Sunday, July 31, 2011

Biennial Musings

August 1st marks the start of the third full year of my keeping of the Dominion. The ride so far has been enjoyable. There were some rough patches starting out. I was kind of a dick (moreso than usual) to people who perhaps didn't deserve it and haven't come back since then. I had people firmly sequestered on the ban list who figured they'd help themselves to my inventory because I'm a new owner. Once in a while I did something silly and relented after they'd paid off their late fees. Some of the time, they even had reformed as customers. The start of the first year was pretty full of frustration and rage.

Around January I mellowed out, partly because I'd come to accept that people are untrustworthy assholes and partly because I came to terms with the fact that said assholes I'd encountered are gone for good. And the latter half of that first year passed by fairly smoothly. One thing I had begun to do, however, is chronicle the most inane things I experienced in a Word document. Why I began to do this I wasn't really quite sure at the time. Well, actually I was; these were such rage-inducing incidents that I needed vent them out somewhere, lest I inadvertently take them out on my loyal, good customers who had done nothing to deserve it.

August came and went and it was the second year of Keeping. The document grew apace. Things that vexed me at first became rote. Sure, there were still the odd thieves, but they didn't bother me nearly as much as back then. Then in October I suffered the double whammy of Big Brother and Family Video incidents within two days of each other, decided to start the official Chronicles because whatever, and that was that.

Now it's the end of Year Two and things are...normal. There's no real excitement to my workday anymore. No excitement to my workmonth. Open at noon or two, sort returns, update late list, plug in sodey pop fridge, log accounting in the computer, sort mail, write checks, hop online to do something vaguely work-related and peruse movie and entertainment media news, update the Chronicles if it's Tuesday or Thursday or Sunday, help customers, once in a while encounter something worthy of throwing into my now-110-page document (it was at 18 when I started the blog). Close up the store at 8 or 9. Maybe hang out with friends afterwards if it's one of those days on which it works out. End of the month, call up the distributor and put in the orders for the following month.

Weirdly enough, it's an okay existence. Could it use a bit more excitement? Maybe. But I'm not a particularly exciting guy and I don't particularly enjoy having my life be an action thriller. Perhaps the most positive way to put it is that the Dominion of Movies and its Keeper are there for you because that is what we are here for.

See you all next year.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


A jolly Tuesday is being had, for many of Fernando's companions have recently arrived to sequester themselves in his sterling back room in preparation for a righteous rolling of bones upon closing time. Fernando had just prepared a pot of coffee and was in the back sipping at molten ecstasy when the door chimes jingled.

Reluctantly, our protagonist returned to the front of the store whilst booming, “Hello!” at the visitor. It was about 7.30 so all Fernando really expected was one of his later-in-the-evening regulars perusing the new releases and lamenting that none of them were in.

Instead, it's a fairly attractive young lady, maybe 19, 20, carrying around a large black satchel strategically filled with books and pamphlets. She has a larger, hardcover tome cradled under one arm and in her other hand she carries a DVD. “Oh, hello!” she says, smiling winsomely as Fernando resumes his place behind the counter. She wedges the DVD underarm next to the book and brushes a stray hair out of her eyes. “How are you today?”

I'm well. Yourself?”

Just fantastic!” And she smiles. But it is a hollow, false smile that does not reach her eyes. “My name is Sarah and I am working as part of a scholarship program.” She pauses to look around the store and releases a small titter. “Do you watch many movies?”

I've been known to peruse a few now and again.”

Well, you might be interested in this DVD, then. It is a documentary about a man and how he was able to uncover predictions regardingWorld War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and War on Terror through biblical verse. Now, all we're asking is for a small donation. It can be whatever you like."

Curious. And this documentary, I'm sure it meets a rigorous logical standard, and doesn't cherry pick verses to make what seems to be a cogent argument.”

But she is unfazed. Cultists are like that. “I'm sure you would find it a great addition to your store. It would be a very informative thing for your customers to watch.”

