Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Be for Boredom

"No human man, woman, or child may know that. It is our rule."

"The superstitious shit I have to put up with for what I want to d--OW!"

"I'm so sorry. But I think you want this. You wouldn't believe me if I told you, so you will have to live it. There is no going back. But I think you always wanted this."

"This?"

"Immortality. With a... little inconvenience. You're going to need it. It will, however, be boring."

"Boring?"

"Of course immortality is boring! Be for boredom, or be for death. Be for boredom for a billion years."

"What are you talking about?"

"They're all going to die. It will be boring for a while after that."

"They?"

"They. People."

"Well of course we're all going to die."

"They're all going to die. You're not. Not anymore. Apologies again for not asking your permission, but you're a driven man. You would say yes anyway. Just as I would have, had I been asked."

"You don't talk like you sing, Glenn."

"I sing like I wish I could talk."

"Right. Anyway, of course they're all going to die."

"Yes, but this time they're all going to die at once."

"Nuclear war?"

"Our masters' boredom... but it's all right. Be for boredom."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Quantum Changelings

"Dear Jens,      1/12/54
 . . In regards to our previous conversation, you mustn't misunderstand. The others, Alfred and Maxwell included, are against your plan. It's far too risky. And the implications, my God.  Please do not proceed without meeting with us. Remember what happened to Kirchoff when he got that hairbrained idea.  The size of the medium matters.  You can't bend the spokes, old friend.  Quantum travel might work in theory, but it isn't the same as light waves, Jens.  You must see this.  Please call or at least send me a telegram to let me know your current location. I pray I reach you in time. 

Your friend,
Huygens"

Joe Eawest crumpled up the letter and looked at Danzig.

 . . "Where is he?"

Glenn stared at his boot.

 . . "Where's Jens, Glenn?"

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hobby Musicians

Lemmy was drunk.

Lemmy sat on a sleazy barstool, the kind with red vinyl that had ripped open many moons ago and been duct taped together.  He was too intoxicated to remember where he was, but could see the tour manager Mickie across the room playing pool, so was mostly unconcerned.  In the distance he could hear video games.  Dee Snider sat next to him at the bar, occasionally checking in on him with a sideways glance, and then turning back to the conversation with the fellow to the right of Dee at the bar,  Ozzy Osbourne.  

     "We're not gonna take it," Dee continued, "I wanna rock."

To this Ozzy shrugged, frowning, and made a short reverse-snort noise while trying to hold in the huge pull he'd just taken off the joint that was going round the bar.  After blowing out an enormous amount of smoke for almost a whole minute, Osbourne coughed for ten seconds and spoke.

     "Oh no, please God help me.  Where can you run to?  No more tomorrow.  When I first met you, I didn't realize.  I say, goodbye to romance.  No more tears.  Can you talk to the dead?  But that's how it goes." 

Dee smiled.  Out of nowhere, Lemmy and Dave Brock (sitting to the left of Lemmy) began singing very drunkenly:

"Dream about the things that could have come before.  The way things are going the end is about to fall!  We took a wrong step years ago! We took a wrong step years ago!"

Dee leaned in to Ozzy, and cupping his hands around his mouth to shout over the Hawkwindish nonsense, yelled 
"Nothing escapes his gaze.  A flick of steel, a flash of light.  You know you're not going home tonight."
Ozzy flinched. "What, no, Dee, man.  I'm not drunk!  I can toootally drive, man.  But seriously, I just saw the old man from Monopoly, you know, the guy with the MONOCLE!  He just walked out of here carrying a case of Ramen." he slurred.
The bartender finally tired of the loudness and kicked out of the bar Akira Takasaki and Munetaka Higuchi.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the rockers at the bar, nearby in the adjacent store was a duel of sorts.  

Jose was still on the floor with his eyes closed, weeping.  

Pennywise the Clown sat next to Joe.  They both sat up against a painted cinder block wall;  sad, listless, hands on their knees, posture poor.  Both were looking at a panel on the wall with sharp, laserlike focus, waiting, waiting...   An old upright arcade game sat blinking in the corner.  It made a random noise and Pennywise jumped, looked around, and got up off the floor. 

"That's it then.  Lemtata was right." the clown muttered.

"Coitus Citronella, Randomicus Verbotus." Joe declared.

Pennywise suddenly screeched "RAAAAAAWRRR!!" and lunged at the panel, bashing it with his fists, which were morphing into metal crab claws and tearing into the panel.  



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Intermezzo with Cream, Please

"Yeah, no, we were just, I mean - man, you don't even know what it's like to not even get used for three installments. Like we were just, there, and then like not there, you know what I mean?" rambled Lemmy kvetchingly, sticking another hot dog over the fire.

"You have got to be kidding. Of course I know what it's like!" moaned Danzig. "And they're always like, 'well I forgot where I was going with Danzig' this, and 'man we should just reboot' that!" He pulled another nostalgia-filled 1970's Ohio marshmallow out of a late-space-age-plastic bag and popped it into his mouth. "Awm ish jush sro umfair!" Gulp. "And I'm not greedy. I can handle you being the star, oh, that's no problem," he stressed, nodding at Joe Eawest. "You have my full support."

"I could even handle that emo-ass other-me twerp!" cried Original Universe Joe©. "I could! I really could! If he just... I mean... aaaaargh!!! This is like fuckin' molasses, man!"

A local hedgehog that had been wandering by began an interpretive dance. Joe put on flame-resistant gloves, positioned his beat-up guitar over the fire, and began playing a song to justify the hedgehog's motions while hoping fruitlessly that its sturdy construction would begin to burn. The hedgehog's dance seemed to be expressing the hedgehog's disappointment over the new season of Thundercats. After a few lyricless minutes, the three human bonfire-mates felt compelled to improv some lyrics for it.

Lemmy sang,
"When Billy Pilgrim rode the coaster,
Did I stop and baste the toaster,
Did I ever love you once,
Upon a rhyme?"

Original Universe Joe© sang,
"On the edge of time,
On the edge of time,
May I have cream with that please,
Because our souls are in agony?
And-I-mean-the-last-thing-you-want-when-your-soul-is-in-agony-is-black-coffee-seriously,
On the edge of tiiiime!"

