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Regardless


by

L.P. Stribling

Start over, you need to start over.

Not entirely, but with your thoughts,

With where you think you need to be.

Start over.

’T’s cold outside. Empty.

Don’t see many people walking around.

You’re not them. Focus on you.

You’re ready to meet your own people,

Remember, we’re starting over.

I’m a writer. Regardless.

Regardless of what words are,

Written on my lanyard, of what it says

on my driver’s license, my résumé,

or what comes of the mouths of my loved ones

Pertaining to the question of “what it is I do.”

I’m a writer.

And I recognize that,

Because I’m starting over.

Quick drive down. Cut the engine.

Now I’m with them – the only ones who know

Who I really am. I know them too.

We smile, we laugh as we snack.

Because we all get. Regardless.

Regardless of what words are used out there.

We’ve started over.

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That’s a Whole ‘Nother’ Issue


I hate it when people say that.

Here’s the deal. There is no such word called ‘nother.’ There has never existed any such word. It’s not real. Doesn’t exist and likely (the gods help me) won’t. Yet, it’s omnipresent in colloquial speech, isn’t it? We hear it all the time in some sort of string of words like the above (title). They’ll say things like, “That’s a whole nother thing,” or “That’s a whole nother situation.”

Or, if you’re Snoop Dogg, you say “If it ain’t one thing, it’s a muthaf*ckin’ notha.*

My wife and I attended a soirée last evening with some friends, and at some point, a discussion related to English grammar emerged. Here’s the question: is there any English situation in which you can use the words ‘an’ and ‘other’ separately and it’s correct? A separate side question would be ‘if I use these two words separately in an essay or within a piece of formal writing, is it incorrect?

At the time, I didn’t have the magic of Google to help me in my linguistic side quest; that had to wait until later. But I was still intrigued by the question.

Historically, the word ‘another’ came from, you guessed it, ‘an other’ at some point in the 16th Century. I haven’t done the research, but I don’t think there’s a huge mystery as to why this happened. It’s the same reason why most literal amalgams occur, and that’s for easy of pronunciation. Even if you look at it separately (an other), you want to read it with a space or a lull in your words. No need, right?

I have since looked this question up and, though most voices out there are adamant in proclaiming the existence of a grammatically acceptable allowance for the separation of words, there are a couple voices out there which say otherwise. One entry said that if you were describing “a different one,” you could use ‘an other’, but if you were describing one more of the same, you would use ‘another.’

Much of what I landed upon was a football field of fora dedicated to the topic. Many who were voicing their opinions on whether or not it was correct, and if the separated term existed or not.

I simply find it interesting, and I’m willing to leave it at that.

But, please, whichever side you choose, I beg you to stop using the ‘a whole nother’ nonsensical phrase. It’s not something we need our progeny growing up with. Now, what we do give our progeny with regard to language education is a whole other matter..

LP

 

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Jars


Jars
(a five-minute story by L.P. Stribling)

original

He collected them in a dark room, but they weren’t for sale. It’s not that there wasn’t a market. And it’s not that he couldn’t make a lot of money. There was, and he could. It was just that, in this particular realm of his life, he considered himself selfish.

“There we go,” he said. “One more friend in your circle.”

He spoke to them openly. He never heard their responses, but he knew that they spoke back to him.

When the police came to his house in early August, they did more than come with a warrant. They came with a team, each with ten persons or so. He was detained immediately. That was the easy part. They had to actually go through the house, with all of the rumors and stories weighing on their shoulders.

They found the doorway down into the dark after several hours of searching. They hesitated at first. They took deep breaths and full-charged flashlights, and they went down.

Their lights didn’t help from the horrors they found. Dead things hanging, rotten smells floating. Diseases, aches, and pains. Sicknesses of the word that were probably best kept from it.

And then, at some early hour of the morning, they found the jars.

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Getting the Words Down


Writers write for different reasons, different purposes, and like fingerprints, no two of them are the same. I read an article today by Dan Wells, modern-day author of a horror series called the ‘John Cleaver Series’, who talked about how he doesn’t write for any other reason than to tell a story that must come out.

That’s one way to do it.

