8/7/09 – 9/8/09
pages 443 – 613
Dave’s cinematic in unquestionably about his class.
You don’t even know what’s up with this sick heat. The sun threatens to set but won’t step off. It’s staring you down, like the big red eye of a hot needle skipping on a groove its tracing ’round the earth. While lingering in midair its heat seems to suspend time itself, stretching it like warped vinyl.
My guess is that “Knight of Time” was the easiest one to imagine in advance, as far as Homestuck goes, that’s nigh self-explanatory. I do love that line about heat suspending time. That’s a feeling we’ve all had during one summer or another. The background noise is eerie given the imagery, fire raining down from the sky while Dave looks out his window, totally oblivious. The silliest misattributed quote yet breaks the mood, but extracts a smile from me nevertheless.
We are still following the pattern of the opening arc and now it’s time to explore Dave’s apartment and learn about his Guardian. Oh boy.
Right from the get go we’ve got a sense that Dave is suppressing something about his Bro. He’s focusing real hard on the ironic humor aspect of the handcuffed and be-thonged puppets, and thinking about no other connotations whatsoever. It’s even more interesting since Dave’s relationship with Bro stands in such contrast to John’s and Rose’s with their Guardians. John complains a lot about his Dad, and later we’ll see build up for a false epiphany that comes to nothing. Really, the two of them have a normal (for Homestuck) and loving relationship. Even the complaining is normal. Rose is locked in what she sees as a battle of passive aggressive wits with her mother. She heaps a great deal of scorn on her in regards to the excessive drinking that goes on in the Lalonde household, though later Rose will confess to always having held a deep respect for her mother. Dave insists that everything Bro does is awesome but there’s obvious cracks in the facade. There’s an innocence in his desire to see Bro as an unquestionable hero rather than as the person he is. He doesn’t want to admit that there might be a level of sincerity to these “jokes”. Now, it’s not that I don’t think Bro is awesome, but there’s more ambiguity to him than Dave wants to deal with. Young Strider here tends to resist (non-ironic) nuance out of instinct. There’s still a question as to whether or not Dave will ever come to terms with his childhood memories even in present-day Homestuck. (Like right now too, but I’m guessing this never gets resolved. Some things in life are unsolvable.)
Last session, Jade pointed out that Rose and Dave mean the opposite of everything they say. I wonder for a moment if this extends to the captions. How much does Dave’s irony and Rose’s cynicism affect what we know?
We finally get our first look at the famous rapping ventriloquist dummy when he appears behind Dave.
All the kids are easily distracted but Dave is like a kitten that’s gotten loose in a fiber studio. We are going to spend a long time wandering around this apartment. We check out Bro’s computer and are informed that he knows Dave knows the password and doesn’t care. He’s not secretive about what he does, it’s Dave who’s misinterpreting. Do smuppets really bring in billions of dollars a year? The two of them live in what appears to be a one bedroom apartment, so I’m guessing that’s an exaggeration. It is sweet that Bro keeps up with Dave’s comics (like that drawing Dad has taped to the fridge in the Egbert household).
I’ve decided the captions are an accurate reflection of Dave’s thought process given this page. And the bit after Dave gets spooked by another of Lil’ Cal’s sudden appearances. “You are starting to flip the fuck out. Without losing your cool of course.” I still laugh at his message to John, though in retrospect I also feel bad for him. Who can blame him for being nervous? Poor kid.
The next pesterlog is a loop back around to a conversation we’ve already read, the one that opened last session in fact. This gets at what I wrote awhile ago about shifting perceptions in Homestuck. Coming back to this exchange through Dave’s point of view changes the whole feeling. Before, it was setup for the exposition that was about to take place. The two of them came off as cavalier and distant; they reminded me of the chorus in a play you might recall. Now, what jumps out at me is Dave’s anxiety, his need to keep in constant contact with his friends in order to maintain his cool. This multi-layered understanding is one of the great pleasures of this kind of narrative.
This also brings us back to John and Rose and their efforts to progress through Sburb. Rose deploys the Punch Designix and points out that the house and its environs are fulls of little monsters dressed in colorful clown costumes. I surmise from the caption commentary on this page that the line “John: Confront Pogo Ride to prepare yourself for Nanna” indicates that we have returned to user generated commands.
I have no idea if the Pogo Ride mini game ever worked. It’s a neat idea at least. Rose gets proactive as client player.
I love the way items used to level up. Hussie had so much fun making up the names for new levels that he extended it to everything. There is nothing not to love about the phrase “Archimedes’ Aquacradle”. The comic establishes more rules around Grist and the collecting thereof and we see Rose starting to build.
John is obligated to make a reference to Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff which Rose pretends to ignore in favor of talking about the tasks at hand. The purpose of Dave’s webcomic was to give the kids something to make in-jokes about, to give us a feel for how long they’d known each other and how close they were. I know I’m on record as not being terribly amused by Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff’s antics, but the Alpha Kids really could have benefited from something like it.
