Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Friends and Celebrities

We have a couple of friends with a 7 month-old baby. They are named Heather and Mike.

This makes my life a little confusing since my wife likes to talk about celebrities and other pseudo-famous people we know of or have communications with as if they are our dear friends.

So, when she says something like, "That's what Heather and Mike did." I have to pause and ask, "Our Heather and Mike, or the Spohrs Heather and Mike?"

I can't always safely assume one or the other. Both sets of parents have a child with enormous eyes and a big personality. They seem to be quite similar.

Lately, I've had a hard time discerning reality from fiction. Especially when it comes to identity, all wrapped up in celebrity influence.

My grandmother just told me in an email that I look like Ryan Philippe.

Even though I've seen many of his movies and Antitrust is one of my favorite films of all time (I shed tears at the end--that whole insignificant-hacker-sticking-it-to-the-corrupt-man-through-global-broadcasting thing always makes me feel nostalgic and warm inside) I had to look up his name on Google because I'm just that bad with names.

My wife thinks I look more like Michael Vartan, the guy from Alias she had a crush on for the longest time. Except for one thing: he's a little too old to play me:


I think my wife looks like Drew Barrymore, but only in the days when Drew was hot:


Lately, we've been running around causing chaos on the world, I hacking major corporations for the good of mankind, the wife spouting poetry and getting all Charlie's Angels on everyone's ass and our little baby Drew starting fires with her mind:


She's usually really sweet and happy but when you get her mad, your hair usually catches on fire. She makes the cutest monkey faces :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Words of Bigotry

WARNING: this blog post has some words that may offend you. None of these words are written in the context of intending offense but if you have such a low tolerance that you cannot see some words in print without having an aneurysm, turn away. Maybe visit T-Shirt Hell or T-Shirt Hell for Kids and desensitize yourself. Then come back.

Last week, at work, we had some very inappropriate conversations. It all stemmed from a risqué new catch phrase the company is thinking of using on the home page. I'm not going to say what it is. If it makes it to production, you'll see it. If not, you won't.

So, when I got to work and saw this phrase, for some reason, I totally missed its WTF factor and glossed over it. Then one of my co-workers looked at me and said, "OMB, is that really going to say this!?" (OMB: Oh, My Blog!)

I was suddenly aware that I had missed this and also came down with a case of mild shock and a serious need to jab some humor, lest this go without ridicule.

This is when all of the developers, designers and everyone else who is not related to marketing came over and expressed their OMBs and WTFs. As one developer so aptly put it, "Oh, shit! LOL!"

Hearing the scoffs of nearly the entire staff during the morning meeting, our marketing expert decided to show us a slide show, depicting our structure for talking about the company both internally and externally. This was to show us how they come up with the language they use.

And this is when we had our HR nightmare moment.

We all followed along with the presentation, slowly coming to terms with the vision for how we present ourselves to the public, when suddenly a slide bore the phrase, "don't be retarded."

Now everyone chimes in a note.

"What!?"
"Um.... that's not ok..."
"I actually find that offensive. This is a personal matter to me. That's not cool."

"This is just internal." Says the head of marketing.

"No, really, that's not OK, even internally."
"Yeah, that's like saying, don't be a Jew", says the resident Jewish guy.
"Yeah, or don't be a nigger...." says another. Then this person turns to the one dark skinned person we have in our company. "And I mean that purely as a bad taste example. This is totally inappropriate." Then he looks embarrassed.

After the presentation, a few of us gather together and have a pretty nice discussion on slang bigotry and its adoption into mainstream media--and what is becoming accepted and what will never be acceptable. This conversation had everything, awkward pauses, honest humor, insightful realizations, and a conclusive visit to T-Shirt Hell. Among other conclusions, we found that just about any name can be derogatory and sometimes it just depends on who is speaking and how the name is presented. Context is key, but some words immediately strike bad chords with people, no matter what.

At some point in the conversation, the common misconception that some derogatory words are being 'taken back' by the oppressed came up. Although I had not thought too much on this before, I realized that this concept is complete bullshit. At least in practice. I think it's a good theoretical plan, but it fails in reality. Why, you ask?

You can't fight bigotry using mass media when bigots own mass media. I am referring, of course, to television, music and movies, where propagation of bigotry is most effective and does the most damage in shaping pop-culture and defining acceptable linguistic patterns.

The characters in the media who use derogatory words on themselves in a joking or playful manner are nearly always represented as undereducated or otherwise satirical characters. You are supposed to laugh at these people and think poorly of them. This ends up making the concept of reclaiming these words into a joke. You never hear intellectuals in the media using derogatory words in this way.

If James Earl Jones started referring to his children as "his niggers", people would freak out. But Puff Daddy can sing about it because he's from the hood and people from the hood are supposed to be undereducated and bad-to-the-bone, anti-PC and righteous about it. Now, Puff Daddy might be a brilliant mo-fo. He might be an intellectual genius. But he doesn't sell intellectual genius. The character he sells is the stereotype. This pattern continues for sexual preference, any skin color, religious leaning, gender or any other of the countless ways people are different.

Now, we get into dark realms when we start talking about what 'They' (referring to any group of people) prefer to be called. Some groups prefer one thing, others something else. The simple fact is that language is deciphered internally by the individual. Your reaction to the language people use depends on your personal experiences. These days, people from all walks of life can grow up within all other walks of life. Just because you fit a physical stereotype doesn't mean that you even relate to it the same way someone else with the same (or a similar) physical does.

Some people profess that you shouldn't refer to "Native Americans" as "Indians" because it's offensive. But really, Native American is just as offensive to some. Obviously, the original inhabitants of this continent never considered themselves Indian, because, hey, look at a map. But this continent isn't America to some of them either. Through the ages, people have made up countless names (Red Indians, American Indians, the American Indian race, Original Americans, First Nations, Indigenous Peoples of America, Amerindians, Amerinds) but it's all just more inaccurate and bigoted labeling (read more about the controversy on Wikipedia). An Apache or Sioux is an Apache or Sioux. But since people are so fond of generalized labels (mostly because very specific labels are cumbersome to acquire and to say), these names rarely come up.

And what am I?

I like to think of myself as a Pangaean American. My ancestors go all the way back.

OK, this is getting long winded and digressing into too many tangents. Let me just end by saying this:

I'm all for people reclaiming insults with humor and gusto. I hope it will work someday. But as long as Hollywood can pay Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker to make racial slurs at one-another, it's all still an insult and nobody is going to take a verbal reclamation seriously. If we really want to change how people view these words, we need to start by teaching our children that the media can't be trusted for acquiring communication skills. Then we need to change the media.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

100 Word Challenge: Moral


Morality is a logo you wear on your jeans. It's just a brand name for ideology, painted in neon lights and flickering in the mimicry of LCD screens.

A mother screams and everyone watches it on YouTube, you're glued, included in the cheerful masses, witnessing reality through fearful glasses. Step back, relax and get back to the facts. Get with the low-down, strip down your defenses, download new senses. Discover and create, uncover the hate, grab onto your lover and alter this state. Look at life through a clean and clear lens.

The moral of this story is this story never ends.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Summary of the Presidential Debate

Today's Exploits of Ninja & Child episode is on hold to make way for political ranting.

One of the candidates gave solid answers to questions tonight, the other compared himself to his idols, who happen to be two of the nations worst previous presidents and continuously sidetracked to reminiscent sympathy stories.

A full transcript of the debate is on CNN
(although, it fails to account for childish scoffs and panic stricken faces)

Here is my paraphrasing of the whole thing.

LEHRER: How do you all stand on the financial bailout, are you going to vote for it?

OBAMA: We haven't seen what it is we are voting on yet, so I can't say, but I'm optimistic we will come up with an agreeable solution. But we also need to identify how this happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. I saw this coming and warning people years ago. Nobody listened.

MCCAIN: I hope so, sure. And, wait, I did a lot of warning too a few months ago when this really hit the fan. I also think we need to hold these people accountable, which is what I will do after I ramble on about this story that has no relevance...

[then they parry and thrust about accountability and ague about who has the better tax plan briefly. Obama points out McCain's statement 10 days ago that the economy is fine. Obama disagrees with McCain on this.]

LEHRER: What are your fundamental differences?

MCCAIN: Obama wants to spend a bunch of money on frameworks for his master plan. I don't want to spend any money.

OBAMA: Yeah, I'm going to spend $18 billion on infrastructure for energy independence, education and economic reform, while you are going to GIVE AWAY $300 billion to wealthy corporations. You want to give money to the wealthiest 5% of the country and I am going to give it to the other 95%. You're just feeding off of more of Bush's economic hand-me-down policy.

