Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last night I watched Batman: Gotham Knight and was absolutely astonished. The thing exceeded my expectations on a pole vault--design, animation, writing, everything was at least theatrical quality, and better than average on that scale.

The film's divided into six chapters, each of which I enjoyed--I even liked the chapter written by David Goyer. But my favourite was probably the first chapter, Have I Got a Story for You, written by Josh Olson about four kids telling each other stories about their encounters with Batman. Each story exaggerates Batman technologically or supernaturally, but one can see how each kid would get the impression he or she does, and it's a wonderful illustration of Batman's concerted attempt to inspire awe and fear.

The best looking chapter was Working Through Pain, written by Brian Azzarello and animated by the same studio as Have I Got a Story for You, though the design is significantly different. It mostly involves Batman wandering wounded in a sewer and his reflections on pain endurance training in India.

Each chapter featured Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series as the voice of Batman, which I thought was an excellent decision.

I also picked up the new Aimee Mann album yesterday and am enjoying it. I downloaded the new Sirenia Digest but haven't had time to read it yet. I don't even have time to write more in this post.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ah. Nothing like a pot heavy with coffee.

I've almost finished restoring my computer to pre-virus condition. Though, of course, there are a lot of things that're just lost forever. On the other hand, I found a disk on which I apparently backed up all my mp3s last year, my old mp3 collection I had for years but haven't heard since last September. I suppose I mightn't have missed the disk last year if I'd have labelled it instead of drawing all over it;

Sometimes my own sense of mischief really does work against me. I still need to get Microsoft Word from Tim, so I'm flying without spellcheck now. It's sort of libbarreightine.

I see pictures from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland have been released. Looks like he's got an eighteen year old playing Alice. I'm not particularly excited about that. I sure hope there's a point to it. Is in, to perhaps explore a slightly more mature Alice story. There have, of course, been Alice in Wonderland pornos already. But I do like Tim Burton, so maybe I'll just have faith he has something cooking.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This morning I stepped on my belt and broke the buckle. This following a night where I discovered my computer's hard drive was going to have to be wiped completely. I spent to-day at Tim's house, where he reinstalled Windows for me.

If you ever see a file on your hard drive called vertumonde.dll, by the way, even if you manage to delete the file, you do have to dump everything on your hard drive. Tim does this for a living--it's part of what he does, anyway, making sure people's and companies' computers are free of viruses. And so far he hasn't found a way to get rid of this one.

Apparently, it mainly lets in other Trojan viruses, for which the common goal is to make your computer run at a fraction of its normal speed while pop-up ads cascade across the screen. Not to damage the computer. Just to pour ads down your airhole like Eugene Levy's assistants in Splash.

On the freeway yesterday, I saw a billboard truck--you know, one of those trucks that have just a big billboard for its rear section. I thought about how much business that could possibly bring in, and did it really make up for the cost of gas? Do viruses that breed popup ads generate business? I have known a few people, actually, that do seem to get svengalied by ads because they're foisted on them, as though the popups ravish them. It was sad enough when we noticed advertisments permeating the environment in all directions. Now I'm getting the impression people actually respect them.

Last week, I discovered I was no longer banking with Washington Mutual but instead JPMorgan dressed as Washington Mutual. I want to see a commercial depicting the Washington Mutual employee with the corral of bank CEOs being ambushed by one of the CEOs who skins him and escapes a la Hannibal Lector. Why don't they make ads like that?

Anyway, as you can imagine, I have a lot of work to catch up on. Thank the gods I was able to back up all the important things . . .

One of the things I love about Wikipedia is this image (not work-safe) is included in the entry on bathing. You know some repressed Wikipedia editor thinks women really look like that when they shower normally.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My computer got some kind of ridiculous virus last night and it looks like, if it's going to be okay, it won't be until late to-night. So I'm at Tim's now and communication from me may be scarce.

Courage, people!

I'm sad to hear Paul Newman died. He was a great actor, very raw and unrestrained when he was young.

I can't be terribly articulate right now. More later, if my computer survives. This would happen when I'm behind on my comic. I feel hexed. A street lamp fell onto the street by my house to-night and while I was stuck at the relative's house all day, I was playing Solitare on my iPod and didn't win once. Bad signs everywhere.

Gods, I hope my computer survives the night.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I just spent some time with Snow the cat in the backyard. He's very much warmed to me again. I got him to purr for the first time.

I guess John McCain didn't show up to the debate and I was very happily surprised to see that Peter Lorre was still alive, though admittedly looking somewhat like the mummified remains of a drowned Pillsbury Dough Boy. But that nasal, breathless laugh was unmistakable--

Oh. That was John McCain? Okay. Then I'm glad Obama was the only one onstage who managed to act like he was aware of what his opponent was saying. Or horrified, in the case of McCain winning.

I've been running out of movies to watch with the visiting grandmother so to-day I tried Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well out on her, and I think she secretly enjoyed it, despite commenting that all Japanese people look alike. I was reminded of what a spectacular film it is, a greatly underappreciated work of Kurosawa's. Also, with the current financial crisis, the movie's plot about a kickback scheme between a government company and a private company holds a great deal of resonance. Here's my original analysis, and I'd say my opinion of the movie has mainly changed only as regards the character of Yoshiko who, while still not as brilliantly serving the story as Gertrude and Ophelia, seems not at all a bad character in her own right.

I was reminded, too, of an analysis I read of the movie that compared Nishi's pursuit of cold, unwavering vengeance to that of the samurai. That Nishi is unable to avoid his humanity is a component of his downfall, as it surely was for Hamlet. I rather like stories that deal with the reality that trusting one's better nature isn't merely against the engine of the world's network of social fears, it can also often be disastrous. But that's why we love Hamlet, isn't it?
"a McCain campaign web ad released this morning declaring 'McCain Wins Debate!' -- put out even before the candidate had announced he was planning to debate."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I dreamt last night that it was possible to buy live trilobites as pets, but the only place to get them around here was a few miles north of San Diego. My friend really wanted one, so I went with her as she drove up to the place, and I held the box containing the trilobite on the way back. It was like a fat envelope, and eventually the trilobite escaped. I grabbed it by its middle as it squirmed out of the box. It was slightly smaller than a dinner plate, and I distinctly remember the feeling of shell segments in my hand covering squishy parts within and its legs waving rapidly and incessantly.

