The Art of

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The Art of

Mindful Webworkshop Episode #1

Noises intended to be music, croakings intended to be song

Just foolin' around - practice makes perfeck

All songs written, performed, & © by Mindful Webworker
except "Empty Baggie Blues" by T.S. Allen and Mindful Webworker.
Filmed, edited by that same Webworker. One-man band.

SONGS - time, titles, links to lyrics & chords, (section)
00:00 Introduction
00:32 Nothin' Much (The Art of)
04:21 Cover Lover (Love's Lost and Found)
07:16 Empty Baggie Blues (Head Shop Songs)
09:38 Hungry for My Baby Blues (Love's Lost and Found)
17:25 Gave My Life Away (Best of Spirits)




The Art of

Serving Suggestion

They'll be coming back for seconds!

Some people think "gluten free" is weird enough…

Rice Flour box

This certainly doesn't improve the image:

Rice Flour box

Yummy!




The Art of

Creativity and the Web

Pondering art in the digital age

This was originally written for the Ace of Spades Book Thread, but I spared them the ponderous bulk of it.
But... the PAIN!

I've been pondering the two posts, on Ace of Spades, by Monty last month, the one about the business of self-publishing online ("All I want for Christmas is DOOM") and the earlier book-thread-on-Thursday one about content vs. format ("The Book Fetish"). The reader may want to go read those, before, or even rather than, this.

And pondering how digital media has changed everything, noting the passing of not just bookstores but places like PhotoMat and Blockbusters, even most LP/CD "record" stores.

Relatedly, pondering the question sometimes discussed on the book thread about why we create, writing for money vs. writing because we must or are inspired to do so. Thinking about Solzhenitsyn (I think it was) discussing "writing for the bottom drawer" when there is no actual market.

Thinking about how a creator may be able to create, but the creator who is able to self-edit and self-market is as rare as the self-representing in court or self-prescribing in medicine who doesn't "have a fool" for a lawyer / doctor. That's me.

Would I like to make money, even a living, off my creativity? Well, sure, but I'm just a schlub.

Nelson Muntz: Ha Ha!

As a wannabe mightabeen cartoonist, I've been thinking about all this in comparing comic strips.

There's Garfield, the dull and repetitive and interminable marketing wonder, with worldwide distribution of the strip, TV series, movies, suction-cup car window dolls, and all manner of merch.

And there's the highly acclaimed, very artistic, totally-un-merchandized, and ultimately self-terminated Calvin and Hobbes.

Somewhere in between creatively, there's Kevin & Kell, the longest-runnning online comic strip, which has managed to survive for twenty years now. I recently marathon-read the entire strip from the beginning. I first ran into this clever and stays-fresh series on CompuServe. Good for the creator, keeping it going, making a living of sorts from it eventually. It's been an inspiration for my own online work. Creatively in the online medium, if not commercially.

Kevin and Kell

In high school back in the late 1960s, I was encouraged by an English teacher to submit a lame story to a major magazine. (SF alt-history: Booth missed.) That major magazine's imprint was the first of several prestigious rejection slips from publishers and syndicates I collected before I quit trying. Girls, graduation, and thinking I really wasn't very marketable got in the way. "Write what you know," they told me. I didn't think I knew anything. No experience, no craft, no skills. Shrug.

Other than that teacher, I never had any encouragement to pursue my "art" side in any way. Even my flirtation with becoming an architect was squelched.

By college, I wasn't sure where I was going. I was supposed to be heading into some kind of career, by way of liberal arts. Meanwhile, I was always doodling and drawing. Just for fun.

During an extended college working break, I started my own true self-education, and it was at that point I first took up writing songs, learning music (still trying to learn), more serious cartooning efforts, and "funny recordings" on the reel-to-reel. Also, animations (live and drawn) and other fun work in super-8 film medium. (Noting I first did live-animated work when young, using Dad's 16mm film camera, alas long lost.)

