Monday, February 23, 2009

Curse/Or: Casting Call

Monday is my slack day, but I wanted to keep the creative momentum going, so here are some pictures to help you visualize the three characters you've met thus far.

I don't know about you guys, but when I read a book, I turn it into a movie inside my brain. Which is probably why, as I write this story, there seem to be several jump cuts in the narrative -- I just think, "Hm, in the movie, they'd just cut away to them sitting at the table," so that's how I write it.

I've no idea if this is normal or not.

Anyway, these pictures should help you with the visualization, if you're into that sort of thing. The actors involved were, at least in part, instrumental in the creation of each character.

In order of appearance:

Michelle Rodriguez as Teresa / Camel

Ruby Dee as Esther / Fulcrum

Alan Cumming as Yevgeny / Yarrow

And special guest Eddie Izzard as Character Whom You Haven't Met

Bwahahahahah. Mine is an evil chortle.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Curse/Or: Where time goes to die

Good Lord, more Curse/Or? She's on a rampage!

The thing about institutions, Teresa realized as she sat at their table inside the truck-stop Denny's, is that they feel institutional. It didn't matter if it was a prison or a restaurant franchise – some things simply never changed in any significant way. Sure, the prices were higher and the pictures glossier, but there was no substantial difference between the Grand Slam of today and that of two decades ago. "Christ," she muttered over the top of her menu. "This isn't a dining room. This is where time goes to fucking die."

Her companions raised their eyebrows questioningly. Esther in particular had mastered a bored, over-the-glasses look that hovered somewhere between a glare and an eye-roll, but The Nose only managed to look like a young Woody Allen on a perpetual cocaine high. Teresa figured him to still be in his twenties, about the same age as the punk she'd assaulted earlier, only he had this nervous energy and rapid way of talking that made everything that came out of his mouth sound like it was weapons-grade bullshit. No wonder Esther had dropped the whammy on him earlier. If Teresa had been in her position, she'd have hit him, right on that punchable nose, just to get him to shut up.

She imagined it would make a crackling-crunch sound, like biting into fried chicken, when she broke it with her fist.

And back in the car, he had shut up, at least long enough for Teresa to decide there wasn't any point in pretending to be asleep any longer. "Good morning," he'd said with an idiot grin, "How are you feeling?"

"Who the fuck are you?" she challenged, sitting up in the back seat. She didn't see her purse, which meant it had to be up front, with Esther and Noise Voice.

"I am Yarrow," the Nose announced pompously. "You've already met Fulcrum here. Now I need to talk to you about –"

"Coffee," she said, looking at her watch. "It's nine thirty in the goddamn morning. If you don't let me smoke, then you'd damn well better feed me breakfast."

"We are on a very tight schedule and –"

"Yarrow," Teresa spat, "if you don't feed me, I swear before Mary and all the Saints I will bend you in half and rape your ass with your own nose."

Esther promptly found a freeway off-ramp that promised food.

She'd made a big deal about wanting to get her purse from the front seat after they'd parked. "You don't need it," said Esther. "Breakfast's on me. Besides, I took your cigarettes." She didn't smile so much radiate smugness.

"Don't care," Teresa said. "It's mine. I want it." But what she'd really wanted was the empty lighter lying on the floor of the car. She pocketed it smoothly, then made a show of taking the pack of gum out of her purse and placing it in the same pocket. She had plans for that lighter.

But she had allowed herself to be led to a table, feigning docility. Her plans required privacy, and for that she knew she'd have to play their game, at least for a while. So she'd sat and studied the situation, pretending to look at her menu, until she couldn't take the sheer mundanity of it any more and cursed.

"Nothing," she said to their inquisitive looks. "I gotta go pee. Do I need a chaperone, or am I a big girl who can go by herself?" She shot Yarrow what she hoped was a withering glare. He'd been radiating nervous energy the moment they'd gotten out of the car, and now he had these things in his hand – they sounded like coins – and he was shaking them. The motion reminded Teresa of the male "jerking off" gesture.

Yarrow looked at Esther. "Let her go, Yevgeny," she said, not taking her eyes off the menu. "It's not wise to get between a woman and a bathroom."

She could hear him whispering fiercely before she'd even reached the Ladies' Room. "I told you not to call me that in front of her!" he hissed. "True Names are power, and if we want to succeed…"

And then she was inside the bathroom, away from his irritating chipmunk chatter. She went into a stall, locking it with one hand while the other pulled out the broken lighter, then sat down fully-clothed on the commode.

