Archived entries for me

The Curio.

One of my better ideas, if I have to be honest.

Here’s what I said about it almost two years ago when I first started poking at it:

It’s the story of a college kid who inherits this building. But it’s wrong, you see. The building is wrong. The inside is way too big to fit in that squat gray building. There’s a ballroom, a whole library and the dozens of bedrooms. It probably doesn’t help that the building was willed to the kid by crazy uncle Franz, who no one had seen in years, and no one could ever remember having the financial where with all to own any sort of property, let alone a freestanding building in a fashionable college part of town.

It turns out that mad old Uncle Franz wasn’t so crazy after all. He was an Esoteric. A member of the Community of Esoteric Scientists. Or in layman’s terms – he was a mage. A practitioner of the arts and sciences that the rest of the world chose to forget about. And the Curio was his responsibility to the Community. One that he chose to shirk. And with his death, the Curio has passed on to his chosen heir, our college kid. To the Esoterics, the Curio is place of sanctuary. Here they can gather safely, research their experiments, restock their supplies and rest their heads after a long journey.

So now the main character has had all sorts of bizarre responsibility thrust upon him, in addition to his student work and other relationships. He finds himself straddling two worlds, and the only people who know what’s going on are his girlfriend and football player best friend. Both of whom came with him that first night he visited the Curio.

I’d even lined up the amazingly talented Christian Schmitt to draw the thing (I think you can still see a few of his preliminary sketches for The Curio there) . But then we thought about it, and decided that maybe an open-ended comic was a bit much to take on. So, we shifted over to The Pineapple Primary. Then he moved off to the frozen North and vanished into an all-consuming work schedule. And my harddrive went boom shortly after, taking the finished script for the piece with it.

Time passed, I’d run into Christian every now and then when he was back in town, we’d laugh about the whole thing, have a few drinks and that would be that.

This Saturday was another one of those times, but something was different. He’s moved back to somewhere in one of those “I” states where he’s helping with his father’s carpentry business. So, I asked him if he thought he might have the time to work on anything. And he said he did. I asked him if he wanted to revisit The Curio idea. And he said he did.

Just like that, here we are again. Me dusting off old files full of half-thought through notes, him disappearing back to another frozen North.

Except this time we’ve done things a bit differently. Instead of me giving out all the content, we’re going to build it up together. We’re going to talk about the place, the people, the world for a very long time before we start into the writing proper.

I’ve never done anything this way before, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Title: White Sister of the Alleyway

Word: Immaculate

200 words about the new religion for the sinners on the street:

The wicked, the lost, the suffering. They all come to me. Those that God has turned His back on, who make their wage dealing in sins. These are my children, clutching at my robes, looking for protection.

Saying their private prayers to the Saint of Death.

My shrine is a secret place, hidden in the alley between the florist and the butcher. From here, I keep watch over those that have fallen through the cracks.

A cartel soldier asking me to bless his guns so he might come home safe. A prostitute praying that this abortion will be her last. A drug dealer pleading that his son will never know what his father does. An addict overdosing at my feet, begging me for comfort. A group of runaways stealing the apples and sugar skulls from my altar, gifts freely given so they might see another day.

Across the favela market sits another idol. That immaculate whore, cursing me and my children to her Father, whispering to her partitioners that my children are worshipping the Devil.

And maybe they are right. Maybe I am a devil. But better a devil than a Father who will not comfort His crying, suffering children.

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I’m cheating a bit with this one. My submission well has run a bit dry, so I’m just making up titles and picking interesting words out of my iTunes track list to use with those titles.

Title: Intravenous Electric Fire

Word: Metastatic

200 words the dark side of the bright and shining future:

Sitting in the hospital bed, looking up at the neon lights, she felt horrible.

How could she have been so stupid? They’d been warning her against experimenting since she was a child. “This is your I/O port. This is your I/O port fried.” the old ads used to say.

Too late for her now, though. She’d Buzzed, and was the one in a thousand that couldn’t take it. Her friends told her it would be cool, to jack up the gain on her implant, to really feel the pulse of the signal. And while it lasted, it was.

