Sunday, January 27, 2013

Baby, it's C-c-c-c-k-k-k-KOLD Outside

The past few days have been extremely brutal, temperaturally speaking.  I know that's not a real word, but I'm at a loss to find a word adequate enough to describe the extreme temperatures we've been experiencing lately.  I mentioned earlier how Canada's past winters have been lukewarm versions of their former selves, watered-down simulations that would recreate the cold climate, without actually emulating actual arctic north temperatures that would scare off potential tourists from ever visiting again.

How cold was it?  It was so cold that even the parking meters couldn't even work properly.
This is not the punchline to an indecipherable in-joke; this actually happened.  Some drivers looking for bargain parking spots hoped this temporary lapse would mean they'd get to park for free, but the police are notorious ticketers when it comes to parking violations.

These temperatures didn't make it any easier to get out of the comfort of my bed, for obvious reasons.  At these conditions, I found it logical to wear my socks for the next day, since it'd make it more comfortable to walk across the cold floor and quickly gather up the slim nearby clothes before taking my shower.  Under these restrictions, it was the most reasonable path.

While braving the outside elements, I was reminded of the mercenary thieves from Whiteout: Melt.  These were some of the toughest trained men, able to prepare themselves to any situation and adapt accordingly.  And even THEY fell prey to the harsh conditions of the Arctic North.  My general thought was that under these extreme conditions, it would be difficult to assassinate anyone within firing distance, since any potential snipers would have to bundle up heavily, and even wearing gloves would make it difficult for them, since they would be shivering too much to aim properly. Even if they wore mittens, and removed them for the crucial moment, they'd still have to wait in a secluded area for ages before their target arrived.  Like Napoleon's premature invasion of Russia, the elements alone would be enough to dissuade anyone from trying to intentionally harm one another.  This is the kind of thing I think about ALL THE TIME.

And just to twist the dry ice into the wound, this isn't even the COLDEST that Montreal's been.  In ages past, it was even COLDER at minus 49, and that was just with the wind.  Don't bother asking how cold it was in the shade.  I wasn't around back then.

On the plus side, the cold snap happened AFTER the major snow removal.  If we'd been hit with the sudden drop in temperature before we'd had a chance to clear the white stuff away, we'd all be in BIG trouble.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Farewell, my Sweet Bubby

Two weeks ago, my Bubby was admitted to the hospital, because she came down with the flu.  She was originally supposed to stay there for a matter of days, but due to complications, she wound up staying longer than usual.

To make matters worse, the only other relative I could talk to, my sister, was away on a long-deserved break, and didn't want to disturb her free time with news of her impending demise, which meant that I couldn't even do a Facebook post on that topic, lest she happen to glance upon the unwelcome news.

I seriously thought Bubby would last until the weekend when my sister would come back, so we could visit her one last time.  But Bubby'd degenerated to such an extent that she could barely remember anybody or anything past five minutes, and couldn't eat anything.  I even suggested feeding her some chicken soup, since it helped me when I had no appetite during my Kawasaki experience, but she'd apparently lost her will to live.

Many other Jewish grandparents' stories of World War II often deal with the Holocaust as a base.  But my grandparents decided to avoid the growing German occupation and move towards Communist Russia instead, believing that their Socialism ideal would be more favorable to them.  That turned out to be a mistake, since as soon as their intentions were known, they were immediately arrested, split up and sentenced to the Gulag.  Hitler gets a well-deserved bad rap for his "Final Solution", but Stalin has a cleaner reputation by comparison, largely because people are unaware of his equally harsh treatment towards Jews. Zadie wrote about his experience in the Gulag where (SPOILER ALERT) he was imprisoned not once, not twice, but THRICE during his stay in Russia.  My mother later translated his memoirs "Under Stalin's Yoke" into English, but has yet to find a publisher, since she's been so busy with other personal matters.

