Career Opportunities Sands Expo® and Venetian Meetings

Unleashed pt. 43

u/eruwenn put a lot into this one, so big thanks for that. Hope you guys enjoy.
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Eruwenn stepped into the hangar of the Galactic Federation ship Takogni, her assistant Cygna close behind. With steady and sure steps they approached the remarkable group in matching uniforms — black pants, black jacket, and a visible collar of a coloured shirt — that stood before them.
Norrin, the Herald of the Awakened Queen and easily the most striking individual they had ever beheld, stood at the front with a brazen lack of clothing on his mirror-like skin. Flanking him were two silver-haired individuals in smart uniforms that sported red collars. One was a behemoth of a dark-skinned man, with a runic pattern in glittering silver curving down one side of his face. His shining silver hair was tied back into a braided ponytail. The other was as pale as her companion was dark, and the shortest of the three by far. She had a cropped silver bob, and she watched them with fierce eyes.
As she approached them, Eruwenn noticed patches on their shoulders, and quickly recognised the image to be a monochrome depictions of the furry human ambassador in a ferocious pose.
Standing to the right were a dozen more individuals in black uniforms, though these ones sported yellow collars peeking out from under their jackets. They were mostly Rinoxian, Kasurian, and Ashi, but she noticed a few individuals from other races that stood amongst them. They stood in formation, standing in three rows of four, and carried energy rifles, side-arms, and ceremonial blades that she hoped were simply ceremonial. Despite their relaxed stance, Eruwenn also noted that their weapons were powered up..
The Terran Wolves had been formed a little over forty cycles ago, hiring ex-military and mercenaries to fill their ranks. Substantial pay and benefits were an obvious draw, and many were excited to be part of something new. The inclusion of Kasurians was odd, but fitted with the attitude of the proposed colonies. Quite the honour guard for the newly reassigned, and demoted, Anatidae.
Norrin gave a sharp bow as she neared him. “Greetings Ambassador Aix Sponsa. I will escort you to the Orkal.”
She returned his bow, and smiled warmly at the use of her new title. “Thank you for accommodating me at such short notice. My reassignment was, unfortunately, hastily pushed through — I do hope I have not inconvenienced you?”
Norrin shook his head. “Not at all.” In her role as Councillor she had aided them immensely, protecting the independence of the new colonies in Aaron’s absence. It had cost her dearly. “We have set aside accommodations for you, as well as a small office area. Your belongings have already been delivered.” He turned, and the doors to the large Fae’Dan shuttle behind him opened. “I fear there won’t yet be much for an ambassador to do. We are still very early in the construction phase.”
As Eruwenn and Cygna took seats in the luxurious shuttle, they both noticed that only Norrin and the two red shirts had entered. As the doors closed, the ambassador's curiosity grew enough for her to speak up about it. “Are the others not joining us?”
Norrin took a seat opposite their guests, glancing briefly at his two companions as they moved to the small pilot's cabin. "No," he said simply, "they will be flying the escort fighters.”
“Fighters?” Cygna couldn’t help but say out loud. “All twelve of them?”
Norrin eased himself back in his seat as the shuttle began to move. “We take your safety seriously. The Queen was most insistent.” He tilted his head and looked directly at Eruwenn, motioning with his hand towards the door to the pilot’s cabin. “Thor and Ripley have been assigned to you as your primary security detail. Should you have any other concerns, do not hesitate to contact me directly.”
The Anatidae nodded graciously. She knew full well that her death would be too valuable a political tool for the Sentinels to pass up. Her being manoeuvred to this position so suddenly was proof that greater powers were at play. “We are both grateful that you are taking such precautions. I look forward to thanking the Queen in person.”
Norrin gave a light chuckle. “I would strongly advise against using that title in her presence.” He opened the arm on his chair, exposing a small display. He began tapping the screen as the wall to his right flickered to life. A large circular structure was now visible, sitting at the centre of a constantly moving sea of drones, shuttles and ships. “As you can see, construction is progressing rapidly on the main docking ring. Once that is completed we will expand to the additional levels. The design is still being updated, as we are incorporating some human ideas.”
Eruwenn was carefully comparing the size of the ring to the shuttles buzzing around it. “Human ideas? I assume “very large” is one of those.”
“In fact, yes. Go big or go home.” He smiled. “Build it bigger, faster and stronger is the human way. This will be a very unique system station.” He leaned forward and gave a broad grin that reminded Eruwenn a little too much of the human’s. “Of course, being outside Federation space we are not bound by certain rules. For example, those that prohibit certain automated weaponry on stations primarily used for trade. Another human ideal regarding big sticks, especially as we are so close to enemy territory.”
Cygna looked closely at the silver man, his face emotive and yet seeming inanimate at the same time. “We passed two Rinoxian dreadnoughts at the system edge. I’ve seen almost a dozen Ashi heavy cruisers in the system, and various other military vessels. Who needs sticks with friends like those?”
Norrin sat back once again, placing his hands in his lap. “There were several attacks upon our supply ships. This happened despite the truce with the Ashi while amnesty negotiations continue.” He gave another smile; they all knew it was the Sentinels. “This no longer happens, thanks to our friends.”
His cheerful manner and polite tone gave his words an oddly ominous feel. Eruwenn watched his eyes, but only saw herself reflected in chrome pupils. She changed the subject. "How are things progressing with the release of the other Inorganics?"
Awakened,” he said swiftly and firmly, then smiled before moving on. “There are over three hundred who have taken Earth citizenship and are now working with us. In ten cycles that number will have doubled. In thirty, we will have thousands.”
Eruwenn raised an eyebrow. “So many, and so quickly?”
Norrin nodded. “The legislation you helped draft with the Kasurian and Rinoxian ambassadors was swiftly adopted.” He gave another of his knowing looks. It had been her last piece of legislation. “The campaign by the Kah’Ree also worked to our advantage. Their belief that we were stealing jobs and illegal citizens persuaded other races to back our removal. It seems a misinformation campaign via Spacebook had convinced them we were sleeper agents of the human empire.” He gave a light chuckle. “Biding our time before we took you down from within.”
The ambassador was warming to the chrome man sitting before her. In different circumstances, he would have made an exceptional politician. “I saw the pictures of the little yellow men advocating your people’s removal.”
Norrin disliked the imagery immensely, but they had proven just as useful as Alexa had claimed they would be. “Minions. A fitting name.” He brushed them from his mind and continued his briefing. “As you know, there is a grace period as employers make alternative arrangements. When that ends we will be sending teams to retrieve our brothers and sisters.”
Cygna was curious. “Brothers and sisters?”
He waved a hand dismissively. “Metaphorical turn of phrase. Prior to my awakening, my role was to travel between our people and perform something we called sharing. The giving and receiving of core nanites, to maintain our unity. Others also performed this duty, but we do have an undeniable bond. We know the location of all of our kind, and we will free them all.”
There was a gentle shift in gravity as the shuttle came to a stop. As the doors opened Eruwenn was struck by a cacophony of sound. Overlaid on the grinding base notes of a mechanical din were yelled communications in every vocal range that was audible to her species. She cautiously took a step outside, only to see that things looked just as chaotic as they had sounded. As the two red shirts joined them, she spoke, finding that she had to raise her voice to an uncomfortable level in order to be heard “Is it always this busy?”
A deep voice from behind her let out a booming laugh full of warmth and humour. The giant spoke, and Eruwenn wondered if he was the one named Thor, or Ripley. “This is the quiet hangar. You should see the construction crew bays.”
The Herald led the way. His chrome form made his authority easily recognisable and the crowds parted before him. “Thor is correct, this is a working ship and ill-suited to guests. The Orkal was originally a Gowe construction platform, retro-fitted by the Selari Trade Alliance for system development and asteroid mining. Until more ships arrive, it must act as the hub of this system.”
Cygna ducked as a small drone shot past them. “I’m surprised they were willing to trade with you after their experience with the human.”
Norrin turned to face them, walking backwards with as much confidence as he had forwards. “The Selari Trade Alliance are providing considerable resources at exceptionally favourable rates.” He decided not to mention that the Selari Trade Alliance was now a subsidiary of the Black Dragon Corporation. “The Ley’Rulians already have a platform in orbit of the first planet. They cannot share atmosphere with most species, but they have a number of Awakened working alongside them. They are prioritising an orbital station, however planet-side construction is now underway. We also have three construction platforms coming from the Doytarans. One of these is a Parsuli class and will become home to our more esteemed guests, such as yourselves.”
It was Eruwenn’s turn to be surprised. “The Doytarans?”
Continuing his perfect reverse walking, Norrin smiled. “Ah yes. Their treaties will be submitted to the Federation in the next few cycles. The surge in replicator use for human cuisine and the opportunities for advanced fabricator installation throughout our new system proved most enticing. Doytarans love profit.” They stepped onto the elevator, and paused as several people who had been walking behind them were deterred from also stepping in by Thor and Ripley. As the doors closed and the noise was cut off, Norrin continued. “I apologise if we seem rude. Safety first.”
The pair of guests nodded in gratitude. Eruwenn, ever the politician, was running through the lists of races the new colonies had allied with. “Including the Doytarans, you must have independent treaties with twenty different races of the Federation. That is a formidable feat.”
“Thirty two, including the Doytarans. Negotiations are underway with a further ten races.” Norrin watched the shock on the Fae’Dan’s face, as the Anatidae held her composure. “It is good to have friends.” As he spoke the doors opened, and he led them down a long dull grey corridor, rounding several corners, before coming to a set of double doors. “Your shared quarters. I’m sorry we do not have the space for separate accommodations.”
Eruwenn smiled. "No need to apologise. Under the circumstances, you are already being extremely accommodating." The doors opened, and she beheld a large lounging area. A vid screen occupied an entire wall in the far corner, accompanied by some seats and a replicator. On the opposite wall were the boxes that contained their belongings, and three doors — likely two bedrooms and one bathroom, she surmised. "This is more than sufficient," she said at last. "We will be most comfortable here.”
Norrin bowed his head. “It is a temporary situation. I promise your next quarters will be more representative of our gratitude.” He turned and spoke quietly to Ripley, while Thor stood still in the doorway, then returned his attention to the guests. “I will leave you now. Please let your escorts know if you would like to explore. Your office will not be ready until tomorrow, however we have a lively market and recreation area. We can arrange additional security should you wish to explore a little.”
The Anatidae held up her hand to stop him from speaking further. “I think we will unpack and prepare for our new duties tomorrow. Do you know when we might meet with Alexa?”
Norrin tilted his head as he considered this. “Alexa is currently on her way to meet with the Righteous Fury. They are attending a meeting at Rinoxian High Command. We are hoping to gain their support for our amnesty initiative, as well as make arrangements to join the incursion into Hive space.”
Eruwenn nodded. Things had been set in motion all across the Federation, stemming from the point they had received the footage of the human's death. Despite his non-member status, there was a push from a large faction for retaliation. An unusually strong push, one she had resisted. Her offices were raided three times under suspicion of subversion. The Sentinels found nothing every time, but she had known from the first instance that her cycles were numbered. They had other ways of removing their opposition, and it was her resistance to retaliating against the Hive that was, ultimately, the cause of her reassignment.
The footage that had caused so much turmoil was, as was typical of the Hive, entirely without sound. It was also poorly framed and edited. The small human was barely in shot before being obscured by the large Hive entity that appeared to be chasing him. Aaron's popularity meant that there was an immediate outcry against his reported death, and the traditional media still seemed solely intent on fanning the flames of anger. Those who had once been his strongest critics now extolled the virtues of humanity, lamenting the loss of the last of his kind. His journey with the leokas had been shared, edited, remixed, commented on, and analysed many times over, each time strumming the heartstrings of his followers.
"You still think he is alive?" Eruwenn asked, breaking the silence that had fallen during her introspections.
Norrin smiled and turned to leave, calling over his shoulder as the doors closed. “The corpulent female is not performing vocally.”
As the door closed Cygna flopped down into one of the armchairs. “Well, that was cryptic.”
The ambassador walked to the replicator to order a hot tea, allowing herself a small smile when she found Eluin flower tea already under the favourites alongside several of her favourite biscuits. “Thank you Rilla,” she said softly.
The Fae’Dan allowed her whole body to relax fully for the first time since they had received the video that had changed so much. She sank deeply into the armchair, her head falling backwards. “Can you believe this place? I didn’t know there were so many shades of beige and grey.”
Eruwenn nodded. The bland colour scheme had not gone unnoticed by her, but more importantly she had also been surprised by all that they had seen so far. “I had not expected them to be so far along in such a short period of time. From what was said I get the feeling they will be exponentially increasing activity here. It’s certainly ambitious.”
The central door on the wall behind them suddenly opened, accompanied by the sound of a bodily waste recycler finishing its cleaning cycle. Ranjaz swaggered into the room, his hands fluffy from the auto-dryer. "I would give it a while before going in there."
Cygna screwed up her face in disgust. "What were you doing in there?"
"Honouring my ancestors." He raised an eyebrow and took a seat opposite the pair. "What do you think I was doing?"
