Dire, Dire Docks


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My generation is nostalgic.

Look around. Packaged memories are everywhere.

They sell us millennium falcons that open beers and t-shirts with our favorite cartoon characters. N64 video game soundtracks have over a million views on youtube. The most common comment is this simple lament: “getting old sucks.”

We’re not old, not yet, but we feel old.

We’ve lived a thousand lives.

I personally have saved a princess form a castle. I’ve battled across the beaches of Normandy and up into Hitler’s evil castle. I’ve even slain a mecha-hitler or two.

I’ve soared through pink and orange cloud kingdoms on the purple wings of a dragon. I’ve explored shipwrecks, swimming deep underwater to collect the blue coins that would recharge my air. I’ve raided temples. I’ve piloted mighty robots. I’ve soared off into the heavens, watched the Galactic Empire’s downfall, hopped from platform to platform on Venus and partied all night long with the kindly Ewoks.

I’ve seen and watched and played and read more than a medieval peasant could ever even dream about.

Such sights I’ve seen. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

I’ve seen it all. We’ve seen it.

We’ve spent our lives living in worlds within worlds.

We grew up on the rug in front of the TV, shooting tortoise shells at cars. We watched John Goodman be an animated dinosaur in New York. We saw what happens when you cross the streams, or when let Ms. Frizzle drive you somewhere, or when you dance with the Goblin King.

More than anything, I think that’s what makes us Nostalgic.

We did so much without doing anything at all.

We got to be kids.

Just kids.

And as an adult, as I sit here at a cheap card table, my right molar hurting from a cavity, I look back on my life and I can see it.

You can see it too, if you just turn around.

There it is, stretching out behind you.

A path.

But it isn’t straight.

It isn’t linear like we thought it was going to be from all the books and movies and games. It’s a mess.

It weaves up and down, around boulders and over streams. There’s some heavy woods, some blinding deserts. Ice flows crack together as the frigid water sloshes across their frictionless surfaces, but the path persists.

It meanders, much like this post.

You track it right up to your feet.

You find yourself here, and now.

It’s night.

Is this it?

It could be.

What was it all for? All this wandering, all the mountains and streams and deserts and ice. What was it all for?

And you think back, back to those days at the dire, dire docks. Collecting coins and stars was your only motivation.

Shrouded in a blue glow, a warm blanket, your mouth agape. It’s not just wonder. It’s not your brain shutting off.

It’s getting lost in something else. It’s that brief moment where you forget that you’re you. You’re Mario the plumber exploring a magic castle. You’re a pokemon explorer snapping pictures of wild monsters. You’re James Bond, armed with his trust pp7 and a license to kill.

You’re a kid living in a land of pure imagination.

The games and movies didn’t matter. Not really

It could have been anything.

But they were our anything.

And so I’v sitting here at this cheap card table. I lean back in my even cheaper chair and I pour a glass of scotch and I think. I think about the old days. About collecting oranges from the trees at twilight. About making water balloons with sister. About sailing playmobile ships across our tiny pool.

There was always a storm. The plastic vessels were nigh unsinkable.

I think about those dire, dire docks, and I open youtube and I search “underwater song super mario 64” and I’m greeted by 154,000 friends who have all come to the same place.

They’re all here to remember.

To remember a time when life was about getting coins.

And swimming around pirate ships.

And for a little bit.

Just for a little bit.

We’re someone else.

All of us.

We’re nobody.

And we float in that blissful dream, carried down the currents to the dire, dire docks.

It couldn’t stay buried forever forever forever


In lieu of posting anything new, though I am working on some stuff, I’ve decided to do my last repost from my old blog.  I wrote this in 2010 during the men’s world cup.  It was pretty much my first post like the ones I post now, with pictures and everything.  Hope you like it.

Power Leg(s)!

