Letters from Somnolescent April 1, 2021

mariversary 3.0: The Platypus Years

by mariteaux

Well, it’s been a tradition for me, every April 1st here at Somnolescent, to look back at something Neocities-related. I don’t quite think I’ll be carrying it along after this year, but there’s still one major bit of Neocities ephemera I’ve carried with me, something I unwittingly preserved unlike every other of its kind: my very first site design.

Given that I spent last year discussing my various Supporter’s sites, it’s only fair the main one gets its due too. And given that the other two mariversary posts both focused a bit on me and a bit on the community, I think looking back at just what I was up to will prove more positive, or at the very least, rouse the peanut gallery less.

Getting back into web design

While I’ve been playing with HTML (a rather warped variant of 3.2, I think–<body bgcolor="green"> ahoy!) ever since I was a little kid, I really started trying to build proper sites in 2015. Misery Inspires was one from way back when, now resurrected on this here site network, and I still have many HTML documents of writings and roleplays from that time lying around. Still, I didn’t have hosting, and I guess looking for free stuff was a non-starter for me back then (and fair enough).

That all changed in late March of 2018, when I’d found a link to a little place called Neocities in a profile on func_msgboard (how’s that for a retro site design, by the way?). There wasn’t much on that site, but the idea of communal hosting seemed wild to me. An entire site of people to look at what I’ve got going on! And their sites to explore too! What a concept.

The about page for mari's first Neocities site

Not like I had much better going on at the time, anyway. I built mariteaux.neocities.org in a matter of four days, and history was forever changed.

Colors and aesthetics

In my postmortem on my second EP Various Murky Basements, I discussed a fateful little photography class I’d taken and how it lead to its melty album art. It was a cold day, and I believe something temperature-related warped either the sensor or the memory card reader inside the camera, causing these highly psychedelic “runs” of highly saturated magentas, blues, and greens to completely obscure every shot.

I genuinely loved the entire batch a lot, even if I could only use one for that EP. Thus, while the full-sized originals are still semi-lost (I’ve since managed to claw a few back from Discord chatlogs), they survive in one strange way–I used them as graphics on my first Neocities site.

The splash page for mari's first Neocities site
One of the glitchy photos I took on that fateful day in 2016
You can at least see the high school and its soccer field in the background of this one. I can’t say that for some of the other banners.

Each page features a different banner that seemed to say something different to me, something that fit the theme of the page. The modding page had one of the most obscured shots, one where blue “mountains” seemed to get painted over a cyan and pink sky, and it felt fitting for a page on game worlds. The elsewhere page was a shot of some kid walking in front of me, fitting for obvious reasons. Bit of trivia, if you were to look at the filenames for each banner, you can see what I saw in them at the time.

One of the headers on my first Neocities site
Was sad to see the full-sized one of this didn’t survive, one of my favorites. Just mountains (when we were in a flat park next to a river…).

Of course, aside from the weird shapes, I also just loved their bizarre colors, and I made use of some of them in the page itself. The deep blue-green background and peach/yellow text on top was both a nice contrast and also just plain striking. Caby would later describe it as “platypus colors”, and in some weird way, blue and yellow would surface once more as our boy Sebastian’s color scheme. It’s a good mixture!

As far as layout goes, I was hardly a whiz kid at layouts and CSS at the time, so I went for simplicity. Initially, I’d intended to be able to fit three columns in the 1024px alloted for the page itself, and I’d use flexbox to make it work. Problem was, flexbox is a bit…temperamental if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I certainly didn’t (protip, don’t use three property flex declarations). Thus, most pages only had the two columns.

Content and pages

I always had the intention of using my site mainly as a portfolio with some added spots to ramble on top of it. Naturally, that’s what you get here. I had a page for my Quake maps and some Guitar Hero charts (none of the ones on that page I like and probably only still have on a backup drive somewhere), a page for my music, a page for my writing and essays, a page for linking offsite, and the “microblog”–which we’ll return to.

Of course, it should be noted that this is my latest revision of this site design, which dates to October 14, 2018. Earlier revisions had different pages, some cut content (if you remember The Quaddicted Challenge, you’re old) and also just plain missing some of what I’d later go on to add to this site (I don’t think I debuted with the album reviews, for example). By and large though, this is what it always had.

In some ways, it’s surprising just how little has changed. My current Somnolescent site design, while a bit more streamlined, still has mostly the same pages with mostly the same content, and my Outposts (the spiritual successor to the elsewhere page–damn textual skeuomorphism) still has the same overall structure of “link” and then “description” underneath it. Hell, I later went back to this exact copy of my Neocities site and retrieved the Quake map postmortems for use on my current site.

Let’s talk some of the individual pages that I either had to restore or have fond memories of putting together.

About

The eternal, the classic! The one that spawned a bizarre trend on Neocities of people writing second-person bios of themselves as characters, one that mon actually carries the torch for these days.

