May 27, 2020
Before we move on with the countdown, I thought I would share the virtual mooking accident that took place a few days ago when I went to scoop a giant load of freshly mixed virtual mook and the shovel slipped and gashed into my shin, leaving me to bleed out. Ammm! Blut Aus Nord’s “Procession of the Dead Clowns” played a noxious tune in the distance as I heard some fallen angles stumble into Hell. A callous sigh escaped through the gash and the leaves silently quivered with joy as my life-sustaining fluid nourished them.
5. Team TWAT
It was established during the Deathtrap 3000 clustermook of 2012 that two mookers working as a team would hence be referred to as: TWAT (Two Working As a Team). Deeply proud to be a party to the formation of this rare alliance, a TWAT team was defined as a profoundly intricate working unit that forms when a deep relationship is fashioned between the mookers and the mook. TWATs have a deep understanding of the mook, a deep commitment to the mook, and the most disciplined minds that enable full manipulation of the mook and all that is holy therein. A TWAT is normally created in the conventional sense with a Mook Master and a Mooker (i.e.: The Rule of Two, borrowed from the order of the Sith); the Mook Master embodies the power and skill he has acquired with the mook, and the Mooker the role of the protégé that craves his master’s knowledge. Although it doesn’t always work this way. There have been other instances of TWATs where there’s not a clear master, just a special alliance (Quanda and Que Pasa come to mind). Three mookers working as a team can also configure a TWAT, though this this has never been successfully achieved and would upset the Rule of Two. Whatever this configuration detracts from the natural advantages consistent with the Rule of Two, it makes up for by providing the possibility of leverage.
Another caveat… there can only be one TWAT on the squad at any instance in time. If signs of two or more forming TWATs emerge, the Mason or the Mook Master must evaluate the competency of each TWAT, and eliminate the TWAT(s) displaying the least skill. If a TWAT is operating under the guise of a TWAT, this is permissible and even encouraged. Multiple mookers working together is efficient. However, these TWATs are still considered phonies.
The formation of a TWAT allows us to segment into the institution of the time-honored motivational strategy perfected by Senor Jefe: “The Wounded Racoon.” This is a tactic employed by a Mason or a Mook Master that drives productivity by disparaging fellow mookers or phony TWATs and making them appear pitiful on the job. The disparaged mooker becomes “The Wounded Racoon.” Applying basic psychology, the Wounded Racoon will then boost the confidence and self-worth of the other mookers, effectively increasing the productivity of the Squad and functioning TWATs, and if executed properly, the Wounded Racoon will even be motivated to boost his own performance and refine his mooking skills to compete with the other mookers who see him as a pitiful failure.
I reminisce dreamily of the formation of the first TWAT, high on the unstable boards of the first Deathtrap. Truly something special was born. Alas, Jennifer Call moved on to bigger things in life (entomologist for BASF), and has forsaken us in her new pursuits. Yes, her sister is an animal rights activist, and Jennifer makes a living dissecting insects for pesticide research. Oh the ironies in life! Wonder if she’s ever seen a chicken choker?
4. Jefe buys the doombox
This one’s dear to my heart. I won’t get too far into the unfortunate preceding events, but suffice to say on this particular day the team was in a low place and we were handling adversity we hadn’t dealt with before. Those who were there know that I’m referring to the Black Lake mauling, i.e.: the restaurant by the lake that aided and abetted a robbery that claimed, among many other belongings, the 6th generation iPod classic w/ 160 gb of doom that had fed our starving souls on jobsites since 2010. By 2016 Apple had halted the manufacturing of non-touch screen iPods with 160 gb of memory, so I knew to replace it I would have to scour the used electronics market… a risky proposition. Also stolen was a mini amp and the aux speakers I’d picked up at a market in Guatemala (RIP speakers 2010-2016). Those aux speakers were truly something special. Line-in, no power, no charging, no volume control… no play time limitation. They’d blast doom forever. We found ourselves mourning as a team, mixing mook and lifting blocks to the heavens with nary a doom tune in the airways.
I can thank Marco Francisco and Senor Jefe for remedying this tragic situation. Senor Jefe for allowing me to commandeer his less robust but still adequate iPod. I think it had a measly 16 gb of storage capacity… all used to store gospel tracks and inspirational pop & praise CCM which I promptly erased and loaded down with the foulest doom known to man. Marco Francisco for telling Jefe under no uncertain terms that we needed a replacement portable speaker system ASAP and to apportion team funds for the acquisition. Maynor led the way to an electronics tienda where the purchase was made for the machine that would soon become known as the Doombox (2016-present) after the speaker system was tested in front of the merchant behind the jail bars with Worship’s Terranean Wake II – The Second Coming Apart. Oh yes… from its genesis the speakers blasted the crushing despair of crumbling pillars, barren wastelands and torrid winds… quenching our thirst and revitalizing our spirits from the funereal depths of despondency and sorrow. Our pallid skin flushed red, and we were whole again. Daniella promised 10 hours of playback on one charge, and the machine hasn’t wavered once.
And you can’t say I never played Worship music. Long live the Doombox.
3. Sam takes Hans and I for ice cream
One of my fondest memories.
A couple months before our first trip Jefe and I and maybe some others met up with Sam and the crew from Aiken. Sarah Webb, Erin Harris, Morgan ?? and Allison Kelly. Sam promptly designated me as his ‘driver’. I wasn’t sure what he meant other than muleing, but come to find out that meant taxying Daniella home in the Expedition every night after dinner. Keep in mind at the time I didn’t have any kind of license to legally operate a vehicle on the roads down there (guess it doesn’t really matter cause the law is just a suggestion in the bush), nor any experience driving in a foreign country, but I quickly adopted Sam’s thinking… “who cares?” Solo se vive una vez. Right amigo? I asked him if my old buddy Hans could tag along with us so every night after dinner Hans and I would alternate taking the wheel, carting Sam and Daniela around town. Sam would show us some of the local spots. He’d instruct us how to drive in the bush. I.e.: pass everyone and honk on the way by. He’d tell us about his adventures in Indonesia, etc. Hans and I would drag it out as long as possible just to stay in the air conditioning. The Expedition could get colder than a warlock’s newtsack dragged across the clavicle. A few times after dropping off Daniella he had us stop at the ice cream shop on the corner, where main street Quimistan intersects with Holy Road Highway, and we’d go in and eat our ice cream and mingle with the locals. Best we could anyway, as Hans and I couldn’t speak ten words of Spanish. That never really mattered though. Looking back now, the time spent with Sam was what mattered.
The relentless procession of time
slips through the sandglass
drawing ever closer the end of hours
yet, in these silent moments,
I treasure the stillness as sapphire
Fell Voices, 2010, Rekevics
We miss you Sam.
2. Jefe’s roast
Marco Francisco approached some of us early in the trip in 2017 with the idea of giving Senor Jefe Pastor Rey a ‘casting off’ of sorts. My co-worker Nicole Dickson wrote a book called Casting Off years ago, cleverly drawing metaphors in the text to knots used in knitting (in knitting, ‘casting off’ is the final process of drawing the last thread of yarn through the last stitch, finishing a work. I.e. … tying the last knot). This is sort of where we were with Chris in 2017.
We had known it was coming for a couple years. Once he was ordained as a minister, he was on borrowed time at WUMC. One of many repercussions, as it would turn out, was uncertainty surrounding the future of our international mission trips. We were on an eight-year run in ’17, and, at least speaking for myself, I went into ’17 thinking there was a good chance it would be our swan song. And as the trip progressed I came to terms with it. 2017 was one of my favorite teams. We had a tight group of ten that year. I didn’t know exactly what Mark was thinking at the time but he had something in mind for us on our final night together. He asked me to “be thinking about some stories to tell.”
