Short: Ame

Believe it or not, this blog was not started solely so that I could post satirical content and tips on how to make your PC and its software work. I also had every intention of publishing some more serious work. Since it’s my seventh post (if you count the first one, whose title even fails to do it justice), I’ve decided to dig up an old short I wrote back in about 2012. It’s titled “Ame” which means rain in Japanese. It’s about 1400 words, which is around four paperback pages:


Ame
by J. McMaster

Monday. It’s raining again. No, not again because it hasn’t stopped. It never stops now. I can’t remember a time when it didn’t rain, though I know that such a time existed once, the same way I know that the sky was blue – just don’t ask me what kind of blue because I don’t remember.
There’s a lot I don’t remember, actually, like how I came to be in this hotel, how I aged so quickly, why time feels like there are pieces of it missing, and who that person in the photograph is.
That photograph. It’s the only possession I have besides my clothes. I don’t know where it was taken and, although I know the person next to that man must be me, I can’t remember looking like her any more clearly than I remember a day it wasn’t raining.
That man in the photograph. Who is he? I don’t remember him and, unlike the sky on a sunny day, I don’t even know what he should be. Was he my husband? My boyfriend? Just a close friend? A casual acquaintance? A cousin? A brother? Something about his smile bothers me. There’s something false about it. His eyes seem unfocused, too. It’s almost as if he didn’t want to be there. Then again, I don’t look that enthusiastic, either. In some ways my smile is more fake than his. Did I not want to be there either?
The place in that photograph. Where is it? There aren’t any clues. It’s a generic backdrop that could be any middle-class home in almost any country. I can’t even see out the windows because there aren’t any. I suppose it’s because in photography it’s bad practice to take a picture facing a light source. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally the light should be behind the photographer and the subject should be facing it.
Why do I know about photography? I’m sure I never did any, neither professionally nor as a hobby.
“Good morning,” says a generic-looking member of the hotel’s staff as she enters my room. I didn’t order room service, I don’t think. She didn’t knock, either.
“Morning,” I absently mutter back. My mind is too preoccupied for pleasantries. I know something’s wrong, I can feel it.
She sets the tray down on my bed. Something is wrong. Definitely wrong. This isn’t food befitting even a low-end traveller’s lodge. This is like a prison meal.

Thursday. It’s raining again. I shouldn’t say again because it never stopped. The hotel staff are quite lively today and they even bothered to knock before coming in earlier. Maybe someone complained about the dreadful food and service yesterday. Wait, today’s Thursday so how can yesterday have been Monday? I guess it was Wednesday after all. I tend to lose track of time these days because everything always seems so similar. It doesn’t help that it always rains or that I live out of an hotel, either. Well, to be fair, I can’t control the weather and renting or buying a place would be a hassle at my age.
There’s a knock at the door. Should I ignore it? Probably. Room service has come and gone so it can’t be anyone I want to see.
The knock’s persistent.
“Fine, come in then,” I call in defeat as a well-dressed young man enters.
“How are we today, Ellen?” he asks, taking a seat without asking permission. Why is he addressing me by my first name when I’ve never met him before?
“Um…” I pause hesitantly. Something’s wrong. I know something’s wrong.
“Ellen, do you remember me?” he asks, not bothering to give me a chance to formulate a reply. I would think, given my reaction, it’s patently obvious I don’t remember him.
I wish this man would stop looking expectantly at me. I wish he’d let go of that fake smile. It’s as false as the smile I’m wearing in that photograph.
That photogr–
“Ellen?” the annoying man cuts in, prompting me for a reply.
I take a long breath and release it with intentional exasperation. “I should think it’s relatively obvious that I don’t know you, or, at the very least, I don’t remember you,” I reply.
The man is frowning now, yet still trying to smile. What an awkward expression; the upper and lower halves of his face at war. Finally, the frown prevails. Why is he taking it so personally? Nobody remembers everyone they meet.
“Ellen,” the man begins extremely gravely, “do you still have that photograph?”
Of course I have it, it’s the only thing I own. I nod a hesitant affirmation. I don’t like where this is going. Something’s wrong.
“Ellen, can you tell me who those two people in the photograph are?” he asks as if the coming of Armageddon hinges on my response.
“Well, the woman is obviously me,” I reply. Who is that man with me? I can never remember him which makes me question the sanity of carrying this photograph around for so long. Then again, it is my only real possession and that in itself makes it sentimental, no matter who’s in it. “I don’t remember the other person.”
“Ellen,” the young man says grimly, “that’s not you.”
Like he would know. He hadn’t even been born yet when this photo was taken.
“Ellen–” he begins but I raise my hand to interrupt him.
“Look here, young man, you weren’t even thought of back when this was taken, you couldn’t possibly know about it!” I spit with a condescending confidence, though even as the words escape me I feel uneasy. Something’s wrong. Something’s always been wrong now that I think about it.
The young man shows no signs of offence at my reply. Instead, he continues to frown while scrutinising me. What is he looking for? What does he want? Why can’t I kick him out? Even if he is the hotel manager or someone similar, this is my room.
“Ellen, that photo is one of thousands and the people in it are just models. They only use them to sell the frames. We’ve been over this before,” he sighs before handing me a folder with my name, age and a few other details printed on a sticker on the front cover.
I open the folder and begin reading it. It’s hard to make out the words amongst the scribblings as most of the papers inside are hand-written. Phrases like severely delusional, brain damage and amnesia pop out the sea of words and complicated medical terms along with names of drugs I can’t pronounce and their dosages. So much for morning vitamins. So much for hotels.
I look up from the mess of papers at the young man, my attending doctor. I don’t think he’s supposed to show me this file. It may cause him trouble. Still, he did it anyway. He respected what was left of a person inside me enough to let me in on the truth.
“Ellen,” he begins with a shorter, but more sorrowful sigh than before, “I’m truly sorry. Every time it rains, you seem to gain some lucidity. I really hoped maybe this time things would be better.”
He’s young. He hasn’t been jaded by the medical profession yet. I’m thankful for that because each time he does this, I get my life back — if only for a fleeting moment.
“Thank you again, doctor,” I smile.
“Do you remember anything new this time?”
For a moment I’m lost. I can already feel the fog forming around my mind again. It’s thick, heavy, and hard to resist, but there’s something out there, a light, one I’ve seen before, that cherished memory.
That photograph. I don’t know either of those people in it. They mean nothing to me. Yet, this is my most important possession because it’s all I have left of that frame, that beautiful silver frame he gave me. I took this photograph out and stuffed it into my pocket. I was going to put a picture of us into that frame, but I never got the chance. It was raining that day, too.
“I remember! It’s not about the photograph, it’s the frame!” I cry with excitement. “I was–”

