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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Alun Clewe's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, September 20th, 2015
5:37 pm
Unexpectedly, Five Years Later...
It's... been a while?  Five years, I guess?  And eight months?  Yeah, about that.

I haven't been active on LiveJournal for a while (obviously), but I now have a Tumblr account, at alunclewe.tumblr.com, and I have been active there recently.  Well, sort of active.  More so than here, anyway.  Though I suppose it wouldn't be possible to be less active than I have been here.

In fact, it was in while writing a new Tumblr post (my longest one yet, I think, and one that in many ways perhaps seemed more like a stereotypical LiveJournal post) that I mentioned my LiveJournal and thought to look back on it and saw how just long it had been... and decided to write at least one last post here.  Well, I say "last", but I don't entirely preclude the possibility that I may post again here from time to time, but it's likely to be infrequent.  You can follow me on Tumblr if you want (slightly) more frequent updates as to what I'm up to.

In the meantime, because it sort of summarizes some of what I've been doing lately, as well as the backstory of how I came to make this post in the first place, I'm going to copy the entirety of my latest Tumblr post below:



So Little Time, So Much To Do

I feel like I may have already used the above title in an old post on my long-fallow LiveJournal, but even if I did, it can’t possibly have been as true then as it is now.

(Incidentally, looking at said LiveJournal now for the first time in years, I’m... rather aghast at what happened to have been the last post on it.  I ought to make at least one more post on my LiveJournal, if only to bump that rather embarrassing post from the final position and redirect any lingering LiveJournal “friends” to my Tumblr...)

So I haven’t updated my Tumblr much lately, and have missed yet another character update for Teras Terrace as well.  I’ve missed the last two weeklyartchallenges, and came very close to missing the one before that, and am going to miss the current one as well, seeing as the deadline is two hours away.  The truth is... I’ve been absolutely swamped with my new teaching job.  I thought I was busy last semester, with my teaching credential program, but it turns out to have paled in comparison to how busy I feel right now.  Between preparation for classes and grading, the job has kept me busy nearly 24-7, and I’ve been getting a maximum of four hours of sleep on weeknights.  I’ve just had no time for anything else.  And I feel terrible.

I’m going to go on, but because I don’t usually use this tumblr for such personal ranting (that is, stereotypically, what LiveJournals are for, I guess?  Maybe I should have posted this there?), I’m going to make this the first time I put the bulk of a post behind a cut...

Keep readingCollapse )
Monday, January 4th, 2010
10:26 am
Um... YMMV?
So, three years ago I made a post about a horrible, horrible Homestar Runner fanfic I had somehow run across. (I don't remember how I found it in the first place; I certainly hadn't been looking for Homestar Runner fanfic. I have little interest in fanfic in general, and the possible existence of Homestar Runner fanfic had never even occurred to me.)

Well, recently I ran across another mention of this awful fanfic. On TV Tropes.

On a page for fanfic recommendations. Singled out as "one of the best Homestar Runner fanfics out there, and one of very few to mimic the character voices accurately."

I am not generally in the habit of using the acronym "WTF". In this case, however, I think it applies.

I mean, seriously. If this hideous trainwreck is one of the best Homestar Runner fanfics out there, I shudder to think what other Homestar Runner fanfics must be like. If this one actually stands out for getting the characters right more than other fanfics, I can only assume that other Homestar Runner fanfics involve Coach Z, distinguished Oxford professor of gender studies, moonlighting as a brilliant detective trying to put a stop to Strong Sad's murderous rampage.

As I said, I'd never been particularly interested in fanfics... but this is leading me to believe that the bar for what is considered a good fanfic may be even lower than I suspected. Drastically lower. Egad...
Friday, January 1st, 2010
11:25 pm
2010
Happy new year!

And... happy new post! Does that make any sense? Eh, probably not.

Okay, once again I haven't been posting much; I've been busy. But... that may change in the future. I have big plans for this year, and once things are underway, well, maybe I'll have a little more time to devote to things like this. This week, however, is critical. I have a number of things I want to get done this week. If I don't end up getting them done this week... well, it's not an absolute disaster, actually; it's still possible I can get them done the following week; but the sooner I get them done, the better, and this week would be the best time to do them since I don't have anything else going on.

So... yeah, and anyway, as much as I've said it before (and not had it happen), I do expect to be updating my LiveJournal a bit more often in the following year. Though not just on this account. I mean, this LiveJournal is under the name I use for my webcomics; I actually have two other LiveJournals, one for my acting career and one for role-playing, that I've hardly ever used. That may change. So, while I'll probably keep posting general updates about slices of life or nothing in particular here (as well as posts about my webcomic), I probably won't be posting about my acting (though it may get mentioned in passing) or my role-playing here, since I have other places to post those. (And if anyone should want to follow those journals... well, I'll probably post them later, or you can comment and ask about them.)

Anyway, we'll see how much I stick to my resolve about posting more this time. But in the meantime... I've got a lot to do this week...
Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
3:41 pm
Mr. Sunshine and the Conqueror of Worlds
So... remember that project I said I was working on in my last post? (Though it was more than two weeks ago, so I understand if you don't.) Well, it's finished. More or less.

