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September 2004 Archives

September 1, 2004

Shadow at MT

Jeroen's graduation project Shadow is this month's Modern Tales Longplay comic. Shadow is a fictionalised report of the "police actions" carried out by the Dutch army in Indonesia after World War II, based on notes left behind by Jeroen's grandfather.
Shadow was nominated for a Minerva award.

These guys are holding my comments hostage

The timetable keeps getting reset on the liberation of the comments. I will start allowing HTML, links and images as well as display of the URLs you guys all so faithfully type in when you comment, if I can go for two weeks without having spam pass MT-Blacklist. Unfortunately, spam passes MT-blacklist daily; in fact, the problem continues to get worse.

Just minutes ago, I caught a glimpse of how spammers may defeat MT-blacklist altogether: by brute force. I checked my mail and was flooded with transcripts of comment spams from blackjack-123.com who sent over 100 spams from a wide range of IP addresses in a space of a few minutes. Moveable Type's builtin flood control caught a few addresses and automatically banned them (yay!) but the flood was so overwhelming that it interfered with my ability to add the casino.blackjack-123 address to MT-Blacklist. The flood continued while MT-Blacklist was unable to process the information.
I am sure that this tactic will be used again, and more powerfully.

The news on extracting much-desired retribution from blackjack-123 is also bad.

Continue reading "These guys are holding my comments hostage" »

Better-looking money

A website with designs for the Euro that weren't used. Many of them look a lot better than the drab, nondescript bills we ended up with.
Jaap Drupsteen's designs are well worth looking at. They're not as good as the ones he did for the Dutch currency, but they would have been a lot easier to tell apart than what we got. Do look at the full-sized images; the colors on the thumbnails have been muted.

(Via A Fistful of Euros which is one year old today!)

September 4, 2004

Sparse blogging for a few more days

I won't have a lot to say in the next couple of days. I'm up to my ears in work, and the only thing that will keep me from it, the weekly cycling trip, will be a very long one. This will of course provide Adam and Jeroen with ample opportunity to play (except that Jeroen is also up to his ears in work as far as I know).

There's a real risk of Monday's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan strip being delayed. But there will be three installments next week.

September 5, 2004

Sunday Cycling: A little day trip to the zoo, with a hey, nonny, nonny

Today, Sidsel and I went to Emmen - the longest trip so far. Emmen is 56 kilometers as the crow flies, but a bit further away if you're actually using the bicycle paths. We left at 8 AM, rode the first half of our journey in the morning fog which at some point was even denser than a month ago on our trip to Schiermonnikoog, and arrived in Emmen at noon. After attacking our food supplies with ravenous appetite, we paid a visit to the Noorder Dierenpark where we stayed all afternoon. I don't remember having ever been to any other zoos, so I can't tell how it stacks up against them, but on its own, it was an afternoon well spent. The feature that the zoo prides itself on in its website and brochures is the absense of barred cages and the comparitive freedom that most of the animals enjoy in natural-looking little habitats. Often there is not much more between the visitors and the animals than a low fence and a sign warning visitors not to lean over in case the kodiak bears or crocodiles devour them. Yes, visitors are treated as responsible adults here.
It is a really pretty, well-designed place too, although some displays needed repair. In fact, the only place where I thought there was a real safety problem was in the poison frog display, where the netting over the terrarium was broken. No problem for a responsible adult, but a child might want to pick up a pretty blue froggie and get a hand full of curare.
I liked the fact that one of the first animals visitors are likely to see are the gibbons; those are lively, tree-swinging apes who talk to their mates in sing-song voices and show little aggression between themselves. At any time of the day, many other animals will be asleep (or sleepy - the otters in particular had a very infectious yawn), and quite a few others will be vicious little bastards, so it's a good thing the gibbons set the tone. Also: a Dutch naturalist once said that the only animals that do any real aping are humans, and that was confirmed by the many imitations of the gibbons' call from the audience! By contrast, the zoo's hamadryad baboons are nasty pieces of work, fighting all the time over food and rank. However, if you look more closely, you can see the same belligerent individuals share food with their mates or comfort a baby caught in a fight. How very human.
I could talk about the zoo all day, and there's more to see than you can take in in a single visit, especially on a hot day such as today. We left at 5.30 PM, attacked our remaining supplies with a ravenous appetite, and rode back at six to arrive home at 10, covered in clammy sweat because the evenings are getting damper. The last hour and a half of our trip was in darkness, which was allright in the larger villages, but a bit hairy on some narrow, poorly-lit rural paths.
By the way, I rode a used Koga Myata touring bike which when new must have retailed at a price that competes with a decent used car. My parents bought it from a friend for my birthday; I didn't ask them what they paid for it for fear it would make me feel guilty. It's a great bike too, with perfect balance and a 21-speed gearing system that made it much easier to go fast. Sidsel, on the other hand, was on her old bike, so I had to restrain myself a bit.
Now, Sidsel and I are the sad wreckage of the man and the woman we used to be, which is why this entry is a bit shorter than most cycling entries. But I suspect that that is a good thing, really.

