|Jul/Aug 2017 Humor/Satire|
NOW, THE CHRONOLOGICAL PRESENT
"Hello? This is Ben. Can you hear me?"
Ben lowers the phone from his ear. He decides to ask one more time. He knows who is calling. The number appeared on the phone with the name below it almost simultaneously. Ben thought he had lost this number. Actually, he wasn't even aware he had ever had it, until now. They haven't talked in quite some time. Why is he calling?
"Professor Miller? Are you there? Hello? Professor?"
Benjamin Gert de Gopher-Bonk Saoirseson von TyVole's father is a member of the National Rifle Association, Bazookas for the Common Man, the Cato Institute, Citizens United, The Heritage Foundation, and the Traditional Values Coalition. He has founded two organizations himself, holding multiple presidential terms in each and remaining, presently, on both groups' Board of Directors.
The Honeybee Institute's mission statement is focused and pithy:
We, the undersigned, do solemnly swear to do all in our power, even unto death, to reclaim and reestablish the sovereign territory surrendered by the late Kingdom of Deseret, hereto erroneously designated the 'State of,' to the implacable usurpations of the heathen so-called 'government' of that Northeastern city so unworthy of Elder Washington's name.
Ben's father has been on classified FBI watch lists for years, granting him a free spritz of Diet Sprite anytime at the quaint malt shoppe in town and confirming, for Ben's grandmother, her decades-long suspicion that the Mars landing was faked.
Ben's father also founded the Cohort of Constitutionalist Adherence. Every member is required to take an oath of allegiance to uphold the old, late and great Bill of Rights, "no matter the cost Member's pledge to name one male child after one of the first six presidents of the United States.2 Ben's father named his second son Benjamin George Jefferson Davis Quincy Franklin.
Ben's father—Full Professor in the University of Idaho's Department of History and holder of the Barry M. Goldwater / Theodor W. Adorno Chair in Conflicting Political Ideologies—has served two-terms as mayor of Preston, Idaho; founded an interior-design company specializing in bathrooms, sub-specializing in toilets with a fine focus on motion censored lid opening and closing; and, prior to that, earned his PhD abroad in Eindhoven (following an undergraduate career at Utah State) studying the effect of Jean-Marie Le Pen's political legacy on his granddaughter's (Marion Maréchal-Le Pen) presidency. His dissertation analyzed the pros and cons, moreso the feasibility versus non-feasibility, of implementing French Nationalist theories—synthesized with the social views of Lorenzo Snow, Boethius, William Pitt (the Younger) and William of Ockham—in Northern Utah/Southeastern Idaho. His view on power is modeled after Cincinnatus. He terms it "Pharyngeal Reflex Authoritarianism
Ben's father attempted a coup of sorts a few decades ago. It failed, the attempt to create a new nation in the aforementioned region devolving quickly into a bungled effort that resulted in multiple arrests. Myriad charges ranged from disturbing the peace to treason. The Governors of Utah and Idaho, in a legendary show of clemency, issued a joint pardon to Ben's dad and his co-conspirators. They waived all charges in exchange for a written agreement from Ben's father to never again engage in "subversive revolutionary activity3 nor promulgate any propagandic literature, merchandise, or media aimed at the incitement of anti-government passions Ben's father signed the pledge. A framed copy hangs in Salt Lake City's Leonardo Museum.
The half-assed revolt became a national cause célèbre and made Ben's father the celebrity in Idaho and Utah. That's how he ended up on the University of Idaho faculty. Yes, he had a PhD, a smattering of conference presentations, and publications, too—even an article in the American Historical Review. But there is a theoretical max within academia to which credentials really matter, and while few can pinpoint the line of demarcation, Ben's dad had crossed the threshold. Credentials do matter, for the peons. Ben's dad was a star. Not an academic "star" but a real one: a modern, Western-US amalgamation of Patrick Henry, Robin Hood, Robert E. Lee, and the Thracian gladiator Spartacus.4 Ben's dad surpassed the usual rungs of promotion and was appointed full professor his first day on campus. His elevation to the Goldwater-Adorno chair came in the last three years. Since then, Ben's father has not stopped seething, the beneath the surface type of resent-laden anger ready to bubble to the cone's brim threatening Vesuvius at the slightest provocation. Source: Adorno, duh.
Ben, sometime during his college years, changed his surname to TyVole. TyVole is Czech for "you ox The name is a multi-layered hommage—as in don qui exprime le respect more so than the alternate marque de respect—of sorts to a certain piece of medieval legend involving Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, and an ambition to bellow and, no less, a shout-out to his Czech born great-grandfather Aleš Jindrich Novotny, who went by the nickname "Krásny Knedlik
Ben's father was somewhat perturbed that his son had changed his name; not overly so, more like disquieted without discombobulation. And for what it's worth, according to him, nothing relieves pent up tension like heading out back on your 100-acre property and setting up six-foot tall stuffed purple dinosaurs, some mascot from some children's program of the late 20th century (these specimens equipped with fluorescent green bellies as if naturally selected for target practice) and blowing them to smithereens with Soviet era RPGs he had recently found in the back of a long cobwebbed-over storage unit, left over from the brief days of the fledgling N.R.D.D.5
Ben's mother didn't care about the name change. Her focus is largely restricted to social justice, redistributive tax-based income egalitarianism, marigolds, fair trade coffee (to which Ben's father is deeply opposed, meaning the coffee), the writings of Jack Kerouac, selective totalitarian population reduction, free love theory, and her life's work: promoting anthropomorphism.
Ben's mom, professor of the interdisciplinary Department of Post-Gender Studies at the U of I, likes to take long walks with Ben those times he is able to return home, a steaming mug of chamomile tea in hand, into the Palouse near sunset. She asks her son questions like, Who would emerge victorious in a well lit, white walled room featuring the ACLU in one corner, Morris Dees opposite, Betty Freidan next to Dees and participant number four an unknown you-pick-her-knock-yourself-out 19th century feminist the one non-negotiable stipulation being she had to be in attendance at the Seneca Falls Conference? Ben would usually say he doesn't understand the question. To which his mom would usually reply, This is full-scale academicianist warfare, Benjamin, a debate over best activism practices! We're talking about a battle of the wits with no prisoners taken.
Ben's mom struggled for a while with dual and alternating addictions to acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Over time she also developed a dependency to fluoxetine. She had been diagnosed, in some cases multiple times, with ephebiphobia, mythophobia, theologicophobia, gelotophobia, doxophobia, decidophobia, and agoraphobic nucleomituphobia.6 All this passed from her life about five or six years ago. Unexplainably, it just passed, the addictions and the fears.
Ben has an older brother named Steve. Steve Adams John Monroe George Jefferson Thomas Franklin. The boys, Steve four years the senior, enjoyed a rather typical Western First World childhood replete with team sports,7 piano lessons, camping trips into the River of No Return Wilderness, Boy Scouts, and baking lessons from Grama Franklin. Ben would eat half the chocolate chip cookie dough raw before Grama could get it onto the butter-greased cookie sheets. Ben isn't a big fan of cookie dough, but Steve, schoolmarmish about rules seemingly ex utero, would get really pissed off when Ben did this. Too pissed. Grama Franklin would squint her eyes and ask him, verbatim, "Honey, groundhog sneak up the back of your pant leg and bite you on the bottom, oh so extra-bextra hard?"
Steve is a practical man. Practical as in a closed circuit oscillating from poles labeled bland-boring to humdrum-bromidic. The kind of boring that would make a person present one's mouth five centimeters from a recently dried wall of white paint and begin to bite and gnaw and chew and gorge into that wall as though it were a façade of coconut flavored butterscotch cotton candy and coconut flavored butterscotch cotton candy was a foundational component of nutrition, a building block of life in a category very near water, and one had been deprived of this necessary sustenance for five days while marooned on an island in the South Pacific forced to watch a repeatable loop of ___________'s pilot episode rather than stay engaged with the ennui at hand.
Steve attended the University of Idaho because it was close to home and familiar. He began work in Pocatello because it was his only in-state job offer. Philadelphia is scary because its denizens once booed Santa Claus, and so who knows what those people are capable of? Steve is an engineer. It's good work. The idea of struggling to make ends meet is beyond his ken. So, too, is excitement, variety, creativity, originality, cookie-cutter liberationism, and/or non-robotic, non-monotonous voice inflection. He's basically as interesting as a historian. He might be a tick above, one register on a one-tenth scale ranging from 2.6 to 1,455. When one considers the relative separation between the 19.2 historian and the 19.3 engineer, a respective Absorbing-Rating (ability to hold interest even captivate) of 0.13195 to 0.13264, is there a difference?
Steve married a fellow U of I alum, Susie (née Quartzbuckler). The couple lives in Boise with their three sons. Steve is head of the Boise CCA with hopes of opening an office in Elko, Nevada. Steve is head of the Honeybee Institute-South, also in Boise. He is currently exploring options for opening a Bazookas for the Common Man chapter, but Boise may prove too left leaning for such an enterprise.
Steve is a good older brother, but as is often the case, a critical one. In his opinion, Ben has wasted many a talent. Steve believes Ben is a loser. Ben would rather undergo metamorphosis into a piece of lichen on I-84 West, destination Portland, than spend a day living Steve's life, having Steve's job, thinking Steve's thoughts. Ben loves Steve, and Steve loves him. As with most brothers, this isn't a question of love.
Who is right here? Who can judge? What is truth, after all? Is Steve right because Ben, mathematics prodigy that he was, turned down full academic scholarships to MIT, Northwestern, and Georgia Tech in favor of a path undoubtedly less traveled, one that just might get Robert Frost to shut up and go away? Does Ben's 153 IQ, near-fluency in three languages, photographic memory, and a PhD-candidate-like grasp of European history place some burdens of necessity upon him? Is he an idiot for not using these talents to excel in academia, business, law, medicine, or other?
