puts Earl to shame. The Office is persistently funny while maintaining an atmosphere of consistent place and character so rarely seen in sitcoms. It does what usually only good comedy movies do--creates distinctive fools we care for, makes them do ridiculous things, while providing a nice overall shape to the episode. Steve Carell's brilliant in it, but so's everyone else, either by skill or good casting. This and Studio 60 were easily the two winners of last week's foray.
Splode.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up.

One of the few weeks I got ahead of schedule, and it was thwarted when I had to spend time with a visiting relative on Wednesday and Thursday. I finished all pencil and ink by Wednesday, but I underestimated the amount of colouring that needed to be done. I was colouring last night until my head started hurting in a disconcerted way that said, "Er! Why am I not on a pillow, right now?!"

Anyway, enjoy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

You will beg for mercy. You won't get it.

I'm tired. I wouldn't have gotten up so early, except I was extremely hungry.

I haven't had time for much of anything because I've been so caught up with Boschen and Nesuko since some time last week, er . . . Yeah, I pencilled and inked the first page on Thursday, and then, for no reason at all, did two pages on Friday. So I'm now two pages ahead of schedule. It's only Monday, I've five done, and I'm already thinking about the next chapter. I suppose this is all because I'm only a few chapters away from finishing.

So there's not much to talk about here. I mentioned Nazis to Sonya last night, and was dismayed to see, almost immediately afterwards, this article about Neo-Nazis recently winning some elections in a small part of Germany.

Then I watched an episode of Firefly. I'm finding it a hard series to rewatch. I see too many seams. The episode "Shindig" made it particularly hard for me to suspend my disbelief. There're something like a billion and one ways in which that ball looked phoney, from Inara's mannerisms to Kaylee's sudden stupidity. I'm sorry, I just don't buy that Kaylee wouldn't feel out of place in that dress right from the get-go.

But last night I watched "Safe", which worked a lot better, except for the ending where Simon lays down five guys with his meat hooks and then asks about fifteen motionless people to light him and River on fire, without even trying to set her loose himself.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

There were some tiny, hard white chips in my mouth to-day, and I realised it was probably connected with the molar on the right side of my mandible that has become strangely sharp edged in recent weeks. I wonder how it happened.

As I was trying to get to sleep on Tuesday morning, the new Boschen and Nesuko script practically wrote itself in my head. But I waited until I'd slept before actually writing it, knowing better than to trust my sleepy brain with words. I'm glad I waited because more came to me and by the end of Tuesday I had a Boschen and Nesuko script I was happier with than I've been with a script in a long time. Of course, how much I like a script has tended to have almost no correlation with the quality of the finished chapter, but at least it's got me happy, and it pushed me to get the page layouts done to-day. So I'm officially one day ahead of schedule on the new Boschen and Nesuko chapter. To-morrow's Thursday, so I think I'll slack off.

Talk about the movie Crash--the real Crash, the one directed by David Cronenberg--prompted me to watch it again last night. I didn't realise how perfectly in the mood I was for that movie until I was in the middle of watching it. I needed something perverse and cool.

At the same time, there's something about it that strikes deep memories of impressions for me. It sort of makes me feel like a kid. It really seems to capture mysterious nights, riding in the backseat of a car, listening to rain and cars outside and seeing blurred brake lights and mist. I find it a very soothing film, all the more so for how cold and unsympathetic it is.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I didn't think the 9/11 anniversary would put me in an especially sombre mood. Though, even all the way in San Diego, I felt some of the horror on the day. But the anniversaries usually don't get me.

I felt differently after I saw this clip from September 20, 2001's Daily Show on Robyn's journal, which I don't think I'd seen since 2001. I thought back to how I read William S. Burroughs on 9/11 because, being used in that period of life to emotional lows, I found that Burroughs was one of the few writers I could read in moments of despair that didn't make me feel worse.

Anyway, the sombre feelings to-day continued when I saw clips from this recent Matt Lauer interview with President Bush on Keith Olbermann's show, and I noticed how neatly the interview conveyed what a truly scary guy Bush is.

On Friday, Bill Maher said it was our patriotic duty to make fun of Bush. I say; yeah, for starters.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I feel sort of bad about Steve Irwin. Not really bad for Irwin. Just bad about him. I think I kind of sympathise with the stingray. Well, not really. I guess the stingray's probably forgotten all about it by now.

What I mean is, I was never really a Steve Irwin fan, and it seemed to me he was rather rude to the animals he handled, and what he got was probably his just desserts. But he always seemed like a big, giggly, innocent baby. Not like Scott McClellan, Dick Cheney, or Supreme Captain Cheidin, who are like evil babies. I got the impression Irwin only barely understood the difference between right and wrong, and that he was just trying to cuddle with everything remotely fuzzy and cute simply because he had a huge gooey heart. He ought to have known better, but I don't think he did.