September 6, 2004


Doodlin' is fun! I should do it more often, but since I graduated and have no more dull lectures to attend, I rarely do so. 't Is a good reason to illustrate the Driftig Agenda 2005. Although I don't get paid, I do get to doodle, plus a cool diary... Reinder helped me out: can you guess which ones are his and which mine?


Lounging Kangaroo

Lounging kangaroo, shot yesterday at the zoo in Emmen. I've got a technical problem with my camera that prevents me from taking many photographs. It refuses to switch off, draining the batteries in no time. This animal, at least, sat still long enough for me to put batteries in the camera, and its pose, lounging on its elbows, was irresistible.
The fact that it spent its day lying on its elbows, in the shade, proves that kangaroos' intelligence is superior to humans'. Me, I bicycled 120 kilometers that day.

September 7, 2004

How Bizarre....

I just received the following email:

Subject: :) ever wanted pain pills, overnite shi`ppi'ng to your door

broken, okay? the law. remember the law?

>From: Leatha Gardner [mailto:wgtxv@hrxu.com]
>To: mickey klaers; jacob giernoth
>Sent: Sunday, March, 2004 6:50 AM
>with me,fri-ends! --- Gore AR
>wysokinski 10zlobek 91stawaly najslynniejszyprycza

...I have absolutely no idea what that was about.

September 8, 2004

What to do for collegiate readers?

I can tell from the site statistics for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan that the school year has started again: they're up after a long slump.
With free comics, the expected behaviour of readers in schools and colleges coming back after a long absense is for them to trawl the archives. But with subscription comics, this is not such an easy option. Of course, what I'd like all of those returning readers to do is subscribe, but let's be realistic: most Modern Tales subscribers are out of college and in the workforce. It's not technically impossible for most students to do the legwork and fork up the money to subscribe, but I can't blame them for choosing to spend their pennies on something else.
Maybe Modern Tales should have "back to school/college" events allowing student readers to catch up more easily or cheaply. I know that MT is working on day passes-those could fulfill the same functions. Perhaps a Salon style arrangement could be implemented in which people can get a peek into the archives in exchange for sitting through a long ad.
But none of these ideas could be implemented in time for people coming back to school and wanting to catch up with ROCR *now*.
I'll think of something. I may make a visual summary of the past weeks that will at least inform readers of what they missed. Something like that, yeah.

September 9, 2004

Groningen Trip Photo Blog - Part 1

It's a bit late, but I do believe it's about time I finish up the photo blog of the trip to Groningen! Naturally, I'll concentrate on what I managed to get photographs of, as I fear I forgot to take my camera to one or two places, but you can always read my original entry here.

I left quite early Friday morning, after spending some time hiding my monitor in my closet, unplugging everything, and so on. Hiding the monitor in the closet was necessary since all four of my cats like to perch atop it, and destroyed the previous monitor with a hairball...

One of the four cats

Then I was off to the airport and away!

Continue reading "Groningen Trip Photo Blog - Part 1" »

September 10, 2004

Clan of the Cats in trouble

A worrying message from Clan of the Cats author Jamie Robertson:

I recently lost my job and COTC takes so much time to do that I fear I'll have to give it up soon.

