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April 2005 Archives

April 1, 2005

Schlock Mercenary leaves Keenspot

I thought it looked different...
Schlock Mercenary has left Keenspot. Howard Tayler writes:

Continue reading "Schlock Mercenary leaves Keenspot" »

Some April Fools jokes are just too good

Chasing the Sunset's April Fools joke got a bit out of hand. The creators posted a very realistic looking Cease and Desist letter from the law firm for New Line Cinema, and the readers ate it up, and passed the link around. Eventually, writer Mithandir had to reveal the hoax early to stop readers from contacting the law firm or New Line Cinema.
Most April Fools "pranks" in webcomics are mere creator swaps, which has got a bit old by now, although they can be entertaining if done well. This one fooled people into action, which is what the tradition is all about. Good one, guys, but next time leave a few more clues for the gullible.

DAFTSOD April Fools' Day

Click on the link to read the comic, if you dare! :D

Continue reading "DAFTSOD April Fools' Day" »

Buh-bye, trackbacks

Waffle has been hit hard by trackback spam in the past couple of days. Now, I could respond to this by trying again to set up MT-Blacklist and fix whatever prevents it from working as it should, but frankly, the blog gets very few legitimate trackback pings, and in any case, I'm no longer as interested in blogospheric juju as I was a year ago or so. So the easy way out for me is to disable trackbacks altogether, strip the trackback ping code out of the templates, and give the spammers the finger for good. I won't get a cool Technorati profile or a high place in the Blog Ecosystem with that attitude, but the sad spectacle of seeing bloggers whine about how "nofollow" would destroy blogging as we know it has lead me to believe that that aspect of the blogging experience is profoundly stupid and childish anyway. So gone are trackbacks, and good riddance. The archive pages will be leaner for the lack of all that stuff hidden in them.

The one reason to have trackbacks at all is to allow your readers to find interesting blogs that way. Since no interesting blogs ever ping this one, I don't see why I should expose the site to massive abuse in the vain hope of that ever happening.

Update of the Bride of the Second Cousin of Technical Difficulties

Joey's just sent word that he intends to bring Modern Tales, Serializer and Graphic Smash as temporary non-updating archival sites by tomorrow morning (in his time zone - he's in Kentucky). Girlamatic is already back up in that form. Note the word "intends" in bold italics for emphasis. A million things could still get between him and that intention.
Cartoonists won't have control panel access until Monday, so until then, all sites will be in a timewarp.
When we get the control panel access back, I will first restore the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan archives, then I'll bring the Courtly manners updates back up to date, rescheduling the episodes for yesterday and today for Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7. Then, when the archives at Modern Tales are back in synch with the updates on ROCR.net, I'll run the next new episodes. Until then, I may run fillers on ROCR.net and its mirrors so the regular visitors will have something to look at. It's a bit ironic (in the Alanis Morissette sense of the word) in that Courtly Manners was itself intended as a filler, but the Department of Preventing Headaches insisted that I go about it this way.
Note that my plans are dependent on Joey's plans working out on the proposed schedule. If his work is delayed, mine will also be.

April 2, 2005

Josh Marshall on John Paul II

Like Josh Marshall, my first memory of any Pope is of one of them dying and being replaced. Although I'm a bit younger than Josh, I started paying attention to the news a little earlier (so why am I the big Mr. Pundit Guy, hanh?), so my particular memory concerns Pope Paul VI, not the short-lived John Paul I. He's written a pretty good overview of John Paul II's place in history and his ambivalent legacy. Read the whole thing.

From the Webcomics community

"If you don't carry out your webcartooning duties the way I think you should, someone else will remove you from Favorites!"

No, not aimed at me, thank God. I have a mature readership. Thank you all for not being like those people.

Should have used a Babel Fish

The second episode failed to deliver on the promise of the first. Not that it was bad — just that for someone who has already watched and read a lot of science fiction, it was a bit too simple and one-dimensional. From Rose's shock at seeing real aliens ("The aliens... they're so... alien") to her moral conversation with The Lady Cassandra, the surgically-altered Last Human Being from 5 billion years into the future, it all looked like it was the first time those kinds of scenes had ever been done. To someone who has already seen more sophisticated versions of the same, it just wasn't convincing.
Of course the point is that I'm part of only one of three audiences that Doctor Who has to cater to. I'm an adult with an interest in science fiction. The other two groups... well, I'll await the verdict of the Seasoned Doctor Who Fan. To members of the Third Group, Young Children, it was probably just right. For them, chances are that this series really is their first exposure science fiction, and so they'll need to have it presented in a direct, unsophisticated way. They'll seek out more complicated variants once they grow into members of my own demographic.

Continue reading "Should have used a Babel Fish" »

April 4, 2005

Attack of the 16-Foot Technical Dififulties

Blimmin' Keenspace updater is stuck again, so ROCR.net is not updating. Not that you're missing much, because I'm showing fillers while waiting for the go-ahead to repair my archives at Modern Tales, but if you want your fix, go to the mirror site.
I think this shows the problem with redundancy: you never have enough of it to fully cover yourself against technical failure. Out of three locations where my comics can be found online, only one is functional, and it's arguably the most fragile one.

April 6, 2005

The horrific phallus


Just got my art guidelines for the Anthrocon art show. Behold their rules about what must go in the "mature" gallery:

"Any depiction of excessive violence or bloodshed, such as bloody massacres, someone being eaten alive, body parts blown away, murder victims lying in a pool of blood"

"Full frontal nudity"

"Exposed genitalia"

"Visible erections, even if partially hidden by clothing"

"Any depiction of sexual acts, except as outright prohibited below"

(these being images appearing to depict child or human/non-anthro porn.)


I'm not surprised, of course. Nor does it matter to me, as fuzzballs don't fit any of these categories.

