Oh, I’m close to coming up with my own solution to the draft-image-upload situation. Very close indeed.

(From The Order of the Stick. Click for full-sized doors! Why did it have to be doors!)

There’s… a lot of stuff going on here. There’s so much going on that I even have more titles than I know what to do with.

First, a lot of the thinking I had in mind for what would happen after #653 is completely busted. Rather than a lot of talking, we got an action sequence. Truth be told, I probably should have done a post on #655, which was pretty weighty in its own right. So let’s see, Redcloak loses an eye and Xykon’s on the verge of losing his phylactery to someone who was a complete no-name before the current book. That’s not an important strip to pay attention to at all.

Yes, I am going to fulfill the April OOTS post I owe you, only with a week left in May. That was a brilliant strategy, wasn’t it?

So in order of what happens in this strip: See those X’s in Panel 2? So Jirix was worse than a background character, but may have saved… someone’s life. As we’ll soon see, possibly not Xykon, maybe Vaarsuvius, but perhaps most likely is just ruining O-Chul’s.

V still has at least a couple of spells left. That screws up some of the thinking that I, at least, had in mind.

Xykon’s phylactery is loaded with protections, as we find out the first time someone tries to break it… which probably suggests Xykon was not as close to being destroyed in the tower as we were once led to believe. So what happens when the time comes to actually break it near the end of the story? Or does Xykon actually survive the end of the story?

Third-to-last panel almost seems designed to address some of the more out-there and deus-ex-machina theories held by forumers… so why do I think it’s going to lead to forum speculation about Qarr popping in despite very little for him to do?

Cleverly, O-Chul’s last panel in this strip is him at the exact moment of him getting hit with the lightning bolt, and it’s clear in the last panel that he’s down, but we not only don’t see him we don’t even see Xykon. Is he dead? Negative hit points? Zero hit points? Even in positive hit points but too weakened to go on?

And now what happens? It would be stupid for someone to just crack open the door and render this little dilemma moot. Does V stick around for a while in the room or something? Does he hop out that huge hole in the wall, if that would be effective in any way at all other than getting a lot more scratches? Maybe Qarr really does hop in and do something? V ain’t gonna die here, because if she was she would be dead already… unless Xykon’s dealing with O-Chul has its own impact, like turning the MitD against him? It’s like Rich is playing chess with his audience!

And what about the rest of the book? We have at least one more strip of V running around like a chicken with his head cut off, that’s 657. Possibly a second, but I could at least see us moving on after the next strip if the circumstances are right. Then we have to zip back over to the main body of the OOTS for the return of Roy. That’s at least two, maybe three, strips. We need a strip for Roy himself to make his triumphant return, then at least one strip to assess the situation, and maybe a strip for looking forward or to serve as transition. That takes us to 660 when you combine the two maybes. Heck, maybe the OOTS will even meet back up with Hinjo and his group.

Because it doesn’t look like we’re going to get the exposition I anticipated for this stretch, you might think that means we’re using fewer strips. And you would be wrong. We’ve already burned two in the tower for different reasons than I anticipated. We have a bunch of establishing shots to burn as well (such as where Redcloak went and what V’s doing), and if the Linear Guild is going to show up in this book we need to see them soon. That’s a minimum of two (the LG and the end-of-book montage) and probably more, taking us to 662 or more.

An average of the last two books’ duration would suggest that the current book will end at or around the auspicious number of 666. We don’t have a lot of strips to answer all the questions that are best answered in the current book. Where do the OOTS go from here? What’s the Linear Guild doing? What will V do if and when he escapes? Are Xykon and/or Redcloak affected by these events? Where did Redcloak go with that Word of Recall? Will Roy tell off Celia? Will the OOTS replace V? How did Redcloak know about soul splices and will V find out? Is there special importance to the island both the Sapphire Guard and OOTS wound up at? Is the sky blue? Is grass green? All that and more, tonight on a very special episode of the Order of the Stick!

So this post isn’t quite as long or in-depth as I originally had in mind. Again, Rich kind of ruined things by going as far away from the exposition as possible. I can’t help but shake the feeling I’m forgetting something by rushing through this post, on either end of it. But at least in my own mind, I’m fulfilling my end of the deal, and that’s all that matters.

I’m probably leaving enough clues for you to figure out what this is.

I have a number of things on my plate. I have some posts I’ve been sitting on because I’ve had more urgent things to work on in the time when I’m not completely distracted trying to catch up on feeds. I’m trying to make a big finish to make sure I pass one of my classes, for one thing.

