Saturday, September 1, 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Newcomer

Simon fell into the keyboard arrays, armored legs twisting as he sought orientation. He felt drunk, even though he hadn’t touched a bottle since last night. Montgomery stepped in to help, but Simon put up a robotic gauntlet to stop the approach. “Just keep briefing. Touch me and I’ll sue you for sexual harassment. I’ve got very good lawyers.”

“As you will.” Montgomery took two steps away from him, struggling to keep his eyes on the PDA rather than Simon’s busted suit. “His first appearance this morning was at 10:01. It’s conveniently time-stamped on an ATM camera. He stopped two men from mugging an elderly woman cashing her social security check. It’s on Youtube.”

“What a sweetheart.”

“At 10:05 he stopped a locomotive with his bare hands.”

“Bare hands?” Simon asked, pulling off his armored gauntlets. As soon as the servos disconnected, they snapped from the frame and thunked to the floor. He shook feeling into his fingers and found contusions all the way up his forearms.

“His bare hands,” Montgomery confirmed. “Three minutes later police saw him take those bare hands into a warehouse being held up by the Mastiff Brothers. They emptied five clips into his forehead and didn’t even disturb his spitcurl. The Mastiffs are in custody, though they already have three appeals filed.”

Simon stroked his chromium mask, searching around the hand-shaped dent over the faceplate for the release valves. “Shot in the bare forehead?”

“One would presume, sir. There may be video this afternoon.”

Simon lingered on that as steam spat out from the valves. He let the crumpled chromium mask drop to the floor, then wiped his brow. He didn’t think he was bleeding. “Did he do anything between getting shot at 10:08 and 10:21?”

“Well, you encountered him at 10:19. So he did at least one thing for two minutes.”

“If I hired you for your wit, you’re fired.”

“Fortunately I was hired because you don’t know how to make Youtube on your own. Do you want help with that?”

“Search engines were invented by rabid monkeys.” Simon braced one titanic boot on the control panel and leaned as far back as he could. The dents along his chest-chasse were so deep that neither of the hinges would come loose. He clawed at them for another impotent moment before shrugging at Montgomery. “You could get me a crowbar. Maybe a jaws-of-life?”

Loyal Montgomery traveled to the workbenches, one hand searching for the appropriate tool, while the other held up his PDA. “He was on the way to something big, possibly an earthquake in South America since that’s where he’s gone since, when 10:19 happened. It’s also on Youtube, if you’d like to see it again.”

“Not right now.” Simon pinched his eyes closed and groaned; he was only now getting feeling back in his ass. He’d never imagined how much he’d miss feeling down there.

Montgomery returned to him with a blowtorch tucked into his armpit and a crowbar in hand. He offered the tools, then stepped back, withholding them as he asked, “What are we going to do about him, sir?”

“Well, you are going to get my other suit. The Alexander Amosu with the pink tie and cufflinks.” He snatched the crowbar and dug it into his armor’s mechanized hip, grinning to himself. “Meanwhile, I’m going to see if he needs a best friend.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Tepid War

"This not a cold war. The empire keeps invading our Frontier, one brigade at a time. They’re small spurts of combat, skirmishes for which we don’t retaliate because it’s anarchy out here. When a band does counter and run to their side of the continent, the Munenori wipe them out, and having wiped out the isolated psychopaths, have no nation to retaliate against. Thus, it never bursts into a hot war. It’s neither cold nor hot; the result of utter fascists bordering utter decentralists is a tepid war. The kettle has been on long enough that it will burn your fingers if you touch it, yet the water inside is too meek for good tea. You’d probably get sick drinking it. The tepid war. It’s a unique dilemma that kills only anyone dumb enough to deal with."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: New Department Signage

The location is a posh New York City mega-boutique, a spot too big to hold real style while too rebellious to turn profit of anyone but those who pursue true style. It boasts unique department signage. For instance, on your left as you enter the door you might notice the sign hanging from the ceiling boasting a man in his underwear (he is clearly an abdominal model) yelling the word “Fuck!” The word “Fuck!” is in a word bubble, and is the only word on the sign. His department would feature rugged jeans, flannel shirts and sundry overpriced hats. This is, of course, Men’swear.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Newsroom Day Two of Two: The Support

“We need the past to be brighter than the invisible darkness of future. We need a history of heroes to let us know that bravery is possible. A Greatest Generation and a century of inventors and soldiers and firemen leave us with the belief that many humans have the potential for action, not merely one president or general or saint. We need a canon of many saints who slump towards us. The photo of the many men raising the flag on Iwojima, the tales of many men running into the towers on 9/11, and that the Constitutional Congress was the labor of many minds rather than a gift to a lone Moses - these things tell every man and woman that history beckons widely.

