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.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Socratic Methods

Fernando is enjoying a splendid dinner one evening when a large group of schoolkids enters the store, led by the son of one of Fernando's regulars. All of them are carrying cups of sodey pop from the nearby gas station and some of them have candy bars they munch upon. One of the members of this gaggle who lacks such solid sustenance sniffs audibly. “What're you eating there?” he asks.

Asopao de pollo,” Fernando responds after clearing his mouth of food.

Asa-what-what?” the lad repeats.

Asopao de pollo. It's a Puerto Rican chicken dish with rice, hot peppers, tomatoes, oregano, and paprika. Quite delectable.”

It smells good.”

It is good. How can I help you gents tonight?”

The young man Fernando recognizes pipes up. “What's a good funny movie?”

Fernando rises from his seat and marches to the comedy section, the boys trailing him. “That depends on what you personally find humorous. My opinion on the subject very well could be different from your guys'. Point out a movie you guys have already seen and we'll go from there.”

The group of five breaks into debate for a short while and the film they decide upon at the end as their epitome of comedy is Zombieland.

Is it the zombies that do it for you guys or something unrelated to zombies?”

Fernando is answered with echoed cries of “the zombies.”

Fernando smiles. “Great. Howsabout Shaun of the Dead? Zombies, comedy, Simon Pegg. Pretty fine movie overall.” The five young men agree with Fernando's suggestion, but a small argument breaks out again. Apparently some of their number want a horror movie.

Well, this one's only two bucks. I'm sure you guys could fit another older horror flick in if you split the cost among the five of you. Plus I actually think you've got a free one coming, so you could get another one on top of that if you wanted something else.”

The young men begin gibbering and writhing at this news. “Oh, man! We have like ten bucks!” they shout before splitting up and combing the store for rental tags. Fernando returns to his seat as they haggle among themselves as to which ones they'll be keeping.

They eventually decide to go with “only” four titles. One was free, but it's still all good.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Price Wars

Some older guy Fernando has never seen before pulls up in a beat-up old white sedan. “Hey, guy, you got movies for sale?” he asks.

Yessir I do, on the rack right behind you. Feel free to help yourself,” Fernando answers.

How much are they?”

Eight bucks apiece, or three for twenty.”

Eight bucks? That's too much, guy.”

Well, I do also have a box of movies here for four apiece, but they're all older titles.”

The old guy stumps over to Fernando's Adopt-A-Movie box and paws through it, frowning and muttering to himself. “Eight bucks. Way to high. Ain't paying eight bucks.” The guy looks up and fixes a death glare on Fernando. “Guy, you ain't getting me to buy nothing with those prices.”

I'm sorry to hear that.,” says Fernando. “But I tend not to put effort into changing peoples' minds when they've already made them up. You seem to think my prices are too high and nothing I say or do will change that.”

Sell this to me for four bucks,” says the man, picking up a copy of Battle: Los Angeles.

Fernando raises his eyebrows. “I'm not seeing the potential upside to that.”

I don't want to buy it for eight. I want to buy it for four, like those other ones.”

Those other ones didn't come out less than two months ago. Therein lies difference in pricing.”

Then I ain't buying it!” the man shouts, throwing the case back on the sales rack.

Fernando shrugs. “Alright, then. Have a good day.” He returns to his seat.

The old guy mumbles unflattering things about Fernando for a short while longer before storming out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

That'll Show Him

-Ring ring ring-

Fernando peers at the caller ID, which reads “OUT OF STATE.” This will be fun.

Hello, Dominion of Movies?”

Yeah, I'd like to speak with someone in charge there about your internet and phone service.”

Oh, alright. Well, I'm happy to tell you that I'm rather content with the service I'm receiving regarding those services at the moment, so I'm uncertain there is any service you could offer me regarding the services you seek to provide. So, I bid you a good day--”

Wait! Listen for just one second!”

There is a short, stunned silence. The man on the other attempts to fill it with sales bullshit when Fernando interjects, “Did you just talk over me?”

Sir, I didn't mean--”

Because that's real professional, you know. Your odds of me signing onto your company's services just got even smaller. I am irked, sir, and highly so, to the degree that I retract my earlier statement wishing you a good day.”

Fernando then hangs up while the man on the other end blathers some nonsense words.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On Metaphysical Ontology

Fernando is crabby one evening because a man, a woman, and their shirtless, shoeless offspring, around age 8 or so, are in the store. The children are galumphing about and being generally loud and annoying pains while the parents do everything in their power to avoid controlling their brood. So, typical day at the Dominion.

One of the two children is being especially bothersome in that he pauses in his labors of rambunction to ask Fernando seemingly random questions. Now, Fernando has nothing against ingraining his worldly knowledge upon the eager minds of inquisitive children, but the questions have to at least be good ones. In this case, Fernando's interactions with the chaos spawn are somewhat clipped by his displeasure.

