Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Saturday, March 1 2003
Today marked the beginning of another one of our trips to visit the relatives down south. This time we'd be going particularly far south, because we'd be visiting my parents in Virginia. Since this was to be the first visit to my childhood home since moving into the huge Hurley house, I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity to move some of the many things in storage down there. So we took the truck, not the car.
The original plan had been for us to listen to some of Gretchen's favorite music so I could better decide what to include on a mix CD we'll be making as a party favor for wedding guests, but then it turned out that the tape deck in the truck didn't work. I'd never noticed before because I'd never tried to listen to anything except the radio until today.
So we ended up having to listen to the radio for the entirety of our seven hour drive. The only serious radio desert during the whole trip was on the leg of I-84 we took from Newburgh, New York west to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then southward some distance down I-81. Somewhere in there I-81 climbs up onto the Allegheny Plateau and, on this particular drive, this was responsible for our personal misery. The weather had unexpectedly deteriorated with an oncoming warm front. While it might have only been raining in the lowlands, up on the plateau it was snowing and this snow was sticking. Then came heavy blankets of fog which reduced our universe to milky-walled bubble. Traffic slowed to about 30 miles per hour. Consequently, the 100 miles from Scranton to Harrisburg took much longer than expected. The only thing that made the drive psychologically tolerable was public radio, or more particularly, A Prairie Home Companion, which, like Seinfeld, is a show whose appreciation I have gained with age. I was particularly entertained by the News from Lake Wobegon segment, which featured the story of a bus driver who drank and smoke while he drove, and how such people were tolerated back in simpler times (before folks began asking, "Will no one think of the children?").
Further down the highway, not far from Harrisburg, I remember looking out at the other cars hugging the road and thinking how lucky we humans are that nothing comes swooping out of the sky to pluck us from the Earth to carry us off and eat us. I could picture black hovercrafts snatching cars from the highway, tearing the vehicles in two and regarding their screaming occupants, soft and weak outside their flag-bedecked metallic shells, with the same cool disdain George W. Bush exhibited to creatures unfortunate enough to fall into his clutches back when he was a child. Then it occurred to me: maybe on some rare occasions some flying predatory beast does swoop down from the heavens to prey upon humans. After all, on the timescale of an ant's life, how often do children with stomping sneakers bring on microgeddon? But then again, unlike ants, we humans have history we can refer to, and aside from some poorly-substantiated myths and UFO stories, there is no solid evidence of ærial attackers. We humans have the luxury of ruling the surface without danger in the skies.
Towards the end of our drive, Gretchen was complaining about the discomfort of the ride: the noisiness of the truck, the cramps induced by having to ride half of the way with Sally the dog on her lap, and the shitty music choices available in Clear Channel Country.
Once we'd made it to our destination, we stayed up late in the kitchen talking and drinking wine with my mother Hoagie. My brother Don was fondling an action figure he'd recently bought using the broad market available through the internet. The figure was a woman, yes, a woman, dressed in green combat fatigues and holding a rifle. Don claimed she represented a Soviet sniper from the time of the Nazi invasion of Stalinist Russia. I remembered joking with Don once that he should put Barbie party dresses on his male action figures, and it appeared that he had done the inverse. The attention and tenderness he lavished upon the ten inch tall plastic figurine suggested an underlying sexual subtext.

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