Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Voyages Across the River Styx Include Free Peanuts

My tweets from last night;

Harpies never do anything alone.
They'll drink boxes of tea in one sitting.
The night is as boring as a bald bone.
While an idle, hungry fire's spitting.

Last night, Sarah Silverman tweeted, "If this is real it's incredible. Worth the remote control moment alone." And she posted a link to this video;

Since it seems to be part of a series, I think it's unlikely to be real, but I find it fascinating anyway--the kid's very committed to the role, and of course, it's his or the writers' idea of what they consider believable, so it's something of an indicator of what World of Warcraft means to kids.

I had my own World of Warcraft frustrations last night as I found myself playing it an hour later than I meant to, trying to kill a certain quota of harpies near the Stonetalon Mountains. Part of the frustration was just in knowing I'm probably not going to have time to play WoW again until I've finished this next chapter of my comic and I wanted to accomplish something. I was doing okay killing one harpy at a time, but the fiends kept wanting to gang up on me. I gradually completed the quest, chipping away at it eventually by letting myself get killed by other harpies as I concentrated on just killing one. It occurred to me this might be the heart of the game--past the package and everything, this is the bit that engages in strategy for a solo player, trying to figure out how to kill things slightly more powerful than you, or obtaining a level up by other means.

I suppose matching wits against other players is more enjoyable--I've been getting more invites to join guilds lately, often from people who aren't even nearby, which makes me wonder what interests them in my humble level 24 undead warrior. So far, Tim's all the WoW society I've really needed. I haven't really experienced the joy of team coordination yet, but I think I can say at this point with some certainty that World of Warcraft isn't as good a game as Warcraft II (I don't know about Warcraft III, I've never played it).

I know I probably just sound like an old jerk who thinks everything was better in his day, but much as I was saying about Super Mario Brothers a couple days ago, I think there's demonstrably more of a game present in Warcraft II than in World of Warcraft, and I think the key factor here is the concept of levelling up.

In the classic role playing game, levelling up was simply a way to gauge the knowledge and skill a character had accumulated. But now it's kind of become something that makes computer RPGs seem like the place where the capitalist myth went to die. All around me, in real life, I see people who've worked hard all their lives for something not being rewarded at all, or certainly not in the way they desired. The world of writers, artists, and musicians is an even stronger example, as capricious subjectivity of the audience, and the unreliable preparation granted by traditional training, deny guarantees of success for hard and/or good work. Which is not even mentioning the people who give all their lives to their art and genuinely aren't good at it.

That's not how it is in World of Warcraft--in World of Warcraft, you kill a bunch of enemies, you do your quests, and you will gain experience points--you will level up, you'll get status, precious objects, abilities, and what used to be difficult will become easy.

Warcraft II--like most older video games--wasn't like that. The more you played, the harder it got, the more it demanded from your intellect. The fun in Warcraft II was in strategy, learning to deploy your units in the right locations, from the right directions, in sufficient numbers. It was probably harder to design a game like that--you'd need to figure out the right balance, decide what was reasonable to expect from a player. It probably ought to give one pause to consider that chess doesn't have level ups--it isn't a game one looks for in computer RPGs, and it's not role playing either.

I'm so tired right now. I just came back from lunch at my parents' house with which I had a glass of wine. I suppose I probably shouldn't have. I'm thinking I'll probably put off drawing the first page of the next chapter 'til to-morrow. Which means I'll probably be seeking the level up teat to-night, too. Here's what Lelia, my character, looks like right now, by the way;

I have to admit, she's not keeping those eggs very warm.

With breakfast to-day, I read the new Sirenia Digest. The first story, "THE MERMAID OF THE CONCRETE OCEAN", strongly reminded me of another story by Caitlin, the title of which escapes me, which was about a woman and a young man who desired to know the dark secrets of the woman's past which she dreaded to divulge, and when it was eventually told, the dark secret the young man had sought turned out to be less fantastic than he imagined yet was precisely the sort of heartbreaking horror--made more terrible by its simplicity--that would cause someone to spend a life seeking ideas of more fantastic horror. The new story features an old woman talking to a young man about the motive of an artist she loved to paint mermaids all his life. Again, the root is a simple horror, that if told straight would probably hold no horror for the reader at all. So much of Caitlin's work is in creating the horror by how the characters feel about it--Dogs with really long legs aren't particular scary. The more important thing is how they disturb the people who see them. Much of Caitlin's work seems to be negotiating with the psyche of the reader to respect the sanctity of what's truly terrible*.

Following "THE MERMAID OF THE CONCRETE OCEAN" is another new Sonya Taaffe poem, which is very pretty and sweet, apparently about someone getting more than they bargained for.

Lastly, there's another story by Caitlin called "THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER", or rather a partial story. It's set in H.P. Lovecraft's dreamlands, in the city Ulthar featured most prominently in Lovecraft's "The Cats of Ulthar", and those cats, indeed, play a part in Caitlin's story. Mostly it seems to be an autobiographical fantasy with Caitlin casting herself as an alchemist's daughter engaged in experiments, attended to by a nurse in a setup not unlike her Second Life role playing relationship with her partner, Kathryn Pollnac. It's an enjoyable read, and it's nice to see another narrative perspective on Lovecraft's dream world, which was always one of my favourite subjects of his works.

Yesterday, my sister went to the mall with me to help me pick out glasses, and she spotted this fellow in a shop window;

Fabulous, no? We also poked fun at this oddly anxious bust of Zeus;

"Um, I'm, like, king of the gods? Okay? If--I mean--you won't hit me, will you?"

*By reader, I don't mean the literal audience, but the hypothetical, phantom one prose addresses by existing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Between the Sky and the Ground

Here's some footage from yesterday;

The music is "Sous le Ciel d'Afrique" performed by Josephine Baker.

To-day was another busy day, and to-morrow shall also probably be busy. I think it's mainly that I let so many things accumulate while I was working on my comic last week that they're all dog piling me now.

Saturday night, I watched Women in Cages, a 1971 grindhouse film directed by Gerardo de León that'd been on my "to watch" list for a couple years. It floated to the surface of the internet soup for me a couple days ago, and my appetite was whetted by a quote from Quentin Tarantino on the Wikipedia entry about it, "'[the film] is just harsh, harsh, harsh,' he said, and described the final shot as one of 'devastating despair.'"

It's not a happy ending, though I'm tempted to make a top ten list of movies with more impressively bleak endings, except such a list would probably ruin the endings of those movies for people. The influence Women in Cages had on Tarantino isn't as blatant as Lady Snowblood or Thriller - A Cruel Picture, but neither of those pictures as strongly resembles Tarantino's sensibility for composition as Women in Cages.

De León seemed to like putting together scenes with subjects or objects in the extreme foreground related to subjects or objects in the extreme background. Shots like these;

reminded me of shots like this memorable one in Pulp Fiction;

And, actually, I was reminded of shots from Citizen Kane like this:

Deep focus, a camera keeping simultaneous focus on both foreground and background, was a revolutionary technique when Citizen Kane was made--the above shot, in fact, was beyond camera technology at the time and is in fact a process shot, but there are plenty of examples of deep focus in Kane, the effect of which, for me, was always to heighten the sense of dizzying extremes in the life of Charles Foster Kane. In Women in Cages, which is unmistakably a fantasy film, as it is a sexploitation film, the technique both makes the events on screen dreamlike and more threatening in their enormity than the cheap sets and costumes otherwise might be.

Such brash blocking sensibilities also serve to convey the point of view of my favourite character in the film, a heroin addict named Stokes played by Roberta Collins, who's not established as the central protagonist, but Collins' commitment to the role and her character's desperate and pragmatic ruthlessness make her far more interesting. Jeff, the actual main character, is a sort of ditzy, bland goodie two shoes. She's annoying more than anything else, and I found myself rooting for Stokes in her various attempts to murder Jeff.

