Friday, October 31, 2008

Obviously, I didn't have time for a Halloween special this year (enjoy last year's if you must). Though I suppose there's something Halloweenish about Kakeshya's orange scarf in the new Venia's Travels. Also, an astute observer will see two pumpkins in the backgrounds of several panels.

Yesterday I went out to lunch to a sushi place I used to go to all the time and I was surprised to find it completely deserted. I didn't even see the help. The place never seems to have its lights on in the middle of the day, though, so it was dark and the air was thick with dust, which, now that I think about it, was odd. Normally the big widescreen TVs have sports on, too, and they were off. I wandered in a few steps but I guess I'm too timid a guy to just start saying, "Hello."

The sushi at this place is really cheap, which is why I go. I can get a decent plate for ten dollars, but lately I've been wondering what the trade-off was. This came to mind yesterday when I noticed the absolutely pervasive stench of bad fish in the empty place. Fish gone bad, yes, but not so much like it spoiled in the sun, but I'd swear it was something worse, like bacteria unknown to man had colonised on and mutated the fish guts.

I was beginning to think the place had just been abandoned. Maybe the manager was the only person working that day and she had had to make a bank run but forgot to lock the door. I felt sort of bad because the manager had gotten familiar enough from my frequent visits--she was a nice little old Japanese lady.

Anyway, I was about to go outside, when I heard what I thought was either a woman crying or groaning. A sort of protracted moan, but barely audible. I walked around the bar and saw something real fucking weird. The light was dim, so at first I had only an impression of moving fishy parts--undulating like dark lava. White rimmed gills trembling as they pulled apart and rhythmically snapping shut again. Tentacles pulling through the junk like lazy ballerina worms, their suckers catching on broken and blackened fish scales. Then I realised there were something like human eyes in the mess, lost in various crevasses and glittering in the grey light.

There were other human pieces, too, oddly deflated and indistinguishable from the fish bits. A leg barely recognisable for the odd fish ribs filling out the places where the kneecaps should be. Still less identifiable pieces of human flesh sagging across like a balding man's comb-over. The moan started to rise in pitch, into something like a plaintive scream, but the impression of human emotion vanished as the pitch rose past levels reachable by human vocal chords.

I ran, not from fear, really, but because the sound was actually painful. My shoes sloshed through about an inch of cloudy mucus on the floor I'd somehow not noticed before and a salty smell filled the air.

Well, I have to go to my parents' house now. Happy Halloween, everyone!
The new Venia's Travels is online and, boy, are my arms tired. My eyes, too--it's only 4am and somehow they're drooping. I think I'll reward myself by watching the new Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei. It's not been fansubbed, so I'll be relying on my spotty Japanese. He's like ninety and covered with liver spots. Still, I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Normally Hayate no Gotoku parodies a variety of different manga and anime series and I was surprised to find the episode I watched this morning contained a reference to the short Sherlock Holmes story "The Speckled Band" and a reference to Dick Cheney shooting someone in the face. It's strange when American politics pops up in Japanese television. I suppose Cheney shooting someone in the face must be one of the strongest impressions someone living in a foreign country might have of American politics.

I also watched a bit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail while eating, and for some reason when The Knight Who Says Ni tells Arthur to cut down a tree with a herring, I decided to look up "herring" in Wikipedia. Wikipedia said, "Herrings are focus of many jokes as a result of a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the Knights who say Ni ask King Arthur to 'cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with ... a herring!'" Life seems to be about odd loops and reflections so far to-day.

There's something wrong with that sentence, isn't there? I shall fix Wikipedia . . .

"Herrings are the focus of many jokes as a result of a scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the Knights who say Ni ask King Arthur to 'cut down the mightiest tree in the forest with ... a herring!'"

There. I am a Wikipedia hero. Setsuled the Wikipedia Editor. Like Joe the Plumber or Roger the Shrubber or Howard the Duck. Will the (name) the (occupation) jokes ever run their course? Not until the coming of Rob the Killjoy, perhaps.

Can you believe I'm actually considering doing NaNoWriMo? I just want to breathe work, it seems.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First of all, happy birthday Natalie.

I just finished watching Barack Obama's 30 minute infomercial. It felt like an infomercial. I like Barack Obama, though I can tell if I didn't this infomercial would not sway me, but, then, infomercials never work on me. Still, it deepened the feeling I have that, if he loses, it's going to be one of the saddest days in the world.

I do think it was smart of Obama to really push the hope theme. I think it shows both a real sense of the country's current psychology and a storytelling sensibility of where the country, as an audience, wants to go next. From just about every corner of reality it seems like there's despair and the Republican platform has been essentially just to wave rancid meat in front of our faces. The Obama message seems to be, "Isn't it time we had a glass of water and maybe some carrots instead?"

When I was in line at the grocery store to-day, a girl cut in front of the guy behind me. She only had a loaf of bread and he had a full cart and most people would probably have asked her to go ahead of them in any case, but the girl didn't ask. The guy didn't say anything, and I think he was paralyzed by the fact that this girl was really cute. She may've been a stripper or a waitress at Hooter's because she was wearing tiny red shorts and a tight white shirt over breasts that weren't terrifically large, but slightly more than one would expect from a girl so short and skinny.

She stood really close to me, and I think she was trying to find a way to get ahead of me, too. But she was clearly afraid of setting her loaf down before one of those divider bars became available, fearing maybe the catastrophe of the cashier scanning both her items and mine together and a potential scoundrel like me not lifting a finger to stop it. So she's cheeky enough to cut in front of a guy, but setting her groceries down without the divider bar was an unthinkable breach of etiquette.

I had two other stores to go to afterwards, and I couldn't stop looking at pretty girls. It was like the first girl had sparked something. Then I just couldn't get over how many nice looking girls there are in the world. I remember my friend Marty, when he was my film teacher in high school, once talked to the class about how people in movies assume a certain standard of beauty that is above the standard of the average person on the street. That might be true--I don't see a lot of close-ups of passers-by. But I'll be damned if reality's female extras aren't perfectly fine in my opinion.

At Target, I saw there's a new, two disk DVD edition of Vertigo. Looks like it has the same commentary as the edition I have as well as one new commentary. I can't believe I'm actually tempted to buy it just for that one new commentary.

Anyway, Caitlin's posted links for purchasing her books to-day, and, as usual, I'm reposting them here 'cause I still love the lady.

Daughter of Hounds



Low Red Moon

Murder of Angels

Tales of Pain and Wonder

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last night I dreamt that outer space was underground. Which was eerie--it made me wonder what the fuck was in the sky.

There was some kind of haunted mansion space station I was wandering around in and I remember at one point being in a large elevator that shot out of the ground. There was a little boy with me and I remember saying, "Kid, don't look out the window or you'll get sick." I woke up then, wondering if not looking out the window might have been more likely to make him sick.

I just got back from my parents' house where my mother served squash stuffed ravioli with pumpkin sauce. I liked it, but I like anything pumpkin flavoured except pumpkin beer.

