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August 2004 Archives

August 1, 2004

An offer they can't refuse possibly maybe.

When Scott Kurtz gets serious for a moment, you'd better listen. From his talk at San Diego Comic-Con, 2004:

...If Coca-cola wants to use newspaper advertising to strengthen it's brand, it has to pay for that kind of exposure. The syndicates makes millions from their comic features via books, television, movies and merchandise. The only way they are able to sustain that kind of income is due to the exposure and advertising that the newspapers give them. But the syndicates offer nothing in return. The funny pages are full of retreaded old strips that have lived way past their prime. Entertainment wise, they provide nothing. The syndicates really got a sweet deal. But that's about to change.

...

This year, the California based company Knight Ridder, which owns 31 daily papers around the country, has demanded a 20 percent reduction in the rates its papers pay for comic strips. If the syndicates don't comply, Knight Ridder is threatening to cancel more than 100,000 dollars worth of business. The newspapers are wising up and they're unwilling to pay. The Syndicates have nothing to offer them save a large bill. I've talked to a couple of syndicated cartoonists and even they see the writing's on the wall. One cartoonist, who I won't name, said to me "If any one newspaper would get the balls to just 86 their comics page, and suffer through the months of letters they would receive, we'd be done for. Once the papers realize they can survive dropping the comics page, everyone will do it."

He discusses being approached by a syndicate only to find that they wouldn't allow him to retain the rights to it. So instead of taking the syndicate's offer, he makes one himself:

In the coming months, I'll be putting into effect, a program in which papers can receive PVP for free. That's right, free. They don't have to pay me a cent for it. I will provide for the papers, a comic strip with a larger established audience then any new syndicated feature, a years worth of strips in advance, and I won't charge them a cent for it.

The exposure and prestige of PvP appearing in daily papers would more than pay for itself in a months time. In exchange, I can offer the papers a comics feature that's tried and tested, funny and best of all, free. They have nothing to lose or risk financially. They can see, in advance, a years worth of strips so they don't risk me flaking out on them. Most of all, I can provide them with yet another bargaining chip against the very syndicates. This is the perfect climate to take this step.

I've always been wary of trading free work for exposure, except when, like in Scott's case, the trade-off is offered by the one doing the work. Scott generally knows what he's doing (witness the success of PVP online and the PVP comic books) It'll be interesting to see how this pans out in a year's time.

August 2, 2004

Crashing and burning, hard.

Completely contrary to my cycling post of two days ago I now feel like shit. I'd been trying like mad to work ahead to be able to go on a two-week sailing holiday, but yesterday evening I finally broke down and realised that I was driving myself around the bend to produce a page or more a day and get all my other stuff done, and that that was exactly the wrong way to approach a vacation. Plus I'd have to get straight back into scramble mode the day after my return. Fortunately I hadn't actually booked anything (yes, it would have been very last minute) so I could cancel it without worrying about the cost except in terms of embarrassment towards all the people I told I was going.

It was the right decision. I can tell because I felt overwhelming relief after calling it off. However, what with the pressure coming off so abruptly, I'm a bit demotivated and deflated. I'll probably lose a day's worth of work anyway as a result.

All is not lost, though. I have a much healthier buffer than I used to have, I've proven to myself that I can still work fast and produce decent ROCR pages (only the one I made yesterday is sub-par. Dunno if anyone else will notice but I don't like it), and I've been telling so many people that I'm interested in sailing that I'm sure opportunities to give it a try will come my way.

And I'm going to do other fun things instead. I'm gonna have fun, dammit! I'll go cycling a few more times, visit Geir in Norway (I'll book the flight this week, once I've coordinated with him. Thanks to my preparations I've found out that Basiqair operates some affordable Scandinavian services) go to parties and do my work and stuff in a relaxed fashion. Not as good as the sailing looked when I was thinking about it, but the cost in added stress will be a lot less.

I'm back!

A full report must, I fear, wait, but I was reading Henry Fielding's Tom Jones on the plane, and must quote a bit:

Allusions to this part are likewise often made in the sake of jest. And here, I believe, the wit is generally misunderstood. In reality, it lies in desiring another to kiss your arse, for having just offered to kick his; for I have observed very accurately that noone desires you to kick that which belongs to himself, nor offers to kiss this part in another.

It may likewise seem surprising that in the many thousand kind invitations of this sort, which everyone who has conversed with country gentlemen must have heard, no one, I believe, hath ever seen a single instance where the desire hath been complied with. A great instance of their want of politeness; for in town nothing can be more common than for the finest gentlemen to perform this ceremony every day to their superiors without having that favour once requested of them.

Don't be surprised if you see a reference to this passage in Dangerous and Fluffy a bit down the line...

August 4, 2004

Wednesday cycling extravaganza: Groningen-Schiermonnikoog

Today was dedicated to an extra day of cycling, from Groningen to the island of Schiermonnikoog. Originally, this day was penciled into the schedule as an attempt to compensate for me being away for the next three Saturdays, but it only became a certainty after my sailing trip was canceled. Another reason why I was personally keen to add a day to the schedule was that I'm also doing this to get fit, and once a week didn't seem to be enough anymore. We'll most likely be off again on Saturday.

Today's trip took Sidsel and me to the familiar destination of Lauwersoog, where we'd been before back in May, and from there on the ferry to Schiermonnikoog, where we rode to the beach and went for a swim. "Oog", by the way, is a Germanic suffix meaning Island. You see it in islands' names all the way up to Scandinavia.

Continue reading "Wednesday cycling extravaganza: Groningen-Schiermonnikoog" »

August 5, 2004

Loxie and Zoot guest comic

Kel, ready to paaaaaaahr-tay! I did a guest comic for Loxie and Zoot on the occasion of the comic's first anniversary on Keenspace (and the 7th anniversary of the comic's first appearance). The comic is running a Birthday Party storyline right now, in which characters from many webcomics show up to celebrate at the title characters' naturist resort.
I've known Stephen, the artist, online for some time, and I'm glad to see that having the comic on Keenspace has revitalised it and brought it many new readers! He has another comic, Magellan, on there as well now, which I recommend the Graphic Smash people to look into because the combination of superheroes and a European-inspired clear-line style is very appealing and the writing is really strong.

A personal note on the guest art: I hated it when I was drawing it, but I found that most of the problems I had with it went away when I put some flat colors, mostly cloned from one of Stephen's comics, on the art. Flat color has the effect of solidifying shape and can actually make less-than-stellar drawing look good. The more plastic, shaded color I've been using for the past few years, on the other hand, needs good drawing to work at all, which is why I'm often disappointed.

August 6, 2004

"Let Life mean Life"

Continuing on a topic (albeit not deliberately) that was raised in the comments here, David T at Harry's Place argues in favour of abolishing the mandatory life sentence for murder in the UK:

Continue reading ""Let Life mean Life" " »

Accomplishment!

