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You Bet Your Skin
Copyright (c) 2008 by Floyd Flanagan


Dark, satirical, funny, full length video novel read by the author.


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Watch and listen to the reading of the novel or just listen, like a book on CD. After viewing a part, press the back arrow of your web browser to select the next part.

Use the || > button on the viewer to stop and start a video. Stop a part at any time and continue later.  Use the slider to move forward and backward through a part you are viewing.

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1. In his dreams VINNY VANILLA is getting skinned alive.  Awake, sales of his over-the-hill video game, HAMMERMAN, are tanking, his connection to the virtual economy is iffy, and he can't go on supporting his hapless SIS and MOM and DAD forever.  He seeks solace from his unsympathetic sig-one, ICE, the perverse love of his life.  He confesses his terror of contracting BID poison, contaminating his bio-identity.  Breaking down completely, he begs Ice to be the one he can really count on, even though she can never count on him.
2. Vinny hangs out with his PUBBUDDIES on Invision (via wireless Internet implants) until Ice butts in and spoils the fun.  NEWS NOW shows the mutilated body of trans star, SHOW QUEEN, found dumped in a New Jersey landfill.  There's news of the spread of ASD, Acquired Skin Disease that's reversing the colors of the races around the world.  Vinny's boss, VITA, warns him to keep an eye on PRESIDENT STICKMAN, who is rock bottom in the polls, and presses him for an upgrade of Hammerman.  Vinny designs a new breed of villains, FE-FI-FO-FUM, and is frustrated by program skewing errors.

3. Vinny strolls through a blighted neighborhood, admiring the drag-and-bag efficiency of urban renewal.  He takes pride in his credit rating.  Although times are tough, he's still a real gold guy and compares himself to the lowlife trash eking out existence in the shadows.  Sidestepping cheap ad temptations on Invision, he savors his expectation of shopping at THE BOX.  Moments after leaving the retail wonderland, he looks back to see it leveled by an EVILIST attack.  DOOM MAN is on the move.

4. Vinny returns to his habi home and discovers Ice has left him.  He watches a news update.  Autopsy and miracle extraction.  Out of the womb of the murdered Show Queen, a live fetus is resurrected.  Searching in forbidden places for info on BID poison, Vinny gets help from dud helper, DUDMEAT, who saves him from a violent bioectomy.  Vinny's money woes are compounding.  His habi home is foreclosed on and he seeks shelter from AL, the albino proprietor of a rundown motel.

5. Vinny learns that his over-leveraged investment in Enerjetics stock has turned his credit rating to pulp.  He's no longer a real gold guy.  Even worse, he may be suffering from credit cancer.  Mired in depression and fear of poverty, he seeks relief from the autotherapist, DOC RX, only to discover that he, himself, is the cause of all his problems.  Due to his financial collapse, Mom, Dad, and Sis lose their home, as well, taking refuge in the motel room next to Vinny.  Wandering distraught through the blighted neighborhood, Vinny encounters the girl child, DOGBAIT.  He learns that evil is embodied in a dog when he's almost eaten alive.
6. Vinny asks for financial help from his Pubbuddies and learns about other priorities.  Desperate for relief, he follows Dudmeat through a wormhole to Invisibank, where a spike-heeled manager, NEW ACCOUNTS, offers him a loan with terms that he has to refuse.  The quiz show, YOU BET YOUR SKIN, is advertising for contestants and Vinny wonders what more he could possibly lose.  On the show, he gives up thirty-six square inches of skin off his back and goes home broke as ever.

7. Ice gives Vinny curt advice about BID poison over the phone.  Get yourself tested.  Vinny is terrified by a pay-up-or-quit notice from Invision and reconsiders the terms of New Account's loan offer.  On the way to sign for the loan, he meets GUY, THE INSURANCE GUY, and learns a few things about insurance.  Terms for the loan are a lot tougher now, but faced with total separation from the virtual economy, Vinny accepts.

8. Under pressure from Vita to add pizzazz to the Hammerman product line, Vinny creates the Amazon STILETTA, sig-one and helpmate for the brute warrior.  She's a hit and a bonus sweetens Vinny's perspective on life.  Meanwhile, his Energetics stock turns up with corporate news of a newfound energy source that could transform the world.  A news story pegs talk guy BILLY BOYMAN as the prime suspect in Show Queen's murder and the probable father of the miracle child.  Vinny turns on to the magic of PotGo-PanGo and dances with Ice from afar.

