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Topics - Eater of Clowns

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I don't know much about my uncle.  He's lived on the west coast my whole life; I can recall his presence at a few family gatherings as a kid but I had no significant interaction with him until recently.  He's a friendly old guy, a wife, no kids, retired and living in the San Francisco Bay area.  He's a bit of a mystery though.  I've heard snippets, rumors, hints of his past.

He's one of five siblings; the only male of the bunch.  I guess he had some problems with my pepere when he was younger, maybe he was too rebellious.  I can see it happening, my pepere was one of those mid-20th century World War II vets - strict, unwavering, and dead of a heart attack at 55.  Anyway my uncle was in Vietnam.  Nobody talks about it much and I haven't ever asked him.  I don't intend to either.  It's not one of those things one can ask somebody.  Sometimes I think it's a shame because there's knowledge there, and I hate to see knowledge and stories die.  But it's not my choice whether the bad stories live on forever.

After that things get hazy on what I know about him.  I heard he had a tough time adjusting after the war, which is, again, to be expected.  He may have gone down south to act as a Nicaraguan freedom fighter.  I have no idea what that means in terms of his role, really, don't know who he was with or what kinds of things he did and saw.  It sounds like something he believed in, to me, like maybe he had this romantic idea it was the right thing to do.  I'd love to know his reasons why.  Perhaps if I come to know him better I can pick it up.

Beyond that all I know of him is what I know now.  He seems happy, intelligent.  He takes it easy and he has a tendency to drone when he talks.  It's funny the similarities I find myself having with a man who I've really interacted with only a handful of times.  He says interesting things.  Seems like a guy who has life all figured out.  I like to think I do as well, sometimes, but I'm young and uncertain.  My reasons for getting to know him are much the same as my reasons for being here; I feel like I can learn.  It's generous of him and his wife to host me for the week I'm spending out there, and I was happy to learn they're excited about it.  I am too, of course, I get to go where I've never been and see parts of this beautiful country I've never seen.  But I'm also excited at possibly learning from my uncle, or even just about him.

I realize this is some self indulgent shit, but I thought maybe it'd make an interesting read on a day this place seems afflicted with melancholy.  It's also my way of telling everyone not to do anything terribly interesting while I'm gone, because I can't be sure I'll have any time to check this place out.  I'll be around until Tuesday.  After that, behave your goddamn selves.

Sometimes I suffer grand delusions of being a person.  I'm not a happy accident of nature stuffed full of cheap carbohydrates and caffeine and distraction.  I realize that I have a functioning mind capable of so much, I begin to stare off to follow that hint of possibility and I lose it as quickly as it came.

I say this because some other times I'm sure I can't be alive.  Times where I talk to relatives of inmates who have had a death in the family, when I get frustrated because they can't gather themselves on the phone to let me direct their calls.  Times where I send an ambulance to a hospital carrying an infant and a terrified mother, and maybe it's maimed or maybe it's a bad cough, but it's a terrifying ride for the parent.  I can picture this and I still can't feel it, not like I can feel the interruption from a good read.  Times like last night, where an inmate is found unresponsive in the health wing, where the nurses had been performing CPR and using the AED until an ambulance arrives, which I then dispatch to learn that there's been no change.  But all I know is that I've got too many phone calls to handle at times like those.  One of those phone calls is a nurse asking for an outside line.  She sounds like she's been crying.

I hear of these things and it's not like watching the news.  I can get angry at the news because it's somebody's fault.  I can get angry at the laws and the politicians and the corporations because it was a conscious decision to bring ill to the world.  Then sometimes, sometimes like last night, awful things happen that nobody can control.  I'm not sure what did it to the inmate last night.  I looked up her suicide attempt history to see if there were any recorded; this was partly to cover my own ass in case I missed one and didn't alert them to keep an eye on her.  There was nothing.  Maybe there is someone to blame, maybe she got the wrong medication, maybe with better supervision she would have made it.  The administrators are going to look to pin it on one of the nurses or officers down there doing the grunt work.  They'll ask them why they didn't do this, didn't do that, because they have the hindsight and their lovely policies and their power.

