Monday, May 29, 2006

Never underestimate the rejuvenating powers of the spaghetti and orange juice combo.

Here's some sloppy Lord of the Rings (movie version) fan-fiction;

. . .

The beauty of Minas Tirith and its dark clad citizenry had not failed to please Arwen each morning in the first two years after Sauron's defeat and her wedding to Aragorn, king in a new era of Men. Simply observing the city's beauty from her balcony was an urgent undertaking each morning. She had never thought it was because she need prove to herself the wisdom in her youthful decision; to never see the White Shores, to not journey west with her father and her people. To never see them again. To see instead this city. To wake up to it, each morning.

This city, whose white walls reflected unfiltered, implacable sunlight. Fiercely, irritatingly beating her eyes with a bright, strange blankness.

"You're up." Aragorn, behind her, "I didn't hear you. The servants have prepared breakfast for us both. I suggest we eat now, as I have several meetings this morning."

His voice was perfunctory, distracted. Instead of his warm arms around her, his greeting was only followed by the sound of shuffling papers--the pile left on the table from last night. But it may as well have been the same pile for years.

Aragorn is not a bad man, Arwen said to herself. In fact, he's a great man, as kings go. Probably the best king Middle Earth as seen . . .

"I can't stay with you," she said.

The papers stopped and a silence, sour with surprised calculation, filled the room.

"I know this past year our relationship has been . . . distant," he began slowly, "but . . . Arwen . . ."

"I haven't gotten pregnant."

There was a pause, and she let him try to guess the precise purpose the naked statement here served.

"I--know. I'm sorry--I know you wanted a child. The doctors say . . . some women--"

Arwen silenced him by turning around, catching his breath with her motion, and he stood there with his mouth working, fishlike. She wanted to inject words into him surgically, to quickly and finally kill this thing so that she could start moving on.

So she said, "My father had convinced me to take the ship west shortly before the war ended. But I had a vision that turned my step back to you--a vision of our unborn child, Aragorn.

"My father had shown me that, though I love you, I also love him, and my people. It did seem foolish for me to abandon them all forever, for you, whose lifetime would be short compared to the aeons of solitude I was to live following your death."

Her voice had softened as she spoke, as she realised that she did not really want to hurt Aragorn, for whom she did yet feel some love. But all her bitterness returned as she said, "But I saw a damned vision. A damned vision, sent by Sauron for all I know, of a child--our child. I stayed because I saw life. And now I find there is nothing but the inevitable death my father foresaw.

"I see it whenever I look at you. I hate it, and I don't want to see it anymore.

"I can't go to the White Shores, but I can not keep looking at you."

"Hold on!" It was the first time she'd heard Aragorn angry in years and it startled her, "You only stayed with me because you wanted a baby?!"

"Of course! Did you really expect me to abandon my whole family just for you?"

He shook his head, "I never wanted you to. I told you to take the ship."

"Yes, well, you were right. And I should have listened."

"It seems my counsel was wiser than I knew--evidently your love was not so strong as you then imagined."

"That of the ignorant flames of youth is the oldest tale in the tomes, Aragorn." She realised they were shouting now, and she paused to catch her breath and command her tone to cool before she finally said, "I'm going. Now. Farewell."

"Yes, I think you'd better."

And they lived happily ever after!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Just last night, I saw Caitlin's link to a site about Peter S. Beagle's battle with Granada Media. Beagle, the author of The Last Unicorn and screenwriter for the animated film, has been screwed for decades by Granada, who won't give him money for the work he's done for them.

And, as I've already griped, they won't release The Last Unicorn in widescreen. Fucking Granada, I thought. We'll just see if they'll get any of my business from now on.

So to-day, the mail brought a soundtrack I ordered off Amazon a couple days ago. It's from the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series, possibly the best Holmes adaptation ever. And produced by Granada Media.

Damnit. So much for my scruples.

