Fan Fiction

Talia’s in her booth at the con, bugging the bunny phone, but her father doesn’t pick up. She cradles her own phone close to her cheekbones, sweating on the metal in one hand and using the other to click refresh on the taskbar on the browser on her laptop. He’s on a list, she wants to tell him. He’s on one of those copypasta lists goose-steppers grow on Stormfront and /POL/ until the thorny burs are ready to fruit and spread to the undersides of YouTube videos and Facebook groups. The laptop fan whines inside the plastic casing as Talia tries to balance the machine on her jeans. She’s sure the screen is going to fritz out from the heat if she doesn’t first.              

The answering machine clicks for the fifth time, and for the fifth time the 2nd movement of Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse plays in the tinny speakers of Talia’s phone. “Eh, Doc’s not here right now,” says a pre-recorded cartoon rabbit over the bum bum bum of the orchestra, “but you can leave a message.” The machine beeps. This time Talia does leave a message, but only asking her father to call her back. She doesn’t tell him his name is on DeviantArt, under some PG-13 fan art of her Middle Ghoul characters, sandwiched between Rubins and Rosens and Weinsteins and Cohens.

Talia clicks X on a fic and two wiki tabs, shutters a subreddit, and sidebars a blog. She closes a page of balloon fetish fan art where Ghost Principal Lamar is hypnotizing the nameless mummy English teacher into sucking down a canister of helium. She leaves up only the window with her father’s name. In the drawing above, Coach Scotts, the werewolf gym teacher, lifts the shirt off of Mr. Stanley, the werebear math substitute. In the comments below, users praise the quality but mock the pairing as unrealistic. The comment with the list sits unconnected to any other string of conversation.

Beyond Talia’s laptop, unsold books stack into a makeshift embankment, steering rivers of costumed traffic away from the booth so she can hide in the valley below. She doesn’t see the woman with ice blue fingernails fingering her “Commissions Welcome” sandwich board until the woman is already peering over the terrain at Talia’s crouched body. She is dressed like Wendy Wiggins from Wiggins and Things, in a striped ascot and a hoop skirt. She smells like a non-real smell, like what the Yankee Candle store might unhelpfully label “Seasons Greetings,” or “Yuletide Cheer.” She brushes against the chalkboard and Talia worries the outfit will wipe away the price list.

“It’s a hundred for a headshot,” says Talia, pulling up from the laptop screen. “One fifty for full body, three hundred if you want more than one character in a scene.”

“Hey, I know who you are!” the woman says.

“Neat,” says Talia.

“I love your comic.”

“Much appreciated,” says Talia.

The woman pauses for a moment. She looks back at the board.

“So, did you get screwed out of royalties or something?” she asks.

“What do you mean?” asks Talia. She digs her elbows into her knees, tenting her fingers under her chin.

“I mean, there’s a Middle*Ghoul! marathon on Nickelodeon twice a week, at minimum. Why are you busking in upstate New York?”

Talia tilts her head. She holds her eyes closed for longer than a blink and pokes a thumb out to scratch the right corner of her lips. Middle Ghoul is a webcomic. Middle*Ghoul! (based on characters by Talia Roth) is an Annie Award-winning series under the control of SaberThoughts Animation. Talia has nothing to do with the direction of the show nor the production team, which adapted a three-year archive of her plotlines and finished all of them by the end of the first season. They’re on season four now. When people at the con ask her for spoilers on the show, she half-jokes she’s become a fan artist for her own creation. If they persist, she repeats it without joking at all.                                

“You know, some people like taking commissions.” she says. “Some artists, even financially secure ones, enjoy the process of taking requests and getting paid for it.”                  

“So they didn’t screw you.”                                                   

“No, they screwed me completely,” she says.

“Sucks,” says Wendy Wiggins.

“Quite,” says Talia.

Light covers the woman from two directions: above are the frost-white industrial halogens of the T.U. Arena — lights more attuned to scouring shadows from college basketball tournaments and local hockey games than creating a comfortable color temperature for a digital artists’ convention — and behind her blinks a string of unseasonal Christmas LEDs draped across the booth across from Talia’s. The combined impression of the lights and the perfume in a sweltering mid-July afternoon in Albany leaves Talia’s stomach feeling a click displaced, temporally.                                  

She checks the clock on her laptop, then the display on her phone, then the schedule leaflet on the floor. It’s two hours until her panel for DRAW-LEC-TRICITY 2014. Her name sits on a list with five others under the heading Canon or Fanon: Who’s The Boss? Talia knows she is not the boss. Sales are the boss, which is why she’s going on the panel. Up until twenty minutes ago, she was collecting fandom field samples with the zeal of an academic and dumping them into a .doc file on her hard drive. Distractions are amassing.    

Talia waits for the woman to say something else, but she doesn’t. Talia waits for her to leave, but she sticks in place, like a dead pixel on a television screen. Her nails look dangerously close to scratching the book covers.                                                         

“So, do you want to help me up above the poverty line this month?” asks Talia, “Or is

there something else I can do for you?”                                                       

“Do you do special pricing for adult content?” Talia grimaces.                                           

“I usually don’t take requests like that at conventions,” she says.

“Morally opposed?”                           

“I’m all for sex-positive art, this just isn’t the right environment for me.”

“Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Sure. I can get that.” She bobs her head. “I’ll give you three thousand


“That’s...” Talia closes her eyes. She exhales. “That’s a lot,” she says.


“Can you maybe give me a sense of what you had in mind?”                                             

“I have a few notes,” the woman says.

Wendy Wiggins holds up a three-ring binder. Talia is sure the woman didn’t have it before. The frontside plastic shines unmarked and unlabeled. Translucent dividers stick out from the side in a repeating tri-color pattern: red, yellow, blue, red, yellow, blue. Sheaves of paper fatten the spine and force the front and back covers out at an obtuse angle.

Wiggins zips through the pages, stopping three-quarters in. She reaches over Talia’s book fort and dangles the open binder by a thumb and a middle finger meeting in an ‘okay’ sign through the upper ring. Talia scans the swaying text. Everything is handwritten. Some terms are highlighted. ‘Deep throat,’ ‘strap-on,’ ‘fully engorged,’ ‘coital synthesis,’ and ‘unblinking portrait of the death of the American dream in a macro-economic context.’ On the next page, there are rough diagrams.

“This is all a bit intricate,” says Talia.                                                          

“I’d like to see it with Ghost Principal Lamar and the hypnotherapist, if possible.”

“The guidance counselor? Debbie Dee?”

“That’s the one.”

“I’ll have to think about it,”                                       

The woman pulls out a checkbook and swoops a sparkling pen across the “amount” line. Her knuckles form a series of sharp peaks across the back of her hand. She rips the paper off and hands it to Talia. 

“I’ll be back in an hour and a half,” says Wendy Wiggins, “Whether or not I sign the check is up to you.

The woman slips into the crowd before Talia can object to the payment plan. Talia looks at the check. She folds it and buries it in a drawstring bag on her chair. She takes a pillar of books off the desk to make room for her laptop and lifts the lid, opening Facebook in a new window, searching for her father in the chat sidebar. He’s not online. She sends him a message anyway, again asking for a phone call, and copy-pastes the message to his work email.

The other tab still sits at the top of her browser. Talia flicks back over to the list and hovers over the report button. She doesn’t press it. She taps the casing with the flat tips of her fingers, and toggles the brightness buttons on her keyboard, dimming and illuminating the display quick enough to make the screen shimmer. She clicks the username, which brings her to the account’s profile. It’s blank: no drawings, no favorites, no preferences. The page says the account is two years old, but the list appears to be its only post.       

Copy-pasting the list into Google leads Talia to a wiki page with a grinning Shylock in the upper right corner. Talia’s seen the smaller lists, twenty names, maybe thirty. CEOs, Presidents, Producers, and other major figures. Moonves. Spielberg. Sometimes Barbara Walters. Sometimes Mike Wallace, even though he’s been dead for years. This crowdsourced version bursts with less famous names, names of talent agents, associate producers, assignment editors, casting directors, book sales associates, accountants, marketing directors, bank tellers, make-up artists.                               

It calls Isaac Roth a ‘Hollywood Agent.’ That’s not accurate. Talia’s dad lives in Schenectady and writes public relation copy for a lobbying firm focused on tax credits for New York State film productions. There’s no vast entertainment conspiracy to that. The closest Talia ever got to meeting a Hollywood celebrity was seeing Steve Buscemi for thirty seconds at a D.P. Dough when she was sixteen.                                        

Sometimes Isaac’s name shows up in the contact info of press releases. Sometimes press releases get pasted on the firm’s website. Sometimes having your name show up in the wrong place is all it takes to become the subject of someone else’s conspiracy theories.

Talia jumps to the edit page of the wiki and erases her father from the list. Then she shrinks the window, unsheathes a drawing tablet from her bag, plugs in the USB, and begins sketching.





TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY has entered #DRAMABOMB                                         



12:55 <DOOT_OF_EARL> My friends, can’t we, just once, grant OP a break from the ridicule?



12:56 <SUPER_KEITH> We’re not your friends.

12:56 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> No. Also I just logged on, who are we mocking?

12:57 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> We’re not mocking, we’re helping. We’re immortalizing.

12:57 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Our community offers transcendence to petty online fights.

12:57 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> OP is a recurring myth we pass down. A folk legend. An hero.

12:58 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Like tales of an archetypal trickster god, but not as smart.

12:58 <DOOT_OF_EARL> I thought it was just an acronym for Original Poster.

12:58 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Who’s the OP this time?

12:58 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> This genius:

12:59 <DOOT_OF_EARL> Guy claims to know the voice actors for the original Magic School Bus.

12:59 <DOOT_OF_EARL> Someone asks for proof and he posts a pic of an autographed script.

