log (2006/02/24 to 2006/03/02)

On yesterday's fever, a reader writes:

If you tell us which radio station you were listening to, we can probably tell you which version of Fever it was. Or you could figure it out yourself and tell us.

I have in fact remembered! It was WNYC, and it was actually someone in New Orleans doing a takeoff on "Fever" called "Fema" (or "FEMA" I suppose, or perhaps "FEMA!"). That's what was on the radio; but what it caused to be stuck in my head is "Fever", and I still don't know what version. (Maybe those tricksy NPR dudez played a cut from some Peggy Lee "Fever" during the closing seconds of the story or something?)

Another reader (or, well) writes in a really old input box:

A great site where one can enjoy the thought of a great mind long departed. Cheers for the good work!

Which is in principle very kind, if sort of odd. Really odd, though, is that this same random comment is all over the web. And it seem to have no associated URL or payload or anything.

What could be going on there?

Two more books written up: a fun chatty book about the origin of life, and a space-toughs novel.

A reader wonders:

Who is searching for naked Helen pictures? I mean, really.

I don't know who, but I can attest to how much:

- 63 for "helen naked pictures"
- 11 for "naked helen pictures"
- 3 for "dangers of suboptimization"
- 3 for "mia"
- 1 for "hack into view yahoo webcams without permission"
- 1 for "naked pictures of helen"
- 1 for "view yahoo messenger webcam without permission"

The most popular by far! On some scale or other!

Blow the whistle on Diebold, get prosecuted for it.

Ponzi scheme o' the day.

$1000 reward offered to nab camera-happy Houston police chief. (Narf narf!)

Wrecked exotics.

No matter what you think you do, there's someone on the web somewhere who does it even more. For instance, I used to think I talked about myself alot, but get Dave! *8)

(I found Dave while doing another round of random image perusings in an idle moment.)

And now this entry will abruptly end!

Fever when you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight

It must have been playing on the radio on the drive home or something, because I've got "Fever" playing irresistably in my head. When I got home I checked my music library, and the only cover there is Madonna's from "Erotica". Which isn't a bad cover at all, but it's not the one playing in my head.

Some exploration of the iTunes Music Store and the rest of the web reveals that there are eight million different covers of that song, but doesn't tell me which one's playing in my head. Definitely not Elvis. Probably Peggy Lee, although she herself did it so many different times that none of the ones I've listened to snippets of has quite convinced me that it's The One.

Does anyone know, when some random radio station plays "Fever", exactly which "Fever" it's most likely to be?

Anyway, while poking around in iTunes I found the cover by Endless Blue, from "Smoke Through It". Also definitely not the version that's playing in my head, but I did like it alot. So now the whole album is streaming through the various aethers down to the iBook's hard drive, bound for the iPod. (It sure is easy to spend money this way.)

I apparently have a weakness for covers done by women with voices that suggest they're sitting dangerously at the end of a bar somewhere, probably dressed in black, and perhaps with a certain amount of leather involved. See Black Box Recorder's cover of "Seasons in the Sun" which I think I've plugged here before. And which reminds me that I haven't looked around for a copy of the Flying Lizards' cover of "Money" lately. (The vinyl's reasonably easy to find on eBay, but I want the bits, not the atoms...)

On the anthology, an appreciative reader writes:

Well, you have a very interesting Ajax crowd, but I was particularly struck by this one: "She loved him so hard and so fast that it scared the breath right out of her lungs, the voice from her throat, the wet from her tongue." I read that several times, then even more out loud to myself and, every time I did, it gave me chills. This is one of the most gorgeous, the most perfect pieces of prose I have ever read, and your extremely talented reader should be very, very proud.

Hear that, extremely talented reader? (I myself am very proud just to have provided the conduit.)

More prosaically (is that how it's spelt?), a reader writes into the Ajax toy:

I can't read this in my feed!