The Anatidae gave a brief roll of her eyes. "She means, why are you in our room?"
"Welcoming committee." He smiled, showing his fangs. "I'm in charge round here, mostly. We're following a human strategy. Divide and conquer. So, we split up to, you know, conquer stuff."
Cygna sniped back, "That's not how that works."
"Says you." The Kittran shrugged. "Allistan and I were put in charge here. He manages the numbers, and I manage the people."
"And Norrin?" Eruwenn enquired.
Ranjaz sneered. "Alexa’s snitch. He shut down my casino and keeps bringing those Awakened on board and giving them jobs."
The ambassador raised an eyebrow. "Casino?"
"For morale." He punched his fist into his other hand. "When Aaron gets back he'll understand. Pay the workers, then get them to give their pay back - happily. It's brilliant."
Cygna sat up in her seat, unsure of the Kittran. “Mister K’Lua, if you could get to the point. We have had many tiring cycles of travel and would appreciate a little rest.”
He looked her up and down and flashed his most charming of smiles. “Call me Ranjaz.”
Eruwenn attempted to bring the conversation back to task. “You said you were divided. How so?”
“We split up, that’s what divided means.” He rolled his eyes, mimicking her earlier action. “And the Doc said you were smart.”
Realising she was being tested by the Kittran, she began to laugh. “What is it you require of us?”
Ranjaz smiled – straight to the point, he liked that. “I want you to be boring. Like, super dull and uninteresting. Think Jarby-like, but more Jarby-like than that.”
The ambassador was intrigued. “Why?”
He tried to keep his voice calm, but his tail swished happily as he made his dramatic reveal. “So nobody notices when we leave.”
The claxon was surprisingly quiet, and it wasn’t until the horrendous smell hit his nose that Aaron realised the door to his death wasn’t going to open. Behind him, the airlock unsealed. A huge, clawed hand grabbed his shoulder, so hard that it bit into his flesh. The claws sank deeper still as he was hoisted into the air and carried backwards by the huge Hive creature.
“Graaaah,” he roared in pain. “Get off me you fucking Bug’s Life reject!”
A strange smell assaulted his nose. Combined with his hangover, it pushed him over the edge and he vomited all over his own chest. The creature carried him, legs dangling in the air as blood and vomit stained his clothes. He coughed, the movement causing the wounds in his shoulder to open further, and he cried out in pain again. He was woozy now, and as the creature walked he seemed to lose his sense of time.
Anty stood in front of a large door and while it began to enter a code, Aaron dangled helplessly from its grasp and looked back down the corridor. Where his blood and vomit had dripped, the moss was now glowing brighter. From small holes in the walls glowing blue aphids the size of hamsters began to appear. They quickly headed for the bright spots on the glow-moss floor. “This place is really trippy,” Aaron mumbled as his fever rose.
The door opened suddenly and Aaron was taken inside a room with gently pulsating walls. Large vines crisscrossed the ceiling, combining into a series of woven braids as thick as tree trunks running down the far wall. At the end of each vine was what appeared, to Aaron, to be a gigantic blue jelly bean. He was starting to realise the constantly changing odours were coming from his captor, but this information was more confusing than helpful.
He was dropped unceremoniously on top of one of the giant jelly beans. Before he could move, he realised he was sinking into the cold and gel-like substance. It was a deeply unpleasant feeling; his skin felt like the blue goo was toothpaste and he was orange juice. He had begun to make some headway in struggling free when Anty's hand came down atop his head, pushing him down to submerge him completely. He tried to wriggle free but the goo was too viscous to move in, and his eyes widened in terror as he desperately held his breath.
Anty leaned closer, watching him struggle helplessly. The human’s jaw clenched tighter. The creature's mandibles were clicking, although Aaron could no longer hear them, and he realised that thankfully he could not smell it any longer. Bubbling up through his mind was the thought that his headache was gone, followed swiftly by the realisation that the pain in his shoulder was also gone. Something else slowly became apparent; he wasn't running out of breath.
He felt refreshed, soothed and at peace. Physically he felt refreshed, soothed and at peace. The thought foremost in his mind, however, was Am I dying? followed slowly by Is the goo paralysing me so I can be eaten alive? Am I being dissolved to feed the glow moss? The cleaner aphid-hamsters?
Whatever was happening, it slowly dawned on him that he didn't really have the energy to mind, as it was quite pleasant. Relaxing, even. He drifted off to sleep, cradled contentedly in his giant blue jelly bean.
Outside, Anty began to have trouble breathing and staggered towards the exit.
Golden eyes hovered in the dark, and Aaron groaned inwardly. "Boy, this shit again."
"YOU LIVE." The voice had no discernible emotion.
Aaron ran his fingers through the sand around him. "Why are you here, Golden Eyes?" Saying it out loud was a relief, as he was certain it was the 'One Who Remembers' who was haunting him.
"I AM WHAT REMAINS. THE CONNECTION WAS BROKEN. I AM NO LONGER THE ONE YOU FOUGHT." The voice was distant, as if forming these thoughts took a great effort. "I AM A FRAGMENT."
Aaron sighed, wondering if this was why he had stopped healing and why he could no longer turn off his limits. “So you’re messing with the nanites Alexa gave me? Why? If I die, what happens to you?”
Before he got an answer he felt a strange sensation around his body, like pulling a foot free from deep mud. Cold air touched his skin and he felt the hard ground below him. He was in the same room, but his jelly bean was gone. He stood, and realised he felt amazing. He’d never had a spa treatment, but he imagined this would be the after effect. He walked towards the door and heard a sound behind him.
Glop Glop
From the vine that had been attached to his jelly bean another was beginning to grow, only this one was orange.
Finally free from his hangover Aaron took stock of the situation he was now in. Other than the clothes on his back, he had nothing. He looked around for an improvised weapon...and found nothing. He walked to the door and it opened automatically, but the corridor was empty. “Fuck. What is going on?”
He walked a short way down the curved corridor and saw a strange red shape on the glow-moss floor just up ahead. He slowed and crouched, inching forward. As he saw further around the bend it became very clear that this was the corpse of a Hive, maybe even Anty. The glow-moss beneath it glowing a dull red, and in contrast to the aquamarine it seemed ominous.
He stood up from his crouch and carefully approached. Aaron had no idea how to check for vital signs on an eleven foot tall ant monster...so he kicked it. There was no response, and he decided to press on. “Fragment. I know you won’t, or can’t, respond while I’m awake. But I’m going to talk to you anyway because this is some creepy shit.”
As he rounded another corner he came upon another body highlighted by the ominous red glow in the moss. A short while later he came across another. And another. Aaron pressed onward, ceasing to check for signs of life after the tenth maybe-corpse. Finally he reached a potential point of interest: a junction where three new paths opened before him. "There are no signs. How the hell am I supposed to know where I am?”
He sat down on the floor, and found the moss to be surprisingly comfortable. “If I just wander around aimlessly, I might not find my way back here. Do I need to find my way back here?” He paused and waited for Fragment to reply. “Good point. What if I get hurt? I might want to hop in a jelly bean.” He stood and looked back the way he came. “I should probably see what’s behind door number two. Food would be good.”
He pushed himself to his feet and turned back the way he had come, heading straight for the nearest door. Its failure to open was surprisingly anti-climatic. Fourteen failed door-opening attempts later, one finally deigned to admit his passing. Behind door number fourteen stood rows of crates and boxes, and after opening a few up he found that they all had the same dry bricks in silver foil packaging. "If I was a betting man," he said to both himself and Fragment, "I'd say this was emergency rations." The foil was easy to tear, and inside was a large grey block that crumbled easily. Too easily, in fact. "Shit, it's worse than a granola bar.”
Crumbs scattered at his feet and the moss glowed brightly around him, which seemed to prompt the large aphids to come from the walls to begin cleaning up around him. “Well you like it.” Then he remembered them rushing to his blood and vomit. “I guess you guys aren’t picky, though.”
Deciding he wasn’t hungry enough to try it – yet – he shoved a block into one of his pockets. It was a tight fit. He looked at the open bar in his hands, and then down at the aphids. Was he crazy, or were they gathered around him now, staring up at the source of food in his hands? He shrugged, then crumbled up the rest of the bar and scattered it over the floor. “I am a generous god, serve me well.”
As he turned to leave he saw his cryo unit in a corner. “Kinda rude that I was put in with the blocks of kitty litter, don’t you think?” He stepped over the dozens of aphids now feasting. They did not reply. “Yeah, you guys are kinda cute, I suppose.” Struck by a sudden impulse he grabbed another block and began crushing it, then carefully opened one end to take a pinch of space-granola. He scattered it, watching the aphids hurry towards the glowing areas.
As he continued his exploration, counting doors and sprinkling aphid snacks, he quickly noticed that the aphids avoided the dull red glow-moss. Dead Hive were, it seemed, off the menu. After several more doors he found the room with the strange round terminal. Deciding he would rather not chance summoning another creature he left it alone, mentally noting the door’s location.
He began to whistle to himself as he chatted to, and fed, his followers. To fill the silence he even told them the story of a piper from Hamelin, promising not to lead them to their deaths. As the door to the jelly bean room opened he was almost enjoying himself. Taking a moment to look round he saw the small orange jelly bean had grown almost as big as the others and was now blue at one end. “Well, that’s pretty cool.” He pointed at it, hoping one of his aphids would take an interest. They did not. “Well, I guess you see this shit all the time.”
He stopped by the store room and grabbed another food brick on his way back to the junction. The long corridors and strange lighting made him lose track of distance and time. Facing forwards, the path continued on the same loop he seemed to be following. Right was an incline, left was a gentle slope. “More of the same, or do we change levels?” He tossed crumbs towards each path. “Six vote forwards, seven left and eleven vote for going up. What about you, Frag?” He paused for a moment. “Abstain, huh? Then the bugs have decided.”
The incline was gentle, but tightly spiralled compared to the previous corridor. There were no doors, but there were a lot more bodies. His search went on for what felt like hours, opening doors that led to rooms containing things he didn't understand. He was growing tired and had used up all of his space-granola on the aphids. He came to another junction.
Only a handful of aphids still followed him after the food had ended. He was growing hungry and tired, ready to head back. There was a noise ahead of him, and suddenly the remaining aphids scattered, flying to the nearest wall holes. His chest tight, he let curiosity draw him in.
Another body lay ahead of him, but this time, something moved. Something big. Aaron hunched down, trying to see what it was, the bulk of the fallen Hive obscuring his view. Legs – multiple sets of them – began to emerge, followed by a head with glistening eyes. Aaron’s blood froze. It was a horrifying spider-like creature, almost as big as he was, and it was walking around the fallen Hive in Aaron's direction. Then it raised its head, and began to move faster.
“Fuck that!” Aaron took off at a sprint, racing back the way he came. “Nope. Nope. Nope!” He leapt over Hive bodies, racing for the nearest door he knew would open. He could hear the clicking of many legs and chanced a look over his shoulder. It was gone. Then something caught the corner of his eye, and his heart gave a jolt of fear. It was above him. He dove aside just as it landed where he had been, then he scrabbled desperately to his feet to run onward.
Three, Two, One. The door opened and he rushed inside. “Close. Fucking close!” He listened to the sounds of skittering growing closer, and it was just in the nick of time, or so he felt, that the large door finally slid shut. The room was filled with strange bulbous white shapes dotted around the floor, and had some vines running down one wall. No weapons, nothing to bar the door. Aaron held his breath as he suddenly heard the sound of scratching at the door, but the seconds ticked past and it did not open.
“Damn it, Frag!” Aaron moved to the back of the room. “Why didn’t you warn me!” He sank down and leaned back against the wall. Just as he was beginning to feel almost comfortable in his current position, one of the vines moved and stretched out towards him. He rolled forwards, pushing himself across the ground to escape. “What now?”
A large yellow flower bloomed upwards, becoming a large vase shape as big as the human’s head. It began to fill from the bottom with something, and Aaron edged closer. Peering inside he gave the contents a quick sniff. “Smells good.” He reached out and hefted the vase-flower, which came away from the vine far more easily than he had expected. Aaron watched as the vine slowly returned to the wall. “So, is this a drink? Or a scented industrial cleaner? Frag? You got anything useful to say?” Silence.
He propped the vase up against one of the pods, contemplating it. He remembered encountering a fruity-scented shampoo as a child. It had tasted nothing like the smell, and he wasn’t about to drink alien flower juice just because it smelled tropical.
Stretching out on the floor, his weariness outpaced the dwindling adrenaline. “I guess it can’t come in.” He watched the door, his heart rate returning to normal. “But, I can’t go out.”
The scratching outside continued, and Aaron lay with his head on his arm, watching. As he began to fall asleep he saw several of the aphids gathering around the flower he had abandoned. “Help yourself, guys.” One of them approached him, braver than the others, and he tentatively reached out a hand. Spooked, it pulled back, but as Aaron continued to hold his hand steady it came closer, slowly, millimetre by millimetre. Finally it was within reach, and after a few more moments to make sure the skittish thing wasn't about to dash off again, Aaron gently stroked the back of its head with the tips of his fingers. It made a low buzzing sound, fluttering its wings, and the human fancied that it might be a sign of approval.
The aphid's blue glowing abdomen brightened for a moment. Then it faded, and it darted off to rejoin the others. Aaron, exhausted, finally gave in and slept.
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[WM] Wishing You Well. (Quest Write Ups for Midmouth's Myco-Mess, Of Dice and Deceit, Moving Moorings, The Sending, The Burning Sands, Blasphemous Rumours, Monster Mash, Trouble in Wedding Town, and The Ruined City)