Here it is: Mr. Sunshine and the Conqueror of Worlds. Enjoy.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009
6:00 pm
MSATCOW Preview
A graphic I just finished for a project I'm currently working on:

Meh, it"s a large enough image I figured I should probably put it behind a cut.Collapse )

More later.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
2:28 pm
Clicker Conundrum
So. In the interests of getting back to more regular updates, I'm going to post something I've been meaning to post for months but never got around to. It's a bit of a logic puzzle—a fairly easy puzzle, actually, but interesting in that it actually arose from real-life circumstances.

Said circumstances being the following: When I moved to my current residence, I was given a clicker to open the gate and the garage door. The code for the gate in the clicker was set by eight switches, each of which could be either up or down (leading to 256 different possible combinations). Now, I decided to take note of the switch positions in case anything happened to the clicker and it had to be replaced. So I wrote down, in order, which switches were in the up position. But then it occurred to me that there was another way to record which switches were up and which were down: I could treat each switch as a digit in a binary number, 1=up and 0=down. To my surprise, though, the number they formed in this way was the same sequence of digits as I'd already recorded!

That description may be a little confusing, so let me give an example. Suppose that, of the eight switches, the first, fourth, and seventh were up (and the rest down). Then I'd record that, using the first method, as 147. Now, as a binary number, I'd put 1s in the first, fourth, and seventh positions, thus: 10010010. Which happens to be equal in decimal notation to 146.

Of course, 147 is close to 146, but it's not quite equal to it, so that wasn't the actual arrangement of the switches on the gate code. Can you figure out the real combination? The solution, as it happens, is unique.

(By the way, yes, I suppose it could be argued that it's unwise of me to publicly give away the gate code to the condo. However: (1) most people reading this don't know where I live, (2) the code would only open the gate to the parking area, not let anyone into the condo itself, and (3) I seriously doubt anyone would bother to get a clicker and set the code just for the privilege of getting into the condo parking area without permission. So... really, I'm not too worried about it.)
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
12:52 am
Look! An update!
Hm. Looks like it's been over a month since my last update again. Huh.

Hm. Looks like I've started yet another update by commenting on how long it's been since my last update. Huh.

Okay, seriously. I am going to start updating this LiveJournal more frequently again. Seriously.

Hm. Looks like I've made another empty promise to start updating my LiveJournal more frequently again. Huh.

No, really this time.

Hm. Looks like I've said it was really going to happen this time, again. Huh.
Friday, October 9th, 2009
5:57 pm
Roboghost
I said in the previous message that I was going to upload the 24-hour comic I made last weekend. And so I did. You can see it here.

We'll see what I end up with next weekend...
Monday, October 5th, 2009
5:27 pm
48 Hours
I really need to get back in the habit of posting here more often. Well, not "need" to, technically, I guess, but want to. And yeah, I know I keep saying that, and yet never follow through. Things have been busy, though (and yeah, I know I keep saying that too). The last couple weeks I think I've averaged nearly a shoot or an audition a day, which is good, but... you know, busy.

Anyway, for the past three years I've participated in 24 Hour Comics Day, a day when comic creators take up the challenge to conceive, write, and draw an entire 24-page comic in 24 hours. All three times, I've done it at a comic book store in Santa Monica called the Comic Bug. The first year, when I first resolved to participate in 24 Hour Comics Day, it was the closest host site, and I liked the place and the owners enough that I've been back regularly since, and always go there for 24 Hour Comic Day. It's been good. Last year, during 24 Hour Comics Day at the Comic Bug, I happened to be sitting next to the creator of 24 Hour Comics Day himself, Nat Gertler of About Comics. (It was Scott McCloud who first conceived the idea of 24-Hour Comics, but Nat Gertler was responsible for there being a specific day annually devoted to them... and who then, after turning over the reins of 24 Hour Comics Day to ComicsPRO, felt obligated to participate in 24 Hour Comics Day a few times himself to show that he hadn't just abandoned the project.)

However... this year the Long Beach Comic Con was scheduled for the same weekend as 24 Hour Comics Day. And the staff of the Comic Bug had already committed to be at the convention. Which meant they couldn't host 24 Hour Comics Day that weekend. They were hosting it the following weekend, but that wasn't technically the official 24 Hour Comics Day. As it turned out, though, there was a local location hosting 24 Hour Comics Day—Collectors' Paradise in Canoga Park. I'd never been there, but it was apparently the only participating location this year in the Greater Los Angeles area.

(Oops... Maybe not. Taking another look at the 24 Hour Comics website now, I see there was also a participating site in Newhall, Brave New World Comics. I'm pretty sure that site for some reason wasn't listed when I checked originally, though I guess it's not entirely impossible that I just missed it somehow.)

So... this left me with a choice. Do I participate at Collectors' Paradise on the official 24 Hour Comics Day, or at the Comic Bug the following week?

The answer was obvious.

Both.

So, yeah. This last weekend I was at Canoga Park, participating in 24 Hour Comics Day at Collectors' Paradise. (Where, as it happened, I was once again in the same room as Nat Gertler, though not actually at the same table this time.) And I completed yet another 24-page comic, "ROBOGHOST in 'The Net of the Damned'", which I will scan and upload sometime in the next few days.

And then this coming weekend, I plan to be down at the Comic Bug, doing it all again. We'll... we'll see how that goes.
Friday, September 25th, 2009
10:25 pm
Reading is Good For You
So, yesterday I posted about something that happened the day before, so today I will continue the trend by posting bout something that happened yesterday. Maybe tomorrow I'll post about something that happened today.

