The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for April 2008

LIVE from the ABYSS! (Crunchy Ears & Naked Face Edition)

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Currently Listening
The Symphonic Jean-Michel Jarre (2CD Set)
Chronologie 1

Sunlight!! After basking for several days in the balmy warmth (read: searing heat) of Florida, I returned to MN to find the same dead grass, cloudy skies and leafless trees I’d been used to since March. I didn’t hate this or find it disappointing, but I see it through different eyes. To wake up and spend the morning and afternoon in Florida, amongst palm trees and crashing ocean surf, and to go to bed in a land just recovering from an April snowstorm, as grey and damp as Great Britain, was startling. The contrast almost couldn’t be greater.

Florida was GREEN *duh*! Not only that, it was very warm. (Also no surprise.) I fully expected, during the course of our visit, to be sunburned until I was crunchy (just add BBQ sauce!). Thankfully, this only happened to my ears, which bleed on occasion as a result, but the rest of me is remarkably still white. (I am as white as they come!) I was afraid while shaving last night that my face would sport some kind of farmer’s tan due to the beard’s inherent protective properties, but the rest of my face had more or less regained its splotchy, fish-belly complexion by the time I shaved, so my face looks overall pretty normal. A few details about my FL trip:

Last year while working in Chicago, I met (and became the adopted brother of) Ms. Jamee Franklin of K-Ville, FL. She was working in the call center at IBLP HQ at the time, and had a VERY wide circle of adopted family members. She left IBLP in July, but this month me and my best pal Rob Sirpless and his sister Gina (also friends of Jamee) got a chance to go visit her for a few days. No special reason: we went on more of a whim than anything else. The visit confirmed several things I had initially suspected: 1) that although Florida is even warmer than Texas, it is far more agreeable because of smaller (or at least less obvious) egos, and access to the ocean, 2) that Southerners really ARE friendlier/more outgoing than northerners, hard as that may be to swallow, and 3) the rest of Jamee’s family is every bit as cool as she is.

And it was WARM for the first couple days: upper 80s at least, and humid! I’m surprised at how quickly I adapted to the heat, although it was difficult to suppress my disappointment when I heard that it was snowing like crazy in MN. Not that I wasn’t glad to be there: I haven’t had such a fun, wonderful time in ages. My views on winter have been explained in detail elsewhere and I will not revisit that debate here. Moving on, southern hospitality is nothing short of bewildering. Jamee’s very *parents* gave up their bedroom (with private bathroom and King-size waterbed) to me and Rob for the entire weekend. The whole family pulled out all the stops to make sure we were enjoying ourselves every minute, and we certainly did! And as they will most likely be reading this email, I want to state here that I am floored by how wonderful they were to us. Thanks SO MUCH for everything, I only hope I can repay you one day!!
The heat, despite its intensity, was leavened by our visits to places where one could immerse one’s self in large amounts of water. We visited DisneyWorld (plain cool), Cypress Gardens (water park! woot!), and Indian Rocks Beach (huge waves, much salt), and things only got better and better as the trip went on. There was acollective feeling of sorrow between Rob & Gina and me as we flew home, missing the Franklin family already. It would be a great waste of time and space for me to try explaining exactly what we did and why it was all so much fun, so I won’t try. I have pictures from the trip here and on my Facebook account, and you can see a video of it on my Vimeo account and on our catch-all video media site, Foopaux. Look at them and enjoy them, they do a far better job of describing our trip than I could here.

After returning home, I was swamped by phone calls regarding work: I have a job interview this Tuesday, and I leave for Chicago again on Wednesday. The job interview is for a position as a full-time city landscaping/light maintenance position. Sure, it’s not filmmaking or video-related, but the job has several key advantages:

I. Great pay
II. Great hours
III. Workplace is directly next door to our house (i.e. no commute)

If I land this job, I will most likely also be trying to get a part-time evening-shift job at Target or some other nearby retail store (again, no commute involved). I have also applied for a job at National Camera Exchange as a customer service dude, but I haven’t heard anything from them since I applied nearly 2 weeks ago. Here’s hoping…
In any case, on Wednesday of this week I’m traveling back to IBLP HQ, and leaving from there on Thursday for Big Sandy, TX to help out with the ATI regional Conference and Father’s Conference. As much as I was hoping to avoid going there this year, it keeps turning up like a bad penny in my life. Apparently, IBLP is rather understaffed and underfunded this year and needs volunteers, and it so happens that I know how to do the jobs they need done. Every time I visit TX, I swear on my hairy feet that wild Zontars couldn’t drag me back there, but it doesn’t even take wild Zontars. All it takes is a desperate IBLP, and a Dave with no current job and a guilty conscience (meaning I’ve got no palatable reason to say I can’t help). So back I go, and I won’t return to MN until May 9. Heck, there’ll be leaves on the trees by that time! Hopefully I don’t miss the crab-apple tree blooming again. And it’s because I’m going down there that I’m being forced to shave, but at least the stuff grows back, and it gave me a chance to try out a mustache & goatee style (think Robin Hood) for a couple days before I shave the stuff off completely. Without that coarse hairy stuff on my face, I feel plain naked. But I count my blessings:

i. I’ll get to see my ol’ drinking buddy Ryan Ludvigson again. It’s been far, far too long.
ii. I’ll get to see sis Paige again. It’s been far, far, far too long. 🙂
iii. I’ll get to see pretty much all the folks I left behind in January again!
So it’ll be a nice reunion. But I appreciate prayer for this anyways: my attitude when in Texas is never very good, and I want to be a blessing to these folks, not a blight. Expect pictures and video, as per usual. I WILL be back.

On Saturday, I had one of those weird days where I woke up and spent my morning one way, and ended the day in a completely different way. I spent the morning with Joel raking dead grass/rotting leaves/twigs & sticks and bagging them up. Also winding dirty garden hoses that had been left out all winter. When it was all done, I was covered in dirt and SUPER tired. After a VERY light lunch (a piece of white bread, 1/3 of an apple and a potato chip), I went running for 3 miles, showered, and put on a 3-piece suit. I was going to town.
My best buddy Rob Sirpless and my two wonderful classmates from the Speech Class days, my friends and literary partners in crime Beth Veiman and Christy Mastley, had dinner at the 50s Grill before heading to Brooklyn Park for an old-fashioned musical melodrama, ‘Mordechai’s Metamorphosis’, in which an old man feigns death in order to discover which of his relatives is truly loyal and deserving of his fortune. Along the way, snobby gold-diggers get their come-uppance, the preacher marries the mortician’s daughter, an old flame is rekindled, and my mind was filled with the most outlandishly corny puns, accents, and schemes. But all the wonderfully funny stuff on stage was nothing compared to being able to spend time with Ms. Veiman and Ms. Mastley, whom I only see in person once in a Blue Moon. Good times, good, good times. They don’t happen nearly often enough!

As I close, I want to mention one or two things. First, I’ve been considering recording shorter audio versions of these updates, adding music, sound effects, etc., and posting them someplace online. Something like a podcast, in other words. If I do pursue this idea, I’ll probably begin sometime around September. Secondly, I’ve been debating whether or not I should write these updates through the Summer. If all goes the way I want it to, I’ll probably be very, very busy this summer, and I’m not sure how much effort I should put into trying to make these updates a weekly thing. Rest assured, come Autumn, I’ll certainly resume the weekly format, but I think I’ll forgo trying to write one each week once June rolls around. But if I ever have time during the deadly summer months to write, rest assured I will. I love writing and I trust there are at least one or two of you out there who enjoy reading these things. But nothing’s certain yet. I’ll let you know. In any case, since I’ll be out of town until May 9, don’t expect to hear from me again for a while. (And I’m so sorry this update was late again, Sundays are getting busier than they used to be. *sigh* Forgive me?)

So I close this letter wishing you well as spring continues to flourish and summer is on the Horizon. I’ll be back in a couple weeks, and I hope to see all of you again very soon! God bless each and every one of you!
Love All,

~Davenport Dueck

Written by Dave Dueck

April 21, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Posted in journal

LIVE from the ABYSS! (Convicted!)

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Currently Listening
Feeney: Dracula
Act III: The Crypt

A thousand unconnected, incomplete thoughts race through my head as I begin this, many of them having to do with my new study, which I alluded to in my previous letter. I will now make no attempt now to conceal this study: I am researching the morality, purpose, and proper place of MUSIC. What I discover at the conclusion of this study will have a large impact in the way I live my life and relate to others, because as I get more in-depth with the study I am finding out that much of what applies morally and practically to music applies morally and practically to everyday life, and I would ultimately be a fool for applying my newfound convictions in just one of many possible areas.
I am not close to being finished with this study. I *think* I am getting close to deciding what I believe on the subject. But I am nowhere near being able to articulate it simply and precisely. It is this part which has me stuck (I have a hard time writing *anything* simply and precisely). I only mention it, though, because it is such a gargantuan study (for me at least) that it has filled my head with ideas, notions, and possibilities that I have spent much more time thinking about things this past week-and-a-half than I have spent doing things. I also mention it because it is a good introduction to something I wish to mention later, which has largely to do with the whole area of personal, spiritual convictions. But first a description of a few recent experiences.

