December Sun – A Web Comic

October 22, 2009

“Star Wars in Concert” – Fun idea, but I’d prefer to hear Williams himself, not just his music

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:21 am

The music of Star Wars by John Williams without John Williams!So I was reading about “Star Wars in Concert” on the Star Wars website, and it’s an interesting idea: a full orchestra plays the music of Star Wars while they show scenes of the films. The concert also includes rare props from the George Lucas collection.

It’s an interesting idea, and I’m sure the concert sounds fantastic, but I doubt it’s as much fun without John Williams himself directing the music. It’s interesting to me, and a little telling, that Lucas, who I think really exploited Williams’ talent in the last couple Star Wars films with extensive reused and cut-n-pasted music, is now going a step beyond and is squeezing as much value as he can out of Williams’ music, sans Williams. I’m sure John Williams still sees a share of this (I would hope so!) but I’ll wager that the lion’s share goes to the Lucas empire.

The other thing that sells me a little short of this kind of concert is the fact that, while I enjoy the big, brassy thematic material like the “Imperial March”, it’s actually the smaller, more subtle tracks nestled within the films itself that I enjoy the most. I sincerely doubt that the concert would play things like “The death of Yoda” or the brief goodbye music between Luke and Han prior to the battle of Hoth. Yet it’s tracks like that I find the most remarkable musically. Even from the prequels, I love tracks like “Talk of podracing” – very placid material from a scene with Qui-Gon Jinn talking with Anakin’s mom.

If Lucas really wanted to get me out of my house and bring me into a concert, here’s how he could do it: he’d have live concerts in which the orchestra played all of the CUT music from the Star Wars films – music by Williams that Lucas didn’t want to use and that he scrapped from the films. This is what I’d be interested in hearing. Clearly there was music written and unused in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” – otherwise why are there huge segments of reused Williams music in both of these films? I sincerely doubt that Williams, scoring “Attack of the Clones”, thought to himself, “Hmmm, for this segment where Anakin flies to the big robot planet, I’d like to reuse a huge chunk of my own music from an unrelated scene in ‘Phantom Menace’…”
Why was so much of John Williams’ music reused in these last two films of the prequels?

Anyhow, if I was suddenly, inexplicably able to afford the Star Wars in Concert concert I might check it out, but I’d really like to hear “Star Wars in Concert conducted by John Williams” instead (and featuring sequences of deleted music, too.)

October 20, 2009

Last of the Vinyl

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 8:52 am

The last of my record collection

I just listed my last vinyl record on Ebay.  It’s the soundtrack to the film “The Accidental Tourist” by composer John Williams.  The film was awful, but the music is some of the most incredible material Williams has ever written.  I own it in a digital format (and curiously, I originally owned it on cassette too, another dead medium) so I really don’t need the vinyl version, hence off it goes on Ebay.

I used to own stacks of records, and I remember well these massive, bulky things taking up tons of space with bulky, papery jackets, with black disks wrapped up in plastic packaging. I even remember those little b-side albums, that required the funny little plastic adapter in the center in order to play on the turn-table. All of these are long gone: I either donated them to Goodwill or sold them at garage sales (or lost them. Over all my moves over the years, I’ve managed to lose a lot of books and music for some mysterious reason. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a dusty box sitting in the crawlspace of my old house in Illinois.)

Anyhow, It’s strange thinking that vinyl albums used to be THE format for all music.  I remember being at the mall and going to the “record store” and flipping through the stacks of records.  The last time I can clearly remember looking at anything vinyl would be a record store near Florida State in Tallahassee (I attended FSA for two years but hated the impersonal size of the state-school classes.)  The record place was called “Vinyl Fever”, and considering this was about 20 years ago, I have no idea if the place is even still around or not.

Now, it’s starting to feel like CD’s are more and more irrelevant.  Most music I listen to now is either streaming internet radio, or tracks I’ve downloaded (iTunes, etc) and a majority of my listening is MP3-based on my Phillips GoGear (the current replacement of my recently-deceased Coby MP3 player).  I have to wonder what the next format will be: audio just streamed directly into the brain by broadband waves?

October 19, 2009

December Sun #4 – Page 8

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Page 8, and the adventurers draw closer to solving the mystery.  Sort of.

October 12, 2009

December Sun #4 – Page 7

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 9:40 am

This page is back on the road, and I got crazy with the wax pencil and ink.  I also get really sloppy in my inability to draw cars, but ultimately, who cares?  It’s all for fun anyhow…

October 9, 2009

Shooting the moon?

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NASA Shooting the Moon

I’ve been reading in the news about NASA shooting a rocket at the moon, and while I know that space rocks routinely smash into the moon, I still can’t help but wonder if shooting a rocket at our celestial night-time source of light isn’t the greatest idea.

For instance, what if there’s some carbon-based life form under the surface, that’s patiently put up with us until now, but the rocket blast is the final straw?  I mean, what if there’s some advanced, lunar subterranean civilization, and this rocket just annoyingly shook up everything beneath the surface? What if there’s retaliation?  And what if there was a layer of lunar crust that happened to be highly volatile, and shooting into this caused the moon to explode?  NASA would owe us all a BIG apology for that one.