When my Zadie died, I was concerned, because everybody seemed to be displaying more emotion towards his loss, while I was disappointed that I wasn't going to have an extra allowance to look forward to.  I was worried that everybody was displaying varying states of sadness while I didn't feel any sense of loss.  Now that my Grandmother's gone, and hardly anybody's paid any respects in my direction, I'm beginning to understand my reaction.  I had little personal connection with my Grandfather, save for playing a few board games, and thus, didn't feel much loss when he died.  But since I never shared any concern towards Bubby with anybody else, they didn't get the sense of loss I felt.

My sister once drew a caricature of Bubby, displaying her finest qualities, and compared them with her closest facial companion - The Queen.  However, despite this flattering celebrity doppelganger status, Bubby hated being associated with Royalty, simply because "The Queen looked too old".

She might not have appreciated it, but you can't admit that there's a remarkable similarity there from birth:

She and Zadie used to run a cotton and thread shop, which I remember rummaging around, and still have plenty of spools of threads for sewing the occasional torn clothing.  What I mainly remember is her spacious apartment.  It was filled with assorted knick-knacks such as heirloom figurines behind fancy wooden cabinets, candies hidden in various locations, and elaborate pictures made out of wool.  For years, I thought she'd hand-woven these impressive paintings herself one thread at a time, until I saw an unfinished design of one of these pictures and found out it was nothing more than an elaborate pant-by-the-numbers version of needlecraft.  There was a carpet that always kept moving towards the wall, no matter how many times it was repositioned or barely walked on.  It was one of the great unsolved mysteries of that apartment.

Bubby had a Hungarian accent that made talking to her very difficult because half the time I couldn't understand her, though she could understand me.  In addition, she had a tendency to forget how to communicate with me unless reminded.  She would call "Dinner's ready!" from the kitchen while I was in the living room, and wondered why her guests weren't showing up.  It didn't help that she always spoke in a soft voice.  While I had trouble communicating with Bubby, I could still make her laugh with the occasional wry quip.  She often remarked that I shared similar traits with Zadie, such as my ability to instantly recall any similar funny story to whatever subject we were talking about, to coming up with spontaneous one-liners to answering the universal question "Was the food good?" with, "I ate it, didn't I?"  The fact that I would say things that were JUST LIKE what Zadie would say, probably helped negate the loss somewhat.

They say that you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your relatives.  Bubby was the model of kindly old Jewish grandmothers, and I'm fortunate enough to have had her for as long as I did.  Frankly speaking, I'm amazed that she's managed to hold on this long.  My general outlook of people is that they're all basically one foot in the grave.  Technically speaking, that may be true, but older people have a higher statistical probability of it happening to them, and once Zadie died in the hospital, I would've thought that Bubby would be wanting to join her business partner sometime soon.  But she kept fighting the good fight, never quite relinquishing the last sparks of her life.  I suppose having the rest of her family around helped cope with the loss.

The last time I physically kissed her was due to a misunderstanding.  When I was leaving her place one day, she mentioned something that sounded like "I'm dying".  Normally, I'm apprehensive about touching people and being touched in turn.  But I felt it was customary for her and myself that I display some form of affection for her after neglecting any close contact for years.  After the ritual, I said that I was sorry to hear the news.  There was some general confusion for awhile, until it turned out she'd ACTUALLY said, "Good night".  At least she got a long-awaited hug and a kiss payment in advance.

When I joined her for her annual visits to Miami during winter break, she had a regular daily routine.  Every day, she would get up earlier than me, which annoyed me to no end, because I wanted to spend time watching TV without her around monopolizing the remote, thus trying to enjoy my vacation time with her presence and adhere to my routine was something of an impossibility.  After getting up, she would insist on a breakfast (usually assorted of various cereals she had lying around), then a quick visit to McDonald's consisting of pancakes seated next to a Walk/Don't Walk sign, which I always found amazing to be in English, rather than the pictogram signs here.  Then it would be a "short" trip to the supermarket where she would purchase various items for later in the day.  Sometimes these routines would be broken up by visits to the library or beach, but for the most part, she remained consistent.

