Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's weird to think there are fewer people in New Orleans now than there were at Comic-Con this year. But so it is. You have to think most of the people staying now are pretty damned hardcore. During Katrina, you could say there were people who really didn't understand the gravity of the situation. But the people there now know better than anyone just how bad it can get. My hat's off to them, truly.

To those who consider them foolhardy or suicidal, I would just like to point out that in this life of tangled illusion, facing peril with the place and people you love might be the purest distillation of human existence. Even so, I hope this thing evaporates miraculously in the next few minutes.

To-day's new Code Geass reminded me of what Hideaki Anno said when asked why he was doing Rebuild of Evangelion--because there hasn't really been anything new in anime since Evangelion. Episode 21 of Code Geass, three episodes away from the end of the season, revealed the Britannian Emperor's plot to wipe out the psychological existence of humanity, destroying every human's constructed self-identity or collection of lies, as Lelouche put it, to connect humanity in a single, non-corporeal existence.

The Emperor refers the event as Ragnarok, so maybe they'll claim Norse mythological influence before Evangelion, maybe even feigning total ignorance of Evangelion like the creator of Lain, but there are too many specific details. The conflict with parents is even introduced as the Emperor is revealed to be Lelouche's father and Marianne, Lelouche's mother, magically appears after having been dead since Lelouche was a little boy, to explain to him that the only reason she and his father abandoned Lelouche and his sister when they were children was because they loved them so much and wanted to create a big soup for them to live in forever, and ever, and ever. It's actually a lot more succinct than the final episodes of Evangelion, but not as elegant or interesting. Code Geass tries to one up the older series, though, by having Lelouche passionately defy his parents in favour of reality. It was nice, and I like that plucky Lelouche fellow, but it mainly just served to underline how Code Geass is a sort of echo of Evangelion.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I almost slept until 1pm to-day. Getting a little closer. Summer's finally ending, too, I've just realised. Looking forward to the autumn and winter months. There aren't fall leaves or snow around here, but there are things I associate with the darker part of the year. I remember driving to Trisa's house with gingerbread lattes while listening to Elvis Costello's Brutal Youth. I remember the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Turkey Day marathons. Yes, all right out of Norman Rockwell. Americana.

I'm already a page behind on Chapter 8 because I had to spend yesterday finishing Chapter 7. Jury duty's not entirely to blame, as I was just having a dim spell of some kind last chapter. These things do come upon me inexplicably now and then. A good measure are the hands. If I suddenly find I can't draw hands, I'm in one of those funks. Then there are times when everything seems effortless, where I can draw three dimensional environments credibly without drawing horizon lines and vanishing points. Those are times I can actually pretend I have camera lenses to mess with.

I need to stop checking my e-mail so much. I guess it's been almost a year now since Sonya decided to stop talking to me, but I still wake up almost every day with the vague hope that she or Caitlin will have e-mailed me to say, "You know what, there's no reason we can't be friends." But of course, I still don't know why Sonya turned on me in the first place. Though lately I think I've come to understand my anger about it a lot better. For a long time I had this vague feeling that it was simply my wounded pride that I could matter so little to her. But now I'm pretty sure it was the ease with which she did something so cruel. She knew what she did would hurt me, and it would require minimal effort or risk for her to avoid hurting me. I suppose it could have to do with the fact that she has something like eight trillion friends. I can't imagine what it would be like to consider so many people to be friends. It must be like spreading your affections in a thin glaze, and if one square is cut out of it, the integrity of the whole isn't affected much. I've never been part of a society like that, so maybe what seems to be callousness to me is really a sort of culture clash. Or maybe I just want to rationalise her behaviour that badly, especially since no-one else seems to feel she did anything wrong. It's true, there are a lot of social dynamics I've completely failed to comprehend in my life. And I have to admit the fact that no-one seems able to explain some of them rationally makes me suspicious.

I suppose it's time I got back to the Middle Ages . . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Demonstrating the typical Republican tone deafness to irony, John McCain criticised Barack Obama for his inexperience and celebrity, then picks for a running mate the inexperienced, former beauty queen Sarah Palin who said that, "she's not out to judge anyone and has good friends who are gay, but that she supported the 1998 constitutional amendment [to ban same sex marriage]." Which is kind of a distant cousin of the Dick Cheney philosophy that seems to make exceptions for personal acquaintances. In other words, it's the inability to see large groups of people as people. Not exactly ideal for a government official. Though in line with the sort of bobble head McCain ads were accusing Obama of being.

I listened to Obama's speech last night while colouring and thought it was pretty good, though it didn't contain anything new and I doubt it'll create any converts. Pro-lifer Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is bound to draw the Clinton supporters who seem to care more about whether a candidate has a vagina than about whether the candidate will allow American citizens power over their own vaginas.

Now that Comic-Con and jury duty's over, I can finally go back to my nocturnal schedule. I sort of failed this morning, getting up at 11:30am, but I'm definitely staying up late to-night. I still have a lot of work to catch up on, and some research to do for the next chapter. So I'd better get to it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm so glad to be past yesterday. It was one of those days where I was so tired, and had so much to do while I was tired, that I got into a sort of berserker mode where, at the end of the day, I was having a hard time not finding more things to do.

I'm wondering if that's what's happening to the people on MSNBC. Huffington Post has a roundup, though it should be noted that many Huffington Post staff writers have a strong bias against MSNBC, particularly against Keith Olbermann, evinced most notably by the somewhat cross-eyed writings of Rachel Sklar, whom I strongly suspect has been spurned by Olbermann in some way at some point. She used to be a regular liberal perspective commentator on MSNBC, but was always conspicuously absent from Olbermann's show.

But there have indeed been a number of embarrassing blow-ups on MSNBC cameras, all under the umbrella of the dubious non-stop converge of the Democratic National Convention. Ted Koppel tells it like it is, which is probably a big reason why Koppel's been sidelined all the way to BBC America.

I feel really bad about Keith Olbermann, though. The guy seems to be a completely raw nerve now. Passionate, but frustrated by the paradox that being passionate and opinionated makes it so he's taken less seriously. The main stream media narrative still drifts into "every story has two equal sides" lines of thinking. There's a centre that can't hold there when one side fucks up as vigorously and callously as the right has.

This bit where Olbermann supposedly got a conservative commentator kicked off the network is offered by Huffington Post as evidence of Olbermann's madness, yet it's clearly a case of this Mike Murphy fellow saying baseless, incendiary things that really ought to get someone kicked off a news network. But I am tired of Olbermann's glowing about the DNC. Again, I think Koppel hit the nail on the head; it's a complete waste of time. But Olbermann talks like every speech is the Gettysburg Address. I think the blame probably lies in the same passion that makes his good special comments so good--the guy wants this country to get better so bad that he's willing to do anything to get it. He's constantly stumbling over his words now, too. I think he's too damn sensitive to right wing rhetoric, which may be reflected in his constant Bill O'Reilly bashing. True, the memes put out there by the right ought to be combated, and seeing Olbermann take an axe to them is nice. But I guess I long for Koppel-esque objectivity. Seeing Olbermann's now almost constant frustration on the surface makes me marvel at how Koppel managed to remain such a cool customer when the facts he reported on were so frequently dismissed or ignored by the country.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Holy Mowgli and Baloo, I'm fucking ragged. I did not get to bed at 11pm last night because of a chess game that ran long, but it didn't matter, as it turned out, because I laid in bed staring at the ceiling until around 2am anyway. So on four hours sleep I drove to downtown and parked in the Horton Plaza mall parking garage. Validated parking gets you three free hours and each additional hour costs eight dollars or three dollars a minute, depending on which of the signs you believe. I hoped it was the former that spoke the truth, since I only had forty dollars this morning and two birthday presents to buy. I'd have taken the trolley, except I'd have gotten no sleep.

