Saturday, June 9, 2012

Consumed Podcast: Prometheus

Max Cantor and I met up for the Prometheus premiere this weekend. I'm a tremendous admirer of Ridley Scott's Alien, and Max is a terribly nice guy, so naturally we held our breaths for about an hour of run-time before murmuring that something was wrong. Was it the screenplay, the pacing, the direction, the revelations...?

Sitting intimately around a single mic, we discussed the movie's many opportunities and failures. About halfway in we broke for an impromptu Spoiled, so if you're desperate to hear about the movie without discovering its deepest secrets, you can break there. I guarantee you'll want to stay for the naked Fassbender ramble.

Consumed 6 is available for free right here. It's got all the shallow characters and bloody butt cheeks you could ask for.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Censorship

Dear Ms. Hofstadter,

We regret to inform you that our organization will not be providing the requested $235,000.00 for your art installation. Though it is listed on our website, we have only $100,000.00 to award across all proposed projects. We wish you the best of luck in finding other sources of financial support, though we recommend you apply to them after getting government approval for the public use of deceased persons.

We wish you to know the ethical and legal ramifications of your corpse mutilation did not dissuade any of our administrators in their personal voting on your endowment, even though it led to the denial of your proposal. This has actually been the first case in our organization’s history in which we denied funding because something was offensive, and we would like to thank you for the experience your application provided.

We have never had a situation like it, and our reviews process went unusually long. Our organization funds many controversial art displays across the United States and Canada, and many of our administrators are charter members of anti-censorship groups.

The first problem is your proposed location, which sees no annual tourism and has below five hundred people in the local counties. We contacted the Chamber of Commerce and found it expected no increase in tourism based on your installation, and at least one secretary ranted at our interns about the nature of your project and your history with his office. Also, allow this letter to serve as reminder that you did not mention prior legal allegations of necrophilia in your application.

Your application process was also hindered by your minimal responses to follow-up queries, particularly on the grounds of the art patrons it would serve. We noted that your proposal makes several mentions of “The Fundies” it would offend, but no audience that would enjoy or engage with it. Two interns spent several weeks corresponding with people related to the arts in the area and found none desired to view the proposed installation. To date your only answer to queries has been “sum ppl desirve ofending.”

There are administrators with this organization that agree with your sentiments. Several of our administrators have produced highly provocative art, but even the most liberal could not see the point in spending so much money to offend so few people. It has been argued that art must not be repressed, hamstrung financially, or discarded based on the number of people who dislike it. However, due to your project having minimal audience and requiring more than twice our operating budget, we were forced to vote against funding based on the perplexing ruling that your work is offensive.

It’s been a baffling year at the organization. We have never been in this philosophical position before. Thank you for allowing us to readdress our opinions on censorship. It has been a learning process.

Martin Sheinbaum

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: She Crosses Over

If the agreed to go see it with him, who was he to argue how? He’d never gotten her to a Horror flick before, much less a SciFi one. Lill only liked foreign films and things Based on a True Story. So within minutes of making her demands, he hired the limousine and Google-searched for a tuxedo.

He showered and shaved and burned his face with first cologne of his life to fit her desired “presentability.” He arrived half an hour before the showing, ringing the bell and waiting on the stoop instead of letting himself in, corsage in hand until she was ready. He bided the time imagining whether Aliens would show up in this. It was so hard to stay spoiler-free on the internet.

She descended the stairs in a yellow silk dress that he could not fathom wanting to take into a movie theatre. Seemed to beg disaster with all the buttery popcorn and potential soda spills – he’d have to sit in the aisle to guard her. It was only when he heard her mispronounce the title that he wondered if Lill knew what “The Prometheus” was about.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Problem With Assassin’s Creed

Ubisoft employees claim Assassin's Creed 3 is not about America Vs. Britain.
Here is the hero.
Assassin’s Creed is a centuries-spanning series about the conflict between The Templars and The Assassins. The franchise has sold millions of copies and is an annual tent-pole for publisher Ubisoft.

The Templars are an evil organization bent on subverting human will. Through subtle manipulations they have orchestrated much of European politics, infiltrating The Vatican and British Empire. Across the games we witness them wrongfully imprisoning dissidents, levying unfair taxes, engaging in incest, and littering the streets and rooftops with oppressive armed guards (those guards don’t seem to do much more than leer at prostitutes, but they look fascistic). In the dramatic opening to Assassin’s Creed 2: Brotherhood, we witness their most evil member executing a man in the street.

The Assassins are our heroes, representing liberty and nihilism. They are a shadowy organization that murders everyone in their path. In each game you murder hundreds of people, including jailers, security guards, police and nightwatchmen, typically because they got in the way of you assassinating a nearby official who might be corrupt. You can rip men apart with shrapnel bombs, stealthily stab them with a hidden wrist-blade, or simply curbstomp them to death. As the series progresses you can recruit discontented citizens and train them for careers as Assassins, perpetuating the righteous path of your guild.

Jade Raymond, former lead developer on the Assassin’s Creed franchise, said, “I really do feel it's time for our medium to grow up. I think we don't need to make the equivalent to a Michael Bay flick in order to sell five million copies. I think things can be exciting, have meaning and hit important topics, and I'm not the only one that thinks that. There are major franchises trying to have more meaning and be something more interesting. We obviously tried a bit - and I hope it was obvious - to make a story with more meaning and mature themes in Assassin's Creed.”