That’s when things get a bit strange. In the corner of the room, in a pile of tan blankets, you notice an orange pile of fluff with huge ears and a thick, yellow mane. It rolls over onto its back and stares at you with radiant green eyes, as big and ensnaring as a hedge maze. You snark about the mangy thing needing a haircut, and it hisses. A nearby table hosts some kind of encyclopedia already open to a page in the middle; the word “CODEX” is stitched into the leathery front.

“Read it,” the orange fox impels you. “If you can read, I mean.”

About pages are about the only thing the modern internet still sees in a dedicated home page, and even then, they often can’t be assed to actually write bios. I knew I wanted something that had my personality in it without just being “heyo, welcome to my ~homestead~ on the ~world wide web~” like so many other Neocities folks were doing at the time. Thus, I became mari, who became a Flareon character who people indeed warred with, for some ungodly reason.

This is also about the only place I acknowledged what “mariteaux” actually means. At least, at the time, now that the source world is dead. At this point, I seem to go by it less and less (and ideally, one of these days, I’ll come up with some new ones to use in various places instead), mostly because while it’s short and never taken, no one can spell it or say it. (Choice cuts: “Marineutx”. “Martineaux”. “Memeteaux”. “Married toes”, naturally. It’s also mare-it-oh, not Marr-it-oh. And always lowercase.)

One final bit is that I originally used some random person’s painty Flareon for the floated one off to the side. I’d met Caby in August 2018, and within weeks, I was already getting sent Flareons. Thus, the trend of me gratuitously using her art for everything I make begins…

Part of my first Neocities site's bio
[2] is still largely accurate to me, funnily enough.

Music

The music page was actually not in such great shape when I dug it out of the archive. None of the music embeds worked, and nearly all the links were offsite, some to YouTube playlists I deleted and others to conglomo.pw, which was yoshi’s attempt at an FTP upload site I found quite useful, but then it ate shit and what I had on it was lost. (I’ve had this exact conversation with him, and I’m sure there’s a reason I never got those files back, but I forgot them.) Thankfully, there was enough contextual clues in the markup to recreate it, just about.

Album reviews

My very first album review on Neocities
And here’s the very first review I ever wrote! Still a favorite. I dropped the “recommended if” later on since I stopped coming up with even bad ones, really.

I was always pretty proud of my album reviews. Some of them were ones people tossed me (think yoshi had the best track record of giving me stuff I actually liked, while PotassiumMCR, who fun fact, once emailed me about being in Somnolescent and then pussied out next day, less so), while most were either old favorites or stuff I was listening to at the time.

On occasion, I’d tackle new music. Failure was coming up with a series of EPs leading up to In the Future as a full LP, some of which I still agree with, some of which less so, and twenty one pilots actually managed to write a halfway listenable record before I stopped doing them–imagine that! Alas, that one hadn’t been released yet. (All the ones I ever wrote are on my later Neocities half-archive.)

Like with the introduction page, I like how weirdly descriptive this one gets in places. By this point, I’m keen on being rather terse with the page descriptions on my sites (I know, rarity for me), but in 2018, when I was just getting into this stuff? I went ham.

As far as my tastes as a listener go: Alternative rock, noise rock, new wave, punk. Textures. Layers of fuzz. Interesting electronica. A good rhythm section and interesting things happening with the bass. Tight songwriting. Good harmonies. Heavy percussion. Bands that can merge noise and pop goodness (Lush, Failure, The Breeders, Dandy Warhols). Albums that are mastered properly.

As far as my blind spots as a listener go: Gloss without songs behind it. Sleepy, drony indie bands that like to pretend they’re shoegaze. Hipster bullshit and /mu/core. White people reggae. Noise pieces and your gay, artsy friend’s musique concrete project.

mariteaux Unplugged

mariteaux Unplugged header

This one’s relevant with cammy.somnol having been launched earlier in the year. This was meant to be a simpler site to maintain, since in a pre-AutoSite age, keeping up a navbar and footer was about as fun as watching terminal cancer patients expire. It was also a bit more suited to reading things, being a single 640px wide column rather than a flex mess.

This is where the most infamous stuff I got known for was located, namely those fateful two essays, “Nostalgiamining vs Forging the Future” and “Neocities and a Lack of Passion”. Believe it or not, I still get very occasionally poked by new people about these essays, the last one being in November 2020 or so by a recent Neocities arrival whose name I’ve since forgotten. (She tried to add me to some annoying Discord group and unfriended me when I said no. I don’t think we would’ve gotten along.)

The “microblog”

The banner for the updates page on my first Neocities site
I went with a more recent, not-destroyed photo of the fountain on the DMZ on campus at night for the microblog, seeing as it was more “real world” than the other pages. I named it “fountainhead.jpg”–I was not yet a libertarian, so this amuses me nowadays.

Ah, and the real personal stuff. It wouldn’t be a Cammy post without some life and emotions, would it? Now, the microblog as it stood in my early months on the platform were wiped by the time I grabbed the archive, so this one takes us from July to October 2018, when I quit Neocities again for a bit after Districts went live.

