Wednesday, August 19

100 Uses For Bacon


Dear TV Producers,

I like reality tv as much (okay, more than) the next guy.  But please stop calling them "social experiments."  Yes, I am looking at you There Goes The Neighborhood.

In other thoughts, Big Brother: please add more robotic voice bossing around the housemates.  I find that creepy and entertaining.

Monday, August 3

Funky Forest: First Contact

I watched this last night.

If Monty Python were Japanese and directed by Hal Hartley with design work by David Cronenberg... but then just made not interesting.  Curious, yes.  Interesting, no.

Here is a review of someone who liked it and I can't argue with it.

Thursday, July 30

More irrational fears from the deep

In general jellys don't freak me out... until I see something this darn big.

(via Boing Boing)

Epic Mickey: Disney meets Fallout?

Facts: Warren Spector (designer of games like Deus Ex and Thief and others) is designing a game referred to as "Epic Mickey."  It is supposedly steampunk... Disney steampunk.

What is less clear to me is how many of these pictures are actual concept art and how many are just from artists who are working on the game.

Either way, so awesome. 

Cybraphon: Internet addicted, emotionally needy steampunk robot band


(via Gizmoto)

Wednesday, July 29

Assorted Playmobile Sets

(via Topless Robot)

Recent Random Thoughts of Media Junkie

I watched the 3rd episode of Hell's Kitchen last night.  It was the follow up of the cliffhanger from episode 2 where Joseph, at the elimination-thingy, challenge Ramsey to go out to the parking lot to throw down.  It ended pretty anti-climatically: Joespeh just stormed out.  But it is those sort of events of reality shows that always blow my mind.  Had you seen the show?  Have you seen television?!  Did you not know that Ramsey would yell at you?  (It was actually clear that Joseph got flustered and then embarrassed and felt like he had to defend his manhood or some such.   So weird.)  Otherwise the episode didn't have any big zingers.  None of the chefs have become a favorite of mine yet.  I like Kevin for manning up and working hard with 2 hurt ankles.  And Ariel, who I was pretty dismissive of at first but brought it at service.

Then I watched More to Love.  I have never watched a full episode of The Bachelor or that ilk (I may have made it through a few late night episodes of Blind Date... and, yes, I did see a few Flavor of Love episodes).  Those shows seem like so much selling oneself for fifteen minutes of fame.  I mean, these are "beautiful" people.  They should have no problem meeting people.  If they are having a hard time finding "love," it is because (1) they are choosing poorly and/or (2) are not good people inside.  Having a tv show pick a mate and then have you compete for that love... ick.

So More to Love has me conflicted.  One one hand it is just another dating show: 1 man, 20 women.  No way to build a relationship.  And then there is the plus-size thing.  It does feel exploitative... but I'm not sure if it is anymore exploitative than any other reality show. (The intro animation starts classy with a wedding ring motif but then, right at the end, has a large ring fall with a thud around the title, jarring the letters.  Really?)  One the other hand, they almost all seem sincere.  Honestly sincerely looking for something they have not been able to find out there.  The show had me tearing up a few times.  And there is quite a bit of beauty.  But there is also a level of desperation that is hard to deal with.  When, after just a few hours and maybe ten minutes with Luke (the gentleman), they begin wax so about him and then cry at the prospect of having to leave... ack.  But I watched and found it touching and compelling and the show has me thinking about the nature of love and beauty and fame and exploitation.

Also, Luke has moves.  Serious bad ass moves.  Sometimes slick, sometimes cheesy as all get out.  I suppose you get ballsy when you know all the women are competing for your attention and you can get away with, "How do you say 'kiss' in Spanish?"

I've watch a few episodes of The Great American Road trip on Hulu.  It is a poor excuse for a series of product placements.

CBS has a show called There Goes the Neighborhood this summer.  A small neighborhood enclosed behind a 20ft wall.  Big Brother, basically.  I wish it was more like Survivor meets "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."  That is a show I would like to see.

When did Brian Leher of WNYC just become a lefty radio talk show host?  In the vein of Rush (but left instead of right).  Not as bad, obviously.  Maybe I never noticed because I am a lefty.  But lately he seems to have dropped all pretenses of balance.  Sucks up to people he agrees with and goes attack dog on those he doesn't.  Hey, I agree that it is okay for personality journalists to be have and be open about their point of view.  But Leher has just rambles now, seems to care less and less what his guests actually say.  And 30% the time his interjections just have their facts wrong.

Brooke Gladstone has been away from On The Media lately because she is working on a book.  Sadness.

My favorite voice (sound, timber, etc.) on NPR right now is Tell Me More's Michel Martin.

My hatred (yes, hatred) of Jonathan Schwartz has waned.  Now he just strikes me as sad.