The first thing she did was look at that lighter, long and hard, for a full minute, studying every banal detail of it. She noted the scratches along the plastic case and the cheap metal at the tip. She studied the flint wheel and noted how it was slightly scorched.

When she had finished comprehending every detail of it, she thought of it in an abstract sense. How it was a tool that could both help and harm. How it could be a weapon, if used properly. And how it chained her, because she was addicted to cigarettes, but it could also be used to liberate her.

Then she thought about cancer. How it had nearly killed her in prison, and the epiphany she'd had. She thought about how many cell mates she's sickened, and wondered just how much blood was truly on her hands. It was possible she'd given cancer to everyone in that facility.

And then she called upon the power that human sacrifice had given her. She felt it, warm and wet and large, a lump in her chest that she felt every time she breathed. She felt the power stored there, in the cancerous lump named after the baby she'd murdered, and the killing she'd done in his name to put it there.

She felt Tommy shift slightly, like a baby kicking inside its mother's womb, and then she was coughing, a deep tubercular hacking that seemed determined to expel a lung with each wrenching spasm. In a bathroom, nearly fetal on a commode, The Camel dislodged part of its hump into her waiting hands.

When it was done, she wiped the bloody phlegm from the lighter with some toilet paper and dropped it into the sanitary pad receptacle in the stall. And then, staring with the same intensity as before, she deliberately rolled the flint wheel.

A finger of flame shot up, burning brightly, steadily, in the dim toilet.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Curse/Or: Just a teeny bit more

Because while I really liked ending on Esther's killer line yesterday, it didn't properly close out the scene. So, here you go.

She could hear shifting in the front seat, imagined the Nose was turning around to look at her again. "Jesus," he said, "she's still out. What did you do to her?"

Esther sighed again. "Miss Satan Stick there is having a time out."

"You used the Voice on her?" Nose's tone was somewhere between incredulous and impressed. "Isn't that massive overkill?"

"She tried to smoke in my car." The vehicle accelerated perceptibly. "Even after I very politely asked her not to."

Nose gave a long, low whistle. "And you say what I do is witchcraft."

"Don't you start on me with that! You study things that aren't in the Bible. What I do just comes naturally. It's a gift, one that I've prayed about for a long time. Since Jesus hasn't taken it from me, I reckon it's safe to use. Besides, the working of miracles is a Gift of the Spirit. One Corinthians twelve."

"So psychic energy is witchcraft but believing in invisible sky gods is…"

"Yevgeny." Teresa twitched, hearing the power in Esther's voice. It felt exactly like being scolded by her mother, assuming her mother was shouting down the length of a tank's cannon. "Thou shalt not blaspheme."

The silence that followed was palpable.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Curse/Or: Routing Around Damage

I'm sorry I didn't post yesterday. But look! I bring you fresh creative squeezings from my fevered brain!

BTW, Chapter 2 is now officially titled "Routing Around Damage". Yes, it's a reference to the John Gilmore quote. Story starts..... now!

The entire station wagon shuddered as a door slammed, jostling Teresa out of her nightmare and into the slow realization that she had been moved to the back seat. She sensed eyes on her and fought the urge to stretch. If she feigned sleep, her captors would talk more freely and she might learn something.

Captors. Shit. All these years, and still a prisoner. Or at least still thinking like one.

"Apparently there was a change of plans?" said a voice behind her. It was loud and high and nasal, male without being masculine. The car shifted into gear, gravel crunching under its tires before pulling onto harder road surface.

They'd been stopped at the side of the road, she concluded, waiting for someone to join them. Maybe he'd been the one that moved her. Had he violated her as well? She performed a quick mental inventory of her body, and everything seemed in place and unmolested.

"Apparently." Esther turned it into three words: Ap parent lee. Her voice was muffled slightly – she was facing away from the back seat, looking at the road. Teresa risked opening her eyes, saw the back seat. They couldn't see her face, which was a relief. The taste of bile was thick in her mouth, so she swallowed softly, discovering that her left cheek was stuck to the vinyl upholstery. She'd been drooling.

Nose Voice laughed far harder than seemed necessary, and Teresa burned with shame. I'm going to rip that nose off his face and feed it to him, she swore inside her head. He was laughing at her, she was sure of it, even if he couldn't see the drool. She fantasized about grinding a lit cigarette out on that nose. This Camel will burn your ass.

