The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for August 2007

An Update

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Currently Listening
Oceanic
By Vangelis
Bon Voyage

Hullo! Dave here. And I’m late, as usual, sorry. Excuses…

Where to begin? There’s not a whole lot to say about last week, and there’s actually quite a bit to say about the coming week, so I’ll try to strike a keen balance. Here goes:

Not much happened last week! I got stuck in the death throes of a diseased-but-struggling August, and got pretty depressed. Not in ways as extreme as they have been sometimes this last year, but ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WAS HAPPENING and there was NOWHERE for it to happen and NO ONE with whom for it to happen, if that makes any kind of sense. When one’s life consists of waking up, drinking coffee, working, scrounging for decent victuals, staying up too late, and going to bed NOT TIRED AT ALL, yet UNABLE to wake up the following day, things can get old very fast. Nevertheless, things are not as bad as they seem, and I am happy to say things are moving along at a proper pace. I can actually justify being at work now! Plenty of interviews to film, lots of equipment moving to do, etc. Today we even set up a green sheet to experiment with chroma-key effects! (For the uninitiated, “chroma key” refers to the process of replacing a certain /color/ in a video clip with another image. It is the technique used for weather images on TV.) It was really cool.

On Saturday, me and Peter and Eric biked quite a ways to a huge, affluent, outdoor mall, where we enjoyed Disney merchandise, American Eagle, the iPhone from Apple, and pretzels. I was proud to walk away from the mall with no money lost (the guys bought the food, thank you if you read this). Afterwards we biked back and chilled in the beautiful AC of my apartment, where I started creating my own extended version of the Nacho Libre soundtrack. Quite hilarious!

Eric has been staying in my apartment because there were some huge thunderstorms and tornadoes here last week which knocked out power to his house. It still isn’t back on, so he’s still staying here. It’s kinda cool: four guys from one department in one house! Fun, though occasionally exasperating. We get along pretty well, though. We’ve had some cool times.
On Sunday, we went to the most laughably seeker-friendly Mega-Church I have ever seen. It felt like all the worst comic books had come to life on the stage of the church. Before and after the service, there was movie and Chicago trivia playing on their massive screens. The first thing I thought when I walked into the church was, ‘Is this a church or an Airport?’ Perhaps if I had gone to the airport I might have been at least witnessed to.

The service began with not one but several bangs, as the stage practically exploded with guitarists and drummers, along with someone in a full formal suit dancing like someone who had serious bedbug problems, combined with concentrated poison ivy applied to the sensitive areas. The lights were going everywhere, the music was deafening, and the lyrics surprisingly (or not) devoid of any reference to God or any of his associates. I could not stop laughing. If I was seeking God, I knew I wouldn’t much of him here (at least the True God whom the desperate lost truly desire, not some idol who would get down with the Pastor in order to attract the attention of college-age druggies). After the song (and my giggles) had subsided, the Pastor walked out and proceeded to introduce his message, which began with some pretty funny ‘truths’ about people from Chicago. (Mostly they were brags on the hardiness of the winter-loving northerners who drive in 20-degree weather with the windows down. I’d heard all his jokes before, but in reference to Minnesotans.)
His message was about the pressure of daily life, and was surprisingly good, I was pleased to find that the church had SOME value, though not enough to make me return, I believe. Afterwards they gave out free rubber bracelets with a verse from Philippians on ’em. They’re actually pretty neat. I wear mine a lot now.

After church on Sunday, we headed back to our apartments, stopping for McDonald’s on the way. I also talked to my cousin Joy Peterson on the way back, and we had a great time chatting. It felt good to talk to a woman-relation again. (I had talked with my sister Paige for a long time on Saturday, too.) After reaching our hose, we got a call saying we had to go and set up a taping session at work. The Journey to the Heart Students were arriving and we had to tape their eager accounts of the week in Michigan. So we headed of for an afternoon of work. On a Sunday. siiiggghhhhh…

So we worked until about 7:30 pm on Sunday, whereupon we went for a much-needed dinner in the cool evening air. It was quite beautiful, despite the mosquitoes. I also met up with my cousin David (yes, he’s also blond), and we got to talk a bit.

