May 19, 2012


Ginsberg's Tweet is a re: vision of Howl that I will be performing live on Twitter (no bots) on June 3, 2012, in honour of Allen Ginsberg's birthday. It will be an arrangement of voices that mirrors the text of Howl in its entirety. The show will begin at 8 pm EST on Twitter @GinsbergsTweet.


Zork N plus 9

"In the bisexual's nest is a large eiderdown encrusted with precious jingles, apparently scavenged somewhere by a childless sore." 
Zork N+9

Zork N plus 9 is an Oulipo-ly rewritten version of the classic text adventure. Utilizing Dean Merenzes' Inform7 port and , each noun is replaced with the ninth noun from the original in the dictionary.

Some basics for those who are unfamiliar:

Inform7 is a programming language that uses English in a natural way, without the oft intimidating

function {
  math-like code;

that may prove difficult (though not impossible, see Mez Breeze) to render into a poetic form. Therefore, the process wasn't as simple as pasting the entire code into the website above, catching all the "irregular" nouns. I needed to select each noun carefully, because altering the wrong noun would cause errors.

This project was more an exercise in tenacity than it was in coding.

For example, the phrase "twisty little passages" could easily become "twisty little pastels" because the Inform7 interpreter doesn't use "passage" as a command. However, changing a noun such as "man" would cause a little trouble, because defining the Cyclops as a "mandrake" instead is something Inform7 cannot handle semantically (at least that was my experience; I'm not deeply familiar with Inform7).

I could have only altered the displayed text outputted by the program, though the player would need to input the same nouns as the original Zork, which would render the displayed text irrelevant. If the White Housekeeper has a semi-open "wink" through which to enter, the player should not need to enter "open window" to do so.

What drove me to complete this piece was to discover if the (N+9) replacement method makes the adventure any more or less exciting, or if it merely serves to add absurdity. I appreciate the Oulipo methods and the reader-driven mechanisms of interactive fiction, so I mostly wanted to play with colliding worlds.

I haven't played through the work entirely, but I've been through enough to know that it may cause a type of literary vertigo, the kind you might experience in a dream if you've fallen asleep after too much caffeine. Best I can say is: Make a map.

If you cannot navigate the newly-obscure vocabulary, I encourage you to browse the source text. If nothing else, reading the Inform7 source (esp. as (N+9)) is a remarkable poetic experience.

And thanks to the generous hosting donation from Mark Sample, we are now able to play Zork N plus 9 directly from our browser: Zork N plus 9

Next up: Oulipo-ly, a board game; or Monopoly (N+7)

Just kidding.



May 7, 2012

Camel Tail: Generating Narrative in Metal

It's been 30 years, Metallica; what is the story you are trying to tell?

Camel Tail is a generative poem using every line from Metallica's 9 major studio albums, and is my attempt to find an overall narrative within Metallica's prolific work.

I was pleased to discover that often the lines become arranged in mutually relevant ways. At times, the verses share rhyme and meter, with the resultant stanzas grouped thematically, even though the songs could be written decades apart. Out of their original context, the lines become more personal, and seem to speak of hate bred through pain and loss. The scenes seem more grey without the pounding rhythm. The man behind the words becomes more contemplative, almost pitiful.

And other times it doesn't make any sense at all.

You can find it online here: Camel Tail

All words were written by Metallica (please don't sue me).
All lines are rearranged at random by your browser.
All lyrics are sic from (except for gross misspellings which I corrected here and there).

The javascript is based off Nick Montfort's generative poetry.


May 4, 2012

one [seed] - Bonsai Grass for Atari 2600

The fruit of one [seed]

From the UnderAcademy files:

one [seed]
nō joystick required

one [seed] grows one blade of grass from your Atari VCS.


Bury one [seed] about an inch deep into your Atari VCS cartridge port. Power on.

Within an hour, a single blade of grass will sprout.

Make sure to give it plenty of sunshine (colour); your blade of grass will not grow in the dark (b/w).

Water your blade of grass at least once a week (reset). Without water, your blade of grass will turn brown and die.

Within about a week, your blade of grass will be fully grown.

At any time, you may trim your blade of grass (game select) to a desirable level. The height and the reason are yours.

With proper care, attention, and focused meditation, your blade of grass will last as long as you do.

Download .bin file here: one [seed]


UnderAcademy & Press

For the past few months, I have been participating in online courses taught at UnderAcademy College. Here is their mission statement:

UnderAcademy College is an unaccredited undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate anti-degree institution (of absence). UnderAcademy College situates itself as a shadow-academic environment offering alternative courses and anti-degree programs in a variety of subjects. The primary mission of UnderAcademy College is to remain open, marginal, and unaccredited

The classes at UnderAcademy tend to experiment with digital media (I have focused mostly on digital poetics), are taught by college professors and others from around the world, and are campus and tuition free (for me the ideal situation). Without going on and on about how ^_awesome_^ this unaccredited (take that, permanent record) institution is, I will leave it to you to explore their website, as well as some of the work that I generated during the first cycle:

Ionic Mascara Precinct - A selection of works by the students of Talan Memmott's Advanced Macaronics course.

[NŌ CODE (DEPROGRAMMING 101)] - An exploration/explanation of my compiled works for Eric Snodgrass' class. Includes: generative poetry, interactive fiction, books, a board game, Atari 2600 pieces, and even more!

Student Work - Et al projects from selected classes.

I was very pleased to be able to (non)attend UnderAcademy's first cycle, graduate with a CALLIDUS PARVULUS degree in Applied Marginalization &c., and am now honoured to be their first ever (in)valedictorian, as well as invitee to speak RE: my experience at the ELO (Electronic Literature Organization) conference in June. I look forward to letting you know how that goes.

In the meantime, I am currently taking another Memmott-led course entitled: Catabolic Poesis, the blog of which may be found here: Catapo

In other news, I also had the honour of being included in a Kill Screen Magazine article RE: William S. Burroughs and cut-up, generative poetry. You can find that here: Gunning with Scissors

Finally, I have been asked to once again begin broadcasting Daily Moment Art exercises. Therefore, some time in the near future, I will be splitting this website in two, allowing one side to focus on moment art, and the other to focus on my experiments. I apologize for letting this blog take a narcissistic turn. I'll make it up to you.

For those of you disinterested in Moment Art but are following along with my digital poetry experiments, until I have a dedicated website for it, I will likely hold off posting my experiments in Sonny's Work page separately, though you can still find everything by browsing the blog posts (ugh...).

Thank you, come again!