In anticipation of the World cup, my roommate and I have been, as we call it, practicing soccer, or, as onlookers call it, flailing about like idiots. It has been a wonderful way to spend my afternoons, apart for the swarms of gnats that seem to think my head is an all you can land buffet. It isnt. Unfortunately, I have recently come down with a self diagnosed condition I like to call “Soccer leg.” Since I am right footed, my right leg has been infused with incredible power while my left leg has resigned itself to wither away in disuse. The problems with this are twofold: firstly, my right leg is slightly larger and more buff than my left and scientists speculate that if the current trend continues my right leg will continue its unparalleled growth and, I fear, end up absorbing my left leg, much like a fratricidal twin in the womb, and I will be left with one all-powerful Gargantuleg. Secondly, as I discovered today whilst running, the extra use that has given my right leg it’s strength also weakens it after a soccer practice, and around a mile into my run I found myself with an over-exerted right leg. This was my left legs chance! It desperately wanted me to press on, but sadly for me (and for my left leg) all I could manage was a swift hobble, which is slower than a lethargic stroll. All seemed lost. It was not however a total waste, for my slowness of pace did allow me to take note of my fellow “runners” and I, like any insane person would have done, began to categorize them into several Archetypes, 5 of which i will display now.

The Running Archetypes
A study by Charles Brock
1. Fat Woman With Dog
The first person one sees on a running path is always a fat woman. With a dog. They seem to congregate around the beginning of paths and never stray father than the middle. Pink of face and heavy of step, these woman are oft found with comically large water bottles and are always in some sort of pink exercise attire, most likely bought at the same store. Why they have the dog is a mystery to me. It’s not like they are taking a stroll down MLK blvd or the DMZ between the two Koreas. What use is a dog? The dogs themselves are seldom terrifying, or even worrisome. Their stature could best be described as bite-sized. I began to think that every obese woman just naturally brought a dog everywhere they went, be it walking on a path, McDonald’s, surgery or any number of other activities. But then I became aware of some fat women heading towards me with no dogs at all. This puzzled me for quite some time, because i seemed to remember that these women used to have dogs. Where could they have gone? And then I realized that the main difference between obese women with and without dogs wasn’t something tangible, it was merely a matter of time. For you see, they headed down the trail with their furry friends in tow, yet they returned with nothing but full(er) bellies. They had been eaten!
2. The Inexplicable Children
The inexplicable children are possibly the most baffling archetype of all. They are simply kids, wandering about on the running trail for no reason whatsoever, and doing nothing apart from being bothersome. If someone tripped over a child they could seriously injure themselves! These kids are just wandering about with no supervision whatsoever, getting in everyone’s way. I mean, who fucking does that?? Who lets their kids wander around a running path by a busy road?? If I were a child molester, my job (hobby?) would have been made laughably easy by these inept parents. They would take to being kidnapped like daisies to a plucking…
Moreover, who are these children? Where did they come from? Where are their parents? Why are they galavanting about on a running path? The answer to these questions, however, lie in the same place as the answers to the questions of Lost: nowhere.
“You mean you actually watched the whole thing? LOL!”
3. Bike Guy
The second most feared archetype in the outdoor fitness world, this guy doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything except biking and pissing people off. He will run you down as if you were the little kid in gladiator and not even think twice about it, and there is no Russel Crowe to exact revenge for you (probably). For some reason he prefers to bike on paths too narrow to pass obese walking dog ladies, or even regular runners/strollers/squirrels/anything. And yet he does pass…with a vengeance. Most often when bikes are coming up on you, you hear the clank of metal or the bike chain or something, but not when this asshole approaches. When this guy comes up on you, you’ll only know it by a whoosh of air to your left, an unexplainable bike which has just appeared 20 meters in front of you and is receding at a breakneck speed, and a vague feeling that you should be dead but have somehow narrowly avoided your fate. Since I didn’t have my scanner with me I couldn’t get an accurate reading when a bike guy passed by me today, but his power level must have been somewhere in the range of 9000!
But there was no way that could be right…
4. Out of Place Couple
Most people come outside to exercise, but not these guys. Normally a middle aged husband and wife, these people may not be burning the calories, but they like to pretend that they are. They dress up in sporting paraphernalia and have water bottles, so they areexercising, right? They often wander side to side on the path in unpredictable patterns that can be hazardous to other trail users.
5. The Silver Bullet
The most feared man in the running world, the silver bullet is indeed a force to be reckoned with. He is faster than many runners will ever be in their prime, and the dude is 90 something years old! Like the bike guy, the only thing keeping the silver bullet alive is the constant movement and endorphin rush of running, and run he does. Faster than the dreaded Cassowary, the silver bullet can even reach speeds fast enough to travel back in time! Who could make it so that you were never born. Or he could be your father. Perhaps he is everyone’s father. Who can know except for him? Some even attribute near magical powers to him, akin to the force. Be afraid.

