Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true ** probably true

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo!

It's barreling down on us. National Novel Writing Month, that is. There are, apparently, a hundred people in Singapore who have confirmed their participation. Who knew there were so many in the Little Red Dot who harbored literary aspirations?

I'll tell you a secret. I ALWAYS wanted to be a paperback writer (though that term is outdated). I've never aspired (okay, briefly in college) to write the Great American Novel, or any novel with literary pretensions, really. I've always wanted to make my mark in genre fiction. Fantasy, Sci-Fi (no, they are not the same, no matter what signage the bookstores put up), horror, mystery: These are the fields I prefer to toil in.

Not that there is anything wrong with those who read or write more 'literary' works. I love Nabokov, I love Hemingway, I love dozens of others who wouldn't poke genre fiction with a sharp stick. But it's not a passionate love, for the most part. It's not the kind of love that makes you blind to faults. When I read Robert E. Howard, I know the prose is overblown and the plots thin. But the affection I feel for the creator of Conan allows me to look on those failings as you would the lack of social graces of a favorite uncle. When I read Conan Doyle, I can look beyond the stilted prose to the cunning, exciting plot and glimmers of truly fascinating characterization. Doyle is the uncle that is nothing like Howard, and yet somehow is exactly like Howard the odd couple of genre fiction. Or Conrad. He's the slightly insufferable uncle that nevertheless brings you the most extraordinary presents from far, far away, with stories to go along with them...

When I read Melville or Hawthorne or Milton on the other hand, I find myself having to think up excuses to forgive them their literary excesses. They make me tired. Like relatives who are good people, but with whom you share nothing in common except biology, you endure them during a visit but are mostly just glad when they leave so you can go do something you really want to do.

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is almost here. My Grand Design is to write something that takes from each of my three favorite uncles. I have no idea how to put the essence of Robert E. Howard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph Conrad into a book (without triggering the Apocalypse), but I figure NaNoWriMo is the time to try. After all, the slogan of NaNoWriMo is "No Plot? No Problem!" There will be weekend events for Singapore WriMos at Earshot, the cafe at the Arts House. The first is Saturday, 5 November from 1-3 pm.

I'll be there, plotless and unworried, trying to channel my three favorite literary uncles.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Announcing the birth of Ninja Joe

No, I'm not dead. I've just been doing other things lately. One of those things is drawing.

I've been drawing lots and lots of little stick figure cartoons. Mostly political ones (American politics, mister government monitor person!), but also a senselessly violent little series called 'The Adventures of Ninja Joe'. Which I will dutifully share with all of you once I get a scanner. And upgrade my flickr account to pro. Maybe. If you're really, really good. Nothing like stick figures being maimed and mutilated in senselessly violent fashions to brighten your mood, I tell ya. until then, here's a sample of the hilarity. Disgusting but funny, no?

Anyway, I think I will be going to the virtual insanity halloween party, so maybe I'll see you there, eh?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sticky Issues vol. 7

Sticky Issues vol. 7
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
Filed under: Singapore bidness youdidn'twanttoplaywithanyoneelsenownoonewantstoplaywithyou.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I am a moral vulture.

You know when you go to Flickr's login page and there's a photo with some sort of witty caption waiting for you? The most recent one is of a king vulture; the quote is "The critic roams through culture, searching for prey" by Mason Cooley. Well, since I started this whole Sticky Issues side project, that quote (and that photo) has weighed on me. The red-rimmed eye that speaks of utterly calculating humorlessness; the bald, leathery head that allows it to feast on entrails more cleanly... is this what I am becoming by drawing simple little stick figures? A carrion eater, waiting for the weak to expire before I dine on their stiffening, pungent corpses? I don't know.

