#a1 *AUDIO* *IMAGE* *LINK* *NM* *VIDEO* 4GET MARARTHON 8FTB AGM Aleph One BS Campaign Celebrities CLIQUE CLIQUE NOTES Co-Op Community Commentary Crude Drawings Declassified Documents ESB Fanfic Fat Sam Flame War Forbidden HFS Hotmodal House of Luck HR INFINITYS I WAS TOO LAZY TO PUT THIS IN A CATEGORY Jokes JUICE JUICEcast JUICEMAN LEET KREW Lists loch Logs Lua meta (meta is the best word ever) Misc. Categories Mnet Music News nits ONE WAY OSH PARADIGM SHIFT People Periodical Pfhorums Policy POTM qoou Serious SERVE MEAT Simplici7y Sites Spirit of the Age Stats Stories The Essentials Theory The Prisoner Typography VISUAL MODE Warhampster Where the Twist Flops अ
June 29, 2008
June 24, 2008
Over the past century society has been forced to come to terms with the rapidly quickening race to what we now refer to as the Information Age. While other basic instruments of permanent communication (paper, printing press, etc.) have been around for a while, it was really radio that sparked the mass dissemination of information we know as pop culture. Radio was something you could flip on while you chatted with your friends or while you cooked dinner, and in retrospect a key part to it was that it was too quick-moving to be pinned down by serious thought in the same way the written word could command and be commanded by intellect. Radio had a mental ceiling, a point past which you would lose the listener, and from radio to television to our grand Internet this limit has gotten steadily more restrictive. Radio and television were still in some sense inaccessible; you had to convince a publisher/producer that what you were doing was worth airing for the masses, and then the sheer number of people involved in the actual production and broadcast was enough both to keep the common man out of the backstage and to keep him tuned in. The Internet, however, has no such barrier; anyone with $30 of free income a month is capable of purchasing the service and sharing his worldview with anyone who cares to listen. Of course, the average person is unforgivably stupid, and so a better word for ‘share’ is maybe something along the lines of ‘spew.’ Luckily the sheer popularity of the device keeps any one voice from being heard too clearly, and instead there is a billion-man cacophony consisting in part of nuanced poetry and in part of advanced mathematics and science — icons of intellectual ability and roots of cultural infrastructure — but the vast majority contains just “lol ^_^” over and over.
This, our Internet, is the stage for an 18-year-old Thai boy who goes by the moniker “assassingao” (though among us proud and few admirers, we prefer to shorthand it as “Gao,” a practice I will use here). The trouble with stupidity is that it isn’t an emotional disability but an intellectual one. The average 18-year-old will not understand a religious argument, but he will still be incensed by it. Gao, however, is much more extreme than this; he is so amazingly, mind-numbingly vacant that he speaks straight from his soul. Indeed, many times he reaches beyond this and touches the soul of the everyman, and many more times he loses all ability to communicate and we see only flashes and fragments of ideas, coated in undecipherable gibberish, a veritable mind-dump of information. It is with this mindset that we must approach his works. Take, for instance, his fanfiction account. The second chapter of his (misleadingly titled) work Trying To Die, reads as:
“He cried. Soon, he laid on his futon. Still crying. A moment later, he drifted to sleep.”
This, right here, is something that everyone in his mid-20s can relate to. It is — it is damn near universal, substituting ‘futon’ for ‘park bench’ or ‘curb’ but keeping the same mode of thought. There is no one who hasn’t been there. Gao is an untapped vein of straight up human experience, and despite both Jon Irons and me pressuring him, he has decided to leave his writing career behind him without much comment. Luckily for us, he wrote his magnum opus of Marathon-related work before abandoning his duty as a human being, and while we regret his decision we are thankful for what we have.