Tuesday. It’s raining again. I shouldn’t say again because it never stopped. It never stops now, but, for some reason, today I feel as though it’ll clear up for a while.


Well, there you have it. Bear in mind it’s raw because I wrote it for a short fiction competition (the limit was 1500 words), but lost my nerve the last minute so it never got edited, let alone submitted. Still, all comments and constructive criticisms are welcome.

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No: The Internet Poet is the Modern T.S. Eliot

I found only small islands of sanity containing the tiniest rustic villages of sanity during my travels across the vast World Web, a bottomless ocean of meaningless abbreviations, misspelled words, grammar errors, missing punctuation, and, my favourite, people who have the audacity to call themselves modern poets. I shan’t mention names, but I regularly visit a particular blog of a particular ex of a particular friend of mine for the soul purpose of a few laughs. I’m not naming names but the person is question seems to draw a large amount of inspiration from the likes of T.S. Eliot, be it coincidence or design. To clarify: this is not a good thing.

A couple of years back, I was feeling inspired by the LSD-driven depravity that would-be internet poets were spewing out en mass so I wrote this:


My Cloud
By J. McMaster

Upon a cloud I gaily strode, wind upon my side
Flowers flying, wind laughing, little pigs that cried
Oh the spark-less fire warmed me by the cider stand
And ever did I lie and watch as the flowers did land

Oh petals pumpkin, gore and oil, juxtaposed they be
Like liking learning little laws, literally “losslessly”
And finally the post comes in, roosting upon my cake
Getting up, I climb the cheese, to get to Cola lake

Up the moon, down the moon, round the corner and into my shack
Up the chair, down the curtain, round the bench, come into my shack
Up the moon, down the moon, round the corner and into my shack
Up the chair, down the curtain, round the bench, come into my shack

Poor nightingale who growls a song, in pure tin-metal lust
While Other World keeps painting all, in decay, blood and rust
My eyes are open but I cannot smell, the vegetables of harvests-past
And oh the tragic lingering cabbage, a flavour which shall not last

Now wonder the tepid all alone, we have no hot-cold here
Go back to the goat and get a shoe, for shoes are what “they” fear
Another consequence of my delight, a mothball in my coke
“Yuck!” caws the lamb as she shudders in fright, at my horrid little joke

Up the moon, down the moon, round the corner and into my shack
Up the chair, down the curtain, round the bench, come into my shack
Up the moon, down the moon, round the corner and into my shack
Up the chair, down the curtain, round the bench, come into my shack

Oh the moon is bland, hand me the sour, and we’ll all drink a cup of grey
And we’ll wearily run and climb and prance, as we wind down another day
Oh I see it coming, make no mistake, blue and green are in
But gaze upon the grazing cows, and you’ll be punished for your sin

So from my cloud I seek to rest, and to hell with this poem now
I’ve had enough, I cannot go on, by any means or how
So I finish here with little else, a word just left to say
That I’ve gone sane, it isn’t, I cannot live this way.