Others write to get paid; let’s face it, there are those of us out there who follow the often overly used adage of ‘do what you love.’ Even others because they know they’re good at it and that’s what they want to do. There are multiple reasons to write. It can be anything you want it to be. You don’t have to be a writer of goblins and zombies. You can just as easily be a freelance writer who takes on any job if it pays well enough. You can write about sports, engineering, how to install hardwood floors, or how Keeping Up with the Kardashians is an essential element of American education (fact). If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You can read all you want to (encouraged), and talk about writing to whomever for as long as you want to, but none of that will put your fingers on the keys.

At the end of the day, it’s about being committed, seeing it through. It also depends on your goals. It can be whatever you’d like it to be, whatever you dream it to be. But in order to realize the big dreams, you have to have the big heart and the determination to do the hard work. It’s just like anything; you have to put in the time. You just have to put in that time over and over and over, and before you know it, you’ve improved. It helps to harken back to one of those antiquated quotation of relevance similar to the one spoken by Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello regarding patience.

There are people in this life we idolize, places we use as the backdrops of our dreams, and conversations, which, regardless of our defiance of the fact, render themselves immortal. Bidden or not, they visit us regardless, as much during the waking day as they do when we sleep. These are unlike the countless other merciful gypsies of the world of the incorporeal world, those who understand that form and formless alike are separate beings, each with its own desire, destination, and hunger. What I speak of here are those who reject that separation, reject the laws of independence of life travel. I speak here of those dream aggressors who use their own formlessness to pester, invade, and eventually command their targets. I’m speaking of those things of dream that begin with harmless intent, by saying something simple, something like, “give me a hand?”

I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago and put it aside. Then, last night in a daze I opened up the document again and reread it.

What in the world was I talking about? I shook my head then as I do now; I haven’t the slightest idea as to what I was going on about. It was important to me, clearly. It was something I had to get down, but I cannot recall where I was going. But looking back, it doesn’t matter. I’m certainly not going to allow myself to become emotionally or professionally unhinged simply because I didn’t know where I was going. It was a free-write, and therein lay a lesson.

The writer writes. It’s the first rule Neil Gaiman lists in his top eight rules for writing. It’s not just him, either. Many others have publicly given the same advice, and it would by my supposition that writers worldwide (even those who have passed) would tell you that without that first rule, there’s nothing “writerly” about your professed position as a ‘writer.’

That’s really all you need. Yes, yes, there is the whole thing about getting it edited, copy-edited, finding an agent, getting it published, marketing it, and so on and so forth. But you don’t need to worry about any of that right now. Worry about that when you get there.

That’s it. Right now all you have to worry about is putting the words down on the page. If you’ve ever seen the wonderful writing-inspired movie, Finding Forester, you know that there should be very little thinking up front. All that complex work comes later.

Right now, just the words.

DnD, Uncategorized

Faëryn’s Journal (79) – Day IV: The Makings of a Party


interior

The opulence of the castle’s interior held its radiance as I trailed the wizard’s quiet steps. White walls shot into the sky of its insides, far outside the scope of my vision. I could not help but feel out of place here in these halls; my level of comfort had long been part of the body that was the forest, the trees, and the spirits within them. Although I was the guest here, my body was not right.

The echoes which drifted back to us were those of our footfalls, and they were more whispers than anything else – almost phantasms of sound playing games with my Elvin sense of reality. They existed only if I seemed to imagine them, and when they were not, I questioned whether I imagined them at all.

Upon my travels through the towns of men, I had learned of the word ‘chandelier’ – an arrangement of lights hanging from somewhere above. I did not know the reason for this ceremony, nor why the arrangement of the lights never followed any sort of specific pattern. At first sight, I remember feeling almost afraid. The only reason for such a gathering of luminescence in the High Forest was generally a fire, and one that bright was cause for alarm. Yet those in the world below were mere flickers of a candle compared to those hanging above us as we walked the halls in this place of sorcery. I looked upon them at first with awe in their arrangement. Stagnant glimmering things, they reminded me of the fireflies of my home – giddy spirits of flight and whimsy, which hummed through environments of positivity and celebration. But these were all clustered together, and they changed color, dimming from hue to hue in a progress I could not follow.