I won't feel it though.  So Dok, do people have an off switch?  Do I become cold and efficient in the face of such things because I have to be?  Is it a failsafe to avoid an overload of hearing so many things bringing so many lives to a halt, changing so many people?  Please tell me it's so.  Because otherwise, well, I won't have those brief moments anymore, and those mean a lot to me.

Or Kill Me / Enemy of Fives
« on: May 04, 2010, 05:32:30 am »
"All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way-if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy." -John Knowles, A Separate Peace

It all starts with pixels on a screen.

They coalesce into the faces of people never met, maybe never spoken to, and those faces are where the ideas come from.  The ideas, the fragments of Discordia, the parts which will never be made into a whole.  Each perspective lends another piece of the image that appears amidst the clutter; the fleeting sight of a greater thing.  Some pieces are more clear.  Some are ethereal.  Some are brilliant and shining and some are vaguely more integral to the structure, seen flashing in the blink of an eye, that won't be completed.  Never discount that the impressive work of this construct was done by those pixels on the screen.  But they are not the architect.

This architect builds skyscrapers and art galleries, builds cubicle farms and computer towers and prisons.  The architect is mad and hilarious and hopeless.  Connections which could not be true are made real.  Supporting beams are made where there were only small bits of substance.  Arguments are won with support of foundations impossibly strong that exist entirely by conviction.  Lovely conviction.  Self deluded conviction that convinces the architect one fragment of a Discordia that can never be whole is more valid than the rest.  All that it ends with is a grumbling bunch of mad fools clinging to their sweet darling thoughts, oblivious that so much more can be made should they share perspectives.

There need be no singular uniting vision nor goal nor collective.  There certainly should be no hive mind.  All that there should be is an ability to look upon this wealth of ideas and see their potential, individually or compounded.  That will be painful.  It will take curbing pride, and struggles of words and thoughts.  It's entirely worth it.

We are the sufficiently creative minds, and we've created enemies amongst each other where there are none.  Instead, use these resources to make something incredible.

Discordian Recipes / Horrible Food Decisions
« on: April 19, 2010, 05:02:42 pm »
It's a bright day in Spring.  An hour drive north of me there are hundreds of people running 24 miles in an incredible feat of physical and mental endurance.  Others are mowing their lawns, or perhaps running much needed errands with their free time.

Not this guy.  Instead I woke up around 9:15, laid in bed for another hour or so, went on the internet, and spoke to my girlfriend, who is at work, before deciding to eat something.  Now, I've been living alone for just over a year at this point, and I'm well familiar with the concept of independent adulthood in that nobody is around to stop you if you make a horrible, horrible decision like the following little number:

That's a piece of red velvet cake with butter cream frosting, a few strawberries (you know, we have to be concerned with health here) and a cup of coffee (to unstick chunks of food from my throat after I under-chew everything and down it in record time).  The perspective is a bit skewed here, so let me just say that the cake is not a small piece.  It's taking up a big chunk of the plate, it's probably over two inches thick at the end, and, well, those strawberries are lying in the shadow it's casting.

Let's say it's the day after your birthday.  You just finished a weekend filled with wonderful friends and family to remind you how lucky you are.  In such an instance, I cannot recommend highly enough the effects of such a breakfast on highlighting how much of an idiot you are and how quickly a potentially productive day can turn into several hours groaning on your couch.

So, let this thread be about the bad, bad decisions you made with food.  Official-like.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / ATTN: Left Coast
« on: April 09, 2010, 04:34:42 am »
I'll probably be in California from May 18th-25th.  I'm staying with my awesome retired uncle whose town I forget but I'm flying into Oakland so it'll probably be in that vicinity.  I won't have a car, partially because I think you need to be 25 to rent one and partially because I don't feel like paying money.  I have absolutely no plans for doing anything during that time other than arrive and depart from the airport.

Any suggestions for the area would be greatly appreciated.  Anyone in the area would be awesome to meet.  I'm up for anything.

