Sunday, November 30, 2008

Running only a little bit late to-day. I thought I'd be running later--my sister and I had been planning on seeing Let the Right One In to-night, but the kitten apparently had kept my sister up all night. The little 1.5 pound Saffy Kitty is apparently holding a matter/antimatter reactor in subspace because she's filled with great spurts of insatiable energy. To-night I watched her bound up and down the stairs I'd a week ago watched her take with timidly extended paws.

My sister and I watched the RiffTrax of The Happening before I came back here and I read the new Sirenia Digest story called "DANCING WITH THE EIGHT OF SWORDS". A story I found interesting for what seemed to me an exploration the kind of damaged affection a torturer might feel for her victim, and what that affection means and what it implies about the torturer's psychology.

I think one of the reasons I still feel compelled to comment on Sirenia Digest is it still bugs me that Caitlin has to ask, in her blog, for people to comment on the stories. I've seen her journal generate up to forty comments about a lolcat or something random Caitlin mentioned, yet these supposed Caitlin R. Kiernan fans can't be arsed to comment on Caitlin's, you know, actual work. But, then, I suppose a lot of people don't consider it worthwhile talking to successful authors unless they can thereby distinguish themselves in some way.

Last night I listened to more of The Bell Jar while I coloured. I'm starting to feel Maggie Gyllenhaal's voice is just way too cute for the Esther Greenwood role. I might actually have preferred Scarlett Johansson or Lizzy Caplan. Last night I listened to the scene where Esther breaks her leg in her first attempt at skiing. Immediately Esther wants to get back to the top of the hill and try again, but Buddy, a guy who presumes himself her fiancé, informs her of her broken leg. Esther mentions a "satisfaction" in Buddy's voice as he says, no, she's not going back again. And I knew exactly what Plath was talking about. The sort of subtle joy in telling someone determined and passionate that it's impossible for them to even begin trying to get what they want. Maybe these people don't realise they're doing it, don't understand that part of themselves. I suppose it could be a reflection of repression, that people like Buddy are envious of people who aim for what they want instead of trying to figure out what they're supposed to want. This is a recurring theme in The Bell Jar.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

To-day has not gotten off to the greatest of starts. I was determined to at least get up a little earlier than 5pm so I set my alarm for 3pm. But noises in the house throughout the day prevented me from achieving a serviceable amount of sleep, which I didn't quite realise until about two hours after I'd been up and about. So it's clear to me now I'm in no shape to draw to-day. I've got plenty of colouring to do, though.

Then I spent a good deal of time trying to make breakfast and failing. There seems to be a problem with the dishwasher my grandmother won't acknowledge can't be fixed with vinegar, so half the time when I make oatmeal or cous cous, it comes out sudsy, no matter how much I rinse out the bowl beforehand, as happened to-day. Meanwhile, the coffeepot malfunctioned again, though fortunately I was able to pull some coffee out of the wreckage. I ended up having pumpkin pie for breakfast. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm having a hard time accessing parts of my personality right now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The works over at Yahoo really seem to be gummed lately. It makes my browser crawl like Anakin Skywalker, but so does CHUD lately. I was heartened, though, when I read the comment thread for this CHUD article about the English dub cast for Hayao Miyazaki's new movie, Ponyo (one of these days I'll stop reading that as "Porno"). Looks like opinion's finally turning against English dubs for anime, following the simple logic that the English dub track is not directed by the film's director--it has a whole different creative crew.

I'm not opposed to English dubs of anime in theory. It's simply that, with one exception, they're all absolutely terrible, and do reflect divergent or non-existent creative visions. And the one exception is the dub for Princess Mononoke and it's precisely because of what Neil Gaiman created for it--which was inevitably Neil Gaiman-ish, if you will. It's more than just telling you what the words literally mean, it's creative muscle exercised, so naturally when less talented people work on the script, you'll get a lesser product. In any case, it's a different product, and I enjoy the Japanese version of Princess Mononoke as a piece of work distinct from the English version.

Last night I watched the first episode of His and Her Circumstances, an anime series I'd been looking forward to watching for some time. It's a GAINAX series made shortly after the conclusion of Neon Genesis Evangelion and the first half of the series is directed by Evangelion's Hideaki Anno and the second half is directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki, who would go on to direct FLCL and Gunbuster 2. Aside from being GAINAX's first series to be based on a manga, it's also an unusual foray for GAINAX into shojo, or an anime or manga ostensibly aimed at female, adolescent audiences.

It was a really nice first episode, and I look forward to seeing more. It bears a great deal of resemblance, both stylistically and thematically, to the later episodes of Evangelion. Transition shots of traffic lights, sunsets, and low angle perspectives of schoolyard fences feel practically like leftovers from the earlier series. One striking difference, though, is the austerity of much of the imagery--at least, of the imagery that exists exterior to the mind of the main character, Yukino Miyazawa.

The show fluctuates constantly between darkly dressed characters contrasting against washed out, minimalist backgrounds and intensely cartoonish, noisy representations of Yukino's thoughts. Exaggerated illustrations of a character's thought processes is by no means unusual in an anime series, but here the device is used remarkably well as Yukino's obsessive pursuit of success and recognition is coupled with an apparently only vague perception of reality and the people around her, reality apparently having little room in Yukino's conscious mind overloaded with swings of delusions of grandeur over a thinly frozen lake of deep-seated insecurities. It's very easy to see what attracted the creator of Evangelion to this story, and Yukino's drive for success as a reflection of insecurity reminded me very strongly of Evangelion's Asuka.

Mostly, His and Her Circumstances uses this subject matter in a much lighter fashion than Evangelion did, but there was a moment I found intriguingly disturbing when Yukino achieves a higher class ranking in than Arima, a boy whom Yukino considered her academic rival.

Yukino runs through a fantasy of Arima's shame and degradation, only to be astonished by Arima's ease in congratulating her and she's forced to recognise that the relationship she'd perceived has existing between the two of them was entirely a figment of her imagination. But even before this realisation, there's a curiously hollow quality to her victory.

Anyway, remember, there's a new Venia's Travels to-day.

There's a new Venia's Travels online. There are now a hundred four pages of Venia online. I think I'll throw myself a tea party . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Going back to my parents' house for another day of Thanksgiving to-day, and I'm running a little later than yesterday, so here's an even shorter post.

I got back at around nine last night and spent the next seven hours drawing and colouring. I expect I'll do the same to-night. I'm really liking how Chapter 14 is shaping up.

This afternoon I watched the fourth episode of Zero no Tsukaima, an anime series Tim recommended to me a while ago that I haven't been very enthusiastic about. I'll admit, it has one or two things that separate it from many other shonen series; the possibility of the main characters having sex is actually brought up, the characters have some layers of (albeit always distinctly adolescent) motivation.

