I’ve been watching Legend of the Seeker a lot lately (short lived series and you must be a nerd like me to even be aware of its existence). One thing I noticed is that whenever there is a questing movie, whether it be in the future, an alternate reality, or some distant dystopian universe, the people all live like they’re in the 1800s.
Then I realized that is because modern technology would ruin any quest before it even started. So I decided to write my own terrible, modern day questing story. Enjoy.
A Questing Story with Modern Day Technology – an Essa Alroc Production
A grey mist rolled in over the empty, smoldering ravine. For as long as Aveylyeen the white mage, could remember, the Ravine of Perpetual Suffering was a place people avoided, rather than chose to gather. Today would be different though, because today, they were meeting to discuss the quest of the Siren Stone; a stone that was said to emit a frequency that would make any army its slave.
All together, there were 4 of them. Aveylyeen the white, mage of knowledge and purity, Reaile the green, mage of nature and endurance and Keddra the red, mage of lust and courage. Only one of their quartet was still missing.
Essa the black, mage of technology and convenient plot twists.
Suddenly, the roar of a powerful dragon could be heard. All three mages turned their attention to the sound. There was Essa the black, pulling her Dodge into a parking spot between the Ravine of Perpetual Suffering and the Waffle House on International Drive.
Essa walked up checking her iPhone. “Yeah, someone texted me about a quest?”
Aveylyeen nodded sagely. “We are to seek out the Siren Stone and destroy it. The stone holds far too much power for one man. Its magic comes with a price that will lead to the end of the world.”
“The only problem is that the stone hasn’t been seen in centuries.” Keddra added on. “Finding it is certain to be an exciting journey filled with much adventure and danger. We will have to search the Forbidden Valley, along the borders of icy snow desserts of Engledale, through the perilous poison bat caves of Angelee and finally, we must sail the treacherous seas of the Ocean of Perdition.”
Reaile nodded in agreement. “Along the way, we will probably run into Lord Aderbane, an evil wizard with an army of minions, who wants the stone all to himself. This is why we must begin our journey to find this stone, right away, before it falls into the wrong hands. The sake of the world rests on our ability to find and destroy the Siren Stone.”
“Found it,” Essa the black responded, from where she was bent over her iPhone. She flipped the phone around so the other mages could see her display. “It was on Ebay. There was someone who was bidding on it too, but I just clicked the “buy it now” option.” She looked up at the bemused group of mages. “Are you guys willing to kick in for overnight deliver?”
Reaile looked down at the ground. “We’re a little short,” she said apologetically.
Essa rolled her eyes. “I figured as much.” She clicked purchase and the Siren Stone was on its way. “Now, about destroying this thing…”
Aveylyeen’s eyes filled with worry. “For that, we will need to use the hottest lava of the Volcano of the Infernos. The journey there will take us through the yellow road of Hepatitis Highway, along the shores of the Rabid Lake, where we must do battle with a powerful dragon to be granted access to the…”
“Couldn’t I just pop this thing in the microwave?” Essa interrupted.
Aveylyeen tilted her head, considering the question. “I suppose that would work too.”
“Cool,” Essa put her cell phone away. “Then I’ll wait for FedEx to deliver the Siren Stone and I’ll stick it in the microwave.”
The other mages looked at each other in confusion. “Should it really be this easy?”
Essa shrugged. “Crisis averted thanks to modern technology. What do you guys want to do with the remaining 180 pages?”
The mages conferred. “Get drunk and play twister.”
“You read my mind.”
I saw a picture of myself recently and I was surprised to see how much weight I had put on. I did all the self denial stuff we all do when we see a picture of ourselves looking chubby.
“I was just bloated.”
“The camera adds ten pounds”
“It was the way I was standing.”
I almost convinced myself all that was true, but then I stepped on the scale. Nope, verifiable fact that I have gained weight. While it’s not a ton, I generally like to cut these things off at the pass. You know, before I turn into one of those giant ladies who has to be cut out of her house so she can appear on a Doctor Phil episode about morbid obesity.
