Clubbed to death.
kitten   August 27, 2003

Drinking alone, with visions of you in my mind, spirals me inevitabily into depression.

That's all I have to say about that...

Whispering flashbacks.
kitten   August 26, 2003

Dunno where this is going, but it's maybe getting incorporated into this and more specifically this at some point, albeit not quite in this form.

If I ever figure out what I'm doing, that is. Which is unlikely.

This just sort of came out, and I think it shows - I'm clearly trying to introduce too much worldview and information at once, in far too an offhand manner, and it doesn't quite work. In theory, were I to integrate this with the plotline (such as it is) of the aforementioned ("Assassin Chick"), the little quirky elements of technology and society would come out as it unfolds, in a sane and logical sort of fashion, instead of being all crammed in where it doesn't belong.

Actually I had started this particular bit of garbage about two years ago, and managed less than half of what I've got here. Tonight I just wiped the whole thing and started over. This was the result.

At any rate.

. . . . .

Her hair is copper and she scribbles on her placemat with a green crayon that matches her eyes.

She does not look happy.

Choi Lancet had been watching her for well over half an hour now, bothered by the notion that he recognizes her from somewhere. He knows he doesn't actually know her; it's the recognition one might have for a person encountered at a party, whose name is barely remembered, but whose face somehow stands out from a dozen other faces of strangers when seen a week later.

It's annoying him no end.

She continues to trace small circles of green wax on her placemat as the waitress refills her coffee cup.

Choi thinks - not that anybody solicited his opinion on the matter - that she's already had quite enough caffiene, this being her third cup in the time he's been observing her; she looks nervous and exhausted as it is. Darkened eyelids and a weary expression, broken only by moments when she gnaws briefly on her bottom lip, seem to indicate that she hasn't had much sleep as of late.

Or perhaps, thinks Choi, as he sips from his own coffee, she's crashing. He'd heard that habitual use of blanked visps can really fry your mind, make you nervous and paranoid. Not that he'd know firsthand. Choi has no use for perception-altering devices, be they chemical or digital in nature, although he will allow himself a drink now and then, depending on who's buying.

She stops coloring on her placemat and taps on the tabletop with no particular rhythm, crayon still clutched in her fist, as her eyes ping to the door, which has just admitted a sharp-faced gentleman in a dark suit. He, too, looks vaguely familiar to Choi, and looks about as happy as the copper-haired woman at the table he's now approaching.

Choi peers over the ceramic edge of his coffee cup as the man sits across from her, and they exchange a dialogue in measured, hushed tones. He can't really hear what they're saying, but from the general rhythm of the conversation, Choi thinks this is not exactly a social get-together.

Damn. Now he knows. This couple made headlines in the newspaper a few weeks ago, and have generated some interest in the media since - nothing major since the first few days of their fiasco, since the fission riots began dominating the media feeds - but enough that their faces edged into the back of his memory, to be pulled forth and grind at him now.

At least, he thinks that's who they are. He doesn't have any two-week old newspapers nearby - not that he'd be carrying around pressed tree carcasses like a Neanderthal anyway - but that's not a problem: this is the digital age, isn't it? He flips open his computer, pressing his thumb to a small black panel on the side that rezes his fingerprint for identification, and revives it from idle. It takes a few seconds to establish his link to the net - he should probably run a diagnostic on his packet uplink later, find out what the damn hold-up is - and he scrolls his way through the archives on an arbitrary news feed, figures it doesn't really matter which one.

Click. Oh yeah, there it is.

A small amount of plasma, precisely controlled by variant superconducted EM fields, imperceptibly swirls around beneath the surface of the screen, locks into the appropriate places.

Choi doesn't actually see that, of course; what he sees is the plasma as a whole, a unified and organized structure reacting with the plastic of the display, manifesting itself as the headlines and text and images of the site he's looking at. There's a headshot of the woman, looking more or less the same as she does now sitting at her table, beneath the headline.

LOS ANGELES CHILD MISSING
3-week-old infant 'vanished into thin air', police baffled
The caption beneath her picture informs all who care to know that this woman is the mother of the lost child. Choi can't really blame them for looking tired and upset and strung-out. A few years ago, losing a child would have been horrifying enough; today, with each new baby being electronically tagged and indexed, it should be impossible. Yet there it is.

Choi glances up from the article and regards her once more. He assumes the man is speaking, though his back is turned to Choi, but the woman does not look as though she likes what she's hearing. At all.

She's biting her lip again, and the crayon snaps in her fist. She and the dark-suited man stand up simultaneously, and he drapes his arm around her shoulder as they exit the cafe through the airlock-style door.

Choi blinks, and for reasons he's not entirely sure of, puts his computer back into his attache case, stands, and follows them out the door into the night. This neighborhood is upscale enough that all the concrete has been replaced with that gritty plastic neocrete, the kind comes in rolls, always stays dry. It flexes slightly beneath his boots as he shadows ten yards behind them, beneath halogen streetlights cunningly disguised as trees.

