Story published! Read at your own peril.

My short story “The Metamorphoses”, was published on Friday by Altered Reality Magazine. Give it a look and a read, and I would always appreciate a comment on how this story resonated with you.

Photo by Debadutta on Pexels.com

I first saw her on a Tuesday, early November. It was starting to chill down outside. That’s how Bradley always said it — “chill down”. I liked him for small things like that, but small things weren’t enough to keep us together. Hell, even big things like a son weren’t enough to keep us together. Anyway.

She was moderate height, blonde, slim build, pretty. She came in to Jack’s All-U-Can-Eat alone, with a book. Stories, by Kafka. I read one before, I think, I couldn’t remember if it was him or Faust.

She helped herself to the buffet, ate quietly, read her book. After she was finished she got a second plate, and then a third. Each time I cleared her table she gave me a small nod and smile, said “Thanks” with a slight German accent, thonks.

“Marie!” Jack called me over to his manager stand, hands on hips. A scowl turned down the corners of his mouth, his thick, greying mustache poking out over thin lips. “She needs to leave.”

I found myself defending a stranger. “She hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Jack’s glare deepened. “You know what I mean. We got a policy here.”

I tossed my head. “No free meals doesn’t mean much when you call it ‘All-U-Can-Eat’,”

“Whatever,” he snarled. “Just get rid of her.” Rolling my eyes, I slowly made my way over to her table.

I didn’t want to do it, I said, but I was going to have to ask her to leave.

“Can’t I just stay here and read, for a while longer?” I loved her accent. “I’m in the middle of a very exciting story.” She sounded so intelligent, so refined.

I got an idea. “Actually, yes,” I said, looking over my shoulder. “That’s perfectly fine.”

Jack was even more disturbed than before. “What the hell’s going on?” His eyes were accusing slits. “Why is she still there?”

“She’ll just pay again for the dinner service,” I said. And even though I often complain that money is tight, I knew I would be able to cover one extra meal.

The Metamorphoses by Stephan James

Writing practice – 9/12/2020

What keeps coming to my mind is

What keeps coming to my mind is that day – that one special, glorious, magical, mystical day in which you both took me to the heights of ecstasy and dashed my heart at the bottom of the highest cliffs imaginable.

Do you remember? Of course you do. No human still with a heart would have forgotten that day. The emotions were too strong, like a tidal wave washing over the both of us, a relentless force overwhelming and tumbling and covering over us, and there we were, helpless against the forces of love and lust and desire and peace and power.

I wished it could have been different. Do you? Who am I kidding, of course you do. I know you wished it could have been more like a gentle fade to black, a casual loss of feeling that subsided over months, years, as the perpetual erosion of the hours gradually wore down the blocks we both were putting up as shields to our hearts.

Instead, it was a bomb that went off between us, one that disintegrate those walls and sent shrapnel flying into our hearts, our souls, and tore them to shreds too.

It would have been better if you hadn’t said it, too. If it had just been a thing that I was too scared of, or too weak to face, or too inexperienced to understand.

But when you did, when you said “I love you too,” it destroyed me. IT took me from the place of confidence and assurance that I couldn’t do right by you, couldn’t do enough for you, couldn’t be what you wanted and needed, and that I was fooling myself to think that I could, and It squished that idea through a wormhole the size of the galaxy and shot my thoughts and expectations halfway across the universe.

When I arrived I thought that I knew what I wanted. When I said what had to happen, I thought it was the right thing. When you knew what I wanted to say but wouldn’t let me say it, it confirmed my suspicion of imbalance, of an out of alignment relationship, of the distance not only between our beds but our hearts too.

And yet –

And yet

Why? Why did you say it?

Why did you tell me that? Why couldn’t it have just been my foolish, vulnerable mistake?

And that’s all it would have been, had you not said what you said.

But –

  But …

    But.

You did.

And now I sit here, years having gone by, and the wound occasionally opens once again. A short memory of that day, or the weeks before, or the first date, or how you first smiled at me.

