Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: The man behind the curtain paused a moment, and cleared his throat

You see, language chases after reality. Action does not describe words. Words are assigned to action, and they follow after it. Some of us, the thinkers, philosophers and assholes, try to make sense out of action through words. Some of us, the journalists, storytellers and liars, try to convey what happened through words. Some of us, the truly insane, try to tell what happened and assign meaning to what happened through words. We speak and we write to share a part of the human experience that theatre and film cannot, those aspects of thought and observation that are not shared in a visual recreation. It can be funny, it can be heartbreaking, it can be horrifying, but it ought always to be genuine. It is an act of creation that has nothing to do with gender, and an act of mind that has nothing to do with I.Q. Disagree? Oh, there are a lot of dumb writers who lived more interesting lives than smart types. If they're too intimidated to share or improve, whose fault is it? It's skiing down parallel structure, friends, observing what makes things go perpendicular. It is math, as it is music, as it is theatre - it's what happened that night at the theatre, the memorial service thereafter, and the strife the nation went through. It's what the country became without Lincoln. It's what the country became without McKinley. It's what the country became without Kennedy. Without two Kennedys. In fact, it's what we all became, becoming, coming from somewhere, going to somewhere. It's walking, though walking isn't the movement of a body along a plane by way of its legs. Walking is a verb, and that describes just a tiny part of the world. It's words chasing worlds. And if you remember that, you'll have the humility a writer needs. Probably not the publishing deal, though.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Behind every great dog is a carpet with no stains

"Behind every great man is a great woman. Except behind every great gay man, behind whom I guess there must have been some very disappointing woman. And behind every great woman must have been a father who was too busy trying to be a great man to be a decent father. Behind every great father? Probably a bunch of things he did in his twenties that he's praying his daughters won't find out about."

Bathroom Monologues: What about the pink bits under my nails?

" It's recently come to my attention that presidential hopeful Barack Obama is not black. I was very surprised, given his skin color. Apparently "blackness" is not defined by fleshtones (which is nice to learn, since that is really kind of brown), but instead is defined by having ancestors who were brought over from Africa to the Americas as slaves. Given this revelation, I believe there are further steps that need to be taken in political correctness. For instance, I am not "white." Not only is my skin a pale beige affair with a spattering of sandy taupe freckles, but I have never appreciated being lumped in with the "white group." Hereafter I will not accept your ignorance when you call my people by this inaccurate term. Hereafter, "white people" are only those who owned, shipped and/or bought Africans and their descendents as slaves in the Americas. My lineage comes from Irish and Slavic immigrants, who not only arrived on the continent after slavery was abolished, but who had their own historical horror stories that have gone lamentably ignored because the oppressors and oppressed had the same skin color. Also interesting to note is that there were Africans and African descendents in the Americas who owned, used and abused slaves - the descendents of these Africans and African Americans will hereafter be called "white." Remember, it's not about skin color. It's about the truth. Though there may be some kind of truth about the inane labels we use to culturally segregate each other that I'm missing. Still, I'm sure we'll figure it out once somebody comes up with a color-appropriate, character-inappropriate name for whatever Mr. Obama is. I'm also pretty sure somebody will come up with one and put it in commercials before the 2008 presidential race. "

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Back home we call a broken telescope "a stick"

On a blue planet somewhere in the dull end of the universe, there exists a species of dwarf giants. They reside on the brown and green spots on this largely blue planet; some scientists suggest this is because the dwarf giants live on irony, though empirical data suggests they live rather on water and lesser-evolved lifeforms. They aren't very spectacular, only slightly scientifically inclined, and not at all spiritually or athletically inclined. Even their smartest thinkers only come close to realizing the limits of logic's practicality. They cannot fly high in the skies or dive deep in the oceans without devices, which is unspecial because anything can fly or dive given a task-specific device. They think themselves very clever for inventing these devices. Any tourists interested in visiting the dwarf giants are advised to keep their distance and only approach those natives who are intoxicated with any of the various mildly poisonous chemicals they ingest in order to forget their problems, pretend they live somewhere else, or to kill an afternoon. The dwarf giants love their poisonous chemicals almost as much as they enjoy pretending they know more about the universe than they actually do. It doesn't matter what they're wrong about or how wrong they are; they're determined to be determined. Despite their attempts to build mechanical tubes that will fire a couple of them (mind you that there are over six billion dwarf giants on the planet) into space for a few days, and despite all the riches made by natives who religiously, philosophically and scientifically try to divine the universe as a whole, much of their work is introverted. They show a great propensity at killing and coming onto each other; these are such great aptitudes that they will soon be incorporated into the encyclopedia definition for these creatures, supplanting the illustration. Even their humor is introverted, largely focused at each other in decreasingly amiable and increasingly hateful forms, pointing out the baselessness of everything that any other dwarf giants enjoy or rely on to make it through life. Our researchers suggest that this may be the first empirically-observed example of entropy in stand-up comedy, which has made for some wildly interesting anthropological papers, but gets a lot less funny after a while.