Now, anyone can simply read Gao’s prose (dare I call it poetry?), and so I will try to restrict discussion to reading between the lines instead of discussing the surface material. (I suspect that this will lose steam pretty quickly; while every time I read Gao I find something new, my knowledge is still relatively small compared to the body of work itself, and we will run out of material in short order.) Let’s begin with Gao’s only other Marathon-related work. I’ll give you some time to read; try not to focus too hard on that surface content, look instead for those hidden messages, focus especially on the parts that tend towards nonsense.
First, there’s the comicbook-esque random boldfacing of words, but stringing them together makes it seem a lot less contrived. “Destiny built destiny,” Gao tells us, “it’s wrong.” Then, “dangerous spy tenth mjolnir battleroid,” and we have a working thesis for this piece. (Also, 7 words, plus the 3 from “tenth mjolnir battleroid,” coincidence?) And this at first glance might seem to be gibberish (worse, pulling gibberish out of gibberish), but if there is a God then he speaks through Gao, and this is where we must look if there is meaning to be had anywhere. The other place on the first page that this really turns to white noise is
emotions are same as humans.
If you squint, you can see the inspiration for the introduction of this post.
Here’s the second page. (As an aside: thinking about it now, Gao hasn’t ever really finished a story completely, and it’s possible that the philosophical quips are embedded largely in his introductions, where he doesn’t have to worry so much about the action. We may never know, since we don’t have a serious conclusion to compare against.) Gao spends the majority of this page writing (bad) action, drawing heavily on regurgitated Matrix-style imagery. This truly is the western mind laid bare. The only confusing point is the ending, where it is not clear if Gao fired the shots and his hands are messed up (could easily be heading for Gheritt White) or if Gao only noticed some time later that he didn’t actually fire the shock bolts. My bet is on the latter; it seems more his style based on — well, let’s revisit this point when we’re through with -Untitled-.
For you sorry saps who haven’t read -Untitled-, here’s a link to the relevant Pfhorums thread. Gao leads off by demonstrating utter mastery of the English language:
“Graaawl!” Laid there was the flick’ta, it was alive before it was killed by the marine just a second ago with his fists.
The amount of effort needed to decompose this impressively crafted sentence nearly registers on the Richter scale. Continuing on, we begin to get a feel for the story’s raison d’être; Gao is not interested in the portrayal of the Marine as a God-like figure and has instead put himself in the Marine’s shoes, transforming him into an idiot with a pistol. “Hello!” he shouts at the lifeless computer screen, and we can almost feel the spray of spittle and see the lazy eye. This is a man working with what he has. This is a common man.
Gao is also unafraid of bringing out tough topical items like homoeroticism:
he had sweat all over his body. He can take a lot of heat away from his hardware by just sweating.
The Pfhor are already an established vehicle for human oppression, and here he simply takes that one step farther. That it’s so subtle suggests that Gao himself may not even fully comprehend what he’s written. Here we see the mind of a 16-year-old male coming to grips with a — well, perhaps not a slippery sexuality, but at least one that’s at least a little greasy. Gao in addition makes a play at discussing the moral questions of the classic Man vs. Society struggle with the doppelgänger Marine, a manifestation of the Marine’s rage against his resurrection (since Blake is directly responsible for the creation of the S’acv) and his plans to help the secondary forces intertwined throughout the story. He fights, however, only with Blake, and he is handed his defeat because of it. The message Gao wishes to convey is that no one man is responsible for society’s actions or prahblums, that it is wrong to single someone out as a root cause.
I know that this isn’t really the post you guys wanted; when I speak of Gao it typically goes more along the lines of
thermoplyae: “‘Wake up’ Blake said while punching the marine’s head.”
thermoplyae: gao has clearly had a roommate before
jon_irons: a room mate named genius
thermoplyae: and one morning genius yelled “Wake up!” while it punched him in the head
jon_irons: let’s write a biography
but this is the post you’re getting. Gao deserves to be appreciated for what he’s brought into this world; you hardly need me to point out the funny parts. They are self-identifying. Again, the important point (and this is the point that ties it loosely to loch) is that Gao doesn’t know any better to cloak his thoughts in what he thinks society wants to hear, nor does he know any better to be something other than average. Sure, his work is meant to be enjoyed as it’s written, but it’s important to realize what it is that you’re reading to appreciate it fully. This is more than Gao; it is you and me, and Gao tells us without hesitation or remorse that we are the spittle on the screen.
