Doctor Who: The World’s First Transhuman

November 23 is the 50th anniversary of the British TV show Doctor Who, and like all good connoisseur of Science Fiction, I am a huge Doctor Who fan.  I’ve been into the show ever since the reboot in 2005.  The Sci-Fi channel – back when it was spelled like that – got a hold of it and started playing it after the second season of Battlestar Galactica.  It had aliens, time travel, and comedy.  I was hooked, and so is the rest of US based sci-fi nerds.

But this wasn’t the first time Doctor Who had tried to make it in America.  In 1996, Fox tried to bring back the show with a TV movie.  This was going to function as a back door pilot.  While that may sound a little dirty, what it actually means is a made for TV movie that – if it gets enough ratings – it will get picked up to series.  This was actually how the Battlestar Galactica remake go turned into a series.

I remember that film back in 96.  I recorded it off TV, but I messed up the tape somehow and the sound cut out about half way through.  It didn’t really matter.  I thought the visuals were cool, so I watched my tape a few times even if I wasn’t sure of everything that was going on.

Sadly the views of my tape did not translate to ratings and show wasn’t picked up for series until the middle of the next decade.  Cut to now, and I just got done watching some episodes of reboot and it got me thinking.  Why was this show canceled back in 89 and why wasn’t it picked up in 96?  Why did it take almost 20 years for us to see a proper Dr. Who series on TV?

I think our society wasn’t ready yet for the kind of metaphor that the Doctor represents.  By 2005, the Internet had proven it was here to stay, bottom had basically fallen out of space travel, and cell phones were just on the edge of becoming full computers and usher in the Mobile Revolution.  My generation’s great journey isn’t going to be one to the west or space, it’s going to be to the inside.  We are going to use the web and microcomputers to become Transhuman.

This is what the Doctor represents.  He is a metaphor for the Transhuman.  He’s a lens for what we can become.  His race conquered death through technology, which if you follow tech news, is something that we are constantly brushing our fingers against.  He seemingly knows everything about every culture even if he hasn’t been to that place before.  This is something that was as a culture or experiencing for the first time with our ability to check Google and Wikipedia at any time from our cell phones.  And the technology he uses is so unknowable that it just looks like nonsense when it is being operated, which if you really think about it, is what our technology would look like to any outsider.

Every society throughout time has had to deal with changes and its surroundings.  As a way of dealing with this, we create metaphors in stories to explain our “now” to us on a subconscious level.
Our current situation is this: we are becoming more than human everyday because of our constant connection to the Internet and our evolving technology.  It’s scary because its new and we need some way of making sense of it.  There isn’t a better metaphor for this than the Doctor, who is alway changing and reinventing himself as we must learn to do, all while still having a good time.

Happy 50th birthday Doctor Who, we are going to need you for the next fifty.

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Week 2

It’s the second week of my blogging challenge and how am I doing?  Well, I haven’t quite yet, but I still haven’t wrote a post ahead so I’m always working on my posts about two hours before the midnight deadline.  I guess I haven’t talked about that before.  Another rule to this blogging challenge that I set myself is that I have to have the blog posted before midnight for the post to count for that day.  This keeps me for putting it off and putting it off until this three in the morning on a work day and I just give myself permission to go to bed.

I’ve been down this road with these kinds of self challenges before so I know all of my sneaky tricks that I use to get out of them.  It sounds like I don’t like writing doesn’t it?  Like if I was so in love with this, why don’t I just easy bang out thousands of words at a go?  Why all the games?

Because writing is hard.  That is why I love it, but to do it well takes a lot of effort.  You have to dig within yourself and find the Good Stuff that buried within a lot of just Okay Stuff.  It’s not always the most fun process.  Cupled with the fact that writing when you aren’t getting paid for it requires creating a habit within yourself.  I have been very, very bad at this.  Even in college when I was writing the most, I only did it a few days a month.  And I still managed to write over 20 short stories in just a few years.

