Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: The Happier Genre

“There are thoughts. We have the Slasher sub-genre. There is an entire class of film devoted to a person murdering his way through a slew of people. Dozens have been made every year since the eighties, and yet I can’t name a single movie that’s about happiness all the time. One single Florist sub-genre film, where some guy with a burlap sack over his head stalks a slew of people, corners each of them and hands over a carefully-selected bouquet. Somebody will tell me that conflict is essential to stories, and I’ll say how do you know if you’ve never seen one without it? And somebody will tell me that real life is suffering and angst and taxes and waiting in line, and I’ll say, I’m only sure that’s true when I’m stuck listening to you. We’ve got umpteen movies about hardship during a World War. We’ve got umpteen movies about unhappy people who only glimpse happiness before the credits roll. These movies cheat. I dare you to make one movie about a good time.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Dawn Defines

She defined love for me every morning at 5:00 AM. My parents couldn't afford an alarm clock, so we rose on hers. I knew at least three other families - one in our tenement, two in hers - that did the same. While my brothers fought for the hot water, I scurried over to the window. I called her Dawn.

She was appropriately blonde, the downiest stuff you ever saw. Nostalgia’s probably colored my memory. It does that without asking. If you asked my little self, she was incomparable, an angel in threadbare linens. Most mornings I didn't catch sight of her before she got out of bed and into the bathroom, but I tried. I was at that age.

Six days a week I did catch her exiting the bathroom, though. She might look out their window, but never up for a Peeping Thomas a story above and across the alley. In those early rays of yellow and orange, her skin was raw and pinkened from the freezing shower. And then she'd put bobbies in her hair, pinning and hiding it all up.

I'd take my breakfast at the windowsill and consume her ritual. Guess observance was my ritual. Dawn’s was to wrap her breasts, mashing them into her ribs so as even I got uncomfortable. They had to fit into her husband's old uniform. She'd lace the boots snug, pull on the too-fat gloves, and button things up to her chin. The tools waited for her by the door as she made sure he had his bedpan and a glass of water.

Don’t remember a morning where he got up. She'd kiss him on the forehead, then squat under the weight of his pack and embark for the mine. Someone had to, to ensure he'd have food and medicine tomorrow. Some nights she'd come back so coal-stricken you couldn't tell her apart from the dusk. All that radiant beauty, scrubbed pink and strapped down. Tomorrow after tomorrow.

Nowadays, that's what I think love is. It's what you'll do to yourself for someone else. I've had four women tell me I'm wrong, and all four walked out on me eventually. But you know, I drove into hurricanes and stayed through cancer-scares when they needed somebody most. So I don't regret. I did my part getting us to dawn.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Practicing Gratitude

Last week T.S. Bazelli posted about Practicing Gratefulness on her blog. A Canadian, her post had no apparent connection to our U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, but the confluence is a good enough reason to practice it. Here are a few of the things for which I practice gratitude.

-I can walk. I can't exaggerate how nice it is to travel to the bathroom without thinking about it. As someone who has been on crutches, in wheelchairs, and bedridden at separate points in his life, free movement is one of my unabashed pleasures. If this bothers any anti-ableist folks, I'd like to hear from you.

-I live in a house with light and heat whenever I want it, and frequently some fulfilling food is available. Again, can't exaggerate this privilege.

-I'm thankful for my family, both those blood relatives and dear friends who have been worth investing emotion in. They make the social aspect of life worthwhile. I’m correspondingly grateful that I can ignore and eject people who aren’t worth having in my life.

-To God. He knows why.

-To people who catch wordplay jokes.

-The internet in my country has not yet been gravely censored or broken down into bandwidth throttling price structures.

-Readers who visit daily or semi-daily and find this work of mine worthwhile. Your comments, Likes, Loves and retweets make my days better. I’m grateful to every reader here, and every listener for Consumed. It’s why we do what we’re doing.

-Speaking of readers, how can’t I be grateful to my beta readers? And those who have agreed to jump in as theta readers after the next round of edits. I’ve worked damn hard to make The House That Nobody Built the best thing I’ve ever written, and these are folks who’ve consented their considerable intellects to help me. I’ll remain forever in gratitude to them until one of the bastards says he doesn’t like the book. Then all bets are off.

-Multiple times this year I've been struck by gratitude for being able to play so many new videogames. I think I've hit five this year, with Portal 2 and Bastion leading the pack. There were years when I couldn't afford a single one. It's one of my favorite hobbies, especially on the nights when the syndrome acts up too badly for me to sleep.

-And you better believe I’m grateful for when sleep comes easily. Have a nice day, all, and an easy night after that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Fight Night

Finally, fourteen billion years since the dawn of the universe, the immovable object stood at the epicenter and awaited the oncoming irresistible force. It was a media event like no other, and everyone had a theory about how the collision would go down, or at least some kind of documentary or related feature film due out in the Fall.