Which is entirely true, and a disadvantage of all similar Ajaxic things: they don't show up in RSS feeds, or for that matter in like say Google, at least unless and until they get anthologized in ordinary HTML like on Sunday there.

Somewhere recently we (for some value of "we" that I forget) decided what the best new Olympic sport would be: Hide and Seek!

IOC take note.

And wow am I sleepy so I won't attempt to do anything organized between here and the end of this log entry. I'll just note in passing that I finished and wrote up Stross's "Accelerando" (it was good), and a more or less random fantasy novel (also pretty good, although on perhaps a somewhat different scale) which is also my first Book Crossing book (it had the little serial number in the front, so I went to the site and registered and typed in a "journal entry" for it and all, although having done that I have to admit that although it seems like a neat thing I somehow just miss understanding the actual point).

Oh, and the invention of dating has had a beneficial impact on the Zoom household, and the Townie Project continues along. (Although since the little boy just got "Star Wars: Empire at War" (not much war in that, is there?), it may be some time before I get any time on the Sims-bearing computer again, so it may not continue along again for awhile.)

Whoof! Now we'll see if I can remain coherent long enough to actually run the Perl scripts that post this to the "Web"...

The Anthology So Far

These extracts from the Ajax Toy and the Talking Place were contributed by person or persons unknown. No consistency or identity of narrative universe is implied. Read at your own risk. Characters may or may not be Mia. You might want to read them one at a time over a long period, or alternately greedily gobble them all at once.