MCCAIN: Well, I'm going to ignore your valid jab at my $300 billion giveaway and continue on attacking the less than $1 billion you have earmarked and your plan to spend $18 billion later. I know a couple hundred million dollars isn't a lot of money to someone like Obama (or me, chuckle), but it is to the American People! And he's even planning on spending.... um.... $800 BILLION DOLLARS!!!1!one11!!!!1

OBAMA: Your smoking crack. Nobody has said anything, ever, about $800 billion in spending. You're just making stuff up. But it is a FACT that you are actually planning to give away $300 billion to companies that don't need it and aren't even asking for it. We can't afford another 4 years of the same madness we've seen in the last 8.

LEHRER (to McCain): Respond directly to him about that, to Senator Obama about that, about the -- he's made it twice now, about your tax -- your policies about tax cuts.

MCCAIN: Well, here's the thing. Corporations in America are supposed to pay 35% tax. It's only 11% in Ireland where businesses are generally small and have no significant bearing on the world or on their economic system. I don't want all of our companies to move to Ireland so they can pay 11% taxes there. And, let me get back to that all that excessive spending the government is doing. That's just wrong. I don't care what they are spending it on. I want to give every American a $5000 tax credit so they can go shopping for their own health care. I don't want to have to make a health care plan for the country. Let people do it themselves. $5000 should be enough to cover anyone's medical costs, right? I'm not raising taxes. READ MY LIPS.

LEHRER: Senator Obama, you have a question for Senator McCain on that?

OBAMA: Yes. With my plan, no American who makes less than $250K/year will get a tax increase. I'm talking about 95% of Americans who have been shat on my your style of economic policy for the last 8 years. And McCain isn't telling people that that $5K comes with a stipulation. He's going to tax your health benefits. Your employer will have to pay extra for your health care and if employers then decide it's too expensive, you are entirely on your own for health care.

MCCAIN: Oh, you're just talkin' the talk. I vetoed a bill that was going to give billions to the oil industry.

OBAMA: But now, you are going to give them $4 billion o_0. And, how does that even relate to this conversation, you fucking douche?!

MCCAIN: Look at our records. I've got history and experience on my side. And look at Obama's record. He voted to tax people who had incomes under $42K.

OBAMA: That's simply not true. You're spouting lies that anyone can go out and verify through public voting records. Are you really that stupid?

MCCAIN: Oh, it's a fact, you can look it up!

OBAMA: It's not true. But you have setup policies that are going to give $4 billion to oil companies. That's a fact. And people will verify it. But you can dig your own grave full of lies.

LEHRER: All right. All right, so how is the $700 billion bailout--or however much it ends up being--going to affect your term in office. Will you have to cut back on some of the changes you want to make?

OBAMA: I have a tiered system. I want to do a ton of things and I will get many of them completely done but on a few, we will have to start with infrastructure and do the rest later. We WILL be free of foreign oil in 10 years. We will have a better education system. We will have investment in alternative energies. $700 billion is a lot of money. It doesn't just grow out of the governments ass. We will have to be thrifty but effective.

MCCAIN: All I care about is that we cut government spending. That won't be affected at all by the bailout. I have no plans to make the country or economy better in any way.

[more long winded banter about too much money being spent]

MCCAIN: It's well-known that I have not been elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate.

LEHRER: What are the lessons on our war in Iraq?

MCCAIN: WE WON!!!! But we can't leave yet!

OBAMA: Um... no we didn't win... al Qaeda is resurgent, stronger now than at any time since 2001. We took our eye off the ball. And not to mention that we are still spending $10 billion a month. We are doing our national security a massive disservice by ignoring the real issue with this facade. We've almost spent $1 Trillion on this war and lost 4000 US soldiers and had 30K soldiers wounded.

LEHRER: Do you agree with that, the lesson of Iraq?

MCCAIN: The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not. It's not important. Obama has never been to Iraq! And He's never been to a hearing on Afghanistan. [Later reports indicate that McCain has never been to one, while Obama actually has]

[Lots of banter about war tactics]

MCCAIN: I got this bracelet from a mother of a dead soldier and let me tell you this story about it for a while.... [McCain rambles on]

OBAMA: Um, I got a bracelet from the mother of a dead soldier too. I wasn't going to mention it because it has nothing to do with this debate but I'm going to mention it to prove that you are a dumbass who has nothing relevant or unique to say.

MCCAIN: I don't think we should talk to our enemies. The silent treatment is the best. Oh, and I admire Nixon and Reagan. Those were the days.

OBAMA: Um. No, that didn't work with North Korea and it won't work in the future. And WTF? Are you insane?

MCCAIN: You're parsing words.

OBAMA: No, I'm not. You deaf old fool.

MCCAIN: It's well-known that I have not been elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate.

[McCain then chokes on his own vomit and clears his name from the running list]

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ninja as Child - #6 - Cereal and Waffles

In the cafeteria, at my kindergarten school, in Jacksonville, Florida, I'm standing in line, waiting for my turn to make the biggest decision of my life: Cereal or Waffles.

Unbeknownst to my five-year-old self, this choice will mark a turning point in my life. It will serve not only to populate my morning with the most important meal of the day, but also to teach me a valuable lesson in respect, humility and hand-eye-coordination.

For the first three days of school, I had chosen cereal. It seemed quick and easy, familiar and comfortable, tasty and nutritious. My favorite was Rice Krispies with a child's handful of smuggled in sugar.

"Cereal or waffles... cereal or waffles? CEREAL OR WAFFLES!?" The chef is staring down at me, hands on hips, awaiting my answer.

"Waffles today." I'm going for something new. I start to think of myself as worldly, soon to be experienced in the ways of variety. Waffles. I'm the man. The chef hands me a plate with two little waffles and two cubic packets of maple syrup.

I wander to a free table and set my tray down, sliding in coolly in front of it. The waffles are still slightly warm from the toaster-top pickup window where they have probably been waiting all morning. They smell great. Fork in hand, I'm ready.

I grapple with a packet of syrup. The metal-paper lid is stuck hard. I can't manage to peel it up but I give it the old elbow-grease.

*MMMMMMMHHHHRRRRRRRRMMMMM* rip!

That little rip is the sound of syrup screaming "Freedom!" from a vacuum sealed prison. My fingers, hands, even my elbow are all covered in syrup. The table captured most of the brown goop but somehow the waffles dodged the explosion completely. The packet is spent. It has nothing left to offer.

"Good lord, son!" The principal is glaring down at me. She's this tall, slender, black lady in a purple Victorian dress. She is furiously disappointed. "Just look at that mess you made!"

I go for the other packet.

"Boy, you best not open that." She holds her arms akimbo, burning me with the Fire Stare™ she learned in Academic Administrative training. She's too late. I'm already gripping it with both hands and yanking with the force of a hungry child. Again, the packet gives way without warning.

This time, the waffles catch some of the sauce. I ignore the remainder of the syrup as it flies out over the heads of my neighboring classmates and I shove the entire first waffle into my gaping maw with fervent voracity. I swallow half of it before the syrup reaches peak height. On its way down I jump up, holding the plate with the remaining waffle. I dive low to the ground to catch a glob of sweet sap. It lands with a palpable splat, filling the fried flower pockets.

Before I get back to my seat, the Principal is there, hand on my arm, pulling me away.

Her arm drips a sugary brown and I smile. When I get home, my step dad teaches me never to choose waffles again.

The next day, I choose waffles.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Short Dissertation on the Expectations of Motion

I demand expediency. When I run up an escalator, I expect to fly, to be instantly transported to the top. When running down an escalator, I fall at the speed of sound, gently tapping every third or fourth step on the way. When I walk, I want to glide, to fall on the ground and roll, flowing with the current of the terrain, retaining momentum regardless of obstacles.

Running should be like swimming. The air should fold around your limbs with ergonomic embrace, softening the pull of gravity, being ripped by the cusp of your fingers and creating little eddies within the arcs of your arms.

Gravity is comforting yet frustrating. I want to collapse into its embrace, but not to slam my body into the earth with faltering recklessness.

You cannot trust physics to respect your expectations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's the Dilly, Yo?

I have been trying to come up with a consistent schedule for my different types of posts.
This is my tentative plan for each day of the week, which I've already been trying to keep:

Sun: 100 Word Challenge
----- I have been keeping up with the weekly 100 word challenges from Velvet Verbosity and I will continue to do so until I receive gobs of hate-mail... and then I will probably still continue.