I woke up wondering why I haven't seen pill bugs around here in such a long time. I saw them constantly when I was a kid.

I think I got enough sleep last night, but I seem to have a massive headache and an even worse stomach ache. I've been working on the script for Chapter 10 anyway. Fortunately, it's one of those chapters I've been crafting in my head for weeks, even before I'd finished Chapter 8.

I'll be so glad when this week's over. I want my cognisance back.

I've intercepted a letter from John McCain to Apocalypse from X-Men;

Dear Apocalypse;

First of all, I would like to greet you in the name of the United States of America and welcome you to our shores. But, at the same time, I think it's important to iterate that you are the greatest threat mankind has faced.

There are many, like Senator Obama, who would suggest that by performing oral sex on massively powerful, evil mutants we would somehow gain prestige in the global economy. I say what I've always said; no way.

Oral sects are among the hardest working people in industry to-day, and I do not support the senator from Illinois' plan to exploit them.

Now, I will agree to meet with you, Mr. Apocalypse and I don't see any reason you and I can't reach an agreement. We are all Apocalypse, and I believe the foundations of our relationship are firm and guarantee prosperity for the world and America.

All the same, it must be stressed that you represent a crisis threatening to tear the very fabric of our safety and our values. You know, there was a time when I had to face what some might call a giant, villainous mutant in the form of my Viet Cong captors. And let me tell you, I didn't let them stand in the way of my love for this country, and I'll be damned if you will.

In conclusion, I hope that you and I can reach an amicable agreement that would facilitate peaceful and fruitful relations between us in perpetuity.

Your friend,
Senator John McCain

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To-day's like the opposite of yesterday. I'm functioning on even less sleep than I was on Monday. I have a hard time concentrating on one thing. I shouldn't even try blogging.

I will speak the hidden language of the blog! Blutod gogshudifd lud gouble glud blu lug gorubla. I touched the god of language on the tummy and he has giggled. Yeah, I shouldn't try blogging. Think I'll buy some liquorice and go to Tim's . . . What, CC? You have something to say?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gods, I wish every day could be as good as to-day. It's one of those days it's good to be a drawer. An artist who draws, I mean, not part of a chest of drawers. Though I'm sure that has its perks, too.

The visiting family was busy doing something else to-day, so I took to-day to get as close to caught up as possible. I spent seven hours pencilling the last two pages of Chapter 9 and I think it helped a lot that they were two pages I'd very much been looking forward to drawing. Also helping me; a full eight hours of sleep under my belt. I think I actually got a lot less sleep on Sunday night than I thought I did, because Monday I was experiencing all the things I normally experience with sleep deprivation; spaciness, indecisiveness, confusion, and a pounding headache.

I ended up going to Tim's and playing Soulcalibur 4 in the evening and I sucked. I was testing out "specking" characters (as Tim puts it when he's gearing his multiple World of Warcraft characters for different types of gameplay) with the different clothes and weapons that modify stats. I'd previously constructed only high-hitpoint, healing characters, as I generally find the best defence is a good defence. But there's a stage in The Tower of Souls I'm on that requires you to beat up some people fast. So I tried gearing a character for damage, only to find I did even more poorly than I did with the healing characters. I do think I might chalk it up to sleep deprivation, though.

I got to sleep at 2am and woke up at 10am. Unheard of hours for me. But to-day I luxuriated in the feeling of being adequately rested. I've had so many friends who seem to feel it doesn't really matter if they get only three hours of sleep a night. The difference, I must insist, is like the difference between a life-sized bust of Jiminy Cricket and Mount. Rushmore.

This morning I watched the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I liked a lot more by the end of the episode than I thought I was going to at the beginning of the episode. John Connor's got a slightly annoying yet oddly credible new girlfriend named (ugh) Reilly. The girl playing her is ridiculously hot, and it kills me she's not constantly naked, but she's somehow not great looking outside the show. And her name is Leven Rambin, which sounds like something tossed about by an agent and her consultants. But who wouldn't Leven Rambin? I got loopy one night when I accidentally took twelve Rambin. They need to come in bigger tablets. I wonder if the English call her "Leave-in Rambin". Nicolas Cage drinks himself to death in Vietnam with Sylvester Stallone in Leavin' Rambo.

Holy shit, it's her real name, I just looked it up. Er . . . That's fucking weird, man. You can take it from me, Trompe Setsuled.

I suppose I'll get around to watching the new Heroes at some point this week. Maybe. Ever since hearing Mike Nelson riff on the first two episodes, I don't think I'd be able to take it even the tiniest bit seriously. That is about how seriously I used to manage taking it; the tiniest bit.

I also watched the final episode of School Rumble this morning. It wasn't bad, and came a lot closer to a satisfying resolution than 90% of even decent anime series. But it had kind of created an irresolvable situation, so the writers did pretty well, considering.

My favourite thing I've read to-day was this from Kevin Murphy at the Rifftrax blog regarding the new hit song "I Kissed a Girl";

To the one, all of my nieces have declared this song annoying, not because they were offended in any way, or because of any sense of cultural prudishness or sexual/social orientation. That’s the beauty of bad music: it reaches across all cultural boundaries and annoys everyone. However, I feel bad for Katy Perry, who will have to sing this song at least ten thousand times before she dies.

The lyrics to this song have a sort of head-to-cement simplicity, the sort of intellectual equivalent of swallowing insulation as the established tableau of one verse gives way to naught but the re-establishment of tableau. The sort of snake eating its tail quality, only the snake has the brain of one of The Three Stooges.

