Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beauty and the Ego: A one Act play

The scene is a lavish living room, where Josh watches football on a big screen tv, and drinks a beer. His phone rings.

Josh: Hey. Um yeah, ok. (pause) Uh, you sure? (pause) Isn't this the kind of thing you talk about with your girlfriends. (sighs) Well, I just finished my last one. Yeah ok, I'll buzz you in.

Josh walks to the door and presses a buzzer. Becky enters, carrying a case of beer. Josh opens the case and pops open a beer and takes a sip

Josh: You know how to get me to do your bidding.

Becky: Josh, he's doing it again.

Josh: That sucks. Dump him, date me.

Becky: We've been together for 3 years. Why won't he move in with me?

Josh: He wants other vaginas.

Becky: But he's never cheated on me.

Josh: He wants the possbility of other vaginas.

Josh's phone rings. He looks at the screen, presses a key and returns the phone to his pocket

Becky: Is that one of your sluts?

Josh: Yep.

Becky: I do not get men.

Josh: I'll dump them if you date me.

Becky: It's just, with Ryan, he says he loves me and I know he never cheated on me. He refuses to commit. Why do men do that?

Josh: He's holding out for other vaginas.

Becky: That's ridiculous. He tells me I'm the most amazing woman in the world. Why won't he commit to me?

Josh: Doesn't appreciate what he's got. Hey, can you hand me another beer?"

Becky: Josh, you have sex with tons of women. Why do men do that?

Josh: You won't date me. I don't love these other girls.

Becky: But Ryan and I are in love. Does he think there's someone better than me?

Josh: Hey football. Let's watch that.

Becky: I mean, I'm kind of out of his league.

Josh: So dump him. Yes, yes! Run! Yeah! That's how we do it, baby! Um, yeah, Becks, you're right. You deserve some hot rich guy who loves you. Date me.

Becky: I've got to put my foot down. I'm going to tell him, "you move in with me or we are through"

Josh: Then in a year, you can do the same thing to get him to marry you. Also, great for kids. (to tv) Oh, come on, ref! What game are you watching?

Becky: Well, I'm ready to commit. He isn't, but he should be. I should try to persuade him.

Josh: You assume Ryan is a rational creature.

Becky: Yes, he can be persuaded.

Josh: Looks like you've solved your problem. Hey, it's football! Let's watch that and not talk about your douche-bag boyfriend. Hand me another beer.

Becky: Thanks, Josh. Talking to you really helped. I'm going home. I'll tell you what happens.

Josh: Oh boy.
Becky leaves. Josh takes out his phone.

Josh: Hey Stacy. I see you called a little while ago. I'm sorry, I was watching the game. Uh-huh. Well, you know me. Um, yeah, you can come over for a couple hours. I got work in the morning. Okay. See you in ten minutes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Employee of Evil

At 2:23AM, Nitin Yangzom discovered Lila Kala sprawled dead across the Comnetrix Corporation server room floor.

Nitan froze and forced himself to retrace every detail in his life that led him to the very wrong situation. His parents had immigrated to America when his father, working for the very same Comnetrix Corporation, was transferred to the company’s U.S. offices, and in their celebration, Nitan had been conceived. While he was considered gifted at a very young age, it did little to keep his young peers from calling him “Nitwit” throughout even his years in high school. School did little to challenge him intellectually, and the few times when it did, his studies only aggravated his difficulties building a social life. He eventually grew accustomed to a more solitary life, finding the benefits of an ignored life such as peace and a degree of independence. There were times he considered whether he was grateful for his older siblings, for having married and obtained vast wealth and generally having satisfied the desire of his parents. As it was, though, Nitan had no real direction of his own, and so he didn’t object when his father recommended he follow in his footsteps as an employee of Comnetrix Corporation. Nitan did not know exactly what business Comnetrix Corporation practiced, nor did he terribly care. It was just like any other soullessly simple company that paid the bills, he felt, and just like most companies these days, they needed people to run their IT. So it was that he had fallen into a sea of a poorly-managed IT department, left mostly in charge of babysitting programs mining away at whatever real work needed to be done.