More people should listen to Speaking of Faith.  Not just may friends but the country.  Not that it is the most amazing show ever, but it does open up new ideas.

Monday, July 27

Alice in Waterland

OKay, I feel a bit weird posting these photos... young girls under water.  But they are very cool pictures.  Link to more of Sugarock's photos.



Someties people ask me what my dreams are like.
This is pretty close.  Except with less space fez.

Funky forest, after school sports

I'm not even going to try to explain.

I need rewatch Nake Lunch.

I don't use this phrase often but... WTF??

(I am now going to have to watch every "Funk forest" vid on youtube.)

(via Unique Daily)

Sunday, July 26

Moments in Gaming

[paraphrased] "We are about to witness the birth of an Elder God... if we are to believe the chinaman."
- Samuel Clemens, April 1893, in the town of Monarch, Colorado.

Rubick's Sandwich

(via Serious Eats)

Saturday, July 25

Instant Poetry Jr.

Instant poetry jr.
Ready to go, I asked.
Just let me finish my daydream,
she answered.

(from Instant Poetry)

Often when I wake up, I realize that I have left a dream uncompleted. I almost always have to go back to sleep to finish it.

Thursday, July 23

Dr. Who asks the hard questions: "What are you doing here?"

Spoilers t-shirt

I like the idea of this shirt better than the execution.
From 202 Star Wars T-Shirts

Otters Squeek?

I don't know what I thought otters sounded like but it is not like they do in this video.
In other news... Nicole, it turns out you still don't do a good baby bird impression but you do a great otter.

Wednesday, July 22

Flynn Lives! (TRON2 viral site)

I know I will probably be disappointed whenever this movie comes out but this gets me excited.  So excited.  (I still can't understand why they haven't released a quality version of the teaser from last year.  Maybe we'll get something from Comic-Con.  Fingers crossed.)

Moon Man Robot... only $2!

Friday, July 17

Why? Why?

I like Tim Burton. Or at least I used to like Tim Burton. Now I just want to like him. I have been holding on through so many films that have fallen flat for me, that have just left me feeling empty and cold. But I have been holding on because his design aesthetic is something that pulls me in.

I love Alice In Wonderland. I cherish that story. I am also a big fan of reworkings of stories. So, yes, I was excited about Burton's Alice. Seemed like a pairing made in heaven.

But, in no world I ever want to live in, would Alice wear this. Never.

I'm done, Mr. Burton. I am out.

Wednesday, July 15

Beautiful Words

I may just print this out and use these as suggestions at improv shows.

(via Katey)

Things to say...

...during sex (link to image).

Created by this guy.  Who also does this.  I've decided I wantto know this person.

And this is dedicated to someone who knows who they are.

Monday, July 13

The Treachery of Images (and Bowser)

Great weekend

Improv is a weird thing. I suppose the same thing can be said for anything in the arts.  The thing about improv is that it can be so ephemeral and so capricious.  You can practice and practice and still not feel things click in any given performance.  True, the more you practice the more consistent you can become.  But it does sometimes feel like so much is left to chance.

One think that makes good performers good is confidence.  So much of performance is just selling whatever you are doing as if you believe in it 100%.  Look at karaoke.  You can be a pretty mediocre singer, but if you stand up there and give it all of your heart, the audience will be with you.  If you are tentative, you will fall flat.

For whatever reasons, I have spent a lot of my improv time being tentative, never quite believing in myself.  For whatever reason I've started to get over that.

I had three great shows thins weekend.  I can't say that moves I was making were that different from the moves I would have made a year ago... but I just wasn't second guessing them.

Anywhozits, TYR had a great send of show for Casey on Friday.  Patient and confident.  And I got to do a Twilight Zone scene, which always makes me happy.  Nicole & Chris had a great set on Saturday at Action Pals.  An incredibly simple monoscene with and incredibly simple game but layered with lovely fun to play patterns.  I find working with Nicole so effortless.  And then Saturday at midnight was Howarts Improvisation Society that went awesome and was just a hoot.  For a show with 15 people (often on stage all at the same time), all with magic wands, it was amazingly controlled.  Just a fun fun show.  The audience seemed to like it.

So, yeah. I'm feeling pretty good. (An, hell, that was only the good improv things...)

Saturday, July 11

Plugging my other blog some more

Two weeks things got away from me so I fell short. Last week I had one extra story (but also a story that wasn't a story and was just ten one liners).  Anywhozits, Apocalypse Daily is still going strong(ish).

Yesterday's was a continuation of my not written zombie novel that I have no idea what it is.  I just like writng zombie scenes.  Warning, it includes violence and swearing.

Friday, July 10


The Splayd: Weapon of choice when defending yourself from small zombies.

My Irrational Fear Plus

This is right before these dead mantas come back as zombie mantas.