When the person telling us in the jury lounge what's what mentioned we may be there until 5pm, it added a certain spice to the waiting. And that is mostly what I did--wait. Last night I downloaded what I thought would rescue me from the tedium, a chess programme for my iPod. The trouble was, I have too much pride to play on anything but the hardest setting*, which turned out to be unbeatable for me this morning, though I could tell I wasn't getting my real measure playing in sleep dep. mode. I persistently made enormous, really dumb mistakes. I was sort of half delirious, though, so the mistakes mostly just seemed funny.

Unfortunately, the programme seems to eat up a lot of battery power, so chess was only good for about an hour and a half before I had to find something else to do. Just as I'd thought, I couldn't concentrate on my book, probably due to sleep dep., or maybe I just can't read Elizabeth Bear right now because of the thing with Moira.

Finally, I decided to just brood. Two hours instantly shot past. I know lots of people probably thought I looked like a psychopath, still and frowning as I was at absolutely nothing. Then they started calling for jurors, and I prayed to every blood soaked god, goddess, kraken, satyr, and will o'the wisp that my name would be called, because I knew it would be my ticket home. And my name was called, praise be to Cactuar.

The trial was the People versus Some Guy Who Tried to Engage the Services of a Prostitute Who Ended Up Being an Undercover Cop. The judge was an old man named Richard Hanson who explained everything multiple times, his mouth always too far from the mic, emphasising obvious things and mumbling through most of the genuinely pertinent information. When he started talking, I thought he sounded a bit like Jimmy Stewart. As he continued to talk, I thought he sounded a lot like Jimmy Stewart, especially when he said, "Now, ah, let me see if I can . . . can just lay out the scene here for you, so you can--can get an idea. This was, was at the corner of Illinois and possibly . . . an alley. Ah, the officer I mentioned, ah, she's a woman and she was dressed . . . Ah, how she thought . . . [mumble mumble] would dress . . ." I'm pretty sure everyone in the courtroom had to restrain laughter.

The lawyers were both women and both remarkable youthful, especially the defence, who seemed like she ought to've been carrying a glittering notebook adorned N'Sync stickers**. An impression heightened by her giggling, nervous demeanour, and her attempt to describe the trial process to the jury; "Are any of you bakers? The reason I ask is because--there's a really good analogy. If you're making banana bread, and you use peaches instead of bananas, is it still banana bread?" I suppose she may have been ideal for defending a guy charged with soliciting prostitution.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, while also young looking, was crisp, professional, and had a Russian accent.

I didn't make it into the jury box this time, so I didn't have to answer any questions. I was dismissed at around noon, and when I saw that my parking cost 18 dollars, I felt enormous relief. It was only later that I reflected on the fact that I paid 18 dollars for a pain in the ass, which is actually awful. It'll probably make more of an impression on me when I'm truly awake to-morrow.

Maybe I was just happy because the barista at the Horton Plaza Starbucks gave me a free coffee. She remembered me from Comic-Con, during which I went to that same Starbucks almost every morning. So nice to be reminded of that time . . . I'd better colour while I can still sit up straight.

*I play all video games on the hardest mode, unless it's something stupid like Jedi Academy where it simply starts you off with half life.

**Or whatever the kids listen to nowadays

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's with all the racist women at the Democratic convention? I have a strong feeling the main reason they're all Clinton supporters is because they see in her and Terry McAuliffe their own frenzied gazes and mousetrap jaws. I saw this video on Huffington Post to-day;

It's true, these two women are full of shit, but Matthews probably also ought to've made a point of asking them what makes Muslims inferior to Christians, anyway.

To-morrow's jury duty so I'm going to try to get to sleep at 11pm. I sincerely doubt it'll work. I have to get up at 6am in any case. I started working on the script for Chapter 8 last night and I'll finish it to-night, even though I haven't finished colouring Chapter 7. I know I can colour sleep deprived, but I need to be rested to write properly.

So far I've done a bit of research to-day and only added a little to what I wrote last night. But I've been getting a lot of ideas I'm hopeful about.

Well, I'd better get back to it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I didn't leave the house at all yesterday. My grandmother's out of town for a week, and I wouldn't have spoken to anyone all day except for one brief phone call with my mother and some time in Second Life. But it's not like my grandmother and I talk much, so I've come to realise that Second Life and almost weekly visits to my parents and Tim's constitute the whole of my interactions with other human beings. Maybe that's why I was doing an image search for Batman yesterday. Doing so led me to this post about The Dark Knight by some Christian named James. James says The Dark Knight resembles the story of Jesus Christ sacrificing himself for the sins of mankind, and I have to admit, James has a point. In fact, it wasn't until the end of the post when I found something that rang false;

It is a compelling story and, I have to say, a surprisingly good film. Nevertheless, it is fantasy and fiction. Its elements are gripping, but far from life changing. However, the greater story (and cultural metanarrative) it echoes is infinitely better. Two thousand years ago, the greatest story happened in reality. In a world of darkness and moral chaos, the only sinless person substituted himself for the world he loved and bore the punishment for our sin. That story changed my life.

And I realised . . . Even if the story of Jesus was true, The Dark Knight is actually a better version of it, for the simple reasons that the sins Batman takes on in the movie have much deeper ramifications than the arbitrarily prescribed sins of Christianity, and the fact that pretty much everyone important involved in Christ's story knew Christ wasn't actually guilty of anything. When you add to that the fact that Jesus knew his existence wasn't really threatened, it can't substantially be denied that Batman is more hardcore than Jesus. Which isn't terribly surprising, given Batman's the one dressed all in black.

James' review of The Dark Knight also contains possibly the most impressively unselfconsciously obvious observations about a film I've ever seen; "However, in The Dark Knight, Batman stands out."

The grey cat's been hanging out in the backyard lately. It makes me happy to see her sleeping out there. Is it weird to be a cat voyeur? I'd like to make friends with her, but she's a lot more cautious than the white cat, who's become a bit wary of me. He tried to follow me to the store across the river a couple days ago and I took a quick step towards him to make sure he turned back. Now he doesn't run from me, but he won't come within petting distance, either.

Jury duty's on Wednesday. I'm irritated just thinking about it. This would otherwise be a perfect time to stay up late watching movies. But, then, I also have a lot of colouring to catch up on. I'm finding it difficult to remember where all of Wircelia's scars are. I may need to make a chart . . .

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Had a very close game of chess with Lezlie last night. Lezlie's an excellent player, and I don't generally win, but last night I just barely managed. The end was my King and a recently crowned Queen against her King. Luck was definitely on my side--several rather sly moves just seemed to fall into place, including the most decisive one, when blocking a check posed by Lezlie's Queen with my original Queen, I simultaneously put Lezlie's King in check. This forced Lezlie to sacrifice her Queen to take mine, and since I had a pawn just three squares away from the other side, I quickly had another Queen while Lezlie was left with a King and three pawns still at their starting positions. Lezlie didn't resign, probably because she knew a King and three pawns can actually be a force to be reckoned with. It takes some careful manoeuvring, but I've seen games where someone thought everything was in the bag only to lose to a King accompanied by a pawn or two.

I think a lot of people underestimate the vital role luck plays in chess. You need to be aware of all the paths of attack the other pieces have available to them and you have to construct defences to those attacks, but there're actually so many possibilities, you can't plan for everything. Seeing the opportunities when they present themselves is incredibly important, and more than once I've completely missed them. Maybe it helped, too, that when playing Lezlie I switched from brandy to green tea--Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf--a gunpowder tea, meaning its leaves are hand rolled into little balls that unfurl in the water as the tea steeps. I bought it when I stopped in at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the way back from Comic-Con one day, and didn't realise until I'd brought it to the register that it cost twenty dollars. But I had a Vincent Vega moment--I had to know what a twenty dollar tea tasted like. The answer; damned good. Though not as caffeinated as I'd like.

