29 September 2007

it's gotta burn a hole in your craw

Like the man said, I'm a neofight at this gizmo here. But in the short time that I've been online I surmise that there's a lot of angry ranting along with a lot of angry ranting support.

Anybody read RULES FOR RADICALS, by Saul D. Alinski? Great book! Saul was an activist during the witch hunt days of the fifties. He was also influential in gaining a voice for the African American movement. I mention the book because it offers insight into his way of tackling the deaf ear.

Does anyone have a rough tally of how many folks out there choose to not WORSHIP the money god? Everyone that's alternatively minded, 36.5 million in poverty, the meagerly paid working class, in short everyone who is not profiting from this wacky world, and that's a lot of people. They may not all be like you and me, but we all share the common thread of oppression, and that should take precedent over all our differences. Join them in conversation.
Be nice, not angry, we need numbers. It's not so much like minds that we seek, as it is the common thread that binds us.

It's gotta burn a hole in your craw enough to step away from the keyboard, and out of your safety zone. Talk to a stranger about what oppresses them. Connect. Circulate petitions, get names, mailing addresses, ( real and virtual), phone numbers, be nice, pin point a cause, collect money and go for it. Write congress . Clog up their emails with rants. Work smart, where it will be effective. Work it will be.

28 September 2007

Why Am I Not Surprised?


To paraphrase Doc Holliday from the movie Tombstone, "Their hypocrisy knows no bounds." After pushing a resolution in Congress to condemn MoveOn.org, which the spineless and cowardly Demitasse's overwhelmingly supported, for their "Betray Us" advert in the NY Times, you would think that the Repellicans would be clamoring for the same about Rush Limbaugh and his statement that soldiers who speak out against the war in Iraq are "phony soldiers".

Color me surprised. Not a peep from the "Support the Troops" party. They truly sicken me beyond words.

27 September 2007

Things I Found on the Internets Lately

First, in the comments on Blue Gal's post, Churning, written by StardragonTheCanadian:

Time to review the Big Picture:
We are engaged in an ancient Hippie conspiracy,going back in time to the first campfires of the human race.
For as long as Civilisation continues,uninterrupted,the twentieth century of the Gregorian calendar will be known as the century when the human race learned to read and write.
The year that I was born,fully 60% of the planet was completely illiterate, which meant that the illiteracy rate was the lowest it had ever been in the history of the world!
Today,70% of all people on the planet can read,write,and do sums,which means that for the first time in human existence,the people who can sit down and read a book,write a letter,or plan a budget,are in the majority.
This small fact,unnoticed,uncelebrated,unheralded,and unsung, changes everything!
Everything which has gone before,presupposes,and requires,the existence of large numbers of uneducated people-who no longer exist.
It's all coming apart for the princes of the world,and they don't know why,nor could this knowledge save them. It is too late.
You won't see any sign of it in the MSM,but the dawn of THe Age of Literacy is already upon us.
Of every creed and none,we are the Church of the Printed Word,Universal and Triumphant,and there is none who will stand before us,and say us nay!
"All things are ready, if our minds be so."Now, soldiers, march away:
And how thou pleasest, God, dispose the day!":)


Next, from Quaker Dave:

I would appreciate it very much if all the well-meaning folks (and the not-so well-meaning ones, too) out there who don’t want me to hear what people like Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have to say would do me the favor of letting my double-major college-educated, Master’s degree-earning, two teaching certificate- using coconut think for itself.


See, I am an American. And unlike the average Iranian, I have the right to hear things that might offend my government, and more importantly, views which might offend me. Because I can think for myself. That’s one of the things that going to college is supposed to teach you.
read the whole thing at The Quaker Agitator.

Badtux, the Snarky Penguin, has a wonderful comparison of RomneyHillaryCare -v- Medicare For All.

Rana, over at Frogs and Ravens, has a great post about environmentalism (make sure to read the comments).

That is all for now.


You may have noticed a bit of a change in the look of the place. Starting with the name. You are now at "Phydeaux and Phriends". This is due to the fact that I am welcoming my (real world) phriend, Cunning Linguist, as a contributor at my humble interwebs home.

Mr. Linguist and I have been friends for a long time, and have often discussed all manner of topics, from how to curb Global Warming to the corruption in our political system to the relative airspeed velocities of African and European swallows.

SeƱor Linguist is an artist and artisan of great talent, and, if we're lucky, he may talk about those aspects of his life, in addition to his political and cultural posts. His is an intellect that I highly respect and I am "pleased as punch" to add his voice to my own, especially since he thinks differently from the way most of us do.

