Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fernando's Adventure, Part 3

So, our intrepid duo has arrived at the hotel. While it is not nearly as nice as the Albuquerque Holiday Inn in that one could not eat one's soup right out of the ashtrays, if one wanna (it's okay, they're clean!), it was still quite the nice place. Fernando approached the Hispanic gent behind the counter and informed him that they had a room reservation here for the convention. Attaining this room had been a fluke of great luck, for when Fernando called to make the reservation arrangements some weeks prior, he was informed that this was the final room set aside for convention-goers. The normal ritual in which Fernando's identity was verified occurred and before long the pair came into temporary possession of two snazzy swipe keycards which had been synched to Room 158. This room lay on the absolute farthest end of the hotel, away from any other meaningful part of the hotel except for a room with an ice machine and overpriced vending snacks and drinks.

Then the unpacking! Fernando had whipped up a couple of bottles of his homemade ginger ale to take along on the trip, on the vanishingly rare chance that interpersonal contact would be established with fellow con-goers and something resembling what in normal person circles is called a “party” developed. Even if not, well, these drinks could be enjoyed in private, using some super-classy plastic wine cups that Ronaldo has dug up from somewhere. The ginger ale was placed upon the nice desk, backpacks and suitcases were brought in and tossed into the corner, and the first order of business was to check out the television selection. The hotel had HBO, and HBO has Game of Thrones. Huzzah!

Two problems, though: first, the remote control was absent and, second, the television switched on to The Weather Channel, which lay on channel 47 as compared to HBO's 4. “Pish to that,” says Fernando, who monkeys around on the television while Ronaldo scours every crevice of the room for the vanished remote. No remote, but it turns out that the nightstand's drawer, which contained Obligatory Gideons' Bible, kind of...imploded when the drawer was pulled out. I mean this literally. The drawer just spilled out onto the floor when it was opened. Meanwhile, Fernando places his finger on the up-channel button on the nice Samsung flatscreen and waits.

And waits and waits and waits. A five-second delay between channel switches gets to be very boring. Then, once Fernando hit the mid-70s, he became trapped in the Time Void. Every channel was an identical blank black screen, with no way of knowing where exactly he was and no sign that the channels were actually changing. Fernando might have gone back, but he didn't know what “back” entailed or how long he would be rooted on this spot, finger dumbly depressing the “>” button.

After about three minutes, Fernando returned to a place which actually could be called a place, only it was the corrupted version of the real world which was public access television. A different nightmare image assailed Fernando's senses every five seconds, creepypasta of the highest caliber. A grainy video of children on a tire swing. Bored-looking men and women sitting in a committee meeting. A yellow-text/blue-background static advertisement for a Little League fundraiser (Bring the whole family!). Church social, white on black. A low-budget children's puppet show. A fisherman gutting a perch. An infomercial for boots that can power an mp3 player using body heat. Another grainy video, this one of an elementary school play. Then more black, a seemingly endless spiraling abyss bereft of hope or warmth or love as Fernando left even the dubious comfort of that twisted reality behind him.

It took another two minutes for Fernando to come ashore on ABC, and then it turned out that the channel which claimed to be HBO was showing golf. If that does not sum up Fernando's life, he's not sure what else can.

This was not all which came to pass on that day. The first panel began at 1 PM, one which was of personal interest to Fernando and which dealt with the pricing on e-books, seeing as he has one of those sorts of things in the works (Oh, yeah, FYI to those interested: all that's really left is finishing and integrating the artwork. Gods willing, it'll be ready by the end of May). Arguments for and against the $.99 model were put forth, and the panelists argued, and much disdain was heaped upon “real” publishers who priced their e-books the same as their print books (or in some cases, in defiance of everything which is sensible, even higher). Fernando rates that panel an 8/10.

