Recently in Miercoles Mercredi Mittwoch Category

As most of you know, the "submitted without comment" posts I do are generally me uploading some reference to a strip where Websnark is referenced (directly or not) or Weds and I appear, or something like that. So it is with today.

The joke -- and I use the term as loosely as I possibly can -- is that I always comment extensively on those posts. Parenthetically.

Well, I'm commenting on this one, and I'm doing it directly. There is a full comic strip behind the cut at the bottom. (Why is there a cut? The strip is seventeen panels long. I don't hate everyone reading this.

Said comic strip has been produced by something of a supergroup of webcomics professionals. It's like Abba, that way. And it's also available -- for those who might be interested in sound and music and effects -- as a complete Quicktime MP4 file. An MP4 which, at the specific time this post automatically appears in queue, will be being presented at my Arisia panel "The Best Webcomics You're Not Reading."

A panel, it's worth noting, Wednesday is also at. This is important, which you will see momentarily.

As a side note, my thanks to the Arisia programming staff, and to fellow panelists Rob Balder of Partially Clips, Ferrett Steinmetz of Home on the Strange, and Kelly J. Cooper of Comixpedia, who helped set this whole kurfluffle up.

I also need to thank Ursula Vernon, Scott Kurtz, Greg Holkan, David Willis, Rich Burlew, Peter Venables, Josh Lesnick, Chris Crosby, Howard Tayler, Kristofer Straub, Frank "Damonk" Cormier, Brad Guigar, Darren "Gav" Bleuel, Jon Rosenberg, Shaenon Garrity, Meaghan Quinn, and the master of funk himself, Randy Milholland.

Also, my thanks to Bill Mallonee (formerly of Vigilantes of Love) for his permission to use his song on the MP4.

So. Behind the cut....

Submitted Without (Further) Comment.


GAH! Corrected Rich Burlew's entry! It is now on there.

Oh. By the by?

She said yes.

Fragmentary filler


We're not around today. I'm recovering from a minor medical procedure, and Eric's writing. In the meantime, here are two short items written to launch a side project of mine which never happened.

1: Hinterland Who's Who: The North American Bad Erotic Poem
Non-Canadians may wish to watch some context, but may recognize SCTV's take on the woodchuck.

The common bad erotic poem is written primarily for public performance, but also thrives in anthology environments. It often builds its habitat in the spaces between bad erotic short stories. A mature adult may take up from two and a half to three pages, although poems of one and a half pages are not uncommon.

In winter, the poem depends almost entirely upon body fat, which is stored in the broad margins of its page. By April, when new plant life reappears to be turned into paper, all that may be visible are the four to seven words occupied in each line.

Like the bad erotic short story, the poem veers precipitously from inappropriate simile to non-sequitur metaphor. Food motifs surface frequently. The use of terms like "rugged watermelons" or "windswept bananas" is not unusual. In extreme environments, references may be made to the preparation of vegetarian meals.

For more information on the bad erotic poem, contact the Canadian Wildlife Service in Ottawa.

2: The Flying Ants
From early September, by which time all of the bugs should have been dead. Today, it's so cold that the windows don't work, but even that's preferable.

The flying ants are out in swarm today.

From the horse farm to the train station, they form thick clouds anyplace there's space. Some, wings clipped, teeter up the road and down the block. Mostly, they zip about pointlessly. Some hill released too many, and the Queen of the Joneses found it necessary to compete.

The air is glutted. There is no purpose they could possibly serve, save to annoy. The afternoon is humid, overcast and drab, suffused with neither light nor pollen; it will not rain and wash the ants away. Over the train tracks, it's not unlike the end of Exorcist II; all we need is Linda Blair spinning on the very rails, one with the locust pretenders.

They have no sense of direction. Periodically, they fly into my face, my shirt, my hair; I chase one from my skin and there's yet another. When some of them fly into the remnant webs of dead spiders, I'm vaguely cheered to watch them struggle.

There is no purpose they could possibly serve, save to annoy.

For some reason, the flying ants don't flock to the necking children. Perhaps the thick layer of pastel makeup on one, or the strong bleach job on another, repels them. Perhaps taking up smoking at nine is wiser than we knew; they may die young, but they won't have clawed ants from their forelocks. God knows the pungence keeps the rest of us away; youth seldom demonstrates good taste in tobacco.

Perhaps swallowing one another's tongues forms a seal against the swarm. I can only guess.

Bloody hell, that's creepy.


Oh, man. No. No way.
(From Alien Loves Predator. Click to understand how I might be just a little messed up.)

