May 2016

MINCH: Hi there, I’m Minch, and I’m the owner and proprietor of Minch’s Hot Yoda.

[External image of MINCH’S HOT YODA in the strip mall opposite Tanget]

MINCH: We offer a full slate of classes in the ancient exercise form of yoda, from beginners to experts. In a world that’s largely burned out on trendy yoga, our yoda classes offer the same dime-store philosophizing along with the ability to kick some serious ass.

[Video of MINCH’S HOT YODA students fighting each other with foam lightsabers, jumping about like grasshoppers and visibly sweating]

MINCH: Our lightsaber drills combined with Dagobah-hot temperatures guarantee that you’ll lose weight, gain strength in your core, and send your midichlorian count through the roof assuming you believe in that nonesense.

[Video of MINCH’S HOT YODA students stacking rocks and lifting X-Wings with pulleys]

MINCH: Whether you’re interested in the meditative, deliberate Puppet Yoda style or the hyperkinetic, unrealistic CGI Yoda style, Minch’s Hot Yoda has it! Darksiders need not apply. Open on the fourth, fifth, and sixth days of the week, since the others don’t count.

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The sanctum echoes with the sound of a million million children singing a wordless song. Many have tried to describe it, or to reproduce the melody.

All have failed.

They do say that it is by turns sad and joyous, happy and despondent. It is a song of soaring glee brought low by terrible sadness, and adversity conquered through the strength of joy. It is the song of all the innocents lost, and all the innocents saved, when they were at their most vulnerable and fragile.

Why the sanctum would contain such a sound is a great mystery, as the being said to be buried there is remembered as no friend to children, no friend to life.

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Sobbing, he held her limp body in the midst of the summoning circle. The daemon paced back and forth outside its protection, clutching his lapels like a salesman. Every move was feline in its easy, supple motions with menace coiled in wait for a lightning strike and barely contained.

“How will I know it’s really her?” he sobbed.

“How did you ever know what was really her before?” purred the daemon. “Does anyone really know another’s heart? Can they?”

“And…it’ll be like she never died?”

“Of course, of course,” said the daemon. “You’ll never know the difference until the day comes for the Darkfather to claim his prize, and she carves out your living heart to offer upon his black altar.”

The man sniffed. “A small price to pay. What about her, afterwards?”

“Why, I do believe that will be none of your concern,” the daemon replied. “Suffice it to say that it can’t be worse than her present predicament.”

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This is mostly hearsay from travelers who have lost their way in Naix or pilgrims who have returned alive from treks in the blasted wastes where the Creator died. But I feel like the essential parts must be true, as they line up well.

We call it the Dead Hand because it consists of five bodies of water radiating out from a central plateau. They might well be called lakes or seas because while they are quite large, if quite thin, they are salty. So salty, in fact, that nothing can survive in them and a few mouthfuls are fatal. Many a pilgrim, I imagine, has made it through the Naix wastes dying of thirst only to perish after a few bitter mouthfuls.

Around the fingers is a broken landscape rent through with canyons and gullies; all heading downhill, as the fingers lay at the lowert point of the basin. Thunderstorms in the highlands, the result of clouds from the sea breaking on their peaks, routinely send gouts of water through the canyons to carve them wider and deeper. Any unwary in them are drowned by the brief torrents.

There are wilder tales of the inner plateau, of nature behaving strangely and of impossible occurances, but anyone who has made it that far would be mad with thirst.

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Count von Blüdferatu had fallen somewhat from the 1300s when he had a Carpathian empire at his command, but he was doing all right for himself.

Living as an undercover vampire in a lovely flat.

It wasn’t glamorous, but it could be worse. Count von Blüdferatu could have suffered the fate of his cousin the Marquis de Suek–staked–or his old friend Baron Saugerblüd–head cut off with a silver sickle and stuffed with wolfsbane. Compared to that, living in a comfortable apartment and going out every other full moon to feed could have been a lot worse.

In order to keep up the facade of not drinking blood with a little lymph to taste, Count von Blüdferatu dropped in on his neighbors from time to time after sunset. He never fed on them, and in fact he counted on them to be his alibis.

This evening, he dropped in on the swarthy Italian who was cleaning out the old crêpe shop that had gone out of business after the Saudis flooded the market with cronuts in ’12.

“Greetings, friend,” said Count von Blüdferatu. “What sort of shop do yo plan to open here?”

“Oh, it’s an idea I’ve had forever now,” said the Italian brightly, “a bakery specializing in garlic bread!”

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INTERVIEWER: Cooter MacKnair, your fans everywhere are dying to know: why did you call your band Anus Kidney and the Macaroni Rocket?

MACKNAIR: Well, it’s a funny story, love. My mate Annie Dusky and I were talking one evening, yeah? Just jamming. And she was slamming the Guiness, really kicking it back, yeah? Coz it’s her muse. And I says to her, I says, “Annie, you’re going to pop a kidney soon and have a transplant.”

INTERVIEWER: Ann Dusky, your bass player and vocalist?

MACKNAIR: Natch. So Annie says to me, she says, “Cooter, I’d rather die than to have a big old nasty scar on me side like that.” Annie’s a lil bit needle-phobid, you see, otherwise I’ve have just said she could tat over the thing.

INTERVIEWER: Unlike you.

MACKNAIR: Cor, that’s right, you know I’ve got more ink than a squid with the trots. But anyway, I says to Annie, I says, “Well, they could go in through your bum, you know, with a long pair of tweezers and a lil camera and do it that way. Slip you a new kidney right up the back nine.”


MACKNAIR: Then Annie says to me, she says, “Cooter, don’t be mental. They couldn’t do that, they haven’t got the tools.” And then I says to her, I says, “Yes they do, they go in through a little hole all the time with a camera and whatnot.”

