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{Sunday, August 31, 2003}

I have always wanted to be a hussy. The kind of woman who knows what she wants and takes it. The type of woman who exudes confidence, sexual and otherwise. Mae West. I want to be Mae West. She was smart, she was sexy. She would say anything, and she did not apologize. She had style, she had wit and there was no doubt that she was in charge Now I am a bit on the curvy side. I am direct in my communication, and when the hormonal tides are going my way, I can feel pretty damn sexy, but I’m no Mae West. I am a minivan driving, hair scrunchy wearing housewife. Pretty high maintenance this hussy stuff.

But wait, It turns out that hussy originally meant housewife. So I am a hussy, and I have been one for years. June Cleaver, Donna Reed, Carol Brady, hussies one and all. So how was the current meaning derived. Did Ward arrive home one day from his job in advertising (it was always in advertising) to find June in her pearls, her apron and nothing else. God Knows how she was going to get what she wanted from “Mr. Easy Chair” If he ever put his paper down long enough he might have noticed that June was stacked for days. “Put your pipe down Dear, I have something hot for you to suck.” Or maybe she was not just swapping recipes with Lumpy’s mom. Could have been some housewife on housewife action going on there. Donna Reed was a big old hussy too. She must have been putting out something besides empty bottles for the milkman So what do you think was really going on at those Tupperware parties? Given what we all know about Mike Brady, I guess we can all guess why Mrs. Brady kept Alice around.

Well so I can’t be Mae West, I can still be a brazen hussy. I am a housewife, and I have some housework to do. There’s something I need to go polish.

by mews 3:39 PM


by mews 8:49 AM

{Saturday, August 30, 2003}

Left lanes must turn left. The thing is, I knew it was a dream, I knew it, and yet, there I was sitting at this light at 3:00 am with my signal going. My signal was flashing, the light was red and there were no other cars anywhere. No, not just anywhere in sight, but somehow I knew there were no cars anywhere; cars hadn’t been invented yet. Except mine.

Then there was this guy sitting in the car beside me and he had flaming hair but seemed ok with that. He was telling me that I was real but didn’t know I was real. That I would sit here at this fucking light waiting to turn left until I realized that one day I was going to die, and, until that time I was just so much meat. I was just part of the incredible, electrical, ever entertaining self-absorbed, living, breathing cosmic crap show. I thought he was being a bit heavy handed.

Then there was a cow. I have no idea why, but there always seems to be a cow. She walked past me, in front of the car, and looked at me. She didn’t actually say anything but I could tell what she was thinking. She was thinking that she was an undercover agent for the Illuminati and knew, I mean really KNEW what it was all about. I threw a pop can at her.

Finally the light turned green and I took this as a sign. Which, in a manner of speaking I guess it was. Anyhow, I turned left, because, that was of course what the sign told me to do. I turned left and found myself sitting in my living room. Still in my car. I got out, looked around and was sort of disappointed. You see, it was my living room in that I knew I lived there but it was much cooler than my actual living room. There were all of the books that I wished I owned. There was a great entertainment center and fairies hanging from a huge grapevine wreath that hung from the ceiling. Actually that IS a part of my actual living room and I thought it sort of odd that it made it into my dream.

Then the snooze alarm went off and it had been ten minutes.

But then I realized that I had only dreamed the alarm had gone off and remember thinking how fast things seem to go in dreams. So I sat down at my laptop and wrote down my dream, only, while I could type really fast since it was all stream of consciousness and I didn’t have to think about it or get bogged down looking for any of the )(*&^%$#@!-sort of keys but the problem was that I couldn’t read anything I had written. You know how that is in dreams right? So anyhow I knew that my ten minutes would be up soon so I tried to think of how to end the dream, but then…

by Shawn 11:33 PM

{Friday, August 29, 2003}

It was late and I was tired, but my roommate wanted to stay up to see the lunar eclipse at three that morning. He wanted to play another game of Magic, and I wanted to finish my quest in UO. We compromised and decided to watch TV. I was flipping channels. He was reading the TV Guide.

"Hey, flip to channel 83. There's a new show on there."

Emeril was gushing about the virtues of basil. "I'm watching this." I wasn't. "What's it about?"

"It's the story of an uptight librarian who moves from her tiny country home to the big city. When she arrives, she has a zany encounter with the Mayor. He's so impressed with her ability to organize and smitten with her that he gets her appointed as the official city planner. She gets a multi-thousand dollar budget from the US Government and has a five year deadline to solve the city's traffic problems. It's billed as a romantic drama family action comedy." Larry took a deep breath and fixed me with a very serious look.

I arched an eyebrow, "You're kidding, right?" CGI popcorn danced on the screen, leaping into the mouths of teeny-boppers.

Larry pointed at a dense paragraph on page 37. "It's right here, Jon. In black and white."

I have to admit, my curiousity was piqued. "What's it called?"

"Left Lane Must Turn Left."

We didn't watch it that night because Tron was on HBO. Six months later, it won Emmys for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Writing.

Who'd've known?

by jal 9:15 PM

left lane must turn left

by Sharon 6:58 AM

{Thursday, August 28, 2003}

"You will find fingernails in your carpet. They will not be yours."
It was the kind of thing you'd expect to get from a gag fortune cookie, not from a telephone psychic. I called at 6:27pm of last Wednesday. This weekend, while vacuuming my carpet, I did, in fact, find fingernails in it. They could not possibly be mine.
I am a nail-biter. I have been almost as long as I have had teeth. I know that these long, thick fingernails are not mine. They were sucked up into the vacuum and did unfortunate things to its insides. While cleaning it, I extricated and examined them. They were in my carpet. They are not mine.
I've thrown the fingernails away, but I had to call the psychic again. This time I got some lady who told me that I would live happily until I died, and that I would have many children with a wife I had yet to meet. She wasn't the same person. I thanked her kindly, and tried again and got who I wanted.
This time, the message wasn't so cryptic. This time, I knew what it meant immediately.
"Stop calling or your friends will all die."

by MisterNihil 3:25 PM


by MisterNihil 3:06 AM

{Wednesday, August 27, 2003}

“Hey fresh blueberries, you want pancakes?”

“God that sounds good, but they’re awfully heavy.”

