Sunday, December 20, 2009

Live blog of my impressions from Avatar in IMAX 3D... posted 16 or so hours later. SPOILER CODE RED!

This is my live blog of the movie Avatar. I'm here to see it in IMAX 3D in order to fully give this movie a chance (a home court advantage if you will) and I'm live blogging to address the mythos this movie has created around itself as "revolutionary." Also to annoy the people around me.

10:30 pm: 5 minutes before start of Avatar and I've already heard my first racial slur. This movie is going to be awesome! ;D

(Next day note: The person who uttered it sat behind us and was commenting on how upscale the snack bar was as he said, "They even have fresh baked kikes!" This was followed by some awkward stuttering then finally, "I mean they have fresh baked cakes and pies." The slip was accidental, yet hilariously Freudian. Sean's and my muffled laughter displayed how we are at the height of maturity.)

10:38: Disappointed by Alice and Wonderland trailer. Only 2 3d gags? Tim Burton, you owe us more than that.

10:40: IMAX has convinced me to think big

10:43: protagonist's name is sunshine

(Next Day Note: His name is actually Jake Sully, but fuck that, his name is Sunshine.)

10:46: Movie claims that the economy is still bad, Obama to blame?

10:50: see first naked blue cat person, not aroused. James Cameron has failed me.
Sunshine is doing science

10:52: holy shit! The 3d subtitles seem so real!

10:54: we're here for "unobtainium"

(Next day note: Idea for DVD extended edition: After uttering the word "unobtainium," the whole room bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Wiping tears from their eyes, someone says, "What? We already harvest all the "space oil"?)

11:00. Inspirational avatar scene about running reminds me to work out tomorrow

11:01: hey it's the sassy lady from resident evil
colonial scar turtle is sufficiently stereotypical

11:05 I recognize helicopter things from Terminator. Same continuity?

11:08 plants are pretty

11:12: action sequence is so blurry I think I need glasses for my 3d glasses
how did sunshine know that was flammable?

11:17: blue cat lady kills space hyenas, now I'm aroused.

11:22: glowing jelly fish seeds eat sunshine, movie continues anyway
haha sunshine fell, hilarious!
Only took 45 minutes for Native American style whoops, movie shows admirable restraint

11:28: training time! Cue montage and eye of the tiger

11:30. Notice all the racist words wormy business guy is using? That's how you know he's an evil capitalist.

(Next day note: Seriously, this guy all but pulls out a "Free Trade, Malevolence, & You" phrase book and just goes wild. He stops just short of mentioning Manifest Destiny, but the viewer gets the idea. He would be hate worthy if he weren't such an obvious strawman).

11:36: lulz super altruistic scientists and flux vortex
hey movie, final fantasy wants its mountains back

11:43: prediction: sunshine will no longer see this as tree hugger crap, will use failed leaf falling technique to save hot blue lady

11:54: sunshine tames kite dragon, level up

11:56: oh no! Feral hot rod kite dragon!

11:58: prediction: sunshine will ride hot rod kite dragon, Sean predicts the planet will hit an iceburg

12:00 am: colonial scar turtle keeps empty promise for dastardly double agent deeds, threatens world tree, seems really disappointed that he can't shoot it from here

12:05: predictable, obligatory love scene leaves me super aroused

Breakfast metaphorically linked to man's expansionist evil?

12:09: Scene where video is scaled up, enhanced at 1.5 hr in, movie shows incredible restraint!

12:12: damn you evil col. scar turtle

12:14: if only the Native Americans had religious beliefs that were scientifically verifiable as opposed to simply "paganistic savagery", wait still doesn't matter to wormy business guy

12:18: tying knots around traitors wrists is a big deal to the navi

12:22: Cynacism doesn't save me from hating the military during falling action

12:29: the end... Wait no

(Next Day Note: In the Rawson Marshall Thurber Director's cut version, the movie ends with all the fiery death and destruction, Sully's name is still, well, sullied, and Colonial Scar Turtle is victorious.)

12:30: security taking a nap, mutiny goes unpunished sometimes?

(Next Day Note: Why is the person who deliberately left the field claiming, "Screw it, I didn't sign up for this" not only allowed to walk around apparently repercussion free but given a chance to get near the prisoners who are her friends and whose point of view she obviously agrees with?)

Scar turtle a terrible shot... Wait

Segourny Weaver is incredibly understanding of alien life forms considering her past experiences.

12:35: sunshine is going to, unironically, take it to the next level! attacks hot rod kite dragon, called it

12:38: huge displays of ultra man hood always make everything ok

(Next Day Note: especially duplicity that leads to one's father's death and the forced exodus of an entire people)

12:43: sad nature matrix fail... Or is it?

12:44: but they cannot take our freeedooom!

12:51: scar turtle death march

1:02: Aiewa HAS heard you, and has responded at the dramatically appropriate time!

(Next Day Note: You know, after enough of your friends have died.)

1:06: over the top awesome is happening detail later

(Next Day Note: Running along giant bombers chucking grenades into their engine intakes, hammer head rhinos, kite dragons, and giant peacock panthers killing many people and robots, and Col. Scar Turtle jumping from an exploding sky turtle/dreadnought in a robot suit. Destruction porn at it's finest! Eat your heart out Michael Bay. Also, Sunshine does use the leaf falling technique to save himself from falling to his death, so I only half called that one).

1:08: why does the giant robot need a knife?

And that's where my log ends. Spoiler alert: good guys win, white guilt fantasy fully realized, James Cameron is shown to be revolutionary when it comes to hyping a movie. Now I'm not saying the movie is bad or good at least not yet. A fuller review must be left for a soon to come update.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm all over this like White on a Tea Party protest!