Damn it. Now I need a smoke, she thought.

"My plan is like the Internet," said Nose Voice when it finished laughing. "It routes around damage. It flows like water. It is INWINCIBLE!" This last was done in some kind of fake Russian accent, and rose even higher, as if Pavel Chekov had been kicked in the nuts.

'Uh-huh," clucked Esther, her tone somewhere between irritation and resignation. "Like water. Is that more of your witchcraft?"

"It's not witchcraft," whined the Nose. "I keep telling you, it's a randomly-generated probability matrix that uses psychic –"

"Oh, there you go with that psychic nonsense," interrupted Esther. "Fortune telling. Mind reading. Oracles. It's all witchcraft, I say, and I don't much cotton to that, not in my car."

The Nose laughed again. "Lawl, Esther. Ell oh freaking ell. You don't "cotton" to it? Don't you know how racist that sounds?" Teresa could hear the smirk in the Nose's voice. It was very punchable, that voice, and she hated it already.

"Honey," Esther sighed, "I'm black. If I say cotton, it's not racist, it's retro."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mondays suck

I don't mean a pull a Garfield on you folks, but Mondays just suck ass for me on some unquantifiable level -- which is why I'm writing this on a Tuesday.

I say unquantifiable because I really can't determine a reason why they should suck so much. It's not that I have to get up early, battle rush-hour traffic, and rejoin the workforce after two days off, because, as a semi-unemployed writer, every day is basically Thursday for me.
(Why Thursday? Because it occupies that nebulous place in space-time that is immediately after the halfway point, but an infinity before the end. It's the weekday version of the last 20 minutes of school, in which time ceases to exist as a measurable quantity and becomes a subjectively infinite purgatory.)
I mean, I determine what day it is by recalling what I watched on television the night before, so don't think I'm living some glorious slacker existence of unending summer when it's really that dreary span of time which lingers between dinner and whatever's on TV at 8 pm.

So with that established, Monday should be just another Thursday evening, right? Except it's not. 99% of the time, I wake up Monday morning feeling like ass microwaved on a stale waffle. It's kind of like being hungover, except with no nausea and shaking. Sometimes I have a headache, but sometimes not. I could understand all this if I had spent the weekend in debauchery, but since the dissolution of my real life social circle (long story) all I do Saturday is write, putz around online, and sometimes see a movie. Sunday afternoon, I do laundry, then watch three hours of television in the evening.

It's not exactly kicking, is it? And yet, come Monday morning, I feel like I spent 8 hours dancing on a stripper pole and giving blowjobs while wired on meth. Sometimes I wonder if I'm Tyler Durden, and my alter-ego has a better sex life than I do. If so, I wish she'd leave me some notes and maybe some scandalous photographs as keepsakes.

Anyway, the entire upshot of this is to tell you why I sometimes don't write on Mondays. It's not that I love my readers any less, it's that I'm fucking exhausted from what I can only assume is a secret life of mayhem perpetrated by my second personality.

I am trying to get better, though. Some of you have hopefully noticed an increase in writing lately. This is all part of a little something I like to call Operation: Stop Being Such A Whiny Bitch And Just Write Already Goddammit and is the first step in my personal Year of the Phoenix. The first rule of O:SBSAWBAJWAG is that I will write something every weekday. If I miss a Monday because I'm feeling shitty, then I will write something that Saturday.

The second step, of course, is to actually punish myself when I break this promise. Which, knowing me, will be pretty soon. The third step is actually pretty ambitious and boils down to writing X number of words per day. This is to condition me to get used to writing on what is hopefully a professional schedule.

The fourth step, which I may never reach, is "Make daily progress on your novel at the same rate that webcomics do." Step five is the fantastical "Finish writing that damn thing and get it published."

This is my life, and it's ending one minute at a time. And I'll be damned if I die on a Thursday, between dinner and Survivor.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Very Special Valentine

Here's one for Troy Hickman:

And here's one for me, because no one else tells me these things:

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Doll in this House

Dollhouse premieres tonight, but I won't be watching it.

Not because I don't like the premise, because I do. I like Joss Whedon, too, even though he does terrible, horrible things to beloved characters. And Eliza Dushku always brings the sexay to anything she's in.

