Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy the spread...
(That's so bad it's good.)

May the Black Pope's most special holiday blessing be upon each member of the Flock on this day of gratitude. I am grateful for each and every one of you. Go where ever you go in safety, give thanks, eat way too much, and fall asleep in front of the TV with your pants unbuttoned. Amen.

I decided to give you all one more thing to be grateful for by not posting the really bad "stuffing" joke I made up to go with Miss Turkey here...

Sunday Sermon
Unseen Forces

As the semester draws to a close, many members of the Flock begin to feel the pressure of research papers, lab reports, and other assignments piling up. You begin to believe it will never be done... you'll fail the class, thus ruining your GPA and with it, any hope of getting into a decent grad school... you'll go on to some third-tier degree mill, get a meaningless PhD, and fifteen years from now you'll be unmarried, sharing a frozen dinner with your cats as you try to pay off your $110,000 worth of student loans by teaching Art History in some backwater liberal arts college in the Midwest!

The Ministry feels your pain. We realize that it's not always your fault - there may be other forces at work in your failures... Dark Forces.

Could it be that your research paper is not done because Foy-Verekod, The Bloody Hunter has placed a bounty upon your soul? Perhaps your hard drive has been possessed by Ka-Tidzawh, The Blind Forbidden Duke with a Thousand Young!

These demons and many others can be yours with the new
Evil Deity Generator! Why blame your poor time-managements skills, or even the demands placed upon you by family, friends, and your nearly non-existent love life for your poor academic performance? With the Evil Deity Generator you can craft beautiful, unverifiable metaphysical excuses for your Profs.

It wasn't the dog that ate your homework - it was eaten by Teexyaiclt, The Goat of the Final Universe!

You don't have to fabricate an ailment - call it a curse from Utzriel, The Depraved Maw of the Darkness with a Thousand Voices!

This collection includes old favorites like, Nooypug, The Bloody Consumer in the Unholy Gateway, Tnuxyaal, The King of the Depraved Vortex, and Muuxhitl, The Howling Forbidden Sultanna of the Underworld with a Thousand Children!

All kidding aside, we are all going to be under pressure the next few weeks. Be good to each other, and to yourselves. Budget your time wisely, get plenty of sleep, eat regularly, and try to take time out each day to just sit and breathe. These moments may seem miserable now, but one day we will look back fondly on them. We will long for the friends we had here, and even the hours spent in the library or the lab will seem golden. Hold the day close, and give each its full measure.

And remember; Taestiel, The Ravening Eye of the Woods is watching you...

Go in Peace.

As requested by some of the Flock, today we are going to discuss
Playing with Swords...

I want to make one thing very clear on this topic. For the Reverend, playing with swords will never be the light-hearted thing that playing with boomerangs is. I have a deep respect for the traditions and etiquette of the Western Martial Arts, and I will expect others to do the same. When you fence, you are learning how to handle a weapon that was meant to take another man's life. Regardless of your reasons for fencing (recreation, fitness, coordination, camaraderie, etc.), its original intent deserves to be treated with some seriousness.

Now that the philosophical disclaimer is out of the way, let's look at weapon styles. These practice swords are probably the best soft sword design out there at the moment (see the link called "Padded Contact Weapon Design). These can be used in the absence of armor or masks, if we play with common sense and restraint. Since we have neither (ahem) I am going to suggest that we at least wear eye protection.

These are a significant step up from the padded weapons that were available a few years ago. They supposedly have a much better "feel" than previous foamies, and are much closer to the weight of an actual sword. Supposedly, a guy can make one in about 2 hours, for about $12.

If you are not a do-it-yourself type guy, there is always this option. Yes, those are foam. They are pricey, but pretty. I have no knowledge regarding their usability. My guess is that they are very light... which can be good if you have no control.

