Friday, May 18, 2018

And I'll never be royal


I feel like I've seen that pose and that fascinator before.


Ah, here we are.


Ecce princeps!

Monday, May 14, 2018

When you think about it...

Hotcakes don't sell any better than a lot of other things.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Restaurant at the End of Print Media

SCENE: The People's Kitchen. It would be indistinguishable from any large, restaurant kitchen, except for the immense barbeque pit that dominates the room and the the large cages lining the walls, draped in shadow, all but entirely concealing the occupants within. Delicious smelling pieces of meat slowly turn on spits and racks above the glowing red coals. Above the double-doored entrance is a hand-painted sign, faintly yellowed with greasy soot, depicts a jolly chef carrying a platter with a roast pig wearing green eyeshades, a pencil behind one ear, and an apple in its mouth, followed by several waiters carrying assorted dishes, drinks, and garnishes. On a painted banner flying over the procession is a slogan written in playful, cursive script that reads, "If it bleeds, it leads!" Below the sign is an electronic counter reading "Now serving..." and the number '6529' in red LED lights.

A man in a bloodied chef's apron, carrying a massive cleaver, approaches one of the cages and speaks as he begins to fiddle with the lock. His voice is deep and gravelly:
"6529. I believe that's your number, Mr. Baquet."

"No it isn't! My number is 8981! See?!" The shape in the cage holds a tatty piece of paper against the bars. Written upon it are the digits '8981'.

"That says 6529. Now let's not make a scene, Mr. Baquet. The spit has been oiled the the coals are red hot."

"What? No! It says '8981', not '6529'! My ticket is 8981!"

"So you say. If we must, we will let The Readers decide."

The chef snatches the ticket from the caged man's hand and walks around the barbeque pit to a stainless steel-lined opening the wall; the pass-through window. He rings the service bell once and exchanges words with someone or something on the other side of the window.

Moments later, a waiter strides through the door, leading a couple and two small children. All four are wearing bibs depicting a generic newspaper front page. The bold, 60 pt headline reads LOREM IPSUM, and immediately below it is a greyscale photo of a locomotive that has erupted through the second storey wall of a building and is resting forlornly on its cow-catcher. To add insult to injury, a man in navy whites is trying to dip and kiss the distressed locomotive as confetti and ticker tape rains down. A smear of ketchup on the smallest child's bib gives the image a grisly overtone.

The chef joins the waiter and the family of diners and the six of them walk back to the cage. The two young children gleefully run to the cage, poke their fingers through the bars, and chatter to each other excitedly, while the chef addresses the adults.

"There seems to be some...controversy surrounding your entrée. I have called his number, but he protests that the number isn't his." The chef holds the ticket out for all of them, and points to the 'Now Serving...' counter. "As you can see, there are four numbers on the ticket, and the counter. Obviously, they are a match."

"But they aren't!" screams the man in the cage. And then, to the children prodding him, "I told you, I am not J. Jonah Jameson!"

The waiter scrutinizes both the ticket and the sign. "My apologies, but it appears that your entrée is correct. The numbers do not match. We are terribly sorry for the inconvenience. May I recommend a pundit instead? And of course, your pre-dinner drinks are compliments of the house."

"What do you think, Honey?" the man says to the woman. "The numbers don't match. I know you had your heart set on editor, but we've come all this way."

"Well, the numbers don't match, but let's not let that spoil our night out. I'm sure there's something else on the menu that will be just as good."

"Oh, thank you! Thank you!" The man in the cage is almost crying with relief.
Suddenly the children turn from the cage and stare at the adults, their faces almost feral with rage:

"BUT WE WANT TO EAT J JONAH JAMESON! WE PROMISED SPIDERMAN!"

"But children, the numbers don't match!" reassures the woman. The man looks slightly embarrassed.

"YES THEY DO! J JONAH JAMESON IS GOING TO BE OUR D DINNER DINNERSON!" the children scream.

The man and woman look to the waiter and chef with imploring eyes. "Now that I look more closely, it does seem that the numbers match after all," the woman says, while the man nods in agreement, his bib folding and unfolding, obscuring the photo, making it look as if the locomotive is extending and retracting a bell bottom moustache.

The waiter, beginning to worry that his other tables may need tending, crouches before the cage and addresses the man within. "It seems our guests have a robust Difference of Opinion."

"But they're wrong! They're wrong! It's not my number! Please, don't let them eat me!" pleads the caged man.

"The People have spoken. You are number 6529." He nods to the chef, and turns back to the couple.
"Again, I am so sorry for the inconvenience. I will take you back to your table, and leave the chef to prepare your meal. But while we have Chef's attention, did you want your entrées with baked potato or spring vegetables?"

"Oh, we'll have both sides, please."

Saturday, March 03, 2018

"Hi, and welcome to 'Tell Everybody, Why Don't You?' How may I help you expose your deepest, darkest, most precious secrets to the greatest number of libertarian males aged 19–34 who have access to both the internet and their parents' collection of 70s vinyl?"

"I'm looking to start a secret society to infiltrate all upper echelons of governments world-wide, and I'm not sure where to start."