It also caused a metastatic feedback loop in her autonomic nervous system. Hard locking it like a computer. Slowly, but surely, it would spread up her brain, destroying the parts that made her, her.

They could always take her chip out, save her life. But could you really even call that life? She’d be separated from the social neural networks, her friends would completely forget about her. If she couldn’t let her consciousness auto respond to emails while she slept, no company would hire her. She’d be socially and professionally isolated.

A technological cripple in this bright and shining future.

Follow this link to offer up more suggestions.

Pat and I are working on this Noir/Fantasy idea, which I think we’ve named Concrete Arcanum. And while Pat is horribly busy climbing to the heights of the video game industry, I am left to stew on ideas for said magical book of concrete.

I’m toying with the idea of working on a collection of short stories for the world using our protagonists, Thomas and Niat. I’ve also resolved to spend the first 15 minutes of each day doing some creative writing/brain storming. Conveniently, the two fit together perfectly.

And what does that mean for you? It means that you get to see my commonplace notes for Concrete Arcanum.

You lucky dog, you.

  • Rust monsters, etc used to dispose of trash at a dump site. Something goes wrong?
  • Vampires in schools. Mother is pimping her vampire child to keep other children/moms eternally young.
  • Dealing with the paperwork aftermath of a bunch of adventurers destroying a building. Play off of Die Hard. They are the classic D&D adventuring group. The “bad guys” are a legally recognized corporation of undead. Dungeon crawling in a sky scraper where the treasure legally belongs to some one else.
  • Illithid showing up sick in emergency rooms. Realize it is coming from them eating drug addicts, which leads them to a new kind of drug.
  • Bard using his skills to knock an audience out/charm one of them backstage to rob them.
  • The Trees in the city park go on strike. Their marching is understandably destructive.
  • Dragon attack. Straight up old school dragon attack. Except this time it’s doing strafing runs down the Avenue of the Americas (or our equivalent). Very 9/11 rescue worker vibe to this. Your life being hurt by something beyond your control.
  • Werewolf pack moves into suburban town. Pets start to go missing, people start to get pissed. Parallel to African American families moving into all-white neighborhoods, but also mix in the current aspect of Mexican families moving into depressed housing markets. Turns out the whole thing is actually a group of local teenagers experimenting with the Dark Arts.
  • Trans-species sex scandal. Options for this are near limitless. Orc + Halfling. Elf + Troll. Human Male + Human Male. Oh, wait…

Here’s the video from the talk I gave last week about Nerd Rapture.

I wish they’d have inter-cut the slides so you could see what I was yelling about, but whatever.

I honestly have no memory of what happened once I started the talk. Muscle memory or something took over and I just ran through my paces until that last slide ticked over. Had a blast with it, though.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions. The talk is fast and without the slides, you’re probably missing a lot.

Wouldn’t kill me to lose a few pounds, would it?

Don’t answer that.

I’m putting MAGICTOWN on hold for a bit. Which probably isn’t surprising anyone who’s noticed that my output of chapters has once again crawled to a halt.

But, that’s not to say that I’m not doing anything with it. In fact, I’m working on it more than I have in maybe the last two months. I’m just not publishing any of it.

The plan is to finish the damn thing, package it for serialization, and put up a seamless run from where we are now to the end. Hopefully, kicking off around the start of the new year.

October is MAGICTOWN month, November is National Novel Writing Month. Between the two of them, if I can’t finish the last half of this book, I don’t deserve to ever call myself a writer.

Not that I do now, mind you.

If you can’t make it out tonight to see me try to maintain sobriety before going on stage to give my talk, you can stream the whole thing here:

This image pretty much sums up all you need to know.

Well, that and if you’re in the audience you should take a drink every time I say “Internet Space Jesus”.

It’ll be a hoot.

Here’s the skinny.

I’m the closer at the first Ignite Memphis this Tuesday, Oct 12th.