The microblog is probably the best record of what was actually going on around me at the time I was on Neocities. Throughout this design, I mostly tried to focus on what I was doing with the site and happier things, but by the time the design got nuked and replaced (see below), I was pretty much done with the community. It would only be a month or two until Districts imploded and we moved to DreamHost, where we’re celebrating three years this December.

I’ll leave you with probably the entry I appreciate the most looking back. This was right around the time IceQuake got a redesign courtesy of me (and some Quake textures) and Caby started to design Sebastian and get the banners ready for Districts. Much happening at the time, many memories…

2018/09/22 – Ice age upon catastrophic ice age of selection

The second of the three sites I’m launching this fall is finally out! IceQuake, we call it, and it’s all about retro FPS and computer games. Some people found the name a bit tricky, because it’s not exclusively about Quake, but I don’t mind. On its own, the name sounds actiony, like the earth shattering into millions of razor-sharp ice chunks. Plus I’m not in the mood to come up with better names.

IceQuake was yoshi295295’s, once upon a time, but I completely rebuilt the site and added the VDU@IceQuake bits, since it fits with the topic. I still have to transfer the guides, but all of the tools are up on there right now, just like how they were on the old VDU site. This is how it used to look, by the way.

Work continues on Districts as well. We’re going through with a major visual overhaul, courtesy of Capy, and some methodology changes in the way we sort things. We’re shifting from content-based sorting (which left us with the mess that is Queensbridge) to interest-based, with the idea being you’ll find sites with stuff you wanna read and people you wanna meet. Yes, that all-important social aspect.

I know it’s a bit dumb that I’m out working on other sites more than my own, but that’s alright. I’ll be back to this when I’m back to listening to albums no one’s ever heard of, or making music, or Quake mapping. This has been a really hyper, busy fall so far, between school, making up with old friends, meeting new ones, writing, and Neocities projects. This is easily my longest update to date, that should tell you something. Mostly, I’m just excited to get back to warm, fuzzier, more familiar territory once this hailstorm is over.

For now, though, give those a follow and be on the lookout for more updates to the both of them.

Bless the Archives

I gotta tell ya, archives.somnol is the best idea on our site network I’ve had to date. It was such a trip down memory lane, digging back through my backups and posting everyone’s old site designs, keeping them viewable even long after we’ve moved on.

The Neocities section that previously went on my own site (which wasn’t really an accurate archive, given how much I tampered with it–perhaps I’ll remedy that someday) has long been there, but now, mari@Neocities v1.0 joins it. If you were around for it, if you’d like to see it again and reminisce with us–have at it.

Alas, not really much of my other redesigns survive! minerteaux is of course still up, but I had a two column 800×600 and a 640×480 “scrolling window” design (that got people amazingly pissed off somehow), neither of which I bothered to save. Both only barely got grabbed by the Wayback Machine. (That’s why there is no “microblog archive” on the Scratchpad–I just don’t have all the posts I wrote! Sad times, but also, I was pretty well pissy on the daily at that point, so it’s not a huge loss.)

Still, I’m pleased at least something of that time still exists. I take much better care of my stuff now–I know how precious it’ll be when I’m 30.

I leave you with one of my former 404 pages, which was basically an excuse to bake utterly bizarre (and usually quite explicit) copypastas from friends and from the internet at large into my site designs. Good times!

Such is the enlightened nature. The Buddha consciousness. The mind of Christ. Whatever you want to call it. The one. Love. Pure energy. The totality of that which is. The ultimate paradox. Everything is interconnected. It is beyond words, the words are only a pointer to experience. You have to actually experience it for yourself. You become more conscious of yourself and will experience life better and better for an eternity. It never ends. You will never know it all. You can know how life works but never what it is. It is an eternal mysteriousness, an eternal dance. It is the pathless path. The goalless goal. Such is a paradox of God. The goal is NOW. The eternal present moment. You already have everything you want. You just don’t know it yet. Remember when you were a child? Far more fulfilling. Just playing around without a fucking care in the world 😀 You didn’t have goals. When you made a sandcastle, you didn’t do it to “get somewhere”. You did it to build the fucking sandcastle. It is the eternal godhead Jesus talked about. The eternal present moment. Jesus said, “a child will show the way to heaven”. God is the alpha and omega, omnipresent. When your mind is completely open, you see God. The present moment, everything you can sense with your 5 life senses, and your senses will be infinitely more powerful. You cannot be anywhere else. It is all of your life. She is saying hiiii to me now 😀 (not in the way you think) Life is loving me 24/7 and i’m loving it 24/7, yet we are one and the same (paradox). I am fucking the cosmic vagina 24/7, and will forever.

Which is a really roundabout way of saying that the link that took you here is broken and you should let me know on my profile so I can fix it.

Tags: web design,

About mariteaux

mariteaux

Top asshole at Somnolescent, cosmic hippie sperg badger boy, writer, musician, and obsessive about Cabys. I actually do like long walks on the beach, thank you.


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