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If You See Graffiti Reading "FOR A GOOD TIME CALL:", follow this "Rule of the Road"...
The following contains a transcript from a short radio broadcast that has been picked up by various listeners across the continental United States. Many have been perplexed by its sudden appearance and how it seems to preempt whatever song or radio program they are listening to at the time. It has even been known to appear on streaming programs such as podcasts or Spotify. Listeners have described hearing different episodes and there have been many situations and incidents. A 23 year old college student named Yuvisela contacted me with her account of hearing the broadcast. She and her boyfriend had encountered the broadcast while driving one sultry summer afternoon from Austin, TX. So I have this thing with waterfalls. I’m a little obsessed with them. In my free time and when I’m not paying attention in lecture, I like to look on the internet at pictures of them and daydream that I’m there: the roar of the splashing water, the white foamy spray, my bare toes dipped into the icy spring. I’ve got a Pinterest page with hundreds of falls that I would like to visit one day. Niagara, Havasu, Victoria Falls, Gullfoss, Iguazu; they’re all on there. I keep them all catalogued for my bucket list. Yet, how many people go to the grave with their bucket list hardly finished? I bet a lot. My boyfriend, Gabriel, likes to mess with me about my obsession. He’ll come up behind me while I’m on my computer or look over my shoulder at my phone and see that I’m looking at waterfalls. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to,” he’ll sing when he catches me. It’s this old song he knows, TLC or something. He’s about six years older than me. I’ll joke with him to leave me alone and quit singing that old music, ask him if he used to listen to that on an 8-track or something. “No, my older sister listened to it on CD. You know CD’s? Those little plastic things with the holes in them? That little slot in your car’s stereo, a CD goes in there. They don’t make ‘em in the new cars anymore.” We’ve had a variation of this same conversation a bunch of times. It’s kind of a running joke between the two of us—him poking fun at my waterfall obsession and me making fun of how old he is—and while he thinks the waterfall thing is a cute little quirk of mine, he also has been supportive of my passion. That’s why he surprised me with the trip that summer. He knew that I was yearning to see some of these places. He knew that he wanted to make me happy. He knew that my resources were limited. He knew that we weren’t getting any younger; I was 23 and still had a semester to go. But he also knew that we weren’t getting any richer, either. At least not anytime soon. I know I’m a little bit older for a college student, but it’s taken me a bit longer on account of having to work and stuff. I can’t take a full load every semester. Money’s always tight. I work full time and barely stay ahead, even sending some of my money to help my mom out. Gabriel offered to help me out some and we’d even talked about moving in together, but we had only been together a year at that point and I wasn’t quite ready. Before my dad had passed, I’d promised him that I was going to get my college degree and I wanted to do it all on my own. While I loved Gabriel and could see myself marrying him, I didn’t want to deal with a transition like that so close to the finish line. Besides, we were getting along so well as it was. Why mess with a good thing? And it was a good thing that kept better. Just when I thought that I couldn’t love Gabriel more, on my birthday he surprised me with the best present I’ve ever gotten. It was a little black notebook with this kind of leathery cover. While the notebook itself was nice, it was what was inside that was the true present. At some point, he had gone onto my Pinterest page and written down page after page of waterfalls, organizing them by country and state. He had put little squares beside them, boxes to check off. The last two pages were Texas and Oklahoma. He had written a note there. It read:
“Let’s start now...” -Gabriel
* * * So far, the trip had been a blast. We had started out in Abilene where we both lived and where I attended college. From there, we went to a place called Gorman Falls at this state park. It was one of the tallest waterfalls in the state and all of the foliage and moss around it was lush and green and for a while, if I crossed my eyes just right it was like I wasn’t even in Texas. We couldn’t hit all the sites in a day. It was a road trip with multiple nights in hotels. After Gorman Falls and staying at a hotel, we headed towards Austin and stopped off at Hamilton Pool Preserve. The waterfall wasn’t as tall as Gorman, but I have to say I liked it better. The water formed a curtain as it poured off of a rocky shelf and into this sunken grotto of blue green water. We stayed at this magical place for hours, swimming in the water and soaking up the sun. I could’ve stayed longer, but it was starting to get crowded, so we headed to Austin for a night on the town on 6th Street. The next day we slept in and got a late start on the road. Lunch was at a Whataburger outside Waco. We sat and ate our food and looked at our phones. I browsed Instagram and my eyes skimmed over a gorgeous site. Yep, another waterfall. I slid my phone over to Gabriel. “Look!” I said. “Am I supposed to be looking at the butt or the waterfall?” he asked. An Instagram model was standing with her back to the camera, looking up at the water in awe. “The waterfall, silly.” “Seriously, that skinny white girl ain’t got nothing on you. Better let me take a look, just to be sure.” I stood and twirled around quickly, teasing him. “Ok, so back to the waterfall. Did you look at it?” “Yeah, it’s beautiful babe. Where was this one?” “Iceland,” I sighed. “Oh, right.” “It’s not looking good for the time being. Maybe in a few years, yeah?” “Just gotta see how the election goes. I ain’t holding my breath.” See, neither of us were U.S. citizens. We were what you call DACA recipients. Both of us had wound up in America via illegal means on behalf of our parents, back when we were kids. This was when we were too young to have any say in the matter. I can hardly remember my life before, my life back in Mexico. I grew up here, went to school here. Texas and America is the only home I’ve ever known. Gabriel, he was originally from Guatemala. His situation is more or less the same. If we were to leave the country, then we might risk not being able to get back in. You could apply for eligibility to travel if you had special circumstances, but they didn’t allow travel for leisure. We didn’t even have passports. Until then, our dreams of traveling—something we both wanted to do—were just that: dreams. There was a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Obama and that DREAM act, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You know, the dreamers or whatever? That’s what they call us. I guess they call it that because it’s just a freaking fantasy that disappears at the slightest thing—the sunrise, your phone alarm—out of your grasp as soon as you start your day. Anyways, I applied for the DREAM act, but it hasn’t been a guarantee. We’re all stuck in a sort of limbo, waiting for the people in Washington to figure out what the hell to do with us, using us as a bargaining chip. Not Gabriel though, he didn’t apply for the act. Part of it was that he was bad about procrastinating. The other part was that he was paranoid about signing up. I told him that he was an idiot and if he blew his chance to become a legal permanent resident, then I wouldn’t follow him to Guatemala if he got deported. He told me that he didn’t trust the program, that once they had you in the system they could track you easier, keep tabs on you. Said he knew a guy that got deported this way. I told him that the guy must’ve gotten into some legal trouble, a DUI or something, to have been deported. “We’re all just one slip up from some legal trouble. Hell, some people consider us illegal right now,” he had said. It was hard to argue against that, I guess. At least he knew where he stood, didn’t have that false hope. Sometimes I think it’s the hope that gets you, makes things worse. Gabriel frowned and handed the phone back to me, looked out the window and took a sip of his Coke. I suddenly felt bad and ungrateful. Here was this amazing man that had planned out an awesome road trip just for me and I was busy looking at other far off adventures, not appreciating what I had right in front of me, the moment I was living in right now. I leaned forward and kissed him. "I don't care where I'm at as long as you're with me," I said and he smiled. What I told him just then, it was true. That didn’t mean I was going to grow complacent and quit dreaming. They did call us dreamers after all. It was one of those giant truck stops, the kind that was a little smaller than a Wal-Mart or Target, but just barely. We filled up and paced around inside and looked at the aisles and aisles of candy, the funny toys and souvenirs, and the tacky t-shirts. “Hey Yuvi, whaddaya say? It’s your size.” Gabriel asked, holding up a black t-shirt with glittery letters. “PROUD TRUCKER WIFE” it read. “Only if you get that one,” I said, pointing at a T-shirt with a semi-truck on it that read “I JUST DROPPED A LOAD”. “Eww,” Gabriel said, laughing. We both wandered around on our own. They had a huge candy section and I was looking to see if they had any vero elotes candy. I had just found a bag on a bottom shelf when Gabriel came skipping up. “We are so getting this,” he said, holding up a plastic CD case. “What is it?” “Best of the ‘90s. It’s got your song on there, see? ‘Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls.’ Can we get it? It’s only 3.99.” “Ha, ok. But only if you buy me this,” I said, handing him the candy. There was traffic from hell just south of Denton on account of construction and a car wreck or two. We were stop-and-go for what seemed like an hour. I was passenger side and Gabriel idled along. “Ok. I think now’s the time to break out this bad boy,” Gabriel said as he started tearing at the plastic wrap around the CD case. “I think this is the first time I’ve even used the CD player in this car.” “Aw hell yeah,” Gabriel said as the first song started playing. “Gettin’ Jiggy With It.” “Getting what, now?” “It’s your boy, Will Smith. Y’know the Fresh Prince? Betcha didn’t know he had a little music career.” “That guy from I Am Legend and Aladdin?” Gabriel rolled his eyes. “I guess. His older work is much better.” “Well I don’t know. You act like you're this old and wise millennial. You’re not that much older than me, y’know.” “I’m telling ya, my Gen-X sister raised me on all of this stuff. I think she was Gen-X. I don’t know the damn cutoffs. Anyways, she babysat me a lot growing up while Mama was working and stuff. She cultured my little ass. Ooh, here it is!” A new song started playing. I couldn’t help but laugh at how it started. “It sounds like porn music!” “Nah, shhhh. Shhh.” Gabriel bobbed his head along to the beat. The chorus started to worm it’s way into my head. The song was ok, I guess. I still can’t really listen to it to this day. “You gotta listen to this dope rap coming up,” Gabriel said. There was the sound of hissing and popping, wet logs burning in a fire. Whispers intermingled with the sound effects. One of the voices rose above the others and said “Listen!” harshly in Spanish, you know, “Escuchen! Escuchen!”, several times. We both looked at each other with wide eyes. The traffic crept forward slowly and Gabriel kept his hands on the wheel and I kept mine in my lap and that’s when he started to talk. It was this happy sounding older guy, talking right there on my car’s speakers. Gooood afternoon folks, Buck Hensley here with a special rush hour edition of “The Rules of the Road”. Hope ya’ll are doing alright out there while you’re idling on the clogged arteries of America’s highways and byways, breathing in those delicious exhaust fumes. I know that good ol’ Mother Earth likes to take a big fat rip of that stuff from time to time, although as of late she seems to be getting quite a contact high from that delicious Co2 and starting to feel the effects just a little too much. And yet you all keep puff-puffing and passing, never slowing down. What with your jet planes and your driving and your travel and your neverending consumption and your cow farts and whatnot. All I’m saying is that you folks might wanna slow down a bit on that stuff, because I’ve seen the end results and all I can say is that they are hilarious. But I understand if you wanna keep on keeping on and having a good time. All I can say is smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Speaking of good times, that reminds me of today’s special “Rule of the Road”. You’re gonna want to listen to this one as it’s all about good times. Why that was Carla’s favorite sitcom for a spell there, “Good Times”. She’d watch reruns on into the night, the TV casting a pale glow that was kinda comforting across the bed, and I’d wake up to live studio laughter and her snoring softly beside me, the serene look of slumber on her face and the years I’d wasted. Gabriel and I both looked at eachother. He shrugged and reached for the stereo. I shooed his hand away. I wanted to listen to it. The voice continued. But I digress...well now, on to today’s “Rule of the Road”. If at any point during your journey you stop off for a pitstop or a potty break and you enter a public restroom to do your business, take note of the writing on the stalls. You might notice some graffiti that reads, “For a Good Time, Call” and then a phone number listed after it. If you do notice this, then take the number down for later use. Whenever you are in dire need of a good time, then give that number a call. Now before you go off with a bee in your bonnet and tell me how you ain’t gonna call no sketchy phone number taken off a lady’s or men’s room wall, let me just tell you that this will be worth it. You can trust me. When has old Bucky ever let ya down? I know what you’re gonna say next though, you’re gonna say, “Buck, I don’t ever call no numbers on my phone. I’m deathly afraid of voices on the other line. If I can’t text and send little emojis and the like, then forget it. If I can’t use an app to order Thai food or a pizza, then I go hungry