So it’s back to dieting. I love fad diets. I’ve tried everything in the interest of loosing weight quickly. You would be amazed at the things I have put in my mouth (and I’m not just talking Spring Break 2001). I’ve tried shakes, cotton balls, diet pills, diet bars and everything in between. The worst I have tried to date was “The Master Cleanse”
I made it one day. The day starts out by drinking 3 quarts of salt water. It ends with you laying on your bathroom floor, praying for a quick death.
Slim Fast was useless. It was only after the first day that I realized it was just a clever way to starve myself.
You know what I miss is Fen-Phen and Ephedra based diet pills. Now those fucking things got the job done! Swear to god, after I had my kid, I dropped like 80 pounds in a month. The hallucinations were pretty friggen sweet too. Who cares if I can’t use my left arm anymore?
Unfortunately, as I don’t have access to heart damaging stimulants, I will have to do this the old fashioned way.
Switch from beer to weed and start going to the gym.
You ever been on a treadmill stoned? It really is a mind altering experience. After a few minutes on the thing, you start philosophizing about how it’s really a metaphor for the way the world works. How we all think we’re constantly moving, but we never really get further than where we started. How everything, even time, is an illusion.
Before you know it, you’ve been on the thing for forty five minutes and you haven’t even broken a sweat. And then you go over to the Stairmaster, and you have the exact same thought, but you think it’s totally new, because you forgot what you were thinking about on the treadmill.
I lost about 20 pounds in two months just doing that. I’m patenting it as “Distracted Dieting – the Essa Alroc Guide to a Better You.” Weed not included.
I’ve been yo-yo dieting my entire life. I’ve gotten the lectures from doctors about how it’s dangerous to lose 20 pounds in a month, but I keep doing it. Healthy eating and regular exercise is boring.
My life is a series of binges.
The Facebook nostalgia video has officially gone viral. It’s called the ‘look back’ and it is designed to tell you what was really important in your life thanks to how many of your friends halfheartedly liked something.
Of course, because the vast majority of my friends are idiots, my video is nothing more than a pile of loud garbage. Generally, the drunker I am when I post a status update, the more people like it. Despite writing approximately 5,000 articles for various news outlets, publishing 3 books, raising a kid, changing careers, getting my masters degree and all the other life changing things I have done, this is apparently the most important thing I have had to say in the past 10 years.
I genuinely hate my Facebook page. As far as I can tell, it’s nothing more than a digital exercise in rejection. Even someone as together as me gets a little bit hurt when I post something that I think is pure genius, and no one likes it. When someone does like it, I think that they only clicked like in order to get me to go to their page and like something they made. I can’t help it, it’s pure psychology.
So I’ve decided to fix the problem by encrypting all of my Facebook status messages using PGP.
Now, I will truly know who actually cares what I am posting, as these people will be forced to spend 15 minutes hunting down my public key, and then another 5 decrypting it. In addition, I will only respond to comments that have also been encrypted using PGP.
As an awesome side effect, it will ensure that any future ‘look back’ videos created on my behalf come out as pure gibberish.
**In case you were wondering, this encrypted message says “haha fuckers, good luck making a video about this.” A valuable resource put to good use just to piss off my Facebook friends. I truly do have far too much time on my hands.***
I hate being a smoker. I hate waking up in the morning and wheezing. I hate looking at every canker sore that I get and comparing them to mouth cancer photos on the internet. I hate the waste of money, the waste of time and the way I always smell like an ashtray.
But once upon a time, me and cigarettes were in love.
It all started when I was 11. The guidance counselor pulled us all out of class into the gymcafetorium (it’s gym+café+auditorium in white trash speak, for my fancy readers). We watched a video about the dangers of smoking. In that video was a section on why people smoked in the first place.
One of the ladies in that video said she smoked to stay thin.
“Thin?” My pudgy 11 year old self thought. “I could be thin?” At the time, I was an outcast. Overweight, bad teeth, worse clothes and a complexion that resembled the greasiest thin sliced pizza in New York. Anything that could magically make me prettier was considered a blessing, no matter the danger.
That night, I swiped the first cigarette I ever smoked from my father. It was a GPC, (aka Generic Price Cigarette) regular. It tasted like ass and it make me vomit.
