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by Ale Ramos

Who’s Sage? No, i believe their name is Shu Tzu 書慈


Shuuuu Tzzuuuuu! i yell across the desks between us only for them to laugh at my incorrect pronunciation. 


i can never say their real name right or rather their legal name. Sage is their real name and just as fitting. 


Sssaaaaggggeee! They turn and smile.


i met Sage at grad school in Chicago. We are film cohorts, but on the first few days of class not a word was spoken between us. Instead, we would make awkward glances at each other in the hallways, catching each other with our eyes. 


Sage is from Tapei, Taiwan and i a US-born daughter of Latino immigrants. There was a language barrier and it felt like we were playing tag in the dark. Our rhythm of speech out of step with our body language, but we still chase each other in the name of curiosity.


And as all friendships designed by destiny, our equally awkward use of language and clumsy mannerisms is what brought us so close. Chicago became our playground to know each other sincerely, where we would spend hours exploring downtown and responding to each other through play and unedited communication. 


Today we are the closets of friends, grad school BFFs, and art collaborators despite our partnership's unlikely beginnings. So if you ever happen upon downtown Chicago, chances are you will find the two of us meandering through its concrete grids.  


“i will catch you!” They yell to me.

Not I’ll catch you later, but i will catch you. 


So as to convey the sincere intensity of always pursuing.


