Category Archives: Fiction

When the World Ends, There Will Be No More Brunch

end_of_the_world_brunchWhen the world ends, there will be no more brunch. Dirty mimosa glasses will lie shattered on the sidewalks, cloudy with bits of orange pulp and the rubble dust that comes from the inside of walls. Uneaten bits of orange glazed brioche french toast will grow stale underneath piles of dry wall and brick, the hollandaise sauce splattered across the concrete pillars and grown crusty on exposed rebar.

The walk-in freezer full of organic and free-range meats will be cracked open, exposed to radioactive air and the never ending orange glow of fire. The wait list – a plastic dry-erase board with “Kelly – 3; George – 4; Emily – 3, etc. etc.” will be melted to a rock, no names to be crossed off again, no one to be relieved from their waiting ever again, never to sit down and get hot cups of organic locally-roasted coffee while looking over the freshly-printed paper menu, chatting excitedly about who will order what and can we split and swap and shouldn’t we have something sweet and something savory.

All of the coffee cups are broken, the wooden tables burnt up, the lighting fixtures exploded and the windows blown in, the electronics equipment completely melted into a more original, more natural form.

Vapors and ash gust through the empty streets of the city, no thing moving, no dogs barking, bits of charred paper taking wing and landing in charcoal squares that used to be parks, little mounds of dog poop turned into lumps of coal.

The sun rises red and sets red – like the homemade berry syrup the sous chef had drizzled over buckwheat pancakes. And then the endless poison clouds come, no longer rich and white like the home-made whipped cream that came on the belgian waffles but smeary and rust colored – like the milk that’s gone sour and molded in millions of fridges across the entire earth.

Aside from the fires, the only sounds are the settling of buildings as they move inevitably closer to the earth, something snapping and then falling, a creak and then a crash, and then more silence. Fire is the only living thing, except for the swarms of insects that breed in the burnt waste of mankind and thrive off the radioactive decay of the earth, relishing the noxious winds.

They grow strong, scorning the brunch remains of humankind, the arugula, the oats, the goat cheese. They bite into the concrete itself, into the tempered glass and the computer chips, devouring and digesting all physical things humans created, the monuments to themselves and their achievements, their books and park benches and bar stools, until nothing remains.

And then they turn to the earth itself and start digging down, down and down, with insatiable appetite they slurp up the mantle of the earth and bite into its tectonic plates, savoring the magnetic buzz they get as they get closer to the core of the earth. Millions of them, trillions of them all tunneling deeper until they reach the very center and, upon seeing their destination, they lick their lips and dig in until it is all gone.

And the earth, having lost its heart, is conscious that it is very sad about that and wishes it had it back, but now there’s nothing left to do, nothing left to feel, and so it sighs and then falls back into orbit, staring out into the endless universe and wondering what comes next.

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Lord of the Blog

One blog to rule them all, one blog to find them. One blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, in the blogosphere where the shadows lie.

Beware of Mark.

Long ago, in an age that has been forgotten, evil covered the earth. Men struck each other down with their hands, teenagers used poor spelling in social media posts, and children dreamt nightly of living inside a television, in order to break the last barrier between them and the only thing they loved. Humans were slaves of chaos, fear, and greed. Art was rendered impossible, as was music. Only bare shrieks were heard in the never-ending nights.

Then hope came in the form of the Googles, a race sent from Outside to restore order to the earth, a daunting task. But the Googles were a wise race, emboldened with cutting-edge technology and neat glasses. They were strong, powerful, and benevolent. Through their kind words and endless tutorials, the people began to hear and see beyond themselves for the first time after years in the dark.

Decades of toil passed until music could be heard in the streets once again, spilling over from warm homes that were broken no longer. Art covered the walls of cities, and men and women greeted each other with a smile and a how-do-you-do as they went about their business.

But the peace was not to last, for living among the Googles and the earth peoples there lay a snake in the grass, a wolf in sheepskin, a polar bear in a baby seal suit, and its name was Mark. It gets a little complicated, but essentially Mark was a fallen archangel with some serious attitude problems and the overwhelming desire for everyone to worship him. Alas, through his aura of salivation-inducing coolness and his superior coding abilities, he fooled the Googles and earth peoples into giving him their trust, and they knew not that they spelled their own ruin.

Baiting them with honeyed words, Mark used the Googles to construct the ultimate weapon of all time: the blogosphere. He told them that it would be a massive art project, something of true beauty, where anyone who wanted to could write or post or share to their hearts content and thus enrich the lives of other earth dwellers. And thus it was a thing of true beauty, with one horrifying, deadly flaw.

