I don't know about you, but if I encounter one more horror writer (in most cases, this would be a new writer) who prefaces his or her name with:

or some-such other b.s. handle designed to draw attention to the writer rather than the work, I'm going to climb a tower with a rifle, I swear it.

(Wouldn't it be interesting to have someone call themselves "The Nice Guy Of Horror" or "The Courteous Queen Of Terror" or "The Really Swell Dude of Dark Fiction"? I'd actually remember that, and would probably seek out their work to read just because they were clever enough to do it.)

Sometimes -- dash, repeat, italicize -- sometimes these monikers are created not by the writers themselves, but, rather, by reviewers.

The most recent case of a writer who's employed a moniker he or she didn't create her- or himself is that of John Paul Allen, one helluva nice guy and author of the novel Gifted Trust. A reviewer for that novel dubbed Allen "...the father of nightmares."

An interviewer who read that review used the phrase to introduce Allen, so it comes as no suprise that Allen has used that phrase in publicity releases -- and why the hell shouldn't he? It's an eye-catching, memorable phrase that is going to go a long way in helping potential readers remember his name. He didn't come up with it and decide to label himself, and any writer who's handed an unsolicited blurb like that is a fool not to get as much mileage as he can out of it. Yes, writing a strong novel is damned important, but once the work is published, it all boils down to bidness and marketing, and anything that draws attention to your work can and should be used to your advantage. So, good for John Paul.


I have come across (or been introduced to, unsolicited) a number of writers who, both on-line and at conventions, assume a "persona" not only for the benefit of their readers (assuming they actually have any, as they claim), but for that of other writers and editors, as well.

When asked why they insist on assuming these personae, every last one of them (at least, to whom I have spoken) have answered with something like: "Because I want readers/editors/other writers to remember me. It's a way of making a strong impression."

On the surface, it might be seem like a good answer, but it reminds me of a snippet from a Bill Cosby routine wherein two guys are talking about cocaine usage; the first guy asks the second one, "What's the attraction?", and the second guys answers, "Well, cocaine intensifies your personality." To which the first guy responds: "Yes, but what if you're an asshole?"

If you focus the majority of your energy on perfecting a "persona" so that other writers/readers/editors/artists will remember you, then I guaran-flippin'-tee you that you'll succeed; they'll remember you.

But ask them to name a piece of your work and see what happens; you could probably hear a gnat fart in the silence that will follow. Which is precisely what you'll merit; if you choose to make it all about you rather than the work, then you richly deserve the disdain and/or obscurity that is coming your way.

I can say this without fear of reprisal because I do not have a persona; I barely have a personality. Trust me on this.

I'm constantly falling to a weight below normal for my height. It doesn't look nice. Not sexy. I eat when I'm hungry, but this is admittedly not very often - particularly when I'm reading a good book.

I've often said to myself, 'Okay. I will now fatten myself up by being as unhealthy as humanly possible!' Sounds fun, right? Beer! Coke! Oatmeal Creme Pies! Eggs, French toast, sausage. WHOLE MILK. Chips, custard, cheeseburgers, Ding Dongs, frozen burritos. A smorgasbord of grossness.

It serves to think this might be heaven, for the universal method of dealing with depression is to curl up on the couch with a bucket of ice cream. Junk food is comfort, as it goes, and visions of being 'forced' to eat brussel sprouts in childhood are case enough to be terrified of vegetables. Who would eat spinach when presented with a Klondike bar?

Imagine my amazement when I discovered the difficulty in continuing such a diet. Depression's relation to junk food, I soon found, is reciprocal: chips might be my closest comfort, but they were more likely to irritate my stomach than render me satisfyingly full. French toast at any hour of the day stuffs my stomach with syrup and makes me gag. The more soda I drink, the crappier my teeth feel. And Ding Dongs are just gross.

I experimented with a junk food diet again this week, apparently having forgotten what havoc it wreaks on my mood. I've been living on cheese and Hot Pockets. On the way home from work yesterday I stopped by the grocery and bought a six pack of beer and a bag of Doritos. I was feeling exhausted and lazy and figured it would feel good to pig out.

Blech. I repeat: blech.

I tried, really I did, but I spent the whole night wondering why I wanted to sink into the sheets of my bed like a disgusting blob. Today I drove home from an appointment wanting to douse myself with Welch's grape juice. You know it's bad when you start craving canned fruit. I would die for a mandarin orange, I thought. Just a fucking orange.

When I got home I ate a gigantic bowl of lima beans.

