Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Friday I made it a point to be in Hall H in the morning. Hall H is where the big studios shill their stuff, and Thursday I'd missed the Paramount presentation, which, from what Tim's friend Amber had described, sounded fantastic, with stuff about the new Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Beowulf, and Stardust. I learned later that there was even a full screening of Stardust.

So I caught the Warner Brothers presentation on Friday. Hall H is the biggest panel room in the convention centre, but there are always thousands of people trying to get in, so this year the line stretched outside the convention centre and wrapped around the back of the building. I had to wait under the sun once this year, after all. Matters were made worse by the poor separation of lines--I saw a skinny Superman near the front of one line, only to later see him gloomily trudging to the back of the line I'd gotten into. Overhead, a skywriter wrote, "HA HA HA." This turned out to be marketing for the new Batman movie, but the Joker's sting was felt by many that day, I think.

Actually, the line starting moving pretty fast after I'd gotten into it. It wasn't long before I was in the big dark chambre where I'd seen the absolutely wonderful panel for Grindhouse last year, though I wasn't to see anything half as interesting this year. Immediately upon entering the room, everyone was handed big white t-shirts with "CONTROL" printed in big black letters on the front and "KAOS" on the back. This was for the new Get Smart movie, and the film's director, Peter Segal, appearing on stage, followed shortly by cast members Nate Torrence, Masi Oka, Ken Davitian, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Steve Carell.

I'm a big fan of Steve Carell, despite the fact that I have trouble maintaining awareness of Evan Almighty. He was my favourite correspondent on The Daily Show, he was the best part of Little Miss Sunshine, he's great in the American version of The Office, and I even liked The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

Vague speculation I'd heard months ago that Carell actually might have a tighter grip on Get Smart's creative reins than its mediocre director seems perhaps to have been accurate. Carell unabashedly answered a question about the movie's vision;

"I wanted the world to feel like the world of The Bourne Identity." When people laughed, he said, "No, I'm serious." He explained the threat in the movie, personified in a villain played by Terrance Stamp, is meant to seem very real. Carell said he didn't want an unrealistic world around his bumbling character because, in his opinion, it's much funnier when such a character is up against realism.

I'm not sure I think it's necessarily funnier, though I think it can be. But it might make for a better film. Certainly such a philosophy falls in line with all of Carell's best work to date.

The Rock was actually pretty charming, and I'm always surprised by how much I like him in interviews, despite the fact that I've never felt slightly inclined to see one of his movies. There's actually an affable guy under the thick gloss of fake sweat. When a kid asked if they had any funny, behind-the-scenes stories, Carell said, "Peter Segal never wore pants for the entire shoot." The Rock added, "Yeah, and he always wanted us to call him 'Big P'."

Masi Oka received an enormous applause when he came on stage, and several feminine screams of adoration. He always seemed awe-struck by what had probably been a pretty consistently effusive fan-reaction at the Con. He awkwardly explained his and Nate Torrence's roles in Get Smart as being tech guys, sort of the movie's Q, but explained their gadgets don't always work properly, adding a very self-conscious sounding, "Yikes."

Ken Davitian, a large man who played Azamat Bagatov in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, last appeared at Comic-Con in the form of some preview footage of himself and Sacha Baron Cohen fighting naked in a hotel. So when asked about his role in Get Smart, he replied simply, "I get to wear clothes."

The notorious nude footage had apparently been a point of discord between Twentieth Century Fox and the Comic-Con administration as those latter folks, trying to market the Con as a family event, were unhappy not to've been told about the Borat footage ahead of time. So this year, Con administrators insisted on screening any footage studios planned to present before it appeared before the Con audience. Which was kind of funny in light of the fact that, after Get Smart, Warner Brothers gave us two fairly gore and horror laden previews. First to The Invasion, which was accompanied only by a perfunctory and substanceless recorded introduction by Nicole Kidman, and then for a remake of a Takashi Miike movie called One Missed Call. The movie's stars, Edward Burns and Shannyn Sossamon, appeared onstage. She seemed incredibly nervous, while he seemed comfortable and charming, explaining he plays "the cop with the heart of gold who doesn't try to sleep with her."

