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Eric: Dogs form a good flying wedge.

Weirdly enough, I seem to be on vacation.

This rarely happens. Even when I'm on vacation, I'm not on vacation, you know? I stress about Websnark, and Gossamer Commons, and John Stark. I worry about work and about friends and about she who is across the sea. I fret. It's really quite cute.

I'm sleeping in the basement. My bed from the old house growing up is down here, and it makes sense since I'm the night owl of the family, which means I'm up watching television, writing and doing stuff much later than everyone else around here. I've got the cat with me, even though there are many dogs in this house right now. See, my parents have two dogs. My sister has a third, and said third dog is staying with my parents as my sister is out and about. As the token family cat owner, we've had to make special arrangements to make sure my seven pound cat doesn't abuse the twenty-five to thirty pound dogs.

Anyway, about five minutes ago, I went upstairs to make a cup of tea. There is, as you can imagine, a lot of tea in this house.

I opened the door. It was dark. The folks were abed already.

And then, I heard the sound of thunder. Hoofbeats. The stampede of doom. And three -- count them three -- meteors shaped like dogs came tearing down the stairs and flew at me like barghasts. They didn't bark, mind. But they were in full on hunting pack mode, ready to kill the interloper.

And all three of them stopped when they saw me. Two wagged. The third attempted to convince me it was time to feed her.

"Guys," I said. "I'm just getting a cup of tea."

The dogs looked properly chagrined. Except the one who was trying to convince me to feed her.

So. I got them biscuits and sent them on their way. It occurs to me the next time I have to go up there to go to the bathroom, I've guaranteed another thunderous assault, since I positively reinforced it with biscuits. It also occurs to me I don't care.

My cat, meanwhile, loves having the extra room to wander around. And loves sitting just out of dog reach, taunting them with her very existence. One dog -- Teddy -- clearly adores her, and wants to play with her all the time. I swear to God it's like watching Percy and Pooch in Sinfest -- Sarah stares at him with disdain and barely concealed joy at play, and Teddy fairly prances all around her doing the happy puppy dance.

Sadly, Teddy thinks playing should involve barking and chasing and possibly eating her. So he gets admonished a lot. Which seems to make Sarah even more amused. They also like to play a lunging game on opposite sides of a door that's been cracked open. It's open wide enough so Sarah can retreat to the basement (which is also where her litter and food are) but not wide enough so the dogs can follow (and get into the food and litter). So, Sarah sits on the top stair beyond the door, and Teddy sits crouched next to the door. Sarah swats at him through the door, and he dodges and lunges and she ducks back. Neither one is trying to actually hit the other (Sarah's claws aren't out, and Teddy's mouth isn't open). It's a game.

Now, it might occur to you that you don't care. And that's fair.

But then, neither do I. I'm on vacation.

I need more tea. And to go to the bathroom.

Off to tempt the assault.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at November 25, 2005 11:52 PM

Comments

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at November 26, 2005 12:09 AM

I pray for your safety. Three dogs in attack mode is a terrifying thing.

Comment from: Tangent posted at November 26, 2005 12:38 AM

I don't know. I think it's rather cute. :)

Though you definitely have an advantage with Websnark. You can update about family-life and call it an update. *grin* Me, I promised webcomic reviews. Daily. (Well, now MWF...) *shudder* And it's not coming... gah! *sob*

Oh well. Just a day in the life of a reviewer...

Comment from: Cornan posted at November 26, 2005 12:53 AM

My parents got a puppy when Grandma moved in with them about a year and a half ago. By this I mean that Grandma had a puppy, so Mom and Dad were going to get one whether they wanted one or not.

Now I can't imagine the family without her. My Mom hates pets in general because they are less easily trained than people and she happens to be something of a neat freak. I never had pets growing up (except for a dog that we had for less than a year, that's a whole story in itself)and to have this dog around feels strange but good. Now I want a pet myself. Too bad I live in an apartment.

So I guess the point of all this is: Eric, I think I know a bit how you feel.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at November 26, 2005 2:37 AM

You gave the dogs tasty, tasty biscuits?