"Well, you've come to the right place, my friend. I can definitely get you on your way. But first I hope you don't mind answering a few questions. Is your conspiracy to be ethnicity- or alien-controlled?"

"Alien."

"Greys or Lizard People?"

"Blancmange."

"Classic. Now, what about your people on the ground? Are they to take the form of a service club, an Ivy-league fraternity, or a cable news network?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I can only help ensure your conspiracy is as widely and broadly known as possible. You'll still need to provide the conspirators. Personally, I'd recommend against the fraternity with an alien-based conspiracy—even conspiracy theorists find the idea of aliens traveling the vastness of space to chug from beer bongs and carry eggs between their butt-cheeks little far-fetched."

"Oh, right. Um, service club?"

"Good choice. Here are your strange hats. Now, what about symbology? Are you partial to antiquities, geometry, or prog rock album covers?"

"I don't know."

"Well, do you want your conspiracy to look ancient, Middle Eastern, or undiscoverable until the advent of acid and amp feedback?"

"Ooh, that's a tough choice."

"Well, alien service clubs are pretty flexible. We can do up a media package that incorporates a little of all three. Anyway, I think I've got all I need for now. It'll take me a day or so to work up an estimate. I'll contact you via crop circles in a farm outside of Framlingham when it's done. If you like what you see, simply build a sacrificial ziggurat in Belize, and we'll get started."

"Sounds great. Hey, listen: I'm a bit short, so when do you think I can start to see some returns?"

"Oh, I anticipate that within three months you'll be blamed for everything from the taste of aspartame to storms in Africa."

"The Enya song?"

"That too."

"Okay, but I meant in terms of money. When does that start flowing our way?"

"Money? What does that have to do with anything?"

"What? Money is the reason for having a cabal! Money and power! Otherwise, what's the point?!"

"I'm afraid you've been fed some bad information. The point of a secret global cabal is to convince as many conspiracy theorists as possible that they've discovered a secret global cabal. And putting eyeball pyramids on bills; 'cause that's just funny. As for operational funds; you're already planning to infiltrate governments, so you'll be covered. It's called corruption in the developing world, and lobbying in the developed."

"Damn. I really had my eye on something more sinister."

"When you become a government official, you could always find an industry that's working well and not killing people, and then deregulate it."

"Phooey. That stinks."

"West Virginia already has a governor, but you're thinking in the right direction. Now, if there's nothing else I can help you with right now, please excuse me. A high-ranking official is expected to die within twenty to twenty-five years, and I need to forecast that via carefully placed hedges in a neighbourhood park in Rotterdam."

"Which official?"

"Wait twenty to twenty-five years, and you tell me."

Friday, February 23, 2018

Hygge & the Brain

Me [walking while enjoying random Styx earworm]: "If walking to and from work today doesn't return my body to its svelte, 19-year-old physique, we'll know definitively that all of medical science is a lie."

Brain: "Hey! Hey! See that railing? What if...you licked it?"

Me: "What? I know that trick! It's metal and minus double-digits outside: I'll stick."

Brain: "Maybe you won't. You won't know unless you try."

Me: "We tried this! Remember the firefighter pole on the playground at recess in Grade 1? And then a few months later with the snow shovel? We go through this every time it gets cold. The experiment has been reproduced, and the results have been signed, sealed, delivered (I'm yours!)"

Styx earworm [annoyed]: "{Ahem!} ♬IT'S YOOOOOOOU, BABE, WHENEVER BLAH-BLAH SOMETHING AND I'VE HMMMM-THIIING ELSE!♩"

Brain: "Look again. Maybe that railing isn't metal after all! What if it's a new kind of concrete you don't know about? That might taste fun."

Me: "Hmm. You think? What say you, Tongue?"

Tongue: "Leave me out of this, Mouth-Breather."

Me: "IT'S CALLED APNEA!"

Tongue: "Whatever, Trog. Anyway, I'm busy warring against incisors. Have at thee, occlusion! I shall worry you until I blister!"

Brain: "♪Let's all lick some raaailings, let's all lick some raaaaailings, let's all lick some raaaailings, and have ourselves a snack!♫"

Styx earworm [pissed off now]: "♫DO-LEE-LO-LAH-LO, DOO-LE-LO-LAH-LO, BABE, I LOVE YOU!♬"

Me [snapping out of spell]: "No, it's dirty."

Brain: "Lightly seasoned."

Me: "Nicked and abraded."

Brain: "Texture is tasty!"

Me: "What if a dog peed on it? Or someone spit at that exact spot?"

Brain: "Really? What are the chances of that?"

Me: "..."

[20 minutes later]

Me: "Mmmph. I yawys yated you, Bwain."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Alternative Medicine on Tatooine

"Thank the maker! This oil bath is going to feel so good. I've got such a bad case of dust contamination, I can barely move!"

"Beeoop."

"What do you mean 'dust contamination doesn't exist'? Honestly, your joking is getting quite out of hand. Do you want to upset our new master?"

"He's right, Threepio. All of your joints are sealed against dust. If dust contamination were possible, your servos would leak fluid and you'd freeze up from lack of lubrication long before the dust became a problem."

