The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for July 2007

Some Ostensibly Christmas-Themed Fiction

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Well, I’m writing this update early (normally I do ’em on Sundays) because I don’t know if I have time tomorrow and I’d rather get it over with. This is my last update before I go on vacation back home in Minnesota (ahhhh…), so after this you won’t hear from me until August. After I leave, there will be precious few guys in the Video Department for a while. Thursday and Friday, I was the only guy besides my boss in the office. VERY boring to just sit around at work, not having anyone to talk to. Everyone else is on vacation, and soon I will be too. Yessssssssss!

Nothing of note happened this week except that I got an iPod and I was in the kitchen for the fifth time in two weeks. Meh. Nothing grosser than piles and piles of shredded beef, refried beans, coconut, rice, peanut butter, ranch dressing, and other unmentionable, unsavory foodstuffs swirling around and getting clogged in the filter, requiring you to reach down THROUGH all that so as to pull out the filter and wipe it off. I feel like CinderFella.

Well, I think I shall use the rest of this update to give you the next section of my comic fable. Because it is a Christmas story, and because I generally start getting ready to celebrate Christmas as soon as July 4th is out of the way, I shall begin the new section with a cool Xmas-y picture.
PS: Due to extenuating circumstances, I cannot release any production pics from my Christmas movie until August, and there will be only one trailer. But it’ll be good, never fear.

Sir Sigmund Irving Capillary eased his stricken frame slowly onto another stricken frame, namely that of his armchair, which had been a wedding present from his third cousin all those miserable years ago. The chair had been purchased at the local Kingdom of Charity™ discount store (he had almost bought it himself two weeks before the wedding) and it was already threadbare when he had received it. Now, nearly seven decades later, the chair was a mass of cracked, ancient wood, peeling latex, and irregular lumps of solder. The chair had always threatened to collapse, and Senile Sir Sigmund had tried everything to keep it together, so to speak.
The chair creaked and groaned as Sir Sigmund rested his miserable, nasty body on the old chair. Many of the other knights in the province had asked why he still kept that chair, after all these years. “To remember,” he always told them, and they always nodded knowingly, but they really must have not known it that well, because they always kept asking later on, at which point Sir Sigmund would drive those annoying knights away by singing “Auld Lang Syne” in a minor key. Naturally, Sir Sigmund did not have many friends, but he didn’t care. He just liked to be alone with his nasty, miserable char, and remember.
After a minute or two of reclining on the ancient armchair, Sir Sigmund got bored. After another minute or two, he got up, picked up the chair, and threw it with all his might into the fireplace, where it smashed into an unrecognizable heap of latex and solder. The line of glass bottles on the mantelpiece quivered, and a satisfied smile flickered across Sigmund’s countenance. Remembering is so boring and stupid! I need a change of pace , he thought. He slowly hobbled over to the door and yelled out of it.
“Hey! Blair! Get your measly self inside this moment!”
In the distance, a shuffling pitter-patter could be heard, and in an instant, Blair Liverstone walked over the threshold, grinning weakly through his chapped, yellow lips. “Thou called me, Sir Sigmund?”
“Yup. Light a fire for me, will ya? It gets cold in here. And I’ll need a new chair, too.”
“Sounds good.” Blair walked over to the fireplace, took one of the bottles off the mantle and smashed it over the broken, twisted wreckage of the chair. He took a match out of his pocket and, after deftly scratching it across the sole of his foot, tossed it into the fireplace. Soon the room was filled with the cheery light of the blaze, and with the smell of burning latex, solder, and sixty-eight-year old vodka. Sir Sigmund looked with disapprobation at his young helper.
“What makes you think you can use those bottles of vodka for just any old fire?”
The wheezy wimp shrugged. “We’re all out of the regular ale. What else was I supposed to use?”    Sigmund’s face softened and he nodded sagely. “I suppose you’re right,” he said. After a moment, his face hardened again and his bony finger pointed at Blair in an even more vigorous display of disapprobation than before. “You still haven’t obtained me a new armchair. Hurry up!”
Blair sighed. Sir Sigmund never missed a chance to get angry with him, and he was getting fed up. Serving this senile guy is so boring and stupid! He thought. I need a change of pace. Maybe if I snuck out at midnight and took the express train to Montyshire… but his thoughts were interrupted by the harsh sound of Sigmund asking when dinner would be ready.
“Hey! Blair! When will dinner be ready?” Blair sighed again and started looking for that spare can of Spaghetti-Ohms®.

After dinner, Sir Sigmund stretched his shrivelled legs toward the fire and closed his eyes, listening to the crackling of the fire and letting his meal settle. His new chair, despite being fashioned from two old wine kegs and a slab of polished shale, was actually far more comfortable than his old one. Blair finished doing the dishes and pulled another keg close to the fire, and began warming his hands. It was now the middle of November, and the well water he had used for doing the dishes was very cold. Of course, it was not as bad as in winter, when the water would freeze and he would have to drop boulders down the well to break the ice. Once he had not been able to find any boulders, so he had grabbed a passing alley cat and chucked it down the well as hard as he could. It had worked fine, but the next summer he realized that he would have to dig a new well so they would have safe water to drink.
Now, his hands were cold and damp and he needed to work some feeling back into them, so he stretched his hands towards the fire and arched his back, listening to the CRACK! POP! SNAPPLE! of his vertebrae as they realigned themselves. In a few minutes, his hands were their old room-temperature selves again, and he sat back on his keg and looked at the old knight, whose eyes were opening again. Sir Sigmund looked at the fire for a few moments, then at Blair. Then he spoke, and what he said was the last thing Blair could have expected to hear from a man who had done nothing but remember for the last sixty-eight years.
“What ever happened to that old alley cat that used to hang around here?”
Blair knew from experience that he would have to answer honestly. That old knight could spot a lie a mile away. “I chucked it down the well last winter.”
“Is that why you dug the new well last summer?”
“Yup.”
Sigmund frowned in disapprobation. “You know I deprecate violence. Unless, of course, the cause is good.”
“I did it to break the ice at the bottom of the well. It was frozen.”
“Couldn’t you have used a boulder?”
“We were fresh out.”
“Well, that’s all right then.” Sir Sigmund looked at the fire again, and then spoke, and what he said was what Blair would have expected to hear from a man w
ho had done nothing but remember for the past sixty-eight years.
“I’m bored.”
Blair wanted to get up and scream, “ME TOO! I’VE BEEN BORED EVER SINCE MY FIRST LAME AFTERNOON IN THIS PLACE! LET’S BOOGIE ON DOWN TO THE MARKET-PLACE AND RUSTLE UP SOME PRINCE VALIANT COMICS!” but he had long since learned to restrain his selfish, spontaneous nature, so he merely replied, “Why?”
The ancient knight looked at him sharply. “Why shouldn’t I be bored? Nothing ever happens around here, except remembering, and I’m so fed up with remembering those terrible memories that I’ll go crazy if I don’t do something soon!”
Blair shrugged. “Do something? Like what?” The senile soldier looked at him with an icy, abstract chill in his eyes.
“Like Getting Revenge.”
Blair did a double take. “Revenge? I thought and old but incredibly experienced geezer like you would have gotten all the revenge you wanted years ago.”
“Nope.”
“Oh.” Blair thought a minute. “Like getting revenge on whom?”
Sigmund’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know. It could be anybody.”
Blair frowned. This wasn’t making sense. “Are you sure you’ve been drinking out of the right well?”
Sigmund glared at him. “I have all my wits about me, thanks.  I just don’t know who it was who wronged me all those miserable years ago. I would sort of like to know who it was. And give him what for.”
“What did he do to you?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Oh. Well, forget it then.”
Sir Sigmund looked at Blair sharply. “Be that way, then. Nevertheless, I want you to prepare for our journey tomorrow. It‘ll be a long quest and its cold out. Pack accordingly.”
Blair let out a cry of anguish. “Quest? But it must be all of twenty-four degrees outside! Where could you possibly want to go questing at this time of year?”
Sigmund’s lips opened wide in an anticipatory grin. “The Castle of Administration.” At this, Blair’s yellow, chapped lips opened wide as well, but not in an anticipatory grin. Rather, they parted in a scream of dismay that rippled through the cottage, thundered throughout the surrounding forest, and was even audible at the Navy Blue Forest Train Station four miles away.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