After them came the gory trailer for Whiteout. Appearing on stage were producer Joel Silver, director Dominic Sena, creator of the source comic Greg Rucka, and, after a fifteen minute delay, the film's star, Kate Beckinsale. Beckinsale is another one of those stars who's so much better to see interviewed than to see acting in a movie. She seems to be one of the most charming people in Hollywood, making cute references to crewmembers groaning whenever she bent over during the filming of Underworld, and gamely grinning and waving at the audience as the panel ended. I get the impression that she has kind of a domineering husband, though, as she kept prefacing things by saying, "Well, my husband would think," or, "My husband probably wouldn't want me to." She also explained she probably wouldn't be in a James Bond movie because it would require her to appear in her underwear, and she thinks she's "getting a bit elderly for that." For the record, she's thirty-four. No-one throw beverages at her, okay? She seems really sweet otherwise.

The funniest part, though, was when a small kid asked a twitching Dominic Sena, who looked like he'd just snorted a Radio Flyer wagon full of cocaine, if the cast and crew played any pranks on each other.

"Oh, they're probably a little too X rated for you," he said. "They involve Kate and dildos . . ."

A moment later, Greg Rucka said to Sena, "You realise that kid was like seven, right?"

The big event of the Warner Brothers presentation, though, was Zack Snyder, who appeared at first alone onstage, but was later joined by two cast members of his upcoming Watchmen film, Malin Akerman, who'll play Laurie, and Jackie Earle Haley, who'll play Rorschach. Both actors, I'll admit, actually look like their roles. Though they didn't get to speak at all. I heard Haley say, "That's passion" to Akerman when a fan dressed as Rorschach got up to ask a question, but otherwise it was only an intriguingly inarticulate Zack Snyder speaking.

As much as I didn't like 300, I felt kind of bad for Snyder when someone asked him if Watchmen might finally be the movie Alan Moore keeps his name on. Snyder sadly replied, "No, he's already said he doesn't want his name on the movie." He said, "We all want to please Alan . . . it's not so much to ask, wanting the guy who actually creating the fucking thing to like your movie . . . I just hope some rainy day in England he'll put in the DVD--and he probably won't--and say, 'They didn't fuck it up that much.'"

I must say, though, that if I'd never seen 300 and I didn't think Watchmen could be done in under a five hour running time, I'd actually be pretty optimistic for the film based on what Snyder said; it's going to be rated R, it's set in the 1980s, Snyder wants to include the Black Freighter segments, and he even wants to keep Sally Jupiter's poodle haircut.

Well, that's all I have time for to-day, and I still haven't told everything interesting about Friday. Tune in next time . . .

Monday, July 30, 2007

So Comic-Con's over again. I have much to tell but I think I'll begin by saying I saw Sailor Mercury bend at the waist. I was behind her.

Little white panties.

But that was Saturday. I'll start with Wednesday, which was Preview Night. I didn't have to wait at all for my badge, unlike thousands of poor schlubs who queued up around the convention centre under the cruel Yellow Face. It actually wasn't so hot this year, never getting above 85 degrees, a significant difference from last year's 111 degrees.

At 2:30pm I started walking towards the Con from a sandwich shop I'd stopped at six blocks north of the Convention Centre and I already started seeing people walking past me with badges. The site had said pre-registered people could start picking up their badges at 3pm, but as seemed to happen so frequently at the Con this year, the mob forced things to move a little faster, which probably explains why I was able to get to the event hall at 9:45am on Saturday, fifteen minutes before opening.

The Wikipedia entry says there were two hundred thousand attendees this year, and I can certainly believe it as the masses of people built up around the front of the convention centre were slower and more dense than I'd ever seen at any previous Con. Even on preview night, navigating the event hall was difficult. I didn't hang around that day as I was really just happy to've gotten my badge so early, meaning I could simply walk right in on Thursday morning and perhaps thereby gain some advantage at the portfolio reviews.

