The Booze Locust

They were in the neighborhood, drinking wine at a local Heuriger, a wine tavern, really good wine they said, and since they were in the neighborhood they thought they’d drop by and ask when the rowing club Heuriger was.

It was last weekend, we said, but come in and chat for a while.

Oh, we couldn’t, they said. They apologized for bothering us. Just for a minute. Then they have to run.

Would you like something to drink? Some wine? Glass of water? Juice?

I’d like some of your good single malt, if I may be so bold, she said. He had some wine, but mostly mineral water, since he was driving.

In a generous mood, I fetched a liter bottle of my second-best single malt from the library. It was two-thirds full. The best single malt, my vat-strength Macallan’s is locked away. This was still good stuff, Macallan Elegancia.

I got two Riedel single malt glasses.

We sat and chatted about various things. I couldn’t get over how fast our guest was putting away her whisky. It was impressive. After a while, I felt like saying, why don’t we just insert a valve into your side and pour it straight into your liver?

I had to go pick up Beta at her summer job so I didn’t drink but a glass at the start. When I got home with her, our guests, especially the one drinking whisky, were more cheerful than they had been when I left, which is the way it’s supposed to be I guess.

I heard somewhere that with English men, you can see in the faces of grown men how they looked as boys, and with the French, you can see in the faces of little boys what they’ll look like when they grow up.

As we sat there and talked, and poured (for a drink or two I had matched our guest, but lost the desire and began giving her full refills, and taking symbolic ones myself) I noticed I could see clearly how handsome and how pretty our guests had been before they entered middle age and got heavy and so on.

It is one of my favorite super powers, being able to look at people and see how beautiful they are.

Our whisky drinking guest stopped making sense with about two inches of whisky left in the bottle. Beta was, by this time, also tasting a bit of the Macallan, just half an inch in a glass. Gamma sniffed it and wrinkled her nose and asked how we could drink it. Both girls, though, were mainly observing the woman beside me. They found it both interesting, in a slightly clinical way, a slightly anthropological way, and entertaining in a we don’t usually get to see this stuff way.

Alpha sometimes had to remind me to refill our guest’s glass; sometimes it was empty so fast I didn’t notice right away.

I was getting slapped on the back a lot and that sort of thing, to which I usually said something like, “heh, yeah, hm”.

She declared she wasn’t leaving until the bottle was finished. I thought she was kidding but she wasn’t. I poured her a big glass. She asked me if I were trying to get rid of her. Well, I thought. No, no, of course not, I said. We’re all having a great time, I said.

I half expected her to sit on my lap at some point, but she didn’t.

When I was a kid, a friend’s mom went crazy and climbed my uncle’s pear tree and threw pears at him when he asked her to get out.

They left after several hours of fun, our guests. The husband was fairly sober, having drunk mainly water the whole time. They marched their beautiful selves out to their car and drove off into the night. Come back soon, we said.

Guest post, Mig’s turtle #4

The Secret of All Things
Look into her eyes with your patented special look and she, it’s as if she were tired and staring at a generic work of art in an airport waiting room two hours into a five hour layover. Surrounded by cranky babies.
Or, you try to strike up a conversation with someone and you’re so hoarse with trepidation they keep saying, What? What?
Or they’re mobbing you at work.
Or you go into a bookstore, killing time, getting out of the rain, and you start opening books, looking inside, looking for a book the reading of which will cure you of being an asshole. You remember the feeling, you used to get it all the time when you were younger, but none of these books give you that feeling. They hang limply from the shelves, like Dali clocks.
Or you beg someone to do something important and they keep saying, No. No.
Or your habitat is getting boring, or confining, or you can smell a potential mate around the corner and you want out but it’s escape-proof.
The secret is this: there are three things you must do – try, and try, and try.
Don’t stop trying, ever.
There’s no hurry, not necessarily.
It’s not about doing it fast, it’s about doing it.
You must know what you want. Once you know this, you do it. That is the secret of all things.
Say you want out but they have placed an empty planter to block the only exit.
It is unclimbable. It is over your head. And if you were to climb over, you’d fall inside and be stuck again, only worse.
So here is what you do: you fucking climb over anyway.
Think Steve McQueen bouncing that ball, baby.
Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.
You scale the outside of the planter a hundred times, and fall back down a hundred times. They laugh at the persistent turtle.
Tortoise, assholes, you think. Persistent tortoise.
Then, one day, they find you inside the planter. They pick you up and put you back into your habitat.
Some might think, All for nothing. But not you. That is part of the secret.
They find you inside the planter a few more times. Every time, they gently pick you up and put you back into your high-security flowerbed.
Until one day. The day you finally taste freedom. Because you never give up climbing. It’s beyond hope, beyond persistence. You just know what you want to do, and you do it.
Climb over the planter. Maybe you fall in, but you climb back out on the hundredth try, or the thousandth. And you’re free! You are outside!
Or, you would be, if they hadn’t plugged the hole under the fence with the concrete pig. Goddamn it.
But, in principle, the secret always works.