Mon: ?
----- Something random and unexpected. Maybe I'll beat up some deserving bastard or infiltrate some wicked organization.

Tue: ?
----- Probably a rant or an update on something relevant to current affairs. Or maybe just some novelty like this post.

Wed: Wordless Wednesday

----- This is where I will post random pictures of my daughter from the week before, so all you parents out there can gush over how adorable Code Name Alice is. I'll also, occasionally, toss in a couple of more random pictures I've taken (non baby related)

Thu: ?
----- Another undecided rant from the week.

Fri: Ninja as Child
----- This is the autobiographical part of this blog. I write these with the hopes that someday my daughter will read them and understand my childhood. Also, if I go crazy and forget everything, it will keep a nice record. Unlike my other posts, which begin with reality and sometimes digress into dream or fantasy, these are true to my memories...usually.

Sat: Exploits of Ninja & Child
----- These are my Ninja Quests and adventures with my daughter. Lots of fun.

There will also be the occasional Haiku Holiday as well as other guest topics that randomly barge in. For the most part, though, this schedule should hold true.

If you totally hate my lineup or want to suggest something, comment away.

Monday, September 22, 2008

SleepTracker

I just ordered the coolest gadget!

The SleepTracker

Why is this so freaking cool, you ask? Because I like to track my sleep? Yes. Because it monitors your sleep patterns, records them and wakes you up at a time when you are well rested? Hell, yes! Then you can download the data to your computer and create a graph. I'm so in.


...
Villainous ninja bandits have stormed into my house, interrupting this post. More later... DIE!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

100 Word Challenge: Yearning


I lay my head, eyes closed, but my mind is a network of busy signals and electron light, flashing and rushing through an enthralling stream of consciousness. Visions of butterflies with nanotech wings fly by. There are trees with fractal leaves and back-slashed roots. I've got a Technotropolis brewing. It's filling my mind's eye with the rhythmic patter of drum beats, visual indentations on a moving landscape, overflowing my inner ear with the splattering of hi-res images as audio interpretations. My senses are all jumbled and direction looses its meaning.

I'm yearning for sleep. It comes to me in my dreams.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Exploits of Ninja & Child - #7 - Short, Sweet Sonic Shriek

[I've been drinking tonight, so this post is short]

We're running through the forest, Code Name Alice and Sleep Deprivation Ninja, covered in the cloak of night.

Androids in human facade are close behind, sprinting, jumping, gliding toward us with efficient grace. I dodge one as it swoops overhead, attempting to grab at Alice, who has her head poking out of the Moby wrap at my chest.

With no time to waste, Alice decides to practice her latest skill.

She wails like a banshee. Her scream is reminiscent of a cheap horror film. It actually curdles the electric blue blood-like liquid flowing through the android veins.

They collapse in sad, wasted heaps of scrap metal and artificial flesh.

Another pack of bandits bites the dust.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ninja as Child - #6 - The Whistle

I am, once again, sitting at my desk in kindergarten, attempting pay no attention to anyone around me. I do this well. My pockets are full of knick-knacks and I have one of those round, metal pea-whistles that gym teachers use to shut people up. The wooden ball inside rattles around and I'm wondering how it got in there. It's too big to fit through the air hole, so there must be another opening.After a thorough inspection, I deduce that the ball must have been put in the whistle before it was fully pieced together. The edges of the whistle are tight but it's clear that the whistle wasn't manufactured in one single piece.

The teacher continues to talk, given some lesson, to which my young, distracted mind is not privy.

I like to draw. I like to draw so much that I always have a pencil and a sheet of plain white paper--and I mean plain white, not ruled, not lined, not tainted with any pre-artistic renderings; it's just white. So, I decide the best way to examine my whistle is to draw its parts and try to figure out how it goes together. Beginning with the easiest bit, I turn the whistle over on its side and begin to trace the outline. Who needs that freehand methodology when you have a live subject to trace?

After the pencil makes it all the way around the whistle, I look at the result and I'm disappointed. It's not right. The outline is too big and some parts are jaggy, especially around the back of the whistle where it has a chain knob that got in the way of my pencil. I try again. It's still not right. Again, I trace the whistle. And again. And again.

As I'm tracing the whistle, the room is getting louder. The teacher isn't the only one talking anymore. Everyone is gabbing randomly at each other. Two voices next to me blend in with the four to my other side. Further voices mingle in with the fray to contribute more chaos and wild confusion. I'm now tracing faster and faster, trying to focus against the verbal cacophony around me. Soon, there is no more room on the paper to put another prototype of the whistle and I start to overlap my tracings. Now, my paper is coated with graphite in big swirly masses and subtle hints of form. The noises grow louder and I cannot distinguish any of them. I cannot focus with all this racket!

I pick up my whistle and blow. I blow hard and long.

*bbBBllLLLLeeEEErrRReeErReEReEEppPPPP!!!!1!11!!!!one!!1!*

Silence.

For a second, my mind melts into peaceful focus and I see the inner workings of the whistle. The whole system is clear, brilliant, beautiful, a perfect machine, perfect in its simplicity.

"Who did that!?" This from the teacher, who was looking the other way when I ripped the atmosphere with rolling metallic ringing.

Every single student in the classroom raises an arm and points directly at me. They hold this pose for, what seems like, several minutes. I'm surrounded from all directions by pointed fingers and glares. Nobody is smiling; all are accusing.

Suddenly flustered by the onset of guilt and shame, I fail to notice the teacher standing in front of me, demanding my whistle. I just stare straight through the statue-esque figures and absorb what remains of the silence. The teacher raises her voice several times, each time louder, sterner, more an echo of impending punishment. Finally, I am jarred to reality and I loosen my grip on the whistle. She snatches it away and it's gone. It's all gone: the whistle, the perfect image of the mechanics in my mind, my inner tranquility, my dignity, my desire to explore the unknown.

I am but a boy, one breath away from living. I hold that breath within me, tightly, fiercely, unwilling to release myself into this unwelcoming world again.

Everyone looks away. The noise continues as if uninterrupted.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LaRouche: SDN Takes a Bite out of Neo-Fascism

I'm walking to the bank and pass a couple of politically brainwashed college students who are trying to pass out LaRouche propaganda (Wikipedia | Public Eye).

"The economy is collapsing!" One of the neo-Nazi activists screams.

I have to stop, turn back and start something here. "And why is that a bad thing?" I look right into the face of the early-twenty-something-bimbo-wannabee-political-savior-revolutionary and raise my eyebrows for emphasis.

"What do you mean, why? If the economy collapses, the dollar will be worthless and everyone will be out of work and the banks will foreclose on everyone's homes and we will all relive the great depression! Haven't you been paying attention to the news?"

"When the news is not sensationalized, it's sometimes accurate. But listen. The economy is going to the crapper. I agree. But this is a great thing for people our age! We are so freaking lucky this is happening right now. This is the time to buy stocks in Intel, Apple, Google, solar power, wind power, wave power, public utilities, water companies, etc... these companies are worth billions and they are not going to vanish. This is a monetary low and it will get a bit lower but in twenty-thirty years when we retire, the stock we buy now will have bounced right back up. The houses we buy now will likewise be worth way more than they are selling for now. Your crazed armageddon prophecy isn't going to happen. It doesn't work that way. Do a little research before you join a cult."

I'm talking like lightning so the bitch can't squeeze in a word, so I take a quick deep breath and continue. "The economic trouble is only bad for people cashing out their retirement funds NOW. And, I agree, it sucks for them. But proselytizing neo-fascism is not going to solve their problem. Their problem is right now. Other than that, the economy is freaking awesome right now."

"You don't know what you are talking about. Lyndon LaRouche is the best economist in the WORLD! Read this!" She pushes a catalog of mind-blowing totalitarian drivel in my face.

"I'm not touching that. Have you actually read one of those? I have. It was total bullshit. He doesn't say a single meaningful sentence. It's like talking to a Scientologist on crystal meth. It's complete drivel."

"If you don't care about the world, then you can just keep walking." She looks at a guy in a business suit and offers him the 50-page newsletter. He waves his hand and keeps walking.

"No, no, I do care about the world, that's why I'm standing here, standing up to political de-evolution. This is very sad. I'm going to have to destroy your organization."

She instantly turns red and throws down her wares. Her eyes glow and, raising her hands in the air, she extends five-inch knives from her fingertips, hisses like a snake and swipes down at me.

