Thursday, July 31, 2008

And now back to Saturday again.

I decided to try to catch one of Joss Whedon's panels after Tori Amos, but his and Eliza Dushku's panel for Dollhouse was just forty-five minutes later so I didn't really think I could make it. I waited in line anyway and did get pretty close before I had to face the reality that the Dollhouse line had become the Battlestar Galactica line. The Battlestar Galactica panel had Tricia Helfer, James Callis, Michael Trucco, Katee Sackhoff, Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, and Kevin Smith. I considered going in to see it, but having never actually watched the series, I thought I'd feel like too much of a poseur. Judging by how much many of my friends seem to like the show, I suspect I'm probably going to really regret missing the panel when I finally get around to watching it.

But instead, I went for lunch. Pokez, the wonderful Mexican restaurant ten blocks away from the convention centre that I normally go to was completely full most of the days I went there during the Con, which makes me wonder if word's spread about it among convention goers. So instead of Pokez, most days I was getting my lunch from various Japanese restaurants. I do recommend exploring the main floor of the Comic-Con after a bottle of sake.

When I got back, I saw there was no line for room 6CDEF, which I found a little depressing since I'd gotten there only twenty minutes before Ray Bradbury was scheduled to appear.

I'd once again not looked too closely at the preceding panel's description, seeing it was something about the DC animated universe. I was pleasantly surprised to find onstage the people behind Justice League Unlimited, a show I'd really liked; Bruce Timm, Lauren Montgomery, and Andrea Romano. Joining them was DC Comics president Paul Levitz as well as, for some reason, Nathan Fillion. Fillion voiced the relatively minor character Vigilante on Justice League: Unlimited. I know Fillion was on the Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog panel, so I'm guessing he decided to stay for this panel just for kicks. He didn't talk much.

They showed a trailer for a new Wonder Woman direct to DVD animated film, which uses the Bruce Timm style that dates back to Batman the Animated Series, which is nice to see again after all the new shitty Glen Murakami series.

The next panel was Ray Bradbury and interviewer Arnold Kunert so I moved up several rows. I'm sad to say the room was only half full, but then again, 6CDEF is twice the size of 6B. Still, it feels like there ought to've been more people.

Maybe it's just that Ray Bradbury's at the Con every year. He appeared at the Comic-Con in 1970 and many, many Comic-Cons since. It's hard to imagine he'd have much to say he hasn't said already. But I enjoyed listening to him talk, despite the kid sitting next to me, staring at me and smacking his lips really loud.

If I had to sum up everything Bradbury said with one word, it would be, "Love." The guy could not stop talking about love. When someone asked if a writer should do something or other (I couldn't quite make it out), Bradbury sounded angry, yelling, "The most important thing is love! To hell with everything else!" He said he's not making a penny off his new Fahrenheit 451 stage play, but that it wasn't important because he loved doing it. He talked about how it took forever to get his story "Chrysalis" published, which he wrote in the 1940s, but it didn't matter, because he wrote it out of love. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I've heard someone barrage an audience with the word "love" as much as Bradbury did. But, hey, I can dig it. I think he figures that's the best thing he can do when speaking to people who admire him; if you're in a quandary, go with the option that has "love" written on it. That is important to remember.

Bradbury told some good stories, too. He talked about a conversation he had with Chuck Jones about It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and how he told Jones how disappointing it was that we never actually get to see The Great Pumpkin. Bradbury made a painting of a tree which he showed to Jones, and the two decided to make an animated feature out of it. Unfortunately, Jones and his whole unit lost their jobs shortly afterwards, and it wasn't until 1993 that The Halloween Tree was made into a movie without Jones. But Bradbury seemed pleased with it. This was after he had adapted his original screenplay into a novel.

He talked about working on the screenplay for Moby Dick, and how he couldn't get it right until he looked at himself in a mirror and said, "I am Herman Melville!"

A couple filmmakers joined him onstage and showed clips from their adaptation of "Chrysalis". It looks extremely low budget, but Bradbury seemed pleased.

A woman gave Bradbury a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex toy which he seemed enormously pleased with.

I'd better get some work done on my comic now. I think there'll be at least two more Comic-Con posts. There're enough experiences in four days of Comic-Con to fill two years, I think.
I've got at least two more Comic-Con reports, but I want to write this dream down real quick; I haven't even had coffee yet.

I didn't sleep well, and I think I might describe the dream as an actual nightmare, though nothing particularly scary ever happened in it. I found I'd thrown off my sheets when I woke up, though.

It started with my sister and I going to Grossmont Centre mall and I suggested to her that we go into Starbuck's so I could buy some Final Fantasy VII action figures. Inside, we were talking about splitting the cost of four when my cell phone rang. It was a woman's voice that sounded familiar but I couldn't quite think of her name. "I didn't know your series would do so well," she said.

I thought, What is she talking about? Who is this person to care how well one of my series is doing, and anyway, is either of them really doing well enough to warrant a phone call? "I'm sorry, who are you?" I asked.

She ignored me and continued talking about how impressed she was, though I was getting a strange feeling she didn't actually care at all. She continued to refuse to tell me who she was, so I started doing an impression of Orson Welles; "No, do not look for me. You cannot see me. You can only see . . . the shadows."

She didn't say anything, so I continued, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

"What are you doing?" she asked and I did my best rendition of The Shadow's evil cackle. She hung up.

The Grossmont Centre Starbuck's is connected to the Barnes and Noble, and my sister spotted our mother in the bookstore being swallowed by a shelf.

Later, I was on a movie set of a dimly lit mansion den with a massive marble fireplace in which there was currently a big orange fire. With me was Maureen O'Hara, looking as she does to-day, and a man I can't identify but who I trusted implicitly. He and I were holding between us by the brim a top hat filled with apples.

Something really terrible happened, and we found ourselves floating in space, surrounded by the square-ish late nineteenth century Polish buildings from INLAND EMPIRE. Then we started falling. The buildings flew up away from us and all the apples started flying out of the hat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So, back to Friday then. After the X-Box panel was the panel for The Venture Brothers, which, judging by all the Monarch, Dr. Girlfriend, and Molotov Cocktease costumes, was what most of the people were in the room for.

The panel featured Mike Sinterniklaas (the voice of Dean Venture), Jackson Publick (series co-creator and voice of Hank Venture among many others), and Keith Crofford, executive vice president of Adult Swim. The two answered questions from a number of fans in costume and in character--one guy managed a perfect Brock Samson impression and asked the panellists if he (Brock) and Molotov Cocktease were ever going to have sex, at which point a girl dressed as Cocktease shouted from the back of the room, "I've got five minutes!" I saw the two hug a few moments later, but I guarantee you they'll never actually have sex. I'm just sayin'.

A girl asked the two real life Venture Brothers to do the "Go Team Venture!" salute over her head, and the panellists obliged after some initial awkwardness.

After The Venture Brothers panel, a lot of people left the room, so I decided to move up to the third aisle, where Rorschach was sitting. I asked him if he was saving the three empty seats next to him.

"No," he said. "But I need a lot of personal space."

Yes, I'll bet you do, I thought. I sat down two seats away from him.

The next panel was for Robot Chicken and featured show creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, writers Tom Root, Doug Goldstein, Breckin Meyer, and Kevin Shinick. They had voice actor Tom Kane with them as well, who astonished the room with a dead perfect Morgan Freeman impression.

Seth Green and Breckin Meyer dominated the panel as they both seemed to be filled with lot of energy. Green told a story about trying to get Harrison Ford on Robot Chicken which did a lot to explain Ford's lack of interesting roles for the past fifteen or more years. Green was never able to get past Ford's people, the last person he spoke to apparently having been Ford's agent who'd been with Ford since the 70s. Green had been making the pitch to her on the phone, telling her how Robot Chicken would be fun and good for Ford's image, when the woman interrupted him to ask, "Wait--there's a whole channel for cartoons?"

Green recounted explaining as patiently as he could manage, "You've heard of Ted Turner, the multi-billionaire, right?"


"Well, Turner thought it would be a good idea to have an entire channel dedicated to cartoons, and then later a late night block of adult programming developed which became Adult Swim . . ."


And Green never heard back from camp Harrison Ford.

But, Green told us, Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams are both going to appear on the next Robot Chicken Star Wars special. "The great thing about Billy Dee," said Green, "is that he always talks like that." Imitating Williams' smooth, persistently pleased, insinuating voice, Green said, "I would like a turkey sandwich."

I expected a lot of the people who'd come for the Adult Swim panels to stay for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th anniversary panel, which was next, but most of the people left and were replaced by a slightly older crowd coming in. Damned kids. Even Rorschach left.

Comic-Con workers came in bearing real Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot puppets, both eliciting applause and a general feeling of awe. People got up to get their pictures taken with them, and I for one couldn't stop just staring at them.

Then came the humans; Mike Nelson, Joel Hodgson, Kevin Murphy, Trace Beaulieu, Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff, Paul Chaplin, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Bridget Jones, Mike's wife, who was for some reason seated five people away from her husband. "Oddly enough, they requested this seating arrangement," said Corbett.

The panel was moderated by Patton Oswalt, who is a very funny comedian, but somehow perhaps a little too slick. Although I was just a few feet away from all these people, Oswalt somehow made it feel like I was watching it all on television. He also never opened the floor to questions, which was a little annoying. But on the other hand, he was very funny.

