Tuesday, May 31, 2005

My High School Reunion

My private school had an alumni reunion on Friday of last week. I got off work early at Sharkey's, so I decided to drop by. I'd RSVPed in advance, and I'd sort of promised the headmaster that I'd drop by, so I went.

It was at the Keg that I worked at, coincidentally, back when I was going to Maclachlan College. The reunion was small, and I didn't know most of the people there. There were a few that I did remember going to school with, as well as several teachers. Had good long chats with the headmaster, an intelligent and dignified fellow by the name of John Bailey, as well as the head of the upper school, John Ferguson, and with one of the owners of the school, Jane Hadfield. All good, and interesting, people.

There were two folks, however, who really interested me. One was a Mac dropout who was on very good terms with the school folks now. He's VP of a company that designs a piece of equipment/part for motorcycles, the name of which I can't recall. Thing is their offices are based out of Vancouver, and as some of you may, or may not, be aware my mother and step-dad are very big into sports bikes. So it was interesting to talk with this fellow, TJ, about motorcycles, and his experiences with them. Now, I grew up around motorcycles. Probably since I was 5 or 6. So I've picked up some stuff along the way. It made for good conversation.

The other one I had was with the husband of a former alumnus. I'm always happy to meet fellow British Columbians. Its my province of origin, and I feel a deep connection to it. Turns out that he's from a few towns over from me. We were born in the same hospital (though many, many decades apart). Same hospital my father was born in as well, lol. Mind that the Royal Columbian is one of only two hospitals in the Coquitlam-Port Moody-Port Coquitlam-Burnaby-New Westminster area (the other being Eagle Ridge). It's also on the main thoroughfare that runs through that area. Anyway, we had a good chat about relatives in various places....and I seem to have endeared myself to the fellow. To be honest, I'm not 100% sure how. But he gave me a business card with his home number on it and told me to look him up the next time I was in Barrie and stop by. I may just do that.

All in all it was a very enjoyable night. I even had a pint of Rickard's Red, a great beer that I don't have that often. Had a good night, overall.

I think I'll go to the alumni reunion next year. There's one every year, for any alumni who feel like coming. Ought to be fun.

Kung Fu and the Evils That Men Du

My father got me the first season of the original Kung Fu TV series just out of the blue about two weeks back. This is really the first time I've gotten around to watching anything other than the pilot.

It's an interesting show. Its from that same era that birthed MacGyver, though it lacks the energy of Richard Dean Anderson's signature series.

The martial arts are...I dunno. That really is the kung fu that I was taught. Stiff, hard, and damnably nasty. I know only a bit of kung fu, but this fits. The moves are a bit slow at times, but I think they're about the speed they need to be.

What impresses me, though, is that Caine isn't an ungodly martial arts master. He's a Shaolin monk with a decade or more of training under his belt. He's damn good...but if the show were made today, he'd be Lady Shiva good. By that I mean "I'm looking for a man name Caine. He's supposed to be the best martial artist in the world. I want to KEEEEEEEL him to prove that fact to be incorrect."

The show's slow, though. I mean its really slow sometimes. There's a lot of long, contemplative silences, and a lot of rapid, jump-cut flashbacks that are almost seizure worthy in how sharp they are. There are no soft fades or dissolves into flashbacks, but rather jarring stark cuts where one frame old Caine is standing in the desert, and the next young Caine is standing at the feet of a monk, learning how to turn people's knees into boxing posts.

My biggest problem with the show, though, is that it tries to say that 99% of the people in the world are out to beat up, rob, shoot, or coerce people into giving them what they want. Just about every Caine meets is evil, sinful, lustful, greedy, and willing to kill, rob, cheat, and steal whatever they want. Not everyone in the old west was nice, but I somehow doubt that they were all small minded villains.

Still...interesting show. I like Caine's philosophical bent to things...and I find that I do kind of agree with him. Which is sad, becuase I really don't think I should agree with anything said by any television character.

Jenny Sparks, on the other hand...Jenny is a bit of a different matter...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Best Gamma World Description EVAH!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dance with Jak o' the Shadows

Gotta say...the Wheel of Time is growing on me again. Like some kind of venomous supercancer that gives you mind control powers while it kills you, I've gotten back into the books. And I'm enjoying them.

Kind of.

I hate Rand al'Thor.

There. I've said it. I think the nominal main character of the books is a little whiny piece of shit who needs to be lobotomized and turned into a wheeled weapons platform.

Mat Cauthom and Perrin are where its at. I love characters who get through life by the seat of their pants and luck alone, and I like Perrin's weird folk hero antics. I can't stand the damn Dragon Reborn.

Mat's also the only character who really gets to sing. "Dance with Jak o' the Shadows" has got to be one of the most catchy, most entertaining fantasy songs I've ever heard. I came up with a tune to it, and its really hummable. More so than my rendition of Mercedes Lackey's "Windrider Unchained" done to the tune of "Down in the West Texas Town of El Paso".