There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t thought of you. I hate that fact and love it at the same time.

Hate that I am still so tied to the past.

Love that I can still feel.

Hate that I haven’t moved on.

Love that I haven’t given up.

Hate that I wish it would have never happened.

Love that I love that it did.

Impressions of SLAM

This afternoon I visited the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM). As I am sometimes inclined to do, I took along my notebook, in case anything inspired me to write while there. As the art is often inclined to do, it inspired me at various times and from various pieces. Here’s what came out.


Araki Minol, Distant Road II, 1979; St. Louis Art Museum, photo by author

We perch most of the way up the Soul Mountain, a respite during our climb, and as we do I turn a head to look back at the wy we’ve come. Tens of thousands of steps upwards, upwards, ever upwards, this pilgrimage has been harder with each passing day, and yet, a moment like this – a brief respite, a chance to Preview the past and how far we’ve come – is welcome, not just for the termination (if only for a moment) of the incessant pounding of the hike, but for a glimpse of the earth’s natural beauty, arrayed out before us like a divine display of pride in the god’s own creation.

Behind, and below us, we see the craggy, snaggle-toothed lesser peaks poking their irregular peak tops out of the smooth, otherwise unbroken layer of clouds. The pure white dazzles int he shimmering morning sunshine, a radiance which would hurt the eyes, were it not also so beautiful that the body sacrifices itself to the risk of permanent damage just to behold the beauty of the moment.


Evangeline Montgomery, Sunset, 1997; St. Louis Art Museum, photo by the author

I wonder if this is the feeling of schizophrenia – a mass, a seeming jumbled disorder of conflicting thoughts, emotions, logical or illogical connections between elements that would see (to the outsider) to be nothing more than randomness.

I imagine that, to the jumbled mind, this perhaps makes sense – perhaps the lenses inside the brain so refract and refocus and prioritize the overhwhelm that, instead, it looks like this:

Herbert Gentry, Untitled, 1971; St. Louis Art Museum, photo by author

Smooth lines, patterns emerging, a sense of peace and cleanness at the outset and continuing into the whole of the experience.

There is no challenge here except what I make for myself. What I see as disorder, I know is less a problem of the other being “abnormal” and simply my own failure to apply the right kind of equipment.

What state could I put myself in should I wish to be able to see as the other does, the patterns which emerge from the chaos? How can I simplify my own experience, my own observations, the pre-ordained and rigid mechanics I have learned which are insufficient to make meaning out of something which, to another, clearly has a value beyond ink on canvas?


Gebruder Thonet, Bentwood Spiral, 1885; St. Louis Art Museum, photo by the author

Now, I can see a beauty, a symbolism, a regularity, a meaning behind apiece of art. But for the artist, before it is formed, to have not only the skill to achieve a piece, but a vision of what could exist, were she to apply that skill, is extraordinary.

I know not where that vision comes from. Perhaps it is an inherent tendency in us all, the creative instinct deep inside, that only some choose to listen to, only some choose to obey in the call to make something out of something else.

This was a single piece of wood, 28 feet long, and straight. The Artist, instead of imagining it as cut into smaller pieces and fashioned into a chair – or a picture frame – or an oar; instead of those useful, practical items, he choose to see art – this spiral, this sweeping interlocking interconnecting divergence from reality into imagination. Why? Why not? Because it’s there. Because all could do the same thing, given enough practice; and the greatest practice of all is to listen to the Muse as she whispers. She is always whispering. She is always inspiring.

Do you hear her? Do you obey? Or do you listen to the other whispers, in the other ear, of inadequacy, of limited time, of irrelevance once you have created, of insubstantialism, of ignorance by the rest of them out there once you have finished?

She is persistent, that Muse. but she is not overpowering. So be careful that you do not ignore her. Persistent, yes. Perpetually waiting for you to acknowledge her presence? To obey her directive? To do as you have been inspired? Perhaps not.

Therefore, take heed whenever the call is given. Ignore it at your own creative peril. Obey, and make, and make the world better for having done so.

