Thursday, December 29, 2011

Annual Abscondments II

If there's an overarching theme linking this year's pressed plastic victims of theft, it's that thieves and hooligans can't resist the allure of the sequel. Let's take a closer look at these treasures as we mourn our kidnapped unfortunates, who no doubt cower in the comparatively safe darkness beneath a dirt-crusted piece of furniture and pine for their absent loved ones.

Battle for L.A., The Tourist: The first half of the year went by without a hitch. It was the smoothest sailing Fernando had ever experienced. But this double-feature was nipped in late July when one of Fernando's semi-regulars decided to help himself to some property and ignored Fernando's phone calls requesting it back. Said gent is no longer one of Fernando's semi-regulars, and rest assured that a Chronicle will surface if he ever decides to return.

Carlito's Way: This wanna-be Scarface was rented by someone who was quite the regular customer. Then he went out of town on some “business,” according to his girlfriend/wife/whatever, and “happened” to have taken the film with him “by mistake.” Fernando told her it's okay, because a mailing address exists on the case so that it could be returned to him via the postal service. The woman assured Fernando that this course of action would be taken and that his film would be promptly returned.


Grown Ups: Sometimes Fernando makes mistakes in permitting some people to rent. This is one of them. Fernando has not recounted the tale of this embarrassing defeat.

Death Race 2, Step Up 3: Another twofer. Some people Fernando had never seen before came in, set up an account, rented, never returned things. The phone number he had been given was disconnected and the address that was provided had mail returned. So it goes.

Jackass 3: Part of Fernando wants to thank the schmuck who took this off his hands because he can charge the full replacement price instead of $8 resale, when he still has a copy of this selfsame movie that people refuse to purchase (perhaps because there is, in fact, a modicum of common sense in today's society). Coincidentally, this is the copy which was the subject of the Jackass 3 Saga. Rock on, magic disc, rock on.

Hoodwinked Too, Psych 9: Semi-regular rents these for her and her boyfriend, they break up, he doesn't return the movies. Neither of them have come back yet since this came to pass, and Fernando doesn't care from whom the money comes when they do. He's at fault for not returning them and she's at fault for making the piss-poor decision of shacking up with a thief. Maybe he'll half-and-half it on them?

Gulliver's Travels: Another new account steal. Fernando finds himself walking a treacherous line between welcoming new customers to the fold with an open mind and heart, and being a malicious, mistrustful bastard to anybody he's never seen before.

Scream 4, Horrible Bosses, Fast Five, Take Me Home Tonight: Okay, this one kind of stuck in Fernando's craw because this haul consisted of four pretty decent renters, the first three of which were stolen the very week they came out. This Chronicle is forthcoming as well (WHAT IS THIS FORESHADOWING?).

The Smurfs: Okay, remember the chick with the nice rack? She reformed at one juncture but then embarked on a long hiatus from the store, and when she finally returned it seemed she had hooked up with some guy and formed babby which she did not do way instain. The happy couple rented a couple of movies one day, this and Planet of the Apes. The latter movie made it back into Fernando's possession. This one did not.

At least they brought back the one which helps Fernando's finances out more.

And there we have it. 2011 began with a whimper and went out with a bang. If the Mayans are correct, 2012 will go out in the same way, but with even more extravagance and finality. Thanks for reading, and see y'all next year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Made In America

A lady enters the Dominion one day. She is unfamiliar to Fernando but she speaks to him as if she has known him for his entire life. This woman desires stocking stuffers and decided that gift certificates to the movie rental place would be a splendid way to satisfy that goal. Good thing Fernando can have such things made available.

As he is filling out the four slips of paper, the woman continues to speak at him. “Y'know, it's good doing business with an American business for a change. Everything nowadays is made in China or Taiwan and you can't get anything that's from America, for America. It's good that you're not one of those places where all your stuff comes from somewhere else.”

Fernando makes a noncommittal grunt and continues writing. No political debates, not when this woman's trying to give you twenty-five of her dollars, even if she's wrong and “Made in Taiwan” hasn't appeared on cheap plastic goods since the mid-90s, or maybe to inform her that economic globalization is here to stay and that markets needs to adapt or die out, or that the video discs through which Fernando plies a living are pressed in China or Thailand....

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Fernando was in the best of moods one day, for this was the day on which the trailer for The Hobbit was unveiled to the world. He did not quite produce manly tears of joy, but he certainly acted as might a child of four when faced with a thing which titillates the soul. Because this took place at the Dominion, by necessity a customer, one of Fernando's somewhat geekish regulars, entered in the midst of Fernando's uncouth whoops of glee.

What's that all about?” she asks as Fernando writes out the rental agreement.

Fernando clears his throat and brings himself closer to stoic normalcy. “The Hobbit!” he says with a happy giggle and perhaps a bit of arm flailing. “Comes out next year!” Then the realization that he must wait a full year before theatrical bliss sets in, and Fernando sobers a bit.

Wow. I can tell you're a little excited over this.” Then she says to Fernando words which bring him yet further down to earth. “You know there was another prequel movie that a whole lot of people were really excited about.” She affects an obnoxious nasal accent. “Meesa so happy to see you!”

This does not dissuade Fernando's merriment. “Peter Jackson is not George Lucas, and this is not Star Wars. I see what you're trying to do here, and it's not working. You won't disappoint me.”

I bet you don't hear that very often.”

Fernando stares in amazement for a moment, then bows his head in defeat. “Okay, wow. Wow.” The customer smirks at him. “But I'll just rewatch the trailer once you're gone and my shattered heart level will be restored.”

This reference flies over her head. And once she leaves, Fernando does precisely that, and all became well...nay, better, in the world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't Drop the SOPA