My new cycling hobby is becoming more expensive, not just in money but also in time and energy. I have bought a new saddle, a (very expensive) new tire, (trekker-quality) inner tube and wheel ribbon for the front wheel, a saddlebag and some repair stuff. This morning I went to work to install them on my bike, and contrary to expectations, I ended up without major injuries and with the bike in better shape after the procedure than before. I even got the saddlebag mounted the right way up on the third try!
Also I only did a modest amount of swearing during the time it took. Not nearly enough to cause those rain showers late in the afternoon, oh no sirree.

August 7, 2004

Arr....

Arr... well, it looks like I may have gotten the script to Jeroen a bit late, and I haven't seen him all today. I'm a bit worried about whether we'll be able to update properly, but, happily, I have a lot of the original sketches he did before the comic started, and if all else fails, I can make an update with them.

Basically, the problem was that I knew I had my grandmother's memorial and various other things coming up, and made appropriate allowances. What I didn't expect was to not get any work done during the family reunion that surrounded the memorial, nor did I expect to suffer from really horrible jetlag on my arrival back.

However, we're near the end of a chapter. There's only three scenes left to be done, and all of them are terribly visually complex, and I only got scripts to Jeroen on Thursday because of the aforementioned Jetlag (well, actually, he had one of them on Wednesday, but it was the strip that should rightfully go after the next one.)

...In other words, I goofed. Ah, well. First major goof since the comic started.

-Adam.

P.S. Will update once I track down Jeroen and learn more.

I've been had!

Is there no honesty left in the world?
A friend of mine is currently on a two month trip in Peru. Being tall, blond and by Peruvian standards very wealthy, you sort of expect people to try and rip you off now and again. This indeed happens quite a lot. Usually if you pay attention you can prevent being overcharged for every and all things. Still, she was less thrilled when her bag got stolen when she fell asleep in a bus...
But this is another continent! I live in the First world, Europe, the Netherlands.
Clean healthy living, surely you can expect not to get ripped off every purchase you make? Not so! Fixing up my racing bike, no doubt inspired by Reinders' bicycle adventures, I discovered I needed a new front wheel. Off I go to one of the main bicycle stores in Groningen and buy said wheel. At home I spend about an hour trying to get the tire around the rim and wondering why it doesn't fit. In between fixing a flat for three ladies passing by. Do I accept their reward money? Of course not! That's how I was raised, and in a society such as ours, I see no reason not to be kind and help a stranger.
The people at the bicycle store think otherwise. When after an hour I still couldn't fit the tire around the rim, I began to suspect it wasn't me bungling, it may just be the wrong wheel. As it was almost closing time I went to a nearby bicycle shop (yes, there is one on every corner here). "You've been had laddie!" this man told me. You've been sold a 27" wheel. It is an odd size and you'll be buggered if you can find a tire that fits it." It also turned out I paid twice the amount the wheel was actually worth. Ofcourse then it was too late to go back to the other shop, so now I'm stuck with an incomplete bike and I can look forward to do some shouting first thing monday morning. Yay!
Bastards...

August 8, 2004

I've installed MT-Blacklist

This is the place to test if legitimate comments get through. Post away! Any old nonsense will do, even Republican talking points.

Update, Sep 14, 2004: this entry now seems very popular with real spammers, so I'm ending the test and closing the topic. First topic I've closed since installing MT-Blacklist. I was rather hoping I wouldn't have to do that again...

Saturday cycling: Groningen-Spijk

I've noticed that this cycling stuff has become contagious (I've got some evidence for this from my mailbox and phone conversations as well). I'l start posting some non-cycling stuff here soon, to prevent it from becoming Reinder's cycling diary, but before then, here's a bit about Saturdays' trip to Spijk, in the north-east of the province.

This was a shorter than usual trip, but it was harder than we anticipated for three reasons:

1. The heat. It was a tropical day, meaning we sweated a lot and were even more loaded up than usual with bottles of water. Sidsel had had the foresight to put a few plastic bottles in the freezer beforehand and take them in an insulation bag, so we had cold water all day. By the way, during all of our trips we were loaded up like mules, carrying at least 3 kg of provisions with us, plus, in my case, camera and sketchbook.
2. The wind. The northeastern area is flat and wide-open. It's like a steppe. It's pretty but going upwind is no fun.
3. Our, uhm, hangovers. We'd been partying the night before and Sidsel had been partying the night before that. So we were even more dehydrated than we would otherwise have been. In the old days, I would have stayed in bed all morning and tried fatuously to work later in the day. Getting some exercise instead was a good idea but it wasn't easy at all.

Why Spijk? Well, we thought we were running out of destinations, and didn't feel like going due east to the German border because that area looks a bit boring on the map. However, at the end of our trip we had a talk with a woman in a bar in Winneweer, who pointed out some interesting destinations near the border, so we may go there some time. Spijk, in any case, was simply a place to aim at.

Continue reading "Saturday cycling: Groningen-Spijk" »

...Well then!

...My fears were unfounded: Jeroen's pulled together and done a truly marvellous job, despite the severely limited time he had, and even despite it being our longest update yet. Here's a sample!

23sample.png

This update should be great.

Wasps

They have nothing to do right now, so they swarm all over the place to eat sugary food, drink beer and pick fights. That's as normal a behaviour for wasps as it is for teenagers, but is it my imagination or are the little striped bastards more than usually annoying this year?

August 10, 2004

Celcius 37

Two months after everyone else in the whole wide world, I saw Fahrenheit 911 the other night. This was what all the fuss was about? 45 minutes of solid but pedestrian documentary making about the troops in Iraq, their experiences and their background, preceeded by 75 minutes of snark and innuendo?
That said, the editing was very strong, the soundtrack would be a worthy edition to my music collection and the portrayal of President Bush's personal ineptitude and lack of seriousness was right on the money. Also, the bit about the alert colors and the culture of fear resonated with me, having just read Imperial Hubris: Why The West Is Losing The War on Terror.

But these things could have fitted into a much shorter, much less manipulative movie; or one that treated these issues in greater depth. That would have earned F911 the appellation "Documentary", instead of it being merely a luke-warm polemic.

August 11, 2004

Laboratory, obsession, self-consciousness

The Webcomics Examiner's Michael Whitney reviews the evolution of Scary Go Round so I don't have to do that here, at great and gushing length.
In the same issue, Mike Meginnis reviews another perennial favorite of mine, Framed.

Hyperlinking in comments

I'm still waiting to see how MT-Blacklist turns out. I've already got some comment spams that passed through it, but adding them to the blacklist, both by URL and by IP was easy enough.

If I can keep the comments clean of spam, I will liberate them. I will enable hyperlinking, HTML bold and italic tags and images. But only if I'm absolutely sure they won't be abused. It will be a golden age!