INTERVIEWER: Endoscopic surgery, I believe it’s called.

MACKNAIR: Yeah! So I told her that and Annie says, she says, “Well, even allowing for the possibility that they could, I’d die of sepsis from a ruptured colon if they tried to stuff a kidney up me bum!”

INTERVIEWER: And what did you say?

MACKNAIR: Well, I allowed that she was right, it’d be a real danger to life and bum. But I says to Annie, I says, “Even so, you have to allow it’s possible, love.” Maybe not easy, maybe really hard, maybe really dangerous. But she wouldn’t allow for it!

INTERVIEWER: Is this where the macaroni rocket comes in to play?

MACKNAIR: Cor, exactly. I says to Annie, I says, “It’s like a rocket made of macaroni. You could get it to the moon if you wanted. It’d be mental to do it, real hard and real expensive, but you could do it! Just like you could transplant a kidney through the bumhole.

INTERVIEWER: How, exactly, would a macaroni rocket work?

MACKNAIR: Well, you’d need to build it in orbit. Use a lot of the stuff. But if you gave it a rocket and some momentum in a vacuum, and it didn’t whang into a meteorite, it’d get there with time.

INTERVIEWER: And what did Annie say?

MACKNAIR: She said it’d be a good name for a rock band, love!

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CARL: This is Carl Drake, play-by-play commentator for NBS Broadcasting, coming at you live from the speaker’s podium at this beautiful commencement ceremony.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. This is Tom Hicks, color commentator for NBS Broadcasting, and it’s my honor to be the keynote speaker for this graduation along with my partner Carl.

CARL: Interesting that they chose to have both of us share the podium and a single speaking slot.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. People seem to assume that we’re some sort of composite organism like the podracer announcer from that godawful Star Wars movie rather than individuals with their own feelings and spouses and debts, figuring that we can split a podium and an honorarium.

CARL: And isn’t that really what brings us here today? You young people out there in the crowd are about to split, to take off those ridiculous wizard robes and move back in with your parents while you try to find the one place in the world that’s hiring art historians.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. I for one remember graduating from this university with a degree in broadcast journalism and looking forward to my first day as an anchor. Two months at KSUL filling in while Jennifer Chatham was on maternity leave for slave labor wages was enough to disabuse me of that notion.

CARL So let me send you forth today with this message: It’s okay to fail. Fail early, and fail often. Why, I bet that out of the three thousand of you before us less than half of you will find jobs in your major, fewer still if we cut out the business majors that will be handed family businesses to suander on a silver platter.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. Only by failing miserably at what you thought you wanted to do an you find a niche where your skills and qualifications will allow you work you can live with every day without the overwhelming urge to soul-kiss a Walther.

CARL For Tom and me, that’s sportscasting–using his broadcasting degree and my PhD in 19th-century British literature to form words that most people ignore in favor of live footage of men irreperably damaging their central nervous systems by using the human spinal column as a battering ram.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. I would go so far as to say that someone who has never failed is the true failure. It’s very meta, if you think about it.

CARL: So Tom and I charge you thusly: go forth and fail often and spectaculy. Try not to get anyone killed in the process. And eventually, with a little luck and a little skill, you may find yourself a vocation you can live with.

TOM: That’s right, Carl. A vocation that allows your tiny alma mater to invite you back as an ersatz commencement speaker after the preferred candidate backs out due to the passage of a bill by your idiot state legislature declaring that Muslims are banned from bathrooms statewide.

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Daniel “Colorado Dan” Upanishads took a deep breath and surveyed his yoga class.

Emmylou Richards’ lotus has wilted as she struggled to keep herself upright while giggling.

John Dushington’s downward-facing dog was chasing its tail as he repeatedly assumed the position only to fall flat and cry out that the force of gravity had it in for him.

Madison Jung’s leotard had slipped away and her half-moon had become a full moon.

Lance Wladziu’s crane was more of a backhoe, with him wheezing about on the floor in between plaintitive cries for burgers and chips.

“Hmm,” said Colorado Dan. “Maybe these Pot Yoga classes still have a few kinks to be worked out.”

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1:23 PM

555-3253 I’m in line for fried chicken

555-3253 They give you your drink up front but you have to wait for your bird

555-3253 Only place on campus serving hot food right now

555-3253 Line’s big enough for a congressman 😀

1:37 PM

555-3253 I hope you’ll bear with me on this epic journey of hope

1:49 PM

555-3253 We lost six men to a mama bear attack during the carpet crossing

1:56 PM

555-3253 I am looking up at the sun streaming through the windows as the ice melts silently in my soda pop

2:11 PM

555-3253 I grunt and pant in the carpeted wilderness. Only the wild animals around me reply.

2:19 PM

555-3253 I will have my vengeance

555-3253 I will track that chicken to the ends of the earth

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And then she cut the sky asunder with the Razor of Dawn, and the clouds fell by the wayside like so much shredded linen. The sword was dull, and its heavy silver metal would not have withstood even a single stroke in combat, but that was not its purpose.

The farmers rejoiced, for their drowning and soggy crops would now be saved by the healing light of the sun. She left the blade with the folk of that place, cautioning them to only use the Razor of Dawn when it was truly needed.

Naturally, that lasted less than a year. Soon, the weak-willed hands into which the blade had been put were cutting away thr clouds every winter’s day for a longer growing season and more pleasant weather. But without the winter snows, and without the spring rains, there was no water to feed the crops or the people.

Even after the farmers realized their mistake, it was too late. With so much sun, the soil dried out and was washed away by the spring rains that they allowed to fall. What little was left blew away in the windstorms that followed.

The Razor of Dawn itself was lost as the community dissolved, and the stranger that has bestowed it was never seen again.

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