Monday, December 28, 2009

Around Azeroth: Anoxia of the Netherwing Flight

Talk about grinding.

For those not in the know, Anoxia has been burning hard and bright attempting to get her wings. Netherwing-wings, with those dragons out in Shadowmoon Valley of Draenor. It involves a series of up-ranking quests via reputation to rise up among the ranks of the fel orcs of the Dragonmaw clan.

To put it short: she has her dragon.

The quests start by the netherwing dragons giving a disguise so that you can visit their island without being detected. In Anoxia’s case she became a rather wide, red orc male with a huge netherwing dragon to ride on. Of course, when she arrived with papers they smacked her down to peon.

The quests are interesting and start at the fel orc peon level, requiring that Anoxia run around and collect dust from bushes, and cut down animals for their nethercite crystals (if she was a miner this would come from mining nodes.) All of the other orcs also treat you like a peon.

Then came Overseer and with that rank came the booterang. BOOTERANG. A weapon that I had to fashion myself from a bunch of leather (provided by Spearmint) and the hide of a beast which was found in an Ecodome. A huge tyrannosaur who went down under the not-so-gentle blades of our dearest rogue. The booterang worked pretty much as expected: it’s a pair of boots strung together that boomerang at a disobedient peon’s head, wack him (sending him back to work) and then return. Quite funny.

The next rank is a commander. With each new rank the orcs treat you differently, with more respect, they stop requesting and start asking. Eventually you’re giving commands to take down portals, to fight giant demons, and to lead attacks—one of which Anoxia tipped off the target and assisted in the defense of said target.

The final stage felt so much fun after turning in 40 netherwing eggs. To explain eggs. They’re worth 250 reputation (about as much as a standard mission) and they spawn all over the Dragonmaw fortress and island. They do have specific places they appear so pretty quickly you end up with a patrol route to find them. As you can guess, collecting 40 eggs took some time (a week) and a lot of patrolling.

Being a rogue came in very handy since most people don’t like to brave the mines to extract eggs. However, being invisible things became a great deal easier.

It’s a beautiful black winged netherdrake who ferries her place to place wherever is flyable.

Fun times.

Of course, that dragon isn’t the only goal here. Anoxia wants her albino drake for its 310% flight speed and that’s only available via an achievement—namely the achievement for having 50 mounts.

Mag’har, here we come!

Ogres, watch out, I need War Beads.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Around Azeroth: Getting your ‘lock on

“Hi, I’m Kyt… And I am an altoholic.”

To an extent, I don’t even have an 80 yet and the alts that I’m working towards that point happen to not be my main… However, this goes even further than that, since I have friends trying to experience WoW and level on other servers, I have been going to the great over there and experiencing all that I can.

Foremost the title of this post is about warlocks. The demon-wrangling, chaos-casting firestarters that everyone loves to hate.

Since I have a friend who joined up on a random server, I ran over there and made a new undead warlock—Blume. People might know about my blood elf warlock on Thunderhorn (Sybrwyd) who happens to be a Demonlogy ‘lock, so I am taking Blume into the depths of the Destruction tree. I’ve already played the hell out of the new LFG system with her, and she’s run a few dungeons every night to meet and greet people to have fun.

To list what dungeons I’ve seen with LFG so far, and generally see at least three a night:

The Deadmines (x2)

Wailing Caverns (x3)

Shadowfang Keep (x2)

Stormwind Stockades (x1)

An interesting fact here is that two of these instances, Deadmines and Stockades happen to be Alliance controlled. This means that under normal circumstances I’d never want to brave the Allied lands in order to even try to reach them (point in fact, the Stockades is in Stormwind Castle!) So seeing that instance did happen to be fun and interesting, and Anoxia is going there at some point on her lonesome.

My friend, Ryan, is rocking a rogue (making Anoxia proud) and Blue is supplying fire support. I will have some instancing adventures to write up at some point, I am sure. These cross-shard groups sometimes go well, something bad, sometimes VERY bad. My experience so far has been exceptionally good.

Four levels in two days doing instances and quests in them.

What a way to experience content.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Around Azeroth: The alt money grind, and Netherwing misadventures

Gold grinding and altaholism

So, as anyone has discovered by the time they hit Northrend: flittermounts cost a femur and an ulna. That is to say, I need 4,000 gold just to learn to fly my quick flittermount; and then 1,000 more to make it fly in the icy steppes of the north. That doesn’t include the 200-ish to buy it.

Well, thanks to Trichoderma and Spearmint, Anoxia is 3,000 gold closer to getting her riding skill for the quick flittermount. This through daily grinding of words and shoveltusk by Spearmint across the freezing climes. If it weren’t for Winter Fur drops (which make almost 75g a pop) this would take forever.

I’m not exactly one of those who knows too much about how to make money in WoW, so here I am making it in chunks of 200g a day or so trying to reach that infamous 5,000 gold just so that one of my characters can ride in style.

Also sadly, one part of the winter event cannot be run without a flying mount.

Netherwing Distractions

On what’s left of Draenor, Shadowmoon Valley to be exact, there’s some see-through dragons called the Netherwing. Basically they’re a clusterbomb of quests and reputation that give you (eventually) a dragon mount. They’re also a good way to make a little money while trying to get to the point you can ride one. (Remember that 4,000 gold?)

I don’t know if I even want one, but I do want to try out the experience at least once.

So Anoxia leapt to their aid. First, she had to go kill some critters that eat the crystals that grow in the ground. The critters aren’t all that tough, they just come in packs of two or three—and it takes five small ones or one big one to get the items we need. Namely: carcasses of size enough to feed a netherwing dragon. After getting a carcass, one can be placed on the ground so a dragon can come down and om nom nom; after which they say something cryptic in Draconic and leave.

Next, I she got a quest to go visit a floating island upon which draenite crystals are being mined. There’s peons everywhere, and also some sort of nightmare vine that has crystals on it—probably nethervine with nether crystals. (See a naming convention arising?) These, she took back to the big dragon in the sky who enchanted them up.

With these crystals she went to the Dragonmaw orc clan and tried to free the baby dragons they’d enslaved. However, the baby dragons are terrible at escaping—they feel the need to attack whomever happens to be standing around. So, after freeing one from the mind control, she had to take down everyone nearby in several cases. Be careful only to free netherwings that have handlers, otherwise they charge into the nearest (largest!) group of foes and aggro all of them.

Finally, after freeing a bunch of these dragon kids, the big dragon gave her the quest equivalent of a smack-down: go kill this clan leader, oh, and by the by, bring four of your friends. Well, that’s not happening today. Hopefully there’ll be some very bored 80s on tomorrow to help out with that and we’ll see how it goes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Around Azeroth: There and back again, a tale of more shards

Monday again and it’s time for another issue of Around Azeroth, at least that’s what I’m going to call my little semi-daily updates about my adventures in the World of Warcraft.

BLUME of Sentinels

So I’ve started playing a baby warlock with a friend on an RP server. She’s going destruction—unlike Sybrwyd, my primary warlock, who is all-the-way demonic, right down to her demon socks. The new undead warlock, Blume, rocks a beehive haircut and bondage-tape X across her face. She just picked up her blueberry (read: Voidwalker) and is now hassling the elves about their own deadite problem.
Scything through the Dead Scar with my friend—playing a rogue, Anoxia would be proud—his brother chimes in about the strange affair of the Auction House. Seems that people are selling extremely low level items at extremely exorbitant prices. Wandering around town, watching the RPers do their thing, a glimmer of a thought came to mind. I know why people are selling piddly level 17 items for 3g and higher…
I’ve seen people wearing the most aesthetically bizarre mismatches of sets wandering around town. RP servers often suffer from a sort of anesthetic of the mind effect when it comes to came play and livable socialization; but they take extreme advantage of the social and “let’s play pretend” effect of being in an existential virtual realm. Having outfits that match personality would certainly be a boon. Perhaps some of these really low level items just look particularly exotic.