“Yeah and for an hour or so you feel like you ate a brick, but then you’re ravenous like instantly”

“I think that is only you.”

“No remember Buddy said something similar; his Pancake Theory of Variable Density.”

“I think that was more about filling up on pancakes, not being hungry an hour after eating pancakes. Yours is more a “Mu Shu Theory of Digestion” Okay maybe theory is too concrete an idea . So you were talking about making me breakfast. Lets stay on target here.”

“Well we could have eggs and bacon, except for the bacon part. And there are only two eggs. How about egg and blueberries?”

“Look why don’t I just have a bowl of cereal.”

“I gave the last of the milk to the kids.”

“Greedy bastards.”

“Waffles? Oh wait you melted the cord on my waffle iron.”

“Just coffee then.”

“Or we could have blueberry pancakes.”

“Real maple syrup?”

“Of course. You know I think that brown corn syrup is almost as big a crime against nature as margarine.”

"Blueberry pancakes yummy. They are kind of heavy though . . .

by mews 8:34 PM

"And the Eggoians?" Todd asked.

"Well, they look like waffles," I said. "I don't know how else to explain it. Their skin's a sort of yellowy brown, and it's got these little indentations all over it like you'd get with a waffle iron. And their ships, they're shaped like toasters."

"Really?" Todd asked. He sounded as incredulous as we'd been.

"Yup. It's weird, and it sure takes some getting used to, but they're really very friendly. The Captain was always trying to get them to join the crew for breakfast."

"But I thought -- you said that one of their ships attacked you."

"Well, yeah, it did. But only because they thought we were smuggling weapons and supplies to thier enemies. They've been at war a long time."


"But we straightened that out pretty quick. Central Command's even thinking about signing a treaty with 'em. Heaven knows, they could use all the help they can get against the An'jemimians."

"The Anja -- who?"

"An'jemimians. They're the Eggoians only enemy. We didn't see much of them, but they sure weren't friendly, I can tell you that much."

"And the Anja...what do they look like?"

"Well, it's hard to say. I only ever saw them up close once. Most of the time, they apparently revert to a kind of, I dunno, liquid form. On their command ship, they spend most of their time in stasis in these weird plastic-like containers."

"Wow...that is weird."

"Yeah, but still, they can be pretty mean when they wanna be. Three of our ships got stuck in An'jemimian space once, and it was all we could do to stop 'em from destroying them."


"Nobody knows. We could never figure that out. Or why they seem to hate the Eggoians so much. Doc says maybe all that time in stasis isn't good for them, maybe they're a little, you know, stir crazy."

"Gee. Well, what about -- ?"

"Hang on, in a minute, kiddo. First things first. Breakfast. Whadya want?"

"Um...just cereal for me, please..."

by Fred 4:14 PM


I had a topic idea, then another idea, than another one. I couldn't decide, so I suppose today's topic is:


by jal 11:28 AM

{Tuesday, August 26, 2003}

when they come for me
i don't fight them
they flap about me
all hands, all hands
and i cannot fend them off
nor do i want to
nor do i know how
when they come for me
i expose my belly
pink and warm
because i do not see
their teeth and eyes
i do not see
perils there being
all hands, all hands
as they are
when they come for me
i give them
my throat
and i like it
as they pull and tear
all hands, all hands
and bruise my skin
all hands, all hands
i never see their eyes.

by Sharon 9:20 PM

"What about a Manosian?" Todd asked. "You ever seen one of them?"

"Once or twice," I told him. "They keep to themselves mostly. It's not like we ever saw their homeworld or anything. But yeah, some of them came aboard the ship."

"Is it true?" he asked. "What they say about them?"

"What do they say about them?"

"That they're all hands."

"Hmm. Well, not quite. Mostly, but they've got eyes and ears just like us and a vestigial mouth."


"Vestigial. It means they don't use it anymore. They used to, but then they evolved."

"But -- how do they eat?"

"Photosynthesis. That's like plants, you know, from the sun? Doc said there's some complicated name for it. All I know is, they loved the ship's arboretum and they're great at climbing trees."

"Don't they talk?"

"Nope. They write everything. Each of them have something like twenty or thirty hands going in all directions, so it's pretty easy for them. It wasn't unusual to see them do eight or nine different things at once."

"Like what?"

"Well, like climbing for one. We met a Denebali freighter captain who'd been to Manos Prime once, and he said it's nothing but forests. The Manosians swing from tree to tree better and faster than monkeys."

Todd giggled.

"And they're always writing something, or fiddling with something else. The Denebali captain said they don't need big crews on their ships like we do. They just need a pilot, a medic, and mechanic, and that's enugh hands for everything."

"Do you -- do you think they'll ever come to Earth?"

"I don't know. Like I said, they keep to themselves mostly. We only ever saw five or six of them in all the time we were out there."

"Wow," said Todd. "Real-life Manosians... What about--"

"I think that's enough questions for one night," I said. "Your mother'll have a fit if I don't get you to bed soon."


"No, kiddo, I mean it. You'll have plenty of time to ask me all the questions you want in the morning. I'm on a three-week leave, so I'm not going anywhere. Go brush your teeth. Maybe tomorrow I'll tell you about the Cerebrians."

"What're they?"

"Big floating brains that tried to take over the ship."


"Yeah. Now, c'mon, it's time for bed."

by Fred 3:15 PM

all hands

by Sharon 12:01 PM

{Monday, August 25, 2003}

Shawn suffers from lack of connectivity and sends us
with his apologies.

by Sharon 1:20 PM

{Sunday, August 24, 2003}

Lot 472: Untapped treasures lurk within this unassuming packaging. Look beyond the plain exterior and too brief service record to recognize what true connoisseurs divine at a glance: Here stands quality. Ably suited to your technical needs, this model specializes in translations, interpretations, metaphors, and spin. Gathering business requirements from your customers? You'll wonder how you ever got by without it.

As if that were not enough, this compact dynamo can be turned to any number of other tasks. Watch it expand into new roles--you will be amazed. Project plans, software design, training modules: There's no limit to its diverse applications. It has even been known to venture into fiction.