I hope you all will agree.

As he is a blog neophyte, I am putting his first post up for him:

What is Civilization?

What is civilization? It's a question that I find myself asking a lot these days. Is it filling your time with entertainment? Or the convenience of jumping in your car to buy something that you don't really need? OR IS IT SIMPLY BEING CIVIL TO EACH OTHER AND THE GUY DOWN THE ROAD?

I have a question that I've been meaning to ask;

In a class oriented society such as ours, how can we hope to overcome prejudice and segregation when class by definition is segregating?

Any candidate that can answer that can have my vote!

the nature of things

So we step away from nature for the sake of civilizing ourselves, thereby creating a void that we try to fill up with stuff, activities,entertainment, whatever, it doesn't really matter what we chose to fill it with, the fact that civilization as we practice it leaves us with a burning hole to fill is the point I'm trying to make. There are numerous case studies of indigenous peoples. These studies show that they do not experience such a void. In fact there are diseases found in civilized cultures that are not found in the natural environment, such as schizophrenia and bi-polarism. Einstein's theory of relativity, we've made monumental strides towards physical health issues but we're loosing our minds in the process. I just don't think we can change the nature of things.

- Cunning Linguist

26 September 2007

"Go Fuck Yourself!" - or, More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Me

Sorry, there's no contortionist porn involved in this post. Nor is it about Dick Cheney or any other well known idiot. The idiot I'm going to talk about is myself. If you don't care to read about how dumb I am, just click yourself on outta here - I won't be offended.

As I have said, here and other places, I have a total lack of respect for money. I think it is one of the - if not the very - worst things that has ever happened to this planet, and all creatures (great and small, bright and beautiful...) that reside upon it. Religion and "Mine!" are also up there, and it's kind of a tossup as to which is actually the worst, but be that as it may....

In my hatred of money, I have well and truly fucked myself. Because in this society, one must have some, at least. Even if you live off the grid, on a self-sustaining farm (neither condition, unfortunately, describes my situation - as much as I wish they did), you still have to pay taxes, have car insurance, etc.

Car insurance. Verily, that is the problem du jour. To drive a car, one must have insurance. To have insurance, one must pay money. To have money, one must work.

Well, over the past couple of months, I have worked very little. But I, and the cats, must eat. So, what little money I have earned has gone to purchase food for myself (and the kitties). I knew an insurance payment was due... then past due... then no longer due because the policy was cancelled (due to non-payment).

I don't know. I guess I thought I could sneak myself up the road and to work (when there was work to be had) without being caught, until I could afford to get a new policy.

I was wrong. (Yeah, I know, "no shit, Sherlock")

My luck ran out this morning. I wasn't in an accident, or anything like that. But I did happen upon a license check, and helpfully went ahead and pulled over to the side of the road (since I knew I would have to anyway). The highway patrolman was very nice, even letting me drive the two miles back home (with escort - to make sure I was really just driving home).

Now I've got to surrender my license plate for 30 (thirty) days, pay a fine, and - oh, yeah - get some insurance before I can get a new plate. So, somehow, I have to figure out how to get to work (almost 30 miles away), so I can earn money not only to pay said fine, etc, but buy food for the human and feline residents of the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago)... without a car.

The worst part of it all is that this is not the first time I've done this to myself - or the second, or the third. I keep making the same stupid decisions over and over. Hell, with a record like that, I could be President of the United States! Thank FSM my mistakes don't cause thousands (millions?) of people to die, like the mistakes of some people.

I know I can't keep this up forever, working just enough to sustain myself, but I can't seem to make myself give a shit. When I do work, it is in the construction sector, for two reasons. I enjoy the work, and it's not monotonous. I've had "real" jobs in the past - even earned really good money at times - but those "real" jobs were soul-sucking. I can't stand doing the same thing, day after day, just for money.

The irony is that in my home life, I do the same thing, day after day. Wake up, start the coffee maker, turn on the computer (read email and blogs), try - lately without any success - to work on the novel I've been writing for the last four years, eat, play computer games, putter around the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago) and work on the neighbor's yard (since he won't let me pay him for living in his woods - and plugging into his electricity - I do the yard work and whatever else he needs done maintenance-wise around his house). That routine doesn't bother me. It's only when I have to do it (and the earning of money is involved) that it gets me down.