Choi was a lost child himself, once. And now, an up and coming twentysomething, he knows he has every intention of staying that way.

Contributing to deliquency.

Because I'm feeling antisocial, and because I've been asked to share these tricks, I've decided it's time to offer a brief lecture on the art of vehicle vengeance.

We've all heard the usual tricks before, but most of them are either petty and stupid (keying the victim's car) or too much hassle (thermite through the engine block).

I'm here to tell you the right way of doing it - and not just the means, but the methods. Sit back, and buckle up.

In vandalizing a car for the purposes of revenge - or for any purpose, really - the key is to be subtle. I don't mean subtle like a mushroom cloud over Manhatten, and I don't mean subtle like a jackhammer. I don't mean subtle like England's M25 expressway and I don't mean subtle like two terrorists brawling in the street.

I mean subtle. Your goal is to cause the maximum aggrevation and headache to your hapless target, while simultaneously causing the minimal actual damage.

A good starting point is a twist on the ol' sugar-in-the-gas-tank manuveuer. Most people have heard that putting sugar in the gas tank of a car seriously screws up the injectors and the engine.

To be honest, I don't know if that's true. But people believe it is true, and you can leverage this bit of folklore to your advantage.

Take a large bag of sugar, and empty most of it. Dump the remainder on the ground beneath your target's gas tank, and leave the gas cap conspicuously on the hood of the car with the empty sugar bag underneath (alternatively, you can leave the sugar bag "accidently" caught on a nearby bush or rock where it is sure to be seen).

Your victim wanders out, takes one look, and assumes that someone poured sugar in the gas tank.

What does he do? Drive and hope for the best, all the while waiting for that horrible sound of the engine dying? Not likely! The only other option is to have the car towed, have the gas tank flushed and cleaned, and replaced with new gas. This is ridiculously expensive, time-consuming, will make them late to whatever appointment or employment they have, and the best part is, no actual damage was done. You barely touched the car.

Take a toy whistle and superglue it to the underside of the car where it is hard to see, but still remains in the air flow. Now, when the victim drives, the car makes a horrible whistling sound, but the sound mysteriously vanishes when the car is stopped and can actually be examined. A mechanic may or may not even think to look for such a thing, but even so, it will take time, money, and hassle - and again, you didn't damage the car.

Those are your two best alternatives, because they are essentially zero-damage pranks, but they cause major headaches, expense, and time for the victim.

Now, if you want to get more vicious, there are other options.

Take some pepper spray, and spray it on the door handle that your target has to touch to open the car door. Since you're doing this in the middle of the night, then by the time she actually opens the door and gets in the car, the spray will have lost much of it's potency, but it will still be enough - hopefully - to cause some significant pain, possibly a rash. Definitely something for her to worry about, and she'll have no idea what's causing it. If she touches her nose or eyes with that hand, even more pain and discomfort. And there's no real way to trace it back to you or anyone else - the victim is unlikely to even suspect they're being attacked. "Hm, my eyes seem to itch - I bet somebody pepper sprayed my car door!"

If your victim ever leaves their window cracked, take a water pistol with you, full of vinegar, and spray it into the car. The stench will be overpowering and noxious, as I hardly need to point out.

Take a small pocket knife with you. Use it to get the tag off the license plate. (For those of you who don't know - the tag is the sticker that says the year that the registration is valid). This will not be noticed by the target or anyone else, really, but it's like putting a sign on your car that says PLEASE PULL ME OVER - and nobody will know until it's too late.

Remove a hubcap and put a dead fish inside. I don't think I need to emphasize the odiforous stench that will arise from this, and of course it has the added advantage of attracting multitudes of insects to crawl all over the car. While you're at it, remove another hubcap and put a few small pebbles inside, which will cause a horrid rattling noise while the car is in motion, which cannot be easily identified.

These are small but highly effective tactics that don't cause much actual damage to the car.

Again I remind you of the importance of being subtle - to cause the maximum annoyance and hassle and time and money to the victim with the mininum damage you can get away with. You do not want to do something that they can immediately see. If your target comes out in the morning, takes one look at the car and screams "What the hell?!" then you have not been subtle.

However. If you want to get really vicious..

Home Depot and similar stores sell something called, oddly enough, Great Stuff, an expanding foam resin that comes in a can. When you spray it, it comes out as this sort of yellow foam, and then it expands and hardens rock-solid. It's used for filling cracks in insulation and so forth. And it comes out of the can through a nice long tube.

Stick the tube as far up the exhaust pipe as you can, and then spray the foam. It will get into the muffler and the exhaust pipe itself, expand, and harden. The backpressure will not allow the car to start, and it will have to be towed. The muffler will have to be removed and replaced, and those are not cheap. At all.

Bring a jack with you. Remove one of the wheels. If you think slashing the tires is bad, try replacing a whole wheel. Obviously, don't leave the wheel there - take it with you and ditch it somewhere.