Fernando snorts. “I can barely get them to rent March of the Penguins or Super Size Me. I don't think that this is precisely the sort of fare likely to be consumed by them.”

That forced smile remains in place as she says, “But you can't know that for sure.”

And Fernando gives a grin of his own. “Presumptive of you to claim that it would go over well, then.”

But she remains unrattled, still maintaining that creepy smile, and changes the topic. “You said you like logical arguments, so I'm sure you read quite a bit.”

You could say that. I'm not too terribly choosy either. I'll consume equal parts nonfiction”--and here Fernando puts a wonderful bit of emphasis on the word--”and fantasy.

That being said,” Fernando continues as she prepares to speak, “I'm not particularly interested in your wares.”

Oh, yes, sir, I understand.” She reaches into her satchel and retrieves a little prayer book thing. “Any help you could give at all would be most appreciated.”

I said I'm not interested.”

Oh, well, here then, sir,” she says, pulling out a tiny postcard. “This is if you should ever want more information. Have a nice evening!” She turns and leaves. The plastic smile was still on her face as the door chimed shut.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thursday is the New Friday

A semiregular enters the store Wednesday afternoon and rents a few movies. “D'ya have any popcorn?” he asks after paying.

No, sorry. Popcorn is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday if it lasts.”


If I have leftover popcorn from Saturday, I roll it over to Sunday. And if I had leftover popcorn from Sunday, likewise for Monday, maybe, I guess,” Fernando explains. “But I never do.”

Oh, okay.” And he leaves.

He returns the movies the following day and decides to rent again. “Popcorn today?” he asks.

Um, no,” answers Fernando. After a brief pause: “You asked this question yesterday. I only give it out on weekends.”

I figured you'd have some in the store today, since you need it for tomorrow.”

Okay, you got me there. I like to keep a cache of extra supplies around in case I need them.”

So can I have some?”


He leaves.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Persistence Is Not a Virtue

It's a rather cool, cloudy Thursday afternoon. Fernando is sipping from a freshly-filled water bottle. The phone rings.
Oh, goody. The rental distribution people from about three months ago. Fernando thought he was finished with them. But, business being business, Fernando cannot simply allow the phone to go unanswered. Dammit.
Hello, Dominion of Movies.”
Yeah, hi, Fern. It's me, Kevin, calling from Turtlefoot Enterprises. How are you?”
Great. Let me tell you something, Fern, and I don't know if you've heard the news, but that thing that Netflix did the other day is just phenomenal. I couldn't believe it, and let me tell you that the phones have been ringing all day with video stores calling, letting us know that they need stock for the upcoming months. So many people have...they're just so upset over this that they've canceled their subscriptions entirely. And that's good news for people like you, because it means they've got nowhere else to go for the movies being released over the coming months. I mean...lemme ask you, Fern, you've got friends who use Netflix, right? Are they as upset about this as the people I know? I mean, come on, give people actual value for their money, right?”
I guess so,” answers Fernando. He hears a faint inhalation as "Kevin" readies to continue his pitch. “But let me stop you so you won't waste any more of your time. I'm still not interested in what you guys have to offer.”
But, Fern, tell me, how exactly this won't work out for you. The depth and breadth of titles we can offer has worked for so many of our customers and it can work for you, too.”
Well, yeah. They're your customers. You provide them with that which they view as adequate value for their money. I would not receive an adequate value for my money, hence my disinterest.”
Listen, Fern, I can give you references to a number of my clients. Ask them and I'm sure--”
Sure they'll say marvelous things, yeah, I know. That's why you would mention these clients to me in the first place.”
If you'll just help me out and tell me how it--”
The plural of anecdote is not data. That's all the help I'm giving you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a store to run. Good day.”
Will Fernando experience a Round Three down the road?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cassettes and Discs

A man Fernando has never seen before enters the Dominion one incredibly hot afternoon. “Hey, do you know anything about transferring stuff from a cassette to a disc?” he asks without preamble.

