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A PC-User's Purchase "Guide" (it's not...just the ramblings of an idiot) to High Quality Audio on your system.

Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations. Thanks to paoper for formatting. Again disclaimer that I am an idiot, so take this post with a grain of salt. Better info and more accurate info from people way more knowledgeable than I am is readily available from /audiophile /budgetaudiophile and /headphones, this is just a start-up guide for the beginner.
NOTE: The monster I gave birth to has become too long. I felt that instead of a short list of things to order, I needed to give context as high fidelity is really all about what sound is like in your experience. Also a fun read if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the actual list (ctrl+f active speakers, passive speakers, headphones, subwoofer, amplifier)!
I have limited the price range of the products, because this is after all just food for thought and not even a proper guide; real audio purchases will require elbow-grease and research from your end to see if the product's sound signature will match your preferences in music and sound. If your product is not here, do not worry. I have put in products that I have had experience with and those that were recommended by multiple reviewers I hold in high regard (with the exception of a 2.1 system you will see later), and I had to consider the endless number of headphones/speakers vs the ones that are worth your hard-earned cash (and products vs how they compare to my current setup which includes both "high-end" and budget options).

Introduction

I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra. My ear is highly trained from raw musical performance and not just listening to speakers from home, as well as having the nuance to differentiate between good speakers. I have owned many many forms of audio gear (instruments, speakers, headphones, studio monitors).

So wtf is this?

So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on as well as celebrating the birth of new systems and fellow pc builders who take their rite of passage of building their own system with their own two hands) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or w/e, it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.

Why should I bother getting better speakers/headphones?

I have owned $20 logitech speakers, I currently own $1500 speakers. I have owned varying levels of headphones. The first half-decent (to my standards) speakers I had was a hand me down stereo set from an uncle. This thing was massive, but this thing was good. It's difficult to explain to you the sensation of music enveloping you with great speakers. Speakers are meant to reproduce sound, as in the sound of the instruments in the song. So great speakers and headphones can literally make you FEEL the music like at a rave or a concert or performance in the comfort of your home. This is why Home Theaters were so popular in the 80s/90s.
Upgrading will GREATLY enhance your music, netflix and gaming experience. In fact with passive bookshelf speakers, you can not only use them for your desktop setup, but also chuck them together with a tv and you've got a fine starter home theater system in your hands. You can even upgrade down the line incrementally, one speaker at a time, to a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Setup where your movies make you feel like your in SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I currently live in a small apartment with my TV right next to my battlestation, and when i want to sit down on my couch and watch TV, I simply move 1 speaker from my desk to next to my TV, turn my AVR on and I have an easy 5.1 home theater in my tiny apartment. Move the speaker, revert back to 2.1 (or 5.1 if i choose to but i dont because of badspeaker placement when I'm sitting at my desk) amazingness at my battlestation. Consider this an investment into massively improving your experience of playing video games, watching netflix, or listening to music. You think those 4k graphics and ULTRAWIDE monitor is giving you more immersion in your game? Shit...having great speakers or headphones can make you feel like you're IN NORMANDY BEACH DURING THE FUCKING LANDINGS

General considerations (or feel free to just skip ahead to the list)

Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile and /headphones . I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He is still an expert audiophile , he just chooses to not use his knowledge and ramble on in his videos, plus the shilling. Great place to start for audiophiles, as he is still a professional. I just think many move on to other reviewers.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less, crutchfield, adorama, Sweetwater, guitar center, etc). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.

Categories

So I will be splitting this list into 4 categories:
And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fucking equal bad boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e. Also the budetaudiophile starter package is the dayton audio b652 + mini amp combo from parts-express. All the speakers that were considered were basically compared to the b652 before making it on here (and whether they justified the price bump over the b652)

Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)

So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier is not inside the goddamn box. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.

BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS

If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.

ACTIVE SPEAKERS

Simply connect to your PC or TV via 3.5mm (or the occasional usb).
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
Note that while I have included 2.1 systems here, I would always recommend you get good bookshelves first, save up money and buy a subwoofer separate.

Example options

PASSIVE SPEAKERS

These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life (yes I said life for once you dip your toes into high fidelity, you will get hooked onto a great lifelong journey searching for the perfect setup), or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about passive bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)

What you will need for passive setup:

Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables from amazon will set you straight, and while these banana plugs and cable are nice and PURELY OPTIONAL, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.

Example options

AMPLIFIERS

Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts (only after turning up your preamp input to maximum volume, which in this case is your youtube/windows10 volume level). Do note that if you have the space, a used $60 AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.

Example options

If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.

SUBWOOFERS

Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation as well as PLACEMENT (refer to the sub-crawl) will do more for getting the most sound out of your speakers without having to turn up the volume....and just turn off the sub after a reasonable time)
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs. You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.

Example options

HEADPHONES

Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. Okay, I have seen the headphone recommendation list, and the only one I would give any (if at all) weight to in the usual pc websites that our subreddit goes to, is the list from rtings. These guys mainly measure monitors and tvs (very well might i add) but the writer for their audio section is lacking it seems.
Please dont get Astro AXX headphones or corsair rgb xxxxxx w/e. Please for the love of god, take your good hard earned cash and get yourself a NICE pair of cans my fellow PC users. The mic part is secondary as GOOD headphones will forever change your PC using and music listening experience FOREVER
The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.

Example options

Now obviously, there's other choices. A metric fuck load of them. But I had to account for how much you should be paying (price range) for upgrades in sound quality and performance.

Example options (Wireless headsets)

Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.

HEADPHONE AMP/DAC (digital to analogue converter)

My knowledge/experience with headphone amps and dacs are...extremely lacking, I'm more of a speaker guy. But, here is a list for you guys.

MICS

Other mics? Yes, but are they worth the extra $$ for marginally better audio recording? You decide.

Concluding remarks

Cool. Stay safe in these dark times brothers. Have a glorious day.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to buildapc [link] [comments]

From C7 to GT350 (with lots of pics!)

Hey all, I figured I'd make a long post about my experience of owning a C7 and why I got rid of it for a GT350. Since today is the 4th of July and a lot of us are indoors more, this is a great day to celebrate and put together this bald eagle story.

TL;DR

GT350 is a much more lively car that the C7 Z51 manual. But closer to the limit is where the C7 shines the brightest as it is more planted. Think of the Corvette as the handy Swiss Army knife of the sports car world where the GT350 is a trusty Bowie knife. One is good at many things and the other is great at what it should really be.

Pics

C7 - Cell shots right before I sold it https://imgur.com/gallery/Q6u4d0O
GT350 - High resolution professional shots for your viewing pleasure https://imgur.com/gallery/t9vXoZS

C7 Corvette

Bought a C7 new at 15% off in summer 2016. Drove a few hours to buy it because it had all the options I wanted: 3LT trim, Z51 performance package, coupe, manual, all black everything, Jake hood logo, and no ground effects.
That being my first sports car I had tons of fun driving the best one for the money you could buy new. C7 had been out a couple of years and I figured some kinks were worked out. This year had Android Auto and Apple Car Play and a flat-bottom steering wheel (mine curiously had a leather one with a suede shifter; strange combo but it was nice).
I didn't even consider the GT350 because it just came out and I was working at GM at the time so it would have been silly to drive a direct competitor car with no discount. Plus, they were going for up to $20k over sticker at the dealer for a base model! Many 2020 GT350R models are still going for that. Also the 1st model years had issues without the track pack. Basically it wan't even on my radar. I figured GM's Alpha platform would make anything Ford made for the same price undesirable (I was certainly wrong about that).
Fast forward to 3 years later and I had a laundry list of problems. Mostly electronics went out and there were repeat offenders. If you want to know which ones just ask. Engine didn't have too many issues. I broke in the car correctly. I technically qualified for Lemon Law in the state of Texas but was too late to file it. Pro tip: skip BBB entirely and get a Lemon law lawyer. I was able to get a decent amount despite it not qualifying due to the timeline. Still not as good as a buy back but I got to keep the car hoping it would't waste my time and energy anymore. But it did.
I still think these are great sports cars but if I could afford a Porsche I'd gladly be paying for their reliability and performance. When my C7 was at the dealer for over a month (late 2019 union strike) I decided to shop around because I was nearing the end of my powertrain warranty and my bumper-to-bumper was out. I sold the car earlier this year at 27k miles.

Contenders

First thing I'd been eyeing was the BMW M2 Competition. It ticked all the right boxes online: RWD, small, manual, and desirable. I was handed the keys at the dealership when I went for a test drive so I was certain I this was going to be it. I really was disappointed. I tend to get hyped up on YT reviews and lot's of them let me down (Doug and Moto Man). But later on in the year others (Smoking Tire and Motor Trend) validated what I felt. Such boring steering and exhaust. Torque wasn't that exciting in 1st gear. Shifter was toy-ish. Seats didn't go forward enough for me to comfortably press clutch all the way. Steering wheel was fat but had the cool M custom drive-mode buttons. Tried to drift it out of a stop but it didn't do it very easy. Also the looks: it is awkward from some angles. Brakes were massive and too sensitive.
Next was the famed ND Miata RF in manual (with updated higher revving engine). Salesperson kept going on how it was a safe car, but during that drive we almost got ran off the road. Interior really is comically scarce on storage. Head was so close to the rear view mirror. Hard top was nice down but I'm bald so I couldn't fit the hairdresser stereotype well. Exhaust was even more boring (again the salesperson was trying hard to sell it saying how it shakes his house on startup!). Shifter was indeed divine- just so notchy. Body roll was "haha oh so silly and fun" but I didn't have the same sentiment.

GT350

I randomly went to check a brand new 2019 GT350 that was in the lot next to the Chevy dealer where my C7 was at still waiting for parts. I figured what's there to lose. I might as well check out the cool Voodoo engine sound and see what all the reviewers were raving about (wish I would have seen this one earlier). I really didn't think I was going to enjoy this car as much as I did. It's always great to be surprised.
Now keep this in mind: both of the M2C and Miata I was graciously able to test drive in the twisties for at least 15 minutes. However, they didn't make me lose any sleep. With the GT350 I was only in the car for 10 minutes going slow on straight roads but I couldn't stop thinking about it after I drove it. I recall having nightmares that night. Obsession for months followed until I was able to get one.
Fast forward to spring 2020. I ended up finding a bright green 2020 GT350 with all the options nearby with $5k off sticker (because of the pandemic). I bought it sight unseen as it was sitting in the showroom for one month. This is the last model year of the car also and plants were shutting down so I had to act fast. Only pics of the Grabber Lime paint I could find online were from awful cellphone cameras. I took a gamble it wasn't a nasty dim hue that I'd been seeing and trusted it was a bright paint. It absolutely is. Especially in the sun.
As for the delivery, that was a big mistake. I should have paid for a nice vehicle mover. My front splitter was damaged and a side skirt panel was popped out. Pro tip: don't trust Ford dealers to install anything right (they didn't) and don't use their movers. Get your own that can read simple instructions on how to load a special car. I'm still waiting for payment to get it fixed months later.
In summary, I'm glad my Corvette gave me enough problems to seek out another weekender car. I was woefully wrong about the GT350 because I never drove it. If you want one of these and you can get one then you absolutely should.
UPDATE
Wanted to add some final thoughts:
About the weight and materials. GT350 is about 300lbs heavier and obviously bigger externally. Much taller front clip but the GT350 is much lower and sleeker than the GT Mustang (hence why it looks better). But even the hood is heavy. Whereas the C7 has a carbon fiber hood and targa top that feels more sports car.
Surprisingly I don't care about the weight difference now. You are more connected to the car in the GT350. You sit higher but the steering is immediate and it's so exciting. Even the accelerator pedal buzzes at a certain RPM because of the flat-plane crank engine. There's no lack of grip because of the tires and the balance through corners is delightful.
Go drive one if you can if you have reservations about it.
I want to point out some channels that have in-depth reviews on the GT350: EatSleepDrive, Raiti's Rides, and to quote SavageGeese when reviewing the GT350R: "This car is fucking insane"
Thanks everyone!