To be continued…


Written by Dave Dueck

July 14, 2007 at 5:18 pm

Posted in fiction, journal, photo

A Lengthy Update

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Currently Listening
Holst: The Planets
Jupiter

WHAT HO!! Dave here with yet another REPORT FROM CHICAGO!! I have gotten a fair amount of feedback from my last update, and having gone back and read it, I think I should have worded some things differently, so before I fill you in on the latest gory details of my life, let me clarify one or two things:

I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THE RULES. I’m just sick of having to pretend like I’m obeying them from the heart. I want to REALLY obey them from the heart. I HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE THE WAY GOD AND MY AUTHORITIES WANT ME TO BE. Just because I’m being “myself” it doesn’t give me the right to remain my stupid, sinning, old fleshly self. I want the REAL me to be someone who WANTS to obey, who WANTS to do the right thing. I’m continually changing as God gives me insight on personal blind spots and convicting me of areas of sin in my life. Make sense? I sure hope it didn’t sound like I was ranting on the rules, because that was never my intention at all. I have no antagonism against this place: if anything, I am extremely grateful to God for caring enough about me to put me in a place where I am being stretched so I can grow in Him. I was merely concerned that I was becoming a hypocrite myself, and because I had talked to some other people about it and we were getting sick of pretending. I know I have been wrong: *I* should be the one changing, not the Institute. I realize I could have worded that previous email better, but I hope this kind of clarifies things.

Anyhoo, my life last week was quite good. I got a goodly amount of work done, and the food was gooder than usual. I also did not starve to death, which was extremely good. In fact, I did the exact OPPOSITE of starving to death: I starved to life! (I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said that, I guess I’m in an unusually chipper mood this evening.)
I think I’m chipper because of the following:

1. I have just consumed an entire dinner, complete with dessert and coffee (a rare occurence indeed these days).
2. I am wearing my new pointy sleeping hat, made of red plaid with a very long tassel and a brass button in the front. (A gift from my loving fam).
3. It’s raining outside, and rain makes me very happy.
4. I get to go home on vacation a week from today!
5. My older sister is pregnant again and she’s coming to visit! (Personally, I hope it’s a girl!)
6. I am able to listen to my favorite Minnesotan classical radio station through iTunes and it makes me feel right at home.
7. I ordered an iPod and it’ll probably be here tomorrow (I never thought I’d get one, but what can you do? They have good salespersons).
8. I am back on track in my spiritual life! (Tell you in a minute.)
9. My life is AMAZING because my God is AWESOME!!!
10. My parents and family still love me!!
11. I’ve started posting segments of my fictional comedy story on my Xanga site and it’s getting mostly positive     reviews!
12. Etc.!

Well, basically, my spiritual life had kind of hit an all-time low because I fooled myself into thinking my relationship with God was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that I didn’t need to do any more. I thought that because I regularly looked up at the sky and said, “Hey, God” that He and I went along like Ham and Eggs. But such was not the case. Even as my proud and haughty conscience told me that I could do almost whatever I wanted, I never had devotions, I only rarely REALLY prayed, and my studies of Scripture went pfffft. I was beginning to feel bitter and depressed and solitary. For those of you who didn’t know me very well before last August, I used to be a very moody and solitary person. I basically wanted nothing to do with other people. My recent life had gotten to the point where I was becoming like that again, I was becoming hostile towards my authorities, I felt like God had forsaken me, and I didn’t like how I felt. In my pride I kept telling myself that my spiritual life was fine, that something else was the problem (maybe my authorities?), that it was my environment and surroundings that were cramping my style (or lack thereof). Then this morning, a whole lot changed.

This morning, my alarm went off and by some miracle I got out of bed ON TIME (cheers, explosions and fireworks)! Stumbling into the morning half-light of my living room, I wondered why I had gotten up. I had no food for breakfast, and I couldn’t see any “good” reason why I should attend staff meeting that morning. I was sorely tempted to hit the sack for a couple more hours, when I heard a clear voice say “Hey, read My book.” I can’t really explain it, but I was suddenly not very tired. After a moment’s search, I found my good ol’ Bible and opened to Psalm 9 and began reading it out loud as though acting (something that helps me better grasp the meaning of a verse). I soon came upon verse 10: “And they that know thy name shall put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Then the light went on! I felt forsaken simply because I had stopped seeking God! I was feeling empty because I thought that seeking God’s fulfillment was a one-time act, when I should have been doing it incessantly! No wonder I was feeling like sewage spiritually. Then I read in verse 20: “Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men.” I realized that I had no fear of the LORD like I used to have, that I was exalting myself WAY above my station. I had been believing that I had fulfilled my duties as a Christian, when in reality, there is NOTHING I can do to satisfy our Holy God. Heck, I’m not even a man! Just a highly immature boy! How could I have believed that I could even EXIST, let alone be blessed and smiled upon by a righteous, perfect savior, without doing a THING? So in the end, God convicted me of my pride and hypocrisy and I think I’m back on the right track. Now, here’s hoping I can stick the course! Please pray that I would continue to seek God’s strength and Wisdom: this is not a mistake I would care to duplicate.

In other news, I had quite a good weekend because my awesome brother Mark and my beautiful sisters Grace and Paige came to Chicago to go on the Journey to the Heart. I know now that it would have been possible for me to go with them, but due to some frustrating confusion I did not. But we got to spend most of the weekend together and on Saturday we all went to downtown Chicago to see the sights, namely, the famous Navy Pier, which is sort of like a concrete Boardwalk. I posted pictures of the trip on my Flickr account, which can be easily reached at http://www.flickr.com/photos/93323877@N00/. I have to say that we had a marvelous time, but you can see the pictures for yourself if you doubt me. It’s been really great to spend time with them: since leaving home I’ve grown to love my family in a way I never thought possible. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder or something, but now, instead of all of us fighting and hating each other’s entrails, we have fun together and we’re best friends! Talk about cool!

My siblings will be returning next Sunday and we’ll all go home to Minnesota together for some really good vacation. I’ll be able to spend a week at my house, maybe sleep in my old room (small chance), and then go camping in the Great North for another week! I cannot WAIT! I’m really needing some vacation so I can unwind. But in the meantime, God’s been giving me plenty to do this week so far, and it’s only Monday! I only hope I will remain willing to hear His voice and respond obediently. I pray I will.

Well, I shall now Wrap this Up. Good night, beloved friends and family!! Sleep, work, eat, and play well!
Love ALL,

~Dave the 4th Dueck in Line for Top Dog in the Legacy

PS: Lemme know if you want I should post the next bit of my comic tale!

Written by Dave Dueck

July 9, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Posted in journal

Literature

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Currently Listening
Napoleon Dynamite
By John Swihart, Various Artists
Solamente una Vez

Well, as both a way to motivate me to keep working on this and as a way to see how people like it, I have decided to publish my work of fiction on my Ksanga. It’s an oddball comedy that makes no pretense at being realistic in any sense, so don’t come at it expecting much redeeming value. I just wanted to write a comedy, and this is how it’s turning out. It’s the first thing I’ve ever bothered writing for a larger audience, so lemme know what you think.

It’s called The Day After the Night Before That One Christmas and it’s a spoof/mock-fairy tale something along the lines of a Shrek comedy, only without crude humor. I’ve already written the first two chapters, plus a lengthy introduction. I’ll just publish the first section of the first chapter today, and release the rest in small increments as I see fit and as my public demands more (right). And if there’s enough demand, I might publish the intro!