Pam Grier as the villain is barely more than two dimensional, but functions well enough as an old fashioned movie foil whose most interesting quality is always style--Grier's got it in spades.

Another composition technique de León seemed to like, which I don't see often from Tarantino, is arranging three or more characters artfully for dialogue sequences;

I was sort of reminded of Kurosawa, who was a master at this sort of blocking.

Women in Cages has a few significant flaws--horribly unconvincing day for night shots and a few instances of extremely awkward and artificial action choreography. But what really impressed me was the economy of story telling--the opening credits, with just a few establishing shots, effectively convey the criminal vessel Zulu Queen's nature as a sort of floating brothel and drug den, and characters are introduced and defined very swiftly and unobtrusively in the prison.

My tweets from last night;

Only the farmer you need is missing.
He always buys bait in the pier cafe.
Proper world wars often break for fishing.
Parrot networks are loud, lofty and fey.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Day is a Treadmill

Twitter Sonnet #34

Sink water is pretty clean for the hands.
Two glasses of drinking water's not cheap.
Dangerous aliens have acid glands.
Jeff Bridges has a secret hover jeep
A blank screen can start a nasty rumour.
Jerri Blank is never acceptable.
The tall centaurs have no sense of humour.
But to courtesy they're susceptible.
One axe is better than two if it's big.
Grindhouse violence is cheap, potent tender.
Economic traps are easy to rig.
Mary Poppins is greater than gender.
You won't be too dry when you have oil.
Entropy is the fate of a foil.

I had million and one errands to-day, beginning with the wonderland of Wal-Mart and its denizens of mullet men and angry, enormous women on motorised buggies with noisy children running around them (I was there for an oil change).

Later, my quests took me west to Ocean Beach. Here are some pictures;

Cat in a window I walked past.

One of the many wild parrots in Ocean Beach. A passing woman, who saw me taking the picture, explained the legend was that hundreds of them escaped from a pet shop sixty years ago. You hear them a lot more often than you see them.

Our pelican overlords and their surfing serfs.

View from the end of the pier.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Artificial World is Yours

I love the crazy angles on those buildings.

Last night's tweets

A blank screen can start a nasty rumour.
Jerri Blank is never acceptable.
The tall centaurs have no sense of humour.
But to courtesy they're susceptible.

Sometimes World of Warcraft reminds me of an enormous miniature golf course, which, I know, seems to be a contradiction in terms. But the way it has theme areas partitioned off from one another, there's no way anyone could mistake it for organic, unlike the regions in Oblivion.

When one looks at the area where Durotar ends and The Barrens begins, one sees that the dirt changes abruptly to a drastically different colour like stripes in Neapolitan ice cream. Last night, I ran all the way from Crossroads, in the middle of Barrens, to some mountainous area in the west and then north to a small, isolated valley with a bunch of elks and centaurs. My character's level 22 and everyone there was between levels 24 and 29, so I figured it was just right for me. I did okay, so long as I could fight one at a time, until I ran into some level twenty-nine elf-centaur lady, who mopped the floor with my ass. Didn't stop me from trying five times--I got her down to less than half her hitpoints. Tantalisingly close. Of course, sooner or later, I'll just level up and it won't mean as much when I beat her.

I watched the 1932 version of Scarface last night, which I hadn't seen in a while. It's a little more sensational than I remember, but I still think it's easily a thousand times better than the cheesy Brian DePalma version. I love Paul Muni's innocent glee and the way he pushes around his bosses. You get the impression he's like a monstrous puppy, playing with the world and not quite having a sense of the harm he's causing or what his decisions say about him. The violent anger provoked by his sister going out with guys would disturb even the most meagrely introspective person, but not Tony. Which is what makes him seem so dangerous--he has absolutely no internal compass. At the same time, it's what prevents him from seeming evil. He just seems like another hapless force of nature.

Happy birthday, Robyn Massachusetts (it's her birthday, nothing's meant by the juxtaposition. Though she may be a hapless force of nature, who knows).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Back Through the Looking Glass

Okay, here's the Snow video. Try and ignore the ellipses.

And while I'm at it, here's a video Amanda Palmer just posted on her Twitter of her covering "Billie Jean";

Really nice. And a female vocalist kind of contributes to my interpretation of the kid being metaphorical. The piano sounds great--Palmer seems consistently great at doing covers.

I'z in Ur Wormhole, Disrupting Ur Timeline

Twitter Sonnet #33

Five apples will usually defeat four.
Coppola's claret's better the third day.
Most cars are much too noisy to ignore.
Yet they have very little to convey.
In the evening, stone ducks won't run from cats.
Split pea soup oddly resists exploding.
I avoid a variety of fats.
But some banks never commence eroding.
On the fifth day, the claret's not so great.
Plastic plants never want to be broken.
Lots of people don't mean there's a long wait.
A caterpillar army has woken.
Kittens can be consumed by pure wrath.
Cats quietly project psychic bloodbath.

Looks like I forgot to finish the sonnet yesterday--that's how tired I was. I guess I'll pass last night's four tweets onto the next sonnet, which were;

Sink water is pretty clean for the hands.
Two glasses of drinking water's not cheap.
Dangerous aliens have acid glands.
Jeff Bridges has a secret hover jeep.

I think I actually got eight hours of sleep to-day and I woke up at 12:30. That's progress. After yesterday's marathon, I think to-day shall be dedicated to slacking off in the most satisfying ways I can manage.

With breakfast I watched the new Haruhi Suzumiya. The previous episode had been a pretty low key, "summer vacation" episode where the characters just engaged in various normal summer activities like swimming, lighting fireworks, going to a bon festival, and catching cicadas.

To-day's episode featured the characters living through the same events, though with Kyon, the POV character, experiencing deja vu. Eventually, he and the esper character discover Haruhi has trapped them in a time loop of that particular August. This show just keeps being great.

Anyway, remember there's a new Venia's Travels online to-day. And here are a couple new cat videos;

EDIT I was rather irritated to discover YouTube chopped off the end of the new Snow video below so I deleted it and uploaded a new version with a credits sequence comprised of two periods. Hopefully that's enough image information so no-one freaks out too much from black screen. What the fuck, YouTube? I'll do my own editing, motherfucker.

Edit again It got fucked up again. Nevermind, maybe I'll fuck with it later. I'm too hungry now.

Venia and the Forest Creatures

The new Venia's Travels is online. Well, that only took twelve hours. Shit. Still not as bad as the sixteen hours on Chapter eight of Boschen and Nesuko, but, fuck, I'm tired, and I still need to pick up pasta sauce.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Man in Many Places

My tweets last night;

On the fifth day, the claret's not so great.
Plastic plants never want to be broken.
Lots of people don't mean there's a long wait.
A caterpillar army has woken.

I woke up at 11am and I've been colouring since noon--I coloured three pages over the course of eight hours, and I still have one more page to cover. This largely because I slacked off so much early on--you'd think I'd know better.

I feel like a toasted loaf of bread in the rubble of a primitive bakery. The sad thing is, if I could put off colouring now, I can't think of any activity I'd be able to enjoy doing. Headache. It's probably a good think the wine was bad by last night--my head would be filled with masticated twinkie by now.

So. I just read about Michael Jackson's death. I guess with Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon, this makes three. Though Michael Jackson was actually someone I cared about as a kid--I remember liking Thriller and Captain EO anyway, and seem to remember always getting fixated on the "Billie Jean" music video. I always had a sense that what I was seeing wasn't complete nonsense, that there was definitely something going on, but I couldn't figure out what. Very mysterious, maybe I thought it was something I was too young to understand. Adults wouldn't explain it to me when I asked, though now I suspect it's because they couldn't figure it out, either.

