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Monday, April 27, 2009

Bad News

I just learned today that our last remaining dog, Amber, has intestinal cancer and should be put down by the end of the week.

Naturally, this has pretty much wrecked me, and the rest of the week is shot to hell.

Because of this, I'm putting Curse/Or on hiatus. It's hard to write a story where the protagonist is a cancer mage when a loved one dies of the damned disease.

So I'll get back to it... when I feel like it, quite frankly.

That said, if I ever do finish the book and get it published, I'm going to donate a percentage of the proceeds to the National Cancer Foundation. I was planning on announcing this anyway (just seems like the karmically right thing to do after all) and now seems a good time.

Pink

In honor of everyone's favorite LOLcatgirl assassin, I give you:


A Real Hello Kitty Rifle
(Real rifle, not really licensed -- I don't think Sanrio would be cool with that)





The above rifle altered to become "Hell Kitten" to avoid a lawsuit over trademark infringement









And now, just because I'm cruel, a reminder that things can so easily go from bad to worse:


Quoting from Hello Kitty Hell:

This is another one of the ever present dangers of living in Hello Kitty Hell among the fanatics - no matter how bizarre or wrong something is, they can only see “cute” when Hello Kitty is placed on it. I’m just thankful that there are no more movies coming out because she would likely make a costume like that and attend…

The moral of this story?

Cuteness is a tangible force, and it must be respected and feared.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Shakey

Actually, it's a belated birthday; Shakespeare's 445th birthday was in fact April 23rd.

But then, as I have said before, I am a slack-ass.

At any rate, enjoy.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Curse/Or: Ignition

I apologize for how late this is, and how erratic I've been with updating. Writing an action sequence with magic is harder than I thought. Just because I can visualize it perfectly doesn't mean it makes sense to the reader...



"LOL," announced the girl. "ENDCAT HAZ ENDED JOO." She pivoted smoothly to her left, humming tunelessly as she took careful aim at the still-stunned Esther's head.

"You...!" gasped Yarrow. He was on the floor next to Esther, his hands clawing at the clutter of the broken dishes around him in a feeble attempt to end his disorientation. The girl brightened visibly at this, squatting by his head to regard him curiously. Her grin was feral, slender body quivering with predatory glee.

"YA ME RLY." She wasn't shouting, but every word that came from her mouth seemed to be at full volume. She poked him in the cheek with the muzzle of her hot pink weapon. The action was careless, whimsical, like a child poking a strange object with a stick. "WAT U WANT? U CAN HAZ LAST WISH."

Teresa's body spasmed, as if being given CPR through repeated, vicious kicks to the chest. Nicotine coursed through her bloodstream, the adrenaline substitute jumpstarting her body with the fierceness of a habit that would not, could not, be denied. The roaring darkness receded from the edge of her vision, the Cancer magic claiming another life in exchange for sparing hers.

(On the other side of the restaurant, a short-order cook who had been smoking all his adult life coughed twice, clutched his chest, and died as the burgeoning tumor within his lungs increased a thousandfold in volume before metastasizing and devouring his heart. He was thirty-two. )

She felt like she had just walked up thirty flights of stairs. There was a concrete block on her chest, and each breath was agony. Her arms were wooden, her fingers lifeless cigarettes. Ash was in her mouth and the taste of burnt filters filled her nostrils. Her eyes ached with the yellow-brown stain of nicotine.

The girl's back was to Teresa, crouched beside Yarrow's head. Next to him, Esther moaned. The child assassin casually drew a second pistol from her bag and aimed it at the older woman, her back arched in anticipation of the kill. Her butt wriggled back and forth, as if she possessed an invisible tail and it was twitching from side to side.

Tommy would be about his age, Teresa realized. Another dumb kid, another mother's precious son, another stupid, senseless death…

The rage returned. In that moment, Teresa was gone, consumed by all the anger and the guilt and the rage of the past two decades. Her sickness was forgotten, burnt away by the rush of emotion. What remained was something pure, primal in its direction and purpose.

