Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Unbeatable Government

“They built the first new homes after the last apocalypse. They built the first city and the first shipyard. They sorted out who was alive out on the islands, and connected them back to us. They don’t only print the money. They control the minerals, farming, and the pepper trade. They’re the only ones in the hemisphere constructing printing presses. Insulting as it is, they can get away with turning three islands into prison camps and jailing people without cause. They pretty much re-invented right and wrong. The Contiguities didn’t save our culture; they built it. We can’t just rebel, not against the institution that made everyone’s clothes and breakfast possible. We can’t just rebel. We have to compete.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Edgar Seterra

One of the unsung heroes of the day the Uranians came for us. He was at the crater on Third Street when it happened. Well, it wasn’t a crater at the time. It was a Recruitment Station, and he was getting his physical when the ship landed on all of them.

Now Edgar Seterra was not your new-fangled superhero with an I.Q. of one-point-five-billion or radioactive biceps. He had what you’d call a “less desirable power set,” and survived the UFO crash by turning into a pool of slightly tepid water.

By the time he gathered his pool-self up, the Uranians had disembarked from the craft with one of those hydrogen bombs that you really don’t want in a heartland city. All the greater heroes were skyward, preoccupied with the proper invasion force. Stopping these specific cosmic hooligans was up to him, but how was Edgar Seterra to know which way the Uranians had gone with their bomb? A feral sense of smell? A spiderific sense?

No, for you see those powers were taken, and Edgar Seterra did not possess any abilities patented to American icons. Instead he used the less-popular ability to recall what all the elderly women in the vicinity had smelled recently. You might call this a useless ability, and his fiancé had done just that on multiple occasions, yet Uranian B.O. is quite distinctive and led him to a warehouse on John Calvin Klein Drive.

Please mind that Edgar Seterra was not the sort of superhero who breaks the sound barrier on foot or could bean three Nazis with one bouncing shield. The dear boy arrived at the warehouse on John Calvin Klein Drive with little more than a rifle and some plus-sized fatigues, up against three suicidal extraterrestrials. People in the neighborhood called it quite a sight.

He managed to empty his entire rifle magazine into the brick wall to their left while they trained sights on his forehead. The anxiety simultaneously activated three useless superpowers: one that caused all dogwoods in the area to thicken their sap slightly, one causing all cesium to decay by drastically greater half-life, and the last causing him to sprout a second heart. This last would have come in very handy if they had not aimed for his head; each and all of these he would gladly have traded to turn laserproof for just a few seconds, as I reckon just about anyone would.

Well it turns out that a person’s powers do not only have to be of use to him. They can be of disuse to evildoers. For instance, did you know Uranian laser pistols use mildly depleted cesium cartridges? Well they didn’t either, which is why the Uranians were so confused with Edgar Seterra continuing to have a head. For a moment, he thought continuing to have that head was a superpower.

But that head was a good one. By the time the Uranians realized their cesium cartridges were duds, Edgar stormed their position and subdued them through some good old-fashion American pugilism.

Not five minutes later, his left hand turned into a psychic dove and he chased its intuition across town to stop another Uranian incursion – this one tampering with the water supply. He curtailed no less than seven heinous plots that day.

You still don’t hear much about him. U-Day was all about our burly men of steel, and our lightning lasses zapping rockets out of the sky. They deserve press for their heroism, yet Uranians did get by them, and when it came to chasing aliens across our sidewalks, through our warehouses and broadcast towers? That was Ed Seterra.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: On Writer’s Block

It besets a perfectly well-meaning, perfectly well-read, perfectly talented and motivated writer, who had no intention of dicking around on Twitter and Reddit for hours. As soon as this bold thinker’s hands approach the keyboard, it strikes. For one out of every three cases, the writer’s fingers are broken by the strike, but regardless the writer’s block remains hovering in the air, obstructing the keyboard. Its onset is harrowing. No wedging or cajoling of the keyboard will loose it from beneath a writer’s block; the block will simply move to continue interference regardless of position. It haunted typewriters, and before it, blocked inkwells and Greek slates. Anthropologists posit that it is what necessitated oral storytelling among otherwise literate tribes. It is a persistent issue of the human condition. Those Great American Novelists among us will take drills, hammers and chisels to the block, to liberate their means of expression. Let it be known that writer’s block can be broken, but beware its insidious side-effect: for the writer is left so agitated by the inexplicable black blockage, and so exhausted from the labor of destroying it, that he or she is typically left without the energy to write afterward. In at least a third of cases, the keyboard is also destroyed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bathroom Dialogue: Orange Juice and House Fires, OR, How John Talks to a Girlfriend