Chapter One

The Rose Garden was starting to die. Oswald Tweed had begun to notice this. It made him a wee bit melancholy, which was understandable since he had hidden a magnificent treasure in those roses and he didn’t want anyone seeing it through the dead, leafless rose bushes. Why didn’t I think of that when I first hid those dumb but incredibly priceless jewels? He thought to himself. Crabs! Now I’ll have to find a new hiding place.

he prospect was not an agreeable one. In this modern day and age, hiding places for treasure were getting fewer and farther between. Oswald put the thought out of his mind and continued to throttle the sinewy young prince who had just discovered his true identity. It was not an easy thing to do, because the sinewy young prince was wriggling very hard and had a short but rather sharp sword in his grasp. I doubt if you have ever tried to choke a sinewy young prince who is wriggling and holding a sword, but if you have, you will remember the difficulty of trying to maintain a hold of his throat with both hands while keeping the sword blade as far from your vitals as possible. This is managed mainly by using one of your elbows to pin the prince’s swords arm to the brick path, but Oswald was having trouble doing this since he had no elbows. He was having to make do with his shoulder, which was bony enough to do the job, but because using his shoulder meant he had to basically lay down on one side in order to do it right, the sinewy young prince’s left arm was completely free and was currently in the process of drawing a short but rather sharp dagger from the young prince’s left boot.

Oswald thought fast. He had to make a tough decision: should he let go with one hand and stop the dagger from entering his larynx without permission, or should he choke harder and hope that his sinewy opponent became asphyxiated before he could drive his point home, so to speak? He chose the former option and gripped the prince’s left wrist as tightly as he could, and not a moment too late, either, because the prince was trying to kill him with that dagger! Oswald’s thin, attractive moustache was nearly inhaled as a cyclone of oxygen flooded into the sinewy fellow’s lungs, which I imagine were somewhat desperate after a good eleven minutes or so of being throttled.

For a moment, they were at an impasse. And, as so often happens when two people find themselves in an intellectual deadlock, they resorted to childish rhetoric. “Give up now!” cried the young prince. “Never!” replied the nefarious Oswald. “You shall regret this!” bellowed the prince. “See if I care!” roared Oswald. “Tell me where you hid those coupons!” the wiry nobleman persisted. “You’re a miserable, meddling, sinewy dunce!” cried the outraged, elbow-less, moustachioed villain. Something in the back of his mind told him that this did not sound quite right, but this was no time for useless quibbling. The important thing, he realized, was to finish this feisty fellow in the fastest, fiercest, and most furious manner he could manage. Then everybody would know who was the man.

Written by Dave Dueck

July 3, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Posted in fiction, regular

The Great Impersonation (or, the real Me)

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Currently Listening
Master and Commander
By Christopher Gordon, Richard Tognetti
La Boccherini la Musica Notturna Delle Strade Di Madrid No. 6, Op. 30

Only at a LAN party do Nacho Doritos and Chocolate Chip Cookies taste good in the same mouthful.

Profound thoughts like this occur only rarely while playing video games, so I am perhaps lucky that I stumbled upon this important truth on Friday night as the HQ guys gathered once again for food, fellowship, and all-out digital conflict. It was the first time I’d seriously played a computer game in several months, but I was glad to see that my digits had lost none of their old skill. As is my custom, I brought my green polycarbonate martini glass and drank root beer in large amounts while I gamed merrily away, with the sounds of cyberspace war (and my private Chopin collection) ringing in my ear. But all was not fun and games that night: we had agreed that before we started playing games, we would watch an edifying, spiritually uplifting video, so as to make the evening profitable in at least one respect. We watched “American History in Black and White,” by David Barton. The video was about 1 hour 50 min. long, but it was quite educational as we learned how the Democrats have, throughout history, attempted to stifle civil rights for black people in the US. Perhaps, though, the video might have been even more enlightening had I not just finished two weeks’ worth of repeated attempts to edit a video by Mr. Barton which I had taped in Nashville in early June. By Friday, I was so sick of hearing David Barton’s voice that I was lulled into a fitful, confused slumber halfway through the video. I was promptly awakened about 40 minutes before it ended by a door slamming, and managed to stay awake for the remainder of the video. We then adjourned to the basement where the festivities began in earnest.

My week was special, too, in that my wonderful cousin, Joy Peterson, returned from her missions trip in Singapore and stayed in Chicago for a night and a day. Having nothing better to do, she accompanied me the Office on Wednesday where she lent incredible moral support as several of us video guys attempted to accomplish what the boss calls “work.” We had a great day together, had some wonderful long talks, and even managed to get a whole gaggle of girls to eat some of my orange peel at lunch (don’t worry, we ate our fair share, too). And then, after a good four days of traveling, she headed home to Florida for some MUCH needed rest and rehabilitation. I miss family.

Speaking of which, yet ANOTHER staff person is going home for good this week. Actually, make that two. Jamee Franklin (my adopted sister) and Heidi Friesen, two good sports who have been here ever since I can remember, are going home for good and leaving us with another bunch of replacement staff to get used to. Not that there’s anything wrong with the new staff, but it seems like just when I get to know someone really, really well, they leave. What makes life at HQ livable is the people, and when all your “old” friends start dropping like flies, it gets hard to readjust and move on. If things keep going at the rate they have been, then by August there will be almost no one left of the original HQ staff that was here when I arrived in January. When I first came here at 18, I was the youngest person here. Now, there are about 10 to 12 people under the age 17 mark, and things are totally different than they were five months ago.

The biggest difference is in the rules. In January, the staff consisted almost entirely of people age 20 and up. They were treated like the responsible adults that they are and were given some leeway as far as rules go. Now, younger people have filled the gaps left by our dearly departed, and because younger people chew gum, or don’t take as many notes, gum-chewing and note-taking rules have been enacted. Now, to be sure, there is nothing wrong with refraining from a chaw now and again, and there is everything to commend about taking diligent notes when someone is speaking, but the actual reasons behind the rules are what irritate me, because they are there merely to enhance the “appearance of the ministry.”

What I mean is this: IBLP is a Christian Ministry that relies heavily on the “bright countenances” (i.e. appearance) of its students and staff to prove to the world that the ministry’s way of life really works. Ideally, the staff and students have a good enough relationship with Jesus Christ where they appear bright and loving and selfless because they really ARE. But when rules are invented to force people to look the way they need to in order to get the message of the ministry across, then the sincerity of the ministry is lost and it all becomes a mere pretense. IBLP discourages watching movies. If I, as an avid movie-watcher and aspiring filmmaker, wish to successfully complete my year-long course at HQ, I have to pretend that I don’t like movies, or at least speak of them in hushed tones while looking over my shoulder. I find myself more and more wishing that things weren’t so surface-compliant around here. We’re always putting up a front, and when someone does something incredibly honest like acting who they REALLY are, eyebrows are raised in mock-surprise and people get sent home. If we would just be honest with ourselves, we would realize that if this ministry only employed people who are really like the ones we’re all pretending to be (in other words, sincere people who are everything the rules want them to be), then this ministry would be much, much smaller then it is, if not extinct.

Now, that’s not to say that the rules here are unfair or unjust or tyrannic or anything. I can obey them without a problem (I mean, did I chew gum habitually BEFORE they made a rule? No. So why sould I have a problem obeying the rules now?). All I’m saying is that whoever I am, I should be real, not just pretending. If I’m obeying the rules, I hope I’m obeying them from the heart, because I WANT to do right, not just because I HAVE to conform if I want to stay here.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m trying to become a more sincere person. I want my face value, the person everyone sees from the beginning, to be the REAL value, the REAL me, so they don’t have to strip away layers of pretense and hypocrisy to get to know me as a person, a person they’ll be shocked to find because he’s totally different then the me they THOUGHT they knew. My prayer right now is that with Dave Dueck, what people see is what they get, that I would totally be open and honest, in such a way that no one could look at me and say “You deceived me. You’re living a lie.” My only worry is that by being so sincere, I might break the carefully established IBLP/ATI mold and get sent home for not “conforming.” Which, by the way, is not something I want to do if it means more pretending, more hypocrisy. But if my conduct is truly upright, my heart clean before God, and nothing wrong in my conscience, and they still see fit to send me home, perhaps this isn’t the right place to be anyways.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer! I’ll be home in Minnesota for two weeks starting the 17th of July! I hope you all enjoy the 4th in an epic fashion!

Love all,
Dave Dueck

Written by Dave Dueck

July 1, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Posted in journal