Phriday Stunt, First Attempt

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.)

Phast Phiction Phriday

Oh, this is just pathetic. I ask the entire Intarweb for submissions, and it's as quiet as a funeral in here.


Since you bastards won't help me get over stage fright, I'll have to do it on my own. Little fiction bit(s) to be posted here in a few hours.

If you like it, tell a friend, and write something nice as a comment. If you don't like it, have the common fucking decency to offer a little constructive criticism for improvement. I do want to get better at this, y'know.

See you lot in an hour or two. Both of you.

Attention: possible LJ stunt this Friday, to be performed without safety restraints

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'  Remember, that's zack DOT bishop AT Gmail DOT com.

Make with the typey, peoples.

I am in awe of R.K. Milholland's work.

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.

That is all.

New Mythos Tome

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 "" 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. 

Excellent things about my present situation.

1. No firewall at work. None. Nil, nada, zilch. I am connected once more to the vast and uncensored web.

2. Pay is slightly better than previously. And at my income level, every little bit helps.

3. None of my co-workers obviously hate me. Any hatred is kept submerged below a pleasant facade of professionalism.

4. They may want me to stick around on a permanent basis. Which might be nicer than I thought.

5. I've started eating properly (restricted carbs and saturated fat) and am exercising again, and it actually works: I've lost two pounds, and am within twenty or so of the ideal weight the authorities say I should have. This has other benefits: I sleep better, and find my writing and drawing are more productive.

Addenda: A comic book I'm scripting -- chronologically the first project I committed to out of the three on my plate -- gets the final massage to its outline this very evening, and scripted pages will be forthcoming this weekend. This fills me with joy, since the guy drawing it has pro-level artistic chops. We'll be taking it Comicon 2006 in San Diego next summer.

If somebody really, really likes it, I may get asked to write something else. Possibly (long shot) for money. Potentially (be still my beating heart, for I know that such fantasies only torture a poor prisoner and wage slave like myself) for enough money to quit my day job and write full time.

I have to stop now. My insides feel all hurty with hope.

Attention: updates in the life of Zachary X. Bishop

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-are-totally-committed) interview.

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.

Completely Offtopic, part 0 of X (Foreword)


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:

  • To act as a warm-up exercise before more substantial pieces of writing.
  • To see how entertaining I can be to a random -- and likely quite small -- audience.  Feedback is strongly encouraged.
  • To improve skills with prose.  I tend to write waaaaayy too much on the wordy side.  "Pithy" is better than "Tristram Shandy Reborn."


So, um.  Yeah.  Likes, dislikes, whatever.  Just comment it all; you know the drill.  First piece to come shortly.

Shamelessly stolen from

You may have already seen this.  If not:


Five terrible fake LiveJournal memes

  1. If you had to go through my trash and pick one discarded item to represent how you felt about my butt, what would it be?
  2. If I were a piece of food caught in your teeth, would you pick me out? What kind of food would I be? Would I be delicious even after I’d been trapped between your molars since lunch?
  3. If the two of us were naked in a phone booth and we both had to fart really bad, how would we bring it up? Who would fart first, and would it smell like flowers?
  4. If I were a tumor, where would I be on your body? How long would it be before I metastasized to your liver?
  5. Please post the compliment you think I would most enjoy hearing about myself. Now, do this every morning.

original at

[Yes, it's been awhile since I've posted.  I had, um, stuff to do.  Yeah, that's it.  Stuff.]