“Skateboarding on my sidewalk, you young rascals? FEEL MY RAGE!”

And in the end it doesn’t really matter


As we enter into the last 6 days of camp I find it interesting to reflect upon the changes from the first several weeks, when the campers feared and respected me, to now, where they, to put it simply, don’t.  They have realized that I am all bark and no bite, I’m serious 23% of the time, I am more scared to take bad campers to the office than they are to go to the office and that, for the most part, I just don’t care anymore.  The children have gone from this

I love camp! And Bears! Hooray!

To this

I love to cause nothing but misery. Oh, and fuck camp.

Incidentally, that Santa Clause is one of the most disturbing pictures i have ever seen.  Anyway, I just dont care anymore.  On the playground today Timmy, damn him, found a wasps nest secreted under the slide on the jungle gym… or whatever those things are called now.  Giant metal and plastic play fort with slide.  Accident machine.  Law suite.  Whatever.

“Charles, um, there is a wasps nest under the slide” he told me as i reclined on a picnic table, hoping that just such a thing as wasp nest discovery wouldn’t happen.  I had been an uneventful day for me up till that point.

“So don’t go near it.”  I replied, not even looking up.  This logic, however, was completely lost on timmy.

“Yes buuuut…. it’s a wasp’s nest and I am a seven year old boy and am therefore compelled to go over and bother it with no regards for my personal safety.  If, however, i am injured I will of course blame it all on you and cry.  FOREVER.

A terrible sense of doom shivered down my spine as timmy turned away from me, a wry smile on his face and a wicked song in his heart.  Damn him.  I sat up and shouted.

“HEED ME CAMPERS!  I WANT IT TO BE UNDERSTOOD THAT NO ONE WILL GO NEAR THE WASP NEST.”

“A wasp nest, you say?” inquired Jimmy, turning away from the pile of dirt or whatever he was fucking playing with and looking straight at me.

“YES! THE ONE UNDER THE SLIDE!” I called back

“What slide?  Where?” he asked”

“THAT ONE!” I said, pointing “And just there, between the second and third joint, just to the left of that shiny bolt.”

“Indeeeeed,” mused jimmy as he left the dirt alone and began to stroke his chin contemplatively.  He walked over the slide and began to poke the nest with a stick or something.

“Yeah that one.  NO ONE GO NEAR THE ONE THAT JIMMY IS FOOLISHLY PRODDING WITH A STICK.  OK?”  No one seemed to listen. It was as if the slide was a giant electromagnet and all the children were bars of iron.  They slowly floated over to the slide, looks of awe upon their faces for they and they alone, had been blessed with a chance to see wasps, real wasps, in a nest under a slide.

“Oh well.  I suppose i fulfilled my contractual obligations in this particular instance.”  I said to my fellow counselors, who nodded sagely.

“In my opinion,” said one of them as the children began to pelt the nest with mulch and small stones, “a good stinging is just one some of these kids need.  Teach them a thing or two about wasps!  And life!  If you throw stones at something, you can expect the thing you throw stones at to be fucking angry.  I think that’s a chinsese proverb or something.”  The other counselors, myself included, nodded sagely a second time and went about our business.  Remarkably, no one got stung.  The wasps stoically took their punishment with an air of grace I had never held their species to possess.  All that happened that day on the playground was that the children had fun and a little bit more of my soul died, much like Voldemort when harry and his annoying friends kept destroying his horcruxes.  Poor Voldemort.  All he wanted was to be loved.

And seriously, who couldn't love that face?

All in all it was a typical day at camp….

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