"Bitch," spat The Camel, "I will fucking smoke your ass." She sparked the lighter through the denim of her jeans pocket, pouring all her emotion into its ignition, half expecting she herself would catch and burn.

The girl shimmered slightly, a heat haze wreathing her in an infernal halo, and then the restaurant became God's own ashtray as he ground out Satan's flaming ass on the dining room floor. The hot, sharp smell of scorched plastic stung the eyes and seared the lungs, and then the girl was screaming the high, shrill note of a cat with a burning ember tied to its tail as every hair, every piece of plastic and every scrap of clothing on her body smoldered and threatened to combust.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Curse/Or: Endcat

"U DIEZ NAO KTHXBAI."

The gun made a soft mewing sound as it fired. Pain blossomed inside Teresa's chest, twice, and then she was falling face-first onto the carpet, oblivion thundering upon her like an oncoming train.

"LOL," announced the girl. "ENDCAT HAZ ENDED JOO."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Curse/Or: Fear the ROFFLE

Chapter 3: Lulz is the Law, Lulz under LOL*


It wasn't until much later that Teresa learned the exploding cat was actually a plush toy with a stun grenade stuffed inside. Off-balance and taken utterly by surprise, the force of the flash-bang knocked her over, right side striking the edge of the table with enough force to make her wince.

As she fell, the serrated pain of a cracked rib tearing her inward from bone to lung to tumor, she knew -- with an animal certainty which bypassed all thought -- that everyone in the dining room had seen the flash and heard the bang. They had shared the experience. They were all interconnected with her.

They had all been breathing her air, just like the inmates at Frontera.

The magic flared within her at the speed of instinct, burning from her tumor outward through the searing pain in her side, spreading her blindness and deafness and disorientation across a network of arcane second-hand smoke and into the two dozen customers and waitstaff.

As one, the entire population of the restaurant coughed wetly. Their lifetime chances of contracting cancer increased by a statistically significant percentage.

And then Teresa could act again, shoulder-rolling as she hit the floor, coming up into a kind of half-crouch. She could see the girl crouched beneath the table, wiping her mouth with the left sleeve of a bright pink cardigan, right hand buried inside a matching vinyl purse-slash-tote bag. Their eyes met.

The girl looked to be about 12 years old, but the eyes that looked back at Teresa weren't those of a child. They were hard and deep and dark, as black as her glossy Asian hair, a gaze made of obsidian knives. They were the sockets that remained after her innocence had been scooped out with a melon baller.

They were the same eyes Teresa had seen in the mirror every day for the past twenty years.

"OH HAI THAR," the girl exclaimed, and pulled a pistol from her bag. It was the exact same shade of obnoxious pink as her purse, except in anodized aluminum, and the kitty face etched along its extended barrel matched the picture on the girl's dress. She cocked her head to the side and smiled brightly, waving cheerfully with her left hand as
the laser spot underneath the gun barrel traced a hot pink line to Teresa's heart.

"U DIEZ NAO KTHXBAI."


To Be Continued....





*This phrase is courtesy of the Verwirrung blog and is used with the permission of Episkopos Cain.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter Gift for Salem

A special present for Salem, who reveres Doctor Who with near-religious fervor:



1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " 8Then they remembered his words.




9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. -- Luke 24, 1-12

More pictures can be found here.



And now for something completely similar: Entry #24.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Updates on the latest WotC dick move

Geek Related has finally weighed in here. It's weird that I managed to scoop him.

More discussion, as well as a chillingly plausible insight into why WotC is doing this, can be found here.

The current topic of discussion among we grognards is now "Will WotC be stupid and try to cut out Amazon as well?" If they do, then mark my words: They cut their own throats in the same action.
I wouldn't wager on a brick-and-mortar distribution in even the best of economies, let alone in a recession which has companies failing left and right.

