Blinks Abroad

February 12th, 2018

I had a dream this morning that I was back in college, and that the vast majority of students had decided the organization was no good, to be replaced with a daily process in which you'd line up at a reception table, fill out forms for a while, grab a stack of other people's paper assignments to be completed by yourself, then move on to a new table with a big vat of lemon blueberry pudding and piles of plastic containers, at which point you'd ladle out some of the stuff (yes, on top of the writing assignments), grab some plastic, and write down how many portions for redistribution you were going to produce that day once the papers were written. And I felt guilty, because I wrote four, but took five containers, intending to secret away a scoop of sludge for myself.

I have no idea, really, but I was glad for having woken up, once I did. In fact, it's rather difficult not to feel serene and relieved on waking to my life, awash as it is these days in resplendent natural beauty and adventuresome delights. In part, I think it's Costa Rica itself --well, it and its marked differences from Buenos Aires, where a mere walk by the riverside could barely, and often not really, be had. There's also likely something to be said for the distance in years, in paradigm, and in practice from those college days, even if the real thing was a little less blatantly insane (it was certainly less puddinged). But those are reflections for another day. For now, there's wilderness, that space sufficiently unmolested by humans to make being one in it feel better.

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Taking in the view after a thirty minute climb behind a rickety truck full of Nicaraguan date-palm-jacks.

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The jungle path, as curated by some worthy, quiet folks on the mountaintop.

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Hello from as close to Pepperland as probably exists.

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Rounding a corner, an odd call was heard. I pointed the camera at the branches, oh hope beyond hope...

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...of finally seeing a wild toucan, and there he was.

Once back, duty required that I journey on to Bogota, to be carouseled from a to b and back in a certain diplomatic chariot.

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No such luxury on the way in, however. Boingo wifi presents: flight schedule eggog, Panama edition! No tiene precio, kay?

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I don't know what kind of dental procedures require generators-cum-soft-serve apparatus, and I don't want to find out.

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Colombia's coffee did not disappoint. Neither did the lulada, a sort of persimmon-ade.

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Bogota's most beautiful building, the Farshad rug store. I was going to use it as misdirection for a game of 'guess where I am', but the thing was too true and good for such trickery.

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This, for the record, was the most dangerous the city ever got.

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For Dad, another piece of the Stanford diaspora.

And here our journey ends, brief interval between delicious propulsions. Until next time, may your papers be your own, and your pudding non-communal.

Unsystematized Exploration, Tropical Ed. No. Whichever

January 17th, 2018

I got a parking ticket today, the first traffic-y citation-y article I've ever earned. It was won adjacent the Torre Mercedes (a squat psuedo-tower a block away from the ~1.2x tall "Tallest Building in Costa Rica" housing a monstrous 70s fascism-style stairway/fountain/grim reflection point, plus a few regional business headquarters), for the infraction of not having paid the unstated parking fee to the not-present-while-parking parking attendant. The damage comes to 7800 colones, or about $16, or about twice as much as the actual parking fee would've likely been. Alternatively, the cost of a goodly amount of local bacon for the pits, now on strike 'til the next lamb stew is made.

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It might not be much of a parking ticket, but it's mine.

Other recent finds include the Templo de Servicios Sanitarios, an apparent hangout amongst the peaecekeepers:

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The world's bearingest papayaness tree, in someone's front yard:

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And that most venerable of university institutions, Tesis Kike:

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Here's one for Stan:

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And what looks to be some sort of Trinque refueling station:

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And if the locals ain't got whatcha want, why, you can always hire one to do some rearrangin':

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With a lopped-off limb and a life of utter decrepitude:

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How is a clever young man to make his way? Why, by matriculating in the general direction of that Windows 7 cake shop what they got o'er in Barrio Mexico.

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The real puzzler is, what'd be best carried in the following conveyance?

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Acquariums? Christmas lights? Or perhaps a new product line from

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I'll leave these things to the philosophers; meanwhile, it's time to load the Illegal Parker again and head to fairer margins:

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The Trilema Article Database, a toollet.

January 9th, 2018

In its ten+ years of life, trilema has amassed over 8,000 articles, a feat that has terrorized many, and confounded still more. The sheer number and variety of pieces can make recalling what was said where a bit of a bitch, especially if one can't remember an exact distinguishing phrase.

The Trilema Article Database is a humble attempt to meaningfully, if somewhat idiosyncratically1 index Trilema articles, making them searchable beyond Google's arguably useful options.

I first designed TADB to work as a lisp IRC bot that'd idle in #trilema, but opted to put it up on this site as a php script following two issues: 1. nobody's gonna like a bot capable of (eventually) spitting 8,000+ title/url pairs in channel, and 2. I'm a noob2 and lisp is beardy, how about we not wait forever for the echafaudage of what is, after all, an experimental and possibly even not all that desirable item. Should the thing prove useful I imagine it'll see a lot of surgery.