The months Nitan intended to stay while he found a better job crept into years. He dropped out of college as his grades fell and the hours at work demanded of him rose. His only pleasures at work, which he indulged in when nobody was looking, included playing games on his smartphone and staring at Lila Kala’s curves when she walked by his desk. What she was doing at a place like Comnetrix, instead of high above the lowly earth within the heavens as Nitan imagined, was beyond his understanding. It would make his day whenever she acknowledged him with a smile or even a “hello” in passing. He never had talked to her, though, and therefore only knew of her what fantasies he conjured in the vast and unexplored palace of his mind. Not that he would have had much of an opportunity, as work forced him to stay in the offices for twelve-plus hour days, six days a week. As it happened this Saturday night, Nitan filled in for the work of three people as the others had called out sick, and during one of the routine server checks, a message pinged back, asserting that the server was unavailable. Normally, protocol would dictate that his immediate superior (who claimed to be working on reports at home) had the sole authorization to enter the server room, and should no proper authority be present, Nitan was required to e-mail his immediate supervisor, his supervisor and the assistant department manager and await further instructions. Because the gods of business derived pleasure from the ironic misery of their worshipers, the operations required that the server never be down for longer than the minimum two hours required for monthly maintenance, and any response Nitan received from his superiors would inevitably take at least five hours, after which they would undoubtedly blame him for the incident. Nitan briefly considered the advantages of unemployment and, having decided he would not be so fortunate as to be fired, took the keys to the server room from his supervisor's desk drawer to check up on the servers. He figured the servers simply needed a reboot.

His back now against the wall, Nitan continued to beat his own mind, having scavenged through what little the totality of his life answered for his current life-and-death situation. Nitan's eyes remained locked on Lila, noticing the blood stain on her shirt still appeared wet, and even in his shock, pieced together that she could not have died more than a day ago. The realization of foul play finally sunk into his head, and despite his full awareness that the killer was long gone, instinct screamed at him to leave immediately. His hand reached for the door handle when he stopped in place. Nitan snapped his gaze around the corners of the room, fearful of possible cameras present and staring back at him. When he saw none, the yell of instinct seemed more distant, and his attention back on the dead form of Lila. It was then that he noticed writing on her hand. Nitan bent down and, with the most delicate of care, turned her hand over to see “operation_apocalypse.exe“ and “sisyphus” below it. The server monitor glowed its multicolor screensaver upon Lila's face, which caught his attention. Nitan moved to the monitor, nudged the mouse, and glanced at Lila once more, before typing the executable file in the command prompt. A password field appeared, and his hands struggled to type “sisyphus” before hitting the enter key. His eyes grew wide as he saw a database, listing all the programs he watched run over the years, images of satellite trajectories and media feeds pouring over military networks across the world with launch codes to various secret instruments of warfare. Programs all made possible by business made through the Comnetrix Corporation. Programs all made possible from those like himself: faceless and unable, or unwilling, to face what was right in front of them.

Nitan turned once more to look at Lila. He knew he was facing a fate just like hers. The company he had worked for loomed too large, and Nitan stood too small. However, there was at least one force larger than even the Comnetrix Corporation, though it was a long shot. Furiously, he opened internet browser tabs, one after another, opening every major news site, blog, message board, and social network he could think of to try.

The public would have to be made known.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Unknown Chapter of Abandoned Anonymous

Fifteen minutes already passed since Susannah May last checked the time on her aging flip-phone, and that had been fifteen minutes after she stayed waiting for company to arrive. She shuffled her posture a bit on the wooden booth seat. Her eyes wandered, hoping to see somebody walk around the corner in the rather forgettable tavern despite the fact that she would easily hear anyone approaching. The tavern at this late hour of the night was devoid of life, save the sole owner back in the kitchen cleaning.

Susannah stretched her arms over her head, then let her arms flop back onto the table in front of her. Many would say the wait wasn't worth it, and they would be right. For Susannah, though, little could be done but wait. There was always the option to leave, but...

The entrance door clicked open just then, and two men stepped through and towards her table. One wore what appeared to be a military pilot’s orange jumpsuit with lieutenant stripes on his shoulder, and he guided the other, who wore what resembled a peasant farmer’s attire, to follow him.

“Susie?” the first asked rhetorically. “Sorry I’m late. I found a new member for our chapter.” He then took an inventory of the empty seats. “Where’s everyone else?”

“This is it,” Susannah said.

“Oh,” said the man in the jumpsuit with a tone of resignation.

“Could you please tell me now what’s going on?” said the man in the peasant farmer’s attire, his gaze darting with confusion between the two.