Also arrived from Amazon to-day, and not produced by Granada, was Sonya Taaffe's Singing Innocence and Experience. It may be the next thing I read, which it really oughtn't to be, since I've got Ursula LeGuin's Lathe of Heaven (no, I've never read it!)(which I've been borrowing from Marty for about two years now), William S. Burroughs' Exterminator!, two books Trisa gave me, and who knows what else. But Sonya Taaffe's book is so new and pretty, with Waterhouse's The Siren on the cover.

Add to this the serendipity of it arriving the day after I finished reading Gene Wolfe's The Knight, which was a marvellous book. Unrestrained, unapologetic fantasy on so many levels. There's an exhilarating quality to the narrative as it cheerfully ploughs in whatever direction it likes without regard for conventions about how plots are supposed to go.

There'll be a scene where Able, the protagonist and narrator, meets some people, vows to help them in their troubles, and then . . . gets sidetracked by different people, vows to help them with their troubles, goes at it and then . . . a different, unrelated beastie shows up, he fights it, and then . . . he's in another dimension . . . It goes on like that and it's great. In this soup also floats excellent characterisations and bits.

Able's a teenager at the beginning, but is transformed into an adult very quickly and by the magic of a fairy queen with some very obvious and amusing subtext. He roams the world, intent on living as a knight, whether or not anyone recognises him as such. And like all good fantasies, there's copious sex and violence.

That the story is told through first person, and the teller is a teenage boy, makes it slightly curious that all the beautiful women he encounters seem attracted to him and get naked at some point. Wolfe pulls off a nice trick as, even while you're not sure you can trust Able's perceptions, the world described nonetheless feels complex and fully realised. Wonderful book.
Hahahaha! Oh shit!

That really brightened my day. It just goes to show--selfish caterpillar greed and poor caterpillar eyesight go hand and hand.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I've been feeling extremely sluggish the past couple of days. I usually turn into something of a pet rock after a Boschen and Nesuko update, but I was really bad this weekend. I played a lot of Baldur's Gate.

I figured out that you can go up in level fairly quickly by killing sirines on the Sword Coast. Each sirine gives 2000 XP, and when I try to sleep, I'm usually woken by a pair. I usually manage to kill three pairs before one of my characters gets killed and I have to retreat. So that's 10,000 XP for each go, and now my characters are at levels 5 and 6 in a game where the maximum level is 8. And I've hardly done any of the quests.

The sirines can be tough, sure. They cast Dire Charm which instantly turns one of my characters against me. And they usually cast it three times. And after that, they start firing poison arrows and Confuse spells.

My technique? Immediately upon waking, my mage, Dynaheir, casts Stinking Cloud. The sirines don't move very much--it'd cramp their style, I guess--so they just stand there letting the noxious gas affect them. It periodically knocks them unconscious, and they have to routinely Save vs. Death. Meanwhile, I have three characters with bows (Imoen, Safana, and my custom paladin character), firing at them from outside the cloud, usually using the poison arrows from previously defeated sirines.

Of course, the sirines still usually manage to shoot off a couple Dire Charms, so I have my cleric stocked with Dispel Magic. If my cleric's charmed, I have my bruiser, Shar-teel, use her fists to knock her out. I use the same method on anyone else if I run out of Dispel Magics, and everyone's carrying antidotes for the poison arrows.

Otherwise, there's not much to say about the past couple of days. I read a lot. I've been following Huffington Post's ongoing story about John McCain getting roasted at a college graduation ceremony, at a school far less safe for his 2008 Republican presidential ploy than Jerry Falwell's school.

And I came very, very close last night to going to see The Proposition, the new film written and scored by Nick Cave (yes, that Nick Cave). I'll probably see it later this week . . .

Friday, May 19, 2006

The new Boschen and Nesuko's up. It's a little late to-day because I spent more time on the last page that I really probably needed to . . .

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm feeling much better to-day. I got completely caught up on Boschen and Nesuko yesterday, despite nearly losing consciousness every time I stopped moving. And I slept in to-day.