Comparisons


feature 2020 GT350 2016 C7 Z51 manual
inputs Excelling steering feedback, shifter is rifle bolt smooth, pedals and engine response are amazing. Steering feedback isn't there, shifter is notchy and requires granny shifting else you may grind hard from 2nd to 3rd. Noticeable lag from pedal to engine response.
exhaust Alien and intoxicating! But not entirely loud enough. Wind buffeting and seats folded down are not enough. In a tunnel and/or red-line you reach nirvana. Ferocious sound at full throttle, especially with the targa top off in a tunnel.
engine Power after 3500 RPM but I don't miss the low-end torque of the Vette as working for it is way more fun! Hammer from hell power but lazy and runs out of revs quickly.
handling Very lively just driving around town or in a canyon (haven't done track), brakes are larger than the C7 but not as confidence inspiring. Very confident in a canyon and track (just hugs the ground in turns), brakes are monstrous but can overheat due to the size.
driving mode preference steering wheel: comfort, exhaust: sport, everything else in normal steering: sport, exhaust: track (or just pull fuse), drive mode: touring
favorites Pure analog experience, all the glorious inputs (suede steering wheel with gloves), toggle switches for all the fun stuff, exhaust sound, leave it in 2nd gear and let it rev to the moon and back, less frills (also less things to break!), I ALWAYS want to drive it, comfy ride (seats and magna-ride suspension), back seats hold my GoPro case, car locks with your thumb and unlocks when pulling the handle, gorgeous profile from every angle (especially in bright colors), encouraging and less "my car is the rarest" community, Cobra badges are serious business, numbered chassis is displayed on the dash! Torque, low seating position, targa top, 3LT Nappa leather smell, light-weight chassis and body, trans in rear for weight distribution, tons of tech: PDR, front curb cameras, digital dash, HUD, auto rev match, 30 mpg on cyl deactivation mode, I transported a gun safe in the massive hatch, great profile from most angles, hidden storage compartment, tow hook fits easy (even better with Z06 grill)
least favorites Front splitter scrapes easily, Ford dealers, engine horror stories, Mustang weight and name affiliation, more front-heavy, gas tank needs filling up often, 2019-2020 have MPSS Cup2 tires that will last 3 to 10k miles street + canyon driving, have to remove bumper to install tow hook, body panel alignment, kinda ugly orange front marker lights (turn dial to left to fix in daytime), break-in instructions are heavily debated Reliability (3LT top level trim electronics mostly), Corvette community, revs run out fast, just not that engaging to drive when going on a cruise, 4th gear goes well over 100mph, got hit often (low and dark profile), laggy and new-passenger confusing unlocking door mechanisms, rear profile too skinny on base model, run-flat tires are harsh, cheap sharp plastic volume buttons on steering wheel, have to pay $350 at dealer to get magna-ride update to make it less harsh, exhaust mode buried in clunky infotainment
must-do mods Lethal Performance resonator delete pipe (I hope it's not too raspy), rock blockers on side skirt, passenger side oil separator, damn shifter buzz MGW short shifter, AWE x-pipe, Z06 grill (for base model)
ideal model and options GT350 (unless you actually race often then get the R), bright color with stripes, 2019+ for V2 Voodoo engine (shares GT500 internal parts), base seats Grand Sport coupe, 3LT or 2LT with PDR, manual (auto is terrible- just get the C8 if you can't shift), Z07 package if you race (carbon ceramics are expensive)

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Edinburgh club nights and venues

After replying to a post about the best music venues it got me thinking about all the great club nights and venues that have come and gone over the last 30 years or so.
What was everyone's favourite nights and venues? Mine were probably the likes of Pure, Sublime, Pillbox and Manga. Venues like Studio 24 and Wilkie House had some amazing atmospheres, I'm amazed I can remember any of it given how those nights went! LOL
Here's a list of venues and club nights that I can remember (please let me know if I've got some venues mixed up, my memory is little more hazy these days!):



s
















Also what what was everyone's favourite pre-bars? I remember Pivo and Q Bar before going to The Venue. Before La Belle Angele, The City Cafe, Bam Bu and The Living Room (before it burned down along with the club) were the bars a lot of folks went to for a pre-bevvie before the main event kicked off.
Others I remember were Poprocket, The Outhouse, Moo Bar (Meadows bar) and The Human Be-In
There's a ton I more that are probably in the back of my mind that I've forgotten about just now. I'll edit my original post with long running clubs that I've forgotten about i.e. ran for at least a year.
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[Spoiler Extended] Who taught Daenerys how to hatch the dragon eggs, Quaithe's true motives, and how the Church of Starry Wisdom might be involved in a conspiracy