As a parting gift, here’s an actual, honest-to-God conversation with Gao:
gao: I felt like a brain-dead zombie now
gao: When did it was?
gao: At least, here’s a fact: I never spam with less than one alphabet.
gao: I’m gonna play for a sex
Maybe that connection with loch isn’t so tenuous after all.
(Email Gao to tell him how much you appreciate him.)
I need people to playtest for me. The freeze bug is still in there (I couldn’t even find what causes it), so good luck. Save early and often, I guess. Go here and ask me for the password if you’re interested.
June 23, 2008
<ray>: all you have to do is pay your CLIQUE taxes
…And then it was law.
You may not be able to tell from this simple sentence, but it was implied that I was to have the burden of coming up with the rules for paying the CLIQUE tax. I don’t really think paying the CLIQUE money is a good idea, and I feel terrible for having to come up with the rules and enforce them, but it’s my job. I think you’ll be able to tell from these simple rules that I’m looking out for everyone’s best interests.
First of all, all non-CLIQUE members must pay taxes to the CLIQUE members. However, CLIQUE members that pronounce it (or have pronounced it) as “kleek” do not get any of the money. The money that would have gone to them goes to me (Again, sorry).
The amount of money you owe is based on several things, so pay attention. We will be checking everyone’s tax forms and people that don’t pay will…well no one’s ever been stupid enough not pay up.
You start with the base amount. This is a flat rate of $50 + $100 dollars for every month after January 1st, 1990 that you weren’t alive. Then you add an amount based on how often you visit the #alephone chatroom. If you are there less than 11 hours a day, you pay $10 for every hour you weren’t there. If you are there for 13 or more hours in a day, you pay $10.50 for every hour you were there. If you were there from 11-13 hours in a day, you pay $20,000 for every second it took me to write this.
If you don’t want to pay the CLIQUE tax, the only way out of it is to collect the amount owned by 100 people that aren’t in the community and give it to me.
I hope you realize that these rules were carefully thought out, and that your interests are what matter to us most. Have a good day.
(If you did not like this post, you will have to double your CLIQUE tax).
I’m guessing that most gamers write at least one specimen of fan fiction in their lives. In the Marathon community, this usually takes the form of the terminals on a new scenario. However, there are some traditionalists who express themselves through the time-honored medium of print. The Marathon Fan Fiction Archive is the de facto home to these pieces, with other fringe sites like the Marathon section of Fanfiction.net and, occasionally, our own Pfhorums providing additional material.
With those places in mind, I’m going to point out several pieces, explaining their strengths and weaknesses as I go along.
Note: I will not be discussing any of Assassingao’s work here; the only person well-studied enough to explain his deep and often confusing prose is Thermo, and we’ll just have to hope he gets to work soon.
SPOILER ALERT: this entry might give away critical plot details. Don’t read past the synopses if you want to discover the stories on your own!
Synopsis: an unexpected crossover, mixing Marathon with my favorite science-philosphy masterpiece, The Matrix. A lowly worker on the starship Marathon must question his existence when a black-vinyl-clad woman interrupts his reveries…
My thoughts: What can I say? I’ve been waiting for a Matrix crossover since I saw the film in 2000. Bonilla handles the transition well, creating a sense of continuity and—yes—wonder that I think Double Aught strove for (but never achieved) in their flawed chef-d’oeuvre Infinity. Eloquent writing is mixed with glimpses into the improbable, fantastic realm of a shared Matrix/Marathon universe. The temporal looping, the circular nature of the story, succeeds where Infinity failed. Never before or since have I wished so much that someone would create a scenario based on a relatively short story like this.
“To whom is she talking to?” I wandered. Was this an insane girl, even by terrorist standards?