Or, is Ben some type of genius-savant? Is he, at the least, prescient for understanding that rejecting such golden opportunities meant that he freed himself from an inevitably soul-numbing path from top tier college to premier graduate program to six-figure salaried job to suburban house to probing internet search entitled Why am I so depressed? to medication, more medication and a final release of techno-visual lobotomy by way of now more than ample sized butt plopped onto plush couch with drink in hand staring at a 100-plus-inch entertainment device any and every time he is not consumed with the career consuming him?
Who knows? What is truth?
What is true, or "true," or "Ben's truth," is that he chased his version of the American dream "like a butter-greased bear after ten pounds of ground beef at the end of a slip and slide on a hot-an'-humid Winona, Mississippi, July (pronounced Joo-hoo-lie) evening," as the Amerohedonist philosopher Erdiddie Davis put it in his seminal work, Humanity's Search for the Dreamscape.8
Davis was obsessed with the evanescent idea of pure-happiness. Years of research culminated in him defining it as "undiluted sensory indulgence By far, the most recognizable and oft-quoted part of Humanity's Search speaks of this as a leap from a firm, two-footed stance into a "sea of sensory short-circuitry," of every possible sense being switched on at once, "a thousand light bulbs popping on—click!—at the exact same moment," an analysis illustrative of Ben's complete commitment to follow his own path in life: "Boy, y'all doan-neevin' know, dja-Gern-pappy gon' pull out dat fiddle ana sit righ'down the front porch wit da all dem grandchirren fore a blazing settin' sun gainst the purple sky, no cattywampus bout it now, an'dja gern-momma bringin' dat sweet potato pie round yonder with the coffee and the cream and the sugar and the hawnee and the muscadines and the big barkers too. Ooo-hoo wee, yes suh, I done takin dat train Nawlins long time ago get mu-self hee-ya; dis night, ta-night, y'all listen up now real, Beale Street good9
Ben, 18 years old and free of parental consent, embarked for East Southwestern South Northeastern West North American University of the Arts and Logic, an independent think tank-type college nestled deep in the New Mexican desert.10 The centerpiece of ESSNWNAU-AL's educational model is the construction of a final project. The goal is developing an original product, in reality a banal novelty good for making money and (by design) little else.
If it can sell, it'll do well; by us, to get people to BUY us, and it, in the US.11
Fin de siècle Europe was a place equal turns enchanting and terrifying, the backend of what would soon become a century of general, "continent-wide peace" that was anything but,12 from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to Europe's suicide 100 years later. Liberalism was dying a slow and painful death. Comte's positivism could hardly be taken seriously. Nietzsche, wrong though he was about many things, correctly diagnosed the growing comfort of the then modern world had begun to wreak unforeseen damage on the human person; man was becoming soft, enslaved to his own comfort. What could be done? Few people can agree on what could have or should have been done. Fewer still on what was eventually done (see Verdun).
The promises of French Revolutionary egalitarianism, of an international community founded on common ideals within the brotherhood of all men, failed rather quickly. If in historical time a century is no more than a week of lived experience, what can be said of the mere half decade from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen to the Terror? Liberalism kept trying and kept failing, first by the Congress of Vienna, then in the suppression of the 1848 revolts, then, thanks to Bismarck, as a vehicle for nationalism, and then by the end of the century, it was time to put aside all the failed presuppositions of the liberal paradigm and delve headlong into man as psychoanalytical specimen. To move away from constructed, faux-bonds of human solidarity. To move away from reason, period, and onto the higher planes of Wagner's music and Klimt's art. Even to the lower planes, subconsciously speaking, with Freud.
Karl Schliemann was born into this world in Vienna in SCE13 1891. His family, while not quite aristocratic, was certainly more than well to do. A family with fingers in many of the respective pies of the day. Karl's father Gustav taught his son to play the piano. The young boy had mastered Gustav's favorite, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, by age ten. Gustav took his son to the opera, to museums, and hired private tutors to instruct Karl in mathematics, history, literature, the biological sciences, linguistic theory, and languages themselves: French, Russian, and English. Karl could read Dostoevsky in the original before his 13th birthday.
Karl was studying at the Sorbonne when he received news that three members of his country's royal family had been shot dead in Sarajevo. He returned home. There he waited with a mixture of breathless dread and almost uncontrollable excitement, authentic paresthesia if he had ever felt it before. Perhaps this was "it," his generation's moment for battlefield glory. Glory for his fatherland, for his family, for himself. All these thoughts bounded about in his mind before he, like countless young European men, set off for battle, hardly imagining the horrors in store.
Before the Versailles Treaty was signed, Karl would be shot three times, lacerated by barbed wire, twice stricken with pneumonia from hunkering down in cold and wet trenches on winter nights, have three toes amputated after a life-threatening infection, and watch a friend from home, a friend with whom he taken fencing lessons, have his head blown off by a cannonball right in front of him.
The Great War had so profound an affect on the European psyche that still now, so many years later, one can hardly make heads or tails of the bottom line. What can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that years of an assumed linear progression of humanitarianism and science led to one of the most inhumane displays of destruction in human history. The exact science hailed as the harbinger of a new humanity was employed in the service of a new barbarism: new guns, new statistics (57,000 casualties in one day), tanks, planes, and nerve gas.
The survivors of this novel cataclysm coped in myriad ways. Karl left Europe for America in 1920, never to return again. He taught economics at NYU for much of the '20s before moving to Saint Louis in 1928. He stayed for little more than a year, moving further west, eventually settling near Flathead Lake, Montana, in 1935. He came to Flathead after working in the Oregon logging business. The particulars of his time in Oregon are unknown.
Much of Schliemann's past is hazy. His diary doesn't shed any light on how the Great Depression affected him. It is unclear how he accumulated a rather substantial amount of money. From his work in Oregon? From a family inheritance? Once he put down roots in Montana, living in a small cabin near the edge of the woods for seven years (1935-1942), he busied himself with writing.14
Karl cultivated a garden and hunted wild game. He boasted in his journal he could hit a deer in full flight 100 meters away with a crossbow. He grew a thick, auburn beard, at one point not shaving for three years. He brewed his own beer in a cellar he dug out under his cabin. His time in Montana followed a consistent daily pattern, one he cataloged meticulously in the pages of a leather-bound, now considerably frayed, nearly 400-page journal. His writing is so small, neat, and ordered that he once recorded 23 days on one side of a page.15
About that daily routine: Karl rose with the sun, sometimes before it. Prior to breakfast he would run full speed up a 200-meter incline behind his house, 15 times minimum. Completing what athletes would later call "hill sprints," he immediately segued into a vigorous, full-body workout that included push-ups, pull-ups (on tree branches, usually wet with morning dew, the slippery wood a bonus in aiding grip strength), air squats, and abdominal drills. Post-workout he cooled off with a swim in the lake. Neither the current season nor the temperature—air or water—mattered. And anyways, as far as Karl was concerned, the colder, the better. Then, food. Karl wrote he would eat "like a wild stallion" at breakfast, once consuming three vats of coffee, five pieces of bread smeared with huckleberry jam, some goat cheese, two glasses of milk, a few pieces of smoked meat, two apples, and a glass of something he called "sweet churned froth-maximus buttermilk" in one sitting.16
Karl would usually rest after breakfast, reading philosophy before gleaning the newspapers he brought back from trips into more civilized areas. The afternoon was set aside for various scientific experiments. The extant evidence—17 pages attached to the back end of his journal, various diagrams and algorithms, compilations of numbers, graphs, and statistical data usually lodged side by side in "A" and "B" columns—does not lend any understanding to what he was doing. Random scribbles and numbers, no one has been able to decipher them. Schliemann's evenings were spent hunting, brewing and drinking beer. After five years in Montana, in 1940, Karl added something to his daily routine. A new type of sports training, one sprung from his love of the great American pastime.
Karl loved baseball. Some people, especially foreigners like him, grow to love the game. Their immersion into American culture inevitably leads them to at least try to understand it. And then, this initial spark lit, the many complexities of the game, the strategy and the rules and the minutia, along with the visceral artistry of loose arms throwing at blinding speed (the one true physical advantage man has over beast, Karl believed, for while there is an endless supply of animals who can outrun and out jump humans, not to mention an equal amount who can outswim and are considerably stronger, what animal can throw like a person? None. It's not even close) and sinewy arms and hands whipping wooden barrels at this blinding speed, the crack of contact so sweet sounding—verifiable, bona-fide honeycrackle—often makes the casually interested become knowledgeable unto fanaticism. That's what usually does it: baseball's unique mixture of mind and body. Chess with episodic violent discharges.
Karl didn't grow to love baseball. He loved it immediately. No sport ever invented was as primal. A team sport only in name, baseball was the loneliest of all individual competitions. One man trying to throw a rock past a man holding a stick. Nothing was quite so solitary. Neither man could pass the buck or the ball to a teammate. Neither man could await the help of another tackler to finish the job. Baseball was single combat worthy of the Trojan War or King David: armies numbering hundreds of thousands sitting silent on the plains, watching, while each called out their best man to fight the other's for all the marbles.
When watching a game, Karl imagined the pitcher and batter all alone in a windswept, near freezing and practically unreachable part of the Gobi desert near sunset. Each man striding to his designated spot with his weapon in tow. A true zero-sum game. One man wins, the other dies. The agony and the ecstasy delivered in full measure each at-bat.