But the writing has been easy for the last few weeks.  And something happened to me this week that should make things a lot easier: I got new glasses.  Normally that shouldn’t impact writing but I haven’t had new glasses in about six years.  In that time, my old ones had been screeched to hell and back, so it would get a little annoying to write at the computer for  long periods of time.  I could just focus on what I was doing and ignore the scratches but after a while It would get to me.  More the fact that I hadn’t gotten around to fixing the damn things than my eyes, but both were in play.

As far as the other things I’ve been doing aside from just writing, adding the blog to StumbleUpon was one of the best things I could have done.  My added readership has just about doubled, so if you have a blog, I highly recommend it.  Look forward to me trying more things with the blog.  I’m going to try finding some free pictures to add to posts so that they pop a little more. And I’m probably going to connect the blog to Google plus at the very least.

The challenge is going well so far.  I’m at the halfway point so I think I might be able to do this one.

I’ve Played More RPGs Than You, But Never D&D

I just got done playing my first game of Lords of Waterdeep which a board game based in the Dungeons and Dragons Universe.  The game was a lot of fun.  It’s a “worker placement” style game where you are collecting resources and screwing over your friends, which is always a good time.  If you are looking for a game with a lot of strategy, I highly recommend it.

There are a lot of broad games in the D&D world, and almost all of them look pretty damn cool.  This got me thinking that I’ve never actually played D&D.  I’ve talked about this before, but when I was in high school, I played pen and paper role playing games almost every day.  I would say that I’ve probably logged thousands of hours being a super powered character of some description.

But those were always in either sci-fi games or modern fantasy.  Not only did I never play D&D, but I never played a sword and sorcery style game.  This was primarily due to my tastes and the tastes of my gaming group.  We just didn’t get down to the high fantasy.  Dragons are fine as long as they also have guns and pyramid scheme.  However, we were in highschool so we would never express this in so mild of terms.  “D&D is lame and stupid.  It’s rules are dumb.  They are not balanced like Rifts.”  Rifts, let me remind you, is a game where you can create a character who moves so fast only gods can hope to touch him, but I digress.

We spent a lot of time hating on D&D because it simply wasn’t the game we had invested so much time and money in.  If one game is just as good as the next then how do you assign status – a attribute so important in high school.  (And since most people don’t really evolve much past high school, status is something still kind of important in the “real” world.)

D&D has been around for at least 30 years and was the game the created the RPG genera as we know it.  In fact, video game RPGs took almost all of their cues in the beginning from their pen and paper big brothers that you could argue that even if you only placed video game RPGs that you have still been influenced by D&D.

So even though I’ve never played it, D&D is 100% a part of my DNA, and I think I would like to explore my roots more so look for some reviews of the D&D board games as I work my way through them.

Feedback Loops: The Legend of Me

When I was in college, I became something of an urban legend, not because of anything I did, but because of my friend’s need to fill pages.  You seen when you are in a creative writing track you have to take a lot of different kinds of courses that cover types or writing you wouldn’t normally do.  At UCF, the school I went to, one of these courses was creative nonfiction.  I never took a course on this, which is ironic considering that’s about all I do on this blog, but we are going to ride right past that.  However, most of my friends in college did.

In any creative writing course you are agreeing to turn in at least two or three complete pieces.  And if you are taking multiple course this turns into quite the workload very quickly.  In creative nonfiction one of the key chunks of information you have to draw from is your own life.  This ment that I was turning up in workshopped pieces all over school, and since it was a small enough place, I wound up having classes with students that went to a lot of those courses.

That lead to a lot of conversations like this:

“Are you Josh,” and random classmate I’ve never seen before would say.

“Yeah,” I would say.

“Josh Evans?”

Yeah,” I would say, starting to get alarmed and reaching for some kind of weapon.

“Did you one time punch a guy in New Orleans?”

“Well he invaded my personal space.”