I hope NASA knows what it’s doing, but if they really wanted to get below the surface of the moon, they could have just contracted Bruce Willis and his oil-rig friends to fly up there, suit up, and do the drilling (it’s completely plausible…)

How to Verify Your Blog with Google Webmaster Tools

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 8:06 am

I found an excellent guide of how to verify your blog using Google’s Webmaster Tools. I think that the only things needed are a WordPress blog and a Gmail account, both of which I have. The steps offered on the site are very straight-forward and helpful.

What’s really fascinating from this is that, once you’ve verified your site, you can use the Webmaster Tools to see what the top search queries are for your site. It’s actually funny, and a little strange, that for this site, the top search is “listen to music clipart.” Apparently the google system has realized that beyond just posting comics, I often rant about my fascination with free internet radio, while often copiously using free clip art imagery for some of my posts (and I lost that disk too! Crud!)

Anyhow, for anyone with a blog I’d suggest checking out that link, verifying your blog and then using the Google Webmaster Tools to see some of the fascinating (and funny. Some of the searching include things like “stargate cheesy” and “coby mp3 website” –I’m guessing someone else had issues with their player suddenly not working?)

October 7, 2009

How to Upgrade WordPress, if you were a dummy like me and installed it in the wrong directory

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 11:06 am
1) Before you do anything, say a prayer that this works.
2) Log into your WordPress account and deactivate your widgets.  I have 5 running.  I shut them all off.
3) Log into FTP and access your web folders/directories
4) I went into the WordPress-2-6.3 folder, and RENAMED the folders for wp-admin and wp-includes to old-wp-admin and old-wp-includes, respectfully.
5) I can’t emphasize enough, CAREFULLY follow all the steps given by wordpress, especially the part about the wp-config file.

Just sharing some of my tips for upgrading WordPress.  I had version 2.6.3 and moved up to 2.8.4.  Also, I had it installed in a goofy sub/sub directory, making my site a navigational mess.  I finally cleaned that all up, and upgraded WordPress to be in the base directory.  I’m grateful to the WordPress forum folks who posted the steps that I needed to make the upgrade.  You can read the post here.

I DO NOT claim any liability if anyone uses these steps below and encounters problems!  I’m merely sharing the steps I took, and I would STRONGLY urge you to post any questions that you have about doing a WordPress upgrade on the WordPress forums.

So in a nutshell, here are the steps:

1) Before you do anything, say a prayer that this works.

2) Log into your WordPress account and deactivate your widgets.  I had 5 running, including ComicPress manager.  I shut them all off.

3) Log into FTP and access your web folders/directories

4) I went into the WordPress-2-6.3 folder, and RENAMED the folders for wp-admin and wp-includes to old-wp-admin and old-wp-includes, respectfully.  I could have deleted these, but I just renamed them for now, thinking that if I did this wrong, I could just restore the names back.

5) I can’t emphasize enough, CAREFULLY follow all the steps given by wordpress, especially the part about the wp-config file!

6) I cleared away wp-admin and wp-includes, uploaded the new folders, and made the wp-config file changes.

7) I then logged into my site, where an update process automatically took place.

8) I then followed the steps in this doc to move everything.

9) Now, some of my posts were still referencing directories in the wordpress/wordpress2-6-3 folders.  I KEPT these files out there, deciding to go this avenue instead of redirecting.  Redirection is an option, but I chose the easy step and just kept the image files out there.  Yeah, I’ll probably exceed my site’s size limitation at some point, but whatever.  It’s all for fun anyhow.

10) I logged in, made a sample post and confirmed it worked.

11) Prayer of thanks.  It took awhile to FTP everything and complete all the steps, but it was worth it.

October 5, 2009

December Sun #4 – Page 6

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:47 am

Ah, I’m loving this WordPress upgrade on this site.  It makes running this webcomic so much easier with all the functions and features added.

Here’s page #6 – the gripping diner dialog is finished, and it’s back to action… or more talk, possibly.  Things pick up soon though… just hang in there.

October 2, 2009

New Site Banner

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 3:07 pm

While I was updating/moving WordPress files last night  (a slow and time-consuming process with an old computer) I drew and inked a new banner for this site.  I wanted to make it larger, and something that would splash most of the page with art.  While I have fun toying with the code and functionality/widgets of this site, at the core of things what I enjoy most is the art, so I’m trying to make the site more centered on that.

The old banner was fine but a little simple.  It looks like all the characters are statically standing around waiting for something.  Tense action at the DMV!  Anyhow, here it is one more time, but it’s time for the new banner now.

Old December Sun banner - tense action at the Department of Motor Vehicles

WordPress updated! (sort of)

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , — admin @ 8:23 am

Last night and this morning I made the update to WordPress 2.8.4, AND moved the site to (instead of incorrectly having everything in sub-folders and doing a wacky 301 redirect from the root folder.)

So far so good, other than a few missing image files.  I need to run a smoke test of this site and then get everything fixed, but so far things are looking good.

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