Joining me on Thursday were Tim and his friend Amber. We took the trolley, which is roughly an hour trip from Santee to the convention centre. The trolley stops in front of the centre where its track runs parallel to that of an actual train. As I said, masses of people were attempting to move to and fro all day, every day of the Con, and these people had not only to contend with crossing the busy street, but also the trolley track and the train track. We had to wait nearly ten minutes for a train engine with a single car attached to stop in the middle of everyone's path and blow its extremely loud horn several times. The conductor was leaning out the window and he looked familiar. To Tim, I said, "Is that Ben?!"

"It could be," said Tim. "He always wanted to be a train conductor."

And I remembered then how Ben, whom Tim and I knew from elementary school and high school, would ride his bicycle with a small electric light on his helmet, and how, when he'd gotten a car, he'd attached massive, working train horns to it--I think he actually got pulled over for that one. Ben wasn't a talkative guy; he communicated by being annoying.

So when Tim wondered why the train was simply stopped there in everyone's way, I said to him, "It has to be Ben. And he wouldn't even understand that he's pissing everyone off."

During the Warner Brothers presentation on Friday, Kate Beckinsale was about fifteen minutes late because, she said, her car was caught behind a train.

Anyway, after the train backed up--that's right, after all that, it went back the way it came--I was indeed able to walk right into the Con. Tim was buying his badge that day, so he had to wait a long time, and Amber, who'd pre-registered, had to wait ten minutes longer than Tim, which goes to show something. I guess, unless you did it like me and registered for the four day pass and picked it up on preview night, pre-registering has ceased to be an expedient and has become merely a way of getting a badge before they sell out, as they did, for the first time this year.

I quickly found the little portfolio review area and discovered I'd overestimated the number of people who'd be there--there was never more than three hundred comic book artists waiting there at a time. I managed to get my name on the first page of the Dark Horse call list and sat down with everyone else. One of the first things I noticed is that we almost all of us looked the same--guys in our late twenties or early thirties with ponytails. I was the only one with a fedora, though there were plenty of those elsewhere at the Con. The standard issue hat for the aspiring comic book artist seems to be a backwards fitted baseball cap, usually navy blue in colour.

Although I was on the first page of the call list, the wait was kind of excruciating because I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I didn't want to leave because I saw that the few bozos who did, for what ever reason, walk away were skipped over after the girl called their names a few times. So I sat and watched Dark Horse Senior Editor Randy Strandley talking to one guy after another--and one very gorgeous auburn haired girl in a long brown skirt. I don't know what anomaly she came from.

In the Comic-Con schedule, the Dark Horse portfolio review thing read thusly; "Dark Horse editors will be reviewing the storytelling work of professional-level comics artists. They will be looking at consecutive story pages only, with an eye toward storytelling as well as drawing skills. A minimum of five consecutive pages is required. Please bring your most recent work. Artists with cover paintings, inking or color samples, pinups, or sketches are invited to submit work by following the instructions at www.darkhorse.com/company/submissions.php. It is suggested that this review be treated as a job interview."

The sign at the review explicitly requested portfolios from pencillers only. Despite the fact that I've always considered my pencils the sloppiest in the world, I got my hopes up for some reason. I'd printed up five consecutive story pages from Moving Innocent as well as the pencil versions of those pages. Here's the first of the five I showed to Randy Strandley;

The first thing he said was, "You have a long way to go." He told me to go downstairs to the event hall and look at some original pencils. He said it would be a real eye-opener. I was a little irritated by the suggestion that'd I'd never seen pencils before--I showed him some finished pages from my new project, which, I explained to him, is from the first issue of a five part mini-series I'm trying to get published.

He said that, since I was that far along, I ought to submit it to a contest Dark Horse holds on their site for new creators at certain times of the year. And that was that.