"Ah! Fuck!" I'm not in my ninja suit but I can't just stand there. Action is required. I pop her in the jaw with a snap of my elbow . Her cohort is standing there stunned. He's younger, probably 16. He obviously didn't realize that biomechanical weaponry enhancements in the marketing slaves are part of the LaRouche campaign, a design of the perfect race to protect his totalitarian rule. The boy looks at me with wide, scared eyes, afraid I'm going to bash him in with a roundhouse kick. "Sorry kid, you're in the wrong circle of friends."

He runs away in tears.

The psycho bitch gets up off the floor and lunges at my legs. I leap into the air and she crashes into a downtown stock trader.

"Hey, watch it." He shouts at her, but he hits the ground hard. The police come around the corner just as I blend in with the crowd. "Officer, get this crazy girl off me!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Ninja Uniform: Disappointment

Update on a previous post, regarding a new ninja uniform:

My new ninja uniform arrived. It blows. I'm not even going to put up pictures because it sucks that much. But here's is some dude wearing what looks like the same design (it's not me):


How does it suck? Let me count the ways:
  1. The hood comes in two parts. the first part is a thin, light, silky head cover with eye slits. Huge eye slits. Massive. My nose almost pokes out. The second hood piece is a helmet mask. It wears like a cap and wraps around the neck. This second piece has a pointy top and is slightly too small for my head, so it pokes up like a black Ku-Klux-Klan hat. I wore it for about ten seconds before I realized it wouldn't flatten and began to feel like a clown.
  2. The pants are ridiculous. Even my jeans are more stealth, comfortable and practical than these 'ninja' pants. Too many freaking laces.
  3. The shirt is just a karate gii, which is a too baggy and loose for Ninja.
  4. The arm sleeves, which loop around your middle finger and go under your shirt/gii, are totally useless and uncomfortable.
  5. The utility belt has pockets sealed with VELCRO! velcro. I'm not kidding. WTF! Ninja no velcro! Grrr!
I just imagine myself trudging into battle wearing this piece of garbage. The loose, baggy bits rubbing against eachother, grinding louder than cordorroy. Then I see my foe and I reach for a throwing star. ****RRRRRRIIIIIIIIIPPPPPP****, that's my utility belt pocket. Oh, no! I've been discovered. Bad ninja. But then my enemy mistakes me for a ten-year-old boy dressed up for halloween as the pointy headed leader of a cult. So, now I try to catch him off gaurd and whip out my badass ninja-fu. I try to fight but my arm gaurds are propping my hands up permanantly like a marionette. I'm frozen in permanant press.

Now I have to find someone to make new ninja gear for me...that's such a pain. Maybe it is worth trying to find my hidden gear. Curse you former master!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Typical Evening at the Ninja Fortress

I'm looking at this odd, yellow, half-of-a-melon, which is just sitting on the counter, a wet knife by its side. Turning to my wife, I say, "Hey, where's the other half to this melon?"

"It may or may not be inside my tummy."

"hmmm....What kind of melon is this, anyway... a Schrödinger melon? Or is this the famed Heisenberg's uncertainty melon?"

"It's an Up-Your-Butt Melon." My wife says with a sassy belly dance.

"Baby, don't listen to your mamma, people don't really talk like that." I direct this to Code Name Alice who is absorbing our parts of speech. She pays no attention to my warning.

"Yes, we do. Everyone talks like that." My wife decides.

A psychic speech bubble projects from baby Code Name Alice's head, "It's a squash melon!" I agree. It looks like a squash on the outside. The wife can't see these psychic speech bubbles (it's a ninja thing), so I comment on behalf of the baby. I get most of my good ideas from invisible speech bubbles that appear over my baby girl's head.

"It looks like a squash melon." I suggest.

"Yes," my wife humors, "it's a squash melon." Then she laughs at me like it's the most childish thing she's ever heard. "And you're the uncertainty melon."

"Don't say that. You're going to make me ambiguous about my location in space until you look at me. That's not fair." Although my wife is not a ninja, she possesses magical powers of influence.

"Ha, too late!" She looks away and I waver between being in the kitchen and being in the living room. It hurts my eyes for a minute. Then Alice saves me by looking at me and laughing. I appear in the living room. She looks away. Again I'm unsure where I am. She looks into the kitchen. "There's daddy!" And there I am.

"Ok... take it back. This is making me dizzy."

"Oh, alright, you aren't an uncertainty melon. You don't let me have any fun."

I solidify in a static location, my velocity finally certain. "You have all the fun."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

100 Word Challenge: Twist

Hear this! I solemnly swear,
with this pen, I speak the truth.
Listen closely, if you dare.
I've retained forbidden youth.

This pen, you see, brings misery
and laughter, life and death.
But it leaks its ink right into me
and brings me living breath.

On this pen I have depended
for years, centuries even.
Long ago, life would have ended
no deity to believe in.

Indeed, this small device
is elegant engineering.
With no intent on playing dice,
men are nature fearing.

This pen is mighty, more than sword.
It's only flaw: perfection.
I hold it closely, bring it toward
my face for close inspection.

Within my fist,
wound and tightly bound.
A simple, subtle twist
and it snaps without a sound.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Exploits of Ninja & Child - #6 - Twitter


Fleeing from the Temple of Forbidden Wisdom, Ninja and Child are followed by dozens of formerly enslaved peasants, all carrying stolen devices from the fortress. Ninja clutches the Sleep Retention Box with one hand and waves to one of the other runners who is holding a different object. The man approaches Ninja with hesitant obedience, grateful for the rescue yet frightened from the means.

"What is that device you have liberated?" Ninja queries with raised head and a subtle gesture.

"Uh... it's nothing... nothing, really. I saw one of the technicians playing with it and it looked like it didn't work. But... it looks nice, yes... I just wanted to take it. Oh My Blog! Is that a baby wrapped in your chest!? Did you just rescue us with a baby?"

"Uh, yes, this is Code Name Alice. She's my apprentice. She can kill demons with her laughter. Do you mind if I see that device?" Ninja holds out a hand to the man who looks away and stares deep into the wheat field.

"Uh... no... no, go ahead..." The man bows his head and thrusts the device forward to Ninja. Tucking the Sleep Retention Box safely in a secret leg compartment, Ninja grabs the new machine. It is about the same size as the sleep machine, but it has a large button on it.

"This button here... have you pushed it?" Ninja looks up to see the man shrug with embarrassment.

"I... thought... not to push buttons with no label... it might explode or something."

"But it says something here... it says, 'Warp'. That doesn't sound like a bomb." Ninja takes six breaths and before the seventh is drawn, his finger is pressed firmly on the button.

The air becomes crisp surrounding the two men and the baby wrapped against Ninja's chest. A gust of wind twirls upward, whipping them up in a tornado flash. The other escaping slaves look on in shock as the ninja and their nameless friend are eaten by the wind. A flash of light sparks above their heads and in a blink the men are gone.

From the view of Ninja and Peasant, the field remains. The air breaths in and out around them and a visible magnetic pulse warps the surrounding light so that they appear to be within a crystal ball. Then the ball grows a little, shrinks a little and dissipates. The other runners have vanished and it suddenly becomes apparent that the dark night has now, instantly, become midday.

"Well, this is very odd, indeed. I'd better twitter this." Ninja stows the unnamed device into his leg, pulls his iPhone out and starts up Twinkle (the location based twitter app). "um... this is very odd. It says we are in Germany!?"

A siren sounds in the distance. A jeep hums closer. Tanks. Soldiers stomping in rhythmic furry. Ninja begins twittering all of this with one hand as he grabs his confounded traveling companion with the other and sprints away. His unwitting passenger, holding on for dear life, is flapping and flailing in the air like a trailing cape. Ninja sprints very fast. At the edge of the wheat field, a swarm of military jeeps fly through the road.

A small dog runs out of the field, straight into the path of the jeeps. They scream to a halt, too late, crushing the poor beast.

Ninja continues to tweet, typing like lightning, bombarding twitter at 100 TPS (tweets per second). A soldier leaps from the jeep and shouts, "Halt! Was hast du gemacht! Arschloch!"

A picture signs a thousand tweets; video, a million more:


Friday, September 12, 2008

Ninja as Child - #5 - F

I'm in kindergarten, sitting at my desk, attempting pay no attention to anyone around me. I do this well. My pockets are full of knick-knacks and I'm fiddling with a piece of chain that I've been carrying around for a few days. Contemplating the links and how they got attached to each other, I start to imagine someone manually compressing each metal ringlet, one by one onto the chain. This doesn't seem right, so I stare intently at the chain; the perfect clamps puzzle my young mind.