Okay, some background on that.  I really did go to New Orleans and there really was a guy and who singing on the side of the street who got what I will charitably refer to as “handsy” with me.  But I never punched him.  And certainly not in the face.

Almost all of my friends in college were fiction writers, so when they would write create nonfiction, the emphases was on the creative part.  This lead to stories where I got touched way too many times and then punched the guy in the face.  It also lead to a lot of unconformable conversions and a little bit of a strange legend surrounding me.

And I learned from highschool that if anyone assumes anything about you, it’s just easier to admit its true, so I would never disagree with what people assumed I did. That was made easier by the fact that all of my friends would run what they were writing by me first before they would submit them to class, so I always knew what to admit to.

The point I’m trying to make, I think, this that there is nothing you can do to control what others think about you, but the one thing you can control is what you admit to and in that you can control the narrative that they are forming inside there one minds.

Why the Hell are They Making a New Robocop?

There’s a new Robocop movie coming out next year.  If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, I suggest you take a look.  I honestly don’t know how I feel about this.

The knee jerk nerd reaction would be, “this thing based on this thing I like is not the thing I like.  Therefor it must die.”  And while I try not to go full Reddit when it comes to things like this, I have to say that I’m not looking forward to the remake.

The first Robocop might be a perfect movie for the time.  It was the late 80’s.  Cyberpunk was just digging its jagged, little teeth it.  And it was the perfect time to make a satire about corporate business guys who were turning the police into killing machines for profit.

If you do watch the movie again, the first thing that’ll smack you in the face is how funny it is.  It’s a movie about an evil corporation that can rule the world but none of its products – including Robocop – work the way they want.  And it has some of the best deadpan delivery I’ve ever heard.

When I was a kid, I may have watched the first two Robocops about 100 times each.  It was so fascinating to me that you could use technology to add features and abilities to a human.  That we were right on the edge of doing this and I was watching what “could happen.” Not in hundreds of years, like in Star Trek, but in the next ten years.  Or next year.  I really liked science fiction when I was a younger but this was the first time that I understood what it was for: showing humans what they could become.

And you know… robot fights.

The image of a cyborg has stuck with me my entire life.  As I grew up, I started writing my own science fiction and I can tell you this, there is always dark humor and cyborgs.  My stuff has always leaned more urban and cyberpunk than the hopeful space opera of Star Trek.  In fact, this most recent project I’m working on aside, I couldn’t tell you the last time I wrote a story with a space ship in it or one that took place off earth.

I like tangible sci-fi about stuff that you can almost hold in your hands.  “In twelve years, computers will be able to do this… In five years, we’ll put them in our bodies like this…”  Maybe it’s because I grew up in the 80’s and the 90’s in Florida and watched man space flight’s slow death, but I just don’t think I’m going to see someone set foot on another planet in my lifetime, but I do think cybernetic implants are going to happen soon.  Human beings are too scared of death to not try to meld with technology in an impotent effort to stay stuck on this mortal coil for a little longer.

These may be lofty ideas to read into an 80’s action movie, but they were blasted into my still-forming mind, and they did that because they were new and grew out the zeitgeist of the time.

The Robocop remake isn’t going to be that.  It can’t.  It’s a retread of the original which honestly makes no sense in Science Fiction.  It a genre obsessed with looking to the future.  Why the fuck would you repackage old ideas and stories.  I got into Sci-fi because I wanted to see something new.  Show me cyborgs in a different way.  Don’t just use the same characters and take the violence out just so you can cash in on an IP that quite honestly most people don’t really remember.

Let the past be the past.  We’re sci-fi fans God damn it.  Show us the future.

Thor 2 Review

While I didn’t know it was coming out until just a few days ago, I saw Thor 2  just a few hours ago, and I have to say that I really quite enjoyed it.  I’m kind of a sucker for the Marvel Studio moves that have been coming out since ’08 even though I didn’t really read those comics.  I’m not much of a super hero guy.  At least not then, I read a lot more super hero comics now.  As I get the older the metaphor just appeals to me more and more.

