|a weblog of sorts... by gary spencer millidge|
| Thursday 28 September 2006|
could i make it any easier to buy my stuff?
The revamped all-singing, all-dancing millidge.com shop is finally up-and-running (well, almost - you can't yet purchase subscriptions online due to a review of the pricing structure). Now you can buy all my graphic novels, comics and merchandise online with just your credit card or via PayPal.
Splash the cash here. Go on, you know you want to.
now what are we going to watch?
Over the past few adrenalin-fuelled days of TV viewing, Mandy and I have witnessed the 'series finale' (as our American cousins love to call them) of three of our regularly watched programmes.
On Monday, a typically tear-laden Lianna was crowned Britain's Next Top Model, beating out Abbey for no discernable reason, as Abbey was clearly better in every department during the course of the final. This, though, came as no surprise as throughout the series, the fashion industry 'experts' made incomprehensible choices and aired unjustifiable views as a matter of course. The budding models were continuously blamed for their photographer's shortcomings and Jonathan Phang and Paula Hamilton's opinions seemed so perverse and Bizarro-World-like that only the certifiably insane would ever want to enter the industry.
On Tuesday, Lukas Rossi was chosen as the new lead singer for Supernova in the final episode of Tommy Lee's Rock Star series, the X Factor for headbangers. No real surprise that he beat out early favourite Dilana after her extraordinary mood swings surfaced. Rossi came across as a sort of a punk Norman Wisdom Mandy and I thought, and well suited to front the band, whose original songs were rather less impressive than most of the contestants' efforts.
And on Wednesday, the double-length season two climax to the ever-surprising Lost aired. While this continues to confuse, frustrate and alienate most other viewers, I have personally come to increasingly enjoy the series, maybe even to start to love it. Many of the last few episodes have been just about as good as anyone could expect a prime-time TV show to be. Michael's sudden and violent return, Locke's discovery of the Pearl and Hurley's imaginary playmate have all been TV at their best. Stunning.
Now, there seems only to be the almost painfully cruel would-be entrepreneur shows A New Life: Risking It All and Dragon's Den to keep us amused. Viewing suggestions are welcomed.
Friday 22 September 2006
bigger than abba
A sudden spate of orders from the Nordic paradise of Sweden over the past few weeks alerted me to the fact that Strangehaven was given an apparently splendid review in the Scandinavian comics bible Bild & Bubbla. I'm still trying to blag a copy of said publication, so if any of my new Swedish readers can oblige, I'd be forever grateful. My request (in English) directly to the magazine have so far gone unheeded.
Bild & Bubbla
lost girls found
One of assorted packages waiting for my return from holiday contained the long, long, long awaited Lost Girls three-volume super-deluxe slip-cased set. Having seen the artwork progressing over the years while accompanying Chris Staros on our annual pilgrimage to the great bearded one and his companion, I am as anxious as anyone to read the production in full. I can't wait to get it out of the shrink wrap.
Due to some legal complications it looks likely that the book will be unavailable in the UK until 2008. So any British-based fans of the Bard of Northampton planning a trip to the US should look to pick one up there.
Top Shelf Lost Girls
not the only famous millidge
My brother's eldest offspring Reece is gaining a growing reputation in the field of animation. For the past few years, he has been working for London animation studio Nexus, notably on a new Coca-Cola advert (which I haven't actually seen myself yet). He has recently been interviewed about the creation of this spectacular new animation in the September issue of Creative Review.
Not only that, he looks more and more like Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech every day. You will hear more from this young chap, I guarantee.
Reece Millidge website
Creative Review website
yes thank you, we had a wonderful time
We did experience a fairly spectacular thunderstorm one evening when we were evacuated from the restaurant where we were eating, due to the electrical activity which had caused the fire alarms to sound in error. Huddled together under the awning of Chez Pierre, we witnessed an impressively violent downpour and an accompanying lightshow in the sky for thirty minutes until the fire chief gave the all clear.
Other highlights included two days in the Spa, Treasure Island golf, a single game of ten-pin bowling which left us both crippled for a couple of days and the unseasonably hot September weather which allowed some unexpected sunbathing.
We did feel sorry for a chap called Brian, whose name and mobile phone number were the only details inscribed on each separate list on the 'Find a Partner' noticeboard for Golf, Tennis, Snooker and Pool.
fantasy figures finished
My partner in crime, James McKay and I completed our book 'Draw Fantasy Figures' for New Holland Publishers, as detailed in last month's blog, with a day or two spare prior to the deadline.
All done despite attending Jay and Karen's wedding (congratulations, guys), the annual Millidge clan reunion, a terrific gig by local veteran rocksters Lazy Curtis, and assorted other jobs including purchasing and setting up a new computer system for Mandy's family business. James even traveled down from darkest Yorkshire to spend the final weekend in a scanning and illustrating frenzy here at Abiogenesis Towers.
Somewhere around 27,000 words and about 200 images created in six weeks is something we're justly proud of. Although you might want to see it first before you get too impressed. You'll be able to make up your own mind next Autumn.
New Holland Publishers
communication breakdown... having a nervous breakdown
During the past few weeks, we here at Abiogenesis Towers have been having more than the usual amount of communication difficulties, primarily concerning assorted methods of connecting to the Worldwide Intraweb Thingy.