In the middle of my inspection, a massive thump causes my head to instinctively jerk up to see my teacher who has just unloaded a stack of magazines onto my desk.

"To-day, klahs.... yoo wil bee ta-king theez mag-a-zeens and ser-ching fawr a let-er uhv the al-fa-bet." She addresses us using phonetics. As if we don't understand her, she speaks with a slow voice and high inflection on the vowels, bobbing her head as she slurs her speech. I wonder silently if she has an impediment or if she doesn't realize we all started talking about four years ago. She looks right at me. "Teyk wuhn." She holds up a finger as if I don't know how many one is. "And pas the rest uh-lawng." She points down the row of desks.

I grab a National Geographic and 'pas the rest uh-lawng' without looking at my neighbor. The magazines vanish from my hand and I pull it quickly back in.

"Suhm-bod-ee's shy-eye!" Teacher exclaims, like a children's show host on ecstasy.

I'm not shy, just ĭn-trə-vûrt-ed. I don't respond. Instead, I leaf through the magazine and admire the freedom of the wild caribou.

"Oh-kay. Wee wil go throo the al-fa-bet uh-round the room. Your uh-sahyn-muhnt iz too kut owt az men-ee uhv your let-er az yoo kan faynd and peyst them awn your sheet uhv kuhn-struhk-shuhn pey-per. Ri-mem-ber your let-er." She begins to go around the room, pointing to each of us. "A... B.... C.... D.... E... F..." That's me. I'm F.

I open the magazine and begin scanning the lines for the letter F. Gobs of words and pictures, maps and page numbers whirl past my eyes, but I see no letter F.

Frantic, flustered, furious and fixated on photographs, I'm fantasizing a transformation into a feral ferret, becoming wild and free, frictionless in fine fur, forgetting all about this foolish assignment.

"O-kay, ev-ree-wuhn... yoo shood hav found plen-tee uhv let-ers bahy nou. Ahy wil giv yoo uh-nuhth-er min-it too grab a kuhp-uhl mohr and then wee wil see hou men-ee yoo found."

My eyes dart from my blank, red construction paper to the girl sitting next to me. Her paper is full of the letter E. She has over a dozen of them already. The letter E! My mind fills with the woefully whiny voice of discontent. That's the most common letter in the English language. Why didn't I get the letter E?! This is so unfair.

My magazine is defective. It doesn't contain the letter F and I'm freaking out. I'm running out of time. Fuck! Hey, that starts with an F, I think, maybe that's in here. I've heard it a million times; I know it's a real word... I focus. I find my Zen. Going back to the magazine, I put my finger on a line and I start to follow it for miles, discarding every letter that is not an F, searching for 'fuck'. Finally, I find an F! It's not F for 'fuck' but it's an F!

"There it is!" I grab my scissors and as I pick the magazine up off my desk to put it in place for a cut, the teacher plucks it out of the air and away it goes in a heap with the others.

"Oh, it looks lyke yoo did-nt fynd a sing-guhl let-er F? Wuht wur yoo doo-ing heer this hohle tyme? Wel yoo get an F, nou." She says this last part with a frown as she bends over with a red marker and scrawls a massive letter F on my red construction paper. She circles it for emphasis but it's barely visible, red ink on red paper. The marking is slightly darker than the page, only from the wetness of the ink. She walks away, leaving me to stare at it for a few seconds until the ink dries and you can no longer see the traumatic loogie the teacher just spat in my face. It completely dissolves like a joke that nobody gets and I'm staring blankly at a blank red page.

I put the paper down and resume inspecting my chain.

It's beautiful.

In an instant, I'm gone, traveling to another world, riding above and below the lemniscate chain link waves, running along a valley of mobius strips, surfing on a sea of infinite possibilities.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Licorice, Liquorice, Lickrish... Lead? o_0

I love licorice. Don't all ninja love licorice? I mean real black licorice, made with real licorice root.

Red Vines are not licorice; it's just high fructose corn syrup and chemicals. Don't even try to pass that stuff to me. You'll be sorry.

I subscribe to the FDA recall list RSS (totally worth subscribing, lest you miss the fact that you are eating something that isn't on the label...and might poison you). So I get an update that says this:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- September 5, 2008 -- Lucky Country Inc. of Lincolnton, NC is recalling all of its natural black licorice products from [a large list of states] due to elevated levels of lead.

OK, stop the press! WTF!? o_0

How the hell did lead end up in my licorice... ok, it's not my licorice. I've never even heard of this company. But now I want to find some so I can stock my ninja belt with lead licorice. I'm just imagining the possibilities...

But then I read on:
Recent tests performed by the California Department of Public Health and the Food and Drug Administration showed that Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Gourmet Licorice Black (All Natural) in 1.5 lb bags contained a lead level exceeding the level permitted in candy....
Huh? o_9

How much freaking lead does the FDA permit in candy?!

Then I find this FDA document:
This guidance provides a recommended maximum lead level of 0.1 ppm in candy likely to be consumed frequently by small children. FDA considers the recommended maximum lead level to be achievable with the use of good manufacturing practices in the production of candy and candy ingredients and to be protective of human health.
So, now I'm wondering if Gourmet Licorice is something the FDA considers likely to be "consumed frequently by small children". Probably not. So how much did they allow in this licorice? Nobody talks.

Either way, I still wonder how even .1 ppm could be allowed in to their narrow classification--it comes from the sucrose, which the FDA permits .5 ppm (500% of the maximum) to be lead. Seems like something is amiss in the sugar making industry.

There's a quest in this for Sleep Deprivation Ninja. And he's packing licorice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Large Hadron Collider (LHC) Goes to 11

The jig is up. The CERN LHC was turned on today and after about 1 hour, it finished circling a beam all the way around and people cheered. And we didn't die. And did they discover the elusive clown called Higgs Boson? Wait, that's a particle? Oh....

Join Sleep Deprivation Ninja on an interview with one of the CERN physicists who took part in this development:

Sleep Deprivation Ninja: So, why didn't you create a black-hole big enough to eat the earth?

CERN Physicist: That wasn't our goal... my primary focus is trying to recreate the conditions of the big bang and find the Higgs Boson.

SDN: Who cares about that? I want to see the world implode!

CERNP: Sorry, I'm Swiss; we don't do that sort of thing. And, besides, the LHC just isn't capable of doing that. Yes, it's massive and expensive and does create little black holes but they are about as powerful as a misquito.

SDN: Well, I've just finished my own Hadron Collider and it goes to 11. So, I'm going to turn it up that extra notch and create an even bigger black-hole. Take that, physicist!

CERNP: What do you mean it goes to 11? You can only go to 100%.

SDN: You can only go to 100%, mine goes 110%.

CERNP: But why don't you just label it 0-10 and call it up to 100%?

SDN: No, no, see it goes further than that. It goes all the way up passed 10... to 11.

CERNP: ...


Instantly, hundred's of thousands of satellites shoot out from the earth and begin manufacturing clones, shooting their children off into further reaches of the galaxy. Once in position, they fire particles at eachother, one through another, in a massive ring shape. 

SDN: Tuuurn it uuup to.... E-LEV-EN!

The Higgs Boson appears but nobody sees it. A black hole emerges  from the center of the ring and pulls in Pluto, then some other non-planet sized materials. Then it picks up enough force to gobble Neptune and Uranus. Saturns ring becomes an elongated sling and is ripped assunder in a collidescope of spinning spacedust and rock. Jupiter moves toward the black hole and, although becoming elongated and warp, it doesn't stretch enough at entry and plugs up the hole.

Our solar system, or what remains, is saved by Jupiters fat ass.

Not Sleepy, Just Deprived...

Meet my side-kick. This is Dozer, he's a liar:


Dozer has been slaving away all day catching evil-flying-drone-bots with his teeth. He's exhausted. It's time for bed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Badass Daddy Blogger Calendar + Golden Shuriken Awards

...and now a post in two parts, pending nomination for the most links ever....

The Calendar

Ok, so... Mr. Lady semi-burst my bubble by telling me that they already have a 'Hot Daddy Blogger' calendar, but then I was like, "Oh, but do they have a Badass Daddy Blogger calendar? That's what I'm talkin' about!"

"So, who will be in this calendar?" she asks--I'm paraphrasing to omit potentially embarrassing dialog from the quote.

"Oh, well, definitely Black Hockey Jesus, Mike from The Newborn Identity, Sleep Deprivation Ninja :), hmmm.... I need to expand my list...."