It was walking back here that I finally remembered I'd forgotten to watch the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I'll see how much I've gotten done by 5am before I decide whether I'll watch it to-night. So much to do. I still have to colour the last two pages of chapter 11 and of course I would write an especially difficult to draw script for 12. I am rather happy I've maintained an ability to write scripts without being too influenced by whether or not they'll be easy to draw.

I listened to The Daily Show while colouring last night and found Jon Stewart's interview with Campbell Brown kind of annoying. It seemed to be an encounter extending from the same half-formed irritation that sparked Stewart's outburst on Crossfire. Brown talked about how her "no bias" show is meant to cut through the prevalent false equivalency in news media, though from what I've seen of her show it is itself indulging in that false equivalency. Stewart refers to Keith Olbermann as though Olbermann is the equivalent of Bill O'Reilly, which seems to me an outgrowth of Stewart's own confused self hatred incited by right wingers he tries to give a fair shake to.

I've seen no evidence to suggest Stewart is any less left leaning than Olbermann. Neither of them do anything on the level of fact distortion and propaganda of Bill O'Reilly. That's what makes O'Reilly bad for the news media, not the fact that he's right wing. Campbell Brown is generally just sort of lukewarm. Her starmaking pwning of Tucker Bounds resulted from the simple situation of Brown behaving how interviewers ought to behave with a witless McCain surrogate and his completely empty argument. The fact that the McCain campaign was infuriated by the interview has more to do with that campaign's paranoia and stupidity than Campbell Brown's talent. So CNN saw her as someone they could market as an alternative to what has been publicised as the left/right poles of Olbermann and O'Reilly. CNN tying to be current always feels like Alan Greenspan trying to discuss teenage sex (see D.L. Hughley and Anderson Cooper).

Monday, October 27, 2008

One of the things I've been listening to while colouring has been the videos of Neil Gaiman reading his new book, The Graveyard Book, on his blog. I finished it last night and I liked it. Gaiman creates a small, but very detailed world in and around a graveyard, the details emerging naturally from the protagonist's, Bod's, interactions with the world and the people in it. The first portion of the book feels like a collection of short stories about the same character, which adds a great deal of tension to the climax, as Gaiman has introduced with the earlier vignettes simultaneously the crucial shaping of Bod's character and enhanced the verisimilitude by lingering in seemingly non-crucial but interesting details of the world.

By the end of the book, it feels as though Gaiman's considering chess moves, and the valuable pieces are those that have been given significance earlier in the book but which one wouldn't necessarily expect to take the stage as they do. I think it's built well for enjoyable multiple reads, because things like the Ghoul Gate and Liza the witch have interest as they factor into the forward movement of the story, but could also be dwelled upon for their individually nice renderings even after the reader knows how things have ended up.

It's interesting listening to an author read his book before an audience. I find my reaction to the material was modified a bit by the audience reaction, sort of like a sitcom, I suppose. Things like the recurring device of each new ghost being introduced with his or her epitaph were things I would have found interesting on paper, but the fact that the audience laughed at them made me laugh, too.

I also noticed every Neil Gaiman book I can think of since Sandman has been about someone getting caught in an unusual, supernatural event, sometimes finding in him or herself supernatural abilities, and using these and/or some cleverness, to defeat the villain. With the exception of Coraline, it's always boys or men, as far as I can recall. I don't really mind this formula, since he does it well, but I would be interested in seeing him try something completely new. At the very least, I hope he explores using female protagonists more. I love female protagonists. I love females.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

To-day I dreamt I ran into Harrison Ford at Disneyland. He was dressed as Indiana Jones and we had an awkward conversation until he mentioned his dissatisfaction with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Then we sort of bonded as we talked with increasing enthusiasm about all the film's bad points, from the lacklustre climax to the lousy, overused cgi. Then we got to talking about the father and son stuff and Ford listed off reasons it worked in the third movie but not the fourth, and I just smiled and nodded because don't think it really worked in the third movie, but I know a lot of people disagree and I sort of respect the opinion.

While colouring yesterday, I listened to RiffTrax of The Happening. No offence to those of you who maybe enjoyed that movie but . . . I was overtaken by the gale force levels of utter crappiness and immobilised by the unrelenting clueless silliness of this film. And it made for what was easily the best Rifftrax so far. Two comparisons to Monty Python from the Rifftrax crew were so fatally apt one is forced to conclude (surely against some evidence to the contrary) that "M. Night Shyamalan" takes himself so seriously as to have absolutely no reliable perspective on what he's pumping out to his audience. To be fair, this is the first movie of his I've seen since The Sixth Sense.

I've been trying to remember what Monty Python sketch it was where people started throwing themselves out windows but I could clearly see it and nothing else when the mannequins bodies started falling off the building in Happening. What's the buzz, tell me what's . . . THE HAPPENING. Mother of Zeus, what a fucking name. I envision Shyamalan walking onstage naked but for a green tutu and shouting, "I am the Spirit of the Forest come to exact irrevocable vengeance! The Time is now!" and not understanding why everyone in the audience starts laughing. The Rifftrax people didn't even comment on John Leguizamo's and Mark Wahlberg's oddly breathy line deliveries. Like Shyamalan was constantly telling them, "Not so loud, you're scaring me!" I wanted Wahlberg's character from The Departed to come in and start pistol whipping shrubs.

I was a little disappointed there were no "Don't bring your evil here" jokes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RMG posted this. It bears repeating.

I just caught a bit of D.L. Hughley's new Daily Show knockoff on CNN while eating lunch. It's about as lousy as his short lived Bill Maher knockoff show on Comedy Central was. I switched it to Graham Norton then and saw that Goldie Hawn was on. She talked about being so happy one day while stopped at a traffic light while listening to Elton John that she got out of her car and started dancing. Then the guy in the car behind her got out and started dancing with her. I don't think I like Goldie Hawn.

Michael Powell's movie Peeping Tom was on TCM, and I haven't seen it in years, but I had too much to do. I only just to-day finally finished the script for chapter 12. It was difficult. I may've been overthinking it. The solution I came up with for what seemed to me a very complicated problem turned out to be very simple. I'll do rough sketches later to-night then draw the first page to-morrow. Maybe the first two pages. Except I've only got two pages of chapter 11 coloured, so I suppose I oughta allocate more time for that.

Nothing much else to report. I watched Hayate no Gotoku and Excel Saga with breakfast. I wanted to revisit Excel Saga because I heard Nabeshin, the director and one of the main characters of Excel Saga and Puni Puni Poemi, makes an appearance in episode 32 of Hayate no Gotoku. I am proceeding towards enlightenment.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Remember what I said about zealots pushing the delusional answers to equations that rational people would have different answers for? To-day I read about a good example, the story of a young white woman, a McCain supporter, who claimed to have been attacked by a large black man when he saw her McCain/Palin bumper sticker and claimed that the man then carved a "B" in her cheek. Turns out the young woman was lying and that she carved the B into her own cheek. It's like To Kill a Mockingbird on the scale of national politics. I'm sure if Ms. Todd had been able to convincingly fake evidence of a sexual assault, she'd have done what Sarah Palin has told her is the patriotic duty of rape victims and purchased her own rape kit.