If you put all that together, you see animated musical cartoons. I have a rudimentary one I've been working on since that early-1970s time….

Back to college, briefly, where I still didn't know where I was going, but did take a "creative writing" course where the professor led the class in mocking my efforts, one of several impeti to dropping out.

I headed for the country, to continue my efforts at becoming a creative type, except: I still didn't really think I was very good at anything in particular, not my writings, comics, songs, animations, or funny recordings.

I mean, I figured I might get better, but I just didn't think I'd ever produce anything popularly marketable. Too eclectic and varied in interest, mainly.

Baby: Hehn!

I had ideas about self-syndicating short radio programs to college stations, things like that. Maybe like the stuff you'd hear on Dr Demento. Trying to reach some kind of tiny-niche market.

And I had this wacky idea that eventually there would be a larger market for niche stuff, some kind of computer-based world network... Of course, there were no home computers yet.

I continued writing songs, making recordings for friends. Occasional cartooning with no outlet. Did some early "music videos" of friends (all lost). Dabbled with doing pro video work. Reality kept crushing my attempts at such things.

In the '90s, I was encouraged to self-publish in the mini-comic format by the master of quick-product stick-figure mini-comics, Matt Feazell (creator of Cynicalman). My comics tended to be more elaborate, but 8- and 16-page mini-comics was an encouraging format. I cranked out quite a few issues of various sorts.

Despite the overpriced 25¢ cost, I actually sold some mini-comics, somehow, but I made more on my "free" Urantia-Book-based "UB Comix," receiving several supportive donations of $5 to $20.

None of this was going to be a profitable career path, but it was fun as a hobby to get a little cash encouragement!

Some comic book reviewing (the lowest form of writing - reviewing!) on CompuServe Comics Forum led to a few months' gig reviewing for a comics fan magazine. Actual paid published work. They fired me. Wasn't snarky enough for them. That's okay, I was burned out on reviewing before I started with them.

They still owe me for my last published work!

UBook: What do YOU say I am?

At the instigation of a friend, I finally made the jump from the warm, secure confines of CompuServe to some big, new, wide-open, wild space called the Web. I opened up my website on March 17, 1996 (although it would be many years before I wised up and got my own actual domain name).

Funny thing was, I first thought of it as a place to market my self-publications, like the mini-comics. I had a catalog page of my comics with ordering information. I created a 3-D comics spinner (if you could run VRML) for displaying them.

It was only after I put up a sample comic, in full color ("It's All in Your Mind"), that it hit me: this was not an advertising medium. The web was the "frame," the medium, for every kind of work I was doing. Writings, music, comics, animations, even virtual realizations. Potential world-wide audience with minimal production costs. I began dumping all my writings, lyrics, and cartoons into the website.

Knowing how easily anything digital could be bootlegged, I made the decision then, twenty years ago, not to try to put anything behind a paywall, but to put it all up for free. I asked for donations by mail, eventually adding PayPal donation buttons. And in twenty years, I have received not one cent from my colossal quantity of web efforts. (Doom indeed, Monty!) Sold a few items, sporadically, in my CafePress store, but no bleedover into the website from that.

Holbrook's quirky Kevin and Kell comic inspired me in a couple of ways. I did a series of "Daily Doodles," starting 1997 Feb 2, which ran for several months, with an interruption of a few weeks for sick leave. Inconsistent quality, rather crude in spots, but with some fun and funny stuff.

The Daily Doodles series was revived fifteen years later, in 2012, and ran for a full year then. Forcing myself to put something up every day did have its advantages. I did some of what I think of as my best art and cartoon work, although it was also while I neglected much "real life" work I should have been doing. That's another balancing act with which I've had trouble.

Another attempt at a daily strip, which ran less than two weeks, was "Mind Fuel", which began as a
comic strip rumination on creating a comic strip for the web, including on how it would be marketed. (Key line: "And the income comes in where, exactly?")

