The Way Station Celebrates One Year of Whovian Drinking | Artboiled

http://www.artboiled.com/2012/the-way-station-celebrates-one-year-of-whovian-drinking/

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Cruise day 4 (San Juan Puerto Rrrrrrico)…

When we booked our cruise, one of the drawing points was the promise of visiting four countries. I had already been to the Dominican Republic back in the early 90s however this visit would be to an entirely different coast (the east) and I had never been to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico or Haiti (where Royal Caribbean have their private island that is not an island…). The first stop was San Juan and I was excited to see such an interesting place where Ricky Martin and scores of baseball players come from (okay, I cannot think of any more exports). Sadly we learned after booking the trip that it was a bit of a ruse. We would not arrive till 430pm. Sun goes down around 530 in late November and anyone who has travelled to the Caribbean can tell you, night time arrives fast.

We disembarked from the ship and wandered off the pier with no plans. I wanted to get a shirt. A fairly reasonable tour person offered us a cheapish ride in an air conditioned bus to see nearby sights including the big castle/fort structure we passed hours earlier on our way into port.

Note, the entering of the port was uneventful apart from a few minor events. First, the side motors stirred up the filth that silts up the harbour of San Juan. Second, some cruise ship had recently smacked into the pier and crushed a metal guard rail. Third, the US coast guard guys did doughnuts and figure eights to the cheers of the single women on balconies along the port side of the ship.  I found this terribly amusing as I watched the city loom into view.

We toured, did the photography thing, saw a series of bronze statues of US presidents who “bothered” to visit San Juan, watched huge scary waves crash on a beach near some pricey hotels and witnessed a Japanese traveled give a fellow Japanese ex-pat homeless person about $50. We were also shown the condominium where Ricky Martin lives in the penthouse and told we could stop if anyone knew him. When it was all over, darkness having settled early enough to keep us from seeing the castle/fort, we paid the guide and shopped. Weird niknacks purchased, my wife and kids, frustrated at our inability to get a seat at the only decent traditional food place in the area, went back to the ship while I went on a quest for a shirt.

My Excellent Adventure:

Spouse and boys directed to ship, I turned around and marched off to visit a few shops on a sidestreet that headed east if the main town square. The smell of cigar smoke wafted about as merchants sampled their wares at the end of the say along with rum, black and amber, poured into coffee cups. A woman stood as I passed and tried to convince me to coke over, calling me “honey” in Spanish along with something else I couldn’t quite make out that resulted in the men under her awning to laugh aloud. I smiled, said “no gracias” and waved as I walked on.

I wandered into three shops before I found an acceptable t-shirt for under twenty dollars and decided I wanted some food. Now this is where my plan went a bit astray. I checked out a number of menus, listened to a few girls explain the booze specials and continued on my merry way exactly where we were told to not go. West, into the unlit portion of the city.

Now up until this time, there were cops at every intersection, in flak jackets, armed, big, scary in a Spanish Speaking Foreign Country way. Now, no cops. A few stray touristas, a lot of drunk locals, a number of women that I would peg as being prostitutes. I even once turned around mid street when I spied an open shop down a side road and had a cop look at me and go “uh uh. ” as he thought I was heading toward a small gaggle of hookery looking girls. I laughed and pointed at my wedding ring saying “no, no, no, no. Ha ha!”. He laughed too and pointed me in another direction.

Now, no cops, and no prostitutes, just slow driving cars full of young Puerto Ricans looking warily at me. A few blocks into the darkness, I saw sanctuary. A bar called the Red Monkey. It resembled at best, a movie set. Clean though made to look rough. Xmas lights hanging from the ceiling, strange masks and paintings in the walls interspersed with Spanish and English neon beer signs. Oddly, it was almost empty. I walked in.

At the bar sat one of the aforementioned police. He was eating black beans and rice with chicken from a square Tupperware container ans watching TV as a shaggy bartender chatted with him. I sat, ordered “uno biere por favor” and after paying the paltry one dollar I calmly began to watch tv too. It was, oddly relaxing and I felt safe. The bartender leapt for the remote after seeing it was sieze o’clock. He turned it to channel 25 and turned to the cop and I. “Jumanji!” He half yelled. We nodded in approval and the three of us proceeded to watch twenty minutes of Robin Williams dubbed in Spanish. My second beer finished, I issued a “mucho gracias, buenas noches..” and wandered out into the night.