I'd be really sad to see COTC go. It's been one of my favorite webcomics for years. It's an engaging if occasionally slow read which many ROCR readers would like. I know that because I could easily rattle off a dozen names of ROCR readers who have told me they enjoy COTC as well. Protagonist Chelsea Chattan is not unlike Kel in basic personality.

Go take a look if you're not familiar with it yet. It's ad-supported so just reading the comic will help Jamie (he may want to ask Keenspot for an advance to tide him over although there's no way for me to know if that will add up to anything), and you will probably find the time well spent. There are various subscription and donation options available, but before you look into those, just do yourself a favour and read the archive.

By the way, Jamie has contributed two guest comics to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan: this one and this one. I contributed two guest comics to Clan of the Cats as well: this one and this one. The least, the very least you can do is check those out!

Update: Jamie has just announced that the comic will end, uncompleted, this Christmas. I'm not sure how final that is - 3 1/2 months is a lot of time to save a comic. Let's get cracking!

Continue reading "Clan of the Cats in trouble" »

September 13, 2004

Sunday all-weather cycling: Groningen - Pieterburen

A short trip yesterday - only about 25 kilometers to Pieterburen in the north. It took Sidsel and me forever though, because we were hampered by strong winds and nasty cold showers. The trip back took almost 3 hours! Even if that included a stopover for mustard soup at Abraham's Mustard Factory, Restaurant and Museum in Eenrum, that's the slowest we've gone so far. Serves us right for picking a route through nearly completely open space when the weather prophets had been warning of storm for days.
The strong head wind also demonstrated the difference between my Koga Myiata and Sidsel's old single-speed bike. I had a hard time but I could always switch gears; she had no such option, and even the single speed doesn't run as smoothly as mine.
While in Pieterburen, we paid a visit to the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre which in addition to rescuing and rehabilitating sick or orphaned seals does epidemiological and toxicological research into the reasons why these animals develop so many problems in the first place. The Centre is only partly open to the public - you can see the quarantine units and outdoor basins full of recovering seals, plus a room full of informational displays. It's well worth a visit, if either:

1) you're in the neighbourhood anyway; or
2) you have kids.

Kids are almost invariably smitten with the cuddly-looking, lively creatures, not just the babies but the grown-up animals as well. To us as adults, they're still pretty charming as well. They push all the cuteness buttons known to man, and a few unknown ones. Still I wouldn't go to Pieterburen just to look at the seals. If it had been earlier in the season it might have been fun to take a walking tour of the sand banks (wadden); during low tide, one can walk to one of the islands with an experienced guide, and that's one thing I've been wanting to try for some time.

But back to cycling. The Koga Miyata is a cool bike that's making long trips easier and even more fun than they were on the old bike. I'm not to keen on the racing saddle though, and I may replace it. Because the construction isn't standard, that's a bit more work than it has been with the other saddles I've been trying.
I took the bike out for a short trip on Thursday as well, trying to get used to how it handles, and I think I've ridden 200 kilometers on it since getting it. Not bad for just one week.

Inna Forum

Geir Strøm provides a translation for Tamlin's Ghostly Apparition's runic dialogue.
Tangent takes the campaign to save Clan of the Cats to the ROCR forum.

Congratulations! is the 100th IP address to be added to my IP ban list! The lucky winner just spammed the blog with a link to an internet casino. Sam Spade has no info on the URL, and the lucky number points to a university, so I won't do a full exposure of the spam here.

If this blog can go for 14 days without spam passing through MT-Blacklist, I will liberate the comments. The clock has been reset...

I was going to like Typekey, but Typekey didn't like me back

I wanted to leave a comment on Websnark but it only takes comments from Typekey account holders. Well I was going to have to get an account some time anyway, and it's easy to get one, so I went and signed up. When I did so, I noticed with bemusement and absolutely no surprise whatsoever that what I expected would be the spammers' response when I first heard of Typekey had already come to pass: Typekey had taken measures to prevent robots from automatically signing themselves up for a million Typekey accounts. The only part of my forecast that was wrong was that I didn't expect this to happen until Typekey had become ubiquitous.