12:59 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Then one of the actual voice actors appears out of nowhere,

12:59 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Says he’s never met the guy, and that’s not his signature.


13:00 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> OP insists it’s real. They’re fighting it out in the comments.




13:01 <FEZZWICK> I know what “an heroing” is code for. None of that here.

13:01 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> I doubt he was actually suggesting we goad someone into suicide.

13:01 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Nobody says “an hero” anymore. That meme is a decade old.

13:02 <FEZZWICK> I don’t care. Not even as a joke.

13:03 <DOOT_OF_EARL> Could have been a typo.

13:04 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Oh my god. That entire Magic School Bus thread is great.

13:04 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> OP: “Prove you’re really Danny Tamberelli.”

13:04 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Danny Tamberelli:Okay, here’s a picture of me.”

13:05 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> OP: “That proves nothing.”




13:05 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Why was I kicked out of the room?

13:06 <DOOT_OF_EARL> “an hero.”

13:04 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> FEZZWICK thinks you want us to troll someone into an early grave.

13:05 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> It was a typo.

13:05 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> WatWarSoc still tells people the guy from last year was our fault.

13:06 <DOOT_OF_EARL> My guess is FEZZWICK doesn’t want to give them more ammo.

13:07 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> That was a fake suicide.

13:07 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Also, WatWarSoc’s userbase got way more involved than us.

13:07 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> They’re just better at spinning the narrative.

13:08 <FEZZWICK> You weren’t supposed to be involved at all. We don’t touch the drama.

13:08 <FEZZWICK> We observe from a safe distance so as not to influence it.                             

13:09 <SUPER_KEITH> Observing drama makes you part of the drama. There’s no safe distance.

13:09 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> How are you sure it was a fake suicide?

13:10 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> The guy deleted his account afterwards.

13:10 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> How does a dead person delete their own account?

13:10 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> It could have been the admins. Or a family member.

13:11 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> OP is alive.

13:11 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> OP is alive.

13:11 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> OP is alive. I’m not debating again.

13:12 <SUPER_KEITH> Hey, whatever narrative makes you feel like you’re not a bad person.

13:12 <SUPER_KEITH> That’s the one you get to decide is true.

13:12 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Oh fuck off







/LAST LOGIN: 9 JAN 2006/




Get the most from your browser!

Download the MSN Toolbar for Internet Explorer or Netscape Today! (323 MORE)


Inbox (22,405)

Junk (213,021)


Drafts (14)



From: US Patriots Coalition ListServ

Date: DEC 31 2009 05:01:41 EST

Subject: FD: STOP THE THUG SOCIALIST TAKEOVER OF MEDIA FD: Fundraising for the Family Television Conservatory

CC: Abbey, Celia-Anne; Abbey, Diana; Abbott, Orson M.; Abdow, Elmira; [...] (95,644 MORE)




Our case against the media’s agenda of sin has never been stronger, but it has also never needed you more.


Not since the Clinton administration have we seen such a campaign of disinformation and moral degradation waged through televisions, radios, movie theater screens, bookstores, libraries, universities, and public school classrooms. There is no escape from the homosexual indoctrination.


But with your vigilant support, the Family Television Conservatory has been fighting for family values since 1989:





Take action now to maintain media integrity.

Do what you can to ensure there is never another show to poison the minds of our children

as The Wild Thornberrys has.


As we stand on the precipice of a new decade, we enter the next phase of America’s culture war. Please visit our secure donation site here.


Donations as low as $20 earn you “Recognized” status within the Family Research Conservatory. Donors who give more than $500 earn a “Friend of the FRC” designation, as well as our signature FRC pin, refrigerator magnet, mousepad, two-year subscription to our quarterly magazine, and signed first edition copy of Randy in the Rhineland, the true history of how an unchecked culture of perversion in European art led to the rise of the Third Reich.


Fond regards,


James Kelly Robertson, Executive Director

Family Television Conservatory




The booths of DRAW-LEC-TRICITY lay longways across the stadium’s central ellipse. They run in eight parallel rows, with every two rows paired back-to-back against shared, curtained dividers. At various points, smaller dividers branch off the main curtains at ninety-degree angles, separating some, but not all, of the artists’ individual displays. From above, on the cracked concrete steps of the arena, amid the ring of 17,115 empty plastic chairs, the crowd below looks as if it’s flooding around four stubby millipedes with missing legs.                       

Talia’s booth sits on an inward facing row in one of the outer millipedes. Artists and attendees are coming back from lunch, so the aisle in front of her is jammed with plucky superheroes, custom t-shirts, horse masks, orange horned trolls in grey face paint, and more custom t-shirts. The grand return follows an hour of near solitude. Minutes ago, she had had a clear line of sight across the entire aisle, from the used Nissan ad on one end of the rink wall to the local TV news promo on the other. Now she has to hide.

Eager channels of people split from the stream of attendees and sediment themselves in pockets against the front edges of the booths. Talia smiles weakly at the guests lingering in front of hers and sinks further into her chair, aiming for an expression that combines ‘now isn’t a good time’ with ‘please donate to my Patreon.’ Her laptop screen is at an acute angle with her keyboard and she’s slouched back into privacy mode. A dull ache alternates between her neck, her shoulders, and her wrist as she tries to find a better view and maintain it. At the most comfortable drawing position the reflection of her laptop’s black E-R-T-Y-U-I-O keys cuts across the tangled naked bodies onscreen like a censorship bar misplaced by a drunk standards and practices department.

She slams the laptop shut, nearly cracks the plastic on the outside of her monitor, when a man in a Rat Stick t-shirt stops by with a costumed 5-year-old. The girl dangles over her father’s shoulders, hugging his forehead. She’s dressed like Marza Ghoul, the youngest daughter of Ghost Principal Lamar. She’s dressed like the version from the webcomic, though, with the barrettes and the purple skull wristbands. They pick up a book. Talia offers to sign it and the girl says nothing but begins grinning and kicking her father's chest. The father smiles in pain and Talia doesn’t charge them for the copy and then they’re gone. Talia cycles back through her phone-Facebook-email carousel for any notifications from her own father. Nothing’s changed. Except, no, one thing has changed. Now, when she calls, the answering machine doesn’t pick up. The phone just keeps ringing. She checks his Twitter, not that he’s ever tweeted. She hacks his Fitbit account, not that it’s really hacking since his password is the same as his wi-fi password, and not that it helps anything since his last run was a year ago, two months after she got him the band for his birthday. She texts her mother, but knows her mother won’t have any more idea where her father is than Talia. Mom’s lived in Rochester since 1998.

When Talia revisits the Shylock wiki, her father’s name is back. She returns to the edit page and re-erases him. Forty seconds of rapid-click refreshing and he’s back again. She slides over to the page history and sees her two revisions alternating with an account called GrundyStormer. The account’s second edit has a memo attached to it, telling her to “back the fuck off fag. I see you.” She’s been barred from editing the site.

Her browser has a bookmark list of proxies she can use, but half of them are blocked on building’s wifi, and she finds the half that aren’t are already banned from the wiki. The page won’t load on her phone.                                          

“Whatcha hiding?”                                        

Two silhouettes dart onto Talia’s table. She snatches the laptop off and looks up to see a scruffy twig in a cargo vest and a tall woman with britpunk red hair and a baby bump— Grant Eggert (who draws Jurassic Pterodactyl Weekend Brunch) and Kira Eggart (who used to draw Depressing Image Parade, and now draws College Students with Troubled Personal Lives), respectively.

“Don’t you have a booth to watch?” asks Talia, hugging the laptop.

“Oh my god,” says Grant, lowering his glasses. “Do we? Do we have a booth?”

“I’m pretty sure we do,” says Kira. “I know I’ve been there.”

“And I know I’ve been there,” says Grant.                                        

They glare at Talia. Kira folds her arms. Grant rests an elbow on a column of books. He slides off, pushing it to the floor. All three of them turn their necks to follow the merchandise as it scatters and wobbles and settles on the ground, thwacking and sliding to the interior corners of Talia’s booth. They turn back to each other. Talia blinks. “I am sorry for not visiting you,” says Talia. “I figured we were going to see each other at the thing later.”                                              


“And I am sorry for not RSVPing to the baby shower.”

“For that alone we’re making you the godmother,” says Kira.                                            

“And what are you hiding?” asks Grant.                               

“Nothing. I’m... fighting an internet Nazi, but my phone won’t work with his website.” Talia holds it up. “Can I borrow yours?”

“That is a stupendous reason to borrow a phone,” says Kira. “But I haven’t updated my hardware since 2006. No web access.”

“I’m over my data cap,” says Grant. He shrugs.

“Can’t you still get on the wifi though?”

“Honestly, I just don’t want to give you my phone.”

Talia shifts in her chair, still hugging the laptop. Kira glances at the cord attached to the USB port and follows it to the drawing tablet on the table. She reaches over Talia’s remaining fortification and picks up the stylus.                                              

“What are you drawing?” asks Kira.


Grant and Kira glance at each other.

“What are you drawing?” asks Grant “Is it porn?”                                      

“No,” says Talia.

“Oh my god, it’s porn!” says Kira.


“Smut-peddler!” says Grant.

“Floozy!” says Kira.


“Can we see it?”


“We’re going to go tell people.”                               

“Please don’t.”

“Too late, we’re already running.”

They run.

At five minutes before the deadline, Talia finishes the final linework on the commission. At ten minutes past the deadline, Talia erases and redraws the linework she just completed. At twenty-five minutes past the deadline, Wendy Wiggins returns and Talia holds up a finger asking her to wait just a moment, she swears, she’s almost got it. At thirty-five minutes, she drops the stylus, asks for the woman’s email, has her sign the check, and sends the image.     

