Notes/first impressions: Ian Gillan – Access All Areas

April 18th, 2015 by Reinder

* Live recording from the Naked Thunder tour, 1990(ish)
* Probably not from a single concert, and at only 11 tracks, not a full concert set, I think. Fade-ins and fade-outs between songs
* Songs from Gillan's career from Deep Purple through original version of Gillan, plus Naked Thunder and Gillan/Glover tracks
* Ian Gillan in good voice, full and powerful sounding but with a ragged edge to his vocal tone; less so after he warms up
* There's a bit of Hammond organ there, but otherwise sound palette is very late '80s, early 90s hard rock with dominant drums and synthetic textures
* Band professional but not stellar, similar to Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow or Whitesnake in the 1990s. Sounding good and powerful but not bringing anything extra to the table like Deep Purple at their best
* In the years just before and during Gillan's absence from Deep Purple, Deep Purple weren't at their best and didn't bring anything extra to the table either, and this live album is better than Purple's Nobody's Perfect, at least.
* On the whole, I like it. Good to hear "Gut Reaction" and "No More Cane on the Brazos" again.

Reading for the Hugos

April 18th, 2015 by Reinder

Following this year's bullshit surrounding the Hugo Award nominations, I've decided to get involved. I got a supporting membership for Worldcon 2015, which should give me the right to vote and possibly an electronic kit that contains parts of, some, or all of the nominated works, depending on how this year's rights negotiations go.

In the wake of the effective takeover of the nominations by not one, but two politically-driven slates of varying rabidity, with the slate of the most noxious, fascist organisation being the most effective, three different basic strategies for responding have emerged:

1. Nuke It From Orbit: the Hugos have lost their legitimacy and even non-slate winners would be tainted by having had to compete with works that were not selected on merit but as part of a right-wing campaign. Therefore, vote No Award on everything and try again next year. This is the position of Phil Sandifer, among others.

2. Cauterize And Amputate: Vote all slate nominees below No Award or leave them off the ballot altogether. Ensure that only works nominated on merit get awards, even if that means there will not be a Hugo Award in some categories. Several reasonable people have suggested this, though I can't remember who right now. There are guides for how to vote if you want to do this.

3. Business as Usual: Read what you want, until you don't want to anymore and vote whichever of the nominees you think deserve the award the best. The system is robust enough to deal with this intrusion. This is the position taken by George R.R. Martin and John Scalzi, among others.

As is my wont, I can see merit in all these positions and actually go back and forth between them. I don't know which approach I will take, though I expect No Award will sweep up a lot of my votes. I have, however, decided to base my reading approach on Strategy 2: Cauterize and Amputate. What this means:

I will read in the following order:
1. Non-slate books get read first, and I won't wait for the Hugo packet. I'll pay for those.
2. If I still have time after that (my fiction-reading time has been so limited, I only read two novels last year), I will, at my sole discretion, pick some of the nominees that were on the Sad Puppy slate but not the Rabid Puppy slate that I think might have made it to the list on merit, if I squint a bit. I will look at sales figures and the authors' general reputation, and I may or may not decide to pay for the works.
3. After that, other Sad Puppy Nominees, but only if they are in the Hugo packet.
4. After that, Rabid Puppy nominees not called Vox Day/Theodore Beale. If I wanted to read the self-published works of a fascist and literary fraud hanging with scumbags in Italy, I have some Ezra Pound poems stashed away somewhere. I will not pay for any of these.
5. Vox Day/Theodore Beale has already got all the consideration that he deserves from me, which is less than none at all.

I have a vacation starting today, so I'm starting tonight with Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor.

Albums bought in 2014.

December 7th, 2014 by Reinder

Everyone's doing their end-of-year stuff already. I don't feel like I'm done trying out new albums just yet. Below, however, is the full list of albums and singles I bought (yes, bought, though I've included all the freebbies I've got as well) in 2014. In most cases, they were tested on Spotify first before I bought them, so I already knew I liked them before I spent my money. This year, I kept track of what medium I bought them in as well. Turns out I do actually still like the CD format.