Meanwhile, a quick note on my editing policy. Because English is my second language, I occasionally make minor changes to my own blog entries to improve the wording. I reserve the right to do this for my comments as well (and would encourage those who have blog contributor accounts to do the same). However, I will only do this in the first week or so after I've made a post. Any grammar, spelling or semantic goof that still exists after that stays where it is for all to see.

Mark Lynas

(Via Johann Hari at Harry's Place:)

Mark Lynas's blog about climate change looks like one to watch for people interested in environmental/global warming issues. I've only given it a brief glimpse, and can't tell yet if it's going to be like the Informed Comment of global warming, but if it were, that would be much needed.

One thing that jumped out at me is the design, with its threaded comment excerpts on the front page. Me likes.

Working from home

Because it was too hot to work in the studio yesterday, I drew an ROCR page at home, and because it was raining today and I'm paranoid about taking my originals outside when it's raining, I did the coloring at home as well, on my linux machine, in the GIMP version 1.3.
In both cases, this resulted in less-than-average work done slowly. It's not the tools themselves as much as the need to get used to them again after working with the materials I have in the studio: a slanted table, my good inks, Paint Shop Pro.
I'll draw the line at doing the lettering at home. It'll take me too long to figure out how to make it look like it does in all the other pages. I'm FTP'ing the page to a server to pick it up at the studio and will work on it there.

Evening Update: Going to the studio would have been a good idea if it hadn't been stuffy as the tomb and hot as an oven in there. I'm talkin' instant headache. Even leaving the window, the door and the skylight open didn't help, because it was still over 25 C out there, with high humidity.

Top of the world

I'm an adrenalin based person, I guess. I hardly get any work done if there isn't a deadline looming over my shoulder. I think this neither good nor bad.
I've tried to change to no avail so have in stead decided to learn to live with it. I expect this is rather frustrating for people working with me (sorry Adam), but attempts to change this have miserably failed, and only lead to me not enjoying my work.

In general I don't consider myself a thrill seeker. Though this maybe because I never much realised how much fun it can be. Yesterday I went climbing for the first time in my life. I long suspected I'd probably enjoy it, but just never seemed to get around to actually do it.
I did enjoy it. I loved the thrill of having your life hangin by a thread
(ok, a really strong rope) in the hands of someone you've never had to trust in this way. I loved the sense of achievement of picking a difficult route and actually making it to the top. Hanging by the tips of your fingers and switching the positions of your feet 30 ft above the ground.
What I was somewhat surprised by, though, was that of the 4 persons whom I went climbing with, I seemed to be the only one experiencing this thrill. The others enjoyed it, but seemed surprised by the adrenalin rush it gave me. Reinder actually was rather blasé about the experience ("Oh well, I went climbing before").
I'm not sure what to make of this. Maybe they're less competative then I am, maybe my imagination runs wild, or maybe my sense of an adrenaline rush is somewhat askew.
It nags, though...

Domain switcheroo

If all goes well, the ROCR.net domain will soon be registered with Go-Daddy. It should work seemlessly, but well, you never know. Some disruption may occur, especially if GANDI choose to be uncooperative.

I got a decent deal out of it. $23 for two years plus one year free. The process so far has been painless although it was annoying to click "proceed to checkout" and be faced with a page full of sales pitches and another "proceed to checkout" button three times! Can you say "bait and switch"? But then, if they're better than GANDI it will be worth it.

I should be getting back to some people on website development and web design issues. Right now, though, the thought of beginning to speculate about the possibility of thinking seriously about maybe possibly doing design-related stuff is having a hard time gaining access to my mind. I'm still refueling...

August 12, 2004

Spelin reformz 'n Germinnee

Scott Martens at A Fistful of Euros gives us the lowdown on the controversy in Germany over spelling reforms:


Continue reading "Spelin reformz 'n Germinnee" »

Fun from the courts

As a result of writing the trial sequence, I'm getting more interested in what actually goes on in the courtroom. So I enjoyed this report from The Volokh Conspiracy, unfortunately not well-sourced:

A small community in California passed a local ordinance prohibiting fortune telling within its city limits. A fortuneteller named Fatima Stevens brought a lawsuit seeking an injunction against enforcement of the ordinance... our Supreme Court granted a hearing.

As counsel for the fortuneteller rose for oral argument to present her case, Chief Justice Lucas said, "Counsel, you have us at a disadvantage."

The attorney was perplexed. "Why, Your Honor?"

"Well," said the Chief Justice, "hasn't your client told you how this case will ultimately turn out?"


(Volokh:)
On its face this was an irrelevant joke; but it was, intentionally or not, sending a subtle message that fortune-telling is indeed bunk, and that even the lawyer can't be taking it seriously -- something that would have dovetailed well with the city's arguments that fortune-telling is fraudulent and should be banned. Dangerous stuff for the lawyer. Here's how Mosk describes the lawyer's artful dodge:

[...] "No, Your Honor," he replied. "You must remember I did not consult my client for advice. She consulted me."

A judicial interchange worthy of Fafnir and Isolde Shieldbiter, methinks. Volokh reports that the fortune-teller won, by the way.

Keenspot to work to support local community

(Hat tip to Smilodon)
Keenspot has relocated to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and are characteristically optimistic not just about themselves, but also about the community they have moved into:

Crosby said, "It's sad that so many schools are closing down, but I'm really happy that we found this one because it's beautiful here, the people are so nice and we really love it here."

Teri Crosby and her son brought there business from California to South Dakota in hopes of expanding a company on the rise. Crosby owns Keenspot Comics which publishes cartoonists works in books and over the internet.

Crosby said, "It's gigantic and the web has made it so that anyone can get on there and do what they want to do where newspapers are so limited."

Crosby is already talking about expanding her business at old Cresbard High School taking one of the old classrooms and making it a studio which will change the book of comics into animated cartoons. Now the building and the town have room for potential growth.


Mayor Kretschmer said, "So many times these small towns, that these schools when they close that's the end and you just don't get a second chance."

Now the community believes it can have a prosperous future thanks to a company that has Cresbard in its future.

[...]

The community could get back some of the school. The town is working with Keenspot to open a library in part of the building and save the gym for community events. Long range plans include transforming the old football field into a drive-in movie theater.


Source: Keloland television.

More new avatars

I showed Adam Friday's ROCR page, and he immediately turned the pictures of the Grimborgsman from the third and fourth panels into MSN avatars. So I encouraged him to share, and here they are:
grimsborgman icon grimsborgman icon 2

I do requests, by the way.

Elaborating a bit: I like it when people use my art in avatars. Feel free to cut them out of any ROCR page that you can view. I know people have done so in the past, because I occasionally see them on forums. It's good advertising for me, especially when people are asked where that picture comes from. Even if no-one asks and my name isn't mentioned in connection with the avatar, it increases the presense of my art style, which I think is still a good thing.
If you make an avatar, though, please send me a copy so I can post it on the blog and share it with others. Your input into the work will be acknowledged, and while the odds of you meeting someone in forum with the same avatar are pretty small, somebody else out there will be happy to use it.

