Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving, people. At dinner last night (I had two Thanksgiving dinners!), everyone said what they were thankful for. The only thing I could think of was, "The internet."

So now I'm strangely sleepy. I may stop making sense, because I'm so sleepy, or because I've been reading Robyn's Evil Podiatrist.

This evening was spent with my sister decorating my mom's white Christmas tree with Fruit Loop colour lights. My mother wanted a tree different from every previous year. Personally, I still prefer green trees with red and gold decorations. Call me old fashioned. In fact I am.

Oh, yes, I like Christmas. In fact, this year promises to have a more Christmassy Christmas for me than usual. Because somehow, Christmas for me has always felt connected to vacuous, unknown territories, perhaps with tall robed figures chanting in the shadows.

I saw Walk the Line to-day. Joaquin Phoenix did a good job, especially considering he really didn't resemble Johnny Cash, particularly not in the late 1960s. But he did a good job emulating Cash's voice.

The story goes through the usual rock star biography waypoints, without ever truly painting complex people on its canvas--some childhood trauma, surprise success, divorce, drugs, love affair, getting clean . . . etcetera. The movie went to some pains to explain and make excuses for characters' motives. Sometimes I tried figuring out how the true events differed from the fiction, as when Cash's young children walk in on him screaming at his first wife wall pinning her on the floor. This was preceded--out of the children’s' view--by a standard sort of yelling argument. I had to wonder if maybe the movie version is a child's glossed-over memory of seeing her father rape her mother.

Robert Patrick was good as Johnny's father. Although the filmmaker's reticence to use age prosthetic makeup was a little disconcerting as everyone looked the same age from 1945 to 1970, except when Johnny was played by a child actor. This means that Johnny looked older than his mother in the scene where he was leaving home to enlist in the Air Force.

Time for more coffee . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

On C-SPAN, there's a Catholic Priest, Rev. George Coyne of the Vatican Observatory, speaking against Intelligent Design and speaking in favour of keeping scientific theories unfettered by religion. He's showing some slides about evolution, and said at one point, "There are some who would draw their own conclusions. I prefer to draw my own ignorance." Amen. What's so hard about that? If a Catholic Priest doesn't have to bring his god into science, why the hell must our schools?

So here I am back in San Diego. I've been back a few days, surprised at how odd it feels, and at how much I need to regain the sea legs for my familiar vessels. There're some tumultuous things going on around here. My parents' house seems to be falling apart. More could be said about that.

I'm supposed to get to work on the new Boschen and Nesuko script to-day, which means I'm going to need to reign together the fifty or so ideas I feel compelled to pummel the reader with in this chapter. But I'm sort of looking forward to the challenge. What I'm not looking forward to is figuring out how to colour it. Some of you may've noticed that the new chapter is coloured darker than any previous--and many of you may have found it to be the first that didn't look somewhat washed out. This is because of the aforementioned monitor problem--on my big, boxy CRT, the new chapter's hard to see, but all previous chapters look richer and more nuanced than they do on the new flat panel monitors everyone else in the world apparently has.

I'm a little at a loss how to proceed in the next chapter. I'm thinking I might raise the brightness in the gamma correction menu, but doing that seems to give everything a green tinge that I can't seem to neutralise by adjusting the RGB values--sometimes I think I get it, but then look at something and realise it's suddenly completely the wrong colour, both for my customary monitor setting, and for what I remember of Trisa's. I may do a page and then see how it looks on Tim's monitor. It could be slow-going on a chapter that already promises to be complicated.

Anyway, if anyone has an opinion on this, do speak.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hoy. A new Boschen and Nesuko chapter is online a day early. Again. Don't get used to this.

Really, I'm very amazed I actually got through it. Working on it was ridiculously difficult with all the sneezing and other allergy related things I was kept busy doing. Ugh. So I'm going back to sleep . . .

Monday, November 07, 2005

I finally saw the 1983 version of Scarface last night. And, I must say that, although I liked Brian DePalma's version, I much prefer the 1932 Howard Hawks version.

To those of you who know my preference for pre-mid 1960s aesthetics, that's not a surprise. But there were other things, besides the sets and costumes, that I felt were superior in the original version.

For one thing, Hawks simply had a better instinct for setting up shots. The DePalma version has a number of good shots, but in between them there're mostly just good-enough compositions.

But, more than any thing else, the ending of the original version was terrifically superior. And I'll tell you why I think so, so there be spoilers ahead.

For one thing, the sister lasts a little longer in the original version. She and Tony actually make up, which, coming right after he's murdered her new husband, seems to better underline the subtly incestuous vibe between the two. That it happens while they're both under fire from the police, that she's furiously helping him reload his weapons, adds to a sort of flames of hell atmosphere.

The way Tony's killed in the 1932 version also packs considerably more emotional punch. To be fair, it wouldn't quite have worked in 1983, because the original version's ending hinged more on the audience being unused to police being portrayed as fallible in drama. When Tony's gunned down by cops, it gives you a subtle feeling that, underneath, maybe no-one's really "right" in this world.

Tony being killed by his rivals in the drug trade is simply what one would expect to happen. Moreover, the final scene feels as though it would fit comfortably into Die Hard, or Predator, or another psychologically light 80s action flick. It is fun, but doesn't feel half as tragic as the 1932 version.

Pacino gives a great performance. He exudes an authoritative menace, even when he's still small time. Muni did, too, and actually I wouldn't say that one performance was better than the other. They were both very good.

Anyway, there's a kitten sleeping on my lap right now. adopted her a couple days ago and, after more that twenty four hours of deliberation, has named her Beatrix. A very sweet, well behaved kitten, too. She gets rambunctious, but has thus far not destroyed anything. She likes to crawl on top of my head while I'm watching a movie, but she's discovered that I'm a hard man to distract from a movie.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The November 5 chapter of Boschen and Nesuko is online to-day, a day early. Just because I wanted it to be.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

So here I am at Trisa's. I've been here since Sunday and it's been a generally nice visit so far.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much for us to do in regards to celebrating Halloween. Neither of us had thought to get candy for the Trick-or-Treaters that showed up. We had to turn away a polite little girl dressed as a princess, a little girl dressed as Harley Quinn, and a bunch of noisy and annoying little boys. But Trisa did have some Halloween ravioli in her freezer, which was dyed with squid ink, which I had not known was edible. I'd now like to try a bowl of it.

I managed to do a Boschen and Nesuko page here yesterday, dispelling my fears in that regard. The only problem I can see so far is that the pages all look a lot different on this monitor--much, much brighter. They look brighter and sort of washed out, as they also look on Tim's monitor. It leads me to think that perhaps the monitor I've been working with is too dim, and I find myself thinking about strangely dark pictures I've seen friends post in their blogs.

Personally, I think these flat screens are showing far less subtlety. The careful texturing I did for Nesuko's hair is almost completely invisible on some pages now. And panels that I had coloured thinking that they would be almost entirely black are now easily discernable greyish blue shapes.

Ah . . . c'est la vie. At least it doesn't look silly. For consistency's sake, I'll adhere to the old colour palettes, but it's going to be a little tricky with this monitor.