But once again it highlights the inexplicable hysteria surrounding sex. All right, it's not inexplicable, it's to make sure no child, under any circumstances, can see something curious that will lead them to ask their parents an EMBARRASSING QUESTION! God forbid a child want to know why that wolfman has a big bulge in his trousers.

But the violent things they're describing are downright scary! Which implies that the things that come after it are equally scary. That is to say, they have the potential to distress and upset viewers and therefore must be locked away. I think it's sad that a "visible erection" must be a cause for alarm instead of joy.

I also wonder at the lumping-together of these extremely violent pictures and the sex pictures. What if I went in to see the nude beasties, but was confronted by scenes of carnage? Why am I assumed to be able to deal with images of terrible mutilation just because I am keen to see a penis?

I know all the real answers, of course. It's to prevent complaints and legal action, and who has the time or resources to set up the Room of Gore and the Room of Earthly Delights separately?


But in lumping these things together as Forbiddens, it sends a terrible message about naughty bits. All the violent things mentioned are considered terrible crimes. If an erection is as Forbidden as a mutilation, good heavens, it must be a dreadful thing!

Save us! It's a penis!

The coolest fashion accesory ever!

Browsing through one of the zillion blogs I seem to be reading these days in my pursuit of a career as a professional procrastinator, I came across the coolest fashion accesory ever: The original Tom Baker/Dr. Who scarf!


With knitting instructions! Either I must find someone to knit it for me, or learn to do it myself, because this is certainly a must-have!

Through the Cartoonist: The history of Tom Baker's scarves.

600

While emptying out the contents of a cardboard box that had been cluttering up my flat for some time and that I wanted to throw out, I found a peak flow meter from an asthma medicine trial I took part in some 7 or 8 years ago. A peak flow meter is a tube you blow in, which then tells you the peak output of your lungs. It was the only thing from the box I didn't end up throwing away; instead, I washed it and then had a tootle. So I can now announce to the blogosphere that my peak flow is 600 liters per minute. That's a pretty good result: it's very close to my top result during the trial, it indicates a normal lung capacity and shows that my lung capacity hasn't shrunk since taking the trial, despite living and working in environments that are really too dusty for me and my allergies (I'm working on it!). Then again, the dust causes me to sneeze a lot, possibly maintaining that capacity.
Over the years I've occasionally considered taking part in another trial some time, whether for money or for the good of the asthma-suffering population. I always learn something about my health, and I get to keep stuff like that peak flow meter.

Yes, yes, this is rather good.

Via Wednesday White at the Science Fiction Blog:

Skywishes shook her head. "You're the only boy pony any of us have ever seen," she said.

Aziraphale decided that now wasn't the time to comment on how improbable that sounded, especially as he'd seen several baby ponies.

April 8, 2005

A few temporary URLs

Modern Tales is back up, but DNS isn't resolving quite rightly yet. Here are the places to go, for now.

Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan on Modern Tales. The full archive view isn't working yet. Subscribers can page back on a chapter by chapter basis though.
Courtly Manners on Modern Tales. Ditto.

Timm and Adam's Dangerous and Fluffy is on Graphic Smash, whose DNS is resolving normally. The problem with the archive views applies though.

Yesterday, in the text below the ROCR comic, I encouraged readers to subscribe to get to the archived goodies. As it happens, Modern Tales isn't quite ready to take on new subscribers again (and I haven't had the time yet to re-enter the remastered comics into the new database). But if you like these comics, think about it, OK? There's a lot of good stuff in the archives, delivered in easy to read elevator scroll pages which would be too costly to deliver in an advertising-based model, and it keeps the artists fed so they can make more comics.
And if you're in Europe, it's hella cheap! Come on, use the Power of the Euro to buy stuff cheaply! You want to!


April 9, 2005

Invasion of the Giant Stalking Technical Difficulties

(I'm going to run out of B-Movie Titles of Technical Difficulties sooner than I thought)
The Talk About Comics are down with a cryptic error message. This has happened before, recently - the message means that the database has got corrupted and needs to be rebuilt. Ultimate Owner, Lord and Master of the TAC Forums, Joey M, has been notified and will undoubtedly soon wave his magic wand over the situation. He has a lot on his plate now, though, unlike the last time when he merely thought he had a lot on his plate , so it may take a while longer.

Update: The forums are back up, and Joey has explained that DOSers were the cause. These people are quickly catching up to spammers on my hate list...

Dickens!

Not much to say about the 3rd Doctor Who episode. It was good, better than I expected of a time-travel-into-the-past episode. It stayed interesting and non-cheesy throughout, and the use of Charles Dickens was much more subtle than I had any right to expect, given what I wrote last week. If it had been Star Trek, Dickens would have been inspired to write A Christmas Carol by something Spock or Data said, but here, he has his meeting with the strange people from another time so late in life that he will die before accomplishing much on the basis of his new insight. I think this exemplifies a major difference between English and American Science Fiction, and is a big part of why I like English SF better. It's also telling that Dickens is presented as being a bit over the hill and not sparkling with wit and genius all the time like Mark Twain in that Trek:TNG episode. When the writer appears, he's touring the recital circuit, making a decent living, but drinking too much as a reaction to his disillusionment with the daily grind.

Rose was much better this time. I'm still disappointed that contrary to assertions by the BBC before the series started, her role in the plot consists mostly of getting into trouble and screaming helplessly, but characterisation is developing a bit more. She really likes this Doctor, she prefers the company of the serving folk over the nobby characters, she's not easily phazed until the real trouble begins, that sort of thing.
The Doctor was himself only more so.

There's an überstory emerging relating to the Time Wars. I don't know enough about the franchise to be able to tell if the Time Wars had a major place in the canon. I'll proceed very carefully in the future lest I spoil something at the series level for the die-hard fan.