No, I don't even know your name
It doesn't matter,
You're my experimental game
Just human nature,
It's not what,
Good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey

It's like Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a song.

Show 'em how it's done, Morrissey;

Monday, September 22, 2008

Even more tired to-day. I suspect I'll spend the rest of the day colouring, I'm just too tired to trust myself drawing the two pages I need to draw. But I should have plenty of sleep to-morrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Exhausted, again. I still have so much to do. I hope I survive this week. This is exactly like chapter 2 of Boschen and Nesuko, though. Actually, that was worse. The same family was in town that I had to spend time with, but Boschen and Nesuko chapter 2 was a much more detailed chapter than what I'm working on now. On the other hand, I have much higher standards for myself now.

I was at Tim's house a couple days ago when he was listening to Chevy Chase on The Howard Stern Show reminiscing about his life and career. Stern asked him about a rumoured feud between him and Bill Murray and Chase told a story about the old days of Saturday Night Live I found sort of fascinating. He said he'd come back to the show to host a little while after he'd left the regular cast and that Murray, who'd replaced him at Weekend Update, had been somewhat poisoned against Chase by John Belushi. According to Chase, Belushi had always been jealous of him because Belushi considered himself more talented than Chase while Chase became a much bigger star--a jealousy, Chase said, Belushi may well have been entirely justified in feeling.

Chase wouldn't say what Murray had said to him at the time, but apparently it was a glance from Belushi that caused Chase to decide the discord between them was entirely due to misinformation from Belushi. Chase and Murray almost got into a fist fight, and Chase said that Murray used to get into a lot of fights back in the day and said part of Murray's effectiveness as a comedian was the underlying element of danger always present. I must say, I've never looked at it that way before--I've always thought there was something indefinable about Murray's technique that wonderfully colours seemingly otherwise flat line deliveries. I think, if anything, I might have described it as a gentleness.

Of course, if Chase could say Belushi had made up things about him, it's just as likely Chase is making shit up about Belushi and Murray. Anyway, it seemed Chase didn't have any trouble working with Murray on Caddyshack.

I'd better get to work.
I just got back from seeing Burn After Reading. A nice movie, like a metaphor for the world. No-one knowing what the fuck's going on, people dying, actions occasionally serving motives, motives of others occasionally perceived. Funny and horrific, just like life, and just like the Coens.

I am really tired. The maid who was here to-day, the maid I sacked in September, who's returned, was very noisy and I got practically no sleep. I wouldn't be surprised if I fell asleep before 3am.

I was in a strange mood all day. Sort of sad, but I had a really easy time laughing at things. I suppose Burn After Reading was the perfect movie for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My favourite quote of the week; "There are no atheists in foxholes, and there are no libertarians in financial crises."

Paul Krugman said it on Real Time with Bill Maher, and while I'm not sure I agree about there being no atheists in foxholes, Andrew Sullivan, a libertarian, nicely proved the latter point by later in the same episode of Real Time putting the bulk of the blame on people taking the loans they couldn't make good on. Sullivan's not a complete idiot, so I think we can blame this on ideological blindness. I mean, really, let's say everyone was capable of the individual thought required to know the bank's business better than the bank does and also has the guts to see past all of the other people taking out the loans. Let's say all these people got together for an evil plan, or let's say all these people are plain stupid and somehow that means they deserve to be homeless and destroyed. That still doesn't address the problem smacking the country in the face; these banks crumbling while a group of conmen go scot-free, profiting from the swindle. Gee, you think some regulation might have helped? Shall we build the dam instead of trusting the river to know flooding the city isn't ultimately in its own best interest?


Here's a screenshot from a chess game I played with Dragoness a couple nights ago where I managed to win without losing a single piece and only taking one of her pawns;

Because it seems like I need at least one picture for every post now. Well, really, what is the use of a blog without pictures or conversations?

Some family's coming to town and my schedule's going to be weird for the next week. Which is why I'm blogging at 4:21am . . .

Friday, September 19, 2008

Avast, ye talkers of piratonese! Ye're dogglin' the fibby wort popple! Yeah, I don't know how to talk like a pirate.

To-day I dreamt I was talking to Carrie Fisher about The Empire Strikes Back and she was insisting to me the ending didn't make sense. "Why didn't Vader go nuclear on Luke?" she asked.

I somehow couldn't remember the end of The Empire Strikes Back, and a scene came to mind of Luke being strapped to some nuclear device by Darth Vader. It was only after Fisher had gone that I remembered the movie actually made perfect sense.

I spent all day yesterday working on a single panel. By the way, in case anyone was wondering, Venia did get her dress from John William Waterhouse;

Though I made some modifications, obviously. So there's a bit of Victorian aesthetic influence on the comic. I wonder if there's a word for the hybrid of Victorian and Medieval aesthetics? Aside from the Pre-Raphaelites, The Lord of the Rings certainly contributes to the phenomenon.

Anyway, in case you missed the earlier post, there's a new Venia's Travels online to-day.
My latest chapter of Venia's Travels has been accepted by Venia's Travels and is now online because it's my site! Thanks, Setsuled! You're welcome, Setsuled! I can't think of anyone more deserving!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

After posting last night's entry, I went outside to put the trash cans at the curb. I walked around the side of the house, where it's completely dark, and walked face first into a huge spider web. The worst part is that I knew better--a few weeks ago, my sister dropped me off and was perplexed to see me walking around slowly with my arms waving in front of me. "Were you just walking like a zombie?" she asked.

"It's the spiders!" I said. Every year at around this time, fat orange spiders about the size of a quarter make enormous webs, usually across human paths. A couple years ago, I walked into one and rushed inside to see the big spider dangling from my hat like a Christmas ornament. Last night, I wasn't even wearing my hat, so after getting it like banana cream pie in the face, I sprang back into the driveway, into the light, and started to dance! Eventually I spotted the big orange fellow gripping my shirt near my collar like a lapel pin. I'd say it was a sign from the American War God except the spider looked pretty frightened. I managed to shake him off without hurting him.

