Wednesday, 28 August 2013

My Type of Dreams

A blog post, a blog post; my kingdom for a blog post.
Actually, scratch that, if that's the exchange rate, I'd write a blog post for a kingdom, then write another blog post about how I just got my own kingdom. But either way, I was not ready for a blog post, today.
I was planning on doing blog fiction, but all of my current ideas for fiction are incredibly complicated, or in genres I'm not used to. I've never written spy fiction before; I'm stuck on this Italian immigrant story & the GameBlog hyperlinks haven't been working, for some reason (not that I've figured out the story for that, I've still only got a few scenes ready).
I also have been having trouble sleeping. Ever since my grandmother's visit, I've been going to bed later and later, to have some time to myself, but now it's completely taken over and I'm more nocturnal than anything else. So when I woke up today and saw the time I thought:
  "Damn, I'm gonna need a good cup of coffee, if I'm gonna do anything today."
But wouldn't you know my luck, we're out of coffee . . .
So, for these reasons, there wasn't going to be a Word of the Day, today. I am in no headspace for that. Right now all I want to do is go to bed.
  "I'm a shadow of my former self", as they say. But that does bring to mind a curious concept that I've noticed, while writing tired or half-mindedly, that will have to serve as the topic of today's post. The Word of the Day is: "SUBCONSCIOUS"

Subconscious /sub'konshəs/ n., adj. (the mental processes and reactions) existing or operating below the level of consciousness.

If you learn how to touch-type, your mind and the computer become as one, connected only by your fingers on the keyboard to communicate words onto the screen. It's a curious ability and I've mentioned before how awesome it is since it literally allows you to communicate with the computer. Not only can you write stories; blog posts; comments; essays; e-mails; articles & even "tweets" online, all communicable over the vast distances that the internet provides; but it also connects all of that right back into your mind. So if you can touch-type, you might believe:
  "Oh yeah, I'm controlling my fingers here. I am the one doing the thinking."
But that's just not true. I know, because I see it all the time. Not only while writing blog posts, but also chatting to friends online or commenting. If I am tired or distracted, I've noticed that my fingers have started to write on their own.

For instance, almost every time I try to type the word "RIGHT", I spell it "WRITE". Perhaps this is some subconscious way of saying that writing is just right, but I don't know. I've also seen myself write the word "which" instead of "that". These are often related words. Turning "element" into "elephant", "goodbye" into "garbage" and "villain" into "valiant". These are just little instances that happen all the time, and it's probably because I write these words frequently or they have similar letters that get caught in my muscle memory. But what if we go deeper?

I often watch shows while writing, especially chatting to friends with slow connections, and I've found myself writing words from the show into my chat logs. These are also often subtley different words, or related words.
Like, if I want to write "How have you been?" I might write something like: "How have you dream?" or even something weird like "Have you fixed it?". Or if I'm trying to say "I don't know" I'll write something like "I'm done now."
This is often dependant upon the context of the show that I'm watching, as it's often a question written when the show and what I'm thinking about coincide and my fingers get confused as to what I'm typing.
But these can be explained on a higher level. Distractions, mis-spellings and confusion. The really weird stuff happens when I'm half-asleep.

My mind gets loose and lazy, my headspace becomes a great soup bowl of unrestrained thoughts and dreams. Some of it can be embarrassing, so it makes me glad that I usually have time to edit what I'm writing.
When I'm talking to a girl online and starting to drift off, I might find my fingers typing things like "just a kiss" or "come closer"; weird little subconscious mumblings that I'm sure wouldn't happen if I had a girlfriend.
Or if I'm trying to write a story, but it's getting late, I've found myself writing all kinds of weird things. From "Mr Zombie comes back." to "He shouted, deadly."
Weird little musings.
Sometimes, it even helps me. One time, I was half-awake, when some pirate-looking guy in my mind said: "Welcome, to Port Tiltha!" I'd never heard that before, so I wrote it down, and it's now the name of one of the cities in a story I'm working on. It's weird to see how one's mind works.

This reminds me of a guy known as "Sleep Talking Man" who would (as the name suggests) talk in his sleep, and his wife would record what he was saying. He's come up with such gems as:

- I've got a badger, a dog, a cat and a sack.
- Pork chops are most satisfying. Mmmmmm. Dangle them from the ceiling
- Butter. Nut. Squash. I like those words.
- Don't leave the duck there. It's totally irresponsible. Put it on the swing, it'll have much more fun.

Now that is really weird.
You know, I think I've used the word "weird" to describe almost all of these things. But that's what they are, they're weird. Blurring the lines between conscious writing and subconscious dreaming. Is there even a difference? You know, after I dream-type, sometimes I wonder if it's my fingers that are slipping, or my mind . . .

I wonder what it would be like if someone could write a book in their dreams. What's that? Someone has? Okay, well I'm tired tonight so we're going to talk about that next time.

Until then, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd and I'm off to get a good night's sleep!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Wit my Nan says

For the last two weeks, I've been taking care of my Nan (that's "grandmother", coming from the italian term Nonna which some Australians adopted from "wogs" and into Nanna).
I've been taking care of her because she can't take care of herself. Not that she'd have me say that, she'd wring my neck if she heard me talking like that (which makes me thankful she doesn't read the blog). See, she likes her independence and refuses to move into a nursing home (she worked in one for twenty-seven years and doesn't trust them) and sure, I reckon good on her, she's still got fire in her, she doesn't need full-time care.
But the thing is, she doesn't need care at her house, because she's organized it and lives in it in a way that suits her needs. However, our home is not conducive to a little old lady born before 1950.

For instance, she drinks tea all the time (preferable Bushells), a simple task, except when she comes to our house, for the following reasons:
For starters, my family doesn't have a regular "kettle", we own a one-touch automatic kettle which squirts one cup of piping hot water into your cup when you press a red button. This resulted in some spilled tea before Nan learned how to operate it.
Then there's the tea, Nan drinks a lot of tea so she buys it in bulk, but we only had the one little box so we needed to buy more, which is bad for Nan because she doesn't know where the shops are out here, and she's got a bad knee that slows her down and makes walking a bother (she's got an appointment for the doctor to look after her next week) so I had to help her around and make sure she didn't get lost.
Finally, the milk. We buy all of our milk from Aldi so it only comes as UHT in those square milk cartons that, to keep it fresh, also have a little "pull-off" tag that you tear by wrapping your finger around it. Nan has arthritis, so she can't loop her finger through the little plastic tag, and it takes about a kilogram of force to pull those things off (That's about 10.1 Newtons, according to the conversion calculator I found online). I know, because the milk containers are 1 litre, and I've picked them up by those "loops" without them breaking, so she needs help to do that.

Don't get me wrong, she's not infirm, she takes well care of herself. Back down in Grafton she's a big part of the community, always baking things for the Church Bake Sales; selling jams at the markets; helping out her old friends when they're going to hospital; constantly perfecting that little cottage garden around her place, (which last I saw had four different kind of roses [the peach-coloured rose was my favourite]); then getting all around town helping out and socializing, even though she's got a walking stick and can't move faster than a slow limp.
She's self-sufficient, so long as she does it her way, and sometimes I wonder whether "our" way is better, with all this technology clogging our arteries.
Okay, that's a lie, I prefer my way - I'm not saying we should throw out computers - but what I am saying is, I wish we could adopt some more of those things from the "old days" that my Nan still does "nowadays". Because, an awful lot of the time, I reckon that what she does is better.
The Word of the Day is 'OLD-SCHOOL'.

Ocker /'okə/ n. Colloquial 1. The uncultivated Australian working man considered as a type. 2. An insensitive, narrow-minded Australian male who considers his ideas and values the only possible ones. 3. An Australian male displaying qualities considered to be typically Australian, as good humour, helpfulness, and the abilities to overcome difficulties. ♦adj. 4. distinctively Australian: an ocker sense of humour. Also, okker.

That was the longest preamble I've done in a while. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it a pre-ramble, since I haven't exactly explained what I want to talk about today. The point is, I like what my Nanna does, and one of the things I love most about her is that she is proper Australian, or I should say "ocker".
I love Australia and its culture but it seems to me like we've lost some of that true blue, Aussie identity as the country's grown older. At least in the public eye, we've become more politically correct, inoffensive and strict. I always associate with Australia that Work hard, Relax harder, "she'll-be-right-mate", modest, jovial, imperfect, laidback aesthetic, but these days we all seem so polite and inoffensive. Which annoys me, because we're not supposed to be "polite and inoffensive", we're supposed to be honest and rough as guts! That's what True Blue means! True, as in Loyal & Honest; Blue as in "Raw", like Blue Steak or Blue Language!
That's not where the term comes from, historically, but as is the Australian way,we don't care about where it comes from, we care about where it's going. But at this rate, Australian Identity is going the way of the dodo.
I appreciate multiculturalism as much as the next person [here person should be read as person who is not a fucking racist.], but a multiculture is supposed to be many cultures growing bigger, not getting smaller, more diluted and homogenous. We've lost that, but when I talk to my Nanna everything that comes out of her mouth is pure, raw Aussie. Hell, she's more "Ocker Aussie" sitting in the kitchen drinking tea than most of the mongrels out there, suckling beer out of a bottle while barbecuing beef with their buddies, watching the latest football match.

One of the coolest things about the way my Nan speaks is that she uses oldschool Australian slang and idioms from 50 years ago. Not only are they funny, but I think they represent how Australia is supposed to be. Laidback, modest, politically incorrect and not afraid to make fun of itself.
So, for your pleasure, I've compiled a list of my favourites, and an explanation of what it means. For added comedy, I can guarantee you that every single one of these came out of the mouth of a 70+ year old grandmother. So, allow me to introduce, in no particular order . . .

The A.W.N.'s Half-Arsed List of True-Blue, Dinky-Di, Ridgy-didge Ocker Aussie Slang

"Fair dinkum"
  This means real, true or genuine. Apparently the word dinkum used to mean work, but these days means something like play. However, don't be fooled into thinking the term means fair play. The most accurate translation to common parlance would be for real, and they could be used interchangeably.

"Dry as a dead dingo's donger"
  Really dry. This can suit to describe someone's wit or literal dryness. I like this because I imagine it being said by an old stockman, complaining about the weather during an Aussie summer out in the desert. But I use this to welcome you to the grand history of crude Australian metaphors. One my Nan doesn't use, but I find funny is "low as a snake's arsehole" to describe someone devious, unkind, cruel or just plain nasty.

"Like tits on a bull"
  Completely useless, used to describe a person. One might, at first, think that tits on a bull would be useful, (twice the milk, right?) so I feel the need to remind you of another saying: "mess with the bull, get the horns". Another way to call someone useless that my Nan doesn't say is "as useless as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest".

"Off, like a bride's nightie"
  Used to describe something or someone that leaves quickly, not something which isn't on. Although Nan's never said it, we also have "off like a bucket of prawns in the hot sun" to describe something that has gone rotten. This too can describe an expedient departure if you so choose, it's a flexible metaphor.