As we all know, after the deaths of Drogo and Rhaego, Daenerys found herself lighting Drogo’s pyre and burning Mirri Maaz Duur along with the late khal's body - and in the process, hatching her dragon eggs (which she had placed in the fire). Quite frankly, it is rather astounding how Daenerys seemed to know hatching the eggs this way would work in spite of never having betrayed any knowledge of such an art. Most of all, she she succeeded - in spite of doing something that would (and by all logic, should) have killed her. I can't help thinking - how? How on earth did Dany know this would work?
At first, my idea was that Daenerys somehow had some sort of subconscious or repressed knowledge in her being that allowed her to realize dragon eggs could be hatched in this way. However, I’m not a huge fan of this idea. Keep in mind that the last time a Targaryen (Aegon Targaryen V) tried to hatch dragons, it ended...pretty dismally. Remember Summerhall? Aegon V killed himself and nearly everyone in the area with his attempt to hatch the eggs. While the exact circumstances are a mystery, it's safe to say Dany's Targaryen ancestor wasn't privy to any such knowledge. So he died.
Is it a coincidence that Aegon V failed to hatch eggs, either due to some maester conspiracy or even a genuine accident, but Daenerys succeeded? I think not - I think there's something going on.
What became of the dream of dragons was a grievous tragedy born in a moment of joy. In the fateful year 259 AC, the king summoned many of those closest to him to Summerhall, his favorite castle, there to celebrate the impending birth of his first great-grandchild, a boy later named Rhaegar, to his grandson Aerys and granddaughter Rhaella, the children of Prince Jaehaerys.
It is unfortunate that the tragedy that transpired at Summerhall left very few witnesses alive, and those who survived would not speak of it. A tantalizing page of Gyldayn's history—surely one of the very last written before his own death—hints at much, but the ink that was spilled over it in some mishap blotted out too much.
...the blood of the dragon gathered in one... ...seven eggs, to honor the seven gods, though the king's own septon had warned... ...pyromancers... ...wild fire... ...flames grew out of control...towering...burned so hot that... ...died, but for the valor of the Lord Comman... - TWOIAF
Yep. Aegon V died trying to achieve Daenerys's goal, which was to bring dragons into the world. The other theory that, on a surface level, might work is that Dany was actually genuinely suicidal and planning to burn herself alive with Mirri Maaz Duur while adding the eggs to give herself comfort...except, this theory completely falls apart on a closer inspection. Dany does not seem in the least bit suicidal, and in fact seems exasperated by the fact Jorah and the others don't see what she does - that she sees. A lot of this is in her own thoughts, too, so she isn't bluffing.
And there came a second crack, loud and sharp as thunder, and the smoke stirred and whirled around her and the pyre shifted, the logs exploding as the fire touched their secret hearts. She heard the screams of frightened horses, and the voices of the Dothraki raised in shouts of fear and terror, and Ser Jorah calling her name and cursing. No, she wanted to shout to him, no, my good knight, do not fear for me. The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of dragons, mother of dragons, don't you see? Don't you SEE? With a belch of flame and smoke that reached thirty feet into the sky, the pyre collapsed and came down around her. Unafraid, Dany stepped forward into the firestorm, calling to her children*. - Daenerys, AGOT*
There. So Daenerys knows her ''children'' will hatch, and she knows precisely how to hatch them. She is not afraid, she knows this will all work out. It's also safe to say Dany does not exactly have access to dragon lore like the older Targaryens and Valyrians did, so it's not like she would have somehow learned to do something even Aegon V and his pyromancers failed to do while she was on the run with Viserys Targaryen in Essos. The question is - where did she get this knowledge from, then? Let's dig a little deeper. Let's look into her dreams - the fever dreams she had before learning of her family.
WINGS SHADOWED HER FEVER DREAMS. “You don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?” She was walking down a long hall beneath high stone arches. She could not look behind her, must not look behind her. There was a door ahead of her, tiny with distance, but even from afar, she saw that it was painted red. She walked faster, and her bare feet left bloody footprints on the stone. “You don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?” She saw sunlight on the Dothraki sea, the living plain, rich with the smells of earth and death. Wind stirred the grasses, and they rippled like water. Drogo held her in strong arms, and his hand stroked her sex and opened her and woke that sweet wetness that was his alone, and the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky.
“Home,” she whispered as he entered her and filled her with his seed, but suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame. “…don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?” Ser Jorah’s face was drawn and sorrowful. “Rhaegar was the last dragon,” he told her. He warmed translucent hands over a glowing brazier where stone eggs smoldered red as coals. One moment he was there and the next he was fading, his flesh colorless, less substantial than the wind. “The last dragon,” he whispered, thin as a wisp, and was gone. She felt the dark behind her, and the red door seemed farther away than ever. “…don’t want to wake the dragon, do you?” Viserys stood before her, screaming. “The dragon does not beg, slut. You do not command the dragon. I am the dragon, and I will be crowned.” The molten gold trickled down his face like wax, burning deep channels in his flesh. “ I am the dragon and I will be crowned!” he shrieked, and his fingers snapped like snakes, biting at her nipples, pinching, twisting, even as his eyes burst and ran like jelly down seared and blackened cheeks. “…don’t want to wake the dragon…”
The red door was so far ahead of her, and she could feel the icy breath behind, sweeping up on her. If it caught her she would die a death that was more than death, howling forever alone in the darkness. She began to run. “…don’t want to wake the dragon…” She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb. Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand toward hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out. She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash. She wept for her child, the promise of a sweet mouth on her breast, but her tears turned to steam as they touched her skin. “…want to wake the dragon…”
Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade. “Faster,” they cried, “faster, faster.” She raced, her feet melting the stone wherever they touched. “Faster!” the ghosts cried as one, and she screamed and threw herself forward. A great knife of pain ripped down her back, and she felt her skin tear open and smelled the stench of burning blood and saw the shadow of wings. And Daenerys Targaryen flew*. “…wake the dragon…” The door loomed before her, the red door, so close, so close, the hall was a blur around her, the cold receding behind. And Daenerys Targaryen flew. “…wake the dragon…” The door loomed before her, the red door, so close, so close, the hall was a blur around her, the cold receding behind.*
And she could smell home, she could see it, there, just beyond that door, green fields and great stone houses and arms to keep her warm, there. She threw open the door. “…the dragon…” And saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the narrow eye slit of his helm. “The last dragon,” Ser Jorah’s voice whispered faintly. “The last, the last.” Dany lifted his polished black visor. The face within was her own. After that, for a long time, there was only the pain, the fire within her, and the whisperings of stars*. She woke to the taste of ashes. “No,” she moaned, “no, please.” “Khaleesi?” Jhiqui hovered over her, a frightened doe. The tent was drenched in shadow, still and close. Flakes of ash drifted upward from a brazier, and Dany followed them with her eyes through the smoke hole above.* Flying, she thought. I had wings, I was flying. But it was only a dream*. “Help me,” she whispered, struggling to rise. “Bring me…” Her voice was raw as a wound, and she could not think what she wanted. Why did she hurt so much? It was as if her body had been torn to pieces and remade from the scraps. “I want…”*
- Daenerys, AGOT
A random aside - Daenerys is not the first or only person to have (supernatural) dreams of flight in this series. The other two characters are Bran Stark and Euron Greyjoy. We know Bran got his flight dreams from the three-eyed crow and it is strongly implied Euron got his dreams from Brynden Rivers aka Bloodraven. Both are also connected to some form of supernatural knowledge. Is it possible that Dany's dreams are not entirely her own too? Keep in mind she doesn't seem to even recognize the gemstone emperors in her dream, who surprisingly line up with the Great Empire of the Dawn.
Dominion over mankind then passed to his eldest son, who was known as the Pearl Emperor and ruled for a thousand years. The Jade Emperor, the Tourmaline Emperor, the Onyx Emperor, the Topaz Emperor, and the Opal Emperor followed in turn, each reigning for centuries...yet every reign was shorter and more troubled than the one preceding it, for wild men and baleful beasts pressed at the borders of the Great Empire, lesser kings grew prideful and rebellious, and the common people gave themselves over to avarice, envy, lust, murder, incest, gluttony, and sloth.
When the daughter of the Opal Emperor succeeded him as the Amethyst Empress, her envious younger brother cast her down and slew her, proclaiming himself the Bloodstone Emperor and beginning a reign of terror. He practiced dark arts, torture, and necromancy, enslaved his people, took a tiger-woman for his bride, feasted on human flesh, and cast down the true gods to worship a black stone that had fallen from the sky*. (Many scholars count the Bloodstone Emperor as the first High Priest of the sinister* Church of Starry Wisdom*, which persists to this day in many port cities throughout the known world). - TWOIAF*
It is interesting how the GEOTD's titles correspond to the gemstone-eyed emperors in Dany's dream. Surprisingly enough, Daenerys herself has been stated to have amethyst eyes and silver-gold hair not unlike that what the Amethyst Empress should have (if the GEOTD are indeed the subject of Dany's dream) - by none other than Euron Greyjoy, a guy who is heavily interested in the supernatural and one of those other characters who has likely received magical dreams. Don't believe me? Compare Euron's description to the description of the gemstone emperors we get in Dany's dream.
"What dragon?" said Victarion, frowning.
"The last of her line. They say she is the fairest woman in the world. Her hair is silver-gold, and her eyes are amethysts . . . but you need not take my word for it, brother. Go to Slaver's Bay, behold her beauty, and bring her back to me."
"Why should I?" Victarion demanded. - The Reaver, AFFC
They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst*, tourmaline and jade. - Daenerys, AGOT*
I don't think George has had Euron of all people describe Dany in a way that would very likely resemble the Amethyst Empress for no reason at all. Euron wants Dany to birth him a child that is worthy of a mysterious figure (''him''), or so he says to Victarion. I've written in the past about how I suspect Euron plans to blood sacrifice Daenerys to summon a comet (his ''child'') and using that to reign over the earth, effectively becoming an evil version of Azor Ahai. I've also written about how I suspect Euron, in spite of all these arrogant ambitions, is ultimately a tool in the hands of the Children of the Forest - who plan on harnessing his ambitions for their own agenda - to deplete humanity.
Let's go back to the quote about the Bloodstone Emperor - and the one about Dany.
After that, for a long time, there was only the pain, the fire within her, and the whisperings of stars*. She woke to the taste of ashes. “No,” she moaned, “no, please.” - Daenerys, AGOT*
He practiced dark arts, torture, and necromancy, enslaved his people, took a tiger-woman for his bride, feasted on human flesh, and cast down the true gods to worship a black stone that had fallen from the sky. (Many scholars count the Bloodstone Emperor as the first High Priest of the sinister Church of Starry Wisdom, which persists to this day in many port cities throughout the known world). - TWOIAF
Stars. A stone that had fallen from the sky (which could easily be mistaken for a star if it was in the air, not unlike a meteor or comet). A Church of Starry Wisdom, which appears in ''many port cities'' throughout the known world - exactly the kind of place a globe-trotter such as Euron Greyjoy might well have visited during his many voyages. Daenerys's sudden and unexplained knowledge (or wisdom?) of how to hatch dragon eggs following whisperings of stars (starry wisdom?) It's almost as if there is a single thread connecting all of these events together. And this thread leads me to conclude...
The Church of the Starry Wisdom directly contacted Daenerys and sent her knowledge on how to hatch dragon eggs (among maybe other things) through her dream. Keep in mind we know glass candles are a thing, and they can be used to send dreams to people - what's to say this institution that clearly delves into occult issues wouldn't have such a candle?
"What feeds a dragon's fire?" Marwyn seated himself upon a stool. "All Valyrian sorcery was rooted in blood or fire. The sorcerers of the Freehold could see across mountains, seas, and deserts with one of these glass candles. They could enter a man's dreams and give him visions, and speak to one another half a world apart, seated before their candles. Do you think that might be useful, Slayer?" - Samwell, AFFC
It's even possible Euron Greyjoy himself has glass candles - operating under the theory Euron is Urrathon Night-Walker, and if Euron is affiliated with or an ally of the Church of the Starry Wisdom (which makes sense considering that both seem connected to the Bloodstone Emperor and just fucked up evil magic in general). In ACOK, a mysterious character like Urrathon Night-Walker is mentioned - never seen, but referenced in a very odd context that has to do with resurgence of magic.
Xaro looked troubled. "And so it was, then. But now? I am less certain. It is said that the glass candles are burning in the house of Urrathon Night-Walker*, that have not burned in a hundred years. - Dany, ACOK*