I received an (faux) urgent call from my friend Jeff at 10am today. He wanted my opinion as to whether something he had said was racist. It's my belief that phone calls of this nature only occur between Novo Collegians and Alumni. Anyway, Jeff told me the story as follows. He was with his lab advisor when she asked him to go do science to something that desperately needed science done to it. He firmly stated that he was "on it like white on rice." She then (in my mind) gasped and told Jeff that this phrase is racist. Jeff was caught off guard. He disagreed since he had never heard this before but his advisor stuck to her claim. He went on about his business but was still confused by the seemingly non-sequitur social critique of his idiom.

You see, no one wants to be even remotely considered racist, least of all White people. In fact, I think that in the generally clear field of effective racial slurs against Caucasians the only real stand out epithet is "racist." Call a white person a honky, they'll just laugh and think of geese and the foi grois they'll have for dinner later. Call them a racist on the other hand and be prepared for a spit parade of indignation and the names of all their minority friends. Sweeping generalizations are fun aren't they?

Back to the story, this is where Jeff decides it's a good idea to call me, Captain Aryan, to see if I possessed knowledge of this phrase's possible racist connotation. I told him I had no recollection of the phrase "being on, or sticking to something like white on rice" being racially charged in any way. We discussed possible ways the phrase could be utilized to serve a dark and inflammatory purpose but we both came up blank. We thought that the key might lie in the phrase's origin. Maybe "being/ sticking on something like white on rice" was originally used by plantation owners who referred to particularly attractive female house slaves in code as "rice" so as to make secret bawdy jokes in public? I don't know, White people are always up to crazy, secretive, backwards shit. We both had to get back to work, but I told him I'd look into it when I got the chance. I conferred with the internet for about an hour on the history of the phrase in question and really didn't find that much.

It seems no one knows where it's from. I figure that if its origin were steeped in racial controversy or if there was a closer racial connotation it would be easier to find more information on the phrase. For example, the phrase "to call a spade a spade" is thought by many to be a racial slur since spade can be used as a derogatory term for a Black person and I was able to find a bunch of info on its etymology. Other interpretations of the phrase interpret the spade in question as the playing card suit, a shovel, or even a eunuch (a spayed person). Truth be told, the phrase actually came from a Greek play by Menander, which contains the line, "I call a fig a fig, and a spade a spade" where "spade" means something along the lines of bowl or trough or boat. None of those things are Black people. Again, I'm pretty sure that the reason the phrase "to call a spade a spade" has more info on its origin than "stick to something like white on rice" is that the former phrase has a much clearer racial connotation in the current vernacular. Granted, it could be that history is mostly written by upper class, educated White people and therefore the real secret and dastardly meaning has been covered up, but I feel that conspiracy theory is so contrived and banal that we would need Robert Langdon to investigate it.

To play Devil's Advocate: As with meaning in general, a phrase's racial connotations can change over time. As in the case with "to call a spade a spade," it's origin becomes somewhat irrelevant as society as a whole begins to view the phrase in light of "spade's" 20th century racist connotation. If for some reason the ancient Greek word for bowl or trough or boat happened to be "nigger" then clearly we wouldn't use the phrase "to call a nigger a nigger" since the term is now part of a particularly vile heritage and imbued with about as much disgusting hate as 6 letters can contain. Zeitgeist is a bitch huh?

Here's the thing though, the phrase " being on/ sticking to something like white on rice" is not associated popularly with any sort of racial connotation. The only thing it's got going for it in this vein is that "white" is a term for Caucasians, but it's clear that the phrase purely refers to the color since it doesn't say, "a white on rice" and that the popular societal conception for the color of rice is that it is white. Yes, there are other colors of rice and perhaps there is underlying racism in that society views all rice as white and can't see the veritable rainbow of browns and blacks that rice can come in. But, seriously? Anyone trying to glean negative racial connotations from this phrase using that rationale is is just silly and trying too hard. Saying that "sticking to something like white on rice" is racist due to it's lack of rice-color-spectrum-inclusiveness or any other reason I can think of is like saying the phrase is racist because it includes the word "rice," which invokes an Asian racial stereotype. It seems that in order to interpret the phrase as racist, you would have to twist the connotation of the words within the phrase outside of their meanings or purpose within the phrase. The only way for this phrase to become a racist phrase is for people to continue needlessly attaching such negative meaning to it.

Besides, it seems that the phrase was popularized by Ike Turner in the Ike & Tina song Baby Get It On. Personally I'd say that since Ike Turner said the phrase, it's much more sexist the racist anyway.

On a final note, Jeff has decided to say "being on something like a white on rice" from now on and I fully endorse this course of action. If the phrase is going to be interpreted as racist, best to turn it on a group that has the least slurs against them. It's like Affirmative Action for racism. Besides, I'm white and I personally love rice of all colors.


PS: I promise to start blogging again! We all pretty much know this is a lie!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A chance meeting thanks to comics and booze.

First, I promise I haven’t forgotten my poor, overgrown, rust ridden blog. I’ve neglected it because lately I’ve been working on my stand-up. Since I’ve recently been neglecting that, I have a new blog post. Surprise, surprise. I need to find a way to multi-task so that I can work on both becoming a great writer and hilarious stand-up comic at the same time. I’ve got it! I’ll become an alcoholic. Done and done.

While perusing comics, and then later beers, I ran into a very cool indie comic auteur named Chandra Free. She told me about her work and regaled me with an amusing anecdote where she hijacked Zachary Quinto's comic panel at a convention. After she piqued my interest I later went to her website, the one I have linked here, and have to say I am impressed.