"He/She wouldn't know a tram was up him/her 'til the bell rang!"
  This is used to describe someone either inattentive or dim-witted. I don't believe it means "upon him/her" so much as "up his/her arse", as that is just our sense of humour, but I really like this one because of the history.
Australia originally wanted trams in every city, but a lot of councils elected not to install them because our cities were too small. These days we can't add them, and in fact some have been removed, because they're too expensive to run and not enough people use them, so to me this phrase harkens back to a time when trams were a big deal in Australia.

"A face like a smacked arse"
  This is used to describe someone blushing or looking very surprised. The first meaning is pretty simple, a smacked arse would look red and flushed. As for the "looking surprised" definition, I believe it comes from the notion that someone would look surprised if you smacked them on the arse, but I can't be sure as the surprised meaning isn't used often.

"You've got tickets on yourself"
  Used to describe a person with a high opinion of themselves (I know, because I get told this one all the time). My Nan sometimes pairs this with "don't go out in a breeze, they'll all blow off". The idea here is that a person has notes all over them describing how good they are, how smart, how handsome, etcetera in a conceited attempt to constantly advertise themselves and be the centre of attention. This is actually an insult, since modesty is very important in Australia and so people will often think more highly of you, if you don't express how highly you think of yourself.
This is also closely related to figjam, another derogatory term for an immodest person. It's an acronym and stands for: Fuck, I'm Good. Just Ask Me.

"Mad as a cut snake"
  Bloody furious. This is very Australian, because Australia is host to 9 of the world's Top 10 Deadliest Snakes. If you cut a snake in half, they will twist and writhe over themselves and lash out at any perceived threat. Also, Fun Fact: even if you cut a snake's head off, it can still bite you. By the same note, if someone is described as "mad as a cut snake" then they are likely to lash out and hurt other people in their anger, even if you're trying to help.

"Blood worth bottling"
  This is used to describe role models or otherwise incredibly kind, generous, selfless, irreplaceable people. The phrase is similar to "worth his weight in gold" or even the Australian saying "he's a top bloke", but I think it's more than that. This implies that someone is worth saving, as though you wish you could keep something of them in the world, to make sure there were always people like them in it.

  Idiot. I don't know where it came from, but Dictionary blames the Spangled Drongo, an Australian bird. This probably relates back to "birdbrain" an insult implying a small mind, since we also call someone a "galah" if their being foolish, and a Galah is a kind of cockatoo with pink feathers and grey wings found in Australia. Some sources claim that Drongo was the name of an old racehorse that never won any races, but the birdbrain idea makes more sense to me.

"You've got Buckley's"
  You have no chance or it's impossible. Sometimes this is said as "a Buckley's chance", and is named for a man who was very unlucky. Sources are uncertain as to which Mr Buckley provided the name for this quote, but as it's one of the oldest examples, I believe this is speaking of William Buckley, a convict who escaped from prison and ran away into the Australian bush. He only managed to survive by living with an Aboriginal tribe. At this point one might think "but if he survived, he had a chance, right?"
But let me remind you, we know he survived, so obviously he was found again which means he must have gone back to prison. It doesn't seem so lucky when you put it like that.

"Full as a goog."
  Describes someone who has a full stomach. The word goog comes from 'googie' meaning egg, and supposedly comes from the way young children pronounce the word "egg". Eggs are basically full to the edge of the shell, so this meaning is literal. However, some claim that "full as a goog" also means drunk but these people are wrong.
In the context of a drinking session, calling someone "full as a goog" would imply they are filled to the brim with alcohol, and would also happen to be very drunk. I believe this is where the misunderstanding has arisen.

"Flat out, like a lizard drinking"
  Someone working very hard and fast, often to their limit. "Flat out" refers to something using a lot of effort. A lizard always lies flat on its belly, so this could be a good play on words. But at the same time, lizards drink by flicking their tongue into water and snapping up the splash and they do this in quick succession, so their tongues move very quickly when they drink, meaning this could just as easily be another clever Australian Metaphor.

"Technicolour Yawn"
  Puke, Spew or Vomit. This is both a clever bit of outback poetry and incredibly gross. It's kind of interesting how many different ways there are to say vomit. This is what my Nan calls it, but one of my favourites is chunder, because it has a colourful history (assuming the story I was told is true).
Apparently this term comes from the days of Australia's colonization, since everyone came by boat, even if they were seasick. So, if you were going to puke, you'd have to run to the edge and throw up into the sea. Unfortunately, many of these ships had more than one level, so there was a chance you might get vomit onto someone sticking their head out from a lower deck. To avoid this, it was a courtesy to yell out "watch, under!" if you were going to puke. But, since there was usually something "caught in your throat" at the time, this was often shortened to the monosyllabic 'tch under! before spilling your lunch. I sure hope that story's fact, but if it's not at least it's a brilliant fiction.

"Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels"
  Native Papua New Guineans who helped bring Australian soldiers to field hospitals during World War 2. The name comes from the fact that they had frizzy black hair and saved a lot of lives. I've only ever heard my Nanna say this one once when she was talking about her brothers who fought in the war, one of which was helped by these wonderful people, but I felt the need to mention it, just because it's awesome.
Their blood's worth bottling, that's for damn sure.

"Gone Walkabout"
  Something or someone that is lost or missing. A walkabout was an informal excursion into the Australian outback taken by native Australians either to visit family, escape from city living or return to their native life. This trips lasted indefinitely, so the saying is used for things we've lost if we don't know when we're going to find them again.
I like this one because it's about aboriginals, but not racist or derogatory like most of the old sayings or terms about aboriginals were, like "boong" or "abo". Or maybe it is racist (I don't know how), but I don't see it that way. For me, all I see is the idea that sometimes we lose things, for reasons we couldn't possible imagine, and no matter how hard we try to find them all we can do is wait for them to come back.

So, that's my list. I'm not going to lie, after looking back, I feel somewhat wistful. Perhaps it's the way I structured the list, because now I'm thinking that perhaps Australian Identity has gone walkabout. We've entered this bold new world and we're not sure where we're going from here, so our sense of self has left us. I can only hope that, after we find ourselves, we'll come back to our senses and find ourselves again, this time knowing more about who we are and where we come from . . .

Well, it's been a rip-snorting good laugh - for me anyway, I hope you weren't bored shitless - but I gotta shoot through, so you might as well nick off.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd and until you next lob in I'll be flat out cracking into the next yarn for this rag of mine - no worries, mate.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Off the Beaten Track

Man, I have been busy. One day after I wrote Warehouse 88, I had to pack my bags and drive to New South Wales to pick up my Nanna. See, my cousin's getting hitched and she brought her fiance to Australia to show him off to the family, so folks and family were all coming up to our house to see him.
My father and I had the task of collecting my grandmother, so we spent two days driving down then back up on the Friday and Saturday. Then, not two minutes after getting out of the car, we all got wrangled into the kitchen to get to cooking for the barbeque lunch. We were then cooking for the next four hours, and every time a new member of the family arrived we roped them in and got them to cooking as well.
Once it was all cooked, we cracked open the grog and started drinking and eating, just as my cousin and her fella came around.

It was a lot of fun, but it's all quite busy. I've been here for the last two days taking care of Nanna while she's up visiting for the week or so, and tomorrow I expect I'll be running off to a picnic with the family since Wednesday is the public holiday for brisbane's Ekka.
That's the officially "unofficial" name for the Brisbane Exhibition, also known as the Royal Queensland Show by people who have no friends. It's supposed to be all about showing off Queensland's contents and culture to those that wish to see it, but in truth it's about sucking people dry by offering them fairground food, low quality theme park rides and showbags full of candy - all priced to be as expensive as they can get away with. So our family never bothers with it, instead we do our own thing with the public holiday and a picnic seemed like a good idea.

Sorry if I'm rambling on a bit today. I didn't originally have a Word of the Day or anything like that, since I didn't have the time to find one. I'm really just here to tell you what's up, and why I can't do too many more blog posts for the time being, since I'm busy with family stuff. It's only after writing it that I looked up the word, and realized how fascinating it was. So, the Word of the Day is: 'RAMBLE':

Ramble /'rambəl/ v.i. 1. To wander about in a leisurely manner. 2. (of a stream or path) to have a wandering or twisting course. 3. (of a house) to grow or be built in a haphazard way. 4. To talk or write in an aimless way without a consistent train of thought. ♦n. 5. A walk without a definite route, taken for pleasure.

I guess today's post will be self-demonstrating, like Drunk Responsibly or When the Lights go Out, since the word is "Ramble", and I'm just rambling on myself. I know that I usually ramble on a bit, but today I will even moreso since I don't have much order to this post.
Most of all, I want to mention that I'm too busy to write blog posts for a short while. Things will sort out again when I take Nanna back to New South Wales in about a week and hopefully I can fix up my damn schedule so that I can get on to regular posting, but for now I'm otherwise occupied. But beyond mentioning that, I don't have a plan for this post.

Oh, but speaking of things I wanted to mention. For Duke Forever, you may have noticed a little feature I included, but I want to bring it to your attention properly.
I don't title the posts "Duke Forever" or "Chapter 3" or anything like that, I name them for the title of each individual chapter. I thought it looked nicer this way, but it also makes it harder to find. I recently added a label, so you can find it by seeking out the label duke forever on the page, so you can click that and it'll show all of the chapters, but that's just one measure. See, from the beginning, I knew that navigating the blog would be a little odd with serialized fiction dropped throughout, since it would make it hard to find earlier chapters, so I devised a system of hyperlinks to navigate back and forth through the story.

On each chapter for Duke Forever, there's the illustration at the top of the page, then below that I write the chapter number. Either side of the written out chapter number are some "less than" and "greater than" symbols that look like brackets, something like this:

<< < Chapter # > >>

These aren't just decoration or marginalia, they're an easy way of navigating the story. I designed it similar to the navigation for webcomics, like this one. It's mostly self-explanatory, clicking "<<" returns to the very start of the story and clicking "<" goes back one chapter. From chapter 2, at the moment, these two buttons do the same thing, since "the start" and "one chapter ago" are the same thing, but in time, they will come to be more useful, especially for new readers of the blog, or old readers that want a recap.
As for ">", that goes forward one chapter, similar to its partner symbol, but the last button is what really excites me. Because, for now, when you click ">>" it goes to the latest chapter, since that makes the most sense. That's what people will want to navigate to while we're still in Volume 1 of Duke Forever.
However, I plan on doing this for a while. Duke Forever won't go away, not like Hypotheticals did. Not only is this more popular, but I'm also having a lot of fun writing them. In time, I will continue to write more chapters and fill out the first volume of this story, and when that time comes the ">>" buttons will navigate to the latest Volume of Duke Forever.

I know, I've only written two chapters so far, so perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself, but I've got high hopes for this BlogSerial thing.
The only issue here is that I don't have a computer or program to do this, I'll have to go through and change the ">>" links every time I write a new chapter, and as they say "to err is human", so I may miss a link somewhere. If you find one, please let me know through message, e-mail, comments or what have you, and I'll fix it as soon as I can; as they also say, "many hands make light work".