I haven't done one of my vaunted opinion pieces in a fair while. Now seems like as good a time as any to climb onto my SOPA-box (D'HOHOHOHO!).
For those of you who don't really follow the political shenanigans of our lofty federal legislature or keep up on internet-related news, Congress is looking to pass a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act. Read the Wikipedia link to catch up if you haven't already (you really should), but if you're intellectually lazy the tl;dr is as follows: Congress wants to stamp down on intellectual property trafficking by allowing the Department of Justice or the holders of copyrights in question to investigate any shady dealings that may or may not have occurred on websites that may or may not have links to such violations. The arguments for passing it but basically come down to “it helps make money for the people who hold legitimate copyright on things which could be infringed.” I'll be forthright at this juncture: I think this law is stupid and an unnecessary burden upon internet citizens. I would much rather that it returned into the murky pit of Orwellian, fascistic control from whence it crawled.
I've followed some of the arguments about this bill because I have little better to do with my time, and in the spirit of true and honest American political discourse the word “capitalism” was tossed about like it was going out of style. What's more, capitalism as an economic system was, in true and honest American fashion, equivocated with morality. “More capitalist” equaled “more moral” in some instances, and in others people argued that it was somehow anti-capitalist to control the content on the internet. After all, laissez-faire is preferable to regulated. It caused a quite interesting divide (and a fair bit of trolling) between the stereotypical “liberal” and “conservative” political viewpoints.
Capitalism is all about the private accumulation of wealth which comes about through individual, rather than state, ownership of means of production. The widely-held ideal that a free market is the best market is flawed. To those who treat capitalism as an ethical framework, the best market is the market which allows maximal accumulation of capital by the individual. Freedom (political, social, or economic) is irrelevant to the discussion, except that actors should have the greatest possible freedom to amass wealth.
Unfortunately, people with vested economic interests oftentimes have vested political interests as well, and humans are greedy, self-serving fucks by nature. We like things and stuff, and the more things and stuff we have or could have, the happier we become. If a strictly regulated internet would make more money for those with a vested economic interest in that area, then that sort of internet is the way to go. Toss in a little bit of kickback to the people who make it possible and TA-DA! You have your SOPA.
What irks me the most about this whole thing is not really the fact that SOPA exists. I don't pretend to be a shining avatar of Lawful Goodness; I'm as much a bastard as any other person out there. It's that the nature of politics in this country allows for the fact that SOPA can exist so easily. If I were to offer money to one of my representatives in government in exchange for political favors, I would quickly find myself befriending gentlemen in some sort of correctional facility (insert call back to title here). Ah, but if there is enough money being thrown about, or if the perks are oblique enough to not constitute “bribery” under whatever jackassed conception of the term is written into the laws dealing with the issue, then the sailing is smoother than a milkshake made by God Himself.
Is copyright infringement a problem? Absolutely. Gutting individuals' rights in order to retain a profit margin from a bygone era on media, before the rise of Hulu or Bit Torrent or Pandora or The Pirate Bay, is not the solution. Christ, I know about better than anybody about that sort of competition. Hell, by all rights I should be supporting this piece of shit legislation simply because it would only help my profit margin. I've had to adapt my business model and my budget to account for an omnipresence of Netflix. In an ideal market, competitors adapt their products and services to meet demand or they die out as new players supplant the old.
Such a pity the real world doesn't work that way. And that is why I hate economics.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Violence in Movies, Sex in Movies Too

So, Fernando has a horrible movie in his inventory called Bloodlust Zombies. It is, according to the people who have rented it, bad by every objective measure. Fernando markets it as the worst movie in the store. He makes decent profit thereby. Like a butcher's challenge meets bile fascination (come to think of it, Fernando should create a wall honoring the men and women who have survived the film's depravity....).
One day a thirty-something regular comes in and selects the film after a minimal bit of sales pitching. He takes the movie home among his other rentals and returns the next day. “That movie, the zombie one. It was way inappropriate.”
Right? Exactly as advertised!”
No, I mean there's a lot of sex in there.”
Yeah. That's part of what makes it so bad.”
We ended up turning it off because it was so inappropriate.” This is a guy who has gone through just about everything in Fernando's horror section. He waited with bated breath for each installment of the Saw series. He thought Turistas and Hostel and Savage County were great fun, if not shining avatars of home entertainment. But poorly-choreographed hanky-panky amidst a plot which is paper-thin by zombie movie plot standards (which would make it the size of, like, the Planck length) apparently crossed the line of good taste.
Er,” says Fernando, “I had no idea your conception of propriety didn't allow for that sort of rumpus. I'll keep that in mind for future reference.”
America's priorities and social acceptance between violent content and sexual content are well and truly fucked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Music Meister

One evening a young lady and her guyfriend return some movies. “These aren't late, are they?”

Nope. It's only quarter to seven right now, and they're all older ones so I'm not too terribly concerned.”

That's what I thought!” She turns to her companion and punches him in the bicep. “I told you!”

Your thing says six,” the chap responds.

Yeah, that's because I can't be bothered to pay to have it changed. Newer ones pretty much back by seven, and before I go home for the older ones.”

The young lady says to Fernando in a lilting singsong, “So they just have to really be back by closing time?”

'One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer,'” Fernando ripostes. “And yes.”

This for some reason floors the girl. “Holy crap you know that song?”

Only that part of it and like two other lines and every end is a new beginning somethingsomething.” She and her boyfriend make merry laughing sounds and depart.

Truth be told, Fernando has never heard that actual song before. All he knows about it comes from Weird Al's cover of it in “Polka Power!”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

'Tis the Season

Fernando finds the stretch of time that encapsulates November through February displeasing. The dreary weather plays a part, to be sure, but most of his ire stems from the nonstop frenzy of commercialism and moronic fucking jewelry ads. He cannot grasp how Christmas-y things can be in full swing starting the day after Halloween (hell, some places have the Christmas aisles set up in mid-October already), and as a result the vaunted merriment of the season winds up facile and grating.

Fernando, already a cynical person, retaliates against things he dislikes by taking those things which people love and subverting them. So, when December rolls around and every other store blares schlock like “Rocking Round the Christmas Tree” or whatever lyrical vomit Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift have shat out this year, Fernando loads up a holiday album by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. If there's one thing that accurately reflects the true nature of Christmas, it's the Cthulhu Mythos.

So it comes to pass that Fernando is rocking out to the absolutely splendid “Slay Ride” when one of his 30-something customers sneaks in to drop off a movie. “I didn't know you listened to Christmas music,” she says.

Fernando blinks at her. “I don't.”

She tilts her head, pressing her lips together as she pays a bit more attention to the lyrics. Then her eyes widen as the song gleefully goes on about the undead rising and consuming the flesh from bodies raw.

Fernando smiles. “See?”

That's horrible! What is that?”

Just a bit of Lovecraft-inspired joy to set the mood for this most festive of seasons.”

She gives him a queasy look, then nods and heads for the door.

“Merry solstice!” Fernando calls after her.

Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Talking Turkey

Fernando is engaged with one of his customers one afternoon about the paucity of internet service providers in the area, and how Fernando has been sitting for over a month without a business internet connection because the one company that services the area with something better than 56k dial-up is a righteous dragass in opening a DSL line to the Dominion. A pair of gentlemen clad in green-and-brown camo like it was going out of style stump in and stand there behind Fernando's customer.

Well, the conversation continues on for about three more minutes because this gent is rather tech-savvy and has experienced for himself ire in attaining good internet. When at last the exchange draws to a close and Fernando bids the man a good evening, the two strangers approach. They're both in their 40s or 50s, both with perhaps two days' growth of face-stubble (because it is some silly ritual to allow one's facial hair to grow out during the hunting of deer, even if you spend the other 50 weeks of the year impeccably clean-shaven.). One of them speaks.