“And we need to feel like we’re failing, because any other feeling will lead us to complacency. For whatever amalgam of reasons, we are the most likely nation to pursue self-improvement. By harkening to the great decisions, of Cronkite weighing against the Vietnam War and Murrow standing up to McCarthy, we invite a generation to seriously look at what present mistakes and evils are going unchallenged. The truth is that history assures we will always have made great decisions, and human nature assures we will always have great decisions we are not making. If history can goad us into living better, then we ought to lose our feet in its tide.

“A hundred years ago we saw Europe at war and could not let the forces of democracy be slaughtered. Today we see blood running in the streets of the Middle East and find ourselves too tired, too weary, too taxed and afraid, and ultimately too confused to answer the simple question of whether we should attempt to stop it.

“You were telling an audience to do more than sit, and for all the current anchors and writers and bloggers to do more than spend twenty-three hours of the day asking whether a single mother eight states away was a good parent. Using the past as a prop to coerce us into thinking we’re failing? We needed that, because we are failing, and if the truth won’t convince us of it, we’ve got to find other means.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Newsroom Day One of Two: The Attack

“When exactly was the United States of America a moral nation? When it interred a million Asians? When it only went to war against the Nazis because it had been bombed? Or perhaps it was in our golden days, when it was slaughtering natives and receiving shipments of blacks to pick cotton. We didn’t go to war for moral reasons. We went to war because we wanted Texas, or didn’t want Spain interfering with our interference in Cuba, and the newspapers were right there toadying. Benjamin Franklin was the first great American op-ed writer and he was such a stooge for the establishment they almost let him write the Constitution.

“This illusion! This illusion you have that the American public was ever informed. There was more than a century when the only reliable way to get a presidential candidate’s platform was if he happened to visit your town. And the Founding Fathers knew people were ignorant and never expected better from them, and so while they enshrined freedom of the press, they also institutionalized the Electoral College for Congress and a Presidency – a private crop of people who would select another private crop of people to decide everything while most of the country tried to survive the flu. Maybe, maybe the second private crop of people decided things for moral reasons, or maybe they fed into a Military Industrial Complex that Lyndon Johnson warned the entire country of live on television and still no one did anything meaningful about.

“So tell me when America knew what it was doing. Was it when we were scalping the natives for government credit? Was it when we were enslaving anyone even descended from an African? Was it when we dropped an atomic bomb on private citizens? When did we qualify as the greatest country in the world, who is the greatest country in the world now, and why on earth would we want to be that thing again?”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Notice: Newsroom Monologues Coming

Tonight is the season finale of HBO's The Newsroom. It's been a provocative show for many people, myself included, and we're going to play with some of what it's provoked. 

On Monday and Tuesday I’m going to run two related and contradictory Bathroom Monologues reflecting based on the series's seminal event. Will McAvoy’s inciting monologue went viral both in his fictional world and in our real one, and it’s stuck with me all season. It’s inspiring to sick-and-tired idealists, while also uniquely troubling with its rosy view of American history. You don’t need a feminist to tell you why the ethos, “we acted like men” is worrisome.

So on Monday we’ll see a monologue attacking Will McAvoy’s rant, and on Tuesday we’ll see a monologue supporting it, though maybe not for the reasons you’d immediately expect. If you like, record an audio or video performance of either monologue and link them in the Comments. It would be fun to do a mega-post of your performed debates.

True Story of John: Eulogy for the worst person I’ve ever met

It was an overcast afternoon and my family was exhausted from packing and the road. My little sister had leased her first apartment and was finally taking everything she’d left in our basement, and during a lull, I went out to cook for the group.

Most people don’t count wasps as people, but he was too much of a dick to grant him the excuse of non-persona. He buzzed with a friend as soon as I opened the door, flying directly at my face. I waved them aside with the spatula, but they only circled around the air-current and continued. I had to constantly wave the spatula to blow them aside as I turned on the grill, and he still managed to fly around to my chest, where I felt his stinger bounce off my shirt. I swatted him to the ground, but let him live. This was a mistake as he and his partner zipped up towards my exposed arm.

I ducked inside the house to let them cool off. There are no wasp nests on my deck, nor on the grill. These wasps were visitors. I chatted with my brother and sister for a few minutes before someone complained of hunger, and I went back outside to put the burgers on.

As soon as I reached through the door to open the grill, the wasp flew straight into my forearm. I felt the sting as it jabbed me, and it rebounded off my flesh, having flown so hard it couldn’t control its flight after impact. It fly between the bars of the grill, stuck to a heating vent inside, and melted. He kamikazed me.

I was dumbstruck, never having been so angry at something for dying before. I’m also allergic to wasp venom, so that wasn’t a peach. I swore the stupid bastard’s memory for several arm-tingling hours afterward.
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