After a year or so of not getting around to working out, within the last month or so I've finally gotten back in the habit... well, more or less; I haven't been going to the gym every day as I've intended, but I have been going more days than not. Part of the reason I haven't been going more days is because, well, I find the process very unpleasant. I hate working out. I want to lose my gut, so I'm doing it, but I really hate it.

Actually, working out on the machines I don't mind all that much. The hard part, the part that really kills me, is the cardio work. I don't know; perhaps I'm overdoing it. I am now going to describe in detail what my regular cardio routine comprises, which is probably something no one is interested in, so feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph. I run on the treadmill for fifteen minutes each time I work out. The first twelve minutes I run at six miles per hour, at a six degree incline for the first six minutes, then a three degree incline for the next three, and finally at one-point five degrees. The last three minutes are for cooldown: two minutes at four miles per hour (one minute still at a one point five degree incline and one minute at no incline), and the last minute a leisurely stroll at two miles per hour.

Now, I'd hoped that this would get easier after a few iterations. It hasn't, really. Each time I wonder whether I can get through it. (Occasionally I don't, entirely, and have to support myself briefly on the armrails for part of the time.) Each time, by the time I finally get to the cooldown, I feel completely worn out and at my limit. It's enormously unpleasant, but I keep doing it because, as I said, I want to lose my gut.

Yesterday, I had a movie shoot in the evening, and I didn't really have my lines down. Now, I'd briefly considered once or twice before bringing something with me to read on the treadmill, but had never done so, but in this case it occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one stone, and bring the script with me and go over my lines while I was running.

(Because it's irrelevant to the present story, and I don't want to either leave anyone wondering after the post is over or end it in an anticlimax by going over this then, I suppose I may as well state now that despite my concern about my lines (which I still didn't really have down when the shoot began) the shoot ended up going well, the director seemed happy with my performance, and there were no serious problems, the biggest issue being a cricket that got in the shot once.)

As it turned out, yesterday running on the treadmill seemed much easier than it had previously. This, in itself, wasn't too surprising; I guessed that having something to keep me occupied other than just focusing on the running probably helped out on some psychological level. Certainly I didn't seem to be actually exerting myself any less than usual; I had the treadmill on the same settings as usual, and the readout on the treadmill showed the same number of calories burned and the same distance covered.

What was surprising came during the cooldown phase of my workout. The treadmill includes instruments that measure the user's heart rate when he grips a certain bar. The heart rate monitor is not recommended for use at more than four miles per hour, so I don't use it until then. Anyway, I was startled to find that this time my heart rate reading was significantly lower than usual—about twenty percent lower. That seems like a big difference. So I guess having something to occupy me while I'm running does more than just make it feel easier—apparently it somehow does actually have some physiological effect. Assuming the readouts on the treadmill are accurate, I'm burning just as many calories, but I'm having a much easier time of it, and my heart isn't working as hard. This seems like a good thing.

So. I guess from now on I'll be bringing a book with me to the gym...
Thursday, September 24th, 2009
11:16 pm
The Fruits of Procrastination
So, um, it's been a long time since my last update here again, hasn't it? I mean, I've gone longer without updating, but still, I don't want to make a habit of it. Although apparently I have.

Yeah, I've been busy lately (as usual), though not with teaching... the private school I was teaching at hires on a year-by-year basis, and I wasn't hired this year. So for the first time in my life I filed for unemployment. I feel terribly guilty about doing so, though everyone keeps telling me I shouldn't. (This doesn't mean you should reply to this post telling me I shouldn't feel guilty about it; like I said, I'm already being told that anyway, but it doesn't really change anything.)

But, anyway, I guess something happened today that perhaps was worth writing an entry about. But instead, I'm going to write an entry about something that happened yesterday.

But before I do even that, a bit of preamble.

So, I moved a few months ago—I think I've at least mentioned that—and, in the aftermath, well, I ended up cleaning out my car and, for whatever reason, ended up taking out some things that probably should have stayed there. Such as a tire iron. Now, I'd intended to return all that stuff to the car, but didn't get around to it yet. Oh... I'd also intended to check whether or not my car had a jack in it somewhere, and get one if it didn't. Hadn't gotten around to that either. For that matter, I hadn't even checked whether the car had a spare tire, though that seemed very likely.

Which caused a problem when, last night, I got a flat tire.

It happened on my way to a recording for a radio program I had a part in. (When I say "radio program", I mean something that may or may not ever be played on the radio, but anyway, it's an audio program, whatever eventually happens with it.) I was running a bit late and had trouble finding the entrance to the place, so when I finally got there and hit the call button and the gate was opening... well, I guess I started the car moving a bit earlier than I should have —I thought the gate was open, but apparently it wasn't, entirely. My car survived the experience mostly undamaged (the gate, on the other hand, was knocked off its track, but hopefully that shouldn't be too hard a fix), the "mostly" being, well, the right front tire, which apparently got a hole torn into it by the edge of the gate.

So, anyway, I tried not to worry about it during the recording session, since there wasn't much I could do about it then anyway, but afterward... well, in addition to having a flat tire, I was also pretty much out of gas, and had of course already planned to fill up after the recording session. So I first went to the gas station, and figured I'd take things from there. This, of course, required driving a few blocks on the flat tire, but my car made it that far.