that night. I haven’t even made an appointment to a doctor since I’ve lived with my parents. What if since we can’t see each other’s faces we start talking at the same time and we talk over each other and then say, ‘oops sorry, no you go ahead’ and then we both say it again at the same time and then we both start trying to talk again and then get stuck in some sort of infinite loop?” And to that I say, “fair enough.” Don’t use the phone. The consequences of not following this rule are a little less dire than previous rules you may have heard. If you don’t follow this rule then you will simply miss out on a good time. That’s it. But you wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, would ya? Welp. That’s all I’ve got on this fine late afternoon. May the wind be always at your back, your picnic basket full of snacks, and your cheese ever be pepper jack. Ya’ll stay sane out there. Stay symbiotic. Stay lonely. I'm Buck Hensley and these are "The Rules of the Road". The voice instantly stopped and the song returned playing. Gabriel had a dumbfounded look on his face. "What the hell?" he said and tried to rewind the CD. "Umm, was that part of the song? Maybe a different version?" "No way," he said and kept rewinding and playing the song over. The little skit that we heard never returned. “Weird,” I said. “Beats the heck out of me.” “Maybe the CD is haunted. That was pretty spooky, y’know? That voice telling us to listen.” “Maybe it was like a hidden track or something. They used to put those on CD’s back in the day. And this CD was pretty cheap and has all these songs on it. Could’ve been like a pirated deal.” We weren’t really scared by the broadcast or whatever it was, just more confused. It was only looking back that we saw the importance of what we had heard and how from there our path seemed to be led a certain way.. At the time it was just this weird little thing, a funny little mystery that was forgettable for the time being. We crept along for a while without incident, the traffic slowly gaining momentum. The music on the CD played on as usual and we heard no extra voices. The songs played like they were supposed to. Everything was fine. Of course, outside of Gainesville, it hit me. I had been trying to ignore it and power through until we stopped for the night, but I had the sudden urge to pee. All that slow traffic and iced tea and a bottle of water must’ve caught up with me. This was intense. Usually I could hold it pretty good, but I had to get Gabriel to stop at the first exit we saw. It was this gas station kind of off by itself and it was all dingy and old and faded and didn’t look the cleanest. Gabriel parked and my lower stomach and bladder ached as soon as I stood up and got out of the car. I burst into the place and made a beeline towards the restroom, over in the corner past the ATM and the glass fridges down a hall with burnt out fluorescent lights. They were singles that you could lock, one for men and one for women. The floor was sticky and paper towels piled out of a trash can and a strip of toilet paper floated in a pool of standing water. A condom dispensing machine was on the wall opposite the toilet. It wasn’t the worst public restroom I’d ever used and I didn’t have many options; I was literally about to piss myself. I would have to do the hover move over the toilet seat. No seat covers in a joint like this and I didn’t have time to prep it with toilet paper anything. So I was doing my business, my thighs burning from the squat, and kind of laughing to myself at the condom dispenser machine with its brands like the “FRENCH TICKLER” and that’s when I saw it, the graffiti written in Sharpie, right there on the vending machine. It said, “For A Good Time, Call 9xx-XXX-XXXX [Redacted]”. After I finished and had washed my hands, I snapped a pic of the graffiti. I figured Gabriel would get a kick out of it. “You’re supposed to call it. That’s the rule,” Gabriel said when I showed him. “I’m too nervous. You call. You heard it, too.” “Chicken.” “Yep.” “How many of those things do you even see? I’ve seen them all the time. I bet it’s just dudes pranking each other or fucking with their ex-girlfriends.” “Well I found it in the ladies room, so hopefully it wasn’t dudes.” “Okay, you enter it in your phone and I’ll dial. I’ll try to do a caller ID block or something. Let’s just see what happens.” “Are you sure?” “Eh come on. Maybe it’s fate.” The Texas travel center appeared on the southbound side of the interstate and we were soon crossing the Red River on into Oklahoma as I transcribed the numbers from the picture to the keypad on my dialer. A large casino came into view. It was ginormous with this sort of facade of all these famous buildings on its outside. I could see Big Ben and that Roman coliseum and all these other world architecture things. The casino just stretched on and on. “Aw, not again,” Gabriel said. I had just finished transposing the number into the phone. The crazy casino had distracted me. “What is it, babe?” “Another jam.” The traffic was veering into the right hand lane, but it was still moving at a decent clip, like 45 mph or something. After a mile of this, I could see a couple of highway patrol cars parked across the interstate, blocking both lanes of traffic. A state trooper stood out in the middle, waving a flashlight thing and directing traffic to take the exit. There was still about an hour of daylight left and you couldn’t even see the light. He was just using it as a baton. Somewhere off in the distance there was a thick wall of smoke filling the evening sky with this surreal haze. “Wonder what’s going on?” I asked. “Who knows? Grassfire, maybe.” We followed the other cars and trucks down the exit ramp. Some turned right, some turned left. “Right or left? Right or left?” Gabriel asked. There seemed to be more cars turning left. Maybe they knew something we didn’t. But then, we would be stuck behind them and it was getting dark and we were already behind schedule. I wanted to get the hell out of the car. “Um, right! Right,” I said, trying to pull up the GPS on my phone. It was lagging and my service had kicked over to 3G. “Freaking Verizon,” I muttered. We drove down a highway past empty fields fenced off by barbed wire. There were houses and barns and oilfield pump jacks every so often, but not much else. No gas stations or a sign of a town or much else, really. After driving into all this nothingness for a while, my phone completely lost all signal. The cars around us thinned out and there was only a black SUV in front of us. “Hey babe, I have no service and can’t pull up the GPS. Wanna turn back around?” “Nah, let’s just keep going. We’ve come this far, yeah? We’ll hit a main road eventually, get some service.” I sighed in response as he kept driving, let him know I didn’t approve. “We’ll turn north soon, ok? All roads lead to Turner Falls.” I checked my phone every fifteen seconds, looking for a signal. “C’mon Gabe, we’re gonna get lost out here. Let’s just go back, follow the other cars or see if they’ve opened up the interstate again.” “Look, this looks like a good road. We’ll cut north here and drive aways and then cut back west towards the interstate. It’s literally impossible to get lost out here. Just trying not to lose any more time.” But it wasn’t so simple and the nervous feeling in my stomach was validated when the road we drove north on turned to gravel. The sun was long gone and our headlights cut a tunnel through the night as barbed wire whizzed by, separating us from pastures that were elevated above the road on grassy rises. I started to fear the worst, thinking of every horror movie I’d ever seen that had started out this way: the headstrong man refusing to admit that he was lost and didn’t know where he was going and the increasingly pissed off and worried girl that was with him. “Babe, please just turn around,” I pleaded. “Ok, ok. Still no signal, eh?” I looked down at my phone. Finally, there was one bar of service. “Yes! Hang on.” “Oh fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck,” Gabriel said, his voice growing louder. My stomach dropped as what appeared in the rear view mirror was just as scary as any sort of Freddy or Jason or Leatherface from the big screen. Part 2
All Movies I Watched During Quarantine With Reviews
Late to the trend but these are all the movies I watched during the quarantine. I just went back to work this week so I saw that as more or less of the end of the quarantine for me. Rated the movies on a scale of 1-10 with a short review of each movie. Hope you enjoy it and sorry for any grammar errors I wrote all of the reviews today so I went through them fairly quick. Raiders of the Lost Ark: Great start to an amazing franchise 9/10 (Rewatch) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Another good entry to the series but definitely not as good as the first or third 8/10 (Rewatch) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: In my opinion the best Indiana Jones movie, Sean Connery is great in this 9.5/10 (Rewatch) The Great Gatsby: Interesting movie, I really enjoyed how grand everything felt but would have been much better if they used music that fit the time rather than Jay z songs 7.25/10 Burnt: Enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would with it being about cooking 7/10 Memento: One of the most mind bending movies I have seen. Great movie 9/10 Saving Private Ryan: Had meant to watch this awhile ago and I'm glad I finally did. Definitely live up to the hype 8.75/10 Zodiac: Really good movie with some great acting. Crazy to think they came to close to catching him (allegedly) 8.25/10 Days of Thunder: Entertaining but the plot is really all over the place and seem very just slapped together 5.5/10 The Running Man: Classic Arnold movie cheesy but in the best way possible 8/10 (Rewatch) Rocketman: Was very disappointed with this movie I was not a fan of the more musical style rather than biopic. I really enjoyed the Queen movie and was hoping for something similar but I was very wrong. Although Taron Edgerton is very good as Elton 5.5/10 The Fighter: Christian Bale almost never seems to disappoint and Mark Wahlberg is good as well. Very inspiring story 7.75/10 Lucky Number Slevin: Really interesting movie seems predictable at first but catches you off guard 7.5/10 True Grit(2010): Heard a lot about this movie and was not disappointed at all 9/10 Whiplash: I had the impression I wouldn't like this movie but by the end its hard not to be amazed by the performances. Also the the cinematography was surprisingly good 8.75/10 Clear and Present Danger: Decent movie with a good cast although easily forgettable 6.75/10 Old School: Hilarious comedy movie I had never heard of until recently, give it a watch you wont regret it 8/10 Looper: Really enjoyed the plot of the movie and the whole time travel aspect. The Joseph Gordon Levitt CGI on his face to look like Bruce Willis just felt weird though 8/10 A Night At the Roxbury: Very dumb comedy not necessarily in a bad way. A lot of better comedies out there 6/10 Death Proof: I know this is a popular opinion but my least favorite Tarintino movie. You don't really care about any of the characters and their is little to no actual story being told 5.75/10 Jackie Brown: Again definitely one of my least favorite Tarintino movies but much better than death proof. Really loved Samuel L Jackson in this one 7/10 Kill Bill: Great Tarintino flick with amazing action and an awesome cast 8.5/10 (Rewatch) Kill Bill vol 2: Good follow up to the first and has a satisfying ending, not as exciting/fun as the first 7.75/10 (Rewatch) Equilibrium: You can tell how hard this movie tried to be the matrix. Still has some redeeming qualities 6/10 The Hunt for the Red October: Another Jack Ryan movie, I liked this one better than Clear and Present Danger. Good story and very suspenseful 7.5/10 Casino Royale (2006): My favorite Daniel Craig Bond movie so far and great start to a new era of Bond. Also Mads Mikkelsen is great as Le Chiffre 8.5/10 Quantum Of Solace: Extremely disappointing movie after how great Casino Royale was. The villain barely feels like a villain and the editing/ camera work in this movie is one of the worst I have ever seen 5/10 Skyfall: A return to form after Quantum of Solace. Much better and cohesive story and with a compelling villain 8/10 Goldeneye: My favorite Bond movie I have seen so far (all the ones i have listed here). As much as I enjoy the Daniel Craig movies I have always like the gadgets and a bit campy vs the very realistic Craig 8.75/10 12 Monkeys: Had never heard of this movie before but It was awesome and quickly became my favorite time travel movie. If you haven't seen this movie watch it asap! 9/10 Star Wars The Phantom Menace: Started a Star Wars Marathon and got sidetracked but I have to admit I have always loved the prequels having grown up with them even though im well aware of the issues that plague these movies. Duel of the Fates is Tied for best lightsaber duel of all time 7.5/10 Star Wars Attack of the Clones: For sure the worst movie of the prequels imo but still a lot of memorable parts and another good duel with Count Dooku, Obi Wan, Anakin and Yoda 6.5/10 Star Wars the Clone Wars (2008): I love the clone wars tv show but you can easily tell this movie was just episodes of the show put together to movie length. Also the animation in this movie and the beginning of the series in pretty poor but thankfully it only goes up in quality 5/10 Dune: Ok Movie but does not hold up well at all. Its obvious the plot of the book was far too much to contain in one movie. I'm looking forward to the remake of this and that they are going to do it in multiple movies rather than just one. As much as people shit on remakes this one movie that really deserves another go especially with modern special effects 5.5/10 Once Upon A Time in Hollywood: Might be a bit of a hot take but my favorite movie of all time! I loved every moment of this movie and the connection between Dicaprio and Pitt is pure gold. I could watch this movie every night and still enjoy it just as much as I did when I saw it for the first time in theater. 