scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Get on the Bus!

[Ferret is walking down Changshu Lu (常熟路). The sidewalk is all ripped up because the city is building a new subway station beneath his feet. As a result, what sidewalk there is left is rather constricted, making eavesdropping especially easy. A group of day laborers walk next to Ferret, their academic suits and sweaters, hallmark of the Chinese ditchdigger, are all caked in dust and grime. A giant tour bus drives by packed full of elderly retirees of European descent, all of them decked out in rather academic looking sweaters as well, although their sweaters are not so threadbare and still gleam with the effects of five-star hotel laundry detergent. A Ditchdigger next to Ferret has a revelation.]

Ditchdigger

老外!老外!小伙子,看吧!他们一定有钱!老外!

Old whities! Old whities! Hey man, look! They’re definitely rich! Old whities!

[Ferret laughs hysterically. The ditchdiggers are rather bewildered that yes, another whitey is in their midst, a witness to this spectacle of geriatric revelation. Ferret turns off of Changshu Lu, and gets real introspective, soliloquy style:]

Ferret

Why did I just laugh? Because I understood what he said while he gawked? Or because it’s amusing to see the stereotype of white foreigners in China reified? Reify. Damn I love that word. Makes me feel like curling up in one of those academic sweaters myself.

But seriously, Ferret, do I really have a right to laugh? That might have been the first time that guy saw so many old whities at one time. I guess damn, you got to say something, right? I can’t say that I’d say much different.

Of course, the truth deep down is this: Half of me was happy that I understood what he said. Half of me was happy because he wasn’t saying it about me.

posted by ferret at 12:39 am  

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Chat Including Self-Loathing

[Ferret sits down with his old companion, Self-Loathing.]

Ferret

So. It looks like it’s just you and me.

Self-Loathing

Yeah.

Ferret

Do you want something to drink?

Self-Loathing

No, and I’m sure you don’t either.

Ferret

Yeah. I don’t feel like I want to do anything when you are around. Especially write. Everything I write becomes some thinly veiled slight against myself.

Self-Loathing

Yeah, I have that effect on people.

Ferret

Well, that’s awesome. I guess it’s good to know that you make a difference.

Self-Loathing

Believe it or not, I too go home at night and feel worthless. I mean, I’m great at my job, but my job consists in making people feel bad about themselves.

Ferret

Yeah. I can see that. I mean, if you are an exceptional garbage man, you still are going to be knee deep in peoples rotting banana peels and used condoms for the rest of your life.

Self-Loathing

Yeah.

Ferret

So what could you have done? I mean, if you weren’t so busy making people hate themselves.

Self-Loathing

I probably would have gone into the marketing.

Ferret

I could see that. Of course, I wouldn’t feel bad about going into marketing. Most people I know who go into that really don’t feel like they are contributing much either.

Self-Loathing

Yeah, that’s probably my influence. But you see, I would totally work to promote the efforts of good companies or individuals.

Ferret

Face it. There’s no way you could do that even if you tried.

Self-Loathing

You bastard.

Ferret

Fight fire with fire. You know? You’re the one who’s prevented me from feeling good about my writing for so long.

Self-Loathing

So?

Ferret

Listen. I’ve got a question for you.

Self-Loathing

Shoot.

Ferret

If you loathe self-loathing, does that mean you’re able to eradicate it?

Self-Loathing

No. In my expert opinion, it just makes me able to stay longer. A feedback loop. If I find you are raving at yourself in the mirror at 2 in the AM about how you wish you could feel better about yourself, that means I’m doing my job. When you wake up the next day, I’m going to be there.

Ferret

Mmph. Well, how about this: What if I were able to project you onto something somehow, like extricate myself from the way I feel so I could see the reality of my situation. That way I could sort of compartmentalize it and analyze all the stuff you say to me.

Self-Loathing

And how would you do that? By personifying me or something? Hmm… I guess. Whoa. Shit.

Ferret

Got you now, bastard. You’ve been keeping me me from writing a post for almost a month, but I got you.

Self-Loathing

Yeah, but will anyone actually read this? I mean, if you post this and nobody reads it, isn’t that basically the same as you not writing it at all? Besides, nobody likes reading something that is such a downer, anyway. Even though I convinced you that the one about the marketing meeting for www.skeletalduckorgy.com was bullshit, or the oh-so populist rant about income inequality between the Western guy on his laptop and the construction workers all huddled together in a tent. What readers you do have for your meager project in cyberspace will most likely be turned off after reading this.

Ferret

God, I hate you.

posted by ferret at 7:04 pm  

Thursday, March 5, 2009

To Shanghai (一个老外去银行)

There was a time when I would sit by your banks,

In awe at the characters, pronouncing “silvered strings.”

You were a riddle, an ambiguous shape-shifting beast

That stretched and burned for the sky.

I thought that living inside you long enough,

I wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror and utter “old” or “foreign.”