Like me, she took great pleasure in saving money, but unlike me, she was a shopaholic.  If there was a bargain knock-off price of any food product, no matter how lousy, she would snap it up because it was "such a deal"!  Add to her status as a compulsive hoarder, and you've got more long-term food products in the pantry than she could possibly consume.  But that didn't matter, just so long as she made somebody happy with a good hearty meal.

In fact, what I'll miss most is her delicious cooking.  She used to spend all day in the kitchen cooking up delicacies for us to eat later.  I always enjoyed going over to Bubby's since it meant that there would be a surplus of food waiting for us when we got there, and plenty of chicken soup to take home with us, which would last for days afterwards, leaving plenty of free time not having to worry about what to cook the next day.  Finding leftovers in our freezer was cause for celebration.  So it was with great disappointment that when she developed Alzheimer's, she no longer could spend all day in the kitchen cooking up our favorite meals, and her various caretakers were now the main supplicants of her cooking.

Chicken soup, Chicken with breadcrumbs, Stuffed Cabbage, Cabbage Noodles, Cornbread and Farfel were just some of the typical things she would cook when we came to visit, and she never minded doing so.  In fact, she took great pleasure in feeding people.  If you'll forgive the terminology, she was part of a dying breed who would literally spend the whole day cooking meals for hungry relatives whose only means of communication was through the stomach.  In an age where people choose easy shortcuts by buying processed foods and take-out, Bubby was the rare woman who took joy in the simple act of spending all day on a hot stove preparing her meals to perfection. Our attempts to duplicate her recipes always seemed to fall short of the mark because unlike a recipe in a cookbook, Bubby was never entirely precise with her directions.  She would use dabs and pinches for the amount of spices and never quite pinned down any specific measurements.

I'm reminded of a rather poignant Garfield cartoon, where a fast-food franchise offered to buy a kindly Italian Grandmother's recipe, but decided to make a few changes, such as replacing certain ingredients with artificial food flavorings, chemicals and artificial additives.  The first taste test result was absymal, and the Grandma retorted that only natural foods would be acceptable.  The company grudgingly followed her recipe to the letter, but still fared no better.  If the first experiment ranked an F compared to the Grandma's A+, the later experimental results never rated higher than a C.  After multiple failures, it was theorized by the cooks that the Grandmother must've left something out of the recipe.  At the end of the cartoon, Garfield revealed what the missing ingredient was - the Grandma kept sampling the food, and added appropriate spices to further enhance the taste.  With his parting words, Garfield concluded that "Good cooking doesn't come from the kitchen, but from the heart."

As a bonus, here's Bubby's recipe for preparing Chicken soup.

One thing to keep in mind is that the below is my Mother's recipe, with one minor modification.  Bubby used to add chickens with skin, so there was plenty of fat.  The Grandmotherly way of preparing Chicken Soup is once the first batch of water brings out the excess fat, EMPTY THE POT OF WATER and start a new batch of water in the same pot.  The flavour will stay inside the pot lining, and any extra fat left remaining from the chicken and beef will be easier to remove.
  • 2 pounds of chicken, 1 pound of beef
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 6 onions, cut in half
  • 6 carrots, cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in half
  • 2 potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 2 parsley roots or parsnips, cut in half
  • An entire bunch of parsley and dill wrapped in string (to make it easier to take out later)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Put all the meat in water and bring the pot to a boil.
  2. Keep on skimming the fat with a strainer many times until there is no fat near the surface.  
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, placing the dill and parsley last.
  4. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Do not let the water boil, or the soup will not be clear.
  5. Remove the parsley and dill bunches.
  6. Taste the soup just before it’s done, and continue adding enough spices to make sure it’s perfect.
Prepare Matzoh balls and noodles to go with the soup while you wait for the timer to ding.

Once everything's all prepared, eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


For a long time, one of my dream projects in finding an artist suitable enough to do personal requests to combine two similarly themed characters meeting each other at the same time, and being surprised at what they see.  So imagine my surprise when upon doing a random image search that I found someone else had done something remarkably similar.