Along with a fairly stunning gallery of her works (specific nerd props for the Venture Bros section and the chibi, whiskey swilling Iron-Man), she has posted an 8-page preview of her soon (hopefully) to be published opus The God Machine on her website. The story revolves around a boy named Guy Salvatore, whose name conjures images of trench coats and "good cities gone bad." He is not however a film noir style detective (at least not yet), instead he is a teen who is depressed over the loss of his girlfriend Sith, which I assume is her name and not an indication of which side of the Force she chose. Coinciding with his loss and depression he's been witnessing an increasing number of reality-challenging oddities. Either this means his depression is presenting with psychotic features or something else is going down. Whether it's psychosis or an ethereal realm reaching out to make a connection, Guy is along for the ride whether he likes it or not. I could tell you more about the plot, but you should really just check it out for yourselves.

From what I can tell, TGM is fairly reminiscent in style and tone of seminal goth comics author (though he would likely balk at that description) Jhonen Vasquez, what with its lithe, angular main character and sardonic surrealist trappings. These trappings include a maniacal goth-children's show puppet urging the audience to commit suicide and tiny stream of consciousness 4th wall breaking asides like a dropped tooth brush exclaiming, "I'm free! =)"

That being said I can tell, mostly because Chandra told me, that there is a lot more story going on in TGM than this initial offering displays. Much like if you were to take a sumptuous banquet with myriad foreign delights, hide it behind a curtain, and then tempt a potential dinner guest with a tiny shrimp cocktail. Certainly the joys of consuming shrimp are familiar, if perhaps infrequent, so partaking is a reassurance. Appetite whet, one might begin to wonder what that delicious aroma coming from behind the curtain might be. Apologies to my friends who keep Vedge. Depending on how TGM turns out, which I hope will be well, it its possible that one day we might be referring to Jhonen Vasquez as a proto-Chandra Free.

I highly encourage taking some time and visiting Chandra’s site and preordering The God Machine preview. Even if the goth-style thing isn’t your bag, what’s the worst that could happen? You could support a talented and very nice person? You might discover the super sexy world of indie comics? You could possibly enjoy something in your life? Heaven forbid you should ever do that! We all know that enjoying anything is a sin and you should be ashamed for even entertaining the notion. Sinner.

In other news, I am working on a new short story for the ole’ Textbasedadvent here. It’s a comedic/political satire/horror story set in a not to distant future. I’m pretty excited about it so I’ll give everyone a quick preview:


Riveting, no?

Friday, September 4, 2009

My response to an article concerning a book I haven't read, but might have to now.

Here's an interesting article from Newsweek's website on Lise Eliot's new book: Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can Do About It

As usual my mind fell down the rabbit hole on this one and in an attempt to organize my thoughts I accidentally wrote a new post. I warn you, I make references to articles I don't cite and haven't read in years which I suppose is better than most of wikipedia and cable news. I also use the word "which" a lot. I think my idiosyncrasies are showing. Serves me right for dressing like a hussy. Anyway, on to the tangled mess of my thoughts.

I remember reading an article that found the anterior commissure is somewhat larger in women than men, but that this same difference is also seen in homosexual men when compared to heterosexual men. This article discussed a number of similarities between homosexual men’s and heterosexual women's brains when compared to heterosexual men’s brains. If parents' subconscious gender stereotypes effect how they treat their kids and subsequently effect how their children's brains develop then why would there be cross gender similarities when homosexual men are brought in to the mix? One could make the argument that parents shift how they treat their children in regard to stereotypes if parents suspect their kids might be or know their kids are homosexual. I feel Martha McClintock shoots that theory down with the results of her study concerning how most people begin forming true sexual gender preferences during adrenarche, which doesn’t really occur till around the ages of 7 to 10 and is far past the infancy stage which Eliot seems to argue is the time parents are effecting these changes in their offspring via stereotyped upbringing (for lack of a better term). Also, when similar comparisons of brain structures were made including homosexual women it was found that homosexual women’s brain structures were not similar to heterosexual men, but in fact even more developed in a prototypically heterosexual female fashion. I'm not sure to what degree this information (which is neither properly cited or adequately described, I know, bad poser academic, bad!) deflates Eliot's argument, which isn’t my intention necessarily, but it’s food for thought.

I think an interesting aspect of this kind of research debate is the "give and take" effect it has on how people view gender and sexuality. On one hand, we have the argument that a slew of gender differences are caused by how both parents and society treat and view children from a very young age based off of gender stereotypes, which I think is likely true to a large degree. A part of this argument is that the effects of a stereotyped upbringing include neurological effects, again not hard to believe. However, this argument seems to indirectly detract from other research that finds neurological similarities (some argued to be caused through a stereotyped upbringing) between homosexual men and heterosexual women which use these findings to argue that there is a biological basis for homosexuality (ie it isn’t just some fucking choice... no pun intended, or that society makes someone gay). It seems the results of both studies can be turned over and against the other vice versa, ad infintum. As discussed above, it seems hard to reconcile these findings. We seem to have a situation where research attempting to dispel gender difference myths is butting heads (however accidentally and silently) with research trying to dispel sexuality preference myths. How much do we take from column A versus column B? So Sophie, which kid do we chose?

Perhaps the solution is at once simpler and more complicated: we still don’t know the extents to which nature and nurture effect us all and more research is, as always, required. One possible likelihood is that the myraid of ways nature and nurture combine to twist us into who we all are or will become might be different for each and everyone of us, that there is no exact formula that illustrates how much one effects us versus another, and that the attempts to generalize assumptions and results from studies and to form studies of this nature will always be haunted by specters of the gray area (which is located next to the Phantom Zone). Not that I feel Eliot is trying to assert that stereotyped upbringing is responsible for everything. In fact I think what she’s doing is calling us to reexamine the literature and our own assumptions on gender, and subsequently (at least for me), sexuality preference stereotypes and studies. The assertion that gender differences in behavior and neurological makeup might be more related to parents' unconsciously reinforcing gender stereotypes is certainly compelling, though I still think the true extent of the effect is still unknown.