You can always talk to dad

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Originally posted Feb. 2004

Superspy: Evco Report Part III – The Search for the Czar’s Testicles

This is how the day went, from my vantage point in my secret vast limestone cave hideout; I also wandered around a bit between some of the stations of the hunt (there were a total of ten). I encourage any other Evco participants to post their observations in the comments to this entry. I am minimizing mention of other participants because I of course want to hog credit for this
production, and also for reasons of privacy – maybe someone doesn’t want to be mentioned by name in a public forum like this. Again, if you do, you’re encouraged to comment.

Including myself, there were about ten Evco conspirators and associates involved in providing logistical support to the scavenger hunt on site in Vienna throughout the day. Beta and her friends, how many of them were there… seven, I think, on the day of the hunt.

1. The kids met at the first station, a certain university library, at 9.15 AM. There they went to the information desk and asked for a certain gentleman, Dr. Cosma, who was summoned and arrived in the form of Evco conspirator H. wearing a white lab coat, I believe dark glasses? and an odd accent. He took a couple of the kids into the library archives, which I had inspected beforehand and can testify were suitably dark and scary, with steel grate floors between the bookshelves enabling one to see three floors down. H.P. had selected a perfect starting place. The kids had found the reference number of a book in their online search, and looked for it on the shelves. H. had however made it more difficult for them by selecting a book at random that was too large to fit on the shelves and was stored in a secondary location elsewhere in the archives. So after the frustration of not finding the book where it should have been, they finally got it and found a postcard of St. Stephen’s cathedral inside, and a key to a locker.

The locker contained several red herrings, I believe, including a tin can of herring in tomato sauce. Dr. Cosma also gave the kids a brightly colored rucksack; the kids argued the rest of the day over whether it was neon green or neon yellow – it was in any case visible at a distance, making it easier to see them before they saw us (I thought) and for strangers to recognize them. The pack also contained

Superspy: Evco Report Part III II

This is all very complicated and I am in a rambling mood inconducive to concise portrayal of complicated structures. In this part I will try to list a few parameters:

  • Company name: Evco Group

  • Company website URL:
  • Company focus: 3vil 1nternational c0nspiracy
  • Company project: Scavenger hunt

Project parameters:

  • Location: Vienna, Austria

  • Duration: 8 hours on 15 July 2006
  • Project theme: evil international conspiracy involving mass-hypnotic object(s)
  • Planning start: April 2006
  • Targets: Half-dozen or so very bright teenagers
  • Staff: Nearly two dozen participants, conspirators and contributors world-wide, half of which were heavily involved
  • Name of project: “The Czar’s Testicles”

Motivation: Combination of two ideas: a love of treasure-hunts, which I have put on for my daughters before, on a much more modest scale, and the idea that if one could only harness the vast creativity out there, around the world, then one could do something fun. And it worked.

Backstory: The idea of the hunt was to find the Czar’s testicles while avoiding Czarist assassins. The Czar’s testicles were objects that enabled the holder to hypnotically influence masses of people. Conspirators came up with a narrative involving a sort of good guy who had hidden the objects from bad guys, who wanted them, in 1918. The guy eventually disappeared, his son took over, then his grandson, and now his great-grand-daughter. The same bad guys – neo-Czarists – were still after them, as well as some new ones.

Execution: Two phases. Phase one: online, started a week prior to the hunt proper. Beta given clue in real life, at work, wends way through internet sites, blogs, and a wonderful chatbot written by D that provide clues, background information and code-solving practice (while receiving cryptic and/or creepy postcards from around the world; note: target’s mother not entirely happy dad gave out daughter’s home and work addresses to weird strangers, so maybe it was a good idea the hysterical Russian lady screaming things in Russian hysterically mobile phone calls didn’t pan out). Phase two: the hunt. By solving the online codes etc., kids participating knew where and when to meet on the 15th. They visited about ten locations throughout Vienna, in all.

Feedback: Staff seemed to have a lot of fun. One of the targets said it was the most fun he’d ever had. Beta also approved. We all got together for food and drink at a pub after the hunt, and the kids were interviewed by Evco staff, but I haven’t seen the film yet. The project seemed like a success to me, though. I want to do this for a living.

Tomorrow: Play-by-play description of the actual scavenger hunt, during which I get a serious sunburn, discover my limitations as a superspy and depend upon the kindness of strangers.

Official T-Shirt: Designed by Bauke, produced by TH. Available here.