Bathroom Monologue: Step 309, and how it went awry

Now that we knew the demographics for our criminal organization, we set out to exploit them. Since at least 72% of potential employees were grossly overweight men who worked either in tech support or videogame stores, we made t-shirts with our terrifying yet simple logo part of the standard attire for all employees instead of the more standard jumpsuits. They're a lot cheaper to mass produce. It was Jacob Wrathstein's idea to charge each employee for his clothing, and his wife's brilliant idea to provide only Medium and XXL sizes, with the Medium running $15 and the XXL running at $75. We dreamed of profits, but unfortunately all we got were snarky, overweight minions of evil in really tight t-shirts.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: "Shakespeare is Old School!" –A professor who thought she was hipper than she actually was

William Shakespeare: Old school

Homer: Pre-school

Norman Mailer: Private school

James Patterson: Public school

Emily Dickinson: Home school

Saint Augustine: Sunday school

JFK's Profiles in Courage: New School

Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage: Medical school

Periodic Tables: Elementary school

George Orwell: Educational software

Aesop: Lecture series

J.K. Rowling: Recess

Smoking in the Boy's Bathroom: Hunter S. Thompson

Ernest Hemingway: Tour of duty to pay for college

Dante Alighieri: Semester abroad

Ken Kesey: Dropping out

Upton Sinclair: On the job training

Charles Darwin: Field work term

John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton: Senior thesis

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Masters degree

Nostradamus: Ranting guy on the street corner

Bathroom Monologue: Call it Fantasy if it makes you feel better; Hell, call it a Romantic Comedy if it makes you feel better

He is the god of atheism. There might as well be one. There was a god of war, a god of love, a god of the river on the other side of town, so why not a god of atheism? And it's not like he cares if his followers believe in him. Why would he? Their own disbelief feeds his power. The god of Christianity and the god of Islam are strong, supping upon so much faith, but there is no god that consumes so much as the one for whom belief and disbelief are the same. Better still, he doesn't have to play propaganda. If he doesn't care whether you worship, he sure doesn't care how you behave. Where the god of Judaism sent book after book of laws to get the world He wanted out of the little free-willed animals, the god of atheism only needs one thing: doubt. And doubt is to faith what shadow is to substance; the latter cannot exist without casting the former. So even if the entire world's population could be coerced into believing in deities, each little praying boy and girl would still feed him. Everyone who believes in anything is afraid that they're wrong. It's probably because he feeds on that fear that the god of atheism is so often mistaken for the Devil. Trust me, they're not the same, though they do eat lunch together more often than Moses and Jesus do.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: But there are two hydrogen atoms to each one of oxygen...

"This is like the nature/nurture debate. It's insipid. Hey, your body is made up of organs, made up of cells, made up of molecules, made up of elements. The brain that stores nurtured features is natural. You're all-natural. But you're also all-nurtural. You couldn't speak language without nurture - you were taught words. You couldn't read novels, or write them. Human culture, invention, technology, science - the study of nature is a tradition, a product of the nurture-end. Our species gathering and synthesizing enough information on nature to have an opinion of how nature influences us is a product of nurture. To even have the discussion requires nurture, and to have nurture requires nature. You cannot separate nurture and nature and still have a person. Which one is essential? Both are! It's like arguing whether the hydrogen or oxygen atoms are more important to a water molecule: take either away, and you don't have water anymore. In fact, you may have fission. Ask Hiroshima how fun that is."