I quickly made my way to the main street, was again unsuccessful finding a quick but safe looking take out, wandered around a Senor Frogs in disgust, watched a parrot show then got in line to reboard the ship.

The lights of the city glowed as I stood on the balcony of our suite and I took more than a few pictures as drumming, whistles and cheers erupted from Senor Frogs back on shore. I wandered off with my wife to get some long awaited food as the boys played PlayStation. St Thomas USVI was the next day, early, and I needed to prepare for more fun.

I think I like San Juan.

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Much Belated Day 3-4 on Cruise, Nov 2013

Well, aren’t I a terrible traveloguer. The last time I went on a cruise I bored you all to death with 7 days of shipboard adventure over a period of five or so days and what did I do this time? I went and finished a book and filled up your feed with ridiculous haikus and poetry. My apologies.

I shall therefore continue

Day three, second full day on ship (from memory):

It got warmer. It got warmer and the bad weather for the most part vanished from (snicker) the horizon. Okay, not completely true, but it got warmer as we passed through Cape Hatteras area and into the warmer gulf air. The day previous, I lashed myself to the upper deck (where I wasn’t allowed) and rode out an amazingly fun storm as the family huddled in the cabin playing Assasins Creed three on the complimentary PlayStation that those of us who overpaid for a Rich Bastard Cabin received. The storm was by far the largest I had ever been in on a ship and although the lightning and thunder was sparse, the waves were spectacular and the wind was strong. I found an area where people had been banned and stood at the very peak, eleven decks up, overlooking the bow of the ship. Wrapped my wrists with rope used to tie down deck chairs and watched the storm roll in. When it finally hit, rain was near horizontal and stung my wind and sun burnt face. I lasted almost half an hour until soaked and happy, I went downstairs too ready for dinner.

The following day, though warmer as noted, was less exciting as the next involved arrival at the island of Puerto Rico. We ate, lazed about, watched some shows, had a few drinks, swam in the pool and generally waited. The ship, the Explorer of the Seas, is older and shows it in places, however it is if anything well decorated. Every corner where the mid deck areas meet the exterior ring of halls, has two display cases containing materials gathered from different areas of the world. Artwork decorates the walls at every stairway landing and along the halls between cabin doorways. If anything, even in a storm, you have a few hours of exploration on the ship without paying a dime. Note, it will cost more than a dime for pretty much anything that you wish to purchase apart from the free food (“free”) available all day long at a few locations in the midship downtown type street. Bottle of allergy medicine? $17 US. Decent beer? $9. Etcetera. We attended a small “street patrty” celebrating the 70s. I can note that a good portion of the persons at said party were definitely in their adult years during the 70s. I also note that based on their actions, they were in comas, living in an ultra religious commune where music was outlawed or incarcerated. We did things with the kids, filled in as much time as possible and went to bed, excited to awake the next day in Peurto Rico. Sadly, we were not arriving there till approximately 4:00 pm.

The next day, we wandered, ate etc. Note, almost everybody on the ship was a gargantuan Hutt of a human who ate HUGE plates of food all day. My children must have looked to these folks like we had retrieved them from their schooling in the Beijing Opera School because they were thin, pale and fit. We didn’t socialize much and didn’t partake in the only other thing these people partook in, excessive day long boozing. It was obvious that these folks were more concerned with quantity of food and booze versus quality. We were not unhappy nor impressed with the food and as we are not ones to eat three plates full every meal, we were in our seats and out again before most had started their multiple desserts.

We decided to temp fate on the afternoon before we arrived and skated on the ice rink in the bowels of the ship. Chatted a bit with the staff (all young kids from the UK and eastern Europe) and being Canadian, skated round and round, faster and faster, as Americans held the boards and stumbled about. Okay, that’s a lie. Neither of my boys skate well and my wife hasn’t done so since before I ever met her 17 years ago. I skated around and around, backwards, forwards, trying to show my youngest what to do (he caught on) and trying to not openly tease my middle boy or my wife, who eventually fall flat on her ass. After an hour, we went back to the room and got ready to disembark in Puerto Rico.

Next up:

Sean’s Awesome Wonderful Adventure in San Juan!
(Beer! Beaches! Babes! Bars! Cops! Prostitutes! Ricky Martin! Robin Williams!)

Shibboleth

My 500th post on this site.

I awoke early this morning after a strange dream. My late friend Brian had me come to a location where he and his father and undefined others were building a soccer field. I was there to try it out and give advice as well as teach him how to better kick a ball long distances. For some reason I showed up in bulky hiking shorts and work boots. When I did try to show him how to better kick, l had difficulty and the ball kept turning into a plastic bucket. We then discussed mowing of the field, watering and mulching and then Brian began to discuss over committal to failed projects.
The dream then turned to become me getting out of a car on the main road with some other friends. They had parked t facing the wrong way on the street, upon the sidewalk. Nobody would listen to me when I tried to get them to correct this. They were mortified when I told them about my meeting with Brian as he has been gone for almost two years. We tried to move the discussion into the restaurant we were trying to eat at but the doors were locked. The restaurant name was Shibboleth.

Alrighty then..

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Mister Dee – Chapter 1 DRAFT

Morning. Another damp, musty earthy dark morning. Chuck the groundhog stirred, sniffed, listened, yawned, stood, well stood on all fours and proceeded to stretch the sleep out of his body. He listened some more, sniffed some more, looked out of his little den and down the long twisty roundish dirt hallway. Nothing to see or hear he headed out into the light of day, pausing only three times to stop, sniff and listen. He reached one of his little earth entrances to the outside world and popped his nose out, sniffed as he squinted his little brown rodent eyes at the bright white of day. All clear, no noises apart from the usual birdy ones, a few moos from distant cattle and a long far sound of a milk truck heading down the road, he fully exited the hole. Food. He needed food. His sleekish furry wet little dirt caked self could wait to be cleaned, he needed nourishment and he knew just where to get it. He headed cautiously toward the farmer’s personal little vegetable garden.

He sauntered in his bumpety chubby little way toward a particularly nice patch of berries he had been planning to devastate for a few weeks. The farmer and his wife had been looking at them, making their stupid little ape noises and smiling a lot with regard to the berries and this particular groundhog, woodchuck, land-beaver to some, had an axe to grind with this farmer. His mate had been killed recently and left as a play thing for the farmer’s dog and Chuck like most groundhogs was not happy. He had spent the better part of the last few weeks digging endless tunnels under a field behind the giant cave thing that the farmer kept his big machine things in. He dug around the farmer’s septic system and machine fuel tanks (both a very smelly experience) and around the exterior of the ape cave in hopes of somehow causing untold damage to these things. So far, nothing of note had happened. No yelling, no hullabaloo, no notice. All that was left he could think of was eating the farmer’s precious damn berries. He stood on his hind legs and looked toward the big stone thing the ape lived in. Seeing no movement, he slunk under the fence (after a short bit of digging) and began to gorge himself.

Far back in the cornfield behind the equipment shed, a small point of brilliant darkness appeared two metres above the ground. It swung to the left and right as if blown by a gust of wind. It settled a few times just above the ground then rose up and resumed its search for The Perfect Spot. Eventually, it found a small roundish hole in the middle of an area riddled with small subterranean tunnels. Inserting itself into the opening, with a small “vuup” it expanded to slightly larger size than the hole, settling itself into the opening, it now a ten inch or so perfectly round ball of oily blackness who’s surface sported a quite pretty swirling oily iridescence. Black on black with tinges of dark indigo and purple.

A single fly buzzed toward the ball. The field was covered with cattle droppings and rank in the morning dew and sunlight but this particular fly ignored all that yumminess and decided that this new thing was appealing. It hovered, swooped, circled, much the same as the orb had done a few minutes earlier. Finally, it landed on the surface of the tasty looking ball. Instantly, it dropped through the ball, into the hole, a dried husk, slightly smouldery. Very dead.

The ball grew in volume approximately that of 0.075% of the volume of the late fly. It made a small “vuup” sound as it did so.
Chuck trundled out of the garden enclosure with predictable caution. He was very full. His fur was not only matted down with dew, mud, a few stray leaves but also some random insects that either lived on him or got caught up in the ever more stickiness of his general being. Now, the front part of him was even more sticky and his normally sleek and clean fur more messy. Berry juice was all over his face, paws and chest. As much as a smallish rodent that lived in a hole in the ground could be disgusted with himself, he was disgusted with himself. Looking left and right and up and down, he sniffed, listened and sniffed some more. He looked toward the ape cave. He looked toward the big cave shed thing that the man put his machines in. Nothing, nobody, just birds and bugs. He headed toward yet another hole he had recently excavated that headed to the wonderful array of tunnels he had constructed behind the machine cave thing. In he popped and he trudged, sticky, gross and dirty, toward the back field where he expected he would have time for a cleaning, a bit of rest in the sun then maybe, perhaps, if it struck him, a bit more digging. It’s what he was best at.
After a few minutes of waddling along, he saw light streaming in from above. He sniffed at the exit hole. Cow. Lots and lots of cow. He wasn’t a particularly big fan of cows they being very large, generally dumb and almost as likely to stomp on him as avoid him. He waited, heard no telltale “moo” or slurpy huffing and decided they must be in the cow cave or another field. His head popped up after he performed the routine sniffing and listening. He saw a single lone cow staring at something in the middle of the field chewing away and thoroughly mesmerized. He exited the tunnel and schlumped around the filthy field, hoping to reach the safety of a nearby feral apple tree before the cow noticed him. He made it about five or six meters before he was able to see what so engrossed the big stupid smelly gassy bovine menace’s attention. It was a ball. A black shiny ball sitting in one of HIS HOLES.
He sniffed.
He looked.
It smelled, odd.
It looked, odd.
The equally perplexed cow slowly began to move toward the ball, sniffing as well and looking as well but of course not as well as Chuck. It moved in and sniffed some more. Chuck for a moment, just a moment, considered yelling out for it to stop, that something smelled awry but reconsidered as frankly, it was just a stupid cow.
It sniffed.
It looked.
It…licked.
It smelled nothing really odd.
It saw something new.
It sizzled and smoked as its very life ebbed out of its collapsing brown husk.
Chuck laughed. Well, not a REAL laugh with “ha ha” or a chortle or anything an ape would recognize as a laugh. It was more of a pleased “grunt grunt grunt” like something a guinea pig would make. He stood up on his hind feet to watch what happened next and noted that the round black thing actually grew in size (approximately 0.075% of the total mass of the stupid cow). He found this very interesting, and being a particularly smart groundhog, would have moved into investigate (cautiously with lots of smelling and looking) however he saw his nemesis appear at the rear of the machine cave with one of those digging things in his hand.
“You. Rodent. Do you have a name.”
Chuck actually jumped at this. A voice INSIDE his head. He ran sideways and backwards and in a circle then ending up a few more meters away he turned back to look (and sniff) hoping it was just the wind.
“Hello. Rodent. Excuse me, do you have a name or are you yet another of these idiotic beasts.”
Chuck looked up and down and left and right and smelled…
“Oh forget it. I was only hoping that since you didn’t run away in fear perhaps you were a bit more evolved than this stinking..”
“Cow” chuck spoke. Well, not with words or sounds that apes would comprehend. More of a short, sharpish, oinky grunt, with slight inflection at the middle and a pronounced “rrwerree” at the end (you would have to have heard it).
“Oh, you are there. Excellent. Hello Cow. You may call me Mister Dee and if you are so inclined, I could use a minion.”
The farmer stopped about thirty meters away from his prize cow’s carcass. He moved his head forward a bit and hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. He bent down and picked up a rock.
“No. That big stupid thing is a cow. I think my name is chuck. At least that’s what that ape over there calls me.”
“Oh, yes, the man. They like to name things.”
A rock hit the cow’s desiccated corpse, creating a small cloud of brown dust and fur to rise up into the morning air. Seconds later, another rock hit the ball with a crack.
“Ouch! What the hades?”
“The ape, man, it threw a stone at you.”
“Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t he just come over and talk to me?”
“Well, they are stupid apes. That’s the kind of thing they do. Here comes another one.”
A third rock, larger, flew through the air in a slow arc eventually connecting with Mister Dee.
“Okay, now I am just getting mad.”
“Here he comes. Watch out, he has his digging stick thing.”
“It’s a shovel. It’s called a shove-el”
“Yeah, they hurt. He killed my mate with one, that one likely.”
“Can you see if it is made of metal?”
“I don’t know what metals is. Can you eat metal?”
“No. You are making me rethink this minion thing you know.”
“I’m a rodent. I live in the ground. What do I know of ape things other than which ones to avoid?”
“Point made. Okay, minion, come over here and speak with the man for me.”
“Um, he can’t understand me. I tried to threaten him when he killed Chuck.”
“I thought you were Chuck? You are messing me up minion.”
“Mate was Chuck too. We are all named Chuck I think.”
“Great. A hippie.”
The man approached Mister Dee, poked the cow with his shovel, swore and muttered under his breath and pulled out his cell phone. He took a few pictures from a variety of angles, emailed them to KUFON and his brother Phillip, put the phone away and noticed the groundhog staring at him from the direct opposite side of the big black oily ball.
“Human, hello, hello you stupid ape moron shit puke cow toucher bad bad stupid.. see, nothing.”
“Gotcha. Hold on. Touch me.”
“Not happening Mister Dee. I saw what you did to that cow.”
“Yeah yeah, perk of being a minion, safety from “The touch”. You are safe”
The man stared at the groundhog, the same one his wife saw in the garden earlier, the same one he was sure was digging tunnels all over his damn yard. He looked at the weird shimmery ball. His phone began to vibrate.
Chuck walked forward and touched the ball with his nose. His head was full of light briefly and he heard a sound like “poing” and could smell cabbage. As quick as it started, he was flung back, alive, not a brown pile of dried up meat, his brain full of words and thoughts and knowings of things that groundhogs, also known as woodCHUCKS and land-beavers (he knew he wasn’t a fucking beaver, stupid damn redneck humans) weren’t supposed to know. He was a RODENT, like a mouse or a skunk (nice damn family) or a weasel or a rabbit, really, a rabbit? Another stupid damn animal. Thoughts, buzzing around in his little head! Stars, Tree names, how to cook salmon!
The man picked up his shovel and reached toward the ball.
“Hey! Chuck! Halloo! Tell ape man to back off. I have a message for all of humanity.”
“MY NAME IS… WILMA!”
“That is a woman’s name, a human woman’s name.”
The man jumped back from the ball and from the groundhog that just yelled at him.
“What the sam hill is going on. Jesus H. Christ! Did you just talk?” He tried to grab his still vibrating phone from his pocket. He dropped it twice and collected it from the dusty cow bits as many times before he finally leapt back with it and opened it, yelling to his brother that “yes, its for real, in the back field..” and he better “get over here with some more boys and the half ton..”.
“Oh for the sake of luna. Look, Wilma. Tell the ape to back off and listen.”
“Stupid stink farmer! Killer of my mate! Move away from my lord Mister Dee. Hows that?”
“Well, good, apart from the “How’s That” part.”
The farmer picked up his shovel and started to sneak around the ball, a combination of hatred and fear in his eyes and mind. He held his phone to his head and tried to one handedly club the groundhog that dared speak English to him and not only that, insult him.”
“Begone stink ape from our presence, run back to your mate who also mates with your sibling when you are away from home at night time.” Wilma/Chuck yelled as he ran circles around Mister Dee, the farmer close behind swinging the, metal (“yes it is metal! I know what metal is!”) shovel.
“Oh.” Was all Mister Dee was able to utter before, invariably, the shovel connected with the oily surface and with a “vuup” toppled forward at speed and crashed into a cloud of pieces and dust.
Mister Dee grew. He grew 0.075% of the mass of the farmer.
Wilma/Chuck completed his circuit, lept onto the man’s head and promptly defecated onto it.
“Ha! Stupid filthy ape!”
“Minion. Lets try next time to actually get the message I need relayed, relayed to the apes.
“Absolutely boss.”
Five miles down the road, Phillip headed toward his brothers’ farm with two of his sons in the bed of the truck.

Fifty miles down the road, Frank Meteor former child star, licensed private investigator, began his day, angry before he even reached the office. He hated his job. He hated dealing with C-Grade celebrities, especially his peers, mostly useless former child stars, helping them straighten out their lives, giving parental advice. At this point, a zombie apocalypse or alien invasion would be welcomed. His phone rang. KUFONA