"BusyDad will totally do it...." She offers.

Right. So here's the challenge: Who would you nominate to be in a Badass Daddy Blogger Calendar, to debut at BlogHer 2009, filling our pockets with gold and our phone books with the numbers of screaming fans.... er, that sounded better in my head... Oh, well, now just because the nominee has to be badass doesn't mean he can't also be "hot". I mean, obviously--look who is already on the list.

This is my brainstorm list so far (alphabetically):

Black Hockey Jesus
BusyDad
Captain Dumbass (Us & Them)
cIII (Goat and Tater)
Cynical Dad (Chag)
Dad Gone Mad (Danny Evans)
MetroDad
Mike (Newborn Identity)
Sleep Deprivation Ninja

...welcoming suggestions.

The Awards

I finally got around to making some Ninja awards for some of the kick-ass wordsmiths out there. If you don't get mentioned, don't feel bad, it doesn't mean you suck; it just means I forgot about you or ran out of time writing this...because you suck? No, no, stop thinking like that! You are a very special person and people like you. And maybe I'll mention you next time.... or not.

Of course, anyone mentioned above is welcome to these badges and certainly would spawn a nice dissertation on badassery as they all do KILL. But I won't mention all of them explicitly. They all deserve the Golden Shuriken Award, which is the highest honor a blogger can receive. No, really, the shuriken awards are safely stowed on top of the tallest temple in the Universe. You can't even get there without a spaceship. These awards are Cheech & Chong high.

But I would like to explicitly mention and award the following kick-ass bloggers:

Mr. Lady:
This girl deserves the Golden Shiruken because she's flirty like a school girl awesome. With a blog titled Whiskey in My Sippy Cup, she doesn't mess around. This is on serious alcoholic blogger. She rocks the ninja socks. Nuff said.

Black Hockey Jesus:
Can you give this man enough kudos? No, the ego only consumes them like a black hole. Hmmm... Black Hole Jesus. That would rule. "I am the savior of your soul.... and I will eat it, ssssssssllllllluuuuuuurrrrrrpppppppp!" Ok, I don't know where that came from. That was trippy. I think I just channeled some BHJ... But seriously! This guy is the reason I started this blog. I figured if Black Hockey Jesus can use his parenting as an excuse to live out his dream of being a writer, SDN can do the same, right? Hell yes, bitches. Oh, and he's a fucking hilarious, insightful literary master. dig it.

Mike:
If you are reading this, you probably already read the Newborn Identity. If not, go read it. This guy is a real awesome dad. He's got my respect. He's also funny and clever like a rabid badger who cares.

Jenny the Bloggess:
What is this SDN? These bloggers are all famous. The Bloggess is the freaking Bloggess! WTF? Do you think we live in a cave? Or is this just a sly but not so subtle ruse to try to get the Bloggess of all people to put an SDN badge on her site? SDN, you should be ashamed of yourself.
You're right... But I love her.... not in a creepy way... really.

Captain Dumbass:
This guy is the real thing. Funny, creative, genius. And he posts a lot of nice photos that are worthy of viewing.

cIII:
Word in-fucking-deed.

Well, that's all for now. There are just too many badasses out there to blag on about. So, if I mentioned you in this post, choose your poison below to display your badassery (and to show you care):

White Badge:




Black Badge:




Sassy Communist Red Badge:




Monday, September 8, 2008

Exploits of Ninja & Child - #5 - The Temple

The Temple of Forbidden Wisdom has no external security. The Keepers of the Temple rely exclusively on two factors of defense.

First: the entire temple is patrolled and monitored by an intelligent network of autonomous assault robots. Some fly around, while others reside in stationary but strategic locations throughout the entire fortress. And the Temple is a fortress.

Second: a large front door, towering a massive forty meters high, which, when opened, releases a mind altering echo of sliding granite and gears, instantly alerting the internal security drones, resulting in an extensive and painful interrogation of the entering party, usually leading to a shortened lifespan of all members.

Ninja and Child have been here before. They are not expected guests and would therefore be condemned to the same method of torturous dispatching allotted to any common trespasser. However, Ninja and Child, having been here before and, having successfully liberated a certain cloak from the Temple at one time, are aware of certain vulnerabilities in the system. Ninja, as White Hat as a ninja can be, had reported one security vulnerability back in the day when the Keepers treated him as a friend, back before he realized their wicked motivations for enslaving knowledge. Of course, as is the response of most vile corporations in modern time, the Temple refused to fix the flaw, leaving an obfuscated but easily exploited weakness in their system. But Ninja found more holes in their logic, more ways to enter unknown, and after being cast out of the Temple as a heretic, Ninja held onto these secrets for a later time.

That time is now.

It is no secret that, made of brick, the Temple walls are easy for a ninja to climb. The Keepers, do not fret on this fact because the Temple has no windows and it towers over the clouds further than an eagle can see, beyond the tower of Babylon, to the edge of the atmosphere. They say on the top, there is a landing pad for a space shuttle, which some elite Keepers use to travel to other worlds. Others profess that it must end in a sharp peak, piercing the edge of the sky like a blade from hell. Ninja and Child need not postulate. They need not go so high.

One vulnerability of the fortress is simply air vents. They exist throughout the temple walls, high and low, producing waste and refuse in gaseous form, mixing the Temple's foul breath with the air outside. These vents are unmonitored, unprotected, and easy to pull out. The tricky bit is putting them back in, but that is a lesser concern.

Once inside the Temple, Ninja crawls, with Child in wrapped embrace, through the ventilation ducts, relying on his mask to filter the nauseating air before it fills his lungs. The cloak does the same for Child. Both have remarkable filter capabilities. It's part of being a ninja.

The ventilation system traverses the entire fortress. Ninja stops over the main laboratory, on the 3rd floor below ground. Underground, the temple spreads far and wide, covering the base of the wheat fields that surround it for great, immeasurable distances. The laboratory is the size of a football stadium, with gadgets and technology laying in heaps and racks, waiting for the taking. Within an instant the ninja spots his prize. It's clear, though he didn't know before his journey.

In the center of the lab, three technicians hover over a herd of slaves, using them as guinea pigs to test their latest device. The function is clear. This is the dream machine, the sleep charger, a battery pack for evening respite and a transmitter for its release. Several of these machines are being tested by slaves, either sleeping or receiving rest. The device is stored on shelves in a portable, hand-held box, which opens up at the press of a button into a full reclining chair and helmet. The battery, stored within the chair, charges in real time, so the sleeper subjects are not going anywhere. The ones retrieving sleep only sit on the device for a few minutes, emerging with, what appears to be, a full night worth of repose. The technicians stand ominously, taking notes and shouting instructions to the hapless flock.

The first technician falls with a sharp shriek as a chunk of ventilation shaft crushes his sinister brow. The remaining two stare incredulously at their friend, certain it must be an accident. Surely the drones would catch a malicious intruder before such dangers could befall them. But as they stare up toward the ceiling and wonder as the Ninja descends upon them, one of the slaves leaps from the sleep giving chair and smashes one of the men with a helmet. Others quickly join in and maul the other man. Ninja and Child continues his journey downward to the ground.

Attack drones pour out of the walls, fly down and firing at the herd of slaves. One bot sees Ninja falling and flies over to make sure he is dead before he hits the ground. A crucial skill for a ninja is the ability to dodge projectiles while falling. This is a skill for which our ninja earned a golden merit badge in ninja camp. The drone fires precisely but fails to nail the target. Ninja lands on the drone and rips out its internals, heaving them toward the remaining bots as they change targets to him. There are two drones remaining, which is the perfect number for a dodge and duck attack. It's a favorite of the ninja because it involves inaction to create action. By allowing the drones to attack at once, from opposite trajectories, and dropping at the right time, the drones will smash into each other, just like the old cartoons where the unwitting bad guys fail to notice their impending doom.

Ninja hits the floor.

The drones descend in unison but their internal networking is based on locust formations and they fail to collide.

The slaves riot. Machines fall. Inventions erupt in flames and melt in molten puddles of ruin.

With the drones following in rapid, unpredictable pursuit, Ninja grabs a Sleep Retention Box and runs for a springboard on the ground. Before hitting the board, Ninja pulls the grappling hook from his belt and winds it up. The board is quite enough to carry the ninja all the way back up to the open ventilation shaft but the grappling hook sails toward a drone, catches it and pulls it into its mate with a thunderous crash, fissure and flash. The slaves cheer, following Ninja and Child, leaping on the springboard in attempts to catch the shaft. Some make it, others fall back down and try again. Soon Ninja and Child and their new friends are all outside in the fields of wheat, carrying little boxes of promise, sprinting into the new sleepless world.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

100 Word Challenge: Fusion


Come on into the Cipher Citadel, the code-corner of the continent. Scientists are creating the new crypto-cracking machine, an autistic cyborg.

