Thursday, June 30, 2011

But...Avenue Q....

It is a merry New Release Tuesday that happens to coincide with the date on which Fernando was born into this world. He is enjoying what passes for a day off: playing Final Fantasy XII and drinking a cool, refreshing Pepsi he has procured from a sodey pop fridge.

The phone rings. NEVADA CALL, reads the caller ID. Fernando pauses his game and picks up.

Hello, Dominion of Movies.”

Ah, yes,” says a weaselly, pleasing voice not unlike that of a servile but treacherous chancellor, “Do you carry any, ah, adult films?”

Uh, no, I'm afraid I don't.”

I see. Does anyone ever ask you about adult films?”

Er. There's not really much demand for them here.”

Well, I'm calling from Ecstatic X. We distribute adult videos to retailers like you.”

Um. That's very nice. But I'm afraid I'm not interested in your product.”

If you can give me just a minute, I'll be happy to give you a number of statistics regarding sales of adult video for home consumption,” says the man.

Well, okay, but first I'd like you to answer a question for me,” says Fernando.


Why would I, or anyone else for that matter, spend money on something that could be had for free just about anywhere on the internet?”

Well, you see, people like to enjoy adult videos in a relaxing home environment--”

Pretty sure that it's still illegal to whip it out at the local Starbucks,” interrupts Fernando. “Are you suggesting to me that people in general don't consume their internet porn in the privacy of their own homes?”

Sir, adult videos--”


Sir, that label is grossly loaded language and--”

I mean, frigging Human Centipede is an adult video. Kill Bill is an adult video. Backdoor to the Orient is an adult video. That one is squicky gross-out horror and the other an exploitation revenge flick and the third some consenting adults doing naughty things in front of a camera really doesn't concern me and is silly sophistry. That being said, I'm not interested in your services. Good day.”

But sir--”

Fernando hangs up, unpauses, and resumes his trudge through Barheim Passage to attain the Esper Zalera.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Permission Denied

It's a rainy evening. Fernando sits in his chair and looks out at the sheets of precipitation, thinking happy thoughts full of petrichor. A white pickup truck pulls up and a lady enters the store.

She doesn't pass by the counter, but this does not cause Fernando undue concern. The sales rack is, after all, right there. Perhaps she is browsing and this will lead to Fernando receiving income from her purchase. Thoughts like this also cause Fernando to feel happiness.

But, no, about a minute later she departs, clambers into her truck, and speeds off.

What was that all about?” Fernando asks the empty store. He comes out from around the counter and spies the reason upon the wall.

It is a gaudy poster for some bandstand thing that is being sponsored by Miller Lite. It was not there before this lady entered the store. What's more egregious is that Fernando's own pushpins were used to secure it to the wall.

Well, okay,” says Fernando, moving to the wall to do what needs to be done. Another customer pulls up and enters the Dominion.

What's that all about?” he asks Fernando, pointing.

This?” Fernando says, holding up the advertisement poster in his hand. “This is what happens when you put things on my wall without asking first.” And Fernando strides to his paper recycling box and jams the poster in amidst its garbage brethren.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

By My Own Petard

A woman and her daughter enter the store one evening, browse for a bit, then approach the counter with a pair of tags. She had been in before but Fernando, ever a paragon of recognition, fails to dredge her name up from the depths of his memory.

So he goes ahead and asks. “Can I get your name?”

And then it happens. The woman looks at him and says, “Yes, you may have it. Paula Polestar.”

The daughter sighs and fixes an embarrassed gaze upon the carpet, but Fernando looks upon the woman in amazement and chagrin. “Y-you must be an English teacher,” he stammers.

No. I just prefer it that people use proper English grammar.”

Right about there is where people on an internet forum would inject an Oh snap! flowchart jpeg.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Noun that Verbs Your Noun

Fernando's chilling at the store one slow afternoon watching videos on Youtube. He finds himself singing along to the expository theme tune at one point. Because he wears headphones and is caught up in musical splendor and nostalgia, he misses that a customer enters the store.