Continue reading "I was going to like Typekey, but Typekey didn't like me back" »

September 14, 2004

Happy birthday Reinder!

Once again he tried to keep it quiet, but he's not going to get away with it that easy! HAPPY BIRTHDAY REINDER!


Cap'n is back from hiatus! Being my experimental outlet, I don't always have the inspiration or the drive to keep it going on a regular basis. I'm not sure how my reader-base would look if I did; it is a pretty experimental comic. I'm confident the art is good enough to attract readers, but the story and the changes in art-style will not appeal to everyone. I don't really mind: this way I can keep experimenting without worrying about losing readers if I do...

Details, details

previewFriday's page has

  • a larger canvas than usual;

  • detailed backgrounds;

  • an unfamilliar setting and characters, requiring, nay demanding adaptations to the color scheme especially for them.

It's taken me twice as long as many recent pages already, and it's still not finished. It's fun to work on though. I want to do more real drawing in ROCR in the future. It's so much more satisfying.

September 17, 2004

Details, details (follow-up)

I'm in the middle of yet another work-intensive page right now (Monday's! When will I ever get a buffer done again?), but I thought I oughtta take some time out to credit two sources for the detail work on today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic.
I always have to do a lot of research for scenes set in the Sinn Fae environment, the abandoned human enclave colonised by faerie radicals. I look for architecture, wood carvings, knotworks to serve as body art on the extras, and other little odds and ends as well. Most of the time, the sources are public domain, but this time, I swiped quite brazenly from living artists, so they deserve credit.

Continue reading "Details, details (follow-up)" »

September 18, 2004

Barbara's stash of WMD

I've been sitting on this knowledge for a few days now, and it's time I did the responsible thing. Remember when I wrote about Barbara's beer? I have now heard on the nearly reliable grapevine that the bottles of chocolate Witbier are liable to explode when stored at room temperature for too long.
I haven't been in touch with her about it (she probably knows about the problem) but pending reliable advice about it, it may be a good idea to keep the bottles chilled, and when you open them, open them with care, and allow the beer to settle for a while. It's a little more alive than beer ought to be.

Meget morsomt

The Comics Journal forum denizens having fun with language, after a few Scandahoovian readers question Kim Thompson's ability to translate Norwegian cartoonist Jason's work.

Bite me, bite me not

Adam alerted me that Bite Me has ended, which should be a good occasion for me to go through the archive. If it is half as funny as artist Dylan Meconis┤s parting message, it should be a gem▒

The best compliment I ever inadvertently got was when somebody commented that the comic read like a Bugs Bunny short. If so, I have in some measure succeeded. If vampires were vulnerable to falling anvils, believe me. There would've been one.

September 19, 2004

Yarr, special Talk Like A Pirate comic!

pirate.pngYarr, ye salty dogs! In honour of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, there's a special version of the latest Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic at ROCR.net, and only there (semi-permanent URL until I clean the archives out again: http://www.rocr.net/d/20040919.html).
Stephen Dann keeps a clearinghouse of pirate themed comics for the day.

I used an English to Pirate translator to get a basic text for the comic, but refined its output quite a bit.

Other pirate links, courtesy of Boing Boing:

pirate info
pirate bath 1
pirates and pivateers
capn crimson
which pirate are you?
spooneye! the card game
pirate bath 2
pirates of the bahamas
pirate flags
pirates of penzance
pirate supplies
yar! pirate zen 2003
and for a limited time...
david byrne's pirates (this will disappear on 09.20.04)

September 20, 2004

Sunday International Cycling: Groningen - Wymeer (Germany)

We went into Germany! It looked much the same as the Netherlands, except for the signs in Gothic script and the Lederhosen.

Seriously, on Sunday, Sidsel and I took the advice we were given in early August and went to the Dutch-German border area to look at the old smuggling route through De Lethe. We neglected to bring any butter to smuggle, but we did bring plenty of bananas. Those Germans are starved for them.