And then I realize that, even if I am becoming a critic, I don't have to roam anywhere in seach of prey. The newspaper guy delivers it, neatly packaged by a red rubber band, straight to my front door every morning.And if I am a vulture, I am one with particularly narrow tastes. One that, for the most part, dines on the corpses of those jackals that have taken down the slow, the weak, the defenseless and the unwary before themselves giving up the ghost. If I am a vulture, I am a vulture with morals, a schadenfreuden with a sense of justice. Mostly.

Of course, sometimes I'm just an asshat. WOOT!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

SSTWC Special Feature: "Sticky Issues"

Due to underwhelming demand, SomethingStickyThisWayComes has opened a graphical-type department! Concentrated on bringing you crudely drawn stick figure cartoons of questionable content, SSTWC has spared no expense in setting up our new 'artistic' operation, known as Sticky Issues. Why, you might ask? Because at SSTWC, we believe that having no reason to do something is reason enough. So visit today, and be underwhelmed yourself!
Here's what the critics have to say:
"Crude. And by crude, I mean horribly drawn." - T. Thomas Finch, Professor of Social Poltics, Harvard University
"Without any redeeming artistic qualities whatsoever." Imelda Krink, Fine Arts Chair, The Goering Institute
"I'd say his fingers should be broken, but I think they already are." - "Bruno"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

StickyIssues vol 1

sticky issues vol 1
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
"Who gave this guy a PR?" -- LKY

SomethingSticky Special Feature: "UGLY SINGAPOREANS"

It's rare that we here at SSTWC intentionally direct your attention away from SSTWC (because we're so co-dependent) to some other blog (why are you looking at other blogs?!? What, I'm not good enough for you anymore?!?), but I have to (grudgingly) admit that this one is worth a look. But hurry right back, dammit.

(thanks to lancerlord (via flickr) for spotting this one)

(update: also available on tomorrow)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

republican snapshot #2

republican snapshot #2
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
Another Polaroid moment from recent Republican-ness.
Crime is just the continuation of politics by other means. - Clausewitz

republican snapshot #1

republican snapshot #1
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
A Polaroid moment from recent Republican-ness.
Crime is just the continuation of politics by other means. - Clausewitz

NaNoWriMo Time

It's almost time. Time to write your novel. You have one month. 50,000 words in one month? What, am I crazy? Yeah. Crazy like a fox.

This will be the third time I've attempted to scale Mount NaNoWriMo. Both previous attempts have been massive failures. But that doesn't matter. The past is so yesterday.

What I wanna know is, who's with me?

(click on pic for more details)

157 sites link here?

Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
you're kidding, right?

Monday, October 17, 2005


Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
...the place I now call my permanent residence. Please note the dark clouds gathering overhead. Heh.

State of the Machine

Me, me, me. It’s all about me. This post, that is. Generally speaking, I’m not terribly interested in being verbally self-absorbed. But some people out there deserve to know what’s going on, and what’s been going on, and I need to put it out there so that I can move on.

Basically I had a little breakdown. I say little because the last time this happened to me, it was much, much worse. Like, lay on my floor for three days straight crying, lose fifteen pounds worse. This time I had a clue as to what was happening, and prepared as best I could (read: got my prescription filled and took the nasty tasting little white pills faithfully). This has allowed me to cope much better than last time. Better is a relative term, however.

I still suffered some serious panic/anxiety attacks, and was subject to some irrational behavior. I still felt like I was tossed down an oubliette. I was still hellishly unpleasant to be around for those nearest and dearest. And I still flaked out on responsibilities. Badly. And I am still not out of the woods. But I am better, and it could have been worse. Much worse.

The scary thing about clinical depression is that those who suffer don’t look any different while they are suffering. They aren’t walking around with a big cast or a bleeding wound. There is no outward physical sign or symptom that they are grappling with something that is as debilitating as any disease you care to name. People find it difficult to understand and react appropriately. The urge is to tell the sufferer to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘shake it off’. They would if they could. Believe me. And if they’re acting like an asshole in some form or fashion that is different from their normal disposition, guess what? They aren’t doing it on purpose just to annoy/hurt you. It’s not about you. That bears repeating, actually: It’s Not About You. So try not to take it personally. Please.