He continues with his serenading until he catches a bit of movement out of the corner of his eye. He sees a young woman standing at the counter with an amused look on her face.

You didn't just see that, okay?” Fernando says, pausing the video and removing his headset.

See what?” she asks. “I'm not even sure what I was looking at. What is that?” She points at Fernando's computer screen which has frozen upon it the image of a white mallard with a pimping purple fedora.

That's Darkwing Duck,” Fernando says. He eyes the young lady. “You do know who that is, right?”

Um, no, actually.”

Fernando produces an exaggerated sigh of consternation. “How old are you?”


And you don't know who Darkwing Duck is?”


This is the part where I'm supposed to go all old fogey on your ass about your misspent youth.”

Aren't you only like twenty-five?”

God, I wish I was twenty-five again. That's like being a young whippersnapper somethingsomething kids these days.” Fernando shakes his fist at an unoffensive guardian spider lurking in one corner. The guardian spider pays him no mind.

The young lady laughs and promises to keep Fernando's embarrassing shenanigans to herself.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Horses and Water

A group of three people enter the store one day. Normally this is a nonissue, but today it prompts Fernando to come to full attention. It just so happens that the sole male member in this group is on Fernando's ban list for absconding with a couple of movies earlier in the year: Afterlife and Scary Movie 2. Fernando double-checks his records to get the numbers and dates correct for the inevitable, forthcoming conflict.

The group browses the store and the bastion of masculine gallantry preens his courtship feathers by remarking on how “gay-looking” this or that actor is on a given movie case. He proclaims that Jake Gyllenhaal's role in Prince of Persia wins first prize. Anyway, after too long a time to Fernando's tortured ears, they come to the counter. The gent slaps down a pair of tags with a superior smirk upon his face.

I'm sorry. I won't rent to you.”

The smirk vanishes, to be replaced by an angry scowl and a visible twitching of the shoulders and upper arms. This man is taller and more ripped than Fernando, and he seems to feel that physical intimidation is the way to go on this one. “What?” he asks in an angry monotone.

I'm sorry. I won't rent to you,” Fernando repeats.

What?” The angrybrows grow more beetled in the face of Fernando's defiance.

I'm sorry. I won't rent to you,” Fernando says a third time. “The reason being that you rented a couple of movies and never returned them. Until the $70 in late and replacement fees that I am owed is paid, I won't rent to you.”

The adolescent-minded young man growls and bunches his muscles more. “I want to rent these.”

Too easy. “And I want you to pay the $70 you owe me. Since neither is going to happen anytime soon, I don't see any point to continuing this discussion.”

One of his fangirls, Mr. Eyebrows' sex-buddy for all Fernando knew, pipes up at this point. “How does he owe you $70?” she asks, accusation in her voice.

Two weeks of late fees plus replacement fees on top of that.” Fernando smiles. “Normally I call the cops about thefts but I didn't want to bother them with something so unimportant.”

Eyebrows' face flushes, either in petulant anger at not getting his way or because he detected an insult in the words Fernando had just said. “What'll it take to let us rent here?” asks Fangirl Two, who is the nicest-looking and politest in the bunch.

To let you rent here? You'd need to open an account. Driver's license, cough it up.” Fernando retrieves a membership application.

You'll let her rent but not me?” Eyebrows thunders as Fangirl Two gets to writing.

Well, yes. For one she's not you; for two I find it is bad business practice to prejudge people based on what their relations or friends have done. She hasn't stolen from me.” Fernando decides at this point he's trolled the guy enough and needs to open the doors to redemption. “Understand that it's not personal, despite how it may seem. You pay off the seventy bucks and earn your way back into my good graces, it's all forgotten. I had a guy who owed me like ninety bucks at one point. Came in, paid it off, now he rents just fine. Something to consider.” At this point Eyebrows' expression transitioned from face-smash to mere annoyance and Fangirl Two had finished filling out the application. “Ah, excellent. It'll be three-fifty.”