ANOXIA of Thunderhorn

The little rogue is rising in the ranks! She’s made level 69 and doesn’t show any sign of stopping before 70.
I’ve been using the new PUG interface that Blizzard added in patch 3.3. Abusing is probably a better term for it. I love this thing, it’s been rather a fun ride. Some drama, some yelling and infighting, but overall I’ve liked it.
The last experience, though, put me into a Wrath of the Lich King dungeon where we had to go up against Prince Keleseth. For those not-in-the-know, he’s a night elf who visits Vengence Landing, picks a fight with the executor there; the executor commands his archers to light off—they fire a hellstorm of arrows at him, but Keleseth teleports behind his own Vrykul troops and lets them take the arrows for him; then he “drinks the souls” of all the archers. Not fun.
As it happens, he’s a pretty vicious fight that requires some sort of attention to detail. Keleseth throws an ice-tomb over people in the party, this takes them out of combat for a short time while the DPS break through the ice. If he happens to hit the tank or the healer the raid wipes. Both of these events happened on my visit.
Mind, everyone, I’ve never seen this boss before and I don’t know how to fight him. Also: I’m a rogue! I’m DPS so it was my job to get the tank/healer out, and I did, however, not before Keleseth went on and massacred two other people each time.
Long story short, our tank /ragequit, “You guys really suck!” Of course, I am cleaning up his grammar and spelling, but that’s basically what he said before he vanished.
Never did down the guy.
Moonsweet mentions how our guild <Moving Targets> act as a well oiled raid-murder-machine and that every time he’s encountered a single boss with them, they go down with ease. And no kidding, together with the Targets in instances we act with extreme tactical precision, and excellent leadership. If anything, PUGs show me repeatedly how haphazard discipline among players can end in defeat against even lower level content; while well planned strikes can take apart even higher level content.
Go Targets.
Keleseth, I am still for you. I’ll be back. FOR THE DARK LADY!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Lord High Extinctioner to the xp rescue

Oh, a hunter by any other name would not be Hemet Nesingwary.

Anyone who has actually leveled a character into their 30s has probably made their way into the dreaded Stranglethorn Vale. Dreaded why? Mostly because it is literally unavoidable, large, and full of quests that send you to all corners of the entire zone. Oh yes, it also has Nesingwary.

Everyone’s favorite Azerothian reincarnation of Hemmingway—right down to the book he wrote (excuse me: books.) Anoxia and Spreamint have already had their fun with him in Stranglethorn, but of course, he went to Outlands and Northrend as well. So now Anoxia is meeting him again, for the first time.

And just like the quests from the Stranglethorn, Nesingwary and his safari … expedition … or whatever he might be doing has a million small, fuzzy forest creatures for me to kill. Kill them until not a single one stands. Killing in the morning. Killing in the evening. Killing all night long!

I am surprised there’s a single species left on the planet for us to hunt—or on Draenor for that matter.

So. Anoxia hits Nagrand, fishing pole in hand (I’ll talk about this later) and talks to Nesingwary and his safari. Kill clefthoof! Kill birds! Kill elk things! If it moves make it die, die, die, dead, die!

And so, now here we go scything through the wildlife like a hot orc through scantily clad elves.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ambassador this!

Have I mentioned that reputation is my most-hated aspect of all Azerothian endeavors?

Perhaps I didn’t mention that the good Lady of Venom, Anoxia, has just gotten her first big rep reward: “Ambassador to the Horde.” An achievement gained by getting Exalted reputation with each of the major Horde racial factions.

She now wears it proudly.

Ambassador Anoxia.

The story starts humbly, Anoxia wanted a raptor mount from the Darkspear Trolls, but being a blood elf she couldn’t have one until she Exalted with them. Unwilling to wait, she threw herself with wild abandon into the battlegrounds—Alterac Valley, Warsong Gulch, and Arathi Basin. After cutting down hundreds of scores of Alliance she earned enough marks to buy herself a raptor.

Next thing she knew, while wandering aimlessly through Zangarmarsh, she noticed she had Exalted with two factions—and nearly there with the other three. Well, everyone except the cows; Thunder Bluff couldn’t be bothered and had its reputation bar half-way while the rest were nearly on the red line.

So, after gaining Exaulted with her own city and the undead, Anoxia went on a grand world-trotting quest to get the cows to like her. It ended with turn-ins on the Hunter Rise of Thunder Bluff after hunting and killing a zeppelin-load of rare and endangered animals.


Cows like you now, Miss Ambassador.

Friday, December 04, 2009

It came from the crumbling lagoon, tales of Sporeggar

Those who have spent enough time in the Zangarmarsh know about the fungus-men of Sporeggar. No, I am not making a reference to some obscure H.P. Lovecraft text, it’s all about Warcraft again. This time, I saw a nice little reputation reward dagger in the hands of the fungus critters and Anoxia wanted one for herself.

The problem? It requires Revered reputation with the spore people.

Reputation in Warcraft is perhaps one of the most time consuming and job-like aspects of the game. Many quests deliver it like coin, allowing users to slowly become more favored with particular factions. Some factions are utterly worthless, some have become obsolescent (see Old World factions like the Argent Crusade) while others are most beloved by level 80 characters because they have upgrade gear.

So I went out farming for rep.

Basically, I just grabbed Spearmint and took her on a massacre of anything made of fungus: Bog Lords and sporebats. Since I wanted as many [Bog Lord Tendril]s and [Fertile Spores] as I could get my little rogue hands on. Little did I know that the tendrils would only end up working once (I was left holding a huge bag of them) and that it would take forever with spores.

So I went the next best route: I grabbed Trichoderma.

Being the near-goddess she is at almost level cap, she teleported into Zangarmarsh in the North West—an area that if Zangar happened to be a map of the US would have been the west coast of Washington and Oregon—and proceeded to beat down anything fungus-similar with the shadowy power.

I spent over two hours burning Greater Spore Bats into the cracked grey rocks and distilling them for spores. I received almost 96 fertile spores and almost 100+ [Unidentified Plant Parts] (all of which went to Spearmint—I almost want that hippogryph for her. Yes, another grind-for-rep reward!)


I hate rep.

Oh, but check out my shiny new dagger: [Hardened Stone Shard].

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The furriest escapist and more stories from Azeroth

The rogue cat

It's a lost/found story with a good ending for an evening of darkness and freezing rain in the cold, wet north.

I get a call at about 9pm AZ (midnight MI) from my roommates who have lost their Internet connexion because Comcast made a mistake. My roommate, Djenna, who got a cat to keep me company while I'm indoors during the day without anybody to spend time with tells me that Pullo – the rogue cat – has been missing all day. Nowhere to be seen in the house, and he hasn't eaten. And he eats like a horse.

TV weather warns that it's going to be a heavy snow.

About 1am MI her husband calls me to tell me that while casing our neighborhood for likely bushes, a cat-shaped shadow detached itself from some foliage and followed him home.

Pullo arrived wet, shivering, covered in mud, and not at all upset by his experience out in the icy-cold. Fortunately for me his time missing amounted to about an hour or so, my roommates, though, had to suffer through not knowing where he was for about a day.

This is the same cat who likes to try to chase squirrels and once got herded, cornered, and pinned against the house and a stand of firewood by a small troop of the fuzzy buggers and had to be carried out (by me) to get him back inside because he didn't want to go anywhere near them.


Fear and Loathing in Outlands

This morning, flying across the cracked and parched wasteland of the Hellfire Peninsula I realized that I am having bag space problems. Both my rogue and my hunter constantly run out of space to keep their flowers and pelts – this is discounting things like the skulls of the fallen and other bling.

So, I started looking around for some of the larger bags. Mine are all 16s right now, good ole Netherweave; however, with the introduction of Northrend there’s new cloth! Frostweave. And Frostweave Bags are 20s. So I now am the proud owner of eight new Frostweave Bags. Although, it would be nice to get a Glacial Bag or two (if they didn’t cost 1,000g a piece for those 2 extra slots.)

Spearmint went back to Hellfire and Zangarmarsh after a brief stay in Terokkar Forest. Mostly because she felt like painting the steppes red with the blood of brown fel orcs; and she’d left some big game in Zangarmarsh un-hunted. Positively fun, this one, looking for a giant hydra in Serpent Lake; and then she had to cut down a gargantuan crab-man waiting with his parking brake on in the middle of an island north of Zubra’Jin.

Oh, and Boglash.

Fun and games with Boglash. ‘Mint and her red-bug-of-death took him on and did the usual hunter song-and-dance with the flabby, pale menace, downed him and went home; but when it came tie for Anoxia to take him on…everything went a little differently…

She snuck up behind the thing, holding her breath against the marsh gases. Her fingers twitched, daggers rising and falling with the soft sigh of the water as the tripod’s legs slashed wakes from the otherwise somulent murk. She opened up with an ambush, both blades poised into the thing’s Achilles tendon—or at least what she expected was—it wobbled dangerously, spinning to face her. She twirled, blood, blade, and venom leading the way, slicing and dicing tentacle and tendril alike. It struck out with lightning, she kicked it in what she hoped might have been a kidney.

It seemed mere moments later, cool downs all burning, ‘Nox stood over the fallen blubber of the pale monstrosity.

“Oh, glowing spores. Gee,” she said. And then trekked home for the reward.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

As Azeroth Turns

…and other snide comments about daytime soap operas.

So, I got back into World of Warcraft again. I’ve been playing up my rogue and hunter up to higher and higher levels—read: level 63. Both are drumming away in Outlands at the strange landscapes of Hellfire Peninsula and the Zangarmarsh.