To-day I bought a bag of cinnamon raisin bagel crisps. They're insanely good--I finished a bag two days ago. They're probably not good for me.

I miss whiskey. I find myself opening the bottles and enjoying the aroma. But when I tried having some Jameson, I think it was on Monday, I still got that same heavy feeling in the bottom of my abdomen that makes me feel more anxious than anything else. I guess I'll try again in a couple months . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So, yes, The Thief of Bagdad is a gorgeous and wonderful film with five directors, one of whom was the great Michael Powell, and I didn't need Martin Scorsese in the commentary to tell me that at the opening sequence, a grand tracking shot through a crowded harbour beginning with an eye painted on a ship, was directed by Powell. The scene has his flair for layering of elements and other scenes bear his distinct talent for composing shots of colourful foreground objects and soft, angled shadows on minimalist backgrounds.

I listened to the Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese commentary while inking and colouring yesterday, and I was disappointed to find that it was two commentaries spliced together in one. I always wonder if the separate participants know their contribution is going to be edited this way. But it did add an interesting aspect to those comments from the two men that were related. Coppola comes off as slightly mushier than Scorsese, unabashedly passionate in his praise for the film, and even singing along with child actor, Sabu, the star of the film, as he sings about wanting to be a sailor. Later, as Scorsese talked about Spielberg and Lucas and a number of other modern, great directors and their mutual love for this movie, he said, "Francis had his--absolutely mad about the film. And he sings the song all the time, 'I want to be a sailor'." Coppola has this deep, plodding voice, so it's a bit like hearing the Frankenstein monster sing this child's song, all the more charming because he seems to enjoy it so thoroughly.

Both directors had a great deal of praise for Sabu, whom I'd heard Scorsese refer to as his favourite actor of the 1940s in the Black Narcissus commentary. The kid's certainly an oddity, as is any non-Caucasian actor in a Western film of the period who's allowed to act, well, human. But as Scorsese remarks at one point, there's more to it than that, as Sabu's performance seems to come from a very different and more naturalistic place than the performances of most of the other actors. The child was discovered by a documentary filmmaker when he was making a living as an elephant driver, which may account for the fact that Sabu is by far more muscular than the film's lead, John Justin;

Coppola remarks on Justin's skinniness as having seemed strange to him when he saw the movie as a child in the 40s. I found it to be downright disturbing, since, as we're supposed to take Sabu as a scrappy youngster, it makes Justin seem malnourished and sickly to me, and that big blue vein popping out of his right arm doesn't help. It's a rare bit of billing justice that Sabu and Conrad Veidt were billed above Justin.

Veidt also drew a lot of praise from both directors, Coppola saying that the only autographed photo of an actor he has is one of Veidt's. And Veidt's character, Jaffar, the film's villain, is discussed at length by the two directors, Coppola drawing a comparison between him and Anton Walbrook's character in The Red Shoes, another Michael Powell film. A comparison I'd already been thinking about because Scorsese had mentioned Jaffar as being the primary reason he's still interested in the film--he'd said the same thing about Walbrook's Boris Lermontov in his commentary for The Red Shoes.

Both characters seem tormented by their inability to consummate relationships with the female leads of the respective pictures, and both are aloof sorcerers. As Scorsese says of Jaffar; "He can create so much and animate objects but ultimately, he can't change her heart. And this is one of the most interesting things that I think about the picture and the story and the way it's revealed, and that is that the most disturbing character is also the most vulnerable. And this vulnerability to me is always so surprising. It gives him a kind of um odd compassion. It makes his character, and Conrad Veidt's portrayal of him, something that becomes enriched every time you see the picture."

As Jaffar, seen from a sharp pan into a low angle shot of him raising his arms on a ship at sea, commands the weather with one, loud intonation, "Wind!" I thought the moment seemed familiar, and I realised Coppola had given it to Gary Oldman in his Dracula movie. Coppola doesn't mention this in the commentary, in fact his comments on Jaffar are along lines similar to Scorsese's, as he says, during a scene of Jaffar's attempted seduction of the female lead, "But of course she can't give herself to him the way he wants her because he wants her to truly love him. And he can't have her any other way, you know. Because he loves her so much and, you know, so the villain who is so powerful is caught up in some inexorable dramatic pattern."

It's not dissimilar to the underlying poetry of King Kong, made just seven years earlier, and I'm wondering now about the significance of what may have been a perpetual, subliminal theme in movies of the 30s and 40s. I'm also reminded of Claude Rains' character in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious.

I also found the two directors' comments regarding the toy obsessed Sultan to be interesting. Scorsese found the Sultan's compulsion to be deeply disturbing for the Sultan's apparent desire to dominant the things, while at the same time, Scorsese says, "the obsession with the toys reminds me of the obsession with cinema itself, the uh, the magic nature of the moving image in a way--The Magic Box--the British film that was made about the life of William Friese Greene, who was the inventor of cinema in England. But the nature of that obsession is so overwhelming and it's reflected in the joy with which this picture was made. But also in the fact that he can't help himself from having those toys, he must have those toys, he, and the way Michael always told me--Michael Powell--you can't help yourself but to make pictures. Sometimes to the detriment of many things, sometimes to the detriment of those around you."

Which reminds me again of Lermontov, who sought to ignore human nature for a total devotion to art. Yet my most recent viewing of The Red Shoes had me wondering more how successfully Lermontov had avoided human nature, or whether his desire for Vicky may have been a transmutation of human nature. That perhaps the impresario had so completely funnelled his passions through his art that they were inevitably expressed on that avenue.

Coppola, meanwhile, was only charmed by the Sultan's obsession for toys; "You know, I look at this sequence and this King and all these toys and I think how perfectly, how exactly this story fits what I'm like and what I love and what I'm interested in, these mechanical toys and the romance of the era and then I realise, well, is it that it's so much the way I'm like or did it make me be the way I am? That I love these things because I saw this film?"