There are several other companies out there making boffers as well. Here are a few...
Tyger Knight Smithy
Edhellen Armoury (They offer group discounts...)
Sei Do Kai

At the next level of contact in Western swordplay, there is a fork in the road. You can go the fencing route, and shift over to a late period style of combat in which the thrust is king - it is very challenging and a great form of exercise, but it bears little resemblance to any kind of real swordplay. I was authorized to fence with all weapon forms in the SCA, but truthfully, I find it rather boring. I have always preferred having the ability to slash.

The other fork in the road leads to stick and waster fencing. Wasters are wooden swords, usually made of Hickory, or a similar hardwood. They can be quite realistic, both in weight and, unfortunately, injuring power. (This is not to be confused with the type of swords that we used in SCA heavy weapons combat, which are made of rattan. They actually are more like the batons used in Behourd tourneys of the 14th and 15th centuries. They too can maim and kill, and full armor is required.)

There are several companies making wasters as well. Here are a few...
Purpleheart Armoury, Raven Studios, and the cleverly named Wooden Weapons.

These require heavy masks and padded gloves at the very least, and quite a bit of "touch." In other words, until I see that the folks who want to play with swords can do so with a modicum of control and accuracy, I'm not willing to expose my limbs to their flailing. After a decade of SCA heavy weapons combat at a fairly high level, I am quite aware of the ouchies that wooden swords can dish out. I still limp when snow is on the way...

So - it is now up to the Flock to do some homework. I suggest that you all look at the foamies at the top of this post as a starting point. I'd love to use those as a stepping off point, to work the group up to something like this.

Honor Super Omnia.

Bathroom graffitti

Recently, a dialog of sorts has been brewing in the bathroom nearest my work station. The topics are varied...

"Democrats can suck my dick - I like my guns."
"How are you going to buy more guns without a job you ignorant fuck?"
"I've never had a hard time finding a job, so you can eat shit asshole."
"Yeah, but not all of us suck dick as a source of income."

"Democrates are bad for America"
"Was Enron good for America? And what the hell is a 'Democrate'? Fucking stupid Republican."

Race Relations
"Kill niggers"
"Give the niggers guns - they will kill themselves."
This one was later modified to read:
"Kill bigots"
"Give the redneck Republicans guns - they will kill people in a foreign country for oil."

"Dan (name deleted) received a blumpkin from a shemale right here."
"That was a shemale?"
"That wasn't a shemale - it was your mom."
"His mom sure has a big dick."

This piece was written in black sharpie...
"Had I heaven's embroidered clouds
enwrought with the gold and silver light
the blue the dim the dark
the night the light the half-light
I would spread the cloths beneath your feet.
But I being poor have only my dreams.
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams."
The response was in ballpoint...
"Poetry is gay"

I'm sure that none of the contributors there would express these opinions publicly, but in the privacy of the stall these men are bigots and homophobes and rednecks in a way that they could never be in their daily lives. Perhaps it's all role play - it is a bathroom wall after all; you're supposed to be offensive and childish - but I fear that these sentiments carry a seed of true feeling for these writers.

Despite the disgusting attitudes being delivered there, I am kind of thankful for this sick little community. Surrounded by my liberal friends, it is easy to slip into complacency. I begin to think that things are going well, that tolerance is on the rise, that intelligent discourse is replacing slurs and hate speech. I have only to walk into that stall to find evidence to the contrary.

Progress has been made, but there is much to do still.

Sunday Sermon

It's 7:50 A.M. on a Sunday. The weather page says that it is about 24 degrees outside, with a windchill of 17, so it is too cold for the Flock to go do what passes for church with us - the throwing of boomerangs. We could throw, but the result would be broken 'rangs, jammed/broken fingers, and probably sick parishioners - not worth it. I'm calling around to let folks know that we're going to stay in, and one of the group says, "You're working on the Sunday Sermon, right?"

"Um, yeah. Right now."

Actually, I hadn't even chosen a subject, but she drew my attention to the proper topic...

