Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: A Car of One's Own

In late winter when they heard a car horn go off, everybody thought of Mrs. Mophet. It was too small and kind a town for angered horn-blowing at their one intersection. Instead, nine times out of ten it was their Sally Mophet. You see in late Winter she always picked up her husband from the train on his way home from work, and stayed in the car to keep warm. Because she was sitting and warm, she gave into the writer's reflex and wrote, right there in the driver's seat, pad propped on the steering wheel. She'd get into the characters, usually some dry dialogue that seemed wittier in the moment, get too carried away, and press down too hard. And you could tell it was Sally Mophet because that same horn went off two or three times before her husband's train got in. She was a creature of habit, and even though she felt embarrassed, a sentence was unfinished. An idea was unfinished. Some careful detail could not wait in the back of her head to be typed up properly after supper.

Mrs. Mophet loved her characters and couldn't let them be alone. She loved them like her neighbors, because they were her neighbors. Unannounced to the town, except at one drunken 4th of July party, the mid-list sensation Mrs. Sally Mophet was the reason the homey, small town was still homey and small. She was the reason there weren't any Wal-Marts or McDonald's. She was the reason leukemia and cancer hadn't hit yet. In 2006, she was the reason no one turned down seconds on bacon and cream in their coffee. She didn't know how other small towns remained small, yet she imagined they all had their own hidden authors. She wondered if those other hidden authors were better at budgeting their time, or if they too got every family's supper ready, not on stoves, but on a pad precariously balanced on a steering wheel. If they made sure their own Jim Beckett got up at 3:00 AM to plow the roads against on every snowfall. If they made their trains run on time, without becoming too Fascistic a writer. It was tempting, you know, to edit Meredith Brown right out of the town, and make her move to Montana or Thailand or something, after she insulted Mrs. Mophet's brownies at the bake sale and tipped over that potted plant onto her carpet at the July 4th party, spilling soil all over her Persian rug, the only Persian rug in the town. An accident, yeah right. Well, maybe she'd suffer from an accident keystroke, an accidental patch of black ice.

Not that Sally Mophet ever allowed black ice into town. She wouldn't even reduce her dry cleaning bill with her pen or PC. It wouldn't be right, to write that. Mrs. Mophet knew what it took to be a good writer; measuring the things she really wanted, measuring the things her characters and neighbors needed, in a room of her own, and occasionally on the steering wheel of her car.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: We swear a lot

Listen, that photo in the magazine? It isn't how it looks. I wasn't actually at the protest for nudist rights. They were protesting at all the government buildings, and I was just trying to get into the DMV. There's a typo on my license, and I needed a form. Look at me in that picture, honey. I'm not protesting. I know how it looks, but I wasn't staring at that woman, either. She has a very nice chest, but I'm actually looking for the entrance to the DMV. It's just the angle. It's all an accident. I swear.

Bathroom Monologue: Awkward things you wish you hadn't said during an elevator conversation right as the door opened

-"Well, Hitler had some good ideas."
-"Do you have a tampon on you?"
-"Euthanasia: Not just the next generation of Chinese."
-"Is there a man Cindy won't sleep with?"
-"Ready? Fire!"
-"Maybe the mastectomy will give her back her balance."
-"Wait, aren't all Italians in the mafia?"
-"It looks like a bulldog eating mayonnaise."
-"Jews aren't a race. They're White."
-"So I was like, "I don't care if you're pregnant, I'll kick you in the stomach!""
-"Like it's our responsibility to feed those Africans."
-"I don't care if he has HIV. I won't miss him."

Bathroom Monologue: Dodd - 0% - 1

Last night, you were the only one who voted for Christopher Dodd at the Iowa Caucuses. Because CNN didn’t use decimals, you registered as zero percent. You were both one and zero – a human binary code who voted for a dark horse. I don’t know much about Senator Dodd, other than his opposition to war and that a few weeks ago he was the only Senator who left the campaign trail to return to his job and fight against a bill that would have granted immunity to telephone companies that spied on their customers, so long as they did it for the government. Why did you vote for him? Why you alone? Have you met him? Many people have met him. What do you know that no one else knows? What do you think that no one else thinks? Are you crazy? Are you moral? When you got up yesterday morning, what was on your mind? Did other people say they’d vote for him? Were you the only one who didn’t back down? How lonely was it to speak alone when Dodd’s name was called? How did you feel leaving the building? Have you spoken to Senator Dodd since then? What do you look like? Why do I imagine you dressed in a thick wool trenchcoat? I guess because I imagine it’s really cold.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Dripping Redneck