But they were floating. The lights were not made in the cities of man, but from some other ethereal material. They were simply hovering fountains of flowing light – and I was there as audience, captivated by their glimmer, their changing color, and their glittered mystical showers.

“My friend.” Heinekin was smiling in the glow of his long untarnished robe. I noticed I had stopped following him and had been led astray by the show of lights off to one of the two sides. Heiniken stood at the other side of a small stone bridge, under which flowed a calming white stream, the extremities I did not attempt to discover. I shook myself away and made my way across the bridge, rejoining my guide.

Several turns and archways later, we entered a room occupied by four others. “Here we are,” Heiniken said, stopping and turning to welcome me to pass him on the way inside. He gestured to an open seat at a short table made of red oak. The light caught the surface and it glimmered as I approached. I noticed the others standing in my periphery. They had risen as we came in. I made cursory eye contact, and brought my eyes back to the glitter-clad stone floor. I took my seat before I allowed my head to swivel in surveying of those seated around me.

“You sure that’s your seat?”

I looked up to the gentle growl of a voice. A swirl of fright rolled through me. Sitting across from me was a ~

KIra

“Dragon!” I yelled and the lightening of my reactions thrust me backwards. My seat dropped and my body slammed upon the unforgiving stone. I rose in a flash to my feet, the string of my bow pulled, but my hands shaking with the unsure arrow. Three trials later, just as I had the bow and arrow placed at the ready, they flung from my hands. They moved through the air, separated and lay lightly upon the oaken surface of the communal table.

“It’s not often that guests break my furniture during their first day here,” Heiniken said.

I looked up at him. His demeanor was wizardly – calm, implacable, and I was unsure as to how to read it. Some chuckles came from the table, then I looked down to find the wooden chair now in small jagged wooden pieces across the stone.

“Oh great Mielikki, dear, I’m so very ~”

He chuckled and I watched then each piece, great and small, reform and connect, and the chair in seconds was again standing just as I had found it when I walked in. “Now, shall we try again?” he asked. “Kira, since you’ve already initiated contact, perhaps you should begin.”

The dragon thing cleared its throat and stood. Its frame actually lowered as it stood erect. It’s scaly skin was a beautiful reddish orange, and its eyes were of the same color, but richer and clear.

“I’m Kira, and you needn’t fear me devouring you whole. I am a dragon, yes, but not a full dragon. Not exactly,” she said. “I’m Dragonborn. It should be enough for now that I tell you this much – that I won’t kill you. I’m new here as well.” She gestured to everyone around the table with a nod. “Everyone is.” There was a pause then and I wasn’t sure if she sighed then or was unsure as to what to say to me next. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” she said. She grunted and sat back down in her seat. It seemed that it was more the case that she sat ‘up’ in her seat, but perhaps it was a strange ritual of her culture to which I was simply unfamiliar. I was weary of such things; I have never seen those of this creature’s features. The others were human-looking and I felt more accommodated to their ways, but I took my time looking at the draonborn, not knowing what at all to expect from her.

The others went around the table introducing themselves. From the dragonborn there was Tom Cullen, a younger nondescript human. He seemed to me like a farm worker, one closer to nature, from the way he dressed. But it was his behavior that was the most unnerving. I have only found humans to be those I am unable to read. I’ve gotten better with my experience, although most of it has been at a distance. My interaction with them has not always been the most intentional. But this one made my insides strange, turning, different.

He spoke quietly with his eyes down, not to any one of us directly. efusing to focus on those who would listen to his words. His hands fidgeted with something as he spoke. I spotted it instantly as currency, human coin. His hand twirled it back and forth across his knuckles. But the coin moved seemingly without his conscious effort. He looked up and met my eyes once. He made a quick assessment of my face as his fingers allowed quick tickling of the round ounce of silver. He brought his knuckles together and the coin flipped back and forth from one hand to the next.

He straightened then, and smirked. He brought his hands up to his face, begging my eyes to watch. “Did you know that the skin,” he whispered. “Makes the best of masks.” In a fluttering of his fingers, he turned his hands back to me, showing palm and his hand’s obverse. The coin was gone.