Looking at it now, it seems to me to just generally be about the life the singer's smallest actions could take on--that his touch lights up lamp posts and concrete tiles, and then he disappears in a woman's bed at the end. I suppose one could simply look at it as the nature of gossip around a celebrity, but I think there's something more basic about impression and the paths carved from comprehension limited by socially anticipated behaviour. Looking at the lyrics, the most significant one seems to me to be, "be careful of what you do cause the lie becomes the truth." The kid, which doesn't feel like a literal kid but more of a metaphor for lowest common denominator expectation, has to be his son because it's what makes sense to everyone.

Anyway, I'd better get back to colouring . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lines on the Map

Last night I tweeted;

In the evening, stone ducks won't run from cats.
Split pea soup oddly resists exploding.
I avoid a variety of fats.
But some banks never commence eroding.

I just got back from lunch at a franchise Mexican place called Rubio's where, while I was eating, I overheard the conversation of a bunch of young hairy guys in leather, talking about life of a band on tour. The biggest guy told a story about how he and his cohorts had at one point something called a "drilldo", which was a dildo which featured a drill bit that I guess was somehow motorised. He said he and his friends would present the drilldo to girls as part of a "contest" to see who'd take it.

He stopped, waiting for laughs, and the other guys, who now that I looked at them, seemed to be much younger than the big guy, laughed weakly. Then the big guy told a story about a girl who went with the band's guitarist after a show to a curtained off area the big guy said, "she thought was the lounge." Apparently she was really embarrassed when the guitarist pulled back the curtain and the rest of the party saw her blowing him.

Again, the big guy at Rubio's waited for a laugh, and when the laughter was even weaker than before, he said solemnly, "You know what's weird is girls put themselves in that situation."

Yes, funny how that works. Human behaviour must seem incredibly strange when you get used to ignoring your own responsibility. It's weird how they just gave me a burrito because I ordered and paid for one. What a bunch of suckers--I basically own the restaurant now.

It's interesting the big guy decided it was a good time to pull out those chestnuts, like it was time to induct the younger breed into The War on Women.

I'm so tired. Didn't see much sleep to-day and I won't see much to-morrow, either. But I guess that's okay since I have a lot of colouring to do . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

True Solitaire

Last night's tweets;

Five apples will usually defeat four.
Coppola's claret's better the third day.
Most cars are much too noisy to ignore.
Yet they have very little to convey.

Stayed up much too late again last night. Part of the problem is just that I'm so hardwired for the nocturnal schedule--I feel much more alert at night, even if I'm tired from lack of sleep the day before, and when I've finished eating dinner, I find myself compulsively doing random things. I almost started playing World of Warcraft, but stopped myself by saying, "If you're awake enough for WoW, you're awake enough to colour your comic." I applied the same self-remonstrance when I almost watched an episode of Evangelion and then almost started watching a movie. This was 4am, mind you.

What I did do was burn a bunch of files to disk to make room for yet more downloads, and while the disk was burning, I reached into my desk drawer and found these;

My family brought them back for me from their trip to Hawaii a couple years ago. I rather like them--they remind me of Tom Waits' "Shore Leave"--"and I bought a long sleeved shirt with horses on the front and some gum and a lighter and a knife and a new deck of cards with girls on the back." Though I guess the girl on these cards kind of bears an unfortunate resemblance to Orson Welles.

I played Solitaire while the disk burned--it'd been a long time since I'd played with real cards, though I used to play all the time in high school, usually when I was supposed to be working on something. I played twice last night and lost twice, which made me again think the computer Solitaire is rigged--I always win on the computer, and I have to wonder if a bunch of people complained about never winning so Microsoft doctored it. It would make sense to me, since I see this as a culture increasingly ill-equipped to face disappointment or unpleasantness. I guess that might be inevitable when an entire culture is in the process of uploading itself into a virtual environment--the point is it's safer, you're not actually in a room with someone where you might have to account for yourself or acknowledge you're in a disadvantaged position.

Video games can be hard, but stress is increasingly taken away from the prospect of "losing"--in World of Warcraft, death just means you need to run back to your body from the graveyard. Kids these days should try playing the Japanese Super Mario Brothers 2--released as Lost Levels in America in the collections, not to be confused with the game originally released in the U.S. as 2, which was actually a very different game. Japanese Super Mario Brothers 2 was a hard motherfucking game, and even Mario 1 was a considerable bitch near the end--unless you performed the careful trick of stomping a koopa shell from a very precise angle in world three--

--you otherwise only have a few lives before you're sent back to the beginning of the game, which means there's tremendous pressure to get the timing and coordination right with Mario's sensitive physics;

And when you did it, you really felt like you accomplished something. In games these days, I just feel ashamed the longer it takes me to beat them, and when I do, I just feel like I got what I had a right to. It's gotten so that it's often like watching a movie you need to make adjustments for, at least in terms of accomplishing something through skill. There's the beautiful virtual world to explore aspect, that games like Oblivion and World of Warcraft have. But as I was telling Tim the other day, I wish Blizzard would maybe have an unannounced "realism day" for WoW, where suddenly anyone can attack anyone, regardless of faction, getting run through would automatically kill you, bleeding would diminish your ability to function normally, characters would need to eat and sleep--maybe even include sex and pregnancy. That would be a sim. Sure, it's nice to have a game I can play while getting drunk, but there used to be other kinds of games.

Don't mistake this for a right wing philosophy. In real life, yes, I believe everyone has a right to health and the ability to pursue happiness. Real life is too precious to fuck around with. Maybe if we had more games and art with higher stakes more people would be able to appreciate that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Diversions of Dubious Value

Yes, I know I forgot to say, "Please." The music is "New Shoes" by Angelo Badalamenti from the second Twin Peaks soundtrack.

Twitter Sonnet #32

All my energy sleeps with the pasta.
Space gods drained me dry on the first of May.
My massive scanner is not from NASA.
Nintendo Cylon heads would be flat grey.
A small grey mob has taken the concrete.
Doozers shall change radishes to fuel.
Please tell car companies not to compete.
Shanghai Lily is on call through Yule.
Pez dispensers can't feed you for a week.
Dusk is overcrowded with fishermen.
A wealth of feeding tubes beset the meek.
Consider the gravid grace of the hen.
Good eggs might be ghosts in the glib present.
Their broken shells make life sharply pleasant.

I was really sleepy yesterday for some reason, and it wasn't until around 11:30pm that I finished pencilling a page. This is pretty sharp contrast to Saturday, when I pencilled and inked two pages. I have a backlog of pages to colour now and still three pages to draw. Hopefully I won't spend all day on Thursday colouring.

I don't know why I was so sleepy yesterday. Amanda Palmer twittered about The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow, which put me in the mood to listen to it, and I ended up just lying down and staring at the ceiling with it playing, rather like Duckie in Pretty in Pink, I guess, except there was no Molly Ringwald for me to mope over.

I switched to Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine, which made me feel a little more energetic, but not much.

I tried out a couple more anime series this morning--Mushishi and Queen's Blade, mainly on the strength of the fact that both seem to be popular. Mushishi is very pretty, and seems to be courting a kind of Lain meets Princess Mononoke vibe, but it's supernatural entities aren't nearly as imaginative as Mononoke's. The characters speak in an almost ritualistic, halting manner and say very little--combined with the bland creatures, it adds up to an incredibly dull package.

Queen's Blade, on the other hand, a far less ambitious series, and is essentially softcore bondage porn about medieval girls with massive breasts fighting each other--a lot of the drama seems to be concerned with who's going to be topless next. The size of the breasts make them a little too silly and the skin is a little too shiny for my taste, and the unrealistic armour deflates a lot of the tension for me, but if you happen to like those physical attributes, and you're into bondage, you might want to give this series a try. At the very least, you'll want to see the bunny girl with hands in her hair that squeeze her breasts to spray glowing pink, acidic milk on her enemies.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Whose Identity is in the Food?