I've never taken a vacation before.  As in taken the time from work, booked the flight, stayed somewhere, etc.  I'm assuming this is how one vacations and such.  Never been to CA either.  I think I might like to see the Pacific Ocean.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Bicycle spags?
« on: April 07, 2010, 04:18:27 am »
So I wouldn't call myself an avid bicyclist, but I really enjoy going for a long ride.  Right now I'm on my sister's Gary Fisher, one of the lower end models, and I'd like to get my own bike when I get my MA tax return.  Here's the thing.  My budget would be around $600, which could get me a decent but not really exciting bike.  Craigslist is a good resource, I know, and I found a good bike there for my girlfriend, but I'm very tempted to be daring in this.

I'm considering building my own bamboo bike frame, which can be done for about $150 to make a frame that would usually retail for about $2000.  The process seems involved but not out of my ability range.  It requires the use of propane torches, mitering, epoxy, and frame design, none of which I have ever done.  Resources are pretty solid online, with a bunch of guides to cross reference and ideas to draw upon.  These two are catching my eye in particular, the former about single speed and fixed gear cycling and the latter about bamboo frame construction:

I really like the idea of having a unique bike that I can really say is mine and get extremely upset about when it inevitably gets stolen.  It's spring/summer and I could use a project to work on.  I want to know if anyone here has any experience building bikes (not necessarily constructing a frame but assembling them) or knows anyone who's really into it, if this is feasible for a newcomer, or really anyone who has opinions on fixed gear/single speed bikes they'd like to share.  Or anyone really, who wants to help me out with some perspective.

The project would, of course, be accompanied by a Bring & Brag thread with pictures and write ups of my progress.  I'll also try to carry a camera and note on me while riding it to upload photos of my mangled corpse should my construction prove faulty.

Bring and Brag / Sense of Time
« on: April 02, 2010, 04:32:17 pm »
   It's early spring and it's a Thursday and it's three o'clock in the morning.  I'm getting out of work after a twelve hour shift and I'm walking to my car and there's nobody else.  It's never worked out like this before but it just seems so familiar because of the season's young mists and the smell of dew and the silence of the hour.  And because I've done it all before so many times in the early spring.
   It's early spring and I'm a freshman, I'm a sophomore, I'm a junior, I'm a senior, I'm one year out, I'm measuring time by years at my job and not by years of my class now.  Working on the second without breaking a sweat because it's all been so nice and sure here and I'm still young it doesn't always seem like an eternity in place.  It's early spring and I'm turning nineteen and there's a green dinosaur pinata, I'm turning twenty and there's a pistachio cake, I'm turning twenty one and the bar is singing me happy birthday, I'm turning twenty two and I'm at the Moan and Dove, I'm turning twenty three and there's a black forest cake, and I'm turning twenty four now in the early spring and there will be ribs.
   It's the early spring and I'm lonely and I'm interested in this girl and I've been dating her for a year and we're ending it and my girlfriend and I are two months in and we're measuring it in years not months now and I love her but I did then too.  Six years of driving my Corolla, my Lumina, my Civic home in the early spring on roads pocked and lights tauntingly red and a defiant few headlights passing me by.  It's hard finding parking near my dorm near my townhouse near my apartment so late at night.
   It's early spring and setting and plot have shifted but the characters are all the same like it's some hack writer's changing of minor details to sell a whole new story.  It's repetitious and bitterly bitterly nostalgic against even knowledge that there's nothing to be missed.  And six years from now in the early spring will I remember I think I saw a shooting star on the way home?


So I thought that one up last night and wrote it down before I went to bed.  It felt really raw at the time but I can't decide if I like it or hate it.  I was trying to describe the sensation of it all having happened at once but still with the memory's lack of clarity - almost like seeing what's in front of you and not being able to really grasp it.  Comments and criticisms welcome.

Or Kill Me / Excess Weight
« on: March 18, 2010, 04:26:58 pm »
There's this horrible little thing in my hand and a voice coming from the other end of it.  I hate this thing so much.  It's pressed against my skull by a tensed forearm and a hand clawed over this little red button of a circle with a line through it.  It's right there, I have the digit with which to accomplish the task but I just can't do it for the repercussions.  Just press down that thumb and it ends, that's all, but I'm not supposed to.