"I demand you do the whole panel in your Ratatouille voice," said Joel (Patton Oswalt was the voice of that movie's lead character).

"As you wish, Sire," said Oswalt in some kind of thick, vaguely Welsh accent. Then he explained, in his normal voice, "That's from the alternate, very dark ending, where Remy wiped out Paris with the plague. It's going to be on the Criterion edition."

He asked a lot of questions of the panel that I'd unfortunately already heard answered many times before. I was happy to see that Mike and Joel were very nice to each other, asking each other questions as they tried to remember this or that about the show--I was a little worried there might be bitterness over their current competing riffing enterprises, Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic.

For some reason I was most excited to see Trace Beaulieu, who was the original voice of Crow and played Dr. Clayton Forrester. Strangely, looking at him, I somehow saw Crow more than Forrester. But he was mostly quiet and seemed a little depressed. I always preferred his Crow over Corbett's, though I do like Corbett. There just seemed to be more nuance in Beaulieu's performance and a much broader range.

Oswalt asked him about the white stripes in Dr. Forrester's hair and moustache, to which Beaulieu replied with evident emotional pain, "There was a third stripe . . ." prompting Kevin Murphy to scream wildly in terror and pantomime gouging his eyes out.

Oswalt talked to them about the wide ranging nature of a lot of their jokes, referencing a bit in Mitchell where, seeing an old man being led away in handcuffs, Crow had said, "Aw, they're arresting Harlan Ellison!" and Joel had said, "Good!"

"You had something for people who liked Harlan Ellison and for people who hated Harlan Ellison," said Oswalt. And then he talked about watching the show with a comedian friend of his when Joel or one of the bots mentioned an obscure comedian local to Minneapolis, with whom Oswalt's friend happened to be familiar.

"That was our attempt to reach a wider audience," said Mike.

Asked if there was any movie they found themselves uncomfortable with riffing on, they talked about a film from the 1930s called Child Bride, which they'd found much too disturbing to make funny. They insisted to the crowd on Friday night that Child Bride is much to obscure for anyone to find, but I see to-day it's been available on DVD for some time.

After the panel, I hurried to the restroom, but found all the urinals were out of order except for one being used by one of the Monarch's henchmen. I was hurrying to the next restroom when, going through the corridor on the opposite side of 6B, I found myself in the midst of all the MST3k people who were milling about, chatting with fans. Patton Oswalt had vanished utterly, which is extraordinary since 6B has no secret celebrity exit, which was why all the rest of the panellists were in the hall.

I thought about talking to one of them, but I was nervous and having to pee wasn't helping. I actually found my path blocked by Trace Beaulieu, who wandered alone up to a wall, stopped, and looked up at the ceiling. I almost spoke then, but in the next instant a girl was asking him for his autograph. "Okay, but don't tell anyone!" he said.

So I walked past and continued my grand journey to the restroom!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I saw three good panels in 6B on Friday, but I feel like skipping to Saturday right now. These are my Comic-Con Reports, I'll be non-linear if I want to.

I was having a tough time deciding whether I wanted to see the Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles panel or the Tori Amos panel, which were both scheduled for the same time. Both panels would draw enough people that I knew I'd have to sit through the preceding panel of whichever I chose, so my decision to see the Tori Amos panel was made mostly because I felt I'd rather sit through Ralph Bakshi than Ben 10.

The Lord of the Rings movie Bakshi made in 1978 and Cool World are, I think, the only films of Bakshi's I've seen, and I haven't seen either of those in a very long time. But I felt I was probably more familiar with most of his work than 90% of the rest of the people in the room, who were mostly beautiful girls in their 20s dressed like faeries and Pre-Raphaelite models, so clearly there for Tori Amos.

Bakshi came in by himself around 30 minutes early--his was the first panel of the day, so he could do that without interrupting anyone. He's a stout, bearded old man with a voice a little like Tony Curtis, and he expressed gladness at seeing that so many people had shown up. "I'm always afraid one day no one will. I'll probably cry," he smiled. I don't know if he thought he suddenly had an enormous fan base amongst young girls, but I think everyone was a little uncomfortable now, especially as, when trying to decide how to pass the time, Bakshi asked the audience if they had any questions for him.

Fortunately, a few guys, who were all scattered in seats in the rear of the room, were actually there for him and asked him a couple questions, mostly about Lord of the Rings and Cool World. There's an upcoming sequel to Bakshi's film Wizards and one guy asked if there would be any voice actors returning from the first film.

"They're all dead," said Bakshi. The crowd automatically laughed, and although Bakshi smiled, he reiterated a couple times how most of the people he'd worked with when he was young were dead, and I don't think he thought it was funny.

I must say, the hour and a half before the Tori Amos panel were not dull in the slightest. Bakshi seemed unsure if he wanted to stick around when he found out how early he was, but almost without seeming to be aware of it, he launched into one absolutely amazing story after another. I'll be damned if the whole room wasn't in love with Ralph Bakshi by the end.

He told a story about working on his film Fire and Ice that was one of the best things I'd ever heard. Fire and Ice was a collaboration between Bakshi and Frank Frazetta, and Bakshi talked about how Frazetta, a man in his fifties, demonstrated to the movie's stuntmen how to do some of the more arduous stunts with more energy than any of the stuntmen demonstrated. Bakshi also mentioned how Frazetta carried all his paintings around with him in a trailer.

Painting backgrounds on the movie were a young James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade. Apparently, according to Bakshi, they learned all they knew about painting from Frazetta, which is hilarious in itself. "Kinkade makes a lot of money off garbage now," said Bakshi, at which point the room applauded. "But I will say this for Kinkade; he was the greatest hustler I ever met."

He described Kinkade constantly coming into his office and demanding more money, and they'd get into really heated arguments partly because, as Bakshi said, Kinkade "didn't like Jewish guys from Brooklyn" (Bakshi's a Jewish guy from Brooklyn). Finally, one day Kinkade tells Bakshi he and Gurney have to hitchhike across the country. "What d'you mean you gotta hitchhike across the country? We're making a movie!"

But Kinkade eventually wore Bakshi down, and he and Gurney went from town to town getting their pictures in every local paper, talking about the movie and how they were the great artists. When they got back to Los Angeles, Bakshi said Kinkade, "told me he needed a raise. I said, 'why' and he said because he's famous now."

Bakshi talked a lot about how one needs to deal with greed constantly in the business. He said he had a lot of difficulty with studios because he absolutely refused to take notes. He started talking about politics, too, telling us we were crazy if we didn't vote for Obama. "There were crooks and thieves in my day," he said. "But never like this."

When it finally got to be 10:15am, the time Bakshi's panel was originally supposed to start, one of the Comic-Con higher ups came in and presented Bakshi with an Inkpot Award. People cheered and Bakshi said he wished his old friends were alive to see it.

The Tori Amos panel wasn't nearly as interesting, though it wasn't bad by any means. Tori looked great, wearing a black dress with a massive, stiff collar that extended up around her like a big tube. Her hair's still bright, orange red, long and straight with bangs. This was all in 6B again, and I was in the fourth row, so I was closer than I'd ever been at any of her concerts. With her were four comic book creators, as the panel was for Comic Book Tattoo, a collection of comics inspired by Tori Amos songs.

Amos discussed with her fellow panellists the similarities between creating panel structures in comics with writing music. Kelly Sue DeConnick talked about how working without panel breaks was similar to working without drums.

When it got time for fans to ask questions, the moderator stipulated, "We all know you love Tori and you're happy she's here." This didn't stop nearly everyone from prefacing with variations of, "I love you Tori and I'm happy you're here." No terrible calamity ensued and no-one bitched about the loss of the perhaps one minute attributable to everyone telling Tori they loved her.

Well, to-morrow maybe I'll get to the halfway point on these reports . . .

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Watchmen panel was scheduled for 11:55am in Hall H, so anyone who knew anything about Hall H knew they needed to be there at 9:30am at the latest if they wanted any hope of getting inside.

As usual, there were a lot of great costumes at the Con this year, and for the first time I noticed a lot of people actually trying to stay in character for the Con's duration. In line for the Watchmen, I heard someone yell, "Torgo!" and saw the would-be satyr of the American Civil War shambling along further back in line as he responded with his characteristically quavering voice, "Hello. Good afternoon." I suppose he probably ought to've said, "Good afternoon. Hello. Good afternoon." It was a very nice costume, complete with the bulging knees and gnarled black staff. I saw Torgo a few other times during the Con, getting himself from place to place always with the same slow, tipsy gait.

Friday was a very nice day for panels, but it would've been even better if Dan Akroyd wasn't such a flake. Most of the panels I wanted to see on Friday were in room 6B, which is a big room, but most of the people assigned to it seem to be a little too big for it, while nearby 6CDEF, more than twice the size of 6B, somehow tended to feature panels that filled less than half of its seats. The Ghostbusters panel with Dan Akroyd and Ernie Hudsen was set for 1:45pm in room 6B, so when Watchmen ended at 1pm, I didn't really think I'd be able to catch Ghostbusters, but I figured it was worth a shot, and anyway I'd be in line for the subsequent 6B panels nice and early.

The line already extended to outside, onto a terrace. As I walked past a security guard, I heard her tell someone, "You know this line is for Ghost Hunters, not Ghostbusters, right?" I wasn't precisely sure what to make of that, but I supposed the lady was either confused or joking. So I sat down with my book and apple (I was reading Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron for the entire Con) and waited. A kid who sat down next to me asked what I was waiting for.

