Who’s gonna be in NYC in July? It’s been all over the news, thanks to our tireless marketing department, but if you’ve been living under a rock or off-planet, I’ll be announcing a prototype non-weaponizable reactor, nicknamed Safe Arc (no numbers yet, but it’ll definitely have improvements) on July 1st. There’s gonna be a big fancy gala, so remember to suit up.

And of course there’s the UN Assembly happening on July 3rd, and all member nations are expected to debate on… you know, I can’t recall what they’re meeting about, but I don’t think that’ll be relevant, it’s just too good of a target not to get hit.

Lots of fun things happening in the city around Independence Day.

There’s even this big children’s choir thing in the city, something like five hundred thousand school children from a culturally diverse set of backgrounds, and they’re all going to sing the national anthem on the 4th. Another soft target there, plenty of potential casualties and a real opportunity for the city’s homeless population to step up and save a handful of children from precarious ledges and such. Whoo!

Seems like perfect time to get together, knowwhatimean? Someone’s definitely gonna drop in on these perfectly-scheduled festivities, so let’s do what we do best?

Pillow fight!

Did everyone see the video of Thor getting pummeled by Banner on that gladiator planet? I sent it out last week. And yesterday. And here it is again, for your viewing pleasure. Now there’s a dude who can take a pillow to the face!

[Editor’s note: video removed by Fox. But it had the Hulk jumping up into the air on that gladiator planet and then punching Thor in the face as he landed. And then Thor wakes up in the hospital bed, like he just took a nap and not a nuke to the face.]

So anyway, I’m thinking we can organize more of that, push each other around a bit, topple some empty buildings – no worries, I’ve bought up every major under-construction building in Manhattan, lots of space to play! – and overall just have a good ol fashioned annual pillow fight.

Thor brought this up earlier, and I know some of you have been hinting at this, so: we’re sending Dr Strange to pick up the shawarma. Two birds, one wizard: he gets the shwarma from 19th century Turkey (very authentic!), and no spoilsport around. Anyone get in a pillow fight with that guy? He cheats, teleports you into a pillow factory or some such, really cuts the fighting time down with that “I’ll fix things in four seconds” nonsense. We’re here to have fun, not save the day in the quickest, most boring way possible!

See you all soon, Avengers FTW and all that.

PS: I’ve developed a new suit that’s like eighty times stronger than the Hulkbuster, can’t wait to try it out. Obviously it’s just as non-lethal, like a mattress-sized pillow, but… you know, it punches things better. And this new paint job is sick!

Ward, 1

The not-protagonist is a writer, a shut-in who’s constantly struggling with putting fingers to keys and black text on white background. He’s been at this for a bit, writing that is, and still hasn’t figured out how to make a proper go of it.

If he was to put a metaphor to his struggles, he may compare climbing a fourteener – a mountain peak that is at 14 kilometers elevation – to writing a novel, and if this was the measuring stick, then every one of his attempts seems like a five-story building, and it’s so much fucking effort just to make it up the first flight of stairs. And he wonders if it’s really what he wants.

Wonders every day. And decides to write a character who does not have this struggle. They know full well who they are, what they are here to do, and understand why they are doing it. He writes a character with purpose, creates a persona out of thin air who could do that which he himself cannot.

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Writing Excuses 11.06

The vision was a jumble, this time.

I saw blood, gushing. A stream of it, that seemed to be a major theme, as apparent rivers of it sloshed across my vision and impacted on a curled fist. The vision was focusing on the blood, and I kept on seeing the stream suspended in the air, a red waterfall frozen in time. The blood-drenched hand was just out of focus.

You can’t exactly clear your throat or nudge the vision to hurry it up, it’s got a schedule of its own. So I didn’t bother pointing out that it was eight minutes til and just concentrated on being available.

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Dice, 1 (Dice, April 7)

I was. I am. I am somewhere.

Awareness is a long uphill climb. I stumble a few times along the way, of course.

My head is rolling around, flopping this way and that, and I find it impossible to stop that. But at least I’m aware that I have a head. This was not always the case. Before this, minutes or hours or days or years, when I wasn’t, I had no body, I was a thought suspended in gel.

