Secret planning diagram

Not much I can report today, as I spent most of the day working on a plotting diagram for Darths & Droids, setting out planned future story events in great detail. Obviously I can’t show the result without revealing major spoilers for the story, so there’s not really much more to be said about that.

Um. The weather is cool and a bit rainy. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get heavy rain. I have a trip into the city planned – to do some Christmas shopping, and also to check out the Australian Museum, which has recently reopened after a major renovation, before it fills up with schoolkids during the imminent summer holidays. So tomorrow I should have more to write about.

New content today:

Out with the old, in with the new

Today I threw out an old cotton jacket that was getting a bit threadbare. I had to cut off the dinosaur buttons that I’d sewn onto the cuffs to replace a missing button some years ago, as I want to keep the buttons.

I bought a new jacket a few weeks ago, but I don’t like throwing away old clothes, so the old one kept hanging around. But today I decided to bite the bullet and toss it. Farewell, old jacket.

I spent today writing and discussing Darths & Droids with friends via online chat. We expanded a lot on General Hux’s character backstory as part of this. We wrote four strips, which is good work for a day – tomorrow I’ll assemble them.

And I took Scully to doggie daycare and picked her up, as it was a very wet and miserable day, so difficult to let her get exercise outside. Instead she got to play with other dogs indoors, which always wears her out. Oh, and I did some boring financial/tax/accounting stuff.

New content today:

Cleaning and writing

I’m just trying to think what I did today. It was pretty much all taken up by cleaning the shower, writing comics, and taking Scully out to the dog park.

I scrubbed the shower tiles with baking soda to remove the built up soap scum. This is hard work, and took some time and elbow grease.

Mostly I wrote and produced some new Darths & Droids strips.

Oh! I also went out to check on the jacaranda trees and the flowering progress. Within the next week or two they’ll be blooming profusely and hopefully I’ll get some photos worthy of printing.

New content today:

How to write comedy

Today was a comic writing day. I set myself the goal of writing 3 strips for Darths & Droids, which is a week’s worth of updates.

I used to write these strips in a meeting room with a bunch of friends at work, over lunch. In a long lunch break of 2 hours, we could write 3 or 4, sometimes 5 strips. Sometimes we wouldn’t get that many done, because we were discussing story planning.

Now, because our company shut up shop and we all lost out jobs, we can’t get together and do that every week. We’ve shifted to a model where we discuss things online, but not being in person it’s harder to get everyone concentrating and talking at the same time. What this means in effect is that I write a skeleton of the action and story, and whatever jokes I can think of, and then paste the scripts into a group chat so my friends can make comments and suggestions. It’s less real-time than in person, and comments come in over several hours as people drift in and out of the chat. And sometimes I have to prod people to say anything.

With most of a day to myself at home, you might think I could write dozens of strips. But it’s not that easy. I need that feedback, and to craft the joke setups and punchlines into the narrative in a natural way, so I’m often held up writing later action while waiting for a joke to be moulded.

We ended up writing two strips today – less than a week’s worth. So I’ll have to do this again another day.

I did get some other stuff done in between. The work itself is more fragmented, with periods of downtime during the day. During which I run errands, do shopping, take Scully to the park, do some work on my photography business, and so on.

Writing material takes a lot longer than you might realise.

New content today:

No-holiday Monday

Today was the Labour Day public holiday here, but I actually did quite a bit of work-related stuff for my photography business. I worked on my portfolio a bit, booked a hire car for transporting goods to the market in a couple of weeks, and ordered some more stock of greeting cards to replace stock I’ve sold in the past markets. I also took care of some accounting and tax record-keeping stuff. Fun fun fun.

This afternoon I dedicated to writing more Darths & Droids comics, and got a good batch completed.

In between I went to the park with Scully, to do some ball throwing and get her some exercise. Otherwise we mostly spent the day inside, as it was pretty hot – today it got up to 34°C here where we are – yesterday’s sea breeze failed and we didn’t benefit from lower coastal temperatures.

New content today:

Double golf

I got up early and went to the golf course this morning just after 6:30. The sun is rising earlier as spring meanders onward and even though overcast this morning it was plenty light enough to start that early. I finished 9 holes, playing two different balls per hole, by 8:30, and then had the whole day ahead of me!

Which I spent mostly working on Darths & Droids scripts, although I ticked off a few other tasks as well.

I applied to become a stallholder at the Kirribilli Markets, another suburban market not too far from where I live, and a bit bigger and more popular than the ones I’ve been doing up to now. Hopefully if I get approved, I can get some more productive market days happening, and really make some sales of my photos.

Also, our wedding anniversary is coming up, so my wife asked if I could find somewhere to stay a few hours drive away, for a long weekend (she’s taking a couple of days off work). I called a couple of places near Kangaroo Valley. The first was booked out until the end of the year, and they said I’d be lucky to find anywhere with vacancies, as people are all booking local holidays at the moment since nobody can travel overseas. The next place had two of the three nights we wanted free, so I booked those. We also have the additional constraint of needing a pet-friendly place, so we can take Scully.

And I looked into various types of weed killer, because some of the small parks and areas of grass in the neighbourhood that we take Scully to have patches of bindii in them, and right now in the early spring is when they start growing thorns. Scully dislikes walking on them, for obvious reasons, and starts to avoid those areas, so I want to try and get rid of it. I thought I might be able to buy some weed killer and spray some areas, but a bit of research reveals that the available solutions have two different problems:

  1. There’s selective weed killer that kills bindii and a few other common weeds, but doesn’t harm grasses or other plants. The trouble is, it’s harmful to dogs, and it’s recommended to keep dogs off it for a few days after spraying. Which is no good since I want to spray public places, so obviously I can’t keep all dogs off them.
  2. There’s glycophosphate (often sold under the trademark “Roundup”), which is safer for animals, but it kills any plant it touches, so would need to be applied with a paintbrush otherwise it’d kill all the grass too. It’s also bad if it gets into waterways, and given the main area I want to remove bindii from is right next to a creek… this is a no-go as well.

