I haven't been doing much with this journal the past year.
(This is an understatement, really.)
So the idea occurred to me that I could use it as a space for reviews of various media samplings.
|Zack Bishop's Journal
20 most recent entries
I haven't been doing much with this journal the past year.
This LiveJournal entry is simply an update of minutiae in my life, for those who are interested. To avoid cluttering up the pages of those who are bored with such things, I will now place the ugly details behind a cut.
So I miss two Fridays due to overwork and lack of net access at my new job. And what comments do I see asking where I've been when I get back here?
Getting generation-gapped is never fun, but nowadays it's the top of the slope that slides into full-blown future shock. Before you can say "when I was your age..." you're already freaking out. Stay in the now; nostalgia kills.
For those of you just tuning in: Phast Phiction Phriday is a series of stunts I’ve been pulling at the week’s end to do something useful with my LiveJournal, since I almost never update the damn thing and when I do it’s just more ceaseless bitching. Following an avalanche of reader response – all one of him – I’m serializing a novel for the internet over here, like the aborted Listener project Warren Ellis was working on at mistersleepless .
Since I’m still not sure what the novel’s about, the serialization hasn’t properly started yet. What you’ll be getting for a few more weeks are little snippets taken randomly out of a larger work, and hopefully they’ll give a feel for the sort of writing it is/will be. For now, I’m trying to get my fiction chops back and flesh out the characters and plot in my dwindling spare time.
It’s set in a darkly comic near-future, like a number of Warren Ellis’ works. This seems fitting, since his work inspired it. Secondarily, it will also owe a heavy debt to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. Hopefully this will explain why there are people shagging statues and eating particleboard. If people don’t buy the Sci-Fi angle, I’ll just say it’s “Expressionist,” or “Magical Realism.” I am fully prepared to deny everything under oath. Novel? What novel?
It just occurred to me: this may actually be a cry for help. It all depends on how amused you are.
The title of the work in progress is “The Day I Tried To Live.” I use this as a working title for anything I do, because I’m old and I remember Soundgarden with teary nostalgia for the youth I pissed away. Plus, it sounds cooler than “Untitled Work-In-Progress Number 11”
Why I’m doing this: it looks like it might be fun. And by putting it out in public I hope I can force myself to complete things and not abandon them. The other reason for putting things out in public is to get instant feedback on them, which is invaluable for a learner like me.
Which brings us to the bargain: if you like it, mention what worked for you; if you don’t like something, tell me what I can do to improve, or at least identify what you didn’t like about things. And if you laughed or got interested or whatever, link to it, tell people about it, IM someone who might enjoy reading it. I want people to read this; otherwise I wouldn’t have put it out here in the first place. The goal for this week is three unique commentors.
Links to the first two bits:
I have to go for now, because I’m doing this on the sly at my day job and there’s a ton of faxing left to do. But I promise I’ll post 0.3 before midnight local time. I’m committed to amusing you people.
See you in a few hours.2 comments | post a comment
"Sweet Jesus," I said when I entered the restroom, "what the hell did that?"
The old-style toilet had been bifurcated through its middle into two roughly equal chunks, like a cleaved porcelain skull with a moist pile of weird-looking sewage for the gooey organic brainy bits. A few bottleflies batted themselves against the washroom's corners, trying to put distance between themselves and the strange pile of gritty offal, roughly the same volume as a medium kitchen appliance, that had cracked the floor tiles. The odor was a bad chemical approximation of the usual restroom odors, as if a computer had mixed assorted industrial waste to simulate human shit.
I mean, there's digestive troubles. And then there's blowing the fucking toilet in half.
I was stupefied, my full bladder completely forgotten. Trying to rationalize the surrealist tableau in the room was turning me into an H. P. Lovecraft narrator, simultaneously horrified and transfixed. Had I stumbled into an art installation? A nanotech student's project gone awry? In the long seconds of silence and revulsion, a vertical slice of the pile split off like an ice shelf from a glacier of filth, revealing an even more perplexing interior. Buffalo wings, whole with the bone still in. Recognizable -- if compacted -- slices of meat-lover's pizza and four-inch segments of party-size submarine sandwiches, both unchewed. Fragments of particle board. Styro insulation. Translucent silica kitty litter, like Aideen bought for her cat.