Oh, and as for therapy, I thank those who suggested it, but I did that the first round. I’m not saying it wasn’t helpful, but there’s a law of diminishing returns. The issue is really mostly chemical and hereditary. My inner demons are pretty much pipsqueaks nowadays.

So where is the Machine at? I would say he’s at about 70%, maybe a little better. The sound of a ringing hand phone still makes his flesh crawl, but he no longer has (much of) an urge to drop it in the toilet and flush, or smash it against the wall. And except for this creepy new prediliction to speak in third person, his future outlook is generally sunny with scattered showers. Now I just need a prescription that doesn’t taste like a cross between licorice and mule sweat.

I hate licorice.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I must be feeling better

stupid copy #35973
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
because this really frigging annoyed me. The copywriter should be shot. repeatedly. No, make that cattle-prodded. In the genitals. Until he or she realizes what your watch tells most is THE TIME.

no ice cream

no ice cream
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
so don't even ask.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Machine Needs Maintenance

Hello everyone. Just a lil' note to inform you that the Machine will be down for a while for maintenance and servicing. I thank you all for reading, and urge you to check back every so often, (maybe every week or so) as we will resume service once the Machine is operating at something approaching normal tolerance.

Cheers to all of you.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

depression and handphones: bad combo.

the problem is that it' so fucking random, at least for me. Three years of relatively depression-free living and then blam, it's back. I know, stressful situations can trigger it. I know, it's like asthma, I'm not at fault, i didn't do anything to deserve it, I'm not a bad person yadda yadda yadda. That doesn't help, especially with the anxiety part. When the handphone rings and I just wanna dump it in the toilet because i just. don't. fucking. want. to. deal. with whoever/whatever is on the other side. And every ring sends my blood pressure and heart rate higher until I think i'm gonna scream. or keel over. or both.

one should not be afraid of one's handphone. that is not a rational reaction.

I think I need to up my dosage.

Monday, October 03, 2005

New novel. Don't read!

Yes, I've started a new novel. Yes, it's a fantasy. Yes, I'm going to post portions of it here. No, you don't have to read it. I'm mainly posting in the hopes that by giving myself the job of posting something every day, I'll get it done.

If you don't like fiction, or fantasy, you are hereby absolved of continuing reading this post.

The Gate of Horn and Bone: A Novel of The Madok

1. What this is not

This is not the story of the City of Ys. True, in some sense our tale begins there, but places destroyed by gods are unlucky points of departure for any journey; even journeys composed solely of words. They are also unlucky destinations, but that is another tale for another time.

Instead, let us begin next door to ruined Ys, as it were, or at least in distant view of it, in the sleepy garrison town and nominally holy site known as Nine Gates. Specifically, the thread of our tale begins in the dusty shadow of the Fourth of the aforementioned Nine Gates, the Gate of Horn and Bone.

Standing fully three man-heights tall and skull-thick, the Gate of Horn and Bone was indeed composed of some amber-colored antler and osseous matter in varying shades of yellow and brown. Thick slabs of the one and the other had been cunningly assembled into a skewed checkerboard pattern, and fused together seamlessly by some arcane art. None then residing in Nine Gates could say who might have fashioned it, why it might have been constructed, or what impossible beast or beasts had expired to furnish its raw materials—though those who noticed such things spoke admiringly the complex interplay of colors, form and texture the Gate presented to the world at large. When they bothered to think on it. Certainly it was a lovely thing compared to the slate gray wall that girded Nine Gates on three sides, and was as incongruous in its surrounds as a jeweled collar on a bog toad.

Our story begins on the day the Gate of Horn and Bone opened.