As of this post solely January of 2017, chosen arbitrarily, has been indexed, to allow potential users to chime in on any modifications3 they'd like to see --obviously, any change to the indexer itself will require a re-indexing of all known articles, which prompted the minimal initial run. Anyone interested in taking on some chunk of pieces, say a month, or a year, or even a category, is welcome to join in --I find it's a great exercise in revisiting old pieces and restructuring them in one's own head, a pleasant reward for the time spent. I'll also make sql dumps of the database available to the lordship for the asking, should anyone want to use it in part or total for Mad Science.

Please give it a spin; TADB lives here.

  1. I see no way out of this; while a number of objective criteria may be extracted from a given article and thereby used to search, an index will contain some interpreted data if it is to be used to match readers' memories to extant articles (that is, unless I'm the only one who doesn't think in terms of "Gee, what was that one piece with 587 words 42% of which started with t?" I guess it's possible. InformAssimilate me! ) []
  2. I listed it as #2 so it's less obvious. That makes it less obvious, right? RIGHT?! []
  3. Additional criteria would be especially appreciated. []

Beachcombing, A Guide

November 5th, 2017

Remember when poring over the shore with a metal detector was socially acceptable, despite its apparently mandatory uniform of fanny packs, boater hats, oversized sunglasses, and ringed tube-socks pulled up tight to almost, not-quite reach the cuffs of beige cargo shorts? Well I don't. I'd only seen it taking place in cartoons, which might explain the universal dress code. During the last trip to the Pacific side of Paradise I spotted an old man looking almost, not-quite the part, detector in hand, headphones over hat, sweeping the sand.

I don't get it; metal detectors don't pick up crabs, and obviously that's what you'd go to the beach to see. Crabspotting is simple. You stand in one spot and wait for the shells and rocks to start moving, then you run to the morsel in question waving your arms and yelling.

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Sometimes crabs and their assorted friends rent out a better house, which you can find by looking for signs of redecoration:

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Sadly, this particular condominium was still on the market, and hadn't taken in any squatters.

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Better results will likely be had if one is brave enough to venture into the metropolitan crabcentres.

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Or inside ex-boat flotsam barges.

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Once a good quantity of crabs have been duly perturbed, a good day of beachcombing calls for saying something prosaic about how beautiful the sunset is.

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And of course, you get bonus points for finding bananas.

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Tally it all up and I'm pretty sure I came out ahead of ol' sweepy.

Wellington Schmellington

October 27th, 2017

Pork Wellington is a dish created by a certain gourmand and which I especially appreciate for its competent obfuscation of that off-copper, sub-glottal twinge that typically assaults one attempting to finish their liver1. It's pretty much a roast-in-crust, with the more common beef tenderloin swapped out for pork, and the pate made with chicken rather than goose liver, which is also deeply spiced.

Make the pastry first so it can sit in the fridge while everything else gets going. Follow a basic pate brisee method, but sift in some baking powder before you cut in the butter. Smoosh it into a disk and let it chill so it's easier to roll later.

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Next make the pate. Dump about a kilo of fresh chicken liver into a big pot of boiling water and get ready to lose some of your enthusiasm about eating this thing later on (don't worry, it'll come back). Sorting through your livers to discard any gallbladders that might've gotten in there before this point is a good idea. A few drops of whatever vinegar you have on hand will help tame the smell and aid coagulation in the pot.

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Keep it roiling for half an hour, then drain the stuff and dump it into a bowl with your spice mixture, which should contain around ten grams of allspice berries with black and white peppercorns to taste, finely ground. Mash these up with a fork, adding a pat of butter now and then to achieve a thick, clumpy velvet sort of texture. Remove any whitish membrane threads you find during this procedure. Once you're happy with the texture, add a few spoonfulls of fermented dairy --I used plain yogurt and some splashes of kefir, though sour cream would also work. This'll make the pate easily spreadable, a paste rather than a stucco.

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Now it's time to sear your steak; heat a pan to suparhot with some butter, and brown the tenderloin on all sides, giving the whole thing no more than two minutes or so, then transfer it to a plate to cut the heat.

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Your components now prepared, you can proceed to roll out the dough; try to make a shape that more or less echoes that of the tenderloin. Spread about half of the pate on the dough, leaving a goodly margin as below, then plop the seared tenderloin on top. Slather on the rest of the pate2. At this point you'd typically spangle the log3 with sliced mushrooms, but I opted to make a bechamel of dried porcinis instead. A sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves works well, too.

