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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Persons Unknown – The Verdict (I)

First, the non-spoiler portion for people who just want to know if they should bother watching this show.  The answer is probably not, unless another network picks it up.  (Although as an update, I changed my mind the next day.)

The show is not a complete story and as of now it is not getting renewed and so it just ends.  Much like LOST, there are areas in which you can extrapolate your own ending, in case you are into that sort of thing – I am really not.

The show was fairly clever – clever enough in my opinion to overshadow some weak acting and bad dialogue here and there.  One part about the ending in particular surprised and impressed me, and so as a caveat I’d mention that if the show really intrigues you, and you’re comfortable with the fact that they aren’t going to wrap it up, I did enjoy the show.

I just don’t see how I could recommend it since it actually broadens the scope of the central mystery as opposed to resolving it, and though it appears to directly answer some of the questions, they really weren’t particularly satisfying answers (to me).

There are now going to be spoilers, so if you’re still thinking about watching it, you’d better go ahead and skedaddle.

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Okay, I still think most of my predictions were accurate.  You can read all about them at the links below – if you’re reading this without reading them, I might lose you a couple of times. 

The part I thought was clever was when they all pretended to kill each other, and then Joe loaded them all into body bags.  They definitely got me there, and I was glad because it was at that point that I was getting seriously bored.

I was thinking about something I think Stephen King wrote somewhere, about how the thing to do with a character when you don’t know what to do with him or her is kill them.  It’s kind of a catch-all.  So if they just up and killed six people, it would have really indicated to me that they didn’t know what to do with basically anyone.

So I liked their plan, and I even liked that we didn’t see them make the plan, because so much of the show was from the perspective of the cameras, of the Program.  So they had figured out some blind spots and found a way to secretly hatch the plan. 

But what happens after the van crash? 

Suddenly Janet is wandering down a California road in the rain.  And Moira and Erika are in the Middle East.  And Charlie and Blackham are in the desert.  They don’t seem like they’re in the same area so what happened after the van crash?

Well, if I’m right about it all being a computer simulation, then they could have all awakened in the real world, in their bodies.  But much like any online game, their bodies were hooked into the networked simulation from different places in the world. 

Or they could have all been recaptured while unconscious in the van, and then hooked back up to the computer to live out their simulated escape experiences.

That’s a logistic detail that I’m not crazy about keeping.  Feels lazy and startling – if we bought the secret plan because we were watching from the Program’s perspective, then it seems inconsistent to suddenly hide the same perspective from us.

Just selectively not telling us what happened – that’s barely a mystery.  That’s just mucking your cards after a bad hand.

Mark and Joe end up in the Town again – or another Town – while everyone else winds up on Level 2, which is a giant ship in the middle of the ocean. 

Tori is the new Night Manager, supporting my earlier prediction that the Night Manager was a previous participant who was promoted.  And then there’s the Night Manager again on the ship with his eyepatch – he’s introducing them to Level 2.

I’ve watched the scene from the Mansfield Institute where the Director called a meeting and was surprised to find Robert Picardo there.  I believe that the Director is a computer program which has been running the experiment for twenty five years, and I in fact think that all of the people she was talking to were computer programs as well.

I think this show is about AI programs attempting to become as human as possible.  They are trying to bestow free will upon themselves by examing and provoking the moral choices of humans, who they regard as having either free will or a more developed illusion of it.

So the question is, when – if ever – is this show taking place in reality and when is it not.

I never saw anything to indicate that the Town wasn’t a simulation – in fact everything continued to point to that right to the end.  I don’t think they fooled the Town or the Program – it knew that they weren’t really dead.  However it was the first time that the participants had all worked together to escape as opposed to killing each other.

So the Director was pushing for an exploitation of the situation.  Either by simulating escaped experiences or reprogramming embedded simulations.  Like Graham – he was immediately in a white room like Joe was.  I wonder if that means that Graham and Joe are computer programs but don’t know it.

Every single character could be a computer simulation that the Program is attempting to grow into real life with free will. 

Right when Janet gets knocked out in the hospital, she wakes up and in walks the Director.  That’s because Janet went back in the Program at that point.  She woke up in a simulated but identical hospital room.

Then we find Moira and Erika in Morocco.  It makes no sense that they’d end up so far away from Janet if they were all in the same physical town when they crashed the van.  I’ve also suspected Moira of being a program.  I wonder if anyone at all is real?

