Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Colored Language

“Most of this rainbow is occupied. Blue language is profane. Purple prose is overwritten. Clearly that end is a slum of bad writing. But on the other side? Yellow journalism is jingoistic and biased. The Little Red Book is even worse, as is Pinko literature. Towards the middle are all things Green, environmentally safe and positive, but we don’t run an environmental organization. It’s unaffiliated. Off the spectrum you’ve got black and white, but in a postmodern landscape you don’t want to be accused of seeing things in black and white. Only orange and brown have no particular affiliations, so I guess the blog will have to be in those colors. Maybe we can define them as ours.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Consultation on the Mystery Thief

Wesley waited for the security officer to crack a smile and confess that this was a joke. When the man didn’t laugh, Wesley opened the folder and read the report himself.

“So your intruder only comes at night, even though security detail doubles after six PM?”


“And you’ve got surveillance tapes on the river bridge showing he never takes it, even though that’s the only way to the highway, and that means he’d have to go through the ravine?”


“And the only footprints you can find are in a third floor air duct that is so high up and so tightly closed that only a bird or a bat could get up there? You don’t think your mystery thief rides a flock of parakeets in there, do you?”

“No sir.”

“You’re absolutely certain it’s not someone on staff? You do cavity searches before they go home?”

“Yes. We've doubled the amount since the robberies and haven't found an ounce of the goods. The men hate it.”

Wesley winced. “They should. Because you have a lot of recording equipment to not catch even one photo of your mystery thief. You’re sure you don’t have just one, that you’re not showing me?”

“I’ve seen him. So have three others But he evades the cameras somehow.”

Wesley rubbed his eyebrows with thumb and forefinger.

“You’re being robbed by somebody who won’t cross water and can’t be photographed. Fine. You’ve got a vampire.”

He got up, dropping the folder onto the desk. When he reached for his briefcase, the officer asked, “Are you sure that’s the only explanation?”

“No,” he said. He walked to the door. “Your superiors could be playing a prank on me. That’s what I believe, but I’m just a consultant.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: No Taxation

At age 11, John proposed a tax plan where you only paid for what services you wanted...

For a while they institutionalized a “get what you pay for” system. It was supreme democracy. On your taxes everything was itemized. Don’t want to support deadbeats? You don’t pay for welfare. Who wants to build schools in Afghanistan? Cut that.

There was a surprising number of people who thought they could get by without police. Naturally you had minorities who were historically abused by them anyway, but there were many middle class and upscale people who didn’t check the box. There wasn’t going to be a sign on your lawn that you didn’t get 9-1-1 service, so nobody would know your house was vulnerable to robbery. The appearance of protection should have remained the same.

Hacktivists made a list. The same kind of people who, in the name of privacy issues, published whenever somebody said they were leaving home via Facebook or Twitter, got ahold of tax lists. There was an app to modify Google Maps (called “CopMap”) so that you could see all the unpoliced homes colored in ironic blue.

Robberies went up. They also went down. Statisticians still debate over the charts. Homes were more likely to be targeted for vandalism within 72 hours of a CopMap posting in most major east and west coast cities. Decreases in crime stats were pegged to all the people who realized nobody would come if they called for help; why report it when no one cared? And the complexity of the debate over drops in police misbehavior and brutality reports remains staggering.

It was worse for the people who paid. They expected all the same services. In fact, they expected better than the same, because a) they’d elected to pay, and b) people always over-expect from the government. But police departments tanked. They couldn’t fix vehicles or afford overtime. They couldn’t afford half-staff and there were major layoffs. Police Unions went on strike, but against who? Federal, state and city governments did not have the money they wanted.

Applications for security guards and security-related jobs shot up by 1,100% in the first year.

The people who paid actually didn’t get what they paid for, because they didn’t have enough money to support the system. Most systems had already malfunctioned on their meager fully-taxed budgets. On fraction-taxed budgets?

Gun sales went up, for personal and home defense. The profligation of firearms was not the deterrent the NRA wanted it to be. While there weren’t many police to take reports, people who arrived at ERs for “self-inflicted” or “accidental” gun wounds skyrocketed. They were furious to learn that funding for ERs had been consolidated under one of the boxes they hadn’t checked, and that most hospitals were no longer honoring uninsured emergency walk-ins.

The ER fiasco got a lot of attention. So did the collapse of the single-payer insurance system, which we’d only established recently. Only the military maintained operations, built on years of doing outrageous things with outrageously less money than you thought they were getting. So many things went awry that the police became a secondary issue, because they were who you called when something else broke.