"Mystery Science Theatre 3000," I said.

"What time is that?"

"Seven," and he seemed a little taken aback. I gathered he was there for the X-Box Live panel at 4:25pm. He probably thought he was there epically early, yet so easily did I pwn.

People started walking along the line, shouting, "Ghostbusters is cancelled! Ghost Hunters is still on!" Apparently Ghost Hunters is a real show on the Sci-Fi Channel, but at the time it sounded to me like a weak ruse to thin the line. The line was thinned, but there were no Ghostbusters. I had a great seat to see nothing for about an hour before the Ghost Hunters panel began, so I left for lunch. I was particularly annoyed with Dan Akroyd when I saw a guy with his kids all in Ghostbusters shirts, not to mention all the people in full Ghostbusters costumes and proton packs with working lights.

I came back to 6B in time for the X-Box Live panel, which I wasn't remotely interested in. I hadn't even looked very closely at the panel description, so I was surprised when a cadre of horror movie directors took the stage. I had a sixth row seat to see John Clisham, Lucky McKee, Andrew Douglas, David Slade, and James Wan, the director of Saw. As a gimmick of sorts, Microsoft had apparently hired a bunch of horror directors to make short comedy films for X-Box Live original content.

Inappropriate laughter seemed to be a recurring theme at the Con, and James Wan, talking about the relationship between horror and comedy, talked about the test audience for Saw laughing throughout the entire movie. His collaborator (who was with him on the panel and whose name I didn't catch) postulated that it was because sometimes when something is really scary, the first instinct is to laugh. I didn't think it would be polite to tell them people had been laughing at Saw because Saw's a joke.

The moderator cautioned the panellists to avoid harsh language, so David Slade won points with me when he sat down and said, "Hello, you cunts. How the fuck are you all doing?" Slade directed Hard Candy, a movie I enjoyed, and 30 Days of Night, which I haven't seen. All the directors present showed clips from their short comedy films, and Slade's was easily the best; a simple computer animation short called Meatdog about a dog made of meat. Slade said the short ended with Meatdog having to make an important and noble sacrifice.

John Clisham explained that he'd ended up making a horror film instead of a comedy, and he showed a very brief teaser of a slow tracking shot in a dim high school corridor with the sound of a girl crying in terror somewhere in the distance. Then quick cuts with sudden loud noises showed a shambling janitor with sharp teeth and eye shadow. The film's title, The Janitor, appeared, and everyone laughed as they had throughout the teaser. "Ah, apparently I did make a comedy," said Clisham uncomfortably. The makers of Saw tried to console him, explaining this is what they had meant about laughter being the automatic reaction to sights too horrible. I still didn't think it was polite to point out people had probably laughed because The Janitor had seemed like a joke.

Hmm. I'd expected to get to more with this post. But I'm out of time; I have errands to run to-day. I've still barely scratched the surface.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Now Comic-Con's over. Every time I stand up, I feel my feet crumple like soda cans, and yet I sorely miss the Con already.

I feel like all four days are toppling on me now. I'm so tired. But now is the time for blogging. So let's see . . . I'll start with Thursday.

I know I said I wasn't going to promote my comic at the con, but I figured, hell, Comic-Con's just once a year, so after checking out the floor quickly, I went to the portfolio review. I showed up a little later than last year, putting my name on the second page of a waiting list. I started waiting at 10:30am, I think, and waited until after 2:30pm for them to get to me. But the guys I talked to really seemed to like my colouring and character designs. Still, I don't find myself terribly optimistic. Maybe they're waiting until after Comic-Con to do callbacks, but I'm not keeping my hopes up.

Over and over at the Con, I heard from people, from Ray Bradbury to Ralph Bakshi, that it's more important to do what you love than to make money. At least I have that covered.

I went to room 26 that night to see the documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, about the life and work of H.P. Lovecraft, featuring interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, and Caitlin R. Kiernan, among others. The interviews were great; Caitlin's comments came off as good impressions of the general mood conveyed by Lovecraft's philosophies. I'm pretty sure I've heard her talk before about Lovecraft's wonderful use of the existential terror caused by impressions of "deep time" in his work, but it was nice to see her talking about it in an official H.P. Lovecraft documentary. And Neil Gaiman did that adorable thing he does with words that end in "st" where he stretches the "s" into a hiss as though he's not entirely sure he's going to get around to the "t". The documentary wasn't perfect; it spent too much time synopsising Lovecraft's stories and there were a few too many documentary clichés, like the slow fade to black on the tombstone accompanied by solitary piano after the narrator says something like, "On March 15, 1937, Howard Phillips Lovecraft died . . ." At one point, the narrator started off with something like, "In 1924, Lovecraft embarked on another kind of relationship," and I thought to myself, "Please don't say he got married, please don't say he got married," and of course, he said he got married.

But I learned one or two interesting things about Lovecraft I didn't know. And you can't beat the lineup of interviews. It's nice to see Lovecraft being analysed.

Room 26 is one of the smallest rooms at the Con, about the size of an average college class room (not the theatre rooms). It was half filled, and yet I still managed to sit next to a girl who decided to talk throughout the entire movie. I consider this rude during any halfway decent movie, but it's especially contemptible when the director happens to be sitting a few feet away, and its the premiere of his movie. I couldn't make out any of what the girl said, but it sounded like she was actually arguing with the narrator. I glanced at her once and saw she wasn't with anyone, so I guess she was just trying to instruct all of us. But I enjoyed the documentary in spite of this and the fact that I really needed to pee.

Well, I think I'll wrap this up here. I'm just too tired right now, and I suppose that's natural after several days of lots of walking and very little sleep. To-morrow I'll probably write something of better length, as I'll undoubtedly be up early and energetic.
Watching one of Yahoo!'s news videos just now about bands making deals for their music to appear in the Guitar Hero games, listed among the names who've gotten onboard were Aerosmith, ACDC, and Jimi Hendrix. That's right; Jimi Hendrix digs Guitar Hero and Yahoo! has the scoop. SIGH.

I got in really early to-night--around eight o'clock. I finally got in a desperately needed shower (I told you I wouldn't have time for anything), so I think I'll start trying to blog about this thing properly.

I'll get the panel for the Watchmen movie* out of the way first since I know it's what most of you are most curious about. First of all, I still think the movie's going to be a disaster at the box office and I still think it's going to be so inferior to the graphic novel that I'll ultimately dearly wish the movie had never come into existence. That being said, I love Carla Gugino. The number one thing I took away from that panel is that she'll be the best thing in the movie, though she'll barely be in it.

First a head honcho of Comic Con came out and thanked us all for being there. Then he brought out some schmuck from Entertainment Weekly who started reading off note cards a statement like, "In 1986, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created . . ." and I started laughing helplessly, to the bewilderment of everyone sitting nearby because the guy sounded like a sixth grader giving a half assed book report. He might as well have been saying, "I did my book report on Watchmen because it was really good and it's got superheroes and I think that's really cool and neat and I finished reading it all the way now, and you know, you should read it too, I think because it's really good." This after everyone had waited at least two hours to get into the fabled Hall H.

Then Zack Snyder came out, followed by the entire principle cast, as well as Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. Gibbons spoke about how wonderful it was seeing his drawings come to life, how he loved seeing his "g" signature on set graffiti. The Entertainment Weekly schmuck asked him if he ever thought about visiting Alan Moore and telling him to "get over his bad self" and come support the movie. Gibbons laughed and said, "There is an elephant in the room, isn't there?" He said he wished Alan could share the joy he was experiencing at seeing brought to life things that had been in his head, and he was sorry Alan had had such bad experiences before.

It's hard to put a whole lot of stock in everyone's insistence of commitment to the material when they go right ahead adapting it against the wishes of its original author. Though I have to admit, Zack Snyder made a good point when he said that when he got the offer to direct the project, he would have felt responsible if, having passed on it, it would have gone to someone who'd have done an even worse job (the actual words he used, of course, were something like, "a bad job"). I'd forgotten how prone to rambling Snyder is. He gets stuck in loops, repeating the same bits of information as he goes further and further from the point.

Much more succinct was Billy Crudup, who is apparently kind of a badass. "You had to play someone," asked the EW schmuck, "who experiences all time at once, who's blue, and--"

"I already know what you're going to ask and I've already answered this question," said Crudup with a chilly smirk.

Dead silence in the huge room, followed by an "Ooooooo" from the crowd and nervous laughter.

"But they haven't heard it," said the Ew schmuck. Crudup eventually sort of responded to the question, but he seemed a bit detached for the whole panel, and I got the definite impression he considered himself a lot better than the movie. I don't hold it against him--he's probably right.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who's playing The Comedian, seemed like a complete prick, which I suppose is appropriate. He had a constant smirk, though it wasn't one that said he thought he was better than the movie so much as a smirk that said he thought everything in the world was stupid and funny. Again, admittedly appropriate to his character and it got me thinking about The Comedian's similarities to the Joker in The Dark Knight. He talked about how exhausting the shoot could be and added, with a smile, "I know there was one scene with Carla I'll never forget."