Other than that, I'm working on some other side projects for the blog. I still have the GameBlog interactive fiction idea and other kinds of BlogFiction that I'm working on [by working on I really mean thinking about starting to work on]. I'm not sure when I'll get around to either of those, but time will tell . . .
One day I will try to do a few more Hypotheticals, since there are some questions I collected that I really like and I would like to make a few more, but I wouldn't make many more than five or ten, since there aren't many good hypothetical questions.
I didn't realize how hard it would be to find appropriate questions, and there are a lot that I just can't write about. Most of the time, the answer to a question is: "Nothing would change, except that I would do the obvious thing." or "I don't know what would happen, because I cannot predict how the world will react to me." It's a problem that I recognized originally, but I didn't realize it would be so constraining! Sure, some of these issues could be solved with research and in-depth study, but the original concept of Hypotheticals was for them to be easy, and putting that much work into it defeats the point.
Perhaps I could do something similar, but more akin to actual self-insert fiction . . . just a thought.

Anyway, that's all from me for now. I probably won't get another post done any time soon, but I assure you that I'll get back to writing as soon as I'm able.

Until then, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and in the meantime I'm going to see if I can find the time for my next blog post!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Warehouse 88

<< < Chapter Two > >>

The Duke stands back and watches as Anise slowly paces around the console room, the sound of her black high heels echoing against the marble roof with each step. She trails her hand across the edge of the console, the many bangles on her wrist tinkling against the metal as she stares across the myriad of buttons, levers and controls.
  "I can take you anywhere in the universe, time and space" says the Duke, "but you'll have to pick one."
  "How do I decide?" says Anise, "I've never been out there before. I ain't ever been overseas before. Not before today, anyway . . ."
  "Why don't I simplify it, then?" says the Duke, walking up beside her. He flicks three switches, spins a dial, then grabs onto one of the levers. "Here, hold this," he says. Anise grabs it with her left hand, then The Duke wraps his other hand around hers.
  "What are you doing?" Anise asks. The Duke pulls the lever one degree to the left with a click, then looks her dead in the eye.
  "The Past," he says, then he pulls it to the right, "The Future. The further you pull the lever, the farther we go."
He lets go and walks around to the other side of the panel, and grabs onto the ignition crank.
  "Are you kidding?" says Anise, "That's no contest . . ."
Anise yanks the lever to the right, making the gears clunk loudly.
  "As you wish," says the Duke, and he starts up the time machine. Anise stumbles, and clings onto the edge of the console as the floor sways and tilts. The familiar whirr, humm and drone of the machine thunders through the place as the ship dematerializes and they go flying through Time and Space.
  "Is it always this rough?!" screams Anise over the din.
  "Of course!" the Duke cries back, "Did you expect time travel to be easy?"
The Duke adjusts a few more of the controls, before slamming the lever back into place. They come to a sudden halt with a thump.
  "Woah! Easy on the landing . . ." says Anise.
  "I do apologize," says the Duke, checking some of the screens, "we've arrived quicker than I expected."
  "If it took a long time to travel, then it wouldn't be a very effective time machine, would it?"
  "I guess not . . ." says Anise, stepping closer to see what the Duke was doing. As soon as he notices her, the Duke looks up at her.
  "Feel free to step outside," says the Duke, "The atmosphere is appropriate for respiration; the local atmosphere is somewhat foggy, temperature approximately eighteen degrees & according to these instruments, the time is . . . morning."
  "Aren't you coming?" asks Anise
  "What? Oh, of course! I was just trying to calculate the year." says the Duke.
  "Can't we find that out . . . out there?" says Anise, pointing at the door.
  "Oh . . ." says the Duke, taking his hands away from the console, "alright then."
The Duke walks up to Anise then, side by side, they head for the door. As they approach, it opens automatically and The Duke stops just before it.
  "Lady first," he says. Anise smiles and steps forward. As soon as she steps inside, she gasps and stumbles backward. She falls back into the Duke's arms where he holds her tight.
  "Are you alright?" asks the Duke, concerned.
  "Yeah, I'm fine. It pushed me back," says Anise. The Duke slowly lets her go and she composes herself.
  "Let's see," says the Duke. He too steps into the lift-lobby, falters slightly at the threshold, then falls forward and braces himself by spreading his feet apart, standing posed at a thirty degree angle bent towards the door. The Duke presses a button on the lift panel, and the elevator doors open with a ding to reveal a dim grey-blue sky. "I think I see the problem."
  "What's going on?" asks Anise.
  "We've landed at an angle. I'm terribly sorry about this, the ship's gravity doesn't continue past the real-world interface . . . here," says the Duke, reaching back inside to offer Anise his hand. She takes it and uses it to right herself as she transitions from one gravity to the next. The door closes behind them, then the Duke steps up to stand by the edge of the second door to help Anise walk up and through it in her heels. Stepping down a foot or so onto the crunch of small pebbles and dirt under the heel of her shoes, Anise looks around and sees broken, twisted metal; discarded machines and equipment and in the distance could see tall skyscrapers, scattered across the skyline.
  "What is this place?" mutters Anise. The Duke, still locking the doors behind them, couldn't hear her. Eventually he jumps down and Anise turns back to look at him and the timeship. "Oh my god! Is that what your ship really looks like?"
The Duke turns around himself, and sees the dented, broken and slightly rusty old box. It was an elevator car, out of its shaft, with exposed bolts and rivets down the joints. After a moment, a small pair of spindle-wheels attached to the roof start to spin, in turn maneuvering mechanical joints attached to the doors, which close with a jarring, rusty, scraping sound.
  "Actually, no, the ship is camouflaged. The outer shell changes to blend into its surroundings."
  "And where would that be, exactly?"
  "Upon first impressions, I would say: a junk yard," says the Duke, approaching a pile of scrap metal. Anise follows close behind.
  "What are we doing in a junk yard?" asks Anise. The Duke kneels down and picks up a twisted piece of wiring attached to a small, broken box and inspects it closely.
  "We're in luck," says the Duke, standing up, "this is a spaceship junk yard."
  "Why is that lucky?" asks Anise.
  "Because, from the quantity and degree of scrap in this yard alone, we must be in some kind of Industrial District."
The Duke drops the scrap and walks down the makeshift path through the junk.
  "As in industry?" says Anise, "That doesn't seem lucky to me, Duke. I don't want to see industry. I want to see the future!"
  "This is the future," says the Duke, perplexed, as they round a pile of junk and head towards  large door, leading out of the yard. "Do you not want to see your people's accomplishments in the realm of interstellar travel?"
The two round a pile of sprockets, rusty metal and broken glass to find a large door, leading out of the yard.
  "No, Duke, I want to do something fun."
The Duke, stops by the large door, still looking perplexed and begins to stroke his beard with his thumb and forefinger as he thinks.
  "This will not be a wasted journey, Anise. I promise you that" says the Duke, shaking a determined, pointed finger. "I cannot allow your first experience of time travel be a negative one. Not after all you've done for me."
The Duke opens the door to the junkyard, and the two of them enter the huge, grey, industrial city of the future.

They walked through the city, its streets looked almost no different from what Anise was used to. No aliens or holograms, just streets made of tar and bitumen; street signs written in English on some corners and regular-looking buildings. The buildings were all quite tall, and looked very new with modern, artistic designs, but nothing looked especially futuristic. There were even cars parked by the road, with regular old wheels.
  "Are you sure we've travelled in time?" says Anise, "this looks like normal to me."
  "It all looks alien to me," says the Duke, "but I can guarantee you we've travelled ahead in time, at the very least, five hundred years."
  "All that time, and no flying cars . . ."
  "Look, there!" announces the Duke, marching across the road. Anise follows him to a bar near the corner, with a sign above the door naming it: Reap No Rewards. The Duke stands by the door and turns to face Anise.
  "Will this 'fun' suffice?" he says, with a smirk.
  "A nightclub that's open during the day?"
  "This is the Industrial District, Anise. The harder people work, the harder they wish to relax; even if they work the night shift. Shall we?" invites the Duke, offering Anise his elbow.
  "Well, I guess I'm dressed for it," says Anise, looping her arm through his. They step onto the doorway, but as the Duke presses against the door, an alarm flares and the entire portico flashes red. "Present Identification," orders the doorway, and a screen tucked in the side of the doorway lights up red.
  "Why do all doors hate me today?" groans Anise.
  "One moment . . ." mutters the Duke, reaching into his coat and retrieving the tuning fork-shaped device. He points it at the screen, which immediately changes to a green hue and displays the message "Enjoy Yourself" as it unlocks the door.
  "A thingy that can break into pubs? Where were you five years ago?" says Anise. They press on through the doors and all around Anise could hear the sound of the music. It sounded like some kind of Hip-Hop and Jazz remix, but the strangest part was that it wasn't all that loud, rather it was an ambient tune. To the left, the disk jockey was rocking and grooving wildly with his mixer and hearphones; in the middle was a dancefloor comprised of flashing squares of light; above was a second level where there appeared to be tables and seating & to the right was the bar.
  "So," says the Duke, only having to raise his voice slightly, "this is your trip, what would you like to do for fun?"
  "I dunno . . . how about a drink?"
The two head past other patrons up to the bar, where a red-haired bartender with a moustache and a velvet vest was serving drinks. Once the bartender spots them, he leans over the bar to talk to them.
  "What'll it be?" he says.
  "We're new here. I was wondering, how do I pay?" asks the Duke.
  "First drink on the house," says the barman.
  "Excellent," says the Duke turning to Anise, "what would you like?"
  "I want something from the future! What's your newest cocktail?" asks Anise.
  "Newest? Uh . . . a Car Battery?"
  "Yeah, that!" says Anise, turning to the Duke, "I've never heard of that before."
The barman scoops two ice-cubes in a short glass, flips up a bottle of green liqueur and adds a dash, adds a pinch of what looks like salt, some vodka, tops it up with a spray from the bar hose & finishes it off by adding a spiral of lemon skin and placing it before Anise on a napkin.
  "Careful, it smarts a bit," says the barman, before turning away to serve someone else. Anise takes a sip of the drink. Then immediately flinches, puts it down and gasps.
  "Gah!" Anise squeals.
  "What is it?"
  "It zapped me!"
  "Static electricity, it zapped my mouth."
  "Well, the drink is a battery. Didn't you see the ingredients he put into it?"
  "No," says Anise taking another sip, "it's tingly, and it tastes like lime. Do you want a sip?"
  "No, thank you. I have to pilot the ship."
  "Right . . ." says Anise, drinking another mouthful. The Duke waits patiently while she has another sip, so Anise puts the glass back on the bar. "Duke?"
  "I can drink on my own at my apartment. Is there something fun we can do together?"
  "What would you suggest?" says the Duke. Anise turns to the dancefloor.
  "Dance with me!"
  "You call that dancing?" says the Duke, looking at the other patrons gyrate, jump and jive over one another, "I don't dance like that."
  "Oh, come on! Please?" pleads Anise. The Duke looks at the dancefloor, then back to Anise.
  "Wait here a moment . . ." says the Duke, then he marches across the club, and approaches the disk jockey. The Duke taps him on the shoulder and the man peels back his hearphones. Anise finishes her drink as they finish talking, then the Duke returns to the bar.
  "May I have this dance?" asks the Duke, offering his hand.
  "Hell yes," says Anise taking his hand, and the Duke leads her onto the dancefloor. As soon as they step on the floor, the volume of the ambient music starts blaring loudly.
  "What the hell?!" yells Anise.
  "Directional sound!" the Duke yells over the din, straining his otherwise deep voice as he points up at the speakers in the ceiling. The Duke leads Anise to the centre of the dancefloor, and turns to face her just as the music ends.
  "Dancers, prancers, romancers and cancers," says the disk jockey, enthusiastically, "we're gettin' down with some gold school, from the old school. Here comes the drop! Wub-wub-wop!"
He starts the next record, which starts with remixed, electronic chirps before blaring loud, slow and deep.
  "You asked for dubstep?!" cries Anise. The Duke leans in close to her ear and speaks low so only she can hear.
  "I asked for something slower. Just follow my lead. Back and forward."
The Duke places his right hand on Anises back, and clasps her right hand in his left, level with their shoulders. The Duke steps back slowly, in time with the music, and Anise follows as they begin to rock-step back and forward in their intimate waltz.
  "Now, turn." The Duke pivots around pointing his free leg to the floor, and the Duke's coat splays outward from the momentum of the lapiz. Anise keeps in step, moving to the slow threading of the music, until the Duke raises his left arm up, holding her hand. Following his lead, Anise does a little twirl, pivoting on the toe of her shoe. When she returns to his embrace, Anise can't help but giggle as they sway side-to-side with the music turning slowly as a couple.
  "I've never danced like this before!" says Anise.
  "How do you dance?" asks the Duke.
Anise lets go of the Duke's hand and swiftly turns around in front of him. Pressing herself up against him she wiggles her hips, then as the music 'drops' again she slowly crouches down and slides back up his body. With the lightest touch, the Duke turns her by the shoulders, guiding her to turn around and face him again, then he takes her in his embrace and they return to dancing, stepping forward and back.
  "That's not my style," says the Duke.
  "It really isn't, is it?" Anise says, with a smile.
  "Step and turn." they move together, rounding the innermost circle of the dance floor, until the music intensifies for the crescendo.
  "Now, just trust me," says the Duke. Placing his hand higher on Anise's back, he braces himself, steps forward and leans in. Anise easily falls back with him and the song ends as the two stare into one another's eyes, the Duke supporting her at an angle. They hold the dipping pose for a moment, before the music starts to transition into some reggae-gospel mashup and the Duke lifts her back up straight.
Anise suddenly notices that there are a lot less people on the dancefloor, and that the dozen or so left were giving them a wide berth, making her feel sheepish.
  "Hey, let's get out of here!" Anise yells over the music.
The Duke nods sharply, and together they head for the door. They push past patrons, prattlers and partyers before making it out the door and onto the street, where it was bright and inviting in comparison. Anise turns to the Duke.
  "Well, that was . . . different."
  "Did you not enjoy yourself?" asks the Duke, concerned.
  "Oh no, I loved it! It was a lot of fun. Thank you for the dance."
  "Then whatever is the matter?"
  "The matter? I dunno . . ." says Anise, glancing down at her denim short-shorts and the stack of bracelets and bangles on her left arm. "I think I'm just not in the mood for clubbing. Like, at all."
  "Then, what do you want to do?" asks the Duke. Anise turns to the club, then looks back at the Duke and shrugs.
  "I dunno, I thought that would be more fun . . . maybe we should go back home."
  "No, not yet."
  "Well, I dunno . . . what do you want to do?" asks Anise. The Duke looks her dead in the eye.
  "I want to see you smile once more, before this journey's end. Come on." The Duke leads the way slowly down the road, and Anise walks beside him.