What’s Ignite, you’re asking? Honestly, I haven’t the foggiest. But here’s what the Ignite Memphis people are saying on their website.

Ignite is a fast-paced geek event started by Brady Forrest, Technology Evangelist for O’Reilly Media, and Bre Pettis of, formerly of MAKE Magazine. Speakers are given 20 slides, each shown for 15 seconds, giving each speaker 5 minutes of fame. The event has become an international phenomenon, with gatherings in Helsinki, Finland; Paris, France; New York, New York; and many other locations.

Yeah, I don’t know who or what any of those people are, either. I’m sure they are all very important and very skilled at making The Good.

What I do know is that some cool people here in Memphis have decided to do this cool thing, and they’ve foolishly generously decided to let me be apart of it.

My talk is going to be called “The Technological Singularity – Nerd Rapture”. And I’m basically going to take up 5 minutes of your life talking about what Nerd Rapture is, why people think it is going to happen, and then tell you why it probably isn’t but this is a good thing to think about.

I promise to do the whole thing with a twinkle in my eye, and mischief in my heart. (But still tell you what I aim to.)

The full list of people is as follows:

Ignite Speakers

1) Kerry Crawford — Mix Tape
2) Tyler White — Is Google Making Us Stupid
3) Gwyn Fisher — My Big Fat Failure
4) Cardell Orrin — Confessions of a Reformed Non-Voter
5) Michael Synk — The Three Most Important Pages in Business Literature from the Past 20 Years.
6) Brad Silver — Biomarkers and the Personalized Medicine Frontier
7) Dave Barger — Tribes
8) Mark Hakett — Crisis in Our Water


9) Matt Beickert — Can we talk?  The history of media and why it’s still so damn hard to communicate.
10) Joe Leibovich — Improv Comedy is Serious Business
11) Brian Stephens — Data on Consolidation in Other Cities
12) Rhonda Perciavalle — How your lifestyle can change your genetics.
13) Eric Robertson
14) Josh Bell
15) Jim Pohlman
16) Zachary Whitten- The Technology Singularity AKA The Nerd Rapture

I love how they put me last and Kerry first. It’s like they know everyone is going to come see her, and they’re crossing their fingers that everyone is gone before I get up there and start yelling about AI, nanotech and mutable future.

Anyway, time for full details.

Ignite Memphis
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
7pm – 9:30pm
Playhouse on the Square
Tickets are $15 and available online here, or at the door.

Or…here’s the thing…I can get you the hook up.

Leave me a comment on this post (using a valid email) saying that you’ll be at Ignite, and I’ll send you a coupon code for half off.

Even if you don’t give a shit about me or think that the Singularity is just another Internet craze (more or less correct), the rest of the presenters will rock out, too. Kerry, Joe and Dave are all awesome at what they do. I don’t know the rest, but I’m sure they are equally kick ass.

Hope to see you there.

Title: The Last Light
Word: Windswept

Submitted by Laurel.

200 words about the last moments of a cosmonaut:

That annoying pinging had started up again. It was the O2 sensor this time. He flicked the switch under the warning light, extinguishing it and silencing the noise.

If he was going to die, he certainly wasn’t going to go out listening to that damned racket.

His mind slipped back to Baikonur, listening to one of Korolev’s endless mission briefings. To his left, the pretty boy, Gagarin, was chatting up one of the female stenographers. He looked out the windows to his right, across the endless windswept grass of the steppe. It was an alien world compared to the evergreen forests of his home in the west.

It was the scientists on the ground, the vaunted Chief Designer and his men, they’d gotten the trajectory wrong. They’d shot him too far, and his orbit had gone elliptical. His tiny spaceship was speeding up with each pass around the globe, and soon it would slingshot into space.

He coughed, and was back in the capsule. Just in time to see the sun vanish behind the Earth. And for the first time there was doubt in his mind.

About which would be the first to give out – his oxygen, or his orbit.

Follow this link to offer up more Fast Fiction suggestions.