A lull in the action, seeing as all the upcoming panels were on silly things like LARPing or being a werewolf (the odds of it being for purposes of a White Wolf game or in real life is, honestly, 50/50 given the crowd), allowed for Fernando and Ronaldo to wander the hotel. Keep in mind that by this point Fernando had gone forty-some hours without sleep. Fernando and Ronaldo were wandering the second-story hallway when Fernando made a point of avoiding stepping on a carpet decoration, a beige whorl.

Ronaldo chuckled and asked, “What was that all about?”

Fernando said, “I didn't want to step on the mouse's tail.”

“W-what? That is not a mouse!”

“The...the carpet is...that's a mouse tail!”

“Dude, you seriously need to get some sleep.” But Fernando would not heed Ronaldo's words, and their adventures continued. They found a plate in a stairwell upon which rested a half-eaten seafood dinner. A couple of pieces of cooked shrimp lay among used napkins and silverware. This fact becomes important a short while later.

Come 3 PM the dealers' room finally opened, so the pair investigated it on the off chance that someone would have a near-mint, first-edition printing of Tomb of Horrors which had been signed by Gary Gygax up for sale for about ten dollars. Fernando and Ronaldo were among the first con-goers to enter and so they had their pick of the litters, not that there were many litters to be had. Chain-mail ties for $60, pocketwatches for $45, a ginormous bin of dice. One of the book dealers had just finished setting out his wares so these were perused, and the man struck up a conversation as Ronaldo idly browsed the man's copy of the 1E Fiend Folio. “You know, my favorite monsters from that book were the ones that looked like an undead but actually weren't.”

“I think you're talking about pseudoundead,” says Fernando. “Those were in MM2 I think.”

“Might've been. You guys see anything you like?” The gent was affable and he did have a copy of Deities and Demigods (sadly, not the printing which included the Cthulhu or Elric Mythoses [Mythosii? Mythosesses?]) which Fernando snagged for slightly less than most prices online, and the pair picked up one of the so-called “2.5E” Player's Option books, the one that had the Warhammer Fantasy-esque critical hit tables. The total came to $25, which was quite the reasonable steal. While Fernando was at another panel the following day, Ronaldo returned to that man and they shot the breeze for close to an hour. Fernando does not know many of the details, other than a woman advertising her services as a dominatrix propositioned Ronaldo in the middle of this conversation, and the two men just kind of stopped talking and looked at her in disbelief.

At this point a pair of panels which Fernando wished to attend came up, so he separated and went his own way. The first was on apocalyptic literature and the role eschatology plays in science-fiction and fantasy. Most attention was given to the earth-shattering kaboom sorts in preference over the more metaphorical “humanity is fucked” short stories and books like 1984, Brave New World, or “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” which Fernando prefers. An interesting highlight occurred when a gentleman in the audience took a cell phone call and was asked to leave by one of the panelists because his awareness of social norms proved lacking. Nerd-rage couldn't begin to describe it. Kudos to Panelist Guy for handling the situation with aplomb laced with incredibly dry sarcasm. Fernando has much to learn. That panel was a 9/10.

The following panel...ugh just ugh. Ostensibly it was to be on the role, treatment, and portrayal of women in nerdish fandom. What it ended up being was a giant clusterfuck.

Fernando considers himself something of a feminist. He's not perfect and all-too-often he says or does things that are inherently misogynistic because, well, he has never been and probably will never be a woman, so he has never experienced the world in the way that women do. He still tries.

The topic of “nerd girls” came up, and how most “mainstream” (read: non-nerd) men are intimidated or turned off by them or whatever, and how they are vile and despicable people for this decision. The whole affair had begun to sound a bit like a stereotypical groupthink session and Fernando needed to stop it. Fernando brought up the incident which made its rounds about a year before about the lady who went on a date with the world Magic: the Gathering champ and ended up dumping him precisely because he played Magic, and how pretty much the entirety of the nerd world piled onto this poor woman. Google it yourself if you want more specifics. Anyway, the point Fernando was trying to make was that it is unfair and elitist for nerds to decry non-nerds if nerdish things were a dealbreaker in a relationship, regardless of the sexes involved. Fernando thinks it's a silly criterion, but then again many MANY people think Fernando's unwillingness to date smokers is likewise insane. “Respect their decisions, even if you don't agree with them, is all,” said Fernando.