Another post on this tomorrow – I have to go to work.  Nobody yell at me yet, I’m working on it!

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Persons Unknown: What is The Tenth Level?
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Persons Unknown: The Program Is Literally A Program
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Persons Unknown: The Very Curious Computer
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Persons Unknown Is The New LOST

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Persons Unknown, Television/Movies

 

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Revenge Of The Question Bucket

Yes, it is very important that I carefully select a television show to write about.  First, it gives me a topic once or twice a week, and it’s a topic total strangers will show up to read about.  This gives my friends a break – you guys carried the entire blog for a long time, and I imagine that makes you feel tired and bloggy.  Take a load off, that was super cool of you.

Last time I selected Persons Unknown because it was a puzzle show like LOST.  It was an all right show and the end was wide open, few questions answered, but it was clear that it thought it was going to get renewed.  The end isn’t just ambiguous – it’s pretty much called Introduction to Chapter Two.

It didn’t get renewed – in fact almost nobody watched it – so we aren’t likely to see Chapter 2.  I’m not sure we had the appetite as a society for another weird puzzle show after LOST.  A lot of people would see me out and about and grab me and shake me and demand to know why I was writing about it at all. 

Anyway, for a really unpopular show, writing about it generated quite a bit of traffic, and we like traffic, it’s good for selling books later this year. 

By far the most popular show I’ve written about was LOST, but I figured the blog thing out way too late.  The thing I wrote about LOST which skyrocketed was written after the whole show was over, meaning that cow stopped a’ milkin’ pretty quick.  That’s bad work, Tommy C.

So I asked the People of Facebook which shows they liked and thought I should write about. So far, five responses. 

I used to utilize a digital Question Bucket that everybody ignored and instead Facebooked their questions anyway.  Or  they’d grab me in person and shake me and scream their questions at me in a bar or on the street.

Or, they’d use the Question Bucket, but they’d use it for threats or insults or accusations.  Hanging right there next to the Threat Bucket and the Insult/Accusation Bucket.  What’s wrong with people?

I guess the world has moved on from buckets.  It’s a damn shame.

So Sharon and Deirdre suggested Boardwalk Empire, which looks like a really cool show, but unfortunately I turned off HBO a couple of months ago, in an attempt to rationalize more frequent use of On Demand (it worked, I feel super duper about it).

The only thing I miss about HBO is Bill Maher, but on the other hand Marilyn hates Bill Maher, would run him down if he were crossing the street in front of her.  She doesn’t hate things very quietly, either, so I can live without Bill Maher since it also means living without that particular ball of Spouse Hate.

The only other problem I can see with Boardwalk Empire is it looks like it might be too serious and realistic.  I don’t see any time machines or monsters or cowboys, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to sing or dance.  I maybe should have mentioned these requirements along with my Facebook request.

I suppose I could have HBO turned back on – it’s not very hard.  I just say, “Bethany, can you call the cable company and tell them to turn HBO back on?”  Takes like ten seconds.

So maybe I’ll do that.  But I’m still looking for suggestions. 

Then there was Kellena, who suggested I blog Glenn Beck.  That’s a damn good idea, he looks a little bit like a time-traveling cowboy.  I think I might do that tonight.  But not every day – that would be a different kind of blog.  Some kind of  Glenn Beck blog – we’ll see how that goes. 

The key is to pick a show that’s new, though, and follow it as it builds a fan base.  Then when people get on board and go online to google it, they find me.  Go ahead and sing that last word.

ME!!

So anyway all that makes Boardwalk Empire look perfect, now that I think about it.  What I liked about Persons Unknown was I got on it from episode one, so I got to kind of track the normal reaction to the show as it unfolded.  I’m going to go over and read some more about it and try to talk myself into turning HBO back on.

Oh holy Christmas.  It’s Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter, a Sopranos writer.  That’s good news for people who want me to watch it but bad news for people who want me to write about it.  What am I going to say every week, wow that was freaking awesome again?

And if I don’t like it then suddenly it’s Tom Vs. Martin Scorsese – no thank you.

Rob and Ken both say Fringe, which makes roughly fifty people who’ve told me to watch Fringe.  But man, that’s the same crew brought me LOST – I’m having a hard time with that.  LOST really screwed me up, relationship-wise.  I’m not sure how long it will be before I can trust those guys again.