I’m having trouble spitting out as much content here as I’d like. Brain’s just felt empty as of late. Can’t really put my finger on why, it just has.

So, to try to kick some life into the old thing, as well as keep my fingers moving, I’m going to start…I’m loathe to say reviewing…commenting on the media I consume. Which is, honestly, a lot.

I’m going to try to think of a humorous name for the thing, and try to keep the overall tone funny and light and free of jargon.

We’ll see how this goes, yes?

Title: The Front Lines
Word: Purity

Submitted by Laurel.

200 words about the last night together:

They had finished all of the good wine in the house, and the last scraps of the magnificent roast duck were being eyed by the cat.

For their part, they had retired to bed but had not gone to sleep. They were not yet married, but she had give her purity to him. After all, what did it matter. He would be back in the spring, they would be married and all of this war foolishness would be behind them.

The bed dressings were now more on the floor than the bed. And the two of them were intertwined in a human knot.

The closet door was slightly ajar. And they could feel the presence of the things inside. His uniform, neatly pressed and swaying on a hanger, his stuffed rucksack below, and his rifle leaning against the closet wall.

“I don’t want to go.” He said.

“I know.” She replied.

At the train station the next morning there were hundreds, thousands, of men just like him. It was raining a dull, gray, cold rain. The raindrops mixing in with the tears of every mother, wife, daughter or sister that would never see their sons, husbands, fathers or brothers again.

Follow this link to offer up more Fast Fiction suggestions.

Late last week, Pat reminded me about this project called 48 Hour Longshot Magazine (they got sued by the TV show, don’t ask). The concept is simple: create a magazine from start to finish in 48 hours. Post a theme, all content is due 24 hours later, and then 24 hours after that, a print on demand magazine is posted for sale.

This time around, the theme was Comeback.

Here’s what they said about it.

Interpret it how you want. After all, comebacks are morally neutral. Disgraced politicians, the Taliban, and Whooping Cough have all come back. But beautiful babies have too, their little kumquat hearts restarting just in time.

You can come back from anything, even death.  This is a hilobrow concept. Sports teams stage comebacks. Skirts stage comebacks. Ideas stage comebacks. Even Lassie. Lassie always comes back home again. It is all theater, in a way, with very specific requirements. The preconditions are forever the same: you have to lose before you can win; it has to vanish before it can return; you must have faith.

Maybe some comebacks don’t seem so serious to you. What is significant about a basketball team coming back from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to win? It reminds us to hope. What is meaingful about the fashionability of the length of a skirt? It’s in the mechanics. Inch by inch, we get to witness change. It may seem like you’re analyzing hem lines, but they are just a stripped down and convenient model for how the world happens.

And there’s another definition, too. (Your mama probably knows it.) Maybe one time, someone said something to you that was real mean, and as you stood there, stinging, the most perfect retort rose into your brain and flew out of your mouth. It landed flush, and your opponent was staggered. You walked away proud, even though you don’t like violence. There are those comebacks, too.

About the only thing that unites all these things is that the best comeback is the least statistically probable. Comebacks are a reminder that weird stuff happens in the world! Norms are made to be deviated from.

So what did I do with that?

The nerdiest fucking thing possible. I wrote about game design and video games. Specifically about fungibility. A term that refers to how easy it is in a game to jump from last place to first, or fall from first to last. A metric of flexibility, sort of. I started writing Friday night, conked out around 1 or 2, woke up and finished the bit, shipping it off to Longshot at around 11am local time.

At about 11:10 local time I decided what I’d written was probably just a nerd game theory wankery and went on with my weekend.

But, low and behold, about 28 hours later, guess who’s name crawled up on the list of accepted submissions.

What? No. Mine, you assholes.

And here I am on page 24 of Longshot Magazine, #1.

I’m curious to see what they’ve done with my bit, because it looks like they’ve copy edited it down by about 300 words. And that’s probably a good thing.

So, yeah. There you go. My first published work.

If you want to buy it (which all of you should, the project looks awesome, I’m probably the low point of the whole thing), you can find it here.