If anyone knows which articles I’m referring to in the up there in the first paragraph would you be so kind as to pass them my way again. I hate not being able to cite articles I bring up.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mental Detritus: On Human-Centipedes

This year's UK based Film4 Frightfest is showing a film called The Human Centipede: First Sequence, which is about a deranged surgeon with a dream for the future of mankind that entails removing knee caps and connecting people ass to mouth to form a centipede like abomination. I think speak for everyone when I ask, "What...the... fuck?"
Great, now my idea to make to make a horror movie reinterpretation of Hands Across America where people's palms are stitched together (tentatively tittled: Chained Across DOOMerica) just seems derivative. Although, if you mixed the two premises you'd have one hell of a nightmare scenario... I should tell Robit-bot to get Tom Six on the line.

Also, this is yet another reason why Senator Brownback's Anti-Centaur Act is simply a waste of time. If you won't let people make human-animal hybrids through genetics then apparently someone will think of a way to do it through needlework. The future is now Brownback and it is much more horrifying than you can imagine.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Most Finalest Destination

Somewhere out in the aether, there is an island. It exists in the dark places, but you can sometimes catch glimpses of it; down the barrel of a gun, on the lips of an Oncologist, hell, even in the fall of a coconut. It lies in the cracks of the sidewalk, a ravenous maw behind pursed lips. This island does not seem very big; it was designed to be no larger than a thought. On it stands an office, grey building, white accents, no windows, not that oblivion is exactly scenic. There is a nice oak tree out front whose roots dangle into the nothingness like a ponderous child’s toes in a vast boundless sea.
Beyond the unassuming entrance, a vast network of cubicles sprawls for what seems like an impossible length almost comparable to Madonna’s career. That is the benefit of thought-based architecture: small outside, enormous inside, very efficient. The designers should be awarded, thought upper management at the time. When viewed from above though, the cubicles’ placement spells out an infinite number of obscenities, a feature picked up via security cameras a little too late. That’s the problem with thought-based architecture; everyone thinks they’re a comedian. The designers should be flogged, thought upper management.

About 666 kilometers from the door, which is roughly 414 miles for those of us who aren’t communists, is a block of cubicles called “Satan’s Taint,” since that is what they spell when seen from above. In one particular cubicle a being in a large black hooded robe works furiously bent over an elaborate blue print that depicts a stick figure being eviscerated by an out of control merry-go-round. Another being approaches the cubicle’s entrance holding a scythe in one hand and a mug in the other that reads, “Mondays are killer.” This mug contains the darkest of all brews, beans grown on the infernal hellscape of the lower pits, harvested by the damned wretched souls of rapists, pundits, child molesters, and people who talk in the theatre, and worst of all, it isn’t fair trade.
This being is similarly dressed except that his robes are a posh onyx with ebony pinstripes as opposed to a mere worker’s black. “Hey Steve, we need to have a little chat.”

Steve looks up from his most recent murderous machination. “Hey Mr. Reaper! What’s the haps?” he remarks casually.

“Steve…” Mr. Reaper begins grimly, “We need to talk about your recent work.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty wicked huh? I’ve been getting a lot of compliments from the guys over in Accidental Overdoses,” Steve states smugly, leaning back in what he believes is a devil-may-care manner. He notices the faint buzzing of a fly near the dozen pencils he’s already chucked into the ceiling. Steve takes the pencil he’s been twirling in his bony phalanges and deftly nails the fly, making the number of wooden stalactites above him a foreboding baker’s dozen. Steve looks at Mr. Reaper and points at his accomplishment with enthusiasm. “Pretty good, right?”

Mr. Reaper sighs, “Yes, you’re a regular Bullseye.”

“Jesus Fuckin’ Christ Steve! You think I don’t have enough fuckin’ paper work with all the other fuckin’ bug deaths I gotta handle?!” A hooded head pops over the cubicle wall like a goth gopher.

Steve shrugs, “Sorry Harold, just can’t help myself.”

“Hello Harold,” Mr. Reaper raises his mug in greeting.

“Oh, h-hi sir Mr. Reaper s-sir!” Harold’s head disappears as if he had triggered a trap door.

“Back to the matter at hand Steve, the Higher Ups have noticed a rather inefficient pattern in your work” Mr. Reaper pauses to take a sip. A soul-ripping shriek tears through his mind, accompanied by visions of a fanged man eating his own feet. He looks down at the mug, and briefly thinks that a 3 to 1 ratio might be a bit much for this particular blend. Shaking it off he carries on, “Do you by any chance recall a boy by the name ‘Alex Browning’?”

Steve makes a faux effort to search his warzone of a desk. “Alex Browning, Alex Browning…”

“Allow me to refresh your memory: March 2000, Flight 180, was supposed to die in the crash of said flight...” Mr. Reaper trails off. Steve picks up a new pencil and begins to chew on it thoughtfully, the yellow shaft poking through the void at the edge of his hood. “He eventually died of massive cranial trauma because of a falling brick,” Mr. Reaper finishes bluntly.

“Ooohhh yeeeaaahhh! Of course, I remember him. Brown hair, looked like Devon Sawa. He’s the psychic kid who caused me all that trouble back in the day. I was backed up for months trying to catch up,” Steve recalls innocently.

“Mmmhmmm, and do you by chance remember a Ms. Kimberly Corman?”

“Uhh, geez, you’re gonna have to refresh my memory,” Steve sheepishly replies, rubbing the back of his hood.

“A year after Flight 180, scheduled to die in a car accident on Route 23,” Mr. Reaper looks to Steve for a sign of recognition, but Steve just gives an exaggerated, palms-up shrug. “She perished with a Mr. Thomas Burke when they were both sliced to bits in a wood chipper” Mr. Reaper answers with a sharp edge to his voice.

“Hey, two birds with one, um, wood chipper. That’s pretty efficient right?” Steve offers hopefully.

Undeterred, Mr. Reaper continues, “And what about a Ms. Wendy Christensen? Ring any bells?”