“I’m not paying for this,” says Wendy Wiggins, checking her phone. She doesn’t look at Talia. Her fingers pinch and zoom the image on the touchscreen, examining the piece in detail.       

“Excuse me?” Talia says.

“You can do better work than this.”

“Not in the time limit you gave me.”

“Which you were late for.”                                       

“I’m not a Papa John’s. You don’t get the drawing free just because I was a little behind schedule with the delivery. Also you signed the check. Are you planning on canceling it?”

“I mean I could,” she says. “Online, in like, two seconds. Faster than you could try and cash it at a bank, at least.”

“Excuse me?”                                    

Wendy Wiggins lowers her phone. She shrugs and grins and bears her teeth and floats back toward the crowd, wedging herself between a row of Power Rangers and a zombie Deadpool, riding the momentum upstream.                                                                     

Talia springs from the chair. She dumps her laptop into her bag, throws it around her shoulder, hooks her hands at the edge of her table and swings through the space underneath. A Stormtrooper nearly crushes her ankles as she comes out the other side. Her elbows slam onto the ground and she pushes herself up.                           

Too many books remain on Talia’s desk and she shouts at the guy in the booth with the Christmas lights to watch her stuff while she’s gone. His face pulls back like he’s going to say no. She doesn’t wait around to let him. Instead, she jams herself into the crowd and rides through the tidal openings and closings of person-sized spaces. She catches up with the Power Rangers at the edge of the stadium floor as they push out onto the lower wraparound corridor. The green ranger gives way as Talia cuts through, but Wendy Wiggins is no longer between them.       

Talia’s scanning the exits when her phone buzzes. She reaches for her pocket fast enough to miss on the first attempt and slide her fingers across her jeans before stuffing her them into the hole and snagging the sides of the phone in her hand. When she pulls it out, it’s not her father on the caller ID, it’s a number she doesn’t recognize                             

“Hello?” she says. “You’re late for the thing.”                                             

Aw fuck.

She’s late for the thing.



14:02 <TRENCH_FRIES> So what is WatWarSoc?

14:02 <DOOT_OF_EARL> The W.W.S.

14:02 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> The Watch and Wards.

14:02 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> The big W.                                             

14:02 <TRENCH_FRIES> Right, but who are they?

14:03 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> “I buried it all under a big W”




14:03 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> They’re a flock of oversensitive gits who can’t take a joke.

14:03 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> They sort of roam websites looking for things they don’t like.

14:03 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> And then they try to get the people involved in trouble.

14:04 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> Mad Mad World reference? Anyone?

14:04 <SUPER_KEITH> “Things they don’t like” being, I dunno, sexual harassment? Bigotry?

14:04 <SUPER_KEITH> The people who complain about WWS

14:04 <SUPER_KEITH> are more annoying and omnipresent than the group itself.

14:04 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Says you.

14:05 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> 1963? Milton Berle? remade as Rat Race?

14:05 <SUPER_KEITH> Oh, forgive me. I’m sorry people call you racist when you say racist shit.

14:05 <SUPER_KEITH> It must be real traumatizing having to consider people’s feelings.

14:05 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> please. My jokes aren’t racist, they’re hilarious. Oh. no.


14:06 <SUPER_KEITH> Yeah, because PTSD is so godfucking lulz worthy.

14:06 <SUPER_KEITH> “Waaah. WatWarSoc called me out for being utter human garbage.”

14:06 <SUPER_KEITH> “But they’re the oversensitive ones!” -ELEVATOROPERATOR, 2014

14:06 <SUPER_KEITH> That’s you. That’s a direct quote from you. From like two seconds ago.

14:06 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> FEZZWICK, are you going to let him get away with that?

14:06 <FEZZWICK> Yes?                                                       

14:06 <SUPER_KEITH> I’m writing it in my quote book of direct quotes you have said.

14:06 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> There was also a Simpsons episode about it.

14:07 <DOOT_OF_EARL> WatWarSoc isn’t as bad as some people say they are,

14:07 <DOOT_OF_EARL> but they’re not as good as they like to pretend to be.

14:07 <SUPER_KEITH> It is not a long book, but I turn to it time after time for enlightenment.

14:07 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> So when I start flaming people, I get kicked,

14:07 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> but when other people flame me, it’s fine.

14:07 <FEZZWICK> Yes?




14:07 <FEZZWICK> I never said I was a great mod.

14:07 <TRENCH_FRIES> DOOT_OF_EARL, what do you mean?

14:07 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> I depend on a shared reference base

14:07 <SUPER_KEITH> Why not just ban him rather than kicking him for five minute gaps?

14:07 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> to hold even the most basic of conversations

14:07 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> and you all are making me reeaal insecure. 14:08 <DOOT_OF_EARL> Like, some of the stuff they call out absolutely needs to be called out.

14:08 <DOOT_OF_EARL> A lot of the problems are as real as they point out.

14:08 <DOOT_OF_EARL> But some of their actions cross the line into harassment.

14:08 <FEZZWICK> I would be bored otherwise.

14:08 <DOOT_OF_EARL> And some of their targets really don’t deserve it.

14:09 <DOOT_OF_EARL> They got Drainbow cancelled.                                                     

14:09 <FEZZWICK> Also, he’s responsible for finding, like, a third of our content.

14:09 <TRENCH_FRIES> Drainbow was them? Shit. I loved that show.

14:09 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> They’ll go after other people for making the same sort of jokes they make on their own site.

14:09 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> “My ironic bigotry is witty and subversive commentary.”

14:09 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> “Your ironic bigotry is a mask for the fact you’re an actual bigot.” 14:10 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERTHING_TWICE> It’s such a self-serving high school clique.

14:10 <SUPER_KEITH> And we aren’t?

14:10 <SUPER_KEITH> “WatWarSoc is so lame and invasive you guyz!”

14:10 <SUPER_KEITH> “Now let’s go back to judging people from our own perch!”

14:11 <SUPER_KEITH> “Which is politically neutral and therefore much more morally pious.”

14:11 <SUPER_KEITH> You’re traumatized a bad TV show got cancelled

14:11 <TRENCH_FRIES> I think you are underestimating

14:11 <SUPER_KEITH> but mocking vulnerable people who need a space to feel safe. Priorities.

14:11 <DOOT_OF_EARL> I don’t believe I was doing that?

14:11 <SUPER_KEITH> k.

14:12 <TRENCH_FRIES> how good of a show it was.

14:12 <DOOT_OF_EARL> I’m not against the concept of safe spaces.

14:12 <SUPER_KEITH> My sense is yes you are, or you wouldn’t be arguing with me.

14:12 <DOOT_OF_EARL> No, I don’t buy the “millenials = coddled” crap. That’s not my issue.

14:12 <DOOT_OF_EARL> It’s uncomfortably easy for a “safe space” to not actually be safe

14:12 <DOOT_OF_EARL> is my point.

14:13<TRENCH_FRIES> It was probably the best show I’ve ever seen.

14:13 <DOOT_OF_EARL> You can have the right opinions and still be an abusive person.

14:13 <DOOT_OF_EARL> You can build a space criticizing people for entirely legitimate reasons

14:13 <DOOT_OF_EARL> and still have toxic stuff bubbling under your own surface.

14:13 <DOOT_OF_EARL> is all I’m saying.

14:14 <SUPER_KEITH> And the good they do to help people being harassed by monsters

14:14 <SUPER_KEITH> outweighs whatever false equivalence, “be nicer to bigots,” standard




14:14 <SUPER_KEITH> you seem to have for them. Is all I’m saying.

14:14 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Guess who’s euphoric?

14:14 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> It’s me. I am the euphoric one. In this moment. Me.

14:14 <SUPER_KEITH> Give me mod powers. Let me kick him this time. Please.

14:15 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Our conversation inspired me to visit our friends at WWS

14:15 <FEZZWICK> If you’re trying to organize a raid, I really will ban you this time.

14:15 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> I’m not. I swear I’m not.

14:15 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Just go to the website. Read the whole post they have up.

14:16 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Comments too. They’re imploding.

14:16 <TRENCH_FRIES> Can someone link me the site?

14:18 <TRENCH_FRIES> Hello?

14:23 <SUPER_KEITH> 0_0








The straw P.C. boogeyman people tell you to fear?

The internet’s scumbag hotline?

The trollbusters?

The fun police?

The unholy thing that sends Swasti-cocks quivering in their digitized jackboots?


Right here. And proud of it.




Submissions Open!


(We “lay it on a bit thick”, so to speak, but if you need us,) (If someone’s giving you trouble,)

(If you see something that makes you go “fuck no!”) (Don’t be afraid to reach out.)

(Reputation aside, we’re actually really nice people.)


(And we support you.)

(As long as you’re not terrible.)






APRIL 8 2013


Your Sonic The Hedgehog/Goebbels Slash Fic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad

#GottaSlowDown #OnThoseGenocideChuckles #SubmittedBySonicDangerSafetyZone #AndKnuckles                              




#TwinkleTwinkleGoldStarAllies #InTheSkySoBright #DoWeHaveToAddressThisBullshitThinking #EverySingleNight #SubmittedByViewersLikeNu



She’s Harassing Black Women Ironically. You Just Don’t Get Her Post-Modern Humor. /S

#YouAreNotTigNotaro #YourComedySkillsLack #ExcusingAllYourRacistJokesWith #BUTMYPRESIDENTISBL #Silence #SubmittedByLumpy                               




#ThreatenUsAllYouWantYouKnobs #NoWeWillNotBend #LetsGetThisFucker #EnoughAlready #ThisShitNeedsToEnd #SubmittedByPondoCombo



Boy I Sure Do Love Posting Rape Fantasy Comics to Reddit! Oh No WatWarSoc! Please Don’t Tell My Mom! (SPOILER ALERT: We Told His Mom.)

