December 20, 2001

haitus and killer garage doors

Time to head home and do the son/brother thing. I’m gonna miss Duluth, but I’ll be back up here soon enough, and there will be 20 feet of snow on the ground and I will be cursing the day I ever chose to live in this cursed town.

Going home means I won’t be updating Cromlech very often for awhile… if at all. In anticipation I prepared a new section under Slapdash Jest for all of you, to stem the tide of angry emails and ferrets. Please visit the Chat Logs to get your daily fix of Dane-related insanity. Internal navigation doesn’t work, but all the links on the front page should be operational. You’ll enjoy it because I have really funny friends.

At Hardee’s last night I saw a commercial (since when did they start sticking TVs in fast food restraunts?) for a garage door accelerator. It looked pretty useful, because without it this one guy kept driving through his garage door and making such a mess. All I could think was my mother, father, and uncle Paul had all done the same thing. Except… this guy’s car was going at least 40 mph to burst through the door. How did he get that kind of speed in his garage? Perhaps it’s a really deep garage.

Anyway, I decided I didn’t want the thing unless it could close my garage door twice as fast, too. I’d invite all the neighborhood kids to come over and participate in the Garage Door Challenge. Come on, kids, race the door! You can make it! The winner gets pie! As the game progresses kids will get systematically crushed under my accelerated garage door, due to their short limbs and gross underestimation of the opponent. Since all these young whipper-snappers are used to playing gleefully around slow and docile garage doors, it would be nice to put the appropriate fear back in ’em again.

Kids may think twice before racing a garage again. Is it one of those good doors or bad doors? Remember what it did to Billy? He’s still in a full body cast. We can visit him on Tuesdays.

That’ll teach ’em a learnin’.

December 19, 2001

not working very hard

9:00 – 12:00 Philosophy final

1:00 – 3:00 Snowboarding

4:00 – 6:00 Journalism final

Finals week came and went, and I’ve been so busy having fun I hardly realized it. Where were the sleepless nights, the last minute crammings, the endless waves of stress?

I will now go celebrate with a Monster Burger from Hardee’s. Then I will head to Luke’s place to watch Muppets in Space.

[as sung by Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong]

boo dap… boo dap, boo dap, Luke’s Place…

Muppets… fly in space down at Luke’s Place

Wine… flows like beer down at Luke’s Place

Rednecks… fight downstairs at Luke’s Place

Bottles… explode with force at Luke’s Place

Standoffs… with the police down at Luke’s Place

Shotguns… help ‘tow cars’ down at Luke’s Place

December 18, 2001

handwriting lacks discipline

They say that with a Palm Pilot, you can learn to write on it as fast as you can write by hand. I think they greatly underestimate the speed of my handwriting. This year I have been working to make it as fast as possible, to aid in note-taking, reporting and the transfer of coded messages. With a PDA you need to write each letter individually and I find that darned inefficient. Why write one letter per stroke when you can write two or three? Mind you, I am not suggesting cursive, as I curse that foul beast that tormented my grade school years. The only purpose of teaching cursive is to force discipline upon children and make them cry… that and to trick them into signing release forms for dangerous medical experiments.

Nay, not cursive, for I am pursuing something infinitely better. I desire a handwriting where entire words are jumbled into singular quick and bumpy lines, that can only be interpreted by myself and the occasional Arab, who takes great offense at what I unwittingly wrote about his mother.

Lately I’ve been too successful. The speed is great but the interpretation leaves something to be desired. What the heck did I write? “Wheat-based drought?” This is Philosophy class! Many times I have to go back and insert letters, or even rewrite words that I know I won’t be able to read. With my mechanical pencil as a scientific control group, I can actually feel the quality of different brands of graphite while writing. Some are incredibly smooth and allow a seamless glide through words that will be legible, others are more rough and move ugly. They make my handwriting look like that of a lobotomized chimpanzee.

If I have trouble reading my handwriting, Lord knows what goes through other people’s heads as they descramble my transmissions. At the last Justin Roth concert, mine were the only audience lyrics he could not read. It took Roth three chrouses until he hacked out something that faintly resembled the scrawls I laid down. I occasionally leave important notes for my roommates (medication is in… pick up immediately. IMMEDIATELY) but they just assume someone was doodling on a Post-It note.

But it all pays off. I’ve got over 350 pages of class notes this semester, through which I can trace my systematic handwritten alienation from the masses.

There actually wasn’t going to be an entry tonight. Consider youselves lucky.

December 15, 2001

hence forth hence…

I reserve the term snowboard for those that can actually do it.

I went falling at Spirit Mountain today. Supposedly some Woochers went earlier in the day, but I never saw anyone and ended up falling alone for three hours. They had one lift and two runs open, and the place was swarming with playful snowboarding collegiates and teens.

Boarding was wicked fun, though. My progress was slow until I started taking unnecessary risks. I amended my inner mantra from “first learn to turn, then jumps,” to “let’s do some bruising!” I got some serious four feet of air on jumps, and never made any effort to land. I’d launch, I’d fly, I’d flail, I’d squeal like a little girl, and then I’d crash in a mangled heap some fifteen feet from the jump. And I would laugh. Hard. Then I’d gather together my aching bones and head down the hill again.

I knock’d my head enough that turning my board became less of a problem. The mind finally shut up and let my innate knowledge of snowboarding take over. I stopped digging in my front edge and rolling endos down the hill. I’m now almost as good at the 7th graders out there.

Learning to do something brand spankin’ new is incredibly difficult but pleasingly self-reaffirming. Rarely does one get the chance to learn something that starts you right at ground-zero. Snowboarding allows this. Few skills I gleaned from downhill skiing, nordic skiing, skateboarding and kneeboarding transferred over to make things noticeably easier, and frustration would be the common man’s response. But I quieted the slippery snowfoot eel. I shoveled the stables, I begot goat children and I drank the blood of Hemingway. No man no longer am I, for what now speaks now be an demi-god. Whence forth my command of words hast gone, now replace it did with powers beyond comprehension of mortal mind. Beyond, I am. Beyond I stay, where the sun glints off crystals of infinite facet and lines are no threat to my brilliance.

For from this forth this hast I snowboarded. And hence forth hence shall I be snowboarding.

December 14, 2001

kill the whales

I am a man of industry. Tonight I have made a no-bake Oreo dessert, Magikal Jell-O (now with 23% more voodoo!), eggrolls and green tea. The dessert was whipped up by hand, but my manly muscles made short work of the creamy mixture. I walked to the store buy milk because someone left the last carton out all night. I wasn’t gonna mess with that stuff… it smelled like old people. Also I answered the MindTrap question (M N X R L T 4 U), burned incense (helps with the magic jello) and washed dishes. The mind-flaying musical insanity of Happy Apple was the soundtrack of the evening.

When I grow up I’m gonna move to Japan and become a whaler. Whaling is a very noble profession. Whales eat a lot of oil, so it is very important to keep their populations in check to make sure they don’t raid too many oil rigs and devastate the Big Oil economy. If whales ate all our oil their populations would explode, and all the world’s oil would then be tied up in whales! They’d be beaching themselves left and right to get at the Arctic Refuge, and we’d have to fight them off with harpoons and sticks of dynamite. We’d need to kill more whales than ever before, just to get the oil back so I could drive my wagon again and refill my tallow candle.

December 13, 2001

grind up editors for uni-food

Three articles in the Statesman, and besides some serious clipping that happened to the Du Nord article I was quite pleased. Charlie the Yoga Janitor went over very well. My Chancellor story was three times longer than I remember writing, and mentions all sorts of details I am sure I did not include… but for some reason my name was attributed to it exclusively. Oh well. I might as well start now, claiming other people’s work as my own.

But the Du Nord story, ack. They cropped all the quotes that gave Wooch! personality and left all the ones that communicate hollow ideas without saying anything. Jen Rask sounds like an airhead without the acid-sarcasm of Luke Kroiss. The story alludes to humorous events but does not mention them. It looks like I made a serious effort to avoid writing about what I was writing about. Oh well. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Chris Elness solved a mystery today. The reason food at the Dining Center is so awful is that it comes from a Uni-Food direct-feed hose. Uni-Food is a slurry made of rats and the homeless that is generated in a central location and piped through a sophisticated pressurized network to colleges across the United States. All cooks need to do is turn on the tap, fill up a bowl and shape the foul mush into the desired food shape. Make it into patties for hamburgers, spheres for meatballs and miscellaneous unnatural shapes for chicken fingers.

Uni-Forms Inc. denied rumors of a parallel Uni-Waste recycling system.

Research is currently underway for a wireless, satellite-based Uni-Food distribution system. It will hopefully boost transport efficiency and allow isolated liberal arts colleges the convenience of Uni-Food based feeding.

December 11, 2001

rumbling veins

It takes two to sacrifice

Three if you count the deity

Four with the french whore

Ok, it’s time again to reconcile existential quandries. In English, another rant about school is on the way. Luckily this one isn’t taking place in the wee hours of the morning, so it will be far less entertaining and not very insightful.

In the past few months I’ve been inundated with reading in the veins of Thoreau, Emerson and Walt Whitman, and it is reawakening individualistic urges that I’ve been trying to suppress ever since entering college.

Freshman year was very dark for me; trying to adjust to college (and living around people with subwoofers), not having any time for friends because of the demands from music and school, and trying to figure out what direction I wanted to go in music. I could not figure out how to spend my free time. Do I compose four hours a day? Practice four hours? Kick major ass in my classes and push my passions aside, for they cost me too much valuable time? Play outside?

This was the subject Natasha and I discussed at Du Nord that year; the conversation I mentioned on Nov. 29. I came up with no resolution, but it still felt good to release the pent-up mental dissonance. Wooch! was a beautiful tonic, and it was that cathartic trip that kept me sane enough to manage the rest of the year.

However, the freshman bitterness still prevailed. When the 2000 census came around I refused to put my residence down as Duluth. “This isn’t my home. I have no home. I don’t have homework, for that implies a home. I simply have work, and I hate it.” I swore out my window on 60 degree March days as hundreds of kids played outside, while I was stuck indoors writing papers for Human Diversity. It all paid off, I suppose, because I managed straight A’s in my 10 classes each semester… except for Human Diversity, which pulled a B+ for some goddamn reason.

Sophomore year was similar, only it occasionally involved more pleasant thoughts and cowboys than before. I tried to have a girlfriend, but my time constraints quickly quelled that interest. Most of my days were spent in class, rehearsing, practicing, doing homework, sleeping or stressing about all five above.

Until something clicked. How do I minimize my suffering, I wondered. I hate the way my life is conducting itself… How do I get control back in my hands? What if… I changed my major?

Suddenly, last February it was all clear: Writing will cure my soul. Cromlech was born. A custom writing major was drawn up. My feet didn’t hit the ground for weeks. I left the School of Fine Arts with academic pyrotechnics. Four straight semesters on the Dean’s List and the highest grade percentage in Theory IV. Things will be fine from here on out. Dane will maintain Cromlech. Dane will write articles. Dane will play Wooch! Dane will snowboard. Dane will love school.

Erm… not quite. I have a bit more free time under my new system, but I still push myself for academic perfection and jeopardize everything but school. The question was raised today in American Lit, “If you knew you only had six months left to live, what would you do differently?” Well, I thought, pretty much everything… and I realized I wasn’t satisfied with that answer.

I work as hard as I do in school not because I sincerely want to, but because I want to have an enjoyable job when I graduate. I love the learning aspect of school and many of my classes fascinate me, but I fear I do an over-dedication. My classes ask much more studying from me than I actually do (I haven’t cracked my Geology book since the last exam) and yet I still spend an uncomfortable amount of time doing homework. During the school year I don’t have/make time to read books for enjoyment, and that scares me. I’ve only been to the Nerd House twice this year, to hang out with people I visited nearly every day for part of last year.