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Writing Excuses 11.05

“Did you know her?” Debbie asked me as we got in the car. I made sure Michael was strapped in before replying. I needed a moment to think.

Debbie just watched and didn’t press.

The school van in front of us took off slowly, we followed it through the valley of the satellite dishes that made up the VLA. It was quiet in the car as we passed the radar array, my own thoughts on the next message from the stars that these dishes would pick up, possibly were hearing them even now.

“Ellie and I were from the same sleepy town in Wisconsin, but of course she got out of it early on. Last time I saw her, back then, was at her dad’s funeral.” I looked into the rear-view mirror and found Michael’s face. “We were both about your age, Michael. Her dad had a heart-attack.”

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Writing Excuses 11.04

“Four remote buyers today,” Martin nodded to the side of the room where a bank of phones was staffed by serious-looking interns. He turned slightly and faced the front of the large room where the lectern and an easel shared the stage with the loud auctioneer. Paintings came and went slowly as the auction progressed.

“It’s possible he’s here in person, too” El sighed and took another sip of her coffee. “Or sent a proxy. Fuck, it can be anyone. How the hell are we supposed to find him?”

“Ever the optimist. There’s a piece that’s coming up, supposed to fetch one point two, at least. And the artist made the headlines last year, that thing in LA. Think that’s our best bet.” Martin extended a clipboard to El and pointed to a long, consonant-filled German name on the paper. “So we see who bids on it and maybe that’s our man.”

“Hmm.” El said nothing and handed the clipboard back.

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I read a story about this lady who had about a hundred or so cup-and-saucer pairs. Guess she was a collector or something, can’t recall. So she had this long narrow shelf that snaked around her kitchen, and every single inch of this shelf was covered in the cup-and-saucer pairs, each one a different color and character, different theme for each of them. A friend had asked her how she managed to keep her entire collection so spotless clean. The woman replied that she had a systematic approach to cleaning the cup-and-saucer sets, and that was to take one down every day and use it. She’d put on the kettle, pick a theme for the day, pull down that cup-and-saucer, wash them, and use them for tea. After she was done with the team, the dynamic duo would go back up that shelf. She had about three cups of tea throughout the day, which meant that she cleaned her entire collection about once a month.

I thought about that for a while. The woman in the story developed an approach to making sure that every single cup was used and washed. It’s not clear if she chose the cups in order – certainly the easier approach – or had a complex order where she used every third one and through careful calculation she knew that this would eventually hit on every cup-and-saucer.

This was a curious thing for me. And then Marc Healtie entered my world and I found someone who also thought about these concepts. He had a particular pattern that he would go through, just like the lady in the cup-and-saucer story. In Marc’s bathroom there were four candles, shotglasses with wax in them essentially, and each had a letter on its side, so that together the candles spelled out LOVE. He had these candles in his bathroom as long as I’ve known him, but he was also single the entire time, so I’m not sure who got these for him or when.

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Jas (We’re Losing Mars, alt 1)

The atmosphere in the airlock oozed out into space, the suit Jas was wearing expanded slightly around her, and the large iris in front of her opened slowly to reveal the darkness of space. Jas looked straight ahead and her eyes quickly found the familiar stars. They had moved slightly since yesterday.

She touched a control in the palm of her right hand and a soft exhale of vapor moved her forward, out of the safety of the airlock into space.

“Testing the drone net,” she spoke, then a prolonged jet of particles slammed into the inner seal of the airlock and Jas accelerated out of the vapor-filled cavern, like a bullet out of a gun. “One, two, three, alarm,” she counted, and on right on cue the on-board computer spoke its usual warning.

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We’re losing Mars, 3

[Previous Chapter]

Continents are passing through an area of space around Mars that we have dubbed the Arena, they whisk through space and tug infinitesimally on the atoms of the red planet, urging it to change orbit and break away from the Sun’s embrace. We do not know why this is, just that it is. Asteroids large and small, mostly heavy cores of iron, they all curve in a myriad of paths through the system, the only common point being Mars. On this predictability we have begun to use the deluge of asteroids as a mighty river that carries our species out and away from our Earth.

The space-faring age of humanity has just begun.

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