In addition, Luis' artwork is suitably cartoony enough for my liking and appeals to my taste.  Also, while my idea was for the characters to be standing across from each other (something to make it easier for the artist to differentiate on drawing styles between the two), Luis was able to integrate both characters interacting with each other.  My personal favorite is probably the faceless argument between Rorschach and The Question:
It's nice to find out that someone else's had a similar idea to yours and improved upon it.  (Though it can sometimes feel a little discouraging as well)  The whole thing started out from a silly illustration between Hellboy and Etrigan.  Though my initial thought was that it would be a meeting between Etrigan and Firebrand from Gargoyle's Quest.  Two powerful demons that are well-reputed for being incredibly difficult to control and destroy.  I suppose the fact that I'm not heavily invested in S-hero comics might have something to do with it.

As a bonus, here's the two of them in sprite form.

While the most obvious choice for this kind of setup would be something along the lines of Captain Picard of Star Trek: Next Generation meeting Professor X of the X-Men (especially since both were played by the same actor, Patrick Stewart), I opted for slightly more obscure comic figures:

Don Martin's Captain Klutz and Domino Pizza's Noid.  Two ridiculously costumed men who constantly set out to do their missions.  (And fail)

Right-Wing political duck Mallard Fillmore and Noir anthropomorphic detective Inspector Canardo.  Two birds that are constantly shown face on, and look awkward when seen in profile.

Two short creatures that look nothing like the typical races they're supposed to portray: Alf, a furry alien creature, and Cerebus the Aardvark with an extremely short pig-like nose.  Note the similar tuft of hair!

As a bonus, there's a fan drawing of Alf drawn Cerebus-style here.

Some others I wanted to include, but couldn't for lack of finding appropriate images:
  • The Medical Hologram Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager and The Sturgeon General from Martha Washington (Give Me Liberty) arguing over medical ethics with The Doctor looking exasperated, while The Sturgeon General just calmly wags a single finger, probably talking about "cleanness".
  • One of MAD's Black Spies from Spy Vs. Spy carrying a briefcase and looking behind him to see a Plague Doctor carrying a medical kit and looking just as surprised as he is.
  • Roy Rooster from Garfield & Friends in the role of Cornfinger from Orson's daydreams of being Double-Oh Orson, and Steelbeak from Darkwing Duck.

But all that's merely just a warm-up.  What I'd really hope to accomplish is a drawing of Brooke Shields of the infamous Jeans commercial inflated to 50-foot Woman proportions, knocking down buildings in pursuit of screaming young blonde boys in red striped shirts with the caption:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tokyopop Revival?

There's been some rumblings in various sections of the blogosphere about the possible return of TokyoPop, even though it seems mostly limited to digital delivery, OEL Mangas and their last major hit, Hetalia.

As much fond memories as Tokyopop has for making the attractive $10 package possible, let's not forget that their founder, Stuart Levy, has a history of Attention Deficit Disorder when it comes to promoting Manga.  At first, he seemed all up for wanting to deliver what was accurately described as "Film comics", but his constant reliance and kissing up towards the Movie industry (such as his hyping up the currently unfinished Priest Manhwa) began to grate on the nerves of faithful fans.  Before long, their once-powerful company collapsed under its weight of acquiring dozens of B-level Mangas while running out of surefire hit titles and being reduced to Fruits Basket, whose release date between volumes kept being spaced further out to boost sales of their other sagging titles which were all competing with each other as well as the competition.

