Monday, February 29, 2016

Every Night We Do The Speaking.

This was a comment in response to something else, but it amused me so I'm copying it over here. The topic was What Part Did The Internet Play In Your Loss Of Faith? (It's here if you want to see it.)

"Listen well and 'member. We do the Speaking every night so we don't forget. Time was, time is, time's gone. 'Member the time now, when everything was meatspace. T'weren't no Internet. T'weren't no Metaverse."

Children in chorus: "We 'member it."

"'Member the times when the tech wasn't part of you. 'Member the times before you could even wear the glasses or the goggles to see into the Network. Member when a computer was nothin' more than a big, heavy box, like furniture, with a tiny little window to let you see... and there wasn't anything to see. 'Member when all there was, was people writin' words."

Children in chorus: "We 'member it."

"Some of these boxes, these computers, they were plugged into wires. Phone lines, we called 'em then. The box computers used other boxes, smaller boxes, modems to talk 'cross the wires. Without the modems, the box computers were silent and alone. 'Member them."

Children in chorus: "We 'member the modems. We 'member the copper wires."

"In those lost, dark days, you had to know the numbers. If you didn't know the numbers, the modems couldn't find other modems. They couldn't talk. We wrote the numbers on paper, in meatspace. We left them where people could find them. We found the numbers that other people had left. We put them in our computers, so our modems could talk to their modems, so our little computer windows could show us the words they'd written, and they could read ours. 'Member the numbers."

Children in chorus: "We 'member the numbers."

"Time is, time was, time's gone. That was world, when I first drifted away from Christianity. 'Member it."

Children in chorus: "We 'member."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Real Work Conversations: Optimism

I can't believe I managed this one. We'd spent the afternoon taking down old televisions, and putting up new ones. We'd just taken one down and we were having some difficulty disconnecting it when the following exchange took place:

Boss: "Hang on. Let me get this wire... out of... the mount..."

Me: "Yeah, good luck with that."

Boss: "I think I can get it..."

Me: "Bloody optimist."

Boss: "Absolutely. I can do this..."

{Boss manages to untangle the wire, so I can finally set the television down.}

Me: "Do you think if you tried hard enough, you could turn into a tractor-trailer truck?"

Boss: "Sure, with enough work."

Me: "You know what that makes you, right?"

Boss: "What?"

Me: "Optimist Prime."

Boss: {gapes}

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Music: The Narrator Is A Jerk

Okay, Justin, I know you intended this as an apology, but really? As apologies go, this one's pretty horrible -- and it's making you sound like a complete jerk.

Shall we break it down?

You gotta go and get angry at all of my honesty

One line in, and we're already off to a really bad start. Because this? This isn't how it works. Nobody says, "I can't believe he was so honest with me! I'm still angry about it..." It just doesn't happen. No, stuff like this, this "I can't believe you're mad at me for being honest" is the sort of thing someone says when they're trying to avoid discussing the real reason why the other person is pissed off. And that's usually because you've been being a jerk.

You know I try but I don't do too well with apologies

Then you need to learn. But frankly, at your age, if you "don't do too well with apologies", it's because you're a jerk. Either you think you're never supposed to admit you're wrong, or you're just so utterly unconcerned about the effects of your actions on other people that you've never realized when you ought to be making apologies. Either way: jerk.

I hope I don't run out of time, could someone call the referee?

...And now you're trying to set the terms of the conversation. How lovely.


'Cause I just need one more shot at forgiveness

See, this isn't how apologies work. The point of an apology isn't to obtain forgiveness for yourself, or to get out of the consequences of your actions. It's to let the other person know that you recognize that you've done something wrong and/or hurtful. You don't get to tell the person you're apologizing to how they're supposed to react. Trying to do that is a dick move.


But, hey, maybe the next stanza will be better...

I know you know that I made those mistakes maybe once or twice
And by once or twice I mean maybe a couple a hundred times

Wow. Just... wow. Okay, see, "maybe a couple of hundred times" isn't what I'd call a "mistake". I mean, at that point, it's a pattern; it's a habit. Specifically, it's a habit of being a jerk. Hell, what you're describing here is almost a character trait.

So let me, oh let me redeem, oh redeem, oh myself tonight
'Cause I just need one more shot, second chances

...And again, you've slipped out of apologizing, and started talking about what you need instead. That doesn't much sound like you're really sorry. And "let me redeem myself tonight"? How exactly are you planning to do that, Binky? You're just going to downplay this long-standing habit of -- what was your euphemism? -- "making mistakes", and hope that an evening of being charming is going to win her back? Yeah, good luck with that. Jerk.

Is it too late now to say sorry?
'Cause I'm missing more than just your body

...And here we come to it. You're not saying you're sorry because you're actually sorry. You haven't come to some realization that your actions were hurtful and wrong; it's just that you've suddenly realized that your bad behavior is actually going to cost you something, and you don't want to face the consequences because you're a jerk. It's all about you, isn't it?

Is it too late now to say sorry?
Yeah, I know that I let you down
Is it too late to say I'm sorry now?

