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The Best of 2015-2014
Well, the year 2015 is in the can, it's been sent off from the garbage fires of history and on to the editorial desk, where future generations can begin to cluck their tongues, wag their chins, and purse their lips at the disturbing things that transpired during this cosmic journey around our dear sun.
So, as any lazy website would do, we've compiled a "Best Of" for 2015-2014 - all of it articles from Pearl River Flow. We included 2014, because we didn't do this last year, so it's only fair.
Most Popular Article: Its' My Mississippi Too, Asshole.
The Downstream has been a very popular addition to Pearl River Flow. It allows our readers, who may have tired of my incomprehensible attempts at humor and communication, to behold my terrifying and alien views of current events. It's My Mississippi Too, Asshole, was based on a nightmarish youtube campaign ad that's still up. Thanks to a mention by a vastly more popular website, IMMTA became the most-viewed thing on Pearl River Flow by a factor of ten.
Least Popular Article That I Thought Was Really Good: The Little Garry Story.
Right off the bat in 2015, I had this thing, here, which was based on a "true" story from late 2014, in which the whole "my kid went to heaven and we wrote a book about it" thing turned out to not be true. I therefore conjured up this, threw in a link to The Onion, which was probably my mistake - all the readers went on to get some GOOD comedy. Anyway. It's got some good jokes. "Blatherskite" is an archaic form of the word "bullshit," and anytime I used a word that started with the letter "B" the next one would start with the letter "S," and the first two words of each paragraph were "B" and "S" words, as were the chapter titles, and well, maybe it wasn't funny, maybe I just thought it was clever. Goddamnit, go read The Little Garry Story and tell me if you agree.
My Favorite Thing: Garbage, M.D.
There's no "explaining" a thing like Garbage, M.D. Go on and read it in the voice of Patton Oswalt.
The Most Reusable Post: The War on Christmas: Happy Holiday Edition.
Another gem from 2014, this one keeps being handy because people keep having stupid made up bullshit. That's also a good explanation for why I do the whole website, to be honest.
Thing That Became Dated the Most Quickly: Gay Marriage FAQ, Mississippi Edition.
I did this because our weasel-like attorney general, Jim Hood, was going out of his way to keep gay marriage illegal in the state of Mississippi. This was in late 2014, right before the supreme court paved the way for gay marriage in all 50 states (we still fought on for a few weeks) - in June. That's a long time in internet time, but Pearl River Flow is timeless. Eternal. Like the river itself. This dating became an intolerable itch in my conscience. It drives me mad, even today. Read the source of my madness, and recall a less tolerant time.
Most Popular Thing from the Newsflow: The FaceSitting Gap.
Combining jokes about face sitting and nuclear war has never been funnier! Before "It's My Mississippi, Too" ruined the top spot, this was the most popular thing on Pearl River Flow, mostly due to a large number of confused searches from the Netherlands.
The First Post of 2015: The Other Side.
There are several not-so-humorous bits (even if they do have a bit of black humor to them) on Pearl River Flow - tales of horror and weirdness, of THE CUBES! THE CUBES! and other dark delights. This was one of those tales. These tales are deeply unpopular.
See, I'd always wanted to include editorial and "news" in my website, since apparently everyone loves injecting their opinions into things directly, and not in my usual, roundabout manner through obtuse jokes involving first letters of sentences and all that tripe. And one of the things that bothers me the most about Jackson - and can be fixed without changing everything in the United States of America - is our dumb plan to dam the Pearl River and make a lake. Also, the part of the website that says "news" is satire, and the part of the website that says "downstream" is news, so there's that. Anyway, here's where we started with the Downstream, before it was.
I really liked the new COSMOS miniseries. I also really love Mark Twain's "Letters from the Earth," so this mini-review wrote itself. The Mire is where I review television, sometimes. It's not very big, because I don't like television. But here we get a new Satan for a modern reader, musing on his favorite television series and just how much he and Carl Sagan are buddies.
Favorite Television Review: Bojack Horseman
Yeah, I don't have a lot to say about this, because I want you to watch the show, not listen to me jabber on about it.
Best Photo Collection: Less Depressing Vistas
This isn't usually what my website is associated with. More people would think of our gallery of abandoned shoes, or old bridges, or lost toys, if asked about the photographic contents of my galleries. Alas, this one got some of the better work in 2015.
Favorite Video Game Review: Fallout 4: A Postcolonial Critique of Postapocalyptic Analysis.