“Malcer,” said the man next to him. His voice was grumpy and sounded like the grinding roots of dying elms. A wilted denim hat sat plopped upon the silver tufts which hung upon a young man’s face. His drab traveling robe in need of a good river wash spoke of a man who had known more of the road away from the city of man than the city itself.

“Faëryn of the High Forest,” I said. My voice low with my slight bow.

He grunted. “Been around there a few times in the last hundred years or so. I remember sharing a cup of cinnamon oak wine with your kind once. I was young then, helped out an Elvin friend with some issues with the leaves of the Grandfather Tree.”

I heard my home on this man’s lips and placed my hands together in an Elvin butterfly salute. “Your travels warm the land of my home,” I nodded slightly in the respectful gesture of this man I had never met.

He grunted again, “Cute little fella’” he said. “I was sorry to hear about what happened to your home. And your father.”

Fire grew within me.

“And I don’t think you had a chance to get out of it, if that makes any sense. You or your family.”

“How do you speak of my father like you knew him?” My reaction was swift, but caused by something that still played me like an elm flute.

The man shook his head and looked around the table briefly. “Heineken, I have reason to believe that not all present are understanding of the workings of a wizard.”

The wizard of the castle addressed me then, calmly. “No need to be so hasty for answers, my dear Sylvan. All in good time.” He handed the voice over to the last member of the table other than me, a burly tree of a man who greeted me only with the smiles of the sun. A light from above shone upon him, taking my focus off Malcer, his denim hat falling into the shadows. Heineken’s house was an animal under its master’s control.

“Blessings young traveler,” he said, his arms opening as he leaned in. Without the slightest hesitation his oaken arms crunched me into him and I was clung to his body with force. I yelped a bit and the pressure vanished as he pulled back and held me by the shoulders. “Oh Sweet Lathander, are you all right?! What’s wrong?”

“Elves,” Heineken cut in, “Mr. Thresh, are not accustomed to the necessities of physical touch as you are.”

The man turned back to me and guffawed. “Ha! Well, you have my apologies, young friend. I am Dolan Thresh.” He held a hand out, realizing it would be more accommodating greeting for my kind. Abashedly, I bowed my head and offered the butterfly greeting of my people with my introduction.

“It is by the grace of Lathander the Bright that we have shared this path. You have my sword, my blood, and my heart.”

There was an exhaustive sigh across the table. “Can we sort of push things along, please.” Tom Cullen was looking at Heineken pleadingly.

“Wizards, Mr. Cullen, are often want to enjoy a bit of human spirit,” said our host, graceful. “But yes,” he addressed the party as a whole, “we may continue after we hear from you, Faëryn.”

My words were few, but I stuck to the topic that I knew, wanting only to give the basics of who I was and the story of my arrival.

~

         “And now that you all are here, here is my task for you. Collectively, I’d like you to ensure the safe journey of a particular caravan. There is a family of royalty who needs to make their destination. They happen to be passing through some lands that are rather dangerous.” He looked around the table. “Their survival is something I am asking you to protect.”

“We were brought to you great castle in the sky so that you could tell us to protect people down below to get from one point to another?” Kira’s voice expressed another flavor of dissatisfaction. “I’m sorry,” she said, getting up from the table, the height of her form dropping a bit when she stood. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather just be on my way. Forgive me if I was expecting something a bit more of an adventure.”

“Please,” the great wizard said, raising his hand to her. Kira’s body lifted and was reset into her seat at the table. “Do sit down.”

When she was seated again, Malcer’s voice came through, his head shaking a bit. “The ways of the wizard; they never understand.”

“I beg you all to be patient,” Heineken said. “I am not finished addressing you.

“Let us begin here,” he said. He made another slight motion with both of his hands and, together, we were wrapped with beautiful green traveling capes clasped in front of us with a shiny golden broach – a serpentine beast eating its own tail. The end of its tail carried three small red stones, a deep velvet green one sparked in its eyes. It clasped in front, and each of us, I noticed, felt them, touched them, wanted to understand them.