“Let’s start slow, Robert,” the man in the jumpsuit said. He gestured towards Susannah. “Robert, this is Susannah. Susie, this is Robert, our newest member. Have a seat, Robert.”

“So what’s his story, Randy?” Susannah asked the man in the jumpsuit.

“We’ll get to that in a moment,” Lieutenant Randy said, slapping Robert down next to Susannah, then sits down himself across from them. “First, drinks. BARKEEP!”

Footsteps start shuffling from the kitchen closer to them.

“What is this place?” Robert asked. “It’s as if I stepped into the pages of a history book.”

“History book, you say,” Lieutenant Randy said with mild fascination. “Well, let’s just say for now you’re with good company who know what you’re going through. We’re a support group—ah, barkeep! I’ll have a Foster’s, the lady will have—“

“A cosmo, please,” Susannah interjected.

“—and he will have… hmm. We should probably stick with water. You OK with that?”

Robert nodded hesitantly.

“And a water for him, thank you,” Lieutenant Randy finished. The barkeep jotted on his notepad, then shuffled back towards the kitchen. Lieutenant Randy leans back in a relaxed posture.

“Alright, Robert,” says Lieutenant Randy, “tell us a little about yourself: who you are, where you come from, what you normally do, what exciting thing may have happened to you not long ago. You don’t happen to be a janitor, do you?”

“A what?” Robert asked.

“Um, someone who cleans up dirt and stuff, generally in places like schools and offices.”
“No. I’m a farmer.”

“Right, I should have figured from get-up. You just remind me of a friend I know, is all. I’m sorry, please tell us your tale.”

“Well,” Robert started, “There’s not really much to tell. Like I said, I’m just a farmer from a town called Cylerna. Funny you should ask about exciting things that happened recently, though. Up until maybe a week ago…or was it a month? It’s hard to say, really. As I was saying though, up until recently, my life was pretty peaceful. Dull, even. Then, during a dark and stormy night, I was attacked by a monsterous…beast, I would call it. I defended myself and managed to slay it.”

“I see,” Lieutenant Randy said. “Did you slay it with a weapon handed down to you by someone close?”

“Why…yes, actually,” Robert said with surprise and suspicion in his voice. “A dagger from my father. He was a soldier while he was still alive.”

“Did you know him well?” Susannah asked Robert. Robert started to answer, then stopped and thought about it.

“No, not really,” Robert said. “I mean, I thought I did, but then I realized that I can’t recall much anything about him. I know his name was Fredrick, and his mother – my grandmother – survived the atrocities of the Years of Darkness over half a century ago, though she never told any of us who my father’s father was. It was something that a stranger soon after the incident claimed to know…”

“Please, continue,” Susannah said.

“Well, this stranger claimed he was a demon and that he sent the beast, or as he called it, an imp, after me as some sort of test, one I apparently passed. He then offered me knowledge of my grandfather if I joined him to search for what I assumed to be treasure of some sort. Now, normally, I wouldn’t give this stranger a second thought. He was obviously some sort of con man under the guise of a make-believe monster of superstitious lore. I don’t take stock in any claims of the supernatural, mind you, nor do I go about committing crimes. However, for the first time in my life, I felt I was meant for something, that I was meant to go on this journey with this stranger, that I would finally know the one mystery in my life I cared to know, however far-fetched the possibility may have been. I felt I could hardly do otherwise but to accept his offer. From there, I must confess that the details are still a blur in my head. We came across a stout bearded man with an axe—“

“Sorry to interrupt,” Lieutenant Randy said, “but was he, by chance, about yey-high, wearing a horned helmet with a dirty blue tunic and blackened yellow cape?”

“Yes—do you know him?”

“Possibly, but that’s not important right now. Please finish your story.”
“As I said, the rest is still a blur to me. After the stout man was forced to join us, we ventured out into the sea to a larger sea vessel, where the stranger claimed the treasure would be found. Other people arrived, though, and a fight broke out. Were I not a man of reason, I’d say that some of those fighting were angels and demons, but in the chaos of all the fighting, I’m sure I was seeing things. The ship took damage and began to sink, and I was sure that I would drown then and there. I blacked out, and when I came about, I found myself on the shore of an unfamiliar coastline not far from here, strangely dry and no worse for wear. That is when you – Randy, is it? – found me and offered to help me with my bearings. I’m still of mind that I may be dreaming right now.”

