Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: “Politics is for the moment, but an equation is for eternity.” –Albert Einstein

OR, ‘Lest We Forget that NPR would be Knee-Deep in Crap Without a Plumber

I cannot appropriately express my disgust with this in a single visit to the bathroom. I think this is the third month this notion has followed me in here. I know that we’re all insecure in our occupations and pursuits, and that we’ll constantly try to build ours up at the expense of others. Perhaps I just didn’t notice it when I was young, but it appears that self-validation increasingly comes at the expense of others in our world culture. Wasn’t there an age when we fingerpainted just for the heck of it and not because it was more virtuous than playing on monkey bars?

Rebelling to prove yourself damages someone else. We beat you in that war. You beat us in that space race. Hoo and hah, it sucked to live in Strasbourg. Now yes, a really strong scientific theory will outlast this year’s farm subsidies. But seriously: the prevention of war? Ending poverty? Directing rescue workers in the middle of natural disasters? These things are inferior to your lab time?

I just read Stephen Hawking say the human spirit will shrivel if we find all the answers, but lucky us, we’ll probably never find all of them. I’m not Hawking. I’m a fan of Hawking, and a fan of science. But if you think you’ve found all the answers and feel your soul withering up, then Jesus, Mary and Darwin, go help people! Either use your amazing knowledge to design the next energy efficient building or weather-resistant crop, or get out of the library and carry medicine into war zones. You’re momentary too, and people are suffering this moment. There are myriad ways to help the human body and spirit – I had my will to live restored at 13 by novelists I’ll never meet, and there were other thirteen-year-olds rescued by school councilors, police officers and antibiotics. If directly helping ever appears meaningless to you, your world doesn’t deserve algorithms anymore.

This is big hurdle our generation has to get over, and one no generation has cleared to date. You do what you love and let others pursue what they love. If it’s a hobby and your job merely sustains it, then fine. But some people love pulling the numbers together in long equations. Some people want to build roads in broken nations. Some people tell stories. Importance in these matters is arbitrary, and arbitrary matters are downright painful to compare. Are we going to climb into an MRI, and whosever pleasure center glows the brightest wins? I refuse to put a decimal point on my soul. More, my novel does not need to be more important than your race for the Senate. We desperately need good storytellers, good journalists, good scientists, good politicians and a good many other people who are good at a good many other things. More, we need to stop measuring each other by paychecks, notoriety, and this idiotic idea that a pastor or philosopher is more important than a biology teacher or a branch manager. It’s not a matter of being more important. It’s a matter of importance.

“Utopian bullshit,” you say? I say the feces in Utopias smells sweeter than the flowers of a world of dueling roses and orchids.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Acronyms for “Acronym”

-Anonymous Carriers Resting Outside New York Motels
-All Credited Returns Of N Yugoslavian Medicine
-Always Creep ‘Round Our Neighbors’ Yard Moss
-Any Creature Resembling Our New Youth Marchers
-Assistant Corporal Requires Other Naked Yacht Monsters
-Assholes Cry Relentlessly Over… Never You Mind
-Alternating Current Resides On Network Y Motherboards
-Aggressive Criminals Rowing Onto Nefarious Yellow Moats
-Attention Collecting Robots Overtake Networks (and) Your Mind

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Some Say It Was a Fig

There were a lot of gods in that Garden, though only one got much press. Admittedly the One was an impressive example, but there are rumors He had something to do with the writing of the ensuing book, so other gods get a little testy when you bring it up. There was, for instance, the god of apples. No, not Apollo – this god wasn’t a franchise whore. He only did apples. He imbued them with a sense of balance, the capacities for friendship and love, for reason and compassion, for sympathy and softness. All those miracles and more he put into the rind of that famous apple. And then those ungrateful kids didn’t even finish it. Pity for them, for if Eve had eaten just one seed, his spell would have cleared up that ill-evolved menstruation cycle of hers. Oh well. He could always try something on the herbivores.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

BM: “"The Graysons" will follow the world of Dick "DJ" Grayson before he takes on the iconic Robin identity and aligns himself with Batman.” –Variety

Okay, fine. I’m doing a show about little Eddie Nygma, an aspiring crossword puzzle writer. Great grades in Math, so-so in English until he’s turned on to mystery novels. His younger brother is a stand-up comedian, and his older brother nobody talks about – lives in an insane asylum due to some kind of bipolar disorder. We’ll save the reveal for a season finale. The show will be chock full of unattainable romances. Essentially every episode or season should have Eddie falling in love with, being denied by, and vengefully discovering the hurtful secret of some other lady. Cast the females straight off of Suicide Girls. The more unattainable the better, especially as Eddie begins to unravel their personal mysteries, like Selina not really hitting a growth spurt over summer vacation, if you know what I mean. And oh, the ass-kickings. I’m figuring every girl who utterly denies him and is then dissected by his vengeful analysis (what’s better than outing the girl who scorned you as a bulimic?) will thoroughly wreck him. Eventually he starts falling in love just for the secrets he’ll attain. Instead of covering his notebook with hearts, he covers them with question marks, and then we can sell them on the site shop!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Mini-Respons-alogues, OR, I’m Serious, Five Minutes

Sometimes my response to a stray comment, line or road sign is very short. I’ll take it to the bathroom and finish my response in a sentence or two. Probably more than a thousand of these have been discarded over the years. George Carlin inspired me to write some of them down.

Position: “I like to play in other people’s danger zones.” –George Carlin, The Aristocrats
Response: That’s fine so long as you’re the one who gets hurt and you don’t sue.

Position: "What is a stranger doing in a strange land?" -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Response: Being a stranger. It's the only place he can be such a thing. If he wasn't here, he might be familiar.