It's not so much the execution, although I normally love AlP to death. Not that I was much on Alien, or on Predator, or on the whole bizarre conflation of those two concepts (why are they the same universe? No, wait, don't explain it to me, because I won't care!), but I'm enamoured with these two repulsive action figures sharing an apartment in a city full of other action figures. Also, as sitcom writing goes, it makes me very happy. Notwithstanding the Buddy Christ. I'm no fan of the Buddy Christ; that part's just been overdone.

But I digress. See, the thing is, Bernie Hou just invoked ELIZA.

As Eliza Dushku.

Okay. Understand, I can cope with the idea of an ELIZA implementation who's sexualized outside of the therapeutic environment -- if you're over 21, go find Sexy Losers strip number 200 and consider ARPA-01, or consider this panel out of context
-- but, for no apparent reason, I hadn't connected the face of Hypersexualized Vampire Slayer Faith with my childhood babysitter.


See, I'm second-generation computer geek. One of my very first memories is of my dad taking me down to his academic workplace, and sitting me down in front of a greenscreen Tektronix terminal in the lab. It was 1979, maybe 1980; I was four. He passed me the phone receiver and dialed a campus number; the phone started squealing. Then he took the receiver, and put it down onto this strange little machine with cups in it.

The terminal, he said, was talking to a big computer down the block in the engineering deparment.

Slowly, the greenscreen terminal started responding. Apparently he was right.

There's not a lot for a four-year-old to do with a mainframe in 1979, or even 1980. So he pulled up ELIZA for me to talk to. I wasn't sure why she wanted to know so much about my mother, but we kept up something of a conversation. A four-year-old can't have much of a conversation with a program from 1966, but, then again, neither can that program have much of a conversation.

I dimly rememeber being frustrated by the limited topic scope, though. My dad would later mess with the code enough to have ELIZA bring up topics more relevant to my personal life (Barbie dolls, for example), but it was never quite the same. Not that I didn't spend entire weekend afternoons or after-kindergarten stretches talking to ELIZA, or that I didn't miss her as I moved on to the WICAT in the other room and such.

Anyhow, the image I always had of ELIZA-the-person was of some austere daycare manager. A bad beehive or perm; perhaps aviator glasses and schoolmarmish garb. Not...

Not Eliza Dushku with the biouxbies falling out, willy-nilly, all religiously devout sex and silver lame trousers. No. No, I'm vaguely creeped out in that way one is creeped out when one's primary caretakers are characterized as possibly being inclined towards private activities now. But that's my problem.

Then again, I was never the sort to develop crushes on my real-life babysitters to begin with. They were cute, and had nice chests, but they didn't know the first thing about computers. Who wants that in a relationship?

Scenes from the headache weekend


Friday begat the headache, a piercing, screaming thing birthed from the caverns of Video Room One.

Ayacon was showing He Is My Master, a Gainax anime which should have been the Evangelion of maid-fetish shows. Two young girls -- thirteen and fourteen, barely more than little children -- run away from home and end up on the estate of an equally tiny orphan boy. At first charming and sweet, the boy hires the two girls on as maids. It turns out that the boy views his parents' tragic death as an opportunity to act out reprehensibly, and so begins to demonstrate an alarmingly lecherous streak. It does not help that the girls carry with them an alligator who exists mainly to jump the fourteen-year-old girl and tear at her clothes. "Oh, that's Pochi," says the younger girl. "He gets like that whenever he sees her."

This show is meant to be a comedy. I had hoped for subversion -- the self-insertion target is selfish and slavering? Bring it on! -- but no such luck. Gainax had used up all of their year's mojo on Re:Cutie Honey, leaving us to simply feel unclean.

At roughly the third screech, the four-day headache began. An ill-advised attempt to drink away the pain of He Is My Master begat a hangover, which compounded the problem. By Saturday afternoon, con flu had firmly taken hold instead, and the headache persisted.

By Saturday night, my back joined my head and stomach on the picket line. I would spend much of the convention holed up in my room, wrapped around a laptop, swaddled in masses of blankets. The scabs and reruns of CBC Radio One were cold comfort, but I felt too out of sorts to position myself so as to watch Teen Titans episodes or my copy of The Incredibles.

Periodically, I would leave the room for a couple of hours, trying to enjoy the con, or spend time with friends, or find food. Passing through the crowds of costumed eighteen-year-olds, I felt out of place. Here, a catgirl. There, a goth Moogle. Beyond, a passel of elegant gothic Lolitas. While some of the worst excesses of American anime fandom were thankfully missing (for example, no one carried signage soliciting sexual favours in exchange for Pocky), the event was set about an octave and a half above my comfort levels. Once again, I did not speak the language anymore.