Writing Practice – 6/20/2020

Why do I write?

Just as well, why do I keep asking the question? I have thoughts in my head, surely I have ideas that, if I did not release them to the pages, would build up and build up and build up, until I had no other recourse but to explode my brain in a disorganized, jumbled mess of a release, and then I would have no way of controlling the output.

But that could be okay, wouldn’t it? But, no, it wouldn’t, because I would have no more organized state, no friendly status, no more attractor to future ideas.

Because ideas come to join other ideas. They herd together, they band together, they like to travel in packs like wolves (or, maybe better, elephants, who are less territorial and defensive and more collaborative and cooperative).

My ideas like to be around other ideas and if the destructive release happens (if the reservoir disappears, evaporating into the ether when the head blows up, then there’s really no thing to attract more ideas, and they’ll go off and implant themselves in someone else’s head. Somewhere else that has a more fertile repository, a better breeding ground for the spawn of those ideas in the future.

Would it be too strange to say that such ideas are alive? That they have intentionality, that they have goals, that they choose one thing or another based on a weighing of potential costs and benefits?

Perhaps they do not “move” like flagella, maybe they do not wriggle like the worm or pace like the lion, but I know that ideas do not simply pop into my head spontaneously ex nihilo. They come from their own breeding ground, out there in the non-physical realms, and they are searching for a place to land. They wander the sixth dimension, seeking, seeking, seeking that place that will be welcoming to them. That will invite them in, offer them warmth, comfort, succor, companionship, a place to rest, to remain, to flourish.

My brain offers that when it not only has enough ideas that the newcomer is not scared, but also not so many that it is too crowded to adequately take hold.

Thus my need for continual offloading of ideas into the page. I must make these ideas feel welcome, while, too, allowing for them to explore themselves, to be comfortable, to be real and to understand that they have a larger part to play in this world. They are part of something. We do not know just what that is. But we – my ideas and I and all my other ideas I have had – and will again have in the future – we join together in this symbiosis, this equal-but-not partnership, and we wait.

We wait for our time to shine. We wait for our purpose to be revealed. And while we wait, we enjoy one another, in a wonderfully trans-materialistic orgy of experience and ideation and substantiation and metaphor and causal chain and letting go and simply wondering in amazement at it all.

Writing Practice – joining

The Way of Story, p 169; Perhaps it’s time to return to a cult…

I wonder, though, which one I should choose. There have been so many in the past decades, that it would be hard to pick my favorite. They all offer something unique, some better way of looking at the world, some alternative option only available with them, and it’s hard to say that the negatives outweighed the positives in any of them.

I’ve been in four cults so far in my life, beginning with the one I was born in to. I probably shouldn’t count that, though, because it was less of a cult that I choose and, to be honest, it was a disaster waiting to happen. Some wise, well-intentioned, but mostly clueless (or naive?) Christians, Episcopalians, I believe, “liberated” me from that group when i was fifteen. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad, there, and if they hadn’t taken me out, I’d probably still be living there today. I see them on the news, oh about every two years or so, when some nighttime drama producer needs a little bump in her ratings, and they do a new “expose” that doesn’t point out anything new at all, doesn’t even point out anything illegal, just – different – from the normal standards of decency around them.

If I hadn’t been removed, I probably would still be there, and probably would be pretty happy, too. I think I have a “joiner’s” mind. I like to be a part of things. I like to get involved and interested and invested. I enjoy the thrill that comes with knowing exactly the right things to say whenever anyone challenges our beliefs, and being able to smoothly and confidently rebut their accusations and questions. It’s an internal win too, and an emotional high, when you celebrate afterwards, whether it is with singing (as we did at Eden Garden) or alcohol and drugs (as at high Point Society) or sex (the Love Shack). We always developed our own ways of coming together after vanquishing our foes, even if they only went home bleeding from tongue lashings, which all of us were always able to administer. We all loved our group. we all lived our groups. That’s the beauty of being invested, you find so many like-minded souls that there is an almost constant reinforcement and retrenching of whatever it is you believe.