I sure hope this gives Obama a three billion point lead.

While eating dinner this morning I watched the first episode of True Blood, a live action American shojo series. It's not so bad--it's filmed prettily enough, Anna Paquin's decent. It's fairly predictable, but with the glass of shiraz I had last night, it was kind of sweet.

Giving a backhanded compliment? Me?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I watched the final episode of Top wo Nerae 2 this morning, and it was mostly disappointing, as always. The second Gunbuster series really peaks at the fourth episode, though five's not so bad. The problem with the final episode is its failure to interestingly convey the scope of what's happening--the idea of using Earth as a projectile weapon might be impossible to really show, but so's most of the really amazing things in both Top wo Nerae series. The great thing is when they make it work dramatically, even if we sense it's not quite accurately. One of the highlights of the second Top wo Nerae is its astonishing sound design, which I'd not have sacrificed for the realism of soundless space.

But the final episode of Top wo Nerae 2 isn't without its good points, the best of which being its augmentation of one of the first series' most interestingly employed plot devices, the idea of time loss for those travelling at faster than light speeds. Top wo Nerae 2 actually ends at exactly the same moment as Top wo Nerae 1, despite the fact that the sequel takes place more than a thousand years in the future. We see the escape pods of the first series' protagonists, but the show ends before actually bringing the characters on screen, which helps to underline the strangeness of these people who've come across such a vast ocean of time. The fact that the general style of character designs is vastly different in the 2004 series from the 1988 series also helps underscore the eeriness of the anachronism; what could these character look like when they emerge from the escape pods? We never find out.

I think Top wo Nerae's final episode succeeded where its sequel's finale failed. Where Top wo Nerae 2 failed to impress me with its Earth attached to a ring of jet engines, the original Top wo Nerae's massive egg shaped black hole bomb carrying the remains of Jupiter in its core towards the centre of the galaxy does inspire a feeling of awe.

There are a few different things, I think, that contribute to this success, but I'd say that primarily its director Hideaki Anno's decision to have the episode coloured in black and white. Some segments are reduced even further to rough pencil drawings and I think the impression this creates overall is of visions that strain the capacity of human perception. The big egg bomb, particularly, contrasted with the white nebulae has something of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. And the more washed out black and white of the earlier sequences on Earth help establish the vast amount of time that's passed for Amano while only months have past for Noriko as she fights the space monsters.

By the time one reaches the sixth and final episode of the series, it's difficult to believe it began as a parody of Top Gun and Ace wo Nerae (Aim for the Ace), a Japanese girls' series about a young woman's training to become a tennis star and her relationship with her aloof coach. On the face of it, the idea of combining the two in a single parody sounds like a rich foundation for comedy; the unselfconsciously silly, serious as a heart attack focus on learning tennis in Ace wo Nerae combined with piloting machines of war and Maverick's issues with his deceased father have the right elements of wrong and absurd to make good comedy. The image of the fighting robots in the first episode running laps around a high school like the tennis players of Ace wo Nerae is funny in itself. But for a mere parody, why spend so much time carefully designing the ships and machines and why take pains to add an air of realism to the series physics? No modern anime series works as hard on the details as the Gainax series of the 80s, Top wo Nerae being no exception.

Gainax was still a very new studio in 1988--just a couple years earlier, the studio had been six guys making what was essentially fan art, and everything they produced had the marks of passion and dedication, even if not everyone was a hundred percent sure what they were doing. So why all the details for a parody? Because someone wanted to work out all those details. The same reason the series stopped being a parody at some point and became its own thing. Probably it was Hideaki Anno gaining a director's perspective of the disparate elements and realising that the uniting factor was a love for the characters as well as a love for making anime.

It makes me wonder when Anno's going to try making something new again. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to the next Rebuild of Evangelion movie, but Anno can be such an interesting and surprising director with new material. Both Top wo Nerae and Neon Genesis Evangelion are series that essentially went off their initially proscribed rails and could easily have been disasters, but Anno successfully wielded the chaos.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I need some coffee and dental floss. These are my mission parameters for when I leave the house again in a moment. I just returned from my parents' house where I watched some Sherlock Holmes with my sister while I installed a bunch of antivirus things on her computer.

I'm not as under the gun to-day as I have been. To-night I need to pencil and ink the last page of Chapter 11, then to-morrow I'll write the script for Chapter 12, do the rough drawings on Friday, and draw the first page on Saturday. I'll be one day behind schedule, which is a vast improvement. I could catch up, too, if there're any really simple pages in 12. I bet there won't be, though. Meanwhile, I'll need to finish colouring 11. But I'm reaching a production groove I feel good with. I mean, I always got everything done by deadline before, but never as soon as I liked. I think at this rate I might be moving into a slightly more responsible schedule.

I still can't believe Chapter 11's going to be online before election day. Egad, why can't it be sooner? This is far too much time for McCain to make up some preposterous thing that'll schnooker the undecideds.

When I got in a few minutes ago, Snow the Cat was waiting for me on the porch. I love cats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I watched the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles while eating breakfast to-day. I was so happy to find it wasn't as tremendously awful as the previous episode, of which I can't remember many details, which is probably for the best--

Wait. Flashes are coming of Sarah with a kid, John and the beefy guy from 90210 doing military things, and Cameron awkwardly inserted in a pickup close-up when people obviously panicked about her not having been onscreen for a while. It's true, the episode would've been better off focusing on her, but it was a silly moment in a silly episode.

Anyway, the new episode was decent. It felt oddly like a stereotypical "woman's episode". From all the emphasis on childcare, the new Terminator sent from the future being an attractive woman for no apparent reason, beefy 90210's girlfriend showing up from the future so he can be seduced by her despite being upset she's apparently a deserter, and even the T-1000 was trying to be more nurturing to the little girl she's keeping. I actually found it all more charming than anything, and at least nothing happened that didn't make any sense. Well, except for the new T-888. Why even make big terminators if the little ones are just as strong? We've already been told Cameron was made for infiltration.

I got a lot done last night. To-day I plan to get even more done, so I'll get back to it. I'm hoping I'll have time to clean my room, too.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don't believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, I believe that one should become a person like other people."

The new Amanda Palmer album is reminding me of Taxi Driver, I meant to mention. They both seem largely concerned with a character's dissatisfaction with the world, a dissatisfaction that is at times irrational due to the person's self-imposed remoteness from society. Both pieces also deal with feelings of ineffectuality and loneliness. "Loneliness has followed me my whole life," Travis says at one point. I'm always reminded then of how little this mindset has to do with the actual circumstances of the character's life and how much it has to do with his own mind.

Already I'm much further ahead to-day than I was yesterday at this time, having managed to wake up at the bright and early hour of 2pm. For some reason, dialogue for Kakeshya keeps coming to me in Japanese.

Last night I worked pretty much non-stop until 1:30am when I decided I needed some excitement, so I went to the grocery store and bought some tea. On the way, a rabbit ran across the road in front of me and I barely stopped in time. It actually seemed to arc slightly towards my car. I've seen rabbits do this lots of times--as though my approaching vehicle is a sign they'll soon be denied access to the wonderful opposite side of the street.