Is that asshole really talking about a rape scene like that? I thought. There was uncomfortable silence until Gugino forced out a wicked laugh, at which point the crowd also laughed--it sounded like she knew she had to in order to get Morgan off the hook. I really didn't think the guy deserved it. I thought her motive to laugh may've been entirely my imagination until she started talking about playing Sally Jupiter a little later.

We'd just watched clips from the movie, among which was a shot of Sally rubbing her eyes after the Minutemen group photo, followed by a shot of The Comedian leering at her. Gugino talked about how important that was to her to finding the character, how it showed the "light" that was extinguished from Sally's life after what Gugino quite soberly, and with a little hurt in her voice, described as "a . . . very intense scene with Jeff." The light of what Sally's life could have been if not for that incident, and how Sally transferred the potential of that light to Laurie.

Gugino spoke with complete passion, and I felt like she was more committed to her character than anyone else on the panel. And I thought about what a job actors have--how they have to put all their vulnerabilities on the line for faith in their directors**. Inevitably, as in this case, some directors probably don't deserve it. I wanted to hug Carla Gugino.

Some of the clips really did make me want to like the movie, mostly because several very closely replicated the art. I didn't dig the overuse of slow motion, though. The characters mostly looked right, except for some of the costumes, most notably Night Owl's.

Waiting for the trolley one night at a crowded stop, I saw a girl dressed as an anime character with a top hat and bunny ears walk past a cop, who said something complimentary to her, and commented to someone, "I gotta admit, she looked pretty cool." Is "cool" really the word? I thought.

I noticed another girl, who looked like she didn't have anything to do with Comic Con, was laughing with a strange persistence as two quiet boys grabbed and prodded her. The cop didn't say anything, she didn't say anything to the cop, or ask anyone for help. And yet later, I thought about how that laugh resembled Carla Gugino's and I hoped the girl was okay.

*Ah. Looking at that Wikipedia entry, I see Alan Moore shares my feelings about 300; "I had a lot of problems with it, and everything I heard or saw about the film tended to increase [those problems] rather than reduce them: [that] it was racist, it was homophobic, and above all it was sublimely stupid."

**"You have to go off the edge of the cliff and build your wings on the way down," I heard Ray Bradbury say to-day on the subject of what one needs to do to be a writer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm soooooooo tired. But I got back at 10:30pm to-night, so here's a quick update summary before I collapse to get on this behemoth again to-morrow;

A wonderful anime experience, a good H.P. Lovecraft documentary, clips from the film adaptation of Watchmen that made me want to like it a lot more than the trailer did, finding myself surrounded in a hall by the cast and writers of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (No, I didn't talk to them), and the sight of the Venture Brothers, in the flesh. And much more. To-morrow brings Tori Amos and Ray Bradbury. And maybe I'll get around to catching one of the eight million panels Joss Whedon is doing this year.

Two essential things I recommend anyone attending the Comic-Con bring with them; a good book and apples. And if you should ever encounter Rorschach, do not, under any circumstances, invade his personal space.

I have to get to sleep in an hour. So . . . good night.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I've uploaded Chapter 4 of Venia's Travels a couple days early. Mostly because I don't know when I'll have time to do it again within the next couple days. I'm going to the Con at 8:30am to-morrow and staying until well into the night. This blog might also be pretty quiet for a few days, but I promise detailed accounts next week.

Incidentally, if you see anything on the Comic Con schedule you'd like me to see and blog about in detail for you, let me know.

I ended up not seeing the pilot for J.J. Abrams' Fringe, though I easily could have. There were only a few hundred people lined up for it an hour beforehand and that's well within ballroom 20's capacity. But I decided I'd rather beat the rush to the trolley and get back here to colour.

As I walked passed the Fringe line, I noticed the end of another line going in the opposite direction. Twenty people in, people were sitting down and chatting, and I thought to myself, "I bet this isn't a line for anything. I bet a bunch of people just decided to sit down in a line and these lemmings back here just got behind them." Sure enough, I walked around the corner and saw the end of the thing was no room or special roped off area, just an end to the people. And you know, I bet almost none of the people queued up for Fringe really gave a damn about the show. They were just looking for something to do to-day. What the hell's it gonna take to get people to extend the Con to more than four days?

On my way to the trolley, I saw a guy with a knapsack who looked like he was seventy years old, dressed as I suspect he was dressed at the 1972 Comic-Con; sneakers, jeans, and a button down chequered shirt.

Anyway, I'd better eat dinner and try to get some sleep. Again, the new Venia's Travels is online. I swear I wrote it before I saw The Dark Knight.
I finished drawing and inking at around 2:30am and then spent the next two hours in some tough negotiations with my printer. It jammed three times last night, having never jammed before. I'd realised the bar code I had printed out in April to get my Comic Con badge was the wrong bar code (I'd been charged for two, remember; it's a boring story, I won't look up the old entry). Once I got that sorted, I decided to put a real effort into making cards. After a lot of struggle making a template for the blank cards I bought a couple days ago, I finally realised the company that'd made the cards had a free template online. The printer was greatly pained in the act of digesting the oak hard paper, but the cards are the best I've ever made, I must say. I promise I won't go all Patrick Bateman about them, though. Unless you want me to.

To-night is Preview Night, so I'll be leaving pretty soon. I'm not in a huge hurry, though. I got there at 4pm, I think, last year and was able to walk straight in, unlike, I gathered, the people who'd been there at noon, who'd dutifully queued around the building before opening. Plus, the only thing that's happening to-night the showing of a pilot episode for J.J. Abrams's newest show. Maybe I'll check it out. I've yet to see anything that guy's done outside of Cloverfield.

If nothing else, I'm looking forward to being downtown again. I'm taking the trolley to-day, but to-morrow I'm riding with my sister, who's gotten a job again, this time as a secret agent for Disney. She's going to be dressed like Agent Smith. Maybe I should try to teach her how to say, "Mr. Anderson" like Hugo Weaving with an American accent . . .

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last night I had the second of what seem to be a series of "hidden kitten" dreams. In the first one I'd discovered a black kitten had been living on a couch in plain view, but had just become visible to me, as though a hypnotic cloak had been removed, a la the Shadow. Last night, I dreamt another hidden kitten, a white one with black spots, had grown up and had hidden kittens of her own.

I really miss having cats in this house. I miss going upstairs to feed them every morning. Lucky, Victoria, and Olivia. Olivia was a pretty white cat with green eyes who didn't warm to me until a few months before she died. It seemed she lost some kind of reserve and wanted as much love as she could get. I remember one day I sat down next to her and she slowly crawled onto my lap. When I had to go, a little shifting of my muscles was enough to alert her, and she slowly got back up again and walked away, as if to say, "I know you have things to do. I appreciate whatever you can give."

I've only two pages left to draw and ink on Chapter 5. It's weird being this far ahead, especially after having gotten a little behind on Chapter 4. To-night I'll be doing the last two pages and to-morrow's the beginning of Comic-Con. Well, technically it's only Preview Night, but you can bet I'll get all I can out of it. I'll probably have some time left over to colour, too. I haven't finished colouring a single page of Chapter 5 yet, though I've completely coloured one character on every finished page so far. I do it that way sometimes; it's a good way to avoid looking down.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I drew and inked from around 5pm 'til 3:30am. I'll be doing something similar to-day, though hopefully I'll finish earlier since I don't have to go to the grocery store. If I do finish earlier, I'll try to catch up on the colouring.

As I've mentioned, I'm doing this comic a chapter ahead, which means I've had the next chapter ready since last week. The one I'm working on now isn't going to be online until more than two weeks from now. So I suppose I could put this off until next week, when I'd have to work like mad on it, but I really don't want it hanging over my head at Comic-Con.

In case anyone's wondering if I'm going to be trying to promote my comic at the Con; not really. I might make myself some cards, but after three years of trying to make headway at the Con, I've kind of figured out what a long shot it really is. The Con is too much of a zoo.

I'm currently eating my oatmeal, and I could be colouring at the same time, so I'd better get to it. I'll leave you with another sonnet;

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Beads in a brass bucket rolling around
Grinding dice in your idle fist all night
You'd make a mountain before you'd make sound
Or a mutant molehill to drain all light
You field strip your rifle and remake it
Into a shotgun, a shattered wide blast
For the damaged door where nothing would fit
Hoping to connect and seal, blind and fast
But there's a mythological gagged duck
You know is stuck in a tree you can't see
No matter how many places you've struck
The damned duck won't die and he's not set free
Hours crawl 'til night gets bigger than day
Each dawn reveals what you still need to say

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Reading Devin Faraci's review of The Dark Knight on CHUD, I got to marvelling again at what a complete hack Faraci is. The review asks questions of the film's logic and plot that are so clearly answered within the movie itself that I would wonder if Faraci had even watched the whole movie if I didn't know it was entirely due to Faraci's own ego and misdirected pain.

Let me give you a few examples of Faraci's powers of observation;

As the film begins, not long after the ending of the first one, a group of concerned citizens have taken up the mantle of the Bat (and the pads of the Goalie) and begun fighting crime as faux-Batmen. There are a lot of intriguing thematic elements to this concept - Batman's main (mostly unbelievable) arc is about him coming to grips with the impact he's had on Gotham, and these guys (along with The Joker and the reactions of the city's crime bosses) personify that. But they appear at the beginning of the movie and never again; during the third act Gotham is being evacuated and I kept expecting to see these Batmen show up in some form, a bit of closure or at least follow-through on their story.

