Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Groundhog's Latest Press Conference

Last night's tweets;

My favourite Pokemon is Purin.
Might want to see new
Ghostbusters movie.
Thinking again of
Children of Hurin.
My absinthe is protected from UV.

I'd really like to look forward to Ghostbusters III, which is apparently definitely in development. It can't be worse than the second (I'd like to think) and the screenwriters coming from the American version of The Office would seem to be a good sign, though I've only seen the first two seasons of that show. It's going to have to be a very different animal from the first film, though. One of the best things about the first movie is the beginning that established these guys in a world that feels real--the beginning of Stripes is great for the same reason, but the strangeness of the latter portion of Stripes isn't quite as interesting as the strangeness in Ghostbusters, in my opinion.

But I'm speaking as a fan of the 1980s cartoon series, which the new Ghostbusters video game, which reunites the original cast of the movie, seems to resemble. The cartoon series' head writer, J. Michael Straczynski, wrote the screenplay for the recent Clint Eastwood movie Changeling staring Angelina Jolie, so he'd actually be kind of a get now for Ghostbusters III. It's funny how the wheel turns.

They were talking about Bill Murray movies on The Howard Stern Show yesterday, and Stern talked about not enjoying Murray's performance in Caddyshack. I kind of agree--the great thing about Murray's performances is that you're always kind of laughing with him, even when he's playing a complete asshole. Which is incredibly useful when you want to get an audience interested in a character before they start learning some lessons. It's potential for a good arc, but the caricature he plays in Caddyshack just doesn't have that. Though, on the other hand, I still think Bill Murray's the best thing about Caddyshack.

Stern named Groundhog Day as one of his favourite Bill Murray movies, which put me in the mood to watch it again while eating dinner last night. I remember in the DVD commentary Harold Ramis talking about Danny Rubin, the screenwriter, only agreeing to allow Ramis to make the movie because Ramis promised to refrain from adding a sequence at the beginning before Phil gets stuck in the time loop. Ramis quickly went back on his word, and it's not hard to see why since avoiding Phil first discovering his predicament would've missed a great deal of potential for comedy, not to mention the character arc that really makes the movie work. But it's interesting to think about Rubin's idea for the film and how it would have started, with Phil having been forced to re-live the same day already for years. With the filmmakers carefully plotting how such a guy might act before starting, watching him onscreen might have been like studying an alien--you'd wonder if he's crazy, maybe psychic. It might have been a bit like David Cronenberg's underappreciated film Spider.

I stopped following the Something Awful forum discussions about me yesterday. They just didn't seem worth my time--there's more being said than I have time to read, anyway, which is actually why I'm not very good at following forums even when it's not all about me. I got a hit from the twitter page of the author, apparently, of the talking owls comic I made reference to, who prefaced the link with the comment, "This just in: hard-core comics full of rape and violence are superior to my silly little comics about talking owls and cats and crap." It gave me enough of a peek at the logic at work--apparently me saying other people considered the talking owls comic superior meant I was saying my comic was superior. For the record, I have no idea how good the talking owl comic is, I only glanced at it. But I kind of like the idea of hatred for me spilling out of Something Awful and into the general internet--kids, if you're reading, and you hate me, be sure to spread the word.

Almost Forgot About This

Twitter Sonnet #3

Dollhouse might be Vertigo the series.
Jefferson Memorial has mutants.
Half pencilled page is all Friday carries.
Winter length wrought by team of consultants.
I have stayed up past planned time yet again.
Pea soup slipped out of the can like Play-Doh.
Saw Tim but came back to draw after ten.
I think there are some sylphs I'd like to know.
Better burrito to-day at new place.
Folks at Something Awful think I'm creepy.
Need to find a spot for my guitar case.
Why don't I go to bed when I'm sleepy?
The cat in my dream could only say "cat".
I saw two yellow dogs, happy and fat.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm a Creep

Last night's tweets;

Better burrito to-day at new place.
Folks at Something Awful think I'm creepy.
Need to find a spot for my guitar case.
Why don't I go to bed when I'm sleepy?

I have achieved infamy. More infamy, I mean. First there was this Something Awful thread that started out with people talking about how the writing in my comics is good but the artwork could be better. Then there was this thread where people spent all day hating my work, personality, and face. The consensus there seems to be that I'm very creepy and batshit insane.

The people at Something Awful seem to have extremely high blood pressure. I couldn't find any statement neutral enough to avoid pissing a lot of people off, which was why I enjoyed reading the second thread a little more. People there dropped the thin pretence of constructive criticism and gave in to the reckless hate underneath. People feverishly discussed and re-posted artwork they considered morally reprehensible, adding violent jokes of their own while using icons featuring Nathan Explosion with his eyes gouged out or dismembered cartoon characters. I was urged to respect realism by people who pointed to comics of talking cats and owls as examples of superior works.

It seemed like some people in the first discussion were trying to come up with some intelligent commentary, but it was like flashes of a cigarette lighter in the middle of the desert at night. Even people who were trying to be thoughtful were basing their criticisms on things people made up about my comic and had gained steam--at some point someone referred to Gerounet as Venia's uncle and now it seems to be canon. A lot of people seem to be uncomfortable with drawings of vaginas and they seem to equate them with violence against women--pages depicting consensual sex have been shown as examples of rape scenes. No one seems to mind the penises. Sometimes I wondered if I was looking at a rectory forum.

Last I checked, the first conversation had gotten into the well worn argument that because someone's work has featured rape on multiple occasions it means he's a misogynist. Which I guess means I also really like killing people and I must love fire since I've shown it on multiple occasions. I'm sure there are people who mean well, but I just don't have time to keep repeating myself because people can't be bothered to read more carefully. But I guess I'm flattered to be the focus of so many confused and insecure people. I'm glad I could stave off the demons for them for another day.

I watched the pilot episode of Twin Peaks last night, the one that came in the new gold collector's set. You can tell this one has David Lynch's approval from the lack of scene selection. And it's also beautiful, very high resolution even though what I acquired is only the regular DVD edition. I broke my VHS edition by accidentally closing my car trunk on it in 1998 or 1999 and figured I'd just replace it with the DVD edition when it came out. Little did I know it would take a decade. But even having not watching it in so long--except for an inferior bootleg copy a couple years ago--didn't dispel the millions of times I watched it in high school. Lynch is always better fresh, but it is still great to watch.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Barrels for Thimbles

Last night's tweets;

I have stayed up past planned time yet again.
Pea soup slipped out of the can like Play-Doh.
Saw Tim but came back to draw after ten.
I think there are some sylphs I'd like to know.

The last line doesn't really mean anything, but I bet sylphs are interesting to know.