I thought the first Thor was a pretty good movie, but not very epic.  It felt much more like a TV show in scope.  It seemed like Loki hand a lot more character development then Thor did.  Or at least his journey seemed more deliberately illustrated then Thor’s.

This movie solved the scale issue in spades.  Instead of the a small town being ultimately at stake it was the entire universe.  As it should be when you’re dealing with god like aliens.  And I really enjoyed where they took Thor’s character in this one.  He has to learn to actually be a leader and get over his petty goals unlike most of the other characters around him.

And yes Loki is in it, and they do wind up doing a lot with him, but all of it makes sense and they give a lot of the actor to do even with the limited screen time that he has.  If you are looking for Loki 2, this isn’t that movie which is a good thing because that was the thing that I was the most afraid of going into this flick.

The Loki character has become a fan favorite, so it would really be easy to let him take over the move.  However, Marvel used their best trait: restraint.  (This also wasn’t always the case.  The 90’s were a strange time for the House of Ideas.)

So should you go see it? Yes, and I would suggest going to the theater.  Don’t wait for DVD.  They have finally figured out how to make a movie where gods beat the hell out of each other so it’s worthy of your $12 and the silver screen.

Is Self-Publishing Worth It?

Self-publishing intrigues me.  As someone who has had their nose pressed up against the publishing industry since there early twenties, the idea that I could just put something out there without asking any editor or publishing house for permission is a very tantalizing prospect.  One thing that you can attribute to the Internet is that it has nocked down any barrier between the people who want to read content and the people who want to make content.

There have been many times where I have thought, “Screw rejection letters.  I’m just going to publish my own book.”

Back in the early 00’s the self-publishing industry – also known as print on demand – was still in its infancy.  You could do it, but it was kind of career suicide.  Espeically if you were like me and haven’t been published through “traditional” means before.  So I did what I was supposed to do and sent out short stories to publishers even as websites and blogs cut the guts out of print media.

(Oh and as an aside, I don’t hold to the standard wisdom that the print is dead.  People still like books as physical objects.  They’ve been around for thousands of years, one decade isn’t going to make them extinct. They may one day go away but not in the fabled “soon” that a lot of tech journalists would lead you to believe.)

And because there were less print markets, there were less slots for stories, and I got rejected more.  Does this mean that my stuff doesn’t still need work? Oh god no.  But the playing field is being stacked against me and after writing so much, it would be nice to see someone say, “You are good enough.”

That leads me to why I haven’t pulled the trigger on self-publishing my fiction.  I still feel like I need the approval, or at the least the help and guidance of a publisher.  Sure I could self-publish on Amazon and have my stuff given most of the same chances as a lot of the other things on Amazon, but I would still be alone in figuring all that stuff out and advertising the thing.

I might not ever self-publish a novel but as the technology gets cooler and cooler and the stigma of self-publishing goes away, I might throw out some short stories out into the world and see what they are worth.  I’m not going to get rich off them, but I might get what I would from some random short story publisher.

If nothing else, it might be a interesting story to tell on here.  Stay tuned.

The Burrito Must Die

They say that when you are writing a blog that you should sometimes write a post that is divisive, something that people will have a visceral reaction to and have to respond.  This is going to be that kind of a post.  For reasons I can’t honestly explain.

I don’t like burritos.

I like tacos and a lot of other Mexican foods, but I just don’t get down to burritos.  I understand that burritos and tacos are basically the same thing, but my hatred of burritos started with the fact that most of them have rice and I just don’t like that with a lot of the other things you’d find in a burrito or a taco.  Also, it’s more common to find sour cream in a taco.  (And I’ll do just about anything for some sour cream.)

However, things have gotten more complicated between me and this food stuff.  I’ve noticed something over the last 10 years or so.  Burritos have gotten easier to find and have gotten much, much larger.  This is due to the fact that has they have gotten trendy here in the states, they have gotten Americanized.  That is to say, super sized for the Walmart set.