I’m leaning that way right now though – Rob says that not only is there some kind of time machine, they sing and dance one episode.  He said that like it’s a bad thing – I don’t even know who he is anymore.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

The Butterfly Effect

The camping trip was really last night – it just didn’t seem like a good idea to post a blog saying “Hey everyone, me and my entire family are going four counties away from our house now and we are taking all of our dogs with us!  We love you!”

But that’s what we were doing, and so I was sneaky and said that the camping trip was next week.  But it’s already over!  If you were thinking of coming over and availing yourself of my sweet, Grove City blogger’s pad then you missed your chance. 

I am a litttle bit paranoid.  For instance, right when I heard about Chinese hackers who could turn on your web cam and look at you, I started sticking a Post-It to the camera on my lap top.  It doesn’t have a lens cap for some reasons, so that’s what I do. 

I don’t think it’s very important that the hackers are Chinese, that’s just the detail sticks out in my mind from the news story.

I still do it, stick a Post-It over my web cams.  It’s one of those things my wife pretends isn’t happening.

Anyway, time to take the daughters camping, secretly, off the radar.  Logistics dictated that I drive Ellen down separately, since she had to pick up one of her little pals.  Please enjoy these highlights of our conversation on the way down.

She started off with the normal stuff – let’s get chips, how long til points A, B, and C, etc.  Then she was quiet for a while.  Then she suddenly groaned and said, “Argh!  It makes me so mad that I’ll never find out about the universe!”

I said, “What’s that, sweetheart?”

She gestured at it, the universe blasting around our windows.  “How did this happen?  How would we know if it stopped happening?  If something was happening before all this was happening, wasn’t that also the universe?  What’s going on around here?!”

“You mean the universe?”

“Yes!  It’s so huge and we’ll never even see our own whole planet!  It makes me so mad that I’ll never find out what the universe is all about.”

“Maybe that’s what God is for, sweetheart.”

“Well if God made the universe it’s the same problem.  Where did He come from?  Doesn’t He have a mom?  It’s even more frustrating, cause it seems like He could just tell us, but He won’t.”

“No, I don’t mean God is for universe-making.  I mean, God is for not driving yourself crazy trying to figure that out.”

“Well, He’s not helping.”

“Listen, maybe when we die, we shed these bodies like the cocoons of butterflies, and we leave the Earth behind and go out into the universe for infinity, learning everything you just said, finding out anything we want to know.”

We drove along for about five minutes while she thought about that and then I’m not kidding, a giant yellow butterfly swirled out of the air seemed to hover for a second directly in front of the windshield.  It practically smiled and said, “Hi, Ellen!”

Then it hit the windshield – we were going seventy miles an hour – and left a sparkly yellow splat.

Ellen screamed, a real phonetic scream.  “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”  She clapped her hands to her head, screaming.

I said, yikes, and hit the windshield wipers but I was out of fluid.  Splerk, splerk – now there was a sparkly butterfly gut rainbow on the glass.  Ellen kept right on screaming.

“You know, I think butterflies live like eight weeks,” I told her – had no idea, really.  “That one was probably in constant pain it was so huge and old.  I’ll bet he was praying for death’s sweet release, and along came Ellen and her dad, like the Grim Reaper and his spunky little girl.”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!”

I looked at the butterfly streak – it was in fact sparkly, like there was glitter or pixie dust in it or something.  Had I ever washed this car, ever in four years?  Even once?

I said, “I think he’s okay, sweetheart.”

Ellen turned the scream into a question, gesturing at all the other splotches on my windshield.  “Are all of these spots butterflies?!”

I looked at them – there was a good chance that they were.  I blurted out, “Bird poop.”

Ha.  It worked.  She even stopped screaming for a second so I asked her, “You know what the white stuff is in bird poop?”

She said, “No.”

“That’s bird poop, too.”

“We’ve got to slow down.  You’re killing butterflies everywhere you go.”

“Ellen don’t kid yourself, it’s us or them.  They look innocent and pretty and colorful, sure, but given the chance, that butterfly would kill us both in a heartbeat.  Our friends, too, every single one of them.  Burn down all our houses, the shops we work in…”

“There’s another one!” 

Big one, too.  Looks like a sparrow as it dips right in front of us and then over our heads unharmed. 

“You see its fangs?”