(While I was filling the tank, the gas station attendant came out to tell me I had a flat tire. It would have been rather difficult for me not to have noticed.)

Okay, but now what? Insofar as I had any sort of half-formed plan, it had been to drive back home on the flat and get it fixed in the morning. But on further examination, that was clearly out of the question. I'd made it as far as the gas station, but home was about fourteen miles away, and the tire was completely flat; by the time I got there, the tire would be completely gone and I'd be driving on the bare wheel, and I really didn't want to damage the wheel itself. So... driving home on the flat was out.

Well, the obvious thing to do was to pull over and see whether somehow I did actually have the tools I needed in the car somewhere. There was the spare tire, in the trunk where it ought to be, and then behind the spare tire... well, there was some sort of package that seemed promising. And inside it was, indeed... a jack!

Unfortunately, the jack was of limited utility without a tire iron, or a socket wrench, both of which I had previously had in my car, and currently had in my apartment where they didn't do much good. Still, there was a chance I had a wrench somewhere in the car that would fit it, so I jacked up the car, and looked through my car... but I didn't find anything that would do. I had several wrenches in my car, but none the right size (including a crescent wrench that wouldn't quite open wide enough for the lug nuts, though due to its shape I don't know that I would have been able to use it to remove the lug nuts even if it were big enough). I asked the attendant whether he knew of any places nearby that sold tire irons, but he said not until morning (it was by this time past midnight). Which didn't really help me much, since I didn't really see sitting all night in the gas station parking lot as a viable option. I tried calling my roommate Allen to see if he was still up and had a tire iron; I later discovered that the answer to the second question was indeed yes, but at the time this was irrelevant because the answer to the first question was no.

I was near despair when it occurred to me that the handle of the jack looked as if it doubled as a tire iron. What a clever design, I thought. And then I was near despair again when I discovered that the handle of the jack only looked as if it doubled as a tire iron—it was the right shape, but it was slightly too small for the lug nuts. What a pity—a jack handle like that that doubled as a tire iron would have been really nifty, but apparently it was not to be, or at least it wasn't in that particular case.

So. It seemed I was stuck. There was one other option, one possibility, but it was one I didn't really like. I could ask random people at the gas station whether or not they had a tire iron.

There was, in fact, just then one likely person in the parking lot, a youngish man in a green shirt and tie driving a black car. By this time I'd gone ahead and lowered the car again and put the jack away, but I figured if I was going to be asking to use someone's tire iron, I would want to waste as little of their time as possible, so I ought to already have the car jacked up. Unfortunately, just as I finished this, Green Shirt finished filling his tank and left, leaving the gas station empty. Still, I figured if I kept waiting someone would else hopefully show up.

(It occurred to me that, in retrospect, I should have just taken care of the flat in the recording studio parking lot, at which time I could have asked one of the other cast members if they had a tire iron. But, of course, this realization did me very little good right then.)

Eventually, a middle-aged black woman arrived in a minivan. I approached her about my problem, but, while she was friendly and sympathetic, she didn't know what a tire iron was, and after I explained she said she didn't have one—the last time she'd had a flat, she'd called Triple-A. (For what it's worth, though, apparently I didn't really know exactly what a tire iron was either; as it turns out, according to Wikipedia, the object I thought was called a tire iron is technically actually a lug wrench, but is increasingly called a tire iron since genuine tire irons are no longer in common use since modern car tires have rendered them obsolete. But that's beside the point.)

Next to arrive was a young woman who I was afraid might be scared of a strange man approaching her at a gas station to ask for something. But I tried anyway, attempting to seem as non-threatening as I could, and apparently I was successful, because she didn't seem at all put off by my question. Unfortunately, however, she didn't have a tire iron either.

And then nobody showed up for a while. Finally, a Hispanic man drove up in a big white truck. I asked him if he had a tire iron. "A tool?" he said in heavily accented English, miming a rotational motion. "Para sacar ruedas," I said.

Apparently he had a tire iron somewhere in the bed of his truck, but it was buried under a lot of other stuff. He spent considerable time moving things around and lifting them up searching for it, but finally he produced it—an ancient, rusty tire iron, but better than nothing, provided it fit the lug nuts.

Which it did, and before too long I had the spare tire on, returned the tire iron, thanked my benefactor, and was on my way.

Didn't get a chance to replace the flat tire yet; I'll do that tomorrow morning. And I'm definitely going to put that tire iron in the trunk so I don't have this problem again...
Monday, August 10th, 2009
10:53 pm
Of Broken Glass and Liquid Nitrogen
Remember how I used to occasionally do those comparisons between my plans for the day and how the day actually went? Well, whether you do or not, I'm about to do another one.

Though before that I should mention something that happened yesterday. Or possibly the night before, and I only found out about it yesterday. But anyway, the point is that when I went out to my car yesterday to go somewhere I found that the rear drivers' side window had been smashed in. I don't know why. As far as I can tell, nothing was taken. This is annoying. So I tried to find a place that would fix it that night. This would have been a lot easier had it not been Sunday.

