This page is no longer active

Da Blog has moved to Please update your bookmarks, links, and RSS readers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I warned you that once I got going with the OOTS posts, I wouldn't be able to stop.

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized surrender.)

So it turns out I was wrong, and the title of my last OOTS post was incorrect. He did manage to stop Kubota from getting away.

Couple of points of interest, though. Kubota seems awfully confident. Is it because he sees Elan's reaction coming, or does he have another plan up his sleeve? Does he plan on killing Hinjo himself once he's in custody, or does he just feel confident he can beat the magistrate?

(Or... heaven forbid... has he paid off the magistrate?)

Second, Elan actually seems to be slightly upset that Kubota turned himself in, and ultimately gives in to his temptation to punch him in the face.

There's something to be said about that, something about how close Elan has really gotten to Therkla after really only knowing her for a smattering of strips, something about Elan's current maturity level and control over his emotions, but it took me too long to write even these words and I don't know if I had anything to say about it anyway.

Only six more strips until the big 600th episode!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 9/20-21

All times PDT.

9:30-12:45 PM: College football, Alabama @ Arkansas (Raycom Sports). Look for Alabama to be surprisingly strong when the new ratings come out on Monday.

12:45-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). As usual, this is the only place baseball can fit.

4-6 PM: WNBA Basketball, New York @ Connecticut (NBATV). Now the playoffs are in full swing.

6-8 PM: WNBA Basketball, Sacramento @ San Antonio (NBATV). Man, the schedule really gets cramped this week and next with all the stuff I have to squeeze in.
9-3 PM: Ryder Cup, final round (NBC). Is it just me, or does it seem like only sports journalists and groups that cover sports (ie ESPN) care about the Ryder Cup? And gee, it seems a lot bigger now that ESPN is covering the final round...

Honorable Mention: 10-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Dover race (ABC). When I looked, both this race and the next one were identified as the "Camping World 400", but with different "presented by" sponsors.

5-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Dallas @ Green Bay (NBC). Obligatory NFL game that has to be SNF.

The worst part? He failed at both options.

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized Oscar bait.)
If you read OOTS, either run far, far away from this page right now, or click the thumbnail to read the strip before continuing. A spoiler warning is in effect any time I talk OOTS, but it goes double here.

Well, it appears we now know exactly to what extent Therkla's role in the strip is/was intended to be.

My personal interpretation of events in OOTS is that everything Rich throws in there is there for a reason. That's why it's likely Durkon's one-time flame Hilgya is bound to come back at some point, literally or metaphorically; that's why I'm half-convinced there has to be some sort of fallout from the Order's encounter with bandits. And that's why I have a feeling Kubota's plots are about to develop in such a way that Elan will find himself really, really wishing he still had Therkla around. I don't see them burning any sort of resurrection spell on her, given her last wish, and especially with this death scene.

(Well, and given she'd just turned good.)

Well, that or Elan's encounter with Therkla will lead him to grow distant with Haley if, as appears likely, their reunion is imminent. But I do know there are quite a few people who were awaiting a potential Therkla-Haley catfight who are probably going to be rather disappointed now.

(There is a third option, embodied in the title of the top thread in the OOTS forum just as it went into database backup mode when I checked: "Therkla and Roy?" But the reasons why that's just wrong are about a mile high... although we could see Haley die and turn out to have the same alignment as Therkla and get into a catfight after all... I'm not honestly suggesting that of course!)

(And then there's the fourth option that Kubota just left his "fingerprints" on Therkla's death and left Elan, Kazumi, and Daigo as witnesses... but he doesn't come across to me as being that dumb, and it would be a kind of tax-evasiony charge to bring Kubota in on, especially as Elan is really the only one who cares about her.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Two Darths and Droids posts a week apart? What is the world coming to?

(From Darths and Droids. Click for full-sized self-inflicted breakdown in negotiations.)
When Qui-Gon was caught saying, "Jar Jar, you're a genius!" it spread through the Internet like wildfire, with more than a little nudging from the Comic Irregulars themselves.

Regardless of whatever the circumstances of the original movie may be, I'm somewhat shocked they didn't try it again with "Help us, Jar-Jar Binks. You're our only hope."