I still have a lot of work to catch up on so I'd better get to it . . .

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I really miss being able to sleep during the day. I have so much more energy at night. In the day, I have to force-feed myself any but the laziest of activities, but at night, even lately, I have a hard time forcing myself to stop working. The only thing keeping me from reverting to my normal nocturnal schedule now is I have jury duty next week. It seems like I'm called to jury duty almost yearly and I'm starting to get suspicious. I hope to all the gods I don't actually get called onto a jury. I'll probably tell the court I judge guilt entirely by Thetan levels or something.

Tim and I spent some time yesterday thinking up strange yet plausible things to say to be excused from the jury box. From the simple ("this whole thing's a charade--I can already see the guy has a purple aura") to the somewhat more involved ("I refuse to render service to a judicial system that does not acknowledge the existence of gnomes"). I wouldn't mind jury duty so much if I wasn't going to be a complete zombie in the waiting room. Normally I'd be perfectly happy to have an excuse to read for four hours, but I'll be so sleep deprived, even after forcing myself on a diurnal schedule, I'm not going to be able to concentrate on a book.

I haven't had time to read in more than a week. I'm still reading Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron. I'm around halfway through, and it's pretty good. Very clearly written by a woman, which I don't consider to be a bad thing. But I think, any guy out there who might wonder why his girlfriend thinks the Spider-Man movies were very clearly made by men might get some idea by reading Blood and Iron. Movie Mary Jane's not an illegitimate character--she's just not quite realised with the same fullness as Peter Parker. It's more obvious in the original comics, of course, but the movies are somewhat more closely analogous to the dynamic in Blood and Iron. It's not exactly that the women seem generally superior to the men, though they do. There's a certain distance from the male characters, even in the sections written from the point of view of male characters. Matthew and Keith have a sort of cuteness about them and they never seem to be quite as up to speed as the female characters, while Seeker, the female lead, tends to learn things as we do, making her the Spider-Man of the story and grounding us with her a bit better. There's a Kelpie who seems to have an upper hand on her, knowledge-wise, but this is offset by his apparent moral inferiority.

Again, I don't find the female-centric thing to be at all a bad thing, I'm only remarking on it because I'm so much more accustomed to fantasy fiction written from more obviously male perspectives, or by authors who've managed avoid painting either gender as superior.

Another thing I've been conscious of as I read Blood and Iron is how remarkably concerned it seems to be with politics and career manoeuvres. The main plot concerns a character discovering a powerful destiny within the world of faerie, and afterwards every scene seems to be conversations with courtesies on the surface and unspoken ploys for social or political power, with death being the vaguely sensed fate for the losers. It reminds me a bit of college or careers dependant on networking.

It's not bad. Hopefully I'll have time to read more of it soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chapter 6 of Venia's Travels is now online. Enjoy.

I've just now turned on awake, I haven't even had coffee yet. So, nothing really interesting in me to say. Talk to the Venia.

Oh, yesterday, Caitlin posted about this encounter she had with a uniformed ass when she was trying to have a nice, respectful visit to the grave of H.P. Lovecraft. I'd say I want to do something nasty to the guy in retribution, but that's just the sort of thing that's gotten me in trouble with Caitlin in the past. Still, I hope something happens to that mean little Napoleon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I finally fixed the centre channel issue with my North by Northwest DVD and I've been watching bits and pieces of the movie lately. I've been listening to the soundtrack a lot, too. It's a good movie to surround yourself with.

I love how Cary Grant gets booze in every scene. After the whole bottle of bourbon gets him gassed at the beginning, he gets a gibson martini on the train with Eva Marie Saint, and when he meets her again after the crop duster encounter, he has a scotch with water. Water, Roger? What happened? Well, I suppose he'd figured he needed his wits about him at that point. Eve pours him what looks like a double and adds a dash of water. That's just to bring a man up to average cognisance level.

I'm still a little behind on Chapter 7, but I don't know why I was stressing about it the other day. All the drawing looks better in Venia's Travels than the pages I had to rush back in the day with Boschen and Nesuko. I've given myself time, I should take it. I did draw a page yesterday, though, and like the page before it, it was exceptionally complicated. And there's something else--I really shouldn't be so surprised these are taking longer when the amount of drawing required for some single panels is roughly equal to the amount of drawing needed for entire pages of some chapters past.

It's weird how looking at older pages for reference can instantly bring to mind what I was listening to when I coloured it. Looking at some chapter 2 pages, I could easily hear The Shadow radio serials I'd been listening to. I haven't been listening to those as much lately since the quality seems to've really dropped in the series after Orson Welles left. Even before he left, actually, the show was increasingly focusing on two dimensional villains and simplistic plots instead of the moral ambiguity of the earlier episodes that almost seemed unintentional. I miss wondering whether The Shadow was completely psychotic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Iain Stasukevich has interviewed me about Venia's Travels for can read the interview here. I'd never been interviewed by phone before and it's kind of interesting how it came out in text transcription form. It's sort of interesting, too, seeing what bits Iain chose to include and how he formatted them. It sort of reminds me of Andy Warhol's tomato cans--the naive might say, "Hey, Warhol didn't invent the tomato can." But the art is in the presentation, the decision of what to show and where to show it. So don't take your entertainment industry interviewers for granted, folks.

I did go onto Second Life some time after eleven last night. I played one quick game of chess, then signed off and finally watched Lust, Caution. I mentioned Vertigo and Notorious as being influences on me in the CHUD interview, so it's kind of interesting to see that the two Hitchcock films seem to've been an influence on Ang Lee's newest film. Or so it seems to me. Actually, although it's rated NC-17, the movie's a far more innocent tale than either Hitchcock film. It most closely resembles Notorious as it features a woman making love to a man in the course of her mission as a secret agent to undermine his security and work.* But the title of Notorious refers to the fact that Ingrid Bergman's Alicia Huberman was viewed as a "certain kind of woman" for whom making love to someone under false pretences would not be objectionable. Notorious is about someone who would seem to be bad, is called upon to do bad things, and yet is clearly good. While Lust, Caution is about an innocent student who finds herself doing things she would consider to be bad and wondering if she's still a good person underneath. It's not the breathtaking high wire act Hitchcock managed, but it's still a wonderful film.

The film's Bernard Herrmann-ish score reminded me of Vertigo, as did Wong Chia Chi being made over in both clothing and character by powerful men to accomplish their goals. Notorious had a little of that, too, but not as extravagantly as Vertigo.

Roger Ebert's review of Lust, Caution makes note of the film's languor, which is a deviation from the Hitchcock mould. And although it's a positive review, Ebert observes Lust, Caution is not among Ang Lee's best films; "It lacks the focus and fire that his characters finally find." Which is also true. More than any other Ang Lee movie, this one seems to exist just to be pretty a lot of the time.

My favourite scene featured Wong Chia Chi singing in Mandarin to the man she was deceiving in a private room of a Geisha house, which I suppose said something about how the characters' essential Chinese nature came through even in the midst of the Japanese occupation, but mostly it was just sort of lovely and strange.

*Ingrid Bergman's character defines herself as a Mata Hari and she did know what she was talking about.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Feeling unaccountably sluggish to-day. Yesterday, too. I'm starting to wonder if having honey in my coffee is causing me to crash big later in the day. I was enormously energetic yesterday morning, listening to Oingo Boingo and running all kinds of errands. Then I got back and I could barely get started on the page I needed to do. In a way, it makes sense, too, because I was so excited about this chapter. Since there's two weeks between each script, this kind of project is one you really can't get speedy about. In fact, I've always suspected that the glacial writing pace and rigorous drawing pace are really what make Boschen and Nesuko my strongest pieces of work.