Continue reading "Sunday International Cycling: Groningen - Wymeer (Germany)" »

Progress in electronic books

No, this isn't about the latest innovations in making electronic book reading more pleasurable. Instead, John Quiggin at Crooked Timber is giving an honest, personal appraisal of how today's state of the art in e-books stacks up, overall, against printed books:

I've read about fifty pages so far, and my feeling is that, with a large flat-screen monitor, reading a good-quality PDF is comparable to reading a medium-quality printed book. Given the limitations, particularly the need to sit in one spot, I can’t see this become my preferred mode for a while. Still, there are a lot of advantages to consider, and in many cases, these will outweigh the negatives for me.

First, it means instant cheap access to new books published overseas. This is important for Australians... who often have to wait a long time for ‘colonial’ releases of books published in the metropolitan countries.

Second, there’s essentially no storage problem. Iron Council is 1.7 MB, so I could store about 20,000 similar volumes on an iPod...

Third, I can see big advantages for book reviewing of which I do a fair bit. I’ll easily be able to search for bits of text, cut and paste quotes...

September 21, 2004

Prepare for even more Schlock!

Howard Tayler reports that God has told him to quit his job!

Let me start this way: there are numerous reasons why one MIGHT choose to leave a lucrative position as a visionary with a leading technology company, and most of them have little or nothing to do with what really happened in my case. What it really boiled down to was the simple fact that God told me it was time to quit.

God did not say why. He also did not offer me any specific bits of encouragement, like saying "Schlock Mercenary will be netting you a high five-figure income by the end of 2005" (which revelation I would have greeted with all kinds of jubilant praise, yessirree, halle-LOO-ya.) No, for all I know the spiritual experience I've had in conjunction with this decision is leading me on a path that involves poverty, desperation, abject humility, and then a return to Novell as someone hungry enough to really get down to business.

The truly spiritual person doesn't care about the destination in cases like this. For saints, it's enough to know that the decision is the right one, and that God's ways are not necessarily understandable to mortals.

I'm no saint. I'm scared spitless. But I've had this kind of spiritual prompting in my life on three other occasions, and I know that for all my fears, things will work out okay. I just don't have a specific value for "okay" yet.

The Keenspot people had better upgrade their update system, because Howard managed 7 updates a week even while he was working as a visionary with a leading technology company. He'll have a one-year buffer in no time, and then he'll be looking at updating twice daily.

September 23, 2004

Andre Hazes dies

Singer Andre Hazes, one of the Netherlands best-loved singers of popular song, died today aged 53. I was never much into his style of music but over the years I've learned to respect him for his professionalism and the care and enthusiasm he put into his work. He was easily the best at what he did. About a year ago I saw part of a TV broadcast of one of his gala concerts, and was impressed by how perfect everything was. At the time, the singer was suffering from hearing problems, and his phrasing had become jerky as a result, but the (huge) band was dead on and the crowd was nuts throughout the 3 or 4 songs that I saw.

From Expatica:

Hazes, 53, was rushed home from holiday in Spain in a serious condition. He was admitted to intensive care suffering from a high fever and pneumonia. He died of a heart attack at about 9.30am on Thursday, his family confirmed.

Hazes was a diabetic and battled with alcoholism for several years. He was born in the Pijp district of Amsterdam in 1951.

The popular singer was discovered by a television presenter some eight years after his birth when he was singing at the city's Albert Cuyp market to earn money to buy his mother a present. Hazes' family was very poor as a child.

He had several hits in the 1970s and 1980s and despite a turbulent career — due in part to his alcohol addiction — he has always been much loved by the Dutch public.

Continue reading "Andre Hazes dies" »

September 24, 2004

TV Eyes

I got a mix CD in the mail the other day, from my brother. The best tracks on it are three by TV Eyes who sound more like an eighties pop group than any eighties pop group ever did.
Two of the members were part of Jellyfish, which also spawned The Moog Cookbook. These guys can, and eventually will, play anything.

Loxie and Zoot book

Loxie and Zoot artist Stephen Crowley writes:

If you've ever even remotely thought about purchasing the book you've got until October 31 2004 to make your order... after that there will be no more books to be had... buy it now, don't let the following (hypothetical) scenario happen to you!