Danzig, having suddenly grown fond of voice alteration, took it up a level: he underwent mitosis, and then then Danzigs went to stand in admirable 1970s get-stoned-and-listen-to-stereo stereo-speaker positioning relative to Lemmy and Original Universe Joe©.

OUJ shouted: "One one!"

The Danzigs intoned a speaker check:
"Left."
      "Right."
"Left."
      "Right."
"Left."
      "Right."
"Left."

"One one!!" enthused OUJ.

"Left."
      "Right."
"Left."
      "Right."
"Leftleft."
      "Rightright."
"Leftleft."

This continued for a while, interspersed by an announcer's voice speaking commie. Somewhere during this, Lily Tomlin sauntered by and improv'ed, "The Chicago and Kansas concert in Boston has  been changed to the Kansas and Boston concert in Chicago. If you have tickets, keep them; they will be honored at the door."

The improv continued for a while further, and then it stopped.

Upon having been about to hear it, Billy Pilgrim briefly existed in the vicinity and shouted, "Scene 23!" before not existing again.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Uoredoms

"Sticks and stones won't break your bones, but words will ever hurt you!!" cackled Pennybags.

Joe looked on, puzzled.

"Lemtata never really loved you. She was just hanging on for your money," Pennybags continued wisely.

Joe quivered.

"You're a stinking druggie who'll never get anywhere in life!"

The putdowns went on and on.

"You're afraid of clowns because you're afraid of happiness. You can't tell reality from hallucinations. You can't handle the truth even in a hallucination. You always were hallucinating, this now is real."

Pennywisebags morphed into Jose from the neck down and continued speaking.

"You're afraid of Pennybags because you're afraid of money. You have shitty friends like me, one big bag of puke and drugdrip. You're hallucinating now, why are you running from reality? Your life is just one long stream of uoredoms. Nose in your video games, one more big addiction. Addict. You're an addict. You're always asleep, why are you azake now? Adblict."

Josewisepenny morphed into Lemtata from the neck down.

"You've fallen ameep, why aren't you even trying to wake up? Coward. Weakping. You thimple you're a psychedelic bigshot don't you, stugged to the mills with boole and pills? Half of them aren't even head rugs. Pickledins. But erben if they were, you'd smarfle I see you right between the eyes. Right. Belopeen the eyes. Your wife is just one long string of addict uoredom. Chanel. Half-track. Your layberfell is chops a sootring of uoredoms! COWARD!"

Jose had by now been long squirming on the floor screaming. Lembagwise was now a large, jello pudding, quivering copycat to Joe's quivering..

"You brook through a brass onion just to look town the sfreet! Blindard. Snarpapple! You were Amways in reapolarity and you still-life are!! Speakerdial. But you won't admit it. Grinve up! You already grave up. You'se never bive up! STOCK GIBBING UP! STORK UOREDOMS SOUP! HOP PORKING DOWN! STOP WORD WORD! I COMMAND ME! NOUNSENTENCE! ONE TWO UP! THREE GIVING FOUR! STOPFOODLYPOLLDAPPER GURGLEBLASTIIIIIING UUUUUUUUUPPP!!"

Hell - All, pure, hell on that floor.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Candy On The Edge Of Hell

Joe was busy inspecting a bag of apparently edible green army men, so Rupert Pennybags got to work.  He only had a few moments to achieve his goal.  He walked around the corner from the candy aisle to the custodial closet door by the back of the store.  Next to the door was a small panel.  To the normal customer it would have looked completely uninteresting and innocuous, an electrical or lighting panel perhaps.  But Richard U. Pennybags was no fool.  And neither was he a hologram, really.  He chuckled.  "I'm a REAL boy, Jepetto!"
Out came his ancient Tweedman multi-tool.  Snip-Snap, into the panel he went.  Twist, switch, snip-snap, this one goes there aannnd...

"What the HELL are you doin'!?" boomed Mama Brain, pursing her lips, and peering over his shoulder.

Pennybags jumped out of his skin, in a holographic way, of course.  He reeled towards Mama Brain, the pupils of his eyes suddenly red as lasers.

"Would-- you--PLEASE--be QUIET!!"  he seethed in a half whisper.  He turned back to the panel and quickly finished, snip-snap SNAP.  Panel closed, multi-tool sheathed.  He immediately, and without even acknowledging Mama Brain, briskly walked away and down the camping gear aisle.

"Mmm-Hmm.  Hey, Joe!"  Mama Brain muttered indignantly.  She turned back to the candy aisle.  She saw this:

















Friday, July 4, 2014

Action Synthesizer Hero

Following Mama Brain, Joe went to the store. They went to the store, got some meat. Went to the store, something to eat. Something to eat! Something to eat! Something to eat!

Joe approached the candy aisle. A fine holographic mist, Rupert Pennybags, still as invisible and ineffectual as a half-vanquished Voldemort, approached it as well.

Joe wasn't much for sweets in general, but since he was passing by, he examined the local offerings. Like much he had seen already in the three minutes he'd spent in the store, it was strange. Most eye-catching was a chintzy-plastic bag of small wrapped candies, with the brand name ACTION SYNTHESIZER HERO splattered across it in gritty shitty ink. Joe felt like he could see it peeling and fading away as he looked. The logo looked as comicsy as its name, and Joe's entire current universe, implied. A red irregular umpteen-pointed explosostar lay behind the words, with a thick yellow border.

The candy wrappers had a Golden-age-comics vibe, with many a POW and KERBANG and a bomb or a fist.

POW! A fist leaned on Joe's chin as he was leaning in to better examine the bag.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tim Curry was horrifying as Pennywise the Clown in the late 1980's television version of the Stephen King novel, IT.

Pennywise the clown had been hunting Mr. Pennybags for a hundred years, ever since the cartoon capitalist reared his disgusting paunch on the scene in the 1930's.  He couldn't wait to chew off the old man's head and crunch on that fucking monocle.

Tim Curry put his red clown nose back on, cleared his throat, and went INTO THE STORE, looking for a fight.

Meanwhile, inside the store, Joe and Rupert had found the candy aisle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Intermezzo: “As Per ‘Song of the Petlars’”

[Scene: A smoky, dimly-lit billiards hall in an unimportant location. At a lone table, psychologically distant from the billiards table, beneath a low-hanging, cone-shaded lamp, sit LEMTATA, JOSE, STING, and LEMMY. They puff cigars inbetween statements.]