The first place I called quoted a price of about $170, but said they were booked that night and wouldn't be able to do it till tomorrow. The second place I called quoted a price of $129, but not only said they couldn't do it that night but assured me that nobody would do it that night, because the warehouse was closed. (Yes, they apparently meant to suggest that every window repair company in the area uses the same warehouse. I strongly suspect they were lying.) When I said I was going to keep calling, they asked if they could call back in ten or fifteen minutes to check in. The third place I managed to get through to also couldn't do it till the next day, but quoted a price of only $75. I called the second place back to let them know I'd be going with someone else, and was returned a barrage of questions that, combined with their earlier lying and hard-sell techniques, ensured that I have no desire to ever do any business with that company. (P&G Auto Glass, in case you're curious.)

Oh, I suppose it's also important background to add that I had an audition in Burbank this morning at 11:30 for a position as a science host. (I had also had an audition for a part in a movie for almost the same time, but managed to get that one rescheduled.) Now, the producers had some expectations about their desires for this role that the casting director seemed rather dubious could be fulfilled. In particular, the producers wanted someone who was the "Criss Angel of science", someone who had a degree in science and a strong science background but was "edgy", ideally with tattoos and/or piercings. Obviously, that is not me. But the casting director apparently had serious doubts that any such person existed, so she called me in anyway.

Oh... I should add, perhaps, that this is, I believe, the first audition I've gone to where I was specifically instructed not to bring a headshot. The producers didn't want an actor, you see; they just wanted a science specialist. The casting director had told them that this was L.A., and everyone was an actor, but still advised me to downplay my acting experience. (Despite this being L.A., there are, no doubt, plenty of people with science degrees here who are not actors. Those people, however, are very unlikely to be browsing listings for acting jobs...) I told the casting director that, if they weren't looking for actors, it might be worth my mentioning to her that the name I had submitted myself under for the part was my stage name, not my real name. Would this be important; should I give her my real name? But she assured me that at this stage, that wasn't important, and I might as well go ahead and use my stage name, their desire for a non-actor notwithstanding.

Regardless, I figured, given my, um, lack of "edginess", I had to do something at the audition to stand out. So I decided I'd bring in some liquid nitrogen, and show them a little demonstration with it, that would involve pouring some over my hand. I figured that would get their attention.

Okay, this is going long enough that I guess I"ll put the actual plans-vs.-reality part behind a cut.Collapse )
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
8:44 pm
Comic Craving
So, August 20 is the date I'd announced for the relaunch of Soup. (And there's a reason for that date—Soup was originally launched on August 20, 2000, so this way I can keep the same dates on the strips and have them match the current dates —at least until a leap year complicates things—, so pushing the relaunch date back really isn't a viable option unless I want to push it back a full year, which I don't.) That's just over three weeks away (yikes!). And... I'm not ready. Not at all.

It may not seem there's much I'd need to get ready. I mean, I'm restarting the strip from the beginning, and I already had more than nine months of strips done, so I have a big enough buffer I don't have to start drawing new strips right away. And I'd said I had all the files locally still. So it should be a matter of just reuploading it all, right? Well... yes and no. I guess I could just reupload everything more or less as it was, with only some minor tweaks to the code to accommodate the different date for the first strip (which is hardcoded in, because I am stupid), but I really don't want to do that. There are some things I really want to change. The highest-priority changes being:
  • New fonts! And this may take a while. I made my own fonts for Soup. They are the first fonts I ever made. And they are not good for comic strip fonts. They aren't bad fonts in general, but I didn't know enough to take into account factors that are important in comic text. Such as easy readability when reduced to very small size. At the very least, I need to make the strokes thicker, and the letters themselves proportionately broader than they are. Also, make the bold letters as big as the regular letters—originally, the bold letters somehow ended up being slightly smaller, so to compensate for this I had to manually resize all the bold letters each time I used bold text to give them a slightly larger font size than the non-bold letters. Instead of just making the letters larger in the font. See above note, re: I am stupid. Anyway, the fonts desperately need to be redone, because they are bad. The worst of the lot is the font I used for the dialogue of Drv'dxx, the demon bartender. It looks kind of nifty, angular and demonic. And it's downright illegible in the size it ends up in the comic. Heck, it's not too legible at any size. (Incidentally, I used a total of five different fonts in Soup, for the dialogue of various characters. One (mostly) for mortals, one for gods, and three... for certain characters who were neither. Drv'dxx is one of those three characters. Once the comic relaunches, I'll let you see if you can spot the others...)
  • Some minor page redesigns. Minor, because I'm actually pretty happy with the design as it stands. But the main thing I want to change is the links on the right. Rather than have link buttons to the three specific strips I linked to before, I'd rather randomize those links. And maybe have some text links below them. Also, there's something else I'm considering adding, but more on that later.
  • Not as big a deal, but there are a small handful of strips I want to make some minor tweaks to. Like the strip where I gave Drv'dxx eyelids. Drv'dxx will not have eyelids when that strip appears after the relaunch.