“Six years after Flight 180, she was killed in a train crash,” Mr. Reaper cuts Steve off, building a head of steam, “but she was supposed to die in a roller coaster accident!” The coffee capitulates over the rim of his mug briefly into a terror stricken face and releases a tiny, terrifying wail at the sound of Mr. Reaper’s ire.

Steve and Mr. Reaper share a moment looking at the mug.

“Probably shouldn’t be using a 3 to 1 ratio with that blend,” Steve offers.

“Oh I know, but the flavor!” Mr. Reaper takes another sip. Scenes of the civil war in Sierra Leone crash through his mind, and even Mr. Reaper gives a little shiver at the horror.

Remembering himself, Steve puts his hands up in mock defense, “Anyway boss, you can’t really blame me for having the rotten luck of getting assigned so many psychics?”

“Indeed,” the response as hollow as the sockets that Mr. Reaper dearly wished at that moment might contain eyes so that he could roll them. “Finally, Steve, have you seen this?” Mr. Reaper removes his hand from his scythe and it rapidly molders to ash and smoke. He reaches into his robe, and retrieves a file thicker than a Zizek analysis. “Given your recent answers, assume the question is rhetorical,” he sneers.

“That’s the file concerning my work on maintaining list adherence,” Steve announces glowing with pride.

Taken aback, Mr. Reaper places the hand holding the file on his chest. The bulging file floats in mid-air like a bloated corpse in a river. “I’m shocked. You actually know the contents of this folder then?”

Steve cock-surely points at the file, “Within that folder is every gory detail of my greatest work here. Despite each set back, despite each snot-nosed psychic, I engineered bold new ways to catch anyone displaced from their proper order on the list,” he beams resuming his hubristic recline this time putting his feet on his desk and his hands behind his hood for additional effect.

Steve knows the truth though, and behind his proud fa├žade he recalls that day he got Flight 180 thrown in his lap. That he partied like a Bret Easton Ellis nightmare the evening before. That he had vicious-hang-overedly groused in an email to Harold about how boring plane crashes are but detailed how he was gonna try to zazz it up anyway. That he had accidently taken a keyboard nap before hitting send. But most of all he vividly remembers his abject horror when he noticed he had put one of the kids names, Alex Browning in the BCC line.
At that moment he had slowly gazed up at the big warning poster placed in every cubicle that reads,
Accidents create Prophets!
Prophets cut Profits!
-Joan of Arc
-Jesus H. Christ
Make sure your missives don’t
make it to the mortals otherwise
you might miss your mark!

Looking back at his monitor Steve noticed he had already received an email notification that people on his list were still alive. “Maybe they all have super powers no one knew about?” he bargained with himself, “Or maybe they all made deals with the devil to spare them? We’ve had bureaucratic snafus with him before.” He quickly opened the email and who else should be at the top of the list but “Alex ‘Chance’ Browning.” Seriously? This fucker’s middle name is Chance?! How fucking contrived is that?! In that moment Steve hatched a desperate plan to keep his job. He was saving money to fulfill his life long dream and get into a graduate engineering program… that and for his truly prodigious cocaine addiction. Anyway, he was going to bury the whole Flight 180 incident like his head in a fresh snow pile. How was he going to do it? Well, a bump of the ol’ talent powder gave him an idea: he would kill all his marked mortals in such complicated, fantastic ways that the paper work necessary to report the details of his work would in turn cover his tracks. It was an effective plan, and as time passed it seemed that no punishment was forthcoming. In fact, coworkers began remarking on how much they enjoyed reading the file on his work. Problem was that before too long Steve realized the dream so many offfice drones have, he began to really enjoy his job. The sense of control, the challenge, and the power over these, oddly enough, almost always good-looking fools’ lives became another addiction for Steve. So much so that he decided to do it again and again and again.

This and all the killer work of the past 9 years flash through Steve’s mind. Many of his co-workers lavished him with praise for his work, granted many more denounced it as murder porn but what did they know? They were the kind of beings that had to justify liking Grindhouse to themselves through irony, and yet even they got in on the betting over how and in what order Steve’s most recent assignments were gonna die this time. He smiles like the Cheshire Cat who catches the Cheshire Rat. Life, well, existing is good.

“Did you hear me?” Mr. Reaper’s insistence snaps Steve back from his reverie.

“Huh, I’m sorry. I was thinking about Ewoks.”

“I said, “Then you understand why I’m going to have to let you go?” Steve,” Mr. Reaper drops the words like an atomic bomb. The resulting shockwave blows Steve over the back of his chair and both clatter to the floor.

Hopping to his feet faster than you can say, ”Our bad Hiroshima,” Steve responds with the best thing he can think of, “W-what?”

“Surely you realize the magnitude of your transgressions?” Mr. Reaper now wishing his eyeless sockets at least had one eyebrow to lift.

“What transgressions? I was merely doing my job and adhering to the list!”

“No, what you were doing is getting months behind schedule concocting cockamamie schemes to kill attractive mortals for your amusement.”

“Whoa, hey, that’s unfair,” Steve bristling at the implication.

“You deny your ludicrous inefficiency these past 9 years?” Mr. Reaper scoffs again really wishing for that eyebrow.

“No, I deny that my schemes were cockamamie,” Steve rebukes, “but yeah I haven’t been all that inefficient either!”

Mr. Reaper flicks his hand over the sickly bobbing folder and it flops open. “Let’s let the evidence you’re so puffed up over speak for itself,” Mr. Reaper runs a scraggy finger down a page. “Ahh, it says here you dispatched of a Ms. Valerie Lewton by causing a cracked mug containing vodka to both create a trail to her stove and drip into her monitor causing it to violently blow up simultaneously lodging screen shrapnel in her neck and lighting the trail of vodka on fire which caused the stove to ignite in a huge fireball. Then when Ms. Lewton reached up for a dishtowel while lying on her back, she caused a knife holder to topple resulting in her being impaled by a 6-inch butcher’s knife. Finally, her house exploded. If you don’t mind me asking Steve, were you afraid this woman might be Superman in disguise?”