Steam galvanizing fissures fill the flesh, lest any part be left fusionless, regressed. The imagination is caressed with unnatural neural networks. Steel runs through open pores, molding into nano-enhanced capillary tunnels, funnels of liquid information and electrical current capturing finesse. This is a new world. A dreaming machine unfurled. Broken up and torn apart, reborn with a heart. Pneumatic neurons in the arms and legs think outside of the mind, distributing data. Listen. It’s the sound of a cipher breaking.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ninja as Child - #4 - Hand-Me-Down Heroes

Hey kid! Yeah you. Listen up:

When I was your age, we were poor.

I didn't have the same heroes as my friends. They would talk about GI Joe and the X-Men and I would say, "Who? What men? They ain't from the guvunment, yeah?"

We had hand-me-down heroes.

In 1986, 7-years-old, I listened to Davy Crockett records on a cheap, plastic 45 record player. It whined and drawled out tales of his daring adventures in the wild west frontier and I sung along with the theme song. "Davy, Davy Crockett! King of the wild frontier!" I knew the god-damned political propaganda lyrics front to back.



I thought someday I could colonize a new world and tame the wilderness by killing savages too. But I would need a 'coon hat first.

Although I sang along with Davy Crockett, my favorite record was called The Reluctant Dragon: Staring Touche Turtle & Dum-Dum, a 1965 Hanna Barbera production:


This album came into sharp moral opposition with Davy Crockett and his kill or be killed ways. The Reluctant Dragon was a pacifist and Touche Turtle had sympathy and ended up convincing the town that they could live peacefully with the natural inhabitant(s) of the land, the harmless two-headed dragon.

I started thinking maybe my records had secret messages hidden in them. Like the cipher disks that Ovaltine sent out to fans of those old radio shows. Maybe if I just spin the record in different ways I could find a cohesive thread.

After weeks of playing with my records, backwards, forwards, DJ-spinning them in wacky configurations of wickity-whack, zip-zap, scratch, I finally found something.

While negotiating peace with the dragon, Touche Turtle can be made to say, "I...aM Davieee Crock-ett." It sounds strange but it's definitely what he said. I tried to get more out of him but aside from cryptic mumblings about rutabagas, he didn't really elude to the wild frontier. I tried to rationalize ways that Davy could have been magically transformed into a turtle, moving to a life of pacifist-sympathetic chivalry. It all started to make sense.

When we could finally afford a TV, we got an antique.

We were so poor, our television only got reception for shows broadcast at least twenty years in the past. We watched Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy as if they were modern, all black and white, in the height of technology. I walked around saying, "Golly, Gee Willikers. Ah, Shucks!" and, "Gee that's swell!"

When I said this to a friend at school, he nearly blacked out in shock. "Dude! What was that?"

I started blankly at my friend who was dressed like a New Kid on the Block and suddenly realized I was a little out of touch.

Friday, September 5, 2008

LETTER FROM LOLLY STEVENS

Sleep Deprivation Ninja is inebriated.

Yes, he has ninja powers... but he also has a strong Irish genealogy, which, contrary to popular belief that he can drink a lot, really means that his family tree is full of alcoholics and he has the tolerance of a 9-year-old.

So, I get home from dad's night out, an event orchestrated by our weekly parenting club and I check my email to find this:

LETTER FROM LOLLY STEVENS
MAY I APOLOGISE FOR INTRUDING INTO YOUR PRIVACY. MY NAME IS LOLLY STEVENS A CITIZEN OF WALES PRESENTLY IN ENGLAND. MY FAMILY AND I ARE HAVING PROBLEMS GETTING OUR FAMILY FUNDS(TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS) OUT OF A SECURITY COMPANY IN HOLLAND, SINCE THE DEATH OF MY FATHER. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO ASSIST US AND YOU WILL HAVE A SHARE OF SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS , BUT SINCE WE HAVE NOT MET BEFORE, I DECIDED TO SEEK FOR YOUR PERMISSION BEFORE GIVING YOU THE DETAILS. IF YOU WILL BE SO KIND ENOUGH TO GRANT ME THE PERMISSION, I WILL BE GLAD TO GIVE YOU THE DETAILS.THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND I WILL BE WAITING FOR YOUR RESPONSE. PLEASE REPLY ME BACK AT mslollystevens2@hotmail.co.uk
THANKS,
LOLLY STEVENS


So, in my drunken stupor, I write him back:

MR LOLLY STEVENS!!1!1!one!!

Oh, how pleasureful it is to meet you. I need money like never would you conceive. However, since, as you say, we have never met, I must confirm your intentions as honorable and your bank account as valid. Please send me the account number and routing number to the bank account, along with the login information to that bank, which holds the $22 million you wish to transfer away from. I will deposit two small transactions INTO that account and verify that it is valid before we continue on the path of this transaction.

Yours professionally,
Billy-Joe-Bob Honky III

Less than ten minutes after sending my letter, I received a reply:

SIR,
YOUR BRAZEN ATTEMPTS TO CONFRONT MY ACCOUNT AS INVALID HAVE INSULTED MY GENUINE NATURE AS A NATURAL TRUEBORN CITIZEN.
HOWEVER, I ENJOY YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEMEANOR AND I STILL BEGIN WISHFUL HOPE OF OUR BUSINESS. PLEASE SEE THE ATTACHED DOCUMENT AND OVERNIGHT FEDEX SHIP IT TO THE ADDRESS ENCLOSED. AFTER YOU HAVE FULFILLED THE DOCUMENT I WILL VERIFY YOUR ACCOUNT AND TRANSFER TO YOU $8 MILLION DOLLARS!
LOLLY STEVENS

Needless to say, without haste, I used my ninja speed to travel to the other side of the world, appearing without warning on MR LOLLY'S doorstep.

He was not aware of my identity, until I took him by the collar and held him three feet off the ground. He then blurted out in haste, "Oh, my good sir! I did not know the transaction would take so long! Please be patient and your funds will appear!"

"Oh, little man. I am not here for the money. I am the vengeance of the Interweb, which you have so greatly offended. I am English grammar incarnate, here to pull the tongue from your ridiculous maw. I am Sleep Deprivation Ninja." Then my drunkenness caught up with my sleepiness and I passed out.

When I awoke, my hands were tied to a chair but my mask was still attached firmly, and mystically to my sore and hungover head. The eye slot wrapped limply and impractically around one of my eyes, covering the other at a bad angle so I could barely see through it. A large, bald, sinister looking toad, wearing a white coat, waltzed into the room, holding a giant furry white pet caterpillar.

"Ah, Mr. Ninja! You are just in time to see my full plan of world domination unfold. How marvelous of you to join us in this hour of triumphant glory!" The villain pats his pet with malicious joy and continues in his raspy cigar smoking voice. "Perhaps you would like to hear my full plan before it comes to fruition? Oh, how I enjoy bragging my brilliance."

He then spent the next hour and twenty minutes telling me every detail about his plan to bankrupt the global economy after controlling the sun with mirrors and becoming the only source of natural light on the planet. He would be the slave master of the human race, the savior of mankind.

Suddenly, a hamster dressed in a blue suit, wearing glasses, fell from the ceiling and landed on the toad's head. "Oh! I do apologize for dropping in."

"Good grief! Penfold?" I asked.

"Oh, hello Sleep Deprivation Ninja. HQ thought you could use a hand, so they sent me in to help. Afraid I've botched things up a bit. I fear your toad friend may have a concussion."

Penfold then untied me and together we ventured forth to rid the world of villainy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Teleporting

Yeah, I had a buddy at the University who had this mutant thing going on. He could teleport, right? But he hated it. Every time he would teleport, he would experience the fatigue and energy loss associated with the distance traveled, as if he sprinted the whole way like a regular sap. But he also didn't teleport instantaneously. It took a little while. He would decide to teleport and vanish. Blip. Gone. But then he wouldn't appear again for a while. And then suddenly, blip, he would be on the other side of the room.

He had some of his math buddies from MIT help him work out the formula for how long it took to travel a particular distance. It turned out to be pretty simple. Nothing so simple as the amount of time it would have taken him to travel it anyway by foot, but simple enough.