Coppola also spoke glowingly of Miklos Rozsa's score, repeating the melodies from heart in much the way people of my generation remember themes from Star Wars or The Godfather, which got me thinking whether Star Wars happens to fit my personality, or if my personality is as it is because of Star Wars. And knowing The Thief of Bagdad similarly influenced Lucas, it gets me thinking about the great chain of myth in the human subconscious. Something Scorsese addresses in the commentary by way of Michael Powell's addressing of the concept;

"The world of the fairytale creates its own time and its own space, has its own laws and has its own logic which is dreamlike. There's a genie that's been imprisoned for two thousand years, and there's elders that are survivors of some ancient, long forgotten golden age which, particularly when they talk about the purity of heart of the child taps into a kind of ancient myth or a kind of subconscious that exists through culture and time over the years. With that in mind, one accepts these elements in the picture, one can travel up to the roof of the world or over the Grand Canyon or anywhere, the film just takes you. In a sense, the story itself doesn't have to be rational, it seems irrational but the events in the story unfold or come about with a logic that's very strong, but within a magical framework. And that logic is so compelling that the supernatural events in the film don't seem to surprise anybody, it's the world they're in, it's all taken for granted. And it's never questioned. So if the rule is something that is fantastic, rather than the fantastic being an exception, to reality, then the boundaries don't exist anymore between the real and the imaginary and the physical and the mental. There's a total freedom to dream in this fairytale world. Objects, inanimate objects, respond to command, come to life, flying carpets, horses, the statue, the silver maid, which murders the sultan, and even roses that can, uh, their fragrance creates amnesia. So in a world like this, the wildest notions can be achieved with the right fetish, the right talisman.

"But this is something that Michael Powell actually wrote in his autobiography that applies to this sense of pushing the limits and having the audience accept the style, accept the world that the filmmakers are trying to create. But this is a quote from Michael, 'We need you to bring your sense of imagination, suspend your sense of disbelief so that you can help us succeed in [synectic?] effect on you in a way. To be open minded, to bring some of yourself, some of your own sense of wonder and delight if you can to the imagery in the films.'"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I kind of like this guy's artwork for The Smiths' "This Night has Opened My Eyes";

I had a post-apocalyptic dream last night. The world had reformed into ruined buildings in an ocean. The British Navy seemed to be in charge of everything, mainly because they'd thought beforehand to make a complex series of locks, like the ones on the Panama Canal. Everyone I knew seemed to be moving south for some reason and no one wanted to speak to anyone else. I remember looking up to see two enormous skyscrapers that appeared to be made of a spiky, crystalline graphite.

There was a small space between the building I was walking on and the next, and two women pushing a stroller next to me complained they'd never be able to cross, but I was able to leap the gap easily. I was aware of Caitlin and Spooky travelling some distance ahead of me, and I knew they were trying to get to Atlanta, though I couldn't figure out why as I recalled they both hated the place.

I found a square opening in the roof of one building and remembered it from another dream--it led into an exhibition of sculptures by the singer Jewel. It was deserted now, of course. I was trying to descend into the building when I woke up.

I noticed I wasn't drawing too well to-day and realised I hadn't eaten. Sometimes it's as simple as that. I went and got a sandwich and some apples from the grocery store. I got weirdly excited when a guy handed me a free newspaper.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This morning I watched the final episode of xxxHolic's second season, an episode which consisted of two of the characters shopping for a refrigerator followed by almost all the characters eating together at a fox's udon stand. Yet another sort of episode that would never fly on American television. Neither the world nor the protagonist's personal life is in peril? Who'd believe that? The episode also featured cameos from other CLAMP series. Spot the Chobits characters;

The whole thing made me hungry for Japanese food, which led to me wandering about town for several hours to-day. I'm caught up on my comic, so I guess I did have a little time to spend. I also picked up the Criterion edition of The Thief of Baghdad, which features commentary with Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. Who'd have thought? What's next, David Lynch commentary for The Wizard of Oz? Gods, I bet that'd be great.

While I was out, I was toying with the idea of doing another Halloween comic. I sort of like the idea of Anelnoath having an annual Halloween special. I don't know if I could pull it off while also doing Venia's Travels. Tell you what, if enough people express interest, I'll make one.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Here are some pictures from an evening Toubanua spent touring Second Life museums last week;

The grand, gradual journey to the magnificent being and her capacity to create and destroy nightclubs and two dimensional palm trees.

This was a place I found by doing a search for "Louvre." Who needs the real thing when you have . . .

At last, the age old struggle between man and woman for social dominance distilled into its final form; thumb wrestling.

Yes, giving birth to this world probably does warrant a *facepalm*.

Tou finds herself contemplating the possibility that she is naught but a collection of colourful pixels;

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I drew the first page of Chapter 9 to-day. I ought to've drawn it yesterday, but it seems I'm slightly behind schedule. I'm not worried. Life's too short, right?

The television has stopped picking up channels for reasons I've yet to even attempt discovering. So I missed Bill Maher, which was a bit disappointing. I took the time then to dust my room yesterday. It'd been too long. I even used the Old English oil I used to use on my room as a kid. It was sort of nostalgic. I'd dust more often if I had time. Why doesn't the world comply with my naturally relaxed disposition?

My grandmother picked up some strange new variety of veggie burger, but every new veggie burger is probably best described as strange, each having its own mysterious alchemy involved to produce its individual mulch. Most of them give me terrible stomach aches, as this one did at around 9am this morning. I thought maybe it'd been the Jameson I had last night, at first, which was the first liquor I'd had in almost a week. I don't think I enjoyed it enough. I'll give liquor an extension on its leave of absence, I think.

I got up at 2:30 in the afternoon and felt like I could've slept later, probably because of the time spent in front of the toilet at 9am trying to figure out if I was going to throw up. I had long hair last time the spirits overwhelmed me, so I was looking forward to the ease with which I might expel vomit with this sensible cut. Alas, it was not put to the test.