So, yes, the stingray had every right in the world the put its barb in that great doughy pump. But it seems to me less a battle of good versus evil than a battle of panicked versus stupid.

If any of you have ever wondered about my dislike for children, know that I regard them as, at best, miniature Steve Irwins and, at worst, as small Ku Klux Klansmen. Children are very intolerant.

What was my point, though? Oh, yeah. I feel bad about his death. I guess I feel silly sods ought to have a place to tumble and play without worry. What Irwin needed was a day-care centre for people his age.

I guess, if there is a heaven, that's basically what heaven is; the great day-care centre in the sky. Guests are neutered, spayed, and de-clawed in so perfect a fashion as to be inoffensive to them. And they wear armour so perfect as to be completely unnoticeable.

Before you say, "No! Zounds, this is not heaven, this is The Twilight Zone!" I'll say, "Well, anything less and it'd just be a pretty good life, not heaven." And you'd say, "But shouldn't heaven be a good life?" And I'd say, "Oh, sure, fine, if you don't like variety."

Friday, September 08, 2006

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. I shouldn't have bitched about the previous chapter--I think that's why a little part of my subconscious decided to make this chapter even harder to colour.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I've fought through my own sluggishness and pencilled to-day's page, and am halfway through inking it.

A few quick notes;

Poppy Z. Brite, whose home was destroyed by hurricane Katrina, has been screwed out of four thousand dollars by magazine publisher. As she says in her blog

"I'm not generally one to send out flying monkeys, but if you care to tell Mr. Griffith ( jgriffith@sacredhistory.org ) what you think of a "religious" magazine that cheats freelance writers trying to rebuild their lives after losing their homes, cities, and four months' worth of livelihood, or of a publisher who lies to respected literary organizations in order to save his failing magazine a few bucks, this would be a fine time to do it."

You know what to do.

And lastly, I want to note how much I like seeing Debbie Wasserman Schultz when I turn on C-SPAN.

I AM NOT BORING.

Glah, I feel slug-like to-day. But I got to the bottom of one mystery; the past couple days, I've felt curiously unfocused, as though I was lacking sleep, even though I was sure I'd gotten a solid eight hours each day. But as I was awakened by the arrhythmic pounding from upstairs this morning, I realised it was my grandmothers workmen each day waking me early, but for some reason my bleary morning proto-brain thought I was waking up because I wasn't tired anymore. I confirmed this by noticing I was starting to fall asleep in between rounds of hammer strikes. Yes, I know this ought to have been obvious to me.

And yesterday was Thursday, which didn't help matters. I went to Starbucks and read Sonya's "Nights with Belilah". It was a good, sexy, mysterious story about a guy named Theo who sees a girl named Clarity at a party and becomes a bit infatuated. Also there's some interesting stuff about a girl in a mirror. Maybe a fetch? I don't always catch all the mythological allusions Sonya makes. I sure wish I did. I'm not even sure "fetch" is the right word for what I think it is--I'm drawing on Dungeons and Dragons experience there, as in that game world a fetch was a sort of apparition that lives in mirrors.

Anyway, it was another example of Sonya's fine ability to craft mood and a narrative of emotions with words, in this case charting Theo being somewhat broken by his attraction to this removed female entity. It almost seemed like an exploration of intimacy found through remoteness. I must say I found Theo adorable, though, maybe more adorable than was intended, because he kind of reminded me of Harima Kenji in School Rumble.

To-day in her journal, Caitlin was saying, "My approach to plot has always been haphazard. I don't see plot in the world, in life, and so I am very reluctant to impose it upon my novels. Maybe this is some holdover from my years as a paleontologist, but I am very leery of mistaking actual patterns for patterns that are illusory and vice versa. Most plot is a sort of illusory hindsight, weeding out everything that actually happened and choosing to make a story from the bits that interest us. Synoptic history, I call it. I'm sure it's why I've had to deal with so many 'what happened?' complaints. I have always preferred to leave many of the 'what happened?' and 'why?' and 'how?' questions to the minds of my readers, while I concentrated, instead, on giving them real people and places and mood and atmosphere and subtext. I tend to want my books to unfold by the gradual accumulation of happenstance, the consequences of cause and effect, rather than by following some preordained plot."

I was sort of thinking along similar lines while reading "Nights with Belilah" yesterday. I think another way to put it would be to say that these writers are more concerned with most with what's happening now than with what's happening next. I noticed I kept reading not because I was interested in what was going to become of Theo, but because the writing was good and I wanted more good writing to read. There's something poetic about it. It's less like a melody and more like a series of related paintings in a gallery.