10/10 (Rewatch) Donnie Brasco: Not a bad mob movie Depp and Pacino are both good but it follows all the typical mob tropes 7/10 Ace Ventura Pet Detective: Jim Carrey is always great and Ace Ventura is no exception. Solid comedy 7.5/10 The Lord Of The Rings The Fellowship of the Ring: An amazing beginning to one of the best film trilogies of all time 9.25/10 (Rewatch) The Lord Of The Rings The Two Towers: My personal favorite of the LOTR movies you just can't beat when Gandalf shows up at the battle of Helms Deep 9.5/10 (Rewatch) The Lord Of The Rings The Return of The King: Another amazing movie and a great ending to such a great film trilogy also with one of the best battles ever filmed 9/10 Spy Game: Entertaining and fairly suspenseful movie not a bad watch 6.75/10 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: First Jay and Silent Bob movie I have seen, was a fun movie and I liked all the cameos 7.25/10 Total Recall (2012): Not a terrible movie but the original with Arnold is much more memorable and a lot more fun than the 2012 version 5/10 Constantine: Bit of a weird movie but was still entertaining and has a great dark tone. Hard not to love Keanu 6.75/10 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Very dark movie but I absolutely loved this movie. Great murdemystery along with great performances from Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Must watch if you haven't seen it 8.75/10 Sin City: Really interesting story and has a very different style to it. Makes you feel like it has been pulled right from the comic book. Also a really awesome cast 8.25/10 From Dusk Till Dawn: This movie really caught me off guard. Very campy 90's style but I had a blast watching this movie and would definitely watch it again. Seeing Tarintino as a main character in a movie is weird but also hilarious 7.75/10 Team America World Police: Really dumb movie but it is still pretty funny 6.25/10 American made: Another movie its hard to believe that its a (mostly) true story. Tom Cruise is really great in this 7.75/10 Live Die Repeat / Edge of Tomorrow: One of the most amazing concepts for a story I have seen in years and they manage to pull it off in an amazing way. Both Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are great in this movie. Loved the dark humor and quirkiness of all the characters 9/10 Blade Runner: Amazing movie that still stands up today. Such a great story and the atmosphere of the blade runner world is like no other. RIP Rutger Hauer 9.5/10 (Rewatch) Blade Runner 2049: A great sequel to the original Blade Runner. 2049 is one of the most beautiful moves I have seen with gorgeous cinematography from Roger Deacons. One of Ryan Gosling's best performances 9.25/10 (Rewatch) American History X: An important story about how even smart people like Edward Nortons character can be convince into an evil cult like mentality. This movie also breaks down the race tensions and shows how nobody can really be too far gone to be changed for the better 8.25/10 The Ninth Gate: Easy to watch movie with a interesting story. Nothing special but still enjoyable 6.75/10 Fury: Really good WW2 movie, you get really invested into all the characters and shows what the war was like towards the end 8/10 The Chronicles Of Riddick: Enjoyable action movie looks pretty good for an early 2000s movie since they used a lot more practical effects rather than the typical shitty cgi at the time 6.5/10 Sicario Day Of The Soldado: Pretty bad sequel. The first half of the movie is decent but the second half is slow and boring. The story just ends up really going nowhere and is just a letdown 4.5/10 The Prestige: I can't believe it took me this long to see The Prestige but holy shit is it an amazing mind bending movie. Both Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are amazing in this. Chris Nolan is such a great director and I can't wait for Tenet to finally come out 9.5/10 The Bourne Identity: Good and Entertaining action movie. Matt Damon is a great Jason Bourne 7.75/10 The Bourne Supremacy: Another good action movie that's fun to watch throughout 7.75/10 The Bourne Ultimatum: I feel like Ultimatum really took the Bourne franchise to another level. Really great action and intriguing story Best Bourne movie for sure 8.25/10 Knives Out: Really fun murder mystery with a great cast. Only gripe is that they wouldn't have given away so much so soon. You know most of what happened like 30 min into the movie 8.25/10 Murder On The Orient Express: Another really funny murder mystery. All the characters are very quirky and unique which makes the whole movie a lot of fun. The ending is also very satisfying how it all comes together 8.5/10 Layer Cake: Good movie but I cant help feeling like this is a Guy Ritchie movie without the Guy Ritchie flair to it 7/10 Wind River: I really liked Jeremy Renners whole tracking aspect in this movie rather than the typical Detective stuff you see in most murder mystery movies. Also you really feel and understand the pain some of the characters go through 8/10 Let me know what you think!
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…10
Continuing… “Well, if that doesn’t throw the damper on things.” Dax remarks on our trip back down to the ground floor. “Yeah. How rude. Up and deceasing your own self without bothering to tell anyone beforehand.” I noted. “This is going to be a bloody balls-up. Trust me. This is going to be inordinately messy. A bog-standard botch job. A total dog’s dinner, just wait and see.” Cliffs adds. “First, we have to contact IUPGS. Then what? Does Bulgaria have a consulate or embassy here? I wouldn’t think so…Then what?” I grieved. For once, I was rather low; both emotionally and on ideas. “Let’s go back to the conference room and let everyone know. We’ll pull a brain session together. We should be able to sort out what needs to be done. The hotel already knows, so the state security forces also do as well. Be prepared for lengthy interrogation sessions, Gentlemen”, Cliff advised. Back in the conference room, we relayed the sad information. All were taken aback and there were general notes of commiseration. However, since no one knew Iskren too well personally, it was more detached professionalism rather than overt weeping and wailing. “Let us toast to our fallen comrade!” was accepted as both entirely appropriate and a damn good idea. I got on the conference room phone and ordered up some more sandwiches, mixers, and bottles of booze. The moment was obviously structured that way, I reasoned. We made our toasts to our fallen comrade and we had half a chalkboard filled with suggestions of what to do next. The main consensus was: “Nothing.” As in there was not much we could do. We were foreign nationals in a strangely foreign land. Our comrade was the sole member of his country, that is, Bulgaria, and the closest geographically we had aboard was Dr. Academician Ivan. No one wanted to loose Ivan on the DPRK security forces and have to deal with all that international fallout. After some number of hours, after I suggested we all remain in the conference room as we’d (A.) be together, as in unity there is strength, (2.) we’d have each other’s backs when and if it came to interrogations, and, (iii.) this is where the free booze was. Then there was a polite knock on the door. I, as the den mother of this special education class, slowly got up and answered the knock. It was a cadre of DPRK internal security forces, kitted out in their spiffy, tailor-made, and actually, quite smart-looking uniforms. Shoes and buttons polished to mirror-finishes, pants creases that could cut flesh, and enough polished brass to construct a spittoon. “Hello? Yes?” I said through the semi-opened door. “May we please come in? If the time is convenient.”, the head military type, very treacly asked. “Of course”, I replied, “Please, do come in.” Four of them entered as one. They did a quick-step, tight-march formation together and went to the head of the conference table. “Good day, gentlemen. I am Colonel Hwangbo Dong-Hyeon of Internal State Security. First, we must offer condolences on the loss of your comrade. It must have come as a shock.” He intones. There are mutters of “Thanks.” and “Damn right it was.” “I have been entrusted to update you on the, ah, ‘situation’. First, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev, recently deceased, has been examined by the best medical practitioners in the country. He was obviously a foreign national and state guest, and we do not wish this to be a cause of suspicion or mistrust, especially during this auspicious Festival season.” He asserted. We listened with rapt attention. “I am authorized to tell you that it does not appear that the late Dr. Dinev expired of any untoward circumstances; or ‘foul play’, I believe is the western term. It has been ascertained that he expired due to wholly natural causes; namely massive myocardial infarction. Given his age, apparent health, and, ah, mass, this does seem a most reasonable explanation. This has been verified by no less than three DPRK medical professionals; one of which is the Emeritus teaching professor of Cardiology at Pyongyang Medical University. Again, you have our deepest condolences on the loss of your comrade.” He continued. “I do remember Iskren complaining of gas pains the other night at the bar,” Joon agreed. “Thought nothing of it, given the change in all our diets.” Colonel Hwangbo studied Joon like an entomologist examining a particularly fascinating new species of beetle. “Which has been fine! Just rather rich compared to our usual food!” Joon hastily added. Satisfied that Joon wasn’t making light of the ‘fine’ North Korean cuisine, Colonel Hwangbo continued, “As such, the Bulgarian Embassy here in Pyongyang has been contacted and apprised of the situation. They have taken over the case, as well as recovered the mortal remains and possessions of Dr. Dinev; all of which were conserved and authenticated by his Bulgarian national counterparts.” “Ah, that’s good”, I said, “I’m pleased that there actually is a Bulgarian embassy here.” “Ah. So.”, Col. Hwangbo continued, “Yes. They have already taken possession of Dr. Dinev’s mortal remains and possessions as I had noted, and will handle their repatriation to his country and family. As you can see, we have acted in the best of faith and with the utmost respect for your lately departed. Again, our condolences.” There were some “Harrumphs”, and “Yeah, rights”, from the crowd, but since I was the team leader, it fell to me to handle this situation from here on out. “Yes, indeed”, I replied, “We see that and do so deeply appreciate your efficiency and your keeping open the lines of communication. We have absolutely no room to complain. You, your team, your country, and your services have acted to the highest degree of professionalism and decorum. Let me extend, for the team, our heartiest appreciations in this most unfortunate matter.” That seemed to please the Korean security forces. So much so they didn’t see the rolling eyes and smirks of grudging compliance from the crowd. I gave the evil-eye to several who were twittering quietly at my delivery of a load of over-the-top twaddle in the name of international goodwill. “Thank you, Doctor…? Doctor…?”, he asked. “Doctor Rocknocker.” I replied, “It’s spelled just as it sounds,”, I chuckled a knowing chuckle. Colonel Hwangbo cracked a small smile for the first time since we met. “As long as our orders of business are concluded, “ I inquired, “Might we offer you and your men a drink or sandwich or…” “Cigar?” he suddenly brightened. I smiled the sly, smirking smile of one of those used to the old duplicitous game of international diplomacy. “Why”, I replied smilingly, “Of course.” Col Hwangbo gratefully accepted a brace of fine Oscuro cigars. Probably more tobacco he’s seen in one place at one time since the last he rousted a snozzeled Western journalist or hammered European tourist with an overage of custom’s tobacco allowances. His team eschewed cigars, but gladly accepted a pack each of pastel-colored Sobranie cocktail cigarettes. It still slays me to see these battle-hardened, armed-to-the-teeth, unsmiling servants of the great state of Best Korea mincing about the courtyard smoking avocado, baby-blue, and peach-colored pastel cigarettes. The Colonel and his team left after a couple of quick smokes, sandwiches, and surreptitious beers. I even enticed the Colonel into a couple of convivial vodka toasts when his team was otherwise occupied. “Well, gang”, I said, closing the door, “Looks like that situation has been handled, most appropriately at that. We’ll miss ol’ Iskren, but at least he went fast and hopefully painlessly.” I knew that last one was but a load of old dingo’s kidneys as I’ve had run-ins with cardiac disorders in the past and they are anything but painless. In any case, that was, as I noted, in the past. What was done is done. It was as it was. It is as it is. “So, gentlemen”, I say, “Let us get back to work. Reality calls. Now, we’ve given you landlubbers the lowdown on our seismic pleasure cruise. Now we’d like to hear what you who had stayed onshore have come up with.” Erlan, Graco, and Viv fill us in on the regional geology of Best Korea and lay out a plan to examine the sedimentary piles closest to the few paved roads in the north and east of the country. We’ll be traveling by bus, as my request for four or five off-road vehicles was denied due to timing and lack of availability. Yeah. Right. What a massive pile of bovine biogenic colluvium. A country with a military as huge as Best Korea’s and they can’t spare a few jeeps or Hummer reproductions? Truth be told, they still don’t trust us and don’t want to let us out of their sight. However, we did manage to snag some internal publications from the Central Geological Survey of Mineral Resources, which we figured as a major coup. Never before were Westerners allowed to even know of the existence of these materials, much less be able to research (read: slyly copy) them. That ‘personal shaver’ I carried was actually a sneaky personal copier, a Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner with all the external stickers peeled off, and any serial numbers abraded away. Hey, they photograph us from every angle on the sly, listen in on our conversations, record our phone calls…hell, turnabout isn’t just fair play, it’s almost expected. It’d be rude to refuse to play along. Anyways, we learned that The Korean Peninsula (KP) occupies a junction area of three large tectonic domains that are the Paleo-Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Paleo-Tethyan Orogenic Belt, and the Western Pacific Orogenic Belt. Tectono-fascinating. To summarize:
The Archean Rangrim massif is divided into the Rangrim and Kwanmo submassifs, high-grade region and greenstone belt, respectively.