And the greater beauty is that we don’t waste time with ridiculous artifacts like proof and objectivity. We don’t wast time trying to either convert unbelievers or to retrieve a lost sheep. We have always recognized and admitted that those who are not called, who are not special, will expose themselves, and they should not distract us from our our true, main mission, of living out our calling.

it is not for us to evangelize. I have always said, it is for us to live as a beacon on a hill, bearing bright witness to our best experiences, and if someone else sees, and is attracted, and chooses to investigate, we should gladly welcome them. But to cast our pearls before the swine of humanity, in futile, foolish, inefficient effort, providing no return, giving us no satisfaction, adds none to the fold, and wastes our time.

And that is why, all three times, I have also walked away. At some point I questioned, I had a concern, a problem, a hesitation about what I was asked, commanded, or directed to do. And, in those moments, as all good cult leaders do, they simply cut me out, disowned me, shunned me, cut me off and thinned their herd by one slightly-less-than-perfect member.

I honestly don’t mind it that much. Because I like the “joining” part more than the staying part, anyway. It’s fun to experience the thrill of discovery anew and fresh again, so I have been missing something like that for a while now.

Which brings me back to how I started – perhaps it’s time to get back into a cult.

Any recommendations?

Writing Practice – Just Write

Just write…

Just write a story. Just write a poem. Just write a chapter, or a paragraph, or even a sentence. Just – write – something, anything.

Doesn’t have to be great. Probably won’t be terrible, either. Most likely it’s going to be pretty well down the middle – not that good, not that bad. 80% of the world is, by definition, right in the middle 80% of your work, so when you write something great one day, the next you ought to expect to be below that, much more likely to be around the mean than another of those outside-the-edge pieces.

Just write. Make it real, make it true, make it honest to you, and then you’ve won. If nobody lies it, what does that matter? You did. You do. You wrote. You enjoyed it.

But here’s another similar idea- you’re not that special. If you like something, it’s pretty likely that others will, too. They’ll resonate with your stuff, because they’ve been that same poor kid growing up without a parent because they were always working. They’ll see similarities between how you listed portrayed showed demonstrated the existential angst of today’s midlife crisis generation and they’ll want to see more of the same.

Or they will stand in reference of the way you depicted (in their minds, only using your words) the vast landscape, stretching across their vision, using such basic, yet powerful, words as intrepid and seeking and voluminous. You may not make the “best” of every you and your mind and the way you see the world, thing, but I guarantee, I promise, when you are honest in yourself, when your writing reflects you and your mind and the way you see the world, Others will see it that way, too. They will feel the pull inside their chest, a reverberation that pulls them out of their chair or their subway seat or off their porcelain throne, where ever it is that you have reached them, and they will stand up proud, proud to have read you, proud to have been seen by you, proud to be shown to the world in such a pure and vibrant and poignant way, and they will advocate for you, they will tell neighbors and friends and enemies about you, they will say, “Oh, my god, you’ve got to read this, it’s totally what I was thinking the other day,” and at that point you have transitioned. You have evolved. You have gone from writer to influencer and they, that audience, they too have matured, they have evolved, they have arrived, the have advanced from passive in-takers to active out-givers. They give you to their audience, they give you to the world around them, and, in that way, the seeds spread, and the cycle begins anew.

Welcome the cycle. Appreciate it. Revel in it. And love it. For it is as organic as moss, as influential as the steady drip of rainwater, as inescapable as the sunlight. It will find you, it will swallow you up, it will overtake and overwhelm you. But only if you choose not to seek after it. Only if you allow it to happen, in its own time, at its own pace, not by Striving and Searching for accolades because you have tried to write “what they want”, but, paradoxically, because you have not.

Writing Practice 1/12/2020 – Budget

Prompt: “budget”

Good lord, don’t speak to me of budgets. How often must we talk of accounts, and income, and expenses, and allocations? Let us live our lives! Let us run free! Let us roam, let us expand let us explore! No more artificial, arbitrary constraints of a dollar here or a dollar there. No more abstract concepts of balancing from one ledger line to another. No more wondering whether we’ll be off and over by a penny, thus incurring the same warmth as if we had gone over by ten dollars or a thousand.