Today not much happened, except I found a genuine, practically intact Samurai sword in the garbage can. The tang (handle) was bent and a whole side of the blade was coated in black spray paint, but a few minutes with some hand tools, WD-40, and some steel wool made it literally brand-new. So I got a completely free, usable sword! Now I have company bwahahahaha! Swords are cool just to have around, in case. You know… They bring out the rarely-displayed gung-ho side of my personality.

In other news, on Wednesday we’re going to have a long-delayed softball game and some Chicago deep-dish pizza in honor of two house buddies who are leaving for good. On Saturday we’ll be heading to downtown Chicago for a video job: we’re taping a Romanian seminar. Goody… We WERE supposed to be going to the Northwoods in upper Michigan for Labor Day weekend, but instead we have to stay and work. Oh, well. At least we get Monday off. And Labor Day is Peter’s birthday, so we’ll be sure to live it up.
So yeah, I’m still okay, although more things in the mail would be cool. 🙂 (Thank You! to my sisters and Mother and Grandma for their continued support, at least some people remember me!)

Fall (or Autumn, as ’twere) is upon us! Almost! “It won’t be long, soon!” –Rob Sirpless

Love all and keep up the good chocolate chips!!
~Dave the Dueck

Written by Dave Dueck

August 27, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Posted in journal

A Cloudy Weekend with Soggy Results

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Sorry this is so late, I don’t know where all my free time went. Actually, I do, but I apologize. This was supposed to happen on Sunday, I guess I’m making up for all those times I wrote early.

They say God has a sense of humour, and I believe it. In fact, sometimes I think we underestimate God’s potential to enjoy a sardonic joke at our expense. I believe this because it happened to me over the weekend. Here’s what happened:

My fellow Minnesotan and Video Student (and good friend) Eric Rice had a portion of his family visiting IBLP HQ over the weekend. They were going to take Eric downtown to see the airshow and Peter Baehr and I tagged along. After all, it only costs 5$ for a round-trip train ticket to Chicago, and being HQ junkies, we don’t mind walking obscene distances every now and again, so we thought, “What could be bad? A nice stretch of the legs in downtown Chicago! Sounds good! And powerful jet airplanes to boot!” So that’s what we did. Of course, some of us had an ulterior motive: being aspiring filmmakers (as well as human males), we decided to try and catch sight of the street where Warner Bros. is filming the next Christian Bale Batman movie, titled The Dark Knight, which was being shot downtown.

It was perfect weather: cloudy, windy, and 60 degrees. I almost got cold during windier, wetter parts of the day. We spent the better part of the morning taking the train, and then walking to North Beach in Chicago, where the Airshow was being held. Powerful aircraft, piloted with incredible precision, performing incredible stunts, and making the deepest, loudest noises I have ever been thrilled to hear. I was excited to see the Air Force’s new stealth aircraft, the F-22 Raptor. It was easily the highlight of the show, right next to the almost unearthly presence of the B2 Spirit Bomber, the most expensive aircraft ever created. It looked like the creepiest UFO I’ve ever had nightmares about. Rain came and went throughout the afternoon, but it never rained hard enough to soak me. And downtown Chicago has some awesome photo opportunities, too, as you will be able to see if you visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/davedueck. Overall, a VERY well-spent afternoon which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As the afternoon wore on and the Airshow ended, we started walking back to the station (a good 45 minute walk, at least), hoping to stumble upon the street where we might see Batman himself in action. But we did not. We reached the station and headed back to HQ. That evening I spent in the company of my terrific cousin Dave Peterson, who had arrived that day for the Journey to the Heart program. We sat and talked at dinner with Bill Gothard for a while, I called my Mom to wish her happy birthday and happy anniversary, and then I headed back to my apartment where I lost my mind, preventing me from being able to accurately describe my further course of actions that night.
By now you’re saying, “What was so terrible about your weekend that you think God loves pranks?” Keep listening: I’m only half done.

Sunday, I received news through the grapevine that we had only missed the Batman location by a few blocks, and that if we wanted to walk another couple of miles, we could go back to downtown Chicago and visit the set. Because our tickets from the previous day (they were all-weekend tickets), we decided to get the most from our money and head back downtown. Bad idea.

Upon reaching the city, it started raining. VERY hard. I was soon soaked. I had been offered a poncho by Eric’s Dad, but I had proudly refused it, claiming, “I like rain. I like to get wet.” But when I was soaked through and my clothes were clinging to me, I sheepishly asked him if I could borrow a poncho. At least it would help me dry out faster. As we walked towards our destination, we found what looked like a movie set! There was an automated camera boom, a stunt truck with mounted camera, trailers galore, and streets blocked off in the distance! We got closer to investigate.

A border guard told us we could not enter the set. We asked what they were shooting, she told us it was an Angelina Jolie movie called “Wanted.” Yeah right, we thought, but we decided to take a detour and go to our previously planned location. We got there and found nothing. After asking a few questions, we found that the Batman set had been moved the previous night and that we had come all that way through the pouring rain for nothing. Then we began to wonder if the border guard had been lying: maybe “Wanted” was just an alias for the Batman movie! Maybe they were lying to us deliberately to keep crazed fans away from the set! Studios have been known to do this, after all. So we went back to the previous movie set, grabbing a McDonald’s meal on the way. (And, being cold and wet, even shivering, I did something stupid. I ordered an iced coffee.)

And the cast and crew were on meal break! We passed trailer after trailer where various staff members were cooking food. And the set was left unguarded! So we went up to it and started snapping pictures, hoping for a glimpse of someone famous. But our time was running out: our train back to HQ would be leaving soon. So, cold and soaked, we headed back to the station. Ha! we thought. She tried to tell us it was some Angelina Jolie movie, but she couldn’t pull the wool over our eyes! We just saw part of the set of Batman: The Dark Knight! Way cool! I can’t wait to see that scene when the movie comes out!! Besides, who wants to see Angelina Jolie in a movie? She has way too many lips.

We reached the train station and rode away. Me and Peter got off early so we could hang out at a bookstore for the rest of the evening. We had to be in a meeting at 5:00,  and we thought the next train to HQ left at 4:30. No such luck. Turns out it left at 5:00. We got back to HQ very late and soaked through, so we took our time getting presentable for dinner. Why hurry when you’re already late? Don’t answer: I can already think of plenty of good reasons.

And then Eric delivered the painful news: it really WAS the set of an Angelina Jolie movie we saw in Chicago, and the name of it was really “Wanted”! And it turned out that the Batman set had moved to a location only ONE BLOCK in the OPPOSITE direction of the train station! We had walked all that way, gotten soaked, and filled our cameras with picture for something in which we had no interest! I was really ticked off. But, after all, it WAS the Lord’s day, and I think I know why He played such a big joke on us all.

One good thing happened Sunday: I FINISHED EDITING THE CHRISTMAS MOVIE! It’s completely done!! I just have to assemble a few extra features and set up the DVD Master, and it’ll be ready for it’s December 25th release date. I’m very excited, because I’ve been working on this movie for more than two years. I showed a test screening of the film to a couple guys and received very positive comments. I was afraid, since I only have four characters, that the the movie would seem boring and tedious. But even with a finished running time of about 66 minutes, it never seemed too slow or boring in the least. And it’s VERY funny. So I can’t wait to show it to everyone on Christmas Day!!!

Otherwise, things are going generally OK. I’m pretty lonely and I really miss my family, but that’s something I just have to deal with, I s’pose. Tonight I went out to eat and also picked up some coffee filter for my coffeemaker. And soon I’ll go to bed, which is usually nice. Sleep is a beautiful thing, but lately I’ve been having some pretty scary nightmares. The wake-up-soaked-in-cold-sweat-and-breathing-unnaturally kind of nightmares. I have never been as glad to wake up and face a new day as when these new nightmares hit me. I usually don’t even DREAM, let alone have nightmares. It’s not something I’m used to.