And oh boy. One enterprising gentleman in the audience missed the point entirely, and the world started imploding and the poor M:tG woman served as a scapegoat once again. The moderators did nothing about it, so Fernando stepped up and pointed out that this was precisely the sort of behavior that gives a misogynist taint to nerdish fandom. Then, because that's what he does best, Fernando stoked the fires and said something which he's still not sure if he regrets: “Even so-called 'favorable' portrayals of women in things which pander to geeks and nerds are biased and unfair. Look at how just about every female character in video games or artwork wears less and has a better body than a stripper. Look at things like The Big Bang Theory, where the females on that show are purposefully kept distinct and separate and ignorant of 'male' (hell yes Fernando used air-quotes here) areas.”

Quoth Pointless Guy: “It's a comedy show, it's not meant to be taken seriously.”

“I mean, but it is. It's a reflection of our society and culture. The humor is that these women don't get these things, as though they're somehow incapable of grasping physics or D&D or what have you, or have a harder time of it than your average male nerd.”

“Yeah, but it's not offensive. It's meant to be a joke.”

“And why is that?”

“I don't know. Because it's funny.”

“And why is that funny?”

“Because we evolved that way.”

Kali's tits, but did Fernando have a lot—A LOT—to unload in response to that. But sadly, this is when the moderators of the panel told Fernando that his argument was “unproductive” and “off-topic” and completely switched gears about how nerdery allows for “female empowerment,” whatever in fuck that was supposed to mean. This was never really elaborated on, and most of the rest of the panel was comprised of anecdotes (three women and a guy, and the guy had the foresight to stay quiet through pretty much everything) about how things were hunky-dory. FFS, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.” One of them, by the way, a pre-law student (undergrad in physics) who said that she had become much more aware of systemic discrimination in society overall by dint of being a woman in law school, but that it was absent in her experiences with nerd culture.

3/10 for that panel because nobody had gained any insights by the end of it. Well, except the fact that the world believed Fernando was a dick who loved pointless argumentation (well, he is, but in this particular case he was trying to make a valid point).

At this juncture Alfonso joined the adventures, but that is a tale for another time.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fernando's Adventure, Part II

Departure was a little after 6:30 AM local time. Ronaldo and Fernando stopped at the gas station next door to the Dominion to procure caffeinated sustenance for part of the journey, and they gambled by partaking of the cappuccino machine. As is well known, gas station cappuccino is either delicious or a pale, watery mess of froth and blandness. The Travel Gods had mercy on this day, for the French vanilla-flavored sugary treat was of near-optimal quality.

And they were off! They passed through Zail-Kanzin and went beyond, to places far out of Fernando's usual reach, for he is chained to the Dominion and this greatly limits the number of fun things he can do in life. Mother Nature provided them with just the right amount of obstruction; if the trip were too easy, it would not be worthwhile and no tales could be spun regarding it. If the weather proved disruptive to travel, well, that would put a right splendid kibosh on everything, wouldn't it? A balance was struck, so the pair traveled in a dingy drizzle for most of the day.

Time passed and the pair pulled off for breakfast just south of the great metropolis of Verdant Cove. It was a little after 8 by now, and it was agreed that Hardee's breakfast would hit the spot just fine. Sausage and egg biscuit sandwiches were had, as was more coffee which, sadly, tasted like and reacted as molten garbage once it entered Fernando's digestive tract. It so offended Fernando's refined coffee palate that he disposed of his cup in its entirety after a paltry two sips. Those two sips lingered within Fernando's bowels, though, and they inflicted much torment upon our hero over the course of the next half-day.