The Art Installation Theory was gaining currency. Clearly -- the doublethink I'd swallowed in countless classes at University asserted itself, warming up the bullshit generator for a term paper -- clearly the artist has intended some sort of commentary... overconsumption... modern consumerism and the end products of...
"'Scuse me, man."
The janitor who pushed by me had on a class B hazmat suit, one of the orange and yellow ones they use for body fluids and things that won't dissolve organic material in under an hour. He had the hood up to suck down one long last drag on his Lucky Strike while he muscled a shop vacuum covered with lurid red biohazard trefoils into the stall.
I tried to form coherent sentences while he arranged his safety goggles. "Is -- was there... malfunction... uh?" We stared at each other for a second. His face was deeply-seamed, enough to set his eyes in a permanent squint.
"Kids," he said, dropping his cig into a pool of runny brown liquid that had sluiced from the main pile. It sizzled and sent up dark smoke. "Asshole fraternity bastards load up on Salucept, go to an all-you-can-eat buffet, think it's funny..." His boot prodded the fringes of the pile and I heard the "clink" of a glass bottle scraping on the tile.
And it all snapped into perspective. This was waste produced from one of those high-end replacement digestive tracts. A friend of Aideen's had one, had explained them over drinks a few weeks ago; it was better to get the genuine article from Mitsubishi than to save money on the Brazilian knock-offs, he'd said, because the Brazillian companies were famous for warranty hassles. Mitsubishi's only problem was that they were always "updating" the EULA and the firmware.
Maybe this was one of the reasons for the updates: I could see how an idiot frat rat would turn his appetite up to eleven with a few hundred milligrams of Salucept, then download some script-kiddie bypass for the overeating failsafe on his expensive synthetic intestines to win a bar bet. But what was in front of me... I know that a hard object dropped from shoulder height will shatter porcelain, but was he hoisted up over the shitcan by confederates unknown, or was there a fratboy out there with a hack that turned his rectum into a projectile weapon? I hoped that it hurt the little bastard like molten steel coming out, but the absence of much blood or a fatally-prolapsed twenty-year-old in a banal sports bar T-shirt was spoiling my feeble attempts at optimism.
People ask me why I'm a misanthrope. Here was the reason in microcosm: give humanity a new piece of technology and they will, without fail, search out the most asinine abuses of it. And then surpass them.
The shop vacuum rumbled to life, and then the janitor and I both jumped as a chunk of the pile walked off of its own volition, frightened by the noise. He killed the power to the vacuum and I waited for my heart to start up again.
From the kitty litter strata of the processed shitheap, a furry ball smaller than my fist had staggered out, crusted with garbage. It coughed up yellow gunk, then gave one clear "meow" before it collapsed, justifiably exhausted. The janitor ripped the goggles off in exasperation. "Cocksmoking firey hell," he said as he scooped up the kitten, "not again."
I stormed out of the bathroom, my hatred for the rest of my species rising with the taste of bile in my throat. Usually I don't want to destroy the universe so early in the morning, but the day was off to a bad start.(Copyright 2005, etc. etc. These are preliminary stabs at something longer, trying to find the right voice for it. Rules are as follows: if you liked it, post an encouraging comment and tell somebody about it. If you didn't like it, tell me what I can do to improve. I'm hoping to double the number of unique readers this week, to TWO. Come on, dammit. Write something in the comments. I live to amuse you. 12 comments | post a comment
This Friday, I will attempt another Phast Phiction stunt. Without a net.
I thought that it would be a while before Something Positive topped the latest Eva mishap strips, which (as noted a few posts ago) were jaw-droppingly good.
Via Boing Boing, the Ctulhu-Goatse Fast Fiction by Johannes G. over at monochrom:
Out of the black void of the bloated net I received a hideous JPEG attachment, a single glimpse of forbidden eons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out from this godless email I received. If I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a thing. [link]
Now, this may remind you of something else you've seen recently, possibly on this very journal. But I swear I had no prior knowledge of this (arguably funnier) item above. Just synchronicity.1 comment | post a comment
Varaxamol was a prescription stimulant. When it first came out, the grapevine in the clubs and dance halls and exclusive retreats for devoted pharmaceutical recreationalists reported that Varaxamol (aka 'Purple Stallion', 'Big V', and a host of other pseudonyms) was cocaine in a pill form. Possibly the beta version of cocaine 2.0 with some bugfixes.
