Archive for May, 2006

Missing ROCR episode restored

May 31st, 2006 by Reinder

While working on the Guðrún remasters today, I discovered that an episode was missing from the existing archive. It must have been missing for a long time, because it wasn't on the Modern Tales archives either - this means it was probably lost in the move to Modern Tales in 2002. Fortunately, I found it on my hard drive so I could restore it to its proper place in the current archives. It's the comic for December 12, 2000, and the chapter it's part of runs just a bit more smoothly with it included.

Who knows what other errors lurk undiscovered in those vast archives? One shudders to think.

Resting the muscles

May 31st, 2006 by Reinder

Today marks the start of a week off from running. It just so happens that next weekend is the pentecostal holidays which mean that neither the club nor the Loopschool Groningen are giving any trainings, but I also need to take some time out. I feel like I have plateaued, although if I think about it rationally, I probably haven't. I'm keeping up with the best runners among the crowd that joined at the same time as I did, and I can tell from doing the strength exercises week after week that I'm getting stronger, but it doesn't feel as well as it should. Also, several muscles in my leg are sore and a bit stiff. A week off will make them very happy. So, anyone for a beer this weekend?
It is natural for this sort of plateauing to happen. I expect that by next Wednesday I'll be chomping at the bit again. Actually, I'll probably get a bit twitchy by Monday, but part of the discipline of doing any sport is making yourself stick with the plan. Time out is what I've prescribed for myself, so time out is what I'll have.

Made in Japan… sort of

May 30th, 2006 by Reinder

I'm no Dream Theater fan, no matter how often they show up in recommendations lists based on "People who like the stuff you like also like...". I can't get into them; for all their musical virtuosity, their sound leaves me cold. But given better material to play, they can be rather good:

(Can't see the video?)

If they released the full set as an album I just might buy it. (Via)

Courtly Manners now free

May 29th, 2006 by Reinder

I had originally intended to wait until all the other Chronicles of the Witch Queen comics were done, but what with the delays and the slow schedule the next two stories will eventually be serialised at (real soon now, my pretties), that would take forever. So I made the changes today: Courtly Manners and Courtly Manners 2: The Unicorn Race are now free for everyone to read. These were the last of my comics that were behind a subscription wall, so I can now write off the subscription model as something that, on the whole, hasn't worked for me.
Now all I need to do is restore the epic poetry they used to come with...


A quick reminder of why there are no comments on the blog

May 29th, 2006 by Reinder

What Tom Coates describes here also happened to me when I upgraded to Movable Type 3.14 late in 2004.

When they try and login, the server basically falls over completely. A forced restart, and I hold my breath a little. When it comes back, they dig into the logs and it becomes immediately obvious to them what's going on. Hundreds – thousands – of requests every minute for a file called mt-comments.cgi – the part of Movable Type that deals with incoming comments to my weblog. My entire site has been quite directly, and clearly spammed to death.

Every once in a while I consider bringing back comments on Waffle, possibly after upgrading to a newer version of Movable Type. Then I think "Naaah." I didn't get too many anyway, and restoring the feature would require quite a lot of work up-front and also bring along with it an ongoing responsibility to maintain it - keeping it functional and spam-free. Life's too short.

WillowCMS, on which the comic's archive runs, has comments, and seems to be holding up well under the onslaught of spamming attempts. But should it buckle under, I don't think I would wait very long to cut my losses and switch off comments.

Playlist politics

May 29th, 2006 by Reinder

I have a problem.

My MP3 playlist contains both Beatles and Stones songs. It contains a large amount of classic rock, signifying cool to the Baby Boomer generation, but also a decent selection of more recent material - enough 1980s pop to warm the cockles of the hearts of those in my own generation as well as the post-ironic hipsters whose favourite bands now all steal from that stuff. There's a shout-out to racial diversity in the form of music made by such unmistakeably black people as Solomon Burke and Bettye Lavette, and a socially-conscious chord is struck with the prominent inclusion of the latest Neil Young album. My Last.FM graphs show a nearly perfect power distribution, indicating that I have both strong preferences, signifying an ability to make clear, decisive choices, and wide-ranging tastes as evidenced by the length of that long, long tail, signalling a mind that's open to new ideas. Deep in the bowels of that long tail are indy rock acts such as the Flaming Lips, who you have to like to have any credibility whatsoever. Speaking of flaming, Queen, Rufus Wainwright and, to a lesser extent, Kate Bush, are included to capture the all-important gay demographic. Even the token amount of classical music in there, itself a transparant ploy to hint to cultural traditionalists that I am more refined and serious than I let on, is carefully massaged to create an impression of balance: work by the unescapably brilliant but politically incorrect Richard Wagner is off-set by the inclusion of a symphony by the Jewish-born composer Gustav Mahler.

In a sane world, this would not be a problem. People would recognise that my musical preferences are largely the result of my personal history, mixing in preferences I acquired as a teenager with whatever I came across in adulthood. But we don't live in a sane world, we live in a world where a person's iPod playlist is something people like Jacob Weinsberg write blitheringly stupid articles about. Next thing you know, some op-ed writer will pipe up saying I look fetching in a yellow pantsuit.