If you walk into a Chipotle right now and order one, you will with greeted with a monstrosity so large that it needs a fucking handle, that’s wrapped in tinfoil.

Let’s break down why this is stupid.
A burrito itself is basically a wrapped taco with black beans or rice.  This means that it should it need no external wrapper, and certainly not one that’s made out of a thin metal.  But burritos are not so God damn big that if you don’t have it covered in metal – a material normally reserved for heavy construction or tanks – it will split under it’s own weight and leak all of its insides thus defeating the point of wrapping the tortilla in the first place.  Might as well had a taco for all the better it at holding together.

That I could forgive, but the great sin I will hold against tacos until the day I draw my last breath is the bankrupting of the word “taqueria.”  Granted I don’t speak spanish but I’m pretty sure taqueria roughly translates to “place white people can get tacos.”  So it would be safe to assume that any place calling itself a taqueria would specialize in tacos.

There’s a chain of restaurant’s here in Boston called Anna’s Taqueria.  I have repeatly gone into these places, asked for some tacos, and been looked at like I’m a serial killer.  In fact, I wind up with the saddest tacos you have ever seen.  Why is that you ask?  Because all the guy behind the counter is primed to make is burritos.  You’re fucking up his game.  Now he’s got to do the same thing but with a smaller tortilla and break the mussel-memory from grabbing the rice.

Before you rush to defend this guy -and I know you are – I want you to remember that this guy works for a place called a taqueria.  It has taco in the name.  Yes, I know it’s not spelled the same.  If you walked into the a place called “Burger Bob’s House Burgers” and ordered a burger only the have the cook bitch and moan because you didn’t order a steak, you’d tell him to go fuck himself.

But I’ve gotten this treatment in every taqueria I’ve ever been into.  Shit, while I was writing this post, I looked up Anna’s Taqueria and do you know what the first thing they say they make is?  It ain’t tacos.  Yes, it’s burritos.  They should call the place a burritoeria.  But they won’t.  Know why? Cause  burritoeria sounds like a fucking venereal disease.

The worst of this come when I tell people I don’t like burritos.  People rush in to defend like I called their mom a name.  (Also, be aware that I don’t lead with the venereal disease thing.) They pull any justification they can for why there is nothing wrong with the noble burrito.  But the fact of the matter is this: they thing that made burritos great was that they were self-contained, and could be carried with one hand.  However, with our American, more is better culture, we have perverted the burrito into something you couldn’t carry with one car.

I haven’t been able to eat a burrito in years without having to rest it on the table and bring my mouth to it.  So I’ll be really honest with you.  It’s not that I have the burrito.  I hate what it’s come to represent.

30 Blogging Challenge: Week 1


The above is an app is called Goal Streaks and I use to keep track things that I want to do regularly.  Each day I write or post, I click the day and get a little X.  It sounds silly but it keeps me writing.  You’ll notice that with today’s post, I will have written a posted to this blog for seven consecutive days.

Since this is the end of my first week of posting, I thought I would do a little write up on how I’ve been doing so far with the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.  It started out pretty easy, I had about two posts in my head and I was sandbagging by writing a day ahead of when I would publish.  I’ve subsequently lost that lead by getting writer’s block in the middle of a post and having wait until the next day to get over it.

So right now, I’m writing this post on the day I’m going to publish it, but I have a few hours until I have to go try out a new coffee shop, so I’ll try to recapture that lead or at the very least clean up my damn desk which is covered in clutter.

One thing I didn’t count on was how long the posts were going to be.  My range for a post to count on this blog was between 300 – 600 words.  I figured that the average was going to be in the low three hundreds because  I would be struggling for something to say.  In fact I average around 530 for a post.  Maybe that means I take way to damn long to get to my point, but I think it means that I’m getting back into my pure love of writing.