It doesn't seem like a good thing that the cans of pea soup I've been getting tend to fall out of the can maintaining a distinct can shape. Possibly it's a side effect of these "no salt added" cans of soup. But they're so good. I had a can of Amy's minestrone about a week ago with the standard 40% or so daily recommended sodium content, and it just tasted like salt water.

I watched the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles with breakfast yesterday. Not a terribly interesting episode. I know Sarah's in a kind of weird place emotionally, and the sensitivity of the moment may have clouded her judgement, but, ladies, if you want to show a guy you have a possibly cancerous lump in your breast and you don't plan on making out with him, it's probably best to tell him what you're doing when you put his hand on your chest.

Spent way too much time to-day on the Something Awful forum. I kind of got to the point that arguing with people who think they have objective reasons for not liking my work but actually don't kind of does a disservice to people who like my work, so I think I'll try and leave it alone for now. Anyway, I have a lot yet to do to-day and it's already six fucking thirty . . .

The Right Heads

I want to respond to a couple more things said about my comic on the Something Awful forum.

I stand by my assertion that a lot of the problems people seem to be specifically pointing out about my comic are a matter of taste. When it comes to the concept of talking heads--in other words, groups of panels that tend to feature nothing but a character's head and what they're saying--I really don't mind the criticism. I know the degree to which I use talking heads goes against the grain, but I'm using them to "excess" on purpose. Instead of cramming a lot of dialogue into a couple panels, I like thinking of paragraph breaks as moments where a character gets maybe a new facial expression or demonstrates that he or she is maintaining the same expression.

As for the idea that I need to shift viewer position more often during pure dialogue sequences, this gets in the way of the aesthetic idea most dear to me, particularly with Venia's Travels, that the story should be told from the point of view of only a couple characters, and consistently. In this case, the whole comic's told from Venia's perspective, and one of the ways I maintain this is through eyeline--when a character's talking to Venia, they seem to be looking at the viewer. When Venia's talking, she seems to be looking off panel, and her backgrounds tend to be more minimalist.

A poster named "angryblackguy" attempted to actually recolour some of my work to demonstrate to me how it ought to be done properly, and with all due respect to Angry Black Guy, I actually prefer my own colouring;

To my mind, Angry Black Guy's take, which is the bottom image, makes Venia look older and distributes the light source oddly. It's a matter of taste, I'm sure, because he probably doesn't see it that way. He also says the even spacing of the eyes is a mark of an amateur, but is something I'd again have to label a matter of taste. I've been drawing people since I was small, I've experimented with all different placements and sizes of eyes, and this currently happens to be what I like best for several characters in the current comic.

He concludes by saying, "People will scrutinize your flaws more than your good work. Either fix the flaws or remove them altogether."

To which I'd reply that if I did that, I wouldn't be drawing at all, since practically everything I do is considered a flaw by someone. A lot of the flaws pointed out in this discussion--my lettering, my talking heads--are things people have volunteered compliments on in the past. I think my art's flawed but I need it to tell my story. In short, I'm doing my best, but if someone wants to do a better job for me, they're welcome to.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Vampire Horse of a Different Colour

A sudden boost in hits alerted me to the fact that my comics are being discussed on the Something Awful forum to-day, which I love--and I hesitate to acknowledge I've read--because I instantly get a boatload of critique with no mind for sparing my feelings. I feel a weird glee at all the people talking about how much better my artwork could be. Though the fact that it's accompanied by positive comments regarding my writing probably does a lot to soothe my ego.

But I actually wanted to get involved with this discussion. The trouble is, apparently it costs money or something to register at the Something Awful forums, and I can't afford it right now. I'm not going to knock the forum for it--it actually seems to've created an abnormally civil atmosphere for an internet forum. I see rmg is involved in the discussion, and if you could refer people on the forum to this post, rmg, I'd greatly appreciate it.

To people wondering about how I draw the comic, as one person guessed, I do indeed pencil and ink on paper and colour on the computer--I use a shareware version of Paint Shop Pro 5 I've had since 1998. As for quality of the artwork, partly I think it's a matter of taste, but I've always been dissatisfied with it myself, particularly when I see gorgeous comics like The Phoenix Requiem. Though, on the other hand, I do dislike the airbrushed look of a lot of modern comics colouring. Matter of taste, again.

Someone criticised the panels that feature blank, solid colour backgrounds--For one thing, I personally rather like them because they allow me potential to express energy and mood in another way, but they're also something borne of necessity. I work on 9x12 pieces of sketchbook paper with 0.5 millimetre tip pens. I don't have the resources to obtain a better set up, and if I did, working with larger pages would slow me down and I think the pace at which I produce the comic is an important component to the flow--my philosophy on art and writing is greatly influenced by Jack Kerouac, though I do a lot more editing than he really believed in.

That being said--to the person who wished Boschen and Nesuko would be redone with better art--I would have absolutely no objection to any artist who wishes to do this, provided none of the writing, blocking, or scenery was modified without consulting me. I'd also suggest attention to facial expressions is the single most important thing as far as art for my comics goes.

A poster named Reiley commented; "The coloring is elementary at best, as details like highlights and shadows in the hair seem to be applied arbitrarily and do not accurately describe the roundness of the head nor the shape and volume of hair, and the two-step shadow gradient under brown-hair's chin and only under her chin stands out as being particularly odd."

To which I'd respond, two dimensional cartoon art invariably employs an impressionist take on the three dimensional world. That's why we still have anime in a world where cgi exists. I make creative decisions regarding the lighting and shape that don't always correspond to reality, partly based on my aesthetic ideals and needs for a particular scene, and partly based on my imperfect conception of the world. In a way, I think the value of art is in transcribing the artist's delusions for all to see. It's one of the things that sets us apart from cameras--though cameras are certainly capable of rendering a point of view.

But, again, I know I'm not the best artist on the internet. As for the difference between the shadows under Venia's and Wircelia's chins, I will say that it seemed to me it'd be slightly darker under Venia's chin because there's more hair framing her face than Wircelia's. That doesn't mean I'm "right", it's just how I see things, and I don't think anyone's "wrong" for disliking it.

Anyway, if anyone from the forum finds their way here, thank you for reading, I appreciate the comments, and I'm glad if you enjoyed my work.

Tweets of last night;

Dollhouse might be Vertigo the series.
Jefferson Memorial has mutants.
Half pencilled page is all Friday carries.
Winter length wrought by team of consultants.

I think the groundhog is outsourcing--this after he took a bailout. The mutants in the Jefferson Memorial is a Fallout 3 reference because I was playing it at Tim's house last night.

