Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Born Elsewhere

“No one should be born in this city. No one should grow up with all these museums, this food, these hospitals and cabs to take you everywhere. There’s always traffic, but you can get anywhere faster here than in a dirt town in the middle of nowhere. No child should grow up thinking this is the way it is in the rest of the world, or this is the way it should be everywhere, or that in some way they deserve this. They should grow up in Kansas or an Ottawa suburb or a Brazilian lumberjack village. Anywhere but here. Fix everything out there, but make them grow up there. Let them come here as adults, with dreams and strong bodies. Let them work for everything. Let them intern and temp and struggle to make purchase in the concrete jungle. Let everyone earn this place and it will be a miracle. Let them grow up here, grow poisoned and drunk on luxuries uncommon in the rest of the world, and no one will believe in miracles.”

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: In the Nature of Scorpions and Tortoises

The tortoise was just coming to shore when the scorpion scuttled by. It stopped in the pebbles and waited for the tortoise to approach.

“Pardon me,” said the scorpion, “but could I have a ride to the other side of the river?”

“I don’t know,” said the tortoise. “I am going back there this evening, but I heard there are some very shapely turtles sunning up by the road on this side. I wanted to ogle them.”

“That is a noble cause, but I hear there are some very shapely scorpions over on the other side of the river. I’ve never seen the shape of a scorpion over there, you know. Lived here all my life.”

“That is a shame,” said the tortoise, trying not to look the scorpion in the face. Unfortunately at their level, there was very little else to look at.

“As someone with the gift of aquatic travel, I hoped you would see fit to help a brother out.”

“How long is a scorpion lifespan again?”

“Not impressively long. I’d very much like to ogle a decent scorpion before I die.”

“Well…”

“You’re not afraid, are you?”

The tortoise stirred. “No. What?”

“Good. There’s a terrible stereotype about scorpions stabbing people with the least temptation. Only rednecks believe in it.”

Scorpions can be very pushy, and any tortoise hates being called a bigot. He wound up rationalizing out loud. “Well, it’ll only be a minute. I’ve been swimming a lot faster lately. Cardio training from a race with a rabbit.”

“Is that so?” the scorpion inquired as he scurried up the tortoise’s shell. He paused at the top, his tail quivering.

The tortoise eyed him. Since scorpions have much more complicated eyes, he couldn’t tell if the scorpion was staring back at him.

They dipped into the water. The scorpion’s legs coiled inward as though he were dying.

“Are you alright?” asked the tortoise.

“I’ve never been over water before. I guess I’m nervous.”

The tortoise could not tell, but it seemed the scorpion was staring at his shell. He swam a little faster.

“Are you licking your lips?”

“I don’t have lips. I’m an arachnid.”

His tail bobbed, as though nodding in agreement. With every bob the thorny tip drew closer.

“Almost there,” said the tortoise.

The tail drew as far up as possible. It quivered for an instant.

“I’m sorry,” gasped the scorpion.

“Sorry for what?”

“It’s my nature!”

The scorpion struck down with all his might. His barb snapped against the tortoise’s shell.

“Oh, is that your nature?” asked the tortoise. “Mine’s a carapace.”

They didn’t talk for the rest of the trip. The scorpion got off with his head down, and the tortoise barely looked at him. He slipped back into the water with a mutter that sounded like, “Dumb ass.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Capital Idea (An Interview)

"So your country is one of the few with the death penalty."

"Yes."

"But your country hasn't used it in six years, including all four years that you have been in office."

"Yes. We're very proud of that."

"You're on the record as saying you don't want anyone to die at the hands of the state?"

"Yes. I believe very firmly in that."

"Then why hasn't your administration made any efforts to repeal the death penalty?"

“Why would we repeal it?”

“If you don’t want anyone to die at the hands of the state, why retain a policy that allows the state to kill?”

“For reason’s sake. If anyone does something worth capital punishment, I will use the full force of my office to execute it. Everyone in my country knew what I meant when I said I didn’t want anyone to die at the hands of the state. Did others not?”