Bathroom Monologue: Ain't never gonna get another date with her

So this girl hounded me for weeks, said I didn't complain enough. Knew there had to be something wrong in my life that I was hiding. She complained all the time, and couldn't understand why I just wanted to kick my feet up and laugh. So one night I turned around and told her everything I don't usually talk about. It stopped her dead in her tracks. Stopped, she got to nagging on me. Said, "You spent a decade trying to fix it, couldn't and gave up? That's awful. How can you do that?" I put my feet up on the desk and said, "Like this." And she kept nagging. "That's like staying in Hell and saying you like the scenery." And I shrugged, "Well, the scenery is nice, but I stay for the company."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Got to write this idea out before someone steals it

The soundtrack of my life steals liberally from those anime shows with all the overdeveloped schoolgirls; you know, the really cheery, sugary songs that make you want to kill yourself. They don't make me suicidal. They just match my grin.

The soundtrack also has a lot of rock music in there. I've probably driven to "Them Bones" by Alice in Chains and "Live for the Moment" by Monster Magnet for more hours than I've listened to those songs on CD.

Every morning, my distinct opening theme is the anthem from the Godzilla movies. It's a wish fulfillment as hundreds of tons of mountainside (my blanket) slide off me and I begin my trek towards Tokyo (the bathroom). Oh, and the theme from Peanuts. That one occurs at least once a day in my life, even when I'm a pallbearer.

Some songs make more infrequent cameos. I'm pretty sure I've walked through Wal-Mart to the Imperial March from Star Wars. I know I’ve shoveled snow to the Uruk-Hai theme from Lord of the Rings (those Hobbits are probably in the next snow drift - why did we have to have an up-hill Moria?).

It's kind of funny that there's all that Seatbelts and Devin Townsend in the soundtrack of my life, given that I tend to write to Tchaikovsky or Mozart. Not that the playlist doesn't cycle to tracks from 28 Days Later and Silent Hill eventually - but hey, the background music from horror movies usually puts me in a good mood.

Good mood music is usually in the background when I'm shopping, walking or whatever else takes me out into public. Not on an iPod. Just on my soul (which I still need to upgrade). It's my contribution to a world that is overburdened with the sound of violins, or so the frowns of all those strangers sound to me.

Bathroom Monologue: There's only two things guaranteed in life: death and taxes

-Hope no one sees what you're doing
-Be at a point when you really should care about something (bank screwed up your balance yet again, girlfriend sleeping with your bestfriend, etc.), but don't
-Hold an incorrect opinion
-Come up with a clever retort hours after you lost the argument
-Think or feel someone else is utterly stupid for not thinking or feeling the way you do

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Peace of Mind

The ultimate swordsman was, of course, a woman. Violet Diamon was her name, and her sword was forged at the heart of the world. She taught the likes of Burning River and Egal Vineguard, but even her most heroic pupils fear their teacher. Violet claimed she could do anything with a sword, from cooking and painting, to balancing her checkbook and negotiating contracts. According to Burning River, she was particularly good at balancing her checkbook whenever she had the banker at swordpoint. There was no warrior of any gender or nationality who could bring her down; a draw in fencing against Violet was considered a great success. In fact, she was so wise in the ways of the blade that she could cut down a man without even unsheathing her sword. If there was one thing she could have changed about her life, she told her last pupils on her final night, it was, "that the whole sheathed striking technique was a metaphor for pacifism. Men."

Bathroom Monologue: Does anyone check these things?

More people can probably point out Superman and Lex Luthor than the Senate Pro Temps and the Speaker of the House. It's for this reason that I ask if anyone else has noticed a disturbing trend in our world. Gene Hackman, who played Lex Luthor in Superman 1, 2 and 4, is the spokesman for Lowes Home Improvement Centers and the Oppenheimer Funds investment firm. Now sure he's had other roles, but he isn't the only Lex Luthor who's gone on to become a spokesman for American values and low prices. Kevin Spacey, the Luthor of the recent Superman Returns, is the voice of Honda's commercials. He cut his girlfriend's breaklines in a 2006 movie, and yet he's still shilling these cars. Even Clancy Brown, who plotted to destroy the earth as the voice of Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, was the voice of the Ridgeline commercials and the spokesman for Home Depot. Meanwhile, where are the Supermen? George Reeves, the Superman of the famous 1950's television series, killed himself. Christopher Reeve, our most iconic Superman actor, was paralyzed by a horse. How often does that freaking happen? How do the Lex Luthors become commercial icons and the Supermen fall from the sky? Does anyone check these things?
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