It's about goddamn time. You gab worse than a whole buncha women.”

Fernando presses his lips together and regards the man. “It's actually a form of building rapport with my customer base, so as to link the concept of good conversation with my business on a psychological level and predispose them to returning at a later date, thereby insuring my finances remain in the black and I can continue to live with a modicum of comfort.” Since comprehension of Fernando's brainy-words does not seem forthcoming, he clarifies, “It's talking turkey.”

Fuck you turkey hunters,” says the second man. His voice is slurred and accompanied with a miasma of stale beer Fernando detects from about six feet away. “Shooting at shit, scarin' away the bucks. Can't do shit with them out there shooting at shit.”

You realize I'm not actually a turkey hunter. Now, how can I help you?”

We want movies,” says the first man.

That's splendid. What sort were you looking for?”

Ones to watch,” the man responds. “What kind ya think?”

Fernando thinks happy thoughts and not ones that are full of disdain for idiots. “I meant action, comedy, horror...?”

Action, yeah,” says the second.

What kind?”

Whaddya mean what kind? Action kind!” the second guy says.

Thriller? Endless guns and explosions? Martial arts?”

Guns, yeah,” says the first guy. “Whatcha got?”

Well, first, I need your names, to check if you're in my records.”

Never been here before,” says the second.

Alright. Then I to fill this out right quick.” Fernando retrieves a membership application and one of his good pens. “Can I have your license please?”

The first guy feels at his abundance of pockets. “Shit, didn't bring my wallet.”

Ain't got mine,” says the other. “Can't do nothing with it anyway.”

So the one is drunk and the other forgot his license, or claims to have forgotten his license. Yep. “Then I'm afraid I can't rent to you.”

Shit, son, we'll bring 'em back!” says the first. “Won't be no problem.”

Yeah, but no. And stop calling me 'son.'” At this point one of Fernando's regulars, a married ladytype, comes in and returns a couple of movies. The sloshed guy makes no secret of ogling her backside. She leaves mighty quickly. “I'm afraid I can't help you right now. If you care to come back some other time with your information, then we can maybe work something out. Else, probably best for you to leave.”

The first man assists the second to the door and they do just that.

Fucking hunters.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Fernando is processing the rental slips from a glut of customers into the computer when one of his regulars pulls in. He enters the store along with a young boy two, three years old, the sort people might find cute and endearing with his tousled blond hair and little red coat. Fernando never knew this customer had a child.

The alluring pull of Open Office Base is just slightly less powerful than the force of gravity at a black hole's event horizon, so Fernando is sucked into his work and dead to the world for a few minutes. When he finishes up and whirls the chair about to see what else is happening in life, he sees the young boy standing in the office, behind the counter, staring at Fernando in absolute silence. The boy holds in his hands a small plastic pumpkin. The father is somewhere browsing, out of Fernando's line of sight.

Fernando blinks. “Um.” He's crappy with children, for he usually treats them like fun-sized adults and society does not approve of acting towards children in that way.

The boy looks on, motionless.

I'm sorry, but you can't be back here.”

Still no response.

Um...please go back to your dad?”

The boy takes a step forward and extends the hands clasping the orange pumpkin in Fernando's direction. Fernando at this point wonders if maybe he'd pissed off an Elder God who instigated this and was now watching the show.

Oh. Um. Okay. Is that for me? Because, thanks, but you should keep it. You'd get more out of it than me.”

The boy continues staring, but his father, a glowing bastion of safety and sanity amidst chaos and despair, comes up to the counter just then with his tags. He sees his son on the other side. “Get up here!”

The boy lowers his hands like an automaton and joins his dad. The rental process completes as usual.

That boy ate Fernando's soul on that day, and he sleeps with a nightlight now.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Porn Story

It's around 1 PM on the first snow-laden day of the year. Fernando has come in early because he awaits the arrival of his movies, which are as usual running a bit tardy. At the moment he is entertained by Judge Judy and her no-bullshit attitude. He hears a loud truck pull into the lot. Fernando assumes it is a drop-off when he hears footsteps squelching outside.

Nothing happens for about thirty seconds. Then there comes a mighty pounding on the glass of Fernando's locked front door.

Fernando stumps over to the door to see a strange, flannel-clad, red-faced man standing there. His truck is of the large, mud-splattered variety, generously decorated with yellow Support Our Troops ribbon magnets. Fernando pops the door and stands in the blast of chilly air that sweeps through the opening. “Can I help you?”

Yeah, are you open?”

No. I don't open for another hour.”

Says there you open at two.”

Shades of the past! “Correct. But it is only one here. But seeing as you're here, now, and I'm here, now, I can make a one-time exception to the rule.”

Fernando steps aside and enters. The man prowls about. “Where's your adult section? Back there?” He makes a beeline for the door to Fernando's back room.

I don't carry porn, actually.”

This statement does not stop him from opening a door bearing a sign that reads in large, red letters “NO ENTRY: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. Chances are, if you're reading this, you're not authorized. No entry for you!” He peers into Fernando's inner sanctuary, where merriment and joy abound, where the despair that lingers in the business section of the store is forbidden. “What?”

I don't have any porn.”

You're the only place around here and you don't have porn?”

What is it with people and repeating the things Fernando says? “Well, yes. I just said that. It's not worth it from a budgetary or sanitary sense.”

Fine then. What if I want to rent something else?”

Do you have an account here?”

No. I'm only up here this time of year.”

Then you'll need to set up an account. That's quick and painless.”

What do you need for that?”

The usual. Name, address, driver's license--”

You're not getting my information.”

Fernando shrugs. “Then I guess you're not renting. You may want to try your argument with Family Video. They're half an hour away, but I'm pretty sure you'll get about as far with them as you did with me with the whole 'renting to a random person' thing. Have a nice day.” Fernando gestures to the front door. The guy looked impossibly pissed off, but leaves. Surprisingly, he doesn't punch anything on the way out.

Fucking hunters.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ghost Story

Fernando has just restocked his Adopt-A-Movie Box with another selection of awesome films. One of these super-terrific titles is An American Carol, which is what happens when someone with a blatant conservative agenda tries to make a satirical comedy. The commentary it provides is about as subtle and funny as a cinder block dropped from a four-story building. Needless to say, it was not screened for critics and overall poorly received but for places like Free Republic and the politics trolls on Fark.

A customer enters the store to rent a movie, and she peruses the box while Fernando does his busy-work. She comes across the film in question. “Hey, is this movie at all like A Christmas Carol? I love that story. I have, gosh, dozens of different versions of it.”

