Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Whirlwind Thoughts

I’m not saying the weather should turn you religious. Tornadoes stir irrational awe in the human mind and breast. When a tornado hits your house, some people think of God. When the tornado actually uproots your house, more people think something’s up. When the tornado whisks your house away and lands it safely, even I’d call it lucky. But when the tornado carries your house seventeen blocks and drops it in the yard of the sister you haven’t talked to since Dad died, I don’t know how agnostic you get to be anymore. Especially when our front door is now perfectly aligned with hers. Now go talk to her. I think our mailbox is in the chimney.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: He Has To Wonder At 130

At 0: the first computer fills a large room with thousands of coiled wires, billowing steam and punch cards. It crunches numbers. It will help perfect the hydrogen bomb.

At 20: government workers rely on computers the size of desks for data entry and records.

At 25: 62% of respondents do not know what a computer is.

At 35: government computers are connected like axes in a web that spans the world.

At 40: mastery of the x-ray enables physicians to take static images of patients’ insides. Many patients fear side-effects.

At 50: fearing children who are not computer literate will be worthless in the real world, educators race to bring as many computers in the classroom as there are pupils. The computers are half the size of the average pupil.

At 55: multiple miniature cameras are deployed inside a surgery patient, minimizing size of incision and giving a radical vision of the living body.

Also at 55: a teacher receives a phone call in his pocket.

At 60: a student finds an answer using Google on her cell faster than the teacher can pull it up on Encarta.

At 65: a physician releases nanomachines into his own bloodstream. They collect images and information about his vitals.

At 70: a teacher purchases a laptop computer via his cell. Information about his address, bank account, purchasing history and browsing history are stored somewhere.

At 80: a semi-organic computer smaller than a pimple is unveiled in the brainstem of a leading mathematician. It can make numbers do amazing things in your head.

At 85: legislation to ban “internalcells” is overridden in the Supreme Court. 33% of respondents approve, with 49% undecided. Wall Street sees record highs.

At 95: fearing children who are not e-literate will be worthless in the real world, parents race to implant “intercells” cell chips into the heads of newborns.

At 111: the first class of children whose motor skills are entirely pre-programmed by their “cells” attend their first day of school.

At 120: less than 3% of respondents under thirty do not have “at least some” of their emotions digitally regulated.

At 130: the prodigy who bought too much, including a large room full of wires and tickertape, executes a command. Everything turns off. He goes outside without shoes or socks and feels the grass between his toes. Without intracell assistance, his natural hearing is so weak that he misses all the grinding and screaming around him. He wonders what this feeling is called. For the first time in his life, auto-fill does not answer his question. He has to wonder.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Checklist of pretentious things to do

-Buy the most expensive thing in the candy aisle, then lay it out on platters. Invite the Kaplins over. Do not offer any to them.

-Gatecrash the Oscars with a classic tobacco pipe.

-Learn to play cello well enough to start progressive band with other beginners. Never attend band sessions. Claim to be “working on other projects.”

-Write novel. Title it after a line from Shakespeare.

-Write novel. Title it after a line from Milton that everyone will think is Shakespeare.

-Ask dentist what toothpaste he uses. Upon answer, recommend another brand.

-Home brew own soda. Do not drink any of it because “even with natural sugar it’s dangerously unhealthy.” Order wine racks.

-Wrap presents in pages from The New Yorker. Possible gift: note of subscription to The Atlantic?

-Rename days of week. After what? Moods? TV shows? Brainstorm.

-Design own crossword puzzle. No black squares. All q’s related to 1800s South America.

-Figure out fashion trends. Critique children’s Halloween costumes.

