Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Consumer’s Advocate

Doing market research can be important. Now, if the Titanic is going down you shouldn’t weigh your options, consider which companions will give you more elbowroom in the lifeboat and which looks the sturdiest. Just get on the frickin’ boat and lower it before the fat and hysterical people get here. But if you’re buying an X-Box 360, you don’t have to run above deck immediately. Let the market test quality for you. Here “market” is a euphemism for “morons.” Let the market test the materials for you. Let them buy the first wave of game consoles, and thus let them explain to their insurance agent how trying to play Halo 2 caused their living room to set on fire. Let them deal with the bogus motherboards and chipsets that haven’t been quality tested enough (actually, they have been – the company just doesn’t care). Let the market buy wave after wave of these things, dealing with customer service and shipping defective parts back until the producer has figured out how to mass produce something that won’t explode and be shipped back to them for work that’s covered under warranty. As economics teaches us, the market will correct everything by letting everything go wrong for someone else. Meanwhile all those developers that had never even seen this processing hardware before will have had a few years to take it apart, and figure out how to make strong games for it, because let’s face it – there’s never been a slew of good launch titles on a console I’ve bought. It's like a market force or something.

All I know is that following my plan I come late, know what all the good games are, pay less for the machine, and know it will work. Those guys who beat me by standing in line for eight hours on launch day can gloat about how they’re hardcore, and their doctors can gloat about all the extra visits their blood pressure has warranted. God bless the market.

(But seriously, where are all the fricking Wiis?)

Friday, February 6, 2009

“Give me a lever big enough and I’ll move the world.” –Possibly Archimedes, possibly a clever student of his that got screwed on bylines, 2

Archimedes’s Hell is stocked with various giant levers. Some are made out of wet cardboard. Some are made out of crazy straws, and one is a long slinky. All he has to do is move the world and he’ll free-fall back onto earth. The aim of Hell is to torture, but as the great lever made of balsa wood proves, taunting is a back-up plan.

“Give me a lever big enough and I’ll move the world.” –Possibly Archimedes, possibly a clever student of his that got screwed on bylines, 1

Up on Limbo, the top floor lobby before Dante’s Hell, stood a physically infeasible package. They paged Archimedes for a couple of celestial hours before he came and signed for it. Despite its shape, one had to wonder what in the Hell it was.

Once unwrapped, it proved to be a six-billion-mile-long piece of Styrofoam. At the very middle was an inscription, reading: “HERE’S THAT LEVER. MOVE THE WORLD AND YOU GET AN APARTMENT IN PURGATORY.”

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Things I do not miss about the beard

-Blowing my nose and then having to check in the mirror
-Tangles refusing to be brushed out and requiring banzai-like pruning
-Soup in the moustache
-How it kept my face warm in the winter…
-Milkshakes in the moustache
-Lint getting stuck and cemented in
-Providing me with an artificial jawline
-Random patches of salad dressing
-Lamentably eventful cunnilingus
-The stubborn bald patches
-Looking in the mirror early in the morning and amidst my shaggy hair and mangy beard, feeling I was the last of a tribe of ogres, risen to destroy the bathroom… fuck it, I’m growing it back

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Hot Chocolate Religion

It was tough on the priesthood when the new canon prohibited alcohol. It caused the biggest divide not related to a war in church history. Those who didn’t flee for moister pastures were tasked with devising a new recreation of equal pleasure and, according to an anonymous cardinal, “one that never makes a spiritual leader throw up on the governor again.”

As usual, it was the monks who got around inconvenient canon. This time they concocted milk and crushed cocoa beans. Unlike ale and spirits, it was served warm, sweet and did not intoxicate – at least not in the normal sense. Yet the monks became quite giggly over it all the same, for a property of “special sweetness that enters the tongue and rolls both down the throat and up the nostrils, filling the mind as well as the kidneys.” Friars of temperance happily exchanged the recipe, and soon the fragrance of steaming chocolate as synonymous with monasteries as the fragrance of old paper and eunuchs.

