Back in High School I was forced by the powers that be in the Seminole County Public School system to take an elective art class for a credit. For some reason the bureaucracy that was the School Board deemed this a necessary course and thus thrust people like me, with zero artistic talent, to take it. I can tell you this, never in my adult life when at an interview or applying for a job did the recruiter demand I draw a perfect 3-d table or sketch a pineapple. I’m not saying that learning how to draw is pointless, but in the pool of life skills one needs to survive this modern world it’s about as useful as a shark is as a floatation device.
So, reluctantly, I took this course. It did not go well, it did not go well at all.
The first assignment was to draw a table, sounds simple enough right? Well not for me, I suffer from a particular retardation that seems to make me incapable of drawing anything properly, straight lines, even basic shapes like circles come out looking like spaghetti noodles. There was one thing I could draw though, and that was the majestic beast of the western United States… the mighty Bison.
I do not know where I discovered this intense burning talent I possessed to draw the Bison. Perhaps I was imbued with the spirits of all the Bisons slain by western settlers who cried for one man to make people remember their proud majestic existence upon birth, it could be that I was born under the long lost Bison constellation, or maybe the Bison is my spirit animal eternally watching over me. All I know is that my Bison-drawing skills were my only chance at passing this class. Sure I couldn’t draw a bike, or a person’s face… the actual assignments the teacher gave us, but damn it I could draw all sorts of Bisons.
Draw a table? I drew a Bison playing poker. Draw the weather? Bison in the rain. Draw an abstract concept? The regression of man as witnessed by a bison. To explain that last one, I drew man… well as good of a facsimile of man as I could muster slowly turning back into an ape while on a hill in the background a lone bison watches over it. Draw a still life? Stuffed Bison. Draw a 3-D shape? I drew a bison inside a shaky retarded looking sphere. I dubbed that one, by the way, ‘the trapped Bison.’ Each time I did this my grade got progressively worse, not better. The teacher said I wasn’t taking the class seriously on my report card. I never thought I’d see the day that an art teacher would discourage one student’s talent because it was unconventional. I felt hurt, betrayed, and angry. I cursed my Bison-drawing skills, if only I could have translated it into other drawings… but alas, Bison was all I knew. I felt like… a lone Bison in the rain.
The true face of sorrow.
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Of all the things on the interbutts that I’ve ever encountered in my years, I find that there’s one particular fandom that stands out. Sure there’s otaku, cosplayers, furries, and role-players who all bring their own unique form of drama and cult like fervor for the target of their obsessions; however, it’s rare to find a fan base that combines so many to create a Frankensteinian horror to lurch it’s way through the internet like one of the great old ones breaking the bindings that hold them deep in the heart of the city of R’lyeh. A twisted amalgamation of sheer awkward stupidity that would put even the most ridiculous AOL roleplay profile to shame. I of course speak of that dreaded dreamless cult that sleeps deep in the bowels of the net. The cult of… and forgive me dear reader for some mild trepidation in calling for it’s name for fear they may be listening… Sonic the Hedgehog.
You heard me, Sonic the fucking Hedgehog. You see, the Sonic games themselves took a bizarre design turn somewhere between Sonic 3 and Sonic Heroes for the Dreamcast creating a huge number of furry-tastic side characters! For those of you who never grew up in the 90s or ever owned a Sega console, allow me to fill you in before we continue, Sonic was Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario. Basically he was their mascot character, and from a gameplay perspective they were nothing alike. Mario games tend to be more focused on exploration, platforming, and occasional puzzle solving. Whereas Sonic games involved you basically trying to control a blue spinning ball as it rockets around like a small child that has been given a coffee enema. The levels were on rails and you’d just watch as your little blue ball rolled it’s way to the finish line. Exciting!
For some reason… reasons I have yet to determine the source of, Sonic has become extremely popular with furries. I found several pages that go on for extreme lengths about the history of the Sonic Fandom and how it’s apparently like the snake eating it’s tail or something like that, and aside from boring me to tears it never seemed to get into the part where it turned into the AOL Roleplay of this generation. Something needs to be done to stem the tide. Don’t believe me? Do me a favor. Navigate your way to Google/Bing and type your first name followed by ‘The Hedgehog.’ Go on, I’ll wait.