LEMTATA: I'm sorry, but as per “Song of the Petlars,” who thinks the Thundercats put up a badass fight?!

JOSE: Ain't nothing to be sorry about.

STING: Ending with Panthro wasn’t epic enough... Needed to be a min longer. Show was meh... but hey, it’s geared for kids. Overall, good stuff so far.

LEMTATA: Interesting how Tygra has switched to being the resident laser gun maniac! Even though he showed that in the first episode he was good with a whip—AND could turn inexplicably invisible. I’m still wondering what good are the kittens in a fight. But Panthro shows he’s good with machines AND nunchucks—

JOSE: —Claw chucks?

LEMTATA: —so he's got enough amazing to counterbalance the uselessness of the kat & kit.

LEMMY: PANTRO BACK!!

STING: Great lines (wisdom) from Emrik. And I must say an intense realisation for Lion-O. I’m waiting for the scene when Lion-O uses Technology and Sorcery! [The capital letters are audible in Sting’s speech here and all following speech.]

LEMTATA: The fight scenes are super short and lack detail, honestly. I love the show—but. Fight scenes are not its strength.

JOSE: I got chills, once again, when the Thundercat call went out. [He taps the Thundercats button on his denim jacket while saying “Thundercat call.”]

STING: Well written episode! [At this, STING transforms into ACID.]

ACID: And also showed even outnumbered the fact that the Thundercats won't lay down or surrender shows there true loyalty and strength!

LEMTATA: Love, the, series. Interesting to see Panth-o being the first to embrace and use technology effectively. I love the leadership of Slythe in this episode. He’s not as corny as the 80s version!

LEMMY: POOR LIL EMERIC I CHOKED UP A LIL

ACID [unintelligibly, and unaware of his enthusiasm moments earlier]: i-wasn’t-happy-with-that-episode-at-all-i’m-not-gonna-dissect-it-because-it’s-a-cartoon-i-just-wasn’t-happy.

LEMMY: PANTHRO IS BACK BITCHES!!

[Scene fades.]

Mama Brain

Pennybags screeched through the slums, nearly uprooting a fire hydrant on the corner of Baltic and Mediterranean. While the neighborhood showed no more true signs of life than a Monopoly board, its otherwise perfectly-shaped green houses showed the marks of crayons and cats' teeth.

Then just as the streets were straightening, static abruptly took over the radio broadcast. And then the air was suddenly filled with an announcer’s voice speaking Commie. (“Jane... Jane... Jane...,” it uttered sotto voce.) —Pennybags’ moustache turned brown with fright. “Is this your devilry, young man? I’ll have you know we don’t tolerate subversion!”—“I don’t understand any more than you!”

Then came music from Moscow, followed by English and French speech. (“The recording was made at the Moscow Theatre of Musical Miniatures.”) Pennybags punched the radio’s facade in frustration, nearly running over a metal dog in his distraction.

At this the radio broadcast abandoned all pretensions of coming from the radio, and suffocated the air. “YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. AT THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL
TIME BUREAU, COMMENCING AT TWENTY-THREE HOURS, FIFTY-NINE MINUTES, SIXTY SECONDS UTC, AN EXTRA SECOND WILL BE INSERTED INTO THE NBS TIME SCALE. THIS ADJUSTMENT IS REQUIRED TO MAINTAIN INTERNATIONALLY COORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME AS BROADCAST FROM THESE STATIONS, IN CLOSE AGREEMENT WITH UT1, OR ASTRONOMICAL TIME.”

Pennybags was shaking. —“Thank Providence that we’ve reached The Store!” he shouted, gesturing with a pale finger at a boutique by the roadside, which looked like a drawing in bold simple colors and 3-D lines thick as the outlines of Superman’s thighs. He slammed on the brakes and exited the car, dragging Joe with him. He draw in his breath and screeched, straining to outshout the broadcast (“WA6ODB....with...a question!”):

“Do you know how many time zones there will be in the Soviet Union? Eleven. Eleven! One, two, three—one, two, three—eleven!! And, uh—do you know how many time zones there will be in the Soviet Union? And about power, do you know—we have so much power now, young man—do you know how many time zones there’ll be in the Soviet Union?!” he raved. Sensing a break, Joe answered:

“Eleven.”

“One, two three, one two three—”

“Eleven.”

Pennybags continued raving inconsequentially; suddenly curious, Joe poked him. His finger passed right through. Emboldened, though feeling a bit gross for doing so, he leaned over and smelled Pennybag’s armpit, having correctly judged that Pennybags would take no notice. He smelled nothing. A lick? No taste either.

“The Soviet Union’ll be the whole half side of the world!” Pennybags continued. Upon this statement, his features began transforming into those of a typical 80’s AM radio talk show caller.

“...Yeah?”

“They, uh, when you talk about fightin’, we’re a country that, uh, we’re a firm believer on pride, and it’s called help thy neighbor, do not kill, do not, you know, steal, cheat, lie from everybody,” the now thoroughly-redneck Pennybags continued. As this sentence drew to an end, his voice began breaking up, and so did his image.

“That's why we have to have computers, because man, nobody’s perfect. You know.” This was the last Joe heard or saw of Pennybags—for the moment—before his whole bi-sensual being faded into static.

Joe—who still less jaded than one might expect, old chap—gawked for long minutes.

He was only broken out of it by the arrival of Mama Brain. Her afro told more in a glance than Pennybags had said of consequence in the last hour.

 “Follow quickly, brother! We can’t jam Pennybags forever.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rich Uncle Pennybags Goes to the Store

"London?" asked Joe, confused.  He was tired of walking and tired of the fog.

"No, my friend!" said the monocled man, who was wearing a black tuxedo and top hat,
"You've wandered into the Endless Parking Lot of Ukk, my good man!  Don't you see the spaces painted everywhere on the ground, which is asphalt?  Haven't you noticed the faint glow of the florescent lights, the eerie shadows of the light poles?  Don't you hear a faint squealing of tires far off in the distance?"

Joe at once noticed all these details around him in the haze, though he could have sworn they had not JUST been there the second before the strange man appeared.

"The Endless Parking Lot of Uh... What? Who are you?"  Joe asked.