There were certainly no shortages of extraordinary occurrences last week. I went to the Minnesota Twins Season Opener at the HHH Metrodome in Minneapolis, for one thing. Not especially noteworthy at first mention, it was actually a singular experience for two reasons: 1) The tickets for the five of us that went were free, courtesy of the Lee family, and 2) It was snowing horribly all day, and continued to do so through the night. I’ve absolutely nothing against snow (no matter what time of year it is), but I’ve never been to a MLB game when there was snow on the ground. It felt very odd, almost as if sorcery were involved. But we cheered for the good ol’ Twins in brave fashion and for once they WON! The Twins are not notorious for losing, but being at a game in person often has a jinxing effect. In an interesting twist of fate, the Angels, the opposing team, had on their starting roster one Torii Hunter, who is a former Twins player (and not a bad one at that!). It being opening night, the stadium was packed (something one almost never sees at the Metrodome), and when Mr. Hunter stepped out on the field and had his name announced, the applause which rose and thundered and grew and echoed through the building was intense. It lasted several minutes and there was no further display of such raw enthusiasm for the remainder of the evening. It felt odd seeing so many people from MN cheering so lustily for a man now playing for CA, and this, combined with the driving snowstorm outside, made for an unforgettably strange evening. We had fun though.

The following day PAIGE AND GRACE CAME HOME! YAY! I am SO done being part of a male majority in this house. It just felt really weird, having more guys in the house than girls. It’s never been that way, at least not since I was three years old. Home, church, Summit Ministries, speech class, you name it, there have always been tons of girls around. Even at IBLP in Chicago, the girls always outnumbered the guys by a healthy ratio (something like 3 to 1) and I’m really not used to functioning in any other environment. It may be lazy and even cowardly to say that I’m relieved the girls are home again, and I’m not saying I shouldn’t strive to perform my allotment of domestic duties now that there are more women in the house, but it feels like HOME again, y’know? Of course, on Monday Paige goes back to TX and the ratio will be dead even, but it will still be better than the ‘Wilderness Weeks’ of late March to early April. Sisters are so great. Even the little ones. And while I’m on the subject, I might as well come right out and say in print what I’ve said verbally all along: when I get married and have kids, I don’t want to have any boys. 12 or 13 lovely girls, unspoiled by any sweaty, dense chauvinists. I’m not saying boys can’t be raised properly and become intellectually competent and emotionally sensitive and caring to others, but not with my luck. I’d get a bunch of oblivious, lazy brutes who only care about sports, trucks and muscles. So I’m avoiding a lot of headache here by just having girls. Easier that way. 🙂
Speaking of guy/girl ratios (?! back on THIS topic?), I am reminded of a song which me and my excellent roommate Peter Baehr came up with last autumn. (actually, he did it all. I just helped with conceptualization.) One day at work when we had little to do (a rare occurence!), we began speculating on the reasons for such an extreme ratio between genders at IBLP. Since then, I’ve been doing some more thinking, and much of what you are about to read is my own musing, but Peter definitely contributed to the formation of this theory and wrote all the lyrics to the song below. OK, here we go:

We realized that while many of the men in IBLP were disgruntled and disillusioned with their times of service in the Institute, there were a few who seemed genuinely happy there and who might stay on for years if so allowed. Of course, such a thing is not in Human Nature and so we wondered how it was even possible. Then we realized that almost all of the girls working there seemed really happy and satisfied, despite constant ridicule from residents of the surrounding suburbs (you would not BELIEVE how crazy people act when they see 3 or 4 girls in ankle-length dresses and waist-length hair walking down a street). The IBLP men, increasingly restless and ready to move forward with their lives, began leaving for greener pastures. Yet there remained an identical proportion of eager young lads. How?!
The only reason, we surmised (using Darwin’s philosophies and Theories of Survival of the Species extensively), was that the cheery young girls, in order to help the Institute maintain its required quota of male employees, and to escape some of the secular ridicule they had hitherto endured, began gradually devolving and taking on the form of the cheery young lads! Of course, women (being the perfect types that they are, and I’m not joking), could, in the light of cold reason, only regard such a transformation with loathing and disgust (and right they should!), and undoubtedly become quickly disillusioned with their new roles in the Institute. In order to retain some semblance of Feminine Dignity, we believe they requested Leadership to enforce a strict rule forbidding facial hair of any kind. As their years of service dragged on, they would become burdened with their roles as men to such a degree that they too would eventually leave, free to return home and gradually re-evolve to their proper feminine selves. This, of course, made it hard to tell the real men from the devolved women. But I’ve had time to think about this horrific phenomenon, and I really believe it’s the only way to explain things. As we reflected on the terrors of single-generation gender devolution, we thought with no little sympathy of the girls, who, trapped in masculine form, longed to return to their former perfect selves. Peter, eager romantic that he is, dashed of an impassioned poem which we later set to the tune of ‘Human Again’ from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ by Alan Menken. Here it is, for your enjoyment. I give all credit to Peter for these fine lyrics. If you know the tune, please sing along:

WOMEN AGAIN
When we’re Women again
Only Women again
When we’re Chauvinist Bigots no more
If we keep it hush-hush
With mascara and blush
Mr. Gothard will think we’re top-drawer
We’ll wear lipstick and rouge
And we won’t be so huge
Why, we’ll easily fit though that door
We’ll exude savior-faire
We’ll wear gowns! We’ll have hair!
It’s our prayer
To be Women again.

When we’re Women again,
Only Women again
When we’re ‘Cool Dude’ and ‘Sweet Pants!’ no more,
We’ll be taking insult
In the Long-Skirted Cult
When our hemlines are dragging the floor
On that marvelous dawn
When the forest is gone
We’ll forget what it was to be Men!
On that glorious morn
When our sideburns are shorn
And we’re ALL of us Women again!

~End

And now for that little bit I mentioned about convictions earlier. Why am I researching music and its moral impact? Why am I searching the Scriptures (and many good Christian books) for God’s words regarding music when I’ve heard plenty of (supposedly) conclusive teachings about this sort of thing all my life? Why isn’t what I’ve been already taught good enough?

But that’s just it: I was taught by people. No doubt their intentions were terrific and their execution of their teachings blameless. But I’ve never had the impression that what I’ve been *taught*, whether it’s about music or anything else, has been taught me by God Himself: I didn’t take such beliefs and convictions to heart, although I exercised them in my head and daily living. But I want to believe something because GOD says it’s true, not because SOMEONE ELSE says God says it’s true. I want a real, personal relationship *directly* with God, where I am able to hear His voice and directions clearly. Again, I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who taught me what I’ve learned, or even the validity of the things they’ve taught me. But I’m getting older, and a guy has to begin hearing from God on his own at some point, and not let others take care of ‘that Spiritual stuff’ for him. Anything less than a personal, real attentiveness to God’s word and what He’s saying through it (and willingness to obey) would be spiritual laziness and apathy. These things, I am pretty sure, are pretty loathsome to God.

In short: I’ve absolutely nothing against convictions and personal discipline: I respect them, and, what’s more, I think they’re very beneficial. But I want them to be from MY HEART and not from MY HEAD. And it will only be in my HEART if I’ve heard it directly from God and been humble and teachable enough to accept it. And that means I have to jolly well listen close so I can hear what God has to say on a given subject. (I believe I wrote an update about this very subject last summer sometime.) Anyways, just something to think about until I’ve finished with my study and can expound a bit. I hope I communicated that pretty well, because it’s the best I can do at the moment. I’ve been writing far too long and my current CD (Feeney’s ‘Dracula Ballet’) has played twice through already and is nearly done with its third full repetition. I therefore leave you, and go in search of a good book and some chocolate. NOTE: I will be in Florida this Sunday and will be unable to write an update at that time. So wait for my next update to arrive on Sunday, the 20th of April (or thereabouts). Sorry I’m late this week, but I had my reasons, and that’s all the explanation you are going to get. Until next time, continue being the amazing person you are: that’s why I love you!

~Davers

Written by Dave Dueck

April 8, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Posted in journal

Another Bit of my Novel

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Currently Listening
Shadow of the Moon
By Blackmore’s Night

Another nearly-finished section of my comic fantasy tale,

THE DAY RIGHT AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE THAT ONE CHRISTMAS

or

THAT ONE CHRISTMAS
DISCLAIMER: I use British English spelling

Regarding the Navy Blue Forest
The last time I visited the Navy Blue Forest (which coincidentally was also the first time), the only truly remarkable things I noticed were A) the complete absence of the Forest Ogres, the only natural enemy of the Pink Moss Recluse, and B) a complete absence of anything resembling the colour navy blue. Local legend claims it was really navy blue once, before Florian Tweed and his horde of Vandals had come through with their cans of black spray-paint in the Last Age, but modern sceptics say it’s just a way of making the forest sound less dangerous to strangers, who tend to be off-put by the forbidding appearance of the massive forest.

