richardf8: (Default)
Character Meme

Ganked from [ profile] kevinjdog and others.

Choose twelve of your original characters in any particular order (NO PEEKING AT THE QUESTIONS AT THIS STAGE!). Then, answer the questions that follow.

1. Grendel
2. Willie
3. Cujo
4. Brian
5. Cleo
6. Sybil
7. Bartle
8. Scotus
9. Jack
10. Roger
11. Eartha
12. Monty

The questions. )
richardf8: (Default)
I am:
Robert A. Heinlein
Beginning with technological action stories and progressing to epics with religious overtones, this take-no-prisoners writer racked up some huge sales numbers.

Which science fiction writer are you?

I think I've read more Heinlein than any other SciFi writer.
richardf8: (Default)
My Rabbi

He is the sort of man of whom you can't decide:
"Would I rather study Talmud with him,
Or Guitar?"
richardf8: (Default)
One of the things I've always found puzzling about Calvin and Hobbes is the exact nature of Hobbes. At first glance, he seems an A.A. Milne type stuffed animal whose life is led solely in the imagination of a child. In form and action he reminds one of no one so much as Milne's "Tigger," complete with overwhelming greeting habits. This theory of Hobbes is well supported by the "Yukon Expedition" storyline (Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes, 64-70)in which Calvin decides to run away to the Yukon after being told to clean his room. In many ways, this storyline seems a tribute to Milne's "Expotition to the North Pole," but one of the important distinctions between the Milne play-world and the Watterson play-world is that while Christoper Robin is Lord and Master of the the 100-Acre wood, sought by all for wisdom and judgement, Calvin is very often the butt of some joke of Hobbes'. The Yukon expedition, however, appears to make it clear that Hobbes is a stuffed toy whose life is led entirely in Calvin's imagination, because after a tiff with Hobbes, Calvin leaves Hobbes and the Tobboggan outside. Hobbes must be sought for and returned to the house by Calvin's dad.

As if to drive the point home, the first strip after the resolution of the Yukon Expedition shows us Susie with a "Mr. Bun" complaining of Calvin and his inanimate Hobbes never playing with her and Mr. Bun. When Susie is safely away an animate Hobbes describes Mr. Bun as seeming comatose (Authoritative, 71). This leaves the reader to wonder what imaginary life Mr. Bun and Susie might share.

Well this is all well and good, but there is a problem with the simple-stuffed-toy theory, and that is that, on very rare occasions, actions undertaken by Hobbes have real-world consequences that cannot be explained by Calvin having taken those actions on Hobbes' behalf. This is glaringly apparent in the "Houdini" storyline, (Authoritative, 97-98) in which Calvin asks Hobbes to tie him into a chair so he can escape. When Calvin proves unable to, Hobbes renders only perfunctory and minimal assistance, appearing to amuse himself at Calvin's expense. We see Calvin bound in the chair in a manner that would be impossible if he had bound himself, since his arms are completely immobile. Only Calvin's Dad can rescue him at this point, and can only ask how Calvin got himself like that. He has no theory, only wonder. When Calvin explains (truthfully, near as the reader can tell) he is admonished by his father not to lie. His response to this is to lie about Hobbes' motivation, saying that Hobbes was going to hold him for ransom. As soon as Dad is away, an animate Hobbes calls Calvin a "big fibber."

This storyline leaves little doubt that Hobbes can act in the world in ways that leave empirical evidence of his action, even if his action is not accepted as an explanation of that evidence. From this, one is left to believe, perhaps, that Hobbes is a magical creature whose animate form is visible only to the child with whom he has bonded. He seems often to be a moral guide for Calvin, not in the sanctimonious "Jiminy Cricket" style, but rather as a trickster who ensures that Calvin gets to not only to act as he wishes, but to feel the full consequences of those actions.

So, anyone have any other thoughts, or has Watterson ever commented on the matter?
richardf8: (Default)
Instead of Tefillin
I bind my arm with the cuff of a sphygmomanometer
I press start
And await judgment from a beit din
of MAP sensors and printed circuits
Diastolic trending downward,
I am inscribed in the book of life another day, at least.
richardf8: (Default)
A couple of people ([ profile] mud_in_your_eye and [ profile] c_eagle) have asked me about my avatar. When I tell them that I just drew it one day, and threw the Starfleet Insignia on his shirt to break up the monotony, and then colored it red 'just because,' they always seem unsatisfied. So, although you'll never find me in one of them "Multi User Hissy Fits," and I probably won't ever role play the character, because such is not my way, here is the backstory of Ensign Katz.

Stardate: Random(5000)+50000.4

Captain Prescott of the USS Articles Of Confederation (NCC-1777), had been going through "red-shirts" at an alarming rate. It seemed like he was losing two or three per away mission. The reports were thick upon the desk of Admiral Scott, who had worn a red shirt through his entire career, surviving only because of his command-level position. He sifted through them.

Ensign Karlsen: Shot with a Romulan phaser. Ensign Smith: Skewered by a battleth wielded by a friendly but clumsy Klingon. Ensign Schwartz: Crushed by an avalanche of sentient rocks. Ensign McClintock: Dissolved by an acid secreting alien that was just trying to say "hello." Ensign Al-Basri: Shagged to exhaustion by 72 alien nymphomaniacs chanting "brain and brain, what is brain?" in unison. And so it went, page after tragicomic page.