It's probably none of my business, but I get a bit uneasy about this sort of thing. From Stephen's comments over time, I didn't get the impression that the book was selling out, and I don't think it's POD (I have it). So what's he going to do with the unsold books? As someone who reveres books (they may get a bit battered in my hands, but I hang on to them through thick and thin), I don't like the idea of them getting pulped like what happened to Inigo Kelleigh's old small press books.
Stephen's LiveJournal, which he uses in lieu of a forum, doesn't mention the reasons for the October 31 deadline, and I can't just go in and ask.

September 26, 2004


Friday, I went to see Nosferatu *), at the Lutherse Kerk in Groningen, with live accompaniment from the church organ. Nosferatu is a silent classic made in 1922, and for the most part has stood the test of time.
As with most silent movies, there are some elements that now look vaguely silly: the acting is straight out of the stage melodrama, the make-up artists also seemed to think they were working for the stage, and some special effects fall flat (the best example being the use of a spotted hyena traipsing through the Westfalian rocks to represent a werewolf). But it has great (if slightly slow) pacing, beautiful romantic/Gothic imagery (shot, largely, on location in Westphalia) and best of all, one of the best, most convincing movie spooks ever. The title character, first shown in the shadows of castle Orlog, a tall, gaunt, bald creature standing in a stiff, upright pose with his hands folded like the claws of a predatory monster at rest, is genuinely scary even with the over-the-top make-up. I wonder if Max Schreck, the name of the actor who played his, was a pseudonym - it was certainly aptly chosen.

I have had the DVD of this movie in my house for some months without ever getting around to watching it. The booklet notes mention that the problems I had with the acting were addressed by the director, F.W. Murnau, in later movies, in which he tried to get rid of holdovers from stage drama. Bully for him, and for all I know, his later movies may be even better than this one.

At this screening, music was provided by Joost Langeveld, a reputed improviser on the organ. He worked well with the pacing and suspense of the movie, using prepared themes for the characters and for certain key moments. The church organ at the lutheran church is a mighty instrument which Langeveld often seemed to treat as a synthesizer or sequencer. A wholly appropriate backing for a great horror movie (not everyone I spoke to afterwards agreed, though). However, I would have preferred to hear music based on the original score, which is said to be pseudo-Wagnerian (the DVD doesn't have it either).

Continue reading "Nosferatu" »

September 27, 2004

Heads up: possible ROCR delays

The next Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic will almost certainly be delayed. There's nothing scripted or drawn, and a lot of other, more urgent stuff to do.
I will have some art up on the various locations on Wednesday, but if people are interested in doing a quickie guest comic... yes please!
The schedule may remain shaky for the next two weeks. After that, normal service should be resumed.

Heads up # 2: Disaster has struck

Trying to fix a problem with the Wacom tablet that occurred after installing XP Service Pack 2, I have succeeded in preventing the tablet from working altogether. I need the tablet to clean and color my scanned pages, and will not even consider doing that with a mouse. I have a tablet-enabled setup at home, but it is not as good, and taking my pages from the studio to my home to scan and process (and then back to the studio to letter unless I get Paint Shop Pro working on the linux machine) will slow down my workflow considerably, unless I drastically change the way I do my work (i.e. leave the studio and do all my work from home again).
I have pledged to do this storyline in color from beginning to end. If I'm unable to color, I will have to put the comic on hiatus until the problem is solved, and this hiatus is effective immediately.
The original problem: the tablet worked only with one user at the time, which is unacceptable on a system with two heavy tablet users.
Actions undertaken: I started out re-installing the driver from the original CD. This resulted in the tablet failing to work altogether. Upgrading to a newer driver from the Wacom website had no effect. The little light at the top of the tablet is on, but the device itself does not appear to be home.
Have any of you had this problem on a Windows box before? What would you recommend I do?

Update: Never mind. I have rolled back Service Pack 2.

