Immense Scrutiny: Oh, Okay

What the hell do we even write about anymore?

Why does every single new idea
have this immense scrutiny attached to it–
this, the next in my sequence of work
after this whole COVID- dilemma kicked off.

How would one go about this treacherous task
that I would argue nobody wants to undertake?

Well, the first impression of the situation
would be that you should just get started.

But there are so many previously-made characters
just waiting for me to observe their every move
on the silver screen!!

Nobody calls it the silver screen anymore, hon.

Aw, shut up. You never let me wax aquarium.
I mean antiquarian. Same thing.

It’s obviously a completely different thing.
One involves some weird combination of wax and water,
the other is old timey shit.

Well, I meant the old shit, duh.
Anyway, I can’t wait to just dig into
another drama or comedy
or whatever shit they’re shoveling these days
over at the old network of flix.
And now that I’m standing here
thinking about it,
I can’t stand just being here
without reasonable computer access.

What do you mean,
we’re literally on a computer screen.
We could just walk two inches to the right
and bump into a browser window with let’s see…
oh, not the porn one.
But it looks like that Stephen Hawking movie
was the last thing of repute in his history.

Oh, how was that?

Yeah, not bad. Pretty damn stylized,
but what do you expect from a movie
that’s supposed to undertake the monumental task
of depicting the 20th Century’s most prominent
cosmological luminary
while addressing his ALS?

They covered his whole life?

Nah, just a scrapbook of mostly decent memories
up until the point where his older kids are teenagers
and running around in some Buckingham Palace bullshit.

Oh, okay.

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Space [III] – Fred Radlers, DDS

We enter upon the peculiar timeline of one Mr. Fred Radlers. Well, he actually prefers to be addressed as Fred Radlers, DDS (or simply Dr. Fred if you’re not into all that formality). Once universally-acclaimed as a top-notch oral surgeon and overall consummate professional, he doesn’t earn a living that way anymore, and most likely never will. Any friend or loved one (hell, even any basic acquaintance) of his will be the first to tell you–in an attempt to save you some time and sanity–that he’ll never let you forget that he is and always will be a masterful doctor of dental surgery. There are numerous theories floating around as to the origin of this personality trait, but it’s all conjecture (and makes for rather dull conversation anyway).

It’s commonly known that Dr. Fred once attended regular psychotherapy at the peak of his rat race involvement as a measure of forestalling a sizable psychotic breakdown (which we’re not sure was averted anyway). It’s quite probable that he used those sessions to unpack the underlying condition responsible for the inevitable failure to relinquish that irrelevant arrangement of capital letters after his name, but he has very clearly chosen to keep that information close to his chest these days. Hey, to each his own.

The overwhelming majority of folks facing Fred’s predicament would simply drop the professional distinction as a measure of removing any unnecessary hassles or hindrances from their overarching tranquility while they navigate the remainder of their compromise-laden lives, but good ol’ Dr. Fred has held steadfast to his vision ever since he made a promise to himself in a vivid dream involving the darling buds of May and sugarplum fairies in a strange kind of pageant/dance-off judged by three carebear-esque beings of contrasting colors (so you know they’ll be fair and impartial). I recommend that you don’t bring it up with him, unless you’d like to be berated with his ideologies for a solid ten minutes without the ability to sneak a word in edgewise.

Dr. Fred now spends his time as a rogue backpacker in the Belgian countryside, sampling magnificent beers along the way. His teeth remain immaculate.

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Space [II]

The megalith atop a mound of frozen butter has begun to lean. The wind–an opponent of this lonely monument’s verticality over the past several days–has finally managed to noticeably move the giant. Now it’s only a matter of time before that butter melts, leaving no margin for error and dooming the poor behemoth to horizontality until the next time an advanced-enough species wanders over and decides that this particular rock would look better if it touches the ground with the smallest possible footprint. It could happen tomorrow, it could take a billion years. Hell, it may never happen. How it started standing in the first place is a mystery unto itself.

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Space [I]

A congregation of sphinxes (Intergalactic Sphinx Brotherhood Local 167) has made it apparent that nobody will live to finish this particular quiz they’ve concocted–the most difficult sequence of riddles ever devised. An arrangement such as this can only have been composed as a way to appease the in-crowd (you know, the ones who can never have a riddle too tough, therefore devoting their livelihoods to crafting questions that have answers unknown to all but them).

A subset of these puzzling desert denizens can’t help but take pity on the doomed mortals that will inevitably come across this death trap. There have been rumblings for some time amongst a few concerned members, and these conscientious few have agreed to let Rolphus (the notoriously outspoken one of the bunch) have a go at playing the role of public defender and devil’s advocate wrapped in one.

“Brothers, you know that nobody will escape with their lives if they come across this latest amalgamation–doesn’t that irk you at all? We sphinxes aren’t just killing machines. We should at least give our potential victims a chance. Now, that doesn’t mean that every riddle has to be easy. Plenty of people are still going to die, but the rate of death can be something like 99.2%, rather than the appalling 100.0% that’s currently in place. Just give that some thought, brothers, so the history books will record a more just reflection of who we are and the art that we have thanklessly produced for millennia.”

This plea is met with a few seconds of stuffy silence before the meeting proceeds just as it had before. The quiz is not amended, and every human to come across it dies unceremoniously. Less than a year afterwards, tourism on the Sphinx planet Egregion ceases entirely.