Their next stop was in Redstone, at a gas station which carried a fine assortment of knick-knacks and bumper stickers with such endearing and insightful turns of phrase as “RECESSION: When you lose your job. DEPRESSION: When your friends lose their job. RECOVERY: When Obama loses his job.” Not wanting to risk another bad coffee experience, Fernando instead opted for the 99% safe option of Gas Station Hot Chocolate, one of humanity's greatest achievements. Not long afterwards, Fernando was able to take in a curious art exhibit which had been erected in a field just off the road. A porcelain toilet rested on the ground. Affixed to it was a sign reading “RECALL PETITIONS GO HERE.” A number of cows stood in the field as well, minding their own business.


Next, Fernando and Ronaldo found themselves embroiled in a turf war. You see, two great Houses, Perkins and Culvers, vied for dominance over a swatch of land. Everything to the north and east contained an abundance of Perkinses, whereas the Culvers controlled the lands to the south and west. The one was absent where the other stood, until the travelers came upon the massive city of Muskrat Blessing, a place which had a boundless number of exits which led to assorted districts within the booming city. It was in this war-torn place that Perkins and Culvers fought their battles, as blue placards had been erected which bore the crests of both organizations. Fernando and Ronaldo hurried through, as they did not want to be sucked into a conflict in which they had no stake.

Then, lo! They came upon Monitor, the city which was their destination! Ronaldo weaved through the traffic, taking the secret pathways as had been described to them by their guide, the venerable Google. Another source of guidance, a bodiless woman-spirit named Gertrude Pauline Samson, was ignored, and with good reason, for she was wrong. On the last day of the adventure, our heroes would turn to her assistance in uncovering the Misty Mountain, and her nurtured spite would strike back in full force, but this part of the tale lies yet ahead.

What did Ronaldo and Fernando discuss during the hours-long drive? Many things under the sun: Chinese food, their D&D campaign, the tittering excitement at basking in the presence of Mr. Kovalic, people who drive slower than most traffic on the two-lane but who inexplicably speed up enough so as to be rendered unable to be passed come a four-lane stretch, the insane abundance of exits for Muskrat Blessing, the aforementioned turf war between the two factions. The Culvers at one point made a fine attempt at gaining chelonian sympathies, for one of their fortresses proudly displayed “TURTLE” outside, and our heroes made merry at this opaque statement. Did they possess the sole example of all turtles in the immediate area? Was this meant to mock the Perkins, from whom the reptile in question had been wrested? These mysteries remained unanswered to Fernando and Ronaldo, for they did not wish to pry into affairs which did not impact them.

With Google's help, the pair arrived at their place of lodging and the location of the convention. Room check-in proceeded smoothly, but it soon became evident that troubles were afoot, but the coming setbacks could not undo the forthcoming splendors which caressed them at every turn.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fernando's Adventure

A sign appeared in the Dominion's window one day in early April, and a scaled-down version of this sign also appeared in local advertisers. People gazed upon it and despair bloomed in the pits of their stomachs. It upset the delicate balance of daily life in the lands which the Dominion served. Fernando's customers expressed concern and curiosity regarding the words written upon the sign, and more than once wondered if life would ever be the same for them.

The sign read: “The Dominion of Movies will be closed from April 20th to April 22nd. Normal business hours will resume on the 23rd.”

Such a thing was unheard of to the populace, for the Dominion never closed. Fernando's presence behind the counter and his obligation to provide movie entertainment to (nearly) all who entered was something that had been taken for granted, an immutable fact of life much like the sunrise or the inevitable destruction of personal property. After all, this was the first time in three years Fernando would have time off from the store on a day that was not a giant holiday, and even in those cases Fernando kept open for at least part of the business day. A three-day vacation at the end of April? Unheard of.

Of course, the particular dates Fernando was taking off resulted in a few of Fernando's customers annoyingly making not-very-witty comments which led to conversations that really just bugged the shit out of Fernando.