“Fresh squeezed orange juice! That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“It only took us… thirty-three minutes? To fill two glasses? Yeah, this is fulfilling work."

“Do you have a problem with my juicer?”

“No, I love it. I’m a novelist. I’m used to things taking longer to make than they do to consume.”

“What? Doesn’t it take you a weekend to write a novel? I know Amanda Hocking does, like, four in a year.”

“You know, a house fire would only take me seconds to start.”

“Not funny! That’s not funny!”

“Odd. It took so little time to think up.”

“Give me your juice. I don’t trust you with this.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Checking in for #NaNoReMo

We're halfway through January. How is everyone doing with their classics? I figured at least few folks would have torn through theirs already. Mine's about 3/4's done. My reading was a little delayed by cracking through the beta critiques on my own novel last week, which turned into a series of ten-hour days that left little energy for Ms. Austen.

My book wound up being Pride and Prejudice. I was dumb enough to take everyone telling me I'd hate it as a dare, and my attempt at open-mindedness has been grating so far. There are spurts of quotability, and I was pretty fond of her notion that women have to express more love for men than they feel in order for men to know they have feelings at all. At Chapter 50 we've seen a few true perils of this time period, and I felt the littlest bit for Lydia's family when she runs off with Mr. Whomever.

They're all Mr. Whomever to me. I've got a sheet with names and reference points to help me, because little in action or dialogue lends them individuality. Mr. Collins I can identify since he's the male Mrs. Bennet, the self-unaware selfish character who won't shut up. But all the other guys have the same dialogue patterns and some amount of money. The women aren't much better.

I'm not a Romance genre reader, not of the old-age get-married variety or the modern smut variety. At my core, I think I enjoy my romances as part of a greater context, just like every great relationship I've ever experienced or encountered. Loves during war time, or at a videogame tournament, or between two people at the terminal ward, where one's too devoted to her brokerage firm, or where he keeps putting up with her infatuation for riding trains. The life which loves enters and springs from. The absence of almost any substance to Austen's world has put more onus on her cast, and there's not nearly enough internal life to make that an enviable task. Much less enviable when internal life keeps getting turned into canned monologues and dialogues.

There are at least three people who've witnessed me getting suckered by pure sap and a hail-mary of a romantic ending. I'm holding out hope that I get suckered by the final stretch of Pride and Prejudice. I believe it to still be possible. And if I hate it, then her fans can comfort themselves that Mr. Wiswell lacks breeding and prospects. After all, his favorite fictional couple is The Joker and Harley Quinn.

There's one thing that will make me glad to have read this regardless of how the ending pans out, though I'll save that for another day. How are your classics treating you?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Senator’s Daughter

"That’s worse. If they wanted to kill me? Okay. That happens to senators, especially ones who do things in office. I knew it when I ran, and I certainly knew it the first time I hired someone to open my mail. But my daughter? Guys, I know where I am. That’s comforting, comforting even when I’m afraid for my life. I can decide where I’ll go hide when a gunman arrives, and I’ll see the bodyguards, and I’ll do the running. I don’t know where my daughter is at any given time because we senators made the terrible error to let them have rights. When the gunman comes, I don’t know where she is, or if she’s hiding, or if anyone’s around to help. There is no comfort in her having a number to dial or a routine to follow. All I know is at fourteen she used to steal my cigarettes and smoke them behind the house, and no matter how much I told her not to she’d keep doing it, and I’ll know it incessantly loud the second you tell me she’s been compromised. If I don’t do what you tell me? At least I know I did that. She’s my daughter. I can only worry about her. I’d rather have two people pointing guns at me than one in the same state as her."
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