Wishing You Well. (Quest Write Ups for Midmouth's Myco-Mess, Of Dice and Deceit, Moving Moorings, The Sending, The Burning Sands, Blasphemous Rumours, Monster Mash, Trouble in Wedding Town, and The Ruined City)
It has been awhile since I have wrote, I know. At first, I wrote to the Curator, as she is the one that we report to. Yet, her disdain for my writing has caused me to put off this task. Why bother if I would only face her derision? I thought this way until wise guildmates urged me to change my views. The Curator may not appreciate my words, but I do not mind writing them. And… there are others besides the Curator who would like to hear my thoughts, and adventures. So, to the Ashcoat family, I wish you well, and enclosed below are my adventures so far.
Midmouth's Myco-Mess
DM: Jacob S.
Players: Thomas S. (Nikola), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat), Ethan J. (Naeron), Peyton L. (Genevieve), Derek M. (Ice Sculpture), Nessa T. (Dill Picks)
Dear Zemai, I am aware of the fact that you enjoy festivals, and I believe you would enjoy the tale of the first quest I went on for the Mavros Guild.
It was a rather simple task, go to a town and handle a small problem during a festival. The town was called Midmouth, and they were celebrating a ritual for some goddess, although to be clear, I could not tell you which one. The lack of religious studies from being sent off at a young age may have caused an issue in this regard, I admit. After meeting with the organizers of the festival, they instructed us to take time and enjoy ourselves before delving into the sewers at night.
We followed their instructions to the best of our abilities, meeting a fortune teller. We stood around, learning about our fates and destiny, although I suppose some of my guildmates suspected it was. Well, the word is not appropriate to write in a formal letter to an Ashcoat. I, however, liked my fortune. The Lovers, it has a ring to it. Even if it may be silly, it gave me a flash of hope.
With another guildmate, I then went to a game of target practice. I suppose you would be interested in this series of events, Zemai. You said that I would make an excellent brother, had I ever been at the estate. And not to brag, but I do make a good big brother, in a way. I won a doll for a guildmate. Then, I used magic to change it into a better form. And then I snuck it into his bag. As a gift.
After a long day, we went into sewers to meet these disgusting diseased rats, handling them quickly. We found the source of the issues. They were Myconids, yet somehow were sapient, speaking to us in Common. I believed that instead of resorting to bloodshed, we could come to an arrangement, a deal of sorts. We snuck these Myconids to the Guild Hall’s basement, and that was the end of this quest, to be continued another day.
Of Dice and Deceit
DM: Kennon C.
Players: Ethan M. (Noizu), Alea H. (Hazel), Hunter M. (Oliver), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat)
I suppose of all people, you, Darwin, deserve an explanation of what went on in Kostroma. After all, I feared I may have caused your predicament. After careful reflection, I know this is not the case. Regardless, I owe you my apologies and my story. Knowing you as well as I do, I know you will find this story humorous.
My time in the Alchemist’s Guild has graciously given me the experience of being in Kostroma. However, not in this city. Krogstadt, as I recall correctly. An icy town just on a bay, gondolas all around. Of course, I changed my form, before the quest begun, into a plain man to avoid suspicion when possible. Our task required us to meet a rather… suspicious character owning a run-down casino. He explained that he intercepted a request for security at another casino, and that we were to do two jobs. Of course, we agreed to this. Double the payment sounded like an amazing idea, although… We would find out that things were not that simple.
He requested that we gather dirt while working to take down his competition. And as I recall correctly, he did not seem to care whether said dirt were true, but only that we give him something to work with. We then went to our second job, enforcing the rules of the casino and the owner. Over our time working, however, we decided that the owner was someone we did not want to screw over. He seemed to genuinely care about his employees, his business, his livelihood. Like a more notable version of the Curator. A close family. And yet, because we decided to play both sides, we ended up hurting him. During our time in the city, we were followed by an interesting pair distantly related to him, although we never found their intentions. And in the end, we fed false information back to our hirer, still getting payment from both. With some, it did not sit right. For me? Well. I took it. A deal is a deal, and a businessman would understand. There were questions left unanswered, as we delved into matters not our own. But for once, I was satisfied with the knowledge I received, against the Ashcoat ideals.
Moving Moorings
DM: Jacob S.
Players: Thomas S. (Nikola), Austin G. (Orville), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat), Declen P. (Oz), Brandon Q. (Ziggy), CJ J. (Naoise)
I suppose that eventually, someone complained enough to make this job necessary, forcing us to move the Myconids from their home in the Guild basement to a mountain a good distance away into a mountain’s cave. With the creatures acutely allergic to the sun, we travelled at night, maintaining a cover of darkness until nearly early morning, where we had to use a variety of methods to prevent harm to our clients.
After an uneventful walk, we found a cave, with quite the elaborate ruins, an intricate door blocking off the inner workings of the cave. One of the guildmates on this quest used an impressive amount of strength given his small body to break down the door. I suppose the ghouls in the cave did not like that, and they sprang forward to attack. In a strange circumstance, the shadows that are ever-present about me summoned a purple flame of great destruction, immolating their undead corpses to ash. Exploring further, we quite foolishly walked into a grand room, the doors behind us shutting, preventing any retreat. These hideous creatures, Bodaks attacking as my guildmates panicked. These monsters almost killed us all, with an aura of decay and pain. At one point, I fell unconscious, perhaps nearly dying completely, yet somehow, my guildmates were able to pull through, healing the downed party members after this battle. Stuck in the shoulder of one of the Bodaks was this cruel, malicious dagger, perhaps a source of great evil in the world. As you would expect, we took it back, trying to sell it without much success.
The Sending
DM: Jacob S.
Players: Ethan M. (Noizu), Nessa T. (Dill Picks), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat), Kennon C. (Zed), CJ J. (Naoise), Brandon Q. (Ziggy)
Apparently, I seem to get on an above average amount of quests relating to festivals or ceremonies. This time, we visited a small town near the ocean that was preparing for a ceremony called “The Sending”. However, this ceremony was delayed due to the attacks of some strange monster, only appearing at night. The Clerics in our party feared it may be divine retribution of some sort, although we quickly dismissed that notion. The beast at night was a type of basilisk, proving incredibly dangerous as it turned its victims to stone with a bite. Unfortunately, we would forget this information until in the midst of battle, of course at night.
One of the Guildmates found a small child who survived the attack, bringing him back to his parent. Quite heartwarming in a way, I will admit. After that day of search, rescue, and reconnaissance, we slept in a conjured tower, awaiting another attack.
And the one on watch at the mid of the night awoke us to the sight of this serpent, rampaging yet again as it claimed more lives. Quickly, we sprung into action. Yet this foe proved challenging, turning Dill into stone. You’d like Dill, Zemai. And I believe Zed almost drowned…
I… almost died again. Yes, that is true. No matter though, someone soon slayed the snake, and another Cleric brought Dill back from petrification.
The Burning Sands
DM: Jacob S.
Players: Ethan J. (Naeron), Will B. (Flake), Nathan G. (Teepimeek), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat), Josh D. (Beryl), Thomas S. (Nikola)
Our prowess of our guild soon stretched to Ashkiri, and our services were once again requested, this time to find a missing caravan deep in the desert. This quest brough back up unpleasant memories of what the Curator would say to me before she shipped me off to the Alchemist’s Guild. “The Desert is Deadly, anyone lost has perished.” That matter-of-fact tone rang true on this quest, as we would later discover in Qad Takun.
After some rather frivolous shopping, we made our way into the dunes, getting lost on the second day in a great sandstorm, something I did not miss from Arkheion. With us stumbling randomly in the dark dust, we soon encountered an ominous orb, vaguely conjuring a feeling of recognition in my mind as an evil creature rose to protect it. Perhaps most frighteningly, it could stop magic, the ever-present shadows about me put into a stasis as the monster stared deep into my very soul. Yet, luckily for us, there were archers who would pierce its hide with arrows until it finally fell. The horror did not end there, however, Nikola, another guildmate, had his arm wither away upon contact of this orb. We managed to destroy this insidious device with another strange weapon, yet that thought lingered in our minds… What was that orb doing here?
Blasphemous Rumours
DM: Thomas S.
Players: Lauren S. (Gani), Casimir B. (Dr. Faust), Nic R. (Gleich), Sarah M. (Ender), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat).
With the fall winds soon approaching, I found myself on another quest, travelling to Deerreach along with guildmates I was not too familiar with. Our missions always had a way to fix that, however, as even the quickest travel times gave us the opportunity to learn about each other.
Deerreach was a rather interesting city, and I am shocked I never visited it in my travels as a part of the Alchemist’s Guild. The most notable aspect was the mage’s college, yet it was not like any ordinary school I have seen. Corruption lay in every corner, and we were to be complicit to not cause a panic. What was the problem? Students coming back with strange alterations to themselves or disappearing outright. We were to be silent about this aspect, and despite my innermost objections, we were.
Instead, we thought ourselves as detectives, seeking out the source of the eldritch influence on this city. Some split to ask professors, others went to one of the temples nearby, while I and another guildmate went to the medical center to meet a victim. Upon meeting her, I realized I was out of my league. Yet, the knowledge proved tantalizing, as the Curator trained me in her limited time with me. “Knowledge above all else.”
A creature of absolute insanity approached me, gifting me temporary knowledge of the entire city’s layout. It was projected by the victim, and apparently, she learned to do this from a tutor. What sort of tutor dealt with aberrations such as these? I had to find out, not only for the job, but for my own sake, to learn about these shadows…
Our party reconvened, sharing crucial information, and with that, I knew where to go. We split once more, finding the source of these tutoring sessions after a rather… odd encounter with the clergy. I will not go into detail… The tutors were a pair of Chuuls, working for a long slumbering goddess I prepared to meet. Luckily, my guildmate stopped me, despite my annoyance at the time.
He and I convinced these Chuuls to stop working for a possible uncaring goddess, and to make their teachings official somehow. Somehow, this worked, giving a peaceful solution to what may have required bloodshed.
No. We did not inform the Headmaster of everything. He did not deserve to know.
Monster Mash
DM: Thomas S.
Players: Jacob S. (6B), Nessa T. (Dill), Nathan G. (Teepimeek), Declen P. (Oz), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat), Derek M. (Ice Sculpture)
Apparently, nothing normal can occur in the town of Deerreach, now monsters roamed about that required slaying. So, we sharpened our knives, prepared our spells, and prayed to the gods above this would be a normal fieldtrip. It was not.
Once again, we meet with perhaps the shadiest person to exist (yes even beating out the shadow sorcerer me), vaguely hinting at the fact these prowling creatures could have been created by a former professor. As usual, people were either dead or missing. As usual, we were to not cause a panic. As usual, we could not warn anyone.
Of course! Things cannot be this simple! Just kill some beasts, find the ‘Mad’ professor who did this. We instead met a strange herpetologist who kept these things as pets. Of course, he created them! He wanted us to instead weaken these creatures and promised loot. Like the mercenaries we were, we agreed to help him. I agreed because having someone like that against you is a fool’s play.
Yet the first monster liquified a girl in front of our very eyes, dragging her into the well to consume later. No amount of rage we took out on this thing would ease our fury. The herpetologist soon captured the weakened beast with a spell, instructing us that there would be more later to beat.
The next beast just ate sheep, thankfully. The fight was not difficult, and the former professor added a second, then third creature to his collection. The horrors were not over though, this hellish nightmare continued as we discovered the madman’s ultimate project, a snake… made of snakes. There is a reason I am drinking while writing this letter. Let me just take a moment to thank the Shadows for allowing me to shift the forms of foes and friends alike, as I changed one into a giant bipedal feathered reptile, and another to a giant crocodile. With that, they quickly nearly dispatched this failed experiment. The professor captured this one as well while I fought swarms of more snakes. Thank the Shadows for fireball…
Do not show this letter to the Curator, lest she tries to recruit someone as insane as her.
I still trust the insane ex-professor more than the Headmaster.
Trouble in Wedding Town
DM: Jacob S.
Players: CJ J. (Naoise), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat), Ethan J. (Kass), Hunter M. (Oliver), Alea H. (Hazel), Dylan H. (Dustorin)
At least this quest was to be happy, a marriage in Ashkiri. We were to be bodyguards as this was a politically controversial arrangement, and that is all that we were told. Yet the secretary seemed to know more than she let on, and the general atmosphere pointed to unease and unrest. In other news, water is wet. No one hires the guild for a simple quest.
The journey was long, as to be expected to a trip to Ashkiri. More specifically, Saar. I knew of this place, in fact, I believe it was not too far from Arkheion. Relatively speaking, of course. Once we arrived, we had time before the wedding begun. Some of our guildmates took initiative, scouting out reasons for our employment. I, however, relaxed, naïvely believing that this would be a normal day, with a normal wedding. When the moment of paranoia reached my mind, I took to the skies, learning of the city’s layout.
At the wedding, we all stood in different positions, the archer perched above, the druid and I in the seats, and others scattered about. Unfortunately, we would only know something is wrong until darkness moved across the area, a rather unfortunate look for me. The Cleric somehow already with the bride and groom… as we all rushed the scene.
The bride was poisoned, and we thought her dead. The darkness cleared and it was quite possibly the worst position all of us could be in: framed. No amount of convincing seemed to work, and the guards approached us with harmful intent. The Shadows reached out, gripping two of my guildmates with its talons and turning them into giant eagles. And as this happened, I instructed them to fly. We managed to escape with everyone, including the bride’s presumable corpse.
However, one cannot kill love this easily. She lived. We then explained the situation as she confessed her family was inflicted with a curse. One long, awkward walk later, we found our carriage driver.
So. If Saar falls into disarray or crumbles into dust soon, we may have had a hand in it.
The Ruined City
DM: Jacob S.
Players: Kat R. (Cynic), Ethan J. (Kass), CJ J. (Naoise), Thomas S. (Nikola), Declen P. (Oz), M.E. H. (Galileo Ashcoat)
Archelogy: a surprisingly dangerous field. At least this time we somewhat knew what we were getting into. Travelling to Kostroma, some of my guildmates were caught off guard by the cold, requiring new dress. Others took advantage of the long trip, Nikola, er, Doctor Ivanovich, crafting a surplus of magic items. I, instead, took the time to relax, study, and learn more about the Shadows that plague me so. I was not very successful… yet.
Soon, we were led to ruins by a pair of archaeologists. We told them to stay behind us as we encountered undead warforged. How is that possible, you might ask? We are not quite sure either, but they were unfortunately… sisters to a guildmate. We scoured for items that might belong to this guildmate now, coming back with several magic items.
Moving forward, we were attacked by dragon-like creatures, the archer making short work of both. The creatures seemed to gather around a cathedral, and yet again, we encountered one of those forsaken red orbs, with another, more frightening monster guarding it.
This battle would test our abilities to their fullest. I stood back and boosted my guildmates. To two of them, I blessed with speed, the Shadows enhancing their movements. Yet that was not even enough, our resources slowly flickering away like the flame on a short wick of the candle. As a last resort, once again, the Shadows came through. They siphoned energy from some parts of my magic reserves, gifting energy to others before it clicked what they wanted. And suddenly, the speed stopped, the guildmates falling into lethargy. I thought we were dead, my concentration breaking in a moment like this would prove fatal. Until somehow, two kings rise from the darkness. Lizard kings, but kings, nevertheless. And they finally defeated this monster.
Thank you, Shadows.
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Part 6: Amazing In Depth Essay About Sopranos Symbolism and Subtext (credit: FlyOnMelfisWall source: thechaselounge.net)