It weighs a few ounces, heavy and large in comparison to a bunch of the others I've seen that have all kinds of awesome features that this beastly thing does not.  Even so, none of them are large enough to be wedged between skull and shoulder whilst walking about without some serious neck pain, not like the old ones with the cords.  But they all have that little red button with the circle with the line through it.  It's the worst fucking button on the whole thing.  It's literally a little red button with the understanding it should not be pressed at the wrong time.  How fucking cruel is that?

Just as bad as the button is the comfortable weight it presents for throwing the god damned fucker against a wall.  It's got just enough heft and sexy aerodynamics that if you tossed it you would see the fragile little screen burst and fragile little guts fall out.  It would be so awesome.

Instead of throwing it and instead of pressing that little god-fucking-hate-bitching button I'm using it to ineptly clarify some complex thought to someone else trying to ineptly clarify some complex thought.  Then when I don't plaster the bastard to my left ear and filthy up that sexy full color screen with errant wax and spittle I weigh down my right pocket to a familiarity so complete that I feel funny if it's gone.  And it'll shakes in there when it needs to tempt me with its crappy red button.

That stupid little button.  That I cannot press.

Discordian Recipes / Boston Restaurant Week
« on: March 04, 2010, 03:22:36 am »

I'd like to take the opportunity of restaurant week in Boston to try some places out that I would normally not be able to afford.  If any New Englanders have suggestions as to where to go for someone who only eats in the city rarely, it'd be much appreciated.  My girlfriend and I are open to pretty much any type of food, the only thing being nothing raw because of diet restriction.

I skimmed through them and I like the way Umbria Prime and Gaslight Brasserie du Coin look at the moment.

Or Kill Me / Let's talk about the weather.
« on: February 13, 2010, 12:01:47 am »
Banal conversation and pointless chatter are obvious chagrins to everyone.  Some have lower threshholds than others but we all have a limit to how much uninteresting crap we can put up with in a day.  You've got interaction trappers who come up to you and start talking about whetever comes to mind, office nonsense and such.  And really, is there any greater example of this dull, wretched talk than the weather?

The weather gets a bad reputation though, undue for what it is.  Our lives are so inundated with media and potential interests that it's a miracle two people can share similar hobbies.  We've got nothing in common with each other anymore - even the people who supposedly do!  Two people love beer?  That's great - good luck getting them to agree on which is incredible and which is crap.  Don't get me wrong, this is a great thing, more potential for individuality and independent thought (won't hold my breath for it) and all, but it backfires sometimes.

We're just so damn disconnected.  Where does one find a common ground in conversation in a group of relative strangers thrust upon each other so often seen in workplaces?  Five people in a group enjoy television, let's say, but one guy hates reality shows, another watches only sports, one nothing but major news, another the history channel, and another prime time sitcoms.  Television itself has so many options the common joke has been about who gets to control the remote.

The weather.  It's one of the few things that's occuring to every individual in your immediate vicinity in the same way at the same time.  It did in the recent past and it will in the near future.  It's an experience we actually share, in the very real sense.  I saw a great spirit of camaraderie on my street the first storm of the season - neighbors who barely spoke helping each other shovel and push cars that were stuck (like -ahem- my own).

So please, if you see me, point out what kind of day it is.

And then fuck off.   :lulz:

Anyway, it was just stirring around my head lately.

Or Kill Me / Sustainability
« on: January 25, 2010, 04:38:31 pm »
It's the eco-friendly buzz word just after green became cliche.  It's the new earth hipster way of saying green is fine for the general public, but sustainability is where it's at.  It's for people who know organic isn't necessarily the answer, who make conscious decisions to lessen their impact.  It's the management of people, economy, and environment in order to live on this earth forever, to undo what we've done and begin healing the scar tissue we live in on a daily basis.

Adam is this guy who's always been big on the trends, a discoverer personality that markets hope to catch the attention of because they know this motherfucker will spread the good word.  But there's no market in this one, Adam knows too well food marketing and its effect.  He's a vegan, not because he's against killing animals but because Adam knows factory farming them is bad for the environment and he has no access to healthy grass-finished beef.  He lives in the city and rides a bicycle to work, public transportation if it's really bad.  No cars, nope, that shit's a dead American dream where Sunday rides were the tradition and Route 66 was pure romance.  His clothes are from hemp and organic cotton, his electricity is from wind power, and he cooks like a mad motherfucker.