After the first few million hits had been purchased, word on the street said that, no, Varaxamol wasn't cocaine 2.0, it was what cocaine did on its days off. After a heady weekend of being snorted, smoked and injected, after a shitty day on the job with coworkers like meperedine, blackball, methamphatamine, or heroin, cocaine liked to unwind with its new buddy Varaxamol and really cut loose.
Coke had plenty of free time these days, what with being in semi-retirement. Coke had come back after the 1980's, had been so popular in London that Her Majesty's Narcotics Force attempted to impound the entire Thames for the street value of all the cocaine-impregnated urine samples flushed into it daily. Fish would swim into the English Channel and then hyperkinetically skim the water for thirty-six hours before dying of heart attacks, making fishing both easier and highly entertaining. Yes, there was a lot of blow going up English nasal cavities before Varaxamol.
Nowadays, any chemical that could be traced to some organic process was thought tainted, a crude Third-World drug undeserving of the name. It comes from a plant? Oh, how Twentieth Century. A general shunning of imperfect chemicals not obtained from a laboratory was the order of the day.
The American FDA pulled the plug on Varaxamol production, and once the formula was reverse-engineered free enterprise took root like a phenomenally high Adam Smith with nasal drip and fucked-up pupils. Thousands of tiny factories in basements and garages, each turning out a few thousand pills a day. The price was lower than alcohol at one point, low enough that schoolchildren could afford it.
Which was where the problems really started; nothing makes teenage life worse than piling all that angst and rage with a topping of chemically altered neurons misfiring and a heart rate of about three hundred beats a minute. The canonical image of the anti-Varaxamol movement was the photo of that fourteen-year-old kid, foam dripping from his mouth, a raging purple-veined hard-on bursting free of rent denim while he tried to rape a bronze statue on the Albert Memorial.
The police said he might have finished the deed, too, on account of his body temperature being that high. That was, they explained, why they needed to shoot him with the tranquilizer gun from the zoo. Twelve times.
Of course, when di-methyl-triptan and Brill and Inanna and Ribosyl came along, people decided that Varaxamol might be a minor vice in comparison.
(Copyright 2005, etc. etc. # of edits: 1. Just noodling with short pieces, but if the public wants something longer, just ask, dammit. Rules are as follows: if you liked it, post an encouraging comment and tell somebody about it. If you didn't like it, tell me what I can do to improve. Make with the typey. Now.)8 comments | post a comment
Oh, this is just pathetic. I ask the entire Intarweb for submissions, and it's as quiet as a funeral in here.
I am mulling over the idea of a Phast Phiction Phriday to close out the end of the week.
This is inspired by the always-entertaining exploits of Mister Warren Ellis, who puts beautiful little pieces of dystopian prose on the web all the time, hidden like outrageous-yet tasty easter eggs. Not a full seven-course-meal of prose, you understand; just little snacks: literary hors d'oeuvres and canapes to snack on and make the day of some web-crawling strangers just that much more bearable. He still puts the good stuff out there for free, too, thereby proving what a swell chap he is and poisoning impressionable young minds the world over.
I have a few ideas that I hope will make for tiny-yet-amusing slices of text, and I'm hoping to solicit some others. Here's the deal:
If at least one other person commits to giving me something to post by noon Friday, I'll put up at least one other piece of my own -- new stuff, comissioned especially for the occasion. These are short-short pieces: 1,000 words or less is the guideline I'm going with. Take a look at the old missives on mistersleepless for the rough format of what I'm going for: pithy, amusing, original, and bizarre. Any format is OK: short narrative, character sketch, fragment from somthing larger. AOK. The Cathcart Zen pieces he did elsewhere (google them, I'm too lazy to link) are also good bits.
Why do this? One, there should always be a fresh fount of Interesting Stuff on the web, and if you're not part of the solution... yeah. Two, I'd like to do something more with this personal corner of the web than bitch about my lack of funds and how much my job sucks. And Three (as an extension of Two), it's be nice for the three or so people who read the things I post to have a reason to link to it or point it out to others.
I may post something here anyway, but if you're looking for stuff that's regularly-scheduled, either send me some stuff to post up with mine so I don't die of stage fright, or post something encouraging so I don't die of embarassment.
Best place to send things for inclusion is my email: zack.bishop over at good ol' gmail.com. Remember, that's zack DOT bishop AT Gmail DOT com.
