ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

In the Blackout —

I don’t like advice given by people in the form of “I have discovered something, and woe be unto you for not following my hard-won knowledge”, especially if that form comes wrapped up by a price tag or implied sale requirement.  I won’t name entities I see who do this online and hate, because part of their whole existence has to come from people liking or disliking them, enabling them with powers, like gods.  But some of that advice these ur-gods want to sell or self-aggrandize with has at the core of it, truth, and so I will acknowledge that not posting for months on end can be murder for an audience, even ones with RSS technology for knowing I did something the near-instant I posted.

I am not a disco ball, firing weak but noticable light in many directions and making you feel I am everywhere, but leaving you with scant real light. I am a bright fucking laser that aims its shit down at something and melts that fucker under intensity.  And unfortunately, a lot of stuff I’ve been doing has just not been followed by the time available to sit down and write about it properly. And then I convince myself that improperly is not better than nothing at all, and the world gets silence. This doesn’t work either, especially when an awful lot of people donated money to hear more from me, not less.

So let me do a quick set of sketches of scenes from the past few months, many of which I’ll probably extend and expand upon in coming months.

  • Somewhere in the middle of the “coin thing”, I discovered that coin companies are, generally, pretty weird. First of all, they seem to get the vast majority of business from military, specifically military units, who commemorate their times and fraternity by having custom coins made, which every member of a given group or sub-group carries to be able to flash in response to a challenge, hence the term “challenge coin”.  All the companies stress they have a veteran running the place or somewhere high up, and if you look at the sample coins, they always separate out the various branches of service so you don’t go to look at examples of Army coins, say, and gaze upon some Navy fuckers’ coins. But beyond that, what blew me away was how absolutely unprepared people are to design coins if they’re not working for a coin company. Sending in my coin design to Hollis, the awesome saleslady at the coin company that weren’t bastards, she sent it off to the art department and they totally remade the coin, making it so much better it was outside the realm of reality, that this coin might somehow be something I am capable of being in the company of, or the prime motivator of.  It looks like this, by the way:

  • Just yesterday, I was looking at Foucault’s pendulum; not some idea of the pendulum but the actual pendulum, machined and polished and in a box, while another pendulum does the stunt work in front of it, slowly moving according to the rotation of the earth. I’m at the Musée des Arts et Métiers, in Paris, a place where you can find displays with Commodore 64s, Cellphones and then original printing presses from the 17th and 18th century, looking like they need merely a few operators to start shooting out pamphlets by the stack. I do history, but these people do history. I had been there specifically at 5pm for an automaton show, automatons having interest for me for a possible future documentary. I wasn’t disappointed – the operator would take specific items out of their case and place them before us, original machines to emulate birds, provide music, and move pictures, and turn them on. Sure, the entire presentation was in French, but I got it.
  • Sockington is pissed beyond pissed. He wants to be anywhere but in this room, with this muslin sheet and the two strange guys and the occasional random flashes. At one point he actually bites my hand, something that hasn’t happened more than a half-dozen times in the years I’ve known him, so we all call a break. Somewhere in there, the photographers from People magazine got the best shots they could, but the photos I take of Socks are at his own leisure, taking advantage of pre- and post-meal times, when he couldn’t care less what’s up, giving him the air of regal disinterest that I think works best. Tweetie, aka Sockelganger, is more than happy to pose, however, walking straight into the middle of the muslin, flopping down, and striking a perfect profile. “Can we just use this cat?” the photographer asks.
  • I have learned the hard way that a lot of the plastic boxes sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s are crap. The crush weight, that is, the number of these things that can be stacked on one another before the start to bulge or break, is about 3-4, depending on how many magazines they’re full of. After a while, I find the right box, but now I have a few dozen others that are going to be emptied or filled with very light items indeed. The Information Cube, a 40′ shipping container I now have sitting in a distant place, has a mailing label, metal shelves inside, and will become one of my central projects as I classify and make accessible the thousands of items inside. But the crush weight! Come on. I finally find the boxes I need, able to be stacked 8 high with no problem – but I may need to order them in, and nothing makes you feel stupider in this world than paying to ship boxes.
  • Dozens of floppy disks arrive. Dozens of books arrive. Dozens of computers arrive. Hundreds of CD-ROMs arrive. The part of me that really enjoys sorting things is very happy.
  • Walking around in the back of the auditorium, I’m wearing a Victorian outfit and studying the crowd. GET LAMP is now, among other things, a 1-hour cut of interactive fiction, and the audience is responding well. A shot comes up, one I hoped would get a reaction, and the audience breaks into applause. The year of preparation, thousands of dollars, and unnecessary drama and conflict that brought that shot to the screen was worth it.  To my great surprise, another scene later in the film gets even stronger reaction, with people talking about it for a week afterwards; I had no idea. Afterwards, I pace back and forth on stage as heroes meet their fans.
  • Pundit after pundit after pundit comments on the iPad, and people turn it into a debate about functionality and freedom versus convenience and the inevitable future. I desperately want to join in, even though my contribution will be mostly profane and a minor twist on other essays (after all, nearly every position has been taken). I feel like that one kid with the broken leg who can’t follow the pied piper. However, I know I can break a few legs with my crutch, should things come to it, so I have a few kids to play with.

There’s so much to talk about, isn’t there?

Categorised as: jason his own self

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  1. Ken G. says:

    Thanks for the updates!

    What was the scene in the PAX cut of GET LAMP that you expected and got applause from?

  2. Lorien says:

    I think you are more a disco ball that shoots lasers all over the place. 🙂

  3. Gene Buckle says:

    …a nuclear bomb pumped X-Ray laser….

    With a disco ball.

  4. Palad says:

    I loved the Pied Piper metaphor.

  5. All of us at The Monterey Company got such a kick out of reading your blog post! We have been passing your coin around the office with admiration. It really did turn out nicely.
    We take great pride in our work and in our service to our clients, needless to say, it was quite a boost to our company pride to see you distinguish our artists and salespeople (Hollis) in your post.


  6. Jason… dude, you have some incredibly right-brain ideas…and yep, the whole thing about “not finding the time to expand on them” is a real bitch! But don’t give up – pretend (like I do) that you have a new-found interest in time-management 🙂 Sometimes you end up believing your own shit and actually get stuff done the way you want to get it done.

    You’re spot on about the ‘weirdo coin companies’ though!