You see there's this test Adam took online, a sustainability test that was just for kicks at first but really got him thinking.  How many earths would it take to support human life if everyone on the planet lived like him?  The average American was 8.8.  Adam was a 5 at first (young people without many resources tend to score higher) and through all this sacrifice and hard work he's got himself down to a 2.3.  He's been doing all that brain work lately about how to lessen his impact and finally he's got the message, the real message.

He's really that discoverer personality like I said and on this one he'll be the first.  Adam goes out and gets himself a gun license and a high powered rifle.  Hunting is big in his parts so that's easy, God (or Gaia, or Whoeverthefuck) bless the USA.  He finds himself a nice little perch out of view and he waits for his prey to come out.  Finally the answer to sustainability!  After a little while he's got one in his sights and he waits calmly, remembering that he used to be pretty good at Boy Scout camp, keeps steady and fires at the big bastard.  He hits it dead on.  It's got to be at least...

Thirty-five years old.

Sustainability is the management of economic, environmental, and societal needs in hopes of finding an equilibrium that will let humanity live on this earth forever.  Current thinking is to curb economic gain and develop environmental practices without hurting people.  But that's a trade off, it's ignoring the whole idea.  On that online test Adam took it's impossible to get 1 or less than one and damned difficult to get less than 1.8.  It's got nothing to do with how we live.  It's that we live.  Or more appropriately, how many of us do.

So remember Adam's lesson.  If you want mankind to survive, kill at least three people.  It's the Sustainable thing to do.

Bring and Brag / Statues and Cliffsides
« on: January 12, 2010, 08:37:02 pm »
Back in October my girlfriend asked me to write and orate a short story for her for our anniversary (yesterday).  Now that she's officially the first to have seen it, I'll post it here:

    In the Traveler's world no place has a name.  Destinations are necessary as beginnings and ends to journeys, for resting or restocking his supplies, for anxious leisure while not feeding insatiable desires for new sights.  Home and place of birth exist separately, the latter forgotten to decades of wandering and seeming eons without speaking, the languages of men and other blended to ambiance of new surroundings, both brick and mortar to empires raised on words, some hollow and some awesome.  And the former is where the pack rests beside him that night, the sky perpetually taunting him with its infinity above.  Tonight they would offer no such humiliations, their merry eyes and innumerable grins, their hints of grander meaning falling on the uncaring tiles of a standard fare inn.

    His road ended shortly ahead at walls that seemed to dance in the waning sunlight.  They rose tauntingly before him, covering only the half of the city not resting upon sheer cliff side.  Rumors told him to arrive at twilight while others claimed twilight never ceased so long as the sun fell on the city, the beautiful city, its irrelevant name etched as the only mark upon the high walls.  There was no welcome in addition to the name, no title or claim to supremacy, merely a declaration of its being.  With similar function the guards stared at this path worn man, the filth of his lengthy wanderings seemingly more than the accumulated filth of the entire city could be.  They watched him pass and watched the soles of feet that seemed to have seen more miles than the world has seen years disappear on cobbled streets more immaculately tended than most palaces.

    Business of the denizens appeared to be dwindling with the hour, the city's squares emanating a foreknowledge of desertion.  Men and women were perfect here the Traveler saw.  As his gaze rested from face to face in awe a plethora of the same passed by without his notice, each attractive in unique ways.  Looks began to be thrown at him of concern and distaste and in his shame he realized how he much look to these people.  With effort he averted his eyes to the architecture of the place.

    Nothing about the place was uniform, no two buildings alike nor even very many symmetrical, yet it was all so perfect.  He sat for a moment on a bench that clearly belonged precisely where it stood to find the breath pulled from him by his shock.  Shocking eyes that had seen so much he marveled briefly, the thought interrupted by his notice of a pristine fountain his seat faced.  A child with clever eyes knelt on a stone pedestal with a smile hinted on her lips as her arms lifted a circlet to place upon her brow.  It was a snake engulfing its own tail.  Clear water cascaded from the serpent and splashed to the rest of the pool with a shifting chime.