The only thing I watched yesterday was a couple episodes of xxxHolic, which is a good series to take in small doses.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Home again. More to do. I can't believe there's another hurricane in the gulf coast. It seems like we've got two years at best before that part of the country becomes like the surface of Venus. While in this part, of course, there'll be more wildfires. Where are the colossal atomic men? Anyway, here's hoping Ike evaporates.

Apparently Dragoness was finally able to get through to the police in the UK. I still suspect this guy's never going to be caught, but here's hoping.

I bought a bottle of mead last night, and my sister and I drank half while watching Sherlock Holmes, and I finished it later in the evening while watching Floating Weeds. I know I said I was in a Kurosawa mood, but I decided to give this one another go while I was feeling exceptionally tranquil, as that's the sort of mood the movie seems to require. It's a movie with a plot that seems almost entirely incidental to Ozu's passion for composition of static shots. It's far better appreciated as a series of portraits, especially as I still can't sympathise entirely with the odd glorification of its protagonist at the end. I think the earlier, silent film version actually works slightly better as a story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still at my parents' house. Not much to say at the moment, or time to say it. I was able to bring my work with me, which is good, since I still have two and a half pages to colour for Chapter 8, rough drawings to do for Chapter 9 as well as a little work on the script. But I've had more time here than usual to watch movies, and last night I watched Rashomon. If any other movie has addressed the human tendency to lie to oneself to preserve sanity with such eloquence and compassion, I've yet to see it.

I'm back in a Kurosawa mood, most definitely, so I dropped by my grandmother's house to grab Seven Samurai. Though I'm wondering if I'm actually more in the mood for Stray Dog or Throne of Blood.

I have to admit, I sort of admire the McCain campaign's ability to unflinchingly deliver unequivocal lies about Sarah Palin, most notably about her supposed opposition to the bridge to nowhere when in fact she was a proponent of the plan. Not to mention her various shenanigans with tax money, like paying herself to stay in her own home while she's billing herself as someone opposed to frivolous government spending. I would be hesitant to lie so blatantly, but I guess the McCain people knew enough about human nature that at least half of the electorate is intensely stupid, willing to judge the candidates more on what they say than on what they do.

I guess there's a stubborn team-minded entrenchment at work, too. Like my mother's Republican friend who was angry after Obama pointed out that McCain, who often claims he'd follow Bin Laden to the gates of hell, won't even follow him to his cave. My mother's friend insisted Obama was accusing McCain of cowardice. Some people really are attached to the cocoons they weave for themselves.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I had to get out of the house after last night's post, so I went to Tim's and played Soulcalibur 4 a while, making the weakest character I could and letting myself get beat up again and again by a boosted Darth Vader. Tim thinks I'm crazy for doing things like that, but it is always satisfying, especially when I finally win.

I don't know where things stand on the paedophile thing. My friend was trying to get through to a variety of law enforcement entities last night with seemingly little luck. I worry about that little girl I've never met living with that man across the Atlantic Ocean. But I guess shit like that's always happening somewhere, and it seems there's nothing I can do. Just having interacted with the guy makes me feel responsible somehow . . .

I did watch the season premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles a couple nights ago. I enjoyed it, despite the 8 million plot holes and the fact that the John Conner still annoys me and it's sort of hilarious how completely Brian Austin Green fails at acting. I cracked up watching him do the standard "eyes quickly roaming the ceiling before breaking the hard facts of life to the younger man". But I'm still digging Lena Headey and Summer Glau, and Shirley Manson was a decent addition to the cast. Richard T. Jones isn't bad.

I'm looking forward to seeing Sukiyaki Western Django at some point, which promises to be a better marriage of the samurai film and spaghetti western than the other thing I watched on Monday night, Red Sun. To be fair, I did only watch half of it, but it was such a disappointment, I don't know if I could finish it. I couldn't resist downloading it when I heard it starred Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune, a teamup with so much potential that was sadly squandered. The fault primarily lies in a weirdly jovial Bronson and a depressingly stiff Mifune, essentially driving in the polar opposite directions of both actors' strengths.

I'm staying at my parents' house a couple nights, so I need to cut this short to get ready. Venia's Travels finally got listed on OnlineComics.net, and I'll be posting bulletins of updates there as well as continuing to do so in my blog. You know, I suppose I really ought to be making use of my MySpace and Twitter accounts for that, too . . .

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I just found out someone I played chess with regularly in Second Life is a paedophile who was engaging in simulated sexual practices in Second Life with his eight year old daughter. The place where I play chess, Mogor, is a BDSM club, but I've never been interested in the sexual culture of Second Life as I find it completely unexciting. I don't have anything against people who like sex in Second Life, in fact my friend, Dragoness, is in charge of Mogor. But I've always been there just for the chess and the conversation.

This revelation sickens me. I'm not someone who feels that paedophiles should be treated as inhuman or irredeemable. But the fact that this grown man behaves so irresponsibly with his child, well. I guess it's to-day's reason to feel sick about the commonality of insensitive and selfish humans. He always did seem somewhat insensitive, but then, he never talked very much. He was a very good chess player.

I had more to talk about to-day, but I can't muster the energy right now. I'll get back to work . . .

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sheesh, time sure got away from me to-day. Most of it has so far been spent working on the script for Chapter 9, and I've only written half of it. For both 8 and 9 I've gone back to a technique I used to use on Boschen and Nesuko, where I'd write the first part of a script by hand at a Starbucks or something, then come back and edit it as I type and write the conclusion based on what the first part suggests to me. I'm already wondering if I can fit everything I want in 9, or if some of it will have to spill over into 10.

I completely meant to catch the season premiere of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, but I just lifted my head out of the script to see that it's 8:20 already. Oh, well. Guess I'll watch it online as I did the entire first season. Now that I watch The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Keith Olbermann online, usually while colouring at the same time, I never actually catch any show at its scheduled broadcast time. The clockwork of the world has taken the mustard.

