Sat 19 November 2005
A Day in the Life annotations: Seven pm to nine pm
I don't really like drawing cars, so this is about all you're gonna get out of me. Actually, I don't like drawing machines of any kind except espresso machines. It's not just because I worked as a barista, before we even called ourselves that -- I mean, in the entirety of my life, I've spent way more hours in a car than behind an espresso machine. I think it's a level of interest. I also can draw computers, and have, but unless I'm getting paid, any drawing of a computer is going to be like this drawing of a car -- about the minimum that still gets the concept across. Compare to my drawing of an espresso machine as part of the Dr. Darkness & the Fabulous Demon Babe story. That's what I'm talking about. The espresso machine was drawn with love.
I didn't think about it too much at the time (24-hour comic, no time to stop and think!) but this haunted car scenario is a revisitation of an idea that I was toying with for a while, of injecting a more Fortean element into Goth House. Previously, the only official stance on the subject was in "Goth house is not haunted" (in Collection 2: The Nameless Collection) and it was that the Goth House residents do not live in a world of supernatural occurrences. But I realized that wasn't quite true. They do not live in a world of unambiguous supernatural occurrences.
Also, I should point out -- right after this panel I went to eat dinner, and confessed that I was a bit stuck on what should happen next, because I had some time to kill before the next plot point. Remember when I thought doing this "realtime" was a really clever idea?
So, as per the dinner break mentioned above, the wasp gag that plays out over the next few panels is Paul's idea. Thanks Paul!
In Percival's imagination, Ophelia is even haughtier than usual. And she is always wearing a Morticia Addams dress, and Theda Bara eyeliner.
By the way, the picture of Theda Bara which you can see on the cover of the bio Vamp (which I have also had on a postcard since about 1988) is definitely a character design influence on Ophelia. I recommend the book, too. One interesting thing that emerged, in the excerpts from reviews of her films, is that people complaining that a sexy actress is "too fat" is not a new phenomenon at all. They were doing it in the 1920s. I'm not sure why, but I've read theories that it has to do with an instinctive attempt at female diminishment during periods when women are garnering additional political and social power. And I kind of buy that, because the phenomenon went away during the 50s (Marilyn Monroe), and then came back (people who now say Monroe was "too fat," in spite of the fact that she has become a permanent sex symbol). But, you know, I digress. A lot.
I like this dream. I think it shows you what's really going on in Terra's head, in spite of her conscious "acceptance" of "we should see other people." And I was pleased with the image of right-wing commando plastic army men coming out of the wedding cake. It's the sort of thing that I would have put some visual effort into, had I not been doing a 24-hour comic, and it sort of found its way into another, later story in Owen's Nightmare.
Permalink : A Day in the Life annotations: Seven pm to nine pm
Fri 18 November 2005
This movie version of the autobiographical...not a novel exactly...was actually made in 2001 but the video just became widely available. Without knowing anything more, I assumed that Eli Lilly was suppressing it for being insufficiently pro-SSRI. But some press briefings make it sound like Larry Gross more of a 9/11 thing
. The Internet rumors conclude that is has to do with Elizabeth Wurtzel saying something un-PC
about the disaster immediately afterward:
"It just slid, like a turtleneck going over someone's head. ... It was just beautiful ... I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me.
But I think the real problem with it is that -- it's not a terrible movie, but it's no lost cinematic gem, either. Christina Ricci (who looks astonishingly like Wurtzel) is good in it -- she's pretty much always good, even in terrible movies -- and she does take off her shirt. So that's something. Otherwise, it's sort of dull and pointless.
I've never read the book so I didn't realize that Wurtzel had essentially rewritten The Bell Jar, and it has the same problem that film versions of the earlier book have -- there's not a lot of narrative, and what little there is, comes across as shallow and whiny when you remove the intensely emotional internal dialogue. (That's why Shakespeare used monologues.)
Yes, I know Prozac Nation is based on Wurtzel's life. The Bell Jar was based on Sylvia Plath's life. Talented young women from broken families win writing contests, go to nice schools, and get spectacularly depressed for no readily apparent reason.
The big difference is that Plath is very disengaged from her surroundings. Her depression makes her a blank slate that other people project things onto. In Prozac Nation, except for one scene where "Lizzie" has a classic writer's block/drug induced meltdown, most of the time she manifests her depression by treating other people really, really badly. I mean, I suppose we're supposed to see her cruelties as a sort of protection of a vulnerable...oh, heck, I don't know. And I really don't care. Which is a problem in a movie. It leaves me thinking that fiction about depressed people really needs to be funny, or Hamlet (although Hamlet is pretty funny, actually, if you stage it right). Because, you know, nobody wants to listen to you complaining unless you're funny.
Permalink : Prozac Nation
Fri 18 November 2005
The U.S.: Totally on top of that international terrorism thing. No, really.