If I can take you back to just a week or so after my last weblog entry in mid-August, I should begin by relating the initial horrifying incident which not only left me without email or Internet connection, but without my trusty laptop altogether. It almost inevitably involves a small white bulldog, subject of a previous essay regarding a hot cup of tea, ball and same laptop.
This time, the said laptop was plugged in to the mains, with the lid closed and a tray holding a selection of plates, mugs and cutlery placed neatly on top. During the familiar process of chasing her ball under the coffee table, Babs the bulldog managed to become entangled in the power cable, pulling the laptop, tray and crockery onto the laminate flooring. As the coffee table is fairly low to the ground, casualties were limited. One was a mug containing a small amount of brown liquid, almost certainly tea. The only other casualty was the plug on the power cable where it connects to the laptop, which was unfortunately shattered.
A brief attempt to squeeze some juice out of the laptop's battery pack proved fruitless. A recce of the local computer shops the following day only turned up highly-priced multi-purpose mains adapters, so a genuine replacement had to be ordered by mail. It arrived several days later, and thankfully the laptop had suffered no damage other than a loss of its sound facilities, and has otherwise been working well since.
When, a few days later, I appeared no longer to be receiving emails, I was concerned that a previously unrecognised fault had made itself known. As it happened, my Internet service provider's incoming mail server had become "a bit over-zealous" in filtering suspected spam. So much so that it was filtering out all email. You would imagine that this is rather effective as regards the safety aspect, but no so good if you actually want to receive the genuine messages. After a day or so, the mail server was back to normal and no messages (so I'm told) were lost.
But this was not the end of my troubles, oh no. The provider of my broadband connection decided to move out of the ADSL business and encouraged me to migrate to a new supplier. It just so happens that Sky were offering an impressive 8Mb connection to its satellite TV customers at an extraordinarily low price. So I immediately registered to migrate my connection, providing Sky with my MAC code and suchlike. Sky were very good at informing me of the progress of my order by mail and phone.
I did at one point receive a curious letter stating that there was some kind of unspecified problem with my order, and that I should contact them immediately. I called them to be told several times that the 'compatibility test failed' but that everything actually seemed OK and on track.
Due to a remarkably inconvenient coincidence, the line was to become active and my new hardware was due to arrive while I was away on holiday. My old supplier was also switching off around the same time.
Upon return from my well-deserved break, I called Sky to ascertain whether the broadband service had indeed been activated. With an enthusiasm that implied I had won the lottery, the guy on the other end of the phone told me that I indeed now had access to Sky's Doesn't-Get-Better-Than-This-Band.
The only problem being that they had installed it on the wrong phone line - my domestic phone line - instead of the studio-based fax and internet line where all desktop, printer and assorted software and other peripherals are hardwired into my system.
Following an entertaining twenty minutes on the phone, I decided that I should consider my options before exploding there and then. A brilliant idea emerged after some sleep, which involved setting up the new wireless router/modem on my phone line where I could at least access my email until Sky had connected the fax line. The Internet connection was very easy to set up and momentarily I was surfing and downloading the many hundreds of emails which had accrued during my vacational absence. Another problem surfaced when trying to respond these messages, as Sky's router forces the user to send their messages via their own SMTP (outgoing mail) server.
The difficulty with that was that the documentation included with the router package didn't specify Sky's SMTP server's address. After several calls to what's known as Sky's 'Technical Support' line, it became apparent that no one at Sky knew what the address was either - most of them didn't even seem to know what a SMTP server was. I was also enlightened to the facts that Sky Webmail was 'down' and I should find the answer to my questions on the Sky Broadband site. Which was also 'down'. I was starting to know how it felt.
I was told that I might try the sky.com site. Which I did, and found the extremely useful FAQ topic, "What is email?"
Eventually, three days later, aided by my very helpful and knowledgeable web space hosts POBox Internet, I figured out Sky's SMTP's address (smtp.sky.com as I might have guessed) and called Sky again to clear up the problem regarding my crazy, mixed-up phone lines. After assorted phone calls to various departments totaling almost three hours, it transpires that Sky's 'system' does not allow more than one broadband account per address. In other words, there is no option than to cancel the existing phone (i.e. wrong) line and reorder another on the fax (i.e. correct) line. Which could leave me without Internet access for several weeks.
So please appreciate, dear reader, that my email response time and blog update frequency may be negatively affected over the coming weeks until this matter is resolved.
Interesting to note, that most of the phone operators at Sky were very courteous and understanding, and while they admitted that it was Sky's error, I did not once receive an apology.
Good Guys: POBox Internet
Bad Guys: Sky Broadband
As a tangential aside, at one point shortly after my three-hour Sky chat marathon, I was so frustrated and angry, I walked down to the end of my garden and attempted to kick Babs' ball against the fence as hard as I could. I didn't connect with the ball properly, and it hit the fence with a disappointing tap about three inches off the floor. However, the force of my follow-through sent my right sandal soaring into the air and over the six-foot high fence into my neighbour's garden.
He did have a good laugh when I knocked on his door to ask for my shoe back.