CategoryStephen Heintz

It’s actually “Twitters Brendan”

When I was a kid I had asthma. Growing up largely fixed that, but I still got attacks when I went running in cold weather; since running is the only exercise I enjoy or have ever been good at, I got into the habit of slacking off as the weather got colder. In late fall, for many years, I’d slip into a comfortable lethargy, stop caring about what I ate or how much I moved, and gain a bunch of weight that I’d then try to work off in the spring.

After I started recognizing this pattern I wanted to change it. Because the only motivation I understand is self-mockery on the Internet, last September I made a new Twitter account, WinterBrendan. I’d post as him when I caught myself in moments of sloth, gluttony and self-loathing. He hasn’t actually written that much, which is a good thing! It kind of worked, and I ate a lot better and worked out more (aided by the fact that I figured out how to run without asthma, which deserves its own post).

But WinterBrendan was only the beginning.

Within two weeks of his appearance, SOMEONE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED created SpringBrendan, which is the worst thing that has ever happened. SpringBrendan is a machine gun of incredibly lewd jokes, which, well, fine, except all those jokes have my face on them and people instinctively believe I am writing them. The worst part is that he’s fucking hilarious. The only thing worse than people scolding you for coming up with horrible things is people praising you for coming up with horrible things when you did not, and indeed could not.

There are apparently people who still don’t believe I don’t write SpringBrendan. Look! Here! I AM NOT SPRINGBRENDAN. YOU CAN TELL BECAUSE HE IS FUNNY, AND LIKES HIMSELF.

Unfortunately everyone else likes him too. Around the time this was going on, I realized I was coming up on my ten thousandth tweet. Because my friends (and their friends, and total strangers) seemed to enjoy seeing my face plastered on any old garbage, I took a grumpy few hours and wrote my first Twitter client, RealBrendan. It was pretty simple: a text box that hooked up to my actual account and posted whatever you typed. My 9,999th tweet was a link to it, and my 10,000th was “Go.” Then I went to lunch with a friend.

When I got back I was in Twitter jail.

As soon as people realized it was legit, they had unleashed a hideous torrent of raw, anonymous Internet. I once thought of my followers as a carefully curated selection of clever, thoughtful people with taste; now I know better. RealBrendan only went silent when it hit the ceiling for allowable-tweets-per-hour, which turns out to be 128. I got a lot of texts along the lines of “are you okay???” and “WHAT ARE DOING, TURN OFF,” and one person even figured out how to send DMs as me. Exciting! (If you authorize the Exquisite Tweets app, you can read a complete archive of the horror.)

I revoked the app and was allowed back on Twitter the following morning. I did feel a certain sick fascination with what had happened the day before, so I tinkered with the machinery so that it would maintain a queue and post at a more reasonable rate, then hooked it up to its own new account. Once people figured out there was no more immediate gratification, the torrent dropped to a trickle, but now there’s this kind of anonymous group-fiction thing going and it’s kind of fun.

Because ideas are unkillable, there are other accounts as well, and once again I DO NOT CONTROL ANY OF THEM. Summer called them Brendan-shards, which prompted me to start thinking of them as my Horcruxes, because it would be awfully hard to track them all down and also each one represents a horrific murder. They are GrampaBrendan, JoelBrendan and BrendansMcdald, and I strongly encourage you not to follow any them. Or the other ones. Or the actual BrendanAdkins, really.

Please RT.

TETSUO MILK

This is a Constellation Games post, just so you don’t get too deep into it without realizing that. There are spoilers, but only for the chapters that have already gone out to subscribers.

In late 2001, I spent far too much time on the forums for my favorite webcomic, Checkerboard Nightmare. They were hosted on EZBoard, a free/paid service that allowed you to assign custom titles to forum members based on how often they’d posted. Kris Straub, the strip’s creator, innocently filled these in with names from the comic; one of the upper ranks was Doctor Hot, a gag character who had appeared in exactly one panel. I think I was the first one to hit that rank, which tells you a lot about my priorities in college.

I embraced Doctor Hot the way a defensive tackle embraces an unguarded quarterback, and so did the rest of the forumoids. There were even fan-created spinoff characters, including his nemesis Professor Cold and their lovechild Profoctor Hold, whose title I would eventually steal for Davey (did I mention the forums are where I first met Stephen Heintz?). Kris’s reactions wavered between resignation and outright fury, which was his response to everything on the forums, but still.

The point of the foregoing: this was my first encounter with what is now called a “fan favorite” character. A link on Checkerboard Nightmare also led me to crummy.com, which is how I started reading Leonard Richardson’s writing, which of course leads to Constellation Games and its breakout star, Tetsuo Milk.