For the oblivious, this is satirical. I was almost tempted not to mention it being so, simply to see how many “deep” thinkers out there “totally understood” what I was trying to say regarding the human condition and the plight of our cultural and religious conflict. Then I decided I’d have too many comments to wade through and too many users Weirdo_BlueStalker following, and subsequently stalking, me. As always, your thoughts, comments, accolades, death threats, criticisms, and rants are welcome.

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Sing-Along: The Twelve Days of Christmas

I dug this up a little while ago, something I threw together and posted on a forum a few years back around Christmas time. It was a mock set of lyrics for The Twelve Days of Christmas carol. It’s a little early for carols and the lyrics require a fair knowledge of geekdom and internet culture to fully appreciate, but I thought I’d share it nonetheless. I wrote it in American, which means that the letter zed is pronounced, “zee.”


My Twelve Days of Christmas
by J. McMaster

On the first day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Some software in a gz

On the second day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the third day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the fourth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the fifth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the sixth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the seventh day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Seven Peers a Seeding
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the eighth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Eight Servers Crashing
Seven Peers a Seeding
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the ninth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Nine Pirate Songs
Eight Servers Crashing
Seven Peers a Seeding
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the tenth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Ten Google Ads
Nine Pirate Songs
Eight Servers Crashing
Seven Peers a Seeding
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the eleventh day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Eleven Bloggers Ranting
Ten Google Ads
Nine Pirate Songs
Eight Servers Crashing
Seven Peers a Seeding
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz

On the twelth day of Christmas
the world web sent to me:
Twelve Pointless Tweets
Eleven Bloggers Ranting
Ten Google Ads
Nine Pirate Songs
Eight Servers Crashing
Seven Peers a Seeding
Six Lil’ Ponies
Five Free Games
Four Four-Oh-Fours
Three Locked Threads
Two Lolcat pics
and some software in a gz


Extra points if you read through the entire thing without skipping to the last verse like any sane person would do. As usual, feel free to share your thoughts, love and hatred with me below.

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Mednafen: Dealing with CD Image Problems

This post assumes the following:

*. You’re running a Linux OS environment
*. You can install software
*. You’re not afraid of spending about two minutes in front of the CLI.
*. You’re having some sort of problem running a CD image. This post is specific to PlayStation games but it’s probably applicable to any other CD-based consoles too.
*. You’re a Mednafen user of any level (novice to expert).

Before we proceed with the real troubleshooting, it is important to note that with Mednafen, one does not open the actual image file. To play a game, you’ll need to open the accompanying cue sheet (a .cue file). So, firstly, make sure of the following:

*. You’re opening the accompanying .cue file, not the .bin or other image file

So, having gotten that out of the way, now we can actually start troubleshooting. The following is a list of common problems:

*. I have a .mdf and .mds file
*. I have no .cue file.
*. I only have a .iso file.
*. I only have a .bin file.
*. I have some other format that doesn’t work

To proceed, you need to install mdf2iso. If you don’t know how to, see your distribution’s documentation or glean this table (the Arch Wiki is one of the best information sources, even for non-Arch users). So:

*. Install mdf2iso. Read the man page too (yeah right).
*. Open the CLI in the same directory as your problem CD image. For this example, our game is called Example.

Now, back to the problems. Below are all your solutions in Q & A format:

Q: My file is Example.mdf
A: That’s what this was originally about. Issue the following command:
$ mdf2iso --cue Example.mdf
Short wait. A .cue file will be created. You do not need to convert the image, but simply generate the cue sheet. Open Example.iso.cue and play.

Q: My file is Example.iso
A1: Issue the following command:
$ mdf2iso --cue Example.iso
Somewhat of a wait. A .bin file and an accompanying cue sheet called Example.iso.bin and Example.iso.cue respectively will be generated from your ISO file. Open Example.iso.cue and play.

Q: I have some other format Mednafen won’t play
A: Try the procedure. If it works you’ll get one of the above results.

Q: I only have a .bin file
A: This is unlikely if you ripped it yourself (implicit accusation unto illegitimate dealings). Luckily there’s a an archive at redump.org that will likely have the cue sheet you need. You can select your system from the Discs menu. This is not intended to enable you if you obtained a rip illegally.

If mdf2iso does not work for you, don’t panic. There are many conversion tools out there and the easiest and safest way to find them is to search for the image’s format (usually indicated by the file extension) in your package manager’s database. You should find some tools, even if all they do is mount the image (note mounting the image should be a last resort and won’t be discussed further as it is outside the scope of this post).

If you found this post useful then please like it, tweet it, or whatever. Questions, queries and feedback welcome, simply leave a comment.

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