Pour some rubbing alcohol on the hood of the car, and set it ablaze. This will cause serious damage to most car paint.

There's plenty more, but I think I've given you enough tips.

Go at night, and go with a friend. And by "at night" I mean 2 or 3 in the morning. Dress in black - all black. Have your plan ready before you actually go. When you go, park the car a little ways up the street - you want to be able to run to it quickly, but you also don't want it parked where they can get a good look out their window. Park the car in a position so that you don't have to turn around or anything - you want to be able to get in, turn the key, hit the gas, and get the fuck out of there.

One of you can do the dirty work while the other acts as lookout. Or, one of you can stay in the car, ready to get the hell out of there, while the other does the fun stuff. It depends on the situation - drive by the house a few nights in advance to get a feel for the location and layout of the neighborhood. Plan the route you're going to take when you leave in advance. Put your hair up and try to make yourself look as average as possible. In fact, wear a hat. And wear something brightly colored underneath the black - so as soon as you're out of there, you can take off your black shirt and have something totally different underneath. Make yourself look as nondescript as you possibly can.

If at all possible, use a car that isn't yours. You don't want them seeing it, even vaguely. If a friend of yours has a car, and you're sure that your victim doesn't know that friend or the car, use that.

Have fun. Don't get caught.

For Queen and country, James.
kitten   August 25, 2003

All things considered, 007 movies are pretty low on the intellectual level. Sure, there's lots of things blowing up, but you can get that in any one of a thousand other movies, so the sheer testosterone factor doesn't quite account for the stamina of the Bond franchise.

The thing about James Bond is, every man wants to be like him. That, more than anything, is the driving force behind the series and what has kept it going for over forty years and counting.

Mentioned to Bryan that I was watching Tomorrow Never Dies and how great Bond movies are, and he replied

[bda] You like those movies because that's what you want your life to be.
[bda] You dress well, you want a hot lady, you like blowing things up, and you try real hard at the one-liners.
While this is all very true (barring the one-liners), it's hardly unique. Naturally we got into a bit of an argument about this, just for a change.

Yes, Bond movies are dumb, but they deliver exactly what you expect them to deliver: Hot women, nice suits, cool gadgets, fast cars, and lots of explosions - and whether or not they'll admit it outright, it's the dream of every man to be good-looking, blow stuff up with exotic weapons, deliver one-liners in the middle of firefights, and have women throwing themselves at him, all while wearing the most fashionable of attire.

Also, sipping martinis, which I do as well.

But the point is that Bond has remained popular for four decades precisely because he embodies what virtually every male across the globe wants to be. Bond is a man of action, and a man of leisure.

And anyone who says otherwise is a goddamned liar.

Deep in the heart of Tokyo.
kitten   August 21, 2003

There are some out there who consider me a writer.

I am not one of them.

Going through old emails and various other archives last night, as I have been known to do from time to time. My inbox is an archive in and of itself - over nine hundred emails, dating back to January 2001. I rarely delete mail, so it's become something of a digital memory lane.

Many of them are from people who wanted to share their thoughts on something I'd written here. These missives take many forms - some are long, drawn-out narratives, others are simple compliments. Some of these people, I've kept in touch with, and some dispatched their communiques and vanished into the electronic ether.

Similar things have been known to happen in meatspace. Someone mentions that they saw my car, followed the white rabbit, and liked what they saw. Someone liked my story about this or my rant about that. Someone comes up with a 2am idea at the coffee shop and asks if I'll put it to words for them. I tell them I don't think I can.

You're the writer, they'll say. So write.

Someone introduces me to another and eventually informs them that I'm "a writer".

That so? they ask. What do you write?

What do I write, indeed? Some weeping, self-serving drivel about lost love. Some vignettes that maybe had potential but never went anywhere. Some stories where Bryan dies. All catalogued in a quick index by month and ribbed for your pleasure.

What do you write? they ask, now that I've been put on the spot, and these people, I haven't got an answer for them.

As far as I'm concerned, I am not a writer.

Writers have ideas. Writers make you think, make you feel. Writers set a mood. Writers, with their words like music and frustration. Gibson is a writer. Murakami is a writer. Millions of others are writers.

I am not. I have no ideas. I have nothing to share, scratching, waiting to get out, like others do.

You're a writer, they say anyway.

Sometimes I wonder what these people see that I don't.

Goodbye, Mr Anderson.
kitten   August 15, 2003

It's becoming increasingly obvious that I need something to do with my time.

You have been warned.

Matrix: Reworded

THE MATRIX:
A HAIKU INTERPRETAION BY KITTEN


EXT. HEART O' THE CITY HOTEL


Police cruisers flash
Sirens lighting up the night
Black sedan pulls up


    SMITH
    Lieutenant, I gave
    Specific orders to you
    Which you have ignored.


    COP
    I'm doing my job.
    Don't give me "jurisdiction".
    Cram it up your ass.


    I sent two units
    They are bringing her down now
    Everything is fine.