August 13, 2004

Bizarre legs

I've always been a fan of the Bizarre Breasts feature at Sequential Tart, and I'm anxiously awaiting its return some time possibly maybe. While I'm waiting, this little gem posted by Fearless Leader will fill the gap and assure the readers that there is still plenty to mock in corporate comics.

August 14, 2004

Desirable

SteelStringBackpackerGuitar.jpgI saw this backpacker guitar from Martin in one of the local music shops, and couldn't resist playing a few chords on it. It has a surprisingly good sound, a bit like the parlor-type guitars that Ian Anderson plays. In fact, I think if you fit it with a pick-up, it would work well in that sort of context: an acoustic guitar in front of an electric rock band. The lack of bottom end wouldn't be noticeable at all, and the volume would be amplified anyway. I wouldn't mind having this one to carry along with me while traveling at all. It's not quite as good as IA's parlor guitars, but certainly acceptable for the campfire, especially if like me, you have a... let's say a powerful, vigorous playing style.
What did they economise on to make such a light-weight acoustic guitar? Solidity, mainly. The label warns to only use ultra-light strings. No problem, that.
The model in the shop differed from the one in the picture because the head was smaller, by the way.
Update: I didn't know that Amazon sold musical instruments including the backpacker guitar. I suppose adding it to my wishlist (see this post) would be too much of a long shot.

On Beer and Brewing

I personally only know American beer by reputation; I dimly recall that Budweiser beer was briefly in vogue among the beer snobs I hung out with in the late '80s, in the same way that American beer snobs pretend to like Heineken. I don't remember if I actually tried it. In a previous post, I mentioned a Texan beer that I found acceptable, but that's about it for my experiences with beer from the US of A.
That reputation that I know American beer by is almost uniformly bad, even among the most red-blooded, star-spangled patriotic Americans. The improbably-named Kihm Winship has a large archive of writing about beer and brewing, written over a 30-year period, that tells me why this reputation is justified and how America came to the point where the descendents of German, English, Irish and Scandinavian immigrants saturated the market with swill. That's a good thing, because it means I still won't have to drink the stuff to consider myself knowledgeable about it.
Winship's more recent beer writing (the two historical articles about the devolution of American beer are from 1975 and 1988) focuses on mostly local microbreweries in the Syracuse areas and new, different types of beer hitting the market. There is light at the end of the tunnel, it seems.

Wot No Saturday Cycling?

Sorry, Sidsel is moving house and I'm trying to catch up with my work. We may get ourselves in gear again on Tuesday. Meanwhile, enjoy this link reader Boreger sent me: Hauling cargo by bike.

Come to think of it, maybe we could have turned Sidsel's move into our Saturday cycling adventure...

Wish list!

Speaking of desirable things:
Exactly a month from now, on September 14, it'll be my birthday. I'll turn 33, so I'll probably be a bit sad. Oh, how I long for the days when my head was full of black hair and birthdays were the occasion to make up long, improbable wish lists that my mom would have to trudge halfway through town to even begin complying with!

Well I can't bring my hair back and after looking at pictures from those days I'm not sure that I want to. But I can bring back the joy of wish lists, thanks to Amazon! See my wishlist and if you're feeling kindly disposed to me for bringing you ROCR 3 times a week (or if you're a long lost friend who happens to be reading this after a google search), why not send me an item from it? It will make me less sad.

ROCR forum roundup

In the Reinder Dijkhuis Forum recently:

Irrational Fears

More proof that Ursula Vernon rocks
Looks like the dominant theme for the day has been to plug stuff. Let me finish off with one more:

Irrational Fears, August's Modern Tales Longplay comic, is worth the price of a Modern Tales subscription all by itself. It's by Ursula Vernon, and features a chupacabra representation of herself battling monsters, aided by a dust bunny. It has the same dry humor that makes her fantastic Graphic Smash feature Digger such a joy, and best of all: it's all in color! She's pretty damned good at that too! A must-read.

Shaenon Garritty, Modern Tales Longplay's editor, decribes it as follows:

Ursula Vernon is one of my favorite new webcartoonists. Her fantasy epic Digger, about a resourceful wombat lost in a distant land of Hindu gods, shadow children, and library rats, is frequently and rightly cited as one of the highlights of the Modern Tales sister site Graphic Smash. She also does illustration work for novels and RPGs. All in all, she's pretty amazing.

Which is why I'm tickled six shades of pink by the opportunity to publish "Irrational Fears," a full-length, full-color story which just happens to be Vernon's first completed comic. Thrill as a subconscious chupacabra descends into the depths under the bed to confront our greatest irrational fears! Go, on, thrill! I promise you'll enjoy it.

So that's me, and one of webcomics' coolest cartoonists recommending the work of another one of webcomics' coolest cartoonists. You can't go wrong with this. And if you sign up for this comic, you get to finally read ROCR's archives as well.

Continue reading "Irrational Fears" »

August 16, 2004

New promo image for Modern Tales

Kel in distress
I liked this panel from the ROCR page for Monday, August 23 so much that I made it into a promo image. It's not the best graphic design I've done for these promos, but I'm not good at that (and don't enjoy it) anyway, and the picture is strong enough to carry the graphic on its own.
And just for once, I had space to put my name in!

Writer's block

I'm completely blocked when it comes to writing Floor or anything else for that matter. It doesn't show in ROCR because I have both the momentum (or inertia) of a long story that I know inside out and a huge amount of already-written dialogue for this particular sequence. I can develop ROCR on the basis of that.
But the moment I start trying to turn my attention to Floor, my brain turns to mush and insists on being distracted by anything that looks even remotely shiny. If nothing shiny is available, I find something dull to distract me instead.
I'm already late for the editorial deadline for the script, and it's only the fact that the head editor's on holiday and has left a big gap in the schedule to deal with everyone else's holidays that I'm being spared from having editorial wrath rain down on me. I've called in reinforcements from a writer who's helped me out before, but I'm holding out against hope that I will break out of this.

Writers in the audience: What's your writer's block cure?

No one came from miles around, to say "Who's he"?

What if you held Olympic Games and no one came?

In the Olympic tennis stadium, Venus Williams' grunts echoed loudly off several thousand empty seats.

There were so few people at the gymnastics preliminaries that it looked like a high school meet.

Across Athens, on the opening weekend of the Olympics, the scene was the same: Wrestlers grappled in front of only a few hundred fans, archers had the old Olympic stadium nearly to themselves and softball was played before a backdrop of empty stands.

"I watched it on TV and when you looked in the background, you were like, `Wow, it's the Olympics and nobody is there,"' former gymnast Bart Conner said.

Athens organizers, in their rush to finish building some of the sparkling new venues, apparently didn't work as hard trying to fill them. And Greeks are proving to be selective about what they'll pay money to watch, despite ticket prices of as little as $11 a seat for some preliminary competitions.