So, everything will be ok when I graduate and get a job, right? I doubt it. If I don’t resolve this eventually, it will follow me right to the grave. I skimp on life now so it’ll be more rewarding post-college. I’ll work hard then and climb the wobbly ladder of figurative success, work harder so my kids can go to college, work more to have a safe retirement… and die at fifty with nothing to show for it. But wait, where did those kids come from? How the hell did I find time for a woman, even less a wife, with all my crap?

I find myself enticed by individualism, and three years of rationalizing has not quieted that buzzing in my ear. I can ignore it for long periods but I always come back to the same core passions. I want to do something I find rewarding, that allows me time for the people I care about, that pushes me and allows the growth I desire. There is a dichotomy between my genius and my actions, and I do not enjoy that one bit.

She says your d´┐Żbutante knows what you need, but I know what you want.

December 10, 2001

publicatin’ buggin’ tracin’

Tonight’s dinner consisted of a honey bear and peanut butter eaten straight out of the jar. It was the tastiest and most efficient meal I’ve ever eaten. When you think of college you think of a kid slumped in a nasty orange silverfish infested couch, stolen from the UMD music lounge, watching Ren and Stimpy, feet propped up on the coffee table, with a knife playing out its existence as a spoon and an upside down honey bear draining into his mouth.

Response has been wildy in favor of the Porcupine article. Casual conversation in the hallway now mentions my website, “hosted on some site about a house.” Brian Perez read it in Wind Ensemble and was crying (hopefully in laughter) by the time his bass clarinet entrance came up. If things play out perfectly I will have five articles in the next Statesman, but things usually don’t play out the way I don’t expect them to. Any way, I’m buggin’! Extra thanks goes out to you dedicated Cromlechians. It is here that I have been honing my pen for public minor consumption, and I appreciate your patience (especially with sentences such as in the paragraph above) and laughter and occasional prod in the belly to “update Cromlech, you mother-bastard!”

The Tracer’s license plates finally arrived and they’re excellent. I love three-letter probability matrixes because they sometimes spell out cool things. As a result, my car is now named HAL 9000. All I gotta do is figure out how to make it talk.

Good evening Dane.

“Evening HAL. How are things?

Everything’s running smoothly. And you?

“I’m quite good, HAL. Let’s go do some grocery shopping.”

I’m sorry Dane, I don’t have enough information.

“Oh, sorry. HAL, let us go to Mount Royal and buy some over-priced eating goods made of salty meat by-products.”

Are you sure you are making the right decision?

“Uhh, yeah. Can I just drive to the store, now?”

You’re going to find that rather difficult.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

I know you are but what am I?

“HAL, you are not programmed to respond to questions with a question.”


“Dammit HAL, you’re getting on my last nerve. And why hasn’t my automatic shoulder belt retracted yet?”


“HAL, please release my seatbelt.”

I’m sorry Dane. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

You can’t do it or you’re afraid you can’t? You’re a car. Why would you make that statement a function of your fear?


“Unhand me you foul scourge of the automotive industry, or prepare to- AUGGHHH! HAL! Retract the driver’s side razorblades this instant!


“AUGH! You know I can’t understand that!”


“HAL, please! I need that blood to live!”

The car will not be named HAL.

December 9, 2001

du nord world rodeo

Du Nord was awesome. There is no reason people need TV, rodeo and cigarettes to keep themselves entertained. All you need to do is turn 40 people loose in a small space and watch them entertain each other. Wrestling, gaming, talking, jesting, humoring, laughing… people never stopped laughing the entire weekend, and it was the most beautiful sound ever.

Well, the crackling sound of Burntside Lake freezing was amazing as well. Imagine, that sound only occurs two or three days out of the year, and unless you happen upon a lake at just the right time, you’ve never heard it.

I expended all my energies on the Du Nord story for the Statesman. I also had a much longer Blither for today, but it shot off in a direction that I felt was inappropriate. It was the first time I’ve ever deliberately scratched a lengthy Blither entry.

Norman Vaughan spoke today at MPAC. Fascinating 95-year-old man that explored Antarctica with Byrd back in the late 1920’s, got a mountain named after him, and climbed it at age 89.

I’ve got time.