In this world you have to do everything with a blunt instrument or a gun. A buddy of mine watched too much of that anime crap and swore by katanas. He stole five of them from a store, all Home Shopping Network deals. When we were attacked, he went right for the swords. The first one snapped as he was pulling it from the sheathe. The second broke when he hit one of the zombies with it. I miss him. That's why I always carry an axehandle, Tim has an aluminum baseball bat, and the flatbed has three gun racks. You don't care so much about style when you're being chased by undead cannibals.

Bathroom Monologue: Rasputin Boys

I'm part of a triad: three sons on three planets. One of the Rasputin boys. Friends call me “Scary.” Scary Rasputin. It's not really much worse than “Grigorii,” now is it? Sure, that brother puppeteered an empire for a while and probably banged the queen or the prince (or both; he was a kinky preacher), but did he really deserve to name himself after a quire of angels? Our father doesn't even believe in angels. But Grigorii and I did get along well, abusing our immortality at the expense of astronomical bar tabs and the dumbest dares imaginable. From what I've heard he may actually have abused his immortality so badly that he's dead now. Really never expected him to outlive Dimitri. That’s our third brother. You wouldn't know him, since he's not earthly. Lived on Pangenia, one of those swords-and-sorcery planets the kids in the backs of libraries are always pretending to live in by way of dice and thirty-dollar hardcover manuals. I thought if any of us immortal Rasputin boys would die it would be Dimitri. He had the hero habit. Traveled up and down the coast of a continent for two hundred years straight without more than twelve hours sleep a month, always fighting trolls, stopping warlords, slaying dragons. I crap you not. Very macho. Very selfless, which is the ultimate macho, because while it never got him laid, it got him plenty of glassy-eyed applicants. Last I heard, he's still at it. Don't check in with him much, since we don't get along. We Rasputin boys drew our long lives from our pa, whose first name can't be pronounced by a mouth with only one tongue. He’s kind of different. We just call him “Pa Rasputin.” The original. I've only seen pictures of his homeworld, and while they were fuzzy, I'm pretty sure the planet was a triangle. He's a ridiculously powerful being, so much so that he could travel across dimensions and planes at will, and seduce any kind of creature he wished. Yeah, that kind of different: more powerful, with similar aims. He isn't a god, and I wouldn't call him one because if I did he'd materialize and whip the Hell out of me. He's an atheist, since he's never found proof of anyone more powerful than himself. He's superior to us, certainly superior to you, but still, not anymore godly to himself than you are to you. He’s just a great editor, capable of re-writing historical probability so convincingly that no one on three planets notices the seams where he edits their history. No one on your earth, for instance, which is a planet so cynical and skeptical as to discredit miracles as soon as they pop up, found it odd that Grigorii Rasputin could be beaten, stabbed, poisoned, shot and be okay. Dad wrote the rumors such that Grigorii was loaded with drugs, and everyone believes it, except the crazies, who think he was a mystic. Now that's a blast. Hell, "Rasputin" wasn't even indigenous to any of your planet's languages before Pa dabbled there. Pa embedded it, editing it into culture and history. It's his watermark. Your etymologists will actually defend "Rasputin" thinking it's part of linguistic lineage just because Pa edited time and space well enough. That's a skeptic for us; an ant proud of the seams it crawls across, often so proud it misses the seamstress. Even the most blind believer is skeptical of some things in her world, but only pride makes a man label himself a skeptic, rather than just being thoughtful and going on about his work. No offense intended, of course. Dad's a proud skeptic, too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Notice: Web Syndication

I guess this site is getting syndicated around the internet now. That's fine so long as I'm credited for my work. The original site is, and it is the only one I'm checking, so it's the only place to leave a comment if you want me to read it.

Thanks for all the interest and support!

Bathroom Monologue: Beware Canadians and Ellipses

"There appears to be a Canadian spy satellite in orbit around... yes sir, a Canada... no sir... it appears to be... I don't know if it gets hockey stations, sir... no, no... It's armed, sir. Nuclear arms positioned above... no sir, I don't think the arms have fingers... listen... no, please... please stop laughing sir... Listen, serial killers are using it to teleport across the continent... no sir, it doesn't dispense beer... sir, that's offensive... no, of course not... I'm sorry. Yes, I'll ask... yes, about the beer, too. But if I could just... they’re going to kill us all, though... alright, goodnight sir."