Leonard likes Tetsuo Milk more than Kris liked Doctor Hot, because Tetsuo is a real character and also Constellation Games doesn’t have a forum to ruin everything, but you can still read a little exasperation into his chapter 11 commentary. Rachel put it to me the other day that Leonard likes to examine the emergence of agency in his characters; Ariel’s struggle to become an adult is the obvious Campbellian case, but we’re already seeing subtler examples, like Krakowski’s little independent assignment, or the way Dana (a friggin’ phone app) has started to assert her needs in a way that forces both Bai and Ariel to take significant action on her behalf.

But Tetsuo already has agency. Tetsuo has too much agency, which is how he’s able to (per Leonard) grab the plot and “run off in some weird direction.” He also has too much optimism, in contrast to Ariel (and uptight Jenny, and cautious Ashley, and fuck-the-system Curic); he’s the kind of person who actually does see every problem as an opportunity, which of course drives everyone around him crazy. The worst part is that he inhabits a postscarcity megacivilization with near-limitless resources, so he’s usually right.

Much as with the bad Doctor, I love Tetsuo Milk without reservation, and not just because he gets most of the good non sequiturs (“Hot!” would be a pretty good Tetsuo line). He’s the book’s mascot, and the recurring reminder that in spite of all the friction and pitfalls and broken partnerships, in the world of Constellation Games things do get better. Gifts fall from the sky. Refugees get rescued. You don’t even have to ask to walk on the moon.

Regarding the previous post

Stephen responds.

Been meaning to write this for three months

A while back Stephen was telling me about those Patrick Rothfuss books for which all nerds have hard dicks. “What’s the best part?” I asked.

“This guy Kvothe gets up on stage and plays his lute, and it’s really moving,” said Stephen. “But not gay, because he has magic powers that make every woman want to bone him.”

“Uh huh,” I said.

“Fine,” he said, “what are YOU reading about?”

Gun-toting bug-eating Muslim lesbians in space,” I said.

Okay, that isn’t strictly accurate. The primary protagonist is agnostic and the secondary one is a dude. But there are lots of guns, lots of bugs, lots of brutality (eg women throwing punches), lots of Koran-analogs, and lots of great characters who aren’t white even on the cover. It is not gentle in introducing its weird setting, and is very mean to everyone you like, and there is torture in it! So avoid it if that’s going to bother you. But while everyone’s sputtering over how many darlings die in George R. R. Martin, I’m going to be over here trying to wave you toward God’s War, easily my favorite book this year.

Dear both of my remaining readers

You may remember that Stephen and I used to do a podcast! Then, we got tired, and he bought a condo, and I got a job where I couldn’t spend all day fucking around and editing podcasts. So the podcast stopped!

We’ll be on a biweekly-if-we-can-manage-it schedule for this season, but it’s for reals. We’ve got some amazing guest stars lined up that I can’t even tell you about–because I decided not to. I hope you will listen! But only if you like mean jokes about bad people.

Signs of life?

Hmm. Hmm.

HMMM.

He even managed to include the Secret Bonus Criterion! (dog sex)

Over on the Facebook feed, Stephen kindly took it upon himself to respond to my last post with 101 words that simultaneously satisfy all my plot-criteria:

Melinda looked down at her gun. “I had no idea this had so many bullets in it,” she yelled. “Turns out I’m pretty powerful, even though I am a woman.”

A pause for dramatic effect, then: “Now if I can just quit being so sad all the time, I can find out who had sex with all of my dogs.”

Melinda had thirty dogs.

Suddenly, her phone rang! It was her best friend who said, “I had sex with your other best friend yesterday!”

Dramatic pause. Then she (the best friend on the phone) said, “My desires are tearing us apart!!!!”

So that’s that, I guess. No more need to read stories! Thanks, other stories, you can go home now.

Skip this one, Mom

In mid-writing session:

Brendan: It’s a pretty old joke structure, but as Tina Fey has pointed out, if you get to a certain gag density people don’t notice that kind of thing. Many of the jokes in Arrested Development are groaningly old, but nobody notices because they come so thick and fast.
Brendan: … This is the part where you make a joke about coming thick and fast.
Stephen: I WOULD TOTALLY COME THICK AND FAST WITH TINA FEY
Brendan: There you go.
Stephen: BOYOYOYNG

And topical as shit too

Okay, so the season break lasted a little longer than we meant it to. But we’re buffered up, geared down, spitshined and BACK!

Sequel to Stephen’s: a gentleman by the name of Gabriel had the clever idea of taking all the words in the Proserpina stories, minus her name, and doing up an eerily well-informed wordle.

All content on this blog released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license unless otherwise noted

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