My Irrational Fear

Seriously.  Why aren't you all freaked out by rays?  

Shows in the next 36 hours

Look, I know there is talk about people getting sick and dying and possibly getting back up and walking around and stuff. But that's obviously nonsense. With all this stress and whatnot, don't you think you could use some laugh-laugh?

TONIGHT! (Friday)
at Under St. Marks Theater
94 St. Marks Pl. (btw 1st & A)
10:30p. $6.

THANK YOU, ROBOT is host/perforing as always. As is OHIO who is an awesome newish team (sometimes coached by a TYR member) and IRON RUCKUS who is like an indei superteam of madness. Good madness.

TOMORROW! (Saturday)
Village Lantern
167 Bleecker St.

7:00p. Free.
ACTION PALS are great and such a supportive drive in the comedy world (you may have seen their hilarious vids) and this show is always fun. I am performing with NICOLE & CHRIS (which is basically the same as AGAINST ALL ODDS, the break-up improv tw0-person group I'm in, except we are stepping away from break-up for a bit and we haven't come up with a new name yet although I am still pushing for CASINO CHILDREN which is an anagram for "Chris and Nicole"). Also performing are ACTION PALS (of course), FAT PENGUIN (who I love as performers and people) and OHIO (who, while new, are booking shows all over town).

UCB Theater
307 W. 26th St.

Midnight. $5. Link to make reservations (which you might want to do since this appears to be popular)
To quote... "You are cordially invited to a magical romp through the realms of comedy, as envisioned by the finest improvisers that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has to offer. All Muggles, half-bloods and house elves are welcome to attend. (No Death Eaters, please!)"

So you should come out.  If you are concerned about these rumors of the dead waking, don't be.  I just realized that all three shows are in easy to defend basements.

Thursday, July 9

Form of a....!

I am not sure why the Wonder Twins are such a pop culture reference for me. Perhaps it was that on Super Friends (which, let's be honest, the lamest name for a superhero show ever), they were the kids I could relate do. Not that I had a twin or anything. They were just yound. And had a purple space monkey. I always wanted a space monkey (of any color). Or it might have been, even when I was a wee lad, I undresttod how campy they were. (Is campy the right word? I have begun to realize that I am not 100% sure what camp is. Does it have to be intentional? I don't know.)

Anyway, I will, given any opportunity, yell "FORM OF A... BADGER! FOR OF A... ROCKETSHIP MADFE OF OF ICE!"

Here is some packaging for some new toys.

Awesome, right? Two things though:
1) Gleek is on the back/inside ofthe packaging... but do you actually get him as a figure? If not, SHAME MATTEL!
2) I love how Jayna gets a badass eagle has her form and Zan get a badass bucket of water.

Monday, July 6

Happy Send a Video to Sarah Claspell Day!

I have no idea how Sarah feels about yo-yo-ing but I also am a sucker for peer pressure.

Kev & Alice: Homeless Sims

Kev and Alice.
"This is an experiment in playing a homeless family in The Sims 3. I created two Sims, moved them in to a place made to look like an abandoned park, removed all of their remaining money, and then attempted to help them survive without taking any job promotions or easy cash routes. It’s based on the old ‘poverty challenge’ idea from The Sims 2, but it turned out to be a lot more interesting with The Sims 3’s living neighborhood features.

I have attempted to tell my experiences with the minimum of embellishment. Everything I describe in here is something that happened in the game. What’s more, a surprising amount of the interesting things in this story were generated by just letting go and watching the Sims’ free will and personality traits take over."
I have done similar projects with friends.  The Sims is amazing for the amount of narrative it allows us to create, even if it is happening in our heads. We develop emapthy forthese digital beings.  I also find it interesting, from a storytelling stand point, how we often feel more for Sims than we might for a character in a scripted game.  Perhaps we see the randomness in our own lives in their plights.

Tuesday, June 30


Pretty cool looking steampunk fantasy web comic. Just started. Will have to see where it goes.

Monday, June 29

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

I recently rewatched this.

The first half of the movies pretty great. Pretty much until the get out of the deadlands or whatever it is.

It also loots from Terry Gilliam films extensively, especially Time Bandits and Baron Munchausen. That is sort of awesome and sort of lame. But,hey, if you are going to loot surreal fantasy from someone, Gilliam is a good choice to do it from.

Depp recently said in regards to Pirates 4, "At this point I'm trying to turn it into a Beckett play."

God bless him.

O is for... Optimus Prime Obliterating Oompa Loompas

From Neill Cameron's awesome A-to-Z of Awesomeness.

Saturday, June 27

X-Men Love Map


I have actually never followed X-Men (or any Marvel/DC stuff). I know enough from listening to other people talk.