I am a seriously screwed up individual, no? (I also over-use parentheses, but that's a different topic altogether (isn't it?))

The only paying, regular, job I've ever had that didn't make want to run screaming into the night was doing theatre (both onstage and backstage), but since I have no desire to live in (or anywhere near) a big city where paid theatre gigs can be found on a regular basis, that's pretty much out.

Anyway, I'll keep y'all updated, pardon this extended ramble, and... does anybody know a way to make money online?

24 September 2007

I've Only Got a (Baker's) Dozen Posts This Month And I'm Determined To Up The Total

It's been a while since I put up a test, so:

You've Experienced 68% of Life

You have all of the life experience that most adults will ever get.

And unless you're already in your 40s, you're probably wise beyond your years.

I'm not wise beyond my years anymore, being in my mid 40's. Waah.

(h/t to Emily at Incertus)

Lest Ye Forget

Not that I think anyone reading this blog needs to have their anger ramped up any more than it already is, but this video that I found over at FranIAm's place is, as she said, "6 minutes worth watching".

I weep for the continued existence of freedom around the world. That these money-grubbing, lying, hypocritical, and morally bankrupt people are still walking free - much less still in power - is an affront on all that the Founders of the United States of America held dear.

Cleaning Out Some Of The Cobwebs

Isn't that photo gorgeous? For those who don't know, that's the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Viaduct was the last section of the Parkway built, some fifty years after construction of the road began, and was necessary to protect the fragile biosphere of Grandfather Mountain.

Why do I post that picture, you may ask? Well, it's Autumn! Summer is over (according to the calendar, anyway), we have passed the Autumnal Equinox and the Sun is moving south in the sky.

If you are an Eastern US resident and you have plans to head to the Southern Appalachian Mountains (like tens of thousands of people) for the annual color show this year, don't expect anything like what you see in the above picture. It's been too dry this summer (most places) for the colors to be so vivid. Last weekend I went down to Georgia (why does Charlie Daniels come to mind), and, along the highway, leaves were already turning brown - in September... in east-central Georgia!

(Come to think of it, though, Grandfather Mountain may be the only place where the colors show up this fall, it's nearly a rainforest up there, so who knows)

Anyway, Happy Equinox, a bit late!

On another subject...

I must send out thanks to a dear online friend, who recently slipped me some bucks via PayPal. The kitties and I both thank you, and wish to say that the food the money purchased is most excellent!

Puff, relaxing in "her" box, after a filling meal

Latest poll results!

The question this time was a simple "Why?" And the results are...

1 - Because
1 - Duh!
3 - Why not?
4 - A squalling cat makes no hay

Can any of you four that voted in the majority explain to me what I meant by that statement? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?


What the hell has Hillary been smoking? Since this was Faux Noise Sunday, I didn't see it (I'd rather be thrown into a pit with a dozen hungry tigers), and the clip at Huffington Post is rather short, and I have noticed that HuffPo occasionally, how should I put this,... exaggerates things, but, dayum! Hillary's laughing like she just had a big hit of some sticky kind and Bill is making faces at her! WTP?

I find it wonderful that there is a real possibility that the next POTUS could be a woman (waaaay past time for that bit of equality), but why does it have to be a corporate ass-kisser? The system being what it is, I don't suppose there's a chance of any other type being the front runner. So sad....

Later, Y'all!

18 September 2007

Onward, Christian Soldiers

More evidence that these people have absolutely no idea what Christ was all about:

17 September 2007

The Wheel of Time Turns...

One day back in 1995, a friend of mine handed me a thick paperback titled The Eye of the World, and told me that I had to read it. He told me that it was the first book of a trilogy, and that the story was incredible.

My friend was right about the latter - I couldn't put the book down, even though it was over 800 pages long - but he was wrong about the trilogy part. There are eleven books out now (in fact, there were five when Michael handed me the first) , with the twelfth (and final) volume partially written.

It was with great sadness that I learned about an hour ago that the author, James O. Rigney, Jr. - better known as Robert Jordan - died yesterday afternoon, after a long illness.

Those eleven massive tomes are a big part of my life. Each time a new installment came out, I would buy it, set it on the shelf and then grab book one and read all the way through. Recently, the times between publication of new books increased and I have read the series through several times - a great way to eat up a couple of weeks of reading time. And, even though I have now read the first book at least a dozen times, I still get totally engrossed in the story.