If the girl you're addressing has any sense, then the answer should be a resounding "YES!" It should be too late, you smug, condescending little prick.

I'll take every single piece of the blame if you want me to

Dude. This is supposed to be an apology, not a fucking negotiation. Jerk.

But you know that there is no innocent one in this game for two

Oh, dear ye immortal gods. "Hey, you did things wrong, too!" is no way say you're sorry, you passive-aggressive twat.

I'll go, I'll go and then you go, you go out and spill the truth

Finally! Finally, you admit that she's completely right about you, and absolutely right to leave your selfish ass.

Can we both say the words and forget this?

...And then you blow it. Again, if the girl you're addressing has any sense at all, she'll say "No" -- and she should. So far, the only thing you've offered is to "redeem yourself tonight", which sounds more like trying to play a Get Out Of Jail Free card than like any sort of personal reform, character growth, or honest self-reflection. (Jerk.) Yes, you're "missing more than just [her] body", but so what? Even if that isn't just a line -- and I'm admittedly dubious -- why should she think that's going to stop you from making even more of those "mistakes" that you apparently make so often? (Jerk.)

I mean, there's nothing here that says, "I realize why my actions were wrong, and this is what I have done and will do to fix my behavior." All I see here is, "Please give me what I want, including the chance to hurt you again." Jerk.

I'm not just trying to get you back on me, oh no
'Cause I'm missing more than just your body, oh

Yeah, you say that, but honestly? That sounds like exactly what you're trying to do. Jerk.

Is it too late now to say sorry?
Yeah, I know that I let you down
Is it too late to say I'm sorry now?

For her sake, I certainly hope it is.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Someone draw this for me?

Midnight. A darkened alley. Three figures run down it, laundry bags slung over their shoulders. Behind them, an alarm wails.

Unseen overhead, a dark shape passes across the alley, black cloak spread like wings against the sky.

The figures in the alley slow, then stop. They are not far from the end of the alley, but a dumpster hides them from view. One of them sets his sack down. "Is it clear?"

The bag slumps oddly. It isn't full of laundry; it's full of boxes of stolen electronics.

"I'll look," another one volunteers. He turns, just as a figure in black drops to the ground beside him. "Oh, no."

"It's him," says another of the thieves.

"We're dead," says the third, but grabs for his gun anyway.

A line of red cleaves the darkness, and the two halves of the gun go spinning away. The light from the burning blade reveals the cloaked figure, the black armor, the terrifying mask. The sound of harsh, mechanical breathing fills the alley.

Coming Soon to a To a Theater near You

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sci-Fi short film: Mech: Human Trials

Not long, and it plays like a preview for a full-length movie or even a TV series, but fun:

Where would you go with this idea, if you were writing it?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What? Where? Who?

I've been a little out of it for the last couple of days. Actually, I suspect I've been "a little under the weather" (i.e. quite sick but in massive denial about that) for the last couple of weeks. So, after spending Tuesday home sick -- officially, as it were -- I've made it a point to just work on necessities and get a lot (a LOT) of sleep. This has been... instructional.

Did you know that when people sleep, they have dreams? I seem to have forgotten that. I mean, yeah, sure, weird dreams -- like the one where the mysterious cat was going around freeing children from the influence of some sort of ogre (or something) that had taken a place in the local school, leaving me and a woman to collect the newly-released kids and try to keep them safe from the rest of the town, which was still under the ogre's influence. But, yeah. If I sleep deeply enough and long enough, I not only have dreams; I remember them.

The Beautiful Woman is going out of town this weekend, so I'll be a single parent temporarily. Still, I think I'll be okay if I can just stay focused on my two goals: sleep and laundry, in that order.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Music: Who Wants To Live Forever?

The Tenors and Lindsey Stirling covering Queen (originally from the Highlander soundtrack):

Is it dusty in here? I think it must be dusty in here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Temporal Xenolinguistics: A Note

What you have to understand is... Dinosaur is a tonal language. Without the proper markers for breath and emphasis, it's impossible to tell the difference between "Rawr", "Rawr", and "Rawr". (See?)

You would not believe how many researchers we lost before we figured that one out. I mean, we'd have guys standing there with a phonetic script, trying to ask "Where is the nearest stream, please?" just like the last guy did, and then they'd get torn apart because they didn't have the aspiration quite right, and wound up accusing the Allosaurus of having a deviant interest in palm fronds instead.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Conversing with the Beautiful Wife

Beautiful Wife: "I'll be at the house tomorrow. I'm going to clean the kitchen and both of the boys' rooms. And I'm going to find whatever it is that smells like poop in Secondborn's room and throw it away. I have a theory it might be poop."

Me: "..."
Me: "Well, it's novel hypothesis, but I'm prepared to entertain it."

Life's Wisdom

My long life's wisdom, condensed into two pieces of advice for my son:

Me: "Have we learned a Valuable Life Lesson?"

Firstborn: "Only that I get in trouble when I haven't done anything wrong."

Me: "That is actually true, but I see two Valuable Life Lessons to be drawn from this afternoon's incident. You ready?"