Why such absolutes? Be more fluid, more flexible, and see where life takes you. Fly! Fly free and enjoy the wind of life in your hair.

Ignore the boundaries of capitalism and embrace the freedom of poverty. Release yourself from the shackles of limitations and discover just how much you can accomplish with nothing, nothing at all.

Ignore the voices at the back of your head saying “worry” and “fear” and “save”. What do they know of life, anyway? What good is saving now for another day, when that other day, you are too feeble to use what you have saved?

No, tomorrow is not guaranteed. And, likewise, neither is a year from now not guaranteed. So, live your life. Love your life. Appreciate your boundaries, and run free within them.

When you find, as you absolutely will, eventually, that those boundaries no longer offer the stimulation you once received – when your cavorting within the confines of your budget no longer satisfy your curiosity for adventure, for exploration, and experience – then, then my friend, it is time.

You shall know it by the warning signs: when you are antsy with your routine – when you are bored of your friends – when your lover does not – when you see these, be aware, and be prepared, that the change is coming.

It will be difficult, no doubt. It may be violent, how strongly your subconscious rebels against the freedom you are exposing it to. But push on, continue, fight this good fight, for in doing, you dissolve the last barriers to true experience – those limitations on mind, on body, and, truly, on happiness usually called a “budget”.

How to draft a book

If you’ve ever wondered how to write the first draft of a book, here’s what I did. I don’t recommend this process.

  1. Be in your mid-life crisis.
  2. Recognize that writing is one of your stress releases.
  3. Be talking with your writer’s group, and get the idea for a book title called “In Too Deep”.
  4. Imagine that In Too Deep would be an awesome name for an erotic book.
  5. Decided to write that.
  6. Notice that NaNoWriMo is coming up.
  7. Start NaNoWriMo without any characters, plot, setting, or anything, knowing only that you’re going to take some of your recent experience and try to write >50,000 words in 30 days.
  8. Finish NaNoWriMo with ~50,500 words (thus WINNING!), but realize that the story is only half-finished.
  9. Write another 10,000 words in the next month, and run out of steam.
    • Because you’ve generally used writing to figure out what the story is, not try to sell it.
    • And now that you know where the story is going, you don’t need to write any more. It’s not that interesting, and you’ve got some other stuff going on, so, meh.
  10. Wait 3 years.
  11. Pick it up again and add another 3,000 words.
  12. Put it down for another 3 months.
  13. Pick it up again and re-read it, and think, “Hey, you know what? I could do this.”
  14. Commit to finishing the draft by December 31, 2019.
  15. Get encouragement from your writer’s group.
  16. Get 3,000 words from the end and keep getting sidetracked by new ideas that come into your head.
    • Realize these are self-sabotaging your completion, because if you actually finish the damn thing, then you’re done and you don’t have something to do.
    • Say “Fuck that shit” to self-sabotage, and decide to write the last 2 scenes without adding anything extra.
  17. Write the next-to-last scene with 3 days left in the year.
  18. Think, Maybe?
  19. Write the last scene.
  20. Basically go, Wait, what did I just do?

Repeat.


Yeah, I don’t recommend that process. But, it worked! I have a draft of a novel. And I’m going to decide by February 11 whether to try to get an agent and traditionally publish, or self-publish.

Any and all comments welcome.

Writing Practice 1/5/2020 – “Mushrooms”

It is a strange mashup we have made in English for those multi-faceted varieties of fungus. We call them mushrooms, from a very strange quirk of language. Originally they were called “toe-fruit”, up until approximately the 13th century. Such a name applied because they were often harvested by walking through the forest, and kicking at the growths on the ground with your toes.

All of that changed, though, with the advent of 13th century farming techniques. A young farmer in England, whose name is unfortunately lost to history, had been finding toe-fruits in the wild for years. One afternoon she had entered her walled-off compost room at the side of her house, and found the toe-fruits growing not only at ground level, but at many different heights up and down the walls.