No, I refuse to watch this show because it's on FOX. You may recall them as the network that seems committed to smothering new shows before they develop:
(Now I'm not claiming that all of these series were good; in fact, I didn't even see some of them. The point remains, however, that FOX has a track recording for developing geek-friendly shows and then canning them before they've found their legs.)

And this doesn't even count the series that managed to last over 13 episodes before being cancelled, like Tru Calling or Arrested Development or Dark Angel. I still expect The Sarah Connor Chronicles to get canned any moment now, seeing as it (and Dollhouse) occupies the Friday Night Death Slot.

And it's premiering on Friday the 13th, no less. Could this show possibly be born under an unluckier star?

(Well, yes.)

So in light of this, I will not watch Dollhouse, and will not until the following occurs:
  1. It runs for a full season.
  2. Its first season is released on DVD.
  3. It is renewed for a second full season.
You're free to tell me I'm being an ass about this, but I'm tired of having my heart broken. It's not like I'm a Nielsen Femily member or something, so the success of the show is entirely independent of whether or not I watch it. I knew Drive would be cancelled, and it was; I think this one will be, too, even though I hope it won't.

Tho those folks who are brave enough to watch it: Enjoy. I mean it; there is no sarcasm. But I know that I cannot enjoy it, because in the back of my head there will be a little voice that says "If you like this show, then FOX will cancel it."

I'd like to conclude this post with a message to Joss Whedon.

Dear Joss,

After Firefly was cancelled, you once swore that you would never, ever, work for FOX again, and yet here you are.

Yes, I know that they have given you a contract for multiple episodes. I seem to recall they did the same thing for Firefly.

So while I sincerely wish you and your show well, IF Dollhouse is cancelled, don't have the gall to be surprised.

Erin Palette

Thursday, February 12, 2009

That's my bag, baby

Today seems to be a good day for follow-ups to previous posts. In my search for the perfect Rob Liefeld Bag, many readers pointed me towards ThinkGeek, and while I didn't find my perfect RLB there, along the way I happened upon this sexy little number:

Is that not the coolest thing you have ever seen? I showed this to new bestie Jean Bauhaus, whose response was: "That is freakin' awesome. I want one."

There you have it, guys: Not only does it look badass while you wear it like a holster, you will also make women envious when you wear it. Done right, you might be able to get dates with this thing.

Wear a suit all day? Use the Shoulder Holster version instead. Not only will you feel like James Bond, but it will keep all your crap from ruining the smooth lines of your trousers.

But on to the main point of my post. I believe that I have found my perfect Rob Liefeld Bag:

This beast is a 3131 MOLLE Tactical Computer Briefcase. Quoting shamelessly from the ad copy:

Polyester. PVC coated lining. Large expandable main compartment. Assorted gear pockets and MOLLE loops. Interior identification pocket. 3 detachable MOLLE pouches on front of bag. Padded laptop computer sleeve with hook & loop closure. Zippered map / document pocket with MOLLE loops on back side of case. Adjustable and fully removable padded shoulder straps. Black colored bag. Dimensions: 20.5" x 7.75" x 15" (inches). Approximate weight: 4.00 pounds. Price: $55.00

Now, what is awesome about this animal is the phrase "MOLLE loops on back side of case." This means that I can buy additional pouches -- like this bad boy here -- and then put them on the other side of the case. I suspect I might be able to fit a pouch on either end, as well. Plus there are those slot thingies on the top of the flap. When I am done, it will look like someone bukkakke'd pouches all over my bag. Because I am a pouchwhore.

As a friend said, "Personally, I envision you adding more and more pouches to this until you are your very own bunker, the weight pulling you over, shuffling along under a roughly hemispheric mound of pouches..."

Which of course is just silly. I'd mount wheels to it and roll smoothly along instead of shuffling.

I Command You to Submit!

New entries for The Frankenstein Protocols are up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Night Wackiness: The WTF Blanket

Is it just me, or do these people look like cultists, in their identical blood-red robes?

Boring middle-class cultists, though. It's like... instead of worshiping Cthulhu or Hastur or Dagon, they worship Dick Cheney or Donald Trump.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Frankenstein Protocols

This is an idea I had about 10 years ago and never really got around to developing. It's basically a variation on the Evil Overlord List, but geared toward preventing mad scientists from being total putzes and being destroyed by their own creations.

As you can see, I have only a few entries. I welcome and encourage everyone to contribute to this list (that's why they aren't numbered) or even suggest new categories. You are free to collect this list and email it, post it to websites, etc, as long as you list me as the original author. Contributors will be credited, assuming I get any submissions.