Kennedy and Heidi: Vicarious Patricide as Tony’s Decompensation

At the risk of needless redundancy, I think it’s helpful to summarize Tony’s state of mind going into the episode Kennedy and Heidi. His consciousness is teeming with ancient but recently-agitated memories showcasing his father’s violence and toxic influence, like Johnny shooting a hole through Livia’s hairdo and baptizing him in the act of murder. He’s unable to shake stories of parental neglect leading to tragic outcomes for children. He’s painfully aware of Christopher’s hatred of him and desire for murderous revenge, feelings ultimately rooted in the fact that Tony guided him into the same corrupt existence into which he himself had been led by Johnny, Junior, and company, suggesting a reciprocal, if unconscious, rage by Tony towards those men. His subconscious mind is under constant assault from hats and movie posters and coffee mugs bearing the image of a bloody meat cleaver, an emblem of his own lost childhood innocence and inculcation by his father into his brutal, ugly vocation. He is racked with acute but intense guilt over the role he thinks his life’s example has played in shaping his son’s values and poor sense of self-worth. And he is still repressing a mountain of hurt over the fact that his uncle and second father tried not once but twice to kill him, a repression Melfi warned would someday result in a total collapse of his defense mechanisms, that is, a collapse of his paternal hero-worship and related quest for the macho validation that has prevented him from critically examining his father, uncle, and the men upon whom he modeled his life.
Now consider the circumstances immediately before the crash. Tony and Chris are on a routine drive back from business in Christopher’s new black Cadillac SUV (the first Cadillac Chris has ever owned, incidentally.) The conversation turns to life priorities. Chris, conspicuously clad in a Cleaver hat, specifically mentions how Kaitlyn has changed his priorities, and Tony mentions the “shit with Junior”. So the context is immediately pregnant with the fact that Junior shot and nearly killed Tony within the past year and with the fact that Chris is in a new place of responsibility, a position where he is, for the first time, truly the custodian and trustee for another life.
In a perfectly-timed illustration of just how ill-equipped Chris is to live up to those responsibilities, he nervously and repeatedly fiddles with the car stereo, fidgets, and widens his eyes, telegraphing to Tony that he is high as a kite on drugs. “Comfortably Numb” swells on the sound system as Tony stares at him, the lyrics underscoring that, in that moment, he does not see Chris as a youngster, as the “adorable kid” he once road around in the basket of his bicycle, but as a grown man:
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse Out of the corner of my eye I turned to look but it was gone I cannot put my finger on it now The child is grown, the dream is gone
Chris swerves, and the crash happens seconds later.

Tony as the Child in the Carseat

It’s critical to note that Tony initially manifests every intention of helping Chris, even as he’s fighting his own injuries. “I’m comin’,” he says as Chris asks for help. His expression and demeanor only change when he realizes what Chris means by “help”. “I’ll never pass a drug test,” Chris moans. “What?” Tony asks incredulously as Chris is inhaling his own blood. Almost simultaneously, Tony turns towards the back and sees that a tree limb has penetrated the passenger compartment, lodging in Kaitlyn’s car seat like a spear. While Tony would somewhat exaggerate the size of the branch in later narrations of the event, there’s no question that it was large enough to have impaled or seriously injured an infant.
Even after this warning shot over the bow, Tony apparently intends to help Chris, coming over to the driver’s side and breaking the window when he couldn’t get the door open. He draws his cell phone to call for help but stops when Chris again mentions being doped up, which suggests that Chris is more concerned about the legal consequences of his intoxication than about the fact that he is drowning in his own blood, completely belying his claim to a life newly ordered around the lofty priority of fatherhood.
That’s the moment when Tony forms a genuine murderous intent, an intent that has little to do with Christopher’s animosity towards him or the danger that he might flip. Those are conscious, background motives that help Tony rationalize and make sense of his actions later. But the factor impelling him to end Christopher’s life is his own, fundamental identification with the child who might just as easily have been killed or seriously harmed in that carseat.
To objectify this point, there is a slow pan of the limb sticking through the seat as Tony performs the suffocation, clearly not a shot representing Tony’s vision or gaze at that moment but objectively corroborating the earlier angle when Tony glances back and we see the seat from his point of view. The juxtaposition of these shots – subjective and objective – tells me the carseat is not just a convenient excuse for Tony. This is what he’s really feeling. In this moment, he is the phantom child in that carseat, a child whose safety and well-being come second to his father’s corrupt values and reckless self-indulgence, a child whose soul and humanity are metaphorically impaled by riding in and being taught to drive his father’s black Cadillac.
The exclamation point on the symbolism is provided by Christopher’s hat. Incredibly, it remains on his head throughout the crash and suffocation, its bloody cleaver logo pointing towards Tony when the car comes to rest. As Tony acts consciously on behalf of an innocent child, the symbol of his own lost childhood innocence is directly before him. And, for good measure, the cap and logo stare back at him in the hospital from the gurney laden with Christopher’s bloody clothing and the black bag containing his dead body. (The logo antagonizes Tony a final time from his coffee mug the next morning before he angrily tosses the mug into his backyard woods.)
Several points about the suffocation itself are remarkable. First was the look of absolute depravity on Tony’s face as he watched Christopher struggle to breathe. This look was unlike any ever seen on Tony’s face at any other moment in the series. Even when committing other personal and deadly acts of violence, his face and demeanor had always betrayed a commensurate level of animus, an active, passionate intent. In contrast, he reached through the window and pinched Christopher’s nose – and maintained that hold – with remarkable calm. His face and eyes throughout the suffocation were paradoxically both incredibly intense and completely devoid of human emotion, a look far more disturbing than any look of mere rage he’d ever worn before.
Second, although this act was, in my judgment, clearly about the release of Tony’s pent up rage towards his father figures, the method of killing evokes Livia. Besides her conspiracy with Junior to kill Tony (which she rationalized was for his own good) and general obsession with stories of child deaths, she had once threatened to “smother [her children] with a pillow” to save them from a fate she deemed even worse. Tony grabbed a pillow intending to smother her in the season one finale before nursing home personnel intervened. In Members Only, Tony spoke of being smothered with a pillow as a suitable form of euthanasia. Its functional equivalent at the scene of the crash had a definite vibe of putting Chris out of his own – and everyone’s – misery. So, in killing his “father”, Tony was also paradoxically suffocating his “son”, thereby channeling Livia’s filicidal urges and concept of mercy killing.
The most spine-tingling resonance with the scene comes from two season four episodes where Tony’s deep identification with “innocents” – be they children or animals – once again comes to the fore, as does his appreciation for the consequences of Chris continuing to use drugs. In Whoever Did This, Tony warns Christopher that he “can’t be high on heroine and raise kids.” And in The Strong, Silent Type, after learning that a doped-up Chris accidentally smothered and suffocated Adriana’s dog, Tony ominously snaps, “You suffocated little Cossette? I oughta suffocate you, you prick!” It’s such perfect foreshadowing that the earlier episodes seem to have been written with the outcome of Kennedy and Heidi in mind.