In the If-It-Was-a-Snake-It-Would-Have-Bit-Me Department: the day after a published the post with my intent to do my 30 Day Blogging Challenge, I find that there of course is an official November blogging challenge called NaBloPoMo – or National Blog Posting Month.  I didn’t actually sign up for it because I had missed the dead line by one day.  Such is life.  It hasn’t seemed to’ve stopped me though.

The weekend was kind of rough with me coming in about 20 minutes before midnight both nights.  So that’s something that I have to be aware of for next week because I’m probably not going to be any more motivated next weekend than I was the last.  I’m really going to have to make a concerted effort to regain my day lead time.

Now that I have a little bit of a body of work on here, I’ve started experimenting with the blogging medium itself.  Last night I registered the blog with the social media site StumbleUpon.  I’ve gotten more traffic to this blog in one day then I have in its entire life.  So if you are here from StumbleUpon, thanks for visiting and feel free to come back.  If you’re a regular visitor to the site, you’ll notice that I keep changing the layout.  I’m still trying to find something that I really like.  I can’t currently edit the CSS of the site, but I’m going to start playing with that on my development computer and if I come up with something good, you see it soon.

I think that about covers it for now.  I’m going to mess with some stuff on the back end of the site and try to do some more writing on other posts.  I think this challenge is going well so far, so I can honestly say this: I’ll see you tomorrow.

In Search of a New Desk

If you are walking the streets of Somerville tonight you might see a very interesting sight: a grown-ass man throwing a desk through is living room window.

I haven’t really had a desk that I really liked since high school.  The one that I’m currently using has a rounded edge and casters, which have become the two most hated aspects that a desk can have in my option.  The casters cause the desk to slowly lurch around the sloping floors of my apartment.

The rounded edge may be the dumbest design choice for a desk.  Instead of having two corners at the end, it’s round.  This means that I’m losing all of the real-estate that those two conners would have made up, so everything is jumbled on the desk and I don’t feel like I can ever get the thing clean.

And the rounded edge in the on the right hand side.  This force me to put my computer stuff more to the left, so that when I want to put a drink or something on the my desk I have to put in on the right.  Problem with that is that I’m left-handed, so I naturally want to place things on my left side.  Now a desk is just a table.  That is to say, a rectangle and it shouldn’t left or right handed.  Yet with it’s stupid design, it is in fact a right-handed desk.

Now this may all seem like a first world problem, and that would be because it is.  However, when you spend as much time on the computer as I do, your working environment becomes very important because if you are fighting your working situation, you’re not actually working.  I’ve spent a long time just while I was writing this post starring at the mess this badly thought out desk creates.

The solution to this, of course, would be to replace the desk with a new one.  And again, I’ve had a lot of different desks, so I feel like I’ve been able to sculpt a pretty good option of what works best for me.

I generally like a long desk with enough room for a desk top computer, a laptop, and a legal pad to be laid out at the same time.  I’m also going to need some space for a microphone and a mixer because I do a lot of podcasting.  There should also be side for drawers to hold a lot of the office supplies I normally need.

When I was a kid, my dad had long work bench in the garage which he made himself out a butcher’s block and a metal frame.  I used to sit a one of the bar stools that used to line the thing and watch him solder parts for the computers that he would build by hand.  The best feature of that bench was that, being an electrician, he was able run wiring to his own electrical outlets that he built into the surface of the butcher’s block.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that outlets were not a standard feature in work benches.

Electrical outlets would be a great thing to have in a desk, but I’m going to have to build that out myself.  That’s ultimately the lesson that my current desk is trying to teach me: I hate it because it was prefabricated to kind of work for a lot of people without working for any one person perfectly.

For something as fundamental to your workflow as the thing you actually do work on, you have to build it yourself to make sure it’s completely customized for you.  Does this mean that my next trip out of the house is to a hardware store? No.  For the first draft of the New Desk, I’m going to try getting all of the pieces from Ikea and doing some customizations.  I’ll keep you posted on the project as things develop.