Dollhouse as Vertigo is a discussion I've sort of already had elsewhere--last night's episode isn't as good as the sixth episode with Patton Oswalt, but it was a fun jumbling of the playing field, actually. Still rooting for this show.

But I'd much rather talk about something the excellent Ana Marie Cox twittered a few minutes ago; "An article bemoaning the movies with less-than-evil vampires, because that's obv the first step to them WINNING: http://is.gd/pj7C ?"

This is a National Review article, so it's an insight into the right-wing position on romantic vampire media. It's rather impressive when someone's xenophobia carries over to fictional creatures, but the general thrust of Tony Woodlief's argument is that we can't forget that people are good and vampires are evil. I wish I could direct him and anyone reading this to Peter Straub's excellent introduction to this edition of Dracula because Straub discussed far more eloquently the Victorian fear of sexuality that inhabits the book than I ever could. Tony Woodlief's article tosses aside the whole idea that there was anything having to do with sexual hangups in the Victorian psyche without even beginning to support his argument, never mind the book's clear view of Jonathon Harker's infidelity with the vampire women, or the novel's reflection of a Victorian xenophobia that regarded Eastern Europe as sexually amoral.

I've never read Twilight and I haven't seen the movie--though I hear it's soon to be Rifftraxed and I'm looking forward to it with great eagerness. But it sounds like Woodlief's criticism of the book is merely a retread of the old argument against the romanticism of the "bad boy". Heaven forbid kids grow up thinking some bad people are redeemable--but Woodlief also misses the point that the bad boys in fluff tend to be anything but. They wear leather jackets and are a bit sullen maybe, but usually the world around the standard bad boy goes out of its way to act stupid whenever he's around, thereby giving the reader and/or avatar protagonist the position of being the only one who can see how good the boy is on the inside. Actual bad boys usually have the actual world against them, so these works of fiction aren't going to do a great deal to lobotomise young girls who aren't lobotomised already.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Naked Lesbian Horseback Riding in Burning Valhalla

And here it is;

Twitter Sonnet #2

Desktop currently is "The Nymphaeum".
I've been thinking about women all day.
Lunch burrito boring to the atom.
Wonder where when you need them are the fey?
DVD-ROM is a bit off its game.
Japanese for sleepy is "nemui".
Saw two kittens, one feral and one tame.
Louie's better than Huey or Dewey.
One Yankovic night for every Wagner.
Thursday was an important day for bread.
Earth-like planets bear bodies of water.
Had hardly any trouble getting fed.
Cartoon last night; sex slave saved by girl prince.
Coffee's a daily dose of liquid sense.

I listened to "Weird Al" Yankovic most of the night last night after a solid day of Wagner the day before. Though I did listen to Bowie's "Heroes" once in the afternoon and Lodger twice.

I actually just got Lodger. Back when I was in my Bowie obsessive period, I held off getting Lodger in the vague idea of keeping one album fresh for a rainy day. It's a good album--and exactly what I'd expected in a lot of ways. Less extreme than the other two in the Berlin trilogy, and more theoretical. The songs on Low and "Heroes" seem more driven, Lodger seems more about working through ideas and telling stories.

I watched the final episode of Revolutionary Girl Utena last night. Though the Lynch influence had dropped off significantly, the show did, like most anime series of the past decade, fall under the spell of Evangelion influence, featuring a character speared from all directions by sharp objects, psychoanalytical internal monologues, black and white sketchy animation, and rampant symbolic imagery. Though in that last respect I was reminded of the Wagner operas I've been listening to lately--people doing outrageously big things that seem to have some relationship to internal drama. Everything is a decadent symbol for the artist's impression of the heart of a conflict--we see the sex slave Rose Bride, Himemiya, pierced by swords because she kills the one who tried to save her, people sleeping in coffins because they can't face life, and so on. It's all very beautiful, but sort of cold, too.

I'm having a bit of a tie problem right now;

Some remnants of the two jobs I've had where I had to wear a tie every day. Now I don't have a good place for them. I guess I'd better go look for a proper hanger.

Has everyone read the story of Miley Cyrus getting snubbed by Radiohead and her plans to "ruin them" in response? On the one hand, aside from being a plastic, shallow pop star, Cyrus is probably just a kid wanting to see her favourite band, so I feel a little bad. On the other hand--guess what, Miley? You're not someone legitimate artists are particularly interested in meeting. Here's the line money, grease, and aggressive ad campaigns can't breach. It's hard enough to find it nowadays . . .

I've kind of lost enthusiasm for Soul Eater, so I've been rewatching His and Her Circumstances the past couple days with breakfast. I can tell when a genuinely talented director is at work, and Hideaki Anno is a genuinely talented director. It's a wonderful thing to see.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Words to Live By

"That's when I knew it was true love. We were inseparable after that. We ate together, we bathed together, we even shared the same piece of mint-flavoured dental floss. The world was our burrito." - "Weird Al" Yankovic

"The Sheep are All Lost in the Harbour"

Now these tweets float to the surface of the tea;

DVD-ROM is a bit off its game.
Japanese for sleepy is "nemui".
Saw two kittens, one feral and one tame.
Louie's better than Huey or Dewey.

It occurred to me some minutes after posting that the last tweet might be taken as a sign I'm about to go postal. I'm really not--it was about thirty minutes before I fell asleep, I couldn't think of anything better, and, when I was a kid, for some reason I had a serious preference for Louie above the other two. I always roped off these weird allegiances for myself--it was like how I preferred Leonardo above the other Ninja Turtles--everyone else liked Michelangelo or maybe Raphael. My rational was that Leonardo was the leader, he deserved respect and worked the hardest, and he had swords. No fucking around with sticks or knives. Just swords, the first and last word in medieval weaponry.

But I guess I oughta be clear I'm talking about Ducktales' Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The colours corresponded differently than they did in the old cartoons and comics, and I think there was an attempt to distinguish each nephew's personality--Dewey was the geek, Huey was the impetuous one, and Louie was the leader. See, I always aimed for the marginal top. I aimed high, but only by an angle of about two degrees. I was born to be a communist.

The two kittens I was talking about are Saffy, my sister's, and Snow, who I think is still technically a kitten, though he's pretty big now. As for which is the feral and which is the tame, I'm not exactly sure. Snow seems to be left outside to his own devices 24/7 now, but he's infinitely calmer than Saffy the indoor cat, who torpedoed down the stairs several times when I visited my parents' house yesterday.

Someone named "bluehatrider" responded to my burrito related tweet yesterday with the comment; "Burritos are special. But they have to be properly prepared." Which is absolutely true. I remember Jhonen Vasquez returned to the burrito image several times in the intro to one of his Squee comics. Burritos are precious and baby-like, and yet we eat them.