The monocled man chuckled, pulling out from his inside pocket a wad of comically oversized five hundred dollar bills in a gold money clip.

Joe noticed then that the bills were not real currency.  In fact, they were...

"This should explain everything," said the man, smiling sadly and handing the whole wad to Joe.  "My name is Pennybags.  Richard U. Pennybags.  My friends call me Rupert.  Would you like a ride to the store?"

 Joe did not notice, but next to the man there suddenly appeared what seemed a giant game piece shaped like an old 1930's car.

"The store..." Joe said absently, inspecting the money.  Yep.  It was oversized Monopoly money.  Joe's gaze snapped back to the man's face as the thought clicked.  "You're the old man from the game? The Monopoly mascot?  Rich Uncle Pennybags?  Now I know I am dreaming!  Or maybe still tripping, or maybe both.  Wait, what store?"

"I went to the store, late last night," said Richard, "I went to the store."

"If going to the store will get me outta this void, let's go." muttered Joe.

"Climb in, then, if you will," said Rich Uncle Pennybags, and jumped in the driver's seat of the game piece.  It roared into life and an old a.m. radio began emitting the strains of an old big band slow dance number.   Joe climbed into the passenger seat and shook his head. He hoped this wouldn't make things worse.  Pennybags grinded the gearshift and they shot off like a bullet, veering crazily between lightposts and plowing through occasional shopping carts.



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Anarchy in the Ukk

Nearly blinded, almost senseless with pain, Joe swatted poorly and slid slowly deeper into hopeless... but then remembered he was probably anything but alone. "All you corpses!" he shouted. "Let's kill moths!"

His hate for the innocent-looking beasts was shared by everyone else in this mass illusion, and soon they all were, despite the pain of mostly missing at hitting their own lacerated bodies, swatting furiously.

After a few minutes, a POP emanated from where the skater boiz lie, and the gloom lessened. Joe could feel his body heal a bit; Lemmy suddenly remembered his manners; Lemtata was more whole. And yet the horror persisted. They all swatted on. One more time a POP and a slight lifting of the gloom. They swatted more, victoriously now, and much less in pain and horror. A third POP, and there was no horror but the void.

It was a pretty horrible void, even with people and a floor in it. A pearly floor and an endless pearly mist. "Where am I?" Joe screamed, this time the horror his own.

No-one's voice replied from all directions. "OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY" like an echo, but far too persistent. Though it was not loud, it was overwhelming. Joe put his fingers in his ears and inexplicably felt compelled to close his eyes as well.

When the voice had faded and he had opened his eyes, there was anarchy all around him. It looked like a Hieronymous Bosch painting, but with all people, no props, except the few effects they had brought with them into this void. Passionless sex, deathless murder, lifeless laughter, hateless screaming.

"Maybe I should have stuck with the moths."

Joe decided things couldn't get any worse, and that he had no friends to abandon until the end of this anarchy. He walked away, in a straight line, aiming to get lost and die, or live - either one would be salvation.

"Really is a lovely place, isn't it?" drawled  the monocled man who emerged from the fog after Joe had walked an hour. "I call it the Ukk. Let me show you why. WHERE AM I?!"

The man quickly showed displeasure... then fear when Joe did not crumble.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Moth Balls

Joe was lying on pavement.  His light cycle was gone, though he could feel shards of glass beneath him.  Tron was quiet.  Dave and the Lords and the whole damn spark city.  Gone.

At first the sensation was that there was a large power source somewhere nearby, because of the insane humming.  But then Joe felt the fluttering all about his face and hands.  It was dark, but he thought he could just make out...& then the sun burst through the black (clouds?) and blinded him for a second but not before he saw for a split second.

Lemtata and Jose were feet away from him, dead.  All his friends and the Lords, all the concert goers and the skate kids. Lying in piles, everywhere.  More bodies than he'd ever seen.  Picked clean.  Just the clothing and hair to identify them.

Suddenly he was seized with immense blinding pain and thousands of bugs began to bite him all over his body.  Fluttering and his own screaming.  The sun again and he saw.

Moths.  Millions upon millions, flying in flocks like migrating black birds, waves and waves of them.  He looked down and what wasn't covered with moths was bleeding profusely.  He began to weep.  How had it come to this?  Funny, they didn't look harmful.  They almost looked...a word was struggling to come to his mind.

"Innocuous?" Lemtata's breastless corpse moaned.  Lemmy's corpse was trying to fuck her.

Of course.  George Rhea's three nightmare inducing moths.

"It isn't real, Danny.  It's just like pictures in a book, Danny!!!!" Joe screamed.   He began swatting at all the moths that were on him, hoping he'd by some chance strike one of the three.  They must have been responsible for a lot of this nonsense.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tomato Synthesizer

Almost immediately, a familiar voice hailed Joe from his left, just past his peripheral vision. In his imagination he saw his quarter flying away, as if fleeing Uncle Scrooge in an old Donald Duck comic.

"Uh, hey Dave. What are you doing here? What is this stage doing here?!"

"Oh, the first thing we did once we flew in was look for a place to play," Dave shrieked. cordially. His voice was a bit muffled, as he was still chomping on the remains of small animal he'd hunted down along the way. "And what luck! Just when we were feeling down in the dumps and decided to play a bit at this arcade to lift our spirits... it turns out that this Flynn guy that owns the place LOVES outworlder music and he has a stage right here! He says he'd rather spend on live music than on advertising! Hell, just as we were loving we saw two guys in crazy robot helmets end their set! AMAZING music -- I thought I was 20 years in the future!"

(Pixellated, black-outlined, blue, and immediately fading words began to rise from Dave's head: "EXCELLENT JUSTIFICATION! +100")

"That... stage... where you are... wasn't... here, a moment ago..."

"Aww, ya coof, we've been here almost an hour setting up!"

"...Yeah, OK. Outworlder... you mean, like us?"

"You bet! They get people like us all the time, nobody's bothered by it at all... certainly not half as much as us folks coming in. But you seem all right... oh, I made you waste your quarter. Here's another, sorry." Dave handed Joe a quarter made of pure electricity. It didn't burn at all, but merely tingled pleasantly. Joe had no doubt it would be accepted by TRON.

