Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Does sex change how you feel about someone?

"Sex absolutely changes how you feel about someone. It'd make you save her life over some virgin's."

"I don't know. Life's complicated, man."

"No, really. It's a serious change to the game. You've got some pirate in front of you, and he's going to kill one of two women. The one on the left is a stranger, the one on the right you banged last night."

"I don't want to live in your hypotheticals. They would not pass a building inspection."

"Who do you save? Left or right?"

"I don't know. The human mind is flighty. Who looks more desperate? Who's more pathetic? I'm a sucker for pathetic."

"They're equally pathetic. They're tied up by Captain Blackbeard."

"No two people are the same. They'd move differently, talk differently. Their faces, you know? It messes with neurons."

"They have identical faces."

"Body language."

"Identical bodies. And they're absolutely still. The only difference is you had sex with one of them, and one of them is going to die."

"Identical faces. Identical bodies."


"How can I tell them apart? How do I know which one is which?"

"Fine! There are nametags."

"Are they perspiring the same way? Because if one go so sweaty that her nametag fell off, I'd probably feel sympathy for her."

"You know what? Fuck you."

"No. Then I'm going to have to save your twin from a pirate."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Frankenstein's Monsters

When they heard what Frankenstein was up to the town put up quite a ruckus. Anyone without a flashlight (and there were quite a few, as they hadn’t been invented yet) lit a stick on fire and called it a torch. Dozens of howling fire-bearers in jockey shorts hustled up to the gates of Castle Frankenstein and beat on the doors until the Doctor showed his face.

“There is no — ” he started to lie, but was cut off by the town Point Guard.

“Germany hasn’t won the gold medal in basketball in years and we hear you’ve got a seven-foot undead countryman up there. Can he come out and play?”

“You can’t…” The Doctor paused. “Wait, you want to what?”

“We want to see if he can slam dunk. We’ve never had a player who could reach the net without a step-ladder, and that’s illegal in the Olympics.”

Dr. Frankenstein kept most of his body braced behind the door, but poked his face out to stare at the jockey-shorted rioters.

“You don’t want to kill him?”

“Listen,” said the Point Guard, “we aren’t very tall and we don’t bathe often, but we’re very technically sound.”

The Doctor put a hand on his hip.

“I didn’t know there was a local basketball team.”

“Yes, advertising is difficult without moveable type. We’re buying a machine on lay-away, but all we have right now is the letter A, and eventually we get bored of stamping everything with the same vowel.”

“So you don’t want to kill my creation?”

“Heavens no! We want to kill that insipid American team that wins all the time. President James Monroe drives the lane like it’s his doctrine. It’s terribly frustrating. That’s why we need your giant. Let’s see him bowl over a man stitched together from the best German bodies available.”

The Doctor laughed nervously. “Here I thought you were coming to kill the Monster…”

“Monster?” the Point Guard exclaimed and looked back at the crowd. Their faces lit up in unison.

Another in the crowd cried, “That’s brilliant! We needed a team name.”

The Point Guard thrust his arm in the air. “Here’s to Frankenstein’s Monsters!”

Then the jockey-shorted peasants began pumping their torches and chanting, “Mon-sters! Mon-sters!”

Except in German.

This story was originally published at Every Day Fiction.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day and Helping Those in Need

Monday was Canada Day. Today is Independence Day in the United States. It's been a week of celebrations, but also great hardships. The west coast is seeing horrible heat and fires. Here in New York there has been some ugly flooding; one woman nearby was swept away in her mobile and drowned. Many lucky survivors have still lost their homes.

Yesterday, for no discernible reason, I started gathering food in a box that my family wasn't using. I do this every few months; I started while I was on the phone checking up on my grandmother, picking things up with my spare hand. I gathered pasta and cans of ravioli my family lost the taste for, bottles of cranberry juice leftover from holidays, canned peaches nobody wound up eating. The items that linger in too many households that don't realize how well they're doing. Maybe I did this because I wasn't always this privileged. But before I ran out for errands, I called the local library, which forwarded me to the Methodist church on the corner of so-and-such. The librarian then pulled me back onto the line to talk about how, when her son had lived in Alaska, his local food pantry had saved his life.

It took me two minutes out of my way in-between errands to hit the church. I drove around back, spying two men who were patching the rear wall. The weather had hit here, too, I presumed. They looked nervous when I asked if this was the food pantry. When I pulled out the box, one of them ran over to hold the door for me. I followed me inside, asking if this was from the church at the next county over. It'd been a while since I'd seen someone's eyes bulge. His did when I told them this was just from my family.

The way he ogled my box suggested he was probably going to rely on some of that tonight. He shook my hand three times, and we exchanged names. He wanted the head of the pantry to call and thank me. We stood by the road for a while, talking about camping sites and the local flooding. He was a charming man, only confused as to where I'd come from.

There were times when I desperately needed the capricious kindness of strangers. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably read enough about that. It's left me a little more willing to stump for people in need, be they shooting victims or just a girl who desperately deserves a break.

When I was a child, imagining the homeless scared me so much that I tried to imagine they didn't exist. I now suspect that's a blindness most people invest in. I'm not passing judgment about this because judging someone's irrational hang-ups is both cruel and futile. I don't believe most people need to be shamed on something like this. For most, I think looking it in the face will do.

I appreciate that some people don't trust the Red Cross or disagree with the homophobia in the Salvation Army, but when I see a post like "The Ten Worst Charities in America," I get physically ill. It starts to look too much like people covering their own myopia and greed in a simplified solution of arbitrary distrust. If you don't like the Red Cross or Salvation Army, that's fine, but it's no excuse to ignore every food pantry, every blood drive, every soup kitchen and disaster relief org and IndieGogo for a needy cause.