Anyways, pictures from my extraordinary weekend are visible at the above-mentioned link. I hope everyone has had a great week! Keep in touch!
Love all,
~Dave Dueck

PS: I won’t post any of my comic fable this week because the sections I post are so long that no one wants to read them. If you want me to post more of it, you’ll have to say so because I won’t otherwise. It seems public interest in it has dwindled.
~D

Written by Dave Dueck

August 21, 2007 at 11:23 pm

Posted in journal

A Few Things…

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As many of you know, I prefer to upload my pictures to my Flickr website, rather than directly to my blog. I have previously posted links to my Flickr page, but my URL has changed: it is now www.flickr.com/photos/davedueck . I also added a module on the side of my blog page with direct links to my Flickr page.

I have decided to not upload any more pictures directly to Ksanga: it’s too much work for someone almost too lazy to take pictures. You can see any and all pictures I take by visiting the above link and by looking at my Flickr module, and I’ll also let you know as soon as I have new pictures there for your enjoyment. So don’t worry! This actually means you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of my pictures (I have about 450 pictures on Flickr right now). And BTW, because of this, that, and the other reason, I decided I liked the old look of my site better: nothing wrong with Xanga themes, but they make life far too complicated for me and I like to keep things simple.

I’ll be writing a good, long update tomorrow (or the next day, depending) so hold your horses and I’ll be back later. C YA.

~D

Written by Dave Dueck

August 19, 2007 at 2:27 am

Posted in regular

Dave’s Post-Indianapolis-Induced-Amnesia Update

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Currently Listening
Heaven and Hell
By Vangelis

As my title suggests, my memory of the past week is a bit foggy. Part of this may be due to the fact that as soon as I arrived back at my apartment from the Indianapolis Training Center, I sold my soul to the false gods of Commander Keen, decaf coffee, Gustav Holst, and chocolate chips. But I shall attempt to remember everything exactly as it happened, so… sally forth! (Veiled, obscure reference to a video series I made once upon a time. Maybe I’ll publish them eventually.)

Monday morning was spent packing up the trailer with our boatloads of video equipment. I had been up until about 10:30 pm the previous night packing up my own stuff, of which there was not much, considering the the amounts of personal clothing and toiletries I’ve taken on previous Conference trips. This time, I only had a small bag with jammies, my blankie (made for me one Christmas by my wonderful Oma), my leather toiletries bag (stuffed full, I regret to say, with aloe vera and deodorant, among other things), dress shoes, and underclothing, plus a bag containing my suit and shirts, and several ties. I was, needless to say, proud that I could take so little to a conference. Experience, it seems, comes in unexpected ways. But regardless, Monday morning saw us finally packed up and on our way to Indianapolis.

We arrived at the training center at about 2:00 in the afternoon and proceeded to unpack some equipment and set it up. We did not set up everything, however, because the bulk of the Conference would be held at the nearby Clowes Auditorium at Butler University, and due to Workers’ Union rules we were not allowed to bring our equipment there until Tuesday Morning. So we finished up at the Training Center and went on a long walk in search of either a McDonald’s or a Starbuck’s facility. We were disappointed in our quest, however, and returned to our rooms hot, soaked in sweat, and ready for cold showers. Even in this respect I was disappointed, for although there was a shower in our room, it was so powerful that we would have been better off if the shower stall was fifteen feet long, so painful were the narrow, arrow-like streams of water. I would not have been surprised if that shower had drawn blood.

The next morning, we took the rest of our equipment to the University and slaved away. It is at this point that my memory begins to fail me. After completing our setup, we proceeded with the actual Conference, the last ATI Regional Homeschooling Conference of 2007. This conference was different from the others, however, in at least one respect: my own family was attending! As I took my position at Camera One, I was surprised and pleased to see my family sit around me. It was they, and most specifically my sister Grace and brother Mark, who provided the moral support I needed as the week wore on. Their presence was a terrific blessing to me, and I regret to say I didn’t tell them so. So here it is: Mark and Grace (and Paige and Steve and Mom and Dad and Olivia and Anna and Claire), THANK YOU!! I love you guys and I wish I didn’t have to wait until Christmas to see you again. Oh well.
I don’t want it to seem like the week was a waste: it was quite the opposite. God moved in people’s hearts and many were touched in powerful ways as the various speakers delivered their messages. For me personally, it was the most powerful conference I have yet attended. One Roger Magnuson, a Minnesotan pastor who has spoken at every conference thus far, changed his message to be analogous with the 35-W bridge collapse in Minneapolis. It was a gripping message, poignant and sparkling with application, yet sprinkled with humor. I always appreciate Mr. Magnuson’s exquisite command of the English Language. I thank again Lemony Snicket for teaching me the meaning of a word employed once or twice by Mr. Magnuson, the word “detritus.” Look it up.

