Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: A brief autobiography.

At least once a week for as long as I can remember I have been overwhelmed by the desire to exuberantly express to someone how lovable they are, or how funny and insightful, or how giving and kind, or how beautiful, or otherwise how I am positively enraptured by their existing at the same time as I did.

Also at least once a week for as long as I can remember I have been overwhelmed by the desire to scream expletives directly into the mouth of another, or to seize them by the shoulders and beat them in the face until their nose was as flat as their brows, or to otherwise exuberantly express my displease with their passion, religion or other elements of their person.

In my entire adult life I have striven to exercise the first of these overwhelming desires, and likewise striven to prohibit appearance of the second. As a direct result, a few people like me, most people don’t know who I am, and a slightly larger number than that hold me with outrageous contempt. I’m quite at peace with all of this.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Zhanjee Vs. The Dactyls

No sooner were the Greater Sauropods pacified, then the Dactyls emerged. Previously Tyrannosaurs had frightened them from hunting the plains; now, without the king lizards, the winged beasts descended. They roamed in flocks, each able to carry off a bison or hogbear for its lunch. They possessed ceaseless hunger and soon ravaged Frontier farms and set about eating Munenori platoons.

Zhanjee the Butcher was already in the Old Valleys for the incursions against the Sauropods, and so he intervened. He climbed to the tallest peaks to observe. The Dactyls nested low rather than high, cherishing water sources. Above human or khimeric flesh, they loved the fat of the Cloud Seals who played along the high waterfalls. Whenever a Cloud Seal would dive from a waterfall, a Dactyl would swoop in to snap her up.

Zhanjee waited atop the most popular waterfall. He watched as one Cloud Seal dove, and a young Dactyl struck. He watched as a second pup dove, and was similarly struck. He bided his time until all the young had Cloud Seals, and it was only the mother who remained hungry in the skies. Then he flung himself off the falls.

When her jaws attempt to catch him, he jammed the great Deviltongue between them and propped them open. Sheathed as not to slay the beast, he rested the endcap into the soft flesh of her lower mouth, digging it deeper whenever she resisted his steering. Then he mounted her neck and forced her to ground her young. Within the evening, he became the first human to break and teach a Dactyl mount.

It was ironic that he seldom rode them, preferring the company of horse or bison. Yet the Munenori army was eternally grateful for the gift of war from the sky.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Descent of Magic

That an infection could reanimate the dead is preposterous, and it appears more preposterous for every zombie that gets back up and wanders around The Z. How could microbes cause dead cells to not only reactivate, but coordinate movement, digestion, the senses and complex motor abilities?

Because they’re magic microbes. All science has been a cover-up of the obvious and insulting answer that just as life began at the microscopic level, so did the arcane. If you study fossils or present live bacterial cultures, you’ll find they’ve evolved little since the dawn of life. That’s because they mastered it. All they needed was to develop enough magical potential to survive a little better than anyone else. The typical virus either dies out fighting the immune system or dies out when it kills the host. The magic microbe that could magically reanimate its host was much better, and spread its offspring much better, given that zombies shamble around sharing the miracle.

Coincidentally, vampirism is believed to be the work of a more advanced but less photo-resistant microbe. Lycanthropy, though, is just a hoax by guys in hairy suits. All real magic in triclopes, humans and imps can be credited to the plagues that first bred it into us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bathroom Monologue 2000: A True Story of What Makes John Tick

This is the 2,000th post on The Bathroom Monologues. I’ve been daily for a few years now and even I’m surprised I got this far. I asked you what you wanted for our 2,000th get-together, and the majority of people said they wanted either a true story about me or an explanation of what makes me tick. I’ve done my best here to do both.

I didn’t actually remember this story until my sister told it to me a couple years ago. She was in college then, doing a paper for Developmental Psychology, and chose me as a subject. I took this as both amusement and offense. Rather than merely interview her subject, she interviewed our mother to find out what I was like before now.

I was the first child in the family – first to our parents, and first to all four grandparents. I enjoyed being the center of the world for about two years. They sang me songs, they read me stories, and took me everywhere, until my brother was born. Surely you’re familiar with how much older brothers love being ousted.

While Mom claims they didn’t entirely ignore me, the shift in attention clearly registered that way on the two-year-old John. I cried more, picked more arguments, and tried to interject myself on situations where the baby was getting too much attention. My father’s general answer was to send me to the basement to play by myself. This was wretched to the two-year-old John, though realistically that basement was stocked with colorful toys.

I told you all of that so I could tell you this: one weekend my parents heard me get up early and make noises for attention, but they refused to cave in. They were exhausted, and my father would be furious if I woke the baby. They heard come closer to their door and babble at it. They heard me rustle around the kitchen. Then the noises stopped. They didn’t hear anything for an hour.