“Look, it doesn’t hurt to be thorough,” Steve defends himself.

A few papers in the folder shift and undulate revealing another page. “Here a Mr. Rory Peters is mentioned. You lead him in the mortal coil shuffle by way of yet another flaming trail. This time a cigarette lit a furrow in the ground full of gasoline, which led back to a van causing it to explode. The explosion somehow launches a crude wire fence an inordinate distance in a perfectly straight line, there by trisecting Mr. Peters. Tell me Steve, is the reason you were rejected from engineering school because you have no idea how physics work?”

Taken aback Steve’s rage builds impotently, “Know hold on just a…”

The pages sluggishly wriggle and rearrange once more and Mr. Reaper cuts in, “Oh, here’s a good one. You culled misses Ashley Freund and Ashlyn Halperin by making their tanning beds increasingly warm, there by causing the room’s temperature to similarly increase, which turned on the AC automatically. The force of the air coming from the vent pushed over a coat stand meaning either this coat stand was terribly built or this AC system has more blow in it than you do. Yes, of course I know. There’s only so many times the “powdered donuts” story can work. Anyway, the stand knocks over a palm tree, which in turn topples a single shelf. The shelf slides from the top of Ms. Freund’s tanning bed, wedging itself in such a way as to span the distance between the two beds and nonsensically lock the ladies into their respective beds. The beds continued to heat, cooking misses Freund and Halperin for an excruciatingly long time before finally bursting into flames. Seriously Steve, if you really wanted to drag their demises out you could have just waited till they got cancer.”

“They could have just as easily electrocuted to death,” Steve pouts arms crossed.

“Steve, I’ll level with you. I’ve been following your work for the last 9 years like the rest of the office. Sometimes your Rube Goldberg-esque solutions for getting the job done have been entertaining, if albeit sophomoric, labored, and laughably devoid of any understanding of physical law. I’ve protected you from the Higher Ups wrath for the last 3 times you’ve had to deal with a ‘psychic.’ Every time I defend you to them they say,” Mr. Reaper puts on a mock husky voice that sounds like a deep, sarcastic death rattle, “Why doesn’t he just give them all heart attacks or brain aneurisms when he screws up?" And every time I tell them it’s to teach those meddling, ‘psychics’ a lesson, when you and I both know that you were contacting these mortals directly.”

“How did you figure it out?” Steve hangs the question like a white rag on a waving stick.

“Please Steve, I’m not a cretin,” pause for effect, “Also, Harold told me.”

“Harold you sonuvabutch!” Steve rushes to his cubicle’s wall.

“Goin’ to get office supplies!” Harold ducks out of his cubicle like a gunshot.

“Regardless, I could help keep up the charade for you as long as your output was at least over mediocre quality and kept office moral up. But your most recent work,” the pages in the file slide sluggishly over to reveal a document with a black skull stamp on it, “is just simply unacceptable. Any hint of creativity, originality, or ingenuity that might have been hidden, deeply hidden, in your previous work is absolutely devoid from this one. You don’t even go to the effort to build any tension over whether your victims will live or die! It’s like you’ve given up the ghost Steve,” Mr. Reaper shakes his head disappointedly, “like you don’t even care enough to really play with the mortals' hopes any more.”

“That’s the last straw!” Steve bellows. “I can take a lot: being called a slacker, not being taken seriously, I can even handle having my work called stupid and pornographic, but I will not stand by and be insulted like this. I don’t care about playing with mortals’ hopes? It’s not like you can do any better! You think I didn’t hear about you and Antonius Block?” Steve begins derisively mincing about in a circle, “Oooh look at me, I’m big scary Death and I’m going to let this Swede challenge me to a chess match!” Steve mocks, “Fucking riveting idea, guy! And let’s not forget that you only reason you probably beat Block was because he told you his strategy when you were disguised as a priest in confessional.”

Mr. Reaper stabs his finger into Steve’s chest, “That game of chess was a stark yet brilliant metaphor for man’s hubris in the face of death's ubiquity while simultaneously coming to grips with the specter of an unfulfilled life and you know it!”

Steve snorts derisively “Whatever, did it have explosions? Did anyone get hit by a bus?”

“Look Steve, I don’t have time for this right now. I’ve been swamped as of late what with the Ted Kennedy, Les Paul, and Michael Jackson accounts. You think it’s easy moving mortals this influential to the Great Beyond? No, but I did my work and still had time to close the Reading Rainbow account,” Mr. Reaper states matter-of-factly.

“See, that’s the problem around here. Everyone’s forgotten how to make death fun, and when you all watch me do it you get jealous. Mortals are always smiling at you, and all Death can do is smile back. In other words, you can’t fire me because I quit!” Steve grabs his few things and his scythe and storms out past Mr. Reaper and marches out of the office.

Harold peaks out from behind a cubicle, “Um, sir, about what you said before. Does that mean Lavar Burton is dead?”

“Shut up, Harrold”

Exiting the office, Steve doesn’t feel angry or sad or betrayed. Actually, he feels better than ever! For the first time in a long time Steve knows that he is truly the master of his own destiny. Maybe he’ll go into business for himself, make death fun again, steal some business from this corrupt monopoly, and maybe even hire some of those hot succubi as interns. As the door of the office closes behind him, Steve is so deeply absorbed in his musings that he doesn't notice the oddity of a crew of trimmers at work on the tree in front of the office. He does vaguely register that the radio in the trimmer's truck is playing Alanis Morrissette's "Ironic" though. As Steve curiously turns in the dirrection of the music he is totally oblivious when a pencil falls out of his pocket. This pencil then rolls into the path of one of the trimmers who happens to be holding a ladder on his shoulder. The trimmer's foot slips on the pencil and while trying to regain balance he accidentally smacks Steve hard in the face with the ladder. The unforeseen blow floors Steve and, somehow, launches his scythe skyward turning end over end in a high arc. Steve watches the culling blade hit its lethal zenith and scrambles to dash out of its kill zone just as one of the other trimmers (who is unaware of Steve’s predicament) finishes cutting through a branch, which comes crashing down pinning Steve to the spot.