With such gems as "... Fallout 4 shows me the doomed psyche of White America..." and "the hyperviolence is problematic" I think you can see where this is going. But do yourself a favor, and just go read it.
Well, that wraps up 2015 and 2014. Let's hope that 2016 brings us another stellar journey full of wondrous things to throw into the swamp!
"It's not her mirror. But it shows her what she wants to see." - sidebar advert, "Wingers and Slingers" webhub, over a 2098 sexbot.
"A mirror reflects light. Glass lets light shine." - 3D printed graffiti underneath the Mississippi River bridge.
"Glass. It's not a mirror. Glass is a monitor, it displays something only Glass can see." - product placement, "What It's Like to Give Birth" VR series.
"A mirror? NO! Glass is hot new tech! Control your own atoms! Try our new 'guided embodied awareness' protocols!" - GameMaster98 sidebar.
NEWSFLASH: What's turning people evil? Pre-record this story now to view it later, buzzing bees! Dream Pool, Inc, the creators of the popular meatspace interface 'Glass,' are saying that psychological defects created by....
Marketing AI Suggestions: Data Dive 2097, Q3.
Run in major and minor publications simultaneously. 96% of all potential buyers can be reached through 87 venues. Potential customer insights:
100% transhumanist intelligences, with permanent or temporary embodiment.
95% willing to pay for meatspace integration, especially in "primitive zones."
47% capable of affording the device.
98% connection with older, pre-singularity "retro" styles and technologies.
"What the hell did the art team suggest?"
"Retro? Bullshit. Retro is smooth curves, thin profiles, touch screens, one-button, plastic trim. Carl, this is... what is that stuff all over the screen?"
"I think it's supposed to be wood."
"Wood? The carbon corps is gonna have a fucking fit, Carl. You can't cut down wood."
"It's not real wood!"
"Well then what the hell does it remind me of?"
"Why I am disturbed, Carl?"
"For fucks sake, Carl, mirrors are for sleazy sexbot hotels, savefile grandmas and people into perception defects, we're never gonna be able to sell this anyone who can afford it!"
"I'll get marketing on it."
"I like this huge flat screen, though."
The cameras folded in on the chamber, ready to print the new body, as Tara's consciousness sat in the machine, fiddling with the levels, lenses always on the Glass, the thing that all the downloads said was "not a mirror."
She'd G-searched everything she could about mirrors - she'd never seen one, but she gathered that they worked just like a camera screen.
A hacker friend had found the reference, in some obscure corporate vaporvault. It was a 2D image, a thing with wooden feet, a circular shape, trim and frame and screen just like the Glass. A woman stood in front of it, and in the short tube-gif, asked who was hot, and who was not.
"Clear your short-term memory banks." The install wizard said. She didn't. She waited until things were ready, didn't need that distraction. Glass would build her a temporary body, for that safari she'd always wanted, disaster porn viewed with the fear only flesh could provide.
The Glass, the not-mirror, showing her the thing as it was created, the flesh and bones dripping into view, her perception creating it in tandem with the wet print, each fold and form flowing from her own mind. The picture of the mirror, the thing the Glass was not, always there.
Transfer was jarring. New senses quickly awoke. Saves were being filed away in the cloud. Touch was all over, all the time. Smell - smell was no longer a sidenote. She almost gagged, the body would have vomited up stomach contents to the floor, had there been any. Hunger - that was new.
She saw herself in the reflection of the Glass, was shocked at the beauty and glory of her form. The network kicked in, showed her the others. All over the world, assembled flesh from scraps of thought and artificial eyes.
"Glass, glass, that I installed. Who's the hottest one of all?" She asked.
Tara picked up the printed blade.
Center For Cube Studies: Pearl River Flow HQ
Time and date unknown
HEAD RESEARCHER: Garry Blatherskite.
It's possible that I was brought back from the dead just for this. But that doesn't seem right. I was only ten years old. I AM only ten years old, but the cubes change time. I have been doing this for decades. I am yet to begin.
Everyone thought the cube was just one entity, eternal, forever, unchanging, a Platonic form left to weather in the swamp of the Real. We did not think it could be broken. We did not know how many there were, how many there are, how many there will be.
Wrong, wrong wrong! We knew we were wrong, but we - I - just now discovered we were wrong. They don't even know yet. I haven't read the words I am about to type, I have not written them yet, but I have read them on an ancient terminal after the end of the world. They are written in the language of the cubes long after we are all gone.