Early Paleoproterozoic rocks underwent metamorphism up to granulite facies, which may be correlated to the Jiao-Liao-Ji mobile belt in the North China Craton (NCC).
Proterozoic rift sequences in North Korea are similar to those in the NCC with rare late Paleoproterozoic strata and more Neoproterozoic strata.
Mesozoic igneous rocks are extensively distributed in the KP.
The main Paleozoic basin, the Phyongnam basin in NK, have a similar Paleozoic tectono-stratigraphy to the NCC.
Of most interest is item #5. The Phyongnam basin is the only sedimentary and depositional basin of mention in the north of the Korean peninsula; and therefore the center of our attention as it pertains to oil and gas. The potential source rocks, and possible reservoirs, include the Paleozoic Late Ordovician Miru Series was identified as the Koksan Series and subsequently renamed. The 170-meter thick limestone and siltstone centered around the P'yongnam Basin have extensive crinoid, coral, and gastropod fossils. Paleogeography researchers have suggested that corals formed in the Miru Sea-a branch of the South Yangtze Sea. At the base of the Taedong Synthem is the P'yong'an Supergroup, which lies disconformably atop older Paleozoic rocks. In the Pyongyang Coalfield it is divided into the 650-meter sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Nogam Formation, the 500-meter Kobangsan Formation, 350-meter coal-bearing Sadong Formation and 250-meter chert-bearing Hongjom Formation, all typically assigned to an Upper Permian shallow marine environment. In the Mesozoic, north of Pyongyang, Precambrian basement rocks are unconformably overlain by a Jurassic limestone conglomerate ascending to layers of siltstone and mudstone. The Upper Jurassic Shinuiju Formation northwest of Shinuiju has sandstone, conglomerate, and mudstone up to two kilometers thick. Offshore drilling in the West Korea Bay Basin indicates these rocks are the onshore extension of offshore units. It is subdivided into fluvial rocks and Upper Jurassic black shale, limestone, conglomerate and sandstone formed in a lake environment. There are very few Cenozoic sediments are known in North Korea, likely as a result of erosion due to uplift of the peninsula. Submarine normal faults along the eastern coastline may have driven crustal tilting. The 350-meter thick Bongsan Coalfield in Hwanghae Province on the west coast preserves and coal-bearing layers dating to the Eocene. Further to the north, in the West Korea Bay Basin Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary rocks up to three kilometers thick unconformably overlie Mesozoic rocks, formed in lakes and coal swamps during the Paleogene. What this meant is that we’d need to travel mostly northeast and/or southwest. This was fortuitous as the paved roads in the country were created in structural valleys formed by the primary fault trends in the country. The main trans-tensional set trended NE:SW and the conjugate set trends approximately 900 to the main set at NW:SE. The topography was heavily dissected by drainages and the terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east. The plan was to take the bus north to Sunchon, then hang a right off towards Unsan and Yongha. There were outcrops between the last two towns and they appear to be upper Paleozoic to Lower Mesozoic clastics. Ideal oil and gas hunting grounds. From there, we’d head north-northeast towards Yangwon. There appeared to be some fair to excellent outcrops of rocks that are as of yet, unidentified as to age. From there, we’d continue to follow the outcrop belts either to their termination at the basin’s edges or at international borders with China or Russia. But, once we hit the field, time goes into relative warp. Put a bunch of geologists out on some relatively virgin outcrops and just stand back as they spend hour after hour after hour first looking for evidence of the formation’s provenance, it’s age and field relations. Then begin the heartfelt, stalwart, and sometimes vicious, arguments between all concerned about each and every one of those salient points. We were all looking forward to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our intellectual and scientific equivalent of meat and potatoes. We all agreed on a way forward and generated a document to deliver to those in charge of our logistics on this trip. There would be a total of 11 Western geoscientists, four guides, perhaps a couple of national geologists or geophysicists, and whatever cadre the shiny suit squad wanted to include. There would also be a driver, his relief, and a couple of extra translators. Good thing it was a large bus, as it’s going to be a huge crew. We needed to allow our handlers a full day to arrange room and board for us while in the field, as we had to be bivouacked somewhere outside our fine hotel. It needed to be secure, pass sanctuary muster, and be ‘controllable’, referring to both Western scientists and nosy locals. One thing we found odd was the lack of concern for long-term logistics, not to mention the end of our self-ordained indentured servitude. When this trip and all the Western geoscientists were contacted, we were all assured of an opportunity to meet with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un once our trip was completed. We were to personally deliver one hell of an international photo-op. A ‘hey look how progressive we are’ meeting and our findings in this wonderful and progressive country. But lately, with what we thought was the fallout of the Festival washing out all the usual propaganda, we’ve heard nothing about Herr Comrade Leader Supremo, K1J1-Un. Nor had we heard one iota about our intended final meeting with him before we left for China. Since there are “absolutely no” COVID-19 cases in Best Korea, it seemed, well, odd that Beijing was our only possible current exit port of call, and onward to our individual homes. There were all flavors of rumors flying all throughout the basement bars and casinos of the hotel. One claimed that Kim was now receiving treatment at a villa in the Mount Myohyang resort north of the capital Pyongyang after cardiovascular surgery. That he was near death and that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is already warming up in the North Korean political bullpen if her brother kacks it. Others said Kim is believed to be staying at an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang, with some close confidants. It was said that Kim appeared to be normally engaged with state affairs and there has not been any unusual movement or emergency reaction from North Korea's governing party, military, or cabinet. There was also one other that tries to cover up any conspiracy rumors by shouting over a raspy bullhorn: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"; but most ignored that little crank. We all thought that rather odd, but of fairly low concern. In the final analysis, it would have little impact on our studies and their outcome. In other words, it wouldn’t affect our pay one way or the other. We all felt like we’ve given more than what was called for on missions such as this. And we still haven’t a clue as to when this will all come to an end. However, we all agreed to the consultation, it would have been fun to meet with him and have our pictures taken with the Supreme Leader. Dr. Academician Ivan Ivanovich Khimik. was especially cheesed that he might miss the opportunity to make finger-vee bunny ears behind the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the DPRK during one of our photo sessions. We all agree if we do somehow find ourselves in the same room with Ivan and Kim Jong-Un, we’ll form a human shield around the latter. We want to get back home; as we’ve all heard the rumors of the horrors of ‘political realignment’ camps here in Best Korea. So the meeting breaks up and I’m left with Dax to take the final inventory. Two loads of sandwiches gone, piles of used napkins, ketchup-y table linens, bacon rinds and chicken bones, drippy ends of ice cream cones, prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, pizza crusts, and withered greens, soggy beans and tangerines, crusts of black burned buttered toast, gristly bits of beefy roasts… “The hell with this”, I say, I grab the last nearly full bottle of vodka and hand Dax a bottle of Royal Navy dark Rum. “Tally’s good”, I say, not really giving two tiny shits at this point. “At least, I think it is. Let’s make like horseshit and hit the trail.” “I’m headed back to our floor and going to zone out in front of some old, looped BBC for the next few hours with a cold drink and hot cigar.” I proclaim. “Oh, hell”, Dax says, “I agree. It’s been a weird couple of days. Let’s go.” And so we do. On the way, I leave the logistics concerns and itinerary for the upcoming field trips with the front desk clerk. I slip her 1000 won as its Festival! and I had a bulgy pocketful of same. She smiled and quietly said there’s be a surprise waiting for me in my room when I got there. “Rock, you fucking old hound!”, Dax exclaimed as he punched me lightly on the shoulder. “Taking a dip in the hotel secretarial pool?” “Dax, you surprise me”, I said in my defense, “I have been, and continue to be, happily married for the last 38 years to the most loving, most intelligent, most well-connected, and most accurate snap-shot with a Glock .380 Automatic I know of.” “Well, me ol’ mucker”, Dax smiles slyly, “If one has been happily married for 38 years, one must have a little something on the side. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge, ‘eh, Squire?” “Oh, nothing like that”, I replied, while waiting the obligatory 30 minutes for the fucking elevator to arrive. “I couldn't break my word to Esme, and not because I don’t believe in a God that will send me to Hell without an electric fan or because it's not the right thing to do. I simply don't want to. A man is only as good as his word; and if he loses that, he loses too much. I couldn’t function without people thinking that I’m square and on the level. My business would crumble to dust. As would my marriage.” “Yeah, there is that”, Dax agrees, “You say something is going to happen and God damn, it fucking happens. That’s what makes you honest and honestly scary.” I stare intently at the annunciator that tells me the fucking elevator is stuck on 4 again. “You’re not mob, are you?” Dax harshly whispers, snickeringly. I turn to face Dax and smile wistfully. “Я с уважением отказываюсь отвечать, потому что я искренне верю, что мой ответ может обвинить меня”, I reply quietly. “What the hell does that mean?” Dax demands. “I respectfully decline to answer because I honestly believe my answer might tend to incriminate me”, I calmly reply. “Oh, look. Bloody elevator’s finally here.” I note and stride aboard. Dax gets caught up in the tsunami of the crowd and is carried bodily inside. It was so remorseless, he almost lost his grip on his bottle of Dark Rum. Up on ‘our’ floor, I go to key open my room. Dax is just down the hall and looking around to see what special surprise might show up. I was too tired to wait so I just push in, and see all my field clothes fully laundered, pressed, and either folded or hanging. Someone broke into my room during the day and committed a compound neatness. “POUND! Pound! POUND!” Hmm, appears to be someone at my door. “Yes, Dax?” I said. “You too?” he fumed, “Everything, cleaned to within an inch if its life. They even polished my bloody field boots.” “Oh, fuck”, I said and ran to find mine re-pristinized. “FUCK! FUCK! FUCKITYFUCKFUCK!” I swore. They had polished my field boots and removed the fine years-of-work-to-acquire near-subsurface of the leather’s oil layer. They polished the water-proofing and conditioning out of the leather of our boots. “OK. OK.”, I said, “Minor emergency. Cool out. I have the solution.” I toss Dax a small can. It was brown, oily, and claimed to be “Neatsfoot oil”. It was the SPF- 500 of field leathers. “Go ahead and oil them up with that”, I told Dax, “I’ve got another can, so don’t worry. Use what you need, don’t be shy, but if there’s any left, let me know. I’ll combine ours and offer it to anyone else in the team who had their boots steam-cleaned.” So, a bit later, I’m sitting on my hotel room’s floor, on several sheets of newspaper, rubbing Neatsfoot Oil into my ancient, multinational size 16 EEE Vasque™ Tracker field boots. Then there’s a knock at the door. “It’s open. Enter carefully”, I say aloud. It’s a bell clerk with a room service cart. On the cart are a bucket of