Rather than hype up the return of Tokyopop, I'd much more appreciate a return to the underappreciated Mangas of the CMX line.  CMX had its fair share of problems, such as a reliance on Mangas that had no Anime tie-ins, and C-level Mangas that felt subpar compared to the competition, which offered much more exciting titles.  Of the wide variety of titles present, only Tenjou Tenge and Gon have been saved from license hell.  One thing I meant to mention a long time ago was that in addition to displaying their early volumes in stiff binding, CMX Mangas seemed to have dozens of little scraps of paper sprinkled throughout the pages, which looked like cigarette confetti.  That was one niggling detail that seemed to escape everybody's collective memories.
Not to scale.
As long as we're giving some lip service to the CMX line, I might as well devote some attention to some minor mistakes in the cult favorite, From Eroica with Love.  In The Laughing Cardinals arc, where Klaus boards a plane that happens to be hijacked by terrorists, the following monologue ensues:

"They're far too" what???  Sophisicated?  Professional??  Prepared???  Classy????  Smarmy?????  Cool??????  Not knowing how the sentence ends gnaws on my brain like a woodland tick in the throes of a termite field.  It doesn't let go that easily.  Another barely noticeable example is in a short story where Lawrence is rattling off a list of the hotel's quality benefits.  If you look closely, there's an extra line nearby the 2nd "It's" there.

Lastly, there's this opening to the 13th volume of the multi-arc of The Seventh Seal that continues from where the 12th volume left off.  At first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything unusual about this page.  The only problem?  The previous volume was the 1st part, and it's erroneously labeled as the 3rd part, when it should clearly be the second.

These kinds of detail might get ignored by the majority of people who want to get to the next balloon, but it still bothers me.  Part of why I like having comic images on my computer is so I can do some creative editing to correct the little details that were missed the first time around, or clean up some bubbles or images where there's specks of white or black dots creating visual eyesores that distract me from appreciating the whole page.  I'm funny that way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Garfield at his Most Serious

As safe and stale as Garfield's been well reputed for, there's been a strange history of all kinds of weird and experimentative versions of the franchise cat venturing into unexplored territory.  From the infamous week of Halloween strips that was said to be influenced by Valse Triste, an animated musical interlude of a halucinating cat remembering life in a diplidated house... the story Primal Self in His 9 Lives where he embraced feral memories long since forgotten... the Unabridged Uncensored Unbelievable collection of rejected strips considered too hardcore for the main newspaper comic.  (Though they're nowhere disgusting as the collection of Rejected Garfields from the Trash Bin)

But so far, none of these attempts have matched the heights reached in the first decade when Garfield was at his creative peak: the abandoned proposed Garfield movie; Judgement Day.

Lest anyone think that this is an aberration, keep in mind that all of the previous traumatizing comics that were described earlier were all written by the same man, Garfield's creator Jim Davis.

One of the things that I was worried about when my tape broke during my copying process was that I wouldn't be able to acquire the lyrics to the abandoned project that was previewed on Garfield's 10th Birthday special, which gave various clips of the upcoming Garfield & Friends.  (That, and a certain Domino's Noid commercial)  For anyone who doesn't want to wait for the relevant clip to show up (around the 40 minute mark), here's the lyrics as performed by Lou Rawls and Desiree:

No beds to make
No bills to pay
Yeah, every day's
A holiday

We got it good,
and that ain't bad

No lawns to mow
No leaves to rake
got no pressure
And no bellyaches


Just-a sittin' on the windowstill
Soakin' up sun
Up on the bench 'till one

(Rapid tempo)
We don't waste no energy chewin' the fat
We got it made,
Why deal with that?
No homework due
No dates to keep
We wake up slow
We eat, we sleep


We live our lives
Like simple folks
Why fix a thing
If it ain't broke


No worry of security
Youth or maturity
We do as we please.
No headache, no tension, uh-oh,
Except the occasional fleas.

Presumably, shortly after this song of idyllic life, we get a shot of tension of an upcoming disaster that only animals can detect with their 6th sense.  Part of the problem I had with Judgement Day is that after two pages of familiar setup with Garfield waking Jon up and creating a mess in the kitchen, we're suddenly introduced to twin toy terrier dogs in a large Italian family of five children and a crotchy old man being abusive to his faithful dog.  These transitions didn't come easy for someone not used to an expanded unexplored universe in the rather limited Garfield world.  Not to mention that except for a select few scenes, the overall tone is more dramatic, suspenseful and nervewracking than actually funny.

