Archive for September, 2004

Swarbrick roundup

September 30th, 2004 by Reinder

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:


Angel Delight/Babbacombe Lee/Rosie

September 30th, 2004 by Reinder

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.


I buy far too many CDs!

September 30th, 2004 by Reinder

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.


Holsclaw to Republicans: police yourselves

September 30th, 2004 by Reinder

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.

Neelie Who?

September 29th, 2004 by Reinder

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 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? 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!

Mary Sue Test

September 29th, 2004 by Reinder

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 *):



September 28th, 2004 by Reinder

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.

The New York Times should do this

September 28th, 2004 by Reinder

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.

Stillborn puppy

September 28th, 2004 by cmkaapjes

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


Heads up # 2: Disaster has struck

September 27th, 2004 by Reinder

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.