˗ˋˏ ♡ ˎˊ˗ 

The Permian Hare 
J. Charles Owens 


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It is my privilege to say that for the better part of my life, I was a good man’s burro. I was born north of town and stayed there, always on the same side of the big square fence. I worked the water pump for my straw and shade. Then one night, I left the corral with the old man. He told me later that I was given to him to settle a debt from a game of cards, and that at the time he would have rather had the money. I remember his tequila hiccups of laughter and curses from behind his gray mustache. Against the drowsy ember sky, rolling into its sleepy maroon on the hills, I could see the town veneered in soft, always settling dust. All resigned to a sort of benign and content leprosy of disrepair, cracking and long unpainted walls, roofs of gap-tooth tejas supported by termite chewed beams. Somewhere, arthritic fingers plucked through an old melody. All new sights, thoughbeit familiar smells. I bobbed my head and trod on into the untrodden frontier of my hometown, toward wherever it was we were going. I carried some of his weight, with his arm around my neck and his feet only sometimes leaving the ground the whole way home, to the stove and the old woman. We walked together, up the step and through the door, right into the middle of the house. He called to her, and she half turned under the light in the kitchen. ‘Who is that?’ She moved toward the table with two plates of dinner. ‘This is Pudge, he’s the catcher for the Texas rangers.’ He winked at me and patted me between my eyes. ‘Does he eat beans?’ ‘I’ll ask, he’s very shy.’ He leaned close and cupped a hand to my ear, whispering loud enough for her to hear. ‘Pudge, I know you had it good up in Texas, but you’ll have to do with my old lady’s beans for tonight.’ ‘Or go hungry’ She added. He lunged and patted her behind. ‘You’re an old drunk’ She said through a smile, and she reached for another plate. He walked me through the back door, only a few more steps from where we came in. Then he set down my plate of beans and tortillas and tied me to one of the two posts behind the house, with plenty of slack. ‘I think she likes you’ He whispered again, leaning back to peek at her through the window. ‘And if she still likes me too after all this, I might get lucky tonight... I’ll let you know in the morning.’ The next day he got started building a fence and a sheet metal pen. Material on hand, and clearly of prior use. It was smaller than my last one, but I was the only one there. A few times when he came home too drunk, she would yell and the old man put a blanket in the hay for the night, and there was plenty of room for the two of us. Most mornings he would have his coffee by the fence, and bring my breakfast. He would tell me stories about America, about his life with the old woman, and how he had loved her since before he was grown. She was a year ahead of him when they were in school at Parroquia de Santa Monica. He was best friends with her little brother, and she always rolled her eyes when he said he would marry her someday. He told me how she was pregnant the second time he crossed the Rio Grande, but the baby never came. He came home for good two years later and built them a house. Soon after, he made good on a honeymoon promise and built her an oven. They made good money baking old family recipes. Mostly pan de azúcar, but they could do it all. They did it their way, and were known for it. One day, the old man told me we were heading up the hill to get more wood for the oven. After my breakfast and his coffee, we headed for the narrow and well-beaten trail behind the hacienda, toward the base of those gentle hills. Juniper and bay cedars brushed my flanks, firecracker bush caught our eyes wherever it lay. The sun crested in the east and promised heat in the next half hour or so. We meandered on through the ruts and tapering paths that lead to the spot we always went for wood, and the heat came down heavier by the minute. He used to tell me jokes. ‘Hey Pudge, you remember Jaimito? Well one time, it was summer, and it was hotter than the devil’s doghouse. Kinda like today, eh Pudge? Anyway, Jaimito was out on the porch with his auntie, and they didn’t have any shade. So she has enough, and gives him a handful of money to go buy them a big umbrella. He gets to the store and says ‘Chino, can you get me a big umbrella?’ Chino goes to the back and comes out with a nice big red umbrella. Chino says, ‘Picking up an umbrella for this summer sun, eh Jaimito?’ Jaimito looks at him, then looks at the umbrella, then looks back and says, ‘No Chino, it’s for my Auntie.’ ‘We could use a big stinking umbrella today… Jaimito’s auntie was lucky.’ The heat was particularly callous on the hill that day. The old man bent to the deadwood with his machete and tied the bundles between his warped, steel-strong fingers, tightening them further with his teeth. He muttered something that sounded like a curse and wiped the broad beads of sweat from the wrinkled copper of his sun beaten forehead. ‘Would it kill you to take a turn with the machete? Nothing to say for yourself, eh? Always the same with you Pudge, you drag-ass, you lousy devil. Let’s find some shade and get these later.’ He sat down, all creaks and groans, and pulled a bright orange from his shoulder bag and dug his thumb into the peel. ‘Jaimito’s lucky auntie just reminded me of a lucky jackrabbit I saw one time back in Texas. You heard this story already Pudge?’ He gave me half the orange. ‘Well I’ll tell you anyway. I was working on a seismic crew way out west. Close there to New Mexico, you know where I mean. Close there to Pecos. We were out in the oil fields, shaking with the big trucks they use out there. Big ugly machines these trucks Pudge, monsters like you never seen. They got tires big as my house, then they got a fifteen foot by fifteen foot hydraulic press right in the middle that pushes down all 40,000 kilos in one place, and then shakes the dog piss out of that dirt, looking for more oil. Vibroseis trucks they’re called. So anyway I’m out there in my truck, AC on, cold coke in my hand… I know Pudge, I know, it’s killing me too. I’m watching this set of two vibroseis, and they’re about to pad down. I’m supposed to be watching, making sure nothing goes sideways. I look up, the pad is coming down, and under the front truck’s pad I see a pair of long ears sitting on top of one dumb son of a bitch jackrabbit. He’s got plenty of time to move, cause these pads take maybe half a minute to get all the way down, and I keep thinking this guy is gonna make a move any second, but he’s sitting there like a freckle on a hog’s ass, can’t be bothered. He was looking straight at me and never even flinched. And this thing is so big, so loud, he’s gotta be confused as a bumble bee in a carburetor. But somehow that just glued him down. I don’t know. The pad keeps coming, keeps getting closer, and I’m just as stuck as this poor guy, I can’t look away. Pretty soon I can’t see him anymore, and they start the sweep. Now, this job they had them doing two one-minute sweeps, so that’s one minute of a desmadre shake, pad comes up, then right back down for another minute. That whole minute goes by, and I’m watching every second. When I see the pad come up, what do I see? That same pair of ears pops back up. And out comes Mr. Jackrabbit, right before they start the second sweep. He just shakes his head, looks both ways, hops a couple times, rubs his ear, hops a couple more times, and then when the pad starts up again, he gets out of there. Turns out there was a perfect, dumblucky, rabbit-sized rock right next to him. God must have put it right there, for right then.’ He snapped his fingers, and laid back into the shade. ‘It should have crushed that rock, and Mr. Jackrabbit right next to it too. But it didn’t. And there he goes, never knowing. Sometimes I wonder if I ever got that lucky, and somehow never knew. Probably not, eh Pudge? But, maybe.’ He let out a longwinded sigh, and stretched his hands high, toward the same God that saved the jackrabbit. He went back to the bundles, put two on my back, then one over his own. We started back down the trail to the old woman, and her oven.

Musings on Techno-Mysticism: Deviled Heroines, Queer Replicants and Anonymous Post-Metal Showmen
By Dalila Sanabria
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Sources: -------------------------------------- 1. has Baldur's Gate 3 Sep 4, 2023 @ 9:08pm  2. Text from Nier Automata, released in 2017, as a sequel to Nier Replicant (originally released in 2010 for the PS3 and Xbox 360 and then remastered in 2020 as Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139).  Directed by Yoko Taro and published by Square Enix. 3. 4.  5. 6.

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An Automated Heart 


I walk down a sunny, beaten path of gravel and warm terrain. There are shrubs and bunches of green foliage around me, as I kick off purple, slimy muck and blood from the nautiloid crash. My hands are red, not from blood, although I mustered a few scratches, but from my skin color. An amber red native to Tieflings, the race descended from hell, as we’re told. The horns on my head curl at their ends, less like a bull’s and more like a ram’s, with subtle ringed ridges spiraling toward the tip. A long, scaly tail runs down the spine of my back, helping me keep my balance, as familiar to me as my two standing legs. My eyes are another familiar auburn, with white around their irises, like a human’s. Not many of my kin can say the same, as tieflings often have flaming red pupils framed by pitch-black sclera.  


Devils, everyone likes to call us. 


Unfortunately for me, the most infernal thing about my body was what happened to it. This massive heated mechanical engine was artificially implanted inside my chest, against my will, replacing my heart with steel, infernal machinery. It doesn’t beat with the predictable, timely intervals like my former organ used to. No, it’s a loud, cranking, thrumming thing. A ticking time bomb, an expiration date looming over my otherwise bulky, muscled body, with impending terminal finality. The clinging and clanging of gears sputter and grind together, accelerating in hundreds of miles of horsepower with every rise in feeling, every wave of sadness or anger that hits me, or worse yet, every bout of excitement. 


I bounce on my heels, and I smile at the sunlight streaming through a patch of trees. I feel my engine rev a little louder as dopamine floods my brain, but I don’t care, the sky is clear the air is clean, and it’s so much better than that blasted ship I was on. 


I think I’m close to freedom.


Explain to me why people like Karlach?


An annoying upbeat Zoomer who looks like a demon. She is the worst, her background and story makes zero sense, she does not vibe with the game's tone, and she talks like an Instagram Influencer.


Why do people like her?

Jeremy has Baldur's Gate 3 Sep 4, 2023 @ 9:10pm  

She's a muscle mommy, that's it. Don't know what's wrong with her background but yeah. Better question, why do you hate a video game character enough to post about it? Not like you're forced to party with her


During the late 1960s, there was a women’s rights group named the Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH). Their strategy was to use flamboyant and witty witch-themed political stunts as a means to confront patriarchal systemic structure. “WITCH declared that any woman could become a witch by declaring herself to be one, and that moreover any group of women could form a witches' coven. In one of their leaflets, it is stated that:

If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a Witch. You make your own rules. You are free and beautiful. You can be invisible or evident in how you choose to make your witch-self known. You can form your own Coven of sister Witches (thirteen is a cozy number for a group) and do your own actions... You are a Witch by saying aloud, "I am a Witch" three times, and thinking about that. You are a Witch by being female, untamed, angry, joyous, and immortal.”


^ ^ ^ Taken from the ‘Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell’ Wikipedia page on June 15th, 2024, 3:59 PM.,declined%20sharply%20the%20next%20day.


Playing as Karlach gets you less content? [Spoilers]

#89316106/09/23 11:42 PM




Joined: Sep 2023

On my first playthrough I made a badass woman barbarian, so I didn’t get to have Karlach in my party as much. So next I decided to play AS our awesome tiefling barbarian (avatar Karlach] to get the full experience.


But… it seems her questline and story moments are cut even shorter if you play as her? (which seems absurd…)



9 mo. ago




What party members do you have and why?

Origin Characters


9mo ago

Karlach, Lae'zel and Shadoheart because my gnome Mc'Lovin needed a harem


10 mo. ago



Karlach is the neurodivergent story.

Act 3 - Spoilers

Probably gonna be controversial, but I feel Karlach’s story fits perfectly with many of those struggling with neurodivergence. She is forced into living and serving in the hells. Her literal heart is altered. When she finally escapes, it turns out to be false hope. The world will not let her live without the hell. she is forced to return or die.


Growing up with adhd dyslexia was a hell like torment. I was forced to live in a society’s which abused me every day for being different. Don’t sit that way, stay still, and focus don’t wonder lust. It felt like having my heart torn out and replaced by a machine. When I finally escaped and unmask (meaning to unlearn the forced social constructs), your left burning away. Suicidal rates are significantly higher in those with divergent minds. Our choice feel almost identical to hers, fit into a hellish life style or slowly burn away being your real self.


Queer Bodies and Replicated Consciousness

In another universe, on another plane, where medieval-ities meet android-futures, Kainé is a replicant. She accompanies her new friends, the heroic protagonist Nier, an enchanted floating textbook named Weiss, and the small, skeletal Emil, on an unfolding adventure. 

The core of a machine lifeform\ncontaining a copious amount of data. \nCan be exchanged for money.

The cores of children from\nvillage. It is clear they were cherished \nby the villagers.\nCan be exchanged for money.

A book on life and death. It was\nlying outside of house,\nin a thoroughly used state.\nCan be exchanged for money.

+8 storage

+8 storage

+8 storage

+8 storage

+16 storage

+16 storage

+24 storage

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 8.

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 8.

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 8.

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 8.

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 16.

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 16.

Increases plug-in\nchip capacity by 24.

All Items

Restorative Items

Enhancement Items

Support Items


“Weiss, you dumbass! Start making sense, you rotten book, or you're gonna be sorry! Maybe I'll rip your pages out, one-by-one! Or maybe I'll put you in the goddamn furnace! How can someone with such a big, smart brain get hypnotized like a little bitch? Huh? Oh, Shadowlord! I love you, Shadowlord! Come over here and give Weiss a big sloppy kiss, Shadowlord! Now pull your head out of your goddamn ass and START FUCKING HELPING US!”

Kainé was anything but subtle. 


A package that was kept in the\nResistance's materials storeroom.\nThe contents are unknown.

Created by humans, this broken toy\nno longer works.

A book humans used for recording\nfamily finances.

A small shoe thought to have been\nworn by a human girl.

A cable with three colored connectors.\nUsed for creating games.

A cable with four colored connectors.\nUsed for creating games.

A cable with five colored connectors.\nUsed for creating games.

A tool humans used to brush their teeth.\nReduces the probability of cavities.

A cosmetic item humans would rub on\ntheir lips to make themselves beautiful.

Used by humans to reduce fat levels\ncaused by consuming more energy\nthan necessary.

A tool for recording information.\nRecords indicate these were believed\nto be mightier than swords.

A book of pharmaceuticals for living\norganisms that already existed in the\nPod's database.

Part of a machine lifeform. May have\nsomething to do with the treasure\nof the forest.

A stamp from the amusement park.

A card used for collecting stamps at\nthe amusement park.

A stick of unknown purpose.

A slab with the laws of an ancient\ncountry written upon it. Many of\nthem don't make any sense.

A weighty stone mask. It's as dirty as\nit is heavy.

A statue in the shape of a young girl.

Materials necessary for building toys.

Necessary for restoring a machine\nlifeform's memory banks.

A plug-in chip containing classified\ninformation.

Taken from a plant with tough bark.\nNecessary for creating a fuel filter.

Grants the bearer access to the\ngambling arena.

A lost bag belonging to\nthe Resistance.

A key that unlocks an elevator in\nthe shopping mall.

A book of philosophy that Anemone\ngave you. Its title means "thoughts"\nin an ancient language.

A filter used by androids to refine\nfuel.

High-viscosity oil used by machine\nlifeforms.

This can be traded for a single\nitem at a shop.

A pouch that emits a scent animals\nlove. Prevents them from running\nwhen approached.

A pouch that emits a scent animals\nlove. Lets you ride them anytime\nyou want.

A pouch that emits a scent animals\nlove. Causes them to approach and\nwait for you.


Kainé’s body is scantily clad and halfway wrapped in bandages, hiding her cursed limbs, disfigured from when a shade possessed her. Emil was experimented on as a child, forced with magical powers that transformed his body into a floating, bulbous skeletal figure. Both were outcasts as children and shaped into weapons. 


As a player, Kainé’s intersex body and Emil’s gay identity are side character details, revealed slowly and indirectly, with the original 2010 Japense-to-English translation censoring these subtleties almost entirely. 

Obtaining Mysticism: Secrecy, Shame and Sleep


Finally, fast forward, or interdimensional time jump, whatever narrative/meta powers it takes to transcend two fictional, video game universes into present-day London. There’s a stage, a large auditorium, flashing lights, masked performers and a crowd of cheering, rabid fans. 


I dream in phosphorescence


Bleed through spaces


See you drifting past the fog


But no one told you where to go


Sleep Token is post-metal, or progressive metal, or punk-Rnb-alternative-heavy-metal, or however you want to label them; they’re a band, and their sound is a hybridity of noises. Guttural screaming, smooth trilling, sobbing, drumming, strumming, beating, playing. 


We dive through crystal waters


Perfect oceans


An act of anonymity, if we can even call it an act, is supported by comprehensive lore. Interviews have been sparse, real identities obscured, and as the lead singer Vessel revealed with their debut, their purpose as a musical group function as mortal representatives of an ancient deity known as Sleep.


But no one told me not to breathe


And now the weightlessness recedes


To serve Sleep, rather than Allah, or Jesus, or Buddha, or Zeus, or Krishna. What if we served Fear? Courage? Temperance? Gluttony? Love? Sleep asks for rest and respite. 


In an Offering on Youtube, the drummer II’s speaking voice sounded like it was run through a computerized cheese grater. Distorted price of anonymity. 


My, my, those eyes like fire


I'm a winged insect, you're a funeral pyre


Britney Broski called Vessel the metal Hozier. 

I think I agree. 


Come now, bite through these wires


I'm in waking hell and the gods grow tired


Performances that border on alternative church service. In an interview between musician Nick Cave and Krista Tippet on her On Being podcast, Nick Cave discusses his fascination with the ritual of religious communion. As he put it:


 “’s asking something of us rather than, yeah, we’re all spiritual creatures, which of course we are. I’m more traditional too, in the sense that I find an acute feeling of the mystery of these matters in church…It’s a place that you go to that it’s so beautiful. The singing is so beautiful. The music, the organ player’s off the charts, this character, in regard to just the pure drama of the narrative that plays out in the church service. It blows away my basic skeptical nature in a heartbeat. It allows me the permission to be deeply connected to those people that I’ve lost. That’s what it’s about, essentially.”


Reset my patient violence along both lines of a pathway higher


Grow back your sharpest teeth, you know my desire


I will travel far beyond the path of reason


Take me back to Eden


 A longing for security, for return, and reassurance. Desire and reverence, lover and God. At the end of the day, don’t we all just want to be loved fully, wholly, completely? 

An afterword…


Y’know, growing up, I used to spend more time outside. You learn pretty quickly never to walk barefoot through Floridian grass. There are fire ants, black ants, and all sorts of prickly, thorny weeds that like to stick to your pant sleeves. One of these weeds is called a sand spur. They’re spiky little balls, with thorns all over, like a medieval kind of mace. They cluster in multitudes, and you end up with dozens of thorns wedged into your sole. 


I’m afraid that time will continue to pass by and I’ll always feel pinched. 


Karlach’s sunniness


Kainé’s honesty


Emil’s tenderness


Vessel and II’s devotion

sacrificial characters, devils, and shadowed performers. 

an eventual posthuman world. 


Magic is not so different than Machine. 







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