Theatrics Theatre

Imagine designing a more perfect human. What would improve? Better memory? Instantaneous learning? Enhanced physical capabilities? Zero bodily defects and an indomitable immune-system? Perhaps amplified intuition with an ability to analyze and comprehend one’s surroundings? Sounds pretty sweet so far, huh?

WRONG! It would be a failed experiment. We know this to be true because no system within our current world works this way. Instead, nothing works quite as it should at all times. The theme here is theatrics. And for drama to happen, stuff must go wrong. If perfect-working-order was a desirable aspect, we’d have it — but we don’t.

EVERYTHING we do here has a flare of the dramatic added into it. “Woe is me!!! The common cold! I’m sick! No, I’m dying! Nay, I ought to carry this burden heroically!!! I must endure! I will show this world who is master and what I’m made of!!! By the Gods, I swear upon this day that I shall persist against mine foe and overcome all odds!!!!!”

Our entire day is simply a string of monologues both internal and external laden with histrionics. From gossip to soliloquies, we always get our daily dose of drama. And NOTHING is wrong with that by the way. It has been described to us for centuries: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” — Shakespeare.

We all don costumes and recite lines appropriate for our roles. Though admittedly we tend to overdue the dramatics. The trick is in NOT keeping in-character at all times. It’s important to sit-back as an audience member and enjoy the ongoings of the wider performance — even laughing at yourself and appreciating your own silliness.

There you have it, our world in a nutshell: an absurd comedy of errors. A realm in which you CANNOT improve upon the characters lest they cease to behave as characters. Without the marrow-of-mistakes that forms our core, the fun would fizzle out. So appreciate this farce and play your part in this “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Telling Tales

Can you tell yourself a story that’ll make you upset? For instance: “I just heard a noise and I’m pretty sure it’s zombies that came to destroy me.” If you can do that, does that mean you can also tell yourself a story that’ll make you feel good? For example: “I just heard a noise and I’m pretty sure it’s Santa Claus that came to deliver an early Christmas present — I can’t wait to open it!!!”

And what if you keep telling yourself pleasant stories from now on? THAT is how you have a great life. Perpetually telling yourself stories that make you feel good, while refraining from telling yourself stories that make you feel bad, is mental discipline. Neither story is necessarily true, they’re merely inspired by true events.

You have a choice in every situation: tell yourself a dour tale or a delightful one. And because YOU get to make that choice, it means YOU decide whether you have a great life or a nasty one. It’s that simple: if you’re going to keep telling stories to yourself, you might as well make them as pleasant as possible.

Can of War

There I was, just a kid, but I was in the middle of a war. Coke? Pepsi? I took part in the taste-tests. Look, you weren’t there! We had to pick a side! There I was, unmarked cups in front of me. I didn’t want to look greedy so I took just a small sip of each, I could barely taste the warm sweet liquid as the proctor stared impatiently. My pick was essentially random. I think I picked Coke? In some ways it didn’t matter. In some ways I suppose I lost some of myself that day. It was the Cola Wars.

Coke, the classic conservative, choice of the old generation versus Pepsi the progressive, the choice of a new generation. The new kid on the block challenging the champ. Being the age I was, I wanted Pepsi. I was that new generation. But we were lied to, man! Over some sugar water!? The things I did. The things I saw. There were even times when I had cola for breakfast, right alongside my Cap’n Crunch cereal. It was a different time back then, life was cheap, soda was cheaper.

I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. Brittle bones, yellowed teeth, war is hell. And the indoctrination, oh the mind-control we were under. Our eyes were glued to the tele-screens as they beamed in ad after ad telling us what to drink in every insidious way they could. You think he was called the King of Pop solely because of his domination over pop-music? Pop is also another name for cola. I saw the footage of that tragic Pepsi commercial, and the King of Pop was changed after that. The war affected us all.

No, I don’t touch the stuff anymore. Well maybe a sip for old-times sake every few years, but I don’t enjoy it. The taste no longer suits me. I guess without the stream of ads flowing into my brain, the flavor can’t stand on its own. Or maybe I’m just bitter. We were so young, man. Caught in the middle of a fight we didn’t want. We had no choice. What were we gonna drink? Ginger Ale? Dr Pepper? Tab? Water? That sh*t wouldn’t fly.

We did what we had to, and when it came down to it, we drank whatever cola the restaurant had on tap. None of it mattered. The war wasn’t one cola versus another, it was cola versus us — and we lost.