It's also very easy to come up with new verses for, since the basic stanza form is AAAB, and the end of every stanza goes like "to dance with Jak o' the Shadows" (with slight, one word variations at the beginning such as "is" and "and", etc.). You just need to make the verses applicable to soldiers going off to fight, because that's what the song's all about.

Man, I love the image of the last remnants of an army, reforming for the final battle, and as they march towards the attacking troops they begin singing. FIrst one man, then another, then another, various men joining in in their own tune, but from the formation comes a mostly musical song. I think the variability of the verse is also to give soldiers something to think about rather than their imminent demise.

I sung this song at work tonight, and it fits quite well with my repetoire of "songs to keep me focused whilst handling a rush". It's all good.

And now I go to bed. Because I'm really, really fucking tired.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Jed and Leo

Been thinking about the West Wing recently, after a conversation with AlexanderLambert the other day.

The basic subject was this: Jed and Leo not as the President and his Chief of Staff...but as two drinking buddies. Every time that Jed is going behind Abbie's back with Leo to conspire over some political scheme, its two guys in a sitcom, going to a bar, and trying to figure out how to skip out on some "family time" with their wives this weekend in order to go fishing. You can really almost see them as just two regular guys...except Leo is NOT a drinking buddy (what with the alcoholism and AA and all that), and Jed is most definitly not a regular guy (because...y'know...he's the President).

But its an interesting way of looking at things, I think.


There's Something About Rucka

There's something about Greg Rucka. The man can write one of the most brilliant spy stories ever to appear in comics. His work as a novelist is quite interesting. He does a great little yarn about crime in the Antarctic.

The man cannot write a superhero story, from what I hear. But if the heroes of said story have official badges...man, he is fucking SMOKING.

Just finished the second Gotham Central trade today. Read it from cover to cover. Damn good shit. I am no longer pissed off that they made Renee Montoya a lesbian. Rucka presents it really tastefully...and Maggie Sawyer takes a sympathetic role. And it highlights the differences between being an immigrant lesbian from a heavily Catholic family, and being outed at work...and being a highly placed, highly respected lesbian who has Superman's full support. And also the differences between the cops in Metropolis, who tend to respect each other on general principle because...hey...they're all cops...and if they don't respect each other, Dan Turpin's coming back from whatever grave/retirement resort/office he's currently been confined to, to smack them all upside the head and remind them that he didn't save all their asses from Kalibak for nothing.

But in Gotham...in Gotham you get respect because you're a damn good cop. And even then, there's massive rivalry between the different precincts and sections. And everyone hates the MCU, because they're Gordon's little brownnosers. Because almost everyone single person there was handpicked by Jim Gordon...and if you didn't like the Comish, for one reason or another (he liked Harvey Bullock, he was the Batman's friend, he gave up being a cop after being shot), that gives you a damn good reason to dislike them. Not to mention the fact that people in the Gotham PD are honestly precjudicial on a variety of lines...just like regular people.

It just...it makes for an interesting story. I'm really digging it.

...but his Wonder Woman stuff, I hear, just ain't so good. Pity.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

In the Sky, Its a Bird, It's a Plane, No It's...More Radio Dramas!

Been listening to some more radio stuff that Steve gave me. Some Sam Spade, some Saint, and some superhero stuff. Superman and Spiderman. They're decent stuff. The voice acting on them is hilarious, though.

The Superman stuff is all on the Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. Its nice stuff. Superboy's voice is grating, and I personally think he sounds like a surfer dude moonlighting on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"...but the others are decent. Lois Lane's voice actor is damnably good, though, and does about an equal job to Dana Delaney on the animated stuff. The guy doing Luther I does a fair job, but it comes off, continually, as if he's trying to do Clancey Brown's really rough voice...and failing. Still, its OK I suppose. Overall the script's not too bad, aside from my problems with Superboy. It makes use of the JLA, and makes mention of a lot of old DC stories and Superman adventures, which is nice as it opens up the greater DCU for the story.

The Spiderman stuff is a bit rocky at first, but it gets into gear pretty quickly. The use of the Fantastic Four is nice. As in the Superman stuff, this makes it clear that Spiderman exists in a full wide world of superheroes and villains. Not as good as Superman, the dialogue's a bit schlocky at times (especially from the mouths of the FF), but otherwise passable.

Which reminds me that I need to pick up the scriptbook for the original Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Way too little sleep...


Six horizontal panels running down the page.

Panel 1

JOE, a fat Italian guy in a white t-shirt covered in sweat and baking flower, wearing a blue and white striped apron around his waist. He has curly black hair, piggy little eyes, and at least two and a half chins. His skin color appears to be bright red...but he's also tired, overworked, and way too hot. In the background are some pizza ovens, and VINNY, a skinny Italian kid in his twenties wearing a white polo shirt and black jeans, sitting in a shitty white, plastic lawn chair with his running shoed feet kicked up on a counter. There is a phone on the counter beside JOE, who appears to be kneading dough.

1 SFX (from phone): "RING RING!"

Panel 2

JOE, on the phone.

1 JOE: "Joe's 24 Hour Pizza Delivery."

2 PHONE (electric, but the words are kind of crooked on the page): "Want...pizza..."

3 JOE: "What kind've pizza?"

4 PHONE: "..."

Panel 3

Same as last.