Other changes I'd like to make, but I'm not sure I'll have time:
  • I'm going to try to redo the code to utilize cascading style sheets, if I can figure out how; they should dramatically cut down the size of the code, since so much space is taken up by repeated code to build certain tables that, if I understand style sheets correctly (which it is entirely possible I do not), can be drastically shortened by including all that mess once in a style and then just use that style everywhere I'd previous included all that lengthy HTML code.
  • As the page currently stands—that is, as it stood before it was all deleted—the links for the next and previous strips showed pictures of Erlak, god of soup, and the links for the first strip, the current strip, and the calendar all included pictures of Nizini, goddess of sincerity. Now, the pictures of Erlak make sense, because, well, he's the main character of the strip. The pictures of Nizini, maybe less so. She's a major character, sure, but there are other characters who are just as important. Why did I pick Nizini and not Erlak's champion, or Nezhoni, or Drv'dxx? Well, uh, see, the original plan was to have those pictures randomized. Each link image would exist in different versions, for various characters, and each time the page was loaded it would choose a version randomly for each link. In fact, the code is already set up to do this—the only problem is that I never got around to making the other versions of the buttons, so the code is randomly choosing between one possible choice. I should make those other images. (And also maybe redo the pictures of Nizini, since they were done when I was just starting the strip and when my art was even worse than it is now.)
  • For that matter, the background was also supposed to be randomized, to show different kinds of soup. I never got around to doing that, either.
  • All the Sunday strips are actually composed so that they can be arranged in two, three, or four rows, much like most actual Sunday comic strips in newspapers. Since Soup is not, and never will be, an actual Sunday comic strip in a newspaper, there's not really any very good reason for me to be doing this. But since I am, I'd been meaning to change it so that the Sunday strips are split into six different images, which can be rearranged into two, three or four rows if the window is resized. (Well, probably not just two rows, unless you have a really wide monitor.) Maybe I will do this.
  • I'd really like to have alternative archive systems with storyline names and with much-reduced preview images of the strips. This, however, it is extremely unlikely I will find time to do before the relaunch. Maybe someday.

  • You know, looking now at an archived version of the page, I'm also thinking I really have to do something about that white box on the top. That's another thing I'd been thinking of changing, and I should... but that's not one of the highest priorities.


There are other things I'd kind of like to change, too, but I'm probably not going to have time for all of the above before the relaunch date. Still, at least the font I have to change before the relaunch; I really don't want to restart the strip with the old, hard-to-read fonts. This isn't going to be easy.

Incidentally, there's one more change I was thinking of making. I was always very much against having any form of advertising on the Soup page, though I knew there wasn't any good reason for that. I never made any attempt to put banner ads or Google adwords or anything like that on the page, and had no intention of ever doing so. But... that was before the advent of Project Wonderful, and for some reason the thought of including Project Wonderful ads on the site doesn't bother me nearly as much as other advertising. I haven't entirely decided yet whether or not I'm going to put Project Wonderful ads on the page, but at the moment I'm leaning toward it.

The thing is, though, I've been really craving making comics. I don't have time right now, but I want to do it. Not just Soup; I keep having ideas for other webcomics I really want to draw. Aargh. But I have enough else I have to do right now that I really have to restrain myself.

Well, it's not just comics I'm restraining myself from doing. I had an idea lately for a Flash CRPG system that I really want to make, but really can't spare the time for right now. And there are other (non-C)RPGs I want to work on, too. In fact, I've been craving getting a new RPG campaign going, maybe a GURPS Infinite Worlds game, but, again, I really don't have time right now.

Oh, yeah, and then there are some other things that I do want to get done. Like... well, a secret project that's going to launch in January 2010, though I'm not going to announce it here even when it does launch. It's just that secret. Or a not-so-secret project that I don't know if I'd mentioned before called Mr. Sunshine and the Conqueror of Worlds, which I hope will launch in September. And, um, of course, there's my physics dissertation. And my acting roles. And my music.

But, uh, webcomics are definitely among the things I'm restraining myself from doing. Seriously, I've got all these comics I want to draw that I just don't have time for, and I don't know if I'll ever have time for all of them.

But still, assuming I can get at least the font redesign done before then, I'm actually very much looking forward to having Soup up and running again. It'll be good to have a webcomic online again. A regularly updating webcomic—at least for nine months. (Though I hope long before my buffer runs out I'll be in a secure enough position to be able to spare the time to draw a strip a day so it'll stay regular... we'll see.)

Yeah. About three weeks away... I've really gotta get started on those font revisions.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
9:39 pm
So, Apparently I Blew It...
That part I was worried they were going to recast? Yeah. I just got a call. They recast it. Needless to say, I'm unhappy about this, but there's not much I can do about it. Dagnabbit.
8:09 pm
Ambit
A recent post by ceruleanst included a link to a page about an ambigram-based card game. Unfortunately, even apart from the fact that most of the ambigrams in the game seem to me to be pretty much illegible, it just isn't a very interesting game. It's similar to a drastically simplified version of Uno, and it's not as if Uno is a complicated game to begin with—there's just not much to it. Plus, the ambigrams don't really have anything to do with the game. They're used to determine the "suits" of the cards, but the same thing could be accomplished with two dots of different colors on each card, or two different symbols, and the game would play exactly the same. (Actually, it would be significantly easier to play, because you wouldn't have to struggle to figure out what the words are supposed to be and whether or not they match the words on the last card played.)

Still, this got me thinking about whether any playable game could be created using ambigrams. That second issue is the pitfall—it's hard to think of a way to make ambigrams an integral part of the game rather than just an irrelevant gimmick like they are in the card game linked above. In fact, the only workable way I could come up with offhand is to make the players create the ambigrams.

So here"s the idea...Collapse )
Monday, July 27th, 2009
2:07 pm
An Addendum to the Addendum
So... I mentioned in the addendum to my last post that I found out I did get a part after all in the pilot I didn't think I had gotten a part in. But now... I'm not sure things are all that definite. The director really didn't like my reading on the readthrough, and I just got a call from his assistant trying to go over things with me... they didn't actually say they're considering recasting my part, but, um, yeah, I'm a little worried.