Who's hungry?

A lot of these go by so fast, I think they deserve closer examination.

It took me a while to figure out these were doors open a crack with the shadow of a man projecting through across the floor. The spirit of sugar hesitates just outside your room.

"Um, yes, for dessert I'd like to order whatever would most make me feel socially backward." Speaking as someone who generally doesn't like cake, I have to say this does actually capture cake's True Form for me--it makes me feel nauseous looking at it before I eat it and really unhappy about myself afterwards for having eaten it.

I still don't get it. Pickled mummy?

This looks like something Leland Palmer would enjoy for Father's Day.

This is all from the opening to an anime series called Honey and Clover, a josei series, which means its target audience is women, ages 18 and up. I watched the first episode this morning, and the show itself isn't nearly as strange as the opening suggests, and seems to be concerned with the lives of a group of pretty college guys living in a dorm together and this girl;

Who's, believe it or not, supposed to be 18 years old. The men in the picture are ages 18 to 24. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in anime--I'm reminded of Tenma from School Rumble and the entire cast of Lucky Star. It's played for humour in School Rumble, but a lot of times I get a weird feeling this is some kind of sly indulgence for paedophilia--"We'll cast a ten year old and just say she's an eighteen year old." Who can really argue the motives for a stylistic choice?

And yet, this is josei, and a very popular series. What appeal could this have for women? My guess would be that it completely desexualises the POV character for the audience. If one presumes there's nothing to do with paedophilia going on, then one sees the two male characters that instantly fall in love with the girl in the first episode as having only the most chaste infatuation with her beauty. The more disturbing subtext is so enormous, though, it's hard to believe it's unintentional until one thinks of something like Twilight, and maybe looking at Honey and Clover one can get an idea of what someone outside our culture sees when watching abstinence porn like Twilight.

I may need to keep watching this series, at least for a few more episodes. I really don't know if the disturbing reflections of sexual repression are entirely unselfconscious, and it might be fascinating in either case.

With dinner last night, I watched "Doppelgangland", a third season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer written and directed by Joss Whedon, and rather disappointing after the past couple very nice episodes--and I figured out why I enjoyed the early Whedon episodes more when I was younger; they're written with sitcom logic. In most of the early Whedon episodes, characters are permitted to lie extremely obviously and other characters will believe them for comedic effect. I'm glad there's less and less of this as the series goes on, because it really undermines the subtler character work writers like Jane Espenson and Marti Noxon are doing in the other episodes.

My tweets from last night;

A small grey mob has taken the concrete.
Doozers shall change radishes to fuel.
Please tell car companies not to compete.
Shanghai Lily is on call through Yule.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hearts in Carbonite

Last night's tweets;

All my energy sleeps with the pasta.
Space gods drained me dry on the first of May.
My massive scanner is not from NASA.
Nintendo Cylon heads would be flat grey.

Last night's spider in my bathroom;

The music this time is "Brand New Lovesong" by The Pillows from the FLCL soundtrack and "Into a Dream" from the His and Her Circumstances--I think it was written by Shiro Sagisu, but I'm having trouble finding information on it.

The past few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I've watched have really raised the bar on the series--"The Zeppo", "Bad Girls", and "Consequences". Faith and Xander have suddenly become the show's first truly well drawn characters, in my opinion. It's refreshing to see Xander so pathetically vulnerable after the first two seasons where everyone inexplicably put up with him being a dick. "The Zeppo" brings to the spotlight the season-long subplot about Xander's feelings of inadequacy that come together over late adolescent insecurities mixed with feelings of diminished masculinity among girls who are far more capable than him. Though "The Zeppo" takes a pretty humdrum tact by employing a peer-pressure plot that forces Xander to behave out of character in several instances while a subplot about the rest of the gang saving the world being downplayed for comedic effect annoyingly diminishes what's normally the show's main plot, it sets Xander up well for the succeeding episodes.

"Bad Girls" was improbably nice--Buffy and Faith turning into a two girl gang could've easily been corny, but actually comes off very cool--I rather wish it'd gone on a few more episodes, but Faith's inability to face what she'd done at the end of "Bad Girls" is perfectly dealt with in "Consequences" as she attempts to harden herself. There's an amazing feeling of reality to the portrayal of her character, and innocent Xander is the perfect contrast; he wants to help, but he's pathetically ill equipped to do so. It's not as funny as it usually is because you can sense how badly Faith needs help and the fact that the person who most wants to help simply can't is terribly sad, and Faith nearly killing him doesn't make you hate her. It's a great moment.

It's weird how it's already starting to feel like crossover moments when Angel's onscreen, though I'm sure they were already planning the spin-off series at this point. Before starting the rewatching of Buffy, the last season of Angel was the most recent Buffy-verse thing in my mind, and it's really strange to see the sorts of characters Wesley and Cordelia are at this point. I guess they changed gradually enough I didn't really notice, but the differences we're supposed to take five years as making to the characters seem impossible. I guess I don't mind, though, except Cordelia became more obnoxious when she grew wiser.

Grocery shopping last night, I only bought Francis Ford Coppola products--a jar of his puttanesca sauce and a bottle of his claret. Haven't tried the wine yet, but his wine's usually pretty good. Hopefully I'll be able to have some to-night, but I have a lot of drawing to do . . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

It Might be Easier to Remember the Past in the Future

Twitter Sonnet #31

I met several spiders throughout the day.
All work and treks to-day were slowly done.
When the bat's away the zombies will play.
I think some people seem bored of fun.
Some buttons will do bonus secret things.
Apple products oughta be edible.
Prefab hardware is the domain of kings.
To serfs it's sweet but indigestible.
To-night mixed Malibu and Bacardi.
Called it the "I Have Enough Rum" cocktail.
It probably makes some kind of party.
But I fear inertia shall yet prevail.
A cat sits precisely in the centre.
Of a room that's only real in winter.

It's odd how the day where I got plenty of sleep turns out to be lazier than the day where I got barely any. Maybe it's because on days where I haven't slept I tend always to feel like I'm forgetting something. When I've had enough sleep, I kind of don't care if I'm forgetting anything.

So to-day I went to lunch with my mother and sister and then watched Out of the Past with my sister. Always an enjoyable movie. With breakfast to-day I watched the new episode of Haruhi Suzumiya, the second new episode of this season, broadcast three weeks after the first.

The first season, released in 2006, was initially broadcast out of chronological order, creating a different narrative by putting the bigger events near the end and some of the more low key events that take place later, earlier in the series, which also gave the show a fascinating non-linear feel. Then one watched the show in chronological order and appreciated it in a different way, and now the old episodes are being presented in a chronological order but with fourteen episodes dispersed among them, and already I'm seeing lines in the older episodes suddenly taking on new meaning from the context. It's almost like Brion Gysin's cut-up technique being applied to a show. That some of the episodes involve time travel adds yet another layer of fun.

This is shaping up to be a good year for anime, with the next season of Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei premiering next month. I only hope it's fansubbed by a group willing to encode their files properly.

I found myself watching a lot of Chuck Berry videos to-day for some reason. This set of clips someone put together gives some interesting perspective;

It's weird how he's not talked about as much as other rock legends. I suppose part of the problem is that he's still touring. It reminds me of Peter Bogdanovich saying on the Citizen Kane DVD commentary how Orson Welles predicted people would love him when he was dead--and it's true. The years before his death, Welles was reduced to doing commercials and hosting cheesy TV documentaries, unable to get funding for his own projects. But after his death, he became a god in the world of cinema. I suppose it all has to do with ego.

Well, I've wasted too much of to-day. I'd better get to the grocery store . . .

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wicked Men

Last night's unexpectedly Apple critical tweets;

Some buttons will do bonus secret things.
Apple products oughta be edible.
Prefab hardware is the domain of kings.
To serfs it's sweet but indigestible.

