A picture page contains some scanned-in photos from the weekend.
Needless to say, this report doesn't contain any confidential Cabal discussions which did not take place over the span of time described.
The wind blew south across the fields and forests of the Great Blight, a land tainted and twisted by the touch of Cornell University. It blew across the runway of the small county airport on the outskirts of the town where the source of the Blight was to be found. It blew through the trees which provided a weak shield to the apartment complex where a certain Starving Grad Student slept peacefully in her small subterranean dwelling. The wind caused the miniblinds of her window to rustle as the alarm clock went off, announcing the time to be 7.00 am. An arm appeared from beneath the bedsheets and set the alarm forward for half an hour.
Needless to say, my idea of getting on the road by 8.00 am did not come to fruition. I did manage to get moving by 9.00, and started driving. I drove for a very long time.
Whoever it was that said that the Beltway in DC is the Oath Road got it on the nosey. Furthermore, the epithet can be expanded to describe any road directly connected to it. For the ~2 hr period in which I was driving on 270-495-95 (Frederick, MD to around Fredricksberg, VA), my language would have put Uno to shame.
I learned what the Blight smells like ("The sickly sweet smell of corruption") when I drove past a tobacco refinery/cigarette factory/whatever in Richmond. Bleah. It was almost as bad as Gary, IN, in its way.
At long last, I came to Chapel Hill, NC, and promptly got lost. After about 45 minutes of driving around scenic Chapel Hill (which is about as exciting as Ithaca, NY), I finally found the highway again, with the help of the cop who pulled me over at the DUI checkpoint on Franklin Street.
After that, finding Bill & Hawk's place was easy. Hawk was there, and let me in. We chatted for a while, then looked at some photos of the previous weekend's NC social. Bill came back from work, and we talked some more, then went to sleep.
The drive down was fairly uneventful. We passed the Giant Peach of Gaffney, SC, and a billboard advertising "Crazy Steve's Fireworks Shack." We read the latter as "Crazy Steeve's Fireworks," and had 30 seconds or so of amusement. (See a picture)
Finally, we got to the appropriate exit for Casa Sadun. Hawk and Bill successfully deciphered the directions given by Erica "Right Next to the Clarendon Metro Stop" Sadun, and we arrived. After unpacking all our stuff from the car, we went to the front door, rang the bell, and stood there. And stood. We figured that nobody was home, and didn't feel comfortable going in when nobody was there. So, we waited on the front lawn for a few minutes, trying to think up some appropriate GKT thing we could do. Our equipment was limited; all the Saduns had on their front porch was some lawn furniture, a garden hose, and a grill.
We considered putting a Dragon's Fang on the door, but we didn't have any chalk, nor did we have paper to make a sign. However, we had something worse. Far worse. I turned to Hawk and Bill and said, "Did you happen to bring the Bhar'nee?" Hawk produced it from her bag, along with some tape (those Greens, they're always prepared, kinda like Boy Scouts). So, we Bhar'need the front door, then decided to drive around and see if we could find a mall food court to hang out in. (Yes, Erica, it was us. I'm sorry I had to deceive you, but it wouldn't have been a very good joke if I'd told you right then.)
After about half an hour, we returned, found most of the other folks already there, and played dumb wrt the decoration of the front door.
It turned out that that bunch of Darkfriends had gone to Oxford Too Books (discussed further, below). "Ivis spent many gold marks on books....I think she got some of them for Emmet," says Brian.
Yes, folks, we have a new record for "Farthest distance travelled for the express purpose of going to a DFS." Dave Hemming came all the way from Birmingham, England just to see us. Your prize is the Ob$cene Income poster. Send Bill & Hawk your address, and get them to send it to you.
Dave remarks, "After Hawk mentioned her back problems, Auntie Erica produced a curious device, consisting mainly of buckles and straps, and proceeded to arrange Hawk in it, then Ivis. Bill expressed considerable interest, asking, "Can we borrow that tonight, Erica?"
Since we had a quorum, we decided to open Mark Loy's present. The first gift was already "open," an Aes Sedai floral arrangement--it had all the Ajah colors in it. The Fedex box contained...
An inflatable man, with Realistic Vibrating Penis. ("Realistic _Vibrating_ Penis?" That's a contradiction in terms," commented Dave.)
It was accompanied by a note along the lines of "Dear Darkfriends, since I couldn't make it in person, I sent this 'pricksy proxy' in my stead."
Erica wouldn't let us blow up the inflatable Loy, so there are no pictures.
[Mark complains, "Even my proxy has trouble getting a blow job!"]