Despite the obvious working of God in Indianapolis, and the expert assistance of the Clowes Hall backstage staff (who made life much more bearable for us video guys), I found myself descending into a state of unbelievable fatigue. I don’t know quite why it happened: it was a pretty easy conference to videotape, and some days a got more sleep than should have been legal for a staff member. Nevertheless, by Friday night I was extremely whooped. But not whooped enough to keep from going to CiCi’s Pizza Buffet with my family and the rest of the video department for some cool food and fellowship. After that, a few of us siblings, plus buddies Peter Baehr and Tyler Elkins, went to Starbuck’s for one last ‘hanging out’ session before we split up once again, never to see one another until late December. I was, as always, saddened to see my beloved brother and sisters leave, but I know God has a purpose for separating us, and it will make Christmas this year that much more fun.

Saturday Morning was spent re-packing our personal belongings and cleaning the Training Center, which took us until about 10:30 am, at which point we ate breakfast and loaded up into the vehicles for the 3+ hour drive back to Chicago. The drive was boring and uneventful, but it was made easier by my iPod and several songs which issued from thence, such as “Hombre Religioso (Religious Man)” by Mr. Loco, and “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” by Jim Henson, one of my favorite songs from my Sesame Street days. We arrived at IBLP HQ sometime in the early afternoon, unpacked, and I proceeded to sell my soul to the aforementioned idols for the remainder of the afternoon. At 7:15 we went to dinner, and many engaged in a fine evening of ping pong, but I opted out and instead went for a much-needed three-mile walk to clear my head. I arrived back at my apartment, showered, and did some online socializing before going to bed, whereupon I slept harder than I have slept in many weeks. And I dreamed. I never dream, but last night I did. I dreamed I was up north in Minnesota, running very fast along the coast of some huge lake, and I ran out onto a long dock and jumped into the freezing water. There was some other weird stuff that happened, but that’s the part I remember best.

And now you know almost everything about my week! Summer is almost over, and then begins the best part of the year: Autumn and Winter!! My birthday, cold weather, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day, National Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day, Thanksgiving, dead vegetation, and eventually snow and Christmas! Yessssss! I’m excited about what God has in store for the next half year, and I hope you are too! Never lose faith in Him: He is ALWAYS faithful and the least we can do it return the favor. God bless you and keep me posted!!
Love all,
Dave Dueck

And here, for those of you willing to read a lot more, is the next section of my comic fable, The Day Right After the Night Before that One Christmas.

.  .  .  .  .

The next morning dawned, but the sun refused to show his cheery face. The sky was cloudy and the wind was sharp. In the grey-blue light of early morning, two travellers were visible working their way eastward toward the sun that no one could see. Peasants having their morning mug looked out the window and shivered, glad that they had finished their quests earlier that summer. What are those two thinking? It must be all of twenty-four degrees out there! Who would go questing in the middle of November?

Blair pulled his collar up around his neck, wishing he had been able to find his Polartec® sweater before he had been shoved out the door by Sir Sigmund, who was warm enough in his wool-lined suit of armour. In all the years he had been serving Sir Sigmund, Blair had never seen him actually wear the armour before this time. The armour was very old, and it was quite rusty in spots. It made nasty noises when Sir Sigmund moved and it was impossible for the aged soldier to turn his neck in any direction. Since Sir Sigmund could hardly walk at all with his armour off, he really could not walk at all with his armour on. So Blair was carrying him on his back, and was getting fatigued. He wheezed out a question that he thought relevant to the situation.
“Why don’t we just take a train?”
No answer.
“We’ve been hiking for over three hours now. When can we eat something?”
No answer.
“What are we going to do when we arrive at the Castle?”