Make with the typey, peoples.post a comment
And if loving Something Positive is wrong, then damn it all: I don't wanna be right. The latest few strips have been jaw-droppingly good, and they remind me of the first time I saw the inaugural strip (the one with the coathanger) all those years back.
Language: Images, modern English and smatterings of Medieval French
Cthulhu Mythos Gain: +3%
SAN Loss: 1D3/1D4+1
Spell Multiplier: x1
Study Time: 2 months
The file known as "gvin_312.zip" is an oddity among Mythos texts, as no copies are known to exist in a physical printed state, but rumors persist on the web that this unsettling collection of images and documents has resurfaced in digital form. Copies are infrequently spotted on file-sharing networks or posted to chat rooms and message boards; these are almost all hoaxes or drastically incomplete versions. Investigators who actively pursue this file will eventually find reference to an unadulterated version, 35.8 MB in size, with an MD5 checksum of 1f3670be776f6c49b3e61a0c6723467f.
The genuine zipfile, when expanded, contains three subfolders. The first (\backup) is filled with documents for Microsoft Word for Windows 6, coupled with a few dozen text files. These are advanced commentaries on a Medieval French manuscript that is unfortunately not included, though some passages are quoted at length. The absent manuscript apparently describes occult groups engaging in hideous practices beneath the streets of Paris. Comparison of text samples and page references for against Cultes des Ghouls yields no conclusive matches; Investigators familiar with the latter tome notice minor stylistic and topical differences between the two French texts, but agreement on many facts and figures -- it is possible that the writer of one had studied the other. When the modern essays and commentaries are organized by date, a progressive change in the writing style can be seen: scholarly detachment and collegiate grammar give way to lengthy ramblings, run-on sentences, and wild speculations about the source material. The final file is a 6,000 word plaintext document: the author describes his excitement over a "big new big find," then quickly degenerates into recursive and febrile babblings.
The second folder (\new_text) contains a .pdf file: 38 pages of a larger work. No title is given, the pages are numbered 5-43 inclusive, and were apparently scanned in from a 3rd-generation photocopy. This document is in modern English, and the san-serif typeface it is written in dates to 1962, though it was most in vogue in the early-to-mid-seventies. The spelling of such words as "tyre" and "colour" present the closest hints to the author's identity, as names, addresses, and other sections have been redacted with a black marker. The document describes meeting with other "enquirers" in a nameless building, where experiments of an unspeakable nature are described. The tone of the author is rational, scientific, and uncannily clinical -- he describes removing fatty tissue from a restrained and still-conscious human male with the same precision and detachment he uses to record the temperature and time of day. Careful analysis of the unnecessary and disgusting procedures performed uncovers similarities with ghastly rituals analyzed in the Word documents above. Using the two together to reconstruct the complete ritual, it is possible for investigators to learn the only spell of this text, contact ghoul.
The third folder (\ximages) contains the most sensational material in the file, and the one which is most frequently commented on in postings about this item. There are several hundred files here, ranging from ordinary if tasteless pornography to increasingly vile and disturbing graphic files. The most talked-about are the "baby series," 27 high-resolution shots in a delivery room that show a petite woman with a grossly distended abdomen give birth to a monstrosity. Investigators who check extensively to see how this was faked discover no evidence of latex effects, photoshopping or other trickery, and lose 0/1D2 SAN.
The provenance of this file is mysterious in the extreme: the earliest references on the web are of an Iomega Zip disk with the files, circa 1995-1998. The identifying metadata on all files has been meticulously erased. Most sources that reference the correct MD5 checksum agree that the collection was originally the property of a university student named Gavin, but no conclusive evidence has surfaced to identify the genesis of the file.
Those who have come into contact with a genuine copy seem to have difficulty copying and distributing it without mishap, though this may be coincidence.6 comments | post a comment
1. No firewall at work. None. Nil, nada, zilch. I am connected once more to the vast and uncensored web.
Had a really great job on the line, mid-way through September. 50% raise over where I was previously. At a Health Spa. (Read: "free massages.") The agency says "they're committed. It's a done deal. You can call your mother and tell her you got the job."
I am NOT paraphrasing. These are quotes.
Previous gig wants me to stay around an extra two weeks after the end of September. I am advised to tactfully decline, since new job is ready to start that Wednesday. They are hot to trot, yes indeedy.