Er, we do see at least one of them again, rather memorably as a mechanism in one of the Joker's plots that also makes it obvious why we wouldn't see them again afterwards.

There's the same problem with the film's foray to Hong Kong. It presents Nolan the opportunity to do a cool action scene, but that's it, and that scene ends up costing ten to fifteen extra minutes of screentime just to set up.

A lot of people have been claiming this as a useless scene, and I couldn't disagree more. Here's what the Hong Kong segment does; it helps establish the scope of Batman's power, both with physicality and technology, as well as his usefulness as an entity outside of government law enforcement. That last part establishes one of the biggest themes of the movie, ties Batman to the Joker, and also, tangentially, helps establish the Joker's cred with the mob.

Another subplot, about a Wayne Industries employee who figures out his boss is the Batman, similarly dead ends itself with a cute resolution that would have been better served fleshed out into a real story in another movie.

Here, Faraci apparently missed the entire purpose behind one of the film's big action sequences as well as one of the ways it's established that the Joker uses fear to control people.

He asks a spoiler-related question of his readers that I'll answer without a spoiler; because Gordon can't be bought, you dolt.

And what's worse, the very nature of Two Face is once again misused; in Schumacher's take on the character he was just a lunatic all the time, and here he's just using his scarred coin to decide whether or not to kill people. There's no feeling that he's torn about it, and at one point when the coin doesn't allow him to kill someone, he flips again to get a chance to kill another character in an attempt to kill that first person after all. I wanted to see this Two Face be torn, to be a slave to that coin. Instead he feels like a villain with a gimmick.

The point was that Dent is free of the weight of ethical considerations. He's been hurt so bad that he can't see the world in terms of logic anymore; only in terms of chaos.

The movie needs to give Batman some kind of arc (a nicety the comics long since dispensed with), so Nolan makes Batman want to give up the cowl right from the start. I think this is standard second superhero movie bullshit at this point, and it really doesn't fit here. At one point Bruce Wayne fantasizes that Dent in office will be what's needed to allow him to retire, and I couldn't help but wonder whose vision of Batman this was. It takes a certain megalomania to put on a rubber suit and beat up criminals, and one dude getting elected doesn't seem like it could cure that megalomania.

Batman's more interested in doing good than feeding his own ego. That should be ridiculously obvious.

But that's just there to give Batman a story

Er, it's integral to the movie's themes about order and chaos and how far someone can go into the latter while still being good.

he uses that ability to spy on every citizen of Gotham. Or something, it's sort of dumb and vague. It's an obvious allusion to the whole wiretapping thing now going on this country, and Morgan Freeman's character, being wise and black, takes offense at it all.

The hell? The movie's filled with all kinds of black people. The fact that one of them happens to be wise somehow makes the filmmakers devoted to stereotype?

This seems like it's shaping up to a good moral conundrum for the Batman, and to be exploring his fairly fascist side, something no movie ever wants to do. But the movie demurs, having Batman self-destruct the system after using it just the once when he really, really, really had to.

Yeah. Because we're all arguing about whether its ethical to spy on a building where it's known armed terrorists are holding hostages. Faraci's missed the heart of the domestic spying issue. Batman would have been crossing a line if he'd used the device to spy on his political enemies or on other innocent people.

Faraci also gives credit to David Goyer as well as Jonathon Nolan for the screenplay. Actually, the credits say, "Story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, Written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathon Nolan." This could mean a couple of things. It could simply be a reference to Goyer creating this setup in Batman Begins. At best, I think it means Goyer shot one or two of the big ideas Christopher Nolan's way; oil drums in a warehouse, bank heists, etc. But given that Goyer doesn't seem to have written anything decent himself, I think it's far more likely that Goyer's simply the studio's comic book guy they saddled Nolan with in the first movie as some insurance, and he's credited for the second movie because Christopher Nolan had developed some affection for him. Because like Brett Ratner or Zack Snyder, Goyer's a player. He knows how to grease the "wheels", knows how to talk to brass at studio parties, knows how to be loveable, and knows just enough about the craft of filmmaking that good hearted people in Hollywood don't feel too awful about throwing him some bones. Politics do run Hollywood, but a lot of those politics are related to big ideas about what it means to have a heart. Somehow in the Hollywood logic, having a big house in Beverly Hills translates to "just getting by", and a lot of people figure guys like Goyer deserve at least that much. But as Ferris Bueller once said, you can't respect a guy who kisses your ass.

This goes back to what I think is the real reason Faraci's got his knickers in a twist; he got to sit down and actually meet Hellboy a couple weeks ago. And now The Dark Knight has so thoroughly overshadowed Hellboy 2 it's almost grotesque. Add to this that Faraci already didn't like Batman, and you get this decidedly less than objective, grudgingly positive review.

Anyway, I need to get to the grocery store now. I'm going to start doing two pages a day until Comic-Con. Also, for any of my Second Life friends reading, you probably won't see me in sl until next Monday. I'm not going to have much time for anything for about a week . . .

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sometimes I'm kind of amazed by how many problems most of my friends have. Almost all of those problems are medical, compounded by an inability to purchase pills or treatments. I thought to-day about what a real, tangible effect free universal healthcare would have in my social circles. It'd be like a new world. I guess the trade-off would be one or two of my luckier friends complaining about a tax increase.

I think this is probably the real reason I've been trying to eat so much healthier lately; plain oatmeal for breakfast, cous cous or tofu for the other meals, sometimes quinoa, apples for snacks, and I've been getting Subway sandwiches when I'm out; I only get veggies and mayonnaise on white bread, and I'm considering cutting out the mayonnaise.

My sister and I did get to see The Dark Knight yesterday. It's the best comic book movie I've ever seen, and I'm including Ghost World in that equation. It owes a massive debt to Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke", but it has more than enough of its own material to stand on its own feet.

Would someone please stitch Christopher Nolan to his brother? Don't you ever let David Goyer write your screenplays again, sir. There are a lot of reasons The Dark Knight works better than its predecessor, Batman Begins, but the biggest reason is that The Dark Knight was written by Jonathon Nolan and Batman Begins was written by David Goyer. What Goyer, like so many writers of Batman stories, treated as an inherent weakness in the Batman concept, the brothers Nolan very shrewdly treated as a strength. Namely, Batman's refusal to kill people.

More than a few people pointed to the fuzzy logic in Batman's "But I don't have to save you" line in the climactic fight with Liam Neeson in the first movie. The Dark Knight is a movie about why it's important to keep decisions of life or death out of the hands of an emotionally motivated few. It even takes time to say a bit about domestic spying. A lot of people have been saying this is a 9/11 movie, and it definitely is. It's perhaps the best movie possible about how to react to terrorism; it's a great story in a wildly popular movie that demonstrates why principles oughtn't to be compromised. The public's been led off moral ledges by this president's administration for so long by fear, it's about time something appealed to humanity's more graceful sentiments. Gods, it gives me hope like no movie ever has.

Heath Ledger's performance is as excellent as everyone says it is, but on the acting front, I was mainly pleased that such a solid supporting cast was connected to a truly great movie; Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Usually when this many good actors are brought together, it's something completely insubstantial.

Decidedly less impressive was the trailer for the Watchmen movie. As it ended, I leaned over to my sister and said, "I can already see myself trying to convince people it's actually a great comic." My sister nodded--she doesn't read comics, but she's an intelligent girl and she thought the trailer looked pretty lame. So that might be an indicator of how this thing works on people who aren't excited by seeing the nostalgic images in motion. And there's no beefy homophobic white guys beating up on bisexual minorities to bring in the 300 crowd. Yes, I think this movie's going to be a complete disaster*, which I think I almost prefer over something like V for Vendetta, which had its positive qualities. It almost seems like Alan Moore's the victim of a conspiracy. The Dark Knight, actually, with its notes from "The Killing Joke", is probably the best Alan Moore adaptation ever.

*I can't believe I haven't taken a moment to point out that I was right about The Incredible Hulk not doing better than Hulk. So; I was right about The Incredible Hulk not doing better than Hulk!

Friday, July 18, 2008

This morning I watched the first episode of an anime series called Seto no Hanayome. It's about a mermaid who falls in love with a human boy. The twist is that merfolk society closely resembles Japanese organised crime--yakuza. I love that premise, but unfortunately it's executed as just another run of the mill hyperactive romantic comedy. It made me long for the days of Ranma 1/2, when tales of complicated relationships between martial artist shapeshifters had heart.

My sister and I are now going to try to see The Dark Knight. I've already drawn half a page to-day, hopefully I'll have time for the rest after the movie . . . Assuming we can get into the movie.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

There. All caught up. Only to get behind again next week during Comic-Con. Oh, well.

Yesterday, I . . . Hmm. I went grocery shopping, bought some honey garlic sauce for my tofu. I had another mildly strange encounter on The Bridge when an old man or woman (couldn't tell) stopped suddenly, looked wildly to the right. I had to walk around him or her.

I realised yesterday that a guy I knew in high school, Iain Stasukevich, is now writing for He also seems to be the only guy in the world really looking forward to The Spirit movie. I find it kind of interesting that Frank Miller would go with the philosophy of a director needing to assert his own creative vision when adapting when recent adaptations of his works have been lauded for their extreme faithfulness to their sources. Though, if I remember correctly, 300 was modified to include more racism and homophobia.

