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Taun

UM World Tour Part Two

The UM Grand Tour (2nd Stop)

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of pure fiction… While I am using actual places, every single thing else is entirely made up and solely a product of my rather strange mind… This is not meant to be a comment (pro or con) on any person, place or thing that I mention or show. It is solely done for (hopefully) humorous effect, and does not reflect the opinions, attitudes or beliefs of any person, organization or group – myself included. It is intended entirely in fun and should any person, organization or group take offense at anything I write, infer or that they believe I infer, I apologize fully and will gladly change, remove or retract the offensive “bits”. All factual information included in the following was gathered from purely public sources and/or my own personal knowledge, based on having actually been there (and so noted at each instance).

UM’s Field Offices in the Pago Pago (American Samoa) area.

When the Lapita people first settled the Samoan island in about 1500 BC (ish) they discovered ruins of many buildings and empty beer cans left behind by the migrating tribe of Neanderthals who had been searching for “Polka Paradise”, giving UM a legal (ish) claim (of sorts) on the Islands… Or so it is claimed by the UM Department of Highly Improbable Archaeology… Rather than contest the issue with the (rather frighteningly strong – and irate looking) Samoans, UM decided in the “spirit of international cooperation” they would forgo their “claim”, settling instead on operating a small – but vital – administrative center on the island of Tutuila, near the current port town of Pago Pago.

 

-          the red circle shows the location of UM’s Administrative Annex on the Island of Tutuila (with apologies to whoever actually lives/works there)

The Admin Annex complex is actually buried deep under the mountain and consists of many miles of narrow twisting corridors, small cramped offices and a surprisingly large open cavern meeting place where many dances, flea markets, public meetings and Polka Parties are held. It also serves as the testing ground for UM’s world famous and much dreaded (by our allies at least) Military Assault Pogo Sticks – which are manufactured at the top secret factory located 10 floors below (don’t worry about the location being included here – no one would ever guess what the top secret password to the huge vault doors hidden behind the large fern plant in the lobby is)

 

As all of you are no doubt aware, this Admin Annex is the Second  (fifth, nineteenth and fifty second) stop on your UM enrollment ordeal process, and it is here that your carefully completed enrollment packet of 1,273 clay tablets are studiously scrutinized for completeness, incoherence, spelling, proper Hittite grammar and proper use of a number two stylus on UM approved surfaces (i.e. mud from the Tigris/Euphrates Rivers)  (this is all subject to the customary bribes to have the scrutinizer “overlook” any irregularities of course).

Pago Pago is also the main call center and delivery point for its world wide network of Pizza parlors. A simple call here from anywhere in the world (on the UM highly secure communications network of tin cans and string) will promptly get your favorite type of pizza baked and then lovingly packed in cases made of reused tuna cans, and dispatched to you on the backs of giant sea turtles (guided by a group of Lemur jockeys imported from our new offices in Madagascar). Delivery in 6 months (ish) or none of your  money back, guaranteed! Just get out that official UM tin can on a string phone and dial 0333-66382-88391-993424547346120473-777322940523321 extension 5 and your fresh (ish) piping hot (maybe once upon a time), delicious (ish) pizza will soon be crawling it’s way to you!

The Admin Annex is the home and workplace of one of UM’s most hated hated least liked beloved employees Myrtle “Do It Over” Dunagin, who as you all know is in charge of checking off this station on your Enrollment Check-List. Myrtle has been lording over working here in the Office of Forms, Regulations, Bureaucracy and Pizza Deliveries for most of her adult life, or at least since 1815 when she showed up at the door and took over was hired… While she is never rarely occasionally sometimes once and a while often always a charming and pleasant person it would probably be best not to mention her hunchback, excessive body hair, peg leg, hook for a hand, halitosis, and that rather remarkable scar that runs across her very large nose and hairy chin(s). Although – if she likes you – she will regale you with countless hours of tales of her exploits as a blood thirsty pirate buccaneer mercenary legally ambiguous adventurer merchant sailor in her youth. And hey fellas! After a long and tumultuous (often violent) affair with UM’s Chief Head Flogger Maximus "Knuckles" Yu-Benswattted, Myrtle is now single! While the cold broken hearted lady politely declines to comment on exactly why UM’s most talked about “couple” is no more, she can often be heard to mutter (in flawless Hittite which she is surprisingly fluent in) over her flagon of grog that “he was just too much of a @%$#&@* softie”… Could you be stupid enough to be “the one”? Just give her a wink the next time you see her and find out!

The Pago Pago Admin Annex offices are always looking for new hires. Among the many benefits to living and working here are a pleasant tropical climate, warm sunny beaches, friendly locals and a laid back relaxed atmosphere (except at work where roving flogger constantly wove up and down the lines of chained office workers “encouraging” them – unless you work for Myrtle in which case it gets really stressful)… The only requirements for being transferred here are that you hate the outdoors, hate the sun, hate the sea, hate the warm sunny beaches and hate being around anyone – including yourself. So if you enjoy being sequestered in a small cramped, moldy, slime encrusted cell only to be let out to an even more cramped, moldy, slime encrusted office cubical, being fed only week old sardines, and never being allowed outside or to see the sun, and earn next to nothing in the process, then this is the place for you!

Next stop on our Tour will be the UM Offices in Ulaan Baator, Mongolia! Stay tuned!

(Second Disclaimer: American Samoa is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve met many Samoans – mostly during my time in the military – and found all of them to be very pleasant, friendly people (though rather frighteningly large and strong) and have the greatest respect for them. This was written in fun with no intent to offend, and it is my sincerest wish that it is received as such.) 

 

 

Taun

UM World Tour

The UM Grand Tour

Main Central Compound

Today we begin our grand tour of UM’s (Unexplained Moosteries) world wide network of facilities, industrial areas, administrative centers, science complexes, polka parlors and taco stands.

Since UM has so many different centers spread out across the world (and even on the moon!) we will break this tour up into several segments.

Today we start the tour right here at the main UM compound.

The main compound – as any school child knows, and according to research by the UM Department of Highly Improbable Archaeology – was first settled in the year 49,347 BC by a wandering band of outcast Neanderthals who were searching for the mythical Land of “Polka Paradise” (revealed to them by a shaman who was hung over really badly)… After many years of travelling in lost and fictitious parts of the world the weary band of questing Neanderthals found a huge, deep crater in a part of the world few people have ever seen – or even thought about. They made their way down the crater’s steep western slope that became known as Nosebleed Ridge, Eastward across the lovely and scenic plains they named the Trackless Plains of Despair, until they arrived at the exact center of the huge crater where they received a sign that told them they had found Polka Paradise. (It was a flashing neon sign actually – no one knows who put it up, how it worked (without electricity) or even why they bothered.

Over the centuries and millennia the crude huts of twigs, untreated skins and empty beer cans grew into a bustling metropolis of many several a couple dozens of near humans… In a rare moment of near rationality one of the (many) self-appointed chiefs stopped scratching at his fleas long enough to decide that the group must “get Organized” (just as soon as they could figure out what the word “organized” meant)… The first election was held and after all the votes (and bribes) were counted the title of MODS (from Might Oughta Do Something) was created. Thus, in the year 11,945 BC the first MODS proclaimed that UM was officially founded…

The Main Compound (as it is known to all many some a few a couple) is the center, hub and heart of the UM “Empire”. Constructed entirely in a circular pattern (except where it’s not) four main thoroughfares radiate outwards from the Great Central Keep and it’s surrounding Grand Plaza… The Grand Processional Way runs North and South and divides the compound East and West (though it changes its name to The Great Southern Freeway once it goes through the Great Southern Wall – which is the southernmost limit of the Compounds Urbanized area. The main compound is further divided North and South by the aptly named Great Pitted Parkway…. Many lesser streets, avenues, alleys and cul-de-sacs wind their way through the densely packed urban area and help facilitate the heavy traffic that habitually clogs the Central Complex.

A few of the many world famous buildings – all done in UM’s unique architectural style of “Pre-Modernist Hap-hazardousness” are:

The Majestic Phlegm Building – a Ninety-Three and a half story building (eight of which are above ground) which houses the UM Ways-To-Be-Mean Committee and Taco Stand Licensing Bureau…

The Famous Grand Inquisitors Tower – known worldwide as the “Colossal Pile of Rubble” – which looms (and leans) 105 stories over the Grand Central Plaza… It is here that all Inquisitors are trained, equipped, and dispatched from… The Inquisitors College is world famous and used by many dictatorships, “banana republics” and Despotic Regimes as the official training site of their various enforcers, snitches and busy-bodies…

Nearby is the massive Chiliagon shaped (1,000 sided polygon) Dome of The UM Department of Simplification, Self-Effacing Modesty and Austerity… (currently unoccupied)

Near the center of the Western leg of the Great Pitted Parkway, lies the Impressive Rotating Tower of the UM Office of Tourism, Recreation and Sanitation… What is most impressive about this 30 story eight-sided tower of glass and aluminum foil, is that it rotates – not along its “Y” axis (i.e. turning like a merry-go-round) but that it rotates along it’s “X” axis (i.e. sideways, like a fan does)… Clever design features (and bungie cords) hold (almost) everything (more-or-less) in place inside the heavily occupied building, allowing the many (very dizzy) employees to maintain their hectic work schedule…

As was described in an earlier report (the Annual Tennis-Shoe and Tuxedo Wear-It-Backwards Ball) the magnificent UM Grand Ballroom (now) is located at the extreme southern tip of the Urbanized area – right up against the massive Great Southern Wall and Main Bastion. This cylindrical building is the site of most of UM’s fancy balls, cotillions and hootenannies – or was up until it broke free and rolled down the Grand Processional Way after the fire and explosions… The crater vacant lot where it had been (just off the Central Grand Plaza) is now planned to be the site of a brand new racing tricycle factory (“Mike’s Yikes Trikes”)… This large industrial concern will bring many new jobs to the Complex and provide nearly $15 annually to the Tax coffers!

Scattered about the complex are many hundreds of small 5 story blockhouses buildings which serve as the entrance to the complexes massive underground web of interconnected dungeons, oubliettes and cellblocks quaint, comfortable apartments for the many Lurkers, Newbs and Members of the UM Community… Interspersed with them are numerous torture chambers recreational centers where our large staff of grim floggers, torturers and Inquisitors cheerful Recreational Specialists keep the Lurkers and members in line help maintain UM’s traditionally high morale and happiness..   

One other site bears mentioning… Recently the UM staff dedicated a massive 300 foot (91 meter) tall statue of Francis Fudge… UM’s pre-eminent mathematician who single handedly caused the almost instant improvement of the Mathematics scores of UM’s school children, and who’s formulae allowed UM’s engineers and scientists to jump to the forefront of the worlds leading designers, builders, theorists and inventors!

Prior to Professor Fudge’s formulae, UM’s students scored dead last among the world’s school children in mathematics (even behind those areas where they had no schools!)… UM scientists, mathematicians and Engineers were the laughing stock of the civilized world and struggled to design even simple structures…

His world famous “Fudge’s variable” (also known as “The Fudge Factor”) stated simply that it was “the value that you add, subtract, multiply, divide or otherwise factor into the answer you got – to get the answer you should have gotten”… It was immediately embraced by the students, engineers and scientists and virtually overnight UM’s school children went from an average mathematics score of -75 to a universal 100… Suddenly UM Engineers and architects were able to design the massive, impressive buildings you see around us today and UM scientists are almost hourly creating and discovering new theories, inventions and processes that the rest of the world can only shake their heads over (obviously in jealousy) … There is talk among the Grand Inquisitors, to nominate Professor Fudge for the status of “Legendary One” – unfortunately, according to UM law and custom, a person must be deceased in order to be made a “legendary One” and Professor Fudge is apparently unwilling to fulfill this last requirement…

The complex is also the site of many parks, plazas, marketplaces, fast food stands and city dumps playgrounds, all of which make the Great UM Central Complex the shining jewel of the UM “empire” and a great place to live!

Prior to the release of this report, it was hoped that an illustrated “coffee table” book of photos of the Central Complex would be available for purchase… Unfortunately the books printers thought the photos we submitted for publication were “horribly out of focus, and or very poorly done digital drawings, and threw them out… However the 350 page volume of high gloss blank pages is available for purchase from your local Flogger or Inquisitor…

The next stop on our tour will be the Pacific Region around our Pago-Pago offices!

Taun

The First Annual UM Nothing In Particular Festival

On August 19th UM hosted its first Annual Nothing In Particular Festival. To help celebrate the glorious day, schools were let out (or would have been if they had been in session), government offices were closed (to great cheering and happiness by the people), popsicle trucks were cleaned, polished and out in force and the Head Inquisitor issued a blanket pardon for all Lurkers who dwell and toil down in the very lowest levels of the vast Lurkers dungeons (of course 5 minutes later the High Inquisitor rescinded the pardons when the ungrateful freed lurkers failed to leave the dungeons in a timely and expeditious manner).

The festivities were well covered by the international press, and great amusement was had by all the staff as they watched the befuddled foreigners try to figure out just what was happening – and most importantly – why.

The days events were kicked off by the first annual “Its About Nothing Parade”… The fifteen mile long parade was made up of over three thousand floats, marching bands, escaped criminals, civic organizations, social clubs, night clubs and billy clubs…

The first group to set off and have the honor of leading the parade was the Local Chapter of the International “Who Really Gives A Darn?” club… Over one hundred members proudly marched along – more or less in step – holding brightly colored banners proclaiming their clubs famous mottos, such as: “Who Me?”, “Who Cares” and of course the world famous  “Yeah, Whatever”... The members quickly became a crowd favorite as they showed a high level of seasonal disdain for the thousands of parade watchers that lined the Great Eastern Promenade. Their signature “rude hand gesture number three” was instantly taken up by the spectators and used cheerfully throughout the rest of the day.

Next up were three floats in rapid succession that set the tone for the type of floats to be seen today. Each of the floats were the product of one or more of UM’s many social clubs, or commercial enterprises, and clearly each one took at least several minutes of work to build. In keeping with the theme of the parade, each float was about nothing in particular; The first float was a well thought out representation of “When Cheese Goes Bad”, presented by the lovely ladies of the UM Silly Hat Croquet Club, followed up with a float that reminds us all to “Trim Those Toenails!” which was presented by the Atomic Weed Whacker Corporation. The last float of the first set was apparently something to do with paper cuts, potatoes and what looked like a giant sponge.. What it stood for, no one knows, as the group that built the float was nowhere to be found…  

For three hours the parade wound its way down the Great Eastern Promenade, delighting the crowd with bright lights, shiny objects and loud off-key brass bands… Several crowd favorites worth mentioning were: The Squiggle Wranglers – leading an assortment of their Show Squiggles on (steel) leashes; The Singing Mimes of Cell Block 19 – doing their rendition of “The Sounds Of Silence”; Four Fingered Frank, the Chainsaw Juggler and his dog Lucky; And The Combined Bong Drum, Castanet and “Mouth-harp” marching bands (see note 1)…  

Even the Renegade Beer Balloon Fleet made a guest appearance. Roughly midway through the parade, the 45 brightly painted WWI Surplus Zeppelins wafted along the parade route at an average altitude of 500 Graast (see note 2) showering the spectators with empty beer bottles and pork rind bags, while the captive Polka bands played the Fleets theme song of “Louie Louie”… There was one major mishap with the Renegade Beer Balloon Fleet however… One zeppelin, Number 17 – old Gallopin’ Gertie – strayed a bit too close to the Grand Outer Moat and the incessant drone of the engines coupled with the barrage of beer bottles really annoyed Pookie The Moat Monster and, rearing up to his(?) full height (we think it’s his(?) full height anyway – no one is really sure) Pookie gobbled up the unlucky zeppelin like it was a giant Twinkie… The crew and captive polka band managed to parachute to the relative safety of the ground where they were rounded up by security forces and are now awaiting trial for their various crimes, misdemeanors and annoyances caused…

As the last float passed each section of the crowds watching, the spectators flooded out into the street forming a last massive band.. And playing their complimentary “Nothing Day” Kazoos, they blasted out (kazed out?) a three hour long rendition of “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida” as they marched, lurched, staggered and ambled along the parade route…

But the Parade wasn’t the only event of the day!

Many of UM’s most popular (i.e. least unpopular) politicians and mass media personalities gave many rousing speeches and the hundreds of hastily set up “speech gazebos” sites throughout UM’s vast sprawling complex… For hours these tireless public servants droned on tirelessly – and aimlessly – about “Nothing In Particular”, about how “Nothing is Important” and “Nothing Matters”… Teeming crowds of dozens of listeners surround each speaker and dutifully greeted each fiery turn of phrase with cheers, applause and no few Bronx Cheers…

Uncountable numbers of merchants set up booths and sold Nothing to the crowds of festival attendees who – always looking for a bargain – happily paid for their “Nothings” with nothing… Of course taxes were paid on all the many purchases, and many UM citizens learned that back when the Mayor ran on a platform of “Nothing will be heavily taxed”.. She actually meant it!

As the days festivities wound to a gradual stop, the many citizens who found themselves newly indentured due to the heavy taxes on their purchases of Nothing, also found themselves impressed as street sweepers and billboard washers as they attempted to work off their tax debt… But no one really minded, since the filthy streets are actually much cleaner than the cells and oubliettes the citizens actually live in…

All-in-all it was a respectable first outing for one of this type – few cultures could have successfully pulled off a celebration of Nothing In Particular quite as well as UM!

Note 1 - For those that don't know - this is a "Mouth harp"

Spoiler

 

Note 2 - The Imperial Graast is a precision unit of measure used at UM and is equal to the (more or less) linear distance that a heavily inebriated person can stagger in 15 minutes.

Taun

"A report on the Moon Dance and Masquerade Party"

I finally made it back to the UM compound after attending the inaugural Moon Dance and Masquerade Party”… I am happy to say that the event went rather well for something of its kind... Aside from a few miscalculations, accidents, and sundry mishaps their was a “slight” temporal mishap that took a few days to sort out…

The pre-event was nearly as eventful as the actual event to the people that showed up to the pre-event in the eventuality that the event would eventually happen… Party goers assembled at the world renown UM’s Airship Aerodrome located deep in the Southwestern Jungles, most arrived by utilizing one of UM’s many excellent systems of public transportation, such as the buses, trains, covered wagons, high speed zip-lines, taxis and the ever popular Galapagos Tortoise shuttle system… Some even walked (it being considered the safer – and often quicker- method)… The vast majority of the party goers stood about – resplendent in their masquerade costumes, as they partook of the many snacks and beverages prepared by the Southwestern UM Chapter of the Grumpy Old Coot and Cootess League, as well as by the Toddlers Junta (an organization comprised of UM members under the age of 30)… Since most of the Coots and Cootesses have the best cooking and baking skills – but tend to forget details – and since the Toddlers tend to lack the skills and attention span – the snacks were rather…. um… memorable..

 

Travel from the Airship Aerodrome to the newly constructed Lunar Lounge and Dance Hall had been setup by the tireless efforts of the UM Bored of Tourism, Cultural Appropriation and Meat Packing, and (very nearly) right on time (ish) a fleet of Alien Space Saucers arrived to whisk the party goers away to the UM Lunar Lounge and Dance Hall – that had recently been constructed in Tycho Crater on the surface of the moon… The alien’s were happy to get the business as they have not had much to do since they were marooned here back in 1534 BC after helping the Egyptians build the first pyramids… (They lost that contract – and their funding for the trip home – when the Pharaoh learned that they had travelled thousands of light years with super advanced technology, just to teach his people how to stack rocks)… The Alien Fleet Commander Preet*Hwauk Buurrskftel (Jr.) was so overjoyed at the prospect of earning enough money to furnish his ships with fuzzy dice for the rear view mirrors that he lifted his long time ban on allowing his crews to intermingle with their human experimental subjects friends…

The Space Saucers made the journey to Tycho Crater in near record time of -6 hours, which allowed the party goers to attend the party, have a good time and get back home before they left which is a major time savings that the UM Council of Mods is investigating as a means of increasing worker productivity in the Data Mines…

After arriving at the Lunar Lounge and Dance Hall, Supreme Commander Preet*Hwauk Burrskftel (Jr.) released his mixed crew of Grey Aliens and BEMS (Bug Eyed Monsters) to attended the party as well as allowing his Fleets Marching Band to perform at the dance… The Band (known locally as the Toxic Troubadours) were something of a novelty to the UMers who attended as they tended to actually play the same piece of music together (at the same time) and were more or less in key and time – though the music was described as “Gravel sliding down a corrugated tin roof in a hail storm” it was largely considered as an improvement over the quality of music normally booked for these events…

Much fun was had by all – thanks in large part to the decreased gravity field everyone was dancing in – and in no small part by the mass quantities of alcoholic beverages served to the Aliens… (to be fair, no one knew that plain old tap water was an intoxicant to them – a large reason why they never quite managed to make their way back to their home world all those years ago)… While the UMers taught the Aliens how to Polka and Waltz, the aliens taught us how to do the “Aldebaran Five and a half Step”, the “Sagittarian Slime Crawl”, the “BEM Bugout” and the “Fulaxorian Frenzy”…

While the Masquerade part of the Dance was not a competition, everyone generally agreed that the best costumes worn were the “Giant Space Amoeba” worn by an Alien Crewmember (with an unpronounceable and unspellable name – called “Fred”) and the “Ancient Mummy Astronaut” worn by kmt_sesh… Later it was discovered that “Fred” actually was not in costume – and really looked that way – but no one seemed to mind – he looked awesome anyway, and kmt_sesh was actually just wearing his normal work clothes…

Eventually – as all things must (for some reason) – the Moon Dance and Masquerade Party wound down to its conclusion –about an hour prior to its start time… The many guests boarded the Space Saucers for the trip back home and in far less time than it took – they were back at the Airship Aerodrome, bidding a fond farewell to their new found alien friends… I’m not saying some romances were started, but names, addresses, phone numbers and DNA scans were exchanged by a few members…

The partiers were fortunate enough that their return was in time to greet their own arrival, and actually able to ask the very confused drivers to return them back to the Central Compound – while their earlier selves chatted with them for a short while and boarded the Earlier versions of the Alien Space Saucers to take the trip to the Moon…. Realizing that he now had doubled the size of his fleet of Saucers, the Alien Commander (and those partiers who wanted to return to the party that was about to begin six hours earlier) joined the earlier version of his fleet and he and his earlier self (reportedly) “Partied hearty” with a duplicate pair of female(ish) grey alien crewmembers… More than a few party goers actually got back on board the Space Saucers after being taken back home and re-attended the party – dancing, drinking and dining with themselves until the wee hours of the lunar night…

The second return home – which was made in the same negative time as the previous trip – created yet a third fleet (four times the size of the original fleet) – at which time the Mods stepped in and forbade them from returning to the party for a third time… While the largely partied out members (the original time line members – not their doubles and quadruples) returned to their various cells and oubliettes, the doubles, triples and quadruples were loaded up on a nearby fleet of cargo container ships and sent off to the UM research and labor division in Ulaan Bator, Mongolia… For temporal research, but mostly just to avoid the confusion of having four copies of every member running around – one version of most of us is quite enough!

A few duplicates did manage to avoid being shipped to Mongolia, and most made their way to the Old Creepy Forest and joined up with the Renegade Beer Balloon Fleet… More on this later I am sure!

So if you find a copy of yourself – or suspect that someone you are talking to is a copy of some else, please report it immediately to the newly formed UM Department of Consolidation, Confinement, Corrections and Confetti… Please ensure that you use the proper form (UM Form 657-334.716 – and make certain that you use a properly sharpened number two marking stylus on the clay tablet. All reports are confidential – unless someone asks us nicely of course…

Taun

This coming weekend - July 8th - marks the inaugural Whack A Bedazzled Zombie With A Whiffle Bat Triathlon and Taffy Pull...

Firstly, the committee would like to thank the many volunteers who gave up their free time to leave their dungeon cells and bedazzle the many zombies that had "volunteered" to participate – the results were even more spectacular than we had thought and has opened up a new line of employment for our hordes of Zombie minions – they can now be rented out as Ambulatory Disco-Balls! (See your local Head Inquisitor or Chief flogger for details and pricing)

Also, the efforts of the volunteer crews to outfit the bedazzled zombies with roller skates has been completed successfully (Checkout the on line videos of the hilarious results of the bedazzled zombies trying to learn how to shamble on roller skates – only available on UM’s highly secret – and impossible to access – video website “DungeonTube”)…  So thanks to all you volunteers!

The course for the Triathlon has been set, and crews are out setting up traps, snares, pitfalls, snack stands and porta-potties along the way. Here are the course details:

-First Stage

The start line is at the southern entrance to the World Famous UM Opera House Roller Rink. All 11,328 (and a half) zombies are already lined up and in their starting cages… At the start signal the cages will be opened and a giant jello mold in the shape of a large brain will start moving out along the roller rinks tracks on a disguised golf cart – the zombies will naturally follow… The brain cart will make one lap around the three mile long roller rink track, and then exit out the southern loading dock doors – which will be propped open… As soon as the last zombie roller-shambles out of the Opera House Roller Rink, the contestants will be released to chase after them… The contestants must complete three laps of the Roller Rink track – during which time they will be allowed to “whack” each other with their whiffle bats – before they can exit out onto the Grand Processional Way after the roller-shambling zombies…

The brain-cart will lead the zombies straight down the newly widened Grand Processional Way (widen by virtue of the recent accident with the Grand Ballroom rolling down the street – flattening many small buildings and obstructions – see my report on the First Annual UM Tennis Shoe and Tuxedo – Wear It Backwards Ball and Melted Crayon Art Show)… Once the brain cart reaches the Great Southern Wall and Bastion (the new site of the Grand Ballroom), it will exit the central compound and at that point the first stage is complete…

-Second Stage

Immediately after exiting the Central Compound, the roller skates will be removed from the zombies, by UM citizens who are currently “residing” in the Community Jail (mostly for heinous crimes such as not eating all of their vegetables, failing to respectfully doff their Lurkers Beanie caps to passing mods, being wrong on the internet, etc.)... During this time the contestants chasing the Zombies with their plastic whiffle bats, will be stopped at the Great Southern Wall Main Bastion, until such time as the zombies are all de-roller skated and equipped with their own UM racing tricycle (left over from this Springs Tricycle Race Demolition Derby and Chili Cook-off)…

Once all the zombies are on their trikes, the brain-cart will again start moving – straight down the Great Southern Freeway and across the Southern Artillery Impact Zones located in the scenic Burbling Lava Fields… From there – at about the midpoint – the course takes a sharp right turn and eventually enters the Mysterious Mangrove Swamps of Misery… This ends the second stage…

-Third Stage

At the check point in the Mysterious Mangrove Swamps of Misery, the zombies will be taken off of their tricycles (most will have been tied on) and allowed to run (well… shamble semi-aimlessly) to the finish line… Once they are all ready, the brain-cart will again resume the course and lead the zombies straight across the Mysterious Mangrove Swamp of Misery, through the Burning Desert of Itchy Sand, along the Insanely Twisting Highway of Ridiculous Danger, and back to the finish line at the South Western Gatehouse and Brewery…

Contestants will be allowed to run freely for the first two stages, but at the third stage must be mounted on a UM approved Assault Pogo Stick (no jet assist allowed)…

Zombies may only be whacked with the approved (and provided) UM Plastic Whiffle Bat – and nothing can be added to the bat (i.e. no nails, explosives, glue or any other substance or object)… 1 Point is awarded to each contestant for each bedazzle jewel that they can whack free from a zombie – however some jewels have a special marking on them that will cause the contestant who collects it to gain 50 points for each special jewel… And as all bedazzle jewels were individually numbered (by writing very very very very small) at the conclusion several numbers will be drawn lotto-style for special awards and prizes…

There will be absolutely no bribery allowed during this event (unless of course you bribe an official to allow further bribery) – so it is entirely up to you the contestant to “Whack that zombie”!...

Following the return of the zombies to their holding cells, the contestants are invited to a massive taffy pull party and dance…

The triathlon begins sharply at 8 AM (ish) and concludes when the last zombie is whacked back into their holding cells…

So come on out and bring the kiddies!

 

Taun

Just 8 more days until  the first Annual "Tennis Shoe and Tuxedo - Wear it Backwards Ball and Melted Crayon Art Show" ... It will be held at the "Grand Ball Room" high atop the historic Grand Central Dungeon Tower (provided we can install the braces and supports in time)...

Here is a listing of approved attire...

Tuxedos (any color or style), - the “louder” the better.

Formal Ball gowns (with neon colored t-shirts or scuba wet suits under them for those who are "a bit shy"...

Attire made solely of melted crayons (must be “worn” over an approved body suit – mainly because the melted crayons are rather warm to the touch at first!

Formal Uniforms (military, band, Service industry, etc) are also acceptable of course – the UM Zeppelin Service Uniforms are actually quite stunning when worn backwards (as we did in the Great War – in an effort to confuse the enemy as to whether we were “coming or going” – it actually only served to confuse us, but “Oh well”)

Cultural dress must be approved by the UM Bored of Inquisitors... Such as the “cultural dress” seen on many Beauty pageants – the gaudier, the better…

Shoes must be inappropriate for whatever is worn and may be worn correctly if your feet won't turn backwards...

As an example, I have decided to wear my formal uniform as Emperor of Mooselandia (it actually fits better backwards anyway) – with all my many ribbons and medals (all awarded to me by a grateful…. Me)… Upon my hooves…er… feet I will be wearing my “Bullwinkles” (provided they get out of the cleaners in time – else I will be wearing neon-pink scuba flippers)…

I had planned on wearing a nice evening gown made of melted crayons (which seems to be a popular choice this year), but the only crayons I could get away from my grand-nieces and nephews were white… I didn’t want to look like a giant lump of ice cream, so….

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing “formal attire” of another gender (or even species in some cases), in fact a man has a bit of an advantage in this as a full length beard can do wonders in covering up a “backless gown”…

Dancing is to be done “front-to-front” from the perspective of the clothing, so you will be facing away from your partners… The clever partier will therefore NOT dance with their date but with a stranger and position themselves so that they will be able to actually see and converse with their date, as they dance with someone else…

Entertainment is scheduled to be provided by UM’s most popular band “The Noggin’ Knockers” (provided they get time off for “good behavior” following their performance at the UM "BlackLight Costume Contest Valentine's Day Dance and Rummage Sale")… Should the “Noggin’ Knockers” not be available the High Inquisitors office will simply snatch up five or six random dungeon denizens from the Lower Oubliettes and force them entice them into forming a band on the spot (they might even sound better than the “Noggin’ Knockers”)…

As always Zombie dates will be available for those who either fail to acquire a date on their own, or just like dancing back-to-back with zombies… Volunteers are being sought to assist in dressing the zombies appropriately – in ball gowns and tiaras… Volunteers may get time removed from their stay in the Lower oubliettes…

A banquet will be served “cafeteria style” while the Melted Crayon art show is being viewed and judged –midway through the ball. So bring your best art work (that must be made of melted wax-crayons of any brand name, and be executed on either butcher paper, brown paper bags or the writing paper they give to kids when they learn to write… Any substitute paper or “paint” medium must be pre-approved by the UM Office of The Fine Arts and Sewage Control (UM Form x-3221.775 May 325 BC)...

Taun

The Cthulhu Days Festival, Mardi Gras and Tango Contest was held on the 22nd of April… For those wondering why it took me so long to post this Incident Report After Action Review article, the sheriff only just let me out following the events with the Balloon Beer Fleet…

As always the Festival began precisely at midnight(ish) the morning of the Festival, when the masses of fun loving festival fans, creepy cultists, moonstruck minions, zestful zealots and curious onlookers gathered deep in the heart of the Old Creepy Forest, at the ancient shrine to the Great Old Ones (not to be confused with the more recent clearing dedicated to the Grumpy Old Ones used for the Old Coots and Cootessess gatherings)… As the multitude of bonfires were lit, and the great Bronze Gongs were rung by festively painted and attired gangs of zombies, the Council of Mods representatives gathered on the platform high above the Great Central Pit (not to be confused with the many lesser pits, sinkholes and pot holes that abound in the forest), the combined choirs of Floggers, Henchmen (and women) and dungeon tour guides began the ancient chants some have described as “Gregorian Chants done by Rap Bands”.

As the gathered masses enjoyed (or else) the chanting, merchants weaved their way through the crowd selling various beverages, various treats such as “cephalopod on a stick” and the ever popular kids treat “Chocolate Cthulhu Bunnies”…

At a signal from the combined Gongs, the chanting stopped (more or less in unison) and the Chief Mods began the arcane rituals needed to summon the Great Old Ones… They began by chanting the Forum Rules, then Switching to the Great Book Of Outer Mongolian Traffic Laws, finishing up with Performing UM’s Unofficial National Anthem “I’m A Little Tea Pot”… A hush fell over the crowd as they waited with festive joy - and at the same time dread, for the appearance of the Great Old Ones… Slowly a vast cloud of indescribable color (and odor) rose out of the pit. The crowd edged closer in anticipation. Suddenly the cloud coalesced into the form of Shirley, Cthulhu’s personal Office assistant. Her voice rumbled out: “I’m sorry. The number you have summoned is either no longer in service or busy. Please disconnect and re-summon. This is a recording.” And the cloud vanished.

Muttering a few phrases and words that violated at least three of the Forum Rules (and laws of physics), the Mods gave a few pithy commands and all the performers returned to their start positions and the ceremony began again…

Five tries later, Great Cthulhu and his entourage finally appeared and assumed their position as Grand Marshals of the Parade. The festival goers were overjoyed to see that with Cthulhu were his former wife Idh-yaa and their four kids Gthanothoa, Ythogtha, Zoth-ommog and the crowd favorite: little Cthylla… This was the first time in eons (literally) that Cthulhu and his once mate were seen together in public and many people began speculating about a reconciliation between them, particularly when he wrapped a few of his tentacles around the parts of her that they could reach and seemed to hold her affectionately as they waved to the adoring crowds.. As you may recall (from mandatory UM History classes you were supposed to take) the pair had an acrimonious split back a few tens of thousands of years ago… She got the Palaces in R’lyeh, the planet Vhrool in the 23rd nebula and the green binary star system of Xoth – plus an undisclosed cash settlement. While he got to keep the trademark on his name, and the slime encrusted bungalow in Muncie, Indiana that he shares with his unemployed kids Nctosa and Nocathulu (by another mating).

As the Grand Marshals seated themselves upon their massive floats, the festival goers rushed in to take up the ropes and soon the hordes of straining fans were pulling the carts through the Old Creepy Forest along the Ancient Dirt Trail toward the Main UM Complex, to the accompaniment of the massed banjo bands of the Western Oubliettes …

There was one minor problem with the parade. When the parade began emerging from the Old Creepy Forest, the Balloon Beer Fleet from the Old Coot and Cootess Ball, Limbo Contest and Flea Market, made an unscheduled appearance overhead… They had been avoiding the elements of the UM Air Force that were sent out to “round the hooligans up”, and – being on a week long beer binge – began pelting the parade with empty beer bottle and cans – before a strong gust of wind (an F3 tornado summoned up by the annoyed mods) blew them out over the Great Dismal Swamp – where they were last seen attempting to land to “gather up some more munchies and beer”…

The parade crossed the Great Outer Moat and as Cthulhu’s float reached the center of the bridge, they paused to let Cthulhu greet his former pet Pookie the Moat Monster… Pookie was (as always) overjoyed to see his(?) former owner and possible creator and it was quite a while before Pookie calmed down enough to stop the earth tremors.. Finally with an affectionate tugging of some of Pookies Spinal Tendrils, the parade proceeded into the Main Complex.

Many more fans and spectators lined the Grand Processional Way to witness the parade, and the fans were not disappointed. Leading off was the South Eastern Society of Raptor Wranglers, leading and riding their award winning Velociraptors, and tossing candy to the crowds… Behind them came the Massed graduating class of the UM Tuba Tuning School, performing “The Flight of The Bumblebees” on their tubas. Following the Tuba Band came the ever popular Precision Drill team of Marching Zombie Nixons and Churchills, led by their director (the zombiefied) Charles DE Gaulle… A series of floats followed representing the various guilds, unions, associations and therapy groups from here at UM, then the Grand Marshalls floats passed by followed immediately by the combined UM mental health workers to ease the disturbed and battalions of Lawyers handing out disclaimers, statements absolving UM and its staff from any liability (real, imagined or arcane)… At last came the float honoring the winners of this years Tricycle Race, Demolition Derby and Chili Cook-off..  Team Puce rode proudly on their float which was a representation of their winning strategy – a massive, record setting bribe after the fact… As always the fans love to both cheer and boo the persons honored on this float..  Bringing up the rear was the world renown UM Kazoo and Snare Drum Marching Band, playing their signature song of “Louie Louie”

Following the final floats and marching bands, came the hordes of zombie street sweepers, trash picker-uppers and pothole replacers – which as always received the biggest cheers of the festival.

Due to last minute schedule changes, some freakish bad weather, the delay in starting the parade and an outbreak of various severe – and embarrassing - diseases, the Tango Contest was postponed to later this summer, to be featured as its own event….

 

Next month is a quiet month here at UM with no major festivals or events scheduled. It is a time of maintenance of the Oubliettes, dungeons, torture chambers and Public Library… Those interested in assisting (and not already ordered to do so anyway) are encouraged to speak to their buildings Chief Flogger – or an available Inquisitor. We can always use an extra set of hands to help spread the slime, muck, mold and mildew in our sleeping areas… Remember, participation in this event is seen favorably by most parole officers! See you there!

Taun

Last nights UM Old Coot and Cootess Ball, Limbo Dance Contest and Flea Market was a howling success – once again… We had record numbers of attendees as well as a record number of arrests, and attendees ending up in traction… So – well done everyone!

The event kicked off precisely at 7 AM (ish) (Pago Pago Central Daylight Savings Times – plus 13 mins) when the UM Chapter of The Fireworks Meisters, Artillery Wranglers, Big Boom Makers and Child Day Care Workers Union (local 315) fired off the Complexes Main Battery of Old Bombards to signal the launching of the Balloon Beer Flotilla (since the United Nations won’t let us have a our beer tent again)…

At that signal, the vast cheering crowds of almost three old coots and cootessess, watched as the vast fleet of Hot Air Balloons, Dirigibles and festively painted WWI surplus Zeppelins were launched (more or less at the same time, certainly within the same hour – or two) from UM’s historic AirShip Aerodrome located deep in the Southwestern Jungles… This aerodrome is of course the one that was the base from which UM’s mighty air fleets set sail to aide our allies (back when we had them) during the Great War… (It’s not certain who’s side we were actually on – but at least we were there!... Or would have been if we had bothered to show up)…

As the majestic beer fleet lifted into the sky frantic ground crews could be seen scrambling to actually load some beer into the balloons…

Eventually, the bulk of the old Coots and Cootessess finally managed to get up and about, dressed, eat breakfast, take their meds, redress to get their undies on the inside this time, pack their kit bags full of the days medications, go out to the local bus stop, wait for the busses – finally realize they are actually at a trash-truck stop – toddle over to the bus stop, wait again. Get on the bus, fumble with their change purse, yell at the driver, find a seat, yell at the various young urchins (those under the age of 50), ride the bus to the festival site, get up from their seats, toddle down the aisle, realize the left something on their seat, toddle back, yell at the urchins again, pick up all their items, count the pennies in their change purses, toddle back down the aisle, yell at the driver, slowly depart the bus, stand there for a while blinking in the dim light of the forest, meet up with their volunteer zombie guides, yell at the zombies to “pull up your pants, you young hoodlum!” and toddle down the forest trail until they finally arrive at the festival grounds, deep in the heart of the Old Creepy Forest. As throngs of cheering fans welcomed the traditional arrival of the Old Coots and Cootessess, Geritol and Pitted Prune vendors worked their way through the crowd hawking their wares…

After the signing in and the ceremonial affixing of the traditional “Hi! I’m a Grumpy Old Coot (or Cootess)! My name is_______, now leave me alone you young whippersnapper!” tags, the Oldsters were herded over to the first event of the festival…

The first event was new for this year, the Old Coots and Cootessess (separated into two lines by gender - for those that can remember theirs) got to stand (more or less) in lines as all the young Urchins amble down the line between them, while the Oldsters got to whack them with their canes and throw empty pill bottles at them..

Following this event, the Balloon Beer fleet actually managed to make a fly over, dropping beer bottles down to the crowds – some of which did not strike anyone… It should be mentioned that by this time the balloonists had been sampling the beer for some hours, so hilarity ensued…

After the wounded were removed to awaiting ambulances and first aid tents (or last aid in some cases), it was time to begin with the judging of the ever popular “Porch Sitting” contest… In this event – as many of you may remember – the Old Coots (or Cootessess) take turns sitting on some rather hastily constructed “Front Porches” as young Urchins attempt to cross the “Yard”… Coots (or Cootessess) are judged on the volume of their yells, the number of unique threats and insults in each tirade and how many times the contestant was able to shake their fist or cane at the Urchin… As always, points were deducted for each curse word, actually striking the urchin with anything, or getting off of the porch itself… This event is always a crowd pleaser and this year’s winners were Don “Phlegm Boy” Petraccelli, in the Old Coots Category and Gertrude “Aunt Gertie” Ishikawa in the Old Cootess category… The lucky winners will receive free antacid pills, and oxygen for the next year, so Well done Gertie and Don!

After this event there was dancing – but not by any of the Old Coots and Cootessess… Remember these are GRUMPY old Coots and Cootessess!

About this time the Beer Balloon fleet was finally driven off by angry rock throwers – though the five that crash landed were pretty quickly swarmed under by the many urchins present, and the unbroken beer bottles handed out all around…

All this time the Flea Market was going full steam, and many Oldsters showcased their crafting skills with wood carvings, quilted and knitted goods, baked goods and a whole host of antiques… Sales were brisk and the proceeds went directly to the “Get Rid of Baggy Pants Youth” fund… Almost $3 were raised – so good work!

The highlight of the afternoon was of course the Limbo Contest… All the Oldsters were lined up (participation was mandatory) and as the live band (“Larry Livingston and his Limbo Lizards”) played authentic (ish) limbo music the limbo stick was set to its starting height of seven feet… Nearly everyone made it through this height and soon it was lowered in accordance with rules set down by the International Limbo Committee… As the bar lowered ever more the contestants were quickly disqualified until at last after five minutes, it was down to three contestants… At the 5 foot mark Hortense Higglemeyer claimed this years trophy! Good work Hortense and we hope you enjoy your free chiropractic treatments!   F. Lex Boadi, the visiting official from the International Limbo Committee was quoted as saying that he was “Highly impressed with the festival but that Old Coots and Cootessess don’t really bend backwards very well”…

After a brief visit to their doctors and chiropractic specialists, the surviving Oldsters were taken to the Ball and Banquet where they whiled away the evening hours in mirth, merriment and a lot of grousing… The Noggin’ Knockers band played many old favorites until the last Old Coot and Cootess was carted off to either bed or the infirmary…They partied well into the 7 PM hour when it was "bed time" for most participants... The last attendees could see – as they were leaving – the still aimlessly wandering Balloon Beer Fleet – drifting high over the Old Creepy Forest with a severe case of the munchies….

As always volunteers are being sought to help police up the grounds in the after math of the festivities – the zombie grounds crews can only do so much… Those interested in helping will receive a full 6 months off their time in the lower Lurkers Oubliettes – or if they are not Lurkers, be excused from next years Grumpy Old Coot And Cootess Ball, Limbo Contest and Flea Market… Volunteers are also advised to wear chain mail as the Old Creepy Forest is infested with squiggles this time of year…

Special thanks to all the volunteers (and indentured servants) who helped set up and run this years festival! (BTW... If anyone sees any of the Balloon crews, tell them they still owe for the beer bottle deposits!)

See You Next year!

Taun

Tricycle Race Results

Well, the 9,853rd Annual UM Tricycle Race, Demolition Derby and Chili Cook-off is now in the history books!

It was a truly classic race, full of chills, spills, thrills, flaming crashes, fireworks, suspense, drama, pathos, and a few other words I don’t have the desire to look up in the dictionary… A record number of entrants signed up this year – owing largely to the last minute announcement that entry in the race would remove 3 years off of your Oubliette confinement sentence… Fully 15,923 racers lined up at the Historic Portcullis of the Main Drawbridge over the Inner Moat… It was an inspiring sight to see so many brightly painted racing machines all (more or less) lined up… Yellow, Red, Blue, Green, (a few white ones for some reason) and of course the Puce teams tricycles were in abundance….

Thirty Minutes prior to the starting guns, The UM Grand High Inquisitor appeared high on his balcony overlooking the milling mob of idiots racers and fans below… Raising his arms on high, he began intoning the traditional pre-race Benediction and Legal Warning, in High Old Pig-Hittite – which is rather like pig-Latin but in Hittite… Once the lawyers were satisfied that all loop holes had been closed and no racer (or their heirs) could sue for any reason whatsoever, another annoying inspiring Invocation was chanted by the Gregorian Chanters from Oubliette Numbers 17 and 135… Once the racers and fans were re-awakened, the Official UM Polka and Ompah Marching Band played their rendition of the UM National anthem (no one else considers it that – but they do).. As the massed accordions and Tubas blared away, the pit crews removed the wooden chocks from the racers vehicles wheels…

As the massive UM Clock tower slowly ticked off the last few seconds the racers began the traditional reviving of their “engines” – 15,923 eager people all going “Vrooooom! Vrooooom! Putt Putt Putt!” as loudly as they could… A thrilling spectacle that harkens back to the early days of the race – back before the wheel had been invented (those tricycles didn’t really move very fast in those days)… The Start Marshals quickly worked their way through the throng of racers, removing the occasional illegal enhancement – or just making changes for the heck of it… All racers who had cards attached to the spokes of their wheels with clothes pins were inspected to ensure that only approved sports cards (or playing cards) were used…

At long last, the Clock tower struck 2:12 and 15 ½ seconds PM (Noonish UM standard time) and the signal was given… The massed cannon of the Grand Bastion fired off a salvo (more or less in unison) and the race was on!...

After a fifteen minute delay was called to clear the debris, wrecked tricycles and injured and/or dead racers, pit crews and fans from the start line where the cannon had been aimed, the surviving racers were off!

It took three hours for the traffic jam at the drawbridge to clear, after the surviving 7,321 racers jockeyed for the lead…. At last three members of the Red team broke out from the pack and set up a blistering pace down the Grand Processional Way… Radar check points clocked them moving at a respectable speed of 18,816 FpFn (7 mph, 11 kph – remember that all speeds are noted in Furlongs per Fortnight)… The three Red racers had no sooner cleared the drawbridge than the log jam suddenly cleared and the bulk of the racers sped after them…

Unable to maintain their blistering pace for long the three red racers gradually were overtaken by the pack and soon the lead changed every few seconds… Dozens of spectators cheered them on as the moved down the Grand Processional Way, knocking the elderly and children out of the way as they vied for the honor of being the first to cross the Great Outer Moat (very important as Pookie usually allows the first few to cross before he (?) starts choosing his snacks….)

At long last the Imperial Rickety Bridge came into view as it majestically spans the Great Outer Moat. First to attempt the crossing was a member of the Yellow team, who pedaled as fast as she could while chanting her “Vroom Vroom” sounds to psych herself up more… Unlike last year Pookie was already at the bridge, looming far above it – no doubt drawn by the Ompah bands that ran alongside the racers… But for some strange reason he (?) seemed to be a bit off his feed – snatching up only a relative few of the racers – certainly less than 500… An investigation later revealed that the Puce team had been feeding him large quantities of door-to-door salesmen, telemarketers and several hundred zombie workers the night prior to the race – so he was full…

Across the Imperial Rickety Bridge, the Grand Processional Way changed from its well-maintained cobblestone surface to the worn, heavily rutted mostly washed out Ancient Dirt Trail… Several dozen racers had breakdowns on the heavily rutted trail and would have to sit out the next few hours while their pit crews sobered up and attempted to reach them for repairs…

At last the leading elements of the racers reached the Old Creepy Forest… Entering the densely wooded, heavily overgrown, eerily spooky forest, the racers and their brightly painted machines were quickly swallowed from sight into the deep gloom… Since no televised coverage of the Old Creepy Forest is possible, its not really known exactly what happened inside. However a member of the Grumpy Old Coot and Cootess Club (who were responsible for Marshalling the trail in the forest) when asked to report – merely smirked, shook her head and explained “I told them young’uns to keep offa my lawn!”

6,915 racers entered the Old Creepy Forest and 4,112 exited still on their tricycles…

Blue team was now in the lead as they raced down the last leg of the Ancient Dirt trail, before turning west out across the very appropriately named Trackless Plains of Despair… The Green team gained considerable advantage here by plying the Course Marshalls with massive bribes to redirect the other teams out on the plains… While the Green team raced (more or less) in a straight line to Check Point #1, the other teams had a more … circuitous route…

Gaining a full 24 hour advantage over the other teams, Team Green enjoyed long stays in the Jacuzzis and bars at the CP#1, before heading out straight up the long trail that goes up the Outer Crater wall on Slippery Slope… Heavy bribes by other racers and teams cut down some on the delay time imposed by their aimless wanderings, and soon everyone still in the race was speeding up slippery slope… Almost 3,000 made it to the top, to turn East along Knife Edge Ridge Road – those that forgot to bring Oxygen, were soon out of the race, and what with the occasional “slip” off of the extremely narrow trail, less than 1,000 made it all the way to the Grand Frictionless Staircase…

Atop the staircase, it is not unusual for a racer to pause as they look down the ice covered Teflon surfaced staircase… 57,000 feet (17.37 kms) down a staircase at a 60 degree angle, through the clouds, haze and smog of the outer regions to the blasted, burned, barren lands of the Great Artillery Impact Zones, is a very daunting pathway… especially since tricycles really don’t have any brakes… About half decided to withdraw from the race at this point – until they learned they would still have to go down the staircase anyway… So with many a deep breath (those who still had oxygen anyway), and with white knuckled intensity, one by one they started down the staircase…

Aside from being frictionless, it is a staircase… So riding a tricycle down it is extremely bumpy… As always this part of the race, and the subsequent attempts to slow them down at Check Point #2, provides many amusing highlights on the local sports channels….  It is safe to say that ALL of the racers made it down the staircase… but only about 200 were in any condition to continue the race.. Oddly enough every member of the White team made it down intact and in (relative) good health… It seems that they each packed a parachute and simply drove off the cliff rather than attempt the staircase… While this is not exactly illegal, it will be addressed at the next meeting of the Rules committee…

After resting, refitting and the mandatory psych evaluations at Check Point #2, the surviving racers pedaled off down the rather poorly marked trail through The Eastern Artillery Impact Zone (A)… This part of the race is always dramatic and frequently replayed in slow motion with stirring musical accompaniment, as the dented, dinged and banged up brightly colored tricycles roll through the fields on bent and wobbly wheels, while the artillery shells explode all around them… For added affect, each tricycle was outfitted with a smoke canister of their team color.. This greatly added to the overall cinema graphic effects…

At long last the survivors were able to turn West and after hours of speeding alongside the Grand Outer Moat in relative safety they came once again to the Imperial Rickety Bridge, where they turned Southwards along the Grand Processional Way… Thanks to Pookie still being rather off his feed, almost two dozen racers made it to the finish line….

The finish order is thus:

First Place: Melvin Frump… White Team

Second Place: Lotta Sassback … Puce Team

Third Place: Ida Won … Green Team

Other Honors:

Highest Bribe – Green Team

Highest Speed (excluding the Grand Frictionless Staircase leg) – Robert “Steroid Bob” Smith 32,256 Fpfn (12 mph/19.3 kph)

Highest Speed on the Frictionless Staircase – Mach 3.2 – Still awaiting the DNA test to identify the lucky winner of this trophy…

 Attached is a map of the route(s) run...

 

The results of the Chili Cook-off were just as spectacular… Over 10,000 entrants brought their favorite chili recipes and after hours of taste testing (and the occasional stomach pump) Jim-Bob and Billy-Bob “Cooter” Jenkins of Bugtussle, Oklahoma, were awarded the Grand Prize… Safir Al-Qwazi of UM’s own Oubliette Kitchens was the runner up…

 

So – another legendary event has passed and now we all can look forward to the next two scheduled events… The Cthulhu Days Festival, Mardi Gras and Tango Contest on April 15th and the highly anticipated UM Old Coot and Cootess Ball, Limbo Dance Contest and Flea Market on April 20th..

See y’all there!

route map.jpg

Taun

Hello sports fans!

The UM Office of Tourism, Recreation and Sanitation has just announced the official course for this years Annual UM Tricycle Race/Demolition Derby and Chili Cook-Off... Early this morning (Pago-Pago Standard Sundial Time) the Grand High Inquisitor in charge of the central Office of Tourism, Recreation and Sanitation emerged from her 95th floor office onto the balcony that overlooks the overgrown parking lot Grand Plaza where hordes of unkempt peasants happy citizens of the UM complex had been gathering since late last Autumn in hopes of being fed in excited expectation of this mornings news release...

As always the listless mob rabid fans of UM's least hated Most Popular Sporting Event jeered cheered the High Inquisitor as she emerged wearing her formal Robes and Cowl of festive Black with Crimson trim, complete with her long elegant black leather gloves with bright and sparkling silver knuckle spikes... As the jeering cheering finally was silenced by Inquisitors in the mob subsided The High Inquisitor held forth the crumpled sheet of notebook paper Sacred Parchment Scroll and began reading aloud the words scribbled inscribed in crayon in golden ink... While few could hear her words (she was 95 floors up and a quarter mile away after all) the cheering when she finally stopped droning on finished the scroll was both spontaneous and loud...

The Route chosen this year is thus:

As is traditional the race will commence precisely at High Noon(ish) on March 20th (or as soon as the weather is bad enough)... Racers will be lined up at the start line which is (as always - unless it's not) at the Portcullis of the Main Drawbridge over the Innermost Moat... The contestants will line up in such a way that no two members of the same team (Red, Blue Green or Yellow) may be side by side - except the Puce team which traditionally needs all the help it can get... After the Singing of UM's National Anthem (assuming we write one that is) and the Invocation chanted by the Gregorian Chanters from Oubliette Numbers 17 and 135, the Massed cannon from the Grand Bastion will fire to signify the start of the race (be careful - they tend to aim near the start line rather than in the air)...

Riders are warned that they must begin in a seated position - no standing and using the tricycle as a "scooter" - also on-board weapons are not allowed to be used until the racers have crossed the Outer Moat... The course goes from the Main Drawbridge straight out along the Grand Processional Way and across the Great Outer Moat by way of the Imperial Rickety Bridge... As last year the course then continues straight into the Old Creepy Forest... Unlike last year you will go entirely through the Old Creepy Forest on the Ancient Dirt Trail rather than turning East half way through at the junction of the Meandering Path... Once out of the Old Creepy Forest the course turns West out across the Trackless Plains of Despair until the racers arrive at Check Point 1 (about two or three days out - depending on if you cheat or not)... At Check Point 1 riders will be given a chance to rest for 8 hours - so that they can have their wounds tended to and get deloused from the trip through the Old Creepy Forest... This is only one of two official rest and pit stops along the course this year - so make the best of it! This is also a good place to attempt to bribe the Course Marshals for later stages of the race...

After an 8 hour rest, the racers will be started in order of their arrival with the same time between departures as they arrived (unless of course you successfully bribe the Marshals)... The course turns North at this point and goes up Slippery Slope to the Western Heights of the Great Outer Crater Wall - there are no guard rails on Slippery Slope and it is extremely serpentine so watch out!... At the top of Slippery Slope Marshals will direct the racers to the East along Knife Edge Ridge... Follow the ridge (you really have no choice if you want to survive) until you come to The Grand Frictionless Staircase which will allow you to (extremely quickly) descend from Knife Edge Ridge... Using the great speed you gain from re-entry into the atmosphere (BTW - you might want to pack an oxygen tank - or two) from the Grand Frictionless Staircase, you will quickly arrive at Check Point 2... Aircraft Carrier Landing harnesses have been installed to assist the racers in decelerating (rather abruptly)... After another 8 hour rest/refit and Sanity Check, the Marshals will restart the racers in arrival order on the final leg...

The Final Leg is from Check Point 2 out across the Eastern Artillery Impact Zone (Zone A only though) - Where it turns Westward across the Great Briar and Cactus Patch until it joins up again with the Grand Processional Way... At the Grand Processional Way the course turns due South and straight across the Great Outer Moat, across the Zombie Training and Testing Grounds, across the Inner Moat and then to the finish Line at the Portcullis of the Main Drawbridge...

A few rules that need to be mentioned:

1. No engines, motors, jets or other artificial propulsion devices allowed

2, No high explosive or nuclear weapons allowed (except for Route Marshals)

3. Banjos are not required this year - but if you take one along you will be given a 30 minute advantage at each checkpoint - provided you can play it

4. Any racer straying from the Official course will be disqualified - and given a severe talking to by their Chief Flogger - Unless of course you have a written permission slip from a bribed Marshal

5. Creatures of the Old Creepy Forest are not to be taken as pets - no matter how cute, cuddly and/or radioactive they may be

6. All official Stats will be kept in Accordance with the UM Office of Standards, Weights, Measures and Fish Bait Sales... Distance will be measured in Imperial Graasts (the distance that a heavily inebriated barfly can stagger in fifteen minutes) and velocity will be measured in FpFn (Furlongs per Fortnight) as an example 5mph (8.04672 kph) is 13,440 FpFn's....

7. Racers will be given a 1 minute advantage at each check point for each racer (of another team) that they force off of the route - and/or take out of the race...

8. The winning team will be honored at the next Cthulhu Days Festival, Mardi Gras and Tango Contest -the the winning racer being the Guest of Honor int he Cthulhu Days Parade...

9. All racers must complete the full packet of Entry forms and have a signed, notarized copy of their Last Will and Testament - and a statement legally absolving UM for any legal entanglements - including (but not limited to) loss of limb, long lasting health problems from radiation and/or toxic fumes, viral or bacteriological infection, mental health damage, death, obesity, loss of obesity, being eaten by Pookie the Moat Monster - or a herd of Squiggles, flatulence, zombiefication and the condition known as sausage fingers....

10. While the winners of the race (the first 10 to cross the finish line - or the last ten to drop out or perish, if no one makes it) will gain great fortune ($1.50 for the winner!), lasting fame (at least until the Cthulhu Days Festival) and the admiration of their peers (peers being anyone silly enough to actually race in this thing) - the others also win! Those finishing out of the top ten are automatically enrolled in next years race! (Attendance is mandatory)...

So - now that the course is set, and Marshals can now go out and pick their spot (and start taking bribes of course) it's time for the citizens of UM's massive complex to step up and enter the race! Good fortune to you all!

 

Here is a copy of the Entry Form Packet Request for you convenience!

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Pay particular attention to section V!

Taun

Well, 2017's version of UM's "BlackLight Costume Contest Valentine's Day Dance and Rummage Sale" has passed and was another smashing success!... Attendance was at an all time high (no doubt helped along by the Chief Inquisitor's Office releasing all of the Inmates residents of the Lurkers Dungeons for this affair), and a fun time was had by all - as witnessed by the fact that the Riot squad was called out 5 times - beating last years record of 4 times - and the National Guard had to be called in at closing time to assist the Sheriff's Department in rounding up the usual suspects....

Here is how the evening went:

The party-goers formed up just across the Grand Bridge of Sorrows which spans the Great Outer Moat... With the UM Kazoo and Snare Drum Marching Band leading the way with a rousing rendition of "Louie Louie" The parade kicked off and crossed the bridge to the cheers of hordes of on lookers - and the hungry gaze of Pookie the Moat Monster...The survivors then wended their way down the Grand Concourse, between the Central Administration Complex and the massive Repository Of Lost Postings Complex to a veritable blizzard of confetti, ticker-tape and rotten tangerines, which rained down on us from the many Office Drudges Workers who make this great Establishment work! Normally the Drudges Office Workers would be in the parade - displaying their pride - but the Head Flogger in Charge of them could not find the keys to their shackles in time - so they enjoyed some (un-paid) overtime... The parade then crossed over the Great Outer Moat again - on the Eastern side of the Complex - and into the Great Eastern Artillery Impact Zones, and over to the UM Mortuary where a crew of Zombies, caffeine freaks and "the very nervous" had spent the past three months decorating the Grand Ballroom...

Marching order for the parade was: The UM Kazoo And Snare Drum Marching Band, The world famous UM Precision Drill Team of Zombie Nixon's and Churchill's, Some random tourists who were shanghaied into marching kind enough to join in the festivities, The ever popular "Inmates of The Dark Oubliette's Choir of Shriekers and Moaners" followed next and as always are a great crowd pleaser, Next came the Contestants for the BlackLight Costume Contest, marching under a portable BlackLight - a truly awesome sight as always ... Next came the people who just wanted to dance, escorted by their fictitious spouses, dates and/or Zombie Escorts - A fan favorite was UM Asylum Member freetoroam who showed up escorted by a gaggle of custom modified Zombies - many creatively put back together with festive duct tape, super glue and bailing wire - The UM Office of Zombie Wranglers is currently studying her handiwork to see if any of the "kit bashed" zombies could be mass produced... Several parade floats were intermixed with the marchers - prominent among them were; A giant rubber duckie, A paper mache replica of the founding of the UM Complex complete with the Neanderthal's Quest to Find the Land of Accordions and a Mount Rushmore style float featuring the likenesses of The Head Mods of UM (The Office of the Grand Inquisitor is currently investigating who leaked the photos of the mods - so if you know who did it ... Probably best to keep silent)... Near the end was a platoon of Chief Floggers who "encouraged" stragglers to keep moving... Bringing up the rear - as always was the most popular entry - the cleaning crew who sweep up all the trash and removed those who "drop out"...

After arriving at the Ball room, the party started with a quick judging of the BlackLight Costumes (being under the blacklights for so long had started making some of the costumes - and people wearing them - begin to melt, so time was of the essence)... The winners were announced and prizes awarded, however a quick challenge by some of the winners led to a postponement of the announcements pending a full investigation, bribes and the usual amount of moaning, complaining, DNA testing and threats - by the winners... So the prizes were once again herded into their holding cells, where they await the naming of the unfortunate souls lucky winners...

Once the carnage of the Costume Contest was cleared away, the Dance started. The featured band "The Noggin Knockers" proved why they are the premier band in UM... They started the first set with their popular first recording hit, "I Wanna Smash Your Hand", then they moved into the romantic ballad "Take My Heart (But Give it Back Later I Might Need it)"... They were in fine form and received great applause when they finally quit... They set decibel records three times in their performance, which led to several unplanned "breaks" as their Roadies had to replace several of the musical instruments who had suffered excessive trauma... Two other newly formed member bands provided filler music when the Noggin Knockers took their breaks - they were the all female band "Lizzie Borden's Step-Kids" and the Punk Rock/Skiffle band "Why Should I tell You?" (At least that's what they said when asked what their name was)... Both bands were loud and fun to dance to, and neither one attacked the audience more than twice...Special thanks goes to the UM Chapter of the World Disaster Relief Organization - who were on hand as always - for minimizing casualties and providing hearing protection for those members who could afford it...

At the stroke of Midnight the Judges announced the winners of the Fictitious Spouse and/or Significant Other(s) beauty pageant... Below is a photo taken of the "Queen" and "King" of the Ball, on the landing just at the entrance to the Ballroom... The strapless, very risque gown certainly raised some eyebrows - and the Queens gown was rather daring as well.... Congrats to the winners!

 

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The Rummage Sale (a new event this year) will be held over the next three days, until all of the items left behind by partiers as they fled the Sheriff's Posse - and the odd bit dropped by the Zombie Dates - are sold... So come on down to the UM Morgue and Ball room and find a great deal on abandoned trash priceless relics of this years event!

During the closing ceremonies, the Chief Mod announced that the UM Office of the Chief Inquisitor would be available to help make bail for members who were "a little short"....

The success of this years UM BlackLight Costume Contest, Valentine's Day Dance and Rummage Sale has led the Planning committee to look eagerly forward to next years festivities  - Members who would like to volunteer to be on the planning committee should report to the Committee's Headquarters located in the third sub-basement of the Giant Trash Compactor building near the Quicksand factory... Remember - if not enough people volunteer... You just might GET volunteered!...

The next event planned by our evil overlords kind and caring Mods is this years UM Tricycle Race and Demolition Derby, next month... So get your favorite tricycle ready and write those wills!... See ya!

Taun

Beannie and the Bug

Beannie and the Bug

(A True Story)

In 1973 my (then) wife and I lived just outside of Tokyo, Japan. We had a nice small frame house located in a wooded

corner of a major Army Bases housing area and we loved it.

Sharon (my wife) loved cats. She loved cats more than she loved anything else (me included as it turned out), and it wasn’t long after we settled

in that she adopted a totally white, stray Manx type cat (short stubby tail). She couldn’t decide on a name for him, being torn

between “Snowflake” and “Spookie” , but one afternoon he got up on the table as she was preparing some bean dip for a party,

and ate it all… So she named him “Beannie”…

Beannie had one habit that I did not care for, he liked to find large bugs in the yard and bring them into the house, where he would

play with them for a while, then get bored and walk off leaving the critter to roam as it pleased. Usually he brought in things like large

slugs, snails and beetles, and since Sharon hated bugs she would soon be calling for me to get rid of the slimy things (yeah, like I wanted

to touch them… yech!) . But one hot, humid afternoon, he made a tragic mistake… Beannie brought in the largest Preying Mantis I have

ever seen!

He deposited the mantis in the middle of the kitchen floor and started walking around it, batting at it occasionally with a paw. The mantis just

stood there, staring at the large cat, it’s head swiveling completely around to always face it’s tormentor.

I was sitting in an arm chair – my leg in a cast from a severe sprain I had received the day before- watching this, waiting for the cat to tire of his game,

so I could escort the mantis outside.

Well, a mantis has little or no sense of humor, and after about the third time that Beannie had circled it and had gotten back to the front, the mantis

suddenly leapt at the cat with blinding speed! It’s wings buzzing rapidly as it grabbed Beannies whiskers on either side of the startled cats muzzle,

and proceeded to start eating Beannies nose!.

The cat let out the strangest yowl I have ever heard a cat make, and started violently shaking his head from side to side as he also began running pell-mell

through the house. Unable to see where he was going, due to the huge insect eating his face, Beannie caromed off of every piece of furniture in the house

as he attempted to free himself from the mantis. I knew better than to try to intervene as the cat was not declawed, didn't like me much to begin with and I couldn't really move

all that well.

Meanwhile, Sharon – who was in the shower – heard “her baby” screaming and the crashing of furniture and her many “niknaks”, so she quickly wrapped a

towel around her long hair, then ran out to see what was going on.

In the brief time all this took, the cat had largely wrecked the living room, all the while the mantis was chowing down on his – now bleeding – nose. Screaming

Sharon grabbed a nearby straw broom and began chasing after the struggling duo, whacking the cat on its back and head, as she tried to kill the (apparently)

very hungry insect.

This did not set well with Beannie, who was now being attacked at both ends! As the terrified cat ran even screamed even louder and ran faster with even more

seriously depleted navigational skills, he started voiding both his bladder and his colon…

Around and around they ran, for another 5 or 6 minutes, until finally Sharon slipped on the Pee and Poo mess Beannie was leaving behind him, and fell – sliding into the cat.

This caused the whiskers that the mantis was holding onto to break off and the insect, gracefully fluttered off to land atop the bookshelf in the spare room that we

used for storage. Sharon, apparently, took umbrage with my hysterical laughter, and began whacking me with the broom… It didn’t really hurt, and (truth to tell) I

probably deserved it… a bit…

At long last, she was able to get near her absolutely freaked out cat, and start calming him down. The cleanup took quite a while, and was accompanied by an

occasional whack on my back with the broom as I continued to laugh about it…

We never found the Preying Mantis, but in a couple weeks it became apparent that it was female, as the egg cluster it must have laid hatched and we were inundated

with hundreds of tiny Preying Mantis babies… It took a long time to get them out of the house, but I made sure that at least one remained indoors – since the National

Bird of Japan seemed to be the mosquito… We never had problems with mosquito's after this, so to me it was worth it.

For the rest of his life, Beannie had a notch in the tip of his nose, where the Preying Mantis had feasted… But he never brought another bug into the house again!

Taun

How I spent my Christmas Vacation...

I awoke early Christmas morning not really feeling like going anywhere, but I felt I was committed to at least try to visit my Sister who lives in Kansas - about a three hour drive from where I live...

(Cue up the theme song to Gilligan's Island - "A three hour tour....")

The roads had been icy for the past four or five days but on Christmas morning they were clear - though there was a very cold fog and the temperatures were in the mid-20's F...

Gathering up the gifts I had purchased for my youngest sister, her husband, their daughter, her husband, and my little 3 year old grand niece Payton (cutest little hellion that ever

stole a cookie), and the gifts for my baby brother, his wife, and two adult sons, I piled into my trusty 2004 Chevy TrailBlazer and set forth at 7 am for the fast cultural wasteland of Southern Kansas

(at least that is how I always tease my brother about moving there)...

Loading some lovely Christmas music in my CD player (Moya Brennan "An Irish Christmas"; and Horslips "Drive the Cold Winter Away") I sallied forth across Oklahoma City's deserted streets and

headed of to Interstate 35, then north through the thick fog...

It was like driving in the Twilight Zone - trees, overpasses and other vehicles would appear out of the fog as if they were being created by some powerful but sleepy deity, only to fade back into nothingness as if the deity decided it was too much work or not interesting enough to keep them....

After about 80 miles the deep fog suddenly lifted, without a trace of having been, and I continued my trek in the brilliant morning sunshine...

After arriving in Kansas, I was forced to change my normal route to my sisters house because the side road was still heavily covered in ice... With a feeling of irritation that I would now have to drive through the town traffic of Arkansas City, Kansas - which the strange natives insist on pronouncing as Ar-Kansas City rather than Arkansaw city like any sane person would... Since I seldom traveled this way i trusted my ever faithful GPS system to guide me unerringly to my sisters house and to the many delicious treats she had baked...

Treachery... Foul treachery!... My so called trusty GPS device led me on a twisted and circuitous route through the city with the strangely pronounced name... Up one brick paved city street and down another, each seemingly further from the road that I needed...

At long last I was on a street that I was at least passingly familiar with, and once again traveling toward the warmth of my younger siblings home and all the tasty treats I had looked forward to for so long that morning...

My once trusty GPS (now temporarily back in my good graces) was showing me that I was finally within three miles of my sisters home and I need only travel down this one country road...

And so it sprang it's last and most diabolical trap!

This 'road' (for want of a better word) was a narrow dirt track deep in the shade of the trees and brush that grew along the ancient fence lines that lined either side... and there were patches of slippery, glistening ice laying in wait...

I feared not for I had driven upon such ice many times in my life without once having suffered injury or mishap, one must merely drive slowly and steadily, not turning the wheel and neither pressing the brake nor the accelerator with any force.... Alas... My evil GPS device had a foul accomplice in it's evil and dastardly plans...

As I slowly came to the top of a small rise in the road, I could spy the end of the road a scant mile away... at that moment, the evil ones plans came to full fruition... The foul accomplice - in the guise of a simple and gentle deer leapt forth in front of my trusty vehicle - less than a car length in front of me... As the demon in animal form leapt, my wheels struck a sheet of ice that lay upon the hard packed dirt road...

Suddenly I was traveling sideways at slow speed, none of my driving skills affecting the direction or speed in the slightest.. then I was traveling backwards in the same direction i had been going before the trap was sprung... I was going at slow enough speed (20 mph) that i had time to see the evil deer prance back into the brush and away with an impudent flick of its tail... i also could see that there was no ditch on the road side and so I relaxed knowing that once I hit the dirt and got off the road ice my vehicle would stop, I could turn around and proceed...

Alas... it was not to be.... As the two wheels on the driver side of my faithful vehicle struck the soft thawed dirt of the road side, the vehicle did stop... It seemed to hesitate for the briefest of moments... And then lay over on it's side trapping me inside it..

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Laying there for what seemed a long time but was in fact a mere second or two, I was suddenly pelted with the loose objects inside my vehicle as they fell down on top me, to include an open bottle half full of a soft drink....

My thought were to get out quickly... i have seen too many movies wherein the most minor of accidents always results in the vehicle turning into a blazing inferno... So unfastening my seat belt (I ALWAYS wear my seat belt thank goodness!) I stood upon the inside of the drivers door, and managed to roll the window down on the passenger side... Climbing out I say for a moment atop the

side of my vehicle, hearing fluids dripping down....

Jumping to the ground (very spry for a 60 year old!) I walked away and gathered my wits...

I was not injured... but I was wet (with the sticky cold contents of the Mt Dew bottle), and was able to place a call to my brother in law...

To prevent from boring you children longer I will sum up and say that my faithful and beloved vehicle is dead... It shall sojourn no more upon America's highways and byways... My foul and faithless GPS lies shattered and broken upon an icy Kansas field... a plaything for cows, crows and coyotes... And I sit back at home with a vehicle loaned to my by my brother in law... awaiting my insurance company to add further complications upon my life...

As I had no injury - and no one else was hurt either I am in good cheer...

Merry Christmas to you all!

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