“You are henceforth to be known as the Clan of the Mist, an explanation to which I am cannot now reveal. This broach is your symbol of unity, your safe ground, your bastion of community and trust. The caravan is your current task, not the full adventure to which I am asking you to commit. I am sending you forth, in no uncertain terms, into an unknowable future of both glory and misery. You will find yourselves risking all in search of your own personal glories, and with great reward, as natural law has it, comes the greatest of risks. From outside the circles of these trials, this very adventure own vision, both Death and Eternity will be watching. I have selected you for a grand and thematic journey, and it has taken me a good deal of strain upon my patience. But I am quite confident that I have chosen with an adequate degree of sapience.”

He looked over to Kira and gestured with an open hand. “Yes, my dear Dragonborn. Should you choose to leave now, and return the sanctity of your mundane life of prize fighting for survival, I will allow you to do so. You’ll not be asked for anything further, you will return to your life, and you will not hear from me again. This I leave as your choice.”

Heineken stopped then and waited, looking at her.

Kira said nothing.

“But should you choose to say,” he looked then at all of us. “I will accept this as your final formal declaration of acceptance, and there will no longer be an option to turn back…ever.”

None of us said anything.

“Well then!” Heineken smiled and opened his palms. There was a renewed light which shone then upon the entire table. “It pleases me to have you! Let this be your welcome from me and the entirety of my cloud home. You will stay for the evening and your entertainment and meal will be grand. You will leave at first light, and it will be as a party in whole.”

We dined, and some of us even laughed, we got to know each other a bit. There were words spoken, and in our own ways, we were still ourselves, yet we also knew that we had given ourselves to Heineken and this party. And the next day we would find out a small part of what that meant.

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Darkness – The Hub : Part Two.


For those of you who have read the first part of our short story, “The Hub,” here’s part two. I’ve been working on this with Razorbackwriter for a couple of weeks now, and we’re having a blast. There are a couple of twists and turns, and in that way, it’s working out well. Let us know what you think.
-lp

razorbackwriteraus

This is the second installment of lpstribling’s and my collaboration of “The Hub” – Darkness.

LP – “Lock it down!” The man standing over Rory belted out the words as he straightened up and twirled an index finger in the air, giving some signal to a larger group of people.

Everything stopped. Everything. The music, the lights, the clinking of the glasses, the dancing. The occupants of the Hub now followed some strange automatic call and moved from wherever they were to huddle around a still-frantic Jacinta and her not-so-conscious birthday boy. The only sound holding in Jacinta’s ears was the ringing from what sounded like Duster, the band she was hoping to see with Rory, yet under slightly more normal circumstances.

She watched them crowd around and a strange chill scurried down her spine, almost to the steady buzz of the fading ringing from the now non-existant music.

As she knelt…

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The Language Brew


Language and Art

Some see language as a tool of pragmatism. Something that will, much like the first car you get (or didn’t get, or wished you had) in college, help them get from point A to point B. I can see that. Makes sense. You have to get through the day, talking with all the people you need to talk to.

I never really thought about it that way, but when it comes to language I guess I’m much more romantically oriented than that. There’s a glorious and exquisite art that comes along with language, I believe. Words are not just as the pragmatist views them, a selection of banal curvy blots which are bandied about to pick some sociolinguistic padlocks. They’re purposeful and meaningful. They’re beautiful in their shape, and collectively, in their form.

Language, in all its lithe sensuous ways, is an active and invisible omnipresence without which we would be still, I dare say, trudging through the noisome muddy filth of the Middle Ages, wondering how we managed to show up in this god-abandoned reality. It is, I would argue, principally because of language, in all its agile beauty, that humanity has produced the civilized social corpus it has. Our transportation, our gastronomic blessings, our clothing, our games, our humor, the wonder of our kind, has largely language to thank.

Daily we can hear everything from the philistine “fuck you” to the comfy and linguistically aromatic “How do you do?” Brusque, rough, and rude, the hifalutin, the rich, the aristocratic, all intermingle within a wonderfully language-seductive brew.

<<shakes head>>

I’m very happy to be even a mote of this sweet puzzling glue which ties us all to one another. What a wonderful thing.

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MNC


mandc

I just ate two boxes of Macaroni and Cheese. Can you believe that nastiness?

I’m not proud of it.

That’s actually bullsh*t. I’m totally proud of it.

Every single one of those sickle-cell noodles wiggled their way down my gullet until it reached a giddy tummy pool I called (and still call) the Oasis.

