Empire on Ice #41: J! Magazine Beach Ball Edition
This week! Over at the city's Bureau of Departments, the much-anticipated J! Beach Ball Edition arrives. Let the ogling commence.
[During a bit of downtime in a breakroom over at the City Bureau of Departments, Internet Cabinet Division…]
Resh: The June edition of J! is here!
Benzan: Yes! At last, the Beach Ball Edition.
Jemis: Nice, nice, nice!
[They huddle around the magazine.]
Benzan: Check out those balls.
Jemis: Now that my lad is a fine use of latex.
Resh: Gregor, don't you want to see the beach balls? These things are huge!
[Gregor is off in a corner frowning and working on something with a paintbrush.]
Benzan: Wow! Looks like that one had plastic surgery.
Jemis: This one fell in the water and got all wet!
Benzan: Dem water beads…oh!
Jemis: Easy there, lad. That water is probably photoshopped on, anyway.
[Resh walks over to Gregor.]
Resh: Come on, Gregor.
Gregor: It is…undignified…for a city official to ogle at toys!
Resh: Toys? These are objects of leisure, my friend. The Empire waits all year for the Beach Ball Edition of J! Magazine.
Gregor: Perhaps there are better things to do with one's life than spend an entire year waiting.
Resh: I don't mean it literally. What are you working on, anyway?
Gregor: [Annoyed.] Calligraphy. It is an ancient tradition for a heatho-dwarf warrior at the end of spring to commemorate the season with a calligraphic poem. One of the favored themes is love, something wholesome that a warrior can cling to in the desperations of battle.
Resh: Gregor, how cultured of you. [He pats Gregor on the shoulder.] Well, if I can't interest you in J!, so be it.
Gregor: [Scowling.] Thank you, sir.
[Resh returns to the others as DeLatia and Silence walk into the breakroom.]
DeLatia: —and so I said to him, "Just tell her that the Secretary of Flame Wars thinks your cat is an ugly fucking cocksnot who will probably get eaten by a wolf."
Silence: That's kind of beneath you, isn't it? Starting your own flame wars?
DeLatia: It's been a bad month. For some reason the Internet is just being so damn nice. We're pulling double shifts at the ol' Firehouse and still can't consistently keep the vitriol above Level 4.
Resh: Ah, ladies! The Beach Ball Edition of J! just came in. You've got to see this.
[DeLatia goes up and grabs the magazine from them.]
Jemis: No hogging!
DeLatia: I want to see this month's celebrity quiz.
Resh: But we weren't done—
Silence: I think that's our line, boys.
Resh: I’m surprised at you, Silence. That is an incredibly outmoded and sexist remark.
Benzan: What’s she talking about?
Resh: You’ll learn someday, kid.
[Silence and DeLatia join Resh and the gang on the couch. DeLatia flips through the pages until she finds her quiz.]
DeLatia: Here it is! This month it's from Bargie Muldoon.
Benzan: The star of What Are They Now?
DeLatia: Yep. Here's the quiz: "This month, your goal is to think of the two most awesome celebrities in history, from the entertainment industry or any other walk of life, and combine them to make the most ineffably awesome being ever conceived in the human imagination."
Jemis: Human imagination, Lilit. You're out of luck.
DeLatia: Nah, I'm going to overlook that. We spirubi have better imaginations anyway.
Gregor: [Grumbling to himself.] I fail to see how that is even a "quiz."
DeLatia: All right! Everybody think… … …and go!
Resh: Jesus Python.
Jemis: Jesus Python.
Benzan: Pikachu Jolie.
Silence: Julius Boyardee.
Resh: Lilit? What about you?
DeLatia: Nobunaga Bieber!
Gregor: [Scowls to himself.]
DeLatia: What?! Hasn't anyone ever heard of Nobunaga before?
[Resh holds out his hand to DeLatia.]
Resh: Lilit…you've failed the quiz. I'm going to have to ask you for that magazine back.
DeLatia: But we haven't checked the official answer yet.
Resh: It's for your own good.
DeLatia: Oh, fine. Have your stupid, over-inflated beach balls.
[She thrusts the magazine at him. Resh flips back to the beach ball feature. Silence notices the pictures and looks puzzled.]
Silence: These are just beach balls.
Resh: And how!
Jemis: Hubba hubba!
Benzan: Damn these are fine.
Jemis: I'd blow that one any day.
Silence: But…I thought this was one of those get-yer-freak-on magazines.
Resh: What? Heavens, no.
Jemis: No way, lassie.
Benzan: We just love beach balls!
Jemis: Yeah we do!
[Jemis and Benzan high-five each other.]
Resh: It's all wholesome fun, Silence. Playing beach ball is certainly a fair bit more gratifying than sitting here in the Bureau of Departments all day long reading e-mails and having meetings.
Jemis: Say, Arderesh…why don't we go to the beach right now?!
Benzan: Oh! Can we?!
Resh: Well…we are on schedule.
[He thinks it over.]
Resh: Sure! Why not? Let's take the rest of the afternoon off.
Jemis: I'm gonna hit those balls so hard!
[Exist Resh, Jemis, and Benzan, enthusiastically. They leave the magazine behind. DeLatia picks it up.]
DeLatia: [Shaking her head.] What a bunch of man-children. I guess we've finally found the answer to who likes that kind of drivel.
[Silence takes the magazine from her.]
Silence: I think beach balls are neat.
DeLatia: Yeah, I guess. Not as neat as Nobunaga Bieber, though.
[Silence pats her on the shoulder.]
Silence: Like they always say: Be proud of your dreams; you're the only one who truly can.
[She begins to rifle through the magazine, then stops suddenly. Her eyes go wide.]
DeLatia: What is it?
Silence: I'm pretty sure this is a get-yer-freak-on magazine after all.
[DeLatia looks at the page.]
DeLatia: Silence, that's an ad for clam chowder.
Silence: I have to go. Right now.
[Silence leaves, taking the magazine with her.]
[DeLatia shakes her head and sighs, sagging back into the couch.]
DeLatia: Bunch of pervs. Everyone's a perv but me.
[She notices Gregor, still working on his calligraphy.]
DeLatia: Well, everyone but you and me, eh big guy?
DeLatia: All right, fine. Sorry I bothered you. Ugh.
[With the breakroom to himself, Gregor finishes his calligraphy, and at last his scowl turns into a grim, triumphant little smile. He holds up his freshly-painted poem, and begins to recite it.]
You know you love me, I know you care.
Just shout whenever, and I'll be there.
You are my love, you are my heart,
And we will never, ever, ever be apart.
[Gregor smiles again, satisfied.]
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!