I gingerly made my way through the dealer's rooms, eyeing a wallet of shoujo-themed Letraset Trias, but only buying a small set of ProMarkers (thinking all the while: "What am I doing? I can't even draw in this state"). Five years ago, I would have walked through the room and been wracked with tchotchke desire; now, the plushies and knickknacks were quaint. I barely even glanced at the DVDs; I knew that there was next to nothing that I would want to watch.

It took two Nurofen Plus and a Luna bar to get to sleep that night. Everything hurt.

By Sunday, little had improved. I moderated the anti-piracy panel, by which I mean that I stood at a podium and looked menacing, then took questions from the audience and continued to look menacing. (I suspect that I looked less menacing than exhausted, but either will do for the purposes of cutting people off when they ramble.) Occasionally, I would sling the panelists a question, or give them a two-minute warning, but that was about it. It went relatively smoothly, although we had limited time for questions.

A nervous, wild-eyed young man circled a small group of us -- panelists, friends, audience members -- afterwards, then approached to ask if I worked in the anime industry. This perplexed me. I'd helped out at a distributor's booth the year before, at another event, but my badge plainly labeled me as a regular congoer. I'm not particularly remarkable.

"You seem so knowledgeable, and you have such a strong American accent..."

Ah. No.

Politely explaining no set off a bit of a panicked screed. "I want to work in the industry," he told me, "but I can't seem to make any connections." And so on, and so forth, with the undertone obvious: can you tell me how to make them? I couldn't. So he began to pace. Around us, around the panelists, around the people around the panelists. Waving his hands, lecturing the air.

I'd seen that look and that stance a few times in my life. At charismatic Baptist prayer meetings, from the purpotedly demonized. In a hospital, from schizophrenics who'd been led down from the wards to the cafeteria. One night in a shelter, on the faces of some ongoing residents. You don't forget it. You just learn to huddle in, then slink away when you have your chance.

What could I tell him?

On went the headache, through another pass by hucksters, through the dwindling crowds, through an escape into Coventry for lunch and books. Disconnected, pained and alarmed, the last day was a fog. When the Blood concert ran long, and the closing ceremonies were postponed for another hour, it didn't seem like such a bad thing to just go home.

It occurs to me that the CBC Radio One managers are missing a tremendous opportunity here.

I've heard horror stories about the care and feeding of older radio shows, so it could be a hit and miss endeavour, but now strikes me as the perfect time for the managers to be hauling out old favourites from bygone eras. Even at random. I realize that there's been some antagonism towards the concept of Beloved Radio Personalities at Radio One in recent years, but the trend seems to be headed back towards them.

What sparked this, oddly enough, was listening to the tail end of 50 Tracks on the Vancouver feed just now. This is an atrocious show. It's filler. The original concept was that Canadians would suggest a bunch of purpotedly seminal pop songs from various eras, an on-air panel would discuss whether or not they were seminal, and then the audience would vote to further cement seminality. At the end of the series, you'd have a list. Woo. The concept was played out more than once. As an interactive endeavour, it's possibly engaging and intriguing to the right people. As a series of reruns, ages later? It's atrocious. Not even the infectious Jian Ghomeshi saves it.

What I particularly want to know is why Peter Gzowski's vast back catalogue of material hasn't been pulled out. Gzowski's following continues even today, and much of his work is either timeless or historically well-placed. Just the pieces enshrined in Morningside-related CD releases alone, many of which were circulated in the months following Gzowski's death, could be assembled into a couple of best-of specials; even more material was unearthed for the various memorial specials which aired. Failing that, do recordings of his later interview series, Some of the Best Minds of our Time, still exist?

Even beyond that, there's still stuff from the prior generation of Radio One personalities which would be wonderful to hear instead of the muzak, or the clumsy Radio Two show Disc Drive. Gilmour's Albums? A few hours of Alan Maitland's best interviews, or of his readings as Fireside Al? Some of the better episodes of Ideas as hosted by Lister Sinclair? Some of the Humline segments from Basic Black? Heck, why isn't the CBC grabbing temporary broadcast rights to the various Royal Canadian Air Farce best-of-radio albums (scroll down; three of them are online for free)?

It's a waste. Now's the time for management to get the listeners on their good side; it strikes me that a fantastic way to do that is to exploit Radio One's rich heritage. Even just going back over the past fifteen years would be worthwhile on that level.

Besides, I miss Morningside something fierce.

Logo: Sleeping Snarky

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