I have always been beset by technical limitations. In the earliest days, I had only a low-res hand-held grayscale scanner and the art programs were crude, and monitors (both mine and the "ordinary viewer's") were limited to CGA. All my original cartoons were 16-gray or 16-color.

Today, I have a bigger crayon box, a big color scanner and a big screen, but I still don't really have what I crave - art-input tablet or serious audio and video production and animation capability. I do what I can, always exceeding my limits, pushing the technical envelope in which I'm stuck.

We could call it shareware!



Ace logoAce of Spades blog has a marvelous community of commenters, and you are free to join in without any sign-up, and you may comment under any name you prefer. However, there are technical tricks and techniques that are handy, and sometimes necessary, to know, in order to fully enjoy the experience.

This guide is full of what I have discovered. There's probably more. If you know something I've overlooked, please let me know.

Revised 2015 Nov 6, see "info" box below post.


Commenting

Name and E-mail fields are required for commenting . Optionally, you may add a URL which will be linked from the name. Your name can be whatever you choose and you may change it any time. Your email ought to be consistent and valid (or so I presume).

If you add a URL, be sure it begins with "http://" or "https://" or other acceptable protocol. Without this, the blog will create a bogus URL that looks like a sub-page on Ace of Spades. [h/t Mama AJ] (I'm not sure what other protocols, if any, are acceptable.)

Note that if you have "cookies" active for the blog, these three fields, name, email, and URL, will be remembered for the next time you comment. So, if you change your name (a/k/a "sock") for a joke, the joke sock will stick. You must leave a new comment with your regular name to change it back. Without cookies, all fields are forgotten.

Note on Names: It is acceptable to use a different name than your usual, usually for a joke, but it is absolutely unacceptable to use another commenter's name. Pretending to be a public figure is a gray area, depending on who; nobody expects "Hillary Clinton" to comment on Ace of Spades, but others, well, you never know who might show up for real.


Referencing comments

Comment numbers may change, if the Powers That Be invoke the infamous "Banhammer." If comment #123 is removed, then comment #124 becomes #123, and so on with subsequent comments. So, if you refer to a previous comment by number, it might be off by one or more. This is not as rare as one might hope, with the occasional infestation of trolls.

Some commenters use the name and time-stamp to refer back to a comment. While it is possible that a commenter left two comments within the same minute, this at least puts your reference in the ballpark.

A third, cumbersome, way to refer back is to copy and paste the actual permanent comment URL linked in the comment number. I say this is cumbersome because it's not clear which comment you're referencing just by reading, and they're kind-of long (but not too long, see URLs below).

My thinking is, the best way to reference comments is usually to simply include the commenter's name and a snippet of the comment itself. This allows for easy searching, and if you snip the bit to which you're replying, can make looking back unnecessary.


Warnings!

  • Technical warnings
    • DO NOT COMMENT on old posts. Your IP will be banned. How old? A few days? A week? No one knows!
    • No message, URL, or signature may contain the word BLAZER.
    • "How do I embed a picture or a video in a comment?" You can't.
  • Content warnings
    • Ace asks that you avoid profanity, especially the words f*ck and c*nt. The latter, especially. These are not, necessarily, bannable offenses, depending on which side of the hayloft Ace got up that morning. Be creative in your language; you'll look smarter anyway.
    • Ace warns that personal attacks will be cause for permanent banning (for certain values of "permanent").
    • Don't quote trolls! Troll comments may be deleted, but quoting them perpetuates their trash, and may end up with your own comment getting deleted. Best habit: Starve a troll. Don't even acknowledge their spew. [h/t Milady Webworker]
    • If you read something and don't already know what it means, for Heaven's sake don't look it up!