I can’t speak for the other team members, but riding up those winding mountain roads to La Montanita or Laguna or Tierra Amarilla etc., jamming to Mournful Congregation’s The Book of Kings or Au Champ Des Morts, a brilliant French black metal band translating to “To the Fields of Death” (highly recommended – their debut EP kills) – my head gets to spinning in the most sentimental ways. It becomes really easy to enter tranquil states of self-hypnosis, recalling events previously thought lost. Of course, it also means missing Mater talk about the revolution and the imminent rise of the South. A steep price to pay for exploring those hideaways of the mind. But… thinking about some stories to tell wasn’t a tall order. They came flooding into my mind in torrents. Quickly, the challenge became, “all right, which do I single out?”
Needles to say, when the time arrived, Mark offered some brilliant opening remarks, likening the event at hand to the old Celebrity Roast hosted by Dean Martin, a series of TV specials airing before my time. And needless to say, when my time came to offer up the dumpster fire debacle at the youth yard sale and Chong’s straight drive through Rose Glen’s second story window, I couldn’t find the words. I remember the exact order we were sitting in around the table. Emotions were stirred and tears were shed, and I hated myself afterwards for crapping out on everyone. Looking at it now though through a lens of needed perspective, and two trips later (that’s right – 2017 wasn’t our swan song after all to the Federation’s chagrin), it was undoubtedly one of the most, if not the most, special moments of fellowship we’ve shared together.
1. The concert in La Montanita
We had a weird team in 2016. I guess because it was Quanda and KCs first venture, plus we had Rogaine, plus Colon the choad was with us and still to this day no one knows who that kid was. Plus I had skipped the previous year in 2015 to pay my corporate debt, so it was a completely different team than the last one I’d been on in 2014. Also, 2016 was just a hard year. So I guess that all culminated to make this #1 so special to me.
The last days are usually the most emotional for me. The awards ceremony in Tierra Amarilla and Jefe’s roast, hugging Rosa and her kids goodbye in 2013. Last year Wilbur, Body Pump, Lama, Lucia and I rode down the mountain on our last day in the back of Wilmur’s truck in the pouring rain. We discussed horror franchises. Which is better… Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th (easy answer). Body Pump was laughing so hard at the absurdity of it all she was shivering. Vibrating like an x-box controller… I couldn’t tell if she was crying or just wet. Mater’s hollering out the window of the cab, “is it raining back there?”
Recalling Rutger Hauer’s C-Beam speech in Blade Runner… All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
This La Montanita concert was also on our last day. And it was also a Mater b-day event. Remember at the end of Star Wars Episode VI when the camera cut to different city centers around the galaxy showing the celebrations following the emperor’s overthrow? Well, that’s sort of what La Montanita looked like on the afternoon of Thursday, May 26, 2016, as Mater and Jefe moshed with the kids in the schoolyard and the La Montanitan quartet played us their mariachi strings. Village folks from all around gathered and danced to the music. Marcos already wrote about this but we presented Carlos with a National team jersey. That was one of the brightest moments our team has ever had. The kids played soccer in the streets, and then blew up a beachball, and yelled “PU CHI CAAA!!!” at the tops of their lungs every time it went airborne. I remember watching Mark hug Jerry happy birthday, and wishing Hunter was there to play Wagon Wheel for us. It was the grandest fiesta, at the most needed time. The village leader, the man with the sharp reading eyes, thanked us and wished us all a farewell.
Sometimes it feels like the best moments can’t be truly appreciated without the worst moments. To understand something, you have to understand it’s opposite. Meaning requires context, etc. You can’t appreciate the light without the dark, or vice versa, etc. The Black Lake Mauling made the La Montanita concert what it was.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got folks. I hate we can’t be there. Reflecting on these things has helped a little, but I doubt any of us can say we wouldn’t rather be there. With a little fortune and grace from above, maybe in October we can make some more moments, like tears in the rain.
Marco to resume the helm of this portal tomorrow and he will finish it out. Doom on.