One day, Karl decided to add baseball training to his daily regimen. He was a natural athlete, and throwing ran in the family. Two family members had competed in throwing events at the Olympic games. An uncle at Athens in 1896 (in discus and shot put) and a second cousin named Carl Bechler who took seventh place in javelin at the 1908 London games. Strong throwing arms were carelessly littered throughout Karl's gene pool, and thanks to his daily workout-into-ice swim routine, the man was, simply put, a complete physical specimen, ripped beyond belief and equipped with a fantastic athletic base for whatever sport he might direct his energies towards.
Karl described his baseball training in great detail. His first session was on August 1, 1940. He continued with the training for the next two years until he left Montana. Then, he was done.
Karl's regimen was based on power and explosiveness. In this way, he was far ahead of his time. It would not be until a few decades into the 21st century that baseball trainers, as a whole, started seeing the benefits of Olympic type lifting, of understanding baseball fundamentally as a power sport based on one man physically overwhelming his opponent. This approach had first come into fashion in the SCE 1980s and 90s. Yet even then, because of the association with illegal drugs in baseball's so called "Steroid Era," it was often regarded with skepticism if not outright rejected. Karl saw the benefits of this type of training and lived it—in 1940. He did so without any supplements, save for gallons of homemade beer.17 He never touched the brew before workouts; afterwards, he drank it like water.
Karl had two goals:
1. Pitch a baseball as hard as possible.
2. Hit a baseball as far as possible.
Karl was decidedly anti-fundamentalist when it came to the game. Fundamentals
were, in his opinion, for lesser, less talented men. Who cares how well a guy could run the bases, how "head-ups" his base running was ('heads up base runner' is code for no actual talent), how good of a teammate he was (code for cheerleader in uniform; authentic good teammates dipped, drank, and told tales of the Old West by campfire together), how solid his defense was, how well he hit behind the runner, how great his bunt placement was and, above all, how he always hustled? It takes no talent to hustle was a popular saying in the game then. Exactly.
Fundamentals had nothing to do with twilight showdowns in the Gobi desert. This is where the men where to be found, armed with triple digit fastballs and country-mile light tower power, especially to dead center. The tense moments where two magnificent alpha Rams fought head to head-butt on a narrow rocky ledge high up on a rock face with the only options being death or destruction of the other. Karl was content to leave the fundamentals to the little boys, to the B-teamers. In a true battle, there was no dishonor. Striking out against a better man or having such a man tag you for a long one was all well and good. The only cowardice was throwing off-speed pitches or lining a single the other way.
Karl began with the arm and then moved to the bat. He did a brief warm-up, getting the body primed, warm and loose, before throwing a two pound steel ball (which had the same circumference as a baseball) into a makeshift backstop. First from as close as ten feet away and then out, by increments, to as far back as he could go. His maximum distance, from which he could hit the backstop in the air, was 207 feet.19 He then came into 60 feet, six inches for full effort throws. Following some sprints and push-ups to rinse away any pesky lactic acid from his arm, Karl hit the same two-pound18 steel ball off a wooden tee with bats as heavy as seven pounds. His favorite bat was 38 inches long, five pounds 11 ounces. Karl hit for a long time off the tee. This completed the first half, pure strength phase portion of his workout.
Phase two was all about quickness and explosiveness, transferring the steel ball's brute strength into fast-twitched arm and bat speed. Karl is considered a pioneer in overload-underload training. During phase two he threw only standard baseballs; no long toss (although he maxed out at 477' on a baseball throw), only pitching form back to 100 feet at which point he would begin to pitch off a mound. Phase two hitting was likewise standard; normal sized bat (34", 33 oz.) and ball. Whereas in phase one he hit the steel ball directly into his backstop from close range here it was all about "outfield-long Tee Karl set his tee against nothing but the wide-open spaces of Big Sky country and got after it a little bit.
Karl dropped absolute bombs. He hit line drives 350 to 400 feet in the air. Line drives! He hit shots that would be, were they hit in a game, 400-foot seeds up the middle that would make the pitcher duck for his life and whizz past the centerfielder's head before exploding off the wall or clipping over it. When he wanted to air it out, to hit a sky-scraping fly ball or two, he could exceed 500 feet. And this without one joule of energy supplied by a pitcher.
His pitching was the most impressive. Karl knew a guy in Billings whose cousin knew a guy who knew John L. Barker. Barker (along with Ben Midlock) introduced the radar gun to combat excessive speeding on postwar U.S. highways. During the war, when Karl was training in Montana, Barker had a few prototypes laying around and agreed (somehow) to test Karl's pitching speed. The Billings guy's cousin's friend claimed it was a sight to see.
Karl's best fastball was clocked at 109.97 mph. He threw in the 104-107 range consistently. The men who watched this exhibition begged Karl to take his talents to the public; join the bigs, become a legend, an American hero. Make Babe Ruth look overrated. Karl refused. The whole purpose of the training was to reach his potential, to exceed presupposed athletic limits. He had done that. He never intended to compete professionally or otherwise. The entire exercise was one great art project, done primarily for the intrinsic beauty of the movements. Karl believed that to receive popular acclaim and/or money from this talent would, in some way, taint it.
Without stating a reason Karl left Montana in 1942. He traveled south, settling in a remote part of the Chihuahuan Desert. He left no record of his time there, in stark contrast to his daily, almost compulsive chronicling at Flathead Lake. All anyone knows is that Schliemann addressed the following letter to his close friend, an Aeneas Ibañez of Santa Fe. Schliemann's last letter is famous today for its prescience when he wrote of an "unthinkable devastation and hereto unimaginable unleashing of destructive power" that he was certain was "now on our horizon Beyond the reaches of the civilized world, deep in the foreboding Copper Canyons, he most likely did not learn of the sudden fulfillment of his prediction. Schliemann's letter is ESSNWNAU-AL's founding document. The university community holds it in as high a place as patriotic Americans of old once regarded Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.
Mr. Aeneas Ibañez
46 E. San Francisco Street
La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, New Mexico
9 VII A.D. 1945
I am going away. Do not come looking for me nor inquire as to my whereabouts. I have located the fountain of youth. A people inhabit the lands to the south, the Rarámuri, a people of perpetual motion, freed from our wants and desires, freed from the jealousy and avarice and malice that have left our world in such horror I can hardly speak of it. I must confess that I do not believe the situation will improve. An unthinkable devastation and hereto unimaginable unleashing of destructive power will come. Some terrible power that will dwarf what we once defined as such. I believe such a calamity is now on our horizon. And then what? The war will end. It has already in Europe. But what then? What of a new, even more terrible event? And who will sift through the rubble? To salvage what? It seems we have a surplus of Attilas yet few Benedicts.
Thus, I bid you farewell. I am setting off for the land of the Rarámuri at sunrise tomorrow. I will do as they do. Run.
I have one last request to ask of you. Come to my house on the outskirts of the city in three days. You will find, under my bed, a chest containing my life's savings. It is a considerable sum. I ask that you take one percent for yourself and deposit the rest into this final request of mine, my final coup against reason and order and so called "enlightened progress" that I once believed in with fanatical fervor but that has given me in return, as to so many others, only war, death, hatred and despair.
The money will fund an antidote. An academy dedicated to absurdity. A bulwark against reason and order, dedicated to a new order of free thought aimed at subverting the false reason and false order of the former and, in doing so, perhaps reintroduce the authentic meaning of those words. Name the school East Southwestern South Northeastern West North American University of the Arts and Logic. Only the most avant-garde professors and students are to be employed and admitted. All must posses an outlook disdaining societal expectations of success and social conventions more generally and be able to handle criticism to the point of ridicule. While talent and innovation are commendable assets, nothing is as essential here as lacking a fear of failure.
The school will have an open course system determined by the faculty. Their discretion will decide required courses, if any. There will be no major programs of concentration. All students will develop a final project with the sole purpose being making as much money as possible. Because the final project must be absurd, broadly defined, the school's great triumph will be producing scholars and projects whose work is so incandescently brilliant that they will be able to sell irrelevant, and even useless items to a general populace too ignorant to tell the difference between true talent and vapidity. The idiot populace out-idioted by their own consumerism until the scales fall from their eyes and they will see, for the first time ever, truth. And then they shall begin to rebuild.
I fully entrust the rest, the implementation of this vision, to you.
My warmest regards to you, Carmen and the children (especially to my favorite, El Niño del Inodoro),
Arriving at ESSNWNAU-AL was in itself an adventure for Ben. The trip from Idaho was the first solo journey of his life. He left Moscow before dawn and drove 300 miles out of the Palouse down through Riggins and on Highway 55 from McCall into Boise where he spent a layover. The next morning he left early once more, driving east to Twin Falls where he picked up U.S. 93 and drove south through the whole of Nevada, through a vast and open desert landscape, until he reached Ely. U.S. 93 intersects with U.S. 50 in Ely. U.S. 50, many years ago, had earned the moniker The Loneliest Road in America20 and Ben thought that this might be his one chance to explore the highway.
Ben turned onto U.S. 50 and drove westward. He stopped for a few days in Austin to explore the northern reaches of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. While in Austin, he fabricated a story to the mayor about being an expert in Roman architecture, saying that he was currently employed as the supervisor of a Vermont granite quarry. As such, the town's historical point of interest, Stokes Castle, was a dream find. Would the mayor, perhaps, grant Ben the unusual request of staying a few nights in the castle? The mayor initially refused. He outright refused. No, the castle is a landmark, after all, not just a landmark, you see, a real one, on the National Register of Historic Places since SCE 2003.