The surname Night-Walker is very suspicious, considering the existence of beings called White Walkers that are associated with night - the Long Night especially. The fact this guy has glass candles is even stranger and pretty much implies he is privy to some sort of arcane magical knowledge. But the Urrathon name perhaps is the most interesting thing here by far, and that’s because the name Urrathon has appeared before. It is associated with one of the earliest rulers of the Iron Islands, who happened to be a total dickbag of a ''brother'' - not unlike Euron in a sense.
Upon the death of King Urragon III Greyiron (Urragon the Bald), his younger sons hurriedly convened a kingsmoot whilst their elder brother Torgon was raiding up the Mander, thinking that one of them would be chosen to wear the driftwood crown. To their dismay, the captains and kings chose Urrathon Goodbrother of Great Wyk instead. The first thing the new king did was command that the sons of the old king be put to death*. For that, and for the* savage cruelty he oft displayed during his two years as king, Urrathon IV Goodbrother is remembered in history as Badbrother*. - TWOIAF*
What if Urrathon Night-Walker is just an alias Euron Greyjoy is using? We know Euron has been all over the world, and him being in Qarth - a place where creepy sorcerers with prophecy powers exist - is not in the least bit out of place. The Urrathon name fits with Euron’s Ironborn ancestry and the Night-Walker part is but a small piece of the larger evidence supporting him being connected to the Long Night somehow or wanting it to happen, just like the Bloodstone Emperor was or had before him.
"The bleeding star bespoke the end," he said to Aeron. "These are the last days*, when the* world shall be broken and remade*. A* new god shall be born from the graves and charnel pits." - TWOW‘’I swore to give you Westeros,’’ the Crows Eye said when the tumult died away, “and here is your first taste. A morsel, nothing more…but we shall feast before the fall of night!” - AFFC
At any rate, Euron being an ally of the Church of Starry Wisdom makes complete sense. One thing that's interesting to me is how much this quote from Euron mirrors the Azor Ahai prophecy. Isn't that a different religion, though - that of the ''Lord of Light''? What's going on? I have an idea - one I'll spell out and provide evidence of soon after. The Azor Ahai prophecy is not a natural part of R'hllorism but in fact a hijacking of the religion by infiltrators from the Church of Starry Wisdom. In a sense, it is not very different from how Roman political figures like Constantine adulterated Christianity in real life and threw in a bunch of pagan customs that were not part of the original faith.
These infiltrators, who were loyal to the Bloodstone Emperor of old, wanted to not only redeem their former benefactor's image by fashioning the myth of Azor Ahai after him (essentially whitewashing him for the masses and perverting the future direction of the Cult of R'hllor) but also eventually find a way to bring back his dark rule - in a sense. That this Church was not only connected to but also outlived the Bloodstone Emperor himself implies they may know his secrets even as others may have long forgotten. I've written an entire thread connecting Bloodstone to Azor Ahai, if you're interested.
The Church may have also taken over or influenced a second faith movement - that of the Faceless Men - in order to achieve its goals. We hear of what seems to be a faceless man murdering Balon Greyjoy, presumably in exchange for Euron's dragon egg. We also see a faceless man murdering Pate and taking his identity at the Citadel for some hitherto unknown reason (though the book ''The Death of Dragons'' may be involved). Strangely enough, this faceless man calls himself ''Pate, like the pig boy'' when the original Pate hated being called a pig boy. Just compare and contrast the two quotes.
''Unlike our spotted pig boy*." He waved a hand toward Pate.*
If I hit him in the mouth with my tankard, I could knock out half his teeth, Pate thought*. Spotted Pate the pig boy was the hero of a thousand ribald stories: a good-hearted, empty-headed lout who always managed to best the fat lordlings, haughty knights, and pompous septons who beset him. Somehow his stupidity would turn out to have been a sort of uncouth cunning; the tales always ended with Spotted Pate sitting on a lord's high seat or bedding some knight's daughter. But those were stories.* In the real world pig boys never fared so well. Pate sometimes thought his mother must have hated him to have named him as she did*.*
And...
"My thanks." There was something about the pale, soft youth that he misliked, but he did not want to seem discourteous*, so he added, "My name's not Slayer, truly. I'm Sam. Samwell Tarly."*
"I'm Pate," the other said, "like the pig boy." - Samwell V, AFFC
It's interesting the faceless man posing as Pate does something the real Pate would likely not have done, implying the impersonator is either relatively unskilled at being a FM (unlikely) or something of a maverick and a heretic whose way of doing things differs from other members (more likely). It's also interesting Sam somehow senses something is off with the guy, which further implies ''Pate'' is actually pretty bad at maintaining his disguise and perhaps not a normal FM doing normal FM things.
I think there is a rogue faceless man running around, which lends credence to rogues in other religions too. I thought Moqorro turning up in the right place at the right time to be rescued by Victarion might be proof of him being a rogue R'hllor cultist, though I might be wrong about this.
Perhaps its most enigmatic ally, however, would be someone who has already contacted Daenerys.
Quaithe. We know this mysterious lady has knowledge of (and very likely access to) glass candles and has appeared in Dany. She also definitely has knowledge of magic and Daenerys's experiences.
"No. Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning*. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun's son and the mummer's dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal." - Daenerys, ADWD*
Having glass candles would explain why she is able to appear to Daenerys the way she does. The other interesting thing is that she is specifically connected to starlight.
"Quaithe?" Dany called. "Where are you, Quaithe?"
Then she saw. Her mask is made of starlight*.*
"Remember who you are, Daenerys," the stars whispered in a woman's voice. "The dragons know. Do you?"
- Daenerys, ADWD
One could even argue Quaithe is giving Daenerys wisdom (or what seems to be wisdom), in a sense. If she is starry and gives wisdom...what if she is a member of the Church of Starry Wisdom?
She dreamed. All her cares fell away from her, and all her pains as well, and she seemed to float upward into the sky. She was flying once again, spinning, laughing, dancing, as the stars wheeled around her and whispered secrets in her ear*. "*To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward, you must go back. To touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow."
"Quaithe?" Dany called. "Where are you, Quaithe?" - Daenerys, ASOS
"Are you here?"
"No. Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning*. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun's son and the mummer's dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal." - Daenerys, ADWD*
"Reznak? Why should I fear him?" Dany rose from the pool. Water trickled down her legs, and gooseflesh covered her arms in the cool night air. "If you have some warning for me, speak plainly. What do you want of me, Quaithe?"
Moonlight shone in the woman's eyes. "To show you the way." - Daenerys, ADWD
Or so she says. Is that what she's doing, though?
"I remember the way. I go north to go south, east to go west, back to go forward. And to touch the light I have to pass beneath the shadow." She squeezed the water from her silvery hair. "I am half-sick of riddling. In Qarth I was a beggar, but here I am a queen. I command you—"
"Daenerys. Remember the Undying. Remember who you are." - Daenerys, ADWD
Remember who you are...who are you? Who is Daenerys supposed to be?
Quaithe asks Daenerys this question again.
"Remember who you are, Daenerys," the stars whispered in a woman's voice. "The dragons know. Do you?" - Daenerys, ADWD
Why not just tell her who she is? Sounds like an obvious thing to do if you're supposed to help her.
However, let's see how Daenerys ultimately decides to answer this question. I think that's quite important to figuring out what Quaithe's true motives might be, if she is part of the Church.
No. You are the blood of the dragon. The whispering was growing fainter, as if Ser Jorah were falling farther behind. Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words*.*
"Fire and Blood," Daenerys told the swaying grass. - Daenerys, ADWD
Dragons plant no trees. Remember what you were made to be. That shit sounds mighty ominous (and isn't even true, considering how Targaryens like Rhaenys I, Jaehaerys I, Alysanne, Baelor, and Aegon V improved the lot of the common people with their reforms). Keep in mind also that Marwyn said those who use glass candles can send others dreams as well as visions across a long distance. What if the Dream!Jorah Dany sees is not just a hallucination but a vision purposefully sent by Quaithe to prod Daenerys down a very specific path...a path that will lead her to destruction?
And going further...what if Quaithe was the one who sent Daenerys instructions on how to hatch her dragon eggs, on behalf of the Church of Starry Wisdom? As for why she would do so, well, consider this. Quaithe herself said, dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power. Interestingly, Euron - who also is very likely linked to the Church of Starry Wisdom - just happens to have a horn that can...control dragons? It's possible, if not probable, that a more ruthless Dany would only be more vulnerable to Euron. Yes, as odd as it may sound, bear with me - there may be something to it.
Now, Daario isn't Euron, but both men - as many have noticed and argued - have a striking number of similarities. Daenerys, who has been spending much of her time in Meereen resisting the temptations of Daario (who represents war and amorality, two things that would not be unfamiliar to Euron) and forced herself to go for Hizdahr and the tepid, flawed peace he represents, instead, has just decided - likely once and for all - what path she prefers. And it's not Hizdahr's path. It's Daario's path.
And guess what Daenerys's final thoughts about both men are in the end of ADWD.
The carcass was too heavy for him to bear back to his lair, so Drogon consumed his kill there, tearing at the charred flesh as the grasses burned around them, the air thick with drifting smoke and the smell of burnt horsehair. Dany, starved, slid off his back and ate with him, ripping chunks of smoking meat from the dead horse with bare, burned hands. In Meereen I was a queen in silk, nibbling on stuffed dates and honeyed lamb, she remembered. What would my noble husband think if he could see me now? Hizdahr would be horrified, no doubt. But Daario …
Daario would laugh, carve off a hunk of horsemeat with his arakh, and squat down to eat beside her*.*
As the western sky turned the color of a blood bruise, she heard the sound of approaching horses. Dany rose, wiped her hands on her ragged undertunic, and went to stand beside her dragon. - Daenerys, ADWD
And what is Euron, if not a highborn (albeit crueler) Daario who brings Daenerys ships and a fleet that will help her return to Westeros as well as back her up in future battles? While Dany likely would not agree with the full depth of Euron's cruelty, the guy is immensely charismatic and knows how to play or manipulate others. He would tone his cruelty down just enough to appeal to as well as seduce a Daenerys just as Daario did, if not better considering all the perks he brings to her table.
It's also strongly foreshadowed Daenerys will have a relationship with Euron.
"Three?" She did not understand.
. . . three heads has the dragon . . . the ghost chorus yammered inside her skull with never a lip moving, never a breath stirring the still blue air. . . . mother of dragons . . . child of storm . . . The whispers became a swirling song. . . . three fires must you light . . . one for life and one for death and one to love . . . Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt . . . three mounts must you ride . . . one to bed and one to dread and one to love . . . The voices were growing louder, she realized, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath. . . . three treasons will you know . . . once for blood and once for gold and once for love . . . - Daenerys, ACOK
Then phantoms shivered through the murk, images in indigo. Viserys screamed as the molten gold ran down his cheeks and filled his mouth. A tall lord with copper skin and silver-gold hair stood beneath the banner of a fiery stallion, a burning city behind him. Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman's name. . . . mother of dragons, daughter of death . . . Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd. From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies . . . Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright in his dead face, grey lips smiling sadly*. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . . . mother of dragons, bride of fire . . . - Daenerys, ACOK*
Yep. In my view, the ''one to dread'' and the corpse ship represent Euron, whom Dany will find herself romancing. Just as Euron, Quaithe, and the Church of Starry Wisdom had planned. By bringing Dany and Euron together, Quaithe can help ensure the latter can sacrifice the former and by doing so, revive the Bloodstone Emperor's dark reign.
TLDR: Quaithe, Euron, and the Church of Starry Wisdom are part of a conspiracy to bring back the reign of the Bloodstone Emperor aka Azor Ahai, which they will do by giving Daenerys dragons, amplifying Dany's worst instincts so she will be more vulnerable to the seduction of someone like Euron, and then sacrificing her potent magical blood to start Long Night 2.0.
In addition, the Church may be responsible for corrupting the faith of R'hllor by presenting Azor Ahai as a savior of said faith, when in reality he is neither a part of the faith nor a savior. The Church has also one spy or agent operating as a Faceless Man (another religion), currently disguised as Pate.
Thanks to u/GenghisKazoo and Quinn's Ideas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abhuMwMZ7Qg) for inspiring this theory!
submitted by saminstark to pureasoiaf [link] [comments]

