Disney’s Time Warp Brain Game Package

An Article from the Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2030

Written by Martin Van McSnuffly

No one thought that when Google and Disney formed the new company Googney eight years ago, the alliance made any sense, but the company has shown that with Google’s experience in technology and media interfaces and Disney’s knowledge of marketing, human psyche and herd mentality (albeit in the entertainment industry), they are not just on the cutting edge but pioneers of it.  The first film projected onto the stratosphere, that with the purchase of Google Glass and headphones, anyone within a 20 mile radius could watch the latest Pirates of the Caribbean 11 (and in 3-D no less).  The Drivatars – Online avatars of famous Disney characters that collected all your data and email, could be transferred from computer to cellphone to mobile device, followed where you went and who you spoke to, and actually learned who you are and developed their own personalities to best suit your needs.  Their famous Googney Contax, contact lenses with neurotransmitters that “beamed” images and video directly into your brain, allowing you to travel the globe without leaving your chair, with destinations such as Moscow, London, Sydney, and of course, Disneyland.

Well, they are at it again!  For visitors of any of the major Disney theme parks across the globe (Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disney Europe, Disney China, Disney Oceanfloor, all of which are their own metropolises now), lines have become unbearably long.  While still happy to be in the most magical place on Earth, people have spent weeks waiting in line for a shuttle to Space Mountain (now a mountain in space), or to ride the teacups (a ride that is now the size of Manhattan Island).  These long waits have taken a toll on attendance at all the parks and Googney has decided to use a little of their “magic” to fix the problem.  Yesterday, the company announced its latest technological marvel, the TimeWarp Brain Game App.  For any of the Disney Theme Park patrons who have purchased and installed Googney Contax, a simple app download can take away the drudgery of waiting days to ride through The Haunted Mansion (which now contains a real graveyard).

The app’s concept is simple: avoid long lines by shutting off your consciousness for the duration of the wait.  The original idea was to beam a Disney movie that matched whichever ride a visitor was on, but study groups showed an extreme backlash to this option as it appears human beings react violently to watching The Little Mermaid more than 50 times in a row.  Thus it was decided that instead of beaming a movie in, they would theoretically beam the minds out.  Once downloaded, all it takes is to put your fingers to your temples, close your eyes and say an activation phrase, “VOOP!”  You will enter a sleep-like state where your mind will “go to slumber” while your body stays standing and moving in line.  When you cross the “Spirit Line”, a special transmitter strip at the end of the line, the app will deactivate and your consciousness will be restored.  Though you may have been waiting in line for hours (or days, as is the case with the Indiana Jones ride), to you it will only be the blink of an eye

There has been some strong opposition to the new Googney product.  Andre LaCreddia, spokesperson of the anti-neuraltech movement group Think Free, says that this app is just the most recent example of corporations like Googney masking a horrendous invasion of privacy via entertainment devices.  “These people have created a direct window into all of your personal information – credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank accounts; information that they could sell to other companies as prime demographic data.  But it’s more than that.  Experiences, memories and personality; how do we know that these things aren’t being altered without knowledge or consent?  How will people know if they actually experienced what they remember?  And how could these families be abused in these technological comas?  What if they are suddenly put to work, cleaning the park or serving food?”

“That is preposterous,” says Googney Attraction Supervisor Donald F. Brobbom.  “There’s no need to implant memories.  We have spent countless of trillions of dollars over the past decades creating theme parks and attractions that are a joyful experience no matter what level of technology your brain is augmented with.  The idea that we would sell the personal information that we collect and use it for non-park related purposes is as offensive as it is absurd.”  Mr. Brobbom went on to point out that they have created a whole new Disney personnel whose job it is to take care of and watch over visitors who are using the Timewarp Brain Game App.  “The visitor’s health is reviewed during the slumber time by the app itself, and warns our people if the patron is hungry, thirsty, needs to be relieved, has a cramp, or has a number of other physical problems that may arise during the course of a splendid time at one of our parks.  We do not and will not hijack people to work the park . . . that would be going too far.”

Mr. LaCreddia says it’s already gone too far.  “Simply trusting the biggest company in the world to not collect and use the information after they have recorded it is dangerous.  They have already put our minds in danger.  What if there is a server crash, and a person’s mind is completely wiped out?  The scientific community can continue to push the boundaries of neural science, but it should not be used on the public by international conglomerates before we fully understand the ramifications of this technology.  They are risking our lives and we are letting them.  They want us complacent.  They want us servile.  We should shut it down; shut it all down.”

But a total shutdown is not likely to happen.  The public response to the new application has been tremendously positive, and the new Googney app was downloaded over 20 million times before the close of business the day it was revealed.  “I can’t wait to try this out,” remarked park patron Susan Honglee right before she activated the new app while in line for Splash Mountain.  The moment it was on, Mrs. Honglee’s face took on a pleasant look with a faraway stare.  59 hours later, when Mrs. Honglee got to the front and crossed the Spirit Line, her face picked up with the same cheer she showed at the beginning of the line. “It’s like I blinked and was suddenly here.  I love Disneyland!”

Reports have come in that a few people have experienced an unsettling paranoia after deactivating the app, and one person even described his wait time with the app as “16 hours in a lake of fire”.  There have also been rumors that a few visitors have had psychotic breakdowns after using the app for more than a day, but no evidence of such an instance could be found.   As to the possibility of a server crash causing parkwide loss of patron personality, Brobbom says it would never happen as they don’t store minds, they simply turn them off.  “Besides, technology isn’t full-proof; there will always be kinks.  But no one’s brain will be wiped out or reprogrammed.  This isn’t some evil cabal that seems more at place in one of our movies.  This is Disney and Google.  This is fun.”googney

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A Letter to a Girl my Recently Dead Friend Thought was Pretty Cool, but like, Didn’t Love Yet, but Might Have Someday, Maybe

Dear Lois,

I’m not sure if you remember me, but we met briefly at that weird house party on the 4th of July where they had a bunch of old televisions in the backyard playing B-horror movies, and they lit fireworks on top of the televisions and one of them blew up the television and almost killed that one guy with the Abe Lincoln hat.  I wore a blue t-shirt.  Anyway, my friend Tom had brought you along on what I later learned was your guys’ first date.

I’m not sure if you have heard yet, but Tom passed away last week.  There was an incident at the zoo he volunteered at and he was taken away from us in the blink of an eye.  The media is using terms like “Provoked”, “Harassed”, and “Inevitable Outcome”, but I can vouch for Tom in that he never would have deliberately pestered a cage full of birds of prey.  In his defense, the birds seemed extremely irritable before Tom even entered the feeding cage, so when one tried to steal another bird’s dish of dead mice, it only took a little shove from Tom to set off the whole bunch.  You can see it on the video; it’s on YouTube.

Actually, after rewatching it just now, it’s probably best that you don’t watch the video.  While Tom died instantly from the blow from the first bird that hit him right in the temple, they did tear into his body quite severely.  On the bright side, none of the birds were harmed in the incident.

I’m writing to let you know that Tom liked you.  He liked you a lot, really, compared to how long you guys had been seeing each other.  That’s what he said to me, anyway.  He just wanted you to know that he liked how you were soft, and pretty, and how you couldn’t be beat at Trivial Pursuit.  He also liked the sound of your laugh which he described as sounding like a gagging chipmunk.  I don’t think your laugh sounds like a gagging chipmunk, but I’m pretty sure he meant it as a compliment.

He told me that he could have easily seen a future with you, at least of a few years. Maybe even an engagement that would have lasted longer than it should have and probably would have ended in tears because he also said he liked this cute girl that works at the library. I hope you’re okay with that.  You two just didn’t have the time to get to know each other enough to, like, fall in love, ya know? And that’s what saddest for all of us; we just didn’t have enough time with him.  One day you’re seeing a girl you like-but-not-love-yet, and the next they’re beating bloody birds away from what the coroner assures us (from dental records) is your body.

Those birds really did a number on him.

I wish I had more profound words for you now, but life is a crazy place, and who knows what’ll happen next?  We meet people, lose track of people, fall in quasi-love, maybe eat some good food, grow older, start listening to NPR, and watch a man dressed like Abe Lincoln run around on fire while The Blob plays in the background.  But yeah, you were cool.  He just wanted you to know that.

Mark

Sartre Had it Wrong

I’m sitting naked on the toilet.  I’ve been sitting here for an hour and a half.  The shower has been running the entire time and the hot water has been used up.  All my roommates are gone and won’t be back in until tomorrow.  I can’t call them because my phone is charging on my desk.  They can’t help me.  No one can help me now.

The trash can is empty.  There are no clothes on the bathroom floor because I undressed before I even came into the bathroom.

There are paper towels in the kitchen, but that’s 25 feet away, and all the neighbors would be able to see me walking, crouched down in shameful discomposure, through the windows.  All of which are open.

My towel hangs on the wall, silently laughing its 2-ply, ring-spun, combed African cotton taunts at me.  It knows I can’t use it to get out of this mess.  Using it would only make the mess worse.

I’ve flushed I-don’t-know-how-many times.  I stopped counting once I realized you can’t time the flushes to create a decent splashback.

Hell is not other people.  That’s ridiculous.  Hell is the long, dark solitude that leads to fantasies of owning a bidet.  Hell is longing for even the tiniest scrap of those subscription inserts that fall out of magazines.  Hell is being here, in this situation, with absolutely no toilet paper. nopaper

ETA . . . Yesterday or Tomorrow?

Marty had been driving for close to three hours before he noticed anything had changed.  His attention had been so focused on the large rotunda at Los Angeles International Airport that led to all the terminals’ pick-up and drop-off zones, he hadn’t noticed what else had been going on around him.  His girlfriend’s plane had been delayed departing from South Carolina because of a large woman in a wheelchair had gotten stuck at the airplane door, delayed at a stop-over in Houston while they waited for a replacement pilot since the original one had gotten sick, then had to take a detour mid-flight because of some ‘weather anomaly’ heading towards Los Angeles, and then delayed again at the gate for reasons unbeknown to him.

After forty minutes of circling through the airport, Marty had been ready to tell his girlfriend to call him when she was finally outside, and then go to a bar at the Holiday Inn down the street.  But she wouldn’t like that.  For one, she would insist on driving home since Marty had been known to knock back one or two or five or six drinks without a breath in between; and two, she had explicitly said she didn’t like waiting in the pick-up zone (something about the desperate cigarette smoke of the tar-breaths).  So Marty had stayed, not wanting to deal with a pissed off girlfriend after so much driving.

After an hour and twenty minutes, however, Marty had enough.  Unfortunately, it was one of those days in Los Angeles.  Marty was convinced that Southern California really had only five weather patterns: Perfect Sunshine, Rain, Too Much Sunshine, The Final Earthquake to End California, and Traffic.  On this day, the airport has been struck with a mighty trafficstorm and Marty had not been able to maneuver his way to the LAX exit before being put on the return road back to the terminals.  Bumpers bumped, horns honked, busses strong-armed onto the road, and pain-in-the-ass pedestrians were crossing wherever they felt like it.

After an hour and forty five minutes, what seemed to be lightning flashed around they airport.  This surprised Marty because there was not a single cloud in the sky.  He looked out his window to see if some power line had busted, but then had to swerve slightly to miss an elderly couple who were the road 20 feet away from the crosswalk.  He stuck his head out the window to apologize and saw the couple looking back at him in disappointment and regret, as if they had wanted to be hit.

After just over two hours, Marty did not care about picking up his girlfriend, nor about trying to exit the airport altogether; now it was about principle.  This traffic was a war, a rampage, and it was each man for himself.  Many cars would enter this arena, but only one would leave.  He intended on being that lone hero, and damned any automobile that dared cross his ire.

So Marty had not noticed when the cars had begun to change.  It was nothing any normal person could pick out, because many cars from the early 2000’s all the way back to the 1980’s were still widely used in this day and age, and it was not so unusual to see them on the road.  The advertisements on the busses had begun to change as well, from The Dark Knight Rises, to the rerelease of Titanic, to Harry Potter, to Shrek, to the original release of Titanic, and so on.  But these advertisements could only be seen on the side of busses, and Marty had not been paying attention.

It wasn’t until Marty had stopped just short of running over a tall, black man in a red disco outfit, who had said, “Watch where you’re going, you fucking honky!” that he clued into his surroundings.

Something was definitely different about the place.  It looked older, somehow.  No, not older, because everything was clean and looked like it had just been made.  No, things looked . . . retro.  He started to pull over, but the traffic was still a nightmare, and so he just kept circling.

But after three and a half hours, Marty found that the more he kept going in circles the more dated everything became.  The planes flying over head began to get smaller.  The styles of clothing he saw at the terminals began to look like stuff out of some Norman Rockwell painting.  A newspaper, carried on a gust of wind, flew into his window and onto his face.  He pulled it off and glanced at a headline saying ‘EISENHOWER REFERS TO ASIA AS A COMMUNIST DOMINO” before chucking it back out the window.

Traffic had finally started to die down, but Marty was afraid to stop now.  While a Prius in his day and age was a normal sight to see, in the 1940’s it would look like some sort of spacecraft.  It did look like some sort of space craft, and many people were gawking and eyeing him as he drove through the airport.  He looked at himself in the rearview mirror and realized that he was almost as shocking as his car; a hipster-wannabe, with a styled beard, pierced nose, tattoos crawling up his neck, in a tank-top with “My Little Pony” stamped on the front.  No, getting out was no longer an option.

Could he turn around?  Maybe driving the other direction would send him back to his own time.  It was an option, but then he would be driving against traffic, and while he could dodge the few amount of cars on the road now, he was not so sure he could forgo a head on collision once he got closer to his time, and then he’s really be stuck.

He could just stop and start living in the current time.  Sure, he would look strange, but he had gotten paid this past Tuesday (or will get paid, once he’s born), and Marty had cashed it all and filled his wallet.  That money could go a long way in the current time, and he could just hop on a plane to Asia or some Caribbean Island, where his look might not be so foreign.  And with his knowledge of future events, he could probably make a fortune with very little effort.  Hell, he might even be able to set up a trust fund for himself, his future self, so that the would-be-he would never have to worry about money after college.

The idea was entertaining, but Marty doubted he could pull it off.  Sure he could make some money, but he was finding it hard to come to grips with never having the internet again.  WWII, Vietnam?  No problem.  A life without cute cat pictures and YouTube?

“Not on your life,” Marty said, and sped up.

After four hours, Marty was in the mid-1940’s, and both the car traffic and air traffic had died down.  Twenty minutes after that, the airport celebrated its opening.  Twenty minutes after that, and there was no airport.

Even though it was over bare dirt, Marty kept driving in circles.  He was grateful that he had filled his tank before coming to the airport and that his car was a hybrid.  He didn’t know how much longer he could go, and he didn’t want to get stuck, but he felt he had no other choice but to keep going.  He just hoped that time was actually cyclular instead of a straight line, and that he would eventually end up where he left off.  Sure, it was some shoddy sci-fi plot line from an episode of SG-1, but it’s all Marty had to go on.

He flipped through the case of CDs he kept in his car.  He found the soundtrack to Jurassic Park, stuck it in the player, hit the accelerator, and began waiting for the dinosaurs. 

Multi-Tasking on a Sunday Morning

This . . .  this isn’t very easy . . .

I thought I had this post all set but something went wrong . . . now I am writing this while I’m driving.

This . . . this isn’t very easy.  People in other cars are looking at me.  Sure . . . whoa, almost hit a truck . . . sure, people type on their smartphones while driving.  They’re not supposed to but they do.  But no one expects to look over to the car next to them and see the driver typing furiously on a laptop taped to the steering wheel –

-whoops.  That house didn’t need that mailbox, right?

I’m . . . I’m actually starting to get the hang out of it a little.  If I need to turn left I just start using the left side of the keyboard a little more OH GOD – was was was was WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS  . . . . phew.  That was close.

Uh oh.  A cop is coming up.  Hello Mr. Officer.  Nice day we’re having isn’t it?

Shit, did I just type that, or did I say it out loud?  I’m getting confused.

Sure, I could pull over and finish this, but there’s this bakery that offers these delicious almond croissants for half off for the first hour that they are open and I need to get there and if you say that it’s not a good reason to endanger everyone on the road by POLLY POLLY POLLY POLLY concentrating more on the computer than the wheel then all I have to say is ADE ADE ADE ADE ADE is that you’ve never had one of these croissants.  I wouldn’t kill you in cold blood for one, but manslaughter?  Small price to pay.

Hey, when did everyone on the road start driving the other wayOH SHIT!

Asdkfjha woeifj ldk.  Adlfkj oeinfops.  Ssssssssssssssssssssss.  JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ!

This isn’t so hard.  In fact, the world suddenly seems like a brighter place.  My heart is in my throat.  I need to change my underwear.

This is going to be the best croissant ever.

Shit, I need to get me one of these.

That’s Quite a Get-Up

“Yeah, this outfit only attracts a certain kind of asshole in a place like this,” the young lady who I shared an economics class with screamed to me over the loud, throbbing pulse that some one some where must call music if it’s being played in a club.  “But if I had any dignity at all, you think I’d be here in the first place, drinking this . . . ‘whatever’tini?  Once you hit bottom, it’s easier to keep going down instead of reclaiming your pride.  After awhile, it becomes sort of a game to see how much further you can push the line.  My friends and I started a contest.”

“Are you winning?”

She paused to down the rest of her drink, wipe her mouth with the back of her hand, and eye a prospect dancing across the room.  “No one wins.  You don’t win with things like that.”

Well, it’s hard to argue with that logic, I told myself, and went outside to get a bacon-wrapped hotdog from the vendor on the corner.

Unknown Spirits of the Modern World: The Chapeater

There are numerous gods of lost artifacts, many having evolved from older gods of long ago times that have modernized the objects they stand for (e.g. “Where did I tie up my horse?” to “Where did I park?”).  Others have not needed to update or change much as their embodied objects have more or less stayed the same over the centuries.  Some, however, have only relatively appeared and are often overlooked by even the newest gods.

Of the lost artifact gods (or “Losties” as they like to call themselves) the most prevalent are, of course, the Lord of Lost Keys, KeyKlar, and the great sock stealer Lintam, who reign over all the losties as they are some of the oldest.  But of the modern losties, there is one of the gods that is rarely paid notice to and yet he has touched many lives across the globe.  He is Chapeater, the God of Lost Chapstick.

Chapeater, or Wax Lippy Lips as he is known among the godsect, presides over all of the chapstick in the world.  Barely over 100 years old, Chapeater has never been a prevalent lord despite having impacted almost every modern life in first world countries.  Unlike KeyKlar, who fashions extravagant armor out of his boons, or Lintam who simply throws all of his boons into a large, mountainous pile, Chapeater has built himself a small cabin out of lost tubes of chapstick.  Located in the forests of Canada, Chapeater’s abode is small, uniform and symmetrical, no more than a large plastic box hidden in some trees.  “The cold climate is good for the chapstick,” Chapeater says, “because a lot of heat melts the balm.  It’s horrible when you wake up and you’re covered in slime.  I’d smell like a holistic medicine beach bum for weeks on end.”

Chapeater also remarked that his cabin is comprised entirely of old chapstick tubes with some of them dating back at least sixty years or so.  When I inquired as to why he doesn’t replace the tubes, or expand his cabin into a larger house, Chapeater says, “I’m a simple lostie.  I don’t need to have large piles of things or lavish costumes.  The size of this place gives me all the room I need.  A place to sleep, eat and work; anything else is extravagance.”

As to where all the chapstick that he has collected since finishing his cabin has gone, his name is all the explanation one needs.  “I eat them.  Turn the tube so the rest of the stick shows and then gobble gobble.  And now that chapstick is coming with all sorts of vitamins to help the skin and such, I have a much healthier diet.”

Despite being an ignored god, controversy has surrounded Chapeater since the 1980’s, when the God of Lost Pets proclaimed at the annual Lostie Convention that, “Chapeater’s inclusion into the Lostie sect is outrageous.  Humans don’t lose chapstick, they merely forget about it and then throw them away when they do find them.  He is a trash-digger, not a god.”

“I can understand the argument,” Chapeater tells us, “but the fact remains that this station still exists and that I hold the title.  How humans treat these artifacts is of little consequence in the end, for even if they throw them away they will always require more.  Then they will think, ‘Where did I put that last tube of chapstick?’, and then their discarded sticks become my boon.”

When asked whether he is worried that his station might one day become obsolete, Chapeater said, “No, I’m not worried in the slightest.  I mean, think about: Have you ever finished an entire tube of chapstick?”