    SMITH
    Lieutenant, your men
    Are almost assuredly
    Already dead now.


CUT TO:
INT. HOTEL


Woman in vinyl
At a computer she sits
Police barrel in


    OFFICER
    Hands on your head now!
    Don't you think about moving
    Or we will shoot you.


In the air she floats
Twisting, cat-like, a kick
Cops fall to the ground


    TRINITY
    Morpheus?  Sorry,
    The line was tapped and I'm stuck.
    What do I do now?


    MORPHEUS (VO)
    They cut the hard line.
    You must focus, Trinity.
    Go to the exit.


    TRINITY
    Will there be agents?
    They are going to kill me
    I cannot make it.


    MORPHEUS (VO)
    There is an exit
    Close to the northern tower
    You can make it.  Go.


EXT. HOTEL


Running and sprinting
Trinity dives from the roof
The Agent gives chase


EXT. STREET AT NIGHT


A phone booth ahead
The loud screeching of tires
Crushed steel and glass


The Agents, too late
Step out into the wreckage
Discuss their next move


    JONES
    Damn!  She got away
    This always seems to happen
    I hate those humans.


    SMITH
    It does not matter.
    We know the next target's name
    The informant told.


    We will need to search
    We'll start as soon as we can
    Before they get him.


    BLACK
    His name is Neo.
    We have already begun
    The long search for him.


DISSOLVE TO:
INT. NEO'S APARTMENT


Cables and routers
A man searches for answers
A black display screen


    NEO
    What the hell is this?
    Always crashing or freezing
    Goddamn Microsoft.


    SCREEN
    Please wake up, Neo
    And follow the white rabbit
    The Matrix has you.


Neo considers
Tension in the room is high
A knock at the door


    NEO
    Who the hell is there   
    Now, at this ungodly time
    This is a bit weird.


Cautious by nature
He halfway opens the door
His visitor waits


    NEO
    You're two hours late.
    What the hell are you doing?
    Can't you be on time?


    CHOI
    I know I am late.
    It's all her fault.  Damn women!
    Here's the two thousand.


Money changes hands
A hidden black minidisc
A dire warning


    NEO
    Choi, you remember
    That if you're caught using that
    This never happened.


    CHOI
    I know, yes, I know.
    This did not ever happen
    And I don't know you.


    Is something wrong, man?
    You look whiter than normal.
    Maybe you need rest.

    NEO
    My computer, it's..
    You ever think you're still dreaming
    After you wake up?


    CHOI
    All the time, my man.
     Mescaline is the only
    Way that you should fly.


    You need to relax.
    Maybe you could come with us?
    What do you say, man?


A silenced protest
White rabbit on her shoulder
Instructions compel


    NEO
    Yeah, sure, I will go.
    Even though these fetish clubs
    Aren't really my scene.


INT. NIGHTCLUB


Neo stands alone
Still out of his element
Woman approaches


    TRINITY
    Hello there, Neo.
    I know a lot about you.
    I am Trinity.


    NEO
    I can't believe it.
    You hacked the IRS base?
    Thought you were a guy!


    TRINITY
    Most guys do, Neo.
    Please just listen to me now.
    I have news for you.


    They are watching you.
    Every minute and hour
    They know where you are.


    The question drives us.
    You know what question that is.
    Now find the answer.


    NEO
    What is the Matrix?
    I really don't have a clue
    What is going on.


CUT TO:
INT. NEO'S APARTMENT


Piercing alarm buzz
A hand, in motion, kills it
And panic ensues


    NEO
    Shit!  Goddammit all!
    I'm late for work, as always
    Now I'll get bitched at!


INT. OFFICE


In his suit, humbled
A boss fed up with lateness
A window is cleaned


    BOSS
    You have a problem.
    You think that you are special.
    You are mistaken.


    I am sick of this.
    You are always late, Thomas.
    Be on time or else.


INT. CUBICLE


Bored out of his mind
He sits, pretending to work
A package arrives


    FED EX MAN
    You're Anderson, right?
    I have a package for you.
    Here you go.  Sign here.


Package authorized
A ringing phone tumbles out
Wary, he answers


    MORPHEUS (VO)
    Hello there, Neo.
    Do you have any idea
    Who you're talking to?


    NEO
    Is this Morpheus?
    I have been looking for you.
    What is going on?


    MORPHEUS (VO)
    They're coming for you
    And I don't know what they'll do
    If they get to you.


Peers over the wall
Dark suits and black sunglasses
Trouble is afoot


    MORPHEUS (VO)
    I can help you, but
    You must do what I tell you.
    Run across the hall.


A flight down the hall
Empty offices, locked doors
Short and ragged breath


    NEO
    Done and done.  Now what?
    And how do you know all this?
    I'm really confused.


    MORPHEUS
    No time to explain.
    Climb the scaffold outside, and
    Go up to the roof.


Click of a dead line
Out the window, on the ledge
Gravity meets phone


    NEO
    No way! This is nuts!
    Why should this happen to me?
    I am nobody!