Fuck it, I thought. They're cheaper than Hot Pockets.

You got me. I've been cursing you for nigh on 7 years now, ever since I became disgusted with the inane, evangelistic, do-what-feels-good Christianity I was a part of. I've denied you existed. I've decided that if you did exist, you were in opposition to me. I've mocked you, berated you, harassed your followers and just generally behaved like the snottiest little bastard imaginable.

I've studied other religions for 5 of those years, desperately searching for something to fill the void in my soul. I've glimpsed the cold clarity of Nirvana. I've examined the ancient covenant with JHVH. I've even dabbled in the veneration of Moist Mother Earth, the stars, and the command of geometric reality. I've continued to hunger.

You, however, have never left me the Hell alone. You've continued to prod my heart, even at its coldest. You've sent me longings, desires, and prophetic dreams. You've plagued my waking hours with deja vu, so that I might never forget who the architect of my future really is.

There's a point where a rational man has to take his fingers out of his ears, stop singing "LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" and acknowledge the One speaking to him.

Here am I.

Well, tomorrow's the day. The big three-one. Past thirty and officially headed down the treacherous path to Forty. More gray hairs, I suppose. And sometime between now and Forty I will quit smoking. Will I have kids? Will I ever get married? Will I ever earn the right to call myself an author? Will I be able to afford health insurance and a house? Will I ever crack 150 lbs.?

Ten years ago I was asking myself if I'd ever own the car of my dreams. If I'd ever be famous. If I'd ever make it through to college. If I'd ever bag that hot chick who haunts my dreams, Salma Hayek. If I'd ever fall in love (and get married and have kids). If I'd ever find contentment. Or if I'd die before realizing all those dreams.

My, how things have changed. Good Lord, how my self-doubts have shifted. Dear God, how did I get here (aside from that whole birds-and-the-bees thing)? Holy shit, how did my expectations drop so abysmally low?!?

Tomorrow, if I do indeed get the chance to sit down with my family for a while, I think I'll ask my mom what she knows about me that I haven't been clued in on yet. Moms are good at that kinda thing, I hear. I think my heart can stand it now. Better do it now, before my heart-attack years get into full swing.

Tomorrow I start a new decade on this planet and I find myself concerned with... no, don't say it. Please don't say it! Dammit.


Why couldn't I have been Han Solo instead? There were never any high-stakes adventures in my past, but I somehow feel that I've let them slip by me when I wasn't looking, like they could have been there if only I'd paid attention. I look down at my feet and see leg hair, toe nails which need to be clipped, scars on my knees and my wasted youth, writhing on the floor, gasping for air and promising vengeance at Forty.

That's gotta count for something when your Young Self plots revenge for a wasted life, right? Egad. This is how a mid-life crisis begins, isn't it?

I hope to one day earn the right to say, with all sincerity, "I'm too old for this shit."

Excuse me...

I just went thru the 1st phase of a physically painful period.

very painful

And as usual, I learned something.
I was reminded once again how quickly things can change;
in the blink of an eye...
How we take for granted, everyday garden variety blessings.


...What a concept...It's nice to put things in perspective and walk a mile in somebody else's shoes. Nice to realize how blessed we are...most of the time anyhow.

Can't work for a while and enjoying every minute of it. I was born to retire, yet I still have 18 months, 25 days, and several hours before that can happen..but hey, who's counting? But I thoroughly enjoy not working. I've been working way too long. Not working is a pleasure, pure and simple, but there are easier, softer ways to get here.

And last but not least, In order to speed along my recovery, I've been asked to do the following:

Absolutely Nothing

About to retire,I need the practice.

The hardest part of having pets is always the one that slips your mind completely. Completely, that is, until you find yourself one day on the phone with a veterinarian and you realize that she is dancing around telling you something.

That's when it all comes back.

I took one of my ferrets into the animal hospital last Sunday, because he was looking a little dazed and had started vomiting, occasionally, although his appetite was undiminished. Plus, he was feeling a little thin about the ribs, given how chubby he is around the tum.

They did X-Rays. They asked for (and received) permission to do ultrasound. They drew blood. They discovered that there was a large mass in his body cavity, the size of a lemon (if you have ever held a ferret, you'll understand the inordinate size we're talking). The next day, they asked for permission to do exploratory surgery when the ferret expert returned.

There are always factors to consider. I asked two questions: "What is his prognosis for this procedure? Will it improve his quality of life?" Answers: He was in quite chipper shape for someone with a mass that size, so prognosis was excellent; and two, if nothing else, the removal of that large a mass would make eating easier. I gave consent.