8 out of 10. Best so far, without anything jumping out at me. However, I don't think this one would have grabbed me if it had been broadcast first. It was solid, but maybe a little too solid to get under my skin.

To do for week 15

I may have trouble getting five Courtly Mannners updates done next week. My to-do list for the next week:

Continue reading "To do for week 15" »

April 10, 2005

SpamLookup

Add this one to the to-do list:
The blog's webhost, Xepher, says he's ready to start experimenting with allowing comments on Movable Type installations. I have not responded to that, because I haven't got MT-Blacklist working yet, and haven't spent a whole lot of time on it lately. But now MT-Blacklist's creator, Jay Allen, writes about a new despamming tool called SpamLookup, which he says is so good that


I've disabled MT-Blacklist and DSBL (but not MT-Moderate, which SpamLookup works with quite nicely and relies on for ping moderation) in favor of Spamlookup.

Sounds good, neh? I'll be in touch with Xepher some time next week.

Snarking software

I've been wanting a Mac for some time. I almost got one when it was time to replace my last PC last year, but I didn't have the money for a G5 burning a hole in my pocket then, or now. Indeed, I don't have the money for a Mac Mini burning a hole in my pocket, and if I did, I would spend it on things that need replacing more urgently around the house.
But I find something about them intensely desirable, whether it's a professional, high-end G5 or a lowly Mac Mini. In fact, I find the Mini more desirable, because it's almost affordable and can double as a table prop. The two things about them that I like most when I look at them in the shops are the sleek interface of OS X and the fact that those things are silent. PCs with their fans always make a noise, and Apple has come up with a desktop computer the size of a waffle iron that you don't hear in an environment where there's any other ambient sound. That impresses me.
As a result, I've been keeping up with what people are saying about Macs, ranging from "I don't see the point, and don't think they're worth the premium" to "It's one of three things that have improved my productivity by an order of magnitude" both from computer savvy webcomics folks. I've been very interested in Branko Collin's two posts about his Mac experience.
But what's really given me pause for thought is this: Eric Burns Snarks Pages, Apple's new word processing software.

Continue reading "Snarking software" »

Printing comic books

Of possibly lasting interest to webcartoonists intending to self-publish in print: John faub Fortman's Printing Comics Tutorial. I'll read it in my copious spare time.

"I've seen it. It's rubbish"

Planet Magrathea reviews the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy movie and piles steaming heaps of hate on it. In the short version, linked here, it looks like a lot of writer MJ Simpson's opprobium is of the "how dare you deviate from the Holy Writ in any way" variety, but the long version of the review, with spoilers, highlights some things that I too would have difficulty with. The final, damning verdict is that


That's the movie we've been waiting 26 years for. And let me tell you, it was not worth the wait, not for this. The whole film is true to neither the letter nor the spirit of Douglas Adams' books and scripts.

I'm really sorry to hear that. (via cmkaapjes who got it from Fark)

Continue reading ""I've seen it. It's rubbish"" »

April 11, 2005

Clickies!

Nominated for the Clickies in the Epic catagorie Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has been shortlisted for a Clickie in the "Epic" category. There are four other nominees in that category, including Jeroen "cmkaapjes" Jager's Shadow, making that part of the shortlist a bit of a coup for the vast and evil Modern Tales empire.

Continue reading "Clickies!" »

April 12, 2005

scary-go-cap'n



Just when John Allison goes back to pen and paper, I've finally gone and tried to teach myself the basics of Illustrator to bring you: scary-go-cap'n! In my quest of creating the weirdest images it's rather surprising it took me 4 years before I finally did one in Illustrator. I postponed learning the program for ever, though I'm not sure why. I quite like it, and mean to experiment with it a lot the coming time.

April 13, 2005

On extended hiatuses

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but because it's the sort of thing I expect to get either a bit of flack or a lot of unnecessarily concerned responses for, I kept putting it off. Now that this award nomination is on, I have a reason to post this sooner rather than later, which is fundamentally similar to my previous reason for putting it off: people on the internet tend to be quick to jump to conclusions, and I don't want the wider webcomics-reading world to think that the concerns raised below were sparked off by me not winning a Clickie or something.

Aanyway. A few weeks ago I channeled Robert Fripp and posted this on my Livejournal. Since then, I have come to a decision, which I will reveal tomorrow. But first, if you're a Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan or Courtly Manners fan, read this from beginning to end - and don't worry.

Continue reading "On extended hiatuses" »

Poepoe

For a guy who's supposed to be the brains behind a webcomics exhibit and a nominee for a Dutch webcomics award, I'm remarkably unfamiliar with the work of most of the other nominees. However, I can safely say that Poepoe by Fokke & Sukke artist Jean-Marc van Tol is fast becoming one of my favourite comics.

The downside to this is that I'll have to add a comic to my front page hotlist which will never be promoted to Keenspot or the Modern Tales family, because Poepoe is very much a hobby for the creator, who makes a fine living indeed from Fokke & Sukke. There goes Nostradijkhuis' track record down the crapper...

April 14, 2005

If I were a Brit, who should I vote for?

Lib Dem, apparently:

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat


Your actual outcome:



Labour -17     
Conservative -23     
     Liberal Democrat 36
     UK Independence Party 6
     Green 31


You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

The reason I expected Lib Dem instead of Labour was that I voted "neutral" on quite a few questions, which is what their Dutch equivalent would do.

(Via SBBS)

This is probably uncollegial and unsporting of me

... but I tried to get into fellow Clickie nominee Han Hoogerbrugge's Hotel and all I got out of it was confirmation of my prejudice that Flash is really only good for crude political satire with squirrels in it.

That's not to say there isn't some interesting stuff going on, visually, but for me, it's not enough to justify sitting through the whole thing, alternately waiting for the next thing to happen or hunting for things to click on. And the repetitive music drives me nuts!