Text-enhancement

Text enhancement option ("tags") are limited to four. Unlike regular HTML which uses a letter or word inside <angled-brackets>, Ace commenters must use a single character between [square brackets] to start an option. To close the option, use square brackets with a slash before the letter. [x]enhanced text[/x]

For x, substitute one of the following:

i - italics
b - boldface
u - underline
s - stikethrough

Be VERY sure to use the close-tag or you may be consigned to "the barrel." What's that? You don't want to know.

Anything else inside square brackets will be displayed normally, including the brackets.


Non-ASCII characters

As a rule, characters above the old ASCII set will not show up properly on comments pages, neither in the post nor in comments. ASCII is regular English alphabet, numerals, basic punctuation, and spaces. Anything else will show up as black diamonds or squares.

If you try to leave other characters, as often happens when cutting & pasting from other sources, you will encounter the infamous "500" error.

To leave a comment with other characters, you must convert them to acecomments.mu.nu-acceptable code. You can do that here. A shortened link to the same page is http://bit.ly/pixyize.

Note: For some people, ampersands ("&") are not available in blog comments. Since these substitute HTML codes require ampersands, if you can't use ampersands, you are out of luck on substituting codes.

You can see the characters instead of the black diamonds by changing the encoding on a page, but then any comments you leave will be rejected. In my experience.


URLs (links)

Depending on your browser, URLs in comments will not be "active." It's not you. It's the blog. You must highlight, copy, and paste the link.

Some long URLs may not break across lines. Use TinyURL, Bitly, or some similar service for creating shortened substitute URLs. Otherwise the blog may be w-i-d-e-n-e-d and you may find yourself in the barrel.

By the way, longer YouTube URLs can always be shortened to the form
https://youtu.be/xxxxxxxxx
where the x's are the video code.
For example:
https://youtu.be/kJJotGlHaHI

You cannot put YouTube links nor most TinyURL links in the link accompanying your name.

If you see a URL with three underscores ___ in it that seems to be a bad link, it's probably masking out the letters i m g. Copy and paste the URL, substitute the letters "img" & go.


Smilies

:) A list of available happy, sad, and other faces available on Ace of Spades, and the codes to use them, can be found at http://smilies.mee.nu/.

Be aware that smilies may be posted unintentionally. For example, if you try to type an 8 followed by a close-parenthesis, you will get a grinning smiley. To avoid this you must leave a space between the two characters.


Amazon - Funding Ace

If you shop at Amazon.com, you can help fund Ace of Spades, without additional cost to yourself. Click on "The AoSHQ Amazon Store" link or use the Amazon search box on the top of the right column on the front page.

If you don't see "aoshq-20" in the URL of an Amazon page, Ace won't be getting paid. You can add that bit to an Amazon URL if you know what you're doing modifying the URL. This can be complicated, and is beyond the scope of this guide (translation: I don't want to explain all the various details). [h/t Mama AJ]


The Port 1080 Glitch

This is complicated:

Due to a long-ago server crash, comments on Ace of Spades were moved to addresses using port 1080. They look like this:
http://minx.cc:1080/?post=359942

This was later corrected so that instead of minx.cc:1080, comments were on the domain acecomments.mu.nu, like this:
http://acecomments.mu.nu/?post=359942

Not all the links have been changed. As of this writing (2015 Nov. 5), the link to comments from individual pages (posts, not on the front page), have not been changed. Some folks may have problems with the port 1080 form. Use the "comments" links from the front page, or manually re-type the URL.


Webmaster

The Blog Webmaster is "Pixy," an entity as mysterious as Ace himself. In case of serious problems with the blog, Pixy is the person to contact, not Ace.

Best way to contact me is help@mu.nu. If I'm alive or not too seriously dead, it will reach me.
Posted by: Pixy and the Hamsters at October 27, 2015 02:02 AM (2yngH)


Don't Worry, Be Happy

Don't worry about all this until you run into a problem. Have fun and enjoy being one of the "Moron Horde" of Ace of Spades commenters.

All of these difficult tricks will be made moot when the blog software is revised in… #twoweeks. (Ha!)




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