"...because she too dined on songbirds."
She could not stop the lovingness. It perfused her, visceral, at times tangible. The object of her lovingness did not wish to be so...she had long ago accepted that. Any sane person would just open up their telomeres and let the lovingness unravel off the ends, gather like lint and blow away. That's what any sane person would do.
She had this thing for flashlights, something about the way they could just be sitting there useless, taking up space then suddenly push the rubber button and they provide instant illumination...especially the new electromagnetic ones.
The case was hard but the heart it contained was fragile...spun glass...molten in a furnace of passion...cooled in a bucket of tears.
It took her so long to learn anything, so long in fact that by the time she had learned it it had changed into something else. That's why early on she had developed her own shortcuts that tunneled her out to different parts of the grid. See : Polka Dot Netting. This navigation method often left her in very unfamiliar territory without a map.
There were a million different lovely things happening that day, a million sparkling flashes of brilliance and thought and spectacular love and spontaneity, and every one of them bound to the others by a single tick of the watch.
There is a heart somewhere so bold that it beats for the love of love itself. Doesn't it know that love is out of fashion? Black is the new black, prawn is the new pr0n, jade is the new love.
Her story was not for public consumption. She lived a quiet life, an undocumented life. Was a life lived in public view any more valid than one lived in obscurity? Any less valid? When one's responsibility was to fully immerse in and viscerally feel the life one lived, did it matter that that life was lived out on the dark side of the moon? Not one bit. No not one bit.
Not every stellar event in her life had been punctuated by sex. There had been that wintry night in the old abandoned chip-burning silo, vertical sides as pitch as coal, so when you looked up, the long-rusted-away grid ceiling appeared as a portal to the stars and you thought you could fly just by thinking about it. There had been no sex there.
never turn in work on time, this is a guiding principle in life. it doesn't arise out of anything but defiant refusal to focus and submit one's mind and time to the task.
The lemon sharks looked so real that she had to keep licking the tip of her finger to make sure she couldn't taste the salt.
The end had come sooner rather than later. At five in the previous morning to be exact, when her sister had sucked him dry and he, in a moment of depletion had chosen between them. Oh well, she had heard there were still tilting windmills somewhere. Over in Idaho maybe. She'd pack her tools and maybe have a looksee for herself.
She had no plan; no map, no plan, no knife, no flashlight. All she had was a copper penny and his class ring. With only these, she'd have to navigate the treasonous straights, most likely alone unless things changed real soon.
She wanted to know what shored up his DNA, and the state of his telemeres...ever the questions about telemeres blowing and bouncing like tumbleweeds through her mind. But these were likely not the type of questions he meant right now when he asked if she had any questions, after he had spent the better leg of the afternoon grilling her on her grant proposal for the study of "Proto-Linguistic Use o
She was a researcher and he a close relative of her subject. We all are, of course, but he, strange for an institutional grant reviewer had such an air of orgone about him that she wanted to get out her calipers and measure the girth of his testicles right there. In the world of research, new data is tangible wealth, a commodity, though no-one is likely so crass as to call it that, nor to measure
The paper had that lovely smell of damp that reminds you of eating paste as a child and when everyone wasn't allergic to everything.
Her eyes were open in a closed fashion and her ears too. His words were, of course, sweet...smooth and powdery like the sugar in the bowl on the table between them. She put some on the tip of her tongue and let them slowly dissolve, mulling the light agenbite of afterthought.
He was almost frightened to even look now. The last time he looked the arbutus branches were covered in little monkeys working studiously at pulling off the remaining bark. There never used to be monkeys in Beacon Hill Park and now there were and what was next he wondered? So unsettling. He'd have to get out the good whiskey he supposed when the Crumwhistles came by.
Eight years he sat there, but spoke not one word.
She sold her swords for sandalwood combs and silk sheets but he was long gone. A young man will only wait at the ready for just so long before he presses on.
Underneath it all he was a man of great character, a lion-hearted man, a man who would save a child from a burning building. Not many people saw that in him but she did. She saw that in the sly cut of his jib.
And then again there were always the gas cylinders to consider; the storage of them, the transportation, disposal. All these things he had overlooked in his rush to implement his overblown Grand Unified Theory of Everything, as he so very originally kept calling it.
These arrangements formed an important part of the process by which the ancient world gradually developed the new national patterns characteristic of the Middle Ages. Yet the part played by the Visigothic and Burgundian settlers in this historic transformation is only apparent by hindsight. At the time when they were first setting up their homes on Imperial soil they felt no desire whatever to d