Susannah and Lieutenant Randy both looked at Robert in contemplative fascination throughout his speaking, though Lieutenant Randy came off as if he were already familiar with the story. Robert lowered a hand surreptitiously to his hip as his suspicions rose.

“I’ve told you my tale,” Robert said. “Now, if it’s not too much to ask, tell me what it is you want with me.”

“We don’t want anything from you,” Lieutenant Randy begun to say, then leaned towards Robert. “Look, there’s something you need to know. You’re not going to believe it, and when you realize what I’m saying is true, you’re not going to like it. I can tell because it’s written all over you. You’re the straight man, doggedly stuck firm in more-or-less the ‘real world’ as it’s sometimes called, and your whole purpose is to be confronted with your mistaken beliefs.”

“Are you going to tell me that angels and demons exist too?” Robert said as he rolled his eyes.

“Not quite,” said Lieutenant Randy. “I can’t tell you whether they exist or not, but they exist at least in fiction, just as you do.”

“I’m not following,” Robert said. Lieutenant Randy pulled out a smartphone from one of his pockets, continuing to talk to Robert with his attention focused on his phone.

“I’ll spell it out, because subtlety is not my forte: you are a fictional character -- a forgotten fictional character, to be more accurate, just like me and Susie here. I’ve had this conversation enough times to know how this goes. You scoff at the idea, we show you the story you come from, you deny it some more, it sinks in, you get angry, you’ll probably try bargaining with the Writers to wipe your memories or something, then when they don’t listen, you’ll get all depressed and then, hopefully, accept your fate. I won’t lie to you, though – a lot of forgotten characters kill themselves to try and give closure and drama to their lives, and sometimes that’s enough to be remembered again. Some of them off themselves just because they can’t handle it all. Some of them just wander away as if they never existed. Trust me when I say that being a work of fiction is not what should concern you. It actually resolves a lot of mysteries in one’s life, one’s purpose becomes quite clear, at least some part of said life is often meaningful to a lot of people, and once you know you’re a fictional character, there’s a lot of fun to be had. A forgotten character, though, that’s a whole different story. In fiction, death can bring you glory, and you’re almost assured at least an afterlife, if you haven’t just outright ignored death altogether. When you’re forgotten, however, it’s as if you never existed. Nobody cares about you, your sense of purpose suddenly falls from under your feet—ah, here we go. Took a bit of searching, but I found the story you came from. Have a look.”

Lieutenant Randy handed his smartphone to Robert, who reluctantly took it. Robert’s eyes slowly hardened as he read over the text before him. He sat paralyzed before he finished reading what was on the screen. Susannah held the hand Robert held the phone in with her own.

“We know what you’re going through, and even if you don’t believe us now, we’re always here for you. I have a place not far from here, and you can stay with me, if you wish. I know the pain of being forgotten even before I knew I was just a character, because that was what defined my stories. All of them short, all of them with the same futile notion that the man I loved would remember and return to me if I just waited. I still can’t help but wait for him, but I know that my stories have been forgotten and my writer has abandoned me. We will never abandon you.”

“Unlike the barkeep,” Lieutenant Randy muttered. “I think he forgot about us.”

The sounds of shuffling footsteps approached the table.

“Spoke too soon,” said Lieutenant Randy. The barkeep placed their drinks on the table, not once having turned his attention to them, and then proceeded back to the kitchen. Susannah gently removed the phone from Robert’s hand and replaced it with his glass of water. She then took hold of her own drink, as did Lieutenant Randy.

“To the forgotten,” Susannah said as she raised her glass. Lieutenant Randy did the same, and the two of then turned their attention to Robert. His gaze, firmly locked to nothingness before, now fell to Lieutenant Randy, then to Susannah, then to his own glass of water, before having looked back up with his glass raised.

“May they be remembered,” Robert said.

The three clinked their glasses together, Robert and Susannah sipping their drinks as Lieutenant Randy downed his.

“You’ll never be forgotten, Ten-Four,” Lieutenant Randy whispered.

“Ten-Four?” Robert asked.

“Oh, tell that story, Randy!” Susannah chimed.

“I really should get going to Annual Forgotten Character convention before page twenty-seven…” Lieutenant Randy started to say. “Ah, what the hell! Let me tell you about a story that started off as a knock-off to Star Wars…”

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Diary of a Malcontent Wanderer

13th October 2011
or Why I Have to Go (Away From the Beaten Path)

“Because I am the Devil of Solitude, that's why.”