Speaking of Olbermann, here's an interesting article about Olbermann and Chris Matthews being demoted from anchor positions during the ridiculous marathon coverages. Earlier to-day, the article pointed to Olbermann's reaction to the RNC's 9/11 necrophiliac wankfest video as being the primary cause of his demotion, but the article's since been altered to say merely that Olbermann was "criticized for his remarks after a Republican video tribute remembering the attacks of September 11."

Uh huh. Olbermann apologised to viewers for the showing of graphic images that might be upsetting to people like him, who'd lost friends on 9/11, especially as the images were being used to promote the campaign of a presidential candidate. I suppose the GOP shall be placated when anchors avoid commenting on their practice of giddily painting their faces with the blood of innocent people in the interest of impartiality. Why don't we just have tickers anchor these things?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm only around fourteen pages into War and Peace, but I'm marvelling at how many characters Tolstoy's already managed to introduce and make interesting. Young Pierre's passionate endorsement of Napoleon as being the champion of the people with his strong arm tactics reminded me of modern American middle and lower class supporters of John McCain. I guess the answer as to why young, uneducated people would support a ruler whose policies are antithetical to their interests is that the ignorant instinctively respect uncomplicated power. Well, I can't say I know much about the French royalty that preceded Napoleon.

Code Geass to-day also had me thinking about dictators, now that the series protagonist has become a possibly brutal Emperor of Britannia. The series has plenty of flaws, but I am somewhat impressed that it uses the modern pop bishonen trend to portray a charismatic freedom fighter's metamorphosis into a despotic ruler.

I've finished inking Chapter 8 of Venia's Travels to-day and I have a whole lot of colouring to do. But I'm ahead of where I was last chapter at this point. I'm starting to get used to this schedule--I think I just need to face the fact that I'm never going to get these chapters done as quickly as I got Boschen and Nesuko's chapters done, and its simply a reflection of the fact that I put a lot more work into them. I'm glad I've worked out a system that lets me make a higher quality comic while still managing to update it fortnightly.

Some nice games of chess last night. One game with Lezlie got so down to the wire it ended up being decided by the fact that I had one more pawn than she did. As I said to her, it was like a single grain of rice missing from our otherwise equal bags of a hundred.

I can't beat my iPod chess at its hardest mode of difficulty. I tried again a couple days ago while walking back from my parents' house--I got so absorbed, I turned down two wrong streets and walked past my grandmother's house twice. Good thing there were no spider webs.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Looks like Caitlin's taking down Nebari.net, so this is your last chance to see the Nareth manga I did several years ago. It's far from my best work--it was only my second comic. But it was a lot of fun. It's also a relic of the days when Caitlin dared to speak my name.

It's half Farscape fanfiction, half rendering of Caitlin's Nar'eth character, a Nebari woman she dressed as at conventions. I guess I've always shared Caitlin's desire to create alternate worlds to dwell in. It's kind of interesting, in light of that, that our Second Life role playing relationship ending up being such a train wreck. For some reason she was never able to get into character around me, and she seemed to resent all my attempts to create characters. Yet we seemed to work together so well on fanfiction, both the Nebari thing and the Lord of the Rings thing. Part of me thinks it was the whole thing with Sonya that got in the way, and Caitlin felt she could never trust me after that. And I, meanwhile, am sorry for trusting Sonya. Nice little merry go round.

Yesterday, I played Soulcalibur 4 for four hours at Tim's house, discovering Amy, the rapier wielding teenager, can very easily make the likes of Astaroth her bitch. Afterwards, I went for a long drive to the grocery store and thought up the basic skeletons of chapters nine and ten of Venia's Travels. I'm very much looking forward to working on them.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Here's something to make you angry--the Republican National Convention's 9/11 "Tribute" video. Ham handed falls short of describing this. This is a freight train of ham dick slamming into a tunnel of love. Keith Olbermann's appalled reaction reminds me of why I love him.

Starting off with the Iranian hostage crisis and segueing into 9/11 with the clear implication that these two events were perpetrated by the same enemy, the video is gratuitously and unabashedly racist, zealous propaganda. But let's take a moment to think about why exists, shall we?

The video shamelessly deploys images of the World Trade Centre from 9/11 to evoke the fear and sadness of that day, drumming up these emotions so that they can be funnelled into the Right's preconceived notions about the dynamic between the United States and foreigners. Like I was saying about myself a couple days ago, blowing things out of proportion to make them less cruel, to fit things into seemingly manageable vessels. So I can understand this craziness.

I think the Left often makes the mistake of writing off the murderous impulses of the Right as being something alien. I wrote a story about this subliminal dialogue last year called "June Too Late". I read it to-day for the first time since last year, and time has made me a lot prouder of it than I was then.

In case you missed it, there's a new Venia's Travels online to-day. I'm done drawing to-day, so I think I'll go over Tim's and beat up some demon martial artists . . .

Wircelia Cordelly has joined your party!

The party has gained 10,000xp

Venia; level up!

The party has acquired 2 phoenix downs

What I'm trying to say is there's a new Venia's Travels online.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Looking at Neil Gaiman's blog just now, I saw that a friend of his daughter has gone missing in New York City. The missing woman's name is Hannah Emily Upp. There's more information here. I doubt I have the tiniest fraction of readers Gaiman's blog has, but just in case . . .

I started reading War and Peace last night. I still haven't finished Blood and Iron, which isn't a bad book, I just needed something . . . I don't know. Something heartier? I guess there's no way I can justify putting down Blood and Iron for War and Peace without sounding backhanded, so I'll stop.

I just came from my parents' house where I ate dinner and watched an episode of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series with my sister. We're four episodes in now and I'm happy to see my sister's enjoying it so far. I had some wine with dinner, the first bit of alcohol I've had in more than a week. I don't know why--I just haven't been enthusiastic about alcohol lately. I fail at alcoholism.