No answer. So Blair trudged on. After a few more minutes, he heard a small noise coming from the knight’s helmet. “Zzzzzzz…”
Blair stopped. If the old soldier was sleeping, that meant he could go wherever he wanted. So he turned around and began walking the other way, west towards the train station. The peasants who were just coming outside to do the morning chores saw the two travellers coming back again and didn’t know what to think. As he walked, Blair noticed a sign: ‘NAVY BLUE FOREST TRAIN STATION: SEVEN MILES.’ It didn’t take Blair long to realize that this meant they’d only travelled three miles from their cottage to where they were . This meant they were only going one mile per hour. At this rate, they would not reach the train station for another seven hours. This meant that Sir Sigmund would probably wake up well before they reached the station, and then he would just make Blair turn around again and keep going east. This meant that all of this was just going to be a waste of time. Rats! I’m really getting sick of this. With a wheezy sigh, he turned around again and continued eastward. The peasants, who were by this time out cutting their lawns, saw him has he walked by with the rusty knight on his shoulder for the third time, and went back to their chore without a word.

It was a good eleven hours later when they finally arrived somewhere. Blair had been on autopilot for the past 1 ½ miles when a harsh voice woke him up.
“Hey! Blair! What time is it? Where are we?”
Blair replied that he had no idea what time it was and that it was too dark to tell where they were, but also that he could see the lights of a large building ahead of them.
“I have no idea what time it is, and it’s too dark to tell where we are, but also I can see the lights of a large building ahead of us.”
“Go towards it,” the stiff knight replied. Blair toyed with the idea of throwing the knight off his shoulders and screaming at the top of his voice that he had been walking towards the stupid lights for the past five hours, but he had, you will remember, long since learned to restrain his impulsive nature, so all he said was, “I’ve learned to restrain my impulsive nature.” He kept on walking towards the building.

It turned out to be an inn. In those fairy days of yore, an inn was a place near the road where weary travellers could stop and rent a room to sleep in, and perhaps get a bite to eat. Of course, there are many inns still in business around the world, and their function remains the same. But there are no inns quite like the one our weary travellers approached that dark night. On a sign that hung over the door were the words “THE ADMIRABLE BEN BOW’S INN: ROOMS TO LET AND VIENNESE SAUSAGES TO GO.” Also on the sign was a picture of the inn itself with a giant sausage next to it. The picture was drawn in an attractive crosshatched manner, and there was even a smiling face on the sausage.

Blair was so grateful to see this haven of rest that he almost didn’t hear the old knight speaking to him.
“Hey! Blair! What kind of place is this?”
Blair told him, but carefully omitted the detail about the face on the sausage. Sir Sigmund deprecated the anthropomorphization of inanimate objects, which basically means he viewed happy-faced sausages with disapprobation.

They entered the inn, which was a very easy task since there was a large orange door with the word “INN” clearly printed at eye level in bright brown letters. As Blair swung open the door and marched across the threshold, he became aware that something was not right. Then all became clear.

He had not taken the corroded, beleaguered knight off his shoulders. There was a sickening PING!! as the knight’s helmeted head met squarely with the top of the door frame. Just as Blair was completing his stride across the threshold, he was yanked backwards. His weight was no longer on his back foot, and it was impossible for his weight to be on his front foot, so he went down backwards like a ladder of besieging enemies that had been shoved away from the city walls.

CRUNCHLE-PING-a-LINGGG!!! His back landed squarely on the threshold and Sir Sigmund landed full force on the brick pavement outside, his armour ringing melodiously on the bricks. He skidded a couple of yards before coming to rest. Blair lay on the threshold awhile, waiting for his breath to reappear. After about seven minutes, he managed to expel a low moan and slowly curl into the fetal position. Another groan, a few spasmodic twitches, and he finally pulled himself to a standing pose. He examined himself as best as he could, but apart from a blue, throbbing hump in his back that was apparently new, he seemed to be fine. He then walked over to Sir Sigmund.