I was looking for a target and there was Apple, smiling like a hapless hayseed, "Well, gollee, Setsuled, whatcha so derned mad about?" Nothing, you egg white, hard stale jelly, Justin Long-looking piece of shit. You . . . you just . . . sigh, okay, I love my iPod, and I don't know why I lash out like that. Sorry.

So tired to-day. It's a real Thursday. Woke up at 11am. Probably just as well since I need to start adjusting for Comic-Con. Bluuuugh, why do I need to type words? Can't you just be satisfied with warm hands smushed on the keyboard? iwaparrgrhga'l;sskl;klllllllj,nm, lenfaaaaaaaaaaflllllllllllllddddddddddd

Seriously, Apple, you make Bristol Palin look chaste--YOU HEARD ME SARAH COME AND GET ME IN YOUR HELICOPTER.

I'm kidding, Apple's not a whore.

Has anyone pointed out Sarah Palin's crusade against David Letterman might be payback for humiliating John McCain during the election? Letterman's apology to Palin came with the explanation that he was in fact joking about Palin's 18 year-old daughter who'd been used as a poster girl for abstinence only to have a child out of wedlock. Sarah Palin's point was that it was her fourteen year-old daughter who accompanied her to the Yankee game that was the setting for Letterman's joke--which was something like, Sarah oughta keep an eye on her daughter or A-Rod might impregnate her.

The problem here, assuming this isn't a payback scheme, is Palin's perspective. Of course, from her perspective, there's a big difference between her daughters. But to someone like Letterman, and presumably most of the country at this point, the specific make-up of Palin's family isn't important. The popular impression of Palin is that she's not bright and she and her family are hypocrites. I don't even think most people know her younger daughter's name. I don't. I heard Howard Stern making the same point, now that I think of it--no-one cares that much about the Palins.

So Sarah Palin, who thinks her infamous answers to Katy Couric were perfectly adequate, either has an inflated sense of her own importance or she knows that, to a certain extent, if she conveys in the media a solid confidence in her own importance, people will start to think she's important. Which reminds me of this excellent blog post by Roger Ebert I read last night about Bill O'Reilly and the proliferation of his debate tactics.

It's not just Fox News and Bill O'Reilly--there's an increasing disinterest in genuinely critical thinking in favour of combative communal narratives. I've been a target of it myself this year twice; I said I felt all art was inherently impressionistic, and people on the Something Awful forum accused me of claiming to be Claude Monet (which is just the tip of the ice berg of mischaracterisations of my work and art media in general that came up in that discussion). And earlier in the year, there was the incident on Elizabeth Bear's journal where people told me I was exercising "male privilege" for asking Bear what the term "male gaze" referred to instead of looking it up myself. It's gotten so that googling my name would lead the casual googler to believe I'm a notorious misogynist or even a sex offender.

This is, of course, somewhat troubling, but it doesn't bother me as much as one might think. Partly it's that I figure it comes with the territory of doing, drawing, and saying the things I do, which are frequently things that can be misinterpreted by lazy or simply preoccupied thinkers--one can't be expected to examine the nuances of the works or thoughts of everyone one meets on the internet, after all, and obviously there are people who are looking for scapegoats in order to consolidate social authority. It's like that line from Sin City--something like "Once you got people believing what they know in their hearts ain't true, you got 'em by the balls." Which, of course, presumes there's invariably a place in the human heart that knows better, which I like to believe, too.

Anyway, about a week ago, I came across this thread, which now comes up when my name's googled. Mostly it's repetition and expansion on some of the things that were thrown at me in the thread on Bear's journal, and pecunium was one of the especially obtuse participants--his spelling and grammar suggest to me he might not have been speaking or writing English for very long, so a language barrier may be as much a problem as any unkind intentions on his part.

Someone named commodorified commented with a quote she created for me which includes the line, "WHERE THE FUCK IS MY BLOWJOB, BITCHES?" Heh. It's another example of a device commodorified had already used against me at greater length in Bear's journal and one I saw used repeatedly at Something Awful--applying a quote to someone which, presumably, one's comrades realise is an exaggeration but also an illumination of the target's essential nature. It's only funny if you already agree, and insulting to the target, so obviously it's not very diplomatic, and works as a kind of instant propaganda for anyone new to the discussion. As Matt Lauer pointed out to Sarah Palin that her implying she didn't feel her daughter was safe in any near physical proximity to David Letterman was itself slanderous, I might point out that suggesting I was demanding blowjobs from the people I was talking to was at least as crass as my joke about saddling Bear and striking her with a riding crop to define words for me. The point of my joke was to satirise the concept that asking Bear to define something for me was in any way an act of sexual dominance, and the point of commodorified's joke was to poke fun at the misogyny she perceived in me. I don't object to the joke, I'm just disappointed by the common lack of reasoning behind it.

I wouldn't even consider the thread worth mentioning at this point, except a couple nights ago I finally read the rest of it and actually saw something good--someone named akirlu said, among a lot of other insightful things;

And what proof, what rigor, the hard sciences, and even the not so hard sciences like anthropology and sociology, are subject to that lit crit is not, is induction and the possibility of disproof. Lit crit, not unlike the Freudian theory that so many lit critters hold dear, fails the Popper test. Therefore it isn't science. And yet consistently those who adopt a lot of its concepts tend to run around applying them to things that aren't literature, and fall outside the scope that those concepts were ever intended to apply to, acting as if those concepts have the same theoretical validity as gravity, and that everyone should somehow know what they're talking about and accept the same base assumptions they have. Hell, a lot of times the crit crowd don't even seem to notice that they have assumptions. (I blame a serious lack of rigor in the teaching of Theory.) This is what I was objecting to, supra. The stunning lack of rigor and self-awareness that goes flying around the room before the lit critters and the self-styled Feminist Theory types and their various heirs do their little victory dance.

Oh boy, we beat down another Evil Over-Privileged Antifeminist. Yeah. Or not. Chalk up another failed communication.

Believe it or not, it's not just because akirlu was the lone voice of dissent in a room full of people attacking me--and she was not even necessarily defending me--that makes me like what she said. I love just the simple point that conclusions one draws about people ought to be objectively credible before retaliatory action is taken. To do otherwise is pretty much the definition of a jerk, and I should know, I've been a jerk on enough occasions. Which is probably why I can't muster much genuine hatred for my detractors--I can see too well where they're coming from. It's nice to have someone or something to snark about, and sometimes it takes a little creativity with one's own perceptions to create a serviceable target.

I guess my point is; I'm sorry, Apple.

I spent most of yesterday drawing, but I did get one get photo of The Spider by the Door when I went to take out the trash;

I think this is the first time I managed to get any of her web in the photo. I'm starting to develop a weird affection for that spider.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The World Wide Web

Last night's tweets;

I met several spiders throughout the day.
All work and treks to-day were slowly done.
When the bat's away the zombies will play.
I think some people seem bored of fun.

I walked to lunch yesterday, which was only the beginning of the Day of Many Spiders. First, there's this beauty, who was in the same place as the last one I posted video of;

I was lucky to get those shots, as the wind just happened to sway her on her web into focus when I clicked the shutter. I found out I could sort of manually adjust the focus by holding down the shutter button, which asks a lot of my rather unsteady hands. What's with this craze about buttons with multiple functions? I'm using a Canon PowerShot SD770 IS, in case you're wondering. It is a "digital elph", whatever that means. It conjures to mind an elf in a bright blue track suit trying to sell me ecstasy.

I also figured out how to adjust the focus with the video function, so I'm a lot happier with this video than I was with yesterday's;

The music's by Shiro Sagisu from the His and Her Circumstances soundtrack.