I didn't bother with any of the other portfolio reviews--the whole thing wasn't nearly as useful as I was expecting. The schedule listed only twenty-one companies reviewing portfolios, and most of them were either video game companies, people looking for conceptual artists, or people wanting artists to do specific kinds of imitations. These weren't the publishing avenues I was looking for. So it's back to submitting this new series to comics publishers through the mail, which I've only just begun to do anyway. And if that fails, I'll try self-publishing, something I got a great deal of advice about on Saturday when I spoke to people at the small press booths downstairs. But that'll be another entry . . .

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I was at Grossmont Centre in my dream last night--Grossmont Centre being a mall near here, except in my dream it was Grossmont Centre as it was when I was a kid, and it still had the cinema where I barely remember seeing Supergirl (1984). In my dream, I was trying to buy minutes for my phone, and the first place I tried was the cinema where a big bearded guy at the concession stand sold me fifteen dollars worth, which happens to be exactly what I bought yesterday in the waking world.

After buying minutes in the dream, I wandered the mall a while before deciding I wanted more minutes. I went back to the cinema only to find the interior had completely changed. It was now a dimly lit bar run by two elegant, beautiful, dark-haired Russian women. The older of the two explained she couldn't sell me minutes until I purchased a hundred dollar insurance contract from her. She was smiling and looking down her nose at me so I could tell she was toying with me and didn't care if I could tell. The younger woman was trying not to laugh at me. I liked those two.

Anyone else wonder if global warming is actually caused by secret experiments with an ancient, gigantic creature in Antarctica?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

After much going up and down stairs yesterday, my room is finally back together and I have a desk again so I think I'll do some drawing to-day.

I've been getting up at 8:30am lately. Can you believe it? I've been setting my alarm so I don't continue sleeping when it feels natural to do so, despite the fact that I've been getting to bed at 12 or 12:30. I don't have much time for anything before bed except one of Sonya's poems, so I haven't been watching many movies lately. Last night I watched the final episode of Harvey Birdman (see below), which featured the supremely triumphant return of Stephen Colbert ("Ha ha ha! Final episode stunt casting!").

Looking forward to Comic-Con still. That's why I've been sleeping at night. That and the broken air conditioner, though it's been a little better since my grandmother let us open windows at certain times of day (she's now afraid of mould flying in the windows). I finished bringing things into my room and unpacking this morning (though a few bags remain in my car). I actually made some attempt to organise my books, especially my manga, but it's kind of impossible with so many things wedged in a garage. What I wouldn't give for a place with book shelves . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The air conditioner's broke, and it's hotter inside than it is outside, where it's 84 degrees. I've been through worse; it got to be 111 during Comic-Con last year, but I don't seem to be handling heat very well lately. It's making me sluggish and confused. I did get to use my mother's office a few days ago, though, and got a little drawing done. Otherwise, I'm not sure what I'm doing. To be honest, I'm not sure I ought to be doing anything. I have one printout of the comic I'm submitting to publishers and I can't afford another colour ink cartridge right now. So I think I'll save this one for portfolio review at the Comic-Con, and if no-one seems interested in it, I'm not sure that there's a whole lot of point in doing a second issue.

I do feel slightly encouraged about this work, though. I'm thinking I'll turn it into a five-shot mini-series, as that's close to the sort of thing a lot of publishers seem to want (this Wikipedia page is enormously helpful).

Anyway, it'd be awfully convenient if I oughtn't to be doing anything right now and I kind of can't do anything right now. Even if I had a desk, I don't know if I could work in this heat.

My aunt's friend Violet came to visit, and the timing of her bargain flight was rather bad as there's no more bedrooms left here and she's had to sleep on the floor in an air mattress. I offered the guest room I'm occupying, but it was not wanted, possibly because there are no washed sheets. And Violet couldn't get a hotel room because they're all booked for Comic-Con.

Oh, yes. For those of you who don't know about the size of Comic-Con, know that every hotel in San Diego county is full up more than a week before the first day of the Con. It gets bigger every year, last year there were 123,000 attendees, and this year the four day passes have already been sold out for a few days. I'm looking forward to this.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nothing much to say for yesterday again. Yesterday and yesterday and yesterday . . .