I suppose I oughta get working on my comic to-day before I lose all ability to be coherent. I want to say I finally got the new Double Indemnity DVD yesterday, though, which I watched despite being exhausted. It was wonderful seeing it without the filter of smooshy grey block pixels found on the bootleg copy from China I've had to subsist on until now. Those wonderful black shadows, bright shafts of light, and Mrs. Dietrichson's "honey of an anklet." Not to mention Billy Wilder's instinct with the camera and Raymond Chandler's excellent writing. I love the progression of the "down the line" simile. It starts off as plain as that, possibly referring to a line of anything. But as the movie continues, circumstances and the characters' subconscious slowly seem to mould the phrase to mean a trolley or train on a track, eventually reaching a cemetery and death. The mind of the movie seems to put it together like a person would.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I borrowed Baldur's Gate 2 from Tim last night, and I already like it a little better than the first one. For the most part, it's exactly the same--same interface, similar graphics, and several of the same characters. But the dialogue has been slightly better so far, and the characters seem to interact more. And although the NPC portrait art is slightly better than the images of oily people from 1, I was still very happy I was able to replace them with custom portraits.

For my own character, I found an antique drawing of Blackbeard the pirate on Wikipedia. I named the character "Goodbeard", deciding he was the pirate's reincarnation, out to redeem himself.

There were too many kids bouncing around at the Starbucks yesterday. Gods, I hate kids. Children ought to be pinned to cardboard backings in giant glass jars and not heard.

Still, I miss the presence of children in Oblivion. The Elder Scrolls games have been impressive endeavours to create big, functioning, beautiful worlds for your characters to explore, but they've gotten increasingly family-friendly, and as a consequence they feel less credible, even as the environments and A.I. grow more sophisticated.

How I miss Fallout 2. Not only were there children roaming the streets--including barefoot, homeless, pickpocket children--they were even killable. And there were drunks, and drug pushers, and crazy people who'd jabber at you senselessly. There were prostitutes you could not only hire for yourself, but also for your NPCs. And gambling and cussing and exploding bodies and yakuza . . . Gods, I hope Bethesda doesn't fuck up Fallout 3.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Life imitates comedy. Who the fuck are you, John McCain?

To-day I spent time at Starbucks working on a comics project. And I haven't done much else, except I read a little of Sirenia Digest.

I also discovered my current favourite anime series, Top o Nerae 2, is viewable on YouTube. The image quality is less than the series deserves, but considering it may well never be released in the U.S., I realise it's probably the best way some of you would be able to see it.

Here's the first half of the first episode.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Supposedly, a new DVD edition of Double Indemnity came out about a week ago, but you wouldn't know it if you, like me, checked Best Buy, Target, Fry's, Suncoast, and even Wal Mart. Last night I finally asked a guy at Tower Records.

"Double Indemnity? With Barbara Stanwyck?" he asked. Checking his computer, he found that four copies had been on order for over a week but still hadn't arrived. So instead, I picked up a ten dollar copy of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which I hadn't seen before, but which reliable sources had recommended.

It's John Ford, John Wayne, and James Stewart, so already you've got plenty of quality to make it more than worth seeing. And for the first 90% of its running time, it's well written and held my attention with interesting characters and a surprising, fascinating plot. The black and white photography is great--under Ford's sure hand, he made it beautiful and equal to any colour movie of 1962. It's elegant and has an antiquated quality, like moving daguerreotypes.

Unfortunately, the movie has a preposterous ending that felt extremely forced, as though the filmmakers suddenly looked at the clock and decided to wrap things up, pronto. Still, the above reasons made it a very worthwhile viewing.

I can see what the idea was--Stewart, as "pilgrim" attorney from the east, is meant to symbolise the approaching order and peace of civilisation, while Wayne's professional hero character, enforcing justice with a pistol and authoritative charisma, is part of the romanticised, raucous Old West. The movie's meant to be the rise of the former at the cost of the latter's inevitable demise. And it all works quite well until a political convention late in the film and a scene where Wayne's character confronts Stewart's about the shooting of Liberty Valance.

Those who've seen the movie know what I'm talking about. I ask you; considering Tom's social status in town, his somewhat erratic behaviour, and the changes he'd undergone since the event--would Ransom really have believed his story so whole-heartedly? Especially considering there was no reason at all for Tom to keep the secret?

Although, maybe the idea was that Tom had just made the whole thing up, and Ransom went along with it because it made a poetic sense. I didn't get the slightest impression the movie meant this, but I rather wish it had. I mean, I was absolutely loving the scene where Tom's house burned down . . .

Last week, I went with family to see an Andy Warhol exhibit at the art museum. I think there is something to be gained in seeing the soup cans and Mao Tse-Tung pictures in their natural, huge size. There were also a couple of Warhol's films playing, and I stood transfixed by Lupe, quite contented to watch Edie Sedgwick eating breakfast and floundering about a pretty room for about a half hour before dying with her head in a toilet. I only wish the tourists around me hadn't been so noisy. When they weren't all but heckling the movie from their ignorant and quaintly cynical perspective, they were staring at me, or walking between me and the screen. The place was loaded with people more interested in being able to say they'd been there than they were in actually being there.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. No special guest stars this time, just an old fashioned Boschen and Nesuko chapter.

This is one of those chapters that took loads of work but reads really quickly.