9. Vinny invents a new game for Hammerman and Stiletta.  STALKING JUSTICE will take gamers where they've never gone before, as they spy on, entrap, and reap revenge on EVILIST suspects, be they strangers, acquaintances, or dear ones.  It's all in good fun.

10. Mom throws Dad out of their motel room after discovering his affair with the virtual dud helper, MARZIPAN.  Vinny catches up with Ice on Invision, sees she's a changed woman, and receives a stern warning.  Be careful what you eat.  It seems everywhere you look people are changing, and SIS is getting into the act.

11. Even though Vinny gets counseling for credit cancer he's as broke as ever.  On the news Billy Boyman denies paternity of the baby in a bottle.  With its acquisition of Fabcorn, Enerjetics threatens to corner the market on food production, in addition to its lock on energy.  Vinny's stock moves even higher and he's set to pay off his loan early, when he learns that could cost him more than he bargained for.  Due to the popularity of Stalking Justice Vinny's skills are in great demand.  President Stickman has a job for him.  Vinny gets tested for BID poison.  He's got it; and the reason he's got it is even worse than the disease.

12. Although Vinny can talk to Ice on Invision, her location is blocked.  He demands that she tell him where she is and wants to know if he can count on her.  For Ice it's the same old story, knowing she can never count on him.  Stuck with Mom and Dad and his dud lover in a dinky motel room is more than Sis can handle.  She tells Vinny that something's got to give.  President Stickman plans to extend his term in office to president for eternity.  Vinny is hired to perform the presidential makeover.  Al has special powers to locate missing persons and finding Ice in Porto-Novo, Benin is no problem at all.  Vinny plans to go there very soon.

13. Although Vinny struggles mightily with the presidential makeover, Stickman is still Stickman and the voters aren't fooled.  Making matters worse, the political talk guy, DR. BULL, exposes Stickman's desire to be president forever.  A White House plot is hatched to bring the bull man down with Vita in command and Vinny's hopes for a quick getaway to Benin are dashed when he's put on the no-fly list and drafted into the conspiracy.  The bull man scoops an interview with Doom Man deep inside his cavernous lair.  The arch evilist reveals his manifesto, Changing Pain for Dollars.  Outside the cave, three slits in a captive's head sack transform it into a terrorist's hood.  The bull man dawns the mask to make point.  He's all bull, pure bull, and there's no bull about it.

14. Dr. Bull's intrepid interview with Doom Man puts the president's futile attempts to catch the evilist to shame.  Stickman's defense team shifts its focus from the War on Mayhem to defeating the bull man and Vinny is assigned the job of digging up dirt.  On the pretext of offering Dr. Bull ideas to build his brand value, Vinny entices him to a meeting in the Geekery.  An encounter with a one eyed man raises questions too painful to answer.

15. Vinny digs for dirt on Dr. Bull, but comes away empty handed when his victim smells a rat.  Spying on Sis and Al, Vinny sees more than he wants to know.  In a fit of jealously, Mom has Dad fit to be tied and gives Vinny fair warning when he tries to interfere.  With a seeming change of heart, Mom throws a surprise party where Sis and Al announce a mysterious business plan and Mom has Dad kidnapped.

16. After seeing evidence of the kidnappers' awful power Vinny is directed to Guy, the insurance guy, for further instructions.  Guy has expanded his offerings from life insurance to include death insurance and has just what Vinny needs.  A trial run in a secure communications coffin leaves Vinny breathless.  Buried in the casket behind the motel, Vinny waits for the kidnappers to call.

17. During an Invision call Ice tells Vinny that its not a shadow he sees on her face.  She's turning black from Acquired Skin Disease.  Is that a problem she wants to know.  Vinny runs into the girl child, Dogbait.  No longer a street waif, she's making something of herself in the hot dog business.  On the news, Billy Boyman denies paternity of the baby in a bottle.  There's still no word from the kidnappers, but a feature story on the burgeoning kidnapping market gets Vinny's full attention.  More news, a grass roots initiative for continuous PolLections is gaining traction and threatens the president's plan for eternal office.  Vita leans harder on Vinny to get some real dirt on Dr. Bull and a followup meeting with the bull man proves productive.  Vinny encounters Sis and Al in Motherland and learns about their agency for surrogate motherhood.

18. Dud revolution is in the air.  Al integrates Vinny's coffin into a secure communications bunker he has built and staffed with duds and the new connection works like a charm.  Vinny demands that the kidnappers tell him what they want from him.  He's told just to follow instructions.  But he receives no instructions, and the word on the street is he's not cooperating.  At least there's some good news.  The dirt on Dr. Bull has turned to gold and Stalking Justice is selling like hotcakes.

19. Vinny career is back on a tear.  First there was Stalking Justice the video game and now there's Stalking Justice the realtime movie, with Vinny cast as the star gamer, assisted by his crack police team, Hammerman and Stiletta, who cut no slack for their mayhem suspect, Dr. Bull.  Vinny is appalled at the frameup and threatens to walk.  Hammerman and Stiletta play good cop bad cop and convince Vinny to stay in the game.  The Moms of Motherland take up residence in Al's motel.  The acquisition of Fabcorn by Enerjetics gives the multinational company a hammerlock on worldwide food and energy and Vinny's stock is headed to the moon.

20. Dr. Bull is arrested, escapes, and is brought down hard by Hammerman and Stiletta.  On Invision, Ice tells Vinny the disease is in the corn.  He tells her their separation is growing more and more painful.  She asks if she can count on him and gets the same old runaround.  There's trouble in Motherland.  Foreign competition in the surrogate industry is heating up.  Al demands the moms carry five babies per pregnancy and they threaten to strike.  Al's partner, Guy, assures the moms that all their fears are covered by insurance.  Bedeviled by program skewing errors, Vinny's makeover of President Stickman is falling behind schedule.

21. Vinny is fired from Stickman's team and is at a loss about following instructions.  But it's not a problem.  They have another candidate in mind; and never mind that he's not even real.  According to the new plan, Vinny will morph his video game hero, Hammerman, into D.A. Hammerman, positioning him on the PolLection fast track to be president.  As for new instructions, Vinny is to keep dogging the bull man on Stalking Justice, where D.A. Hammerman is building his image in a very public way.  On the news, Billy Boyman hung himself in his jail cell.  Viewers as asking, what's to become of the baby in a bottle now that both parents are dead?  Dud helpers escape from the underworld by the millions and inundate Invision.  The cause of Acquired Skin Disease is found in contaminated Fabcorn and the stock of its parent company, Enerjetics, takes a turn for the worse and Vinny's broke again.  New Accounts reminds him that his loan is due real soon.
22. Things are changing faster than ever.  Vinny is getting darker, Al has a big surprise for Sis, and Dad's been released by the kidnappers.  That is, he's almost released.  Vinny's Enerjetics investment collapses to a penny stock, and with his credit rating in the dumpster, he's disconnected from Invision.  Cut off from the virtual economy, he might as well be trash.

23. An extraordinary motel room surgery restores Vinny's Invision.  But reconnection comes with a glitch.  His image is stamped with the mark of a dud.  Big news.  Enerjetics has discovered the secret of unlimited energy.  Vinny's tanking stock makes a u-turn and heads for the stars.  Al gives Sis the gift of life.  As the star mom of Motherland, Sis is selected to carry and give birth to the baby in a bottle.

24. On the news the dud insurrection advances with Dudmeat in command.  PolLections become the law of the land.  Now every day is election day.  Voters hold their breath to learn how the candidates will deal with the riotous duds.  President Stickman vows their destruction.  Candidate Hammerman says just give them the vote.  Vinny is fed up with Dudmeat, until a harrowing experience teaches him new respect.

25. Pressure from all directions is driving Vinny to drink, but there's no escaping Stalking Justice.  Hammerman's prosecution of the bull man advances to the courtroom and star gamer Vinny's role is expanded to, judge, jury, and executioner.  This calls for another double Scotch at the bar, and then another.  The relentless railroading of Dr. Bull by Hammerman continues and drunken Judge Vinny cannot be excused.  Finally, there's some good news for a change.  Thanks to his Enerjetics stock, Vinny is a multi-billionaire; and just in time to pay back his loan.  He calls to tell Ice the good news.  He's almost on his way.
26. There's not much left for Vinny to do but wrap up some loose ends.  Sell a few shares of stock, retire the loan, close the case on the bull man, get taken off the no-fly list, and hop the next suborbital to Benin.  He calls his autobroker and learns his stock is taking a hard fall.  What to do?  Sell it all right now?  If he does he might lock in his losses.  It's a tough decision.  New Accounts is checking the time.  If he misses the payment deadline there will be hell to pay.  With only seconds to spare Vinny sells it all and still comes up short, way short.  There's a call to bank security.  Make ready the surgical unit.  Deadbeat on the floor.  A quartet of cyborg, bounty hunters, Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, have Vinny on the run.  A misstep in front of an autohauler eliminates one of the assailants.

27. In desperate need of a break, Vinny takes a dream cruise to a tropical paradise.  Upon waking, he leads the bounty hunters on a mad chase through hell and high water.  Begging for help from those near and dear to him, Vinny learns they have troubles of their own.  The duds have taken over Invision.  President Stickman vows to crush the duds and asks Congress for support.  Instead, they give duds the vote.  In the final minutes of the race Hammerman pulls a coup de grace on Stickman by capturing Doom Man and victory is his.

28. Finally set free by the kidnappers, Dad crawls back to the wife who betrayed him.  The old man begs for help from his one and only son, but Vinny has no help to give him.  Cornered by the two remaining cyborgs, Vinny makes a wild leap of faith and is saved by a short circuit.  He learns of the strengths and weaknesses of the cyborgs and takes stock of his situation.  Two down and two to go.  Then, with a little help from Guy, it's three down.  With nothing to sell but his flesh and blood, Vinny strikes a deal at a BetterBarter and heads for the spaceport with a Ziplock crammed with chump change.

29. Waiting for departure, Vinny is thrust into the inescapable climax of Stalking Justice.  The only thing left to do is sentence Dr. Bull to a gruesome fate and leave the dirty work to others.  The bull man seizes control of the game with a legal maneuver and sticks Vinny with a weighty decision.  In the waning minutes before takeoff, the last bounty hunter uses seduction and brutality to ensnare Vinny in the spikes of a security clawstyle.  Inspired by fear and music Vinny turns the tables on the cyborg and safely boards the spaceplane to Benin.

30. Viewing earth from space, Vinny contemplates the meaning of choice, the people in his life, and genesis of the new world leader, Hammerman.  He shudders to think, what have I done?  Approaching touchdown, he tries to imagine a new life with Ice.  He wonders if she'll be there.  And even if she is, can she be counted on?  As for himself, he still has his doubts.


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Press Release

Floyd Flanagan's 'You Bet Your Skin' First Full-length Internet Video Novel


(sub-title) Viral Novel Turns Internet in on Itself


Long Beach, CA, February 2, 2009 -- We're all aware of the escalating intrusion of in-your-face media in our lives.  In the first full-length Internet video novel, URL youbetyourskin.com, published on Google Video, Floyd Flanagan satirizes the media's tightening grip on public consciousness with a darkly funny odyssey through the conundrums of sex, violence, race, wealth, guilt, and responsibility in a world devoid of privacy.

Flanagan's novel lampoons new media and he thought it would be appropriate to use state of the art technology for publication.  He considered books on CD, which are now mainstream, but he wanted to do something different.  Considering the popularity of YouTube, a video reading of the novel seemed like a natural, using the Internet to parody itself.

Researching the subject of book publication in video format, Flanagan was surprised when he was unable to find a single video novel on the Internet.  Thousands of people tell stories on YouTube, but these vignettes are limited by YouTube's ten-minute maximum length, clearly inadequate for a full-length novel.  Google Video enabled Flanagan to get around that limitation.  His approach was simple.  He used inexpensive EvoCam video software and the built-in camera on his MacBook to recorded the eleven-hour, serialized reading of the novel.

2011 update: Google Video ceased operation and provided the means to transfer the novel to YouTube.

Flanagan says, "I've always been interested in the pressures that rapidly evolving technologies place on individuals.  Today, the amount of publicly accessible, personal information is exploding.  Radio frequency ID chips placed under the skin can tell a scanner your medical information and track your whereabouts on the fly.  You're on the verge of becoming a scannable, walking charge card, ripe for the picking.  Before you know it there will be no such thing as privacy.  Begin this story and step into that world."

About the Author:

Floyd Flanagan and his wife are longtime residents of Long Beach, California.  In addition to writing, Flanagan's professional career includes media producer, instructional designer, and systems engineer on satellite systems with Raytheon.  His interest in futurist media began with the electronic publication of 'Mylar's Warp,' the first online novel in text format, published on The Source computer network in 1981.  His other writing includes 'MacCats -- 99 Ways to Paint a Cat with MacPaint' and 'Maggie and the Moneysuckle Tree -- a Young Person's Guide to Building Wealth.'  Mr. Flanagan is currently working on a sequel to 'You Bet Your Skin' and other projects.

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Floyd Flanagan