Snow the cat saw what I was doing and demanded I shoot video of him, too. Snow is represented by public domain jazz from 1940, in this case The Ella Fitzgerald Orchestra with "I Want to Be a Rug Cutter". Snow shows us how;

After I stopped the camera, I reached my hand up to pet Snow, only to have my arm blunder into this guy's web;

And as I was transferring images and video from camera to computer, I saw this little guy on my wall;

Incredibly, though, there was more to yesterday than spiders. For example, there was this caterpillar I saw on the way to lunch;

For some reason a bunch of caterpillars were trying to cross the path yesterday. This guy was one of the few to survive the journey, judging from the large quantity of squashed caterpillars I also saw.

I walked to a Mexican restaurant, had an enormous veggie burrito, and walked back before getting to work on my comic. I managed to have time for World of Warcraft at the end of the day--my undead warrior reached level 20 a couple nights ago and now I'm letting her learn how to use axes. I have a lot of nice equipment from Tim running me through high level areas--it's nice to have a friend with level 80 characters. The best was when a level 40 Alliance character challenged my level 16 to a duel. He must have been confused when my character refused the duel but continued to stand there, staring at him. He challenged me a couple more times, then finally decided to give up and walk away, but too late to escape Tim's level 80 blood elf paladin who rode in on some demonic skeletal half goat, half horse looking thing. The poor fool tried running but there was no hope. That was fun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Orange Spiders and Infinite Grains of Candy Sand

Twitter Sonnet #30

I only want one very long hour.
Fluttering slow as the rubber bat flies.
Yesterday's tea seems to have gone sour.
Most minotaurs are terribly bad spies.
Hard not to notice the stomping outside.
And it's impossible to sleep with it.
At least werewolves will have a useful hide.
Though it's not quite keen as a nun's habit.
I walked through a web before the front door.
And a big mad spider dropped behind me.
My ambition's to fall asleep by four.
But the night's too nice a stimulus sea.
Daytime's insisting on my attention.
Night still sends agents too strange to mention.

Yesterday I felt so strangely blank. I couldn't quite seem to react to anything, I think I finally became a vegetable. I went for a walk in the late afternoon, ate lunch at the Greek place and played chess on my iPod while I was waiting. It was the first time I can remember really coming close to beating the iPod--the main problem against a computer is that sacrificing tactics tend not to work. Doing something audacious, like sacrificing a knight to take out a pawn, tends not to cause uncertainty in a computer opponent the way it does a human. Failures of psychological tactics are one of the sure ways you can tell someone you're playing against online is using a computer programme.

One shouldn't walk and play chess, by the way--I was concentrating so hard on the game I didn't notice Snow the cat happily following me into the house.

But the game didn't get my mind working well enough to get real work done on the next Venia's Travels script. I didn't get any writing momentum until I walked to Denny's at around 11:30, where I wrote a few pages I was very happy with. When I came back, I walked straight into a spider web stretched across the path to the front door. I looked back to see the big orange spider angrily lowering himself to the ground, remaking the strands I'd torn. For some reason I heard Gloucester from King Lear in my head saying, "'Twas most ignobly done, to pluck me by the beard!"

I took some video;

The music's from the Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei soundtrack.

None of the still photos I took came out because the wind was moving him around too much. I was looking into the focus options on my camera later last night, and got frustrated with what seems to be too many automatic preset configurations in place of a simple dial that might allow me to adjust focus manually. Neil Gaiman linked in his blog last night to this article by Kyle Cassidy about depth of field and I'm wondering if the lens he mentions might be one I can actually buy and attach to my camera. Something I might look into on a day when I have more time.

I watched "Weird Al" Yankovic's new video to-day, a Doors pastiche that features Doors' keyboardist Ray Manzarek on keyboards. Maybe I'm overthinking it, but I didn't find the song and video funny so much as very interesting. It seems to me a provoking juxtaposition of The Doors/late 1960s belief in spiritual meaning and mystery found through sexual experimentation with the oddly mundane quality fetishes and hedonistic sexuality have taken thanks to the internet. I think the song would actually fit well in a Doors compilation, as it provides a sort of narrative arc that way. It's a song that I think might make people think about whether sexual exploration has lost meaning or if much of society is simply becoming too cynical.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tenuous Foundations

Dodes'ka-den (1970)
Directed by Akira Kurosawa

Continuing his lifelong obsession with subjective reality, Kurosawa's first colour film adopts what is for him an unprecedentedly negative view of dreams. Though for the most part, a sense of purpose and meaning derived by an attachment to illusory perceptions of the world and self is shown as essentially neutral, rendering aid or harm only due to other factors, it's also shown to be a key ingredient in destruction.

The title of the film is an onomatopoeia for the sound of a moving trolley, as is demonstrated by the first introduced of an ensemble of characters, a mentally impaired boy who leads a pantomimed life of a trolley operator. The beginning of the film shows the remarkable young actor, Yoshitaka Zushi, who had already shown extraordinary talent as the child thief in Red Beard, going through an excellent pantomime of preparing and operating his invisible trolley with such extraordinary attention to detail one can only assume the actor spent hours studying real conductors. "Dodes'ka-den, dodes'ka-den," he repeats as he shuffles through the shanty town where the rest of the film's ensemble dwell, and it's obvious the boy's imaginary train and livelihood are representative of the primary motives of all the characters--everyone's life is consumed with an invisible train, a dream fostered almost exclusively by their own imaginations.

The Lower Depths had already demonstrated Kurosawa's perspective on how the poor require illusion for survival, or the hope and self-respect required to live another day are unattainable. Dodes'ka-den highlights the disaster always just barely kept at bay by the tenuous lifestyle.

A man named Hei leads a somnambulant existence in the shanty town, never speaking and walking numbly though his daily routine, regarding any who speak to him with what one character observes are remarkably dead eyes. In one of the bold decisions of Kurosawa's fledgling colour film career, the colouring of the crude houses in which the characters dwell are all coordinated with their personalities, and Hei's is the most subdued, barely more than a mottled beige.

The lighting is expressionistic as well, as when a woman visits Hei, and her face is invariably bathed in warm yellow light and Hei's is cast in cold, subtle blue.

The woman speaks to Hei, and in the process we learn that she was his wife and that he had caught her cheating on him. He maintains his silence and she joins him in his silent routine, pleading for his forgiveness. But we never see any overt sign that he's angry with her--aside from accepting a meal she prepared, Hei maintains his silence and inexpressive manners until the woman decides he hasn't forgiven her and leaves. But because Hei never actually conveys any emotion or desire, the woman is forced to turn to her own imagination in order to create the scenario in which she feels it appropriate to move on, which is an instance of the imagination functioning as a means of self-preservation.

A beggar and his young son live in a volkswagen bug--the son begs for food at various restaurants in town and brings them back to his father who regularly holds forth on the tragedy of modern Japan's divergence from tradition. He's also constructing a totally imaginary home for himself and his son, which the movie shows us with dreamy, candy-bright coloured imagery.

It's this plot that most exploits Kurosawa's painter sensibilities, as realistic backgrounds are totally replaced by garish painted clouds and the actor's faces, after contracting food poisoning, are painted with bold Noh white and black smudges.

It's here perhaps that the negative quality of delusion is best shown, as the beggar's complete denial of the food poisoning has deadly results that cause his enduring fantasy of the house to take on a horrific quality.

Not all the incidences of flexible perceptions are unhappy, though--another subplot involves two day labourers who swap spouses one drunken night, and carry on normally for a few days until another night of drinking causes one to fret over the fact that the colour of the house he lives in doesn't match his clothes, an odd moment where Kurosawa's aesthetic conceit breaks into a character's reality conception.

Made a year before Kurosawa's attempted suicide, one's tempted to infer a relationship between the film and the director's mental state. It was Kurosawa's first box office failure and came at a time of estrangement from friends and collaborators, and the film was produced on a tiny budget that must have seemed even smaller after the extravagantly expensive Red Beard. But Dodes'ka-den also contains among its multiple subplots two stories that directly deal with suicide, a subject Kurosawa avoided almost entirely throughout his career, despite the fact that his older brother, Heigo, whom Akira looked up to, committed suicide when Akira was in his 20s.