I know a lot of you are printheads. This is the sort of project you should be looking at. Using new media to make relevant and interesting old media.

The sky is so blue outside. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, it isn’t skin searingly hot.

22 of us, in custom-made action hero t-shirts, went to see The Expendables this weekend.

I’m sorry, moving going audience, we’re the reason you can’t have nice things.

Title: The Green Docket
Word: Juice

Submitted by Shane.

With this, I wanted to play with structural things. Dialog, bizarre formatting, etc. And I’ve been pushing hard on a bunch of new things that I needed a break from. FastFictions are perfect for that.

200 words about coming to terms with what you’ve done:

“This’ll never work, you know. Some one will catch on. It’s gotten to big, there are too many people involved. Secrets like this don’t keep.”

Here we go again.

“Oh will you shut up? You worry like a fucking fourteen year old girl. Boo-hoo, will he ever call me? Boo-hoo, will people find out what we’re doing? Of course they will! And so long as we hold our shit together – you hold your shit together – we’ll be fine, be protected, when it all comes out.”

I’m almost to my breaking point.

“We promised them free energy! Green energy! And we lied through our teeth, smiling like snake oil salesmen when we took their money.”

He never had the backbone for what we’re doing.

“So long as we keep giving them the juice, they aren’t going to give a damn where it comes from. And you know it. People are greedy. Greedy and selfish. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a Walmart in every town in America. ”

Was too much of a hero.

“I just wanted to change the world. Make it better.”

Too much of a dreamer.

“Hey. You did.”

Need to remember to make it look like an accident.

Follow this link to offer up more Fast Fiction suggestions.

What happens when you invite people over to a pizza party, giving them the simple, but vague direction of “bring some toppings”?

Pure awesome, that’s what.

PS: Avocado on a pizza is better than it has any right to be. It is like plant foie gras. So good.

Posted via email from brainreleasevalve’s posterous

Been wondering what’s going on with my other site, The Great and Secret Thing?

We’ve been busy rebuilding it from the ground up to make it easier for the user to find content on, and then vote on what they like best. In a few weeks we’ll be rolling out new user tools for anyone what wants to contribute to the site.

Here’s part of what I said about the new design:

The redesign itself was done by Laurel Amatangelo, and coded by me off of the WP-NewsMag theme. The last design of the site was about old libraries, hidden tomes, and secrets. This one is about a dusty, traveled letter, read, reread and passed through many hands. We’re still The Great and Secret Thing, but we’re no longer gnostic in our secrets. Now it is all about sharing each of our secret talents with the world.

Hope you all like the new site, I know I do.

Oh, and go vote for some stuff.

You have men like Richards, Stark and Pym, but you haven’t cured AIDS and no one is living on Mars. That is more villainous than anything I can think of.

Working on a comic idea that centers around a reformed child genius super villain trying to make the world a better place by actively applying the talents of super villains in a way that will get them to personally invest in the betterment of mankind. Think THUNDERBOLTS, but instead of them using their powers for combat, they use their power for civic improvement. The Living Laser powers the entire eastern seaboard. Graviton closes the mouth of an oil spill. Doctor Goodwrench saves the American auto industry. Things like this, the useful application of super human power. All of it juxtaposed against a military-industrial complex that fears him, super heroes that don’t trust him, and personal skeletons that refuse to keep themselves in the closet.

Sort of an Ex Machina for the 616 Marvel Universe.

Trying something new here. I didn’t have time to get a chapter out this week, but instead of filling the space with something completely unrelated, I’m putting up a short character-centric fiction piece. Hopefully, the first in what will ultimately be a series, each focusing on a different character in the book.

In my life before this, I was the stuff of nightmares. Skulking in shadows and sewers, draining the life from innocent people. It was the only thing that made the feeling go away. It didn’t kill them, though. Oh, no, it did something worse.

Walkers are worse than death. Death only kills once. Walkers keep killing.

It is up at The Great and Secret Thing.

Copyrighted. All rights reserved.

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