Of course, some folks this is a preliminary move towards using a DRM-based document out of WotC's servers. Given Wizards' abysmal track record for online initiatives, I find this highly plausible and equally doomed to failure.

In conclusion: Play Pathfinder.

WOTC Doesn't Want Your Filthy Pirate Money

WotC aims at pirates, succeeds only in shooting their foot instead:
Wizards of the Coast has notified us that we may no longer sell or distribute their PDF products. Accordingly, after April 6 at 11:59 PM Pacific time, Wizards of the Coast PDFs will no longer be available for purchase on paizo.com; after noon on April 7, you will no longer be able to download Wizards of the Coast PDFs that you have already purchased, so please make sure you have downloaded all purchased PDFs by that time.
The fact that WotC/Hasbro is acting to prevent the legal sale of watermarked PDFs in an attempt to combat piracy is so stupid that my italics key just broke.

I mean, they're not just halting sales from licensed retailers, they're ceasing the publication of PDFs altogether:
Unfortunately, due to recent findings of illegal copying and online distribution (piracy) of our products, Wizards of the Coast has decided to cease the sales of online PDFs. We are exploring other options for digitial distribution of our content and as soon as we have any more information I'll get it to you.
Hey Wizards, you wanted to attract the WoW crowd. Well guess what? You found them. What, you didn't think that the Wired Generation would find a way to torrent your stuff?

And now you're removing the ability to purchase your books through e-commerce (retailers of hardcopy like Amazon aside, of course). You're really gambling on this brick-and-mortar thing, aren't you? Just like you gambled on attracting more new players to 4e than those you alienated? Yes, that worked out so well for you...


Analogy time, just to drive home how dumb this is: It's like the MPAA saying "In an effort to prevent piracy of our motion pictures, we are ceasing publication of DVDs. If you want to see our movies, you have to go to theaters."


If you ever needed proof that 4th Edition was a financial failure, here it is. They're losing money, so they blame it on piracy, and then cut themselves out of half the market. If it's not a failure already, it will be soon. Mark my words.


To read more about it, go see NiTessine's blog. I can't wait to see what Geek Related has to say about this, either.


Monday, April 6, 2009

How to Improve "Watchmen"

First, let it be said that I genuinely liked the movie. I'm not a rabid fangirl that howls for blood when something is changed in adaptation from page to screen -- in fact, I think the movie ending made far more sense than the book -- but I sincerely wanted it to eat The Dark Knight's lunch and instead all we got was an okay-to-good superhero movie with some political overtones.

But what's done is done, and we can't change things like getting a better actress to play Silk Spectre. However, I feel the movie can be improved by cutting out certain things. I may be late to this party, but I've given it some thought, and I think all of these could be easily done before the movie goes to DVD.


1) Reduce the length of the fight in the Comedian's apartment.
Ok, look, the comic book takes all of seven panels to kill the Comedian -- ten if you count watching him fall to his death. I realize that this the opening of the movie and you want to hook the audience, and I like a good fight sequence as much as anyone, but MY GOD it dragged on. After a while it just became senseless brutality in the name of "coolness".

Look at how the trailer below depicts the murder. That's actually about what the comic shows. Its run time is about 20 seconds. Now I recognize that's far too short for a key scene in the movie, but erring on the side of brevity is always good for a movie that 2.5 hours long.



2) Tone down/delete the "relevant" music
There was exactly ONE piece of music (set, as opposed to background) that I liked, and it was "All Along the Watchtower" because its tone and volume seemed to mesh perfectly with the scene. Everything else didn't:
  • "Sound of Silence" during the Comedian's funeral? Too damn loud, ironically enough, and it distracted from the solemnity of the scene. An instrumental piece would have worked much better here.
  • Likewise the "Ride of the Valkyries" bit. I'm sorry, I adore Wagner, but ever since Apocalypse Now that piece has become associated with Vietnam in an ironic, post-modern sense and it only undercuts the seriousness of the scene.
  • The obligatory "OMG WE'RE IN THE 80s LETS PLAY 80s MUSIC TO SHOW WE'RE IN THE 80s". OK, I will admit that "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was clever, even if horribly forced, but "99 Luftbaloons"? Really?
  • And then there's that rendition of "Hallelujah"... I guess I'll just declare myself a heretic now by saying I hate, Hate, HATE Leonard Cohen's version of it. Speaking of which...