I've always thought that the point of interactivity was to give the audience more control over their experience of the work. This just makes me feel lost and frustrated. Give me singing squirrels any day.

Edit: As a fellow Clickie nominee I must protest.
It is also great for putting a frog in a blender.

edited by Cmkaapjes

So, what am I going to do next?

It just had to happen. Just after yesterday's angsty ramble on extended hiatuses, Wednesday White on Websnark posted a commendation of Jeffrey Rowland's terse notice:


OC for Wednesday will not be available due to an issue regarding an event.

saying

See, folks? THIS is how it's done. Not with paragraphs, not
with angsting...

Well, this one's going have paragraphs again, and maybe some angsting. But it will also have a point. Because I deliberately left the point hanging in that other post.

Continue reading "So, what am I going to do next?" »

Bignose and Overbite

This Clickie contender: Bignose and Overbite I like a lot better! It has nice, light art that reminds me a bit of Andy Konky Kru and a storyline that starts out seemingly aimless and improvised but ends up rather intricate. It doesn't go very deep, but the formal play is interesting and entertaining without being obtrusive, and many of the jokes are funny.

April 15, 2005

Short Courtly Manners interruption

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the light of my blog entries of the past few days, Courtly Manners will be briefly interrupted on Monday and Tuesday, April 18 and 19. I have too much on my plate preparing for Clickburg and don't want the climax of the story to be spoiled by rushed artwork. Horses aren't easy to draw, y'know.

There are about a dozen episodes to go in the story. I'd like to wrap it up in good time, but, like I said, not at all cost.

Albo Helm's comics

Since I've already blathered on at great length about my own comic in this blog over the past year, and won't add anything to what I've already said about my friend Jeroen's Shadow other than that you can now read it for free, there's only one Clickie contender in the "Epic" category left to discuss.

The work on Albo Helm's site is of a very high quality, but for the purposes of the contest I think it has two counts against it. One is that it isn't really a single epic - It's a collection of unrelated stories and more than a few gag comics. The jury should really have picked a single story to nominate. The other is that a lot of the material on display wasn't made for the web, and it shows. I'm no purist, you'll understand. About a quarter of all the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan material ever published on the web wasn't made especially for it, and this fraction will go up once I start on the publication of The Stone of Contention. But it was carefully adapted to the web: the lettering enlarged in proportion to what I'd have done in print, images endlessly massaged until they'd look good on screen. I miss that aspect in Albo's work. Like many of Donna Barr's early comics scanned for the web, much of the work on Albo's site doesn't read well (Donna learned quickly though, and the web versions of storylines like "Bosom Enemies" read very well on the web indeed).
That said, it's appealing stuff! I'd already seen Würzeln in print back in '99, but Oudegracht and Mouth Almighty both justify Albo's nomination.

April 16, 2005

Bloglines no workie

My account seems to have disappeared from Bloglines, and with it the published blogroll on the Waffle front page. Until Bloglines has answered my query about the problem to my satisfaction, I won't comment much on stuff found on other blogs, unless someone sends me links. If they don't answer my query to my satisfaction and I am forced to rebuild the blogroll and the loooong list of blogs I read, I might as well take the opportunity to rebuild it at a competing provider, if one can be found. Send hints and tips to reinder@despammed.com.

This could be a blessing in disguise, really, as it's one less distraction for me to be distracted by.

Who/where/what am I?

(Via Shot By Both Sides, which I will take the trouble to visit even if Bloglines isn't working).
According to , I am somewhat to the right on economic matters and pretty far to the left on social issues. This translate into a match with the Green Party, which I'm about as pleased with as SBBS's John Band must be with his match with the Conservative Party.
Oh, wait...

By the way, Chris's own explanation of the survey is well worth a read, and made me laugh a few time by its references to policital stereotypes. From reading it, I get the idea that UKIP have no real reason for existing: on their core issues, their core voters put the same answers as voters for the Conservatives. For historical reasons, many people in Britain don't trust the Tories no matter how much they agree with them on substantive issues. But in the long run, one of the two parties will have to go.

Nine Lives, Many Masters

I wouldn't say Nine Lives, Many Masters is a great strip, but from what I've read so far, it's got a few things going for it. For one, it actually has a sense of humour about paganism in its many, often quite silly, variants. For another, it has a nice perspective on a large part of fan culture, especially that part that uses the M-word to denote people with lives. So far, I've gotten quite a few chuckles out of it. And the author gives good lines to unsympathetic characters like the toad.

I just noticed that the comic on the front page is the first episode, not the last as is common with many webcomics. This is because the series has ended. Its 53 episodes will make for a nice, quick read, with gags that would have many a pagan demand R.K. Milholland's head if he used them.
(via Amanita's Pagan Place)

Arr, a two-parter!

Episode 4 was another solid one, written by Russel T. Davies again. It's the first of a series of at least two parts, so I won't comment too much on the plot. Instead I want to propose an alternative ratings system for the episodes. Instead of using points out of 10, I want to rate episodes on the basis of postulating a family with a mom, a dad and, let's say five kids ranging from 4 to 12 with two years between each of them. Out of these, the number of kids cowering behind the sofa will be the rating. I reckon at the end of this one, it got 4 out of 5.

It will be possible to get more than 5 out of 5, but this will not be a good thing. If Dad also cowers behind the sofa, the episode gets 6, meaning it really is unsuitable for family viewing as apparently some people have complained. Because Mom has given birth to five children, it will be assumed she fears nothing, so six out of five is the maximum any episode can get.

The look on Rose's face after she'd been ranting on how she was the only human ever to have seen alien civilisations and the spaceship showed up was priceless. So was the Doctor's expression resembling that of a baby who'd just been given candy.

Godspeed, No Stereotypes!

No Stereotypes (no link because I haven't got one handy right now for reasons mentioned below) is leaving Modern Tales. This was supposed to be a bit of a secret, but the crash of late March ate the NS archives and forced creator Amber "glych" Greenlee's hand. She has now admitted her intentions on the forum.
No Stereotypes joined Modern Tales about six months after Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan did, with a restart of the main storyline. And now it's gone already. Kind of makes me wonder if Modern Tales is delivering the goods, really.

Continue reading "Godspeed, No Stereotypes!" »

April 17, 2005

Confuse the cat



Upbeat Flemish emo. Think Deus meets Franz Ferdinand, with a touch of the Delgados, that's Confuse the Cat. Former Reiziger frontman Geert Plessers' influence is very audible, the songs still have those rough edges and eerie repetitive guitar riffs. But Confuse the Cat manages to take the songs beyond where a lot of emo bands get stuck in soundscaping: adding melody and up tempo rythms make the songs much easier to digest and far more diverse.
When I saw them live yesterday at the Vera downstage bar, they had just played another gig for a enthusiastic crowd of 600. This didn't stop them from going all out for the measly 30 or 40 people that had patiently awaited their arrival at half past midnight. It was well worth the wait, though, as they put on an energetic live performance that even survived the lousy accoustics of the room. Rests me to recommend their new album "New medicine" that I bought at the show yesterday, and that hasn't left my cd-player since I put it there this morning.

Sunday Cycling: A little shopping trip and tea party, with wildlife spotting thrown in

Today, Sidsel and I resumed Sunday Cycling! We were going to have only a practice trip, but as usual, our actual trajectory bore only a passing resemblance to our "planned" itinerary.

Continue reading "Sunday Cycling: A little shopping trip and tea party, with wildlife spotting thrown in" »

April 18, 2005

Sick!

I got yet another cold! What a time to get sick. Two weeks before Clickburg with endless stuff yet to do. I started feeling the problem late yesterday afternoon, towards the end of the cycling trip I took with Sidsel. That sore throat, was it due to the chill in the morning, or the sign of something more sinister? As it turned out, as it nearly always turns out, "something sinister" was the correct answer. I can now confidently blame Jeroen for infecting me; he got it from a friend and has already passed it on to his girlfriend. He's a regular Typhoid Mary, is he!
But he's made it up to me by getting me oranges. Lots of them.

On the basis of past experiences, I predict that the sickness will take me one week of being a walking snot factory,followed by another week of bronchitis, so preparing for Clickburg will be very hard. Courtly Manners will be delayed for a little longer. I can do some work, for now (I'm still getting worse), but not if it requires me to get out of the house, so I concentrate on what I can do from home.

I got a Deviant Art site!

While I was waiting for my cold to go away, I started up a Deviant Art thingummybob! Dunno what I'll do with it just yet, I just thought I'd test it out a bit and slap my name on a website that has a big community attached to it. I'm sure there will be more art on there soon-ish!

Adobe buys itself a new license to price-gouge

This is not good. Macromedia had been up and coming as a competitor to Adobe in the fields of vector art and movie-making software, and now Adobe has flat-out bought this competition, once again bringing them closer to a monopoly position in those fields. Not good. Of course, they're not quite up there with Microsoft yet as Adobe actually comes out with decent products, but they'll be in a position to charge whatever they want, which for those of us who use graphics software is not good at all.
(Via Webgraphics)

Jethro Tull remasters: Broadsword, Under Wraps, Crest

The Jethro Tull remaster program has now hit the 1980s! The latest batch consists of 1982's The Broadsword and the Beast, 1984's Under Wraps and 1987's Crest of a Knave.

In the new notes, Ian Anderson says this about Under Wraps:


To most Tull fans, the idea of us sounding like a cross between The Police and Thomas Dolby was a little bit of a stretch in credibity. The fact was, we did it rather well.

Damn right they did. Of course, Tull fans bought it but hated it, and the people who would have been interested in the music on offer didn't buy it because it was a Jethro Tull album. Anderson was also embroiled with the record company, Chrysalis, at the time, so promotion left a lot to be desired (more on that in a separate post). But the album was really rather good, as a piece of 1980s electro-rock. The songs, dealing lyrically with human relationships as seen through the prism of spy story concepts*) have a dark, mysterious feel to them which is well-complemented by the cool, clinical sounds of the synthesizers and the uncharacteristically cerebral, fusion-esque guitar work by Martin Barre. Anderson did some innovative work with the drum machines as well, freeing the playing from the limitations of a human drummer with only two arms, two feet and limited ability to separate the movements of his limbs. And the tunes are memorable. One to try out if you like the music of the 1980s, even if Tull's other music leaves you cold.

Continue reading "Jethro Tull remasters: Broadsword, Under Wraps, Crest" »

April 19, 2005

While I'm sitting at home feeling miserable...

...I'm going to make some long-delayed changes to the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan website, harmonising it with my other site. I may break things in the process, but better to do that now, while the site isn't updating anyway, than when it's active and getting lots of visitors.
Update: While I was doing the work, I was getting lots of visitors anyway. Welcome, those of you coming in from Fokke & Sukke. Sorry about the mess earlier today, although to be honest it's always a bit messy wherever I spend a lot of time.
Most of the work is now done. That's no guarantee that there aren't some things badly broken. I still haven't decided what to do about the Openadnetwork ads in the archives. I think it's time for them to go, but they do serve as placeholders for paying ads at a later stage.

Mirck and van Tol on the radio

On the radio a few minutes ago, cartoonist Jean-Marc van Tol and journalist/Clickie juror Jeroen Mirck, discussing webcomics in general and Clickburg in particular on Radio 1's Radio online. The interview was a fairly standard introduction to webcomics for a general audience, but one thing was notable: when the money question was asked, Jeroen Mirck told the R.K. Milholland story as if it were morphed into the Carson Fire story. There's an irony there, for someone.

Update: Clickburg has the interview on mp3. It's in Dutch, by the way.

Our dear friends, the music industry

Interesting tidbit from Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan's latest open letter to his fans:

Fact: Deep Purple sold around 150,000 tickets in the UK alone, at the beginning and end of the 'Bananas' tour that covered about 38 countries in 18 months and played to millions around the world. EMI, in the UK, pressed - and sold easily - 18,000 copies. They refused point blank to produce any more.

I couldn't in all fairness even paraphrase the reasons they gave to our management and - even more insultingly - to our friends in Cologne, because those reasons are beyond my comprehension. But I do wonder if they have ever had to explain this sort of thing to the shareholders, who might be baffled at the decision to pass, on - at a conservative guess - the potential of half a million pounds worth of gross sales in one territory, and that from a band that has generated in excess of one billion pounds of income from the public into the coffers of the industry as a whole over the last thirty five years (not that we've seen much of it you understand).

One other thing - I think most of us on the creative side were appalled at the rejection by our industry of the Internet potential when it emerged quite a few years ago. That's what happens when you fire your bright people and rely upon your suits. Had IT been embraced instead of being seen as a threat then... ah, what then?

[snip]

Enough, we move on. DP is no longer with EMI and - if the silly grin on Bruce Payne's face is anything to go by - the future looks very bright indeed, in the category - new record company; but that's for him to announce. (BP is our beloved manager).

(Bold emphasis in the original, italics mine) As long as record companies continue to hurt their artists through incompetence and obstructionism, and steal whatever proceeds are made in spite of their incompetence and obstructionism, their arguments against file sharing and other forms of unauthorised use will ring hollow.(Note:as a copyright owner, I don't want them to ring hollow. On the merits, the record companies have a point although it's not a sure-fire one). EMI UK, in their infinite wisdom, killed off a perfectly commercial album. Were the decision makers the same who starved Under Wraps and Ian Anderson's 1983 solo album Walk Into Light of promotion? They might well have been - EMI bought the record company these albums were released on in the early 1990s.

If you look at the way many older recording artists handle their releases, you'll find that many of them do the same thing specifically to insure themselves against record company stupidity. They will only sign short-term contracts, reserve the right to put out fans-only live records themselves and increase their output through the fans-only channels dramatically after leaving major labels. And they will rescue their songwriting catalogue from their old labels by putting out live CDs and DVDs featuring their core material, at the risk of appearing to trade on their old glories (an accusation that can safely be leveled at Jethro Tull these days, but not at, e.g. Richard Thompson who is always working on many new projects but still took out time to record an acoustic record of his best-known material).
Deep Purple do all these things; let's hope they figure out a way to make the Internet work for them as well. For all the good that EMI have done, the band might as well have released Bananas under a Creative Commons license and given it away for free to promote their concerts.

April 22, 2005

Sketchy comics next week

You'd think that what with the recent ending of a major storyline, the workload resulting from my preparations for Clickburg, (both on my own behalf and that of the Comics Museum in Groningen who want an update to the exhibit), my illness, energy spent planning for the future and the bottom falling out of my motivation to update on time rigorously right now, I'd be happy to let both Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan and Courtly Manners slide for a week or two. But you'd be wrong. Seeing a hundred new readers a day come in via Fokke & Sukke has made me itch to put something new on the site regularly, even if it's just a little filler. Just so that they know that it isn't dead or dying, that it is in fact supposed to update regularly (and will, again, after Clickburg).
So I've decided to do a little improvised ROCR-derived comic in pencils. Freed from the restrictions of ink, quality paper, canon and high expectations, I'll try to keep drawing times to about an hour a page, and just make it up as I go along for a week or so. The first one's already done, and it looks like it's gonna be fun. See you on Monday with new comics!

PS. They won't actually be sketchy. Tightly penciled is a better term. Except they're not actually - oh, just read them starting Monday, OK?

April 23, 2005

24-hour comic roundup

Today is 24-Hour Comic Day. Needless to say, I'm not taking part although I'm one of the people who could really benefit from it. Here are some artists who are taking part (co-bloggers, feel free to insert other links you find, but only to the actual 24-hour comics, after they've started showing content)

Margreet de Heer has started early, using Tokyo time.
Flo has content up now.
Poepoe has a directory where the comics should go. At least it's some sort of permalink.
That's more than I can say for Tommy A. Apparently the comic now on his front page is part of his 24-hour comic, but how I should be able to tell is beyond me.
David de Rooij now has stuff online.
Albo Helm's effort has also started.
Stephan Brusche yadda yadda yadda.
Kirk is posting his updates in his forum.


Update: The day is now over, and I'm mighty impressed with the quality of the work from some of the Dutch cartoonists above. Especially Flo and Jean-Marc, although both of them went a bit wobbly towards the end.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, Ghastly has done something, er, ghastly.
Faith Erin Hicks has a wordless thing that provides the missing link between Hole Boy and Pin Drop. It's also very well-drawn from beginning to end.

Massive Weapons of Destruction

... bit of political commentary in the 5th episode of Doctor Who! The aliens who had infiltrated into the highest levels of government used that phrase and others based on the Blair governmnent's claim that mean ole Saddam could kill us all in 45 minutes. And when the Tardis-jockey asked if the public would fall for it, Rose, of all people, nineteen-year-old Rose answered that "they did last time".

There were some weak bits in the second half of this two-part storyline, though. The Doctor's various escapes from immediate destruction relied a bit too heavily on his enemies' willingness to listen to him talk and on them being slow and a bit thick. The Slitheen weren't thick, despite their baby faces in their undisguised form and the farting and stomach noises when they wore their human disguises.

Oh yes, the farting. I've read some criticism of the series "stooping to fart jokes". Bunkum and balderdash, I say. There were no fart jokes; the presence of farting does not imply humorous intent. Only an eight-year-old would assume that connection. Of course, plenty of eight-year-olds watch the show. The Slitheens fart because of the way their disguises affect their internal chemistry, and the internal chemistry played a legitimate role in the plot when Rose's mother Jackie and Rose's boyfiend, er, Ricky finally managed to kill one of them with a household substance. In, I might add, a satisfyingly revolting way.

But really. Comedy in the series comes from the interaction of the most important characters, and especially from the brilliant Christopher Eccleston who has a manic grin for every occasion.

After the early sequences where it wobbled a bit because of the dependence on idiocy on the part of the enemy, the plot chugged along nicely. Once the Doc, his old-in-cynicism companion and the hapless Member of Parliament they'd picked up were safely locked up in the Cabinet Room, things became pretty exciting indeed. There was some thoroughly unrealistic stuff about the Doctor guiding, er, Ricky into the MOD's missile control systems (there was even a slick red button in the MOD interface that the guy could press to launch a missile), and some more unrealistic stuff about the UN making the most important decision in its history within 24 hours, but those things just have to be assumed if you don't want an episode to last all day and be taken up with computer arcana.

In all, decent. And there was even a hint at the end that the writers were aware that there should really be consequences to all this alien stuff happening in London but had come up with an excuse for why there wouldn't. That's really more than I'd expect from a TV series although it would be nice if some day someone wrote a story where those things did have consequences.

Next week: Daleks. I won't see it when it's broadcast because I'll be on my way to Tilburg for Clickburg, but I'm sure someone will be kind enough to tape it for me.

Now, I think Jeroen had a pithy comment to make about the episode.

More Dr. Who



It seems to be final: David Tennant is to be the tenth Doctor. I can't remember having seen him perform, but he's got a good enough face for it. It's weird discussing the successor while enjoying new episodes still, of the current Doctor. And I am enjoying it. As for the number of people behind the couch count Reinder suggested, I would guess at least 2, with a third ready to dive behind it. The special effects where quite decent, the aliens a bit too funny and not scary enough maybe. But that's nitpicking. Scariest part of the episode by far: the chance that that, er, Ricky-bloke might join Rose and the Doctor. That got me on the edge of my seat, and I'm sure the neighbours are wondering where that "Noooooooo!" came from.

On the preview of the next episode: I'm sure every Dr.Who fan can't wait to see the Daleks return, even if it be just a cameo as a museum piece (which I fear it will be).

Wondering about past Doctors and villains? Here's a silly game to help you remember, or stir your curiousity.

... but do they have a sofa?

The BBC have clearly taken my advice: They've lined up a panel of children to test the new Doctor Who episodes for the fear quota. Their ages range neatly from 4 to 12, pretty close to what I suggested. No word on whether the kids have a sofa to hide behind.

This "Adam" is clearly a kindred spirit:


(Auntie Beeb): What do you like most about Doctor Who?

Adam: I like the way the Doctor has to hit the TARDIS with a hammer. And it was funny how the MP kept saying her name.

And from the second installment of "The Fear Forecast", for the latest episode:

(18) Adam writes down the UNIT password - that will obviously come in handy at some stage.

The BBC uses Fear Factor Ratings going from 1 to 5.

(Via Jeroen)

April 25, 2005

Bug Dreams

Via Boing Boing, Bug Dreams has some very good artistic photography of insects. Photographer Rick Lieder makes those bugs look like heroic, rugged individualists.

Tangents

He's been at it for a week now, and he's not slowing down just yet: ROCR reader Rob Howard has changed his old Keenspace site Tangents into a webcomics review site. (I told him he should use a proper blogging service, but he's attached to his old hub, and with a tagboard, a Keenspace forum and promotion-by-the-sweat-of-his-brow, he can achieve everything a blog can achieve, except a decent RSS feed.)

It's a good read. Rob writes with enthusiasm and discusses at least three comics a day in a style similar to that of Websnark. That is, he focuses on individual episodes he comes across during his daily webcomics trawl. Worth a read if you want to be pointed to outstanding webcomics episodes.

April 26, 2005

I need these

These will come in handy during my presentation at Clickburg: a browser emulator to recreate the Web's Trilobite days, and the browser archive preserving the real things for posterity.
Ah, Netscape 0.9! Those were the days.

April 27, 2005

The search for the Netherlands' dirtiest child

Are you, or do you know someone who is, the dirtiest child in the Netherlands? Can you walk out the door, freshly showered and in your best clothes, and get grime on you before you're past the garden fence? Does dirt like you? Then the parenting magazine J/M wants your story as part of their celebration of Annie M.G. Schmidt week, May 17-23. Annie M.G. Schmidt was the Netherlands' best-loved childrens' book writer, and this year's featured character is Floddertje, a little girl with a penchant for getting very very filthy indeed.

If you're not the dirtiest child in the Netherlands, you can still go to the Floddertje website to enjoy Fiep Westendorp's fantastic illustrations (see Voorpublicatie).

April 28, 2005

A quick reminder about the filler comics

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I'm getting some concerned responses in the mail because of the recent switch to penciled filler comics. Just to clarify:
1. I'm mostly cured from my last cold. While these affect me harder than they do most people, they're not the main reason I'm posting work I can do quickly.
2. The main reason is that my time is taken up by non-comics work - preparation for Clickburg. I normally need two solid blocks of at least 4 hours to do the inked and coloured comics, and I haven't got blocks like that right now. Yes, I'm slow. I'm trying to get faster, but if it involves drawing animals like in the Courtly Manners Unicorn Race and doing so at a decent standard, I'm not going to be fast no matter what I do.
3. I wouldn't be posting comics at all right now if it wasn't for the 100 or so readers coming in each day from Fokke & Sukke. I wasn't really motivated to do the regular update thing but when you get that kind of influx, the least you can do is have some updating content up there so they don't think it's a stalled website.