CNN's released responses to the point-by-point responses on Michael Moore's website to Sanjay Gupta's infamous report on Sicko. It's pretty sad, as the best CNN can seem to do is point out that there are very minor differences in numbers between the legitimate sources Moore references and other sources. I loved this bit from the CNN site;

Gupta believes picking and comparing numbers from different places and times to suit an argument is not the best approach to a complicated issue like this one.

Just conveniently ignoring the fact that, in choosing the most recent statistics available, Moore was forced to use what actually exists.

As Moore puts it; "That U.N. report does list American health care spending as only $5,700, but it's a few years old. Since then, the U.S. government has updated its projections for health care spending, to $7,498 in 2007. So we used that number. It's the most recent, and comes right from the Department of Health and Human Services. If the Cuban government gave a figure on 2007 projected health spending, we'd have used it."

I finally saw Sicko a few days ago and it's a good movie. It follows several personal stories of people who've experienced the ridiculousness of the American healthcare industry firsthand, and the stories are put together very well. All the statistics are really there, even if you're looking through CNN glasses, that this industry is fucked, and Sicko does what a documentary ought to; it illustrates statistics evocatively. That Moore spends time focusing on the advantages of foreign systems simply seems constructive to me; he's showing us the ways in which we might fix our system.

Monday, July 16, 2007

It's been hot around here lately. It was overcast yesterday, but still there was inescapable heat. I start to feel like I'm absorbing it during the day, like a rock, and it clouds about me like an aura while I sleep in what ought to be a cooler night, with the fan on at full. Even with an air conditioner blanketing the room with forceful cool, I can feel all matter fighting to be hot. Ass, thighs, and back on the seat in the car become soaked with sweat no matter how cold my front is from the air conditioner.

I've got to stop driving so much. I bet I'd save a lot of money. These days, I pretty much only drive to the grocery store, my parents' house, and Tim's house, except for a couple trips to the mall or Fry's. It's more than necessary when just about everything I need--and more--is in walking distance. But then there's the matter of the heat . . .

Why do all the transformers in the new movie look the same? Why does the trailer for the new Lady Chatterley's Lover seem like a grindhouse trailer? I really have only questions to-night, I'm afraid . . .

"But, sir!" I hear you say, "What have you gotten done?"

A little colouring. Various forms of reading. Almost no writing. I guess I could call this a vacation. Except it feels more like summer camp.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Part of last night's dream can probably be explained by the sight of Victoria staring at me from the living room darkness before I went to bed last night with glimmering green eyes. But the dream began in a complicated three-dimensional white stucco maze of a house, where I lived with a few relatives. Some of those relatives had begun to complain about an infestation of demons in the garden. This garden, which I viewed through one of several large, pane-less, fully open windows in the first storey bedrooms, consisted of miles and miles of flat, red, sandy desert, like a Martian landscape. The demons were clustered in slow moving herds a couple miles away. They looked like hunched, emaciated red clay skinned old hairless men. I knew the only way to kill them was to use bullets made from cat matter.

I couldn't find any dead cats, so I stuffed Victoria alive into a small, transparent shell, like the gelatine case of a pill. She shrank easily, and crouched at the end of the shell to stare warily back at me with the glimmering green eyes. I somehow managed to kill all the demons with the one bullet, but I was afraid to look inside the shell afterwards to see what had become of the cat.

I drove to North County Fair mall yesterday and saw this poster for the upcoming Stardust movie in the form of huge banners all over the mall, and even pasted on the elevator doors. I have this bad feeling Stardust is going to be a very good, but quite unsuccessful movie. I just can't imagine many people wanting to see a movie based on this poster. I like Tristran's overtly phallic sword and Yvaine's expression that seems to say, "I know quite a bit more about important things than you possibly could, but I'm willing to let you join in my fun for a few hours." But I'm not sure I like these things in the right way, and the movie already has to work against a title that might suggest to people a 1970s Ice Capade.