I receive a call at work from my now-familiar vet at Angell Memorial animal hospital. She tells me that the surgery is complete, and my beloved Slinky is recovering quickly - apparently he came out of anaesthesia hungry, which was a good sign. However, they not only removed the cyst] they'd seen on ultrasound (which turned out to be attached to his liver) but another growth from his spleen, and has discovered that one of his adrenal glands had begun to grow explosively, so they removed what of it they could. Then they biopsied everything in sight, closed him up and fed him yummies.

I know where this one is going, but she tells me it will take three days for the biopsy. In the meantime, she would like to see how Slinky does at home - since he's eating, we both think he'll be happier in his own digs. So that evening, I head over to the hospital clutching my checkbook and guiltily thinking about the estimated $388 that they had quoted me - before the surgery. I'm quailing slightly at the prospect, but I feel strangely happy, as well. I have been asked to make a sacrifice of unknown size for the happiness and well-being of my pet, and I have done so, without shirking.

The lady behind the desk exclaims that Slinky is "...such a wonderful ferret! He played with all of us, even after surgery!" I am happy to hear this. Slink has always been a ladies' weasel. She hands me the bill.

Two thousand, six hundred and forty dollars and yada cents.


For once in my life, I have the money. I had other plans for it, of course, but that's not relevant, and I manage to write the check without even breaking my smile - and it feels good, partially, in that same strange way, as I hand it to her.

They bring Slink out in his carrier. Poor little man, his belly is shaven and there is a massive incision from his breastbone to his navel. Ferrets pick at sutures, so the standard practice is to suture up his muscle layer and lower epidermis, and then use tissue glue on the surface. This makes the incision remarkably clean-looking, despite its angry red-and-purple coloration. I take Slink out of the carrier, and he immediately climbs up my arm to lick my nose, poor guy. He seems quite relieved to see me, and I am guilty again as I think about him sitting in a cage here at the hospital for days, wondering what he did wrong.

Many of my neighbors on the benches waiting are entranced by the little bugger (it's his gift) and he nuzzles two small girls, their mother, a craggy-looking Boston Irish construction worker who confides that he had two growing up, and the Burmese Mountain Dog waiting with the elderly lady at the end of the bench. Ferret and dog sniff noses, and both wag tails. Hoping that doesn't mean the pooch thinks Slinky smells yummy, I decide not to risk it, and extract the popular little marmot from his public to take him home.

He is quite chipper that night, eating lustily before heading up to his hammock for a deep snooze. Of course, that is when I need to administer the five different medications. They've given me oral syringes for each, and suspecting trouble, I preload all five and coat them with ferretone, laying them out on the kitchen counter, before going to excavate the furet du jour from his bed.

He yawns as we reach the kitchen, and being the devious bastard that I am, I use this opportunity to squirt the prednisone into his throat. He coughs explosively, looks at me in disbelief, and promptly begins spitting it back up. I grab his li'l cheeks and clamp his mouth shut.

Grand pause. Perhaps ten seconds of eye to eye.

He swallows, grudgingly. Flush in my triumph, I reach for the second syringe, and Slinky decides that's quite enough, thank you. The struggle that occurs then is complicated by several factors:

  • I obviously don't want to hurt the little stretchrat, or strain his wound.
  • He has no such compunction about hurting me.
  • We're in the kitchen, which isn't ferretproofed, so I can't let him go or risk losing him, say, under the stove, which besides being a nasty place I'd rather he not rub his stomach, might have holes into walls or floor.
  • The cats think this whole thing is uproarious, and have moved into close positions to watch the two of us battle it out. Their amused mrow?s sound suspiciously like wagering.

I make a tactical retreat, and offer Ferretone. He laps it up for a second, looks at me, and stuffs his pointy face into the espresso cup I have the stuff in. While he can't see, I grab syringe number two, and when he comes up for air I zap it into the left side of his lip-smackin' little gob. Then grab his nose as he shudders and tries to scramble out of the cup and the kitchen. A brief moment of will passes between us before he swallows, and I release my grip -

...at which point, the little faker opens his jaws and shakes his head like a dog, spraying Meloxicam all over the both of us before stopping, licking his chops with a pleased expression, and turning in my hand (I have him by the scruff at this point, hanging) to look me placidly in the eye.

I give up after three, and put him back in his room. He runs for the water bottle, then burrows in for nap. The strength of his fight encourages me.


