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(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor, and by Thebes.)

Been watching a lot of films lately (not the most summery activity, but we've had a lot of rain), so I thought I'd do a quick round-up.Here we go:

Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (Ray Greene, 2001). An enjoyable and informative documentary about one of the key eras of exploitation film — 50s/60s American exploitation. I wish it had been an hour longer so it could've covered the 70s and 80s, but you can't get everything. Good documentary, highly recommended.

La morte vivante (Jean Rollin, 1982). From US exploitation to French ditto. In this Rollin classic, Catherine (Françoise Blanchard) is raised from the dead by a toxic spill, and she returns to her old home, where, protected by her childhood "blood sister", Hélène (Marina Pierro), she goes on a killing spree. This could have been Rollin's masterpiece, his Vampyros Lesbos, if he'd only dropped the silly gore, lost most of the dialogue, and focused solely on the tragic and eerily beautiful relationship between Catherine and Hélène. As it is, I still very much liked the film, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're an exploitation fan and thus used to overlooking the schlocky parts and focusing on the interesting ones.

Barbed Wire Dolls (Jess Franco, 1975). Good God, Franco's made a lot of crap. This one stars his muse, Lina Romay, as Maria, who is falsely imprisoned for murdering her father, after which the standard Franco women-in-prison stuff ensues — lots of nudity, torture, and piss poor dialogue. No recommendation, except for the Franco completists.

* * *

That is all. Be seeing you. And remember: Despite their rat-like appearance, carnies are kings among men.

  • Listening to: Akhnaten
  • Reading: Helen in Egypt
  • Watching: Saxondale

Things and stuff

Mon Mar 30, 2009, 7:30 AM

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

For some reason my new 360 won't play video or load DLC unless I'm connected to Xbox Live. Weird. And Mirror's Edge wouldn't let me create an EA account (a concept which, by itself, is fucking annoying; I pay for an Xbox Live account — let me use that, please) because I'm "too young". What the hell? Burnout Paradise gave me no such problems. Though defaulting to 48 minute days is an — interesting choice.

I haven't seen Watchmen, yet, but great maker the game is boring. I liked it better when it was called Double Dragon.

Mirror's Edge was not at all what I thought it would be. Talk about your good-concept-poor-execution. It's like they took a perfectly good first-person parkour game and decided, no, that's not nearly annoying enough; let's make it linear and fill it with people trying to shoot you. Because god knows wall-running and jumping off fucking roofs isn't exciting enough. Well, at least it's visually interesting.

I've finally finished the Mass Effect DLC, "Bring Down the Sky" (my old 360 died around the time it came out): that was sure a waste of 800 MS points. The big problem with ME (in my view) was that the side-quests were all pretty much the same: land on some planet, ride around in the MACO shooting stuff, enter a building, shoot people. So, naturally, I thought BioWare would realise that and make up for it with their first DLC. How wrong I was. Up until the last part, it's pretty much exactly the same as all the other side-quests. Here's a tip, BioWare: the best part of Mass Effect was the story (which in itself is an interesting topic), so why not expand on that in your episodic content?

On an slightly related note: what the hell is it with BioWare games and the Tower of Hanoi? Actually, what is it with computers/power systems/&c in video games in general? Who the hell designs a power-system where you have to solve a math puzzle to transfer systems to the secondary power supply? See also:….

* * *

xork recommends: Penny Arcade TV (follow Mr. Krahulik's twitter to get notified when he's broadcasting).

* * *

That is all. Be seeing you. And remember: Despite their rat-like appearance, carnies are kings among men.

  • Listening to: Frida Hyvönen
  • Reading: The Gravedigger's Daughter
  • Watching: Battlestar Galactica

Yes, It's the List

Thu Jan 1, 2009, 6:04 AM

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Once again, the year in review:


  • The Dark Knight.
  • Hamlet 2.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  • WALL·E.
  • The Wrestler.
  • Films I've yet to see but which I have high hopes for: Gran Torino; Frost/Nixon; Synecdoche, New York; Changeling.

DVDs (ones I've bought this year, not necessarily ones released this year):

  • Christopher Guest Collection (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman); Dark City; Cube; INLAND EMPIRE; May; Stargate: The Ark of Truth; Stargate: Continuum; Tegan & Sara: It's Not Fun, Don't Do It.


  • The Breeders – Mountain Battles.
  • Duffy – Rockferry.
  • Kaki King – Dreaming of Revenge.
  • Ladytron – Velocifero.
  • She & Him – Volume One.
  • Tegan and Sara – I'll Take the Blame (EP).

