June, 2002.

A convoy of M1A1 Abrams tanks are rolling through a habitated area of the South Korean peninsula. Two little girls are playing on a bridge slightly past the peak. As the tank crested the hill, the driver was unable to see the little girls playing over the bend. Both girls were killed.

Violent protests break out all over the peninsula, including one protest in Seoul measured in the hundred of thousands. Thousands of Korean riot police, US MPs, and numerous other soldiers responded. US military bases country-wide were placed on alert. In Yongsan, Korean nationals sacked the gate, breaking through into the post. Other bases were firebombed, and many people were injured.

Many nationals claimed the US killed the children on purpose, and an apology made by President George W. Bush was taken as an insult by many. The majority of the protestors are Korean students. The older generation of Koreans generally supports Americas presence, remembering the sacrifice US soldiers made on their behalf during the Korean War.

Currently, the US government has just announced it's plans to remove over 12,000 of the approx. 37,000 US military troops stationed on the Korean peninsula. Many feel the American presence would actually provoke North Korean aggression, rather than deter it. A press release in the Stars and Stripes newspaper, in late March, said the latest review of the American presence on the peninsula deemed it's purpose "pointless". Many Koreans in and around US posts have protested America's withdrawl, claiming their local economies will be crushed.

As of June 11, 2004 American bases nation wide are placed on alert and a strict 9 PM curfew has been instated.

MP's have already drawn riot gear and are preparing for protests. Tension is thick, and I am on CQ tonight, so I will be busy.


Chicago. Who knew she'd go so far? Here I am, on the verge of moving across the country, and she had already left me behind. Married in 2003, moved to Chicago shortly thereafter, I assume. She didn't tell me until it was too late; she didn't tell me until it was too late for me to rush in and romantically interrupt the ceremony. "You belong with me," is all I needed to shatter the world that day.

We always promised each other we'd send wedding invitations. But she knew better. She knew I couldn't sit by and watch what was ours become someone else's. This was ours; we built it and nurtured it and never let it mature because we never really had a chance. Forever the questions will break me down, unable to answer what rhetoric remarks my heart will invent.

Change is coming. Winds blow my life like a candy wrapper in the Windy City, until I dangle on the sands of the est coast, a new life, a new breath... but the same old emptiness. Silence and emptiness.

Okay, in case you haven't already heard (which means my scream of shock didn't reach all the way across the East Coast), this past Saturday night, June 5th, the Horror Writers Association honored my short story "Duty" with the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.

That's right: I won a Stoker. I'm still reeling from it, still incredibly happy, and still half-expecting someone to come tap, tap, tapping at my chamber door, saying, ahem, there was a terrible misunderstanding and could they please have it back because Stephen King is waiting for it.

I will confirm that it's one hell of a humbling experience to receive one of these, and I am more grateful than I can put into words; but like I said in my acceptance speech: for those who claim the Stokers don't mean anything, try standing up on that stage with one of them in your hand and saying that.

After having visited NYC, I can say to all of you New Yorkers that you've got every reason to be damned proud of your city; everyone I met -- from the shuttle driver to the people who manned the hotel desk to the bleary-eyed guy who sold me a cup of coffee at 5 a.m. -- was friendly and (get this) courteous.

That's right, you read it correctly, courteous. Even though it was obvious to all of them (sometimes painfully so) that I was a visitor from Ohio, I was never spoken down to, never made to feel like a hick, never dismissed out of hand, and not once was I ever made to feel like they were doing me a favor by putting up with my presence in their city. The song is right: it's a helluva town, and I can't wait to visit again.

And for the record: the coffee I had in NYC was the most delicious coffee I've had in my life; and I want to move to Tower Records -- not near Tower Records, to Tower Records, as in: I wish to live in the building, preferably somewhere on or near the escalator that links the CD section to the DVDs one floor below. Yes, I have problems, but you already knew that.

< April 13, 2004 | index | July 13, 2004 >

So June 10, 2004 yesterday was super Thursday as they call it. This means it was the European Elections, in London the Mayor and in many places (but not here) the local elections too.