1 PHONE: "...Meat...pizza..."

2 JOE: "You want the Meat Special?"

3 PHONE: "Want...meat...pizza..."

Panel 4


1 JOE: "How many you want?"

2 PHONE: "...lots..."

3 JOE: "I got your number on call display. 891 Chestnut?"

4 PHONE: "..."

Panel 5

Same, but now VINNY is scribbling something down on some paper in the background.

1 PHONE: "...yes. Want...meat...pizza...now."

2 JOE: "Twenty minutes or its free!"


Panel 6

JOE, turning to VINNY.

1 JOE: "Hey, Vinny! We got some stoners ordering pizza."

2 VINNY: "I'm on it. They sound baked enough to tip well?"

3 JOE: "Vinny, they sounded baked enough to buy you a fucking Rolls for tip."


A splash page. The PHONE-BOOTH ZOMBIE (PBZ) is standing at a telephone in the front hall of a suburban home. The front door is swinging wide open. MOM'S body is hung over the railing, she's missing some pieces, and there are flies on her.

The PBZ is a rotting corpse of a man of indeterminate age, standing about 6 feet or so high. Its hunched over, wearing a rotting suit that might have once been nice, but it looks like PBZ was buried in it. In one half rotting hand is clenched half a dozen takeout menus, and in the other is the handset for a touch-tone phone that's sitting on the hallway table in front of the zombie. There are another three or four takeout menus on the table, crumpled up...the top-most of which is for JOE'S 24 HOUR PIZZA DELIVERY. The PBZ is currently holding "WONG'S LATE NIGHT CHINESE".

The phone is up to PBZ'S ear. Its mouth is open, revealing missing teeth, and a rather sizeable portion of missing cheek and jaw. One eye has no lid and hangs out of the face slightly. It has no eyebrows, or lashes. Its nose is sunken deep into its face, and its oily black hair is only in sporadic patches of remaining scalp.

1 PHONE (electric): "Wong's Late Night Chinese."

2 PBZ (scraggly word balloons and disjoined letters, like page 1): "Want...number 3...special..."

3 PBZ (linked): "...driver..."

The Phone-Booth Zombie is intellectual property of Derek Burrow, as created May 20, 2005.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In response to those who ask why I just don't draw my own comics...

...I direct you to this.

The work in question was my grade 8 art project. A RIFTS comic strip entitled "Duh-Wain: The Yokel Wizard". Don't ask me where its set, don't ask me what the characters' motivations are...I don't have the slightest clue. I found the sheaf of papers this was scanned from in my closet last week, and figured that, online, someone might get a laugh out of them.

But I'll tell you this: Brian Michael Bendis I am not.

Never been much of an artist. In theory this is for the same reason that I'm never going to win any calligraphy contests. I'm told by an occupational therapist that I hold my pen in such a way that it puts large amounts of stress onto my entire arm, where the force and pressure is absorbed along my wrists and forearms rather than my hand. It also means that I print, rather than write, and that the levil of legibility is about what you see therein.

...thus my non-photographic work tends to be a bit...errrm...yeah. See the above link. I really haven't improved much in the last 7 or 8 years.

This is why I seek artists for my scripts.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I found my frelling sunglasses

I'm photo sensitive, visually speaking. Not really to anything else but sunlight, but bright sunlight basically sends me stumbling around. Which is why my sunglasses are as dark as Hakim Optical is legally allowed to make them.

So when I lost them last Wednesday after work, it was tragic. Thankfully this weekend was very overcast, so I didn't really need them. Today I found them...Rich, owner of the Comic Connection, the local comic store, had found them after I bought my books last Wednesday. And he gave them back to me today when I came in to pick up a copy of Jinx by Brian Michael Bendis.

So I have sunglasses again, without having to shell out nearly a hundred bucks for new ones. Thank. Fucking. God!

Saturday, May 14, 2005


I find something very interesting about CSI. I take a great deal of enjoyment out of crime fiction...to a point.

I'm not big on mystery novels. I honestly lack the patience for reading 600 pages of how Old Missus Wilderburn realizes that the sweet young man who visited her at the nursing home was killed becuase he was in a complicated love triangle with the duty nurse and the star quarterback of his high school football team. There are a few that I can stand, but honestly I much prefer shorter, self contained mysteries like Sherlock Holmes.

I love Holmes. I have a special place in my heart for intelligent Victorian assholes who use their knowledge for the good of society, and Holmes fits that bill perfectly. I have a full paperback copy of The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes that has travelled with me for the past four or five years...possibly longer. I'm going to take it to Oxford with me. The stories are a bit wordy, but I quite enjoy them.

Similarly, I enjoy crime comics. There ain't a lot out there, but I like seeing cops in action in the pages of sequential art.

Finally...I like cop shows. Cop shows are, with a few exceptions, the ultimate episodicly-based TV show. Cop shows seldom have complicated arcs, and crimes seldom bridge from one episode to another. You can pick up the remote, flip in 15 minutes into an episode, and still be able to understand the plot.