Books (as usual, not necessarily released this year, just books I've liked this year):

  • Aase Berg – Hos rådjur, Mörk materia.
  • James Tiptree, Jr (Alice Sheldon) – Her Smoke Rose Up Forever.

* * *

That is all. Be seeing you. And remember: Despite their rat-like appearance, carnies are kings among men.

  • Listening to: Nebraska
  • Reading: 91:an
  • Watching: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

SundayMondaySong + JCE

Mon Dec 22, 2008, 11:23 AM

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

Journal CSS Editor update: as you may, or may not, have noticed, dA's introduced customisable user-pages (called, I believe, "Gruze", because that's the class-name added to the body of customisableised user pages). This has also brought some changes to how Journal CSS is displayed: most noticeably, dA generates different HTML depending on whether you use pre-gruze journal class-names (.journalbox, .journaltext, &c; replaced in gruze by .box, .text, &c) or not. (Oddly enough, pre-gruze CSS journals still get the new li class="f a" background colour on gruze user pages.) There are now three distinct types of Journal CSS:  sleek, sleek-on-a-gruze-user-page, and gruze.

So, to make a long story short: I've updated JCE, so it'll match deviantART's behaviour. It probably doesn't behave 100% like deviantART, but it's close enough. It will automagically detect what type of CSS a journal uses when you fetch it, and you can also turn gruze-support on/off with a new checkbox (but please note: even if you have the "Gruze" checkbox checked, JCE will generate sleek-on-a-gruze-user-page HTML if you use sleek classnames; this is a feature).

As usual, report any bugs you encounter; either by note to me, or to

Now, back to our regular scheduled programming:

* * *

Some more quick notices:

  • Been playing around with Erratic 2, a randomising drum sample player. Pretty cool.
  • Also been playing around with Vocaloid. The results of my experiment: Inconclusive.
  • I've got this VST synth that emulates a C64. I should never be allowed to use it.
  • This user page customising thing is pretty nifty. Though I had to turn off beta-testing to delete a journal, because there are no more delete/edit links on the journal-editing page.
  • Automatic for the People is a great album. I already knew this, but apparently needed to be reminded.
  • I thought I had something more to say here, but apparently, I don't.

* * *

That is all. Be seeing you. And remember: Despite their rat-like appearance, carnies are kings among men.

  • Listening to: Last Splash
  • Reading: Albert Einstein. A Biography
  • Watching: Top Gear

The Truth Doesn't Rhyme, Mikey

Journal Entry: Wed Oct 22, 2008, 11:48 AM
The Truth Doesn't Rhyme, Mikey

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

A few quick notices:

  • In 1945 the Nazis fled to the moon. In 2018 they are coming back.
  • VCM has moved. The new URL is There are strips scheduled into the middle of December (there's an arc starting -- wait, I have to look it up -- Thursday November 20th, featuring Cat's robotic counterpart, that I really like), and I'm working on an idea for an arc which should last us well into February.
  • Everyone should read WE THE ROBOTS.

UPDATE: I've storaged dAStupid, because it's not working with the new dA CSS (which I should've caught earlier, I know). It'll be back soonish (I'll also see about making it work in FF3).

* * *

That is all. Be seeing you. And remember: Despite their rat-like appearance, carnies are kings among men.

  • Listening to: Velocifero
  • Reading: The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck
  • Watching: Stargate SG-1

That's Me Trying

Journal Entry: Wed Oct 15, 2008, 1:06 AM
That's Me Trying

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

VCM is back, once again, in case you hadn't noticed. The current run will extend at least into the middle of December. Since I bought a tablet, I've been doing strips much faster, so there's a chance I won't get bored and I'll keep doing VCM into the new year. We'll see. I start a new course in a couple of weeks, which might take more of my time than my current one ("Informatics A: Intro to Programming", which is about the fourth I. to P. course I've done) does, but I'll try to keep VCM going at something which at least resembles a steady pace.

* * *

Been listening to William Shatner's Has Been a lot lately. It's not only much better than it has any right to be, it's also interesting. Unlike I thought I would, I don't like it in the ironic way I like, say, "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins"; Shatner defeats that reading by acknowledging the irony, calling attention to it. The album is both ironic and sincere at the same time; at times, ironically ironical. Fascinating.

* * *

I have about a half-dozen poems in various stages of completion. I'm moving more and more into science fiction and body horror. Some of it is getting somewhere that might be good, but I worry about being derivative. I also need to re-teach myself Ford Madox Ford's old maxim: "Never use seven word where three will do."

* * *

Be seeing you. And remember: Despite their rat-like appearance, carnies are kings among men.

