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The Empty City

New this week: Chapter 91, in which Jim overhears a couple arguing on the subway


Lost Wallet

As the cab door slammed shut, a wallet fell out. Rina noticed it, then scanned for other witnesses. Her eyes met Peter's - he was doing the same thing. The cab drove off. Rina and Peter gazed at each other, then back at the gutter... then at Arnold, who scooped up the wallet and dashed away.

Cool Words

panjandrum (pan-jan'-drum) n. a person of importance [from the Grand Panjandrum, character in a story by Samuel Foote]

Haiku Reviews

The 13th Floor :-)
Vacate your other
virtual reality
and go see this film.
Daddy-O's Reviews

The 13th Floor

The ads made this look like a mad slasher / horror movie of the sort I would never willingly sit through; but actually, it's a well crafted murder mystery / suspense-thriller, centered around a highly detailed virtual reality simulation of Los Angeles, circa 1937. It's kind of a Blade Runner/Dark City/The Matrix sort of hybrid. I particularly liked the way the 1937 scenes were all in washed-out sepiatone color, like a faded vintage postcard come to life.

Tirade's Choice
The Gallery of Regrettable Food
Fruits of Chaos
Gav and Peloso's Interactive Story


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June 10, 1999

New this week:


What's New?Aslan Escapes / Survey Results / New Featurettes

We've been having a run of bad luck with our cats. A couple of weeks ago, we lost our big black cat Terl, due to health problems; needless to say, this was depressing, although not as much as you might think, since he was an anti-social cat who hid from us most of the time. However, on Tuesday, our most friendly and beloved cat, Aslan, somehow got outside. All our cats are indoor cats, so this was very upsetting for us. There's a busy road at the end of our street, and some years ago we had a cat named Einstein who was killed by a car before we'd even realized he'd gotten out. So when we pieced together the clues and realized that Aslan had engineered an escape sometime during the previous evening, we got pretty scared. To make matters worse, it's was a brutally hot day, and since Aslan's starting to show his 13 years, worries over heat stroke added fuel to our escalating fears. When the first patrol of the immediate surroundings came up empty, we decided to enlist our neighbors in the search and quickly put together a "Have You Seen Me?" flyer to canvas the neighborhood with. We put one in every mailbox within a several block radius of our house, and on some telephone poles for good measure, and then tried to get back to work, hoping that someone would find him and give us a call.

The day passed very slowly. We took many walks through our neighborhood, to no avail. In the evening we got a few reports back, of a cat fitting Aslan's description, seen hiding under cars, chasing birds up into trees, and generally having himself a great adventure... but darkness fell with no luck in finding him, and I started writing this report with the belief that he'd still be missing when I posted it.

But this story has a happy ending. A neighbor named Gary rang our doorbell, saying he'd seen a gray cat under his car... but by the time we got back there, the cat was gone. Even so, we knew he had to be close, so we broke out the flashlights and launched a full scale search. We were soon joined by another neighbor, Dave, who had spotted Aslan on his porch that morning, and after much shining of flashlights into bushes and under cars, we finally found him. Whew!

The response to last week's survey has been very gratifying. It's great getting feedback from our readers, and even better to discover that lots of people like the Fluxx T-shirt idea and plan on buying one (or more) when we make them available. The results were largely predictable, although there were some surprises... The Toaster wasn't even on our initial list of choices, but has proven to be one of the most popular options, and while I had assumed that The Brain would make the final cut, I hadn't counted on it being the second most popular choice. Chocolate, to no one's surprise, was the most popular Keeper.

A useful side effect of Alison's having recently obtained a Master's Degree is that she knows how to munge statistics and generate cool bar graphs, so she took on the job of tabulating the results and creating the chart you see here.

The Keepers displayed in green are the ones we'll be making into shirts. We're going with the will of the people on all but the bottom-ranked choice; there, I feel it's less important to be democratic than it is to have a set of Keeper shirts that play well together. (The Toaster has no companion without Television or bread, and with no Doughnuts in sight, Coffee would also be unescorted. War would work with Death, of course, but that wouldn't solve the Toaster problem and anyway, as a peace-loving hippie, I'm always eager to eliminate War.)

Thanks for voting! The T-shirts will be debuted at Origins, and available on the website sometime thereafter.

One of my favorite kinds of fiction, both to create and to consume, is the very short story. A few years ago I picked up a slim volume of such stories, edited by Jerome Stern, entitled Micro Fiction, in which each story was no more than 250 words. More recently, I got another volume of super short stories that takes the challenge one step further, limiting each story to exactly 55 words. This book, entitled The World's Shortest Stories, edited by Steve Moss, sets down the rules for 55 word stories as such: each story must contain the following four elements: 1.) a setting, 2.) one or more characters, 3.) conflict, and 4.) resolution. Plus of course, the whole thing can only be 55 words long, not counting the title, which must be no more than 7 words long. (There are also some technical details about what really constitutes a word, but I won't bore you with those here.)

Inspired by the challenge of creating an entertaining short story in such a small number of words, I started writing tiny stories of my own. I've written enough of them now - and had so much fun doing it - that I've decided to try to post a new one every week. And thus was born a new featurette, which I'm calling Nanofiction, since these stories are even shorter than those in the Microfiction category. I'll be following the rules set forth by Steve Moss so that I can submit my stories for his next anthology, but I'm adding one more rule of my own: since these stories will be featured in the left hand column of the WWN webzine, and vertical space there is at a premium, all Nanofiction entries will be formatted as a single paragraph.

I'm starting this week with the first piece of Nanofiction I wrote, entitled Lost Wallet. I hope you like it.

Last week I announced that Dr Cool had grown weary of choosing cool sites each week and was retiring. No sooner did toK hear this news than she volunteered to pick up where he left off. So this week we proudly present Fruits of Chaos, a new weekly cool site award, driven and maintained by The Other Kristin. Be sure to check out her archive page, since there she'll be including a couple of sentences about each site and why she picked it.


AndyDon't forget to play!

New Iceland cartoonthe story so far

Thought Residue
Ads for a new drug called Cellasene assert that it's been "Clinically Studied to Help Reduce Cellulite." What does THAT mean? Not clinically proven, determined, or shown... merely "studied." Huh?
Birth Control pills have been legalized in Japan!
Attempting to predict the future is a key element in the inventing process.

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