Fangirl Two pays and leaves. Eyebrows still owes seventy dollars.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Canned Air

A middle-aged, scruffy-looking gentleman enters the store one day. “Yeah, I got a quick question for ya. Ya know anything about cleaning DVD players?”

Um, there's not too awful much out there to know on the subject. Used to be that I had a cleaning disc for the players but I lent that out years ago and it was never returned. I haven't really been bothered to get a new one because canned air does everything that thing did.”

Canned air?”

Yeah, it's used for cleaning dust off electronics and stuff, for when you can't use water or a vacuum for fear of static electricity or, well, water damaging your things. Runs seven to twelve bucks a can depending on where you get it.”

How's it work?”

Um. The can has a long nozzle and you stick that where it needs to go, squeeze a little trigger, and pressurized air shoots out. Cleans the dust off the laser array pretty well.”

Oh, okay,” says the man. “I'll give that a shot then. I've got an air compressor at home. Thanks.” And he leaves.

The man failed to return, so his plan must have worked.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gaming the System

A high school girl enters the store one day. “Hey, if I rent one now can I get the other free later if I come back later today?”

Fernando sees no harm in acquiescing to this request. “Sure. No problem.”

So the girl selects the 2003 movie Thirteen, pays, and leaves. About three hours later she returns. Fernando is helping another customer as she enters and brings back the movie from before, but he hears her rip a tag off a case somewhere. Soon she arrives at the counter.

True Grit. That movie came out this week. Hmmm.

I'm going to need an extra buck-fifty from you,” says Fernando.

Well, you said this one would be free.”

So I did. The problem is that you gamed the system by renting a less expensive movie and then tried to claim one of greater value for your free one. Had you rented them at the same time that never would have flown. Hence, you owe me an extra one-fifty to make up for the difference in value between the two.”

Well, I didn't bring any money with me.”

No problem. You can just leave the money in the case when you drop it off tomorrow, or come in to pay it then.”

Oh, okay. I will,” she promises. Then she takes her movie and leaves.

The next day True Grit is returned in the drop box upon opening, but the money is nowhere to be found. The next time she comes in and is informed she still owes Fernando a dollar and a half will surely lead to a follow-up chronicle.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ask an Honest Question, Get an Honest Answer

It's a slow Sunday afternoon at the Dominion. The conditions outside lend themselves to optimal grilling weather, so people have countless better things to do than sit inside watching movies. This leaves Fernando trapped not unlike a caged ferret, looking out onto a beautiful world through the front windows of his store.

Then a van pulls up, and out pile a middle-aged woman and three kids. The van, by the way, has a great abundance of Support the Troops magnet ribbons and church-related paraphernalia on the back doors. All of the guests are unknown to Fernando and, yup, they start grabbing cases and rearranging the store as a favor to Fernando as soon as they enter.

Eventually they gather in a herd before the counter and throw down five movie cases from disparate corners of the store. The woman standing before Fernando glares at him.

Can I get your name?” Fernando asks.

Luxanna,” she answers in a flat, angry monotone.

Last name?”

That is my last name.”

Cue the awkward pause. But since no further information is forthcoming, Fernando has to goad her to the next stage of the conversation. “Can I get your first name, then?”


Do you have an account here?”


Easily fixed,” says Fernando, retrieving the membership application he'd placed on the nearby shelf about a week previous. “I just need you to fill this out for me.”

I don't want to be a member. I just want to rent these for one night. We'll bring them back tomorrow.”

Er. Right, that's why I need you to fill this out.”

We don't live around here,” she says, death glare deepening. “We're only up here for a few days.”

All the more reason for you to fill one out then, wouldn't you say?”

No. I don't see why we should have to. I don't want to get a bunch of junk mail or to have you have my information.”