But while I have no fear of missing my deadline with Venia's Travels--ever--I can't help feeling like my schedule's getting slightly out of control, and that partly explains the funk I've been in the past couple days. I don't know. It seems like everyone around me's digging holes for themselves of worldviews and I haven't spent enough time digging in one spot. What do I mean by that? I think the real reason McCain's polling as more patriotic than Obama is that McCain is very clearly not eyeing all the angles as well as the Obama camp. I think that might make him seem more genuine and unconsciously consistent. That he's consistently a dipshit's almost irrelevant.

I got a nice new bottle of Jameson yesterday, and drank a big glass of it last night, but woke up with a stomach ache. It didn't matter too much, though, as I was reasonable confident I could get back to sleep. There is one advantage of not having a girl in my life for me to get vexed about at all hours.

I've already to-day had some wine and limoncello at my parents' house, and I'm now having some tea. I don't think I'll have anymore alcohol to-day. Fucking gods, I'd feel like shit trying to have fun right now. True, I'm only one page behind. But as usual, I have a lot of colouring to catch up on. I'm tired of this system, and it's tiring me out. I need to be stronger, faster, more productive. Not to meet deadlines, but to get fucking days off. Legitimate ones, not ones I have to steal and feel guilty about and make up for later.

Yeah, no Second Life to-night. I'm putting my foot down on myself. I've drawn four pages of chapter seven and I've coloured one and a half. I ought to have five pages drawn and four pages coloured. Hear ye, hear ye; Setsuled's not fucking around anymore. Not until he's caught up and that's how it's going to be from now on.

Er, okay. Nevermind. Maybe there will be Second Life to-night. We'll see how things stand at around 11pm.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm running a bit behind to-day.

I'm wondering if there's a better DVD of North by Northwest than what I have. The sound is all kinds of fucked on it--the centre channel seems permanently buried and I can't seem to pull it out of the swamp no matter how I adjust things.

I played a very late, very close game of chess with Dragoness last night. I watched the new Code Geass, as well as the new Slayers, which I had to watch without subtitles because the fansub group that'd been working on it has apparently abandoned it. I somehow managed to understand the episode from my familiarity with the series and my limited knowledge of Japanese. Oddly enough, I found myself laughing more than I had at most of the rest of the new season, maybe because the visual humour of the episode had to do with almost completely unrestrained, yet understated, anachronisms--what looks roughly like a galleon on the outside, features modern day chandelier dining rooms and a Japanese bath house on the inside. I think a lot of people might assume the writers and artists are just lazy, but his level of inaccuracy can't be accidental. I suppose it fits well with the Dungeons and Dragons parody that comprises the bulk of the series, since Dungeons and Dragons does have a tendency to play fast and loose with that sort of thing.

Well, I better get back at the drawing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My horoscope at to-day says, "Your dreams are important, right now -- they provide you with some valuable insight."

So, let's see. Last night I dreamt I was at a parent teacher assembly of some kind at a high school in which I was taking high school classes, though it wasn't the high school I actually went to in waking life. For some reason, hundreds of teachers and parents were crammed into a room that was about half the size of a classroom. No one could move, we were all pressed against each other. My arms were stretched out beyond my range of vision, and I felt keenly aware of how vulnerable they were. For some reason, I decided to start singing, and it was at that point I spotted Uma Thurman, who was smiling at me with approval.

Then I dreamt I was in a mall that wasn't very crowded. I was near a fountain with squarish, polished black fibreglass sides. A woman on the P.A., in an exasperated tone, said, "Would someone please move the arm by the fountain?"

Sure enough, there was a severed arm on the fountain edge. It had a long blue sleeve and a white glove. I took it and got rid of it somehow. The woman didn't say anything, but I hoped she was pleased.

Well, that certainly cleared up a lot of things, didn't it?

More shopping last night in Second Life. Dragoness and I visited a store called The Abyss, which, despite having some astonishingly boring and overpriced merchandise (t-shirts? Sports bras? Anyone?), was actually an amazing environment;

Toubanua mourns the loss of her favourite place for two martini lunches. Who would have guessed an apocalypse could be so cruel?

Should I go on vacation, Mr. Hitchcock? Should I seek a dangerous woman?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I know I said I was going to wait until after drawing and inking before posting from now on, but to-day I feel like posting first. You know what? Fuck the rules. And the police.

After posting yesterday, I coloured until ten o'clock, at which point I logged onto Second Life and Dragoness and I spent some time shopping. My favourite sl fashion blog, Linden Lifestyles, is shutting down, and the editors have been posting their favourite shops and designers. Toubanua got a couple new dresses and lots of good hair, I think. But I used Second Life for only about two and a half hours last night and didn't take time to try much out.

Then I coloured more, Paint Shop Pro open in one window and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 open in another window. Joel and the bots were watching Master Ninja, a bad TV movie featuring Lee Van Cleef and Demi Moore.

I got more work done in a single day yesterday on Venia's Travels than I've yet gotten in any previous day's work on it. I'm very excited about chapters 6 and 7. They're probably the two best looking chapters of the series so far.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm experimenting with my routine a little, trying to streamline it. I've decided to do my blogging only after I've drawn and inked a page for the day. I've also stopped working while eating, since I noticed it was making me eat much slower, and I probably therefore wasn't saving much time and simultaneously degrading the quality of my meals. I wasn't even able to finish my coffee before it got cold--Oh, I hate stale coffee. It's like a mockery of all that's good and pure in the world.

I love those skeletons. The scene sort of reminded me of the beginning of Alien--the image here is of an interstellar train that was trapped for three hundred years in a sort of black hole. It's from episode 8 of Galaxy Express 999, the second half of a two episode arc wherein the #999 is sucked into some kind of gravity well where an evil robotic woman disrupts the flow of time. Well, its put better by the episode title; "The Graveyard at the Bottom of Gravity". The robot woman, Ryuuzu, kidnaps Tetsuro and attempts to force him to become her husband or surrogate son in her creepy old house on a foggy planet.

Over and over again in anime, I come across what seems to be an author's strange preoccupation with his mother. From Evangelion, to Final Fantasy VI (the best written of the series), it seems a lot of the best stuff in Japanese film, manga, video games, and television has to do with the artist attempting to deal with the death of a mother.

Galaxy Express 999 is about a young boy, Tetsuro, whose mother's murdered before she and him can travel to a distant planet where they both might obtain immortal robotic bodies. After his mother's killed, Tetsuro meets a mystery woman, Maetel, who helps him kill his mother's murderer and takes him along with her on the Galaxy Express 999, bound for the planet where one can apparently acquire a mechanical body.

More fantasy than Science Fiction, the show seems mainly to focus on what might almost be called perverted nostalgia, as sweet, sentimental memories of a youngster's train travels with his mother are twisted by the inclusion of murderous cyborgs, ghosts, and somewhat disturbingly ill-defined relationships.

When Tetsuro begins to pray, shortly after being kidnapped, Ryuuzu tells him, "God doesn't exist here in space. Only the truth of all beings and the flow of time exist here."

It's a very fascinating, sweet, scary, and beautiful series. And I love Leiji Matsumoto's sort of art nouveau style, which clearly seems to've been an influence on another of my favourite manga and anime designers, CLAMP;

Yeah, okay, that was a flimsy excuse to post a picture of CC from Code Geass. Still. Have I mentioned I love CC from Code Geass?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I have honey. Lots of honey. And I've been eating it at every opportunity. On my sandwiches and in my coffee. I don't quite understand it, but I've suddenly realised I've been preoccupied by honey for weeks. Sure, I've been drinking mead and reading about storing and transporting honey in the Middle Ages, but is that really enough to explain it?


Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants part of my brain. Explain this one away;

I read about the recent capture of Aafia Siddiqui*, a Pakastani neuroscientist with ties to Al Qaeda. When apprehended, Siddiqui had apparently been carrying a list of New York landmarks, including the Plum Island Animal Disease Centre. And why, I wondered, did that ring a bell?

Of course! The Montauk Monster!

Amongst the frenzied theories put forth to explain the as yet unidentified abomination from the black, boiling depths of Hell is that it is, "perhaps a science experiment from the nearby government animal testing facility, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center."

And it all falls into place; Al Qaeda's plan to overrun the country with cat sized, naked beaked creatures. Why doesn't anyone else see this? Siddiqui's a neuroscientist, which means the Montauk Monsters are likely to have super intelligence! They may already be swarming about our sewers and alleys, assembling their machines of war, poised to at a moment's notice rend the flesh from every American man, woman and child with their cruel beaks and flipper claws!

Why doesn't anyone do anything?! Don't you understand?! Who knows how many they've already gotten?! Sooner or later, they'll find us all! YOU'RE NEXT!!

*The article identifies her as a "Mata Hari". The writers on this article clearly didn't know shit about Mata Hari.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sterling Hayden was a spy!

Why the fuck's Julia Child the lead in the article?

I have an awful lot to do to-day, and I slept in two hours late, so this'll be a short entry.

I had to sleep in a couple hours because I was having trouble staying asleep at around 8am due to a constantly ringing phone. I knew I couldn't just stay up because to-day I write the script for Chapter 7, and I've seen plenty of scripts I've had to completely rewrite the next day because what I'd first written had been produced after a poor night's sleep.

Yesterday was extremely busy, too, but I made time for liquor in the evening. I stopped at BevMo and got an eleven dollar bottle of Napoleon brandy, which I find I like very much, as well as three 50ml sample bottles of liquor I'd never had; Bombay Sapphire gin, Glenlivet scotch, and Courvoisier cognac. Dragoness had recommended Courvoisier some time ago, so I tried it first, and found I liked it very much. It's a shame a proper bottle's so expensive. I'd probably sooner buy another bottle of absinthe if I had that kind of money to spare on liquor.

My sister's told me of two places in town that actually serve absinthe, complete with spoon and sugar cube, if so desired. One of the places is in Old Town, to which I could take the trolley. The green line, appropriately enough.

I still need to do prep work for Chapter 7. I've already been doing some reading to-day, then I'll write some background stuff, go grocery shopping as I let the information seep into the brain soil, and hopefully, when I return, I'll watch the script grow out of it in time lapse photography.

Okay, Wikipedia's useful. I hereby proclaim it. To doubters, I present this article. Dig the video. I can't begin to tell you how valuable it is to me as an artist.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I finally had time to watch a movie last night. I've had a new copy of To Catch a Thief for weeks. My old copy was a much inferior print, and it's amazing how much a restored image improves the movie. In many ways, it explores some of the same issues of identity that Vertigo does, but in a much more playful manner. The allure of fantastic amorality both female leads see as being wrapped up with Cary Grant's John Robie character adds a wonderful excitement to their flirtations. Watching Grace Kelly breathlessly describe to Cary Grant all the things she imagines he is, all the excitement she imagines him feeling at the sight of the object on her chest, culminating in her placing his hand under it--it's all delightfully sexy. The inter-cutting images of fireworks are a little obvious, perhaps, and not quite as amusing as the train going into the tunnel at the end of North by Northwest, but I think it would have worked perfectly well with a Bernard Herrmann score. In any case, the scene's marvellous.

Kelly kissed Grant, pulled him into positions where he was on top of her, and otherwise emphasised a play masculine danger from him in relation to her, until it seems as though he's actually stolen something from her mother, and she immediately takes up a menacing phallic symbol;

Attempting to leave no mistake as to who was in charge all along, but Grant's been playing these games for longer than she, and deftly escapes. For his part, all Cary Grant needs to do is be Cary Grant. He pulls it off wonderfully.

Although the character he plays, former burglar John Robie, is supposed to be thirty five years old, Grant's actual age at the time, fifty, seems to play a conspicuous role as he seems already to have long ago learned the lessons his two romantic interests, both of whom were half Grant's age, are confronting in the film. The avatar of the cat, and its appropriation by the girls from a sensationalising of Robie's very real criminality, is sort of sweet, but stops short of saccharine as the ending is somewhat about Robie learning to respect Francois' intelligence.

Francois' mother seems to appreciate a genuinely predatory quality Robie displays at the gambling table, and there's a subtle play between the romantic danger lusted after by youth and the freedom from morality appreciated by the mature. This is reflected, too, in Robie's revelation to the insurance man that most people are thieves in one way or another.

Anyway, as Hitchcock goes, the movie's ultimately pretty light weight, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, August 11, 2008

There were several very satisfying things yesterday. First, a good episode of Code Geass, then I drew and inked the last page of Chapter 6 of Venia's Travels, which I'm extremely pleased with. I'm so happy to not be drawing that dungeon anymore. It's my big ambition now to draw a scene in daylight. You know the action's still occurring in the same night as Chapter 1? The only two instances of skipped time are both in Chapter 2. Venia's gotta be getting tired. Maybe hungry. Might have to do some necessaries, too. Jeez, it's like keeping a pet.

And last night, I had a very satisfying victory against an obnoxious guy who uses a bunch of alts and occasionally shows up as a supposedly new person. But he's constant in his lust for attention, and the obtrusive guns and large flashing objects he uses to get it. He seemed to be incredibly good at chess, until someone informed me that the obnoxious fellow uses a programme to generate moves for him. Which was what made my victory against him last night so satisfying; I beat his programme, and he did not take it well. Oh, sweet schadenfreude. I don't think I'll give him a rematch, either. Let him know I'm always out there, laughing.

I have several things to do to-day, and not much else to blog about right now. I want to do a lot of prep for Chapter 7, too . . .

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I had a couple of really interesting, very vivid dreams last night. I dreamt I went, in the middle of the night, to the Pic N Save I used to work at only to find it'd been replaced by a Disney store. I looked around inside the Disney store anyway, because, well, I must admit, I like Disney stores. For some reason, all the boxes on the shelves, no matter what they contained, were pink. I gathered this was part of the ongoing makeover of Disney stores.

As I was leaving, I saw a beautiful white horse running wildly in the street, then back to the parking lot, rearing, and then going in another direction. It wasn't getting anywhere, but seemed to have completely lost its mind, I think in terror. It had long hair about its hooves, and was incredibly beautiful, the sort of horse that would be cast as a unicorn in a movie, and of course, just as I thought it, I noticed a long, thin, sharp horn on the creature's forehead. Only, it was slightly off centre. I thought maybe it'd escaped from a movie set and the false horn was gradually coming loose, except the appendage didn't seem to be quivering the way false unicorn horns inevitably seem to (unless they're cgi) and no one seemed to be chasing it; no movie crew, or cops or owners, for that matter.

I walked towards my car, and I noticed it was making its mad way towards me, skittering to one side or another, its wide open eyes never quite fixing on me. I had a strong desire to console it, but I was afraid it'd put my eye out with that horn.

Finally, when it got close enough, I was able to pet its face, and I was very relieved it snorted and settled down slightly instead of killing me. I asked around for people at the store to call animal control or something, but no one seemed to know the number.