The now-familiar phone call hits my cell in the afternoon while I'm at work. Dr. Clayton is avoiding something, I know (this is where you came in, earlier). Finally, she explains that Slinky has lymphoma. It may not even be clinical yet, because they found it by chance when they were biopsying anything that looked like an organ and the lymph node was nailed. So it's early. I ask her what her prognosis is, and there's a small silence before she answers.

"Most ferrets with lymphoma we see last perhaps four or five months at the outside, without successful treatment."

"What are my options for treatment?"

"Well, we have a new chemotherapy regimen we just got from Tufts. We think it's a big improvement because rather than require intravenous medications, we only have to give them either subcutaneous or orally once a week - a tech can do it - so he doesn't have to stay over in the hospital each time."

"What's the stats?"

"We've done it for around twenty ferrets. Four had complete remission eighteen months later. Five saw the lymphoma return around that time period. The rest progressed as they would have wthout treatment, or got at most a couple of extra months. Whether you want to do this of course is up to you; we have the luxury, with animals..."

"Not really, do we, Doctor?"

"No." She is quiet a moment, respectfully.

"Doctor," I ask, "I just need to know this. Will this improve his chances and quality of life? And will it do it without making him miserable? Chemotherapy isn't fun, and...how long is this course of treatment?"

"Twenty-seven weeks."

"So six months of chemo with a probability of around .5 it won't make a difference?"


"Okay. And am I correct in assuming lymphoma is terminal but wasting, and not painful?"

"Yes; he'd just get weaker until his blood chemistry crashed, but we'd have lots of warning of that, and we could make him comfortable then until we'd need to put him to sleep."

"Right. So he has that six-months-of-drugs-for-maybe, versus three to four months of happy fun ferret frolicking before he gets weak."

"That's about right. Of course, some live longer, some shorter - but you have the idea."

I think it over for about ten seconds. "Lee, I just want him to be happy."

"I know. You have a bit of time, anyhow."

"How so?"

"Well we wouldn't put him on chemo so close to his surgery; we'd give him a week to heal and rest. Also, if his blood counts go back to normal by the end of that week, we know we found the lymphoma early, which bodes well for the treatment's chances. If, however, his blood levels are still screwy in a week, well..." She doesn't need to finish.

"Okay. Thank you Doctor. You're back Tuesday? We'll give you a call and set up blood work for around then."

She thanks me, offers sympathy, and drops the call.

See, here's what it is. I don't have children, or a wife, or a significant other. I'm a fairly solitary bachelor. However, I have these two cats, and these two ferrets. By adopting them into my home, I have committed myself to all reasonable efforts to ensure their lives are happy, safe and rewarding, and that if this is no longer the case, to help them leave us here with dignity. Bank accounts are irrelevant (although they make the logistics easier). My own time and effort medicating and caring for him is his to claim simply by looking up at me; I owe him no less.

But, God damn it. Damn it. It hurts every time this happens, so much, and you feel what you only knew just before the phone call - that for each life we bring into the world, or preserve, we accept the binding of one death to us. Parents can hope to predecease their kids; hoping to predecease a small fuzzy pen thief with a li'l coon mask and silly face is not really practical thinking.

Slinky, I know now that we in all likelihood have a few months more left to us - perhaps less, if your liver is damaged too far, or the cancer has metastized. I hope that knowledge will make me bend down for that extra few minutes of silly before going to work, rather than rush out the door; that the minutes spent carefully feeding you Sustacal and yummies will be minutes I look forward to, because I can spend time with you rather than minutes I begrudge you.

In the end, it comes down to this course of events judging my character and my responses. Slinky wouldn't judge me even if he could, I like to think; and he has indeed led a spoiled life for a ferret! Whatever happens these next few weeks, though, I hope I can stay true to the most important questions:

  • Will it make him more comfortable?
  • Will it prolong his life in a way that gives him more happiness rather than more pain?
  • Will he feel anything?

Slinky, thank you right now for the four and a half years you've kept me company. I hope we have more to come. If not, I hope that the time we spend together won't all be tied up in forcing nasty meds down you. I hope we get a chance to wrestle on the couch; to chase the cats again, to go for a convertible ride in the mesh shoulder bag (ferrets instinctively stick their noses into the windstream and slit their eyes. They look incredibly streamlined.) I hope your sister doesn't pine for you if you have to leave us.

I love you.

Wow, my new computer came yesterday evening. I didn't really get a chance to set it up properly, so I was up till the wee hours installing various bits and pieces that came with it and watching DVDs.