Yes, I can see by your anxious faces that you are consumers who demand quality. This, friends, is your opportunity. We will start the bidding at one hundred...

by Sharon 11:59 PM

Writer’s block

2:44 AM, June 22nd, in a the lower Manhattan apartment of one Jon Nelson

Goddamnit, why did I ever tell Luis I’d write this damn ad copy? What can I possibly say about The New Ford Arctic NWR that isn’t absolute bullshit? Wait, actually it’s fine if it’s bullshit, bullshit sells, but they want fresh bullshit. What can I possibly say that hasn’t been said in a thousand ad campaigns already?

The new Arctic: the future of driving, oh god no. Um, It’s a driving experience, yeah, yeah that’s crap. Discover the great outdoors in the comfort of the new Ford Arctic NWR,’ oh man I’m screwed.

Maybe if I just play off of the bullet points, let’s see, what features does this bad boy have going for it? Um ok, Seats 10, wow, wish I had 9 friends to take somewhere; they’d be really impressed. Colors, yeah, lots of colors; individual temperature controls, neat; heated seats; airbags aplenty; power out the whazoo; top of the line stereo; TV/dvd entertainment center comes standard; GPS oh yeah, everything the suburban family needs to see the great outdoors.

Hey, maybe I should get one; it does look pretty impressive. Wonder what they sell for? Oh, here it is, starts at $52,000, good god! That’s not a vehicle, that’s a house. Um, gas mileage, gas mileage, where do they list gas mileage? Oh, here on the back, 17 highway/9 city. Okaaaaaay, we won’t be listing that in the ad copy.

9:47 AM, June 22nd, in the office of Luis Langly of the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency

Gentlemen, as you know I’ve been overseas at our Hong Kong office this week but I’ve asked my man Jon here to throw together some really top notch ideas for the Arctic campaign launch. Jon’s first rate and I just know you’re gonna love his stuff, Jon?

Ah, yeah, well, thanks Luis. * cough * Gentlemen, I decided to take an, um, rather unorthodox approach here and dispense with the standard voice over verbage we usually hear in an SUV commercial. Instead I thought we’d try something fresh and honest. Bear with me here.

The new Ford Arctic NWR: The most environmentally-hostile, unsafe, gas-guzzeling display of ostentatious materialism available. Tell the world you’re too important for a single parking space and so rich that gas mileage means nothing to you. You’re a true, blue American and there’s nothing you can’t and won’t do to preserve your way of life; it’s your God-given right so environment be damned. This over-priced urban assault vehicle will not only command the road on your way to the grocery store or soccer game but in the unlikely event you were ever forced to take in off road, it would look great there as well.

Let’s face it American, it’s not about transportation it’s about conspicuous consumption, it’s about doing what you want, when you want and letting someone else clean up after you. From your politics to religion to the environment to your choice of us vs. them, feel good sound bite media, so why hide it? Wear it with pride, buy the Ford Arctic NWR, it’s your God-given right as an American.

10:27 June 23rd, New York City Employment Office:

Ok, so maybe that was a bit too honest.

by Shawn 8:44 PM

“Artist , writer and pop culture icon, Duncan Francis died today under mysterious circumstances. In the last interview before his death he spoke with our Maria Lincoln about what inspired him.:

ML: “You grew right up here on the coast didn’t you?”

DF: “Oh yeah, but it was a different kind of place fifty years ago. We had a lot of manufacturing down here, it was pretty blue collar in those days. It had not been gentrified yet. A working class family could still afford a house. It had a lot more character.

ML: “You sound nostalgic for those days, almost sentimental. I think some of your fans would be surprised by that”

DF: “Yeah maybe. I used to go to the Northshore Flea Market every weekend with my Grandparents. My Pap had a junk booth, engine parts, reclaimed hardware, fabric remnants, all manner of random things. My folks bought all of our presents at the flea market, I was the youngest of four, and there was not a lot of money. My dad died in the War, and my Mother worked two jobs to feed and clothe us. Not a lot leftover for toys. One Christmas, I remember getting this set of building blocks. I was five at the time, and I really wanted a cap gun, but I got these old wooden blocks. My Pap made them out of loose wood , painted them with half empty cans of paint from his booth, carved my initials into every single one. My Mother sewed a bag for me to keep them in. I was a total brat about it of course, pitched a fit, made my mother cry and earned a licking from my grandma. But the worst was the look in the old man’s eyes; ever see a broken-hearted junk man?

Well those blocks got a lot of use let me tell you. The first Spaceship I ever conceived, I did on the floor of my Grandparents’ kitchen. The first monster I ever imagined destroyed a little wooden village on a rainy Saturday. My brothers and I used the blocks for guns, my sister hosted tea parties with little square sandwiches. So yeah I guess I am sentimental about this place, that time. Simple beauty, the gift of imagination in rough blocks of wood.”

by mews 1:38 PM

writer's block

by Fred 8:31 AM

{Saturday, August 23, 2003}

And here is another one for all you grammarians out there:


by mews 10:22 AM

{Friday, August 22, 2003}

I remember the server rooms. Big, mysterious places of great importance, where you must not touch anything. Always cool, always noisy with a rushing wind sound, always smelling the same smell that evokes rubber and linoleum and data. This is where work happens, in the server room, and don't. Kick out. A plug.

I remember the servers at ANPA, and the big tape backups. I remember the funny sign in fake German, about der blinken lights and kein gefingerpoken. I remember a machine that was taller than I was in our basement, and I remember turning it off one day, just flipping the appealing silver switch on the side, a toggle like the one on an old blender, the kind of switch you don't see anymore. I remember my mother's employee being very angry with me. But he ruined all the wooden chairs by always leaning back in them, straining their joints. I helped my dad glue those chairs back together. I never lean my chair back on two legs.

I remember the server room, back and to the left, in the rented space at the Ben Franklin Technology Center, which Dad named. I remember the yellow write-protect rings, because they fly well. The Ben Franklin Center was an incubator for small businesses, which always made me think of chicken eggs.

I remember getting to sit at a terminal and type--and work--in the server room in the Michael's School building. Dad owned that building, and built an addition.

I've never seen the server room in the new building, renting again. Dad has a parking space next to Mario Andretti now. This makes me smirk.

