Monthly ArchiveJune 2011

Events 17 Jun 2011 02:43 am

MOD in Calgary this weekend!

We’ll be in Calgary this weekend at the Calgary Comics & Entertainment Expo! In attendance will be no less than:

Editors Ryan North & David Malki !
Artists Kate Beaton, Danielle Corsetto, Christopher Hastings, Cameron Stewart, & Kris Straub

On Sunday afternoon at 2 PM we’ll be playing a lively game of Machine of Death Draw & Guess with Kate, Chris, Kris & special guest Smilin’ Dave Kellett!

For some reason I want to assume the voice of the classic-car expo announcer from radio commercials and say “Bring the whole faaaamily for a greeeaat day!” I guess the reason is because…it’s true?

Come bring your books by to be signed, or join in the fun at the Draw & Guess! We can’t wait to meet you!

Fan art 15 Jun 2011 05:08 am

More Machine of Death Monologues

Two more terrific Machine of Death Monologues are now up, done by Orpheos!

Episode 5 – Together: A man seeks out the woman he wants to spend his last moments with.

Episode 6 – Labels: A young woman tells the story of her treatment after her manner of death is revealed to be an as yet undiscovered illness that looks set to plague mankind in the future.


Reader Mail 14 Jun 2011 03:10 am

A Group Effort

This is a letter that came in that’s actually three separate requests for death prediction cards. It’s got three separate letters’ worth of awesomeness packed into one!

The envelope itself is cool, with stuff printed inside where most envelope manufacturers assume no one is going to bother looking.

Then there’s the card that I presume, the envelope came with.

To Whom It May Concern –

My two coworkers and myself would each like readings from the Machine of Death. If this is too much to ask, then please at least send David his reading, as he is the biggest fan of the three of us. Thank you for your time.


Bradford Neal

One note here: A lot of people who write in for death predictions seem concerned that we might run out of cards, or be otherwise overwhelmed and unable to respond to everyone. Rest assured that this isn’t the case! We have plenty of cards for everyone, and it doesn’t look like we’ll run out any time soon. Maybe people are just being polite. I understand that you don’t want to seem greedy or project an air of entitlement. But if you are genuinely concerned that we won’t have enough cards for you, don’t worry about it! If you’ve been wanting to request a card, but have held back because you don’t want us to run out, go ahead and ask for one!

For each of the three self-addressed, stamped envelopes included here, there was a small trinket.

With the envelope addressed to David, who was mentioned in the letter as the one person we should be sure to send a reading to, there came a dollar bill that had been intricately folded into the shape you see here.

The second envelope, addressed to Teena, came with a sticker for a restaurant that will sell you a cheeseburger if you ask them to.

The envelope for Bradford, who wrote the card, included some temporary tattoos. They are so action-packed that the figures depicted are actually leaping out of their backgrounds!

Thanks to all involved in sending us these contributions!

Talent Show 12 Jun 2011 06:01 pm

Talent Show Performance: Zachary Bernstein

It’s been a few weeks now since the Machine of Death Half-Birthday Party and Talent Show, the date we announced that there would be a Volume 2 at all. That fact — that this book will be coming out, hell or high water — seems incontrovertible now, but it’s interesting to think back to a day not so long ago when it was still only a notion, a subject of debate for Ryan, Matt and me: “Is this a good idea?”

We’re still a month away from the submission deadline, but I feel confident in saying: yes. Yes, it is a good idea to encourage people to create, to participate in something, to try something and to complete something. If we have no greater ethos than simply that, that’s fine.

I can’t speak for Ryan or Matt, but in the last eight months I’ve realized that the thing I want to do more than any other is to encourage people to get off their butt and try things. Our enemy, as creative people, is not ignorance. We know how to do things — we’re experts! It’s inactivity.

So as far as that’s concerned, the Talent Show was an incredible validation. People made stuff. People came. People performed. And everyone seemed to enjoy it! We packed the house, and I know I personally left with an incredible buzz of energy. It was amazing to see a bunch of half-cocked ideas come together, be made manifest, and work. So: thank you. Thanks for watching, being a part of it, or even just reading about it now. And if you missed it the first time around, I’d like to share a little of the night with you here.

Zachary Bernstein performs music as The Bicycats. Originally from New York, he now lives in Los Angeles, and joined us at the talent show to play his original song “When We Found Out On Our Own.” Here’s what Zachary has to say about the song.

I only heard about the Machine of Death talent show and the whole book enterprise a few days before the extended submission deadline. Between my mother being in town, and going to work, I didn’t actually get to focus on writing an MOD-related song until the day of the deadline, but my friend Jim, who eventually sang the song with me, encouraged me to give it a try.

I’m fond of older songs where the song titles are the refrain ending each stanza, the ones that serve as a jumping point for material. A song like “I Only Have Eyes For You” spends the entire song listing things the singer can’t see; the stars, the moon, millions of people. That’s because the singer only has the ability to see this one particular person. Dangerous for driving, but romantic as hell. “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” repeats different ways in which the singer is impervious to cold weather because s/he is deep in love. The love keeps the singer warm. And so on.

I came up with the MOD-related refrain “When We Found Out On Our Own,” which could be sung from the point of view of a cranky, technophobic old man. Personally, I can relate. It took me a long time before I got a cell phone, and I still don’t have or want an iPod. I used that same ire to lay down some lyrical ideas.

With my refrain, I tried different ways that particular lyric could be sung, chose my favorite, and made a list of all the words that rhyme with “own,” choosing the meatier words that fit into the context of the Machine of Death. “Unknown” and “outgrown” were good ones. “Home” was a tiny stretch I made work, and as a curveball at the end I rhymed “own” with “easy”. Ha! Bet you didn’t see that one coming, didja!

From those words, I worked backwards and wrote lines that promoted nostalgia for a bygone, pre-MOD era which ended with the words “unknown” and “outgrown”. After an hour or two, I had a new song with lyrics and music (6/8 time; some key changes; grand, soaring notes Dusty Springfield might’ve spilled her heart out over). Because I didn’t have much time, I tweaked the lyrics to my liking after submitting a recording to the talent show. My favorite line, “we need to move on from the way we move on,” was originally in the middle, but because it was a clever way to sum up the basic idea of the song’s narrative, I moved it to the end.

Thanks so much, Zachary! For more of Zachary’s music, visit his Bandcamp page,

Fan art 10 Jun 2011 07:40 am

Machine of Death Monologues Now Up!

A while back, I mentioned how Orpheos Productions was doing some really cool: Machine of Death Monologues! There was just a trailer up then, but the first four (FOUR) videos are now up, and they’re really great. Are you looking for 40 minutes of entertainment right now? YOU CAME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. <— that link is the right place, where the videos are posted! The full site is here, and they’re adding monologues every few days, including a new one this Saturday. Here’s the first four – enjoy!

Episode 1 – The Perfect Place: Karen records a birthday message to her grandfather, telling the story of her work’s Christmas do.

Episode 2 – The Error of Arthur Schopenhauer: A young student is given a lesson in the harshest aspects of freedom.

Episode 3 – Shaken: When administrator Sarah finds out that her death will be by ‘poison in the pages of a book’ she is convinced that she is destined for great things, or at least a great death.

Episode 4 – Name Your Fear: When Alice receives her manner of death, it doesn’t give her the peace of mind she’d hoped for. Haunted by a mysterious name, she attempts to make sense of her loneliness.

I’m really impressed by these – great writing, great acting, great production values, great fun. Nicely done, everyone!

(We’ll link to the new ones as they are released from now on, so something to look forward to there as well!)

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