And also on Admiral Scott's desk was the inevitable corollary: a personnel requisition from Captain Prescott. Scotty picked up the personnel file of one Ensign Michael Katz. Ensign Katz was descended from Old Mr. Johnson's famous cat, one Maxwell Katz (who was also the owner of a quite famous silver hammer). Ensign Katz's remarkable resilience was legendary in Starfleet. He had already survived 5 away missions with Kirk, and by some miracle, whenever McCoy had pronounced the words "He's dead, Jim" over Ensign Katz, there Ensign Katz would be when they beamed back up, demanding of Dr. McCoy just what he had meant when he said "Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a veterinarian!"

Admiral Scott pressed a button on his desk. "Lieutenant Anderson, send Ensign Katz in please."

The door slid open and a bipedal cat walked into Scott's office. He spurned the chair, leaping instead onto the old-style CRT that Scott, ever the antiquarian, used as a visual interface.

"Katz, how would you feel about an assignment to the USS Articles of Confederation?"

"You mean 'Ensign-Killer' Prescott's ship?"

"Yes, it would seem a good fit for your unique talents."

"You know my terms."

"Hazard pay for the duration, then. It's less expensive than paying a death benefit every time Prescott gets curious about some rock."

"And plenty of catnip in the hydroponic garden. From what I've heard about this guy, I'm gonna need it."

richardf8: (Default)
Inspired by Thomas' concerns that Newshounds might become to Soap-Opera-ish.

Renata walks in to a high end restaurant and joins Hal O'Peridol at a table.

Hal: Oh Renata, I'm so glad you could come.

Renata: Yes, we need to talk.

Hal: I love you so.

Renata: I love you too Hal.

Hal: You don't know how long I've waited to hear you say that.

Renata: You've waited all your life Hal, and finally I've said it.

Hal: Oh Renata!

Renata: After all, what kind of mother would let her son grow up and never tell him she loves him?

Hal: What? You're my . . . mother?

Renata: Yes Hal.

Hal: How come you never told me?

Renata: I only just remembered . . . after the car crash with Rochelle. You see, it happened the year I had amnesia.

Hal: You had amnesia for a whole year?

Renata: Yes, and I've only just now remembered what happened. I spent that year on a vessel in the merchant marine.

Hal: And my father?

Renata: Dead.

Hal: But who was it?

Renata: It could have been anyone on that ship Hal. It's no wonder I couldn't remember that year, I was repressing it.

Hal: So how do you know my father is dead?

Renata: Well, when the two blue whales struck the boat, you and I were the sole survivors, everyone else was shark chum.

Hal: Hold it, we were both in a shipwreck? Why don't I remember this?

Renata: You were just a poor, naked, blind pup. I curled up around you on a piece of wood from the ship to keep you warm.

Hal: So how did we become separated?

Renata: After the coast guard rescued us we were taken to the pound. As soon as you were weaned, they took you from me. You were adopted by the CEO/Owner of Sunflower Chemical. I was sad to see you go, but a mother couldn't ask for a better life for her son.

Hal: So why didn't you remember any of this?

Renata: Just as I was waving goodbye to you, a bag of IAMS Special Diet fell on my head causing me to remember my real identity and forget the year I spent as an amnesiac.

Hal: So my love for you has just been . . .

Renata: That's right Hal, an Oedipus Complex. Now go find a nice girl to marry and give me grandkids!

Baa Baa

Nov. 18th, 2003 09:41 am
richardf8: (Default)
Swiped this meme from [ profile] the_gneech

You're a pantser!
You're a pantser, someone who "writes by the
seat of her pants." You're the type of a
writer who has a brilliant story idea, and runs
with it. You're very creative, with the source
of your creativity in spontaneity. Outlines
bring you down, and you could never write a
story if you knew ahead of time how it was
going to end. You're a free spirit who writes
as whimsy inspires you without worrying overly
much what others will think.

What Kind of a Writer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

This frankly doesn't surprise me, although I do usually know how the stories I actually finish are going to end even as I start them. If I don't have a target to hit, I'll meander all over the place.
richardf8: (Default)
SKETCH issued 20 has an interesting interview with J. Michael Straczynski. I'm not going to discuss it here, but I do want to talk, however briefly, about how JMS, specifically how Babylon 5, has affected my writing for my strip.

My strip couldn't be farther from the Babylon 5 universe in terms of genre. The seed of my strip was "what if cats went to grad school?" A fun enough premise, possibly good for a gag strip, but I wasn't interested in doing a gag strip. My partner and I played with the idea, layering "what if?" and "what about?" until I noticed that we were building a world. And of course, since she and I are both foodies, most of our questions were about food consumption and production. Now I was onto something. I had a metastory which I could use as a backdrop for some life in grad school gags, while telling a larger story. A narrative had emerged which, however unlikely and surreal it may be, I hope to be able to use as a fable. And the more I contemplate the strip's future, the more this narrative figures into it.

But that narrative is the backdrop. In the foreground, it's important to gain the reader's interest within a strip or two, and so I have been using strips with a final-panel payoff to build storylines comprising two or three strips, through which metastory subtly suggests itself. So far, only one of my storylines actually puts it in the foreground. The way I figure it, if an individual strip does not stand alone, then it is as inaccessible to the new reader as Mark Trail or Judge Parker, and they have no motivation to explore the rest of my world.

This is a strategy that JMS employed in Babylon 5. Each episode told its own story. Conflicts crucial to that story were resolved within it. However, other, almost inscrutable events would launch conflicts that would span all 5 years. This was an ingenious approach to the problem of telling a Big Story in a medium as flighty and episodic television. And it works in any sequential episodic medium, including the comic strip.

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