But I also like clever cop shows. Ones where the investigators use their intelligence to figure out crimes rather than throwing some punk into the interrogation room and playing good cop/bad cop (though I also enjoy seeing that as well).

Which is where CSI comes in. Not only is it a show in which I can buy the second season, never watch the first, and already know everything I need to know, but its one that I don't have to pay a lot of attention to on the TV to enjoy...and its one where I can watch a few episodes, then go watch a more arc based show, like La Femme Nikita or The West Wing, come back to it two weeks later and not feel like I have to rewatch anything to get back into the groove.

I've got a bunch of cash on me, so I think I'm going to grab Bendis' crime comic, Jinx today. Get my crime fix on.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Customer Appreciation

So...I cashed in some 24,000 iRewards points from my VISA and got $200 worth of Future Shop gift cards. They finally arrived yesterday...and today I got the day off work. So I went down to cash them in.

So I walked out of Future Shop with the second season of La Femme Nikita, the second season of CSI (minding that I don't have the first season, but its episodic enough that I can watch it without watching the previous season), National Treasure, and the first two episodes of The Pretender. I really don't know much about the last show, but it was cheap to pick up the first two episodes, and there's a $10 rebate if I actually decide to purchase the entire show. Its got a neat sounding concept, so I decided to give it a go.

I also managed to get the inside booklet for the fourth season of The West Wing. Apparently there was a long run of the boxed sets that weren't packaged with the booklets that describe just which episodes are on which disc. So Future Shop has a stack of them by the cash register so you can grab them if you need them.

So today was a good day. I also got a four bottle case of Strongbow cider, and a buger at Lick's. For those who aren't familiar with Lick's, it's a Canadian burger joint, started actually right here in Oakville, Ontario. They do some damnably good burgers. Fresh grilled and all that stuff. Truly delicious. And there ain't none in Toronto, so I have to come out to Oakville to get my fix.

Overall, its been a pretty damn good day. With movies!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Everytime I Think I'm Safe, Nature Finds New Ways to Scare Me

So I was riding my bike back from work today and decided to take a scenic shortcut along a ravene path behind some houses, thus avoiding the street and also getting some flatter ground.

Whilst riding, I startled some ducks, one of whom seemed to be desperatly trying to help the other into the bushes. I thought, at first, the poor duck had got its beak stuck in something, and moved to help. No, it had its beak stuck in the head of another duck. My next thought was, "Poor thing, I didn't know ducks cried over last mates". My third realization is, "Jesus...get a room, you three!"

Yeah. It is, apparently, mating season for the humble mallard. And they're noisy. My GOD are they noisy. And apparently promiscuous. Forget screwing like rabbits...the ducks seem to be getting ALL the lovin'!

::sigh:: Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the forest, Mother Nature tries to frighten me again. I really could have gone a long time without seeing two ducks going at it. Honestly.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tales from the Way Down (Part 4)

"There is no 'bad-ass' in Mimir"

Tom'o'Troubles' money went a long way for Mimir and Judas Janet in those early days. They had booze. They had tables and chairs. They even had a proper bar, and Mimir had a good shave. What they needed now were customers, and that was going to be a problem.

The occult underground of Necropolis had three major locations. Tom'o'Troubles' house, home to the magic mafia was one. The Grimoire Arcanum, the bookshop owned by Lady Vapour's cult, was another. And the Aleister Arms was the third. And the Aleister Arms owner was not a good man to mess with.

Nick Scratch was a magician. He wasn't a weekend occultist, or a cultist of the odd. He was an honest-to-god sorcerer, and he loved it. Whenever Necropolis moved, Nick Scratch felt it in his bones. Politicians came to him for donations first, sometimes before they came to Tom'o'Troubles. No one ever did a health check on his bar. He never bought a liquor liscence. He was the enemy of Tom'o'Troubles. He was the self styled Lord of Necropolis.

...and Judas Janet and Mimir desperatly needed his customers.

In those days there were only the two of them. Before Lady Vapour came on board and brought her cult with her. Before Morningstar brought his band, the Fallen, in for nightly shows. Hell, even before Dominica, Bianca, Samantha, and Marissa, the Agony Sisters, started waiting tables.

Since Mimir couldn't leave the Way Down, it was up to Judas Janet to start gathering friends. So that's how she ended up at the Aleister Arms one night. From the outside it looked like a pub. Old gabeled rooves. Low, thick windows with wooden shutters. And the sign hanging over the door, a bad picture of an old, bald, fat man dressed all in black.

But inside...

If people went to have house parties and broker for power at Tom'o'Trouble's house...

If people went to plunge into the depths of dark knowledge at the Grimoire Arcanum...

..if people did those things in those sacred houses, they came to the Arms to party without strings. Bodies pounded in the flashing lights. Leather and lace. Satin and silk. Robes, dresses, skirts, shirts, belts...no one dressed exactly the same. The DJ was Rob Chaos, in whose hands Mozart was distorted into perverse anarchy. The man tending bar was One-Eyed Jack, an old friend of Mimir's (pre-decapitation).