Ho No

“So Matt, what would you like for Christmas this year?”
“Nothing.”
“Matt, you’re a ten-year-old boy, you have to want something!”
“It’s a Christian holiday and I’m an atheist.”
“What?! Well then what are you going to open on Christmas morning?”
“I’ll be live-streaming all day.”

That’s an excerpt from an actual conversation my mother had with one of her grandsons. When I was but a boy, I didn’t relate to the Christian aspects of X-Mas either — but Santa and presents sure made a whole lotta sense.

Frankly, I blame the lack of television for this kind of staunch anti-X-Mas stance. When I was young, we were forced to choose from a total of THREE television channels every night. Come holiday time, at least one of those channels was showing a Christmas-themed special in which it wasn’t too late to find out the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas Miracles were around every corner. Nowadays kids don’t even watch TV. Instead of the picture-tube, they’re glued to the YouTube.

And have you even tried shopping for kids today? When I was young, there were large toy-stores in every mall — EVERY aisle was filled with goodies. They’re gone. You have a few aisles in Target or Walmart now. What can a child reasonably put on his Christmas List this year? What? A bike? Scooter? Legos? Classic board games? Action-figures? Remote-control-vehicle? Xbox? TV? iPad/iPhone? Toy robot? Gift-cards? Movie-streaming/gaming-subscription service? Hmm never-mind.

But it’s like they don’t even care. They’re not inundated with commercial after commercial for hours everyday after school like I was when I was a kid. Frankly, most of the shows I watched were 22-minute long ads anyway (Transformers, G.I. Joe, He-Man). I knew all the latest toys and NEEDED every single one of them because all those ads convinced me. The same with cereal. I wanted every sugar-laden box they sold in the cereal-aisle and I made sure my mom knew it! But kids today? Psh, not even a peep, they don’t even want to go down and check out all the cool characters on the boxes — I always went cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

I don’t know what to say, I guess it’s a rudderless generation — simply lost without the guiding hand of television. Every day and night I knelt before its glow and received without question the words it spoke. And I turned out fine. Well, I mean there was the anxiety, depression, sugar-addiction… whatever! It wasn’t TV’s fault, heck they had those World Wars before TV ever became popular. In conclusion, it’s never too late to learn the true meaning of Christmas: rampant unapologetic commercialism ushered in by a jolly old elf. Kids today need to get their act together and get their butts in front of the TV.

When Wolves Attack

The wolves were thin and hungry. “We are wolves surrounded by a sea of sheep, we should not suffer this indignity!” said one. And so the wolves rallied, strengthening their ranks as they sharpened their fangs. When ready, they wandered beyond their territory, beyond the fences where the unsuspecting flocks lived. Their first strike was quick and the slaughter began.

But watching from their perched position on the Isle of Dragons, the dragons did not appreciate the aggression of the wolves. They sent their sentries to investigate. The wolves were in a vicious state and paid no mind to what the dragons said, even nipping at their heels as they chased them back to their island.

Of course, it’s never wise to irritate dragons. They are masters of the sea and sky. Soon the wolves would know what it meant for the sky to fall, for fire to rain, for tornadoes of flame to engulf and burn, and how those that take to the skies have friends in high places. For in the air, the eagles soar, masters of a vast wilderness, able to bring great resources wherever they’re needed.

But the wolves continued, believing in their own ferocity. The wolves felt themselves penned in, so they sought expansion and endless lands to roam — they looked east to where potential existed. Although those foolhardy wolves knew of the bears, they simply never realized how many actually lived among the bramble.

Besides, those bears were lean and looked as though they had nothing. The wolves gathered in their formation at the border of bear territory and began their attack. But for every bear that fell, it seemed as though two filled its place. The wolves tired themselves out by the slaughter. Soon it was as if three bears rose for every one that fell.

Unbeknownst to the wolves, the great eagles of big-sky country saw what was happening and dropped what was necessary to aid the bears. Then came the winter — so many wolves simply froze in place, unaware of how harsh the cold-lands could become. But while one side of the wolves froze solid in their ranks, the other side was roasted by dragon’s fire.

Long did the wolves howl at the border of the bears, but long did the bears hold their ground, one fallen body at a time. And like a spring compressed, the bears were pushed to a point so pressurized, that they eventually propelled forward with a frightening ferocity. The wolves knew not if their legs trembled from fear or if the ground simply shook, as bears charged full of rage.

Battered and starved for so long, the bears consumed everything along the way as they headed toward the homeland of the wolves. While from the west, the great eagles landed. Crushed between two unstoppable forces, the wolves retreated as much as they could. It would not be long before it was over.