2. A minor event of some consequence

One might consider the opening of a gate, even a gate as singular as the one just described, to be of no major consequence. Normally one would be perfectly correct. The Gate of Horn and Bone, however, had never opened or been opened in the entire history of its rather mysterious existence. Perhaps of even greater consequence was the fact that no-one noticed the event except for the boy who pushed on one side and walked through to the other. And as he was newly arrived to Nine Gates, he had no way of knowing his entrance might be considered significant, at least by those who made it their business to be aware of events that would shape the course of history.

3. Concerning a curious custom of the War-Brothers of Ys

While historically inclined to rape, pillage and plunder (at their employers’ behests), the mercenary company known as the War-Brothers of Ys hold sacred certain duties and customs begun in their formative years in that now-defunct city. One such custom is the duty to supply the city of their birth with new citizens in order to offset the staggering numbers of young men who fled Ys (and its crushing tax system, and its human sacrifice lottery) to seek service in their company.

Despite the fact that Ys no longer exists and has not for some twelve centuries, the War-Brothers ritually spare one young boy in any sacking they effect, and send said youngster to Nine Gates (it being, geographically speaking, within spitting distance of Ys-that-was). It is doubtful whether any among the War-Brothers knows the circumstances or history surrounding this custom, or that its usefulness died with the city twelve centuries before; but it is a near-certainty that none of them would particularly care if they were told. The War-Brothers are great respecters of custom. When it suited them.

At the time concerning this work, the War-Brothers had been stationed in Kungssar for nearly two decades. The latest boy they’d sent on to Ys was one Ut. The circumstances surrounding his selection were somewhat less than the sacking of a city, and rather more like a tavern brawl that had gotten severely out of hand.

Ut, being essentially a penniless orphan who mucked the tavern’s stables for meals, was initially bewildered by the War-Brothers’ insistence that he ‘took a trip down South’, but the fat purse and slab-sided mule they gave him to effect his remove from the capital city of Kungssar (ahead of the local constabulary and their probing questions as to the nature of the brawl that had seen three city blocks burned to the ground) awoke Ut’s sense of adventure and wanderlust. So to Nine Gates and nearby Ys-that-was he went, having no other enticing destination in mind.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

the office

the office
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
...where I slave away to make the world a stickier place, all for your edutainment.

The Other Mercer Machine

One is a dilletante-ish stringer-together of words. The other is 'committed to manufacturing components which conform to their customers' specifications'. But it's positively eerie how true this is of both Mercer Machines:

"Motivated, skilled personnel assures that Mercer Machine's customer's get quality service
with on-time delivery."

Well, except for the whole 'motivated' thing. And the 'on time' issue. And 'quality service' is possible, but not bloody likely. But at least I know that there are two gramatical boo-boos in the above quote. So there.


When I was eleven I took a summer’s worth of lessons in tae kwon do. It was a good time; it was the first time I ever felt as though I had a chance of—well, not defending myself, but giving a few licks before I was pummeled to the ground (yes, I got picked on a fair bit back then). I can no longer remember the instructor’s name, but I do remember that he was a sixth degree black belt who’d spent 14 years on the Seoul police force. Funny, the things I remember.

I also remember this thing he did. He’d come up to you and say ‘I’m going to hit your left ear’ or ‘your right shoulder’ or whatever. You were supposed to defend yourself. Or at least I think that was the point. No-one ever managed to, that I ever saw.

When he said ‘I’m going to hit you in the forehead,’ that’s exactly what he meant. It wasn’t a warning, really. It was more in the way of a prophecy. Your forehead was going to get thwacked, and there wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it, though it was good form to at least try.

That’s what the last two weeks have been like.

I saw (or rather felt) it coming. I knew the signs: anxiety, short temper, loss of apetite, apathy. I prepared; I got the prescription filled and took the medication faithfully. But resisting it is like resisting an avalanche.

So, to my (now former) coworkers, I would like to say I’m sorry for any additional work that has fallen on your shoulders, and you’re a great group of people. But I’ve got to take care of myself right now.

I’ll see you in the funny papers.