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Anyway, wrap the thing up like any other package, taking care not to get much of any overlap of the dough, else it'll end up too thick in places. Seal on top or along the sides, brush with an eggwash, slash a few holes, and stick it in the oven around 190C for about 50 minutes.

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Pork Wellington is best eaten with his dearest friends in tow: Sir Worchestershire, Herr Rottkohl, and Madamme Bordeaux.

  1. As part of some grand cosmic joke I'm not in on, the only working remedy for my interminable affair with anemia is weekly consumption of ~half a kilo of chicken liver, which I initally found abhorrent and by now swallow with only somewhat of a frown. []
  2. Depending on the "about" of your kilo of liver and the size of your tenderloin, you might end up with too much pate --you don't want to go thicker than about a third of an inch. If you end up with extra, put it in a glass jar in the fridge and enjoy with tomorrow's toast or whatever, tell your sister you've discovered a fabulous "hair masque" she just has to try. []
  3. Masturbatory euphemism not intended. []

A Compendium of Possibly Helpful Stuffs for Erecting Mircea Popescu's WordPress with Nearly Free Speech Hosting

October 25th, 2017

I'm not a fan of acronyms that don't spell out something naughty, but alas, they're a necessary evil, and you'll likely encounter1 the items titled above as MP-WP and NFS.

The former's something to use because it hails from an era2 when WordPress may not have been completely and utterly retarded, but merely something of a doofus, which inadequacies and bad habits were seen to by a sane man who then put it through the wringer for a decade. There's not going to be any "feature" that outweighs the boss' usage and say-so, and you're probably not in a position to identify what features are good or bad, or which methods are reasonable or batshit anyway. As for NFS, it's worth checking out as much as for asciilifeform's lack of problems with them year in and year out as for their lack of the usual Disneyland backend. They also accept Bitcoin, which is nice, though via BitPay, which is monstrously retarded.

So then, let's compendiate.

*NFS lives here. You can start futzing with stuff right away with a trial account and pay once you're satisfied all your desired pegs have holes (or the other way around, no judgment). The trial's good for a week, after which your account will be disabled and you'll have to make a deposit to get your reins back.

*MP-WP via shinohai lives here.

*NFS doesn't use CPanel or the like, but you'll find database setup under the mysql tab (start a "process" first, then you can create a db).

*To install MP-WP via SSH, open a bash terminal, and enter ssh your-username@ssh-hostname (both of these are given under the sites tab at NFS). Grab the tar.gz above with wget, tar -zxvf it, and get everything out of the "blog" directory and into the root3 with mv blog/* ./ and rmdir ./blog/, unless you've got other plans for your site. Get all yer db information correctly assembled in wp-config.php using nano.

*Your new digs will likely be decked with php "errors" in the form of warnings about deprecation and various other superficial complaints. If, like me, you give no shits about these, stick the following into wp-config.php:


ini_set('display_errors', 'Off');
ini_set('error_reporting', E_ALL );
define('WP_DEBUG', false);
define('WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY', false);

*MP-WP is themeless. If you want a theme other than the two that come standard with a new WP installation, you'll have to find one that's about as old as MP-WP itself unless you feel like some Seriously Escalated Futzing. If you see a theme you like, go to its page, scroll down to "Browse the Code", click on the Development Log, and see if there's a suitably wrinkled version there. The vast majority'll only go back a few months to a year, whereas you want nine years or more. For what it's worth, I did try activating theme versions in the 6 - 8 year old range, all of which failed immediately (typically via 'theme is broken, reverting to default').

*At some point you'll probably want to upload something like a style sheet or who knows what. I'd never uploaded via SSH before but found it's a lot less annoying than using the typical graphical interface drag-and-drop. Open a new bash terminal, cd to the directory where the file(s) you want to upload are located, and use scp to get it done:


scp local/dir/with/item/to/upload your-username@ssh-hostname:path/to/directory/where/stuff/should/go

You'll need to specify the full path, /home/public and all.

*I attempted to import a full mysql dump of my previous site, which fundamentally broke shit to the degree of wiping the contents of all pages. Importing individual tables of interest however proved unproblematic; if you're like me and pretty much just want your posts and comments, extracting these from a dump is as easy as


sed -n -e '/DROP TABLE.*`name_of_table_you_want`/,/UNLOCK TABLES/p' existing-mysql-dump.sql > solitary-table.sql

and then you can compress these and import them into the corresponding tables in your new database.

*Trilema's spiffy footnotes don't ship with MP-WP, for some reason. The plugin's called WP-Footnotes by Simon Elvery, and you can grab it here --a cursory search of WordPress' plugin directory didn't turn it up, I imagine for sins against modernity merde. Grab it, rename it to footnotes.php, copy it into your wp-content/plugins directory and activate it in the "plugins" section of WordPress' admin.

