December Sun – A Web Comic

May 27, 2010

Jango and free streaming internet radio

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 3:03 pm

I’m a big fan of internet radio stations that let you endlessly stream, and rate, music.  I usually listen to this when I’m working on Photoshop or something on the computer and I’d like something to listen to.  I’ve used LastFm and Pandora a great deal, so I was curious to try out Jango when I found out about it.  It’s a decent system – not perfect, as I’ll get to – but I think its a nice compliment to sites like LastFm and I’m curious to work with it for awhile.

Similar to those other two, the music keeps streaming based on your tastes.  I started with John Williams, and I received a stream of other film composers.  Eventually it branched into other electronic artists, and I’ve gradually been selecting artists and songs that I enjoy.

Anyhow, as far as the player goes, one of the nice features is a PAUSE button, that LastFm doesn’t have.  Perish the thought someone should get a phone call, or need to use the bathroom, during a song.  So with LastFm, you either wait for a song you like to end, or just stop it and hope that the random generator spinning songs revisits that same song again. 

And like the others, you have the ability rate songs, but with a fairly limited option system of ‘frowny face’, ‘smiley face’, and ‘BIG smiley face’(?)  Well, its a step above Pandora with a yes/no boolean, but all the same, I miss Launchcast where you had a 5 star scale, AND a ban option.  Additionally, if I hear a track and I want to “frowny face” it and never hear it again, hitting that button should immediately skip to the next track, shouldn’t it?  I mean, is the logic that, “Ok, you don’t like it, but keep listening anyhow and MAYBE you’ll change your mind?”  Well, that might work for some music, but while I do personally enjoy a lot of Jerry Goldsmith music, his Omen music definitely does NOT work for me, so if I hit “frowny”, I want the next song.

Otherwise, the system is a good one, and there’s been a decent amount of music played.  Another interesting feature is that you will periodically receive a track by a random unknown artist and you can give them an approval or skip and move on.  I like that, and I don’t mind the break in film music for something like this.

May 24, 2010

December Sun #5 – Page 13

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , — admin @ 10:57 pm

Another battle sequence page with plenty of destruction and sound effects.  Again, it’s a lighter issue this time.. not a lot of thought required (although this book has never been about deep thought…)

May 14, 2010

Another imaginary and pointless conversation with Steven Spielberg

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 10:53 pm

(I write these imaginary conversations with Spielberg, simply because he’s the most iconic film-maker of my particular generation.  Same with George Lucas, I suppose – but to be honest, you could fill the blank here with any Hollywood director/producer and the conversation would go the same way in my idiotic imagination.  Rob, there comes a time to give up on the dream and get a life…)

INT – POSH HOLLYWOOD RESTAURANT

Rob enters restaurant looking completely out of place in jeans and old cotton shirt.  Clientèle look at him repugnantly when suddenly, Spielberg notices Rob, waves, and becons him to a table in the back of the restaurant.

Rob sits and the two begin discussing December Sun, the move (I told you this was delusional)

ROB

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me about the screenplay today, Mr. Speilberg – and thank you for compensating for the flight, the lodging and meals (again, suspend reality here)

SPIELBERG

My pleasure.  I’ve been reading the screenplay that you wrote, and I think that you have something good here.  I’m definitely willing to pay you several million dollars for the character and the screenplay, but I think there need to be a few changes…

ROB

Oh really?

SPIELBERG

Yes.  I noticed that there is a marked lack of any profanity in the script.  The strongest expletive that you use is on pg. 352 – you feature a scene with a Hungarian baker tripping over some marbles, dropping a meringue pie, and uttering the word “Blast!”

ROB

Hehe, yes, the script is filled with mirth-filled moments of lively humor like that.

SPIELBERG

Absolutely right, and when I read that particular sequence I was in stitches for hours… particularly the following sequence with the string bass and the Eskimo relay race…

ROB

Great stuff, but whats wrong with a film that doesn’t incorporate profanity?

SPIELBERG

Well, nothing really.  But Hollywood movie producers these days just feel called to ruin a perfectly good story with strong language, graphic violence and adult content.  For some pointless and unexplainable reason, everything these days needs to be marketed as a mildly-offensive PG-13 grade of film or stronger.

ROB

Right, thats pretty much why I don’t watch films any more.

An awkward silence follows, and a waiter steps up to refill the glasses with water.  Spielberg continues.

ROB

So what changes do you have in mind?