CUT TO:
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING


Covert black leather
Trinity on her cycle
Curses the bad choice


    TRINITY
    Goddammit to hell.
    I knew he wouldn't listen.
    Now he's in deep shit!


DISSOLVE TO:
INT. INTERROGATION ROOM


Agents enter room
Take up flanking formation
Smith faces Neo


    SMITH
    Mister Anderson,
    We've been watching you closely.
    Seems you live two lives.


    In one life you are
    Thomas A. Anderson, and
    You pay your taxes


    You have a good job
    With a fine company
    And - wait, what is this?


    Hmm, how very odd.
    And you help your landlady
    Take out the garbage.


    In your other life
    You're a hacker named Neo.
    You always break laws.


    There's one life you have
    That has a future, and one
    That does not, Anderson.


    We want to help you.
    We know you've talked to a man
    Who's called Morpheus.


    We will wipe the slate.
    We can give you a fresh start.
    But you must help us.


    NEO
    Well, yeah, that sounds good
    But I've got my own idea.
    You're so full of crap


    So how about this?:
    I will give you the finger
    And then use the phone.


Sigh of great disdain
Darkened sunglasses back on
Smith is not amused


    SMITH
    Mister Anderson
    You disappoint me greatly.
    I thought you were wise.


    NEO
    You cannot scare me
    With all this Gestapo crap.
    I want my phone call!


    SMITH
    Tell me, Anderson,
    How will a phone call help you
    If you cannot speak?


Organic metal
Twisting, morphing, and crawling
Neo's mouth glued shut


    NEO
    Mmm mmf!  Mmf mmm mfm!
    mmm, mmm! Mmph mmf mmph mm Mmm!
    Mmf mmmph mm mmp mm!


    SMITH
    You're going to help
    Whether or not you like it.
    You cannot stop us.


CUT TO:
INT. NEO'S APARTMENT


Was it all a dream?
Phone ringing; he awakens
Doesn't say hello


    MORPHEUS (VO)
    I must be brief, for
    Your line is probably tapped.
    Do you want to meet?


    Then go to the bridge
    And wait outside in the rain.
    I will send a car.


EXT. UNDER BRIDGE


Rain sluices down
Silouetted by the light
A car approaches


INT. CAR


New people with guns
Annie Lennox all business
No uncertain terms


    SWITCH
    Take off your shirt.  Now.
    We don't have time for questions.
    It's our way, or else.


    NEO
    Well, forget all this!
    I'll take my chances elsewhere
    Cause I'm a bigshot.


    TRINITY
    Neo, please listen.
    Just do as she says, okay?
    It's all for the best.


    NEO
    Fine, but only cause
    You're wearing kinky vinyl
    Which I really dig.


    TRINITY
    We think you are bugged.
    Besides which, this machine here
    Just looks really cool.


Extraction machine
X-ray vision on the screen
Bug out the window


    NEO
    Oh my fucking god!
    You mean that wasn't a dream?
    It's really real?!


INT. BUILDING


Spiralling staircase
Towering eight floors above
A final large door


    TRINITY
    You must be honest.
    He knows things you can't predict
    So don't try to lie.


Door swinging open
Trencoated man and lightning
Very dramatic


    MORPHEUS
    At last, we now meet.
    I am Morpheus, but you
    Already knew that.


    NEO
    It's a great honor
    To finally meet you, sir.
    I've been waiting long.


Chairs and a table
Facing each other, they sit
The answers coming


    MORPHEUS
    So.  You're here because
    You know something important
    That you can't explain.


    I will explain it.
    The Matrix is all around.
    Even in this room.


    You can feel it
    When you go to work or church.
    Even when you sleep.


    You're a slave, Neo.
    In a jail you can't see
    Can't smell and can't touch.


    Unfortunately
    You can't be told what it is.
    You have to see it.


In his hands, two pills
Red and blue, they are offered
A final warning


    MORPHEUS
    This is your last chance.
    You can take the red or blue.
    These are your choices.


    Take the blue pill, and
    You will forget what happened.
    You'll live as you have.


    Take the red pill, and
    You will come with me. I can
    Show you the Matrix.


    Remember, Neo
    I'm only offering truth
    Nothing more than that.


Neo hesitates
And considers his options
There are not many


    MORPHEUS
    Remember, Neo
    I am only offering
    The truth.  Nothing more.


Did I say many
I really meant only one
Neo makes his choice


    MORPHEUS:
    The pill that you took
    Was part of a trace program.
    We'll find you with it.


INT. LAB
Discarded rotaries
Merged with futuristic tech
A warping mirror


    MORPHEUS
    Tank!  Are you with me?
    We need a signal right now!
    Hurry!  Track him down!