They change. They multiply. Or divide. It depends on how you view the cubes, or how time views them while you view time.
Back to their mundane substance. Mineralogy escapes us, laser beams and chromatographs spout nonsense, give lines for nonexistent compounds. Hardness seems off the charts, but yet when the time comes for them to... reproduce...
There cannot be another word for it, for what these hexahedrons accomplish with the split shards, cracking along lines only visible in ancient photographs. They reproduce, like bacteria or yeast, each one a multitude dividing, and like these invisible architects, the sole actors on the stage of life for three of the four billion year history of the world, they have a way to... exchange information, a crystalline genetics unhinged by time, alien to the teeming forms of life on earth.
None of life is like them. All of life is like them. Was like them. We changed, became algae and mushrooms and ants and trees and plankton. They did not change. They waited.
Reports have come in. We can see inside the cubes, if we wish to go mad. Many members of the research team did just that, willingly peered into the stone stomata. In an instant born before they were, something was transferred into them, plasmid bridges bringing unfolding sheets and shapes. They saw inside, and they told me of vestigial things, symbiotic organs, impossible matter.
Their words turned into a song of screams, each one desired to have inorganic bones, they argued, not knowing if they always had crystalline fibers for hairs, if the iridescent colors of their skin were becoming more or less pronounced as the cubes rebuilt them, each geometric parasitic egg as flawed and alive as the human beings they had replaced.
I know the cubes will hatch. I know they have hatched. I am not old enough to have seen them in every backyard, appearing next to barbeque grills and water tanks, I know I have never watched curious children point to them at the zoo next to the stained glass panda, eating twitching leaves from the trough formed on top.
I am just a child. I lived and died and came back and I have died again, I see the statues of my coworkers frozen in delight, the joy overwhelming, and yet I see them wish for their crystalline fate. They want to be glass.
They are so beautiful, and I am transfixed by what they will become.
I will look inside. The statues that were my friends, the eggs that were my family, they tell me that I already have looked, I have heard the song of the cubes and it is beautiful. I have always heard it, in my mind, in those quiet moments at 3 AM when the noises of the world are all that is left. My mind is wind over broken time, carving canyons formed by our obsolescence. The cubes have always been here. The cubes will always be here. The only way forward is in stone.
The first cube was in the swamp. We are the last cube.
I am coming home. We all become.
- This strange transmission was found on a disused IBM 5100 in the PRF facility basement. It should be noted that Pearl River Flow has no "Paranormal Research Team," nor a "Center for Cube Studies." The owner of the computer, one "John Titor," was unavailable for comment, though one of the interns swears he was a reporter here. Whatever the case, we are on the lookout for any further developments of THE CUBE.
....while most of the flotsam and jetsam that wash ashore for us here at Pearl River Flow is from the Past, it is not unheard of for things to arrive from more ambiguous timelines....
IN THE YEAR 2014!
Though the fears of men might be turned from thing to thing, in the ancient days of the future past, in that neon-and-chrome future of the movie (and year) 2001 - in that decade, one truth held sway over the hearts and minds of men.
That which they feared most would certainly never harm them.
This truth was first postulated by an ancient human philosopher, the infamous FPJerome, who called it "Jerome's first law." To wit: "The less important information is, the more likely it is to be transmitted."
This was certainly true of old Earth human culture, and at a glance might be taken as a harmless potshot - not all information can be important, and frivolity might be frequently sought in the trying times of that distant past, the late 1990s and early "aughts."
However, in that benighted future, this held true of even life-or-death threats. The amplification of useless information left people terrified of vaccines against deadly diseases, and fearful of viruses they would never catch. They cowered in pants-shitting terror because bearded men had guns half a world away, while being entirely uncertain and uncaring in the face of extinction.
Certainly, men were excoriated for horrible reasons, and wretched truths let slide. But in the distant future, in that year two thousand and fourteen, ONE MAN realized that there was a foe far more expensive and dangerous than any terrorist.
ONE MAN. Goode McRatatoskr. Interstellar squirrel hunter. This day he was waiting on a hoverskip transport in the swamps of the Planet Thetan. Long after everyone left Earth in 2001, it had been discovered that, unlike the planet of mankind's birth, most other planets in the Milky Way had only one defining ecosystem. There were swamp planets, ocean planets, desert planets, lava planets, sure - but too see them all combined into one functional whole was the work of nothing but High Fantasy.