Drawing conclusions about an artist from his or her work is a tricky proposition, as one has inevitably to draw such conclusions based on one's own impressions of methodology. An extreme example of the potential folly would be someone who assumes Quentin Tarantino enjoys butchering people because it's a recurring subject of his films. Extreme violence or incredible occurrences in art are often use to illustrate or satiate subtler ideas or compulsions--violence in horror and action films can serve to indulge naturally vicious inclinations in the audience who would not in real life engage in such activities due to moral considerations, and Oedipus Rex uses extreme examples of murder and abnormal sex to illustrate subtler psychological issues.

But the ways in which suicide is handled in Dodes'ka-den illustrate to me Kurosawa's inability or reluctance to touch too directly on its most significant problems. Among the slum's denizens, an old man named Tanba is portrayed as a wise figure whose two or three sentence lines are frequently taken or shown as accurate interpretations of characters and situations or solutions for them. In one scene, an old man who's having thoughts of suicide comes to Tanba seeking advice, and Tanba tricks him into taking a harmless digestive pill instead of a lethal poison. When Tanba reminds the man of the pain his friends and family will experience at his death, the man becomes panicked and wishes to live, at which point Tanba explains his deception. It's a fairly standard fictional handling of suicide, the argument that someone needs to consider the feelings of others before committing suicide, though the character phrases it in terms of the dream realities necessary for survival by stating that, in killing himself, the man damages the integrity of the dreams of those around him. Such an argument misses the point that it's often the guilt about the effect one has on others that causes or contributes to the suicidal depression.

The second case of suicide is far more interesting, coming out of a subplot about a middle aged man and his quiet niece, Katsuko, who works day and night making paper flowers for the man's business while his wife is in the hospital. A sake delivery boy routinely comes by to deliver sake to the uncle and has a crush on Katsuko. He tells her to run away from her uncle, pointing out how the man spends all day drinking sake rather than helping the girl in her work. But Katsuko never speaks, and she spends most of the movie expressionlessly bent over the flowers or walking slowly through town, her head slumped.

After her uncle rapes her, there's almost no visible change in her behaviour until a few days later when a police officer tells the uncle and his wife that Katsuko's in custody after stabbing the sake delivery boy. The uncle immediately jumps at the chance to implicate the delivery boy for the rape of the now pregnant Katsuko, who'd refused to speak of the man who'd assaulted her. Why would Katsuko attack the man who'd warned her about her uncle, while saying nothing of the uncle's crime? There was a sort of Dostoevskian logic to this--it seemed at first to me that Katsuko's actions were an effort to destroy the perception that anything wrong had happened, and to this end attempted to kill the one person who had seen the reality of her uncle's brutality. He would have been especially dangerous because he'd noticed the uncle's bad nature before Katsuko was raped.

However, when the delivery boy survives and Katsuko eventually tells the police of her uncle's crime, she explains to the delivery boy that the reason she'd attacked him was that she wanted to kill herself and that it occurred to her he might forget her if she was dead, which made her angry. This is the only time she speaks in the entire film, prefacing the words by explaining she's not sure she can put how she feels into words. The extreme emotions attached to things seemingly only tangentially related to what had actually happened to her suggest a complicated web of repression and guilt in the young woman, and the conceptions of reality she'd put together to survive her unequivocally bad living situation.

My tweets from last night;

Hard not to notice the stomping outside.
And it's impossible to sleep with it.
At least werewolves will have a useful hide.
Though it's not quite keen as a nun's habit.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Masochism Fatigue

Last night's tweets;

I only want one very long hour.
Fluttering slow as the rubber bat flies.
Yesterday's tea seems to have gone sour.
Most minotaurs are terribly bad spies.

Okay, here's my second attempt at a post. I started writing a long analysis of Dodes'ka-den, which I watched on Friday, but I'm so tired right now forcing my thoughts through is like pushing Play-Doh through a balloon. Yeah, it doesn't make sense and it's impossible.

Lots of noises starting here to-day at around noon and I stayed up too late--just before I went to sleep at 4:40am, I had this weird urge to start watching Goldfinger. I only watched the beginning. I started wondering if James Bond's less than flattering portrayal in the third League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book is due to Sean Connery's instrumental role in making the film adaptation of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen a piece of shit. But Bond's unabashed and oddly guileless misogyny is certainly a ripe and satisfying target for parody, too rarely exploited.

It's remarkable what babies men can be, at least the ones who fancy themselves as the furthest thing possible from babies. Goldfinger seems to go out of its way to create a safe and gentle environment for a man to slap women's asses and dismiss their thoughts you wonder how anyone watching could possibly take such a worldview seriously. I started thinking about Artie Lange on The Howard Stern Show last week, who, as much as I like him, can become really tiresome in his pronouncements on the stupidity of women. He's a smart man, and he does bring up genuine examples of stupid women, but he seems to hold female stupidity as greater cause for retribution than male stupidity or ineptitude, something that was emphasised for me last week when Lange shared his surprising tendency to write rather soppy amateur poems for his girlfriends. Of course, he expects them to value the poems for his evident loving intentions rather than for the quality of the work, a consideration he too rarely seems interested in reciprocating.

I can only really feel bad for him at this point, though, because it sounds like he's got a new girlfriend who's destined to completely break his heart. He picked her up at a tanning salon, and within weeks she appears to utterly adore him. One M.O. in life I've come to really dislike is that of the excessive flatterer. I can't really hate the person, because they mean well and are likely totally ignorant of what they're really doing, but I've seen it time and again--people who translate their great enthusiasm for someone or something new into words of unequivocal praise. People who lack an awareness and control of their emotions--ire for them may not seem necessary, but then you need to think of the people who take the flattery seriously. Artie, for example, who's obviously not sensitive to all the relevant issues in the relationship between men and women. One could say Artie deserves the incoming pain when the woman's enthusiasm inevitably dims and he realises the flattery was based more on her feelings than on her accurate impressions of his nature. But while Artie might be a misogynist, he's also a guy who gave thirteen thousand dollars to a woman with cancer who called into the show, which is only one example of Artie's habitual generosity and apparent genuine desire to do good. Too often, punishment's dealt without consideration of the offender's intentions and basic nature. Roger Ebert, in one of his reviews the other day, quoted from Citizen Kane, the bit where Gettys told Kane that he's going to need more than one lesson, and he's going to get it. One might observe that Kane didn't learn anything from the sort of "lessons" Gettys meant, in fact, the effect of pain only seemed to further atrophy Kane's better qualities.

I guess there's something to be said for treating infantile men with gentleness, though such gentle techniques probably ought to be of more substantial content than Goldfinger.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Whole Court is Out of Order

Twitter Sonnet #29

Pea soup for lunch makes me very tired.
So I take an apple for my upper.
But my real pep's totally expired.
My horse for your kingdom or a supper.
I ought to have bought a better brandy.
What I have is as smooth as granola.
There needs to be more ready eye candy.
I'd see movies made by Mike Mignola.
I'd see solid colours guide drunken eyes.
Good Greek food is usually worth the wait.
There's no need to carefully analyse.
The best food is too often used for bait.
Good ideas are strange and scary to eat.
And there's something vaguely sad in the meat.

Yesterday I got the good Greek veggie plate and took it to Tim's where he and I played World of Warcraft for a while. He told me that, apparently, people who violate WOW rules somehow are sent to a room with no doors and a GM meets them in character to interrogate them. It actually sounds kind of cool to break the rules in WOW.