That's led to some embarrassing scenes, such as Sunday when Williams played in front of only about 500 fans on center court in the Olympic tennis complex. It was so quiet that the first shout of "Come on, Venus!" from the stands -- a constant cry when she plays at big tournaments -- came in the next-to-last game of the match.


At gymnastics, huge sections of seats had no one in them while the women competed, a fact Greek state television duly noted.

"This must be the first time there is an Olympic gymnastics event that didn't have a full arena," a commentator said.

Dyson's Creek

Ned from Dyson's CreekDyson's Creek is, by its own admission, stylistically derivative of Scary Go Round (which I don't think I have to link to again). At times, it gets eerily close. The few strips that I've read are pretty funny though.

Creator Ned Hugar stays close to his own life experiences, meaning we get a queer arts student angle which sets it apart from its main example. One to watch.

Salvaging the day

Colored Courtly Manners 2 panel
Just to feel like I've accomplished something today, I've colored in the first two episodes of the sequel to Courtly Manners, which have been lurking in a folder for a long, long time (here's where the blog starts coming in handy as a memory aide: I posted about this project before on March 8, 2004, and the art was months old then). The flat colors and simple gradients look nice too.

I can color a page of this comic in about an hour this way, and it only takes as long as that because the inking in the original art isn't too good. I must have been looking for a sort of line that I couldn't get, or maybe I was tired or in a hurry. I'm inking much better lately.

I think one contributing factor to the writer's block is that part of me is itching to do something new, not to be locked into one extremely long story and a magazine strip project that has also been going on for three years. Courtly Manners isn't it, but it's still a welcome break from the routine.

August 17, 2004

I forgot to draw in the butterflies and fluffy animals!

I colored three pages of Courtly Manners 2 today, bringing the total to 5. This takes me about 2 hours a page including cleanup, so I was a little too optimistic yestarday.
I'm now re-reading Geir's script for it. Here's his description of that first page I posted back in March:

P1.
Panel 1
Idyllic setting. Out in the forest, in a green clearing between the trees, where sun rays filer down between the branches, surrounded by fluttering butterflies, multicoloured birds and cute little fluffy animals.. Kel, rocking a napping Fay. (Well, actually Fay rests in a hammock held up and rocked by two animated tree-creatures while Kel leans back against the trunk of a tree, munching strawberries and reading her favourite book of errant knights and derring ladies. There must be SOME advantages to being a greenery-affinated faery witch!)
Text: None, but Kel’s expression says it all: “Ahhh…. Peace at last!”
Panel 2
Kel starts mightily a mighty POOF! explodes just in front of her nose. The tree-beings start too, snapping back and forth as if in storm.
Panel 3
Kel, quirking one eyebrow in surprise while the other is linear angered as she reads a golden scroll dripping sparkling star-dust all over the place.
In the background, Fay (we see only the hammock) lets out an enormous WAAAAH! The tree-beings now have reverted to be only trees.
Kel: “What the…”
Panel 4
Kel turns as Kra, enthusiastic as always, storms onto the scene. She is waving a rolled-up scroll, identical to the one Kel is holding. Background solid lettering WAAAAAAAAAH!
Kra: “Kel! Guess what I got in the poofst!”

Sorry, Geir, for not including any butterflies and cute bunnies. I,ehm, forgot. I'll put in some sheep later on if you want.

How should this be published? Not that I'll begin publishing it until it's at least halfway done and there's a good chance of me getting to the end in time, without interruptions. Right now, I'm leaning to publishing it as a free comic on Webcomicsnation, financed by either ads or donations. It has to be financed in some way otherwise I can't afford to put time into it (except one or two days every few months when I'm a bit depressed and suffering from writer's block), but I'd like it to be free so I can draw more of an audience. That part of my online work has suffered a bit in the past two years. Because WCN is free to me as a Modern Tales artist, I may be able to draw a modest profit from some sort of ad-based scheme, although I know it's a long shot.
In any case, I will have to start thinking about the business side long before I start publishing the work itself. It's boring but it has to be done.

August 18, 2004

Olympic link policy idiocy

I was going to write something here about Leontien van Moorsel's gold medal in the woman's cycling time trial event (as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, which beats CNN.com's US-centered coverage hands down):

Three days after a horrific crash in the women's road race, Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel of the Netherlands came back to win her first gold of the Athens Games in the road time trial today, easily defending her title in her favourite event.

The triple gold medallist in the Sydney Games was racing with bruises over most of her body but still finished first over the 24-kilometre coastal course in 31 minutes 11.53 seconds.

Heroic, huh?

But then I read about the games' organisers' link policy, and that sort of took the will to write about the Olympics at all out of me:

For your protection and ours we have established a procedure for parties wishing to introduce a link to the ATHENS 2004 website on their site. By introducing a link to the ATHENS 2004 official Website on your site you are agreeing to comply with the ATHENS 2004 Website General Terms and Conditions. In order to place a link embedded in copy interested parties should:

a) Use the term ATHENS 2004 only, and no other term as the text referent

b) Not associate the link with any image, esp. the ATHENS 2004 Emblem (see paragraph below)

c) Send a request letter to the Internet Department stating:

Short description of site
Reason for linking
Unique URL containing the link (if no unique URL than just the main URL)
Publishing period
Contact point (e-mail address)

Once the request has been mailed, interested parties can proceed to include the link and will only receive a response if ATHENS 2004 does not accept the link. All requests should be sent to:

The Internet Department
Iolkou 8 and Filikis Eterias str.
GR-142 34 N. Ionia, Athens
Tel: +30 210 2004 000
Fax: +30 210 2004 800
e-mail: (All information submitted using this e-mail address is governed by the ATHENS 2004 Privacy Policy)
terms@athens2004.gr

The above policy applies for links embedded in copy only and not to links using the official ATHENS 2004 Emblem.

Wankers.

BTW, I heard about it from Branko who read it at Retecool. I like their suggestions for alternative link images.

Dangerously Fluffy!


I'm not one to "ooh" and "aah" each time a see a cuddly toy. My bed is devoid of bunnies, tiggers and/or bears.
But these cre'atures are different! Down Under comic artist Timmeryn, creator of the Pantheon has in the past already shown to be able to bring life to comic characters with >papier maché. Not very cuddly and most likely annoying to sleep with...
Not so these lovable Rahballs, Fuzzyballs, Dragonballs, Wolfballs and Wee Tiny Balls! I've instantly fallen in love with these little fellows, and would like to add how refreshing it is to see toys, not made and manufactured in horrible sweatshops! Cuddles made with tlc! How rare it seems in these industrial times.
As much as I hate advertising, I do have to say: "Buy one! You know you want one! Support your artists!"

August 19, 2004

Cold Turkey

Trying to figure out which factors contributed to my lack of mental focus in the past couple of weeks, culminating in my bout of writer's block (which I now think I'm over, but who knows), I've decided to quit drinking coffee for a while. It hasn't done me much tangible good in recent years: I need two stiff cups in the morning just to function as a normal human being; the effect wears out after an hour or so leaving me feeling like my mind is a haze; and both withdrawal and drinking too much of it give me nasty headaches. It's an endless chemical balancing act.

