November 30, 2001

vampire weaning in progress

My friend Dan Klemz was nice enough to give me some webspace over at It looks like Cromlech will finally be weaned off of its UMD hosted teat. For now, please update your linky-poos to the following address:

As soon as I find time I’ll figure out how to automatically forward you to the new link. Oooh, I hope ya’ll’re as excited as I am!

As I’m looking at this, I may have to revamp the way Archived Blithers are arranged. I’m writing more Blithers and less other stuff this year, and putting an entire month on one page is making for a godlessly large page. Ahh, but tis an activity for when my academic pile of crap has been shoveled out of the stables. A true Herculanian effort. I will be a half-god when I am done, and will summon lightning and low-fat snack goods at the furrowing of my brow.

So, they’ve been putting up flyers around campus with the “All School Photograph,” which consists of a meager hundred students or so. If you look at it closely, the people are standing on some impossibly green grass… and they aren’t casting any shadows. How is this possible? Why would they represent UMD’s 9,000+ student body as a mere one hundred people that, if one is to believe ancient folklore, don’t have souls?

Unless it’s a typo. A very important word has been omitted, for this is obviously the “All School Vampire Photograph.” Each smiling face is the visage of the damned, a creature of the night that want nothing but to sink its teeth into your flesh and shoot big friggin’ guns and score huge at the box office, if one is to believe the movie Blade.

Funny, for I seem to have a lot of friends in this photo.

But then you ask, how can they be outside in daylight? Isn’t the main weakness of the vampire race that the sun turns them into smoldering piles of refuse? Your skepticism is admirable, but consider this: Dracula never had at his disposal the conveniences of modern society. With luxuries such as happy-baby sunscreen with SPF one-billion protection, online ordering and internet-ready coffins, any credit card wielding vampire can have a crate of sunblocking ooze mailed right to his door

Beware, for UMD is not safe from the undead, so long at they are posing for pictures. Ph33r th3 3v1l l33t.

November 29, 2001

lo, my work! my industry!

Please be warned. The following account was written at 2:00 am. There is no reason I should be up at 2:00, whether it be insomnia or philosophy papers or Super Wild Turkey Hunter III with New Action Squawking Death Noise and BASS.

I think it’s time I draw the following conclusion. I hate college. It makes me a complete monster. I snap at my friends, I ignore my family, I abuse myself. Anything that should have any meaning to me is tossed into a sacrificial fire for some goal that I still don’t fully understand, even after three years of this. As I reach back for my most pleasant thoughts of college, none of them encompass sitting at my computer and writing papers… not even going to class, for that matter. They are slouching in Erik Stromstad’s dorm room watching Simpsons. They are silly, mind-expanding conversations with Natasha at Du Nord. They are Nerd Parties with a wonderful group of friends that I have all but ignored this year. It is playing Bubble Bobble with Andrew Bartelson. Doing most anything Wooch! related. I had hoped all the forlorness would blow over by changing my major, but that is obviously not the case. Tom says I drive myself too hard, and I’m inclined to agree… though I feel I have no choice in the matter.

I treat friends like they’re a noisy inconvenience, distracting me from my precious work. Lo, my work! My industry! Where would I be without thou? I have a high value for academic excellence, but at what cost? I act as though I’m the only person in the world who feels this way. “None of you mere mortals can possibly identify with the stresses I’m feeling.” No one could ever accuse me of suffering quietly. But then, I romanticize. Actually I am not convinced of the individuality of my experience, but that itself is troubling. I feel that most other hardworking students have the same internal issues, and yet externally they seem to have them reconciled. “If they can put up with it, there’s no reason I can’t.” I have never felt that any excuse is a valid one, a belief that has trickled down from my Hopkins Jazz Ensemble I years. Excuses are weakness; a mask over your true character. If you do wrong, suck it up and do better next time, but don’t try to justify the past.

This academic stress is no sudden surprise. It’s not like my peacefully slumbering body was doused with a bucket of cold water come junior year. No. My freshman year was my junior year, with a mind-whirling music major as my chosen poison. Many nights I laid awake to the ghetto bass of the room below, trying to reason this exact same problem. Life versus Academics. There seems to be no overlap between the two.

I’m bored with how rudimentary my existence has become. Mark tells me that he just finished hanging up Christmas lights, and my mind is so singular that all I can think is, “Christmas lights don’t get essays written.” I’m normally a warm and amiable person, but for some damn reason I’ve gone stupidly cold and bitter.

By writing down these thoughts I risk cementing them; giving the ideas more credit than they are due. Perhaps my critical analysis of myself is inaccurate, and all this Blither amounts to are meaningless utterances. Perhaps I will feel peachy-keen on the morrow, and upon reflection these words will only act as a pair of concrete shoes.

My apologies for this entry not inducing pales of laughter, but Dane prides himself on being a dynamic individual. Please enjoy this as one of those days of dynamism. Please disregard that last sentence, as all I really wanted to do was write the word ‘dynamism.’ What a cool word. Dynamism, dynamism, dynamism. Try writing that three times fast. I promise you’re fingers will trip all over the keyboard. Go on, try it!

November 28, 2001

i starded mah filosofie papaer

Mornings aren’t as fun as they used to be. My brain feels like it’s brimming with a keg of Monkey Island Grog. It’s not a lack of sleep, as I’m getting plenty of that, but probably a lack of ambition. Thoughts of the day immediately start to gnaw at my weary soul, and all I can think of is all the things that will inevitably remain undone at the day’s closure. It starts bad, and slowly degrades until bedtime.

Frank Sinatra said, “I feel sorry for people that don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s the best they’ll feel all day.” Hmm. My mornings are really crappy, and apparently this is because of my lack of alcoholism! If I go to bed sloshed and wake up with a hangover, the day can only get better, right? I will take Sinatra’s advice, and from henceforth I will spend every waking moment in an alcoholic stupor. I’ll put beer on my Chex in the morning and nip from a flask through my morning classes. During my afternoon break I will entertain a warm thermos of Kahlua, and by the time jazz rolls around I’ll be a stumbling, slurring bucket of fun fun fun.


Whooopeiie! Ryan gots me some Millar Hihg Liffe, so the expertamint New LIfe began n0w! Now I’m gooona go fine Neighghche the philsopher a and make hum give me hIS! Toobverculosis. Ahh! Mah new life gis da Hiiiigh Life with’ the ahecheacp ebbear that goed alonged withed ited. I starded mah filosofie papaer on Eume wuith the H and I’ve writed three pages! WOoo! Theree! only fifety treaah mmoaere to go.

Ok, well, that was a fun experiment. I only wish I could get that drunk. Now, I complain, complain, complain. Oh, woe is me, poor Dane has a shyt-ton of writing to do and all he wants to do is go play in the snow, break out the Xtreme sled and get another concussion…

…yes, I whine a lot, but tonight put it all in perspective as I was driving back from my reporting session at the Round About. I may think my life sucks, but at least I’m not the guy with one leg pushing himself in a wheelchair down the middle of 4th Street in the snow.

November 27, 2001

proof of identity

Still snowing. Still winding. Not winding, mind you, but winding. The ‘i’ is a short sound. Touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Go on. I promise I won’t watch.

I’m not really paying attention. Justin Roth concert tonight. Pulled a rabbit out of my cranium, wrote an article about it and sent it down to the editors in the musty dungeon full of chains and wrath. Lord knows what they plan for it. Perhaps they will slice it into thin strips and use it to whip prisoners. Or maybe they will stick it in some hot water and brew a mighty fine tea. Crumpets and tea at noon, my lady. Don’t mind the octopus; I just keep him around to open up stuck mason jars.

One piece of writing scrawled into the wall, four more to go. How wonderful it will feel to finish number five, scratch that line straight through the other four. Closure. Until the next, yes, but temporary, yes. Indeed.

I think I will read Walden or perhaps sleep or possibly find out why the Round About was closed today. This weather seems to be complicating my savvy reporting to no end.

She wants to write my essay, but she knows not of the philosophies of David Hume. Silly little girl. Silly, little, 17-year-old girl. I’ll bet she still reads YM magazine. Not that I read it, oh no. Never. I despise drivel like that, especially in grocery store checkout lanes. We finished off the cake today.

Poetic license has been torn asunder. There will be no proof of reading.

November 26, 2001


Finally, a snowstorm. Being indoors feels right now, all cozy and everything. I can with good conscience hunker down and read and write and scratch my head and rub the tiredness out of my eyes.

It pains me to say, the Chuck Taylors may have to go in the closet. They are wonderful shoes, oh so comfortable, but the baby-smooth soles are a death wish signed by Satan himself when worn on ice and snow.

I got my Atta Boy hat back from the Cloquet theatre, after telling them that it had significant sentimental value. I left it there a few Fridays back when we went to see Harry Potter. A guy working the ticket desk recognised me as one of the sax players in UMD Jazz One; he saw us at our Halloween concert and when we went on tour to Esko. I thanked him for giving up his Halloween to spend with us. He inquired as to what sentiments I had attached to the hat. I dodged the question, and on the way back to my Tracer came up with all sorts of funny answers.

“It’s actually made out of my dog.”

“It’s the hat my girlfriend died in.”

“My mom made it for me right before she went to the asylum. They call her Madam Twitchly McGigglekins down at the farm.”

“What hat?”

note: funny answers will be included at a later date.

Hey! Speaking of funny, how ’bout some more Funny from Thanksgiving break?!?!?! We (me, my parents, Greta and Tyler, Tyler’s parents, Tyler’s uncle Dick and aunt CantrememberhernamerightnowbutIknowitstartswithL, and what seemed like 14 raging dogs) were sitting in the nautical-themed living room eating hazelnut chocolates. These special treats came with fortunes written in five languages, one of which was often a form of English.

Dick read his fortune, furrowed his brow, and read it aloud.

There is also a kind of happiness that brings a feeling of fear to the heart.


“It’s probably a one-word phrase in German,” offered my father.

“Yeah,” agreed Dick. “Sauerkraut.”

November 25, 2001

turkey, cars, robots

Thanksgiving break was wonderful. I pulled into my driveway down in Hopkins and was greeted by a green Mercury Tracer. She will be the successor (or usurper, if you will) of the Noble Tempo. After playing with the rear hatch and folding back seats (“I could sleep in here!”) you would think I would take her out for a spin… nay, it was not until after I installed the Tempo’s cd deck in the Tracer that driving it finally crossed my mind. She handles well. Tight brakes, sensitive gas pedal and the dead-fish, loagy steering inherent in all Ford products. I love it. She got 30 miles to the gallon pokin’ around the Cities and driving back up to Duluth.

Greta and Tyler soon showed up to the house… with a puppy. Black lab/everything mix, answers to Shara, multiple rows of razor-sharp teeth.

We went to Tyler’s parents’ place in Fergus Falls for Thanksgiving II. Beautiful house on a lake, with a high-ceilinged, nautical-themed living room. The house was overrun by dogs… Murphy the golden retriever already lives there, and Tyler’s father’s sister and brother-in-law (the English language needs more words for describing extended family) brought Dexter and Duff… two more large poochies. We supplied a socially self-conscious dachshund and Shara. The Zenners own a cat as well, but she wisely chose to spend the weekend in the basement.

I slept Friday night on the hide-a-bed and had a really cool dream. The Transformers were besieging the Death Star, and had tried to gain entry by flying their huge ship into a loading bay. The cunning Stormtroopers closed the blast door just as the ship was reaching it, so Optimus Prime and some fellow Autobots floated out of their ship to blow up the door.

“Get ready with the boom-booms,” said Optimus.

“Boom-booms are in place,” said Bumblebee, or some talking robotic equivalent.

“Detonation in three, two, one…”


[What the hell was that?]


[There it goes again! Oh, wait…]

I woke up, and realized the cat had just come up to visit.

November 21, 2001

born in the crazy saloon

In light of yesterday’s Blither, Ryan Hankins has revoked my poetic license. Where I used the word ‘ourselves’, he said, ‘us’ would have been infinitely more appropriate. I agree, but that still does not justify the XXtreme injustice I have wrought. My deepest sympathies go out to those that were affected by my abuse of grammar.

The school is a ghost town today, minus the cool old Wild West buildings, tumbleweed, outhouses and ghost horses tied out in front of the dusty ghost tavern. What if people rode outhouses instead of horses? When you go out to dinner there would actually be a parking lot full of outhouses, and you would hand your keys to the pimply valet kid and say, “It be th’ weathered gray one whit th’ half moon cut in th’ door.” Then he would poke around the lot for three hours looking for your outhouse because they all look the same, and he would finally return with one and you’d slap him across the face and say, “You insolent cretin! This here ain’ mah outhaus, cuz mine got a fine leathah interior and lace curtains and this one ain’t got nothun’ but dat fancy veeloor seet covah!”

And then Matt Grimm would show up in the hallway with a thumpin’ stereo, playing Rawhide really loud and dancing some crazy jig. The RAs would try to stop him, but Matt cites the poster that designates the hallway as “someone’s front porch.”

“We’re just partying on our front porch,” says Matt Grimm. And the RA notes the poster’s other statement, that one must “tread quietly.”

“Front porch!” “Tread quietly.” “Front porch!” “Tread quietly.”

This place is nuts.

November 20, 2001

defy the ogres

The temperature is below freezing. Incredible.

There is no reason we should have school this week, and I mean that from a pragmatic standpoint, not a spoiled and lazy college student perspective. No one’s heart is in learning or teaching during any portion of Thanksgiving week. Kids are in a stupor and professors are restless, eager to hear numerous admissions from their students that they will be unable to make it to class. The more of these cases a prof can have under her belt, the better she can justify a full cancellation of class. This is the ultimate goal from all sides, with the only exception being the ogres at Admissions… and Admissions is no doubt just putting on airs, citing Educational Objectives and such to discourage widespread academic chaos.Oh yes, they put on their officiating face, but I am sure that every one of them is just as human as ourselves, ready to blow this joint for a moment. The heart of each and every person on campus longs for a full week of freedom.

Another long day. Philosophy, two hours of reading in the library, American Lit, lunch, nap, jazz, jazz dancing, jazz concert, two more hours of reading. These are not the actions of a man gearing up for a long weekend. These are the actions of a desparate man that sees on the horizon two very large essays looming, making threatening gestures and prancing about and ooking and making such an irritating racket.

That’s it for tonight. I’m gonna do some Journalism and sleep. I’ve got a day ahead of me tomorrow… two classes that refused to be cancelled, three hours of Tempo driving, and rumors of a new vehicle awaiting me at the other end. To all of you, I wish the merriest Thanksgiving. Do a lot of eat and sleep.

November 18, 2001

the leonids

Please lower your voices… I’m trying to sleep.

The Leonids were spectacular. We finally left Duluth a bit before midnight and later arrived at a deserted Palisade Head. Keeping a safe distance from the cliff, we set out sleeping bags and a telescope, got ourselves comfortable and watched the cosmic show. No one bothered to keep count of how many meteors they saw, but I would say one hundred in the first hour (1:00, way before they peaked) would be a fair estimate. It was absolutely beautiful, and one of the most incredible nights of my life. At times we would see five meteors light up the sky in just as many seconds. We would see huge, blue and orange tails streaking half way across our vision. Some tails would linger a few minutes after the meteor had done its thing. Some meteors would shoot behind clouds and backlight them. The experience was so surreal.

Mark brought his telescope and trained it on Jupiter and Saturn. We could see two distinct bands around Jupiter and the rings around Saturn were clear and distinct. They looked fake, like white cardboard cutouts on black felt.

The weather was incredible, a balmy 50 degrees or so and no significant cloud cover. Nate Bahls was stunned by our luck. We actually planned something, did it, and everything cooperated. As the meteors were peaking around 4:00 we broke out the Wooch! cheese sandwiches. Take a huge bite of bread, a bite of cheese, and chew for five minutes.

I slept like a baby ‘neathe the stars last night and it was outta sight.

Finally curled up in my Slumberjack at 5:00 and woke at 7:00 to watch the sunrise over the Lake. Josh dropped his keys down a 25 foot crack and Luke used a fishing lure duct taped to a bunch of rope to fish it out. We drove home, the entire world asleep except for the occasional hunting party and repentant sinner.

It was one of the coolest experiences ever, but my writing skills are too limited to fully reflect that. I think Mark summed it up perfectly when he said, “Another testament to why Wooch! kicks ass.”

November 17, 2001

a good coat

Harry Potter. Rocked. All the characters and locales were dead-on accurate. The Quidditch match was funktabular. My mom saw the movie at 9:40 am, I saw it at 9:30 pm. She said there were only 30 people in her theater, but they were all really nice people. One lady was a practicing witch, and another woman, not much younger than my mother, had a face full of piercings. How this has any bearing on the niceness of the people I don’t know, but I thought they were interesting details so I threw them in.

Today was marked with firm resolve. “I’m gonna make a cake!”

This statement was later amended into the past tense, “I made a burned and raw, lumpy cake!” We don’t have an electric mixer, and I’m too lazy to be any good at mixing by hand. I blamed the poor results on our flimsy wisk. Ryan blamed my flismy wrists. After 30 minutes in the oven I did the fork test (we don’t have toothpicks) and pulled a large, gooey section out of the cake’s middle. Well that’s no problem, I can just fill it with frosting.

Frosting covers the lumps too. Sometimes all the world needs a good coat of frosting to hide all the little ills. And another thing: where’s my snow?

Tonight will consist of a Sunny Wicked concert and staying up all night watching meteors at Palisade Head. I’m so excited I soiled my trousers.