The biggest difference shown so far in Assasin’s Creed 3 is you will now also kill deer and wolves in addition to human beings.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award

Recently Chessny Silth granted me the Kreativ Blogger Award. It was actually the first sign I had she read The Bathroom Monologues, and in terms of first-signs, it’s pretty high up there.

The blog game comes with the fairly standard request for stories. In this case, ten details about myself. Since I’ve run a few of these already, this time I’ll try to restrict myself to only listing things about writing. And I promise not to list “I’m writing another novel” as one of them.

1. My class in second grade was paired up with fifth graders to learn about and write “Historical Fiction.” My fifth-grader educated me that it was any story set in real history but with events that didn’t really happen. Within seconds, I asked if that meant we could write about George Washington riding Godzilla into the Revolutionary War. She seemed enthused to explore the topic.

2. I Mary-Sued my way into at least two things in middle-school. I will not admit which, but if you guess them in the Comments, I will fess up.

3. I still use composition notebooks. I believe I was the only person carrying one at the last writing convention I attended. I even ran into a senior citizen who wrote on an IBM ThinkPad, and was very defensive about his device being seen as too old-fashioned.

4. By the end of high school, the longest thing I had written was 180 pages of an unfinished novel based on Broli from Dragon Ball Z. No, I am not in it. No, you may not read it.

4. At a certain point my family computer was corrupted and I lost my digital copy of that Broli novel. It turned out the floppy I’d used was also damaged. It was a year later when I discovered a printed copy of the novel in an old teacher’s filing cabinet, stole it, and re-typed the entire thing, adding improvements and extending the story as I went along.

5. It was while walking between classes one day that I gave up on the Broli novel. I had the epiphany that all of the things I most wanted to write weren’t my invention. Lord of the Rings, X-Men and Dragon Ball Z were neat worlds with appealing characters, but they were all someone else’s worlds and characters. I felt annoyed that I should have to invent my own, especially since those three concepts were already taken.

6. Before Sophomore year in college, I was unaware anyone on earth disdained Louis L’Amour. I was stunned that anyone had the free time to both read a bunch of Westerns and systematically hate them. That really opened up the way academics look at literature for me.

7. One of the most formative lessons I got in college was a comparative literature assignment, pitting two articles against each other. The first was by a popular thriller writer I won’t name, who was generally perceived on campus as utter rubbish. His article described his writing process as exciting, joyous, and altogether like a daily Christmas unwrapping session. The second was by an author whose name has long escaped me, but whom was deeply literary, and who described her process as dreadful, tense, and decried that she had never once enjoyed writing – only having written. The experience was revelatory and demanded I figure out where in-between these two I’d want my process and my work to fall.

8. I took such a heavy course load in college that eventually I ran out of free time to write anything of my own. I became afraid that after graduation I’d be unable to write anything without a professor’s prompt, and so began the exercise of the Bathroom Monologues. Whenever I got up from studying to use the bathroom, I’d improvise a monologue or story about anything other than what I was working on for class. If I was studying Kafka’s nightmarish prisons, then I could spin yarns about orcish politics, or immigration reform, or the expiration date on the world. It’s seemed to work out.

9. I was surprised in exactly the way you won’t be to find that my early dramas all got rejected, while even pro-rate publications loved nonsense humor. Most of my early sales, and my first pro-rate one, are preposterous. Actually, even the query letter for my first pro-rate sale was a deliberate parody of query letters.

10. I spent about ten years building the worlds my recent novels are written in. Before I actually started writing the novels, they felt like a colossal waste of time. Now, they feel relievingly reliable.

As for my picks, I hereby bestow The Kreativ Blogger Award upon:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Only Middle Easterner in America

You know what's worse than being the only Middle Eastern fighter in an America? Being the other only Middle Eastern fighter, the one whose record is so unimpressive that people forget he exists.

You're great, Teth. You're strong as a bull, and you get men's shoulders to the mat quicker than anyone else in your weight class. But you got gifts from genetics, and you have great training partners and facilities and live in a nice house. The last match I had? The night before I slept on my cousin's sofa because the month before, my apartment building was shut down on suspicion of meth.

I can't afford to live in a nice place, or to fly to Las Vegas or Sarajevo whenever I want to learn a new approach to grappling. I get the same looks of suspicion on the street that you do, but I spend more time out there. When's the last time you had to walk to the arena because you couldn't afford a cab? Never mind the jokes about me driving one.

Nobody makes those jokes on commentary when you're fighting. It's all shit-talk how you're going to knock a guy out while he's still standing. Meanwhile, I'm lucky if my fight makes it to television. And sure, you're better than I am, and so you deserve to have it better. But I want you to think about this the next time an interviewer asks how it is being the only Middle Eastern fighter in America.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Reality Offline

Attention all users: reality will be down starting at 6:00 AM  PST. Offline mode has been enabled for users so you may continue your lifelong existence, but the system will not update for the duration of downtime. Do not be alarmed if nanoscopic particles briefly exhibit constant and/or predictable behavior, or if general relativity and quantum mechanics temporarily seem reconcilable. Some users make experience partial blackouts or entire cessation of consciousness. In such cases, do not panic. You’ll be mentally incapable of it.
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