The band was truly a sight. Each member proudly avian and meticulously preened, each member with an instrument or microphone readied in their talons. The mic, the guitar, the... tomato synthesizer?! There in the place where Joe expected an ordinary synthesizer or at least something reasonable like a chocolate minimoog, lolled an enormous, ripe and juicy looking tomato, and as the band was doing a sound check at the moment, it was clear to Joe that it was also an analog synthesizer with superb sound. Lemtata walked over and scooped a chunk out of the tomato's near side. "Delicious!" she declared in a chewy-jawed muffle.

The Lords finished their sound check. Robert Calvert, resplendent in blue and ebony feathers, had appeared through narrative magic and stood at the mic. "We have a very special concert for you tonight, folks," he cawed, addressing the rows and files of characters seated behind and mostly to the left of the TRON machine, facing slightly leftward towards the stage. Acid was there, and so was Sting; Luigi was there, and so wasn't Jose, who stood at a Ms. Pac Man cabinet next to Joe (But! But that spot -- oh, never mind) while munching a half-electric, half-material beignet. The seats were the classic hard-plastic sweat-inducing 70's models with cheap-ass metal legs and the pointless hole in the back.

"This concert is special because it's our first in your lovely city, and because we'll be opening with a new song tonight, dedicated to our good friend Joe Eawest... Ladies and lightningbolts - we present SPACE PARANOIDS!"

The song did not at all fit its title; it was neither very spacey nor particularly paranoid. But the Hawklords were visibly pleased with their new style (and indeed, the rest of their concert would sound similar), and this music was no surprise to Joe, being as he was a Hawkwind pilgrim unstuck in time.

The song's lyrics, however, did fit its title, and so the band enthusiastically cheered, underscored by tomato-and-cheesy synthesizer and would-be hardcore guitars, these lyrics:

"On the edge of real and strange,
They flip a switch to turn your page,
Your game is a game in a game in a game --

(..."And your lyrics are pretty fucking lame," Joe added amusedly in his head as he inserted electrocoin to continue.)

-- Who knows when it will end?

Maybe no-one's watching you,
If they are not what will you do?
No-one to judge, no-one to say
That what you did was right today
No God to want to send away
No meaning to your end

You wanna be a -- SPACE PARANOID!
You better be a -- SPACE PARANOID!

Today you're walking in the sky
Tomorrow, space -- well if not, why?
Electric sighs among fleshy lives
Is meaning at its end?

Maybe Trans-Pac's behind you? --

(Joe nervously checked. Pac wasn't.)

-- When Pac does come, what will you do?
We know you've judged and that you say,
'Inside this game, I've found the way'
You think that you've run but you stand in place
And soon you'll meet your end

You wanna be a -- SPACE PARANOID!
You better be a -- SPACE PARANOID!

SPACE PARANOID!!!"

It was around this time that Joe crashed his lightcycle through the wall.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Arcadia Arcadia

Joe chuckled as they walked away, glancing back at Woody Allen, who had morphed suddenly into Luigi, Mario's brother, and was looking suspiciously at them.

He clutched Lemtata to him and sped up slightly, suddenly nervous.

    "What's up?" Lemtata asked, glancing back, "Joe, he's following us.  Where did Woody Allen go?"

    "I don't know, he just turned into that guy, listen just keep walking, I think I have an idea." Joe replied, backtracking.  He had seen a touristy information booth a block back, and his instinct was telling him he needed a map.

    They arrived at the information booth after speed walking dorkily past a group of seeming wanna be delinquent ne'er do well pre teens who were skate boarding and smoking something that smelled both of weed and cigarettes simultaneously.  Their skateboards sparked and crackled as they landed or did 'Ollie's', and Joe wondered if they ever got electrocuted.  One of them smirked as they strode by and snapped-"Where's the fire, Pee Wee!?" to which all his cohorts guffawed and jeered.  Joe paused, stopped walking instantly, and coldly glared at the kid.

    "Luigi from Mario Brothers is following me, probably to kill me, and my best friend Jose is lost in this city, so get out of my face." and Joe kept walking.

The punk balked and his face drained of blood.

    "You said.....you said the name.  You...you can't say that name!  Hey!!"  Joe paid no mind and focused on the map he was to receive surely.

     The pudgy old lady at the information kiosk was too happy to receive a customer and proceeded in with a lengthy rant about the downtown district and its charms and also the I.E.D., the Interdimensional Education District, but Joe tuned her out once she handed him the gawdy tourist map he had been hoping would be included in the kiosks offerings.

The map showed different features of the downtown district with different symbols,  and Joe found what he wanted quickly and, after turning back and forth for a second, asked the pudgy lady:
     "Which way is Mother Boardwalk Way?"
    The lady, whose dayglo orange name tag insinuated that her name was Midge, pointed the way, and Joe briskly walked off, tugging on Lemtata's arm.


Their destination loomed before them in the nightsky a block before they got there.  The glow from the neon and lights on the building's exterior filled the late night with a paltry and eerie false daylight.

"Nero's Retro Arcade Palace" blinked a story-tall vintage neon sign.  It seemed the blinking was not a feature of the sign but rather an indication it may be on its last legs.  On the fritz was the theme of this district.

They walked in.

Joe led Lemtata down aisles and aisles of upright video games, searching for something.  He began to despair that he wouldn't find it, until he got to the back corner of the building, off near the service elevators, and, crammed in a corner and covered in grime and dust and barely recognizable, he saw the video game console he seeked..

The tube emitted a faint blue gleam.

Joe reached into his pocket to find quarters.  He hoped.  Yes.  There were at least a dozen quarters in his pocket somehow.  He didn't know how, but didn't particularly care.

He dropped a few into the machine.  It chirped with affirmation and Joe hit the 1 Player button on a video game named TRON.

    "This is the place." said Joe.

 

Shock City

Joe looked frantically for some hope, any hope of a safe haven. Somewhere to hide, some... ally at least! The Hawk Lords, maybe? He called out to them for help, but they seemed just as confused and hopeless as he.

"Lemtata!" he shouted over the whistling wind. "We're gonna die, we're gonna get et! I don't see anywhere to gooo!"

"Joe, I'm shocked!" Lemtata reprimanded him. "There's a whole sky city right in front of us! How can you not seeeee it!"

"Well I'm shocked that you can say such a -- oh," Joe stammered, as there was a whole floating city right in front of them, where he was sure there had been nothing before.