PC User's Guide to Hi Quality Audio

Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations.
I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra.
So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or , it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.
Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile and /headphones . I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
Couple things to note: I originally thought I would make a 5 minute low effort post with just a list of speakers and headphones, but this turned out to be longer than I originally anticipated. If I repeat myself in certain sections, it is because I wrote this abomination in multiple sessions with edits....or I'm just an idiot...probably the latter. If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He still knows his shit and is a great entertainer whilst talking about audio products.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.
So I will be splitting this list into 3 categories: active speakers, passive speakers, headphones and amps/dacs. And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fuc**** equal boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e.
Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)
So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier you buy will be better than the shitty one in the pb42x. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.
BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS
If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.
ACTIVE SPEAKERS
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
PASSIVE SPEAKERS
These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life, or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)
Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables from amazon will set you straight, and while these cables are very nice, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.
AMPLIFIERS
Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts. Do note that if you have the space, a used AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.
If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.
SUBWOOFERS
Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs . You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.
HEADPHONES
Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.
WIRELESS HEADSETS
Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.
MICS
Cool.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to pcmasterrace [link] [comments]

The cult of the Hundred Eyed God has ruined my favourite fishing spot

There are places out there in the world that are special. Places that feel just a twinge more real than the rest; spots on the planet where the smells, the wind, the light all jumble together into one steady stream of cosmic calm that allows you to block out the chaos of the outside world. My pond was one of those places.
It wasn’t really a pond, it was an old man-made reservoir in the middle of the woods back from the communist era, but if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know. Reeds grew on the edge of the bank, schools of fish squirmed through the water and the pond was tucked away in the middle of a forest. The reservoir, the pond, whatever you want to call it, was my calm little center of the universe.
I was a young man when I first stumbled upon that magical place. Russian tanks had rolled through the borders to provide brotherly assistance against our attempts to democratize the country. Everyone was either plotting hare-brained revolutions against a superpower or lamenting the death of a movement that never really began. I didn’t want to think about the uncertain future. I didn’t want to fight a war I couldn’t win. I just wanted a break. So I walked. I walked out of my crummy apartment, out of the anxious city, past construction sites for the concrete monstrosities that would adorn the edges of our capital and into the quiet forest. In the midst of an anxiety riddled walk I stumbled into my own personal slice of heaven.
Suddenly I wasn’t in a country that was being stomped on by Stalin’s de-Stalinized legacy, I wasn’t worrying about how unclear the horizons of my life were. I wasn’t anxious anymore; I was just standing by a pond on a warm September day. In that moment, a moment that flowed seamlessly until sundown, I knew that I could find happiness in the gentle serenity of the pond. There was a rundown wooden cottage right next to the concrete control room of the reservoir. I knew I had to have it.
It took nearly a decade of work; pay-checks in totalitarian states are barely enough to survive on and the concept of private ownership without family contacts tends to be a bit hairy, but with enough effort and a helping of palm grease I reached my goal. I became the sole owner of the wooden cottage. The pond would be a steady soothing balm on my soul whenever life out in the real world got too difficult to manage.
I would get visitors every couple of years; men who carried no badges but spoke with the authority of someone who performs disappearance magic tricks. They asked me about my political views, about whether I had any connections to capitalist imperialists who might be interested in tainting our great nation’s water supplies and a variety of other nonsense that only a state security agent would ask. I kept my head low; no information, no affiliation, no plans. Over the years they found problems bigger than me.
Human rights were violated, charters were signed, protestors were beaten and finally the regime fell. I celebrated that democratic plot from my youth coming into fruition by working a couple more years at my day-job and then retiring to live in my little cabin in the woods. I’ve never been one for fishing, but an afternoon thought about the pond being overpopulated manifested into a fishing rod purchase a couple weeks later. Fishing became a part of the charm of the place, I’d just lean back in the grass, grab a beer and grow old waiting for something to nibble on the bait. The nineties were kind to me. Then the joggers came.
The city was starting to expand, past the concrete monstrosities of the Soviet Era housing projects, new, shiny pieces of equally jarring modern architecture started to grow. They all somehow managed to use the English word ‘Living’ in their names, or carried some vaguely Italian moniker. The people that lived in the newly constructed homes came over to my pond to jog, to walk their annoying dogs, to barbecue. There was even talk of opening a waterside pub in the place. I tolerated them for years, if there weren’t any children around, and the dogs kept their distance and the joggers weren’t wheezing like idiots, I could have my peace. Then they all disappeared.
I am a cynical old man but I wouldn’t celebrate a global health crisis. I will, however, say that I didn’t mind the newfound peace that the pandemic brought me. Every couple of days youth volunteers would come and drop off some supplies for me as a part of the senior aid program and all I had to do was not come into contact with them. It didn’t take long for me to get used to my new role of a facemask-wearing hermit. If things had stayed the same I wouldn’t have anything to complain about. But they didn’t.
It happened about two weeks after the lock-down measures were announced. I was just sitting on the river bank, enjoying the gentle chirping of the far off birds, watching the water shimmer in the autumn breeze, and then I felt it. An almost palpable rush of energy went through my head, as if something was squirming around in my brain looking for a sensitive nerve. Questions drifted through my mind. Has anyone ever truly seen me as a human being? What will I leave behind for future generations to look at? Am I ready to come eye to eye with death or do I have regrets? I could see doors. A hundred locked doors, doors that could have led to a family, to a legacy, to a life that the pond couldn’t offer. I stubbed out the thought out as soon as it reared its horns. I’m pushing eighty. I wasn’t going to waste my time on things I couldn’t do anything about.
The line tightened, I grabbed my rod and started reeling. The catch ended up being a pathetic little thing. After watching it flop on the line for a bit I took it off the hook and chucked it back in the water. For a couple minutes I just sat there, enjoying the warmth of the sun, taking in the smell of the forest when I heard the voice.
Get out.” It said, ringing through my head. There was a weak screechiness to it, as if whatever power was beaming it into my head was struggling “The Hundred Eyed God compels you to leave.
“No.” I said out loud.
You will leave this place. You have been warned,” The voice whispered.
Well, this is probably what going senile feels like, I thought to myself and laid down in the grass. Sure, knowing that my mind was going was not a pleasant though, but being by that peaceful water soothed those worries out of my head. What will be will be, I thought, as long as I have my pond I’m content. Then my pond started to fade away.
I don’t know when exactly I noticed it, life after retirement has been just one long fishing trip for me, but it must’ve been within the same week of hearing the voice in my head. The voice didn’t come back, but something about the pond had changed. It was still as calm as ever, but something was wrong about it. Instead of floating thoughtlessly on the serene energy of the water I was constantly searching for that one thing that was unusual, for the thing that was missing.
I walked through the tree line and found a couple of stumps. It looked as if someone had chopped down a handful of trees while I was sleeping, but it didn’t really bother me none. We were in the middle of a forest; there were plenty of trees. The missing wood wasn’t what was troubling me. There was something wrong with the pond itself.
I was in the middle of reeling in a fish. It was a big one, probably one of those grossly oversized carp that tend to get hungry for hooks around autumn, yet as I stood up with the rod to get a better grip I noticed something. There was way too much mud at the edge of the water; the pond was being drained. Someone was trying to bleed out my paradise.
When I first bought the cottage the concrete shack that held the controls to the reservoir was just that, a faceless slab of concrete that no one touched. During the revolution a couple of kids that weren’t brave enough to spray paint things in front of the riot police came out to the reservoir and wrote various slogans on the concrete chunk. Love and truth shall be victorious, the scribbles read 30 years later. Beneath them was a banged up metal door. It was open. It wasn’t meant to be open.
There was dust all over the floor; the footsteps were easy to follow. They led directly towards the main water valve. Someone had been tampering with the drainage of the pond. The valve was rusty as all hell but with a tired creak it returned back to its position.
You are going against the wishes of The Hundred Eyed God. He can see you. He will not forget you.” I shook the croaking senility out of my head. A sense of calm washed over me. With the valves back where they were meant to be, the pond was safe.
I sat down by the pond and watched the stars twinkle their way out of a sunset. The world around me radiated with a serene tranquility. For a moment, out there in the dark, it seemed like things would go back to normal, like I would resume my lonesome life by the pond. That was the last time I felt true peace.
Sunken eyes, wheezing breaths and sweat covered bodies; they slowly trickled into my little kingdom. At first I thought they were just regular joggers, people who had spent the March madness hiding in their homes and felt the need to get back out on the trails in April, but these people didn’t look like regular joggers. They looked more like the people that would stand by the grill during the barbecues, the people who would make loud conversation about the meat, the people who always got just a twinge bit too drunk, the people who had the body proportions of someone who really likes food. Yet as they beat their feet against the jogging trail their chubby cheeriness was gone. These people were suffering, drenched in their own perspiration, grasping at breaths their body was unwilling to give, they were pushing themselves past the limits of their rotund bodies yet every day they showed, every day they grew more numerous.
I tried to focus on my fishing. I tried to ignore what was happening behind my back and just mind my own business but whenever I was on the edge of slipping back into the soothing spirit of the pond those moist sweatpants wearing figures would drag my attention away. Usually they simply ran around the pond, sometimes they carried axes out into the forest, sometimes they would emerge with weighed down garbage bags slumped across their shoulders. Regardless of what they were doing, however, they kept their eyes locked on me. Those cursed runners were watching me.
“Wow, this is such a chill spot,” a voice next to me casually remarked. For a split second I thought that it was just my mind playing tricks on me again, but it wasn’t. A couple meters away from me was a girl who couldn’t have been older than seventeen. She had her facemask pulled down to her chin so that she could puff on her hand rolled cigarette, her green eyes burrowed into me.
“Yeah,” I grunted, looking for a way out of the conversation. Talking to teens is always trouble but the absurdity of the joggers got to me. “You know what all these sweaty people want?” I asked. A wheezing man stumbled by us with a heavy garbage bag over his back.
“I dunno,” she said, puffing away on her cigarette, “One of them is my step-dad. He’s really dopey. Think it’s a cult or something.” The smoke drifted towards me. It wasn’t a cigarette. I could smell the 60s in the air. “You want a hit?”
“No.” I grunted and turned back to the water. The last thing I wanted was to become entangled in someone else’s family drama. Yet as I watched the bank of the pond I noticed something. The reeds were fully out of the water. The reservoir was being drained again.
“Have you been messing with the water valves?” I asked the teen, but she was gone. The smell of her joint still lingered but aside from the sweating joggers I was alone. I went towards the concrete shack. This time it wasn’t empty.
The man turned around as soon as I entered the valve room. His eyes were sunk deep into his skull, his loose clothes draped on him like wet blankets, an expression of fear danced on his eyes - He was clearly unwell.
“Why are you messing with the water valves? You’re gonna kill the fish,” I said.
You have been warned,” as he spoke his voice shook, he sounded weak, scared, but as he talked there were echoes in my mind of another voice; a powerful voice, a roaring thunder between my ears, “The Hundred Eyed God demands you leave this place.
“What did the pond ever do to you?” I asked.
You have been warned. Leave this place.” The man approached me, his fists shaking. Outside, the pounding of the feet stopped. Pained wheezing echoed through the meadow. As I backed out of the room I could see all of the other joggers had stopped. They were all staring at me.
Never come back. The Hundred Eyed God commands this,” The man said to the backing of that infernal voice. As he walked towards me he started to swing his fists. His eyes followed each attempted punch with regret, as if he was the world’s most resentful marionette puppet. I just kept on backing up, hoping he would calm down. I should have spent more time looking under my feet. I slipped.
I tumbled down towards my slice of paradise. The soft ground that I laid on for years hit my head like a brick. I blacked out.
I woke up in the hospital with a fractured skull. Apparently someone called an ambulance after they found me sprawled out by the Očice Living complex entrance. The hazmat looking nurses told me I was lucky, at my age most head injuries were fatal. The hospital would keep me around for the evening and then I would be free to go back to my cottage.
I don’t know how my body ended up so far away from the pond, I don’t know what those strange joggers wanted, I don’t know whether that voice that I heard in my head is a product of my senility or something much darker. The only thing that I do know with complete certainty is that there is something wrong with my pond. There is an untraceable pain in my chest, as if something that I loved has died, as if my call to being has been wiped from existence. I hope that I’m wrong, but a shimmer in my heart tells me my pond has been turned into something much less peaceful.
As I sit here writing this post I’m trying to stay calm, trying to remember how it felt to sit by those reeds and let life pass me by, but instead I keep on drifting over to the window. Even with the city’s bright lights bleeding out into the sky I can see the stars. There’s thousands of them shining brighter than they ever have before. Out there, in the forest, by my pond, they must be so much brighter. It’s as if the stars are waiting for something, as if they are a thousand sentient eyes, watching us.
-MJL
More Hundred Eyed God:
- The Woodcarver - The Athlete -
submitted by MikeJesus to nosleep [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…12