Um.” Fernando is in a right pickle. He does not desire being a sleazy salesperson and talking up the movie's quality to make an extra four bucks. On the other hand, that movie takes up valuable shelf space (the purpose behind the Adopt-A-Movie Box being to increase the availability of this), and four dollars through sale is more profit he's derived from that thing in all the years he's owned the Dominion. Even adding his cashier jockey days when it was a new, er, “hot” title, that thing had made less than twenty dollars, just barely enough to recoup the initial investment.

Therefore, Fernando chooses his words with caution. “It's like it only in the broadest of thematic senses. There is really nothing to do with Christmas. The focus is more on spiritual advisers revealing the negative consequences of one's current course of action.”

I'll take it. It sounds fun.”

Relief floods through Fernando's body. The transaction concludes and the woman departs, satisfied with her new purchase.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Name Games

Most people know Fernando's name because he is somewhat popular in the community and he is rather idiosyncratic in how he conducts himself with others. This is a three-in-one Chronicle of a bizarre series of name confusions which all took place on different days the week before Thanksgiving.

The first is a semi-regular customer of Fernando's. She comes in to rent one day. Fernando knows her name, and he assumes that she knows his. Their relationship is one of those where names are never used. After all, who says to someone in a conversation, “[Insert Proper Name], blahblahblah”? Anyhow, the transaction is completed and the lady says, “See you later, Roberto.” She is out the door before realization dawns and Fernando has a chance to correct her.

The following day, Fernando is out in public and spending his hard-earned money at a local business establishment, procuring some pizza to enjoy in masochistic delight. Another of his semiregulars stands in line in front of him, and the two make small talk about how hunting as been going even though Fernando has no time for or interest in hunting. His turn at the register comes up, he pays for his goods, and Fernando is the next served when he finishes. He says to Fernando, “See ya, Pablo,” and Fernando cannot correct him because he is now engaged with the Keeper of the Register and doesn't want to hold up the line of four people behind him.

Finally, it's the day before Thanksgiving. A regular customer calls Fernando and asks that The Lion King be held for her. She comes in a short while later with her brother. Since Fernando adheres to the Golden Rule, and he would not want to return movies in a turkey coma, any rentals are free to keep until Friday. Fernando uses this information to manipulate the rental of additional movies beyond the one which was reserved. Hooray!

Payment goes through, Fernando bids the pair a glorious day of thanks, and irregular-customer-brother says just before he steps out the door, “Thanks. You too, Miguel.” And Fernando cannot correct him because he is already vamoosed.

Perhaps it is time to create a name tag?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buddy System

Hey, is this movie any good?” The young lady in question, one of Fernando's regulars, is pointing at the case for Arthur.

That depends. How much can you tolerate Russell Brand?”

Um...I dunno. What else was he in?”

Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He was the crazy, drug-addled guy in both of them. He's the crazy, acts-like-he's-drug-addled guy in this one too. Almost as if he's typecast to those roles based on his real-life shenanigans.” Fernando makes a show of rolling his eyes. “They still call it acting, though.”

She giggles. “Oh, I didn't like those so much. But I think I'll give this one a shot. It can't hurt, right?”

Well, it is said that doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”

The customer laughs. “It's like you don't want me to rent this thing!”

I mean, I want you to rent it. I'd love for you to rent it. But I think there's some law on the books that requires informed consent. Like how you probably have to sign some kind of waiver if you plan on hiking near Chernobyl. I'm just looking out for you, here.” Fernando pounds a fist over his heart.

She laughs again. “This is why I come here to rent.”

Fernando bows.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hot Blooded

Fernando received a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce as a gift. It kicked his and his friends' asses a great deal when they tried it the first time, and for three or so months after its receipt it sat untouched in the back room, leering with derision at Fernando and his crew as they used other hot sauces.

One jolly evening, Fernando decided to man up on the weekly pizza, and he placed upon its surface a few drops of liquid death. Fernando's companions decried him as mentally deficient, as having ignored the Wisdom score rolled for him by the Great DM Above. But Fernando ignored their petty words and consumed the slice of pizza, and though his mouth seared with flames of habanero pepper, he did not perish. Soon Fernando's friends began using the Dave's as well, and it became the regular additive for pizza joy. Three drops became four, which then became seven or more, and the drops grew from tiny specks to small ponds, to the occasional, undesired, lake or ocean which Dave's, in its lust for carnage, would produce.

One evening pizza was had, and Dave's was passed around. Fernando's companion Cortez was selected as the victim of Dave's unending spite, for it placed its ocean of death in the worst possible location: at the tip of the pizza, on the first bite, where one could not easily flee to less-hot-saucy regions because the areas further in on the slice had hot sauce denizens of their own. He faced a conundrum. Should he scrape some of it off and deal with the mockery of others, who had braved such debacles and lived, or should he suffer oral agony unlike any other?

While Cortez ruminated on this life-changing decision, a cluster of four high school-age girls entered the Dominion. Fernando left the back room and its chaos to assist them.

As they are heading out, a sound not unlike a hobo being fed to a pack of hyenas fills the store. There is much cursing. It seems Cortez made up his mind. One of the girls, her face pale, looks to the back room. “What was that?”

That?” says Fernando. “That was probably the result of Dave's.”

Who's Dave?” another asks.

Dave's Insanity Sauce. It is full of hate and torment, and that is what makes it delightful.”

It can't be that hot,” says the first.

How do you stand on Tabasco sauce?”


Like, do you think Tabasco sauce is hot?”

Yeah, it's pretty spicy. That's like buffalo wings, right?”

Ish, yeah. So, Tabasco sauce has a Scoville of, ehhhh, three-kay.”

A what?” she asks.

Scoville units. It's a scale that measures the capsaicin content of things. Capsaicin being the oil which gives hot peppers their heat. It's different from the molecule that gives black pepper its heat, seeing as they're two different species of plant.”

Fernando notices that he's starting to lose his audience to infodump, so he forges onward. “Anyway, the kind of hot sauce we have back there is about sixty times hotter than Tabasco sauce.”

That doesn't sound that hot,” says a third girl.

Time for a demonstration. Fernando keeps another bottle of hot sauce up front, El Yucateco, his go-to for balanced heat and flavor. He unscrews the cap. “This one's about ten, eleven thousand. About three times hotter than Tabasco.” He raises his eyebrows. “Who's feeling brave?”

Turns out none of them, as the pungency of the hot sauce sets them to sniffling from three feet away. They depart.

