Gang Aft A-Gley

Episode One Hundred Fifty Two: Gang Aft A-Gley.
In which we knew it.

1 comment:

  1. Don't know the artist, but there's a series of the Mike Nomad and Steve Roper strip from the 60's with an enviably clean drawing style: economical lines, and the resulting story so clearly conveyed. I'm not interested in the story per se, but the drawing style is gorgeous.

    In this strip, the second and third frames are inspired by one of those Nomad/Roper comics, and, sure enough, I feel I miss the mark. They remain functional, but lack the lightness and clarity of the inspiration. I can't get coats to be simple, and that driveway in the third frame bugs me. Furthermore, a workflow change this week left me with a different dialog font: too small and not well spaced. Lots of downstream repair left the words severely edited, soft, poorly arranged.

    The first frame, however, does carry that lightness that I'm seeking. It's that wonderful house from Jacques Tati's 'Mon Oncle' (1958). The Nomad/Roper strip often uses external establishing shots with dialogue to frame the action. I thought of putting this week's story in such a place, only I didn't want to break that attractive image with a clumsy dialog balloon. So, the house stands alone, sterile and cold, disconnected from the frames that follow. The humor that the architecture conveys in the film is lifted, and now it's just a weird building. To me, it works: we are here, at this house, the long shadows say it's morning, and the following frames are two people conversing before one drives away.

    The contrast of strong verticals & sharp angles against the curving paths is inviting. I noticed afterward, too, that it's very Neo-classical: Nature is contained - any free-growing plants in this strip are held without the tall cement walls. That feels right to me - these men in the action are stuck inside their own ideas. They want clarity and surety, and they know they cannot have it.

    The final frame is Alain Delon from Le Cercle Rouge (1970). Halftone shadowing didn't really work here as I hoped, but that steering wheel came out pretty nicely.

    The strip relates my frustrations around this week's overhaul of my company's phone tree. Simple requests hide complex solutions. The planning and documentation is always so time-consuming in a way that is mostly unnoticed…such is the life of the sysadmin. And always, the anxiety that any time you open up a working system you'll end up introducing a design flaw that will wreak havoc.

    The perennial management request: How to anticipate every possible problem? In the end, the best we can do is to simply pay attention, all day, every day. Listen to the prompts, and not assume they are the same as what you heard before. This is exhausting.

    Ten minutes after the new system was put in place, I was handed my first new complaint. Someone who was claiming to have heard the new prompts directing her to make a choice that was based on the old prompts, the choice no longer an option. This problem she has imagined, and no matter what I do, I can't control another person's experience. Yet I am often held accountable for it.

    Best laid plans. I was surprised to see that Burns' poem from which 'mice and men' is taken was from the late 1700s. I must have known that's when he lived, but I was somehow placing him in the late 1800s. Good to know that even then, as the U.S. Founding Fathers were forging a new nation, there was one person in Scotland stopping everything to muse over an upturned mouse nest. Surely someone was standing by him wondering why he had stopped plowing, wasting his time over vermin.

    An unseen thread connects me with Robert Burns - tangential thinking that perpetually delays the project. Tangential thinking that no amount of planning can divert or pave over.



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