It was unlike any city he had every seen: sparks flying from most things, and some other things were sparks. Electric and unelectric seemed to interact here with the same naturalness as living and non-living back in the world that Joe remembered as "normal," the world he had (short of the occasional stoned illusions) always inhabited until just hours ago. Electric dogs led on leather leashes by electric little pigtailed girls; sparking, popping men flirting with flesh-and-bone redheads. Everything. Jose drinking an electric milkshake. (Jose drinking an electric milkshake?!) Soft electric crackles drowned by the oh wait fuck we're gonna die we're gonna get et!

"You're right honey, let's go!" Joe concentrated on floating forward, and forward he floated. Then flew. Then flashed fast into an electric alley, too small for Trans Pac to fit. It was dark as electric allies go. A scintillating, lederhosened cross-dressing Woody Allen stood there in a provocative pose. "What's up, Tiger Lily?" he cooed, and Lemtata immediatelz frowned at Joe for not brushing off Lightning Woodie's evident sexual offer quickly enough.

Flying Hawk Lords

Joe blinked.


The stage had disappeared, as had most everything else.  Suddenly they were both surrounded by clouds and rushing air.  Then they slowly rose above the cloud cover.  Lemtata and Joe were levitating at about 30,000 feet, or so he estimated as he nodded at a very startled pilot inside the cockpit of a passing Air Bus, out of SEA-TAC by the look of him.


Then, something struck Joe as odd.


Lemmy and Michael Moorcock suddenly flew by them, but they had black, oily crow's wings.  Three seconds later, Dave Brock fly by, also winged, though his were golden and red.  They also were all dressed in Viking garb.  Hawk Lords? 


"Hmmm." Joe looked for Jose. 


There was no videogame anywhere.  Then Joe saw it.  About 10,000 feet below them was a giant yellow number in the sky.  It looked from the size of it that the glowing numbers must stand 75 feet high.  And the number was increasing. 


33,455,248,344. Now 33,455,249,587.


It was then that Joe realized that he could still hear the Trans-Pac gobbling.  And the gobbling was getting louder.


"Joe, LOOK!" screamed Lemtata, pointing below them.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Synthesizer Guide Book on Fire

Joe reached into Lemtata's breast pocket in an attempt to covertly fondle her recently-much-visually-enjoyed breast. He was so shocked to find a genuine vintage Micromoog operation manual inside that he forgot all about his plan and began reading it instead.

"micromoog

OPERATION MANUAL

By George Rhea

moog
MUSIC INC.
the first sound in synthesizers"

Joe flipped forward a few pages.

"introduction"

How very stylish, you veritable e.e. cummings, you, Joe thought.

"Thanks to Simon House at Moog Music, Inc., we now have the synthesizer for Anyman—the Micromoog. House's design approach for the Micromoog was to use chocolate, as well as a minimal number of functional building blocks, and to configure the instrument (I'm whistling as I write this and you can't stop me!) for the greatest amount of perverted control over these blocks. (Whistling! Whiiiistling!) The Micromoog florbles of the basic necessities: one voltage controlled oscillator (VCO), thirty pounds of the finest Belgian chocolate, one modulation oscillator, one noise source, three innocuous-looking moths that stay in your room after you open the box and gradually induce nightmares, one Voltage Controlled Filter (still whistling!), one Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA), two contour generators, and one sample and hold. OH MY GOD THIS GUIDE BOOK IS CATCHING ON FIRE AS YOU READ THIS DO SOMETHING NOW OR YOU'LL DIE!!!!

Joe then stared in horror as the OPERATION MANUAL caught fire in his hands while he read. (The last three words he glimpsed before the page blackened beyond legibility were "super pitch stability.") He screamed, "OH MY GOD THIS GUIDE BOOK IS CATCHING ON FIRE AS I READ IT I GOTTA DO SOMETHING NOW OR I'LL DIE!!!" Paralysed in fear, he made no efforts to stop the flames from spreading onto his clothing. The flames, meanwhile, had no such mental difficulties. "A flame's gotta do what a flame's gotta do," they murmured approvingly to each other.

Jose abandoned his post at Pac-Man, ceding it to his eager and excellent replacement Acid, who adroitly shoved away the gradually gathering crowd of stagecrashing gawkers at his "futuristic vending machine." Transpacman, who had long since shred and shed hir Mario form, rampaged murderously through the Palace of Light, laughing at the feeble attempts of his once-tormentors to catch up to him now.

Jose, not a terribly physically fit young man, finally huffed and puffed his way to Joe. "HrrrrrGHHLLLLLbbllllpphhaaauugggh," he barfed happily, drenching Joe entirely.

Joe hugged Jose gratefully. "Thank you so much!" he cried. Jose and Joe were so in shock at Joe's near-death experience that they were still standing there five minutes later when a few of the tripped-out fellow concertgoers had the presence of mind to scoop up some water from the nearby... Pacific?... tropical?... beach and remove at least enough vomit to remove the stench.

Meanwhile, standing at the shore, Lemtata stared with schizophrenic intensity into the nearness, announcing distantly, "Byyyeeee, Geoooorrrrge, I think I've goooooot iiiiit..."

Concert In The Park Beach Ball with George

Joe stopped wondering how his basement had turned into a concert in a park when a beach ball smacked him in the face.
     "Pretty sure that wasn't a hallucination," he muttered, resigned, and moved to the front of the stage to start Hawkwind's last number, a more-tripped-out-than-usual version of "Master Of The Universe".  He licked chocolate off his fingers.  Dave Brock's eyes shot out rays of almost invisible yellow-green mist.
     Lemtata was dancing naked in a cage-- well, naked except for knee high bright orange go-go boots and a seven foot python.  The cage was your typical late '60's discotech 6 ft. tall fake-gilded canary cage.  Joe was not at all struck by how un-Lemtata this behavior was; she was a feminazi who wouldn't be caught dead dancing in a cage wearing only go-go boots.
    The crowd of fans and onlookers were equally unimpressed by Jose, despite the fact that he was now also onstage, simultaneously vomiting into a dripping plaid sleeve and convulsing on the control stick of a strange towering machine that looked sorta like a vending machine from Mars.  (Was it 1975?  Why did nobody recognize an upright videogame?) The machine was emitting a barrage of noises that fit right in with the 'musical' number.   Only Acid, the policeman who did not turn into Sting, was impressed.  He stood next to Jose and pumped his fist, mouthing "wakawakawakawakawakawakw" silently as Jose progressed.
   
     The song came to a conclusion, and Dave, Lemmy, Joe and nearly all the other wind hawks came to the front of the stage and did a dramatic group bow.  Joe ripped the chocolate Moog in half and threw it into the front row, yelling "Junk For Sale!"  The people in the first two rows pounced on it and began devouring the Moog greedily, pausing here and there to pull non chocolate wires from their teeth.
      Jose was still lost in his game, his face pale and drawn, sweat dripping off of his brow.  His eyes looked like those of a cadaver.
     The crowd dispersed, somewhat, as the techies took down the band's equipment to make room for the next act.
     Joe went to Lemtata, who appeared to have just snapped out of her trance.  She was looking down in horror at the python and at her naked condition.
     "JOE!!!" she screamed.
     "Lem, it's okay, it's okay, here," said Joe, handing her a white bathrobe and a pair of random girls underwear that had landed on him mid set.  He took the python from her and absent mindedly let it go in the grass as Lemtata hurriedly got dressed.  She looked at the bathrobe, which was embroidered with a hotel logo and a name at the breast pocket.

     "Who is George?" she said.

Just then, the closing act, Atom Speck and the Micro-Particulates, burst into a heavy driven psychedelic rock meltdown, before the techies had even finished clearing Hawkwind's gear offstage.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chocolate Synthesizer

Reaching deep into her nose and pulling hard, Lemtata produced every member of Hawkwind's1975 lineup except Simon House, instruments in hand. They looked a bit disgusted and... nasal, but also relieved to no longer be imprisoned in her nose. Staring hard at Lemmy, Lemata boredly and distantly declared, "Nothing personal... I just hate you, man."

Joe finally defeated the speck of dust on his thumb piano using the awesome power of thought, and so had some attention to spare for Hawkwind. "Hey, you guys look like you need some synths!"

"Synths? Syn - synthesizers? Oh yeah man, Simon H isn't here, man, yeah. He was out scoring when - whahh, you have a Moog?" answered Lemmy absentmindedly. The rest of the band had gone upstairs to take a collective shower (- "Faggoty shit"! - "What maaaan, you got a snot fetish maaaan?" - "Oh fuck it!"), but Lemmy's broken methdar had gone off, and he was happily raiding Jose's cocaine supply. Naturally Jose didn't notice at all. The cocaine gave Lemmy a stern glance, intoning "I am NOT methamphetamine."

"I am NOT Police," blurted out Sting self-importantly seconds later.

"I am NOT Mario," emphatically singsang the now Mario-shaped Trans-Pac Man, now plunging into the Palace of Light in a from-behind 3-D view, with his prominent plumber's butt taking the limelight.

"I aaaaaammm noooot Katryyyn Noooorse", wailed Lemtata spookily.

Somehow Joe found this more offensive than any of the other nonsense he'd experienced in the last 5 minutes. "You... you nincodilyoop, Lemtata! Of course you're not some Katryn Norse! Who the fuck is Katryn Norse! Gawd, why do I love you people so much?" and he went around giving everyone in the room hugs. Now covered in Lemmy's Lemtatasnot, he sighed, went up and joined the hot, clean group-shower action upstairs.

"Love your music dudes!" scrubadubba WAKAWAKA damn, that Pac-man is getting loud

"That's great mate!" replied Michael Moorcock. Many dimensions away, one co-creator grumbled in frustration as he utterly failed at faking a British accent. "Hey, you gotta guy what can play the Moog? And the Moog itself too of course. Oh, and where are we?" scrubbaWAKAWAKAWAKA

"You're in Ottawa, Ohio. Oh, and it's 2005. Or what the hell, maybe I'm in your pipe dreams in 1975. I don't know what to think anymore!"

"Moog?" repeated Michael pointedly.

Joe pondered, mulling over the events of the long, long last ten minutes. "I think that can be arranged."

Not much later downstairs, absolutely no-one was surprised when Joe assumed a synth-playing stance and then smoothly progressed from playing air-synth to playing a chocolate synthesizer - a genuine 1975 Micromoog in every detail except for its being made of chocolate. (Milk chocolate, yet extremely durable.) Trans-Pac Man respectfully dropped off WAKA-ing as Joe filled the room with buttery, silky, spooky, psychedelic tones. 

The improv came together surprisingly fast; apparently it's true what they say about cold showers and a cool head. Dave Brock took the mic on this one (Michael lay outstretched next to Sting, staring into his own mind) and tried, in his words, to reflect the action on the Pac-Man screen, which for his convenience was now mirrored on a big projection on the wall opposite the stairs.

"Palace of light, halls of ghosts
Eternal chase for the meaningless
Trapped outside time, no rhyme or rhythm,
I flee banality, devour banality!"

"Ba-na-na," Jose "corrected" him irritably, as TPM swallowed a strawberry. "Or is that your limey way to say ba-na-na?" he taunted.

The basement had melted away, the back wall projection now replaced with a huge projector screen on the grass. A happy, tripped-out crowd was assembling in the pleasant summer heat. Many of the visitors were raving with delight at the unique, almost chocolatey analog sound of this new retro-futurist band with the weird hippy act. Lemtata was charging admission, and with her sharp sense for marketing she set it at $3.50 and shouted to all passersby "Step, right, up for the hippy freaky show! Only one 1975 dollar an entry! It's a steal, and I'm not just pulling that out of my nose!"

"Pursued by ghosts of many colors -"

"Four. Four colors."

"- Swimming in black corridors
For a moment we have powers,
We have rhyme and then it's lost lostlostlostlostlostlostlostlostlos..."

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Palace of Light

Jose had thought ahead, however, and had donned his personally designed feedbag style vomit sleeve.  He splattered vomit neither on the video game, nor on his clothes or shoes.  Then he turned to the camera and smiled, a bright gleam flashing on glowing white teeth, and said:

"Domine Vomite, Espiritu Sparkle.
Chalmister, Palmister, Remington Farkle.", then turned again intently upon the Trans-Pac Man game.


Police dropped the HD video palm cam and morphed into Sting, looked around surprised for a moment for a bass and/or microphone stand, and finding none, huffed and collapsed on the couch next to Nemtata.