After buying tea, I went to Denny's where I saw a bunch of cops run out into their cars and speed away.

I watch about an hour of anime while I eat breakfast every day, and lately I've been watching one episode of Hayate no Gotoku! and one episode of Top o Nerae. Hayate no Gotoku! continues to be good, especially the tenth episode written by the author of the manga exclusively for the television series. It involved a few of the periphery characters getting caught in a RPG video game and having to negotiate certain logical fallacies and cliches of the particular video game genre, including characters who die without actually being killed (a coffin appears around one character in which she hops about for the rest of the episode), drawing "aggro", and a ridiculously busty villainess who's forced to say "tima" at the end of every sentence--a parody of a certain kind of cuteness imposed on characters in anime and Japanese video games.

Well, I'll get back to the drawing now . . .

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I woke up at 4pm to-day. This after I'd determined to get up a little earlier. I accidentally stayed up watching Stripes. When Bill Murray's girlfriend dumps him at the beginning of the movie, the reasons she gives to him are;

"Nothing's changed . . . You sleep until noon and then you watch Rocky and Bullwinkle. And then you drive your car, what, a couple hours? You come home and you order out food and then you play those stupid Tito Puente albums until two in the morning! . . . And then you watch movies until dawn and then--then you come to bed with me . . . You're going nowhere, John. It's just not that cute anymore."

And I thought, gods, that's probably pretty close to how my life would look in 1981. Replace Rocky and Bullwinkle with anime, Tito Puente with Charlie Parker, the girlfriend with an empty bed, and the only thing really lacking is Internet, my comic, and my blog. I have to wonder what Murray's character was doing while he listened to the Tito Puente albums.

I spent an obscenely long time at Tim's house playing Soul Calibur 4 yesterday before coming back here at midnight and colouring until 4:30am. Then I watched Stripes while eating dinner. I'd better get some drawing done now . . .

Saturday, October 18, 2008

There's a rather astonishing video on Huffington Post of Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann equating liberalism with anti-Americanism and calling for an investigation of which members of congress are anti-American.

It's curious what she asks for is a media investigation instead of a congressional or independent council investigation. If members of congress are traitors, doesn't that require something a little more serious than an "expose"? Similarly, the robocalls from the RNC mentioned in the clip that accuse Obama and Democrats of being linked to terrorists concludes he therefore lacks the judgement to lead the country. I guess it's sort of like saying Adolph Hitler should not be in charge of the FDA.

I'm not sure the people levelling these claims realise how ridiculous they are. I think they figure telling people how bad they think Obama actually is won't make enough of an impression, so they finish the equation for us, giving us the result of where they think liberal philosophies will take us. They continually try to establish a significant tie between Obama and Bill Ayers, a former member of a terrorist group called Weatherman, suggesting Obama's in the habit of "palling around" with Ayers and that Ayers is unrepentant.

Yet, Ayers has not attempted terrorist activities since Weatherman was active in the late 60s and early 70s. I looked at Bill Ayers' blog to-day, and I was struck most by how unremarkable his political views seem to be. Not an unlikely character to serve on the board of an anti-poverty group. The rightwing line is that Ayers is unrepentant, but unrepentant about what, exactly?

We were very careful from the moment of the townhouse on to be sure we weren't going to hurt anybody, and we never did hurt anybody. Whenever we put a bomb in a public space, we had figured out all kinds of ways to put checks and balances on the thing and also to get people away from it, and we were remarkably successful. - Bill Ayers

The townhouse incident he refers to was The Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, where three members of Weather Underground were killed when a bomb went off prematurely. Apparently they were planning on taking human lives, but the actions of the group after the incident clearly indicates they later decided against this tactic. Ayers insists he's not a terrorist, and decries al-Qaeda's attacks on 9/11, but if one defines terrorism as actions designed to inspire terror to produce desired effects, I think even the Weatherman bombs that did not take life could be seen as acts of terrorism.

But Ayers refers to the United States' actions in Vietam as terrorism, which, considering they were designed to scare the world away from Communism, they in part were.

So when Michelle Bachmann is talking about Obama's anti-Americanism, and Ayers' unrepentance, it seems more likely that, fundamentally, she's referring to Obama's position on the Iraq war and the Bush Doctrine. How different is Bachmann, Palin, McCain, and most of the Republican Party from the Weather Underground? The Weather Underground's professed motives were to stop the war in Vietnam, and members talked of being enraged by the deaths of thousands people in Vietnam. If they'd been thinking rationally, they'd have seen their actions would not have ended the Vietnam War and in fact would likely intensify the vehemence of their opponents. But it's understandable why someone would feel angry and helpless while thousands are being murdered, and wanting to take some kind of drastic action to stop it. Sometimes, I think, fear of the dark parts of ourselves gets confused with the fear of What Has to Be Done.

To-day's Republican Party is afraid of losing power, of anti-war philosophy being legitimised by a popular vote. They're afraid of "aliens" because they see cultural and biological differences as inevitable threats to safety. This is why conservatives are such big proponents of "states rights"--they don't want Massachusetts' liberal civil rights infecting other parts of the country. They know these views will not be accepted, so they present only what they see as the logical answer to the equation--destruction. In the process solidifying their own delusions.

I'm a liberal, and I have a lot of liberal friends, and when I hear one of them talk about how they hate America, I know they're talking about prevalent fears and policies in America aimed against innocent people. But unfortunately, simply saying things like "I hate America" tends to make the Michelle Bachmann's sound a little less crazy to the otherwise uninformed. This adds fuel to the truly scary people showing up at McCain rallies. In the absence of a better educational system and promotion of it in this country, we have to be very careful these days of running afoul of the stoked delusions of others.

Of course, for a better educational system, we'd need what the right wing refers to as a "big government" . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

I see Venia's Travels has had its first loss of a fan over at its listing. I'm immensely proud of this.

Abide ye, meek of heart, in your imitation generic manga styled online paper Denny's menus of disproportionate nervous pretty girls and expressionless and aloof pretty guys (or vice versa). The story of Venia will indeed freeze and pulverise as by liquid nitrogen the tart little T-1000 jelly you call a heart. In short, it is with great pleasure I say; a fuck you! Just because I categorised it as "mature" doesn't mean you're going to be able to masturbate to it.

I feel so diplomatic to-day. I can't believe it's already 6pm--I'm still eating my oatmeal. That's what I get for doing all these all-nighters. Assuming nothing catastrophic happens for a week, things oughta be back to normal by Wednesday. To-night, I'll definitely do something fun, whether it's just to go to Tim's house or see W. All work and no play makes Setsuled a dull boy all work and no play makes Setsuled a dull boy all work and no play makes Setsuled a dull boy.

My DVD-ROM's been driving me bonkers, too. I can't seem to adjust the brightness and contrast . . .

Anyway, again, there's a new Venia's Travels. No, it's not pleasant, but, as Frank Sinatra would say, that's life.
Chapter 10 of Venia's Travels is now online. Have fun counting the many layers of wrong in this chapter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My sister, Chelsea, among other models, on the local news modelling student-made bras for an art institute's breast cancer awareness programme;

I kept thinking of the strapless bra from Vertigo--all of them look as improbable. Why can't bras fulfil the function of every other object or tool known to humankind? But Chelsea did a good job, I think.