The weather will not cooperate from now on. We might have a few unseasonably warm Sundays that will allow us to get in some throwing, but it will be April or May before we have warm enough mornings to go consistently again. Shouldn't be a big deal, really - like a great many hobbies, boomeranging has a distinct season - but this has become more than just a hobby for some of us. It is a community time, and I already feel its absence keenly. Despite all of our joking, it has in fact become like going to church for some of us, especially those of us who spent lots of childhood Sundays in a pew. We have spoken a bit about other activities that the Flock could engage in on Sundays, but I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter, as long as we do something.

I could be wrong. Perhaps the Flock would prefer that we take the winter off. I'm putting it to you all - do we want to try to find a warm, indoor space large enough to accomodate us all? Do we want to choose a new activity? Do we want to just sleep in on Sunday?

While we debate this; stay warm, be good to each other and to yourselves.

Go in peace.

Swimming Lessons

I've always thought that I didn't want to linger. I wanted to just wink out, squeezed between the wetted cosmic thumb and forefinger like a guttering candle. I wanted to close my eyes and not wake up here again. To be, then not to be - that was the proposition. I didn't care much about the body at that point; always figured I'd just be cremated and strewn somewhere, but I've been wondering of late if the soul doesn't need a bit of time to pack its shaving kit, and get its affairs in order for the trip. I imagine it takes time to disengage, to let the pains of the physical world fall away - some of us are very attached to our pain. Some of us are our pain.

At some point, though, I figure you must feel ready to take the plunge; you become acclimated to death as it were, and slipping into the river of souls is welcome, like a warm bath after a life long day of shoveling snow. Even though most have an entire adulthood to get ready for it, few of us ever really do much preparing - no spiritual swimming lessons, so to speak - so I figure there is fear, and denial, and doubt - and then acceptance. By then you're just hanging onto the edge, already up to your neck in it, and that kind of swimming comes back to you. You let go, push off, and swim away from this life and the body you used up living it, and find your way home. The pain of this life recedes, and the snow is all shovelled.

mish·mash, n. [Cf. G. mish-mash, fr. mischen to mix.] A collection or mixture of unrelated things; a hodgepodge.

From Craig's List.

Straight male seeks Bush supporter for fair, physical fight
Reply to: anon-47785163@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Nov 03 19:11:50 2004
"I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, and have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you."

Biggest Working Boom

Tony Butz believes he has it. The one pictured here is actually the 6th largest working boom in the world; I'm currently waiting for a picture from him of the biggest one. His response is supposed to include the exact dimensions of the monster - so that I can build one that will beat it. They aren't made of aircraft plywood like most of our 'rangs - they are solid hardwood. He throws these bricks with two hands, hammer style. To count as "working" a megaboom has to go out from the thrower at least 20 meters, and then return somewhere in the accuracy circles. They don't have to be caught (but I'm sure I'll try to catch it anyway - what's one more concussion?).

The Power of Prayer
(from Clifton's Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics)

One member of the Neo-Platonist school, Iamblichus, held that one could approach the One, the highest level of Deity, through theurgy - sacramental magical rites - as well as through pure contemplation. Although contemplation was considered a more desirable form of worship, he suggested that the philosopher could use theurgy to conjure spirits or divine manifestations to confirm his intellectual findings. He opposed the skepticism of Porphyry (a big-time heretic in his own right) regarding ceremonial religion, saying that it was appropriate and beneficial for the majority of the population, who are not capable of living the purely philosophical life. His own experiements in theurgy were apparently fairly impressive; his disciples said that while praying he was at times elevated 10 cubits (roughly 16 feet) above the ground.

Sunday Sermon
Sometimes, a guy just wants to brag about his Flock

Firstly, our own little unbeliever, NerdyGirl, spoke this weekend at an academic conference in Buffalo, New York - not bad for an undergrad. She was doing her part to spread the good news of the Ministry (and you'll just have to ask her about how).