My second dream, I came home to a massive, labyrinthine house I didn't recognise and found a dirty grey cat had snuck into my room and was playing under my covers. Every time I see a cat these days, I feel relieved, as I did in my dream.

I knew my grandmother wouldn't let it stay, so I picked it up, kissed it, and was on my way outside with it when I realised there were cats hidden all over the house . . .

Saturday, August 09, 2008

It seems I have a bunch of instincts left over from Boschen and Nesuko. I'd generally try to get out of the house and do something fun on the day I'd upload a new chapter, and even though I still have plenty of work to do on Chapter 6 of Venia's Travels, it felt very natural to go see The Dark Knight with Tim, who hadn't seen it yet.

My estimation of the movie hasn't diminished from a second viewing. But I found myself watching it from a different perspective in several ways. For one thing, it felt more like a Batman movie this time, and I'm not sure why. I was also watching it after learning that a number of right-wingers have decided to see the movie as a defence of the Bush administration's methods in the war on terror. Keith Olbermann mentioned a couple nights ago, in an almost offhand rebuttal to Glenn Beck (one of the right-wingers espousing the "Batman as Bush" argument) that Christopher Nolan had actually seen Gotham City as a metaphor for Iraq, so I was thinking about this, too, as I watched.

It wasn't hard to think of a million counterarguments for the right-wing interpretation. I wanted to present a decently constructed right-wing argument to rebut in this post, but the Glenn Beck piece makes arguments more stunningly misguided than I'd anticipated. For example; "at one point they were like, he's a terrorist; he's going to kill. Well, we should understand him. What do you want to understand about him? He wants to kill everybody. Kill him before he kills you."

How many times and in how many ways did the movie tell us that Batman doesn't kill people, and that his refusal to murder is what sets him apart from the people he's fighting? That the rule of law should decide life or death before fear or vengeance?

So let me address the slightly more cogent arguments I imagined right-wingers making.

There really are a lot of differences between Batman and George W. Bush.* The most relevant difference here being that Batman wasn't elected as a representative of the people. An elected public servant's power is granted by the people in order to enforce the best judgment of the people, which, ideally, is reflected by laws. What a president does reflects on the people, what Batman does, does not. Torture makes the American people look bad when the government does it, torture makes Batman look bad if Batman does it. This is the whole point of the "hero Gotham needs versus the hero Gotham deserves" concept in the movie. It's also the point of "You die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain." As the movie points out, the position of power to which Caesar was originally appointed was considered a burden, not an honour.

As for the issue of domestic spying as presented in the movie, the scenario only works in Bush's favour if you take the argument under the false parameters set by right-wing pundits, which suggest that political opponents of the administration would not allow the government to spy on American citizens under any circumstances. If a warrant wasn't granted to spy on a wanted felon like the Joker, something would be very wrong. However, the sonar system Batman uses, which is capable of spying on everyone in the city simultaneously, it must be pointed out, does not exist. If such a device existed in a city where a terrorist like the Joker was capable of assassinating public officials, destroying multiple hospitals, banks, buses, and police convoys on a daily basis, something tells me FISA or the Supreme Court would grant the warrant retroactively if necessary. If electronic surveillance had been deemed necessary by the administration on 9/11, it wouldn't have gotten them into hot water. The issue is in fact that the Bush administration is guilty of spying on American citizens without reporting to the courts ever, which calls into question the administration's motives. If we're to look at Batman as someone acting in the spirit of the Bush administration, this doesn't gel. We know Batman's motives are true.

I'd better get to work now. I'm feeling a little foggy to-day, I hope this post makes sense.

*Stay with me. Remember how I said it was often dangerous to assume something was obvious?

Friday, August 08, 2008

I'm usually rather bad at multitasking, but last night I seemed to be making a game of how many plates I could spin at once. I've relegated my Second Life time to between 10pm and 1am PT, but when I signed on last night no-one I knew seemed to be around. So I went back to colouring comic pages, but I left Second Life running and I opened an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 to listen to (Star Force/Fugitive Alien 2), and I put in a load of laundry. I talked to an SL friend named Tiffany, worked, and listened to MST3k. By the time I was eating dinner and watching The Colbert Report's 1:30am airing, I thought I was doing pretty well until I remembered my laundry. Which meant I had to stay up an extra hour for the dryer to do its thing, so I killed time by putting the finishing touches on Chapter 5 of Venia's Travels.

I didn't spent all my Second Life time inert, though;

"Just repeat to yourself, 'It's just a show, I should really just relax.'"

Truly the giants of our time. That's a complete recreation of the Satellite of Love back there. The movie theatre shows episodes of the series, and there are plenty of seats for you and your friends to add to the riffing. There were several people in there when I visited.

We've got movie sign.

Even all the doors were replicated.

Anyway, again; new Venia's Travels to-day.
Chapter 5 of Venia's Travels is online. Enjoy. I'll meanwhile enjoy sleeping.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I'm a little behind to-day, I think. I'm actually not sure. I could be ahead, even. Who knows if I don't? It doesn't really matter. I lost a lot of time researching something yesterday, and finished when my researches brought me a small piece of information that deleted my need for all the other research I'd been doing.

Of all the complaints about Wikipedia, few people seem to mention how it neglects certain, tiny, very important pieces of information. Like, about a week ago, I was trying to find out the best kind of wood in which to store honey, and Wikipedia only told me what not to use; "The wooden vessels of coniferous wood are not suitable for honey preservation (honey soaks up the coniferous smell in such vessels). In the oak wood vessels honey grows black." I still don't know what kind of wood's best for honey. I guess it doesn't really matter, as there probably wouldn't be a big difference in how I drew the containers.

Ralph Bakshi at the Comic-Con talked about what a wonderful resource Google is for artists, how you can find just about all the visual references you could want with an image search. In his day, Bakshi said, you'd have to buy big art books to learn how to draw some things.

I also lost a lot of time yesterday because it was my sister's birthday. I told her and her boyfriend, Albert, Bakshi's story about Thomas Kinkade, and I'm beginning to realise I'm the only person who finds that story intensely amusing. To me, it's great because it's something like solid evidence that Kinkade's a scam. And a lot of people might say, "Well, that's obvious. Just look at his paintings." But you see, that's not obvious to an awful lot of people, which is what makes it a scam. It's often a little dangerous to assume something's obvious. I had a small argument with my mother about Kinkade; she accused me of saying people shouldn't be allowed to buy Thomas Kinkade. I said, "No, I'm just saying those people are morons."

I think I first saw one of Kinkade's shops in the mall seven or eight years ago, and I went inside to see what this dark little gallery with the gold letters was about, and I was astounded to see such obviously mediocre art so grandly packaged. The paintings barely look finished. But there's something sinister about it; people at the mall are looking to be told what to think. If you take advantage of the lazier instincts of people, you diminish the potential for them to ever take the time to understand real art.

Anyway, I'd better get to work. One of the reasons I'm not worried about Chapter 6 is that I'm using barely any of the blur effects I've been using for torch and candle light. It's really the best technique I've found for such lights, but I much prefer to go without it. It's one of the reasons I think Chapter 2's the best looking chapter so far.

By the way, in case anyone's wondering, I've been using the same shareware copy of Paint Shop Pro 5 since 1998. Here's a copy, if you want one. I've used newer versions of Paint Shop Pro, but I haven't seen any significant improvements. In fact, I've heard that since Corel in 2004 bought Jasc, the original developers of Paint Shop Pro, the newer versions of the programme have actually lost some features.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I've had a bottle of plum wine a couple days now I haven't opened yet. I suppose once I do open it, it'll be a race against time to drink it. Wine is so annoying.