EDIT: New submissions are printed in bold.

And now, I present to you all....


Basic Safety
  • As a scientist, I am neither the strongest nor the most charismatic person in existence. However, it is entirely likely that I am the smartest. Therefore, under no circumstances will I endeavor to create something that is smarter than I, be it organic, computerized, or extra-dimensional. Something that is smarter than me is something which can out-think me, and therefore conquer me. I know this because I'm smarter than everyone else and I'm plotting to conquer them.
  • Remember: a remote lab is free of meddlesome do-gooders and investigators, but it is also beyond the response range of fire, medical, and rescue units. Mad Laboratories must be maintained well beyond OSHA standards.
  • A loyal lab assistant is good. A loyal security detail is better. But a dedicated damage control team is best.
  • Should anyone cause the failure of my most precious experiment, inadvertently or not, I will not hold a permanent grudge and devote my life for revenge. I am still entitled to yell at him/her right after the experiment is ruined, though. (submitted by McNum)
  • I will consider if any device I create can somehow be used against me and develop countermeasures if so. (submitted by McNum)
  • I shall cultivate a healthy relationship with neighboring townspeople: attending their fairs and events, inviting them to the castle for pot luck dinners, and giving them free health care. Ignorance breeds fear, but no one assembles a pitchfork-and-torch wielding mob to attack "kindly old Doc F." (submitted by Chris Bridges)
  • I am a scientist, not a warlord. Taking over the world by force is therefore inadvisable. There are likely to be bigger military geniuses out there than me. I can invent the weapons, but not fight the war. (submitted by McNum)
  • Close political proximity to an Evil Overlord can be beneficial. Close physical proximity is usually less so. There are many various sub-species of Overlord; however, they all possess a similar resistance to the process of Trial and Error. As such, they tend to gravitate toward the idea of "If it fails, kill the person that suggested it."(submitted by M_I_Abrahms)

Standards & Practices
  • As a scientist, my mind is my most valuable asset. As a result, I will not cultivate the "exposed brain" aesthetic. A skull reinforced with kevlar and titanium is more sensible.
  • I will not purposefully misspell the name of my creation in order to achieve a pleasant alliteration or a useful acronym. Mad Science does not excuse bad grammar.
  • Similarly, if I intend to use a dead language in the process of creating something, I will first ensure that I am completely fluent in that language. Summoning a Babylonian demon while attempting to create a pulchro-simulationix will invalidate my experiment, to say the least.
  • While peer recognition is important to me, I must nevertheless resolve NOT to reveal how I accomplished any given scientific achievement. Therefore, when a party of do-gooders gasps in astonishment and suggests that which I have done is impossible, I will NOT explain that a fantastically miniaturized quantum power source at the base of my creature's brain is the secret to the whole thing. Instead, I will simply nod and say, "You're right. It's impossible." (submitted by John N.)
  • I am a Mad Scientist, not an Evil Overlord. Therefore it is perfectly acceptable for me to cackle madly at the triumph of my creation. However, I will work with a vocal coach to insure that my mad cackle is properly intimidating without leaving me out of breath.
  • If I am unable, unwilling, or sufficiently distracted to perform a properly mad cackle, I shall designate a henchman, who has likewise received vocal training, to do it for me.
  • I will accept the possibility of "magic". At the rate new discoveries about the universe have been found, it would be stupid to rule out this possibility. Especially if my next door neighbor is a witch, wizard, vampire or similar. (submitted by McNum)
  • If magic exists, it must be analyzed. If I can figure out quantum physics with nothing more than a pencil and a stack of post-its, I can figure out magic. As a girl genius once said: "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science." (submitted by McNum)
  • Note: One more like these and I'll create a separate category for magic.