“No.”

“Piranhas of the air, darling.  You want to keep your feet on the ground and stop fooling yourself.”

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Egg Recalls and Shark Attacks

In the summer before 9/11, I recall very cleary that the news was full of shark attacks.

It was a slow news summer, the last one in history.  You would have thought that sharks were organizing and moving against us finally, but no.  It was actually a slow year for shark attacks, it was just a slow year for news as well, so we saw more shark attacks on our televisions.

And so when you went to the beach that summer, people were freaked out about it.  The shark attacks after all were in that ocean right there, or at least one of the oceans touching it – the mean sharks from the next ocean could just swim over, right?

We’d better stay out of the water so we don’t get attacked by sharks.

In reality, of course, every individual’s chances of getting attacked by a shark – pretty slim.  But since everyone had shark attacks on the brain, everyone acted as if a shark attack was about as likely as a Central Park mugging.  Better start thinking defensively, right?

9/11 happened and the shark attacks kept going, but no way were you going to see it on the news.  What you had to worry about now was terrorist attacks, even though of course, your odds of getting attacked by terrorists were similar to your odds of being attacked by a shark.

Not a very fair comparison right after 9/11 – I remember very clearly that none of us knew if more attacks were coming or not.  Sometimes the television tells you to be afraid, and you already are, for good reason.

Remember the anthrax scare?  I remember a political cartoon that year on Halloween, a guy opens his front door and the trick-or-treater is dressed as an envelope – because we were scared of the mail for a while, remember?

We saw that some people had received anthrax in the mail, and so we worried about anthrax in our own mail, too.  

Maybe a year after the Iraq War began, I recall the instant that the television decided we should be afraid of illegal immigrants.  A big push, one day, showing maps of the Mexican-American border and a recursive video feed of – literally – people in panchos scurrying past cacti carrying knapsacks. 

I expected cartoon banditos from Speedy Gonzales next.  But the television had spoken, and here we are.  Many of us can’t think of a single thing worse than an illegal immigrant.

Our televisions have spoken, and it is so.

It’s true.  Our television tells us when to be afraid and what we should fear, and we listen to it.  Sure, it’s right sometimes, but think back. 

Did the fear do us any good after 9/11?  Does it ever do us any good?  Does it protect us from terrorists or anthrax or shark attacks?

I don’t think it did us any good, and no – I don’t think it protects us.

I think that the Patriot Act was rammed through by fear – the same crowd that was outraged by health care reform, happily blasted through a bill of similar length with no time to read it, no time for debate.  We whacked our flippers together and applauded, terrified of sharks.

Now the television says eggs.  Eggs are scary.  Watch out for them.

We’re talking about shark attack odds.  The recall affects one percent of the eggs produced, and that’s still millions of eggs.   A couple thousand illnesses out of those millions, factor in that you only have a one percent chance of encountering that particular batch of millions of eggs in the first place, and it’s shark attack odds.

You can eat eggs, it’s no problem.   I still cook mine over easy, and I don’t care what you think, or the television.  They’re yummy.  I sop them up with toast.

Plus, mine are organic, which means they came from healthier birds.  Your television doesn’t want to tell you that organic eggs are safer because factory farms have lobbyists, and lobbyists affect what’s on television.

But check it out, every single time you read or watch a story about the question of organic eggs – are they safer – pay attention to the wording.  They will instantly answer a different question – there is no way to guarantee safety. 

They’ll suddenly pretend that you asked if organic eggs were some kind of super egg in which no bacteria could survive,  Krypton eggs from a planet with a red sun.

Not the question.  Are they less likely to be infected? 

They are.  Even Dr. Sanjay Gupta buys organic eggs.  He admits he doesn’t have a study to prove they are safer, but he buys them.  Why would he do that?

Anyway, I don’t care if you buy organic eggs or not.  You can go to McDonalds or Bob Evans and get the most factory farmed egg you want – we’re talking about shark attack odds.  Lottery ticket odds.  You’re going to be fine.

Your television is like a counselor – what it thinks you should do is keep getting counseling.  Maybe ramp it up – you should really have sessions three or four times a week.  Best thing for you, just ask your counselor.

And our televisions like to frighten us because we then keep watching television, looking for a way to save ourselves from the scary thing it’s telling us.  This is a box run by billionaire marketing tycoons, and we trust it like it’s a burning bush.