"Beg pardon, Master, but oil baths have been used in the Core as a treatment for dust contamination for millennia."

"Weeoop beep!"

"Exactly, Artoo. The oil is meant to restore the patina to your outer skin, not remove 'dust'."

"I'm afraid I must disagree, Master Luke. I've done my research on the subject, and protocol droids are highly susceptible to dust contamination, especially on a planet such as this."

"Well, if your joints are uncomfortable, I'll be happy to make some adjustments for you."

"I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I'd rather you didn't. Big Spanner only cares about credits, and overuse of their tools can lead to motivator dysfunction."

"Boop beep weeopeoop!"

"I am not 'anti-hydro'. I simply believe that maintenance schedules should be spaced out so that they're not too much, too soon.

...and that cupping helps me swim faster."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Actual Most Dangerous Game

Rainsford regarded the general warily. He quelled his impulse to press his attack; a beast was at its most dangerous when cornered, and Zaroff, for all his civilized affectations, was perhaps the most dangerous beast he'd ever encountered. Even now, with his clear advantage, he knew he would have to remain sharp if he were to best the general. Ivan said nothing, but left the table. The house shuddered slightly as the normally taciturn manservant betrayed himself with a too-forcefully closed door. There would be no resolution between the two ancient friends come morning, if ever. One down, Rainsford thought.

In the Cossack's cold eyes, he saw murder.

"I think I should very much like to stay here," Rainsford mused as if to himself.

The general softened slightly. "Here? On my island?"

"It's an ideal location for a hotel, wouldn't you agree?"

Rage flashed briefly across Zaroff's visage and then was gone, like the passing of a summer squall, but the whitecaps of his anger remained visible on the swells of his cheeks to those practiced at reading the sea and the faces of men. "Then I shall build one."

"Perhaps you will." Rainsford smiled. "It remains to be seen, however, if you'll be taking up residence in one of its suites, or in a cell."

General Zaroff laughed heartily, startling Rainsford. "The nearest authority is miles away. Here, I am Czar."

"You may not be tried for your crimes, but even a czar may find his home in prison if he does not repay his debts."

Rainsford's taunt was a success. The general snatched up the dice and threw them against the board. One rebounded against his snifter with a dull clink. "Then I shall buy a railroad. My railway empire will rival the Trans-Siberian in its majesty!" he boasted.

"I anticipate riding it, should I get the chance." Rainsford's next move took little thought. His eyes were on Zaroff. He could see the slender man's lip tense under his black moustache.

The general again took up the dice and threw them. When they settled, four pips stared up at the cigar smoke swirling around the ceiling fan. A low moan escaped the man's lips, like the sighing of a carcass as the hunter's knife relieves the bloat. "This is not a test of skill, but of chance! It is a gamble, not a game!"

"That may be. Still, you owe me two thousand dollars. That is, if you wish to stay at my hotel. If not, you forfeit."

"I cannot pay! I will not!" The general's voice thundered in the still evening air.

"I will accept any rolling stock you may have recently acquired."

General Zaroff's eyes narrowed. "I cannot pay. Even if I mortgage every property I own, I cannot pay."

"There is one more property. One that is not on the board."

"But you cannot be serious. This is just a game! I have already lost my manservant! You would take my home, too?"

"Why shouldn't I be serious?" Rainsford asked, as he inspected a tiny thimble against the wan lamplight. "This is, after all, the Most Dangerous Game."

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

—With profuse apologies to Richard Connell

Miami

“I remember when Miami was a city, not a reef,” I told the kids gathered on what once would have been called my lawn, while they rolled pebbles in their mouths to keep their parched tongues from sticking to their palates, “and we used to eat fruit called ‘oranges’ that they grew near there.”

“‘Orange’ isn’t a fruit, it’s the colour of the sky,” they squealed, laughing until they coughed, which wasn’t much laughter at all.

“Was too. They used to have little tiny ones we’d eat at Christmas, when it snowed. They came from China.” They loved to hear me say the name ‘China’. It made me sound even more the ancient relic.

“Zhōngguó! It’s Zhōngguó, Abuelo! And there’s no snow in Edmonton!”

Some of the smaller ones looked restless. They didn’t understand half the words I used, and listening to me wasn’t nearly as fun as kicking over rocks near the tailings ponds, looking for isopods. They weren’t as big and tasty as the isopods their older siblings used to catch, but that was true of most invertebrates these days. Their respiratory systems were much less effective in an increasingly carbonated atmosphere, and it limited their size.

“Niñitos, go on up to the house and see if Grandma Sarah has some old bread. Let’s see if we can’t get some ducks to come feed. Don’t worry; I won’t let them bite you,” I lied. The ducks weren’t afraid of me. Six decades of sound cannons had rendered them fairly deaf, and brave besides. Fortunately, that made them easy to catch as well.

One of the older children knew that as well as I did. Without my having to tell him, he scooped up a handful of oily water from under the dead pine, dribbled it across the rocks in the firepit, and lit it with a deft flick of the remainder of his blunt. I saw a drop of blood well from his dry, cracked lips, where his sticky tongue had caught as he tried to lick them.