As I was approaching my grandmother's house on my way back from the mall, I found myself behind a white utility truck which pulled over to the left, facing the wrong direction. I didn't think too much about it, parked, put my iPod back into my bag, got out of the car, and heard, from a distance away, "You need to slow down!"

I turned around to see a large man with a big white moustache had gotten out of the truck and was now glowering at me from across the street. I laughed and said, "What the fuck're you talking about?" I think I've been waiting weeks for an opportunity to say that to someone.

"You were driving too fast!" he said, "I was backing up--I could have hit you!"

Now, anyone who's ever ridden with me knows that I'm ridiculous about observing the speed limit. I'm never in a hurry, and I'm annoyed by all the pricks who have to rush by everyone on the freeway so they can buy a new cell phone or whatever. I especially hate people who speed in a residential area, particularly around here where there are often kids playing in the street. I also don't, under any circumstances, tailgate (and I love orange juice. I've patterned my life after Robert Loggia).

I said, "I was behind you, jackass, if you're backing up, it's your responsibility to look out for cars behind you!"

"You were speeding!"

"I was going the speed limit, if not slower!"

"Do you want trouble?" This guy was big--he looked exactly like Paul Teutul, Sr., and I had no doubt he could pound me into the pavement. Even so, all this made me think was that I didn't have to go easy on him;

"What the fuck do you mean, trouble?"

"I'll call the cops."

I laughed, "For what?"

"I'll tell them you were speeding."

"I wasn't speeding, asshole!" How exactly I could have been speeding if I was behind him is an interesting question that sadly wasn't addressed.

"You don't have to cuss."

I laughed again; this was incredibly rich, and I was starting to feel really good, "Ah ha."

"What does that mean?"

"I was saying 'ah ha' like you'd said something threatening, like you'd said something intimidating."

He seemed chastised but still sore, "I was just telling you to slow down . . ."

I grinned, showing him my missing front tooth again. It occurs to me now I must look like a Jack O'Lantern. I said, "Oh, okay," and left him alone.

I think what I learned is that I like fighting. A lot. Sure, only when it's called for, but when it is, I love it, I have to admit. I am from Mars.
From 1997, my favourite era of Tori Amos;

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I spent nearly all day yesterday reading about conservative philosophy. I thought I might write a huge journal entry about it, but now it seems hardly worth the time. Mostly what I found, I think, was best summed up by a quote from Benjamin Disraeli I saw in Wikipedia's entry on conservatism; "A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy."

You see, I wanted to defend my statement from a few days ago, that neocons aren't very much different from regular conservatives, which was a bit of a reaction to people like Ron Paul who seem to feel the havoc wrought by Bush and Cheney derives from a secret plan of theirs to create Big Government instead of respecting individuals property rights and states rights that right wingers seem to hold sacred above all else. It's a pretty naïve and self-contradictory system of thought, really; the idea that everyone pursuing their own self interest will somehow work out to the common good. It explains two things about the Bush administration; how the government got bigger under them, and how they didn't seem to plan it. They didn't think about whether or not invading Iraq would be good for the American people--they thought it would be good for their own interests.

Anyway, I may yet post about it. I don't know, I've kind of tired myself out on the subject, but I did reaffirm my fondness for Nietzsche.

So what else have I to talk about? Using the computer is a little uncomfortable right now--I have the monitor set up on a table about two feet from the foot of my bed, which is a slender but oddly tall thing. I sit between it and the table, looking up at the monitor because there's no room for a chair and sitting on the bed is uncomfortable because of the altitude and the tiny font size I prefer. But I'm still enjoying a house to myself. Oddly enough, it's made me want to read more because I feel less of a need to blot out the presence of other people with loud music and movies--reading's just not something I can do with music playing. Music contaminates the mood of a book too much for me.

I'm really not so great at separating music from what I'm doing while listening, and sometimes associations become permanently bound to certain albums or artists. For example, I can't listen to Tori Amos' Boys for Pele or Jane's Addiction without thinking about Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

Fortunately, I've managed to start listening to music while writing lately. It's a barrier I broke in myself while doing the Lord of the Rings fanfiction thing. Unfortunately, I haven't been in a good place for writing lately, and even less of a good place for artwork. It'd be nice if things settled down around here soon . . .