Yesterday, I read Arnold Schwarzenegger's reaction to early footage from Terminator 4;

If [director McG] has the T4 and the kind of shots that has the audience thinking, 'Now how did he do that?' -- then it is 'Terminator' and you can blow everyone away and every record at the box office.

I've seen very little footage so I don't really have a feel for it. I hope they do well, and I hope it is a huge hit. I do hope it creates a spectacle on the screen. That is what James Cameron created.

Here's my impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about a burrito;

"If [my personal chef] Hector has the burrito and the kind of tortillas and extra ingredients that has me thinking, 'Now, what's in this thing?' -- then it is a burrito and he can blow me away and every burrito he's ever made."

There's such an exquisite vapidity about Arnold's reaction to the movie, I want to capture it. It's like the perfect alchemy of a body builder whose ego's been spoonfed at every moment for the past twenty years and a politician's empty power statements. Let me see if I can riff out from here;

"A burrito has the beans and everyone loves it. But if he knows what he's doing, then Hector can make something and we'll all give it four stars. I don't know what he plans on doing, but he has the chance, and if he takes it and really goes for it, I think he's going to do all right, and I hope he does."

I think the key is a layer of happy redundancy. It's sort of fatherly, like he's consoling or congratulating a son or daughter he's been pretending to know for years.

"When you studied and passed elementary school, you really did it, and if you do it again, you can have a real success in high school and get every A."

I don't know why these things amuse me so much. Except thinking about Schwarzenegger is sort of like watching the grey planet at the beginning of Eraserhead with that hollow wind sound David Lynch loves.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I want to expand a little on something I said in my previous post;

Now, I don't mean to imply that pieces carefully constructed over a long period of time are without value. But these pieces are valuable in a very different way; their value is determined almost entirely by how willing the writer is to expose their own vulnerabilities. Very few people are willing to do this, and I think pointing the knife at one's own tender spots is one of the things that make a good artist.

On the one hand, I'd say obviously a piece of writing like a technical manual or an encyclopaedia-like couple paragraphs of information can be valuable without the author pointing a knife at him or herself. On the other hand, it takes a certain amount of courage to talk as though you know something other people don't know in a forum where there's a potential for other people to correct you*.

This sort of courage isn't rare--I'm friends with plenty of people who are at least that brave. But it is a form of courage.

The knife I'm describing isn't simply self-deprecation, either, which I would describe as being almost the opposite of said knife, since in an attempt to put oneself down one can exaggerate with choice of language. Forcing people to confirm what you want them to believe about you, even if it's something bad, is not the kind of risk I'm talking about. It's the evasion of the risk I'm talking about, because it consists of casting yourself in a powerless role where you would never have to be in a position to bare yourself without knowing the outcome. The knife I'm talking about is about being naked, I guess, and now I'm hearing Yoko Ono in my head from "Revolution Number 9" saying, "If you become naked . . ." and Allen Ginsberg saying, "America, when will you take off your clothes?"

*And people who declare things in forums where polite disagreement is prohibited, or where others have been made to feel they oughtn't express dissent, aren't exactly brave.
I received yesterday from a hardcopy I'd ordered of my comic "Kim, Kimberly, and the Snake". I'd had a mind to have at least one copy to show at the Comic-Con, but I received an e-mail shortly after placing the order telling me there'd been a foul up of some kind and that I was being refunded. Then, a few days later, I was told the problem had been resolved and that I was being charged again, and here's this thing now more than a week after Comic-Con. It cost 18 dollars to print, and it looks like 38 cents as all the dark pages at the beginning are muddy messes and most of the dialogue is completely illegible throughout. Good thing I didn't order two.

I need to clean my room to-day . . .

I've always felt there's something to be said for messiness. Even before I was a Jack Kerouac fan. Probably it's one of the reasons I responded so well to Kerouac. I had a discussion with someone last night about the advantages and disadvantages of internet communication.

The narrow theatre of communication on the internet grants one virtually absolute control over presentation. The problem with this is that I've never meet anyone, myself included, who knows him or herself well enough to represent themselves as decently as they deserve. To really know someone, you have to read their accidents. Looking at a lot of blogs, you'll find it's very rare to see someone whose opinions and modes of self-representation are the same now as they were five years ago. It's the precious pieces of accidentally, or unselfconsciously, transmitted data that provide the best impression of the person underneath. This kind of thing is far easier to see in real life, where you can get it just by body language, or evident affection or hatred for persons or concepts someone has not yet acknowledged in themselves.

The internet is naturally a good place for people with aspects of their personality they can't or won't confront. I am someone who prefers to confront each and every thing, big and small, that needles me in any way, but I don't claim my M.O. is the only valid one, so I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing when people cling to the distance and distortion the internet grants for safety. My personal preference is to leave my mistakes visible, as I think this renders a truer and more interesting impression of me.

When I'm carrying on an enthusiastic e-mail correspondence with someone, where each of us are writing long, very thoughtful e-mails to each other on a regular basis, I prefer to respond as immediately as possible, as I've observed in myself and others the tendency for responses to be filtered by the experiences that came between the reading of the e-mail and the writing of the response, and the effect is almost always detrimental. Someone can sound less excited about something that initially excited them, or they can simply be in a different mood from another event that, for being recent, eclipses the feelings originally provoked by the e-mail. I think most people sense the advantage chat has over e-mail in this respect. And it's precisely because chat is a slightly messier forum.

Now, I don't mean to imply that pieces carefully constructed over a long period of time are without value. But these pieces are valuable in a very different way; their value is determined almost entirely by how willing the writer is to expose their own vulnerabilities. Very few people are willing to do this, and I think pointing the knife at one's own tender spots is one of the things that make a good artist. In any case, it's different from actually talking to someone.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I really miss having time to watch movies. I've had a copy of Lust, Caution for weeks now, and I had an ambition to finally watch it to-night since I'm a page ahead of schedule on my comic, but it looks like I'm going to have to get an oil change for my car to-day. I also need to shop for my sister's birthday present.

My sister was working outside the Comic-Con this year as some kind of secret agent for Disney, handing out cards with this url on them. Looks like something with Stan Lee. I was kind of amused a new Disney movie starring Kevin Costner opened last week and no-one noticed. I couldn't even hold the title in my brain. May your career now become as inert as your performances, Mr. Costner.

Last night I watched the new School Rumble OVA, which is designated episode 25 of the non-existent third season. How do they get away with these shenanigans in Japan? Could you imagine an American show just making episodes 25 and 26 of a season? Or showing episodes completely out of sequence like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya?

Anyway, the School Rumble OVA was pretty good, and it was nice to see the story's being resolved, instead of the all too common never ending, never changing character conflicts of many other anime series. It's weird--one can kind of sense the season that wasn't in the episode. And I know it's not due to the manga the show's based on, as the show diverges quite a bit from the manga, which I don't mind at all. In this case, it was a good idea, I think, as what they did was demote the boring hero of the manga to a minor character and make the villain, Harima Kenji, the series hero. It made things a lot more interesting.

The show is a comedy of unrequited love as the characters undertake increasingly complicated and indirect methods of demonstrating their love to their respective objects of desire, who generally are doing the same thing for a different object of desire. Harima's in love with Tenma who's in love with Karasuma, who seems to be a completely blank slate, demonstrating passion for absolutely nothing except he has a slight fondness for curry. In the new OVA, he has something more of a personality, and we learn that he's been keeping his feelings from Tenma because he's terminally ill or something (it's a little vague), so he rejects her outright when she finally confesses her love to him. For which Harima kicks his ass. Mostly the show's really funny, but a good action sequence never hurts.

Yesterday was also the new Code Geass, episode seventeen of the second season, and it's nice to see the show's staying in the good quality lately.