But then I guess you can only do the same trick so many times before people say, "We get it. Now go away."

(If there were a Darths and Droids drinking game, at this point Pete drinking at whatever fantasy story/RPG cliche happens to happen is worth at least two drinks.)

I delayed four weeks for THIS?

I never said I was going to have only two posts on the state of TV heading into the digital transition. I had every intention of doing more, and in fact I was inspired to write this post nearly four weeks ago, towards the end of the Olympics, when I watched a special commemorating 50 years of local CBS affiliate KIRO. Of course that means quite a bit of the special has faded from memory, especially as my watching was a bit off and on, but still, how exciting to be taken back to the heady days of the 1950s, when television was a wild and wooly place! Nobody knew what the heck they were doing, all the ground rules were still being laid in place, everyone was a trailblazer, and people were still trying to figure out this glowy box thing. Why, you had to operate a station with a few boxes, a few wires, and a small box for a studio! Not really, but you'd probably hear something of the sort.

In those days, you had to innovate to set yourself apart, and what set KIRO apart was one of the longest-running, most-beloved non-PBS kids shows perhaps ever, the J.P. Patches show. Every week, every day people from up and down the Sound would flip on their TV to watch a more-serious-than-most clown nonetheless get into wacky hijinks with more supporting castmates than you could shake a stick at, and all the bad jokes, wordplay, and even bones to the parents you'd expect from a low-budget kids' show, all completely improvised. We didn't need no stinking Captain Kangaroo, no siree! Unless you're from around here you probably never even heard of J.P. Patches, and that's just as it should be, but if you're my age you're probably just scratching your head no matter where you live. And that's not even the only KIRO show to get its own Wikipedia article, odd as it sounds, and doubtless there are countless other markets that had their own wacky clowns and their own B-movie hosts, especially on those independent stations that really had to innovate to set themselves apart. Where did Mystery Science Theatre 3000 come from? Here in Seattle we even used to have a Saturday Night Live ripoff!

What happened to that? Where are the J.P. Patches and Cryptkeeper wannabees of the world? I grew up on Sesame Street and Nick Junior, and we hardly even turn on any sort of channel when we want to watch a movie. What on Earth has happened to local TV?

You want to know what a typical local TV schedule is like these days? If you're with one of the Big Three, it's all network, network, network all day long. Whatever time you don't have to set aside for network or other purposes, you load it up with syndicated Oprah rip-offs, court shows, old TV shows (by "old" I mean "about three to ten years and probably still on the air, and we're not talking Star Trek-like cult classics either, only the hits"), game shows, and oh yes, tabloid shows. The local news is the only thing local stations produce themselves anymore, and they take a lot of pride in it, but local news is very good at putting forth the same basic template and copying it across the nation, and it's not always all that good a template - loaded with stock footage, stupid "don't go away!" tricks, sappy "human-interest" stories, and an ignorance of real news in favor of "The Crime Report". Name me one thing someone in Tampa is getting that they couldn't get just as well in Phoenix or Minneapolis. It seems like no TV station these days is unique - you get your ABC over here, your NBC over there, your CBS in the other corner. Heck, just look at what the stations call themselves! They used to take pride in their call letters, but now they just define themselves by what the suits in New York send to them - it's all "ABC 7" this and "CBS 2" that!

Independent stations? They don't even EXIST anymore - the really great ones have hopped on board the Fox network, with whatever's left flocking to UPN and the WB, and now the CW and "My Network TV", the latter mostly to avoid having to lapse back into being an independent (more on this in a later post you can expect in about four weeks :). Fox doesn't load down the schedule with morning shows or soaps no one cares about anymore, but what do you see on your local Fox station instead? If you guessed "syndicated crap even FEWER people care about than soaps" give yourself a hand! You can hold out hope for local sports on CW or My Network, but the network doesn't want to see preemptions get in the way of their fun, so we see the Fox Sports Net channels get their dominance that just drives people further away from otherwise perfectly good antennas. (And that's not the whole story: we have an independent here in Seattle, but the Mariners and recently-departed Sonics don't use it, and the last time the Mariners were on broadcast television it was on the CW station. Blame the need to get on other stations in other markets with those games, which is too much of a hassle.)