Oh, you’re back! Now you see exactly what I’m talking about. The furry community has latched on to this video game mascot with a bizarre fervor that I have yet to fully understand. All I know is that somewhere in the world someone is possibly erotic roleplaying with my name as a furry Sonic the Hedgehog ripoff character, and this disturbs me to the core. That ever elusive ‘why,’ chasing it has led me down a trail of fail that would put even the worst ex-Flame Town poster to shame. There are hundreds of characters, who their creators all claim are original, which are basically re-colors of Sonic the Hedgehog. Many of them are his ‘children’ or lovers, in some cases both. There’s immortal Hedgehogs, evil Hedgehogs, vampire Hedgehogs, and of course sexy erotic roleplay hedgehogs. Well, actually, sometimes you don’t need to be a hedgehog, they just seem to make up different combinations. Bunny hedgehogs, dog hedgehogs, walrus hedgehogs, the possibilities are endless!
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We’ve all done things we are horribly embarrassed of, lets face it. You live on this planet long enough you’re bound to have something in your past that, upon recollection, makes you cringe just a little. Sometimes we must silently bear these scars alone, but not I. For you see, my tragyic past is something of a shared experience. A group effort, if you will, forged through the ever cool and not lame bonds of online roleplay. More specifically chat room based, late 90s, AOL Roleplay. Ah the late-90s, Dragon Ball Z was the hottest anime on TV, Final Fantasy 7 and 8 were released, along with a re-release of Star Wars, and The first Matrix film. It was a time of great entertainment milestones, iconic moments in the world of gamer and geekdom, a glorious time for a socially maladjusted nerd like myself to fully engross himself into. What better place to do it than RP Chatrooms on a dial-up modem?
In AOL Roleplay the realm was named RhyDin or Rhy’din or just Rhydin. It was based on the rules of ‘uh…. what were the rules again?’ There was dice, but no one seemed to pay attention to it. There was no level-up system. No DM. No universally recognized rules or real ways of enforcing said rules. The RP community was so vast and there were so many variations on the rules that if you found two people following the same ones in an open chatroom it was the RL (Real Life for all you non-RP coolkids) equivalent of finding the Yeti riding the Lockness Monster like a jetski. There were however some universal rules that most everyone seemed to follow, and I wished they hadn’t, some of the more notable ones were:
- Every room has rafters for the Vampyres to lurk and hiss in, even if the room is called ‘OPEN GRASSY FIELD WITH NO RAFTERS.’ Also, even if they don’t mention it in their profile, in character, or at all, virtually everyone is at least 25% vampire.
- Every child character is a super-genius of some kind, and can speak ‘perfect’ English, do magyick, and in general outsmart you at every turn, even if the person who is RPing him/her can’t seem to spell properly or show any signs of said advanced intelligence.
- Every female character is a badass battle maiden who don’t need no man with massive heaving tits and a seemingly endless libido.
- Virtually everyone is a ‘dark’ and ‘wycked’ and will endlessly make reference to using a ::wicked grin:: or a ::sinister laugh:: repeatedly in conversation, even if you’re just asking for directions.
- Everyone either wears all black hooded outfits, billowing capes, or some sort of celestial battle armor forged by Jesus.
- The Medieval crowd will insist on speaking in ye olde English, even if their only understanding of said dialect is that you add random ‘y’s into words and ‘e’s at the end of others. If you speak to these people in any other way they will pretend you are speaking martian to them and yell at you in the dreaded out of character brackets in instant messages.
- Everyone has a tragyic past. No one has gone through life apparently without their whole village being murdered while they were out gathering berries or some shit. As if it’s an entire realm filled with JRPG protagonists. Almost every female character has been raped, sometimes repeatedly. Sometimes male characters too.
- No one has a normal name. You must have at least three names, all with special characters and accent marks. (¯`’·.¸.·::»¥« Trîllÿånå §ådærå-Ðrågðñ »¥«::·.¸.·´¯), is an actual example and not something I just made up. Seriously.
- Your Geocities, Angelfire, Homestead, etc. website is only allowed to use RED on BLACK colors, and everything must be bold text. NO EXCEPTIONS. Animated .gifs from Diablo 2 optional. ::wyckid grin::
- Never, under any circumstances, question how it’s possible to be 25% werewolf or 50% vampire and not just a werewolf or vampire unless you’re prepared to listen to long typo-ridden dissertation containing elements of all of the above rules.
Click to continue reading “The Streets of Rhy’din: A Journey Into The Whimsical World of AOL Chatroom Roleplay”
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Continued from part 2.