DISSOLVE TO:
INT. POWER PLANT


Rows and endless rows
Human bodies tombed in tubes
Paradigm shifting


Sentry guard robot
Dispatched to the scene quickly
Expels human waste


Floating in a sea
Bright lights descend from above
A lifeline lowered


FADE TO:
INT. HOVERCRAFT


Blurred, confused vision
Unknown faces smearing past
A voice in the dark


    MORPHEUS
    Ah, welcome, Neo
    To this, the real world.
    The answers will come.


So endeth part one
To be continued, await
The next installment

Oi to the punks and oi to the world!
kitten   August 11, 2003

Tired of your own style? Originality and creativity got you down? Want to rebel against society in a conformist sort of way? You've thought about "going punk" but just can't seem to figure out where to start?

Fear not, troubled one. In a few easy steps, kitten can teach you all you need to know about being totally punk.

STEP ONE : CLOTHES

The first thing you want to do is select the appropriate attire. You're looking for something that proclaims to the world at large: "I don't care!" Ripped, faded, or torn jeans are an excellent choice to begin with - check your local thrift store. It's unlikely you'll find anything that fits you well, but you're not punk because you care about fashion, now are you?

T-shirts are a good choice if you can find one that has tour listings of the Dead Kennedys or the Sex Pistols - but be careful not to wash it too often. You may also wish to get a shirt with a cleverly antisocial phrase on it, such as "Runs With Scissors" or "I Smile Because You've Driven Me Insane". Remember, in choosing these types of tops, your goal is to find something that stands as mute testament to your individuality and nonconformity.

Barring that, a thrift-store shirt displaying the name of a high school team you've never heard of is good, or perhaps a whimsical-yet-edgy shirt featuring an old cartoon character. Even a basic undershirt from Hanes will do nicely - you can top it off with a hoodie or denim vest (frayed at the edges) for that extra rebellious chic. Festoon your attire brightly with dozens upon dozens of sew-on patches and pins bearing the logo of your favorite band - everyone wants to know, and you'll be respected for being a devout follower of non-mainstream music groups, unlike the bourgeois pop-music listeners, the pathetically trendy twits. Make sure you don't sew those patches on with any real grace, though - it should appear as though it's about to fall off at any given moment. If you can't sew at all, just use safety pins - the rugged-yet-haphazard look will do well.

For shoes, something ironic like Chuck Taylors or Vans are a wise decision - something ugly and absurd, so you can show the world that you don't care about such petty details. "Skate" shoes are another option - the types that are completely flat on the bottom, or some combat boots. When buying combat boots, remember that you don't want anything functional - steel plating is a no-no.

Piercings are unique and everyone knows it. If it dangles, put a hole in it, unless your parents won't let you. Anything goes, but stuff with skulls is always preferable.

If your attire would make anyone over the age of twenty-two roll their eyes at you, you've done well. Essentially, your goal in clothing choice is to look as ridiculous as you can possibly get away with without violating decency laws in your area - this way, you can complain loudly and often that people don't take you seriously and how uptight everyone seems to be for not just accepting your unique, individual style.

STEP TWO : MUSIC

Punk music is all about fighting against stagnant culture. If you don't quite know what this means, but think it sounds good, then great! Nobody else knows what it means either, but by repeating this loudly and often, you'll get respect from others for not falling into the trap of crass commercialism and mass marketing. Nobody will admit to not having the slightest clue what you're talking about, for fear of being labelled poseurs, so don't worry.

When choosing bands you like, there are some old standbys. The Ramones and the Sex Pistols, despite not having done anything significant for the past twenty five years, are totally punk. But you can't rely entirely on these - you're going to have to choose others as well. In general, anything that people have probably heard of but can't tell you anything about is a safe choice, and bonus points are assigned if the band includes the word "dead" somewhere in their name.

Most of today's so-called "punk" bands aren't - and you need to ensure that you testify to this as frequently as possible. This is key when learning which bands to like and which to "diss" - the Ataris and Rancid are safe bets, MXPX is borderline, and anyone who likes Green Day is just a poseur. If in doubt, consult this page and select some bands at random from the left-hand list. Bands with ironically dorky names like "The Queers" or "Travoltas" are double-plus good.

For the extra punk touch, obscure "indy" bands just can't be beat. Proclaim your devotion to indy music at every possible opportunity, scorning anything that isn't just a coupla guys rockin' the fuck out with really fast guitars in a rinky-dink, third-rate venue somewhere. These guys are the stuff that punk is made of - they are progressive radicals who truly take that stagnant culture and rip it inside out to expose the soft underbelly of mainstream corporate hell. You betcha.

STEP THREE : ATTITUDE

Repeat this to yourself as often as necessary to make yourself believe it: Punk is not music, it is attitude.

To be truly punk, you have to give off the impression that you couldn't give a flying rat's ass what society thinks - you're doing your own thing, and if someone doesn't like it, well, they can cram it with walnuts. It matters not that you actually crave acceptance to some degree and are really fed up with being disdained by people who actually accomplish something with their lives - you want others to think you don't care, even though you do. As a punk, you are totally in-your-face.