Fernando returns to the back room to see Cortez, face reddened and eyes brimming with tears. “It hurts so good,” he tells Fernando. Then he takes another bite of Dave's-laced pizza.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Men Be Acting All Like Zombies

Once upon a time, late in September, Fernando browsed his sales catalog for the following month. That month being October, Fernando had his eye open for horror-type films so as to feed off the general creepy vibe radiating from Halloween like lines of electromagnetic force from the poles of a magnet. A surprising dearth of horror was to be had (perhaps because the studios didn't want to compete with their theatrical releases at the time I'm looking at you Paranormal Activity 3), but Fernando picked up some direct-to-video, low-budget things that he figured might appeal. One of those titles, given minimal description in his spreadsheet of releases, was Bloodlust Zombies.
Sturgeon's Law is in effect for movies in general, but it seems rather difficult to make an outright horrible zombie flick. At worst it becomes potential get-drunk-and-watch, so-horrible-it's-awesome fodder. The thing was dirt cheap, and he didn't have much else to choose from (when your stiffest competition is Wrong Turn 4 there's not much to be said), so Fernando put in an order for one copy. When the movie arrived one fateful day in October, Fernando read the case's back, groaned, and rolled his eyes. Then he threw it up on the new release rack, sat back, and waited.
Later that day, one of Fernando's regulars, a guy just a tad older than him, comes in to browse the new releases. He sees the movie, reads the case. “Hey, is that the same Alexis Texas that does porn?”
Uh, yeah. Yeah, I think it is. This is her attempt at breaking into mainstream filmography, I guess.” That fact alone sinks any potentiality of a movie's quality. The majority of individuals who do porn have approximately the same level of acting skill as Fernando. Probably less, since Fernando at least has something vaguely resembling motivations and characterization for relevant NPC's in D&Dland beyond “Here's a bobbing penis. Do things to it.”
Is it porn?”
My distributor doesn't do porn. It claims to be a zombie flick.”
I like zombie movies. I'll give it a shot.”
He rents it and returns the next day to pick out more movies. “This thing is worse than the movies they have on late-night Cinemax.”
Do you mean that in a directorial sense or in a content sense?”
Little bit of both. Let's put it this way. When there's more softcore sex than zombies in your zombie movie, you have a problem. I could probably direct a better one.”
Shit, I'm sorry. I honestly thought it would be at least bearable. It seemed impossible to fuck up a zombie movie.”
What you should do is tell people who ask that it's shit, and that'll get them to rent it.”
This idea struck Fernando as clarion-clear, and so it was implemented. People would come in and say, “What's a good horror movie?” Fernando would respond, “There actually aren't that many good ones that came out recently, but let me tell you about Bloodlust Zombies....”
Fernando's made back over double what he paid for that damn thing so far.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

A middle-aged guy Fernando has never seen before pulls up in a rusty two-door sedan. He enters the store, and Fernando sees that he is an unkempt sort: matted, greasy hair, food-stained sweatshirt, the works. Still a customer, though, so Fernando greets him with a cheery “Hello!”

The guy does a little jump-prance and whirls to face Fernando, eyes wild. “I'm jus' lookin', jus' lookin'!”

Er...okay. Let me know if you need anything.”

He shambles over to the new releases, muttering something unintelligible under his breath. Then he stumps back up to the counter and slams both filthy palms down. He says something that sounds to Fernando's ears like, “You got any serrated here?”

I'm sorry?”

S'rated vidyas.”

Oh. No, sorry, I'm afraid I don't.”

Lack of porn disappoints the man, for he shuffles to the exit, still muttering. This time the words were comprehensible: “Ain' got none.”

Gentlemen like that don't do the image of the pornographic arts much good.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

You Know It When You See It

An older lady comes in one day with her rental target firmly in mind. She straightaway asks Fernando, “How is Black Swan?”

It's a very...idiosyncratic movie,” Fernando says. It probably would not be a good idea to advertise the saucy lesbianism to a 60-something year old.

I heard it's about ballet and won a bunch of awards.”

Well, only in the broadest sense. The ballet is used as a framing device and driving force for a rather, ah, risque thriller about the psychology of ambition and the drive to succeed. It did win all sorts of accolades, though.” This elaboration is good enough for her, as she rents the movie for the night.

The next day she returns to the store and slams the case down upon the counter. Her face is screwed up in a scowl that would intimidate even Satan. But Fernando is not Satan. “This movie was horrible!” she hisses. “Nothing but smut!”

I'm sorry you disliked the movie.”

It's all smut nowadays!” she continues, “Everything people your age and kids watch now! That they can turn ballet into...into this!” She throws her hands up in the air with a hearty “Feh!” Then she turns to Fernando's Spartacus poster and jabs a finger at it. “That, too! Have you seen that?”

I can't say that I have.”

Well, I have. I was watching HBO the other night (Fernando does not correct her error... maybe she instead saw Game of Thrones?) and that came on and it was nothing but sex and rape and murder!” So, yeah, Game of Thrones.

Fernando shrugs. “It's what sells. It's always what's sold. It's just that nowadays changes in how society views sex and violence have allowed for it to be much more up-front rather than being veiled behind innuendo. Frankly, it's a rather lazy way out of storytelling because it lays everything out for the viewer rather than allowing his or her imagination to fill in the blanks, but that's just the way things go. It's not limited to miniseries on cable TV channels.”

It's not healthy,” the lady says. Then she departs, still grumbling about the decline of western society.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


A group of four kids ranging in age from 14ish to 7ish meander into the store one afternoon. They might've been siblings; Fernando doesn't know. He's never seen any of them before, in the company of parents or otherwise.

They stand in the store's entrance foyer. One of them says, “Cool, fridge!” and opens the door. Then closes the door. Then opens the door. Then closes the door with greater force. Then opens the door. Then slams the door. Some of Fernando's sodey pops topple over at that one. After a little while, a second round of sodey tumblings ensues when gravity does its nefarious work on the ones presumably leaning at an angle. The four of them break into a cascade of giggles at the devastation.

'Kay. “Hi. Do you guys plan on buying or renting anything today?”

The eldest says, “I don't know. We're just here to chill I think.”

“Alright then. You should probably go chill somewhere else.”