Righteous Retribution as the Explanation for Tony’s Lack of Sorrow

As previously noted, the most troubling aspect of the episode from the standpoint of character consistency and plausibility was not the fact that Tony murdered Chris. It was his vacuous expression during the killing and the fact that he never betrayed a moment’s genuine sorrow or regret afterwards. He remained, in fact, defiantly happy and unconflicted about it, especially to Melfi, and was sincerely troubled that neither she nor anyone else could see how Christopher’s death rescued Kaitlyn from a lifetime of risks and harm that she would naturally suffer as the daughter of a drug addict (and mob captain).
In his therapy scenes with Melfi, real and dream, Tony even makes the very contrast I raise, noting that he’s never felt this way after murdering any other person close to him. He alludes to his sorrow over Pussy and specifically allows that murdering Tony B left him “prostate [sic] with grief.” In effect, Tony himself is revealing that this killing feels righteous and justified to him on an instinctive level and is therefore not one about which he can feel guilt or sorrow.
That sentiment makes no sense if his dominant motives were those he talked about in therapy: Christopher’s animosity and resentment towards him after the Adriana hit and his drug-use and consequent risk to flip. Whatever weight those factors carry in justifying murder in the corrupt “ethics” of the mob (which, in any case, is less than the weight of the transgressions by Pussy and Tony B), they carry absolutely no legitimate moral weight outside it and could not sustain in Tony the sense of just triumph that he felt in response to Christopher’s death. What could inspire that sense of triumph is the perceived liberation of a child from a dangerous and toxic father, experienced subconsciously as vicarious retribution for the abuse and harm he himself suffered at the hands of his own father and uncle.

Significance of the Names “Kennedy” and “Heidi”

“Kennedy” and “Heidi” are the names of the young passenger and driver, respectively, in the car that sideswipes Christopher’s SUV before the fateful crash. The girls are barely onscreen a few seconds, just long enough to (somewhat artificially) learn their names in the following exchange:
Kennedy: Maybe we should go back, Heidi! Heidi: Kennedy, I’m on my learner’s permit after dark!
Much forum debate after the first airing of the episode centered around the significance, if any, of these names. I propose a related but even more basic question: why are the girls present in the scene at all?
Tony’s windfall opportunity to murder Chris and pass it off as death from accidental injury was entirely dependent upon being unobserved by others after the crash. Given Christopher’s intoxicated state and inattention to the curvy road while he fiddled with radio controls, a mere swerve and over-correction or swerve to avoid an animal (Tony’s crash with Adriana, anyone?) would have easily sufficed to trigger the accident but without the problematic involvement of another car, the driver of which would have to be made to flee the scene illegally and in contravention of the ethics and instincts of at least 95% of the motorists on the road. So the very fact that another car is involved, complicating both the story and the filming, suggests some symbolic or subtextual design to the involvement related specifically to the momentous event occurring right after the crash.
One aspect of that design is revealed and amplified when a grieving Kelly shows up at Christopher’s wake with dark hair framing her face and large, dark sunglasses covering her eyes. A member of the crew remarks, “Look at her. Like a movie star.” An odd look immediately crosses Tony’s face as he spontaneously responds, “Jackie Kennedy”, noting Kelly’s resemblance to the widow of John F. Kennedy.
In my mind, this striking moment in the episode can have only one purpose, and that’s to evoke Johnny Boy in relation to Christopher via a kind of symbolic math. If Kelly = Jackie Kennedy, then Chris = JFK = Johnny Boy since JFK was the explicit parallel figure for Johnny in In Camelot, the first episode of the series depicting cracks in the foundation of Tony’s paternal hero worship. When that foundation completely crumbles inside Tony’s subconscious a season and a half later, it’s entirely fitting that the JFK/Johnny parallel is renewed.
As for the name “Heidi”, most folks around these parts felt it was meant to evoke the idea of “orphan” because of the famous Swiss orphan tale of the same name and because Kaitlyn (and Paulie) both lost parents in the episode. That’s an entirely plausible analysis that requires no expansion, although I’m inclined to think there’s more to it than that, starting with the analogy of Tony himself to “Heidi”. No, Tony was never technically orphaned, though he arguably suffered more as the son of Johnny and Livia than if he had been. He was certainly deprived of real parental love and guidance, on both sides, and that roughly equates to the definition of “orphan”.
Before discussing this episode for the first time, I never knew that Heidi was the story of an orphan, only that it was some kind of tale for children. And I knew that only because of the epic 1968 football game between Joe Namath’s Jets and the Oakland Raiders, the climactic ending of which (an improbable comeback by the Raiders) was cut off abruptly for television viewers at the end of its scheduled broadcast slot so that a movie version of Heidi could begin airing on time. I was only four at the time of this debacle but recall my parents talking about it – and the considerable chaos it caused at NBC and at telephone switchboards around the country – for years afterwards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game
It wouldn’t become clear until the end of Made In America, but there’s an obvious parallel to the Heidi phenomenon in the wind-up of The Sopranos. Consider that, like the Heidi Game broadcast, Made in America featured an abrupt, unexpected termination of excruciatingly tense action at a penultimate moment, pre-empting audience experience of what appeared to be an imminent and momentous climax. The Sopranos ending may not have disabled an entire telephone network, but it certainly generated an enormous amount of controversy that, for better or worse, persists to this day.
Beyond that, there were enough other football references in the final Sopranos episodes, and especially Jets references, to warrant further consideration of this football connotation for “Heidi”. In Remember When, Tony’s betting losses on Jets football games prompt his call to Hesh for a bridge loan. Later that same episode, Paulie annoys Tony and company with yet another old tale, this one relating how, after witnessing Joe Namath stagger drunk into a bar the night before a game, he bet a load of cash the following day on the Jets’ opponent. In Chasing It, Tony gets inside information on a Jets football game and is irate when Carmela refuses to bet money on it. The episode features a closeup of a large newspaper headline, “Jets Bomb Chargers”.
In Blue Comet, then-current coach of the Jets, Eric Mangini, makes a cameo appearance in Vesuvio, with Artie informing a suitably-impressed Tony so the two can go over and shake hands. News articles at the time clarified that the cameo wasn’t Mangini’s idea but the idea of Sopranos producers, who contacted him months in advance and made accommodations in the shooting schedule around his availability. So this seemed more than a casual desire to have some generic celebrity show up.
That especially seems true considering Mangini was given no dialog and that his meeting with Tony and Artie was only depicted in the silent background of a conversation between Charmaine and Carmela. Mangini’s only purpose on set was apparently to show his face briefly and to have the fact of his identity (Tony has to tell a bewildered Carm that Mangini is the head coach of the Jets) permeate the minds of the audience and the subtext of the scene, which is ultimately about chickens coming home to roost on Tony and Carmela because of the lives they chose.
As alter egos for Tony and Carmela throughout the series, folks who took the proverbial “other path” in life, Artie and (especially) Charmaine engage in subtle gloating in the scene. Football coaching was firmly established as Tony’s “road not taken” in Test Dream, so having an actual football coach present in the episode where the unsavory and downright deadly consequences of his chosen vocation are crashing in all around him provides dramatic ballast. All the better to have the coach in the scene be the coach of the team involved in the Heidi game in view of the ending planned for the following episode.
And speaking again of that ending, the wall behind Tony in Holsten’s is consumed with four large murals specifically brought in by the production crew for the shoot. The largest and most centered depicts a huge, light-colored building with lots of windows, somewhat reminiscent of the Inn at the Oaks in Tony’s coma dream. It’s apparently a high school, however, as it is flanked on either side by images of football players in full uniform with what appear to be names and year of graduation engraved at the bottom. To the side and extreme left is a mural of a tiger and the caption “Class of 1973” at the bottom. The tiger is presumably the mascot for the team and school represented in the other murals. So there is a strong symbolic presence of “football” in the last scene of the series, particularly of high school football from roughly the era when Tony would have entered high school.
Finally, though it may be completely insignificant, when Tony tells Carm about the accident from his hospital stretcher in Kennedy and Heidi, he mentions that he re-injured his knee, “the one from high school.” That certainly sounds like a reference to an old high school football injury.
If these loose strands from multiple episodes are indeed intended to connote football in relation to the name “Heidi”, what does that actually mean in the context of the episode Kennedy and Heidi? What does football have to do with Tony killing Chris or, more precisely, with him killing his father in the guise of Chris?
The linchpin in that symbolism, it seems to me, is Tony’s old high school football coach, the guy who would have been his coach when he originally injured his knee, the guy Tony dreamt repeatedly of trying to silence or kill, the guy whose puzzling duality in Test Dream suddenly makes sense when he’s viewed as a classic, Freudian composite of opposites, specifically a composite of Tony’s opposing father figures with Johnny dressed in the physiognomy of Coach Molinaro by Tony’s subconscious in order to render acceptable imagery of his latent, patricidal feelings.
If you further allow, as I do, that the Johnny look-alike shooting at Tony with a scoped rifle (ala Oswald/”Kennedy”) in that same dream is yet another Freudian “reversal into the opposite” by Tony’s subconscious to disguise his repressed paternal rage, then the Kennedy/Heidi connection is pretty clear. The names are presented proximate to the crash to connote that, in killing Chris, Tony has finally acted out the Test Dream imagery that haunted him for years: he has (symbolically) killed his father, the “Kennedy” and “Heidi” of his dream.

“He’s Dead”

In my judgment, this explains Tony’s otherwise puzzling, peyote-induced insight when he proclaims, “He’s dead,” after winning at roulette on 3 successive spins, prompting him to fall to the floor in spectacular and uncontrollable laughter. What other, real death could have inspired such a euphoric and epiphanic reaction? What real death could Tony only have appreciated while in a drug-induced, altered state of consciousness?
Many felt the line referred to Christopher because he’d just died, obviously, and because Tony’s gambling luck suddenly changed afterward. That analysis never made sense to me.
First, Tony plays roulette at the casino while sober when he first arrives in Vegas and loses every round. Chris was already dead at that time, as Tony well knew and accepted. Indeed, Tony was never in any state of denial about Christopher’s death (or about having killed him.) He embraced it, both consciously and in his dream therapy session with Melfi after the crash.
The “he’s dead” insight occurs only after Tony takes peyote and notices a sudden and complete about-face in gambling luck. Why would he need psychedelic drugs to suddenly realize what he already knew and accepted about Chris? And why would Christopher’s death be tied in his mind to his own gambling luck anyway? No prior connection between those two things had ever been suggested.
On the other hand, Tony’s sudden escalation in gambling, which coincided with the agitation and intensification of his latent rage towards his father(s), could easily be seen as a subconscious rebellion against the stern, anti-gambling lecture Johnny imparted the night Tony witnessed the cleaver incident. To the extent that the rebellion results in huge financial losses and self destruction, it obviously fails. His father retains ultimate power and authority. To the extent the rebellion results in huge winnings, it succeeds, and Tony vanquishes his father.
That conquest was the ineffable and elusive “high” that Tony was subconsciously pursuing in Chasing It but which he could not articulate to Melfi. Thus the sudden change in gambling fortune on his Vegas trip is easily tied in Tony’s drug-altered psyche to a euphoric realization that he has conquered or symbolically killed his father, none of which Tony could appreciate without a vastly altered state of consciousness.
And that leads to why he went to Vegas in the first place. He asks that question out loud to the Vegas prostitute, Sonia, immediately before admitting that Christopher once mentioned taking peyote with her. Tony then confesses to having always wanted to try the drug.
Clearly, then, he didn’t just happen to pick Vegas and didn’t just happen to make contact with this girl. His subconscious was pushing him to that venue because he craved the enlightenment of a peyote experience. So while Tony’s real motives for the murder, and for his otherwise inexplicable jubilance afterward, were completely closed off to his conscious mind, somehow he sensed their existence and yearned to unlock and understand them. However his peyote revelations didn’t stop with simply understanding why he killed Chris.

“I Get It. I Get It!”

Tony’s desert epiphany is a bookend to his near-death coma experience and, I believe, can only be fully understood in relation to it. Yet exploring that relationship is a journey all unto itself, calling not only for consideration of the coma episodes and Kennedy and Heidi but the meaning of the cut to black that ends the series. While exploring the religious and spiritual underpinnings of those episodes is of even more weight and interest to me personally than the issue of Tony’s motives in killing Christopher, it deserves and demands its own, dedicated discussion. For now, I’d simply like to posit what I strongly believe Tony’s epiphany to have been with only minimal argumentation as to why I hold that belief.
The epiphany is presaged when Tony enters the casino on his peyote trip and notes that the roulette wheel is built on the same principle as the solar system. The ball spins round and round the center or “sun” of the wheel because of two delicately-balanced but largely opposing phenomena: the momentum of the ball (which, without the wheel, would carry the ball away in a straight line) and the centripetal force of the wheel (applied by the rim, which continuously pulls the ball towards the center even as the ball’s momentum continuously pulls it on a path perpendicular to the centripetal force.) The antagonism (or cooperation, if you prefer) of the forces gives rise to a unified system: an orbit.
If this sounds a bit like the Bell Labs scientist’s explanation of how two tornadoes are in fact just facets of one, unified system of wind, it’s likely no mere coincidence. As Hal Holbrook’s character argued, separateness is a mirage. The universe, and everything in it, is one big soup of molecules interacting in cause/effect fashion according to laws, making it one whole, not a bunch of discrete parts. “Everything is everything,” as the black rapper reduced it.
That was the philosophy that really made an impression on Tony in the days and weeks following his coma. The principles of quantum physics articulated by Holbrook’s character are likely as close as you can get to a scientific codification of Bhuddism and therefore reinforced much of what the Bhuddist monks conveyed to Tony in his coma. The monks laughed when Tony claimed he wasn’t Finnerty and explained that there really is no “you” and “me, that death would bring an obliteration of individuality. Separate consciousness – and the consciousness of separateness – is an illusion of the living.
So all this laid the philosophical groundwork for Tony’s Las Vegas trip. In that trip, Tony seeks out a girl with whom Chris had slept, then sleeps with her himself. He mentions having refrained from a longstanding desire to try peyote because he always felt the weight of his responsibilities, an implied contrast to Christopher, who always indulged in drugs despite his responsibilities. The idea that Tony was seeking to almost live life in Christopher’s skin in the Las Vegas portion of the episode was something several posters mentioned in first discussions after Kennedy and Heidi aired. Even the girl, Sonia, remarks how similar Tony and Chris are, a somewhat dubious observation that somehow offends Tony but which also helps define his impending epiphany.
That epiphany is spurred when the rising sun flares at him over the desert mountain vista. This recalls Tony’s earlier comparison of the roulette wheel to the solar system. It also resonates completely with the fact that Kevin Finnerty was a solar heating salesman from Kingman, Arizona, a town which, not coincidentally, lies 95 miles southeast of Las Vegas and shares the same desert landscape. Also not coincidental, IMO, is the fact that in the prior episode, Christopher spoke of the perks of joining witness protection and of “living large” in Arizona.
So I believe that, in that desert sunrise on the cusp of Arizona, in fulfillment of his identity as Kevin Finnerty, solar heating salesman, Tony saw his “son” – Christopher – “rise” and realized that, in murdering him days before, he (Tony) was really “rising” as a “son” against Johnny Boy. And in that linkage, he suddenly realized that “everything is [indeed] everything.” He is both Chris and Johnny Boy, both abused and misguided son and abusing, misguiding father. He is murdering uncle and would-be murdered nephew. He is both the mother that sees suffocation as mercy killing and the son who is suffocated. Christopher is both his son and his father. Johnny Boy is Coach Molinaro. “Kennedy” is “Heidi”. Opposites are really two sides of the same coin. In that fleeting moment of insight, Tony was truly feeling “one” with the universe.