Firstborn: "Yes."

Me: "First, don't do anything that even looks like roughhousing while you're at school. Second, stay far away from Jennifer. That girl is nothing but trouble for you."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A bathtub conversation

Secondborn: (shouting from the bathtub) "I want something to play with!"

Me: (setting two toys on the edge of the tub and dropping a third into the water) "Here. I call this game, 'Luke Skywalker and Han Solo versus the Aldebaraan Sharks of Doom'."

Secondborn: (surveying the toys) "I call this game, 'Luke Skywalker rides a shark'."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Big Black Nothing

Work has suddenly turned very, very busy, and I'm trying to write on the Ongoing Dark Fantasy Project. So I really have nothing for this morning.

I mean, my children continue to shoot me with Nerf weapons. My Jedi powers still fail to deflect them. But hey, that's life. Also, there's been poop. But, hey, parenting, y'know?

I don't know. I could use a reliable oracle, but instead I'm left to muddle through on my own.

How about the rest of you? Anyone else feeling... maybe not powerless, but at least slightly lost out there?

Monday, February 8, 2016

No Refunds

So... my five-year-old keeps following me around the house, saying "No refunds!" and shooting me in the leg with his Nerf pistol.

Music: Cruel

The Veronicas:

Wow, I was hugely distracted when I threw this together. I didn't even make it a link! Here, have the embedded version instead:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Openings, part II: The Darkness

Continued from here...

Dusk bounced off a tree and crashed into the brush, flattening bushes and rolling across moss-covered rocks. Even in her bestial form, she was collecting bruises; it would be much worse if she changed back. She got her feet under her, shook her head to make sure she was stable, and then shook her body to make sure everything was still in place. She was battered, but intact.

Two quick bounds brought her to the edge of the camp. She padded cautiously into the firelight, looking for Somber and the intruder, and finding... nothing. Then something overhead gave a brief, desperate shriek, and a winged thing crashed to the ground almost at her feet. Dusk set a paw on it, claws ready to stab, then realized it was dead. Dead... and strange.

The dead thing was not like any sort of bird or animal she had ever seen. The body was limp and flattened, like crumpled parchment; the wings were extended fans, with flesh stretched between bony ribs; and the legs were boneless tendrils, hanging down from the oddly shapeless body.

A slim, winding strand of darkness slithered down from the massive trunk of the tree on her right, and settled beside her paw. At the moment it carried no scent, but Dusk recognized it anyway: it was the nightmare that accompanied Somber, that protected him and made him so hard to have around. If it had settled beside her, it must be worried... or whatever equivalent an amorphous, barely-substantial nightmare spirit might experience.

Dusk raised her eyes from the dead thing, and looked across the camp again. This time, she saw something on the far side of the fire. It might have been a human shape, lying prone on the rocky ground, but despite its nearness to the firelight it was concealed by a blurring darkness that hid its features. Dusk hesitated, marking locations -- the three trees, the fire, the bedroll -- and decided that if Somber had fallen backwards after the shade had touched him, this was where he would have landed. The intruder, it seemed, was gone... unless it had collapsed into that strange, dark shroud that lay over Somber.

Cautiously, Dusk advanced. The air had changed; for a moment, she had the strange, disorienting sense that the entire campsite had changed. The nightmare moved as soon as she did, flickering darkly around the edges of the camp and then stopping at Somber's side. Dusk approached more slowly, still scenting the air and watching for the intruder's return.

For a moment, Somber was just as he had been: tall and lean, dressed in a plain gray robe, stretched across the dark earth and white stone as if he'd simply settled down to sleep there. Then he was gone again, covered by darkness, and a handful of small, bone-white beasts skittered out from the darkness that surrounded his body.

The nightmare fell on them, and they were gone.

Dusk shifted her throat into human speech and asked, "Somber?" After a moment, she repeated his name: "Somber?" She touched him with an outstretched claw, and felt the darkness try to reach into her. She pushed in long enough to shake him by the shoulder, then pulled back when he didn't react. The darkness clung to her, chilling her flesh even though her armored scales.

She drew back, looking around again. She and the nightmare were the only things moving; Somber was unconscious, and his resurrected beasts were shattered and destroyed. She had no way to bring him back to the monastery, but that might be for the better if he was leaking monsters again. The intruder, whatever it had been, was gone; she couldn't feel it at all.

For a moment, Dusk considered leaving. It would be safer to return to the monastery, tell what had happened, and let the brothers and sisters deal with everything out here. Safer for me, maybe safer for them, but not safer for Somber. No. Whatever had happened, whatever was happening, it was here... and while it might be safer to observe from a distance, unless she could drag Somber away with her, she wasn't going to do that. And dragging Somber wasn't feasible. If it had just been the strange beasts rising out of his nightmares, she might have tried it; but that cold darkness had tried to reach into her, tried -- she thought -- to claim her. She'd reached through it long enough to be sure that Somber was still alive, but she didn't want it touching her again.

Cursing to herself, Dusk settled in to stay.