But surrounded by a couple tweets about women as it was, I started thinking about Blue Hat Rider's comment in the context of women--"Women are special. But they have to be properly prepared." I think this is true of both men and women, and I'll speak now as a guy who's been asked out by women more than he's actually asked women out. It's not that I'm not physically attracted to a lot of women, it's just that whether or not I can have an exceptionally good rapport with one is infinitely more important to me, and I don't often have the time, desire, or resources to play the field. The one time I decided to ask a woman out after I decided I was being ridiculous ended in disaster.

But I've seen no hard evidence that women fundamentally require more of a soft landing than men do (mind you, I'm not talking about orgasms here). I can tell you about the time a young lady I barely knew commanded me to go home with her (and off I went) or about a guy I knew who never quite felt he could ask out a girl even though the two of them were clearly into each other and she was visibly impatient for him to do so--she eventually asked him out and no tragedy resulted. There is a very unfair stigma against women who are too assertive, and I don't blame women who are made reluctant because of it. But I think it's a mistake to chalk it all up to internal wiring.

I'd better get to some drawing now. If anyone's wondering about the reference material I used for the drop spindles in the previous chapter--apparently a lot of people on YouTube are eager to demonstrate drop spindle technique. Mostly I watched this woman, who gives those of us who need to know how to draw arms using a drop spindle a good view of them. But the video's also worth watching to hear the astonishingly dull Radiohead cover band she's using as a soundtrack. It sounds like reggae/country fusion and all the songs are from OK Computer. But the lady knows how to spin her wool, I'll give her that.

Of course, in Wethepahn, there are no sheep, only mouflon. I couldn't find out how useful mouflon wool is for making yarn. If it's not, I hereby proclaim that Wethepahn mouflon are special.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Rare Grace of Licentious Pictures

The tweets of last night exposed naked on a rock to-day;

Desktop currently is "The Nymphaeum".
I've been thinking about women all day.
Lunch burrito boring to the atom.
Wonder where when you need them are the fey?

Trying to work in some alliteration now.

Had lunch at a genuine Mexican restaurant next to a Vons (Safeway to most of the world) in La Mesa. As in, the people working there were genuinely Mexican, and I received the hot sauce in a glass bottle as you do from places where they haven't learned the impersonal American practice of putting everything in disposable containers. However, the burrito was astonishingly almost utterly bereft of flavour. I've made better burritos myself. Even the hot sauce was little more than red water.

Remember how Where the Wild Things Are is about abandonment issues and possibly Lawrence of Arabia?

Me neither. But I actually think this could be an incredible movie--I certainly don't mind the idea of Spike Jonze making an expanded story based on his personal interpretation of the book.

The illustrations for that book were absolutely incredible. There was a peculiar life to the monsters' faces--you could see them working things out behind their eyes, wicked, but not as sharp as Max, possibly. The images were so strange, down to the tiny curls of hair, that it seemed they could only be genuine renderings of a hidden country of monsters. I don't think I actually get that impression from the monsters in the trailer, but Spike Jonze has certainly shown a talent for making the strange seem real.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Too Many Stars and Not Enough Sky"

Last night I dreamt of a Spider-Man played by Jake Gyllenhaal hunting the murderer of Tobey Maguire.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my;

Twitter Sonnet #1

I have a bruised apple I am eating.
There'll be no booze to-night, only the fruit.
Please go tell your friends that I am tweeting.
Samus got an item; the high jump boot.
There are no rabbits on the lawn right now.
I need to put my clothes in the dryer.
I partook of the string cheese of the cow.
This is a bit like using a wire.
Scrambled eggs for breakfast hurt my stomach.
It seems I have also got a headache.
Fuck, I sure hope I am not getting sick.
I guess spaghetti should be good to take.
Electronic call woke me up early.
But I fell back to sleep in a hurry.

I see I've lost two followers since yesterday. I'm thinking my life simply isn't interesting enough for Twitter. Well, I also gained two followers. So who knows what I'm doing.

Last night I added myself to the wefollow channels #art, #comics, and #goodfornothing. I made that last one myself and I'm currently the only one on it. If you see other people join, always remember I'm the original good for nothing. I'll keep up the tweeting for a while longer at least. If nothing else, I enjoy pretending I'm an itty bitty bird.

Lots of interesting tweets from the people I'm following. More than I have time to read--this is how our modern culture is changing. We're oversaturated with everything, even quality. It makes it a little harder for people like me to ferment our isolated crazy into an energy ball of creativity with which we blast the world with intermittent hadukens. But I think this may be a situation of something that might kill you also having the potential to make you stronger. In other words, my own creativity has more either to react to or succumb to.

I tried to watch the third Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei OVA with breakfast, but once again, GG is the only group fansubbing it, so it doesn't run properly on my computer. Instead I watched the third episode of Soul Eater, which continues to be cute and fun.

I also watched the ninth episode of Galaxy Express 999, which is a strange and fascinating series from the late 1970s, and not entirely, I suspect, on purpose. I've been watching it very slowly, about an episode for every couple months. Something about it seems to want to be taken that way.

A mysterious woman named Maetel takes a child named Tetsuro with her on a journey aboard the Galaxy Express 999, an old fashioned steam train that nonetheless travels through space, and the series chronicles their encounters with planets, stations, and anomalies where the train stops along the way. One gets the feeling that these stories are based on manga author Leiji Matsumoto's own childhood train journeys with his mother, with a child's mysteries of the world replaced with the adult mysteries of space, violence, and aliens.

So to-day's episode, which at first I thought was a right wing attack on the concept of welfare, upon reflection I determined was actually a version of what a child imagines when his mother tells him they simply can't stop and give money or food to starving beggars. The child's natural inclination to prevent the suffering of so many people has to create a strong counter-conception to be satisfied--so when Tetsuro does give in and feed one of the beggars, he's quickly beset by a mob of people demanding he buy for each of them bowl after bowl of ramen.

The beggars are given purple, green, and orange skin, with the subtle suggestion that the poor are even a different species. Tetsuro, as he himself mentions, was poor when we met him in the first episode, so there has to be more reasons as to why he can't identify with these beggars now.

I had a lot of errands to run yesterday, but still managed to draw and ink a page and colour half of one. Hopefully to-day I'll manage to do even more.

Monday, March 23, 2009

You Can Weather the Storm or You Can Storm the Weather

Last night's tweets;

There are no rabbits on the lawn right now.
I need to put my clothes in the dryer.
I partook of the string cheese of the cow.
This is a bit like using a wire.

