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The Power of the Bison - Or How to Fail Art Class

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. 

So floofy…

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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OC Do Not Steal: The Bizzare Cult of Sonic the Hedgehog

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.

*elevator music*

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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The Streets of Rhy'din: A Journey Into The Whimsical World of AOL Chatroom Roleplay

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Every female character is a badass battle maiden who don’t need no man with massive heaving tits and a seemingly endless libido.
  4. 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.
  5. Everyone either wears all black hooded outfits, billowing capes, or some sort of celestial battle armor forged by Jesus.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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::
  10. 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.

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Failed Article Ideas: Fast-Food Suicide

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.

Pros:

– Could be humorous.

– Could serve as a warning.

– Could deter sales of certain fast-food products.

Cons:

– 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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The Occupy Movement’s Goal – The Largest National Mace Demo Ever

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:

What in the fuck.

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.

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Open-Closed Diary

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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Adaptive, Not Artifical.

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.’

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Where the hell have I been?

I honestly couldn’t tell you.

A few nights ago I was standing in my kitchen, in my underwear, eating a Hot Pocket… going through a mental catalog of my life up to this point.   The last thing I accomplished, ever, that I can recall was when passed my black belt ceremony for Tea Kwon Do, all those years ago.  Since then, I’ve never bothered or tried to see anything through.  My life at this point, is pretty well… dismal.  I’m 30, I’m broke all the time, and frankly I had about all I could take of it.  I haven’t felt like I was worth anything at all in so long that I had all but given up.  For the past 10 years of my life I have done absolutely nothing, and I don’t say that to get pity or even a thought of ‘oh that’s not true!’  I say it because it’s the truth.  I know myself, I know what I’ve been doing and I have NOT been trying.  I’ve been floating along hoping that things would just magically ‘work out’ and waiting for a sign or something to get motivated.

I wanted to feel that … high I got from actually getting that belt.  I was so proud of myself, because it was so hard for me to do.  The training and all the times the instructors yelled at me and all the bumps but they always believed I could do something with my life.  They believed in me, just like a lot of my friends, and acquaintances over the years have, but the one person who didn’t was the one person who actually counted.  Me.  I have done a very good job over the years convincing myself that I wasn’t that good, that I wasn’t that smart, and that I would never be able to do anything big again.

For the past 10 years, I’ve wanted more than anything to write a book.

For the past 7 years the book has been in this perpetual re-write limbo where I throw out everything and start over.

For the past 5 years I’ve done nothing at all with it but sit around.

I want to finish something again, I want to do it so bad and for the first time in a long time I’ve managed to identify the source of my problem.  Distractions.  I always get wrapped up in a game or website or project of some sort that’s supposedly more fun than the ‘work’ of writing.  Where has that gotten me?  I’ll tell you.

Standing alone, in my crappy apartment, at 1 am eating a god damn hot pocket in my underwear.

I just… can’t do this anymore.  I’m motivated to finish this god damn book once and for all.  I’ve begun the process of re-compiling all my written material, all the re-writes, all the extra and miscellaneous notes and bits.  I’ve discovered an easy way to publish and distribute this book, and I am setting for myself an artificial deadline for the first draft.  December 25th.  I can’t think of a better Christmas gift to myself than to get the book sent off for it’s first ever editing.

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Honest Goodbye

A couple of weeks ago, my grandfather died. Which has brought not a fullsade of sorrow, tears, and grief as one would expect given the apocalyptic overtones of mortality manifesting itself in one’s life. What it has done to me, is make me think about the ramifications of his life and how it’s been like a specter lingering always over the lives of the family long before his demise. Meaning that, he’s almost always been in the background silently overseeing and moving events in the lives of my family for years. With him gone, nothing feels the same in those households, and they never will again given the unique position of the family hierarchy which was extremely dependent on him to handle everything.

He had to deal with a wife who was becoming increasingly aloof and difficult as she grew older, two adult children who’s marriages ended and forced a semi financial co-dependance on him, and four grand children. One dangerously close to an alcoholic, one with some serious anger and stress issues, one who gave him a great great grandchild, and one who did nothing but fight him tooth and nail for years over everything and anything. Guess which one I was.

All of us, at some point, needed him to get through some tough times, and in spite of the fact that it cost him his retirement to take in our family when my father ran out, he did what he could do to ensure we made it. It may not have been a perfect relationship, and we may not have agreed at times, but I never hated him. The man was selfless, and was the closest thing to a father I’ve had in my adult life. My mother would not have been able to survive taking care of four kids on her own after my father ran out on us when I was twelve, opening old wounds for me because of my adoption and the obvious subtext that implies. She was incapable of normal work due to severe arthritis, so my grandfather helped her get a place for me and my brothers.

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A Hell-Ride in the Trust Me Car

There was a time in my life, when I had a near-death experience.  Though there was no tunnel of light, and the ghosts of my loved ones to greet me or anything quite as dramatic as that.  Since I did not actually achieve cardiac arrest, thankfully due to the fact that fortune smiled upon me.  For once.

Several years ago, I used to work for a small-time computer wholesaler, and one of my co-workers was this Russian guy named Dmitri.  Dmitri’s family was originally from Moscow, they fled the soviet bloc in the 90s due to the political changes taking place and the sudden dramatic rise in the crime rate and corruption, as well as the higher cost of living.  That’s all I really knew of his family’s situation.  Dmitri himself seemed to wax nostalgic about the good-ole days growing up in Russia.  He said ‘it wasn’t that bad.’  He was semi-built, but shorter than me by about seven or eight inches, had brown hair center-part and almost shoulder-length, to give you an idea what he looked like.

Dmitri and I actually had no reason to get along, he was my opposite in terms of what he did for fun and what his hobbies were. He tended to like really heavy rock and metal, either screaming lyrics or dumb shit like Saliva.  You know, the guys responsible for that obnoxious ‘click-click boom’ song.  He was also a car enthusiast, and would often tell me about his car, which was a Mazda RX-7.   One time giving me a ride in his, he managed to achieve a speed of about ninety five miles per hour on the highway adjacent to our building.  A ballsy move considering the speed limit was only forty five. Often these fairly one-sided conversations were about the supposed superiority of rotary engines to the standard, and he would often download engine sounds and play them at me, explaining the differences in great detail.  To me all I heard was a bunch of obnoxious and loud noise, but his eyes seemed to light up with excitement every time, which I never understood why.  In addition he had a tendency to really like clubs, and drinking.  Especially drinking.

What we had in common was twofold.  First we hated the working conditions we had to put up with at our place of employment.  The wages were low for the technicians, even though not everyone could do what we did, but the sales people made about a thousand a week.  We were barely making three hundred.  We were working for Chinese Jews though, so perhaps some stereotypes can be true on occasion?  To give you an idea, the owner was this old Chinese lady, who sat in an office filled with gold and jade statues and wall-hangings, behind a massive mahogany desk that had to at least have cost a small fortune because the top was surfaced with a jade slab.  She would pull us in this office and tell us how they could not give us raises whenever we asked for better pay.  I myself, worked there for almost four years without even a slight pay increase.  They probably still wonder why I stopped showing up on time.

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Flame Town Adventures