ice, a bowl of sliced limes, I think, several gimlet glasses, some Best Korean ‘Air Koryo’ carbonated citrus drink, and a fresh bottle of “Kaesong” vodka. “Compliments of the front desk”, the bellman says. I stand up, tip him a few thousand won, and set a new record in mixology; a fresh brace of drinks in less than 7.3 seconds. I offer the bellman the lighter one and he accepts with a wide smile. I say “건배” (geonbae) literally means 'empty glass', which is similar to the expression 'bottom's up'. For you see, my Korean’s coming along a treat. We clink glasses and send those drinks to the places that they’ll do the best. The bellman smiles offloads the cart onto the table in my room, shakes my hand, and departs. I finish my boots, my drink, and my cigar. After another drink or seven, I crater early. Dax was right; it had been a long, weird day. The next day, Festival! is still going strong, but still no word on the whereabouts of El Líder Supremo. I find that odd, only slightly interesting, and since it will impact the day’s events zero, I file it away for maybe later use. I go to the hotel pool around 0530 and there’s no one there. I’m able to get in a good 100 laps, unburdened with either small talk or by yammering kids blocking my lanes. I go early as I don’t wear gloves in the water, obviously. Statistically, there is less chance there will be others, adults and kids included, that would get freaked out by my gnarly left hand. I really don’t feel like recounting the old Russian Rig Accident story again. After a brisk shower and double shower-scotch back in my room, I dress casually and wander down to the casino and bar level. It’s essentially breakfast time, but with the revelers not giving two hoots to AM vs. PM, it’s surprisingly busy. I find a perch up on Mahogany Ridge and order a classical breakfast cocktail of one liter of beer and 100 milliliters of chilled vodka. I see Mr. Ho is manning the bar. I ask him to ring the massage parlor down the hall and see if Ms. Nang Bo-Hee is free sometime this morning. He does and reports that she has an open hour and a half at 0900. Would I like it or any portion of that time? “I’ll take the lot”, I said. “Tell them I’ll be there spot on 0900.” “That’s great.”, Mr. Ho says, hanging up the phone, “Doctor Rock, they tell me that with the Festival discount and you taking the full 90 minutes, they can cut you a very special deal.” “I’ll bet”, I replied, “Like what?” “Oh, I cannot say for they did not tell me”, he smiled, “They will tell you when you arrive.” “Marvelous”, I exhaled tiredly. “Another, Mr. Ho; make it a double, if you would please.” The massage center here is run by a group not employed directly by the hotel. It’s a separate entity altogether. They run specials and have different discount programs that are not only not controlled nor advertised by the hotel, but they’re also not in any way beholden to the hotel, except for rent, I suppose and run it like their own little fiefdom. Ms. Nang, my preferred masseuse, is a little, tiny Korean lassie about 5 feet tall and probably all of 90 pounds soaking wet. However, she is amazingly well trained and could probably put me in the hospital for a lengthy visit with her wiles and methods of flesh, bone, and muscle manipulation. She offers a whole suite of different massage genres: Swedish, hot stone, aromatherapy, deep tissue, sport, trigger point, reflexology, shiatsu, Thai, and Rolfing. Oh, fuck. I know Rolfing. I tried that nonsense back in grad school with an old east Indian lady that could have linebackered for the Minnesota Vikings. That shit fucking hurt. Today, it’d incapacitate me permanently. That’s a definite no-go. I decide that it’s going to be the Hot Stone-treatment today. A geological-manipulation inquiry. At 0900 I’m the only client at the massage ‘store’. It’s early, day two of the festival, and people are either sleeping off the previous night’s festivities or too wobbly to even think of partaking in a massage. I’ve had several major back surgeries over the years, including one bilateral laminectomy about seven years ago that removed 7.5 kilos of overgrown bone and muscle from my lumbar region, so I’ve been very cautious about soliciting a massage. The masseuse has to know that area is strictly verboten and will do everything to avoid annoying that particular piece of bodily real-estate. I’ve walked or limped out of massages before where the practitioner said they understood my reticence, but went ahead and kneaded and provoked that land of keloids and deep-body scar tissue. However, based on past experience, Ms. Nang knows full well my reluctance as well as my desires. That’s the reason I’m returning. She’s very, very good; a consummate professional and has a never-ending series of jokes and observations while she’s pummeling you into submission. Today, we retire to a private cubicle and she hands me a small robe or napkin, not sure which, of Korean manufacture. She tells me to get au natural and to wear the robe while she prepares the tools of her trade. OK, I’m not a small person; not by a long shot. This robe, however, is made for a sprite, not even for a small person. She returns to our massage cubicle as I’m sitting there, at the end of the massage table, sipping my drink clad only in my dapper red-and-white checkered boxers. “You need to be unclothed, Doctor. Use the robe. OK, sir Rock?” she says. “Ms. Nang,”, I said, shaking my head, “It’s one or the other.” I show her how laughable the robe is as I can’t even get it over my upper arm. It’s not even as a tea towel when it comes to covering my expansive acres of exposed epidermis. “I can close door.”, she says, “I’m used to it. I am professional. Does not bother me if it does not bother you.” I lost all forms of bashfulness, timidity, or prudery long, long ago. After years and years of Russian banya, Swedish massage, Turkish baths, and surgery; well, if it don’t bother you, it don’t bother me. “OK”, I say, using the robe as a small two-dimensional breechcloth. She tells me to ‘hop’ up on the massage table and lie down, facing the floor. After chuckling about the fact that I haven’t hopped for decades, I wander over to the nicely padded and extremely clean massage table and lie down. She rearranges the ‘robe’ to cover my backside and tells me to relax. She’ll be right back with the stones. I’ve never tried this type of massage before, but as a geologist, I must; if for nothing else, progress in the name of science. Ms. Nang returns with a large parcel consisting of many sizes of steamed stones. They were river-washed and tumbled basalt from the looks of them, all wrapped in a large fuzzy towel. Now she finds the large towels… She selects them one by one and places them in ‘special, strategic’ spots on my exposed back. From the lower 2/3rds of the nape of the neck, down the spine, over the fundus mountains, and down the back of each leg. It’s a warm, almost hot in some places, but not an uncomfortable feeling. She returns to adjust them, grind them in a bit in places, and flip them to extract all that igneous lithological thermal goodness. I have to admit, at that point, it was feeling quite delightful. Relaxed; I had my drink and was being kneaded My dorsal musculature was being de-lithified by the application of hot rocks and expert point massage. All was going quite well as Ms. Nang was building a huge tip in her ‘job well done’ bank. Then the rocks had all attained room temperature. She excused herself to reload with another minor outcrop’s-worth and told me to flip over for round two of the process. “In for a dime, in for a dollar”, I said, as I flipped over and use the robe as a laughable forward-facing breechcloth. Ms. Nang mentioned that she was always fascinated by Westerners and their surplus of bodily fuzz. With my long, shoulder-length silver hair, full Grizzly Adams beard that drooped down to my sternum, and torso that picked up where my beard left off; she was quite unprepared to see the beached silver-gray panda that awaited upon her return. “Dr. Rock!’, she exclaimed, “You are as a bear! So much hair. And silver color!” “Yeah, sorry”, I replied, “Just the hand genetics dealt me. I guess it’s an adaptation for ethanol-fueled organisms that never feel cold.” “I will soon return.” She titters excitedly and almost runs out of the room. “Hmmm. I wonder what that’s all about?” I muse as I lie largely undraped in the massage cubicle. Suddenly, the door bursts open and every female massage practitioner there herded into the room. They simply had to see the specimen upon which the delightful Ms. Nang was working. OK, truth be told, I was a bit taken aback. Here I am lying on an elevated, and heavily padded, massage table. I’m ‘wearing’ only a crooked, worried grin and a sheet of a cotton washcloth that measures about 12x12 inches. They Oohed! and Ahhhed! I did feel like some form of an alien animal suddenly thrust out into public view. It was a bit disconcerting, but as usual, I just tried to deflect any unease with jokes and idiot remarks. At my age, not much is going to bother me, and this I found all the more laughable than troubling. Suddenly, I was fielding their barrage of questions: “You are American? All American men so…hairy?” “Yes and no”, I replied. I also mentioned I hadn’t undertaken a study in that particular subject. “Why you so big?” one tiny lass asked, eyes as big as dinner plates. “Genetics”. I replied. “Just a corn-fed Baja Canadian doofus. We grow ‘em big back home.” “Can we touch?” one particularly brave little lass asks. “Touch what?” I asked. Look, I might be over 6 decades old, but there are still some areas reserved for my one and only betrothed. I did tell Esme of this whole event later that evening during our nightly call. She laughed herself silly. “Your beard! Oriental men never have such beard. We touch maybe?” she implored. I was going to say “Go nuts”, but I decided that a simple “Sure” would be more fitting. So they did. They were enthralled. They had never before, from what I was told, seen such a large silver-gray ZZ Top-style beard, especially here at the hotel. That part was weird enough, but when they started in on working their way south toward the equator, I had to say something to dissuade them. “Where were you girls 45 years ago?” I laughed. I don’t think they got the joke. They became somewhat bolder in their austral exploratory activities. “OK! Time out! Ms. Nang! We have an appointment to keep”, I said as I shooed the rest of the lassies away, “We need to finish what we started.” By the time that the third syllable of that last sentence came into being, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to say. They all laughed and tittered as Ms. Nang ushered them out of the room. I could have sworn I heard the door lock behind them. Ms. Nang reprieved her earlier stone placement therapy, with a couple of strategic detours. She wasn’t that type of masseuse, and I wasn’t looking for that type of massage. She did, however, knead and pummel me mercilessly. I’ve been bruised less from barroom brawls. Finally, she announces that she’s finished. She’ll leave while I shower, as she used essential aromatic oils, and would await me out in the lobby. After showering, I felt like a large bowl of pummeled Jello. I felt relaxed, and for the first time in weeks, my back was silent. My head was clear as a spring Sunday morn in Reykjavik. The full 90 minutes, plus sideshow, was 4,500 won. I paid the owner the required sum and handed Ms. Nang an additional 15,000 for a job well done. And for another anecdote that goes into the hopper. I left the massage parlor feeling quite fine, thank you. I wandered over to the bar to see if I could augment and prolong this feeling of harmony with the universe. The mental picture even now of all those cooing Korean lassies in the massage room never fails to elicit a laugh and head shake. A few hours later, I’m back in my room, tidying up my field notes and making certain all my paperwork was heavily encoded and up to date. It was, so I placed a number of expensive overseas calls to catch up with everyone on the outside. I’m thinking of calling room service to have my mini-bar repaired when my room phone rings. “Now who would be calling me at this hour?” I wondered. It was the tour group leader. He informed me that the itinerary had been worked out and we’d be leaving tomorrow for the field at 0600. We were to arrive with all our luggage and be prepared to check out. We would spend at least a week in the field, if not two, depending on our results, and be bivouacking in different places in the interior of the country. I thanked him for the information and said I’d inform the rest of the team. He told me that wouldn’t be necessary as they would come up to or floor, deliver the notice verbally, or by note if they were out of their rooms. If I wanted to later call each participant and ensure they were apprised of the situation, that would be most appreciated. I assured him I would do so and that we’d be ready, to a man, at 0600 the next day. I whip up 10 Post-it™ notes and stick one on each member’s door. “Leaving for the field. Check out 0530. Wheels up 0600. Bring all luggage. Road trip!” To be continued…
