2 April, 2005

There are some topics I should just stay far away from, I know. There are some things I really should not touch or comment on or get involved with in any way. It is the fastest way to alienate people and drive them away from my site or worse get flooded by email and hate mail and crap like that. Yeah, I really want to stay away from anything of the kind. As I've said before and I'm sure I'll say again, there are three topics that you simply do not discuss—politics, religion, and the Great Pumpkin. Of course, I wasn't the first person to say that. You have to give Charles Schulz credit for that one.

And, no, I'm not even talking about last week's rant in which I spazzed out about whether or not my website is a blog.

This is just about something I heard on the news this last week that really bothered me, and I'm not even going to go into the details of any of it because I know this subject is so fully charged that there is absolutely no room for discussion. People just scream at each other never listening to the other person.

Anyway, what bothered me was a comment I heard about the Judiciary System hijacking the process and preventing Congress from enacting certain legislation. The implication, which I think may have been expressly stated, was that the Judiciary had overstepped its bounds when it had thwarted Congress' attempted action and that therefore the Judiciary System had to be changed.

Now, the reason this bothered me is because I am pretty sure that it is part of the responsibility of the Judiciary System to act as a check and balance against Congress and even the Office of the President. In other words, it is their job to thwart Congress. I know it has been a while since I've read the United States' Constitution, but I'm pretty sure it is written in there somewhere about how it is the Judiciary's job to ensure that laws are followed. The Judiciary, Congress, and the President are supposed to be three separate branches of government empowered with the responsibility of providing a check and balance against each other so that no one branch of government may steamroll over everything.

So stripping away all of the specifics of the case and why lots of people feel that an exception should have been made, I just feel that the Judiciary System actually did what it was supposed to do, and let us all try to remember what the system is supposed to be. Yeah, I know, nobody cares. I'll get hate mail. Nobody will read my comic or buy my book. But.

Well, it just worries me when I hear people saying they are going to change the system because they didn't get the result that they wanted. It makes me think of a little kid throwing a temper tantrum.

Oh, well.

My little rambling rant has carried on for longer than I intended. I thought I was only going to write a paragraph on said topic. Now, what I really wanted to write about this week was how things were going in my little musical world.

Yeah, I've spent a nice little bit of time over the past two weeks working on the second movement to my little D minor piano sonatina. Things started out slow and very frustrating as I couldn't seem to get started and all of my attempts to find a theme just sucked. I actually had to spend a while considering whether I should give up on trying to do a slow middle movement for now and work on another sonatina first movement. Of course, I can be really stubborn and simply did not want to give up on what I had started. I also figured that since it was driving me so nuts that I was really starting to get back into the emotion of the whole thing, and that would be a very good thing indeed.

I can't really say I understand why it happens this way, but I've just got the feeling that slow movements are much harder to do. Since they are slow, the emotional content of the music is much more exposed and much harder to write. I mean, sure, I could just scribble something down and be done with it, but it would just be barren and empty. Not that I mean to be implying that what I have finally found is any great shakes. I'm just saying that it is better to find the strong emotional core of the thing and work with it rather than just scribbling down any old thing.

So, I finally found a theme that I was happy with, and one of the things that I thought was really funny about it and also made me wonder if I was on the right track is that the theme would make a great fugue subject. It would take very little modification. In fact, I just might come back and do that right after I finish this little puppy of a piano sonatina. I'll just take up this slow movement's theme, work it a little, and make a fugue out of it. That would be so cool.

Working on the slow movement has also been difficult because the whole process of developing it has been much slower. I mean when I worked on the first movement the work just flew. It really took no time at all to get that whole first movement finished. It just seemed to take longer because I was really only able to find time to work on it maybe one or two days out of the week. That really sucked and slowed things down. But with this second movement, I've had more days of actual work on it, and the damn thing is still inching along.

It's also annoying because every time I think I've got a bit done and I'm ready to move on I discover that I need to go back and make modifications. No, really, I think I'm done. I wander off to sleep for the night because usually by this point it is pretty fucking late, and I come back to the music the next day ready to work on the next little bit when I discover that I've got to make little tweaks and changes to the bit that I've already finished. Yeah, it carries on like this.

Well, the good news is that the changes are all for the best, and I've really got my fingers crossed that this is all going to sound half-decent when I'm done. I know better than to think that this is all going to sound awesome or something. It is only a little piece of shit remembrance exercise sonatina, after all.

So, yeah, I've been working on it. Things are going, and I thought I was going to do a binary form. I figured that was the best way to go. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it binary. Worry about more complicated stuff another time. Well, as I was looking at it, I realized that a binary form just wasn't going to cut it. The shape of the thing is wrong. I've got the opening theme. I've got the variation of a theme, and I thought I could just wrap things up. But, I realized the other night that I couldn't just stop it. The second thematic section just won't work for an ending, and I caught myself thinking about how I've got to bring the first theme back to wrap everything up nicely. All of which means that I'm not dealing with a binary form. I've got myself a ternary form. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Ternary forms are very useful. In fact, the Sonata Allegro Form is little more than a modified, stylized and formalized ternary form.

So, yeah, that is how it is looking. I was going for a simple binary when the damn thing said that I was out of my fucking mind. It's looking ternary to me.

So, we shall see how it goes, and we shall see how things wrap up. Then all I've got to do is figure out what to do for a third movement. It'll need to be quick and sprightly and all of that. We shall see. Then I'll just have to deal with whether or not I want to post an MP3 of the whole thing on my website. Let people listen to the insanity. I am really of two minds on the subject. On the one hand, it would be nice to let people hear what I've been talking about for the past several months. I mean without providing the recording people may just think I'm breathing smoke out my ass or something, and maybe there are in fact some people out there who just might be interested in hearing my little slice of nonsense. On the other hand, the music just sucks, and nobody should be forced to listen to it.

So, we shall see. We shall see.

Oh, yeah, and I cannot believe I forgot to do something for April Fool's Day in the comic this year. Oh, well, I just didn't think about it.

16 April, 2005

Argh! I knew this going to happen! I just knew it!

It was only a matter of time before I got the count off causing the comic to update a day late. See, how the PHP code works is it uses the PHP date function to find out the day of the year. Just the straight day of the year. Not the month. Not the day of the month. Not the day of the week. Just the day of the year. Saturday, April 16th, is day 105, for example.

So, what happens is that the code then runs through a whole bunch of if-then-else statements until it finds the day that corresponds with the correct comic to display. I know. I know. There is probably a much fancier way of going about this, but I really am trying to keep this as simple and straightforward as I can wrap my poor little brain around the whole business.

As you may have guessed, the only problem with this system is that I've got to do a whole bunch of arithmetic to figure out what day of the year corresponds to whatever date that particular comic needs to be posted on the main comic page. I really suck at arithmetic. I really do. Algebra doesn't bother me. I kick butt at algebra. But as soon as you need to add two and two. Well, okay, I can deal with that but anytime you get much more complicated. Yeah, I'm going to screw it up.

The only remaining problem is that I do not actually know if I have fixed the update schedule and I will not know until the next time it is supposed to update. Oh, well.

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