Your clothes, as we have discussed, go a long way towards cultivating this impression. By looking as grungy and ridiculous as you can, you're shoving your individualism in people's faces, forcing them to understand your stance on life. As noted, if they judge you based on the way you're dressed, they're just a bunch of uptight, closed-minded assholes.

But there's more to it. Take this guy for example. Notice the sneer of contempt he holds to the photographer (who has labelled him "nasty punk on bus"). This guy clearly doesn't give a rip what people think - he's totally punk, and it shows. This is the attitude you want to beam out at all times. Sure, he looks ridiculous, and few people will take anything he says or does seriously, but you know what? Screw you, that's what.

Choose an outrageous haircut that exemplifies this and defies society's norms - shave your head, or shave part of it. Apply bleach or hair dye liberally - the more stupid, the better. Don't be concerned if others think you look like a freaking retard, and don't wash it too often either - you're far too busy being punk to pay attention to such matters as hygiene or presentability. Carry yourself with a slouching, vaguely haughty air - you're punk, and therefore above anyone else who isn't.

At the same time, you don't want to overdo it. If questioned - or even if you aren't - make sure to expound at nauseating length about what an accepting person you are, completely uncritical of anyone. "I mean, whatever," is an excellent way to sum up your views - people can do whatever they want and you frankly don't care. After all, you're demanding that people accept your choices uncritically, and therefore you should return the favor in kind, even if others don't.

However, you are treading a fine line here. On the one hand, you want to rebel against stagnant culture and fight all that is deadening in society, and this means acting like a jackass whenever possible, no matter how juvenile and immature. On the other hand, you want everyone to know that you won't judge them, and have no beef with anyone's choices but your own. Therefore, reserve your disdain in some cases, but gripe often in other cases. What those cases are, I cannot say - only those who are truly punk will understand.

However, as a general guideline, here is a helpful index:

THINGS TO CARE ABOUT:


  • Stagnant culture.
  • Accepting others for who they are, unless they're just poseurs.
  • Accepting others' opinions as being perfectly valid, unless they're of the opinion that you're an idiot, in which case they suck.
  • Indy music, as long as the band doesn't become a total sell-out.
  • Anything you can label as "old school".

THINGS TO NOT CARE ABOUT:


  • What anyone else thinks about you, no matter how valid. Fuck 'em.
  • Pretty much everything else.

Whtaever you do, don't be too articulate about it - forming coherent sentences may give the undesired impression that you care about what others think of your presentation. When in doubt, integrate the phrase "fuckin' whatever" into your speech.

It's okay if you can't explain your opinions to anyone because you really have no idea why you hold those opinions. Keep a few catchphrases in your linguistic stockpile and apply them as necessary - you can use vapid yet deep-sounding platitudes to bluff your way through any interrogation by some fascist prick who can't mind his own damned business.

STEP FOUR: HANGING OUT

Literally, this is what you do: You hang out. Do not, under any circumstances, actually do anything. You just kind of, well, hang out somewhere, smoke a lot, drive around with a bunch of your punk buddies, come back to the place you were hanging out, and continue to hang out.

Starbucks is a prime choice to hang out - but don't buy anything, unless you want to be a part of the corporate machine. The only exception to this rule is if the staff - or a cop - demands that you either buy something or leave, at which point you should get something cheap, while loudly whining that the local independant coffee shop down the street is way better, and you don't even know why you come to this place.

This does not apply specifically to Starbucks - this should become your modus operandus wherever you happen to find yourself. You're there, you're punk, but you're not actually doing much of anything other than throwing your cigarettes on the ground and getting in people's way. Make sure you look vaguely annoyed with the general goings-on in the vicinity, and constantly harrass your friends to tell them "let's go do something", but never actually do - the impression you want to establish is that of an impending event, and that you're just killing idle time until it occurs. A well-known trick is to check your cellphone every couple minutes as though you're waiting for a vitally important call, or checking how much more time you have to waste at this loser joint. Alternatively, pester your friends constantly for updates on every little nuance, as though something big is going down.

STEP FIVE : TRANSPORTATION

In general, anything goes as far as transportation - skateboards, bicycles, cars, or damn near anything else. You do want to avoid rollerblades, and with any mode of transportation, there are specific rules to follow. We'll focus primarily on your car.

First, don't choose anything "yuppie" - this means anything less than ten years old. You want it to look its age if at all possible. Basically, any beater you can get your hands on for under two grand will do nicely.

Next, fill it with garbage. This is absolutely key in establishing your couldn't-care-less view - again, you are far too busy living life to worry about the metric ton of garbage in your car that is threatening to undergo gravitational collapse and become a black hole.

Third, and perhaps most importantly: Stickers. Lots of stickers. Anyone looking at your car should immediately understand that you don't care about your car, or what it looks like, and they should also get an instant understanding of what bands you like. Slap those bumper stickers on everywhere you can - the more, the better, even if it means obscuring the rear window to the point where you can't tell if anyone is behind you. This guy has the general idea, although he doesn't quite have enough stickers. This is more what you're going for (but not with that car).