Mac N’ Cheese – a favorite of the majority of suave bald men since the 1920s. By ‘suave bald men,’ I mean me. And by ‘since the 1920s,’ I mean since high school, my high school. I used to come home from school, dump two boxes of the Kraft goodness into some boiling water and wait 10 minutes or so, then BOOM – cheesy foodgasm explosion. Who knows how long it lasted. Blacking out wasn’t uncommon at all. In fact, I don’t remember most of my sessions with the processed orange ambrosia.

All I know is that, then and now, it is the stuff of dreams.

I was never a fan of calling it Mac N Cheese, either. I understand how hoi polloi (yes, I’m using it) come to reach that term. I mean, I get how the epithet works, but I’m linguistically a traditionalist and, therefore am not a fan of allowing things to change in the language. I know, I know. It’s not my call. Yes, but it sort of is. I mean, I take care of my speech (for the most part). Sorry, let’s stick to the topic. My fault.

Noodles and cheese – who was it that thought of this gastronomic thing of glory? I’m baffled at how stupidly sapid this dish is.

You hear the stories of where the noodle came from and how it was invented, and how people used it during the Ottoman Empire for sexual rituals, and all that, but you never hear of how truly amazing this thing is. It’s basically bread. Bread! It’s just stretched out really long, and then rolled, dried, and voilà!

I have been a vegetarian for the past more than six months and I can tell you that the noodle is quite the sating foodstuff. It’s small, yet manifold, and is exceedingly enjoyable to insert into the mouth and masticate…fully. Mac N Cheese, although it may be American, like white people, it doesn’t have its origins here. The full history of the noodle (and many will be surprised by this), goes back to my quasi-motherland, China around 200 BC. They were masters at noodle construction and production long before any of the whities got their hands on it. It took some time, of course; and, let’s face it, they had some time (dynasties of time). But, before the world knew it, there were noodles being produced here and there and everywhere and no one was thinking twice about it. Most people think that the noodle came from Italy, but nope; Marco Polo was presented with some of the long wheat-based goodnicks during some of his explorations of the Far East. Then, he took the delights back home and one thing led to another and babies were made….then she probably woke up the next morning and put on a pot of boiling water.

Noodles are omnipresent (ubiquitous gets used so much, omnipresent is really another great word which carries the same meaning) across the globe and it’s no wonder we love them. Go to any Chinese restaurant, Italian restaurant, Spanish, German, Russian restaurant, and they all have some sort of noodle dish.

All over Asia this wonderful meal has satisfied for generations and continues to do so.

We recently had a chance to do a bit of globetrotting, and stopped in several spots in China and Taiwan to see some sights. It was noodles galore! It was like listening to Bubba Gump talk about shrimp. There were noodles with and without mean, noodles in broth, baked noodles, fried noodles, big, fat, short, long, wheat, rice, and egg noodles. It was overwhelming…in the most excellent way! Every city, every restaurant, everywhere we went did it differently. It didn’t matter where we went, there were noodles, and we were never left dissatisfied.

There’s something magical about the noodle, and I’m not just talking about Macaroni and Cheese (Americans give their own name to it, following suit with all other countries). It’s inexpensive. It’s tasty, and it’s filling. Oh, and it is always there. There’s always some sort of dish you can get if you’re craving noodles. The cheapest of course are those Cup-a-Noodle Styrofoam cups. You know the ones; you could buy 80 of them for like $8 in college. Oh yeah, those were (and still are) the tasty ones.

All I’m saying is I love the noodle. Yes, I adore Macaroni and Cheese; and feel that it will somehow always remain a part of my identity (Is that weird? Maybe I misworded that.) But just the noodle in general is a gorgeous, wondrous, sensational food.

The gods shine upon you, Noodle. You too, Mac, but mostly Noodle. You are praised by our kind and loved near and far.

Join me in some Mac N Cheese love tonight. Not real love, but in sort of a solidarity sense…and actually it’s too late now that I write this (10:59 p.m.). But, you know, some symbolic love – love of Macaroni and Cheese, or just noodles in general.

You, Noodle…you’ve made us, in an almost infinitesimal sense, who we are..and, Noodle…we salute you.