Locally produced TV's not dead - there are local shows on the NBC and ABC stations here where I live - but they are the VAST exception. Cable has pushed out a lot of the audience and local stations, in addition to having to work with a small market compared to the whole nation, don't get a cut of cable subscriber fees. (The "retransmission-consent" scam is an attempt to change that, but I'm not seeing it changing this.) Local stations are all about cost-cutting; no way they're going to take on the expense of producing anything except news for themselves! They don't have to pay the costs of production, heck they might not even have to pay anything to the syndicators, they can just give them some of the ad space! Nothing really changes from place to place, you just see some of the syndicated shows hop to different channels and time slots!

When you hear people talk about the homogenization, the "McDonaldization" of America? This is what they're talking about. For whatever reason, the TV industry has decided that one of the largest nations in the world, and the third most populous, should be funneled the same, copycat shows no matter where they live. (Except when it comes to sports, which is why people in Kansas City can't watch the Patriots games that might be interesting because they'd supposedly all rather watch their crap team, and if they don't like it they gotta get DirecTV. Have I mentioned that I think that if there's any sports level that has earned the right to have every single game carried nationally it's the NFL?) If I go to New Orleans, will I see anything on TV there that reflects the rich cultural heritage of the Cresent City? How about if I go to Miami? Or even San Francisco? (Actually, those two might be bad examples, but for disturbing reasons. The Spanish-language stations are very strong in Miami - but they're basically the same crap as the English-language stations just in a different language and all the syndicated stuff replaced with more network stuff - and there are quite a few ethnically-oriented independents in SF. Still, what about the rich cultural heritage of Boston or Philadelphia or even Atlanta or Detroit? Will I see that reflected in the TV there, other than the news anchors' fake accents?)

What the hell is the point of TV stations anymore, especially since no one uses antennas? The CW especially just seems like a cable network that you happen to be able to catch over the air. They're little more than repeaters of whatever crap the network hurls their way, just with occasional local news breaks. Is this really what we've sunk to? I wouldn't even mind if some of this stuff was just syndicated in a certain region, but that only happens with sports. Do we really think the people of Portland (Seattle is better than most markets, especially at its size between #10-20) and the people of Atlanta and the people of Texas and the people of Boston and the people of San Diego and the people of Cleveland all deserve the same stuff with a few adjustments for the local news? The famed "red state-blue state" divide says we're NOT one homogenous group and that's what makes America great. But TV has always been slow to reflect that heterogeny. I'd like to think I could have a "Seattle experience" that reflects more than just my sports teams, and that the first flag I could put up to mark myself as a Seattleite, assuming I couldn't use my sports teams, wouldn't be the meaningless "206". But I'm digressing into other various topics.

(And I haven't even gotten into how so many of these stations are owned by companies that are almost entirely dedicated to running what amount to repeaters, and don't seem to be in the business of making them anything but, don't have any plan to make them stand out.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

I'd find this more useful if it properly compensated for the Earth's axial tilt. What's that? You say it's almost the autumnal equinox anyway and it may well do so? Well...

It's almost 4 AM and I barely feel tired.

I think I live in the worst possible area for me to live. There are bars and party-hearty young people and other places that are popular at night almost everywhere I look. The nearest real accessible Internet connection is near one such place, at least at 11, and is way too inconsistent for me to post the strip. The nearest place I know of that I could access at 11 PM that isn't too near a bar is about seven blocks, or probably almost half a mile, away.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You know the drill. OOTS fawning ahead. Here there be spoilers.

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized planning ahead.)

I found a recent comment from Robert Howard that stated that Tangents would take a couple of months to come back in full. Which means I can put up all my other OOTS thoughts while I wait. I've added yet another one to the stack, and neither one of the two I was thinking of is the one I want to look at today.

This one concerns the very structure of OOTS that has sprung up recently. At the end of the last book, Rich Burlew split the Order in twain after killing off their fearless leader, and since about #500 the strip has largely consisted of shuttling between the two groups: Vaarsuvius, Elan, and Durkon on the one hand, and Haley, Belkar, and non-member Celia on the other. (Roy's ghost has popped in once or twice with the latter, though the Oracle of Sunken Valley has been the only living being to see or hear him so far, and we also shuttled over to Team Evil for a spell, and their captive paladin O-Chul.)