But after the vomiting came this amazing feeling of euphoria. It was the first time I’d ever caught a buzz on something and it would be a feeling I would chase for the rest of my life.
I kept smoking and a few months passed in a haze. Before I knew it, I’d lost 20 pounds and my greasy skin had dried out from the nicotine.
I went from being hideous to marginally attractive overnight.
After a while, it was impossible to keep stealing cigarettes from my dad, so I started buying them at a store with very lose age restrictions. One day, I was stomping out of the store when the coolest chick in school saw me packing a new pack of smokes.
“You smoke? That’s cool.”
I had no idea it was cool too! I thought I was just trying to stay skinny. Soon, me and the rest of the bad assed 12 year olds were heading off to ‘the trail’ on a daily basis to smoke cigarettes and bitch about our parents,
I had to keep up the cool persona. My dad’s cigarettes weren’t enough and the dude who used to sell them to me got fired. So I started stealing them.
I remember the first time I stole a pack of smokes. This was back when they kept them in the isles, as opposed to behind the register. I stole that first pack and all the blood rushed to my head. I was sure I was going to pass out right in the doorway. My hands were shaking so bad I could barely get them in my pocket.
But I did. That first theft increased my confidence. Soon, I was stealing 4 or 5 packs a day and selling them to the kids at school. I became the go to chick when you needed a nicotine fix for those under 18.
In short, cigarettes turned me from an overweight misfit to a marginally attractive badass with some badass skills. If it weren’t for cigarettes, I would have never developed a little skill called confidence. Hell, I’d probably be some 33 year old overweight loser working in a convenience store getting yelled at by a boss with an associate’s degree.
Cigarettes didn’t just get me physically addicted; they got me emotionally addicted. They define who I am today.
Need a break from daily life? Go have a cigarette. Got into a fight with an idiot? Go have a cigarette. Conversation making you uncomfortable? Go have a cigarette.
Hell, I even use it now as a negotiating tactic.
“We’re only willing to pay 30 cents a word. “
“I charge 50.”
“We can find someone else…” the threat, that should hang in the air and make me uncomfortable is null an void because I no longer care about making the deal. I just want to get outside to smoke.
“That’s cool.” I reach into my back pocket and smile as my full pack reassures me. “You need to do what you need to do.” I race out the door, ignoring their protests, as my nicotine craving calls to me.
10 minutes later as I’m chain smoking a 305 menthol on the sidewalk in front of the building, I get a text. They’ll pay my rate.
My cigarette tells me to up my rate to 60 cents a word, because they wasted my time.
Smoking made me. It made me brave. It gave me confidence and it made me do things that I never thought I’d be capable of doing. When I started freelance writing, 30 cents a word was an offer I would have jumped at. But my cigarettes know me better than that and they know that I deserve more. If it wasn’t for smoking, I wouldn’t have the friends I have today. I wouldn’t have done half the ballsy things I do. I wouldn’t be me.
I’d probably be some sad, overweight WalMart cashier who never got to experience the joy of telling a boss to go fuck themselves.
Smoking is more than a hobby. It is a life calling. It is a definable attribute. Just like I have blue eyes, just like I serve angry quips and cynicism, just like I have balls the size of watermelons, I am a smoker. It is part of who I am. It is not just some nasty habit. It is me.
So understand that asking me to quit smoking is like asking me to give up a part of myself.
I heard once that smoking is 1000 times more addictive than heroin. Now, I’ve tried heroin and I have to admit, I didn’t find it addictive at all. I found it nauseating. But that is because heroin is physically addictive. I can avoid physical addiction easily. Hell, I haven’t eaten solid food for four days now.
But smoking is an emotional addiction. It isn’t just something I do. It is part of me. It played a huge part in making me who I am.
And turning my back on it now feels a hell of a lot like a betrayal.
Recently, while driving my car, my mother was involved in a minor fender bender. Being Florida, this of course turned into a massive life altering car accident. Today, I received the following email from my insurance underwriting company. After the message is the exact response I sent to the insurance company.