It used to be that when I was watching the Senate or the House of Representatives on C-SPAN, I'd have to wait until the Senator's or Representative's name appeared on the screen with an "R" or "D" before I could tell party affiliation. Now I'm getting really good at calling them as soon as they appear onscreen. Republicans usually seem more relaxed, a little detached, charming, and their hair is usually meticulously groomed, the men with hard, smooth caps and the women with buns or plain, careful blobs. The Democrats, meanwhile, usually seem slightly anxious, frustrated, have messier hair and less interesting speaking voices.

A few weeks ago, Bill Maher was asking George Clooney why the Left usually has the talented actors and filmmakers, while the Right usually has politicians who are more charming and with more effective rhetoric. I think it's because the Left respects the fact that real life is ugly. Filmmakers know that the audience wants beauty and fun, but filmmakers know they're making an illusion that doesn't necessarily resemble reality. The Right meanwhile, have no qualms about putting that same mentality into their speeches and legislation relating to real life, because they don't think life is ugly when people they don't know or care about are suffering.

It's fascinating to see Trent Lott siding with Democrats on legislation regarding Katrina reconstruction. Lott being a perfect example of one of the sleazy Republicans I'm referring to--a couple months ago, I watched him at a hearing regarding the influence of lobbyists on government officials. He made a joke about how he was quite able to afford his own meals and neckties, and it's ridiculous to think his policies would be swayed by such gifts. Everyone laughed. I laughed. By then a Democrat explained dryly to Lott--obviously aware that Lott's joke was misdirection--that the "gifts" under discussion are more significant than neckties and meals. That's just a minor example of the oily callousness exhibited by the likes of Lott or Lindsey Graham. To them, the houses of government are theatre and nothing more. Important, perhaps, for propaganda purposes. But not for the actual running of the government.

So then it bites Lott in the ass when his home's destroyed by Katrina. And when I saw him on the floor of the senate, trying to push a bill with Louisiana's Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, it was fascinating to see the vague bewilderment and depression in Lott's demeanour as he found himself lanced by his own Republican fuck machine, as another Republican Senator explained how the bill was a bad idea because it might inhibit the profits of rich people. All part of the traditional Republican economic policy that I heard a Democratic Representative refer to to-day as "4-2=3".

Sometimes, theatre is just a natural by-product of inherent artifice.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I'm just not one of those people who can deal with lack of sleep. Not for any practical purposes, anyway. I mean, if I were spending the day playing Nintendo and drinking coffee, it'd be fine. But it's a major nuisance when I'm trying to work on Boschen and Nesuko. I can feel it making me stupid.

I was working on the comic until my eyes hurt and my head felt like it was on fire, before I stopped, realising that I wasn't making good decisions any more. So I packed it up, hoping I'd somehow be in a state to-day where an adequate store of sleep would make it simply a matter of me rolling up my sleeves to catch up, big time. No such luck. Fuck, I hate these workers coming over doing stupid, useless things. And the neighbour with his power tools, probably doing something equally stupid and useless. It's depressing to see other people spending large amounts of time and money to get nothing. It's irritating when it affects me.

Victoria the cat's on my lap right now. I keep trying to tell her she oughta go up stairs, use the litter box and eat some breakfast, before the next round of workmen show up. She's been in my room since last night.

I'm not sure she hasn't eaten in that time, though. Last night, I saw a three inch long lizard in the hall. When I tried to pick it up, it ran into my room. I don't know what became of it--it's probably dying in my clutter somewhere. I only hope it decides to leave or Victoria gets it before the ants do.

Now I guess I'm going to have to muscle through drawings, hoping my raw instincts can make up for my deficient reasoning skills. Fuck.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Trouble on the path to sleep last night. Another bad headache. Though not as bad as the one I woke up with Sunday morning, which felt like my skull had shrunk overnight, from top to mandible.

For Mother's Day, I went with family to the Prado restaurant at Balboa Park, and I had something called Wild Mushroom Risotto, which contained, in addition to several other varieties of mushrooms, truffles. I'd not had truffles before--it was tasty, but the best part was imagining the pig whose nose found it.