I also have a decent-sized series I was planning to start tomorrow that would have served to maintain a consistency of posts into the fall, and combined with other projects, the RID, and webcomic reviews, maintained my 5-post-a-week pace well into next year. But because of procrastination on my part, I entered this past week with quite a bit of work to do to get that project ready. It was already somewhat doubtful I’d be able to get all the requisite research done in a week and might have needed to go to backup plans.

So naturally I get zero of that research done, or much of anything else, personal project or no, during the past week, and now I have a mountain of makeup work to get done, and I’ve been spending the past weekend catching up on seven hours’ worth of TV shows as a result of missing two before last week. TV Tropes has ruined my life again! (Or in this case, introduced me to the Nostalgia Critic. It takes a lot of doing to get me to actually laugh out loud, and this passes with flying colors.)

So I feel I have no choice but to delay this project for a year until 2010.

I’m not particularly pleased with this decision. It passes up a once-in-six-to-eleven-years opportunity to start the series on a Monday, and by doing it next year I’m starting it on a Tuesday, which is… awkward. I could have the second part still be on Wednesday, or delay it two years to 2011 and start it on a Wednesday, but the latter might be too long for me and the nation and the world, and it would be most useful if I could get it out before the 2010 midterms, so the short notice a postponement entails is dicey enough.

But I feel it’s probably for the best. I don’t want a repeat of the mess that was the October of Politics, where the work I get done is of significantly less quality than what I had in mind and derails my life. Perhaps by waiting a year, I’ll have a larger audience and the series would make a larger impact. Also, I originally envisioned the global warming series being mostly over at this point, and it’s barely getting started, so the two mega-projects would be running concurrently for most of the time, complete with the research needed for each. There’s some research I still need to do and fast to move on to the next part of the global warming series, and two posts I was hoping to get done over the weekend that I’m unlikely to get either done today, even with this postponement. Basically, I have way too much on my plate already for the next week without this little distraction.

With luck I can focus on the problems I have now, and hold off on this problem for another twelve months.

This week in Questionable Corporate Decisions:

Recently I wrote a paper for my communication class on the local Tully’s, which I frequent for its Wi-Fi, as a social space. One thing I remarked on was the weird blend of easy listening and lite rock playing on the sound system.

It appears they’ve switched to 90s hits.

Now I find it significantly more distracting. Not what I would call the smartest decision in the world.

A question for Twitter users.

Does Twitter allow you to change the time display so it shows the exact time a tweet was posted regardless of how recent it was, instead of “X amount of time ago”?

(Geez, you’d think someone would put up a comprehensive guide to the settings screen somewhere. Maybe that means it’s really intuitive, but it sounds like that’s not necessarily the case.)

Hate to ruin the party, but…

Daryn Kagan via Fang’s Bites links to an “inspirational” story of a small newspaper that’s doing well in the face of a tough market for newspapers – maybe it’s a model for other local papers? – and…

…it’s incredibly depressing. If Fang thinks this is the way to save bigger papers, he’s incredibly naive about the issues surrounding newspapers. Do you realize it basically amounts to a blog in print form with a price tag attached?

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

If I had decided exactly what strip I was running today, let alone actually made it, the strip would be posted about now. Instead it’s probably not going up until after 3 PM PT.

Still no votes on the RID poll? Do you people care that little about it? Well, this is probably hardly the first time I’ve linked to some vegetarian site, and it’s definitely not the first time I’ve linked to a recipe site…

Blog of Webcomics’ Identity Crisis: The End of “Free Content”?

A “case in point” on the thought-provoking nature of the Floating Lightbulb: Today Bengo argues that webcomickers should stop thinking of themselves as giving content away for free.

He makes some good points but since he emphasizes preparing comics for later print distribution, I suspect that Scott “Infinite Canvas” McCloud would scream bloody murder at him…

I desperately need a real job, so naturally I’ve put in zero effort towards that for months.

I’m pissed at myself, I’m pissed at the library, and I’m pissed at timing.

I wouldn’t ordinarily hate the University District Street Fair. I’ve strolled through it myself on occasion, taken in sights, seen and tasted interesting things.

But when the vast majority of the decent Wi-Fi spaces near my house are right near the fair, I don’t particularly want a big booming concert when I’m trying to do something, and I certainly don’t want the library to make it hard for me to work under those circumstances.

(It didn’t help that I lost my keys right before I left the house.)

So I’m really pissed that all this conspired toaln dfjhkrqvkaflhalsbwvnfhushwimowbtjwo ybiofvhqepg35nogv2g3qv[ delay posting the strip until not that long before 5.

Tomorrow’s strip will be no earlier than noon PT.