Now I help a company build the enigmatic inhabitants of those server rooms. Here, they call them server labs, and you have to wave your badge next to a panel to get in, and I don't have access to most of them, and they're carpeted, and they don't smell the same, and the machines don't even remember their Cro Magnon predecessors by which I mark the milestones in my life.

Today I hold in my hands a pulped and battered piece of meat that used to be something fine, and I don't even know how I tripped and stumbled over it to crush it, like an elephant, realizing too late that it has blundered into the midst of the mouse ballet. I sit in a sea of cubicles infested with humanity, and I feel alone. I miss the comforting server rooms, where quantities are known and results are predictable. I want problems I can figure out, through the clever application of entity diagrams and flowcharts. I want interactions that I can draw a box around and nestle into a swim-lane.

Instead I stare at a cursor blinking at me insistently, asking "Abort, retry, fail?"

by Sharon 11:06 PM

It's not my machine!

...It's your DHCP server, you level one moron. grumble, Comcast, mumble

by Faith 5:24 AM

{Thursday, August 21, 2003}

Still looking for volunteers...

by Sharon 5:35 AM

{Wednesday, August 20, 2003}

Fed Ups

by MisterNihil 3:05 AM

{Tuesday, August 19, 2003}

Y'know what Jon's doing today? Jon's

by Sharon 11:23 AM

{Monday, August 18, 2003}

Chip peered over the edge of the well. Maria fidgeted behind him, a safe distance away in the grass. He held a small rock at the ready and rolled it between his finger and thumb. The well fell away quickly into invisible darkness that swallowed the steamy July sun. Chip licked his lips. Maria said, "Don't--" just as Chip released the rock. It promptly disappeared.

Maria stepped forward to listen. Neither child breathed. Still, it fell. "Maybe--" Chip shushed her and turned his ear towards the well, the other ear pointing towards the sky. He strained into the wet silence. He started to wonder if the bottom were too far away to hear. Without leaving his post, he scanned the tall grass amongst the rotten boards they had displaced to uncover the well, looking for another rock, a larger one. He sighed and started to sit up, when-- plink. The pebble hit the water.

Maria had heard it, too. When Chip looked at her wide, frightened eyes, he became annoyed with her, clearing away his own nervousness about the forbidden well. "Jeez, Maria. Help me find a bigger rock." The more she resisted, the bolder he became. What was the point of all that work in uncovering a well if you weren't going to drop stuff down it, he wanted to know. When she suggested it was time for her to go home, Chip became insistent. "It's safe, I'll show you," and he turned and bellowed "Hallo!" down the narrow well.

It echoed back, murky and distorted. But then it didn't diminish. The fetid water, far below, hallowed back at them, louder and louder. Amid the noise, something shifted its weight, splashing in the water. Chip's reflected voice died abruptly. Something with sludgy green handholds began to climb.

by Sharon 3:28 PM


by Faith 12:18 PM

{Saturday, August 16, 2003}

"Summer vacation" continued

Moments and a life time later he stood before, not the last resting place of some long ago king or holy man, but a device. A device of stone, of metals, of glass and of circuitry. Again, he knew just what to do and his hands glided gently over the interface. Stones slid away, ancient mechanisms clicked and whirred to life; the machine, dormant for so long, was alive once again.

A cloud, black and alive with self-awareness and purpose seeped from the device and hovered overhead. Curtis stood still as death watching the oily black thing and somehow knew, perhaps instinctively, as a bird gazing into the eyes of a snake, what was to come. Smokey tendrils reached out to him, enveloped him and within moments he was no more.

As he was remade, molecule by molecule the once-Curtis saw space ships coming to this place thousands of years earlier. He saw the space farers look kindly upon the native people and gift them with knowledge and wisdoms. He saw hundreds of years of peace and bounty for these beautiful savages living in the grace of their benefactors. Then, one day the travelers found it necessary to leave, but, as if knowing their wards would one day be set upon by predators from across the ocean, the travelers left protection. A sentient being, that future man might describe as nanotech, would wait here, in this shrine until such time as the people needed a protector.

The Curtis mind, now but a shadow, could well imagine the rest. Later generations of the people of the ancient Americas forgot the lessons of their visitors and warred among themselves. The memory of this temple faded and so their protector was also lost to them, lost when it was needed the most. The Europeans came to their shores bringing death, disease and corruption. The Protector waited silently, waiting to be found and activated. But was never called upon.

The transformation completed, the Protector glided from the chamber passing through cracked stone walls, a thing of smoke and vengeance. Stopping outside of the towering ziggurat it reformed itself into something not entirely unlike a human shape and paused but a moment to reflect. The Curtis mind held knowledge of the world as it currently was, the Protector mind held the image of the world it was created to protect. The two would need to be reconciled.

by Shawn 5:12 PM

Ziggurat of Doom

Don't say I never did nothin' for ya, Shawn.

by Sharon 12:08 PM

{Friday, August 15, 2003}


"How's this?" — Leopard print minidress with thigh-high red boots.

I sighed in exasperation. "Too retro. Try again." Another armful of thrift and back to the sofa.

"Ta dah!" — Patched bluejeans, second-hand chucks, pink and purple tie-dye tee shirt.

"Woodstock refugee. Try again." Still more clothes, roll the eyes, back to the sofa.

"Check this out." — White high-gloss shoes, white bell-bottom polyester pin-striped slacks, matching white jacket, powder blue shirt with ruffled sleeves, oversized sunglasses, and a lucite cane.

"Perfect, dah-ling. Just perfect."

by jal 9:56 PM


by mews 11:35 AM

{Thursday, August 14, 2003}

The next morning, Curtis woke, far too early, and realized he was quite alone. The guides had, for some reason, quit the base camp during the night leaving him 6 hours from civilization. Well, 4 hours if you count the small village they had passed on the way. He didn’t; civilization included electricity and telephones; the village in question didn’t.

Faced with what would no doubt be a futile attempt to hike back to the hotel he decided instead to explore the pyramid he had come so far to see and hope that his guides would return by nightfall. Had he needed further motivation the sky was growing dark and heavy, the air cool and charged; a storm was coming.

