Fortunately, it was not a powered scooter

So on the subway today, I was accosted by a little old lady who began trying, in all seriousness, to ram her walker into my legs.

It is difficult to frame a socially acceptable response to this kind of thing.  Especially when the little old lady in question is giggling happily as she attempts to break your shins.

Did I mention that she was giggling happily?

Because she was totally giggling happily.

Fortunately, I am no amateur in the art of evading sneak attacks (I am a lawyer, lawyers make people unhappy a lot, unhappy people sometimes attack, QED) and I executed the one move in my playbook guaranteed to put a stop to shenanigans of this kind.  I shot up the nearest set of stairs.

She seemed a bit peeved but she recovered well, lurching towards a couple who were waiting for a nearby bus and slamming her walker into their innocent thighs.

The giggling followed me out the subway door.




Paper will save you when the apocalypse comes

The Ghost and The Machine launches this week, as a book with actual pages and things.  Or as a computer file which can live in the depths of your tablet devices, humming innocently, until you wish to embark on an exploration of the strange and twisted entity which is my imagination.

Now, I am sympathetic to those who prefer to keep all of their reading material electronically compressed.  I become more sympathetic every time I move, and have to lug countless crates of Penguin Classics and foreign language dictionaries up and down sets of stairs.  There is a secret underground brotherhood of movers who have sworn to assassinate me and burn all my Greek lexicons on my own grave.  

But what with the apocalypse looming and all, I thought it appropriate to remind you that there is a very compelling reason to keep accumulating books on paper.  Namely, paper books have so very many uses as survival gear.  



Observe the effortless transformation of the paperback into a zombie-repelling torch.  You could try to do this with a tablet, I suppose, but good luck trying to get the flame to catch, and good luck trying to hold a machete after globs of melted silicone run all over your fingers.


Survival is all mental, they tell us.  What better way to improve your morale and bolster self-confidence than to don a fetching chapeau?  Side benefit: The vaguely military appearance of your BookHat will cause other survivors to rally instantly under your banner.  You can then send them out on scouting expeditions, use them as cannon fodder, and/or steal their stuff.

Other survivors will not rally to your banner if you attempt to make a hat out of a tablet device.  They will look at you quizzically and ask why you have an e-reader stapled to your forehead.  Whatever you answer, they will edge gently away.

This one is so obvious that I blush to mention it.  When the apocalypse strikes, you want to be surrounded by things that you can quickly layer into a mighty and impenetrable fortification.  Books good building material, tablets not.  I rest my case.



...And we're live.  Good work, people, excellent, take five.  No smoking and I want you back on the set before we start the second act.



I talk a lot about zombies with the woman who cuts my hair.  This is, in part, because the woman who cuts my hair grew up in the Soviet Union and has a lot of childhood memories that involve shooting rifles or kicking people in the face.

It is also because zombies have become the great equalizer, the one touch'a nature makes the whole world kin, the mystical bridge between Geek and Non-Geek.

Zombies have become mainstream, it appears.

All of a sudden it has become socially acceptable for adults to discuss their zombie readiness programs or debate about the merits of machete vs. shotgun.  This is very odd.

Of course, I have always been ready and willing to do that kind of thing, but I am also the person who spent a good part of the last month constructing giant prehensile claws out of an old umbrella so that I could wear them to work.  I do not consider myself a good core sample of the typical modern consciousness.

And why zombies?  Why not dinosaurs or pirates or the Trojan War or manticores?

People are so very strange.

But it means that I can talk about zombies with the woman who cuts my hair.

Which is better than nothing,


Take that, Romeo.

Way, way back in the mists of antiquity, when I was but a little Benny, there was a computer program called Klik & Play.  It was purportedly produced by Clickteam but in fact (as I learned after much research) it was forged in the depths of Hades by a maddened cabal of satanic hellsprites, for the sole and exclusive purpose of driving me out of my ever-lovin' mind.

The idea was that Klik & Play empowered you to make computer games of yowah vewwy, vewwy own, using pre-produced sprites and backgrounds.  And dark magic.  I am assuming about the dark magic part because no matter how much I raged and fumed, I never managed to make anything except a mangled gamelet in which a cartoon female with implausibly large breasts wobbled halfway across the screen and then dissolved into pixels.

(Why was my protagonist a cartoon female with implausibly large breasts?  Because I couldn't figure out how to change the default sprite to the spaceship and why, pray tell, would you leap to such unwarranted conclusions?)

If you yourself rejoiced in a copy of Klik & Play as a child, and so manipulated the dread contraption as to create the equivalent of Gabriel Knight or Psychonauts, then please feel free to shut up about it and never tell me ever.

Anyway, I say all this because I have decided to be the Pie Devil.

See, Klik & Play shipped with a number of demo games, designed to show us what WE TOO COULD ASPIRE TO MAKE with the cursed thing if we had ten years and a few graduate degrees in computer design to spare.  These were not what you would call inspired, with two exceptions.  There was one which had a doughnut as a protagonist, which I believe was a gaming first.  The other was a Donkey Kong clone, itself nothing to spasm about, wherein Romeo had to rescue Juliet from that most dreadful of perils, a series of platforms and ladders. 

But the antagonist, O, the antagonist...

Well, LOOK at him.

The Pie Devil's function in the game was to hurl down confectionary at his Veronan nemesis with the regularity of a metronome, accompanying his calorific onslaught with the battle cry, "Take that, Romeo!"  The Pie Devil was not one of your modern villains.  He did not agonize over his place in the world or share tortured memories of his miserable childhood.  Oh no.  Oh, no.  The Pie Devil hurled pie, and the Pie Devil hurled it well.  

Now, would not modern society be improved if you knew that any moment, someone could appear on a high structure nearby, screetching and throwing down deep dish bumbleberry tarts?  Indeed yes.  Destiny calls.

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