Traditionally, I spend much of election days persuading everyone I know that they must vote (especially those people who will vote they same as me). This year it's especially important.

The area I live in is very Tory. For the few weeks before any election we are surrounded by Tory posters wherever you look. (Somehow, however, the Liberal Democrats have managed to win the last two general elections and the last local election down here). What's different this time, however, is the UKIP. The UK Independence Party is pretty new, as bases itself squarely in two camps: Withdraw from the EU and stop these nasty foreigners coming into our country. They've even take on that twat Robert Kilroy-Silk, and for fuck's sake: Joan Collins, who lives in France. They're getting the votes of Daily Mail reading wankers all over the place. Everywhere you look this year are the disgustingly bright UKIP posters, and I am determined to get as many right-minded people out to vote for anyone else.

Normally I wouldn't worry so much about parties like UKIP and, of course, the ever present fascist British National Party. I am aware they're allways gonna get some votes from braindead scum, but I didn't realise how bad it was.

Every Thursday, I drive my Grandmother up to the shops so she can collect her pension and get her shopping (yes, I know, I'm a very good boy). Today, I'm taking her up to vote too. On the way we passed her next-door-neighbour-but-one, who I've briefly chatted to a couple of times any always seemed O.K. He was getting out of his car. We've got the Euro Cup coming up, and like hundreds of cars around, his had a couple of St George Crossess on the top, which my Grandmother mentioned.

"I see you've got your flags up for the football." she said.

"Well, I'm an Englishman" he replied

Nothing wrong here. He's proud to be English, just like I'm proud to be English, and British, and European, and a human, and a Torquinan. But then he decided to revise his statement a little,

"I'm an Englishman not a fucking Asylum Seeker or a Paki"

At this point, words like Fucking Wanker and Racist Cunt are racing to the tip of my tounge. But I can't speak. I'm just so shocked. I make a mental note not to forget how powerfull the politics of fear are, and how many relly stupid people there are. At last I managed one sentence:

"It's people like you who have made so many right-thinking people ashamed to fly the flag for so long."

Not a particularly clever or cutting thing to say, but it is true. Not that he could understand, I suppose. I can never belive people like that will bring up the Second World War to be proud of. Not realising that it was a war against fascism and biggots not a war against Germany, and now he's losing it for us. Me and my Grandmother just continued up to the shops.

Mind you, who do you vote for this time out? In Torbay, traditionally we all have to vote tacticly. This means if you don't want Conservatives you vote Lib Dem. This is why the Lib Dems have been in power down here for a while, but for a lot of people it was just a proxy vote for Labour (An extra Lib Dem MP doesn't hurt Labour's chances of taking power as a new Tory one would.

The European elections, however, are now using Proportional Representation. I'm not voting for someone to represent Torquay, Torbay, or even Devon. No, I'm voting for 9 MEPs in the South West area. This is a Good ThingTM, it means you can get away with voting for who you want. This would also used to mean a vote, from me, for Labour, with no second thought, but I can't do it. Not given current events, so I ended up voting Green. I'd quite like a green MEP, anyway.

Today I will graduate from high school. Well, I mean, I took a ridiculously light class load for the last twelve weeks of school, so I wouldn't say that there is the stereotypical sense of relief that usually comes with graduation. It's really more like I've prolonged today's hour and a half ceremony for the last sixty days. Nearly all of my friends are more than ready to wash their hands of high school. At first, the same could have been said of me. About three weeks ago though, the realization of the event sank in. The last thirteen years of my life have been spent in public schools, surrounded by standardized tests, instructors, and meaningless rules. Those things I will not miss. I am sad because I will be leaving people that I have known for roughly two thirds of my life. These are people that I have grown accustomed to seeing nearly every day of my life, people that have become a vital part of my life, whether they know it or not. They are what I will miss.