Position: “Ultimately, there may be a single equation (perhaps no more than an inch long) that will unify the entire theory.” -Michio Kaku, Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory
Response: How small a font can I get away with?

Position: “Ultimately, there may be a single equation (perhaps no more than an inch long) that will unify the entire theory.” -Michio Kaku, Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory
Response: Solved! What? You didn’t say anything about legible handwriting.

Position: “Ultimately, there may be a single equation (perhaps no more than an inch long) that will unify the entire theory.” -Michio Kaku, Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory
Response: 2 + 2 = ?, interpreted abstractly.

Position: "I hold truth like a torch." -Akira Yamaoka’s “Rain of Brass Petals” on the Silent Hill 2 Soundtrack
Response: On fire, held as far away from the face as possible.

Position: “Physicist Stephen Hawking and his daughter are to write a science book for children which will be "a bit like Harry Potter", but without the magic.” -BBC
Response: Oh, a soap opera?

Position: “I could care less about ____.” –Various
Response: If you could care less than you do right now, then you care. That’s the opposite of saying you don’t care. I could care less about people not paying attention to the words they use.

Position: “Abortion hurts women.” –Bumper sticker, Volkswagon
Response: Ow!

Position: “Germans are the laziest country.” –One of the thousands of bleeding idiots who just have to participate in debates via Youtube comments
Response: Any country that has so much as one person who will argue politics, religion or culture via Youtube comments is automatically disqualified from being the best country in the world. The bombing will begin in five minutes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Next, Giant Scorpions

Stu: Get up.
Spider: I was just chased for twelve miles by giant wolves. I never want to get up again.
Stu: You have to. Giant snakes are attacking the house.
Spider: What are the odds?
Stu: It happened, so 100%.
Spider: Is that how it works?
Stu: Well, there are two ways of looking at probability. You could form an algorithm out of all the cases of people being chased by giant wolves and then by giant snakes, and take into account habitats and how the two problems might be linked such that you have a probability quotient of something like zero point one three to the negative thousandth power percent. Or you can take into account that something does or does not happen, and thus has a zero or one hundred percent chance of happening.
Spider: Interesting. But now my hair is on fire.
Stu: We should go.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: A Satyr

“Satyr” is Redcliff’s most ham-handed and metafictional play, a satire of satirists. It follows four popular playwrights and authors in their stormy friendship, and exposes the unimpressive inspirations and petty observations that begat their great works. The more moral two of the writers, Tmir and Ymir, begin in the arts with great optimism, but see all their attempts at originality and hope dashed by the capitalist and soulless arts industry.

They meet their grade school friends, Satyr and Samid, for drinks one night. Satyr and Samid have also entered the arts and are experience great success in satire and polemics. The two are completely jaded against society and mock Tmir’s idealism.

“You can barely pay the rent with your ideas, while I could buy your entire building tearing them down,” laughs Satyr. Ymir stands up for him, but Tmir becomes despondent. That night, drunk and disillusioned, Tmir writes a furious play about the unfairness of society and mails it before he sobers up. He is stunned to find it is accepted for production.

The rest of the play follows Tmir, Satyr and Samid’s rise in popularity. Act 3 opens with Tmir and Samid receiving literary prizes, and we overhear the end of the host’s introduction, lauding them as the luminaries of their generation. Tmir is so wealthy that he supports Ymir, who has still yet to publish anything or compromise his ideals. Satyr frequently browbeats the idealist poet, and does it again at the celebration, saying, “Because the world is hard and a few good writers have already gone to the trouble of telling a few good stories, we can riff off of for the rest of our lives. The groundwork for complaining has already been done. We’ve only to drop some bricks.”

Unfortunately this is said within earshot of the press, and combined with some of Satyr’s other public indiscretions, damages his reputation. He is forced to move in with Tmir, with whom he has several arguments over over the purpose of social criticism: Tmir reveals that underneath everything, he still wants to reform the world (hence why he took Satyr in), but Satyr exposes that it doesn’t matter what lies beneath the critique because nothing has changed as a result of their work, other than “the clothes we can afford and the phrases some angry sheep use to disparage a thing – they never change the thing itself.” The argument goes from political to sociological to psychological, with the two increasingly suggesting (and later simply stating) that the other is bitter because of his own worthlessness, not the defects of the world. Tmir nearly jumps off the balcony, and minutes after Satyr talks him down, tries to throw Satyr off (since, “Saving me was the first selfless thing you’ve ever done, and if you’ll never do another, you may as well go now!”).

Ymir watches the entire exchange, drunk at his writing desk in the corner.

Tmir spends the rest of the night writing a scathing play that will roast all of Satyr’s values. He is going to mail it the next morning when he encounters Samid, who says Satyr spent the entire past evening writing the same thing about Tmir and has already mailed it. Tmir breaks into the post office at the lunch hour to find and destroy the manuscript, but is stopped by Satyr, who came to do the same thing to him. The two spar verbally one last time, quoting from their own one-night plays as they wrestle, until both realize their plays were quite bad. Each man takes his own manuscript back home, deflated and disheveled.

Tmir and Satyr return home to the surprise that Ymir has finally sold something – not a poem, but a play. The final act sees Satyr, Samid and Tmir attend the opening night, with Tmir and Satyr sitting on opposite sides of the room. The writers quietly watch the play, which sounds very familiar. It quickly turns out that Ymir adapted Tmir and Satyr’s argument on the balcony verbatim. Tmir and Satyr slowly realize this, perking up in their chairs, then sinking down to hide in them before the curtain comes down.

Critics were kind to the play largely out of respect for Redcliff’s reputation, but Bartholme Gorsky has asked, “If the point of the play is as straight-forward as we think, then why did Satyr have all the good lines?”
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