The four leave. Kids these days.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fernando Shrugged

On a beautiful mid-October day, Fernando plays a bit of Torchlight because his customer flow is nonexistent and he is between internet services at the moment. The phone rings; the caller ID reveals the caller to be a rather elderly customer, someone who comes to the store maybe twice a century and only rents half the time.
Hello, Dominion of Movies.”
Hi, do you have Atlas Shrugged?”
I'm afraid I don't right this moment. It doesn't come out until early next month.”
Oh. You'll be picking up some copies then?”
Yeah, I'm snagging one.”
Only one?”
Well, I don't think I'll be needing more.”
Fernando's attempt at cordiality and not using words that belie how he really feels about Objectivism must have come off as facile, as the caller degenerated into frothy rage. “Lots of people agree with the message it has!”
Actually not so much. It only made like 5 million at the box office and money I put towards that will be money I can't put towards, say, Harry Potter, or my own salary. As an apparent fan of the, ah, work in question, surely you can understand, even though I am under no obligation to provide you a moral justification for my actions beyond 'I want it that way,' why I would look out for my self-interest like that.”
So you're biased against it!”
Ma'am, the only time I inject politics into my business life is when other people bring it up first. I find it rude to spew derp at my customers, especially given the current unhealthy division that can result from airing one's political leanings.. The only 'politics'--” here Fernando makes air quotes with his free hand even though no one is around to see them-- “at work here is old-fashioned capitalism, and not stocking vast quantities of a movie that won't make me much money. Now, I'm sorry, but I have a line of customers to help. Good bye.”
Oh. Okay. Bye.”
Fernando hangs up and palms his face.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Closing Time

It's 7.57 PM on a rainy evening. Fernando has just finished his counting out for the evening and is about to shut down the computer when the phone rings. Against Fernando's better judgment, he picks up.

"Hello, Dominion of Movies."

"Yeah, are you guys still open?"

"I'm actually just about to close up."

"Well, can you stay open for a little while longer so we can come down and get some movies?"

"How much is a little while?"

"We should be in by 8.30 or so."

"I'm sorry, I have things to do at home. I open tomorrow at 2 if you guys would care to stop by then."

"We wanted to rent tonight. Would it be so hard for you to stick around?"

"Well, closing time is at 8. I'm not waiting around for half an hour to make an extra three bucks. Sorry. Have a nice evening."

Fernando then goes home and makes delicious spaghetti.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Legal Tender

Fernando is engaged with one of his regular customers one gloomy weekday immediately after opening. He banters about the high quality and enjoyment factor of the films the gentleman had just rented (Bridesmaids and Horrible Bosses). The man fishes about in a pocket during the back and forth and dumps what he believes to be the correct amount of money on the counter. Fernando scoops it up and sorts it into the register, then notices a mild discrepancy.

You accidentally gave me a wad of pocket lint instead of a quarter,” says Fernando. He deposits the fuzzy blue ball on the countertop.

Oh, I'm sorry! Probably should get you another quarter...not unless you accept pocket lint as a form of currency?”

No, sorry,” Fernando says. “You might want to try Somalia or Eritrea or somewhere, see if you could maybe barter half a chicken for it.”

Psh,” says the customer. “I could just head over to the C-Store if I wanted to visit a shithole. It's closer.”

Fernando chortles in a most unseemly fashion at this jab directed at the nearby gas station, accepts the man's quarter, and then spends the day in a merry mood. Laughter, good for the soul.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

As the World Turns

-Ring ring ring- goes the phone one day not long after opening.

Hello, Dominion of Movies?” Fernando says into the phone.

Yeah, do you have Zookeeper?”

I don't have any copies in at the moment, but I'm expecting a bunch back. Did you want me to hold one and give you a call when it gets in?”

Yeah, do that. Do you have my number?”

Yes'm, got it in my records here,” Fernando responds.

Time passes and, joy of joys, somebody returns a copy of the movie. Fernando rings up the lady in question. You know those things where people do you the “pleasure” of “listening to the music while your party is reached?” Why is the music uniformly bad?

Anyhow, Fernando is shunted to voicemail, so he leaves a message informing the lady that her movie is in. And, yup, she never shows up to collect it. The following day Fernando puts the tag back out on the rack and income is made as that copy of Zookeeper is snapped up.

Our story continues two days after the initial reservation was made. The lady for whom Fernando was to hold the film pulls up. “Yeah, you were holding Zookeeper for me?” she says.

Fernando flicks a quick glance at his shelves, where he notices all copies of that movie are absent. “I don't have any copies in right now, unfortunately.”

You said you'd hold it for me!”

...That was two days ago. I called and told you I had a copy in. It was never collected, so yesterday it was rented out when I put it back on the floor.”

Yeah, but you said you'd hold it!”

Right. Now, I am expecting copies back later today. Did you want me to hold one for you for today?”

For a second the woman looks like she might spite Fernando's generous offer to again do the thing which resulted in him making slightly less money for her benefit. Instead she agrees to the proposition.

This time when the movie got in and Fernando called her and braved the horrible music, she was prompt in picking it up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Clogged Tubes

Sunday's update is a mite bit early, as Fernando will find himself between internet service providers over the coming week. Fernando's current internet comes about through an arrangement he has with another local business. This arrangement is simple and straightforward and practical: they get free rentals, Fernando gets to piggyback internet.

This arrangement also crumbles to bits when that other business closes its doors.

Now Fernando has to engage with people outside his usual spheres of contact, all to assuage that hateful addiction-monkey called an internet connection. Such extroversion worries Fernando, since he generally sucks with the whole "talking with people he's never met before in those situations in which Fernando finds himself not in a position of power." It's okay, though. Fernando has written up a cheat sheet, scrawled onto one of those 3-inch square sticky notes, he plans to use in these conversations:

"Name: Fernando, calling/behalf Dominion of Movies
Internet package (if cable comp "expanding current service to include internet package")
Reason for change: Business service w/local business agreement, closing up, need new service DON'T BE A DICK ABOUT THEM ASKING
Pricing, how soon can be up"

If the calls in question are in any way interesting, Fernando will be sure to share them with the world.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wedge Issues

It's a simply gorgeous, eighty degree day, one that defies the local climate seeing as it's mid-October. Fernando makes the most of it by propping his door open and allowing Nature to fill his Dominion with the warmth and vigor of Autumn's last hurrah before the merciless claws of Winter sink deep into the environs-metaphor. In part because Fernando is a cheap bastard who refuses to shell out a couple of bucks on a plastic wedge and in part because Fernando is a practical bastard who makes use of what he has available, the object being used to prop the door is one of his countless plastic VHS rental cases.

Not once, but twice, on that day did Fernando have variations on the following conversation:

Customer: “You know that your door is wide open.”

Fernando: “Yep.”

Customer: “There's a case in there. Is that supposed to be there?”

Fernando: “Yeah. That's what I'm using to prop the door.”

Customer: “Oh. Did you want me to take it out when I leave?”

Fernando: “No, that won't be necessary, thanks.”

On a third occasion, though, the VHS case's utility was ignored, with the person in question fishing the case out from under the door and bringing it up to Fernando upon entry.

Customer: “This was holding your door open. I figured I should bring it to you and let you know.”

Fernando: “...Thanks.” Fernando then proceeded to jam the hunk of plastic back where it belonged without waiting for the person to leave.