Albums and singles bought/acquired in 2014, not including thrift store finds

Afterpartees - First/Last (Vinyl single, freebie, RSD, 2014)
Amsterdam Klezmer Band - Blitzmash (LP with download code, RSD) (2014)
Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus (CD+DVD) (2014)
Ian Anderson - Thick As a Brick Live in Iceland (Blu-Ray) (2014)
Bombino - Agamgam 2004 (LP with download code, RSD) (2014)
Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (Audiophile Vinyl)
Kate Bush - The Sensual World (Audiophile Vinyl)
Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Collectif Africa Stop Ebola - Africa Stop Ebola (iTunes)(2014)
Deep Purple - Black Night/Woman From Tokyo (Vinyl single, RSD) (2014)
Deep Purple - Live in Verona (DVD) (2014)
Deep Purple - Made in Japan 40th Anniversary edition, deluxe edition (2014)
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (iTunes)
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita - Clychau Dibon (CD) (2014)
Peter Gabriel - Back To Front (Blu-Ray) (2014)
Macy Gray - The Way (CD) (2014)
Dorris Henderson & John Renbourn - Here We Go (CD)
Jethro Tull - A Passion Play (40th Anniversary Edition, CD/DVD, includes the Chateau D'Hérouville Sessions) (2014)
Salif Keita - M’Bemba (CD)
Seckou Keita - Tama-Silo (CD)
Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba - Jama Ko (CD)
Bettye Lavette - Change is Gonna Come Sessions EP (iTunes)
Shelagh McDonald - Stargazer (CD, 1999 reissue)
Opeth - Pale Communion (Vinyl) (2014)
Pink Floyd - The Endless River (CD) (2014)
Queen - Live at the Rainbow 1974 (2CD) (2014)
Queen - Live at the Rainbow 1974 (DVD) (2014)
Reveller - Pulse (2:51) (CD single, freebie, RSD) (2014)
Anoushka Shankar - Traces of You (CD, bought in London)
Nina Simone - Best of (iTunes)
Saffron Summerfield - The Early Years (iTunes)
St. Vincent - Digital Witness (Vinyl single, freebie) (2014)
St. Vincent - St. Vincent (CD) (2014)
Kate Tempest - Everybody Down (CD) (2014)
Thompson - Family (CD) (2014)
The Touré-Raichel Collective - The Tel Aviv Sessions (CD)
Rokia Traoré - Beautiful Africa (CD)
Rokia Traoré - Tchamantche (CD)
Rokia Traoré - Tuit Tuit (Smadj Remix) (iTunes)
Rokia Traoré - Wanita (iTunes)
Rokia Traoré - Mouneïssa (iTunes)
Various - Celebrating Jon Lord (2DVD) (2014)
Various - Desert Blues 3: Entre Dunes et Savanes
Various - Prog 26: As Sure as Eggs is Eggs (Free CD with Prog 26)
Various - The Dreamers (Free CD with Mojo, September 2014)
Kristeen Young - The Knife Shift (iTunes) (2014)

I'm not going to say anything about these records just yet - I just want to be able to show people this list if the topic of "what did you like in 2014" comes up, because I know it will, frequently. For convenience, here's a summary of records bought this year that were actually released in 2014:

Amsterdam Klezmer Band - Blitzmash
Ian Anderson - Homo Erraticus
Ian Anderson - Thick As a Brick Live in Iceland
Bombino - Agamgam 2004
Collectif Africa Stop Ebola - Africa Stop Ebola
Deep Purple - Black Night/Woman From Tokyo
Deep Purple - Live in Verona
Deep Purple - Made in Japan 40th Anniversary edition, deluxe edition
Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita - Clychau Dibon
Peter Gabriel - Back To Front
Macy Gray - The Way
Jethro Tull - A Passion Play (40th Anniversary Edition)
Opeth - Pale Communion
Pink Floyd - The Endless River
Queen - Live at the Rainbow 1974
Reveller - Pulse (2:51)
St. Vincent - Digital Witness
St. Vincent - St. Vincent
Kate Tempest - Everybody Down
Thompson - Family
Various - Celebrating Jon Lord
Various - Prog 26: As Sure as Eggs is Eggs
Various - The Dreamers
Kristeen Young - The Knife Shift

...I don't think I've ever bought as many albums in the year they were released as this year. On the other hand, it's clear that baby boomer music still has a massive hold over me.