And by the way, the mayor said to Ben, looking at him askance, supervisor? You? Now just hold are you, son? Ben told the mayor he was 30 years old. Thirty, you say? Well sizin' you up I wouldn't-a guessed you were much past 20, the mayor said. Are you putting me on, son? he asked Ben. Ben hadn't anticipated the situation going like this. He had no money for a hotel. He had been sleeping in his car and was banking on a few nights in the castle. What to do now? Luckily, Ben, ever observant, noticed the man was wearing a belt buckle that read Roswell, 1947.
Listen, buddy, Ben said to the man, I don't know how to say this so maybe the best thing to do is to come right out and say it, you know? Ben motioned for the mayor to come closer, pulling his linked index and middle fingers toward his chest. As Ben was signaling he gave a few nervous glances from side to side, pretending to be checking for prying eyes, eavesdroppers and the like. The mayor was all ears, removing his Stetson as he leaned in close to hear Ben's whisper. "You ever hear about that supposed abduction in Pioche? Long time ago, I think it was like SCE 1975
The mayor's eyes went wide. Ben noticed his pupils dilate. He nodded.
"You have heard of it?"
The mayor nodded again.
"You wanna know somethin'?" Ben asked.
"Boy, do I ever," the mayor said. "That's just about the only thing I can think about half the time
Ben motioned for him to come closer one more time. The mayor was so close that Ben could see down his ear canal. It was jam-pack stuffed with wax, nearly overflowing, a yellowy-orange wax, thick, like someone had melted an orange popsicle onto a steadily cooling citronella candle.
"That was me," Ben said, this time his whisper a little louder than a gentle breeze.
"Holy Schnikes! You mean, you, you were abducted!"
Ben shook his head, solemnly, calling on every last reserve of strength to avoid dying of laughter on the spot. "I did the abducting
The man fell back a few steps. "Hooo-lee schnikes! I knew it! I knew there was something different about you. The way you walk! Your face! Your boyish looking face, like a 12-year-old cut and pasted onto a full-grown man; the face on an infant on the body of the Abominable Snowman. The Yetis Ben stayed three nights in Stokes Castle before turning back, east of Ely. Back on 93, he headed south once more, towards Coyote Springs before turning left onto NV-168 E at Moapa. This road intersects with the well-paved US-15 which he took eastbound all the way into Saint George, Utah.
The name Increase Falcon Franklin still means something in St. George, tucked away in the far southern extremity of the has-been, never was, old and glorious failed nation. St. George was the last of the three N.R.D.D. major metropolises to agree to the Great Basin Treaty. It held out to the end. Falcon Franklin is still a hero here, held in no less esteem than Lost Cause ex-Confederates regarded General Lee after the war. Ben spent a week in town, gratis, being feted by the remaining four sister organizations of the former N.R.D.D. He stayed at the Secretary of State's house, Brownson "BB gun LOL JK" McMichael. McMichael's eldest daughter made Ben peach-banana chocolate chip waffles, doused with syrup and honey and thin-sliced almonds, with fresh blueberries and raspberries on top, four mornings in a row. When Ben left St. George, he drove south into Arizona, east on I-40, and took a left at Chambers, AZ heading north until he reached Many Farms, Apache County, AZ. He had just about made it.
Many Farms, Dá'ák'eh Halání in Navajo, is affectionately (and uncreatively) called "the Farm" by the ESSNWNAU-AL community. ESSNWNAU-AL doesn't have branch campuses, but this as close as it gets. Admitted students are gifted a two-day spa retreat in Many Farms. This includes full body hot rock massage, three hour guaranteed to make your skin pruny baths (callous scraping pumice stone use highly recommended), free haircuts, finger and toe nail clipping, experimental athlete's foot treatments, shampoo and conditioner head-rubbing services, manicures and pedicures, and a wide variety of fine foods and drinks largely unknown to locals or anyone.
This pampered treatment is meant to be a Mardi Gras, as the Pre-Novice Beginner's Guide to a life at ESSNWNAU-AL21 puts it, before the "Sojournic Traverse"22 from Many Farms to the ESSNWNAU-AL campus. Students, upon completing the two-day retreat, are required to walk the remaining few hundred miles, barefoot, from Many Farms to ESSNWNAU-AL's campus—a formerly unincorporated area of a thought lost part of the sun-scorched, scorpion filled desert now called Sky Desert Outpost which could take a traveler a few months to complete, depending on a wide berth adjusting for physical capability, pain tolerance, weight to speed ratios, availability of food and water, and daily sleep requirements. ESSNWNAU-AL staff drives students' cars onto campus for them.
Ben, two hours plus into a pumice soak, decided to get down pat ESSNWNAU-AL's history and requirements from Schliemann's last letter to the present day. He grabbed his copy of the Pre-Novice Beginner's Guide off a towel lying on top of the vanity by the bathtub. The heat and steam had warped the thin paperback volume a little. Thankfully, it was still readable.
Aeneas Ibañez23 followed Schliemann's requests to the letter of the law. The money his friend had bequeathed him was indeed a considerable sum. One percent of which had made Ibañez's an overnight multi-millionaire. He got to work fast, purchasing vast tracts of land, formulating blueprints, hiring workers. He was making Schliemann's vision a practical reality. In the summer of SCE 1950, five years after the last letter, Ibañez and his associates were ready to begin accepting applications for the first incoming class: the fall of SCE 1951.
ESSNWNAU-AL's first class was modest. It consisted of five students, all men, all New Mexicans. It was a strange thing, a campus in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere, a town unto itself, 4,000 acres on which stood 23 state-of-the-art buildings run by a staff of more than 100 workers and a faculty of 31 professors; all for five students. But that's how Schliemann wanted it. When the gates opened it was to be a true opening night, no expenses spared.
Ten years later, the student population had increased to 173; still all men, but now representing 34 states and four foreign countries.24 It was about this time, circa SCE 1960, that ESSNWNAU-AL really became what is it today. There were enough students to run the curriculum the way Schliemann had envisioned. The mold set at this time has remained consistent up to the present day. The final project was, is and always will be the school's raison d'être. Getting to the final project, the multi-faceted nexus of a six-year curriculum, what Ibañez told an interviewer was equivalent to a PhD at a standard university, was critically important.
Free course selection is key. Students design their own curriculum. The only requirement is that they must take the seven core courses. Athletic Perfectionism (AP), Wilderness Survival, Oratory and Writing (O & W), Human History, The Rudiments of Dog Poetry, General and Special Sciences, and the most important course at ESSNWNAU-AL, the one most closely aligned with the final project, Trends in Consumerism, Capitalism and Need-Creation in the Affluent Peoples of the Euro-American West (CCCP26). The following is a brief note on each offering.
1. Athletic Perfectionism (5 sections: Year I-V, w/qualifiable Year VI Elite Class Physical Freak-Show Specimen Training). Schliemann placed a high premium on physical fitness. All first year students had to prove that they could run a mile in under eight minutes, bench press 100 pounds ten times, do 25 push-ups in three minutes and touch eight foot-five from a vertical jump. Simple? Maybe. But the physical test was, and has remained, the number one cause of first year dismissal. Save for a physical disability exemption, there are no exceptions to the above requirements. (In the case of a physical disability students must demonstrate proficiency in a "mental sport," chess being one example). Any students unable to meet the standard have one opportunity to try again. Failure is a ticket home. Years II and III test students in sprints (60y and 100m), broad jump and various Olympic movements; this continues, with slight modifications, into Year IV. In order to advance to the Year VI Elite Class, candidates must be able to complete at least three of the following eight tasks: dunk a basketball on a ten foot hoop, deadlift 405 pounds, bench press 225 pounds a minimum of seven times, broad jump ten feet, throw a football 50 yards in the air, run a sub-five minute mile, register a sub 11.30 100-meter sprint, complete a marathon in under three hours. If a candidate can complete five or more, he/she is awarded the status of "budding professional athlete" (BPA) and granted an up-front bonus of $14,000 with a bi-weekly stipend of $507.07 for their remaining time on campus. ESSNWNAU-AL is not a part of the NCPAA, the NJCAA, or the NAIA and therefore needn't worry about compromising the amateur classification of their athletes (though irrelevant pursuant to the first). The school does not compete at all. The sports curriculum is solely dedicated to training and preparation. BPAs are the lone ESSNWNAU-AL students who have the option to change their final project to "professional sports For BPAs and any Year VI Elite Specimens, the final year is spent predominantly on honing one's athletic specialty in sport-specific exercises. Since SCE 1961, the school has produced athletes who have competed in MLB, the NFL, the NBA, professional soccer (abroad in the EPL and La Liga, domestically in the MLS and NWSL), the ATP Tour and the WTA, and have garnered a total of 31 Olympic medals (9 gold).
2. Wilderness Survival (3 sections: Year I, II, III). Final projects are gambles. In the off chance, rather the likelihood, that one does not reap a financial windfall a person needs to be able to fend for themselves. Wilderness Survival is broadly defined. It includes not just what is usually meant by the term, but also farm-country rural, suburbia, and urban landscapes. In Year I students learn how to start a fire, which berries to eat and which to discard, how to use eucalyptus as a type of soap when bathing in cold rivers, and how to properly roast marshmallows, especially relative to s'more construction. Year II is dedicated to "self-defense in the wild; beasts, (hill) billies, and bivouacs gone bad Year III focuses on the pitfalls of the Great American City; the classic scenario being what to do if one finds oneself suffering from intense dehydration in New York City, more specifically in Queens, or even near the Brooklyn Bridge, and brother, it's time to drink your own urine or say bye-bye.