That was from an anime called “The Fantastic Adventure of Unico” but I doubt anyone reading this now would have heard of it. After all, everyone is on the beaten path, the safe path, afraid to wander and find something new, something unique, make their own path like people used to do instead of following whatever the media tells them. I have to go off the beaten path because, if I don't, who will? This diary of mine will document my journey into originality and my thoughts free from others who would judge me in their ignorance.

I was inspired to start this today because my Communications professor, Dr. Lovestrange, infuriated me with the crap he was spouting today. He usually rambles on about the media as if it were a portal into the human soul, that understanding the media makes it possible to understand ourselves – that in itself frustrated me as it was. The media isn't a portal, it's a prison for your mind! Today was the last straw, though, as he actually tried to talk about The Matrix as something special. God, even Harry Potter is less mainstream than that sell-out trash! It would have been tolerable if he at least talked about Brazil or Run Lola Run instead, even if they're still movies we all already have seen, but no. Not that I care about movies, per se -- I only watch ones ironically, like Troll 2. Regardless, though, I will vow from this day to never set foot on the beaten path again.

Today is the start of my long journey. I think I'll end tonight snacking on goat cheese and play some Little Nemo on my original Nintendo system before entering Slumberland for real.

14th October 2011
or How I Went Past “Underground” and into the Minus World

I planned to write my lengthy thoughts today on my iPad at the Starbucks today, before someone else does and it becomes the “cool” thing, but... ugh, whatever.

15th October 2011
or _________________________

I am too distraught to think of a fitting title or an appropriate quote for my diary entry right now. Today, I met someone who said I was a hipster.

Who were they to judge? They didn’t know me. It was just some guy on campus who yelled out that I was a “stupid hipster” and kept on walking. So what if I like to drink only organic, locally-grown Peruvian mushroom tea and not Lipton instant with Domino sugar packets and processed milk from ill-treated bovine? So what if I only dress with clothes from the GoodWill thrift store and avoid the major department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s? So what if I don’t watch American TV programs like Jersey Shore or House and prefer Japanese anime series in their original voice acting such as FLCL (and not Fooly Cooly like those god-awful English translators would have you think)? So what if I only play video games made in the last fifteen years that sold less than a hundred thousand copies such as Cheetahmen II? So what if I don’t define myself by the gender or sexual preference labels such as male or female or straight or gay or bi? So what if I only listened to bands like Arcade Fire and The Cure before they sold out? So what if I refuse to read The Lord of the Rings because it was turned into a major motion picture trilogy? So what if I refuse to use a PC like every drone on the planet, opting instead for my Mac? So what if I actually look forward to a new Apple product coming out? So what if I still use my ten year old Livejournal account purely to make an ironic commentary? So what if I spell “colour” with a “u” in it even though I live in Southern California? So what if I consider myself Gaelic-American in spirit even though my ethnicity is technically German so I can broaden my horizons to cultural practices nobody knows about? So what if I am part of a Buddhist sect no one has heard of to show just how disgruntled I am with the capitalist, commercial consumer lifestyle they want for the sheeple masses? So what if I only spend time with other like-minded brethren who understand me? So what? Just because I fit some mainstream label for a group of people who also refuse to shop mainstream, eat mainstream, drink mainstream, watch and listen to mainstream entertainment, play mainstream games, follow mainstream gender labels, read mainstream books, use mainstream computers, speak with mainstream vocabulary, all in the name of irony and originality when possessing neither and falling instead for a marketable mainstream trend – that makes me a so-called hipster?


No. That random stranger may think that, and may want to convince me that as well, but it’s not going to work. I know full well that plenty of phony people out there fall as hipsters. They are hypocrites who are not after true originality or even ironically mocking unoriginality – they are after showing other people that they are unique and original while just being part of another homogenous group of followers. I am not a hipster. I am nothing like a hipster. In fact, I just put in my order online for my T-shirt that says “I am a hipster” in morse code to make an ironic statement about the whole thing because I am fed up with the hipster fad.

Tonight, before I go to sleep, I think I’ll play a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (or Call of Duty 6 as it should be called) on my brother’s Xbox 360. Ironically, of course. Tomorrow, I will continue my journey of wandering in search of originality and individuality in a world where the blind are leading the blind.