My mother did what any mother would: concluded I’d killed myself, and ran around the house to find me. I wasn’t in my room, or the halls, or the kitchen. She heard a low hum from the basement and went down to check. There I was sitting in my little onesie, staring up at the television on the shelves. I’d figured out how to climb them to turn it on and was watching a cartoon about The Incredible Hulk with such awe I didn’t notice my mother had arrived.

This is my sister’s favorite part, and she got Mom to repeat it for me. “He was just watching the cartoons all morning,” she said with an adoring smile. “And he never came back.”

According to her, that is where my career in Speculative Fiction came from. When my parents were too tired for a bedtime story, now I'd offer to tell them some version of The Smurfs, or GI Joe, or The Hulk.
Hey Mom, can I use this as an author photo?
Two years later, my brother was ousted by our newborn little sister. Suddenly he couldn’t get time in Mom’s lap or on the family bed. Suddenly he was spending a great deal of time in the basement, starved for attention. Mom feared I’d use this position for revenge on the boy who had ruined my perfect existence, and we certainly fought a lot, especially once he grew big enough to hit back. But she was surprised to find that I commiserated with his ousting and took him under my wing in games. It seemed I kept coming up with stories for us to live in while our parents were busy. I’d had two years with the television to train.

Twenty years later, this helped my sister pass her Developmental Psychology course. She ran the paper by me to check its grammar and if the narrative made sense. She claimed that for her entire life I'd had the talent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Paul Ryan Worked At McDonald’s

“Find out the specific years, the specific store--and who was the manager? I heard a rumor that his manager thought he lacked social skills. Confirm it. Find me anyone who worked at that McDonald’s with him; Wisconsin is full of Democrats, sure enough we can find some who’ll say something. Find me surveillance video of him jacking off in the deep-fryer and I’ll marry you.

“They keep mentioning this because it brands him as the common man, so we have to show that he was a shitty common man. Everyone loves the idea of their neighbors until they get to know them. Why’d he quit? Who resented him? What has he said about it since then? Has he ever talked shit about the job? Did he hate the people, or the pay? God bless him if he bitched about the pay that millions of Americans are still trying to get by on.

“What town was it in? I bet your ass its mean income is under what he spends on suits today. Pelt him with questions if that town makes too much money. Pelt him with figures of how few dollars they’d get under his tax plan. Ask him how many of his co-workers could afford healthcare on their salaries. Do you think we could be lucky enough to find one who got cancer and couldn’t afford it? Or if she died and only her kids are left. One of those kids would be worth ten Joe the Plumbers.

“And is the store still there? An old McDonald’s probably looks like hell. Can we use a black-and-white of it in the background of an attack ad? Because I’m imagining water stains, foggy windows, a morbidly obese Latino frowning into a Big Mac, and an overlaid quote about Paul Ryan getting his start in business by exploiting unhealthy eating habits.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Be Another Yourself

“They don't want you to be yourself. And it's not just because deep down people are insecure, scared, misinformed, hungry and horny. Your base characteristics are not your real safe. No grandma that pats you on the shoulder and says, "Just be yourself" is saying "Go be a braindead animal." But that grandma doesn't want you to really be yourself, either.

“That grandma and her society don’t even want you to like Yu Gi Oh cards. It certainly doesn't want the full person inside you. Not the one who finds that anodyne department store music helps her concentrate. Not that one that will never be a full crossdresser, but certain days doesn't understand why a long skirt isn't an option for him. That one that, every few Wednesday nights, wants to cry to reruns of Barney the Dinosaur.

“Society does not want your personality. It wants a norm we've all unconsciously assented to, so nobody gets weirded out and everybody gets home with minimal eye contact. You and me both signed the contract in invisible ink. If you don’t remember anyone else being there, it’s because we were all ignoring each other. That’s the benefit of suppression.

“You must be this tall to ride this girl. You must look this sad to enter this funeral. You must be this embarrassed that this number of your countrymen don't know where Yemen is on a map, even if you know that the economy is so bad that none of those people will ever get the chance to visit that hemisphere. You must, above all things, suppress your bullshit in favor of the bullshit of society. This is because none of us want the real you. We want the real us, and if we can't get the real us, then why the fuck would we want the real you?”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First look inside The Last House in the Sky

I’ve been tagged by Adam Byatt and Danielle La Paglia to share a snippet from my work in progress. Here’s the deal: you’re supposed to search through your document for the word “look,” and then share the surrounding paragraph. I presume you go with the first occurrence of “look;” I got lucky with mine. Then we tag a few authors to get them do the same.

So here is a first look inside The Last House in the Sky, introducing one of our heroes:

"He was too naked. There were men who were simply not built for nudity, and this was one of them, with his long, rat-nested hair, and his paunch, and the way his hips leaned a little too far forward such that even if he put trousers on he’d still look indecent. A black cat pawed its way around his shoulders and messy mane."

I'd like to pass this on to:
Linda Wastilla
Tony Noland
Emma Newman
Linda Wastilla
Laura Eno
Tom Gillespie
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