Bathroom Monologue: Games Journalism

There is no story to speak of, with little-to-no character development. Something is going on in Russia. I'm not sure; maybe it's some allegory of the arms race. With the void that is its plot, we have gameplay. For one, the playtime is too short - you could finish it in one sitting. There is no variety in the gameplay. The difficulty curve is ridiculously steep, topping out a few minutes in. The sound design is lacking, with just three songs playing over and over and over again. The multiplayer is as laughably limited as the single-player campaign. Truly, Tetris is a classic.

Bathroom Monologue: Heard this muttered near the chimney

I'm just saying, Santa Claus lives as far away from civilization as possible, with his wife and elves. That's one relative on the entire continent. And once a year when he leaves the north, to visit children - no adults, and if the kid is awake, he won't stop by. That's his Christmas, one without manic-depressive parents, siblings who are more successful than he is, or seeing anyone who could possibly be related to him. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Ways the World Could End

-The sun going supernova.
-The sun going red dwarf.
-The sun going for a closer look.
-Giant tectonic disruption splits the globe in half.
-Meteors (not like they haven’t tried before).
-Giant tectonic disruption splits the globe into fifths.
-Water decides to become flammable for a day.
-Ants continue to take grains of matter to build their hills, but decide to build them elsewhere (admittedly a slow method).
-Gravity's lease expires.
-Sauropods get another chance.
-Atlas shrugs.
-It orbits through a path clearly needed for a hyperspace bypass and is demolished.
-Self-replicating nanomachines dismantle the continents and oceans for parts.
-A race of nanoscopic vampires (nanopires) descends and drinks the world dry of the electrons.
-The event horizon of the nearest black hole expands upon some heretofore-unimaginable stimulation, swallowing this planet, the solar system and the galaxy in a single, soundless gulp, before we even know it is attracting us.
-The turtle on whose back the earth rests discovers its inhabitants have disproved her existence. And she doesn’t take it well.
-Evolution hits a stopping block and some offshoot of the primates develops technologically instead of genetically, and hit a similar point of retardation in their technological growth such that they rely on burning chemicals for energy until they irreversibly damage the environment.
-Global cooling.
-The vibrating energy that forms all matter destabilizes.
-The vibrating energy that forms all matter converges.
-The kid who set off the Big Bang comes back to clean up his mess.
-Paris Hilton doesn’t get what she wanted for her birthday.
-Every sentient being is simultaneously made painfully and overwhelmingly aware of how small and unimportant they are in the scheme of things, and made aware of the nearest tall bridge they might jump from.
-Mother Nature gets postpartum depression.
-The next being to hold the office of “God” is a solipsist.
-The office of “God” is dissolved into a democratic parliament, and some asshole filibusters.
-A being of such enormity that nothing on earth could even recognize its existence scratches the cosmos off his ass, inadvertently crushing us.
-We come into contact with extraterrestrial life, only to find they've been hiding as they know what we've done to every other living species we've encountered, and in their terror they open fire.
-A massive, unpredictable plague.
-A massive plague specifically designed by a particularly stupid but scientifically advanced species, which is bored with evolution’s progress and thinks it might be a good idea to create a plague to be used as a weapon against other members of their own species, witless that it might, just maybe, infect the creators too.
-Someone hits BACKSPACE one too many times.
-Time hits the end of the tape and the listener rewinds, inadvertently ending our world, but also restarting it.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: Thankful 2007