Once inside the thick stone walls he had a feeling both alarming and yet, in an odd way, comforting. He felt the past slipping away as if this place insisted on being forgotten, cut off from the outside word as if through some ancient magic. He had of course heard any number of folk tales concerning curses one might expect for violating such ancient and sacred spaces, and yet, and yet this place clearly had been “violated” countless times before by any number of other tourists. Hadn’t it? After all, his guides had know the way here and the travel agency…wait, no, there hadn’t been a travel agency. How had he heard of this place? He didn’t seem to recall exactly. Someone had told him, someone…someone.

In any case, confident that, had there been any curses or booby traps they had long since found other victims, Curtis ventured deeper inside the cold, silent bastion of an ancient people. Deeper and deeper still, chamber after chamber, time had stopped. An hour, or perhaps a day immersed in these long forgotten halls he realized that it was almost entirely pitch black. How then had he seen his way this far? There had to have been light of some sort. Hadn’t there? He pulled his flashlight from his pack. The beam snapped on, he leaped back. Directly in front of him, inscribed in the wall, was a disc of hieroglyphs some 12 feet in diameter.

Curtis knew instinctively what order to touch the ancient symbols. Clearly he had seen this in a movie at some point. Hadn’t he? He must have. The wall slid away; a burial chamber lay beyond.

To be continued...

by Shawn 2:07 PM


by Fred 1:30 PM

{Wednesday, August 13, 2003}

It's because of the windows.

I'm a writer, as you can see by my file, and I was freelancing. What? No, freelancing. Right. Freelancing in the summer, writing to spec, writing someone else's dreck. It was okay during the winter. But then it came on summer... Why did there have to be windows?

I think you're taking a bit of a liberty there, with that word "gleefully." I would say "doggedly." Maybe "fixedly." "With grim determination," that's a nice one. A little overused, though, if you ask me. What other sorts of determination are there but grim ones? People get these little phrases in their heads and they start to get stuck together like a big compound word, like German has. Have you seen those crazy-long words that German has? Like Fenstermacher... Window-maker...

Well, alright, perhaps I was beating that car gleefully. You can write that down if you want to. That bat and I had gotten into a comfortable rhythm. Me and that slugger were on a City Improvement Project, bound to do some good. Really, I'd say I was just showing my civic pride with a little community beautification.

Noise pollution is a kind of pollution. And don't I know it, living in an apartment complex. Those damn car alarms go off three and four times a night. They start to set each other off. I just wanted to do my bit, make it better for everyone, offer up a Buick sacrifice...

I was fine when the windows were shut. But I was writing, you see. And the air was so sweet. How could I keep the windows shut? But it let in the sound of those car alarms. You can't imagine--

You can imagine? You, too? Well. I knew you'd understand.

Free to go? Delightful. You want to get a bite to eat?

by Sharon 11:59 PM

I danced with faeries in an enchanted glade. I journeyed to a medieval village and presented Batman with a golden sword. I piloted a hovercraft across the barren landscape of the planet Saxet, and road my jet-bike through the Sammamish corridor pursued by the nefarious Psycho. I made tuna fish sandwiches for lunch. I was initiated into a secret society that has mastered time-travel and dimension hopping headquartered in The Boys Bathroom. I took Mean Kitty for a walk in the woods. The eyes of the forest watched us play hide and seek. I defended treasure against the marauding carpet vultures, and discovered werewolves in my living room. I chased Harpies through the Continental Divide, and strolled a garden with dinosaurs. I went swimming with Beauty, and cycling with Pride. I observed the mysterious ways of the Spirit Hunters; I explored with Dora and gave Music a high five. I found Nemo. I became the oldest member of the Teen Titans.

I spent my summer vacation in a city built upon the imagination of my children, in a state of Grace.

by mews 5:02 PM

Curtis hadn’t planned on destroying all life on Earth during the summer break but instead simply intended to fly down to South America for a 5 day, guided tour of ancient ruins and pyramids.

It all started well enough, and, much as one would expect, with margaritas at the hotel, a slightly awkward meeting in the lobby with a guide whose English was a bit sketchy and finally a rather frightful bus ride along narrow, rocky roads that hugged mountain ridges and cliff faces at an uncomfortable height. Clutching his backpack and canteen of potable water Curtis had to admit he was having second thoughts about this whole adventure. The bus ride was a four-hour, white knuckle experience that left him emotionally and physically exhausted and not at all looking forward to the 6-hour trek into the mountain jungle itself. Still, the better part of a day after leaving the comforts of what passed for civilization in this part of the world Curtis was standing in front of an artifact of the ancient world, a stepped pyramid built, some believed, a thousand years before he was born. The trip was worth every bone jarring, mosquito-infested, snake dodging moment.

It was only the next morning, after a nearly sleepless night of camping at the base of the ancient structure, that things began to go wrong on that epic, end-of-the-world sort of scale that is rarely offered up in a single chapter.

To be continued…

by Shawn 3:51 PM

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

by Sharon 7:45 AM

{Tuesday, August 12, 2003}

Still Sweet & Fresh to the Core.
i tried. i gave up.

by MisterNihil 3:26 AM

{Monday, August 11, 2003}

a small metal tin, with a lid

by Sharon 12:19 PM

{Saturday, August 09, 2003}

"Derrick, look at this!" Cynthia Hargrove-Bryce commanded from across the room. She waved a magazine frantically above her head as she rushed towards me, and I instantly knew what was wrong.

"It's my Time Magazine piece, Derrick," she frowned. Frowning was not good for my client, as it would mean another week of Botox before she'd step outside again.

"It's a very nice piece, Ms. Hargrove-Bryce. I got you the cover, just like you wanted."

"Yes, you did," she flipped the magazine closed. "It's a very nice cover," the frown went away, quickly replaced by a furrow. "BUT LOOK AT THIS!" The poor magazine was wrenched open again, to page 32, where more very nice pictures were scattered throughout the seven-page layout.

"Ms. Hargrove-Bryce. It really is a nice article. I pulled some strings at Time, and it's quite flattering. Your comeback is perfectly staged," I began.

"NO!" she yelped. "Look at all these paragraphs. They talk about my family, my career, my floofy puppy. And this!" Cynthia Hargrove-Bryce turned to page 33, pointing out a small highlighted section.

I read, "Tall and slender, with elegant features, Cynthia Harg--"

"YES! Don't you see?" she cried, "Seven and a half pages, minus pictures, and that's all they said about me! This entire article is about other people. All these words, they are not words used to describe me!"