“Sir Sigmund! Are you OK?”
No answer.
“Can you hear me?”
No answer.
“Sir Sigmund! There’s a drawing of a sausage with a smiling face!”
Still no answer. Hmmm, thought Blair. This could be serious. He took Sir Sigmund by the ankles, dragged him inside, and managed to hoist him onto one of the tables in the tavern. The innkeeper walked out from behind the counter and came over to the table.
“What’s the trouble?” he asked politely.
“He smashed into the door frame, and then into some bricks,” Blair replied. “Didn’t you see it happen? It was right over there.”
“Ah yes, now I recall. About seven or eight minutes ago, was it? A tad strange, I said to me self, carrying one’s armour through the door on one’s shoulder. But if you want to dent it up and wreck my door frame, be my guest. Get it? I’m an innkeeper! Be my guest!” He slapped his knee and guffawed loudly. “Methinks that was a pretty good one. Admirable, I dare say, admirable. I say, how long are you going to leave that suit of armour on my table? ”
Blair raised one of his eyebrows. “This isn’t just a suit of armour. There’s a real person somewhere inside of here.”
The innkeeper’s eyebrows lowered and his jaw opened, and then it shut with a neat click, his eyebrows simultaneously raising.. Then he opened his mouth again. “Do you expect he’s alright?”
“I can’t tell. I can’t seem to get this helmet off his head. Would you mind lending me a hand?”
For a few minutes, they examined the old helmet and discovered to their chagrin that it was attached to the rest of the armour with Phillips™ brand sheet-metal screws. The polite innkeeper’s brow furrowed.
“Hmmm. I haven’t any Phillips™ brand screwdrivers on the entire property. I suppose we’ll have to call the blacksmith.”
“The blacksmith? What can he do?”
“Dashed if I know, old chap, but he’s our only hope. Unless…”
“Unless what?”
The innkeeper smiled. “Not to worry, old boy, I’ve just the things we need.”

Written by Dave Dueck

August 12, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Posted in fiction, journal

Back from Vacation (Meh, but it’s OK)

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There’s a certain sad feeling I get when I finish reading a book, particularly long and involving books. It’s kinda hard to describe, but I guess it has something to do with the fact that I can never again enjoy this piece of literature as much as I did the first time. The characters are no longer new, their plight is no longer intriguing or worrying to me. I no longer care about what happens next because I KNOW what happens next. And though I might not read that book again for several years, I still have vestiges of the storyline stored away in my brain and the experience will never, ever be as enjoyable as it was the first time. I got that feeling when I finished the 1700-page unabridged “The Count of Monte Cristo.” I got it when I finished “Nicholas Nickleby.” And last week I got it when I read the last three books in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.” It is not unusual for me to finish a full-length book in a day or two, but each of these three books took me only two hours each. I am a big Lemony Snicket fan, I’ll have you know. I think another reason may be that I have simply not had time to read since moving to Chicago. I cannot believe how good it felt to just SIT and READ for HOURS. GORGEOUS!! One of the best parts of my vacation, no doubt.

For those of you who have not read this series, it is a 13-volume story involving three orphans (and heirs to a huge fortune) who are being taken from guardian to guardian to avoid the clutches of the evil Count Olaf and his associates. Things never go well for the orphans, and each book ends on a decidedly bad note. As the children travel through the world, they begin to uncover a huge mystery involving not only Count Olaf, but also their dead parents, every one of their guardians, and a massive spy organization called only “VFD.” The first four or five books are entertaining but not too involving, but once the mystery gets going, you can’t put the books down. And so it was that during a family trip to the library during my vacation that I espied the FINAL THREE VOLUMES of the series, whereupon I procured and read them in a total of a bit over six hours. Unfortunately, the story did not end happily. Many of the mystery’s most pressing questions remained unresolved at the end, some favorite characters die, and in the process even more mysteries are uncovered, though not solved. There are, however, hints that future books may shed light on some issues. One of the best tings abot the series is how educational it is: I think reading those books increased my vocabulary about 25%. They are written in a witty, self-conscious style, and they are often hilarious. The author has a surprisingly good grasp on human nature and goes into great detail about the orphans’ own despair and horror when they find themselves not only contemplating but engaging in villainy themselves. A great many of movies and books make their heroes backwashed anti-heroes, heathens to whom for some reason we are compelled to look for guidance and inspiration: in other words, too often the heroes of stories nowadays are just as bad as the villains. And while the orphans in the series to find themselves performing terrible acts of villainy, the author at least has the sense to give his characters a conscience and make them despise the bad things they do, and resolve to turn from them. Despite the disappointing and tragic ending, they are among the best secular books I have ever read and I consider myself a better person for having read them. I recommend them to anyone.