The scientists proposed that one body possessed greater inertia than the other.

The politicians, as they are like to do, only made passing reference to it on talk shows until three weeks before impact, when they said it was about time their countries took up serious legislation.

The philosophers, as they are like to do, cut at each other’s words and wound up agreeing that neither body could exist.

The internet, as it is like to do, complained about plot holes.

On the day of the magnificent event, every tabloid had a crew out. Unfortunately, the paparazzi climbed over each other with such vigor that none got a good shot, and all were left with photos of each other’s hands or feet. The explosion from the collision was so great that almost no one in the star system survived. The only remaining cameraman didn’t see the actual impact, but swears to this day he saw the immovable object flinch.

Regardless, the irresistible force can still be seen touring the universe, knocking over everything in its path, and the immovable object can still be seen sucking in everything, including matter-free light, with its usual resolve. Tickets for the return bout should be on sale any eon now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Pitiful Lex

"I always suspected it, Lex. The Flash’s nemeses control ice and light. The Green Lantern clashes with alien gods. So why does he have you? If he’s almighty, why not feud with a clone of himself? Or a robot? Why a pathetic stock broker? He could punch clean through your head and not even leave a frame of evidence on the surveillance cameras. You’re not even a fight. There were two options. Option One: the big man was on the take, and you were secretly funding him. But his powers are tried and tested. He has a summer home on the moon. He doesn’t need your money, and he routinely destroys your military inventions. You couldn’t help him if you wanted to. That leaves Option Two: he pities you. He lets you think you’re smart and powerful and that for the sixteenth time he’s been fooled by a kryptonite ring. He’s diagnosed you like I have, as a petty waste of intellect, an obsessive parasite who desperately needs him. He’s your hero. Lucky you."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Should John Post About The Legend of Zelda?

For a few years I've had the plot for a Legend of Zelda game. It's a shame that the eponymous princess's legend is apparently to be kidnapped over and over. I'd like to see just one entry in which you played as her saving the land. Periodically I'd return to this idea of a Hyrule under siege, in need of an absent savior, and in that absence would step up our lady. I called it The King of Limbo. It's not a Chosen One story, or a Girl Vs. Tradition story. It'd be about overcoming vulnerability. Also, swords.

Last week I typed up the grand synopsis for how such a plot could unfold, and the wrinkles it could have on Nintendo's formula. It was a gift to a hardcore Zelda fan and dear friend of mine. She adored it, and got me wondering if I shouldn't share here.

What do you think, my beloved readers? Would you like to see how I'd frame a princess saving the day? Let me know your thoughts, and drop your votes into the poll above.

True Stories of John 15: How John Talks to His Grandmother

John: So I’ll call you on Thanksgiving, in the afternoon so I’ll be sure you’ll be in.

Grandma: With your brother and sister?

John: I’ll call two guest stars.

Grandma: With a what?

John: Two guest stars. Celebrities, but I can’t tell you who they are.

Grandma: Who are they?

John: I’ll give you a hint.

Grandma: Give me a hint.

John: They’re two generations younger than you.

Grandma: What? That’s your age.

John: They’re a little younger than me. One may or may not have red hair.

Grandma: That’s your sister. Is it your brother and sister?

John: I can’t tell you, but one is a boy and one is a girl.

Grandma: Who are they?

John: I don’t know. One more hint, though: they are related to you.

Grandma: What are you doing?

John: I don’t know, but I can’t stop. Talk to you on Thanksgiving?

Grandma: Sure.

John: With my two guest stars.

Grandma: Gah!

John: Love you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: The Manliness of Gay Men

One notion I don't get is the effeminate gay guy. Gay men are the manliest men of all time. A straight guy can nail the most attractive woman you've ever seen. Hell, he can coerce the most attractive woman, and the smartest woman, and the most unattainable woman to jump into his bed simultaneously. But there's little manliness about that foursome. There's a 3:1 femininity ratio about that.

Meanwhile, a gay guy is consuming more man. At any given time he is giving you at least double the man for your money. He can date the laziest waif in America, and still be manlier than Don Juan because he's doing manly things. In fact, he's doing the manliest thing: men.

He is transcending manhood by way of someone else's manhood. That is a severe degree of masculinity that intimidates lesser men like me. In fact, given how gross I find naked men, the enthusiasm my gay friends have for them strikes me as decidedly bad ass. It’s no different than your ability to wrestle an alligator or fix a carburetor. I can’t do it, I won’t do it, and concede that you are the manlier man for the wrestling that phallic car-part. Gay guys are looking into the eyes of my darkest fear and seeing a turn-on. They are the best, the greatest, and last line of defense against something that I don’t want to do. That's because I'm not very manly. You could call me a girly-man.
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