#CallingOutCreepyFucksAgain #OurTimeHonoredTraditionSince2010

#DieInAFireKThanksBYE #SubmittedBySpleenSleeves



APRIL 9 2013


Community Cosplay Tuesday! Newbies Post Your Best Efforts!                              

#ShareAdvice #GiveTips #ThemeThisWeekIsRandom #SupportAllStyles #CommunityBuilding #WeAcceptAllFandoms #AdminPost                 



NOTE FOR NEW MEMBERS: We’re happy to have you, but your concern troll, tone argument, freeze peaches bullshit WILL get you banned.

#NoSympathyForCrapdragons #NotHavingThisDebate #BUTYOURERUININGLIVESSSS

#OfTerriblePeople #ToWhichWeSay #Great #NothingWeHaventHeardBefore #AdminPost



APRIL 10 2013


Top Ten Reasons Not To Mock People With Eating Disorders: 1. We Don’t Need Ten Reasons. Just Don’t Do it, Ya Dicknoggin.

#EndOfList #YourStandUpBlows #PleaseAvoidBookingForFutureShows #SubmittedByPublicRadioDemon



PONDO WILL FOR REAL SEND A MARZA PLUSH FROM HER COLLECTION TO WHOEVER DOXXES THIS “JEWS DID 9-11” DOUCHE!                                                       

#MiddleGhoulFansGetHyped #ItsTheCarnivalOne #FromTheEpisode

#WhereTheWerebearMathSubstitute #RigsTheSquirtGuns



APRIL 11 2013



“Rape Comics” Guy Is In High School. It Means There’s Still Time To Help Him.

#HeWillBeFine #WeCanDropTheDramatics #ThatBoyNeedsTherapy #PurelyPsychosomatic #AdminPost

(Comments Closed)


“ASIANS, AM I RIGHT?” I Don’t Know. Let’s See What Your Boss Says.

#GettingRacistsFired #NotLosingAnySleep #SubmittedByPleaseBringBackQuantumLeap



Oh So This Fuckparade Is Back Again.

#TootTootForTheFuckparade #UpAndDownTheStreet #TheBandWillPlayAMerryTune #TheFlutesAndFifesWillTweet #BrassAndGoldAndSilverSongOnThisMostJoyousDay #TootTootForTheFuckparade #NowPleaseGoAway #SubmittedBySpleenSleeves



APRIL 12 2013



(Comments Closed)


APRIL 13 2013



(Comments Closed)



APRIL 15 2013


What We Know So Far

#ThereAreLikelyOtherFactorsAtPlay #WeCantClaimHisStrife #MentalHealthIsLayered #MaybeSomethingInHisHomeLife #AdminPost



APRIL 16 2013


A Message From The WatWarSoc Team to the Community

#YouMatter #AndThisWillPass #WeNeedYou #YouNeedUs #Loyalty #Love #Togetherness #NoDivision #OnlyTrust #AdminPost                                               



APRIL 17 2013


Stop Perpetuating A False Narrative Where We’re At Fault

#YouUngratefulFucks #TheyreLyingToYou #YouAllComplainAboutHowMuchGarbageThereIsOnTheInternet #ButYouCantStomachAnyoneActuallyTryingToPutUpAFight #WeDoSoMuchForYou

#BUTYOUCATCHMOREFLIESWITHSUGARRRR #FuckingLeave #BUTDONTSTOOPTOTHEIRLEVELLLL #GoodLord #IfWatWarSocBothersYouMoreThanThePeopleWeAreCallingOut #YouWillBeTheOnesToBlameWhenTheyTakeOver #TheseFuckersWantPower #TheyWantToTurnBackTheClock #TheyreComing #AndTheyDontGiveAShitAboutPlayingNice #AdminPost                                   

(Comments Closed)


Can We Stop Writing Fics Trying To “Redeem” Draco Malfoy’s Father?

#CrapFanFics #SomeCharactersArentWorthSaving                          

#PullADifferentNameFromTheGoblet #ForYourAntiHeroCraving #SubmittedByRuffAndTumble








After leaping up two escalators, shuttling down an elevator, and pushing through a set of swinging doors, accidentally crashing a board meeting, asking for directions, then crawling up one more escalator and falling onto a carpeted landing, Talia finds the auxiliary conference room. The panel started twenty-one minutes ago. She stands in the hallway, watching them through a narrow glass window in the door. The air conditioning works in this part of the building, and the sweat Talia wipes from her head makes the back of her hand shiver.

The inside of the room is well lit. Nancy Zwell (who draws Woah! Geography Lass) is fully visible behind a lectern, speaking words Talia can’t hear over her own straw-shaped breaths. The other artists, Grant and Kira included, sit at a table against the back wall, with the audience stacked in front of them, six rows of eight on tootsie roll colored folding chairs, facing away from Talia. An aisle bisects the audience from the door to the panel, but there’s no way for her to sneak inside without drawing attention.

Talia leans into the wall and pulls her phone back out, looking for her dad while she searches for her lungs. It’s a round of radio silence on the regular frequencies. Nothing on social media. Nothing in texts. Nothing in call history. Sans father, she slides back to the Fatherland. This time the Shylock wiki manages to load. She jumps up to the edit page and blanks out the whole list, adding ‘U IRATE BRAH??’ in the memo section. She hits save. Sixteen taps to refresh and the list is back again. Grundystormer’s returned to the log with a memo of his own. ‘Been working on something for you.’ The word “something” is underlined and Talia clicks the link with her thumb. The phone goes white and a JPEG loads from the top down at the speed of a dial-up modem. Talia rolls her chin around her collar bone until the image is halfway finished. Her neck muscles constrict when she realizes what she’s looking at — a photograph of her father’s face, pasted behind the door of a cartoon gas chamber.

A pounding at the door in front of Talia jars her attention off the phone. Nancy Zwell’s face is pressed up against the glass, nose flat, arm waving. Zwell only takes up the bottom third of the window, and over her head Talia can see the heads of every audience member, craning from their chairs to stare back through the translucent crack framing Talia.

A muffled panel beckons her inside, lifting their arms in exaggerated pantomime of a person opening a door. She opens the door.

Zwell turns, lifts a hand, and snaps her fingers, signaling for Talia to follow. Her pace is brisk. As the two trudge forward, she proclaims Talia’s identity with a drill sergeant’s intensity. A theatre of lax expressions turns eager at the mention of Middle*Ghoul! (Based on characters by Talia Roth). Talia winces and clutches her phone to her chest.                          

“Sorry, I’m late,” she says.                                        

“No need for apologies,” says Nancy Zwell as she steps up to a step-stool behind the podium. “I’ve been told you were attending to urgent matters.”

“Quite urgent,” says Kira.                                                      

“The most urgent,” says Grant.

Talia leers at them, then back at Zwell, who looks puzzled, then back at Grant and Kira, who look away, approximating the straight posture and stoic expressions of school children from a nineteenth century pastoral. She takes the seat between them and buries her phone in her pocket.

The panel is small and academic. Talia’s eyes still sting from her promotional appearances with SaberThoughts, sitting in comic-con banquet halls lit like rock concerts. This is not that. This is the kind where enthusiastic fans cram themselves into annexes, side rooms, or any place wide enough to fit a folding table, the kind where hiding is noticed.

“I mean, even ‘Death of the Author’ has its extremes,” says Grant, responding to a question Zwell asked and Talia didn’t hear. “I’d say JK Rowling gets to decide Order of the Phoenix is a canonical Harry Potter book and Hermione Meets Goku at Teen Titans Tower isn’t one.”                                         

“Does she though?” asks Kira. “Look at Wicked, look at the sixth Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Shakespeare wasn’t alive to green light Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead, but the story holds court for a lot of Shakespeare fans.”

“Fan fiction with high production values doesn’t stop being fan fiction,” says Grant.

“How about DC or Marvel’s canons, then?” asks Kira. “Authors building on authors building on authors for the same characters over decades. Who gets to decide what’s canon and what isn’t?”

“When they’re not completely obliterating previous canon, you mean,” says a voice at the end of the panel. Talia thinks it’s the guy who draws Quinoa Kid, but she’s too busy rubbing a temple to check.

“Reboots aside,” says Kira, “I’m asking, if two artists produce their own one-off Batman story, and both stories are equally compelling, equally well drawn, but one is released under the DC label and the other one is published independently on a message board, who gets to decide which is canon?”

“DC,” says Grant.

“Why not the audience? asks Kira.

“Because DC owns the copyright?” Talia suggests.

“So a group of people in a board room, who might not even have been involved in the direct production of the comic, get authority on what’s real and what isn’t in a fictional artistic universe, with the only justification being a capitalist legal framework. And I’m the one who’s too extreme with ‘death of the author.’”

“Yeah,” says Grant.                                       

“Ignoring legality,” Talia starts, “Can’t the fan artist can just keep going with their Batman comic and create their own universe with its own canon? There can be more than one ‘canon’.”                                     

“Look, if we’re really going to talk about Death of the Author, let’s consider what Barthes was actually trying to say when he proposed the concept,” says Grant.

“Why?” asks Kira.                                          

Talia fakes attention as she holds her phone through her jeans. She makes eye contact with audience members and smiles — smiles with wide teeth then smiles without teeth — and nods her head and says things just often enough that it seems like the panel has her full focus. Some audience members are on their phones, and when Talia’s phone buzzes she reaches for the lip of her pocket again. She doesn’t reach inside.                                      

Zwell opens for crowd questions, snapping and pointing to anyone with their hand up.



“Do you ever object to how fans use your ideas?”                                       




“Does online speculation ever change the direction you’re planning to take with a story?”




“Aren’t comics an audience active medium already? The gutters prompt readers to fill the gaps.”


14:53 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> We’re sure this is real?

14:53 <SUPER_KEITH> They seem to think so.