Tampering in God's Domain
  • If I do decide to create a pulchro-simulationix, her source of power and/or nutrition will not be sexual in nature. I want a sexual partner, not a succubus that will kill me through dehydration.
  • Unless I plan on dying after its release, every creation will have some manner of an "off switch". Preferably remote. (addition by Tripp_Hazzard)
  • I will not control my creations through pain, drugs, or aversion therapy. Instead, I will use a radical technique known as "good parenting" and ensure that they obey me because they love their Daddy.
  • If my creation still holds a ravening hatred of my very being, despite my best efforts to be a good parent, I will destroy it. I will not lock it away somewhere where some Goody-Goodnik can release it and use it against me.(submitted by Tripp_Hazzard)
  • I know that in the party of inevitable do-gooders out to ruin my day, one will be an attractive member of the preferred sex of my Monstrous Creation of Doom. Therefore I shall neglect to give it a gender of any type, ruling out 'lust' as a reason for betrayal. (submitted by Seph Hexen WR)
  • Corollary to above: my pulchro-simulationix shall never, under any circumstances, become my Monstrous Creation of Doom, lab assistant, security chief, damage control chief, etc., because depriving her of gender rather defeats the whole purpose of a pulchro-simulationix in the first place.

Mad Computer Science
  • The laws of probability dictate that if I am involved in A.I. research, at least one of the do-gooders out to ruin my day will be computer savvy. As such, if I create a sentient robot it will not be compatible with Windows or any other commercially available operating system. (submitted by Demonic Bunny)

Mad Human Resources
  • I shall do my utmost to insure that any and all laboratory assistants I hire are competent. The least that I should find myself accepting of in this category should be of the college level. While a high school or lower education could perform the menial tasks I am sure to give them, it is within my best interests to have an assistant that's at least capable of pretending to be a civilized individual, and if they've made it into college, they can at least manage that. (submitted by MikoReimu)
  • I shall endeavor to make sure that my assistants are taken care of well. They should receive a decent wage, have the best health benefits I can manage to give them, and I should treat them more like a friendly associate then some meager tool for my own nefarious ends. This gives the added security that, should any goody-two-shoes types try to infiltrate my agency through the acquisition of spies, they will have a harder time convincing my men (women, or not-applicable - equal opportunity recruitment tactics also helps) will have very few reasons to want to turn against me. After all, I'm paying them good money, health care, and treating them like almost equals. What's a hero going to offer them that can compete? (submitted by MikoReimu)
  • All of my hirelings, underlings, lackeys, and creations which are capable of human speech shall be held to the highest standards of grammatical correctness. Splitting an infinitive, ending a sentence with a preposition or using "who" instead of "whom" will be met with immediate imprisonment, as they are either being mind-controlled or are do-gooders in disguise. (derived from a submission by Anvildude)
  • As above, but with hygiene and basic grooming. A disheveled uniform and handsomely rugged stubble is a giveaway.
  • I am not an Evil Overlord, so I have no reason to keep captives. If I must restrain someone, I will lock them to a hospital bed and then immediately administer a drug-induced coma.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The James Bond Kit

Those of you who are following my Twitter feed are no doubt aware that a week ago I received, as an early birthday present, a shiny new laptop: an Acer Aspire 5515. Unfortunately, it runs Vista; fortunately, it has 3 gigs of RAM so it's actually fast enough to run that beast at a decent speed. But its best feature, as far as I'm concerned, is an inbuilt wi-fi, because that means I can now escape to the nearest library or coffee shop and write without the constant distractions of my family, whom I love dearly except when they're bothering me.

However, there is one small, almost trifling problem: this laptop is too big to fit my old (non-wi-fi) laptop case.

You'd think this wouldn't be a problem. It gives me an opportunity to shop for accessories, and according to cliche', that's what women live for. And I do like looking for the right bag. The problem, my dears, is that I can't find what I'm looking for.

When I was 6 or 7, my parents took me to see my very first James Bond film, and like most children I was immediately captivated by all the gadgets. Not only by how nifty they were, but how small they were as well (this was years before the Transformers came out, by the way), and how they were used at precisely the right time.... oh, Eddie Izzard explains it much better than I:

Yes, quite. So anyway, after seeing this James Bond movie, one of my first acts was to go home and assemble what I called a James Bond Kit. It sounds impressive, sure, but really it was just an old tote bag filled with various toys that I thought could be marginally useful in a James Bond style scenario:
  • a cheap flashlight
  • a plastic canteen
  • a toy compass
  • a toy knife
  • a jump-rope, which I could turn into a lasso, or tie someone up with, or use as a garrote
  • a set of my mother's old crochet hooks, which I thought looked a little bit like lock picks
  • some jacks, which I thought could make dandy caltrops
As you can see, it rather failed at being truly James Bond-ish, but you can't deny the thinking that went into it: These are things I think will be useful in a pinch, and I want them all in an easy-to-carry bag. I'd also like to note for completeness' sake that I spent my elementary school years on military bases in Europe during the Cold War, so that also helps explains why my kit was closer to a half-asses Boy Scout's rucksack than actual cool super-spy gear.