Choose your stickers well. Anything that lets people know what bands you like are good. Any sticker that is so obscure that nobody will have any idea what it is or what it means - including you - is also good. Anything that's a clever send-up of other popular bumper stickers is good (e.g., "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student"). Anything designed to annoy the middle-class majority is good. To confuse people, throw in a few environmentalist stickers while you're at it.

With all these stickers, you'll be a cop magnent, but that's okay - getting pulled over more often than you really deserve, on the basis that you look like a hooligan, is worth it. For that added bit of punk flare, adorn your car with random trinkets: stick an old fast-food drink cup on your antenna, jam a tennis ball on the trailer hitch, have random bits of fabric hanging out of the trunk. Be creative, but be obnoxious - show the world that you don't take material things like cars seriously, because you have loftier concerns, like the stagnation of popular culture, and stuff.

WRAPPING IT UP

Well, there you have it. Follow these simple steps and cultivate your inner rebel, and you'll be well on your way to being a real punk, proudly announcing your disdain for social conformity in a nice, mostly-socially-acceptable fashion. Dress like an idiot, listen to really fast power chord music, act like a jackass, and above all, pretend you don't care about what anyone thinks. You're the man now, dog!

Now go do the right thing.
kitten   August 7, 2003

I made the mistake of listening to Dr Laura on the radio the other day. It's a mistake that, I'm sorry to say, I make quite often - not Dr Laura specifically, but conservative, brain-dead wastes of covalent electrons blithering their near-endless amounts of stupidity over the airwaves. It's something to kill the time while sitting in traffic, at least, and gives me something to bitch about. From Sean Hannity to Dr Laura, Rush Limbaugh to Glen Beck, there's always some blowhard halfwit to get annoyed with.

At any rate. So there's Dr Laura, taking yet another one of her utterly naive callers who can't tie their own shoelaces without being told it's "moral" to do so. The caller in question was a college student, and Dr Laura began demanding to know what the girl was studying.

The girl says, law.

What kind of law?

Criminal defense, says the girl.

At which point Dr Laura begins harrassing the girl about her poor choice of careers. "So you want to let criminals go free?" demands the good doctor.

"Well, it's not that-" begins the girl.

"That's what defense attorneys do, isn't it? Why do you want to be one of those?"

"Well, I like to help people, and-"

"Help guilty people, you mean?"

This continued for a good two or three minutes, and I wouldn't be mentioning it here except for the fact that it seems most people have this view of criminal defense attorneys - they exist only to let the bad guys win, defending people they know are guilty.

It absolutely sickens me.

Leaving aside the absolutely idiotic notion that an accused person is automatically guilty, the role of a criminal defense attorney is not, nor has it ever been, to let criminals get away without consequences. The role of a defense attorney is to ensure that the government plays by the rules.

The government has the power - by use of force - to take away your life, liberty, or property. There's only one thing standing in their way: the law. And there's only one thing to ensure that the government obeys the law: defense attorneys.

A defense attorney is not in court arguing that the accused should go free. He is there to make sure that the prosecution fulfills it's obligation to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused man is actually guilty.

I've heard people ask how a lawyer can, in good concious, defend someone they know is guilty. Again, the job of a defense lawyer is not to say "My client is not guilty" - his job is to make sure the state can actually prove that the accused is guilty. While he's up there arguing for someone who probably did commit a crime, he's paving the road - the respect for the rules - that ensure that the next guy gets a fair trial, cause the next guy might be innocent.

It's called "due process", people, and defense attorneys are the only ones making sure it's adhered to. Without them, the state could trample all over the citizens for a mere accusation - depriving you of life, liberty, and property, without the recourse of due process of law.

Think about it.

Give three cheers, and one cheer more.
kitten   August 2, 2003

Be it understood that the reason I'm still awake is because when I lie down, all I can hear are songs from The HMS Pinafore.

Hardly ideal quiet shh sleepytime music.

In the midnight hour.
kitten   August 1, 2003

You aren't here anymore - haven't been, for a long time. Sometimes, though, I come across things, things you've left behind, even unintentionally. A strand of hair, a necklace fallen behind the nightstand. A hairbrush, or a note, scrawled on the back of an index card.

Mostly you were here at night. Days, the sun, those were for places other than here: long drives, faraway towns, the life of the open road. I always felt out of place, in a way, but I've come to appreciate what you saw in four lanes of asphalt.

Nights, though, in the glow of a donut shop outside or a lava light inside - that was my element, and nights, you were here with me. Brushing your hair, or rifling my collection of songs, to find something to dance to. Your hair was always a mess all over the bed.

Sometimes, while you slept, I would tell you things, the things I couldn't tell you face to face, because you wouldn't let me.

You aren't here anymore - haven't been, for a long time. But I still whisper to you while you sleep, and you no more hear my midnight confessions now, than you did then.