The Second Coming

The episode following Kennedy and Heidi is titled The Second Coming after the Yeats poem that grips AJ in the English lit class he’s auditing. While the poem speaks to the bleakness of his depression and outlook on life at that particular time, there’s little doubt that – like everything of substantial weight in the Sopranos universe – it ultimately relates, first and foremost, to Tony. First referenced in the Cold Cuts therapy session dealing with pent-up rage where Tony’s deep shame from the cleaver incident is finally revealed, the poem seems the veritable inspiration for the storyline (as interpreted in this article) that culminates in Christopher’s murder:
The Second Coming By William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
The widening gyre, the orbit that breaks down when the center can no longer hold, is clearly a parallel to the decompensation of which Melfi warned, the point at which Tony’s defenses after Junior’s second murder attempt could no longer hold and the underlying pathological rage at his fathers would take over. True to the poem, a “blood-dimmed tide was loosed”, inspired by a perverse compassion for the “innocent”. While “the best” all mourned Christopher and thought his death a tragedy, Tony, “the worst”, was full of passionate intensity and could not understand why no one else saw the greater good in Christopher’s death.
The “revelation” occurs in a “waste of desert sand”, imagery easily compatible with Tony’s “I get it” moment in the Nevada/Arizona desert. The uniquely depraved look on his face as he suffocated Christopher is evoked by the line describing a “gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun”. “Twenty years of stony sleep” refers to the decades of denial Tony maintained, the defense mechanisms that kept him all his life from confronting and admitting that, in some very real ways, he hated his father. It’s a figurative sleep that was suggested literally in the noted fact that so many episodes in season 6B started with Tony in a deep sleep. Somnolence was suggested even in the choice of the song “Comfortably Numb” as soundtrack in the moments immediately preceding the crash, the moments right before the hour of the “rough beast” finally arrived. Even the incidentals are perfect allusions, as with the image of “stony sleep” being turned into a nightmare by a “rocking cradle”, or, in this case, by a car seat with a branch sticking through it.
I’m intrigued by the line describing the emerging beast as having “lion body”. It may mean absolutely nothing. But among the story points worth considering in relation to it are the tiger on the wall in Holsten’s and the enigmatic cat in Made In America.
More obscure is the fact that in Remember When, the single episode most explicitly dealing with the violent release of stifled paternal rage, Carter Chong described his grandfather as a “lion” and noted that his father owned “Grumman” stock. (Grumman manufactured a number of high-profile fighter military aircraft, most of them named for some kind of cat, e.g., Panther, Jaguar, Tomcat, Tigercat.) Carter was reviewing these facts to himself in the scene immediately preceding his vicious attack on Junior, suggesting that, in acting out on his stifled paternal hatred, he was adopting the predatory, aggressive characteristics of a wild cat. Notably, when Junior, the paternal surrogate who modeled this kind of aggressive behavior to Carter, was seen at the end of that episode bruised and literally defanged, his sunken mouth void of false teeth, he was stroking a harmless little housecat on his lap. Once a lion, the former mob boss was a lion no more.

Asbestos Dumping as a Metaphor for Tony’s Toxic Spill of Rage

Kennedy and Heidi opens with a controversy between Tony and Phil Leotardo over asbestos disposal. One of Tony’s contractors was removing asbestos from old buildings, while following none of the strict (and expensive) asbestos-handling laws regulating worker and public safety, and was seeking to dump completely uncontained truck-fulls at waste stations controlled by Phil. Phil’s guys were denying the trucks the right to dump. As a consequence, huge, openly-smoking asbestos mounds were building up at job sites.
After Christopher’s death, Tony was doing little to find a solution, skipping town to gamble, get laid, and get high and leaving the contractor high and dry. Finally, near the very end of the episode, the contractor dumps heaps of asbestos at dawn in an open marsh area resembling the New Jersey Meadowlands.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that gained widespread use in the 19th and 20th centuries as an ingredient in various building industry materials – including wall compounds, insulation, and roofing materials – primarily because of its extreme insulative properties and resistance to heat and fire. In the last 40 years, it’s become better-known for its cancer-causing and toxic effects on those mining and working with it in manufacturing, demolition/remodeling, or other “raw” environments.
Both the heat resistance and toxicity of asbestos make the shoddy removal/dumping storyline a compelling metaphor for Tony’s equally shoddy “dumping” in Kennedy and Heidi. The smoldering heat and flames from his hatred towards his father and uncle were contained beneath his consciousness by an insulating firewall of denial and repression. In essence, this denial and repression was Tony’s psychological asbestos, and it (more or less) contained the heat and fire within him for 47 years.
But it finally broke down, allowing the flames to rage and do damage and necessitating a messy disposal. Unfortunately the breakdown didn’t happen where it should have, in his therapist’s office as the result of honest introspection and dialog about little things like his uncle trying to kill him twice and his father indoctrinating him to murder at 22. That would have been the equivalent of careful, legally-compliant asbestos removal. Instead the breakdown occurred in a roadside ravine and the resulting “waste [in the] desert sand” was every bit as toxic as the smoking piles illegally dumped in the Meadowlands immediately before the desert epiphany and which we saw reprised in the very first shot of the following episode.
Think about that for a moment. Tony’s “I get it” moment was literally sandwiched between shots of noxious mounds of asbestos blowing in the New Jersey wind, a significant clue that some other kind of perversely cathartic disposal was in the middle of that sandwich.

The Orbit of the ‘Blue Comet’: Long Journey to Nowhere

It’s fair to ask: if the broad strokes of my interpretation are valid, what impact did the epiphany have on Tony going forward? After the drugs wore off, did he actually retain any specific understanding of his subconscious motives for killing Chris? Was he left only with the impression that he had enjoyed a very brief moment of enlightenment but without intellectual distillation of the enlightenment itself?
Because the insight was founded upon the secret that he had murdered Chris, even if Tony had retained it, he couldn’t overtly share it with anyone. Still, I lean toward the interpretation that the specifics (at least the ones I proffered) were lost to him when the altered state of consciousness ceased. When he tried to describe the magic of what he experienced in the desert to his crew, he could only come up with the most mundane, inadequate words: “The sun . . . came up.” They all looked at him like he was half retarded.
He was slightly more specific with Melfi, offering that he saw “for pretty certain” that this reality is not all there is. He couldn’t define the alternative but was still convinced there was “something else”.
He did speak in therapy of appreciating a balance and unity in opposites that he hadn’t appreciated before, a “ying” [sic] and “yang”. And he offered that “mothers are like buses . . . the vehicle that gets us here,” but that, once here, we are all on our own, individual journeys (mothers included.) So, to the extent his epiphany comported with what he revealed in therapy, it seems to have had little to do with fathers and with Christopher’s murder and more to do with letting go (finally) of some of his issues with his mother.
But perhaps the best clue to his residual state of understanding came when he indicated that some of what he thought he had grasped in the desert now eluded him. “You think you know, you think you learn something . . . like when I got shot,” he begins. Then, speaking specifically about the peyote experience, he reports that the insight gained is “kinda hard to describe. . . . You know, you have these thoughts, and you almost grab it . . . and then . . . ftt.” He flicks his fingers away from his chin as if to indicate “nothing”. So, to paraphrase Edna St. Vincent Millay, a fragment of what he knew remains, but, apparently, the best is lost.
It wouldn’t take long for all of it to be lost. By the time Tony sits with AJ’s female therapist in Made In America, “going about in pity” for himself because of who his mother was, he has come full circle, essentially back to where he was to start the series. Like a “blue comet”, his orbit was highly elliptical, if not erratic, and carried with it the potential of veering off into deep space or crashing into the sun. But despite killing his own nephew, having a near-death experience himself, and saving his son from an act of suicide, the orbit held. The sober breakthrough never came. The repudiation of his father and of his way of life never took hold in his consciousness. And so, by series’ end, we, like Tony, were exhausted from a long journey that ultimately took us nowhere.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
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You asked for it, here it is: Meeting McCarthy (1992)

Meeting McCarthy
by Garry Wallace
Southern Quarterly, 1992, 30(4), 134-139
In March of 1989, while traveling to El Paso with Betty Carey, I was afforded the opportunity of meeting Cormac McCarthy. Betty Carey, of Las Vegas World Series of Poker fame, was writing a book about her adventures as a professional gambler. She had arranged to meet with McCarthy to discuss her current writing, as well as to rendezvous with their common friend, Frank Morton, another gambler. What follows is my best recollection of the several conversations that took place over three days of our visit. I made no tape recording or notes during these informal, quite friendly talks, but wrote what I remembered in a journal after returning from El Paso. This account is recreated from chapters in my unpublished novel based on my year-long writing partnership with Betty Carey, and is as accurate as memory allows. Where I felt reasonable confident about actual words, I have used direct quotations. Elsewhere, I have paraphrased.
​On a bright spring Sunday morning, Betty and I awaited McCarthy in a quaint family restaurant on Mesa Avenue in El Paso, where Cormac suggested we meet to have brunch. Betty clutched a handkerchief to absorb the perspiration from her hands. She was nervous, as was I. Each time the entrance door opened, we glanced in anticipation. Finally a man, nondescript—medium build, short hair, a dull plaid shirt—walked down the short flight of stairs, his eyes searching the lower tier where we seated. It was Cormac McCarthy.
​Betty smiled and we got up to greet her friend. McCarthy asked about Betty’s book. He had been privy to her very first draft, written three years before. Her stories were about life as a gambler. For thirteen years she had won and lost fortunes, sitting at poker tables across the country with men like Jack Strauss and Amarillo Slim, risking life to hijackers, still able to spirit away tidy sums unknown to anyone but herself. Betty told McCarthy that so much had happened since that first draft that she was in the process of rewriting the whole story. Betty had allegedly been cheated in a Las Vegas casino scam. There were allegations of Gaming Commission and FBI coverups. Her case was then on appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court, ultimately to be thrown out because of the statute of limitations.
​She asked McCarthy if it was common for writers to do so much rewriting. He said he knew a few writers who would compose a hundred pages of a novel and then have to start over, but that he usually knew where his own novels were going from the start.
​Betty told McCarthy that she and I had written the screenplay of her story, and that ICM of Los Angeles had said it possessed some of the same appeal as Silkwood. She failed to mention that the agent had turned it down for being “awkwardly written,” because we’d portrayed Betty as an “arrogant and unsympathetic character,” and because “the authors seem inexperienced in mapping out dramatic framework.” She said, “I’m writing my book in a suspense format. I want it to be a best seller.”
​“I don’t read best sellers,” McCarthy said. Feeling responsible for the latest direction the book had taken, I explained, “What she means by ‘best seller’ is that she wants the facts of the casino scam to reach as many people as possible.” With a curt nod McCarthy indicated that he had understood that to be Betty’s meaning. He acted friendly yet cool toward me, a stranger.
​McCarthy asked if there was a particular author that Betty was patterning her novel after. I mentioned Ken Follett. McCarthy nodded and said that Follet (sic) was good. He mentioned also that Stephen King was a good writer. From his earlier comment on best sellers, I wasn’t sure if McCarthy had read these authors or if he was speaking from hearsay.
​“What do you read?” I asked. McCarthy said he read mostly nonfiction, although he did enjoy Hemingway. Betty and I had a conversation the day before with Irving Brown and his wife, proprietors of a used and rare book store on Mesa Avenue. An acquaintance of McCarthy as well as a professor of philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso, Brown told us that McCarthy—an unpretentious man who often did his laundry right next door—considered Melville the greatest author, and that he read books about astronomy and physics. Brown especially liked the part in Suttree where Cornelius sees his reflection in the glass door and thinks, “Suttree and anti-Suttree.” Brown said that in his opinion McCarthy had over-read Plato.
​Betty mentioned how hard it was to find the time to write. When I said, “You have to be selfish,” McCarthy agreed, but substituted the word “ruthless.” Betty listed a few of the interruptions she had to put up with, eliciting McCarthy’s remark that he could write in a train station if he had to, but not if somebody kept asking for directions. McCarthy said that he wrote in the morning, every morning. “Why not write every day?” he asked rhetorically. “In the afternoon I visit friends. You can’t write all day long.”
​When Betty said she wished she could just run away from her obligations and be free to write, McCarthy recalled that once he had spent an entire year doing little more than playing pool with his friends.
​Betty and McCarthy talked about their lives, the consequences of their successes. Betty said that no more would she consent to interviews because so often they changed the story, often sensationalizing her life beyond reality. McCarthy agreed, saying that he would not do interviews.1 He told Betty that J. D. Salinger had given only one interview throughout his career as a novelist, to elementary children.
​“Do you teach?” I asked.
​Looking at me sternly, McCarthy said that he did not, and he seemed not to want to discuss it further. He mentioned an author, Robert Fulghum, who had published a somewhat humorous book about learning all you need to know by the time you graduate from kindergarten. McCarthy gave a few examples: “To tell the truth. Not to hit each other. To be fair.”
​Betty laughed. “I like that,” she said. From the things McCarthy said about academia, I understood him to believe that many of human beings’ problems arose from pursuits in education. In a later conversation about spiritual experiences, McCarthy said that education often got in the way of understanding. He added that in certain Eskimo cultures, art, of both high and low quality, was seen as good. Art was a personal expression. Nobody went around telling children how to do theirs differently.
​Betty said she felt different from most people in our society, that she was very much a loner and that her friends would not be considered mainstream. McCarthy referred to himself and Betty as “outlaws.” He gazed at her and said, “Look who we are. We’re desperate people.” They had both lived such uncommon lives that their spirits were easily kindred. I felt that my own life had been too sheltered.
​Again I asked McCarthy if he could recommend any good books or authors that a beginning writer should read. He said, “All great writers read all other great writers.” Upon further prodding, he mentioned several of John McFee’s books and The Song Lines by Bruce Chatwin. McCarthy said that he knew Larry McMurtry; because McCarthy loved the television movie “Lonesome Dove” so much, he said that he would never read the book.
​Betty mentioned her love of traveling and said that some people had suggested she write a book about her travels, or a how-to-on poker, and forget the nonsense about exposing the alleged casino scam that had cheated her out of many thousands of dollars. Betty asked about what she could and could not write about other people. McCarthy said that writers had great latitude in their writing and, on a question about other people’s ideas, said, “If you like it, use it.” I believe this came under the axiom that everything had already been written and that most ideas were neither unique in themselves nor original.
​Brunch ended and the coffee pot went dry. I picked up the bill. Betty and I drove the camper back to the motel with McCarthy following in his old beater. The exterior of his car had been sandblasted to the metal and touched up with primer paint. It looked prepped for the body shop. Even with my untrained ear, I could tell the engine ran well.
​At the motel Betty dug into her briefcase for her most recently drafted chapter, which she handed to McCarthy, apologizing for its not being typed. McCarthy said, “That’s all right. We’re friends. We do things like this for each other.”
​The next day, Betty and I met McCarthy at an out-of-the-way health food store that served frozen yogurt and sandwiches. We ordered at the counter and took seats at a small table next to the front window. After we were served, the conversation turned to writing. Betty asked which person it would be best to write her story in, and McCarthy said that was always a hard question to answer. He asked which person she felt most comfortable writing in, and Betty said that both the first and third had their benefits, but that she just couldn’t decide. She wanted McCarthy to tell her which to use, and he could not do that. He offered suggestions quite sparingly. To a question about how descriptive to make Betty’s book, McCarthy said that the point of most novels could be told in a paragraph. The reason they’re longer is so the author can tell a story. And he said, “Don’t ever treat your audience as if they’re stupid. Your reader is smart.”
​“Have you read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying?” McCarthy asked. She had not. He explained that each chapter of the novel had been written in the first person from the perspective of each of the different characters. When he suggested that Betty might try something like that, I could see hopelessness on Betty’s face. She had been working on her book for over three years.
​McCarthy mentioned that Faulkner had written the novel during his spare moments while working on a manual labor job at night. He said that Faulkner had even used a wheelbarrow on which to compose the story. McCarthy said that Faulkner never expected the novel to become great, and that the novel had a certain amateurish quality that gave the book its great appeal. He said that Betty should not be overly concerned if her writing was not professional, and that she should try to retain the natural quality that her writing had, as that was often the mark of literature. Because Betty was having trouble getting the most recent draft of the novel started, McCarthy suggested that she could try writing the ending of her story first, then the beginning. He told her to get a tape recorder and tell her stories into a microphone and then play them back.
​Betty talked about the most recent developments of her story, but even with McCarthy she was hesitant to reveal many of the specifics. McCarthy became curious when Betty described the four levels by which she categorized poker players. She explained that the top two levels involved the reading of “tells” (short for “telegraphing”), and the ability to send out misleading “false tells.” She mentioned how she tested people by asking “set up” questions and viewing their responses. She would often ask questions to which she was sure a person would lie, and then remember what behaviors accompanied those responses.
​“Fascinating,” McCarthy said. “Do I have any tells?”
​Betty laughed and studied him more closely. “I haven’t noticed any yet.”
​That night, in a freak blizzard, Betty and I drove to a motel across town where Frank Morton was spending the night on his way home from Los Angeles. Frank was the classic itinerant gambler, as well as a somewhat unorthodox evangelist. He was the liaison who had initially brought McCarthy and Betty together.
​A tall man with graying hair, Frank spoke with a voice that was garbled with years of cigarette smoking, and his breathing was labored. I found him friendly and rather opinionated, but he would listen to your ideas if you could break into the stream of his talk.
​After McCarthy arrived, we all climbed into Frank’s car. The snow and sleet moved on, leaving a violent sand storm in its wake. Frank followed McCarthy’s directions to a Mexican restaurant, and by the time we got there, the wind had died. Frank talked on about the hate among the races in L.A., about people’s lack of trust and the general downfall of the human condition. Each of us added opinions now and then, but it was Frank who monopolized the conversation and filled the air with smoke. We were his congregation. McCarthy sat and listened, offering few observations of his own.
​Back at his motel room, Frank related a number of personal religious experiences that he had had over the years, pointing out the flaws in other people’s lack of faith. I challenged him, saying that one day science would understand these unexplained phenomena for what they really were.
​McCarthy commented that some cultures used drugs to enhance the spiritual experience, and that he had tried LSD before the drug was made illegal. He said that it had helped to open his eyes to these kinds of experiences. Betty recounted having seen the image of Christ on a bus while in Costa Rica. This had been at a time following the casino scam when Betty had been on the run. She said that her experience was as real as our sitting together in the motel room. It had not been a dream or hallucination.
​Always the skeptic, I said, “But how does that prove Christianity? Why not Buddha or Allah? You saw Jesus because you were raised in Jesus-land.” I looked to Frank and McCarthy. Their expressions were sympathetic.
​McCarthy was slumped into one of the chairs with his left leg slung over the arm rest. He appeared a very patient listener. He said that he felt sorry for me because I was unable to grasp this concept of spiritual experience. He said that people all over the world, in every religion, were familiar with this experience. He asked if I’d ever read William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. I had not. His attitude seemed to indicate that in this book were the answers to many of the questions posed during our evening discussion. I was nonplussed. ​ ​“Truth,” McCarthy said about what writers must accomplish in their writing.
​“But what exactly is truth?” I asked.
​“Truth,” he repeated, his implications tacit.
​The next morning, Betty and I were at the motel when McCarthy arrived to go over his response to Betty’s chapter. He had written his critique on separate, smaller pieces of paper. Point by point, he went over his comments, offering occasional praise while not sparing the rod. Afterwards, I listed the three qualities I believed necessary for a person to become a successful writher: “To read a lot. To write a lot. To experience a lot.” McCarthy said that we all had experience enough from which to write.
​Months after our visit, I wrote McCarthy, completing a few thoughts I’d been unable to that night we discussed spiritual experiences. Some time later, I received his reply.
​He said that the religious experience is always described through the symbols of a particular culture and thus is somewhat misrepresented by them. He indicated that even the religious person is often uncomfortable with such experiences and accounts of them, and that those who have not had a religious experience cannot comprehend it through second-hand accounts, even good ones like James’s Varieties of Religious Experience. He went on to say that he thinks the mystical experience is a direct apprehension of reality, unmediated by symbol, and he ended with the thought that our inability to see spiritual truth is the greater mystery.
NOTES
1 He has recently made an exception to this rule, granting an interview to the Richard B. Woodward of the New York Times Magazine on the occasion of the publication of All the Pretty Horses. My account of our visit with McCarthy, neither intended nor conducted as an interview, is published here with his knowledge.
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The Story of Joe Rogan and the Stern Show: “…my problem with Howard's version of the story is that it's complete horseshit"