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 26, 2005 4:41 AM

No. No, that's... no. No. No no no no no no no. No thunderous assault.

I am crying for you. This is why you are not online; it couldn't possibly be because you are, quite sensibly for the hour, asleep. It is because of thunderous dog assault. There were no biscuits, so they ...

They...

I will take care of the place. I will make it all streamlined and go through the old entries and make them XHTML 1.0 Strict compliant and write a beautiful stylesheet. Then I will put up tacky pictures of pixelated, animated candles. It is the least that I can do.

(Wednesday White: scared of dogs since 1975.)

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides posted at November 26, 2005 5:28 AM

:-(

Comment from: elvedril posted at November 26, 2005 5:44 AM

My parents have a dog and a cat. The cat has the dog trained despite being a fraction of the size. He can come up and pull food out of the dog's bowl while she's eating from it. Dog keeps wanting to play and herd the cat, which the cat usually tolerates. But if the cat gets annoyed he just hisses and the dog backs off. It's really interesting to watch.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 26, 2005 7:35 AM

Me, I promised webcomic reviews. Daily. (Well, now MWF...) *shudder* And it's not coming... gah! *sob*

No one sets your mandate but yourself. No one else exists to hold you accountable, unless you're under a lucrative contract that no one has told us about. If it doesn't come, but something else will, maybe the something else is more important right now.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at November 26, 2005 10:50 AM

No one sets your mandate but yourself. No one else exists to hold you accountable

This is so true, but it also feels good to keep a promise, even to yourself.

Comment from: Zutto posted at November 26, 2005 12:43 PM

I know what you mean, Paul. If a person opts to update regularly or make creative output that is well-received by others, it's a choice. Not less or more legitimate than choosing to do it without regard for others. Both are viable choices in the context of doing "what one wants" with a thing.
And knowing that yes, you can hold yourself accountable to regular, good updates is a good feeling indeed.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 26, 2005 12:59 PM

Yeah, I'm not denying that.

I also think that, at the point where you're sweating webcomic bullets and sobbing, there's probably nothing wrong with writing about something else.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 26, 2005 1:08 PM

To elaborate:

On any given day, nothing remarkable is necessarily going to happen in your personal sphere. Or perhaps the remarkable things don't affect you, or don't engender any particular passion. Maybe we're really close to burnout and nothing is impressing us.

Since most of us aren't in a position of being able to queue up the cute kitten photograph stories and the puff pieces so that we've got filler when nothing hits us, we work with what we can. Different people have different approaches to this; topic shifts aren't so different from sudden character design jumps or panel format switches or whatever.

Robert already has a sufficiently flexible mandate to accomodate fan fiction and someone else's film reviews. His purpoted monofocus is clearly causing him some distress, with one thing or another. Promises to yourself are great, but you've also got to know your limits and work within them.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 26, 2005 1:32 PM

The thunderous assault did not actually come until the next morning, when they were shocked -- shocked -- to discover I hadn't snuck out of the house in the middle of the night. Said assault was lick-oriented, however.

Well, for two of the dogs. The third was hoping I'd feed her.

Comment from: Tangent posted at November 26, 2005 1:56 PM

As the others above me have stated, it feels good to keep the promise. Even if only for myself. But also because I like to keep my promises. I may be late at times, I might get updates up for the fanfic a week later, I might occasionally miss a Sunday Meta-review... but I did promise to update. If I don't keep that promise... what sort of person am I? And why would people want to continue reading?

Sure, I've not begged for a new computer or money or anything else like that... but this is more important than those things. Websnark, Tangents, the blog-review sites... they exist on the cusp, on the forefront of something new and great. We've professional cartoonists like the Foglios moving over to the web. We've the Brudlos bros. setting up their graphic novel on-line first, trying to raise the bar in terms of storytelling and artistic skill. We've award ceremonies, here on Websnark and over on other sites. We've even Dark Horse Comics putting up comics on-line, knowing that this is the future of comics, especially those comics that seem possibly on the margins.

The wave is building. And we critics are an important part of this. Maybe it's egotism on my behalf... but I want to be a part of this. I like to think my ideas, my thoughts could be significant.