The world of Twitter has opened up for me like a balloon giraffe to forceps. Now I'm following David Lynch, Trent Reznor, John Cleese, and many others. Christopher Walken is surprisingly funny in a surreal way and popular. In February, Tom Waits insightfully tweeted, "Commercials are an unnatural use of my work . . . It's like having a cow's udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating."

I think "tweeted" is the right past tense verb. Stephen Colbert says "twatted", much to Meredith Vieira's chagrin.

"Weird Al" Yankovic posted this mildly bizarre photo of himself with Malcolm McDowell and Rob Zombie.

I still don't know how all these people have time to Twitter, but now at least I'm glad they do.

I'm having a David Bowie day. There was a time--about a year--rock music was just David Bowie to me. If I wanted hard 60s rock, I'd listen to The Man Who Sold the World. If I wanted soul, I'd listen to Young Americans or Station to Station, and if I wanted punk, I'd listen to Scary Monsters. I listened to Low and "Heroes" billions of times and Diamond Dogs billions more. If I wanted modern music, I listened to Outside, Black Tie, White Noise, and Earthling. I even liked Tin Machine.

I'll probably work my way through the discography to-day chronologically while drawing, though I have a lot less to draw to-day than yesterday.

I'm pretty excited about this next chapter. I had it written in almost its entirety, down to the small details, in my head halfway through drawing Chapter 21. I compulsively typed it up one night last week about an hour after I ought to've gone to bed.

Last night, while eating dinner, I watched Revolutionary Girl Utena to replace Battlestar Galactica. I'm up to episode thirty five now, and it seems to've moved away from the Lynch influence and back into its own groove. The fairytale flashbacks of Utena being rescued by a prince and proclaiming she wants to be a prince herself one day have sharpened into, apparently, her need to become Himemiya's, The Rose Bride's, prince specifically. That is, it turns out the prince was Himemiya's brother, and her incestuous love for him somehow destroyed the perfection of the prince-who-rescues-princesses archetype, so now it's Utena's job to be the new prince, thereby rescuing Himemiya from herself and the former prince from his new position as End of the World, all using the power of lesbianism. This is a good show.

David Lynch has a new weather report online.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Roofs, Boots, and the Digestible Future

I've decided to try being a little more active with my Twitter account. But I've decided I'll only twitter in iambic pentameter--the element of challenge is what I needed to sweeten the deal. Last night I emitted four tweets;

I have a bruised apple I am eating.
There'll be no booze to-night, only the fruit.
Please go tell your friends that I am tweeting.
Samus got an item; the high jump boot.

I haven't been playing Metroid, but I've been thinking about the high jump boot lately. With this rhyme scheme, I figure I'll have a Shakespearian sonnet for every twelve tweets.

Last night I watched Mary Poppins, which I hadn't seen since I was a kid. As often happens when I watch as an adult some movie I'd seen repeatedly as a child, it seemed less ominous and big, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I've grown so used to any movie I watch that's set in Victorian or Edwardian London being shot on location amongst London's many surviving or restored structures from those periods. So for me, Mary Poppins, shot in Burbank California, was sort of a fascinating novelty. The actors amidst sets and beautiful matte paintings creates an impressionistic London that exists only in this movie. Gloomy, sooty, but richly coloured--its deep dark and light contrasts set it apart from most other Technicolor musicals.

I was strongly reminded of the current financial crisis by what turns out to be the movie's central conflict--Mr. Banks' passion for the illusionary system of investments versus a child's desire to give tuppence to a homeless woman. Poppins' description of Banks as a man who can't see past his own nose contrasted with the more instinctual delight of children seeing talking penguins is sort of a fascinating war of magic--pouring one's love, energy, and time into a nebulous, possible future reward versus immediate, human affection for beauty and people.

I bought this 45th anniversary edition a couple weeks ago, but last night was the first chance I had to watch it. It's not blu-ray, but the resolution doesn't seem to be very much smaller than those hi-def videos I've accidentally downloaded now and again. As usual for Disney DVDs lately, it has an audio commentary not listed on the box. Commentaries are the only reason I buy DVDs anymore--wish Disney was hip to that. It was kind of a gamble buying this. Maybe you think the commentary wasn't mentioned because it's a guy who animated one of the turtles and the guy who bought paints? No, actually it's commentary by Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, who played Jane Banks, and songwriters Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman. You'd think you'd want to advertise this amongst the special features.

I watched the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles with dinner last night. Very disappointing after the two previous very good episodes. The dopiest moment was Sarah punchily implying to Cameron that future John had sent her back in time so he could be away from her. So Sarah goes out of character to say something that doesn't make any sense. Great.

I feel like I may need an extra dose of caffeine to-day--feeling a bit dim and I have a lot of drawing to do . . .

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Too Much Confusion?

I finally gave up trying to play Knights of the Old Republic 2 last night. It crashed my computer again, and I'm tired of replaying the same scenes when the save files get corrupted. But I had a good gaming experience last night at Tim's, playing more Fallout 3. It's been so long since I enjoyed a first person shooter, and the VATs system takes it to a whole new level--I was picking off mercenaries and robots twice my level by waiting around a corner, and when they'd blunder into view I'd active VATs and aim at their heads, arms, or legs. There were some interesting Robbie the Robot looking robots with human brains in the glass domes mounted on top of them--an exploitable weak point, to be sure.

I actually watched the series finale of Battlestar Galactica on television last night, seeing commercial blocks for the first time in at least four months, I think. And Sci-Fi Channel has always had an especially large quantity of commercials. I don't know if I could've gotten through it if it wasn't for the whiskey I was drinking. Though I thought it was kind of funny that there were several commercials for Hulu.

I liked the Battlestar Galactica finale. I didn't love it.

I often suspect I'm an asshole. I honestly wish I had as easy a time enjoying things as other people seem to, because I feel like I might be alienating a lot of people. But when watching Battlestar Galactica, I have to make some allowances--one is that it's not a remotely likely conception of extraterrestrial life, even extraterrestrial human life, and one assumes it wasn't meant to be. It's pretty much impossible to predict what a completely alien culture would be like. Most space operas, even knowing this, like to be creative with their aliens, but Battlestar Galactica decided to try going in the opposite direction, not only making the aliens look and act human, but giving them a lot of contemporary technology, clothing, hairstyles, and names. I have nothing against this--the world's gotten too small. You can't tell Gulliver's Travels nowadays about undiscovered human countries where most customs and manners aren't much different from our own in order to emphasis the one or two points that are different.