At one juncture the boy looks up at a wall, where a framed Avatar poster looms, quite visible. He shrieks in glee and runs up to Fernando and points over his shoulder and shouts, “WHAT'S THAT?” a poster.”


The kid probably intended the question to be of the “Why is it there?” sort. But Fernando was already vexed and so he took the child's query at face value. “Well, there are actually a number of schools of thought on that one. The most old-school holds that there is some metaphysical ideal, some 'posterness,' that is possessed by all posters which is somehow transferred to our physical world and allows us to recognize posters for what they are. But that old Platonic ideal chestnut requires, as I said, a metaphysical construct of 'posterness' and applying Occam's razor suggests that there is some other--”

By this point the child had wandered off with a rather dazed look on his face. Fernando's droning monologue actually seemed to quell the boy's miscreant leanings for the time being, though his sibling continued to cavort about the store. But Fernando shall take what small wins he can, as they are few and far between.

Plus it was good to get practical use out of those college courses.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unsolved Mysteries

-Ring ring ring-

Hello, Dominion of Movies.”

Yeah, do you have Escanaba in da Moonlight?”

Hang on, let me check....”


Um...hello? Hello?”

She never called back.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mix-and-Match Critter

A couple of people Fernando had never seen before come into the store. The male half is one of those ratty-looking guys who enjoys placing an abundance of metal bits in his head while the female half is one of those Fernando-aged people who nonetheless look far older than their years.

They browse about and eventually decide on Season of the Witch. The guy plucks the tag and brings it to the counter.

This is that one with the ghost-devil-demon-zombie-monster, right?”

Holy 3E added templates, Vecna! “Uh, yes,” answers Fernando, since the man is partially right and Fernando didn't feel like arguing the point. “Can I get your name?”

Bobby Strong.”

Do you have an account here?”

Yeah, I should. Haven't been here in three years or something.”

Fernando takes a gander at his records and, hey, what do you know? “It seems you have some late fees, actually. Nineteen dollars, back from '06. Did you want to pay them off?” I have to?”

Well, you haven't been to the store in five years and you racked up nineteen bucks before. Put down say six bucks and we can trickle the rest out no problem.”

Instead of bitching and getting upset like the usual ornery customer, he puts down ten dollars upon the late fee. Marvelous!

Oh, except for the fact that the movie is now sort of...absent. Shame on you! That's what you get for seeing goodness in people, Fernando H. Stevens!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Language Games

A guy who rented Source Code the previous day returns the film. “I don't know why I rented this thing,” he gripes at Fernando, “I couldn't understand a damn thing and had no idea what's going on. You shouldn't need to know fucking physics to watch a movie.”

Er. Not really sure how this one has much to do with physics, per se. It's more an exploration of the philosophy of mind and philosophy of time, specifically with regards to parallel universes and the ability to influence events in them. Really, though, I don't think one could call a universe 'parallel' to another if it's capable of being influenced, or even really detected. Parallel lines never cross, so neither, strictly speaking, should parallel universes. 'Tangential universes' might be a better term to use in this case.”

This random train of thought Fernando has embarked upon seems to have confused the man. “I don't know why you gotta use those big words! They don't tell me anything! I don't know what you're talking about!”

I don't think the words are that complicated. The concepts underlying them in the particular ways I used them, maybe, but the words themselves are 'Parallel' means what it almost always does. 'Tangential' might be a bit more tricksy because it's not something you run across every day, but even then I think context should make it clear that the word is being used in contrast to 'parallel' and so means something else.”

You could use smaller ones!”

Yeah, I probably could. But that would obfuscate some of the clarity of meaning I strive to get across. You don't use the words 'ran fast' when the word 'sprinted' gets the idea across better and create a more accurate mental picture.”

Whatever, man. Shit's not for me.” And he leaves.

Fernando was just attempting to enlighten the gent on precision in language. It is unfortunate that one might possess the ability to encourage an equine in the direction of an aqueous solution but find oneself bereft of the means to coerce it to partake.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Sunday morning, a man comes to the store and rents a couple of kids' movies. Slip is filled out, he pays, all is well. Fernando still has some of his weekend popcorn in stock and he asks the gent if he would like a bag (or the receipt, but this man is aware of how language works).

Yeah, sure,” says the customer. After a pause, “Could I have two? My son is having a birthday party today and....” He trails off as if embarrassed to conclude his request.

Well, generally you only get the one bag....” begins Fernando, and his words make the man's expression one of disappointment.

...but since popcorn is 'Friday, Saturday, and Sunday long as it lasts,' and I have leftovers, I don't see why I can't get rid of two bags here and now.” And he hands over the two bags to the man whose face lights up like the dawn.

Oh wow, thanks!” says the customer as he goes on his way, visibly enheartened.

Happy birthday, random child I probably don't know!