I still need far longer for the penciled things than you'd think. This is partly because the technique I'm using is a bit unfamiliar to me still. But at least I can do them in one smallish block of time instead of two large ones. And I will get better at producing decent art this way. Eventually.

Because I can't get enough of the TARDIS-jockey

leya on IRC #crfh has been filling me in on bits of the Doctor Who mythos, and pointed me at the UNIT website. Unfortunately, even with the password you're not allowed to shoot conventional missiles at Downing Street 10. There are things that even the BBC won't do. (Oh, wait. It's case sensitive. Never mind.)
Via the Keenspace forums comes another link to UNIT, and one to Mickey the idiot's website.


I've met the Slitheen. They're not nice. And I know that the Doctor, this God of Outer Mystery, walked in, and saved the world. There was death. There always is around him. But this time, I'm starting to think that he really meant well.

I just wish I still didn't suspect he'd brought it all to earth. Somehow.

What I like most about this one is that it suggests some behind-the-scenes continuity: Mickey, or was it Ricky, has clearly joined forces with the family of the conspiracy nut from "Rose", episode 1, and is using his photographic materials.

Continue reading "Because I can't get enough of the TARDIS-jockey" »

Behind the Sofa again

As you can tell from many of my latest posts, I enjoy the new Doctor Who series tremendously. However, I feel obliged to point out that I don't watch TV as critically as I listen to music or read books. Between 1995 and 2003 I watched hardly any TV, and even now the set usually remains switched off between Doctor Who episodes unless I'm watching a concert on DVD. So if you want in-depth commentary on things like acting, effects, editing, direction and all those other things that go into making a TV series, go to Behind the Sofa Again, a collaborative blog from a bunch of very critical viewers. Their criticisms are often severe, but well-argued and fun to read even for viewers who don't share such a critical approach.

April 29, 2005

High Powered Corporate Hemichordate!

Reinder showed me a clipart of one of those Dynamic Businessmen on Barry's Clipart Server (www.barrysclipart.com), but I got bored of the people so I had a peek in the animals category instead.

And what did I find there? A clip art of a hemichordate!

What particularly impressed me was that despite the fact a very limited number of people in the world actually know what a hemichordate *is*, the artist had rendered it accurately enough for me to recognise it, even though its proboscis wasn't so phallic as to make me shout "penis worm!" (see image from my invertebrate zoology textbook, below...) They've even drawn the hepatic sacs!

I also like this swimming gastropod (not sure whether it's a nudibranch..) But it's clearly been engaging in kleptoplasty, the practice of nicking useful things out of other organisms' tissues and sticking them in your own. It's full of chlorophyll from the green algae it's been eating. Now it can photosynthesize for itself!

Is this intended as a hint to ambitious businessmen?

And the Worse than Microsoft award for this week goes to

... OpenOffice.org's presentation software, for turning an unfinished but functional presentation into a mess of broken images. And this two days before I'm due to talk at Clickburg. Because making the presentation was torture in the first place, I am disinclined to do the work again. After all, the software might destroy my work again once I close it.
I don't like working with Microsoft products, and Powerpoint gets quite a bit of flak, but I do remember from my days working a Respectable Day Job (*crosses self in the hope of never going back to those days*) that it was easy to learn and use and actually saved what you made. This open-source knockoff doesn't even get those basic requirements right. Oh well, at least the word processor is good enough. I use the word processor a lot and the presentation software basically never.

Continue reading "And the Worse than Microsoft award for this week goes to" »

Yes, Virginia, there is a Kitten Collective

Resistance is futile. (Via)

April 30, 2005

Finntroll at Vera, April 29

... I don't remember ever seeing crowdsurfing at Vera. Turns out that Finntroll aren't just big names in the metal subculture, but have actual hero status, complete with loud cheers, hands in the air and a major buzz going through the audience when they walked on stage.
They did a pretty good concert, as well, although they weren't nearly as tight as on the records, especially in the first few numbers. Singer Wilska did a decent job reproducing some of the joik-singing in tracks like "Jaktens Tid", and the signature keyboard sound was there despite the fact that the keyboard player was new.
What didn't translate well to the stage is the tongue-in-cheekness of it all; I suppose that on stage just playing a good metal set is difficult enough, so it was all a bit more straight-faced than on record. But as the gig progressed, the band got tighter, and the guitar sound gained in clarity and depth. On the whole, I'd say it was a good concert but not a great one. The crowd at the sold-out venue loved it though.
The band toured with two support acts. I gave the first one, Amoral, a miss but did catch a few numbers from Naglfar, a decent thrash-metal group. They looked and sounded all right but suffered from the emotional flatness that affects many metal acts; the songs were just made of bits following one another, with no real buildup or mood change. So suddenly there might be a bit where the audience is supposed to go "Hey" in time to the rhythm, but there's no reason why that should happen in that precise part of a song instead of any other.
I liked the crowd. Metal people tend to be friendly and wear interesting things - I was amused by the sight of a girl wearing a tiara. Apart from the tiara and the two young guys in Crusader outfits, the dress style was more restrained than the Gothic style, and a lot more tasteful - for a given value of taste. Many in the crowd had shirts with gruesome imagery or suicidally depressing slogans, which is incongruous if the person wearing the shirt is a fresh-faced, even angelic-looking teenager. Ages ranged from about 13 to mid-fourties, by the way. Americans may be interested to know that alcohol was sold despite the presence of minors - but hopefully not to the minors.
After the concert, Jeroen, Danny, Sidsel and I had a heroic drinking session, which makes the final work on my presentation (I have decided to give it after all) a bit difficult right now.

About April 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in April 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2005 is the previous archive.

May 2005 is the next archive.

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

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