RoCR: Comic for September 1, 2008 fixed up with digital inks and colours.

November 17th, 2014 by Reinder

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic page for September 1, 2008 has been digitally inked, coloured and re-lettered.

Bye-bye brother Bartholomew!

Page 64 of Feral. Bye-bye brother Bartholomew!

Colors by Aggie Janicot.

RoCR: Comic for August 25, 2008 fixed up with digital inks and colours.

November 16th, 2014 by Reinder

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic page for August 25, 2008 has been digitally inked, coloured and re-lettered.

An awkward conversation for Brother Bartholomew...

Page 63 of Feral. Colors by Aggie Janicot.

Colors by Aggie Janicot.

RoCR: Comic for May 9, 2010 fixed up with digital inks and colours.

November 1st, 2014 by Reinder

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic page for May 9, 2010 has been digitally inked, coloured and re-lettered.

Page 101 of Feral. Colors by Aggie Janicot

Page 101 of Feral. Colors by Aggie Janicot

Colors by Aggie Janicot.

RoCR: Comic for August 18, 2008 fixed up with digital inks and colours.

October 23rd, 2014 by Reinder

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic page for August 18, 2008 now has digital inks and colours thanks to Aggie Janicot (and me). More to come.

This one had actually been sitting in my files for a few months. I finally got around to adding the new lettering and completing the page today.

RoCR: Comic for April 27, 2010 fixed up with digital inks and colors.

May 11th, 2014 by Reinder

The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for April 27, 2010 has been given a makeover with fresh digital inks and colors and new lettering. Shading by Aggie Janicot.

Aggie also did this:

Silly version of the page. This could become a tradition.

Silly version of the page. This could become a tradition.

RoCR: Comic for April 11, 2010 has been digitally inked, coloured and re-lettered.

April 29th, 2014 by Reinder

Read it here: Let them stew, I say!. Highlights and shade by Aggie Janicot.

Game plan for the rest of the week: I want to go back to the earliest penciled pages and digitally ink as many of them as I can. In addition, I want to create at least one more new page for Abúi's Travels and maybe one for yet another comic.

Digitally inking those old pencil pages is turning out to be a smooth, easy and fun process now. I am, however, aware that as I gain consistency throughout the series, I'm losing some of the things that only pencil can do. Right now, I'm looking at a silhouette of two characters, but when I look closer, what looks like a flat dark grey shadow is in fact full of nuances indicating shadows, highlights, the hems of costumes, and so on. You can't reproduce that in ink. Well, I can't.

I'm also taking a leaf out of my wife's book and revising as I go. So far, there isn't an awful lot that desperately needs it. While pages 62-70 aren't the very best in the storyline, they are what they are and I'm happy to leave them mostly as they are. But I leave the option to make art changes open on a panel-by-panel basis.

New Abúi’s Travels page on ComicFury, my wife’s comics, and Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

April 28th, 2014 by Reinder

And while we're on the subject of Abúi's Travels, there's a new page up. This is one of the biggest-looking pages I've ever come up with, due to the detailed backgrounds and the shading and highlights provided by Rona. It's also got a ton of cameos from other webcomics. Backgrounds and crowds make for a lot of extra work, but in this case, it was worth it.

Rona's been updating her own science-fiction comic Hekatomb on a weekly basis for almost a year now. Lately, after a catastrophic CMS update, she's also been re-uploading her vampire horror comic American Gothic Daily in a revised version. What she does is she takes each old page and draws/paints digitally over them, expands the canvas size and adds new materials. While reconstructing the site, she posts the old versions of each page as an addendum to the new ones, so you can see how much progress she has made since she started the comic in 2006. It's a very fast, efficient process with staggering results. Go see it.

I have a week off right now, so I've been working on Feral some. I've been inking penciled pages from 2008-2010 and adding color flats to them, which I give to Rona to add shades and highlights to. Yesterday, I gave her the revised version of the page for April 11, 2010 and she sent me back this:

Too silly is about right.

Silly version of page 97 of Feral