I don't like to proselytize on here often, and I'll shut up in three sentences. Just, please, if you don't do anything, look your reasons in the face. And if you have no reason, that's a perfectly good reason to help a little.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the fireworks tonight, and for the love of God, appreciate what you have.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Mother-in-Law Vs. Mother of her Granddaughter Redux

“Oh God, can we just leave? I can’t take the stares. It's like I'm meat.”

"You look great, honey."

"You think?”

“For a human wheelbarrow? Yes! You should be proud.”

“…for a what?”

“It’s your body. You should be proud of your decisions, like the one to put on more pounds here and there.”

“I’m carrying a child!”

“Not in your thighs, deary. But don’t make excuses. Own it.”

“I haven’t even gained that much weight. My doctor says I’m at the dead-on average for seven months.”

“Dead-on average for the McDonalds generation, sure. But when I was carrying your husband? I was tight as a deer. Almost sinewy.”

“You have that look in your eyes sometimes.”

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Can we go?”

“We need to get dinner for Christmas, don’t we? Got to feed that fetus. And the rest of you.”

“Oh my God, you’re making more people stare.”

“If you can’t take the stares, then maybe you should take the stairs more often.”

“What the hell? That’s bad for the baby.”

“According to whom? When I was carrying Tim I lived on the seventh floor of a tenement with no elevator. The super always said I was very tight. When she stared, it was out of admiration. Those stares would have been grounds for divorce in six states.”

“This explains so much about Tim.”

“What was that? I can’t hear a thing in here. You'd think shoppers would use their in-door voices.”

“I said you’re not going to see this baby until she’s got her Masters degree.”

“Goodness, it’s noisy in here. Maybe we should leave. Want me to push the cart? We know how you feel about exercise.”

“…That’d be great. That’d be great.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Urban Legend 3: The Killer in the Backseat

This one tends to have befallen the sister of a friend of someone you met on MySpace. The true urban legend is that anyone ever met anyone real on MySpace, but will require its own entry. For now, let us concern with the Sister of Dubious Origin and the man in her backseat.

She was driving home – from work, from a party, from college, it really varies based on the Sister of Dubious Origin, and has befallen one or another of them at some time. What's constant in every story is the truck that began following her. At first it only flashed its high beams, but seconds later it was tailgating. When she slowed down, it refused to pass. When she sped up, so did it.

She tried pulling onto back roads, but the truck continued following her, even nudging her rear bumper as its horn blared. In some versions she called the police on her cell; in others, a parent or boyfriend. The truck always followed this sister in every version, to her apartment, to her parents' home, or even a police roadblock. As soon as she jumped out of her car, so did the trucker, screaming that there was a man in her backseat.

She whirled and saw that, yes, there was a fastidious and photogenic man leering from the backseats. Every Sister of Dubious Origin who ever lived heard him ask, "Did you know you can save 15% on your car insurance by switching to GEICO?"

The Sisters of Dubious Origin filed a class action lawsuit against GEICO in 2008 and settled out of court. It's widely considered the second most obnoxious GEICO ad, after the ones with the talking pig.

Monday, July 1, 2013

John accepted to Viable Paradise!

I'm thrilled to make two announcements today. It's pure accident that they're coinciding on the same day, but it's brought me to quite a high.

First off: The Last House in the Sky is done. It's been beta read, edited and revised into something I'm truly proud of. This novel is an absurd passion project of mine, about a trio of misfit thieves who decide to steal the last remnants of culture before a cult can waste them on blowing up what's left of the world. It's one of the Post-Post-Post-Post-Apocalyptic novels I'm always joking about, and I think when I can give it to you, you'll find it's something different.

I'll be bringing it with me to ReaderCon next week, and possibly to other events over the summer.  But something bigger looms in October.

Because my second news is that I was accepted to Viable Paradise! VP is one of the most prestigious F/SF workshops in America, hosted by Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Elizabeth Bear, Steven Gould (Jumper, not punctuated equilibrium) and a roster of professional authors.

I have to thank Moses Siregar III for turning me onto VP in the first place, and Theresa Bazelli for encouraging me to submit for this Fall. Some of the authors to emerge from the program are the top of the field, and I'm too excited to go dive deep into fiction with the hosts in October. I'm working out travel arrangements now.

What a day. There can't be many like it in a year or a decade, but I'm extremely privileged to get just one. Thanks to everyone who's extended their support over the years. I'm doing as much with it as I can.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to jump up and down a few times.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lit Corner: John Vs. Don Quixote

One practice I'm going to change up on The Bathroom Monologues is a weekly Lit corner. This may primarily be a venue for book reviews, because I'm lucky to have read many great books and want to discuss them a little. But Sundays can also be a hub for interviews, big topics in publishing, breakthroughs in my own work and, hopefully, something more interactive. If you have a good name for our reading corner, please, drop it in the Comments.

Picasso showing his penchant for detail.
Let's start with something simple: the weirdest book review I've ever written, for Don Quixote. It was such a journey that I turned my review into a journal of climbing through the text. My mother kept a painting of Quixote in our play room as kids, and today's post is dedicated to her. The novel is a classic that I'm uncertain anyone else has ever actually finished. You'll see why shortly, as well as why I think it's closer to Naruto than anything else.

So, Book Review: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The full review originally appeared on Goodreads.

Day 1: Here goes nothing. Here come 1,000 pages of translated text. The opening was insufferably cheeky and the origins of Quixote are slower to unravel than a heroic anime. Still, I see promise here, and the reputation earns it a couple hundred pages before I pass a strong judgment.

Day 2: Just finished chapter two. Couldn't help but notice the dope wearing ill-fitting armor, his sidekick riding an ass, and the party attacking wind mills all occurred within the first two chapters. That about sums up the culturally famous parts of the novel, making me wonder how many people in human history made it to page 50.
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