They head down a few streets, left and right, nearing the edge of town. As they reach the final corner, Duke peeks around the corner, then glances back at Anise.
  "This is what I want to show you," says the Duke, walking around the corner. Anise follows, curious, and as she rounds the corner, she cranes her neck upward to see the shape that stands before her.
  "Oh my god . . ." murmurs Anise. The pair of them were looking up at a spaceship. Less than a block away, the road ended and there was a tall safety fence. But past that, between the buildings either side, Anise and Duke could see part of a spaceship which stood more than twenty storeys taller than them. Most of the ship was obstructed to the left and right, but what they saw looked like an enormous, metal shark fin. From the top, lines hung down which supported several working platforms, on which Anise could see men in orange jumpsuits that looked small from this distance. Each was working on sections of the ship where the shiny, grey hull had been pulled away, and they adjusted the dark, inner workings of the ship.
At one of the higher platforms, where several men where clustered, sparks would fly out in a dazzling stream of light particles, which fell as a radiant fountain of light before being swept away in the wind.
  "When I saw this world for the first time, it was on the brink of destruction," whispers the Duke, his voice deep, sultry and mellow like caramel. "It is thanks to us that something like this is even possible . . ."
  "It's amazing . . ." mutters Anise, trying to take it all in.
  "I've seen worlds grow and peoples come together to reach out to the stars. It's an astounding leap, but still just one. Even your planet Earth will, in time, be seen as a stepping stone towards the rest of the galaxy . . ."
As they look up at the ship, Anise leans against the Duke, lying her head on his shoulder and she smiles.

After a few minutes, the pair finally start heading back down the road, towards the junk yard.
  "We'd best carry on," says the Duke, "before we draw too much attention to ourselves."
  "Yeah, I really need to get back home," mutters Anise. The Duke stops walking.
  "Back home?" says the Duke.
  "Well yeah," says Anise, stopping and turning back to look at him, "You know? My apartment."
  "But . . ." the Duke frowns deeply, "you said you wanted to go everywhere - I can take you. Anywhere you could possibly wish to go in time and space, anywhere in the universe."
  "Yeah, and right now I want to go home."
  "Why? Didn't you like it?"
  "Duke, it was amazing, really."
  "Then what?"
  "Duke, I just want to wash this stupid makeup off my face."
The Duke stops himself before he says what he was going to.
  "Oh. I apologize, I thought . . ."
  "What?" asks Anise, confused.
  "You do still want to travel with me?" asks the Duke.
  "Of course! What did you think?" says Anise. The Duke clears his throat nervously, shakes his head, then turns around and continues walking. Anise does her best to catch up to his brisk pace in her heels. They enter the junkyard and follow the path around, towards where they landed the ship.
  "I was also hoping to pack a bag or something," says Anise, "If I'm gone for a while, I might need some clothes, right? And where exactly can I sleep?"
  "Oh no . . ." says the Duke, staring off ahead. He starts running.
  "Duke?!" cries Anise, running after him. The Duke stops before a large pile of junk and starts screaming.
  "No! No no no! NO!" he yells.
  "Duke, what is it?" asks Anise, but as the Duke walks back and forth furiously over the patch of dirty on the side of the path, she looks around.
  "Where's the ship?"
  "It was in this exact position," says the Duke.
  "Oh no . . . you don't think they've scrapped it, do you?" says Anise.
  "That's impossible," says the Duke. After a moment, he stops pacing and reaches into his shirt to grab the elevator key on the chain around his neck. He holds it in his clenched fist and presses his hand to his mouth as he closes his eyes.
  "What are you doing?" asks Anise. The Duke opens his eyes and slowly lowers his hand.
  "This way. Follow me." The Duke heads back towards the junk yard exit.
  "What's going on? Where are we going?"
  "The ship, I'm linked to it intrinsically. It's not too far away, I can still sense it."
  "You know where it is?" asks Anise.
  "I don't know exactly, but I can lead us to it and, hopefully, whoever took it," says the Duke, heading out of the junk yard, Anise right behind him.
  "You think someone stole the ship? Why?"
  "The ship wouldn't move on its own."
  "No, why would someone steal it? It looks like a rusty, old elevator!"
  "There are two possible reasons. Either someone saw a 'rusty, old elevator', mostly intact, and decided to take it. Or, whoever took the ship knows that it's a spaceship and wants it for themselves . . ."

Less than four blocks away, Anise and Duke come to a part of the district occupied by warehouses and storage facilities. They come to the entrance of one facility, with a wide open gate that the Duke stops beside.
  "Why are we stopping here?"
  "If I'm right, the ship is in that complex," says the Duke, pointing to a large warehouse within the property, almost thirty metres away, with the number "88" painted on the door, three storeys high. Beside it were numbers eighty-seven and eighty-nine respectively. There were a pair of armed guards standing on front of number eighty-eight.
  "This looks bad, Duke. They've got soldiers."
  "Ship-building materials can be expensive, they're most likely just protecting their investment."
  "What are we going to do?"
  "Whatever do you mean?" asks the Duke.
  "Are we gonna sneak in and find the ship?" says Anise.
  "What? Of course not! I am the Duke of Rathea, I do not 'sneak'. Besides, this is surely a misunderstanding. I need only introduce myself and ask them for my property back."
  "What if they don't want to give it back?"
  "I will convince them."
  "Duke . . . I really don't like the look of this."
  "Anise, everything is perfectly fine," says the Duke, "but if you wish, you may remain here and I'll return momentarily."
  "Duke!" calls Anise, but he'd already left and was walking towards the warehouse. Anise crouches down and peeks past the fence as the Duke approaches the guards. The Duke salutes in greeting, and one of the men approach, raising a cautionary hand, signalling the Duke to halt. Anise couldn't hear what they said, but the Duke was gesturing politely as he explained himself. The first guard glances at the second, before holding the radio on his vest and chatting into it. He speaks for a few seconds before turning back to the Duke and raising his weapon.
Swift as a cat, the Duke grabs the weapon and elbows the guard in the face, making him collapse to the ground. The other guard runs up behind, but before the Duke can react, he jabs him in the spine with a taser. Anise gasps as the Duke yells out, then collapses to his knees, the second soldier speaks into his radio, then zaps the Duke again to make him fall flat on the ground, before three more guards come out through a small door within the larger, warehouse door. Two of the men grab the Duke under the arms and carry him into the facility while another, along with the second soldier, carry the injured guard inside.