However I do love relation maps. We made one in college of who had been involved with who (focus on the theater commmunty). Very educational.

I also love anything that says "signifies one of the parties is from an alternate reality." Sadly, our college map did not include this.

It probably should have.

Tuesday, June 16

Monday, June 15

Some people just date people who aren't good for them

I have had numerous friends who date people who are horrible for them. "He's violent," I'd say. But they never listen.

Thursday, June 11

ET's blog


Nicole Drespel

Do you know her?

You should. She's here and here and here. (She doesn't use the last one much but I assume that is only because she hasn't had much opportunity lately to visit old timey places... she's a busy woman).

She's also an improviser.  A talented one.  She's on the UCB Harold team Robber Barron, who are new but inspiring and awesome.  She's on a bunch of indie teams because (1) she is supportive and funny and smart, (2) everyone wants to have her one their team, and (3) she has a problem saying no.  I am pretty happy that I'm on a two person team with her.  Against All Odds.  We perform a breakup on stage.  It's pretty cool.  She makes me feel safe to go to more emotional places on stage than I normally go.  (We aren't going to do the breakup form for a bit.  Still perform but stretch our wings for awhile.  We are always looking for shows.)

She's also does storytelling.  I have yet to see her do this.  But I have heard by people I know and respect that she's great.  That seems about right.

She is really good at Taboo but gets competitive.

She's a good friend.  She listens well, laughs readily, cares large. All the good stuff.  She's also more insightful about others than herself.  No.  That is not true.  She seems very insightful about herself, but, like all of us, doesn't always take her own advice.

I can also say she's a good kisser.

It's fair to say that she is a good person to know.  And everyone should be nice to her and give her praise and a better job that she likes more.


Wednesday, June 10

My social fears

I know, for a fact, that I can come across as stand-offish. Maybe even cold. Hell, maybe it isn't “can come across.” It might be “always come across.”

Here's the deal: I am scared of you all.

I know this is common fear, especially amongst people in the performing arts, but I often have the feeling, no, the belief, that no one actually wants to get to know me... or hang out with me. I'm not scared of folks actively disliking me (I already know who they are). I just assume I am not high on many people's radar/wish list.

It is nothing you do. In general, the people I want to get to know are great. They're friendly and warm. It's all me. (And as I type it, it sounds pathetic and sad and needy and whiny.) But it is honestly what goes on in my head, especially when I first meet people. “Oh, they won't want to get to know me.” And so I stand back, not putting myself forward. And that comes across as cold and indifferent.

The fear beneath that fear, is that if I let most folks see the non-cold me, they'd freak out. It comes out sometimes. When I get passionate about something. When I stop being concerned about being correct or making sure I see all sides of every damn issue and opinion. I rant from within. It's not an angry rant. It's a passionate rant, a fount of ideas and thoughts.

The weird thing is where I have recently tapped into that place in me: Storytelling in front of an audience. I've done in a couple of times, in a very safe/supportive place. And for some reason it is easier for me to formulate my ideas. I think sometimes being told “You have ten minutes and no one is going to interrupt or interject. It is all you” is just the freedom I need. It is like I am tapping into something that has built up and been stored. And, surprisingly, I lose that fear.

I also do it when I am gamemastering. Sigh.

Thursday, May 28


This is ALMOST helpful.

RunPee: A site that shows you when in a movie you should run to the bathroom.

The problem of course is that you can't really access this info without pissing off everyone sitting next to you.

So much better than a Dewback

(via Arbroath)

Archie finally choses... poorly

Terminator Salvation

I broke down and saw it yesterday. And yet again I am amazed at how wrong they got it. Felt like the typical script by committee failure.

I am not going to waste a done of time hear on it. if you saw it, I will gladdy rant about it. Until then, here's Mr. Bale in 1983.

Monday, May 4

Horrible joke? Or lesson they'll take to the apocalypse?

Yes. This is cruel. Do they make kids cry inthe name of entertainment? Yes. Do the kids kick ass? Yes. Yes they do. And the tabasco trick is brilliant.

You can stop watching after the attack unless you understand Japanese.

(via Geekologie)

Wednesday, April 29

The Good Parts

The flu part is the only bad part.

(via baconbaconbacon and others)


It’s Shatner VS Shatners!

It’s the first ShatnerCon with William Shatner as the guest of honor!  But after a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians, a crazy terrorist cult that worships Bruce Campbell, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world.  Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner.

Featuring: Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, Rescue 911 Shatner, Singer Shatner, Shakespearean Shatner, Twilight Zone Shatner, Cartoon Kirk, Esperanto Shatner, Priceline Shatner, SNL Shatner, and – of course – William Shatner!