  • Listening to: Has Been
  • Reading: The Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck
  • Watching: Northern Exposure

Myself, a House of Light

Journal Entry: Fri Aug 22, 2008, 12:00 PM
Myself, a House of Light

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

Tagged by lovetodeviate (darn you. Darn you to heck):

Choose a singer/band/group. Answer using ONLY titles of songs by that singer/band/group. Tag 6 more people (let them know they've been tagged).

I choose Tori Amos:

  1. Are you male or female? "God"
  2. Describe yourself. "Glory of the 80s"
  3. What do people feel when they're around you? "Upside Down"
  4. How would you describe your previous relationship? "Pretty Good Year"
  5. Describe your current relationship. "Zero Point"
  6. Where would you want to be now? "Past the Mission"
  7. How do you feel about love? "Here. In My Head"
  8. What's your life like? "iieee"
  9. What would you ask for if you had only one wish? "Not David Bowie"
  10. Say something wise. "Yes, Anastasia"

I refuse to tag six more people. That's right, I break the chain! That's the Riddle of Steel, you know. No, really, watch Conan the Barbarian again. You'll see what I mean.

* * *

Language materialism (the dominant poetic style in Sweden since the 80s (well, along with neo-formalism and performance poetry, since the 90s)) scares me. I admire a lot of the poets, but I can't bring myself to fully try it myself. An odd form of self-censorship, but: there you have it.

I wish I could write faster. My latest submission took me six months (and it's not even very good), and one of the almost-but-not-quite-finished pieces I'm working on has been almost-but-not-quite-finished since before 'plicity started pining for the fjords.

Another currently-in-progress poem (so rough it's not even worthy of being a scrap):

All this unsaid, so much
it hardly seems worth---

        The lightbulb, the
        light, his


She remembers all this,
and still, yes, even

All this unsaid.

Moving toward materialism, but it doesn't quite dare cross the threshold.

Also working on: the story of a time-travelling World War Two pilot, a 700+ line epistolary poem, a deconstruction of the hero's journey. Among other things.

* * *

Be seeing you. And remember:

  • Listening to: Get Away from Me
  • Reading: Jag själv ett hus av ljus
  • Watching: Arsion Starlight

I am Cherokee Jack

Journal Entry: Wed Jul 2, 2008, 12:41 PM
I am Cherokee Jack

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

Hello, True Believers! Time for another update from the land of X. Let's see. What have I been doing? Nothing much, really. Yesterday, I got a sudden portfolio kick and made a demo reel and a web gallery. I know. Productive, aren't I? The demo reel is basically everything I found on my old hard drive that had a decent resolution, and doesn't really represent my best work. There is some rather nice ocean, but that's about it. And Fella makes a cameo. The music is something I wrote for — I dunno, something.

* * *

I'm reading this fantasy anthology called The Mammoth Book of Fantasy (a misleading title — it's only about 500 pages). It's a bit uneven, as anthologies tend to be, but there were a couple of good stories that also happen to be in the public domain: »The Golden Key« by George MacDonald, an allegorical story about two children who search for the »land from where the shadows fall«; and »The Valley of the Worm« by your friend and mine, Robert E. Howard, a sword-and-sorcery tale about an Aryan warrior (yeah, it's a bit racist. I believe there's an unspoken understanding among Howard (and Lovecraft) fans to try to ignore the chauvinism) who battles cosmic horror. Both good reads.

* * *

Be seeing you. And remember:

  • Listening to: Destroy All Astromen!!
  • Reading: The Mammoth Book of Fantasy
  • Watching: MST3K (Season 8)

Back from the Last Place

Journal Entry: Wed May 21, 2008, 5:07 AM
Back from the Last Place

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

Just briefly coming up for air. Been playing video games, watching films, and listening to PG Wodehouse audio books. Some quick reviewlets:

  • On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness — episode 1. I've only been playing for 5 minutes, but: the writing's funny (not quite Lucas Arts or Infocom funny, but not at all bad), it looks fantastic, and the gameplay is a bit simplistic. The combat system feels like the kind of thing that's simple at first but which deepens with as you learn it. Time will tell.
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas. The AI leaves a lot to be desired, and the story is unironically formulaic, but the gameplay is quite good. I'm having fun.
  • House season finale. The first part left me lukewarm (House takes risks and hallucinates? Yeah, that's new), but I was genuinely touched by the last half of the second part. It'll be interesting to see the aftermath of it all next season.
  • Stargate SG-1: The Ark of Truth. Robert C. Cooper helms the first straight-to-DVD SG-1 flic around at about par, with moments of both brilliance and idiocy. Sarah Strange should get her own spin-off.

That's about it. Be seeing you.