I worked on my comic all night last night, listening to Mystery Science Theatre 3000. I didn't have time for much else. I ate brie on sourdough toast while drinking wine as I coloured. It was the first time I'd had merlot, that I know of, and I don't think I like it as much as pinot noir, shiraz, or cabernet sauvignon. It's still better than white wine, though.

I listened to the commentary for Sleeping Beauty. Apparently a whole lot of work went into that movie--there are twenty four drawings per second and Walt wanted the movie solid and clean. It took an entire day to clean up one frame, meaning the clean up people took twenty four days to clean up a second of footage.

The lush and stylised backgrounds I so admired were designed by a guy named Eyvind Earle. He retired after Sleeping Beauty and spent most of his time painting Californian landscapes, but a Google image search with his name shows all his work continued to have the same fascinating blend of sort of art nouveau and two dimensional medieval artwork.

Nothing much else of interest for me to say to-day. I'll get back to drawing . . .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I think John McCain actually scored some points with the Joe Plumber thing early in the debate. Up until now, McCain's harping on Obama's taxation of rich business owners hasn't gained traction because McCain wasn't able to make the theoretical rich people sound like poor people or, more to the point, highlight the potential for these business owners needing to lay off employees because of those taxes. Which takes the debate to the fundamental difference between left and right (these days)--to put money in government to help the people, or to leave money with the people to help the people. On the face of it, the latter path might seem more reasonable, and it's why so many people have overlooked Ron Paul's racism to get on the Libertarian boat. But Obama regained ground when McCain mentioned government programmes to assist people with special needs. This made McCain's "spending freeze" look truly foolish, and made McCain look, again, inconsistent and incoherent. This tangible example added fuel to the fire on Obama's side with regards to the economic crisis. I think people understand the necessity of taxes now, and I think Obama's proposed plan of only increasing the taxes of the rich sounds pretty good to middle-of-the-roaders. It's only people whose eyes have fully glazed over who're still in with the right-wing Libertarian trend.

Overall, again, Obama was more consistently able to respond to questions with answers that made any kind of sense, while McCain trailed off into truth challenged stump speeches, though slightly more aggressively this time. McCain's a man treading water with all his strength. What good does it do to accuse Obama of fining Joe Plumber or of having an intimate relationship with Bill Ayers when Obama can time and again say, "It's simply not true" and McCain has no evidence to back up his claims? It just makes him seem punch drunk.

The only mistake Obama made, I think, was referring to Fox News and The Chicago Tribune as right-leaning. It's true, they are both right-leaning, but faithful viewers and readers of both don't like to see them that way. Obama risks alienating them for no real gain.

I'd better get back to drawing. Chapter 11's been really complicated so far.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I walked right into a Best Buy to-day and bought a copy of Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I remember having to walk miles uphill for a Dresden Dolls album, now I can find an Amanda Palmer solo album in a big electronics store. Do the kids these days appreciate it? I tell you they don't.

I've already listened to the album while drawing to-day and I really love it. Particularly "Blake Says" and "Guitar Hero" in which Palmer mines many of the same elements of modern culture which I suspect Daniel Clowes could use to write a great sequel to Ghost World*. I've already detected one reference to The Velvet Underground, and of course I love the title's invocation of Twin Peaks, but mostly Palmer's lyrics remind me of Morrissey. I don't think there's another lyricist who so perfectly captures the layers of ego power plays and Caliban's mirror troubles while at the same time managing to be heartbroken.

While colouring a couple days ago, I listened to a 1937 American radio production of The 39 Steps, an Alfred Hitchcock movie made in England and Scotland two years earlier. The radio production stars Robert Montgomery and Ida Lupino and was hosted by Cecil B. DeMille. During an intermission, DeMille conducts an interview with a man who was actually a spy for the United States during World War I. Astonishingly, not only did it sound as though the man was reading from a script, it sounded, with its many biblical references, as though the script was likely written by DeMille himself.

Ugh, there's a fly in this room. I'm going to go out to lunch . . .

*When I typed the word "Ghost" first, it automatically disappeared. I must have hit something but I don't know what . . .

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm stupid. Maleficent laid the trap to catch the guy her raven overheard Aurora saying would meet her at the cottage that night. For some reason I didn't connect this with Maleficent's need to prevent true love's kiss from reaching sleeping Aurora. Maybe I didn't think of it because I didn't compute the guy Aurora had met once as being her true love. I didn't have a problem with it when I was a kid--he was the only handsome guy in the world and she was the only beautiful girl in the world. Of course they're meant for each other. This adds to my sympathy for Maleficent, whose idea of letting Philip go when he's an old man seems a delightfully wicked strategy for sabotaging a very superficial system.

Of course, Maleficent doesn't have to worry about King Stefan's army laying siege to her castle since the good fairies put them all to sleep. That's a real what the fuck moment.

I was thinking to-day about the noir comic I abandoned early in the year. It was necessary after I'd been working on it a couple weeks because I'd completely lost touch with the original motive behind its creation, and I knew from the beginning it was a danger. I'd done something with it I normally don't allow myself to do with any of my writing--I chose to use it as an outlet for my feeling about and towards specific people and rationalisations I'd constructed based on those feelings. I doubt I could explain it sufficiently, but I believe that when creating characters they all ought to be aspects of yourself. I think one can draw inspiration from the actions of others, but only after you've put yourself in the other person's shoes and you're satisfied you can imagine behaving in exactly the same way yourself. The moment you think of someone else as unlike you on a quite fundamental level, you can't possibly know them.

I'm not saying people can't be different from one another on fundamental levels. But I think it's impossible to write characters you can't empathise with. You can continue writing characters based on erroneous apprehensions of the persons who inspired them so long as you recognise that your original inferences are inevitably reflections of your own personality. It's dangerous for characters to be irrevocably tied to hot feelings about someone else for this reason. Sooner or later, characters have to function independently of anyone who inspired them, aside from the writer him or herself.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Look at how wide Sleeping Beauty is;

That's from the new DVD that came out last week. It's no wonder it's never been released in widescreen before--I can't imagine the average white trash putting up with the massive black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. I was watching on a widescreen television, but even then the bars were big. So the Sleeping Beauty most of us are used to is really only a third of the movie at best.

It'd been a very long time since I'd watched any version--it was practically like seeing a new movie. Maybe I'd have been better off not knowing how poorly written it is. There are a hundred problems with the plot--why do the good fairies bring Aurora back to the castle on her sixteenth birthday? Why does Maleficent lay a trap at the cottage after she's gotten the princess? And why, oh, why does the movie have to spend so much damn time with the three good fairies?

I actually have answers to all these questions. Speculation, anyway. It's useful not to look at Maleficent so much as a character as a device of misfortune for the heroes. She does things not for her personal goals but Because They Would Be Bad But Not Too Bad. Though, on the other hand, proceeding from that I suppose one might view Maleficent, since she is a fairy, as anthropomorphised fear. That's how she worked on me when I was a kid. Though maybe I'm just excusing sloppy writing--things can be both well written and effective on children, after all.