Nominally, both branches of the Order have been concerned with reuniting, resurrecting Roy, and continuing their quest to stop Xykon's evil plot. The former, and thus the latter two as well, has been restricted by a magical spell surrounding Haley and Belkar that only they and Celia know about, coupled with the fact that the only members of the group able to make magical contact with them, or resurrect Roy, are with the other group (while Roy remains with Haley and Belkar).

Haley, Celia, and Belkar have remained largely focused on their goal, although the group dynamics between them have been, in large part, the focus, and the last time we saw them Haley's past looked to be catching up to her. However, Elan and Durkon, powerless to do anything about the situation, have found themselves distracted by the travails of their hosts, Hinjo and the in-exile government of Azure City, especially the plot against Hinjo by the rogue noble (possibly with otherworldly backing) Kubota. (V has been just the opposite, so focused on trying to find Haley and Belkar it's caused him/her to do the elvish equivalent of "lose sleep" and grow distant from the rest of the group.)

As a result, the story of this half of the Order has little to do with the overall superplot of the strip at all, and has been, essentially, a self-contained story of its own. It is, essentially, Elan's story, which is why I was hoping to link the Tangents-derived post to this stage of the story, even though recent strips have cross-cut between the tribulation in the strip above and the battle with a massive demon. Kubota's top minion, Therkla, has been distracted from her "kill-Hinjo" mission by her growing "feelings" for Elan, which until recently Elan was mostly oblivious to, and Kubota was barely oblivious to. Now that plotline has been building to a climax worthy of a Bond movie, which makes it all the more appropriate that Elan would be at the center of it - and which, especially coupled with the renewed promise the last time we looked at Haley, Celia, and Belkar, pretty strongly suggests the group will reunite at or around #600.

Interestingly, it's not clear exactly what role Therkla plays in this story. At first glance, she'd appear to be a classic femme fatale, especially since Elan has been an item with Haley since just before the battle over Azure City. However, Elan has never been at risk of turning to the side of evil, or even really being distracted from whatever he needed to do. When Therkla suggested just being together until Haley returned, Elan rejected even that without a second thought (although it's unclear just how much he's willing to stick to that position). If anything, it's been Therkla who seems to have genuinely been drawn, if not exactly to the side of good, at least away from the side of evil, with Elan being the unwitting "femme fatale" in this case - a point driven home when Kubota initially put Therkla in the "him or me" position instead of Elan. In fact, it's been suggested that Therkla has never even really been evil, but has only been loyal to Kubota for giving her a place where she can fit in. (Therkla's a half-orc and there's a long tradition in science fiction and fantasy of half-breeds being rejected by both sides of their lineage.)

This is not the first time Burlew has brought us a story quite this divorced from the overall superplot, which hasn't really advanced that much since the battle of Azure City. The lengthy bandit episode had little to do with the superplot, as did the starmetal quest that it took up the bulk of. The only real time we had a story quite this divorced from the superplot, at least since the effective start of it, has probably been the last encounter with the Linear Guild, which by and large, Elan also stood at the center of. The foreshadowing of that story, incidentially, started at the very beginning of the starmetal quest and wasn't resolved until right before #400, a delay of over 250 strips - suggesting it may be a long wait indeed for anything quite so momentous to befall the one thing there's any real foreshadowing of at the moment, which ironically, would be the next advancement of the superplot. In a sense, it's stories like these that keep the strip from going "mad", as it were, with focusing on a single plot it advances above all else, and allows it to keep a little bit of the magic from the Original 42.