-Learn Japanese. Learn aerodynamics. Attend next Mothra premiere and complain loudly about implausibility.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Happily Ever After (In Comparison)

And they lived happily ever after, in comparison. They squabbled, especially when money was tight at the end of the month. When she wasn’t in the mood for four months straight during pregnancy, he eyed the wet nurse. She hated his mother and kept losing letters from her, despite having a firm grip on all the other mail. In comparison, this was the good life. Once you’ve been forced into a toxic magical sleep, or you’re clubbed and kidnapped by a perverted witch, or your kingdom’s been overrun by vines, your lover drinking milk straight from the container isn’t so bad. This they learned without saying. It was implicit. Even when he died, leaving her to spend seven of her wrinkliest years alone, this was still happily ever after, because it was grief for a great family built instead of panic dream in an eternal slumber.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Possible Origins for Him. 10.

Okay, so there was this guy. Had the genius to program microchips that emitted electromagnetic radiation, which disturbed key connections in the brain. It didn’t cause mere migraines – it brainwashed people, made them drones, made them believe they were entirely new people. His chips were so small he could hide them in the stud of an earring or the band of a hat. And he made these things as an intern at a low-end tech company with very little college education. He had no means or help, and he could have turned half the city into his gangs just by donating some baseball caps to Goodwill.

There was this guy. He had a fistful of mind control, and the world’s worst Lewis Carroll fetish. He took his technology and forced the first dumb blonde he met into an Alice costume. Frumpy blue skirt and doe eyes, everything. When he started a gang, they were Tea Party-themed, all wearing hats. He never thought that somebody might knock them off and free his army. He only pulled robberies to support the hatter habit, trying to run away with this girl he’d brainwashed into being his. He never planned ahead and so got caught. When he escaped? He did the same thing to the same girl and got caught by the same detective. He never brainwashed enough goons, never refined the technology any further, never even looked up a chick on Craigslist who might consent to his cosplay. He was a world-eating genius and it was a miracle the guy could do his own tie.

There was this guy – not that guy. This time, I mean me. Sitting at a lunch counter, watching pundits complain about the rise of monster criminals. A terrorist who left crossword puzzles. A giant crocodile in the sewer. And this Lewis Carroll fetish guy. He didn’t have to drop an electric hat on my noggin to screw up my brain. I dashed into the bathroom and locked it, hoped nobody could hear me hollering. Because I’m unemployed, I’m going nowhere, I can’t get my act booked anywhere in the city while this guy is on TV for squandering his talent. I’m hollering that I can do better than that, and I was going to come up with something before I left this bathroom, or before the owner kicked down the door.

There was this guy – not me. The owner. He made the mistake of kicking down the door too soon. All the inspiration I had was Juicy Fruit in my pocket and obscene jokes on the wall. I blame any shortcomings in my act on his lack of patience. I left him incapable of ever wearing a hat.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Five Stage Theory

“What? I'm not dead.

“Asshole, how dare you say I'm dead?

“Whatever. What can I give you to get through those gates?

“A thousand years of service? That'll take forever. I'll never get in.

“I wasn’t doing anything anyway. Should I start with mopping?”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Holicide

There's an audio edition of today's monologue. To listen either click the triangle on the left to begin streaming, or click this text to download the MP3.

I desperately want to put a disclaimer in front of this one. I'm not going to because I trust you folks.

"Some attack the holidays because of the suicide rate, but I find it adds joy to the season. Consider: did you know this person? It’s a slim chance that he or she was sincerely beloved to you. Mom very rarely kills herself at Christmas - she can only do it once, after all. It's usually some uncle who didn't shower thoroughly enough, or the shady co-worker who spent all his lunch time in WoW, or what’s-her-name, you know, the one who barely ever looked you in the eyes. Ask yourself, living moralists, did you really like these people who are now absent? I think if you did, it would have shown, and those people wouldn't have wallpapered their bathrooms with brain. No, no. In death, these folks are missed. But in life, you had no application for them, and didn't like how they stood so close in the elevator, or how they smelled when they passed you exiting the bathroom, or wore loud tops that clashed with their bland trousers, or whatever trivialities essentially defined their existences in your big universe. They were annoying. Now they’ve given you the best gift of all: they went away. So be of good cheer. It’s that giving time of the year."
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