3. Oratory and Writing (2 sections: Year V, VI). This class is for final polishing. How are you going to sell your final project? It is critically important to be able to create literature promoting your work but it is just as necessary to be able to convey the message, meaning sell the product, by word of mouth. Students study a veritable cornucopia of some of history's most famous speeches. Afterwards, they try to imitate the style, to see what techniques suit them best. The list includes, but is not restricted to, Pericles' Funeral Oration, Socrates' Apology, Cicero's Catiline Orations, Henry's Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, (T.) Roosevelt's Duties of American Citizenship, Churchill's We Shall Fight on the Beaches, Gandhi's Quit India, JFK's Inaugural, King's I Have a Dream, Williams' On the Colonization of Mars, and Frapprick's Humans and Mankind.
4. Human History (4 sections: Year 1, II, III, VI). Years I and II are strictly timelines and memorization. Students learn a world chronology from Sumer to the present day. Year III is for filling in the above with analysis and interpretation. Year VI was designed to mimic a graduate level seminar/colloquium at standard universities. These students take beginner and advanced Historiography, Advanced Research and Methods (including a 45+ page final paper that must be 80 per cent primary source based and contain a minimum of 200 footnotes), and specialize in one of the following fields: Early U.S., Modern U.S., Early Modern Europe, Modern Europe, Postmodern Europe and U.S., Modern Asia and Oceana, Africa, Colonial and post-colonial Africa, pre-European Mesoamerica, Latin America from Simón Bolívar onward, Japan: Island Nation, The Vast Sum of China and its Influence. Subspecialty "nodes, " or lenses, are then applied to the chosen field. These include military history, social history, gender history, Theological/Philosophical history, political history, Classics, Hermeneutics, and Societal Whirlpool. The final node treats issues of race, racism, sexuality, sexism, ageism, individual expression and self-identification, protest manifestations, crime and punishment, discipline and punish, hidden transcripts and the wages of whiteness.
5. The Rudiments of Dog Poetry (1 section: Year I). Simply put, ESSNWNAU-AL's most challenging class. There's an old adage that if one can sell ice to an Eskimo that person is a great salesman. But if a person can teach a dog to not only be interested in poetry—with the implication then being that A. he can communicate with dogs B. he has somehow jumped over presumed impregnable walls of evolution and taught a dog to think and express himself like a human—but to produce original work in the genre, he, the person, serving as the dog's literary agent and editor, then the sky has become a poor indicator of limits.
6. General and Specialty Sciences (3 sections: Year I, II, V). The first two years are introductory courses in general mathematics, biology, geology, physics, chemistry, kinesiology, psychology, immunology and the foundational principles of engineering. Year V students take advanced courses in material, chemical, and civil engineering, theoretical physics, homeopathic medicine (which Ibañez wanted to be roughly equivalent to the first year of a D.O. residency) and landscape architecture.
7. CCCP (6 sections: Year I-IV). The only class that students are required to take every year. Years I and II are spent in observational study. Students study documentary videos on the psychology of want, beginning with the film Toddlers Fighting Over Toys.27 Nine boys and girls, aged two to four, are placed in a room with 36 toys scattered over the floor. There are enough toys for each child to have four all to themselves. Inevitably, the children fight over two or three toys. An ESSNWNAU-AL instructor enters the movie every 20 minutes or so, picking up and playing with a toy no one has touched. He leaves and the children fight over this toy. The first two years are spent poring over basic examples of human desire, jealousy, and possessiveness, the thesis being that adult consumers are nothing more than impulse-driven toddlers. These impulses, ESSNWNAU-AL instructors drill into the students over and over again, are to be encouraged. There is no better way to sell your final project than to market it in a way where potential buyers need to have it as badly as the two-year old who didn't like the shiny red fire truck, didn't in fact notice it all, but now that Tommy is playing with it he will scream and cry and bang his head off the floor repeatedly yelling "oweeeee" until he has it. Year III is exclusively dedicated to an intense, and comprehensive, course in the 21st century phenomenon known as "Fandom Fandom reached its apex (or nadir) between the years SCE 2000 to 2024. Now identified as a serious mental illness causing those oppressed to suffer intense manifestations of voyeurism, vicarious living, Napoleon complex, insomnia, bipolar depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, it dominantly presented as the afflicted spending entire Sundays on couches dressed in football gear with faces painted team colors while watching 11 games on six different televisions, sometimes none of these games including the face-painted fanatic's favorite team, he watching for the sole purpose of something called "fantasy football" while drowned in Cheetos and a twelfth lite beer (one that tastes like cat piss) by two P.M. spurred on to the chips and the beer and the beef jerky by scantly clad women telling men like him to pop another top because that's what real men do, all the while not hearing his son ask him three times if he wants to go outside and play catch until finally hearing him, the fourth time, and responding, "Not now, dammit! This is what I wait all week for!" and then to his ex-wife elect, "where's that pizza!" ESSNWNAU-AL instructors disclaim that, yes, this is a sad tale but, at the same time, if one can develop Fandom allegiance in the buyers of one's final product that's very good, for sales. Year IV is spent reading—Smith's Wealth of Nations, Marx's Das Kapital, Keynes' The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and Robinson's The Libertarian Don't Tread on Me I'm a Good Person even Though I Don't Care about the Poor and if you Do You're a Cuckservative Socialist Manual—and going into Albuquerque to do door-to-door practice runs. Practice runs as in on the job training in salesmanship. Trying to sell people ridiculous and useless products28 with the philosophy rooted in, "if you make a dog into a poet.. Years V and VI are dedicated solely to the final product.
ESSNWNAU-AL went co-ed in SCE 1987, the Pre-Novice Beginner's Guide proudly declares. That year, 63 women applied and were admitted. Today the school is still dominantly male, 68 percent, but more and more women enroll each year. Ben put down the Pre-Novice Beginner's Guide and got out of the bath, toweling off fast. A few weeks later, he arrived at ESSNWNAU-AL having completed the S.T. in above-average time.
Ben did not have a final project in mind. Like all first year students, he was introduced to Bimplingsley Carson's Finger induced Jumper Cables: By-procedural effects on the Human Nervous System (SCE 1992). Carson had been out of school for a while but his legend lives on. His work is still the standard of excellence for budding ESSNWNAU-AL scholars.
Carson wanted to discern the most sensitive spot on the human body. Countless hours of research yielded a hypothesis postulating the rib cage as most reactive to human touch. A lingering question remained. Why did so many people suffer from what he termed "daily complacency?" He noticed a majority of people sleepwalking through their day. They looked tired and bored, even indifferent. People needed a jolt; of energy, excitement, something to rouse them from their apathy. A incipient curiosity spawned from a casual observation turned into a full-blown obsession. Carson would attempt to cure daily complacency with intentional stimulation of the torso.
The process: Carson snuck up behind people and dug his fingers into their ribs, shaking vigorously. Reactions were largely uniform. At first, a scream of surprise. A jerking and spasmodic bodily contraction followed as the touch was absorbed then processed. Finally, anger. A brief moment of silence passed as the subject29 met eyes with Carson. Carson didn't wait around, breaking from the scene in full sprint.
"Hold him down! Grab his arm, get his arm!" Carson tried to shift his weight but to no avail. Three burly men pinned him immovable while a fourth, his subject, attempted to stuff a meatball up each nostril. Carson had cabled a man at the front of a bar who had three buddies in tow. This was one of the few times that Carson had failed to get away. He tried to run, but was unsuccessful. At putting meatballs up his nose, his subjects were not. They were not unsuccessful at jamming meatballs up his nose. What is meant here, getting down to brass tacks, is that they succeeded in shoving rolled up spicy Italian sausage meatballs into each of his nostrils forcing him to breathe out of his mouth.
Two innovations took Carson's work from patchwork project to marketable item. The first was a grading scale that measured the HNSI30 of each cabling; a cable glove, augmenting rapid finger propulsion through the ribs, came with the scale. Carson's subject list, exceeding 300 people, was impressive, yet unscientific as none of the participants were aware of the cabling until it was upon them. Accurate HNSI readings were evanescent. There was no doubt spontaneous cabling got the juices going. But accurate data analysis could only be gathered with volunteer subjects and a controlled, easily repeatable process (the second breakthrough).
Volunteers were no longer subjects but "patients A self-assessed happiness survey provided Carson with a baseline before he began experimentation. Carson had a patient sit, blindfolded, in a chair. He then let complete silence reign for an undetermined time before plunging his fidgety fingers full bore into the target area. Cabling was intense. One session could run as long as five minutes. Once completed, the HNSI scale came into play.
Readings ranged from 2-8, correlating to animal energy levels. A high score, 5 or above, meant that standard cabling was an effective treatment for daily complacency. The patient could purchase the product for $19.95. If one received a 4 reading, cable gloves were recommended to amplify the shock. The prescription for a sub 3 score was getting professional help for one's obstinate refusal to engage the surrounding, sensory world.
HNSI ENERGY SCALE
2- Big Lazy Torpid Bored Sloth
3- Overweight Underconditioned Sloth
5- Half Sloth/Half Banana Rabbit
6- Fast, but not overly agile, dog
7- American Freedom
8- Jack SoJickJackedJackson and/or Pete Peterson
Carson's project, marketed as Jumper Cables, became an academic and commercial success. His final patient list topped 500 people and most of his patients became loyal customers. Most of Carson's clientele was associated with ESSNWNAU-AL. Of the $4,200,560.77 he made in total sales, $3,655,210.19 came from students, faculty and alumni. Ben read Carson's work three times, cover to cover. He spent countless hours researching in the library archives. He contacted alumni to get their input on possible avenues. In his spare time, Ben could usually be found out in the desert.
SOMETIME DURING BEN'S 2ND YEAR AT ESSNWNAU-AL,
OUT IN THE DESERT
"How do you smoke cactus?" Treeler asks.