As you can see, sometimes that depresses me, you know?

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Vampire Profiling Is Not Cool

Or whatever you want to call it.  I feel bad about how when I was a kid, I thought all vampires were pretty much the same.

I only knew about a few vampires then, and most of them were different guys playing Dracula.  None of them really stand out to me, frankly, not even the classic black and white guys which everyone’s always going on about.  I think of all the Draculas I saw as a kid, the hilarious one in the Bugs Bunny cartoon probably stands out the most.

‘Salem’s Lot was the first vampire movie I saw which actually frightened me.  I saw the movie before I read the book – and the book eventually scared me more.  Barlow was the vampire’s name in that one, and Stephen King has said that he pretty much set out to do a contemporary Dracula, and that’s what he did. 

In the book, he did that so well it was like a hologram.  It really felt exactly like how a vampire invasion would go down, in a real seventies town.  Plus, since I’m such a big sissy about scary books and movies, I appreciated how the vampires had rules – they couldn’t come in unless they were invited for instance.  I like it when a book tells me what to do in case the scary stuff actually happens in real life.

In the movie, though, I don’t even remember Barlow, just the scary vampire kid – Danny Glick – floating outside his friend’s bedroom window, trying to get invited inside.  That scene is right up there with Linda Blair’s spinning head, in terms of the most frightened I’ve ever been by a movie.

Frightening me wasn’t hard to do, though.  Remember the episode of the Smurfs, where they got some kind of disease that made them turn red and hop around yelling “Guh-Nap!” or something?  Then if they touched or bit (or something) another Smurf, then that one would turn red and do the same thing?

Those were Smurf vampires, and they scared the hell out of me.  Kind of caught me off guard – you don’t expect to get freaked out by the Smurfs really at any age.  And I was pretty old.  I think some of my friends had girlfriends by then, and I was sitting there getting the crap scared out of me by the Smurfs.

I’m pretty sure Papa Smurf got it all straightened out, but every single other Smurf was a hopping red vampire Smurf by then.  They were lucky he also figured out how to change them back.

Isn’t that weird by the way that Papa Smurf made one girl Smurf – a really flirty, sexualized Smurf, too – and then stopped?  A hundred dudes – that’s just trouble brewing, you know?

Anyway.  Vampires.  Then came Fright Night, which really I think was attempting a contemporary version of the Vincent Price version of vampires, and my favorite part about Fright Night was the rules were much more numerous and firm – it was like a vampire condo association. 

Sunlight wasn’t just bad for Fright Night vampires.  It made them explode.  And crosses worked pretty good, too – and I love the very handy rule about killing the head vampire before dawn, thus reversing the vampire infection on whoever he bit that night. 

Seems like a complicated mechanism, whether vampirism is spiritual or biological.  It works though – that was Prince Humperdink from Princess Bride, playing the head vampire, by the way.  Why does he always have to be such a jerk?

Then Lost Boys did the same thing.  The rules were so firm in that one, they were loading squirt guns with holy water and shooting wooden stakes out of bows, and their elderly uncle managed to drive a truck into the side of the house, expertly blasting a wooden post through Vampire Jack Bauer.  It was a good shot – he’s really good at driving a truck.

Then came Anne Rice, and her vampires were worse and better.  Worse because the rules didn’t work – they had to stay out of the sunlight but the more powerful they were less it mattered.  And they lived forever and drank blood but the wooden stakes were irrelevant.  You couldn’t get close enough to these things to stab one of them.  They were like Superman.

But at least it seemed like it would be kind of cool to be one of them.  The vampire stories so far, it seemed like you’d be a zombie slave with a really messed up monster face.  If you were an Anne Rice vampire you were smoking hot, and also for some reason bisexual, and you lived forever, but you could walk around like a normal person and people liked you.  You could form relationships and decide to only eat bad people, for instance.

Now there’s Twilight.  The sun makes them shimmer, and they are super duper hot, and their main concern is what girl to sit with at lunch.  I like them because they aren’t scary and they seem to have a West Side Story kind of thing going on with werewolves.

Thirty Days of Night was the scariest vampire movie I’ve seen in the last few years, though I missed the one where vampires had taken over the world and Ethan Hawke was trying to cure them.  And my favorite vampire ever is Blade – I saw Blade II in the theater three times. 

