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.