It is with shame greater than the sadness that I say to you that my first thought was, but what about the end of the story? As is pointed out in the condolences at the Dragonmount blog (Jordan's official site), now is not the time to wonder about the final book - although in a recent post, Jordan's cousin Wilson related that he and the author's wife were told the ending (as a "just in case" I'm sure), so I suppose that eventually the final book will be finished.

Selfishness aside, I am saddened that literature has lost such a wonderful storyteller. It's not hard to find those who disagree, who say that the books are plodding and long-winded, and could do with some serious editing, but I most emphatically state that I have loved every single word that Jordan put in those books.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

14 September 2007

I'm So Popular I Can't Stand It!

In the beginning, was my first post (hardly memorable, but a 'milestone').

Then, the first comment.

In the fullness of time came the 1,000th visitor, and my 100th post (a 'milestone' which I didn't even note).

But today, Gentle Readers, today I have discovered that I am in the top 100,000 in the Technorati rankings!

Li'l ole me, who often has a difficult coming up with anything to post other than (yet another) dumb online test.

I'm touched. Truly. In the head.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my visitors and fellow bloggers who give me the inspiration to keep plodding along. Have some flares (as they say in these here mountains):

13 September 2007

Latest Phydeaux Poll Results!

The question this time was:

Do you even notice this poll?

36% of respondents said "Yes"
73% of respondents said "Cheese biscuit"
1% of respondents were apparently lost in the ether
(btw, I do know that the numbers are rounded off and that is the reason for the missing 1%)

I reckon I should have expected such terribly skewed results, with a loaded question - or rather, answers - like that. The only thing that really surprises me is that no one answered "No". Apparently the folks that didn't see the poll chose not to vote.

Hey, that's just like most Americans eligible to vote in elections!

I guess I'm also mildly surprised that no one chose "I'm from Gdansk" - it was a PolePoll, after all.

Look for another hard hitting, in depth, and totally non-scientific Poll question soon!

12 September 2007


Sometime in the very near future (probably in the next couple of weeks), a "dirty" bomb will detonate somewhere in Israel. Hezbollah (and therefore Iran) will be blamed, and the Current Occupant will, along with the Israelis, initiate a massive air and missile strike (as has been written about here, here, and here - to link to three of a multitude) taking out the nookyular, military, and governmental command and control infrastructure of Iran.

The price of crude oil will instantly shoot to $125/bbl (probably more, it hit $80/bbl today). China and Russia, who have recently signed energy agreements with Iran will not be happy - China holds a great deal of US debt and Russia has lots of nookyular warheads that are still pointed at the US.

Here in the Father Homeland, the Current Occupant will activate the "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive", declare "marshall" law, and any who dare to speak out against this heinous action will be "disappeared".

The United Nations will vote unanimously to condemn the Bush malAdministration, which will get them a one way ticket out of New York.

Kim Jung Il will use the fact that the rest of the world is distracted by all this to launch a blitzkrieg into South Korea and Seoul will become a smoking crater (possibly radioactive, but North Korea has conventional missiles that can accomplish this), ...

And Dubya will finally have his Armageddon (insh'Allah God willing)!

Should the above come to pass, I will look for each of you at whichever interment camp I end up. The password will be "Olbermann Spanish Inquisition" - or "I sit I run you up inside my cat", I haven't decided which yet.

10 September 2007

A Pome

I StumbledUpon a cool MadLib poem generator at this site, and here was my first creation!

dastardly chair's dastardly chair

"I run my hills and all the clock speaks tall;
I click my mugs and all is engage again.
(I sit I run you up inside my cat.)

The speaker go sleeping out in quiet and smelly,
And hot hill speaks in:
"I run my clocks and all the mug speaks tall;

I clicked that you engageed me into cat
And sit me gargantuan, runed me quite tall.
(I sit I run you up inside my cat.)

Phydeaux speaks from the speaker, hill's clocks click:
Exit mug and Crystal's cat:
"I run my clocks and all the mug speaks tall;

I engageed you'd sit the way you said,
But I run old and I speak your name.
(I sit I run you up inside my cat.)

I should have clockd a mug instead;
At least when cat clicks they engage back again.
"I run my clocks and all the mug speaks tall;

(I sit I run you up inside my cat.)

- Phydeaux & Sylvia Plath

I do believe "I sit I run you up inside my cat" is my new favorite phrase....

Oh, and in the fourth stanza, I chose only the "Phydeaux" - not the speaks - but how fekkin' cool is that that my "name" appears in full in the generated poem!?

