Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Fawcett Vs. Jackson, OR, I'm probably going to Hell now

The difference between the dead is subtle. Michael Jackson shuttled young boys to his mansion so he could touch them. Farrah Fawcett sold her picture to young boys so they could touch themselves. The difference was customer service.

Scheduled Post Problem

I apologize for stories going up late on here. For over a week now Blogspot has had some glitches. I have several weeks of stories scheduled to go up at 9:00 AM. Blogspot simply isn't posting them. Google claims it's fixed. They are wrong. It's happening on dozens of other blogs, too, though their Help forum is so obtuse that everyone can't gather to tally how many blogs are affected.

Bathroom Monologue: Constant Change

[GARY and SAMID sit on one side of the booth, both wearing bright pink tuxedos. ARYANA sits opposite to them in a powder blue chainmail business suit. Her tie is made of folded steel. GRUFF STOVER sits beside her, leaning against the window, wearing tactical camouflage that disguises his body as part of the setting. Only GRUFF’s head is visible.]

Gary: If you don’t experiment, nothing changes.

Samid: I disagree. If you don’t experiment, you have less information with which to change things. Experimentation helps you shape change.

Gary: I think the dinosaurs didn’t experiment on giant rocks, and meteors still changed them out of existence.

Gruff: I don’t think funding rock research would have shaped that annihilation much.

Aryana: The meteor theory is bunk. Disease killed them off.

Samid: If we don’t experiment, we’ll never find which of those two theories are more valid.

Gruff: So people won’t be able to change their opinions.

Gary: Oh, people have always been able to change their opinions without information. That’s what daytime talk shows are for.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Words in Tribute to In Tribute to Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker

If there is a piece of art that has influenced the Bathroom Monologues, I lament that it is not a short-short. It is not microfiction, flash fiction or shotgun fiction. It’s not prose or poetry – it’s not in print at all. The seminal piece of art in the Bathroom Canon is a sculpture.

It is Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker.

If I were a good writer I would lie about the origins of my affections. They would come from values instilled by parents, a deep spiritual connection made upon visiting it at a museum, or from some overwhelming burble of art history.

Instead, the origins of my affections come from Dobey Gillis. It was a black and white sitcom on Nick At Nite about an unusually introspective student. Dobey often opened the show by breaking the fourth wall and talking about issues that weighed on his mind, usually in front of a replica of The Thinker. Dobey, diminutive and not terribly bright, mimicked its position as though in religious ritual. Ever afterwards it was a monolith to thought that could inspire and be emulated by mere mortals like my ten-year-old self. I got the religion of Rodin from Dobey Gillis.

I got A.D.D. from genes, which meant whenever I assumed this position, or began the deep thoughts I associated with the statue, it didn’t last long. So these thoughts would be brief, just long enough to provide a little mental satisfaction. A little contemplation on why Skeletor didn’t save up several of his apocalyptic plans and hatch them at once, since He-Man could barely overcome any one of them given nothing else to do. A little contemplation on whether the bearded giant God my grandparents believed in really was in the flower outside the window since they said He was in all things. And a little contemplation on why Nick At Nite started so late.

The prototype for short-short fiction, don’t you think?

It’s funny because The Thinker wasn’t originally an independent statue. It was meant to be at the top and center of Rodin’s Gates of Hell, a tribute to Dante Allighieri’s Divine Comedy. The Thinker himself was originally to be The Poet, a reference to Dante himself. A version of him can be seen in that massive sculpture, perched just above the break in the double doors, surrounded by naked ladies and looking at the demons emerging from the frame. Think about that. Our culture really has taken a pickaxe to chastity, hasn’t it?

No man, woman or child who isn’t told that was what Rodin meant has ever looked at that sculpture for the first time and thought, “He’s pondering the nature of Dante’s Hell.” Maybe he’s considering a lost love, maybe it’s legal reform, or maybe he’s just taking a dump and has some form of Hell on the mind – but the exact origin has lived independent in the art since it was made. And separate, it has inspired more wonder than Rodin’s complete Gates of Hell entirely. The one man statue has become personal art that begs individual thought. Hell, it’s become the icon.

But think about that again. The Thinker is just one tiny bit, a brief snatch of the grand design reflecting the Italian epic poem. It is the Bathroom Monologue of sculpture. A microcosm torn from the whole, and frayed in context, inspiring more than it is. It’s a shame I can’t chisel words as well as Rodin did his idea.

I’m so taken with the statue that for a good year I intended to photograph myself in such a pose on the toilet as the author portrait for these Bathroom Monologues. What a visual pun it would be. But any time I got the nerve to request a digital camera, a consortium of parts of my brain jumped and beat the crap out of me. You see, there are some puns that even I will not make, and most of those have to do with dragging someone else down. A lot of the time I don’t mind making an ass out of myself, but to do it to someone or something I revere? Doing so will cause me to go somewhere alone, put an elbow on a knee and reflect many of the worst emotions that people have projected onto The Thinker. The offense I might give, even to an unthinking hunk of rock a continent away, will put me before my own Gates of Hell.