No joke: I actually grew up afraid that one day, we'd get a call in the middle of the night that the Russians were pouring across the borders, and that I'd have to abandon my dog and my toys to go hide in the countryside while my father went off to war. That probably explains quite a lot about me and my quirks.

Now, fast-forward many years. I'm older and more sophisticated, but I still haven't outgrown the notion of a James Bond kit. Nowadays, I have a backpack that I take most places (hanging rakishly off one shoulder, natch) that contains the following:
Then there's the stuff in the trunk of my car:
  • bolt cutters
  • survival blanket/tarp/poncho
  • entrenching tool
  • big-ass Mag Light flashlight
I don't do this out of paranoia. I'm not afraid that at some point I'll need to flee civilization and survive in the wild for years. (If I did, I'd own an off-road vehicle, and it would have camping gear and rations in it.) No, I just kind of pick this stuff up, because it seems nifty and useful and, well, James Bond-ish.

Which brings us back to my quest for the proper bag for my laptop. You see, it can't JUST hold my laptop; it also needs to hold all my other crap, too, because at this point I'm carrying several pounds of metal and I'm starting to get funny looks when I set my bag down and it goes clink.

I want a bag that can hold all this stuff, but more importantly, it can't just be thrown in there. Oh no. Because, you see, this is a JAMES BOND KIT, and that can't be girly. Stuff just tossed into the main pocket? Exceptionally girly, because that's just an oversize purse.

I want something that's tough. Utilitarian. Military. Perhaps even ridiculously macho.

I want this sucker to have reinforced grommets. I want it to be made from ripstop nylon. I want it waterproof, rainproof, bulletproof if possible. I want my laptop to be cradled in a shockproof cocoon of foam rubber. And I want it to have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of pouches, snaps, tie-downs, pockets, and those expandable holdy-things that can hold a 2 liter soda bottle but compress into a slot the size of a credit card.

God help me, I want a computer bag designed by Rob Liefeld, because there is something just obscenely decadent about each tool having its own little pocket, snuggled up asleep in an individual cocoon.

... okay, on second thought, having a little nest for every tool is actually pretty girly after all. I would indeed tuck them each into place, like a mother putting her children to bed at night. But I digress...

Still, the problem with desiring a Rob Liefeld Bag is that, much like his anatomical drawing, such things are clearly impossible to find in real life.

So I turn to you, my dear readers, to help me find the nearest equivalent of a Rob Liefeld Bag for my James Bond Laptop Kit. It doesn't even have to be an actual laptop bag (in fact, I'm pretty sure it won't, as those seem restricted to either "oversized purse" or "leather attache case" categories); I'm fine with repurposing bags designed for other uses.

So far, the closest I have come to fulfilling my design aesthetic is a SWAT Bag, but even that not quite what I want. I definitely feel that military surplus is the way to go, but am willing to consider other options (like what they transport camera lenses in) as long as they satisfy my "tons of pockets" needs.

Color, of course, needs to be either gray or black.

Price should be in the "expensive, because you're paying for quality" range, but lower than "Oh my God you paid HOW MUCH?",
which is probably in the $50 - $100 range.

I can't really promise any fabulous prizes for helping me find my ideal Rob Liefeld Bag, but as longtime reader Nathan Tamayo will attest, if you do something nice for me, I do something nice in return. So send me your ideas, your links, your witty comments, and not only will I write a follow-up post containing the best of these, but I will do or give something quite spiffy to the winner.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go put on my jam trousers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Night Fights: Christian Bale vs his director

This is sort of a "perfect storm" of things I adore: techno music, Christian Bale, and profane tirades using the word "fuck".

This is SO not safe for work:

If you'd like to download it as an mp3 (and why wouldn't you? I personally plan to add it to my "driving in rush hour traffic" playlist), you can find it here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trying something new

I've just started a short-short story using Twitter. It's called "Stiletto Staccato" and it's in chunks of 140 characters or less.

I hope you like it. When I'm done, I'll collect it all here for your sequential reading pleasure.

Monday, February 2, 2009

New Heroes Tonight

Just as a reminder. ;)

I can't watch it tonight, but I'm taping it.

Special thanks to Pepsiman for showing me this commercial:

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