Because I already had a headache anyway, I decided to skip coffee in the morning, and will do without it for as long as I can. So far, it's not that bad; the only effect (apart from the headache which is actually subsiding now) is a strong desire to crawl back into bed. But I might get a bit crabby in the next few days.

August 20, 2004

Some bad news, some good

Quitting coffee is no fun at all. Even though in recent years I'd cut down to four large cups a day, (from 12 in the early 90s), going from those four to zero has been hell. I spent yesterday evening in bed trying to find a position to lie down in in which my head didn't feel like every brain cell was being ripped apart.

On the other hand, I felt well enough in the morning to go for a little run. Like I mentioned early in June, a knee problem prevents me from doing serious running, but today I got a bit further than the last time. We're still talking about distances in the hundreds of meters rather than kilometers, but doing as much as that without the knee bothering me at all is progress. It must be because the cycling has made me stronger.

Work-wise, the withdrawal is making it very hard for me to do anything, but a Floor script has been mailed out, 8 pages of Courtly Manners 2 are now colored (but not lettered), and the buffer for ROCR is not empty just yet. My holiday plans aren't looking too good right now. I still intend to go to Norway, but it will probably have to wait until September.

Who's bloody war is it anyway?

Girl!
I wanna take you to a gay bar,
I wanna take you to a gay bar,
I wanna take you to a gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.

Let's start a war, start a nuclear war,
At the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.
Wow!
At the gay bar.

Now tell me do ya, a do ya have any money?
I wanna spend all your money,
at the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.

I've got something to put in you,
I've got something to put in you,
I've got something to put in you,
At the gay bar, gay bar, gay bar.
Wow!

You're a superstar, at the gay bar.
You're a superstar, at the gay bar.
Yeah! you're a superstar, at the gay bar.
You're a superstar, at the gay bar.
Superstar.
Super, super, superstar

Right! You're MTV. Did you just hear anything you want to censor? But ofcourse:

Let's start a war, start a nuclear war...(the word war made inaudible)

*sigh* I have no words for this... How stupid does it get?

(Lyrics: "Gay bar" - Electric Six)

August 22, 2004

Nostradijkhuis strikes again!

Stephen Crowley of Magellan (no link pending address change) just announced that he is moving the comic to Graphic Smash! Congratulations Stephen!

Now, let me draw the reader's attention to the list of comics links on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan front page, where a link to Magellan was added just a week ago. As you may know, the link list has been a very good predictor of which comics are moving up in the world. But it gets better: before including the comic in the link list, I wrote this:

I've known Stephen, the artist, online for some time, and I'm glad to see that having the comic on Keenspace has revitalised it and brought it many new readers! He has another comic, Magellan, on there as well now, which I recommend the Graphic Smash people to look into because the combination of superheroes and a European-inspired clear-line style is very appealing and the writing is really strong.

God, I'm good.

All-weather Saturday Cycling: Groningen-Eastermar

Saturday started out a bit on the rainy side, and there was some doubt whether we should actually go. But go we did, Sidsel and me, because we are tough! We both needed a ride, anyway; otherwise we'd have sort of sunk into lethargy, either because of the caffeine withdrawal or simply because it looked like being that sort of a day.
We set out for Eastermar, Fryslân, on 11.30. As you may recall, we had tried to go to Eastermar before, to visit Sidsel's aunt and uncle who have recently moved there. That time, we didn't find it, and in any case Sidsel's relatives weren't home as we found out halfway through, but this time we were better prepared, and found both the lost town of Eastermar and the relatives.

Continue reading "All-weather Saturday Cycling: Groningen-Eastermar" »

August 24, 2004

Cold Turkey, continued

Hi! I'm Reinder Dijkhuis, and I'm a cafeinist. I'm trying to quit, but I fell off the wagon a few times during the weekend. I've been dry since Sunday evening though.

Seriously, my aim isn't to quit drinking coffee altogether, but rather to be able to do without it on most days, so I'm not that bothered by having a cup during Saturday's cycling or on social occasions. However, it does slow down the withdrawal process, so now I've got less severe withdrawal symptoms, but they last longer. I'm able to work, though, and in fact I'm producing comics at my prior rate of one a day again.

I've been reading up on caffeine withdrawal at the FAQs.org caffeine FAQ, which I really should have done before quitting. They recommend a slow cutdown, and warn that withdrawal symptoms can get quite nasty if you quit cold turkey:

Regular caffeine consumption reduces sensitivity to caffeine. When caffeine intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine. In response to this oversensitiveness, blood pressure drops dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from
one to five days, and can be alleviated with analgesics such as
aspirin. It is also alleviated with caffeine intake (in fact several
analgesics contain caffeine dosages).

Often, people who are reducing caffeine intake report being irritable,
unable to work, nervous, restless, and feeling sleepy, as well as
having a headache. In extreme cases, nausea and vomiting has also been
reported.


Continue reading "Cold Turkey, continued" »

This one's the Beltona brand

Wow. I really should go dumpster diving some time:

Many times records in the trash belong in the trash—they’re scratched so badly it would be impossible to listen to them. Other times, though, they’re salvageable (just a bit dirty and easily washed, or not in as bad as they look). Judging the condition of records and how salvageable they are is something I could write a whole other essay on. I’ll just say that things are not always as they seem, but with experience one can learn what’s really OK and what’s beyond redemption. Still other times, records are in virtually mint condition, but are not the genre or format that is readily saleable by the person who until recently had them. Typical situation: an old person dies, and their heirs have no interest in the deceased’s music. Thus, one often finds such things as cantorial records, easy listening, big band jazz, ’50s pop vocalists, the Harmonica Rascals, Jerry Vale, and schmaltzy Christmas music in the city’s trash. Much of this is of no particular interest to me, but there is plenty of interesting listening to be culled from it, including lots of what would now be called Space Age Pop. (Easy-listening versions of hard-rock hits of the ’60s are a particular fave of mine.) Classical music is by far the most common thing to find in large quantities, and it’s often in tip-top shape. I daresay that if I started from scratch today, I could have a large and varied collection of classical LPs in less than a year’s time at absolutely no cost. A few weeks ago, for example, I took home about 100 more or less mint classical LPs, many of them on Deutsche Grammophon; I had to make two trips from the Dumpster.