In early November, the Pentagon confirmed the identity of one of four prisoners who escaped from a U.S. military jail in Afghanistan in July as suspected al-Qaida leader Omar al-Farouq, considered one of Osama Bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast Asia.(U.S. confirms break from military jail
Suspected al-Qaida leader among escapees) This annoyed Indonesian officials, who captured him in 2002 before turning him over to U.S. authorities, and found out that he had escaped because he had appeared, gloating about his escape, in a video broadcast Oct. 18 on Dubai-based television station Al-Arabiya.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales described the apparent breakdown in communication as a "serious problem" and told CNN in an interview that it would be investigated.
So, it seems clear to me -- these guys broke out of our jail, and we knew Indonesia would be cranky about it, so we didn't tell them until forced to. We screwed up and, in trying to avoid consequences for the first screw up, screwed up again. There's really no good spin you can put on this. Or...is there?
Al-Farouq's escape 'staged': Ex-BIN chief
A.M. Hendropriyono, former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) director (and responsible for al-Farouq's transfer to U.S. custody), told The Jakarta Post on Friday that he had strong grounds to suspect a hidden agenda behind the escape of al-Farouq.
"Following his escape, al-Farouq appeared in an interview with an Arabian TV station brandishing an automatic rifle. It is impossible that a terrorist group would trust and give him a gun after three years in U.S. detention. It is possible that he was prepared by his users to conduct a special mission.
"Second, it is quite strange that Washington remained silent about al-Farouq's escape. It can be assumed that U.S. security authorities were informed of his escape from the prison in July, but until now, President George W. Bush has not explained it, at least not to the American public," he said.
Asked about the public outrage toward him for handing al-Farouq over to the U.S. three years ago, Hendropriyono said the Indonesian authorities had no legal basis to charge him for terrorism because the country had not enacted an applicable law.
Oh, I see. It was all part of our secret plan all along. Hands up everybody who is convinced.
Permalink : That international terrorism thing
Fri 18 November 2005
Reading in the dark
For the last time, reading in dim light does NOT give you myopia. At least, if the NIH can be believed: There is no way to prevent nearsightedness. Reading and watching television do not cause nearsightedness.
Now, some evidence suggests that maybe lots of close-up work (which includes almost all activities of modern humans, except driving) might increase incidence of myopia, and there is some evidence that young children who sleep in rooms that are too brightly lit might have an increased tendency toward myopia, but these are both kind of inconclusive and may not be true at all.
But you know, being told I'll "ruin my eyes" by reading in light that is too dim for the person TELLING me that to read comfortably has been one of my pet peeves for ages. Look, (fill in name of older relative here), if it's too dark for you to see, go ahead and turn on a light. I won't stop you. I won't even mind. But if it were too dark for me to read comfortably, I would already have turned on the light.
It's particularly strange when it's somebody I don't even know. I was sitting in the Co-op's cafe reading. I had been there a while, taking advantage of free refills on coffee. This old guy came up just to say "you'll ruin your eyes doing that." I was confused -- I thought he meant reading a book and wondered what the heck he was talking about. So I gave him a puzzled look. Then he started babbling about lumens, and I realized what he meant. I said that I hadn't noticed any eye fatigue. He said, "you're ruining your eyes even if you don't notice. It's like truckers falling asleep -- they don't think they're tired until their eyes start to close." I said, "I'll take it under advisement,"
meaning, "what are you anyway, a retired optometrist?" He left. I looked around, and wondered how bad your eyes had to be to think that the present light level was too dim to read in.
So, for the last time. I can see just fine. The fact that you can't is not my problem. I'm sorry your eyes are deteriorating with age, but then, so are mine. I get a lot of eye fatigue using computers. But you know, they're my eyes. I know when they're tired. Really.
Permalink : Reading in the dark
Fri 18 November 2005
Fun with Google
Sure, I'll play along. Bill O'Reilly is possibly a terrorist sympathizer. This conclusion is based on the words out of his own mouth on his November 8 show, as follows:
Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead.
And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
B.O. was critical of a ballot measure, passed by 60 percent of San Francisco voters, which strongly encourages public high schools and colleges to prohibit on-campus military recruiting. Now, local SF officials are already taking him to task, including San Francisco firefighters union president John Hanley:
"Who is this guy, O'Reilly?" said Hanley, who identified himself as both a third-generation San Franciscan and military veteran. "I've got guys fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm a veteran myself. What's he talking about?"
Coit Tower is a memorial to firefighters. Note to B.O.: Don't diss the firefighters These are the people who might save your life someday.
Anyway, as irresponsible and amoral as B.O.'s comments are, perhaps he is correct in his defense of them as merely, "What I said isnít controversial. What I said needed to be said." Wait a minute. I was expecting him to defend his comments as merely over-the-top rhetoric, and instead he's acting like they're not over-the-top at all. Let's try again with this pathetic justification from a couple of days later:
And then I went on to do a satirical riff with a serious point. Why should the USA protect San Francisco from terrorists if they in the city are trying to undermine the military? We posted the entire monologue on billoreilly.com.
