Aug. 7th, 2011


Aug. 7th, 2011 05:19 pm
The trip from Southampton has been uneventful; the passengers seem content and the captain is satisfied with the craft's performance. And well he should be, because _Ginormous_ is the largest, most luxurious iceberg afloat. Fitted out with all the most current technological marvels, this vehicle represents the state of the art in trans-oceanic travel. Over two thousand souls have paid tremendous sums to sail on this, our maiden voyage, and the crew is determined to ensure that their passage is as comfortable as possible.

I enjoy dinner at the captain's table. The dining hall is splendid, a vaulted cavern hollowed from the very heart of the floe, which was harvested from the thickest ice-shelves of Ireland. The new electric lamps are everywhere, and they transform the hall into the gleaming interior of a crystal chandelier. Food is served on silver plates, which are placed on block-ice tables that are hewn anew from the iceberg's body every morning. The captain stubs out his cigar on the table's edge and addresses me.

"And how are you enjoying the transit, good doctor?" he says, smiling indulgently. "Would you not agree that the Grey Sigil Line's hospitality is second to none?"

"Most assuredly, sir," I reply affably. "The luxuries aboard _Ginormous_ are beyond comparison. A swimming pool, two curling courts, even a bathtub made of sterling silver – life aboard this cruise is indeed marvelous." The other guests at the table murmur their agreement.

"Of course, I remain focused on the issue that caused the Admiralty Board to place me aboard in the first place," I continue delicately. "There is the small matter of safety and disaster preparedness."

"Oh, pooh," replies the captain huffily. "The very idea of any sort of disaster impacting this conveyance at all is almost too fantastic to deserve contemplation. We are a solid block of ice, sir, and as enormous as we appear above the water line, I shall remind you that there remains nine-tenths below the water that you cannot see. We are as solid aboard _Ginormous_ as we should be standing on solid ground, my good doctor, and as for those news-papers that have proclaimed this berg 'Unsinkable' -- well, I give a tip of my fur hat to them for accurate reporting!"

He accepts the general chuckle at the table with good grace. I smile, but remain uncertain.

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My friend Brett passed away this week. I'm sad about this. He was an imperfect person, like most people, but he was still pretty awesome, unlike almost all of them. We were not terrifically close (my choice) but I enjoyed the time we spent together. I will miss him.

In going over my memories of Brett, I decided the most fitting thing I could say would be to repost a little bit of a report I wrote from the first time I met him in person. This is one of my favorite memories of Brett and it dates back to 1994 in Houston.


We met Brian **** at the Rothko chapel, a building filled with canvases
that are entirely black. We looked at them some. A pretentious artsy
oriental woman proceeded to be strange in our presence.

"Which one appeals to you the most?" she asked. I looked at them. They
were all entirely black, although close examination showed differing
patterns of brushstrokes. "Uh, they're all different, but I'm not sure."

She was persistent. "Which one seems to you to be the most characteristically
*Rothko*?" she demanded. I gaped. Mark pointed to one: "I like the frame
on that one." Artsy Woman seemed overjoyed.

"Yes!" she said. "Also, that's the only one that projects *tranquility*.
Rothko is best known for his tranquil style." She wandered off.

I looked again at the paintings. They were still all black. I found them
all pretty tranquil, quite frankly, and was quick to write Artsy Woman off
as a schmuck in black clothing.

We pottered around in another museum before returning to the Rothko to
meet Sean ******* and Brett *******. "What did you think of the Rothko?"
I asked sneeringly.

"I liked it," replied Brett, "and I always have. I guess I'm the
only one who enjoyed it?"

I backpedalled. "Well, the main thing that bugged me was the Artsy Woman
who made silly artistic distinctions. She claimed that one of the paintings
was more tranquil than the others."

"That would be the one on the South wall," replied Brett. He was referring
to the same painting Artsy Woman had liked.

"My God!" I said, truly thunderstruck. With a mounting sense of awe and
terror, I lurched around the front of the Rothko for a few moments.

"It actually MEANS something!"


And that would be my friend Brett, a guy capable of seeing things that I could not see and understanding concepts well beyond my grasp.

I have not seen Brett in many years, but I always expected to see him again. It bothers me that I won't get the chance.

Brett, I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't think you're looking down on us in any meaningful fashion. But if I'm wrong and you find yourself in possession of some form of consciousness and perceptive faculties, I hope you're someplace interesting, clean, well-organized and with plenty of like-minded people to rub brains with. You deserve it.

Adios, muchacho.



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