While these extra characters gave the story a larger scale not restricted to just Garfield and his surrounding neighbors, it still came out of left field.  The basic plot for Judgement Day is nothing less than a disaster movie where all the pets are aware of a catastrophic storm of biblical proportions that threatens to level the whole town.  Faced with this impending danger, it's brought up that the most suitable way to warn their owners is to break a long-standing taboo and actually talk to them like a human being.  Garfield is alone in this proposal until his girlfriend Arlene speaks in favor of his move, and from there, the floodgates are opened and all the animals are animatedly talking.  (Probably what would lead to another musical number)  In retrospect, I'd much rather that the Garfield strip focused just as much attention to Arlene's relationship with Garfield as Jon's sudden romantic success with Liz.  Arlene is the only animal not afraid to give Garfield some gruff feedback for merciless teasing and outright rudeness.

As informative as Arlene's stray status is, it's difficult to imagine how she would've revealed this private part of her life without resorting to a musical number or internal monologue.  One alternative could be a montage of her being around other pets looking down on strays and reluctantly agreeing with their assertment.  It would be tricky but doable.

A certain minor subplot that's mentioned is a common complaint that all the dogs who have dots on their bodies, save for Odie, were named Spot.  (Ironically enough, Odie was originally going to be named "Spot", until Mort Walker pointed out the common name was used in another strip)  If this event were going to be expanded on, it would be in the theater where all the residents are huddling for the storm to blow over.  One last thing that deserves mention is the closest tribute to Lorenzo Music, Garfield's main voice for the specials and TV show.  Of the trio of punk dogs who don't think much of anything but upsetting garbage cans, one of the dogs just happens to be named Lorenzo.

Obviously, funding for this project is no longer feasible, even though the voices have been recorded.  But there's nothing to prevent fans from making their own comic version of what they'd imagine the film would look like.  At the time, I thought it would be a great accomplishment if Garfield fans worldwide pooled their efforts into creating a comic version of Judgement Day that wouldn't be unlike the compilation of Star Wars tributes.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my idea would be (literally) akin to herding cats.  There's so many different creative paths and interpretations that could completely derail the comic.
What would be needed is someone with a specific controlling directive force that would make such an ambitious vision a reality.

Any takers?

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Updates

The last two weeks leading up to the end of Christmas vacation has been some of the busiest time I've spent lately.  Normally, I'm wracked with anxiety of having a large New Year's party with dozens of Dad's relatives, who mainly speak French, and wind up crowding the house.  I'm very claustrophobic around people, and having a multitude around me is hell on my senses, not to mention all the preparation beforehand.  Usually, I'm reminded of their names and make polite small conversation before running away to more comfortable realms.  This year, there were less people invited than usual (24 instead of 35), but it still felt pretty suffocating.  I coped by holing up in a private room and caught up with the 5th season half of Breaking Bad.  The relatives didn't mind - they knew of my social phobia and deafness, and were more accommodating being around themselves.

However, a few hours later, I was starting to lose my patience.  The guests were expected to arrive at 2:00, and they didn't start coming over until ten minutes before 3:00.  I hadn't eaten much for breakfast that day, expecting a large lunch with all the food they were going to bring over.  Around 4:00, I was starting to get rather anxious and feeling hungry.  To my surprise, everybody was still standing around an chatting with each other rather than taking samples of any of the copious amounts of chips and nuts available.  To me, the main reason to go to a party is to enjoy a plateau of foodstuff you wouldn't be able to sample otherwise.  These people seemed to want to socialize more than eat, which left me feeling more isolated than usual, since everybody was divided into their various fractions and talking into an incomprehensible din I had no hope of understanding.  It was suggested that I heat up some leftovers if I was feeling hungry, but I likened this to going to a fancy restaurant and while waiting for the waiter to deliver dinner, opening my suitcase and taking out an apple.  To bring the restaurant analogy further, I started loading up on bread and butter to ease my hunger pangs.  This lasted until the annual traditional appetizers of Deviled Eggs were brought out, and I began to calm down a little until the main course was ready.