“Everything is back the way it should be,” I said to myself and I reached for my pocket computer to start this recording. I do not know if somebody is going to hear this, and if they do, what their reaction will be. To be honest, I do not care… The terminal is ringing. I have nothing else to say.
Synopsis: Tau Ceti has received an upgrade. Humanity has advanced as far as Tau Ceti III, home of a dangerous breed of parasites that has been contained on the science deck of the Joyeuse. But will the containment last long when the the artificial intelligence Phobos begins to think for himself?
My thoughts: “Phobos Rising” takes an old concept and makes it new again. In this case, it’s a peek into the mind of a soon-to-be-rampant AI. But this is no mere copy of Durandal. While the venerable Sword of Roland unleashed his—and the cyborg’s—powers for selfish gain, the intelligence named Phobos sees fit to eradicate one form of parasite (humanity) with another (the newly-discovered and quarantined Zygos Reptans). There is an extreme element of mystery here; mentions of other things as-yet-unexplained (like the unidentified host creatures—Neo-S’pht?; or the “large monitor”—a metaphor of God?) make me long for more chapters.
A large monitor sits on the wall, displaying a panoramic view of the known universe. The image is replaced by text, being typed onto the screen.
Defend them. Defend life they view as valuable. Important. Why? So they can continue to fight among themselves? So they can spread across world after world and subdue it?
With me as their willing slave…
Synopsis: An avant-garde piece, “Marathon the Assualt” plays with style, presentation, and theme in new and exciting ways. A soldier’s nightmare just got a lot more real.
My thoughts: I usually eschew works that stress presentation more than content, and so I was at first quite skeptical of Assualt. However, after reading the piece, I can firmly say that it holds its own in both respects. The unexpected underline formatting makes everything important; sporadic apostrophization creates an air of the alien, not unlike the various Pfhor and S’pht names in the original Marathon series. It all serves to immerse the reader in a dream: a dream of reading a soldier’s dream. My own original piece “Sleepless Scim” attempted something similar, but I am man enough to admit that Assualt took the concept one step farther.
Unexpected things happen. You’ll know soon. Because you’ll become one of them…
“That nightmare. It’s back. But it never finish’s. Never. I wonder why.” The marine said. He closed his eyes and went back to sleep. But his dream he had was not just a nightmare.
“You think that’s it?” Mike asked. “Don’t know, what about you Zac?” Todd looking around. “I have no clue.” Zac said.
Synopsis: A dwindling community fights its hardest to survive. During the constant in-fighting and attacks from without, the members of the UESC’s MSB might need a new kind of savior.
My thoughts: I have a firm belief that one must be able to laugh at oneself in order to be a complete human being. However, this story only condenses the disgusting behavior of some of the worst members in the entire community. The story, like its petty characters, is only saved by the good graces of Johannes. I wish I could make myself enjoy this piece, but it only reminds me of why the Pfhorums exist, and that’s never a good thing.
All: “SHUT UP!”
I hope you enjoyed my brief reviews of these stories. I may do more in the future, but until then, let’s look forward to Thermoplyae‘s thesis on the Gao Legends.
After some odd downtime, the spy log has returned with a vengeance, running via my constant IRC connection on the newly-christened boretower. There’s a gap of nearly a week, but I think you’ll forgive me. Thanks to Thermo for getting my ass moving on that one.
June 21, 2008
+ new ideas
+ more music
new ideas + more music = crap
JUICEcast = booze
We’ll try again next week.
June 19, 2008
She was honestly the most gorgeous woman I had ever known. The most gorgeous, too, that I ever will know. That alone created all sorts of difficulties–standards I constructed on my own, without her help, not to mention those she brought to the relationship. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There were times throughout my formative years that I would catch a glimpse of her. Oh, no, it wasn’t actually her until some time later. But you know how it is: as artists have their Muse, my past self had, from the womb, a conception of idealized beauty that drove every action in my life. A few of my early finger-paintings hold the shadow of my ideal; here and there, amid the smiling suns and grassy fields, a feminine form–unmarred by the later impositions of society–reveals itself in simple lines. Extended fingerprints create flowing hair, misunderstood breasts, skirts and dresses, crude hands grasping flowers.