  "No no no no . . ." mutters Anise. She watches as the door closes and starts to panic, it all happened so fast. "What do I do? What do I do . . . what can I do? Damn it, Duke!"
She looks at the scene again, it's so empty, after all that commotion. Anise was all alone. That's when Anise realizes, she's alone. The soldiers all left and the door's unguarded. Anise juggles the idea through her head, weighing up her options. There were no guards, so she could make a run for it, but where could she go? There were obviously more guards just inside the front door, she'd be running straight into trouble. Although, she considered, there might be a back door, she might just be able to save the Duke. Anise decides it's worth the risk.
Jumping up, Anise moves as quickly as she can towards the warehouse, but she couldn't run fast and was making all the noise in the world as her heels clicked loudly against concrete.
  "Stupid, stupid shoes!" Anise growls at her feet. She stops a moment to slip her shoes off her feet then, holding the heels in her hand, Anise starts sprinting barefoot towards the side of the warehouse.
As soon as she rounds the corner, she doubles over and starts panting,
  "Oh my god," she whispers hoarsely to herself, "my heart's beating so fast . . ."
She takes a moment to compose herself, then she starts scolding herself.
  "Anise, what the hell are you doing?" From around the corner, she hears the metal door clang open, and the stomp of heavy military boots as more guards step outside to take their positions. Anise holds her breath and starts tiptoeing down the side of the building very slowly, before speeding up to a fast walk, breathing low. It's only after she'd walked halfway down the side of the warehouse, about fifty metres, that she allowed herself to take a full breath again.
  "Oh my god. That was so close," she murmurs to herself. She looks up at the warehouse. The entire side of the building looked impenetrable. There was a roller door or two, but she couldn't risk opening it, as it would make too much noise, "Damn it, Duke. Why'd you have to go and get kidnapped?"
As she walks further, she comes across a door cut into the wall. Carefully, she tries to turn the knob, but it's locked. Anise sighs loudly.
  "I've snuck into clubs since I was fifteen years old," she says, as she continues down the side of the building, "there is always a back way in."
She reaches the back corner, and carefully peeks around the edge. There's no one there, but just around the corner she can see a camera bolted onto the wall. She pulls back when she sees it, then slowly peeks around again. It wasn't facing her, rather it was pointed back in at the rear wall.
  "What the . . ." Anise steps out, and can see that the camera is pointed towards a door at the back of the warehouse. The camera wasn't moving at all, so she takes a few steps closer. It was held out a metre from the wall on a little metal bracket, with a wire leading from the camera into the wall. It was bolted in three metres up the wall, she couldn't reach it. If she dared walk past it, someone would see her on the camera.
  "Why do all doors hate me, today?" Anise whines. She just wished she had a rock or something to throw at it. "Oh, right!" exclaims Anise, holding up her high-heeled shoes. She steps back so that she's about two metres away from the doorway. She takes a shoe in each hand and lines up to throw with her good arm.
  "Bloody shoes are useless anyway," she says, pelting the shoe. It sails high and misses by a few inches. It hits the ground ten metres away and clatters along the ground. "Come on . . ." Anise pleads.
She takes a step closer, aims the shoe and pegs it right at the camera. Twang! The camera swivels sharply around to the left as the shoe glances it, then the shoe bounces off the wall and also falls to the ground. It wasn't as good a shot as she hoped, but it looked like the camera wasn't pointed directly at the door anymore, so Anise takes the opportunity before someone comes to check on the camera. She runs up and slowly turns the doorknob. It turns freely and Anise sighs with relief.
Slowly, she opens the door to peek inside. Just through the door, all along the right wall, there was a large stack of metal shelving, which reached up two storeys tall. And continuing from there, more shelves continued parallel along the entire warehouse, each stretching from the front to the back, like a giant grocery store. But on each shelf, there wasn't fruit or vegetables. Stacked neatly together, each shelf held large wooden crates, metal canisters and glass cases, mixed intermittently with all manner of strange-looking devices that Anise couldn't recognize at all, which varied in size, shape and colour. Down the nearest row, almost halfway along the shelf, Anise saw men in white lab coats, wearing orange safety helmets, using a forklift to place a crate onto one of the higher shelves. None of them were looking in her direction, so she quickly sneaks inside, closes the door behind her and crouches down at the end of the shelf. Luckily, no one saw her.
  "Alright, Duke. Where have they taken you?"

The Duke is slammed backwards into a chair, with two soldiers holding him down as they strapped him into the leather restraints on the chair. The Duke struggles, but he was still in pain from the electric shock. He was in a small room, six by four metres, with square, metre-wide sections of prefabricated walls that where stuck together with a ceiling made of cheap wooden panels.
  "What is the meaning of this?!" cries the Duke. Neither of the soldiers speak, they just secure his arms, then strap in his legs. "I am the DUKE of RATHEA! You will respond when I speak, soldier!"
  "Back off," says a soldier. Duke didn't understand what he meant, until the two soldiers back away and one of them jabs a taser in his neck.
  "Argh!" screams the Duke, flinching with the shock, then slumping back in the chair from pain and exhaustion. The two guards finish strapping him in, then stand back and point their guns at him.
  "Release me," growls the Duke through clenched teeth, "at once."
Neither of the soldiers answer, they just patiently point their guns at him. The Duke sees a desk in the far corner, study chairs and a shelf full of office binders and books. As he breathes slowly, trying to shift the pain in his muscles, the door opens and a doctor walks into the room.
  "What's this?" asks the doctor, looking confused. "Report, soldier."
  "We were approached by this subject," says the nearest soldier, still pointing his gun and staring daggers at the duke, "he walked right up to the front gate and claimed that we had taken his property."
  "No," mutters the doctor, "that's impossible."
  "I am not a liar . . ." says the Duke slowly.
  "He looks like hell . . ." says the doctor.
  "He resisted," replies the soldier with the taser.
  "Will someone address me when I speak?!" yells the Duke.
  "Yes," says the doctor, moving closer to stand a metre away from the Duke, "I'm Doctor MacDonald, what is your name?"
  "I am the Duke."
  "Alright, Duke. What are you doing here?" asks the doctor.
  "These men attacked, then captured me. I wish to be released."
  "I'm afraid I can't do that," says Dr MacDonald.
  "Why not?" demands the Duke.
  "Protocol. We can't let you go until you've been cleared."
  "Cleared? You steal my property, assault me, seize me against my will and restrain me, then expect me to cooperate?!"
  "Yes. You say 'your property'?"
  "The elevator from the junkyard. I know you've taken it."
  The doctor gasps, "Our latest acquisition?"
  "Yes!" barks the Duke, "return to me my property!"
The doctor steps forward and places a hand on the Duke's forehead. The Duke yanks his head back, frowning.
  "What are you doing?" the Duke demands.
  "No way . . ." the doctor mutters to himself. He grabs part of the Duke's arm, behind the restraint, making the Duke flinch. Dr MacDonald asks "Where are you from?"
  "Let go of me!" yells the Duke. The doctor then places a hand on the Duke's chest. His eyes go wide, and he recoils in horror.
  "Oh my god!" he cries, shaking his hand as though flicking off dirty water, "he is an alien!"
The soldiers step forward, pointing their guns more menacingly.
  "He looks so . . . human," Dr MacDonald whimpers, "oh my god . . ."

Anise peeks down the second row of shelves. There's no one there, so she heads down the aisle, being sure to make as little sound as possible with her feet. She looks at some of the items along the shelf. Each crate or container had a small index card attached to it, so Anise stepped closer to the nearest one to take a look. It read:
Position: 002.011.003
Identification: Nanite Gel
Index #: 7855.600
WARNING! - Hazardous Material
  "Nanite gel?" Anise whispers. She steps along to see a glass jar filled with some kind of blue sand, and reads its card as well, "Psychic Spectrum Narcotic. Warning: addictive."
She looks at the next item, it didn't have an index card, rather it looked like a small white cube with sides made out of glass. Next to it was a metal briefcase which the index card identified as an "Accumulative Energy Weapon". Next to that was a large crate which was labelled "Remote Dialling Device".
  "What is all of this stuff?" Anise asks, staring at the strange collection. She stops in front of a shelf with just a small orange stone sitting there, with no index card. A bright blue light was glowing inside of it. Anise reaches over and picks it up. "They haven't labelled everything . . ."
Suddenly, the stone cracks between her fingers. Anise gasps, as it cuts her hand and she drops the sharp pieces of stone on the floor, which shatter into tiny, orange pieces, no longer glowing.
  "Damn it . . ." she murmurs, looking at the small cut on her palm. Suddenly, Anise hears the sound of the forklift alarm, a steady beep which warned other workers that the vehicle was in motion, and it was getting louder. Anise glances left and right, but there was no quick way out along the aisle. There were also small pieces of what looked like orange glass all over the floor and she had bare feet, she couldn't risk cutting herself on it. Looking at the shelves before her, Anise saw only one option. She started to climb up, shelf by shelf, shimmying across using crates as half-steps to lift herself up from one level to the next. The rack was was 12 shelves high, and Anise climbed as quickly as she could, hoping she could get to the top before they spotted her.

Dr MacDonald stares at the Duke, both appalled and intrigued,
  "You haven't alerted Hector Two?" MacDonald asks, glancing at one of the soldiers. "Why not?"
  "We're safeguarding the hostile," says one of the soldiers.
  "I am not hostile, I'm agitated," says the Duke.
  "He's strapped to a chair," says MacDonald. "He's not going anywhere. Go now and alert them to the situation."
  "Protocol, sir," says the second soldier, "any potential hostile must be kept under armed guard."
  "Protocol also says to report back any alien encounters," says MacDonald matter-of-factly. The guards glance at each other, one of them nods and they both lower their weapons and one of them takes a small firearm from his belt.
  "Doctor MacDonald, you're to keep a close eye on the prisoner until we return. If he cannot be contained, shoot him," he says, handing the doctor the gun. The guards then leave the same way they came in. Once they're gone, the doctor grabs the study chair, places it in front of the Duke and sits down, pointing the gun with one hand resting on his knee as he faces him.
  "Why am I being held prisoner?" asks the Duke.
  "We're defending ourselves," says MacDonald, "so don't do anything stupid, I won't hesitate to shoot you."
  "You would kill an unarmed man?"
  "If I have to," MacDonald says grimly.
  "I have done nothing wrong."
  "You invaded our planet."
  "That is utterly ridiculous," says the Duke, sounding tired.
  "Then why did you come here?"
  "What planet did you come from?"
  "This one."
  MacDonald lifts the gun and points it at the Duke's head. "Don't lie to me," says the doctor, pressing the tip of the gun between the Duke's eyebrows.
"You may wear human skin, but underneath you're all alien."
  "You can't just shoot me," says the Duke, speaking low and serious as he stares directly into the doctor's eyes.
  "Can't I? You're not human. You don't have any rights on this planet."
  "You'd kill me for being an alien?"
  "I'll do what I have to, to protect humanity," says the doctor, sitting back in his chair, pointing the gun from his lap. The Duke takes a deep breath.
  "What if the only way to protect humanity, was to trust an alien? What if you had to let me go, to save your people?" asks the Duke. MacDonald smirks.
  "Then I guess we're doomed."