Hunter grrl, Spearmint, has been slumming it in Zangarmasrh mostly. This is where she got herself her first pretty bug—a pretty bug who happens to be named “Blacksting.” (Something about trolls and their ever growing hunger for strange and unsettling aphrodisiacs.) I renamed it Dahlia, just to see if anyone would get the reference. I then got the quest to kill Blacksting and killed him with himself for some poetic Hunter style justice.

Rogue chickidee, Anoxia, has been wandering Zangarmarsh also but just recently trotted out into Terokkar Forest instead. She needed some fresh forest air and spiders and less mushrooms.

Both of them just got their normal flying mounts. Mounts which are way less expensive than I expected. I saved up 1,200g between them (600g each) and then discovered that the riding skill sells for only like 250g right now. Although, looking at it. Artisan riding (to get the swift mounts) costs like 4,000g so I still have one hell of a grind ahead of me for both of them.

Anyone ever gone for a Nether drake? I mean, wow. How long does that take for someone who has < 2 hr a day to burn?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mill Avenue Nights November 7th, 2009

I’ve finally gotten out and put in some time on Mill Ave proper since my visit. We didn’t see much in the way of anything, such as it is, the Ave is still in decline…and by decline I mean the stores that appear are lackluster, determined to breathe stale extruded culture instead of anything remotely clever.

Most of the street came covered in gold sweaters with people showing off their allegiance to ASU in the game taking place—American football likely—against some unknown college named USC (likely Southern California.) Amid them, here and there, I also noticed maroon jerseys, which mixed interesting effects with the USC shirts which were also red. Although far fewer on the street.

I also noticed a number of U.S. Marines in full dress uniform. Strutting their well pressed and tailored outfits along the red bricks. Every one that I saw a male, often escorting a female, who often wore less elegant attire. It’s been supposed that they might have been part of the ASU game, acting as color guard (guarding the US flag when it was taken onto the field as part of a ceremony.)

Apparently, Phantom of the Opera was also showing at Gammage Auditorium.

Very few rats that I’ve interviewed in the past came by Drum Circle. In fact, the drum circle barely existed today with a bunch of new people I didn’t get a chance to talk to and only one drum (however, a drum is very, very good.)

Mill is not dead, but its certainly not in a good place.

Vexations is coming along. Not quite how I want to … but it’s been good, and lovely, and here’s an image to leave everyone with.

And for more information about the upcoming volume go to the Mill Avenue Vexations blog.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just bought a Nintendo DSi

Well, I thought it was just a DS, but every time it talks about itself, it says DSi.

Needless today, it’s been painless in the installation and it can even see my home wireless. I got a Zelda game. We’ll see how far this goes.

It is updating its software wirelessly right now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mormon whines about having the civil rights to act as a voting bloc and suffering political fallout from their behavior

There, I fixed the article title for them.

Maybe we’re looking at an altogether different problem than what’s being presented in this article and no amount of playing to bogus emotional appeals is going to slide these eyes away from recognizing it. Feast eyes on this AP article about the backlash against Mormons over the passage of California Prop 8, which banned gay marriage in the state: “Mormon leader: religious freedom at risk.

“The anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement, a high-ranking Mormon says in a speech to be delivered Tuesday.” Really? Mormons are actually a group of people unaccepted by society due to their reduced social class and abused by the scions of those who benefited from the division of power and labor. Mormons, after demonstrably perpetrating civil rights abuses are in fact those abused of their civil rights. Sure they are.

When, exactly, during the civil rights movement did blacks (as some sort of organized group, I mean, religion) get together to block the civil rights of another social class? They didn’t? Silly me.

The backlash that Mormons are looking at right now isn’t about religion—certainly religion plays a part—it’s about politics. Politics such as political groupings and identity. The Mormon Church, that entity which is the Mormons gathering together in an organized fashion, decided to take a political position on a matter of civil rights. By doing so they placed themselves as an enemy of everyone who would work towards enlightening society to those civil rights and now are in the crosshairs of angry people. They could have been the Snuffupagus Society and the exact same thing would happen.

In an interview Monday before the speech, Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of Mormons in the election's aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.

"It may be offensive to some — maybe because it hadn't occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era," he said.

Mormons vs. gay rights isn’t “Mormons as black people” vs. “gay rights activists as Southern segregationists.” It’s the exact reverse. And yes, I suspect people will find this analogy offensive—Oaks may have just managed to piss off not just gay rights activists but anyone who saw the plight of people with a different skin color as a necessity for civil rights activism. Insulting? No kidding.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

District 9, when it takes the alien to be more human than human

After the emotional firebomb that happened to be Surrogates, starring one of my favorite action-hero actors—Bruce Willis—I didn’t quite know what to expect from District 9.

One thing that I must absolutely say is that I am thoroughly pleased with that movie.

Shot a little bit gonzo, rogue documentary style in the beginning, it manages to weave a narrative out of the videography and into pure storytelling with seamless ease. It tells a story of a not-so-empathetic main character who exhibits numerous, severe character flaws in the romantic-hero department, but is still very much a person. Albeit an otherwise callous and naive person at the beginning trying to cope with extraordinary circumstances.

The movie does an excellent job of not preaching or shoving ideas in the face of the audience while portraying scenes of what could best be described as racial violence, racism, classism, and population clashes. Displayed especially prominently because instead of setting the scene over a well-known, large US City (like Alien Nation with Los Angeles) it instead uses Johannesburg.

The aliens themselves, aka Prawns, happen to be both cardboard cutout ideological stand-ins for every minority; but have a compelling, and extremely evocative protagonist who comes across as a much better, more emotionally capable human being than the main character.

In the time allotted, the movie doesn’t manage to explore some of the problems as deeply as it could—especially noting the secret-government parts of the story. The fact that it’s not set in the US resolves a lot of cultural issues with government and racial divides (the use of mercenaries in lieu of military and civilian oversight) and it also provides a backdrop to juxtapose the treatment of the prawns vs. the external community, without actually invoking the outside community as a preaching point.

The action scenes are active, heart pounding, and I found myself caring what happened to both prawn and human—worried not just for the humanity of the human characters, but for the very life and love of the alien characters.

I’d love to see this again.

Perhaps it just resonates too much on the tuning fork of the dark side of human behavior.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There’s a zombie on the lawn

So, I’ve been neigh addicted to this wonderful casual game by Popcap games. It’s a good way to burn some time when there’s nothing to do. Plants vs. Zombies. And a couple weeks ago I found a live action video of the credits on Boing Boing. For anyone who hasn’t seen this yet, it’s a must see; for anyone who hasn’t played the game yet, get the trial.



Zombies…are coming.

…for brains!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Surrogates, a case for missing the point

One corporation to rule them all…

Sure. Only Apple makes the iPhone, but they don’t make every cellular phone in existence and never would be able to. Wouldn’t there be the i-surrogate and every other surrogate made by other companies? Somehow all surrogates are made by one corporation and one alone in an extremely unlikely coup d’etat.

Ignoring anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws, the existence of this technology, the networks that must run it, the technology, software, and components to them a great deal of how the capitalist world works would have to be swept away for it to function in this manner in the first place.

Where are the accessories and software upgrades written by other companies anyway?

And in one network bind them!

While the networks that drove the surrogates seem to have some sort of wireless technology, apparently it’s all together on exactly one interpolated system. Even in modern day with technologies like cellular this is not just difficult, it’s near impossible. Multiple carriers would be vying with each other for customers, they’d be paying each other to run time on each other’s lines. But this isn’t the worst part about the scenario.


Why exactly would a single computer in a remote city ever be permitted the ability to subject its will outside of its own bounds, and what sort of software would be required to allow it to do that in a physical sense anyway? This refers to the ability for one computer, in a remote city, to affect every surrogate everywhere without even hand waving to explain why.

Why wouldn’t other networks require some sort of negotiation? Other cities, other states, other countries. The information traveling over those wires could be considered subject to different laws, espionage would become a huge issue, Passports and Visas would mean something else altogether. (Or, as the movie suggested, this only occurs in the United States?)

Everyone runs the same Operating System?

Even with the presence of antiquated surrogates, lorries, loaders, pleasure models, soldier models, from mark one to mark fifteen (or whatever) every surrogate runs exactly the same way, on the same software, and connects to the network in the same way. No popular modern technology works in this way and never has.

Where are the DIY hackers? The people who get their kit out of the box and hack it to their own specifications. Sure, there might be laws that make modifying their surrogates a felony—but why would this stop the most staunch technologists? Apparently they didn’t exist in this society for no given reason. I’d be one of the first people to turn automatic updates off on my surrogate. See: experience with Windows OS. A world without Linux geeks to say the least.

Being without a surrogate makes you a bad person.

People on the street treated people out of their surrogates as if they’re making a political statement. They have a derogatory nickname for them: Meatbags.