We now know that the spores of such must have been spread onto the rich, fertile compost by some method – mice, or perhaps accidental distribution via undigested food, or some other means. We know not what she said, or what she believed, but we do know that she became one of the first to cultivate toe-fruits with regularity, ultimately using the profits of her harvest to build another compost-room, and leveraging success over and over. The villagers around found her toe-fruits were ecstatic to find a regular, reliable source of such edibles, and when they asked her where she found them, she would cryptically reply that they came from “mush room”. Not wanting to give away the secrete of [illegible], for if she did others might apply the same to their own benefit, they more [illegible] accepted this bounty and applied the spoils to their lives.

Thus was both the strange name of the mushroom, which has carried on down to the modern day. Should you ever encounter other cultures and languages, though, you will often find yourself dealing with a name that, should it be translated literally, resembles not so much a room full of mush, but the fruit of your smallest digit.

Cheers!

A Bit Of Chatbot Humor

The other day I got involved in a discussion with what is either a really good chatbot or a really bad human. You decide! My text is in bold, the response is normal.

Annotations (my external comments now that I’m a few moments removed) are in italics.

owen-beard-K21Dn4OVxNw-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

***

Chat started on 12 Dec 2019, 03:31 PM (GMT+0)
(03:31:48) *** Ian joined the chat ***
(03:31:48) *** Visitor 44671434 joined the chat ***
(03:31:51) Ian: Hi there
(03:31:52) Ian: — Are you looking to get a website design & Developed ? I am Ian Sr Web Developer Allow me to assist you 🙂
(03:32:02) Visitor 44671434 (Stephan James): hi ian, what’s twelve minus nineteen?

I often pose a question like this to check and see if I’m chatting with a bot.

(03:32:23) Ian: -4 : D
(03:32:33) Ian: I am not a bot don’t worry
(03:32:55) Visitor 44671434: close. it’s actually -7. i hope your web design is better than your math.

Well, that was surprising. First time I’ve seen a bot actually try to answer.

(03:33:11) Ian: Ofcourse it is
(03:33:30) Ian: because that is our specialty and math is not
(03:33:44) Ian: So what is the nature of your business and what sort of a website you are looking for ?

At this point I wasn’t looking for anything. I don’t even remember what website it was on, so I don’t know what I was trying to do! I think it was some web design company. Hm… how can I really freak out this bot?

(03:34:34) Visitor 44671434: well, i’m a porn scammer. i want to create automated e-mails that spam inboxes of unsuspecting grandmothers and ask them for ransom so I don’t publish the pictures of their granddaughters banging boyfriends.

That ought to do it.

(03:34:45) Visitor 44671434: is that something you can help me with?
(03:35:47) Ian: I am sorry i cannot help you in such activity and i wish you also don’t do that ! However thanks

Surprising! Generally you don’t get much pushback. And I don’t understand the “thanks” either, so I’m going to poke this bear a little bit.

(03:36:12) Visitor 44671434: why are you saying “thanks” there?
(03:36:21) Ian: for wasting my t8ime
(03:36:23) Ian: time
(03:36:34) Visitor 44671434: hey, you waste my time, I”m gonna return the favor.
(03:36:53) Ian: Please do that ASAP !

see, now it seems like this isn’t a bot, because of the typo and the correction, but then it says it wants me to “return the favor” of “wasting my time”, which a human wouldn’t do.

(03:37:01) Visitor 44671434: Already on top of it!
(03:37:12) Ian: Don’t be on top its very sharp

Again sounds like an automated kind of response. No way this is a human. A human would be offended and pissed off.

(03:37:42) Visitor 44671434: sharp doesn’t please the ladies, Ian, you know that. you’ve got to be thick but with a gentle touch. sharp is only going to poke and possibly cut.
(03:38:10) Ian: lol

Does this thing understand innuendo? Maybe it’s not a bot after all.