But the monks did not popularize the beverage abroad. That was done by the female priests, a class of priests created just that year to help fill out the ranks of those who had fled to deism and pubs. Women in general adored the beverage as a relaxant and bought it up by the ten-pound bag, for as the first candidate for female bishop put it, “It’s too good not to be made illegal in the next canon.” Female priests claimed it made Sunday meetings more congenial, attracted more children to services, and “lessens the burden of the monthly period.”

Male priests, who were not even certain they had a monthly period to lessen still took to it out of temptation and began private rituals of savoring and competitions of brewing. The addition of the little competition aspect to the drink dramatically increased its popularity amongst men. Even the grumpiest pastors came around, when they realized it was fragrant enough to hide a shot of rum.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Cobalt

"Spider-Man, meet your new nemesis: Cobalt! … Cobalt! … The menacing… Come on! I got a glider and a blue goblin costume, because cobalts were a kind of goblins, but the word is also a shade of blue. It’s cleverer than Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Grey Goblin and Green Goblin II, isn’t it? I mean, the meaning of the name is all compacted into one catchy word. Oh, stop laughing! Stop laughing or I’ll throw an indigo pumpkin bomb at you! … No, it’s not full of food coloring and death… Jesus, I’m going back to flipping burgers.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Chera and Thermos

Chera was a minor heat deity, relegated to reigning over lava in the domain of a mountain god. She wanted nothing to do with the business. She had it for cold – for sturdy ocean gods and their swim-tightened bodies, and for snow titans, and all their ancient extreme sports.

To be fair, there weren’t so many hot-blooded gods running around that northern archipelago. It was frigid and if she was going to fall in love with someone, he was probably going to have a beard of icicles. She became smitten with Thermos, god of waves that are almost cold enough to freeze. It was a low-paying job and Chera’s father forbid the relationship, which was a popular occupation for fathers in the age of myths.

Yet there came rumors that Chera and Thermos were getting on anyway. At first Chera’s father set people to watch her. She didn’t seem bothered, and like any competent mythological father, he figured if she wasn’t bothered he hadn’t done his job correctly.

So he confined her abstract to his island, figuring she was finagling through the lava. The great god spent many days watching his shore, seeing frigid waves lap coastal lava flows. Often he would order them frozen out of spite, uncertain if any of this counted as lascivious. Yet they always thawed, and he could prove nothing. Was his daughter up to nonsense?

Not according to her. When her sister, the goddess of expensive pumice people sail far too far to collect, asked, Chera said she and Thermos had already had millions of children.

Her father exhausted himself trying to find evidence of this, so that he could stop it. He put out challenges and offered impossible rewards that inspired travails for some of history’s great heroes. None of them actually succeeded, though, and became great heroes in more worthwhile endeavors.

What exactly she was bragging about went unknown for four hundred years. Even four hundred years later science was still slugging – its gods were lazy and enjoyed providing a slow trickle of miraculous discoveries. The one that revealed the secret of their romance came when a scientist identified a kind of water smoke. He called it “steam.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Born Too

“I wasn’t born too late. I wasn’t born too early. I’d have died of this condition in the time of the Stoics or Romantics. Hell, given the statistics I’d probably have died in childbirth and taken my mother with me. And I wasn’t born too early because the further we go the more close-minded we get. If I were born in a hundred years into some liberated world where you’re free to think anything and be demeaned for thinking anything else than the norms, I’d be as good as lobotomized. And if I was born in five hundred years it would be a miracle, and a short-lived one, as we’d have so ruined the planet by then that I’d be the second immaculate birth and the human only alive – a messiah who suffocated seconds later. Should I have survived in the past or future, I’d have different experiences, be conditioned different ways, and ultimately not become what I am. I couldn’t have been born any time but now, not too late or too early, because any other birth would have produced another person. I’m me and I’m now and I don’t fit and I’m fitting better than I ever could have.”
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