And standing on a balcony overlooking it all, in his old leather jacket, rumbled silk shirt, and faded jeans was Nick Scratch. He drank absinth like it was mother's milk. He smoked black ciggarettes that burnt flame and smoke of indecent colors. He sat on a throne carved from black wood. And if everyone in the room were a puppet, he held all the strings.

But Judas Janet was no man's puppet. She glided through the crowd like an uncanny fish. She could almost see the lines connecting people to Nick Scratch's hands. She had her own bubble, though. The light caught the piercings, touched her face in odd ways. Her eyes, still red and black, her face with just a hint of the corpse dust smile. She'd taken a hit before she came, she needed it. The music killed the ghosts of past love. She didn't need torment right now: she needed insight.

She sought out the connectors. The independent ones who knew people. The people dancing there who weren't attached to Nick Scratch's strings. She gathered them like a flock of sheep. She took them out of the Aleister Arms for coffee, and she told them about Mimir's dream. Under dingy lights, at a corner table, Judas Janet told them about the Way Down; The lowest point in Necropolis. And she told them about its owner; the man who carried the golden's curse. She told them about dreams and nightmares, of gods and monsters. She told them about the place's power, its freedom.

And she told them to bring their friends. Lady Vapour had her cult, and the Grimoire Arcanum was free posting ground for the occult underground. Morningstar's band had its followers. And the others at the table were the heads of their cliques and societies. Where they led, others would follow.

But back at the Way Down, things weren't quite so hunky dory. Nick Scratch didn't like competition in the business of magic bars. And he was territorial about what was his, to boot. So the night wasn't too old before a couple of his thugs took the way down to the Way Down, and decided to have a personal chat with Mimir.

They found him sitting at a table, reading the cards. A bottle of rye at his elbow, a joint in the ash tray, and the cards laid out before him. He told them that he knew they'd come, and that he was not going to give Nick Scratch his due. His dream was not for sale, either in the currency of coin or the currency of pain.

They didn't take too kindly to that. So they upturned the table, threw him up against the wall, and threatened to take out his stitches; one at a time. Mimir tried to fight them, but as many will attest, Mimir is not a bad-ass. He's not a heavy, hell the man can barely hold his own in a knife fight. But he can take a beating with the best of them, and that's what he did. They left him on the ground, beaten and bleeding, trashed the Way Down a bit and left. They told him not to mess with old Nick Scratch.

Shortly after, when his broken bones began to set themselves, and the golden's curse began to go back into effect, Judas Janet returned, and she brought friends.

They were angry when they saw what Nick Scratch had done. They were angry, and they wanted revenge.

That's how the Way Down got its first patrons. But the story of their revenge on Nick Scratch, and the ascendence of the Way Down, is a story for another time.

NEXT: "The Vaporous Revenge of the Way Down" (OR "Devils on the Head of a Pin" or "Revenge Served Cold, Over Ice, With a Twist")

Monday, May 09, 2005

First Day, BAH!

So I started back at Sharkey's this morning at 9am. Got up at 8. For me this is The Hour That Does Not Exist. I don't believe in any hour earlier than 11am, so this is kind of like entering the Magical Elf-Land for me.

It was OK, though. Time flew by.

Sharkey's is what I call a Corporate Kitchen. Everything is perfectly portioned out ahead of time, everything is precisely accounted for, and there are lots of sheets to fill out every day. I'm not big on this kind of kitchen, but it works.

Il Posto is honestly more enjoyable, I think, and I don't mind the longer shifts there. Sharkey's is both a bit more fun, as everything there speaks English as a native language, and honestly most of the staff are closer to my age, or at least my cultural origins. But at the same time, the guys at Il Posto are like old friends, and the kitchen there is something that I underestand a lot better. Its fast, its decently fun, and its very focused on the food, whereas at Sharkey's there at a lot of focus on procedure.

Anyway, enough griping. I'm back in tomorrow morning, assuming it doesn't rain. We shall see what we shall see.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Back in the Ville of Oak

I'm back in my old room. Which is slowly being upgraded. The bed now has my normal comforter and linens on it, rather than the stuff that's been on there for the past two years while I've been away being all big city university chef.

Last summer I rented a room out of a frat house for four months. Most depressing time of my life. Internet was shoddy, the people were a mix of frat boys and weird folk who were looking for cheap housing (it took me two weeks to realize that the sounds I heard from the other room weren't rats in the walls but rather the guy's dog). Some of them were nice, but really I just had NOTHING in common with most of them. I think home will be much less depressing; the hours at Sharkey's are a bit more flexible and a bit less insane than Il Posto, so I may actually have a life. Also, Ryon, from my DC Heroes game, and I are going to be hanging out a lot while I'm on my breaks on Thursdays this summer (working one day a week at Il Posto still), which means I'll get a large amount of intelligent human contact with people who I don't work with.

I'm in the process of moving my two normal pictures onto the walls, replacing the large number of flower prints that my parents put up (which are being replaced by a picture of this great Freeman Patterson shot of a cresting wave, and a water color of Vancouver in 1988 or 83 or something like that). I've still got a bunch of boxes to unpack, and I'm in the process of reorganizing my shelves. Becuase I reread so few of the books on them, the books are being put in where my comics currently are. My comics are going where the books are. My gaming library has also expanded by a full two extra shelves. My superhero RPG books alone take up an entire shelf of space, and the other shelf has been dedicated to nWoD and Exalted.

Tomorrow I'm doing some series renovations. My pipe heads and my calligraphy display are getting a place of prominence (a different one, as my Royal Common Wealth Society Essay Competition award is where they used to be). Also going to probably borrow my dad's HUGE CD binder (stores 250 or so, I think), which he never used, as he never got around to filling it up and then went out and got an iPod.

Speaking of iPods, I went over to the house of a friend of mine today. Steve Illot is one of those guys who's done fucking EVERYTHING. He's a black belt in karate, he worked at the CBC for a damn long time, he's done architectural planning, he's a genius with Photoshop and Illustrator, he knows so fucking much about movies and music and television that it just boggles me, AND he has one of the weirdest niche jobs in the world. He declutters people's houses. I don't know how he does it, but he works his feng shui mojo and somehow manages to make people's houses liveable. He's also managed to accumulate enough junk in his house to make Jack Knight happy. Anyway, I stopped by Steve's today and picked up his huge binder of CDs, mostly radio dramas and books on tape. I'm in the process of burning a whole shitload of stuff onto my iPod. I think I'll do 3 gigs, maybe. Then leave the rest open for future music.

Now I go back to unpacking. A very unenthusiastic "yay".

Friday, May 06, 2005

A final post from Victoria College

I'm leaving Vic in a couple minutes, thought I'd make a final post from my residence.

It's been a good year. I learned a lot last year that helped me this year, and I also learned a lot of new tricks. I learned how to manage a half credit course, I learned how to balance school and a job, and I learned that the speed if light is never relative to the observer.

I love university. And it warms my heart that I only have to wait 3 months this time before going back, rather than 4. In two and a half months I'm going to England, and will be spending August there being educated at beautiful Jesus College.

Until that time I'm working my ass off. Looks like at Sharkey's, unless Barkman's or Seasons calls me back with something astoundingly cool and immediate.

I'm going to spend the summer studying. Studying the books on writing comics. Comics and Sequential Art, Understanding Comics, The Powers Scriptbook, The Queen & Country Scriptbook, and The Demo Scriptbook, as well as the Buffy stuff.

I'm also thinking of putting together a bi-weekly Wheel of Time d20 game. I have a hankering to run it.

And now I must go.

There will be more postings coming from the Oakville house's wireless network.

But for now, I big adieu to Victoria for another year. I shall see her in the fall.

50 Minute Exam Mojo

I finished my Greek exam in less than an hour. This is a new record for me. I've found this course to be relativly easy, previous posts aside, due to the fact that it builds directly off the course I struggled with last semester (struggling because it directly bordered onto the only time I was able to get lunch at the dining hall). But the exam was EASY. I don't expect to get perfect, but I think I'm getting an 80 in this course. I hope. My math is bad, so I may have miscaculated the weighting of previous tests.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Tales from the Way Down (part 4)


This chapter has temporarily been removed for a bit of touch up editing. It will be returned tomorrow with a couple additional paragraphs and a bit more with the sense making.

That is all. Carry on, citizen.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

ATTN: Bard searches for artist for online comic!

I've posted a thread on the White Wolf Trinity Universe Forums searching for an artist for the Aberrant comic stuff I've been doing lately. I may need to sit on the current project for a day or two...not 100% sure where to go from where I am (the pitful amount of work known as "the end of page 3"). I'm looking for an artist for said project.

If you are interested, email me at derek.burrow@utoronto.ca or message me on AOL Instant Messanger under my handle "Narxn" and we'll chat.

I'm in talks with Ian Watson from over at Continuing the Continuum to see if we can
a) root out an artist willing to work on the project
and b) get it published online through CtheC.

The second is almost a done deal. Its the first part that's the problem. I really wish I knew more artists. Thinking on it, I know musicians, masons, magicians, writers, storytellers, professors, TAs...and no bloody artists. I may try to farm out my genius at my high school reunion later this month, as I went to school with some damnably talented artists. Some may well be interested in the entertaining artform of sequential art.

One more exam

There is only one more exam to go. THe good news is, I think I'm doing very well in that course. The bad news is, its the one I'm the least sure about. The prof's expectations are a touch on the wonky side, but her tests aren't THAT bad. So I'm a bit worried. Exams this term were a bit harder than the last ones, for a variety of reasons. Let us pray.

Inspiration ex Bendis

Bendis gave an example on Sunday of how a 12 year old would try to script a page about Captain America coming home, getting undressed, getting a beer, and then going to the bathroom. Mind that in his description said 12 year old would often try to describe all that in one panel (my immediate response to this was to start trying to consider one of those 4-D or 5-D theoretical shapes, the ones you just don't have the dimensions to express).

Just the image of some superhero coming home, throwing off his super suit, getting a beer, and going to the john is something I HAVE to use at some point. Because its just damnably amusing.