The place cannot be said to have any colour in the regularly accepted sense of the word ‘colour,’ meaning it has no vibrancy or exciting variation in its visual appearance. Most of the time, it looks straight black. The evergreen trees are of a strange variety which from afar appear pitch-black, but up close are revealed to be a very dark grey, hence the designation ‘Ever-greys.’ On very bright days after a hard rain during the night, the reflection of the sun of the wet boughs causes the forest to take on a dark grey brilliance, and in mating season (February) the trees are literally covered with Pink Moss Recluse spiders, which gives the forest a temporary bright pink resplendence.

But mostly it’s just black. The name ‘Navy Blue’ forest is totally misleading in every sense, but it must have worked in its intended purpose of reassuring strangers to the area because there was an identical forest surrounding the Castle of Administration for miles in every direction, only this one was called the Black Forest of Eternal Death and people generally avoided the area, whereas travellers were quite common in the Navy Blue Forest, despite there being no actual difference in the two forests besides the name. In fact, travellers through the area were so prolific that the iron-fisted Castle of Administration decided to profit from it and make travel in the Navy County legal only if you travelled by train. There was no feasible way for the Castle to enforce this law, of course, but the economy in that country was quite stable at the time and nobody minded shelling out a few extra shillings to ride a nice shiny new train instead of walking through a creepy forest. Especially in February.

So the paths through the forest had gone out of use, and nature had taken back its own again with a vengeance, with itchy weeds covering the paths a foot deep and large spider-webs forming a silky ceiling overhead. But you never actually saw the spiders unless you were miles away from the forest in February: they didn’t come out in daytime, and nobody travelled the forest at night, and if you happened to live in the forest in a well-hidden cottage with a water well in the front yard, you did not, in any circumstance, step out of doors during spider mating season. If you wanted to see a Pink Moss Recluse and live to tell about it, you had to do it from at least two miles away and watch as they covered the trees during the February ‘Pink Mist,’ as locals called it. That the spiders should be so plainly visible from so far during this season is made all the more remarkable by the fact that a Pink Moss Recluse is, at its largest, all of four inches in diameter, including its legs. One can only imagine, watching the swirling, pink swathes of live spiders pulsating through the ever-grey boughs in February, how many billions and billions of spiders there actually were in the Navy Blue Forest. While I cannot begin to guess accurately at their actual population, I can tell you that the reason they were in great numbers in the Navy Blue Forest was because of the aforementioned absence of Forest Ogres, which despite a generally uncultured outlook, consider Pink Moss Recluse to be a delicacy. That is, if only the Ogre can kill the spider before ingesting. It is an item of particular interest (and no small wonder to Administration biologists) that the Pink Moss Recluse ceases to be poisonous after its death.

I went to the Navy Blue Forest for no other reason than to research for this novel, so unless I was looking for things I wanted to include in the text, I generally didn’t pay attention to my surroundings. I did notice, rather by accident, a rapidly approaching wolf who appeared to have been ingesting soap suds, but when I produced my shiny new sand wedge and threw it deftly at the creature’s head, it decided I meant more business than it had anticipated and left me to my observations. I mention this to show how, on the whole, the Navy Blue Forest was not a particularly affable place, and Blair Liverstone, despite his reluctance to quest at this time of year and to such a place as the Castle of Administration, was not at all opposed to leaving the bleak hostility of the  Forest for greener, more amiable pastures.
The two of them left very early the next morning. I don’t know how exactly they managed to leave while it was still dark and yet escape horrible death by Pink Moss Recluse, but I think it has something to do with the fact that Sir Sigmund spent this portion of the journey shouting hoarse, high-pitched philosophical questions to his black surroundings. Philosophy is a weapon unusually effective against the primal, animalistic tendencies of the Pink Moss Recluse‘s intellect, but doubly so when uttered in a voice not unlike that of the female Forest Ogre in its prime, to which Sir Sigmund’s own voice held an uncanny resemblance.

The 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 of coffee-flavoured beer 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? They look like they’re coming from the Forest! How did they get out of there while it was dark? Don’t they know the spiders feed at night?

Written by Dave Dueck

April 5, 2008 at 10:29 am

Posted in fiction