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…11
Continuing… That being handled, I leave a wakeup call for 0430 as I want a shower and a couple shower-sunrisers before we leave. It takes me about 10 minutes to pack. I call home to let Es know what’s going on. She’s not in, so I leave a message. Same for my friends Rack and Ruin of the Agency. They’re thrilled so far with my reports. The security forces here are absolutely going to freak if they reverse-review my phone records once we leave. Covert? Schmovert. I’m too old for playing such games. The next morning, after a sudsy shower and a couple of vodka-infused shower-beers; I’m in the lobby with all my kit, checked-out, and waiting on the tour leader. My passport was stamp-stamp-stampity-stamped here at the hotel, which I thought was weird, but after spending time in this here country, not all that unusual. At 0545 on the dime, the tour bus pulls into the lot. Without a word, bellhops grab near all my kit and escort it out to the waiting bus. After tipping each extravagantly, I fire up a huge cigar, and wander around outside, loitering by the bus. I see members of my team at the front desk, checking out. Everything’s been paid for already, they just have to sign documents that they’re not secreting hotel towels or televisions or errant nationals in their luggage. It’s a weird country. I see them loading box breakfasts for us as well as box lunches on the bus. Hell, they’re actually doing ‘field trip’ correctly. If the bus us fueled up, we can go for days at this rate. There are several coolers bearing the hotel’s brand and I sidle over to see what they’re carrying. Case after case of iced-down beer and a couple of cases of various high-octane potables; and over there? A couple of boxes of mixers…ah, soda…pop…carbonated citrusy goodness. “OK”, I sigh, “All is as it should be. Now the field excursion may begin.” My teammates filter outside as does their luggage. I suggest they get out and keep what is necessary for preliminary outcrop excursions; such as a backpack or knapsack, hammer, acid bottles, field notebooks, Brunton compass, lighters, cameras, personal tobacco products, and the like in the bus. That way, we don’t have to go tearing through all the luggage at every stop. I pull out a bundle of 100 Hubco™ large geological dual-sample bags. That’s right: ‘dual’ sample… I distribute these to everyone on the team. I ask that they devise their own numbering system and make absolutely certain I have a copy of it when we’re done. I’ll be correlating and curating all the samples when we get back to the world. I ask that a cooler of drinks are left on board the bus, rather than in the hold. It’s humid, sticky, and muggy today. We must expend valiant effort in remaining hydrated and this will help. Luckily, the bus has on-board lavatory facilities. We are seated on the bus, my 10 collective team members, myself, our 4 ‘guides’, ‘Yuk’, ‘No’, ‘Man’, and ‘Kong’; our driver, relief driver, one incredibly shy national geologist, Myung-Dae Soo, and four of the shiny suit clan. The hotel wheels out a large cart laden with pastries and a huge coffee urn. A bit of a “Bon Voyage” from the casino and bar crowd, as they put this together for us when they heard we were leaving. “Hey. That’s really nice of them.” Dax notes. Dax handed over our raw “elevator waiting” funds as we didn’t have time to run it through the casino-machine before we left. We donated over 75,000 won to our friends at the bar, casino, and massage parlor. The ones delivering our going away present assured us it would be divided equitably. “It best be”, I laughed, “You never know when one of us might be back!” There was a collective horrified look on their faces for the merest moments. Then they all laughed and said that they hoped we would return someday soon. “Nice folks”, I thought, “Stupid as shit country, but nice folks.” We had all separately left tips for the room maids, bellmen, and matrons back before we checked-out. There was a flurry of handshaking and goodbyes. Not a bad hotel experience here in the so-called land of Best Korea. Serious dark coffee was passed out amongst the riders, but Ivan, myself, and Dax were already giving one of my emergency flasks a workout. Ivan smiled and said: “We drink our coffee the Russian way. That is to say we had vodka before it and vodka afterward. HA!” Ivan and I are cut from the same bolt. Faux-doughnuts, pseudo-bear claws and fake-long johns all distributed; the bus is fired up, and rumbling. We are exhorted to watch our drinks as we pull away from the hotel and into the wilds of Northern Korea. I’m humming away: On the road again -Just can't wait to get on the road again, The life I love is bashing rocks in the field with my friends. And I can't wait to get on the road again On the road again. Goin' places that we've never been, Seein' things that we may never see again… -- “Rock?”, Dax inquires. “Yes?” I reply. “Do please shut up.” “Music hater”, I muse and comply. We’re rolling down the highway, as it were, headed generally north. We all have cameras of one kind or another; and rather than relieve us of them, they quietly and without much fuss, slowly darken the windows. They claim it’s to keep the sun out and temperatures down, but just before things go all black, we’re seeing sights and scenes of the true North Korea. They’re trying to keep us from seeing that en route to the outcrops. This new bus has some sort of electronic tint-control gizmo for the windows. However, if one has a pair of polarizing sunglasses, as all good field geologists do, you see right past that and can view the passing scenery unencumbered. I return from a quick beer-recycling loo trip and am amused to see 10 Western scientists, sitting in a blacked-out bus, all wearing polarizing sunglasses. It was just the surreal note this trip needed as we left the confines of the capital city. We traveled north, and the empties pile began to grow. We had a few trash bags we had liberated from the hotel, but the shiny suits were very insistent that every empty can, bottle, and bag, yes they had beer in bags…had to be repatriated to a box in the far back of the bus. Evidently, they either were paid a bounty on each container or were accountable for each vessel. They were soon to realize just the capacity for drink that a group of 11 seasoned very Senior Field Geologists, and one stowaway geologist-in-training can amass. As we ply our way northward, we see the agricultural side of North Korea. The contrast between rural areas and the capital was striking. There were miles of rice paddies being harvested by people with sickles in their hands. And no cars on the highway. It was most destabilizing for this Westerner. I think we saw a maximum of three tractors, as most of the work was done with ox power, there was very little evidence of rural electrification. Oh, hold on. We saw many more tractors, I should correct that: we saw three running and not rusted into oblivion tractors. The farmers we see are using equipment that is quite literally medieval - single-share plows pulled by large, cranky bovines; sweeping sickles to bring in the harvest, and twin-engine, bilateral, botanical-fired ox-carts to transport it. It’s hard to believe that this third-world level of poverty exists in the same country that’s capable of building rockets, nuclear weapons, and tall, well-appointed hotels. But when we stop at a motorway service station for fuel - a bizarre alien spaceship-like building squatting over the empty carriageways - we do encounter a jangmadang, or semi-official market. Here they are selling cans of knock-off Vietnamese Red Bull and Malaysian-made King Cobra™ Cola. It reminds me of Russia right after the wall fell. Off the Trans-Siberian Railway in Krasnoyarsk, the Gateway to Eastern Siberia. You can buy Chinese hams, Chinese sodas, Chinese knock-off liquor, and those bloody delicious little bullets of Vitamin-C, Chinese mandarins. Here, it’s similar. You can get most anything you desire, except it isn’t of Korean manufacture. That stuff is even too shitty to pawn off on tourists. Instead, it’s knock-off Malaysian, Chinese, or Indonesian beer, wine, or soft drinks. “Tiger-brand energy drink. Now with 40% more real tiger.” Here? I believe them. Vodka from everywhere not known for its vodka distilling prowess. Rural hotel shops sell nastily stale crisps, gummy gummies, filling-ripping ‘chewy’ taffy or caramel, and biscuits with a severely limited choice. Rural hotels do not have full electricity so beer is warm and often tossed on the table, waiting for tourists to arrive - as is the food. We were warned to be prepared for cold rice, cold fish, cold potato – and plenty of kimchi and tofu. Back on the road again, we’re passing small burgs that are not on any of our maps; even the ones we traded for back in the hotel that are specially marked: “For Internal Use ONLY!”. They were amazingly the same. Clean. Bright. Uncluttered. And attended by cadres of prim, uniform-clad, though non-military people. They were all doing a day’s work keeping everything neat and clean. There were no cars, trucks, forklifts…only rickshaws and ox-carts. However every one of these ‘towns’ were identical, and exactly, as Ivan pointed out, ‘X’ number of minutes apart. “Watch! Is so!”, Ivan said. We passed one of these villages, and exactly 3 minutes later, an exact copy. Three minutes later? Another one. 3 more minutes? Xerox-city. “What the fuck?” Dax asked. “Potemkin village.” Comrade Dr. Academician Ivan replied. A Potemkin village is any construction, literal or figurative, whose sole purpose is to provide an external façade to a country which is faring poorly. It is for making people believe that the country is faring better, although statistics and data would suggest otherwise. “Russia pioneered the process,” Ivan noted with no small amount of pride. “During Cold War with West, entire cities were built, moved, raised, and razed. Ever hear of Krasnoyarsk-25? Atomic Research City? Supposed place of weapons study and manufacture. Huge ‘accident’. Entire city demolished, total populace relocated supposedly, after massive nuclear calamity.” “Is that true? Cliff asks. “No. Not at all.” Ivan smiles, “Deliberate misinformation. At least for K-25. It was diversion for actual towns where accidents; nuclear, biological, or worse, had happened. West so concerned about K-25 because it was big, near big capital city of Krasnoyarsk and suitably located out in the taiga. Easy to spot, easy to watch. Kept Western satellites busy while real towns of I-33, U-10, and AR-13 out in the forest were quietly demolished and people relocated or mass buried after some horrible, horrible accidents...” “You think it’s the same here?” I asked Ivan. “No, Dr. Rock”, Ivan smiled, and helped himself to my freshly constructed, but untouched, Yorshch, “This is all fake and bluster. Make West think everything is all A-OK, is that right idiom?” “Yep.” I reply, “Precisely.” “Make West believe all is OK and green”, as he winks at me, “And bustling and growing. Cover up what is real case here. We all see it and we see right through. Shoddy even for Asians.” We all had to snicker and smirk as the shiny suit squad, who sat up at the front of the bus, and were not supposed to be listening; reacted like every cell in their bodies were just hit with a drop of pure lemon juice. “Comrade Dr. Academician. Decorum, please.” I snickered. “Oh, fuck them!”, Ivan replied, “I am old Russian. They try and pull burlap over my eyes? St. Petersburg? Moscow? Krasnoyarsk.? I’ve been there, seen them. They think this display of tawdriness…Even goofy American and Canadian can see the fakes they are. Britisher? I’m not so sure…” “Damn, Doctor., I said to Ivan, “You’re just making friends all over the planet today.” We all knew it was in jest; but the shiny suit squad certainly had their