    After marveling from his spot for some time he rose on tired legs with excitement, the exploration of a new place at hand.  He mastered the skill of finding the shy sights, the ones which hid themselves from prying eyes and appeared only if one knew they were there.  In cities they were discovered only by following the kind of person who looked as though they might find themselves where one wishes to go, a skill that takes a keen eye.  But he found none like this here.  Instead he set to his life's work of letting his whims guide him.

    Darkness fell before long, marked by moonlight shimmering on the streets and none to see it but him.  His footsteps echoed across the lonely alleys in an ethereal music.  Down one street or another he might find flickering light playing upon the edges of a closed door, laughter inside like any other tavern in any other city.  But the tones were richer and the light more pure somehow.  Eventually he found one such doorway from which slow music drifted and the light seemed feeble and the laughter was not real but only an idea that had once been there, a memory imprinted on the spot by those who would frequent it.  Here he stepped inside.

    Lovely people sat dejectedly about the place, their features no less striking for the almost determinedly sullen mood.  He sat at a bar of oily wood, rich smelling and spotless.  A mug was set down before him in a silent gesture from the rough looking man tending to the customers.  With a nod he turned to a woman crooning before a fire, her voice sounding as though it might catch aflame by the sparks popping intermittently.  He became slowly infatuated as her tune carried him through histories and tragedies.  These were not the words of a mortal, or if they were they were not meant for mortal ears.

    His drink was sweet and heady and as he turned for another the bar man lingered a moment longer, the act so foreign to the man as to make him visibly uncomfortable.  As though he knew the question forthcoming.

"What does the lady sing?" the Traveler asked.  It was the first he'd spoken since arriving; he awaited the reply nervously.  Thus far his beaten appearance had made no impact on the folk but he feared to be ostracized.

"The day's events, in town at least," came the reply.  The man's tones lilted in gruff song not unlike the lady's own.

    The Traveler listened more closely, catching the rhythm and understanding her at last.  Expecting to hear of thefts and politics, of deaths and religious figures he instead learned gossip.  The grocery boy was in love with a nobleman's daughter; a visitor had entered the city gates and has been seen exploring its streets.  He perked up at what might be about him, but there was no more.  His presence was known and evidently unremarkable.  He motioned to the barkeep.

"Do you have rooms available?"

"We do, and baths and food if you'd like more than drink."

"I'll have the lot of them," he said.

    The man showed him to the upper floors of the building, where narrow halls belied spacious rooms and opulent beds.  His own was decorated with flowers.  He laughed a little, unnoticed by the exiting innkeeper.  It made him forget a disturbing image while he left the basement lounge, a slight vision that chilled him.  On the railing leading upstairs his hand passed over a gouge in the wood otherwise polished smooth by both care and years.  It was the first imperfection he'd seen since arriving, but with those delicate flowers in view it seemed a mistake of his own senses.

    A bath was drawn shortly after, happy looking attendants filled it swiftly without seeming to break their own paces.  In it he washed the filth of miles, the dust of roads caked so firmly upon him it seemed a part of him.  It stayed there in the basin, now a cloudy unsavory stew that drew his mind again to that rough spot on the railing.  He fell asleep with it in mind.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / ATTN SUU
« on: December 18, 2009, 09:57:00 pm »
I got your Christmas card.  It's wonderful, adorning my tree, and here's my attempt to respond:

Seven days 'til Christmas in the Principality,
Suu's gone down south, leaving it all to me.
Or so I assume since that time you went north,
and put me in charge as your bus took you forth.

While you're visiting family in the Sunshine State,
I'm defending the turf, Baron EoC the Great.
But there's this one guy whose imminent flight
keeps me tossing, turning, enraged at night!

He's got powerful allies, supporters worldwide,
but damned if I let that save his fat hide.
Awful things of mine are patrolling the air:
dirigibles, airplanes, and sattelites - a pair!