Predictably, some far-left Internet smear sites have launched a campaign to get me fired over my point of view. I believe they do this on a daily basis. This time, the theme is O'Reilly is encouraging terrorist attacks. Unbelievably stupid, but not unusual for these guttersnipes.
Phew, that's better. It was just a satirical riff. He doesn't really want terrorists to blow up American cities. And you're a guttersnipe if you say so!
All right, B.O., I'll believe you that you don't really, actually, literally want to encourage terrorists to attack America. And I'll accept that you aren't, deep down, really, truly, a terrorist sympathizer. But you are still a bully, a blowhard, a hypocrite, a coward, a liar, and generally speaking a person of low moral character.
Permalink : Fun with Google
Fri 18 November 2005
Coffee good. Cola bad.
Coffee good. Cola bad.
At least, if you're female. And a nurse.
These conclusions come from data on 155,594 mostly white female nurses (average age 55) who took part in two long-running health studies. They were questioned periodically about their diets and health over 12 years. About 33,000 were diagnosed with high blood pressure. Women who drank more than three daily cups of coffee (regular or decaf) were about 7 percent to 12 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than women who drank little or no coffee.
However. Those who drank at least four cans of sugared cola drinks daily were 28 percent to 44 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure than women who drank few or none. Diet sodas increased the risk, but slightly less.
Now, this is one of those "good news for coffee drinkers" studies that appears periodically. It's happened enough, over a long enough time, that I think we can conclude that coffee, in the main, is good for you.
Yet the reporters writing up these studies always seem curiously reluctant to come to that conclusion. Look at the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of the PI article I reference:
But for some reason, women in the same study who drank colas did seem to have a greater risk of high blood pressure.
Researchers were surprised at that and cautioned that the study wasn't conclusive. Caffeine is in both beverages and has been shown to cause short-term increases in blood pressure. But coffee drinkers in the study were no more likely than abstainers to develop high blood pressure during 12 years of follow-up.
The headline is that coffee is "safe" -- but if you look at the actual data, it's more than that. Coffee isn't just safe, it's protective. You are LESS likely to develop high blood pressure, not the same likely. And note the "surprise" and "caution" advised when it reports that cola appears to be bad for you.
The second part of that surprised me a bit -- since I had always assumed that the media reluctance to talk about health benefits of coffee stemmed from a nannyish attitude that coffee was a "vice" and therefore couldn't possibly be good for you really, so this study, it must be, some kind of anomaly. But the reluctance to condemn colas -- which I would have thought were seen as a "vice" in much the same way as coffee -- makes me think maybe something else is going on here.
Maybe the mainstream media is completely in thrall to the Sugar Barons.
Or maybe it's just the Seattle PI, come to think of it, since if you type "Wolfgang Winkelmayer" (lead author of the study. That's his real name. Cool, huh?) and "coffee" into Google news and look for all related stories, some of the headlines are a little more aggressively pro-coffee.
So. Yay coffee. And now I'm off to drink some.
Permalink : Coffee good. Cola bad.
Fri 18 November 2005
I was going to post this zeitgeist on Friday but there were problems with Blogger. So here it is, a little stale:
What is wrong with people, anyway? Rioters set fire to hundreds of vehicles in an eighth night of unrest in the impoverished suburbs of northeastern Paris .
Awww...okay, now, the cutest news story in weeks, male mice sing to prospective mates. Their real songs are outside the range of human hearing, but if you slow a recording down, the singing mice sound like this. A lot like birds, in fact.
From the Internet Movie Database: MSNBC talkshow host Keith Olbermann claimed he had been chastised by a company vice president two years ago for interviewing two liberal entertainers, Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken on consecutive nights. The IMDB mentions this incident as a follow-up to canceling Phil Donahue's talkshow in February 2003 -- Donahue claims it was because "we were the only antiwar voice that had a show, and that, I think, made them very nervous. I mean, from the top down, they were just terrified. We had to have two conservatives on for every liberal. I was counted as two liberals." Press releases at the time claimed "low ratings" were the reason, and the show certainly did have very low ratings...in August 2002. However, the ratings had been climbing dramatically during the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq when it was the only politically liberal show on television, so that at the time it was canceled it was actually MSNBC's top rated show.
Yes, a moderate majority now seem to recognize that Bush is an incompetent liar, and yes, I'm doing a little jig. But how does that help me now? You guys couldn't have noticed this obvious fact a year ago?
Permalink : Zeitgeist 051110
Fri 18 November 2005
Blogger is dead. Long live Blogger.
Actually, I don't know if Blogger is dead, but the last several times I have tried to update the old parlour, it has displayed the title of my would-be post, but nought else. There may be a simple fix to this, but, frankly, I don't want to waste time puzzling it out. The reason I was using Blogger at all was "ease of use." So, the instant I have to put any work into it, I might as well start directing that work toward my own little custom blog software project.
Why write custom blog software? Because I'm a control freak, that's why. If you have any pressing thoughts, such as preferring the dark text/light background, or wondering if you can still leave comments, send 'em here.
Permalink : Blogger is dead. Long live Blogger.