December Sun – A Web Comic

November 25, 2008

December Sun – Ad #2

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December Sun Ad

December Sun Ad

December Sun – #1

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December Sun #1 - the entirety of the first issue, including deleted and rejected pages.

December Sun #1 - the entirety of the first issue, including deleted and rejected pages.

November 24, 2008

‘Indiana Jones: The Complete Soundtracks Collection’ – Not quite complete, but still excellent

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This weekend I received a copy of ‘Indiana Jones: The Complete Soundtracks Collection‘ from Barnes and Nobles online, and I’m thoroughly enjoying hearing the music that was, up until now, not available on CD like this (some of this could be found from bizarre Russian MP3 sites online, but there the music was nowhere near as comprehensive as this collection is.)
Granted, it isn’t perfect, and it is sort of dishonest to call this the “complete” soundtracks collection, as it ISN’T complete, but there’s so much good material here that I can’t complain. It’s strange in that, I think I’m in a rapidly diminishing niche market of old, non-existent John Williams recordings, and there are probably few people who knew about this, or frankly, who even cared about this sort of thing.
Anyhow, my initial thoughts about this is that the packaging is fantastic: FIVE disks are bundled in a mock-brown leather style case with a gold Indy hat/whip symbol on the cover (very cool.) The liner notes could use a little more filling: lots of pictures from the film, but I would have been more interested in the actual production of the music, notes about the recording, samples musical notation from the orchestrations, etc. Pictures of the cast and crew filming the movies? Eh…
The music itself if remarkable, and what a treat to finally have a fairly comprehensive collection of Williams’ music from these films. As noted above, these aren’t complete scores and there are still a number of songs and tracks missing (I would have loved to hear the brief ‘Ark Theme’ during Indy’s visit to the catacombs in ‘Last Crusade’) but no worries, the collection is still great. The audio quality if fantastic and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing these tracks isolated from the films. I wonder why it’s taken this long for this music to be released, and why, if Lucas and Spielberg value Williams so much as a composer, why haven’t they taken a greater initiative to see that more, if not ALL, of his music from their films has been released for the public to enjoy?
Regardless, it’s a great collection. Up until now, I’ve only had ‘Raiders’ on CD, ‘Temple’ and ‘Crusade’ on crummy, metallic audio tapes, and ‘Crystal Skull’ on the PC via an Amazon download. I’m least impressed with ‘Crystal Skull’…. sadly, the only track that really stands out to me is the ‘Finale’ track, with a sorely missed return of Marion’s theme (I would have loved to hear more of this used in the film.) So unfortunately, I ended up inadvertently buying the same album twice (one of George Lucas’ favorite tactics with his Star Wars films…. hmmmm, I’m starting to sense that he was the mastermind behind the reissue of this music.)
Hearing a more comprehensive collection of songs from ‘Last Crusade’ was a real treat. I think Crusade was one of Williams’ finest scores for the entire series, if not the best, and I’m so grateful to have more music from this film, primarily the father-son tracks from the movie that are just so remarkable. Having more ‘Temple of Doom’ music has been great (and the ‘Map/Out of Fuel’ track just starts out with one of the greatest bits of orchestration ever, but Temple of Doom was just a tad too evil for me, and even the entertaining ‘Short Round’ theme and so on just doesn’t balance well with the chanting and depressing tone of this film (I mean, who wants to see a film where Indy goes evil and beats up a kid?) All the same, the tracks from temple such as ‘British Relief’ are just so good, that there’s almost a balance struck. Almost.
‘Indiana Jones: The Complete Soundtracks Collection’ – not a complete collection, but still a gem for the John Williams fan looking for a more comprehensive collection of his musical scores.

November 20, 2008

More nightmarish fun with Blue Cross Blue Shield

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free clip art is a wonderful thingAnnual Enrollment time is upon us again, and once again I have to make the decision between the worst of two (or three) evils.

My ongoing struggle with Blue Cross has been one of such utter soul-draining futility that when I need “unnatural” services like chiropractic or acupuncture, I just pay out of pocket. Sadly, the BCBS copays for these service tend to be equal, or more expensive than, the actual service itself, so working out a cash plan and just paying that way (having used a health spending account to dodge the taxes) seems to be the only way to get assurance that the bill will be paid.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has been notorious in how POORLY it has represented my health needs over the years, to the point that, were I to take a bullet to the shoulder, I might do the John Rambo repair steps instead of bothering to deal with Blue Cuss and their horrendously muddled bureaucracy of co-payments, co-insurance, and general headache and difficulty.

Years ago, while my wife was seeing a chiropractor for care for CHRONIC, ONGOING back pain, with medical records to verify her need for chiropractic care, Blue Curse just decided to up and stop at 20 payments, because they saw “no medical need” for the adjustments beyond the 20. But, in their twisted, evil reasoning, once the calendar rolled over to Jan. 1st, they’d cover for another 20 adjustments at the chiropractor. Huh, so as of the turn of the calendar year, suddenly… the medical need had resurfaced! Unbelievable.