The reason, I think, the movie focuses on the three good fairies as de facto protagonists is because Disney wisely knew that children are only interested in characters that are either flawless or comically ridiculous. The good fairies are both, and in this way represent idyllic mother figures. Sure, Flora and Merryweather have their childish squabbles, but at the end of the day Flora's unstoppable. The one, precious scene of character development for Aurora is the "Once Upon a Dream" sequence. After she falls under the spell of Maleficent, I don't think she has a single line of dialogue for the rest of the movie. Prince Philip is similarly hampered--even during his battle with Maleficent, it's Flora who has to make sure the sword does its job with a little rhyme. Philip may as well be a golem.

Yet, the film is truly gorgeous. Most of the best sequences are filled with lush backgrounds, making the widescreen release a very good thing indeed;

The animation is amazingly fluid and filled with character, particularly when it comes to the film's most interesting character, Maleficent. The only place where I'd say this film falls down visually is in character colouring. Skin and hair tend to drastically change colour between cuts, and there seems to've been a 1950s fear of paleness at work with Aurora's ham-pink flesh.

The music, adapted from Tchaikovsky's ballet, is fine, and combined with the visuals, makes this a nice movie to behold. And makes the writing even more of a shame.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is it possible to become chemically addicted to apples? For weeks now, I've been eating one apple a day and a few days ago, after I'd run out, I got a sharp headache that wouldn't abate until I'd gone to the grocery store, purchased and devoured an apple.

Last night I was in the mood to watch something with Deborah Kerr so I watched Black Narcissus. Every time I see that movie, the world in Pinewood Studios' faux Himalayas seems more rich. It's sort of perfect that the environment is artificially created. As Mr. Dean says, it's a land where everything seems "exaggerated". Brilliant Technicolor photography by Jack Cardiff, beautiful red and blue flowers filling the screen take on a sinister quality as it underscores the tide of organic sensuality overwhelming the comparatively feeble dedication of the nuns.

Sister Ruth's madness is the ultimate expression of this--and Kathleen Byron's is truly the film's most interesting performance--but the horror of Ruth stalking Clodagh at the end of the film is sharpened by the sense that Clodagh and the other nuns are themselves drowning in the same pool.

Friday, October 10, 2008

So I'm completely done drawing and inking Chapter 10. Not a moment too soon. I still have a lot of colouring to do, but I see no reason I won't be able to start drawing Chapter 11 on Sunday. Thank the gods I decided not to put my update days immediately after the normal completion days. I'd say that is the number 1 reason this comic looks a thousand times better than Boschen and Nesuko. I was looking at page 119 of Boschen and Nesuko the other day for the perspective shot of Olveib city that I remember completely fucking up but having no time to fix. It looks even worse to me now. But the last two pages of that chapter, Chapter 15, and the following chapter were of course plagued at the time by painters for the house coming early in the morning. Since I had to draw, ink, and colour a page per day, I had no choice but to muscle through my fatigue.

While inking last night, I listened to Neil Gaiman read chapter 1 of his The Graveyard Book--I'd known about video of him reading from it being available at for some time, but it was only yesterday it occurred to me what a perfect thing it was to listen to while inking and colouring. I've only listened to Chapter 1, but so far it's pretty good.

The cutest thing I saw yesterday, though, was Keith Olbermann thoroughly flustered by Sarah Silverman. You can see she knows she has him in the palm of her hand, too, but seems to kind of adore him. I'd say I'd like to see the two of them together--he'd be an enormous step up from Jimmy Kimmel--but I don't think Olbermann would ever stop feeling awed by how comfortable Silverman is with herself.

I got choked up this morning watching Nono slice a planet in half in episode 4 of Top o Nerae 2. I don't really know why. That show always makes me feel like I have hormonal problems.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I spent all night working on my comic, mainly because of one particularly difficult panel I had to keep fixing. By the time I was done, I had time for nothing else but to eat, during which I watched The Colbert Report online.

I find it kind of interesting hardly anyone online is talking about the last presidential debate--not nearly as many as talked about the vice presidential debate. I suppose it's because Sarah Palin, whether you love her or hate her, is pretty much a circus freak.

Well, I suppose John McCain is kind of a mole man. I don't know who in his or her right mind would call him the winner of the last debate. Once again, Obama managed to match all of McCain's broad, empty statements with facts. And I loved when McCain walked again into the trap about responsible rhetoric when discussing foreign nations. He's twice given Obama not only the opportunity but practically the obligation to bring up McCain's embarrassing "Bomb, Bomb, Iran" song.

After dinner, I went to bed for a few minutes, then got up to use the bathroom and noticed the motion sensor light on in the backyard. Pulling back the blinds, I saw Snow the Cat crouched on the porch staring intently at the door. How could I resist? I hadn't seen him in ages, so I went outside and played with him a while. Though, of course, this plus the maids being here to-day (Thursday) meant I got very little sleep, but I don't mind. I'll forgive anything a cat's responsible for.

The maids don't clean my room anymore, but they're still very noisy, making sleep for me just about impossible. And with my comic as it is, I haven't had time to clean the room myself lately. But I'm thinking I might risk dusting to-night. Maybe then I won't sneeze so much.

The next chapter of Venia's Travels is finally going to introduce the gorgon, Kakeshya, by the way. Here's the outfit I designed for her;

I was trying to go for something that looked both Celtic and Greek. Which I think somehow makes sense with Kakeshya's background. If you'd like to learn more about her, you can start with part 2, section 7, of the history of Niveriku.
I just woke up, and look what I've already done with my day;

2429, by the way, is "a gay".

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Exceptionally low on time to-day. But I've been productive so far. After a little drawing, I went to Denny's for lunch where I started working on the script for Chapter 11. Then, because I'd decided to go to a distant Denny's, I got lost on the way back and ended up at The Living Room where I worked on Chapter 11 even more. I'm really pleased with the script so far.

Being at The Living Room always reminds me of hanging out with Trisa. Gods, I miss having her around.

I'm still not done with Chapter 10, of course, but to-day's the day I'd normally finish a script, so hopefully by skipping my days off and Second Life lately I'll be all caught up by Monday. I'm pretty sure I will be. I have the last one and a half pages of Chapter 10 to draw, and I've only coloured one and a half. But if I set aside Friday and Saturday entirely for colouring, then I'll only be two pages behind on Chapter 11.

This morning I somehow felt like watching the third episode of Top o Nerae 2 while eating breakfast. It's turning out to be my favourite episode--it's the only one that focuses on a character besides Nono and Larc--or "Lal'C" as apparently Wikipedia makes her name to be. My copies of the series are still the initial fansubs from before anyone knew what English sounds the Japanese writers were aiming at. The third episode is about a character named Chika in the fansub, Tycho according to Wikipedia. I love her lavender hair and black and white stripey socks, and her character's story about finding meaning in being a Buster machine pilot despite it not actually changing the things in her life she thinks it ought to has always seemed very compelling to me. And the imagery of the stars turning into snowflakes is great, too. She sort of reminds me of Asuka from Evangelion, but with a much happier fate, of course.