Oh, like VHS-to-DVD recording? I don't do it here, myself, but it's relatively straightforward if you have a specific model of VHS/DVD combo player with a DVD-R drive. You can set it up to play and record on the same machine. Else you'd have to set it up so that the VHS is playing through your VHS player while your DVD player burns and records things.”

Oh, I didn't mean that. I was talking about music cassettes and CDs.”

Fernando regards the man for a moment. “Ah. That changes things a little. Makes it a bit more complicated.”

Do you have anything that will do that for me? I talked with somebody who said you do that kind of thing.”

Well, I mean, this is a video store, and I don't even do VHS-to-DVD transfers. Tape-to-CD is kind of out of my forte.”

Well, can you tell me how you'd do it?”

Probably set up the cassette to play while you have a mic picking up the music or whatever and recording the data into an audio program of some sort on your computer. Then you can just burn that data to a disc like you would any other. It's convoluted but the best option I can think of offhand.”

Oh. Okay. Thanks.”

And he leaves.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A customer a few years Fernando's junior enters the store with her fiveish-year-old daughter. She selects some rental tags and brings them to the counter. Transaction goes through without incident.

Do you think you could hold Rango for me for tomorrow?” she asks.

Absolutely. Once I get a copy in I'll set it aside for you for when you return these.”

Awesome.” She waits a beat before continuing, “What would you do if I came in with a full stamp card?” She puts queer emphasis on the word and leers at Fernando in a sort of awkward manner.

Um, probably give you a free rental?”

That's it? What if I came in with two​?”

Then you'd get two free rentals.”

This answer for some reason disappoints her. “Oh,” she says. “I'll see you tomorrow, then.” And she leaves.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nostalgia Trip

A nice-looking woman of maybe thirty enters the Dominion one Saturday afternoon with two children in tow. She comes up to the counter and says, “You know, I can't believe this place is still here.”

Still here?” asks Fernando as he wracks his memory in search of her identity. He draws a blank.

Yeah. I would have thought it would have closed by now. I used to work here years and years ago.”

Oh?” asks Fernando. “When was this?”

Back in the late '80s, early '90s.” She looks over her shoulder at some of the rental racks. “Wow, I can't believe you still have VHS tapes here.”

Yeah, that's something I've been trying to remedy. Weirdly enough, people rent the VHS tapes but they never buy them.”

So who owns this place now?” she asks.

That would be me,” says Fernando, and he hands her a business card.

She glances over it for a moment, then looks up. “Stevens....are you related to Celes Stevens?”

Indeed I am. That's my aunt.”

She went to high school with me! Well, not with me. She was a few years older than me.” Then she suddenly leans over the counter and peers at a magnet on Fernando's filing cabinet. “You went to CMU?”

Class of '06.”

So did I! Where did you live?”


No kidding! I started in Troutman, then moved to Washington Village! You know where that is?”

Well, yeah. When I used to head downtown we'd walk right past them. I'm pretty sure I went to a few parties in that vicinity as well.”

She laughs. “Only pretty sure?”

Well, they wouldn't have been very good parties otherwise,” Fernando says with a small grin.

Then she asks, “Can I ask you a favor?”

I don't see why not.”

I'm up here from downstate visiting my family with my kids and I have my camera in the car. Could you take a picture of me standing in front of the store?”

Absolutely I can.”

So Fernando heads outside to help the nice lady relive and remember her past. The picture turns out quite satisfactory, so she thanks him, piles the kids into her minivan, and heads out of Fernando's life forever.

But the world had been made a happier place through Fernando's actions on that day, so it was okay.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Relationship Values

Fernando has a customer, and this customer is a fine and upstanding gentleman. He almost never returns movies late and when he does he pays off the late fees immediately.

Then he begins dating another of Fernando's customers, as he hears through the grape vine. This woman is considerably less...responsible. She owes Fernando $13 in late fees.

The gentleman rents a few movies one day. They go unreturned for one day, two days, three. Finally, after five days, the movies appear in Fernando's drop box.