14:54 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> Right, but do we think that too?

14:54 <TRENCH_FRIES> I’m still confused why they’re melting down over a kids show.




“Would you consider bringing back the characters from Depressing Image Parade?




“We have a theory Ghost Principal Lamar’s eldest daughter, the supervisor, is also a ghost. Is that a--”




14:54 <FEZZWICK> We should be careful not to contribute to a witch hunt, is what I think. 14:54 <DOOT_OF_EARL> Thank you, FEZZWICK.

14:55 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Yes, thank you, FEZZWICK. You truly are our moral compass. 14:55 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> But more like a broken compass that only ever points to “Meh.”

14:55 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Where did they even get this from?


“Do you ever really own the worlds you create?”




“On that note, is it really that big a deal if I remove your watermark and--”




“--replace the words in your speech bubbles with politics I find more appealing?”


14:55 <FEZZWICK> If I pointed in more than one direction, I’d be a pretty terrible compass. TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY has entered #DRAMABOMB                                              

14:55 <SUPER_KEITH> They’re not naming the source. The post says it’s a regular contributor.

14:56 <DOOT_OF_EARL> It would have to be someone that’s built up a lot of trust with them.

14:56 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> At this point, I feel a little bad for WWS.




“Sometimes the author is completely wrong though. Ray Bradbury says Fahrenheit 451 isn’t about censorship, which is nuts.”




“We have to have some conception of an author, right?”


14:56 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> You feel bad for them, but you don’t feel bad for her?                      

14:56 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Who are we talking about?




“If you’re suggesting an author has no say over which of their books is canon in a series, why even let them decide all pages are part of the same text?


14:57 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> I mean, I feel bad for everyone I guess.


All sentences part of the same paragraph?”




“All words part of”




12:57 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Over what? What’s going on?


“the same sentence?”




“Why did you draw a 12-year-old having sex with an adult?”

A frizzy-haired young man with thick round glasses asks the question from the inside of the third row. He’s got his phone out, arm extended, recording. His eyes peek out from behind the plastic, fixated on Talia.                                                 

Excuse me?” she says.

“You’re responsible for creating the characters in the most popular children’s cartoon on television right now. Do you condone drawing child porn?”                                       

“I have no...I genuinely don’t know what you’re talking about,” says Talia. She whips her head to a bug-eyed Kira, who holds her hands up defensively, with her own head tilted. Grant’s mouth hangs open, his shoulders flexed in a shrug.                                             

“Let’s... maybe move on to someone else,” says Nancy Zwell.                                           

“You didn’t draw this?” The man pulls a tablet from his chair and turns the screen towards the panel. Talia squints, but even three rows up, she can see it’s the same piece she’d been bilked out of payment for. She puts her a finger to her forehead.

“Okay, I did make that. I’m not sure where you got it, but-”




“You admit to drawing it.”





“You drew Debbie Dee having sex with Ghost Principal Lamar.”





There is murmuring.

“I’m sorry, what is the issue here? Both of those characters are adults.”

“Debbie Dee is a 12-year-old student at the school from Middle*Ghoul!”                         

She’s best friends with Marza,” shouts someone else in the audience. “She’s best friends with your main character.”




“Marza’s not my main character. Her sister is.”


“The supervisor?”


“No, her other sister. Do you mean on the show?” asks Talia. “I stopped watching long before they introduced their version of Debbie Dee. In my comic, she’s like, 32.”


#SpreadItFar #SpreadItWide #MakeYourVoicesLast


“I don’t read your webcomic,” says the man.                                               

“Okay?” says Talia. “So? If this is some kind of weird puritanical fear tactic, I’m not ashamed of drawing people having sex. She’s clearly an adult in that drawing.”                                          “Yeah, okay.”





14:59 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Why feel bad for anyone?


#WhatWouldMarzaWant #IsTheQuestionYouShouldAsk




“They’re both adults. I’m not sure how you could read it any other way. Hell, I have seen people draw Rule 34 fan art of pretty much the entire cast of Middle Ghoul. None of this is new.”

“We know that part of the fandom exists,” he says. “It’s heartbreaking you would endorse it.”


14:59 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> We’re just watching the wreck, not causing it.


“I haven’t endorsed anything. These are fictional characters.”

“You don’t think you have a higher responsibility? Your name is on the show.” Buzz


#ContactEveryoneYouKnow #TagYourFriendsListFast




The Family Television Conservatory has had to make cutbacks in recent years, but we have never wavered our mission to expose the Hollywood underbelly of vice. Just today





It’s not my show, and I can do whatever I want with characters I created.”

The volume from the crowd rises. More people in the audience pull out their phones. Talia can see the other panelists whispering to each other. Zwell tries to get to another question. She snaps and snaps and points to people who are slowly putting their hands down.

Nobody asks anyone anything else.


15:00 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> At the risk of making us sound like hypocrites


They and an emergency fundraising appeal. A small donation of only $750 will get


#WhatWeDoWithTraitorsIs #WePutTheirShitOnBlast


so that these wretched gnats of Satan will slither back to the fires from which


15:00 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> the wrong kind of attention can be hell.


And Talia’s phone keeps buzzing.




AVAILABLE NOW IN THE MIDDLE GHOUL ONLINE STORE                                       


Middle Ghoul, Collection 1: Getting the BOOOt - When budget cuts force Sophia Ghoul out of a substitute gig in the greater Utica school district, she takes a position back at her father’s private Academy for Unusual Children Who Are Also in Some Way Strange. With one sister as a student, and the other as her supervisor, Sophia feels a bit caught in the middle.   

Perber House Publishing; 110 pages, Full Color, $24.95


Middle Ghoul, Collection 2: Don’t CAULDRON Us, We’ll CAULDRON You - Dr. Abraham’s mad computer science scrambles the school’s timekeeping software, discombobulating all the paychecks. Wacky! Sophia lapses on rent, and her father pressures her to move back into her childhood bedroom. None of the districts she’s sent her resume to have responded. The job market is crumbling. Marza is distant in class.

Perber House Publishing; 140 pages, Full Color, $24.95


Middle Ghoul, Collection 3: A Visit From the State InSPECTER - After the Academy for Unusual Children Who Are Also in Some Way Strange falls below state testing guidelines, the school board cracks down on teachers deviating from the approved lesson plans. OH NO! The nameless mummy English teacher is fired. Sophia’s older sister asks her to smooth things over with the staff, but it backfires. Sophia feels alienated from her colleagues. She eats lunch in her car.

Swoon-Derdorf; 100 pages, Full Color, $19.95


Middle Ghoul, Collection 4: I Am a SKELETON of My Former Self - An old girlfriend is getting married, but Sophia has not been invited to the wedding. Meanwhile, her father’s ectoplasmic health is declining and important decisions need to be made about long term care. Sophia accidentally sees Marza crying, alone, in the 2nd floor girls bathroom, and doesn’t know what to do. She leaves and doesn’t ever mention it again.

Swoon-Derdorf; 80 pages, B&W, $14.95


Headless Dolley Madison Tee - It’s everyone’s favorite history teacher, headless Dolley Madison! But now she’s on a t-shirt!             

UNISEX, Sizes available: S/M/L/XL SOLD OUT





Here Is The Standard Order To Check

What Strangers Are Saying About You

In The Comment Sections Of Other People’s Thinkpieces

An Instructional Poem


Slate Salon Atlantic

Atlantic Slate Salon

Salon Slate Atlantic

Salon Atlantic Slate

Slate Atlantic Salon

Atlantic Salon Slate





PolicyMic Gawker Breitbart Drudge Report TheMarySue DailyDot Den Of Geek VICE Slashdot Boing Boing ComicsAlliance


Bleeding Cool The Huffington Post Mother Jones Medium Uproxx

Vocitiv GQ Quartz Collider BuzzFeed Bustle Cracked Comics Beat Daily Beast PopCrush POPSUGAR IndieWire Mediaite Mashable TheBlaze Hot Air Paste Mag Variety Vulture Business Insider The Hollywood Reporter A.V. Club Nerdist Polygon Yahoo Fox News New York Magazine The New York Times The New Yorker New York Post NBC News NPR The Los Angeles Times The Washington Post USA Today Entertainment Weekly Chicago Tribune Wall Street Journal Metroland AOA Esquire CNN Reddit Post Reddit Post Reddit Post Reddit Post Reddit Post

Tumblr Post Tumblr Post Tumblr Post Tumblr Post Tumblr Post


Facebook Group Facebook Group Facebook Group Facebook Group Facebook Group Facebook Group Facebook Group


Your College Newspaper’s Website




And then you do it again.





FEZZWICK has kicked GUEST_2123




15:50 <FEZZWICK> Did I not just finish saying no getting involved in the drama?

15:50 <TRENCH_FRIES> Middle*Ghoul!’s official message board is completely offline.

15:50 <FEZZWICK> Have I not repeatedly warned all of you to stop?

15:50 <TRENCH_FRIES> I can’t tell if it’s because they’re flooded with traffic or what.

15:50 <SUPER_KEITH> They took it down for the same reason their subreddit’s gone private. 15:50 <SUPER_KEITH> Every new thread was just about this.

15:50 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> How is talking about it on another meta drama site

15:50 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> any different than talking about it here?

15:51 <FEZZWICK> WatWarSoc broke the story. They’re not meta drama, they *are* the drama.

15:51 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> It’s everywhere now.

15:51 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Avoiding the drama means avoiding the entire rest of the internet.

15:51 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Some of WatWarSoc is already brigading us.                   

15:51 <FEZZWICK> I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

15:51 <CLEARLY_FROM_WWS> Sup?                                                          




15:51 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Why did you not do that earlier?!

15:52 <FEZZWICK> I’m not kidding here. No more warnings.

15:52 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> The website for the webcomic is still online. The comment section is open.