Continuing…
“I do not know, Rock”, he slightly slurred, as he was working on Yorshch number 3, “I have never before traveled out this far beyond the city.”
“Wait one.”, I demand, “You’re a 5th-year geology student and never been out of the city? Don’t you go on field trips?”
“They are forbidden.”, he smiled back, “That’s one reason I decided to go with you on your bus.”
I looked at Dax, Ivan, and Morse.
“Un-be-fucking-believable.” I uttered.
Even more un-be-fucking-believable was the “Rancho Bright Star” Motor Hotel. Right here, in the wilds of Best Korea.
We pull into the parking lot of the motel, and the bus parks down about 300 meters along the side of a small lake.
Yes, a small lake. Complete with piers, those goofy swan-boats you peddle along in, and paddle boats like these.
OK, let me try and set this surreal scene. We’re out in the wilds of Best Korea, somewhere northeast of Pyongyang, between Kaechon and Tokchan as best as we can figure it.
We have just pulled into a roadside motel that is a displaced molecule of the 1950s western US.
There is a central unpaved elliptical trackway, around 350-450 meters to a side.
The east side borders on a suspiciously man-made looking lake complete with paddle boats, piers, and benches for sitting while gazing out over the wonders of this diminutive out-of-place body of water. The motel boasts rental fishing gear, bait for sale, and swim toys such as lie-lows, rafts, rings, and the like for guests intent on lake frolicking.
In the center of the ellipse are wooden beach-style chairs, lounges, seats, and benches. There is a large pile of firewood and a central fire pit.
On the western side of the ellipse are a zig-zag series of single-and-double occupancy cabanas. There are exactly 19 of them. All identical, all with wide bay-windows to overlook the glories of the parking lot and the faux-lake beyond.
Also on the western side, but set back slightly, just after the entrance; is the front office building, central store, and restaurant.
We all walk off the bus, just scrutinizing and gawping where we’ve arrived.
As an American, I think I was the most confounded by all this. I’ve stayed at places in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico that looked identical to this place. However, that was almost 50 years ago.
The Canadians, Europeans, Russians, and other assorted geographical sundry might have seen pictures like this in Like® and LOOK® magazines, but they’ve never before really experienced them. They were just befuddled and amused.
I was genuinely and abnormally speechless. But I recovered quickly.
We were told by Jak, Mac, Tak, and Pak to go and stake out a cabana for ourselves. They would retrieve the keys for each and have them distributed them as necessary. Our luggage would be taken off the bus and brought to our cabanas by motel employees once we were all set and sorted.
“Ones who can read English, Russian, Portuguese, Canuckian?” I mused. “More of the shiny-suit squad, undercover division.”
We all took our respective cabanas and luggage was quickly distributed. I was somewhat abstemiously impressed at the efficiency.
The cabanas were new. Not just ‘slightly used’, or ‘sort of new’; I mean brand-spanking, brushed aluminum, and Molly-be-damned new. We couldn’t have been the second or third guests in here. The only blemish that betrayed any previous occupant was a minor cigarette burn on the side of the washbasin in the small bathroom.
The cabanas all had a nice, firm bed, a table, a few chairs, a fully stocked mini-bar, no phone, but a television and nausea-inducing-color shag-pile carpeting.
It was a real throwback to the 1950s.
My reverie was interrupted by a knock on my cabana door.
“Dinner in 30 minutes. Main restaurant. Front of complex.” barked an orderly.
“WOOF!” I barked back.
Not knowing if this was a dry county of Korea, I decided to grab a bottle of vodka and a couple of beers out of my private stash to accompany me to dinner. I decided to finish the cigar I already had lit rather than light another for the long slog to the restaurant.
About 15 minutes later, I’m swinging a liter bottle of real 100-octane Russian vodka like a dinner bell. I have two tall cans of Taedonggang Special Dark in the pockets of my field shorts. I have on my best, new, and most hopelessly garish Hawaiian shirt, “Laika was the First Party Animal” T-shirt, freshly whisked field boots, and my obligatory Stetson. Of course, I was chomping a cigar; but it was new and as of yet, unlit.
I arrived at the hotel front office and was steered to the back where the restaurant lived. There were placards at each seat with our names and affiliations, albeit in Korean. Luckily, a quasi-sober young Mr. Myung was there and helped us find our proper seats.
I was at one end of the table and it was Dr. Academician Ivan at the other end. Evidently, in Korea, it’s a big, fat, hairy deal where one is seated at the table during these assembly dinners. I was at one end by dint of being the team leader and Ivan the other as he was the oldest old fart on the team.
“Nonsense!”, I said, as I dragged young Mr. Myung from his seat and plopped him down at the head of the table where I was bid to sit.
“The man of the hour!” I said. No one, except for young Myung, complained in the least.
I poured him a very stiff drink.
“Cool out.” I exhorted, “You need to learn to observe, to learn...” I smiled.
Evidently our guides, No, Kong, and that crowd, were eating elsewhere that evening.
However, Pak, Mac, Jak, and Tak of the shiny suit squad were joining us on that eventide for victuals.
I held up my unlit cigar and asked the crowd: “Objections?”
There were none as most were smoking cigarettes or pipes by this point.
I pulled out the brace of beers I brought along and set the liter of vodka to the right-hand side of my plate.
A most Russian maneuver.
I looked down the table. Not a single one of us failed to bring along something high-powered to drink. It was unanimous. Not a single geologist there, save for young Myung, failed to bring along a Safety Blitz.
It proved unnecessary, as the shiny suit squad shuffled in, sat down, and barked orders to the rarified air.
Bottles of local beer, nicely chilled, appeared for everyone. Bottles of local hooch also appeared and were distributed around the table at strategic intervals. Our unopened personal drinks were set aside for later. We wouldn’t want to seem ungallant now, would we?
It was all very proper, that first set of table toasts.
The shiny suit squad was wound pretty tightly that night. What with a bunch of self-thinking and operating western geoscientists doing whatever the hell they saw fit, the young Hero of Best Korea, a stowaway, but finder of new dinosaurs. I think we just overloaded them with new, unmanageable, voluminous, and contradictory information.
They were used to servile, subservient sheep; not crotchety old knurled rams like us.
Of course, we had two Russians in attendance, plus an American who spent many years in Russia and thus considered a naturalized, though still rough-around-the-edges, Russian.
OK, Siberian.
It’s didn’t take long, but after the first wan and halfhearted toast to the east and the west and various other sundry semi-pleasantries, one or more Russians would take over the chore of Tamandar, or toastmaster.
Professor Dr. Academician Ivan leads off between the first round of drinks and the limp, grisly-looking semi-green salad course.
Dr. Ivan: “Давайте выпьем за успех нашего дела!”[Let us drink to the success of our project!]
There were the appropriate responses and “Here, here's!”
Then, Dr. Ivan noticed our hosts in the shiny suits were solely social sippers.
Toasting is a seriously big deal. Once a toast has been voiced in someone’s honor, drinkers who participated in the toast are expected to drink their glass dry as a show of respect to the toastee.
Only a sip? This will not do…
“Пусть мы будем страдать так же печально, как капли водки, которые мы собираемся оставить в наших очках! [May we suffer as much sorrow as drops of vodka we are about to leave in our glasses!] Dr. Morse commands.
In other words: “Bottoms Up!”
However, the glasses are always topped up after every toast – this is called “osvezhit” [refresh] in Russia.
And so, not with a whimper, but with a bang, the evening began…
There were bottles of Korean Soju, of course, in many different flavors and strengths. We left the lighter stuff for the guys in the shiny suits. We were soon inadvertently and unknowingly publicly shaming them by only opting for refills with the highest octane of the brands available.
They took that as sort of an affront; perhaps not intentional, but damned if they’d let a mob of western geologists get the better of them.
You can see where this is headed, can’t you?
Along with the Soju, there was Hongju, a red-colored and oddly-tasting liquor of local origin. There was Okroju, a millet, rice or sorghum-sourced distillate of around 90 proof. Also present was Munbae-ju, a pear-flavored drink with a mild, 80 proof kick.
Aside from distilled spirits, several types of wine, such as maesil-ju (plum wine), and bokbunja-ju made their appearance, as well as the ubiquitous beer. Apart from the offerings of the Taedonggang Brewing Company, there were Chinese beers like Tsingtao and Harbin, along with some, surprisingly, European beers like Erdinger, Tiger, Bavarian Pils, and Heineken.
The non-Korean beers were not included in the cost of the meal, so I slid the head waiter some 75,000 won, or about USD$60.00.
“Is that going to be enough to cover the drinks tonight?” I asked Myung to translate.
“Tonight. Tomorrow. Next week. Yes!” He laughed. He was finally getting into the spirit and spirits of the evening.
OK, drinks were handled. We also had our own supplies with us and larger larders back in our cabanas; just in case.
The fuse was well and properly lit.
After the salad; a soup course of thin, some sort of edible, we hoped, animal broth was served. We scrupulously knew to say nothing but high praise about the food we were being offered, even though it was others (the UN Discretionary Forces) that were paying for this ‘feast’.
The toasts ran from the light: “Good to be in good country with good friends”. Thanks, Dax.
To the ridiculous: “May the fate of our countries aspire as high as the esteem we have for this banquet.”
OK, I laid it on a bit thick with that one. Every Westerner snickered; they saw right through my verbal façade. The shiny suit squad was definitely getting slightly swozzled, as I saw one surreptitiously swipe away a tear in appreciation of such high homage.
Over the meat course, which bets are still out pending results of the DNA tests Erle will run once back in Calgary as to species; we had time to sit, reflect, have a smoke, and relax a while.
Of course, Dr. Morse chose this time to take his Tamandar duties out for a little exercise.
More toasts. More bottoms up! incitements. More beer! More wine! Don’t let your glass go dry. Try this! Try that! What the fuck is this other thing?
“Up your bottoms!” one of the shiny suits said in a fit of shaky oriental reverie.
The empties pile grew at a prodigious rate. One box was for liquor bottles, deader than Julius Caesar. Another for wine bottles. Yet another for cans, bottles, and bags of beer; which we thought most amusing.
The dinner wore on, all 7 courses of gustatory delight. In between each, a round of toasts which, by now, had orbited the table once and was attempting re-entry.
The geoscientists by this point were just getting started. After the mystery meat, sweet puddings, cakes, and pie for afters, and a cheese board with wine course; our hosts thought we’d all be either so exhausted or shitfaced that we’d have to be dragged to our cabanas via forklift. Or ox-cart, whichever was most convenient.
Sorry, nae chingu [my friend], not this crowd. There was a fire pit outside, a lake that needed investigating, swan boats that needed to be tested for seaworthiness, and loads and loads of beer, wine, and booze that required drinking.
Besides, we needed to curate our hand samples. We still had some real work to do.
After the final toast; Pak, the head of the shiny suits stood, wobbly, and bade us good night.
We all replied ‘good night’ to him, and as a man, stood up, grabbed all the liquor we could carry, and headed to the firepit and chairs outside by the lake.
The absolute, abject appearance of alcohol-tainted alarm on their faces was one I wish I could have captured on film.
Dax was there first and began building a council fire in the firepit. Have to hand it to the crazy Canuck, he knew his campfires. He had a roaring blaze going within the space of 10 minutes.