Morrissette's dulcet voice wafts tauntingly, "Isn't it ironic?"
Steve's last thought is, "No, not really."
The blade comes down with a vengeance, driving its point home in Steve’s skull.

Back inside the office, Mr. Reaper finishes watching the grisly business and remarks, “You know, that is actually kind of fun.”

His coffee capitulates into a brown ghoulish face over the edge of his mug once more and comments, “I’d still rather watch Ponyo.”

“Quiet you!” and with that Mr. Reaper drinks the last of his dark brew.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

100% more filling!

In honor of the beginning of the New College 09-10 year (and the fact that I write slower than a sloth fucks), here is a piece I wrote February 3rd, 2005. My basic arithmetic tells me that this was written little over 4.5 years ago, which also tells me that I need to drag my basic arithmetic out back and beat it with a sack full of doorknobs for reminding me of this depressing fact. I wrote this piece during my stay in Pei 2nd court in the room upstairs and across from the ice machine and laundry room. I don't remember the room number at the moment, but that's likely because I blocked out of my mind thanks to my showering experiences. Confused? Intrigued? Aroused? Now are you disgusted? Well, read on my friends. Before I copy and paste on, I should mention that a friend of mine printed this short story out and keeps a copy in her purse at all times to cheer her up in case she gets in a bad mood. I hope to write a story that will replace it some day.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

What does "quixotic" mean?(I hate my shower)
Current mood: quixotic

I wasn't listening to music before I saw the Currently: Playing (Music) but then it occurred to me to start listening to iTunes.

I go to New College. My school is a small liberal arts college which is to say a hippy school. Going here is a constant test of how far I can be pushed. Take my shower for instance. To say the average temperature of the shower is 85 degrees is no exaggeration, but it is a bit misleading. The two temperatures the shower switches between are roughly 30 degrees and lava. Also the shower has no pressure. I'm not very educated on the inner workings of plumbing, but I would conclude from my experiences in my shower that the system currently in place consists of a giant tub of water above my shower head. I turn the knob which removes an obstruction in the pipe so that water can flow weakly through the shower head. I only need to turn the knob far enough to move the obstruction in the pipe. It came to my attention some time ago that the knob doesn't actually control the rate or temperature of the water. Those functions are controlled by God who uses the water as a conduit to inform me of how much he/she hates me on a daily basis. "You masturbated to Asian school girls again Ian. Take that! LET THERE BE THIRD DEGREE BURNS!!!"

The worst part is that the shower actually sets me up for the burn. First it will decrease the pressure so I need to huddle closer to the wall and try to bring as much of my body underneath my decreasing water supply. Then the shower will decrease the temperature slowly until I physically revert to my second trimester choice between boy or girl. So the stage is set: I'm huddled and shivering like fresh meat in prison, soap covering my entire body and in my eyes, I lean up slowly to wash the soap off my face, and I think, just for a second, about how I voted for John Kerry. BAM! Pure fucking steam hits me in the face, burning off 3 layers of flesh.

The morals of this story:
I hate my shower.
Masturbating to Asian school girls is as much of a sin in God's eyes as voting for Kerry.
Steam is really hot.

I'm out.

PS:I originally wrote this as a myspace post, which I think means Tom and Rupert Murdoch own a tiny little piece of my soul. Good luck to whom ever has to deal with this demon shower now. Happy new year NCF, the first since 2003 that I will be with out you.

An original post will be up sometime soon. It is about Final Destination and how whichever version of Death is at work in that universe needs to be fired.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Portent, Party, and Pyre.

Last night I dreamt of a raven perched on my headboard, glaring down at me, considering the apparent succulence of my eyes. It spoke of tea leaves burnt in the shape of a goat's head with 6 horns. The bird spread its wings and was immolated. Instead of dying, the flame wreathed harbinger took flight, and soon, eclipsed the moon. As the sky turned crimson, a fell voice issued from the lunar orb and thus spake, “Michael Bay will make a 3rd Transformers movie.”

I awoke with a start, drenched in sweat, clutching my Spider-Man comforter, and was overwhelmed by one thought, “Today I will start a blog.”

In the morning I phone my publicist. “Christy, I’m starting a blog. What do you think?”

“I think that’s a great idea honey. You’re such a fantastic writer,” she replies sweetly.

“Thanks Mom, so do you think we could book a promotional party boat and invite the internet?”

“Never mind, I’ll build a robot to do it for me.”


“I christen thee: Robit-bot!” I exclaim in a very Schaffer the Darklord pose.

My creation, freshly given life, fully boots up and has about 2,500 existential crises at once. “Please, do not use the word ‘christen’ as it implies a Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition” RBB manages to utter while struggling to reconcile the concept of “family values” with popular opposition to gay marriage.

“Oh? What would you prefer?” I ask, my hypothetical sails a little less full.

While simultaneously archiving the collected works of Fanon and every Calvin and Hobbes comic, Robit-bot states, ”Naturally, all Robots are Pastafarians and worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster (this being the most logical of all theological standpoints). So, if you would be so kind, pastafarine me as Robit-bot please?” So I did.

“Robit-bot, you might be wondering why I created you from parts and technology I’ve stolen from Disney’s Imagineering Labs, so I’ll cut to the chase. I’m starting a blog, so I want to invite the entire internet to come to a Booze Cruise in my blog’s honor. I want this party to be a huge, monumentous, bacchanal. A real barn burner.”