::strokes beard thoughtfully:: Hmm. Yes. I have a project to slot that into. Actually, its a project that also incorporates the three page script I wrote up on Saturday.

And it all works into trying to do an Aberrant comic.

Heh. 3AM logic.

Now...would that page work better as a 9 panel page, or a series of five vertical panels, cutting up an identical background, with each panel representing a different stage of movement across that background? I've really become enamoured with the second. Its not something I want to use often (god knows I used it twice in a short, 6 page Aberrant script I wrote), but I've always liked it as page composition. I think I used it in WWD as well.

More advice from Bendis: if you get writer's block, shove it in a drawer for a few weeks and dig it out again. Sometimes shove it away for several months. Mull it over.

Some of the best damn advice I've ever heard to alleviate writer's block. The other was Ellis', which basically boiled down to doing six things at once so writer's block on one wasn't really much of an issue on the other five.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Toronto ComicCon: Day 2

Got up early this morning, awakened by the sound of bagpipes and marching bands. I was reminded that, by this time last year, I was moving out of residence (its the same annual policeman's memorial parade).

Could barely eat anything this morning. No clue why. My stomach just wasn't up to it.

Arrived at the convention about half an hour early. I think I've got the TTC timing to Exhibition place down to a science: it takes half an hour, almost on the dot. So I wandered, and took in the last third of a round table discussion on writing comics. Which is where Surprise of the Day Number One occured.

He wasn't on the guest list. He wasn't in the promo material. There were no signs advertising his coming.

It was fucking Joe Michael Strazinscky. The creator of Babylon 5 and Rising Stars himself. In the flesh. Really articulate guy. And he's BIG. I mean, Ellis is wide. And Bendis is short. JMS is taller than I am. It was really something. But also a nice guy. All these people are nice guys, I'm finding. I got a picture of me with him, which rocks. I also gushed for a few minutes about my massive fandom for B5 and RS...in retrospect not my greatest moment, but I was just kind of in awe.

Then came Bendis' workshop on writing comics. He arrived a few minutes before it began, just as the panel was breaking up. He looked exhausted, and I commented as such to him. He said that yeah, he was. We chatted for just a little bit, then I followed JMS out, which is where the above paragraph occurs. After I got my pictures I returned to the room, sat down, dug out my laptop, and started with the note taking.

The workshop was REALLY useful. As in 1900+ words useful. I took down a lot of notes from it. On the downside, I need to find an artist. I need to find a GOOD artist. I need to find said individual if I ever hope to really get something like PB, or Ascent, or WWD submitted professionally. Such a damn shame, to, though. But I think I can probably scrounge one up if I start looking. Bendis also commented that the big companies ARE looking, despite appearing as if they discourage it. They don't have enough writers, and those they do are stretched thin, but on the flipside their editors offices are crowded with unopened manila envelopes sent in by 12 year old who just saw LoEG and think they're the next Alan Moore. Bendis advice, thus, was to get an artist, at least for your first pitch, until they know your name. This is very similar to what a good friend of mine, Fiona Kelleghan told me once, which was that you just have to keep sending your work in to a place till they know your name and feel obliged to at least take a peek at SOMETHING.

But yeah, the workshop was great. There were amusing and useful questions, and personal anectdotes from Bendis. He's a really fun guy. A bit weird, but fun. And definitly not as upfront-bastard-abrasive as Warren Ellis.

...who I also saw today. I had a one or two minute chat with him regarding exactly where he's from in England, as his accent is similar, as I think I remarked previously, to some of the London folk I know, as well as a chef I worked with a couple years back.

In further odd meetings, I happened to get a chance to speak with the creator of the Joker (also got a picture of him). Jerry Robinson, I think his name is. Nice guy. Old, but nice. His art has this sketch-style, and his Joker sketches are very reminiscent to Frank Miller's work on Dark Knight Returns.

I had another short chat with Willow Dawson, and the guys in the booth beside her. The guy wrote a book called "Drive", which is set in Vegas. In honor of this, he called up a friend of his who's a magician. This guy was the shit. I'm not a big fan of card tricks, but this guy knew his stuff. He's been a professional magician for 9 years or so now, and he played me for a total rube. It was great. Its reviving my desire to tell the stories of the Quatrain Brothers again (a story that I never got around to properly researching about a trio of brothers who also happen to be stage magicians).

Dropped by numerous booths. There was a guy with a book called "Electric Freakout" or something of that sort, who spoke with this weird, pseudo-Southern accent that I THINK was an affectation for this sideshow barker-routine he was pulling to try and hawk his book. Also went by some booths with FANTASTIC art. Didn't buy anything, but I picked up a lot of business cards, some of which have some wonderful bits and bobs on them. Also sat down at a plastic table for about 10 minutes or so and did a page and a bit of Ascent. The story's there in my head, but the pacing of the first issue is a bit wonky, becuase I want to pack a LOT into it but still leave the reader able to understand it. I'm thinking I may have to rework the pacing of the series itself, where each issue is and suchlike.

I dropped by B. Clay Moore's table. He's an Image writer who did Battlehymn and some book about Hawaii who's name I can't remember. Battlehmyn, though, is a funky little WWII superheroes book, so I pointed him towards taking a look at GODLIKE. I also, somehow, managed to convince him to give me a free issue of Battlehymn, possibly by flipping through it to the end. He felt I might as well have it for free if I'd already read the end.

More interesting in the conversation with Mr. Moore was in regards to how to pitch books to Image. First, they only accept works that are creator owned and have both script AND art. They don't shop around for artists for a given script. He said just to follow the stuff on their site and do that. Bendis commented earlier that Image is looking to sell comics, rather than line their pockets, so they're a good company to look at. Though if you have an artist and you have a script, and you can put it all together, you can submit virtually ANYWHERE. Good advice.

I got a few pictures before I left. One of Willow Dawson (who I think I shall keep in contact with, along with a few other folks I met), a few sweeps of the con floor, and that sort of thing. I will upload them all, eventually.

This was the end to a great weekend. Now I study for my exam on Thursday, and shop around for jobs this week. This convention was the proverbial calm before the storm.

On the other hand, I know that I'm DEFINITLY going to go to the con next year, if this is the sort of thing that comes up during it. Because this was really worth it.

For those that wish, I will email notes from Ellis and Bendis' sessions. I have more extensive notes from Bendis, as I had my laptop and was thus typing away like it was a typical university class. For Ellis, I just have memorable quotes and some basic points.

A script fragment I came up with whilst waiting in line for Ellis today

I sketched out three rough panels for the beginning of a superfight at a comic convention today whilst waiting in line to get Ellis' signature.

This is probably going to be put into something at some point. Or possibly not. A Project Beowulf assignment that ends up occuring at a comic con would be a laugh riot of cliched weirdness.


Five horizontal panels, going down the page.

Panel 1

MATT NOBLEM, sitting against a black background, at a table. There's a bottle of water beside him. On the table opposite the water are several stacks of comic books. MATT has a full head of black hair, and vibrantly blue eyes. His face is strong and handsome, though his chin is just a bit weak. He is clean shaven, and wearing a black sweatshirt with the "MC COMICS" logo on it. Behind him on the black background is a white sign that says, simply, "MATTHEW NOBLEM (limit 10 comics per person)". MATT is leaning over a bit, signing a comic in front of him.

1 MATT: "...I don't really know where I got the idea for issue number 9 from. It just seemed like a good idea at the time."

Panel 2

From over the table and MATT'S POV. A long line of people stretching across a convention floor. Around the floor there are other people milling about, and various other booths and tables doing brisk business. FANBOY, a tall, geeky looking white guy in his late 20s, is standing there proferring a small stack of single issue comics.

1 FANBOY: "Wow. It was SO good. I really enjoyed it, Mister Noblem."

Panel 3

MATT, still signing. His head is down, he's not looking up.

1 MATT: "Thanks. I'm always happy to hear from fans."

2 MATT: "Next!"

Panel 4

Back on the convention floor, same POV as panel 2. RED SERPENT is standing there, where FANBOY was a minute ago. SERPENT is about seven feet tall, and broad like the Hulk, covered in bright red and black scales, with big lizard ears, fangs, a forked tongue, and a shoved in nose. He's wearing ripped black jeans and little else. He's sneering at the reader.

1 SERPENT: "Prepare to end this here, Excelsior!"

Panel 5

MATT, looking up. He's still absently signing a book in front of him.

1 MATT: "I'm guessing you're not a fan-"


A full splash page. MATT, sailing through a white-painted cinderblock wall into what looks like a convention building hallway. There are a few bystanders looking shocked as he flies through. Through the hole in the wall we can see SERPENT still swinging his fist, not having finished the momentum that went into the blow. People behind him are starting to run for cover.



Four panels. The first two are a pair of squares at the top of the page, taking up maybe a quarter of its vertical height. The third panel takes up the middle two quarters of the page, and the last is a centered square panel taking up the bottom vertical quarter.

Panel 1

MATT, getting up off the ground. His clothes are amazingly unharmed (he's also wearing loose black jeans). He's on his knee, holding himself up with one hand while the other massages his jaw. There is rubble scattered around him.

1 MATT (small): "Normally my critics are a bit less literal with the abuse..."

Panel 2

MATT, standing up, still massaging his jaw with his right hand, while his left is reaching under his sweat shirt to begin pulling it off.

1 MATT: "OK, you've made your point and caused some property damage. Can we call it a day now?"

Panel 3

SERPENT, climbing through the hole in the wall that he punched MATT through. His bulk takes up most of the hole, so we can't see whats going on behind him.

1 SERPENT: "Face me, Excelsior! I, not you, am the mightiest being on this planet!"

Panel 4

MATT, pulling up his sweat shirt with both hands. Its at about his upper chest, revealing blue and yellow spandex underneath with that familiar E-X symbol on it.

1 MATT: "Look, I really have no clue what your beef is here."

2 MATT: "But, since I really don't see us solving this with logic...we'll try it your way."