15:52 <FEZZWICK> If you post there I will ban you.

15:52 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Wait, why is WWS here to begin with?

15:52 <TRENCH_FRIES> I don’t think they’re the only ones brigading.

15:52 <SUPER_KEITH> If we were posting there, there’d be no way for you to know it was us.

15:52 <SUPER_KEITH> Unless we were to use these screennames.

15:53 <SUPER_KEITH> Which some of us actually ARE dumb enough to do

15:53 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> They’re here because she’s here, and vice versa.

15:53 <SUPER_KEITH> because we’re that invested in our ‘internet identities’ as consistent entities with personal arcs reflective of our own real life personas

15:53 <SUPER_KEITH> and not just a collection of words with different handles attached to them.

15:54 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Brava, Serial Experiments Lain. Welcome to late 90s cyberpunk.

15:54 <SUPER_KEITH> Well, we ARE in IRC...

15:54 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Who’s here? Talia Roth?                                            

15:54 <SUPER_KEITH> By the way, no one start talking in L337. That’s been hack since 2004. 15:54 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Yes! Have you not been reading the forum thread about this?

15:54 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> I barely ever do.

15:55 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> I think she tried to respond on WatWarSoc and got banned.

15:55 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> She’s all over our stuff now.




15:55 <TALIAROTH> Call off your attack dogs fuckos.

15:55 <TALIAROTH> I swear to god, this is not the day to come after me.

15:55 <TRENCH_FRIES> Holy crap.

15:56 <SPLEENSLEEVES> Oh hey look, it’s a pedophile.

15:56 <PONDOCOMBO> Everybody say hi to the pedophile!

15:56 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Who the hell are either of you?

15:56 <TALIAROTH> She’s 32. For fuck’s sakes. Debbie Dee is 32 in my drawing.

15:56 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> I have literally never seen SPLEENSLEEVES or PONDOCOMBO in this IRC before.

15:57 <PONDOCOMBO> Cool, I just drew a character with a head like an eight year old, but don’t worry she’s really a million.

15:57 <PONDOCOMBO> Anyway here’s a pic of her fucking dudes! Ceci n'est pas une child! 15:57 <TALIAROTH> You all honestly think she looks 12 in my drawing?

15:57 <PONDOCOMBO> Yes.


15:57 <TRENCH_FRIES> No.

15:57 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Not even slightly.

15:57 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Sort of, actually.

15:57 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> I genuinely don’t care either way.

15:58 <SUPER_KEITH> I doubt you’re the real Talia Roth.

15:58 <TALIAROTH> Yes I’m the real me?

15:58 <TALIAROTH> What do you even want from me at this point?

15:58 <PONDOCOMBO> Quit the show?                                                     

15:58 <SPLEENSLEEVES> Quit your job!

15:58 <BOOPBOOP_DOODLES> You could always resign from your place of employment.

15:58 <DONALDPSYDUCK> Throw yourself into a fucking blender pedo bitch!

15:58 <WALK_THE_SPLANK> Quit! Save my favorite show! Be a hero!


15:59 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> FEZZWICK this is becoming a problem.




15:59 <BOOPBOOP_DOODLES> Yes please. Kick us from your child porn apologist fan club. 15:59 <TALIAROTH> I don’t work for the show

15:59 <PONDOCOMBO> I don’t think that guy was with us.




15:59 <SPLEENSLEEVES> Then maybe give control of your shitty comic to the people that do?

15:59 <TALIA_ROTH> Hey, excuse me, is this the right IRC for the Dramabomb community? 15:59 <TALIAROTH> Really?

15:59 <SUPER_KEITH> Told you.

15:59 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> FEZZWICK, seriously. Do your job.

16:00 <TALIA_ROTH> What the hell is this? Who are you?

16:00 <TALIAROTH> Oh god.

16:00 <TALIAROTH> I genuinely don’t have time.

16:00 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> This might be my favorite thing ever.

16:00 <TALIA_ROTH> I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but I’m Talia Roth.




16:00 <PONDOCOMBO> This is fun. Is this you guys or us?

16:01 <ACTUAL_TALIAROTH> Hello, yes I am the actual Talia Roth.

16:01 <ACTUAL_TALIAROTH> I am real and not fake and very much the real one.

16:01 <TALIAROTH> Can you please all just move onto someone else to harass?

16:01 <TALIA_ROTH> This is ridiculous.

16:01 <TALIAROTH> I have done nothing to any of you.




16:02 <WALK_THE_SPLANK> Hey, if anyone wants it, I found her home address.

16:02 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> FEZZWICK for fuck’s sake.





16:02 <PONDOCOMBO> Nothing aside from tainting a fandom people care about.

16:02 <TALIA_ROTH> I can’t deal with this right now.

16:02 <SPLEENSLEEVES> Do artists not get the power they have over their fans?

16:02 <PONDOCOMBO> We need to stop rewarding shitty people with fame.

16:03 <REAL_TALIA_ROTH> Now that I’ve gathered you all here

16:03 <PONDOCOMBO> Shitty people shouldn’t get to be “artists.”

16:03 <SPLEENSLEEVES> You’re normalizing this. You’re telling people it’s okay.

16:03 <REAL_TALIA_ROTH> I have announcement to make.

16:03 <TALIA_ROTH> Please. I am begging you all to stop.

16:03 <REAL_TALIA_ROTH> I am the real actual Talia Roth.


16:03 <WALK_THE_SPLANK> I hope you kill yourself.




16:04 <REAL_TALIA_ROTH> All others are faking.

16:04 <TALIAROTH> This is helping nothing.

16:04 <TALIA_ROTH> This isn’t helping anything.








And then you do it again.



Talia’s tucked inside a lower level recess outside the main arena, snug between a concrete wall and a water fountain. She crooks one leg beneath the other, laptop squeezed back into a V shape between her left thigh and her stomach. Her shoulder chafes against the pores of the bricks as she types out tweets. Attendees only notice her when they’re close enough to use the fountain, and her frame is too curled over the screen, too much like a clamshell guarding a pearl, for anyone to see her face. The fountain shakes at intermittent moments, taking the place of her phone, which had been shaking at every moment until she turned it off.                                            

Executions, exaltations, edicts, and excoriations slide down Talia’s screen in 140 character boxes. The Family Television Conservatory is calling for the cancellation of Middle*Ghoul! (based on characters by Talia Roth), denouncing Talia’s work as an

example of the heretic filth being peddled to America’s impressionable youth by the Satanists at Nickelodeon at a level not seen since the secular brainwashing of Nigel, Marianne, Donnie, Debbie, Darwin, and Eliza Thornberry. @TCYLABP, the account attached to the blog “The Celebrities You Like Are Bad People,” is taking an X-Acto knife to the Middle Ghoul comics archive, tweeting out Talia’s old strips, one-by-one with red MSPaint arrows pointing to the socially problematic elements. Another account, run by a middle aged man called “VagWatch,” is accusing Talia of using her “female privilege” to escape true criticism, while simultaneously tweeting out her Instagram photos with red MSPaint arrows pointing to the parts of her he finds unattractive. He has 41,000 followers.                                           

A NAMBLA parody account retweets everything Talia is saying with a message of endorsement, which makes her want to burn her computer. “She’s over here,” Talia hears in a shout above her head.

Kira presses a hand on the rim of the fountain and hunches her back over Talia, taking a red-faced breath that lands in her knees. Her elbow wobbles holding her weight as Grant clatters to where she’s standing and puts his arms out to keep her from losing her balance. Kira pushes him back.                                                       

“You have no right to make us... run around looking... for you like this, you self-absorbed ass.”                           

“I didn’t ask you to come find me.”                                                  

“We’ve spent the last hour... defending you... online... why are you.. hiding here?” asks Kira.                 

“You know why.”                                                       

“Look, people are going to take whatever interpretation they take,” says Grant. “You can ride it out until they move onto something else, but you can’t control that.”                           

“No, don’t do that with me. ‘Death of the Author’ is great when you’re arguing with your English professor over the meaning of ‘The Red Wheelbarrow.’ It’s not supposed to be a weapon for audiences to punish artists.”                                               

“Criticism isn’t punishment... you 2-year-old,” says Kira. “it’s part of... the process.” “Telling me to commit suicide because you don’t like a drawing I made isn’t criticism.

Organizing a hate clique to ruin my life and destroy my career isn’t a form of peer review. Maybe I am ‘dead,’ maybe my intent is irrelevant to my art, but then what’s the point in digging me back up to make me beg for forgiveness? Why should I respect the integrity

of a reader who’ll ignore me when I try to explain my work, but’ll also make me grovel when they feel wronged by it?”                                                         

“Oh...fuck your... monologue,” says Kira. “None of this... is about you.

Talia turns to her laptop screen.

“It...isn’t?” she asks.

Kira swallows an epiglottal gulp of air. She exhales for a half minute, easing her heartbeat into normal range, sticking a second hand on the fountain and leaning down to take a drink. She wipes her lips. She breathes again.                                       

“None of these human hate vortexes are ever about the people at the center,” says Kira. “The people are just — Christsakes I need a Motrin — the people are a flashpoint for them to talk about whatever they wanted to talk about to begin with and some of it is awful and disgusting and unfair, fine. But some of it is real structural shit that actually matters, abuse and discrimination and inequality that nobody would talk about without a kernel to get the conversation started, — is there a Duane Reade nearby or is that not a thing up here? — The people involved in the original incident come to represent something more than themselves, deserved or undeserved, and they get torn apart as it happens. The process sucks, but you’re not going to solve it by trying to fight it because nobody cares about your neurotic navel-gazing reflections on what’s a fair way to treat artists, not while people are getting shot and choked to death and trampled on. You’re the sacrificial lamb, love. You, the actual you, does not matter.”  