We all re-adjusted our chairs around the campfire and attended to our samples. The larger portion of the hand sample would go into the bigger bag for testing and identification. A small piece representative of the whole would go into the smaller bag. All field tags would be filled out with proper identification numbers. The smaller bags were tossed into a common pile for future laboratory investigation; the larger bags, by dint of their mass, would go into the cargo hold of the bus. No matter how you sliced it, there would always be samples for analysis; one size or the other.
That took about a half an hour and during that magical time, little was said, although vast amounts of beer and liquor, as well as cigars and cigarettes, disappeared. This was a solemn field-time tradition. It was the traditional cap to the day in the field.
After that, the really serious drinking and relaxation set in.
We all sat around the fire, and in the spirit of the Four Yorkshiremen, spontaneous field stories broke out.
Pak, Tak, Jak, and Mak joined us; but at a bit of a refined distance. They really, really wanted to go to bed, or call their superiors and report what they were being forced to go through, or be just about anywhere else on the planet rather than here.
Now the drinking began to get serious.
“Rock”, Dax said, “You old duffer. Regale us with the tale of your finely fuckered fingers.”
There were a few audible gasps around the fire at that time. Everyone knew of my physical deformity but scrupulously avoided mentioning it out of fear of breaching propriety.
“Why, Dax!”, I said loudly, superficially fighting back real pain, “God damn. You know how sensitive I am about my hand! Fuck! How can you ask? Such unmitigated gall! Such hubris! I am appalled and aghast!” I whiled down to a sullen silence…
Even the guys in the shiny suit squad looked horror-struck. How could one callout an obvious bodily deformity much less make light of it?
“Oh, sorry, Rock”, Dax quietly replied, “Is there anything I can do to recompense?”
The entire crew went silent while they waited for my reply.
“Um….yeah…well,” I said quietly.
Then I said very loudly: “Get off yer dead ass and make me a stiff fucking drink while I tell everyone here of my Siberian close-shave, ya’ hoser!”
I was able to dodge most of the empties thrown my way, but I did catch a couple right in my gaudy new Hawaiian shirt.
No respect.
I spent the better part of a half an hour regaling all present with my tale of finger-fuckery. The lost circulation, the spraying mud, fire on the rig, the worm, and the power tongs, all in most-detailed Technicolor and ethanol-fueled anecdotalism.
They laughed, they gasped, they got white at some junctures. I didn’t leave out anything. It was a full 10-gauge recitation. I mentioned the current tantalum implants I’m testing and told them of earlier titanium rejections and all the pain and suffering.
Oh, the pain. Yes, Dax, I do need another. Make it a double.
“Vodka does not ease pain. But it does get your mind off it.” I was heard to utter.
Not to be outdone, Dr. Academician Ivan delighted us with his tales of being buried in an avalanche up above the Arctic Circle, high in the big-latitudes near Franz Joseph Land.
Right. Now everyone was getting in on the revelry.
We heard harrowing tales of auto accidents out in the field; errant drainage ditches and an ancient field vehicle going way too fast. Falling off outcrops or being beaned by errant gravity-induced rocks. Talus slides, rock falls, landslides, flood, storms, earthquakes, volcanos, rhyolite ash-fall tuffs…the litany went on and on.
Each got more lurid as the empties pile began to grow. Pak, Mac, Tak, and Jak were sipping their drinks but I think their growing green hue was due to our stories of near and not so near misses.
Joon, the tall Finn, stood up and in front of the whole fraternity, dropped trou and exposed the back of his right leg for all to see. A four-fold gash of scar-tissue alongside his cute little tighty-whities.
“Bear attack. In the woods searching for this lost outcrop. Taking samples for geochemical analysis for my Master’s, bear mauled me from behind!” Joon explained.
We were at that point in the revelry that someone just had to ask “Are you sure that’s all the bear had in mind?”
Even Joon thought that to be riotously funny.
The shiny suit squad, somewhere during the narrative, went from “Trying to keep up and not appear loaded” to “I don’t give a fuck. I’m going to show these guys!” drunk.
I’m sitting there, in near proximity to the roaring fire, smoking a huge cigar, three cans of beer of various fullness to my left, and a ¾ bottle of real high potency Russian vodka to my right. I’m exchanging quips, insults, and stories along with the rest of the crowd; just as time-honored traditions demand.
We’re all drinking like, well, a whole group of seasoned field geologists camping out in the field after a successful day in the field.
Mr. Myung is laughing uproariously. He was even loosening up enough to make some not terribly pleasant observations about his home country and dear AWOL leader. He figured that as long as he was in the clan of geologists, we’d protect him.
Mr. Pak of the shiny suit squad wanders up and has a listen. After a few minutes, he wobbles over to me and tells me, nay, orders me, to stand up.
The crowd goes silent. Propriety has been breached. Not North Korean decorum, but the sanctity of the geological field campfire.
“No one gets vexed and ratty around the fire. Stow it for another time, Chuckles.”
“You. Large American. Stand up and face me.” He orders.
“Which one?” I laughed back at him.
“What?” he asked, slurring slightly.
“Well if stand up, I certainly can’t face you unless you hop up here in this chair,” I said.
“Stand Up, American!” he officiously orders.
Silence from the crowd. All that is heard is the snap and crackle of the council fire.
So, I stand up. Cigar firmly in jaw, one hand on the arm of the chair, the other tending to my can of Heineken and Russkaya yorshch.
“Yes?” I ask.
“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I don’t swear. Oh shit! I do smoke and drink!” he laughs, nearly falling over at his jest, punching me lightly on the arm.
“May I please have one of your cigars?” he drunkenly asks and falls forward so that I need to react quickly and catch him before he face-plants.
“Of course!” I say. “Would any of your friends wish one as well?”
I look over and there are three heads bobbing like those little bobbly doggy statues idiot people put on the dashboards of their cars.
“Well then!”, I order, “Get your happy camper asses over here and join us!”
Everyone around the fire hoots and yells in agreement.
They slowly, sloppily, and shakily wander their chairs over and seat themselves around the fire ring.
I clip the ends of four of my ‘give away’ cigars, as I’m sure a Triple-Maduro Camacho would probably kill them in their current state. Still, they are stout Cuban seconds, and by that, still highly-potent cigars.
“No, you knothead. Wait for the tip to glow. Then puff, you goof!” I exhort them.
I ask Dax to rustle up four of the plastic cups that have been circulating around the campfire. He finds a double brace of them, briefly washes them out, and hands them to me.
I distribute one each to Tak, Pak, Mac, and Jak.
“The only way to really enjoy a fine cigar is to enjoy it with a fine drink. Here. Hold out your cups.” I ordered.
I pour them each about 100 milliliters of Russian 100-proof vodka, and I take the time to re-freshen my Yorshch.
“Geongang-e” [To your health!], I say, as the Korean toast is easy to remember if you break it down as Geo-n-gang-E!
They smile. They laugh. The go white as I polish off my Yorshch and turn the can upside down. Not a drop spilled out, just as it should be.
Have to give them credit, they each choked down that ration of booze. However, I think they forget about the lit cigars they had in their other hands.
“YEEOUCH!” Pak cried after he jabbed the charcoal of his cigar into the back of his hand.
“That’s how it starts, Mr. Pak. Keep that up and you’ll end up like this!” I shout and wave my keloidified and scarred hand under his nose.
He almost passes out, but his chair caught him this time.
The roars of laughter around the campfire at this time is one of my best memories of the whole trip as other inveigles them to try their particular favorite booze.
The reverie’s going along at a fine clip. Small sub-groups clump together to discuss one thing or another, mostly geological minutaea about the day's happenings.
Suddenly, Grako stands up.
“What’s the story on this lake? Good fishing?” he asks the collective.
Mak looks up; really, really, drunk off his pins. “It is fake lake. Some fish have been planted. It is more for show and swim.”
Jak lolls his head around to agree with Mak.
Tak looks like he’s going to add to the conversation, but just slurps another draft of his multiple-origin drink.
Pak, on the other hand, leaps up and is running. First goes the shirt and tie. Then the shoes. Then pants. He’s down to drawers and runs at full tilt to the pier that extends some 50 meters out over the lake. He hit that pier like Evel Knievel hitting the Snake River Canyon Jump. We watch him accelerate over the wooden pier, and we’re all laughing like loons shouting “GO! GO! GO!”
He flew a good distance and hit the water with an enormous splash. He swims over to one of the untethered swan boats and hangs on for dear life.
To a man, we all stood up and applauded.
It was warm out, so I decided that a dip might just be the thing. I lose my shorts and Hawaiian shirt, but keep my lit cigar, vodka bottle, and Stetson. I slowly get up and walk toward the lake. To the edge of the water and right into the point where neutral buoyancy takes over. Dax follows, and walking out on the dock, laughs and tosses me a swim ring.
“Here, now you won’t sink and douse your cigar.” He laughs.
He strips down to skivvies and dives in as well.
I’m bobbing around just keeping my head and cigar out of the water. My cigar is lit and my vodka bottle is nestled in the crease of my Stetson. The water’s warm, suspiciously so. I don’t give it another thought as it’s actually quite pleasant and quite possibly radioactive.
Then the rest of the crowd decides that a midnight dip would be just the thing.
Mr. Pak was eventually found alive, still clinging to the swan boat. Dax and Joon dragged him over to the pier and tossed him up there so he wouldn’t drown.
He was, as we say back home, “Fully Krausened.”
The rest of the shiny suit squad were sound-out in their chairs. They were sonorously snoring along, adding an interesting one-note counterpart to the harmony of the crackling campfire.
We all out in the lake, bobbing and paddling along. Viv grabbed a cooler full of beer and we develop a fine game of keeping the cooler afloat as we withdraw full beers and invested our empties.
I toss in my vodka bottle so anyone who wants to augment his beer is free and clear to do so.
Some folks are not one with the water, so after ten or fifteen minutes, some of them ease back to the campfire. They re-stoke it to its former glory and are dry within minutes.
Old water dogs like Dax, Ivan, myself, Viv, and Erlen are floating along, smoking our cigars, drinking our drinks of choice, and scanning the skies of satellites, meteorites, and anything else that might crop up on this clear, cloudless night. Gad, it was pitch black, save for the glow of the fire, starlit, cloudless, and starlit. Beauty of a sight, the stellar backbone of the night.
After an hour or so, we decide it’s time to get back to shore. Back we go and around the campfire, the shiny suit squad are snoring soundly and one or more of our team decides it’s time for some kip.
The old-timers, Ivan, my own self, Dax, and Viv all hang around the fire for a while longer.
“It’s so nice out here tonight”, I comment, “Who would have thought this is the way things would work out when we were contacted for this project?”
Several comments of agreement are heard. Then we hear a wan, squeaky voice from behind us.
“Ah! Yes, Mr. Pak”, I ask. “Grab you a beer?”
“Oh, no…I now remember…must tell you, gentlemen…tomorrow morning…local school children will be coming. Perform Korean dance and songs for your pleasure. 1000 hours. Good night.”, as he drags himself soggily and overwhelmed to his cabana.
“1000? Holy Wow. Pass me a beer. It’s still early then.” I laugh, as I retrieve the vodka from Ivan and Morse.
We all cratered abound an hour or hour and a half later. The room was most comfortable and seemingly secure. Since our handlers, er…guides were nowhere to be seen that evening, and the shiny suit squad got a little lubricated, well, we were certainly on our own.