That's about it, enjoy your downgrade. If you run into any problems not covered here, please pop into #trilema and moan.

Edit October 25th: Comments ended up needing a little tweak; all comments other than admin resulted in a complaint about the author and email fields being required despite having been filled out. This was likely due to my messing around with themes, but should you run into this, make sure the $suffix line in your wp-comments-post.php matches that of the line starting with php? $suffix = in the comments.php file within your theme directory (mind that only the line in comments.php gets wrapped in the php tags).

  1. For instance, in the logs, where asciilifeform's most recent accolade of the host in question caught me in a moment of hostlessness. []
  2. 2007, nearly pleistocene! []
  3. /home/public/ by default, ftr []

Feminine Exceptionalism

January 25th, 2017

The following is a[n attempt at] translation of the Trilema piece Exceptionalismul femenin.

You've doubtlessly come across at least one side or another of these strategies/social psychopathologies in day to day life (depending on where you've found yourself, on the outside or the inside of the disease), even if it didn't seem in the respective moment that they'd make up part of a structured and describable whole, just as not everyone who trips over a mastodon bone sticking halfway out of the ground will start to reconstruct the entire animal with its habitat and everything. Excusable, but man've we got work to do, and man'll it be tough.

Feminine exceptionalism begins, as the name suggests, with an exception. "Sure, smoking's not allowed here, but can't I smoke?" "Sure, it's written on the card not to tell anyone the PIN, the bank sent letters to remind you not to tell anyone the PIN, on the ATM screen there's an advertisement to not tell anyone the PIN, but you'll tell me, won't you?" The list, in principle, is neverending, but in practice it always reduces to a very simple pattern. The rule is X, surely it's so, but the girl doesn't consider it to be the case that it applies to her.

She doesn't contest that in truth the rule exists, she doesn't contest either that it's a good and necessary rule. In fact, any discussion of whether the rule is good or bad doesn't interest her at all; on the contrary, such a discussion would detract from the real point of interest for her. She doesn't contest either that she makes up part of the category of applicability of the rule. On the contrary, for feminine exceptionalism to function, a valid, useful rule whose applicability she falls within is absolutely necessary.

Why? Here we arrive at the true psychological reason for the whole operation: the girl suffers from a problem of self-esteem. She feels, she considers, or she was taught to believe herself to be inferior. Eventually all three. Inferior not just to the other men, and not just to the other women, but even to she herself, to her own "potential".

To combat this psychological sequela, she feels it necessary to prop up her existence with special treatment. Every valid and applicable rule which is broken offers her a bubble of oxygen: maybe she's not a piece of shit, because hey, in that moment she's that special.

The poor form of asking to smoke somewhere the owner doesn't, of the same species and class of asking for vegetable oil when the table's having butter doesn't interest her, because she is not in fact well-mannered, but on the contrary, she still carries under her nails the filth of the existence of the low to (about) the middle class which blessed her with the stretch-marks and soul-marks of which we speak.

And of course, like any psychological problem of the transactional class, this complaint exhibits two specific particularities. Firstly, it is progressive. If yesterday she's been allowed to smoke though smoking's not allowed, it's no longer sufficient today, it no longer produces an effect, so she'll smoke two, four, eight, sixty cigarettes. Until the end, the stimuli have to progress geometrically in order for the receptors to be stimulated in arithmetic progression.

If yesterday you've waited on her five minutes, today you'll have to wait half an hour, and tomorrow we'll be forced to go to another city instead of the cafe we'd planned on, for no other reason than that the girl doesn't feel so great. In the head.

And secondly it is, like any transaction, prone to disproportionate reactions. If the girl has negotiated in her mind that for today proof of the fact that she isn't a piece of shit will be manifested through letting her drive the car, and you don't let her drive, for whatever reason, no matter the reason, like for instance that the car's fallen in a lake, or it's been stolen overnight, wasps have made a nest in there or whatever else, the girl's head is going to explode, and she'll bawl on about how could you say that she's a good for nothing piece of shit.

Which, honestly, she is, preferably to be shat onto a cart headed somewhere in the direction of a hospital for nervous disorders, where who knows, with attentive care and the help of experts, something else might be done with her.

Validation is available for all clientele in the lobby.

January 10th, 2017

"M'am, do you need validation?"

"Yes."

"Alright. Please proceed down the hall to the left. The associate at the second table will assist you."

"Thanks."

"Have a satisfying day, M'am."