Talia runs her tongue along her teeth. “I don’t think I like your monologue much either.”


“You two were defending me on Twitter and you stopped.”


“All your posts are gone.”

“Most of them.”


Kira looks down.

“ got a series offer,” says Talia, straightening. “Someone wants to adapt College Students with Troubled Personal Lives.” Kira doesn’t say anything.

“Signing up for the mouseketeers?” Talia asks. “Warner?” Kira shakes her head.

“Nothing that big,” she says. “Not yet, at least.”

“Please tell me it’s not with SaberThoughts.”

“No. God no,” says Kira. “It’s a small studio. They’re being real decent, but the deal’s not final, and the bad press could kill it. I can’t risk it. We need the stability.”

“Hey,” says Grant.                                         

“I get that,” says Talia. "Do you think what I drew counts as...”

“No. But, my opinion doesn’t matter here,” says Kira.

“I’d say it does,” says Talia.

“You guys?” says Grant

“I appreciate that.”

“Talia,” he says.

Grant eyes lock on his phone. He’s turned the touchscreen sideways. A smattering of streaming sound comes shredded through the speakers. He bites his lip and squints his eyes then widens them completely.

“Shit. You’re going to want to get back to your booth, like, now.”

The fire alarm goes off. Talia springs from the nook with her laptop under her arm and the lip of her bag clutched in her hand. She spins for the door to the arena as a crushing wave of costumed bodies begins to pour from the inside. Her shoulder cuts into the crowd and she dives forward. Grant and Kira follow.

Twelve steps into the room, Talia’s buffeted by a Captain America shield and twisted off-course into a deep pocket of Homestar Runner cosplayers. She struggles to break through only to find crowd density increasing. The contact sweat of panicked con attendees covers her in moments. The push and pull of the total stampede sucks all three of them further in, even as others are leaving. Below Talia’s feet lays a trampled cardboard sign with the DOs and DON’Ts of convention etiquette printed in Impact font.

Talia can smell smoke and sees a trail of it above the outline of a couple in rubber Cthulhu masks. She turns her neck, only catching glimpses of Grant and Kira behind her. Erosion is pulling them apart as momentum pushes Talia into the edge of one of the millipedes. She digs into the floor for leverage using the heel of a sneaker and tries to shift her weight toward her aisle, but the force of the crowd won’t budge.

The booth closest to Talia is abandoned. She squeezes over the table and into a bubble of personless space, knocking over a tray of 3-D printed figures from ZXCVB: ULTRIX. Her stomach unclenches as she’s able to take in a full breath. People push across her field of vision, but she can’t see any further down the aisle. A curtain for the next booth over blocks her field of view. She pulls it up and crawls beneath, and does the same for the next booth, and the next, empty all the way down, until she sees the familiar glow of Christmas LEDs, and stands up.

The guy she asked to watch her merchandise stands alone in the center of the aisle, expelling the contents of a fire extinguisher onto her table and into her booth. Embers sprout and burn and die under a blanket of monoammonium phosphate. Residual heat from the smoldering refuse radiates to Talia.                                                        

“You’re’re welcome. I guess,” says the guy with the extinguisher. “Yeah,” says Talia.

Nothing is salvageable.                                                                                                                                             





The 30 concrete staircases of the T.U. Arena’s arena area are splayed like tentacles off the mouth of a cephalopod. They begin at openings along the floor and rise through the seats to identical sets of doubles doors out to the main level concourse. On arches adjacent to each of the doors, in placements describable as mezuzah-esque, are parallel sets of red plastic FIRE signals with sporadically twinkling lights. Talia watches them blink out of sequence. Though the fire is out, alarms still buzz. People are still evacuating, as instructed by the four-screen jumbotron hanging from the ceiling.

The exceptions to this evacuation are Talia, the man with the extinguisher, and a small bubble of cell phone camera operators who stayed behind to document the fire, and now Talia’s reaction to the fire, and whose apparent dedication to citizen journalism heartens Talia’s outlook on life. Truly, it does. She is about to shout something to that effect when she notices a set of ice blue fingernails wrapped around a NyanCat phone case among the bubble’s borders.

Wendy Wiggins notices Talia noticing her and lowers her phone. Her other hand clamps a copy of Middle Ghoul Collection 2 in her armpit. Soot sprinkles the finished edges of the paper, clumping in uneven shapes, marbling the top side of the book into an overcrowded Rorschach test. Talia makes eye contact with Wiggins, nudges her head in the direction of the book. Wiggins glances at it, pulling it out from under her arm as if making a discovery.

“Oh. I’m just holding this because protect it from...the flames. There was a lot of fire just now. But I managed to save this book for...from...the...” And then she turns and runs.                           

The crowd’s thinned to the point Wiggins is able to escape the aisle, less slipping between the remaining evacuees so much as navigating them like buoys. She climbs the nearest staircase. Talia untangles herself from the stragglers and tries to follow. Wiggins is already through the double doors and onto the upper concourse before Talia can reach the first landing. When she does reach the top, the doors open with a click. Talia squints, eyes adjusting to the natural light. She exits the arena.

The hall is devoid of people but filled with dim signs for concession stands. Wiggins sits silhouetted against a bright, overcast sky through a grid of plate glass windows.                                

“Please stop chasing me,” she says. She drops the book to the floor and shuffleboard shoves it to Talia’s side of the hall. Talia doesn’t look at it.

“Why are you trying to ruin my life?” she shouts, hands on her knees. Her voice bounces through the hallway. The alarm is still audible coming from inside the arena, but muffled.

“I didn’t start the fire.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I didn’t leak your drawing.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t have your money.”

“I do believe you but why would telling me that help your situation?”

“It’s why I ran.”

Wendy Wiggins leans forward, forearms flat on her costume.

“And the book you were trying to steal?” Talia asks.

“I came back to come clean, saw the fire, saw it on the edge, and pulled it out. I know everyone hates you right now, but I really am a fan your work, even if I can’t afford it.”

“You’re not a fan, you’re a con artist.” Talia takes out her phone.

Wiggins groans. She rotates and wraps her hands around a metal window frame overhead, pulling herself into a chin-up until she’s on stable footing. The windows behind her shine blank and white. Even the tallest of Albany’s buildings disappear in this weather if you’re not looking directly at them.                                           

“And what, you’re going to make me part of the narrative now?” asks Wiggins. “Make this the top Google hit for my name for the rest of my life?”                                            

“I mean I could,” she says. “Online, in like, two seconds.”

The phone buzzes the instant Talia boots it. She uses a button on the side to switch to silent, but has to swipe through a wall of push notifications to get to a functional space on the screen. Her thumb leaves streaks on the glass, uneven trails in the condensation, as she moves messages out of the way.                                         

“You don’t even have my real name.”

“Guess again, Rumplestiltskin.” says Talia.

“My name’s not Rumplestiltskin.”                                                                            

“Yeah, no, I know that.”                                            

Talia arches a shoulder and hooks a hand to fish in her drawstring bag, pulling the check from underneath her laptop.                                    

“Please don’t slot me into some kind of ‘crazed stalker’ stereotype. That’s not who I am.”                                             

“I don’t care who you are.”

She pulls up her Twitter feed, unfolds the check and holds it between her ring finger and her pinkie, freeing both thumbs for typing. Wiggins stands watching but stays in place, letting her hands hang at her side. Sirens sound outside the building, as fire trucks approach the arena. 

“I understand resenting the people that hate your work, but if you resent the people who love it, who are you making art for?”                                             

“You don’t own me just because you enjoy something I made,” says Talia.                                   

“Yeah,” says Wiggins. “But you don’t get to decide what the right way is to enjoy something, just because you made it.”                                           

Talia looks up. She sees Wiggins walking toward her and backs toward the door, bumping against it and rattling it in the frame. Wiggins stops. She sits back down and looks at the ceiling.                                                  

“I know what I did was wrong, but even if I hadn't taken anything from you, you still wouldn’t have liked me.”                                                 

“That’s an assumption,” says Talia.                                      

She finishes putting the name into her phone and crumples the check, then types out the rest of the message. The sirens are louder now but the alarm inside is fading. She reaches the character limit.                                                     

“Please don’t do this,” the woman says. “If you know how bad it is, why would you make me go through it too?”                                                        

Talia closes her eyes for longer than a blink and pokes a thumb out to scratch the right corner of her lips. She doesn't speak.

The cursor on her screen flashes in and out of existence.







23:44 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> it’s supposed to be like Doc and Marty’s relationship,

23:44 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> but way less family friendly. You can torrent season 1 already. 23:44 <TRENCH_FRIES> It’s probably the second best show I’ve ever seen.

23:44 <TRENCH_FRIES> He returns!


23:44 <SUPER_KEITH> Look who’s back.


23:44 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> You left just when things were getting spectacular.


23:45 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> asking me to ask you to let him back in.

23:45 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Absconding from the room where you’re needed isn’t great modship.

23:45 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> I gotta say.

23:45 <FEZZWICK> DOOT shouldn’t be doing that. He knows I’m just going to extend his ban.

23:45 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Really, you didn’t miss too much. It petered out after the Talias left.

23:46 <SUPER_KEITH> Astoundingly, EO’s on point this time. You did leave us pretty abruptly.

23:46 <SUPER_KEITH> And your presence would have been helpful.

23:46 <FEZZWICK> Real life circumstances got in the way.

23:46 <FEZZWICK> Or else I would have stayed.

23:46 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> That or you were scared off by a mundane “is loli CP?” debate.

23:47 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> I’m pretty sure spine-having is a prereq for not sucking as a mod.

23:47 <SUPER_KEITH> Okay, regardless of your stance, if you are hanging out places

23:47 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> That’s kinda harsh.