Vampires all over the place, a culture as rich and diverse as our own United States of America.  That reminds me of Mexican vampires in From Dusk Til Dawn – speaking of vampire profiling, I wonder how those dudes are doing these days?

 

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Dear Sir, Regarding Physics

Good afternoon, sir, and yes, I received your inquiry. Thank you for your interest and concern – in today’s high-tech world, it is so rare that we stop and communicate with each other as human beings.

Of course, since you were in my rear view mirror and in a Jeep behind me, I could only visually take in your rather animated hand gestures and your excited facial expressions. I could not make out the verbage of your inquiry, but I could detect your earnest good will, and I was able to gather from various subtle cues that you were most likely wondering how my day was going.

It’s going fine – thank you again for asking. I am kind of bummed about the end of the skiing season, but on the other hand I am sooooooo psyched about the return of flip flop weather and the March Madness – Go Bucks! I guess life is all about tradeoffs, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, the other thing that appeared to be of interest to you was the distance between me and the enormous truck in front of me, which was carrying a dozen small metal rowboats of some kind. Each of the rowboats weighed about eight to twelve hundred pounds, and I think what you were asking was, wouldn’t it be cooler if I got right up behind that truck?

That way, you were probably thinking, we’d both be fifty yards farther down the road, going at the exact same speed, and we’d arrive wherever we were going seconds faster. Seconds! That’s really useful regardless of your destination, being fifty yards and an eighth of a second closer to it. Life is like an episode of 24, and there’s no time to waste!

The only thing was, I wasn’t the guy who had chained the thousand-pound boats to the back of it, so l thought it prudent to leave a considerable distance between myself and the truck, in case there was a horrible accident, and a metal boat – or a pile of them – slid out through my windshield and into my brain.

Yes, I’ll sheepishly admit – I’m weird about that.  It often seems like people who hook things up to trucks are above making mistakes, and it often seems like all chains are made of indestructible adamantium links, but actually, you know, shit happens. Yes sir, even in warehouses and truck bays.

A better hung man would have passed the truck – I agree. I don’t drive a Jeep – that’s the problem and you’re right. I probably wouldn’t understand.

I noticed when you whipped over there and passed me that you were trying to tell me something else.  I think it was that you don’t just like me, but you “like” like me – and I’m real sorry, pal, I get that a lot but I’m married to the blogosphere, Captain Kirk-style. You seem like a real nice fella, though, and I dig your sweet wraparound shades.

I also like what appears to be either your nickname, or your Jeep’s nickname, on your license plate – PNISHER.

I am assuming it is pronounced “Peenisher.” Since you had a small novelty skull mounted above it, I am also assuming that you are some kind of pirate. Peenisher the Pirate – I have to say that kind of makes me question my straightness and married-to-the-blogosphereness all over again. You are clearly a formidable man.

If I were a girl, for instance, I would totally want to have your baby. I am assuming that if you reproduce, your offspring are as capable as you are of understanding Jeep Things, yes?

Sizzling.

Anyway, because you’re so nice, I wanted to remind you about gravity and momentum and how things are normally attached to flatbed semi trucks by human beings – God’s fallible children – and also how mirrors work on giant trucks.

See, you are right on that truck’s bumper now, and again, travelling the same rate of speed as I am, and you are so close, if you were Mel Gibson’s partner on the police force, he could climb out on the roof and then jump onto the truck full of boats and then unhook one of them and ride it into a river as the truck went over it – that son of a bitch is crazy.

But you’re not Mel Gibson’s partner, so instead, without being a buttinsky, I just wanted to remind you that anything falling off that truck right now – even a lunch box, really – would destroy your Peenishermobile, since your Peenishermobile appears to be constructed mostly out of aluminum foil and old tarps.

Also, if you are trying to communicate something to the driver, in the same manner that you were trying to inquire about my day, then you should know that he can no longer see you since you are so far up his butt. If you can’t see his mirrors, he can’t see you.

Sometimes there is a sign, but there’s no place to hang a sign on this truck, since it doesn’t have a back wall between you and its cargo.  No, the boats are just sitting there, going seventy miles per hour right in front of you, and you trust the nameless dudes who put them there like they are the Warehouse Workers Of God Himself – I think that’s so hot, man, I’ll be honest with you.

Be careful though, sir, because Jeeps are very intimidating, not just to me, but to the drivers of twenty-ton vehicles. He’s probably sweating bullets in there, going oh crap, oh crap, oh crap – It’s the Peenisher!