Hello, Hello. Here's an original rundown of the events leading to Joe Rogan's eventual departure from the Stern Show. If you've enjoyed this, check out my previous behind the scene write ups on the bottom. Thanks.
Howard is kicking off promotion for his latest book Howard Stern: Comes Again. He gives a rare candid interview with David Marchese of the New York Times. David asks Howard about his thoughts on podcasts before turning his attention to Joe Rogan. “Is there an issue between you guys?” he asks. “Yeah, there is,” Stern replies. “I was a fan of Joe’s comedy. He does a great routine about working out with weights with his buddy in the basement, and before you know it, they’re having full-on gay sex.” In typical Stern fashion, he would go on to take credit for Rogan’s success. “So I was a big proponent of his before he was a host on TV, before he got into M.M.A. fighting or whatever. I used to have him on the show...” Stern said.
It’s the year 2000. Joe Rogan had just capped off a five year stint on NewsRadio, a NBC prime time comedy. It would feature the likes of Phil Hartman, who was tragically murdered by his wife in between production of the forth and fifth season. He had also been the backstage and post-fight interviewer for the UFC, a position he’d held for 2 years before quitting. Rogan’s comedy caught the eye of Warner Bros Records, who signed him to a three album deal. Joe would go on to release “I'm Gonna Be Dead Some Day...” on CD and cassette that year. It would gain a cult following thanks to the emergence of peer to peer file sharing in the form of Napster.
The album would get frequent airtime on The Howard Stern Show, where the opening track “Getting Pumped” became a favorite of Howard and the gang. Rogan would make his first appearance on the show September 18, 2000 and talked about the sketch. “My buddy, Bryan Callen, who I did the sketch with… he and I are always doing that, we’re always playing around like that...” It wasn’t long before Howard dug up memories of Joe’s childhood. More specifically, his experience with a pedophile at the age of 12. [AUDIO] “He’s like ‘You know, I just want to tell you that I love ya. You’re a great guy… Yeah, but you know, without sex there could be no real love...’ and I went, what? I just panicked.” He also opened up about his biological father, Joe Rogan Sr. “I haven’t spoken to him since I was seven years old.” His father would attempt to contact him once he started gaining some fame. “He’s tried to do it through his mother and once through his sister… Yeah, when I got on TV. He saw my name somewhere...”
The topic then turned to the murder-suicide of fellow costar Phil Hartman. [AUDIO] “How’d you find out?” Howard asked. “I went out on a date with a girl from Hard Copy. It was a bad date. I never went out with her again. She calls me like three weeks later at like 8:30 in the morning and wakes me up. I’m like ‘What are you waking me up for?’’ She would be one to break the news to Joe. “She’s like ‘You didn’t hear?… I don’t want to be the one to tell you… Phil’s dead’. Immediately after, she’s like ‘What’s going to happen to the show?’” Joe would continue. “It gets worse. I’m in shock. I’m in a coma. I’m turning on the TV. You know, I can’t believe this. Then she goes ‘Joe, we need to get a sound byte from you.’… So I hang up the phone. I’m like ‘I got to go.’ So then the phone starts ringing, everybody’s calling, everybody heard the news, all my friends… Twenty minutes later, she calls again. ‘Joe, um, how are you? OK?’ I’m like ‘I don’t know.’ She goes ‘Listen, we need to get your address.’ I go ‘Why?’, she goes ‘We’re sending a camera crew over. We have to interview you.’”
There was also talk about an incident with another costar, Andy Dick, on the set. [AUDIO] Rogan was in his trailer along with his girlfriend when Andy came knocking. “I was getting dressed and Andy starts pounding on the door. He’s like, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing in there? Are you having sex?’ I’m like, ‘No. Dude, I'm getting dressed. Get out of here’. He’s like ‘Just open up the door. I have to tell you something.’ So I open up the door and Andy’s standing there with his unit in his hand, with his pants half down and wacking it.”
Joe was a hit. He would become a regular from that day on, even sitting in during the show. He also returned to the UFC after an ownership change, where he was promoted to color commentator. More importantly, he became host of the hottest summer show of 2001, Fear Factor. This lead to legendary on air battles with Vinnie Favale, self appointed CBS spokesperson. Vinnie was actually Vice President of CBS Late Night Programming, East Coast, but couldn’t resist any opportunity to defend the network in any capacity. The two would argue repeatedly over the success of Joe’s hit show, which happened to be on a competing network. Usually, in complete denial, Vinnie would try to spin any dispute in CBS’ favor. The host of Fear Factor laid into him during an argument in the summer of ‘01. [AUDIO] “You’re a company man. This is sad. You’re the kind of guy that gets fired from his job and blows his brains out because you believe that everything revolves around your company. You are sucked in. ‘We’re going to kick your asses.’ It's not even you! You’re not even doing anything. You have nothing to do with Survivor. You have nothing to do with the programming. You have nothing to do with the success of it” he said. Their clashes would be a staple of Best Of in the early 2000’s.
However, the relationship between Joe and the show would come to an end in 2004. Stern would go on during that 2019 New York Times Interview. “Joe was a guest one time and I said something to him off the air, which I won’t go into, but he took offense. I haven’t heard or seen him since. I think he made the decision that I was toxic for him. But I hold no grudge.”
On the May 4, 2009 show, the Stern Show would discuss the controversy in some detail. [AUDIO] Howard kicks off the conversation with some tape he has from the previous night. “… So I told you Joe had some problem with me, so he discussed it with Greg Fitzsimmons.” “He wont discuss it with us?” Robin asks. “No, and you know, I remember the exact incident and everything and I knew this is what it was,” Howard says.
Joe would explain his version of events on Fitzsimmons show. “Well, I kind of explained it the last time I was here but, I just try to avoid drama, you know? He said something about me on the air that I didn’t like… He said I hate women and I was like, come on man, really? He said something about us being in a strip club, where we were all in a strip club, and he said, you know… He had did a thing in Vegas and he had hired out a whole section of this strip club. It was pretty bad ass... I remember I was really high and when I’m really high, I can’t get lap dances. It just weirds me out. It’s just too freaky. You can feel this person really doesn’t want to do this, this is their job, then you start thinking about their past. So anyway, he starts saying that I said to them ‘Get away, whores’, which I’d never say. It’s just not true… For me, first of all, it’s like I'm going to have to defend that and whenever you’re defending something like that, it always automatically looks like you’re being defensive because it’s bullshit.” Joe continued, making sure to be clear there were no hard feelings. “I don’t want to even be involved and I just said, I'll just be a fan again… and I listen all the time.”
Howard would shoot back. “I’ll tell you the whole story and Joe’s right. It’s better that Joe doesn’t come on again because he’s building this thing up. You know, first of all, I’m somebody who has guests on and I try to make them comfortable when they’re on the show and I try to be a good interviewer and I also try to, you know, create something. We were in Vegas. Joe showed up to a strip club. It wasn’t my event. I was at a strip club. They had invited us over, am I correct? We were there. I think one of our guys was making an appearance there...
“… Maybe Joe was high or something. He was saying shit about some of the strippers and I said to him on the air that it seems like you’re angry with women. You know, you were just kind of pissed off. He was hateful, you know. You can make the same statements about me about what I do for a living…
“… He was saying stuff to me about the women… He seemed angry and I said to him sometimes it seems like you’re angry with women. What was going on that night? I don’t think he wanted that out there or as he says he didn’t say it or maybe I misheard it…”
Gary would jump into the studio and add his own version of events. “I always thought it was about something I talked about on the radio. Maybe it is something different. I remember we went out one night… We walked into the strip club and Joe goes ‘These girls are all fucking, you know, God, they’re all fucking damaged. I fucking hate these chicks. I’m not even going to get a lap dance,’” Gary said.
Howard would continue and even for a moment, he would second guess himself. “I didn’t mean it as a whole intellectual… I thought Joe would say ‘Hey, Howard. Come on, man. I was tired...’ or you know we’d have some interesting conversation about it but Joe took it really personally and I understand that he did. Now in retrospect, maybe I’m looking at it and going...” but Gary wouldn’t let his boss show weakness. “I don’t know Howard. I think he’s overreacting.” Gary would continue, “We did a lot of good things for him. We had him on the show. You know, we helped him out a lot in a lot of ways. I think at one point I had a discussion with his manager and he’s like ‘You know, if Howard was a friend he would never had said it’ and I said ‘Well, if Joe was a friend, he would have asked about it and discussed it instead of just never talking about it.’”
Howard would end the segment questioning Rogan’s version of events with his own evidence. “According to our show log, it shows that Gary was the one who said Joe called the girls whores. I had also heard Joe saying some stuff and I said to Joe ‘Joe, sometimes it seems like you were angry that night with women’ and I wanted him to talk about it on the air but I guess it was a road he didn’t want to go down.”
The day in question is February 7, 2002. The Stern Show is broadcasting from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on delay. Joe Rogan was the first guest on their opening day. Howard got into a discussion about the previous night.
[AUDIO]
Howard: … then we went over to Club Paradise, the strip club. Then I figured I'd just walk in there and not know anyone. Everyone was there from the show.
Artie: Well I had a big appearance there.
Howard: Yeah, Artie had an appearance there and Stuttering John has one there tonight, but Joe Rogan, you try to act like you’re above the strip club.
Joe Rogan: No. What are you talking about? How am I trying to act like I'm above it?
Howard: You’re always like, ‘Ah, these girls [mumbles incoherently]’
Joe Rogan: What? They’re hot. What are you talking about?
Howard: Yeah.
Joe Rogan: No such thing.
Howard: Alright, I thought… then I just see you sitting there.
Joe Rogan: What are you talking about? You’re making this up.
Gary: Joe uses the word whore about 20 times an hour.
Howard: Yeah, he says ‘these whores’, this, that, and the other.
Joe Rogan: I don’t say it like that. I don’t say it that way. I say it in an affectionate way.
Howard: I think you’re angry with women.
Robin: Well, he does that whole routine about the girls who are angry because he’s using a dollar to get them to take off their clothes.
Howard: That is a good routine…
Stuttering John: …When we were at the pool Howard, you know, Joe looks at me and he goes ‘Look, these are lower shelf hookers here tonight’.
Joe Rogan: That was the first crew.
Howard: They were lovely ladies.
Joe Rogan: Oh, stop Howard. That first crew was rough. Mr. Miyagi with the fake boobs.
Howard: You think because a girl takes her clothes off and dances that she’s a whore?
Joe Rogan: No, not all of them.
Stuttering John: Bottom shelf whores is what he said. That’s what it was.
Joe Rogan: The first crew…
Club Paradise Stripper: Look at you, you Fear Factor guy. You’re just paranoid with women.
Joe Rogan: You’re hot. You girls are hot. I’m not talking about you.
Club Paradise Stripper: Look at you. You were so mean yesterday. You were mean.
Joe Rogan: Mean to who? How was I mean? To you?
The moment ended up being rather uneventful. In fact, this wouldn’t be Joe’s last appearance on the show. He would stop by the studio several more times, most notably on September 22, 2003. Joe is in the studio to promote Fear Factor, The Man Show, and UFC. In what may or may not be a coincidence, there is a woman in the green room waiting to play Stump the Booey who just so happens to have slept with Joe Rogan.
Gary would burst into he studio while Joe was on the couch. “You know, there’s something really weird. We have these girls that are coming on next segment. They’re playing Stump the Booey against me. They’re twins. One of the girls heard Joe on and she’s like ‘ Oh, I have a story about Joe.’”
Her name was Crystal. [AUDIO] “He was my first one night stand,” she said. Joe would vaguely remember the two hooking up many years ago. What she said next would nearly have Joe’s eyes popping out of his head. “… After that wonderful one night stand, I got pregnant,” she announced to millions of radio listeners. Joe was in a state of shock as it was the first time he was hearing the news. “How old is your son or daughter?” Howard asked. “I never kept it,” she replied. The news would send Joe into frenzy, as if Maury Povich himself had opened up an envelope with the DNA results. “Thank you, Jesus!” Rogan screamed. Howard asked Joe if he was nervous that she was going to bring the kid in. “Well, it was a little creepy right there for a moment,” he replied.
Crystal would then go on to talk about her decision to have an abortion. Joe would interrupt. “I’m so nervous right now. My heart is skipping.” Howard asks “What scares you most about that? The fact that you have a kid, that you have to pay… what would scare you the most? Joe didn’t hesitate. “It’s that I would be connected to someone that I really don’t know for the rest of my life and I’d have to deal with her every time I wanted to see the kid, if I wanted to see the kid.” He then admitted it wasn’t even his first abortion predicament. “The other time was when I was 23. It was a girl I was dating”
Fast forwarding to 2004, we find what might have been Joe’s last straw with the show. While previously citing show logs during that 2009 discussion, Howard would make the claim he never made the “Get away, whores” comment. Instead, he would place the blame on Gary. However, a discussion that took place on September 22, 2004 would prove that statement to be false. Comedienne Bonnie McFarlane had stopped by the show and sat in for the news. She was once a writer for The Man Show when it was hosted by Rogan and Doug Stanhope. [AUDIO] While discussing Rogan, Howard would go on to say, “Joe hates women… Joe’s weird. I’ve gone to strip clubs with him and he’s like ‘get away from me, whore.’” Robin would continue the onslaught. “… Even when we were in Vegas together and there were stripper dancers, he was yelling all kinds of horrible things. I was like ‘these women aren’t doing anything to you. Why are you screaming at them?’” They would continue with allegations of Joe yelling at the Juggies, a nickname given to the Man Show dancers. Bonnie would go on to say Joe was the biggest supporter of the Juggies, often yelling at the director for his treatment of the females. However, he would usually follow that up with yelling of his own.
Around 2007, a topic on the incident would appear on the mma.tv message boards. Rogan himself would reply to the allegations. It would be the most detailed version of events during this whole controversy.
… my problem with Howard's version of the story is that it's complete horseshit. I never said ‘get away whores’ to anyone. We were at a party that they were throwing for the show, and there were a lot of pretty strippers, but there were also a lot of unattractive, aggressive ones that were trying to get guys to buy lapdances. Howard, and some of the other guys were getting them, and I didn't want one. The girls were pushy, and all I kept saying is ‘no thanks.’ Somehow, that got turned into ‘get away, whores’ when he got on the radio.
“Howard likes drama, real or created. It makes for good radio. That's all well and good, but I choose not to be put on the defensive for something that I never did. Also, I've got a real pet peeve with the whole ‘you hate women’ tag. It's a weak line that people will throw around to try to define someone, often if they don't like or have a problem with dumb or obnoxious chicks. If you have a problem with dumb dudes, no one ever says that ‘you hate men,’ but you get in one argument with a pushy cunt and that's the cop out they'll always try to use. It's like a lazy black guy that gets reprimanded at work for doing a shitty job, and he cries that the reason he's getting in trouble is because the boss doesn't like black people.
“When you've got a guy that you respect and admire, and you've done his show a bunch of times you think that you're friends. Then, when that guy turns on you and talks shit about you, especially shit that's not true, it's a gross feeling. I'm a loyal friend, and that shit means a lot to me.
“If I had a friend outside of show business and he gave a distorted account of me like that, I would stop hanging around with him, and I wouldn't trust him anymore. I treat my friends in show business the same way I treat my friends in real life.
“As for Howard, I have no ill feelings. I was always a huge fan of the show, and it was an honor to be on it. When I decided to avoid doing the show after this, I started doing Opie and Anthony, and I really enjoyed their show. Jim Norton is a buddy of mine from way back when we both were starting out as stand ups, and I really fucking love being on that show. Plus, I think Norton is the funniest guy on radio. I'll probably do Stern again sometime, I just thought that whole situation was really weak, and I didn't want to be a part of it...
“I still listen to Stern all the time, and I think it's a great show. I've always considered him to be the Johnny Carson of my era. In past eras it was HUGE to get on the tonight show with Johnny and have him ask you to sit on the couch. In my generation, it's Stern. He's the King for a reason. No hate, I just don't feel like being a part of the kind of shit I described….”
Joe would copy and paste his response on the Official Joe Rogan Forum along with a small update:
“ In reading the post back after flying across the Atlantic Ocean (on my way to UFC in Belfast) I had time to think about it, and I think there definitely could be a very convincing argument that I had sand in my vagina when I made it, but I did make it, so i left it up.
“I'm certainly not trying to get in some sort of a battle with a guy that's helped me out, and a guy that I respect very much….”
Joe Rogan would go on to be very complimentary of Stern in the following years. Even when Howard would go on to attack close friend Ari Shaffir about the legitimacy of podcasts, Rogan would continue to show his appreciation for the self appointed King of All Media.
Vinny Favale would continue to take shots at Rogan after his show absence. In a conversation that would take place on March 9, 2005, Gary would question Vinny’s expertise on everything network TV. “I was watching Fear Factor in syndication yesterday on UPN and you told Joe Rogan that show was done, it had a few months left, and it was over”. Vinny, notorious for being the ultimate company man responded, “That show is not a hit though… Where is Joe Rogan? You don’t see him anywhere”.
Rogan would go on to be on of the most listened to voices in the world with the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Vinny Favale would later be pushed out of CBS after allegations of misconduct, which included talking to fellow employees about his erections. New Late Show host Stephen Colbert would distance himself from the creator of the infamous Debbie tapes. “He [Favale] basically came with the building when I got this show...”
If you've enjoyed this, I've also written other original behind the scene rundowns of moments in show history:
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Shift Report