We should all take the time to remember what we’re thankful for in a year, even if we do so on the can. I’m thankful for a lot of things. Like any year that I’m thankful for a lot of things, it’s the small things that are important.
-I’m thankful for finally throwing “Norman Rockwell” into google and browsing the Images results. I’d never really taken a tour of his work, and even on a screen less than an eighth the size of his average paintings, they were stunningly beautiful and so full of character. There were two paintings in particular that I am thankful for seeing. The first was of a man and a woman arguing; from afar it looked like they were kissing, and when I took a closer look and saw they were fighting I assumed that it was a spat and they’d make up soon. It’s the only painting to ever immediately generate an entire story in my head. The other was of a man (probably Rockwell himself) in a museum, looking at a Pollock painting. I’ve retitled this painting, “I Could Do That.”
-I’m thankful to have discovered Nat King Cole this year. The first time in my life I’ve listened to his voice, it shakes my soul. I’m particularly thankful for his version of “Glory, Glory be to the New Born King.” It made me a Christian… for three minutes, anyway.
-I’m thankful for picking up Michael Chabon The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. It’s one of the few contemporary books I picked up this year, and the language was so rich that I lost myself in the first few chapters for days. I’m so woefully ignorant of Jewish culture that his speculative vision of Alaska was a completely original fantasy world to me, and was lovely, as cold as he made it.
-I’m thankful for Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerilla, two small companies practicing an underappreciated art. I couldn’t have a more satisfying hobby from intellectual studies than cheering on men in underwear as they slap each other.
-I’m thankful for, an alternative to that, with its primarily black layout, conserves hundreds of thousands of watt-hours. If you don’t know what a watt-hour is, blackle it.
-I’m thankful to everyone who has ever held the door for anyone else. I’ve done it hundreds of times this year, but the two times other people did it for me were wonderfully pleasant surprises.
-I’m thankful I wasn’t killed when that tornado struck in the middle of my morning walk. Since I did most of the running, I guess I’m mostly thankful to myself for that one.
-Of course, I’m thankful to everyone who did me a kindness this year. I won’t embarrass them by listing them, but they know who they are. You can’t really thank somebody for putting a roof over your head one night or providing Thanksgiving dinner, after you’ve thanked people for holding doors. There is still quite a bit of good in this world. Thank goodness.-Fuck it, yes you can. Thanks Mom, Rene, grandpa and grandma (these two are, ironically, not related), Shelly, Jemma, Nick, Nat, Paddywack, Give the Dog a Bone (I had to), GregH, Cassie, Deirdre, Alec, Lunchbox, Teri, Lorenzo, Serin, Kathleen, Red, the funny looking lady at the plaza, Jack/Neal, Max, and that literary agent who provided absolutely no useful advice other than to use blogspot. And thanks to everyone else who’s slipped my mind as I try to post something before I run out the door so the realtor can show the house.

Bathroom Monologue: Room for Seconds

"The second coming of Christ was another immaculate conception, to another Mary. However this time the Mary was a lesbian. Her partner, Josephine, didn't take the news well at first. She thought Mary had cheated on her, and harbored doubts until their baby boy turned his bathwater to merlot. Things were going to be different this time, especially the conversions."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bathroom Monologue: "Pakistan needs to be more pro-Western" -Pundit on ABC Radio

"You're right. We'll go stop using the wheel and the number zero immediately. What has the West made that we can replace it with? Small pox? Perfect. But also, could you define "West" for us? Because Africa is west of us. Actually, everything is west if you go far enough. The world is a spheroid, if you haven't heard. We sort of figured that out in 600 B.C., though we'll pretend the world's flat if it'll solve all our problems."

Bathroom Monologue: 'Till Tailgating Do Us Part

" My wife and I can't drive together. She is insane. She'd rather look at anything instead of the road. A pretty house. A pasture. The clouds. Like she doesn't see clouds when we're home? There'll be a car weaving in front of her and she'll be looking at the condos. And when I'm driving, she's constantly pointing out things for me to look at. Apparently that mansion is more interesting than the sharp turn ahead. I'm not taking anything from her. She's been in seven accidents, and the last one cost $3,000 to repair. She says, "Well I've been driving every day for the last ten years, and only been in accidents on seven of them." I say, "You've been working for twenty years. How many days have you made $3,000?" We'll be divorced by Easter. "

Bathroom Monologue: "You can't be neutral on a moving train." -Howard Zinn

"Of course you can't be neutral on a moving train, you idiot. It's a moving train. But a train moves in one direction. If you walk backwards you still move in the same aggregate direction as the train, merely slower than the other passengers. You can't go left or right unless you jump off, in which case you'll probably kill yourself, and if you survive you'll be stuck in the middle of the wilderness. And then you'll probably have to walk in the same direction the train was going, following its tracks, to get to civilization so that someone can look at your broken arm. You'd have to derail the thing, killing several passengers, just to get it to deviate from the tracks a little, and seconds after derailing it doesn't go anywhere at all. It’ll be neutral."
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