September 28, 2004

Stillborn puppy

I don't like rejection. Who does? But you don't get through 4 years of art college without learning to deal with it. Still, this particular rejection got to me. I was asked to submit a comic for a Dutch alternative comics magazine Zone5300. I submitted a four page story written bij the chief editor of the magazine mid-August, had a positive response from said editor and a parting senior editor. But then out of the blue, yesterday, 5 or 6 weeks later, I got an email they've decided to reject the comic after all. The reason they waited this long is because they wanted to consider it properly. Which sounds like a rather lame excuse for "Hmm, this might do as a filler, let's first see what else we get and not let him know we think it's sub-par anyway." Sub-par comics being the reason I cancelled my subscription to the magazine a couple of years ago. Which makes me fear I turned in really crappy work. Well, see for yourself, here it is online, and feel free to let me know what you think... Read on for a quick translation

Continue reading "Stillborn puppy" »

The New York Times should do this

Via Roel's weblog: Webwereld reports that the Belgian newspaper De Standaard will open up its paid archives to webloggers. Considering the annoyance I and undoubtedly many others experience when an interesting link in a blog sends you to a login page - which as often as not stops me dead in my tracks, even now that the world has Bugmenot - this is a good compromise.
De Standaard will use referral headers to determine if the incoming link is from a blog. I have no doubt that the server software will get it wrong often, at least at first. But it will get better. Now if only the New York Times would do the same...

Update: Bloggers can go to the Blogsafe link generator to create working links to NYT articles. Until it gets shut down, probly.


Well, the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for Wednesday, September 29 did get done in time after all, thanks to me getting second wind with my scriptwriting for Floor and my dogged determination. It's not my best, visually, but my philosophy has always been that the most important thing is to keep the story going.
I sometimes get frustrated about having to do pages full of talking heads when I'm capable of drawing much more. Visually, the entire trial sequence is not among my best. However:
-The court sequence has other, redeeming qualities. I think the dialogue and characterisation, and the revelations about the back story, are at least keeping it interesting for the readers even if the visuals occasionally let it down.
- Even a talking heads sequence can teach me new tricks that I can apply later to make similar sequence more interesting. Talking heads can be visually appealing if you put a bit more thought into composition. For example, one of my studio-mates is in favor of isocephaly - the idea that between two panels, you keep the heads at more or less the same height. This makes for a quieter, less crowded looking, more readable layout - but only if everything else varies between these two panels. I have applied the idea in many sequences in this story, and it does help anchor the flow of a page if there are many changes in "camera" angle and zoom. In sequences with talking heads, though, using it makes it dull, and now I'm learning to avoid it in those sequences after having used it for so long. Expect the next part of the trial sequence to be more 'baroque' composition-wise.

I do think I can draw much better than I have been doing lately, and I have proved it to myself with a drawing that you will see cropping up in places later. The Grimborg sequence, which will follow the Trial, will have much more emphasis on the art. And for future storylines, my intention is to change the format so that I can spend more time planning and drawing the comic, and less time coloring and tweaking it. Coloring, lettering and final tweaks are the big time sinks, and freeing up that time will help the art a lot.

September 29, 2004

Mary Sue Test

Via Spike, here's a test to see if a character in original fiction is a Mary Sue. I've given it the once over but haven't got around to actually doing the test on Kel, Jodoque and the likes. I think many of them will score higher on Mary-Sue-ism than Spike's characters, but hopefully not that high. I make an effort to spread it over many characters.

Update: I have now done the test for the core characters *):

Continue reading "Mary Sue Test" »

Neelie Who?

Nosemonkey at Europhobia sums up the controversy over the nomination of Neelie Kroes to the European Commission and looks at the underlying problems in how the Commission is put together and confirmed....so that I don't have to. Thanks, Nosemonkey!

Oddly, "the Parliament can only approve or vote down the entire commission and cannot pick out individual candidates for veto." This could make for tough work for the new Commission president, Jos´┐Ż Manuel Barroso. Not only has he had no say in who his subordinates are (they are nominated by individual member states and he has to work with what he's got), but he's also been lumbered with some dodgy-sounding ones.

Something needs to be re-thought, indeed. Sounds like a job for Super-Paul!