We've also had some physical successes on the boomerang field - and I'm not just talking about Squid falling down less, Mark going several weeks without offering a 'rang up to the trees, or Zeus not smiting anyone of late. I'm referring to our three-foot-long Club Boomerang (so named because it is big enough to use as a club) has been thrown and caught by three of the Sunday Morning 'rang crew. Ancient tradition dictates that once a warrior has tamed the beast, their name and the date of their herculean deed is inscribed on the back.

In addition to my own bad self, both Zeus and Clay have joined this elite cadre of big 'rang ninjas.

I'm sure that there are numerous other great achievements among the Flock, and I'd love to share them with you, but attendance at confession has been a bit sparse of late... so I'll leave it to each of you to share with everyone. If you have recently done a great thing - if you know of someone else who has recently done a great thing - if you know of a great thing about to happen - post it here!

We want it all; births, christenings, confirmations, deaths(?), debuts, ship launches, ground breakings; the works. Blow your own horn, or blow someone elses! Ok, that came out badly...

Go in Peace.

The Annual Pagan Winter Festival approaches, and I was asked by my maternal unit what I wanted the creepy old voyeur in red pajamas ("he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake" [shudder]) to leave under the tree for me.

I thought that maybe one of those nifty USB drives that people keep losing in my computer lab might be cool...

USB Sushi

This same company brought us the Devil Duckie drive

and the Love Duckie drive as well.

Perhaps I could store my data on something more utilitarian...

or maybe something rugged and techno-chic.

After much Googling, I decided to just embrace the toddler within...

Distraught over Ohio's provisional ballots, Petey takes his own life. (Click picture to enlarge)

Election Overview

I've been doing a lot of blog surfing these past two days. The following is a summary of what I found out there in the blogiverse...

Rant rant rant Dubya! Bitch rant moan, rant rant Right Wing rant piss moan. Selfish, greedy rant rant corporate interests bitch rant, lying sack of shit gripe rant weapons of mass destruction!! Piss moan bitch rant Haliburton, bitch bitch War on Terror rant rant deficit. Fucking rant rant Imperialist moan bitch stem cell research, and rant bitch moan Supreme Court bitch bitch rant reproductive rights rant rant fucking conservatives rant bitch moan same sex unions. Rant rant fucking mandate my ass bitch piss rant...

It goes on like this for a few more pages, but you get the gist. The general consensus is...

I know what you're thinking; "As a faithful member of the Flock, what should I know about the Black Pope's position on this issue?"

Glad you asked.

After all-night meetings at the Black Vatican with his Press Secretary, the Department of Spinnuendo, representatives of the Inquisition, and numerous infernal "consultants", a spokesman for the office of His Sinfulness has issued the following statement:

The Flock may make their displeasure known in any number of ways, but the Godpope is partial to placing a small, burning bag of dogshit on the steps of the Whitehouse, ringing the doorbell, then hiding in the bushes. "Sometimes traditional means are the best," the Black Pontiff told reporters at his daily press briefing this morning.

Sources close to the Godpope, however, hint that he might have other tactics in mind as well. Early this evening a rumor emerged regarding the Black Pope's plan to give one of the President's twin daughters a "special blessing." An anonymous Black Vatican staffer quoted the Dark Primate as saying, "The hot one - her name is Barbara, right? Ok, get her on the phone, and stock the Popemobile with condoms and a case of Lone Star - I have a date tonight."

To help the Flock recover from election day, we are going to play...

What's on your clipboard?

Just go to the comments, right click and hit paste. Feel free to explain your cutting and pasting, but it's fine (and sometimes quite a bit more fun) if you don't.

For example, my clipboard currently holds this:

"with love, hugs, and kim chee"

(I know, it's lame... but I can't handle pondering the next four years anymore. Not today, at least.)

Election Day

Did you vote? If you did, you are a hero. The power to vote is a great responsibility.
Make sure to turn up the sound...