No costumed con-goer will be spared in their wave of destruction, no redshirt will make it out alive, and not even the Klingons will be able to stand up to a deranged Captain Kirk with a lightsaber.  But these Shatner-clones are about to learn a hard lesson…that the real William Shatner doesn’t take crap from anybody.  Not even himself.

It’s Shatnertastic!

Order here.

(via Topless Robot)

Only matter of time.

Really, I have nothing to say here.

(via Robot 6 via Topless Robot)

Tuesday, April 28

Video game cover art done right

These are from a large collection taken from NeoGraf.  (Thanks to Mr. Little for directing me to it.)  If video game were like Criterion DVDs. 

Saturday, April 25

This Is How The World Ends #10

(Off the suggestion "BBQ sauce" by David)

"I hope you all don't mind but I tried something new."  Fredrick was almost bubbly this evening as he placed the plates of food before us.  It was slow going because he only had the one arm and his prosthetic right leg below the knew was just a touch too short.  "I experimented with the White #16 and Yellow #5 to make a something like mashed potatoes.  I think they came out pretty well.  Not that I can actually remember what potatoes even tasted like."  Fredrick laughed and everyone else politely laughed along with him.  Except me.  I wasn't in the mood to laugh.

Out of the five of us, Fredrick was the best cook and, as always, he managed to make the processed "food" elements that gave us most of our nutrients into something that actually looked like food.  And since it was Friday night, we were actually having our special dinner with real meat.  And, in spite of myself, it smelled delicious.

Jessica looked done at the thin slices.  "Barbecue? You made barbecue sauce?"

Fredrick sat down and tucked his clothe napkin into the front of his shirt.  Something about that felt vulgar to me.  Tacky.  Disrespectful.  "Yep.  Not only that but...." With a flourish, he removed the lid from ceramic dish on the table to reveal a thick brown fluid.

Peter leaned over and stuck the tip of his pinkie in it and stuck it in his mouth to taste.  I restrained the need to wince.  "Gravy!"

"Yes," said Fredrick with obvious pride.  "Yeah, I know that barbecue and gravy don't really go together but I thought it might make the potatoes feel more like potatoes." And with that he took a large spoonful and dripped it unto the mound of white on his plate. 

Looking at the four of them, I could see the anticipation and hunger in their eyes as they readied themselves to dig in.  We rarely stood on any sort of ceremony but this was Friday night dinner.  Fredrick was staring at me with that stupid grin on his face.  In someways, I was glad that he was to cook tonight since I knew the meal would be excellent.  But it irked me the joy he took in it.  Cooking Friday dinner always bothered the rest of us but not Fredrick.

The others awkwardly avoided my gaze which also made me mad.  I suppose it was a no win for them and me.  I looked down at my plate, both ravenous and nauseous.  The meat looked so delicious, lined with crispy fat and red with juices.  My stomach ached at the smell but my head rebelled at the thought.

Fredrick coughed.  I looked up at his questioning but smiling face.  I knew he didn't mean it, but I felt like I was being mocked.  I took a deep breath, knowing my roll.  "We thank you, Fredrick, for preparing tonight's meal," I said in measured tones.

He, in response, said brightly, "And we thank you, Noah, for providing it."  And with that they began eat.

We rationed the food substitutes we had slowly, keeping ourselves alive a long as possible.  We had no idea what we might be waiting for since we hadn't had contact with anyone in months and were isolated.  The last communication we'd had was jumbled and confused.  We could only guess when (or if ever) they'd be able to mount a rescue.  After six months, we'd realized that there was a gap in the nutrients, some type of protein we weren't getting.  So we'd come up with this solution.

I suppose it was an extra special Friday.  When our turn came up, we got to chose what got provided for the meal.  And I, unlike Fredrick, was not ready to give up an arm yet.  So this was our first thigh as my shins had been offered up on my previous turns.  I knew that the extra meat made this a large meal. And all that fat rendered down made the gravy possible.

The pain from the surgery still hurt.  I looked down at the bandages just below my right hip, where my leg had been just 24 hours before.  I refused to take any more painkillers because if I was going to have this meal, I wanted to be able to at least taste it since we had so few pleasures.

I pushed past my disgust and cut a piece of the succulent me.  Spear it with my fork I slowly drew it to my mouth and held it on my tongue.

Survivor/Amazing Race

I haven't watched either for a few years (or at least not attentatively). God bless the internet for allowing me to catch up mid season.

Survivor this season is actually pretty good. The vast majority of choces and moves have been smart. Not always correct, but they have made sense from a game stand point. Often the game gets bogged down in emotion. It's fun to watch people just play. And there have been nice turns and shifts.

One thing I have always enjoyed about Survivor is the editing. Some of it is just silly, yes. The inevitable shots of spiders when people are scheming or of snakes just before someone turns on an alliance... but it works. ("Alliance." Weird to think that in season 1 everyone was SHOCKED when Richard "came up" with the concept of an alliance, Weird.)