The Weisman/Gladhart ticket rode to the presidency on the first-ever successful campaign of tax increases. They proposed them as small and strategic. They promised parts of tax forms would still be itemized. They lied. They had to.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bathroom Monoloogue: ****ing Banshees

Tad licked his lips and looked across the dance floor. They could barely hear each other over the band, but Brian knew who his friend was talking about.

“She’s got a nice ass, man, but she’s a succubus. That’s ‘Do Not Enter’ territory. No way I’d hit that.”

“Hey.” Brian jabbed him in the side. “Firstly, you’re not going to approach Sheena because she’s my girl. Secondly, she’s not a succubus.”

“Whatever man. I’m just saying she’s killed her last three sack buddies. But if you say she ain’t a succubus…”

“She isn’t. She’s a banshee. And in the heat the passion she… screams.”

Tad clapped and bent over laughing, looking up at his friend.

“That it? For real?”

Brian shrugged. “Popped their ear drums and fried their brains. Three guys.”

“At once?” Tad hooted. “Girl’s wild.”

“You ass. No. Her first boyfriend, then the kind of guys who swoop in to pick off the girl in mourning. After her third time she took a vow of celibacy.”

“You ain’t hittin’ that?”

“You thought she was a succubus a minute ago!”

“Still. That’s mad crazy. Why even put up with that?”

“She’s got soul, dude. Like, traits. She’s funny. She’s taking an Italian cooking class. Stuff.”

“You’re lying. She got you under her song spell or something?”

“That’s sirens, you tool. She’s just… a change of pace.”

“You never do that?”

“I said! It’s not about that.”

“Fucking banshees.”

“I would but she’s got a vow of celibacy!”

As fortune would have it, the music ended in the middle of Brian’s sentence. So did his relationship to the banshee.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Are Videogames Art? Listing Curiosities

-The Mona Lisa never got a DLC Weapons Pack.

-A boy who spends all day reading literary fiction is attractive to girls. If he spends all day playing Braid, they wonder if he’s a hair stylist.

-Activision was making an action shooter game set in the infamous Fallujah conflict before public outcry made them cancel it. We have already seen several thriller movies set in the Iraq War.

-You can major in Southern Literature at college. You can talk about how JRPGs are too effeminate on a forum.

-Google “women authors” and there is only one picture of a naked lady. Google “women actors” and about half of the images show skin or are deliberately sexual in some way. Google “women videogames” and nearly every image is sexualized. There is also the image of a topless male action figure.

-There are hackneyed novelizations of movies. There are hackneyed videogame tie-ins of movies.

-Once I took a friend to see The Grudge. She curled into the fetal position in her chair and bravely watched the entire movie. Once I subjected the same friend to play Silent Hill 2. She made it across the introductory parking lot, where nothing happens, before throwing down the controller and screaming in fear that she could not do this anymore.

-There are a great number of metafictional novels. There are very few games about game theory.

-Director Guillermo Del Toro collaborated with Chuck Hogan to write The Strain, a trilogy of novels about vampires. Peter Jackson collaborated with Michel Ancel to make the King Kong videogame.

-With a pen and paper you can write a screenplay. With a digital camera you can shoot an indy film. With Sony’s Little Big Planet you can design your own levels. With Microsoft’s Kinect, you can paint on the television screen just by waving your hands.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Randy and His Maker

Randy and his maker rounded the furthest clouds. Cherubs jammed out on drums and acoustic guitars, and rivers ran among them to pour out as rain for the world below. It wasn’t exactly what Randy wanted from death, but it beat dying.

“So the one thing you can never forgive is denying you?” he asked.

“That’s right.”

“Never? Even if they don’t mean it?”

Randy’s maker paused to tweak the third tuning peg on a cherub’s guitar.

“I don’t take it lightly.”

“What if it’s Opposite Day?”

Randy’s maker looked up. “What’s that?”

“You know. Opposite Day. You see a white cloud, you say it’s black. If it’s evening, you say it’s morning. What if somebody said you weren’t there on Opposite Day?”

“I’d forgive it.”

“But you never forgive it.”

“That’s right.”

“But you just said you would.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yeah you did.”

“No I didn’t.” Randy’s maker continued along the clouds. “It’s Opposite Day.”

“Oh, you’re good.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Headlights Go Out" at Thaumatrope

I had another super-short published at Thaumatrope recently. This one is about the old question: what happens when you turn the headlights on while traveling at light speed?

You can read it here.
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