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Showing posts by: Cory Doctorow click to see Cory Doctorow's profile
Dec 16 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 71 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

She met Sammy in their favorite tea-room, the one perched up on a crow’s nest four storeys up a corkscrew building whose supplies came up on a series of dumbwaiters and winches that shrouded its balconies like vines.

She staked out the best table, the one with the panoramic view of the whole shantytown, and ordered a plate of the tiny shortbread cakes that were the house specialty, along with a gigantic mug of nonfat decaf cappuccino.

Sammy came up the steps red-faced and sweaty, wearing a Hawai’ian shirt and Bermuda shorts, like some kind of tourist. Or like he was on holidays? Behind him came a younger man, with severe little designer glasses, dressed in the conventional polo-shirt and slacks uniform of the corporate exec on a non-suit day.

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Dec 14 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 70 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne was getting sick of breakfast in bed. It was hard to imagine that such a thing was possible, but there it was. Lester stole out from between the covers before 7AM every day, and then, half an hour later, he was back with a laden tray, something new every day. She’d had steaks, burritos, waffles, home-made granola, fruit-salad with Greek yogurt, and today there were eggs Benedict with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. The tray always came with a French press of fresh-ground Kona coffee, a cloth napkin, and her computer, so she could read the news.

In theory, this was a warm ritual that ensured that they had quality time together every day, no matter what. In practice, Lester was so anxious about the food and whether she was enjoying it that she couldn’t really enjoy it. Plus, she wasn’t a fatkins, so three thousand calorie breakfasts weren’t good for her.

[More below the fold ...]

Dec 11 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 69 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy got his rematch with Hackelberg when the quarterly financials came out. It was all that black ink, making him giddy.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful,” he said, knowing that in Hackelberg’s books, there could be nothing more disrespectful than challenging him. “But we need to confront some business realities here.”

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Dec 9 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 68 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Herve Guignol chaired the executive committee. Sammy had known him for years. They’d come east together from San Jose, where Guignol had run the entertainment side of eBay. They’d been recruited by Disney Parks at the same time, during the hostile takeover and breakup, and they’d had their share of nights out, golf games, and stupid movies together.

But when Guignol was wearing his chairman’s hat, it was like he was a different person. The boardroom was filled with huge, ergonomic chairs, the center of the table lined with bottles of imported water and trays of fanciful canapes in the shapes of Disney characters. Sammy sat to Guignol’s left and Hackelberg sat to his right.

[More below the fold ...]

Dec 7 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 67 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Kettlewell had been almost pathetic in his interest in helping Lester out. Lester got the impression that he’d been sitting around his apartment, moping, ever since Eva had taken the kids and gone. As Lester unspooled the story for him—Suzanne wouldn’t tell him how she’d found this out, and he knew better than to ask—Kettlewell grew more and more excited. By the time Lester was through, he was practically slobbering into the phone.

[More below the fold ...]

Dec 4 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 66 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Taking a guest around Disney World was like programming a playlist for a date or a car-trip. Sammy had done it three or four times for people he was trying to win over (mostly women he was trying to screw) and he refined his technique every time.

So he took her to the Carousel of Progress. It was the oldest untouched ride in the park, a replica of the one that Walt himself had built for GE at the 1964 World’s Fair. There had been attempts to update it over the years, but they’d all been ripped out and the show restored to its mid-sixties glory.

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Dec 2 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 65 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

The barman at Suzanne’s hotel started building her a Lapu-Lapu as she came up the stairs. The drink involved a hollow pineapple, overproof rum, and an umbrella, and she’d concluded that it contained the perfect dosage of liquid CNS depressant to unwind her after a day of battle at the parks. That day she’d spent following around the troupes of role-playing actors at Disney’s Hollwood Studios: a cast of a hundred costumed players who acted out a series of interlocking comedies set in the black-and-white days of Hollywood. They were fearlessly cheeky, grabbing audience members and conscripting them in their plays.

Now she was footsore and there was still a nighttime at Epcot in her future. The barman passed her the pineapple and she thumped her lanyard against the bar twice—once to pay for the drink and once to give him a generous tip. He was gay as a goose, but fun to look at, and he flirted with her for kicks.

[“Gentleman caller for you, Suzanne,” he said, tilting his head. “You temptress.”]

Nov 30 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 64 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

What the World Can Learn from Disney

Suzanne Church

It’s easy to dismiss Disney. They make more lawsuits than rides these days. They have a reputation for Polyannaish chirpiness. Their corporate communications veer from Corporate Passive Voice Third Person to a syrupy, condescending kiddee-speak that’s calculated to drive children into a frenzy of parent-nagging screeches.

But if you haven’t been to a Disney Park in a while, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve been in Walt Disney World for a week now, and I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty good. No, it’s better than that—it’s amazing.

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Nov 27 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 63 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

The last thing Sammy wanted was a fight. Dinah’s promo was making major bank for the company—and he was taking more and more meetings in Texas with Dinah, which was a hell of a perk. They’d shipped two million of the DiaBs, and were projecting ten million in the first quarter. Park admission was soaring and the revenue from the advertising was going to cover the entire cost of the next rev of the DiaBs, which would be better, faster, smaller and cheaper.

That business with Death Waits and the new Fantasyland and the ride—what did it matter now? He’d been so focused on the details that he’d lost track of the big picture. Walt Disney had made his empire by figuring out how to do the next thing, not wasting his energy on how to protect the last thing. It had all been a mistake, a dumb mistake, and now he was back on track. From all appearances, the lawsuits were on the verge of blowing away, anyway. Fantasyland—he’d turned that over to Wiener, of all people, and he was actually doing some good stuff there. Really running with the idea of restoring it as a nostalgia site aimed squarely at fatkins, with lots of food and romantic kiddie rides that no kid would want to ride in the age of the break-neck coaster.

The last thing he wanted was a fight. What he wanted was to make assloads of money for the company, remake himself as a power in the organization.

[But he was about to have a fight.]

Nov 25 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 62 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Something had changed between Kettlewell and Eva since they’d left Florida with the kids. It wasn’t just the legal hassles, though there were plenty of those. They’d gone to Florida with a second chance—a chance for him to be a mover again, a chance for her to have a husband who was happy with his life again.

Now he found himself sneaking past her when she was in the living room and they slept back to back in bed with as much room between them as possible.

Ada missed Lyenitchka and spent all her time in her bedroom IMing her friend or going questing with her in their favorite game, which involved Barbies, balrogs, and buying outfits. Pascal missed all the attention he had received as the designated mascot of the two little girls.

[It was not a high point in the history of the Kettlewell clan.]

Nov 23 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 61 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne rode the bullet-train from Miami airport in air-conditioned amusement, watching the Mickey-shaped hang-straps rock back and forth. She’d bought herself a Mickey waffle and a bucket-sized Diet Coke in the dining car and fended off the offers of plush animatronic toys that were clearly descended from Boogie-Woogie Elmo.

Now she watched the kids tear ass up and down the train, or sit mesmerized by the videos and interactives set up at the ends of the cars. The train was really slick, and judging from the brochure she found in the seat-pocket, there was another one from the Orlando airport. These things were like chutes leading from the luggage carousel straight into the parks. Disney had figured out how to make sure that every penny spent by its tourists went straight into its coffers.

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Nov 20 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 60 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

The smell at the Wal-Mart was overpowering. It was one part sharp mold, one part industrial disinfectant, a citrus smell that made your eyes water and your sinuses burn.

“I’ve rented some big blowers,” Perry said. “They’ll help air the place out. If that doesn’t work, I might have to resurface the floor, which would be rough—it could take a week to get that done properly.”

“A week?” Death said. Jesus. No way. Not another week. He didn’t know it for sure, but he had a feeling that a lot of these people would stop showing up eventually if there was no ride for them to geek out over. He sure would.

[“You smell that? We can’t close the doors and the windows and leave it like this.”]

Nov 18 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 59 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Death Waits waited, and waited and waited for the ride to come back online. He split his days between hanging out at home, writing about the story, running the fly-throughs from the other rides, watching what was happening in Brazil, answering his fan-mail; the rest of the time he spent with his new friends down at the site of the ride, encouraging them to pitch in and help Perry and Lester to get the thing back up and running. Fast, please. It was driving him bonkers not to be able to ride any longer. After everything he’d been through, he deserved a ride.

His friends were wonderful. Wonderful! Lacey especially. She was a nurse and a goddess of mercy. The money that flooded into his paypals whenever his friends let it be known that he needed more, covered all his expenses. He never wanted for companionship, conversation, helpmeets, or respect. It was a wonderful life.

[If only the ride would come online.]

Nov 16 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 58 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Lester hadn’t left Suzanne’s apartment in days. She’d rented a place in the shantytown—bemused at the idea of paying rent to a squatter, but pleased to have a place of her own now that Lester and Perry’s apartment had become so tense.

Technically, he was working on the Disney printers, which she found interesting in an abstract way. They had a working one and a couple of disassembled ones, and watching the working one do its thing was fascinating for a day or two, but then it was just a 3D TV with one channel, broadcasting one frame per day.

She dutifully wrote about it, though, and about Perry’s ongoing efforts to re-open the ride. She got the sense from him that he was heading for flat-ass broke. Lester and he had always been casual about money, but buying all new robots, more printers, replacement windows, fixing the roof—none of it was cheap. And with the market in pieces, he wasn’t getting any rent.

She looked over Lester’s shoulder for the fiftieth time. “How’s it going?”

“Don’t write about this, OK?”

[He’d never said that to her.]

Nov 13 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 57 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy loved his morning meetings. They all came to his office, all the different park execs, creatives, and emissaries from the old partner companies that had spun off to make movies and merch and educational materials. They all came each day to talk to him about the next day’s Disney-in-a-Box build. They all came to beg him to think about adding in something from their franchises and cantons to the next installment.

There were over a million DiaBs in the field now, and they weren’t even trying to keep up with orders anymore. Sammy loved looking at the online auction sites to see what the boxes were going for—he knew that some of his people had siphoned off a carload or two of the things to e-tail out the back door. He loved that. Nothing was a better barometer of your success than having made something other people cared enough about to steal.

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Nov 11 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 56 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Perry got his Disney-in-a-Box through a circuitous route, getting one of the hawkers’ brothers to order it to a PO box in Miami, to which Perry would drive down to pick it up and take it back.

Lester roused himself from the apartment when Perry told him it had arrived. Lester and Suzanne had been AWOL for days, sleeping in until Perry left, coming back after Perry came back, until it felt like they were just travelers staying in the same hotel.

He hadn’t heard a peep from Kettlewell or Tjan, either. He guessed that they were off figuring things out with their money people. The network of ride operators had taken the news with equanimity—Hilda had helped him write the message so that it kind of implied that everything was under control and moving along nicely.

But when Perry emailed Lester to say he was going to drive down to the PO box the next morning before opening the ride, Lester emailed back in minutes volunteering to come with him.

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Nov 9 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 55 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Lester wouldn’t work the ride anymore, so Perry took it on his own. Hilda was in town buying groceries—his chest-freezer of gourmet surplus food had blown its compressor and the contents had spoiled in a mess of venison and sour blueberry sauce and duck pancakes—and he stood alone. Normally he loved this, being the carnival barker at the middle of the three-ring circus of fans, tourists and hawkers, but today his cast itched, he hadn’t slept enough, and there were lawyers chasing him. Lots of lawyers.

A caravan of cars pulled into the lot like a Tim Burton version of a funeral, a long train of funnycar hearses with jacked-up rear wheels and leaning chimney-pots, gargoyles and black bunting with super-bright black-light LEDs giving them a commercially eldritch glow. Mixed in were some straight cars, and they came and came and came, car on car. The hawkers got out more stuff, spread it out further, and waited while the caravan maneuvered itself into parking spots, spilling out into the street.

Riders got out of the cars, mostly super-skinny goths—a line of special low-calorie vegan versions of Victorian organ-meat delicacies had turned a mom-and-pop cafe in Portland, Oregon, into a Fortune 500 company a few years before—in elaborate DIY costumery. It shimmered darkly, petticoats and toppers, bodices and big stompy boots and trousers cut off in ribbons at the knees.

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Nov 6 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 54 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

He wasn’t ready to leave the hospital. For starters, he couldn’t walk yet, and there were still times when he could barely remember where he was, and there was the problem of the catheter. But the insurance company and the hospital had concurred that he’d had all the treatment he needed—even if his doctor hadn’t been able to look him in the eye when this was explained—and it was time for him to go home. Go away. Go anywhere.

He’d put it all in his LJ, the conversation as best as he could remember it, the way it made him feel. The conversation he’d had with Perry and the idea he’d had for pwning Disney-in-a-Box. He didn’t even know if his apartment was still there—he hadn’t been back in weeks and the rent was overdue.

And the comments came flooding in. First a couple dozen from his friends, then hundreds, then thousands. Raging fights—some people accused him of being a fakester sock-puppet aimed at gathering sympathy or donations (!)—side-conversations, philosophical arguments.

[More below the fold ...]

Nov 4 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 53 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy was at his desk looking over the production prototype for the Disney-in-a-Box (R) units that Imagineering had dropped off that morning when his phone rang. Not his desk phone—his cellular phone, with the call-return number blocked.

“Hello?” he said. Not many people had this number—he didn’t like getting interrupted by the phone. People who needed to talk to him could talk to his secretary first.

“Hi, Sammy. Have I caught you at a bad time?” He could hear the sneer in the voice and then he could see the face that went with the sneer: Freddy. Shit. He’d given the reporter his number back when they were arranging their disastrous face-to-face.

“It’s not a good time, Freddy,” he said. “If you call my secretary—”

[“I just need a moment of your time, sir. For a quote. For a story about the ride response to your printers—your Disney-in-a-Box Circle-R, Tee-Em, Circle-C.”]

Nov 2 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 52 (of 81)


Illustration by Idiots’Books

Hilda eyed Perry curiously. “That sounded like an interesting conversation,” she said. She was wearing a long t-shirt of his that didn’t really cover much, and she looked delicious in it. It was all he could do to keep from grabbing her and tossing her on the bed—of course, the cast meant that he couldn’t really do that. And Hilda wasn’t exactly smiling, either.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up,” he said.

“It wasn’t the talking that did it, it was you not being there in the first place. Gave me the toss-and-turns.”

She came over to him then, the lean muscles in her legs flexing as she crossed the living room. She took his laptop away and set it down on the coffee-table, then took off his headset. He was wearing nothing but boxers, and she reached down and gave his dick a companionable honk before sitting down next to him and giving him a kiss on the cheek, the throat and the lips.

“So, Perry,” she said, looking into his eyes. “What the fuck are you doing sitting in the living room at 5 am talking to your computer? And why didn’t you come to bed last night? I’m not going to be hanging out in Florida for the rest of my life. I woulda thought you’d want to maximize your Hilda-time while you’ve got the chance.”

She smiled to let him know she was kidding around, but she was right, of course.

[“I’m an idiot, Hilda. I fired Tjan and Kettlewell, told them to get lost.”]