3) For the love of God, cut the sex scene
I am not a prude. Anyone who has talked to me knows I like sex. I like looking at it, and I like talking about it. But this scene.... it goes on for too long and (worst) is not sexy. Malin Ackerman getting pistoned, whee. A porn actress would have actually worked better here, because they at least sound like they're getting off on the rote mechanics of the act. This sequence took five very
slender panels in the comic to depict, and the movie would do well to emulate that. And where the hell was Holiday's "You're My Thrill" in all of this?


4) Cut Nite-Owl's "NOOOOOOO!"
Because it wasn't cool when Vader did it, either. I'd prefer his presence in the doorway be completely excised, but if that's too hard to do, just removing the vocal track and having him slump silently to his knees will work.


5) This space intentionally left blank because I know I left something out. Also, Law of Fives.



There you go. Just some cutting, and you've raised "Watchmen" from a B-minus to a B-plus, at the very least.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nathan Tamayo

This post is actually two days late, but that's because I'm a slackass artist who lives inside her head far too much to be healthy. Anyway...

Friday was the birthday of Nathan Tamayo, my #1 Fan. He started out as an Internet Stalker (but only in the best of ways, I assure you), posting tons of comments on my blog. Some time later, we got to talking, and he graduated to Internet Boyfriend status (i.e., that guy who I can get to do things for me by batting my eyelashes and asking sweetly). Eventually, we learned enough about each other that we developed a kind of rapport, and he started calling me "jei-jei", which is Mandarin for "big sister."

Obviously, the boy is smitten with me.

Clearly, he's not right in the head. :)

But that's okay, because most of my best friends are crazy, too.

Recently, Nathan celebrated his 25th birthday (Go, Quarter-Century Boy!) and he did something very sweet: he gave a book to those of us who made a difference in his life, thanking us and explaining why we're special to him. With his permission, I'm going to quote some relevant passages from his book, Superheroes, or: You Know the Old Saying.


From the introduction:
I don't know how to thank you all so much for keeping me up and helping me out, so I thought something like this would be a fun way to do it. I hope you enjoy it, at least a little bit.

The following pages are a testament to your abilities, weaknesses, and your friendship. Few people made it into these pages, and I want to let you know ahead of time that while some of you come later, some of you have less space, and some of you are not in it at all, but you all important.

If you are holding a copy of this book in your hands: I could not have survived without all of you.

Thank you.



From my entry at the back of the book:

NAME: Erin Palette
ALIAS: Jei-jei
POWER: Write. Lord, can she write.
DEFECT: Chaotic Neutral
SOUL OF: Eric, Goddes of Discord

Ah, jei-jei. The older sister I enver wanted or asked for, but got anyway. I found you through your writing and it still inspires me to this day. You're always looking for more and more readers, but I just want you to read the following:

I want to become a writer not just because I want to be like Joss Whedon, but also because, like him, I want to touch lives. If I can just touch one life, change one heart, open one pair of eyes, I will feel successful as a writer.

You've touched my life with your writing.

So, in my eyes, you are a success. I'm sorry it won't pay your bills, but I hope it means something to you.

With that said, you're chaotic. I never know what to expect of you, and that's why I have chosen your Soul to be that of Eris. Sometimes I think you do and say things just to see my reaction.

Thanks for the apple.

Now some of you may think it the height of crassness for me to post my own laudation in this blog (and you're probably right), but I didn't do it to stroke my ego. I did it because Nathan made me a wonderful, special gift, and I wanted to make sure as many people as possible can see it. This is the equivalent of me going, "Hey everyone! Let me show you what I got!"