And so it was, the eagles and the bears met and divided the wolf-lands between them. It was discovered how the wolves fed upon their own and committed atrocities unforgivable. The wolves were promptly defanged and watched like hawks, even to this day. But such is life in the animal kingdom, a world of beasts and brutes and violence unbounded.

Crimson Wishes

“In darkest realms where shadows lie, where goodness fails and angels die — let my voice be heard and heed my word…”
“Wait, are you sure about this?” he cautioned.
“Ahem!” she continued, “Through wicked ways I summon thy power, from sacrificial blood in the midnight hour.”
“Whoa!” he protested.
“Calm down, it’s just a tissue from my last bloody-nose,” she assured him.

She placed the crumpled tissue in the center of an encircled star made out of small rocks. She swiped a match across the box and lit the tissue. She told the boy to throw the image of his desire onto the small fire. He took the picture and held it over the flame until it caught. “It is done,” she declared. The boy breathed a sigh of relief.

Rob didn’t like the idea of resorting to black-magic but he was desperate, so he asked his goth friend Emily to help. Rob really wanted an Xbox One X, and he’d do anything to have it. He lived with his mom and little sister and they didn’t usually have money for Christmas presents, and this year was no different.

Rob woke up the next day feeling the same as any other day. In fact he almost forgot about the previous night’s escapade except he saw the flyer from which he cut out the picture on the floor. At breakfast, Rob ate the usual bowl of off-brand cereal he always ate. It was the weekend, so no school today — Rob wasn’t a fan anyway.

Of course Rob had tried asking Santa for presents in the past, but unfortunately, his mall’s Santa wasn’t affiliated with the actual Santa — thus none of his wishes were ever forwarded, so he never received what he asked for. It’s not well-known, but Santa Claus has a goth cousin named Satan Claws. It’s who little goth boys and girls write incantations to during the holidays.

Satan Claws’s minions received Emily’s incantation and got to work on it the next day. They procured an Xbox One X and wrapped it in red paper. But in this case, the red paper represented the blood of the innocent. As he was instructed by Emily, Rob placed a dead tree in the center of his room and adorned it beautifully with lights and ornaments (in mockery of its once living state).

The Winter Solstice finally arrived and Satan Claws sent his minions out to deliver the “Bounty of Blood” as it was called. Those that summon the power of darkness receive the fruit of their invocation upon the darkest day of the year. Rob woke up the following morning to find a present under the tree. He was so excited and rushed over to open it!

On the gift-tag it read “To: Rob, From: Satan Claws”. Rob tore the red paper away and underneath he saw what he truly desired, an Xbox One X! He couldn’t have been happier. That’s when he noticed another present under the tree. It had a similar gift-tag and wrappings. He opened it and found a black Misfits t-shirt, over-sized black pants, and some glow-lights inside.

That night, in celebration of the bounty received, Rob dressed in his new outfit, met Emily and her friends underneath an overpass, and danced to techno music in intervals of six-hundred and sixty-six seconds. Rob was welcomed into the fold and he even invited some people back to his house to take a look at Red Dead Redemption 2 on his Xbox.

Ready for Action

Michael woke up suddenly. He didn’t know why. But not long after, he heard a noise. It seemed to be coming from inside his house. Michael had a Benelli tactical pump-action shotgun for home-defense, a concealed-carry permit to accompany his Glock 26 subcompact pistol, plus a small arsenal of various rifles and handguns for impressing his buddies at the gun range. He’d been waiting for this day, a good-guy with a gun was about to go to war.

Michael grabbed the Benelli obviously, and readied it for action, racking the slide underneath his pillow to keep it quiet. He paused a second and grabbed his Glock subcompact for backup. Because of the emergency nature of the situation, Michael dispensed with any other gear. It was go-time. To keep the element of surprise, he kept things dark and moved low and slow through his house towards the living room. “This f*cker’s dead,” he kept repeating to himself.

As he got closer, he was relieved to see light coming from the living room, that meant he’d have the advantage as he was coming from a dark hallway. He inched his way closer. Before he could even think about what he saw, it was over. Michael dropped to his knees as the shotgun fell out of his limp hands. Red was everywhere. None more so than on the man in the living room. But that man wasn’t done quite yet — from his bag he pulled out one more thing.

“An XBox One X!!!”, yelled Michael as he saw it coming out of Santa’s sack. “Ho ho ho!! Indeed it is!”, replied Saint Nick. “How did you know!!!”, Michael was ecstatic. He offered Santa some cookies and apologized for trying to blow his brains out. But that jolly old elf, with but a wink and a nod, simply shot up the chimney and got back in his sleigh. Michael could hear the reindeer as they ran off his roof and he heard Santa saying, “A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”