The next time he comes in to rent Fernando says, “You have some late fees, if you want to throw something on them.”

“Oh, I do?” he asks with surprise lacing his voice. “How much?”


“What? You're kidding me.”

“You had three movies five days late.”

“I could've swore they were returned on time.”

“Unfortunately, they weren't. You don't have to kill off the whole thing if you don't want.”

“Okay.” He throws two extra dollars down upon the counter. “Put that on it. I'll square up with you next time.”

Why is it that when people begin to engage in carnality with one another they always start adopting the worst of their partner's traits?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Socratic Method

Hey, you know you have two copies of this movie?” says a young child, perhaps six or seven, one day, pointing to Fernando's new release shelf as his mother browses elsewhere.

Hmm?” answers Fernando. Then he sees the film in question. “Yeah, that's because I need to have more than one copy of The Dilemma here.”


Well, because I need more than one copy of it so that I have some here so people can rent it if they want to.”

Why would they want to?”

Fernando chuckles. “Some people like movies like that.”

But why?”

Well, it's flavors of ice cream. Some people like vanilla, others like chocolate. So you need to have different flavors of movies for people to watch, too.”

But you can't eat a movie!”

'If you can cut it with a knife, you can eat it,'” Fernando quotes to the child, as one of his college acquaintances had coined this saying.

But I don't have a knife.”

The mother completes her browsing at this point and approaches the counter, calling the child to her. As Fernando completes the transaction, she catches a glance of Fernando's KEEP YOUR CHILDREN UNDER CONTROL sign. “Oh, jeez, I'm sorry,” she blurts.

For what?” Then Fernando notices her looking up at the sign and laughs. “The only way that sign would have been invoked would be if your son had actually started cutting up movies and cases in order to consume them.”

The woman smiles, pays, and leaves.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Portentous Title, Indeed

I had serious reservations about Sucker Punch. The way the film was marketed, everything I had heard, all the reviews I had read, all of it made the movie out to be nothing more than the feverish, masturbatory fantasies of a repressed fifteen-year-old. I mean, the trailer featured hot chicks in skimpy clothes killing shit with swords and guns while dragons attacked Nazi-unicorn-zeppelin-biplane pirate ships, for Kali's sake.

Okay, maybe the absurdity wasn't quite to that degree, but nevertheless the movie looked like a shameless, pandering cash grab. After all, Zack Snyder is a human and humans love money to the extent that scruples don't matter, provided enough money is thrown at the individual in question. The overall high quality of one's previous filmography in no way disallows one from creating schlock to buy another four dozen solid gold potato peelers.

When one of the customers whose opinion on film quality I trust rented the movie and returned it with a solid recommendation, I was flabbergasted. “Are you sure you're talking about the same movie I am?”

“Yeah, positive,” says the customer, pointing at the case with a disc reading “Sucker Punch” within. “Aside from some weird jumpy shit near the beginning and end, it's a solid movie.”

Well then. Away we go.

There is indeed some “weird jumpy shit” in the movie, and one of the complaints I regularly have seen leveled against the film is that the “weird jumpy shit” is confusing. Except...not really. Not really at all.

Emily Browning has been committed to an asylum by her jackass stepfather so she is unable to claim an inheritance after her mother died. Said jackass stepfather bribes Oscar Isaac, a corrupt employee of said institution, into forging papers recommending Emily for a lobotomy. Said lobotomy is to take place five days hence.

Meanwhile, Carla Gugino is the resident psychiatrist and, in this asylum, group therapy takes place in a large, dirty room called The Theater. Emily has no desire to live the life of Randle McMurphy, so she concocts a plan to escape. Enter the “weird jumpy shit.”