One sleep later, and after a brisk morning shower with a brace of breakfast beers, I was over at the restaurant scanning the breakfast menu. Damn, I was downright peckish.
Most everyone was there. Young Myung, although looking a bit frazzled around the edges. Most all the Westerners, except Dax. He was down at the lake, trying his luck at fishing.
After eggs, toast, sausage, and coffee; we wandered with a CARE package for Dax. He had landed some very nice trout-looking sort of fish and was planning on presenting them to Pak and his crowd.
“Dax”, I said, “After last night’s festivities, that’s just pure evil”, and smiled.
“Just trying to b neighborly”, he explains.
It’s about 0930 and Pak and his crew are in the restaurant. They are looking very, very haggard. Very rough around the edges, right through to the core. We thought it would be too nasty to send them a round of breakfast drinks, but Viv had to talk me out of a round of Bloody Marys.
Dax took care of that and presented them three of the fish he had just caught.
Olive-green isn’t a usual Oriental color, now is it? Pak, Mac, Tak, and Jak all corroborated that conclusion.
They accepted the fish gratefully and had the head waiter whisk them away as quickly as possible.
We all sit down for coffee and pastries while we wait for the kids to show up.
I fire up a cigar. Others are smoking cigarettes or pipes, and talking excitedly about getting back into the field.
“How? How? How is it possible?” Pak asks.
“Who what, Mr. Pak?” I ask.
“How can you be so…undamaged by last night?” he asks.
“What? That little campfire meeting? Genetics, I guess. Wait. I’ll ask around.” I stand up and ask for attention.
“Gentlemen, Mr. Pak here wants to know how we feel after last night,” I say.
“How should we feel? It was a field night. I feel fine.” Gracko says.
Dax agrees, “Fine fettle. Never felt fettler.”
Dr. Academician Ivan replies, “Must be superiority of Russian upbringing and culture. You should see real Russian party!”
One after the other relate how they feel just fine and are looking forward to another full field day.
The waiter arrives with dry toast and tea for the shiny suit squad. We order beers to go with our smokes.
“You people are inhuman.” Mr. Pak moans.
“Nah. Just geologists. The only ethanol-fueled organisms in existence!” We laugh. “Vodka is just kind of a hobby.”
The local elementary school arrives at 1000 hours and for the next hour, regales us with Korean dance and song about how wonderful it is to be Korean, live in such a wonderful country, and other fundamental tales of twaddle and balderdash.
We applaud nicely as they did a good job and we’re not entirely heartless.
After this, I hunt down Mr. Pak.
“Well, that’s over. When are we headed back to the field? Soon?” I ask.
“Yes. Very soon”, Mr. Pak growls. “Tell your team to pack everything. We are leaving in 30 minutes.”
“Far out”, I reply and head off to tell the others of the good news.
The large sample bags are in the cargo hold of the bus. The smaller samples are all curated within my luggage.
Back on the bus, all our gear stowed in the cargo holds below, we’re smoking our smokeables and drinking our drinkables.
“A toast to another field day in Best Korea”, Dax offers the bus.
Mr. Pak appears unperturbed. He announces that we will be seeing some local sights today as well.
We drive on, and all is progressing as usual.
We come up to a couple of villages. We have no idea where we are. Our maps had stopped a few miles back. In fact, we didn’t even know that we had been headed south for most of the remaining morning.
“Here is Kijŏng-dong”, Mr. Tak announces.
Kijŏng-dong is one of two villages permitted to remain in the four-kilometer-wide (2.5 mi) DMZ set up under the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War; the other is the South Korean village of Daeseong-dong, 2.22 kilometers (1.38 mi) away.
Mr. Jak points out the reason for all the military appurtenances is that we are close to the DMZ, the border between North and South Korea.
We travel down a well-worn road. The sign points out that the village of Panmunjeom is only a few kilometers distant.
The road at Panmunjeom, which was known historically as Highway One in the South, was originally the only access point between the two countries on the Korean Peninsula. Both North and South Korea's roads end in the JSA joint security area; the highways do not quite join as there is a 20 cm (8 in) concrete line that divides the entire site.
The bus grinds to a halt. We are all invited to exit the bus and have a look around.
As we are doing so, our luggage is being taken out of the cargo area of the bus and rather unceremoniously stacked close to the border.
“Mr. Pak”, I ask, “What’s going on. What’s all this about?”
He replies, “People given the rare permission to cross this border must do so on foot before continuing their journey by road.”
We all swivel and see a flotilla of light-blue UN Humvees waiting on the other side of the border.
Mr. Pak shakes my hand, Dax’s, Ivan’s, and all one by one until we are properly thanked and asked to please get the flying fuck out of North Korea.
“The DPRK thanks you Western Scientists for your efforts over the last few weeks. We hope this project will continue to bear fruit. But now, with all that’s transpiring (assuming he was referring to the absent Supreme Leader and the ‘absent in Best Korea’ COVID-19 virus) your project is at an end. Thank you for your hard work and contributions to international science; and the progression of science from west to east. Now, we ask you to please depart.”
He bows to us slightly and says: “감사합니다.[Gamsahabnida.] Thank you and goodbye.”
“Well”, I muse, “That was rather abrupt.”
With that, we grab our gear and troop unceremoniously across the border to the waiting UN officials. It was like the end scenes of Close Encounters. There was a tote board with each of our pictures attached. One by one as we came across the border, a checkmark was made with a grease pencil over our photo.
“I guess that’s that”, I say as we are hustled aboard a waiting Humvee.
They made me put out my cigar.
“Yeah, we’re back in civilization”, I grouse.
We endure the ride for an hour and a half or so as we’re headed to Seoul, South Korea. We all have reservations at the Four Seasons Hotel there. Since our project was cut off early, and we have travel restrictions to deal with, we all have reservations for suites.
After checking in, calling Esme, and letting her know of the wicked turn of events, I call Rack and Ruin. I get to listen to their howling laughter as to how we were kicked out of the worst country in history.
Fuck. We’ll never live this down.
Later, down in the Market Kitchen restaurant, we are all assembled, probably for the last time. Certainly the last time on this project.
“Rock”, Dax asked, “What the fuck did we do to deserve this?”
“I don’t know”, I said as I lifted my huge beer mug and looked around at the splendor of this 5-star hotel in which we’ve been incarcerated, “But I plan on doing it more often.”
“Nahhh….why’d they kick us out?” Viv asks.
“They had to”, Ivan interjected. “What we did, in good fun and conviviality to those poor Korean agents. They couldn’t let that pass without a response.”
“Yeah. We damn near amused them to death,” I smiled.
It became apparent that North Korean officials were set to put with a certain amount of carryings-on and shenanigans, but never expected the level of impudence and incaution that a group of international geologists could provide.
We all smoked, we drank, we swore. We didn’t listen, we thought for ourselves and we eschewed prohibition. We did what we thought was necessary to accomplish the tasks set before us. They had no experience with audacity and impertinence on this level; they simply had no experience with this degree of effrontery, they did not know how to react.
So, we got the collective boot.
They thought they kept all the rock samples, but we didn’t let on that we had a duplicate set. They thought they kept all the maps, but we didn’t let on that we had a duplicate set. They thought they kept all the seismic data, but we didn’t let on that we had a duplicate set.
They didn’t even want to see our notes, phones, or cameras. They just wanted us gone.
So, fuck it, we left.
After several of our European counterparts had departed for Scandinavia, Great Britain, and the Iberian Peninsula; Dax, Ivan, Morse, and I were left to discuss the situation.
“It’s really too bad they tossed us out”, I said, “All that work, and we never even got to the point where we could present conclusions.”
Dax agreed, “All that work, down the tubes. They don’t know what to do with the data much less interpret it. All they have to do is ask, but I guarantee that will never happen. They’re too damned ‘proud’.”
Dr. Academician Ivan replies, “Is true. However, I doubt they would like our conclusions, even with additional fieldwork. All indications are that there is virtually no recoverable hydrocarbons in either northern basin. Tectonics all wrong, structural setting the same.”
Dr. Morse adds, “Yes, it is not a good place to hunt for oil and gas. We all felt that going in, and with the work we’ve done, we were finding more negative indications. Perhaps is good thing we leave. We tell them there’s no use to bother looking for oil and gas in their country, they might be sore wrought.”
I continue with, “However, Comrades, there is great potential there for alternative energy sources. They have the perfect set-up geologically to exploit ‘hot, dry rock’. Drill a few deep water injector wells in those Late Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic massifs. Then inject water into fissures and produce live steam at 25,000 psi through producer wells. A project-site power plant at the surface uses the produced steam heat energy to drive turbines through a generator; boom, instant rural electrification It’d be a bird's nest on the ground for them. But, they didn’t want to listen, and well…”
The waiter arrives and we all order another round. Drs. Ivan and Morse tell us they must be off after this drink. They are leaving very early in the morning for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, then catch a connecting flight to Moscow. We finish the round, shake hands, exchange business cards and it just me and the goofy Canuck left in the restaurant.
“Dax, let us relocate. It’s too airish here”, I say.
Dax agrees and we retire to the Charles H. Baker bar in the hotel’s lower level.
“Ah”, I note, “This is more like it. Just like Pyongyang.” I say and fire up a newly-purchased cigar.
Dax has finally had enough and bums one off of me.
“Why, Dr. Dax, I never…” I joked.
“I gots to know”, he smiled back, “What is so fucking fascinating with these things.”
I offer him a clip and a light. After his color returns, it tell him “Puff. Don’t inhale.”
Dax will be leaving for Calgary the next night. I’m stuck until I hear from rack and Ruin, though I don’t tell Dax that. The Middle East is still under lockdown. They will try in the next couple of days to get me as far as Dubai. After that, they suggest I walk or rent a camel.
Agents Rack and Ruin are just loving this.
“So, Rock. When you headed back?” Dax asks.
“Couple-three days, I fear. I’ll be stuck here, on someone else’s nickel, in this tawdry 5-star dump until then”, I snicker.
“Then what? Dax asks, “I hear you’re between contracts.”
“Well…Doctor CanaDax. There’s going to be some changes in the Rocknocker abode and address.” I say.
“How so?” he asks.
“Well, after long deliberation and multiple conferences with my prime marital unit, we’ve decided to leave the Middle East once and for all.”
“Hell. You’ve been there…damn, forever. What is it? 15-16 years?” Dax asks.
“More like the shy side of 20,” I reply.
“Damn, that’s a near forever. Then what?” he continues.
“Sell up. Get rid of a lot of accumulated shit. We’re going to sell our place in New Mexico; in fact, that’s a done deal. Then, I’m going back to school.”
“What? For what? You’re already Dr. Rock.” Dax protests.
“Going to be Dr. of Science Rock. Going back for a DSC. Then, academia. A full tenured professorship with research at a top-notch northern university. That’s it, and a few other odds and bobs, but that’s the skinny. We’re going back to the states, I go back to school for a year or so, then it’s Professor Dr. Rocknocker BSc, MSc, Ph.D., D.Sc. Impressed?”
“Yes, I am.” He replied.
“Fuckin-A, Bubba. You should be…” I smile back between sips of some fine Russian vodka. “You should be…”
END
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