"C'mon," Ben says, "will you put that down
"He's right," Holmesly says, "we're almost there, y'all. Five minutes, map said. And I think we're fixin' be pretty close now
"You sure?" Ben asks.
"I think so
"You think if I wrap the pointies this way," Treeler asks, "down at the bottom—
"There it is!" Holmesly says. "Oh, boy. That's it!"
The three ESSNWNAU-AL students had been heading off campus into the desert for a few months now. The landscape was a tangy orange most of the time; a deep red when the sun was dipping below the horizon. Treeler had been at the school so long nobody counted the years anymore; no one knew exactly how old he was. His project had something to do with a Styrofoam cigarette casing into which you could put virtually anything, granted that it was finely ground first, and then when smoked it would taste like blueberries.
Mayberry Holmesly was from a small town in eastern Alabama. So small it was in between two other small towns, Gordo and Reform. It does not have a name. Locals simply call it "Town Mayberry was a second year student like Ben but seven years older. He had been a star football player in high school (at a private academy in Columbus, MS) who went on a full-ride to play quarterback down on the bayou. The story goes that Alabamans were hot under the collar that he turned down the hometown Tide to play for LSU and so waited, dreaming sweet dreams of schadenfreude, for the first LSU-Alabama game where the hometown hero turned traitor would flop on the big stage; and to their delight. It never came to that. During spring ball of Mayberry's freshman season Mike the Tiger, LSU's live tiger mascot, got loose from his cage and, in a story as peculiar as it rare, bit the signal-caller in a certain sensitive area, ending his career. "He's got me righ' in the pecans, boys," Mayberry told Ben, with a smile. "C'est la vie, righ'?" The local newspaper dedicated a headline piece to the incident.31
Ben, Treeler and Homesley had made it to a pile of rocks in the desert, guided by a map the Cactus-smoker had pilfered from ESSNWNAU-AL's museum, a map rumored to have been made by Schliemann himself. Reaching the rocks promised the emergence of a "desert mystic" who would lead seekers to an "oasis of buried treasure
"You sure this is it?" Treeler asks.
"Why you keep axin' me that?" Homesley says, agitated. "Thass the fourth time you axed me that
"Dunno, cause you're a stupid redneck southern hick, cuz...get it?" Treeler asks, a bad cough overpowering laughter as he nearly chokes on a billowy discharge. "The double cuz thing. You feel me?"
Ben takes the map from Homesley. "This is definitely it. Look," pointing down, "there's the trap door
Treeler laughs. "What the hell? This is insane, son! Crazy, bruh—cough, cough, smoke out, cough, dry vomit gagging.
Ben walks over to the door. He knocks. Moments later the hatch opens and a man wearing a brown robe and sandals emerges into the open air. "Peace be with you. Can I help you?"
Treeler laughs again, this time almost falling over. "What the hell! No way! What...are you serious, son? Is this a prank? Am I still high? Are you for real, dude?"
"Can I help you?" the man asks again. "My name is Brother Melchizedek
"Got any weed?" Treeler asks.
"I don't have drugs," the man says. "Is that what you came here for?"
"I beg ya pardon, suh," Mayberry says, "please excuse'ma friend hy-ere. We mean no botha
A few seconds of silence pass. "We have this map," Mayberry says, handing it over. "We's thought itbe fun, ya know, come out here, uh, look for—
"Treasure?" the man says.
"Uh," Mayberry's face goes bright red. "Yes, suh. I think we'll be-goin
"Any dope tho?" Treeler asks, again.
"I told you I don't have any drugs," the man says. "Not what you mean anyways. But if you come with me, I'll show you how you can get a special kind of drug. A drug that'll make you never need other drugs again. A supernatural drug, one that grants you life itself, eternal life, and unless you partake of this drug you will not have life within you
"I'm so sorra, again, for botherin' you, suh," Mayberry says, shifting his feet uncomfortably, "I do reckon we will—
"What?" Treeler says, his mouth open and licking his upper lip, calloused and encrusted in dried dead skin, ashen and white.
The man doesn't say more. Mayberry and Treeler leave. Ben stays. He's intrigued. Certainly just as confused as his friends, but intrigued. He follows the man in the brown robe down the hatch, under the desert floor.
Ben's final project searching had been fruitless until the day Professor Clayton Miller approached him in the school's Student Union. Miller was one of three faculty members that taught all the required core courses at ESSNWNAU-AL. Ben had attempted to register for Miller's lectures numerous times but, due to the professor's popularity, was unsuccessful. Instead, he took Miller's specialty, The Rudiments of Dog Poetry, with Professor Quandary McStarkVegas.
"Mind if I have a seat?" Miller asks.
Ben quickly swallows his food. He slides his backpack out of the way and stands to shake Miller's hand.
"Yes, of course. It's nice to meet you, Professor
"Likewise, Ben", Miller says. "I was wondering if you had decided upon a final project topic?"
"No, actually," Ben says. "I'd like to study baryonic dark matter in black holes. My problem is I have no idea how to translate that into a marketable product
"You know I'm a boss, right?" Miller asks.
"Looks, I am a stud," Miller says, his voice changing into a weird pitter-patter cadence reminiscent of Morse code. "Intelligence, check. Style? Yes. Do I know fashion? Yes. I'm an alpha male
Miller goes silent. The two stare at each other for at least five seconds.
"Yes, I agree," Ben says. "I've admired you for—
"Let's get down to business, Ben," Miller says, slouching forward, his cologne, like his reputation, strongly preceding him, smelling of parts turpentine, wet grizzly bear and greasy potato chips. "Dog poetry, are you in?"
"Uh," Ben says.
"Dog Poetry," Miller repeats. "I'm an expert and you don't have a topic. What do you think?"
Ben looks away for a brief moment. Before coming to ESSNWNAU-AL he wasn't even aware of the field's existence, save for his mother's edited volume of canine sonnets. Was he really just now seeing a connection? Was there a connection? He had always chalked the book up to another manifestation of his mother's eccentricities. Perhaps his lukewarm feeling towards Rudiments of Dog Poetry, and his lack of success in the class, could be attributed to Dr. McStarkVegas' teaching style.32
"Okay, I'm in," Ben says, forcing a smile. Why not? he thought to himself.
"Great, glad to hear it," Miller says. "We begin tomorrow
Ben arrived at Dr. Miller's office at 8:43 am in advance of the nine o'clock lesson. Miller was already there, dressed in a full-length white lab coat and sporting thick, clear goggles.
"Welcome, Ben," Miller says.
"Please have a seat. Do not speak until spoken to
Ben sat silently for six hours and 17 minutes before Miller finally said,
"You've passed your first test. You were on time and followed directions. Now please leave and return in exactly 345 hours and 19 minutes
"So a little over two weeks from now, a little past midnight, 12:19 AM?" Ben asks.
"If that's what that is then yeah, be here at that time
Ben was halfway through the door when Miller says, "Hey. Be there or be square
Ben nods. He takes two more steps before Miller says, "See you at high noon
"High noon?" Ben asks. "I thought it was 12:19 AM
"Yes," Miller says, snapping a pencil in frustration, "right. Dammit! That's what I meant. See you then
Over the next three years, the instruction continued every 345 hours and 19 minutes. The lessons followed a consistent pattern. Miller showed Ben how to do something while Ben took notes. Ben then attempted to do it himself, often failing a few times. By the end of a lesson, he had usually grasped the basic concept.
At this point Ben was free to go, but not before making Miller a cup of tea; with extra cream, a hint of honey, and fresh squeezed lemon juice on the side, never mixed in. Sometimes Miller made Ben put a bib on him and spoon-feed him the tea while whispering the power of positive thinking thoughts into his ear from close proximity. You're special. The world couldn't go on with you. Whatever you want, you can have; you're the best, my boy. Whilst Miller sipped his tea he broke into song, the same song every time: There's a buzz buzz buzz in the meadow, there's a buzz buzz buzz in the trees, there's a buzz buzz buzz in the flowers, we're so busy being buzzy bees! We're busy buzzing with Buzzbee! Ben found it all very demeaning and absurd. Nonetheless, he accepted it as the necessary component of his training Miller assured him it it was.
Ben's final project was entitled Quelques Mots Par des Chiens. Miller suggested French to imply sophistication. No one could match the originality of Carson's Jumper Cables thesis, but Ben wasn't far behind. Dog Poetry had been done before but the poems were descriptive, about dogs. Ben's work was poetry by dogs. Listening intently to the deepest longings of the canine heart, Ben would serve as their agent, bringing the dog's voice to the ears of the people. Ben graduated from ESSNWNAU-AL fifth in a class of 329 students. Quelques Mots Par des Chiens was published by the school's press.33
Ben's project was not lucrative. He made a grand total of $534.88 (not counting later independent publications). The money was gone immediately, used to clean out printing fees and other assorted fines he had accumulated while in school. Ben was naturally disappointed. A typical project was usually good for, at minimum, a few thousand dollars in public sales. Johnny Porto, Ben's classmate, earned over $6,000 on a syrup invention that made a cup of tea taste like hot chocolate.34
Following the commencement ceremony, and some serious partying, Ben headed back to Moscow, Idaho. His parents were kind to him. They were happy to have him home. The following is a record of his post-graduate employment.
Benjamin Gert de Gopher-Bonk Saoirseson von TyVole
Graduated from East Southwestern South Northeastern West North American University of the Arts and Logic, Sky Desert Outpost, New Mexico, USA. Book, Quelques Mots par Des Chiens, published by ESSNWNAU-AL press. Graduated 5th in class,
GPA 9.3/4.0 scale.