Well, I had a little tequila on Saturday, but I wasn't able to finish it. It was more of a confirmation that I really wasn't enjoying liquor. It's vaguely frustrating. Oh, well, it's probably for the best. Except I have all these bottles next to me . . . Wild Turkey, Jameson, Bacardi, Jose Cuervo, and Kubler absinthe. I feel oddly relieved that I have plenty of liquor at the same time that I don't particularly feel like drinking any. I drink like a squirrel, I guess.

The absinthe bottle's still half full and I bought it in December, I think. Looks like it's going to last me a whole year, at least. For that, sixty dollars actually seems like a very reasonable price for a bottle.

I haven't even begun to-day's pencils, but this is just a side effect of the fact that I'm getting back into my nocturnal schedule. I'd better get to it now, so I'll leave you with a picture of Toubanua Tairov in the new ballerina outfit I bought for her. What is it with Russians and ballet? Now if I could just find some red shoes . . .

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I just walked to the store to buy some cous cous and honey. It was around 7:30 so the sun'd already set and as I approached a busy intersection a kid yelled, "Holy shit, we got a cowboy!"

The kid looked about ten, and he was on a bicycle waiting for the light to change. He was buck toothed with curly brown hair, his friend was quiet and wearing a purple t-shirt. "What's up, cowboy?" said the first kid, who was holding a cell phone to his ear.

"Not much." I said.

"What are you supposed to be, a cowboy?" he asked

"Actually I'm a secret agent."

He paused, "Then where's your badge?"

"Well if I carried a badge, I wouldn't be a very secret agent, would I?" I said.

"But you just told me you're a secret agent!"

"It was your clever interrogation that found me out."

"I'm very clever," he said. Then, into his cell phone he yelled, "Oh my god, we got a crazy motherfucker! I'm riding with Joey and there's this guy all dressed in black--hey! Fucking Asian!"

A woman had turned the corner in front of us after the crosswalk light had changed. As we started crossing the street, the kid yelled, "Go the fuck back to China!"

"Watch your language!" yelled a woman waiting at the light.

"Fuck you, you fucking nigger!" yelled the kid.

Aren't children precious? I'd lay odds he doesn't even know what "nigger" means, that he probably just heard his father using the word for someone he doesn't like. I was called a nigger myself now and then in elementary school. But that kid's defence mechanisms sure seemed accustomed to being at full blast constantly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I've come to the conclusion that no amount of Morrissey songs can prepare you for your inevitable inadequacy.

I was looking at Sonya's journal again this morning, though I know I probably shouldn't, and I was reminded that she's a wonderful person. Every time I get bitter about all the love and attention she seems to get from people who know she hurt me, I ought to remind myself that I used to think she was the bee's knees, too, and now I'm negatively biased, perhaps by my own self-deception more than her blundering. She may not be a better person on the inside in a vague, metaphysical, unquantifiable way, but for all practical purposes, she's more attractive, nicer, and more successful than I am. I'd say more talented, but I guess that's subjective.

I wish all headway I make with reconstructing my ego wasn't dependant on lying to myself. I blow things out of proportion to make them less cruel, when it was probably just a matter of an innocent girl getting freaked out when a guy maybe liked her too much. And there's something I'd promised myself I'd steer clear of--innocent girls. Girls who talk to you like you're the greatest thing in the universe, until you start to believe it. Then something happens, a genuine mistake, maybe you don't even know what you did, and she won't forgive you. Why should she? You did something enormously stupid and/or mean. Only a sucker would forgive you.

I suppose my ideal is someone who can love their friends with their faults, not in spite of them. That's why I've had my fill of innocent girls for a lifetime. Before Sonya, even, there'd been girls who would tell me I'm the most magnificent thing in the universe within hours of meeting. And if I started to have faith in them, I'd get the rug pulled out from under me big time when I realised their words were poorly articulated or ill-considered exuberance.

But the question then is; do I feel inadequate because I'm less than the man it appeared she believed me to be, or because I'm less than the man I need to be to fulfil my own desires? I'd say the latter, mainly. I suppose I could take comfort in the knowledge that most people fall short of what they need to be. I think those that don't tend too often to misjudge how much they owe to luck.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I read the new Sirenia Digest story, "The Z Word", while eating breakfast this morning and enjoyed it. I presume the title's a reference to Shaun of the Dead, or it's a really big coincidence, as the story also concerns zombies. But on coincidences, the story also features someone listening to ABBA on repeat to the annoyance of another character, and it was only just a couple weeks ago my grandmother was blasting "Dancing Queen" on repeat to my intense irritation.*

What's really nice about the story is it blends zombie horror with relationship drama, the reanimation of the protagonist's dead boyfriend resembling the sort of vertigo provoked by interaction with someone you used to be in a relationship with. He resembles who you loved, but now he's dead, and the fact that he's moving in a familiar way is sort of horrible. That type of horror is behind a lot of zombie stories, but when the writer can feel her way through it, it still works.

The story's accompanied by another of Vince Locke's illustrations of emaciated and expressionless naked people that looks like it took ten minutes out of his day. They always look like vaguely naughty doodles of action figure still lives, which is weird because a quick image search for Vince Locke shows he does much better with single pages of comic. I hope Caitlin's not giving him money for these.

I was enjoying some David Lynch coffee while reading. In case you were wondering if the stuff's any good, it's fucking phenomenal. And it's nice knowing I'm in some small way funding Lynch's projects.

Yesterday was a really good day. I finished drawing early enough to go to Tim's and try out Soulcalibur IV. Tim got the PlayStation 3 version, so Darth Vader's one of the characters available to the players. Since Tim and I prefer switching to the Japanese voice tracks instead of Soulcalibur's infamously lousy English voice actors, we were treated to someone sounding enough like James Earl Jones saying badass things in Japanese which was unexpectedly really fucking cool. And it was just nice to be playing Soulcalibur again. I'd forgotten what an important part of life it is--beating the shit out of samurai and demon gods over and over again. I think we all need to do that now and then.

Later, I hung out in Second Life with Natalie and Dragoness for a while before watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed that movie so much.

*It's funnier when Phil Ken Sebben does it.