(03:38:37) Ian: Well let’s be honest i really can’t help you in something like this as i really don’t know what kind of a web service will that be for
(03:38:59) Visitor 44671434: good bot. good job. I almost believe you are a human.
(03:39:09) Visitor 44671434: You’re like *this close* to passing that Turing test.

In case you don’t know, the Turing Test is named for Alan Turing, who said that artificial intelligence is achieved when an observer would not be able to tell that one of the parties to a conversation is actually a machine.

(03:39:57) Ian: Well i would suggest you to stop judging who i am and start telling what i can do for you so we could get this on track – as i really won’t get anything even if you pass me

See, now we’re back to the bot trying to sell me on its services. If it were a human, he would have been disgusted with my desire to create a scammy website, and would have ended the chat.

(03:40:53) Visitor 44671434: no “judgment” here. As I said, you can help me build a website for my business. Do you have a problem with profit? Do you have a policy against certain types of business? or is it your individual evaluation as to which are worthy of your help?
(03:41:10) Visitor 44671434: I need the website to attract investors. Mostly information.
(03:41:28) Ian: Well if it was really a business then i don’t have any problem in creating one for you tell me what things you want on it and have you secured a domain name yet ?

100% right, the bot doesn’t care about what kind of business it is, so long as it can close the sale.

(03:42:12) Visitor 44671434: I want someone else to front the $50k that the guy on the dark web told me he needed in order to build the scammy email automation. I’m just the middleman.
(03:42:35) Visitor 44671434: I don’t have a domain secured. Do you have any recommendations?
(03:43:11) Ian: Well you can let me know what domain you would like to secure and i can see if that can be done

Ooh! Options! Mind spinning… What would be something that might not yet exist in the real world?

(03:43:56) Visitor 44671434: I’d like “shadyinvestments.com“.
(03:44:13) Ian: First of all it would be a website which needs to be created so as far the content is concern tell me what pages you would like to have and how soon do you want this to be completed ?

And now that you ask, I am absolutely loving this “create on the fly” aspect that we’re getting in to.

(03:45:42) Visitor 44671434: I need one front page with a “welcome to this crappy website” type of stuff. Then I need 3 pages each with a profile of a grandmother that we’re going to scam. Finally I need a contact page, and I need a separate web forum where we can have private conversations.
(03:45:56) Visitor 44671434: Listen Ian, I’ve got another call in about 15 minutes. Think we can wrap this up before then?
(03:46:07) Ian: Yes we can do that before that –
(03:46:15) Ian: now as far the profiles are concern you have all that data ?
(03:46:22) Visitor 44671434: I can make something up.
(03:46:34) Ian: Okay let me see the domain if it is available
(03:46:41) Ian: how soon do you want this site to be up in running ?
(03:47:15) Visitor 44671434: i’m not in a hurry, i’ve got until like Christmas.
(03:47:52) Ian: We can make it up before christmas

I bet you say that to all the warm leads, Ian.

(03:47:57) Visitor 44671434: Yay!
(03:48:21) Visitor 44671434: Now, I’m a little fuzzy on whether or not you’re a reputable business. can you give me some links to prior customers of yours?

This was a true request. I’m now invested(ish) in this thing, and I just might create a fake website.

(03:49:22) Ian: Also the domain is available and it is for $4000 but i do have other options in the same name available for you Shadyinvestments.co Shadyinvestments.org Shadyinvestments.Us

shady-investments.com

(03:50:31) Visitor 44671434: whoa, $4,000 is too much.
(03:50:45) Visitor 44671434: What can I get for tree fiddy?
(03:51:15) Ian: shady-investments.com < We can secure this one for $500 – for 5 Years
(03:51:27) Visitor 44671434: only $500? that’s more like it!
(03:51:58) Ian: and let me share you some of the sites which we have done www.sammydress.com https://limnia.com/ http://www.lillypulitzer.com https://dogstudio.co/ https://rocka.co/ https://travelshift.com/ https://www.penarosawatches.com/
(03:52:21) Ian: yes $500 for 5 years Domain Name will be www.shady-investments.com
(03:53:00) Visitor 44671434: Hold on, I’m working on something on this end… give me a minute.