Monday, July 09, 2007

I turned on CNN to-day just in time to see Michael Moore feasting on a Wolf's lifeless carcass. The video's finally online here, though I wish it included the Sanjay Gupta hit piece that preceded the interview. Moore was right to be as pissed off as he is in the video. Gupta's report, while trying to appear fair-minded and giving points to Moore for bringing to light stories of Americans fucked by this country's healthcare system, also included what seems to be the right-wing counterattack strategy, which is to mention problems in Canadian and French healthcare systems Moore's film doesn't mention, as though that somehow means Moore "fudged the facts" (as Gupta put it in his piece. Moore uses the phrase deliberately in his criticism of CNN's coverage). Moore says he's going to put corrections to the hit piece on his web site to-night, but the bias is already clear; if the problems with Canada's, Britain's, and France's healthcare are so egregious, than why is the U.S. still ranked worse than all three countries? And if universal healthcare means higher taxes, isn't that still better than a country where a large portion of even the employed population doesn't have healthcare coverage?

EDIT; Here's the page where Moore refutes CNN's false information, point by point.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

It's just me, two cats, and three large air-purifier things here now. Gods, I love being alone, even under these circumstances.

Lucky the cat has been rather clingy, practically glued to my calf wherever I go in the house and meowing constantly. I was thinking he's like a girl who's chosen a man because he's always been sweet to her and provided for her, only to find in a seemingly threatening situation, she has a primal need to feel protected by him and she's not sure he's up to it--so she tries to find out by constantly demanding attention.

It was an interesting night's sleep. Victoria the cat was perfectly cool, content hanging out next to me while I read before she retired to the closet for the evening. Lucky, meanwhile, was continually pawing at my door to be let in and, when let in, he'd walk around the room for a few moments, meowing, before pawing on the door to be let out. He repeated this sequence of actions several times between 4:30am and 6:30am--and just leaving the door open didn't help, either. He merely jumped on my pillow and began pawing the wall behind my head.

However, I did manage to get to sleep at the incredible time of 1:30am, which I suspect I owe to lack of sleep from the previous night and a glass of whiskey. Surprisingly enough, Catch-22 is a much better book with a glass of whiskey. Suddenly prose that seemed half-hearted and distant became rather amiable and warmly enthusiastic. Suddenly it makes sense that this novel was a bestseller in the 50s.

I was genuinely awed by Sonya Taaffe's "Kaddish for a Dybbuk" in her Postcards from the Province of Hyphens. It's strange to think I converse regularly with someone so brilliant--the poem in question so nicely captures the atmosphere of grieving at a funeral and gives it a supernatural package as keen as anything Neil Gaiman wrote for Sandman--that wonderful feeling of seeing something absolutely fantastic and feeling every detail of the thing resonate with you as it's so human an experience as to be personally yours. She's impossibly good, this Taaffe girl.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I'm tired. I'm not exactly sure what's going on. But yesterday I moved everything out of my room, including the furniture, and I was told we were going to need to be out of the house on Tuesday. Only I awoke this morning to find my grandmother was gone, and my mother, also trying to figure out what's going on, had called my grandmother to find out she'd rejected staying at one aunt's house because it smelled weird, had decided to sleep in her car, but changed her mind and is on the 8 freeway looking for a hotel. I'm still here, meanwhile, having managed to set up the computer in the upstairs guest room, and the two guys working downstairs on my room aren't wearing masks. Looks like the carpet's been torn out and there's a plastic covering over the door with a big pump attached.