I'll hunt the jolly fucker on his night of fun,
I'll see if he's merry through the sights of my gun.
And I'll don the cap, the sled with such powers,
I'll repair the holes made by sentry towers.

I'll reanimate those steeds that he has to draw him,
their hooves shall ride thunder like they never did for him.
The elves I shall keep to wage war on the Keeblers,
you can have them enslaved as your costume needlers.

But don't think me mad, this isn't power thirst,
it's because, dammit, he fucked with me first.
How dare he violate our precious air space,
he'll learn but good when I violate his face.

I don't think I'll kill him but I will make him quiver,
and I'll sentence him to a life spent in Fall River.
What that means is New England spags are expanding,
we'll have the North Pole to increase our standing.

And it's not the end of my holiday plans,
I'll invade their spaces, kill all their mans.
Let it never be said I'm without ambition,
even if it's not quite Christmas tradition.

So thanks for the card that adorns my tree,
the only one Barony wide it will be.
Hoping your Florida trip is met without frowns,
there's plenty up here,

Eater of Clowns.

Discordian Recipes / Dear Jim Koch,
« on: December 09, 2009, 03:46:56 am »
I respect you, really I do.  I place a good deal of credit in the revival of craft brewing in this country with the success of Sam Adams.  You weren't the first to do it, but I think you played a big hand in its popularity.  I think that you have a live feed of hop fields in Germany to have up to date weather information is fantastic, and that you bought a surplus of hops during the shortage to sell at a loss to other microbrews was a great gesture.  I like your commercials and that catchy tune that plays in the background.  I like that when you gave your speech at the 2008 Octoberfest I'm pretty sure you were drunk.

But our relationship is tumultuous at best, Jim.  Quality seems to be taking a dive.  There was a time when your seasonals were only available in New England and summer wasn't summer without Summer Ale.  Winter Lager was one of my favorite beers and I could ignore Spring Wheat because your Oktoberfest kept getting tastier.  They just aren't as fresh anymore; this year's Summer Ale tasted like piss and I don't mind telling you, but this year's Winter Lager is one of your best in some time.  Nothing has become more stressful in the season changes than that first Sam Adams to find out if my safe standby for the next few months will be your own or if I'll have to find another.

I'm a fan, Jim Koch, I'm a fan of you and I'm a fan of your brewery.  I've known you and enjoyed you for years, and I wish you would take this simple advice:

Make Old Fezziwig Ale available in a six pack.

It is the best beer you make, hands down, year after year.  It is cruel, making me suffer through a Winter Warmer 12 pack including that god forsaken Cranberry Lambic so I have an opportunity for two of those delicious Old Fezziwig Ales.  Give me direct, unhindered access to Old Fezziwig and I'll ignore your miserable decision to mass produce Blackberry Witbier, which I advised you upon taste testing it against the Espresso Stout to shit can both.

So Jim, I ask you, nay, implore you with all humility and deference, give us Old Fezziwig.


The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Cain, it's a riot.
« on: December 02, 2009, 02:52:46 am »
I don't know that I've ever mentioned it to anyone here, but it's one of my favorite stories.  It's the kind of thing where you have to tell it if you've experienced it and when you do you become Shakespeare, your words are carried from your mouth without any control of your own and they form a picture of the night putting to shame the most clear of photographs.  I used to work student security at UMass Amherst; the part time job shaped my entire undergraduate career there from how I viewed my peers to how I spent time with my friends.  My gig was a supervisor, I would go from building to building across the campus and talk to the people who were signing in guests and make sure it was all going well.  UMass Amherst is big, if you didn't know, huge actually.  It would take ten of us divided across the place to get to each building three times if we were lucky over a nine hour shift, so we were assigned areas.  My area that night, December of 2006, was in Southwest, the party area of the college and on alert for the evening for one simple event happening hundreds of miles away.

Our football team was playing in the NCAA Division 1A finals.  One lucky thing about being in a shithole like Southwest on a game night was there being no need for a radio or a television.  From the yells echoing across the cracked concrete from drab twenty seven story high rise dorms you knew if we scored, if they scored, if the refs made a bad call.  And I listened to it because it spelled how I would spend the remaining seven hours.  If we won, the students would party and jubilantly riot.  If we lost, the students would party and angrily riot.  It was unspoken and palpable from the moment the game was scheduled.