[Adam Cuerden:] Lost in Translation

May 28th, 2006 by Adam Cuerden

Arrgh. Why can't anyone ever seem to do a half-decent translation of anything set to music? Some examples:

Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Heard in performance in Edinburgh:

"You must forgive and forget;
I love you forever more!"

(Inevitably turning into, thanks to unthinking repetition into part of the music with different phrasing: You must forgive - and forget I love you forever more)

Arthur Sullivan's "Festival" Te Deum

"To Thee Seraphim and Cherumbim continually cry"

...To which I can only think "God must have a headache from all that continuous crying."

"When thou tookest upon Thee to deliver Man,
Thou didst not abhor the Virgin womb"

....Because everyone knows that most abhor virgin wombs. Most men, except perverts, only want sex with skanky hos.

Lots of bad translations in here, but I'll skip onwards for now.

"Oh come all ye faithful", Verse 2:

"God of Gods
Lord of Lords
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin womb
Very God!
Born but not begotten
Oh come let us adore him..."

...First off, the meter's all off. You have to slur almost every accented syllable over two or more notes. Secondly: "Very God"?!?!, "God of Gods"?! So there's other gods now?!?! Not abhoring virgin wombs again? and that awkward "Born but not begotten"?

J.S.Bach, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring":

"Thou shalt ever lead Thine own,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne"

What? So souls are Heavenly Moths, and God the Celestial Candle?

...Really, if you're going to translate, DO A DECENT JOB OF IT.

The Idiot’s Lantern

May 28th, 2006 by Reinder

"The Idiot's Lantern" didn't suck as much as I expected it would. In fact I found it rather entertaining. The idea of an alien intelligence taking over the world through a familiar object in every home, while not original, works. But... we've seen it before in the past two series, and this particular instance of it wasn't the best. I don't quite know why, to be honest. The script was mostly clever, allowing space for a subplot but keeping that secondary, just for once, to following our heroes as they got on with the job of saving the world. The subplot itself, with its social realism, was a bit pat, but not distractingly so, although the teenaged boy character's long monologue made me cringe a little. The 1950s setting looked good, the direction was strong and we finally got to see Rose acting like something other than a complete idiot again. Good to have you back, Rose, now let's not let that annoying emo pod-person take over your brain again. But something about it left me a bit meh.

Verdict: Good, but I get the feeling the creators are running out of new ideas.

Next week: Attack of the Chthulhus, God help me. I just might find something else to do next Saturday.

Damn! Pre-empted by Apple

May 26th, 2006 by Reinder

I'd been thinking about something along these lines, although I'd come to it from the opposite direction: rather than adapting music selection to your workout, I was considering adapting my workouts to my music selection. After all, the default running order on an album is often very formulaic: heavy metal, for example, albums typically start with a fast track (though long, slow keyboard intros are also common, but these are often developed into up-tempo tracks anyway) followed by fairly predictable tempo changes, with longer, slower pieces at the two-thirds point before picking up the pace again. A lot of my favorite metal LPs from the 1970s and 1980s are just under 40 minutes wrong, which is a good length for running if you play something else during your warming-up. It should be possible to design a "Running With Metal" type workout that allows you to exercise various aspects of running while also letting you listen to the record in the order the artists intended. Other genres would also work, though not necessarily for running.

But I like the way Apple wants to do this too. Let the iPod push me to my limits.

Work update

May 25th, 2006 by Reinder

I've applied for a day job. If I get it, it will mean a further slowdown of production on Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, but a massive improvement in living standards for me. Which I need, right now.
What it won't affect is the quality of the work. I've done some of my best comics while working full-time at a day job and spending two hours a day commuting, and some appalling work when I had nothing to do but write and draw ROCR.

The Guðrún remasters are now part of the Chronicles of the Witch Queen project. That means newly-remastered pages will first be shown on that site, instead of continuing from where I left off last time I tried to remaster Guðrún (the last remastered page was this one).

Chronicles of the Witch Queen will resume real soon now. Pages are uploaded and scheduled. Two storylines will run simultaneously: one on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; one on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Expect a full announcement, or rather a barrage of announcements, a day or so before the series start.

The new/old Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story King Groy is still being written. I haven't actually worked on it all week, but that's because I needed some time off from it so I could look at it afresh afterwards. Almost ready to continue, and if I don't get the day job, I'll start drawing it in the first week of June. I still won't commit to picking a date for the serialisation to start, though.

I'll be meeting with the editors at Hello You! on June 1. We'll discuss plans and concepts for the next season, so it would be good if I came up with some before then. Or at least decide on whether I'll be able to write another 10 episodes of Gang of 4. But I have felt that way every year since I started working for Hello You! and I've come up with the goods every time. Eventually.

The transcription effort plods along quite nicely, now at a rate of three or four a day. Over 1100 comics are now transcribed, and I've noticed that people are using the search functionality more. Most of the work is done by me, but that's OK. I'm grateful for every bit of assistance that I get.

Mithandir has added some updates to WillowCMS to cope with the ever-increasing flood of comment spam. These have reduced the problem to what it was a month ago, but I fear in the future more far-reaching measures will be needed. That's being worked on, simply because Mith needs content-based filtering on his own site, which is getting spammed by zombie networks. I've got a few spam-fighting ideas floating around in my head myself, based on my loose analysis of the spam that makes it through the existing filters, but at this point these ideas are pretty half-baked so I won't bother you with them.