Once she reaches the end of the shelf rack, Anise peeks over the end, and off to the left she can see a group of workers crowded around a large, rectangular box that was dented, rusty, old and undoubtedly the Duke's timeship. Surrounding the workers were two more soldiers with guns.
  "There's the Elevator," Anise says to herself, "now, where's Duke?"
To the right, Anise sees some kind of warehouse office, a little room built into the corner of the complex, with windows and a door. Not far from the office, she could even see the little door cut into the bigger sliding door that the Duke had been taken through in the first place. She figured he was in the office. A loud whirring noise draws her attention back to the timeship, and as she watches, some of the workers approach the ship with a circular, metal-cutting saw, loudly spinning. The worker presses the blade to one of the doors and sparks go flying everywhere with a buzzing, grinding sound.
  "They're trying to get inside? Oh damn . . ." Anise moves back from the edge and turns back along the shelf. "Okay, you got all this way, Anise. Now, how do you get in there?"
She couldn't do anything from on top of the shelf, but if she climbed down, the warehouse workers would see her. She couldn't just jump down, she'd get caught. Anise sits down cross-legged, and stares off into space, wondering what she could possibly do. But as she does, a thought comes to the forefront of her mind. It was an image of the Duke, a memory of him running out the door of his own ship and falling through the sky, with an alien ship chasing him. A moment when the Duke had risked his life to save the planet, and her.
  "You risked your life to save me . . ." says Anise, standing up, "I owe you at least that much."
She glances back along the top of the shelf, when another idea hits her. There was so much weird technology on the shelves, perhaps something could help. Anise starts creeping along the top of the rack again, leaning down to read the index cards as she goes along.
  "Amended Reality Goggles, no . . . Medical Hand Device, definitely not . . ."
she passes by a dozen items before she comes to a device without a label, lying on the shelf that makes her stop still. It looked an awful lot like a child's water gun, except it was made of metal, had sharper details and had a row of orange lights along the barrel. Anise picks it up and it isn't too heavy, but it looked like a pretty menacing weapon. "Yeah, this might work."
After making sure the aisle was clear, Anise tucks the device under her arm and climbs down the side of the shelf. It takes a little while with the thing under her arm, but she manages to make it to the ground. On the ground, she finds what looks like the trigger, grabs it, then holds the thing with two hands trying to imitate what she'd seen on television.
After taking a deep breath and psyching herself up, Anise heads to the end of the aisle and peeks around the corner. She could see the warehouse staff were still working on opening up the timeship, but no one else was around. The office was just ten meters away.
  "Here we go . . ." Anise tells herself, but when she tries to move, her muscles tense up and can't move. "No, damn it . . . come on, come on, you can do this. You've come this far." but Anise was so scared, she couldn't move.
"Come on! He'd do it for you . . ." Anise takes three sharp breaths, then like a coiled spring, she leaps out from behind the shelf. Feet slapping against the ground, she bursts into the office and points the barrel of the device at the first man she finds, a doctor sitting in a study chair.
  "Get back!" Anise yells, "I've got a gun!"
The doctor drops his gun on the floor, then stands up, hands raised. Anise sees the Duke strapped to a chair.
  "Anise?" the Duke says, surprised.
  "Hey, Duke," says Anise, "I'm here to rescue you."
  "I see that," says the Duke, "could you unstrap me from this chair?"
  "Hmm? Oh, right . . ." says Anise, stepping over to the chair. Balancing the gun with her trigger hand, she unclasps the strap on one of the Duke's hands.
  "Are you alright?" she asks pointing the gun at the doctor.
  "I've felt worse," says the Duke, as he then proceeds to undo the rest of the straps himself.
  "You can't stop us," the doctor pipes up, "humanity will rise up against you. We will not bow to extra-terrestrial masters."
  "What's he on about?" asks Anise.
  "He thinks we're alien invaders," says the Duke standing up. "Now, please, be very careful with that thing. It's dangerous."
  "It's a gun, Duke. It's supposed to be dangerous."
  "That is not a gun," says the Duke.
  "Not a gun?" says Dr MacDonald from the far side of the room, with a cruel smirk on his face. He dives to the floor, reaching for the firearm he dropped.
  "No!" screams Anise, squeezing the trigger. A clear-blue gel explodes from the end of the device in Anise's hands, spraying all over the doctor. He groans and moans, but can't scream as the gel covers him head to foot. He struggles, but his movements become slower and slower until, with a light crackling sound, the gel hardens and the doctor stops, completely still.
  "Oh my god. Is he dead?"
  "No," says the Duke, "but he's probably in an awful lot of pain."
  "You said it wasn't a gun!"
  "It's not a gun. It's a delivery mechanism for a high-density coolant, designed to cut off the oxygen supply to a flame and then seal any heat damage."
  " . . . it's a fire extinguisher?" says Anise, placing it on the chair.
  "Exactly. Where did you find such a thing?"
  "The warehouse. This entire building is stacked to the brim with freaky technology. They've even got the Elevator."
  "The what?"
  "You know, your timeship," says Anise, pointing out the office windows at the ship.
  "Oh, right. 'Elevator', I understand."
  "We've got to stop them. They're trying to get inside."
  "They'll never get inside without the key," says the Duke, "but we will have to get past them."
  "How?" asks Anise. The Duke slowly steps over to the window and looks out at the warehouse.
  "Duke, are you sure you're alright?" asks Anise, "I saw them take you, it looked rough."
  "I'm recovering quickly," says the Duke, looking out the window. "It will take more than that to kill me."
  "Okay then. But how will we get out of here?"
  "Anise, this entire facility is filled with alien technology."
  "It's all alien? I thought it was just futuristic."
  "No. From what the doctor says, I fear they've been stockpiling it all in an attempt to defend this planet from aliens."
  "Well, how did they get so much of it?"
  "There's an awful lot of alien technology on this planet, scattered all over the place, for reasons I couldn't care to guess. These people have just collected a lot of it in one place."
  "What are we going to do about it?" asks Anise.
  "Isn't it obvious?" asks the Duke, turning back to her, "I'm an alien."
  "Yeah, I know, so what?"
  "Anise, this warehouse is full of dangerous technology, and I know how to use it . . ."

The Duke pulls the laser spanner from his pocket and fiddles with it as he peeks through the door.
  "What are we going to do?" asks Anise.
  "I'm going to acquire some technology I can use, and activate it. However, it may take some time and the guards could discover me. To avoid that, I'm afraid I'll need you to deviate their attention."
  "And how will I do that?" asks Anise.
  "You're a beautiful woman, I'm sure they'll find you distracting."
  "Is that a compliment?"
  "It is an accurate assessment," the Duke replies. "Just be sure they're looking away from the shelves, and when I return . . . brace yourself."
  "Brace myself for what?"
  "I don't know yet, I can't predict what alien technology I'll find useful. So, be ready for anything."
  "Right . . ."
  "As soon as you're prepared, head out there and get their attention."
  "Alright then," says Anise. She lets takes a deep breath and clears her throat. Then she exhales. Then she takes another breath.
  "What are you doing?" asks the Duke.
  "I'm not ready yet. I'm just," Anise exhales, "getting ready."
  "The sooner the better."
  "Alright! I'm going," says Anise, heading out the door. She waves and calls at the warehouse staff. "Hello?! Excuse me? Can I get some help, please?!"
Immediately, the guards move to intercept. The workers, who were using a laser cutter on the doors, also turn to see what's causing the commotion.
  "Hey, I'm a little lost. Can someone tell me what year this is?!" Anise calls out. The soldiers stand a little way back, guns raised. Anise screams as loud as she can, "DON'T SHOOT ME! I'M UNARMED!"
  "Get on the ground," says one of the guards.
  "Oh my god! Why are you pointing guns at me!" screams Anise, putting her hands up, "I've never even broken the law before! Except maybe drink-driving, but who hasn't done that, right?"
  "Calm down and get on the ground." commands the soldier.
  "Okay, okay okay . . . okay," says Anise quietly, kneeling down. "Where the hell are you, Duke?"
  "Lie down, on the ground," says a soldier, stepping closer.
  "I can't, I've got my hands up."
  "Put your hands down."
  "You told me to put my hands up!"
  "I gave no such order. Now, put your hands down."
  "Leave her alone!" calls the Duke, as he steps out from behind the shelves. The soldiers point their weapons at him, and Anise back turns to see him as well. In his hands, he held a strange box. It looked like a part from a car, with exposed belts, a radiator grill and even a small exhaust fan, the only thing that looked alien was the space in the middle, where a small ball of white lightning was suspended within the machine. The duke was holding the machine with one hand, by a handle on the left side and pointing his laser spanner at it with the other. It would have been impossible to hold from that angle, so it was obvious that the machine was supporting its own weight somehow, to suspend itself in the air.
  "Open fire!" yells a soldier. Anise screams as they fire their weapons at the Duke, but he doesn't flinch. He stands unharmed, but as the bullets fly the lightning ball starts to pulse wildly. After a moment, the gunfire stops, and the room is silent except for the low humm of the machine. The lightning ball returns to its normal state.
  "Do you know what this is?" says the Duke, with a wide grin on his face. "This is a Gravity Engine. All I have to do is adjust this spanner here, and I can turn 'up' into down. So do as I say, and everyone can keep their feet on the ground."
After a moment, the soldiers lower their weapons and the warehouse staff all look around nervously.
  "Duke, it's about time," says Anise, standing up and running over to him.
  "I thought I was quite expedient, considering how hard it is to turn over a Gravity Engine," says the Duke. "Now, everyone! Move away from the elevator!"
The staff and soldiers do as he says, clearing the way into the ship.
  "Alright . . ." the Duke says quietly, so only Anise can hear, "now, wrap your arms around me."
  "Excuse me?"
  "We can't let these people keep all of this technology, they are much too dangerous. Wrap your arms around me, and hold on tight  . . ." says The Duke. He raises his right arm, holding the spanner, and Anise grabs him in a tight hug. "Now, just trust me."
The Duke jabs the gravity engine with the laser spanner, and the world turns. Everything shifts to a forty-five degree angle, sending the staff and soldiers tumbling away to the far wall. After some creaking and groaning, all of the shelves tip over as well, spilling crates, containers and alien technology to the floor. Things crash and shatter, and some things even explode as strange technology breaks, activates or malfunctions. Even the timeship starts to slide along the ground.
Before the ship slides too far, The Duke adjusts the engine, putting gravity upright again, then removes the spanner, making the ball of lightning disappear and the gravity engine stops floating to fall down by his side.
  "Quickly! To the ship!" yells the Duke, pointing the laser spanner at the timeship. The doors slide open with a ding, and Anise makes a run for it with the Duke following after. Things continues to leak, blow smoke, disappear and explode as more crates break open and the contents of glass containers spill out on the floor. Anise runs inside the ship, stopping herself against the second door. She bangs it with her hand, before turning back to the Duke.
  "Come on! Open the door!" she yells. The Duke makes it in after her, opens the panel and retrieves his key. He unlocks it, it slides open and the two run inside, the door closing shortly after them.
  "Finally! Let's get out of here!" says Anise.
  "My sentiments exactly," says the Duke, placing the gravity engine on the ground. He presses one button on the console, then pulls the starter lever. Anise braces herself, feet wide apart, as the centre column slides up and down and the entire ship rumbles, groans, sways and makes a ruckus, with it's familiar sharp, rhythmic, grinding sound. They fly through Space and Time, then the Duke replaces the lever and they finally stop with a deep thud.
Anise stands up straight, and starts to chuckle to herself.
  "What's so funny?" asks the Duke.
  "We made it!" says Anise, running over. She grabs him in a hug.
  "Are you alright?"
  "Of course. That was insane. I can't believe I did that!"
The Duke grabs her by the shoulders and pulls her off of him, but then holds her at arm's length to look into her eyes.
  "You did well," says the Duke.
  "It was incredible," says Anise, with a smile, "and we got away just in time."
  "This is a time machine, Miss Trevino," says the Duke, "it does everything just in time. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but you wanted to go home to wash off your makeup, yes?"
  "Yeah, I guess I did," says Anise.
  "Right . . ." says the Duke, turning to the console, "I'll just have to point us in the right direction, then." Anise steps back as he fiddles with the controls.
  "Wait. We're not back home? But I thought we left the future."
  "We did," says the Duke.
  "Well, then, where are we now?" asks Anise, looking to the door. "What's out there?"
  "At the moment? We're just floating in space," says the Duke, "there's nothing out there."
Just then, from behind the doors, Anise hears a small mechanical voice. It was muffled, but she could hear it say 'Console Room'. Then, the doors slide open to reveal a policeman. He steps out into the console room to reveal a yellow high-visibility vest, policeman's cap and full kit with radio, taser and everything.
  "Where did you come from?" asks the Duke. The cop looks over at the Duke and points an accusing finger at him.
  "You!" the man shouts, marching towards him, "I'm Inspector Chester Franklin Edison, and I want to know what the hell is going on here!"