Indeed, they are. I post (for me) harsh criticism, and find the cartoonist downcast because of it. Because of my words. I put up a rant from my associate... and it causes the cartoonist to recoil, while his fanbase swarms like angry hornets. My little site. I mean, I'm barely a blip on the radar. Yet I can influence comics with these words. And if I can influence the webcomic word with my words, as insignificant as they are... imagine what Websnark does. Imagine what Comixpedia does.

It's scary to think our words have power. But in a way, it's to be expected. This is a medium of words, even more than images. Yes, a web-comic can be told through images alone. I remember in the dead-paper comic "A Distant Soil"... the very first issue had the most beautiful side-story in it, of a girl getting a gift for her love, before he left on a trip... this story was told without words, only images. But this is the exception, not the rule.

Words have power. And yes... my promise is but words... but those words also hold power. Thus when I see myself failing in this promise... it bothers me. Especially as I know if I just tried harder, if I stopped letting myself get distracted, if I just focused... I'd get the reviews written, the stories finished.

Meh. I've blathered on enough. Take care...

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews
http://www.tangents.us

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 26, 2005 2:41 PM

All words have power.

That's the secret.

All words have power.

It's up to us to use them in powerful ways.

What does that mean? It means if you don't have a review in you, coming up with one that you don't really feel won't support what you're doing, because your words will lack that power.

It's hard to accept that. It's hard to believe it. Because you want to think that if you just get the words out there, that will make the difference.

But that's not where the power is. The power comes from writing what you feel passionate about, when you feel passionate. When your brain gets fired up and you see something that excites you or pisses you off.

Writing those words because you need to get those words written? Comes across as perfunctory.

It is very rare that the world is changed by perfunctory words.

Comment from: kirabug posted at November 26, 2005 3:06 PM

Puppies!!

I've lived a total of six of my 29 years without a dog in my home - and four of those were college. I can't deal with a totally empty house. My friends are all talking about having childen; I'm discussing buying a litter. One of my friends fosters greyhounds and when I go to her house I'm in heaven - five or six big skinny dogs all giving kisses at once!

Alas, JessieDog is quite old and doesn't have patience for the little ones right now, so I have to smother her with all my love while I can. (After that, probably puppies.)

Wednesday, perhaps you'd need to start with the short models and work your way up? My mini-mutt is more likely to snooze on you than chew on you :)

Comment from: quiller posted at November 26, 2005 3:34 PM

Hmm, speaking of developments in Webcomics, I'm surprised I haven't heard much about the webcomic Van Von Hunter being picked up by a syndicate. (Apparently since "manga" is in with the young crowd, the syndicates need to put it on their comics pages to attract young readers)

I think one's liking for dogs depends a great deal on one's tolerance for dog saliva.

Comment from: Tangent posted at November 26, 2005 3:36 PM

I know, Eric. I know.

That's why I write reviews for the strips that catch my attention, grab my lapels and shake me, shouting "You Must Review Me!"

It's why strips like Questionable Content, CRFH, Anywhere But Here, and Narbonic have gotten so many tangents out of me. There are times when I ignore that urge to review a comic, because I've talked it to death, despite the urge that insists "there's something new to talk about, a new angle to explore!"

It's why yesterday's review ended up not being on Narbonic, despite the glimmering of a review back there... because the sparks didn't ignite, they just smoldered and didn't do anything. (And I like to think that yesterday's review actually was halfway decent, as partway through writing it suddenly those sparks burst into flame. *chuckle*)

I probably would be better off if I wrote some reviews in advance. I've had times when three or four comics all caught my attention and all shouted "Review me! Review me! You know you want to..." (and indeed, in the early days I would. Now, however, time constraints keep me from doing that.) The problem is... I like being current. I mean, I get an itch when reviewing something that's a couple days old. Heck, when I first reviewed Count Your Sheep, I hadn't realized I caught Friday's strip on a Sunday. *chuckle* It was still enough though for me to work from, the fires were still hot.

I suppose that's also the reason I went to a MWF schedule (besides time). There's less out there to review on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the weekends.