1. Custodian at Moscow High School. Fired.
2. Accepted into Cal-Berkeley graduate school with a concentration in physics. Application—in particular the essay and test scores—so impressive the school offers him a dual research and teaching scholarship and a position as an undergraduate instructor for freshman courses. Did not enroll.
3. Coffee Barista. Fired.
4. Submits 14,237 dog poems to various journals and mainstream magazines. 493 accepted for publication. Net earnings: $2,591.00. Receives $2,000 from The New Yorker for a five-poem feature entitled "Pawprints on the Thorax: Reflections on one Rottweiler's Insatiable desire for Homosapien Accolades Simon & Schuster UK approaches him about an anthology. They offer Ben a six-figure advance. Ben decides not to go through with the project out of fears of being typecast as a dog poet. "That's not what I want my legacy to be He also opines, "you think Ezra Pound would do something like this?" Retires from dog poetry for good.
5. Bartender. Fired.
6. Offered full professorship at ESSNWNAU-AL. Starting salary in the range of $100,310-105,600. Decides not to take the job citing the need for "some distance" from ESSNWNAU-AL.
NOW, THE CHRONOLOGICAL PRESENT
Ben is sitting at home playing chess against himself. He can't use the four-move checkmate35 he always attempts against opponents against himself. Ben has found it to be devastatingly effective. Ending the game right away, in that way, is just good old fashioned fun. Especially having courtside seats to the utter humiliation of the opponent who beforehand said "no, I'm not really good at chess; don't play much," (with that arrogant twinkle in the eye betraying an endless reserve of false modesty) but actually did think he was good, very good, only to have a four-move two by four to the back of the head showing him in plain language, or upon a flashing neon sign, YOU SUCK.
The phone rings. It is Clayton Miller, again. This time there is no problem with the connection.
"Ben, how are you?" Miller asks.
"Alright. How are you?" Ben replies.
"Let me cut to the chase. What do you think about coming to work for my company?"
"Look, professor, if it's something to do with dog poetry, I gotta be hone…
Miller cuts him off. "No, I'm done with that. I'm all about oranges now
"Yes, my company is called Orange Organizers. It's located in Nampa, up in your neck of the woods
"You're in Idaho now?" Ben asks, surprised.
"No. My business is. I manage it all remotely. I'm busy with a lot of stuff, you know? Remember what I told you the first day we met, about how boss I am? Now I am literally a boss. "
Ben is unsure of what to say.
"Ben, you still there?" Miller asks.
"I can hook you up with a job, what do you think?"
Ben exhales. "Okay, yes. What do I do?"
"That's great to hear!" Miller says, noticeably excited. "I'll send you an email with all the info and you can take it from there. Do you still use your ESSNWNAU-AL account?"
"Okay, great. Welcome to the company!"
Working for Orange Organizers has become Ben's best career move to date. Upon arriving in Nampa he found his uniform (gray button down shirt and gray slacks with the company logo, an oversized orange, printed on the left breast pocket of the shirt) laid out and waiting. The staff was welcoming and friendly. He began work immediately.
Ben, wisely, tried waiting before putting down roots in Nampa. But two weeks into the job it seemed that he might finally be employed for the long haul. Mr. —,36 his boss, had complimented Ben a few times on his punctuality and professionalism and Bevin, the floor manager, was consistently nice. Pat Trollyrider, a high school classmate and baseball teammate, happened to be attending college at nearby Northwest Nazarene University. He happily broke his lease and moved in with Ben.
Thanksgiving rolled around and Ben had been an Orange Organizers' employee for over two months. He was making good money. He genuinely liked his job and his confidence was sky high. The family's annual Thanksgiving get together was being held in nearby Boise, at Steve and Susie's house, and Ben was determined to make an impression. He got a haircut and bought some new clothes. It was just the right outfit that said late autumn, golden-red falling leaves, turkey, corn and family fun without saying a word. A light purple tuxedo with a flat brimmed black top hat and a Candy cane colored walking cane.
1. An excerpt (chapter one) of the novel Job Search, an absurdist work set in an unspecified American future, equipped with purposely distractive, narrative disjointing footnotes. The book makes commentary on religion, philosophy, academic freedom, sports culture, the "American dream" and the interplay between free will and cultural value.
2. Andrew Jackson's election in 1829 began, in Ben's father's opinion, the "dark period" of Uncouth Hillbilly Tyrannical-Populism that betrayed the Founders' original design leaving him, and a select few of the CCA hierarchy, custodians of said design and tradition.
3. Ben's father's work at the Honeybee Institute has recently come under intense scrutiny with some arguing that the organization's very existence is a violation of the Great Basin Peace Treaty.
4. K. Jasper Romney, "What do Patrick Henry, Robin Hood, Robert E. Lee and Spartacus have in common? The curious tale of the rise and fall of Dr. ***** Genl. Increase Falcon Franklin," The Salt Lake Tribune,…date illegible…Sect…illegible, A6.
5. New Republic of Deseret and Dixie. The southern part of Utah, St. George the major city in the area, is known as "Utah's Dixie."
6. Fear of, respectively: youth/teenagers, myths, theology, being laughed at, expressing opinions/receiving praise, making decisions, and (severe) fear of nuclear weapons making it hard for one to travel/leave one's house causing feelings of entrapment.
7. There was an incident in Steve's youth when mom, in protestation of the Little League giving out of trophies and keeping score, threatened to pull Steve out of the league while dad said if she followed through he'd wire "Boise delenda est" ASAP to those with the power to make it happen. (He mentioned a man name Yevgeny who was the aforementioned "power to make it happen").
8. Erdiddie Aloysius Davis, PhD, M.D., D.O., J.D., MBA, POS, Humanity's Search for the Dreamscape: The Proto-Existential Longing for the Sub-Conscious Reflexive (New York: Knopf, 3 Vols. No Date listed), Vol I., 433.
9. Davis, Humanity's Search for the Dreamscape, Vol. 3, 819.
10. Pronounced "Ess-wall" or "S-wall" for short.
11. ESSNWNAU-AL's school motto, conspicuously stamped on recruiting brochures and visible all around campus.
12. What with the Revolutions of 1820, 1830, and 1848; the repeated failures of stateless Poland to regain any pre-partition boundaries on a map, attempts ruthlessly crushed by the Russians; the Crimean War; Mazzini and Garibaldi's mid-century republican Risorgimento; Prussia's triumph over Austria, settling the German Question, and its obliteration of France five years later birthing Bismarck's Germany; the Eastern Crisis of the 1870s, the assassination of Alexander I in 1881, and, an internal fight waged across the sea in former colonies coming into maturity the causes of which are still debated today and the effects of which are still being felt, asserted and challenged, revised, resuscitated, and now, it seems, certainly since the centenary following the actual event codified into one, clean and cohesive narrative that is taught to schoolchildren and sidewalk, weekend-warrior wannabe historians alike as the sole and authoritative narrative of everything and anything to do with it.
13. Secular Common Era.
14. Karl was a prolific and diverse writer, completing the following works during his seven year Montana cabin period. He wrote exclusively in English, foreswearing never again to even speak his native language if possible. His publications:
In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark: A European Perspective on the Way out West (1936)
The Origins of the Great War in Europe: A Historical Criticism (1936)
Distributism as the Ideal Economic System? An explanation, evaluation, and verdict (1936).
Hunting in the Northwestern United States (1937)
The Many Adventures of Red Miller: American Hero, a novel (1937)
The Germanic People and the Roots of Ideological Extremism (1938)
Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson: A European Expatriate Comments on the Greatest Sport Yet known to Man (1938)
France and the Failure of Versailles (1939)
Flora and Fauna of Flathead Lake and the Surrounding Vicinity of Northwest Montana (1939)
Red Miller: I told you good boys mind their own business, a novel (1939)
Self-Destructive, Death-Loving Man: Plunging into the Abyss once More (1941). Includes the famous paragraph quoted ad naseum today: "And you could have stopped him, France. But one word. No, you may not have that, no, thence you cannot go. Should you so violate the terms of the agreement we shall reduce you to rubble. Where were you America? Where were you in 1935, in 1936, where were you three years ago? What is left of Wilson's idealism? What new horrors, what horrendous sufferings shall now befall us?" p. 343.
15. Available to researchers at the Renne Library in Bozeman, on the campus of Montana State University. Karl Schliemann, "Flathead Journal, 1935-1942," in Special Collections, Twentieth Century SCE Europeans, Box 22, C19.
16. Schliemann, Flathead Journal, 26 July 1937, p. 98.
17. Karl's favorite was a Tripel that had a golden, almost honey type color with a creamy, rich head that would sit at the top of the mug for ten minutes undisturbed before beginning to dissipate.
18. A standard baseball weighs 5 oz.
19. Reached on January 8th, 1942, a day with four inches of snow on the ground and the weather well below freezing. (Schliemann Journal, January 8, 1942, 357).
20. Charles Hillinger, "Life on the 'Loneliest Road': 287-Mile Stretch of U.S. 50 Is America Minus Tourist Traps," Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1986.
21. The Completed and Unabridged Pre-Novice Beginner's Guide to a life at ESSNWNAU-AL, Aeneas Ibañez, ed. (Sky Desert Outpost, NM: ESSNWNAU-AL Press, 1971).
22. The S.T. is the ESSNWNAU-AL version of an initiation/hazing. By the time one made it to Sky Desert Outpost he/she was one of the family, "one of us," that kind of thing.
23. Aeneas Ibañez (S.C.E. 1903-1974). Served as the first president of ESSNWNAU-AL (S.C.E. 1951-1970). Two buildings on the campus are named in his honor: The Ibañez Center for Citizenship and Duty Fulfillment and the Aeneas Ibañez Performance and Interpretive Arts and Athletics Studio and Recreation Facility. Students refer to the two buildings colloquially as "The ICC" and the "Ibby P," respectively.