By closing time the case was a warped and ruined mess, so Fernando rewarded its valiant sacrifice with a proper send-off; he chucked it in his garbage. The other VHS cases on Fernando's shelves were understandably envious that this lucky one had been sent to VHS Rental Case Heaven. But don't worry, Assorted Other VHS Cases. Your time will come as well.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Monumental Confusion

A guy enters the store one day and immediately comes up to the counter. “Yeah, I'm looking for the movie, I think it's called Monument.”

Fernando swivels in his chair and regards the man. “As far as I'm aware, there's no movie by that name here. Could you tell me a little bit more about it?”

Yeah, it's the one where Abraham Lincoln is there and he comes to life and give a tour to the kids.”

That...sounds kind of like Night at the Museum 2. Do you know about when it came out?”

Oh, I don't know. But a person at work told me to watch it because it's a really good movie, you know?”

It sounds suspiciously like a scene in Night at the Museum 2,” Fernando reiterates. He rises from his throne and fetches the case from its rack-domicile, then hands it to the man.

Oh, no, no, it's definitely not this. The movie's called Monument.”

Just a sec.” Fernando hops onto the glory that is the internet and does a quick Google search for “Monument (film).” The Wikipedia page for Monument Valley is the first result. “There's no movie by that name out there. I'm almost positive that you guys are thinking of a scene in Night at the Museum 2.”

Well, it's not. The movie's called Monument. You just must not have looked hard enough online.”

There's...not much more looking I can do. If a movie doesn't pop on a Google search, then it doesn't exist.”

The man ignores this fact. “So you're saying you don't have it?”

It doesn't look like I have the title in question. Sorry.”

The man leaves.

Turns out, though, that there are movies whose titles are “Monument.” They're just Estonian, Norwegian, or Serbian in origin and have nothing at all to do with Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Equitable Distribution

A young lady enters the store and selects a few movies to rent. When she approaches the counter, she tells Fernando, “I'd like to start a new card.”

I'm pretty sure you guys still have one in there, actually,” Fernando responds, digging through his Magic Card Box for the individual's in question. Turns out it's nearly full, which would entail the lucky bearer to a free rental. “Yeah, here it is.”

Well, I'm not with him anymore so just split those up I guess and start me a new one.”

Now Fernando finds himself in a pickle. See, when the two lovebirds first started snogging each other, the female half said to Fernando, “You can just put all of my rentals onto his card.” This system had been in place for close to two years and Fernando doesn't even know how many cards had been filled in that time.

The problem is, of course, that Fernando can't really obscure a take-away yoinking of permanent ink stamps on pieces of paper. Scribbling them out belies that something sneaky is afoot, and at the gent's next appearance certain questions would surely be raised (not to mention voices, most likely. The guy's not the most restrained sort of individual).

Furthermore, the idea of giving half of a free rental to somebody grates on Fernando's sensibilities. Not because he's against retaining custom, heavens no, but because this whole current stamp card-transfer fiasco is fallout from a failed relationship that tallies to around fourteen bucks. She said to Fernando “Put them onto his card,” back then, which entails these rental-stamps were a gift. In the clarity of hindsight, ill-advised gifts, perhaps, but gifts nonetheless.

Once upon a time in legendary days or yore, Fernando procured and had procured for him assorted gift-type things for various ladies he was in the process of courting, sometimes doing silly things (when the hindsight knowledge that things would implode is taken into account) like spending money on meals or shiny baubles or what have you. Upon the inevitable dissolution of these relationships neither he nor the assorted shes up and demanded some form of equitable distribution (title drop!) of these expenditures.

Were Fernando the lady in question, he would say to him(her?)self, “Well, that was stupid of me to have dated that girl (guy?) for two years for basically no benefit to me right here and now. Instead of drawing things out by dragging the movie store guy and his stamp cards into it, let's put this mistake behind me and learn from the experience.” But Fernando is not the lady in question, so the thought experiment and internal dialogues amount to nothing.

In the end, Fernando fulfills her request to create and half-fill a new card so as to maintain tranquility and continued custom in the Dominion from both halves of the severed love-line.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tempus Fugit

Dear Reader,

By Ahura Mazda's transcendence, it's been a year already since the start of this blog deal? How time flies when fun is least I hope you, dear reader, have had fun. I certainly have, else I wouldn't very well have persisted in the upkeep of this silly corner of the internet, right?

At this juncture I think I'll be reducing the rate of update to twice a week (Thursday and Sunday, I reckon). There are only so many unique shenanigans that happen to me nowadays, and I feel a number of my more recent entries are varying degrees of phoned in. This way the content quality improves; every other update won't be just a variation on "This person is a jerk about late fees, and here's what Fernando said in response to that jerkiness. That'll show him!" I prefer to have quality content for you over frequent, albeit repetitive, word-vomits, dear reader.

At any rate, heartfelt thanks to those of you who have kept with me this past year. It's nice to know my inane, narcissistic ramblings do, in fact, reach an audience and that this audience is able to derive a modicum of entertainment from them. I hope you'll stick around with me to see what Year 2 has in store.

After all, it could always get worse.


Fernando H. Stevens
Dominion of Movies

Sunday, October 2, 2011


One evening Fernando is helping a gaggle of high school girls pick out a movie for a gigglicious high school girl slumber party thing. They come to the conclusion that Fernando's recommendation of Bridesmaids is the way to go and everyone meanders back over to the counter. Fernando sets about completing the rental slip while one of them digs through Fernando's Adopt-a-Movie box.

“What's this?” she asks as she paws through the DVD cases therein.

“The Adopt-a-Movie Box. It's unfortunate but true that there's a finite amount of inventory space in the store, but I have to free some of it up, even though it pains me greatly. I would very much love to clasp each of these movies to my bosom for eternity, but seeing as that is impossible I hope they can be adopted into loving homes.”

“Bosom? Isn't that like a butt?” asks another of the ladies.

“No. Not really.”

“Oh. I've heard the word before somewhere though. What's it mean?”

“Bosom is breast.”

This statement sets the four girls a-tittering and the first girl says, “But you're a guy! You don't have those!”

“Not that kind of breast. It's like...cuddling something against the front of your chest. Like a kitten or a duckling or some other small, ridiculously cute critter. Or, in my case, a DVD. You don't need a set of DDs to do that.”

“I bet it helps!” yells a third, which sets them all off a second time.

“On that topic I'm not going to comment,” says Fernando. They bust out yet again and are still laughing when they leave.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


A regular customer pulls into the parking lot Monday evening. He enters the store, leans on top of the counter, and asks, “What movies're set to come out this week?”

Two no-names and Transformers. The big one is set to come out on Friday,” Fernando responds.

You got any of them in right now?””

Fernando's answer does not dissuade the man. “You sure?”