Meanwhile, inside the kitchen, we establish that Nannasprite is a ghost of many talents.
There’s a really great fight scene involving John, a living room full of imps, the Pogo Ride, a hammer, a cruxite dowel and a refrigerator. Then John and WV resolve their differences while Rose uses the safe in Dad’s study to take out more imps. She does a lot of things in the background while John communicates with WV.
Now we finally get to see our first instance of punch card alchemy. I do love this stuff, though there’s no reason to discuss it in detail right now. I can’t imagine any other story where punch card alchemy would be an idea so totally at home and feasible. Alchemization by this point has become so familiar to readers that it hardly ever enters the comic at all.
The way we’re walked through the process is brilliant too, with John experimenting with cards in order to preemptively answer questions readers would no doubt have had. Such as, “What if you just mashed the keys?”
We get ready to move things upstairs and Rose points out to John that she can’t see anywhere in John’s house that he hasn’t been, like into Dad’s room.
Before we can head out though, we need to check out the contents of the safe. There’s an old copy of Colonel’s Sassacre’s giant tome (like the one John had in his magic chest), a guide to shaving, and some old newspaper clippings.
There’s one of Dad’s touching fatherly notes and an empty captcha card. Picking it up leads quite naturally to the disposal of the carved cruxite that created John’s entry object. I recall this as another pattern, the code of the entry item is always lost, probably it’s paradox space at work again.
There’s some more fiddling with the designix and John whittles down his deck some more, don’t worry he’ll soon be able to make all the cards he wants. Apparently, John can throw his hat away even though he can’t put anything down, ever. We establish that Colonel Sassacre’s book is plenty big enough to take down an imp and then John scrambles up the tiny rickety stairs Rose made for him.
And we’re back to Dave. Bro is moving stuff around on him and Dave knows what that means, it’s time to prepare to throw down.
That said, Dave’s initially creeped out by his accidental participation in a puppet snuff film but after he plays along quite enthusiastically. I really hope that was fake blood.
I still really enjoy this scene of Dave gearing up for the duel with Bro, even though the battle animation that it was meant to be building towards was edited out when Hussie ran out of time to make it. I used to read Scott Adams’s blog as a wee nipper and I remember one entry he wrote discussing how humor has to work on multiple levels to be funny. He had a list of things that contribute to a humorous situation; I don’t remember every bullet point but I do know that absurdity, cleverness and cuteness were on it. Dave in the kitchen touches on all these points. The situation and the setting it’s taking place are absurd, then there’s the cleverness of the wordplay going on with Dave’s fighting with his fetch modus, throw in a bit of the unexpected whenever we discover some new level of Bro’s insane hobbies, and finally the strange but undeniable cuteness of Dave Strider and it’s all just irresistible. This is the scene that really started to win me over after my initial dislike.
Some miscellaneous notes: Dave apparently knows the scrabble points value for every letter of the alphabet off the top of his head. I though this was surprisingly dorky, but then realized that scrabble would provide valuable training for anyone using a hash map fetch modus. Bro probably had Dave participating in nightmare scrabble marathons to get his vocabulary into shape. The first time I read this comic I was distressed by the uselessness of the Strider kitchen and Dave’s comment that he has to live off food squirreled away in his closet. It was quite early in the morning by that point and I come from a family who puts a lot of emphasis on fresh food (raising our own beef for example), so this went right to my heart. It can’t all have been bad times, it’s heavily implied that some really sweet fort building used to go down. Dave’s “hilariously abusive” childhood has become sort of a thing. I have mixed feelings about it. Probably I’ll discuss it at a later point.
Let’s close this session with another looped back around pesterlog that I skipped over mentioning the first time. I love this conversation for the similarities between Rose and Dave it sets up. They both have a talent for wordplay and a certain turn of mind that I will call “sick” for lack of a better term. They use this talent in different ways but in the end they finish up in the same place.
TG: you dont seem to harbor any sympathy for the fact that ive burrowed fuck deep into lively, fluffy muppet buttock
TG: im whirling in the terrible cyclone at the epicenter of my own personal holocaust of twitching foam noses
TG: its like a fucking apocalypse of perky proboscis here
TG: the proboscalypse i guess
TT: Are you going to start rapping about this?
TG: what no
TG: no listen
TT: Prong of flesh bereft of home
TT: Found solace ‘twixt a cleft of foam.
TG: no oh jesus
TT: Of apocalypse your thoughts eclipse
TT: A painted pair of parted lips
TT: That dare through kiss to stir the air
TT: That teases tufts of orange hair.
TT: And though faces flush in lovers’ fits,
TT: Hands snug in plush as gloves befit.
A combination of doctors appointments and my own tendency to be distracted meant the notes for this session sat on my desk for awhile. I did venture into the forums searching for other active bloggers and found this spreadsheet. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it is interesting. Next time I think I’ll do something a little different.