Our ballet mamselle was very fat, probably the fattest person in our town. Nonetheless she was beautiful and graceful and had the daintiest little feet below the sturdiest ballerina legs ever made and she made us believe that anyone, anyone could be a ballerina. If she could rise above the laws of gravity surely we could rise above the small misfortune of being born with neither ways nor means.
The lilies refused to open that year. They budded, but like sly New York kindergarten teachers they pretended they had never bloomed before.
R is a velocity measure, defined as a reasonable speed of travel that is consistent with physical health, mental wellbeing and not being more than about five minutes late.
Not understanding anything anymore, she took to the road leaving behind sisters, unrepentant lovers and unfortunately, her imperial sockets. Damn, now she'd have to go back. She hated going back. It was like rubbing up against three day stubble...better to go the long way round.
She was always falling through the cracks in the spine of the book-like thing that they displayed on the plasma tabletop to remind themselves of how it could have been. Picking it up now and running her finger down the ridges, it warmed to her touch. Magic, she thought, as she fell in...again.
Nothing about him was the same. Not his looks, not his scent, not even the wax in his pores, but yet there was a sense of familiarity that she could not shake off. Was it the eyes? He had the usual polymer eyes, dimestore variety so they should be familiar, half the population had them. It must be something else. But what? It had been years since she had seen him naked so maybe her sensory card wa
She was a seamstress who secretly read Penrose, he a physicist who dreamed of La Boheme. They had met while he was retrieving his only dinner jacket in for repairs and were married in a private ceremony the following April. Ahh...springtime in Paris...cue the violins. Mais quelle dommage... people can arrange their own bad marriages just as skillfully as the aunties can.
She loved him so hard and so fast that it scared the breath right out of her lungs, the voice from her throat, the wet from her tongue.
The type of men she liked used words like esoteric and extant and goto considered harmful even if she didn't always understand what they meant. But the kind of men that were attracted to her slapped you on the ass and said "Hey baby, lookin good. Bring me a beer will ya?". Guess she should have taken a job in the library instead. There were likely less ass-slappers in the library crowd, maybe.
The tweed skirt and girly heels were a little too tight at first. But she wiggled into them and gradually they gave way to accommodate her architecture. A perfect fit, reluctantly.
The first thing she did when she got there was dismantle the windmill. She was after the rotor, the heart of the machine, the rest she could fabricate at the other end. Right now she had to travel light.
May all beings everywhere have Happiness and the causes of Happiness.
She was glad she'd taken Elijah Naytowhow up on the offer of the snow-shoes. It looked like she'd be needing them soon. The border pass was three good days away, five bad ones, and that was if the bridge was still holding together. Metal rot was already advanced when she'd been through on her last run and it was unlikely the miserably few plasma bots she'd released at the time could have done much
Maybe the Urrs had been around. She used to be in good with the Urrs but management may have changed meantime. Seems that most of the Urrs couldn't get enough of her exotic away songs. They made a big deal, too big a deal, of the tonality, the timing, the colouring of her phrases. False flattery. She knew it was some kind of a trick, she just hadn't figured out what they were after yet.
How had she become this solitary traveller? Well it seems she had a natural talent for alienating lovers, husbands, friends. But not fathers...he'd merely died. She liked to think she would never have alienated him. He was sort of her hero. He had taught her the importance of keeping your tools sharp and letting the saw blade do the work for you. And how to survive a core meltdown.
She awoke in coaly darkness, disoriented until she remembered turning her eyes off just before shutting down. Ah yes, Access Junction 734N. Not a penthouse, that's for sure, but good digs for a day or two while the constructors grew. She lowered herself to the vat to check on their progress. They were growing a bit more slowly than she had expected. She might have to goose the catalysts.
Ed Bethel glanced through the window, through the brown haze, at the array. There were - what? - ten thousand turbines out there? Twenty thousand? He was never sure any more. A lot. Pretty much as far as he could see, their porcelein towers tall on the landscape, their titanium blades whirring into transparent silver disks. Most of the time. But not today. Today, Tower 49-258 was malfunctioning.
She had had a good lover once. One of those gum sweet lovers that stroke your cheek softly and say Good Morning Baby but she couldn't believe her luck and tested the spell and it broke like a sugarbowl flung at a burglar who turns out to be your brother sneaking in late. No more gummi lover and yes she did cry, but not right away.
The portrait was sweaty, nude, smiling, and erect - four things the public had never seen from a regent.
Ed reran the diags and frowned. The news was not good. The Tower was not just low, but dead out. He sighed, clenching his mouth into a grimace. He'd have to go out. He hated going out.
Suck...suck...blow. Suck...suck...blow. She used the technique she had perfected up in the Lichen Fields, now that she was down to just two damp matches and the snow was not letting up. She should maybe have kept him around for warmth but the annoyance factor far outweighed the R factor in his case. He never shut up. And she desperately needed to concentrate on the rapidly weakening signal.