However, this also means when you tell me ways in which this alien culture might be directly related to our own, it feels like a waste of time. When you also tell me these people did things that don't make a lot of sense, like throwing all of their ships and most of their technology into the sun when there's as much of a chance of evil Cylons finding this new "Earth" as there was them finding New Caprica, it annoys me. Also, the odd suggestion that being a farmer is inherently more noble than being a scientist, or any vocation requiring one not to handicap oneself, isn't a message I'm particularly inclined to agree with or enjoy on any level, particularly coming from writers of a Science Fiction television series.

And another thing I have to adjust to when watching Battlestar Galactica is that it's a story of people in terribly desperate living situations written by people who don't seem to have a very clear idea of what that's like and yet seem to hold up such people as being fundamentally more noble. Lee's decision, apparently for the entire human race, not to "build cities" as Lampkin suggested, is a good example of this rather fuzzy grasp of how countries and societies come together and are built. I wanted Lampkin to respond, "Really? That's too bad, because those guys were set to build some condos, those folks wanted to make a laundromat, and this lady was thinking of opening a toy shop. But I'll tell them to scrap everything, which is probably a good idea because I was starting to get an inkling we'd have to build things also having to do with sanitation, healthcare, and shelter." Apparently Lampkin didn't mind abandoning ambitions as a celebrity lawyer any more than the representatives on the quorum minded abandoning their political careers.

So, yeah. I liked bits of character--I liked Boomer switching sides again and getting shot for it. I liked the action sequences and I guess I dug the multiple Star Wars references. Dean Stockwell was great. Baltar turning the tide by explaining God didn't particularly care about anyone made absolutely no sense. Hera being held by Baltar for a moment seemed a pretty dull payoff for Roslin and Athena's visions they've been having for a year and a half.

Starbuck's resolution was okay, though it would've been better if she'd actually been the harbinger of death people kept saying she was.

Caprica acting superior to Baltar was a bit grating--she's most directly responsible for most of the destruction on Caprica, she strangled a baby for kicks. What did Baltar do? Apparently he got really mad at his father when he stabbed his nurse. What a faux pas.

I loved Lampkin getting appointed president--Lee ought to've said, "You know, I really ought to have a vice president and probably at least a couple aids who'd be better suited for this, but the fact is, you're the last character in the fleet and for some reason we're not oh-so-subtly suggesting you're a coward for even thinking about not going on a suicide mission that promises to accomplish very little in the grand scheme of things. Congratulations."

Apparently "All Along the Watchtower" has been written and recorded before and will be written and recorded again.

But it was a nice show. Now I need to find something else to watch while eating dinner . . .

Greener Pastures

Friday, March 20, 2009

Marilyn Monroe Came Out of the Sea

Don't tell me anything else about Nicolas Sarkozy--he's decided to present David Cronenberg with the Medal of Knight to the French National Order of the Legion of Honour. As far as I'm concerned, Sarkozy's just qualified as one of the greatest world leaders ever.

Yesterday I visited the Hotel del Coronado, the famous resort hotel built in 1888 and, according to Wikipedia, it's the place where "L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, did much of his writing . . . and is said to have based his designs for the Emerald City on the hotel." One of its rooms is supposedly haunted, of course.

It's also featured in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot for the exterior shots of the movie's fictional Florida hotel. I took pictures; mine are the ones without Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, or Tony Curtis;

It hasn't really changed too much. Lots more stuff in front, like a swimming pool and little houses for the ridiculously wealthy to rent. I saw one teenage boy sulking behind the gates, lamenting his terribly privileged lot.

I couldn't quite get the right angle for this shot because there's a cafe standing where Some Like It Hot's cameraman evidently was. Actually, I hadn't watched Some Like It Hot in ages when I took these pictures--that I got comparable shots at all is thanks to luck and the fact that the digital camera takes massive photos with which I have a lot of freedom cropping.

All the fun you can't have on the nearby beach. What's everyone got against nudity, anyway?

A pool on the beach.

A row of rocks were right at the edge of the water.

Some shops underneath the hotel. The interiors for Some Like It Hot were not shot here, which is too bad because the dark wood walls are really gorgeous and sort of intimidating.

The lobby. I was among three other people taking pictures so I didn't feel very out of place, but I wish I could figure out how to tell my camera not to automatically turn the flash back on after I've turned it off.

The lobby chandelier.

Massive trees outside.

I took this actually at Grossmont Centre mall where I stopped for a burrito on the way back. Sunsets always look sort of nice with those hills.

Last night, I watched episode nineteen of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season, and once again, Baltar's gone back to being the most interesting character. There's hardly any competition--I mean, he's trying to find his value as a person after living a life that's made him hate himself--what other character has a conflict going on even close to that? Adama's sad his ship's going away, Starbuck wants to know how she came back from the dead, and Lee . . . I don't know, I guess he had a hard time catching a pigeon that once flew into Starbuck's apartment.

And, gods, I didn't think I could hate Roslin more. I'm convinced Mary McDonnell loathes the role--her performance is like a piano player hitting every sour note possible, all her mugging little "ah"s and "hmm"s that she seems to feel are applicable to any situation. We got to watch her walking into the middle of a public fountain and get really wet. Great. You know--and I'm addressing this to Ronald D. Moore--if you have a thing for milfs or cougars, I'm happy for you, really. You have my blessing. But just because it's unusual to objectify old women, doesn't mean it's not going to be tedious for those of us who don't share your fetish. I didn't mind when the show kept jizzing on Lee's abs, because he was a decent enough character in addition to that, and I liked Jamie Bamber's performance well enough.

I'm looking forward to the last episode, though. I have no predictions, really, except I bet Starbuck dies.

Remember, new Venia's Travels to-day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Venia and Bad Influence

A new Venia's Travels is online.

Dreams of Math

I dreamt last night I was on a freeway I'd never been on before and discovered it took me to Jedi Academy levels, and I realised that all locations in video games existed in the real world, and cgi was a scam.

Want to see a portrait in abject cowardice? Likely by now you've seen Jon Stewart's recent interview with Jim Cramer, wherein Stewart takes Cramer to task for cheerleading the theoretical money shifting system that's a big part of our economic problems to-day and has never really amounted to more than high stakes gambling in different clothes. In that interview, Cramer can be seen stumbling over himself to placate Stewart, saying he would change his entire show in response to Stewart's criticism, laying pathetic flattery at Stewart's feet at the end of the interview.

Compare that with this To-day Show appearance by Cramer, where he calls Stewart's attacks on the media "naive and misleading". Really? A comedian making jokes about the media is naive? What about airline food? Is it naive to make fun of airline food? Ridiculous is as ridiculous does, Mr. Cramer. Sort of like not having the guts to call Stewart naive to his face.