I laughed, "Cynthia--"

"Ms. Hargrove-Bryce," she corrected.

"Ms. Hargrove-Bryce, the entire article can't be spent describing you in extreme detail."

"It can!" she snapped, "And I'm going to find someone else who will do it. You, little mister, are fired."

Finally! I sighed. After all, with ten years of her behind me, I have plenty of words to describe her.

by rocketo 10:46 PM

I am not

A bad audience

by mews 9:14 PM

Words not used to describe me

by Shawn 11:35 AM

{Friday, August 08, 2003}

"That, my friend, is impossible."

by Fred 7:46 AM

{Thursday, August 07, 2003}

"Record" is a really neat word, and I've been turning it over in my head since yesterday. The noun and the verb are homographic (written the same) but not homophonic (sounding the same). We have lots of non-homographic homophones, like blue/blew and there/they're/their--I mean, lots. You see them as typos all the time. But there aren't so many non-homophonic homographs. "Read" and "polish/Polish" come to mind. I wonder how synthesized-speech readers (like, for the blind) deal with these words.

But "record" is cooler yet. A change in inflection distinguishes the noun and verb forms of the same word. And it's legitimate--historically established, at least--unlike so many instances where a noun is pressed into being a verb, like "access" and "loan."

The reason I've been rolling it back and forth across my brain for over 24 hours is that I am trying to think of other words that act like "record." And the fact that this is hard calls out another interesting aspect of the way our language processors work. It's not a two-way module. You can get information in one direction, but you can't stuff the result back in and get the starting point again. It's like a meat grinder, turning steak into hamburger, but falling pretty short when trying to moosh the hamburger back into ribeye. So I can look at the two pronunciations of "record" and think, "Huh. Non-homophonic homographs. And a noun and a verb, with the same root meaning, distinguished by inflection. Interesting," but I can't feed those criteria back in and easily retrieve other examples.

Which is what those damn Mensa puzzles are all about. It's just not natural, I tell you.

by Sharon 11:59 PM


by mews 10:52 AM

{Wednesday, August 06, 2003}

Midge propped her hands on her hips and chewed the inside of her cheek, surveying the pile of boxes and plastic-wrapped furniture. So, they'd arrived. Now it was just a task of turning the place into a home. It had stood empty for two years, and smelled like it.

Late sunlight cut across the living room, sparkling off the lazy dust motes. The front room had grown warm. Midge clicked her tongue and stalked over to a window. She ripped two fingernails when it refused to open. She set her shoulder under the top bar of the window frame and grunted. She ran her fingers over the locks again, verifying that they were not latched. The sun beat on her face as she strained again. She was sweating when she stepped back to evaluate the stubborn window. Her eyes lit on a nail wedged at the bottom of the window, and traced the seal around the perimeter, counting 23 nails in all. Midge shook her head and tromped off to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Just before the heavy, black lightswitch clacked into the "on" position, Midge heard a scuttling in the shadows that made her think of cockroaches. When the feeble bulb, hanging dirty and bare from a ravaged light fixture in the ceiling, cast a brown light over the warped linoleum, the kitchen was empty, and silent, and still. Midge paused on the threshold, scanning the corners and baseboards. Then she crossed to the counter and fished a plastic cup with a scuffed and faded fast food logo out of the crumpled newspaper in a cardboard box.

When she cranked the tap, it coughed, hesitated, and then rallied and vomited brown water into the sink. Midge let it run. Everything in this house required patience. She watched the rust-colored water flow into the drain.

A sound made her turn. The image that had come to her mind was a memory of childhood: a furtive whisper and a hasty hush. Midge could feel her pulse in her throat. The sink sputtered and redoubled its efforts behind her. The faintest shuffle drew her attention to the cellar door, still shut, still dark behind it. Her eyes fixed unwaveringly on the door, she fumbled behind her to turn off the faucet.

The silence grew much louder. Midge held her breath. Hawklike, she homed in on movement at the gap beneath the door. Something was feeling along the bottom edge, testing the air like a serpent tongue. Midge stood frozen, unable to identify the creature. And then it emerged, forcing itself through the two-inch crack: a tiny, precious, skeletal hand. Small, perfect finger bones gripped the bottom of the door, digging into the wood. Midge screamed.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

Quiet Children

When I was young, which, for the purpose of this little rambling, is defined by my pre-father days, I quite disliked the sound of children at play, screaming, crying and carrying on. It was nails on chalkboard; breaking glass; dogs barking or British police sirens if you like. In any case, I didn’t much care for it. A couple of days ago, as Margaret and I were having a quiet conversation, daring a moment alone, my two young house monkeys came charging out of the back of the house, yelling their cute little heads off. Declan, butt naked and brandishing a light saber, was chasing Garrison through the house in an absolute din of yelling, laughing and sound effects. I was reminded of just how precious this chaos is to me.

To any non-parents reading this I’m sure it sounds as though I’ve completely lost it, and, maybe I have. I value peace and solitude; I take comfort in stillness of mind and spirit. And yet, having lived apart for a couple of months I can honestly say that it is a life-affirming sound and one that I greatly missed. You see, puritanical wisdoms aside, children are not meant to be quiet. They are meant to squeal with delight, to scream when they’re excited and cry when they’re hurt or angry. They are reflections of us, not the us we parade out for the comfort of others, but the real us. The unfettered, honest, raw, child-like inner selves that we’ve allowed society to beat out of us with the damning “tsk, tsk, tsk” of the collective librarian we all contribute to on a societal level. We’ve created the apparition of a bitter, old preacher standing behind a pulpit of socially acceptable behavior raising a disapproving eyebrow each time we commit some atrocity such as dancing in public, worshipping outside of the government issued religion, painting our houses a shade too vibrant, wearing our hair too long, or our dresses too short.