I concluded that the only way to do this is to buy a garden fork and get down on my knees, and pull the bindii out by hand. Stay tuned for updates…

New content today:

Thinking about Star Wars

It’s Monday, and my wife spent most of the day at work, with Scully in the office for the morning, and then in doggie daycare for the afternoon. The doggie daycare really wears her out because it’s full on playing with other dogs for a few hours, and she comes home and just falls to sleep for the whole night, which is good. (Scully that is, not my wife.)

I used the time to concentrate on writing Darths & Droids, both comic scripts and story planning notes for the future. I had a long chat with co-authors about some plot elements, and added about 800 words of stuff to our accumulated story notes. I haven’t added up how many words of planning notes we have for the entire comic series for a while, but it’s a lot. Hopefully we’ll publish it all in some form some day – once the comic is done, since there are a lot future plot secrets hidden in there.

We had a bit of leftover challah from a loaf I bought last week, and I used it today to make myself some French toast for lunch. Normally I do French toast with salt and pepper, as that’s what I’m used to. I only ever had it as a savoury dish growing up, and in fact had no idea that some people like to have it as a sweet dish until I was maybe in my 20s. And when I found out I was disgusted… it was a bit like finding out that some people put honey on scrambled eggs or something like that. I think in my whole life I’ve only had sweet French toast maybe 2 or 3 times.

Anyway, I made myself French toast using challah, which seems to be a nice type of bread to use for it. I had the first piece with salt and pepper as is my usual habit, but then I decided to be bold and try a piece with honey. (It was the only sweet syrupy thing I had handy – we don’t have maple syrup.) And it was actually okay, I admit, particularly with the slight sweetness of the challah. Still not entirely convinced though, and I definitely preferred it with salt and pepper.

New content today:

Back to the office

Back to the office for my wife, that is. Her work is transitioning back from work-from-home to having staff in the office again, not that COVID cases here in New South Wales have flattened down to single digits per day. She was keen to go back into the office, because it’s been tricky and distracting for both of us with her working from home. And her work is walking distance away, so she doesn’t need to brave public transport with COVID out there.

Which means I had the whole morning at home by myself for the first time in months. I actually used the time to do some housecleaning and some other chores, including gluing a loose sole back onto one of my shoes.

Then I got stuck into some Darths & Droids writing, bashing out three comic scripts, with the help of my co-writers over online chat. With a week’s worth of new strips written, I then moved to assembling the comics, and completed two before this evening.

Oh, and this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park. It was a lovely late winter day outside, with warm sunshine, and a definite hint of spring in the air. Although the forecast for later this week is a bit more rain and cold.

New content today:

Last meal…

Today was a pretty routine day. I took Scully for a walk, lost a tennis ball in the Harbour… on my very first throw as well. There’s a park I take her to next to the water, and the grass just runs up to an edge and then drops off into the water. I try to avoid having the ball roll off but I must have lost half a dozen balls in that water. And once it’s in, there’s no way to get it back (without a fishing net on a pole or getting very wet). So rather than have her chase the ball, I just had to run around and have her chase me to get some exercise.

I spent much of the rest of the day writing Darths & Droids comics, chatting with co-authors on our Discord server.

And I had my last meal… until Thursday. I’m into the final day of fasting before a colonoscopy on Thursday. I can’t eat anything on Wednesday, though I need to have lots of water and stuff with sugars and salts in it to stay hydrated.

So tonight for a last meal I made something a bit special for dinner. Pancakes with mushrooms. It sounds weird, I know, but I got the idea from a vegetarian restaurant we went to some time back. They had a dish that was a small stack of savoury pancakes, topped with a medley of fried mushrooms in a delicious sauce. It was delicious, and I’ve copied it and made a similar dish at home a few times. It fit within my pre-colonoscopy-week dietary restrictions and I decided it would be a nice treat.

New content today:

Solo Sunday

Solo Sunday in more ways than one. My wife took Scully and went to visit her mum today, and I used the time to sit down and rewatch Solo (a Star Wars story), in preparation for starting planning on converting it into a Darths & Droids story. Yes, we’re planning ahead that far now. I think it’s only my third time watching it through, and there were several plot points I’d forgotten about, so I’m glad I did it.

This evening I had a cooking emergency, precipitated by my habitual lack of mise en place (as mentioned in the last new Irregular Webcomic!). I started boiling up some pasta, intending to just throw some pesto from a jar onto it. The pasta was boiling away, when I went to the fridge to grab the pesto… and there was none. And no spare jar in the pantry (where there is usually a spare).

So suddenly I had 10 minutes to make a pasta sauce/topping. And working with the constraints that I’m currently on a restricted diet in preparation for a colonoscopy in a few days – no seeds, and nothing coloured red. So no tomatoes.

I quickly went into a cooking frenzy, chopping broccoli into tiny florets, frying it up in olive oil, adding pine nuts, fresh garlic, chili, and then shaving some parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top once it was done. I also added a squirt of lemon juice once it was all prepared and served. It turned out pretty well! Phew. Another triumph for No-mise-en-place-man!

In other news, I got an email from the organisers of the market where I have my stall, selling photography print. They have cancelled the markets for August and September (which would have been three markets), due to caution over COVID cases in Sydney. So that’s another two months without any face-to-face selling income or handing out business cards.

New content today: