Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Sun Tzu Inspires Some Weird Thoughts

Not telepathy. Intrapathy. It's probably an abuse of Latin, but that's okay. Who speaks Latin anymore? Intrapathy is the ability to read your own mind. Think you already do? You delusional sucker. You think with your mind, but you don't know your mind. Most people are so bad at picking their own brains apart that they either lie to themselves for their entire lives, or hire a minimally superior mind-picker in psychologists or psychiatrists. That's where intrapathy comes in. Only you can do it, and when you've got the talent, it stays. Figure out the reasons behind your actions and tastes, below the logic, below the rationality, just a layer of skin above the pink membrane of instinct itself. You'll remember what really matters, the memories so important that your mind has swallowed them and prevented you from ever remembering them afterward - like in my case, that time I went sledding with my dad and accidentally overturned us into a snow bank started my pathological fear of controlling devices. Without intrapathy, I still wouldn't have a driver's license. Good intrapathy allows you to get in there and really change who you are, to edit your personally like an author edits their manuscript. How many books are good on the first draft? Maybe one, and that book probably isn't yours. Intrapathy requires no gurus or professionals. It beats the heck out of the human genome. And once you get adept at it, those telepaths will be knocking down your door, inviting you into their heads to fix what's wrong with them. They'll do it because they know that if you don't know yourself, it doesn't matter how well you know your enemy.

Bathroom Monologue: A Matter of Life and Death

His name is Life. You had to know he existed. With all the personifications of Death out there, you knew there had to be a personification of her boyfriend. And that’s Life. Due to the company he keeps, he’s a rather pale, sickly fellow, skinny with red eyes, silver hair and a serene smile that gives away not an inkling of what’s on his mind. If you haven’t figured it out, his mind is the earth. Every so often he gets in a fight with Death, which is natural for couples. She’ll go over and sulk in some corner of the intensive care ward at a hospital. He’ll go try to cheer himself up at the nursery, though he always gets bored and goes outside. When Death gets over herself, she finds him sitting out in front of the nearest available statue. Life likes statues. He likes Art. Art is his best-known son, always imitating him. Then Life and Death will talk out their problems, the same ones they’ve had for millions of years, and kiss and make up in the twilight of morning. Life will talk to you if you try hard enough, though it’s hard to get him to answer questions. The one time I’ve asked him why he associates with Death, he smiled wanly, already beginning to fade, and answered, “It’d be real lonely without her.”

Bathroom Monologue: Revenge of the Return of the Bathroom Dialogues

Ghost: Oh, you can go ahead.
Charlie: That's alright, you go first.
Ghost: Really, you were here before me.
Charlie: Which is why it's kind of me to let you go first.
Ghost: Well you don't have to be a dick about it.
Charlie: You got a problem?
Ghost: You got a problem?
Charlie: What's wrong with you?
Ghost: You steppin'?
Charlie: I'll knock a mother****er out.
Ghost: Well then it's on!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Flight of Dragons Redux

Zinsen Fen did a great thing by slaying Th'uuban, the cannibal dragon. There was no question in the goodness of his act. However, it was something of a burden on the populace of the neighboring city to handle several million tons of dragon carcass. It blighted the land, its fumes retarding the crops, its dead grimace scaring off tourists, and its bulk blocking so much of the horizon that dawn came an hour and a half later in the morning.

With the swift thinking that ensures promotions, the mayor's aid put the body up for auction before the neighboring castles could figure out what a terrible thing on which they were bidding. This "deluxe luxury item" and "one of a kind memorabilia from Zinsen Fen's greatest adventure" sold for enough coin to keep the township prosperous for decades to come (though the misappropriation of those funds by the newly appointed senior mayor’s aid is another tale entirely).

The L'Argent Family who ultimately bought the dragon's corpse had so little use for it after the party for its unveiling at their new and wholly unnecessary art gallery (formerly a hollow mountain no one else was using that century) that they left it in the hands of the very gypsies that had shipped and handled it for them. Not that the gypsies had much of a better idea of how to use several million tons of dragon corpse than the crazy rich people who had bought it. They tried selling its scales for armor and good luck charms, but both of those opportunities dried up once everyone in the region owned at least ten dragon scales, and felt no safer or luckier than before (though they all felt a bit poorer, a bit cheated, and a bit angry that they hadn't asked for receipts).

The gypsy king had a stroke of genius to make a ship from the carcass. He'd always wanted a ship, in the hopes that his people could sail to new countries that needed shipping, handling and the purchase of faulty good luck charms. Dragons are naturally hollowed out upon death by the expulsion of their own fire, so Th'uuban's torso made a fine hull, and his wings made for an exceptional pair of sails - a truly great pair, since the H.M.S. Th'uuban set off on its maiden voyage to pick up the gypsy king's wife and immediately left the water and took to the air. They had the first flying ship, wholly on accident.

The gypsy king (who was deposed a week later in the wake of the tribe going global, and was replaced with a kinder, more sensible democratic body headed by his wife) took the ship across the continent, barging through crowds of clouds. The town that had auctioned Th'uuban's body shook its collective fist at the sky, and began doubting the value of paving their streets with gold the way they had. The L'Argent Family quickly summoned their lawyers, to see if they could sue for a piece of the profits. Everyone expected the gypsies to make a great profit off of this, and they did.

And that is the story of the first Overnight Air Delivery in the land.

Bathroom Monologue: Live to Duct Tape

"I have six days to write something that will go live on network television? I don't even know how to write for live theatre! Or dead theatre! You could produce my skit for an audience of zombies and they'd be just as likely to laugh as an audience of living twenty-somethings! And when the ****ing skit was over, the living audience would be just as likely to rip my limbs off and devour my flesh as the zombies! I can't do this! I don't know how to do this! I'll lose my job! But you know, all this emotion is kind of inspiring. I kind of want to write. Wait, I'll come back in ten minutes. Either I'll have a script or I'll be begging you to fire me."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Chilling

Lo: This abandoned prison is the perfect hideout. The villagers think it's haunted and won't go near it.
Puck: But it's not really haunted?
Lo: No, it is. But I pay the ghosts reasonable rent, and I can play the stereo as loud as I like until 9:00.

Bathroom Monologue: Rejected Bumper Stickers

-I have the right to bear arms (it’s in the Constitution)
-The Elderly are our Greatest Resource... of Mulch
-Respect the truth enough to leave it alone
-I have the right to arm bears (it's in the Constitution)
-Hitchhikers are like Drivethru for Cannibals
-Women are like paintings: pretty to look at, useless to listen to
-I have the right to throw this van into reverse (it's in the Constitution)
-Remake Directors, Not Movies
-I have the right to follow you home (it's in the Constitution)
-Love Conquers All, The Occupation is Harder
-DUEL Wasn't a Movie, it was a Warning
-My bear has the right to follow you home (it's in the Constitution)
-I only brake for imaginary Stop signs
-Legalize Pot to Solve the Budget Deficit
-It's not racist if you do it right, or if you're black
-My Other Car is Your Mom
-Has anyone seen my bear? (she stole my copy of the Constitution)

Bathroom Monologue: "Man is a Ghost that Haunts Himself" -Me

You know who I'd like to see a ghost possess? Himself. Or herself, sure. But semantic gender aside, himself. It's a little sadistic, but wouldn't it be neat to see what he noticed? If the ghost, separated from the living body for a time, and was returned to it to inhabit it anew. It'd feel familiar, like getting back behind the wheel of a car you'd been driving for nineteen straight years but then left in a garage for two more. There's a certain comfort when you get back in, and there's an unease. It wouldn't feel exactly the same as before. You look in different directions and notice things in different orders. You likely notice things in there that you'd forgotten were there, or that you were so used to that you overlooked them. Vital things, things you loved, things you stole and hid. Important things you never think about anymore. Wouldn't it be neat to find out what things a ghost remembered when settling back into his own bones?

Bathroom Monologue: Sure. Blame the Director.

It was only then that Billiam realized what earth was: a remake. The body counts are higher, the wars are nastier, the conflicts are more superficial – this planet and its history could be nothing else than a remake of a decent original, sensationalized to sell. Maybe the original was a classic. Billiam couldn’t be sure. But the remake was clearly directed by a hack, with an inferior cast. And as he read about global warming and frightened countries building nuclear arms, he worried that the flick might be pulled from theatres prematurely. How sad, he thought it, to live in a b-movie world. His only comfort came from imagining what was playing across the hall.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Our Contradictions, as Viewed by a Dwarf

“Humans. They want it warm when it’s cold, and they want it cold when it’s warm. They build devices to give them light when it’s dark, and they’re always turning them off. They don’t want to go to sleep, and then they don’t want to get up. They never get to somewhere without wanting to go back an hour later. And they have the nerve to bitch about paradoxes. I don’t even bother thinking about half the things these humans want to get done and undo again before supper.” –Aegis Erengeld

Bathroom Monologue: November 1st: The Worst Day of the Year

Well for starters, October ends. Halloween is dead. Horror movies disappear from TV and drip out of theatres. I love horror movies, but even if you can't stand them, you must have a candy cane lodged in your brain to think the holiday movies that shortly replace them are better. You have to get rid of the jack o'lantern, the stores take down the cool displays and candy gets more expensive. Then the Christmas B.S. pours in, as though it isn't 55 days away. In the U.S., November 1st is inexplicably closer to elections, accelerating the amount of political nonsense spinning in media, quickly reducing politics to a subject you can't possibly discuss with civility until long, long after November 1st gets the **** out of town.

Bathroom Monologue: The Joy of Re-Reading

To Kill a Mockingbird was Maureen's favorite book, even though she'd never read it. She carried it for years. She had her story down -- her father had given her this copy when she turned twelve, and it had been with her through high school, college and the workplace ever since. That was all true. What she did was stare at the pages, not actually reading, but thinking over whatever was on her mind that day. It was the perfect excuse to keep men or chatty old women from talking to her in the dentist's waiting room, at the bus stop or on the subway. Through practice, she could turn the pages at a convincing fake-reading pace, and she had mastered that frown women make, that one men cannot possibly realize isn't a frown of concentrated reading when a book is in her hands, but is instead a frown of concentrated plotting on how to make it to junior executive before they turn twenty-five. She learned the memorable moments and quotes from all the strangers who knew the book and just had to talk to her about it, though from all the conversations she'd had about it, she still wasn't sure what the plot was. She'd have to read it some day.

Bathroom Monologue: That Neck Thingie

It's tough being a 250-pound guy in a neckbrace; you look like a cartoon bird being strangled. You're already huge, and now you have this decoration - this decoration that every single idiot you help at Walmart can't help but ask about. And you're not going to tell them the truth - oh Hell no. You make up stories on the way to work, and then you make up fresh ones on the spot, because after the second time you replay the original set of lies in your mind you realize how dumb they sound. Oh, you popped your neck lifting something. Something heavy. Or you fell off a ladder. Or a bar fight. Yeah, you were hit with something. Something heavy. Something manly, something iron. No matter the lie, iron will always be involved after that. You tell these iron lies because they make you feel like a man, and because there's no Goddamned way you'll tell them you tore a muscle in your neck straining too hard while taking a dump. You didn't even know that was possible, and you damn sure don't anyone else realizing it's possible at your expense.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: That It Do

pages grow yellow
paint flecking on wood
quills scrape along paper
random visuals
frantic touches,
so fake they bleed
every sentence fragment so full
of itself and nothing else
doesn't have to rhyme
doesn't need rhythm
occasional odors
soundless music
sensory imagery
pomp and thunder fills a void
a void that calls itself the Universe
things said better
more clearly
more concisely
more correctly
in prose
this is why
I hate poetry

Bathroom Monologue: Goodbye-Sexuals

In the future there will be heterosexuals, homosexuals, and finally the asexuals. Straights, gays and nays. People will never even have to go outside to find a date. It will be harder to win civil unions for a man and his right hand, but once enough nays raise stable children, they'll make it. It's not like they'll be the first to have single-parent households after all. And nays will the lowest divorce rate of any sexuality, though accompanied by the highest bifurcation rate. They'll be the fastest growing minority in Mexifornia, too, because they won't only multiply by conversion, and they won’t marry other races. Their kids will be just like mom (or dad). Except they'll like newer, dumber music and dress like complete idiots until their twenties. Some will try to rebel. Go straight. Or gay. But they'll come back. It'll be in their genes. We know, because there'll be nothing else in them.

Bathroom Monologue: Think of their contact lens expenses

It's a shame that "Triclops" isn't a better-sounding name. The Cyclopes had no such problems. Even werewolves have weathered popularity of brand name well, despite "lycans" sounding like something that grows on the underside of your boat. But the Triclopes had no such luck, which was a shame, since they had so much to offer. Why, with their skill in spears, if given the proper lead role in an RPG they could have made lances the next "swords." And most of them could stop time by blinking their third eye, and even the weakest Triclops could pluck up two ends of time and knit with it. Yet to re-launch their brand they needed a new name, having been unpopular to the point of obscurity since that bastard, Homer, snubbed them out of a villain role in his "Iliad sequel" project. Most of the three-eyed beasts wanted a three-related or eye-related name, with conservatives demanding a three-eye-related name, and liberals proposing something fresh. The young suggested some kind of confection-based name, since it has been well-known to those who know it that Triclopes make the best cookies on earth. However, one cynical comment about "Master Bakers" and the cookie proposal crumbled. "Three Eyes?" No style. "The Gejj?" Foreign-sounding names were going out of style. "Triads?" No, they weren't going to pick a fight with the mafia of any country that had nuclear weapons. Exhausted and out of ideas, the Triclopes will take open their search to internet suggestions this winter, hoping for some of the same "unappreciated minority" appeal that has worked so well for other species and races. Though first, they have to agree on a catchy URL.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: A rose by any other name is mislabeled

Most countries have one name that is similar across all of the languages that speak about them. The name may sound a little different or look a little different on paper, but you can tell that "Espagne" and "Spain" come from the same name. The difference is mostly the product of hundreds of years of pronunciation in one dialect or another. "The United States" and "L'Etats Unix" are the same; the latter is just French for the same words, put into the syntax of their language.

But then there's Germany. In English anyway. You see in English it's "Germany," but in French it's "Allemagne," in Polish it's "Niemcy," and in that country itself they call it "Deutschland." These words don't look anything like each other. Their parts don't translate into the same original words. They mean the same country, but they're curiously different names.

The "deutsch" in "Deutschland" comes from the old German word for "people" or "folk." A nice word to name your homeland. It meant people were there. I'm a citizen of the unimaginatively-named United States, so I can appreciate it. The "Germans" still use that name for their country today. But what of the other names?

It turns out that "Germany" from the old Latin "Germania," a murky, generic word for tribes living in the region that we today call "Germany." Similarly, "Allemagne" is a mutation of the original name for a tribe that used to live in Germany, the Alamanni tribe. Say them out loud and you can tell that one was once the other. Speakers of such languages grew to identify the area by the tribe with which they were most familiar. Even "Niemcy" comes from an old Slavic word, "nemoy," a very rude term for people who didn't speak Slavic. That's a pretty rude way to name a country.

Actually, they're all pretty rude. The country is Deutschland. That's what they call themselves. My name is John. I'll understand if you localize it, say it with an accent or even substitute the local equivalent, but calling me "Theodore" makes you seem senile. Calling Deutchsland "Germany" or "Allemagne" boils down to countries lacking the respect to call it by its name, and rather going by the name of a tribe that lived there 2,300 years ago. It's been "Deutschland" long enough that we can call it that now. It's a frickin' world power, people.

A Making Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Monologue... by way of Dialogue

Abe: We want them scared, though.
Fenris: Not really, sir.
Abe: What's that?
Fenris: They have the second largest army in the world. Should they become too frightened, they will be much more likely to fire upon us, and the west coast, in which the two of us reside, cannot weather such a shelling.
Abe: You don't know what you're talking about, Fenny. I've always been smarter than you.
Fenris: Actually, that's just an illusion I've kept up in my tenure as your loyal man-servant. I'm quite a bit smarter than you, by at least thirty I.Q. points. My retirement portfolio is actually twice the size of yours now. I generally go around behind your back, fixing your mistakes, while stroking your ego, so as to make you as comfortable a master as you can be. It is my job. But please, don't antagonize the guys with nuclear weapons. It'd be a terrible career move, especially with your real estate holdings.
Abe: ... I'll tell you what. I'm going to call them and say this whole war-thing was a misunderstanding. And then I'm going watch as much reality TV as it takes to forget what you've just said.
Fenris: Jolly good decision, sir. Ranting about The Apprentice always cleanses your mind.
Abe: Fetch me a seltzer.
Fenris: Positively, sir.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Best of the Rest

Well Mandy and Sam loved each other for a good long time, which meant they had that day, the best day of their lives, which, of course, was run to please other people. Two aunts and a surviving grandmother ran the kitchen. Sam's sisters organized where everyone slept, except for Mandy and Sam, who were accidentally kicked out of their bedrooms for Great Aunt Helen and Bill (Sam’s sister’s boyfriend, from Australia), to instead sleep in a hammock outside and in the laundry room, respectively. Mandy's mother picked the location, and Sam's mother got square dancing as part of the celebration after the ceremony, since she'd had another location in mind and needed some form of reparations. It was the best day of their lives, with food they normally only tolerated on holidays, vows that didn't quite fit their feelings (but that had Great Aunt Helen in tears) and Mandy's mother's dress, which was the loveliest thing they had ever seen, though it wasn't much designed for square dancing. Mandy and Sam were spun in every direction, lifted up, marched down the dance hall, and in general, were completely separated by a clapping, stomping barrier of relatives and friends of relatives. Nathaniel, a childhood friend of Mandy's, was the first to notice the divided couple's wandering eyes and frowns. Nathaniel hailed to Christine, a sweet ex-girlfriend of Sam's, who drafted her brother (Lenny) and Bruce (Mandy and Sam's best friend from college, who was about as terrified of square dancing as you could get). This fantastic four infiltrated the next dance, which saw Mandy and Sam at literal opposite ends of the room, partnered with Renfield (another boyfriend of a sister) and some kind of second cousin, respectively. Well Bruce linked arms with Sam, and Lenny gallivanted with Mandy, and Christine gave covert directions, and without anyone noticing (not even the watchful Great Aunt Helen), Mandy and Sam were square-danced square out the back door. It was hours before anyone noticed, and even then it was fine, because it was 1:00 AM, and they had already had the best day of their lives.

Bathroom Monologue: I think it shields from rain, or bird poo...

Ted was the proud inventor of the car sheathe. What a magnificent invention to father. It was durable, big enough and pliable enough to snugly fit the form of most vehicles, and despite it all, could be folded back up and stored in your trunk, taking less room than a bag of groceries. How cool was that? Something that covered your entire car and fit so easily inside it when you were done. Of course Ted was proud of fooling thousands of car-owners into believing it did something useful, and the millions of dollars it made him, but he was most proud of its space economy.

Bathroom Monologue: Redefining Ignorance

There's an interesting debate about what words should be spoken, and by whom, and what they're allowed to mean. It's an interesting debate, in part because no one’s allowed to say the words even when they’re discussed. The master debaters want the words remembered, and their hateful meanings to be permanent - they're outraged that the words ought to be given other, simpler, dumber meanings that undermine the history of hate behind the syllables. For some reason, they think a century of slavery or a trail of tears can be forgotten if a rotten word turns into a joke. That's a shame, because it's only a way of keeping hate alive, of preserving the tools of social pain. A "kike" ought to be a typo for what a five-year old learned to fly yesterday. "Jewing you down" ought to be the Hebrew style of breakdancing. The "colored water fountain" ought to be a rainbow pool that kids of all shades of skin wade in when it's hot. There is value in remembering the past, but it's not always a case of those forgetting history being doomed to repeat it - often, it's the case that the malign study history in order to out-do it. We need to be careful with what history we decide to write and how we share it, because in 2050, the only "burning cross" I want to see in someone's front yard is a wicked skateboard move. Then "Jewing you down," "redskin," and "towelhead" will be as "fuck," "shit," and "damn" are now - pale ghosts of offense. Because really, "Jewing you down" shouldn't be anything but Hebrew breakdancing.
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