I wished I had my camera with me when I was in La Jolla yesterday. It was a clear day, and suddenly a fog came off the ocean and rolled over the hills like a blanket. It was strange and beautiful.

Last night I watched episode seventeen of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season and I watched eighteen with breakfast to-day. That's only two days of watching two episodes, and somehow, without planning it, I'm catching up with the show at almost the precise moment it's ending. It feels a bit premature, really--I'd like to see the Cylons and humans learning to coexist. I liked episode eighteen a lot more than seventeen. There's a bit more sentimentality going on than I'm really built to enjoy, but I love watching Tricia Helfer and Grace Park playing a hundred different characters each. It's absurd they're even bothering with recaps at the beginning of the episodes--how's a new viewer supposed to make sense of this? Of course the recaps are more for rewriting history than for anything else.

I wonder if George Lucas will poach Battlestar Galactica talent for his live action Star Wars series premiering next year. I bet he'll try to get some Farscape writers. I certainly hope he takes from both pools--I'm actually feeling a bit hopeful about that series.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"To-night You've Presumed Too Much"

With breakfast this afternoon, I watched the first episode of an anime series Tim recommended to me about a week ago, Soul Eater, a 2008 series based on a 2003 manga about an "academy" of paranormal hunters whose mission is to kill demons and eat their souls. It's not bad--Halloween cute. I particularly liked the first segment where the female lead, Maka and her scythe, named Soul, who manifests as a teenage boy, hunted and fought Jack the Ripper, whose soul apparently manifested in the Soul Eaters' world looking like this;

It's a neat design, maybe not too original, but I enjoyed it, and watching him crawl about, swinging those big metal claws versus Maka swinging her scythe was some well animated fun. Lots of good animation and some very cute and somehow genuinely disturbing design for the spirit city for its shear, manic loudness. I liked this sun, which was constantly laughing;

Soul's character is obsessed with being a "cool guy" and his attempt at being a paragon of detached masculinity is undermined when a cat posing as a naked witch immediately gives him a nosebleed, the anime shorthand for extreme sexual arousal or ejaculation. Soul and Maka seem to be involved in the familiar awkward teenage romance of many an anime, which actually seems to suit their environment and jobs--children, are of course, best suited to be killers for their undeveloped morality and the childishness inherent in sadism. To love children, you have to be kind of cool with sadism, too.

I watched The Quiet Man last night at my parents' house, which my mother likes to think of as a Saint Patrick's Day tradition. That movie is certainly one of John Ford's most beautiful, which is really saying something since his movies are always beautifully shot. Which is why it's such a shame that there doesn't seem to be a good print of it on the market.

I only watched one episode of Battlestar Galactica last night, episode sixteen of the fourth season. Far from the best episode of the series, the stuff with Baltar especially dispiriting. I know we're supposed to take his followers as young idiots, but James Callis' performance projects so much of his true motives through his proclamations to them that we have to take them as cartoonishly dumb. Baltar's character in the fourth season swings wildly on an episode by episode basis from an interesting portrait of a man who's done bad or cowardly things and has achieved a kind of wisdom from it, to a sort of Wile E. Coyote version of the morally fragile character he was earlier in the series. His wardrobe in the past year and a half alone has reflected the confusion about his character--from his Abbey Road look late in the third season, to his early twentieth century aviator look at the beginning of this season, to the nice neurotic guy t-shirt look he sports now, it seems like one writer after another is presenting a theory as to who Baltar is, only to have the board scrubbed clean again by the next episode.

And, ye gods, was Ellen ever annoying in that sixteenth episode. This after she was kind of cool in the God/Satan argument with Dean Stockwell in the previous episode, pretty much the only episode where I liked Ellen. So much for that.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

For What Died the Sons of Roslin?

Listening to an entirely Irish playlist now--Pogues, Dubliners, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, and, of course, Morrissey. He's got Irish blood, you know. There's no one on Earth he's afraid of.

I'm going to my parents' house for Saint Patrick's Day--I'm bringing my Jameson. The whiskey, not the porn star. But, since I overslept, I don't have much time right now. I actually watched two episodes of Battlestar Galactica last night, fourteen and fifteen. I enjoyed the way the coup resolved, and I enjoyed Baltar and Gaeta's final conversation on a sort of theoretical level--I just can't seem to take Gaeta seriously, his whole story is just a little too melodramatic for me. When Starbuck accused him of whining, I was completely with her. I loved how she and Lee in the mutiny episodes were basically playing their 1978 counterparts, however briefly. Though, to that point, they killed off Richard Hatch, 1978 Apollo himself! Pretty fucked up somehow.

Oh, the episode fourteen I downloaded was also French fansubbed. I noticed "frak" was typically translated as "merde" or "bordel", which was sort of disappointing.

I really laughed when Roslin told Lee she was going to take a less active role now, due to her cancer. Really? Less active than hiding out in Adama's quarters? Sounds like a job in itself.

There was a bit of David Lynch influence in one of the episodes, I forget which it was, when the episode transitioned from one of the show's typical slightly rewritten history recap with a flashing blue light. I've still been watching Revolutionary Girl Utena with breakfast most mornings, and the Lynch influence on that show is getting pretty huge. I read on the wikipedia entry that the show creator dreamed of working with Lynch one day, but I wondered what the director best known for episodes of Sailor Moon could possibly have taken from the works of David Lynch. The past fifteen or so episodes of Utena, though, which have focused pretty heavily on themes of incest, have borrowed a great deal, especially from Twin Peaks, of the distinctive Lynch cutting styles, character blocking, and Coctaeu-ish love for austere and theatrical ornamentation. The past few episodes even seem to have an ongoing reference to Mr. Eddie from Lost Highway.

None of it has quite the feel of authentic emotion of a real Lynch film, but none of Lynch's imitators do, and he certainly has a lot of imitators. I think it's like Akira Kurosawa's action sequences--Kurosawa made great action sequences, but he hated violence. I think a lot of great artists are able to take what they hate or fear and make something beautiful out of them, and their imitators just try to recreate the beauty without really connecting to the original motivation. I mean, they may agree some violence is terrible, and they may be trying to use Kurosawa's or Lynch's technique to convey the terror they genuinely feel, but the problem is they're more focused on the technique than the message.

Anyway, I'd better go. In case you're among the swiftly decreasing number of people who don't know what Bea Arthur has to do with the Star Wars cantina, here's this bit from a 1978 treasure that haunts George Lucas more every year;

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Can't Go Back to the Cantina Now

A google image search for Bea Arthur really oughtn't turn up pictures of her topless within the first ten results. But it fucking does.

Aucun Cylon a Bord de la Flotte sans l'Accord de ses Occupants

I've decided Norio Wakamoto is one of my heroes now;

I see that for Hayate no Gotoku he's credited as "voice of the heavens".

I didn't have time for much but comic yesterday. There was soup, pita, hummus, oatmeal, and spaghetti, though not all at the same time, in my trough.

I accidentally downloaded the French fansub version of Battlestar Galactica's thirteenth episode of its fourth season. It featured the fansubbers' e-mail addresses and website in the opening, concluding with, "Bon episode a tous . . ."

One of the guys I thought Baltar's follower had killed in the season premiere showed up again. So I went back to that episode and I suppose it's possible he survived. The woman bashed both him and his friend multiple times in the head with a big metal pipe and she was covered in blood by the end of it, but I guess they might have lived. But they must have had some pretty gruesome injuries, and it's hard to imagine them not pointing the finger at Baltar for them.

Anyway, the thirteenth episode wasn't bad, though I'm getting especially irritated with Roslin now. Even in the best of times, she doesn't seem to do a whole lot, but now she's been just hanging out in Adama's quarters while the fleet goes to hell and I get the feeling we're supposed to like her. That just rubs me completely the wrong way. They try to make Baltar less likeable, but he keeps ending up looking better by default.

But I absolutely loved Starbuck in the episode. It's nice seeing her having fun. I suppose I might try watching two episodes some nights now so I can get caught up before the series finale on Friday. I toyed with the idea of actually watching it when it airs, but then the prospect seemed so dreadfully inconvenient. And I realised it's been months since I actually sat through commercial blocks on television--I'm not sure I can go back. But I suppose I'm a prime specimen of the culture destroying profitability of the entertainment media. Well, I think art is in essence antithetical to capitalism. How do you measure the value of art? Should we only reward good art?

I make a point of paying for art or donating to artists I truly believe in and whom I know or suspect needs the support. But donation systems are rarely enough on their own to support anyone. That the arts require blanket government support, I think, is obvious. For every multimillion dollar blockbuster, there are thousands of starving artists who are arguably producing higher quality art which frequently has no potential for superficially pleasing most consumers. Examples of capitalism's successful works of art make a lot of noise, which I think serves as a distraction from 99% of the art world, which is not commercially viable. But the vast ocean of good, unprofitable art is getting to be a little more visible thanks to the internet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Food for Ghosts

I had a headache last night, so I didn't want any alcohol, but I had a serious yen to chill out. So instead I watched Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away again.

Something about the relentlessly beautiful and intricate imagery of that movie gives me a singular bliss. Blade Runner has a similar effect on me. But the animation is another beautiful factor for Miyazaki's films--the fact that virtually every movement, colour, and shape is made by human hands infuses them with character in ways you just don't get with the perfect calculations of those things by a computer in the worlds of cgi movies. Spirited Away is about a world of magic on the other side of reality, but when the movie starts out with the magic of a girl, her family, and the forest around them built entirely by the impressions and hands of artists, all the magic is utterly credible in ways unlike any other kind of filmmaking.

My plan for the fortnight was to draw, ink, and colour one page of my comic a day, except on Friday and Saturday. I'd planned on drawing and inking a page on Friday, and then colouring it on Saturday. But I ended up finishing the page on Friday, so I decided to take Saturday off, a decision that seemed even more logical when the headache appeared. I suspect this particular headache is from compulsively staying up an hour or so later than my body wants to lately.

I went over to Tim's again last night and played more Fallout 3, graduating from fighting ants to fighting zombies and mercenaries. The game's version of zombies are called ghouls and some of them are sentient. In a sewer, I found a large one who'd arranged garden gnomes around his room as some kind of silent guardians. Inside, he had a small shrine to Nuka-Cola, the game's version of Coca-Cola, consisting of a banner, a bottle shaped lamp, several glass bottles, and two toy Nuka-Cola delivery trucks. The game tells stories so much better through these little details than it does through its dialogue. But I haven't been talking to many NPCs--the game's stirred up all my Doom and Quake instincts--it's been a very long time since I've enjoyed a game like this.

Last night I watched the twelfth episode of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season. Not a bad episode, though I'd have liked going my whole life without seeing Adama and Roslin in bed together. I loved Starbuck talking shit to Gaeta.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tree Preservation

Hearing a raven cawing outside my window this afternoon after breakfast, I decided to go out and take some pictures of the birds, which are a pervasive presence in Santee. But as it happened, I wandered outside for about forty minutes to-day without actually seeing any close up--I heard them a lot, but didn't really see any.

I did take a lot of pictures, though, mainly of the area behind the house I remember as being a little more dense with foliage. Now it's mainly a couple desolate fields with dead, grey trees;

I guess it was deemed a fire hazard or something.

I particularly liked this tree.

A drainage ditch.

Further along the ditch. Foreboding, no?

Thirsty, anyone?

The river the ditch empties into;

The backyard, and Snow the cat demonstrating to me that it's hard indeed for a cat to find an uncomfortable place to sit;

I watched the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles while eating breakfast. Another episode I really liked, again featuring dialogue where people are subtly testing each other, deciding how they can operate while not completely losing faith in each other, and deciding what the right, hard decisions are. Ellison freaked out a bit much for a seasoned detective when Shirley Manson's kid went missing, but otherwise the episode was great, especially for Cameron. She's a perfect liar, utterly innocent, perfectly pragmatic, and lethal. I love that the writers realised what a tangle of dilemmas this presents for characters who are supposed to be strong and caretakers at the same time.

I went to Tim's last night and played some more Fallout 3, fighting a bunch of mutated ants with flame throwers. There's some nice, subtle stuff in that game, too, like the sewage plant I found myself in where a bunch of mutated roaches had mysteriously lined a counter with teddy bears, and hesitated before attacking me, unlike the other roaches I'd encountered.

Tim introduced me to the "Do a barrel roll" minor internet phenomenon;

And I watched the eleventh episode of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season last night, one of my favourite episodes of the series so far. I wonder if the writer's strike lit a fire under the writers' asses. In any case, Starbuck finding her corpse and ship, and Leoben's reaction, were wonderful. Though why any of Starbuck's friends would let her wander around alone with Leoben I can't fathom. Maybe they never heard of Stockholm syndrome on Caprica.

Dee's suicide and Adama's reaction to it were well done. Though I have to admit I find the ongoing saga of Gaeta's missing leg hysterically funny, I don't know why, and I feel oddly guilty about it. Especially when he started singing.

And already, we're seeing healthy looking foliage, supposedly two thousand years after nuclear war. At the very least, they oughta be able to get some use out of Earth.