He enlisted their help in building one Blog that was to guide the others and help them achieve their full potential. It was to be the most powerful Blog in the blogosphere, one that only Mark could use. And so it happened. He created a blog so compelling, so readable, that all others wanted to be like it and bent to its will. Each keystroke controlled an army and every post could incite millions to action or passivity. The world breathed only with the Blog’s permission.

With hearts and minds in sway, Mark soon used the one Blog to inspire the earth dwellers to war with the Googles, and the age of prosperity was no more, with darkness once again consuming the earth and cat pictures populating the blogosphere.

Ages later, the password to the Blog was lost and Mark was diminished and moved to Minneapolis. But still the Blog waits, for those who would find it and aspire to wield its power and become Lord of the Blog.

But there is only one. And he is in Minneapolis. Fellow bloggers, beware.

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Earth in 2012 Was So Ridiculous

At least there’s wifi on the spaceship.

One day, far in the future, when my grandchildren are sitting on my lap, wearing their space blankets as planets whiz by and the artificial fire roars on our hearthSCREEN, asking me to tell them another story before taking their bedtime Pillz and going off to Dreamland®, they’ll say, “Tell us the story of your first job after you got back from Egypt, Nana! Tell us!”

And I’ll say, “What? That old marketing position I found on Craig’s List?”

“Yes yes yes yes yes!” They’ll say.

“But doesn’t it bore you?”

“No!”

“Not even when I talk about B2B marketing tactics and search engine optimization and quantitative analysis?”

“No!” And they’ll laugh because social media is a thing of the past. With chips in our brains, being social is no longer a choice.

“We like hearing about the days before the Great Singularity when earth dwellers still devoted their lives to monetary compensation in pursuit of the happiness.”

“You kids are bizarre.”

“Tell us, Nana, tell us!”

“Okay, fine.”

“So after I got back from Egypt in the year 2012.”

“Wow, Nana, you’re so old!” “So old Grandma!” “Practically ancient!”

“Umm….yeah. So anyways. After I returned to the former United States of America…”

“Hahahahaha! The United States of America! How quaint! What, did you all still putt around in your Honda Accords! Hahahahaha!”

“Shut up, 43X.”

“Sorry, Nana.”

“So I returned to the former USA, and moved to San Francisco.”

“Was that the first city destroyed by our all-knowing overlords for having become too decadent and frittering away its considerable capital on luxury fashion and alcohol for dogs?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“Hahaha!” “Hahahaha!” “Oh, Sparky would like another cucumber gimlet!” “But don’t spill it on his Gucci bow tie!” “Hahahahaha!”

“Do you all want to hear the story or not? We’ve only got a few more minutes before Dreamland® starts.”

“Please, Nana! Please!”

“Okay, so in the former city of San Francisco, I spent many hours perusing Craig’s List for job opportunities.”

“What, Craig’s List like where the incredibly lonely earth beings publicized their pathetic desires and revealed their naïve belief that posting a missed connection would lead them to any kind of satisfaction, even if they were to meet the person with which they supposedly felt some kind of connection?”

“Okay, I’m done. Take your Pillz.”

“Hahahahaha! Earth in 2012 was so ridiculous! I’m thankful and glad for our all-powerful and munificent overlords!”

“Night, dummies. See you in Dreamland®.”

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Fake Backstories of San Francisco Neighborhood Names: The Mission

Mission Dolores and the site of the Great Carnitas Cook-off

Journey with me, if you will, back to the magical peninsula on which is situated that most unusual of cities, San Francisco, a gleaming wonder, 7×7 miles of living myths, tree huggers, dog lovers, and Banana Republic wearers.

Directly south of the city center is a sunny, burrito-scented patch known as The Mission, not A Mission, or Mission, or Mision, but “The Mission.” Its population is divided more and more evenly between feather-wearing hipsters and the more original hair-gel wearing latinos.

Dolores Park lies at the heart of The Mission, a park named for the nearby Mission Dolores, and the site from which the nearby restaurants have taken their carnitas recipes, perfected by Father Junipero Serra in the year 1779, the year of The Great Carnitas Cook-Off.

At the time of its founding in 1776, Mission Dolores was one of 18 different missions located in the city, each run by a brother of the same mother. The founders of these missions were drawn to SF because of its reputation for being a liberal lighthouse and a place where people could have a go at being themselves. In general, they disapproved of this laissez faire attitude and wanted to shut it down and end the rampant short-wearing that was going on at the time.

So 18 brothers came out to the city and each one set up his own mission, with Father Junipero Serra choosing the rather wise location of what would come to be known as The Mission—sunny and flat, it was both easy and pleasant for the friars to bike around and get their morning lattes.

Next to God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, the Serra brothers loved them some good carnitas. In addition to the prayers and confessionals, in each of the missions was also non-stop innovation in the realm of this delicious fried pork dish. Each week, the brothers revealed their latest carnitas creations and the parishioners would rejoice and partake.