So I say fuck it, kids should scream, laugh and cry; they’re not meant to be quiet. They’ll have an entire life time to shunt their emotions, curb their enthusiasm and stifle their laughter. Their natural tendencies will be beat out of them soon enough by societal status quo. Until such time, it’s summer, the weather’s beautiful, there are games to play, forests to explore, castles to build, dinosaurs, aliens, hidden jungles, spaceships, and adventures to be had. I was a quiet child and I regret that now.

by Shawn 11:58 PM

Shaven heads
Hollow eyed
Blank stares
Translucent skin
Thin armed
Grasping fingers
Stolen innocence
Impoverished hearts
Malnourished minds
No laughter
No music
No nursery rhymes
Very Quiet Children

by mews 8:06 PM

very quiet children

by Sharon 12:06 PM

{Tuesday, August 05, 2003}

Addicted to caffeine, me? Nonsense, I can quit anytime I want to but why would I want to? After all I can type 300 words per minute, I can boil a 3 minute egg in 45 seconds, play the 2-minute waltz in 54 seconds, my heart beat is less of a beat and more of a hum, I can take my own photo without a timer, I know Juan Valdez personally and have had more than one South American village named after me, I wear out 6 coffee cups a month and three espresso machines a year, I make my clothes out of empty coffee bags, I often go for days without blinking and believe decaf coffee to be the work of Satan, some mornings to save time I just eat coffee beans and drink scalding hot water, I named my children Machiato and Latte, I can turn off the light and be in bed before the room’s dark, and each year Starbucks sends me Christmas cards.

by Shawn 11:46 PM

“Good afternoon Madame. Welcome to the Bank. Is this your first time here? Oh I see you have met with an analyst, and you have worked out the numbers. You will be making a withdrawal then. You want sixty million? Will you be conducting the transaction yourself, or would you like someone from our helping hands division to assist you? There is an additional handling charge”

“You mean I can get this today, but I have to umm compile it myself or get charged an extra fee?”

“Yes. We eliminate a great deal of administration costs, and you are assured that you are receiving quality for your time investment. In what denomination would you like your millions”?

“Oh I am not religious, just as long as he is healthy”

“ Hmmm, sixty million in one shot lets see I think Terrence can assist you.”

by mews 8:58 PM

I am a committee, and we are very strong and we are very weak. We know what is wrong, and we review the ways to fix it. We are dependant on a foreign substance. We know several ways to obtain it, depending upon our cost-product projections, cash-in-hand and social situation, and we know that we must not. We are strong. We will not give in. The decision is made and our health is deemed worthy of our not obtaining said substance.
As soon as the decision is made, another decision is made behind the closed door of our collective mind. We will feel strong long enough that our spirits will be bolstered, and then we will "find" that we have obtained said substance against our will. "Before we know it" we will be outside, introducing addictive toxins to our system. "Without realizing what we were doing," we will find ourselves enjoying a second dose. "As if in a dream," we will find that our will is broken not by some insidious outside force, but by our own committee members who were, just minutes before, so adamantly against the fueling of our addiction.
We realize that the decision has been made, but we realize it far too late, when, in special session, the measure is pushed through, and we head outside, thinking we "just need fresh air."
One day soon, I will disband the committee and reintroduce the tyranical monarchy of the previous administration, but in the meantime, I'm shaking lightly, and the air is getting thin. I need to go outside, just for some fresh air, just to get a break from work. Just to rediscover the joys of withdrawal.

by MisterNihil 2:17 PM

sweats and stomach cramps.
squeezing each cell
like a ripe zit
to yield the poison
and flush it out
and learn to get by
without it.
counting days,
tick marks proclaim a success.
hands move over old patterns,
well learned and ingrained,
and a gut full of acid,
rumbles hollow.
gears slip
and grip,
a whirr and a click,
finding a new algorithm,
missing a component.
ambling ever onward.
fever dreams
hark back to old times
with sunlight,
making the dawn
more gray.
I wonder how long it will be
until I no longer crave

It's been years and years since this was relevant. Caffeine is a snap, by comparison.

by Sharon 11:03 AM


by Sharon 10:09 AM

{Monday, August 04, 2003}

(Yeah well, probably more than 10 minutes. But then, I can type fast when it's just stream of consciousness)

I only have maybe 10 minutes of juice left in my camcorder and then, then I’m as blind as everyone else, as blind as you. Yeah, you and everyone else.

It was supposed to be some kind of new thermal imaging camera or some damn thing. I dunno, he told me, but it was just so much blah, blah, blah to me. Christ, it all sounded like a bunch of Star Trek tech-talk to me; routing the phase polarity grid through the sensor array-kind of talk. Don’t get me wrong, he was smart, too smart, and that’s what got him killed. Brent Howe, oh sorry, DOCTOR Brent Howe – doctor of what I never quite understood – was determined to prove that there were ghosts. He was convinced that he could video tape ghosts in old mansions and that kind of place where people had died. He hired me to come along and help carry stuff. God damn, what was I thinking? What I was thinking is that he was full of crap and that this would be the easiest $100 bucks I ever made. Yeah, easy.

9 minutes, shit. Ok, ok, so we go to this old mansion and set up all this weird equipment, dig out the food and settle in for a long wait. Just after sun down he flips on the equipment and looks through the camera. He had it patched through to a computer monitor so I could see everything he saw; I didn’t expect to see anything. But of man, we saw, we saw lots.

Ok look, I’m not saying we saw ghosts, I dunno what the hell we saw, but we saw a lot of ‘em. The frickin’ place was packed with, with, “the others”. It was like a big spook party or something. But, they didn’t look like ghosts, not like what you see in movies and such, they looked, they look, like…something else. And they were all looking at us. That was two days ago.

Fuck, one’s coming, wait, I’ll be right back, gotta move.

3 minutes, damn it. Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah, so what ever the doc set up seemed to get their attention all right. Thing is, we could only see them with the camera; to the eye the room was dead empty. Fuck, we ran, we hauled ass out of there as fast as we could and we kept going. Bout an hour later we finally stopped at a truck stop, fueled up and went in for coffee. Doc flipped on the camera to make sure it wasn’t damaged and, and, the place was crawling with the spooks! And not just there, everywhere. Most of em were just sort of gliding around, but one, one was sitting in the booth right behind us, and he, he, he just turned around, reached out a hand-like thing and the doc just keeled into his apple pie.

Two days. I’ve been driving ever since. I use the camera to guide me. These things are everywhere, but there are fewer of them in some places and I use the camera to show me where those places are.