Well, look, I have nothing particularly interesting to talk about without Comic-Con.

Er . . . I had some mead with my sister on Friday. I really love that stuff. It's a shame it doesn't keep well.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Saturday night of the Comic-Con, I met the woman who used to run the convention on my way home on the trolley. She told me and a cute girl dressed as a Japanese video game character about how stressful it had been, and how she had to get out of it before she lost her mind.

She answered her cell phone then and I talked to the cute girl a long time about Japanese fashion and art. The whole encounter was a sort of preface for my Sunday at the Con, which I spent actually talking to people. Mostly I just went from booth to booth, talking to various comic book writers and artists. At the Slave Labour booth, I talked to two comics creators, including Neil Kleid, who gave me a copy of issue 1 of his series Ursa Minors!, which I haven't had time to read yet. I continued along the booth and found myself face to face with a glaring Jhonen Vasquez, and I realised I'd pretty much cut in line, so I backed up. I saw that there was actually only around thirty people queued up for him, though, which I found a little surprising. Though, come to think of it, I haven't heard about anything new coming from him lately. I mean, it's been years, hasn't it?

Even sadder, though, was the sight of big Lou Ferrigno by the entrance, with no line at all for his autograph. He was shorter than I'd have expected.

I suppose I could've tried to catch Dave Gibbons' panel or the Fraggle Rock panel where Red was scheduled to appear. But I guess I'd seen enough.

I guess that's all I've got to say about the 2008 Comic-Con. I think there are probably a million details I forgot to mention, though. Maybe I'll take notes next time.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

On the Thursday of the Comic-Con, I spent the time between the portfolio review and the Lovecraft documentary watching anime. I came into the anime theatre halfway through a show I didn't recognise. When it ended, at least thirty people suddenly started filing into the room, and I heard a couple people yell, "Lucky Star!"

I'd never heard of this series, but apparently it's massively popular. The theme song featured the main characters--three or four girls--performing complicating dance arm and leg routines--I think the suitable word would be "algorithms"--and three girls in the audience stood up and began replicating the movements while the boyfriend of one of them took pictures, to the delight of much of the rest of the audience.

The show itself appeared to consist of four six year-old girls having conversations about manners and pop culture, but as Tim informed me later, what appeared to be six year-olds are in fact meant to be teenagers. I found the show to be aggressively dull, and it was a genuine challenge to maintain awareness of the dialogue.

Nearly everyone left the room when Urusei Yatsura started, mainly, I suspect, because Urusei Yatsura's female characters have strange and frightening appendages called "breasts". Or maybe it's because the series was made in the 1980s. Damn kids.

It was an episode I hadn't seen before, and it was nice to see something genuinely funny after Lucky Star. The episode featured Lum's former classmates, Sugar, Ginger, and Pepper, attempting to seduce Ataru, in preparation for which they undergo intense combat training. Urusei Yatsura always used to be a reliable crowd pleaser at Comic-Con. I suppose it says something about changes in the Con and in the general anime community that hardly anyone is around to appreciate it anymore. Jeez, I can remember watching episodes of Tenchi Muyo! on a massive screen in 6A . . . Ah, the Comic-Con of yesteryear.

Anyway, after Urusei Yatsura was an episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the first broadcast episode, episode 11 in chronological continuity, or let's just say it was "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina" (epsiode order confusion may be alleviated here). Although all the anime at Comic-Con is normally shown in Japanese with English subtitles, the guy operating the DVD was fooled by the episode theme, which hadn't been dubbed, into thinking the audio didn't need to be switched, so we watched the episode in English dub version. It was still enjoyable (particularly when a girl in the audience "wooooed!" when Mikaru started taking her clothes off), but the English voice actors were every bit as terrible and ineffectual as I'd expected.

After this was an episode of School Rumble, which is a series I like, but the episode must have been completely unintelligible to anyone unfamiliar with the series.

And then there was another episode of The Melancholy of Haruki Suzumiya, thankfully in Japanese this time, and I have to say watching this episode in the theatre was one of the high points of the Con experience for me, and oddly a reflection of it.
The episode was one of my favourites, "Live Alive", which is the only episode that fits in the same place in both broadcast and continuity order--12. The episode follows Kyon, the series' male lead, wandering about his school during its cultural festival, an event in Japanese schools where classrooms are converted into cafes or theatres for stage plays and the students wear costumes and make food for parents and other people visiting the school. The atmosphere of the festival onscreen was in fact uncannily similar to the atmosphere of the Comic-Con, especially as Haruhi Suzumiya doesn't feature the hyperactive pacing of average modern anime series'.

When Kyon went into the auditorium where school bands were performing just to rest and get out of the rain, it was a reflection of the people who'd come into the anime theatre just to rest and get away from the crowds, something I've done several times before at Comic-Con. The episode's story then features Haruhi Suzimiya taking the stage as lead singer of a rock band much to Kyon's surprise. She performs well, the crowd loves her, and afterwards she receives effusive thanks from the other band members for substituting for their normal lead singer.

The episode ends with a quiet scene of Kyon and Haruhi relaxing in the shade of a tree, and Haruhi seems to feel happy and upset at the same time. She doesn't know why she feels as she does, and Kyon thinks, "You're not used to being appreciated by other people. You're always doing things that wouldn't warrant a thank you." Haruhi pours her energy into her S.O.S. Brigade club and a variety of projects, but nothing that elicits anything more than bemusement or curiosity from other people.

Seeing it shortly after the portfolio review, which had caused me to think about the value of my web comics, this bit really hit me. I know very well what Haruhi was feeling--I put all kinds of energy into my comics, and the feeling I get when once in a while someone expresses appreciation for them that I can tell for certain isn't out of mere politeness or friendliness is sort of stunning, good, and rare. I mean, I spend so much time alone creating this stuff, such a vast multitude of details for which I don't receive a reciprocating energy from an audience, that when I catch small glimpses of people actually receiving something personal from my comic--not making them like me, or feel for me, but something completely personal to them. That is a very rare and wonderful feeling and it's a big part of why I do what I do.

Friday, August 01, 2008

If I'd done a little digging yesterday, I'd have realised that Nathan Fillion was probably on the DC animated universe panel because he's playing Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman movie. Keri Russell's playing Wonder Woman, so I guess it's a reunion of the cast of Waitress*.

I read the new Sirenia Digest last night and this morning. A decent couple of stories (I haven't had time to read the interview with Richard Kirk). Caitlin's "DERMA SUTRA" was quite sexy and pretty, though oddly I couldn't detect the anger she claims to have found as an inspiration. Unless it's simply in the revenge against religious zealotry. I guess the moral of the story is "There is more to be found in sexual intercourse than is dreamt of in your philosophy." Surely a worthy lesson.

The Digest also featured one of Sonya's better stories. It's based on a folktale she's fond of, but I don't have time now to find it and figure out what parts of it are her invention. What she presents us with is certainly very pretty, featuring one of those casually absolutely imperturbable heroines one finds in fairy tales and the seesaw between realistic physics and childhood logic one also finds in fairy tales. Sonya seems to have the instincts to know when to dip on which side. Vince Locke's illustration gives the heroine an appropriately expressionless face. Sonya's description of the queen of the sea is sort of dreadful enough to maintain a degree of tension within the story. Aside from making the imperturbability of the heroine even cuter, it also makes that imperturbability seem more dreamlike.

No Comic-Con Report to-day--I'm staying at my mother's house to-night, and there are things I need to get done before I go over there. Any of my Second Life friends reading this shouldn't expect to see me around to-night.

*Not quite a bad movie, for the most part. Almost a bad movie. How's that for an endorsement?