September 30, 2004

Holsclaw to Republicans: police yourselves

I don't know how many people reading this are Republican-voting Americans - probably not too many by now. My fault - whenever one shows up in the comments, I tend to give only short, snarky responses, or not respond at all. I have my reasons; let's just say they have to do with wanting to avoid too much emotional investment in political debate.
That doesn't mean I don't read those few comments that have come from you guys. I do, often more than once. And I do pay attention to substantial arguments coming from right-wingers elsewhere in the big ol' blogosphere.
Why do I poke my head out right now to mention this? Well, it just so happens that one of those right-wingers I pay attention to is Sebastian Holsclaw of Obsidian Wings, and he has something to say :

My message to Republican leaders is this, either listen to the moral implications, or at least learn Dan Rather's lesson. The blogosphere is beginning to focus its attention on this issue... Put it to rest now. Admit that you hadn't fully thought through the implications of this small section of the bill and move on. It would be the height of foolishness to risk the American public's backing for the War on Terror on a practice which is both highly immoral and typically unhelpful. We are going to have to steel the public's nerves for a lot of things to come in the future. It would be a shame to waste time and energy defending the unhelpful and indefensible instead of dealing with other issues which are highly useful to the war and merely tough to defend.

Read the whole thing, and then start taking action so that this thing is off the table before the election.

I buy far too many CDs!

My one vice, the one bad habit that will one day be the ruin of me, is buying much much more music than I can afford. One day, I'll go too far, and end up homeless, or crushed under the weight of a falling cupboard full of CDs... or worse, I could end up a musicblogger. I've noticed that quite a few people who write about music in weblogs are desperately unhappy, and although music can help people remain sane, writing about it often allows writers to wallow in whatever their problem was in the first place.

For now, though, I can buy CDs and vinyl and pay for them out of my tax refund, which was a big'un this year. It's irresponsible, but it won't actually bankrupt me... yet.

I have some time to spare right now, so here and in the next few posts will be a roundup of stuff I bought in the past couple of months weeks.

Today, I got Want One by Rufus Wainwright, now marked down at the record store. Rufus is the son of Loudon Wainwright III, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.While he does have some of his dad's melodic sensibility, the music on Want One sounds more like a cross between Muse and Jellyfish, with traces of Roy Harper. The lyrics are less anecdotal and poignant than dad's, and more existential. Not sure if I like the lyrics, and his voice can grate a bit after a while, but the tunes are strong and the big production is just gorgeous. The layered instrumental work keeps it interesting. One to play a few more times before I can tell if it has any staying power. Update: after three listenings, I can say that the answer is no. Rufus's vocal mannerisms annoy me and the orchestrations get in the way of the songs.

I also got Smoke and Strong Whiskey by Christy Moore. Moore is the older brother of singer-songwriter Luka Bloom, and the similarity is clear in his voice and songwriting approach. I was very much immersed in coloring Friday's comic while I listened to this for the first time, so I can't say too much about it, other than that it was rockier than I expected it to be. It's very much an Irish record, but a folk-rock one instead of the folk that I expected. Soft folk-rock, mind. It has electric guitars and hammond organs, but doesn't get very loud, mostly because Moore's voice is very quiet. Smoke and Strong Whiskey is pleasant enough, but nothing stuck out. There's a cover of the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" on the album, but while it's better played than the original, it lacks the original's energy and the cattiness that you got from the duet between Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl. Moore's own songwriting is pretty good though, and I'll probably end up loving it when I've heard the record more often. Update: on repeated listening, I like about half the songs. "Scapegoats" is a particularly good one. It's odd to think that 14 years on, there is once again a need for songs like that.

Continue reading "I buy far too many CDs!" »

Angel Delight/Babbacombe Lee/Rosie

The remastered versions of the first 5 Fairport Convention albums plus Heyday and the live record House Full appeared before I started blogging, and I'm not gonna try to catch up with them right now. I'll skip straight to the latest batch of Fairport records to be reissued, albums 6, 7 and 8, which I bought a few weeks ago. These records show Fairport in its slow but spirited decline.

Continue reading "Angel Delight/Babbacombe Lee/Rosie" »

Swarbrick roundup

Speaking of Dave Swarbrick, I have got meself some more of his solo records in the past few months! After writing about Swarbrick Plays Swarbrick, I realised that I didn't know nearly as much about his career as I did about other Fairporters like Sandy Denny or Richard Thompson, so I set out to remedy that. I'll keep it brief:

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About September 2004

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

August 2004 is the previous archive.

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