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Super Fun Adventure Quest Time

THE WRATH OF THWACK S.P.O.C.C. VERSION ONE

NYE 2012>

PROLOGUE

In the year two-thousand-and-twelve of the Modern Era, Viktor and Einida introduced into the world a grand invention. The story of that boon to the human race has not been told until now.

CHAPTER ONE -- THE PARTY

The drunken party-goer tapped Viktor on the shoulder and said “Hey clipboard dude, can you play 'Party Rock Anthem' by LMFAO?”

Viktor stopped dancing with his clipboard and grimaced. He put his finger in the air as if to deliver a devastating monologue that would educate the young ne’er-do-well on the finer points of dance music… of which "Party Rock Anthem" was clearly not… when he saw Einida glowering at him from across the dance floor. He suddenly remembered the promise he had given her.

He smiled weakly at the party-goer and said, “Of course that song can be added to the playlist. Give me a moment to find it.” Then he abruptly turned on his heels and mumbled indignantly, “I never should have promised Einida that I would agree to play any and every song that these imbeciles request. It is a tremendously terrible travesty to interrupt the smooth flow of my perfectly curated musical song list”

“Rock on, dude!” said the drunken party-goer, as he tried to give Viktor a high-five.

Viktor whirled back around, waved his clipboard at the man, and witheringly growled, “Sorry, son, I don’t high-five.”

Viktor vigorously motioned at Einida with the clipboard. She pushed her way through the crowded dance floor and came to him.

“What’s wrong now?”

“Walk with me to the stereo system. I have just experienced yet another song request.” He sniffed disdainfully.

He continued, “Why on earth are people asking me to play music for them? That fool wants me to play 'Party Anthem.' Don’t they understand that I have specifically calculated the best playlist for this precise party experience. I followed the ‘Law of the DJ.’ Don’t they understand that this party has been designed to have a slow-building crescendo, with the perfect amount of taut tension, concluded with a grand emotional finale. It’s scientifically calibrated!”

Einida sighed. “Oh Viktor, it’s because they’re following the ‘Law of the Clipboard.’ You know that whoever has a clipboard is automatically considered to be in charge of any given situation.”

They stopped and sat down next to the stereo. Viktor placed his clipboard atop it.

Viktor sighed in turn. “Carrying the clipboard is indeed an awesome responsibility and a great badge of rank. But I grow weary of these many, many regrettable musical requests. It is a scourge against humanity to interrupt such a carefully curated song list. And I’m certainly not in the mood to be a disc jockey. I simply wish to study the effect of lighting on the enhancement of emotion during a festive gathering.

Einida smiled and leaned towards him. “Do you remember when people used to go to parties? They would flip through vinyl albums and lean their favorite album against the base of the record player to indicate to the DJ that they wanted their favorite song played next?”

Viktor nodded gravely, stroked his goatee, and said, “It was a simpler time, full of simpler people. And do you remember when we entered the brave new world of Compact Disks? People would endlessly sort through a collection and create magical playlists by placing the stack of CDs next to the stereo, in the order in which they wished for the DJ to play them.”

Einida leaned back in her chair. “It was always so delightful to have a crowd of people joining in on the selection of music at a party. It meant that everyone was involved with the music curation. We would all celebrate when a serendipitous series of songs were chosen seemingly at random. Hearing eclectic music mixes would delightfully surprise you and elevate the entire crowd. Nothing can quite build a sense of community faster than crowd sourcing a DJ set. We should make that into a law.”

Viktor's eyes narrowed. “The CDs would make a sound… It was mesmerizing. It could get rather loud when an overly enthusiastic person would sort through a music collection.”

Einda gazed off dreamily.

“It sounded a bit like ‘thwack.’” Viktor said, his fingers dancing in the air. “Floppy disks also made similar noises when sorted. It was always such an audio-kinesthetically delightful experience to look for a file in a box of floppies. The data was made physical, a solid object. To lose a file meant one would have to misplace a physical square of metal and plastic, rather than an electronic whatsit blipping off into the ether.”

Einida looked at Viktor wistfully. “As someone who adores organizing physical objects, I miss terribly the golden age of physical media. Music was on CDs, computer files were on floppies, and movies were on VHS tapes. It was the epic epoch for Inventory Managers, albeit a somewhat loud one. VHS tapes were especially loud when one sorted through a box of them.”

Viktor suddenly lifted the clipboard into the air and dropped it to the floor. It landed squarely, making a ‘thwack’ sound.

The Thwack><

He stood and shouted, “There it is! 'Thwack' is what we need, what the human race has been yearning for all these years. It is our destiny to revolutionize the entire course of music storage solutions. It’s so simple, yet so difficult. What a grand problem to occupy our brains. To the Lab, Einida!”

He strode off towards the door.

Einida picked up the clipboard and yelled after him, “But what about the party lights and mood enhancement experiment?”

Viktor yelled back over his shoulder, “We have enough data points to analyze. Our calling lies elsewhere!”

Einida leaned forward towards the computer. With the mouse, she dragged the mp3 song file for "Party Anthem" onto the playlist. She stood up and waved at the drunken party-goer with a mixture of good humor and pity. Then she too strode towards the door.

CHAPTER TWO -- IN THE LAB

Viktor and Einida were sitting at a table covered in laptops, cardboard boxes, small cards, bric-a-brac, and the orphaned detritus, flotsam, and jetsam which collects in the labs of scientists, researchers, and explorers.

Viktor's eyes surveyed the objects before him. “The problem with our current system is that there’s no thwack. And where there is no thwack, there is no contentment. Thwack is the delivery system of joy. We must therefore create a system that has thwack.”

Einida understoof completely. “So, is that our primary action item for this project? To, dare I say, bring thwack back?”

Viktor nodded enthusiastically. "Quite so! After a careful analysis of our current system, which is clearly lacking thwack, I’ve selected a few tentative solutions. First -- RFID-enabled hotel door keys. I knew you had been saving them for a good reason. Good gracious, what foresight you possess!”

Einida smiled modestly. She walked over to a wall of bins and pulled out the bin labeled, “RFID Hotel Key Cards,” and handed it to Viktor.

Viktor scanned a key over an RFID reader. It beeped. He giggled while typing furiously on a laptop.

Then he said, “Glorious! I have long dreamed of using RFID to solve a very specific problem and now here we are! I shall stand upon the shoulders of giants and play any song that I wish with a mere flick of the wrist!”

He demonstrated with the hotel key in his hand. Music filled the air.

Einida smiled widely. “I feel like we are finally living in the 21st Century. No longer shall we be held back by the disagreeableness of drag and drop. You simply must show me how to link the music files on the computer to these cards.”

Viktor said, "Indeed I shall, just as soon as I refresh our energy drinks."

CHAPTER THREE -- A FEW DAYS LATER

Viktor gritted his teeth in frustration. He was in the lab, bent over a computer keyboard. He sighed, then moaned, “Why? Why? Why must RFID key cards be so expensive? Don’t the key card makers understand that they are holding back the evolution of scientific solutions by charging so much for such a simple, yet incredibly magnificent piece of plastic?”

Einda was playing with a stack of cards.

She sighed as well. She was sitting at a table with a clipboard doing inventory. “Viktor, you know the basic Law of Engineering that bedevils you on every project. You can make something cheap, fast, or good, but you can only choose two of those elements. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually find the perfect solution.”

CHAPTER FOUR -- A FEW MORE DAYS LATER STILL

Viktor was slouched on the couch in the Recreation Room, idly staring at the TV, while his mind drifted. Suddenly he gasped, sat up, leaned forward, and shouted, “Einida, you simply must see this! Einida, where are you?”

Einida ran into the room. She stopped in front of the TV and said, “Viktor, please remember to use your radio to call me. Don’t call me like you call the goats, we are scient….”

Viktor waved his hands at the TV and whispered, “Einida, look!”

She turned and saw an advertisement for a local festival. The announcer for the ad barked, “Scan this QR Code for more information!”

Einida clapped her hands like a gleeful child. “It’s perfect! A QR code. What a splendid solution. We can make stickers with QR codes on them and stick them on ANY object we can think of! What a delightful discovery…. So, what exactly is a QR code?”

Viktor stroked his goatee in triumph. “QR codes are a type of barcode that contains a small bit of information such as a URL, e-mail address, or other token. We can use them to play music files, or mp3s, by queuing up a song. Though they were invented in 1994, I’ve never found the proper project to take advantage of their capabilities until this very moment.”

CHAPTER FIVE -- A FEW DAYS LATER (YET AGAIN)

Viktor and Einida were standing at a table in the Lab. In front of them was a box of floppy discs. Einida was applying QR code stickers to the floppies. Viktor was waving the floppies in front of another box upon which was a small image of Mr. Spock (from the television series Star Trek).

Music filled the air.

Floppies><

Every time Viktor waved a floppy at the box, a different song played.

“You see, the image of Mr. Spock is the scanning point for the QR codes.” He tittered. “It’s because the name of this project is ‘Simple Player of Coded Cards,” or ‘S.P.O.C.C.”

Einida picked up a floppy and looked at it intently. “Oh, that is simply delightful. Nothing can stop this project now! Onward to the 21st Century of music file management!”

CHAPTER SIX -- A FEW DAYS LATER (ONE MORE TIME)

Viktor and Einida were slumped in chairs in front of that same table in the Lab. They looked like rag dolls without their stuffing.

“Why? Why? Why?,” Viktor whimpered.

Einida sighed. “I knew that getting rid of our vast floppy disk collection was going to come back and bite us on our fanny packs one day. But I had no idea how the price of floppies was going to skyrocket. It beggars belief that one modern floppy costs more than an ENTIRE pack of 100 floppies in the old days. Oh, and don’t get me started on the ruinous cost for floppy storage solutions. Why, it’s practically criminal what they’re char.…”

Viktor leaped to his feet. “I've got it! I've identified the problem! We are violating the KIBBUTSZ Principle.” He snapped his fingers. “That’s why this project is so troublesome.”

Einida responded, “You mean the principle to ‘Keep It Basic but Utilize Simple TechnologieZ,’ whereby projects need to be cheap, and made with easily accessible technologies, so that anyone with the desire and motivation might follow in our footsteps?”

Viktor waved his finger in the air. "Precisely! It is time for an even simpler solution. I must ponder the possibilities. To the Chamber of Reflection!” He strode through the door.

Einida yelled after him, “Oh, that needs repairing. Might I suggest you go to the Hammock of Contemplation?”

From elsewhere in the building Viktor shouted, "Have you seen that vintage issue of 'OMNI' magazine I've been reading?"

"Atop the dirty clothes hamper!"

"Thank you!"

CHAPTER SEVEN -- THE GRAND UNVEILING

The crowd of party-goers in the Recreation Room was restless. They were ready to dance, but there was no music.

Suddenly, Viktor and Einida strode into the room and over to the stereo, upon which sat the cardboard box bearing the image of Mr. Spock and a smaller box covered by a red handkerchief. Einida placed her clipboard next to the boxes.

Viktor began his speech enthusiastically, “Ladies and Gentleman, we have made the giant leap into the next stage of musical entertainment, vaulting into the future of partying with a purpose. No longer shall you be shackled by the tyranny of an egocentric DJ, drunk with power and mad with his own fancies of pathetic and undanceable music. Behold, I present to you the next wave of partying: the People’s Perfect Party!”

The party-goers drew excited breaths.

But Viktor had not finished making his speech.

“For millions of years, humans have loved tokens. Our race is clearly biologically hard-wired to respond to tactile items that we love to collect, to caress, to store, to display, and to share with our tribe.”

He waved his hands in the air like a mad evangelist. “Throughout history, tokens have been the tangible point upon which such complex systems as money, art, politics, and games have been focused. All of these systems depend upon a physical token to be traded and envied and cherished. It is the human mind that creates value in a token system. Why, the entire concept of status is built….”

Einida interrupted him and said, “The great curse of our digital age is that there are no physical tokens when it comes to computer files. And as such, there is no physical way of sharing what we have with anyone else. We can only tell you what songs we have available, or we can only show you a static list on a computer screen.”

Viktor continued, “And those methods are boring and pedantic. They don’t translate well in the brain of a human who needs to touch a token, to feel the textures, and to smell intoxicating perfumes.” He waved his hands under his nose to illustrate the point.

Then, with a great flourish, Viktor plucked the handkerchief off the smallest box on the table. Within the box was a stack of business cards.

From the back of the room a party-goer called out weakly, "Are you ever gong to feed us?," but Viktor paid no attention to the interruption.

Viktor waved a card at the audience. “This business card is a token for a song on our computer. It bears upon it some pieces of information: the name of a song, a QR code. If you like a particular song, wave the appropriate card in front of the image of Mr. Spock upon this box and the song will be added into a queue on the computer.”

Einida smiled broadly. “If it is the first card scanned, it will be the first card played. If it is the second card scanned, it will be the second song played, and so forth.”

She removed the cards from the box and placed them on top of a table that stood near the door.

Viktor announced, “You may begin this experiment. Remember that it is probably the first communal sharing of musical ideation since the age of the compact disk. My people, enjoy!”

The party-goers cheered wildly and descended upon the table like a pack of thirsty sailors at an open bar.

Viktor and Eindia strolled over to the punch bowl. Viktor poured her a glass and said, “I propose a toast. Here's to our incredible ability to bring tokens into the digital age. It is a true marvel of our current era. Chin chin!”

They clinked their glasses together and both drank the Kool-Aid.

Suddenly, a party-goer knocked the clipboard off the stereo. It landed on the floor with a loud, “thwack!”

Einida grimaced. “While I agree that this experiment has been a smashing success, how might we bring the thwack back?” She took another sip.

Viktor lowered his glass and smiled. “Patience, dear Einida. One day technology will move far enough ahead to catch up with our dreams and give us what we need. Then, and then only, will I bring the thwack back. The thwack will be waiting for us.”

THE END


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