  • Listening to: So Jealous
  • Reading: The Castle in the Forest
  • Watching: Mulholland Dr.
  • Playing: Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness

I want a third pill

Journal Entry: Thu May 1, 2008, 2:08 AM
I want a third pill

(This journal brought to you in part by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

»But the choice between the blue and the red pill is not really a choice between illusion and reality. Of course the Matrix is a machine for fictions, but these are fictions which already structure our reality: if you take away from our reality the symbolic fictions that regulate it, you lose reality itself.

»I want a third pill.

»So what is the third pill? Definitely not some kind of transcendental pill which enables a fake fast-food religious experience, but a pill that would enable me to perceive not the reality behind the illusion but the reality in illusion itself.«

  — Slavoj Žižek, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (Sophie Fiennes, 2006).

* * *

I was watching Tin Man, SciFi's ›re-imagining‹ of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, yesterday. It made me think of something I've always found interesting about The Wizard of Oz (Fleming, 1939), and which Žižek mentions in passing in The Pervert's Guide to Cinema: even after Oz is exposed as a fraud, he still solves all Dorothy's and her companions' problems. The reality in illusion, indeed.

Of course, it was all just a dream. At least until the sequel (the sadly underrated Return to Oz (Murch, 1985)).

* * *

There is a website,, whose only purpose is to list different encodings of ›»‹. For some reason, I find this very comforting.

* * *

Be seeing you.

  • Listening to: Up All Night
  • Reading: Right Ho, Jeeves
  • Watching: Mulholland Dr.
  • Playing: Perfect Dark Zero

These dreams

Journal Entry: Thu Mar 27, 2008, 4:58 AM
I Dreamt of an Old Man

(This journal brought to you by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

Last night I dreamt of an old man who travelled back in time to become himself as a child. He was taken by the secret police, and died of cancer.

I dreamt of a funeral procession past Europa, the dawn speaking my name, and a young girl who was twisted around herself so tightly that she ceased to exist.

Grief Gondola, No. 2 (excerpts)


Two old men, father-in-law and son-in-law, Liszt and Wagner, are staying on the Grande Canal
with the restless woman who is married to King Midas
he who turns everything he touches into Wagner.
The green chill of the sea pushes up through floors in the palace.
Wagner is a marked man, the well known Caspar profile is more tired than before
his face a white flag.
The gondola is heavily laden with their lives, two round trips and one one-way.


Next to the son-in-law, who is a man of his time, Liszt is a moth-eaten grandseigneur.
It's a disguise.
The deep that tries on and discards various masks has chosen just this one for him —
the deep that wants to join the humans without showing its face.


The piano which has been silent through all of Parsifal (but has listened) is at last allowed to say something.
Sighs... sospiri...
When Liszt plays tonight he holds down the sea-pedal so that the green force of the sea
rises through the floor and flows together with all the stone of the building.
Good evening beautiful deep!
The gondola is heavily laden with life, it is simple and black.

— Tomas Tranströmer (Translation: Malena Mörling and yours truly)

I dreamt of a butterfly.

  • Listening to: The Reminder
  • Reading: Ghost World
  • Watching: X-Files
  • Playing: Mass Effect: Bring Down the Sky

Here comes the invisible man

Journal Entry: Tue Mar 11, 2008, 7:31 AM

(This journal brought to you by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor.)

December Night '72

Here comes the invisible man, perhaps hired
by a great Memory to live right now. And I drive past

the shuttered white church — inside stands a wooden saint
smiling, helpless, as if someone had taken away his glasses.

He is alone. All the other things are now, now, now. Gravity
pushes us
to work in the morning and to bed at night. The war.

— Tomas Tranströmer. (My translation.)

OK. Let's try some source code: (I need to write a script to auto-highlight it)

// ==UserScript==
// name           deslashify_forum_post
// namespace
// description    Automagically replaces apostrophes, quotes, and backslashes in dA forum posts with HTML entities.
// include*
// ==/UserScript==

deslash = {
() {
(str) {
+ str.
) +

() {
cb =

/* Only affect first posts:
         (this is klugey, but it works)*/

(cb && cb.



And another blockquote, just for fun:

Night watch


Tonight I'm down with the ballast.
I am one of the silent weights
that keep the boat from sinking!
Obscure faces in the dark, like rocks.
They can only hiss: "Don't touch me."


Other voices push in, the listener
glides like a thin shadow over the radio's
fluorescent band of stations.
The language marches in step with the hangmen.
That's why we have to get a new language.


The wolf is here, friend of all hours
and he touches the window with his tongue.
The valley is full of crawling axe handles.
The night flyer's rumble flows over the sky
sluggishly, as if from a wheelchair with iron wheels.


They're digging up the city. But it's quiet now.
Under the elms in the graveyard:
an empty digger. The bucket on the ground —
the gesture of someone who has fallen asleep at the table
with his fist in front of him. — The ringing of the bells.

— Ibid.

That is all. Be seeing you.

  • Listening to: American Doll Posse
  • Reading: Collected Poems of T. Tranströmer
  • Watching: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • Playing: Mass Effect: Bring Down the Sky

This just in:

Journal Entry: Sun Jan 20, 2008, 5:01 AM

Valley of the Crescent Moon will return tomorrow, and will finish the VALIS arc over the next three weeks. There will be blood.

Juno is a fantastic film. Best of 2007 (though I say that without yet having seen There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men).

The Dark Knight Returns is kind of overrated. I mean, it's good, but it's nowhere near as good as it's made out to be.

Death: The Time of Your Life is the third best comic Neil Gaiman's written (#1: the Hellblazer one-shot, "Hold me"; #2: that one Sandman with the Golden Age Sandman).

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Neil Gaiman - Death: The Time of Your Life
  • Watching: Juno
  • Playing: skate & Mass Effect

And if my name is on that list

Journal Entry: Wed Jan 9, 2008, 2:45 AM
I guess I'll see you soon.

* * *

Happy New Year, true believers. Somewhat belatedly, here's my traditional year-end review:

Albums: The new albums I've listened most to have been Kill to Get Crimson by Mark Knopfler and Sahara Hotnights' What if Leaving is a Loving Thing?. I also quite liked Tegan and Sara's The Con, PJ Harvey's White Chalk, and St. Vincent's Marry Me.

Games: Mass Effect blew everything else out of the water -- just an awesome game. skate is really good, too, and really highlights just how little the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series has evolved (though I seem to be the only one who's noticed how flaky skate's graphics engine is).

Movies: I haven't watched all the films I'm interested in from the end of the year; I'm looking forward to seeing Juno, No Country for Old Men, The Tracey Fragments (which I hope handles the split screen stuff better than Timecode did), There Will Be Blood, I'm Not There, Arn, and Darjeeling Limited. Of the films I saw last year, I really liked: INLAND EMPIRE (yes, I know it premièred in 2006, but I didn't see it until it was released on DVD. Best film ever, by the way), I'm a Cyborg, but I'm OK (though it didn't quite live up to its potential), and In the Shadow of the Moon. Films that surprised me: Saw IV (surprisingly good), Spider-Man 3 (surprisingly bad).

Pro-wrestling: SHIMMER crowned their first champion (Sara Del Rey won the tournament final, but Lacey's semi-final match against Daizee Haize stole the show), and Portia Perez was ridiculously awesome; ROH signed a PPV deal, and kept putting on amazing shows (and Bryan Danielson cemented his reputation as the best in the world); TNA continued pissing away all the good-will they've gotten from the smart-mark audience; WWE was hit by scandals (Chris Benoit, steroids, steroids, and steroids. Oh, and steroids), but, like Alan Partridge, managed to bounce back; the CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas changed hands, their school split from CZW's (and Claudio Castagnoli became co-head trainer), and Chuck Taylor was one of the funniest men in pro-wrestling.

TV: Mika Brzezinski is my hero; Heroes was surprisingly good, though I haven't gotten around to Season 2 yet; The Sarah Silverman Program wasn't as good as I'd expected; Painkiller Jane was crap; Stargate Atlantis got darker and edgier (and stayed pretty good); Stargate: The Ark of Truth was leaked (but I haven't watched it yet); Doctor Who continued its tradition of Stephen Moffat writing the best episodes ("Blink" was fan-fucking-tastic); Pushing Daisies was another good, quirky series by Bryan Fuller.

What I'm looking forward to in 2008: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Stargate Universe, the Stargate DVD movies.

In other news: the WGA went on strike (but without the tragedy of 1988. Just thinking about what the '88 strike did to Star Trek still brings tears to my eyes); Ingmar Bergman died; Robert Anton Wilson died; Randy Couture won the UFC heavyweight title (and like he did ten years earlier, left the UFC almost immediately afterwards); Madeleine McCann disappeared --  media circus ensued; thousands of non-white children without media-savvy parents were killed -- no-one cared; Blair resigned and some guy named Brown took over; not James Brown, though -- he died;  Russian Orthodox Church Abroad reunited with the Moscow Patriarchy; the last Harry Potter was released (and, yes, I like the series. It's not good writing, by any means, but it entertains me); monks protested in Burma, world cared for about a week; Zeppelin reunited; John Bonham, like Generalísimo Francisco Franco (but unlike Fidel Castro), is still dead.

* * *

Other random thoughts: Tegan and Sara's "Walking with a Ghost" always makes me think of Roky Erickson's "I Walked with a Zombie"; the new American Gladiators is too flashy and loud, but on the plus-side: the female gladiators are better-looking than they used to be, the gladiators have gimmicks, it's still a great concept, and the Hulk Hogan drinking game is back (take a shot every time he says "Brother" or "Dude"); I need to figure out how to write a xine plugin that auto-syncs RiffTrax audio to movies (shouldn't be terribly hard once I learn the API -- unless I go non-trivial and start analysing audio to find sync-points); the XBox 360 makes a pretty good media player; Alien vs. Predator is further proof that Paul W.S. Anderson is an underrated (but still slightly incompetent) director; I keep meaning to finish the final Valley of the Crescent Moon arc(s), but other things keep getting in the way (for example, I have a great idea for a Superman vs. Batman multi-title arc. Think DC will let me take over a couple of their titles for about a year?).

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Wrestlecrap
  • Watching: American Gladiators
  • Playing: skate & Mass Effect

Then you'll find me in Madame Geneva

Journal Entry: Sun Dec 16, 2007, 10:21 AM
keeping the demons at bay.
There's nothing like gin for drowning them in,
but they'll always be back on hanging day.

* * *

The following journal was payed for by The Committee for Testing Journal CSS Editor and the Cthulhu Society of Miskatonic University.

Hi, everybody! (Hi, Dr. Nick!). This journal update is all geekery, so civilians can turn back now. Anyone still left? Good, let's get started.

There was a side discussion in the Programming forum a while back about whether preincrement is more efficient than postincrement in PHP: i.e., is ++$i more efficient than $i++?

Well, I did some research -- using bcompiler (if you change #define BCOMPILER_DEBUG_ON 0 to #define BCOMPILER_DEBUG_ON 1 in bcompiler.c, it'll spit out interesting information to a file called bcompiler.log).

It turns out $i++ does use one more bytecode instruction than ++$i. I'm no good at Zend bytecode, but it looks like it's got to do with garbage collection (a FREE is generated for postincrement that isn't for preincrement); if you use the return value, it stays referenced, and post- and preincrement are the same (except for the obvious differences), but if you don't, the GC notices this and immediately kills the variable, thus generating the extra instruction. I think.

Just for fun and comparison, let's look at the following short C program:

int main(void)
    int i = 0, j = 0;

    j = i++;
    j = ++i;

    return 0;

The relevant parts of which compile into (using GCC 4.1.something, without optimisation, natch -- even a naked -O just strips out everything between { and }):

# "j = i++;":
movl -0xc(%ebp),%eax # copy "i" to accumulator
movl %eax,-0x8(%ebp) # copy accumulator to "j"
incl -0xc(%ebp)      # increment "i"

# "j = ++i;":
incl -0xc(%ebp)
movl -0xc(%ebp),%eax
movl %eax,-0x8(%ebp)

As you can see, it just moves the incl (increment long) depending on whether it should happen before or after the copy. I seem to recall reading not too long ago that the Java bytecode compiler does the same thing (but I don't know Java well enough to guarantee that it's guaranteed. It's not in C++, what with operator overloading and stuff (which is what C++ is in my head -- C plus stuff)).

What's my point with all this? I don't know, really. I just found it interesting.

* * *

If you, like I, use Splashy (it takes some pretty hackish config file editing to make it work on Slack 12, btw), you might like this Amiga-inspired theme. On boot, it displays the familiar hand-holding-a-disk image from Kickstart 1.3, and on error, it -- naturally -- shows a "Guru Meditation" (I didn't bother looking up which meditation it actually shows, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader). I haven't submitted it to deviantART as it might possibly violate the rights of whoever holds the copyright to Kickstart 1.3. Though the way things are, whoever does hold the copyright probably doesn't even know they do.

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Beetle Bailey
  • Watching: SHIMMER vol 8
  • Playing: skate & Mass Effect

Don't begrudge her the Merc

Journal Entry: Sat Dec 15, 2007, 5:07 AM
it's been nothing but work,
and a hard life.
Losing her looks over company books --
the scaffolder's wife..

* * *

After years of resistance, I finally caved and bought myself a new computer (AMD Sempron 3600 (3600 means 2.0 GHz in AMD-speak), with 1GiB memory -- cheap as dirt, just the way I like it). Conclusions after a couple of days' use: Vista sucks (it took 45 minutes to uninstall Office. What the fuck?), Slackware 12 rules (though I was tempted to try Slamd64, I decided to stay in the Slackware mainstream for the time being), and S-ATA is pretty cool.

I've also finally gotten 'round to building a recent version of AROS. Got to say I'm impressed with the progress they've made in my absence. Now, I just have to work my way through 1700 unread messages in the developers mailing list, and I can get back into hacking AROS.

* * *

I've updated my Journal CSS editor. Go give it a try. Should work in Firefox, IE 6+, and Opera 9.

* * *

Mark Knopfler's Kill to Get Crimson is the album of the year.

* * *

I'm kinda, sorta working on Valley of the Crescent Moon, but I've got no idea when I'll be done.

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Beetle Bailey
  • Watching: SHIMMER vol 11
  • Playing: skate & Mass Effect

The sky just is, and it goes on and on

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 11, 2007, 10:50 AM
and we play all our games beneath it.

* * *

Tranströmer was robbed. Again.

* * *

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years--
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of
l'entre deux guerres--
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.

        -- T. S. Eliot, "East Coker", Four Quartets.

Four Quartets gets better each time I read it. There are still parts I think are a bit redundant (T. S. could've used an Ezra Pound), but there are moments of sheer genius and Eliot is so full of interesting ideas and interesting ways of expressing them.

* * *

My mother always talked to me a lot about the sky. She liked to watch the clouds in the day, and the stars at night. Especially the stars. We would play a game sometimes, a game called, "What's beyond the sky." We would imagine darkness, or a blinding light, or something else that we didn't know how to name. But of course, that was just a game. There's nothing beyond the sky. The sky just is, and it goes on and on, and we play all our games beneath it.
        -- Leslie Bohem, "Beyond the Sky", Taken.

Taken is a fantastic mini series. I'm watching it for the second time. It's smart enough to know that what's really interesting is the people, not the aliens. It's about what meeting aliens does to people, and about what people do to each other. Also, keeping the aliens mysterious keeps them interesting. It's like Jaws: the less you see the shark, the more impact it has when you finally do see it. It also has to do with the difference between plot and story, but that's a lecture for a different time.

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Robert A Wilson - Everything is Under Control
  • Watching: Taken

I feel like I know her

Journal Entry: Sat Oct 6, 2007, 12:21 PM
but sometimes my arms bend back.

* * *

Greetings, True Believers! I feel like making lists, so...

* * *

What I've been up to:

  • Programmed:
    • Cut-up machine Doesn't work in IE6 (dunno about IE7), kinda works in Opera, and definitely works in Firefox. The default input text is a paragraph from Heart of Darkness (it can, of course, be changed).
    • Into the Echoes A hypertext poem. Not a very good poem, but I had fun coding the backend.

  • Watched films:
    • :star::star::star::star::star: Inland Empire Lynchtastic.
    • :star::star::star::star-empty::star-empty: The Simpsons Movie Disappointing but still pretty funny.
    • :star::star::star::star::star-empty: La Jetée Markerific.
    • :star::star::star::star-half::star-empty: Morgane et ses nymphes 70s French lesploitation -- what more could you ask for?
    • :star::star::star-half::star-empty::star-empty: Live Free or Die Hard Dumb title, dumb movie, fun ride.
    • Lots of others I can't remember right now.

  • Watched TV, as always. Pushing Daisies looks really good, though it's hard to tell from just one episode. Stargate Atlantis is off to a terrific start, though ep. 4 (they accidentally released ep. 4 on iTunes last week) wasn't quite as good as the opening two, which were fantastic; generally speaking, Atlantis is better when it's arcy than when it does standalones. Nothing else has really caught my eye. I miss Veronica Mars.
  • School.

What I am or will be up to:

  • Some poems. About three different ones.
  • Some comics. About two and a quarter different ones.
  • A project which so far is about a page of notes, but I really look forward to doing as soon as I can decide which media to use.
  • Watch more films. I'm looking forward to Resident Evil: Extinction (yes, really), The Darjeeling Limited, and the Blade Runner 4-disc box-set.
  • Watch more TV. I've just started re-watching Twin Peaks. That first season is some damn good TV. Budget permitting, I'll also be buying the last two seasons of Stargate SG-1 on DVD soon.
  • School.

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Robert A Wilson - Everything is Under Control
  • Watching: Twin Peaks

These fragments

Journal Entry: Tue Sep 11, 2007, 12:17 PM

by Irving Layton

I placed
my hand
her thigh.

By the way
she moved
I could see
her devotion
to literature
was not

* * *

by Christine Falkenland (My translation)

She has made small things
like wind

The next thing she says
wears flags for wings.

* * *

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley  (excerpt)
by Ezra Pound

There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

* * *

Aniara: 14 (excerpt)
by Harry Martinson (My translation)

As a child in school I saw
natural fire at some point.
It was lit, I recall, in a piece of wood
that was shown around and spread smoke
and even a little warmth.
When everyone had seen, the wood was held in water.
The little picturesque flame was put out.
Wood was a rare substance. Had existed
in pre-goldondic times but then been diminished
ever more by radiation disasters.
We were all a bit moved, I recall, where we stood
watching the little glowing piece of wood.
But this was long ago, so long.

* * *

That is all. I was going to write about Orson Welles' Othello but I already did that for school. So I settled for a sampling of what I've been reading lately.

I've been working on stuff for VCM. Fonts mostly. The point is: there is progress, and there will be a new (and final) arc at some point. I don't know when, but then, I've never been much for details.

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Harry Martinson - Aniara
  • Watching: Othello

Get me through these radars. No, I cannot fail,

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 10, 2007, 11:30 AM
while my great silver slugs are eager to feed.
I can't fail - no, not now,
when twenty five bombers wait ripe.

* * *

Imagine you're in an art gallery. It's Paris, early on a Sunday morning. The gallery -- which is small, but well-respected -- is nearly empty. You stop at a painting -- a Modigliani portrait, say. It's amazing: vibrant, exciting.

"Now, this is great art," you say to yourself.

Next to you stands a grey-haired man, stooped over a cane, looking at you with an impish smile.

"Yes, yes," he says. He has a Hungarian accent. "Look at the textures! The colours! The form!" He looks at the painting, you do the same.

"His lines," says the old man, "they are so sure. Look" -- he points at the painting -- "this is a man who knows where he is going."

"Oh," you say, "I hadn't noticed. It's an amazing painting."

"Oh, yes," says the old man. Then, with a gleam in his eye, he leans closer to you. He smells of expensive perfume and Turkish cigarettes.

"Do you want to know a secret?" he asks.

"Umm... OK," you say, a bit unsure.

He looks around him, then says, laughing, "Modigliani never painted a line like this in his life! His strokes were unsure, searching. I painted that painting!"

The old man laughs and walks away, saying, "They paid me three hundred francs for it!"

You look at the painting. The old man is still laughing as he turns around a corner.

The old man was Elmyr de Hory, the great art forger, and he did indeed paint the painting. Is it still great art? How is it valued? The value depends on opinion, opinion depends on the expert, a faker like Elmyr makes fools of the experts -- so who's the expert? Who's the faker?

* * *

They hung there dependant from the sky,
like some heavy metal fruit;
these bombers are ripe and ready to tilt.
Must these Englishmen live that I might die?
Must they live that I might die?

* * *

I was watching No Direction Home, Scorsese's documentary about Bob Dylan. In one section, there are some people after a concert, in England, who ask for Dylan's autograph. He refuses, because -- well he's Dylan, who knows why he does anything?

Anyway, it got me thinking. What do people do with autographs? I mean, do they keep them in a box in the attic? Do they frame them? I don't know about you, but it would have to be some pretty special fucking penmanship before I framed it and hung it on my wall. In short: I don't understand autograph-collecting.

* * *

ME 262, prince of turbojets --
Junkers Jumo 004.
Blasts from clustered R4M quartets in my snout,
and see these English planes go burn.

* * *

It's May 17 1966, the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. On stage: Bob Dylan and the band that was so good it didn't even need a name. People just called them The Band.

They've nearly completed their set. For the first half, Bob was alone on stage, with his acoustic guitar and his harmonica. The crowd loved it, though there were some confused looks during the harmonica solos, which sounded almost, but not quite, parodic. For the second half, the Band joined him. Between the songs -- hell, during them, too -- , a very vocal minority of the crowd were booing. They shouted, "Sell out!" and "What happened to protest songs, Bob?! What happened to protest songs?!"

"These are all protest songs," says Bob. They aren't buying it. Bob smiles. He's a Carny at heart. Next thing you know, they'll be bringing out the geek and Atlas and the bearded lady and Mandrake and the dog-faced boy.

They've just finished playing a venomous "Ballad of a Thin Man." You could tell who Bob was thinking of when he sang, "Something is happening, but you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?" They're tuning their instruments, talking over how to play the final song.

"Judas!" cries a voice in the crowd.

"I don't believe you," says Bob. A pause. "You're a liar." Then, just before they launch into "Like a Rolling Stone," he turns to the band:

"Play it fucking loud!"

* * *

Well, you be my witness, how red were the skies
when the fortresses flew for the very last time?
It was dark over Westphalia, in April of 45.

* * *

Be seeing you.

Latest comic at "Valley of the Crescent Moon":

  • Reading: Mick Foley - Have a Nice Day
  • Watching: F for Fake
  • Playing: Keyboard and Guitar