24. Two students from Canada, (Montréal), two from the Netherlands, one from Sweden, three from Mexico.
25. Mark B. Petersen, "What's all the commotion about way out in the desert? A school, or a way of life?" The Albuquerque Journal, Special Profile, 26 August 1967, Section: Community, C28, 1-14.
26. The nickname CCCP, a faux-acronym of Consumerism Capitalism (Need) Creation (in the Affluent) Peoples is really a dual joke on the Cyrillic spelling of the U.S.S.R (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, S.C.E. 1922-1991) that waged what scholars once called a "Cold War," and now call "The Big Ideologo-Nuclear Game of Chicken Don't Flinch," with the United States between S.C.E 1945/49—1991. A dual joke because S.C.E 1960-61 was the very height of The Big Ideologo-Nuclear Game of Chicken Don't Flinch and so it was funny to name your school's most important course after your nation's mortal enemy and, the more sophisticated joke being the second, that while the final project and the CCCP course were both designed to identify and exploit trends in capitalism for profit, both the project and the course were products of 100% undiluted capitalism, whereas the real CCCP held to/enforced at the point of a gun/tanks an economic model diametrically opposed.
27. Toddlers Fighting Over Toys. Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 4 hrs. 22m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release. Tags: EDUCATIONAL, PSYCHOLOGY, HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES. Additional first and second year titles listed below, list not exhaustive.
Man in Full Khaki Outfit Tries to Convince Passersby's This is His Real Skin. Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 1 hr. 50m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release. Tags: HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, TRUTH TELLING IDENTIFICATION STUDIES.
The Last Stand of David Gopher-Bonk. Drama (Short). 35mm film; color w/sound; 0 hr. 22 m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Regional Release. Tags: DRAMA. Notes: A socially limited savant who can speak with animals—and is 6'9 and of a puritanical bent concerning bad language, literally saying "expletive deleted" in place of any and all profanity, e.g.: "What the expletive deleted are you talking about?"—imports a boatload of Minnesota golden gophers (each branded with "Land of 10,000 lakes") to his house in rural Montana, changes his surname from Fredericks to Gopher-Bonk (bonk is translated as "leader" in their language, his new name literally "David Leader of Gophers"), and carries out his last stand in a clearing deep in the woods.
Rabbits Fighting Over Carrots. Documentary Feature. 35mm film; black and white silent; 17m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.) in partnership with Swedish Media Entertainment Distributions. Private release. Tags: EDUCATIONAL, PSYCHOLOGY, ANIMAL BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES.
You're dating Him? No, He's Mine, Girl. Girl You Cray. What? He's Seeing How Many Women? Documentary Feature, Adaptation of a Reality TV series. 35mm film; color w/ sound. 2 hrs. 10 m. Independent Production in partnership with ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Limited national release. Screened at Sundance Film Festival. Tags: ENTERTAINMENT, DRAMA, ROMANCE, INTRIGUE.
The Businesslike Professionalism of D.W. Cartwright. Dramatic Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 3 hr. 00 m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). National Release ("Summer Blockbuster"). Tags: DRAMA, SCIENCE FICTION. Notes: A young and precocious man (Stanford, Harvard Med.) inherits his grandfather's multinational, multi-billion-dollar corporation only to hold the title of CEO as a front for his real work: deep undercover "enforcer" missions for an unspecified shadow agency. The film pushes the envelope between the real and the robotic, and has much more in common with Capek's Rossum's Universal Robots than later, run of the mill artificial intelligence pics. Winner of Academy Award for Best Picture and nominated for 65 national and international accolades. Anson Josephs, actor in the title role, is winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor along with scores of other nominations. Following D.W. Cartwright, Josephs is reportedly offered the lead in five major motion pictures, only two of which he could accept do to scheduling conflicts.
Atacama: 100 hours, 9 people, 8 pillows, 7 gallons of water, 6 boxes of macaroni and cheese, 5 sticks of deer jerky, 4 flashlights, 3 boxes of matches, 2 walkie-talkies, 1 tent. Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 106 hrs. 12m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release, adapted from reality television show. Tags: HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, TRUTH TELLING IDENTIFICATION STUDIES.
The Woman who lived Literally (for only a week, thankfully!). Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 2 hr. 26m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release. Tags: HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES Notes: A woman named Beverly Wyomissing spends one week of her life living with "perfect sincerity." E.g.: A cashier checking Bev out tells her, cheerily, that "those candies are so good you'd better eat the whole box before anyone gets a'hold of 'em." Bev does; right then and there in the store. Then she experiences some gastrointestinal discomfort. Cameras are there to film the happenings equally heart-rending, hilarious and sometimes downright hijinxical.
My name is whatever your name is. Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 1 hr. 47 m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release. Tags: HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, ANNOYANCE THRESHOLD STUDIES. Notes: A man tries to make as many first impressions as possible always letting the other person say their name first at which point he says, "Well, that happens to be my name too! Go figure." This has predictable results; fine when meeting someone named "Bill Smith" but harder when meeting "LaQuan Shuttleberry."
(Just) Laying Here Until they Tell me to Go (So don't mind me!). Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 7 hr. 40 m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release. Tags: EDUCATION, HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES. Note: A man sees how long he can lay out and sunbathe near the White House South Lawn before being removed by security.
Lucidity. Drama (Short) 35mm film; color w/sound; 0 hr. 17 m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Sundance Film Festival. Tags: DRAMA. Notes: A man from Council, Idaho has a recurring nightmare that begins with him in a cabin near a running river progressing to fingers playing rapidly on a piano and ends with a man attacking him with a ski pole while he sleeps. The action moves faster and faster until the only question remaining is, Is this a dream or is it actually happening?
A day of Three Responses to Everything; "No," "You betcha" "Please excuse me while I go check on that now." Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 1 hr. 21 m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). Private release. Tags: EDUCATION, HUMAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, ANNOYANCE THRESHOLD STUDIES.
I called five people and told them they had won the Lottery. It was a prank. Here's what happened next. Documentary Feature. 35mm film; color w/sound; 3 hrs. 51m. ESSNWNAU-AL Audio/Visual Productions (a division of Western University Films, Inc.). National and International release. Tags: PSYCHOLOGY, DRAMA, HUMAN INTEREST STORY. Multiple Award Winner including the L'Eil d'or Cannes Film Festival&—(nominated). Best Documentary Feature, Academy Awards—won.
28. A stringless tennis racket sold paired with a matching netless basketball rim; a belt with no holes; a half-eaten cheeseburger; used floss; complete disc sets of any sitcom produced between SCE 1990 and 2015; dirt; a seven-step, ten-week motivational program culminating in a ritualistic dousing of one's underwear in gasoline and setting match to boxers. This aimed at literalizing the maxim to "light a fire under yourself."
29. Carson had many names for people he cabled (his term for putting fingers into ribs and shaking) but subjects was the most common.
30. HNSI: Human Nervous System Impact.
31. Denver Maddox, "He Deserved It." Pickens County Herald. Sports, Section and Date Illegible.
32. Ben failed Rudiments of Dog Poetry with an "H" grade, numerically -34/100 pts. McStarkVegas gave every lecture in a language he invented—a four-part mix of French, Polish, Sanskrit, and Swamp bayou turkey-gator speak. McStarkVegas earned the top spot on a international magazine's ranking of "Professors who push the boundaries of academic freedom." No one has ever passed any of his classes. Actually there is one exception. A student by the name of Emily Williams-Davis-Fontenot Stevenson earned a C+ (77) due to a filibuster she gave, filibuster as final exam, when she seized the podium in McStarkVegas' class and didn't relent until 26 hours later, passing out from sleep deprivation catalyzed exhaustion and dehydration as she slumped to the floor, hitting her head on the podium on the way down. McStarkVegas, 73-year-old bachelor extraordinaire, revived the young woman with smelling salts he always kept on the inside of his elbow-patched jackets. When she came to, and asked, "Where am I?" McStarkVegas responded, in turkey-gator speak, "You're home, darling. My love. You're with Papa," before kissing her on the lips. Ms. Williams-Davis-Fontenot Stevenson, strapping and shapely 24-year-old bona-fide Scandinavian heritaged North American bombshell, and a real lady—she was apt to remind everyone around her, unprompted, that she was, in fact, a "true lady of the highest stripe,"—objected to being smooched by a "nasty, wrinkly grandpa," so the deposition states, and sued McStarkVegas and ESSNWNAU-AL for sexual harassment. The school settled with her out of court for an undisclosed sum. When asked about the incident McStarkVegas said, nodding his head slowly, and, surprisingly, in English: "It was worth it. I would do it again, a million times again. No question. My life is complete."
33. Benjamin Gert de Gopher-Bonk Saoirseson von TyVole, Quelques Mots Par des Chiens: Probing the Canine Vox Populi in the Halcyon days of Dog Poetry (Sky Desert Outpost, NM: ESSNWNAU-AL Press, no date listed), pps. 2,385.
34. Critics accuse Porto of simply pouring chocolate syrup into tea. He did very well selling his product in Mexico where he holds the sobriquet El Hombre del Baño*. A curious piece of ESSNWNAU-AL trivia links Porto's nickname to his lineage. Coincidentally, he received a similar title to the affectionate nickname of Aeneas Ibañez's youngest son, Porto's great, great etc. grandfather.
35. White pieces: Pawn to E-4. Queen to F-3. Bishop to C-4. Queen to F-7 (taking opposing pawn, F-7). Check mate.
36. Pronounced "easy-ranger."