See, one of the things that I really enjoyed about this movie (I'll get to the other one in a second) is that it has a cohesive plot and uses metaphor and allegory to tell a cinematic tale. The “weird jumpy shit” is actually a form of mental escapism used by Emily in which she and a bunch of other girls are dancers in a brothel run by Oscar. Once she's inside her fantasy world, she goes deeper, Matrix-style, into the domain in which all the hot chick asskickery occurs. Some found it apparently confusing, but I found it to be a simple and straightforward concept to grasp. Perhaps people need to play some Dungeons & Dragons? They should at least read up on the coterminous, overlapping nature of the Material and Ethereal Planes and how from the Ethereal Plane one can “go deeper” into the Astral (and, holy crap, you can even go from the Astral to other-other places!).

That's the basic plot. The film's emotional climax is rather predictable (I guessed right away what form a mysterious McGuffin took once its super-secret “you'll-know-it-when-you-reach-understanding” existence was revealed to our protagonist) but doesn't really detract from the plot; cliches are not bad. The asskickery is marvelously executed, but this is Zack Snyder we're talking about. The man knows how to do action. The visuals are overall splendid, as well. One thing I found refreshing, for a change, was the limits placed on depictions of violence (and there's a damn lot of that) due to the PG13 rating. I don't think the movie would have been nearly as enjoyable had it had Watchmen-like levels of realistic gore.

Why do I say this? It brings me to the second major point of approval I have for this film: it's the most positively feminist movie I can recall seeing in a good long while. It features a cast of strong females who are thwarted time and again by conspiring, asshole men without creeping into the violent pseudofeminism of revenge flicks, nor portraying all males as straw men (heh) who simply exist as punching bags for the creator's message. Hell, my favorite character in the movie is a Cool Old Guru played by Scott Glenn. But he never overshadows the female leads; he gives guidance and provides objectives only. Instead he leaves the women to their own devices when boots hit the ground and requires them to do their own heavy lifting in a quest for freedom.

I only have one real quibble regarding the movie; near the end, the girls have to hijack a bomb from a train before it reaches its destination and explodes (again with the metaphors). They have to wade through a legion of angry robots to reach said bomb. What follows is roughly four minutes of spinny camera syndrome; the thing where the camera rotates around the focus of the scene as the other stuff unfolds. It had happened to a smaller, more palatable degree at points earlier in the movie, and while I appreciate on a technical level the gorgeous attention to detail provided by bullet-time shots of severed robot parts falling to the ground, it just got boring after the first minute. It was the only time during the movie I felt disconcerted and even confused. That all the robots were identical and posed no real threat at all to our leading ladies made the scene even more tiresome. The camera just wouldn't stop spinning spinning spinning around Emily and her companions as they hewed their way down the entire length of a train and left a trail of robot corpses in their wake.

Aside from that, though, I really cannot find any other serious fault with the film. Does this make it high cinema? Well, no. It doesn't offer any truly deep insight or message. That there are feminist overtones to the film doesn't mean the movie is a feminist movie; if I cared enough to put the effort into it, I could find that sort of thing in many other films. The structuring of the movie's plot into ogre-like layers of metaphorical reality is refreshing and well-done, though. At the end of the day, Sucker Punch is an action flick, albeit a well-done action flick that certainly doesn't deserve all the hate it has received from movie critics more famous and wiser than me. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Media Motivation

Just the other day the verdict in the Casey Anthony case was handed down by a jury of her peers in Florida. For whatever strange reason, the rendering of this verdict has caused the internet to explode in a bizarre singularity of vigilantism and rage.

Let me be upfront: I have no dog in this fight regarding her guilt or innocence. Hell, I had no idea who this chick was or what she had done until the internet went nuts. If people are of the opinion that the verdict rendered is the incorrect one, it's not my place to shatter that worldview.

That being said, I reiterate: I had never heard of this chick or what she had done. One might find that surprising, since some would consider me to be relatively up-to-date on most important happenings in the world. The emphasis is on “important.” That's the thing: the places I generally frequent for news never advertised the existence of this trial to a meaningful degree. Sure, there were probably small links squirreled away somewhere, but they never caught my eye. I missed the entire lead-up (apparently this has been simmering for two years?) to the trial and the coverage of the trial (apparently CNN's Nancy Grace went all out stumping for this woman's guilt?); that I receive and therefore consume most of my news from sources that aren't CNN/FOX/NBC/CBS probably has a great deal to do with it.