The portly receptionist handed the woman back her identification card and pointed down the hall indicated, her smile more impatient than reassuring. Graciela hated tight smiles like that. She knew they were fake, the smilers knew they were fake, the teeth inside it probably knew too --but nobody said a lick about it. She hastily returned the tightness out of spite and made her way down the corridor to the left of the cruise ship-like reception desk. As she turned the corner she met with a line of others, some with their shoes off, others already pantsless, and most with their arms crossed, tapping a foot or sighing with every exhale.

"God, why are they always so slow?" she thought, picturing the last set of validators she'd seen --portlier even than that receptionist, all in official sweaters a bit too tight, all making no apparent effort to get through the queue quickly. Graciela settled her mouth in for a long haul of tight smiling. The man in front of her turned around, shrugged, and raised his eyebrows, silently commiserating with a complaint Graciela had thought was silent, itself. He returned the smile. She tightened hers.

Ten minutes passed; she'd considered the striated ceiling panels, developed a strong disliking of the dark blue carpeting with its pointless red and gray splotches, and had come to fully loathe the cheap vinyl wainscotting. She kicked at it with her pointed vinyl slingbacks, being as vicious as she could without making any sound, entirely blind to --or perhaps because of-- the fact that her shoes were of the exact same stuff.

Thirty bucks for a ticket and they can't even put in some tile, she thought, her voice suddenly sounding a little like her mother's, even if she'd only said it in her head. The line moved approximately one person's-length. Graciela was pleased until she realized she'd forgotten she was in a line, and that the line'd have to move if she was ever going to get validated and go home. She turned around to see how long the line had gotten behind her, always something to throw an "at least" at in times like these. She was still the last in line.

"Oh come on!" It was louder than she'd meant it to be, and her face was instantly warm, her toes and fingers tingling. Nobody responded. Nobody even turned around, including the shrugger in front of her. Last and loud, the worst of the worlds --or at least, the ones that pertained to lines anyway. Wait! There it was! ...not really the same though, like that. At least it had been an accident! She stopped looking for an at least, thoroughly depressed at having run out of even this.

Why had she even chosen validation?

Because I need it.

There wasn't any argument to bring against the fact; inconvenience aside, she had to get it done before she could move on. She knew it. Before she could get back into the lobby with its slightly different pointlessly splotched carpet and its Mark, her date, who apparently didn't need to be validated, somehow. Maybe he was just insensitive. Irresponsible. If she kept seeing him, would she have to take care of all the dirty work herself? Then again, he hadn't seemed the least bit put off that she had chosen the left hallway. She tried to picture him waiting for her, standing right outside the service exit, coat-in-arms; patient, understanding, eager to see her again. What an idiot. More likely he was pacing the lobby with a souring expression, or he'd even ducked into another theatre when no one was looking. He could probably watch anything --horror films or porn even-- and be fine! For a second Graciela's mouth betrayed a real grin.

She would probably have been fine too, if that old film hadn't been mostly about women. Mark wasn't affected because it just didn't relate to him, she thought. Old women, depicted as old women. The makeup made it worse, not better. They let the actresses walk, talk, and hold themselves like they really were old. It was sad, it was horrifying, much too realistic. And why would they have done such a thing, make her prefer the evil sister and then redeem her right at the end, taking the feet out from under the character, simplifying and stupidifying her, stupidifying her? And that good sister. Unbearable. Weak, fickle, insecure, desperate for valida--. Graciela's eyes widened and her mouth lost any and all flavors of smiling.

It was true. She needed to be validated.

The line had moved enough to let her see the intake tables. She glanced at her watch: 5:42, almost three quarters of an hour she'd been in line, but it was definitely speeding up. They work faster when they see dinnertime coming, she thought, bending over to undo her slingbacks. She picked them up and wiggled her toes in her stockings, then took out her earrings. Only a few more people to go and she'd feel all better, and maybe next week she and Mark would go see something less risky. Something about robots, or plants maybe. They could watch a nice documentary about cacti. Or one of those things where you just sit and look at a mechanical arm welding a seam.

Graciela spent the next fifteen minutes musing about plastic and paint, toupe and seafoam, boxes and empty pads of paper, until she was finally called forward, almost euphorically unstimulated. The woman at the second table had to call her three times, breathing heavily in between M'am?s. Graciela padded to the table, a cheap foldout stacked with forms and molded trays of varying sizes. The incredible bulk of the woman attending it was nearly table-like itself; perhaps the fat was courting the furniture.

"Hello M'am, please put any jewelry in the blue tray, shoes in green, dress in red, underthings in white, do you have any prosthetics today?"

"Hello. No." Graciela stripped and put her things in the respective trays. She held out her hands for the clipboard backed form, which the woman passed her.

"Please complete this form M'am. I'll take your bag now."