Prior to that, I'd spent the last week and a half of my remaining free time transferring my old stuff on VHS tapes to DVD.  It was no easy feat, since there were some shows and movies that played better on the transferring DVD/VCR machine, and others that had the captioning remain intact on an older VCR.  Needless to say, I cared more about the quality of the captioned subtitles than the visuals.  And I had to calculate which videos could be taped on the top machine, or on the bottom.  The stuff I saved over the years was quite diverse, ranging from The Naked Gun TV broadcast movies with extra scenes not included in the DVDs, the Mr. Boogedy movies, some animated one-shots (Blondie, Hagar the Horrible, The Real Ghostbusters Halloween Door), WonderWorks' Happily Ever After (an animated special about a girl dealing with her parent's divorce), Wayne & Shuster shorts, Rowan Akitson Live and Big Bird in Japan.  So far, my only real regret is that I wasn't able to copy a single tape that for some reason or another, seems to be copy protected.  There's probably a way to save it via a computer, but I don't have the technological know-how to upload it in the first place.  That'll probably have to wait until later.

If it were a simple case of just taping whole tapes, the process would've gone much faster.  But because I had so much programming spread over various tapes, the procedure took me longer than expected, because I wanted to combine similarly themed shows and movies together on one DVD for easier access.  That meant constant previewing tapes to find any shows that weren't labeled, double-checking to see whether the captioning was consistent on one machine or another, and basically timing all the content to fit properly within a 4-hour taping frame.

Even though I'd gotten a VCR/DVD converter as a present last year, I put off the effort because I was paranoid about the VHS tapes breaking down during the copying process.  Actually, the newfangled machines DID break the tapes by rewinding so fast that they snapped.  However, due to some mechanical surgery and experimentation, I was able to eventually deduct how the interior worked.  Each time I put it back together, I was mystified as to why it wasn't running properly, and was beginning to worry that I'd lost some filmstuff FOREVER.  It wasn't until I looked up a helpful interior online that I figured out where I'd gone wrong, and made necessary corrections.  However, even with the film reel in the proper place, it still wouldn't run.  So I took apart another abandoned VHS tape to compare, and found a minor part in the middle that'd fallen out was installed upside down.  So I put it back in its proper place, and lo and behold, it worked!  The second time the tape snapped, it went much faster because I now knew what I was supposed to do.

And yet, for all the overdue copying I've done, I don't feel that I've done anything productive at all.  Sure, I've been getting up early in the morning to do some major painstaking reproduction down to the minute based on similar subjects and theme, but I consider it a loss if I don't feel inspired.  Part of the problem stemmed when I was about 80% through, and only had to fill in some blanks with some commercials not available on Youtube.  The closer I get to my goal, the slower my response in completing it becomes, since I'm convinced that I can afford to take my time since I'm no longer rushing.  Thus finishing my projects begin to approach a Zeno's Paradox zone where I get closer to completion without ever reaching my destination.  This major side project being mostly finished, I'm hoping to become more serious and focus on my various stories.  I've got multiple pages of notes that I've jotted down that I've yet to put on the screen, not to mention various other notes sprinkled throughout several file folders simply because I thought I'd go back to those later, and I'd remember seeing them again when the time came.  As such, organizing these sporadic shots of memory is an arduous task, and I spent my free time copying tapes.

Likewise, I'm afraid of allowing myself the luxury of wallowing in praise because EVERY TIME that I've allowed myself to take pride in anything I've done, EVERY SINGLE TIME after, I've regretted it because I become too imbued with self-confidence, and believe I can do no wrong, and wind up making silly mistakes because of my overconfidence.  The irony is I'm terrified of accepting any criticism, both good and bad, but not getting an opinion of my work is just as isolating.