The riddle has been solved. How wrong I was.

posted by ferret at 11:30 am  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Slurping Vinegar (吃醋)

I – THE REAL (well, kind of)

[It's 7 o'clock on a Friday; Ferret and Jack Daniels are trying to get a table at Shanghai's most popular Mexican restaurant, a spectacular hit of burritos, beans and salsa, maker of the most muchos nachos this side of the Pu River, but all for nothing! The owner, Agavecado has some bad news:]

Agavecado

I’m sorry gentleman, but all the tables are reserved.

Jack Daniels

How long is the wait?

Agavecado

Well, I guess around 9 o’clock. Unless you guys want to eat at the bar.

Ferret

You guys are that popular now, eh? Holy mole!

[There is silence as this most terrible of puns works its way into the pores of the poor listeners. (Sorry.) A girl nearby sniggers slightly on a taco. Ferret tries to extricate himself from the situation:]

Ferret

You know, like mole. Like tacos.

Jack Daniels

Sheesh. [to the owner] I’m not sure about the bar thing, but don’t be sorry, man. You must be happy as hell! You’re business is taking off!

Agavecado

Well, thanks, but to tell you the truth, I don’t like the whole reservation thing; it wasn’t my idea.

Ferret

No matter. Next time we’re here, we’ll just have to get a reservation.

Jack Daniels

You should seriously just buy out the coffee shop next door, or something.

Agavecado

Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ve definitely wish I’d arranged something with the Italian restaurant next door. They never use that downstairs at all. I guess it’s supposed to be a bar for people waiting to eat, but they never use it.

Jack Daniels

Not doing so well, eh?

Agavecado

I guess not. It’s funny we used to be such good friends during the construction of the place. They were building their spot at the same time. Now I just see them from time to time standing outside, glaring at the restaurant.

Ferret

Wow. Even out in the cold and everything.

Agavecado

Yeah. So the bar then?

Jack Daniels

I think we’d prefer to sit, so we’ll go somewhere else.

Ferret

Yeah man. Next time!

Agavecado

Sorry again. You fellas have a good night.

II – THE ABSOLUTELY IMAGINARY

[Sweets and Lifey, owners of the Italian restaurant next to Agavecado's sit outside, staring at the busy Mexican restaurant. It's cold, like cryogenically freezing your privates cold. They don't seem to mind. They have a bitter look on their faces as they take turns passing and swigging for a bottle of wine.]

Sweets

This wine is terrible.

Lifey

It’s not wine.

Sweets

Well, what the hell else do you drink from a wine bottle?

Lifey

Well, it used to be wine.

Sweets

What do you mean?

Lifey

I couldn’t afford to buy any new wine.

Sweets

So?

Lifey

So the only wine we have left is the stuff I use to make the vinegar.

Sweets

[contemplates the bottle as he takes a swig]

Man, I must really be drunk.

Lifey

Yeah.

Sweets

Burritos.

Lifey

Who knew.

Sweets

I never thought of that kind of stuff as food, just a bad case of gas.

Lifey

Or indigestion.

Sweets

That taco tucking turd. He’s doing so well…

Lifey

Bean bashing bastard.

Sweets

Nacho nibbling nigger.

Lifey

Tequilla toting twat.

Sweet

I like that one.

Lifey

Yeah. We should add it to the list.

[Lifey pulls out a small notebook from his oh-so-Italian, close-cut sports coat, and adds the name to the list. Sweets looks over his shoulder in delight as he writes it. They notice that Agavecado is looking at them from the door of his restaurant. They smile and wave. Agavecado awkwardly returns it, unsure how to handle the maliciousnes behind their smiles. He walks away from the door.]

Sweets

Mole making motherfucker. Lifey give me the wine.

Lifey

You sure you still want it? I mean, it’s basically vinegar.

Sweets

Fine. Whatever. This bastard’s got me drinking vinegar.

posted by ferret at 7:11 pm  

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Blue AND The Red Pill

I

The Fongs

So check it man. What would happen if, in the Matrix, Neo took the blue pill and the red pill. Like, he didn’t choose. He just snatched both pills out of Morpheus’s hand and just ODed.

Ferret

Isn’t that kind’ve what he does anyway? He leaves the matrix, but retrains some kind of connection to it. Yet, qualitatively there would have to be some difference. I mean, he chooses the red pill, and all the same stuff happens. He’s sort of in the matrix yet not. Built into it if you will.

The Fongs

What if his head just explodes?

Ferret

Like blows up from the sheer technological computer magic?

The Fongs

Yeah. Technological computer magic.

Ferret

Sounds like he’s just stuck on a film set.

II

[Neo sits with Morpheus, decked out in his wrap around sunglasses and a designer trenchcoat. They concludes their vague dialogue of overtures to dreaming and fate, and Morpheus holds out the fateful blue pill and red pill, intoning:]

Morpheus

You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.

[Neo thinks for a moment, quickly graps both pills at the same time and downs them both.]

Neo

[gulping]

Whoa.