I was; I decided to register shady-investments.com for myself, rather than paying them for it. Not sure I’m dropping $500 just yet.

(03:53:04) Ian: Sure
(03:54:12) Visitor 44671434: so, quick question – I just registered shady-investments.com myself, and it only cost $8 for a whole year. Why are you charging $500 for 5 years?

I used namecheap.com. I like using a domain registrar for searching whether or not a website is already active, because in the off case that it’s not, there are other trawlers out there that will note what you searched for, note that there’s no website, and go register that one automatically. Then when you want that one, boom, it’s taken, too, so performing searches as clandestinely as possible is better. 

(03:54:34) Ian: Because that include the hosting Server for 5 years as well on which your website will be hsoted
(03:54:35) Ian: hosted

Oh, that makes sense.

And look, another intentional typo.

I wonder if I could get a data scientist to analyze this type to see whether there is any regularity to the typos?

(03:54:49) Ian: With the Dedicated connection including SSL (Secuirty for the website )
(03:55:00) Visitor 44671434: oh, well why didn’t you explain that before?
(03:55:35) Ian: We send invoice mentioning everything or when confirming the domain name you heavn’t confirmed yet which is why the information was not shared
(03:55:58) Visitor 44671434: see, you’re going to have to go slow with me here. I’m a little new to this whole scamming everyone thing. Most of the businesses I’ve run before have been legit.

Trying to bring it back to “shady investments”.

(03:56:34) Ian: Even i am thinking that you are about to scam me as well with the offer so it would be better to talk over the phone so we could wrap this up shortly
(03:56:39) Ian: May i have your number to call you ?

No way this would be “Ian” calling me, if I actually gave a number it would be some other sales schmuck. Not interested.

(03:57:01) Visitor 44671434: sorry, as I said, I’m going to be on a call in about 3 more minutes.
(03:57:26) Ian: You said 15 minutes and according to my watch you still have 9 minutes left

We had about 3 minutes left. The bot is as bad at math as I was.

(03:57:40) Visitor 44671434: I’m bad at estimating time. I gotta be honest, Ian, I did not expect this to go so well! thank you for everything.
(03:58:33) Ian: Not a problem hopefully will wait for you to come back after the call 🙂 as i found this business very interesting which is why will get you extra discount on it to catch more granny’s !

Again with the sales pitch! I don’t believe that was a real person (like, who would find this business “interesting”), but I’m not kidding. I totally enjoyed the chat, and I now have another website I might develop.

(03:58:57) Visitor 44671434: Awesome!
(04:30:01) *** Visitor 44671434 left the chat ***

***

So, what comes out of this? If you’ll notice, “shadyinvestments.com” is actually registered, as well as “shady-investments.com”. That’s not a problem.

In the next couple of days I put in a request on “shadyinvestements.com” for a quote to buy that domain name. It was something ridiculous like $4,000, and I ended up getting a call from a dude on the phone. He wanted to scare me into buying the name, because people wouldn’t remember the ‘-‘, and then someone would develop the site shadyinvestments.com and scam off all my members, but, remember, I don’t actually have a product.

All I have is an idea.

So I didn’t buy his crappy $4k domain name. I’m gonna make my own crappy domain and get rich!

Let’s make Shady-Investments.com into an entertainment website, where each month we’ll create a questionable, but perhaps plausible, business idea and post about it. The first one is that grandma-scam website. The “shady” part is not that we’re going to scam grandmothers, but that we’re investing $50k to build the website. Will solicit ideas from readers, maybe make it interactive. I bet there’s more that could go up there, and we could gin up some Excel spreadsheets to make it look legit. Do it right, we’ll get some of those “investors” hooked. And then?

alexander-mils-lCPhGxs7pww-unsplash
Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Totally worth it.

Be on the lookout for a launch announcement in Q1 2020!