The game drew to a close and I was told to stop making rounds, to just stay put in the central tower, the epicenter of the horror show that part of campus represented.  A few drunken students trickled out the doors, dressed in t-shirts and shorts against the winter cold.  The trickles conjoined to a stream to a river to an ocean of angry movement and expectant violence.  Shortly thereafter the crowd was ordered to disperse by the UMass police department, these guys essentially state police and not your standard college cops.  They predictably failed to exit.  That's when the smoke came.

I don't know if it was a smoke screen or what, but when people breathed it in they gasped and they choked, they covered their faces with their t-shirts and their eyes were reddened and they rushed for the nearest place away from the smoke they could find.  It was my building.  Dozens of the smart ones flooded through the doors and they brought the thick grey smoke with them, they rushed past the desk and there was nothing our little security desk could do to stop the tide of bodies.  I was yelling at the top of my lungs, which is loud, but with any prolonged burst of my voice like that it would quickly give way from either strain or struggling to breath through the smoke.  Whatever I would need to do the rest of the night would need to be done through a hoarse whisper.

Eventually the doors closed and hundres of people still stood outside, yelling and throwing things at the police.  The lobby of the building was encased by enormous windows and spectators who just wanted to see what happened next were standing and staring at the event.  I couldn't blame them, it was a uniquely terrifying sight to see a line of police, complete with helmets and riot gear, advance on a crowd of raging drunks.  I wondered if they all hoped for both sides to annihilate each other quite like I did.  But people were digging up chunks of that ugly cement, looking like a petrified granola bar covering the whole area, they were throwing it.  I kicked the reluctant onlookers out of their spots and sent them to the upper floors, the box seats.  Five minutes later the first window was shattered.

It was a big chunk of that cement tossed through thick glass above our heads.  It rained down and clinked upon the floor to be crushed under the hiking boots I wore every day at that job for comfort against all the walking we normally would do.  I pocketed a small bit of the concrete that I still keep as a souvenier in my car.  More rocks and more glass would follow.  You see, we had uniforms, dorky gaudy things like putty colored jackets and maroon security hats.  My belt was filled with cell phones and flashlights and radios and keys and for all the lack of weaponry about my person everyone insisted on believing I carried handcuffs or pepper spray.  That thin stupid jacket was a bulls eye that night because it wasn't the first time they thought of me as a fascist; me, whose job it was to merely lock the doors and keep the building monitors company at two o'clock in the morning on a Saturday.

None of them ever got me, their eyes too lazily unfocused on the menacing figures of mounted or marching police.  There were more of them now, not just UMPD but Massachusetts State Police.  They brought their pepperballs and I was amazed at the ability of the weapons to really send people fleeing.  The riot had faded and most involved escaped to the safety of friends' rooms after causing over $100,000 in damage, broken glass and smashed book cases, torn up pavement.  I ended my night like any other and went back to the security office that we shared with UMPD to exchange tales with the other guys in my area.  We went to a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts and talked for a while before returning to Southwest at five in the morning.

More striking than the outfitted police was the desolate ruination of what was supposed to house upcoming minds of society.  Windows were shattered on every reachable surface, still smoking piles of rubbish and casings of smoke grenades, a loaf of Wonderbread crushed and toilet paper strewn about, a book case thrown through the door of the cafe.  None of us spoke making our way across the center of the mess, unlike the minutes before as we told our stories or the days after when they were the talk of the university.

I'm telling you this Cain because this is the stuff that once affected change.  It was the behavior once driven by powerful views and conviction, knowledge that things can't continue along the same path and catalyzed by one too many acts of oppression.  But not any longer.  Now it's fools upset about a football game, their cause a trivial sports defeat.  I like to tell myself that the rage was about so many other things, not the championships, but our criminally rising fees and our increasingly diminished control over the university, that the game just gave us a way to manifest it all.  I just don't think I can tell myself those kinds of lies anymore though.

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