From: underwriter <>
To: s <>
Sent: Mon, Feb 3, 2014 2:56 pm
Subject: Re: Important information about your Esurance policy
Thank you for your email. We have reviewed the information provided. Unfortunately We require coverage verification for all drivers with regular or occasional access to the vehicles we are insuring. XXXXX was a vehicle operator in a claim who shows current at your residing along with XXXXX. Please contact us to add, exclude or provide proof of auto insurance in the form of a declarations page for Marquise Johnson. We also show we are requesting documents to verify your garaging address. Please submit a current complete utility bill established in your name. We can review gas, water and electric bills. All pages must be included.
Please provide the above requested documents by 2/10/2014 to avoid the driver being force added to your policy effective 8/23/2014 or your policy being cancelled or non renewed.
You may fax the requested information to .
Thank you for your cooperation in resolving this matter. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can be of further assistance. You may call us at or email .
Please note, the Underwriting Department telephone hours are Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and Saturdays from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Central Time.
The Esurance Underwriting Team
From: s <>
To: underwriter <>
Sent: Mon, Feb 3, 2014 7:31 pm
Subject: Re: Important information about your Esurance policy
Thank you for the form letter responding to my concerns. Well, not really, but you get my drift.
First, does everyone in the world have to respond with a declarations page from Marquise Johnson? He must be like the worst driver that ever existed. I only ask because I’ve never met the man, so I assume that this is a request to you send to all policy holders. Maybe you should create a special form for it. I would call it the “Marquise Johnson Refusal.”
In regards to your demand that you have verifications from all people who have “regular or occasional access to the vehicles we are insuring” I assure you that I am the only one with ‘regular access’. I would be willing to argue the ‘regular access’ part, as it is a surprise that my car starts at all. It is a temperamental vehicle and I can assure you that no one on the planet is guaranteed regular access to it, not even me. Most of the time I just turn the ignition and pray.
As for drivers, I can assure you that other people find it humiliating to drive my car. It’s a Dodge Neon with black tint and spinning rims. The only people I can get to drive it do so under duress. My mother calls it my ‘ghetto mobile’ and refers to it using racial slurs. We can’t blame her for that though; she is from a different time.
I don’t have access to my brother’s declarations page as I am pretty sure he has rolled it into a coke straw and used it to snort coke off a hooker’s ass. He lives in Vegas and drives a BMV, so I doubt he is very familiar with Esurance. In fact when I told him I have Esurance he responded “why don’t you just carry a sleeve of pennies instead. It would cover you for more and cost you less.”
As to your ‘garaging verification’ demand, I assure you that my car is ‘garaged’ nowhere and has never seen the inside of a garage. Who the hell do you think I am, Donald Trump? My car sits in a hot parking lot made of gravel. If I’m lucky, my drunk neighbor disappears for a few days, and I steal his spot. God, I can’t wait until that dude dies from cirrhosis. I’ll never have to walk more than 300 feet again!
You realize the irony of sending me a letter at my address, and then demanding that I verify my address. That’s like pickling a jar of cucumbers and demanding someone verify they are kosher.
Also, thanks for assuming that I have a fax machine despite the fact that I own a car that bluebooks at about $900. That is very forward thinking of you. It’s kind of like when a white person describes a black person without mentioning that they are black. We both know that there is no way I have access to a fax machine, but you politely ignore that fact and suggest it anyway. Way to ignore the elephant in the room.
Finally, cancelling my policy as of 8/23/2014 works perfectly for me. See I am an incredibly lazy individual, and I can almost guarantee that my crappy car will be getting formed into a metal cube in a scrap metal yard by then. Now I don’t have to cancel my insurance. Thanks for saving me a phone call.
I have a friend who is about 3 months pregnant. One of the best parts of being pregnant, from my own memory, was the picking out names. But many parents only concentrate on the fun, and forget about the responsibility.
Choosing a name for another human being is a huge responsibility that way too many people take far too lightly. Name your daughter Destiny or Cherry, and you’ve just set her up for a lifetime of stripper jokes. Give your boy a common name like John, and you’ve set him up for an identity crisis as he tries to make himself stand out from all the other Johns. When naming a child, the margin for error is huge.
Which is why I don’t understand why anyone would put that responsibly in the hands of a pregnant, hormonal woman.