“Hey, Fernie, I see you're taking off 4/20. Never would've figured you were one to light 'em up.”

“Er. Not really.”

“You do know what 4/20 means, right?”

And here I thought there was only an arbitrary significance to that particular date. Deep thoughts with potheads.”

Naturally, stoner culture wasn't the only source of potential d'ho-ho-ho. Two other people came in and started off conversations in a roughly similar way:

“Taking off 4/20, hey? Where're you headed?”

Fernando had no real desire to share his travel plans with most of his customer base, so he answered these two men with oblique deflection. “I have obligations out of town.”

In the first case, the conversation then progressed: “Heading to a Klan rally, huh?”

“Not really. I don't see what that has to do with the twentieth of April.”

“Hitler's birthday, man. I thought you were German.”

Right. Because when I hear 'Ku Klux Klan rally' I immediately think, 'Oh, that fits in so well with my cultural heritage and personal ideology.'”

“Hitler killed the Jews though.”

Right. Because, again, my personal ideology and cultural heritage demand that I venerate one of history's greatest jackasses. It's like Germany was the only country, ever, to have made horrible decisions and done impossibly stupid shit.”

“Man, it was just a joke.”

“Not a very good one.”

In the second case, the man next said, “You know that's Hitler's birthday, right.”

“Yes. It's also George Takei's birthday. I far prefer the latter to the former.”

“I just wanted to be sure you knew because I know that you're part German so people might try to make things awkward for you.”

“That's a self-fulfilling prophecy at its finest.”

The customer, who was not one of Fernando's brightest, looked at him in confusion for a moment, realized he had no idea what Fernando had just said, and then changed the subject to Pirates of the Caribbean.

A few (far too few) of Fernando's customers approached him and asked variations on, “So, why are you closing up over the weekend?”

Fernando answered these blunt souls honestly. “I'm heading down to Madison to attend a convention.”

Some of the customers looked at Fernando strangely or with disapproval, but in all fairness they should expect such horrible and nerdy things from him. Others said words like, “Oh, that should be fun!” or, “Well, you deserve a little break.” On exactly two occasions the person than asked, “What kind of convention?”

“It's a sci-fi con, well, mostly sci-fi. We're heading down there pretty much only because John Kovalic will be there.”


He does the art for Munchkin and produces Dork Tower. It's a comic series about nerdish things like gaming and...gaming.”

Unfortunately, this explanation didn't help clarify things any, but the people in question responded with aplomb. “Well, I hope you have a great time!”

The night of the 19th came and Fernando should have slept. He was traveling southward in the company of Ronaldo, and the pair had planned on getting a very early start on things by leaving at 6:30 or thereabouts. Instead Fernando found himself unable to drift away. He passed the time by playing League of Legends or Majesty. At around 5:30 AM on the 20th, Fernando received a text message from Ronaldo: “Hey, are you up?”

“Absolutely I am,” Fernando responds. “You want to come over and have some coffee before we head out?”

“Sure. I'll be right there.”

The journey was about to begin.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stop 'n' Swap

The phone rings about an hour and a half before opening one day. Fernando sees an unfamiliar name on the caller ID and picks it up anyhow. He acted strangely on this day, indeed. "Hello, Dominion of Movies."

"Yeah, do you have movies there?"

Fernando resists the urge to sigh in frustration. "Er...yes, yes I do."

"What kind?" Please don't be a pornseeker, please don't be a pornseeker....

"Most kinds. If you're looking for one in particular let me know and I can track it down and see if I have it or not."

"No, I mean like DVDs or tapes or what."

"Oh. Mostly DVDs. I've got some VHS here yet but I've been trying to get rid of them for years now."

"I see. Because I have boxes of old movies and I was wondering if you do trades."

"Well, depending on what they are and how they look I offer store credit."

"No, I mean like if I bring two down, can I take another one out?"

"Er. That would depend, like I said, on how much credit your trades are worth. Rentals are $3.50 for new releases."