I didn't return until around 7:30pm, at which time I drew a single Boschen and Nesuko panel before I decided, since I wasn't behind yet, I'd convalesce for my headache, which had shored up its forces in my right parietal lobe again. I noticed the side of Nesuko's head that got beaten up recently was the right side. Probably a coincidence . . .

I started playing Baldur's Gate. I played a few hours, my headache growing worse, and my attitude worser still. I grew irrationally angry at the existence of video games, but it was probably good I did, because I then turned from the game to lie down and read with a ziplock bag I'd filled with ice against the nape my neck. That felt glorious. When it was time to sleep, I tried lying on it awhile, but, knowing it was bound to melt and spill eventually while I slept, had to cast it aside.

The headache came back full force, maybe triple because of the pillow's pressure. I didn't sleep well, and was forced to wake up four hours later by the granite guys in the kitchen. Damn, I was tired. I just sat, staring into space, listening to an entire Blonde Redhead album to blot out the noise before I convinced myself I needed to move. I went to Starbucks and bought an iced Americano, which seems to've killed the headache for now. So now I draw.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I haven't wanted to be very active the past couple days. That nasty headache came back, and moreover, I just felt generally useless for any activity involving much thought. But I did manage to finish the new Boschen and Nesuko script yesterday and, looking at it this morning, I still basically like it.

I did end up seeing Hard Candy on Tuesday night. It was decent. But the highlight of the evening was just being at the Landmark in Hillcrest. There's something wonderful about just standing in a cinema where the movies aren't all essentially exactly the same fake-nacho cheese-tasting blockbuster. Even the cappuccino I bought from the concession stand was good.

I drank it in the theatre while waiting for the movie to start and reading. If I could afford to spend every night like that, my life would be perfect. Well, add in showings of old movies, and courtesans, and it'd be perfect. I like that idea--cinema courtesans. I hope someone powerful in the movie theatre industry is reading this.

But Hard Candy--really more of an illustrated essay than a work of art. What I say next is going to give away the surprise ending, so I recommend you stop reading now if that matters to you;

The movie sort of reminded me of a play I read in playwriting class a while ago. I liked the teacher, a guy named Karl Sherlock, but he had a couple of biases I considered to be silly and which were easy to deduce from how he reacted to things. The play in question was about a child molester who's lured to a remote location by what appeared to be an underage girl. Only by the end, the girl was able to overpower him and handcuff him. It was suggested that she might not be a cop, but a sort of vigilante.

When Mr. Sherlock asked for impressions from the class, I said, "I think she's Batgirl."

Sherlock laughed and said, "Yeah? A sort of modern-day superhero? Maybe . . ."

I didn't say anything, but I was annoyed for two reasons;

For one thing; are superheroes really so old a concept or rare nowadays that we have to distinguish a new example as being a modern variant?

And the other thing; I wasn't saying she was like Batgirl. I was saying she was Batgirl. Barbara Gordon. It makes sense--a vigilante girl who can overpower a grown man, who possibly has access to files on known sex offenders? May as well be Batgirl. I felt there was an attitude that the idea of her wearing a mask and cape sometimes to fight crime somehow cheapened it, or made it quaint. As if the story was otherwise plausible.

Anyway, the movie brought that to mind . . .

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I think I might see Hard Candy to-night. Mind you, that's Hard Candy, not Strangers With Candy, which is being released next month, and which I'm looking forward to. I haven't seen much of the series but a movie starring Stephen Colbert, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Ian Holm is terribly tempting.

There was a mysterious, fractious devil in the air yesterday. A little mystery I never got to the bottom of. But it sponsored an interesting merry-go-round at the bank:

After waiting in line for fifteen minutes, the lady behind the counter, speaking in an almost inaudible tone, told me my expired driver's license wasn't adequate identification for her to be able to cash my cheque, and that I'd have to go to my car and retrieve my non-photo, interim driver's license.

"Er, okay..." I said, waiting a moment for her to hand back my cheque and expired license.

But instead of doing that, she said simply, "Go ahead. I'll wait."