There is one character that is just mind blowing. Yes, character. Hard to call him "person." Coach. Soccer coach and symphony conductor. Looks like Aragorn... a skinny creepy new aged self-help Aragorn. Credit to the producers for drawing out the reveal on his craziness. Maybe he revealed it slowly to everyone during filming, but that is hard to believe. Once he starts referring to himself as "warrior," "samurai," and, my favorite, "dragon slayer"... it's hard to take anything he says seriously. Add in his campfire story ofthe time he kayaked the AMazon and was jumped by an indiginous tribe and beaten and escaped. And how he responds to someone saying, "Well, none of us have broken tiles with a slingshot before" with "I have." Lovely lovely madness. He is like Baron Von Munchausen.

I have always enjoyed the Amazing Race. The lack of voting off and it being more of a personal challenge and seeing the teams of two struggle to work together. Also it's mix of ADD travel show/random slapstick is entertaining.

I usually hate when teams talk about "proving" something to the world. "Old people can compete." "Gays are like anyone else." "Blah blah." So I was a bit annoyed with the deaf son/hearing mother team. But, I have to say, when they won the first leg of the race... I cried.

Friday, April 24

For Ben

...because I mentioned it the other night.  Also, for all improvisers looking to expand support work.

Maru & The Box

(via Unique Daily)

This Is How The World Ends #9

(Off the suggestion of "blackboard" from Nicole)

The chalk dust always made her cough.  Well, cough more.  Everyone coughed now.  The filters left the air stale and rife with particles.  The ever present stench of bodies and sweat.  And of course the radiation.  She didn't like to think about what her RAD count was over the last twelve years even though she knew it by heart.  They all did, just as they knew their white blood cell counts and what their last chest x-rays looked like.  But the chalk made it worse.

Silvia finished erasing the blackboard and wiped the yellow dust on her jeans.  Picking out a fresh piece of chalk, she turn back to the classroom and the children's attentive faces.  Thirty boys and girls, ages seven to ten.  This was a lesson she was dreading.

"Okay, class.  I need you all to pay attention and take this seriously.  I know it is an uncomfortable topic.  That's okay.  But it's important and that we don't get distracted by giggles."

She turned back to the board and wrote three letters, large and clear.  S. E. X.  She expected giggling to erupt behind her but there was only silence.

"Sex," Silvia announced towards the class.  There was little recognition from most of them, as if she was speaking a foreign language.  "So, does anyone know what 'sex' means?"

The class shifted uncomfortably and exchanged nervous glances.  The lights flickered and went off, plunging the room into black.  A few second later there was a thump and a hum as the back up generators shifted on.  The lights sputtered back on.  When she had been a child, a moment like that would have frightened her.  Hell, when they first moved into the vaults, it scared her.  But not anymore.  Nor did it frighten the children.  Fear of the dark is the fear of the unknown.  They had always known the dark and took it as a given of daily life.

Timothy, sitting near the front, cautiously raised his hand.  Silvia noticed it was bandaged and assumed that he had lost another finger.  The phrase "ten heathy fingers and tenhealthy toes" flashed through Silvia's mind and she forced it out.

"Yes, Timothy?"

"It's when a man and a woman get naked and touch each other."  There as a small wave of giggling which filled Silvia with joy.  It was a sound she so rarely heard and reassured her.

"Yes and no.  It doesn't have to be a man and a woman.  It can be two women or two men.  And it can be between more than two people." More giggles.  She remembered when there was a time that speaking those words would have started a flood of controversy.  Not any more.  There were too few of them left to care anymore.  And all the arguments for only same sex relationships had disappeared.  It was hard to defend those sort of moral judgments these days.

"We're going to spend the rest of the day talking about sex.  You can ask any thing that you want.  It can be confusing, I know.  But you are all getting older and soon you will begin to want to experiment and experience sex.  I would guess some of you have already begun to experiment."

She noticed a quick exchange of nervous looks between Amber and Benjamin, both aged ten.  She made a mental note to approach both of them privately.  And to notify medical for them to both be checked again.  Just to be safe.

"First, the important thing for you all to know is that your body is your body.  No one has the right to make you do things that you don't want to.  It is your choice.  That is very important.  We can talk about that in more detail later.  But, please, know that if you ever feeling like someone is forcing you, even if only with words, tell me or your parents or a doctor or an enforcer.  Tell an adult, okay? I repeat: your body is your body."  Even if it is rebelling against you and slowly dying.  She thought of her own body and its pains and sores that never seemed to heal.

They nodded, most of them probably not understanding.