"No, you don't understand. I would give you two of my movies and then I get to keep one of yours. Just like a swap, except you get two movies out of it this way. Other places do it like that."

Fernando doesn't understand? "If your two movies were worth however much in credit, then, sure that would work out. But it would depend, as I said, on which titles and which condition. I am generally of the opinion it is a bad idea to trade a new, niceish resale for battered copies of Austin Powers and Deep Impact that would sit here and take up space for the next decade."

"Oh. Well, I'll come down there and check things out."

"You are more than welcome." The other person hangs up, but no customers unknown to Fernando come down to investigate how the Dominion is inventoried.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Moon Tongue

A guy comes into the Dominion and asks for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He appends a caveat to his request, however: "Yeah, I heard this thing is in a crazy language. Is it? Cuz I don't want to have to read anything."

Mmm-hmm. "Well, if by 'crazy language' you mean 'anything that isn't English,' then no, it is not in any crazy language. Well, I mean, it is, since after all this is English we're talking about, but it is a crazy language with which you have a certain amount of facility."

The man looks at Fernando for a second, then says, "Wait. So it's not in English?"

I just...

I don't know anymore.

Friday, April 13, 2012

So About April 12th....

Fernando missed an update. It was the first case of schedule slip in history.

Fernando has a reason for this, not that it excuses anything. See, Fernando was on the internet browsing Fark one morning, we'll call the day in question April 12th, when his computer just sort of...quit. BOOM--instant transition from Fark comments thread to blank screen. Lady Luck had decided to pay Fernando a visit, it seems.

"Shit," said Fernando. He contacted his brother Alfonso posthaste. "Yeah, so, my computer stopped."


"Yeah, it's dead."

"Hang on. I'll check it out later."

Alfonso did, and he shook his head from side to side and had many words of chastisement for our hero. "Your video card is shot. Well, either that or the cable for your monitor. How old is that thing anyway?"

"I dunno. I think it's existed since like 2003 or '04. That's when the old tower came to be."

"What do you want to do?"

Fernando ponders for a moment. "How much are new computers? And not crappy ones?"

The following day, which happens to be Friday the 13th, Alfonso and Fernando sojourn to Bronze Pile and the Wal-Mart which exists there. Alfonso once worked in the electronics section there and he maintained contact with many of his old co-workers. Fernando stood nearby with a thumb up his ass as Alfonso and Co-Worker Jim discussed computer hardware and whatever, trying to come to a consensus as to which arrangement of packaging would provide the most bang for Fernando's buck.

In the end it was decided that Fernando pick up an Acer tower/monitor bundle. This purchase set him back a number of hundred of dollars, but Fernando was more than okay with it. A computer is necessary to the maintenance of the Dominion and it was way, way nicer than the barebones abomination that just died on him. As an added bonus, Fernando's monitor damn near doubled in size.

Then the brothers went to Burger King and it was the best Burger King experience ever for a great number of reasons, but the one which stood foremost was the discovery of Orange Rockslide, a delightful carbonated sugar-water concoction half of root beer and half of orange Hi-C which came into being only because Fernando had filled his cup halfway with orange sugar-water before Alfonso said to him, "You know they have Barq's, right?"

Pretty sweet day. Fernando is going to fire up LoL on it after work and see if it runs with the graphics setting set to something other than their absolute worst.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Codename: Adult Stuff

A guy who looks like a frat boy circa Fernando's tenure at college comes into the store one day. He's got it all: polo shirt, wrap-around sunglasses, blonde highlights. Fernando had never seen him before.

Hello,” Fernando greets him.

The guy seems surprised to find Fernando sitting at his desk behind the counter. “Oh, hey man.” He leans in conspiratorially. “Listen, you got any adult stuff for sale here?”

Fernando can play the sneaky-sneak game. “No, sorry to say,” he says in a low voice.

Shit. You know where I could get some?”