Yeah, positive.”

The man pays Fernando's restatement of his earlier comment no heed. “I think you've got them back there and you're just not letting me rent them.”

I mean, if that were the case, I couldn't rent them to you anyway. But I actually do not have the movies in my possession. That would require the distributor to get my movies to me in a comparatively timely manner, and you've been around enough to know that doesn't happen.”

The good news is this argument seems cogent to the man, who ceases his queries. The bad news is he leaves without renting anything.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Rainy Saturdays are the best Saturdays because that type of Saturday brings a great deal of custom to Fernando's Dominion. One evening on such a rainy Saturday a woman enters the store.

Oh, cool, Bridesmaids,” says she, reading Fernando's Weekly Releases Whiteboard. She enters deeper into the store and finds the film's location on the new release rack. At this point, because it's been a rainy and incredibly busy Saturday, all of Fernando's copies have been rented out already by other people.

She makes a show of browsing for a minute or two, then comes up to the counter. The woman tells Fernando, “Yeah, I'd like Bridesmaids.”

I'm sorry,” answers Fernando. “I'm fresh out of them for the night. I can hold one for you for tomorrow or some other time, though, if you'd like.”

No, I'd like it for tonight. Tomorrow doesn't work.”

Well, like I said, I can't help you. All of my copies have already come and gone.”

So you don't have any sitting back there right now?”

Afraid not.”

You're sure?”

Fernando glances over his shoulder to the drop box, empty at the moment. “Positive.”

That's not one there, is it?” the woman persists, pointing at a case resting upon Fernando's desk near the computer.

No, actually. It's Hanna. I'm holding it for someone to pick up later.”

And you're sure you don't have any back there?”

If I did, believe me, you would know about it. I like making money on movies and I can tell you have a great interest in seeing it. There'd be no reason for me to troll you, not to mention myself, by keeping it hidden and hoping that someone would come in and rent it later.”

At this point Life, having just heard the word “troll,” decides Fernando needs additional annoyance in his routine, as someone pulls up to the store and dumps a few movies into the drop box. Fernando's customer, a relentless optimist, jumps to the conclusion she most desires. “Is that it?” she thunders.

I doubt it,” answers Fernando as he goes to check. “Nope. Rio and True Grit. Care for either?”

No. I wanted Bridesmaids,” she grouses. Then she leaves.

Too bad you can't always get what you want.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Naming Confusions

A couple of kids, maybe aged eleven or so, enter the store one afternoon. One of them is awed by Fernando's kickass Avatar poster.

Is that Avatar?” he asks after reading the poster.

Absolutely it is. Pretty neat, huh?”

Yeah, I that show is awesome. I really want to see the next one that's coming out!”

You'll have to wait a little while. Last I heard it was gonna come out in 2014.”

Nuh-uh!” the kid objects. “They said it's gonna come out next year! I heard one of my friends tell me!”

I think your friend was mistaken. But, then again, I could be wrong myself. Maybe they moved it up on me since last I checked.” At any rate, the kid doesn't follow up on the conversation so Fernando goes back to doing his own thing.

Anyhow, the kids browse the store for a bit and eventually a tag is thrown up on the countertop. As Fernando fills out the rental slip, he sees the tag is labeled “The Last Airbender.” So the other one.

Well, that was silly of me before,” Fernando admits to the kids when he sees precisely which Avatar he was supposed to have been discussing. “And you were a hundred percent right.” The kid beams at Fernando. “Cartoon's still better, though. Legend of...well, whatever it is [Korra, Fernando finds out after researching it once the conversation had ended] will be better, too.”

The kids gasp. “You watched it?” the one asks in awe.

Well, yeah. I own a video rental store. That obligates me to be a silly, socially inept, introvert nerd. Well, that, or the fact that I'm a silly, socially inept, introvert nerd obligates me to own some sort of geekly business. Hard to tell which is the cause and which is the effect.”

Thus does Fernando propagate his rapport.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More Porn

One afternoon Fernando is speaking with one of his friends via the Book of Faces when the phone rings. The caller ID reads “Global Comm” and Fernando gears up for yet another encounter with telemarketers attempting to sway him to sign up for some nebulous company's communication services. After all, Fernando cannot simply allow the phone to go unanswered; that would be unprofessional.

Hello, Dominion of Movies!”

The first words out of the telemarketer's mouth are “Hey, brother!”

Curious opening gambit. Fernando unleashes a proper response: “Hi! Your voice has changed, and why are you calling me at this number?”

A brief pause as the marketer considers his next move. Then: “Excuse--”

Ah, but Fernando quickly follows up his attack! “Because you're not my brother.”

The telemarketer rallies and responds, “Okay then, hey, partner!”

Hey yourself!” Fernando says, mirroring his opponent and awaiting what was to come.

I wanted to talk to you today about the DVDs you make.”

This mistake creates an opening! Fernando strikes without hesitation. “My DVDs? What about the DVDs that I make? Because I can assure you I do zero illicit creation and marketing of copyrighted material.”

Um...I mean the DVDs that we make,” the telemarketer says, now on the defensive.

Oh, well then. What sorts of DVDs do you make?”

Well, the sort that we can't advertise on TV or in other places.” He pauses, gathering confidence. “We distribute adult movies.”

A-ha! Fernando has dealt with this sort before, and knows how to push buttons. “Oh, so you mean porn?”

Uh...yeah, yeah, porn,” is the cowed response.

Well, I hate to break your bubble, but I don't currently carry any of those.” While this seems like Fernando left a vulnerable chink in his defenses, he gives the anonymous man from Global Comm no opportunity to exploit it. “And I'm uninterested in stocking such things right now, and for the foreseeable future. So, I hope you have a great day, and best of luck in getting in touch with your sibling!” Then Fernando hangs up.

Fernando hopes the guy is able to retrieve his porn from his brother.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Fernando is collecting his mail one day (random aside, but for some reason the post office decided to grace his box with two copies of the free weekly paper) and sees a letter from a local television station amidst all the usual newspapers and bills.

What could they want?” Fernando muses aloud, shifting his gaze over the envelope. It sadly seems to have been misdelivered, as a Fern Setevs should have come into possession of it rather than our protagonist. Fernando perpetrates some sort of federal offense by opening this stranger's mail to browse the envelope's contents. The station would greatly appreciate Fernando's attendance at a small business seminar put on by some advertising agency in order to “more effectively advertise,” which, of course, is code for “create a captive audience to harangue for some billboard-making guys in order to pimp their services.”

"That sounds nice," says Fernando as he rips the letter up and disposes of it.

Words of advice to social gathering organizers: If you want Fernando to RSVP your event, make sure you do enough basic research on him to ensure you spell his fucking name correctly.