After about a year, however, with the congregations growing and the general population feeling over-served by the well meaning but all too present Serra brothers, it became painfully obvious that 18 missions in such a small area was probably too much. The short-wearing problem was already under control, and the brothers were getting tired of meeting potential parishioners only to find they were already in attendance at their brother’s mission.

It was decided at a family meeting that only five missions were to remain open in the city, and that those missions would be chosen in a great carnitas cook-off. Each brother rushed off to their mission and began preparation for the carnitas battle.

On September 17th, 1779, the day before the contest, Father Junipero Serra prayed a mighty prayer to the Lord.

“Lord, make my carnitas an instrument of your peace. Where there is toughness, may there be tenderness, where there is dryness, may there be moisture. Lord grant that I may honor and glorify you in the carnitas cook-off, and I shall exalt your name forever and ever.”

And the Lord did hear Father Junipero’s prayer, and his carnitas that day were filled with a holy flavor that none has ever tasted the likes of since. His brothers and parishioners alike were in awe of the indescribable flavor, and rumor has it that some shouted for Junipero’s immediate sainthood upon tasting his saintly creation.

And thus his mission, Mission Dolores was named The Great Mission, and he stayed in the city along with his five favorite brothers. Over time, The Great Mission was corrupted to just The Mission, and the name was given to the area within the carnitas sway of Father Junipero.

And that was fake history. Because research takes time.

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Fake Backstories of San Francisco Neighborhood Names: The Sunset

When living in the city gets too exciting, head to the sunset.

Stanley Kubrick loved to eat dry toast in the morning. A tortured, artistic, soul, he refused to put anything on his bread to soften its coarseness or ease its transition down the gullet, as he wished to be reminded of the dull, dryness of everyday life and its sad, petty cruelties, all of which he captured in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he filmed in San Francisco in the neighborhood to be known as the Sunset.

The filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey took over ten years, largely because Kubrick insisted that the bulk of the movie be endlessly interweaving psychedelic patterns that he created by rearranging small pieces of colored felt on a gigantic black felt board. Because of the area’s damp climate, the felt board would invariably become wet and unusable from fog moisture, which leaked into the studio despite his best efforts, and the team would regularly shut down filming and have a pint or two at Durty Nelly’s, where Kubrick would always talk at length about the dry toast he ate every morning. After the fourth year, the film crew tired of the same spiel and especially the phrase “petty cruelties,” so it was a great relief when the film was finished and released to great critical acclaim, something that surprised everyone without exception. Stanley Kubrick ate an extra slice of dry toast the morning he read the NYT review because he tended to quash feelings of excitement with bland, unpleasant food.

At the time of Kubrick’s film involvement in San Francisco, the Sunset was called Fogtown, which was an accurate name though the residents hated being dismissed as fog dwellers and portrayed in the media as “too moist to be human.” The fog people would often protest the rampant media prejudice in the Financial District during lunchtime, when they would blockade the entrances to sandwich shops, cafes, and public transit entrances with their very bodies. The distress was unbearable and the stock market suffered accordingly after every suit was forced to pack a lunch during a full week of lunchtime lie-ins. The police department decided to take action.

Stanley Kubrick, an artiste, decided that the only proper way to experience the film of his heart’s desire was to project it on a sheet that blanketed a building, and shut down the entire downtown area in order to subject movie-comers, hot dog vendors, and passers-by alike to his brilliance. Besides, the fog people were planning another protest on the day of the movie’s release so most people were prepared for mayhem and un-productivity. Secretly, the police lay in wait with banana cream pies with which they would lure the fog people’s off their soggy bottoms and away from sandwich shops.

A carefully orchestrated blackness descended over the city, summoned from the incredibly disturbed and misunderstood mind of Stanley Kubrick. As the movie flashed onto the screen, downtown bustle ground to a halt, the only noise heard the occasional flapping of a tourist’s map. In the alleyways, police readied their pies for the fog people.

The film meandered, reached its climax somewhere, and then denouemented and ended. The crowd lay, sat, stood, or leaned in awe and confusion at what they had just seen. Munching on a piece of dry toast, Kubrick rose and spoke a few words, the most important of which were these:

“This was filmed in Fogtown over a period of ten years. I have grown old there and am now reaching the sunset of my life (he wasn’t actually old—he was just being dramatic), and I remember a day in January three years ago, when I saw the sun sinking into the ocean and imagined myself as similar to the sun, a brilliant orb also seeking the depths, which I have found now in the sunset of my years because of this movie (again, he’s just being dramatic), and in the neighborhood that shall now be known as The Sunset.”

And the people did cheer and everyone did eat banana cream pie and the name stuck.

And that was fake history. Because research takes time.

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