This ignores the possibility that a person is out on the street without a surrogate because of some other reason. Maybe their surrogate is in the shop and they don’t feel like running an antiquated, stuffy model that they’re not used to. Perhaps they’re going to court and cannot be in a surrogate at the time (see below.) What if they have a disability based on brain physiology that makes it impossible for them to use surrogate technology.

What about the judicial process?

Keying into the fact that people as themselves on the street are “meatbags” and treated as if they’re making some sort of political statement: what about judicial proceedings? Why would anyone except perhaps bailiffs and officers who protect the court (but aren’t part of the proceeding) be permitted to wear a surrogate? Certainly the judge, lawyers, defendant, plaintiff, and witnesses must be physically present as people.

What exactly happens to habeas corpus in a surrogate society? How can a witness work if it’s not the actual person on the stand? Sure, it’s a felony to run in a surrogate that’s not registered to you; it’s also a felony to perjure yourself on the stand—but in the case of perjury in our society there’s no weird concern about identity. We have you, in body, on the stand making comments. What complex, weird, and otherwise highly fallible mechanisms would be introduced to have surrogates go to court and reliably make certain that corrupt non-persons attended instead?

People going to and from court would be walking on the street out of their surrogates.

Violent crime almost totally eliminated… Really?

What precisely caused people to suddenly ignore the fact that while running a surrogate a human is essentially a helpless lump of flesh, laying on a couch, in an easily entered room somewhere. Sure, it’s harder to kill someone in a passion when people look at the other form in front of them—another surrogate—and fights don’t end in death. But how many cold-blooded murders, or otherwise passion-to-cold-blood over a jilted lover would go away?

Steal someone’s wife and they show up in your room with a gun, not aiming the lethal bullet at your surrogate—but at your fleshy brain. It happened in the movie, after all.


I just couldn’t be impressed by how far the movie Surrogates made it down the rabbit-hole of identity with this antiseptic premise. It got one foot in, and then got stuck. That screaming is the sound of it spraining its ankle. Surrogates could have gone a lot further, done a lot better, and told a much better story if it had let the world be a bit more messy than it presented. The premise is too clean, ignores too many parts of the human condition, and promotes a foolish outcome.


My final observation: At the end, Bruce Willis’s character decides that while the surrogate operators are now safe the surrogates could be then destroyed to create a human revolution back to the norm society before their introduction. A radio message while every person on the street fell down “deactivated” their surrogates destroyed, claimed there were no reports of casualties. Sure, it would not mean the deaths of millions—probably just tens of thousands.

What happens to people currently in surgery under the care of surrogates? How about all the roads now clogged with crashed and deactivated cars: emergency vehicles certainly cannot reach them—that’s assuming that the hospitals have been brought back online already because everyone in them also fell over “dead.” How about the surrogates currently doing extremely dangerous work on buildings with fleshy people in them? Or, surrogates piloting vehicles in the air (planes crash!) and driving trucks filled with dangerous chemicals colliding in the middle of cities, or near population centers as their drivers are suddenly taken offline.

No. This decision may have been less horrible than killing everyone with a surrogate but it’s equally reckless endangerment and mass murder through reckless disregard for human life.

Big things on the horizon

Well, at least it looks that way.

I have Vexations volumes 13 and 14 written and in editing right now. The artwork for the insides is being commissioned and there’s a cover for 13 being commissioned also. So I’ll have some pretty stuff to show off soon!

It’s almost October, so it might be time again to start speaking up about the wrong messages about Halloween/Samhain/Concost that will be flooding Mill Ave. And also, my return to the place that I love the most.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Case for encryption about the MCSO raid of jointly held data center by Elaine Mercer

Just posted over at Black Hat Magick.

Recently, the sheriff’s office agreed to release the passwords that they changed—the consequences of refusal would have been jail time for contempt of court. However, this entire situation would have been softened a great deal if everyone involved had been using some form of encryption on those sensitive records and privileged communications.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Maricopa County Sheriff’s office vs. Maricopa County ongoing

I haven’t heard much since last week about the armed raid promoted my the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office against a County held IT facility. I know about this because it actually managed to make it onto Slashdot, a news site for the IT and computer oriented. Basically making a laughingstock out of Maricopa County and our sheriff’s office.

I am not sure if Joe Arpaio happened a direct hand in this, but the actions of his subordinates in this case does not reflect well upon him.

Last week, a judge cited a restraining order against the MCSO and possible contempt charges coming down for an MCSO lieutenant if he did not turn over the new password of the systems. The officers who raided the facility did so in order to take control of the computers for the time necessary to change the password and lock the civilian operators out of the system.

The sheriff’s office claims this was done because they felt an intrusion as imminent. However, this either displays a gross ignorance of exactly how computer security works or is a cover for another action. Changing the password does nothing to defend the servers from civilian operators who already have physical access to the machines in question—in fact, nobody needs a password when they can physically remove the hard drive from a computer if they want to read or tamper with data.

Political ramifications aside for the sheriffmen’s actions; the excuse they’ve given themselves for what basically amounts to a powerplay coup doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny.

Elaine Mercer from Black Hat Magick Detective Agency is currently writing up her own thoughts on the mater, but insofar news on the subject is extremely sparse.

Friday, August 14, 2009

YouTUBE Series: The History of VenomFangX

Our understanding of VenomFangX has changed since we became aware of him. He has gone from just some ignorant kid, to a censorship happy prick and a habitual liar, to a crazy nut job, to a lying selfish ass. He has been one of the biggest preverbal train wrecks I have ever seen.

This video touches on the history of VenomFangX on YouTube. I have left out a few things such as his temporary suspension or his spats with TheAmazingAtheist.

This short video series (3 videos in all) is a bit biting, but it does timeline and dissect a great deal of the milestones of the career of VenomFangX. He has since left YouTUBE, but not so totally that he hasn’t given his successor videos to post from him (in fact his channel is not gone, it’s just been handed over to another person.)

Since the VenomGate scandal he has only poked his head out once to make snarky comments at Thunderf00t for having an on camera informal interview/conversation with Ray Comfort.

Link, via YouTUBE JRChadwick and djarm67.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Video game procurement

So, since Better Than Faith has become something of a ghost town when it comes to updates, I’ve stopped working on content that would otherwise be useful to Kazz. Instead, I am working on elements for Nelson Williams and Vox ex Machina.

Mostly, since this does involve playing and reviewing video games. I have bought some from Bookmans. Two games at $12 total. Nelson calls them shovelware.

Restricted Area. This isometric Diablo-clone wannabe takes place in a dystopian cyberpunk and doesn’t offer much in the way of general compensation for actual gameplay. The isometric design gives a certain amount of character control, Gauntlet-like waves of enemies to mow through, and a lot of very stiff voice acting. I picked a girl with a both who can run through cyberspace, but really the tactics seem to have fallen back to running away from everything and blowing up those ubiquitous exploding barrels.

Culpa Innata. A point-and-click adventure game with a few interesting additions, like a computer system that allows researching certain clues into useable data—although, it suffers from everywhere-at-once syndrome that a lot of adventure games do. Thus meaning that I have to look at the walkthrough a lot to get even simple plot elements out of the way. It also has a daylight issue, by this I mean that every task takes a certain amount of time and you can only do a certain amount during day before triggering nightlife events (or being forced to go to bed.)

Oh, but here I am longing to play another game of Bookworm Adventures.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wordpress and Twitter Tools 2.0

Well, it’s that time again. I am getting used to using Wordpress and all the wonderful things that come with it – for example: Twitter Tools.

Twitter, like any other social media concept, provides a method for promotion like nothing else. It also creates a huge time sync, watching people, waiting for responses, re-tweeting, and actually tweeting content that I want my followers to know. But, with the advent of this Wordpress plugin, we can see less difficulty for tweeting—a great deal less.

As it will automatically tweet blog posts for me.

I’ve already tested it out with Vox Ex Machina (@voxexmachmedia) and I have also installed it on the Pets 911 blog (@pets911com). These are setups that already get a lot of visitors to the blog (Vox especially gets almost 2k visitors a day now—granted, that’s mostly because of nude and sexy mods for things like Fallout 3.) Pets 911 not so many, but we do have 57 followers now, and that’s only two days after setting up our Twitter account.

Now if only we had a working Facebook account.

The last thing that I did was also set up Twitter for Black Hat Magick via my normal account; it will be tweeting posts as they go live with the Twitter Tools 2.0 (by the way, it’s an excellent upgrade, adding lots of excellent changes. I wholeheartedly suggest it even over the previous version and over TweetSuite.) This way I can pre-load a set of chapters, and then just have it update for my various readers—and my Facebook account—even while I’m away being sucked into book signings.

Be sure to check me out, and take a gander at all of my upcoming work.