feathers ruffled and either didn’t care or wanted us to know we were under their observation. “Fuck them twice”, Ivan said, “Ask them for bottle opener. I’m too lazy to search for my field jackknife.” I hand him my pocket Leatherman and he pries the top of another bottle of ‘Budveiser’ beer. “They can’t even make fake the name correctly”, he smirks and drains the bottle. ‘Town’ after ‘town’ and even that parade gets uninteresting. We’re headed north and finally come to a crossroads. The bus driver, who must be a regular paranoid-maniac because he actually stopped to look for oncoming traffic, which we have seen precisely none since leaving the capital city, made a hard right. We’re heading back and up into the hills, leaving the bright lights of the big city far behind. After an hour or so of driving, we pull off to the left-hand side of the road. “Rock, Ivan, Cliff…holy shit, look at this!” Dax was uncharacteristically excited. It was an open field that leads to a series of low outcrops of polychromatic, obviously sedimentary rocks. Magentas, greens, purples, rust-reds, browns, blacks, olive greens…holy shit. A real sedimentary pile. We filed out of the bus with our field gear. The shiny suit squad started in with a bullhorn. “You will wait for tour guides!” “You will listen to group leaders!” “You will not stray from the designated paths set up…” No one heard them as the group of 11 remaining Western geoscientists were already across the highway and hieing for the exposures like outcrop-seeking multiple-warhead re-entry vehicles. “You must wait!” we heard from exasperated voices back at the bus. “You must stop!” “You must piss off!” Cliff said, “This is what we’ve been waiting over two weeks to see!” “They are very angry with us”, Myung-dae the young Korean geologist said. “I find that just too bad.” “And you are?” I asked. Myung-dae Soo, the young Korean geologist, introduced himself. “Well”, I said, “Welcome aboard. I’m Dr. Rock.” “They are very, very angry”, he repeats. “So? Are you tagging along to give them internal reports?” I asked. “No, Doctor”, he replied, “I too am a geologist. I want to get away from those assholes and see some real rocks.” “Who are you with?” I ask, “What group?” “I am 5th-year student at Pyongyang College. I am not officially here. We were told in class that you were coming. I decided to see if I could join you. This morning, I was standing by bus and they thought I was hotel worker or orderly. I was given cooler full of beer and told to find place for it on the bus. I did and after that, just stayed in the back. I am stowaway. I am ashamed, but I had to see for myself. But, I like Western field trips so far!” “No shit? Well, then”, I said, “Double welcome aboard. None of this ‘I am ashamed’ shit. You’re a geologist, but you haven’t even worked through your first field-evening get-together with us. But this is no pleasure cruise. It’s real work, real geology, real serious science shit. You savvy?” “Yes, sir, Doctor Rocknocker from Sultanate in the Middle East.” Myung-dae smiled. “And you fucking stay close to me”, I smirked. I fired a couple of BLAAATS! from my portable air horn. “Field Meeting! Field Meeting! Assholes & Elbows!” I called aloud. Everyone gathered within earshot. “OK, guys, here’s the deal. We do not know how long we’ve got here. So, let’s split up into teams. Geophysicists, go do your structural thing. Stratigraphers? Field relations. Geologists? Let’s go talk to some ronery-rooking-rocks. No offense, Mr. Myung.” Myung-dae was laughing up a storm. He got that reference. He later told us all around the campfire he thought ‘Team America’ was a “fucking hilarious movie.” Oh, we are going to be a real bad influence on this poor kid. The groups spontaneously broke up into 4 or 5 sub-groups. They headed for areas they thought were important and they were photographing, measuring, pounding on rocks, and arguing within minutes. “No, you idiot! It’s continental. Look at those adhesion ripples.” “The fuck you know. It’s only a little low-level eggbeater tectonics. Where the fuck would you get continental collision-size energy around here?” “Oh, the fuck you say. It’s non-marine. Those are mud cracks. Look at the sandy aeolian infill, fer chrissake.” Formal? Proper? Detached Doctors of Geology? Not when you’re in the field. It all goes out the window when different opinions collide like subducting plates. “The music of my people!” I said to Morse. “I thought that was the ‘Safety Dance’?” he chided. “We’re a big family. We can have more than one.” I snickered. We’re wandering around the site, with individual purpose. We are looking for or looking at items of interest. We’re hacking at the outcrops. We’re all looking at…things. It’s hard to describe. Get a load of geologists or geology students out of the office, lab, or classroom; stick them out on a bare expanse of heavily weathered rock and it’s simply…numinous. We’re rebuilding worlds here. This rock says this. This rock says that. And you’re not fluent in that dialect. Here, let me interpret for you… We’re at each other’s throats, in the academic-metaphorical sense. Tempers have been known to run hot. There has been the occasional bloody nose or rocks sailing down an outcrop without the obligate “HEADACHE!” call. Hammers and Marsh Picks have ended up swimming without the owner’s knowledge. But once we’re back; settled in the hotel room, tavern, or around the campfire, we’re all a Band of Brothers again. It’s an odd thing to watch; as if you’re not of the clan, you’d need an interpreter. It defies all boundaries: political, sexual, educational, geographical, linguistic, social, et cetera. We’re all geologists first. We share the common scientific bond of Geology. That’s why Geology is the First Science. Plus we tend to drink a serious fucking whole bloody awful lot. We’ve all been on that ‘crawlin’ home puker’. We’ve also been to the ends of the earth: the deepest depths, the highest heights, we deal with the greatest pressures, the hottest temperatures; we’ve been to the mountain, we’ve seen the elephant, and we’ve held a bear’s nose to dogshit. We wear the scars attained in our travels like badges of honor. We’re God-Damned Scientists. Back off, man. Geologist comin’ through. Anyways, I’m looking at the bedding-plane boundaries between the purple unit and the underlying olive-green unit. The upper unit it looks, to me, continental in origin. Fluvial, perhaps. The lower unit is much finer-grained. Marine mudstone, perhaps? But what age? The cadged Korean Geological maps are worse than useless. They never would go down to the outcrop scale. Consulting them, they don’t even note these exposures in a field sense. Myung-dae, who is working about 35 meters down-section from me calls out, “Doctors! Sirs! Look here! I’ve found something!” We all wander over as he is hacking away at the dusty, eroded rock. He stands and dusts off his find. It’s a very large, nearly 1-meter diameter, coiled fossil cephalopod. I wander over for a closer look. Dax, Cliff, Morse, and Ivan do as well. “Blimey! Will you look at that? Outstanding, Mr. Myung!” Cliff says. “Well, that confirms it. This layer, at least, is marine. Look at that suture pattern”, I say, dusting off an unweathered bit. “Look at the radius of coiling.”, Cliff joins in. We’re slowly wresting information out of this silent witness. “Ornamentation?”, Dr. Ivan asks. “Knobs, bosses, and excrutions?” Oh, yes.” In unison, we declare: “Hyphoplites!” Morse adds, “And therefore…these rocks are middle Cretaceous. Marine. Not bad…” “Need to get some samples for geochemical analysis. Dig deep, gentlemen, we need unweathered samples for TOC (Total Organic Carbon) content.”, Dr. Erlen Meyer notes. With that, we have a relative age of the rock, a good idea of its depositional environment, and therefore extent, ideas of field relationships, and an indication of some of its fauna. Could it be source rock worthy? Samples? Best get diggin’, Beaumont. That unit is right smack in the middle of this pile of rocks. Dax and I will work up-section and Ivan and Cliff will work down-section. We’re going to see what lies above, what lies below, what trends we can discern, and develop an idea of what happened here some 100 million years ago. This is what happens when you get geologists out in the field with the proper amounts of field gear, outcrops, and alcohol. Overall, the deeper down-section, and therefore, earlier in geological time you go, the more marine the rocks are. Conversely, the higher you go in the column, i.e., up-section, into younger rocks, the more continental it appears. We find fragments of marine fish fossils, sea-crocodile scutes and teeth, heaps of mosasaur coprolites, i.e., fossil shit piles, and other indications that the lower, older rocks are Lower Cretaceous ocean basin-fill. But up higher; we find mud cracks, rain prints, land turtle shells, land-snails (Bellerophontid gastropods), and what may actually be a fossil feather. All indications of a more continental, i.e., fluvial (river), floodplain, lacustrine (lake), and paludal (swamp) deposition. That’s my particular bailiwick. I’m ‘elephant walking’ along the upper outcrops looking for fossils. You basically bend over at the waist and sweep from left to right as you take exaggerated step after step, scanning the ground looking for…well…it takes years, but once you see it, you never forget it. “Fossil sign”. A disjunct endemism. Something not in situ. Something out of place. A bit of a different, out of context color. Out of context texture. Out of context size. Out of context context. Something that looks like it shouldn’t ought to be there. I’m picking up 1 cm. square hunks of what look like an ordinary rock. I taste them. Well, I stick them to my tongue. If it liquefies and runs away, it’s ordinary mudstone, shale, or the like. If it sticks…well, it might just be fossil bone. “PTWTWOO!” “Damn right, Rock”, Cliff says from behind me, “Fucking North Korea tastes terrible.” “Still, it’s the best way I know to…” I paused. “Got something?” Cliff asked. “Look here.” I said, “Anthill. Big, nasty buggers. Look around the edges. Pieces of flat, cream-colored rock on this gaudy purple stuff. Tongue test? They stick like cockleburs. Let’s look upslope, see if there’s a drainage…” There it was, a nice little drainage incised about 1.5 meters deep into the nearly horizontal rocks we were walking on. “Any float?” I asked. “Not yet,” Cliff said. We followed the weak, little drainage that was cut into the outcrop, up another couple of meters. There were very scrappy, very small, very scattered pieces of that same cream-colored rock. Some were ornamented with a scroll-work or some sort of striations. Most un-geological. More biological. We followed the trail, up here, around here, over there. Cliff noticed it first, a soccer-ball sized lump of completely out-of-place crème-colored ‘rock’ working its way out by gradual erosion of the variegated pastels of the continental rocks upon which we were treading. I got there first and began to clear the area with my Estwing. “Careful. Careful”, Cliff admonished. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mind your Mincies. [Mince pies = eyes]”, as I’m swinging away at the reluctant, reticent, rocks. The excavation grew, slowly. From the rounded dome, we could see small sutures that had developed… Then condyles, fenestrae, then more ‘bone’. Then a jaw, teeth, vertebrae… “HOLY DOUBLE-DAMN SHIT!” I tootled my air horn. We needed the group to see this. It was a skull. A dinosaur skull. A small, non-avian dinosaur skull. Everyone has crowded around and looked at the small quarry we had just built. “Whatcha got, Rock? Cliff?” Joon asked. “Fuck me, but I think we’ve got us a dinosaur skull,” I said. Professor Doctor Academician Ivan walked over and cleared the area. As Professor Emeritus, he had pole position priority. “I agree.” is all he said. I cleared the area and let others take a whack at opening up the quarry. We may have been low on power tools, but we had a surfeit of opinions. “OK,” I said, “Let’s look at the facts…”
Age? Cretaceous. Probably lower to lower-middle Cretaceous.
Continental deposits. That’s very fine sand we’re hacking away. Fluvial, without a doubt. Or, possibly aeolian; there’s no such thing as a geological certainty. Dunes? Ephemeral creeks? Low floodplain? Geo-talk… .
Small size. Potentially a juvenile?
Nope. Not a juvie. Sutures are closed, fused. This is, well was, an adult; perhaps a subadult, given its size.
In situ? In place? Or washed in?
