The dancing machine

Also: water boys, the evil way to smoke, and the lies of Steve.

The dancing machine

This week, we’re talking about chugging 10,000 waters on cam, getting a bite of the big Ritz, and winning 33% of the time — every time.

The internet’s busiest hydro homies

This Google spreadsheet collects the YouTube channels of seventeen men who have published tens of thousands of videos of themselves drinking water. Some of them still do this on a near-daily basis. We’re talking straight, no-frills hydration — no vlogging, no commentary. Just a man, his water, and the number of times he’s done this before. Though it might seem like they’re piggybacking off of the “VSCO girl / hydro homie” trend that took off in 2019, drinkers like Jon have been glugging on camera for as long as twelve years straight. This becomes even more impressive when you peruse the list of fallen brethren they’ve collected in a separate spreadsheet — almost a hundred or so channels couldn’t break the 50-water mark, but Jon’s got over 10,000 under his belt.

Robot streamer becomes button-mashing hero

A Tekken 8 bot playing as capoeira master Eddy Gordo — a historic favorite of button-mashing players — spent the last week beating the tar out of low-ranked opponents by spamming just one attack. Viewers called the bot “3DDY” because he only hits the “3” button, which in Tekken means a left-footed kick ("X" on a Playstation controller). Because Eddy’s dancing attacks shift quickly from lows to highs, this easy combo has the power to mesmerize and destroy less-experienced opponents. 3DDY spent last week fighting in Tekken 8’s yellow and orange ranks — probably higher than some people you know — with a win rate hovering in the low thirties.

The stream was a phenomenon in fighting game circles, rising to become one of the top five streams in the Tekken 8 category over the last 30 days before going offline on Thursday. (Its viewer hours were higher than EVO Japan, one of the game’s premier tournaments.) Players collected the bot’s best clips and matches; someone made a guide to beating him (just duck).  

The appeal of the stream was clear. First, the matches were harrowing to watch: not only could you imagine yourself falling prey to 3DDY’s one-note offense, but watching it also stirred up painful memories of defeat at the hands of childhood button-mashers and gatekeepers armed with “knowledge checks.” Second, at this fraught moment in man-machine relations, it was darkly thrilling to root for a robot as it administered a kind of reverse Turing test against all-too-fallible humans. As a player, 3DDY might have only been better than 33% of us, but as a streamer, he was better than virtually everyone. 

“The big Ritz is leaving”


The Big Ritz is leaving. #stopmotion #animation #ritztogether #horror

♬ original sound - Courtesy Vulture

If you only watch one nihilistic stop-motion animation today, make it this one. @courtesyvulture is an animator who makes surreal stories about ugly little puppets eating Ritz crackers in the desert. Commenters compared their work to Salad Fingers, an animated web series that’s been running for 20 years, which is also about a scrawny guy living in a morbid wasteland; and also to the diaspora of “animations that feel like Adult Swim” that have spread across all video platforms.

Welcome to the mid-email information oasis. EX is a free weekly-plus newsletter written by Chris, Clay, and Pao. It’s about the future of culture, and about turning each week’s mass of links into a few useful thoughts. If you enjoy reading EX, please share it on the social platform of your choice.

Streamer lets viewers hijack Skyrim NPCs

Streamer/gamedev Blurbs used text-to-speech to get in-game Skyrim NPCs to say his chatters’ rude thoughts out loud. A clip of this escaped the regular circles of streamer hijinks and did the rounds on game sites this week. As far as ruining RPGs with artificial voices goes, this is a more warmly human method than adding modded AI NPCs who think at the speed of dial-up internet. However, new chatters attracted by the viral post made the stream increasingly repetitive in later sessions, so it’s not a ringing endorsement of mankind, either.

Before this project, Blurbs did something similar to turn the AI announcers of competitive FPS The Finals into a mouthpiece for his chat. There’s a lot of this going around: streamers like Blurbs, DougDoug, CHRBRG, and Shindigs now often use the noise from their audience to inject chaos into the games they play, as a sort of human substitute for procedural generation.


😭#roblox #floptok #slay #posey #fyp

♬ original sound - Jiafei Store

Two odd trends converge in this 3.2M-view Roblox video, which is titled 😭. The first is a purchasable skin called Possessed Girl, which is one of a few horror items players are using in skits where they terrify younger kids in sedate games like Brookhaven. The second, which provides the sound, is a series of Spanish-language innuendo-laced ASMR videos about the “legend of Puchaina,” which evolved from an earlier multilingual “TikTok cult.” Do these two great tastes taste great together? You can’t argue with the views!

AI innovations in puerile parody songs

Perhaps you came across the compellingly realistic ‘50s-rock parody track “I Glued My Balls To My Butthole Again” as it made the rounds over the past few weeks. Is it funny? That’s between you and your god. But it’s a bold new frontier in AI shitposting. 

Creator Obscurest Vinyl originally made waves as a graphic design project, making realistic album covers for made-up records like “I’d Really Like To Get In Your Pants, Because I Just Shit In Mine.” The emergence of AI (in particular, the generative music platform Suno) allowed him to turn self-penned lyrics into the parody tracks, which you can find on most streaming and social platforms. This obviously raises all the normal questions about the ethics of making monetized work from AI, but at least this time the offender in question is a track called “It’s Raining Bullshit.”

Chum Box

  • The mod “True Photo of a Loved One” adds a reminder of home to your next playthrough of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Anomaly. [link]
  • Every schoolboy knows that, upon seeing the 1995 game Bug!, Steven Spielberg exclaimed “This is the character! This is the character that is going to do it for the Sega Saturn.” But was this quotation all a damn lie? [link]
  • The creators of the Pixeljunk games are back with an adorkable co-op puzzle game where the players become Tetris pieces that must figure out how to fit together. It’s called All You Need is Help and comes out sometime this fall. [link]
  • Sonic superfans released a full-fledged Sega Genesis-style kart racer called Dr. Robotnik’s Ring Racer. It’s very complicated. It’s built on the fangame Sonic Robo Blast 2, which is built on Doom, somehow. [link]
  • Desperate fans of retired streamer Jerma985 are now cataloging his rare public appearances. [link]
  • Lebron, a much-memed man of late, declared his full-throated support for Ocarina of Time. [link]
  • “Rockstar spent millions to make a realistic Brazil in Max Payne 3, but nothing they did ever came close to the authenticity of the bootleg Iron Maiden t-shirt in Xenus II: White Gold” [link]
  • Tone Glow recently put out an excellent interview with Lync, legends of Olympia, WA’s post-hardcore scene. They discuss skate culture, public radio, and K Records’ Calvin Johnson. [link]
  • The vinyl version of Westside Gunn’s FLYGOD is Good EP apparently ends in a locked groove of the rapper chirping “EYO” for all eternity. Many would claim this is an accurate reflection of his last couple projects, as well. [link]

One last thing

Did King of the Hill steal a joke about Nazi cigarettes from Jim Jarmusch?