Sing a Song, Just Not That One

Posted by Ben at 2011-07-16 22:21:24 UTC

I work in retail. It’s exactly as annoying as you think it is, but a necessary evil when it comes to paying the bills and making sure I can actually write the comic. As per the usual when working in a corporate chain, there’s a whole bunch of rules, regulations and quotas to meet. One of the more annoying rules: no music in the store. Not just personal MP3 players and such, that’s obvious (actually, we’re not even allowed cell phones in the store), but we’re not allowed to pump public radio through the store speakers. Which is odd because the store is actually set up to have music, but the Wrath of God will come down on anyone who turns it on. Go figure.

Honestly, the draconic no music rule doesn’t bother me too much. I have, for lack a better description, a very loud thought process. It’s actually “loud” enough that sometimes I can’t tell the difference between me talking out loud and me thinking very intently (Back in school everyone wanted to sit next to me come test time). So give me a bit of pacing room and I can keep myself occupied for hours. What does annoy me are the side effects of the “No Music” rule.

1. At least once a day someone comes in and says, “Wow, it’s really quiet in here, you should play music or something.” Usually in that exact phrasing. It’s a lot like dealing with an NPC in most video games. Limited lines of dialogue, and it really doesn’t matter what you say to them.

2. Despite all attempts, the person complaining about lack of music will never sing a song with you. Not even Journey, not even “Don’t Stop Believing.” I’m pretty sure that most of our customers are robots. It’s not possible to have lived in the United States for more than two years and not sing a long to “Don’t Stop Believing.”

3. The same person, who was just complaining about how quiet it is in the store, will also never opt to have a conversation with me. Instead we’re forced to stand around in awkward silence, not unlike a bad date, or holidays at my parents’ house. Hey hey! Listen! If you don’t like giant, yawning quiets why don’t you talk to the guy who’s standing right next to you? I don’t bite, and I’ll gladly chat about whatever topic interests you for hours.

4. Regardless on whether or not there’s a customer in the store, my manager doesn’t like me whistling or humming “The Entertainer,” something about ice cream truck flashbacks. Whatever. I’ll have you know that song was a ragtime classic before it was used as ice cream truck muzak.

5. If I sing under my breath while a customer is in the store, I usually get odd looks and quizzical stares (again, by the very same people who were just complaining about the lack of music). Though, God help me if I get the wrong song stuck in my head. The two worst songs are “Fuck Shit Stack” and (oddly enough) “Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows.” Those two songs have actively drive customers out of the store. “Fuck Shit Stack” I can understand, but there’s something about me singing “Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows” that scares people, particularly little, old ladies. I dunno, maybe I need to take voice lessons or something.

I could deal with the whole, “no music” thing if people would just leave me the hell alone. But I do work in a store and that means, occasionally, I have to actually deal with customers. Sometimes I even feel like selling something to them. Silly customers, the corporations care nothing of you or me.

Though there is a guy who gets triple plus DBC points for actually singing the chorus of Cee-lo’s “Fuck You” with me. Worst sale of the day, seriously I’d have been fired for making a sale that bad, but the rest of the region was also doing equally shitty. However, best customer I’ve had in months.

Now if I could only get some Pirate diddies going come next International Talk Like a Pirate Day.


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Seriously, Where’d They Go?

Posted by Ben at 2011-07-03 00:23:47 UTC

I’m happy. There’s been a lot of activity recently in our comments section (Around the Elven Ball plotline for those of you going through the archives). Activity means active readers, which means Tria and I are doing our jobs well. One topic that keeps popping is a basic question, “where the heck are the the other characters?” mostly from user Clubtail. It’s a perfectly legitimate question. So far only Mary, Sue and Elator have gotten screen time. Some characters have gotten cameos, but mostly it’s just those three hogging the spot light. Actually, I’m glad that the characters and setting are rich enough (and Clubtail is astute enough) to even ask that question. For the most part, you guys (the other readers) have been doing a great job of coming up with theories and explanations and a general Fanon for where the rest of the Dubious Company crew is (with some help from Tria of course). But I thought I’d take this rant space to give a slightly more official (you’ll see why it’s only slightly in a moment) on what is going on. Also, to prove to Tria that it takes me more than ten minutes to write a script (it’s more like fifteen).

First off I’d like to put to rest any fears that I’ve forgotten the off screen characters. I know Team Kreedor hasn’t gotten much screen time (Re: Any screen time) outside of the Sues, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone into the void that characters go to when they aren’t used anymore. They’re still around, I try not to do that to my characters. Heck even poor Captain Barry is still floating around in my head. Mostly, it boils down to the issues of focusing on the current plot, space available, and pacing so this whole thing doesn’t drag too much (more than it already has).