I saw her later in cartoons, in campfire reveries, and finally, before my own eyes during English class in my sophomore year of high school. It was not a dream come true; it was a simple nod from Fate that yes, she had existed all along.
In my daze, I hardly remember the months of that year spent in agony, in bliss. I can no longer recall if she ever caught me looking at her, for that would imply gazing into her eyes–something which erased all memory. My journals from that period are suspiciously devoid of her name or description. I suppose it makes sense, after a fashion; how often do you describe the veins in your feet, unless something has gone wrong with them? But I can still feel the tension in my writing from that time. I was a lion ready to spring forward.
When I did, it went surprisingly well. It was sudden, there was no warning, and there I stood on her doorstep with a lump of clay in my hands, both literally and figuratively. She let me in after I uttered the sweet, brilliant, foolish line, “Let’s shape it together.” Hours later, we conversed with words for the first time ever–the sculpture was a conversation of its own, never to be repeated–and oh, her voice, that enchanting power was finally directed at me of all people. “Come with me,” she said that evening, “come with me forever.”
From that day forward, the ground dropped slowly from beneath my feet while I took no notice, instead staring at the heavens with no concept of evil or loss. Every breeze was her caress. Not a single night went by that her face and body strayed away from my dreams, pillaging my heart and soul. There is a word in French, farouche. It means both “wild” and “tame.” We experienced l’amour farouche.
I know she felt it, too. With love, it’s easy to tell the difference between a one-way street and a boulevard–provided you’re experiencing the real thing. She invested as much of her self in me as I did in her, and I think that was the beginning of our problem. As I already said, both of us had notions that gradually filtered in from outside our protective circle. No, it was not a circle; it was an impossible two-sided shape that could only last for a fleeting moment before vanishing, left only as the most powerful memory on Earth. And that is just what happened.
While I confess that the beginning of this decade-long ordeal of joy is mired in oblivion, I can say with certainty that its end and decline (in that order) are clearer than the crack of Arctic ice during an everlasting dawn. The end came and went; it was instant. But the energy it imparted to us left us rushing to the future with no clear goals. We crashed through barrier after barrier: college, careers, family deaths, and finally pregnancy. How, in our decadence, could we have wanted to generate a new life out of the readily-apparent death of our delirious love? We did see that happening, but the love still lived, and I believe that was the root of our particular delusion. Hope was just a heart in a bear trap.
I held her so often, felt her radiance through our clothing. With her, there was no such thing as nakedness: such a concept involves shame and the implication that we wore something encumbering to begin with. How often do you call an animal “naked?”
Only when it has come to lack something important.
So it was that we ended up in the hospital. The pregnancy had been difficult, but doctors had assured us that it was nothing to worry about. It was only until that last moment, when our child emerged in blood from his nine months of growth, that I knew the truth. Her wan smile broke my heart, the monitors attached to her went wild and then only rang with the alarm that the patient was about to die. Her lips moved with both a word and a kiss, and she left this world.
“My God!” I shouted at the doctor, my infant son cooing in my arms. “Please, tell me what she said. I’ll give my own life to know her dying words.”
The doctor smiled and shook his head knowingly. “She told you to stop camping.”
June 18, 2008
June 11, 2008
In this crummy video, you might or might not be able to see the little selector box that goes around the selected texture. I didn’t feel like doing a voice recording this time, but you should be able to see what’s happening: Trigger 1 = apply texture + light + transfer mode; Trigger 2 = copy texture + light + transfer mode. Previous/next weapon = cycle through lights. I don’t have this mode complete (I need to ask Wolfy some things) but it’s already amazing, if I do say so myself! Once again, look at the title link if you want the mp4.