Then a couple years back, we went through the arduous process of having BCBS cover service for a midwife for a homebirth. Wow, talking to BCBS about homebirth is like talking about, well, insert your own analogy of discussing something incredible, remarkable, and uncommon to someone who is only used to approving drugs and butcher-shop medical practices (“You’d like to surgically insert a small plastic band into your body and bind this around your lower esophagus? Sure, we’ll pay gladly!”), and you get the idea. Well, BCBS “approved” this midwife, but since this midwife was out of network, the “approval” only covered up to a deceptive “hidden cap”, of which they didn’t bother to mention. Their letter stated “100% coverage… but only up to a twisted and evil hidden cap.”

So we went ahead and contracted with the midwife, and then afterwords, BCBS dropped the bomb and let me and the midwife know that they’d only be paying about HALF of the full service amount. I think the bill was a couple thousand, and BCBS was just being evil about paying anything beyond their hidden amount, regardless of my many appeals made to them. The remarkable thing is, were my wife to go to the hospital and elect for a C-Section (easily over $10k) BCBS would have gleefully paid this full amount. A homebirth? How backwards and ridiculous! Never!

So another option this year is Aetna and a health spending account plan. Having researched this carefully, all I can conclude is that this plan is for money-minded accountants who are single and live in optimal good health. It’s a complete gamble – in fact, too much of a gamble to credibly consider. One major catastrophe medically and I’d be destroyed financially. BCBS on the other hand, after sucking me as dry financially as possible, will pay for services (assuming I get to the RIGHT hospital with the RIGHT doctors, make all my co-payments, and carefully review each bill top to bottom, and, when needed [as has been] resubmit the same bill a couple times to make sure that it’s paid.)

So I’m stuck with BCBS this year again. I wonder if things will change with a new administration, or if my suffering with insurance is just an ongoing reality to accept?

November 17, 2008

December Sun Ad #3

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I’m realizing in prepping for the web comic that I have a TON of inking to get scanned. While I think it will be great to get some of this material digital, so that I can modify it with Photoshop, I also know that it’s going to be a ton of work. But all the same, I think it will be a neat experiment to add deleted pages back into story if for the only reason in seeing how the story flows with the additions made back in.

Posting another ad here. Yes, the text is loaded with pure corniness, but I love stuff like this in comic books. The villain who gets away and plots his revenge. Great stuff.

I’ve also determined a game plan for the webcomic: a daily strip Monday through Friday, and nothing on the weekends. I do this because I’m generally filling myself with computer radiation all week long, and I’ve actually started a computer “fast” on weekends: no computers, no television, no media. Just family time and, of course, house chores.

November 14, 2008

December 2008 – Part 2

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Another early ad for the DSCOMIC site.

November 13, 2008

December 2008

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Another earlier ad for the prelaunch of DSCOMIC.

November 10, 2008

Superman: Doomsday

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The library (my favorite source of ALL media) recently ordered a copy of ‘Superman: Doomsday’ for me to check out, and I wanted to write out a few thoughts about this.
First and foremost about this, I was disappointed by the inclusion of language and violence in this film. Granted, it’s mild by Hollywood standards today, but all the same, seeing Doomsday actually KILL civilians just didn’t seem right in an animated Superman story. I was surprised that they chose to do this as a PG-13 film – I can only assume they were aiming at an older audience (or an audience that gets it’s jollys from watching iconic childhood heroes turn more violent.) As far as the story goes, it was passable, although we have virtually NO background on Doomsday. He just shows up, fights Superman to the death, and dies in the process. Just a little more background on him, and what made him so powerful, would have been appreciated.
The film sortof follows what you would expect, if you followed the ‘Death of Superman’ stuff in the comics: Superman fights Doomsday, dies, then returns. But here, he never really dies, but just got… really weak or something? Also, there isn’t any of the story involving Steel, Superboy, etc, and the Cyborg idea was sortof reworked as a Superman clone idea instead (a brainchild of Lex Luthor, of course.)
The animation is fine, although the excessive jaw-sizes and eyebrows that slope BELOW the eyelines… I dunno, I find that a little ridiculous. In fact, with so much of the battle sequences, they just seem to have that shallow fakeness of watching Star Wars CG clones battling. After awhile, it just gets sortof tiring. The music is forgettable: no mention of John Williams’ thematic material (not that it would have helped much.)
Superman is battling Doomsday and, at one point, soars into the sky above the earth, in order to return and slam Doomsday into the earth. Clearly aiming for a deathblow with this maneuver, I’m wondering: why wouldn’t Superman just hurl Doomsday into the sun? Or why not the void of space? Superman was aware of the casualties by this point, and clearly by this point in the fight, he knew he was equally matched, if not outmatched. Why not avoid any more risk of death and just end the fight by plunging Doomsday into the sun?
Ah well. Interesting fare, but I wish they had aimed at an all-audience viewership and removed the death and profanity.

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