SPIELBERG

Well, we want to take December Sun and turn him into a dark vigilantee.  He’s a cop with special powers, and his partner is killed in battle by an evil oil industry tycoon.  December Sun sinks into a depressed, alcohol-fueled rage and…

ROB

I think you’re taking this a little off course…

SPIELBERG

I did mention that we’d give you several million dollars for this character?

ROB

Go on.

SPIELBERG

…And then, December Sun, realizing that he needs to find the strength within, listens to a Celine Dion song, stands tall, and saves the world from evil corporate greed.

ROB

Sounds completely off the beaten track, but as long as you pay me.  Now tell me about the music.

SPIELBERG

John Williams.  At least, SOME John Williams.  He’ll write the score, and then just like we did in the last Indy film, we will cut and paste in portions of music from other films – we’ll do this because our digital animators are so far behind that the music will be written before the digital material is completed, so then we later need to apply musical “band-aids” of cues copied from different films in order to cover those digital scenes.

ROB

As long as you don’t reuse any of his music from “Diamondhead.”  Speaking of special effects, lets talk about this.  I want virtually NO computer-generated special effects.  I want old-school special effects:  wire-work, models, costumes, hand-puppets…

Spielberg stares blankly.  Waiter delivers his salad.

ROB (continuing)

I think that too many semi-decent films have been RUINED recently by too much CGI – or even by one or two sequences clearly augmented by computer graphics, in which the entire film was ruined.  I would submit that computers have not made films better:  they’ve just fused cinema with video game sequences.

SPIELBERG

(eating a raddish).  Really.

ROB

Oh, absolutely.  Films are without character and soul when the stories are told by computer-animated characters.  These are worse than cartoons: they are lifeless representations on the screen that don’t reflect REAL light, don’t cast real shadows, and don’t breathe and exhale the same real air of reality that you and I do.  If the film must feature an inane story and a horrifically fractured soundtrack, so be it, but if December Sun the Movie is just turned into a giant cinematic video game, then what’s the point?

SPIELBERG

Box office ticket sales.

ROB

Oh yeah, that.

You know, this whole exercise is dumb.  Who am I kidding – the draw and appeal of creating a comic book-turned-motion picture is frankly idiotic.  I think its time to give up on this pipe dream and move on.  Or maybe my direction is all wrong and I should turn DS into manga…

May 12, 2010

December Sun #5 – Page 12

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , — admin @ 10:35 pm

Yeah, I’m horribly late with this…. a little over two weeks.  But the show will go on.

BTW – the first panel of this page is intended to be an immediate sequel to the last comment made of the previous page. Hit the previous link, reread Dad’s comments in the last panel, and hopefully the first panel of this page makes a little more sense.  Maybe it will, maybe it won’t – but I thought it was kindof funny.

May 3, 2010

Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 – A very entertaining time drain…

Filed under: 3 — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:37 pm


Just when I think I have a better grasp on what little time I have, and right when I think I’m doing my best to avoid unnecessary distractions, along comes something like ‘Bookword Adventures Volume 2‘. I played the first Bookworm Adventures game, thoroughly enjoyed it, and I would just happen to visit PopCap games to check for an update right as a sequel rolled out. Drat.

Bookworm Adventures Book 2 is a lot of fun, and in many ways is an improvement over the original. Its not perfect, and I have noticed a couple bugs along the way (namely missing words, both complex ones listed in Merriam Websters, but also some smaller obscure words as well) but overall the pace and gameplay is a lot of fun, and the additional mini-games are a nice feature as well.

Two improvements I’d love to see are: instead of Lex or the enemy just making inane comments during the battles, why not throw out the definition of the word being played? would it be that hard to make a web service call to some dictionary site to retrieve back a word definition and throw it on the screen? I suggest this because I’ve noticed that on a fair number of times I’ve spelled a word by mistake that I have no idea what it means (I’m still not sure what “qua” is).

Additionally, the ‘scramble’ feature is nice, but I’d love to see a ‘selective scramble’, or a way to lock certain letter tiles you want to keep and just scramble the rest. This would be cool for trying to build massive words. Otherwise the only option is to save the letters you want and just try to play off the unneeded letters, and that can be a pain (or difficult when all of the other letters are just “i” and “u”).

Bookworm Adventures, both book 1 and 2, are both a lot of fun, and actually put the brain to use, so they go a step beyond silliness like shooter games (or even games like Tetris) because you need to formulate words that destroy the enemy before they destroy you. It’s actually pretty tame for kids to play as well (aside from some mildly creepy ghost characters in the 5th book.) The biggest negative: its a highly-addictive game that you get started playing and you totally lose track of time. But its time well-spent.

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