To make up for any potential lapses in the future, here's some updates of previous posts I wanted to include, but was waiting for the right time to do so.  There may never be another time like the present.

Before a certain homage comic, there was an early Adventures of Aaron comic that showed up in the first month of 1996 before the infamous Calvin strip it would be better known for.  It displays the same points of space limitations that Bill Watterson fought against all his life in a typical over-the-top teenager way, and none of the eloquence of a philosophical debate cleverly hidden behind snowmen metaphors.  There's also a sidebar that's more cringeworthy, and not worth the time taken seeing it.  What's that, you say?  You want to see it for completion's sake, even if you wind up hating it in the process?

Don't say I didn't warn you.  This kind of infantile humour is why Aaron never quite caught on, despite its elaborate artwork.  Crude humour can only take you so far.

When I was pointing out various cartoon figures who'd lost weight and looked more appealing, one lucky victim was Broom Hilda.  Realistically speaking, if she actually attained model status figure, the results would be more disturbing than anything else.  Not everybody can conform to the same physical makeup as the top 1% of perfect people, and this shows us why.

A short Jughead nightmare that wasn't included, because I felt it would detract from the nightmare scenario there.

An alternate take on the whole "world coming to an end" theme that was so prevalent last year.  Three guesses for whose philosophy I most agree with.

One of my more humourous entries that was part biographical, mostly lifted elsewhere was my obsession with saving money no matter the cost.  This little snippet is my basic guideline to grocery shopping.  After all, the tastiest meal is the one that costs the least.  Even if you have to choke down every single bite, no matter how awful it is.  Just think of all the money you're saving!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year of Old Garfields

It seems somewhat appropriate that the latest SQoMG strip should have a contribution I made two years ago on the very day that I decided to share my collection of Garfield comics.  Usually I wait several months to give my backlog of old strips a chance before the newer ones are shown first.  Keep in mind that these early strips I contributed are of differing quality, and a lot of them were variations on a theme before I started being more subjective in my comics.  But I chose my strips based on whether or not I could string a certain theme throughout various strips.  That's why there's multiple entries for venetian blinds, and not one for Odie's obsession with dingle balls.  (Looking back, I'm kind of regretting not including the first panel of this strip for this one)  If there is a "last" Garfield strip I plan to contribute, it'll probably be a combination of all of Lyman's appearances into one comprehensive narrative.  Trying to find one with the brief examples is just part of the challenge.

With that explanatory exposition out of the way, I might as well start by pointing out the various Garfields sprinkled throughout today's post.  As promised earlier, this year's calendar theme will focus on the fat cat, and each calendar has a different riding theme.  The 1993 calendar has 12 entirely new Sunday comics that could be considered "lost" Garfield strips that wouldn't be out of place in the newspaper, though truth be told, most of them are not very funny.

Meanwhile, the 1990 calendar is just basically a full-sized Garfield image taking up both pages, which could explain why these calendars haven't been collected into one handy format.  It's the last two that would be of more interest to those seeking something with more meat to their Garfield content.  The 1988 Calendar was titled Year of the Party, with each month paying tribute to a certain theme, even if they didn't exactly fit with the holidays usually associated with that particular month.  The first one is a certain topic I brought up earlier, people not wanting to admit that summer's over:

The Winter Defiance Party

Wait for a calm, sunny day, and put on your best Hawaiian duds.  Drag out the grill and defy winter with a January cookout!  This should really freak your neighbors out.

My scanner wasn't large enough to capture both the image and text, so I'll be writing up the description after each picture.  The 1987 calendar was presented in a Dear Diary... format.  The Dear Diary entries are not exactly chuckle-worthy, but more quieter reflections of poignant moments during Garfield's life that are reflected with paintbrushed artwork.  The diary entries were already in cursive, so having them presented in printed letters may make the written sentences more understandable, though something may be lost in the transition.

Dear Diary... Tonight, I thought I saw Uncle Ed in the fireplace.