But, yes, I likely shall go to Zack Snyder's latest Comic-Con Watchmen panel. And I will kvetch about how it's becoming a disappointingly popular boulder, or about how it's horribly unfaithful to the source, or about how it's actually looking kind of good.

Actually, my theory about it is that Rorschach's going to be played as more of a true visionary with his extreme right-wing politics portrayed as wisdom. This is what Alan Moore gets for writing about politics without demonising either perspective; ideologically skewed movie adaptations.

I guess this'll be my last "night off" until a few days after Comic-Con. Well, who am I kidding, that'll be a holiday. But this'll be the last night without anything scheduled. I think I'll walk to Tim's . . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I drank a bottle of wine last night, for once. I don't usually see much point in wine since I know it doesn't keep, and I have to drink a lot more of it to get the same effect as one scotch. Both of those elements add up to me figuring I may as well finish off the bottle in one go. Somehow, I was in the mood; well, and it was exciting to buy wine from Francis Ford Coppola's vineyard. I had the pinot noir, and it was pretty good.

I lost a game of chess to a Maori while I was drinking it. But maybe that was inevitable.

I got the INLAND EMPIRE soundtrack yesterday, and I'm really enjoying it. It's weird having a David Lynch movie soundtrack that doesn't feature Angelo Badalamenti--most of the original music is by Lynch himself--but there are nonetheless stylistic similarities, similarities I don't find in Badalamenti's work outside of his David Lynch projects (such as the soundtrack for Secretary or the theme from Inside the Actor's Studio). I'm wondering if things like the eerie, isolated bass were Lynch's idea all along.

Here's another great soundtrack featuring Polish composers, too. I still need to do some real investigation of that scene.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Last night I dreamt I was going on another cruise with my family, only I had to be smuggled onboard in a hollowed out mannequin. The dream was longer than it sounds; I saw myself being wheeled about on a dolly, customs agents trying to figure out why the mannequin was so heavy.

I don't have much to say here to-day. I ate at IHOP yesterday, as I mentioned. I had a decent spinach and mushroom omelette.

Yep. I have colouring to catch up on. Only five pages of Chapter 4 are completely finished, but the last three pages are partially finished, so they shouldn't take very long. I think one of the reasons this chapter's lagging a little bit is because I wasn't colouring during meals as much last week. I guess that was more essential than I thought. To-morrow I write the script for Chapter 5, which I anticipate as being the most pleasant chapter so far. I hope I'm not exhausting anyone.

I think I'll go get a sandwich. Here's Toubanua waiting for James Bond to be delivered to her Grecian hideout;

Monday, July 14, 2008

Walking back from the IHOP to-day, I saw a small brass key on the ground, and had to resist the temptation to pick it up. Maybe video games are trying to train me to automatically pick up keys? If so, they've failed. Manipulative, amoral entertainments are letting us down. Or maybe there's something wrong with me.

I had some inking to catch up on yesterday, during which I listened to John Hughes' commentary for Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Rifftrax for Saw and X-Files: Fight the Future. Saw has failed to make me want to torture people. Maybe something's unplugged?

I'd never seen any of the Saw movies before and I have to say what surprised me most about it was how tame it was. I was expecting unrelenting, terrible gore. But compared to Pulp Fiction, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Seven, or even Raiders of the Lost Ark, it really wasn't much. And, jeez, compared to Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, it's a drop of blood next to an ocean. Saw's assault is on a quality film viewing experience; as Bill Corbett remarked when the titular tool appeared, "That's the same saw used to edit the film."

The movie's filled with suspense/horror movie clichés, from the hooded villain with the raspy voice to, as Kevin Murphy was quick to point out, the two cops who go into the evil lair alone and never, ever consider calling for backup no matter what happens. Saw, I suspect, is a far more effective film for a lot of the people who've never seen it.

I see Caitlin was obliquely talking about "torture-porn" movies to-day by way of thoughts on the sort of anti-torture movie Funny Games. She notes a lot of the violence is effective because it's off-screen. All the violence of Saw was off-screen until I saw it yesterday (I use the term loosely as I was mostly just listening while I inked), which is how I think the movie, and probably a lot of torture-porns, have gotten reputations as being so horrid; from people who haven't seen them and have let their imaginations, boosted by reactionary reviews, do the filmmakers' work better than they ever could have.

The guy does saw off his own foot at the end of the movie, the point of which seems to've been, "Whoa, dude, this is fucked up!" It's silly and immature, but really only effective on the kinds of guys who grew up to write the screenplay, i.e., people who were already that kind of silly and immature to begin with.

Well, there was a girl in my British Literature class who liked the Saw movies and she seemed really nice. I suppose that sort of story might be appealing in the same way as the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" is.

I am a fan of the Hostel movies. The first one seemed like a decent horror movie with a slightly dull final act, and the second one was part suspense movie, part intelligent rumination on the compulsion to torture, and part revenge movie (my original review is here). I came across an interesting interview with Stephen King on the subject of Hostel part II and so-called torture porn movies, and I mostly agree with what he says, particularly his resistance to generalising. Though I wasn't disturbed by Lorna getting cut in half in Hostel part II as he was, mostly because movie violence doesn't effect me in nearly the same way as real violence, but also because it was shown in the sort of gallows-humour, horror movie fashion, where a character's very minor personality flaw gets them killed. That's part of the psychological effect exploited by a lot of horror movies; someone has one, tiny little thing about them, and somehow it opens them to the demons. When someone has some quality for which we might fear they may be punished, it adds to the tension. In the case of Hostel part II, I think it was important in establishing what sort of operation the torture company was.

But to the point of truly disturbing violence against a character in a movie, I'm reminded of Roger Ebert's reaction to Blue Velvet. I think disturbing violence is justified in Blue Velvet because truly awful experiences are one of the defining pieces of existence. The beauty in Blue Velvet is made stronger by its brilliant realisation of that awfulness and the relationship the rest of the movie has with it.

Of course, I also disagree with Stephen King on the subject of Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining, which I actually find to be superior to the novel. In the interview I linked to, King seems to feel there needed to be more love shown between Jack and Wendy, but I think the film's brilliance is in how it shows the motions of love can be corrosive when there's a fundamental lack of understanding and communication, fomenting resentment.

I finished reading Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption last night. I liked it a lot, and it certainly does seem to me that Stephen King is kind of a cuddly person. I got nothing against sweet people; in fact, I rather like them. But I like cold people, too.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Comic-Con schedule's already online. Gods, only four days. I think I'll be staying all day each day. I've never actually stayed for any of the night time programming before, but I think it'll change this year, especially as there's to be a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 anniversary panel featuring Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson, as well as both Trace Beaulieu and Bill Corbett, not to mention Kevin Murphy and most of the other main cast members and writers.

And I've already got tough decisions to make. Like, do I go to the Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles panel with Summer Glau and, for some reason, Shirley Manson of Garbage, or do I see Tori Amos, whose panel's at the same time? And, of course, Ray Bradbury'll be at the Con, as usual. Maybe I'll actually get a chance to see him this year. I think I'll probably go to all the webcomics panels.

Yesterday was a long walk to and from Tim's house, where his sister asked me to beat the last and hardest section of the newest Maro Kart game while Tim put together a computer. I'd only played the game once before, but the both of them seemed sure I could do it, and what d'you know, I did. I guess if you've played one Mario Kart game, you've played them all. This one doesn't appear to be a huge leap of graphics or gameplay from the previous game, but the dirty little secret of the Wii is that it's not terrifically more powerful than the Game Cube.

I played a little chess with Dragoness last night, and then finally finished watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Not really a bad movie. I probably wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't only seven dollars and it didn't have director commentary. It feels curiously unfinished, though. Like the script needed maybe two more drafts. It's almost like two movies; a screwball comedy about a principal and Jennifer Grey, and a drama about Cameron needing to face his father. It's unintentionally funny how the movie actually dodges showing that confrontation; how, after his father's car is totalled, the music swells and moves in on Cameron's smiling and resolute face, prepared for whatever comes and . . . nothing. Ferris Bueller trying to get home before his parents realise he's been gone.

Somewhere in the movie is a completely empty story about Ferris Bueller and his girlfriend that might have worked if someone who was actually singing and dancing, like Gene Kelly maybe, had been cast as Ferris Bueller. Though, of course, it would then be a third movie grafted onto the other two. I can see why John Hughes all but retired in the early 1990s. He was clearly running out of steam and fast.

I'd better finish up work on Chapter 4 of my comic to-day. It's weird to think that I'll be uploading it in the middle of Comic-Con.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a good movie. It has a lot of great action sequences; I particularly liked Hellboy's fight with Wink and the battle with the Golden Army at the end. The battle with the Elemental "Forest God" was devoid of tension, though, due to the presence of an inexplicably psychotic baby. Guillermo del Toro is truly a brilliant director who consistently makes great movies, but to him and everyone else with a great public forum for their art, I address this plea; Please, stop talking about your baby. Unless you're going to do something challenging, like Eraserhead, or Pan's Labyrinth, for that matter, I don't care. I'm glad you've found happiness by having kids, but have pity on the rest of us. Having kids should not be Hellboy's reason to live.