“Perhaps. Can you elaborate?”

“That I don’t want anyone to do anything so reprehensible that my country would have to exercise capital punishment. It’s an issue of fundamental politeness.”

“So you don’t consider international appeals for your country to repeal the death penalty?”

“I listen to them, but they don’t understand how our country works. That law is part of our identity. Everyone obeys it and so it hasn’t been used in six years. The people are responsible and don’t need to be punished. The government is responsible and ensures due process.”

"What if someone else came to power and abused it?"

"Then we'd execute him."

"If he was in your office?"

"Abuse of office is one of the crimes that carries the death penalty, and deservedly so. The Hague has shown many brutal dictators that they will eventually be out of power, and in a stable country like ours, he will eventually be deposed, if not by arms, then by term limits."

"But his successor might be a sympathizer, aided into office by the tyrant."

"Eventually one successor will not be, though."

"Your country would execute multiple former office holders?"

"There's a Comedy about that coming this Fall. Our nation has a blossoming film industry."

"Execution of high office holders would seem brutal in many other countries."

"To eliminate the death penalty would be to eliminate the punishment for unjustly putting people to death. A leader can always abuse power to kill citizens, but the death penalty suggests retaliation. As chief of state, I appreciate it. It keeps a man more honest."

"Would you be more likely to abuse your office if capital punishment were not in place?"

-Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of our interview-



(…Which is actually a dodge. I’m not going to publish his reply any time soon. But I’d very much like your guesses. How do you think he’ll answer? How do you want him to answer? Please leave a guess in the Comments section.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Monster Eaters

"You don't hire a hero to kill your monster. You hope for one, but heroes don't work for hire and are highly unreliable. Any generation gets three-to-five really good heroes in comparison to, what? Hundreds of banshees and ghosts? Heroes are busy. When one doesn't show up and save the day, you hire another monster. We're cannibals. Monster eaters. A troll will smash a lycan, and a demon will happily burn down your haunted house. Ogres will eat ogres and, when bribed, vampires will drink their own. But you don't feel comfortable running into the hills and auditioning dragons. I understand that. That's why I opened up business. This hair cut? These clothes? Learning the English language? My signs of good faith to you. Your signs of good faith should be at the bottom of the check. If I die, your check never gets cashed. If your village tries to chase me with so much as one pitchfork after I rip the head off old Grendel, though? You better add another zero to the check."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Murphy’s Sister’s Law

An undocumented law of the universe, and serious evidence for the existence of prankster gods, is Murphy’s Sister’s Law. Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Murphy’s Sister’s Law states that anything that does go wrong and remains frustratingly wrong has a high likelihood of going right as soon as you get somebody else to look at it. If Murphy spends an hour trying to get Microsoft Word to open, and no amount of double clicking and rebooting helps him, then the instant he calls his sister over to look at it, Word will spring into action, acting innocent and perfect.

The law holds for more than computing. How many times has a mechanic found nothing wrong with your car when you know he wanted to charge you for something exorbitant? How many times was there one thing you missed in a Math problem that you didn’t notice was there until somebody pointed it out? And there’s the mother of all Murphy’s Sister’s Cases: somebody opening a jar of anything in seconds when you spent minutes wringing your shirt around the lid. Murphy’s Sister apparently loved food that came in jars.

Murphy’s Law has long been considered odd, given how many times it clearly does not execute. Anything that can go wrong usually doesn’t; things go right all the time, which is why we recognize when they go wrong. We get frustrated because this one thing (or these few things) refuses to go right so we can ignore it like the million things that are constantly going right. Murphy’s Sister’s Law serves to illustrate that sometimes things going right can be even more annoying than them going wrong. Like art, it’s all a matter of timing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quilted For Your Pleasure: Third Opinion



Quilted For Your Pleasure is now a regular weekly comic. We'll bring you one every Sunday, in proper comics fashion. Click the above image to view today's comic.

It was composed in the bathroom by John Wiswell. He has a fanatical hatred of children.

It was drawn by Max Cantor. He is an enabler.
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