She sang to entice them into the clearing...tried the old songs first...nothing. Then she got out the bakelite handset from her kit and sang into it like a microphone. That did the trick. Eyes everywhere. She drew them in closer til she could get a reading. They still ran on binary. That was surprising. As she sang she streamed code in the background desperately searching for their Mother Font.
When had this settled in to her, this acceptance of, of what? ...nothingness? Snow globes fell from the sky and flashed and bounced and smashed all around her, yet she sat unpressed by the odd beauty of it. She was relatively or somewhat certain she'd seen it all before and the results were the same. Big mess...sweep it up...start over.
"Do you know what vitreous means?". "Are you asking me or are you going to tell me?". This was how their flirtation began. She had finally met a man she couldn't put off. Not with her obstreperous nature, not with her endless supply of cardigan sweaters, some even intact with most of their original issue of buttons, not with her penchant for high heels that she couldn't walk in.
"Life at the Speed of Speed...", that's what she would call her next book. But first she'd have to learn about life. Then she'd have to learn about speed. This could probably take awhile.
She wanted to give him silver bells, and silver spells that turned honey into things that weren't honey, but he was married to the woman who lived upstairs who happened to be her sister so bell-giving and spell-giving in these particular circumstances probably wouldn't be the done thing round these parts, this being Massachusetts and all.
"Put the kettle on," he said. "We'll be here awhile longer yet." She pulled her cardigan tight against her shoulders, threw a stick in the stove and filled the kettle, again. Oh how she wished she had brought along a bottle of whisky. Oh how she wished she could throw herself into the sea. Oh how she wished she couldn't swim.
Hardboiled. She grabbed a pen from the junk drawer to write on the cardboard carton, the pink ink pen she hated, as it turned out. That's why it was in the junk drawer. As she gently placed the eggs back in the carton she thought how she too was hardboiled. Hardboiled, hated pink pens and had terrible handwriting...everybody's perfect Valentine girl.
"Today I am the very essence of isosceles, open at both ends and empty in the middle. That's what the essential nature of isosceles embodies. I had a vision about it in yoga class today and now I am the dharma of geometry."... Oh my god, where did he meet these women? Did he bring them over purposely to annoy her because if so, it worked.
She snuck up behind him with the blade in her hand. It felt odd, and not in a good way odd. She hadn't held a blade in what seemed like forever. They'd handled all eliminations through the console since before anyone could remember. She ran through her negotiating programs again hoping to find something she'd missed. This wasn't what she'd signed on for and she didn't like it. Not one bit.
It was well past noon when she turned over in the warm pool of sunlight, turned over and stretched the full length of the bed, and it seemed to him - and he smiled at the realization - that she looked just like a cat, deliciously sleeping the whole day away, only to awaken at night to hunt.
The snowshoes weren't working out that well after all. They were the old gut style and had gotten so brittle through lack of use that she could feel the left one wanting to give way. She'd have to find some open water to soak it or maybe strip some bark for lashing. Either way she'd lose time, but no nevermind. A strange calm was loosening her bones. She slowed her pace, eyes scanning the horizon.
She adjusted her eyes and waited for the image to stabilize. A balding man in a white bathcoat sat in a wicker chair by the pool. A younger woman sat facing him. They were talking. It always surprised her that people like this would sit in a sightline. Maybe he liked scenery. It didn't matter. She activated the targeting reticle and selected vertical entry.
The edge was the same as the clean-swept side. From her vantage point there was no depth of field, like you could fall up as easily as sideways. She shouldn't stare at the sun so long or fall in love so easily.
Just over eleven thousand meters. No problem. She reached into her belt and removed a rubbery black cylinder, about the size and weight of her thumb, and threw it casually above her head. As it rose, it split into three parts, each of which grew small fins and, with a pop, started its propellant and quickly vanished from sight.
If you've ever eaten a borage leaf you'll know the feeling. The first time you take a man's testicle into your mouth it is similar, a somewhat strange but mildly addictive sensation.
They would take different routes, she knew, to confuse any tracers, skimming the treetops before leaping skyward at a few hundred meters and becoming ballistic. She tracked the man in the white bathcoat for two more minutes before the shards lasered for final instructions. A flash appeared above the man's head, like a thick spark a few centimeters long, and he went limp, as if suddenly asleep.
He occasionally descended to the level of les paysannes. He didn't like to really but made a great show of savouring the earthiness of the fields, hand-scything the grist for his mill, cocking an ear pertly to catch the evensong of the guttersnipe.
They called their child Amazing, of course by implication her name being Grace. That was part of the naming convention in their pod. She would have the option when older of answering to either or both names but not both names in sequence. Theirs was a culture of the elegance of minutae.