The Troll Market segment is as amazing as everyone says it is. It contains the one baby moment in the movie that I actually liked. My absolute favourite thing about the movie was Seth MacFarlane's Johann Krauss. I love just about all the actors in the movie, but none of them come close to MacFarlane's impeccable comic timing. Unlike his work on Family Guy, though, his performance here is accompanied by threatening situations and subtle pathos, both of which are somehow enhanced by MacFarlane's performance even as they enhance the performance. An excellent movie could be made focusing entirely on Krauss.

It seemed like there were an awful lot of references to other modern movies in this one. The Forest God couldn't fail to remind me of the Forest Spirit in Princess Mononoke. The Hellboy incarnation borrows the Forest Spirit's tendency to create fast, spontaneous plant growth in the places it touches, though the visual was far more beautiful in Princess Mononoke. And the fate of the Forest Spirit was far more effective as Mononoke more effectively established its significance, its action sequences weren't sanitised by an unrealistically reacting baby, and Ashitaka's statement to San, about the Forest Spirit wanting them to be free, had the more solemn resonance of a wilfully optimistic interpretation of death that isn't borne out by the observable facts.

The Forest God sequence in Hellboy II is followed by a bit borrowed from X-Men 2 where police pointing guns at Hellboy demand that he drop his weapon, not realising the weapon is part of his body. I'm hoping the extended edition of Hellboy II explains the abrupt shift in the public reaction to Hellboy from a state where everyone wanted his autograph to a state where he's apparently reviled completely by every passer-by. As it is, the moody bits of Hellboy lamenting his freakishness are made incredibly awkward and insubstantial.

The Lord of the Rings influence on the appearance of the elves' clothes and weaponry is unmistakable, but I can't say I mind. The colours for the elves are stripped down to gold, white, black and red which adds a quite elegant and deadly beauty. The opening sequence unabashedly resembles the history lesson at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, so del Toro apparently decided to distinguish it by casting all the players as puppets in the imagination of the young Howdy Doody fan Hellboy. But it's even clearer now that del Toro's a natural fit for The Hobbit.

I loved Abe Sapien and Princess Nuala. A movie revolving entirely around those two would also be good. So long as they didn't have kids.

I still don't have car insurance, or at least proof of it, since I have paid for it. So I took the trolley to Parkway Plaza mall, finding myself two hours early for the next showing. This used to happen to me a lot, mostly before I started doing web comics (I did draw a page yesterday, in case anyone's wondering), so I knew how to spend my time. I got a big quesadilla at Rubio's, went to the book store, bought a book, and went to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to read while drinking green tea. I got Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron, since I've felt vaguely guilty about never having read any of her books, despite the fact that I read her blog. I'm twenty pages in and it's pretty good so far. As good as Hellboy II, in fact, which causes me to reflect again on the inequities of capitalism.

I almost got some manga instead. As I was perusing Borders' massive manga section, a skinny redhead woman about my age walked up behind me to abruptly ask, "Have you seen glitter?"

"The movie?" I asked.

"No, this!" She held up what looked like a pink snow globe filled with glitter.

"Er, oh."

"Isn't it great?"

I smiled, "Better than the movie already."

"Yes," she said, the tone of her voice dipping, and she walked quickly away. I'm not sure if she was scared off by my missing front tooth or if she was a massive Mariah Carey fan. I'm not sure why she talked to me in the first place, except my hat was getting a lot of compliments yesterday. It's strange; either I hear a bunch of homophobic insults aimed at me, or a bunch of compliments, never both on the same day. I almost wonder if it's the new Indiana Jones movie actually having a lasting, positive effect on the culture.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just got back from seeing Hellboy II, which I liked and will talk about more in to-morrow's post. But here are two things I overheard from the audience;

WOMAN: "Reminds of that Rings movie." MAN: "Legolas?" WOMAN: "Yeah. Reminds me of Legolas."

ANOTHER WOMAN, halfway through the movie: "He's a fish man!"

We have a winner.

On an unrelated topic; this gave me chills.
Chapter 3 of Venia's Travels is now online. I know I'm competing with Hellboy II to-day, but I hope you make some time for Venia anyway.

I hope everyone's okay out there.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sunday was a great day for anime*. Eclipse, the fansub group whose translations for Code Geass I generally prefer, took such an inordinately long time uploading the new episode that I was beginning to think they had abandoned the series, and I must say I wouldn't have blamed them if they did. The three previous episodes had been beyond silly on just about every level; faux chess stratagems, nerfed civil war in China, rampant insubstantial deus ex machinas, all followed by a goofy school episode. Well, that last one was kind of cute, but we were clearly a long way from the glory days of Code Geass.

And then episode 13. I was incredibly glad I convinced myself to download it when I saw Eclipse had finally gotten around to the upload at 5pm. In one episode, the show managed to do everything I'd been telling Tim the show had been needing to do for a long time; people needed to die, the school subplot had to be extinguished or drastically reformed, fanservice be damned, characters--especially Lelouch--needed to start accomplishing things again, and characters needed to have confrontations with their psychological issues. In short, sacrifices had to be made. Episode 13 scored on just about every count. And it was better animated. Which leads me to suspect there's one group of people who come in only periodically to do good episodes, which is a shame.

The other big thing on Sunday was that I realised the new series of Slayers had begun, Slayers: Revolution. This is the first new Slayers series in eleven years. It's the best looking series, in some ways even better looking than the movies, mainly because the animation industry has completely shifted in the past decade from paint to images coloured completely via a computer, giving colourists a complete spectrum of colour for cheap.

But otherwise, Slayers: Revolution feels astoundingly similar to the other Slayers series' in feel. It's sort of like the original Star Trek series picking up in 1980 exactly as it left off. I'm not sure this is entirely explained by Slayers: Revolution having the same director, the same animation studio, and the same voice actors. Everything feels uncannily retro without feeling self-consciously so. Like the new theme song**;

It's the same sort of 1980s sounding, mid-90s Japanese pop. Layers of unselfconscious anachronisms. Beautiful, if you ask me.

The theme's sung by Lina Inverse herself, voiced once again by the incredible Megumi Hayashibara whose lead roles in Paprika and Neon Genesis Evangelion haven't made her too big to do a new Slayers series. She is my dream girl.

Background art has exactly the same cheap quality of the old series', the humour's still not incredibly funny, but good enough to contribute to making the characters endearing. The first episode featured Lina rampaging against pirates, including a suspiciously Jack Sparrow-ish fellow, but the second episode, which I downloaded to-day, is much better, as we're given the first real look at threads from the first story arc wherein Lina's nemesis appears to be a little white furry guy with green hands on his ears. Fight on, Lina!

*Yes I'm only just now getting around to talking about Sunday.

**No subtitled version on YouTube, sorry. She's basically singing about how she'll destroy anyone in her way and she'll take lots of treasure, despite the efforts of the forces of, er, evil.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I sure wish my coffee wasn't so chewy. Every time I think I've figured out what this coffee pot wants, it throws me for another loop. I guess chewy, slightly crunchy, coffee's not bad, though. I do like chocolate covered coffee beans, after all.

I remember seeing Mission Impossible 2 while stuffing myself with two boxes of coffee beans. That was a thrill ride, yes sirs and madams. I used to appreciate caffeine in much greater quantities than I do to-day.

Yesterday, I got a bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila "Clasico" for only ten dollars. This is only the second bottle of tequila I've ever purchased, the previous bottle having been Jose Cuervo "Especial". Clasico appears to be eight trillion times better. I'm learning a good rule of thumb, here; if an alcoholic beverage that's normally clear, such as rum or tequila, is sold in a tinted "spiced" variety, the clear version is invariably better.

Last night I read through a forum argument Dragoness was having with a very confused Christian who decided to argue that Venia's Travels is inferior to the teachings of Christ. So I can honestly say now that Venia's Travels is already being compared to the Christian Bible.

Well, I suppose I ought to get back to my heresy . . . va, va, va!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I suppose a slightly cheerier post may be in order. I've been listening to RiffTrax movies while inking and colouring, and I think one of the best things I've learned from listening to the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 crew make fun of modern movies is that old bad movies and new bad movies really aren't so different.

Take Battlefield Earth. Is it really so different from This Island Earth?

On the way to the movies yesterday, my sister told me about a guy who'd apparently committed suicide a couple days ago by the restaurant she works at. He was found in a concrete dumpster enclosure for my sister's restaurant and several other businesses in the parking lot--I remember walking to it with Tim when he worked at the Radio Shack there and he had to take out the trash. This guy, it seems, worked at the Target where I bought my copy of Ferris Bueller's Day Off on Independence Day. I remember seeing the employees gathered in a circle around the manager, taking instructions for the holiday's approaching night. I wondered if I saw him among them.

My sister said his hands and feet had been bound and that he'd apparently hanged himself. It seemed to her like it might actually have been murder, which was why she found it strange that the police didn't stick around very long. It sounds like the body was just cleaned up and the books were closed. It seems strange to me, too, but I suppose we don't know the whole story. I was half tempted to put on a deerstalker and examine the area, and complain to passers-by about the cold trail.