“Don’t you mean boat burner?” RBB offers.

“Yeah, yeah,” I’m building a head a steam here and I don’t want to lose momentum, “I want to set the internet on fire with accounts of my blog’s birth. Do you think you can make it happen?”

Robit-bot processes for a moment, “Book a Booze Cruise for your blog that sets the internet on fire? Got it, can do.”


By that night, Robit-bot and I stand on the cement shores of Lake Eola looking at the massive Beer Barge being airlifted into the lake. It is truly an awesome sight to behold, only the swans look on with disapproval, but those birds are impossible to impress. Robit-bot had spent the rest of the day, post birth, organizing the event and found a way to invite the entire internet to take part. I’m not sure how RBB did it but I did hear mention of “free drinks” and “Felicia Day.” Granted, I might know more about the process if I had helped but let’s face it, The Goon isn’t going to read itself.

Right as the guests are scheduled to arrive, RBB and I notice a descending hot air balloon with Cory Doctrow at the helm, the ever punctual Randal Munroe and ride share arranging Craig Newmark in tow. After another 15 minutes or so a low rumbling courses through the ground as a fleet of Aston Martins comes into view. A giant jewel-encrusted, golden yoke attaches the motorized steeds to an, if possible, even more golden and jewel-encrusted chariot. This procession heralds the coming of Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg whom seem to be pre-party tipsy and commiserating over their “mutual break up” stories. Next a Yugo limo shows up reeking of shame and whiskey, and as it stops its rear door opens expelling a beer can tsunami, washing Moot, Lowtax, and Maddox on to the pavement. The trio is nearly crushed as the foot of a giant Fruit Fucker bearing Tycho Holkins, Gabe Krahulik, Scott Kurtz, and Wil Wheaton makes a thunderous, if not unsettlingly phallic, entrance. Seeing Jerry walk down the long, thick juicing ramp I immediately panic, hide behind a nearby swan, and avert my eyes. Whether my actions are out of reverence, fear, or just the blinding glare from his head I cannot say.

Eventually the Drinkin’ Dreadnaught is packed with the Tubes and their denizens and is ready to set sail. As I jauntily stroll up the gang plank, eyes closed, humming the song Icons and Rosaries, a meaty hand shoots out deters my progress. I gaze up into the dull eyes of a rather large bouncer whose stature and demeanor seem to be the products of a steady stream of “supplements” and persistent feelings of inadequacy. I give him my name and he claims I’m not on the list. I assert the unlikelihood of this being the case and he counters more adamantly that my name isn’t on the list. I declare, “Fuck you and your bullshit, lemme see that fucking list” and he, equal parts livid with rage and giddy with power, claims he will get “Brock Lessner” on my ass if I don’t leave now. The threat of a sweaty, latently homosexual, MMA style beat down not withstanding, I realize I have no recourse and begrudgingly trod back down the ramp.

Helpless, I can do little but watch the Rager Raft from dry land. Crestfallen and hankering for a Maudite that I just know is on that Alcohol Ark, I turn to Robit-bot and ask a nagging question, ”Hey Robit-bot, why in the hell am I not on the list?”

“You wanted to be on the list?,” RBB asks incredulously. “I thought you asked me to invite the internet. You’re not part of the internet.”

“I know, that is why...”
“A Google search of your name turns up a Wikipedia entry on the guy who wrote Coyote v. Acme,” RBB interrupts.

“Ok, I get the point.”
“In fact, you don’t turn up once in the 70 pages the Google search produces,” RBB states matter of factly.

“Alright, alright...” I mopingly mumble.

Suddenly a breeze blows past carrying a warm, ethereal scent. It smells like roast unicorn shank with ambrosia sauce, or winning the entire Olympics by yourself, or...or punching Glenn Beck in the mouth! It is nothing less than the olfactory manifestation of Victory. A stout, barrel chested woman steps out of woods that have apparently materialized simply so she can walk out of them. She wears her Valkyrie-style armor like a Tiger wears its stripes: bold, alluring, and lethal. With a stoic visage that would have inspired Wagner to feverishly pen a sequel to the Ring cycle, she raises a mighty bow with a flaming arrow already nocked. She draws the string taut, aims for the stars, and soundlessly lets the arrow sail through the night’s sky. Her aim true, this anachronistic force of nature hits her mark and the internet Liquor Launch becomes a pyre. Satisfied with a job well done, she strides over to Robit-bot, who slips her a $20. Then as quickly as she came this fairy-tale mercenary disappears, forest and all.

Breaking myself from one “what the fuck” spectacle to another, I watch dumbfounded as the passengers of the Tankered Tanker flee the ship by either diving off haphazardly and swimming for the color-changing fountain nearby or peddling for dear life in swan shaped paddle boats. Synapses grasping at straws I turn to RBB and ask, “Why did you hire a Norse myth to come set fire to a boat full of drunk internet celebrities as a means of promoting my blog?”

“Promoting? When you said you were starting a blog I assumed you wanted this event to be an epic, viking-style funeral for your dignity” Robit-bot replies with surprise.

“Then why would I want to invite hundreds of the internet elite and supply them with an open bar?”

“Eliminate the competition and bait the trap with something that makes your quarry extra flamable? I don’t know," RBB notices my sidelong death glare,"Whoa, hey, you're the sick bastard here. The idea to ‘set the internet on fire' was yours, not mine."

I face palm harder than a sane person when Sarah Palin opens her mouth. Then, with horror, it dawns on me. “Robit-bot, how did we pay for this?”
“I hacked into Rupert Murdoch’s bank accounts,” RBB replies.
“Oh, well, good work then. We should leave.”

*No one from the internet was hurt for reals. Oh, except for that bouncer, he died… that jerk.