So I went to my car, fished out the piece of paper that would somehow, mysteriously identify me as me, and returned to find the lady was now serving an old man. Being the easy-going lad I am, I got back in line and decided to simply wait for another teller.

Ten minutes later, I explained the situation to another lady behind the counter, assuming she would simply have the cheque passed down to her from the first lady.

But instead; "Yeah, you can wait for her to finish [with the old man]."

"I may? Cool, thanks!"

I don't know if my sarcasm registered, but everyone seemed uncomfortable when I stayed at the front of the line, starring calmly at the tellers for another five minutes. Finally, the old man finished his dissertation on his own savings account, and the original teller wordlessly cashed my cheque. And why don't banks have air-conditioning? I ask you.

The evening was unproductive. Deciding to save money on gas at all costs (twenty dollars gave me only half a tank), I walked to Target and almost bought several movies, but ended up not buying any. I'm sorely tempted to buy Match Point which, if I may remind those who haven't yet seen it, is a brilliant work of cinema.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mostly, yesterday was spent at Starbucks working on a new comic project. I'm hoping this will be one I can get published. I've been scheming about it for months, but until yesterday, the only solid work I'd done was character sketches. Yesterday I started laying down mythology and history for the world because, naturally, this couldn't be a piece set on contemporary earth. For some reason, the idea of writing in such a setting makes me feel a little depressed. Partly, I think, because I'm reluctant to presume any knowledge of the "real" world, and partly because as I'll inevitably be fantasising I figure; why not go all the way?

I paid for the new Green Tea Latte entirely with quarters. It was disgusting, and I wrote several pages of timeline filled with details I intend to elaborate on in various directions. When I write fiction, I find I need a lot of information, not necessarily within the scope of the story I'm telling. I have this theory about information existing but not being exposed in the story--that it is sensed by the reader, as I do things in writing while knowing that're subconscious, giving an automatic depth to the field. In fact, I find if I don't hash out these details beforehand, the story feels insubstantial to me, and I have trouble taking it seriously.

At the same time, I think stories are far more interesting than encyclopaedias, as interesting as encyclopaedias can certainly be. So I'm always wary of losing my appendage under the sand, so to speak...

I know, if I want any shot at getting this published, it'll have to be in black and white. But, damnit, I wish I could use colour...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

So there was no Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for me last night. Tim and I drove to La Jolla, and approached the cinema ten minutes before showtime, to behold an enormous crowd, half of whom were dressed as Indiana Jones.

"Take off your fedora," said Tim. "You look like a tool."

"No," said I.

But we decided to turn around and leave, and thus $3.45/gallon gas was wasted. Probably just as well, as I didn't want a crowd of rabid Indiana Jones fans around me as I paid for my ticket with quarters (money's been tight for me lately). Though I did have the pleasure of purchasing a bottle of thick, green, Naked Super Food from the nearby Ralph's.

The cashier, impatient to finally finish his shift at that late hour, was treated to the spectacle of me fishing around a ziplock baggie for quarters to pay for the $3.85 bottle of juice.

Now I've conflicting plans for to-day, so I'd best choose one...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I just might manage to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the Landmark theatre to-night. I did stay up until 3am last night. In any case, I'm sick of being a day person. Daytime sucks, unless I'm working on Boschen and Nesuko. But once that 8 to 12 hour period's over, I have to put up with all the people moving around and the personalised noises they make. Give me night, where people are few and go about their business quickly through shame or the desire to get home and go to bed.

For Easter, my mother gave me a DVD collection of BBC Oscar Wilde play productions. Last night I watched The Importance of Being Earnest from 1986. It'd been a while since I'd read the play, though it's not a work that fades in the memory at all. But I believe this was actually the first film production I'd seen of it. I know I skipped the Rupert Everett/Reese Witherspoon thing from a couple years ago. After I heard it contained a scene of Cecily getting "Earnest" tattooed on her ass, I knew the movie had roamed far off into a grandiosely atrophied frontier. Like a break dancing zombie.