Neon Garden – Part 3
There’s all sorts of complex subroutines in the human mind, drawing on information even on a subconscious level. In quantum theory you learn about these sorts of things. Flashes of danger before it strikes, or that feeling that someone is watching you. This can be attributed to magnetic synchronization, or a filter in the brain that can draw images from anti-matter traveling backwards in time as our reality lunges forward. Not magic, just little glitches resulting from the formation of the universe. Oddities written into the laws of physics. It was this sense that above all else, Yashima was the most proficient in tapping into, seemingly at will. It was combat subroutines hardwired into his brain, funneled though his eye modification. A situational awareness that could factor in hundreds of variables in the middle of even the most horrific scenes of chaos and mayhem that pertained to himself. Who was looking at him, what weapons could fire, what was the net’s traffic was saying, all of these factors and more working in concert. All of this granted him a fraction of a second to react when the phosphorescent fire of an automated gauss gun sliced through the floor of the monorail he was riding as if it were a sword slicing the underside of a loaf of bread.
It wasn’t enough time, one of the slugs sliced clean through his right arm, nearly severing it. The nanomesh didn’t even slow it down, as it cut through the ceiling of the rail car and into the center-linkage that held the whole thing on it’s track. With a sudden lurching sound Yashima found himself being thrown violently to the floor along with a dozen or so screaming citizens. The car had derailed on it’s track. The pain in his arm was being blocked by nerve suppressors built into the artificial tissue, but the blood loss was staggering. He could already feel himself getting dizzy and lightheaded. There wasn’t any time, so he quickly unhooked a belt from a nearby corpse, some low-level executive that took three rounds from the crotch up nearly splitting his torso in two lengthwise. There were others injured too but nothing could be done about that. There wasn’t enough not enough time for the blood to pool on the floor and barely enough time to haul himself up and tighten the belt around the wound. The car snapped loose from it’s track, pulling the rest of the rail backwards with it. The emergency door at the end didn’t give. It was much more sickening to see the corpses as well as the injured and uninjured roll, slide, and fall towards the end of the car, pressed up against the glass and frame by gravity. Yashima managed to stabilize himself and avoid falling to the end of the car.
He was a sitting duck, there was no where to run and no way to escape. The rapid-fire of the gauss gun pierced the car again, tearing through the mass of humanity pinned at the tail end. A round struck home again, hitting Yashima square in the chest. The slug was stopped by armor built into his chest plate, placed there to protect his vitals. The force; however, was strong enough to knock him loose from a pole he was grasping on to and send him sliding on the dirty and bloody floor to the tail end on top of the pile of now mostly corpses as well as a few unlucky survivors wishing they were.
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Continued from part 1.
Neon Garden – Part 2
Blonde’s assessment wasn’t too far off the mark, Yashima had to give him that. He was the overly inquisitive sort, but not that anyone who hired him could tell. Most mercs were content to go with the intel provided, and rarely tried to figure out the why of anything. Yashima was not most mercs. You could even attribute his continued longevity to this simple fact. Asking questions just might save your life. It wasn’t about questioning the mission, or pestering the individual who requisitioned the job for more information. That was suicide, asking questions always made corps extra nervous and was risky. After all, they were paying you to not ask questions to begin with. No, what Yashima did was a bit more subtle. He did his own independent research, and it didn’t involve using net queries, or hacking, or anything of the sort. Call it, old-fashioned detective work fueled by a healthy dose of paranoia.
Yashima stood, still wearing his Mr. Incognito attire, in front of a simple placard staked into the soil that encompassed the outer rim of the same park the meeting took place in. Earlier he went down street side to a rundown yakisoba sandwich vendor. Then after stuffing his face on what you could describe as food, he embarked on a casual walking tour of the many obscure book vendors and street shops that lined a nearby derelict scraper. The gutted remains of some office-complex converted by shady third-party landlords and leasing corps into a shopping district. Automated turrets lined the various points of entry, giving at least the illusion of security. He ambled about for a few hours, reading books on flowers, specifically on bio-engineered flowers. He didn’t take anything, just scanned the pages with his artificial eye, storing the information into a slot-drive mounted behind his ear. Paper volumes were not as rare as you might believe, fairly new books were still printed by underground second and third-party publishers. The predominate reason being, well, you can’t hack paper. He paid any vendors who’s books he scanned in cash, and shuffled off to the next stop in the neon trail.
Killing time, as it were, till the operation. Plus it never hurt to try and learn something new. After running out of nearby vendors he returned to the place of the meeting because he wanted to see what these flowers growing here were all about. The placard read:
The Dr. L.P. Pierce Memorial Flower Garden
Dedicated to the man who’s vision, leadership, determination and spirit helped to pioneer Titan-Pyre’s identity as a conglomerate with a global consciousness.