Graciela didn't especially want to hand over her purse, even though she knew they wouldn't let her take it with her. It was unclean anyway, no point in getting validation if her purse was going to stay the same. Still, she couldn't help but hesitate a little as she slid it off her shoulder and held it out for the woman. She had liked it.

"Thank-you."

The form was as busy with disclaimers, agency names, slogans, and trademarks as it always was, just as the actual fields to fill in remained straightforward. Graciela filled in her name, address, sex, race, age, occupation, level of education, amount currently in savings, health score, blood type, family and sexual relations, and presidential rating. She scrawled in the name of the film. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Just printing it conjured a rope of nausea in her throat. The theatre really ought to just let you check a box.

Entirely bare and very eager to be rid of the sickness, Graciela gave the clipboard back to the woman at the table. She had been staring at Graciela's breasts, her mouth slightly open. Graciela pretended not to notice. The woman scanned the form.

"O-kay M'am, you'll be getting validated in the bubble suite, with uh, who's working bubble today." The woman swiveled around in her chair until she spotted another sweater-clad behemoth. "Sherry! Hey Sherry! Yeah, who's in the bubble suite today?"

"Chuck."

"Right, you'll be getting validated in the bubble suite today with Chuck. Do you consent? Into the recorder please."

Graciela stepped forward until her mouth was only a few inches from the plastic device hanging from the ceiling over the table.

"I consent."

A moment later Chuck appeared from somewhere in the bowels of the suitery. He was nearly as wide as tall, with an unkempt moustache and short hair that was oddly compressed in places, as though he'd taken several naps with his head crammed against a wall or desk. A thick red crease ran down the side of his face, crusted here and there with what looked like drool.

"Hello Miss, I'm Chuck," he said. "Please follow me."

Graciela moved with him down a series of hallways until they came to a door with a cheap printout of a clip-art bubble taped at about head's-height. Chuck opened the door.

"Welcome to the bubble suite."

The room was small enough to look like it wouldn't fit more than about a Chuck-and-a-half, and indeed the man had to use his hands to push his fat out of the way of the furnishings as he entered. There was a massage table, a desk and chair with a lamp, and of course, a bubble machine in the corner. It spit occasional explosions of soap bubbles into the middle of the room, making a faint pooting sound as it released them. Everything was vaguely stained, though evidently swaddled in disinfectant and air freshener.

"Please lay down on the table miss. Face up, huh."

Graciela did as she was asked. As she was told? It wasn't a question, even if Chuck didn't look like he could issue any commands. Why did they always have to be so--

"So you saw a bad movie, Miss?"

Graciela nodded and closed her eyes.

"Tell me."

"It made me worry about being older, and like maybe I can't distinguish between good and bad, and maybe I'm stupid. The characters' house was bigger and prettier than mine, and the cars too."

"Oh, how horrible. What a bad, bad film, shame on--" There was a pause as Chuck glanced at a form on the desk. "--Davis and Crawford, shame on that Mister Aldrich. You know, back then they really didn't know any better. They were very insensitive, irresponsible. But Chuck's here to fix all of that."

"Mhmmm." Graciela twitched as she felt several bubbles pop over her abdomen, spraying it with tiny specks of soap.

"Your plans for today?"

"Go home with Mark. Basic sex, eat something, walk Muriel--"

"Who is Muriel?!" Chuck interrupted, his voice suddenly all annoyance and exasperation.

Graciela opened her eyes and saw Chuck frowning over her. His belt and pants were undone, a length of flaccid flesh dangling from the hole of his boxer shorts.

"...Muriel is my Weimaraner."

"Your what?!"

"My dog."

"It doesn't say you have a dog on your service entrance form!"

"Oh. I guess I forgot."

Chuck sighed deeply, zipped up, and said he'd have to check with his supervisor. "I'll be back shortly. Please try to prepare yourself properly, Miss."

Graciela raised her arm to get a look at her watch before realizing it was gone. Sometimes this whole thing took so long she wished they wouldn't even offer it. Just let people take the risk of having reactions, make them deal with it on their own. Maybe they'd even get better at it over time, if they could practice. But that, the answer came, unbidden, that is how we end up with psychopaths and serial killers. She sighed and brushed her fingertips over the tops of her thighs. A little plumper every time. It was fine to be fat, they said, but wouldn't you have to say such things if you were Chuck's size? She wondered how often he was validated, himself. She closed her eyes and imagined his small, floppy penis. Prepare yourself properly, he had said.

She rested her hands at either side of her on the table and shook her head rapidly as if to loosen some bind. She took deep breaths, she giggled as the soap bubbles burst against her. As she heard the unmistakable thudding of Chuck's mass coming back down the hall, she quickly tweaked her nipples between thumb and index finger to make them stand up, and plastered on her tight smile.