The assistant said they had loved my energy during the auditions, but it just wasn't there during the readthrough. Well... that may be true, but I had plenty of things I was worrying about at the time. One of the two biggest being my schedule for that day... I had a rehearsal for a feature I was supposed to be at later, and the readthrough started much later than it was supposed to and went long, so I was worried about the prospects of making it to the rehearsal. (As it was, I had to leave the readthrough early (that is, after we'd already read through it twice, but apparently they'd planned to read through it a few more times), which also may not have endeared me to the director, though I had mentioned to the assistant that I had another commitment later that afternoon and might have to leave early, and she'd said it was okay.) Second, they told me after I showed up that they wanted me to do a Scottish accent. I had had no inkling of this previously. I can do a decent English accent, passable Southern, but Scottish... not one of my specialties. So I think maybe I was focusing a little too much on that.

Be that as it may, the assistant went over their concerns with me, and asked me to call her back at five and read my lines for the first scene again. Again, she didn't actually say that if I didn't do better then, they'd recast my part, but... um. Yeah. I'm definitely nervous about this.
10:06 am
Parts I Didn't Get
So. This would be the post in which I write about what I did at Comic Con this year, except that because I procrastinating registering until it was too late, I didn't end up going to Comic Con this year, despite the fact that I could have gotten a pro badge and gotten in free if I'd just gotten around to registering on time. (Well, okay, there's still the cost of gas, and lodging if I stayed down there, which given my current financial status I wouldn't have (I probably would have just driven in for a day or two), but anyway.) But there are other things I have to post about.

I mentioned in my last post an audition I had for an online Yoplait commercial. It seemed like a fun part, and I thought the audition went well. And, indeed, I got a callback the next day. At 10:24. An odd time, but one I should have been able to make it for.

Well, I had things to do that morning, and I was planning on going straight from the audition to my parents' house to help them put down some flooring, so I had to get my stuff ready for that as well. And between some computer issues trying to get things printed out, time spent looking for some things I'd need at my parents' house, and, well, traffic, I got to the audition about five or ten minutes late. They had planned (though I didn't know this until I got there) to send people in in specific groups, and the group I was supposed to be sent in with had already gone in by then. The person organizing everything out front told me not to worry about, that it wasn't a big deal, and said that the director's expectation that everyone was going to get there right on time and the specific groups would be sent in was unrealistic to begin with. But I can't help but wonder if that's what lost me the part.

(Oh, yeah... I didn't get the part. I would have heard by now if I had. I'm not happy about that, because, as I said, it seemed like a fun part, because it would have paid $350 (not a heck of a lot, but it would definitely be helpful), and because it would be good to keep on the good side of the production company for possible future jobs (and if they did realize I was late and I didn't get the part because of that, obviously that might impact my chances at getting future auditions there). In the long run, I guess it's not really a big deal, but still...)

Oh, I don't know that it is. And I'm not saying that they went through the list of names and scratched out anyone who was late... that's not entirely inconceivable, but it's very unlikely. But maybe if they were on the fence between me and another person, the fact that I arrived a little late was the deciding factor... And the thing is, there's no good excuse for it. Many other auditioners were arriving half an hour early. I should have. But I didn't, because I am an idiot.

Of course, maybe my not getting the part had nothing at all to do with my being late. Maybe they just decided another actor was better for it. Maybe the director didn't even realize I had arrived later than my appointed time. But I don't know, and I'm still worried about it.

While I'm on the topic, there's another part I also may have lost due to stupid reasons. A few weeks ago, I responded to an open call posted on Craigslist. When I got there, though, there was more than one audition taking place at that address, in different rooms, and, since the posting hadn't mentioned the name of the project, I wasn't sure which one it had been referring to. When I inquired and mentioned what I did know about the project, the person at the desk managed to identify which one it was—except that the people inside the room doing the casting said it wasn't supposed to be an open call, and that they were only seeing people they had made appointments with. I found the posting on my cell phone and showed the person at the desk that it did indeed say that it was an open call (except for children, who were requested to set up appointments), and everyone seemed very frustrated about the matter, and eventually one of the people from inside came out to use the computer at the desk to delete the posting, which apparently wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. I apologized for the mess and said I would have submitted my information had it not said it was an open call, and I was told to go ahead and audition anyway. So I did, but I figured there was no way I'd get this part; they must hate me for showing up without an appointment, pointing out the open call posting, and inadvertently causing them all this grief.

So I was very surprised, a few days later, to get a callback. Which seemed to go very well, overall, except for one screwup that they didn't comment on and that I hoped wouldn't make a difference. But, since I never heard back about that project, I assume that screwup did make a difference after all. What was it? Well, the callback, like the original audition, was filmed. And for some reason, during the reading, I was in doubt whether to look directly at the camera or at the reader, and I'm pretty sure I looked into the camera part of the time and at the reader other times. Now, in retrospect, it's perfectly obvious I should have been looking at the reader. I know that. I don't know why I vacillated on that at the time. I mean, this is a basic thing that shouldn't have caused me any trouble; of course I'm supposed to look at the reader and not directly into the camera. So I can definitely see, if they played back the audition, why they wouldn't have cast me. We liked his reading, but this guy keeps looking into the camera! We can't have that.