I quoted to her Edward G. Robinson's famous monologue about suicides in Double Indemnity; "Come now, you've never read an actuarial table in your life, have you? Why, they've got ten volumes on suicide alone. Suicide by race, by colour, by occupation, by sex, by seasons of the year, by time of day. Suicide, how committed: by poison, by firearms, by drowning, by leaps. Suicide by poison, subdivided by types of poison, such as corrosive, irritant, systemic, gaseous, narcotic, alkaloid, protein, and so forth. Suicide by leaps, subdivided by leaps from high places, under the wheels of trains, under the wheels of trucks, under the feet of horses, from steamboats. But, Mr. Norton: Of all the cases on record, there's not one single case of suicide by leap from the rear end of a moving train. And you know how fast that train was going at the point where the body was found? Fifteen miles an hour. Now how can anybody jump off a slow-moving train like that with any kind of expectation that he would kill himself?"

I still have drawing to do to-day; well, just inking now and colouring.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Yep, Wall-E still works on me.

Looks like I will be getting some drawing done to-day. I'm feeling antsy. If I don't finish a page to-day, I'll probably do two to-morrow. But still, Wall-E was worth it.

I may need to call this a day off, but fortunately, I'm perfectly at liberty to do this, since I'm doing this comic a chapter ahead. Gone is that panicky feeling that constantly dogged me with Boschen and Nesuko, and the pages look better, too.

I woke up late to-day; I turned off my alarm when I realised I was having a bit of trouble sleeping. Then I had to go grocery shopping, there was a long line at the bank, and I got caught up with this section of The Brothers Karamazov Moira linked to. Gods, I wish I had time to read that book again. Dostoevsky's a genius with characterisation, and Grushenka's one of my all time favourite characters.

And now my sister's called wanting to see Wall-E, and how can I resist? I'll watch it without my contact lenses this time and I'm wondering if my reaction will be different. I think contact lenses do seem to have a mildly psychological effect on me--just a little extra grey cloud. I'm not sure why. Kind of a mildly relaxing melancholy, though.

I just had soup, too, which I usually consider a strong sign of time wasted; a food that doesn't leave one full for very long has little use in a pragmatic life. But it was good soup.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I had a really interesting dream last night I'm trying to remember . . . I know it had something to do with teleportation and maybe invisibility . . . Nope, can't remember.

Last night was the first night in months I wasn't able to find anyone to play chess with me. I gave up on Second Life at around 1am and started watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but I'd had too much martini to really appreciate a movie. Even that movie. Alcohol and movies just don't seem to mix for me. So I went back into Second Life and ended up hanging out with rmg. We met someone who pointed me to a really cool Second Life art exhibition, where I spent a few minutes after rmg logged off. I failed to take any pictures, though.

I'd better get to my comic. I recommend buying Caitlin R. Kiernan books and things;

Daughter of Hounds



Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

Sirenia Digest

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Damn, it's hot. Every time I think I might be able to turn the fan down a little, I'm sweating a moment later. Hasn't stopped me from going on long walks, though.

Yesterday, even though I was behind, I simply had to get out of the house. I had too much of the wrong kind of energy, the kind that really belongs in a rock tumbler or a wind mill. Instead I gave it to dirt and concrete under my feet, and my plan was to get some real Mexican food to make me feel sleepy. But all the authentic Mexican places were closed. How authentic, really, are the Mexican restaurants that close for Independence Day? I guess they're afraid of Lou Dobbs. I was about one horse pill of caffeine away from painting the Mexican flag on my face and screaming Spanish at the closest representation of Lou Dobbs I could find; maybe I'd make an effigy out of white cheese wheels and chick feathers.

Submarina was closed, too. I was finally herded by fate to McDonalds. I used to get their Big Macs without the meat paddies all the time--they're pretty good that way. Or they were; I could barely cram it down yesterday. The girl at the register was cute despite a severe case of acne I'm sure the McDonalds corporation would assure us has nothing to do with their food. She looked maybe eighteen, but talked like she was six, and I could see the simplest thought processes needed a running start from her temporal lobes. She was one of those people who just couldn't believe I wanted a Big Mac without meat, and kept smiling at her apathetic coworkers who never seemed to get the amazing joke that I apparently was. But she was a sweet kid, I shouldn't be so mean.

I drew a page yesterday and inked half of it. To-day I did set my mp3 alarm clock (I woke up to this song;

), for 11am, and I finished both yesterday's page and to-day's before 7:30pm.

I watched Gilda on Thursday, which I loved, but I can't say anything of value right now. I'm too spacey.

Does that movie seem mildly anti-homosexual to anyone else? Like maybe Johnny turned to Mundson and his stick because Gilda was so mean to him, but Mundson is inevitably evil? Well, it's a good movie, so I am going to choose not to look at it that way. And if you think about it, Mundson's not much worse than the other two. Though we never actually find out what Gilda did to Johnny in the first place, did we? Actually, all she really did remotely wrong was to cheat on Mundson, who treated her like a possession anyway. So much for the "ultimate femme fatale". I felt bad for her when Johnny was giving her the cold shoulder. A real femme fatale, let's see . . . Certainly Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity. Maybe Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy. Definitely Helen Walker in Nightmare Alley.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Just when I thought martinis couldn't get any better, I found a way; jalapeno stuffed olives. I had three of them in my vodka martini last night and, gods, what strange heaven is this. They gave the martini a curiously crisp quality, as well as a fuller, subtler taste that I put down to the 200 milligrams less sodium than the pimento stuffed olives. Ever poked one of those pimentos out of your olive and tried it on its own? They're weirdly flavourless.

I had my jalapenotastic martini while playing chess last night. One and a half games--the first aborted when Yoshiko had to leave, the second against a new guy named Ray; a game that seemed to last hours before I finally won with just a king and queen against his king. Even then he tried to get a stalemate by avoiding me for fifty moves, but, fortunately, while I am bad at cornering, I'm not that bad.

I was very happy with how the Chapter 4 script finally came out yesterday, so I treated myself to the new olives and a small carton of green tea ice cream, of which I only ate a small amount. Otherwise, all I had yesterday was cous cous, plain oatmeal, and an apple. I'm so excited by the idea that I might not have to think at all about what I'm eating pretty soon. I completely subscribe to Einstein's idea of keeping only multiple copies of the same outfit so as not to waste energy deciding what to wear. Soon I'll be able to say the same about food. Of course, mostly my thought energy is still not going to be as well spent as Einstein's, but at least I can choose now.

The white cat, Snow, and the neighbour grey cat came to the door while I was making cous cous last night. I went out to play with Snow a while, though the grey is still too wary to come any closer than a few feet. At least she doesn't seem to be terrified of me, which makes me glad.

I did rough drawings for Chapter 4 to-day, which is the most Boschen and Nesuko-ish Venia's Travels I've written. I'm hoping I'm not just going to end up writing an alternate Boschen and Nesuko. There are different ideas I want to work with here, but I suppose it's inevitable there'd be some overlap.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I've written the first three pages of Chapter 4 so far to-day, and it's coming a little slower than I expected. I scrapped an idea I had for the first part and replaced it with a better one--I'd had both ideas for a while and knew I wanted to go with one or the other but didn't make up my mind until to-day. The one I abandoned seemed a bit redundant and any new information it contained can be established later if absolutely necessary.

This morning I watched Miyuki-chan in Wonderland. I suspect the manga's a bit better, though I really can't say for sure as the thirty minute anime was only mildly interesting. And it didn't seem to be based on the Lewis Carroll books so much as the Disney movie, and only a dim memory of that movie. Erotic Alice in Wonderland is a fine idea--and far from a new one--but this was not a terribly interesting execution.

The only other thing I've done to-day is some research for what I suspect shall be Chapter 6. Last night, I read more of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which I'm continuing to enjoy. I've spotted one or two flaws, but they don't really seem to matter. People talk differently in Stephen King books, they think differently. And yet credibly. You can't quite put your finger on what the distinction is, but it's there, and it gives the whole thing a more organic feeling while at the same time I suspect it's responsible for the almost incidental dread a lot of his works provoke. It's like seeing an alien gorilla--you can sense it's somehow like you, but it's very different, it's dangerous, and you don't know how it works.

After I read Neil Gaiman's blog to-day, I got to thinking about something he said in response to the idea that one shouldn't meet ones heroes; "Actually, you should never meet your heroes if you want to keep them as heroes. They may wind up as friends or as disappointments or as pleasant surprises, but once you know them they immediately stop being heroes."

There's a link to an older entry that expands on Gaiman's ideas on the subject. I think he's actually touching on a broader issue. Knowing someone on a personal basis shall always be different from knowing them by reputation or by their work. I think in terms of artists, there's something about their work influencing or seeming to jive with your own personality in intimate ways as great artists manage to do conflicting with the discovery that they're flawed or faceted in unexpected ways. I mean, I think it's the difference between agreeing with someone's finest opinions and sensibilities and seeing their lives that inevitably contain things they're not interested in or proud of. Or parts of themselves that are damaged that never tarnished their work, perhaps even informing it. I do think it's therefore possible to admire someone you know personally--for these reasons, even--and therefore consider him or her a sort of hero. I suppose it depends on how you define the word "hero".

Three games of chess last night. I lost one and the other two were very satisfying victories as the opponents were very difficult.

I guess that's all I have to say to-day. Well--in Caitlin's latest blog entry, she mentions receiving an e-mail from a stalker. Just in case any of our mutual friends were wondering; no, it's not me. Maybe you weren't wondering, though. I'm slowly realising that Caitlin, Spooky, and possibly Sonya are the only people who seem to consider me a threat of some kind. I'm not interested at all in talking to Caitlin if she doesn't want to talk to me. Even so, I must say I sure miss my social life from last year at this time.