23:47 <SUPER_KEITH> where the “is lolicon child porn?” debate happens so regularly

23:47 <SUPER_KEITH> as to be mundane




23:47 <SUPER_KEITH> I would maybe rethink the places you are hanging out.

23:48 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Oh shit, look who else is back.

23:48 <TRENCH_FRIES> You missed the parade, friend. The other Talias have cleared out.

23:48 <TALIAROTH> It was you.

23:48 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> Well, most of them have cleared out.

23:48 <BRICKKILLEDAGUY> The others have been idling for nearly eight hours.

23:48 <TALIAROTH> I followed your edit history through the rest of your gonzo wiki.

23:48 <TALIAROTH> Found you making a LOT of edits to the page about EncyclopediaDramatica.

23:48 <ANN_WHO_SAW_EVERYTHING_TWICE> What is happening right now?

23:48 <TALIAROTH> Went to ED and saw you careless enough to use the same name there. 23:49 <TALIAROTH> Went through your history on *that* wiki.

23:49 <TRALFAMADORIAN_GRAY> Which of us are you talking to?

23:49 <SUPER_KEITH> She’s not talking to any of us. It’s just more trolling.

23:49 <TALIAROTH> It didn’t help. But then I went through the edit history of your user page.

23:49 <SUPER_KEITH> Like when you just post Fresh Prince of Bel Air lyrics as a nonsense reply.

23:50 <TALIAROTH> and saw some edits that came from another account.

23:50 <TALIAROTH> That you apparently forgot you were using when you made those edits.

23:49  <SUPER_KEITH> FEZZWICK, can you take care of this please?23:50  <TALIAROTH> And I remembered the name from here.                                           

23:50 <SUPER_KEITH> I keep telling you to give me mod powers. I could help in these situations.

23:50 <TALIAROTH> You’re Grundystormer.


23:51 <FEZZWICK> Clap. Clap. Clap.

23:51 <TRENCH_FRIES> Um...

23:51 <FEZZWICK> Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

23:51 <SUPER_KEITH> This interesting way of...

23:51 <FEZZWICK> Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

23:51 <SUPER_KEITH> Okay, I’m as lost as everyone now. I admit it.

23:52 <FEZZWICK> Did having your social justice warrior friends turn on you

23:52 <FEZZWICK> hurt your poor widdle fee feeeeeeeees?

23:52 <SUPER_KEITH> The fuck?

23:52 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Ha, yes! FEZZWICK. Finally we’re speaking the same language.

23:52 <FEZZWICK> What a pitiful kike.



23:53 <BRICKKILLLEDAGUY> Holy fuck.

23:53 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> Woah. Okay. Not the same language. Not the same language. 23:53 <ELEVATOROPERATOR> I take it back. Reality is broken.

23:54 <FEZZWICK> Aw, don’t worry EO, you’ll see things my way soon.

23:54 <FEZZWICK> You’ve got so much potential.








FEZZWICK has banned ROTHTALIAROTH from #DRAMABOMB                                          

















23:56 <FEZZWICK> So many lurkers. In a community like this? It’s redundant.

23:56 <FEZZWICK> Who watches the watchers who watch the watchers watching the watchmen?

23:56 <TALIAROTH> You’re a literal nazi.

23:56 <FEZZWICK> Not the first time I’ve heard that as a moderator.

23:57 <TALIAROTH> Right, but you actually are one.

23:57 <FEZZWICK> I’m a nazi who groks the social dynamics of the internet.

23:57 <FEZZWICK> I recognize the value in spaces like this.

23:57 <FEZZWICK> You want to know why this generation loves “meta-everything” so much?

23:57 <TALIAROTH> Not really.

23:57 <FEZZWICK> It gives them the illusion of a way out.

23:58 <FEZZWICK> They look through the microscope to avoid being the thing examined.

23:58 <TALIAROTH> Okay.

23:58 <FEZZWICK> They think they can be safe by reaching a higher level of “selfawareness” 23:58 <FEZZWICK> than the people around them.

23:58 <TALIAROTH> That’s nice.

23:58 <FEZZWICK> “Don’t be on the wrong side of history!” as if history isn’t constantly rewritten.

23:59 <FEZZWICK> “20 Dumbest Things Characters do in Horror Movies!”

23:59 <FEZZWICK> “15 Cringeworthy OKCupid Pick-up Attempts”

23:59 <FEZZWICK> Whole communities built around “thank god we’re not *those* assholes.”

23:59 <FEZZWICK> around actively studying, breaking down, and classifying *those* assholes.

23:59 <FEZZWICK> and bonding over how much you’re better than them.

23:59 <FEZZWICK> But if your level of meta gets too crowded, it attracts its own watchers. 24:00 <FEZZWICK> then you have to escape by going a level further. And on and on. It’s a race.

00:00 <TALIAROTH> Your point?

00:00 <FEZZWICK> It’s so easy to get you cultural marxists to devour each other.

00:00 <FEZZWICK> Hack an email (not hard), find something “problematic” (also not hard) 24:01 <FEZZWICK> and get it into the hands of comrades who will flay them for it.

00:01 <TALIAROTH> You leaked the drawing.

00:01 <FEZZWICK> because admit it or not, all of you are doing *something* problematic

00:01 <TALIAROTH> You figured out who I was and you ruined my life.

00:01 <FEZZWICK> An opinion you hold, or a joke you made, or something in your past.

00:02 <FEZZWICK> There’s no such thing as a non-problematic person.

00:02 <FEZZWICK> Just people not currently under the microscope.

00:02 <TALIAROTH> Why?

00:02 <FEZZWICK> If I go after you directly, they’ll turn you into a martyr, right?

00:02 <TALIAROTH> People like you go after people like me directly all the time.

00:03 <FEZZWICK> The smart ones are learning.                                                    

00:03 <FEZZWICK> if we taint you for the people who would otherwise support you

00:03 <FEZZWICK> we get what we want without leaving fingerprints.

00:03 <TALIAROTH> *You* were going after me directly. And my father.

00:04 <FEZZWICK> That was just me having fun before destroying you.                                       

00:04 <TALIAROTH> Well I outed you, so good luck with your little social club.

00:04 <FEZZWICK> You outed me here. I’m embedded in a lot more places than this.

00:04 <FEZZWICK> Your friends are right about something.

00:04 <FEZZWICK> They tell you all the time we’re coming back.

00:05 <FEZZWICK> And we are.

00:05 <FEZZWICK> Don’t mess with my list, jew bitch.












































Isaac’s in a booth at the coffee house, sitting by a floor fan, running his thumb along the border of his storage box. He feels bumps along the corrugated edges of the cardboard, touches the smooth faux-woodgrain on recycled wood fiber, sticks a fingernail in the crack where the bottom of the box rests inside its upturned lid and finds just enough room to leave the tip of the nail in place. Pockets of old air puff out of the box with every movement and the leftover scent of the papers it used to contain mixes with the smell of the cappuccino machine and eight different kinds of cream cheese and ciabatta rolls and the dust of exposed bricks along the wall.

Talia comes down the steps into the coffee house. She doesn’t see him at first. He’s around a corner and hidden behind the Sesame Street snow globe she gave him when she was ten. The snow globe is stacked on top of five picture frames and rises over the top of the box. It’s flanked on one side by a sideways office nameplate, and on the other side by a behemoth plastic telephone in the shape of Bugs Bunny, with a carrot receiver resting in his four-fingered paw. Talia walks to her father.

“Fiddling with your desk supplies?”

“A fiddler in the booth, sounds crazy, no?”

Talia grimaces at the reference and slides onto the cushion across from Isaac. She grabs the snow globe and sets it to the side of the box, staring at her father through the gap.              

“It wasn’ didn’t happen because of me, right?” she asked.

“Yes, it was all your fault.”


“Planned lay-offs. Fifteen percent of the staff. Bad timing, but you had nothing to do with it.”   

Isaac smiles at Talia through the memorabilia. She doesn’t smile back. He runs his right hand halfway up the side of a tangle of his hair and leaves his fingers buried in the grey-black curls.

“You had something you wanted to show me?” he asks, twirling a tuft. “Something you didn’t want to just send me a link to?”

Talia loosens the string on her bag and pulls out her laptop. The sides are scuffed from a day of swinging on her shoulder. She wiggles her index finger on the trackpad to take it out of sleep mode. The screen boots from black to where she had it last, the Shylock wiki. She pushes the storage box out of the way and turns the screen to show her father. He takes his fingers out of his hair and curls one against his lip, scrolling up and down the screen with his other hand. He takes long breaths in through his nose, and whistles them out through his lips. Talia watches. She crosses her ankles under the table and stares at her father’s face and looks at where his eyes move and how his forehead furrows and watches the pattern of the pores on his nose and his cheeks curl and relax and curl and relax.

He bobs his head and the bob turns into a nod and the nod turns from the screen to Talia’s face and Talia is waiting for him to say something.

“Alright,” he says.

“Alright what?” she asks.                                                                                          

“I’ll send them an updated resume.”


“Talia, I’m not going to be afraid of other people’s ghost stories.”

“These people are not a ghost story.”

“I’m their ghost story is my point. And if that’s what they choose to make me, fine. I don’t have to live in their version of the world.”

“So the solution is to ignore them?”

“No, I have no solution.” he says. “I can’t solve my problems and I can’t solve yours. They’ll build their narrative no matter what you do.” He turns the laptop back to Talia.                 

“You want something to eat,” he asks.

“God yes,” she says.

He gets up from the table. And while he’s gone, she stares at the caricature in the upper right corner, at the shoddy linework, at the deformed cross-hatching, and the garish, slapdash proportions. At how the eyes don’t match and the nose and ears aren’t lined up properly in the face, and the fingers are barely attempted, and the curls are scribbled on like an afterthought. Then she finds a working proxy, goes back to the edit page, and adds her name to the list.