Well, time is dragging me away from the computer again, so take care and have a good weekend, gang. :)

Rob H.

Comment from: Zutto posted at November 26, 2005 3:45 PM

"I also think that, at the point where you're sweating webcomic bullets and sobbing, there's probably nothing wrong with writing about something else."

Totally, Weds. I didn't mean to say something out of context -- I only meant that as a webcomic artist, there are definitely days that I don't want to bring myself to draw that one character I hate to render. Certainly it's different to be a writer of criticism if one's output depends on others' recent works.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at November 26, 2005 3:46 PM

On any given day, nothing remarkable is necessarily going to happen in your personal sphere. Or perhaps the remarkable things don't affect you, or don't engender any particular passion. Maybe we're really close to burnout and nothing is impressing us.

That is so true. If the twenty-plus year history of my daily cartoons previous to my present project is any indication, there shall be periods of burnout during the twenty-five year life of this project. When the time comes, I shall have to decide whether the project is best served by reruns or sketches or hiatuses. Hiati. Fallow times.

Comment from: Zutto posted at November 26, 2005 3:54 PM

Hiatae?

Comment from: Bo Lindbergh posted at November 26, 2005 6:18 PM

"hiatuses"

(And the adjective is "hiatal", but nobody ever uses that in this context.)

Comment from: gwalla posted at November 26, 2005 7:11 PM

On the subject of the power of words, I once read an interesting piece on why people raised to believe in freedom of speech support censorship. The main thrust of the argument was that people learn from an early age things like "they're only words" and "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me". But words do have the power to hurt, so when they do, people feel that they aren't just words. They may be for free speech in the abstract, but when speech seems dangerous, it "isn't really censorship" because it must be more than speech.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 27, 2005 1:47 AM

"It is very rare that the world is changed by perfunctory words."

Well, unless you're talkin' about the ones that cause wars. Those words, they tend to shake things up a bit. Granted, not in a good way... but hey, can't have everything.

As for the dogs and their mighty thunderous assault? Well, hmm.

1) Love dogs, even the slobbery ones (although I may not let them slobber ON me, given a choice. yuck!). I own cats, and love them, but once in a while, I need dog therapy. Someone saying "you are the coolest person who ever lived" without saying anything is so.. amazing.

2) Have had my own experience with midnight heart-in-the-throat moments before Khan recognized me. Whew. In my case it was a Shih Tzu, but damn if (I was 10?) he didn't have a gigantic bark in the pitch black house with all the world asleep. Of course, when I spoke his name, he was all licks and loves and "oh, it's you! You didn't leave the light on for yourself, you startled me, I'm sorry for barking!" and so on, but that first 3 1/2 seconds were quite possibly the longest in my life.

Comment from: Paul A. posted at November 27, 2005 3:00 AM

When the time comes, I shall have to decide whether the project is best served by reruns or sketches or hiatuses. Hiati.

I voted for "Haiti". If there's one thing that could make AKoTaS better, it's zombies.

Comment from: miyaa posted at November 27, 2005 3:26 AM

The only thing worse than being attacked by three dogs is being pounced on by five cats and being told in no uncertain terms that your purpose here while at Grandma's house is to be their electric blanket and heater. And siamese cats are bitches.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 7:33 AM

Dogs are terrifying. It doesn't matter if they're small or inoffensive dogs, or relatively quiet dogs for dogs.

Dogs have inappropriate boundaries. Their worshipful state resembles that of the halfwit sycophant. They have no sense of propriety. They salivate. They don't use the litterbox. They are pungent. When they go downstairs and get you a potato on hearing the word "potato", that's considered smart. They have no attention span not because they suffer from an abundance of data, but a capacity deficit.

And none of them seem to understand "I am backing into a corner and I am terrified of you, so go away." I figure, if I want some dim, odorous creature with no ability to contain saliva to attempt to ram its nose between my legs, there's bound to be someone advertising their services in the back of the local alternative weekly paper.

Cats, I understand. I might not want what I can deliberately construe as their affection at any given time, but at least they give the impression of discrimination.