Aaaaaand, another thing. How freaky is it that the very first page that loaded when I clicked on the Stumble button was a page dealing with writer's block? [cue Twilight Zone music]

09 September 2007


Okay, so DCup called me out (in a comment on the previous post) and asked if anyone was at home.

I'm still here.

I'm just bored shitless (with the whole monotony of life) and haven't been able to come up with anything worthwhile to post. Every time an idea hits, I discover that someone else has already been there, and done it better than I could.

From DCup herself to Liss to TheCunningRunt, all of the wonderful people I read on a regular basis [see blogroll] do such a wonderful job of expressing the outrage and bewilderment that we (in the lefty blogosphere) are all experiencing that I wonder how anyone could fail to see and agree that this country and, indeed, the whole planet, is in a bad place....

Be that as it may, I found this at SAP's place:

NerdTests.com says I'm a Kinda Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

you know me, if I don't have anything to say, I post a test!!!

Now that the summer heat is fading into autumn, I should have more vim and start posting more. Thank you for your patience (said the mortician to the bad doctor)

04 September 2007

Scientific Polling... NOT!!

A few days ago, I posed this question:

With Fredo Gonzales' resignation, the post of AG is open. Will the Current Occupant:

A) Make a recess appt. at some point
B) Nominate a lackey (Chertoff, et.al.)
C) Nominate a non-partisan
D) Leave the "Acting" AG until Jan 2009

And the votes are in!

An overwhelming 60% say that George III will nominate a lackey! 40% say he will leave the Acting AG in place until he leaves office. Oddly, no one thinks that a non-partisan will be nominated to fill the position of Attorney General.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!

The latest from Brave New Films, The REAL Rudy: Mistakes in 30 seconds:

Go here to vote for your "favorite"!

02 September 2007

A Link-Laden Diatribe

A quick note to those not associated with the Occupying Regime here in the United States of America:

Please remember, as the bombs and missiles strike targets in Iran, that the vast majority of people in the US - including members of the military[dead link edited - see update below] - view this attack as immoral (not to mention illegal).

I'm afraid the above mentioned scenario is no longer a product of tin-foil hat delusion, but is a nearly unavoidable occurrence. As a nation, however, we are too distracted by the beginning of college and professional football, pennant races in baseball, the latest installment of Big Brother, and whatever other distractions the MSM can come up with, to be bothered to give a shit.

As long as corporate CEO's continue to get nine-figure salaries and cheap, lead filled toys are available at Wal-Mart, and pop singers are walking around with their privates exposed, we are content.

Your suffering - at our hands - and hatred of us do not matter.

We are the "shining city on the hill" - chosen by God, no less - and we can do whatever the fuck we want.

While the turrists may be able to cross the Atlantic and Pacific with impunity, we know that the great oceans protect us from attack by any nation-state (Canada and Mexico are mere puppets, having been lured by the promise of corporate largesse - so we have no need to fear them).

In closing, I'd just like to say how I look forward to forming an escape committee with my fellow inmates at the Blackwater-run Interment Camps that are being set up around the country to deal with us librul malcontents. You can't miss me; I'm over six feet tall, weigh close to 300#, and have a big gray beard.

If I'm not just shot outright, that is.

And my own pre-emptive strike on non-literate writers: it's "Martial Law", not "Marshall Law", you dumb shits.

UPDATE: As Brian from Incertus points out in comments, the DailyKos diary referencing the military has been deleted. A "rebuttal" of said post can be found here.

01 September 2007

Misty Water-Colored Meemories

When I was a lad of thirteen, my father, knowing my interest in the subject, bought me a subscription to a new publication, called Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. I still remember reading the fist issue, which looked like this:

The "Good Doctor", as Asimov was known, was my favorite author, and I loved reading his monthly essays and the occasional pieces of fiction that were included in the mag. I was also enthralled by the fact that the magazine actively sought young, new authors.

Having noticed a certain tendency for short pieces with humor or puns to be accepted for print, I wrote a short story - my first - and decided to submit it. I learned all about format and SASE and all that stuff. I don't recall if I ever did submit the story, because I don't remember being rejected, but it certainly never appeared in the pages of the magazine.

Flash forward over a quarter century to the other day. I was looking through a box full of some of my old school stuff that my Mom had kept for me, and guess what I came across. Yup. And, so, I present to you a product of my teen imagination....