I borrowed a bunch of my childhood scrapbook from my mother a couple days ago and I went through it last night, recalling how obsessed I used to be with Donald Duck and Roger Rabbit, and recalling how bad my grades always were. Apparently I drew this when I was three;

I guess it's a dinosaur of some kind. Looks like he's been chewing coal.

I bought some pumpkin ale last night out of curiosity more than anything else. What a letdown. It just tastes like beer. I hate beer.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

While colouring last night, I listened to commentary on The Nightmare Before Christmas featuring Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, and Henry Selick. The Tim Burton bits sound like they were transplanted from an interview, and the Elfman and Selick bits were far more interesting.

Danny Elfman, while Jack's trying to figure out Christmas in his tower: "'Jack's Obsession' and 'What Have I Done?' were always going to be the sister songs, the companion songs, in the sense that each one starts low and he works himself up to a frenzy. So, the fun of those two songs is that in each of these songs, he works himself up--in the singing of the song, he's going to work himself up into a complete clarity, or at least what he thinks is clarity, and, uh, go from, in 'Jack's Obsession', just a state of kind of down, kind of, uh, how do you explain the way Tim explained it to me--he's, he's not eating, he's down, he's like, he's just depressed over this thing, he can't figure it out, he really wants to and until he does it's gonna drive him crazy. And he finds it in the song. And he works himself up into a complete frenzy of enthusiasm. And, of course, in uh, 'What Have I Done?' he starts with 'my life is over'. He's starting from a state of real depression. 'My life is over, I've ruined everything.' And in the context of singing that song convinces himself, 'No, I haven't! And it's all great! And I'm gonna fix it! And it's fantastic!' So both of them have that element of starting low, and he's gonna completely convince himself, which is the thing I love about Jack, is, nobody convinces him of anything, he convinces himself in his own storytelling. And works himself up into these frenzies of clarity and enthusiasm and, uh, get up and go."

And while Jack's in the graveyard after his sleigh's been shot down: "So here, Jack has one song's length of time to work himself from the depths of despair to the heights of enthusiasm because Jack is the ultimate manic in that way."

Henry Selick, during the "Jack's Obsession" scene: "I love how he rallies himself. Um, I think there's a lot of Danny Elfman in that particular song. He just, by himself, with his own ego, and his ability to sort of, just, like, just turn things around. Pride--whatever it was. I just, I love that. No one else has to tell him. He--he's his own worst enemy and his own best friend at the same time."

Monday, October 06, 2008

You suck, Windows Media Player. You suck, you suck, you suck.

I felt like that needed an audience.

I'm really tired. I got six hours of sleep, and I know They would lecture me that's enough for me to run through my day with the speed and vigour of a centaur, but no. It's not enough for me. I . . . I hate it. I get these moments where I decide I'm going to do something and then I spend about two minutes writing that decision in my brain somewhere so another part of my brain can execute it.

It's like if Captain Picard had to go to his navigator's quarters every time he wanted to lay in a new course. That would be LaForge, Wesley Crusher, Ensign Ro, and that woman who was later on the short lived space marines show the name of which I can't remember. I can't remember her name on Star Trek: The Next Generation, either. What has become of this poor Trekker? Oh, space gods, answer me!

Oh, so why didn't I get enough sleep? Well, I had an appointment to get my car painted, because the paint on my four year old car has been vanishing mysteriously. But when I got to the dealership, an Australian man told me the paint job wasn't covered by warranty. So I'll shop around for a cheaper place . . . next week or something. I don't care about paint, I really don't. Life's too short. I have too much to do. I know the paint's supposed to protect the car somehow or other, which is the only reason I'm getting it done at all.

Where's the, um . . . oh.

And Windows Media Player sucks, too. I use the goodies from the Combined Community Codec Pack mostly, but now and then regular modern Windows Media Player is called for, like when I was trying to watch my "digital copy" of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which required an activation code and a sign up for some Windows Copyright Protection somesuch. There's a new anti-piracy ad at the beginning of the DVD, too, I'm guessing made as a rebuttal to "Weird Al" Yankovic's brilliant "Don't Download This Song" as it shows clips of Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz confronting Oz for the first time calling herself "meek" and so forth. The implied message being, apparently, "Yes, we are as absurdly greedy as the parodies make us out to be."

Anyway, I'd better go salvage what I can from to-day.

Werner Herzog is the fucking shiznit, man;

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I just got back from the grocery store where I saw Calista Flockhart on the cover of a magazine. I wondered where she's been all these years, but I just checked Wikipedia and saw she's appeared in several shows which no-one with anything remotely fulfilling in their lives should watch.

I suppose I shouldn't talk, since over the past three days I've watched the first two episodes of Gokusen.

Manga has very starkly defined demographics; shonen for boy, shojo for girls, seinen for young men. I'd never seen or read any examples of josei, manga and anime for young women, which led me to the live action drama series version of a manga called Gokusen.

One thing I noticed immediately was how similar it was to typical shonen and seinen series. Only, where shonen and seinen might feature one shy young man with a mysterious power/past surrounded by beautiful girls, Gokusen features one shy young woman with a mysterious power/past surrounded by beautiful boys. It's ridiculously transparent. But I don't necessarily hold it against the show.

Another thing I noticed was that, for live action, it was remarkably cartoonish. I thought of Ally McBeal and Amelie, except the line between the protagonist's imagination and reality is only occasionally enforced. Like many anime series, Yankumi (the protagonist) has a tendency to wildly exclaim or cry at moments when it would be most embarrassing for her to do so.

The plot involves Yankumi's budding career as a teacher at an all boys high school while trying to keep secret the fact that she's heiress to a powerful yakuza clan, a position that somehow grants her super strength as both episodes bizarrely end in fight sequences, followed by the show's nails-on-a-chalkboard theme song; "Feel Your Breeze".

The show's loaded with perpetual goofiness, yet supposedly it's a drama. The structure of the stories is such that it seems as though a moral is coming, but the moral always seems to be things like, "Don't snitch on your friends","Fights are okay, but bullying is not", and "Be delinquents with honour and pride."

And behind it all is this persistent message of "There is nothing more good and noble than the way of the yakuza." It's not so much a romanticising of yakuza as it's a casual enforcement of the idea that yakuza are among the most morally superior people in the world. It's really quite strange--I wonder even if the show's secretly backed by a yakuza clan.

Otherwise, the show reminds me a lot of Strangers with Candy except that it's really earnest. Too earnest, really. It is . . . discomforting. Well, you can judge for yourself;

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I've just returned from lunch at my mother's house where she, my sister, and I watched Without a Clue. Or at least, I watched it and my mother left the room halfway through and my sister fell asleep two thirds through. I can't blame either of them. It's only a weird sense of cinema enthusiast's honour that kept me watching, I think. And I needed something to do while I finished my glass of wine. I had a glass of white wine followed by two glasses of red wine while I was there--I fundamentally don't understand the appeal of white wine. It tastes like liquid taffy.

Anyway, Without a Clue was my mother's idea, as she remembered liking it when she saw it in the 80s. I seemed to remember enjoying it when I was a kid, though I hadn't seen it since before I'd read all the stories. And it's surely a bad sign when the source material contains more laughs than the spoof. I do like Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley, and I did think Jeffrey Jones as Lestrade was an inspired bit of casting. But otherwise, it was a premise dead on the table.

Wow. I just checked the Wikipedia entry for Sherlock Holmes; Sherlock Holmes is a famous detective of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who was born in 1887. He is the son of Scottish-born author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based consulting detective, Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of "deductive reasoning" while using abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation) and astute observation to solve difficult cases.

It is with profound pleasure that I witness Wikipedia confirming the veracity of Mr. Holmes' existence and exploits. I knew it all along.

Last night, after I'd finished drawing, I took a journey into the world of anime to try to find a new series to fill the void left by Code Geass. First I tried a series for its name alone, Pumpkin Scissors, which turned out to be a decent alternate reality World War II story, set apparently in Western Europe with alternate factions and alternate technology, kind of a mix of medieval and early twentieth century. It's not bad, featuring a very serious big badass guy with an eerie blue Aldis lamp and a cute female commander in an orange coat.

Next I tried a series called Strike Witches, which Tim tells me is very popular. It's also a World War II series, the twist here being that aliens are at war with earth, uniting all of the world's nations against them. But the only way to combat their War of the Worlds-ish vessels is with teenage girl witches who wear what appear to be fighter plane turbines fixed to their legs like boots. These witches, and all other female characters in the series, for some reason never wear pants or skirts. Somehow this is another feature of this alternate reality--bottom halves of clothes seem not to have been invented for women, who all wear roughly period accurate blouses, shirts, and jackets on top but . . . no pants. Just panties that look to've been imported from 1987. The first scene is an aerial battle featuring several of the witches and many, many gratuitous panty shots. The term "camel toe" does not quite convey the gratuitousness of these shots.

I must say, many details of the premise undermine the integrity of the suspense.

Lastly, I discovered Hayate no Gotoku!--the series from whence comes the clip I posted last night. I'm currently downloading the entire series. I think I've found a keeper.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Very little to say to-day. Again, there's new Venia's Travels. To-day I think I'll draw and then voyage out into the world.

I don't think I mentioned watching the final episode of Code Geass, did I? It didn't make any sense. It was like the end of V for Vendetta hastily grafted onto the end of Hamlet. That actually doesn't sound so bad, does it? And really, I suppose it wasn't. Well, except I could've done without Lelouche's sister in inexplicable bondage gear and the convenience of his memories suddenly injected into her brain. Also the stupid parade floats and the "Zero Requiem" and . . . Well, at least CC was in it and still rocked.

I watched The Nightmare before Christmas last night for the first time since its original theatrical run. It's amazing how much bigger that movie's gotten than itself. And it's kind of weird viewing it through the prism of modern politics. Is Jack Skellington violating the Geneva Conventions by kidnapping a foreign head of state? I suppose I ought to let my brain breathe outside of the politics bowl now and then . . .

Roger Ebert on Sarah Palin's performance at the vice presidential debate; "You want to smile with her and wink back. But who did she resemble more? Marge Gunderson, whose peppy pleasantries masked a remorseless policewoman's logic? Or Jerry Lundegaard, who knew he didn't have the car on his lot, but smiled when he said, 'M'am, I been cooperatin' with ya here. ' Palin was persuasive. But I felt a brightness that was not always convincing."
This chapter fought me kicking and screaming all the way. I even had to install a new ftp programme. But, Chapter 9 of Venia's Travels is now online. It could be the most important thing you read before you die.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I guess Sarah Palin really crammed for that debate. She certainly wasn't light on her feet, though. She had trouble responding to questions--I loved her prefacing of a complete evasion with "I might not answer the questions the way you or the moderator want." In other words, "You can ask all you want, if it's not in my script, I'm not saying it."

At least she had the excuse of being a complete amateur. There's still no explanation as to why John McCain barely seemed aware of his surroundings. Of course, these debates shall probably count for very little. I heard on Howard Stern last night a number of people voting for Obama being asked if they were voting for him because he was pro-life and wanted to continue the war in Iraq. There were several "yes" responses. McCain supporters were asked if they were voting for McCain because he wanted to get out of Iraq and supported stem cell research. More yes answers.

The maid to-day asked me who I was voting for and I said Obama. "Me too!" she said, which I found to be something of a relief what with San Diego being largely Republican until she said, "A woman is not ready to be vice president. I know how we women are."

This election is going to be decided by dice in a cup. Gods. Where are my voodoo dolls?

I realised yesterday I really only needed to do one page, so I went to Tim's and played Soulcalibur 4, which I think I really needed. Then I came back here, inked, and afterwards watched La Dolce Vita. What a beautiful film. On the one hand it's about an emotionally stunted man's life in a decadent and insubstantial world, and at the same time it's this good man's attempt to connect with life as he's surrounded by a beautiful world. Is life chaos and enlightenment an illusion or is Marcello a misfit amongst misfits occasionally glimpsing reality? La Dolce Vita seems like a movie that will remain provoking after a million viewings.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I have to draw two pages to-day, so I've not much time for the blogging.

I read the new Sirenia Digest this morning and thought it was some really beautiful writing. The excerpt from Caitlin's upcoming novel, The Red Tree, was a nice mix of Lovecraft and apparent autobiography. It reminded me of an excerpt, in an earlier Sirenia Digest, from another of Caitlin's novels in progress, Joey LaFaye, in that it seems extremely close to Caitlin's blog in terms of voice and opinions of the narrator. But the autobiographical elements are taken even further with more specific details of Caitlin's life. Given the false starts on other, less autobiographical novels, it seems Caitlin's trying to tap artistic fire by bringing greater literal intimacy to the prose. I haven't noticed any consistent discrepancy in quality between those stories of hers that seem to include many, easily identifiable elements from the author's life and those that don't. But I hope this is doing for her what she wants it to.

The new story, "Untitled 33", is an extremely beautiful layering of dream images inspired partly by Ovid's Metamorphosis, partly by an illustration by Vince Locke, and partly, I would guess, by Caitlin's infatuation with Sonya Taaffe. Caitlin had posted the Locke illustration in her blog a little while ago, and I must say I was underwhelmed, as I usually am by Locke's illustrations for the digest, but Caitlin seems to've made love with it for the story, and her description of the odd object which two women seem to be using as a sexual toy in the image was sensuous enough that I actually appreciated the illustration a little more. I still couldn't connect the expressionless faces of the people in the picture with the characters in the story, though.

But I found the story striking for another reason that Caitlin didn't intend in that much of the imagery described and concepts played with actually strongly reminded me of some things in Chapter 9 of Venia's Travels. I'd almost be tempted to change it a little if the fact that I'm so behind made that impossible. Hopefully no-one thinks I can't come up with my own ideas, though, if they do, they'll have also to think I can write, draw, and colour an eight page chapter in two days. I wish.

I suppose it could all be in my imagination, anyway.