See, I'm a guy in the media industry (home media, and residing below the scrapings of the bottom of the barrel at that, but media nonetheless). If there's one trend I've noticed over the past few years, it's that news media has become sensationalized to an absurd degree. Coupled with this has been the existence of the 24-hour news cycle and the need to fill the time comprising said cycle with interesting tidbits to catch and keep viewers' interests. After all, news corporations are just that: corporations. They like money just as much as everyone else, and if someone's not watching you they could well be watching your competitors.

Enter what I call manufactured news. It's news that really, at the end of the day, isn't newsworthy to a great many people. Why do I say it isn't newsworthy? Because it has no practical bearing on the daily lives of the people in question. It's a dramatic, time-filling attention grabber.

An example: back in 2009 there was the wonderful saga of Balloon Boy. Some kid got into his father's homemade balloon and listed through the air for a few hours. Well, not really. It turns out he was just hiding in the parents' garage and it ended up being a great big attention whoring hoax, but every single media source had boots on the ground covering this incredible affair.

Now, Balloon Boy's saga had interest at the outset. I mean, how often does a kid hijack his dad's hot air balloon for a joyride? I ended up following the story, but I and many others had my reservations about what was actually happening. The media, though, was 101% sure this balloon held this kid and omigod it's getting close to the ground and police have set up a perimeter....And what do you know? No kid. Huh. But everyone was positive—positive—that little Falcon Heene was inside. Why? Because that's what the talking heads had told us was the case.

Once the balloon had landed and the child was discovered not to have been aboard and was in fact safe and sound at home, what then? Well, the parents had to give a statement. They had to go on news talk shows. They had to milk their fifteen minutes of fame for all they were worth. And the American media loved every minute because the American people were hooked. Instead of covering real news (for example, the debacle which passed for debate over the Obama health bill), they could devote their attention to a feeding frenzy of not-news.

So, here we go (and this is where I'll probably piss off more than a few people). The exact same thing happened with Casey Anthony. Yes, her daughter was found dead. Tragic. And the mother was accused of killing her? Depicable!

But let me pose this question, dear reader: How many two year olds die every day across the world? Or to make the question fairer: how many die in the U.S. every day? Narrowing it further: how many suffer deaths of neglect or violent malice aforethought inflicted by their parents? Surely it is more than one. Why is Casey Anthony worthy of this media attention when tens(?), dozens(?), hundreds(???) of these incidents remain anonymous and unreported?

Here's my cynical answer: Because the mother is an attractive white woman being the victim of a horrible tragedy before the tale morphed into one of an attractive white woman being the perpetrator of atrocity.

So very many people (including, in a delicious bit of irony, Kim Kardashian) have expressed shock and outrage at the jury's ruling on this case. But step back for one second. From where has everyone's information on the subject come? And what would be the most lucrative course of action for the source to pursue? And whose interests are REALLY being furthered?

Again, I'm not trying to demean the opinions of those who feel Casey Anthony should burn eternally in hellish agony as burning hooks of obsidian are used to flay every square inch of her damned flesh. But everyone would do well to consider the motivations of those who do anything for others' supposed benefit. The news people weren't being altruistic and objective in their coverage of this case. Hell, I'm not being altruistic and objective in my discussion of the news peoples' coverage of this case. If you, dear reader, are scoffing at my words for being loaded and having an ulterior motive behind them, I only ask that you look at the logic driving your decision regarding my reporting and to apply it impartially.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Traffic Snarl

It's a beautiful Friday afternoon. Sun shining, faint breeze. The perfect summer day. Overall, quite fitting for the date on which the annual Fourth of July Parade Slash Party in Fernando's municipality takes place.

Since Fernando's Dominion is located right on a major highway, the parade in question passes directly in front of the store. This allows Fernando to sit in comfortable air conditioning and look out upon the parade while other people deal with the weather.