You could have given that truck driver a heart attack with your alpha dog hotness.  Great power, great responsibility, you know?

Anywho, I wasn’t sure if it went both ways.  I mean, I know there is no way for me to understand Jeep Things, but I wasn’t sure if you were able to understand non-Jeep Things, like physics for instance.  And how to determine when you are looking and acting like a jackass, in your Peenishermobile.  You’re welcome.

Well, it’s been great talking to you, I have to turn now, there’s a Steak-N-Shake. See you on the highway!

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The Solution To All Of My Problems

I meant to write a lot more fiction when I started doing this.  I think I assumed that’s what I’d be writing because that’s all I had written in the past.  A lot of it, too – around fourteen hundred pages spread over four novels. 

But it’s hard to do that daily – it kind of felt like those cartoon strips in the daily paper that are really a big soap opera, you just get three frames a day.  Judge Parker was one of them.  Tuesday he shaves and gets a phone call.  Wednesday he walks over and says, “Hello.”

That’s how fiction feels, eight hundred words at a time.

Especially when I’m in a hurry, because fiction takes me forever.  My imagination is not very visual – I have to sit there and really think hard about what a place looks like, where a guy came from, and then the problem is, no one wants to hear all that once you make it up. 

You have to pick a couple of really good ones, otherwise you’re standing there listing all the articles of clothing a guy has on, or where the chairs and couches and end tables are in a living room. 

And anyway, the political posts and the angry rants and for some reason the stuff and about my children and my cat – much more popular than the little bit of fiction I’ve put up. 

So then that Starcraft fiction contest came up, and I sat here for a solid sixteen hours knocking out this twenty page short story that was really like a comic book without the pictures.  Not very deep, not very literary, and set entirely in a universe which I experienced in a video game.

Yes, I’ve been through it myself, as you might imagine.  Not exactly the New Yorker, no.  A big step, artistically, like the decision to play cover songs, maybe. 

A normal thing for a writer to aspire to is some kind of John Irving-type of life.  You write a novel, and it gets published, and you never have to do anything else, just write novels.  But you kind of assume the intellectual angle, the literary nature of it all. 

Novels, that’s what you aspire to.  You want to write novels and have them reviewed in newspapers.  You kind of dream about reading a bad review, and throwing the paper across the room in disgust. 

You miss an exit by twenty minutes, realizing that you’d just been participating in an imaginary interview with Teri Gross, regarding your recent novel. 

You feel like you’re being realistic – your novels won’t be on the bestseller list, just novels, out there in the world, making you a comfortable living. 

The key part is making a comfortable living writing novels – that’s pretty hard to do.  But I think I just figured out what’s easier, and that’s making a decent living writing books.

Paperback books.  Books for dorks, in particular. 

Think about it – why am I trying to be so cool?  You know I’m a big dork, I know I’m a big dork – let’s just be honest with each other, right?

Now go to the library or the bookstore and go check out the fantasy/science fiction section.  It’s ginormous – these dorks are just like me, and they need someone to write dorky books for them.

 Doctor Who books.  Stargate paper backs.  Did you know there is a Burn Notice novel?  Somebody wrote that, you know.

I think I could knock out about a half a dozen of those a year, and be whistling dixie.  I would have to watch all of those dork shows, to keep up on all the plotlines – it would be hard work.  And then the rest of the time, I’d have to sit here rubbing my face, writing about them.  Making up whole new shows, taking any characters, whatever I wanted to do.

You guys, I can do that.  I think that it’s possible I was born to do that. 

The great news is that’s not an ego talking – pick up one of those Star Trek novels sometime.  Can you write a book from beginning to end?  Can you fog up this mirror? You’re qualified.

Let me tell you something – I got totally into it.  I had a damn blast.  I haven’t written so much fiction in a couple of years, not in one sitting, and I found that it was a lot easier.

Almost as if I’ve been working out daily for four months. 

I took myself really seriously, too.  I was practically rolling weird, twenty-sided dice.  I was down here scratching my chin, my brow all furrowed, working out the logistics of something.  My wife was more than a little bit amused.

I said get used to it, baby, I’m a sci-fi franchise paperback writer now.  It’s going to be sweet.

She bought her tickets.  She knew the risks.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized