BBS


 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] This post is both a movie review, and a review of a BBS I used to frequent. This is kind of a weird post.

HAIKU REVIEW: Where The Wild Things Are:
The BBS was better [*personal explanation at the bottom of the post]
than the dumb movie.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Doormat mom forces us all to sit through romp in brat’s imagination.

PEOPLE: Directed by Spike Jonze, writer of many Jackass episodes and movies, and director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. Starring an annoying kid, Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), and various voices used for the creatures – Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under redhead daughter, Psycho Beach Party), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)

QUIRKS: Based on a book. Which has like, no story. I got it around age 30 but have still never read it.

VISUALS: NOT the visual masterpiece you’d expect. I watched it in 1080p, but still.

The CGI faces were only because the puppets didn’t work right, but honestly, I’m having a hard problem imagining puppets looking as good. I saw hints of people in the characters — individual features that reminded me of actors, without me really knowing who. Kind of like the effect from the movie Beowulf. The goat really reminded me of Seth Green, too, for some reason. I’m not sure if puppets could really give the human realism to the expressions.

MORALS: 1) Hey brat: You should realize you’re a little brat. 2) Don’t have kids.

BAD STUFF: Watching a bratty kid for 2 hours. I was warned of this. I thought it was just the haters hatin’, as usual. But they were right.

Every adaptation of anything to a movie [including a previous movie] is hated on pretty badly. The haters would be much more persuasive if they only hated sometimes, instead of all of the time. Instead, I just kind of ignore it, unless a good reason or explanation is given. I didn’t listen to them, and for once, they were right and I agree with ’em. I *wanted* to like this so much more than I did. I really wanted to give it 3 stars, just for sating my curiosity on what a Where The Wild Things Are movie might look like. Even Carolyn could only barely give it 3 stars, but alas, I could not. I’m not even sure what my specific problem was with it: It was just kind of dull and pointless, even with the fantasy elements.

CONCLUSION: Disappointment. Such disappointment.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 2/5 stars. IMDB: 5/10. Really wanted to rate it higher, but… Just couldn’t.
Carolyn: Netflix: 2.6/5 stars (lowest possible 3-star movie). IMDB: 6/10.

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.5/10, Netflix: 3.8/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was also 3.8/5 stars–how wrong).

RECOMMENDATION: I have no recommendation. This movie seems to be hard to predict whether people will like or not.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Bridge To Terabithia. But Carolyn says it was a much better movie than this one… And I think I agree with that.

MOVIE QUOTE: Judith: “Happiness isn’t always the best way to be happy.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian loved it. Glen didn’t like it. For once, I agree with his hatin’.

PERSONAL ANECDOTES:

[*] I never heard of Where The Wild Things Are until I was online in the local BBS community in the late 1980s, and encountered a BBS of the same name, run by one Link The Triune. Carolyn was there the whole time, as was her sister, Jeremy Turner, and many other friends who I went on to know in person in college and afterward. It was definitely the best social BBS in Prince William County.

It was so popular that you would often have to auto-dial tons of times just to not get a busy signal. After all, it was one-at-a-time use back then. Imagine a webpage you can only go to if nobody else has it on their screen. And being restricted to connecting only to those pages in your county. [Unless you had ways around long distance fees. <sly grin>] The one good thing was that long distance rates meant you weren’t competing with everyone in the country; just those in your area code. Nonetheless, this BBS was a constant busy signal because of how good the messages and users were.

I eventually convinced everyone to adopt an offline reader so that less phone time was used per-user. Instead of being connected while you read and type all your messages, you simply connected for few minutes to upload the messages you wrote, and download new messages. Kinda analogous to POP email retrieval. This actually meant that 5 people could login in a row, download new messages, log off, and all be typing at once! Pretty soon, the BBS was getting messages at a faster rate than if someone was connected 100% of the time typing as fast as they could. It was tough to keep up!

I don’t really remember a lot of the specifics from back then; it was 20 years ago. I remember I’d have to catch up and reply to various things I wanted to reply to, so it basically meant that in every message section, I’d post about 3-10 times in a row each visit. Massively-deep quoting. Macros. QModem and then Telemate. Line noise. 16 colors of text. IBM extended ASCII characters. ANSI. So many things that just don’t come into play these days. Everything’s been normalized into this mundane interface. Facebook is like everyone having their own BBS, networked with everyone else’s BBS: But with no control, and absolute homogeny in interface. It’s a fascist dictator that gets things done efficiently. But BBSes were like cowboys in the wild west. Very good times.

I have set up a few of people’s “goodbye” messages that they wrote when the board shut down. They can be found at:
http://clint.sheer.us/bbs/wtwta.
They include goodbyes from sysop Link The Triune (Jerry H), Magic Mist (Carolyn), Satan (me), Trailblazer (Dave Pi), Stiletto (John Sch), The Screaming Ogre (Mike P), Stray Toaster, Jam Jobe (Jeff N), Punkin, and Ditto.

There is also a subfolder called “ANSIs“, for some of the ANSI art that I converted to PNG files. I’ve included these in this post, but they are slightly shrunken down here.

As for the book? I never did read it. Eventually, we were gifted some stuffed animals from it, and one came with a tiny (2-inch?) version of the book. I still never bothered to read it.

Maybe now I will… Because it probably won’t be nearly as annoying as the movie.

I think this ANSI captures the twisted mindset some of us had at the time (and still do):

OH HERE’S A GREAT STORY!

There was another BBS, run by a Dave Pi aka Trailblazer, named after the ALL (ex-Descendents) album, called The Paisley Underground:

It was one of the few 301 BBSes I called, since I couldn’t, technically, call 301 without incurring massive fees. [Special thanks to corporation-that-shall-not-be-named and Fenris Wolf, you know who you are.]

this ANSI has nothing to do with this

There was this user, Batman. He was a really immature kid. And considering most of us were in high school or college around then, it’s saying a lot if EVEN HIGHSCHOOLERS think you’re immature.

As a co-sysop with level 254 access, what did I do? I reduced his access from the standard level 20, to level 19. I created a message base that required level 20 access, where everyone could make fun of him. I then edited his account, to set all his colors to black on black. I then logged his keystrokes, and posted messages [in the message base he couldn’t access] showing him hitting keys and trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

This was one of the awesomest ways I ever fucked with someone in my life. Oh, he could see his login prompt. But once he logged in, it was all black on black. And this was the DOS days. It’s not like you could highlight the text and paste it into notepad to read it, like you can nowadays. I don’t even think we had cut and paste back then.

An ANSI was even created in my honor — the only time this ever happened:

Carolyn’s first words to me ever? “Are you Satan?”

Batlamer: “But…But… I’m Batman! Umm… Master of Darkness! er… I’m cool! Honest!”
Me (Satan): “Heh! I’ll change all your colors to black on black and watch the fun!”
Batlamer: “What the?”

This ANSI appears to be about someone, too, but I have no recollection of the story behind it:

Everyone was always obsesses with spam — even before emails and spam emails existed:

In general, the socializing online was much more quaint, stylized, and personable. Nowadays, the giant borg of Facebook has swallowed us all, normalizing our experiences into one common experience with no real separate personality for people. The 2012 way definitely brings more people together in a more technologically efficient way, but the 1988 way was like living as a pioneer in the wild wild west.

Those days shall never be reclaimed, and only those of us that were there will know exactly what it was like. If you haven’t called a Commodore 64 BBS running at 300bps, you haven’t had the full online experience — and never will. If you haven’t  wardialed thousands of numbers looking for hidden BBSes and strange modems, well… I’ve seen a command and control system for a sattelite that I shouldn’t have. You just don’t get to do things like this nowadays. Sigh.

I should probably write more, but I don’t know what to add. Maybe some old members of the BBS will find this post and write some memories. If you do find this, don’t forget to read the goodbye messages everyone left.

(more…)

Stomp on ducks and win a free penis, you say? What does that mean?

20090630 - Britt's birthday dinner - Sampan restaurant - rice soup with duck blood - (by Dad) - 3699514037_0de28cf25f_o

Duck blood soup that I ate after the Cave Duck episode of Food Party. No stomping and no peni were involved.

Well, it started as a BBS thing in high school, but it really blossomed as a college thing for me. I have multiple friends to thank for this phrase being etched in my mind.

BBS ANSI art - Link The Triune - mute duck - 19920722

The first is Link The Triune (Jerry H), who ran the BBS named Where The Wild Things Are.

BBS ANSI art - Where The Wild Things Are - Max - with crown - 19910917

This was the most intense and fun message-based BBS I was ever on in my life — my own BBS On Earth As It Is In Hell (which ran after WTWTA went down) finishes in 2nd place for me. And seemed to be the refuge for ex-WTWTA’ers.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - logon ANSI

opening ANSI art to my BBS

I’m not going to go into the whole “not the internet … busy signals … one person at a time” spiel about BBSes, but anyway, there were lots of message boards (forums), and in one of them, the topic of duck penises came up.

1980s - 0268 ducks

WHY AREN'T YOU STOMPING?!?

Apparently, according to this conversation, male ducks’ penises are retracted inside of their body.

But of course, the conversation took a turn for the worse, and ultimately, we realized that if you stomped a duck to death, its penis would come out.

20070408 - dead bird - Misfit's handywork - inverted welcome mat means YOU'RE NOT WELCOME HERE, bird! - 118-1837

Where the FUCK is my free penis?!?! I'm writing my congressman!

Thus, the phrase “Stomp On Ducks And Win A Free Penis” was born.

COLLEGE

The second person to help etch this into my mind was Arlo Guthrie, my dorm roommate for my 3rd semester in college.

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 62 of 94

the door to our dorm room

Final Tour of Virginia Tech 199705 by Clint - 59 of 94

the interior of our dorm room

He had a performance of a piece he wrote, which was a collection of short stories.

He asked me for a title. I provided him with one. Of course I volunteered Stomp On Ducks And Win A Free Penis. It was too great a phrase to die; this meme had to reproduce.


Valerie instructs us on the proper way to stomp a duck penis.

I didn’t realize he was going to make me stand up and tell everyone its origin. I’m really bad a public speaking. I think I was full of adrenaline, and then pretty much shaking as I had to address everyone.

20100221 - Dirk's wake - GEDC1568 - Clint

NOOOOO!!!!!

And thus, another 50 people had that phrase stuck in their head for awhile.

Ultimately, I found it on my harddrive and emailed it to him. He had lost his files, and I had found mine. ARLO.DOC or somesuch thing. Opened it up, nice to see what it was.

When talking about it in email, he said: “I mentioned this to my wife recently. Her response was something to the effect of, “I wouldn’t have dated you in college.” She’s right.”

Postcard - Post Modern Parents - talking about all the drugs and sex their child is about to do

College.

Anyway, I recently realized that if you Googled the phrase, Google came up with nothing. I immediately tweeted it so that google would have it. And now I’m writing up the long explanation, for posterity. The End. (more…)

Another old computer story. During the 2 Virginia Tech years that I lived in Pritchard Hall, I ran a BBS on the data lines they provided to the dorm. (If you don’t know what a BBS is, click the word BBS for an explanation. This was how people socialized online before the internet came about.)

B&B - SubGeniuses - Bob Bob Bob

Sample BBS advertisement for a SubGenius BBS. Good luck finding a Flying Spaghetti Monster BBS ad. Haha.

My BBS‘s name was On Earth As It Is In Hell, named after a live Samhain bootleg 7-inch vinyl I bought at Smash Records, itself named after lyrics from The Misfits song Earth A.D.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - logon ANSI

On Earth As It Is In Hell login screen. No graphics here, this is all text with ANSI color codes.

It was the most popular message board in Virginia Tech during the 1st of the 2 years I ran it, though during the 2nd year, the internet began to really take off, and lowered my usage. I can’t imagine what the World Wide Web would have done to my BBS; that didn’t come about until I stopped running it.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - ASCII zip comment made from ANSI login screen

On Earth As It Is In Hell login screen, ZIP-file comment version

ANYWAY, the software was WWIV, which I had paid $50 to license and modify the C source code to. I’d spent my whole summer after graduationg high school modifying the BBS code, so that it would be ready for deployment when I got to college.

19930805 - Fish Tank BBS - Dave Nelson was the sysop

My friend Dave N's BBS's ad. He ran WWIV, and together we used obscure modem protocols that nobody else used to become the first gateway for outside messages to reach the Virginia Tech BBS scene. We had nationally syndicated message boards, with his BBS being my BBS's contact point. I was the only BBS in Virginia Tech to achieve this. We had WWIV "email addresses", where we could be contacted internationally -- long before we had real email addresses (which was 1992).

(side-note: It really didn’t help that my parents pulled the pointless bullshit of disallowing me from taking my own computer to college, citing that I “wouldn’t have enough time” to use it, which was very typical bullshit, and completely false. Of course they insisted on buying the $3,000 DEC Alpha station that I said was unnecessary…and that computer was more of a timewaster than anything. Four hours to figure out how to compile Nethack, when you could download it and run it on a PC without compilation? Funk dat!)

blacklights are cool .. so is nethack .. 106-0630_IMG

Nethack being properly played on Carolyn's PC -- no compiler-fu knowledge necessary! Unix is great, but I've got other things to do, like USING my computer instead of tinkering with it.

I was always a mischief maker online — and still am to this day.

I got my first death threats within a year of getting online, in 1988. I got assaulted several times, including while sleeping at my best friend’s house, and while waiting in line for a Testament concert in 1990. At least once, I couldn’t return to my own dorm room. But as the saying goes — “Though they paint the wall to stop my pen, the shithouse strikes again!”

20050723 - Clint cut himself shaving - 100-0005 - Clint bleeding, funny face

Fortunately, I was never assaulted THIS badly. But I do suck at shaving...

I had certainly pulled my share other mean tricks before, as depicted in this ANSI art about me, created by Where The Wild Things Are sysop Jerry Hinn:

This guy named Batman was so lame. My handle was Satan. I used my high access to change his colors to black on black, then created a message board he didn't have access to, and posted the logfiles of him flailing around the BBS, unable to access anything, typing in the darkness of black-on-black text. lulz!

FINALLY, I GET TO WHAT THE SUBJECT IS TALKING ABOUT

I’d pulled my share of mean tricks, and this was another. It was a code modification called DELAYED USER DELETION.

Rather than deleting a user, you simply set his access level to -1, or some other technical fudge. The modified code then checked the user’s access level when they logged on. If it was -1, it would display a message to them, and then delete their account. In this way, I had the technical assurance of getting THE LAST LAUGH.

20091231 - New Year's Eve Chili Cook-Off - Clint - lurking - (by Parthena) - 4236959431_56ce3968f6_b - 2 - original version

Beware--I always get the last laugh.

But that’s not enough. I had to add insult to injury. I used an ANSI art of a big middle finger as my closing message.

Mark + Mask + middle fingers 104-0456_IMG

...and the horse you rode in on!

I also tacked on 4,096 Control-G’s to the end.

Remember Control-G? It’s the beep character.

Back in the DOS days, beeps were loaded into some sort of buffer, and could not be stopped. You had to wait it out. And you could barely type or use your computer or get any responsiveness whatsoever when this happened.

1998ish - Clint's room - screens & clutter - 1

My equipment shall defeat yours!

By flooding their computer with literally thousands of beeps, I wasn’t just deleting them. I was filling their room with loud noises that would bother whoever else was around, AND I was forcing them to have to physically reach for their power switch and turn their computer off. It was my final FUCK YOU to anyone I deleted. Hopefully I woke up their roommates, and they had to get up out of their chair to turn their computer off. HA HA.

best...reboot...ever - A-Bit modified BIOS replaces EPA logo with pot leaf - 112-1288_IMG

Have fun rebooting, assholes!....... I bet you guys don't even know how to modify a BIOS logo...... pfft......

Years later, I ran into people at a party who had been deleted from my BBS. But they refused to tell me who they were. Hahaha.

I wonder if they got hit by the Control-G-bomb??

20070113 - Clint's 33rd Birthday party - 109-0974_Ben - after being forceably subdued

Most assholes I run into at parties do not come from my BBS past.

(more…)

Yup. I got kicked off a multi-line paid chat BBS around 1990. I was the first in the county, as this BBS was the first in the county. YAY NEW HORIZONS!

B&B - SubGeniuses - Bob Bob Bob

It's a rare thing to find a random picture containing 3 loves of my life: J.R. "Bob" Dobbs & The Church Of The SubGenius, BBSes, and Beavis & Butt-head.

Two things you need to know about for this story: 1) BBSes, 2) JIVE.com.

1) Back in the pre-internet days, there were these things called BBSes. I’m not going to explain it every time I post about it, but it was way more rewarding than the internet.

On Earth As It Is In Hell - logon ANSI

the opening ANSI to my BBS

It was, however, very sparse. There’s only so many people online in your calling area, and when you can only use a BBS one person at a time, it takes awhile for things to happen.

Imagine having to read a forum on a webpage where, 99% of the time, you would get a 404 NOT FOUND error — because someone else was reading it at the same time.

Imagine having to reload that webpage throughout the day, hoping to get a chance when the page will actually load, and give you a chance to read and write on it. That’s what BBSing was like, metaphorically.

Also, imagine the page loaded slower than how fast you could read. Furthermore, everyone you met was guaranteed to be local, so this made it “creepy” in ways the internet isn’t. I got to be assaulted multiple times in real life, at the mall, while sleeping at my best friends’ house, at a concert… I got death threats phoned in. I’ve called police both in Prince William County and at Virginia Tech. BBSes are nice and cozy — everyone is within a few miles of you.

Check out this scare piece on BBSes, probably written around 1990.

19930805 - Fish Tank BBS - Dave Nelson was the sysop

Dave N's old BBS add, GIF format - very advanced for the time :)

So anyway, the year was around 1989. The county was Prince William County, VA. The first multi-phoneline BBS, Info*Share (703-803-8000), emerged. It was a chat board. That’s all it was. Call, and go into channels in chat (there was usually only 1), like in IRC.

2001 - computer - Fire - in it's heyday doing IRC

IRC was around, but I never did it at home until over 10 years later

You paid per the minute, too. But I believe I got a 1 year, or maybe lifetime membership for $30. That’s how much I wanted to use the computer to talk to interesting people. The people I met in meatspace weren’t nearly as interesting as the people I met in cyberspace. And the best part is, I got all that money refunded to me in the end!

1993 - Jeremy's Party - 02

BBS gathering in 1993

2) JIVE.COM. The other component to this story is JIVE.COM. (No, jive.com is not a website. In 1988, .COM was an executable extension, like .EXE. JIVE.COM and JIVE.EXE would mean the same thing).

So anyway, there was this program called JIVE.COM. It was, basically, a racist comedy program to convert text to “jive”, like the “jive” language featured in the movie Airplane.

If you want to try it out, download it here. The file’s date is 10/25/1986. My computer won’t run it anymore, unless I use DosBox, which doesn’t support copy and paste, so I can’t provide a sample of the output. The closest thing I could find on the web is the Dialectizer, but you need to change the dropdown from “Redneck” to “Jive”. It’s NOT the same conversion algorithm, though. Jive.com would chainge every exclaimation mark to “Slap mah fro!”. It was ridiculous.
20100807 1404 - Cape Cod - on plane - cockpit - IMG_2206

Airplane is a hilarious, 5-star comedy. AND DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY.

So anyway, I happened to have a good understanding (for a kid my age) of input/output redirection, and I knew my modem was on the COM2: port. So I had the brilliant idea of piping the entire chat room through jive.com, by using the command:

JIVE <com2: >com2:

Of course, I had to drop to DOS from my BBS program, because you could only run one program at a time back then. So I didn’t get the luxury of seeing what happened during those 5 minutes that Jive redirected all of Info*Share’s output back into Info*Share, converted into Jive.

20090118 - cleaning house - 174-7497 - computer cards

these huge outdated cards I threw away in 2009 were obsolete by the late 1990s, and probably not even manufactured yet at the time of this story

I didn’t get to see the flooding of the channel I caused. One of Prince William County‘s first denial of service attacks. Nobody could chat for those 5 minutes, because anything typed would cycle through my computer, come out as jive, go to the channel, come back to me, get converted to jive again, creating an infinite loop.

I stopped after 5 minutes. Some people thought it was funny. A few people were pissed. I got kicked off, and refunded my money, which meant that I spent a whole summer having more fun than I otherwise would have had for free.

And became the first user in Prince William County to be kicked off a pay BBS. This was before the internet or AOL was available to people. This was back in the CompuServe days… I like to think I’m a pioneer in techno-anarchy :)

20070909 - just got Beavis - IMG_3554 - Clint, Beavis, computing

NO MICE BACK THEN. So much easier nowadays.

(more…)

BBSING: ACiD’s (wiki here) final ANSI art park. California wants to control your thermostat. That’s my property! PETA killed 97 percent of its animals — which is exactly why animal shelters shouldn’t be so motherfucking anal. STUDENTS RIGHTS! (more…)

I’m impressed that it’s still around. (Been watching Jason Scott’s 8-part BBS documentary.)
Anyone remember WWIVNet and WWIVLink? Similar. (I could ’email’ across the country before any human being I had ever known [self included] had ever glimpsed the internet….And I should add I was the first human being I knew on the internet, and knew 0 other ones who were on it…until I got to college….)