I’m going to be out of touch for a while after Friday, but there’ll still be updates…

Follow me on twitter!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Horizon Realty puts foot in mouth, then swallows leg

In a snafu that only the RIAA and MPAA could have topped, Horizon Realty of Chicago have managed to stir up a tweetstorm of negative sentiment in a PR disaster where they took a single tweet by a disgruntled ex-tenant and threatened to sue her.

I am here not only to add my 2¢, but to glom my blog post into the snowball.

This from the best blog post on the subject:

The Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday that Horizon Group Management LLC, an apartment leasing and management company, has filed a libel suit against former tenant Amanda Bonnen.

Apparently Ms. Bonnen sent out a Tweet on May 12 that read in part:

“Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.”

Horizon Realty Group didn’t like that, and has filed suit.

And then, in the most brilliant glaring PR error ever, Chicago’s Horizon Realty Group make a statement to the effect of, “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.

Is that a whoops or a WTF?

Link, via The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, and article, via the Chicago Sun-Times.

(Did I actually say “tweetstorm” above?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Project Wonderful fun

Well, my registration for publishing ad space on my newest webserial, Black Hat Magick, went through. So things are looking good. Certainly, it may take some time to get enough notice to make even a few cents a day—but, hell, anything is going to be helpful to pay for hosting and other things.

I just started into Chapter 8: Vote Early this week; this is where things get a little bit fun, I’m playing around with the concept of student elections. I even got a kind and wonderful comment!

Think the story is ghostbuster-esque?

I just realized that, in fact, I don’t have any jokes in the story from Ghost Busters! What am I doing ignoring such an important icon of geekdom? I must rectify this situation.

Now, I just need to convince people to review the story on Web Fiction Guide

Sunday, July 26, 2009

VenomFangX and his triumphant not-return to YouTUBE

So, the whole Ray Comfort vs. Thunderf00t discussion was posted on YouTUBE. Thunderf00t spends a great deal of time speaking against Creationists, and anyone else who misrepresents empirical scientific knowledge about the world and our universe. As such he runs afoul of people like VenomFangX who from day one regurgitated the well-debunked lectures of Kent Hovind (convicted fraud, felon serving time in prison for his crime.)

He posts videos revealing the bad arguments, propaganda, and intellectual dishonesty of the Creationist movement and its proponents.

Shortly into the video, I saw this:

Uni = One

Verse = A spoken sentence

VFX has his etymological background messed up, verse in universe is from vertere, which is “to rotate or turn.” This sort of poor scholarship is indicative of VFX’s dishonest presentation—not because he gets things wrong, but because he gets them wrong, gets corrected (over and over), and never chooses to learn from it.

Thunderf00t doesn’t ridicule people about their delivery; but he does shine light on the ridiculousness of the content. Making fun of Tf00t for stuttering while having a cordial discussion with Comfort and then using that as a segue to claim that Tf00t is a hypocrite for showing people to be ridiculous is pure asshattery.

Tf00t has never claimed he has an absolute understanding of everything and he doesn’t claim to know things he doesn’t—in fact, this is the point that VFX harped on all through the first five minutes of the video. But then around 5:54 VFX says, “…you claim that you have an absolute understanding of everything.” How transparent is that?

6:25 VFX looks to an exchange where Comfort plays a game of equivocation with Tf00t. In a friendly discussion everybody doesn’t force everyone else to define everything, but according to Comfort’s context he basically tried to say “life = soul.” And Tf00t is thinking that Comfort is referring to an untestable, uncorroboratable supernatural force and is arguing against that.

I recognize the “your dog and your horrible neighbor are drowning which one would you save?” question, and I’m puzzled why Tf00t even answered it—although, he does seem to be Aspergers to a bit, which means that this honesty is going to be very pointed. Why he didn’t just turn it around to: “A white man and a black man are drowning, who would you save?” or even “A man and a woman are drowning, who would you save?” to Comfort. The positive effect of this hypothetical situation is designed to provide values for lives, and it’s intrinsically true that as social creatures we do automatically apply value to life when in life or death situations. Come to think of it, the pointed question back to Comfort would have been to take away the “dog” (inhuman) status from the friend.

So VFX: “Your sister (or how about best friend) and your horrible neighbor are drowning, you can only save one—who would you save?” By the way, we’ll flash “Love your enemy as yourself,” on a billboard as you’re deciding. Using this sort of question is really uncalled for in any sort of cordial debate.

VFX’s not-return video is poor criticism and in the vein of his usual disingenuous presentation.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Symptoms may include hypersalivation

Today we applied some Flea & Tick medication to Pullo.

The stuff was really liquid, dribbled all down his back, wouldn’t stay in place and as a result, he could lick at it. And this is exactly what he did. And then he started foaming.

Grglglgleaglh, said Pullo.

Thankfully, we were informed by the veterinarian that hypersalivation—henceforth known as attack foam—is a common side effect of when the cat licks up the medication. It would pass with time. And it did. I exploited the fact that he loves ice-water to get him to drink a bunch and dilute the stuff.

So we had a fun day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Starting late, but not ending early

Volume 13

Been having a bit of writer’s angst lately. I only just recently finished polishing up the first chapter of Mill Avenue Vexations Vol 13. And it’s been something of a bear. I think maybe that I’ve fallen into a rut like Cory Doctorow tweeted about earlier this week—I am beginning to really hate my current writing projects, which suggests that I’m almost done with them

Vexations Vol 13 is only 3 volumes away from the end; and I really need to start thinking about how I need to resolve and otherwise bring things to a head. It’s slow going but … I think that I can do it.

I am aiming for 36k words in less than the next two months so we’ll see how well I do.

Just my general run-of-the-mill update.

I slung that chapter off to one of my beta readers and I’ll get to work on the next one tomorrow. At this rate—assuming I cannot up the rate—I’ll have this volume polished up by Friday. I won’t start really editing the hell out of it until I’m done with Volume 16. Which, well, may take me a bit longer than the end of this month.

And then the artwork commissions start.

So much work, so little time to do it in.

Project Wonderful

So I registered for advertisements on Project Wonderful on Black Hat Magick. I know that I don’t have thirty (30) posts quite yet, but I’ll have twenty-three (23) tomorrow, and as the weeks go by, thirty will appear. Hopefully they don’t hold this against me and see that I’ve been a pretty good publisher and advertiser insofar and keep that in mind.

I could use the extra tiny amount of trickle money to help pay for the hosting.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sketches: Black Hat Magick, Elaine, Hadaly, and Frog


Rebecca Gunter from SOAP has been working on some new character portraits from some of my work, and here are the preliminaries that we’ve been working with. It may be a week or so before we have color versions, but those will be posted slowly onto the Black Hat Magick website.

Elaine is the main character, geek extreme; the next girl is Hadaly, an Artificial Intelligence seen in her android body; and finally is Frog—yes, that’s just a nickname—with her fencing foil and Dungeon & Dragons nerd t-shirt, “Yes, they’re natural” d20s.

Thunder over Michigan, no kidding

Yesterday our house was buzzed multiple times by extremely loud, low flying jets. At least they looked like fighter jets. Not complaining, exactly, it’s not like they were doing these maneuvers during the early morning (afternoon really.) I just figured I’d like everyone know what I discovered about what might have been going on.

One of my flatemates figured that it involved Willow Run Airport, an airstrip within jet distance, showing off their wares. Then, today, I started looking into more things happening there and I discovered an airshow happening soon called Thunder Over Michigan.

You can check out the air museum's four-engine B-17 and twin-engine B-25 -- along with many other aircraft -- during Thunder over Michigan at Willow Run Airport.

The highlight of the event will be demonstrations by the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels. The precision flight team will be making its only Michigan appearance of the summer. There also will be a salute to Vietnam War veterans and re-enactments of events from World War II and Vietnam.

Now, as to why articles like the above refuse to put dates (it does say Saturday and Sunday, but it would be nice if there was something like July 17, 2009.) And I don’t understand why a lot of online newspapers simply refuse to link their sources. Sure, the URL is on there, but it’s not hot linked. Deliberate? Very likely.

Why don’t they just get over themselves, hot link in articles, just activate “open in new window” with target=“_blank” or something and stop annoying users with bad Internet etiquette? Please.

Link, via the Free Press about the upcoming Thunder Over Michigan Airshow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bookworms, chuzzles, and – RPGs?

Well, I’ve been working slowly on Crime Scene Unit Obscura for my wonderful kaywng and also on the next season of Mill Avenue Vexations. That’s the writing front. However, other things have been going down.

Such as my very own review of Chuzzle Deluxe by Popcap Games for Vox ex Machina. Now, I’ve also been playing Fate II, another tiny game downloadable and playable—but really, the one that is catching my attention right now is one about a Bookworm.

Apparently, over at Popcap there is an RPG that involves spelling and a role playing game. I’ll update everyone on how that goes.

In between collecting delicious chuzzle eyeballs and beating down waves of enemies Gauntlet style in Fate II.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For Sale: Hell, and Step On It

You can own a copy of Hell and Step On It right now for just $1.00.Buy "Hell and Step On It" by Kyt Dotson

This story originally published in the Twilight and Thorns horror anthology by Circle Dark Press—an anthology that has gone out of print—is not available again in e-book format. Instead of trying to find something that is no longer in print, you can buy it here.

Here’s a piece of Mill Ave Vexations canon and you will also be helping continue the writing tradition of these stories.

Formats exist for the Amazon Kindle and others that can be read in Stanza on the Apple iPhone!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Deal: Mill Avenue Vexations comic book


Been playing around with my graphics skills, trying to set up advertisements for this upcoming comic book. I just finished lettering the pages and it's about time to get this to the printers.

Here's hoping all of that goes well.

Now available for sale!

Link, via Mill Avenue Vexations

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

BLOOD: Vampires at last…?

Oh, Saya, as if we didn’t have enough vampire animés to go around—but still. Who else is with me in that BLOOD+ and BLOOD: The Last Vampire had a certain strange Nipponese school girl trope going for it.

Now they’re going live action with it.

And I gotta say, the costume certainly made me snicker the moment I saw it on the screen. I suppose we’ll have no small part of blood flinging from katanas this Friday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Web Fiction Guide listing for Black Hat Magick

Black Hat Magick has gotten a listing and a review on Web Fiction Guide! This website is the premier website for all online fiction and the webserial community.

Plus, Chris, the main administrator of the page has given me a fairly good review--although he does have a solid criticism of my writing style. Perhaps I should work on the overall wordiness; a flaw reflected in that I started writing this one for geeks.

Visit the listing, and, if thou may be wont to do so, please leave me a review.

Link, via Web Fiction Guide.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Black Hat Magick: Chapter 2 – Barbarians

Just got to the point where chapter 2 is now fully published: chapter 2 part i and part ii.

I am still fighting with the Wordpress Hemingway theme. I’ve enlarged the font on text posts and made it a little bit lighter to assist readers. But, does anyone know about a plugin that permits me to put in some sort of a CSS modification widget that will allow people to increase/decrease font size overall?

I suppose I could write one myself.

We’ll see.

Friday, June 12, 2009

“Dread Vote” the first novel of Black Hat Magick by Kyt Dotson

Has just finished it’s first week, and thus it’s first chapter!

The first chapter is up, I will be delivering the story weekly; split up into two parts per chapter Monday, Thursday.

For those who missed it, there’s also my miniseries comic Do AIs Dream that is now complete (for now.) I am looking for feedback, so if you visit, please be sure to drop a line on any chapter. Once I’ve gotten chapter two in place I will be submitting to the Web Fiction guide!

Buckle up everyone, Dread Vote should prove to be one wild ride.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Do AIs Dream: 5 – HELO

Wednesday, and the week that Black Hat Magick will officially release coming up soon, and we’re already on the sixth strip of Do AIs Dream. Go read Do AIs Dream: #3 – Texture and #4 – HELO.

As anyone who has played with Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) will remember that HELO is one of the response codes for talking to the server. I used it as the title of that particular strip because this is the point in the miniseries that Elaine starts talking to newborn Hadaly.

The last strip comes out tomorrow.

Next week, the story begins.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Karissa Niehoff and Paula Schwartz are douche bags


So there’s a bit of a titter going on right now about President Barack Obama’s nominee for Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. I recently read an article about how she was part of a panel that dismissed an appeal by a student blogger against the principal and school superintendant for disqualifying her from student government because of dark words she’d posted in an opinion about them.

I’m not here to comment on the nomination. But I am here to call this principal and superintendant what they are:

Asshat douche bags.

The exception here is that neither of these cretins are actually able to readily injure me by misusing their granted authority. Just like Avery Doninger, I am posting on my blog, which is not connected to their school and I’m publishing my opinion about their self-righteous, bad behavior. The difference here is that I am not in a position to be wrongfully scorned by these sniffy creeps who misused their authority as school officials to snub Doninger.

Now, these two jerks could have done the right thing and backed off after they thought about how petty and asinine their behavior was; but no, they wanted to take a mule’s stand on the subject and went straight-backed into a court battle over the issue. Of course, if the qualifications for student government include such vagaries as “this student is qualified or not because I say so,” it makes it a legally indefensible position to suggest that they did something wrong by the law; but if they had any other sort of standards, instead it makes these two look less like stand-up adults doing their jobs and more like whiney butt-hurt ninnies who looked at the blog post and said, “She’s disqualified because she said something mean about us! WAAAAAH!

No wait, even if it is legally defensible they’re still juvenile asshats.

Karissa Niehoff and Paula Schwartz grow up.

Link, via NBC.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Do AIs Dream: 2 - Imperfect

Monday, being Memorial Day, suffered from a significant lack of visitors when the newest strip of Do AIs Dream: #2 - Imperfect.

Working my way into the narrative of the strips. Pretty much, this is a way for me to introduce the story to people by talking about one of the characters. It's almost half-way done.

Go check it out.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do AIs Dream: Second Strip

Friday, I posted the second strip to Do AIs Dream, #1 - The Edge.

Already elicited some pondering comments about how epilepsy could be similar to a computer reboot and random interest. So thou could come along also and take a look!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do AIs Dream?

About a year ago I envisioned a spin-off for Mill Avenue Vexations in the form of a spunky, geeky college student story and now it’s coming. Introducing the beginning strokes of Black Hat Magick.

Black Hat Magick is a series of occult noir detective fiction webserial novels written by Kyt Dotson. The stories follow the exploits and adventures of college student, computer geek, and occult detective Elaine Hadaly Mercer. She begins her career as an undergrad at Arizona State University majoring in Computer Science and Engineering; but comes from a long blood line of dabblers in the arcane arts with a strong bent for the scientific—hitherto that strange alchemy of genius courses through her veins and neurons.

It is going to start off with a miniseries webcomic called “Do AIs Dream.” The very first strip published this morning.

Wander on over there, let me know what you think, subscribe to the RSS. Let’s make an event of this new webserial!

Also, I think it would be interesting if people would like to write messages to the individual characters. I might even run a tiny contest (where people could win signed back-copies of Vexations.) So, during future posts, feel free to write commentary to characters in the story. We’ll have to see how that might run.

Do AIs Dream? a miniseries webcomic for Kyt Dotson’s Black Hat Magick occult detective noir webserial.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vex Harrow Cosplay Images

This is a repost of a news item that I recently put onto Mill Avenue Vexations. The reason is that I’d like to get this one far and wide. At the recent Anizona 2009 during April, an absolutely amazing friend of mine came dressed as Vex Harrow based on the cover of Something Funny Happened at Matsuri.

There’s another picture in the news post, but this is probably the best one that I’ve received. There’s a few more from the con itself, hither and thither. It was rather a fun surprise.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The VenomfangX Scandal: Venomgate over?

YouTUBE is a place rife with drama of every sort, however, few times are quite as dramatic as today when I logged in to discover numerous people from across different communities talking about the same thing: VenomFangX has left YouTUBE.

For those who aren’t savvy to this particular part of the Internet, or even this little tribe of thought, I’ll give a little bit of background. VenomFangX is a YouTUBE user who uses his evangelical creationist Christian message to basically run his channel. I mention it because it is the sole and primary purpose of his presence on the site, he makes no pretence about it, and it represents his eminence everywhere he goes. VenomFangX is the worst representation any religion could ever have—he's charismatic, smarmy, insipidly drippy, condescending, and borrows most of his material from fraudsters and asshats. He is, for lack of a better term, a popular villain.

He has left YouTUBE in the past; and now he’s doing it again. (Last time to no effect, obviously, as he didn’t leave.)

And he’s doing it on the heels of a huge donation scandal perpetrated by him. It started out in April when he posted a video about how he couldn’t keep a job because he simply couldn’t keep from proselytizing to customers; and he even proudly strutted his lack of work ethic when he displayed spools of DVDs he had burned at his current employment, using their equipment for his own gain. It is unsurprising that such antisocial behavior got him canned from so many jobs.

Thus, he came to his avid and adoring fan base and asked them for money.

Initially he asked for $500 a month—or, as he put it, for 500 people to give him $1 a month. In the video where he asked for this he intimated that he would give any amount over $500 a month to charity and named Sick Kids Hospital in Canada as the recipient. A misspeak on his end, perhaps, but he did little to then actually offer this money to them; instead he repeatedly attempted to renege on this by pretending that he’d said no such thing when soliciting donations.

Numerous tubers rose up to document, dissect, and point out the flaws of his behavior. His previous behavior certainly did not work in his favor in this as few people outside of his cult following find this to be on par with his previous actions. April ended and he probably collected far, far more than $500 but there’s no indication that he delivered even a cent of it to Sick Kids Hospital.

Numerous complaints rained down on his PayPal account, contacts to the Canadian revenue service, and even Sick Kids Hospital. His PayPal was shut down twice due to fraud. And now, his YouTUBE channel and website are gone.

The reason given is that he’s been receiving death threats from Muslims. A claim yet totally unsubstantiated. However, a message on his website states that his parents took it down, that they don’t support his actions, and they apologize if he offended anyone.

Links to two series on YouTUBE that help elaborate what happened, and who VenomFangX is. These are mostly cultural critiques by people who don’t like him very much, but they will probably give a good example of one side of the story. The other side is accessible via related videos and searches if you want to expand the depth of your net into this seedy event.

Goodbye Venom. Although, I doubt he’ll be gone for long. Here’s hoping this was the community nipping the next Peter Popoff in the bud.


VenomFangX Fraudster Exposed! by LordHathor

Dprjones examination of VenomFangX

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

So, I’ve been hearing more about suspected cases of H1N1 A flu virus near me in Michigan. I have also heard that another nearby county is closing down public schools for the week for it.

For those who know that I’m out here in Michigan right now, I just wanted to assure everyone that my chances of being exposed to Swine flu, or any variant of flu in general, is actually fairly low. Also, although I am a “young person” by definition of the words, the very fact that I have a weakened immune system possibly puts me at less risk than most.

Although, five years ago I had to go into the hospital for normal flu.

Stuff is keen out here. Everyone should understand the H1N1 epidemic is at phase 5 (confirmed human to human contagion, in multiple countries. Link to phases.) So the closures of schools and attempts at reducing overall coverage is an elemental first step into helping control the spread.

Stay clean. Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face while in public. You can do your part to help slow this thing down.

Friday, May 01, 2009

On Gothic Literature

The word goth has come to mean many things in our Post Industrial complex world: the Modernists have painted its name with black; the Post Modernists have draped it in the strange scrim of subculture anthropology and music; and the everyday scoffs at the word as if it holds little more meaning. The Goths were a tribe of Germany who hollered at the Romans, shaking spears and shields—they were the barbarians. And so the modern usage of the word goth still retains some of its old meaning: the gothic is that which is barbaric, viscerally atmospheric—truthful of the sublime but horrible depths of the unkempt mind.

When I say Goth, most people will have fluttering thoughts of bands such as The Crüxshadows, Marilyn Manson, and Type O Negative; of black clad individuals wearing dark eye shadow over bleak and pale faces; of vampires, werewolves, and all manner of horrible monsters from the night—but all of these things owe the origins of the atmosphere they so vainly stretch for from the annals of gothic literature.

Often gothic literature will pedestal things such as mystery, ghost stories, strange and archaic architecture, sleepy villages, family secrets, and castles. The striking prose of these novels often follows a hero who is of rarified constitution and often flawed beyond repair being swept up into circumstances designed of his own curiosity. Gothic literature has run a great gamut of authors from Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley – and have grown through that great tradition to the modern times through the work of H.P. Lovecraft and other weird horror writers.

A great deal of the focus of gothic literature is less on the fleeting inequities of life, human drama, or anything so trite; but usually rests in the subconscious fear and revulsion of things outside of perception and steeped in superstition and mystery. The unexplained, weird behaviors and customs of local townsfolk of quiet, pastoral towns, the fading memories of ancient and near-forgotten lore—all of these things make the delirious draw of gothic literature what it is.

The term gothic has taken a great deal of abuse over the years, mostly from the ignorant and wanting who think they are lashing out at juvenile subcultures; but it has a vaster, deeper, and more magnificently unfathomable history to it than all those modern-day pretenders. To any writer who wants to join into this grand tradition I say: go back to the roots first. Even a tremendous tree must be grown from a seed and a great deal of cultural unconscious exists in every writer and piece from Walpole to Lovecraft. The essence of things that have scared people have existed in the same nascent jots since the origins of the mind.

Know your literary grandparents and do not fear their influence; as much as they knew what they were doing for the eras in which they wrote their knowledge and craft may give you the buoy needed to place your own writing within the reach of all those would-be fans who are trembling somewhere in the darkness, a flashlight in one hand, a book in the other—and waiting for the next terrible truth to raise the hairs on the back of their neck.

Bram Stoker revitalized ancient mythologies and strange architectures with Dracula, keying into the latent worries of surrounding British peoples about the risen dead, returned to feast on the blood of the living. Frakenstein reflected terrific dreams brought on about electrical galvanism bringing dead flesh back to life, and the horrible ostracism and mistreatment of parents and children. Edgar Allen Poe walked the treacherous and twisted hallways of the disintegrating mind and the murderous impulse; flaying them out and shining that brutal attentive light through them.

The desire and want to be scared and terrified makes up the best bookworm’s adrenaline draw, and there are few things more terrifying than the truly weird—elements such as ancient and decrepit castles from bygone gothick eras, decaying over strange aeons under their weight of their own mold-cracked stones, and housing deep, lost-recollected secrets. They are all there, somewhere in the low rumble of the prose of many the classic gothic novel author and twinkling in the eyes of the new. Every family has a dark past somewhere, every white-picket fence and stately house has a ghost story in their neighborhood—and for each one, there is a reader: waiting, ready, and willing to be chilled to the bone by the bizarre truth of it.

A suggested bibliography:

· The Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole (Full text at Project Gutenberg)

· Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley (Full text at Wikisource)

· The Vampyre; a Tale (1819) by John William Polidori (Full text at Project Gutenberg)

· The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe (Full text at Wikisource)

· Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker (Full text at Wikisource)

· The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (1997)

Monday, April 27, 2009

A safe return to Michigan

I am now safely back in Michigan.

My room is a lot like how I left it. A disarray of things scattered against the walls, empty floor beckoning me constantly to curl up and stare at the ceiling, boxes lurking in corners, and my bed gently purring...

Wait a sec. Purring?

On closer inspection my bed appears to have an extra entity not originally placed there by me upon my exit to Arizona. As I've been out, my roommates have gotten themselves a cat! The feline appears to be black in coloration, making him perfectly camouflaged to sleep on my bed.

They're calling him Cat for now--there is a name but I haven't fully heard it yet. The reason is because they're still deciding wether or not we're going to be keeping him or sending him onto a new home. He's a rescue kitten, from what I understand, although now a full year old; the person who got him for my family works for a local humane shelter and paid for his neutering and microchipping. He's healthy and happy.

I spend almost all of my day indoors at home, so he'll have plenty of company while I'm here.

I am also told that he has a harness. Although I am not sure what kind of energy he produces that we might harness him for it... Alright, so it's so that we can him outside on walks. This has only been done once. I might try it myself sometime.

I remember when Djenna was joking that she had gotten me a surprise.

I had asked if I was getting a pony.

A cat will do.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some fanart from one of my artists

One of my artists (Rebecca Gunter) just came back with some fan artwork for Vexations. It's a cartoony Vex Harrow. Absolutely adorable. I am so thankful I have these wonderful artists to work with.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My return to the north

Looks like my return to Michigan is upcoming. Just got Volume 12 released, so that was excellent. It's the end of my year.

There are so many amazing people that I'm going to miss. And some that I'm going to try to take with me.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful time while I was here.

I think that I will be posting some book reviews for what I read over my town down here in Hades; but as its time to return to Olympus...

Okay, so my friends back in Michigan seem to suggest that I have a Demeiter complex. The seasons change, I move between Michigan and Arizona -- unless, my moving changes the seasons? Hmm? Has anyone else noticed that it always rains when I leave?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

YouTUBE and the murder/suicide of Tony48219

This guy has been little known on YouTUBE for some time—he was berserk, crazy, and barely audible in his vociferous screaming when he shouted people down, cackling with barely withheld crazy. At the time, he was just a fringe idiot, the sort of babbling drunken crazy that pukes in the town well; only seen by some time-to-time when someone decided to use clips of his insanity to frame other messages.

Nobody expected him to fly apart.

This tragedy has been bringing together a lot of different people on YouTUBE especially in the communities that Tony48219 moved in. It is … a shock to the system, a reason to cry, to laugh, to hold serious conversations, and to rant mindlessly. DonEdoxus2, The Amazing Atheist, JezuzFreek777 and many others have been throwing in their 2¢ on the issue.

We’ve lost someone. He certainly wasn’t a cornerstone of sanity—he wasn’t even that popular—but he went out by murdering another person, snuffing out her life along with his, and we might yet remember him hoping not to discover the fragility of the human condition in his descent into madness.

It’ll be solemn to see where we go from here. We've seen a loss...

This horror will fade, it will soothe with time, but the echoes of it will still shape the community we build.

Anizona 2009: Lasting Impressions

To wit, I have only had one experience with a convention before—and I spent the entire time under a table (more on this later)—so I cannot say that I have much of an idea for exactly what a convention should be like. This said, I am still going to be a little bit hypercritical of some of the more major faults that fell out; but I am overall pleased with Anizona ’09 and I really hope to see them again.

The schedule and programming were hell to find especially on the web pages. None of the navigation took us anywhere we expected to go, and no information was forthcoming. In fact, this became quite a bear and possibly wrecked a lot of the events at the con due to people being unable to find them…but it gets worse…

The schedule and programming booklets were alphabetically sorted! In the immortal words of our ferret, “Because we encounter events in alphabetical order in real life rather than chronological, I like all of my schedules to be alphabetized.” This rendered the booklets pretty much useless to the con-goers except as amusing distractions whist looking up events we might want to see, but quickly discovered we either missed or had to miss to see something else (which we only barely discovered later by flipping to another letter.)

As for organizing and actual programming that was wonderful. There were a number of excellent panels, events, and random nonsense going on that managed to fill out the days with good cheer. I didn’t get a chance to go to most of them, but instead rather enjoyed mingling with all the other characters.

The registration fee ($20) was amazingly acceptable and absolutely wonderful, and in fact rather makes up for the programming issues. This particular cheap cost made it a lot more permissible to actually show up, and be part of the con culture.

All this said. There is no Anizona next year.

According to many of my friends this event was much better organized and run than any before it—even with all its faults—and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. (If for no other reason than someone, whom I adore for this, decided to come and cosplay as Vex Harrow. She made the con one of the best events I’ve ever been to in my life.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Volume 12 Cover Artwork

Here's the cover artwork for Volume 12. I am going to try to get prints of both these covers. It might make this particular run a little bit more collectable.


(c) 2009 Lise-Lotte Tjernstrom


(c) 2009 Zak Hennessey

This upcoming volume is named Waking the Stones and I'm trying to juxtapose the two separate worlds that are described in it. It's about time that we get a better understanding of what's going down in Phoenix, and Darlene is going to be our guide. She was stolen away in Volume 3 and now she's being given back to us in Volume 12 to deliver a message...

I hope everyone enjoys this last installment of Vexations for this year. It's been an excellent, however tiring, run!

Anizona 2009

I just spent the entire weekend at Anizona 2009. An event which Arizona really needs badly, which everyone who attended the closing ceremonies has heard is going to be on hiatus for at least a year. So there will be no Anizona 2010.

I have collected a certain number of notes from the experience—including some observations on how many Naruto headbands vs. Urahara hats appeared (Friday, Naruto won; Saturday, it was definitely Urahara.) We saw zombies, mercenaries, a giant moogle, Yoshi, and many excellent cosplayers. We even experienced the Gong Show which was an amusing jaunt—at least Friday and Sunday, the Saturday Gong judges treated the thing like the worst of American Idol and fairly much made the experience a bit of a letdown. If I had it in me, I might have actually tried to sing at the second one. Except that judges didn’t want singing, and I’d already caught some form of con crud.

Yes, there really is a word for it: Con Crud. Whenever you put that many people together, for that long of a time, some form of epidemic is going to spread—in this case it’s an evil sort of phlegmy sore throat. Knocked out the upper-register of my voice. Try singing with no upper register.

Geeks are also not well known for their hygiene and cosplay outfits quickly pick up dinge and funk even in a matter of 24 hours worn.

In the news of the neato and sweet, a friend of mine even came on Friday, cosplaying as Vex Harrow.

I will work out some of the other stories from the event as the week wears on.

No Mill Avenue Nights this week—it was all animé convention.

And there are indeed photographs.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Small update that isn't so small

Hails everyone, I just wanted to let everyone know that Volume 11: The Shattered Violin is now available for reading online at Mill Avenue Vexations. Ssh.

Nah, I'm kidding on the hush part -- go tell anyone thou damn well please -- tell a lot of people. I just haven't had a chance to write up my full release and post and everything to bring cheer and joy to everyone. Everyone let me know what they think.

The actual, highfalutin notice will come shortly. I just wanted to let everyone know.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vampires, vampires everywhere but not a drop of blood

I just came across this little web gem of an article on Vampire rumors spur alert at Boston Latin School.

"The headmaster believes that the outrageous rumors had reached a point where she had to say something to families to ensure that all students felt safe and respected," said Chris Horan, School Department spokesman.

While the episode sounds like something out of "Twilight," last year's hit film about a high school girl who falls in love with a vampire, it may be closer to the movie "Mean Girls."

Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the incident said a group of girls at the school had been bullying at least one other student who likes to dress in Goth-style, a vampirish look popularized by musician Marilyn Manson. The officials said the girls began spreading a rumor that the student was a vampire who had cut someone's neck and sucked the blood.

As a Goth—and oft mistaken or asked if I’m a vampire—I’d like to assure everyone that this is actually a rare event. I haven’t met any vampires in the supernatural sense, even if I do write about them; but I have met sanginarians. It’s a fetish where couples drink each other’s blood. Certainly this girl could have been exploring being a sanguinarian, but I find it highly doubtful.

High school, like most other venues, is full of blatant stupid. There are multiple power struggles and total disconnects happening within the student body itself and even moreso the rift between the students and the faculty. High schools are a sociologist’s nightmare. We’ve become a society of overactive cowards who don’t spend a moment to examine the hysteria over high-damage, extremely-low occurrence events.

OMG vampires! So much less likely than Oh My Goth.

So cheers to all us black-clads out there, don’t forget to smile in the rain. I hope the girl in question bears her reputation as the vampire-rumor-center as a blood red badge of courage.

Sanguis est vim!

Monday, March 30, 2009

JamesRandiFoundation YouTUBE Account Suspended

I don’t know how to respond to this – primarily because I have no clue why it happened – but all I can say right now is that this is stupid on the face of it. James Randi is an amazing illusionist (it’s right there in his stage name) and he’s also an excellent resource for looking into the false claims of psychics, scam artists, con artists, and televangelists who claim faith healing and other unproven and grossly bogus activities.

And now his channel has been suspended by YouTUBE. It is not uncommon for people like the above to run false flagging campaigns, to misuse the DMCA, and to otherwise abuse the law and other resources to attack venues like YouTUBE in order to suspend their detractors. And YouTUBE, following the DMCA law and their own policy in a fashion bereft of actual wisdom—suspend on whim.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mill Avenue Nights Saturday, March 28th 2009

Art Fair always has a weird calming effect on the crowds that visit the Ave, but it also reconstructs the pathways that people can carry themselves along the bricks—primarily so that they can get out into the road, and twirl and stand in the middle of intersections. A rare event.

Papa Soul set up in his usual spot, this time hidden by the tent of a food vendor and an ATM machine. Still, the sound of his music dominated the near-empty intersection even with the tents standing in the way. Blues echoing through the crossways and byways.

Amanda, Heather, and her steampunk-dressed crew made it out to the Ave again. Rolling like a gang of extremely well dressed visitors. Which amused me greatly. I am especially in favor of anything that increases the overall Victorian steampunk, or gothic aesthetic of the Avenue—especially since the loss of Rocky Horror Picture show caused a casual decrease in such things.

There was a physical assault incident involving one of the buskers on the Ave who has been around for about a month. A member of the Mill Avenue Resistance had a sign reading, “BUTTSEX 4 JESUS” which was torn in half by the busker and he struck her across the face with it. I didn’t get a chance to interview him about the event because other members of the Mill Avenue Resistance decided that they wanted to confront him about it—namely Kazz wanted to.

Little He-Man, Ben, came out as well to see everyone wearing his kilt and white-eye contacts. We spent a little with discussing events while various people wandered around the Ave. The crowds were far less thick than they were Friday evening, but still present, music played loudly from different venues.

I didn’t get as much of a chance to see much of anything, especially friends, due to an extreme headache.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The long silence, coming to an end

I apologize for the long, strange quiet. I have been rather busy with several things going on between my continued work on editing the first book of Black Hat Magick, finding a Canadian publisher/distributor for Mill Avenue Vexations, and getting my hands sunburnt...

Yes, yes, I know. I should carry a parasol when I’m in the sun or something. Either that or I'm just going to have to wear gloves when I intend to spend such a long time out during daylight hours. At least I don't bloody sparkle like some vampires I know (no, I am not a vampire.)

The experience with Brother Jed on ASU campus was nothing short of sublime. We had a visitation by Normal Bob Smith—who even dressed up in the contemporary image of the Christian mythological deity Satan. Then got to talk to many lovely people, found at least two who are now fast fans of Vexations. Good start. Jed has always been excellent for that. I also had a chance to read through a review of his book—with variously unfortunate results: Who Will Rise Up by George Smock, a review.

It'll take me some time to get a lot of my work down for Mill Avenue anthropology and my ready readers. Also there’s lots of things going on in the fiction department as many may guess. Volume 12 is preparing for release next month—and I’m still trying to get Volume 11 out on the web ASAP.

Much to come.