When he teleported, he suffered a base penalty time of 180 seconds, like he had to rev up the spatial continuum around him before he could do it. Or maybe he had to spend some time wedging himself through a wormhole and squeezing back out at the other end. I always liked to imagine him standing there, invisible, floating a bit off the ground, spinning his legs in big, wide, frantic circles at incredible speed, like in the Scooby-Doo cartoons when they would try to run from a ghost but ended up just running in place until their feet finally caught up to their intentions and hit the floor. I always giggled to myself when he vanished.

But, anyway, if he wanted to teleport to the other side of town, he would be gone for three full minutes, plus the distance times a ridiculously small number, so the total time would be three minutes and some chump-change fraction of a second, and when he arrived at the other side of town, he would be out of breath and wheezing. But if he wanted to travel five feet, it would still take the full three minutes, so he couldn't use his power for simple cool tricks. There was just too much delay.

He began, over the years, to become depressed. He wanted to fight crime, to save lives, to instantly magically appear in a strategic position. But with a three minute delay, he couldn't predict where he needed to be. To offset his disappointment, he began fashioning a plan.

He started hanging out more with the two guys he knew from MIT who ended up working at NASA. Last I heard, they were helping him plan his final teleportation. He always wanted to go to Mars, alive or dead on arrival. They figured at 56 million kilometers away, it would take just over 9 hours to get there. Upon arrival, his heart would either catch up to the distance and explode out of his chest and he would die instantly, or it would, hopefully, take just a second to kill him and he might take one deep stolen-space-suit protected breath on a new, beautiful planet, before becoming the first skeletal human on Mars.

The last time I saw him was over lunch. He had a plant with him, all hidden behind a protective glass case. It was less like a plant and more like phosphorescent green spores all stuck together in a molded glob.

"This plant is the future, man." He told me with the excitement of an entrepreneur, chowing down his salad and fries like they were the last he would ever eat. "Its genes are spliced with a jellyfish so it glows in the dark and it's built to survive and propagate on Mars. I had to liberate it from this lab over at NASA but I'm taking it with me, man! I'm going to terraform the planet."

After that lunch, I never saw him again. From time to time, I would think of him and hope that he was just hanging out in that mystical void and would reappear right next to me at a moment's notice.

Until August 27, 2003, I hadn't thought of him for almost a year. Looking through the large telescope of the University of Washington observatory, peering right at the red planet, in its closest proximity to earth in almost 60,000 years, in that marble of meteor beaten red, I swear, I saw a little patch of green.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Banks

I hate banks. They are evil. They are creepy, slimy and corrupt.

And somehow, we all buy into them. Imagine an honest sales pitch from a bank to an average account holder:

Bank: Hey, give me your money. I'll hold on to it *wink* and you only have to pay me small fees from time to time. I'll invest it and make a shit-tons of extra cash.
Customer: So, you'll pay me some of that cash right?
Bank: Uh... well, I'll give you a ridiculously low interest rate on it, which won't even come close to 1% of the rate of inflation, so really you'll lose a lot of money in the long run... but hey! WTF else are you going to do with all that money? You've got to put it somewhere!
Customer: Hmmm... you have a point there. I know nothing about investing and I'm not really good with financial planning... I guess I'll just bend over and you can do whatever you want to my ass.

If only the world were so honest...

So, today, I'm at the bank depositing my paycheck, which happens on the rare occasion that the CEO forgets to turn in payroll on time and writes everyone checks instead of waiting for direct deposit. Ah, the joys of a startup...

The teller gestures me over and I hand him the slip and check.

"Just a deposit." I say. Confident, certain, period.

"Ok, nice weekend?" He ventures a rapport builder from the books.

"Yeah, it was good." I never understood small talk with tellers. I don't know this guy and nothing against him but I don't really want to talk to him. Although, it can be a good social engineering experiment from time to time. You can get good info from a teller about bank life and whatnot. It's good for ninja recon. But I just ran down from my office to deliver this check and I'm eager to get back to writing code. Ah, the life of a geek ninja... So I keep my answers brief and curt, but not rudely so.

"Oh! Is this a payroll check?" He asks.

"Um... yeah." I reply, as if it matters.

"Well, you know, I'm seeing here, with balances like this, you can upgrade your account for free and get free checks and a bunch of other goodies." He calls over another teller.

"Yeah, I think someone already pitched that to me. It's the one where I have to open a savings account and transfer a minimum of 75-bucks a month into savings and it pays like a retarded interest rate...?"

"Uh... yeah..." He smiles. He knows I'm onto him.

"Right. I just use this account as a holding bucket to transfer funds to other accounts where I can invest it and make real interest rates that beat the national rate of inflation. You might notice that I generally keep a balance of about $100 in that account." I nod.

"Oh..." He nods.

The bitch of it is that every time I go into the bank, they offer me a free savings account. I always turn them down for the same reason. You'd think they would catch on that I'm NEVER going to fall into their lame little savings account pit of despair and allow them to rape me with my own money. But they continue to prod and poke.

A woman walks over, obviously a higher ranking teller. She's here to help my teller. So, now I'm standing there as they tag team the difficult task of depositing my check into my account.

I stand and wait.

At times like this, where tellers stand puzzled at their computers, like they don't know QWERTY from Q-Bert, I look all around the bank. I case the joint. WTF else am I going to do standing there. They don't put up the comic strips or anything to read aside from saving account propaganda and that's only entertaining for so long.

"Someday, I'll save enough to fulfill my dream." This from smiling people in pictures, propping up slogans, like they actually believe the savings account at this bank is going to help them fulfill anything besides the corporate profit ledger.

Nobody else is even in the place. It's just after 11am on a Tuesday. I'm the only customer. There are three tellers, an account manager at a desk and a snoozing security guard. The vault is open and I can see all of the safety deposit boxes.

"Oh," the female teller starts. "So, this check is from Bank of America, so it will take a couple of days... We have to call them and it takes a little longer..."

"Uh... is that different from the 10 day waiting period you normally put on it?" I dart my eyes from side to side between the two tellers like they are playing ping-pong with lasers.

"Well, it might add a day or two..."

"OK, in that case just give it back." I wave my hand, palm up, gesturing that I want it back.

"What?" The tellers are both taken aback and the original one clutches onto my check like it's his lost baby.

"Give it back." I'm not fucking around anymore. "And get your fucking ass on the floor!" I whip out a shuriken and my ninja mask unfurls in a smoky glaze onto my face. My clothes turn black and I am Ninja! "And you!" I point to the other teller. "Increase the interest rate for all savings accounts to 3%, no... 15%! Now, bitch!" I'm shaking the shuriken like a shiv and I'm ready to pond-rock-skip it under the cash-drop window slot and into this bureaucratic pawn's unethical chest. She starts furiously rabbit punching the keyboard with her index fingers, hunting the letters like a rat on speed.

The male teller screams like a little girl and the guard is jarred awake from his free-coffee-and-donut infused siesta. With a dumb, befuddled look of amazement he draws his firearm and, rubbing his eyes with one hand, points the gun carelessly just to my left, at the teller. BANG! The bulletproof glass catches the bullet with a fat crack and a popping sound as it rips a line down the middle. I kick the rest of the safety glass in and reach through to pull the male teller out into the customer area in front of me.

The woman keeps hammering away at the keyboard and the manager's office suddenly erupts into a torrent of profit-loss ticker tape. It spills out into the main room in heaps and rivers, knocking the security guard over and wrapping him tight in a tangle of paper. Now we are all swimming in a beautiful streaming notice of short-sells on the banks stock, red numbers next to little profit stealing dashes. I'm clutching the teller's shirt shoulder as he's sinking into the thin stream of ticker paper. He screams, "Don't let go!" I squeeze tighter and the shirt rips. He's torn away from me by the force of ticker-tide, lost in a sea of white and red.

Profits drop to mere millions and customer accounts make cha-ching sounds in the distance. ATMs spew forth cash into the streets. I hear the hordes of the poor and oppressed singing the praise of Sleep Deprivation Ninja, the savior of our finances.

Bank customers line up outside, throwing rocks at the window of the establishment. The large glass cracks and paper waves rush the sidewalks, spilling us out into the street. I somersault three times on the heap, using the momentum of the crashing financial tsunami to carry me out into the open arms of the city.

Sleep Deprivation Ninja leaps onto the side of an adjacent skyscraper, bounces across the street to another, and another, and soon, vanishes from site of all the onlookers in a sea of financial anarchy.

Zecco Trading