First Contact
by "Phydeaux Speaks"

Anna Lee Gentry stepped off the ship and looked around the spaceport eagerly, her stomach fluttering at the prospect of her first solo assignment. After years of school and even more years of being an Associate Adjudicator, she had finally been deemed ready for the "Big Leagues". Her father, a history professor, had taught her that expression, which was from an old sport called baseball that had once been played on Earth.

The United Planets had been in existence for almost five hundred years, growing from humans only in the Sol System (in the days before Hyperdrive) to span over two hundred and fifty star systems and include over six dozen sentient species.

As a xenologist, Anna Lee spent her early professional years working with some of the masters of "First Contact", and they had always heaped praises on her for her calm, logical mannerisms. What they didn't know was that she lived in constant fear of failure.

Her parents had been disappointed in her decision to enter the Diplomatic Corps. They had hoped she would become a physician, like her mother and grandmother and great-grandmother. But the idea of being in an office and doing the same thing day after day never appealed to the headstrong girl.

Her parents had been overjoyed for her when she received the assignment to go to the newly discovered Arcana System and negotiate with the High Council about joining the UP.

"Lady Gentry?" a voice pulled her attention away from her study of the alien architecture. "I am First Warlock When. Welcome to Arcana." The tall humanoid male in flowing robes bowed to her and she returned the gesture, taking note of the protocols for her initial report back to headquarters.

"If you will come with me, my ground car is waiting to take us to the Arena," the First Warlock continued, gesturing to the waiting vehicle.

Anna Lee stared, fascinated, at the passing buildings and scenery as the car whizzed down the broad roadway. Taking her cue from the silent male, she asked no questions, merely observed. Soon, they arrived at a huge oval shaped building, and, leaving the vehicle, entered through one of the yawning portals. A short walk down a wide and dark tunnel led them to the vast expanse of grass covered floor in a structure that was much like the ancient ruins of the Roman Amphitheater.

Stopping just short of the doorway leading onto the field, the First Warlock spoke for the first time since his greeting at the spaceport, "In order for you to be recognized in Arcanian society, you must take part in a Rejuvenation ceremony. Don't worry," he added upon seeing her concerned expression, "your part is merely ceremonial."

"Of course, First Warlock," she answered, "tell me what I must do."

"Female Arcanians must, every five years, undergo a Rejuvenation, in order to maintain their faculties and abilities. The process is very simple. They simply must absorb the essence of kallah salt. The problem arises that before they can absorb the salt, they must reach a point where their reason and ability become... suspect. It is not safe to approach within a score of meters, due to the fluctuations in the female's energy fields. So," the tall humanoid concluded, "all you must do is throw a measure of the kallah salt and hit the female."

"From twenty meters away?" Anna Lee asked, with fear in her voice. "First Warlock When, I am not trained in athletics. I do not know if I can do this."

"If you refuse," When replied icily, "then you will be asked to leave the planet."

I can't let my first assignment end in failure, Anna Lee thought. "I will try," she said to the Arcanian official.

The First Warlock nodded and then led the nervous woman out onto the field. Anna Lee looked around, nearly forgetting her nervousness, at the immense crowd of Arcanian males that filled the seats of the Arena, all staring silently at three females at the far end of the grassy expanse. The females were howling and thrashing about, held relatively in place by the long chains that were staked to the ground.

The First Warlock's voiced filled the entire Arena, "Gentlemen, Lady Anna Lee Gentry of Earth!" The crowd responded by stamping their feet rhythmically, in what Anna Lee assumed was the Arcanian version of applause. More quietly, When said to her, "You will have one attempt to hit each of the females" and gestured to a youth who presented a tray with three orange sized spheres of glittering salt.

Raising his voice again, When gestured at the first female and said, "Witch Why!"

Anna Lee picked up the first ball of salt, and, shaking, took aim at the gibbering female. The iridescent sphere flew through the air and landed several feet from the target. The Witch howled and fell to the ground, twitching violently. A low murmur began in the stands.

With a stern look on his face, First Warlock When gestured at the second female. "Witch Is!"

Anna Lee wiped her sweaty palm on her tunic and grabbed another ball of the salt. Again, the sphere flew and, again, missed. Witch Is screamed pitifully and collapsed.

In a voice that would have frozen lava, the First Warlock pointed at the third female. "Witch It!" he hissed.

Trying to control her shaking, Anna Lee grasped the final ball of salt and hurled it with all her might. Time seemed to slow down as the sphere arced through the air and, blessedly, hit the gibbering Witch square in the chest.

In a tone of elation, the First Warlock announced, "I pledge Anna Lee, Gents, for Witch It stands!"