It's ever so exciting finally having a computer of my own. I needed to get it for my university course (multimedia technology + design) that I will be starting in September (I currently use my parent's computer). I just couldn't get over the monitor, somehow I'd managed to blag a 19" flat-screen! Hopefully that'll be a little bit easier on the eyes when I'm writing up essay's late at night in my room. I'm gonna go get me a Tv Tuner Card today so I can have a Tv in my room again as well.

In an entirely different note, yesterday afternoon after work was fabulous. My scumbag friends rang me up about 2pm whilst they were in the pub (college students) so they could drink beer down the phone at me. This really didn't help my concentration at work, so by kicking off time I was gagging for a beer.

Charged down the off license on my skateboard and grabbed some Stella before heading down to the skatepark.

Perfect blue skies, cold beers, a bit of a skate around and some good mates. Absolutely fantastic. Bring on the summer!

An alternative theory on why we exist

If you read too many books and watch too many movies that fuck with your head, you eventually come up with some crazy thoughts. Some people come up with crazy thoughts on their own. But not me (*cough*). So anyway, I'm sitting on the train and my brain is full of chatter and it's coming up with a crazy thought. I'm thinking about space expanding and what is on the other side of expanding space - I mean, it's filling something isn't it? Well, no, there's nothing there - nothing is becoming something - a concept that can be quite difficult to wrap your noodles around (go ahead, consider it for a moment). So in the same train of thought (sic), I consider why we exist. To work out why we exist, you must consider why everything else that we know exists.

So let's look at what we know. Long ago, the universe shat itself and created a whole load of planets, stars, cosmic dust, a massive void called "space" and this thing called "time". We don't really know much about what's going on in the universe, unless it's on our planet. Our life forms are based on carbon and water and have evolved over millions of years. Ask yourself this, why did things start off? Why did the dinosaurs evolve? Why did monkeys evolve into homo sapiens?

One theory that I've been considering is that we part of a cosmic game. We're being tested. And maybe one day we'll be hunted. Suppose for a second, that time in our universe is different to that of another dimension. Millions of years could pass in an instant in another dimension. The first lifeforms on our planet could've been part of an alien grow bag. They cultured our world, they created the first life forms as experiments. Then came the dinosaurs. They were fun - great big strong beasts running around all over the place. Sure, not all of them were small, but the big ones had to eat and this was one of the first alien experiments into natural selection. They modelled dinosaur brains on their own brains but made them too stupid - hunting those guys was fun, but it wasn't a challenge. After a couple of million years, the aliens got fed up with them and wiped them all out. Then they started an ice age to start over again.

With the planet "cleansed", they started again. This time they created creatures with brains more similar to their own - except with a genetic defect that prevented them using the full capacity of their brain. This would prevent them becoming too smart, too quickly - allowing them to develop gradually. Ever wondered why only monkeys got smart? We were always supposed to. Our brains were engineered to get smarter. Other creatures, are, unfortunately, food for us, or food for our food. Watching humans develop was an experience - the language, the cultures, the education, their physiology, the destructive wars, their need to destory, and inevitably, kill. Every so often, they'd swipe a couple of samples and see how they were developing.

We'll keep developing, we'll keep making discoveries. Unravelling DNA, unleashing the full capacity of our brain, all of us becoming Newtons and Einsteins! Imagine the posibilities!

One year clean today. Feels pretty good.

I don't have much more to say about it than that. The story of five years mostly lost to drug addiction, then one year pulling myself out, is at once too enormous in personal significance and too banal in detail for me to recount at this stage. I also can't really describe it without self-pity, which I don't think you all want to read.

But there is hope. You can get out. It may even be better.


I just returned from my blood donation appointment, and I feel guilty. That's not the way it's supposed to work.

When I first starting donating regularly, I was a "whole blood" donor. This means that they stick the needle in your arm, open the spigot, and a pint dumps into the bag. Later in the lab, they usually separate out the plasma, and use the red blood cells and the plasma individually where they're most needed.

Eventually, I asked what was happening with the people who were hooked up to a small machine while they donated. Turns out they were engaged in R1 apheresis. In this process, the blood is pumped out of your arm, and the machine centrifuges it to separate the plasma and red cells right before your eyes. Because about double the volume is taken compared to a whole blood donation, the machine also pumps some saline solution back into your arm to make up for it. The return cycle can feel pretty weird; partly because the saline is at room temperature, which feels nice on the outside, but when you suddenly have a twenty degree difference inside your arm it's a lot different than just being outside on a cool day. Even though more product is taken from you, you can still make an R1 donation just as often as a whole donation (every 56 days).