What is less exciting is the parking situation. The Dominion has immediately before it a small street which runs parallel to the main highway. Customers generally park in a neat fashion while patronizing the store: pulling up parallel to the curb on either side until the distance to the front door grows too far to conveniently walk (about two car lengths, less in the winter), at which point they begin parking perpendicular to the building on the other side, in front of Fernando's large office windows.

On Fourth of July Parade Day, though, all attention to sensible parking goes out the window. The chaos that is the average Wal-Mart parking lot has nothing on Fernando Street. People pull in from either end of the street; some park parallel while others K- or Y-turn themselves into a perpendicular position; others just jam in at any old acute angle. Queerly enough, the spot directly in front of the store where people generally park when the road is full remains free of obstruction.

Of course, pulling in is easy. Cars generally filter in one at a time to their final, desired location and orientation. But when the parade ends and everyone wants out....well, bedlam ensues. The people who parallel parked can't move because the ones who parked perpendicular are backing out but then someone who had already begun driving along the street comes along and the person must pull back in...or rush out in disregard of his own safety, causing that other person to slam on the brakes, thereby stymieing the motorized lurch to freedom of an entirely separate batch of people caught in their own traffic tangle.

An apt microcosm of life.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Glorious Oldening

Though the Dominion is a place of dread and outrage most times, on rare occasions it relents in its torturing of Fernando and allows for merriment and joy.

Well, sort of.

Fernando scheduled a celebration in honor of New Release Tuesday because what isn't worth celebrating about Sucker Punch? That it was his birthday was complete arbitrary coincidence.

And there were guests! Many guests had RSVP'd and food had been prepared, but some of those guests brought some other guests and in the end there was a shortage of everything from cake to chairs. But no matter! Many fine things occurred that evening and Fernando cannot possibly recount all of them, so he shall cover three highlights:

First, Fernando was in a discussion with some of his compatriots about music when one of Fernando's guests mentions Linkin Park. His attention peels from the current topic and he says, “Linkin Park? You realize, right, that they were popular when I was in high school?”

Are you dissing Linkin Park?” asks a guest, who is a young lady that enjoys Linkin Park's discography.

Well, I'm just saying that Linkin Park's relevance now is like Dexy's Midnight Runners' relevance when I was in high school. Besides, Linkin Park is all about being angry and sad, but they're like forty now.”

You're dissing Linkin Park!” accuses the guest's friend, who is also a young lady.

Fernando shrugs. “I'm calling it like I see it. It's all, 'Craaaaaawling in my skiiiiin, these words I cannot somethingsomething! I am angry and sad, so I will yell about it please buy my CD.'”

The two young ladies at this juncture did the real life equivalent of ragequitting while some of Fernando's other guests cheered and laughed. But according to some of Fernando's more musically aware friends, Linkin Park's music has matured since the early 2000s. So perhaps they are significantly less screamy nowadays and Fernando's broad strokes were in error. However, that which is said cannot be unsaid.

Second, one of Fernando's friends who could not make it to the jamboree bequeathed unto him a most wondrous gift: a copy of Friday! Now he can share that cinematic masterpiece with all the world.

Finally, another of Fernando's guests bequeathed unto him a five ounce bottle of liquid joy labeled “Dave's Insanity Sauce.” The first thing Fernando does? Unscrews the top and shoved a properly coated fingertipful into his mouth.

Hey, this stuff's not too bad,” says Fernando. Then the capsaicin kicks in. “Ghek.”

Your face is turning red,” says one of Fernando's guests.

Yeah, and your eyes are watering,” notes another.

But Fernando, despite his body's instinctual reaction to the sudden arrival of a chemical irritant, is filled with ecstasy. And once the initial “holy crap this is spicy” has passed, Fernando begins consuming it in measured amounts with the delicacies made available at this New Release Tuesday Jamboree. In the end his tongue is bright red and on fire and it is marvelous.

The rolling of bones ensued and death was had, and overall it was a good day. Too bad it only comes once a year.