Originally I had intended to say something profound that reflected these feelings at graduation, during the valedictorian speech. However, the kibosh was put on that plan when I found out that there are 11 other valedictorians besides myself, and between all of us, we are only going to be given a 5 - 7 minute window to speak. So, the twelve of us have spent the last month and a half planning what we're going to be doing, so that we both include some meaningful profundities and entertainment in our speech. The final result is a little routine where we hold up large signs with painted on letters and arrange ourselves to form various words that embodied our high school experience, that finally culminate into the word "Renaissance." My part of the speech is:

"Classically, the word 'Renaissance' is synonymous with a rebirth or a new beginning. But every new beginning implies an end. For us, this is the end of one part of our lives, and the start of something new."
It may not command the same jaw-dropping response that I would like, but for all conventional purposes, I guess it'll have to do. The rest of the speech consists of the remaining valedictorians thanking various groups of people that have played a part in our lives. I fully intend to thank those that have meant something to me in person, where I can say everything that I want, and not have to worry about other people getting bored...

In preparation for today, a friend of mine that had similar feelings on the whole graduation thing agreed to make the last few weeks the most kick-assinest we could. We planned out contests, themed days, and innocent shenanigans. Some of the most memorable include:

  • Childhood regression: One day, during a period where we were the only two students in the class, Sarah and I constructed a fort out of boxes full of books and a sheet. This wasn't any elaborate structure, you would have found no flying buttresses or parapets, but it served our purposes of transporting us back about thirteen years, to a time where our imaginations would have done most of the building. While inside the fort, we played games from our childhood, like Cootie, and Pick-it, and Go Fish. To wrap up the occasion, we tried our hands at some Play-Doh sculpting. As people came and went through the class, we got some strange looks and curious laughs, but we both knew that they were derived solely out of jealousy.
  • Senseless eating contests: On the same day as the fort building, for some reason or another, the idea of a marshmallow eating contest came up, and not being one to turn down a challenge, I accepted Sarah's almost challenge of my will and gastrointestinal constitution. During lunch we proceeded to buy a bag of marshmallows, the large variety, and decided that we would each eat a mallow, one for one. We both started strong, showing no signs of weakness for the first ten confections. Around twenty or so my mouth became dry from a saturation of sugar and fluff. Finally, tied at 26 mallows, we were running out of time and marshmallows, we each took four of the remaining nine marshies, and had a race to determine the winner. A few quick and agonizing seconds later I emerged victorious. About a week later some friends of mine bought 14 doughnuts and couldn't manage to finish off the lot between the four of them. So, taking their failed attempt as a challenge, I gathered two friends and set out for six dollars worth of pastries. At our local supermarket bakery we bought out all of their jelly and custard filled doughnuts, thinking that if we could finish off those, then it would only further prove our superiority. The three of us started off well, polishing off two doughnuts each with little difficulty. As we emptied the box though, the custard and jelly became that much harder to stomach. Finally though, after finishing off five doughnuts myself, we showed our friends wrong, in a challenge that they never really made...
  • Teacher harassment: Since last year some friends and I had planned to recreate a scene from Billy Madison - the one where Billy and his friends are sitting outside of a fast food restaurant, and they throw the pickles from their burgers onto a window, to race them. This year we finally resolved to race pickles of our own on one of our past teachers windows. Unfortunately, the copious amount of secret sauce on the pickles and gravity were not enough to create a race, and the pickles just kind of sat there on the window, as the class on the other side of the glass looked at us, wondering exactly what we were doing.

Those last few weeks of school showed my just how fun school could be, and made me wonder exactly why it took me thirteen years to figure this out. I would give anything for just a couple more days with those people - the people that I see whenever I remember anything from high school. They're in the walls, the books and the lesson plans. If I take only one thing from the last four years of my life, it’ll be the memories I have with those people.

The Black Box Theory 

(being a continuation of June 10, 2004)

Venturing out to sea in a small boat is always a serious business, and around here the stakes are higher due to the multitudinous rocky channels. shifting shoals and strong, tidal currents.  In preparation for taking the Bones Party on a cruise today,  my First Mate and I began the preparing early this morning. A quick check of the Marine Coastal Weather Forecast verified what we can see from the living room window, it's a beautiful day

The next step is to check the tide tables for today, so we know what to expect from the channels and harbors of the along our route.  As it turns out, most of our trip today will be during the ebb tide for Buzzards Bay.  As the bay begins to empty, the channels between the islands will initially flow southeast as the last of the flood tide pushes through them, then they'll reverse direction and flow hard to the northwest as water from Vineyard Sound siphons into the emptying bay.  At the peak northwest flow, the speed will reach six knots, and burble up over ledges to form circular counter currents  like small whirlpools.  