Anyway, we were talking and Desdemona* confirmed that she was expecting a boy. Then she started listing off her top picks for names. Her number one choice? Applebee.
Yeah, I’m sure you have the same horror stricken look on your face right now as I did when she told me. When she noticed my look, she laughed a little.
“It’s because me and John met at Applebee’s. I figured it would be cute.”
I responded, “Yeah, it would be cute…for about 3 minutes. But when the novelty wears off, your kid would still have to spend the rest of his life with that name.”
Look people, naming a child isn’t like creating a novelty license plate. You don’t get points for creativity. Instead, you just get a little kid, with a really weird name, who grows up to be a bitter adult.
Essa Alroc isn’t my real name (shocker, right?) It actually came from a modified anagram of my own name, minus a few repetitive letters. My real name is an 18 letter monster of a thing, that while pretty, is less than practical.
When I first started writing, and realized my own incredible genius, I also realized that eventually, I might be called upon to sign one of my books or give an autograph. I had nightmares about being at a book signing, with hundreds of angry fans watching, as I took twenty minutes per customer while I signed my gigantic name. I pictured hardcover novels that had to be made 2 feet wide to fit my name.
I thought back to the frustration I had as a child, when my teacher gave “Amy Smith” a gold star because she figured out how to spell her name on the first day. It took me the majority of the first grade.
I thought about the awkward silence every time I sign a check or credit card receipt, when it takes just a little bit too long to get it done.
I thought about the frustration I feel every time I call a company to make an appointment, and need to repeat my name twice, spell it, and then repeat it again.
I thought about those obnoxious fucking government forms, where there never seems to be enough boxes to fit my name in.
I thought of all that, and I then I elected to change my name. I just wish I had thought of doing it sooner.
Parents, when naming your child, please be practical. Naming a baby isn’t just a fun chance to pick out the trendy new thing or throw a dart at a baby book. It is the single most important thing that you will give your child.
So try not to fuck it up.
* Name changed so my pregnant friend will understand what it is to have a horrible name.
First, let me say I’ve never really gotten the whole Schrödinger’s Cat paradox. For those who don’t know, it mainly involves sticking a cat in a box, with some time release poison. Allegedly, there comes a time during the experiment where the cat is simultaneously alive and dead; i.e. the paradox.
This paradox comes from the Copenhagen interpretation, which is more about observation with no true objective reality. Personally, I think it’s bullshit. You wanna know if the cat is dead, you don’t need physics.
Just shake the fucking box.
I’m bringing up Schrödinger’s Cat because I’ve heard a lot about it recently, which is odd. I haven’t gotten annoyed by that paradox since I was a college freshman struggling my way through physics. I think the reason that Schrödinger’s Cat suddenly made a comeback was because it was mentioned on a highly rated show, The Big Bang Theory.
So when my buddy Ryan mentioned Schrödinger’s Cat, I mentioned The Big Bang Theory. Ryan responded ‘yeah, I can’t really get into that show. I have a feeling I’d like it, but the laugh track ruined it for me.’
That threw me off because, get this, I had never even noticed the laugh track until he mentioned it. The next time I watched the show, all I could think about was the damn laugh track. I’d hear the laugh track and would immediately stop laughing myself.
Ironically, I had developed my own Schrödinger’s issue. My new observation of the show had changed the way I perceived the show.
So I needed to determine if the show was still funny, or if I had simply been conned by the laugh track. I went online and found a tech guy who could get me copies of the show with the laugh track dubbed out. I watched it.
I watched it and the show was eerily silent. I wanted to laugh a few times, but for some reason, couldn’t. No one else was laughing. I couldn’t figure out if it was funny anymore.
I ran into a new paradox. The laugh track made the show simultaneously suck and not suck. I had developed the paradox of Schrödinger’s Laugh Track.
I get the theory behind laugh tracks. Laughter is infectious and it’s easier to laugh when someone else is laughing. But the weird thing about laugh tracks is that they only work when you don’t notice them.
I probably could have brought my theory up to some important physicists in Switzerland. Instead, I did what I always do when confronted with a paradox.
I drank four beers and smoked a joint. Suddenly, the show was funny again, laugh track or no laugh track.