Fernando shrugs. “Okay. Then I won't rent to you.” Her kids, by the way, have been absolutely silent and motionless, dare Fernando say “cowed,” through this whole exchange.

That sets her off and she goes into spoiled fundamentalist mode. “You can't treat us like this! We're paying customers!”

Well, no. You're kind of being the opposite of a customer right now. You're raging incredibly hard over something that doesn't give anyone else on the planet pause. Fact of the matter is you have about a hundred dollars in stuff that you want to take into your temporary possession and you yourself admitted to being out of town and only up here 'for a few days,'” Fernando says with air quotes aplenty. “Comprehend that I am protecting a sizable inventory investment and that I have no reason to hand off said hundred dollars in stuff to someone I've never seen before and who's making something of an ass of herself to me in front of her kids. If that means I lose ten dollars, so be it. I think I'll manage just fine.”

Just who do you think you are to treat us like this?” she demands.

Fernando H. Stevens, Keeper of the Dominion of Movies. Who do you think you are to treat me like this?” Fernando rebuts.

Thankfully someone else pulls into the parking lot at this time, prompting Roselia and her brood to exit posthaste, lest their recent idiocy be made known to the world outside the Dominion's bounds.



Sunday, June 12, 2011

Manual Difficulty

A lady and her child rent Halo 3 one day. They return the game the next day, but....

Uh, you accidentally forgot to put the manual in the case when you returned it,” says Fernando.

The lady glowers at him. “There wasn't a book in there when we rented it”

Er, not to be contrary, but, yeah, there was. All of my game rentals come with the manual.”

This woman is adamant, however. “I'm telling you there wasn't one.” Meanwhile, her child had been browsing the game section and brings up the tag for another title, Fable III.

Mom, can we rent this one?” he asks. The mother grants permission and so Fernando retrieves the game. He makes it a point to open the case (despite it being made of translucent, orange plastic) and ensures that the manual for the game is wedged beneath the little plastic...hook-grabber-things. He even pulls it out the provide tangible evidence of the manual's existence.

Four dollars. Also, if you could just check around at home for the Halo manual, it'd be much appreciated.”

Fine,” sighs the woman. “But I'm telling you there wasn't a book with it.”

The next day, a translucent, orange plastic case rests in the drop box. Its cover lies partially open, the books for Fable III and Halo III propping the lid.

An apology will certainly be forthcoming the next time this lady rents.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Release Schedule

One muggy, June afternoon....

-Ring ring ring-

Hello, Dominion of Movies.”

Yeah, hi. I'm calling to see if you have Source Code in.”

Source Code? Er, no, can't say that I do.”

That's a bummer. Why don't you have it?”

Partly because I have no control over when studios choose to release movies to DVD and mostly because the studios haven't given a home release date for it yet, let alone released it.”

That sucks. There's nothing you can do about that, huh?”

Fernando guffaws. “You have no idea how much I would love having the power of getting the movies that people want to see into their hands the instant they want to see them. Instead, I get to struggle with getting movies I've already paid for into my hands in time for release day.”

As Source Code is unavailable, the gentleman decides to have Fernando hold True Grit and Eagle Eye for him instead.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On The Ontology of Records

It's a balmy Sunday in June. Fernando has just opened the store and is sorting the assorted returns in the box when a silver minivan pulls up. Out pile three teenage children and their adult male handler. Fernando's never seen any of them before. They fan out through the store and browse as Fernando continues his sorting.

About five minutes later, they approach the counter, each bearing a movie case with a rental tag attached to it. But Fernando and anyone who has ever rented here before (or even anyone who reads his Chronicles half-regularly) knows this is not the system Fernando has in place.

Can I get your name?” Fernando asks, pen hovering over the rental slip.

Maokai R.”

Do you have an account here?”

Yes,” he responds without missing a beat. Man's a good liar, Fernando must at least admit.