Monday, 5 August 2013

Battle Report: The Trials of Unit I-109

22/04/48 09:04:56
. . . Unit: i10.9
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) SYSTEMS – 100.0%
POWER – 100.0%
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: function>
. . .
sysprep.zsp(100) Entering SADSysPrepRestore
sysprep.zsp(011) WARNING: Asimov1BRCustomSercurity – FuncTSWeaponList.LockAndLoad ARMED.
sysprep.zsp(010) engaging function: /SEARCH&DESTROY.ord
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(101001) SEARCH PATTERN ALPHA
. . . area: 38S 447264 3688385
. . . area: 38S 439509 3688430
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) QUERY: identify subject>
subject: enemy
. . .
TARGETTING . . . FuncTSWeaponList.amf FIRED
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) SYSTEMS – 100.0%
POWER – 087.8%
. . . CASUALTIES – 39
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(101001) SEARCH PATTERN ALPHA
. . . area: 38S 439509 3688430
. . . area: 38S 438707 3684246
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) QUERY: identify subject>
WARNING: subject: enemy \armed
WARNING: taking damage . . .
WARNING: shut down imminent
logmsg.zsp(000) . . .

23/04/48 21:05:04
. . . Unit: i10.9
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) SYSTEMS – 98.9%
POWER – 100.0%
. . .
sysprep.zsp(101) engaging function: /FuncTSWeaponList.NightVision ARMED
sysprep.zsp(010) engaging function: /SEARCH&DESTROY.ord
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(101010) SEARCH PATTERN BETA
. . . area: 38S 442442 3688763
. . . area: 38S 438613 3693948
. . . area: 38S 443359 3679321
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) QUERY: identify subject>
WARNING: subject: enemy \armed
. . .
TARGETTING . . . FuncTactical.amf FIRED
WARNING: taking damage . . .
TARGETTING . . . FuncTactical.ara FIRED
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) SYSTEMS – 083.3%
POWER – 074.9%
. . . CASUALTIES – 103
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(101100) SEARCH PATTERN GAMMA
. . . area: 38S 449623 3694532
. . . area: 38S 428697 3680650
. . . area: 38S 444151 3686554
. . . area: 38S 450338 3682825
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: function>
. . .
sysprep.zsp(010) engaging function: /RETURN&RECHARGE.ord
logmsg.zsp(000) . . .

24/04/48 09:05:01
. . . Unit: i10.9
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) SYSTEMS – 95.4% . . . SATISFACTORY
POWER – 100.0%
. . .
sysprep.zsp(010) engaging function: /SEARCH&DESTROY.ord
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(101001) SEARCH PATTERN DELTA
. . . area: 38S 440307 3692679
. . . area: 38S 446204 3687466
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) QUERY: identify subject>
subject: harmless
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(100011) SEARCH PATTERN DELTA
. . . area: 38S 438707 3684246
. . .
. . . area: 38S 433949 3684493
. . . area: 38S 438613 3693948
. . .
. . . area: 38S 448439 3689483
Ai.sys.zsp(100011) SEARCH PATTERN DELTA
. . . area: 38S 444151 3686554
. . . area: 38S 450338 3682825
. . .
. . . area: 38R 434452 3464902
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: function>
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(100011) SEARCH PATTERN DELTA
. . . area: 38S 445092 3697451
. . . area: 37S 567447 4254179
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: function>
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(100011) SEARCH PATTERN DELTA
. . . area: 37S 478143 3942815
WARNING: shut down imminent
logmsg.zsp(000) . . .

25/04/48 18:16:05
. . . Unit: i10.9
Ai.sys.zsp(001011) SYSTEMS – 027.0%
POWER – 004.4%
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: function>
ERROR . . .
. . .
sysprep.zsp(100) ERROR SADSysPrepRestore FAILED
. . . ERROR
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: function>
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: purpose>
. . .
. . .
Ai.sys.zsp(110001) QUERY: meaning>
. . .
logmsg.zsp(000) . . .

Friday, 2 August 2013

It All Ads Up

Urgh . . . I am bone dry. I have been working so hard on, let's say other projects, so much that I don't really have a word today. It's difficult coming up with blog posts when I'm spending so much time doing other things.
Which is why I am thankful for my backlog. I'm not going to lie, I am only writing this post because it is easy to write, which is handy on days like today when I don't have as much time to myself as I would like.
So today, I'm thinking about advertising. Because it's a huge business; a sizeable chunk of the economy and is probably the most pervasive industry of the modern era. But despite these claims to fame, a lot of advertising really sucks.
The Word of the Day is: 'ADVERTISEMENT'

Advertisement /'advertəsmənt/ n. Any public notice, as in a newspaper, or on television or radio, intended to increase sales, fill jobs, etc.

Advertising is a huge freaking industry, so I can't cover everything from animated spam to door-knock appeals. Instead, I am concerned more with 'ads'. Those short films, often about a minute long - that you usually see on television amidst and between the actual content - that try to convince you to buy things. I should first warn you that I live in Australia, so I probably haven't seen most of the ads that you've seen and vice versa. To make up for that, I'll link to any ads that I mention (where possible) and it also means that I most likely won't know what you're talking about if you leave me a comment referencing an ad that you've seen, so keep that in mind.

Now, I see an awful lot of advertising, but as a cynical man I can't help rolling my eyes and groaning when I see most advertisements. Not because I don't like them, but because every time, I have two very important questions in my mind:

"When will the show finally come back on?" & "Why would anyone be convinced by this?"

Sure, there are a lot of idiots in the world, but that doesn't explain why over 50% of advertising is so bad. They make so many mistakes that in little over an hour I got a notepad and collected many of them into a list. Then, because order makes me feel safe and comfortable, I organized them in a scale of annoyance from 10 to 1, where 10 is equivalent to "a minor bother" and 1 is equivalent to "fuck you". So, for your entertainment (and, perhaps, the advertisers' benefit) allow me to present to you:

The A.W.N.'s Top 10 List of Things that Advertisers Don't Seem to Understand

10. You Are Giving Me Free Entertainment
One of the ways advertisers try to sell product is to tell fun little stories or jokes with their ads. Almost like they're making a short film, but with the credits replaced with slogans and a brand name. One of my favourite of these short films is a promo for the 'Origin Edition' of XXXX brand beer, as a tie in to the State of Origin footy game. I admit, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I find this ad hilarious. However, I don't drink beer, and will never buy it because it all tastes like fizzy dishwater to me. Rather, I just watch the ad and enjoy all the positives, without the negative of having to spend money on something I would have otherwise ignored.
But it's not just products I don't like, a lot of ads don't seem to relate directly to the product at all. My favourite one is dogs. A lot of advertising uses cute little puppies to sell their products (especially toilet paper for some reason); but when I see a puppy on my television, I'm not thinking 'Hmm, we're running low on poo-tickets,' so much as 'Oh my god DEY SO KYOOT!'. Even though I enjoy the ad, I don't feel a need to buy the product because I don't feel like my positive reaction has anything to do with the product. So, if you think about it, the only person that this kind of advertising works for is the person that already wants to buy said product. For everyone else, it's just a joke or a cute little puppy dog to "squee" over, then their eyes glaze over while the jingle ends and you meekly try to shill your wares.

09. Good Comedy
A lot of ads have bad jokes, granted. But more than that, do you know the key to good comedy? Timing. You need to know the pace and flow of your narrative to know when best to deliver the punch line. Further intrinsic to comedic timing is also knowing when is the best time to tell a joke at all. Even a comic legend will find times when it's better to leave a joke unsaid. To this concept, many advertisers are blind and in my experience the latest offender is Reflex, a brand of paper. I would consider this ad 'free entertainment' like the XXXX 'Origin Edition' ad, except that it's too baffling to me. It's a comedy routine about an awkward, faux-zen paper delivery man . . . but why?
The paper they're promoting is 50% recycled. Surely the ad should be about that. Instead they've scrapped informing people and instead chosen to tell a joke. What is the point? The better example would be an ad I saw for life insurance where there was a joke at the expense of the characters in the ad. Unfortunately, I can't remember which insurance company the ad represented, so I can't find it again (and I know that it's real, because I saw it more than four times), but surely you can understand why this is a bad idea. I think you can make a joke about anything, but your forthcoming and inevitable death and how it will devastate your family emotionally and financially isn't something you joke about if you want people to buy your product. Otherwise, you're an idiot.

08. I Know What Words Mean
Sometimes, advertising lies to you. That is wrong, morally and legally. So, one of the ways that advertising gets around that is by telling the truth in a misleading way. Let me show you.
Coco Pops is amazing for this kind of thing. There's an advert that I will never forget wherein an old kid's TV show presenter came on with the claim:
"One bowl of Kellogs Coco Pops contains half of a quarter of a Child's Daily calcium needs"
Okay, what? Half of a quarter is an eighth, 20%. I did research, a growing child needs about 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, one eighth of which is  200 milligrams. There's approximately 300 grams of calcium in one cup of milk, and according to the box, one serve of Coco Pops includes the milk. That my friends, is how you lie to people without lying.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the advertisement in question. But in my search, instead I found this fun advertisement for Kellog's Choc'n'Roll Coco Pops, which I 'd never seen before but proves my point excellently. In the ad, it says the cereal is "now made with fibre and wholegrains". First of all, wholegrains have dietary fibre in them, saying something has "fibre and wholegrains" is like saying that french fries are made with "potato and vegetables". Secondly, most cereal (if not all, I'm no scientist) has dietary fibre in it, that's kind of the reason why cereal is good for breakfast. It's equivalent to selling a car by saying "It has wheels" - It's supposed to have wheels! And cereal is supposed to have fibre in it! Otherwise it's not cereal, it's cardboard.