The cats are terrified, but at least nothing's being done to my aunt's room, so I don't need to worry about them. I'm mainly just deciding what I can do to-day. I suppose I can catch up on my reading. I'm up to page 25 of Narbonic, which is still so far a pretty good series. I'm almost done with Maggie the Mechanic, and I'm about a third of the way through Catch-22, which is a book I'm afraid I must at this point describe as no more than mildly entertaining. Maybe I just wish it had stronger threads, maybe I'm just sick of the relentless tongue-in-cheek. Sometimes the character peculiarities are genuinely interesting, especially in the context of a commentary on war--like Yossarian's unabashed acts of self-preservation or Dunbar's fondness for people he doesn't like in order to stretch time. But then there are flat, cartoonish characters like Chief Halfoat whom I just find tedious. I do sort of like the references to war as being a business where strangers blow up strangers. War as a dehumanising bureaucracy is a good picture to paint, to be sure . . .

Friday, July 06, 2007

Busy packing things away to-night. But it's always a good time for Morrissey;

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'm losing a wall in here on Saturday, so once again me and my things're tossed in the air like confetti and I don't know exactly where all of it's going to land yet. It seems like things and people around here are getting crazier by the day. I expect I'll spend the next couple of days packing things up again, but for now I intend to goof off for a bit. Who knows when I'll get the chance again?

Here are some especially cool Oblivion videos I found on YouTube;

Monday, July 02, 2007

The opening from Fallout 2, the best computer RPG ever made;

Bethesda's in charge of Fallout 3, and I'm fervently hoping that they don't fuck up the dialogue and speech interface, the best part of Fallout 2. I really hope they don't use the tedious colour wheel thing from Oblivion.

Things from Fallout 2 that I'm afraid won't be in Fallout 3;

The ability to hire prostitutes.
The ability to hire prostitutes for your NPCs.
Drugs that temporarily improve character stats.
The potential to become chemically addicted to a certain drug, taking a hit to your stats when you can't get a fix.
Hubology, a rather harsh, and very funny, parody of Scientology.
The ability to become a porn star.
The potential to fail an audition for a porno in an embarrassing manner based on your stats.
The ability to kill children.

These kinds of things are getting to be pretty rare in video games these days. What we need is a return to traditional video game values.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I saw 1408 last night, and it was exactly what I expected it to be, which was fine, since it was exactly what I was in the mood for. It was a nice little haunted house story with several effective little scares, and when they weren't effective, they were at least fun--they even rather unabashedly borrowed something from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. The movie did a good job of creating a consistent, interesting mood, and Samuel L. Jackson as the hotel manager proved to be far more essential than I thought he'd be. I especially loved when Cusack challenged him to name the haunt a "phantom" or a "spirit" and Jackson just says, "It's an evil fucking room." When Samuel L. Jackson says something, especially a fucking something, you know he means it.

There was decent character development, and the scenes addressing the repressed emotional baggage of Cusack's character served as excellent breaks between freaky bits, and it kept things feeling fresh. A good way to spend an evening.

I had a big pretzel with salt and cheese. Normally, if I ever get a pretzel, I get just the core, unadorned bread thing, but I felt like being conventional last night, since I was seeing a relatively normal movie in a decidedly normal theatre. I didn't even mind the people talking during the movie, not even the girl behind me who saw to heralding much of the movie's plain visual statements ("He's still in the room!", "It's her!", "A thermostat."). I guess I just wanted to enjoy the sort of night of entertainment modern humanity and commercialism had prescribed for the average citizen. Well, I guess I just wanted to give my brain a rest, since I'd been working on three different projects yesterday and I am simply not built for multitasking. I know it's a stereotype that girls are better at multitasking than guys, and I'm afraid I fit the bill. Multitasking gives me a feeling of dizzy panic, like a neanderthal piloting a spitfire. I guess I did get some things done, but such days never feel very productive.

In what was probably a malevolent moment of serendipity, I saw an article this morning on msn about working as a comic book artist that mentioned how artists are typically paid between 100 and 300 dollars a page. This immediately filled my head with stupid fantasies--like, if my 23 page comic is accepted, I could expect at least 2,300 dollars? That probably sounds like small potatoes to most people, but I never dreamed of earning that much money. I have got to get my hopes down . . .