Monday, September 15, 2008

College Football Schedule: Week 4

Gonna try something different just for this week. Normally I put in the entire schedule, then I put in all the TV assignments, then I sort out the HD games. This week, for non-lineal title games, I'm going to start with putting in games from the TV schedule, and then adding in other games from the whole schedule. You shouldn't notice the difference unless you've noticed that the schedule has pretty much followed the order on CBS, and will seem a bit more random this time. All times Eastern, and college football rankings next week!
Lineal Titles (all games on Saturday)
Buffalo@*Missouri7 PMPPV
*Georgia@Arizona State8 PMABC
This Week's HD Games
Kansas State@Louisville8 PM WEESPN2
West Virginia@Colorado8:30 THESPN
Baylor@Connecticut8 PM FRESPN2
East Carolina@NC StateNoonESPN
Florida Atlantic@MinnesotaNoonBTN
Troy@Ohio StateNoonBTN
Temple@Penn StateNoonBTN
Central Michigan@PurdueNoonBTN
Mississippi State@Georgia TechNoonRaycom
Central Florida@Boston College1 PMESPNU
Rutgers@Navy3:30CBS CS
Houston@Colorado State3:30
South Florida@Florida International5 PMESPNU
Wake Forest@Florida State7 PMESPN2
Rice@Texas7 PMFSN
Ball State@Indiana7 PMBTN
Fresno State@Toledo8:15ESPNU
Other Games
Akron@Army1 PMESPN Classic
Eastern Michigan@Maryland1 PMESPN360
South Carolina State@Clemson1 PMESPN360
Wyoming@BYU3 PMmtn.
Indiana State@Northern Illinois3 PMCBSCS XXL
Louisiana-Monroe@Tulane3 PMCST
Notre Dame@Michigan State3:30ABC/ESPN
Miami (FL)@Texas A&M3:30ABC
Virginia Tech@North Carolina3:30ABC/ESPN
Marshall@Southern Miss3:30CSS
Boise State@Oregon3:30CSD.TV
Utah@Air Force4 PMVS.
Idaho@Utah State4 PMAltitude
Alabama State@UAB4 PMCBSCS XXL
Sam Houston State@Kansas7 PMFCS
Portland State@Washington State7 PMFSN NW/FCS
SE Louisiana@Louisiana Tech7 PMESPN+/CST
Wofford@South Carolina7 PMGameplan
Middle Tenn. St.@Arkansas State7 PMCSD.TV
Kent State@Louisiana-Lafayette7 PMCSD.TV
New Mexico@Tulsa7 PMCBSCS XXL
Tennessee Tech@Western Michigan7 PMCSD.TV
Murray State@Western Kentucky7 PMCSD.TV
Vanderbilt@Mississippi7 PMPPV?
Massachusetts@Texas Tech7 PM
Miami (OH)@Cincinnati7:30ESPN360
Nicholls State@Memphis8 PMCBSCS XXL
Iowa State@UNLV9 PMmtn.
New Mexico State@UTEP9 PMCBSCS XXL
San Jose State@Stanford9 PM

Sunday, September 14, 2008

But then she'll get counter-revenge when the feds show up at his house.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized revenge.)

Saw an ad on Sandsday that made me wonder, "I wonder what's up with IWC these days." Head over there.

First thought: I don't get it. Is this just a collection of random xkcd references being used as parody?

Second thought: Okay, I get it now. Rather... interesting, but more coherent than first thought.

Third thought: Man, Irregular Webcomic sure seems to have a weird relationship with xkcd. I wonder if David Morgan-Mar and Randall Munroe know each other.

Fourth thought: Man, I should post this before the strip changes overnight.

Fifth thought: Oh, I just caught something! He talks about "the guy with the ball pit in his apartment" and that refers to something that was in xkcd and one of Munroe's blog posts!

Sixth thought: Wait, Morgan-Mar hasn't replied to my most recent Darths and Droids post? It's the apocalypse!

Seventh thought: Man, sometimes Irregular Webcomic! really seems to cry out for me to be a regular reader...

Did I waste this weekend or what?

Posting the updated lineal titles now because I can. Looks like LSU will finally be defending against a half-decent team this week in Auburn. Georgia shouldn't slouch either because for the second straight week a title defense is on ABC's Saturday Night Football. USC has the week off and Missouri might as well, especially since they DO have a week off NEXT week. Three of the four title-holders' next defenses are on national television.

I haven't done a lick of work to set up the infrastructure for the college football rankings, which need to be up... next week. Yikes. AND I need to do, you know, actual productive things. AND I'm falling behind on my other plans for Da Blog as well. God I suck.