Fernando turns and meanders over to his computer. Mr. Maokai asks, “What are you doing?”

I'm checking to see if you're in my system, is all.”

You don't need to do that.”

But Fernando has already opened the file and scrolled the the R's and, surprise, failed to find Mr. Maokai. “It seems you actually are not in the system. That's quite strange considering you claim to have an account.”

Maybe you didn't put it in the computer.”

Could be, could be,” Fernando admits. “Hold on a second.”

And Fernando heads to his file cabinet, where the hard copies of all membership applications are kept. It is possible for someone not to be in the computer, if he or she hadn't rented in years. It's impossible for someone to not be in the file cabinet and yet have an account. So again Fernando searches the R's and again he fails to find an R., Maokai.

You're not in there, either,” Fernando says, returning to the counter. “It would seem your claim to have an account here lacks evidence backing it up.”

Maybe you threw it out?” the man says, uncertainty creeping into his voice for the first time. One of his offspring, meanwhile, has opened the sodey pop fridge and closed the door again. Fernando keeps an eye on that one.

Doubtful. I have cards in there from over a decade ago, people who have possibly since died or moved away or been put on the ban list. Now, it's a small matter for someone to create an account, but you've already attempted to mislead me once today. You'll forgive me if I'm somewhat hesitant to rent to you now.”

That sets him off. “Then we won't rent! Come on,” he orders his brood as they filter out the door. Fernando watches as they leave, then checks his fridge.

Turns out the one kid didn't try to steal a sodey pop from Fernando, else this story would have turned out even better.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


It's 8 PM on a Wednesday. Fernando is about to close when a truck pulls up. Fernando mutters to himself, “Eh, more money,” and does not forbid the young woman who drives the vehicle from entering and perusing the store.

As she passes through the threshold Fernando takes note of the words upon the black sweatshirt she wears as a form of advertisement for a local business. They read in part “No job to BIG or to small.”

Fernando cannot let this abomination stand without comment.

You realize your sweatshirt has some mistakes on it,” he says to her as she brings her tag to the counter.

Oh, really?” she asks, pulling her arms up into the sleeves and rotating it to read what is written on the back. “I don't see anything wrong.”

You've got the wrong 'to.' The shirt uses the prepositional spelling when the adverbial one would be correct.”

These words are lost to her. “Huh?”

The way your shirt reads, one could just as easily say 'No job from big or from small' and have the same grammatical structure. You might want to mention that to whoever greenlit the shirt's design to have it fixed for any future printings.” Then Fernando pauses for a moment, pondering. “Whomever,” he continues. “It's no good for me to correct others' mistakes when I just fall into my own.”

The young woman stares goggle-eyed at Fernando until he returns to the comfortable realm of supplier-consumer relations and says, “It comes to two dollars.”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Job Search

A scruffy, middle-aged man with lank, gray hair who Fernando has never seen before enters the store one beautiful day. Without preamble, he speaks at Fernando in a, um, “quaint” brogue: “Yeh, I wanna know ef yer lookin' t' hyre ennebuddy.”

Er, no, sorry. I'm not hiring at this moment,” responds Fernando after taking a moment to ensure comprehension of what was just said.

Well, ken I get'n applecashun?”

Um, sure. I don't see the harm in that. But don't get your hopes too high. Like I said, I'm not hiring right now.” Fernando digs through his filing cabinet in search of the musty manila folder containing blank job applications. He tears one off and passes it to the stranger, who snatches at it with unwashed fingers.

Thenks. Now I ken show th' 'mploy'ent peeble I'm lookin' ferra job 'n' ken keep gettin' So'cal Scurr'ty.” Then he departs just as one of Fernando regular customers enters the building, giving the mysterious visitor a surprised look.

Oh, you're hiring now, eh? Seems about time, since you never get a day off,” says the regular customer.

Well, frankly, if that's the highest caliber of my potential employees, I think I'd rather just not have any days off.”