What makes this gift extra-special -- like it needed a reason -- is that I've never told him, or anyone else on this blog, but I always wanted to be a superhero. I always wanted to touch lives, and save them, but I couldn't figure out a way to do that within my span of limited abilities, so I became a writer instead.

And here he goes and says that I'm a superhero because of my writing, that it touched his life and saved him. That is the most wonderful and perfect gift I've ever received, and I don't think anything will ever top that.

I'm crying now, Nathan, but they're tears of joy. I'm crying big-sister tears. Thank you so much for being my little brother.

Now I'm going to leave you with two words of wisdom, one from me and one from Eris.


From Eris:

THE PARABLE OF THE BITTER TEA

by Rev. Dr. Hypocrates Magoun, P.P.
POEE PRIEST, Okinawa Cabal

When Hypoc was through meditating with St. Gulik, he went there into the kitchen where he busied himself with preparing the feast and in his endeavor, he found that there was some old tea in a pan left standing from the night before, when he had in his weakness forgot about its making and had let it sit steeping for 24 hours. It was dark and murky and it was Hypoc's intention to use this old tea by diluting it with water. And again in his weakness, chose without further consideration and plunged into the physical labor of the preparations. It was then when deeply immersed in the pleasure of that trip, he had a sudden loud clear voice in his head saying "it is bitter tea that involves you so." Hypoc heard the voice, but the struggle inside intensified, and the pattern, previously established with the physical laboring and the muscle messages coordinated and unified or perhaps coded, continued to exert their influence and Hypoc succumbed to the pressure and he denied the voice.

And again he plunged into the physical orgy and completed the task, and Lo as the voice had predicted, the tea was bitter.


From Erin:
The hardest part of growing up is learning to get over yourself and get out of your own way. Once you've done that, you can do anything.


Happy Birthday, di-di. *HUGS*

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

::Cyberspace As Glassbead Game::

::Cyberspace As Glassbead Game::

Gibson captured the flash, nearly a half century earlier, Hesse
started design of the depths.

The "Magister Ludi" says little of the actual mechanics of the
game. It does provide a sketch of a symbolic structure which can
link "semi-formal systems" (eg. musical notes, alegebra, pidgen
(primitive) English sets ....). Since his time, we have
explored a board that can begin this task. We call it "the
computer".

It allows masses of people to experiment with various "glass bead
relationships".

Hesses work has other elements of usefullness. The bulk of the
bulk is devoted to analysis of bureaucratic knowlege structures
of an essentially monkish format in a mercantile society. He
succeeds in capturing many elements in traditional systems and
their wearing on the individual pyche.

Hesses earlier work focuses more attention on the pyche. As his
archetype "low tundra lobo" starts to interface with some
Gibsonian primal circuitry.

In looking at systems, a common perceptual trend is to see an
imperfect "holistic vision" and then focus on detail which often
grabs all of our attention.

It sometimes helps to look at the wisdom of our ancestors. In
the first false dawn of cyberspace (of which surrealism is an
example), Hesse layed out a 3 level sketch.

3. The "upper level" is a set of books which chronicle
environment against skull combined with journeys to the east.
Water against stone in the Paz-ia (Octavio) icongraphy.


2. Far more sketchy. The model of a society. It takes detail
only in the glassbead monument. Interesting enough his model of
intellect creates two academic schools. One is Catholic, the
other secular. This provides to the debate on "The Magic
Mountain" (Manns not neumann).

1. A few of the mechanics at the "architecturial level". The
ability of a lectures on systems theory to employ improv tea
ceremonies. The ability of aspiring players to tag new pieces
onto the original parts.

There is one more system. This is a "meta system".

0. You, the primal "neuron", the "free human" who can examine
the Hesseian structure and modify it while adding custom
extensions. The following is one of many possible "negative"
(flip to new set) developments. Note the reversal of "."