Our initial float plan is to pick up a mooring in Hadley's Harbor over on Naushon Island to eat our lunch, then make a trip down Buzzards Bay to Cuttyhunk Island.  We'd never been out with this group of people before, and so we planned to break the trip up into bite-sized segments with lots of opportunities to bail if anyone got sick or uncomfortable.  I know this probably sounds callous or calculating to the uninitiated, but it's prudent seamanship since the local conditions can be challenging.

There's a theory among professional mariners speculating that every time you do some planning, preparation or maintenance task that wasn't strictly required, but was prudent under the circumstances, it gets metaphorically stashed away in a big black box for later use.  On that dark stormy night, when one failure follows another and the consequences all cascade towards a real fucking disaster, the lid of that black box flies open and all the prudence and forethought you'd stored up comes to your aid.  Sounds kooky I realize, but I know many old salts who swear they've survived the savage sea as a result of their almost religious adherence to this belief.  I just figure it's cheap insurance and I try to keep my black box full..

Bones, Coby and Papa Bear showed up about ten in the morning and we caravanned down to Woods Hole along Sippiwissett Road. When we came into town, they stopped at the Food Buoy Market in Woods Hole Village to pick up some sandwiches. The Mate, Bones and I took our Amesbury Skiff, Sleuth, out to South Swell in preparation for getting underway.  Sleuth is an Amesbury 12 (4 meters long) pushed by a ten horse Mercury outboard.  The Amesbury design has long been favored in New England for its stability and load carrying characteristics.  They actually seem to ride better as you put more weight in them, and it doesn't take much to push them up through the water, even when they're fully loaded.  

On the water

The Mate loves to drive Sleuth, and by the time Bones and I lugged all the gear down the dock, he has already gotten the rainwater bailed out and the engine fired up.  We step aboard, cast off the lines and are suddenly sending long wakes across the waters of Great Harbor.  There's something so endlessly thrilling to me about being on the water.  Doesn't matter really whether it's slow or fast, kayak, catamaran, sail or power, doesn't matter what kind of boat, it's just plain cool to be out there.  

After dropping us off on South Swell, the Mate streaks back across the harbor to ferry the rest of our party out to the boat.  South Swell is a stout and seaworthy little powerboat ideally suited for the local waters.  She's got a huge modern four stroke outboard motor hanging off her stern, a cockpit big enough for a football team and all the gizmos and widgets that make modern boating, well, modern.  I light off the engine and smile at the sound of precision machinery purring. We're not going to need radar on this beautiful afternoon, but I warm it up just to make sure everything is okay.  Likewise I start up the GPS chartplotter.  It will be in constant use today because the accuracy of these modern differential GPS receivers is utterly amazing.  They've become too useful to be without.

The Mate is soon back with the rest of the party and after stowing the lunch and food we drop the mooring and slide out of the harbor and into the turbulent waters of Woods Hole.  In a power boat, even the strongest tidal currents aren't much of a problem and South Swell cruised through the Hole with no problems under the steady hand of the Mate.  After we'd passed the last channel marker we accelerated into the rising swell and began slicing into a nasty four foot chop where the wind and tidal current collided.  We were taking green water over the bow and slapping hard against the steep wind waves.  In short it wasn't any fun and it was a relief to turn west and head for the shelter of Hadley's Harbor on Naushon.

Kerry Country

Naushon Island is John Forbes Kerry country.  His Forbes ancestors amassed great wealth as China Traders and purchased several of the Elizabethan Islands in the early 1800's. The islands have remained in the Forbes family since that time.  Naushon, Nashaweena and Uncatena are used by members of the Forbes family as summer vacation homes according to a complex reservation system based on the family genealogical chart.  John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, rates high enough on the Forbes hierarchy to merit a farm house on Nashaweena Island for his personal use!  

Hadley's Harbor is the hub of island life with a schedule of visits daily by the island ferry, the Cormorant.  Cormorant shuttles people, supplies, horses and the occasional tractor back and forth between the islands and Woods Hole.   Most everyone and everything comes and goes through Hadley's, so just kicking back and watching the harbor traffic can be entertaining. As we settled onto a mooring at the head of Hadley's for lunch, we watched Cormorant cruising past with a crowd of nostalgic vacationers heading for home. 

While the rest of the party enjoyed their lunch, Bones set out on an unholy mission to recruit legions of Seagulls for his nefarious plans.  The bread chunks flew, the wings flapped and soon he had dozens of these monsters in his thrall.  A mad cacaphony ensued with the gulls shrieking and Bones, his arms raised to his new subjects, cackling "ME!, Me me me!, ME!." It was not a pretty sight and a shiver ran down my spine when he began referring to them using names we recognized - "dannye, halspal, up and away! Mwuhahahahahaha!"  The damned things followed us around the whole rest of the day too.

After lunch we needed to make some tracks, so we lashed the deck chairs down tight and ramped up to warp speed for the run down Vineyard Sound to Cuttyhunk Island.  The Sound was in the lee of the north winds and the water was smooth and glowing in the afternoon sunlight.  Sweetness.

South Swell is a planing hull which means that at a certain speed she'll hop out of the ditch that a boat makes as you push it through the water and 'get up on a plane.'  When that happens, half to two thirds of the hull comes out of the water, there's a burst of acceleration, and you suddenly feel as though you are flying.  I brought South Swell up on a plane as we rounded the southern edge of the island and used the lines of lobster trap buoys as a giant slalom course as we rocketed towards the west.

The Battle of Falmouth

I turned the wheel over to the Mate as we slowed down to explore Tarpaulin Cove.  There's a lighthouse on the point, and the caretaker's farmhouse along the western shore.  This was the site of the tavern where, in 1779, the innkeeper overheard British soldiers discussing their plans to raid the town of Falmouth for supplies and conscripts the next day.  He dispatched his son, John Slocum to ride the length of the island at night, row a skiff across the unlighted and unmarked Woods Hole Passage, then acquire another horse and alert Colonel Joseph Dimmick, the leader of the Falmouth Militia of the upcoming attack.  When the Brits arrived the next day, the militia was ready for them and the plan was foiled.  In an apparent fit of pique, the British ships lobbed a few cannon balls all the way into the town center prior to their departure, one of which is still lodged in the wall of a restaurant off Main Street. The Battle of Falmouth is a classic piece of local lore.  

Headed for the barn

After touring the Cove, we ramped back up to speed and followed the coastline all the way to Cuttyhunk Island.  Plenty of words have already been written about the many scenic and historical treasures of Cuttyhunk.  I suppose you could summarize them all by noting that, back in 1602, after exploring the entirety of Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and the rest of the Elizabethan Islands, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold chose Cuttyhunk for his first attempt at a permanent settlement.  The place has a unique magnetism.

We threaded our way through the narrow and rocky Canapitsit Channel and took a quick tour of Cuttyhunk Harbor before heading home again.  I love the languor that always seems to descend on a boat once it heads for home.  I let the Mate take the wheel, with a stern admonition not to hit anything, then I wandered back to the stern to watch as our wake expanded hypnotically across the horizon.  None of us felt the need to talk, stunned by the moment I reckon.

Tomorrow we PARTY!


***Oh my god I can't believe this is happening it's Friday I think Jesus Christ why?***

It was Friday. Usually Friday is a good day, the beginning of the weekend. In this case however it wasn't good because our next weekend obviously wasn't going to be until next weekend. This trip was dragging serious and the commute from our hotel in Boston wasn't going make things any easier. The entire coast seems to be socked in with RV's driven by sunburned retards trying to find where their parents spawned. Every twenty minutes my IQ attempts to swerve the car into a tree or a family. Fuck it and this.

We show up at Bill's house as agreed. 10:30am. As soon as we step inside we feel the trap spring: looks like his kids are coming. A cursory look around the place confirms there are only two of them. I hope it's a big boat at least, with private rooms and books or something to do.

It's not a big boat, though. We would probably all have to be in the same general area the whole time - within speaking distance - and be able to see each other pretty well. Bill named the boat 'South Swell', and I was all like "South Swell? Is that a reference to your pants!? Heh." (I was still pretty drunk after the drive in from Boston) and Bill was like "No."

Turns out south swell is a surfing or nautical term of some kind. I forgot that I said it after a little bit and I seemed more comfortable after that. His kids were laughing pretty hard though, for most of the day really. I think they really looked up to me after that, like a father figure - someone to emulate. They seemed pretty smart and a little blurry. I had been getting high a little bit after and previous to the drinking. It was really sunny and one of Bill's kids, the smaller one, finished fooling with the ropes and we finally left.

Dr. Berens had staked out the back left corner or the "starboard" corner, I guess, if you're looking at it from the front or "poop deck." Bill was constantly throwing around these code words for water driving now - even though yesterday he didn't even know what a sailboat was! He was probably on E2 all night looking this stuff up. What a joke. His boat even had "radar" he says! Even I know just from going to college after high school that boats have sonar, not radar. It's not that big a deal, but man, you know? Read a Tom Clancy book or something.

Looks like today's narrative is going to focus on a few wealthy and law abiding democrats that Bill's Conservative Brotherhood of Fear God Or Else group is rabidly jealous of. The smear campaign begins as Bill almost hits a sandbar and suddenly the nautical chart company in Hyannis Port has a Kennedy in the inkroom, nipping away at Freedom and Values.

For a Christian and a moral freedom of democracy lover Bill sure swears a lot.

The last part of the boat ride was faster, so we all pretended we couldn't hear or talk and just squinted silently into the burning orb of heat that was slowly ruining us. It was really hot and terrible but the thing had to run out of gas eventually so we just sweated and counted the seconds.


(whatever - at least I posted it as a daylog.)

A Third Point of View

I’m the so–called "First Mate" in GrouchyOldMan’s daylog, of June 11, 2004, and "the smaller one" of the kids in dem bones’ daylog, of the same day. I resent being call smaller by someone shorter than I am. The younger one, would have been a better description Bones. Anyways, I’m here to tell you the REAL story about today, I can correct many of the plentiful errors in both of the egotistical maniacs’ stories. No offense to either of them, but to put it plainly, they are both full of it.

My Dad’s Story

First of all, we were winging it, there wasn't any grand plan. We just said, "hey, our boat can go 45 knots, we can go wherever the hell we want"· Second, I don’t know what he is talking about with the "Black Box Theory." I never heard nor used that…"term", and it is sort of disconcerting to think that there is a big black box inside my head.· Thirdly, I’m not sure about the truth in the history lesson in his daylog, So just be wary about what he tells you about Tarpaulin Cove, The Battle of Falmouth, or Naushon and the Forbes Family. I mean he isn’t even considered a local yet.  You have to have lived here about twenty to thirty years, and have the right connections, to become a "local." 

There are a couple of true facts about his story though. First, I do love to drive Sleuth sometimes even better than driving South Swell. Second, Bones did cackle somewhat during his recruiting of demon-seagulls. Third, I did drive South Swell around in Tarpaulin Cove and on the way back to Great Harbor. It WAS fun!

Mr. Bones’ Story

Again there are a few errors with this man’s story, and some that especially relate to me, which again I say that I resent.

First, there was no lewd comment about the relation of our boat’s name to my dad’s pants, nor did I laugh at it, I’m not laughing at it even now, because I don’t even get it.· Second, I hate to break it to you Bones, although you may have been treated as an equal, in status if not in height, you weren't a fatherly figure on this trip.  Thirdly, We do have a radar on the boat, since radar shows you things ABOVE water, and sonar shows you things BELOW water. Read an Encyclopedia or something.

Respectfully Yours,

The Mate

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