Again, I don't know for sure that's why I didn't get the part. Maybe they just found other actors they liked better. But, again, I don't know, and it still bothers me that I did something that stupid.

So. There we go. Two parts possibly lost to stupid mistakes. And, sure, maybe they weren't; maybe my lateness, in the first case, and my looking into the camera in the second, had nothing to do with why I didn't get the parts. But I'd feel a whole lot better about it if I hadn't made those mistakes, so I knew it was just because they'd found other actors who they thought fit the parts better. Unfortunately, I don't.

Now, for an addendum. See, it often happens that I plan what I'm going to write in an entry, and don't actually get around to writing it until later. That happened hear; I more or less planned this entry out yesterday morning, but didn't write it until, well, now. And in the meantime, I found out that one thing I'd written above was wrong. I"ll put this behind a cut.Collapse )
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
9:29 pm
Triple Turnabout
Okay, something of an addendum to the previous post:

I'd mentioned that it looked like I could go the audition at 10 and still make it to the shoot at 11, but it was going to be close. I didn't mention that at first it looked like it was going to be impossible. The audition is in West Los Angeles. The shoot was at Balboa Park, which according to Google Maps is in the northeast corner of Griffith Park--far enough that there's no way I'd be able to get there in time.

However, Google Maps showed more than one Balboa Park in the Los Angeles area, and on a second look it turned out that the Balboa Park in Griffith Park wasn't the Balboa Park the shoot was at. (In fact, on closer examination, it seems the Balboa Park in Griffith Park doesn't actually exist... turns out the address Google Maps gives for that Balboa Park is in fact the address of the Los Angeles Zoo, and the better-known San Diego Zoo happens to be in yet another Balboa Park (which is located, unsurprisingly, in San Diego), so I suspect this is a mix-up on the part of Google Maps.) The Balboa Park the shoot is at is in Van Nuys, about a half hour from the audition location. So... if I got to the auditions right at 10:00, I could feasibly still make it to Balboa Park in time for the shoot.

However (again), the e-mail with the info about the shoot had also said that there was a chance that the shoot location might be changed to Hansen Dam. And, well, I got a text about an hour ago, at 9:20: "Call time is now at hansen dam not balboa park". This changed things, because Hansen Dam was significantly farther from the shoot location, and there was no way I could get there in time after an audition at 10:00.

I only had to worry about this for a minute, though, because at 9:21 I got a second text: "U can actually come at 12:30".

So... I guess things have worked out after all. We'll see how tomorrow goes...
6:40 pm
A Confluence of Events, Part II
My first commercial acting job, and only my second acting job ever, was an eBay commercial. An eBay commercial which was, apparently, going to only run on the web, though as far as I know it never did (though it did show up at some apparent internal site somewhere).

And then, for almost two years, I heard nothing more about it.

Almost two years, because today I got a call from a casting director who first brought up the eBay commercial I did way back when. The same director is currently doing a Yoplait commercial, and apparently I was sufficiently remembered from that eBay commercial way back then to be called in for an audition for this.

The problem: The audition is tomorrow. Any time between 10 and 1, or between 2 and 5. I have a movie shoot tomorrow at 11. I do not know when it will end.

Looking at the locations, it seems that if I can be at the auditions right at 10, and not have to wait too long, I can still get to the shoot in time, though it's going to be a bit close. (And even if I don't, the casting director said if I can't make it they may call me in straight to callbacks on Thursday.) But still, it seems a bit inconvenient that these things happen to be scheduled for the same time... then again, I guess there are worse problems than having too many opportunities.
Thursday, July 16th, 2009
5:01 pm
Double Spaced
So, a couple years ago now, I guess it was, I first took some classes at Ultimate Improv. Since then, I haven't really done much improv-related, but I've kept in touch with the people at Ultimate Improv. Well, Ultimate Improv is undergoing a change of ownership, and with it, a change of name. The new name? The Space.

My roommate, Allen, is the owner of a theater near LACC. The theater's name? The Space.

So Ultimate Improv's new name sounded a little familiar...

When Allen found out that another theater was calling itself the Space, he was, to say the least, not happy. He was concerned about the possibility for confusion with two theaters in Los Angeles with the same name, and wondered, of all possible names, why they'd chosen that one. He talked about trying to contact the owners of the theater about the matter, but I told him I happened to know the owners and I'd try to bring it up sometime.

Which I did, a week or two ago, but to little effect. I did speak to one of the new owners, but he was already aware of the existence of the other theater with the same name, and said it was no problem. The possibility of confusion was dismissed on the grounds that, he said, neither theater was well known enough for it to be an issue. I didn't press the matter; I don't think it would have accomplished anything.

For now, Allen seems to have forgotten about the other Space--he's had other things to deal with, the acquisition of a new cat and his grandmother's death among them--, and I've seen little reason to remind him. However, if he ever remembers, or sees another reference to the other Space somewhere... well, I'm not sure exactly what will happen. I don't think there's anything he can do legally to force the other theater not to use the name--it isn't as if it's trademarked, or anything--, but I'm pretty sure there will be some unpleasantness involved. Perhaps everything will blow over without incident... but I'm not counting on it. Sooner or later, this is likely to lead to trouble. I am not looking forward to it...
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