Not much else to say about yesterday--I watched a movie last night, but I don't have time now to talk about it. Instead, here's some video I took a few minutes ago, in which Snow frustrates my efforts to document the death of a bee;

In a rush, I figured out how to add music to a video clip with Windows Movie Maker. This is all too easy . . . The music's public domain, Ella Fitzgerald, "Sing Song Sing".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Monsters in Shirts!

I sweat sparkles! I'M A VAMPIRE!

I came across this shirt in the back of my closet, wondered why I don't wear it anymore, examined it and discovered I'd hid it to conceal my terrible vampiric secret.

Actually, it was more like the shirt got gunk in the armpits from some strange deodorant brand and I guess the sparkles got stuck there . . . I really have no idea where the sparkles came from.

Incidentally, if you buy one Rifftones song (and they're all pretty good), I can't recommend "Sparkly Vampires" enough.

My tweets of night last;

I ought to have bought a better brandy.
What I have is as smooth as granola.
There needs to be more ready eye candy.
I'd see movies made by Mike Mignola.

Was drinking Raynal "Rare Old French Brandy". Somehow I drank half the bottle before I noticed it wasn't very good--last night was the first time I'd had a glass of it in months, vaguely feeling I shouldn't waste it.

I finished uploading the new Venia's Travels chapter and posting all the notifications of the update--on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Live Journal, and Online Comics--at around 1:30am last night. I don't know why I don't post updates on my MySpace. I supposed I probably should. It'd probably be more useful than posting to OnlineComics, which is usually so hosed these days I can't imagine many people casually browsing it for comics anymore.

Anyway, I really wanted to watch a movie but just didn't have time. I thought maybe of trying to watch a short one--Jean Cocteau's movies are all pretty short. But indecision was crippling. Instead I ended up just playing World of Warcraft and drinking. Not such a bad way to spend an evening, especially since I'm feeling an intense desire to just veg for a couple days.

I see a possible topless Mona Lisa has been found. Looks like even the Huffington Post staff writer is giggly about it--they're breasts, people, get over it. There're nearly twice as many breasts as there are women in the world. What mainly fascinates me is how muscular her arms are.

Here's something else I saw on Huffington Post;

I guess it's no surprise that Sarah Palin's not the smartest lady in the world, but the fact that her interpretations of Letterman's jokes inserted rape and her 14 year old daughter into the scenarios is kind of an interesting reflection of the crudity of her own mind. Now Michael Steele's calling for a Letterman boycott--this is how propaganda works, I guess. Take a highly subjective interpretation of something that happened and let it steamroll through followers.

Anyway, I like Conan O'Brien, but now I'm really hoping Letterman holds the lead in the ratings. Of course, I don't actually have time myself these days to watch any late night television . . .

Venia and Life in the Forest

The new Venia's Travels is online. The previous chapter began with a Fiona Apple reference, this one has a Cream line. Some might also think of this song;

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Inevitability of Pretty

Last night's tweets;

Pea soup for lunch makes me very tired.
So I take an apple for my upper.
But my real pep's totally expired.
My horse for your kingdom or a supper.

Last night's spider in my bathroom;

The spider outside;

I capture them in empty CD spools and set them loose on the front porch. It's amazing how they keep showing up. There must be a bottomless egg sack in the sink drain or something, like the pipes in Super Mario Brothers that endlessly produce goombas.

Last night I watched "Revelations", a third season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The past couple episodes have been very good, and the show finally seems to be moving away from the Real Teen Issues Transformed! format. I think Jane Espenson is one of the main reasons--her first episode, "Band Candy", was one of the most solid episodes of the series so far. I felt more involved with the story, things felt less like a theoretical situation, if that makes sense. It was nice after the episode called "Homecoming", about Buffy and Cordelia's battle for homecoming queen, that was so awful I had to stop watching halfway through. I ended up watching part of Vertigo again instead. It's gotten so every second of that movie is utterly beautiful, every line, every delivery. Even knowing Hitchcock originally wanted Vera Miles for Madeleine, Kim Novak seems irreplaceable. I've only seen two other movies with her, Picnic and Bell, Book, and Candle. The latter's not bad, the former is thoroughly bad and self important--and an academy award winner, so that's three qualities that make it the Paul Haggis Crash of the 1950s.

I love when Wikipedia articles are oh-so-subtly opinionated, as from Picnic's article;

Although Novak's character was quietly rebelling against being thought of as "only pretty," she has nonetheless been criticized as being too passive in the role.

Yes, despite certifiably doing everything right, there are some people who think she did it wrong. I believe God was quoted as saying, "Fuck the haters."

So, yes, "Revelations" was good, and not just for this shot;

But, marone, what a nice shot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Devil in the Magazine

Twitter Sonnet #28

Have you told your Turkish bow about Christ?
What are they teaching you in wombs these days?
The fake text books are reasonably priced.
And provide protection from the sun's rays.
I see spaghetti is all around you.
It shouldn't be so hard to find parking.
Many must choose between yellow and blue.
To figure which way the sunset's sinking.
I now have seven cans of saltless soup.
I could tell the cashier was quite impressed.
Ravens have loudly let me in their loop.
Perks include severe reductions in rest.
I might need to be there for my murder.
I do hear they're knitting me a sweater.

Turned out the sweater was actually for a voodoo doll version of me. But if they're happy, I'm happy.

One of the hazards of sleeping during the day is that the noisy ravens outside can wake you up. But to-day I actually just spontaneously woke at 2pm, which was the time I set my alarm for, though my alarm failed to go off. I seem to have a pretty good internal alarm system, or maybe it's just that I don't sleep well.

Got lots of soup yesterday along with apples, peanuts, matriciana sauce, and flat bread, a different brand from what I normally get. It's a bit saltier and has a bit more of a buttery flavour than what I'm used to, but it's good. The sauce was excellent--Francis Ford Coppola's line has been consistently good.

I stocked up mainly because I wanted to not have to leave the house for a couple days. It seems like every day for the past couple weeks has presented its own set of distractions. So as of now I have only the first six pages of the next chapter drawn and inked and four completely coloured. To-day I'll just concentrate on drawing and inking the last two pages and finish the colouring to-night and to-morrow.

One of the smaller distractions yesterday (that was certifiably my fault) was watching Howard Stern's recent appearance on David Letterman and getting caught up watching previous Stern appearances on Letterman.

In this 1984 clip I saw exactly the rapist/ham radio enthusiast glasses I mentioned yesterday;

It's no wonder Stern lets other people dress him for appearances now--every article of clothing on him looks like it's exactly the wrong choice. It's sort of impressive. But maybe the most remarkable thing about this clip is that David Letterman actually seems happy. The contrast with the recent interview really emphasises the complete spiritual fatigue that seems to be weighing him down now. Equally remarkable is that Stern seems to be exactly the same guy now inside older skin.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Internal Traffic Lights

Last night's tweets;

I see spaghetti is all around you.
It shouldn't be so hard to find parking.
Many must choose between yellow and blue.
To figure which way the sunset's sinking.

I'm running late to-day because I wasted a lot of time shopping for eyeglasses without ever finding what I want. There's really not much of a selection--I went all over the mall to every shop and department store that sells glasses, I saw hundreds of frames, but all of them were basically one of four models with slight variations--a pair of ovals, a pair of rectangles, Buddy Holly, and 1977 rapist/ham radio enthusiast with a superfluous bar connecting the lenses at the top. Doesn't anyone know about perfect circles anymore?

Maybe I oughta get a pair like this;

I also had to do a lot of grocery shopping and when I saw Soul Calibur 3 at the mall's new arcade, I couldn't resist beating it. It occurred to me the greatest thing about video games is that they are the one thing that truly gets my mind off things I might be obsessing about--not even alcohol does as good a job.

As I was leaving the house, there were a couple ravens making a racket outside. I took some hasty pictures;

That's a bad apple I was eating a couple days ago. The picture was still in my camera--forgot to post it. The juxtaposition reminds me of this illustration from one of my old web sites;