But the 1986 production was good. I love it when an adaptation isn't a case of a director deciding a century-old work is about him. This was just fine actors and nice sets playing the scenes as written. Accommodations for the medium were sensible--unobtrusive camera movements and cuts where they were needed, and nothing too fancy. And I actually got the joy of seeing actors digest the words, adding the sharpness of human delivery to what was before, for me, words on a page.

I couldn't help thinking about Stephen Colbert again. The Importance of Being Earnest is a mockery of shallow Victorian society and their hollow scruples, and constantly turns Victorian notions of truth and nobility on their heads, only to reveal the plain philosophies as the absurdities they really are. The play is filled with casual assertions that sentiment ought to take precedence over reason. It seems perfectly natural to Algernon and Cecily that they should be engaged for months, even though they'd never met, simply because Cecily has created Algernon's "Earnest" in her diary. The story's "tension", if it can be called that, hinges on absurd particulars of heritage and name that nonetheless would ring true for the Victorian aristocratic audience.

So I thought of the wonderful rancour Stephen Colbert's performance has drawn from the Right. People on Fox news, and in Right-wing writings, have been insisting that Colbert went too far in front of the president but could not cite specific quotes from Colbert to demonstrate this. Scott Thill covers it well on Huffington Post. No matter how Right wing pundits squirm or try desperately to defuse it, they can't overcome the fact that when Colbert said, in his idiot guise, that he and the president go from "the gut" instead of the brain--it is the sort of thing Bush and his supporters say all the time, and it is self-evidently ridiculous. It's a bitter pill to swallow, when you realise that your central philosophy is utterly preposterous, and you've sacrificed human lives in its name.

I guess there's an ongoing battle between artistic wit and the ruling witless. The strain of keeping oneself stupid while maintaining a facade of intelligence must be a particularly humiliating kind of hell.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's been a mildly tumultuous several days. On Saturday, the computer Tim'd given me a week earlier started freezing up at intervals. I finally left it, though, because I'd been looking forward to Saturday like some people look forward to the Super Bowl. I stopped at Taco Bell to bring food with me to Tim's house where he and I watched the entire White House Correspondents dinner on C-SPAN. So we caught not only Colbert's delicious smack down of Bush and the complaisant press, but even Colbert's entrance with his wife and his mugging for cameras.

I came back here to screw around with computer bowels and eventually realised I was going to have to go back to my old computer. This unfortunately also meant I was going to have to re-colour the first two pages of the new Boschen and Nesuko, as well as retype and partially rewrite the script. It's fortunate that I'd decided to write it in my notebook and edit as I typed. I don't always do it that way; I find writing on paper first can remove anxieties over sloppiness and what people might think of it. On the downside, it can come out reading like I was unconcerned with sloppiness or the effect it'd have on anyone. But as it happened, I was basically pleased with the pen script. The only trouble is it was only seven and a half pages long--the last bit'd been written totally on computer. Instead of trying to remember exactly what I wrote, I decided to write something completely different. I can't say for sure which version I think superior. Though, generally, occasions where I've rewritten scripts have been to the advantage of those chapters...

I also played hide-and-seek with a nasty headache Moi tentatively diagnosed as a migraine, but which I'm compelled to call a "Baby Migraine." Meanwhile, my grandmother's idea of replacing the kitchen counters with granite has condemned us to three weeks without a kitchen sink and dishwasher, so mostly we've been using my bathroom to clean dishes. And my grandmother seems to want to treat it as a kitchen satellite, so there's now a jar of peanut butter next to the toilet. I have the honour of being the only person here who's sickened by this fact. But being a Liberal in a Republican household has accustomed me to the sensation.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Owl's birthday's to-day. On this day, video game disks and controllers are said to resonate, singing together a mysterious tone whose meaning is unclear to us, and yet unmistakably serene.

On this day, and on this day only, it's said that certain camera angles that ought to show Kagome's underwear in fact do so.

And so, to-day I'll not pester Owl with my questions regarding Tootsie Roll Pops and lick counts. Happy birthday, Owl.