[...]
And then there are 78s, which most people don’t have the machinery to play.
[...]
The trash has yielded a number of outstanding finds. (Just how, where, when, and why piles of 78s, as well as LP records, 45s, and even CDs, end up in the trash, is something I must keep to myself--but know that they do.) Last winter I actually had to hail a cab, even though I was only a few blocks from home, in order to carry home the stack of 78s I found (book after book of near-mint Artie Shaw records, as well as Mel Torme, 1950s mariachi bands, some other odd Latin stuff, etc.—the fact that they were in such great shape had a lot to do with my taking them). And the other night I found another great stash. This one is mostly jazz—much of it by well-known artists such as Count Basie, Lester Young, and Coleman Hawkins, and some fine work by them indeed. And while I’m certainly glad to have copies of such classics as “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)” by Roy Hamilton (Epic), “Caldonia” by Louis Jordan (Decca), and “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt (RCA Victor), once again it’s the oddball stuff that captures my fancy.

And I just might find a nice deskchair there as well. Or some original H.G. Kresse pages.

(Via Electrolite's sidebar.)

Un-amusing democracy

There's something deeply depressing about watching the American electoral process at work, even when you do so from a safe distance, without the dubious benefit of American newspapers, American TV and American hate radio, and even when the candidate who you, for lack of a better word, support, has a fighting chance. Ed Brayton nails why. I'm not going to quote a single word from it here; go there, read the whole thing, then read the whole weblog from the first post to the last (including the posts at Dispatches From The Culture Wars' old location, from which Ed has just moved). It's one of the best blogs out there. Every post is an education.

Update: After posting this, I saw that Ed had followed his post up with Speaking Truth to Power, in which he points out two organisations that help separate spin from sooth:


After the last entry, I feel like I should at least point out the few people who actually are making an effort to find the truth about statements made by the politicians. There are two websites that come immediately to mind, both of which I link to under news sources on my sidebar - Spinsanity and FactCheck.Org. Both sites are non-partisan and both of them take the ads and pronouncements and talking points of the two major party candidates and check them for accuracy.

This should be a national holiday!

Why didn't anybody tell me that today was Drs. P's 85th birthday? Belated congratulations to the great Dutch/Swiss songwriter and light versifier. Met jouw verjaardag zijn wij heden blij, knolrapen, lof, schorseneren en prei.

Hook Fernando de Rojas up to a generator and watch him spin.

(EDIT: added description of the most egregious fourth wall breaking, and a bit more detail on what went wrong)

The Edinburgh Festival is a collection of superb theatre and horribly bad. And, like all such mixtures, that which you have highest hopes for can be the thing that turns out to be by far the worst.

Tonight I have seen Celestina by Fernando de Rojas. I must believe I have, the ticket assures me. I have severe doubts. Particularly after they broke the fourth wall to state how the original is far too long and you wouldn't want to see it, so enjoy this simulated sex scene instead.

Continue reading "Hook Fernando de Rojas up to a generator and watch him spin." »

August 25, 2004

Earth-pig born reviewed again

Adam White at Indy Magazine reviews the entire 300-issue run of Cerebus. The review is detailed and illustrated with full pages and cover art from all stages of the series, and is a must-read. I wonder how many people would agree with his high praise of the Going Home sequence over High Society or Church and State.

As an aside, I think there is a good essay waiting to be written about the failures of world-building in the sequence as a whole. Smith inadvertently points out one of them:

One of the most curious aspects of Cerebus becomes conspicuous in this book by its absence: music. Jaka is a dancer by trade, and we see her practice that trade here. Certainly, the inclusion of a band in the bar where she works would have been intrusive. The extra characters would have ruined the quiet, intimate tone of the story. However, the idea of a dancer who dances without music is bizarre. Comics do not have soundtracks other than the ones we conjure mentally, but it is strange that the mental soundtrack for this book is so very quiet. As a dancer, music must necessarily be important to Jaka. The fact that it is not so to Sim indicates perhaps a certain ignorance on the author's part of his own character. Throughout Cerebus, one senses that there is something about Jaka that one cannot know, possibly because the cartoonist does not know himself.

As an alternative explanation, Sim has written in the back pages of the comic that he fundamentally dislikes music. But a simpler explanation would surely be that Sim didn' t think about how music would work in a setting without electricity. In a modern bar, including one with, ahem, dancers, music would come from a PA system instead of live musicians with instruments and sweaty armpits. The scene really only works at all in a setting that has mechanically reproduced music. But because Sim chose a quasi-historical world to set his comic in, he couldn't have those. Either he didn't think about this problem at all, or he realised it too late and decided to brazen it out and do the scene without musicians hoping that the readers wouldn't mind.

August 26, 2004

The Wotch

Fans of El Goonish Shive will probably also enjoy The Wotch which has a similar style, setting and sense of humour. The Wotch is set at a high school and has cute characters, lycanthropy and transformations. It's derivative (and artist Anne gives credit to EGS for getting her to try her hand at cartooning in her links page), but it is also funny, lighthearted and not bad at all.

(Via Wapsi Square)

August 28, 2004

Groningen

Arr, well, here I am in Groningen, the Dutch town famous for having every other person who blogs here living in it. 'Tis a pleasant, quaint city, full of wide streets and very steep staircases, interesting little shops full of interesting-looking comics that I cannot read, farmer's markets, and rather a lot of sheep, from the cover of the Groningen Festival guide - I think that's what it is, anyway - to an episode of Skippy involving bearded shepherds and sheep dogs.

I think we're being followed.

August 29, 2004

Ramblings in Groningen

Arr! So, day three of my stay in Groningen, and we haven't killed each other yet, even after making Tuesday's Dangerous and Fluffy. Always a good sign for collaborations, that!

Perhaps a sample is in order, in a size suitable for an MSN messenger icon:
RussianArkinstallIcon.png

Further informtion about that when I get home, as I didn't bring the cable I need to download the pictures.

But I digress.

Friday, due to me having to stay up late, was spent mostly with a slow tour around Groningen (Which has a statue of a naked woman with a sheep, a theatre festival whose prgram has sheep on it, and several sheep pastures just outside of town.), followed by a party with the artistic types in Groningen that included me,Jeroen, and Reinder with a rendition of "Combine Harvester". Twas fun, but I fear having to wake up at 4am to catch my plane left me unable to do much more.

Saturday involved the creation of the Chapter 2 opening comic of Dangerous and Fluffy (A peek into one of Gregory's comics), a look around Jeroen and Reinder's studio, (Reinder was working on a comic for Courtly Manners that included, in the background, a painting of Fiefelsfalsfaffel lying naked with a sheep, and a painting with two suspiciously familiar women... but I mustn't say more.), a trip to the Comics Museum, in which I suddenly realised that far too many absolutely superb comics were only available in Dutch, and thus I will have to learn it. Damn. I discussed my plans for early Chapter 2 of D&F with Reinder, and he discussed the Tamlin story to follow the Rite of Serfdom with me. Following this, we went to the theatre festival (with the sheep advertising).

There was superb fire juggling, delicious poffertjes (something like a spherical pancake, with alcohol drizzled on top.), and the completely unexpected sight of the piss-cross.

plaskruisufo2.jpg

A piss cross is a way for men to urinate in public in a not-particularly private place. They stand just next to pedestrian paths, and block the view of the front three or four inches of the man from view when he stands at one of the four urinals

I didn't take the photo myself, they were in use and, frankly, the men using them were rather burly and bigger than me, and I didn't want to explain why I was photographing them urinating, so I found one online.