07. CGI Product Demonstrations Show Nothing
I want you to watch this: It's a Product Demonstration for Ross Nanotechnology's NeverWet Spray. That is amazing to me, not just because it is truly a spectacle, but because it is a product demonstration that actually demonstrates the product.
These days, it seems like all product demonstrations are made with CGI. This started happening a few years ago, but back then at least it made some kind of sense, like with this advertisement for Panadol with "Optizorb". It's designed to demonstrate how the product works, and it's better than using a proper demonstration, since otherwise it would require shoving a camera down someone's throat. But it doesn't stop the fact that, it's a computer-generated image and NOT the actual product you're selling.
But that hasn't stopped hygeine and bathroom products from going insane with this CGI bullshit. Here's an ad for Macleans Advanced "Enamelock" toothpaste. Here's one for Panteine Pro-V Shampoo. Here's one for Finish Dishwashing Tablets. One for Oust 3 in 1 Air Cleanser. Here's Vanish NapiSan Oxi Action Washing Powder.
Hell, there's even one for deodorant! Oh, I'm sorry, I mean Nivea Calm & Case Anti-Perspirant, which uses witch herbs to magically heal your skin.
My absolute favourite has to be this one for the Sabco Wonder Mop. Watch closely, you only see the real mop twice. Once when the woman walks out, and the second time when they're wringing it out into a bucket. But every time you see it "clean", that's a CG mop. Why can't you show the real mop?! It's almost like some of these products don't actually work, but you're covering up that fact using smoke, mirrors and a special effects budget.

06. I Can Tell When Ads get Shorter
At time of writing, there's an ad on television that confuses me, an ad for Mars Bars, and it looks like this. If you're wondering why the video started at the 9 second mark - well that's how the ad plays on television. Until I found that video, I had no idea what the beginning of the ad looked like.
The reason why this kind of thing is done is simple, advertisers pay a lot of money to get their ads on television, so television executives prefer shorter ads so they can fit more ads in the one advertising block and get more advertisers to pay them for it.
But since advertising is expensive rather than shoot another ad that's shorter, or pay an editor, it seems that they force some TV intern to edit down existing ads, leaving half of the footage on the cutting room floor. Like this here advertisement for Skittles. It's funny and a bit weird, but apparently that's what Skittles is going for with its latest campaign.
However, here is another version of the same ad, shortened [it took me ages to find, so I hope you appreciate it]. This shortened version bugs me, because it changes the joke. I understand they want shorter ads, but do they have to do so by butchering the creator's original message?
Sure, all advertising is about making money, I get that, but I think of it like a magic trick. I like magic tricks, because I can be surprised, and pretend for a moment that magic is real, even though I know it's not; but if I can see the card up the magician's sleeve, then I come crashing back to reality. So while I know it's all about Capitalism, but I like to pretend I live in a world where people just like to show off how awesome their products are, out of the goodness of their own heart, even though I know I don't. But when you hack these ads up like thanksgiving turkey, the illusion wears thin and I start to see the cogs of the Capitalist Soul-Sucking Money Machine, that keeps advertising going, and I feel a little bit sadder.

05. You Can't Make Me Watch Your Ads
When I watch television, during the ad breaks I often go off to make a sandwich, pee or get a drink of water while the ads play. Not always, but the option is always there, however on a computer it's a different story.
If you've clicked on some of the links I've provided, you've seen what I mean. Even though all of these videos are ads, they put another ad in front of it! Thankfully, Youtube includes a Skip button and I use it every time because I'm here to watch my video, not your damn ads.
However, other sites with embedded videos don't always include a Skip feature. But I don't know why, because I don't watch those ads either. I mute it and do something else until the video starts like organize my story folder. One time, I was watching a "Let's Play" video, the player wouldn't let me mute the video while the ad was playing. I was so insulted, I turned my speakers off. I am an intelligent man with free will - you can't force me to watch your ads. In fact, ramming them down my throat like this produces an antagonistic relationship between me and advertising.
The worst example of this is DVDs. Every DVD I've bought in the last 6 months has started with a reel of movie trailers that I can't skip. Why?!
I put the disk in the player now because I want to watch it now, advertising just delays that. And these ads will all be outdated in a year or so, since they're usually Coming Soon promos, so I couldn't "See it in Theaters this June" even if I wanted to!
The worst part is, they're ads for movies, and I like movies! If you just put the trailers on the disk somewhere, I'll hunt it down myself and watch it willingly. If you stopped shoving advertising down my throat all the time, I might actually want to watch it.

04. The Importance of Credits
I like movies, I like television shows and I like short films on the internet. It's just a symptom of my overall love of stories, writing and fiction. I've even dabbled in some film-making myself (mostly amateur scripting and behind-the-scenes stuff) so I appreciate not only the stories in films, but also the amount of effort undertaken to bring as little as one minute of footage to the screen.
So, I get nothing short of appalled at advertising's lack of respect for film. I like to watch the credits, for a few reasons. Firstly, it gives me a moment to reminisce on the film I just watched, I can mull it over in my mind, consider in greater detail the moments I appreciated. I can even contrive ways in which to recreate my favourite moments within my own stories (in a different way, of course). Sometimes, I just like watching the credits to find "superheroes" - you know, people with alliterative first and last names (like Peter Parker, Christopher Columbus, Danny Devito, Clark Kent - that kind of thing).
The point is, I like credits. So it pisses me off when television channels keep doing this. I dare you to read some of the names of the people in TV credits these days, because even when I'm watching it on our HD TV, I can't make any of it out. They take the credits and crush them into a tiny box, and I shake my head in shame. Every person who worked on that movie deserves to be known.
When I like a song or the action or the other stuff, I'll look for their Composer or Musician within the credits, and look it up the name on, to see if they've worked on other movies that I might like to see. Credits deserve to be shown, it is insulting to do anything except let them play uninterrupted. I don't care if I am in the minority on this - every person in that list put effort into the film, and they have the right to be recognized.

03. Perfection must Precede Repetition
This is the one that inspired the title for this list, things advertising executives don't understand. I don't even know how they came to miss something this important, so in case you missed it pay close attention: Advertisements on television get shown multiple times.
Even if your ad is one among 50 other ads on television, I'm going to see it a lot; so, it bothers me when ads aren't perfect. Because the fact is, I'm going to find everything wrong with it. Repetition breeds familiarity, if your ad has poor grammar, bad spelling, poor premises, bad acting, unintended implications or anything that is less than perfect, it's going to come to light eventually.
For instance, this ad for Nando's, a Portuguese Restaurant. At first glance, it seems like a good ad, but after watching it twice, I realized it makes no sense, because if the kid already knows they came from England, he doesn't need to ask the question. Or how about an example of bad grammar from this infuriating advertisement for the Alpha Romeo. Oh my God, JUST! The Word is 'just'! "It's not just a car!" it is a car. A fridge is not a car; a bike is not a car; a hemorrhoid is not a car - when you say "it's not a car" you are comparing it to things like these!
As for the 'unintended implications' I need go no further than advertising for Kinder Surprise. Perhaps that is an innocent picture of father and son, but when I see the ad I see one thing. No, Not paedophilia, you sick bastard! Rather, Divorce. Why else would the kid be so excited and 'surprised' to see his Dad? Why else would Dad feel the need to give him a gift if not to apologize for his absences? Why else would Mum refuse to tell her son that Dad was picking him up from school? Assuming she even knew . . .
A lot of Kinder Surprise ads are like this. I mean, why else would Chloe's Dad in this ad ask her to come outside just to eat chocolate, unless his ex-wife kicked him out of the house or filed a restraining order? Like I said, this is probably an 'innocent' piece of advertising, but it's made in such an ambiguous way. I'm going to find all of these mistakes, so it is insulting that there's so much bad grammar, bad acting & unfortunate implications. After all, did they really think I wouldn't notice?

02. Bad Advertising is Bad Publicity
Oh my goddamn God! How do people not get this?! Advertisers make ads that are deliberately annoying so that you'll always remember them, and I don't get why! There's only one good example of this I can think of, and it's the advertising for the Adult Reading Writing Hotline [You're lucky I couldn't find the version where they sing the number three times. I forever have scarred in my brain: 1-3-00-6-555-06].
This service is for adults that already have trouble with words, so they use a song as a little mnemonic to keep it in their brain. It's really clever, but not every advertisement is so humanitarian in their use of mind-scarring tactics.
Like this ad for Godfrey's, a store that specializes in vacuum cleaners. Alright! I get it, your stock is half-price, stop ramming it down my throat! I find that almost any store that describes itself as a warehouse loves this kind of ad. Such as this ad for Nox Warehouse Clothing [sic]. Because we all know that shouting louder means more sales, right? What about this ancient ad for Saba Furniture Warehouse? They play the song just to get the ad stuck in your brain, and after playing this on a circuit about a dozen times, you'll never forget that Saba's open till nine o'clock, Monday to Friday - no matter how hard you try.
They do this because they think: "Yeah, we know it's annoying. But at least you'll remember the name! After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity!"
But yes, yes there is. If you make an ad that is annoying, you're right in one respect, I will remember it. Like this stupid, annoying ad on TV at the moment for Pizza Capers. This ad is annoying, obnoxious and a little gross. It is for those reasons that I will avoid the Pizza Capers brand. If you think I'm alone in my hatred of this ad, Pizza Capers recently edited the ad so that it was shorter, and removed the 'drooling' noise, replacing it with 'singing'. I'm inclined to believe it was due to customer backlash.
Remembering your brand isn't enough, I also have to want it. Because otherwise, you are ensuring that I will remember to avoid your brand. Essentially, I boycott products associated with shitty advertising. If you're making an ad that commits one of the sins that I mentioned above, I will avoid your product and brand. Do not test me.

01. I Don't Hate Advertising
I don't know how advertising executives reached this conclusion, but I don't hate advertising. Hell, I like a lot of advertising, especially when it's well done.
I enjoy this ad by Beyond Blue that's about raising awareness of Anxiety, it's for a cause I appreciate and it's well done, in my opinion. I enjoy most ads for coffee, like this one for Ice Break, it's a little old and not all that great, but it brought the product to my attention. I especially like this one for Oak's Flavoured Milk (which has a coffee flavoured option) for not only informing me, but also entertaining me. I'm not overly fond of porridge for breakfast, I find it gluggy, but I love this ad for Uncle Toby's Oats, because I think the mother in this ad is awesome, so I shared it on Facebook!
Hell, even though it's not for me, I still enjoy this ad for Libra Invisible Pads, because I like the chemistry between the two friends, it's a good ad. And I already mentioned the the advertisement for XXXX 'Origin Edition' beer, but I'm mentioning it here again because I like it so much!
It seems like advertisers start off, guns blazing, thinking:
  "How will we break through the audience's defences and grab their attention?"
But the thing is, you don't have to! If you make a good, honest ad and I like the product, I'll probably buy it. I use advertising to find newer, better and/or cheaper products; I keep an eye out to see if my old products are providing something new. And if an ad is funny or entertaining - even if it's not for me - I'll tell my friends about it and share it with a larger audience through social media!
Stop fighting with me, Advertising! I don't hate you, I'm on your side, I just don't like bad advertising, and since there are so many ads that I like it's obviously not that hard to make a good advertisement - especially if you read this list! Don't let me down advertising, and I won't let you down.

So yes, that's my list. I must admit, now that I've written it, I was wrong - this wasn't easy to write at all! It's hard finding the videos for all these ads, but I have to thank Youtube User AustraliaAds for providing the majority of the ads I linked in this list. Their efforts made my own work much easier.
I really have to wrap this up now. If you've got your own ads that you love or hate, feel free to leave a comment mentioning it and/or a link to it. I'd love to read your words.

Until next time, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and this post wouldn't be complete without some shameless promotion of my own - Chapter 2 of Duke Forever coming in two posts time, don't miss it!