Two other guests arrived later, Joel "Elwood" Eaton, and John Adcox. Adcox brought the LOC press kit to show us, it contained a very cute Wheel of Time chalice. He also brought a tape of an interview he'd done recently with RJ, but it turns out it was not the right tape, so we didn't get to listen to it.
There was still some time to go until dinner, so we decided to pass it in a mature, adult manner--making long-distance prank phone calls. The idea started out innocently enough, since Mark Loy had ASKED that we call him. However, Mark was not home. Erica then asked, "Well, who else could we call?" We didn't have Judy's new phone number, and nobody knew Novak's number. Thoughts of Loy naturally led us to think of Lara Beaton, whose phone number we DID have. Bill took the helm, having had experience with this sort of thing (See the Blight Social report):
"Hello, could I speak with Lara Beaton?" (pause) "Are you a good Darkfriend, Lara?" (pause) "What have you done to serve the Great Lord recently?"
Lara got passed around the room to talk to lots of different people. Erica said, "I'm a Trolloc .... are you a goat?" (Lara adds: that was my favorite line. Bill asks: Did you hear the kissing noises being made in the background?)
Bill loudly shouted, "Yeah, she'll NEVER believe that!" just before she got passed to Dave Hemming, whom she refused to believe was really himself from overseas. Lara even got to talk to Jain Farstrider, who was at the social (channeled through Bill):
"...then I hung out with that wolf-guy... wolfie... Wolf Man Jack, that was his name..."
"...I spent some time with them big, Hee Haw-lookin' guys... the Oh-Geer, yeah, that's them."
"...yeah, I been on the barrel, I been off the barrel, I been fallin' off and climbin' back on all day. It's a pain t' sit on a barrel when yer drunk."
The moral of this is "Don't give your phone number out to a bunch of DFs, unless you want them to call you."
We went up to Erica's office and looked at Bryan Ecker's picture of Bela the Mare-draal, and Don Harlow's "a curious resemblance" page. Bill notes: That was all because of my shameless plugging of my Web pages. "Hey, d'ya wanna see a picture of a goat-kissing Trolloc? Bela drawn as a Fade? Novak's face on Megan's body? 17,000 stupid pictures of me? Let's just dial up my web page...."
We went out to eat and decided on Thai food, since it wasn't in anybody's dietary killfile. We drove in a convoy ("We've got a Darkfriend convoy...") to the restaurant; on the way we passed a sign reading (approximately. I don't remember the exact wording):
+-----------------+ | OB$CENE | | INCOME | | SEMINAR | | | | MLM Enterprises | |_________________|This was put in the "steal on the way back from the resaturant" file, and we continued to the restaurant.
(For the humor-impaired, view this as: "Seminar on making money in obscene ways, sponsored by Mark Loy Management," not "Seminar on making obscene amounts of money.)
Meanwhile, the folks in the second car were not so happy. "Our car was reminiscent of the cramped carriges for the men in Ebou Dar. Erica's route also deserves a few comments, as several theories were postulated in our car." Brian remarks.
I believe we may have set another DFS Record with this social. We spent a large amount of time ACTUALLY DISCUSSING THE BOOKS AND RJ. Incredible, eh?
One idea for future froup fun-n-games we had was a Cover Art contest--best replacement ACOS cover.
Bill suggested that many Literary Truths can be discovered in TWOT, if you apply the metric:
Dinner was quite tastey. I must say that some of the most successful DFS's, foodwise, have involved Thai restaurants. This one didn't have Chicken Cooked In the Manner of a Thai Boxing Ring, but I made do with Fantasy Curry.
After dinner, we went back to Casa Sadun, and called the Loy. Erica, Ivis, and Hawk revealed themselves to be shameless Loy Groupies, all fighting over who would get to talk to him next.
We then travelled to the local cinema, where we caught _Independence Day_. The 10.00 showing was sold out, so we had to wait for the 10.45. We provided a great demonstration of "Men are different from women." Ivis, Erica, and I went off to the bank to get some cash. When we returned, all the men had gone off to a bar to drink, and only Hawk was there. I got some coffee, then we chicks listened to Erica tell the tale of Alberto's parents.
Here is the tale of the bar, as told by Dave Hemming:
"We wandered around for _ages_ trying to find somewhere serving (or selling) beer. There was much discussion on how much easier it would have been with a Ta'veren. Bill commented that if Mat were with us, a drunk would have staggered up, shouting directions. Bill adds: That was about the time I was wandering around in front of the theater, wearing my sunglasses at night (hey, even a little Light bothers some of us), barking the one-word mantra "Beer!" every few seconds.