By Wednesday, the start date has moved. But they are still committed. Absolutely. They just need to see a copy of my resume.
Resume is sent. They want to interview the next week. I interview. Everything goes well, and the HR wonk says she needs me to meet with the guy I'd be working with, "just to make sure your personalities match and everything."
During this interview was the first warning flag: she asks if I've brought a copy of my resume. On paper. Because she hasn't received it yet. The Agency has forwarded it to the Health Spa in email. And she hasn't received it. Despite, you know, meeting with me for an (absolutely-purely-customary-since-they-a
I am later forwarded several email exchanges by the Agency when I enquire about this state of affairs. They read -- and I quote -- "[Zack's] resume looks good. I think we should meet in person." This is not some interdepartmental SNAFU: the quotes text is from the flake I interviewed with. Who, in the space of twenty-four hours, has read my resume, liked it, and then appears to have shaken her tiny little brain like a cheap etch-a-sketch.
But I digress. A meeting must be arranged with the Head Honcho, for whom I will be working. Definitely. Absolutely. No question -- because if any questions were to be raised about me personally, now would be the time to raise them. The Head Honcho is out of town in North Carolina right now, but we just need to arrange a telephone call to conference with each other.
I think you can see where this is going.
A week passes. The agency gets tired of my calling all the time.
The day that I leave my old job, I am informed that the two week extension is no longer offered, and I am now officially surplus-to-requirements.
Monday of first week unemployed: Health Spa finally calls agency! Oh, thank heavens. Must have been pretty busy there, eh?
There's an internal applicant. Who decided at the last minute that he wants my gig, after they've committed to me. Now, an even more senior Head Honcho must make the call, because one department is pushing for the poacher but my resume is a load stronger.
Now I begin to panic. I go on interviews to other places, as I am becoming more and more desperately out of cash. [Large Computer Company] interviews me, says they're moving quickly, and will definitely be with me in three days. To this day, I have yet to hear back from them. Nothing. Not even a "Sorry, we hate you and would rather kill ourselves than employ you." Nothing.
I get an interview with [Large Financial Company], on the same day that I hear that [Health Spa] has (shock of shocks) gone with the less-impressively-qualified internal applicant.
[Large Financial Company] interviews me. They like me. Then they decide not to fill that position after all.
But they like me so much, they interview me again! And eventually go with an internal candidate.
But [Large Financial Company] has a subsidiary! And since the home office loves me so much, thinks I'm just such a swell guy, they want me to interview at the subsidiary.
Who fill the position just before they schedule a date for my interview.
In the meantime, after two weeks of no cash coming in -- weeks that I could have gotten a commitment from the hospital I used to work at, if I hadn't stupidly believed what various corporate entities were telling me in absolute good faith, like the screaming moron I am -- I finally land a temp gig over at a different hospital.
The pay is slightly better than the old gig. By $1.00 an hour. I have calculated that I'll be able to make up the $800 on which I missed out over the preceding two weeks of misery. If I work full time with no absences for twenty weeks.
[Large Financial Company] called back again recently. They want me to interview for a fourth position, but they want to do it bright and early in the morning, and would it be okay if I just came in late to my current gig at a time convenient for them?
But I'm not bitter.1 comment | post a comment
New theory on culture and anthropology: human beings are (in a larger, semi-metaphorical sense) trying to get to Hawaii.3 comments | post a comment
A friend's recent LiveJournal entries, less than a month ago, bemoaned his utter boredom at work. Shortly before I chanced on this, I was mentally moping about my office* at my inability to write anything substantial, my general anomie and sloth in a job that is still far better than what I deserve, and on how few interesting things there were to read after I exhausted my usual newsfeeds and webcomics.
It has occurred to me that I am part of the problem, not the solution. Therefore, I will now experiment with some shorter pieces that I can't find a place for anywhere else in the morass of things that I should be doing.
Goals of project:
So, um. Yeah. Likes, dislikes, whatever. Just comment it all; you know the drill. First piece to come shortly.1 comment | post a comment
You may have already seen this. If not:
Five terrible fake LiveJournal memes
original at http://www.5ives.com/archives/003045.php
[Yes, it's been awhile since I've posted. I had, um, stuff to do. Yeah, that's it. Stuff.]2 comments | post a comment