Skilled biographers will analyze the use of puns and cheap metaphors in the above paragraph to psychoanalyze me. I request they do it in an original pose.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


joined twitter today. text limit is constrictive. won't do much fiction there but

But thankfully this isn't Twitter. I won't do much fiction in their 140-character universe, but it is a good hub for personal updates, news and links. I try to keep the Bathroom Monologues neat and feel uncomfortable advertising what blogs I read, where I get my news, what games I'm playing, my favorite writers and comedians, net resources and funny videos. Twitter is also a more efficient place to link any potential readers to my longer works, provided they get accepted. I have eight floating around at six different places right now. Here's hoping.

You can follow me at

Bathroom Monologue: Freewrite on blind quote, "loves labors lost"

When love goes into labor, you lose. Love is fun and sticky before then, but only sticky thereafter, and sticky alone is a love that one cannot abide. In labor, love will grab you by the hair and bite through the towel wrapped around your hand. Love will look and sound surprisingly like hate, especially if you make eye contact. Love is helped substantially by an epidural. Love's labor is a labor you must lose. Do not fight back. Abandon your feelings and any rational argument; being right in her time of labor will only make love lose it, and perhaps let loose with an I.V. drip stand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Previously On as a Regular Serial?

You've probably noticed that today's monologue is a direct sequel to last Wednesday's. I think it's about time some of the Bathroom Monologues crossed over - so many brief scenes and character sketches that I bet most of you thought would never go anywhere. But I'm curious if any of you actually want to see more of this. Please leave comments on whether you'd like to see more, or if this should stay a shorter and more random house of prose.

Long time close readers of the Bathroom Monologues will be unsurprised to find Apollo is the villain.

Or is he?

Bathroom Monologue: Previously On #002

A girl went to a diner because she was hungry, not because gravity had disappeared.

And some gods formed a poker group.

And now...

Wendy waited for her pancakes. She spent the time playing with the slack in her tether. She hardly needed the whole chord and found she could bunch it up to practice shoelace knots. She’d need that skill someday.

Up in one corner of the diner was a TV, tuned to the news. There a female reporter in a plain suit was clearly trying not to freak out as she interviewed a man whose entire house was covered in cushions. Apparently he’d built expansions, too, so that he could get the mailbox. How the cushions and the expansions were linked, neither Wendy nor the reporter could figure. A belt fastened a pillow to his head, making it difficult to hear the questions, and so he kept returning to his declaration that he had seen something like this coming. He blamed it on an underwear company.

The man who entered was easily the most interesting one Wendy had seen today, passing even pillow-man from TV. He looked like he had been spray painted gold and was very proud of it, for he wore only a white thong and some leaves behind his ears. His blond hair looked downright shabby next to his flesh, so toned he could have passed for a giant Oscar statue.

He passed Wendy’s table with his nose turned up, walking regally, as though he weren’t doing something wrong by being naked here, but that everyone in the diner was experiencing the privilege of seeing him. It was like he owned the world, and maybe he did, because he didn’t have any trouble staying on the ground today.

The door to the kitchen opened and the waitress with one eye stared at him a moment.

“Honey,” she said with a light blush. “We're a free-thinking diner so you can wear whatever you want, but the floor is a little grimy for bare feet. Might want some sandals."

He waved her off with a gilded hand, and she returned to the kitchen muttering something about how he could wait for a menu.

He stopped by the group of old men in battered clothes, placing his fingertips on their table. The crow on the old man’s shoulder hopped off, flapping to the windowsill. It eyed him. So did all the men.

Wendy struggled with her tether and crept a couple of booths closer to eavesdrop.

"I want his account," said the golden man in a voice that made her ears feel warm.

"You want all of our accounts, you glory-whore," said the man nearest to Wendy. He had long, white hair and a beard like Santa Claus. The rest of him was un-Santa-like. There was what looked like chain mail under his jacket and he wore a patch over one eye, though the scars of whatever had taken it were visible around its edges. Wendy wondered if he was related to the waitress.

The golden man curled his fingers into fists. Wendy didn’t know if he knew this, but when he got angry his butt clenched in an unflattering way.

"I've been working with the sun since the world began. Attractive forces were never properly claimed in the Greek pantheon as it was. There’s an opening and I can handle it."

The raven kawed in the golden man’s direction. Everyone in the booth looked at it intently. A man further down the booth, this one black and very thin, nodded as though agreeing with the bird.

"Raven’s got a point. This is why no one likes you, Apollo. Athena is out there trying to get him some therapy. Demeter and that nymph-boy son of hers are covertly rescuing people from floating into the ionosphere. You? You just want to serve yourself."

The man with the eye-patch added, "You're pretty much the god of serving yourself."

The black man straightened so he could look the golden one at eye level. “If anyone is going to take over his account, it’s me. I pretty much designed this universe.”

“So you say.” The golden man sniffed. “But Gaia, Jehovah and a Peruvian fisherman all make the same claims. Bottom line is Gravity gave up.”