"Sex can, if done with people you feel comfortable with and trust, be wonderful and pleasurable.  I am going to tell you about some of the things people can do with each other and ways that might help it be more pleasurable.  But each person is different.  But let's start small."

She turned back to the board and wrote KISSING.

"Kissing isn't sex!" a voice said loudly.  Turning back, she saw that it was Bradley.  "My mommy kisses me before I go to bed.  And I don't think that is sex."

"You're right, Billy.  There are different types of kissing."

Christina's hand was up and waving for attention and Silvia knew exactly what Christina was going to say.  She was only eight, but Christina was smart and her parents, unlike most parents in the vaults, did not go out of their way to protect her from the truths of the world.  Like any eight year old, her knowledge was incomplete and often mixed up, the old world mixing withe new, but Christina had the awkward, if healthy, habit of shattering lies people often hid behind.

Maybe it would be better to lie, to pretend.  It is not like it matters in the long run.  There was no long run anymore.  Who was Christina or Silvia to force people from fantasies that made it easier to go on day to day?  But Silvia was a teacher and believed in truth.  Even now, making informed choices was a human right.

Silvia point towards Christina who looked like she was about to explode.  "Yes?"

Christina cleared her throat.   "Sex is also how you make babies.  But not kissing.  The other thing.  When a man puts his penis in a woman's vagina."  A mixture of giggles and shifting and mumbling.  Still certain words always bring giggling.  But the mumbling was from the other word, the word no one liked to say any more.  This is what Silvia had dreaded.

"Yes.  It is how we used to make babies."

Babies.  The word that had no more meaning since there were none.  Not for seven years.  In this very room was Eve Mendleson, the youngest person in the vault, probably the world.  Her parents had named her in an obscene hope that Eve would not be the last but a new beginning.  Not the choice had already been made.

The vote had been overwhelming.  The facts were clear.  To have more children was just to extend the suffering of the human race.

Silvia looked across the faces and forced herself to smile, living her own lie.  She wanted to cry and hug them.  She missed her own little girl who had died just weeks after they entered the vault.  Her little girl, dying in incredible pain, coughing up blood and the skin pealing from her flesh.  She forced the memories from her mind, forced the tears to not flood from her eyes and smiled at the children.

"But we don't have babies anymore.  Everyone has had surgeries so that no one can have babies ever again.  So people only have sex for comfort and fun and pleasure now."  Silvia knew that wasn't exactly true.  Sex was still used to hurt and to feel sorrow and anger and any of the thousand reasons people have always had sex.  Just not to make life.  "That's why there are no babies."

The children, no matter what they had been told in their short lives knew what this meant.  But they all already knew and had always known.  Just like darkness, it was all around them.  The concrete corridors and rooms were empty of new life and would some day soon be empty of any life.  

Their lives now would be short.  Her job was to help them find what joy they could.

"So," Silvia said as brightly and cheerfully as she could manage, "let's talk about kissing."  And some of the class leaned forward to listen.

Thank You, 30 Rock

Thursday, April 23

Alan Moore reads

(via Topless Robot)

Adam Frucci works his way through The World's Largest Cheeto

Adam is a brave man. The sound is the worst. I can just feel the inside of my mouth getting cut to shreads.

World's Largest Cheeto and the Optimus Maximus from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

This Is How The World Ends #8

(This is more a scenario than a story.  Similar to #1, I suppose.  Actually the more I look at itm the more I see that it is almost exactly the same.  Ah, well.  And, to be honest, my knoweldge of computer science and security is slight.  I really have no idea what I am talking about.)

The most amazing thing about the maker of the ConF virus is how longer term their plan was.  They weren't thinking in terms of weeks or months or even years.  Decades and more.  That is what they planned for.

They saw, back in the first years of the 21st Century, where it was all heading and they started the ground work then.  I don't know if they knew, or even suspected, at the time what ConF would eventually be used for.  I don't even know if when it was finally triggered if it was the original designer or if it had been passed on to their children or whatever.  Moot point, I suppose.

ConF was discovered early and warned about.  In the first five years, much effort went into eradicating it, or at least defend against it.  But in those days, the internet was a wild west, massive and relatively uncontrolled.  Most computer security was based on protecting the individual and only attempting to minimize the impact at large.  There was no way to "inoculate" each individual computer system.

Usually what happened was that there would always be some computers that were infected when the virus triggered.  Once triggered, they did whatever they did (crash systems, steal information, etc.), often forcing the individual system operators to cleanse their computer.  Just like a biological virus, it was only once symptoms appeared that people took action.

And that was ConF's genius.  It took no action.  Every few months it quietly called out to different sources and got new instructions, which was usually just a new date and new address to check for the next set of instructions.  The computer security community would hold its breath on each date, only to exhale with a new sense of dread when nothing grand happened.

Each instructions also tweaked its code, getting past whatever new counter-measure that had been put up.  Between dates, ConF infected a new set of hosts.  New counter-measures would be set up and the cycle would continue.  But each time it infect more new machines than machines it was removed from.  

Most hackers at the time were looking for a quick buck or a quick brutal attack.  The reasoning was to strike before counter-measures could be put up: quickly infect as many computers it could and then go into action before too much defense could be mounted.  A race, a mad sprint. That of course meant there was a limited amount of computers it could infect.  And once it went into action, it often killed its host system.

If a biological virus that kills its host too quickly, disappears.  One that lingers for years, infects many, eventually causing much greater damage.

As time went on, the general populace forgot about ConF.  You can only be warned so many times before you just don't pay attention anymore.  The security community kept monitoring it, kept alert, but as the years went by it just became one of thousands of vague dangers.  And since it never caused damage, it drifted into a minor box on a checklist of every security update and new operating system.

After a few years, there was a subtle change in how ConF was updated.  Instead of each copy getting the same updates and the same tweaks, mutations were being mixed in.  It took quite awhile for anyone to notice.  It was alarming.  Just as you can create a vaccine for a few dozen types of influenza, there is always the chance of mutated form to get through the cracks.

New warning went out.  There was a new minor panic.  But the word had become so used to hundreds of viruses and security warnings that when nothing yet happened, the world quickly forgot again.

What the creator of ConF counted on was our reliance of the internet and its structure.  It was never designed to be a global tool, used by every man, woman and child on the planet.  It grew so quickly and too many systems became dependant on it.  Instead of replacing the internet in whole with something more stable, it was just boosted and repaired over the years.  In bits an pieces it became something new and different, again and again, but never all at once.

And in the gaps ConF evolved and proliferated, silently waiting.

The internet began to be connected to everything in our daily lives.  Not only in our financial and global infrastructure, but on very personal levels.  Our lives became stored on our computers.  And as the internet migrated into phones that we carried with us twenty -four hours a day, we relied on having access to everything all the time.  And as technology progressed, it became simpler and easier and more intuitive.

Until we started getting implants tied directly to our brains.

Although ConF was never mentioned, the fear about security was of course great.  There were warning and reassurances and there would always be people who would never use it and there were always people who wanted to be one of the first.  The temptation of was of course too great and more and more people had the procedure.  Once you witnessed someone with almost perfect recall and who could call forth almost any piece of information with just a thought, it was hard not to desire it for yourself.

From there it was a gradual increase of power and usefulness.  Control was introduced.  Why just call up a recipe when you could (for a small charge) have the skilled hands and taste of the great chefs in the world downloaded into you?  Why send a sexy video to your lover when you can transmit not just the sensation of your touch but also the depth of you actual emotions?  Sure, there were hiccups and abuse.  Just like malicious spam before it, filters were created.

The information being passed was scale that would be inconceivable just ten years earlier.  And hiding in all that ConF existed.  It remained extremely small and simple that it was lost in flood.

As the 21st Century pulled to a close, the human race had truly involved into something new.  We had moved beyond just tool users t a race that could communicate across the globe with a thought.  Our ability to process information and utilize it was seemingly endless.  An era of unimaginable science and philosophy and art had dawned.  If ever there was a golden age of man, it was then.

And then ConF received new instructions.

It is not that every person on Earth was infected.  It was one in ten, but that was enough.  One tenth of the population suddenly became totally controlled by an outside source.  It was as if an invading army, coordinated and with all the skills of trained killers and an infinite rage and passion appeared out of nothing amongst us.  Within the first night, billions were killed at the hands of their family and friends and people on the street.  They were in every part of society, including access to the most closely guarded hardware the and systems the control what the internet had become.  Once the security measure were removed, ConF could infects billions of new people.

And you never knew whose mind had already been infected, waiting for their instructions to kick in.  Sometimes it wasn't total control, and you could see in their eyes they were horrified at what they were doing, trapped in their own bodies.

Still, it couldn't get everywhere.  For whatever reason, some implants were better protected than others.  But many died as they tried to remove their implants by themselves with whatever tools at hand.  Even with the skills of a surgeon, it is difficult to perform a brain operation on oneself with nothing more than a pair of scissors or a hand held laser designed to cut a pot roast.

ConF rules the planet now, the whip that controls three billion slaves.  We are building something, a structure of some sort.  It reaches into the sky, still just a skeleton but slowly taking shape.  I am trapped in this shell, at the mercy of my unknown master, placing nano foam into molds.  Most of the people around me have dead stares but there is a young woman near me who still has live behind her eyes.  We can't speak to each other but we still share any moment we happened to be facing each other.

For over eight decades ConF waited.  And now I wait to see what it impels us to build.  All I can do is wait.