.1 One striking thing about the "German pair" (Hesse-mann) is its
"patriarchial" structure. The "model" appears to stress males
(in different ways). "Neo-Neutopian" thought would strive to
enact the "feminine side".

.2 One can go into many possible levels from 0.1, but a
Jungian approach would have some men give voice to "anima" while
some women give vent to "animo" and perhaps vice versa. One can
strive to lay a "coed" onto the Anglo-German forms which act as
"primal paradigm-ia" of the Neu-America (el norte) university
system. Internet is the place where we introduce and mantain
this "bureaucratic viri".

One sees the truth of the fundamental Gibsonian approach of
conflict with the medium. Gibson is also correct in recognizing
that institutions control the "backbone(s)", but he draws the
wrong conclusions. Institutions have raw power, but only
rudimentary technique. Smaller users may benefit from some
techniques, but the use of "wave surfers" is not to "crack" this
relatively feeble infrastructure, but instead to "de-ice" the
"hidden structures of reality" and integrate them into the
"emerging global mind". We are cracking our "selves" (or perhaps
our "perceptions of self"), we "real cyberpunks"(TM) use this
space to glide into "ontology" (psedo (necessary for finite
machines) reality).

You may now map Jamesian (William) flows of consciousness. This
has been a literary experiment. Please continue it for the love
of neu neu topia.



NO CARRIER

::LOW LEVEL PROGRAMMERS DELIMITER::

This discussion (briefly extended to alt.surrealism) is part of a
"broad course" or "coarse broad" discussion centered in
alt.cyberspace for "systems analysis" and "alt.alien.visitors"
for pragmatic experimentation.

There is at least one link between this "alien paradigma" and the
Hesse-Mann model. The conflict between "institutionalized
knowlege systems" is in Octavian terms that between religion and
philosophy. On a larger map (with Paz partially drew), Islam
seems to have chosen religion, the European centered
cosmopolitianism seems to have leaned more towards philosophy. In
alt.alien.visitors these two archetypes (stone on water) are
represented by the Illuminati and Knights Templar. The goal is
to draw prevalent conspiracy theory into a rough historical
context.

::THE PLANNED IMPERIALISTA::

If we can build a "cadre" of "half historians", then Knight
templar bead games can be used to enrich "alt.illuminati".


::END LOW LEVEL PROGRAMMERS DELIMITER::


::"Newbies" Only::



::INTRODUCTION TO PARSING::


Signed:
(((d))octress (Andrea "hawk lady" Chen
(where a hawk is an evolved form of dragon))
(Bend it bend it but don't break it) ((bennett))
(on off <<*>>)
)

reduces into (in neu-lithp) <<**>>

Signed: dbennett .



-Andrea "I may not be real" Chen-


::**:: A troll to John McCarthy in "primitive" neu-Minskia
community of mind.

The notation is a slight extension of the original fifties
construct with (( )) used to desiginate a "high level" member.
Finding the "2 strings" (d, bennett) marked by (( )) gives the
"text title" which appears after "Signed:" (which is a "title
type").

::*:: Pun to Beneton(TM) slogan.


::BEGIN CARRIER:: (

okay dear reader, you are "on"
(signed: ac) begin <> )

::pulsing:: a referance to other texts in the "total cyberspace
introduction". In a frequently used analogy, each human
individual is one or more "neurons". A "post" is a "neuron
pulse", a "thread" is a somewhat linked series of such events.

A slightly different terminology is used. For example a "button"
is often used to mean a "glass bead" in the lower level in the
house of hesse.

Regular readers of alt.cyberspace might know what I mean if they
have carefully followed the "neu-coder ring"(TM) sketched in that
group.

If there is demand, important pieces will be repeated in ac
discussion.

::ac:: alt.cyberspace, andrea chen, alternating currents (a book
of essays by the last living major associate of Breton (Octavio
Paz) and the only "classical surrealist" to win a Nobel Prize).




::***::

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