So I switched to R1, and that became my standard donation. Obviously, I felt better that my decision to donate was helping even more people.

Each time I donated, I wondered what was happening in the back room. People were lying there with tubes in their arms, just as we were, usually covered with heavy blankets and watching a movie or television. And during my 15 minutes giving whole blood, or a half hour spent in R1, I never saw them get up and leave. One day, there was a poster on the wall that said "Platelet donors needed!" I asked what that was about. Turns out, that back room was the plateletpheresis room. Plateletpheresis is like R1, but more so. It takes about two hours; there are eight or more draw/return cycles compared to two in R1 (I think). Not only is saline being returned to you, but some of your own blood components are returned, as well as an anti-coagulant compound (needed because your blood wants to coagulate after having been out of your body, and if it coagulated after being returned to your circulatory system — well, that would be bad). So after the two hours, they have a bag of plasma, and a bag of red cells, just as with R1, but they also have a (much smaller) bag of platelets. Platelets are a component of the blood which cause clotting; burn victims and people undergoing chemotherapy often have a great need for them.

So now I was a platelet donor. This was even better: I was giving most of the benefits of an R1 donation (most because fewer red cells are collected), plus more, and I could do it every four weeks instead of every eight. (Actually, the FDA rules say a platelet donation can be done every three days! But that's only done in real emergencies.)

Until last December. The blood bank used three different brands of plateletpheresis machines, which have different characteristics regarding how fast they draw, how much pressure they use returning, etc. Even though these variables are controllable by the nurse, some machines, like those from Baxter, generally go at higher rates than, e.g., the ones from Haemonetics. I was pretty much always a Haemonetics customer, though once they put me on the Kobe and once on the Baxter. I definitely liked the Haemonetics machines better, even though the process takes longer with them; they like the Baxters better, because they get more product from them. The Tri-Counties Blood Bank (Santa Barbara, California) was slowly becoming a Baxter-only shop. When I started they had two Haemonetics, one Kobe, and one Baxter. About last October, the Kobe disappeared and a Baxter took its place, then later one of the Haemonetics fell. And finally, in December, Baxter was all there was. My donation that day did not go well at all. The return cycle was very painful. The army of nurses around me decided that the situation was not salvageable. We discussed finishing with my other arm, and I agreed to that. Unfortunately, pretty much the same thing happened. They called a halt for the day, having obtained insufficient product for use, yet enough that (after much consultation with the regulation book) I had to wait the two months, because the procedure was aborted with a quantity of red cells that should have been returned to me.

I'm ashamed to say that that put me off donating until March. When I came back, it was for an R1 donation. I felt a bit guilty about "downgrading" my donation. Then eight weeks later (today), I went back for another one and had a problem with the R1 return cycle. I stuck it out until they had obtained a complete donation, then was thankful that the nurse offered to let me skip the last saline return.

And in another eight weeks, I'll be back and will downgrade once again, back to doing whole blood donation. I know it's silly to feel guilty about that. But I do :(

I just had my very last day of high school. It's quite a momentous occasion.

There's this tradition at my school that the night before the senior's final day, all the seniors get absolutely rip shit drunk at some party, and somehow stumble to a giant hill near the high school, at which point we set up tents, have outrageous amounts of sex, drink more, smoke some drugs and pass out. This year, one particulary daring group reenacted the Joint Subcommitee Meeting on the 50 Yard Line from Dazed and Confused.

Then, at 7:30 the next day, when the school bell rings, the seniors drunkenly run down the hill, along the soccer field, through the main courtyard and into each building, shouting and banging on doors and lockers and generally being ridiculous. During this, somebody usually manages to get hurt, or break something important. After this, we all meet in the main courtyard, where we chant our year number (i.e. 04! 04! 04! 04!) and then begrudgingly, we make our ways to our next classes, spending the day nostalgically reminiscing about days gone by and telling stories.

Finally, when school is over, we all go to the Senior parking lot, drive our cars to the outskirts of the lot, and do the chant again in the center of the lot. Then we go to somebody's house and get drunk again.

Regardless, let's just say it's been a damn good day.

An open letter to all website administrators who allow Flash advertisements which pop up in the middle of the page you are reading, over the text, frequently with close buttons both ludicrously obscure and requiring pixel-perfect clicks to close, instead of launching whatever website they're advertising in a new window and causing yet more annoyance

Please stop. You're making the children cry.

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