Dave comments: I was going to mention it, but I couldn't find the right words to convey your monomaniacal intensity, or the way people steered well wide of us.
In the bar (actually a pizza place) Viren mercilessly hounded the poor bartender after being told that he couldn't have a Long Island Iced Tea, due to company policy. Or a straight shot of Peach Schnapps. Or a double.
Now back to the movie, and Pam:
My end of the row (basically Ivis, Erica, and I) enjoyed the film a great deal. Things went fast and blew up. Big things went slow and blew up. I liked the twist on the War of the Worlds deal--killing them with a "virus." Yah-boo-sucks to all you folks complaining about the scientific inaccuracies. If you want scientific accuracy, read one of Novak's engineering books. I'm probably going to see it again, at some point. Of course, if you like _serious_ movies, you shouldn't be seeing this film in the first place.
Bill adds: The suspendability of disbelief was severely hampered by Alberto, Erica's astrophysicist husband. "A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation says that a mass the size of the mother ship that close to earth would have a tidal influence a million times as strong as the moon and sun."
Erica responds: Thanks for the mensh of my beloved warder and his envelope calculations... He thinks everyone was very nice but a wee bit strange.
Bill comes back: I'm tempted to say the feeling's mutual, but given that he saw his wife go haring off with a bunch of half-drunk people and return with a stolen roadsign in her trunk, I'll cut him some slack.
Post-film, we all went to sleep.
We ate, and then Ivis left for NC. We gave her our farewells, and went back to Erica's again. The members of the weaker sex sat down in the living room and gossiped, while the women went upstairs and lugged around Erica's heavy furniture.
Since nobody actually wanted to _keep_ the inflatable Loy, we decided to start a new tradition: "The inflatable Loy will be to DFS's as the torch is to the Olympics." (Bill's words.) We _were_ going to inscribe all our names on it, but although Erica has dozens of pens, she has NO permanent markers.
[Bill comments: The Loy Toy flew with me to Seattle the following weekend, but nobody came to take it from me. I still have it.]
Afterwards, we travelled to the local used bookstoore, Oxford Too Books. The selection was very good; the best used-SF section I've seen apart from that of The Stars Our Destination in Chicago. The prices aren't the best I've seen in a used store, but it was pretty decent. Their used comics selection wasn't so good; they didn't have _any_ backissues of _Preacher_. *sniff*.
Brian adds, "In here should be mentioned that Erica should never lead a convoy. Viren and I ran several red lights just to keep up with the other two cars."
After the store, we went our separate ways. Erica took Dave to the train station so that he could get to the airport. I assume Brian and Viren just went to their respective homes. Bill, Hawk, and I set off for NC.
Bill adds, "The air _was_ the Taint. Try to breath in, and sometimes you got oxygen, other times you got nothing but the roiling dirtiness. I even got sick from it. Was it the wasting disease? Might have been... I think I coughted up significant parts of both lungs in ensuing week. Yes, the air quality index (AQI) was terrible. On a scale of 1 ("good") through 10 ("bad"), it scored 35 ("really, really, shitty")."
We got off to take a picture of Crazy Ste(e)ve's Fireworks shack. Most appropriately, the state Whitecloaks had chosen that exit to set up a "Drug Checkpoint." I still don't know what the deal with that was. All they asked was to see Bill's driver's license.
Bill adds, "And it was good that's all they wanted to see. If they'd looked in the car, they'd have seen the inhaler and 2 types of pills I had for my asthma, the steriods and sedatives Hawk had for her sore back, and the bag full of syringes and needles you had for your insulin. I was happy to not have to explain all that." After 3 hours, we were more than happy to stop for dinner. We went to a nice, air-conditioned restaurant and relaxed. Although we'd only been travelling 3 hours, it felt like we'd been on the road for at least twice that time.
Bill wanted to look at the afore-mentioned Giant Peach, which was just an exit back (or maybe the exit we were at). So, we went, and took some pictures. It was Sunday evening, so it wasn't open, and thus we couldn't go in.
Somewhere along the way, we decided that all the regular posters should take book names. I could be Rand (or Rhanda) Al'Thor, Hawk could be the Car'a'carn, Bill could be the Dragon Reborn, Loy could be Lord of the Morning, MPS Mike could be the Coramoor, Erica could be Lews Therin, and Novak could be Moridin.
To make a long, unpleasant story short, the drive sucked, but we finally got back to NC, and there was much rejoicing. We were too tired to blow up the Loy Toy, so AFAIK, it's still in Bill's trunk. We talked for a time, Hawk went to bed, and Bill and I chatted for a while longer.
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