Family Video might have some, if you care to drive half an hour in any direction. If not, there's the adult bookstore up in Inuitland. Else the internet exists. It's sort of ubiquitous on there.”

Alright. Cheers, man.” The stranger departs.

Hopefully the guy wasn't speaking in cryptograms about something considerably more nefarious than spank material.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Round Three: Fight!

Fernando was helping a customer when the phone rang. Since he couldn't very well ditch to check the caller ID, he scoops the phone from its cradle. “Hello, Dominion of Movies.”
Yes, is this Fern?” It is a woman's voice, the kind of woman's voice which is heard in stereotypical noir scenes, sultry and ephemeral like wisps of jasmine-scented incense floating in a dimly lit room.
May I ask who is calling?”
This is Kuwait, calling from Turtlefoot Enterprises. We just thought we'd call and check in with you to see how things are going. Business is doing alright?”
Ah, Turtlefoot Enterprises. It had been nearly a year since Fernando had last bandied with them, but the contact-person at the time had been Supreme Salesman Kevin. Mild curiosity piqued as to why Fernando spoke with a sexy-voiced woman, but he was not so curious as to be baited into a conversation he didn't want to have. “Things are well enough. I shan't complain.”
Well, good. That's good. The weather has been alright there?”
The weather has been unseasonal here,” replies Fernando. “But, listen, I don't want to take up any more of your time. You still aren't a fit for me, so I'm still uninterested.”
Oh, I understand. Well, if you change your mind you've got my number and you can give me a call most any time and I'd be glad to help.” Kuwait says this with a throaty chuckle.
Excellent. Good day.” Fernando hangs up.
Who was that?” asks the customer, one of Fernando's regulars.
People trying to sell me something using a fun new tactic. Unfortunately for them, I had my emotional centers surgically removed so I am unaffected by appeals to my baser instincts.”
And so the communications freeze between the Dominion and Turtlefoot Enterprises resumed, only for it to break some time later like two horribly compatible people who only tolerate one another for the occasional sex-romp.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Movie With the Marketing Failure

So, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Lots of people have been gushing over it because sexy crime thrillers are tittivating. Fernando picked up some copies for the store and, rightly enough, made brisk trade.

However, the marketing people must have undertaken ritual lobotomies, since they made the disc look like this:

It was only a matter of time before some brave soul brought the fact that it looks like somebody ripped the movie onto a generic Sony DVD up to Fernando as a shady business proposition.

One afternoon a girl rents the movie and her boyfriend returns it the next day. “Thank you much,” says Fernando when he enters to drop it off.

I never knew you guys ripped movies. How much do you charge for it?”

I...what? No, no, see, that would be a bad idea because, one, it's illegal; and, two, it would lessen what income I'd earn because nobody would rent the damn movies.”

What? Really? Because this disc is definitely not a real DVD.”

I'd imagine Sony-brand blank discs are available to most publishing companies and it would not surprise me that many movies are embedded onto them, just that the logo or image or whatever for the movie is question is airbrushed or painted on the disc's surface.”

Oh.” At this point the gent switches tactics. “Well, this one didn't work in my player so I was wondering if we could, like, get a free rental or something.”

Fernando strides over to his DVD player and pops the disc right in. He does not turn on the television, not yet. “What didn't work about it?”

Oh, you know, it just said 'no disc.'”

Curious.” Fernando flips on the TV and notices that the title screen, bright and cheery, has appeared. “It seems to be working for me.” He peers at his shelves. “Unfortunately I don't have any other copies in right now, else I'd let you have one of those to see if that might work out better for you. But you're more than welcome to give this one another go for tonight to see if it works better for you.”

Um, no, no, that's okay. Um, so, yeah, if you wanted to maybe just, uh, put a credit down or something, if that's okay, we can come in another time.” He hightails it out of the store before Fernando could respond.

Fernando smiles after him. “I'll see what I can do.” He replaces the movie on the shelf, puts the tag back out on the floor, and it is rented later that evening to no complaint.