Shit, times up, the battery’s dead.

by Shawn 11:59 PM

Eva was very excited. Her big grown-up cousin , Christine, who always gave the best presents, had sent another just-because package. She opened the box and it was full of gag gifts: fake dog poop, a whoopee cushion (self inflating), plastic vomit, a can of no mints (it had a snake that jumped out when you opened it) black-eye binoculars, and a squirting camera. She couldn’t wait to use them on her baby-sitter mean old Violet.

Well Violet sat right on the cushion, and boy did it fart LOUD. She totally believed the dog poop, but that did not work out so good, cause Thumper got thrown out in the garage, and Eva had to clean up the poopy. Violet figured out that the vomit wasn’t real (it didn’t look real anyway), cause Eva didn’t look sick, and was happy to eat all of her baked beans at lunch. The binoculars got her good, she looked out the window at a Red bird with black wings, and walked around for two hours with black eyes before the mail lady told her about it. She would not open the can of no mints, she knew by then that there were gags all over the house. And mean old Violet said that if Eva filled the camera with water that Eva was going to be in BIG trouble. She didn’t say anything about grape juice though

by mews 8:53 PM

He jumped from one branch to the next. The monkeys pursued. He turned back to look and accidentally made eye contact. This enraged the largest monkey. It shrieked and lept toward him. He dodged to another branch. He asked himself, "Is there Juice in your Camera?"
He clambored down the trunk of the tree. He glanced above him to keep the monkeys in view. Better to know where they were than to know where they were not.
His grandfather told him that, on his death bed. He had lost his mind in the end. His grandfather had called him Jennifer. He knew there was no malice. This was a sympton of the disease that had eaten him from the inside out.
He jumped down from the tree and began running along the ground. He kept low and watched for the monkeys. He knew that he only had a little over two miles to run before he was clear of their territory. Again he asked, "Is there Juice in your Camera?"
His grandfather had asked him that. He said, "Jennifer, Is there Juice in your Camera?" He didn't understand and said so at the time. His grandfather tried to explain. "Go to Africa and piss off a couple of monkeys. It'll make plenty of sense, Jennifer. You go piss off them monkeys and they go chasing you through the trees. You get clear of them monkeys and you'll know if there's juice in that camera. You'll know."
He ran toward the clear. The monkeys gave noble chase. He evaded them several more times and kept always his mind on his goal. He reached the clearing past which the monkeys would not go. He ran another two hundred yards and turned around. The monkeys sat in the trees and threw rocks at him. They squawked like children on a playground.
He cupped his hand to his mouth and screamed, "There Is Juice!" And he knew it was not true.

by MisterNihil 11:57 AM

You gotta believe. You gotta get your butt in gear, and you gotta do what's right, whether it's right or not. You gotta ask yourself, seriously,
Is There Juice In Your Camera?

by MisterNihil 10:32 AM

{Sunday, August 03, 2003}

C'mon in, the water's fine

by Bryan 11:04 AM

I am pleased to say that I work in a field, where, being a geek, or, dork if you prefer, is not only accepted but is indeed a job requirement. That is to say: I make computer games. In most office environments one might take pride in being able to quote Shakespeare, having read War and Peace, owning a copy of Citizen Kane, owning a boat, or a Lexus, knowing the location and proper spelling of Mesopotamia, being up on world events or having season tickets to one of those, whaddayacallem, “baseball” stadium places. In my office it’s with great pride that one quotes Aliens, Princess Bride and Finding Nemo; anyone who has actually read through the Silmarillion is held with great esteem; knowing that Jeffery Hunter was the Captain of the Enterprise in the pilot episode makes you an uber-dork; it’s your collection of action figures, not cars that earn you notoriety; knowing who came from Central City, that boiled leather was better than plate and owning a really good Frisbee driver is what it’s all about.

I realized recently just how sad this all is when I was explaining to my office mates the origin of the Comics Code and realized that I was in-fact doing so with no small amount of pride. “Hello, my name is Shawn and I’m a geek.” Hmm, Geeks and Dorks Anonymous: not a bad idea. Maybe I try to comfort myself by trying to believe that it’s work-related knowledge, or that it’s far more acceptable than in the past. Actually, both are true to some degree. Ok, maybe not to the extent of dorkdom floating around your typical game company, but at least someone who collects comic books, action figures and frequents such things as science fiction cons is no longer viewed as a McCarthy-era communist with a social disease. Go to your typical comic book or game shop and you may even see people who have lives outside of their hobbies and are even able to pass in polite society. Well, mostly.

It’s hereditary too. My 8-year old, who can quote Star Wars, tell you the secret identities of a great many superheroes, loves WarCraft and Balder’s Gate will undoubtedly outshine me. I can only hope that by the time he’s in high school girls are far more impressed by a 23rd level Paladin than in my time.

by Shawn 1:01 AM

{Friday, August 01, 2003}

Gathered together from the cosmic reaches of the universe, the fabled Geek Legion was as unlikely a band of superheroes as one was likely to find. But so, too, had been most every other successful superhero team in the history of spandex-clad champions -- a fact which the mighty Captain Graphic Novel had rarely failed to point out to them. They were the most powerful forces of dorkhood ever assembled:

Johnny Trek, whose Vulcan ears and staunch adherence to the Prime Directive cast fear into the hearts of ne'er-do-wells and convention-goers everywhere;

Captain Graphic Novel, sworn defender of comic book-style vigilantism, whose zap-bam-pow ferocity, well-stocked utility belt, and form-fitting tights were the bane of criminal masterminds the world over;

Lady Mathematica, a stunning beauty and scientific wit, whose ass-kicking calculations and crime-fighting Venn diagrams had proven her to be a prime number to be reckoned with;

The Roleplayer, a veritable jack-of-all-trades and master of disguise, whose true identity was known only to the ancient tribe of Game Masters who had first bestowed upon him the dreaded Twenty-Seven-and-a-Half-Sided Die of Justice;

Dorkian Gray, who would stay perpetually young as his Magic the Gathering card grew steadily older;

and of course, the Wonder Twins, with their space monkey, Geek!

They were the Geek Legion, proud champions of the dorky faith.

by Fred 5:38 PM

Dork/geek, and proud of it

Here Sharon, this is a gimmie

by Shawn 10:47 AM


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