"He has not given up on the world entirely. The planet is still clearly in a fixed orbit around the sun. This is a punishment against men."

"And women."

"Gravity's been punishing women ever since they lived to hit middle age."

The raven kawed and they all chuckled guiltily. Even the golden man laughed, then looked around like he was worried someone had seen him do it. Wendy ducked behind the booth.

“We’re being watched,” he said in his warm voice. Even scared of being caught, Wendy felt that cloying warmth. It ran from her ears to everywhere.

“Humans always watch our work,” said one of the men. Wendy thought it was Eye-patch. “It’s how the mythology gets going. Now settle in or bug out, Apollo. If you want to be the new God of Gravity, play him for it at the next poker meet.”

“Gravity doesn’t play cards with the universe.”

The raven kawed and all the voices of the booth laughed. All but the warm voice of the golden man. He turned and walked away. Wendy saw his scowl come around the edge of the booth.

“You’re lucky,” he said, eyeing her. Now his words weren’t merely warm. They were a fever. “If Odin wasn’t around, I’d turn you into a plant.”

“This isn’t that kind of diner,” came a female voice. The waitress came over with a tall stack of pancakes on one arm, the other hand clasping the counter near the cash register. The lack of gravity was still giving her trouble, but a lifetime of handling trays had given her a good sense of balance.

“Why don’t you leave the underage girl alone and get out of here before I call the cops?”

“I think they’re busy today,” he answered, but he was already leaving. When he exited the door Wendy looked out the window for him. He was nowhere.

The waitress set the plate down before Wendy. A few pancakes drifted up, but the waitress skewered them on a fork and pushed them down. She handed Wendy a knife to go with the fork and asked, “You want maple or strawberry syrup, honey?”

On the TV, the man with the house of pillows was offering the reporter a throw cushion.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Unknowable Skill

Tristina and Willem knew how large the baby would grow from the size of his hands and feet, and the duration and difficulty of the labor. They knew what his voice would become from the pitch of his cries for the tit. Before he had developed will or reason, they read to him from the classics, and only fed him a butterscotch when he could name the author of a randomly selected passage. So they treated him to sweets, but fed him culture and dignity, and he grew quite large.

Thirty years hence he was the tallest man in the parliament, with the longest strides and the furthest echoing voice. No man could shy from his gaze in debate. They instinctively feared him in the most cordial settings, struck by the irrational intimidation of a man who would never unholster his pistol, but who had one nonetheless. It was pearl-handled, a gift from his parents.

He became Minister of Affairs, and his acceptance speech brought wives and children to tears. Even the partisan press applauded. When asked why he was such a great orator, he said he didn’t know. Old Tristina overheard the answer and rolled her eyes at Heaven, hoping somewhere Willem was rolling them down.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: As Many As the Beast

“Right now you’re wondering why the beast is on my side. I mean, you’re wondering a lot: how I got into your bedroom, how long before the beast devours all of your watchmen, and certainly why both the prince and the beast are both alive. I’d wonder such things, with the sword were to my neck. But back when you tricked the beast into kidnapping my bride and I hunted it down for vengeance, we had a talk. It’s remarkably reasonable for a man-eater. When I’d stabbed it right about where I’ve stabbed you now, it opened a dialogue. We wondered if two folk as driven to the destruction of their antagonists as we couldn’t have better enterprises for our energies. If I could kill him and he could kill my entire hunting party, then what could we accomplish together? And it’s days like this when we’ve brought down your entire castle and managed to get inside your panic room that we really realize that potential. We’re much better at rescuing princesses together than competing over them. Now, if you would be so kind… where is my bride? Or should I poke the other kidney? I doubt you have as many to spare as my friend.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: All-Father’s Day

Just before sunrise God came down into the Foyer of Heaven, shaking something at St. Peter. Peter was the only one on duty at the time.

"He... He..." stammered the omniscient entity. Peter perked up, straightening his uniform.


"It's a Father's Day card!"

God thrust the card at St. Peter. On it, two bears held fishing poles. One bear was bigger and wore a fishing hat.

"Look at it. A dad and a son bear!"

"That's... good, Lord."

When St. Peter did not show the appropriate enthusiasm, God repeated, "It's a Father's Day card!"

Peter tapped his record book, then his eyebrows perked.

"Father's Day! He finally wrote to you?"

"I thought he'd never get over that," said God, clutching the card to His omnipotent chest. "But he says he's close to forgiving Me. You know, about that earth business."

"Forgiveness was one of his big things, Lord."

"I know, but some matters you just can't believe until you see them."

He reviewed the picture on the card, then the message inside and laughed until all the clouds shook. Then he pushed it at Peter again.

"See? The father bear is teaching him how to fish rather than giving him one. It's a family in-joke. Get it?"

Peter smiled meekly enough to inherit the earth.

"Yes, Lord."

God left the hall, babbling something about it being the best Father's Day since Adam moved out. He was in such a good mood that Queen played over Heaven's loud speakers for the first time in decades. The first song was, of course, "It's a Miracle."
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