Chuck entered the room gruffly, out of breath.

"My supervisor said we can continue, but your failure to provide a complete inventory of relations has been noted on your permanent record."

"Oh."

"So where were we, Miss?" Zip. "Ahh."

"...Walking my dog."

"Yes. Any other plans?"

"No."

"And what would you like to feel?"

"Younger. Stronger...more attractive." Chuck was getting closer to her head, a fact that betrayed itself in the increasing heat she felt there, and in the growing loudness of his breathing. "...Good, basically good, like I make the right choices and do the right things."

"Uh-huh."

His penis was no longer quite flaccid --more like an overripe banana as it landed on her forehead. It bounced lazily a few times over her face before coming to rest on her eyelid.

"You want to be good, do you?"

"Yes."

"Kiss it. Huh."

Graciela kept her eyes sealed shut and pursed her lips in anticipation of the bounty she was about to receive. The bounty, such as it was, landed with a plop on her mouth. She made a show of kissing it like a good girl would, eager and enthusiastic. Her stomach churned in disgust.

"You're very good," Chuck began, moving slightly away from her and beginning what Graciela knew was a two-minute-maximum masturbation sequence. Thank god they introduced a maximum last year, she thought, There were so many horror stories of people being stuck in validation for several hours, days even, they could take turns, it almost ruined watching movies. Not anymore. Well before even a minute was up, Chuck ejaculated all over Graciela's unresponsive body, and spent another twenty seconds or so rubbing it all in.

"You're very good, and very attractive. I like you much more than I did when you came in, Miss. I think you were older then, too." Chuck's voice was distant, disinterested, but the words filled Graciela with a sense of calm and safety. Chuck administered the standard set of three injections, making her a little fatter, a little plainer, and a lot more apathetic. "You're a very strong woman. Mark must be very proud."

Graciela smiled widely, unrestrainedly. "Thank you."

Chuck helped her up and opened the door for her, directing her to the final processing room to collect her things.

"You have a satisfying day now, Miss."

"You too."

Just before the service exit she met the elephantine attendant charged with equipping Graciela for the rest of her night. She was given a recycled pair of regulation earrings, black vinyl boots, a polyester blouse with matching trousers, and a small purse containing a pamphlet, in-ear headphones, a tiny bottle of water, and a copy of her keys.

She thanked the attendant and with her new and genuine smile stepped out the door.

"Everything set?" Mark asked as he approached her, his jacket folded neatly over his arm, his hand outstretched.

"Yep." Graciela took it, and they walked out of the lobby.

"What a great movie." "Really great."

Argentina Comicon Bombon.

December 13th, 2016

The taxi pulls away from the straight lines of the city as it approaches the riverside, newly-built spirals of asphalt leading it towards a cluster of squat concrete buildings festooned in pennants and printed plastic banners. A stoplight on red curbs our progress, but not my sense that the event to come will suck. In fact, it's strengthened by a flock of what look like misplaced midwestern soccer moms crossing the road wearing batman t-shirts and hugging giant buckets of popcorn. They swivel to look purposefully at nothing, shoveling in the pochoclo with plump hands terminating in meticulous and retina-burning manicures.

"I guess this must be it."

And it was, even if it was less of an "it" than anything else ever managed to be. But before we go in I suppose it'd only be fair to hand out a little context; there's not all that much to go around outside the temples of half-assery and sleepy congregations that make up this city. You see, everyone in Buenos Aires is an artist. They know it just as they know they're proud, and hungry, and worthy (of what? well, what've you got, and what do the neighbors have? that + 1, hoy es el dia!). It's not limited to the young, to the female, to the left, to the anything. Are there artists in Miami and/or Italy1? Yes? Does saying you're an artist cost money? No? Dale, entonces somos artistas. This being something of a worldwide delusion (although perhaps not quite to the degree), you'll be familiar with the artifacts of the fallout: unbelievably shitty murals everywhere, idem rinkydink "workshops" selling objectionable curios with reeeally long "titles", and a service industry rife with workers who don't think they should have to be there.

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So many instances of sameness, your knees'll buckle and you'll spend the rest of the day sitting on the floor in stupefaction.