Following that, we went to the much-vaunted (and very, very cheap) nightclub, Vera, and indeed it was very nice, and had very good and inexpensive alcohol. Sadly, though, it was also packed with new university students, limiting the fun. Arr, weel! Next time.

After a good sleep, it was time for a bike ride with Reinder and Sidsel. I havn't ridden a bike in ten years, ever since my parents took me to a lecture on bike safety that took pains to teach all the children that if you don't wear a helmet, you could be very badly hurt or die.

They then refused to buy me a helmet. Ah, well. Happily, after a couple bike exchanges to get me the only bike in good nick, I was able to do quite well and keep up. My arse is very, very sore, though. Hopefully, that'll die down in time.

Arr! And, besides me interviewing Reinder, that gets me up to date! Until next blog!

-Adam Cuerden

Sunday Cycling and Walking: Friescheveen

Today's cycling was going to be a brief outing, because we had Adam with us for the day. As he wrote below, Adam didn't have much cycling experience, so we wanted to pick a route that was short and safe, but still interesting. The more so after I saw exactly how wobbly he was on my bike. I had penciled in a few destinations, but Sidsel had a much better idea: going around the Paterswoldsemeer to the nature preserve at Friescheveen.

I don't give Sidsel enough credit for both her planning ability and her knowledge of the area. She's only lived here since 1996 whereas I've lived around these parts all my life, but she knew about this place and I didn't. Friescheveen is a recent piece of nature, but unlike many other such places, it's not artificial. It's land that was left over after all the turf had been dug out, which when left to itself became wet and marshy, attracting birds and marsh vegetation. It's not so marshy that you can't walk there though - if you don't mind getting mud on your shoes.
The other part of Sidsel's idea that made it so brilliant is just that - having the short cycling trip supplemented with a one-hour walk through the nature preserve, picking blackberries (as well as sampling an unripe, wild pear) and ending in a birdwatching shack. Walking is something that Adam is a lot more used to, whereas it was a bit more strenuous for me, so things were balanced out a bit more. Sidsel walked up front most of the time, leading us over the treacherous, muddy paths and to new foraging spots like an alpha primate.
We changed bikes after the first kilometer or so, finding that Adam was more stable on Sidsel's bike than either mine or Jeroen's spare bike. Since we started on our journey's, Sidsel has had her old bike tuned up, so it's now a better-balanced bike than mine.
Blackberries are at their best by now, depending on how much sunlight any location has got in the past few months. On our way back, I saw middle-aged a couple filling an old ice cream box with blackberries from a municipality-owned patch, and they were getting quite a few of them. My father's harvest from his secret spot has also been exceptional this year.

By the time we got back, Adam's bicycling skills had got considerably better. You do need practice to ride'em, but not that much of it. He's well-muscled, but we'll still see how his legs feel in the morning.

Next week, we'll probably compensate for the shortness of this trip by going to Emmen - 60 kilometers.

August 30, 2004

I can't keep up!

If you ever find yourselves thinking "Hmmm... Waffle is updating a bit sporadically lately", go to Websnark for ultra-fast blogging on comics and pop culture. It hasn't been around for long, but look at that post count! It's pretty readable as well, cramming substantial criticism into short, short posts.

Henry the Human Fly

Fledg'ling records have reissued Henry the Human Fly, which is great news. Richard Thompson's debut solo album from 1972 had been kinda-sorta available since 1991, but I for one had never seen it in the shops before. I had a copy burned for me from vinyl by an acquaintance, but it's just not the same. The remastered edition is a huge improvement on that copy, with Thompson's acoustic guitar and the other instruments coming through with great detail and presence.
It's one of the best Thompson has made in a long and illustrious career. In every decade since the 1960s, Thompson has come out with at least one album that ranks among the best made that decade, and occasionally with more. Henry the Human Fly is a bit difficult to get into but once you get past the sound of Thompson's voice on this first attempt, you will hear great songwriting with the deceptively simple tunes and gut-wrenching lyrics that have been his trademark ever since.
The guitar playing is also beautiful, effective and mature. Mojo listed the record as one of the 20 greatest guitar albums ever, but don't expect a record driven by guitar pyrotechnics. Thompson's guitar playing, even then, served the songs, and not the other way around.

Continue reading "Henry the Human Fly" »

August 31, 2004

I can run! Hallelujah! I can run!

I just went on a 15-minute run through my neighbourhood. As you may know if you read this blog, I have a knee problem which has so far prevented me from doing any serious running, but today I tried a change of approach. For the past couple of years, I have always aborted any attempt at running the moment the knee started giving me any grief. It's not that I can't handle a bit of pain, it's just that I treated any pain as a sign that I was over-straining the knee and that a lot of pain would be forthcoming if I continued.
What caused me to reconsider this was my experience with the cycling trips. On those, my knee would occasionally act up, but the pain wouldn't get to any serious levels, and between trips, it wasn't getting any worse. The knee, evidently, can handle quite a bit more strain than I've put it through while trying to run.
So today, I just decided to accept the level of pain that I could normally tolerate, and see if it got any worse if I went on running. It didn't, so for the first time in years, I ran more than a kilometer (but don't ask me how far I ran - I just zipped through the streets of Groningen towards the Noorderplantsoen, then zig-zagged back over the canal, turning back home a few hundred meters from market square).
I even got a bit sweaty! It's great to be able to do this again. I'll build it up from here.

Getting Away With It: Maritza Campos

Maritza Campos of College Roommates From Hell!!! has recently begun a storyline involving Blue, in her school uniform, interacting with Dave. As Blue's school uniform is a Tartan skirt, she makes use of one of my personal pet peeves: Scanned tartans.

Scanned Tartans in comics can be incrediably hideous: They don't follow the curve of the kilt (or skirt), forcing the unforunate Scotsman or schoolgirl to have a two-dimensional groin region. In animation, it can be even worse, as the tartan often won't even move with the character wearing it, making it incrediably hideous.

Yet, by using the attention to detail which is one of the trademarks of all modern CRFH strips, Maritza makes it work. Let's look at a sample:

crfh20040830.jpg

Note how by shifting the tartan up and down the tartan seems to follow the folds of the skirt, instantly giving it a third dimension. Admittedly, it's not perfect: Some skew would be needed to slightly tilt the tartan's horizontal lines, and, particularly near the back of the skirt, gently curving the vertical lines to make them follow the skirt would be more ideal. Still, it takes close analysis to spot the minor flaws remaining, and, given it's the best use of a scanned fabric I have ever seen in my life, I can only approve of Maritza's successful use of an idea that i have only seen result in hideous failure before. Bravo!

About August 2004

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in August 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2004 is the previous archive.

September 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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