But the male lead, Saito, bugs the crap out of me. He gets really close to consummating a relationship with the series tsundere, Louise, several times, but invariably messes things up by being intensely stupid, like constantly staring at a half-elf's breasts, or not noticing that Louise has made him dinner. I know what's going on here--the writers are stringing things out. Yet Louise's reactions are so nicely written, I do keep coming back to the series, though slowly and reluctantly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I was about to make some coffee when I heard a small, pitiful mew. Outside, I saw the neighbour's grey cat was hunched under a table on the back porch staring at the rain soaked grass and concrete beyond the cover of the awning. The neighbour's cats are still pretty young, and I think they used to live in the desert, so I suppose they may have little or no experience with rain.

The moment I opened the back door, the cat bolted across the lawn and up the fence. I didn't mean to scare her, but it's probably just as well. Who knows how long it would've taken her to figure out it was safe to walk on the grass.

I'm going to my parents' house for an early Thanksgiving, so that's about all I have time for to-day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh, and happy birthday, Mel.
Those interested in the possibility of an Avengers movie might note that Iron Man and Spider-Man have already appeared in one film together;

At around 1am last night, I decided, for no particular reason except I sensed I probably need to now and then, to take the rest of the night off. So I watched Tropic Thunder, a movie I found to be more fascinating than I'd anticipated (there'll be spoilers in this post).

This is a movie about people who are so self-absorbed that they completely lack any ability to reach out to other people in a meaningful way. Most of the people in the movie are artists of one kind or another, and they substitute their craft for their inability to communicate with others, their only path to validation being recognition and appreciation of their work. Ben Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, an actor known for big budget action films but who wishes to garner respect as an actor in more serious and artistic works. His need for this recognition is so great that, when he's captured by a community of druglords, he's content to stay with them when he discovers they're the only group of people possibly in the world who truly loved his performance in a movie called Simple Jack, for which Speedman went to a great deal of effort to portray a mentally retarded man.

Tropic Thunder's nexus, though, is really Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as a white Australian actor named Kirk Lazarus, a consummate method actor who completely invests his body and mind into every role, including the role of a middle aged African American man in Tropic Thunder's principal film-within-a-film (also called Tropic Thunder). Discussing with Speedman his portrayal of Simple Jack, and the absence of recognition Speedman received from the public and the Academy for the performance, Lazarus says, "Hats off for going there. Especially knowing how the Academy is about that shit . . . Everybody knows you never go full retard. Dustin Hoffman. Rain Man. Looked retarded, acted retarded. Not retarded . . . Autistic, sure. Not retarded. Tom Hanks, Forest Gump. Slow, yes, retarded, maybe, braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition? That ain't retarded. Peter Sellers, Being There. Infantile, yes, retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, I am Sam. Remember? Went full retard? Went home empty handed."

This is real insight into Academy politics. Best picture winners are generally those that are not only effective but also make a straight-forward, positive statement about the human mind. A movie about someone who is mentally disadvantaged in a realistic way is not acceptable because it assumes a point of view of reality where innocent people are genuinely disadvantaged and never rewarded. The culprit here is a version of the American dream, which states that anyone who works hard and goes for what they want will, in the end, be rewarded. So Forrest Gump can only have mental disadvantages if there are a corresponding set of advantages to even things out--miracles purchased with Gump's mental deficiencies. Capitalism as social and psychological dynamics.

That Lazarus frequently expresses genuine wisdom is ironic because, of all the different delusions the main characters are under, Lazarus's is the most patently absurd. There is no practical reason for a white man to be playing a black man, but Lazarus gives it his all anyway*. When asked why he maintains commitment to the role even after the film has clearly been completely derailed, real vulnerability flashes across his face as he says he doesn't know. But the almost obligatory scene near the end of the movie where Lazarus confronts his addiction to assuming other identities and tears off his wig and makeup feels curiously false, as though confronting his complicated identity problem is itself just another contrived narrative. His name, "Lazarus", also seems to point to an overly serious self-absorption consumed with the idea of rebirth.

But Lazarus isn't the only character attempting to construct identities for himself. Alpa Chino, attempting with gusto to present his identity as a womanising rapper, can't admit to himself that he's gay. Jack Black's character Jeff Portney is known for a series of films called Fatties where, in an obvious reference to Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor movies, he single-handedly plays an entire family of characters. Speedman's agent, played by Matthew McConaughey, can only express his commitment to his friend and client by going to ridiculous lengths to make sure he has TiVo in his hotel room. The film's pyrotechnics operator, Cody Underwood, fawns over the author of the film's source material, and is much like a lot of militant white trash having no real combat experience while nonetheless touting himself as a sort of soldier. Meanwhile, that author of the film's source material turns out to be a fraud himself.

Then there's Tom Cruise's inspired and hilarious performance as studio head Les Grossman, his fat suit, bald wig, and thick body hair clearly an instance of an actor disappearing to a ludicrous degree into a role, but the character himself is reality challenged apart from that. He chews out via phone the druglords holding Speedman hostage, hangs up and proclaims to his yes-men, "We don't negotiate with terrorists", all before even bothering to find out who he was talking to. A man clearly more interested in presenting himself than he is in real two way communication.

After the movie, I read War and Peace a bit before watching the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Not a bad episode, but not one of the best. It was nice hearing Summer Glau speak Japanese, though her accent was terrible.

*For those who think this concept is too far-fetched, I'd argue 1)it's comedy that's supposed to be over the top and 2) is it really so different from Memoirs of a Geisha, a movie about Japanese women portrayed almost entirely by Chinese actresses?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I caught the first episode of The Drinky Crow Show on adult swim last night. It's based on Tony Millionaire's Maakies comic, which I've never read, but I must say I was impressed with the show. It has wonderful dark comic logic and the pacing to back it up. Drinky Crow, without hesitating, getting his eyes graphically removed from their sockets to be replaced by steam powered "beer goggles" communicates extreme sadness, desperation, and antiquated aesthetics so swiftly that it's exquisitely funny.

While colouring last night, I started listening to the audiobook version of The Bell Jar, and so far I like Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance of the material, though I think she sounds a little too sarcastic sometimes when she's describing the ludicrous deluge of 1950s feminine prettiness heaped on the young women by a magazine sponsoring their stay in New York. The beginning of the book has the heroine, Esther Greenwood, staying in a hotel occupied entirely by women as she's treated on a daily basis to fashion shows, programmes, and presents from various clothing and makeup companies. There's an absurd decadence to it that perfectly compliments Greenwood's inexplicable emotional remoteness. I suppose a sarcastic tone isn't strictly inappropriate for reading the material, but I imagined something colder.

I have a few mp3s of Plath herself reading her poetry, and it's hard to imagine that sepulchral and precise voice saying some of the very colourful and sharp things said about people by The Bell Jar's narrator--I'd forgotten how surprisingly companionable the voice is, particularly compared to Plath's poetry which moves from intensely cold and meticulous in her early work to the sort of archly furious cleavers of beautiful imagery in her later works. The Bell Jar is like hearing someone incredibly articulate and funny describing ennui in New York in intimate detail. It's wonderful stuff--though I don't mean to disparage Plath's poetry. It's just I find I love the two facets of Plath very differently.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the link between comedy and morbidity. Maybe my favourite thing about The Howard Stern Show these days is Artie Lange, who's gotten much funnier since his sort of overtly, and somewhat artificially, angry standup comedy evolved, mostly by his work on the Stern Show into something more conversational and confessional. He sort of performs a balancing act, though, as he goes from revealing something horrible about himself or his past and making it funny by how unexpected it is, to simply being sad when it's not so unexpected, or funny because it is expected. You can perceive him trying to weed out the funny threads in his extremely open narrative, and you can also perceive how damaged he is by the words he chooses and the shame that manifests and he sometimes represses a moment later. This NPR interview with him is one of the more amazing things I've heard lately. Terry Gross's reaction to him seems to be affection tempered with fear, as seems to be the case with a lot of people interviewing Artie. To intentionally make someone laugh, the construction of your joke has to in some way resemble the way your audience thinks, so it's intimate that way. Telling a joke puts someone at ease because it makes you seem familiar. So interviewers who aren't shaken by interviewing murderers or dictators actually might be more disturbed by interviewing Artie--it's like being forced to see yourself inside someone frightening. And you can hear Artie perceiving this reaction, too, which, you have to think, probably contributes significantly to his depression.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I've just gotten back from my parents' house where Saffy the kitten slept on my shoulder while my sister and I watched a couple episodes of Sherlock Holmes ("The Devil's Foot" and "The Silver Blaze"). Six weeks old and already the little kitten can fight her way up and down the stairs with only a little difficulty. Mostly she sleeps, as she did on my shoulder, pausing only to lick my ear or scratch my chin contemplatively.

I only got eight hours of sleep to-day and I'm not nearly as focused as I was yesterday after more than ten hours. Maybe I require as much sleep as a cat does. Or maybe I'm just not sleeping as much as I think I am. Anyway, I started over on the Chapter 14 script I'd written on Thursday, when I was sleep deprived. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes, even though I already knew almost exactly what was going to happen in 14 at least a week beforehand.

Nothing else really to report to-day. I did have an interesting dream, but I essentially don't remember it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I got ten and a half hours of sleep to-day. 6:30am to 5pm. I . . . feel . . . fantastic. I know some people out there would say waking up at 5pm would make them feel disgusting, to which I can only reply that maybe that's what separates us brilliant web comic artists from you peasants.

I finally had a dream to-day that didn't involve Star Wars. Upon reflection, it might have had something to do with Vertigo, but I wasn't thinking of it at the time. I was walking on a metal pier at night with a skinny girl in a grey coat. I'd been trying to hit on her, but our conversation had drifted past anything flirtatious and we were both just interested in what the other was thinking. At the end of the pier, the girl kept walking and fell into the water. I watched her sinking, clearly visible somehow through the night black water. She didn't struggle, and somehow I knew she'd jumped in on purpose to see if I'd rescue her, which bugged me because it seemed like our conversation had been deeper than such an immature game. But, I figured, the gentlemanly thing would still be to "rescue" her and probably act like I didn't know she was doing it on purpose. Still, I took the time to take off my jacket and hat and take out my wallet before jumping in.

I finished watching all fifty two episodes of Hayate no Gotoku about a week ago. It was a pretty good series, not a masterpiece, but every episode was enjoyable in one way or another. Fifty two episodes is a lot for an anime series, and I never watched more than one episode in one sitting, so finishing it has sort of shaken up my schedule. I'm filling my anime slot now with a sort of rotation of different anime series--I've been watching the remastered Cowboy Bebop, which is an improvement over my old DVDs, though there doesn't seem to be new scenes spliced in like the remastered Evangelion. I've also been watching the 2005 version of Ah! My Goddess, which has so far been a tremendous improvement over the much shorter 1993 OVA series I watched in high school, mainly by adhering much closer to the manga.

Ah! My Goddess was one of the first anime series that caught my eye when I was just starting to take an interest in anime. Its character designs, particularly for the goddess characters, are very beautiful and sweet. Belldandy's eyebrows I remember making a very strong impression on me. I loved the look of the characters so much that I almost successfully overlooked how awful and saccharine the OVA was. I'd always heard the manga was better, but I'd never had a chance to read it. Now this new television series has made me very happy by uniting the great character designs with a genuinely enjoyable story, taking the time to establish the human characters before introducing the goddess element. The series is still basically an I Dream of Genie, but it's a much better looking I Dream of Genie with a pace that's not as grating.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is not how to fix a phone.

I was in a really nice, deep sleep, having a wonderful dream about a beautiful naked Twi'lek woman singing Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" with Ella Fitzgerald's voice when my sister called me thirty minutes after noon. So yet again I didn't get enough sleep to-day so I have to push back finishing Chapter 14's script again. But, I keep reminding myself, I'm still ahead of where I was with Chapter 12 at this point.

My sister and parents had gotten a new, six week old kitten so I went over to see her. My parents had gone to the pound to get a puppy when they saw a woman leaving a box of kittens and abruptly walking away, despite a worker's protests that the kittens were too young for the pound to take. My sister's named the cat Saffy after, I think, the character on Absolutely Fabulous. I'm hoping the kitten does okay despite the early separation from her mother. I spent a few hours with my sister and the kitten, who's black with a tuft of white fur on her chest. I watched Saffy totter around a bit, eat quite a bit, and sleep quite a bit more than anything else.

While I was there, I found my audiobook copy of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, an unabridged version read by Maggie Gyllenhaal, had arrived. I'm looking forward to listening to it while colouring. The Bell Jar is the only book I've read in the past ten years where I can remember reading it again immediately after I read it the first time. I'm a little worried about the number of times I'll inevitably be listening to this audiobook.

To-night, though, I think I'll just go to Tim's and soak my brain in Soul Calibur 4.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Barely slept, it seems. It's Thursday again, which means noisy maids were here. In my brief sleep cycle, I dreamt of a wide exterior shot on Coruscant. Count Dooku was there, or rather Christopher Lee dressed in his Count Dooku costume. Lee voiced Dooku in the recent Clone Wars movie, which might disappoint us Christopher Lee fans if we didn't know that Christopher Lee's been in 8 billion bad movies simply because he constantly works. But he always gives a first class performance. In my dream, it was like he'd finally given up, and he read his Dooku lines in a tired and unenthusiastic tone. There was a glass of milk on a building ledge behind him, and behind the milk, slightly hidden by an alcove, was a glass of scotch.

In front of the building was a row of boxes holding a bunch of my possessions from childhood. I remember looking at a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy, a sort of turret gun that fired plastic pizza disks. "You didn't eat any of the pizzas, did you?" asked someone. "Er, no," I responded dryly. In the rest of the boxes, my things had changed into water in which swam goldfish, except for one box where large, colourful tropical fish had been swimming in place in a very small quantity of water for decades. I wondered if they would even know how to handle themselves in a proper aquarium.

When the noises outside my room woke me up, I at first had some idea of going back to sleep when they left, so I killed some time colouring and listening to music. "Part of Your World" from the Little Mermaid soundtrack came on, which I'd downloaded six or seven years ago because a girl I liked was a big Little Mermaid fan. I'm always trying to connect with people through art. It occurred to me to-day that my artwork is my best gesture towards connecting with other people.

I suppose because the upcoming movie put me in the mind, I've been watching the original Star Trek television series lately. I'm only two episodes in, and I'm amazed at how fresh they seem to me. It's really been a very long time since I watched them last.

The second episode, or the true first episode of the series, the first one with Kirk, is about a couple Enterprise crew members becoming omnipotent espers. Of course, they eventually become adversaries of their former crewmates. One of the two espers was a psychiatrist, and when she starts boasting of the pair's newfound godhood, Kirk says something to her I found impressive;

"Then let's talk about humans, about our frailties. As powerful as he gets he'll still have all that inside him . . . You were a psychiatrist once. You know the ugly, savage things we all keep buried, that none of us dare expose, but he'll dare. Who's to stop him? He doesn't need to care. Be a psychiatrist for one minute longer. What do you see happening to him? What's your prognosis, doctor?"

A couple things struck me about this. For one thing, as much as I like Star Trek: The Next Generation, you'll never find a speech like that acknowledging fundamental flaws in the human mind. It also seems a fitting sentiment to be expressed by a show associated with nerds; who can appreciate the lack of compassion in a powerful being better than people who've been forced to the sidelines of real society? This nicely lets these outcasts identify with a starship captain. It's kind of sweet that way.

It also has nice political resonance, too, as Kirk even mentions absolute power corrupting absolutely. The show was pretty thoroughly left wing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Number of times I unexpectedly heard Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" yesterday; 4.

I was driving back from my parents' house this evening when, at a four-way stop, I got one of those people across from me who're deathly afraid of being the first ones through an intersection. Normally they slow their cars to an unreasonable crawl a few feet before the limit line and if you haven't stopped yourself yet, they drift a bit, even after they've passed the line. To-night the guy across from me messed up his timing and was left facing me having irrefutably stopped first. There was an awkward pause before he finally moved.

I wonder about these people. Sometimes I think watching traffic is like watching extremely abstract renderings of human minds. Like these are the frightened, bullish, or sweet children inside everyone laid bare in steel bodies.

My computer speakers gave out to-day. I'm listening to music now via headphones connected to an extension cord connected to the computer. It's lucky I had such a cord, but I still might go out see if I can get some good, cheap speakers to-night. I detect a slight, thin, tinny quality to the music like this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm starting to think I didn't get as much sleep to-day as I thought I did. The problem might lie in my conception of eight hours of sleep--I tend to count the hours beginning when my head hits the pillow, like sleep is a form of baseball. I sometimes even forget to deduct time spent web browsing in the middle of the day, half asleep.

I watched the newest episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles last night. I liked the episode, though the speech Derek gave to the guy he was torturing sounded like it came out of a text book. I like Jesse, Derek's girlfriend, okay, except I wish they'd gotten a more muscular actress for the role. It's not that Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen is a bad actress, and at some level I'm always going to enjoy watching an attractive woman. It's just that I'm tired of shows throwing noodle-armed women into warrior roles with the implication that they're every bit the fighters beefy guys like Derek are. I mean, that was one of the really great things about Terminator 2--Linda Hamilton's muscles. You could see the power there. I guess there's a motive floating around in the TV producer creativity jetsam to show women as being the equals of men, but shit like this doesn't help. It seems to suggest that skinny women are the only real women.

To-day I watched the first episode of Ergo Proxy, which a fan of my comics recommended to me. I've seen plenty of movies and television shows influenced by Blade Runner, but none moreso than this. It's practically Blade Runner: The Animated Series but with a few tweaks. The Replicants are called AutoRievs, don't look as human, and there are more of them in the city. Instead of everyone trying to get to Mars, everyone's trying to get into the city. The Deckard character is an attractive young woman. She's hunting AutoRievs infected with something called the "Cogito Virus", which I guess is shorthand for the robots becoming self-aware, thus aiming for the existential conflicts of Blade Runner.

It's hard to say if I think it's a good show or not. I'll probably have to give it a couple more episodes. I like how it uses Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" as its end theme. It's sort of pretty, though the similarities to Blade Runner can only draw attention to how inferior it looks to that movie. But I'm not as crazy about dark, stripped down colour palettes as a lot of people seem to be nowadays.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy birthday, Enigma Kat.

When I downloaded every Beatles album ever, I guess I got some albums of outtakes mixed in. I usually listen to a playlist of three thousand thirteen of my mp3s and flacs*, so it's very strange when one of those outtakes comes up, particularly when the song starts out normal. I just pressed play on "And Your Bird Can Sing" and was startled when Paul started laughing uncontrollably halfway through the song. You get so used to these songs being sort of immutable. Wouldn't it be interesting if, partway through a movie you've watched a million times, a character suddenly decided to do something different? Gods, so many people would complain, but I would sincerely salute the director of a major blockbuster who made alternate versions of his or movie with subtly different scenes and released the variant versions in precisely the same packaging.

I guess I oughta try listening to now that I've signed up for it. Friend me if you have it too. I'm still not exactly sure what it's about--I mainly signed up because I saw Moira had. I suppose once I have a few minutes I'll figure out how cool it is.

Friday and Saturday I spent most of the evening at Tim's playing Soul Calibur 4. I coloured when I got back here, but I guess I'm not as far with pencil and ink as I could be--I still have three pages left. I feel pretty comfortable, though, because it's an easy chapter. I think I'll start working on 14 to-morrow, in fact. I sort of need to decide what's happening in 15 before I can really get to work on 14, though. We'll see . . .

*Flac files slowly seem to be overtaking mp3s as the standard file format for music tracks (sorry, Apple, no-one's paying attention to your m4us or whatever the fuck you call them). They're "lossless", which means they're as high quality as CD audio, though I bet most of you don't notice mp3s don't sound as good as CDs. I didn't notice myself until I started downloading flacs.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I watched this apparently bootleg Star Trek trailer early this morning on AICN shortly before I went to sleep;

I'm amazed Paramount's not taken it down yet (at least not as of the time I'm writing this). Makes me wonder how unintentional this leak is. I'm surprised Hillary Clinton's not in it.

Let's see. First of all, I call no more noisy trailers ending with almost silent ominous title cards. It's starting to provoke a gag reflex.

Here are my thoughts; Zachary Quinto just isn't Spock. Maybe he'll be something interesting, but it won't be what made Leonard Nimoy's performance interesting. I like Simon Pegg as Scotty.

My prediction; this movie will turn a profit, but not by much. It won't revitalise the Star Trek franchise. This movie looks too mainstream homogenous for the geeks, and it looks too geeky for the mainstream homophobes.

I think I'll basically enjoy it as a fun ride, and then cringe in the moments where it gets schmaltzy for trying too hard. SETSULED HAS SPOKEN. Remember, I'm almost never wrong.

Lately I've been watching the original Tenchi Muyo OVAs from the early 1990s. I'm enjoying them a little more than I remember enjoying them in high school. More and more these days, I'm noticing how a lot more care and effort went into creating detailed worlds and characters in older anime series than is put into even the good modern ones. The cute little Ryo-Ohki is carefully animated with distinctly cat-like movements fused with puppy and a little bit of bunny. The average Ryo-Ohki type character in anime these days usually just settles for being small with exaggerated features.

But I love Tenchi's and Ryoko's mannerisms, too. You have to smile at Tenchi's understated mischievousness when he nicks his grandfather's keys. Or Ryoko pausing in her path of destruction to check herself in a mirror or casually fondling Tenchi's crotch. And I love how Ayeka's formality actually feels a bit like she is an aristocrat, as opposed to most modern anime that settles for just putting a girl in a frilly dress.

And, gods, the personality in the props. The junk in Tenchi's room, the stuff neatly arranged in Ayeka's barrels. Not many anime series take the time for shit like that anymore. Top wo Nerae 2 is the best example that comes to mind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I got an oil change at Wal-Mart yesterday. As I was wandering about the store, I saw stacks of this in one aisle, an almost to scale Millennium Falcon toy for the latest line of Star Wars action figures. It's a hundred twenty seven dollars, and one of the first things I noticed was that the interior is inaccurate. There are several different published schematics of the Falcon, but this toy is inconsistent with the bits of the ship's interior visible in the movies.

This would have mattered to me when I was a kid. And I could just picture the well-meaning relative imagining their cherubic nephew/grandson/whatever's face glowing with the delight upon unwrapping it, only to be dashed when the snot-nosed little devil proclaims it to be a piece of junk.

"I made a lot of special modifications myself," says Hasbro. Oh, Hasbro. Let's see you release an assembly-line YT-1300 then, okay?

I eavesdropped on a couple kids looking at Star Wars figures. One of them did boast to the other that he was getting the Millennium Falcon for Christmas. The other remarked on how "ugly" a General Grievous figure was--I'm not sure whether he considered that a positive quality or not.

In any case, I thought it was interesting how much the kids seemed to like the prequels as well as the original trilogy. There's certainly plenty of prequel merchandise, but I wonder if the merchandise is there because the kids want it or if the kids want it because it's there. I do remember wanting some action figures for their own sakes when I was a kid, but mostly I wanted Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtle figures because they were shows I liked watching. I think I really honed a lot of the storytelling instincts I have today by playing with Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters in a giant Batcave playset, and trying to come up with legitimate explanations for the scale inconsistencies. I remember there was a long running love triangle involving Sorceress from He-Man, Peter Venkman, and Leonardo the Ninja Turtle. I think it was Leonardo. He was my favourite, anyway.

I was sort of bemused by Jon Stewart's interview with Bill O'Reilly;

Almost without realising it, the two of them seem to fall into challenging each other to go out and talk to real, salt-of-the-Earth Americans, each apparently feeling the other never does this. Stewart does seem to have polls and reason on his side, and mostly seems to have trouble communicating simply because O'Reilly constantly interrupts him. O'Reilly, on the other hand, seems terrified. He seems to make less and less sense, and seems to state his actual beliefs with a tone of irony as though he subconsciously believes his only value is as a parody. Or, actually, it seems as though he's so determined not to take Stewart seriously on any level that he reflexively drains conviction from his own believes. You know, the more I think about it, the more I think the guy's a complete wreck.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I've never seen Ishtar, but to-day I dreamt there was a suburb of San Diego named after the movie. It was isolated in a ring of hills and the place was considered bad luck by most people I knew. I drove a large, unwieldy SUV there as the sun was setting and immediately bad music started playing on the radio.

I stopped in a cul-de-sac at the bottom of a hill. It was a residential area but there was a stand set up selling Submarina sandwiches (Submarina's a Subway competitor) and smoothies. A bunch of surly knights were waiting to be served. I got in line and bought an orange smoothie, but then got back in line when I realised I wanted a sandwich, too. I asked for very specific ingredients, but all I remember now is that I wanted mustard and provolone cheese. The worker was halfway through making my sandwich when he told me he needed to take care of something and went into one of the houses. He didn't come back for a long time, the knights behind me started getting angry, and when he finally came back, the whole thing ended up costing me an extra ten dollars somehow.

Anyway. New Venia's Travels to-day, folks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Already to-day I've drawn page 100 of Venia's Travels. It's part of Chapter 13, so it won't be online for another two weeks, but I still feel the milestone. And I still feel like the story's just getting started. But I felt pretty much the same way at around page 100 of Boschen and Nesuko.

For supper lately I've been eating toast with jam. Last night I had apricot jam with chai tea which turned out to be an unexpectedly perfect flavour combination. Everything seemed to be going right yesterday--since I'm pretty comfortable about where I am with the comic right now, I decided to steal some time to clean my room last night. I figured not sneezing as often would probably end up being a time-saver in the long run, anyway.

I also organised my mp3s. I deleted some faulty tracks from the Grave of the Fireflies soundtrack that I think I've had for more than eight years. Every time they'd come up in a playlist, I'd think to myself, "I really need to delete those," but would never get around to it. Now I have. It almost feels wrong. I'm not sure I want to find better versions of the mp3s--or if I even can. I haven't watched the movie in a long time, and as anime movies go, it doesn't exactly seem like one that has the ravenous fanbase that would seed soundtrack mp3s. It's amazing I found the files at all--I downloaded them from a site I found through Anime Web Turnpike before that site got useless and bloated. It was even before I'd heard of Napster.

Well, I had a great time writing this post and I hope you enjoyed reading it, but now I see our time's almost up. It's been an amazing ride and there's so many people I need to thank. I'd like to thank David Axelrod, Gus Van Sant, Koji Kondo, The Punisher, Squirtle, and Art Crow! Goodnight everybody!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Looking at the Wikipedia entry for the new Star Trek film, I saw this;

Though the Enterprise's bridge maintains an oval shape, railings, the captain's chair, and viewscreen, it has been aesthetically altered with bright colors: Abrams joked it made the Apple Store look "uncool".

Er, yeah. Because the Apple Store rocks it hardcore, man. This is not a statement that inspires confidence. It's like if Peter Jackson had said, "Our Hobbiton makes Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland look childish!"
On my way out the door this evening, I found Snow the cat fretfully pacing around a tree, staring up at a bird rustling in the branches, and addressing it with plaintive mews, as if pleading with the bird to relinquish its meat.

I noticed a wire hanging from the tree and saw on the ground below it a small wooden birdhouse. I bet my grandmother had no idea the birdhouse was there. Probably it was something left by my aunt or grandfather many years ago.

Eventually, Snow scrabbled quickly up the tree. Of course, the bird got out of the way immediately and I thought I was going to have to rescue Snow. I was trying to figure out how to grab him when he made a graceless leap to the concrete.

So this is the new look of the starship Enterprise;

I don't like it. But I'm not sure if this is simply because it clashes with the Enterprise shapes I grew up with. I do like it better than the ship from the Scott Bakula series (which always looked too much like an upside down Miranda class vessel to me). Mostly this new Enterprise looks like a super-deformed version of the Enterprise-A to me. The curves of the warp nacelle pylons are somewhat reminiscent of the Enterprise-D, but the glowing blue main deflector dish, hull colouration, and saucer are all suggestive of the Enterprise design featured in the 80s movies. I'll be interested to see if the bussard ramscoops glow red or not.

The saucer and the warp nacelles are too big for my taste. The saucer recalls the sharpness of the Enterprise-A's, but loses a lot of impact for having a sort of hamburger quality by comparison. The nacelles remind me of modern cars.

Mostly, I think this new Enterprise is confused about what she wants to be. She can't decide if she wants the hard, angular Enterprise-A look or the organic form of Enterprise-D. It just comes out as a mess. Personally, my favourite is still the Enterprise-D, which somehow to me still best conveys something that is curvy and pretty while seeming as though her curves are integral to an optimal design. Which is why the Enterprise-E seems so odd. She looks like something made out of Construx.

No, I did not have a girlfriend in high school. Why do you ask?

I think Abrams would've been better off sticking closer to the design of the Enterprise-A (or refit). I don't think anyone would've complained, and this new one can't look significantly better from any objective standpoint.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not much time to-day. I just got back from watching La Dolce Vita with my sister. As long as it is, I think that movie is much better taken in one sitting.

Last night I watched the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It wasn't one of the best episodes, there were a number of glaring problems with logic (why did they abandon the car after getting Sarah out of the trunk?), but I give the episode points for using the multiple point of view technique without it seeming too artificial most of the time (Ellison's greeting to Sarah in the trunk came off weirdly abrupt the second time). I think the show would be far more effective if it would keep to single points of view for longer periods of time. But I like getting cosy with characters, particularly ones played by Summer Glau.

The neighbour's little grey cat was trapped in the garage here to-day. She mewed at me to let her out, which I did. She's gotten comfortable sitting near me, especially when I'm petting Snow, but still won't let me get too close. I don't mind--it just does my heart good to see all these cats around here all of a sudden.

I've gotten a good start on Chapter 13, and I'm already cooking things up for 14. As for 15 and 16, I feel like I have a big buffet of options . . .

Now I must away to the grocery store.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I didn't mention watching the new Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, did I? The fansub finally came out, which was good since in raw form it easily surpassed my limited grasp of Japanese (actually, it often took a very long time for episodes to be fansubbed and the show was often kicked from group to group for the particular difficulty of translating the show). It's an OVA, Original Video Animation, which, for those who don't know, are usually 30 minute episodes released directly to video, often with slightly higher production values and material too racy for regular television.

The particular episode was like a decent episode of the series, though it could never live up to the expectation generated by such a long wait. In any case, it was nice seeing the show again.

I was just at my parents' house again this evening and my sister told me about someone she knows who claimed to be bisexual despite voting yes on Proposition 8. The girl's reasoning was that she didn't want gay marriage taught in schools. This is one of those things that make it powerfully difficult to avoid becoming cynical. One can point to religion as being an obvious set of false rationalisations infecting thought processes to bring people to irrational conclusions and actions, but what about all the other threads of delusion? Could you make this shit up? I guess she wanted to be bisexual because it's trendy and is also homophobic because homophobia is also trendy? Here's the sort of person who listens to "I Kissed a Girl". You know what she needs? Three months of disaster training.

In the pile of big drawings I got back the other day, there were also three framed Star Wars posters that hung on my wall when I was a teenager. They're copies of the original posters from each film of the original trilogy's first theatrical run. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars was holy enough to have framed posters of. A lot of people are grumbling about the loss of Star Wars through the recent follies of George Lucas. I haven't seen the new cgi Clone Wars series, I doubt I shall. But I'm not giving up the ghost, no. May the motherfucking Force be with us all.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Most of the recovered high school artwork is massive colour pencil drawings on black construction paper. I was addicted to that particular setup for a while. Almost everything is too big to scan, but here's a portion of a large painting on white cardboard;

I think I had what can safely be called an obsession with Tom Servo in high school. Aside from this painting, there are several drawings I came across as well as a huge mural depicting Servo, tiny on a orange and white chequered plain with the Millennium Falcon flying past. I remember in my sculpting class making a clay Tom Servo cookie jar, too. Or trying to. I don't think it held together. I do remember it going through the kiln, but the lid, Servo's head, never fit properly.

I've just gotten back from my parents' house where I watched some more Sherlock Holmes with my sister. Now I need to get to the grocery store before I start drawing.

I spent some time arguing with Franklin about an idea Rahm Emanuel had for a "universal civilian service". I kind of like the idea of everyone having to spend three months between the ages of 18 and 25 learning what to do in the event of natural or human inflicted disasters.

At one point in the argument, Franklin asked me when I thought the government should stop treating people like children. I don't think survival training is necessarily children's fare, but it's just now occurred to me that I've never met anyone between ages 18 and 25 I considered to be an adult, myself included.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

To-day I dreamt there was a large, orange spider with a fat, spade shaped abdomen following me around. It was about half the size of my hand--I caught it in the face with a kleenex. As I was carrying it outside, it bit the kleenex and I watched its abdomen deflate as it was emptied of some massive payload of venom. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's not how spider venom works.

Last night I had a massive headache. So, after I'd finished drawing and inking at 3am, I decided to take the rest of the night off. I read War and Peace for about an hour and then I installed Warcraft II. I hadn't played it years, but it's something I used to play constantly. I installed it on school Apple computers because Blizzard used to have the peculiar practice of making their games work on both PCs and Macs. Video games are always an especially potent agent of nostalgia, if you're someone who played them a lot when you were a kid. Never before in the history of humankind have people been able to essentially experience precisely the same environments with precisely the same, unaged, avatars as when they were kids.

I was grocery shopping yesterday where there used to be a movie theatre when I was a kid. It was the last movie theatre in Santee--no one's seen fit to build another one since it was torn down--it must've been ten years ago or so. There are two grocery stores there now, a Henry's and a Vons (Safeway to everyone not living in Southern California) and it's easier to walk behind the bunch of smaller shops to get from one to the other than to go in front of them. Behind the Vons, there's a small square of parking that's oddly nice looking with neatly kept planters and trees--a tiny remnant of the old theatre parking lot. Seeing it always gives me this sharp feeling of wrongness that the lot ends in an empty white wall where it ought to continue for several yards before being a movie theatre. Yesterday I tried as clearly as possible to picture the concession stand and little video game arcade. I guess it seems especially inappropriate for it to be a familiar movie theatre that's missing, as a familiar movie theatre is sort of like an extra set of eyes and ears. It's where you're used to going to access a certain set of perceptions. Its absence is like glaucoma or partial deafness.

To-day I've reacquired a bunch of artwork of mine from high school I'd thought was long lost. I still need to look through it. These nostalgia trips are getting to be a sort of mixed bag. On the one hand, it's nice to see evidence of my own existence, that there's an identity that's not lost forever under the sort of machine I am these days. I mean, the past couple years have been so riddled with disappointments mostly because of my usual disastrous attempts to reach out to other people, it's nice to be reminded of the mechanisms I've carefully built in myself to satisfy the needs for communication and informed affection other people do not seem equipped to provide. But at the same time, it's a reminder that older versions of me invariably die so that, at the end of my life, it's inevitable I'll be a sort of long list of smaller deaths.

Then, of course, I'm reminded of the persons other people, especially family, have perceived me to be and my failure to comply with their hopes, which comes with the reminder of their inaccurate perceptions of me and the futility of our relationships.

You know, I've been laying off the hard liquor lately, maybe I oughta lay off the nostalgia, too . . .

Friday, November 07, 2008

I seem to be back to a completely nocturnal schedule, with the time change and the shorter winter days helping, I hardly ever see the sun anymore. It's making everything feel wonderfully wintry since it's much colder at night than during southern California's never ending summer days. This is easily my favourite time of year.

I want to watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Turkey Day marathons. I want to play Quake. It really is strange what this season does to me. Of course, I don't have time for any of that, but then I never seem to find the old traditions as satisfying in practice as they are in memory.

I guess Obama's had his first presidential gaffe to-day (sort of) when, in his first news conference as President Elect he made a mocking reference to Nancy Reagan's séances. The maids were here to-day, and I got back to sleep after they left, but while they were here I blearily watched Obama's news conference. I love the way Obama uses words sometimes. Like when he said, in regards to choosing cabinet members, that he wants to move "with deliberate haste. With the emphasis on deliberate." Thought he meant moving fast on purpose? Nope. He meant fast moving, careful thought. This guy makes language work for him. "Deliberate haste"--it's odd enough to make you stop and think about it, and does a lot to avoid making you think he's moving too fast to make careful decisions. And, of course, it demonstrates Obama not moving so fast that his decisions are ill-considered.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy birthday, RMG.

I gotta love all the stuff coming out about Sarah Palin now. She didn't know Africa was a continent? She greeted McCain advisors wearing only a towel? Maybe it's not so cold in Alaska, after all.

Actually, her impressive stupidity sounds like it's outpacing Bush's, which might explain why the conservative base was so gaga over her. Not only could you have a beer with her, you could easily talk her into having sex with you. Hell, tell her you're Nicolas Sarkozy while you're at it.

My plan yesterday was to write the script for Chapter 13 and then draw and ink the penultimate page of Chapter 12, but I ended up spending all day on the script. I drove to Denny's, wrote a bit there, drove to Starbucks, wrote a bit there, doing a lot of thinking in between. Then I came back here and completely started over. I'm rather happy with how it turned out. And it's more vetted now than Sarah Palin.

Oh, I oughta leave her alone. But she and Ted Stevens really don't paint a flattering picture of the average Alaskan, do they?

To-day I've already drawn page 95 of my comic but I've still got inking and colouring to do. So I'd better get back to it. Although this is later than when I was finishing with Chapter 11's drawings, I'm still much further ahead because the first five pages are completely coloured and finished. I oughta have this done before Monday, and I can draw the first page of 13 on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I knew Obama was going to win California in any case so, when I voted yesterday, it was mainly to vote against Proposition 8, the proposed amendment to the Californian constitution to deny homosexuals the right to marry. It passed, so I'm back to feeling angry with society.

Not helping is that convicted felon Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" "Internet is a Series of Tubes" Stevens looks likely to retain his seat in the senate. Democrats did not achieve the filibuster-proof majority in the senate, which means we're likely to see plenty more of the senate gridlock we've been seeing since 2006 and it's probably not going to help President Obama's image.

And already Obama's made a decision that's disappointed me by naming Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Emanuel has long struck me as a particularly slimy politician. At least ever since his appearance on Bill Maher where Maher essentially got Emanuel, head of the Democratic Caucus, to admit Democrats were keeping impeachment of Bush off the table because he thought it would make the election of a Democratic president more likely.

I hope Al Franken eventually wins in Minnesota.

I was so happy last night, and here I'm already finding all these rusty linings.

This morning I read the first portion of Caitlin's Sirenia Digest, a vignette called "I AM THE ABYSS AND I AM THE LIGHT". It was a very nice little Science Fiction story, doing what good Sci-Fi ought to do, taking concepts of scientific theory and making them intimate with psychologies of individual characters. This particular story reminded me very strongly of Neon Genesis Evangelion for its engaging with the idea of fundamental isolation. The idea that all humans are, in essence, alone as no two people can ever truly connect. Caitlin says explicitly this is what the story's about in her prolegomena.

As I read, I couldn't help comparing Caitlin's treatment of the concept to Evangelion's. In her prolegomena, Caitlin says she doesn't know if there is a word for the particular fear of isolation that led to the vignette's inception, but Evangelion begins with separation anxiety disorder, only to have Gendo Ikari re-diagnose the condition as the unavoidable, unbearable separation between all human beings. It is what the series refers to as an "Absolute Terror Field", a force field initially only seen as surrounding the Evangelions and the monstrous Angels, the puncturing of which leads to death. So the dissolution of self to combine with the dissolution of other selves is seen by the protagonist oriented factions of the series as something bad and, to Gendo, who might potentially be seen as a series antagonist, as something good and intensely necessary.

The protagonist of Caitlin's story, Ttisa, certainly sees this dissolution and unification as a good thing and, interestingly, the condition is portrayed as far more narcissistic than it is in Evangelion, though it makes a lot of sense. The protagonist's isolation is coupled with an extreme self-absorption that prohibits her from even attempting to empathise with other people. At one point, she is described as not even finding it worth the effort of interpreting the emotions on her boyfriend's face.

The end of the vignette sees the woman dissolving into a communal consciousness with alien entities and she seems to become a wanker of astronomical proportions. In fact, the story seems to suggest that, to people like Ttisa, at least, masturbation is the fullest experience of which a human being is capable.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I am so much happier than I thought I'd be. I thought I'd be happy, but not this fucking happy. They're waxing on on MSNBC right now about what this says in terms of race relations--as well they should. This is extraordinary--this is all the people who were complacent in 2000 getting together and expressing themselves through their vote, this is America getting up on its feet. It's a real beautiful thing. It's almost terrible, actually, that something so beautiful would happen after years of heartbreak. I'm not sure I'm equipped to trust it. But for now, I'm happy.

Incidentally, I'm happy about the presidential election where Barack Obama won, if you're reading this in archives. This was the night Barack Obama became president of the United States of America and I actually felt good about society.
I'll be going to bed in about an hour, and though I plan on voting, I'm guessing the election's going to be pretty much decided by the time I wake up. And, jeez, did this have to be my fucking horoscope on Yahoo;

You can always try to plan ahead in life, but you can't always succeed at mapping out your future down to the last minute. So don't get to feeling hopeless if something you really really thought was going to happen just doesn't look like it's going to pan out after all. You had things all lined up, and now you're just going to have to line them up in a new configuration. This is actually a very good day for you -- you're learning a valuable lesson at a very affordable price.

Okay, astrology's bollocks, right? Please? This time for sure? Hopefully there are a lot of Republican Aries . . .

Monday, November 03, 2008

I was just researching something for my comic when I came across this. Completely unrelated to what I was looking for, by the way;

Happy birthdays to the November 3rd trio; Trisa, Moira, and Franklin. May your fortunes triple. Apparently to-day's also Kevin Murphy's birthday.

Last night I dreamt I was either having lunch or sex with someone. It was one or the other, I can't remember which. For some reason I've had a lot of trouble remembering my dreams lately.

I've felt oddly complacent lately, too, like I'll accept anything that comes along. All the trailers before Zack and Miri Make a Porno looked good, even the ones for movies I'm pretty sure are going to suck. For some reason, they were nearly all trailers for horror movies, including one with Gary Oldman co-written by David Goyer that looked like maybe an Omen movie, but I'm not sure it was.

Oh, here it is. The Unborn. Huh. I guess it's a Jewish version of The Omen. Looks like it's directed by Goyer, too. It's going to suck so hard. I guess this is what comes of the undeserved cred Goyer got from The Dark Knight.

To-day I've a particularly difficult page to draw. Yesterday's was supposed to be easy, but I ended up adding a bunch of maybe unnecessary flourishes.

Here's a little Venia's Travels bonus feature for you;

That's a doodle of Wircelia and Kakeshya from my school notebook, drawn in March or April. For some reason I envisioned Wircelia early on tossing fish around like the Swedish Chef.

The teacher saw me drawing it while we were supposed to be having group discussions about Paradise Lost. "It's a gorgon," I said. "It's a mythological creature, it's relevant." I still think Milton would dig it.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I went to La Jolla to-day planning on picking up some more bottles of wine from Trader Joes. You know both Anne Rice and John McCain have houses in La Jolla? I'm not sure what that implies. Maybe she unearthed him in her basement.

Trader Joes sells Charles Shaw wine which, despite costing only two dollars a bottle, is actually genuinely good. The Trader Joes is located in a miniature mall-like shopping building . . . thing. While I was there, I saw Zack and Miri Make a Porno. I hadn't planned it, I think I saw it mainly because it started five minutes after I'd looked at the show times posted in the box office. This is what happens when I go too long without seeing movies--I have to get my fix without coordination.

I'm glad I did, though. Zack and Miri Make a Porno is Kevin Smith's most natural feeling movie since Dogma, though Zack and Miri is certainly formulaic. For a long time now, Smith has desperately been trying to make formulas work for him. He made his breaks with natural, free range movies like Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, but Smith has a lot of respect for the simple pleasures in life, and one of those simple pleasures is simple movies. The trouble is, if audiences sense a formula, they feel insulted. You have to give them what they want without reminding them that they want it, and with Jersey Girl and, to a certain extent, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks 2, Smith didn't have the instincts to construct a "well-made" movie. Now, he's finally a lot closer, mainly by embracing his sweet, filthy humour.

Roger Ebert said something extremely insightful in his review of Zack and Miri Make a Porno; "Kevin Smith begins with the advantage of being raised with deeply embedded senses of sin and guilt. He's 38, and he still believes sex is dirty, and that it's funny to shock people with four-letter words and enough additional vulgarisms to fill out a crossword puzzle."

Ebert goes on to call this endearing, and it is. Smith strikes a rare balance of being unrelentingly filthy while not being jaded about it. This is Smith's true talent, and it's his natural vehicle for telling stories. He uses it to flesh out the skeleton of a romantic comedy here, and it works.

Last night I watched Tim play a bit of Fallout 3, and it's almost exactly what I thought it would be. The graphics and size of the world are not only as impressive as Oblivion's, those aspects feel remarkable like Oblivion. I suppose this is a side effect of the same game engine being used. All the voice actors are the same, too. And, unfortunately, the dialogue seems to be just as awful, and makes a pathetic attempt at emulating the wonderful humour of the previous Fallout games. Though, it does seem to be a step up from Oblivion in terms of writing. At least the speechcraft skill is genuinely useful in quests and Oblivion's boring ass colour wheel is absent.

I suppose I ought to withhold further judgement until I've actually played the game myself.

So, instead, I'll judge the pizza I had after the movie to-day; fantastic. Ricotta cheese, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms. Obscenely good.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy birthday, Chris Walsh. Chris always writes poems for people on their birthdays, so to-day I decided to write him a gangsta rap.

The Day Chris Walsh Took Over

Taking over the world from the motherfuckin' dogs
Chris Walsh smoking joints and the motherfuckin' laws
Watch out for a Chris with a cause
Smokin' fuckers with no pause

Fast forward--
No coward
Homies and Walsh, East Side, GUN POWDER
White tower
Motherfucking tower of crack gonna rain down in a shower
Nine o'clock, Saturday, should be with my bitches in a shower
Thugs bustin' in around, passing shit around like flour

Hit the motherfuckin' ground!
What? The motherfuckin' cops is all around!

Taking over the world from the motherfucking dogs
Chris Walsh smoking joints and the motherfuckin' laws
Watch out for a Chris with a cause
Smokin' fuckers with no pause

Your mind
Kid Chris with his gats is out the door in a fucking blind
Only so far a thug's mind you wind
Before he blows out your motherfucking mind
Bullets lined
Streets in lights red and blue and us in a motherfuckin' bind

One, two
Motherfuckin' cops was through
Chris Walsh reigning East Side like motherfuckin' Xanadu
So whatchya gonna do?
Chris Walsh gonna bust a cap in you

Anyway, that's my rhymes. Yesterday was a nice enough Halloween. My sister and I watched The Shining--it's always nice to see that movie.

I have a few things I want to do to-day. I said Chapter 12 was tough, but actually the first four pages were really easy. It's the last three that'll give me real trouble.

By the way, someone, who shall remain nameless, was somewhat alarmed by yesterday's entry, so, just to clarify in case anyone's concerned, no, I did not encounter a fish monster at a sushi restaurant on Thursday. It actually took place Wednesday. Kidding!