Comment from: elvedril posted at November 27, 2005 7:34 AM

kirabug,
is your dog by chance a jack-russell terrier? My best friend in high school had one of those. Sweet dog.

Comment from: kirabug posted at November 27, 2005 3:32 PM

Elvedril,

We think she's a Jack Russel. She's an SPCA dog, no tags, no collar, no birth certificate, and much of her life prior to us is mystery. She's currently snoozing with her nose under my knee. She'd say thank you for the compliment if she was awake. :)

Wednesday,

Dogs, fortunately or unfortunately, have the social graces of a toddler. If someone's two year old was cornering me (very possible, coincidentally, I'm not very good with kids), I'd expect their parents to reign them in. I firmly believe people should be expected to do that with their dogs as well. I always feel bad when I find out it hasn't been that way for everyone.

But cats? Stand on the counter and shed in my food. If I want to pet them they want nothing to do with me, but if I'm dressed nicely and don't want to wear them home they're all over me. And the part that's baffled me since i was small - they wag their tails and then when you pet them, they bite you!

I took French in high school, and then in college tried to take Spanish, but dropped the class. Every time I was asked a question in Spanish I answered in French. It's like that with me and cats - I speak Dog, and the accent for Cat keeps throwing me. I worship cats from afar - they're fun to pet at friends' houses - but I don't think I could have one in my house.

Comment from: kirabug posted at November 27, 2005 3:32 PM

(And the adjective is "hiatal", but nobody ever uses that in this context.)

On the other hand, a hernia's a perfectly good reason to take a hiatus from a comic.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 27, 2005 3:51 PM

A cat who's wagging his or her tail is not happy. It's pissed off. This is one reason why dogs and cats don't grok each other at all. Dogs think angry cats are happy (and submissive). Cats think happy (and submissive) dogs are aggressive and pissed off.

Also, cats stare into the eyes of someone or something they're affectionate to. For dogs, it's a dominance test.

Comment from: Denyer posted at November 27, 2005 5:07 PM

cats? Stand on the counter and shed in my food. If I want to pet them they want nothing to do with me, but if I'm dressed nicely and don't want to wear them home they're all over me.

Cats interpret narrowed pupils as a sign of interest... or so I'm told, anyway.

Dogs, fortunately or unfortunately, have the social graces of a toddler.

Some of 'em. Dogs do come in intelligent varieties, though they still polarise between "shower with attention", "cower from" and "defend against". Not met any just plain disinterested dogs.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at November 27, 2005 5:42 PM

I've known plenty of cats for whom tail-wagging was an indicator that it's time to play. (Of course, this is more like "practice mauling" for most cats, but still.) The only tail-wagging I've ever seen from an angry cat was abrupt twitching, almost like a tic.

Comment from: miyaa posted at November 27, 2005 6:28 PM

Speaking of cat indicators, what's the deal with them clawing and grasping at the very thing they are going to sleep on before they go to sleep? And why do they really love you if you're allergic to them?

(And if you're wondering why if I'm allergic to cat hair do I still have cats, it's because it's better than the alternative: hamsters.)

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 27, 2005 7:20 PM

The kneading they do with their paws, particularly just before sleep, is generally considered to be a remnant from when they kneaded mom's teats for more milk as kittens. Having raised hand-fed our two little foundlings this summer has reinforced this belief for me; Scratch never stopped kneading with her paws when seeking comfort, while Sniff, always the better adjusted of the two, only rarely does so.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at November 27, 2005 7:41 PM

Tit-kneading's not a sign of welladjustment?

I'm in the wrong business.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at November 27, 2005 8:51 PM

Must not make ... homophonic joke ...

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at November 27, 2005 10:45 PM

It's also worth noting that cats can scent-mark with their paws, too, which is another reason why they might knead and/or scratch some particular spot.

Comment from: larksilver posted at November 28, 2005 12:16 PM

Oh, aye, I'd forgotten about that, Ray.

Granted, my little foundlings are still Menace Kittens: Scourge of All Things Breakable, but hey, maybe they're not quite as screwed up as I feared, having me for a momma instead of, y'know, a cat.

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