These rare Gibraltar Campion Silene tomentosa flowers, thought extinct twice over after the siege of Europa claimed the Royal Flower Gardens of London, were brought back from the brink thanks to ground breaking genetic repair technology discovered by Dr. Pierce. They are a symbol of his legacy, and of Titan-Pyre’s commitment to finding a balance between humans and the natural world.
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This is a short story set in the same relative time and place as my cyberpunk story. It’s a brief side story intended to flesh out, a little more, the nature of corporate warfare in the nearish future. I hope you enjoy it, I will post this as a three parts over the next week. The next update will be on Wednesday and the subsequent final update will be on Sunday.
Neon Garden – Part 1
Down on the streets, where columns of light beamed down in between parts of the skyline that had not yet grown to cover them, in between the interlocking sky bridges and office-complex junctions, there was a park. Well, what used to be a park, now it was a concrete makeshift playground for employees of Titan-Pyre Industries. Though, as with most corps that are on the decline after the biotech industry bubble burst, it was slowly being taken over by the other elements of the sprawl. The full time security staff was, at this point, in a sorry state and their attitudes towards their duties were questionable at best. The drones and cameras were infinitely more alert, though clearly not the current models. One particularly sad looking drone sputtered about on it’s flight path, occasionally twirling about as it’s failing gyros tried to compensate for their growing deficiencies.
As a result most anyone could walk in and use the place to hang out, get high, or use P.A.N. Devices to cover the net’s interface of the place in ugly poorly drawn graffiti. Beat box headed drifters ambled about aimlessly at all hours. The children were more concerned with games, dotting the neon landscape of the age-restricted P.A.N. cloud with the typical refuse of youth. Poorly drawn exceptions of skimmers, troops at war, games scrawled on to the ground with bizarre shifting rules. The occasional junkie or punk hacking the cloud to leave crude messages was actually somewhat of a rare occurrence, and with the ignorance of youth, was usually met with indifference or clever ‘modifications’ from the children who frequented this place.
A unique feature of this otherwise unremarkable place was it’s flower gardens, planted by some well-intentioned fool before the skyline blocked out the sun. Now what remains is a ring of dirt encompassing the entire plaza with a single patch of flowers, maybe three feet by four feet in area, still left alive. The sky bridges cover the sunlight so thoroughly that this one spot was the only part that still received direct sunlight. There was a small girl who attended these flowers from the looks of it, coming by to water them and pick up the weeds. A single defiant piece of the natural world that somehow managed to avoid being choked out by the voracious maw of urban design run amok. Flowers aren’t exactly a unique feature, in most corp parks they exist, but what set these apart was that they weren’t synthetic or fake. These plants were one-hundred percent natural.
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Believe it or not, even during the tremendous lulls of this site where there were no updates there were plenty of ideas and half-written articles. Sorting thought my archives I came across one that stood out as a truly, truly, terrible idea. This was originally designed to be an article series, in some way, attempting to illustrate how terrible fast food is for you to eat, especially on a consistent basis. This, of course, is a relatively pointless message to try to convey. You’d have to be an idiot to think eating any of that crap is actually a good idea. There’s more studies and information about the dangers of fast, cheap, and processed foods out there that anything that I would do or say would only come off as either redundant or preachy.
That’s actually only part of the reason. The idea was, to ‘review’ each new fast food sandwich or product that came out and describe in detail the after-effects of consuming said product would be. The name of this article series, because I thought after eating some of these sandwiches that it was a real possibility I was going to die, was ‘Fast Food Suicide.’ Now, I’m not a paragon of health and fitness, but I don’t normally eat a lot of fast food. My general tendency is to cook my own meals at home, and in general I don’t eat a lot of extremely fatty or salty foods. I don’t even have cheese or breads that often. This is actually the perfect storm for fast food to come in and thoroughly wreak havoc on my guts. Thus there were some pros and cons to consider in such a writing endeavor.
– Could be humorous.
– Could serve as a warning.
– Could deter sales of certain fast-food products.
– I’d have to actually eat this crap.
– In addition I’d have to actually pay money to eat this crap.
– The after-effects are not always super unpleasant, but when they are… oh buddy.
– Do people really want to know in great detail that the triple baconator nearly made me die in the bathroom?
In the end, I did try four new fast food products. Below are the actual reviews I wrote up for three of them. The fourth I tried was that double-chicken sandwich that KFC made, but I never wrote a review for it. Forgive me for anything that is written beyond this point, and may god have mercy on my soul.
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Remember back a couple of years ago when thousands of people decided to march on Wall Street and protest … something? Well unsurprisingly the actual demand or point of the protest itself is still up in the air. It wasn’t just Wall Street, even our fair city of Orlando had an occupy movement as well. Which, sort of ambled about in a couple of local parks near the Bank of America building downtown. All that seemed to do was draw the ire of local law enforcement and virtually no major reaction from the community. The real party it seemed was over in places like NYC and Berkley where it degenerated quite rapidly into a virtual smorgasbord of police violence. I mean you had so many options to choose from, getting punched, beaten with knight sticks, and my personal favorite mace to the face. For any reason really. Even sitting still, fuck you have some mace. Predictably one of the most famous cases of which, by the way, led to the charges against the police officer being dropped even though there’s video evidence of him just walking along macing everyone in his path with little to no rhyme or reason.
The Orlando Occupy movement, after the national tolerance for the whole affair seemed to wane on it’s facebook page degenerated into the typical collage-hipster dabbling into the whimsical world of communism. Going so far as to quote people like Mao and Stalin, who were, as we all know, paragons of morality and righteousness. Both, having a collective body count that actually beats Hitler’s best estimates almost ten times over. When I think of men to inspire me to greatness, lord knows that’s my first choice every time. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t think that the occupy movement was a bunch of collage communists who got what they deserved. The problem was trying to start a non-movement movement to begin with. The issue with Occupy Wall Street was that it’s greatest strength in the opinion of the people involved was also it’s greatest weakness. You can’t expect people to rally behind a cause when you advertise the real reason for your cause as some vague and esoteric mystery that you are either clued into or are not. As hinted in the movement’s ‘official’ poster:
Try and explain how this poster makes sense, is inspirational, or in any way helps define a major social movement. Go ahead, I dare you.
Click to continue reading “The Occupy Movement’s Goal – The Largest National Mace Demo Ever”
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I’m really on the ball lately. I went over to Opendiary.com to check in on someone, and … website not found. After a quick search on google for what the issue could be, I found out that about three months ago the site had shut down for good. Which, to me, kinda sucks. You see, for a while I’d been wanting to get back into writing non-serious and semi-personal stuff on a regular basis so I was considering, after a near 12 year absence of going back to to my roots and keeping a blog there once again. Since, well, it’s kind of where I got the idea in my head to be a writer in the first place. Since I’ve been in somewhat of a slump, I thought it might do some good.
Then a thought occurred to me. In the entire time I posted there I think that I did everything in my power not to talk about myself at all. I’d talk about politics, conspiracy theories copy-pasted from TOTSE (a big conspiracy BBS website that has since gone the way of the dodo much like this article’s namesake), post random humor, etc. All to avoid talking about what pretty much everyone else talked about on the site, their actual lives and feelings. In a way I was sort of a wanna-be guru and emotional voyeur, because I didn’t really understand emotions and mundane day-to-day experiences or at least insofar that I could articulate my own in a way I felt anyone would actually care to read them. Frankly, the whole persona I projected was one big fat lie. An act, if you will.
During that time, I think I was utterly incapable of being any different. My goal in coming back was to get in contact with all the people I used to talk to and read that I could, and this time, try to relate to them and more so, be honest about myself and actually convey my real personality. Well, at least that was the plan. As now the site is kaput, plans change. After debating with myself a little over what to do and waxing philosophical about the change in circumstances this will have to do. To all the people that I’ve known from the Opendiary, inthewire, thewirecutters, and places in-between on the interwebs: thank you for supporting me and for reminding me many times over the years that my self-defeating pretenses I use sometimes to justify being a hermit are plaintively false. This goes double for Jeen and I hope you’re still out there. I’ve always been terrible about keeping in touch but times change and I’m determined to make the effort to no longer isolate myself.
Part of this effort is that from now on I will update this website, once a week with the usual wide range of content.
So this is goodbye to the opendiary internet saga that I was embroiled with for so many years, there’s no going back to then anymore or making up for mistakes. So be it. This will be the last time I bring this stuff up. Consider the subject closed. Time to move on.
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I’ve been working on a segment in the rough draft of Monolithic Horizon that deals with Artificial Intelligences. A.I. tends to show up in virtually every genre of science fiction, but I was thinking slightly beyond that, what about an A.I. that isn’t built with specific limits, something that grows and learns without any end in sight. An endlessly self-writing A.I. that is programmed specifically without any limits. When examining any technology there is always room for improvement and expansion. I believe that true A.I. is not just likely, it’s inevitable. I also believe that it is only the beginning. In Monolithic Horizon, I wanted to explore what the next stage would be like, so here’s a rough version on the back story of the unnamed Adaptive Intelligence the Commission dubbed ‘Blackout.’
Click to continue reading “Adaptive, Not Artifical.”
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