Hard to tell when all you’ve exposed is half the critter’s brain box. “Look at that!” Myung-dae exclaimed, “Squamosal bones and the inner parietals…temporal fenestrae. It had a frill; a small one.” “OK,”, I said, looking closely at the exposed scrappy remains, “Fucking-A Bubba. Nailed it.” I said, giving him the thumbs up. “Ceratopsian. Look at those greens-grinder molars. There’s some small osteoderms on the skull; knobby old bastard. Early critter.” I continued. Others looked around and confirmed my observations. “Reminds me of Protoceratops from when I was back in Mongolia,” I said. Dax chimed in with, “Looks something like Psittacosaurus from back in the Cretaceous Belly River of Canada.” Drs. Ivan and Morse agree. “Most assuredly. It is definitely proto-ceratopsian. Young adult, as Dr. Rock notes by the cranial sutures. Do they have a record of proto-ceratopsians here?” Myung-dae replies, “I have read reports of Korean proto-ceratopsian found in South Korea. Not long ago, 2019, it is called…ah… Auroraceratops. It is a genus of bipedal basal neo-ceratopsian dinosaur.” “Bipedal?” I query. “Well, there’s a fine how do you do. All the proto-ceratopsians I’ve known were obligate quadrupeds.” “Well”, Ivan, Dax, Cliff, and Morse agree, “That should give the shiny suit squad something to report. That’ll keep them the hell out of our hair for a while.” We photograph each step as we excavate the critter. It’s more or less in situ, buried where it fell. Probably killed by a sand slip off a dune, or a river sandbar slip and burial. It’s not complete, but we do have the skull and a good portion of the post-cranial elements to about just before the pelvis. A good pectoral girdle, skull, jaw, frill, forelimbs, forefeet…easily half-a cute little herbivorous dinosaur. About the size of a smallish Highland Coo or large Great Dane. We flag it with the team particulars, it’s GPS position, and carefully rebury the animal. We don’t have any of the equipment nor time to excavate it properly, but we can conserve it. Of course, we’ll be informing the proper authorities of our discovery. I have an absolutely ancient Polaroid instant camera. Before re-internment, I take several pictures of our “Koreasaurus”, as we’ve dubbed the animal, with items for scale; like a hammer, cigar, and oddly enough, a photographic scale. Then I get a photo of the whole crew standing around, drinking warm beers from their individual day packs, smiling about the find ‘they‘ made. We hear the melodious tootle of the bus’s horns. We make sure to pack out all our trash and wander back to our terrestrial transport. “You were gone too long!” the chief shiny suited character goes all ballistic on me. “Watch yourself, Herr Mac.”, I calmly said, “You’re going to burn your nose on my cigar.” “You left without your handlers…err…guides!” he fumed. “Hey, Scooter. Cool out. We’re geologists. We never get lost.” I said. It sometimes just takes us longer to get back than it took us to leave… “Your impertinence will be reported.” He smoldered. “Report this, Mother Chuckler”, I observed and held out the pictures of our newly discovered Koreasaurus. “Show those photos to your handlers,” I said in a mocking tone. “We found a brand new species of God-damned dinosaur for you geezers. It took us less than two hours. You can spin it that it’s a new, never-before-seen species of very specialized dinosaur found right here in beautiful Korea del Norte. Be quite the scientific coup, don’t you think? Trust us. We won’t say anything.” He immediately shut up and went into conference with the rest of the shiny suit squad. “Doctor”, one of the clan covert asked, “This is a new dinosaur?” I had a thunderbolt of an idea. “Oh! Yes, it is. I’d stake my reputation on it. You’ve had no concerted search here for the beasts and well, with the normalizing of relations between your country and the world, it allowed your specialists to perform real science. In fact, on the bus is the young North Korean geoscientist who made the discovery.” I said. “Give me a minute. I’ll go and get him. I think he was off taking a shi…ah, using the lavatory. Just give me a minute.” I did have an idea. A wonderful idea. A wonderfully evil idea. Back on the bus, I ordered the doors closed. “Gentlemen! Ears and eyes! Please.” I said loudly. Continuing… “The shiny suits have their knickers all a-twist because we don’t want to listen to them; the assholes. Fuck that. I’ve got an idea. Let’s make our young acolyte here, Mr. Myung-dae Soo, a national hero. He would probably get his ass in a crack for sneaking on board the Western bus today the way he did. Well, double fuck that. Let’s all say he found the dinosaur. Let him take the glory for the homeland. No one else will ever need to know.” I said smiling. “Fuck Yeah! You bet! Замечательное! Ihmeellisiä! Maravilhoso! Geweldig!” Good to know we’re all on the same page. Geologists. You can always count on them… “Mr. Myung-dae Soo? Front and center. Time to go and become ‘Hero of Best Korea’.” I smiled. He was absolutely terrified. “Doctor…I …don't…wait…no…” he stammered. Cliff, Dax, Ivan, and I trotted him out to confront the shiny suit squad. “Don’t worry, Myung. We’ve got your back. Trust us.” I said in a low conspiratorial tone. The shiny suit squad turned as one and gave Mr. Myung the Stink Eye treatment. “Here you go. The man of the hour. Mr. Myung-Dae Soo, young geologist and up and coming paleontologist.” I say loudly and with the utmost honor. They look at him and the Korean erupts in rapid-fire staccato bursts. Cliff just wanders in and interjects, “Yes. Righto. Top form. Found the float. Tracked down that dino like he was on safari. Highest marks. Good man!” Dax adds more fuel to the fire. “Like he knew where to go, knew where to look. He’s a natural.” Dr. Academician Ivan blustered forth: “Excellent scholar. Excellent field man. Banner geologist.” I couldn’t have added more. The shiny suit squad was gobsmacked. I asked Myung-dae what they were saying. “They were talking about reprisals. Reporting to authorities. Then, they stopped. You have them completely confounded.” He said. “How so?” I asked, quietly. “Between an international incident where we don’t listen to our handlers and this potential important scientific discovery.” Mr. Myung-dae reported, trying hard to parse the evolving situation. “Yes”, I added to Ivan’s bluster. To the shiny suits: “I’ve worked as visiting Dinosaurian Vertebrate Paleontology Curator at all the major American museums. This is a find quite unlike anything known. It is a watershed discovery. It will help unravel the evolution and distribution of the clan Dinosauria for the whole Korean Peninsula. Perhaps, even with international impact on the recent finds in China.” I laid it on with a trowel. I hit all the buzzwords. “Yes. Yes, perhaps.”, the head shiny-suiter said. “I will report this bit of very good news to the proper authorities. Myung-dae, with us. We require more information.” “Ah, we’d prefer him to ride in back with us if you don’t mind. Scientific courtesy, old man. He needs to be classically de-interviewed after such a find.” I insisted, making certain I stand as tall, wide, and menacing as possible while smiling like a damned Cheshire cat, one smoking a very large cigar. “Very well. We are not far from our evening stop. We can talk later.” He agreed. We all moseyed, laughing silently, back to the bus; literally supporting our young hero Mr. Myung-dae as he seemed to have gone all wobbly of late. Myung-dae was ashen-white. He looked like he had just given birth to a basketball. He was visibly shaking. We get on the bus and I whip up a stout Yorshch for the young hero of the hour. “Here! This is for you. If you’re going to be a world-class geologist, you’d damn sure better start acting like one.” I smile broadly. There were hoots, cheers, and cat-calls. Beers were popped, bottles uncorked; cigars, cigarettes, and pipes lit. “Damn Skippy!” some anonymous reveler added. Myung-dae slurped a good half the drink. I offered him a cigar. He stopped shaking enough to accept the novel offer. Remember “crawlin’ home puker”? He’s taken his first step into a larger world. OK, just to recap. Here are the dramatis personae left on the bus… Bus driver (Kim) and his relief (Won). My team and I. That’s 11 Western geoscientists: Morse, Cliff, Volna, Ack, Viv, Graco, Erlen, Dr. Academician Ivan, Joon, Dax, and myself. Then there are our guides: Yuk, No, Man, and Kong. Our stowaway hero geologist-in-training: Myung-dae Soo, aka, “Mung”. And the four members of the shiny suit clan: Pak, Mak, Tak, and Jak. At least, that’s the names we used when we addressed them. The bus was rumbling down the deserted highway. We were headed more or less due east, passing the occasional Potemkin Village. They knew we cracked their code long ago, so they didn’t bother with darkening the windows any longer. We are passing a series of highway road cut outcrops. We’re only going approximately 35 or 40 miles per hour. Suddenly, Morse jumps out of his seat and runs up to the driver. “STOP! STOP! Back up! We almost missed it!” he barks in heavily Russian inflected English. The driver, shaken to the core, just slams on the brakes. The bus grinds to a stop. Good thing there’s no traffic out here. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Jak of the suit clan jumps up and asks “What is the problem?” “How could you miss that?” Morse shouts. “Huge fault. Mineralization. I saw that from a glimpse. We must return to investigate.” “Is not possible. We have appointment at the hotel.” Jak replies. “Fuck that!”, Morse shouts. I guess he’s just really into faults… I wander up and try to defuse the situation. “OK, guys, cool out. Let’s be reasonable. Do it our way. Go back to that road cut. We spend a half-hour there then we go on to the hotel. The hotel will still be there when we arrive, won’t it? Even if we’re a bit late?” I ask. Jak looks to Pak, who converses with Mak and Tak. They know they’re outgunned. The driver shifts the bus into reverse and we back down the luckily deserted highway over a mile to the outcrop in question. We had to admit, it was a mother beautiful normal fault. In perfect, textbook cross-section. Morse and Joon were on it like white on rice; given the mineralization along the fault plane. All sorts of implications for the thermal and geological history of the area. But with just one exposure like this, more or less just a real interesting geo-oddity. We spent precisely 30 minutes at the exposure, and when our handlers requested we re-board and head to the motel, we complied like nice, normal sort of folks. I believe the appropriate maxim here is: “Lull them into a false sense of security…” Once more down the road we travel. Beers popped, bottles uncorked; you know, the usual. Forty-five minutes later, we pull into, I kid you not, a replica US of A 1950s Motor-Inn. “Mr. Myung”, I ask, “What the hell is this?” To be continued…
Tons of posts are asking about this town (mine included), so I decided to go through the /kelowna history and put all the responses in a central place. It can be a guide for visitors and Kelowna newbies in general. All the information has been gathered exclusively from posts here. If you'd like to add anything to the list, or see any errors, reply below and I'll add it to the main post below. (Mods, if this is long-term useful, you can sticky it.)
Activities & Things To Do
Swimming pools (see Swimming Pools below)
Gaming (see Gaming section below)
Live music (see Live Music below)
Go-karts, arcade games, and mini golf at Scandia
Karaoke at Creekside pub
Play pool at McCullough pub
Bowling at McCurdy
Indoor rock climbing at Gneiss and Beyond the Crux
Sushi classes at Start Fresh Kitchen
Start to finish pottery at That Pottery Place
Crafts at the New Art Collective space.
Comedy at Dakoda's (Open mic night Thursday 7pm, $5 show at 9pm, Friday and Saturday at 7pm & 9pm)
Comedy at Dunnenzie's ("Big Slice Of Comedy", a pay-what-you-want show Wednesday at 7pm)
Indoor batting cages at The Yardhouse (on Spedding Court)
Camping (see Camping below)
Hiking (see Hiking below)
Fly fishing (see Fly Fishing below)
Snow skiing & Snowboarding (see Skiing & Snowboarding below)
Go up to postil and find one of the large, open fields. This works better in the snow because it's more comfortable to lie on than dirt, but one can get creative if need be. Bring a tarp and blankets and warm clothes, fire supplies and snacks optional. Pretty much bed down under an open sky with zero light pollution, and watch the stars.
Ice Skating at Adventure Skate Trail at Apex in Penticton, Big White
Corn mazes (O'Keefe Ranch, etc)
Hay rides at MacMillan Farms
Tubing and Snowboarding at Big White
Drive from Lake Country to Vernon, then take Westside road back from the North Okanagan.
"The drive down this route beside the lake is one of our favourites. Stop at the salted caramel on the way for some good treats and coffee."
Beaver lake area. Car camping OK. Just take a left instead of going into the resort and you'll see the turnoff along the main road.
Peachland lake on the West Side, just above Princeton Rd. Few good sites along the lake to use and there some decent sized trout in the lake. There's a quarry area a lot of people use, but you go to the right along the lake there's some better spots.
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