Morpheus

What the fuck?

Neo

What?

Morpheus

You’re supposed to choose one or the other. This was a mutually exclusive proposition.

Neo

You didn’t make it clear that I couldn’t have it both ways.

Morpheus

You didn’t think my rabbit hole versus dream thing was good enough? Where didn’t you get that you had to pick one or the other? You’ve totally fucked the scene.

Neo

Scene?

[Morpheus gets up and starts to walk away. Neo suddenly realizes that he's a on a film set, staring at a camera. A man next to the camera, Andy Wachowski (AW), gets up and starts berating him, another man, Larry Wachowski (LW) sits back, keeps motioning like he wants to get a word in edgewise.]

AW

What the fuck are you doing Keanu?

Neo

What? Are you talking to me?

AW

Listen. We didn’t hire you because you are a brilliant method actor, okay? Your body type just worked with the green screens! Why the hell are you fucking up the scene?

LW

If it helps, just pretend you’re doing your role from Speed!

AW

Shut up, Larry!

Neo

What’s happening to me?

AW

Jesus Christ! Were you smoking dope before the take again?

LW

Let’s smoke when we’ve wrapped it!

AW

Don’t listen to him. You need to focus, okay!

Morpheus

Keanu, you’ve got this man. Just remember to choose the red pill next time. Andy. Larry. I’m gonna take a break, okay?

AW

That’s fine Lawrence. Take a break. You too Keanu. Go get some air. This method acting shit isn’t you, man. Just stick to what you know. Think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

LW

Or Speed!

AW

Yeah. Or Speed.

Neo

Okay. Okay.

[Neo pretends to understand what is happening to him, but he's really lost. He has no idea how he suddenly became somebody named Keanu. As he walks out Morpheus chats him up a little bit. He's different now. He's become some guy named Lawrence.]

Morpheus

Stay professional okay, man? No need to rewrite anything. Don’t go overboard on the method stuff man. Take that shit to your acting class, alright? Andy and Larry have got a sweet script, don’t they?

Neo

Yeah. It’s sweet.

Morpheus

I can’t wait until we film the fight scene. Are you as sore from all the kung fu training as I am?

Neo

Um. Yeah, I’m sore.

[They walk outside of the soundstage door into the LA sun. Morpheus says goodbye, walking off with a scantily clad blond, and Neo looks around the studio, bewildered.]

III

[Neo wanders around the backlots of a studio. A Bikinied Girl getting chatted up by some Random Douche winks at Neo.]

Bikinied Girl

Hey babe! Haven’t seen you in a while!

Neo

Yeah. Right. Um. Hello.

Random Douche

Keep walking buddy. You’ve already stuck this one.

Bikinied Girl

[half-perturbed]

Hey!

Neo

What? I did?

Bikinied Girl

Wait you don’t even remember how you we met at yoga class? How your the sight of you in the lotus position got me so wet? And it wasn’t because it was over 110 degrees in the room!

Neo

Yoga? I like computers.

Random Douche

Listen, dick. Fuck off! You may think because you were in some movies that you can just stick any girl you want and then pretend to forget them. I’m the one sticking it to this bimbo now.

Neo

Um. Okay.

[Still utterly confused, and now threatened, Neo wanders away as the Bikinied Girl smooches the Random Douche:]

Bikinied Girl

That was amazing. You really love me.

Random Douche

That’s right. I love your body, baby.

Bikinied Girl

Close enough.

[As Neo continues to wander, he starts soliloquizing.]

Neo

[as strained as possible, like somebody force fed him the lines]

What’s going on with me? What’s happening? This is so strange. I feel like taking both the red pill and the blue pill has resulted in a strange melding of states. Perhaps Shakespeare had point when he said that “All the world’s a stage,” precursor to the existential revelation of selflessness, or anti-ego, that it was, that the self is just a set of chosen roles. The only thing is that these rolls aren’t chosen for me. I’ve woken up to the reality that I am just a bundle of different me’s, but I have no control now over who they are. I took both pills. I still am part of a continual set of illusions, masks, roles.  Yet despite the continual change, there’s still a part of me that lasts through all of this.  This thing that allows me to say, that I’m still Neo, and I haven’t necessarily chosen these roles, they’ve chosen me. Whoa!

[Neo looks up to see that he's yet again on a camera with Ferret and The Fongs standing behind it, arms folded intently.]

Neo

Who the fuck are you?

Ferret

That was a great Neo. Hold on a second. So Fongs, do you see what it would be like to be truly stuck in a world of reality and illusion at the same time? Occupying the role of the fantasy world and the world of reality at the same time? I mean, don’t you think it would really be just like Zizek says in A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, film artistry at its purest, the fantasy projected onto reality, which is in some sense reality.

The Fongs

So like you being somehow able to direct a new version of The Matrix?

Ferret

Yeah.

The Fongs

I don’t get it.

Neo

Neither do I.

Ferret

God dammit.

posted by ferret at 7:13 pm  

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