Then there are results like the Argentina Comicon, which shed ...it's really an abuse of the term to call it "light", but we'll push ourselves sickeningly through; a sad little light is thrown on the mechanism at play among the "artists". They're only charged, in their minds, with convincing each other of their artistness. They've no need nor any desire to convince themselves, or to show the rest of the world who they are and what they've got. We know this, because their Comicon did not involve any artists. I don't mean they had some panel whatever which was fulla film people or something and how dare they. I mean literally the entire2 space had exactly zero instances of artists showing their work, attempting to sell it, talking to interested people, or otherwise participating. One room, let's call it the Popcorn Nexus, was where the local theatre conglomerate sold their butter flavoring buckets o' chum and you could sign up with your DNI3 to fuck with some promo-pushing gadget brought by Disney/local cable company/Sauron for thirty seconds. The other room, which I hereby dub Shuffle & Blow --no wait, that sounds like it could've been fun. Let's see...the Maze of Farts and Purchases. If you were there with me you'd be nodding your head now, I assure you. This room was nothing but tables arranged in completely disorganized rows and cul-de-sacs, naturally placed so closely together they created constant peoplejams, naturally all selling the same 5 - 10 things. You could buy: graphic novels, booklets of hentai, figurines, tshirts, or fucking katanas. No graphic novelists, no hentai inkers, no figurine painters, no tshirt designers, no katana...fuck, I'd've taken a fucking tasselknotter at that point. No artists, no "artists". Shop clerks with their shop stuff. Five to ten varieties, please ensure you stop to gawk and mill at every.single.table nevertheless.

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Deep within the Popcorn Nexus.

But soft! What light through yonder fartmaze breaks! There was an outdoor area, a doublespoken cordoned-off parkinglot, selling weenies and more popcorn, with a coupla carnival rides for kids, disco blasting. And sure, something like 1.5% of the attendance was "doing cosplay". Most of it was bought, I suspect, at the pre-comicon-con, where you purchase generic blue cotton overalls and "luigi hats" while having your esophagus mechanically widened to accept the Second and Third Comings of the Popcorn.

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The patio de gastronomia was so fuckin' opulent and luxurious I wager that truck was selling straight-up pork sausages.

"And they get away with it; if a kid from San Diego, one from Germany, a Brit, and an Argentine get together at some point and the San Diegan says 'I went to Comicon this summer', and the German and Brit chip in, 'Oh, me too!', and then the Argentine joins 'em, 'So did I! It was great!' they don't turn on him and feed the guy his beer bottle."

---

  1. Miami is to Buenos Aires what Barcelona is to Romania, which in turn is something akin to what a statue is to a pigeon. It's the mutually-agreed upon congregation spot away from the rookery, the somehow-logical destination for donating some of your filth and strutting around atop it so the other animals can see your swank. Alternatively, everyone being "Italian", it's right and good to do or be something if the thing is celebrated there. Which is how Buenos Aires ended up thinking it has great pizza despite its actual culinary preferences resulting in a sort of oil sponge decorated with julienned nonsense. []
  2. Two rooms, 2,000m2 between them, by the way. []
  3. Social security number, basically. []

Elliot and James, a Drinking Song

October 30th, 2016

Humbly offered for those moments in the adnotated manifesto when you can't even. Please observe the two-pint minimum!

Gather ye children, and harken your ears
to the tale of the virgins who lived twenty years
lacking titties and cunnies and everything nice
for the sake of your knowledge of prosaic vice.

There was Elliot Rodger, gentleman supreme
who, failing his forefathers, just couldn't seem
to say so much as "hi" to the opposite sex
and you'll understand just how much he was perplexed
by the fact that no blonde ever stopped by to flex
her sweet kegels at him in the eve-ning.

Next 'twas James who was loosely called Elliot's friend,
though he wished that their friendship played out end to end
For where Elliot finished 'twas where James began
And to Hill Top and Round House he frequently ran
to hear Elliot's vengeful and retarded plans
as he gazed upon him in the eve-ning.

Oh hai la de dadee, oh hai la de dae
Elliot's a faggot, but James is just gay
They bitch about women all night and all day,
and nobody's laid in the mor-ning.

Said young Elliot to James "Life is cruel and unfair!
for no lady that's blessed with a bountiful pair
will walk with me by moonlight while I watch 'em bounce,
and I tell you I'm scheming to pour ev-ry ounce
of this coffee on girls who refuse to pronounce
my great name 'round my cock in the eve-ning."

Countered James, "Worry not that you haven't a lass.
They don't like you, but I do; come here, make a pass
for I've never rejected a dejected rod
and I've lusted for years o'er your nice-shirted bod.
Shut your pie hole, do my hole, or I swear to God
I'll unfriend your Facebook in the eve-ning."

Oh hai la de dadee, oh hai la de dae
Elliot's a faggot, but James is just gay
They bitch about women all night and all day,
and nobody's laid in the mor-ning.

What occurred then, O children, I oughtn't to say,
Though the two call it now their "Rectibution Day".
And each year they mark it with an opulent feast
which eleven-months' long keeps them oiled and greased.
It's a mess, but it keeps them sequestered at least
from your Alpha Phi fling in the eve-ning.