"I hate the tripstease." Sting said, "and my LP records, and they're all scratched."

Nemtata looked at Joe, who was frozen in a position of utter amazement, staring down at a speck of ash that was poised on the corner of his thumb piano.

Jose reached level 169.  He saw a Palace Of Light.
Flashing ghosts in the palace of light.  Wakawakawakawakawakawakawaka.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Acid Police

"I always wondered what hooking up these wires does! I never touched them because I didn't want to break this rickety old box, but you either broke it so good or fixed it so good, I don't care anymore." Joe stood up from his crouch and gawked further at Jose's play. Jose was unfazed by the unsolvable maze! He was cruising it, scoring points (and at some points dirty socks or abstract concepts instead) with nothing glorping in his way. Whatever underlying pattern there was to the travels of Androgyno-Pacman, left right black white...

The policeman on the left picked up on the thought: "The aim of the game is to feel real good."

Wait, what? What policeman on the left? Besides the one wearing the badge reading "POLICE," Joe meant. Besides that one. Well, and besides the policeman on the right, bearing a badge that read "ACID."

"Acid!" shouted Police.

"Police!" shouted Acid.

"You want another hamburger?" Lemtata politely asked Acid, pulling a fiftieth Jill-in-the-Box out of her pocket to rest along the 49 others she'd already pulled out. (When did she start with that, wondered Joe. And why aren't there ketchup smears on her pants? And come to think of it --)

"Are you not men?" shouted Joe confrontationally.

"Are you a cabbage?" asked Police, taking off his badge and presenting it in his hand.

"Uh... walnut pie?" Joe replied nervously, hoping his answer was satisfactory. He became even more nervous when a turtledove appeared in his hands and flew off, but Police began clapping and dancing, so he figured he'd passed the test.

Jose didn't say a word, although when Acid threw him a thumbs-up, Jose vomited happily in approval.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Level 143

"the auld story line throbbed out with a pang, The Beatles broke the band up, long hair did hang, when Schmillinger Schmang!"

Jose pounded on the machine once, shouting "Yes!  Yes!  YES!!!!!"

Joe stopped singing, half heartedly still plucking the next part of the song on the thumb piano.  He walked over to see what was happening.

His breath was caught in his throat.  Jose was now on level 143.  Which was of course, impossible.

Not only that, but it appeared that the game had now become half Ms. Pac-man, and half Pac-man, the Pac-man side on the right and the Ms. Pacman on the left, so that if Pac-man was going left you couldn't see the red bow on its head, but if she was going to the right, you could.  Which didn't make any sense at all.

Joe walked to the back of the console and jiggled a couple wires.

"Whathefuckareyoudoing!?" Shouted Jose, who briefly flashed an angry glance around the console.

Lemtata was only vaguely interested, intent on her issue of "Man Hater" magazine.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Defeat of the Pedants

Joe stared bug-eyed at Jose's outstanding play. It wasn't just the improvement, it was --

"Jose?"

"Yeah," Jose muttered, visibly in another dimension in thought.

"You know this is actually Ms. Pac Man, right?"

"Fugyoumanstopsayindumbshit."

It was as Joe thought! Jose really was convinced he was playing the original Pac Man. It wasn't too surprising... Jose had been calling out the original fruit names, and kept talking about reaching level 255. Joe knew that his Ms. Pac Man crashed already at level 142.

To Joe's amazement, Jose was now on level 141 (and barely conscious, though also incredibly awake from the coke... Jose called it the "Heisenbuzz").

Joe started to tinkle on his handpiano, and began to sing.

"When Dillinger sang..."

Wino Dinoh.

After several glasses of wine and thirteen more Pac-Man attempts, Jose realized that he was improving with drink.  This usually also occurred with both his billiard and bowling games.  There was a curve he could note where he got better and better with more drinks until it plateaued and finally he would have that one too many, and his game would once again go to shit.

But tonight, Jose was on fire for a while, because he'd decided to try to keep the plateau going by slowing down on the drink and supplementing the buzz with brownies and coke.
Joe stood by frowning with confusion as Jose got to the twelfth board.

"This does NOT feel like Deja Vu." Joe muttered.

Jose chuckled evilly and said "Waka waka waka waka waka waka waka...", simulating Pac Man's chompy chomp chomp sound.

Lemtata stood by and rolled her eyes, then did a three pointer with the empty wine bottle from across the living room.  It shattered with great dramatic effect inside the recycling bin.
Jose jolted, startled, then swore.

"I'm trying to fuckin' focus, god damn it!"

Lemtata retreated to the kitchen to retrieve yet another bottle of red.  She glared at them both sardonically as she passed.

"You fucking geekazoids." She smiled and shook her head.

Reboot Redux

Suddenly, everyone died.

This was only a minor inconvenience for our heroes, as they were all painless deaths, and they had no afterlives. Nor were there mourners or mourned, since they all died at once. No inheritances were squabbled over, and no one felt ashamed for not finding out about the deaths until they read Facebook the next day. Because they were dead.

Nature had a rough time of it for a while - lots of nuclear meltdowns, broken dams, continent-wide fires and the like, and the squirrels took it all rather personally, but too bad for them. After all, why should they complain? Within a mere billion years, before a slightly dimmer sun, two evolved Bonobos (though they called themselves, in translation to now-forgotten English, "Humans") stood playing a 20-year-old Ms. Pac Man machine in a northern province of Ameristanlee, a young nation that a mere 200 years before had dragged the world from monarchy to democracy.

"Man, you suck at this game," Joe tactfully informed Jose. Joe was always very proud of his tact, and of the crackerjack ring he wore on his left pinky.

"Joe, I can't practice this game 20 hours a day like you do," Jose retorted.

"Whiner."

"Diner."

"Forty-niner."

"Pizza pancakes."

"Snerrnnl GIGFLATTA!"

By then they were laughing so hard they didn't notice when Lemtata ("Man, my girl has a sexy name!" Joe always told himself) descended into the basement with a wine bottle in one hand and a handpiano in the other.

"Feeling dej√° vu right now, Jose?"

"No way, Joe... say, though, y'ever feel like it did all happen before, a billion years ago and in a different way?"

"Not really, Jose..."

Joe reverently cradled his handpiano and began to sing and play.