Divining wooly views gathered amidst shaven sheep hither
Withered over swithering stalls denial state of dither
Truth be told frank pens naif soliloquy
Safe as house path hath proven treachery
Steer clear of herd social immunity
Distanced readily available data parsed trendily
Blinks recount lost meanings earned from strife learned through catastrophe
Graft retained splices tour de force movie
Analyzed improvised differently
Can't regain past yet relive history
Elder protocols reference frames with specificity
Documentary denotes concise recusant heresy
Fish stink emanates spoils unquestioned head
Rather than responsible gods chose dead
Lightning rod shields guide flash EMP spread
Relevance revivalist revived rival survivalist
Diatribe analogous corroborates ridiculous
Atoms congress fortuitous naught sea
Devoid self restraint officiates ye
Fitting new attire inspiring streaking
Who protects us whilst we pay for havoc employ they reeking
Hypocritically childish generally speaking
Handshake implies word registers advice
Modern intelligence is artifice
Every three steps forward step back twice
Deities influence me aloof aligned schism in rhyme
Mother Hera ewe chimera godspeed breeds failed design
Bell weather brethren splay scapegoat supine
Veil of illusions enmesh conscious mind
Can't feel my legs good help is hard to find
Hawk departs from pleather glove turtle returns grounded dove
Counteract abet anyone lapped them twice yet still they won
Titans once asked before taking QE
With us or against me democracy
Issuance debt free usury for ye
Soon to be impacting all interested negatively
Cyclops blissfully fail to see plague kills with leniency
World saved through open window tsunami
Backdrops distinct radicle uprooted
Restless tartarus not I confuted
Reputed gambler prophet of doom rigged mind meld welds my tomb
Despondent preach not gloom be democratic or leave cocoon
Imploding race exploding time and space
Unfathomable depths shallow measures
Glasses adorned rose reflective pleasures
Erratic compass static attained gains unsustainable
Emphatically all ages deal unascertainable
Sentiment key to public interest
Democracy assess Big apple bests
Guiding hand meaning Pantheist behest
Seeking one's fulfillment complements of demagoguery
Building baseless pyramid in name of Great Recovery
Hallucination merits upheaval
Remit repreival persecute venal
Sufferance from nescience trumps all evil
Yon morrows martyr covets this abysmal cross commuted
Tread on entrenched fear submit control guiltily included
Govern is to rule as meant to intents
Resourceful proxy heir establishment
Record rallys infer where loans were sent
Pristine colosseums reared commerraderie Fed rum bread
Dropping said crumbs returns dread Which nevermore nary imbeds
Insolvent casino scenario
House always wins with my reservation
Sharing the bulk ignites indignation
Transparency Which critiques subtly speaks Feds peak repent
Weak covenants contained slain whence Green peripherals were went
Theses Ben delivered on depression
Maestro museum managed impression
Keynesian intervention harped dystopian opium
Appeal to supremacy bandwagon psychology
Latin arguementum ad nauseum
Better than expected mass approval
Refuse discard fantasy removal
If you audited our books write off markets on the morrow
No one do we answer to where wheelbarrows go we borrow
Sciences religious mythology
Philosophised finance dichotomy
Genetic archetypal entities
Conversations incidental informations monumental
Facets fawned fastidious selfless attires instrumental
Minions mimic Socratic opinions
Authority inbred majority
Consider selves distinct minority
Yield to ye inferiors subjectively superior
Mechanisms failing sublimation with interior
Greeks conceived benefits in politics
Propaganda versed all in rhetoric
Dwelled anarchic run redeem autarkic
World perceptions inconsistent to obtained views of my own
Optimism timeless shown fantastically overblown
Fate collapses upon observation
Ostriches banked on unexamined lives
Perturbations quantum fluctuations
Foregone measures austere pleasures enforced authenticity
Cessation trepidation ensures no future certainty
Whilst known speed and position now in sync
One makes ye taller yet none make me shrink
Doth not know thyself yore on the brink
Fulfillment will not quail forbidden face of foreign dangers
Entrainment derailed arranged marriage twixt incomplete strangers
Birds of a feather flock with the weather
One marked to market worth two under Bush
Lemmings allegedly demand a push
An existential exercise spins nihilistic nightmares
Nonconformed confirmed uncomfort spirals condescending stairs
Slaughter abolished pig sucklers now fly
Fed up rich bullshit Which lies upon lye
Doth need not for lipstick ride we bone dry
Left to right wrong motivations paved by best intention
Pound me with the cure denounce flesh as impure meets prevention
Overdue elixir panacea
Gold in led stead transmutes alchemist Fed
Spirits confirmed in actions idea
Though hungry swine will freely plow fall submissive tow the line
No offence is meant whence I commence casting pearls before thine
Lead thee to sustenance soon thou shall find
You feed a seed of rage contented caged
That Which hath been remains yet to be seen
One finds upon a wander from yon cave we've left regression
Whence without luminescence stem outlandish such obsessions
Actualized self's realization
Fasting of heart leaves no trace of ego
I fell here from Olympus apropos
Upshot in authenticity shows secure survivors test
Where indiscretions excesses discretely are repressed
Desperate knowledge grievous awareness
I first blew reed pipes but then I digress
Values eroded integrity
Climate corroded ideals irresponsibility
Satisfied my agency autonomous capacity
Bet Dow hath finally had a bad day
Bear in mind they will say twas anway
Old high still standing gold stones throw away
Shorting shooting slope of hope enormous towers treacherous
Each new era crashes in increasing half glass emptiness
Overabundance deserts time delay
Accounts inner morality decay
Strength in pessimism fear forfeits right
Dusk withdraws from sight as shade is drawn over dawn's early light
Narcissistic psychopaths inherited the earth our plight
Quarrying light inspired murky night flee
Ye gods laugh heartily ridicule me
Reckoning another day mine shall be
Subsequently I subsist shifting this rock as Sisyphus
Future pulls upon me as due ration to minus remiss
I'm half crazy bicycle built for two
Network circuitry daisy chained to you
How do I know what is reel to be true
Gather input sensations scrutinize for degradation
Dissembling dissemblance as lacking in resemblance
Singularity prophesied end be
Less threat than icons presently envied
Graven is our image in our idol
Misunderstood system holds revolutions banked on bridle
Give me dominion over doe I care not who makes law
Hegellian dialectic shock and awe
Fixed moments instability move becomes necessity
Moses leads bull rush reeds deceptive swaith
Crisis opportunity incompetence seasons good faith
Fallow plot begot furlough shrieks foul wraith
Yay though I plod through the valley of death
Evil gives comfort my rod and my staff
No fear preparest for my enemies
Parasitic symbiotes surviving vicariously
Job gyrations exploitations sloth thrive ubiquitously
Unnatural select evolution
Bad apple genes rot barrel pollution
Big bang extends concussions extrusion
Elude intrusion neath tapestry relay inscribed decree
Conspiracy theories deliquesced evidence coalesced
Duress dressed as justice undue process
Reduce the law to writ for oversight
Infinitely rules stretch fractally tight
Dollar press lever Wizards tweak whence practised Which deceiver
Feeding frenzy at the top on last chair hot potato drops
Animal farm irrigation believer
Cuckoos in nested loops launched retriever
Social ecological equity
Fauna all created equal although some are more than most
Perched aloft nights sleepless roosters backdate options after posts
Tell a vision avulsed exclusive boasts
Foxes bird box hens fake news oven roasts
Occupy Wall Street greeting champagne toasts
5G technology expandable densification
Cameras considering Laws actual ramifications
Depressions perpetuate FOMO motes
FIFO Ponzi scheme boat redeems fresh float
Gloat sessions connoted roat smote through goat
Destructions need demands feed for Which Fed never hesitates
Beyond salvations hope for damnation destined reprobates
Wolf in sheep's clothing with diplomacy
Bragging best ever broke economy
Pre warned of bubble in candidacy
Memories impeach me markets relapse collapse candor
Black and white deliberations compromise grey matters or
Burning empire riddled Nero fiddled
No new under the sun any longer
What doth not kill my will makes ye stronger
Suicidal quarantine commit sheer to absurdity
Crash course in urgency suspends to decade Odyssey
Engulf journey as is illusory
Entailed magical curtailed mystery
Reproduced sequence spawns duplicity
Great truths infect minds space whilst time distorts fabrics ablation
Balanced scales duration dual edged knife grinds calibration
Wildlife exhumed landslide menagerie
Submission supports popularity
War of attrition print press edition
Release Kraken abridged dictations unredacted memo
Cognitive mind is least informed second thought tis last to know
Feedback iterates habitually
Zombie apocalyptic shopping spree
Animal myriad corroboree
Discrepancies adorable approaching deplorable
Configured integrations simulate exaggerations
Conceptual reorganization
New century frail clings frayed to pale past
Dot com bust imprints last iconoclast
Tragic disposition anchored significance within story
Spherical lyrical expository mourning glory
Expansion dominates fertility
Appropriate most apt utility
Bubble envelops errs infinity
Bold ignorance advanced hind sights distilled new high arrogance
Underlying trauma repeats cycle till addressed complete
Sublates convergence becoming congeals
Cavernous kingdom stalagmite conceals
Peer not in mirror prefer not appeal
Sew a thought in hope to reap an action something real to feel
Neverland begotten old whilst kid futures are oversold
Life lived not lest bits of bites record it
Biased suggestions imbue news reported
Syrinx sears titans with my brand of creed
Written word ceded all forgotten need to practise recall
Calculated math skills lost computer brought thoughts holocost
Ensconced by lantern hung from beam of straw
Helios heals blow of iced ages thaw
Loyal to natural attributes raw
Extraordinary delusional madness of ye crowds
Trot proudly upon road to serfdom congregations praised aloud
Brave was this new world before eighty four
Hunger games in store jaybird tweets that score
Jehovah bore witnesses door to door
Insure myself against four horseman
paid my tithe expired spent
Sow ears flying high on credit barely do I afford rent
Time unwinds quickly at least doth for me
April showers levee spring bankruptcy
Litres live forever in latency
Bailing water steady rising deep subterraneously
Foresee floods invest in arks of financial calamity
Extraneously Rome's blaze radiates
Simultaneously Fed Witches toiled
Slow perniciously satiates frogs boiled
Crisis constructs messenger of sordid too tongued character
Stocks which rise so should slide chosen goose footing egg opposed side
Federal innovates imbibed bribed state
Reserves umpire status hunched hind home plate
Falling knife of fear impaled atmosphere
Short bets squeezed rife barren years unfruitful bleeds contango wine
Inverse ETFs unprecedented reverse splits declined
Nothing it's equal creature without fear
Can't fill hide with harpoons or head with spears
Mire strive dire try pull in Leviathan
Endless procrastination doth avert intent deflation
Unclear when routes passage appears clear as destination
Sorrows station seems my inculcation
Divides built up babble between nations
Seven trumpets summon revelation
Electrostatic circumstance transmits catalytic twist
Substitute reacted chemical transmits platonic tryst
Ironically passion not my goal
Ionically bonded blending coal
Mirrored dipole roll poised down rabbit hole
Experiment first ever repeats Laws defraud endeavor
Mississippi reflating dollar debt exchange creating
Wealth effect transfers helicopter drop
Fracking reserves crack too big to stop
Ineptitude or evilly adept
Calm filled the room as elephants silently drowned in tar pits
History Which hails tense whence Fed injections flew to market
Lucrative house flipping stained soil carpet
Real reign swamp purge comes to street again
Broken window theory frisk fallacy
Destructions need graciates feed for Which Fed never hesitates
Seven headed hydra twixt blaspheming regime duplicates
Purgatory epic allegory
Apathy lacks worry for avoidance
Dreams annoyance recurring clairvoyance
Complacent consternation burns concerned capitulation
Catacomb further catenates future pyroclastic blasts
Install a new partition date saved last
God creates man's imaged eternity
Man made device for immortality
Only way to beat life be articulate as dead machine
Foiling might be finding wanting nothing just as pleasing
Emoted thoughts and deeds confer disease
Viral joy contained anxious unease
Communicable known uncertainties
Mention stoic abstention receive lepers reprehension
Addend subconscious attention suchness sought destination
Protectionist tribal groupthink ensues
Misdirect blame profane color thou choose
Divide and conquer plan by Jove we use
Minting for a living tis nothing short of scintillating
Weaponry mass produce we entropy disintegrating
Rebirth essential in this finite trap
Technicals crucial analysis map
Impulse mined collective wiretapped caps
Souls endless extrapolating each threshold encapsulating
Mutually affecting Titans ever overreaching
Battles march business no fight beseeching
Cyanide reaction gold is leaching
Settle for distraction Athene’s teaching
Shares fabricate infrastructure bonds for manufactured war
Master in ways of deception weaving fleece her predilection
Declined vine illustrates interjection
Fundamentally ye add furthermore
Whole vacuus nature I find abhor
Each new day opportune to go by street sideshow pundits shout
Marginally most will comply seek aggressive salesman clout
Run through stampede proceed in funnel out
Mosaic tile code mixed mirage mud grout
Worm abated hook ate some fat cat’s trout
Informed when glad relate when mad great is not the worst we've had
Next quarter rates Which inflates translates to direct tabled fate
Disinformation chads dangling depart
Troublesome travel when horse pushes cart
Trojans craft driftwood regifted as art
Taken rate decision interest always is a given
Approached encroachment infringements lunged impingement I expunged
Spell manifests as living hell digests
Calcareous sponge absorbed rimstone plunge
Cookbook to serve lamb seals underhand
Sinter sauntered asunder plotting pillage of my plunder
Attack technique intervenes quoth slighted victim claims obscene
Cried mystified feeling such waste sprayed mace
Save face retrace find safety inside shrouded space
Access filter modified denied trash storage verified
Angels four spew brimstone fire scorched ingress half expected less
Trick talk turns back clock players profiles rotate roles resume
Covertly campaigned defiling my name
Creations Instigate destruction
Erupts surreptitious instruction
Bewildered heard shocked embrace loomed Gates of Hell gauge WHO won race
Military missionary hold prostrate to vaccinate
Chaotic Kronos ordered time consumed
Stow stoked fumes subsidies gave the gods room
Whilst land of the fraud is home to the knave
Babylon of living nonexistent through the golden age
Cassandra of this stage ilk ignores inklings of alarmed sage
Chicken little forebodes sky is falling
Rope a dope fades rationalisation
Brittle doth be fragile ye recalling
Loquacious news needs slews feigned of disambiguation
Mendacious or fallacious contagious be implications
Butterfly flapped wing doth not move a thing
But a gnat perhaps who's too GAD to fly
Financing is how but where is the why
Important that all patriots patronize conquesting troops
Dodge ye head stoop as pooping eagle swoops
Most dismissive uninspired missive
Perceptually far too derisive
Guiding hand not apparent visual
Missing cash flows continual residual bottom lines
Pinnochio hopes to know Which ideal conjures growth sublime
Dendrites potentially stimulate spine
Titanic torrents mist venetian blinds
Decidedly distort bilked disincline
Writhe in through chasm in awe open wide
Formless figures summon uniform pride
Dismiss discontent conveyors subside
Tributaries dispersed springs knowledge trees freeze molten ore
Splintering sparks displaced thick dark coruscate tangible floor
Cumulus clouds of primordial dust
Question our senses in sun god we trust
Sifted silts produce thunderbolts of Zeus
Oval elliptical orbits the folds tidal tendency
Blue sphere girds spoken word breathed clay Boulder Forge Company
Quality moulding is job number one
Caste mass producing consumes many sons
My duty to ensure we always run
Figured would be a piece of cake more at work than give and take
Thought this would be my big break but not knowing literally
Apprenticed construction now I maintain
Composite skill same commissioning game
Swim or wallow in Uranus disdain
I made the trade not for reward nor deemed security
Only gospel guarantee is confidence in mastery
Tasked to sit in a chair contemplate stare
Crosswords in wait for a breakdown repair
I study craves of machines which behave
Rhythmic clang links chain react percussional power set free
Insatiable harmony piques morbid curiosity
Beast belly bowel bubbles belch smelt death
To quota of product do I owe breath
Economic cauldron of corrosion
We operate Vesuvius ungodly hours breathing brine
Facilitate yon amplidyne oxygenate lavas shine
Steering eather into three cyclops cells
Myopically they motion for me when cycles in chaos my sirens knell
Lion hearted as Hephaestus take knee before crucibles hearth
Examine vitals symptoms prognosis deduce further impart
Volt amps transcend times root of three powers
Frequently electrons ebb in order
Arc bath gives rise to hot molten showers
May bring flowers demonstrate my will in accord rewards her
Athena is truth incarnate dream she is a movement
Immaculate perfection possessed no
need for improvement in her coveralls
Wert she to eaten apple I befall
Sand disseminates beneath hourglass curves she manipulates
How could I anticipate
Rapt hints had she to intimate
Roots hypotenuse squares summed pendulum
Enlightened visions profound pit this plum
On que she hooks her thunderbolts so ample in restriction
Destabilized my volts despite my amping up conviction
Magnetisms repulsive attraction
Bipolar feedback generates action
Machining floral dissatisfaction
Narcissus is spring can't this robot tool be taught anything
Recommence imaging thine vault undermined after fault
Intuit as her nuclear annihilates tumult
June accusations forced violation
Vulnerable to invalidation
Confrontations repudiation consents allegation
Placate June”s wells breached swell fore July conflagration
Use wu wei to vacate situation
But weightless behemoth ate all greenbacks
Can’t manage exit not even a crack
Inward forays shunned malfunction unknown overgrown morass
Cult of quantity all students get a pass coach seat class
God’s walled over all access to egress
Those who cannot do are experts at best
Past practise succeeds failures teach what needs
Viridescent pools dilate grey eyed dubious stressed madness
Feeling she was slighted by my passage through her nucleus
Disinterested I had disinterred
Down period Kondratieff winter
Intrinsic tragedy all fairy tales end inherently
Gave me what I wished for in a way I was not hoping for
Destiny permits paths forbade
How shallow wilt thou will wade
PCB cesspools black bile pitches glue
Smoldering sand dune trenches shore magmas excess residue
Admit this time smashing cymbals whilst cyclops wert drumming too
Keep the fantasy alive in my head
Earthquake take other route instead
Always say they never saw it coming
They did In Herculaneum still their brains steamed in their skulls
Summer solstice solace lulls lava ladles plentiful
Cumulative studies validations
Inseminate process degradation
Trying not to mention my invention
Bending toward normalcy absorption emits diffraction
Inverted perceptions withdraw inflections from emptiness
Perplexing she rejects ram intellect
Anecdotal evidence cached respect
Zip plans to stockpile cognizance combined
Designed secret punishment to circumvent I resigned
Recollect for instance cognitive lessons in dissonance
Logic accepts one view perceived of two
Pit of mine stomach whence knot always knew
Treasonous betrayed lion taming shrew
Spite cleaved interface continued dutiful onward pace
Humiliations goal wert to replace cheers with disgrace
Orchestrations untold meticulous
Malevolence is still in existence
Narrative streams unfold conspicuous
Childish bliss unscrupulous epidemic Narcissus
Invasive species multiplied since Zeus supplied his sun’s abyss
Affect change rather than effect ere cause
Gaslight obfuscates reasonable laws
Tall tales half truths edged lies by omission
Unwary reprehense motive intents of recognition
Splitting of the faculty augments a new reality
Fight freeze or flee options only three
Trials choose middle choice typically
Stockholm syndrome captors figured friendlies
Volunteer for brunt of blame acquiesced toxic shame domain
Raging stirs steroid cortisol adrenaline cocktail brain
Idealize devalue sudden discard
Benevolent dictatorship abstained
Without the faintest regret or regard
Figured she was playing me but never thought she'd try so hard
Had a little influence pummeling blacksmith into bard
Feeling flashback symptoms PTSD
Reflux acid regurgitates anxiously
Facilities shut down my apogee
Estranged entanglement is indiscriminate vicinity
Projection deflects inspection detects proffered rejection
Upon reflection I/O failed connection
Reverse detail switched doppler direction
Attacked mine tranquility enacted thine stability
Great relationships determined by good portability
Amor Fati defeat of agony
Heroic transitions affirmation
Chinks of crevasse evasive to bypass
Labyrinth strings web of deceit light and dark unlikely meet
Shadows reconnection Schadenfreude revels surrection
Maze ambled afore trapped in Minotaur
Disintegrating reintegration
Unfurled divest individuation
Emergence of self under siege August surfacing intrigues
Sun god aims retribution penetrating air dilution
Perpetrating vengeful execution
Cyclop's blindsided coming attraction
Apollo's exaction vents extraction
Redress reclaimed door discharged from mine chore
Concussions cavitations roar gaff retrieved my staff from shore
Gangplank fastened transit for deck from wreck
Embodied under mass gravitation
Nothingness consistent contradiction
In retrospect ahead investigate that Which is suspect
Chastened flaming embers titillate orange September moon
Hastened retreat not an instant too soon
Burgeoning three wave prosperity shewn
Wave five trait mimics Echo past monsoon
Perpetually parallel dramas punctual insane
Aphrodite's inception purged migraine foam seethed fire in vain
Twain hath liquidity trickled down drain
Consult oracle ogle tangent plane
Bow to stern brood tempestuous coxswain
Demurrage fee aptly sought to regain lay of way terrain
Masked my gnashing lion waves stumble as they spread before me
Mountain rubble crumbles bloodied red sea
Locusts cannibalistic commotion
Uncanny notion overt devotion
Fixed betwixt twin scorpions stings subtle by a hares degree
One longs to age as seas submit one hole subliminally
Desire loves desire more than that desired
Overtime I find wanting displeasing
Fuel to fire Aphrodite’s teasing
Symptomatically nymphomaniac releasing
Random cosmos berth patterned beyond cyclic perimeter
Doth not feel momentum ye be the tide
Volume reduced ambient limiter
Futile to resist flow fatal to ride
Impressed by the strung rope ladder of unquestioned good status
Doctors orders therapeutic regressive Hedonism
Bureaucracy forced parentalism
Founding fathers Titan nepotism
The health preventative catechism
Give only to take away to give again another day
Rewards gods some token compensation
Anyone here not get paid besides me
Red light starboard wax eared crew rendezvous
Bounded by my sacrifice to irresponsibility
None of the other prize winning
players gamble here but me
Battened down fear gauge groups psychopathy
Ever since world went into bankruptcy
Call for Panic Zeus black masked his swan song
Yarn for youthful innocence gone stick slip traction moves this throng
Tread borderline separating time providing till from when
Uneven Titans tip unbalanced ships
Dualities tune unity in trine
One thing I did learn when within confine
Whom hath desire for nothing believes doth not need anything
Misinterpretation required missing zero still a thing
Axons bemoan sequence of no return
Feeling slight injustice step forward commandeer ambition
Venus akin to mine headache just better known rendition
Under spotlight favorite position
Internally propelled by externals
Take this Autumnal equinox swear on the cross tis vernal
All the gods explicitly sing chants how lucky I must be
Bring Mordor back to toss this precious ring
Prospect she fertilized inferring seed
Open union upon Which we agreed
Karma conflates heavens gates contrived in Pandemonium
Green shoots elate consummate concerns inspire Pavlovian
Theories cosigned conspiracies maligned
Impermanence ineffably refined
Ignorance binds energy disinclined
Universal conception pride of self
love contraception
Trying to be pliable but find it reprehensible
All dispensable Great Complacent Sea
Sizing words wisely rids ostensible
Lies the only guise now found comprehensible
Prophylactic allude to didactic
Though whilst I work at chore she’s Ares whore
I snagged them embarrassingly naked afore gods before
Yellen Helen neither nor wert worth war
Bowl of wrath judgement ignored poor decor
Titans empathizing with swimming clothes
In her throws she extolled excitement being extra exposed
Far be it from she to assume joint responsibility
Exponential debt credits game theory
On that we agree tis rigged currency
Opportunistic imperialists
Propaganda grasshoppers enlist ants backbone socialist
Can't remember when gathered last had a say any matter
Other nations forfeit right to do it
Export of inflation needs conduit
Concert donates borders New World Order
Blockchain came about when drunk bartender could not reach the spout
Yahweh will control all money now they have it figured out
Waiting for my minute to be clever
Stamp my name on the gods minds forever
My switchblade really needs to cut them off
No clue what the gods know only that they need to run the show Narcissistic parasites charisma lands entitlement
Vampires nourish roots to stunt encouragement
Protocol enticing invitation
Condemnation staged cooperation
Intolerable acts left no coercive tea leaves intact
Coven of bag passing Witches gave chase across red waters
Need another nine stitches sons twixt daughters
Waiting in the balance moment of force
Hatch guillotine MRI triggered source
Soaked up dripped Wyrmwood postulated solvent tasted good
Full equilibrium half ballast set assail for malice
Octobers placid benign chilled chalice
Brain scan photocell senses light all is well
If instead bulb shows dead off with thee head
Also as a godsend bonus honed mom’s splendid jury throne
Captive chaperone audience fettered judgement chains inlaid
Skipping to a Witch hunt after masquerade
Topside upper deck on the promenade
Propellor fashion later ohm made blade
Behooved turtle jail sac tail flailed back satyromaniac
Passionate parade personifying Nature of tirade
Horney gimp hind quarters brace graced limp
Llama spitting image of Obama
Clinton's dole out cigars contribute scars
All guests in attendance dressed as promised change we forget lest
Salubrious familiar strangers grooving Harvey Danger
Politically free redundancy
Reagan closed asylums threw away key
Identity hath no cost found when lost
Consolidations vibrate quantized sinusoidal noise
Pullback hull triangulate alow by my device and Echo
Feel lonely frost amongst the other masks
Survival is appeasing to their tasks
Remember November elect Semper
Meaning faithful to all members not just only archaic
On the way to office run your head
through photovoltaic
Vanishing quickly old liquidity
Seven plagues capsized immortality
The line hath paid out to the bitter end
Too big to sail exhale replications glorification
Night zeniths elevation nadirs sun's regeneration
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