Besides finishing a well-loved book series, I was able to spend some very cool quality time with my family as we headed north to Cass County, Minnesota, for a camping trip. We went swimming every day. I wore SHORTS. We went to Lake Itasca, source of the Mississippi river. There were gorgeous sunsets every night. There was a huge electrical storm, wherein we received three inches of rain in a few hours. Some of us went fishing, some canoing, some biking, some running, and some reading. We also went to visit our Grandma’s Cabin, where I once again indulged in a healthy dose of Calvin & Hobbes, one of my favorite comic strips.

We probably would not have spent much time at the cabin if Grandma had been there, for she had been expecting guests that week and we would have been intruding. But the week before we were to head up north, Grandma was taken to the hospital with chest pains and ended up getting triple-bypass surgery. It was a very scary time for the family, but she’s up and about now and doing better every day. Please pray for her continued recovery if you think of it.

What else can I say about vacation? It only took me a day or two to get used to being home again, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it (except the part where horseflies, deerflies, and mosquitoes ate my ankle). After six months of a hard routine and living my life in a square-mile campus, the freedom, both of space and routine, was exhilarating. I found myself actually having free time more often than not! (Perhaps that had something to do with leaving my computer in Chicago. ) I got to spend a whole day with my best friend! I also got pretty used to eating three meals a day, which was pretty cool. Now I guess I’ll start eating breakfast regularly.

Since returning to Chicago, things have not been nearly as busy as I anticipated they would. Next week is the final ATI Regional Conference for this year, in Indianapolis. We leave tomorrow afternoon, which is why I’m writing this today. I’ll be sitting on my hard little barstool, neck tilted back to look at my camera’s monitor once again. It’ll be a lot of work, but not as much as other conferences, and by now I know what I’m doing when I work at a conference (I hope). Also, my family will be there, so things will be more interesting this time around. After that, I only have to wait another two months before Autumn begins (yessssss). And after that, CHRISTMAS!! Whereupon I go home for good and all (yeah, right).
I moved out of my apartment last night: I had no roommate (mine came in this week and collected the rest of his stuff and officially left for good). My fellow video guy JD Sullivan had no roommate, and we had the option of either rooming with each other or having strangers for roommates. We opted for the former. I am all finished moving in and cleaning out my old apartment, which is now emptier that a bucket with no cookies in it. I never realize just how much junk I have until I try moving it. In the process, I threw away quite a lot of stuff that I no longer need/want. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s clutter. I’m working towards a clutter-free life, but considering the lifestyle of my new roommate, it’ll be an uphill battle all the way.

Please pray for me as we embark on another conference trip. I could use whatever you think God can give me.

Otherwise, have a fabulous week and keep in touch! I love you all!!
~Dave Dueck, aspiring esq.

PS: You can find pictures of my vacation at my flickr account and a couple videos of the vacation at www.foopaux.com. The same goes for my Christmas movie trailer and some new production photos, which I uploaded this week (I’m uploading six production pics a month). I’ll be posting them all on my blog soon, but not until after I get back from the conference. And I’ll put up a new section of my story when I get back, too.
Toodles & Noodles!

“To rule. Finally, to rule!” –General Zod
“It won’t be long, soon.” –Rob Sirpless

Written by Dave Dueck

August 4, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Posted in journal