McRatatoskr rode the roiling repulsors into a roaring wakeless summer sunset. He really wished that the hovercraft would leave a glinting wake, but the hunting of mankind's greatest remaining foe could brook no such breach of the squirrel-stealth protocol McRatatoskr had himself developed in his decades spent hunting the wiley Sciuridae, the species of which he had dubbed "the scurrying plague."
His guns were at the ready. The season was open. The limit was reasonable - for reasonable men. McRatatoskr was no such man. He was driven. Driven by the reported death of a family, from some guy, ranting in a storeroom. Squirrels had killed a family. Someone's family. By throwing themselves into the electricity. Like squirrels do.
McRatatoskr knew his all too well. Sure, on Ancient Earth people ate squirrels. But here - here he'd heard the opposite. He'd have to either kill more than eight squirrels or stop listening to random ranting people at the store where he bought all his squirrel hunting gear.
The gear. His high tech hope against the scurrying menace. A man unarmed would face little chance of defeating the bucktoothed terrorists. But McRatatorskr was as armed as the Planet Texas, and as prepared and aggressive as Planet Roosevelt. No squirrel would escape him this day.
"Not this day." He muttered to the robo-driver, who was actually just a guy wearing some foil to fool people into treating him like a human being.
He looked to the scent-cancelling vapor-trans. Ran a calloused trigger finger over the wick-strips of his squirrel-pheromone biobait grenades. Set the adjustable stubble on his Iron Jaw to 5 o'clock, even though it was hardly dawn.
But the jewel in his Squirrel-Murder arsenal was the rifle he called "The Squirrel Sweeper." The high-tech Nitro Piston would propel a 926.6 milligrams of fine alloy at 335 meters per second, and there was no squirrel that could survive an accurate shot from his wrath.
"It's 2014." He told the gun. "The year these squirrels learn to fear man, instead of the other way around."
This is an interview between the staff of Pearl River Flow and an adult female blue heron we found fishing in the bayou between the levee and 1-20, at the end of Pearl Street. Names have not been changed to protect the Ardeidae, which is not an endangered species, and is quite common.
PRF: "So, you're a large bird with a long neck and legs that makes her living fishing in shallow water with a harpoon-like beak. Do you think that your ambush style of predation really fits in with either candidate?"
Blue Heron: "Well, I have to say that in a lot of ways I'm quite conservative. The first heron-like birds showed up in the fossil record about 45 million years ago - it was after the dinosaurs got real small, like I think government should be. But it wasn't until the Miocene era that we really got our "feet in the water," if you get the joke there."
PRF: "I didn't realize you were joking. I'm so sorry. So, which candidate takes up issues most important to you?"
Blue Heron: "Well, I'm pretty big on the issue of crustaceans and small fish in shallow, evaporating pools. That's kind of my thing. I hear that McDaniel sometimes goes to shallow pools and thrusts his face into the mud, opening his outsized beak at the last moment to grasp his prey, before tossing it down his throat whole."
PRF: "I'm pretty sure Chris McDaniel doesn't do that."
Blue Heron: "Are you?"
PRF: "...no. But I'm sure he doesn't have a beak."
Blue Heron: "Well, on the other hand, Senator Cochran was in the navy. I'm a navy woman myself."
PRF: "I didn't know that. How do you feel about military spending?"
Blue Heron: "I'm sure it's a reflection of some sort of insecurity. Both candidates seem dead set on it. For McDaniel, it probably has to do something with his immense age."
PRF: "For the record, Heron, Mr. McDaniel is almost half the age of Senator Cochran."
Blue Heron: "Oh. Well. You all live too long anyway. He's what, 90?"
PRF: "Mr. Cochran is 76."
Blue Heron: "No, the other guy! Sweet mother of egrets, can people live to be 76? How old is McDaniel? 75?"
PRF: "According to our records, he was birthed in a nightmarish conglomeration of blood and ichor a mere 41 years ago."
Blue Heron: "I'm so glad I lay eggs."
PRF: "So, who will you be voting for in the runoff?"
Blue Heron: "Oh, I can't vote."
PRF: "On account of you being a bird? Why, that's speciesist, specious, and outrageous! I won't stand for it! None of evolution's beautiful creations deserves to be left out of the decision-making process in the most powerful nation on Earth!"
Blue Heron: "Oh, no, it's because I don't have a valid ID."