Great. Awesome. Plot focus, available space, pacing, that explains everything…or that explains nothing. I’m going to assume the latter so I can keep talking (writing?). So here’s the thing, I’ve since learned that when I write a plot, I need to focus on that plot. I can’t just write random scenes and cram them in arbitrarily, because then I lose focus on the plot. If that happens you guys (the readers) lose focus on what was happening, and then no one knows what’s going on; that’s a very bad situation. In extreme cases it makes the comic almost unreadable. So apologizes to Phred, but art before worship.

Which is a great sentiment and all, but it also means that if I can’t think of a reasonable reason for characters to be in a scene that relates to the current plot, they get cut out. That’s probably the number one reason for disappearing characters. In the Elven Ball plot line, I honestly could not think of anything for most of Team Kreedor to be doing that also related to the current plot (involving the King, Elator, Raque, etc.) Tiren and Walter get a pass because their drunken debauchery relates to Elator’s “solutions” as a king, and Sal is acting as my Mistress of Exposition (Leeroy is technically her bodyguard so if she’s around, he’s around).

The other two reasons, available space and pacing, are actually directly related to one another. You have to understand that Dubious Company appears to move along at glacial speeds. In order to compensate for our slow updates a lot of stuff gets cut out before it actually hits the page. Basically every scene takes up space (like actual physical space, we usually to devote at least a panel, if not several pages to a scene). If a scene doesn’t drive the focused plot forward by at least a certain amount, then it’s slowing the pacing of the whole comic down. It’s something I’ve more recently been trying to avoid. I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, but that’s the reason, more often than not, characters who aren’t directly related to the current plot get their scenes cut, we just don’t have the space/time to fit them in and still keep the comic moving.

That doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s happening to the characters though. I usually have something that each character is doing during each scene, just in case I need them (or someone asks me). The thing is: it’s not finalized what’s happen off screen until it’s made mention on screen. So what the off screen characters are doing is subject to change. For the most part the guesses you guys made in the comments section are correct. But if for some reason I need say, Marty to have been hitting on Raque (somehow) off screen, then that’s what he’ll have been doing.

And that I think mostly answers your questions. Feel free to email me or Tria if you want further details (probably me, I’m pretty sure Tria didn’t even know this). And as always keep reading and spread the word.


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I’m Bad at This

Posted by Ben at 2011-06-27 00:15:04 UTC

So I know I said I would post more rants, but you can see how well that’s been working out. There’s a whole host of problems I suppose I could blame, like how my best friend from California is visiting me. Or that work is ramping up again (the work that actually pays me, not the comic (which is the more important to me)). Oh, and I suppose I also dug out my copy of Master Orion II, which ate my life for a couple of days. Those are all good reasons as to why I haven’t been posting rants. Right? I hope?

I’ll tell you a secret. Those are awful reasons. The real reason is that I’ve looking at other rants just to get an idea of format and topics. Which is what I do when I’m unsure of myself, research the hell out of whatever it is I’m unsure about. I’ve decided that most rant spaces are like blogs, and blogs are like diaries. Only everyone can read them. So not actually like dairies at all. For me, dairies are supposed to be a place where you rant and rave about all the things you’re hiding from the world. Like your own private bartender no one else knows about. I can’t do that, if I’m writing something it’s so someone will eventually read it. I mean, what’s the point of writing something if no one will read it?

Which brings us to blogs and rants. Mostly they tend to be about specific topics. You blog about something, you rant about something. You don’t just blog or rant for the sake of blog and ranting, you have a point, you something you have to say. You don’t just rant and rave for the sake of ranting and raving, you try to push a point, to convey some information of importance. That’s why you have like, tech blogs, gaming blogs, fashion blogs and…um…landscaping blogs and such.

That’s also where I kind of fall apart. There’s a lot of interesting things running around in my head, but they never really go beyond, “Oh my, how interesting.” There’s no actual intent behind them, nothing really to tell you beyond, “this is kind of cool.” At that point we move from ranting to raving. No one wants to read a rave. You can go to a rave, but you can’t read a rave. Of course it doesn’t really help that when I’m in the, “that’s so interesting” kind of mood all my writing switches to high school level essay style (here’s a hint, I put myself to sleep when I read those). But that’s okay, it just means I have to find a way to be more entertaining. So yes, I’m still intending to post here more, it just may not be quite as regular as I’d like.

On a happier note, user Enigma actually took our challenge up and sent Tria and I a file of his best evil laugh. It is definitively evil, and wakes up roommates in a most comical manner. As soon as Greg gets our extras page up and running I’ll see about hosting it up there, and if that takes way too long I’m sure I can host it at tinydec (assuming Enigma lets us of course).

If anyone else wants to send similar laughs, or anything at all vaguely DBC related, Tria and I would love it. Otherwise, keep reading and spread the word of Dubious Company for us.


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